1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2:30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Australian Foodstuffs and Horses for the use of the Admiralty and War Office.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Telegraph or Telephone Lines : New Regulations Customs Act 1901 : Regulations.
Bill read a . third time.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow:-
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Governor-General’s Salary. - Statement by the Times.
London, 1st September.
The Times, this morning, commenting upon the return to his home of the Earl of Hopetoun, refers to the circumstances which led up to his recall from the Commonwealth.If Australia, it says, is reluctant to provide asalary proportionate to the vice-regal magnificence expected, it may be necessary to appoint an eminnent person whose qualifications do not include a large private fortune, and whose expenditure will be conditioned by his salary.
Times’ suggestion, and the innuendo contained therein, that Australians desire the appointment of a Governor-General whose qualifications include a large private fortune ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to call the attention of Senator O’Connor to the order of Government business, and to ask him whether it is desirable that the consideration of the House of Representatives amendments in the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill should be interposed in the middle of the debate on an amendment to clause 151 of the Electoral Bill? I would suggest to him whether it would not be better to dispose of that amendment in the Electoral Bill than to proceed to consider the amendments in the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill with the effect of postponing the consideration of the amendments in the other Bill perhaps indefinitely.
– The Government think it desirable that the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill should become law at the earliest possible moment, and as they have to consider some amendments of the other House they propose to take that measure first, and then to resume the consideration of the amendments in the Electoral Bill.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I move -
That Order of the Dav No. 2 be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3.
The reasons I mentioned just now are those which I offer for submitting this motion. We woro practically at the end of a debate, which had occupied a long time,ona very important amendment to a clause of the Electoral Bill, and most honorable Senatot’s have come prepared to deal with it. Our minds are full of that question, and it would be well to have it settled at the earliest possible moment. I quite appreciate what Senator O’Connor said as to the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill,and I have no objection to the amendments in that measure being considered after clause 151 of the Electoral Bill has been dealt with. We ought to get off with the old love, so to speak, before we are on with the new. Senator O’CONNOR. - Senator Symon has adopted the unusual course of making a motion which, if carried, will have the effect of taking the control of business out of the hands of the Government. No doubt he thinks he can do that, but I certainly shall oppose any such proposition. The Government have the responsibility of arranging the business on the notice-paper, and my honorable colleague and myself, after considering the whole position, have given precedence to the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill. Lost night we were engaged in discussing a very important amendment to clause 151 of the Electoral Bill. We had not got to near the end of the debate, for I take it that there are several honorable senators who wish to speak. Certainly there will be a good deal more discussion before thequestionis decided, and that was the reason why progress was reported last night. We might very well have continued sitting last night if there had been any probability of finishing the debate within a reasonable time, but there was not. If there was any prospect that by dealing first with the Electoral Bill we could complete our . consideration of the amendments and return the measure to the other House, there might be some reason in the suggestion of my honorable and learned friend, but there is no chance of that being done. It will necessarily take some hours yet to discuss the remaining amendments in the Electoral Bill. Several important questions have yet to be considered, and the probability is that it will take some hours, if not the whole of this sitting - it may be longerto conclude the consideration of the amendments. The . honorable and learned sena-‘ tor supposes that we are to plunge into a long discussion.
SenatorFraser. - Dispose of the clause.
-We shall not dispose of the clause at present unless a majority of the Senate compels us to do so.
– If the honorable and learned senator will agree to dispose of the clause, I do not wish to press the motion.
– Certainly not. If the honorable and learned senator thinks that he can take the control of the business out of the hands of the Government, he had better do it, but I shall not consent to it. The Postmaster-General assures me that it ought not to take very long to deal with the amendments of the other House in the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill.
SenatorSir Frederick Sargood. - Oh, yes, it will !
– My honorable and learned colleague is, I think, just as good an authority - perhaps very much better on that point -as is the honorable senator. He tells me that it will not take more than a couple of hours to deal with the amendments.
– It would not take more than ton minutes if we swallowed them at once.
– Even if it should take the whole evening, surely a measure which involves very important questions, and affects the- business of persons all over the Commonwealth, ought to be dealt with at the earliest possible moment. Exercising our judgment, we say that it ought to be considered and returned to the other House, and then we shall be in a position to go on with the Electoral Bill. I cannot understand the anxiety of Senator Symon to proceed with the Electoral Bill at once. There must be some tactical reason behind his motion. Probably he is afraid’ that he may lose some votes if it is not proceeded with at once. Probably he thinks that there is some party or tactical advantage to be gained by taking this course. Otherwise he has offered no reason in support of his proposal. If the Senate were to adopt his view, and, in order to give him some tactical advantage in the matter of the Electoral Bill, it were to delay the completion of the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill, it would be allowing itself to be made a tool of for the party purposes of honorable senators, who wish to defeat the proposals of the Government. I object to the motion.
– I hope that Senator Symon will see the wisdom of withdrawing his motion. I do not think that he has any sinister object in taking this course. I think it has been taken without very much thought on his part. I know that a number of honorable sena- tors are desirious of debating the question at considerable length. If the Senate had been of opinion that the matter under discussion last night would be ended quickly, the sitting would have been extended beyond ten o’clock. The Post and Telegraph Bates Bill is not of so contentious a character as the Electoral Bill, and as the business of the country really requires the passage of the measure, it is desirable that its machinery should be put into operation immediately. There is no need to pass the Electoral Bill so quickly, because some time will elapse before there will be any necessity for putting it into operation. Every one hopes that the death or resignation of a Member of Parliament will not necessitate an election in the near future. I, therefore, request Senator Symon to withdraw hia motion, and let us get through with the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill as soon as possible.
– It seems to me that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has adopted tactics which he has usedbefore, and has offered criticisms upon matters which were not touched upon by Senator Symon. Our position is that, as we have reached a certain stage in the discussion of one of the clauses in the Electoral Bill, it is a fit and proper thing to finish that discussion before we take up new business. When the Electoral Bill was first introduced, we were told that it was a matter of extreme urgency. I did not share that belief, but I made no undue attempt to burke it. My conscience is clear on that point. What is now proposed is far more likely to delay the passage of the measure than anything which has previously occurred. There has been so much delay in connexion with the Electoral Bill that it may now be regarded as urgent that it should become law as soon as possible. We now find, however, that those honorable senators who were formerly so anxious to have the measure passed are doubtful about it, because in its present form the Bill is not so pleasant as they thought it was going to be.
– I hasten to relieve the troubled conscience of Senator Clemons, and to assure him that my own conscience is quite clear in connexion with the Electoral Bill. I have no qualms in determining to support the Government on this occasion. If Senator Symbn’s motion is carried it will be a distinct vote of censure upon the Government. If a similar motion were carried in the House of Bepresentatives, the Government would have to tender their resignation; and, although that course would not be followed in the Senate, the carrying of the motion would be a distinct expression of opinion that the representatives of the Government were not fit to direct the conduct of business. I am aware of no reason that would justify honorable senators in taking such action. Therefore, if for no other reason, I urge honorable . senators, whether they believe in the policy of the Government or not, certainly not to take extreme action of the kind proposed.
– I hope that the motion proposed by the. leader of the Opposition will not be passed. There is one particular reason why the order of business laid down by the Government should be followed. In the first place, the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill was passed by the Senate some months back, and was sent to another place. After a delay it has been dealt with by them. Undoubtedly the people of Australia are waiting for a final settlement of the matter. At present we ‘have a variety- of -postal and- telegraphic rates prevailing in the different States. In the interests of the commercial community and the people generally- it is desirable that uniform rates- should be adopted as early as possible; No doubt it is also ‘desirable that we should have a uniform electoral law. Senator Clemons, however, is hardly correct in his criticism of the desire of some honorable senators : to- have the Electoral Bill dealt with at an early- stage. The question ‘.is’ not whether we shall get the Electoral Bill through quickly, but whether that Bill shall be -passed this session’ or riot. The people of Australia are not waiting for a uniform electoral law as they are for uniform postal and telegraph rates. I hope that that Bill will very soon be placed ‘ upon the statute-book, in order that the people may be enabled to reap the benefit of amalgamation in the postal and telegraphic system of the Commonwealth.
– We were assured earlier in the session that it was a matter of extreme urgency that the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill should become law at the earliest’ possible date. Notwithstanding that, I find that the Bill was reported with amendments from the committee of the Senate on the 11th December, 1901. That is to say, more than nine months ago this Bill was dealt with, and sent to the other Chamber, where the Government have dilly-dallied with it. Since then, I believe, it has been much improved. Now that it has been returned to the Senate, the Vice-President of the Executive Council is seized with an earnest desire to have it made law immediately. Certainly, as it has been on the stocks for about a year, it is about time that it should become law, but there is no reason why it should be passed at the expense of the Electoral Bill, which, when it was previously before us, was also said to be a matter of urgent importance. The fact appears to be that, in consequence of certain amendments which have been made in the Electoral Bill, some honorable senators; who formerly were very anxious that it should become law, have grown very luke-warm, and do not want it to be passed in the shape it will assume after it has been dealt with by the Senate. Why has not Senator O’Connor given us some reasons for postponing the Electoral Bill, instead of saying merely that the Government desire to postpone it 1 I have not yet seen the amendments to the Post and ‘Telegraph Rates Bill* Honorable senators have not yet got the Bill: in its amended form upon their files. Is it a> fair thing to call upon us to deal with that measure before we have the amendments, brought under our notice? -Why not give a> reasonable time for the consideration of the. amendments of the House df Representa’tives so as to allow honorable senators ta make up- -their minds concerning them ?
– They were circulated days- ago.
– The. message was only sent .up from another place yesterday; Has any honorable senator seen- acopy of the Bill as amended ?
– - 1 received a copy this morning.
-And we are called upon to -consider’ it this afternoon, although there ‘ is other- business which might well be taken first. It is most unreasonable for tho Government to try and push the Senate into this position. We should have the fullest opportunity to consider every measure brought forward.We should not have a’ Bill like this called on at a moment’s notice,- and be compelled to run the risk of passing a clause which, upon full consideration, we might consider undesirable.
– I can-, not understand the impetuosity of certain honorable senators, having regard to the attitude adopted by them when the Electoral Bill was first brought before- the Senate. I remember that on that occasion Senator Symon inquired with great earnestness whether the Government expected to pass it, and it was said that there was no possibility of it becoming law. Some honorable senators of the Opposition wished it at the bottom of the sea ; but because they have succeeded in striking out of it an important provision relating to proportional representation and in modifying it in other directions - and because they see victory within their grasp - they are now anxious that it should not be delayed. They desire to at once obtain the benefit of it. I caa understand the anxiety- manifested by Senator Clemons, but I cannot account for such youthful enthusiasm on the part of a mature politician like Senator Symon, who has not suffered by delay to the same extend as Senator Clemons- hae done. He knows the dangers of delay, and wants to see the clause ‘ relating to plumping settled at once. Men may change their minds, and the honorable and learned senator may have reason to return to Tasmania before the Bill is finally dealt with.
– He has counted heads and knows there are twenty honorablesenators who will not say another word in regard to clause 151 if we at once proceed with it. Therefore, he is anxious that it should be taken at once. One fine afternoon Senator Clemons, seeing that everything in the garden was lovely, went away to Tasmania, and during his absence the Senate did the right thing. I. do not see that either Senator Clemons, or Senator Symon, have any reason to fear the passage of the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill. No doubt, if we take it now, it will occasion a delay of one or two days in dealing with the Electoral Bill, but the Opposition have the numbers with them, and surely they ought to be satisfied to wait. We are not in a hurry to see the plumping clause put under the guillotine, and we are very glad that the Government find it necessary to take the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill first. A vote of censure would not count for much inthisHouse, but still there is a means of destroying the prestige of the Government, and that means is in the hands of the Opposition.
– The Government’s prestige is already destroyed.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion.
– Hands off property.
– There is no necessity for us to aid Senator Symon in his desire to besmirch the good name and honesty of the Government by this means. Apparently, we have plenty of time before us ; and as we have been here already for nearly sixteen months, there is no occasion for any violent hurry.
– I complain that the Government have taken the Senate by surprise. Honorable senators came here this afternoon, believing that the debate on clause 151 of the Electoral Bill would be continued, and I think the Senate has a right to complain. I came here at great personal inconvenience, and, possibly, loss, in order to conclude the debate upon that clause ; but the Government wish to break in upon that debate, which had nearly been concluded when we adjourned last night. The Government, knowing perfectly well that there is a large majority against them, have done what very many Governments do - they have changed their tactics. They have set down another measure for consideration prior to that which was so hotly discussed last night, and which should have been dealt withimmediately the Senate met this afternoon. If clause 151 of the Electoral Bill were disposed of, I do not think that the remainder of the amendments would occupy, our attention for any length of time. Therefore, I contend that the Government, and not the Opposition, are to blame for the confusion which has occurred. When the Bill was first before us, clause 151 was debated for some time ; then the measure was sent to the House of Representatives, where it was further discussed, and now that the Bill has been returned, and the Government know that they have a large majority against them, they wish to change their tactics. . That is not honorable. It is not fair to the Senate. 1 object to the course proposed by the Government, and I simply interjected, while another honorable senator was speaking, that the Government should be compelled to do what they ought to have done without any request being made.
– I have not been in Parliament for as many months as the years during which Senator Symon has been a member, but I have always understood that a motion of the kind now before us was certainly a vote of censure on the Government. That is the light in which I view it, and if Senator Symon were the leader of the Government, and I were one of his supporters, I should certainly vote as I intend to vote now. The consideration that the motion is practically one of censure is the only one which will prompt me to vote as I intend to do. The question of whether the Electoral Bill or the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill is the more important is a minor matter. The Government propose to change the order . of business, and although it may be very inconvenient to some honorable senators, and especially to Senator Fraser, to attend here, I would remind the honorable senator that there are others who also suffer inconvenience and personal lossby being kept here month after month. I cannot regard this motion in any light other than that in which it is viewed by Senator Dawson and several others . who have spoken in a similar strain, and therefore I shall vote against it.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Senate to the condition under which the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill was first introduced here. It was brought forward and pressed through the second reading and committee stages in one afternoon. The schedule showing the rates which prevail in the various States of the Commonwealth was only circulated amongst honorable senators whilst the debate was in progress. Indeed, I believe it was not distributed until after we had reached the committee stage.
– A good many honorable senators had received it before.
– That is tantamount to an admission that the Senate generally did not receive those details. If Hansard is referred to, it will be found that I protested strongly against the Postand Telegraph Rates Bill being forced through under such conditions. There can be no doubt that the Bill was sent on to another place without being sufficiently considered, and that many of the amendments made by another place were very necessary. It is once more before the Senate ; but, instead of having the Bill as amended, we have simply a schedule showing the amendments, and we have to compare the Bill with the schedule, in order to discover the changes which have been made. Therefore we can enter upon the consideration of the amendments of another place only with a repetition of the unsatisfactory conditions which existed when the measure was first introduced.
Senator- Drake. - The amended Bill has been distributed.
– It has apparently been printed, but I have not seen a copy. Since the matter was first mentioned, I have been engaged in correcting my original copy of the Bill. In these circumstances, I think that the most reasonable course for the VicePresident of the Executive Council to pursue would be to consent to the proposal made from this side of the Senate, and to allow the business to be taken in the order which it was expected last night would be observed.
– I should like to add a word or two to what has been stated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to the desirability of pressing on with this Bill. It ‘is quite true, as has been pointed out by Senator Keating, that thereis a desire throughout Australia that this Bill shall quickly become law in order that the people may enjoy the advantages of the reduced rates which it provides for. Any delay now in sending the Bill back to the other Chamber, may lead to further delay there.
– We should be collecting postage on New South Wales newspapers now.
– I intend to say a word with regard to the New South Walesnewspapers. If we miss a day or twoin sending our message back to the House of Representatives, it may resultin a much longer delay there, and a substantial loss to the people of Australia in being unable for the time to enjoy the lower rates provided. I have had a representation made to me from another quarter, from the representatives of the Sydney newspaper proprietors, thatI should give them as long a notice as possible. But I cannot tell them when the Bill will come into force until it is passed, because it will be brought intooperation by proclamation. If I now fix a date upon which to bring the Bill intooperation, ‘every day’s additional delay will mean that the newspaper proprietors will have so much less notice. They are askingfor as long a notice as possible upon very reasonable grounds, because they have been accustomed to the free postage of newspapers, and are consequently relying upon the Government to distribute their newspapers. As soon as this Bill becomes law, it will be necessary for them to make their own arrangements for the carriage of newspapers in parcels, and they are necessarily anxious to be given ample notice of the change. In order to meet them, I have said that I will give them as long a notice as I can, consistent with the general desire on the part of the public to obtain the advantage of the lower rates proposed. I have given instructions also that they shall be furnished with all the information available in the office to assist them in their efforts to accommodate themselves to the new state of things. I am inclined to think that the difficulty would not have been raised if it had been simply a matter of dealing with these amendments. In the first place, it has been no unusual thing for the Senate to break off the consideration of a Bill in the middle of a discussion upon a certain clause. As a matter of fact, on some occasions the discussion upon a particular clause has been adjourned again and again. If, as Senator Gould tells us, the discussion upon the particular clause of the Electoral Bill which has been referred to has already occupied two days, what guarantee can the honorable and learned senator give that it will shortly be finished ? Had it not been for the fact that in conversation with one or two honorable senators I believed that there was no chance of the discussion concluding at an early hour last evening, we probably would not have adjourned the consideration of the clause as we did. If there had been any prospect of our being able to have come to a conclusion on it inhalf-an-hour or so, I have not the slightest doubt that we would have gone on and finished it last night.
– We were very nearly dividing last night.
– Not at all. So far as I could observe there was no prospect of such a thing. The speeches up to ten o’clock were lengthy; and two or three honorable senators still desired to speak upon the subject.
– Iwas on my feet.
– As the honorable senator says, he was on his feet desiring to speak.
– Very reluctantly, and the honorable senator had a conference with the Vice-President of the Executive Council before that.
– No, I had not. I had no conference with any one.
– I know that Senator Dawson was desirous of speaking, because I had seen him make the attempt to do so more than once. Senator Pulsford tells us that when this Post and Telegraph Rates Bill was previously before the Senate it went through the second reading and committee stages in one sitting. I think that is correct, and I think also that if honorable senators were in their usual business-like frame of mind they could put these amendments through in a couple of hours.
– I said the Bill was forced through without sufficient discussion.
– These amendments are, to a great extent, amendments of detail, and in nearly every case the matter dealt with has been discussed over and over again.
What is proposed simply amounts to some reductions upon the rates to which we agreed when the Bill was previously before the Senate. The delay which has taken place in the other Chamber in connexion with this Bill has not been due to any slackness on the part of the Government, bub to the fact that when the Bill was sent up to the House of Representatives some questions arose, and more particularly one with reference to the State of Tasmania, which required considerable negotiations before the Government were justified in deciding what course. they should adopt in connexion with the Bill.
– They had to hang it up for the Premiers’ Conference.
– The Premiers’ Conference had a great deal to do with it ; but it was afterwards found necessary that the Government should negotiate with the Governments of the different States, and when replies had been received from them there was no delay whatever in going on with the Bill. The House ofRepresentatives then dealt with it very expeditiously, as we did, and it went through the committee stage in that Chamber in the course of two or three hours. Now that it comes back tous, it is not, I think, unreasonable to ask the Senate to deal with it expeditiously, so that the matter may be settled and the Bill proclaimed as early as possible. I can see no difficulty in the way of doing what is proposed, and I feel that under ordinary circumstances the Senate would be prepared to consider the amendments without any delay. I hope there will be no delay upon this occasion.
– We can easily understand the anxiety of the Minister in charge of this Bill to have it passed ; but I ask whether it is fair to expect honorable senators to deal at once with all these amendments, not one of which I suppose has been read. I find that they were only printed yesterday, and circulated this morning. . I received a copy of the amendments this morning, but so certain was I that the Bill with which we were dealing last night, would be brought on again to-day, that I did not bring my copy of the amendments upon this Bill into the Chamber.
– It will be found that the amendments do not present any difficulty when they are explained.
-Senator Drake tells us that the amendments deal with matters of detail, but I find that very important amendments have been made, and I have had no opportunity of consulting those interested in commerce to obtain their views upon them . I do not think that, under the circumstances, the honorable ‘and learned senator will deny that it is reasonable for myself and other honorable senators to ask for time to consider these amendments. Some are of an important character, and they require considerable attention and prior inquiry. The honorable and learned senator has certainly up to the present not shown any burning anxiety to get through with this measure. Whence this new-born zeal ?
– I have never shown any slackness in pushing it on.
– I am aware that the courtesy should be extended to the Minister in charge of a Bill of allowing him to bring it on for consideration when he thinks fit. I recognise also that that courtesy is due’ to the Vice-President of the Executive Council in connexion with the other Bill. But in proposing so sudden a change from the consideration of one Bill to the consideration of the other, the honorable and learned senator is not consulting the convenience of the majority of the members of the Senate. I do not think that the course which has been adopted will enable us to discuss the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill as satisfactorily as we should be able to do if we were given time to look through the amendments and they were brought on for discussion on Tuesday next. I have always made it a rule in Parliament to extend the courtesy to the Minister of allowing him to deal with a Bill as he thinks best. I hope that the same courtesy will be extended in this case to the Vice-President of the’ Executive Council, but I do deprecate the action the honorable and learned senator has taken in suddenly interrupting the consideration of another Bill in the middle of the debate upon a very important clause in order to bring on for consideration amendments in the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, which we have never seen, and which we are now asked to consider without five minutes’ notice, though they involve a considerableamount of taxation’ upon the public in the different States.
– It is remission of taxation that is proposed, so far as the changes are concerned.
-The honorable and learned senator knows what amendments . are proposed, and I do not.
– I always like to treat the members of the Government with due courtesy, but I think the Senate has a right to expect similar courtesy from members of the Government. I do not think that we have to-day been, treated with the courtesy which is due to the Senate. This Bill comes to us now really as a’ stranger. We have not kept the matter in our minds, and we are asked to deal with these amendments without having had time to consider their effect upon the commercial and industrial interests of the community. Seeing that the Government have acted in this manner, I feel that in order to maintain the dignity of the Senate, we should oppose the action proposed, and if the motion is pushed to a division I shall vote for it.
– After the very direct statement of the leader of the Government in this Chamber, I am surprised that Senator Symon has not withdrawn his motion. The honorable and learned senator evidently has not considered the position in which he would place both himself and the Government.
– The honorable and learned senator has exposed the tactics of the Government at any rate.
– The reason for the tactics of honorable senators opposite is obvious enough.
– If Senator Symon’s motion is carried, it will take the conduct of the business of this Chamber out of the hands of the Government, and will place it entirely in the hands of the Opposition. We shall have this extraordinary state of affairs, that in one Chamber the Government will control the business, and in the other Chamber the Opposition will control it. I do not think that even Senator Symon himself, can. wish to bring about such an anomalous and such an unworkable state of affairs. I think that the representatives of the Government here have given very good reasons, why the consideration of the Electoral Bill should be postponed at the present stage, and the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill should be taken up. Senator demonshas reminded us that honorable senators were very urgent about pushing on the Electoral Bill at one particular portion of the session. No doubt we were, and if those of us who are anxious to see electoral reform carried, thought that by any means the Electoral Bill would be shelved, we should still be anxious to see it through. But we know that the Electoral Bill is all right, and that there is no particular urgency about it. We know that even if a member of the House of Representatives dies, even though the Bill were passed into law, the election of a successor would not take place under the Commonwealth law, but under the law of the State of which the deceased member was a representative. It will therefore be seen that there is no special urgency about the matter. On the contrary, in regard to the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, I believe that, as with the Tariff, the electors of the Commonwealth are exceedingly anxious that the telegraphic and postal rates should be settled, so that they may know exactly where they stand. We know that the Government are losing a large amount of revenue throughthis Bill being hung up. The newspapers of New South Walesare being carried free atpresent, whereas if the measure in ourhandsis passed, alarge amount of revenue will be derived through the Postal department from that source.
– And the readers of the newspapers will not pay any more.
– That is not a matter with which we are particularly concerned. There is a very strong reason why the Government should take this course. I was exceedingly surprised at the attitude taken bySenator Fraser. He said that he has come here this afternoon at great personal inconvenience, thinking that the discussion on theamendments in the Electoral Bill was to be continued. If he had chosen to be absent, I do not think that any of us in this corner would have missed him. We could have well spared him in the circumstances. He has let us see clearly what is passing in his mind. The Electoral Bill is of much more consequence to him than the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill. He inconvenienced himself very much to attend this afternoon - no doubt to vote against what he regards as some of the too liberal provisions in the Electoral Bill. Before he stood for election to the Senate he should have considered all these matters. If he thought that he could not attend to the public business without loss and inconvenience to himself he should have remained in private life. It is out of place for honorable senators to say that they come here at inconvenience to themselves. Supposing that one of Senator Fraser’s workmen said to him one morning that he had come to work at great inconvenience to himself, what would he say?
– I would let him go if I could.
– The honorable senator would simply say - “You can go about your business. I do not want a man who only comes along when it pleases him.’’
– Not at all.
– That is exactly the position in which the honorable senator is. He is doing things which he would not tolerate for an instant in an employe. Hecomes here when he pleases himself he remains absent when he pleases himself, and I suppose he draws his money all the time.
– Does the honorablesenator think that his remarks are relevant to the question?
– He is always personal.
– Whatever loss of time has occurred this afternoon may be fairly laid at the door of the Opposition. If Senator Symon had not in this unconstitutional fashion attempted to take the business out of the hands of the Government, probably the discussion on the amendments in the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill would have been finished by now. Even if the motion is carried, where will Senator Symon be ? He will not be one inch further advanced than he is. He may get a majority against the Government, but he cannot compel them to alter the business-paper. He and his supporters must see that it is. their duty to allow the Government to control the order of business as it thinks, proper.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (In reply) - Senator Stewart having effectually wasted the time of the Senate for about a quarter of an hour in discussing everything but the motion, even some of the private affairs of Senator Fraser, and having been called to order, I think we may fairly come to the real question; which cannot justifiably be mixed up with any consideration of courtesy or otherwise to Senator O’Connor. The motion was not moved from any motive of that kind, but, on the contrary, after a request to him, for reasons which are obvious, and which have been stated by several speakers, that the consideration of the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill ought to be postponed. I have not heard one reason given why that should not have been done. The attitude which has been adopted by Ministers is neither fair nor courteous to the Senate. It is not calculated to promote the discussion of these measures ; and it is not calculated to expedite the passage of the Post and Telegraph Bates Bill. Senator Drake gave as a reason some extraordinary chaotic notion of his own about giving notice to the newspapers in New South Wales. What has that to do with the question of considering the Bill to-day, or on Tuesday, or Wednesday next? Absolutely nothing. It is perfectly immaterial when the Bill is finally considered. That notice, I presume, will have to be given. When we remember that the Bill, which has been long in abeyance, which, in a certain sense, has been asleep, like Rip Van Winkle, for many months, is suddenly revived without any notice, on a message from the other House, received late last night under circumstances which prevented the possibility of our having the amendments before us, or our having an opportunity to consider the print of the Bill showing the amendments, it would have been a fair and courteous thing to the Senate for Ministers to have said - “Very well, we will postpone the consideration of the Bill until the other order of the day has been disposed of.” But instead of meeting us fairly in that -way - and I am very glad that we have had this opportunity of protesting most emphatically against the disarrangement of the business - the paper has not been arranged for the convenience of the Senate, which is the first thing to be considered. Some honorable senators have told us, as Senator Keating did, almost with tears in his eyes, that we are taking the business out of the hands of the Government. Surely the Senate has a say in the order of business for its own convenience, and when that expression of opinion is given by the Senate it is only right that the Ministers should yield to it, and give every possible facility for the proper transaction of the business. One honorable senator said that we were besmirching the good name - I suppose he meant the political good name - of my honorable friends at the table. That was sufficiently answered by an interjection of SenatorFraser’s, that there is noprestigeto be besmirched. Therefore, I need say nothing further on that ground. I am also told that the motion, if carried, would be equivalent to a vote of censure. I have not the least wish to pass any censure on the Government, and I certainly have no desire to take the control of business out of their hands, but I do submit that the Senate should express very emphatically its opinion, as it has done, about such an arrangement of the business as precludes the possibility of continuity in the consideration of questions. Senator Drake has referred to the debate last night on an amendment to clause 151 of the Electoral Bill. All the stuffing was knocked out of it by the speech of Senator Playford. There was not a squeak, if I mayusea common expression, in the supporters of plumping after that speech was delivered. I entirely disagree with the contention of Senator Drake that the debate was not nearly finished last night, that it might have been continued for a considerable time, and that if resumed to-day it might have continued much longer. I venture to say that if resumed to-day it would have been concluded in the briefest possible time, because all the stuffing was knocked out of it last night by the speech of Senator Playford, as is admitted by Senator Higgs, who says that he is agreeable to the interposition of the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, because it will delay the fall of the guillotine on the plumping proposal for a few days longer. Senator O’Connor said that I had some tactical reason for submitting this motion. I had none whatever. It is conceded on all hands that there is a big majority against plumping. If anything in the way of tactics has been introduced it has been by Senator O’Connor and his friends, who are supporting the plumping amendment. They are in terror of the immediate determination of the question by the Senate, and they hope that by a few days’ delay they may be able to change the opinion of some absentees with the view of perhaps snatching a catch verdict.
– There is no foundation for that statement.
– I have a far better authority for the statement than my honorable and learned friend had for his sneer about my motive being a tactical one, with the view of securing votes in favour of my contention. Ihavethe authority of Senator Higgs, who rejoices that the consideration of the Electoral Bill will be put off for another day or two to save the guillotine from descending on the plumping proposal. When my honorable and learned friend says that I have no foundation for my statement, I reply that I have the foundation of his own suggestion to me, and the foundation of his supporter, Senator Higgs, who supports the idea of plumping.
SenatorO’Connor. - I am not responsible for his conduct.
– My honorable and learned friend is not responsible for the view of Senator Higgs, but when he says we are submitting this motion for a tactical reason, I invite him to consider what his supporter says, who is largely interested in the question of plumping. I have no wish to increase the load of censure always resting on the Government. I dc not wish to add one straw to that load or their backs ; therefore I ask leave to with draw the motion.
– I object.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration of the House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Amendment in clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Rates to be paid on Government correspondence).
– The committee is aware that a request was made some time ago by the Queensland Government that telegraph messages with regard to meteorological information should be allowed to pass over the wires in that State free for a certain period. The matter was very carefully considered, and seeing that the Meteorological department in Queensland, under Mr. Wragge, had been in the habit of publishing weather forecasts, which were highly valued throughout Australia, it was considered that it would be almost a public misfortune if that work should suddenly cease. The Queensland Government proposed to subsidize Mr. Wragge’s work to a considerable extent, and they requested that telegrams might be permitted to be carried free. It was arranged to allow the telegrams to go free to the extent of £3,500 per annum, pending the passing of this Bill. The amendment carried in the House of Representatives provides that, subject to regulations, meteorological telegrams may be transmitted without charge, until the establishment of a Commonwealth Metorogical department. The arrangement is of a temporary nature, and I think that no one, who knows the value of the work done by Mr. Wragge, will dispute the fact that public service will be rendered by allowing his messages to be transmitted without charge. I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives adding the words - “ Subject to such regulations as the Government may prescribe, telegrams may be transmitted without charge on behalf of the Meteorological department of, or subsidized by a State until the establishment of a Commonwealth Meteorological department. “
– No one is more sensible than I am of the value of the meteorological institutions established in Australia. They are admirable, and render great services to the community, But that is no reason why they should be permitted to send their telegrams free. We have had some experience of the extravagance that is possible in a department of this character in Queensland, where a very large portion of the time of the telegraph officers was taken up in transmitting for the Meteorological department messages for which no money was paid. We, as a Commonwealth Parliament, are responsible for the carrying on of the Post and Telegraph department. The public look to us to see that this department shall be canned on at a profit, or, if there must be a loss, at as little cost to the community as possible.
My contention is that the department should be paid for any services rendered. In the case of services rendered to a State it would be a mere matter of bookkeeping to cany out what I suggest, and no money payments would be made. But so far as the Commonwealth is concerned the aspect of the question is entirely different. If there is a large deficit in the postal and telegraphic revenue at the end of the year the States will accuse us of extravagance. They will not take into consideration the fact that a very great amount of business has been done for them by the department free of cost. The best plan both in the interests of the States themselves and of the Commonwealth would be to place the department on a business footing. Let it be paid for any telegrams despatched in the ordinary way and at the ordinary rates. Then we shall have an exact account of the services rendered to the public by the department, and what they cost the various States.
Motion a.greed to.
– I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives inserting the following new clause : - 7a. All Braille and Moon postal articles shall be conveyed without charge, under departmental regulations.”
The object of this new clause is to allow what are called Braille and Moon publications to be sent through the post without charge. These publications are issued for the use of the blind. They consist of pricked-out sheets of paper, prepared often by persons who do the work voluntarily, containing passages of literature which the blind people are able to read by touch. In the past these publications have been permitted to go through the post as newspapers. Strictly speaking, however, they are not newspapers, and difficulties may arise if we continue that plan in the future. The idea now is that the sheets shall go through the post free. The sum involved is quite inconsiderable. I am informed that it amounted to something like £100 in Victoria.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I must again raise my protest against this method of doing business. I have no objection to every consideration being offered to the blind, but I fear that if a certain privilege is given to one portion of the public, various other sections will demand similar privileges. In the end we shall find ourselves in exactly the same position as that into which the Victorian Post and Telegraph, department got before federation. A very large amount of the work of the department will be done for nothing in the interest of a number of institutions.
– We are not aware of it in Victoria.
– Many things have been done in Victoria of which the honorable senator knows nothing. If he had known, probably he would have taken steps to stop them. If Senator Zeal will visit the office of the Postmaster-General, and ask him for particulars of the amount of franking that was done in Victoria before the Commonwealth took over the department, I believe he will be astonished.
– Hear, hear.
– I am not objecting to what is being done in the interests of the blind, but I am afraid what is proposed will be taken as a precedent. The Postal department will be assailed from every quarter with demands for similar privileges. I hold that the department should do nothing for nothing. It ought to be paid in some way or other for every service performed for the public. There should be no franking.
Motion agreed to.
On all newspapers posted (without condition as to the number contained in each addressed wrapper), by’ registered newspaper proprietors, or by newsvendors, or returned by an agent or newsvendor to the publishing office. - One penny per lb., on the aggregate weight of newspapers so posted by any one person at any one time.
On all other newspapers posted within the Commonwealth for transmission therein. - For each newspaper - One halfpenny per S ozs., or fraction of 8 ozs., avoirdupois weight.
– I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives inserting after the word “ posted.” line 1, the words “for delivery within the Commonwealth.”
The object of the first amendment is to meet the criticism that without these words the newspaper rate might be taken to apply to newspapers published outside the Commonwealth. They are dealt with by international agreement.
Motion agreed to.
– I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives omitting the word “ lb. ,” line 0, and inserting in lieu thereof the words “20 ozs.”
This amendment is ofimportance, and I should like to explain clearly how the matter stands. Honorable senators are aware that at the present time a charge is made for the postage of newspapers through the Postal department in three States, while in the other three they are carried free of charge. In the three States, in which a charge is made the rate is id. up to 10 ozs. The amendment which I have introduced in the Bill, and which will be of great relief to newspaper proprietors in the States where a charge is made, provides for the carriage of newspapers in bulk at Id. per lb., delivering them separately, so that eight copies of a newspaper, weighing 2 ozs., would go for Id. But in proposing that rate I could not consistently allow a newspaper weighing more than S ozs. to go through the post for id., as it had gone before. The matter gave me considerable anxiety, because I was anxious to introduce what would be n very low rate for newspapers weighing only 2 or 3 ozs.;and, .at the same time, I was not desirous of increasing any rate. I found that there was a very strong feeling against any increase, much stronger than I thought to be the case in the first instance ; and, therefore, I was in this position, that either it was necessary to still further reduce the rate of Id. per lb., or else charge a higher rate than we had charged before for newspapers weighing over 10 ozs. The amendment reduces the rate from Id. per lb. to 20 ozs. for Id. By carrying 1^- lbs. for Id., and charging by weight, we impose a still lower rate for the very light newspapers, while we enable the heavy newspapers to be carried at the same rate of postage as before. The amendment will enable a newspaper weighing over S ozs. to be carried as before for ½d., but it will make the rate lower than it was before to proprietors of the smaller newspapers. It means, of course, a certain lass of revenue. I have considered the matter, and although I can form only a rough estimate, I think we shall be able to bear the loss. In accepting this amendment, I have been influenced by the consideration, more than any other,, that although it will mean a reduction of the rates in the States which have been paying newspaper postage before, we must, having regard to those States in which no charge has been made, make the rate now proposed as moderate as we can, consistently with the proper administration of the finances of the Post and
Telegraph department. I hope the committee understand that under this Bill we shall derive a considerably larger amount of re- venue from the carriage of newspapers than in the past, because we shall make a charge in the States where newspapers have hitherto been carried free..
– It is all very well for the PostmasterGeneral to say that while we shall lose revenue on the one hand, we shall gain on the other. He, must recollect that as long as the bookkeeping period continues the loss will fall on the smaller States. They are the States which should not suffer a loss. Considerable reductions are proposed in regard to newspaper postage in South Australia, and that State will suffer a loss. I do not see how we shall gain a quid pro quo, because New South Wales, which has not had any newspaper postage charge, will gain considerably. It is a one-sided position, and there is nothing fair in the PostmasterGeneral’s argument that what weighed with him most in accepting this amendment was the consideration that the revenue as a whole would be just about balanced. Only one State will gain any revenue.
– South Australia will obtain revenue. There were three States in which no charge was made for newspaper postage.
– South Australia will come out very badly. We hate had newspaper postage there for many years, but this amendment proposes a reduction in the old rates. Considering that we have to pay our postal officials considerably more than we had to do prior to federation, I think that instead of the department in that State coming out with a balance on the right side of the ledger, the State itself will have to dip into its ordinary revenue to make good the loss.
– I would point out to Senator Playford that South Australia will not suffer very much from this proposal. “Under it, we shall have a id. postage for newspapers. That is the general rate. Save in very exceptional circumstances, newspaper proprietors do not send parcels of newspapers by post in South Australia, because there the railways go to almost every place to which newspapers are sent. The newspaper proprietors send their parcels by rail instead of by post, because it is cheaper for them to do so. In these circumstances, I do not think there is any occasion for alarm in regard to this reduction, so far as it affects South Australia. Let us hope for a better time when there will be a more, equitable distribution of the revenue, and the smaller States will obtain a greater benefit.
– It seems to me that the argument in favour of the amendment is that it will chiefly affect the proprietors of a few large weekly newspapers. I understand that several large weekly newspapers published in some of the big cities of Australia, and read very largely throughout the Commonwealth, weigh a little over 8 ozs. each, and under the clause as it stood originally those newspapers would have had to pay Id. postage. It may readily be surmised that in that event the increased rate would have been passed over to the subscribers. The only point which we should consider is whether, for the sake of securing a little extra revenue, it is worth while to impose the extra charge upon the people who depend very largely upon the weekly newspapers. I am not in love with the idea that we should make anything like liberal concessions to the owners of the big newspapers, who can well afford to pay, but I do not think it is worth while resisting the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Remaining amendments in the 1st schedule agreed to.
– This schedule has been amended. As a matter of convenience the old schedule in Part 1. relating to ordinary telegrams has been struck out, and a new one inserted as follows : -
The rate originally proposed for the transmission of telegrams was ½d. per word for town and suburban messages within prescribed limits, with a minimum of 6d. for twelve words ; f d. per word for other places within each State, or twelve words for 9d., and Idi per word for a message from one State to any other State, with a minimum of ls. for a message of twelve words. Objection was taken to the proposal, more particularly in Victoria, that under these rates a charge should be made for addresses and signatures. In all the States of Australia it has been customary, up to the present time, to allow addresses and signatures to be transmitted free of charge ; but the rate per word has been higher. In each State save Victoria, the rate for town and suburban messages has been ten words for 6d.
– No. In Tasmania the rate is ten words for ls. There is no suburban rate.
– According to my information there is. In all the other States save Victoria the rate for telegrams within a State lists been ten words for ls. and Id. for every additional word. In Victoria the rate has been nine words for 9d., but addresses and signatures have been transmitted free. In proposing the very low rates which originally appeared in the Bill, I assumed that the department would be paid for addresses and signatures. A great deal of objection was raised to that proposal, however, upon the ground, first of all, that the people had not * been accustomed to that system, and upon the second ground - which perhaps was more tangible - that the charge for the addresses and signatures made the rate for telegrams within a State somewhat higher - for messages of a certain length - than that which previously prevailed in any of the States, and particularly in Victoria. My object was to fix the uniform rate as low as possible, and that it should also be a payable one. I find that, as in the case of newspaper postage, there is a very strong indisposition on the ‘ part of the people to pay a higher charge than they have been paying for any kind of telegrams. They say that it is better that the depart-( ment should lose that, revenue than that trade should be hampered in any way by increased charges. A number of representatives of the mercantile community have asked that the addresses and signatures should continue to be sent free ; but I could not possibly concede that with the very low rates of £d., d., and Id. However, after considerable discussion, the Government consented to add four words to the minimum message ; and, instead of allowing only twelve words for the minimum message, we now propose to allow sixteen words, which will be sent in city and suburbs for 6d., within a State for 9d., and from one State to another for1s. As some slight compensation for the loss of revenue involved in making that concession, we propose that the charge for each additional word, whether in the case of telegrams in town and suburbs, in a, State, or between one State and another, shall be Id. This proposal has the merit, perhaps, of simplicity ; but the disadvantage from my point of view, that it is not quite symmetrical, because it proposes a somewhat higher charge for the additional words than for the words in the minimum message. It has the other disadvantage that it involves of course a loss of revenue to the department, but I am hopeful that the lower rates will lead to an increase of business, and that in that way we shall come out all right. I move -
That theamendment be agreed to.
– I agree with what Senator Drake has stated in the main, but I desire to call the honorable and learned senator’s attention to one matter. The charge of an additional1d. per word for every word beyond the minimum message will result, as a similar charge has resulted in the past, in messages being divided. The honorable and learned senator if he is conversant with the details of his office, as I believe he is, will know that it frequently pays handsomely under present conditions to divide messages. For instance, the present rate charged for a telegram between Victoria and New South Wales is1s. for ten words, and 2d. for each additional word. If, in the same message, ten additional words are sent, the charge will therefore be 2s.8d., while if the message were divided into two telegrams, it could be sent for 2s. The extra rate pro- posed will simply mean that the department will lose money in that way, and it will continue a system that is not sound in a business sense. I quite agree with Senator Drake, that addresses and signatures should be charged for. Under present conditions, in nine telegrams out of ten, a great many unnecessary words are used for addresses and signatures.
– The system gives greater facilities for finding out the persons to whom telegrams-are addressed.
– My contention is that a great many unnecessary words are used. For instance, a telegram might be sent from New South Wales addressed to “ Sir Frederick Sargood, Melbourne,” when “ Senator “Sargood,” or possibly “Sargood” would be sufficient.
– The matter referred to by Senator Fraser has not been lost sight of, but the difficulty which the honorable senator mentions will not occur under this schedule, or certainly not to the same extent as under the existing system. I have gone into the matter very carefully, and I find that there are very few cases in which it will be any saving to split a message in the way suggested by Senator Fraser. Under the existing system, a telegram of ten words, with address and signature free, is sent from Victoria to New South Wales for1s., and each additional word is charged 2d. It is, therefore, clear that a person desiring to send a message of twenty words can make a saving by splitting the telegram and sending two messages, and in that way the department is also compelled to send the address and signature twice over for nothing. That cannot be done if these rates are agreed to. If in such a case a message is split up, the address and signature willhave to be paid for twice over. The honorable senator will find, upon working it out, that there will be very few instances in which it will pay any person to split messages when he will have to pay for the address and signature. Before I sit down, I should like to refer to another amendment made in the schedule in the direction of liberality, and that is in the addition of the words after the words “ prescribed limits,” “ or within 15 miles from the sending station.” The question arose as to what should be the limit for the 6d. telegram. It is sometimes a very difficult matter to decide as to whether a particular town should have the benefit of the cheap telegram. and as to how far the limits should extend. Honorable members in another place cut the Gordian knot by an amendment which the Government accepted, permitting messages to be sent 15 miles in any direction from any telegraph station at the low rate. This, of course, will obviate the difficulty of defining the expression, “ town and suburbs.”
– The question of rates has been so much discussed, and I think we are so familiar with what the other House has done in this respect, that, for my part, I am willing to accept the amendments as they are placed before us . But I have risen to ask the Postmaster-General if he has considered whether some of these rates will not involve a differential treatment of aSstate, and will be to that extent a violation of the 99th section of the Constitution. We know that for purposes of trade and commerce there are no State boundaries and the Commonwealth is one. We know that intercourse throughout the Commonwealth must be free, and section 99 of the Constitution says -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to any one State, or any part thereof, over another State, or any part thereof .
I do not think much can be said about the -disadvantage of a small State like Tasmania, and a comparatively small State like Victoria, having to pay 9d. for sending a telegram a short distance, whereas in Western Australia the same telegram may be sent 2,000 miles for the same amount. The difficulty arises in connexion, for instance, with the Riverina and with Broken Hill. The charge upon a telegram from Victoria to Riverina would be ls ; and although the distance is twice as far from Sydney to Riverina, the charge for a telegram from Sydney to Riverina would be only 9d. A greater difference still appears in reference to Broken Hill. The charge upon a telegram from Adelaide to Broken Hill would be1s., and yet the charge from Sydney to Broken Hill, four times the distance, would be only 9d. The simple question I desire to raise is whether that is not a preference to one part of the Commonwealth over another, and is not, therefore, to some extent, an infringement of the 99th section of the Constitution. I do not say that it is an infringement of the Constitution, but I ask Senator Drake if his attention has been called to the matter, and if he is quite clear that it is not 1
– - I desire to draw attention to this matter, though not from the point of view from which it has been considered by Senator Dobson. It appears to me that the arrangement of rates for telegrams is distinctly unfederal in its character. We have just now agreed to a uniform rate upon newspapers throughout Australia. We have agreed that a newspaper may be posted in any part of ths Commonwealth, and delivered in any other part of the Commonwealth for the rates stated. But now, when we come to deal with telegraphic rates, a different course is adopted, and we are asked to approve of one rate within a State, and of a different rate as between one State and another, notwithstanding the fact, which Senator Dobson pointed out, that very frequently the result may be that the high rate will be charged for the short distance, and the low rate for the long distance. This appears to me to be unbusinesslike and unfederal. I am not quite sure that the committee has now the power to make the alteration which I should like to see made, because I raised the same point when the matter was before us in December last, and I was then beaten upon it. The other House has since then adopted a new schedule, but under practically the same provision, and I am not quite sure, therefore, whether I shall be in order in moving the amendment I should like to see made. I desire to have the fourth column of the schedule omitted, and the third column made to apply to all telegrams within the Commonwealth.
– I desire to move an amendment prior to that to be proposed by Senator Pulsford. I wish to have the word “not” inserted before the words “Including address and signature” Our ambition ought to be to lower the cost of sending telegrams rather than to increase it. The common business idea is that the cheaper the services are made the more they are availed of by the general public. The address and signature have always to be given. Under the existing rates, John Smith, 284 Bolsover-street, Rockhampton, can send a ten-word telegram to. Fred Jones, 24 Montague-road, South Brisbane, for ls. The address and the signature would number eighteen words, or two over the limit, and it would cost l1d. Therefore, under the new rate a ten-word message would cost ls. 9d. This is a decidedly reactionary step. It must be apparent to every one that the tariff of rates has been framed entirely in the interests of the commercial classes.
– They do not think so.
– If they have any objection to the tariff, why does not the honorable senator get up and make it ?
– There is no time.
– I can easily understand that, in the case of a business house in Rockhampton wiring to a business house in Brisbane, the signature and the address might comprise very few words. These charges will operate much more heavily upon the generalbody of the community than do the existing charges. In the case I cited, the charge is increased by nearly 100 per cent., yet the Minister says that it is a more liberal tariff than the existing one. Instead of helping the department to get business, it will operate in exactly the opposite direction.
– In the case which the honorable senator cited, the Christian name is not required if the number of the house is given.
– There might be two or three Smiths living in the same house. I am not very sure that the department would deliver a message which was not fully addressed. It is usually very careful to get not only the exact address of the receiver, but also the address of the sender. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion of the word “not” before the words “ including address and signature.”
– Senator Stewart must see that if we are going to pay our compositors, messenger boys, and other employes we must have some revenue. This scale is cut down as low as it can be.
– It is much higher than the existing one.
– It is very much lower than in the city of London, with 4,000,000 inhabitants. The charge for a message of twelve words, including address and signature, is 6d. We propose to send sixteen words for the same amount. Senator Stewart would make the address and signature free. He cited a case in which the address and signature numbered eighteen words. He would, I presume, have us send 34 words for6d., whereas in London the limit is twelve words. In Queensland the present charge is1s. for ten words, exclusive of the address and signature. We propose to send sixteen words for 9d., including the address and signature, all over the States. No reasonable case can be cited in which that will not be lower than the existing rate. Of course, cases may be cited where the addresses and signatures occupy so many words that the charge will come to more than that sum. It has been ascertained, after very careful inquiry, that in cases where the address and signature are sent free, the average ‘ is eight words, and where the address and signature are charged, probably the average is six words. Taking six words as the average number in the address and signature when they have to be paid for, in Queensland the charge for sixteen words will be 9d. instead of1s. I can assure the committee that the proposed rates are very low indeed.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- My contention is that the new charges will press much more heavily on the great body of taxpayers in Queensland than do the present charges. Supposing that “ John Smith, Bolsover-street, Rockhampton, “sends a telegram to “Fred Jones, Montague-road, South Brisbane.” The address and the signature could not be shortened unless John Smith happened to be a well-known business man. In this case the address and signature number eleven words, leaving five words for the message. Supposing that the sender wishes to transmit a ten-word message, he will have to add five words, costing him 5d. extra. Instead of that message being sent for1s., as it is now, it will cost him1s. 2d. I think that Senator Drake must see that the proposed charges are higher than the present ones.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
– I wish to call attention to the heading of the first column. Apparently the intention is that these telegrams shall be delivered within 15 miles from the sending station, but at the head of the first column I find the words “ town and suburban, within prescribed limits.” The prescribed limits might be 10 miles.
– We shall have to carry for 15 miles.
– It says -
Town and suburban, within prescribed limits, or within1 5 miles from the sending station.
I think that there is a little confusion in the wording oftheheading. I assume that it is intended that it should be any distance within a radius of 15 miles.
– Why not say so? Why put in the words “prescribed limits or.” Apparently the words used give a power to the Minister to do something else, and that could only mean to reduce the radius of 1 5 miles.
– It might mean to increase it.
– We might use the words “ not less than 15 miles.”
– There was a clause in the Bill as it went from the Senate giving power to prescribe the limits for the town and suburbs, and therefore we have this heading - “ Town and suburban within prescribed limits.” In the course of- discussion in the other House, the request was made that tha 6d. rate for telegrams should be enjoyed by all persons within 15 miles of any telegraph station. I think that the words - “ Within prescribed limits “ might be allowed to remain, because, although I accept the Bill as it stands as meaning that 15 miles is to be the limit in the case of town and suburbs - and I hope it will not be ‘increased - still, I can see that there may be cases, as there have been in connexion with postal administration, where, owing to peculiar geographical considerations, it may be desirable to extend the- limit even beyond that distance. For instance, in the case of a strip of land on the shore of a bay it may be desirable to extend the limit somewhat beyond that. It leaves power to do that. I think it is perfectly clear that it cannot be less than 15 miles.
Motion (by Senator Pulsford) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by the omission o£ the word “ State” in the beading to the third column and the insertion in lieu thereof of the word “Commonwealth.”
– There is only one objection to Senator Pulsford’s proposal, and that is, that it would be absolutely ruinous from a revenue point of view. We have cut the rates down very low. The rate of 9d. with a charge of Id. per word after the limitation number of words for telegrams within any State is very low indeed, taking into consideration the fact that in States like Western Australia, Queensland, and South Australia - including the Northern Territory - it involves the obligation of carrying telegrams for very long distances. We really could not afford to extend the concession any further. Senator Pulsford is aware that at the present time the telegraph rate for messages from one State to another is 2s. in one case, 3s. in another case, and 4s. in a third case; whilst for towns or stations near Port Darwin the rate goes up to 5s. for the first ten words, and 5d. for every additional word. For the sake of federalizing the department and bringing the rates down as low as possible, in order to encourage Inter-State trade and commerce in every possible way, we have brought down the rates to a minimum of ls., making a charge of Id. for each additional word. I find that to adopt a uniform charge of ls. for the Commonwealth would involve a loss of £10,000. That loss is justified by the object we have in view, but it is not feasible to adopt the State rate for the whole Commonwealth. Section 99 of the Constitution has been very carefully considered, and I do not think that we are infringing it in any way by means of the rate we fix. Our rate is uniform for each State. If the Inter-State rate seems high in regard to certain towns near the borders of the States, that is an incidental circumstance, which is not due to any law made by the Commonwealth. We charge the same 15- mile rate for every place 15 miles from a telegraph station, and that applies to every State equally. We make the same charge, irrespective of distance, just as we do in postal matters. We do not show any preference such as is contemplated by section 99.
– What about the extra cable rates ‘which Tasmania has to pay 1
– I have looked very carefully into that matter, and after availing myself of the very best advice I could obtain, I find that if the rate for the cable were given up altogether, the loss upon the agreement with the company would have to be borne in the first place by Tasmania. There is a question as to whether Tasmania would afterwards have a claim upon Victoria, but that does not affect my department. It appeared to me that under the Constitution I should be bound in the first place to charge any loss due to the cable to Tasmania. At the conference of Premiers this matter was discussed, and a resolution was passed that in a case where the loss upon an agreement fell upon any particular State, it should be borne by the Commonwealth on a populalation basis. That resolution was communicated to me by the Honorable Stafford Bird, Treasurer of Tasmania, but when I made inquiries of the State Premiers to ascertain whether, in consequence of that resolution, they were willing that the proportion of the loss should be debited to their States, I found that the replies were unsatisfactory.
– I believe that all the Premiers, except the Premier of New South Wales, have withdrawn from the conference agreement.
– I think that only one State was willing to accept the burden, and it Only needed one State to decline to prevent the arrangement being carried out.
– When you took over the Post-office, ought you not to have taken over our contracts as well 1
– We take over the contract, but then the question arises whether, under the bookkeeping clause of the Constitution, having paid the money, we can debit it as new expenditure, tq be borne equally by the people of the Commonwealth, or whether we are compelled to treat it as expenditure incurred in maintaining the department, and debit it to the particular State concerned. I want to tell the committee what action I have taken in agreement with the Treasurer of Tasmania. AVe propose, as soon as this schedule of rates comes into operation, to give notice to the Eastern Extension Company to reduce the rate so as to make it ½d. per word instead of Id. We think that the traffic receipts will be such that the amount of loss involved will be.largely made up by the increased business that will be done. W e hope that the difficulty will be arranged in that way, so as to give satisfaction to the public without throwing any great burden upon Tasmania.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - Notwithstanding the remarks of the Post.masterGeneral I maintain my position: that the arrangement now to be made is lacking in the federal character which we have a right to expect, and which the federation of the States seemed to promise.
– It is a question of what we can afford.
– It lay with the Government to fix the rates.
– These rates are very reasonable.
– I admit that the rates that have been fixed are distinctly reasonable. But if an arrangement which would have resulted in a really federal service - that is, in giving uniformity of telegraph rates - required some of the rates to be a little bit higher, the Government should have made that proposal. It would have been worth trying the experiment for the sake of securing a service uniform in its charges, just as we have in connexion with the newspaper service, and just as I expect we shall have in regard to letters. I do not propose to urge my proposal upon the committee in the absence of adequate support, but I thought it was my duty to bring the matter forward in order that, if it secured the Sympathy of honorable senators, a change which seems so desirable might have been made.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General, in connexion with the part of the schedule which provides that the cable rates shall be added in the case of communications between any one of the States and Tasmania, whether, in accordance with what took place here in August last year in connexion with a resolution moved by myself, anything has been done by the Government, or is being done, to bring about what was the expressed desire of the Senate - that there should be no intrusion in the shape of a private monopoly into the telegraph system of the Commonwealth. I wish to know whether anything has been done or whether the Postmaster-General intends to do anything in the immediate future to secure the possession of the cable between Tasmania and the mainland, so that the people of Tasmania may be placed upon the same footing as the people of the other States with regard to telegraph charges.
– I have not lost sight of the matter referred to by Senator Keating. It was in connexion with this particular system that the matter of wireless telegraphy was discussed. The officers of my department have been making inquiries as to the possibility of inaugurating that system. The)’ are very carefully watching all the experiments which are taking place in various parts of the world. Nothing further has been done with regard to the acquirement of the cable. I shall feel much interested in seeing what will be the result when the new charges come into operation, because I presume that that result will be an element to be taken into consideration in any negotiations that may take place with regard to acquiring the cable.
– The reduction of the charges will not affect the amount paid tothe Eastern Extension Company.
– They will still have their £5,600.
– And their £4,200 additional subsidy.
– I cannot tell the honorable and learned senator that negotiations are actually proceeding in the direction of the acquirement of the cable, but I can assure him that the matter will not be lost sight of. We should, however, have to pay a high price for the cable, and I cannot see that there is very much prospect of its being acquired in the early future.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I trust that the Postmaster-General will do his best in the direction indicated by Senator Keating. I have already suggested the desirability of having a uniform federal system, and if there are any little faults, such as are indicated in connexion with the cable service, which prevent the inauguration of a truly federal service throughout Australia, I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will regard it as his duty to try to remove them. If he does, he will have at his back the support of representatives such as myself.
– I had intended to move the omission of the words -
On telegrams from and to Tasmania, the charges to be those mentioned above, with cable charges added.
When I moved to this effect before, I was supported by fifteen votes to seven. My object was to bring about uniformity. As Senator Pulsford has said, the present arrangement is really unfed eral in character. My fellow senators from Tasmania have to a certain extent cut the ground from under my feet, and I do not intend to move for the omission of the words to which I have called attention but I should like to read what Sir John See, the Premier of NewSouth Wales, said on this matter at the conference of Premiers. He said -
I think that any loss caused to a State in consequence of the alteration of an agreement in connexion with cable rates should be a federal charge. I think it is absolutely fair that where a State is under an obligation to carry out a contract it is to its advantage, as well as to the advantage of the Commonwealth, that the Federal Government should meet the deficiency. This concerns all the States.
Upon that subject the motion was carried unanimously that the States should contribute any loss on a basis of population.
– Some of them do not seem to have adhered to that resolution.
– I know that it has not been confirmed, but there was a general feeling amongst the members of the conference that there should be a uniform system throughout the Commonwealth, and that Tasmania should not be made to suffer.
– She suffers because she is separated by sea.
– The cable is of as much advantage to the other States of the Commonwealth as to Tasmania. The Commonwealth should take it over and work it for the mutual benefit of all the States. It was that desire which actuated me in submitting a certain motion when the matter was last before the Senate, and if I thought I could obtain sufficient support I should certainly move again in the same direction.
– The loss would fall upon Tasmania.
-It must do so in any case: It is only a question of a year or two, and it is better that it should come at once.
Senator FRASER (Victoria). - Unfortunately for the people of Tasmania, the authorities there some years ago made a very foolish and unbusiness-like bargain with a grasping company, and the only thing which they can do is to wait until they are able to put their feet down firmly.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania). - In regard to the very unbusiness-like bargain to which Senator Fraser hasreferred, I would point out that a few years ago the representatives of the whole of the States met and made an arrangement in regard to the subsidy, and that Victoria alone guaranteed to recoup Tasmania the first £1,000 loss. There is evidence of that, and I fail to see why Victoria should now withdraw. The present position is said to be the fault of Tasmania. If that be so, I regret it very much, but I cannot see why an InterState agreement of that kind should not be carried out to the letter.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I regret very much that Senator Macfarlane did not communicate with some of his colleagues from Tasmania, if he really thought of moving the amendment to which he has referred. In a matter of this kind, we ought to pull together. Although I would join him in any reasonable action to make the telegraph system of the Commonwealth a federal one, and to carry out what really was the intention of the Premiers who met in conference, still, by taking such action at this time of the day my honorable friend would be acting contrary to the wishes of the State Ministry. On discovering that during the bookkeeping period Tasmania would be debited with any loss following upon the omission of these words, Mr. Bird, the State Treasurer, came over here, and urged the re-insertion of the clause. The House of Representatives have re-inserted the clause chiefly, if not solely, at the instance of the Tasmanian Ministry. I agree with my honorable friend, that if it. would not be an invasion of the Constitution, it would certainly be a federal act to provide that Tasmania should not have to pay this extra rate merely because she happens to be the only island State. The time is not far distant when we may hope that with a wider federal spirit we shall be placed on an equal footing with the other States in regard to telegraphic communication. At the present time Tasmania is being very severely hit under the Tariff. Her shortage will be over £100,000, and it will be as much as she can stagger under to make up that deficiency. That is why the Treasurer of Tasmania, on discovering that, any loss would be debited against our little island, did not desire this proposal to be proceeded with.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania). - I should not have risen to speak again but for the fact that this is a matter which peculiarly affects the State I represent. Senator Dobson has just suggested the possibility of the proposed rates being in 1 contravention of section 99 of the Constitution, which provides that no State, or part of any State, shall gain any benefit which no other State or part of a State obtains. As I remarked when the interjection was made by my honorable and learned friend, section 99 in this instance cuts both ways. It might be contended by those representing the mainland States, that if Tasmania in the past has entered into an agreement with a private company to establish communication with the mainland States, and has tied herself up in such a way that she has now to pay an exorbitant charge for that facility, it would possibly be a contravention of that section to impose upon the people of the other States the liability to contribute to that charge. Early in the present session, upon a motion moved by myself, documents and agreements in connexion with the Tasmanian cable were laid upon the table of the Senate. At the request of the Postmaster-General a motion was not submitted that they be printed, because they were bound up with other agreements, and were so bulky that the cost of printing them would have been tremendous. Notwithstanding their bulkiness, I went through the agreements at some considerable expense of time, and submitted a motion of the character to which I have just referred. I hope the Postmaster-General will see his way to do something towards the acquisition of this means of communication between Tasmania and the mainland. On the motion submitted by me, Senator McGregor moved an amendment, making it more general, so as not to tie the hands of the PostmasterGeneral, and I had hoped that long before this something would have been done in accordance with that motion. Tasmania, owing to the short-sightedness of those who in the past had control of her affairs, tied herself hand and foot to this monopoly, and is now reaping the consequences of her folly. Although, when the Bill was previously before us, I supported a motion, df the character indicated by Senator Macfarlane, I have since had an opportunity of seeing the Treasurer of Tasmania on more than one occasion in reference to this matter, and I know that, in the interests of the people of Tasmania, it is not his desire that the motion originally passed here for equalizing the cable charges, so far as Tasmania is concerned, with the charges operating for telegraphic communication between the mainland States should be carried out.
– He is in favour of reducing the charge by one-half.
– He is in favour of inducing the company to reduce the cable charges ; but he recognises that if the chargefor telegraphic communication between Tasmania and the mainland States is made uniform with that operating for telegraphiccommunication between the mainland States, Tasmania will have to pay out of its own Treasury not merely the actual subsidy of -£4,200 which it has guaranteed to pay for 40 years, but a further sum of £5,600, which represents the amount of the conditional guarantee for the message receipts. Therefore, in any case, Tasmania will have to pay £9,800 to the company, and the company will simply say - “ “We will take all your messages for nothing ; but we must have the £4,200 and the £5,600, representing. 14 per cent, on the cost of the construction of our cable, which was £70,000. If you want to buy our cable, the terms upon which you have contracted to purchase it are that you shall pay us the cost of construction, and the capitalized value of the profits, and in estimating those profits you must include your subsidy of £4,200.” There is another eight years to run, and, as a matter of fact, instead of paying anything like £70,000, the original cost of the construction of the cable - I admit that it has been maintained by duplication since then - we might have to pay some hundreds of thousands of pounds for it, owing to the agreement entered into in the past. In the meantime if there are any cable charges added to the cost of the telegrams, the people of Tasmania will have to pay in some other way for this particular amount. When I faced, the electors I knew nothing - as none of the candidates could know - of the intricacies of the agreement which existed between the State mid the cable company, and one of the planks in my platform was that the cable must be purchased at the earliest possible moment, in oi-der that Tasmania should properly participate in the benefits of the amalgamation of the Commonwealth telegraph system. In pursuance of that policy I took, at the earliest opportunity, every means available to me to get at the bottom of the agreement existing between the company and the State. I have found that owing to the shortsightedness of those who had in the past the control of the affairs of the State, Tasmania has tied herself in such a way that to ask us now to agree to this particular item in the light of what has been done at the Premiers’ Conference would be simply to ask the people of Tasmania to participate on paper in the benefits of the amalgamation, but so far as their pockets are concerned, not to participate at all in anything like a uniformity of rates. It would be a mere farce, and something worse, inasmuch as it would place the company in this position : that it would be drawing as an absolute income £9,800 per year, even if it did not get one single penny for message receipts. Metaphorically speaking, it would snap its fingers at the PostmasterGeneral’ in any negotiations to acquire the ownership of the cable in conformity with the resolutions passed in August last. I believe it is desirable that there should be something in the nature of a cable charge. If it be ½d. let it be so. If it could be reduced to A., it would be better still. It would show the company that we are not going to allow it to for ever intrude its little cable into the Commonwealth system of telegraphy, and that it is not to be permitted to remain practically idle, and fatten on the development of the Commonwealth, without doing anything to further the interests and progress of the communities which its cable connects. I think that by having something in the nature of the present open provision in the schedule, we shall meet the conditions which already exist, and that it will be in conformity with the wishes of those who are to-day controlling affairs in Tasmania, and who regret very much what has been done in the past, and are endeavouring to make amends. It will also show the company that its days are numbered, and that when the present agreement expires, it can not possibly hope for an extension of its privileges for a single hour.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
Remaining amendments in the 2nd schedule agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments resumed from 3rd September, vide page 15676) :
Clause 151 -
In elections for the Senate, the voter shall murk his ballot-paper by making a cross in the square opposite the name of each candidate for whom he votes. The voter shall vote for the full number of candidates to be elected.
Upon which Senator Drake had moved -
That the Committee agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives* omitting all the words after the word ‘* votes,” line 4.
– Before saying anything upon the subject of the amendment, I desire, Mr. Chairman, to heartily congratulate you upon -your reappearance amongst us, and upon the fact that you are able to resume your duties as Chairman of Committees. Some honorable senators appear to be in an awful hurry to get rid of this matter without proper discussion. I desire to say that any impression which may have been created in the minds of honorable senators by what was said at an earlier hour of this sitting, suggesting that I had made any arrangement with the Vice-President of the Executive Council to postpone the consideration of this matter until to-day, is an entirely mistaken impression. The arrangement of the business - paper for to-day was decided on entirely without my knowledge. I was somewhat struck with the light and airy fashion with which Senator Symon treated this matter. Honorable members in another place have carefully considered it, and have furnished abundant reasons why we should reconsider our previousdetermination. Senator Symon, afraid of the weight of argument, and depending absolutely upon the weight of the numbers which he thinks he can command, . proposes to dismiss the matter without any further consideration. I have always considered that when a matter is referred from one Chamber to another, the leader of a party in the Chamber to which it is referred should at least pay due respect to the views expressed by honorable members in another place, and should be prepared to consider them even though, as in this case, they may not be sufficient to induce him to alter his opinion or to invite his followers to alter theirs. Senator Symon should have followed that course, and should have shown that there has been nothing brought forward in another place to justify us in altering our previous determination. There appears to me to be an opposition to this proposal which is not altogether confined to the principle of plumping. For some reason or another, there appears to be some happy little arrangement between honorable senators representing the large State of New SouthWales and the populous State of Victoria, and that has been strengthened by the painful personal experience of Senator Playford in the dim past. That honorable senator, in endeavouring to assist honorable senators from New South Wales, treated the committee to a very amusing tale of the disasters that are likely to occur, and which actually did occur to himself in the past, under a system of plumping. The experiences which the honorable senator related did not supply sufficient reason for saying that there should be no plumping in any State. It appeared to me that Senator Playford proved that candidates, and those who run candidates in South Australia, are a particularly bad lot; that they are rogues of the first water, and that it is absolutely impossible to trust them in any way. The first case to which he reerred was that of a three-cornered contest, where three candidates were contesting two seats, and he was himself the favourite candidate. Assuming that the had but to announce himself as a candidate to assure his return, the honorable senator and his supporters took no trouble, whereas the other candidates and their supporters set to work and tried to win, with the result that they did win. I have known favorite candidates in the State of Queensland, who have considered that all they had to do was to announce themselves and they would win, but they did not win. I know of one case in particular in the north of Queensland, where a number of interested persons, chiefly publicans and brewers, desired a good contest, and induced an innocent and confiding young man, who took all the world to be exactly like himself, to become a candidate. This young man trusted to the representations made to him, and though he was assured that he would get in by a tremendous majority, when the numbers went up he lost his deposit. The publicans and others interested made a very good cheque for him. In some places this unfortunate favorite candidate did not even get the vote of the scrutineer sent to watch his interests. I do not suggest that Senator Playford was in a similar predicament, or that the same circumstances attended his case, but it is not sufficient for the honorable senator simply to say that he was the favourite candidate, and that plumping alone beat him, because the idea of a favourite candidate is a candidate who does absolutely nothing ‘ to secure his return. In the other case mentioned, two gentlemen were standing with the honorable senator for a constituency for which two members were required.
– The honorable senator is mixing up two tales of different circumstances occurring at different times far apart. He is bungling the two cases together, and attributing to me what I never said.
– I am referring to
I these cases for the reason that the honorable senator announced himself as an opponent of the principle of plumping, and his opposition is sure to have weight because he is an old parliamentarian who has had a long experience of public life. I understood, the honorable senator to announce himself as opposed to this provision for plumping because of the painful experience he has had of the operation of the principle. He mentioned two cases in one of which he was defeated under circumstances I have related. In the other case, when as a young man the honorable senator sought a seat in Parliament for the first time in 1868, he was one of three candidates standing for two seats, and there was some mutual arrangement between the candidates that there should be no plumping. After the contest was over, Senator Playford and another candidate received a letter from the same person. But there had been a mistake in the transmission of the letters, and the other man’s letter showed to Senator Playford that he had induced. some electors to plump for him. The censure was not on a particular system of plumping, but on the electioneering agents. We are asked to condemn what is a convenience and a right to a large number of electors simply because certain candidates did not know how to run their candidature at an election. In our electoral, law, as well as in the regulations thereunder, every precaution should be taken to discourage this free and easy arrangement between candidates. A candidate should be required to go up to fight so far as the law will allow him for the principles which he enunciates on the platform, in order that the electors, before they cast their votes, may understand what principles he will support if elected. If there is to be some kind of mutual arrangement by the candidates alone ; if political principles are to be cast on one side, and there is not to be a fair party fight, the ballot system for the election of senators is absolutely worthless. If candidates are going to arrange the voting, it certainly would save a lot of money and time, and I think it would be more satisfactory if they, were to sit down and play a three-corner game of euchre for the seat. What is the other objection to the system of plumping ? Honorable senators say that we must have representation by the majority, and that it is utterly impossible by any other method which may be devised to get the proper representation of a majority, if plumping is allowed. That is not the case.” If you compel a man who can conscientiously select only one candidate to vote for two others who are against his views in order that he may be able to get his own choice returned, you are not getting a vote by a majority at all. It is a compulsory vote. What is the value of our elections 1 If the electors are to be hampered in this way the right of free choice is absolute nonsense. I fail to see why I should be compelled to vote for twomen in whose principles I have no faith. Although there is one candidate whom I wish to represent me, yet I am compelled by this system, which is sought to be enacted, to vote for two candidates whom I distrust,, and who, I believe, will not represent me. That position is- absolutely unjust. It has been said by Senator Playford and others that the gift of the franchise carries an obligation on the part of the receiver, that the reason why a man should be compelled to vote for the full number of candidates is because he has the right of voting. By this compulsory provision you do not compel a man to exercise the franchise, because after he is enrolled he may refuse to vote at an election. All it does is to compel a man, when he has made up his mind to vote, to act in a manner in which he does not desire to do. Voting by free choice is absolutely nullified by the enactment of that principle. Would it not be intolerable to compel a devout believer in his church, who wished to give a hearty cheer for His Holiness the Pope, at the same time to give two hearty cheers to the memory of King William ? It is not an exercising of the franchise to its full extent to compel a man, who is satisfied as to- the capabilities and convictions of onlyone candidate, to vote for two others whose views are diametrically opposed to his. By enacting this compulsory principle you make an elector stultify himself. Surely it is not the desire of any honorable senator that in the future the representatives of the States in the Senate shall not be the free choice of the electors ? The system of compelling an elector to vote for those whom he does not wish to be returned is an absolute destruction of his right of free choice. A candidate who is returned to the Senate under that system cannot be a true representative of the electors of the State. How easy is it for us to understand that the two big political parties can easily dominate any State. How easy is it for us to understand that in New South Wales the :great free-trade party will be able to return at the next election three free-traders as an indication of public feeling that -there is only one fiscal- party there. We all know that, in spite of the power of the freetrade party, there is a very large body of protectionists who have no chance of getting their views voiced in the Senate under a system of compulsory voting. What could happen under the plumping system there ? Realizing the utter impossibility of getting -all their candidates returned, and the absurdity of trying to do so, the great protectionist- body could nominate one candidate, and their power would be sufficient to secure a fair and just representation of the State by one protectionist senator, while the great body of freetraders would return the other two senators. The same argument applies to Victoria, -only that the parties are reversed. In this State the great body of electors are undoubtedly protectionists. It would be absurd to say that, because three protectionist senators had been returned, there was not a great body of free-traders voters in the State. The free-traders in the State should be afforded a proper opportunity to secure some representation in the Senate. It has been interjected by Senator Millen that Senator O’Connor has admitted that even under this system plumping could take place in a roundabout way - that if the members of a party wished to return one candidate they would vote for that candidate and two “ wasters.” What satisfaction is it to a voter that he has to vote for two “ wasters “ in order that he may be able to give an effective vote to a candidate whom he wishes to represent a set of political principles ? I have always been under the” impression that it has been the aim of law-makers in the States to so frame the law as not to encourage “wasters “to conflict the issues and confuse political matters generally. I can understand a position of this kind. In a State where the great parties are very nearly equal, the protectionist party will, we will suppose, run one candidate and will select two other wasters. The free-trade party may think that they have no chance of getting in three candidates, and they will run two and will pick out from among the other candidates a man whom they consider to be the greatest waster in the lot. The two combined parties select the same waster, and he is ‘returned at the poll. 44 r
Thus, because both parties agree -on t’h6 greatest waster, the waster, not the man who represents the voters, is elected: - That is’ a most undesirable result, but it is a very likely one. I have known cases, not in connexion with parliamentary elections, but in regard to other associations and bodies, where a person was compelled to vote for the full number of candidates required to be returned. As a result, the most undesirable persons have been elected, and the principal parties have been defeated by their own action. What can be done on a smaller scale can equally well be done on a larger scale ; and the possibility of it is all the greater according to the strength of the respective contending parties. There is another complication that is likely to arise in all these States. There is a large number of electors who do not. go all the way with the free-trade party, which holds itself strictly to principle, and says that there should be no deviation either one way or the other. There is similarly a protectionist party that will not permit of any departure from its principles. Those parties of political economists may be described in a vulgar phrase as “ having a rat.” Between those two parties there is a large body of electors in the Commonwealth who are’ neither strict freetraders nor strict protectionists. Their view on the great fiscal question ought to be heard, and they have a right to representation in the Senate. But under this system of compulsory voting for the whole ticket it is possible that they will be crushed between the two great parties, and that this large body of electors will have absolutely no voice whatever in the counsels of the nation. I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators to another fact. We have heard a great deal lately about a compromise Tariff - a Tariff that is neither free-trade nor protectionist, that is neither a Victorian nor a New South Wales Tariff, but a Tariff that fairly well represents the thought and feeling of the average people of the Commonwealth as a whole. A compromise Tariff is one that neither the strict free-trader nor the strict protectionist would claim as being his. How is it possible, under a system of compulsory voting for a whole ticket, to have a compromise Tariff in this Commonwealth ? It will be absolutely .impossible. In New South -Wales the representation would -be all free-trade, and in
Victoria it would be all protectionist ; whilst the other States, following the lead of the two large, populous States, would be represented in the same manner. The Tariff that would be passed would all depend on whether the protectionists or the free-traders were on top. If the protectionists were on top, there would be a scientific protectionist Tariff. If the free-traders won there would be a scientific free-trade Tariff. The only salvation for the moderates in the smaller States is that a number of us here are not tied to the coat-tails of either part)7, and can assist in modifying the Tariff in any particular where we think modification is reasonable and desirable. That is what has been done on the present occasion. Some of us are here to a very large extent as moderates between the two great parties on the fiscal issue, because in our respective States we have had the opportunity of utilizing .the system of plumping. But under the other system, we shall have no such opportunity. Take our case in Queensland. Under the system of plumping, when we go to the country, the- issue will not be the Tariff issue, bub the question of the retention of the kanakas. If an elector has to vote for three candidates, in order, say, to secure, the return of Senator Stewart and Senator Glassey, he will also have to vote for a pro-kanaka candidate. If Senator Stewart and Senator Glassey were the White Australia candidates, persons who wished to secure their return, would have to vote for another candidate in whose principles they do not believe. Indeed, as a matter of fact, neither Senater Glassey nor Senator Stewart would be able to vote for himself, unless he also voted for a prokanaka candidate. A more absurd position can hardly be imagined. In the event of the two White Australia candidates not being, returned it would immediately be claimed by the present Government, in Queensland,, by Senator Fraser, and by all those who share his opinions, that there had been a great revulsion of feeling in that State, that the people are now in favour of the retention of the kanaka, and that the White Australia party has “ gone to glory.”
– The true White Australia party will never “ go to glory “ in the! honorable senator’s sense.
– If they do not there will be no. harm. done. I. supposeSenator Fraser means to suggest that the WhiteAustralia party are going to- be in some. place where, on special occasions, they will?, be allowed to look up and see him playing the harp. There is another element which has to be taken into consideration. Senator. Millen seems to think, as I gathered from his. interjection, that there need not be so much noise made about the abolition of plumpingbecause, as the system was described by Senator O’Connor, it was possible to get round it by voting for wasters. But in the construction of our statutes, one object we should have continually before our eyes isto frame them in such a way as to discourage a man from dodging the law. We should do all that we possibly can to make it to a man’s interest to carry out the. law in the spirit and in the letter.
– The honorable senator misunderstood me. What 1 said was that, according to Senator O’Connor, the resultsof the system where it had been in force did not bear out the statements made by the advocates of plumping - that they did not get a representation proportionate to the size of minorities.
– In regard to the principle of securing a representation of the opinions of the majority of the electors by compelling them to vote for the full ticket, I would point out that the House of Representatives, will not be elected by a whole State as one electorate. The States have been divided up into a certain number of electorates in order, probably, to enable country districts successfully to compete against the dense populations of ‘ the cities in securing adequate representation. If the object merely were to secure the representation of population, irrespective of industries or any other consideration involved in the welfare of the country - if’ simply the counting of heads were requisite - I see no reason why a State should be divided into a number of electorates. But we have adopted that principle in order that the big. populations of places like Sydney and Newcastle may not be able to combine and crush out the inhabitants of the country districts. Under our Constitution- we have recognised the rights of minorities of the population to be fairly and properly represented in the Senate. We have adopted the principle of the equal representation of the States irrespective of population.. If the idea of securing majority representation in- the. legislative halls of the country. were a true idea - if .-merely by counting, heads, we could secure the representation of the people - we ought to do away with that provision of the Constitution which secures the equal representation of the States in the Senate. But if that were done, I venture to say that New South Wales and Victoria combined would entirely wipe out the other States. There would be no possible chance whatever of securing the representation of minorities of the population. Surely then honorable senators should recognise the principle that the mere counting of heads is not final. We should consider how this system of voting will affect the different States. Other honorable senators can speak for their own States ; I will direct attention to what would happen in Queensland. In that State the bulk of the population is in the south. For many years, owing to the inability of the smaller population in the north and in the centre of Queensland, to cope with the larger population in the south in the State Parliament, an agitation for separation has been carried on. Merely because of the geographical situation of the people it was found to be utterly impossible to pass laws eminently suited for the requirements of the southern population as well as for the people in the northern and central parts of Queensland. Hence the cry for separation. The people of the. north cannot obtain that to which they.think they are entitled. We have been striving for many years to secure some power in the Assembly, but owing to the smaller population, we have found it impossible to do so. If we now compel Queenslanders to vote for the full number to be -elected for the Senate, we shall have here the representatives of only the southern part of that State. The disproportion in numbers is such that even if every man and woman entitled to exercise the franchise in Northern Queensland were absolutely of one mind in regard to the selection to be made, they would not secure a solitary representative in the-Senate. They are not numerous enough to do- so. I doubt very much whether if the-people of Northern and Central Queensland combined they would be powerful enough to overcome the southerners. Two portions of that great State may eventually become separate States; each entitled to return six senators. The- northern- and central parts of Queensland are sparsely- populated. They are wealthy- districts ; they have industries which are. not identical with the’ southland they will be absolutely closed up under this system. Is that what honorable senators are aiming at ? In order to secure a free-trade majority in New South Wales, and a protectionist majority in Victoria, are they” going to inflict this injustice upon Queensland 1 If that be their object we can understand that they are opposing this amendment simply to suit their own selfish interests. Because New South Wales and Victoria happen for the time being to be the most’ populous States, they think they can crush out the’ smaller ones. It would be just as well for those who oppose the amendment to be frank and honest, so that the electors of the other portions of the Commonwealth may know the reasons which actuate them. If Queensland were cut up into three divisions for the Senate, the northern and central parts of that State would have an opportunity to - secure representation here. But with the State polled as one electorate, and the voters compelled to vote for the full number of candidates to be elected, Northern and Central Queensland must be disfranchised, and the whole of the legislative power placed in the hands of the southern majority. If plumping is abolished the only representation which Northern and Central Queensland will have in the Commonwealth Parliament will be the few members whom they can return to the House of Representatives. They are able to return those men only because the State is cut up into divisions. But for those electorates there would not be a solitary representative of either Northern or’ Central Queensland in- the Federal Parliament. This is a most unjust system to endeavour to foist upon us. I hope that those who are against plumping will look a little beyond their own States, for, while they may think they are safeguarding themselves, they will be doing a great injustice to the other States. If honorable senators who have opposed this amendment feel disposed to change’ their minds because of the fresh facts which have since been brought forward, I hope they will not be too proud to admit that they have made a mistake, and to be willing to give tangible expression to that change of opinion.
– This matter has been discussed at very great length’, but I have failed to hear one argument of ‘ any weight ‘in support of ‘the’ contention that there should be
– It is bound to come.
– I believe it will, and the present move will hasten it to a very great extent. I should like those who come from the States where plumping was allowed, to explain their position. I know that no honorable senator from Western Australia has any mandate from the electors to change the system. As a matter of fact, the system which obtained there has given every satisfaction. So far as I have been able to learn there has been no adverse comment either on the part of the press Olof prominent men in that State. Why there should be any demand for a change on the part of honorable senators from Western Australia is beyond my ken. In support of the contention that plumping should be allowed, I wish to quote a statement made by Senator O’Connor in moving the second reading of the Bill. He said -
One of the advantages of this system is that there 13 nothing compulsory about the voting. As long as a man votes for one candidate that is all that is necessary, and you do not disqualify him because he has voted for one only.
Senator Styles interjected, “ He may plump?” and Senator O’Connor replied -
Yes ; the elector may plump for one person. And he has the right, if he does so vote, to say - *’ I have not made up my mind about the other candidates, and am not going to take the trouble to do so. Bather than make up .my mind, I will lose my_ right to vote for the other candidates in the event of my particular candidate being elected br mine and other votes.
I think that is a very fair expression of opinion in favour of the principle now before the committee. It is a sound principle that a vote should indicate only the wish of the voter. If there be any birthright in the exercise of the franchise, I hold that the wish of the elector should not be circumscribed or cut down in any way whatever by the electoral machinery. It is a great mistake to say to an elector, “ Here is a vote for you,” and at the same time by the system of voting adopted to compel him to vote contrary to his own desire. There might be only one candidate whose political opinions were in accord with those of an elector. But according to those who are opposed to plumping the elector would have to vote for two others, as Senator Dawson has explained, in order to vote for that one candidate. Therefore, I strongly object to the proposal to take away the right of preferential voting, or plumping, if honorable senators please to refer to it in that way. I know that in the three States in which plumping was allowed, and in Tasmania, where, perhaps, a more scientific system of preferential voting was in vogue, there will be great dissatisfaction if the system is abolished in order to suit two of the States where plumping was not permitted. I make bold to say that the people of those two States have a substantial grievance against the way in which the system worked out. In order to show honorable senators that the results of the Senate elections in New South Wales do not justify the statement that the system adopted was a fair one, I wish to mention that at the general State election, which followed immediately afterwards, 39 free-traders, 36 protectionists, and 26 labour members were returned. At the Senate elections, however, . the labour party failed to secure any representation. The protectionists, who polled nearly as many votes as the free-traders did at the general elections, secured only one representative, while the free-traders obtained five.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that there are only 30,000 labour votes in New South Wales ?
– I say that there are not sufficient strictly labour votes to secure the return of a majority of the senators from that State.
– But there are more, than 30,000, and they must have voted in some way.
– The absence from the Senate of a representative of labour from New South Wales is due to the method of voting adopted. That is a system which Senator Millen and those acting with him desire to foist on the other States where a better system has been in operation. Victoria is almost in the same plight, and we have reason for saying that the system of plumping should be allowed to continue in the States in which it was practiced at the last federal elections.
– Plumping was allowed in Queensland, and three labour representatives were returned. That is an unfair proportion.
– I am inclined to think that the labour vote is so powerful in Queensland that that representation is no more than it is entitled to. There is no getting away from the fact that in States like New South Wales great ‘political parties are totally unrepresented, and they have therefore avery great grievance against the system that at present obtains. I am satisfied that in some of the States the labour party will never get any representation, unless the plumping system is adopted. When I notice the combination of conservatives in this Chamber, I think I am justified in believing that the opposition to this proposal is but an attempt to keep labour men out of the Senate altogether. If that is not what is intended, I fail to understand the move on the board at the present time. If the attempt is successful, then labour men will only have to set about endeavouring to gain a majority, and we shall probably then have coming from the other side the howling and the references to “ a brutal majority.” I’ think that, as reasonable men, we ought not to make any alteration in a system whichhas been proved to work fairly well, and to the satisfaction of ‘the electors, merely because representatives from some of the States are against it.
– I have been extremely amused at the kindly lectures which have been showered upon those who venture to differ from my honorable friends on my left. There has been an assumption and a claim that they and they alone are taking up their present attitude because they honestly believe in it. The assertion is made that we who are supporting the anti-plumping amendment are doing so, not because we believe in it, but to secure some party advantage. Senator DeLargie has just admitted that if plumping is allowed his party will gain an advantage. It is perfectly legitimate for the honorable senator or for any one sitting in the labour corner to advocate something by which his party will gain an advantage, but it is absolutely immoral for any one else to claim the right to do the same thing.
– No ; I believe that we should get justice, that is all.
– If the honorable senator does get justice he will be sorry for it. We have heard a great deal in denunciation of machine politics, but that denunciation comes surely with a very strange sound from honorable senators whose party has carried machine politics to the highest pitch of excellence known in Australia yet. That party has worked its organization so thoroughly, and I congratulate them upon it, and have got it into such a state now that they have both money fines and the penalty of expulsion for members who dare to take any action against their selected labour candidates. What becomes of the question of the tyranny of compelling an individual voter to vote for some one whom, he does not like, when this is one of the acknowledged rules of a large majority of the labour unions?
SenatorPEARCE. -Not of a large majority.
– Of a majority of them, and it is certainly absolutely the case with regard to the largest labour organization in New South Wales. Ought I to understand from Senator Pearce’s interjection that he does not like the introduction of the machine into labour organizations?
– No, but I should like to hear the truth upon this question.
– I do not desire to speak anything but the truth. I do not assume that the honorable senator wishes to suggest that I am wilfully saying what I know is not true. Perhaps I may modify my ‘remarks, and say that labour organizations have adopted that as one of their rules.
– Some of them, but not a majority of them, as the honorable and learned senator said.
– Passing from that, is it not a fact that the labour party has adopted the solidarity pledge ? What does that mean ? Does it not mean that whilst they denounce as tyranny any system by which a voter is compelled to vote for a man whom he does not particularly like,- they do not regard it as tyranny to make a man who has secured his election as the advocate of a certain principle, vote at the dictates of his party in support of another principle.
– That is what the Opposition caucus is doing every day.
– But the caucus is not howling about the an.ti-plumping vote as are some honorable senators. These honorable senators want all the advantage pf the machine in politics for their own party, but they object to anything approaching it when applied adversely to their own interests. Senator Pearce did himself a great injustice in one of the remarks which he made yesterday. I venture to say that no member of the committee believes for a moment that the honorable senator .has ever given a vote which he did not conscientiously believe to be a correct one. Yet the honorable senator yesterday made a remark which might almost lead to the suspicion that he has been giving votes in this Chamber not because he believes that they were given on the right side, but in anticipation of some future advantage. The honorable senator upbraided the free-traders on this side with what he regarded as their ingratitude, in view of the measure of support extended to them upon the Tariff by himself and others.
– No; in view of the lack of consideration which honorable senators expressed for the workers at times.
– The honorable senator used the word “ ingratitude,” and provoked the suspicion that he had voted in a certain way at times with the idea of gaining some advantage later on.
– I never had the slightest idea of getting any advantage ;from the honorable and learned senator’s party
– The honorable senator in upbraiding us with ingratitude indicated that upon certain occasions he voted with us in the anticipation that upon other occasions we should vote with him. I am beginning to understand now the full significance of the remark made earlier in the session by Senator McGregor - “ This party is up for sale.”
- That is too contemptible to take any notice of.
– But the honorable senator is taking notice of it.
– Not the notice which I might take of it.
– We have heard on one or two occasions a threat that unless an opportunity is afforded for proportional representation, the labour party will secure all the representation. I recognise the sincerity of the labour party, and I only wish that they would recognise the sincerity of those who are opposed to them. Upon one or two occasions we have heard it threatened that unless the labour party secures what it has asked as a fair proportion of representation it will claim all the representation. That threat does not carry much force.
– It lets the cat out of the bag.
– It does let the cat out of the bag, but we know perfectly well that the labour party would not only secure the representation to which it is entitled, but would secure all representation, if circumstances enabled it to do so.
– We do not believe in the policy of all or none.
– The honorable senator does, or at least his party does. If not, why did they run ten delegates in New South Wales when they knew they were not entitled to that proportion of representation1! It appears to me that the threat is that unless this claim is conceded, they will ultimately adopt the block ticket themselves, and secure all the representation. I am reminded by the action of honorable senators of the refrain of a song in “San Toy,” where the ladies’ maid, after referring to the fact that she has appropriated certain articles of her mistresses’ wardrobe, remarks with regard to ladies’ maids in general - “ If you don’t let them take a little then they’ll take the .lot.” That, it appears to me, is the position of honorable senators in the labour corner. I desire to give one reason which, -I think, is a weighty one, for my opposition to plumping. It marks the sharp distinction between plumping and the preferential vote. There is no more wasteful system of voting than that of plumping. With preferential voting no vote need be wasted. But, under the plumping system, it is possible for one candidate to get such a number in excess of the necessary quota that other candidates of the same party will be absolutely shut out. Let us take the case of three candidates running for New South Wales, of whom Mr. George Reid is one. The anxiety of the ordinary free-trade elector to secure the return of Mr. Reid would be so great, that I venture to say that three out of four of the free-trade electors of New South Wales would vote for him.
– They might have a personal objection to another candidate running in the same interest.
– That may be so, but I am contending that 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. of the free-trade electors would prefer to see the free-trade bunch put in, and if they distributed their votes to each of the free-trade candidates they would secure their return, and would be entitled to do so. Rut in order to make certain of the return of their favourite and great champion, he would be plumped for, with the result that while 20,000 or 30,000 votes anight be the quota sufficient to return a candidate, Mr. Reid would get 70,000 or 80,000 votes, and the two other men whom the party was sufficiently strong to return would be shut out. In that way the excess votes given to Mr. Reid would be absolutely wasted, not because the voters disliked the other Candidates, but because of their extreme anxiety to secure the return of their favorite candidate. That marks . the sharp distinction between plumping and preferential voting. I do not like preferential voting, but I would sooner have it a thousand times than plumping, because under preferential voting every vote is effective. That cannot be said for the plumping system, and no organization can be made so perfect as to secure an equal distributionof votes for candidates running on the same principles.
– We could divide a State, and have one senator for each electorate.
– That opens up another question. I regard the Senate as the States House, and I think that the State should be regarded as an entity. I am opposed to plumping because it means such an enormous waste of votes, and because under it a little careful organization may secure for minorities, not the fair share of representation to which they are entitled, but a representation which their numbers would not justify.
– As the labour party - its prospects, its position, and its action-has been frequently referred to during this discussion, it is well that some one should clearly explain our attitude. We can all recollect the circumstances attending the introduction of the measure we are now discussing. A great deal of opposition was shown in its early history towards any form of Electoral Bill, and particularly towards the provisions relating to the system of voting that might be adopted by any elector. The plan proposed by the Government was favoured by a number of senators, and when it was disapproved of it became the duty of those who favoured it to secure the adoption of a scheme which would most nearly approach that rejected. If a man cannot get exactly what he wants, he ought to secure the next best thing, and I do not see that any particular blame should be attached to us for taking that course. I desire to inform Senator Milieu and Senator Clemons, and others who have specially referred to the attitude of the labour party, that we have never denied the right of any other party to representation in this Chamber. All we have contended for is that every party should have fair representation. . The block vote system has never given fair representation in any part of the world. Wherever a number of representatives have been returned for the same district, or town, or place by electors who were compelled to vote for candidates sufficient to fill the full number of vacancies, the results have always been unsatisfactory. In many instances the system of single electorates has been adopted, and where that course has not been followed, preferential voting has been resorted to. Coming nearer home we need only point to the experience gained in connexion with the election of representatives to the Federal Convention, on which occasion the electors were compelled to vote for the full number. Senator Charleston knows very well that in South Australia the electors were obliged to vote for ten representatives, and although I have nothing to say against the ability of the gentlemen returned, I maintain - and the majority of the people in South Australia maintain even now - that they did not fairly represent that State. Four candidates were put forward in the labour interests, and the labour party were told that they would get loyal support from some of the candidates outside their own party, for whom they were prepared to vote. When the returns came forward, however, it was shown that a number of electors had voted for dummies, whilst the members of the labour party had supported those whom they considered would best represent the people. The result was that not one labour representative was returned, and there is scarcely an elector in South Australia who has not expressed the opinion that that fact was a blot on the election. Many honorable senators say that they do not object to labour representation ; but it is strange that whenever an opportunity is afforded they do all they can to make it impossible for our party to return its chosen candidates. The reason why the labour party were so earnest in supporting this Bill was that it afforded opportunities for the representation of every section of the community. Greater facilities were offered to electors to become enrolled, and better opportunities were afforded for recording votes. Some honorable senators appear to be very jubilant because the effective voting and other provisions supported by the labour party have been defeated. They think that this will embarrass us, but we believe that with the provisions retained in the Bill the people of Australia will be afforded greater opportunities, although not so many as they should have, for fair representation. Some honorable senators have referred to the absurdity of compelling the electors to vote for candidates of whom they could not approve. There is scarcely one honorable senator on this side of the Chamber who has not at some time or other stoutly upheld the liberty of the subject, and Senator Playford also has many times in his political career raised up his voice in advocacy of the same principle. He has always been prepared to maintain the liberty of the subject, butI ask whether he would extend that liberty to the ballot if he compelled the elector to vote for more candidates than found favour in his eyes. When it was suggested that electors should be compelled to vote, Senator Playford, by interjection, said that he would strike off the roll those who did not exercise the franchise. That would not greatly punish a man who did not care whether he voted or not, but if an elector really desired to vote and came to the polling booth for that purpose, would he not be punished if his vote were made informal, because he objected to vote for soraeof the candidates of whom he could nobapprove ? Would it not be a crime tocompel a man to vote, for candidates sufficient to fill the whole of the vacancies if, say, only three out of six would fairly represent his views. In order to punish avoter who neglected to exercise the franchise, and who was quite indifferent on the subject, it- would be necessary to impose a fine, but would Senator Playford, or any other senator, be prepared to introduce a. provision with that object in view? I venture to say “No.” And yet many honorable senators are ready to disfranchise a man if he is not willingto vote for more candidates than he can fully approve of. If the block system of voting is to be established, it will be absolutely necessary for each section of theelectors to put forward a sufficient number of candidates to represent their own interests, and, in such an event, those whofavour the system must be prepared to take the consequences. Senator Millen was very severe in his referencesto Senator Pearce, who accused the freetrade party - and the protectionist party also - of showing very little gratitude. I am sure that Senator Pearce, when he conscientiously recorded his votes in connexion with’ the Tariff, never had any idea that he would thus offer any other senator an inducement to vote contrary to the dictates of hisown conscience. Senator Pearce wished toconvey that there was no necessity for any jubilation over the defeat of the aims of the labour party in connexion with this Bill: Senator Millen also told us that in a number of the labour organizations, the members were compelled to vote for the candidates, put forward by the labour party on pain of fine or expulsion. As far as I know, thereis only one society that has any rule of that description.
– That rule was expunged.
– That does notmatter. They were fully justified in havingsuch a rule if they thought fit. The constitution of the labour party is different from that of any other with which I am acquainted. An association, before it joinsthe labour party, has all the rules of theparty submitted to it for adoption, and. everything is done openly and above boardCandidates are selected by the whole party, and every individual member has a voice in the selection. Every proposed “ plank “ in the platform has to : be- submitted to each association connected with the party ; and it is the duty of those who are’ not satisfied with the platform to leave the party. Why ‘ should any party be “burdened ‘with a number of individuals who, after having had an opportunity, of formulating the policy, are prepared to turn ‘round and, vote against the party 1 Honorable sena-‘ tors will see the absurdity and impossibility of endeavouring to keep together a body such as the labour party, if every one who has assisted -in formulating its policy ‘may afterwards vote as he pleases. Each must stick to the policy or leave the party, and, if a man leaves, no one lias a word to say against him. But, to go a little beyond the liberty of the subject and the policy of the labour party, what do we find in the Senate itself 1 Are there no minorities- represented here 1 Did not the majority of those who came from Hew South Wales declare,’ at some time or other, that the proposed federation was not the best that could be desired, because the smaller States had the same representation as the larger States ? Did not people, even in Victoria, declare that federation was not what it ought to be, because a small State like Tasmania could send as many representatives to the Senate as could Victoria or New South Wales? If we are prepared in our Constitution to recognise that such States as Tasmania, Western Australia, “and South Australia are eligible for representation here equally with the larger States of Victoria and New South Wales, why should there be such bitter opposition to the’ right of every elector to exercise his vote in’ the direction which best pleases himself? If honorable senators, in what they deem to be the best ‘ interests of the country, are honestly taking an opposite view from that for which I am now contending, where is the necessity for their throwing sneers at the labour party, who are acting from precisely similar motives? But I have not the least fear so far as the labour party are concerned. The labour party will be able to take care of itself, and I have no doubt as to its future even in the Senate. There may be alterations in some of the States, but the aggregate’ number of labour representatives in the Senate, I have every reason to believe, will not be’ decreased. It is only ten or twelve years ago since the very idea of putting labour members into the House of Assembly in any of the States was laughed at. But we have seen- a ‘great cha’nge ; and- in the Senate, to which, at the time I mention, it would have been almost sacrilege to suggest the election of a labour representative, there are now eight labour members sitting here almost every night. That shows to me- that the labour party is making progress, and any steps which’ those opposed to it may take to prevent its representation will be futile. It is not the duty of honorable members to consider their own parties or individual members of the Senate; their first duty is to consider the interests of the Commonwealth.’ Their next duty is to consider the interests of every individual elector, and then, if they have any sympathy left, it may be extended to candidates for election.- The tendency of electoral reform in the past has’been in the direction of the representation of every section of the community, and fights have been fought on the question in almost every part of the civilized world. . When we know that the movement has been ‘ gaining ground, why should there be such bitter opposition to it here ? When we know that ever)’ honorable senator has declared himself in favour of the representation of every section of the community, why should we endeavour to compel people to cast votes in a direction which they may not desire? Why not extend the individual liberty of ordinary, daily life to the ballot-box ? When we know that where the block vote has existed no- one can say that the people have been fairly represented, it is our duty to maintain the liberty of the elector and secure fair play for every candidate. There is no necessity to further argue this question.’ I know that the majority of senators have made up their minds, and any further discussion on my part would be a waste of time. But I ask every honorable senator, when he is casting his vote on this question, to consider all the circumstances, and, if he does so, he will have no reason to retract in the near future.
– The arguments which have been adduced during the debate, have ‘ opened up some very complex questions. ‘ In . dealing with a. matter of -this- sort we- ‘‘have to consider’ not only’ ‘whatsis theoretically the- best system, -but : more particularly how the system works, but in practice. It is a recognised ‘^result’ ‘of all Legislative institutions throughout the Empire, that, however carefully an Act of Parliament may be prepared, in nine cases out of ten it does not work exactly as could be wished. An Act frequently fails to do the good it was intended to do, and in many instances does evil, and brings about injustice never dreamt of. When we come to deal with the taxation Acts, the point I am trying to make is even more accentuated. It is almost impossible to frame such an Act so that the incidence of taxation will fall exactly as desired by the members of Parliament who voted for it. The results of which I am now speaking are more peculiarly applicable to the question of how elections should be conducted - how to provide against bribery, corruption, and illegal practices, and lay down how votes shall be cast. Senator Playford, in his simple, practical speech, appeared to demolish the arguments in favour of plumping. If my honorable friends, Senator McGregor and Senator Pearce, could show that theoretically there is a good deal to be said for the system of plumping, the practical working of the system, according to the facts cited by Senator Playford, proves that what may be theoretically the best, has in South Australia., and I believe in all the other States, led to fraud, lying, cheating, and dishonesty.
– Senator Playford did not show that he is a better man than the others he mentioned.
– He demolished all the arguments that were adduced in favour of plumping. Although none of us can produce the evidence in respect to putting letters in the wrong envelopes, and so forth, we all know how the system has been grossly abused in all the States. Is any honorable senator prepared to deny that the system has been used by candidates in violation of honorable agreements, or that it has been abused by canvassers and agents by the hundred 1 We all know well that what has been described by Senator Playford goes on in every election, and, therefore, it is not in the mouth of the labour party to ask us to adopt a system which, however good it may be in theory - and I deny the goodness of the theory as applied to a Federal Chamber - is in practice absolutely corrupting our people. No honorable senator has during this discussion alluded to the fact that we are now dealing, not only with the Federal Parlia- ment, but with the States House of the
Federal Parliament. If I were to admit - which I do not - that the system is a fair one, both in theory .and practice, I should ask myself whether it is applicable to this States House of our Commonwealth Parliament, and I should answer that I believe that it is not. Although the system may be a good one for a general Legislature, I cannot believe it to be good as applied to a national House such as this. What is this House ? Under the Constitution senators are elected by each State as one electorate, to represent the States, and the very foundation of the House is that it is national, and intended to balance the federal machinery. We have only limited powers. We have nothing to do with licensed victuallers or the beer interest, or with factory legislation, the shutting up of shops, or an eight-hours day. Most of the subjects with which we have to deal are national, and although I admit that proportional representation is a very good thing in itself, and better on the whole than the “ ticket” system, I believe that .candidates, canvassers, and agents would twist that good system so as to rob this national House of the very features which the Constitution wishes it to wear. In an election of senators, what, I ask the labour party, is the question which ought to be before the mind of every elector ? The question ought to be how to get the best men, who will represent no party and no class, bat all parties and all classes, having regard to the undivided interest of their own State. There is not the same room here as elsewhere for parties, fads, and cliques. I quite understand that what is wanted in the Legislature is, not the representation of men, but the representation of opinions. At the same time, the very subjects on which we have power to legislate are restricted. We have nothing to do with two-thirds of the matters which affect the daily life and well-being of the great classes and masses of the community. The chief function of the Senate is to deal with national questions which affect the whole body of the people, and the very last thing that I desire to see is the return to this Chamber of a particular set of men whose primary duty it is to look after the interests of a special class. They have no right to come here and say that the States House is the proper place in which to give effect to their legislative fads. Of course, I am aware that if ever anybody attacks the policy of the labour party, he is at once accused of enmity and hostility to that party.
I am hostile to some of the planks of .the labour party’s platform,- but, upon other questions I have voted with them, and I have the very greatest respect for them.
– Upon what questions did the honorable senator vote with us ?
– As the honorable senator has asked me that question, I may say that I joined -with them iri voting for adult suffrage. I assisted to give the electors of the Commonwealth the greatest possible freedom in the exercise of the franchise. When, however, members of the labour party wish to secure the adoption of a system which they know- their agents and canvassers can twist and turn’ upside down, and corrupt, I cannot vote with them.
– We have no agents or canvassers.
– The honorable senator must “ tell that to the marines.” I might have upon my committee 20 or 30 men who are interested in my return, but my honorable friends opposite, who deny that they employ any agents, have a committee of thousands, who will vote for them and ‘ for nobody else - men who would put up a lot of dummies rather than support the noblest statesman within the Commonwealth. That is an absolute fact, and, I think, effectually answers the interjection of Senator McGregor. Now let me come to one of the aristocracy of labour in the person of Senator Pearce.
– I disown my rank.
– The time will come when Senator Pearce will take up such a high stand in favour of justice and fair play that he will either drag the rest of the labour party up to his level or they will drag him down to theirs. I do not believe that they will drag him down. Whether or not “the members of that party add to the dignity of labour depends entirely upon their actions. But what I desire to point out is that, whilst my. honorable friends opposite are hurling abuse at the so-called conservative members of this House, and declaring that we have no sympathy with the workers, Senator Pearce has admitted that we have enacted such liberal laws in regard to the exercise of the franchise that if we now refuse to accede to the full demands of the party with which he is associated, it will yet monopolize the whole of the representation in this Chamber. I think that he rather let the “cat out of the bag” when he made that statement. Those honorable senators who sit in the labour corner with smiles upon their faces, have the audacity to accuse us of being illiberal and conservative, although we have enfranchised the masses of the community to such an extent that Senator Pearce now declares that if we do not allow the electors- to plump, the labour party will demand the whole of the representation in this Chamber. That is a nice threat to come from any party in the States House which has to deal with national questions. What would happen if the time ever arrived when the labour party were sufficiently strong to effectually carry out that threat ?
– At last we know the party to which the honorable and learned senator belongs.
– I belong to the party of fair play. We all know that the position of a member of this Legislature is worth having. A member of this Parliament receives £400 a year in addition to other perquisites, and I will undertake to say that any man who might be compelled to abandon his occupation, owing to his election to this House, would be better off with that salary than as a skilled mechanic, even if he were getting £10 a week or £500 a year.
– That is what the honorable and learned senator is sorry for.
– I am afraid that Senator McGregor is accustomed to measure other people’s corn by his own bushel, and sometimes that bushel is a very unjust measure. I repeat that the positions of Members of Parliament are very much sought after. If we adopted a system of proportional voting, I am afraid that, as the prizes are so great, the primary object of that system would be absolutely thwarted. Every clique in the community, and particularly the labour party, would say, “ There is a parliamentary vacancy. Can we secure it for one of our friends ?” ‘ Consequently they would endeavour by every possible means, to secure the return of their nominee. We have seen a little of the operation of that system in Tasmania. I believe that for an ordinary legislature it is a very fair system, which, though open to abuse, is not so to the same extent as are other systems. But if in connexion with elections for this Parliament we allow the electors to plump, the Senate will in time lose those national features which now characterize it. Under the operation of such a system, the civil servants would be anxious to secure the return of their own nominee to protect their interests. If the churches adopted the same course, and the farmers did likewise-
– What about the lawyers?
-Of course, the- argument can be carried to any absurdity. I hold that the Senate isthe House in which national questions should be kept to the front, and that the more class questions are obtruded, the greater will be the wrong inflicted upon the people.
– Is the duty upon hops a national question ?
– I have been talking a great deal about national questions. Let me give an illustration Of what I mean. I believe that the labour party are too prone to consider the interests of their own class, to the exclusion of those of all other classes. What is the result? For months past we have had nothing but the fiscal issue before us. Senator Pearce joined a party which entertains certain fiscal views, but after two or three meetings we saw him no more, because the labour party with which he is associated would not allow him to attend. I am inclined to think that fact evidences that the labour party do not take the national view of affairs which is expected from them under the Constitution. They now wish us to adopt a provision which will enable electors sometimes tothrow away their votes. I have no sympathy with the cry, “Why compel a man to vote for candidates in whom he does not believe 1” Under such circumstances it is easy enough for any set of individuals to nominate as many candidates whose views accord with their own as there are seats to becontested. It is idle to say that we are depriving the electors of their freedom by requiring them to vote for the number of candidates for whom there are vacancies. One honorable senator has said that in future the labour party will take care to nominate as many candidates as there are vacancies to be filled. By all means let them do so. But I hold that in connexion with elections for the Senate, every elector should vote forthe full number of candidates for which there are vacancies.
– I did not intend to make any observations in regard to this matter, but the remarks of Senator Dobson have prompted me to do so. He never seems to address himself to any question without making an attack upon the labour party, their aims and views. He declares that its members come into the Senate to advance the interests of their own class at the expense Of all other classes. But I would ask him what is the class which thelabourpartyrepresents? It represents especially ‘the working classes. When I say that, however, I do not mean that it represents only the man who has his trousers tied below his knees and carries a’ pick or shovel in his hand ; I refer to anybody in the community who labours honestly, either by hand or brain, including the hod-carrier, the farmer, the lawyer, and the squatter. For Senator Dobson to declare that we come here in the interests of a mere section of the community is to misrepresent the party to which I am proud to belong. The honorable and learned senator has endeavoured to state a case in which the candidates returned to this Chamber would not represent the States as States. He claims that that would be the result of the operation of the provision relating to plumping. But can we not look upon the reverse side of the picture? If it happens - as it certainly will in the absence of this clause - that the three great political parties are required to organize, we shall possibly find that in New South Wales, where it is believed there is a majority of free-traders at the present time, six free-traders will be returned to the Senate. Similarly in Victoria we shall find six protectionists returned. Thus, the large body of protectionist opinion in New South Wales will not be voiced by any of the free-trade senators, and the free-trade opinion of Victoria will have no representation whatever. Honorable senators must recognise, from the votes we polled, that we are a very strong political party throughout the Commonwealth. In some State’s we secured the third place on the poll. In Queensland we secured the second place. Possibly we might secure the first place on a proper franchise. But if honorable senators succeed in maintaining the block vote system, we may be left out in the cold in a State like Queensland, if the conservative party, to which Senator Dobson says he belongs, happened to have a majority of one voter. When we said that we should be driven by the abolition of plumping to organize,we meant that we should be forced to do so for self-preservation. In Queensland our success was largely due to the fact that we ran only three candidates. A large section of the general public said - “ The organized labour party wish to get only three seats out of -the six. They are a large body in the State, and we think that’ they are entitled to that, amount of representation,” and on that ground we received thousands of votes. But if we had run six candidates, I. venture to think that those voters would have voted against us, because we desired to capture all the representation in the Senate. .That is what honorable senators wish us to do. We have no desire to take up that position. We are satisfied with what we consider a fair representation in the Senate. 1 think that the party in each State would be satisfied to have two representatives in the Senate. We are satisfied to accept representation according to our number in the States. . If the time should ever, come when we represented two-thirds of the voters throughout- the States, we should ask for two-thirds of the representation. But honorable senators, like Senator Dobson, wish to secure all the representation of the State for the conservative party, which represents about on 1 , one-third of the electors of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators who oppose the provision to permit a minority to get some representation also opposed the provision for proportional representation - a system which would give us a representation according to our number, and would give Senator Dobson and his fellow conservatives a representation according to their number.
– The wage-earners number more than seven-eighths of the whole population.
– Yes, but the honorable senator knows that they are not unanimous about the legislation which should be passed.
– They are never likely to be unanimous.
– Probably ; but we do not merely represent persons who work for wages. Surely the honorable senator, who baa been a representative of organized labour, must recognise that fact. What honorable senators will succeed in doing will be to encourage friction throughout the States. It will ‘ be recollected that when the Pacific Islands Labourers Bill and the Immigration Restriction Bill were pending, there was a considerable feeling, excited throughout Queensland. Does any one for a-moment think that it would not have been accentuated if the pro-kanaka and pro-alien party in Queensland had not some one in the Senate to represent their opinions? That certainly will be brought about if we have the block system of voting. We shall have a ticket run by the Brisbane -Courier for the conservatives, and a ticket run by the labour party - we shall have a ticket run by the various parties in the State, and the one which has the majority of votes to backup its ticket will win the election. Surely no one can believe that that is in the interests of the general community. If a majority of honorable senators were all of one opinion, the legislation would not give satisfaction throughout the Commonwealth. It would be largely one-sided. Our legislation is acceptable to the general public only because the minorities are represented in the Senate, and a minority here is able to voice- its opinions and prevent the majority from going to the extreme lengths to which it would otherwise go. I can well believe that if the block system were carried out to perfection throughout the Commonwealth, a time might come when the people, would rebel against the legislation of this Parliament. We do not utter a threat when we say that we shall be compelled to organize: We only make that statement with a view to deter honorable senators from forcing any party into a position, when it must endeavour to secure all the representation or get none. Honorable senators think that they are in a majority, and have behind them the powerful daily press of this State, and therefore have nothing to fear, lt must be said, to the credit of the Argus, that it has maintained that parties throughout the Commonwealth would get their fair representation if we had a system of- proportional voting. But if plumping is not allowed, it certainly will have to run a ticket of three or six men according to the number of the seats to be filled, and do its level best to secure their return. I do not like to describe the utterances of Senator Dobson as silly, stupid, or inane, because, in my opinion, those are not parliamentary expressions,’ but I certainly feel that there was a good deal of puerility about his opening observations. His assertion that plumping will give rise to lying, dishonesty, and trickery, is, of course, the statement of his own opinion. If candidates combine to endeavour to secure the votes of the electors, and they cannot trust one another, surely that cannot be blamed to the system of plumping. Senator Playford and the other gentlemen he mentioned joined together in a little combine.
– We had a fair, upstanding fight, in which the people voted for the two men who were wanted. We discouraged plumping.
SenatorHIGGS. - The honorable senator entered into some arrangement or other to endeavour to secure votes.
– No. The arrangement was that the contest should be fought out on fair lines, with no plumping.
– In the Sydney Bulletin some time ago two gentlemen were depicted with a pack of cards, one asking the other, “ Shall we play fair, or shall we play all we know 1” Those two players knew very well before they started that if they could take advantage of one another they probably would do so. Senator Playford admits that when he was new to electioneering he got left ; but he has never been left since.
– I was not left then. I got returned.
– What honorable senator, when he was standing for election would go to his opponents and ask, “ Shall we play fair, or shall we play all we know V No candidate who had ever gone through a contest would think of going to his opponent and asking a question of that kind. If he did put the question, and his opponent said, “Yes, we shall play fair,” he would certainly take all the precautions he could to get all his voters to come to the polling place. If plumping is allowed, each candidate will endeavour to get all his supporters to come to the polling place - of course, in as honest a manner as can be done. I hope that honorable senators will vote against the abolition of the plumping clause, in order to give the minority a chance of getting some representation. Senator Dobson spoke of the teetotallers, the beer industry, and various other interests, and wished to make out that each interest would require to have its own representation. No political body of that kind ever expects to return a representative. There are a dozen, different sects and creeds throughout the community, and only six seats in the Senate to be filled. In each State there are probably morethanadozenparties,butthey generally merge themselves into the three leading parties - the free-trade party, the protectionist party, and the labour party. I think that the representation of every interest will be secured by permitting an elector to refuse to vote for a candidate in whose principles he does not believe.
-In this discussion, which has been worn pretty well threadbare, one aspect of this important question has not been considered. Under the Constitution Act it is quite possible - in fact, the situation now exists - for one House to show a bare majority for one fiscal policy, and the other to show a bare majority for the opposite fiscal policy. If we have only two great parties, the freetraders and the protectionists - and the dividing line is to be the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, what chance is there of a uniform Tariff being passed ? We have an instance of that kind now, because the issue is not yet settled. That is where the utility to the Commonwealth comes in of a system which would allow of preferential or proportional voting, or, if you like, permissive plumping, which, in my opinion, is the best substitute for preferential, voting. By a system of permissive plumpingyou are likely to have returned to the Senate a number of members who do not hold fiscalism as the be-all and end-all of politics, and. to get some finality to legislation. A member of any party in the Senate can hardly remain silent while it is being attacked sodeliberately and so frequently as a certain honorable senator attacks the labour party whenever he addresses the Chamber. It is not very pleasant for one to have to speak of a senator- or his State in that strain, but when the honorable and learned senatorbrings this upon himself, he cannot complain. . He must not expect others from hisown State to remain silent when they arespoken of as having no political principles.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I said nothing of thekind.
– The honorable and learned senator accused us of not being anxious to see great national questions considered in a national manner.
– Hear, hear.
– Is there any honorable senator who more than Senator Dobson has sunk great national principles and surrendered his- own opinions during the Tariff’ discussion?
– Which opinions has he sunk?
– That question may well be asked. Senator Dobson says that the labour party only desire to represent one section of the community, and not to do their best for the advancement of national policy ; yet that honorable and learned senator himself - he knows this to be true - has come into the chamber to support one party, but has deliberately walked over and supported another. He has gone backwards and forwards as he chose.
– The honorable senator is becoming somewhat personal.
– But the speech of Senator Dobson was intended to administer a castigation to the members of the labour party. I belong to that party, and am proud of it. If Senator Dobson belonged to it he might have more solidity of political principle than he has shown during the Tariff debates. I do not know any member of the labour party who has got himself interviewed recently and called himself a strong supporter of the Government, but who nevertheless is now taking Senator Pearce to task for leaving the caucus meetings of the free-trade party held for the purpose of organizing the vote against the Government. When an honorable senator gets up and talks to the gallery, referring to the members of a party as coming here only to advance the interests of a certain section of the community, while he himself has been quite oblivious to all ideas of national principle and policy, it is time for the members of that party to defend themselves.
– How did the protectionist Dobson get into the free-trade caucus?
– I am sure I do not know. The labour party have been charged with being anxious to secure this amendment in favour of plumping. We acknowledge it, and say that we are only asking for justice. Surely even Senator Dobson will not deny that the labour party should have some representation in Parliament 1 We do not ask for any greater representation than the electors behind us entitle our party to have. The labour party honestly and conscientiously tries to represent three-fourths of the electors of Australia.
– If the labour party represented three-fourths of the electors, its candidates would, be returned in a bunch..
– Senator Ewing only a few months ago made a strong speech in favour of preferential voting, but now, when he is offered the next best thing to it, he turns round and votes against it, because he thinks it will help the labour party. I believe that within a few years the people of Australia will demand preferential voting, so that not only the two great fiscal parties, but also the third party will be able to get their fair measure of representation in Parliament. That is all that I claim.
– Why did not the labour party vote for the preferential system ?
– I am not the keeper of the political opinions of otherpeople, but only of my own ; I voted for it. Such an interjection comes with bad grace fromSenatorEwing. I do not mean to say for a moment that all theopponentsof permissive plumping are against it because they want to keep the labour party out of Parliament. I have too much confidence in the justice of many -honorable senators, who do not belong to the labour party, to think that. But I tell them in all good faith - and if they think over the matter quietly they must admit this to be true - that the operation of the block system of voting must always be dead against the labour party. Every one knows that the main dividing line at every election is fiscalism. A man must be a strong protectionist or a strong free-trader to be placed upon the ticket of any newspaper; and considering the power of the great daily journals all over the Commonwealth, a man who is not on the ticket of one of the newspapers has a very poor chance of being returned. The labour party candidly and honestly acknowledges that it would like preferentialplumping to be instituted, because it believes that that system would give to it that measure of right to which it is entitled. It wants no more than that. I ask honorable senators to look at the question in a fair and just spirit, and see whether they are not, by voting against the permissive plumping system, taking away from the electors the privilege they have had in three of the States. If we take from the States privileges they had before, they will begin to think that they made a big mistake in joining a federation which has brought about this new uniform electoral system. I have very little hope that the permissive plumping system will be carried in the Senate, but I believe that before very long the preferential voting system will be forced upon Parliament by the people. .
– I should not have risen again except to make a personal explanation in regard to the charge that has been made against me and my party by Senator Dobson. He has made the statement that . I attended certain caucuses of the free-trade party, and thatI ceased attending them at the dictation of my party. I give that statementa distinct denial. It is totally incorrect. If I required any proof of that statement, I might ask the secretary of the free-trade party whether it is not a fact that I left the caucus of my own free will, and told them so at the time. The difference between Senator Dobson’s position and mine is that I left the caucuses of the free-trade party of my own free will, but he left them at the free will of the free-trade party !
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - It is just as well that before the division is taken the position of parties should be clearly and distinctly understood. I understand from the interjections of Senator Ewing and others that they are opposing the plumping system because certain honorable senators did not vote with them with regard to preferential voting. So that their attitude is not dictated by political conviction or principle, but is a question of personal pique.
– The honorable senator is asking for justice, and we say that he was offered justice in the form of preferential voting.
– I should like to put before the committee the position of Queensland in this regard. When I previously addressed myself to the subject I pointed out the unfortunate position in which we shall place the people of Northern and Central Queensland if we do away with the plumping provision. I stated that the population of Queensland is settled in such a manner that the residents in the southern portion far outnumber those of the central and the northern divisions, even when combined. I will endeavour to show what the facts are. ‘Take the present divisions for the Queensland Legislative Assembly. There are 72 members for the variouselectrates. The south returns 46 members, the central districts return ten, and the northern districts return sixteen. In other words, the central and northern districts return a total of26, while the southern districts return 46: The trouble in Queensland for years past has’ been that a small handful of people, with a minority representation in the Legislative Assembly, have been struggling to get whattheyconsider to be justice for themselves from the southern majority, but have failed. When federation was proposed, it was thought by the people in the nortnern and central portions of the State thatthey would have a better chance of obtaining justice at the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. The result was that there, was a very active canvass prior to the referendum, and right up to the time when the vote took place, in the centre and the north. When the referendum was taken it was the solid block vote in the north and the centre that enabled Queensland to enter the federation. I have rather hurriedly tried to obtain the latest figures in the Library. The return published in the press after the vote was taken, on the 2nd of September, gives the following figures. These figures, I should explain, are the first lot published ; the figures were published from time to time during the poll until the count was completed, and were in about the same proportion. In the south, the number of those who voted “ Yes “ - in favour of joining the federation - was 18,048; those who voted “No” numbered 20,076, showing a majority against Queensland entering the Commonwealth of 2,028 votes. In the southern portion those who voted “ Yes” numbered 4,786; those who voted “No” numbered 3,513, or a majority for joining the federation of 1,273. I speak feelingly in regard to the north, which I have represented for many years. There, 9,531 votes were polled in favour of Queensland entering the Commonwealth, while only 1,969 were cast against it, the majority in favour of federation being 7,562. If the great southern population in Queensland had had its own way, or if the north and centre had voted in the same proportion against federation, the State would not to-dayhave been in the Commonwealth. I submit in all sincerity that honorable senatorsfrom other States have to-day an opportunity to do justice to those portions of Queensland, and that they should do it irrespective of any preconceived notions of what the State of Queensland was.
– The people in the north supplied the wisdom wanting in the south. We trust they will continue to do so.
– We supplied not only the wisdom which was wanting in the south, but that which was lacking in some of the other States, particularly in Western Australia. We also supplied the numbers necessary to enable Queensland to enter the federation. Are we now to go back, by an act of the Commonwealth Parliament, to our old position, and be completely at the mercy of the large population in the south 1 If’ so, we shall have gained absolutely nothing by joiningthe federation ; we shall have entered the union only to obtain the temporary advantage reaped in the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament. I desire to draw special attention to the fact that honorable senators from Queensland represent a State in which plumping was permitted, and that it was because of that that honorable senators from the north were able to be returned. By our presence here we have succeeded to a great extent in moulding a Tariff which is fair to the north and central portions of Queensland, while not being unfair to the south. That is a condition of affairs which has not hitherto existed in Queensland, and the absence of which kept the separation movement going with so much strength and activity in the north and the centre of that State. Another question which we have solved here is the problem of ridding the coast-line, and the northern parts of the State, of the coloured curse. We were utterly unable to do so before, because we were out-voted time after time in the State Legislature. The people of Northern and Central Queensland, with the assistance of the southern democracy, returned us to the Senate, and we have solved the problem. But if the Senate takes away the right to plump, and destroys the possibility of the people of Northern and Central Queensland obtaining any representation, they will be placed in exactly the position they occupied before this Parliament was established. We shall again suffer the old disabilities and disadvantages under which we laboured so long. When I pointed out to my fellow colonists the advantages which we were likely to reap by joining the Union, and urged them to vote for federation, I felt that those advantages would not be merely temporary - that they would not extend over only one session, but that we should enjoy them as long as the Federation existed. It appears to me, however, that an effort is now being made by those representing two great contending parties, who have nothing whatever to do with the political differences in the other States, to make us the scape-goats of their little quarrels.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … …9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendments omitting clauses 166 to 168 agreed to.
Consequential and verbal amendments in clauses 152, 154, 157, 159, 161, 163, 164, 165, 173, and 174 agreed to.
Clause 174 (Expenses allowed).
– -In addition to the verbal amendment to which we have just agreed, the House of Representatives has amended this clause by striking out the. words “ (“VII.) Election agents.” The question of whether expenses should be allowed in respect of election agents was discussed when the Bill was last before us. It was also discussed in another place, and at the present time the two Houses are not in accord in regard to it. When we were considering this clause in committee on a previous occasion a motion was moved to strike out the words “ election agents,” but was negatived by a large majority. In. another place a motion to strike out the words was carried by the narrow majority of two. I see no reason why we should depart from the attitude which we took up in the first instance. So far as I have been able to learn from the reports of the debates, the balance of argument is in favour of the retention of the words. 1 think it would only be fair to all sides to retain them, because in some cases the services of an election agent are very much more necessary than in others. I move -
That the committee disagree to the amendment omitting the words “ (VII.) Election agents.”
Motion agreed to.
Clause178 (Breach or neglect by offi- cers).
– In this clause the House of Representatives has inserted the following new paragraph, which defines what is a breach of duty - (IIIa.) Any attempt by a person authorized or required by this Act to witness the signature of an elector on the counterfoil of a postal ballotpaper to influence the vote of the elector whose signature he witnesses, or except as provided by section119a -
That clause relates to the blind and. illiterate - to look at the elector’s vote.
I desire to amend the amendment by adding certain words to the paragraph. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition of the following words -“ And a disclosure by any person authorized to mark the vote of an elector on a postal ballot-paper touching the vote of the elector.”
It is necessary that that should be made an offence.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Question - That the amendment, as amended, be agreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 182 (Licensed premises not to be used for electionpurposes).
– The House of Representatives, by their next amendment, propose to omit this clause, which prohibits the use of a place where intoxicating liquor is sold for “ the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate.” Under the clause it would be impossible for a candidate anywhere to make use of such premises. But it has been pointed out that in some of the remote districts of Australia it would be extremely inconvenient to absolutely prohibit the use of such premises. I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment omitting clause 1 82.
– I must protest against the committee agreeing to omit this clause. Senator Drake has said that the reason why the House of Representatives has decided to delete it is because in some of the outlying districts of Australia it is not possible to find a place other than an hotel in which to hold political meetings. We have as many outlying places in Queensland as there are in any other State of the Commonwealth, and yet the law of that State has hitherto been that no meeting whatever in connexion with an election shall be held on licensed premises. We have found that law to work remarkably well ; and to abolish it and givepermission to hold’ political meetings on licensed premises will give rise to a great deal of corruption that we might very well try to prevent. The reason given for the omission of the clause by Senator Drake is one which does not apply, and I shall certainly vote against the motion.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I cannot understand why there should be such a readiness on the part of some honorable senators to go back upon a previous decision of the Senate. Every candidate, whoever he may be, has ample facilities for addressing electors outside of a public house. As Senator Stewart has said, it is the law in Queensland that no meeting in connexion with an election can be held in a public house. We never experienced any difficulty on that account. If it happened that we were at a place where there was no public hall or State school available in which to hold a meeting, we got a cart and addressed the electors from the cart tail, or we got an empty case and spoke from it. I know that the holding of public meetings in connexion with elections at public-houses has prevailed in States like New South Wales to the great disadvantage of the general public. I have heard of public houses being used for the purpose of sending voters into the polling booth to vote early and often, and in some cases, men who had not their names on the rolls, and who, it has been rumoured, received a certain sum for their services. The holding of election meetings in public houses will only encourage that kind of thing. Public opinion throughout the Commonwealth is very much in favour of having public-houses closed upon the day of election. If it were not that such a provision would be evaded by candidates taking barrels of beer to their committee rooms, I have no doubt that it would be inserted in the Electoral Bill. . We cannot carry out the idea of the people to close public-houses on election day, but we can carry out the idea that there shall be no election meeting held in a public-house. There are thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth who do not care to enter a public-house.
– The clause goes much further than prohibiting the holding of election meetings. It says that no licensed premises, or any part thereof, shall be used for the purpose of promoting or securing the election of a candidate.
– I admit that it goes beyond the holding of an election meeting, but I think the great danger will be in the holding of such meetings in public-houses, and in the throwing of such houses open for the distribution of free beer, and so on. We have in this Bill a schedule of offences against the electoral law, and penalties provided for wrongful practices and corruption of all kinds ; but while passing these penal
Clauses, if this clause is omitted, as proposed, we shall be throwing open the door to every kind of wrong-doing. What argument is there in favour of the holding of election meetings in a public-house? We provide that a candidate shall only spend, in the case of an election for the Senate, some £250 upon his election. What senatorial candidate will be able to conduct his election on that sum if we permit the holding of election meetings in public-houses ? This is a very important matter, and I protest against the omission of the clause, which was passed after a great deal of consideration by the Senate.
– I think with regard to this clause that the House of Representatives has taken a much broader view than did the Senate, and I intend to support the Government in the proposal to omit it. I would point out to Senator Higgs and those who think with him that the clause should be retained, that there will be no compulsion to take people in to drink, or to use the drinking rooms of an hotel at all. The clause is an extremely comprehensive one, and provides that no part of any licensed premises shall be used for the purpose of promoting or securing the election of a candidate. If such a clause were enforced with rigour it would be practically impossible for a candidate to meet his election agent, for instance, at an hotel in order to discuss matters in connexion with his election, and it would also be impossible for a candidate in many places to use the only hall available forthe purpose of addressing a meeting indoors. I would remind honorable senators that the clauserefers not only to hotels, but to the premises of clubs, societies, or associations, and under it it would be impossible for a candidate to discuss the chances of his own election at a club with any of its members. I do not think the committee should take up a grandmotherly and teetotal attitude in this matter. I do not object to teetotalism, but I do not think we should carry its principles in toelections. Senator Drake is right in proposing that we should agree to the amendment made by the House of Representatives, and I intend to support him.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I think that Senator Drake is wrong in asking us to omit this clause. I cannot take the view expressed by Senator Clemons. The clause may appear to be a little strict, but if it is too strict, it can easily be altered, and it is not necessary that it should be struck out. What I understand would be prohibited under the clause is the holding of election committee meetings, and the carrying on of the business of an election candidature at an hotel. It does not mean that if Senator Clemons and I were stumping Tasmania,, we could not put up at an hotel, or that we could not receive our political friends there. Tomy mind, the proposal to omit the clause is retrogressive. We allknow that at election times some places are swimming in beer. On the one hand, as Senator Higgs has rightly pointed out, we make “treating” an illegal practice, and yet if this clause is omitted, and an election committee meet at an hotel, a candidate may be charged with “treating” if his agent offers refreshment to those present. It has been found that to permit candidates to use hotels in any way whatever leads to drinking and treating. Why should we provide thatno candidate or agent shall give a glass of beer to an elector for the purpose of influencing a vote, and at the same time allow them to go to hotels and hold committee meetings ? The price of the room hired for such a purpose would not amount to more than 5s. or 10s., but every one who went there to see the candidate would be asked to drink. We know that the habit of treating is too prevalent in Australia, and we should do everything we can to guard against it. There cannot be any excuse for striking out this clause, and I doubteven if it requires any modification.
– I think that it is distinctly to the credit of the labour representatives that they have taken a stand upon this clause, and I propose to support them. I must admit that in its present form the clause is rather wide in its scope, and more searching in its operation than it should be. I have had a good deal of electioneering experience, and I know that there are real dangers to guard against in connexion with the use of hotels. The tendency of recent legislation has been to promote the purity of elections, and this clause is a step in that direction.If an amendment were proposed limiting the operation of the clause, I should probably support it, but for the present I intend to aid other honorable senators who think that it should be retained.
– One aspect of this matter should not be overlooked. In a State like Western Australia it is very often difficult to find any hall suitable for the purpose of a public meeting, except one adjoining an hotel. Strickly speaking, if a candidate were to speak in such a building he would be liable to be unseated. Every honorable senator who went away into the back country of Western Australia had to speak in halls of this character, and consequently had to run the risk of losing his seat. If the clause provided that no committee or public meeting should be held in an hotel it would have far more to commend it, but it would be unreasonable to provide that no part of any licensed premises shall be used for any purpose by a candidate. Senator Smith was foolish enough on one occasion to meet a few friends in an hotel, and his nomination was refused on that ground.
SenatorStaniforth Smith. - I was not present, but my committee held a meeting in an hotel.
-Because a few friends of the honorable senator’s met in an hotel he could not benominated for the Kalgoorlie seat in the State Legislature. If it is desired to prevent electors from being influenced by the sale of liquor, it would be better to close all the hotels on polling day.
– Would the honorable and learned senator support a proposal to that effect ?
– I shall declare myself when the matter comes under consideration. What I now contend is that candidates should not be liable to lose their seats on account of some perfectly innocent act, or because they hire halls for the convenience of their hearers and themselves. I do not think it is fair to ask the electors to stand for- several hours out in the dust at such a place as Kalgoorlie, or to require candidates to speak in the open air more than is absolutely necessary. If a reasonable proposition were made, I would support it, but I must express my approval of the action of the House’ of Representatives.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland). - I hope the Senate will insist upon retaining this clause. Some honorable senators have overlooked the condition of affairs which rendered it necessary to insert, in some of the State Acts, provisions similar to that contained in the clause. When the great struggle between the McIlwraith and Griffith parties was being carried on in Queensland, the political section which could command the biggest purse arranged to have open houses from the opening of the election campaign until its close. Free drinks were the order of the day throughout the electorates, and public opinion reached such a pitch that both parties agreed to certain restrictions. If one candidate desired to observe the law whilst the other, having plenty of money, wished to spend it freely in promoting his election, he might arrange with the hotel-keepers to dispense refreshment in his interest.
SenatorFraser. - But that expenditure would come within the scope of the provisions limiting the amount to be disbursed in election expenses.
– No, it would not. I admit that the amount to be expended for election purposes is limited, but the expenditure to which I have been referring is of such a character that it could not be traced. This clause will have the effect of putting a stop to all abuses of that kind. A similar provision has proved most effectual in Queensland. In that State they have not only prevented candidates and agents from using hotels for election purposes, but in order to prevent votes from being unduly or improperly influenced it is enacted that the candidate shall not buy a meal for an elector before he has cast his vote ; and properly so, too.
– But that would be “treating,” and would be an illegal practice under the Bill.
– Surely the honorable and learned senator realizes that if the candidate bought a shandygaff for an elector he would be “ treating “ him.
– That would be so whether this clause were inserted or not.
– But the clause” would impose an additional check. Senator Ewing has mentioned that in the outlying districts of Western Australia in many cases the only hall available for the purposes of public meetings is one attached to a hotel. I question, very much whether there are many instances of that kind ; if so, the places in Western Australia must be very small. In Queensland we have a wide territory and a scattered population, but we have never experienced any difficulty in explaining our views to the electors, and I see no reason why candidates in the other States should not get along just as well. Candidates in Queensland are not only prevented from using licensed premises for election purposes, but they are not permitted to make use of State schools without special permission from the Minister. If we desire the electors to go to the poll in their sober senses, and cast their votes free from all undue influences, we- should hedge round our electoral system with the most effectual safeguards. I believe not only in preventing the use of hotels for election purposes, but, where possible, in closing all licensed premises on polling day.
– In this matter we are all inclined to be influenced by the practice followed in our own particular. State. Personally, I am satisfied with the Queensland Act. which prohibits the use of any part of licensed premises for election purposes, but I know that no such law has been in operation in New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia, and honorable senators who represent those States see no necessity for imposing the restrictions contained in the clause. I cannot help thinking that Senator Dawson made the mistake of confusing the matter we are now discussing with the illegal practice of treating. That is specially dealt with in clauses 179 and 180, under which candidates are precluded from treating voters to either meat or drink tit election times.
– Why should we allow candidates and agents to go to the places where drink is to be obtained, and where they are expected to consume it ?
– Som6 honorable senators have pointed out that in outlying and newly-settled districts there are many instances in which the only hall available for a public meeting is one adjoining an hotel. The question is whether we ought, by putting a clause of this kind in the Bill, to absolutely debar a candidate or his agents from using licensed premises at any time ; but that is quite apart from the question of supplying drink.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The Postmaster-General maintains that under clauses 179 and ISO there is all the protection necessary to prevent the use of drink at election meetings. But if committee meetings be allowed at an hotel, it is possible that the rent paid for the room may be in excess of the ordinary rent, and that the balance may be spent on liquor apparently provided gratis by the publican. Who has not seen that carried on at elections ? .
– Who has seen it ?
– I have.
– I have not, and I have had a good deal more experience than the honorable member.
– I have seen it in Western Australia. In that State committee meetings for municipal purposes are allowed in hotels, and it often happens that immediately the business is over drink is brought in, and freely supplied to the members of the committee, and to any ratepayer who may be present. The candidate, of course, does not pay for the liquor, but he pays a large rent for the room.
– “ Suspicion ever haunts the guilty mind.”
– It is not suspicion, but what has happened many times. I hope we shall dissociate our politics from “ booze “ ; and that can be done by insisting on this clause. As to not being able to find accommodation in small places, I guarantee that any township big enough to support an hotel also supports a church and a school. In Victoria, some of the little country towns, not even large enough to support an hotel, can boast a library or a mechanics’ institute ; and, under all the circumstances, it is the most hollow pretence to say that the clause is not necessary. It is distinctly against the interests of pure elections to allow publichouses to be used for electioneering purposes. Although I am a temperance man myself, I am not prejudiced in this matter ; but only speak from what I have seen in connexion with municipal elections in Western Australia, where these practices prevail, notwithstanding that there are the same penalties as provided in the Bill against the giving of liquor as a bribe. If there are not buildings available, it is possible to hold meetings in the open air for nine months of the year in Australia, and I trust that the committee will not go back on its first determination. No reason was given in the other place for striking out this clause. Only two members spoke, one of whom asked why the clause had been inserted.
– That was the leader of the labour party.
– But he was not speaking on behalf of the labour party ; and when the question was asked, a member ofthe Government replied - “ I do not exactly know, but I think we might as well strike it out.”
– What the member of the Government said was that he did not approve of the clause.
– I hope these references to the debate in another place will cease.
– The Government could give no reason for striking out this clause other than that they did not know why it was inserted.
– That is not correct.
– The committee of the Senate, by a large majority, expressed the view that the clause would tend to preserve the purity of elections, and surely some reason should be given by the Government for striking it out ?
– The clause was adopted on the voices.
– I ask the Government to prove that any hardship will be imposed on any candidate by preventing the use of licensed premises. I have been all over Victoria, and everywhere I found a church hall, or, at any rate, a State school-room.
– State school-rooms are not available in New South Wales.
– I ask honorable senators whether, in past elections, they have not seen a candidate explaining his views from the balcony of an hotel, while a member of his committee invited the free and independent electors to interview the publican at the close of the meeting. I saw that myself in the model State of South Australia, at Port Adelaide. The clause is no innovation. It is the law in Western Australia, so far as regards parliamentary elections, and it is the law in Queensland, and I believe in some of the other States. Are we to take fewer precautions than the States to keep our elections pure ? In my opinion, we should set an example, and adhere to our former decision.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I ask Senator Drake how undue influence can be proved if a candidate calls a meeting at an hotel, and his canvasser invites all and sundry to attend, when some leading citizen may be in the chair, and after the business has been concluded, drink is suggested? The candidate may not pay for the drink, nor may the chairman, but probably the agent provides the money. In my opinion, it would be a very difficult matter to prove that either the candidate or the agent had supplied meat and drink for the purpose of securing the election. A candidate may be a poor man, and he ought not to be put into competition with, and possibly considered mean as compared with a rich opponent, who can give drinks to all and sundry. There are certain electors who, if they receive drink at the hands of one candidate, consider that they ought to be supplied by all candidates. Did “suspicion haunt the guilty mind “ of Senator Fraser when he voted for the clauses which provide against bribery and corruption ? The honorable senator, in one of his speeches, gave a pretty good idea of what he knows about elections.
– I am no “ chicken “ at elections !
– Then the honorable senator ought to know what is carried on in hotels when election meetings are held therein. If honorable members are not satisfied with the clause inserted by this Chamber, they ought to furnish some modification which will meet the views of the majority who believe in having elections as pure as possible. In this connexion, I draw honorable senators’ attention to the following clause from the Queensland Elections Act : -
It shall not be lawful to use -
Any premises on which the sale, by re tail, of any intoxicating liquor, is authorized by a licence ;
Any premises where any intoxicating liquor is sold, or is supplied to members of a club, society, or association other than a permanent political club ; or
The premises of any State school, or school in receipt of aid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.; or any part of any such premises, as a committeeroom for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at an election.
Every person who -
Hires or uses any such promises, or any part thereof, for a committee-room, or
Lets any such premises or part, knowing that it was intended to use the same as a committee room, shall he guilty of illegal hiring.
Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any part of such premises which is ordinarily let for the purpose of chambers or offices, or the holding of public meetings or of arbitrations, if such port has a separate entrance and no direct communication with any part of the premises on which any intoxicating liquor or refreshment is sold or supplied as aforesaid. Senator Ewing. - That is a much better provision than the clause.
– The Queensland section would, I think, carry out the suggestionmade by Senator demons, who mentioned cases in which the only available hall is attached to an hotel. It is not fair to ask a temperance candidate who, for conscientious reasons, may object to enter an hotel, to follow the example of another candidate who has no such scruples.
– A candidate is notasked to do so.
– But a candidate may be placed at a disadvantage if he does not hold meetings in an hotel’. There is a feeling amongst certain electors that a candidate who is able to spend money liberally is to be preferred. Further, we must not forget that the franchise has now been conferred on women, and I am sure no honorable senator would support a clause which might induce women to enter hotels.
– There is no inducement.
– There must be an inducement if candidates are compelled to hold their meetings in hotels. There are many men in the community who, if brought into company in an hotel, arc likely to break away from good resolutions which they may have formed ; indeed, it is possible that the holding of election meetings in hotels might mean absolute ruin to certain very good citizens. Some honorable senators profess to discover in the clause which it is proposed to eliminate something which will interfere with the ordinary liberty of the candidate and of his secretary. They apparently believe that under this provision a candidate and his secretary would be debarred from putting up at an hotel during an electoral campaign. If that be so, let them suggest a modification of the clause providing that the candidate may not hold a public meeting in the hotel, and may not have the headquarters of his committee there. I am sure that such a provision will meet the desire of Senator Pearce, and of those who think with him.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Under no condition could I see my way clear to support this clause, but to my mind the section of the Queensland Act to which reference has been made could with advantage be substituted for the Government proposal. That section first imposes a prohibition upon the use of any licensed premises as a committee-room for the purpose of promoting or securing the return of any candidate at an election. I have no objection to that. But to declare that a candidate travelling from one town to another shall be debarred from meeting the few settlers of any neighbourhood at a waysidehotel to discuss his prospects with them is a very different matter. Under this provision the door will be opened to all sorts of blackmailing devices.
– If a candidate is prohibited from using an hotel, he cannot be blackmailed.
– He will be blackmailed for the very reason that he will becompelled by force of circumstances to make use of hotels. I repeat that the Queensland Act prohibits the use of licensed houses for committee meetings. It further provides -
Nothing in this section shall apply to any part of such premises which is ordinarily let for the purpose of chambers or offices, or the holding of public meetings, or of arbitrations, if such part has a separate entrance, and no direct communication with any part of the premises on which . any intoxicating liquor or refreshment is sold or supplied.
I am prepared to support such a provision, but in answer to the statement which has been made that no town of any size lacks a public hall, I desire to say that I could mention several such instances in New South Wales. For example, in the town of
Bourke, which a little while ago had a population of 3,500, the only hall available for public meetings is one connected with a licensed house. The section from the Queensland Act would exactly meet that case, because although the hall was part of licensed premises, it was accessible by a separate entrance. I suggest that the PostmasterGeneral should consider the expediency of substituting the section referred to for the clause in the Bill.
– I am disposed to think that the provision which finds a place in the Queensland Act is better than the clause proposed in this Bill. The former prevents evils from arising, and yet is not so stringent in that it does not absolutely debar the use of licensed premises under certain conditions.’ I will take the suggestion which has been made into consideration to-morrow.
Bill returned from the House of Repre sentatives with the following message : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “ABill for an Act relating to duties of Customs,” and acquaints the Senate that, having regard to the fact that the public welfare demands the early enactment of a federal Tariff, and pending the adoption of Joint Standing Orders, the House of Representatives refrained from the determination of its constitutional rights or obligations in respect to the Senate’s Message of the 3rd September, 1902, and resolved to receive and consider it forthwith.
The House of. Representatives has amended its amendment in regard to Senate Request No. 38.
The House of Representatives has made the amendment requested by Senate Request No. 37.
The House of Representatives hae, with modifications, now made the amendments requested by Senate Requests Nos. 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 58, 59, and 66.
The House of Representatives adheres to its modification in regard to Senate Request No. 9.
The House of Representatives has not made the amendments referred to in Senate Requests Nos. 4, 7, 8, 15, 15. 16, 20, 25, 20, 29, 30, 67, 86, and
A schedule is annexed hereto.
The date from which the amendments now made como into effect has been modified to 4th September, 1902, the date on which the Houso of Representatives agreed to the amendments.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed. -
That the Message be printed, and taken into consideration on Tuesday next.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020904_senate_1_12/>.