1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On urgent public grounds, I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– I desire, sir, to have your ruling on the point whether, under standing order 48, it is competent for an honorable senator to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss two matters of importance, and, if not, whether it is competent, when that motion is withdrawn or disposed of, for another honorable senator, at the same sitting, to move the adjournment of the Senate with regard to another matter 1
– According to the practice under these standing orders, which has existed ever since 1857, it is only competent to move one such motion, and it must relate to . one matter. The mover must state that it is a matter of urgent public importance, and the Senate has to decide whether it is or not. Does Senator Walker say that it is a matter of urgent public importance on which he . desires to move the adjournment of the Senate t
– It is a matter of urgent public importance. On the 4th September I put to the Vice-President of the Executive Council three questions, to which I received replies of a somewhat laconic nature, which seemed to show that the Government are not aware of a very important petition which has been forwarded to the King by no fewer than 3,000 South Sea Islanders. It may be in the recollection of the Senate that, on 5th December last, Senator Dobson proposed that the consideration of a certain report should be postponed for nine weeks in order to get further evidence, but that by a majority of 17 to 12 it declined to grant the request, and the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was at once proceeded with. At that time I announced that a petition to the Senate was in course of signature and had been signed by about 1,000 South Sea Islanders. But when, they saw that it would come too late, steps were taken to bring their case before the Imperial authorities. On my return to Australia the other day I received from the secretary of the South Sea Islanders’ Association at Bundaberg a letter, a portion of which I propose to read. Of course, after the meeting of the Senate in December last, I wrote to the correspondent, stating what I had said, and, therefore, the letter, which is dated 26 th July, bears reference to my letter - your letter of 9th December I duly received. Many thanks. I laid it before our solicitors, and they decided to petition the King for the kanakas, as they concluded that it would avail but little to petition the men who had just formulated the Bill relating to the South Sea Islanders. We got more than 3,000 names to the petition, some of those being more than 40 years in the State, and it has been sent off in good form through our Queeusland Governor. If I were sure of success in that direction I would wait the result, but I think that any good that will come to the kingless kanaka will come through your Houses of Parliament. I am of this opinion because I think that the Home Government or King will not upset laws made in Australia, owing to their patriotism to the Empire and assistance to the South African wai-. They may recommend something, perhaps to allow those boys who are here a certain number of years to remain. I um also of opinion that your Government would never have made such drastic laws with reference to the South Sea Islander had they been in possession of existing facts. Going over Southern Queensland twice since November last, Brisbane and Rockhampton included, visiting most of the plantations arid centres where kanakas were settled, I am in possession of knowledge which it would be well for those to attain who acted without counting fair play for their coloured brothers, who did not come here, but were brought here to satisfy the desire for gain of capitalists, and are now denied standing room. Large numbers of the boys have had to go home or starve owing to the drought, and the prohibitive law against those who would employ them and cannot. Whatever will be done with reference to the petition will have to be finally settled twelve months after the edict went out, so I thought it would be well to remind you of that fact. I am inclosing cuttings from the Courier which you may not have seen, and hope 3’ou may have time to peruse. Very many people have taken up the cause. We are in good company.
It is not necessary for me to read more than that portion of the letter.
– What is the name of the secretary ?
– The name is Mrs. Fanny .Nicol. I scarcely believe that the Senate would like to hear the whole of the petition read, but there are some paragraphs of it with “which I think it should be made acquainted. It begins as follows -
To His Most Excellent Majesty, Edward VII., by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the British
Dominions beyond the Sea’s, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
Your Majesty’s humble petitioners, certain “Pacific Island Labourers,” domiciled in that portion of your Majesty’s dominions known as the State of Queensland in the Commonwealth of Australia, present their humble duty to your Majesty, and beg to submit to your Majesty this their humble petition, which showeth that -
Beginning atparagraph 8, the petition says -
Many of us have learned to read and write, and have long since ceased to work in service, and have acquired leasehold lands, which we have improved and built upon, and are now engaged in gardening, fruit-growing, fishing, boat-building, rough carpentry, net-making or mending, shopkeeping, hawking, and such like occupations.
Many of us have been continuously resident in Queensland for upwards of 20 years, and during these years our parents and brothers in the islands have died, and we are forgotten there ; villages have disappeared, and some of our tribes have been exterminated. We love the land in which we live, and all our friends are here. In some instances the islands from which we were brought have passed under foreign protectorates, and tribal lands have been appropriated or sold by our chiefs.
Many of us have been married in Queensland churches to women belonging to islands and tribes with whom our tribal law would not permit us to marry. If we took our wives to our old home they would be killed, as also would we if we went to theirs.
Many of us are Christians, and yet some of our islands are entirely heathen and cannibal. If we are sentback to such we shall be killed, or have to deny our religion.
Many of us have children who for years have attended the State-schools of Queensland and the Sunday-schools. They are free born, and we thought that we had attained at least such freedom as is enjoyed by other coloured aliens who came to Australia.
Many of us came to Queensland after hearing from returned islanders all that they understood of British law and freedom. We were tired of the cruelty and bloodshed of our chiefs. We were told that after the three years’ service under our agreements we could stay in Queensland, and choose our own employers, and demand better wages if we pleased. The Government agents also told us that this was the law of Queensland. It was the law, and we have bought that freedom under British law of Queensland and by contract.
Queensland is our domicile of choice, and none of us, your Majesty’s humble petitioners, is willing to be sent away in manner enacted by recent law of the Commonwealth. We are as lawabiding, honest, sober, and industrious as the white colonists, and as loyal and attached to the throne and person of your Most Excellent Majesty, but we are a weak people, and have no consular officers to plead our cause in the courts of your Majesty, and we are poor.
In another paragraph they recite what they find fault with in the Act as follows : -
Government of Queensland, and that Government recognises that they are not in accordance with the rights acquired by the islanders, and we humbly submit to your Majesty that -
No doubt the Government would try to send them where they liked to go, but where they are to be sent to is not mentioned in the Act.
Numbers of these men are missionaries who came over with the islanders. teachers and hospital attendants working amongst their brother islanders in Queensland. Many hundreds of the islanders were unable to obtain these exemption tickets on or before 1st September, 1884, and could not legally obtain them since that date.
English common law, and of freedom, justice, and mercy, and are an invasion of contractual obligations entered into by a powerful nation with the helpless people of the Pacific Islands.
They finish in this way -
– On behalf of how many islanders is that petition signed ?
– Did they know what they were signing?
– This petition having been sent to me, I thought it my duty to read it, and look into the matter. I do not want to pose as being more kindly than any other honorable senator, but if others had seen what I have seen, and had lived in Queensland as long as I have done, they would have regarded it as their duty to bring the matter forward.
– How long is it since the honorable senator was in Queensland last?
– I have a house in Queensland at the present moment. It is about fifteen years since I resided there, but I go up once every year. Mr. J. J. Kingsbury, a barrister well known in Brisbane, drafted the petition I have read, at the request of Mr. Rutledge, the Attorney-General of the State. Mr, Kingsbury wrote on the subject to Mr. Douglas Rannie, one of the assistant inspectors of the Polynesians, who wrote in reply the following letter, which he permitted Mr. Kingsbury to publish. The letter appeared in the Brisbane Courier of 18th June.
– What does the honorable senator want - what is he driving at?
– I will state what I am leading up to in a moment. First of all I want honorable senators to know the facts ; then I shall tell them what I want the Government to do. Mr. Douglas Rannie has had eighteen years’ experience of the Polynesians, and it is as well that honorable senators should know what he has to say. His letter is as follows : -
Having carefully read the copy given me by you, I can deeply sympathize with the Pacific Islanders now residing in Queensland in their petition to his Majesty the King, in which they pray that his Majesty may be graciously pleased to disallow, and annul, the law of the Act passed by the Commonwealth of Australia, which enforces the deporting of these unfortunate people from this State back to the horrors and unutterable cruelties and heathenism of their savage islands.
As you are aware, I have had unique opportunities of studying and acquainting myself with the ways, habits, and customs of the South Sea Islanders, having been in close contact with them during the last eighteen years, the first nine years of which I spent cruising among the islands, and the last nine as assistant inspector of Pacific Islands in the Mackay and Bundaberg districts. And a little over two years ago I made another cruise through the New Hebrides and Banks Groups.
I am quite in accord with, and can vouch for, the truth of the pleas set forth andthe statements made by the islanders in their petition.
Many instances may be cited of poor unfortunates who have been condemned by their bloodthirsty and cannibal chiefs to torture, sacrifice, and death, making their escape and taking refuge on board Queensland vessels to be there told by Government agents that they were safe, and by going to Queensland they need never fear that they will ever again come under the thraldom of their cruel chiefs. Now their return would insure certain torture and death.
Again, in intertribal wars, I have seen villages in flames, the country laid waste, and poor wretches fleeing for their lives, hotly pursued by their murderous enemies. Many of them have been succoured by Queensland vessels, and been assured that they could live in peace in Queensland for the rest of their days, if they so desired.
If they returned now they would meet with tribal vengeance, and certainly be put to death.
In their internecine wars I have known whole villages, and sometimes districts, to have been annihilated, while many people from those parts were working in this State, and, should they return, it would only be to be killed by their neighbours. I saw a case in point in Wanderer Bay, Guadalcanar. Eight men were landed from a Queensland vessel ; when they got to their village, too late to retreat, they found the cold ashes of their ruined houses, and six of the eight fell beneath the tomahawks of their savage neighbours. The two Survivors, who were spared, having friends among the murderers, recounted the whole affair to me, and showed me the skulls of their slaughtered comrades bleaching on a beach in front of the chief’s house.
As we all well know, many men and women hailing from different islands have been married here in Christian churches, and if compelled to retain to their islands, all ties between husband amd wife must be broken, as the man dare not land on his wife’s island, nor the wife on the island of her husband, unless they wish to court death, or worse in the case of the woman. If they agree to part, what is to become of their children ?
This is what he saw with his own eyes.
I witnessed a parting of this kind at Aoba, New Hebrides. It was distressing in the extreme. After a sorrowful parting from her husband, the woman landed with her little child. The child was immediately taken charge of by some of the women on the beach, while the mother fell on her knees before the chief. She was roused from her suppliant attitude by a blow from the butt end of a rifle, wielded by a brawny native. With a scream she rushed towards her child, but was thrust aside by some of the mob, and the same native who struck the distracted mother, toro the child from the arms of the woman who held it, threw it on to the stones, and stepping back, blew its brains out with his rifle.
On one occasion, I rescued a Santo woman from Tanna, who had returned from Samoa, and hod landed by a German vessel along with her Tannese husband.’ But he had no power to protect her. And on another I rescued a New Ireland woman who had been landed in a similar manner -on Guadalcanar. Both women had been horribly mutilated, and they described to me the terrible tortures they had endured, and stated that had they not made their escape they would eventually have been put to a fearful death.
Of those who have become Christians, if they return to their islands, in many cases they will have to suffer persecution and death, as they “have learned to abhor the heathen rites and practices of their countrymen, and have thrown off the ignorance and superstition which enslaved “them to their demon-worshipping chiefs; yet they -are unable to appeal in their own islands for protection or redress at the hands of any civilized power.
In other cases where islands have been settled on bv Europeans, and are semi-civilized, the returned islander will find that what was once his home has been acquired, unknown to him, by white traders and planters during his sojourn in Queensland; and on the spot and for miles around, where once he grew his yams and taro, the white man has his coffee, cotton, maize and tobacco plantations. Especially will this be found in Efate, Api, Mallicolo, and Santo, all in “.the New Hebrides groups.
What, then, is to become of the returned Islander in those parts? Having no place to settle down on, he must either become a burden on the white settlers or die of starvation. Or, what is more likely, join some of the wild bush tribes, and lead them in their murderous onslaughts on the white settlers, whom he will deem the usurpers of his land.
Then, what of the kanaka children born in this State, educated in our State schools, brought up in our Sunday-schools; taught to love God the Great Creator of all, and led to believe in and love and trust His Son, our Saviour the Redeemer of all mankind, the black man as well as the white ? Must these young men and women and children be banished with their parents into the blackness and darkness and corruption of heathenism ? Surely, in this twentieth century of Christendom, the dawning Commonwealth of Australia will not be permitted to be sullied by such an atrocious crime as the forcible deportation of these poor islanders from our shores. Not from the mere ground of sentimentalism, but from the Stand-point of a humanitarian and a Christian, I view with horror, contempt, and disgust, the action of some so-called ministers of the Gospel, and professing Christians, who clamour for, and join in the hue and wy to drive these young Christians down to the misery and barbarism, moral and physical death, from which their parents and the working Christians of this State have striven so hard to keep them. God help these self-styled followers and preachers of the Gospel of the gentle Jesus, when they stand forth for judgment. May that cry stand them in good stead which rang out from Calvary, 2,000 years ago, from the lips of our dying Saviour, “ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I do not propose to say much more except to make a few suggestions. Many honorable senators probably did not know that there was a possibility of such misery ensuing from the deportation of these unfortunate people. I am very glad to learn from the representatives of the Government - and I thank them for drawing my attention to the fact - that there is no necessity to suppose that each islander will be sent back to his own island. They are simply” to be deported from’ Queensland. But where are they to go to? I hope that the Government will see the advisability of exercising a large discretionary power in regard to their deportation. It is possible that many of the islanders might, subject to the approval of the Fijian Government, be employed upon the plantations at .Fiji, and inquiries might be made to ascertain whether that could be done. We want to get quit of them from the Commonwealth, but we do not want to send them where they will be massacred, o.r at least maltreated. I trust that the Government will institute inquiries, say through the British Commissioner in the New Hebrides, to ascertain what can be done to place the islanders who are deported from Queensland in such situations that, at any rate, they cannot be maltreated ; and a Bill might be brought in giving greater discretionary power in regard to deportation. Of course, the expenditure in connexion with the deportation must be borne by the
Government. When the Honorable John Douglas was here last week I spoke with him in regard to the South Sea Islanders, and the possibility of their engaging in the pearl fisheries. Mr. Douglas, as an old politician, evidently coincides with the policy of a White Australia so far as concerns the mainland, but he considers that the Government might distinguish between the mainland and the islands in the Torres Straits. I am pleased to learn that many South Sea Islanders have married Torres Straits Islanders, and that the result is that the rising generation is a great improvement on the present one. The South Sea Islanders teach the Torres Straits Islanders how to make better houses and boats, and they are most useful in the pearl-shelling industry. I would draw the attention of the Government to the reference in the petition to the kanaka children now in Queensland. I presume that, as British subjects, they will not be deported against their own wish if they are fifteen or sixteen years of age, and able to judge of the advantages or disadvantages of being sent to semi-barbarous islands ! This, of course, is not a party question, and if I have detained the Senate too long in dealing with it, I have done so simply from a deep sense of duty. It is no. pleasure for me to address any assembly at great length. I wish the Government to say that they will make inquiries from the British Commissioner in the New Hebrides, or, if need be, from the missionaries, to ascertain whether there are any islands to which these men can be deported without being massacred or molested. What I desire to know is whether the Government will take the necessary power, if need be, to pay the expenses of these islanders, many of whom may desire to go to Fiji, where they would be welcomed. The Queensland State law necessitates their return to the islands from which they came.
– No. I wish to give the Government timely notice, so that, if necessary, they can bring in a Bill to extend the time of deportation. I want to strengthen the hands df the Government in carrying out what “the people desire them to do, and I am sure that the people of Australia wish the
Act to be administered in a humanitarian way. Speaking again subject to correction, I would point out that recently the captain of a ship at Bundaberg declined to take the responsibility of conveying a cargo of kanakas to the islands, knowing well how they would be treated on being landed there. I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will give us some assurance that the kanakas will not be sent to islands where they will be massacred or molested.
– I am sure we all realize that the action taken by Senator Walker has been prompted by that kindliness of heart which we know he possesses, and which endears him to every member of this Chamber. I do not complain of the action taken by the honorable senator in bringing this matter forward, because it enables me to make a statement of the position of which perhaps he is not aware. Senator Walker brought forward a petition as forming the text of what he had to say. I think he will realize at once that it is impossible to comply with the prayer of that petition, because it is nothing less than a request that the Act shall be repealed.
– All the more reason for mentioning it here.
– That cannot be. I take it that the practical effect of what the honorable senator has brought forward is that, in carrying out the provisions of this Act, the utmost humanity shall be shown, consistently with the unwavering administration of the law in the spirit in which it has been passed. I can assure the honorable senator that it has always been the desire of the Government to administer the Act in that way.
– Honorable senators from Queensland have always desired that it should be so administered.
– Undoubtedly. I am certain that there is no honorable senator, and, indeed, no member of the public, strongly believing in the principle of a “White “ Australia, who would hesitate for one moment to urge that every endeavour should be made to make the burden of the Act fall as lightly as possible upon those who must suffer under it. The honorable senator will realize that Australia has decided - and, as most of us think, upon absolutely necessary grounds - that an end shall be put, not only to the importation of kanakas, but as far as possible to the residence of kanakas amongst us. When we remember that we have to deal with some 8,000 of these people, many of them resident for some time in Queensland, we must realize that it is hardly possible to administer an Act of this kind without some cases of hardship occurring. What we have to consider in regard to this, as in regard to all other measures of national concern, is - ‘ ‘ Is it necessary that individuals shall suffer for the sake of the Commonwealth ?” This is one of those cases in which we think it impossible to insure permanent security to the Commonwealth from the social evil which threatens it, if the importation of these coloured races continues, without inflicting some suffering. What is the position? At the present time, under the Pacific Islands Labourers Act, no one can be deported unless a magistrate has made an order in that behalf. That provision applies to all deportations up to the year 1906. The arrangements for deportation have to be made under section 8, and there can be no deportation without an order being made under that section. That means that each individual case will be, and must be, inquired into. In making the deportations the Government will take good care that the Act is carried out without the infliction of unnecessary hardshipon the persons to be deported. After 1906, deportations can take place upon the order of the Minister administering the Act, and there is no doubt that the deportations which must take place in 1906 - after this period of grace has run out - will have to be more or less of a general character. In dealing with them the Government will be actuated by precisely the same motives as before. The honorable senator may rest assured that the Government will take good care that before the time arrives for carrying out these deportations every inquiry will be made, so that there shall be, as far as possible, no inhumanity, and no hardship inflicted upon individuals. I am sure the honorable senator knows as well as any one here that the condition of. the Pacific Islands is rapidly changing, and although there may be islands to which it might be unsafe to deport kanakas who have worked as labourers in Queensland, there are many others which have rapidly become civilized, and in which employment can be found for these “ boys.” The Government will take every care, in making these deportations, that they have all the information necessary to indicate the places to which the men should be sent. Nothing more can be done. The Government have determined to carry out the policy of this legislation without faltering in any way. They have also determined to takeevery care that the carrying out of that policy shall not bear more harshly than is absolutely necessary upon any individual.
– Can the honorable and learned senator tell us what has been done with the kanakas whom the master of the ship at Bundaberg refused to take to the islands?
– I do not remember the circumstance to which the honorable senator alludes, and I can give him no information upon the subject.
– I do not think the statement made by Senator O’Connor is entirely satisfactory. He told us in his concluding sentence that the Government would take care that the principles of humanity were observed in making deportations, but in an earlier portion of his speech he said that all humanity consistently with the full carrying out of the Act would be observed. That is to say, that if it were necessary to be inhuman, the Government would be prepared to be inhuman as long as they got rid of the kanakas. I do not think that is quite in consonance with the temper of Australia. If the honorable and learned senator had said that the Government were prepared to strain the law if the principles of humanity required it, he would have said something that would have satisfied the feelings of the people of Australia.
– If I had said that, the honorable senator would still have discovered something with which to find fault.
– I do not think so ; if the honorable senator will give me that assurance I shall be satisfied.
– I shall give only the assurance which I have already given.
– That assurance is not as satisfactory as we have a right to expect, and it is one that does not entirely reflect credit upon the Government.
– Unlike Senator Pulsford I am perfectly satisfied with the assurance which has been given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I think it is ample. I gathered from his statement that the Government were determined to carry out the provisions of the Act ; but that, in doing so, they would observe humanitarian principles.
– And that they would be inhuman, if necessary.
– Not” at all. The honorable senator is evidently labouring under a misconception. Senator Walker will have to excuse some honorable senators from Queensland if they view his attitude in the light of suspicion, because we have had a very long and painful experience of the gentlemen who are deeply interested in the retention of the kanaka trade. AVe have learned from experience to view with suspicion every effort put forward by them, to become suspicious even of the persons they engage in that behalf, although they may have previously borne the most excellent character. In connexion with the traffic in Queensland there has been nothing but falsehood upon falsehood, and deception after deception practiced. The very petition which was read by Senator Walker lets the cat out of the bag, when it sets forth that many of the 3,000 islanders affected by it are artisans, boat-builders - and are in fact competing with white labour in the open market of Queensland. It sets forth that they have learned trades in Queensland, and that when they were engaged they were promised by the Government agents, by the recruiting agents, and every one concerned, that they would not be returned to their islands. The express provision of the State Act, however, was that they should be deported at the end of a certain period, and, in answer to those who were opposed to the introduction of kanakas, it was unmistakably stated upon public platforms, upon the floor of the State Assembly, and through the press, that such would be the course pursued. It was -stated time after time that the kanakas would be engaged only for a term of .three years, and that they would be returned totheir islands at the end of their engagement.
– Could they not be re-engaged?
– I believe they could for about twelve months. But Senator Walker has stated that the consistent policy of the State has been to keep these islanders in Queensland ; that Queensland was to be their home for all time, and that they were not to be restricted to work in the cane-fields - work which white men were presumed to be physically incapable of performing. Now we have a full and true statement* from the advocates of the kanaka trade.
– It would have been against the law to allow them to work outside the cane-fields.
– That only shows the unscrupulousness of the advocates of the kanaka trade, who have been lying from daylight until dark and from dark until daylight. Having this experience and the evidence contained in the petition submitted this afternoon, we have good reasons for. viewing with suspicion any overtures made by these people. Under the circumstances, perhaps Senator Walker will pardon us for having for the moment viewed even him with suspicion when we discovered in him a new recruit for the advocates of the kanaka.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suppose that I am interested by any personal motives in the matter ? «
– I was going to remark that I see no harm in the request made by the honorable senator. We shall do all we possibly can to assist him, but I am making these observations in order that the honorable senator and those who think they may by roundabout or underhand methods still continue to keep their dearly-beloved kanaka in the State of Queensland, may know that we shall be continually on the alert, and will feel it our. duty to prevent them carrying their wishes into effect. In submitting, his very reasonable and modest request, Senator Walker availed himself of the opportunity to draw a lurid picture of what is happening, to the poor unfortunate kanaka when he is deported to his island home. I cannot help thinking that that was an effort at sensationalism on the part of the honorable senator, and that the idea was to paint such a gory picture for the public of the Commonwealth, that there- would be an immediate clamour on humanitarian grounds, backed up by the great power of the Christian church; that a great agitation should be immediately started in every State of the Commonwealth in order to bring, about the repeal of the Act. But if the drawing of lurid pictures is to be the order of the day, those who are in favour of the deportation of kanakas are in a position to draw very many pictures of that description. Senator Walker told us of a child being brained in the presence of its mother on being returned to the islands, but perhaps that honorable senator does not know what has happened to our own white women in Queensland as a consequence of the importation and retention of the kanakas for the work of the sugar fields. Year after year the whole population of the State has been thrilled with horror by the accounts of brutal murders that have taken place where white men and white women have been butchered by kanakas. Senator Glassey, as the representative for many years in the Queensland Parliament of a district in which the kanaka element was very large, could tell honorable ^senators of some most dastardly crimes that have been perpetrated there by kanakas. As a matter of fact, there are places and towns along the coast of Queensland where the kanaka is a large element of the population where it is absolutely unsafe, not only for white women, but for white men to be about after dark.
– Nonsense !
– Senator Dobson, the cocksure senator from Tasmania, says “ Nonsense,” but the honorable senator has never been in those places. He has never had any of his women-folk beyond Mackay. Women have been, in those districts helpless and absolutely at the mercy of the kanakas, and some have been brutally butchered. The honorable and learned senator has never had any of his women folk in that position. I trust that whatever effort may be made, whether in the guise of an innocent motion, or in whatever shape it may present itself, honorable senators will not be deluded into relaxing in the slightest degree their determination to carry out to the very letter the principles of the Act they have passed.
– I feel such astonishment at heaving my honorable friend, who, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council said a minute ago, has endeared himself to every member of the Senate, described as an exponent of sensationalism, that I feel that I must say one word. If there is one attribute which, amongst the excellent virtues which Senator Walker possesses, he does not possess, it is that of sensationalism. I envy Senator Dawson his command of a picturesque vocabulary, but if there has been any lurid or gory picture drawn, it has not been in the statements which Senator Walker has made, but in an effort to draw a very gory red herring across the trail by the introduction of a lot of general, vague, and, I think I may call them, wild statements o
– Wildly exaggerated statements.
– Not in the slightest degree.
– As to the terrible consequences which may happen to white people, and especially to white women, in certain parts of Queensland.
– No ; but what has actually occurred.
– We all agree that it is deplorable that attacks should be made upon our women folk, but I think most of us are aware that deplorable attacks of that kind are not confined to the kanakas. The records of those criminal courts to which I resort occasionally with great pain are not exclusively confined, so far as regards offences against the person, to people of coloured races. I think it is just as well that we should bear that in mind, and that we should not allow our emotions to be unduly excited by so painful an oratorical picture as my honorable friend Senator Dawson has just painted. , Senator Walker is not a sensationalist, but, as has been said, a kindhearted and humane man. Whilst he has related, in somewhat prosaic terms I think, the facts, as he believes them, which have come to his knowledge, being what he is the honorable senator could not help exhibiting some little emotion in connexion with such a terrible state of things as he described. I think it is well that the matters to which he has referred should have been brought under the attention of the Senate and under the attention of the country. At the same time, I do not quite follow my honorable friend Senator Pulsford in thinking that what the VicePresident of the Executive Council has said is not as satisfactory as we could expect under the circumstances. We have passed a law, and, as I gather, Senator O’Connor says that the Government will endeavour to carry it out humanely. ‘ Though I was opposed, and am still opposed, to the Act, and think that a very drastic remedy was sought for what is practically no disease at all, still there is the statute, and though no doubt hardships may arise under it, we have to do the best we can with it. I am quite sure the Government will not be actuated by any cruel or inhuman motive’s in the course of action which they may pursue. I have yet to learn that the fact that a number of the kanakas possess sufficient intelligence to have acquired a knowledge of some trade is an additional reason why they should be sent back to their islands at the risk of assassination and death. I have a very great admiration for the logical power of my honorable friend, Senator Dawson, but I think the honorable senator forgot it for the moment when he referred to that circumstance as completely knocking the ground from under the feet of Senator Walker.
– I referred to that in another sense altogether.
– Instead of that being an additional reason why they should be sent back bag and baggage to their islands, it seems to me rather a reason for consideration as to whether we should not keep such eligible and intelligent people here. What earthly harm will be done by retaining a few kanakas who have acquired a knowledge of some handicraft, I cannot understand. If we are to send away people of the coloured races because they are more intelligent than we would expect them to be we should immediately pass a law to expel all Chinese cabinet-makers, gardeners, and so on.
– Such a law would be a blessing to Australia.
– If that is the logical conclusion, we shall have to face it at the proper time. But at present it seems to me that Senator Walker has done good service in the course he has pursued, and probably he will be satisfied with the assurance ‘given that so far as possible in the administration of the Act every effort will be made to avoid hardship, and’ certainly to avoid serious injury to individuals.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).The assurance given by the Government upon this matter appears to me to be rather bald and unsatisfactory. We are told that we have passed a law and that it must be carried out. I wish to make a suggestion. We have lately annexed a tropical territory in New Guinea. It is well suited for the growth of sugar, and as the kanakas have been accustomed to the cultivation of sugar-cane, I suggest that arrangements might be made to deport to New Guinea a number of them who have no island hemes to go to, as they could be employed on large sugar plantations in that territory. The suggestion, I think, is worthy of consideration, and I make it for what it is worth.’
– I am sure we all sympathize very heartily with Senator Walker in his attempt to ‘extract from the Government a statement as to what is to be their policy with regard to the kanakas we have here. I may tell the’ honorable senator that whilst he was absent in England the labour senators from Queensland brought to bear upon the Government whatever influence they were able to command in the very direction he has hinted at today. We specifically asked the Government to administer the law in as humane a fashion as possible. We got a promise from the Government that that would be done, and that being the case, I do not think there is very much more to be said upon the subject. There is, however, this much to be said : We never heard of the great difficulties that stood in the way of these islanders being sent back to their islands until the enactment of the Commonwealth law. While their deportation was in the hands of the Queensland Government, when some of us hinted that their might be trouble between the boys going back and those on the islands, it was denied over and over again. It was always denied that there was any trouble, but now it appears that there is trouble. I always believed that there was, and I believe so still. So far as I am personally concerned, I would not advocate the deportation of any married kanaka, or any halfcast kanaka or kanaka born in Australia. While I should be prepared to resist to the utmost the importation of any more, I would give the fullest and freest rights of citizenship to those who have been here for a number of years, who have married here and acquired property, and especially those who have been born here. I would not countenance in any shape or form any invasion of their lights.
– I quite agree with the remarks made by some honorable senators as to the way in which Senator Walker brought this matter forward. I agree that it redounds to the honorable senator’s kindly feeling and good nature, and that it has had the effect of extracting from the Government a public statement with regard to their policy is a matter for congratulation. Whatever may be our views as to the wisdom or otherwise of the Act dealing with kanakas, we have to recognise the fact that such a law has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and that notwithstanding the petition referred to by SenatorWalker, it has been approved by the authorities at home. The only thing we can now do is to make sure that the Government will exercise the greatest care and humanity possible in the administration of the law. When we have such reports as have been referred to by Senator Walker made public through the press, it is well that the public generally should understand that the Commonwealth Parliament, from whom this law has emanated, is at all times prepared to probe into all representations made as to any violation of the law or any inhumanity or cruelty that may result as a consequence of it.
– And brutality whereever the kanaka is.
.- Wherever brutality is alleged, it is well that it should be inquired into. While we in Australia may be perfectly satisfied as to the way in which the law is being administered, we must bear in mind that it may be made a great deal of in other parts of the world. It is a law which directs special attention to Australia in the old country, and which is likely to give rise to a great many misrepresentations as to the result of its operation. Therefore, when any representations are made, it is well that they should be inquired into at the fountain-head - in the Parliament from which the Act emanated. In his speech Senator Stewart expressed views which are not embodied in the Act. If I understood him aright, he said that he would be no party to insisting upon the removal of, among others, persons who have had a residence or domicile in the Commonwealth for some considerable period.
– The exercise of the power given in the Act is entirely discretionary. The Government may apply it to those whom they think fit.
– I have no doubt that it is a discretionary power, but. a promise has been made to honorable senators generally who are in favour of the law, that it would be exercised. I understand that many honorable senators voted for the Bill because they wished all kanakas to be removed from Queensland within a limited period, and if the Government were to say, “ We shall not remove the kanakas who are here at the present time,” they would probably lay themselves open to a charge of non-administration of the Act in accordance with the intention of the Parliament.
– A large number of the kanaks of whom the honorable senator is speaking would come under the exemption clause.
– Yes. All the kanakas - 700 or 800, I am told by Senator Walker - who got exemption certificates before 1884 cannot be interfered with. We know that under this law those who came into Queensland within more recent years can only be employed in one branch of industry. It would no doubt have been an easy matter to have allowed these men to remain where they were, kept to the particular line of industry for which they were imported, and not to have allowed further importations to take place under any circumstances. However, the law is not framed exactly in that way, and we only have to see that it is administered by the Government in a humane manner. I am not one of those who believe that the present or any future Government would do otherwise than exercise the power which is placed in their hands under this Bill as considerately and reasonably as possible, and if they found that it was impossible to deal with these questions fairly, considerately, and humanely, they would take steps - in which I believe they would be supported by Parliament - to make such alterations as would get rid of any valid charge of inhumanity in the administration of the law. ‘Referring to the petition, Senator Dawson said that it showed that an effort was being made outside these kanakas for the purpose of retaining kanakas in Queensland.
– I said that we viewed it with suspicion, as we did every movement in that direction.
.- The honorable senatoralluded to the fact that some of these men said they were boatmen, and were engaged in two or three occupations. It should be borne in mind that it has only been in recent years that the kanaka had to be confined to one class of industry. In the earlier years he was allowed to go into any branch of industry he liked. I understand that some of those who signed the petition have been resident in Queensland for 30 or 40 years.
– He was restricted from the very jump.
– What about the men who are travelling in Queensland with certificates of exemption 1 They are not restricted from engaging in any occupation which they may see fit to follow. I do not think that the petition bears out the statement which the honorable senator made that it was only a trick on the part of certain persons to keep the kanakas in Queensland. We know that the representatives of that State in both Houses of this Parliament are strongly in favour of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and that they are altogether opposed to the continuance of black labour, but that the Government of Queensland take a decidedly opposite view to theirs, showing that in their State there is a strong feeling of hostility to the measure. But the honorable senator should not take up the idea that, because a man brings forward a question of this kind in the way in which Senator Walker has, he in any way desires to undermine or go behind the law as it exists. While it exists, it is our duty to observe its provisions. When we find that it is not a desirable one, it is our duty, if we can, to see that it is amended, but beyond that I do not see that we have any right to go. I am very glad that Senator Walker has given an opportunity, not only to the Government to declare publicly their policy with regard to the administration of the Act, but to honorable senators to say a few words on the subject, and to make suggestions as to the direction in which the Government should go in dealing with the kanakas when the day for deportation comes round.
– Some honorable senators think that there is very little, in fact nothing, more to be said on this question, but it appears to me that a great deal will have to be said in the future, because the Senate has assisted to pass a measure which, I think, may tend to work a large amount of injustice and cruelty. I am in accord with Senator Pulsford, who is not quite satisfied with the promise which Senator O’Connor gave. The Government have made a statement, through their mouthpiece, to the effect that the Act will be administered with as little injustice and inhumanity as possible. But what right have we to mete out any measure of injustice, hardship, cruelty, or inhumanity to these 9,000 kanakas who were imported from different islands in order to serve and benefit the sugar planters of Queensland? I think that Senator O’Connor has not gone far enough. He has told us that the repeal of the Act is impossible ; that the Government will carry out the law, but that in doing so they will act on humane principles. To that statement we can only say, “ Thank-you-for-nothing.” We expect every Government in carrying out every Act to deal humanely with people. The question, to my mind, is whether this Act is not a blot on our statute-book. I assert most unhesitatingly that it is. The first part of section 8 provides that if any officer appointed in that behalf brings before any court a kanaka who is not serving under an agreement, and the court has evidence of that fact, it shall order that the kanaka shall be forthwith deported, and there is no discretion left to the Government at all. The next part of the section provides that if any kanaka is found in the State after 1906, the Government may deport him. In that section there is a mandatory provision and there is also a discretionary provision. Ifmyfriends of the labour party object, as they appear to do, to the kanakas dwelling in Queensland and carrying on various industries there ; if they object to their competition as labourers, they have nothing to do but to bring the unfortunate kanaka before the court, and the presiding magistrate will then have no alternative but to direct that he be forthwith deported. I was very pleased to hear the remark ofSenator Stewart that under no circumstances would he advocate that the married kanakas should be deported. Why did not the honorable senator, and others who think with him, put in the Bill some clause which would give a wider discretion and safeguard the lives and liberties of the married kanakas and their wives and children? According to the first sub-section of section 8, the idea of Senator Stewart cannot be carried out, and if 50 or 1,000 kanakas were brought before a court, married men with children, leading reputable lives, attending the night schools, as 3,500 of them do, with An account in the savings bank, as 3,000 of them have, they would have to be deported. ‘We may have the clearest evidence that the men would be going to their certain death, and under an Act of Parliament we, the Senate and the other House, would have sent them to their certain death. Therefore, we should not gloss over this matter, but ask ourselves whether Parliament has or has not passed an Act which is founded on cruelty and inhumanity.
– I call the attention of the honorable and learned senator to Standing Order 138, which” says that -
No member shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or against any statute unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
– I am grateful to you, sir, for calling my attention to the standing order which I ought to have recollected, but it does not alter the fact that it is of no use for us to try to gloss over a mistake which we have made. 1 quite agree with Senator Pulsford that Senator O’Connor has practically admitted that some inhumanity, and some hardship will have to be borne by these men in the carrying out of the Act. All I have to do is to express my earnest hope that he will see that no injustice, cruelty, or unfairness will be meted out to any one of the 9,000 kanakas in order to carry out any law which has been placed on our statute-book.
– During the progress of the discussion, I have been wondering when this kanaka question is likely to come to an end.
– Not yet a while. The consciense of the people is being aroused over it.
– I promise honorable senators that if the question is going to be so frequently raised, there will be a good deal of inhumanity on the other side disclosed, and I am one of the men who will produce the evidence.
– We shall produce evidence.
– I may produce evidence which will bring the blush of shame to the cheek of the honorable and learned senator.
– We have read it all - columns and columns of it.
– The honorable and learned senator has not read a good deal of it, and I promise that he shall hear more of it. There are matters in connexion with this abominable traffic which willnot bear investigation, and which certainly will not bear public discussion. If this question is going to be raised time and again, as there are indications that it is, however disagreeable it may be to bring forward certain matters - and I am bound to confess that it will be - I am the one who will not hesitate to do it, and if I do not bring the blush of shame to the cheek of any honorable senator who dare to perpetuate this evil, then I shall be convinced that it is impossible for him to blush.
– The matter brought forward by Senator Walker is not the policy of the Act, but the mode of its administration.
– What is the real object of this discussion ?
– To discuss the method of the administration of the Act.
– . The real object of the discussion is to reflect on the statute, and to urge its repeal.
– Then I would point out that it ought not to be brought forward on this motion.
– The real object of this motion is the repeal of the Act, and to reflect upon both branches of the Legislature by whom the Act was passed.
– It will not be repealed, but it will not be carried out.
– Has the honorable and learned senator any ground for saying that the Act will not be carried out ?
– I rise to a point of order. I only referred to the administration of the Act, and I have nothing to do with what some people desire. We hope and believe that the Act will be administered as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured us it will be, in a humanitarian manner.
– Is it not perfect moonshine to say that this action has been taken merely with a view of insuring that the Act shall be carried out in a humane manner? Does Senator Walker mean to say that the present Government are callous to the welfare of the kanakas, and are not prepared to administer the Act wisely, well, and in accordance with principles of humanity ?
– They should have greater powers than they have now.
– There is an Act of Parliament on the statute book, and the Government will undoubtedly administer it in a wise and just manner. But Senator Dobson says that it will not be administered at all.
– Hear, hear.
– What is the honorable and learned senator’s authority for saying so ? Is he in the counsels of the Ministry, or is he hoping that this Government will shortly he sent out of office and that a Ministry more in harmony with his ideas will be placed in power 1 If so, I tell Senator Dobson that if any other Ministry comes into power this Act will still be administered. No Government could survive 24 hours, so far as the present Parliament is concerned, if it did not administer the Act. What did those of us who represent Queensland come here for 1 Did we know nothing of the conditions of the kanaka traffic 1 Unfortunately, we knew too much. So far as my experience goes - and I think I have had as much experience of this traffic as any man in Australia during the last eighteen years - the traffic cannot be defended, and ought not -to be perpetuated. Now, I am pleased to say, there is a statute in force that will put an end to it within a specified time. But there is no man in Queensland who believes in the suppression of the kanaka traffic who would say that the Act should not be administered with discretion. I have stated in this Chamber more than once that, notwithstanding my strong objection to the retention of the kanakas, and my knowledge of the evils of the traffic - not only the evils upon the surface, but those below the surface - the suppression of it should be carried out humanely and with tact. But if the question is to be debated again, I tell honorable senators that there are many things in connexion with the evil that have not been stated publicly. Many of the vilest and grossest things connected with it have not been mentioned on the floor of this Chamber, but they can and will be stated if necessary, even though it is considered indelicate to mention them. I should be very sorry to do it, but if I am tempted, and if we find that this matter is re-opened again and again, with a view of inflaming the minds of the people of Australia - if this attempt is likely to be successful - then unquestionably the dark side of the question will be brought forward very much to the shame and discomfiture, if not to the disgrace, of those who want to perpetuate the evil. I have said before, and I now repeat, that where a kanaka has lost his friends in the islands, or has been in Australia a large number of years, or where his tribe has been removed by some means, so that it would be unsafe to land him at the island from which he came, it would be manifestly unjust and cruel to deport such an islander. 45 a
– This alleged inhumanity is only a sudden discovery.
– Certainly it is. What I have stated is the position which we have always taken up.
– How can the Government exercise discretion under the Act ?
– It is hardly possible to reason with a man constituted like the honorable senator. There is no law in the world which cannot be administered with discretion, and I presume that the Act of Parliament in question can be so administered. I have stated in my place not only in the Senate, but also in the Legislative Assembly of my own State, that’ no man who advocates tha abolition of the kanaka traffic wishes any harm to come to the islanders. But year by year a number of islanders have been returned to their islands in accordance with our State law. I have statistics before me showing the deportations for the year 1901. In that year nearly 900 islanders were returned to their islands, whilst 1,700 were brought into Queensland. We did not hear a single word of any hardship or difficulty in the administration of the law regarding the return of kanakas to their islands prior to the Commonwealth Act being placed upon the Statute Book. But the moment the Commonwealth Parliament legislated upon the question, and so soon as the people interested found that for the first time in the history of Australia the subject had been dealt with effectually, a violent outcry was got up against the inhumanity of sending the islanders back to the places from which they came. Why have we not heard this cry before 1 It is sheer nonsense on the part of some honorable senators, and of persons outside, to endeavour to create a false alarm, and to represent the condition of the islanders as being something desperate, when we know that their deportation is now taking place every year, and has been going on for many years, without a single syllable being raised against the practice. But the outcry is raised for the reason I have given - because for the first time the people who believe in the kanaka traffic realize that Australia has wakened up to the extent of the evil, and has declared in language clear and’ strong that it shall come to an end -within a reasonable period. It is urged that it would be cruel and wrong to send back these poor islanders. Was it cruel and wrong to send back some 900 of them last year? We never heard about the inhumanity of that. It is sheer nonsense and mere idle talk - it is so much hypocritical sentiment introduced into the matter with the view of raising false issues in the country - to say that the Act will lead to cruelty. There are a number of honorable members in both Houses of the legislature who, if this outcry is continued, will take care that the real facts of the case are made known and that the plain and distinct issues - some of which have not yet been raised - are placed before the country.
– The honorable senator has already raised all he could.
– I could raise far more objections to the kanaka evil than have yet been advanced - evils far more diabolical in their character than have yet been publicly mentioned. I promise that if certain honorable senators intend to keep this sore running, undoubtedly we shall take another little bit of the plaster off, and show that the full extent of the evils of the traffic that have not yet been represented to Parliament and the country.
– My honorable friend Senator Glassey says that it is almost impossible to reason with a man whose view of this question is like my own. I listened to the honorable member for about five hours while he delivered a speech upon the horrors of the kanaka traffic, and pointed out in the most eloquent terms the great injustice and inhumanity that would be wrought by continuing to take the kanakas from their homes in the islands. I really thought that the honorable senator was in earnest. I did not think that his statement was all clap-trap. I thought, from the eloquence that he poured out before the Senate, that there was something at the back of it, and that it was not merely talking to the gallery and striving to create false sympathy. I was influenced by the honorable senator’s eloquence when I moved to the effect that the importation of kanakas should cease, and that the deportation should not take place. But where was the honorable senator to be found when the division took place ? He was to be found voting against my proposal, clearly showing that ‘he did not believe in the case he had brought before the Senate. If he had believed in it, a man with his great sympathies could not for one moment have allowed the traffic to continue any longer.
– The honorable senator has got him there !
– Of course I have got him ; and then for the honorable senator to say that” the Government ought to administer the Act on humanitarian lines is all nonsense. I say that he, and those who voted with him, did not give the Government any chance to administer the Act on humanitarian lines. Therefore it is sheer clap-trap and hypocrisy for the honorable senator to come here and make the statement he has done. I say now, as I said on the previous occasion, that the Act involves one of the grossest cases of injustice and cruelty that could be performed by any people or Government.
– The honorable senator must not reflect upon the Act.
– Then I think I am justified by the result in reflecting on those who passed the Act.
– The honorable senator is not in order. He can only reflect upon the administration.
– I have only to repeat that I foresaw the difficulties that would arise in attempting to administer the Act. Now we are brought face to face with those difficulties, and can only hope that something will be done that will remove the stigma which is now resting upon the Parliament in regard to its administration.
– The honorable senator is not in order in saying that.
– Then I withdraw the remark. Something ought to be done so that the Government will not be forced to deport the kanakas who have made their residence in Australia for many years. When I heard my esteemed friend, Senator Stewart, declare that he thought that it would be an act of cruelty to send those kanakas who have married, and who have families, back to their islands, I echoed his remark ; and I can only wish that those honorable senators who hold the same opinion had expressed it when the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was before us, and before it became an act. I am sorry that they did not assist me at that time in bringing about some modifications in the measure. I can only hope that the result of this motion will be to draw attention to the cruelty arising from the administration of the Act, and to induce efforts to be made to mitigate, as far as possible, some of the evils connected with it.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). (In reply.) - I desire to thank the Senate for the manner in which the motion has been received, and, if I may be permitted to single out one honorable senator, particularly to thank my honorable friend Senator Stewart. I was delighted with the sentiments which he expressed in regard to deportation. I hope the Government will see their way, if need be, to ask for larger powers of administration. In any event no harm has been done by bringing the matter forward. I beg leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Before the first Order of the Day is called on, I should like to make a statement with regard to public business, as it may be convenient for the Senate to hear it now. At the close of the business this evening the Government propose to askthe Senate to adjourn until Wednesday, 24th iust. That step has been decided upon for this reason : ‘ The House of Representatives will adjourn, probably, this evening until the 23rd September. It is found impossible for the Treasurer to have the necessary materials for his Budget ready and to make his Budget statement prior to that date. On the 23rd inst. he will deliver the Budget statement in another place. We hope that on that or the following day the Electoral Bill, which we expect to be able to send down to-day, will be dealt with, and sent back to the Senate by the 24th or 25th inst.
– Why can we not finish the Electoral Bill this week?
– I will answer that question in a moment. In addition to these facts, it will be n ecessary to pass a temporary Supply Bill on the 24th inst., so that for that purpose it will be necessary toask honorable senators to re-assemble on. the date mentioned. After we have dealtwith this business on the 24th, 25th, and possibly the 26th inst., I hope to be able to allow honorable senators to get away until the Budget discussion has been completed, or is likely to be completed, in another place. In these circumstances, I propose, at the conclusion of business this evening, to move that the Senate adjourn until the 24th inst. In answer to Senator Clemons, I would say that we cannot conclude the consideration of the Electoral Bill this week, because another place will not be sitting. It is waiting the receipt of our Message as to the Customs Tariff Bill, and will adjourn as soon as it receives it. The honorable and learned senator will see that, in regard to the Electoral Bill, there is a good deal to be brought into line as between ourselves and another place. It cannot be accomplished in a hurry, but we hope that after the discussion upon our amendments, which will take place in the House of Representatives on the 23rd or 24th inst., the Bill will be sent back to us in such a shape that it will be acceptable to both Houses. I am just as anxious as is the honorable and learned senator that the Electoral Bill shall be disposed of. It is necessary that it should be dealt with finally as early as possible, but I see no other way of carrying our views into effect than that which I have stated.
-I do not know whether we may be permitted to discuss this question-
– The discussion is irregular, but it is very convenient.
– I should like to say that my honorable and learned friend has foreshadowed an arrangement that will not be very convenient to many of us, and we may feel justified in seeking to have some change made in view of the fact that we.have been sitting for nearly eighteen months, and have dealt with a very great deal of legislative work. The honorable and learned senator anticipates that on rising to-night we shall adjourn until the 24th inst., when we shall return, not with a view of proceeding continuously with business until the prorogation takes place - I sup-, pose there will be a prorogation some time or other - but simply to dispose of the Electoral Bil), which, so far as we are concerned, is practically disposed of now. We shall then be sent away for another holiday until another place has disposed of the Budget, which looms in the future, and it is ready for our consideration. The majority of us travel very long distances to attend here, and that we should have to come back simply to give the finishing touches to the Electoral Bill, to deal with a Supply Bil], and then be sent about our business once more, is not a very pleasant prospect.
– That is not neces- sary. Honorable senators can stay here if they please.
– I am sure Senator O’Connor is not serious when he says we can stay here. Although I should be very glad to get away to-day or to-morrow, I think that, if it were possible, it would be a good thing for the . Government to get rid of the Electoral Bill this week, and not bring us back until the remaining substantial business, the Budget, ls ready for our consideration. I do not suppose that the Budget debate in another place will be a very long one, because of circumstances with which we are all familiar. If the Government could get rid -of the Electoral Bill this week, and not ask us to come back until we can finish the remaining business of the session-
– That cannot be done.
– Of course we have no control over another place in that respect. If they adjourn to-day and refuse to deal this week with the Electoral Bill, there’ will be a difficulty; “but my honorable and learned friend will have an opportunity of knowing before today’s sitting terminates whether another place will realty adjourn over the week. If it does adjourn without dealing with the Electoral Bill, I would ask him not to bring us back on the 24th inst., but to request us to reassemble at a date when we shall be in a position to go on continuously with the work, so that we may not have to make two or three long journeys in order to deal piecemeal with the business of the country.
– The difficulty is that there must be a House to pass a temporary Supply Bill. - Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON. - Why not deal with the Supply Bill to-day %
– Because it is not ready.
– I venture to think that it might have been ready.
– We cannot consider only the business of the Senate. Both Houses have to be considered.
– But the Senate has to be considered. Honorable senators, as well as members of another place, have been sitting continuously for some time. I hope that before we adjourn Senator O’Connor will be able to place before us a proposal which we shall be more ready to accept, for the convenience of the business of thb Senate, than that indicated by him.
– I think I must now stop this discussion. It is entirely irregular. There is nothing before the Senate save the statements made by the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition. The discussion should really take place on a motion fixing the date to which the House at its rising shall adjourn.
– The certificate of the Chairman of Committees to this Bill is as follows : -
That this Bill is the Bill as amended by the House of Representatives at the request of the Senate and agreed to by the committee and reported.
I wish to call the attention of the Senate to the fact that this is an entirely novel certificate. The Chairman of Committees has no doubt seen that the certificate provided by the standing orders could not be made, because it refers to amendments made by the Senate.
– In moving -
That the Bill be now read a third time,
I may be permitted to congratulate the Senate and the public on the conclusion of our work - a work of immense moment and significance to the whole of Australia, a work of great difficulty, and a work carried out under conditions so novel that they cannot possibly occur again in the history of the .Commonwealth. AVe have been obliged to harmonize the Tariff systems of six States, most of them differing greatly in principle, as well as in the application of principles in the raising of revenue through the Customs. We have had to bring about harmony between these systems, without a knowledge of the facts of trade which must be known, if we are to deal accurately with questions of this kind. These facts are known in regard to the States individually, but as to how Inter-State trade will operate, as to how local production will operate - as to how all these tilings will affect revenue - we have necessarily been more or less in the dark. Not only the Government, but honorable members of both Houses, have had to forecast as well as possible from the existing state, of things, the future condition of affairs to which this Tariff will be applied, and I venture to say that the work which has been done represents the honest and best efforts of all parties in both Houses to arrive at the best solution in the interests of Australia. Extremists on either side are not satisfied. That is not to be expected. I should believe strongly that the measure was altogether unfitted for existing conditions if it did satisfy either extreme party. The fact is that it has become more and more apparent that the only Tariff which can carry out the purposes for which this Tariff is intended, is a compromise one, reasonably giving effect to the main objects of a Tariff, although it may not satisfy extremists. We believe that we have in this Tariff a sure foundation for the revenue of the Commonwealth. We believe we have a Tariff which, without unduly pressing upon any section of the community, gives a reasonable amount of protection to our own productions. Personally, I should like the duties in many instances to be very much higher, and I think, generally speaking, that those who have stood by the principles of protection in their own States feel that the measure of protection accorded, under this Tariff to many industries is not sufficient. But we recognise, as I am sure my honorable friends opposite recognise, that in a compromise one cannot get all that he wants. We feel that in getting what we have got, and in conceding what we have conceded, we have arrived at a fair and reasonable compromise between the opposed and clashing opinions. “Under these circumstances, so far as we are concerned, we are satisfied with the compromise that has been arrived at. I have never had any doubt myself but that the Houses would find some way of adjusting their differences. It was impossible to believe that with the small matters that were in dispute between us on the last occasion, there should be any necessity for taking a course which would be a strong proof either of the unfitness of our Constitution itself, or of the incapacity of the people of the Commonwealth to carry on their business under it. Under these circumstances, I feel that in arriving at the compromise which has been reached, we have done the best that could be done in the interests not only of’ the party which we represent, but in the interests of Australia as a, whole. I think we may all hope now, that this settlement having been arrived at, the mercantile community of Australia, the producers of Australia, and everyone who has to do with the trade of the Commonwealth in any way whatever, will find a restfulness and a feeling of security upon fiscal matters which has not obtained for the last five or six years. Because I thinkeveryone will recognise that since the initiation of the federal movement after the Convention of 1897, it was realized that there must be a general federal Tariff, and speculation as to what that Tariff might be, and as to how it might operate on the different industries, had necessarily a disturbing influence upon trade, which has continued ever since. I say that that will now come to an end, and I feel sure that the community of Australia will welcome a settlement of this matter which will give security and permanence to trade and production, will encourage the expansion of industries, and the investment of moneys in the direction we all hope for. We have had some talk here about re-opening the Tariff a great deal of it wild and unnecessary talk it appears to me. I do not say for one moment that this is a perfect Tariff. I do not say that there may not be anomalies in it, which will be discovered in its working. That must be* so in connexion with any Act of Parliament dealing with Customs duties, and it will probably be particularly so in connexion with an Act framed in the circumstances under which thisTariff has been framed. And in order to correct anomalies, to carry out the purposes of the Tariff itself in regard to its functions for the raising of revenue, and for other reasons, it may be necessary in time to come to make some amendments of it. But I believe that the people of Australia generally will regard this Tariff as a Substantial settlement of the question, and I think that no good can come of disturbing the public mind in regard to this settlement by threats of ripping it up at the earliest moment. I say that if the work upon which we have been engaged, and which represents the results of our’ labours, is to be of any real benefit to Australia, is to bring about stability in our institutions, and that peace and confidence in mercantile circles, without which we cannot be prosperous, this Tariff must be accepted as a reasonably permanent settlement of the differences which have been so long debated between the opposing sections in this Parliament. I believe, myself, that the opinion of Australia will, as time goes on, be more and more in favour of the permanent maintenance of some such . Tariff as that to which we have now agreed. And I believe that when the country realizes that it is becoming self-supporting and selfcontained, when it begins to feel more strongly the pulse of national life, it will begin to take a. pride in its own institutions, and a pride in the “ wealth and richness of its own productions. As the national Australian spirit develops, so will develop an affection for a system such as that we have initiated now, which will make any permanent alteration of it a matter of impossibility. In regard to the richly endowed State which has sent me here, which holds everything valuable which I possess in the world, and to which I owe everything, I believe that in that State also, which will I think derive greater benefit than any other from this system, there will in a short time be a permanence of feeling, which will prevent any upsetting of the general policy of the Tariff.
-Col. Gould. - It does not exist at the present time.
– I am quite aware of that. I do not care what the system of taxation is,’ or how it is administered, we cannot have satisfaction when we impose taxation for the first time upon a free-trade community, like that of New South Wales. It is impossible that satisfaction can be secured under such’ circumstances, but I hope that after this Tariff leaves this House and becomes law, every member of the Commonwealth Parliament who has been a party to it will feel it to be his duty loyally to help to make it successful. I hope that every member of the Parliament will realize that it is his duty to as far as possible make evident to those persons who are complaining of inconveniences, which naturally attend any new order of things, that it is necessary to go through some inconvenience, and it is necessary to go through some changes which may be thought to be harmful, in order to attain the great benefit which we all believe and hope will accrue from the enactment of this Federal Tariff.
– We do not all believe it.
– I cannot close what I have to say now without expressing my deep gratitude to the loyal body of supporters who have followed the Government throughout the weary months of these discussions. It would have been quite impossible, without their steadfast and loyal assistance, to have done what we have done. I may say for myself and my honorable and learned colleague that it has cheered us in many an up-hill fight to know that we have had behind us the most faithful body of supporters that any Government could have. There have been, of course, occasions about which, and individuals about whom, I do not intend to speak at a moment like the present. I am speaking of the general body of supporters of the Government, and I cannot refrain, at the present time, from expressing these views upon their action and its effect upon us. We have had some strenuous conflicts with our honorable friends opposite, but I believe I shall have the assent of every honorable senator present when I say that they have left no sting behind. We have worked in the interests of Australia, and I recognise as strongly as any one can th,at the opposition of our honorable friends has been actuated by precisely the same motives as those which have guided the action taken upon this side - an endeavour to arrive at a solution of this question, one of the most difficult and important for Australia, which will be satisfactory to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. I hope, now that the fight is over, we may join together in wishing that this Tariff, which is the foundation-stone of our revenue system, will also prove a means of giving to Australia the fullest benefits of trade between the different States, and will render those rich resources which we know Australia possesses a means for the continuous and plentiful employment of her own people.
– I cannot say that I am able to assent to the concluding words of my honorable and learned friend, in which he look’s to this Tariff to secure a permanence of prosperity for the people of this country which they have not hitherto enjoyed. To my mind, this Tariff is not calculated to produce that restfulness and security to which my honorable and learned friend, from his sanguine words, appears, to look forward. .For my part, in saying “goodbye,” I hope only temporarily, to this Tariff, I trust at some not too distant date to have an opportunity of saying “ goodbye “ also to all those anomalies to which my honorable and learned .friend alluded in general terms, and to those burdens which, according to my mind, this Tariff seeks to impose upon the very industries whose prosperity we all desire to assist. I acknowledge that my honorable and learned friend said no more than was necessary when he expressed his satisfaction that an adjustment between the two Houses was secured. As men imbued with a business-like feeling, as men seeking to pursue a matter of this kind with business habits, as men influenced by moderation and a desire, to secure settlement even temporarily amongst the trading people of this country, I think that is certainly a matter for congratulation. It is a source of gratification that wise counsels prevailed to a large extent in the other House, and prevailed largely in this House, to bring about the result which is now to be confirmed by the third reading of this Bill. To my mind, that is not one of the least of our reasons for congratulation. So far as the Tariff itself is concerned, I recognise the difficulty of the situation. I fully appreciate the trouble that has fallen to this Ministry, a trouble which would have had to be faced by any Government introducing such a measure, under the new set of circumstances, brought about bv the establishment of the Commonwealth. I must say that I have always dissented from the views to which irresponsible people and irresponsible journals, and sometimes, I re’gret to say, responsible people in other Parliaments, have given utterance with respect to the inconveniences and the losses said to result from federation. To my mind, there is no foundation for any suggestion of the kind. No new order of things was ever brought about in this world without friction and difficulty. Providence never endowed any statesmen, or any Parliament, with such a degree of wisdom as to be able to reconcile what existed here - six conflicting systems of Government, six conflicting Tariffs, six conflicting lines of political thought - without trouble and without difficulty. And, in considering even a Tariff, which is only one of the many matters that a Government entering upon its duties in such a state of things must inevitably face-
– You cannot draw a tooth without pain.
– No. The Tariff, when it was introduced, came in a very questionable shape. Australia was led to believe that it would receive a Tariff such as I think, to some extent, the Tariff approximates to now. It has been, I shall not say reformed, but, I think, improved, out of all recognition. Some of my honorable friends may think that the changes have not been improvements. Those of us who take the view which I take, consider that the changes have been so completely improvements that the Tariff is not the ultra-protectionist instrument which it was eleven’ months ago, but subject to certain anomalies - a fair revenue-producing one. We have the fact that, in the House of Representatives, with a minority of revenue tariffists, aided by men of moderate views on this fiscal question - as the VicePresident of the Executive Council told us, 115 items were either reduced in duty or added to the free list. We had in that Chamber, according to my own figures, at least 139 reductions, representing to the people of this country a relief from taxation to the extent of ‘nearly a million of money.
That, with the reductions made in the Senate, according to the later figures, represents nearly a million and a half of taxation, which has been taken off the shoulders of the consumers by the improvements in the Tariff ; and strange to say - at least strange in the estimation of those who doubt the views which we on this side have persistently expressed - not only without diminishing the revenue, but with the result of immensely increasing it. Day by day, during the first twelve months since the Tariff was introduced, the revenue has gone on increasing until the estimates of the Treasurer - one of the most capable Treasurers who have ever held office - have been outstripped again and again.
– They loaded themselves up with goods before the Tariff was introduced.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.My honorable friend takes an imperfect and a shallow view of this, question, because last month the revenue returns - that is, long after the stocking themselves up with goods to which he refers - were greater than they were in the month immediately preceding, both of them approaching to nearly £900,000. That is a magnificent result for the revenue-tariffists. Let me add, and I take the opportunity of echoing the congratulations - of course from a somewhat different point of view of my honorable friend opposite - that, in bringing about that result the duties on articles of domestic use have been alleviated to a very great extent. I shall not trouble the Senate by going into details, but I have examined them. First, duties on articles of domestic use and consumption have been to a large extent reduced. Secondly, duties on clothing and material of clothing of a variety of kinds have also been subjected to considerable pruning and reduction to the great relief of the body of the consumers. Thirdly, duties on machinery, engines, and all that class of instruments of production anc of manufacture - there is no better help even for the manufacturers - have been greatly reduced. There are other divisions in the Tariff, but if the revenue tariffists in the other House and in the Senate did no more than bring about those reductions to which I have called attention in important departments, we should have great reason for congratulation and may with pride go before our constituents and point out to them the alleviation of their burdens which we have brought about. I can only regret that with regard to a number of these things additional alterations were not made ; and that in dealing with them - I do not say by my’ honorable friends opposite, but on the part of the Government - there has been a straining at the gnat and swallowing of the camel. That is only one species of the anomalies which remain in this extraordinary Tariff, because extraordinary it is, and will be until it is repealed and something better substituted for it. For instance, let me mention three things. It waa quite a shock apparently to give away a farthing duty on paraffine wax, which is the raw material of an important manufacture, but clothes wringers wring out of our honorable friends, who take a strong view of the subject, a reduction of 7£ per cent, duty. Shot is made dutiable, while the manufactured article, cartridges, is admitted free. Pro- tection to the shot-maker, but the unhappy cartridge-maker is left to do th« best he can, and to send his workmen out with “ pattering bare feet “ amongst the unemployed. On an immense line like machinery and engines they give away up to 50 per cent, of tha original duty, but they stand fast by the duty on residual oil, which is the fuel used in many manufactures. Composite duties are swept away, but with the tenacity of the antiquarian they cling to one relic of barbarism, the composite duty on cigars. On what possible principle are these things done? Sparklets are safe. If we had any doubt in respect of the beauty of this Tariff and its tendency, as my honorable and learned friend says, to secure permanence to trade and expansion in the expenditure of moneys in these great industries, how can we doubt it now that sparklets are on the free list 1 There is one point to which I would like to call attention for later consideration, and it is as to the practice of collecting duties immediately the Tariff is. presented to the other Chamber, and ceasing to collect a duty on its rejection, as was notably the case in regard to tea and kerosene. Now that the Senate is a factor, and, we hope, an effective factor in the financial control of the Commonwealth, it is manifest that some reconsideration must be given to that topic. The point was discussed a good deal in connexion with the tea duties, and it would, seem to me that before we finally determine on rules of procedure between the Houses, that matter would require to be reconsidered and dealt with. I heard my honorable friend Senator O’Connor say that he hopes we shall begin to take a pride in our own institutions and enterprises. I do not think that Australia is going to begin to take an interest or pride in its institutions and its enterprises. We have for many years taken a pride in our institutions and om- enterprises. No country in the world can show the record of progress during the last 50 years, which Australia can show, and no mongrel Tariff such as this- will be any additional incentive, either to that pride or to the investment of moneys iti pursuing industries which, in my belief, will flourish abundantly without the interference which a protective Tariff always brings about. It may produce advantages, as we all know, to particular individuals, to particular manufactures, but in the long run it can have no effect in securing that uniformity and that restful ness of trade which my honorable and learned friend in common with all of us I hope desire to see. We wish prosperity to every undertaking. The difference between us is that I believe that that prosperity will be best obtained by freedom in its pursuit, while my honorable and learned friend believes that it will be best obtained by some species of coddling. But with that difference we can each agree in the hope that he has expressed, and I trust that whether this instrument of taxation lasts a long or a short time, its mischiefs will cause no appreciable difference to that industry and that prosperity which Australia has seen for no long a time. I thank my honorable and learned friend for the remarks he has made in regard to the progress of the Tariff - a highly controversial measure - through this Chamber. Looking at the Constitution of the Senate of which we are all proud to be members, I feel that no other result was possible. We are all actuated by the same patriotic desire. We are doing no less than justice when we recognise the excellent temper and spirit which have prevailed throughout our debates on this question. Every one must be grateful at the outcome which is now about to be completed ; and whilst my honorable friend thanks those who have so loyally supported him, I express my very deepest gratitude to those - my honorable friends sitting behind me - who not merely placed me in a position of honour as their leader, but have given me their loyal and zealous and unswerving support from beginning to end of a most arduous undertaking. I especially thank my honorable friend Senator Sargood, for the kind words he used yes- terday. I would add that, to all my honorable friends who hold opposite views from those which I’ entertain, I can only say that I am also grateful. I feel that their zeal, which was most marked, was always tempered by forbearance to myself and to those who felt and acted with me - a forbearance reciprocated from our side. I am quite sure that this Tariff controversy has not weakened, but I honestly believe has strengthened, the feelings of mutual respect - which, I am sure, do exist - between my honorable friends on the opposite side and myself. I cherish that conviction in any case, and I believe with my honorable and learned friend, Senator O’Connor, that these controversies, now that they are brought to an end, have left no wound - not even a sting of bitterness - behind. I do not know whether this is owing to any special sweetness of temper on my part; but I am convinced that this Bill emerges now . from our debates, and is placed on the plane of its third reading, without any bitterness of “feeling whatever accompanying it. My honorable and learned friend, spoke of the feeling of restfulness that will be produced in < the country. Whether that is so or not - and I have given some reasons why I think the result of our efforts is not likely to have that effect fully - I do hope that the country, if not satisfied with the work itself, will be satisfied with the effort we have made to do our work faithfully and well, and will recognise that we have certainly on all sides tried to do our best.
– I should like to avail myself of the present opportunity of saying good-bye to this Tariff - good-bye to a Tariff which is the first I. have ever been engaged in assisting to frame, and to our work, of which I shall certainly cherish the most pleasant recollections. I say that advisedly, because I have enjoyed the work up to the hilt. I have enjoyed it, I suppose, because I like fighting ; I frankly admit that - if I did not say it myself, I suppose I should be told so by others ! I have enjoyed the work for that reason ; and even the fact that my joy is to a certain extent diminished by the result will not prevent me from saying that I feel a certain amount of regret that the consideration of the Tariff is finished. But with regard to the result, I think it my duty to say, as one of the representatives of Tasmania, that I cannot refrain from giving expression to a certain amount of disappointment. We entered into this controversy, as we all know, with the desire of bringing parties together - if they could be brought together - for the purpose of constructing a tariff calculated to produce revenue. That desire for revenue was, of course, a desire, not merely that the Commonwealth itself should have a firm financial basis, but that our various States, which loyally entered into federation, should emerge from the Tariff discussion with some fair and reasonable hope that their own financial arrangements would not be cruelly disturbed. I regret to say, speaking freely, that, so far as my own State is concerned, Tasmania, at any rate, does not emerge from the Tariff debates with much satisfaction to herself.
– The honorable and learned senator has to thank the revenuetariffists for that.
– I may have to thank them, but so far as Senator Playford is concerned, I have no fault to find with him. In regard to many items we have found him, as we have found one another at times, voting in directions which we did not like, but I make no special indictment against him. I do say, however, that I feel the very greatest regret - and shall fora very long time feel regret - that certain items in this Tariff have not been dealt with as many of us felt they should have been. I do not want to raise controversial questions at this stage ; but, free-trader as I am, I cannot help saying that, for instance, I regret that we did not impose a big revenue duty on tea, because such a duty would have brought great financial relief to my own State. I know that there are arguments against such a. duty, but I do not wish to allude to them now. There are other matters about which I was pained at the result of the deliberations of the committee. One was the matter of increasing the excise on tobacco. That troubled me more than any other item in the whole of the Tariff, because I recognised in connexion with it that there were abundant opportunities, without doing harm to any one, to secure more revenue. But we failed. I must recognise - and I do. so cordially and fully - that my honorable friends opposite - and we are friends in spite of these debates - must themselves regret very much the results of the debates upon the Tariff. Although I cannot at this late stage regret that I am not a protectionist, if I were a protectionist I hope I should be bold enough to go the whole way. I should feel very sorry for the result, on the ground that I should like my protection to be aggressive ; I should like it to be a protection of a different character from what my honorable friends opposite must regard the protection of this Tariff as being, a protection which helps a lame dog over a stile. They have succeeded in making it a Tariff the effect of which will be to make a State jackofall.trades and master of none. If I were a protectionist, I should like to see inaugurated a strong aggressive policy of protection, which would, if that were possible, do what a protective Tariff is intended to do. In that respect this Tariff, in my opinion, fails lamentably. It fails because it has attempted to do, what I, as a free-trader, must recognise as almost an impossible feat - to harmonize protection and revenue production. My honorable friends opposite have not succeeded either in so strengthening any particular manufacture, or any particular source of production, in the whole of the Commonwealth, as to enable the industry to defy the whole world, and to say - “ We have secured the means not only of supplying ourselves and of becoming selfsupporting, but also of competing with the whole world.” I should imagine that a protectionist would desire to aim at that result.
– The honorable and learned senator would go in for prohibition then?
Senator CLEMONS prohibition if I were a protectionist.
– If the honorable and learned senator did that people would say that he was crazy, and would run him up to Yarra Bend.
– I should say that what was good for an individual was good for a nation. The best thing for an individual to do is to specialize and, therefore, the best thing for a nation to do is to specialize. But by means of this Tariff no such attempt has been made. There is no attempt to make Australia either a great manufacturing or a great producing country.
I should go for
-Why didnot the honorable and learned senator tell us before that he was in favour of that?
– I should not have supported such a policy, but I am merely expressing my sympathy with my honorable friends opposite and pointing out what I think the sound policy from their point of view would have been.
– We were quite willing to go for what the honorable and learned senator describes, but we had not got the numbers.
– I am not going to dwell any longer upon that aspect of the question. I have only to add one criticism, and that is that though the Tariff, as has been pointed out, does produce a great amount of revenue - a larger amount than it was necessary to tax the people to produce - the scheme of it fails in respect to the destination of that revenue to the various States. I offer now at the completion of the Tariff the same criticism as I offered at its beginning - that it is framed in such a way that its main object is to raise a certain total amount of revenue irrespective of the direction in which that revenue is to go. In that lament I feel sure that I shall have the sympathy of my fellow senators from Queensland ; and a similar sympathy ought to be extended both to Tasmania and Queensland by the senators from the other States represented here, because the fact remains that now we have finished with the Tariff two of the States out of the six have to face a huge financial loss. With regard to the rest of the matter, I should like to say that I have enjoyed this fight tremendously. So far as I am concerned the debates have vastly increased my respect for honorable senators opposite. Especially I should like to say that, coming to the Senate entirely new to parliamentary life,I have obtained in a very limited space of time - although the session has been a prolonged one - a more extensive education in political methods and parliamentary practice than I could have hoped to attain in many years.
– I should like to say a word, without entering into the merits of the Tariff, in regard to the manner in which the Chairman of Committees has performed his ‘ very arduous duties during these Tariff debates. I think that honorable senators on all sides have recognised his impartiality. He certainly has been strict in keeping the debates within bounds, but I am certain that every one will now admit that his strictness was justified by our diffuse arguments at times. When we look back upon the debates which have taken place, we must recognise that they would have been much prolonged had it not been for the wise discretion exercised by our Chairman of Committees.
– We should have been a month longer over it.
– I feel sure that we should have been. Honorable senators generally will recognise that no small credit is due to the Chairman of Committees for the exercise of such wisdom in keeping honorable senators to the questions before the chair. I think that the public are under a debt of gratitude to him for the work he has done, and we should recognise by our comments the value of the services he has performed for the Senate.
– Senator O’Connor has told us that he hopes that Australia will value this Tariff, and will appreciate the policy which it embodies. For my own part I wish to say that Australia contains a considerable number of people, who will not be satisfied until this Tariff has been replaced by one based upon lines of more justice and impartiality in the imposition of taxation - a Tariff which will alone make Australia a great commercial nation, and a Tariff which should be desired, so that the people of Australia in the southern hemisphere may carry the same commercial flag as the mother country carries in the northern hemisphere.
– Before the motion is carried, I should like to say a word or two with regard to the criticism which has been offered many times and in many places . as to the operation of the Tariff upon the Treasuries of the various States. We have heard on different occasions that the incidence of this Tariff will result in practically what might be called a species of financial disaster to some of the smaller States, and especialy to Queensland and Tasmania. I think it is due to ourselves that we should recognise and bring before the public of Australia the fact that, under the separate State regimes, the people of those States, compared . with the people of the other States, drew toan inordinate extent upon the Customs and
Excise for their total revenue. In Tasmania^ - which, in company with the five other honorable senators from that State I have the honour to represent - we have drawn from those sources something like 50 .per cent, of our total revenue. We had long recognised that it would be absolutely impossible for us to go on under these conditions for many more years, and if the effect of the Tariff upon the State Treasuries has been to cause a necessity for an alteration in the incidence of State taxation, then I say that, to a great extent it has possibly only anticipated work which, in any event, would have had to be done in those States at no very distant time. Reference has been made from the other side to the fact that those sitting behind the Government have not obtained in this instrument of taxation all that they designed to obtain when they constituted themselves protectionists. We have recognised that. Honorable senators opposite have also recognised that they have not obtained - that they cannot obtain .under the exigencies of the situation - all that they desire. We have both been bound down by the necessities of the occasion, and the special necessity of raising by means of this particular kind of taxation a certain amount of income for the* Commonwealth Treasury. Although we are not literally, .strictly, and technically bound to resort to this method, yet, in taking over from the several States the Department of Customs and Excise, .and preventing them for all future time from resorting to customs and excise as a means of State taxation, there has been, I venture to say, a moral obligation on the part of the Federal Legislature to raise its revenue primarily from this source. If that position is once conceded, then we cannot have on the one side either extreme protection - which, I grant, Senator Clemons means prohibition - nor can we have on the other side the extreme free-trade which many honorable senators opposite desire. If we on this side have no cause for self-gratulation, insomuch ns we have obtained nothing in the way of prohibition, nothing which would tend to establish a large system of 1 Australian manufactures, and put Australia in a position to be able to defy the world, I think we have to say to the other side - “You, too, who call yourselves free-traders, are not in a position to say that you have shown in this Tariff anything like that rigid academical adhesion to principles which would naturally be expected from free-traders.” We have both been bound by the exigencies of the occasion. If I were a free-trader, I should like practically to see the Customs-houses swept away. I should like to see the revenue of the country raised from other sources. But T recognise that honorable senators opposite must conform just as we on this side have to do, to the conditions that are placed before us ; that we must design an instrument of taxation for the collection of revenue which shall have regard primarily to the collection of revenue, and which, so far as we on this side are concerned, will not at the same time be framed blindfoldedly, and without any regard to the existing industries of Australia, and to the existing capabilities in Australia for future development.
– While I recognise that it would be impossible for us to have a Tariff which would satisfy both protectionists and freetraders alike, I think that this Tariff might have been cast upon very different lines ; upon lines which would still have returned the full amount of revenue desired in the interests of the Commonwealth, and given what my honorable friends opposite are anxious to see, and what I should have regarded as a fair modicum of assistance to the manufacturers of the country. In entering the Commonwealth Parliament, I, in common with other representatives from the free-trade State of New South Wales, recognised that revenue would have to be the primary consideration in dealing with the Customs and Excise Tariff Bills. But we were led to believe that from 10 to 15 per cent, duties would only be proposed - that 15 per cent, would practically be the high water-mark. When we saw the Tariff, as originally introduced, we recognised that we were face to face with a measure, not introduced as a revenue Tariff, but one which was brought forward, and boastfully put forward, as a protectionist Tariff. It occurred to me then that the Government had departed very widely from the promises they held out to the people of the 1 country when the Commonwealth was asked to choose its representatives. I refer primarily to the1 speeches delivered by the Prime Minister and other public men in New South Wales. We were told then that in framing a Tariff, the principal object of the Government would be to secure revenue, that there would be no protection, as protectionists understand the terra, and no free-trade, in the sense known to free-traders.
– That is not so.
– So far as New South Wales is concerned, that statement was distinctly put before the people.
– -The Government statement was exactly the opposite.
.- Then we read the speeches differently. I am not referring to what was said in Queensland or Victoria, but to the representations made in New South Wales.
– I am speaking of the Maitland speech.
– The words used by the Prime Minister in his Maitland speech were “ revenue without destruction.” We were told that revenue without destruction was to be the first consideration ; but the Tariff was not in conformity with that promise. I recognise that, although they appear to be in a minority, the free-trade party in another place have accomplished a great deal of solid and useful work in dealing with the Tariff, and I believe that honorable senators on the free-trade” side have also done useful work in reducing the duties.
– They have done a great deal of destructive work.
.- The honorable senator may think so, but I do not agree with him. I regret that we were not successful in reducing many of the duties as we desired, but I would point out that in dealing with the Tariff the strongest free-traders in this Chamber were loyal to the principle that it should be a revenue Tariff; that it should not be prohibitive ; that it should, not be destructive of revenue, but that it should be revenueproducing. The Vice-President of the Executive Council expressed the hope that honorable senators on this side would begin to take a pride in the industries of our country, but I contend that we have from the first taken a pride in . them. Freetraders are as keen in their desire to see . the country progress and prosper as .are the protectionists. I admit they view the matter from different stand-points, but as a free-trader I say honestly and sincerely, not only for myself but for all other members of our party in the Senate, that we are just as earnest and sincere in our desire that the country should progress as is any one else. If we did not take up that attitude we should not be worthy of the position which we occupy; we should not be fit to be citizens of this great country, which we believe will soon be ji populous country, and one in which the utmost freedom to every man prevails. I should have been pleased if this Tariff had been such as to enable us to share the opinion expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that it should not be interfered with for many years to come. I should have been pleased if we could have said of it - “ Here is a fair compromise between the two contending parties, and in the best interests of the country we shall be able to allow it to continue undisturbed for many years to come.” Some honorable senators have said that the duty of 12 J- per cent, on machinery is insufficient.
– It is merely a revenue duty.
– It is a 1 eve- ‘nue duty, and at the same time it is a duty which, having regard to its moderate rate as compared with the original proposal, will materially assist those engaged in the development of the great industries of this continent. I care not what honorable ‘ senators may say with regard to the desire that manufactories should be established throughout the Commonwealth. Our greatest duty in the present day is to see that our primary industries are first pushed ahead. We know that the Commonwealth depends largely at the present time upon the pastoral industry. We want to see it dependent more largely upon the agricultural industry and the mining industry. We desire all those industries to grow up, but without fair play, and without reasonable treatment it will be utterly impossible to push them along. I know that my honorable friends opposite say that they have helped the farmers by imposing certain duties on farm produce. But how are they going to help the mining industry ? Can they place a duty upon imported gold, silver, or copper, or any of the other mineral products of this continent? It is utterly absurd to think that they can do anything of the kind. The men engaged in the mining industry have to rely in all. circumstances upon the markets of the world, and once agriculture is de- veloped so as to overtake the immediate local wants, agriculturists are equally dependent upon the markets of the world. The fictitious help given to the manufacturers of metal and machinery by no means assists the farmers. The farmers are only being deceived when they are told - “You are asked only to give the benefit of a duty to men who are going to manufacture your implements, while they give you the benefit of a high duty upon your produce.” What will be the value of a duty on wheat, flour, hay, or chaff, when seasons are good, and when we have an over-production ? In those times no help can be given by such a duty ; but in times of scarcity those who are fortunate enough to hold agricultural .produce are enabled by means of these duties to make money at the expense of the rest of the community. If we go back to the days of the old corn laws in Great Britain, we must recognise that, as prices went up, duties went down. Even in those days the Government recognised that they had no right to keep up prices under a system of heavy duties. Here the present Government do not adopt that view. They say - “Here are the fodder duties ; they are not opera,tive during normal seasons, but when they are, they are operative at the expense of the masses of the people. Nevertheless, the farmers shall have an opportunity to avail themselves of these advantages.” The question of the fodder duties is a bitter one at the present time in New South Wales and Queensland. I say that notwithstanding an interjection made the other night that this was to the benefit of the farmers, it has not been for their benefit. It may have been temporarily of benefit to a few middlemen and a few farmers, but the advantage given to the farmers, if there be any, is more than counterbalanced by the depression which exists generally throughout the continent in consequence of high duties of this character. There may be a few farmers and speculators who have benefited, but surely all the farmers in the Commonwealth are not centred in one or two little portions of Australia ? Have we not farmers in New South Wales and Queensland? There are dairy farmers and ordinary farmers in those States, and all those men are being punished and are suffering for a possible benefit to a few of their brethren. I regret it very much, but there is the law, and we must abide by it and do the. best we can with it. I say, however, that it would have tended far more to create a feeling of contentment amongst the people of the country had honorable senators representing the more fortunate States said - “ We recognise that our brethren are in trouble and misfortune, and they are therefore entitled to assistance.” If that had been -said the people would have been given some reason to believe in the benefits of Federation. Assuming, for the ‘sake of argument, that during all these troublesome times New South Wales had been outside the Federation, with her free ports and absence of duties, her farmers and pastoralists, and her people generally, would have had the benefits of the markets of the world to draw their importations from.
– They would not have, had the benefit of the markets of Australia to send their produce to.
– Unfortunately they have not had very much produce to send anywhere. I say they would have been in a better position to-day, and it would have been well if they could have realized the fact that there was a feeling of brotherhood existing in the other States. Instead of their being able to realize that, the very reverse appears to’ have been the attitude of honorable senators representing other States. However, I do recognise that we have modified the Tariff in very many respects. I have already said that I should have liked an opportunity of saying good-bye to Tariff discussions for some years to pome, but I feel that while we may be parting with our Tariff during the lifetime of the present Parliament, or until the end of next year or a little later, we shall nevertheless have to remember that the States themselves have yet to speak upon this great question, and I am very doubtful of the grounds for the sense of security which some honorable senators are hugging to their bosoms. I recognise there will be a strong feeling existing in the States-
– In favour of protection.
.- Possibly, in my honorable friend’s State ; but in the other States it will be in favour of greater freedom of trade; and the probability is that their experience of the grasping character of certain sections of the community during this hard time will be one of the greatest incentives to them to send men pledged to greater freedom of trade than we can ever enjoy under this Tariff. Therefore,’ while I believe that we are parting with the*
Tariff for eighteen months or two years, I am by no means sure that during the lifetime of the next Parliament this will not be a burning question again, and one which will cause a disturbance of trade. I recognise that we should not disturb trade any more than we can possibly help ; but if we find it necessary to cause a disturbance in trade, in order that the bulk of the people may be fairly and honorably treated, it will be our duty to take up the cudgels in their behalf. If, during the next few years, it is proved that this Tariff will work fairly well, of course there will be no movement on the part of the country to alter it, but I very much doubt that that will be the case. I recognise as the leader of the Government in this Chamber, and the leader of the Opposition has said to-day, that there has been in debating this matter an absence of the feeling of irritation which usually exists when a Tariff is being dealt with. I recognise that there has been an absence of recrimination, and that, whilst we have had some very strong debates upon the questions involved, we have been able, as I hope we shall always be, to differ strongly in opinion, and, at the same time, be none the worse friends. Whilst we have been actuated, as I believe we have been, by the desire to do what is best for the Commonwealth, and whilst we recognise that every honorable senator has the right to the expression of his opinion in the strongest and most forcible language possible, we have realized that we can continue to be good friends however strongly we may differ upon these matters.
– It appears to me that the proper course to adopt in this case would have been to have permitted the Vice-President of theExecutive Council to have had his say, and the leader of the Opposition to reply, and then to have closed the debate. They expressed their mutual congratulations, the two speeches were in excellent taste, and there was not the slightest necessity for my young friend, Senator Clemons, to get up and air his eloquence upon the subject. That honorable and learned senator started the whole discussion, and there was no necessity for it.
– If I had not done so, some one else would.
– I should not have risen upon this occasion had it not been for two statements made by Senator Gould, which, I think, the honorable and learned senator should not have made, and which I do not intend to allow to go unchallenged. He has repeated a statementwhich has been made on more than one occasion in this House, that the Government in the introduction of the Tariff in the House of Representatives absolutely broke the pledges they had given to the constituencies and the country.
– So they did.
– I give that statement an unmistakable denial. I read every word that Sir Edmund Barton said upon thesubject. I stood on the platform beside him in the city of Adelaide and heard every word he said there, and what he said was that the Government desired to get revenue without the destruction of industries already established throughout the States.
-Col. Gould. - Did the honorable senator read Mr. Kingston’s speech in introducing the Tariff, when he congratulated honorable members in another place upon the fact that a highly protective Tariff was being introduced?
– It is only a question of degree. It was not a specially high protective Tariff compared with the Tariffs in force in the States. It was not nearly so high as the Tariff previously in force in Victoria. In connexion with a great many items, it was not nearly so high as the Tariff previously existing in Queensland and in other States. It was not a specially high protective Tariff.
– On what item was it lower than the Tariff in Queensland?
– On tobacco, machinery, butter, and a great many other items. Then, in introducing the Tariff, a Government always provides for something to come and go upon. As an old parliamentary hand, I know that it is wise for a Government, in. the introduction of a Tariff, not to propose exactly what they want, but to propose something a little higher, that they may be able to give away a little. I can understand my old pupil, Mr. Kingston, in introducing the Tariff, proposing something higher than he expected the Tariff would eventually be, because he knew that he must have something to give away. We have to consider the Opposition, as well as any friends who may ask for little reductions. They are mightily pleased when they get them. They glorify themselves throughout the country by saying that by their action they have absolutely succeeded in securing the reduction of certain duties to the great benefit of the country at large. The Government must cater a little for these people, and I. have no doubt the present Government catered for them in the introduction of this Tariff, and introduced a higher Tariff than they anticipated would pass, because they knew they would have to give way upon certain articles and make certain compromises, as they have done. The next statement made by the honorable and learned senator, and to which I take exception, is that the members of his party in the Senate have not been met in a spirit of brotherhood, aud that the feeling of brotherhood does not exist in the Senate. I say there is not the slightest justification for any such charge against any honorable senator in this Chamber. If any honorable senator has shown any spirit other than that of brotherhood, it has been quite unknown to me. Take one instance. Was it not the spirit of brotherhood that induced honorable senators to agree to the taxation of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth in the matter of sugar ? Was that not an evidence of the kindly feeling prevailing towards Queensland ?
– No, it was because of the policy of a white Australia that that was done.
– Have we not in every direction tried to meet the peculiar circumstances of each State ? The honorable and learned senator, in dealing with this matter, referred to the duties upon hay, chaff, and wheat, and said we did not meet New South Wales in a spirit of brotherhood in connexion with those duties. When the request was first made to the Government that they should suspend the collection of duties upon fodder for a certain time - which they had no power to do - for the benefit of the pastoralists of New South Wales, what did the Government do ? They wrote to the Governments of the various States asking whether they would approve of the suspension of the collection of those duties for a certain time, with the result that the Governments of most of - the States, and of my own State, T know, said - “ No, that is not fair.” The position is plain enough. Who gets the benefit of these duties levied upon fodder 1 Is it not each individual State? If so, the Governments of those States that are most in want of fodder, and have to import fodder on which the duties are levied, should relieve their own people, and they should not call upon Tasmania and other States to help them.
– It should not be mutual help, but self-help.
– The Government of New South Wales in consideration of the fearful losses the pastoralists were sustaining in consequence of the drought, should have said - “We will pay the duty, and there will be no further trouble.” That was the proper thing for them to have done. It was altogether a mistake for them to come whining to the Commonwealth, and for their representatives to come here and abuse honorable senators and complain that there was no feeling of brotherhood exhibited towards them. The whining and yapping we have heard on the subject has not been creditable. I cannot stand it, and I must show the want of reason in their conduct. The people who should remit the duties in a case of this sort are the people who get the benefit of the duties. The State getting the benefit of the duties in this instance was the State of New South Wales, and the State Treasurer of New South Wales should have agreed to the remission of the duties.
– New South Wales senators did not study the interests of Tasmania in dealing with the excise on tobacco.
– I do not suppose they did. I wish now to deal with one or two remarks made by the distinguished leader of the Opposition. In referring to the anomalies of the Tariff, the honorable and learned senator, as a free-trader, selected a most unfortunate example. As a free-trader he of course believes in taxation for the purposes of revenue only, and not for the purpose of protection. But the honorable and learned senator alluded to one item in- connexion with which we as protectionists deplore the action which has been taken. He referred to the item of cartridges, and said that while we tax shot and powder we do not tax cartridges, and therefore the local cartridge maker is placed at a great disadvantage in carrying on his industry. We, as protectionists, deplore that. We tried to remedy it, but for some reason which I do not understand our proposal was not accepted in another place. I should like to say that Senator Clemons has a very strange idea, which he will find, as he becomes older in political life, he cannot possibly carry out. The honorable and learned senator professes to believe in carrying logical principles to their uttermost conclusion, and he says that we, as protectionists, to be logical, should carry our protectionist principles to the extreme of actual prohibition. I wonder if the honorable and learned senator would carry bis principles to that extreme if he were a protectionist? He would find that it was a very great mistake. We know the selfishness of human nature. We know that if an industry is protected to an extent which is prohibitive, the manufacturers will combine to rob the public. They will do it in any other direction they can. Even in free-trade countries, without protective duties, they form their trusts and combines for the purpose of raising prices, and pocketing larger profits. That principle dominates human nature, and a sensible, moderate protectionist will try as far as he possibly can to make his duty so high that it will give a fair and reasonable amount of protection to the manufacturers ; but will, if the manufacturers combine to fleece the public, enable the importers to come in and stop their little game. That is exactly the position. I do not wish to refer to any other subject, except one on which adverse opinions have been expressed. For instance, Senator O’Connor has told us that he expects the Tariff to last for a considerable time. On the other hand, we have Senator Symon expecting that in a very short time there will be an agitation to amend this “anomalous” Tariff, which, by the way, in one part of his speech he claimed was pretty fair. He said that it had been improved, and that, taking it all round, it was a very good Tariff even from his stand-point; but still he considered it was not sufficiently . good to satisfy the. people of this country, and that there would be an agitation for some alteration to be made. The senators for New South Wales are all pessimistic with regard to it being a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, and claim that there will be a great agitation against its continuance. Although I do not like the Tariff, because it is not quite protective enough from my moderate stand-point, still I take it as an exceedingly fair compromise. I think it will be found that the people of Australia, as a whole, will say that it is. We cannot expect to have our own way, either as protectionists or freetraders. The two Houses have come to a very fair compromise, and I think it will be found that after it has been in operation for a year or two, and the trouble which necessarily arises in the initiation of a new system has subsided, not a word will be heard about the Tariff. I do not believe that we shall hear a word about the Tariff then even in New South Wales. If any State is going to gain advantages in the long run from a moderate protectionist Tariff like this one, it is New SouthWales. With a magnificent supply of coal and of iron she has the key to the manufacturing industries of Australia, and will benefit to an immense extent from this moderate protective Tariff. In spite of all that Senator Pulsford says about the Tariff, he will find that in a year or two the people of his State, with the exception of a few importers will be very well satisfied with it.
– Not they.
– I feel confident that they will. The protection which it gives to the sugar industry, to the manufacturers of machinery, and in a variety of ways will cause the expenditure of capital, and in consequence of the coal supply - and coal is one of the principal items in the cost of manufacturing - it is bound, if any State is, to feel the benefit and good effects of the Tariff. My own opinion is that very soon the people of Australia will quieten down, and that the Tariff, with perhaps an alteration here and there, will last for a good many years.
– As the Senate has little or no work to do, I make no apology for speaking for a few minutes on this historic occasion. But unlike some honorable senators I desire to express my satisfaction with the work which has been done. We have been engaged on the Tariff for eleven months, and have we been wasting our time? Have we been framing a Tariff which gives satisfaction to no one? I do not think so. I think that during that period of arduous work we have framed a Tariff which is now absolutely a realization of the Prime Minister’s statement at Maitland, that we should have a Tariff which would give “ revenue without destruction of industries.”
– Now it is.
– I am not going to discuss what the Tariff was when it was introduced. Owing to the graceful giving way on behalf of the Government, and the thoroughly good work and great industry of the revenue-tariff party, it is to-day as near as may be exactly that sort of compromise which we were all led to expect.
– On what did the Government give way ?
– The Government constantly gave way - it might have been when they found that the numbers were up, but there was a very great amount of give and take on both sides. Instead of criticising the work of Parliament unfavorably, I desire to criticise it favorably. I believe we have done practically what the people expected of us, and that was to make a fair compromise between the fiscal parties. .1 join with Senator Playford in the hope that we shall not have another fiscal agitation in a few months’ time, because I believe that the commercial, as well as the manufacturing community, especially the latter, want rest, and certainty. They wish to know where they are, and -I doubt if we should be doing any good to the Commonwealth by having a new Tariff placed before us in eighteen months’ time. But if it contains a few anomalies that need correcting, or a few items which are unjust and need interpretation, ,an amending Bill might be introduced for that purpose. So far as my State is concerned, I suppose I have no more cause for dissatisfaction with the Tariff, from the revenue point of view, than have the senators for any other State, but that I am afraid in most instances could hardly have been helped. It is an unfortunate fact that the duties on all the revenue producing items have been greatly reduced - for instance, sugar, tobacco, tea, kerosene, and apparel. I should have liked to see the duty on apparel 5 per cent, less than it is. “We need not talk about the sugar duties. We all know that they were imposed as an act of kindness to, and sympathy with our brothers in Queensland, as a compensation for the loss of black labour. I think, however, that we have to blame the revenuetariff party for not having given us, what we ought to have had, a 3d. duty on ‘tea. I wish to say a word on behalf of the consumers of that article. It appears to ‘ me that some tea merchants are -making an enormous profit out of the abolition of the duty. I find that the consumers in more States than one - I have made inquiries - are not getting the benefit of its abolition. Some of the leading grocers and tea distributors are now charging exactly the same prices as they charged before, and the only excuse they have to offer is that they are supplying a better article. The abolition of the duty was I believe a very great mistake. I affirm most earnestly that the consumer is not getting the benefit which my friends in the labour party expected when they talked about a free breakfast table.
– The honorable and learned senator is entirely mistaken.
– I wish to point out to Senator O’Connor a fact and to remind him of a promise. In Tasmania, under the State Tariff, we collected about £40,000 a month - £42,000 on one occasion. Under the Federal Tariff the collections dwindled down to about £30,000, and for the last month or two they have amounted to £20,000 or £21,000. There is an enormous difference between £40,000 and £20,000 per month. If the collections continue to be £21,000 per month, Tasmania will be in great financial distress. It remains to be seen what revenue the Tariff will bring in. The promise I allude to on the part of Senator O’Connor was that, if it should be found that some of the smaller States have not sufficient revenue to carry on with, as they ought to have, Ministers will very favourably consider the introduction of a Bill to impose a duty on tea. I remind the honorable and learned senator of that . promise, because from the way in which Tasmania’s revenue is being collected, it appears -to me that our shortage will be enormous. Senator Clemons made some remarks which I hardly understand. He said that if he were a protectionist he would go in for prohibition. The Tariff does a very substantial amount of justice to the protectionists. I think I have heard Senator Clemons, certainly my honorable leader, Senator Symon, declare again and again - and that is why I voted with them - that while we did reduce duties 5 per cent, here and 10 per cent, there, we still left a very fair and moderate amount of protection, added to the natural protection, to almost every industry which can be named, and we did that out of a policy of fair play and compromise. Therefore, I am astonished to hear Senator Clemons say now that a protectionist ought to go in for almost a prohibitive duty.
– ‘On a few special items.
– On no articles ought protectionists to have a duty which gives a monopoly of the market. If they have any protection at all it ought to be such a moderate duty that it will let in imports and leave room for competition, so that the consumer will have a. chance of getting a really good article - a choice between a Commonwealth article and an imported one. I desire to thank Senator O’Connor for the enormous amount of information which he gave us on the various items, and the tact, temper, and skill with which he conducted the Tariff through the committee. I think that we shall all hereafter, and I hope very shortly, have to take a wider view of the fiscal question, and consider how it affects the Empire, and not merely Australia. I express my disappointment-I hope I may be wrong - with the very small progress which has been made at the other end of the world, in Mr. Chamberlain’s office, with regard to defence and the commercial union of the Empire.
– A very big subject, indeed, and a very difficult one, too.
– It is a very big subject surrounded with difficulties, but when statesmen, one after another, declare that free-trade, or something approaching free-trade within the Empire, with moderate duties against the outside world is impossible, I do not agree with that declaration. I look forward to a time when we shall have something like free-trade within the Empire, or, at all events, very moderate revenue duties, and when the Commonwealth of Australia will join with the motherland in a fiscal policy which will consolidate the Empire, take the fetters off free-trade, and bring about a far greater measure of prosperity than everwe can obtain if we simply confine the fiscal issue to the country in which we live.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor)proposed -
That the report of the Committee on this Bill be adopted.
– I move -
Thatall the words after “that” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the Bill he recommitted for the reconsideration of amendmentsNos. 104, 110, 162, 180, 192, 196.”
Amendment No. 104 deals with new clause 140a to which the committee previously disagreed. I propose to submit a clause in the place of the one that was disagreed with. Amendment No. 110 deals with clause 146, in which a consequential amendment has to be made. Amendment 162 affects the clause relating to the allowance to senators. I am asking for its recommittal at the request of Senator Matheson. Amendment No. 180 concerns form M, which was agreed to through an inadvertence. I propose to move that it be disagreed with. That would be consequential upon what the committee has previously done. Amendment 192 deals with form Q, and the same remark applies to that as to form M. Amendment 196 deals with form Rl, which will be unnecessary if the new clause which I propose to submit is adopted.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee :
– As the Bill was sent ‘up to the House of Representatives it contained a provision for the issue of voters’ certificates. The Bill was amended by the House of (Representatives by striking out that provision, and substituting amongst other matters new clause140a, which is as follows : -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or if he is absent from the polling place for which he is enrolled, may vote at any other polling place within the division in which his polling place is situated, if he makes and signs before the presiding officer a declaration in the: form Rl in. the schedule.
It was pointed out when the clause was discussed here, that it would give an elector for the House ofRepresentatives the privilege of voting at any polling place within ‘his electorate, whereas a voter for theSenate would not have the privilege of voting at any polling place within his electorate outside the division where he was enrolled. SenatorDawson hasgiven notice of an amendment making the clause applicable also to voters for theSenate who desire to vote in an electorate outside their division. It has been pointed out that the machinery provided inthe Bill would not be applicable to the case of avoter for the Senatefor thereasonthat, whereas the roll for the division will be at every polling place within the division, the roll for all the divisions of theState will not be at each polling place. Consequently, if the amendment sought to be made in the clause had been carried, it would have meant that an elector would have been able to vote at a polling place where the roll upon which his name appeared was not exposed. It is therefore necessary, if the provision is to be altered so as to enable an elector for the Senate to vote at any polling place, to provide some other machinery in order to safeguard the practice and prevent abuses. An amendment has therefore been drafted which will enable this to be done by means of regulations, and will’ place an elector for the Senate and an elector for the House of Representatives on exactly the same footing. In proposing this amendment we are practically adopting the form of legislation which has been in existence in Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania. It was strongly pressed upon the Senate, in a former discussion, that this was a privilege which had already been enjoyed in three of the States in connexion with federal matters, and that if we did not provide some such machinery we should really be making our electoral law less liberal than are the laws of three of the States at the present time.
– This would enable an elector for the House of Representatives to vote in any division or any electorate.
– We already have a provision in the Bill that a polling place in any division may be established anywhere by the Governor-General in Council. But this further provision will enable regulations to be made by which, in any State, an elector will be able to vote at any polling place.
– This is wider than clause 140a, to which we have objected.
– The decision of the committee, by a very narrow majority, was to disagree with the clause in question. That is now the matter for consideration. One reason for rejecting the proposed clause was that it applied to the House of Representatives to a greater extent than to elections for the Senate. What we propose is to make it applicable to elections for both Houses on the same footing. I move -
That the resolution to disagree with the amendment be rescinded.
– I wish to make a few comments on the proposed new clause, upon the assumption that the previous decision is to be rescinded. This is a clause about which there was a very great controversy, and upon which there was a very close division. Honorable senators will remember that an amendment was originally moved by Senator Pearce, and that the committee was closely divided. I cannot exactly agree with the PostmasterGeneral that the present proposition is the result of very great thought and care. If we analyse it, we shall see that the only thought/ and care necessary in connexion with it is that which is necessary to enable a man to shelve the question, and to allow us to fix by regulation what we do not do by direct enactment. Personally, I have no objection to the alteration suggested by the PostmasterGeneral. I can conceive it quite possible that regulations may be framed, and I hope that both Houses will carefully’ consider them. These opportunities for electors to exercise the widest possible privilege should be given with those safeguards which we who oppose the clause in its present form desire and have affirmed as desirable from time to time. Ass u ming that those safeguards are going to be afforded, I wish to say that the opposition which I have previously offered is withdrawn. All that we have to consider is simply whether we shall allow the question involved to be decided by regulation. The proposed clause does nothing whatever ; the knotty point is really postponed. If Senator Pearce and those who share his view are agreeable to this postponement, no one else who was opposed to the original provision should offer any opposition. That is my attitude. I am not going to vote in opposition to a postponement of the question, and that is what this new clause really means.
– I have gone very carefully through the suggested amendment, and I do not intend to proceed with the amendment which I have already circulated.
– As far as I can judge from a perusal of the proposed new clause, we are asked to jump out of the frying-pan into the fire. The original clause was bad enough, but this is infinitely worse. For a matter so important as the method of voting to be arranged by regulation is, in my judgment, most extraordinary. Regulations under a clause such as this can be varied from time to time by Ministers, and might easily be arranged with a view< to the next elections.
I would ask the committee to remember that the polling at the next elections will be exceedingly heavy, because we shall have women, as well as men, recording their votes. There will be an enormous pressure at the polling booths, and there will be opportunities for personation and for double voting such as Australia has never hitherto seen. In districts where the population is very scattered necessarily these opportunities will not so easily arise, but in the two great cities of Melbourne and Sydney they will be abundant. Sydney is divided into seven different electorates. In each of these electorates there are a number of polling booths, and within half an hour or an hour’s railway journey from them there are two other electorates j so that there are about ten electorates in which a man bent upon furthering a certain cause can repeat his votes in the easiest possible way.
– As a rule a man does not repeat his own vote, but personates some one else, There is nothing in this Bill to prevent him from doing so. I have no hesitation in saying that honorable senators from Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland should be largely guided in this matter by the experience which has been gained - and often bitterly gained - by people in the larger States.
– The people of New South Wales have had no experience of this system, but in our State we have.
– We have had experience of this system in New South Wales. Some ten years ago we altered the system and arranged for the issue of electors’ rights. No electors’ rights are to be issued under this scheme. If the electors were required to produce a right, they could go into only one polling booth, but there is no such provision, and there is not even the safeguard of small electorates. In New South Wales the metropolitan districts are divided into about 30 or 40 electorates for the State Assembly, so that a man is confined to some extent to small electorates. But for the Commonwealth Legislature the electorates are very large. The ordinary State electorate for the House of Representatives consists of five of the State Assembly electorates, and over those wide areas those who are willing to further a cause by corruption will have every opportunity to do so. I am sorry to say that my knowledge of electoral affairs tells me that there are a large number of people who can be bought. Even if the percentage were small, that small percentage by repeated voting would be able to turn election after election. Undoubtedly the first necessity of an electoral law is, that it should secure purity of election as far as legislation can secure it.
– We get that with the envelope system.
– I think I understand the system, and I must differ from honorable senators who have spoken in the direction indicated by the honorable senator. .1 have no hesitation in saying that under this clause there would be a very serious amount of double voting and personation, and that it would be carried on to an extent calculated in many instances to alter the balance of an election. That is certainly a matter which every honorable senator is interested in preventing. I hope the committee will carefully weigh this matter over, and be led by the experience of those populous centres where the results of a system such as these are well known. I trust that the committee will negative the proposal.
– I should like honorable senators to understand the position more thoroughly, instead of referring merely to what has occurred in New South Wales or Victoria. Under the present proposal there is no possibility of personation, because only one vote can be recorded. If regulations are framed as they ought to be framed - and it will be our duty to see that they are - a voter will be able to vote only once. His name will be sent to the polling booth for which he is enrolled, and if he is not on the roll his vote will not be recorded.
– Supposing he votes in the name of a dead man ?
– I know what has been done in Sydney, but that has nothing to do with the present proposal. The practice to which the honorable and learned senator refers can go on in Sydney and in Melbourne under any Electoral Act. He refers to the practice of a number of clever electioneering agents who carefully look over the roll and ascertain that “ John Brown “ has left the district ; that “ Thomas Johnston “ is sick in bed, or may be dead, and somebody else will not exercise his franchise. Then these clever agents give two or three dozen sailors a pint of beer each to personate these individuals, and, unless they are challenged, the sailors are able to vote. But the present proposition has nothing to do with corruption of that kind, nor would any corruption be possible under it. In large cities, and indeed in big country electorates, individuals voting under regulations such as are proposed would be able to vote only once. Personation might still take place, just as a sailor can leave his ship to-day, and vote in the name of somebody else ; but the position would be no worse. The record of a vote would be sent in to the polling booth for which the person in whose name it was cast was enrolled. If there was any informality the vote would not be allowed, and it would not be possible for more than one vote to be recorded in the same name. Therefore, as a matter of fact, the possibility of personation under this proposal would probably be less than under any other Electoral Act already in existence. All these things have to be guarded against by the electoral officers, the electors themselves, and the agents for the candidates. We are passing legislation for a Parliament, which, to some extent, is itself an experiment, and the legislation we pass in some directions is also experimental. These regulations will be submitted to both Houses, and they will probably work very well. If the effect is not found to be all that the country would desire, it is much easier to alter a regulation than to pass an amending Act. That is an advantage which should be remembered. The iniquities of personation have been discussed before, and I have no desire to further debate the matter. Senator Playford says that a returning officer has declared against this proposal, but every returning officer declares against anything that will give him the slightest trouble. What they look to is not the convenience of the electors, but how an election may be carried out with as little trouble as possible to themselves. Nobody blames them for that, but while I should go to returning officers for their opinions upon matters of this, kind, I should weigh their opinions in the light of the positions they occupy. I hope that this proposal, which is of an experimental character so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, will be carried, and I believe it will be found tobe for the benefit of the electors.
– Honorable senators throughout the discussion of .this Bill have shown a desire to give every possible facility to enable the electors to record their votes: The only object which any honorable senator can have in opposing such a clause as 140a, and such a clause as that suggested by the Government, is to prevent fraudulent voting. As Senator McGregor has told us, this clause was- debated very fully a few nights ago, and honorable senators determined to disagree to the amendment submitted by the other Chamber, the reason being that the amendment proposed would give great facilities for fraudulent voting. Whether they were right or wrong a majority of honorable senators held that opinion, and yet, having had that expression of’ opinion from honorable senators, we are now asked by the Government to reinstate this clause, not with a view of adhering to the clause alone as originally suggested by the House of Representatives, but with a view of passing a clause which is far more open to objection than was clause 140a. We know that the great fight upon that clause was that, so far as Senate elections are concerned, the electors should be permitted to vote in any part of a State, and should not be confined to voting within their own divisions, as in the ease of elections for the House of Representatives. The same system may fairly be applied to elections for both Houses, because it is the same voter who is voting, in each’ case. The House of Representatives has proposed that, in voting for the election of a member of that House; the voter should be compelled to vote within the division for which he is enrolled, and, by parity of reasoning, he should be compelled to vote for the election of a senator within the division in which he is enrolled. If it is desired that his privilege of ‘voting should be extended in the case of an election of a senator, it should logically be extended in the case of elections for members of both
Houses. That would manifestly open the door to all sorts of fraudulent devices for the purpose of recording votes-.
– How is it it has not done so yet 1
– The honorable and learned senator comes from a happy little State where they have very little experience of’ the wily electioneering agent. In all the great States .personation has always been the difficulty with which we’ have had to grapple.
– Why penalize the rest of Australia because of the iniquity of some of the New South Wales electors 1
– The electors are no worse in one State than in another, but where there are a large number of them the facilities for fraudulent voting are greater, and the facilities for avoiding detection are also greater. The object of confining a man to voting within his own division is that he will probably be well known there, and any attempt at personating may be detected.
– Voters are less known to each other in Western Australia than in any of the other States.
.- I dare say that in Western Australia that may be the case, but then there are not so many graveyards in that State from which to draw voters. I have the greatest sympathy with those who desire to give every man an opportunity for recording his vote. I would give every man a reasonable opportunity of doing so, but when we have already dealt with the matter by providing for voting by post and for the speedy transfer of a voter’s name from the roll of one division to the roll of another, we have done all that we can reasonably be expected to do. I earnestly urge upon the committee the undesirability of rescinding what we have already done in order that the Government may have an opportunity of submitting, a proposal which will only tend to increase the apprehensions which existed in the minds of honorable senators when voting upon this clause the other night. We are asked to set aside this clause for the purpose of considering a clause which provides for a most dangerous form of legislation - legislation by means of regulation. Honorable senators have said there is not much danger in that, because the regular tions have to come before Parliament ; but let me point out that no time is fixed at which these regulations shall be made, and in all probability they will be made when Parliament is not sitting. How are they to be brought into existence? Honorable members will find, under clause 215, giving the power to make regulations, that -
The Governor-General may make regulations for carrying out this Act. All such regulations shall be notified in the Gazette, and thereupon shall have the force of law.
Honorable senators will see from that that the approval of Parliament is not required. The matter is settled at the sweet will of the executive. The moment they agree to a regulation it is gazetted, and then becomes law. If honorable senators ask whether Parliament will not know anything about it, the answer is - Yes. Under the clause it is provided -
All such regulations shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament within 30 days after the making thereof, if Parliament is then sitting, and if not, then within 30 days after the next meeting of Parliament.
So that the Government are inviting honorable senators to give them power by regulation to pass a law with which Parliament cannot interfere until the difficulty, if there is any, has occurred. The regulation would be passed under this clause at the time the elections were about to take place. Representations would be made to the Government that some 500 voters having the right to vote for a particular division were unfortunately at the time living away in the country and could not get to the poll, and the Minister would then pass a regulation appointing a polling place in the district in which the men were supposed to be for the purposes of the election. The matter would not come before Parliament, because Parliament would not be sitting at the time. The regulation having the force of law would be acted upon, the election would take place, and then any injustice that might occur could not be remedied by the repeal of the regulation, because the mischief would be done. The new Parliament elected under the regulation would be powerless to do anything.
– These horrible things have never happened in Tasmania, Western Australia, or Queensland.
.- The honorable and learned senator was not present when I said we could not compare a State like Tasmania with only a handful of population with a State like Victoria and New South Wales>
– What about Queensland and Western Australia ?
– How often has it been done 1
– The honorable and learned senator might ask how many elections we have had.
.- We have had but one, and is the experience of one election to guide us for all time in adopting this proposal because it may be a convenience to our friends in Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania.
– The honorable and learned senator has no experience of it in New South Wales.
SenatorLt. -Col. GOULD. - We have had experience in connexion with the evils of elections for the last fifty or sixty years. We have not had experience of this particular system, because we have always carefully guarded against it. We. have found it necessary to issue voter’s certificates to secure the purity of elections. The Senate was agreeable to such a provision as that, but it was objectedto in another place. If we had a provision for voter’s certificates, the objection to this proposal would not be nearly so great. The objection to voter’s certificates has been that men have been required to carry their certificates about with them, and there has always been a danger that they may lose them, and that they may not discover the loss until it is too late to get a new certificate before the day of election. Under the second sub-clause of clause 215 a regulation has the force of law.
– No; the three subclauses must be read together.
– Assuming for the sake of argument that the honorable and learned senator is correct, a regulation is notmade until Parliament has gone into recess. It is made in order to carry out an election, and any evil which exists cannot be redressed until it meets, and chooses to bring pressure to bear upon the Minister to induce him to abrogate or cancel the regulation.
– You cannot conceive that a Minister would dodge the whole scope of the clause by doing that sort of thing. I cannot.
– We do not say that a Minister will act on malice prepense to do a wrong to the community, but we say that when an appeal is made by a section of the community that it is desirable to exercise this power the Minister would probably, and in all good faith, exercise it. It is wrong to put a Minister in that position. The Government may see fit to say “an election is going to take place in Melbourne, and we shall pass a regulation which will enable three or four hundred persons to vote in the most remote part of Victoria at that election.” It is a mistake to grant such a power to a Government, and in the case of States like Western Australia and Queensland, where the distances are enormous, it is still more dangerous. The result of its operation will be that elections will be dragged on for an interminable time. In some parts of Western Australia, I believe there is no communication with the metropolis under a week, ten days, or a fortnight.
– We had this system under our regulations, and the elections were over in six weeks - as soon as those in New South Wales.
-CoL GOULD. - I do not recollect what period has to elapse between polling day and the day of the return of the writs, but certainly it is not so long as the honorable senator states. It is offering chances for personation and fraudulent voting. At every election fraudulent voting takes place, more or less, and we have to devise schemes, as well as we can, to prevent such occurrences. While we should afford every possible facility to voters, we should place every obstacle we can in the way of fraudulent voting taking place. In view of the position which honorable senators took the other night, and in view of the opinions which they expressed on clause 140a., I hope that they will not go so far as to restore the clause, in order to admit of personation, fraudulent voting, and delay in making election returns.
– Senator Gould has argued entirely against the experience of other States. I do not know what his experience in New South Wales has been ; but it is entirely contrary to our experience in Queensland. He thinks that it would be dangerous to place in the hands of any Minister the power to frame regulations for the purpose of giving facilities to electors to record their votes. For many years the system has existed in Queensland. Sometimes, unfortunately, electors experienced difficulty in inducing the Minister to afford those facilities which undoubtedly many of us thought that we were entitled to have. But notwithstanding the inconveniences to which some districts have been put at election time, this system has, on the whole, worked remarkably well in that State. A mining field may spring into existence in the course of a few weeks. For instance, take the mining field of Croydon, or Chillagoe, or some of the mining districts in the far north. To these districts a large number of electors came from different parts of the State, and if a power of this kind had not been in the hands of the Government those men would have been obliged to travel hundreds of miles in order to record their votes. Surely it is not wrong to place such a power in the hands of the Government, and if the Minister in charge of the department should fail to do his duty, we have the right here to criticise his action, and Parliament has always the means of punishing a Minister or a Government for doing a very wrong act-
– The honorable Senator might as well say that the Government could legislate by regulation on any subject they thought fit.
– No. This is a practical question which can be dealt with in a practical way, as it has been for many years past in Queensland.
– Will not voting by post suit the purpose 1
– No; because an elector has to give notice that he expects to be in a particular place at a certain time before he can get a postal ballot-paper. Hundreds of persons are moving from place to place, and, therefore, cannot give the requisite notice.’ A man might be required to ride 20 or 30 miles before he could be in a position to send a wire to the returning officer for a postal ballot-paper, and before it could arrive by sea or by coach the election would be over. At our Senate elections a voter had the right to vote in any part of the State in which he happened to be. In Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania, there has not been one case of known impersonation under this system. Honorable senators who oppose this provision are actuated by fear, and the difficulties which they have pictured have not arisen in those three States and are not likely to. arise in the Commonwealth. Surely it is unfair to wish to take away from the electors of three States who have returned eighteen senators, the rights and privileges which they have enjoyed for some time, and which have acted fairly and reasonably in regard to all parties concerned. I trust that honorable senators will give us credit for sincerity of purpose in advocating this system
– J hope that honorable senators who- voted on this clause before will not reverse their votes. If it is right to vote it is also a duty to vote, and persons should be willing even at some little personal trouble to record their votes. We have provided for voting by post ; in fact we have made provision to meet almost every case that can arise, and yet we are now asked to allow a person to vote anywhere within the division for which he is enrolled, and if the proposed clause is inserted that division may mean the whole State. We ought to consider the officers who will have to administer the law. We can imagine what a crush there will be in a polling booth in a centre of population. Let me take the district of West Adelaide, which I know. Men who live at Norwood, Glen Osmond, and other places, and who will not be near their own polling place at a convenient time will vote at West Adelaide. Between half-past twelve ‘ and half-past one o’clock several hundred men will be rushing into the polling place to record their vote. What will be the result of that crush? The returning officer will have to give his whole attention to those who wish to make a declaration that they are on the roll elsewhere. Then there may be challenges by the scrutineers.
– They will not vote in that way if they are near their own polling place.
– My opinion is that they will. Therefore, I am desirous of protecting, as far as possible, our returning officers from the annoyance to which they would be subjected if we carried the proposed clause. We shall have ladies coming up to record their votes, and they, with others who have a right to vote at a particular polling booth, will be delayed while all these declarations and challenges are taking place. This will lead to a disturbance of the business of the whole booth. Suppose the clause is carried, and I happen to be up at Oodnadatta, and my polling place is Glen Osmond, and vote there. There every polling booth in the State must be kept open until every other polling booth can be heard from. No polling booth can be closed until a message has been received from it. I also object to voting by regulation. That is hot a wise thing. We ought to know what we really want, and put it into the Bill, instead of leaving it to regulation.
– What does the honorable senator want?
– I want to have clause 40a struck out, and have nothing inserted in its place. I do not want to leave it in the hands of Ministers to frame a regulation which will have the force of law without giving. Parliament a chance of discussing it or knowing anything about it.
– What has impressed me more than anything else during this discussion has been the fact that we are now imposing an electoral law upon the whole of the Commonwealth ; and surely our first consideration should be to see that it is made at least as liberal as those electoral laws which have previously been in force in different parts of the Commonwealth. An elector in Tasmania, or in Queensland, or in Western Australia, will, if the opponents of this clause have their way, be told at the next election that he is not to have the same facilities for voting as he had previously. What opinion will he be likely to form then of the liberality of the laws of the Commonwealth ? We ought to be very careful in our legislation not to take away any rights which electors previously possessed.
– Whether the State laws be wise or not 1
– I think I shall be able to satisfy Senator Sargood that I am not stating anything that cannot be supported by sound arguments. The obligation is upon those who would cut down the privileges of electors to show that there is some danger in permitting them to enjoy their present privileges. Those who are now opposing this motion are in the position of persons who wish to cut down rights that are already existing in three States. What reasons are given for so doing 1 I admit at once that if it can be shown that this right will lead to the commission of fraud and impersonation, those will be good grounds for not granting it. But that has not been shown. When you want to find out whether a thing of this sort leads to fraud and personation, you ascertain in the first place whether any one has had experience of its working. An ounce of fact is worth a bushel of theory in everything, and particularly in electoral matters. If we want to find out whether there is danger in passing this provision, surely we should look to the experience gained in the actual working of it. We find that in the three States, the voters of which it is now sought to deprive of the right they had before, no more fraud and personation than is necessarily the case has occurred. I am not so optimistic as to suppose that there has been no fraud. Probably there has been some, but it has not come to light ; and it is extremely unlikely that there has been any more fraud under this system than under the other system of voting. Nor are there nearly as many facilities afforded. Therefore, if we apply the test of actual experience, the evidence is all one way - that you have in these three States, representatives, of which are here, testimony that the system proposed has worked well. I do not think that any of the representatives of Tasmania, Queensland, or Western Australia have pointed out any danger from its adoption. They have pointed out nothing to lead us to believe that the awful condition of things that has been pictured by the imagination of some honorable senators has occurred.
– There has never been any complaint in Western Australia.
– Is there any honorable senator from Western Australia who says that there has been any complaint against the system there? Senator Ewing voted against this proposal previously, but he made no statement that he did so on the ground that the Western Australian law was working badly. The other Western Australian senators say that it has worked properly. I find exactly the same testimony from Queensland and Tasmania. My honorable friends from Tasmania have no statement to make in regard to the system there having broken down. I have not even heard any statement from Senator Macfarlane that it has led to fraud or personation.
– We have onlyhad it in operation once in Tasmania.
– Three times.
– We know from the date of the regulation that it has been in operation in Tasmania three times. When I asked Senator Macfarlane to pointout where there has been fraud or personation his answer was not that there had been any offence of the kind, but that the system had only been tried once. Therefore, I may take it that the honorable senator has been led against his will to join in the chorus raised against this system by those who have had no actual experience of it.
– My objection is to the making of regulations.
– There is a sort of blind instinct on the part of some honorable senators to vote against any extension of the right to vote. The whole of the testimony we have is that there is no reason why the proposed system should not be adopted.
– I have shown that there will be great inconvenience in the administration of it.
– The honorable senator has crystallized the whole opposition to the motion. He has spoken against it on the ground of what may be, or might be, whereas we have evidence as to what has been. Surely, if there had been any personation or fraud under the system we should have heard something of it.
– The unsuccessful candidates would have made a protest.
– If there had been any complaints to make we should have had petitions or objections against what is proposed; I made an observation just now which is fully borne out by experience - that whenever any advance is made in the existing franchise or in facilities for voting, the same cry is always raised : that we shall be opening the door for fraud. But I think the general experience is that all these different extensions of the right to vote- such as voting by post and the system which has .been followed in Tasmania, Queensland, and “Western Australia - so far from warranting that fear, show that in reality there is no more personation under such methods than there is under the method of actual personal voting. The reason, I think, is that you cannot carry out a system of personation as a general rule without organization, and the way in which voting is carried out under this system militates against organization. For instance, let me show from the history of the matter up to the present time how far the Senate has- expressed its opinion, and how it is swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat in objecting, to what is now proposed. In the first place, when the measure first came before us it embodied a provision for voters’ certificates. Under that system a man might get a certificate after the issue of the writ and three days before the polling day. He would have to appear at the polling place where he was entitled to vote, but there would be nothing in the world to prevent the voter from handing the certificate over to some one else, just as the elector’s right, as it- used to be called in New South Wales, might be handed over to some one’ else.
– As soon as a man has voted on an elector’s right it is stamped, and he cannot vote on it again.
– Exactly j but that does not answer my point. I am dealing with personation, and I say that the voter’s certificate might be handed over to another person, just as an elector’s right could be handed over, and the other person could vote on it. There is no comparison between the opportunities for fraud with a voter’s certificate and the opportunities for fraud under this system. Yet, the Senate passed the provision as it came up from another place in the form of allowing a voter to vote at any place in the same division. What difference is there in principle between allowing regulations to be made which will have regard to all the surrounding circumstances, and the whole of the conditions under which a vote is given - which will enable a person to vote in any part of a State - and allowing a man to vote in any part of an elecorate without any such safeguard save those in the Bill1) Take the electorate of Maranoa, or any of the other large electorates in Queensland. Can it be said for one moment that the returning officer in one of those electorates would know every man who made an application to vote there? Can it be believed that there is any more likelihood of a voter being known at any polling place in such a large electorate than there is of a voter being known at any polling place in the whole of a State ? There is really no difference in principle, and there is a very little difference in the working out of the scheme. Thesame committee which passed the provision for voters’ certificates, and which subsequently affirmed this other principle, is now unwilling to go to the extent of giving the Minister power to make regulations safeguarding the method by which a voter may vote outside his polling-place and within any part of a> State. When we remember that we are asked to de-liberalize the electoral law in three of the States, and to take away rights which have already existed - when we remember that the whole facts are against that being done - what reason can there be for this opposition ? It is asked, “Why not provide for this privilege in the Bill ; why leave it to regulations 1” The answer is complete. The reason why it has been left to regulations in Tasmania, Western Australia, aud Queensland is that it is necessary to consider the special circumstances in which a vote is to be given. The matter depends upon a number of considerations. It depends, in the first place, upon how the electoral system is going to be worked, the number of officers, the way in which it is to. be administered, the kind of checks which exist against personation, and other offences against the electoral law. Until we know what those are going to be, we cannot satisfactorily provide by regulation for voting in this particular way. It is because it is impossible to safeguard this so clearly, and so closely, and so effectively in an Act that power is given to make regulations. We all know that there are 101 things left to the administration of Acts of Parliament which we should prefer to see embodied in the Acts themselves. They are not embodied in them, because they require to be applied to particular circumstances. The regulations must have such an elasticity that they can be amended when some new safeguard is necessary. If the matter is governed by an Act of Parliament it is necessary to go to Parliament to have the Act amended. If it is provided for under regulation it can be dealt with promptly ; a loophole in a regulation can be stopped by another regulation, and if a regulation does not work properly its form can be altered. With regulations we can apply ourselves to the exact condition of things in carrying out our. purpose of safeguarding the votes. That is a complete answer to the question, “ Why not put this in the Bill ?” It is not put in the Bill, because it will be more effective if left to regulations. Then it is said, “In handing it over to regulations you are giving much power to the Government for the time being.” There can be no doubt of that. No doubt we give the Government for the time being some very large powers in making regulations under other Acts. A large power has been given to the Government in regard to regulations under every Act which has been passed during the present session. What is the safeguard 1 In the first place, publicity in the Gazette. In all cases a regulation takes effect from the date of publication. What is the next safeguard 1 The laying of the regulation on the table of Parliament. The regulations under all the Acts which we have passed are effective from the time of publication. It is only for the purposes of public information that they are published.
– By the time that Parliament was able to deal with it the trouble would be over.
– Exactly. That applies to hundreds of cases in which the Government have been given power to make regulations. All that you can do is to provide first of all that there shall be publicity in the Gazette, and secondly, that there shall be a direct communication to Parliament, so that Parliament may have the matter brought under its notice and exercise its right of effective criticism of administration. In other words it comes to this : There are certain things which the Parliament can enact in legislation. There are certain other things which have to be left to administration, and it is always open to Parliament to bring to book a Minister who fails to discharge his duty or discharges it improperly. That power is always present. If a Minister were so recreant to his duty as to impose a set of regulations which were not fair or reasonable, or which were so loosely drawn that they offered no safeguard, surely there would be a power in Parliament, in public opinion, and in the press to bring him to book. In working our parliamentary . institutions, surely the greatest safeguard to administration of all kinds is that power in Parliament, in the press, and in public opinion, which prevents a Minister, even if he wishes to go wrong, from going wrong to any serious extent.’ I hope the committee will see that there is no difference between this and other cases in which large powers have to be left in the hands of the Minister. We are bound to assume that Ministers who, by the aid of a majority in Parliament, attain the position of representatives of the executive authority of the Commonwealth, and who can be maintained in that position only as long as they hold the confidence of that majority, will have such a sense of their duty, such a sense of the public welfare, such a sense of the all-pervading scrutiny of every public action as to make it impossible for them in any serious way to depart from their duty of making this safeguard as real as possible. I have taken up more time than I intended to occupy in dealing with this matter, because I feel very strongly that our first message, in a unifor’ electoral law, to the people of Australia should not be that we are going to take away rights which they have held before. If the exercise of those rights can be so safeguarded as to prevent, as far as possible, fraud or personation, it is our duty to see that the law is passed in such a form as will enable them to be preserved.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- I feel somewhat of a personal interest in this clause, and it is really for that reason that I have risen to speak upon it. “When the original clause was before us, I consistently opposed it, but while I am not afraid to adhere to my own opinion, I am never afraid to change it if I think it is wrong. I am asked to consider, not the original clause against which I voted, but the clause now before us ; and I am not going to be so hopelessly illiberal as to say that what is desirable - and it is desirable that every elector shall have as few impediments put in his way as possible - should not be given, provided that certain safeguards are imposed. It is evidently desired to give every elector the fullest opportunity to record his vote. It is also evidently the intention of the Government to frame regulations. If they do not frame regulations, the very right for which a large section ofthe committee has been fighting, will be denied the electors. I take it that the intention of the Government is to go into this question thoroughly, and to frame regulations which will make the provision safe. From that view I do notintend to differ. I intend to vote for the clause as proposed by the Government. But I shall reserve my right to closely inspect these regulations when they are put before us. I take it that they will be criticised, not only by those who were opposed to the original clause, but also by honorable senators in the labour corner. It is in the interests of every honorable senator to criticise them carefully, and no doubt they will be given that scrutiny which they demand and deserve. If they appear unsatisfactory, no doubt Parliament will hear of it and theMinistry will hear of it. For these reasons I intend to vote for the clause as it stands.
– This is the third occasion upon which this subject has been discussed in- this Chamber, and I am delighted to find that several honorable senators have changed their minds in regard to it. I still adhere strongly to the opinion that this proposed privilege should have been embodied in the Bill in the shape of the clause which we first tried to insert, but I understand that the chief objection which the Ministry have to the adoption of that course is, that in the first place the system might prove to be too expensive ; secondly, that it might prove to be cumbersome ; and thirdly, that it might be found to be unworkable. The Minister has definitely laid it down, however, that it is the intention of the Government, if possible, to frame regulations which will allow the electors in three of the States to retain the privilege which they at present enjoy. The chief reason which has impelled me to vote for this provision is that just given by Senator O’Connor : That it would be very illiberal and unwise to take from the electors privileges which they have already enjoyed. A few things have happened since the Commonwealth Parliament first met, which have aroused a feeling of antipathy on the part of a number of electors in Tasmania towards the Federal Parliament. It would be unwise for this Parliament to do anything further to intensify that feeling. I am delighted to find that several honorable senators have changed the view originally entertained by them in regard to this matter, and that there is a prospect of the clause, as now proposed, being inserted in the Bill. I hope it will be carried.
– I wish to say a word or two in reply to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. My objection to this clause is not that which he attributes to me. I object to the matter being ‘left to regulations to be framed by the Government. The regulations are to be put in force by the Government of the day ; the elections are then to take place, and it is not until they have been held that we are to know what the regulations are. That is my great objection to the clause as it stands.
– They will do it at their own risk.
– And we may suffer from it. It is all very well for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say that this matter can be dealt with more effectively by regulations, but an exMinister of the Crown - Senator Playford - has said, very naively - “When I was a Minister I wanted everything to be left to regulations. Now that I am not a Minister I am dead against them.” Those are my sentiments.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (NewSouth Wales). - I should like to say a word or two with regard to some of the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when commenting upon theapparent change of opinion on the part of honorable senators with regard to extending the power of voting. He alluded to the fact that, where certificates had been determined upon, there was a provision similar to that which it is now desired to insert. Butthe clause to which he referred provides that electors not having voters certificates, and not voting by post, shall vote only at the polling place for which they are enrolled, and that none but electors having certificates shall vote at any polling place within the division. The VicePresident of the Executive Council spoke strongly in regard to the value of regulations and the Ministerial responsibility connected with the framing of them. But regulations dealing with the matter now under discussion might not be published until after the prorogation of Parliament, and shortly before an election, and they would then not be open to effective criticism until the new Parliament came into force. Although the provision does not say that the regulations are not to be made until the very last moment, it does notprevent them from being made until the last moment. Regulations are intended to deal only with minor matters, which are not of sufficient importance to be dealt with in an Act of Parliament. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council askedme whether I would prefer a provision such as he wishes to insert, or a (provision embodying such regulations ashe thinks ought to be framed, I would declare for the second alternative, because then I should know really what would be done, and- should have an opportunity to object to provisions which I thought were not in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– -Does the honorable and learned senator think that ‘Ministers cannot be trusted to provide; the proper safeguards?
.- I do not wish to raise that question, but I would point out that a Bill is a very different measure after its provisions have been winnowed by the two Chambers from what it was when originally introduced. The matter under discussion is of such importancethat it should be dealt with in the Bill itself. If we leave it open for the Government to deal with it by regulation, a Minister might say, “I do not consider it necessary to pass regulations in regard to this matter at all.” The proposal before the committee leaves it absolutely to the Minister to determine whether the concession asked for should or should not be granted.
– The strongest argument which has been used againstthe clause is that contained in the concluding sentences of Senator Gould. To a great extent I feel that the Government have failed to meet the legitimate demands of many honorable senators. It might happen that the Ministry of the day might say, on the eve of an election, that they did not feel called upon to exercise the power which we propose to give to them. Senator Macfarlane has stated that his antipathy to the clause is due to the fact that it allows the matter to be dealt with by regulation, instead of dealing with it directly ; but when an opportunity was given to him to have- it dealt with directly, he and Senator Gould voted against the proposal. In Tasmania we had the proposed systemin operation for one parliamentary election, and for two referenda in regard to theFederal Constitution. On all three occasions the arrangements were carried out under regulations, and not in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. That experience has shown that the arrangement which we wish to bring about can be worked effectively and satisfactorily under regulations, and that a large number of voters have been glad to avail themselves of it. I hope that Senator Macfarlanewill see his way to support an arrangement which has already been tried in theState which he represents, in default of our: being able- to obtain anything better thanthe proposal originally submitted by SenatorPearce.
Question. - That the resolution to disagree with the amendment be rescinded - put. The committee divided-.
Ayes … … … 15 !Noes … … … 6
Majority …. … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of all the words after the word “ elector, “ line 1, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “1. When voting at a polling place at elections for the Senate or for the House of Representatives shall, except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, only be entitled to vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled. “2. Provided always that the regulations under this Act may provide facilities for enabling electors to vote at elections for the Senate or for the House of Representatives at other polling places within the State in which the election is held, and may provide for all matters (not inconsistent with this Act) necessary or convenient to be prescribed for the purpose of carrying this part of this section into effect, and in particular for the following matters : -
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 146. - (Ballot paper to be handed to elector.)
– In dealing with this clause, I propose in the first place to move that the decision of the committee to disagree with the amendment be rescinded. I shall then move that the committee agrees to the amendment, so far as it proposes to delete the words “ he delivers to the presiding officer a voter’s certificate,” andthen to move that we disagree with the amendment in so far as it proposes the insertion of the words “his. name is on the roll for the division, and he makes andsigns a declaration as required by section 140a,” with a view to insert other words which I shall submit. I therefore move -
That the resolution to disagree with the amendment be rescinded.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the committee agree to the amendment omitting the words “ he delivers to the presiding officer a voter’s certificate.”
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the committee disagree with the amendment inserting the words “his name is on the’ roll for the division, and he makes and signs a declaration as required by section 140a,” with a view to adding the words “Provided that the fact that an elector’s name is not on the list of voters for a polling place shall not prevent him from voting in cases where provision is made by regulation allowing voters to vote at polling places other than the polling places for which they are enrolled.”
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia).The next amendment made by the House of Representatives which has been recommitted is new clause 213a. It has already been agreed to by the committee, but for reasons which I shall give, I move -
That the resolution to agree to the amendment be rescinded.
My objection to the new clause is purely a technical one. I am satisfied with the intention of the clause. If it appeared properly in a Bill of this kind, or if it was before us in a separate measure, I should be prepared to -support it. My only regret in dealing with- this matter is that I am not a lawyer, and that as this is purely a technical matter, involving legal questions solely, . I am afraid that I shall not be able to do the subject justice. In the first place, as a matter of parliamentary practice, I submit that this clause is entirely outside the scope of the Bill. It has nothing whatever to do with any matter regulating parliamentary elections. If honorable senators will refer to page 452 of May’s Parliamentary Practice theyill find it laid down that-
No amendment can be moved which is not strictly withinhe scope of the title of the Bill which describes its objects and scope.
I have already pointed out that the title of this Bill represents it as simply a Bill “to regulate parliamentary elections.” Any clause dealing with the payment of money to members of : the House of ‘Representatives or to members of the -Senate is therefore distinctly outside the scope of the Bill. If ‘honorable members will turn to page 453, of May, they will find that he deals with the same question, and says practically that the House is subject to this primary condition - that the amendments come within a fair interpretation of the rule laid down in Standing Order No. 34. That does not apply to us, because our standing orders are different, but the practice remains the same. He says that these amendments should be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, and he then describes what the subject-matter of the Bill is. He says -
The subject-matter of a Bill as disclosed by the contents thereof, when read a second time, has since 1SS4 formed the order of reference which governs the proceedings of the committee thereon.
This clause was inserted in another place, and it did not form any part of the Bill when it was read a second time in the Senate. I submit, therefore, that in accordance with parliamentary practice as laid down by May, and with our own practice, the insertion of this clause is quite out of order. I cannot elaborate the point as a lawyer. I can only submit it, and trust that some of the legal members of the committee will take the matter up. Another rule which has been laid down is that alterations of the Constitution should be kept separate and distinct in Bills for that object only. This is admittedly an alteration of the Constitution. Section 4S of the Constitution provides that -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and -each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which h6 takes his seat.
Parliament would undoubtedly be quite within its rights in fixing some other day from which the salary should commence. But I submit that such a provision should be contained in an entirely distinct Bill, and it should not be inserted along with other matters in an Electoral Bill dealing only with the regulation of parliamentary elections. I propose to leave that point, and I now proceed to another : that the insertion of this clause is entirely contrary to the Constitution. No one can deny that this is a clause appropriating revenue. Under the section of the Constitution to which I have just referred, the payment of members of this Parliament dates from the day upon which they take their seats. This clause proposes an extra payment practically from the time they are returned, and it therefore proposes an increase of the charges to be borne by the people. Under the circumstances, it is distinctly a clause appropriating revenue. On this point section 53 of the Constitution says -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys shall not originate in the Senate.
This Bill did originate in the Senate. There was no suggestion as the Bill left the Senate that it should appropriate moneys. It was sent down to the House of Representatives simply as an Electoral Bill; in that House this clause, appropriating revenue, was inserted, and I submit that under the Constitution it is ultra vires as a clause of this particular Bill. Section 54 of the Constitution goes further still. It says -
The proposed law, which appropriates revenue , or moneys . . . shall deal only with such appropriation.
Here we have a clause appropriating revenue inserted deliberately in an Electoral Bill dealing with matters which do not appertain to revenue appropriations in the least. In support of my view, I desire to point out, from the proceedings in another place, exactly what happened. What took place arose out of section 56 of the Constitution, which says -
A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of moneys, shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has, in the same session, been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
This proposal originated in the House of Representatives, and the following message was received from the Acting GovernorGeneral, on the 23rd July: -
Message No. 54. - In accordance with the requirements of section SO of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Acting GovernorGeneral recommends to the House of Representatives that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to regulate parliamentary elections.
Therefore, a measure which left us as a purely Electoral Bill, was returned to us as a Money Bill containing a provision authorizing the appropriation of revenue in accordance with a message from the Acting Governor-General. This message was considered on the following day, 24th July, when it was resolved -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to regulate parliamentary elections.
The Government then found itself in exactly the position that had been forecast by Senator O’Connor when he dealt with the amendment proposed by Senator Neild, having in view a . purpose similar to the provision now inserted. He said -
If the view should be taken that we have not the power to pass a clause of this kind, the whole Bill might be imperilled. It might be liable to be set aside on account of the appearance of such a clause in it.
The Vice-President of the Executive Coun- cil clearly recognised the risk that would be incurred if such a clause were inserted in this Chamber. If his argument is to hold good, and I think there is no doubt that it does, it applies with equal strength to the amendment inserted by the other House. If the insertion of such a clause would have jeopardised the Bill on its passing from this Chamber to the House of Representatives, it is perfectly clear that such a provision should not have been inserted by the other branch of the Legislature. We are under very serious restrictions in dealing with Bills appropriating money. Although there is no limitation in the message of His Excellency the Acting Governor-General to the House of Representatives, we are satisfied that it applies simply to this clause.
– The message applies only to that portion of the Bill which appropriates money.
– It deals with no particular part of the Bill, but with the appropriation of money in respect to the whole of the measure ; although we know personally that it applies in effect merely to this clause, which affects the salaries of members.
– But it does not appropriate the salaries of members.
– But the best proof that it does appropriate salaries lies in the fact that it was found necessary to send down the message. We cannot be too careful in framing the laws of the Commonwealth, and we should by all means avoid slovenly legislation such as this, which involves a distinct breach of the Constitution. I am afraid that I have not placed the matter so clearly before honorable senators as I might have done if I had been able to deal, as a lawyer would have done, with the legal intricacies of the question, but I think I have said enough to show that the clause is ultra vires, and should be omitted from the Bill so that it might be embodied in a separate measure.
– The objection raised by the honorable senator takes the form of a point or order, which should have been mentioned, if at all, when the clause was first under consideration.
– It is not a point of order. If the clause is an improper one it may be objected to at any time.
– I think . that the objection of the honorable senator must take the form of a point of order, and that the whole of his arguments turn upon theone point whether this provision is within the scope of the title of the Bill.
– Not merely that.
– I think so. I must confess that I cannot see that any breach of the Constitution is involved. The Constitution provides that, unless Parliament otherwise provides, something is to happen, and we are now legislating strictly in accordance with that requirement. Senator Matheson has quoted some remarks made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, with regard to a provision similar to that which we are now discussing, to the effect that if if it had been inserted in this Chamber it would have jeopardized the Bill, because it would provide for the appropriation of revenue, and would therefore be contrary tosection 53 of the Constitution. My honorable colleague was absolutely correct in. the view which he then took, because a. clause appropriating revenue could not be inserted in this Chamber. It was, however, properly embodied in the Bill by theHouse of Representatives, and was covered by a message from the Acting GovernorGeneral. The objection raised by SenatorMatheson is that the message of His Excellency, the Acting Governor-General, doesnot cover this provision, because the clause does not come within the scope of the title. If, however, the clause is within the scope of the title of the Bill, it is covered by the message of the Acting Governor-General.
– It should form the subject of a separate Bill, according to the provisions of section 54 of the Constitution.
– Section 54 relates to proposed laws which appropriate revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. This clause does not come within that category, but, on the other hand, is clearly covered by the Message from the Acting Governor-General. This is a Bill to regulate parliamentary elections, but it deals not only with everything connected with the polling sit elections, but with the return of the writs, and the settlement of election petitions, which are clearly matters arising out of the elections, but happening after they have actually taken place. If the point is taken that as the measure is a Bill to regulate elections, it should not deal with any tiling but the regulation of elections pure and simple, it might be contended that the hearing of an election petition was beyond the scope of the title. I do not, however, think that any such point could be successfully maintained. The matters dealt with in this clause are clearly connected with elections, and I fail to see that there is any ground for the ‘objection raised by the honorable senator.
– We are not entitled to amend any part of a Bill which appropriates revenue.
– We have not amended this clause.
– But we have amended the Bill.
– But this is the only clause involving the appropriation of revenue. I submit that a clause of this nature may be inserted in the House of Representatives if there is a Message from His Excellency the Governor-General covering the proposed expenditure.
– - That is a most ‘dangerous theory.
– If the clause is within the title of the Bill, as I contend it is, it is certainly covered by the Message from the Governor-General. The point whether it is exactly within the scope of the title is -a matter that need not be raised at this stage. It might have been urged when the amendment was brought before us in the first instance; but, as the committee have already agreed to it, I do not see any reason why we should reverse our decision.
– The point to which attention has been directed ‘ is a very important one, and can scarcely be disposed of in an offhand way. Although . important, however, it is a comparatively simple one. I agree with the Postmaster-General that in the first place this clause involves the appropriation of revenue or moneys, and that it could not be introduced by way of amendment in this Chamber. I agree with him also that we have no power to originate a provision of this kind, and that, I understand, was the view taken on a former occasion by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. In the second place, it is such an appropriation of moneys or revenue as requires in the other House a message. I also agree that it is not an appropriation within the meaning of section 54 of the Constitution Act for the ordinary annual services of the Government, which must be dealt with by a separate proposed law. But then that does not get rid of the difficulty that arises here, and that has been pointed out, I think, by Senator Matheson, in a way which entitles him to our gratitude - the introduction of a provision of this kind into a Bill, dealing with an altogether different object, and intended for altogether different purposes. The point really arises under section 56 of the Constitution Act, which, it seems to me, is fatal to the continuance of this clause in the Bill. I think it should be dealt with by disagreeing to the amendment, and leaving the other House to rectify it if they can. Section 56 of the Constitution Act says -
A vote resolution or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed- unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message.
Unless the Postmaster-General’s contention is correct, that this appropriation has been covered by a message, it is quite clear that this clause cannot be passed. Is it covered by a message? I venture to think that Senator Drake will see that it is not.
– In the other House it has been.
– With great respect, I say - no. The question is whether the provision contained in the clause is within the scope and purpose of the Bill. The only message from the other House was one recommending to that House that an appropriation of revenue be made not for the purpose of a clause to be introduced there by amendment of a Bill originated here, making provision for increasing or anticipating in certain cases the payment of the allowance to members of Parliament, for fixing a date for its payment other than that fixed in the Constitution, but for the purpose for a Bill for an Act to regulate parliamentary elections. All that message covers is the appropriation necessary under the Electoral Act for the purpose of carrying out its objects. Of course, there are public moneys required in various ways under the Act for carrying out its purposes, but to increase the allowanceto members of Parliament to anticipate the time of its payment is altogether foreign to an Electoral Act. The object of an Electoral Act is to deal with the choice of members of Parliament. Once they are chosen the purposes of the Electoral Act are exhausted. Then the Constitution says that those who are chosen to be members of the Senate or members of the House of Representatives are entitled to an allowance of £400 a year computed from a certain time, and power is given to Parliament to increase or diminish that allowance, or to change the time of its payment, but that is totally different from the purpose of an Electoral Act. An Electoral Act is simply machinery. Supposing that instead of being a clause to partially alter the remuneration to members of Parliament it had been a clause to increase the amount to £600 a year, could anybody have said that it had a proper place in aBill to regulate parliamentary elections? Could any body have said that a clause of that kind was covered by a general message to satisfy the Constitution, simply providing for the appropriation of money for the purpose of an Act to regulate elections 1 Surely nobody could have contended anything of the kind. If such is the case, then it is quite clear that the message does not cover this clause, because it is limited to an appropriation for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to regulate parliamentary elections. That being so, it seems to me that Senator Matheson’s position is on that ground unassailable, and that the proper course is to eliminate the clause, and let the other House rectify the matter if it can.
– I think it will be recognised that my honorable and learned colleague has stated exactly what the point is. It depends upon whether the clause is or is not within the scope of the title of the Bill. That point may arise in two ways. It may arise under the Constitution Act as has just been pointed out by Senator Symon, because the message, which it is admitted is necessary under section 56, must be one which authorizes the proposal. This is a measure authorizing an appropriation for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to regulate parliamentary elections, and if that is not a purpose of the Bill, then the message does not cover it. On the constitutional objection, therefore, we must inquire whether the clause is within the scope of the Bill or not. On the question of order, there is no doubt that the clause, whether it is inserted here or in the other House, may be open to objection on the ground that it is not within the scope of the Bill as set out in the title. Therefore, from either point of view, that is the sole question. Looking at the matter as carefully as I have been able to do, I do not think that it is within the scope of the Bill. If we had the whole Bill before us we might, perhaps, remedy the matter by giving an instruction to the committee to alter the title. But there is an insuperable objection to taking that course, and that is that both Houses have agreed to the title, and all that is before the Senate are particular clauses. There is no way outof the difficulty but to reject the clause on the ground which has been pointed out. I see no way of remedying the difficulty in the other House, because they cannot give an instruction in regard to the title as it is not before them. I think it will be admitted that the only way in which this very desirable legislation in regard to the position of members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate can be brought about is by a separate Bill. At first, I thought that the matter was unimportant, but I do not think that any question dealing with the Constitution and our procedure under it can be looked upon as unimportant, especially in this the first session, in which we are laying down the rules which shall guide us in the future.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment disagreed with.
Form M -
– The amendment in this form which involves the question of plumping at elections for the Senate, was agreed to inadvertently the other evening. I move -
That the resolution to agree to the amendment be rescinded.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment disagreed with
– The remarks which I made in regard to Form M apply to this form, I move -
That the resolution to agree to the amendment be rescinded.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment disagreed with.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That a committee consisting of Senator Clemons, Senator Matheson, ana the PostmasterGeneral he appointed to prepare and bring up reasons for disagreeing to amendments Nos. 2, 6, 21 to 24, 27,58, 80, 87, 110 (as to part), 114, 119, 139, 145 to 161, 162, 180, 192, and 190 of the House of Representatives.
Report of committee presented, and adopted.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 24th inst.
Senate adjourned at 9.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020910_senate_1_12/>.