1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, if it is the intention of his department to take any steps to improve the postal and telegraphic facilities at Mount Gambier?
– The matter is now under consideration. It is a question as to whether the present post-office building shall be enlarged and improved, or whether a new one shall be erected. That is a matter which for certain reasons - obvious ones, I think -has not yet been decided. If the honorable senator will give notice of his question I might be able to furnish him with fuller information.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act and Post and Telegraph Rates Act.
Ordered to be printed.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The attached return is in these terms -
Total amount of duty collected on ships’ stores during 1902, ?19,208.
Note. - The Victorian and Queensland figures are from 8th October, 1901, to 30th September, 1902, the figures for 1902 not being available.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to lay on the table all the papers in connexion with the proposed retirement of Lieutenants - Colonel Braithwaite and Reay?
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Government is of opinion that no good purpose would be served by doing so, and would suggest to the honorable member not to press the question.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Was the Commonwealth Government requested by the Imperial authorities to issue permits granting permission to land in South Africa ?
Did the Commonwealth Government arrange with the State Governments for the issue of such permits?
Over what period did the work of issue extend ?
How many nf such permits were issued by each State respectively ?
Did not the Imperial authorities express a willingness to remunerate the officials employed in the issue of such permits?
Have any payments been made on account of tho work of issue ?
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is the work of preparing the now electoral rolls sufficiently well advanced for the Government to be able to say that they will be ready without doubt in ample time for the elections that must be held towards the close pf the year ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
My colleague, the Minister for Homo Affairs, informs me that every effort is being made to expedite this matter, and ho is confident that the rolls will be ready. In New South Wales and South Australia the collection of names has been completed, and the commissioners appointed for the purpose have issued their schemes of distribution into electoral divisions, these being exhibited at tho various post-offices, and must, under the Act, await objections for a period of 30 days. Until the divisions are approved, the printing of the rolls must remain in abeyance. In Victoria the canvass by the police is practically concluded and the commissioner will proceed with the distribution into electoral divisions forthwith. In Queensland the police have finished the housetchouse canvass, but all the lists. have not yet been received. In Tasmania and Western Australia the collection of the lists is being pushed forward with all possible despatch.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator Drake) : -
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, consisting of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Dobson, Sir J. W. Downer, Lt. -Col. Gould, Harney, Higgs, O’Connor, and Sir W. a. Zeal ; four to be the quorum.
That a Library Committee be appointed, consisting of the President, Senators Barrett, Keating, Matheson, Millen, Stewart, and Sir J. H. Symon, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with any similar committee of the House of Representatives ; four to be the quorum.
That a House Committee be appointed, consisting of the President, Senators Cameron, De Largie, Fraser, Glassey, Lt. -Col. Neild, and Play- . ford, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with any similar committee of the House of Representatives ; four to bo the quorum.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend tho’ Claims Against the Commonwealth Act 1902.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Macfarlane) -
That leave of absence for fourteen days be granted to Senator Clemons, on account of illness.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) -
That leave bo given to bring in a Bill to enable and regulate the taking of evidence by Parliament and Parliamentary Committees.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith) -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the agreement entered into between the Government and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and also all correspondence and papers connected therewith.
Debate resumed from 27 th May (vide page 124) on motion by Senator Downer -
That the Address in Reply be adopted.
– I think the Senate may well congratulate itself upon the tone of the debate. It is very gratifying to me as a federalist - and I claim to be before all things a federalist - that the work which has been done up to the present time towards the federation of the States of Australia has been so completely recognised. I think the graceful references made upon the floor of the Senate represent not only the feeling of this House, but also the feeling of the country. I have nothing to say with regard to the tone of the criticism - if I may so call it - of the action of the Government. The honorable senators who moved and’ seconded the address in reply - to whom I give my grateful acknowledgments - spoke perhaps in a tone of criticism in some respects with regard to what the Government has done, that seems rather to have surprised some members of the Senate. But the Government are not afraid of criticism, and would certainly prefer that their friends should state openly anything in their action that they may consider open to criticism. Then we may endeavour to meet them. But by those honorable senators from whom, perhaps, we might have expected that their criticisms would to some extent have been tinged’ with political animus, the Government have been altogether blest. No exception could possibly be taken to the remarks that have come from honorable senators opposed to us ; and I find, on looking through my notes of what has been said up to the present time in this debate, that although some statements have been made to which I am very glad to take the opportunity of attempting a reply, of hostile attack there has been really nothing to notice. There are, of course, many subjects upon which there are differences of opinion. The leader of the Opposition does not object to the work done during the last session on the ground that we did not do enough, but on the ground that we did too much. He does not agree with us with regard to the degree of importance attached to the measures which we dealt with during the session.
– I think you did the wrong work.
– That is a matter of opinion. We consider that those measures which were designed to preserve the race integrity of the people of Australia were of first importance, and that we did right in placing them in the position in which they appeared. With regard to the measures known as belonging to the policy of a white Australia, we held that they had special claims. There are one or two points which I wish to refer to in connexion with that subject. As to the. sugar rebate, there seems to have been some misunderstanding in the Senate. The opinion was generally held during last session, when Parliament agreed to grant a bonus for the growth of cane by white labour, that - the cost of that policy should be a burden borne by the whole of Australia, seeing that it was an Australian policy. The form in which the policy was passed was that there was to be a rebate from excise paid on account of sugar grown by white labour. Under ordinary conditions, or under the conditions which will prevail, I hope, before very long, when the whole of Australia is supplied with sugar produced from Australiangrown cane, that provision for taking the amount of the rebate from excise would work fairly equitably. That is to say, if all the people of Australia were consuming sugar produced from cane grown in Australia - I do not say whether grown by white labour or black labour - then the contribution as a bonus to the growers of cane grown by white labour would be fairly equally drawn from the various States. But it happens, in consequence, to a great extent, of the drought and the comparative failure of the cane crop in Queensland, that the production ‘ fell very far short of the consumption. Consequently, in some of the States, the sugar consumed was nearly all Australian-produced sugar, whereas in other States nearly the whole of the sugar consumed has been imported. If the amount collected in excise had been distributed according to the consumption in each State, and if the amount of the’ rebate paid had been deducted from the amounts paid to those States, the result would have been that the people who consumed the sugar which was grown in Australia would have contributed the whole of the bonus paid to the growers of cane by white labour, whereas those who consumed sugar which had been imported, and upon which £6 per ton was paid, would not have paid their proportion. That would have been the result. I am sure that no one contemplated that any such injustice would be done as to provide that the amount expended to encourage the growth of cane by white labour should not be contributed by the whole population of Australia ; and that is a measure which I think meets with general satisfaction. I will say a word or two about the six hatters, and then we can pass the matter by. It was an amusing, and at one time it looked as though it were going to be a tragical incident. I am glad that the leader of the Opposition has told us that he does not raise any question with regard to the administration of the section of the Act, but that he objects to the section itself.
– I said I thought that the administration was a farce.
– I understood the honorable and learned senator to say that it was not the administration of the .section to which he objected.
– I said that I would not re-open the question.
– The section itself was passed by Parliament after full discussion, without any division. I remember that I spoke upon it myself.
– And there was a belief that it would not be applied to such cases as have occurred.
– It was not applied to the six hatters, because they were not excluded. “When the section was discussed here, if honorable senators opposite thought that it should not form part of the measure of course they knew the steps they ought to take to give expression to their view. Speaking generally, however, I am convinced that the people of Australia agreed with the policy embodied in that section. With regard to the administration of the Act, I fail to see how any fault can be alleged against what was done. When the news arrived that these men were due, and they had given no proof of the special qualifications which would have removed them from the operation of the section, surely the Prime Minister was perfectly correct in putting the provision into operation. As soon as it was proved that the six hatters were exempt they were allowed to come in. But we are told that this section was shocking the conscience of the British people. Well, the section is still in the Act, and the conscience of the British people is not shocked now. We know now exactly what took place in connexion with the administration, and we know that the section is not shocking the conscience of the British, or of any other people. What was it - if there was anything - that caused distrust in England in connexion with that incident? It was not the facts of the case, but it was the telegram that was sent to England - the misleading telegram ; and if you find out who was the person who sent the telegram you will find out the person who was instrumental in shocking the public conscience.
– The PostmasterGeneral thinks then that a concealment. is all that is necessary ?
– How can there be any concealment after all the talk there has been about it? We have now got all the actual facts, and having got them I say that the people of Australia approve of the provision of the Act, and will acquit the Prime Minister of any possible blame in connexion with its administration.
– It is universally disapproved of.
– Not at all. Now as to the postal contract. Some honorable senators seem to think that a great deal of trouble is going to happen in consequence of the inclusion of the black labour clause in our postal contracts. I do not anticipate any great trouble.
– How are you going to get out of the difficulty t
– We have given notice, as we were bound to do, having that section in our Act of Parliament, that we cannot enter into an arrangement in the nature of a contract with the owners of vessels whose ships are worked by black labour. In consequence of that we understand that the British Postmaster-General in calling for tenders says that he cannot be bound by such a condition. He will call for tenders in t!»e ordinary course. Whether the British Postmaster-General will enter into any conti act with a company employing coloured labour or not we do not know. It is possible he may not. He may stipulate that in accepting tenders he will accept the contract from some company employing white crews, in which case we are open to an arrangement. But in any case we do not anticipate that there will be any delay whatever in the carrying of our mails. There is such a large amount of competition now between the different steamship companies, and they are running such close races for the purpose of delivering their mails and passengers and cargo - one against the other in ocean races - that there can hardly be the slightest doubt that the postal service will always be properly maintained, and that the vessels for the carriage of our mails will always be sufficient to enable us to ensure a quick delivery. Indeed, I have no doubt that facilities will increase. We must remember that the amount- that has been paid to the P. and 0. and Orient companies has been £170,000. It is not a very large amount, and we cannot suppose that if that £1 70,000 were withdrawn these two companies would slacken their efforts to make their passage as quick as it has been in the past.
– But you now require them to deliver their mails on regular days.
– The sum I have mentioned is the amount paid, and its loss would not beef sufficient importance to such big companies to prevent them from endeavouring to land their passengers and cargo in as quick a time as they possibly can. A fact which is overlooked by some people is that we have a statutory right under the British and our own Postal Acts to put our mails on board any” of these steamers, and we have been doing so.
– Notwithstanding that coloured labour is employed on board those ships ?
– Honorable senators know perfectly well that every steamer that . leaves our ports carries away mails, whether it is under contract to do so or not.
– They are paid for doing so.
– Of course; we pay them on a system of poundage. And so with the P. and O. and Orient Companies, if they carried mails, and were not under contract with the British Government, they would be paid by poundage. How that payment would compare with the subsidy of £170,000 I am not prepared at present to say. There is no need to fear that in consequence of the inclusion of this provision in the Postal Act our mails will not be carried expeditiously. While I do not altogether agree with the leader of the Opposition in believing that we did wrong in placing that legislation in a prominent place, I agree with him in regretting that we were not able to pass the High Court Bill last session. He has not overstated the case as to the importance of passing that Bill as soon as possible. It is, as he has pointed Out, one of the pillars of the Constitution. Until the tersely printed sections of the Constitution are amplified and vivified by judicial decisions it must remain a thing of parchment. Until our High Court has had an opportunity of giving decisions upon disputed law points under the Constitution, the Constitution itself will never be what we desire it to be, but I hope that when the Bill is before the Senate honorable senators will not be disposed to fulfil the letter of the Constitution by means of some cheap substitute.
– Better nothing at all than that.
– Exactly. If we are going to have a High Court it should be fully equipped and efficient for the purpose. It should command and include the highest judicial talent obtainable in Australia.
– -What will the Judges have to do ? They will not have more than one day’s work a month.
– They will have to give decisions correctly interpreting the Constitution, and that is of more importance than the printed text. Considering the very great issues at stake, I think it would be a vitally false piece of economy to take. any steps in the direction of sacrificing the efficiency of that tribunal for the sake of making a small saving. As to many other matters which have been referred to by honorable senators, I think it is unnecessary for me to reply at length. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be a most important measure. The importance of such legislation has been shown, I think, by recent events. The Bill is to be brought forward during the session, and when it is before us it will be time enough to discuss its provisions. I may say the same with regard to the Navigation Bill. That is a measure which may or may not be brought up for discussion this session. It is of great importance, but in view of the uncertainty as to whether it will be introduced this session, it seems rather premature now to discuss what may be its provisions. Then there is the question which was referred to by one or two honorable senators as to the taking over of the State debts. The Governor-General’s speech sets forth that the question will be discussed if an opportunity is afforded. Looking at the list of measures which have to be dealt with during the session, I am inclined to think that the probability of the Senate being called upon this session to pronounce an opinion upon the subject is somewhat remote. But it is a most interesting matter, and I am very glad to see that both in Parliament and outside attention is being directed to it. If Senator Millen, with his financial ability and acumen, can devise in the interval some provision for a sinking fund which could not possibly be got at by the Government of the day, he will do a very good service.
– That is just what I think is impossible.
– We can take care at all events that savings which are actually made shall be devoted to the purpose of a ‘sinking fund. It is very hard, however, to devise any means by which to bind the Government of the day to continue a sinking fund. Senator Gould referred more particularly to the Customs administration, and I suppose it is due to him that I should say something on the subject. It must be borne in mind, however, that the department is not under my control, and I cannot speak with regard to any particular cases because I have not taken any careful note of them. But it seemed to me in listening to Senator Gould’s remarks that the gravamen of his charge against the administration of my colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs is much the same as that of all the complaints I have heard on the subject. He complains that the Minister has not discriminated between innocent mistakes in connexion with incorrect entries or invoices and cases of fraud. I understand that the position taken up by my colleague is that it is not his business to decide those questions, and that he would have to try each case beforehand if he were compelled to decide whether each mistake was innocent or fraudulent.
-Col. Gould. - But he proceeds with a. prosecution, .and the counsel for the prosecution states deliberately that there is no imputation of fraud.
– I am not dealing with any individual case, but that always seems to me to be the clear difference between the Minister for Trade and Customs and his critics. His critics say that he ought to decide whether a mistake is an innocent one or not - that he should exercise discrimination on those lines. The Minister says - “No; let them go to the court, and let the court decide whether the mistake is an innocent one or not.” I do not envy my colleague the task that he had to perform, but I think it is a task which required great strength of mind and firmness.
-Col. Gould. - The very reverse.
– It was a task which required a man of strong determination and will in order to cope with the difficulties which presented themselves in connexion with a Tariff that was new in every State, and which differed very widely from the
Tariffs which had existed in some of the States. It was necessary that he should be a strong man. Senator Walker made a remark last night which did not impress me in the way I think he intended, it should do. He spoke about a gentlemanly, courteous administration and referred to section 156 of the Postal Act under which the PostmasterGeneral has a right to decide certain small cases rind to inflict fines. But the two cases are not at all analogous. The little mistakes which occur in the Postal department are almost invariably cases in which some one has slipped a note into a packet or parcel and thereby defrauded the revenue of a penny or twopence which would represent the postal charge. Such occurrences are not analogous with those dealt with by the Minister for Trade and Customs. He has been dealing with cases which if not checked and stopped would eventually result in an enormous loss of revenue and prove a handicap to the honest and careful trader competing with one who is not.
– But the principle is the same.
– No. I shall show now why Senator Walker’s remark last night did not impress me as I think he intended it to do. I have been much shocked to find that the cases coming before me under the section referred to are very numerous. Whether it is that the officers are now more vigilant than they were I do not know, but the fact remains that the cases dealt with under this section, and in which I impose fines without any publicity being given to them, are becoming too numerous. What is the reason t I do not disagree with the policy of the section. I think it is right that it should be there, because it would be a most painful thing to have to prosecute a servant girl, for instance, for slipping a note into a parcel, or for some other offence of that kind. Still I cannot help believing that if there were prosecutions which would give publicity these cases would be less frequent. Now that we have adopted the principle of inflicting these fines in the Postal department I do not care to depart from it, because it seems to me that if I once commenced public prosecutions of this kind I should have to go on prosecuting all the way through. Nevertheless, I believe that if there had been public prosecutions in some of these cases, publicity would have been gained, and people would have beendeterred from offending against the Act in that particular.
– What is to prevent the Postmaster-General from obtaining publicity by publishing his decisions from day today?
– I do ‘ not believe in doing that, because the very object of the section is to enable the Postmaster-General to dispense with that.
– I find that in nearlyall these cases the offenders in their letters submitting to the jurisdiction of the PostmasterGeneral almost invariably say they were not aware that they were breaking the regulations. In some cases it may not bo an excuse, but in a great many it is really true that the offenders did not know they were committing an offence. To come back to the point which I think Senator Walker de sired to make, I would point out that, although the Minister for Trade and Customs has been compelled to adopt a stern system of administration, the benefit of it will be felt in the future. All the turmoil that has been worked up against his administration - and to a great extent it has been worked up by these complaints - is now dying away, and it will continue to die away as the decisions of the Customs department come to be known. As the working of the department by the officers goes on I am inclined to think that these cases which have been painfully brought before the public will become very less frequent.
– Painfully brought before the courts.
– And I think that in increased revenue, and in the security of fairness of competition between merchants, wo shall get the benefit of the results of an administration of the Customs which has been stern, just, and in discriminating. I have a word or two to say with regard to the Western Australian railway. It will be generally agreed that the Government have been justified in the action they have taken in getting all the information available upon that subject. That line of railway, like other means of communication between different parts of Australia, cannot, I think, be judged upon absolutely the same grounds as those upon which the advisability of constructing an ordinary railway is decided. We must regard this work as desirable or otherwise upon grounds of high public policy. I think I am right in reminding honorable senators that in connexion with the federation of the different portions of the Canadian Dominion it was a stipulation made by British Columbia that, upon coming into the “Union, the CanadianPacific railway should be made in order to bring together the east and west of Canada. The Dominion,- by means of granting large land subsidies, secured the construction of that railway, and it was constructed for high political purposes. We must admit that means of communication which are designed to bring enormous parts of this great continent into close touch should be regarded in somewhat the same way. I therefore think that no stone can be thrown at the Government for the action they have taken in this matter. “We have gone steadily on endeavouring, without any unreasonable delay, to get all the information upon the subject which may be available. There is a matter upon which I must say a word, because we know there is some little feeling aroused in connexion with it. I refer to the selection of the site for the future capital of Australia. Certain honorable senators from the State of New South Wales seem to be a little hurt with the tone of some remarks which have been made in the State of Victoria. I do not think there is any justification for the feeling. I have no reason to believe that Victoria. or any one entitled to represent “Victoria, would be disposed to depart from either the letter or- the spirit of the Constitution. This provision of the Constitution is as binding upon us as any other part of it, and it is fully recognised that it was part of the federal compact that the capital of the Commonwealth should be in the territory of New South Wales. No unreasonable delay has taken place up to the present time in putting Parliament in a position to make a proper selection, and no blame in connexion with this matter can be cast upon the Government. It is said, and no doubt this has weight with some honorable senators, that it will be necessary to at once spend large sums of money upon the capital before it can become the seat of government. That aspect of the matter was very well dealt with by the leader of the Opposition. To my mind it is an unsubstantial bogy. I see no reason to fear the expenditure of large sums of money upon the capital site. We must bear in mind that it has been stated by the Goverment, and I believe with the entire approval of the people of Australia, that the lands of the Federal territory, within which the capital of the Commonwealth will be, shall remain unalienated. That being so, any expenditure of money which takes place for the improvement of the land, and indeed the mere fact of the settlement of the people there, will give a continually increasing value to the land, which will itself be revenueproducing. I have no idea as to what site will be recommended to Parliament for its acceptance, but when a site is accepted, I see no reason to anticipate the expenditure of large sums of money before it becomes the capital. As soon as it becomes the capital, the expenditure of a certain amount of money in developing it, will be justified by the increased value which will be given to the land. I desire as much as anyone to see proper ‘economy in Commonwealth expenditure, but there are few directions in which I think expenditure may be more safely incurred, supposing it to be incurred wisely and not too hurriedly, than in the development of the federal territory. Senator Fraser referred to the agreement entered into with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, but I think the honorable senator was not fully aware of the facts connected with that agreement. I should like for the information of the Senate to state briefly tho circumstances in which the agreement was made, and the necessity for it. When the Commonwealth was established, four of the States had entered into contracts with the Eastern Extension Company, and those contracts were dissoluble, only by the mutual consent of the parties. That is to say that, at the wish of either party, they were practically interminable. The agreements were made for the purpose of obtaining from the Eastern Extension Company certain concessions in the matter of rates - practically for obtaining a 3s. rate. Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and New South Wales entered into the agreements only just before the establishment of federation. The position, therefore, when the Post and Telegraph services were transferred to the Commonwealth was that four of the States had actually made these agreements, which were subject to termination only by mutual consent of the parties. An agreement has been made to substitute for these four agreements a contract terminable in ten years, with two years’ notice ; that is to say, terminable in twelve years. So that the Eastern Extension Company gives up its interminable contracts with four of the States to get a contract with regard to the whole of Australia, which will be terminable in twelve years. Under this new agreement the whole of Australia gets the benefit of the 3s. rate, and the Eastern Extension Company cun, under no circumstances, raise that rate. In certain circumstances, however, that is to say, given an extension of business up to a fixed limit the 3s. rate is to be still further reduced to 2s. 6d. I have spoken only of the general rate, but of course the Government rate and the press rates have been reduced in the same way. It seems to me that being a federation it would be almost impossible for us to have continued under such a state of things as existed when the poata! services of the States were handed over to the Commonwealth, and I need hardly tell honorable senators that in the course of years it would certainly have been found to be most unsatisfactory if we had been bound to any company by a contract terminable only by the mutual consent of the parties. The agreement entered into was the result of prolonged negotiations, and it represents the best terms the Government were able to secure in the matter. Of course, we are animated by the hope that consequent upon the reduction of charges there will be such an expansion of telegraph business between Australia and Europe and Australia and Canada, that both of these great undertakings may prove remunerative. There is still room for a great extension of cable communication.
– When the Government Tariff is smashed.
– Not at all. I am sorry to have heard the word “Tariff” mentioned again, but I suppose we must expect that from the honorable senator, because it is his particular bogy. Listening to the remarks which have lately been made in connexion with the very interesting address delivered in England by the Secretary of State for the Colonies I could not help thinking what an advantage it would have been if we could have had the full text of the speech cabled out here. We have now for some time past, here and elsewhere, been discussing a speech, the text of which we have not yet received. All we know is that the Secretary of State for the Colonies made an important deliverance in England, which apparently expresses a deliberate intention to make some move in the direction of increasing the commercial ties between different parts of .the Empire. That, I think, has given general satisfaction, not .only to the Government, but to people outside. But we cannot discuss the matter or form any settled opinions upon it until we have the advantage of perusing the exact text of the speech. There is one other subject of very great importance upon which I must say a word, and that is . the naval subsidy. The matter is one which I am afraid is not very well understood, and I would ask honorable senators not to be in haste in coming to a decision upon it until the proposal has been thoroughly discussed. An opportunity will be given to the Senate, as well as to the House of Representatives, of either ratifying or refusing to ratify the proposed agreement. But it is desirable when the time comes that the judgment, if it is to be pronounced, should be pronounced upon the facts. Senator Downer has explained the kind of ships of which the squadron will consist. We are at present in this position, that an agreement entered into now some ten or twelve years ago for an auxiliary squadron has expired, and has been renewed by the Admiralty from year to year. The ships forming the auxiliary squadron admittedly are, if not exactly obsolete, at least not up-to-date. What is proposed is that a squadron consisting of a very much better class of ships should be provided for the subsidy, and that an agreement for its services should be entered into for a period of ten years. A good many persons tell us now that they think it is time that we had a fleet of our own. Strange to say, some who profess the strongest . views with regard to economy are the very persons who tell us that we should go in for a fleet. A fleet is a very expensive thing to have, and when I hear some of those who talk so much about economy in this department and the other speak about starting a fleet, I am reminded of the lines in King John, where Philip Faulconbridge says of the citizens of Angiers that they talk -
When some of these gentlemen talk to us about fleets as though it were like starting some department, I wonder whether they have really considered all the intricacies as well as the enormous expense of maintaining a fleet.
– Nobody talks about having an ocean-going fleet.
– It is of no use to have any ships that we cannot send to sea. The principle of naval science at the present day is not to wait for the ships of the enemy to come and attack you at home, but, as soon as you learn that a hostile fleet is in any direction, to find it out and either destroy it or shut it up. Take, for instance, the war between America and Cuba. The Americans had their forces all ready to be transported to Cuba, but they would not allow a single transport to leave until every Spanish ship had been found and shut up or rendered harmless. That is the principle upon which naval warfare is now carried out. There are some persons who say that the cost of a fleet is so insignificant that it should not be considered at all. No doubt £200,000 is a very small sura to’ pay, but it puts us in this position, that we are getting this defence from the mother country for absolutely nothing. We are paying only fivetwelfths of the cost of equipping and maintaining the squadron, and what do we get* for that expenditure ? We get a first-class squadron, very much better than any we could maintain ourselves, even if we paid the whole cost.
– That is what they said of the present squadron.
– That was said twelve years ago. No doubt at the time it was considered to be tin up to date squadron, but it has been outclassed since then. We are told that it is desirable that we should make a commencement with a view to having a fleet of our own. In this agreement we have a provision for training our seamen. It is specially provided that the three drill ships and one of the other vessels shall be manned by Australians and New Zealanders as far as they are procurable, paid at special rates, and enrolled in proportion to the relative population of the Commonwealth and New Zealand. There is a provision for giving our seamen an opportunity to become effective, and the cost is very much less than it would be if we attempted to do the work ourselves. There are some persons who say that they do not object to the cost or to the character of the fleet, but that they want a provision put in that the vessels shall not be removed from Australian waters without the consent of the Government. Let us look at this objection for a moment. Every man who asks himself the question must know that if that state of tilings existed the consent would never be refused. Only recently we sent away contingent after contingent, not waiting for the men to be asked for, but practically stating that whatever military strength we had would be placed at the service of the mother country if needed. Can we suppose for a moment, therefore, that if we had a squadron under these conditions it would ever happen that that consent would be refused 1 Certainly not. But the delay would be absolutely fatal. Supposing that the Admiral had first of all to communicate with the Governor-General of Australia, perhaps at a time when the cables might be cut, it would be absolutely useless for him to attempt to co-operate with any other portion of the British fleet, because the delay that would take place in obtaining that consent would be absolutely fatal. That brings me to another point which apparently, has been overlooked - that in this scheme there are three squadrons on three different stations. ‘ The idea is that, in case of a hostile fleet ever making its appearance, the Australian, China, and East India squadrons should coalesce to attack it. The Australian squadron would, if circumstances so required, go from Australian waters and join the other two squadrons in order to attack the enemy. On the other hand, if the enemy ever appeared in Australian waters, we should get the benefit of the squadrons on the China and East India stations. The business of the Admiral in charge of the three squadrons, as soon as he heard of a hostile fleet being in any locality, would be to mobolize his strength and prepare at once to attack it. Surely we must take those points into consideration. I share with other honorable senators the aspiration that the time will come when we shall be. a great people, and shall be able to maintain a fleet of our own, and perhaps have a naval policy, but that time has not come yet. We require protection, and we seek by this agreement to get at a very moderate cost this necessary protection from the mother country as a temporary arrangement for ten years in order to give us time, after which we may perhaps be in a position financially and otherwise to maintain a fleet of our own. I do not know whether any other matters have been mentioned to which it was my duty to reply ; but if I have omitted to refer to any such matters, it has been through inadvertence. I can only express the hope that the auspicious commencement of this session may be followed by a record of good work in the direction of building up the Commonwealth.
– I do not propose to follow closely on the lines which have been taken by previous speakers, but there are some other matters which I desire to bring before the Senate, and to some little extent I shall break new ground. If I have to animadvert on the administration of any departments, it is not my fault that the PostmasterGeneral will not have an opportunity of replying to me, because I told him what I proposed to do and suggested to him that he should reserve his speech until I had had my grumble, when he would be able to reply, which, by taking the course of speaking first, he has denied himself.
– But the honorable senator could have spoken yesterday. I was nearly forced to speak at eight o’clock, when no one would get up.
.- I could have spoken yesterday perhaps, but just at the particular moment - when the debate was petering out apparently - I was not prepared to speak. I had not contemplated speaking yesterday. As a matter of fact, I only got the materials of my speech together this morning. First of all, I propose to deal with a matter which I wonder no honorable senator has referred to. It is a matter arising out of the speech of the Governor-General to both Houses at the close of last session, and it affects the rights of the Senate and the position which it successfully assumed at the commencement of its existence as a deliberative body. When the Governor-General came to prorogue Parliament our mouths were closed, and, of course, we were unable to enter any protest, or take any objection to an attack made upon the rights the Senate assumed in the earliest days of its existence. I refer to this paragraph in the speech -
Gentlemen or the House or Representatives -
I thank yon in the name of His Majesty for the liberal supplies that you have voted.
If there was one matter of contest between the Houses it was the right of the Senate to have a potential voice in the granting of supply. The very first Supply Bill passed by -the House of Representatives was sent to us with a preamble which contained these words -
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects . the House of Representatives in Parliamen: assembled towards making good the supply which we have cheerfully granted to Your Majesty in this session of Parliament have resolved to grant unto Your Majesty the sums hereinafter mentioned.
When the Bill came before the Senate, I gave notice of a motion to omit these words. I had no opportunity of moving the motion, because the Government put the Bill under the table in the other House, and introduced a Bill with another preamble, in which these words occurred -
For the purpose of appropriating the grant marie by the House pf Representatives.
The Bill came before the Senate in that form, and upon my motion and without a division we sent it back with a request for the omission of those words, and they were omitted. Every subsequent Supply Bill which has been sent up kas recognised completely the right of the Senate to take part in the granting of supp] v, and not to be a humble subservient echo of the other Chamber. The preamble of “the Act of which these Bills were the foundation is now as follows -
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty and the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia for the purpose of appropriating the grant originated in the House of Representatives . . .
Of course we recognise that under the Constitution, not as a matter of superiority, but merely as a question of convenience, certain money Bills must be introduced in the other Chamber. But we have fought out this question. After having had the first Supply Bill submitted to us thrice, and altered twice with the view of meeting the constitutional requirements of the Senate as provided in the very foundation of our rights - the enactment which gives us our existence - whether through an oversight or intentionally, a direct slight was cast upon this Chamber, inasmuch as the speech of the Governor-General contained the words to which I have alluded. The speech was one for which, of course, His Excellency was not responsible. . But His Excellency’s Advisers, after this Chamber had twice over insisted on maintaining the terms of the Constitution, appear to me to have taken a most improper advantage of an occasion when our lips were closed, to place in the mouth of the august gentleman who is the apex of our Constitution words that could mean nothing else than a denial of the right of the Senate to participate in the granting of Supply. I think I have done my duty in mentioning this matter, but I will carry it further now that I have mentioned it. I shall ask the Senate on some future day to affirm a resolution in reference to it. At this stage of our existence, in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, if we permit inroads to be made upon the Constitution - if we permit our statute rights to be frittered away - we are not discharging the duty that is cast upon us, but we are permitting a political offence that is worse than an error, in allowing an alteration to bo made in the conditions provided by the statute that gives the Commonwealth of Australia its existence. Looking at the strangely long menu provided for our legislative digestion in the form of the GovernorGeneral’s speech, I regard it as filled with promises that cannot be fulfilled. In the last session we had a Governor-General’s speech that contained a large number of promises, and no attempt was made to fulfil many of them. In respect of others, there was so feeble, so helpless, so abject an attempt to give a semblance of vitality to the promises which the speech contained, that I recognise in this document something worse than a second edition of that which we had two years ago. But though many of the propositions that are contained in the speech we are now discussing are old familiar friends by name, I hope that if they come before us again they will be dressed in different garments, and contain a different body within those garments. I find there are some questions here as to which I shall be at one with the Government. Therefore, in taking exception to much that I find in the speech, it will be understood that I am not offering a captious criticism. As to their first proposal in reference to the High Court, I shall be with the Government, though I do not pledge myself as to the number of J udges I shall eventually vote for. As has been very well said by many honorable senators who have addressed the Chamber, the establishment of the High Court is necessary to the completion of a very important part of the Commonwealth edifice. To my mind the people of the Commonwealth, and the very constitution of the Commonwealth, are not safe from danger and from attack until the High Court has been properly constituted, in order that many questions that continually arise may be settled by an authoritative tribunal, and that we may not have the varying decisions that are now being given by the different Supreme Courts of the different States. We never shall be able to attain any degree of concinnity in our judicial decisions if cases arising have to be referred to the States Supreme Courts. You will never find those Supreme Courts deciding things in the same manner. While it may be said that varying decisions might perhaps represent more justice than decisive opinions, it must be remembered that no plaintiff nor defendant is ever able to get absolute justice in a law court. They get more than they are entitled to, or less. I think it infinitely preferable that the decisions given in connexion with Commonwealth matters should at least have themerit of being stamped by the wisdom of the highest court we can establish within our borders, and that there should not be varying decisions, which may render the administration a by- word and a mockery throughout the community. There is another old friend mentioned in the speech - the Judiciary Bill. We are going to see that again. It was one of the kittens that were carried a little way and dropped and forgotten and left behind by the Government cat last session.
– Cannot the honorable senator put it among Mr. G. H. Reid’s pups?
– No ; but perhaps I can put the honorable senator among them! Another measure is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. My honorable friends on my left are, I believe, very strong in their desire to see that measure passed. Let me say at once that I am not going to stand in the way of putting the Bill through if it is made, as far as possible, a just one. I may state that in years past I have strongly supported compulsory arbitration, because I do not see what you will achieve if you only arrive at an agreement between employers and employes which cannot be enforced. I cannot see any advantage in an arrangement of that kind. But I will utter this word of warning : that, in the establishment of these courts of compulsory arbitration throughout the land, the workers of the country, in seeking the aegis of the courts, will be parting with the freedom of action which they now possess. Whether the parting with that freedom will be eventually beneficial is a matter of absolute experiment ; but I do say that it is impossible to establish arbitrary courts of arbitration without the workers losing the freedom of action which they now enjoy. They will part from that freedom for good or ill, and the future alone will disclose the result. Then there are allusions in- the speech to other matters, which it is not necessary to go into, and I will not discuss them. I will not allude to the question of preferential trade. The time to discuss that matter is when we have the facts before us. To start an academical discussion in advance of the facts of the case being submitted to us, would be a waste of time. I say the same with regard to the naval agreement, though to a large extent I am with the Government in that matter. I may be against them on details, but the consideration that weighs strongly with me is that there should be an opportunity for training colonial seamen in the duties of a fleet which we afterwards might bring into existence. I do not see how we can hope to bring into existence a fleet of our own immediately. We could only buy two or three war vessels, and at present we have neither the men, nor the supervision, nor the knowledge to enable us to succeed immediately in respect of an effective navy of our own. The part of the agreement that provides for the training of colonial sailors upon the vessels of the squadron seems to me to offer a ready method for the introduction and establishment of a colonial navy at the proper time. During the recess Ministers have been going about the country. I have not read many of the utterances of my honorable and learned friend the Postmaster-General, and I do not accuse him of being one of the Ministerial Hallelujah chorus singers who have been careering throughout the Commonwealth claiming credit for the accomplishment of results that do not appear to have been accomplished at all. . They have been taking credit to themselves for the white Australia legislation. I say that the white Australia legislation achieved by the Ministry is a sham and a public fraud. I am justified in using a strong phrase for this reason - that the whole claim for the exclusion of coloured workers is not based upon the conditions of labour competition, but is based upon the proposition that the exclusion of these hated aliens will preserve the white character of our population and its Anglo-Saxon blood. Those are the arguments which are invariably used. But what has been achieved by the Government and their white Australia legislation? All .they have succeeded and all they have dared to do is to play the part of the school bully, who is prepared to kick a little boy who has no one to defend him. They are trying to persuade themselves and the rest of Australia that their cowardice has been an act of splendid virtue. They have taken authority to banish the kanaka from Queensland. The kanaka has been living in Queensland by thousands and tens of thousands for thirty years or more, with the result that, so fatas the contamination of the white race is concerned, the official figures of Queensland disclose the fact that there are not 50 kanaka half-casts within the whole of the. borders of that great land. Yet the Government has been willing to cast out the kanaka as an unclean thing, though the kanaka has done scarcely anything to contaminate the Anglo-Saxon race in Queensland, while at the same time they have made no effort - because they had not the courage to do so - to exclude from the cities and towns of the Commonweath the evil-smelling and evil-doing opium dens and immorality shops that flourish throughout Australia, unfortunately, and which are doing a deadly work upon the young womanhood and the young manhood of the Commonwealth.
– We are stopping more from coming in.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that if one end of his house was on fire it would be sufficient to simply prevent the other end from igniting ? Would it not be his duty to put out the fire rather than to satisfy himself by preventing a second fire ?
– But we prevent the fire from beginning.
– I am satisfied that so far as the white Australia legislation of this Government is concerned, it has done absolutely nothing that is appreciable in maintaining that purity of the AngloSaxon race about which we have had so many hypocritical platitudes from press and platform for so great a length of time. The honorable gentlemen who constitute the Government have sung another Hallelujah chorus on the granting of the franchise to women, and they represent themselves to the world at large as having achieved a splendid liberality of legislation ‘ on behalf of the women of the Commonwealth.
– Is it not true 1
.- No; it is not true in this respect, because they could not help themselves. I hear some’ honorable senators laughing, but such laughter is simply, as Solomon says, like “ the crackling of thorns under a pot.” It does not represent intellect : it represents something of the very opposite character. The Constitution provides most emphatically that no person in possession of the franchise at the establishment of the Commonwealth shall lose that right. That provision- made it absolutely impossible to take from the women of South Australia the franchise rights which they possessed when the Commonwealth was established. It goes without saying that we could not have a double franchise - a superior and an inferior franchise - for one community ; we could not have a House elected by a varying franchise, as between one State and another. Thus, as it was impossible to take away the franchise from the women of . South Australia - :and judging by his speeches in the past, the Prime Minister would have done so if he could - there was nothing left for him to do but to level up. The granting of the franchise to’ the women of the Commonwealth was nothing more than the automatic action provided for by the Constitution. The people who are entitled to thanks at the hands of those women of Australia who appreciate the franchise are not my honorable friend the Postmaster-General and his posturing colleagues, but rather the members of the Convention, who were the framers of the Commonwealth Constitution.
– And amongst them were my colleagues.
– Up to a certain point. But I do not know that because a person was a member of the Convention, he is entitled to thanks for doing something which he opposed; when in a minority.
– The honorable senator cannot show that.
– Another question to which I. desire to refer is the proposed bonus for sugar grown, by white labour. I agree with, the Government that it is a proper thing that as all the Commonwealth is to benefit by a white- Australia, all the Commonwealth should pay for its whistle. The burden of establishing this glorious white Australia, which people so much appreciate, or believe they do, should not be placed solely upon Queensland, and, to an. infinitesimal extent, upon New South Wales. There is another aspect of this question,, upon which I desire to say something. The Postmaster-General made a speech in Brisbane, in which he detailed how many thousand tons of sugar had been, grown by white labour in Queensland,, but he must have been hopelessly dense if he believed that it had all been grown by white labour. Up to, and. inclusive of. the ‘vor.k of trashing, that cane had been all grown by black labour. It was only during that portion of the year when no one was really required to look after it, that it was grown by white labour. I am speaking, of what I know to be the case. I have been up there ; I have travelled through the districts, and have obtained information, for myself on the subject. Therefore, I am not going on the statements of newspaper writers, or even upon those of plantation owners.. I have gained a personal knowledge of the subject, and what I further assert is that, in connexion with this growing of cane by white labour, one of the greatest pieces- of. wicked’ ness that has been, attempted in Australia is now in full swing. I refer to the growing of cane, not by stalwart men - whom you can not obtain to . do the work for payment - but by rapacious proprietors of canefields who turn their own. wives and children into the fields to do sweating work, which they cannot hire men to accomplish. When the proposal foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s speech comes before the Senate, I shall take every care to give an opportunity to those who like to vote,, as I shall not vote, for employing white women and tender children to sweat in canefields, doing work which adult men cannot be hired to do, owing to its obnoxious and cruel character. Before I leave the sugar question I must make a reference to something that the Minister for Trade and Customs would not refer to at his celebrated meeting in Sydney a. little while, ago. He was challenged in the most direct manner in the press by- press writers and by correspond dents who signed their names, so that they were not anonymous charges. The charge was this : that at the time the excise duty was imposed there was in store, outside bonded warehouses, in Queensland, 16,000 tons of sugar, none of which had paid any duty. And this is the extraordinary feature of the matter to which I am going . to draw attention, although I know it was mentioned last session.
– It was mentioned three or four times.
– Yes ; as no answer has been .given I shall mention it again, and I hope others will continue to do so until the secret of this mystery is wrung from those who are responsible for a transaction which is not to the public credit of- the Government of the Commonwealth. Out of that 16,000 tons of sugar 7,000 tons were allowed to go into distribution without paying, a “ bean,” while the remaining 9,000 tons were clutched by the Customs Collector, and a duty of £3 per ton collected.
– “ Beans “ would be spurious coin.
– Not half so spurious as the honorable senator is as a politician. A sum of £.21,000, which should have- .been collected as duty on 7,000 tons of sugar, was allowed to go by the immaculate Government which will prosecute a ship’s cook for carrying away half a bucketful of second-hand fat. These are the people who will chase an unfortunate sailor in the streets when he is obliging a friend in England by simply carrying from, the ship’s side to the post-office the Bible of a deceased mother. These are the gentlemen who are so greedy of religion that they must even confiscate an old woman’s Bible in the interests of honest administration. Yet, when, they see an opportunity to collect £21,000 of duty on 7,000 tons of sugar, they, like the Pharisee of old, pass over on the other side.
– What about the fat?
– -They collected duty on the remaining 9,000 tons, with the same avidity that the Postmaster-General’s colleague, like the proverbial shark after, the bit of pork, went- for the bit of fat.
– That fat would have greased the Victorian railways:
.- The less said about greasing the Victorian railways the better. My honorable friend who has just resumed his seat deplored, in that sweet plaintive voice with which he sometimes addresses the Chamber, the use of a certain word. The Postmaster-General is more persuasive than violent. He is not like me. There is this difference between us, that he is one who will try to
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame; while I am satisfied to take my axe and hack my way through the world. My learned and honorable friend was telling, us just now how he deprecated and deplored the fact that some one who had preceded him had used a certain little word, and that word was “tariff.” The use of- that word, I was going to say, was like a red rag. to a bull. I shall not say that, however, because my honorable and learned friend does not play that role, but it came to him with a sense of heartbreaking grief. Sitting here I watched my honorable and learned friend’s face, and I felt sorry that he should have- met with such a matter of distress. Still, while referring to the Tariff, I intend to indulge in a little bit of ancient and modern history. I had no opportunity of dealing with the matter last session, and I am going to take the one which now offers. It is suggested, that the Tariff must not be touched. It is too sacred a thing. It must not be interfered with in .any way. I am going to ask the Senate to remember the declaration made by the Prime Minister in his celebrated Maitland speech, when he asked, “ Shall we pile the duties on the cottager and the artisan.” I am going to ask the Senate, and especially those who claim tobe the immediate representatives of thecottager and the artisan-
– Does the honorable senator dispute our claim 1
– I do not. But I also represent them. If it had not been for the cottager and the artisan I should not have been here.
– Then why dispute our claim to represent them 1
– I am not addressing myself to honorable members of the labour party, but to those who claim to be the more immediate representatives of the cottager and the artisan. Let me just n z give, briefly, an evidence of bow, notwithstanding this notable declaration, the Ministry of the day have piled the duties on them. When the cottager or artisan rises for “his day’s work he leaves a bedstead on which there is a duty of 20 per cent.
– Will the honorable senator tell us about the mangles ?
– Does the honorable senator wish to be passed through one ? I think a little of his irrepressibleness might usefully be squeezed out of him. I say that the cottager or artisan rises in the morning from a bedstead which pays 20 per cent. duty. The blankets pay 15 petcent., and he has one cheap line at 5 per cent, on sheets.
– Is that according to the Tariff as introduced ?
.- No. That is the Tariff as passed - the subject of the universal pean sung by the YesMr.Watson Ministry. I am not going to take the unfortunate cottager through a maze of extravagance and luxury. I am going to put him on bed-rock principles. He washes with soap dutiable at 3d. per lb., uses a towel at 15 per cent., a toothbrush at 15 per cent., and shaves with a razor at 20 per cent. He uses a jug and basin at 20 per cent., a washstand at 20 per cent., and a hair brush at 15 per cent.
– He would never get to work if he had to go through all that.
– I know this is very unpleasant for some honorable senators. They would rather not have it recorded, but it shall be recorded unless the President pulls me up. ‘ This unfortunate cottager, who was to go free, according to the Prime Minister, puts on clothes bearing a duty of 25 per cent., boots at 30 per cent., polished, if he can afford it, with blacking at 20 per cent., and by brushes at 25 per cent. The cottager wants some breakfast, and he sits down to a breakfast table dutiable at 20 per cent., on a chair upon which there is a duty of 20 per cent. Before him there is a cloth, the duty upon which is 20 per ‘cent. ; a cup, saucer, and plate at 20 per cent. ; knife, fork, spoon, and coffee-pot, all ‘at- 20 percent. Is this piling up Customs duties upon the cottager and artisan, or is it not?
– But he is not objecting. .
.- Is he not 1 Let my honorable friend wait until the numbers are up before he is so positive about that. Then the cottager and artisan must have something to eat, and his porridge has on it a 40 per cent, duty, his sugar a duty of £6 a ton, his coffee is dutiable at 5d. per lb., his eggs at id. apiece, and the duty upon his bacon is 3d. per lb. I suppose he will like some mustard with his bacon, but there is a duty of 2d. per lb. upon it, a duty of 3d. per lb. upon his butter, and his bread is made from flour which is dutiable at £2 10s. per ton.
– He gets his butter at a cheaper rate than the man in England, who pays no duty.
– He must go to work under the circumstances which I have recounted after an exceedingly frugal breakfast. Then he puts .on a hat bearing a duty of 30 per cent., and walks off to work smoking tobacco dutiable at 3s. 3d. per lb. in a pipe paying a 20 per cent. duty. But it is not alone during his ‘ sleeping, working, or eating hours that this Tariff touches the cottager and artisan. It follows him to his sick bed, and pursues him beyond the grave.
– Horrible !
.- It is horrible. That is what the Barton Tariff does for the cottager and .artisan. When he comes to die there is a duty of 15 per cent, upon his physic. When he is dead -he is allowed one cheap line only in the matter of the duty of 5 per cent, on his shroud. But there is a duty of 20 per cent, on the cards calling his friends to the funeral, 20 per cent, on the coffin that holds his corpse, 25 per cent, on the hearse that bears him to his grave, 20 per cent, on the organ that sings his requiem, and a final duty of. 25 per cent, on his tombstone. This is a specimen of the operation of a Tariff which, according to the Prime Minister, was not to be piled up in the form of duties upon the cottager and artisan. When my honorable friend the PostmasterGeneral shrinks at the very mention of the word “ tariff,” let me tell hiin, with the greatest kindliness in the world, that he will probably hear it more than once during the coming session, and that the word’ “ tariff” will sound trumpet - tongued throughout Australia when the people are asked to poll their votes at the next election. I said I intended to say something about the Postal department. I find that the Postmaster-General has apparently been doing that -which Scripture describes as “ making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness “ that when other things fail he may be received into their good graces. What I refer to is that we have had the remarkable spectacle of a Minister travelling through his electorate - the whole State - and spending Commonwealth money with such prodigality that the State Premier absolutely makes public protest against the unwarrantable expenditure.
SenatorDrake. - Nonsense.
-Col. NEILD.- I find, by a return recently published, that my honorable and learned friend has, during the recess or since his accession to office, increased the annual expenditure upon the post and telegraph services in Queensland by a sum of £27,000.
– That is rubbish. That amount was paid for services initiated before federation, and for buildings and works constructed out of loans.
-Col. NEILD.-I do not pretend to know the details. My honorable and learned friend must now see the inconvenience of insisting upon speaking before me. I gave the honorable and learned senator warning that I intended to speak of these things. He therefore cannot complain if I now ask him not to interrupt me. I cannot possibly know the secrets of the honorable and learned senator’s prison house, but I do know that Mr. Philp, the Premier of the State that sends the PostmasterGeneral here, has publicly protested against the lavish expenditure on the Postal department in that State because it has the effect of diminishing the proportion of Customs duties which he receives from the Commonwealth Treasurer. I say that it is a very remarkable thing, and it shows that while we may be restricted to £250 for an election candidature, if we happen to be Ministers of the Crown, with the revenues of the Commonwealth at our hands, we may get there just the same by another route. Now I am going to say that the Postmaster-General has been a party to a scandalous miscarriage of justice in his department in New South Wales in the shape of a double trial for the same offence. I shall briefly state the facts as disclosed rom no other source than that of a copy of a report which the honorable and learned senator’s own secretary has sent me. Although the person chiefly concerned was only a switch attendant, earning from 8s. to 10s. a week, a switch attendant is as much entitled to have me speak in his behalf as a man receiving £5,000 a year. I never saw thisboy. I have difficulty almost in remembering his name, and should not remember it if I had not seen it written so often.
– “ Martin “ is the name, and I can give the honorable senator all the particulars.
-Col. NEILD. - Here again, if the honorable and learned senator had been content to allow me to speak first, he would have had an opportunity to put the matter right, and as he has not done so, I am sure he will not disobey the ruling of the President by interrupting me. I do not desire to be interrupted while I state the facts in this case concisely. This boy, earning the small sum of 8s. or 10s. per week, was accused upon four charges, the most serious of which was an offence which is committed probably by every switch attendant in the land at one time or another - that of exchanging a word or two of information with a subscriber. Switch attendants are continually supplying bits of information in this way, and indeed the service could hardly be carried on without the exchange of a word or two in this manner. There were four charges alleged against this boy ; but this was the most serious one. A departmental inquiry was held, three of the charges were held not to have been proved, and the other proved - the charge of talking. It was found to be of so serious a character that the boy was ordered to pay a fine of 4s.6d.
– He was not ordered to pay.
-Col. NEILD.- I shall now state a fact which has been disclosed to me, not by the report to which I have referred, but which I happen to have from an absolutely reliable source. The decision of the Deputy Postmaster-General, Mr. Dalgarno, that the boy should pay a fine of 4s. 6d. was communicated to him by the head of his department, but before he could pay the fine it happened that the Deputy PostmasterGeneral went away on a holiday, and an Acting Deputy Postmaster- General coming into power, the old charges were reiterated against the boy. In defiance of the principle that a man should not be tried twice for the same offence, in defiance also of the principle which my honorable and learned friend the PostmasterGeneral will recognise in military matters that an acting commandant has no right to alter orders .given by the actual occupant of the office, this Acting Deputy Postmaster-General at once suspended the boy. The head of the department thought that a fine of 4s. 6d. was enough, but upon representations being made by some method, of which I have no knowledge, the boy was suspended and the Postmaster-General was advised. The honorable and learned gentleman set in motion all the magnificent machinery of the Commonwealth, including the Governor-General in Council, and a new trial is ordered by the Executive Council.
– Not a new trial - a statutory inquiry.
D- The honorable and learned senator knows that there was a departmental inquiry. He cannot contradict that.
– Did they hang the boy ?
– He was treated in much the same way. The honorable and learned senator is trying to draw a distinction between a departmental inquiry and a statutory inquiry. Will my honorable and learned friend say that a man who has been acquitted after trial at quarter sessions, or who has only been fined a nominal sum, may, when the head of his department has turned his back, be subjected to a second prosecution by a criminal court at the hands of some temporary occupant of the position? That -a boy of tender years should be dismissed by order of the Governor-General in Council, with a Gazette notice heralding the matter forth to the world, is very extreme punishment. It was almost as bad as would be hanging the boy, and I say it is a despicable business. The facts as disclosed to me are of such a nature that I feel more than grieved that such a thing should happen in a department presided over by so amiable a gentleman as the Postmaster-General. I can only sa3’ of the honorable and learned senator, as I said of him at a public meeting in Sydney, that he is a very courteous gentleman, and most obedient to his “Under-Secretary.
– Does the honorable senator say that this boy should not have been dismissed ?
.- I say that the boy, having been fined, should have been permitted to pay the fine, and should not have been dragged up again in order that he might be thrust out of the service.
– The .honorable senator contends that two trials were too many 1
.- That is so, The Postmaster-General would, I think, desire to have two trials only .of a vote of censure, and only if on the first trial the vote were carried. But he took two shots at this unfortunate boy, and that is what I object to. There is one matter that has not ‘been dealt with, and that is the very serious question of the transferred State properties. It will be recollected that I fought this question pretty hard, and divided the Senate on the third reading of the Bill. In the other House the obnoxious clause was struck out, and now we find that there are millions of pounds worth of State properties, the transference of which forms the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. No provision is being made for the payment of the accruing interest, amounting to £300,000 a year. 3y the time that the properties have been transferred, the Commonwealth will owe an interest debt of at least £1,000,000 in connexion with their transfer, and that charge will have to be met in some way. Is it to be added to the debt obligation that is to be recognised by the Commonwealth to the ‘States, or is it to be paid in cash ? And if it is to be paid in cash, ought not provision to be made in the Government accounts for meeting this heavy demand when the amount is finally adjusted? Most distinctly I maintain that the Treasurer is neglecting a high duty of state innot making provision for that which must inevitably be required. I shall have a word or two to say of the condition into which a very important branch of the Commonwealth service has been allowed to drift, and that is the Defence Force. I have already indicated what my action will in all probability be in connexion with the naval agreement, but when I deal . with the land forces, I find a state of affairs of so undesirable a character existing that it is .my positive duty, -having knowledge of the facts, to put them before the Senate.
– We had a peculiar incident to-day in connexion with my question.
.- That is a matter which the honorable senator has in hand, and he will no doubt take whatever action he thinks proper.
– I shall follow it up.
– It is a matter that might perhaps be very well -followed up, but I am not going to refer to any order issued by any soldier in the service of the Commonwealth, no matter how highly placed. I shall deal solely with actions of the Ministers themselves, and particularly actions of the Executive Council. When the Government took over the defence forces of Australia the land forces numbered 28,886, and in the short space of two years they have dwindled by 6,351, closely approaching a fourth of the total number. There has been not only a deterioration in number, but a heavy deterioration in quality. I attribute this result solely to the reign of incapacity and muddle that has characterized, from first to last, the action of the Government. When we hear of the difficulty of raising colonial loans on the London market, we recognise the factthat the Australian States are going there from time to time for loans. I suppose the Commonwealth Government will have to go there for the same purpose before long, and go like a borrower who has not got a valid policy of insurance as collateral security. The collateral security I refer to is in this case a valid defence force. What man can borrow, or what institution or individual will lend, without there being a fire or marine policy, as the case may be, as collateral security in the event of fire or wreck ? The Government have been treating the question of Australian defence from first to last with a careless imbecility that is wholly discreditable to any gentlemen charged with the high duty of Ministerial office.
– Is the commandant free from blame ?
– I said that I would only discuss the acts of the Government. There are very good reasons, which I need not refer to, why I decline to utter anything that comes to me in an official way. I shall use no information that is not of the most publicly known character, and that is not connected with the action or inaction of the Government. As regards the distinguished soldier who is the head of the Defence Force, the Government went along this road of drift and drivel for a year before they had a military adviser of any kind. From answers given by the Acting Minister for Defence in the other House, in September last, it seems that the military commandant had not been sworn in. There was no Act under which to swear him, and he has not yet been sworn in, I presume. Nor, according to an answer given by Senator O’Connor in theSenate, on the 12th . July last, have the head-quarters staff been sworn in, because there is no Actto swearthem in under. How can you possibly have a valid military force, the chief members of which have never been attested ?
– Under what authority are they acting?
– They are really acting under civil authority. Certainly they have a uniform, but, so faras I know, no parchment commission has been issued to any officer of the Defence Force. Since the Ministry took office, all that has happened has been that the names of officers have been published in the Gazette as having been appointed or promoted.
– Is the General Officer Commanding acting under any Imperial authority?
– Under the Constitution : there cannot be any Imperial authority. He is acting, I presume, under the authority given to him by the GovernorGeneral in Council. In military and naval forces everybody has to be sworn in, but there has been no opportunity to swear in the General Officer Commanding and his staff. While we have had a Ministry in power for two and a-half years, they have not sworn in one soldier to serve the Commonwealth. They have only sworn in soldiers to serve the Commonwealth in the States. You cannot have a joint camp of the Victorian and New South Wales forces, say, at. Albury, unlessyou keep them carefully on each side of the river.
– You cannot do everything at once.
.- No. But it is not a desirable thing to be spending between £500,000 and £750,000 without having value for your money. The force is less to-day by practically one man out of every four that were in existence as Statetroops when the departments were taken over by the Commonwealth. Sofar as my knowledge goesthere do not existto-daymore than two men out of every four who were there at the time when the departments were taken over. The difference, of course, has been made up in this way ;that new men have been sworn in. We have, perhaps, equal to three in every four, but one of the three is a new man, and owing to the discouragement which has been notoriously given we find that stalwart men - men properly developed - in large numbers. Their places have been taken by youthful enthusiasts, who, however valuable the military training is to them, could not possibly be expected to stand the strain of active service with the same efficiency as men of more mature years
– They had boys at fourteen in the Boer army, and they were good shots, too.
-Col. NEILD. - It is absurd to quote a fact of that kind as an answer to my charge that not only have the numbers of the force been depreciated by practically one man out of every four - and it will be quite that by the end of next month, when a lot more dismissals will take place - but the very stamina of the men is of a less substantial character.
– They had to reduce the number on account of the vote being reduced.
– To some extent, but that does not account for it all by any means. Reduction applies more particularly to the permanent troops, than to the militia and the volunteers. I have all the figures in a return prepared by the Treasurer, but I shall not weary the Senate with the details. I shall take the broad facts.
– Can the honorable senator state the number of men in the defence forces in the States prior to the taking of the last referendum ?
– No; but when the military departments were transferred the forces numbered 28,886.
– The strength of the forces was swollen very much as soon as it was decided to federate.
– Like they put up the salaries of a number of the officers.
.- I am not discussing the question of the salaries, because I believe that applies particularly to South Australia. I understand that colonels were manufactured there at a rate which was positively alarming, and I know that one or two staff officers were advantaged in New South Wales. For instance a staff officer who will retire in a month or two was promoted, and his commission dated back five or seven years, in order to give him seniority and extra pay. I do not defend these things for an instant, whoever perpetrated them. I am naming a New South Wales case, and thus showing a perfect willingness to condemn in New South Wales what Senator Playford objects to in the case of his own State. Here is another matter connected with the Defence Force. We have heard so much about the simplification of uniforms that this will appeal, I have no doubt, to those who have been specially urgent in demanding a reduction of unnecessary expenditure. I have a copy of the Commonwealth Gazette of the 16th May, and if honorable senators wanted food for merriment they might turn over five entire pages, the first entry being -
His Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth, by and with the advice of the Executive Council thereof and the final entry -
Johnforrest, Minister of State for Defence.
What do honorable senators think that those entire five pages refer to? Nothing but military millinery. If I were to take up the time of the Senate by reading some extracts, I am sure there would be a certain amount of hilarity over the grave proposition of the Governor-General in Council after all this incubation by the Ministry putting forward the mass of detail here for a force that is a dwindling quantity, and a force that has been reduced in enthusiasmand efficiency as well asin number. I suppose that to-day it is generally understood that there is scarcely a known drill throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. The drill of the Imperial Army is not good enough for Australia, and we have to put up with some kind of cross between infantry and cavalry drill. Schools of instruction are held continually in the different States, in order to instruct the officers as to what is a proper drill for the Commonwealth. As in every one of these schools of instruction different orders are given and different drill is taught, they have done little more than cause “ confusion worse confounded.”
-Who is reponsible for that drill ?
.- The Minister for Defence ; who else ?
– Is not the Commandant responsible?
– The Commandant has made so many recommendations, and has been so severely “ sat upon “ for making them, that I dare say he is not responsible for nearly so much as is supposed. I am not criticising anything that is not an act of the Governor-General in Council. Here is another act of the Governor-General in Council to which I draw attention; and I should like, Mr. President, - perhaps you will forgive me for saying it - to have the keen attention of yourself at this point, because I am going to deal with a matter that is to my mind a serious inroad upon the rights and privileges of Parliament, and an absolute incursion upon the Constitution under which we exist. We have a Constitution that provides - I will not labour the matter by quoting the section - that members of the Defence Force of all ranks, so long as they are not fully paid professional soldiers, may sit in the Parliament, and we have no law in any part of the Commonwealth that limits the rights of members of the Defence Force to enjoy the full rights of private citizenship. Yet we have a regulation issued on the 27th February last that absolutely in express terms prohibits any member of the Defence Force of any rank from instituting a meeting for religious or political purposes.
– In uniform ?
.- No ; out of uniform. I will read the regulation, which was issued by the Governor-General in Council
Officers and soldiers ure forbidden to institute or, when in uniform, attend any meeting, demonstration, or procession’ for any religious or political purpose.
There are so many lawyers present that perhaps I may be venturesome in attempting to say what “ institute” means. But I hope that any lawyer who is present will correct me if I make a mistake.
– Are they not allowed to go to church on a Sunday ‘(
.- I will deal with that directly. To “ institute “ a meeting, in legal phraseology, means to commence, to initiate, to start, to begin.
– Surely such a regulation would be ultra vires.
– I have here a letter, three pages long, which I have written to the Prime- Minister on the subject. I propose to read some extracts from it, because this is a serious inroad upon the religious and political rights of every man who gives his services for the defence of the land of his birth. This is an -absolute embargo upon any member of the Commonwealth forces initiating a public meeting for any religious or political purpose. I said just now that the Commonwealth Constitution provides that members of the Commonwealth Defence Force can sit in this Parliament. It also provides in another section that, sitting here, they are to possess the “powers, privileges, and immunities” of the House of Commons. Now, sir, there is no such regulation, in England applying to either House of Parliament in respect of any officer or soldier belonging either to the militia or volunteer services. What happens ? Under this order I am advised by the highest legal talent I have been able to consult - I have talked the matter over with and submitted the regulation to more than one King’s Counsel - that my contention, addressed to the Prime Minister, is absolutely accurate, namely, that a member of the volunteer or militia services of the Commonwealth who sits in Parliament, or seeks a seat in Parliament, cannot, under this regulation, call a meeting of his constituents or those whom he desires to. be his constituents. I consider that this is an absolute inroad upon the .Constitution. I notice that the Postmaster-General smiles. What do I find in the Prime Minister’s reply? He does not dispute any proposition which I have laid down, but he says - and this is written by Sir Edmund Barton himself and signed by his own hand ; it is not a mere formality from an official -
I wish to point out that it is not proposed to apply to this, or any other regulation that may be issue:!, an altogether strained and unreasonable method of interpretation.
I do not say anything about a strained or unreasonable method of intrepretation I am only questioning the literal application of this order. We were told identically the same thing in this Chamber when wo were asked to give phenomenal powers to the Minister for Trade and Customs. We were told identically the same thing with reference to the Immigration Restriction Bill - that there was to be no harsh application of it. But we now have Ministers telling us that they are absolutely bound by the strict letter of the law. Perhaps they are. And that is what I object to - that this regulation may be literally interpreted t6 direct a Member of
Parliament, who is also a military officer, that he cannot call a meeting of .his own constituents. I say, further,- that this regulation has been broken every day. It was broken at the opening of Parliament. We then had a purely political meeting. What is a meeting of Parliament but a political meeting ? Yet on that day we had the General Officer Commanding and his staff officers, in uniform, present, and there were outside .a guard of honour and an escort in uniform. In fact, this is a regulation that cannot be enforced except some one in authority wants to get rid of some one. Then it will be used. And there is no appeal. It is not a regulation that can be decided in the law courts, because a member of the military service can be taken, put into a political bag, and dropped into a political Bosphorus without any appeal. -The regulation applies to members of State Parliaments as well as of the Commonwealth Parliament. I say that the highest officer who sits in any one of the Parliaments of Australia may have his commission cancelled at any moment without any right of appeal. There should surely be some protection to a man’s reputation, and he should not be liable to be thrown out into the street by a secret .accusation such as I have’ known during my experience. I know of a case that happened -in New South Wales, where a general officer, in defiance of the Queen’s regulations, made four surreptitious attempts to get an officer dismissed or placed on the retired list; but he did not succeed, owing to the fact that he had a stiff-backed Minister to deal with. That Minister is a member of the Commonwealth Government to-day. I again point out that there is no appeal from a decision under this regulation. No member of the Defence Force can bring an action at law to protect his commission or his military status, because, though he might commence such an action, he would be out of the service before a trial could take place. This is an ukase that deals with men who are absolutely helpless to protect themselves. I will take all the risk of giving publicity to the circumstances that led to the making of this regulation which I look upon. as so scandalous. His Eminence Cardinal Moran was returning from a visit to Europe, and on the day when he landed in Sydney the band of the Irish Rifles headed the procession which went to meet him. What was to be 8one was announced in the press by advertisement from day to day before the procession took place. It was announced that the band of , the 8th Regiment was to head the procession. Qf course, according to all military custom that I ever heard of, it would have been a proper thing for that action to be stopped, because the military are not supposed to mix themselves up with matters that are likely to bring them into collision with any part of the community. It is quite contrary to all military precedent for a military band in uniform to play in a political or religious demonstration. “This is so well .known that it need not be discussed further. But, instead of stopping the band from doing that which was contrary to military custom, the Government let them play at the head of the procession, and now they want to jump on every member of the military forces, from a private to a colonel, in respect of his civil and religious liberties. Under this regulation a military officer who was a churchwarden would not be able to call a meeting of his fellow churchwardens. I suppose that would be instituting a meeting for a religious purpose.
– That is a strained interpretation.
– I quite agree that -it is. Perhaps I am pushing the argument to a reductio ad absurdum ; but that is not altogether a new form of argument.
– It is a possibility.
– It is an absolute possibility. I do not know - if we are to pursue the reductio ad absurdum - whether a member of the Defence Force could even be married by religious process ! He would be instituting a meeting for a religious purpose ! I admit that that is a strained application of the regulation, and is not likely to occur. I do not suppose that any Minister would go so far. But why does the Ministry attempt to take to itself such powers as could be used in such a manner for such a purpose, just because a band played a little out of the ordinary? If the Government comply with the law as they should do, they will have to lay the regulation before Parliament, and then we can discuss it. In view of a possible discussion, I propose to read a few paragraphs from my letter to the Prime Minister in order that honorable senators may have an opportunity of looking over the propositions for themselves in the pages of Hansard. I wrote -
Under this extraordinary edict the military forces could not have taken part in the demonstration which inaugurated the Commonwealth, nor in the intercessary services during the King’s illness - because they are prohibited from attending a religious meeting in uniform - nor in the funeral service when the late Queen died. … I further submit that it is unconstitutional, inasmuch as the Commonwealth Constitution expressly guarantees to the.members of the military forces certain political rights, which are curtailed in a flagrant manner by this regulation.
And I submit that for any person to attempt to impose the restraint of this regulation upon, or attempt to use it to restrain the -statute right of any member of the military forces who sits or seeks to sit in the Federal Legislature, would constitute a most serious invasion of “the powers, privileges, and immunities “ of the Parliament, as defined by section 49 of the Constitution.
Indeed, I submit that it may even be argued that the promulgation of this regulation actually constitutes a contempt of the Parliament, inasmuch as it attempts to limit “ the powers, privileges, and immunities” of those members of the Legislature who are also officers oE the military forces.
Mo such regulation obtains in the United Kingdom. There no similar attempt has been made to trammel the civil and religious liberty of either the regular army, militia, or volunteers.
I think I am more than justified in bringing this matter forward, so that when it comes before the Senate again, as no doubt it will, honorable senators will not consider that a new subject has been sprung upon them.
– The honorable senator thinks it applies to what a man does privately as well as to what he does in a military capacity.
– The difficulty is that we have no interpretation clause to show what constitutes a “ meeting.” I am not lawyer enough to say what in law constitutes a meeting ; but I have enough knowledge of military affairs to know perfectly well that if it were desired to frame a change against any man it would be very easy to call a gathering of two or three people a “ meeting.”
– Does not the general context indicate that it relates to something done in a military capacity ?
– It stands distinctly by itself. It was issued separately, and there is nothing to guide one. Plainly, it means that under no circumstances is a man to initiate any meeting, nor is he to dream of attending a religious service in uniform. I. do not know whether he could even go to a funeral. But I will say that the military authorities are really not carrying out the regulation so far as it applies to themselves, because church parades have been held. What I take exception to is that a Ministry should seek, such extraordinary, such utterly unusual powers - powers which were .never before asked for in the British dominions. Why do they ask for them, and are we to have these powers granted .and exercised according to the strict letter of the law ? I am sure I am addressing some honorable senators, who, if they were in my position, would be able to deal much more effectively with the matter, and that I am also addressing honorable senators w.ho, if they were practicing in a court, would be able to make a most telling address on no better material than I am now submitting. Although I must thank the Senate for its consideration in listening to me while dealing at such length with this subject, I consider that I have simply done a public duty in bringing under notice a demand for an utterly unknown and unreasonable power to be exercised without any adequate cause.
– Does the honorable senator think that the sole reason for the regulation is that relating to the band incident 1
.- On this point ‘ I am only going by general repute. I cannot speak authoritatively as to that.
– The honorable senator will remember a certain meeting in Adelaide at which the troops attended.
-Col. NEILD. - I did not know of that. There may have been reasons other than the one I have stated, and, if so, I ‘am sorry if I have put a strained interpretation upon the matter. There is one other matter to which I desire to refer. Under a defence scheme which has been agreed to it is proposed by the Government to destroy the last remnant of ornate attractiveness associated with the military forces. There is in New South Wales an artillery band, which has been the pride of that State for many a year, and which, whether as a military or as a string band, is perhaps unequalled in any part of the British dominions outside the United Kingdom, lt has been notoriously a band upon which the whole community have centered a great deal of pride, and which in thousands of cases has rendered admirable aid to private as well as to public charities. Now it is to be dismissed. Although every bandsman is a trained soldier - is an artilleryman, and. understands how to work the guns - nearly all of them are to go, and there is to be a paltry section of a band of twelve members left. I do not know whether I am addressing gentlemen who have a wide knowledge of bands, and I do not* profess to have any specially profound knowledge of the subject myself. But this I do know, that you cannot . have a decent military band consisting of less than from 24 to 26 performers, because the proportion of instruments cannot properly be balanced when the number is less. You have a little “tootling” association instead of a wellbalanced and properly constituted military band.
– Is this due to retrenchment ?
.- Yes. To save the cost of twelve men this band is to be destroyed, and its destruction will be a great public loss. It plays in the public parks-
– If the Government have not the money, what are they to do 1
– I think there might be retrenchment in some other direction. I know of certain ways in which I could very well retrench, but those are matters of which I cannot Speak here. I know of them not as a public man, but officially, and, therefore, I will say nothing about them. If the Minister wants to know, and calls for my views, that of course will be another matter ; but I am not going to mention thom here. There is one other point to which I wish to allude. I am sure honorable senators will forgive me if I deal rather largely with examples from New South Wales, leaving other honorable senators to deal with those arising in other States. The first mounted band ever formed in Australia is connected with the New South Wales Lancers. That regiment is to be kept, to some extent, for administrative and escort and ceremonial purposes, and the men are to retain their lances as well as carry their rifles. The regiment furnishes escorts to Governors, and it is one which takes, .as no doubt every honorable senator knows, a very prominent part in ornate ceremonies. The band has been kept up at great cost by the officers of the regiment. I have some actual figures, obtained from a gentleman who is conversant with the ‘ subject, and I ‘find that the total cost to the Commonwealth of this band of 25 men has been, apart from their military pay, only £175 a year. That represents the cost of agistment and forage for 2 5 horses. For the sake of saving a miserable £175 the band is to go, thus taking the heart out of the mounted regiments, and taking away the little bit of “ frill,” to use a colloquialism, which pleases the men and pleases the public.
– The Government is a band of robbers.
.- I have not said that, and do not intend to say so.
– But the honorable senator is trying to prove it.
– I am not trying to prove it, but I think I am successfully showing that certain methods in connexion with the administration of the Defence forces have given a great deal of dissatisfaction in the State which I have the honour to assist in representing. The band to which I have just been referring has accumulated property at the cost of the officers of the’ regiment. There are band instruments and music. They have £200 worth of horseflesh, the horses costing £8 each - which is a very low price - and they have other property, totalling altogether between £600 and £700. The cost of maintaining this band of 25 men is £8 per man per annum. That is the ordinary pay which is granted to the militia. These men are trained soldiers. They do their drill and their musketry, and they are effective soldiers in every sense of the term. They are musicians into the bargain, but they have to go. Honorable senators may say - “ Why not keep them on .and allow some others to go ?” The answer is that if you have men in the band you cannot have them in the ranks, and if the total strength of a regiment is reduced to a certain number you cannot deplete it still further even to the extent of having 25 men doing duty as bandsmen.
– It would not do to have all band and no ranks.
.- Exactly. The pay which these men receive is the ordinary one, and it is to apply, I understand,, throughout the Commonwealth. The cost of forage and agistment amounts to £175 and the keeping up of instruments together with a small payment to the bandmaster totals £50 a year. That £50 is an allowance granted to all bands, so that the actual cost of maintaining this important band is £1 75 per annum. It is worse than a pity that the volunteer or very slightly paid service of Australia is to be rendered of so dull and unattractive a character, for as a matter of personal knowledge I can assert that if you take away all that is attractive, all that is ornate, and all that appeals to the eye and to the mind as being something above the dull grind of hard work, you will not get your ranks filled. You will not get men to join, and you will not be able to keep those whom you have. It is all very well to say that men ought not to join for the sake of anything that is attractive - that they ought to join simply for grim work. We know perfectly well that a man puts on a Sunday suit every Sunday, and his moleskins every Monday morning, and he does his “ graft,” as the phrase goes, in a different style of clothing to what he wears when holiday making. That which applies to men in private life, applies equally to the professional soldier, the volunteer, or the militia man. You cannot take away all that is pleasing to the eye, and still find them showing the enthusiasm which induces men in times of peace to do the hard unattractive work which fits them for the duties of military service.
– Honorable senators do not come here in pyjamas.
– Certainly not. I suppose no one, except a man who has a bit of a mental kink, would go about in clothes which he knows are unattractive to his fellow men. No one wants to be a peacock, but there is some satisfaction in knowing that the common decencies are observed. I think it is a lamentable thing that this process of tomahawking the feathers off the military bird is going on at such a pace. In juxtaposition to that we find a Government Gazette published, with five entire pages taken up with descriptions of brand’ new military millinery at the hands of the steady and grave members of the Executive Council, with the Governor-General presiding.
– Did not that come from the Commandant ?
– I have no idea where it came from. It is sufficient for me to deal with the Commonwealth Gazette with its five pages of millinery headed by the name of His Excellency the Governor-General and the Executive Council, and signed by the Minister for Defence.
– Is it not an offence for a soldier to come upon parade without full millitary uniform ?
– Then is it not necessary that these regulations should be published ?
– I only question the desirability of spending such an immense amount of enthusiasm upon trifling details of hooks and eyes, and collars, while the great work of building up the Defence Force is non-existent, because the Defence Force is dwindling rather than increasing. Certainly we must have regulations. “It would never do for men to turn up in what uniforms they pleased. We should have a rabble rather than an army if that were permitted. But I recognise that we are to have a piebald army since paragraph after paragraph in those five pages of millinery provide that one thing after another is to be bought as funds permit. That will mean that one man may be clothed in one colour and another in another ; that one man’s jacket will be cut in one way, and another’s in a different way, and if these regulations are to be carried out there will be a most beautiful piebald exhibition of troops on parade. It will be simply discreditable. Provision is made, for instance, that officers and nien- may wear scarlet uniforms, but officers appointed after this need not procure scarlet uniforms. We may find a company of men in scarlet led by an officer in khaki.
– He may not be able to afford all these gew-gaws.
– I am not arguing for the gew-gaws. I am merely stating what the regulation provides. I have to express my gratitude to honorable senators for the kindness with which they have borne a fairly long speech, in which there has been introduced that which is always unattractive, namely, a considerable amount of detail. In concluding my remarks, I express a hope that the business initiated during the present week may be carried on with the same gentlemanly, kindly, feelings which are so characteristic of the members of the Senate at all times* that the same high level of debate which was evinced almost invariably during the long, session which has passed may be sustained ; and that when the work, of this session comes to its- close those’ of us who have to seek ratification at the hands of the people may find as a result of the challenge that we shall all meet together again, to transact the public business of the country to which we seek to devote our services, and to which I believe every member of the Senate is most honorably and devotedly attached. ,
– I am sure that the speech in which His Excellency the Governor-General has set forth, the policy of his advisers is one which provides ample food for debate, and one which will provide us with ample work during the session before us.. With much conturned in that speech referring to the policy of the Government in the past I am in hearty accord. When we take all the circumstances into consideration the- Government are to be congratulated upon their successful administration. I recognise that there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction expressed in respect of many administrative acts- of the Government, and, as a reasonable man, I admit that there must be some cause for- this dissatisfaction. During my recent tour of the State from which I come, I met many who expressed a severe condemnation of various acts of. various heads of departments. Reasons for that dissatisfaction have been indicated by other speakers, but we must admit that many of the results of- the administration have justified acts which might, under other circumstances, be looked, upon as being worthy of condemnation.. “Viewing their administration as a whole, I. hope we may never have a worse set of Ministers than those who are in possession of the Government benches at the present time. With respect to- the policy which the Government have put before us, and first of all dealing, with the question of the High Court, of Judicature Bill, I may say that when that measure was introduced last session, I was prepared to oppose it, believing that its introduction was premature;, and that the time had. not arrived when we should be justified in plunging the Commonwealth into the expenditure- which the establishment of a High Court would involve. However, the developments of the past twelve months have convinced me- that unless we do establish the High; Court there will be grave danger to the smooth running of the federal machine. I can well believe that we shall very soon, have a number of varying decisions given in different States under the temporary measure passed last session, giving State courts federal jurisdiction. Those decisions will be pronouncements interpreting the Constitution, and because they vary- they will endanger the success of the Constitution which they are supposed.to interpret. It is for this reason that I am now prepared to support the- establishment of a High. Court of. Judicature. Reviewing all the- circumstances, I think a debt of gratitude is due to those- who in the Convention fought the battle for limiting the right of appeal to .the Privy Council. I. recognise the fact that they fought that battle in the interests of the Australian people. In my opinion we are to be congratulated _ upon the fact that when the High. Court is established, by putting, into practice the powers given us under the Constitution, we shall be able to almost entirely abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council. I personally would much rather have the administration of justice placed in the hands of an. Australian, body than in the hands of- an outside tribunal absolutely unacquainted with our circumstances. The question, is raised, whether three or five Judges should constitute the High. Court, and I think it is upon that question that the whole battle will be fought, as the necessity for the establishment of a High Court is now generally recognised. It will require all the oratorical powers of the Government to persuade Parliament that five Judges should be appointed at the outset. I,.at present, have an open mind upon the question,, and I shall listen with interest to the reasons which may be- advanced by legal members of the Senate in support of the- appointment of the larger or smaller number of Judges. With respect to the settlement of the- question of the capital site; I recognise that representatives of New South Wales have a right to ask that the rest of the Commonwealth shall keep faith with them in this matter. As a senator representing another State, I am prepared with the utmost expedition to carry out the contract entered into by the people of Australia with the people of New South Wales, and I shall assist the Government in any step which they may deem it advisable to take to’ bring, about a speedy settlement of this question. I may say, also, that I’ believe such steps may be taken without pledging the Commonwealth
I to any great expenditure. Perhaps a speedy settlement of the question of the site may result in a saving of money. We know that, as a result of the terrible drought experienced there, land in New South Wales is at present at bed-rock value. We are all of us optimistic- enough to believe that a period of recovery is before us; during which land values will rise, and if we have to resume land for the federal territory at a later period we shall have to do so at a higher price than that at which we could get the same land now. I now come to- a question which’, to- every Western Australian, in the first degree, and to every Australian in the second degree,, is of. prime importance.. That is the proposal for making. the> federation with Western! Australia a real, federation. I refer, of course, to the construction of the proposed railway from the east to- the west. Some honorable senators have said that they are inclined- to be keenly critical in dealing with this proposal. And seeing the state of our finances, I. admit that in taking that view they are doing no less than their duty. They would not be doing their duty if* they consented to the construction of this railway merely from a spirit of good fellowship; They have- a right to ask for, and they should be given good reasons why the railway should be constructed. They should be advised as to its probable cost, the probable revenue to be derived from its working, and its- utility to the Commonwealth as a whole-. I trust that, not so much as the consequence of what may be said on the- floor of this Chamber,, but as the consequence- of- what will be- said by the experts who have been commissioned to make inquiries, the proposal will be found to commend itself to honorable senators. I am sure that honorable senators will recognise the necessity of providing- for the efficient defence of every part of the Commonwealth, and’ of giving facilities of access to-, and communication with, every State in. the- Federations.. I am sure that members of- the- Senate will look at the question from these points of view, and if that is done we shall have- no> cause to complain. In this manner we may, I think, ask honorable senators to deal with us as Canada dealt with the provinces of the Dominion in a very similar case, so far as geographical position is concerned. When the- Dominion of Canada was formed the States were not connected by the most modern means of communication, and there very quickly sprang, up an. agitation for the construction of a railway. On the part of one of the provinces - British Columbia - it was made a condition of their joining the Dominion that the Canadian-Pacific railway should be constructed. I am sorry that Western Australian delegates to the Convention had not sufficient foresight or business conception, to make a similar condition for the entry of Western Australia into this Federation. In his book, Canada and the Canadians,. Goldwin Smith, who will be admitted to have an intimate knowledge of Canadian, questions, says -
To link together the widely severed members of the Confederation, two political and military railways were to be constructed by united efforts as federal works. The first was the Intercolonial, spanning the vast and irreclaimable wilderness which separates Halifax from Quebec. This has been constructed at a cost of 40,000,000 dollars., and is now being worked by the Government at an annual loss which is reckoned by an independent authority at 500;000 dollars. The CanadianPacific has also been constructed at a cost to the Dominion, in money, land grants, &c, of something like 100,000,000 dollars.
He- speaks of the- military value of these lines, and then he points out that its a commercial road the Intercolonial is a failure, for the simple reason that there is not, nor is there likely to be; any trade of the slightest importance between Canada and the maritime provinces. In order to link the distant States with those, as it were, in the commercial world, Canada . was prepared not only to construct a railway which was to be run at a loss, but to construct a railway which for the greater part of. its length was to be practically of no commercial importance, and whose commercial usefulness has not 3-et even been demonstrated. Goldwin Smith goes on to point out that even then it had a rival in the transcontinental railway of the United. States, which lessened . its commercial usefulness, and- made it impossible that it could ever be a great commercial success. He also points out that as a colonization achievement the railway has never been a success. His summing up of the whole- position is that they did right in constructing the railway ; that they fulfilled an obligation which was a contingency upon, federation,, and that without that railway federation would not have been a fact to the distant States in the Dominion.
– That was promised to the maritime provinces before federation took place.
– While Western Australia, through its delegates to the Convention, did not make the construction of this transcontinental railway the condition of its entering the Commonwealth, there was an overwhelming preponderance of opinion that the eastern States recognised the justice of our claim, and were prepared to construct a line. And if anything were needed to confirm that opinion, to a great extent it was the correspondence from the Premier of South Australia and the present Minister for Trade and Customs. From both these gentlemen we had letters written ostensibly in the name of the people of South Australia. These gentlemen, as Senator De Largie pointed out yesterday, held responsible positions, and to all intents and purposes must have been recognised by the people of their State as speaking in its name, and knowing that the consent of South Australia was necessary. Having got the promise of the men who were ruling the destinies of South Australia at the time that they would not object to the construction of the railway, we had every reason to assume that the Commonwealth would agree to its construction. Much has been said by way of interjection, rather than comment, that the railway can never be a success because the land along the route is worthless. I make bold to say, on the authority of those who have been over the land it traverses, that that is an entirely erroneous idea so far as it refers to Western Australia. For instance, in his report, Mr. Muir, who went over the line of route and made an examination lasting for some months, writes in these terms of the quality of the land : -
I was led to believe, prior to starting this/trip, that the country to be traversed consisted almost entirely of a desert, composed of sandhill’s ‘and spinifex flats. This impression proved, however, to be perfectly erroneous, unless a waterless tract of country, though well grassed and timbered, can be called a desert.
Interspersed through this forest are numerous flats covered with grass, as well as with saltbush and other fodder shrubs. The soil is of good quality, and the growth of grass and herbage luxuriant.
At about 200 miles, rolling downs of limestone formation are met with, covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, and occasionally a saltbush flat. This country is lightly timbered with myaporum, and presents a beautiful park-like appearance.
Close to the coast a narrow belt of mallee runs, and further inland small belts of myall and myaporum are met with. This country is also well grassed, and saltbush and other feed bushes are plentiful.
To the north, near the 31st parallel of latitude, the country is more open. In fact, from the South Australian border for 250 miles in a westerly direction, it is one large open plain of limestone formation, fairly well grassed throughout.
Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have seen in Australia, and, with water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for, it is admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end.
At the time of our visit this tract of country must have been at its driest, as the settlers at Eyre and Eucla informed me that it was the worst season they had experienced for the last twenty years. From our observations, it was quite evident that there had been a long dry spell, extending over fully twelve months I should think. Still the grass was sound and strong, growing for the most part to a height of 12 inches.
Judging from the growth of grass and other vegetation on this country, it is very evident that there must be good falls of rain over it at irregular intervals ; but the ground is so porous that the rain, as soon as it falls, percolates through the limestone.
– Has good land like that been taken up by pastoralists ?
– It is waterless.
– Any water supply must be of a subterranean character. The Government of Western Australia have never been in a position, or enterprising enough, to open up stock routes. At present they are boring for water. On the route of this very line, 60 miles from Eucla, a Government boring party struck very good stock water six months ago. Mr. Muir, the surveyor, goes on to say in his report, which was made to the Government of Western Australia about twelve months ago-
Apart from the facilities that would be afforded to railway construction, and the maintenance of the railway service when completed, b3r artesian water being struck on this waterless tract of country, it would be of incalculable profit to the State in another direction. At present there are millions of acres of splendid pastoral land lying idle in this portion of the State, solely because water has not been conserved. Once let it be known ‘that artesian water has been discovered, and what is now nothing better than a waste, would be transformed, in a very short space of time, into one of the most important ctock-raising centres of our State.
The construction works for the railway will be very light, and will be practically the laying down of a surface line for the whole length between Kalgoorlie and the border.
The engineers have submitted two estimates of the cost of constructing the line. One is contingent upon water being struck along the route, and the other is based on the assumption that water will not be struck, but will have to be carried from our abundant supply at Kalgoorlie. In the centre of that belt of 250 miles the engineers on their return journey struck a surface water supply containing some million gallons of water, showing that itwould be quite possible to obtain, by surface conservation, sufficient water for the purpose. Senator Playford shakes his head, but let me remind him that it was done along the route of the Kalgoorlie railway, and that up to the establishment of our great water scheme, that line was run entirely by water obtained by surface conservation. That country has a poorer rainfall than the country through which the transcontinental railway will pass.
– You cannot conserve water on top of loose limestone.
– It is a characteristic of all our inland country that immense granite outcrops occur. We met with granite outcrops over the greater portion of the surveyed line to Kalgoorlie. At the foot of a granite outcrop we were able to construct a dam, and not a drop of water was allowed to escape. The granite outcrop acted like a galvanized iron roof, and by this means a sufficient supply of water was obtained to run the railway service through 378 miles of what is called desert. I am not making any statements which are not borne out by the official reports of it party of experts who have gone over every mile of the route, and whose professional reputations depend upon the accuracy of their remarks. It is unlikely that they would make any statement that was inaccurate. It is assumed by the opponents of this project that the railway will only be used for the carriage of passengers and mails. But we have to recollect that the people of Western Australia, particularly on the gold-fields, will for many years draw their supplies of agricultural produce from other States, and that for a great number of years they will draw their supplies of beef and mutton from other States. We have not in our coastal districts any country which will for many years be useful for pastoral purposes. All the country is heavily timbered, and I do not need to point out that heavily timbered country, carrying a heavy undergrowth, is not suitable for the running of stock. A large portion of our supply of cattle from South Australia is droved down to Port Augusta, or until it strikes the line running up to Oodnadatta, carried by steamer to Fremantle, put in the trucks again, and taken a distance of 378 miles up to Kalgoorlie. The Victorian supply will come still by steamer. In 1901, when our population was much less than it is now, we imported from South Australia 5,544 cattle, 432 horses, and 13,109 sheep. The greater portion of the supply we get from South Australia comes from its northern districts. It is proved by our Engineer-in-Chief, who has made a comparison of the cost, that this traffic, instead of going by steamer as at present, would go over the transcontinental railway. In a report he says : -
The assumption that there would be a considerable traffic in cattle and sheep on this railway is based upon the fact that freight by rail for a bullock from Port Augusta to Adelaide (in full truckloads), would be about16s.6d., and the sea freight from there to Fremantle I am informed about £4, and the railage again from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie, Hil 3s.6d., making in all £6. as compared with which the cost per bullock (in full truck loads) at Western Australian railway rates, from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, would be about £3 4s.6d., showing a saving of £2 15s.6d. per bullock - equivalent, I believe, on the average, to about1d. per lb.
I think it is a mistake to assume that it is goods traffic which makes the railways of these States pay. The goods traffic of any railway only represents about 50 per cent. of the receipts. I have here the percentage of receipts of the two kinds of traffic, goods and passenger, and I find that in most of the eastern States the goods traffic brings in 50 per cent.of the receipts, and the passenger traffic accounts for the other 50 per cent. We have upon our eastern gold-fields a large population who are allied by blood with the people on this side of the continent, and who are continually travelling backwards and forwards. They now have to travel by steamer. A large number of people object to travelling by steamer for a variety of reasons. Our Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. O’Connor, has made an estimate as to freights and fares for passengers by the proposed railway, in comparison with steam-ship fares, based upon the fares usually charged in the various States. He tells us this - That from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide by the overland route the first-class fare would be £5 13s. 3d. By the present route, taking the train to Fremantle, and then steamer to the eastern States, the fare is £1018s. The second class fare by the railway would be £3 8s.; the present cost is £8 0s.10d. That is by taking the best lines of steamers - the P. andO., the Orient, or the German line. But he also makes a comparison with the ordinary coastal service. The fare from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide by the railway would be £5 13s. 3d., but by rail and sea route, using the coastal steamers, it is £7 14s. The second-class fare would be £38s., whereas by rail and sea route the cost of the journey is £4 19s.10d.
– In the one case you get meals on board, and in the other you do not.
– When a passenger is only three days on the train we can easily estimate what the cost of the meals would be. We have on our gold-fields nearly one-half of the present population of Western Australia. We have nearly 100,000 people on the eastern gold-fields, mostly adults. They are a class of people who travel a great deal, and they would, I am sure, prefer the overland route to the sea route even if the price were greater on the railway. The consequence is that a heavy passenger traffic is assured for the line. As I have pointed out, it is possible that a large goods traffic will also be assured. In regard to the goods traffic also we have to look to the quantity of food stuffs supplied to the gold-fields. To a large extent these supplies come from South Australia. The gold-fields are entirely dependent on outside supplies for food stuffs. Food stuffs were imported from South Australia alone, in the year 1901, in the following quantities : - Flour, 220,281 centals; oatmeal, 33,488 lbs ; pollard, 1,964 tons ; bran, 5,637 tons ; hay, 146 tons ; chaff, 529 tons. The greater portion of the agricultural products of South Australia supplied to the gold-fields come from Port Augusta to a point 70 or 80 miles south of Port Augusta, and there would be very little lost by bringing them to Adelaide. Then the only comparison you have to make is in regard to the freight from Adelaide to Fremantle by steamer, and then from Fremantle overland on our Western Australian railways. Mr O’Connor says he believes that the freight will be found greater by steamer and railway than would be the charge on the overland railway line. There is also the double handling of goods to be considered. So that we have to realize not only that the passenger traffic will be large, but also that there will be a considerable goods traffic. There is another point which I believe appeals to honorable senators very strongly, and that is the usefulness of the proposed line from the point of view of defence. We know that Major-General Bevan Edwards strongly recommended the building of the line. Major-General Hutton has also recommended the building of it, both in speeches in Western Australia and, I believe, by a minute to the Minister for Defence. I do not think that all the advantages would be in favour of Western Australia from the point of view of defence. For this reason - We have in Western Australia the largest proportion of adult population of any State in the Commonwealth. Our population between the ages of 21 and 45 - I am speaking of males only - was, at the end of 1901, 61,714 out of a total population of 194,890. That is, 3 1 per cent. of our total population are adult males between the ages of 21 and 45.
– And look at the sort of men they are too.
– They are the cream of Australian manhood - the very best class of men from the military point of view. Compared with the figures I have quoted, we find that in Victoria only173/4 per cent. of the population are between the ages stated, and I dare say that a similar average will be found in South Australia. In New South Wales the average is 18½ per cent. When we look at those figures we realize that South Australia, by consenting to the building of this railway, and the Commonwealth by building it, will give to the eastern States a great power of mobilizing its adult manhood and bringing into active use 60,000 men between the ages of 21 and 45 - the picked men of the Commonwealth. That is an important point to be remembered in connexion with defence. Western Australia is at the front door of the Commonwealth as regards both the European and Asiatic nations. We have two magnificent harbours - one created by the genius ofman, and one by nature - which are almost unequalled, if we leave Sydney harbour out of consideration.
– Do not forget Hobart.
– But Hobart is within striking distance of Australia and within a few hours’ sail of the eastern States, whereas in Western Australia we are a week’s steam from the eastern States. A foreign military commander would prefer to make a descent on Albany at once, and establish himself there, rather than go to Hobart or to any other point on the eastern side of the continent.
– Is it suggested that the whole cost of this undertaking should be borne by the Commonwealth as newnational expenditure ?
– I take it that it must be so, if the railway is to be a national undertaking, as we ask that it shall be. If it is to be a State undertaking, and the cost is to be treated as transferred expenditure, Western Australia and South Australia, as they would have to pay for it in an indirect manner, might as well construct the line themselves and have independent control of it.
– Might there not be a compromise 1
– If there is a proposal for a compromise I should like to heat it, but I see no reason for one. We have a right to ask for this as a national concern.
– It is not quite fair to Tasmania.
– Surely it is not a matter that wholly concerns Tasmania, when there .is half of the continent absolutely which, in case of war, is at the mercy of a foe and cut off from the rest of Australia.
– You have communication by sea.
– Of what use is that? A single cruiser in the Bight could cut off that communication entirely, and make it absolutely impossible for any communication to take place between the East and the West, or for any troops ‘to be sent, or for commerce to be carried on. As Senator Symon pointed out yesterday, it is not likely that we shall have a large fleet of our own, and when we have this new naval agreement brought into force and the British fleet in these waters is sent off to ohe China Seas to fight the battles of the Empire, one small foreign cruiser or gunboat could prey upon our commerce with the greatest ease. There is another point of view frsm which we must view this matter, and that is the acceleration of the mail service between the old country and the eastern States. By constructing this railway we might save three days between Fremantle and Melbourne.
– What is the rate of speed proposed ?
– I think it is 40 miles an hour. 0 z
– There is no such speed in Australia - not within 8 miles an hour.
– I know one line upon which the train travels 60 miles an hour for a portion of the journey - that is on the Melbourne and Adelaide line when crossing the desert. This proposed line will cross the desert for a considerable length of country where there will not be many stoppingplaces. Senator Styles is in the habit of travelling to Williamstown, and I suppose he thinks that the stations on this transcontinental line will be as close together as those on the line upon which he travels. It is a matter of importance to the eastern States to, if we can, accelerate by two days the mail service from Europe, and it is clear that we can save that time between Melbourne and Fremantle.
– The nearest route would beacross the continent to Port Darwin-.
– I am very anxious to know whether, if that line is completed on the land-grant system, the merchants of Australia will allow their mails to be taken over a semi-barbarian country, and through territory where in the winter the climate is of such a character as would interfere with the regular traffic and perhaps block the mails for weeks at a time. Again, if arrangements are to be entered into for a subsidy for mail boats, I see no reason why . we should pay a subsidy for taking the mails round the coasts when we could utilize this railway and save the subsidy from Fremantle to Adelaide. We could put that down as a debit.
– You will not get the mails carried any cheaper by building the railway.
– The handling of the mails at the various ports gives rise to delay, and the steam-ship authorities would look upon it as an advantage if they had to handle them only at Fremantle, instead of at four or five ports.
– It takes only halfanhour to put them on board.
– I am in a position to say that it takes a little more than that. Occasionally they have to wait for some time; at the honorable senator’s own front door at Largs Bay, for the arrival of the mails.
– There is no delay.
– A committee of experts is dealing with this matter, and we shall have their report presented to us. But what I would ask the Senate to say is, that if that report is at all favorable, they will support the Government to the extent of authorizing a flying survey between the points in order that we may have authentic information as to the cost of constructing the line. I think that is a reasonable request, but I recognise that we have no right to ask honorable senators to pledge themselves to the construction of the railway.
– What would a flying survey cost ‘(
– The actual cost of Muir’s survey was £1,0S3 for 700 miles.
– That was not a flying survey. The party simply rode across country on camels.
– The trip was undertaken in order to gain a knowledge of the water supply and general contour of thecountry. An engineering survey would be of course a little more costly.
– About£5,000 would do it.
– While I admit as a representative of Western Australia that we have no right to ask for more than that at the -present juncture, I think we are preferring a reasonable request when we say that if the report is at all favorable the Senate should support the making of a trial survey. In that way a great deal of assistance would be given to the Government. I pass on now to the Immigration Restriction < Act. A good deal has been said as to the way in which the Act has been administered, especially in regard to the immortal six hatters, and in dealing with this subject I should like again to quote from Goldwin Smith’s book. It is well to remember that Goldwin Smith is a free-trader of the Manchester school, and, therefore, is not likely to have any sympathy with the principle of closing the door to immigration. At page 51 of his book he says -
Canada, when the value of the connexion is ‘. under discussion, is always set down sis a place ; where any Englishman can find a home. A sudden change has come over the attitude of the occupants of the American continent on the subject of immigration. Till lately the portals were opened wide, and all the destitute of the earth were bidden to come in. Now the door is half shut, and there are a good many who would shut it altogether.
I have here a cutting from the Empire and Mail Newspaper of Canada, dated January 23, 1903, which sets forth that a man who brought in a person under contract was fined for doing so. Mr. Anderson, of
Sydney, was not fined, and yet we are told that the Government has done something which no other British Government would dare to do. Here we have the Government of Canada, a country which is attracting thousands of people, according to one honorable senator, proceeding against an employer for bringing in a mau under contract, and a fine being imposed. There is another country which attracts a fair proportion of people, the United States of America. There the Immigration Restriction Act prohibits the entry of labour under contract, but I have yet to learn that the credit of the United States is in any way injured by that legislation. Let me say also that the A:;t is enforced there. It is not a dead measure on the statute-book. In 1S97 1SS0 persons were deported at the expense of the steamship companies from the United States of America. Of that number 32S were under contract to perform labour in the States. In 1898 3,229 persons were excluded, 417 for being under contract to perform labour. In spite of all this I have yet to learn that the United States of America, is going down hill, that thestream of immigration has ceased there, that the credit of the country is injured or that she has been made a laughing-stock in the eyes of the Englishspeaking world. On the contrary, I think she is entitled to the respect of the Englishspeaking world, and that she gets it. As the United States of America as well as Canada find it necessary to have such legislation, and to enforce it, I think that the people of Australia, having the Immigration Restriction Act on the statute-book of the Commonwealth,* are not coins: to condemn the Government which enforces it, neither are they going to ask for its repeal. I believe there is a conspiracy on the part of certain people in the Commonwealth to bring the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act into contempt. In support, of my assertion I shall give one little illustration which came under my own notice. The Sultan of Johore recently visited Australia, and we had a how] of indignation throughout the press of the Eastern States, because, as it was said, he had been prevented by a Customs official from landing at Fremantle, and was told that he had to submit to an educational test. Great indignation was caused by the indignity which had been put upon this Prince. As a matter of fact, however, no Customs official in Fremantle ever spoke to the Sultan. What happened was this : That when the steamer was nearing Fremantle certain passengers spoke to him–
– Saloon passengers ?
– Yes, they were certainly not steerage passengers. They told him that when he reached Fremantle he would have to submit himself to an educational test. The officials on board advised him to the same effect. T shall quote now from a leading newspaper in Western Australia - the West Australian - which is not by any means a labour party’s paper. In its issue of 1st May last a column interview with the Sultan of Johore is given, and the reporter goes on to say of the Sultan -
He was amused at a slight contretemps which had occurred in the morning. Some reference had been made by a Customs official to the Immigration Restriction Act, and this remark seems to have unaccountably been misconstrued by the ship’s officers to the effect that a formula would have to be gone through before the Sultan could land. The matter had reached His Highness, and although indignant at first, he was highly amused over it when mentioned later in the clay.
That is the canard, and it shows the means which are being used in an endeavour to weaken the position of the Immigration Restriction Act in the opinions of the people of Australia.
– Was the Sultan of Johore a member of a coloured race ?
– Then why was he not subjected to the educational test ?
– Because, as a distinguished visitor, he did not come under paragraph (g) of section 3 of the Act. He did not come here to reside. The opponents of the principles of legislation of this kind have arrived at a pretty pass when they haveto descend to lies - because this was a lie - in order to bolster up a case against the administration of the Act. I think a good many of the statements made about the six hatters were on a par with those made in the newspapers of Melbourne and Sydney, relative to the Sultan of Johore. I am glad to see that the Government propose to bring forward a measure for the establishment of courts of conciliation and arbitration.I do not think the labour party will be found tumbling over one another to put that measure on the statute-book. The time has now arrived when, in the opinion of the great bulk of the people of
Australia, this measure is absolutely necessary, nor merely for the workers but for the employers. Recently the Chamber of Manufactures inVictoria received a slight setback at the hands of the Chamber of Manufactures in Western Australia. TheVictorian chamber approached the Western Australian institution with a view of getting it to oppose the introduction of this legislation, but the Chamber of Manufactures in Western Australia passed a resolution saying that they would take no action in the matter. Why ? Because experience there has shown that a conciliation and arbitration court is just as good for the employer as it is for the employed Provided you have a good Act, as we have in Australia, and a good man on the Bench–
– That is what we want, a good administrator.
SenatorPEARCE.- Yes. In such circumstances the court will be found to be a benefit to the whole community. We have to remember that in agreeing to a Conciliation and Arbitration Act the workers of the Commonwealth give away a considerable amount of their power. They give away many opportunities which they would otherwise enjoy of making increased wages. I believe that on many occasions the workers in Western Australia would have been in a position to take ad vantage of the situation had there been no such Act on the statute-book. They would have been able to obtain higher wages in many trades ; but the Act had bound us down for a term, and we had to accept the conditions. The moment was favorable for obtaining higher wages with the greatest ease, still the Arbitration Act prevented us from doing so. It will be seen, therefore, that the advantage of such legislation is not altogether on the side of the worker.. Those who come from Western Australia and who have had some experience of the working of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act there have been considerably amused by the criticism that has taken place in Melbourne in regard to this proposed legislation. Some time ago I read in one of the papers, a report of a speech made by Mr. F. T. Derham before the Chamber of Manufactures, relative to the working of legislation of this kind in New Zealand. He said it was ruining that country; that industries were declining there, and that capital was leaving the State. I wrote to the Right Honorable the Premier of New Zealand, Mr. Seddon, enclosing the newspaper cutting, and asking if there was any truth in the statement. In reply, I received a letter from Mr. E. Tregear, Secretary for Labour, intimating that the Premier had handed him my letter for acknowledgment and reply. After acknowledging the receipt of the cutting, Mr. Tregear went on to say -
Since. the passing of the Compulsory Arbitration Act (as it is nicknamed ) in 1894, the number of persons employed under the Factories Act has exactly doubled, rising from 25,000 in that year to 50,000 in 1901. The number of people in the pay of the Government has not increased perceptibly, but, if it had, the increasing population and the general prosperity of the colony would have justified the extension. There is no doubt that the working classes generally, not only the artisans, but the shop-employed and warehouse-employed people, have increased with the same ratio as those engaged in manufacture. There are not 17,000 out of employment, as Mr. Derham states ; if there are, they possess the faculty of concealment. Indeed, it is very difficult for me at times to get labour for the rural districts since the war took our young men away. It is said that on many farms the girls have to tackle outside work. Every year and -every election the determination of the people of Now Zealand to support the Act becomes more and more pronounced. Almost every year there has been an amendment Act drawing tighter the bands and closing the gaps. The Opposition has opposed every one of these amendments, to its own utter destruction. It is now only “ the shadow of a name.” What betterproof of value can you have than the opinion of those who have to live and work under such a law ?
Then in the Review qf Reviews I find these figures quoted concerning the trade of New Zealand. I give, of course, round numbers. I find that in 1891 the imports were valued at £6,000,000, and the exports at £9,000,000. In 1897, imports £8,000,000, exports £10,000,000; in 1902, imports £11,000,000, exports £13,000,000. I say that if arbitration has brought about that result in New Zealand, let us hope that it will have a similar result in Australia. Before I leave this subject I should like to say that in Western Australia some twelve months ago we had a notice of a reduction of wages published on our mining fields. Honorable senators know what the mining industry has done for Western Australia, and when I tell them that our mining camps are so well organized that if it had not been for the existence of the Arbitration Act in Western Australia we should have had a universal strike throughout the mining industries, it will be admitted that the result would have been to injure Western
Australia to an almost irreparable extent. A strike was averted, the wages were adjusted, and a scale of wages arranged which, though protested against in one or two places, was generally accepted by both parties, and all that was accomplished without the loss of a single day’s work to any man, or the loss of a single dividend to any shareholder.
– Could the men have been compelled if they had refused to work 1
– No, they could not, but they might have been fined.
– We could compel them iri this way : we could fine them. The union funds are liable ; then every individual member of a union is liable, and as no member can retire from a union without giving- three months’ notice, he has no opportunity of retiring in anticipation of an adverse award, and he may be prosecuted in the police courts of the State.
– The workers also have some sense of honour.
– As Senator De Largie says, the workers also have some sense of honour. In my experience of the operation of the Arbitration Act in Western Australia, I have never known a suggestion made that was interfered with or departed from.
– How many years has it been in force?
– It has been in force since 1S98. We have had a number of awards given, and some of our trades have been working under the Act since 1S99. Let me say that during that time we have not had a continuous period of prosperity. The enemies of this kind of legislalation will say that it is all very well while things are on the up-grade, and that the worker will accept the position so long as his wages are being continually raised. That, however, has not been the case in Western Australia, for, since the introduction of the Act, we have had times of depression and times when the labour market has been overstocked. Some of the decisions of the courts have not been considered favorable to the men. They have taken away privileges and pay, but on the whole the operation of the .Act has given general satisfaction. I should add that we have been extremely fortunate in the appointment to the Bench of Judge Burnside, a man of sound common sense, and one who recognises his great responsibility in holding in his hands practically the destinies of the industries of Western Australia.
– Can either party compel a reference to the court in Western Australia 1
– Yes, either party can compel a reference, and if during the currency of an award either party considers that conditions have so altered that it should not be enforced - if, for instance, the wages fixed are so high as to make it impossible for the employer, under the altered conditions, to pay them - he can ask for a review of the case and a re hearing. I wish now to refer to the action of the Government in adopting the recommendations of a select committee appointed by the Senate, and of which I was a member, to report upon the means of communication between the mainland and Tasmania. I am glad to find that the Government have adopted most of the recommendations of that committee. I recognise that Tasmania has a right to an increased mail service, and I hope that as Tasmania has received from the Commonwealth what we thought that State was entitled to in the way of increased facilities of communication, similar action will be te. ken to bring Western Australia into closer touch with the rest of the Commonwealth. Dealing with the question of the postal contract, and the section of the Postal Act requiring the employment of white crews upon subsidized mail steamers, it appears to me, that, judging by their utterances, some of our honorable friends would, if they had their way, not only repeal that section, but enact a section prohibiting the carriage of mails upon boats worked by white labour. From every point of view it must be to our advantage to do what little we can to encourage the employment of white crews on our coast. It is said that the principle of a white Australia does not extend beyond the shores of Australia, but surely marine employment is just as legitimate a source of employment for the Australian worker as employment upon shore ; and if ever our people are to take to that kind of employment, we must prevent the unfair competition of these coloured persons. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Neild foi1 bringing forward that military regulation. Its production has been one of the interesting incidents of the debate. We are to have the Defence Bill before us this session, and I can promise the Government that on the question of defence they shall have my uncompromising opposition to any measure for conscription, and to any measure which will introduce into Australia any military principle other than that of a citizen soldiery. I shall also be opposed to any proposal to contribute Australian money in the shape of a naval subsidy. I believe that we hold the moneys of the Commonwealth in trust for the people, and we have no right to give them away to another Parliament to spend as they wish. We are responsible for the expenditure of the Commonwealth, and while we ma)’ not get so efficient a system of defence - and on that point I am not convinced - I believe it is now time to lay down the principle that we must have thespending of our own money in our own way. In conclusion, I hope, with others, that during the session we may be able todo some practical work, and that much of the legislation foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s speech will find its way on to the statute book of Australia.
– As the Senate will not have very important duties to perform during the next few weeks, I hardly think it can be said that we arewasting time in continuing this discussion. I feel indebted to Senator Neild for hisbreezy address, in which he gave me someinformation on defence and other matters, although I think that his criticism against the Government was rather weak, and that he dwelt too long upon detail. I am certainly indebted to Senator Pearce for the very useful speech he delivered, and I have to thank him for the information which he gave upon the transcontinental railway proposal and the working of the Arbitration Act in Western Australia. We have not had much party feeling shown within the Chamber since we met, but we have had a little party strife and political speeches outside. I followed that criticism very closely, and it exhibited to me the very weak case which some of the Opposition members have against His Majesty’s Ministers. The more they prolonged their criticism and tried to make much out of nothing the weaker appeared to me to be their arguments in many particulars, and in one or two instances there were decided hits below the belt, which, I think, ought to be avoided. No man has a right to say that the Minister for Trade and Customs looks upon every importer as a scoundrel, and every manufacturer as an angel. There was a very uncalled for allusion by Mr. G. H. Reid to the conduct of the Government in reference to Senator O’Connor and the High Court. I should have thought that Mr. Reid ought to be the last man in Australia who would try to surround the formation of the High Court with any party strife, and make remarks which were quite uncalled for and quite unjustifiable.” I heard some of the free-trade speakers dwell at very great length, and with what they seemed to think was very cogent criticism, upon the failure of the Government to place upon the statutebook many of the important measures which were announced at the opening of this Parliament. But they quite forgot to tell the people of Hobart and the NorthW est Coast of Tasmania, and other people in meeting assembled, the reasons for that delay. The fact was that after the Tariff, which was called for from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, was placed upon the table it took us eleven months to -get rid of it. No matter what Government had been in power, the same thing must have happened. Yet I have listened for threequarters of an hour to Opposition membersdwelling upon the unwisdom and unstatesmanship of the Government in not passing the High Court Bill, Defence Bill, and numerous other measures. It was absolutely beyond the control of any Government to do in most instances other than what was done. Let me dwell for a few minutes upon the disappointment I feel at the justifiable criticisms I have heard against the results of the union. I happened to be in Queensland at the time when every public man and every man one met in the street had not a good word to say for Federal Ministers, and he certainly seemed to me to be. inclined to curse and damn the union. Yet when these men put into words their objection, from Ministers of the Crown downwards, any political baby could supply the answer in a sentence. I am glad to notice that all this dissatisfaction and irritation is passing away.
– It has passed away.
– I believe it has passed away, and I think’ we may congratulate ourselves that there has been less friction, less injustice, and less trouble than might have been expected when Ministers undertook the Herculean cask of starting the Commonwealth. But I regretted to notice in yesterday’s newspaper that the Premier of Queensland, for whom I have very great respect, is once more abusing Federal Ministers. I think it is a great mistake for that gentleman to keep on criticising Federal Ministers in an unjustifiable way without giving us the detail of their doings. Federal Ministers and State Ministers ought to work with the utmost cordiality and sympathy, and whatever they may feel, and whatever their followers may say, it will do no good, and only increase the friction if State Premiers begin to call names and criticise Federal Ministers in unbecoming language. Last session no honorable senator was more inclined than I was to take strong exception to the way in which the Customs Act was being administered. During the last week of the session I put on the business paper two questions as to whether the Minister ever intended to carry out section 265 of the Act. It was put in the measure for a purpose : it was intended by all of us that it should be administered, and that all these petty offences or abrogations of the law committed with no intention of defrauding the revenue should be dealt with by the Minister sitting in open chamber with the press and the public present. To each question I received a kind of put off answer showing me that he did not intend to take advantage of the section. When I returned to Hobart I wrote him a letter on the same subject, because I saw “that prosecutions were being continued, .and that a great deal of irritation was being aroused. I received from him rather a snubbing letter saying that when he had made up his mind to alter his administration he would let me know. From that day to this I have been more and more, inclined to think that the Minister, although he may be acting in a harsh and unconciliatory manner, is doing the right thing. He may be doing it in the wrong way, but his heart is in the right place. He is acting as trustee for the four million people in the Commonwealth. He is doing his best to collect every shilling of revenue, and I believe that he will administer the Act on tlie whole more justly, and collect more revenue in each State, than any State Treasurer eyer did. Is he not doing right in trying to obtain uniformity of ad ministration? Supposing he had done what many persons urged him to do, and what some of us thought that he might very fairly have done, dele-; gated his authority to the chief Customs officer in each State, you would at once have had a want of uniformity of administration. You would have had one collector fining an importer £5 for importing flannelette as cotton goods, and thereby saving 10 per cent., and another collector, who took a far more serious view of the question, fining a man under exactly similar circumstances £50.
– Different magistrates might do the same.
– I do not think that they would do the same in the sense in which I am speaking, because the whole essence of the charge, when you come to increase the fine, is whether there has been any intent to defraud the revenue. At all events, that is another criticism which the public have been hurling at the Minister’s head, and it appears to me that there is not much in it. They say why should we all be treated in the same manner whether the mistake was made innocently or whether it was made with intent to defraud. They are not treated in the same way. If a man simply makes a false or erroneous entry, and nothing further, he is charged under one section. But if a man makes a false entry with intent to defraud he is charged under a later section, and is liable to double the penalty. All these things have lately been pointed out by the Minister. I understand now that he does not believe in central control, and that when he gets his Customs Guide perfected and issued, and is satisfied that his officers know how he desires the Act to be administered, he will delegate more power than he has done to certain officers in the States. But I am inclined to think that it might be as well to appoint in each State a committee of experts, presided over by a skilful magistrate, to adjudicate on’ all these questions of breaches of the law. There is one criticism which I have not heard quite answered, and I think the Minister is rather to blame, and that is as to the great delay which in some cases has occurred in men getting their goods from the bond when a dispute has arisen. I cannot understand why there should be an hour’s delay. If a dispute arises as to the rate of duty, surely the Minister can either take the bond of the importer, with two substantial sureties, or he can take the cash, and let the goods go at once. Any reflecting person knows what it means to a trader to have a large shipment of summer goods to arrive 48 hours before any other shipment. To keep back any goods is simply frustrating and hindering trade. I think that all these delays ought to be avoided. I see that Senator Millen is not present. I should have liked him to hear my reply to the remarks he made about the selection of the federal capital site. It is perfectly true, as he said, that in the minds of the people of New South Wales there is rightly or wrongly a kind of suspicion that they may be deprived of the advantage of the provision in the Constitution which says that the federal capital shall be within the borders of that State. I can hardly conceive it possible that any Member of Parliament, or any elector who knows anything about the’ framing of the Constitution, can ever think for a moment that the capital can be outside the Mother State. It cannot be if we are to keep the legal bond, and I may say the moral bond - the very terms upon which the union was brought about.
– Who has ever striven to alter it ?
– I think Senator Millen must be right when he says that there is in the minds of thousands of electors of New South Wales a kind of distrust of this Parliament and a distrust of the people in other States, and that they believe that unless the capital site is selected soon injury may accrue to them, notwithstanding the written constitution in their favour. I do not think that is possible. I object to that argument being used in the smallest degree to divert us from the true path which we ought to pursue. The Constitution is an absolute compromise. Compromises are not always good ; sometimes they are good ; I venture to think that this compromise is a bad one. First I plead that we shall discuss as fully and exhaustively as we can the question whether we shall strike out the 100 mile limit, and give to the members of this Parliament the right to say if they like that Sydney and not some place in the country shall be the federal capital. Secondly I plead for a full discussion on the point as to whether it is wise to select the site now or to delay the selection.
I am strongly in favour of delaying it, and of the suggestion that 1 saw made some time ago in one of our morning journals, to the effect that after Parliamenthas sat for six years in Melbourne, it should sit for a similar term in Sydney. I, for one, think that we should take time to consider what we shall do with regard to the capital.
– That suggestion is contrary to the Constitution.
– I say that it is not.
SenatorDrake. - That is what they call repudiation by delay.
– What about those members of Parliament who come from distant States ?
– I do not see how those who come from distant States will be affected.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator see that it means making another home in Sydney.
– I do not see that. If you had the Parliament sitting in Sydney it would be in the very State in which the Constitution says it shall be. The Constitution says that until the seat of government is fixed, the Parliament shall sit in Melbourne, and all the criticism I have heard of delay and neglect on the part of Ministers in not bringing forward definite proposals for the establishment of the capital are absolutely baseless. How any man in New South Wales, whether he is in Parliament or out of it, can think that we can consider the question of the capital until we have passed the very Acts which are the foundation of our Commonwealth, I do not know. I think that Melbourne has to be considered, and if for six or twelve years the seat of government is in Melbourne and is established for all time in New South Wales, will any one say that Melbourne gets more out of the Constitution in this respect than she is entitled to? No one can say it ; and yet by the arguments used by some people it is being asserted. Some Members of Parliament seem to think that we sholl do well by settling the question of the locality of the capital once for all, with the intention of delaying the building, or proceeding slowly with it. Now, there are two grave objections to that course. The first is that I never heard of any man binding himself to a particular line without allowing reasonable time for consideration ; and I object altogether to fixing the capital and saying that you are going to postpone the building of it. The fixing of the capital would be a great mistake until we are ready to proceed with the building. Because every hour we live the world is changing. The Commonwealth is changing, ideas are changing, trade and settlement are changing ; and it would be a great mistake to select a site for the capital in 1903, and not to build until years after. The. second objection I have is that, however wisely you may talk about having a reasonable expenditure, the forces outside will not allow you to do anything of the kind. You have the unemployed in every city knocking at the door not only of your State Governments, butof your Federal Ministry. You have them going to bishops and other influential people begging for work, and urging for schemes of employment to be set in operation, as they have a right to do. Do you suppose that when you have the capital site fixed, and plans ready, there would not be immediately an agitation to start the building of the capital? Then our friends the labour members would say - “ Start it by day labour”; and a nice mess we should make of it, I think. We should not be able to build by sections, and in a leisurely manner, as some people imagine, but we should be pushed into spending money - because when money is to be spent Parliament is simply pushed and pushed until it carries out the work to a far greater extent than was at first intended. I shall read with great pleasure and interest what the commission have to say with regard to the capital site, but I cannot alter the opinion which I have formed. I hope that we shall not take up too much time this session in discussing the site, because we have far more important business to do - not more important in one way, as affecting the interests of Australia in the long run, but more pressing and urgent, and more ready to be dealt with now. With reference to the proposed naval agreement, I listened with considerable astonishment to the criticism of my honorable and learned friend Senator Symon.I cannot bring my mind to agree with one single ideawhich the honorable and learned senator expressed when he told us that he intended to oppose this agreement. It appears to rae to be the very thing that the Commonwealth wants. It carries out practically the ideas that suit our circumstances. I think that the Prime Minister is to be congratulated upon having initiated the agreement. If we regard the matter from the aspect of continuity of policy, we have the policy which we started with carried on. “We are to have better ships and more of them. It is true that we will have to pay a larger amount of money, but how any man can object to voting £200,000 for this purpose is a matter of mystery to me. The Imperial navy costs £35,000,000 per annum, and on a population basis the share of Australia is from three to three and a half millions per annum. If Great Britain were to ask us to pay ©ur full share, or even a quarter of it, I should think there was something in the argument that if we were to pay this enormous sum we ought to have some representation at the Admiralty. But seeing that we are only asked to pay £200,000 out of £35,000,000, I can only assume that Senator Symon, having no sounder argument whatever to bring forward, has brought forward a contention like this. We are getting value for our money 40 or 50 times over, and we should welcome the agreement in the most cordial manner, recognising the generosity with which the Imperial Governmnent has always treated us in this matter. To those honorable senators who want to see, as we all do, not so much a navy of our own established, but sailors of our own trained - to see our young men trained to be employed on board men-of-war and to undertake all the various offices on war vessels - this agreement opens the door to exactly what we want. Two ships of the spuadron are to be employed as training ships, others are to be manned by Australian and New Zealand crews, and commanded by Australian officers, and Australian rates of pay are to be adopted. What possible objection, then, can there be to the agreement? It is everything, we could desire. To the whole of Senator Symon’s criticism there is this one answer : that the sea is one, that trade is one, that the Empire is one, and that therefore the idea of talking about our ships, as apart from the British navy, is about the worst thing we could think about. A navy is required to protect our trade. What is the use of sending home our wool ships if we cannot get back the goods which are to pay for our produce ? What is the use of thinking that you. can divide the seas ? If you wish to break away from the Empire I can understand Senator Symon’s arguments being used against ratifying this admirable naval agreement, but that is impossible. We must either belong to the Empire or not. We must recognise that the British Empire would have no existence except for its enormous and magnificent trade upon the high seas. It is idle to talk, as some honorable senators have done, about the possibility of Australia being left undefended in time of war. It is idle to point out to the Defence Committee at- Home, or to the Admiral in charge of the Australian squadron, that we do not want the war vessels to go outside Australian waters, for fear that a privateer should pay us a visit. It is idle to think that the naval authorities will not take these things into account when they order the fleet out of Australian waters. With reference to finance, I believe that the wisest decision which the Parliament of the Commonwealth came to during our last session was that by which the House of Representatives absolutely rejected the Loan Bill of £500,000 introduced by the Treasurer. I think that Parliament did a most wise and statesmanlike act in that matter, and I congratulate the leader of the labour party in another place, who brought forward the motion which rejected that Bill, upon the wisdom of his act. I hope that it inaugurates a policy which we shall weigh well before we depart from it. In view of the criticisms in the Daily Mail by our old friend Mr. Wilson, that decision becomes of far more importance. We all know perfectly well that the credit of this Commonwealth was at very low ebb. Our debentures had fallen enormously in value. Although very much of Mr. Wilson’s criticisms are absolutely uncalled for and unjust, and although there is no earthly chance of repudiation, and we are in a thoroughly sound position, yet we all know that what he has pointed out about our extravagance, our log-rolling, and our reckless expenditure upon unproductive public works is just and true. I am more than pleased that at the very time when we were being criticised on account of our lavish loan expenditure the Federal Parliament determined to show that it would not- borrow for federal public works, and that such works as were urgently required should be constructed out of revenue. The very moment it was seen that the Loan Bill was going to be rejected, votes for works to the extent of £500,000 were cut down to a £250,000 I shall await with considerable interest to see how much money has actually been spent on new Customs houses and post-offices. I have no doubt that t-he actual sum will be less than £250,000.
– It will not be spent on many Customs houses. They were built before federation.
– When you insist upon works being constructed out of revenue it is wonderful how careful and prudent people are. Remembering that economic reform is in the air, I trust that this Parliament will long remain prudent and careful. It is our bounden duty, if we have any regard for the tone and wishes of the people who sent us here, to keep down our expenditure. In this connexion I am very pleased indeed to know that the Public Service Act, instead of costing £15,000 a year as was estimated, is only costing £8,000 or £9,000 a year. It will be recollected that I was not in love with that Act, and I ventured to say that the estimate of cost of its administration was lavish and extravagant. But if the measure is to be administered for some thousands of pounds per annum less, my criticism is, to a great extent, justified, and, at the same time, it shows that federal Ministers are just as desirous as we are of keeping down expenses. It is perfectly plain that the terms of employment set forth in that Act, which on the whole are generous, are attracting young men and women from every State. No less than 4,500 candidates submitted themselves for the public service examination. That examination, although it took a great deal of time, “had the condition attaching to it that those who passed were only available for employment if vacancies occurred within nine months. Those who are not employed within that time will have to be re-examined if they desire to enter the service. In my opinion, it would be well to make the period two years, and I think that the Minister for Home Affairs would be well advised in bringing in a measure to set that right. Now I come to the question of the High Court. I have heard many of the opponents of the Government blame them for the delay that has occurred in not introducing this measure earlier. I think the Government are to be congratulated. They have done very little harm - I do not think they have done any harm whatever - in not introducing the Bill before, whereas by this delay we have saved about £30,000.
I am very glad indeed, that we have saved that£30,000. I notice now that because of an accident which befell an unfortunate cabman who was knocked into a “cocked hat”- as the Japanese officers would say - by the electric wires of the Postal department or of the electric tramway in Sydney, some honorable senators have changed their minds, and imagine that the High Court is an immediate necessity. That matter involved only a paltry sum of £80, and it might well have been settled by arbitration or in the State courts. There can be no doubt that the High Court is an important part of our Constitution. It is to be the interpreter of the Constitution, and we must eventually have the best High Court it is possible to obtain. But when are we to establish it, and how are we to do it 1 We have not suffered much inconvenience in the past from the absence of a High Court, and it appears to me. that we ought to see whether we cannot go on saving - I will not say the whole £30,000 - but at all events £15,000 or £20,000 a year. There have been so few cases of importance to decide, that I think we might very well confer, federal jurisdiction upon the States’ courts, and at once appoint a High Court, consisting of a Judge from each of the States, to act as a Court of Appeal from them. There may be objections to this proposal, but I think it is worth considering. Do not let us dogmatise, and do not let us take it for granted that a High Court of five Judges must be appointed. Let us see whether we cannot devise a High Court, which every one will look to with confidence, while at the same time the Commonwealth is saved an enormous sum of money.
– Why should not the Supreme Courts of the States do the work ?
– I am suggesting that we should confer federal jurisdiction upon the Supreme Courts of the States, and that we should appoint one Judge from each State to form a Federal High Court of Appeal. There would always be the Privy Council behind that tribunal. Why I feel in a dilemma, is that while I am open to conviction at the present time, I am fairly certain that there is not sufficient work to justify the appointment of five Judges. On the other hand, if we have a High Court consisting of only three Judges,’we shall have a tribunal - I do not care who the members of it may be - that will not be equal in weight and experience and ability to the courts of New South Wales and Victoria. I do not want to compare man with man, or to enter into any personal matter. But it is rather against human nature to suppose that a court consisting of three of the leading barristers in the Commonwealth, taken fresh from the Bar, and having no judical experience, could be superior to, or inspire more confidence than would a court of six judges who had been not only leaders of the bar themselves, but had had ten, fifteen, or twenty years’ experience on the benches of the States’ courts. While I shrink on the one hand from appointing five Judges, on the ground that the expense would not be warranted, I shrink on the other hand from appointing a High Court of only three Judges, which would not command the respect of men of experience who know what the High Court should be. It is for these reasons that I fall back on what honorable senators may call a make-shift court. It may be a make-shift court, but let us see whether by means of a temporary court we cannot secure a better tribunal for federal matters than by the appointment of a High Court of three Judges. I am at present opposed to the proposal, although open to conviction on the question of whether there should be five or three Judges. What might induce me to vote for five Judges, if we were to have that number, is the consideration that we could then combine with the work of the High Court duties which I think we have foolishly relegated to the Inter-State Commission. I do not think there will be very much of that work to do, but if the High Court could deal with it there might be some excuse for appointing five Judges. Perhaps, however, the Constitution would forbid the relegation of that work to the High Court. I have always opposed the Inter-State Commission, and I do so now. If you have three or four of the best experts to settle questions of differential rates, without any judicial experience to guide them, it is far better that they should go before the High Court, and that the Court, with its judicial knowledge and on the evidence of the experts, should decide the questions at issue. I think the provision for an Inter-State Commission is an absolute blot upon the Constitution. It involves a totally unnecessary expense, which we might avoid if the States which are now fighting about preferential and deferential rates would agree to submit the matters to arbitration.
-Then the honorable and learned senator believes in arbitration?
– I believe in everything that is good, within certain limits. I come now to the question of the transcontinental railway. I hope my honorable friend, Senator Pearce, and his brother senators from Western Australia, will not think that I fail to sympathize with them in their aspirations, and I trust they will bear with me while I give the Senate the benefit of the little experience I have had in public life in regard to matters of this kind. My experience is that whenever you have a rich Parliament and plenty of money to go and come upon, and whenever you want a public work in which a great many people are interested, you will gain your end if you only keep at it long enough, if you only talk loud enough, and if you only come armed with a sufficient array of facts and figures, whether relative to the subject or not. I take it that those who come from the States Parliaments, and who are conscious of the enormous sum of loan moneys which we have put into unproductive works - I believe many of them were known to be unproductive when we persuaded ourselves that they would be productive - will be traitors to the electors unless they judge this proposal absolutely and entirely on its own merits.We must guard ourselves against going in for an enormous . loan expenditure, unless we can see great indirect advantages to begin with, and advantages which give promise that the railway will be able, at no distant date, to pay pretty well the interest - I do not say the whole interest - on the cost of construction. I admit that there are indirect advantages to be gained from the construction of such a line, but in the States we have traded on these indirect advantages until some of the nonpaying lines in Victoria and Tasmania are really, to my own knowledge, a disgrace to our statesmanship. I do not know that the strength or the weakness of Senator Pearce’s case has yet been proved. It is not yet known, but when you have a weak case for the construction of a railway the first thing you do is so say to the Government - “ We shall be content with a flying survey.” You get the necessary vote passed, and thus secure one very important step towards the construction of the line. A flying survey is made. Then you are told that you cannot get estimates of construction, that the plans cannot be laid on the table of the House without another survey, and finally the flying survey becomes something in the nature of an engineering one.
– The honorable and learned senator is very suspicious.
– I am not. I am not at all hostile, but I am bound to give the Senate my experience, and I say that I shall judge every fact and figure brought before me in the light of that experience.
– The honorable and learned senator is throwing cold water on the project.
– That remark illustrates what I have already said. Any one who professes to criticise a proposal, who yearns for knowledge, and wants to know more about the whole subject, is simply sneered and laughed at.While Senator Pearce was speaking I asked him what I thought was a very pertinent question, and he gave me a very straight answer. This railway will be a very costly affair - it will involve an expenditure of five or six million pounds - and the question I put to Senator Pearce was whether the cost was to be “new” or federal expenditure, to be borne by the States of the Commonwealth on the population basis, or was it to be entirely a State affair. I do not think it should be a State affair, but I wish to know whether there is going to be a kind of compromise, in which the two States most interested will pay more than their share, the Commonwealth making up the balance, when that share has been arrived at by means as fair as we can obtain. It appears to me that Western Australia, if it wishes to be absolutely fair and just, is bound at the very beginning to offer to pay more than its simple share in proportion to its population. The railway, if constructed, will run through an enormous part of that State’s territory. It will open up - I shall not say a desert, because Senator Pearce tells me there is good grass land along the line of route - what is really an unexplored, uninhabited country. If the Government of that State got their country opened up in that way, they could afford to pay more than their share on a population basis. Indeed, if they were to pay only their proportion per head of the population they would make an enormous gain that would be unfair to the rest of the Commonwealth - certainly unfair to the little ocean State which I represent. Before we vote the money, I think it would be much better for Western Australia and South Australia to pass a vote for an absolute trial test to determine whether water can be obtained along the route. If water cannot be obtained - if we cannot have dams and artesian wells along the route - a considerable damper will be put upon the whole scheme. But I hope that water will be found, and that that difficulty will be removed. Coming to the Courts pf Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I find myself face to face with the whole industrial problem. I do not think any one can approach a problem of that sort unless he is a man of broad sympathies - a man who understands something about humanity and its wants - and is prepared to look at every question from every side, and particularly from the standpoint of the worker, if you put the worker as the weaker man. It seems to me to be absolutely essential to the industrial life of the Commonwealth that our workers, mentally, physically, and industrially, should be put in the best possible position. But when you reach a point at which you are going to violate the teachings of history, when you are going to act contrary to all human nature, every friend of the working man should speak out and say - “ No ; you can go so far but no further if you want to bring about prosperity in the place in which you live.” It is useless to try and gull the working man into the belief that the tail is going to wag the dog. The brains are in the forefront of the animal, and not in the tail. We have had some experiences lately in all parts of the world - and not very far from the place in which I now speak - that show that all of us would do well to recollect the principle on which capital is invested - the principle on which confidence can be restored and retained, and the principle on which even a democratic Government must be carried on. That principle is that there must be absolute faithfulness on the part of the employes to the Government who employ and pay them.. It appears to me that any measure is worth passing that is likely to do justice, and give to some extent reasonable promise of putting an end to the disastrous disputes which do so much to injure our prosperity. I was particularly pleased with the account which Senator Pearce gave us of the working of the Arbitration Act in Western Australia. The working of the Act in .New Zealand is not quite so satisfactory. Here, perhaps, I am treading on debatable ground ; but I would remind my honorable friends in the labour corner of Premier Seddon’s criticism and irritation. He said that the Arbitration Act of New Zealand was being availed of for settlement of the most petty disputes - I do not know whether he was referring to the employers or the employes, or to both - and that if a stop was not put to this practice he would have to introduce legislation to put an end to it. Here we have the Premier of New Zealand, a fully-fledged democrat, I suppose, saying that the Arbitration Act in that colony is being used as a means for the settlement of matters of a most trivial description, which ought never to be brought before such a court. So that there is now an agitation going on in New Zealand, which has absolutely been aroused and created by the Arbitration Act itself, because men take advantage of it to come before the courts with every grievance. It must bo recollected all the time that they are trying in some way to dictate to their employers as to how the industry in which they are engaged shall be carried on.
– Is not a case before the court every day better than an industrial, war for a week?
– I am only reminding honorable senators that Premier Seddon has said that the arbitration court is being abused in this direction, and that matters have now got to such a pass that if the practice is not stopped he will introduce legislation to stop it. There is in New Zealand an arbitration court to settle all disputes, and, as a result, either the men or the employers are making and creating disputes.
– Did Premier Seddon say he would abolish the courts 1
– No, he said he would in some way define the disputes which might be brought before them. Let us have some more evidence from New Zealand, given, I. think, by a gentleman named Wright, to whom Senator Pearce has referred. He says that ever since the establishment of the arbitration courts in New Zealand, that colony has been prospering and has been on the up-grade, and, therefore, most of the applications to the court have been applications for the raising of wages, the shortening of hours, and the granting o£ privileges. Mr. Wright points out that any arbitration court will be more or less of a success in any country in the world in which the conditions are prosperous, but he says also that, when New Zealand is on the down grade - as she certainly will be, for all countries have their ups and downs - and there occur times of depression, it remains to be seen whether compulsory arbitration will ever be availed of by either men or employers. I am going to give an illustration of action taken by employers. The other day we read that upholsterers in New Zealand were awarded ls. 3d. an hour, a rate which increased the cost of furniture by from 15 per cent, to 22£ per. cent. When the award was given the employers said they could not pay those wages, and they told the men that if they did not go, under the Act, to the officer ap. pointed and get a certificate that they were worth only so much less, they would shut their doors. The men were not going to be “ choused” out of the award which had been given in their favour, and they said to the employers, “No, we shall not yet a certificate, and we want you to carry out the award.” The reply of the employers was - “ No, we shall shut our doors “ ; and shut their doors they did, with the result that it is said that 100 men - though I believe the number was only some 50’ or 60 - have been thrown out of 1 employment. There is a case in which the employers took up the position to which I was alluding a few minutes ago, and said - “ We, as the employers, who risk our capital, put up our buildings, and have the whole financial responsibility upon our shoulders, will not allow our men, or any court in the world, to dictate to us the terms upon which we shall carry on our business.” The moment the court fixed a wage which did not suit them they shut their doors. That is bad for all parties ; but do honorable senators suppose that it is not worse for the unfortunate men 1 Of course, it was far worse for the men who were shut out than for the employers who shut their doors. Referring again to this question, and I get my information from different papers, I read of a meeting held in Wellington by socialists and union men, who were very much annoyed because the arbitration court dared to fix the lowest wage in their employment at ls. 6d. an hour. Because the court dared to do that this meeting of socialists and unionists carried a resolution - unanimously, I suppose - “ that the court of arbitration is unworthy of confidence, and we cannot advise any other country to adopt such a court.” If that is true it is certainly a very grave matter. Here are workers and union men who, because of a decision giving them fair wages, but not the enormous wages they asked for - raising the price of furniture by 22 per cent. - set to work to decry a court which, according to our friends opposite,makes for happiness and peace, and they absolutely publish to the world the statement that this arbitration court is unworthy of confidence.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator think that it is unwise to adopt the most extreme opinion on either side?
– I quite admit that it is, but I think that some of my honorable friends do not see the gravity of their position. What would be said of our Supreme Court if a certain class of litigants every time they did not get a verdict in their favour, held a mass meeting, and declared by resolution that the Supreme Court of Victoria or of Tasmania is unworthy of the confidence of the people ? Do not my honorable friends see that if this sort of thing goes on no arbitration court will retain the confidence of either one party or the other. We must uphold the dignity, honour, and justice of our court. The whole structure will tumble about our ears if every time an adverse decision is given the men against whom it is given begin to accuse the Judges of unworthy conduct.
– In what trade did that occur ?
– I think it was in connexion with the carpenter’s trade.
– That is a solitary instance, and the courts have given numbers of decisions both ways.
– There has been conciliation and arbitration in England since 1896 without any compulsion, and in the United States of America, with its 80 millions of people and its up-to-date methods in every direction, they have not thought fit to adopt this principle, while the trades unions of England have, by a large majority, voted against it. The subject is a very complex one, but I have quite an open mind upon it, and I shall be glad to hear anything that Senator Pearce can tell me about the admirable New Zealand court.
I believe the court in New South Wales is doing fairly good work, and has to some extent obtained the confidence of those who have had occasion to go before it. All I plead for is’ caution and prudence in passing such a measure. It appears to me that we have so much work in front of us that we shall be likely to pass a better Act if we delay dealing with the matter until the next Parliament, so that we may in the meantime have a little more experience of the New Zealand Act, that we may know what its defects really are, and that we may have the benefit of- a larger measure of the experience which is coming in so fast from the court in New South Wales. In referring to the question of preferential trade, I get upon very debatable ground, but I do not think we shall be doing good service by passing over the question lightly and saying that it is not for argument now, or that we should wait until a scheme is brought forward before discussing it. It appears to me to be the one question, above all others, of most momentous importance, as it affects the whole prosperity of the Empire. It is a question upon which, in ‘my opinion, we cannot have too much discussion. Until we have hours, weeks, months, and years of discussion upon it I do not know how any scheme is to be formulated. I believe we should have some discussion, and that we should try whether we cannot suggest some scheme. My honorable and learned friend, Senator Symon, was, in my opinion, quite off the rails when he talked of Mr. Chamberlain starting this idea as an electioneering cry. Mr. Chamberlain started the idea years ago. Honorable senators will recollect also that only a few months ago, the colonial Premiers met Mr. Chamberlain in London, and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth came back pledged to introduce not a specific Bill, but some form of preference which was left Undefined.
– To consider the matter, I think.
– Yes, to consider the matter. Mr. Chamberlain having had the benefit of the views of the statesmen who came before him from different parts of the Empire, thought out their ideas and his own and has now made a most important announcement upon the subject in England. The best thing the Commonwealth can do is to consider most seriously the suggestion which he has made. If we are going to allow ourselves to be steeped in the dogma and doctrinaire opinions of 50 years ago we shall probably do as Senator Symon has done and pass the question by as impracticable and hopeless. I am going to do nothing of the kind. However good free-trade may be in the abstract, however well it may have served old England, and however sound its principles may be at bottom, it is a question whether the abstract theories of free-trade can be applied to meet all the adverse conditions with which the ingenuity of all the nations of the world can surround the mother country.
– Why did the honorable and learned senator try to apply them to Australia?
– The cases are quite different. I take it to be one of the great features of free-trade that it stands for antagonism to all monopoly in trade and commerce. We shall find that some men who have written thoughtfully refer to the United States of America as one of the greatest free-trade countries of the world. If for the moment we leave out of the calculation its high protective Tariff, and consider the States with their 80,000,000 of people, we shall find that they include the largest free-trade area in the world. It was looking at the enormous prosperity of the United States, with its free-trade within and its protection without, which made me such a warm advocate for the federal union of the colonies of Australia. I saw at once that if we could get free-trade throughout Australia by knocking down those terrible fiscal barriers, which ought never to have been raised, we should obtain for ourselves an enormous prosperity, and if we were to have, as we are having, a policy of protection against the outside world, I felt that we should still have an enormous amount of free-trade within to give us a start. With the enormous amount of free-trade within the United States, with the best soil almost that the globe knows of, with almost every kind of climate and production, combined, if honorable senators like, with their protective Tariff against the world, the people of that country have been able to progress at such a rate as the world has never previously seen the like of. Their operations have enabled many of the citizens of the United States to acquire gigantic fortunes, of which few of us can form any idea. But the operation of the two policies of free-trade within and protection against outsiders has led to the establishment of rings, combines, and trusts, which, as a free-trader, I am bound to say are opposed to all the principles of free-trade. We cannot discuss this matter without recollecting that these trusts and combines must either be fought or knuckled down to, and we have to consider the best way in which to deal with the matter. The Dominion of Canada has commenced by giving a preference to English goods of one-third of the duty, and the Times, in reference to that, says -
Canada’s action is a step towards Imperial cooperation and unity which will be generally lauded throughout the Empire.
I desire to state here the question I asked Senator Symon, and that is, “ Can you have a federated empire unless you have some system of federated trade.” My answer to that’ question is, no. If you do not unite in some way the trade of the Empire you sow the first seeds of disintegration in the Empire. In this connexion let us look at the position of Canada. It is now refusing to take any part in the suggested scheme of naval defence. Why? Great Britain is now taking off the small registration duty on wheat, and Canada thinks that that remission ought not to take place, and that the contribution to the navy for which it is asked would under the circumstances be money thrown away. The Canadians may be right or they may be wrong ; but here, I submit, is a beginning of things which, if carried to a logical conclusion, may end in the Empire breaking up, or it may end in our never uniting or trying to consolidate the trade of the Empire.
– That is not Canada’s reason.
– Canada refused to contribute before. I believe that it would . have changed its mind, but it is persisting in its refusal on account of the fiscal question.
– That is only an added reason to its objection to the naval subsidy.
– It is a very significant added reason, and if they admit that it is an added reason it still backs up the argument that it is the beginning of a state of things which I should like to put a stop to if I could. I desire in some way to unite the Empire by uniting its- trade. I wish to see a bond of union between the
Empire and the colonies in regard to trade. As regards Mr. Chamberlain’s ideas on the subject, as long ago as 1900, he used these words : -
An imperial Zollverein with free-trade within and duties against outsiders is the only fiscal arrangement likely to be viewed with the slightest favour by Great Britain.
Here at once is a policy to which freetraders or revenue tariffists surely can look forward. If we do not have absolute freetrade we may approach as near to that policy as we can get. We can have revenue duties between all parts of the Empire with higher revenue duties, or if you like protective duties against the outside world. Supposing that a 5 per cent, duty is imposed on all food supplies which go into Great Britain from the outside world, apart from Australia - I do not know that it would raise the price of food very materially - and supposing that in return we gave a 5 per cent, preference to the goods and manufactures of the old land, there is a start. I do -not profess to know where it will land us, but it appears to me that it is better to try to do something to counteract the attacks which are being made on our trade, than to sit idly by and say - “No. Freetrade covers the whole of the ground, and we intend to do nothing.”
– I wish the honorable and learned senator had thought like that last session.
– I am not talking about free-trade in the abstract, but about applying free-trade to the conditions which exist in the nations around us. On the one hand, there is America trying in every possible way to grasp the trade of the old country. She has got some of our iron and steel trade, and she is taking away some of our cotton and woollen trade. On the other hand, there is Germany trying to take away our trade. Although old England’s trade is increasing, and although old England is progressing, still at the same time she is not progressing at the same rate as are Germany and America. When these nations are by almost unfair means trying to wrest our trade from us, are we to have no policy of retaliation ? If America cannot obtain our trade by the imposition of a duty, what does she do? She subsidizes her own ships. She says that 10 per cent, more duty shall be levied on all goods which arrive in foreign bottoms.
What does Germany do ? If she cannot, by a high protective Tariff, shut out our goods and get entrance of her goods into our free-trade markets, even if she finds that she is undersold in our free-trade markets, what does she do 1 She gives a bounty to her sugar producers. I am not prepared to say what redress we can get, or what retaliation we can have ; but I think it is very foolish to say that we can do nothing, and decline to discuss the matter. If men like Mr. Chamberlain and a hundred writers on this subject think that we ought to try to make the trade of our Empire one, to be more self-contained, more selfsupporting, I am not going to be frightened out of considering the project, because a 5 per cent, duty, or a 7£ per cent, duty, is said by our. free-trade friends to be protection. Let it be called protection. We have been told by political economists for ages past that protection is a very good thing under certain conditions, and I do not suppose that any free-trader will deny that. It is a very good thing to start a young industry, but it is a very complex thing to know where protection should begin and where it should end - “Victoria has found out that it can never end- or what amount of duty you should put on. All these questions are complex, and because they are so complex they need the greater discussion. I desire to refer to a section in the Post and Telegraph Act, which is, I think, very embarrassing to the Commonwealth. For some time past I have been wondering that the authorities in England have not objected to the provision. It is a most mischievous one. It cannot do the slightest good to Australian seamen. In England there is a scarcity of seamen ; there are not enough sailors to man our ships j and in time of war when stokers are urgently required, these 30,000 lascars may be of the most infinite advantage to the British navy and British people. This provision in our law is really embarrassing the British Government. Why should we not bear in mind that these lascars are our fellow subjects ? They own the sway of the union jack ; they are under the crown of Great Britain. Considering that we do no good to our workmen by this legislation, why should we slap these unfortunate men in the face, embarrass Mr. Chamberlain, and try to enforce legislation which people at the other end of the world will not have. The Postmaster-General, in obedience to the law, is trying to get other steam-ship companies to tender for the conveyance of his mails. I do not believe that there is a single steamship company at the other end of the world which will tender on the same terms as the P. and 0. and Orient Companies. I do not believe that there is a single steam-ship company other than the two I name which could carry the mails between Great Britain and the Commonwealth. I think it would be a makeshift to try to get the mails brought to Colombo, and then run down to the Commonwealth on a steamer which did not carry a black cook or a black stoker. If this legislation embarrasses old England, why can it not be repealed? It is not as if it deprived 30,000 or 30 men in Australia of a job. It does nothing of the kind. I hope that steps will be taken this session to repeal the provision, which is nothing but an embarrassment and a mischief. I join with my honorable friends in hoping that the session will not be too long, that we shall return in good time to meet our electors, and that whatever the work of the session may be it will be well done, and that so far as regards justice and common sense- we need not be ashamed of our legislation.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland).- In contributing my quota to this debate I feel impelled to mention a remarkable thing that attracted my attention. In their criticisms the mover and the seconder of the address in reply absolutely destroyed the Government and its policy, past and present, while on the other hand the criticism that was offered by the leader of the Opposition and the lesser luminaries that sit behind him, rehabilitated the Government. The debate on the Address in Reply is always very useful in that it gives the Government and members an idea of how the Country receives the administration of affairs ; whether it is viewed with satisfaction or dissatisfaction. In this respect this debate so far has been very interesting and very instructive. I have a clear recollection that from the prorogation of Parliament until its re-assembling, from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, the daily press, as the champions of the free-trade party, kicked up a great noise. The members of the Opposition took advantage of every opportunity to utter the most violent threats of what they intended . to . do by way of destroying the Government as soon as they met Ministers face to face. They had all the big ‘ drums they could commandeer, and a great blare of trumpets, and it seemed to me that it was only the meeting of Parliament which could stay their frenzy and fury and save them from a quick death by apoplexy. When the critical moment came, and they had an opportunity of facing the body they had denounced and derided, what happened ? Instead of this warlike attitude, instead of the desire to take the scalps of Ministers, we found these critics as silent as the sphinx, as gentle as cooing doves. The beggarly array of empty benches on my right hand is a good evidence of what these brave warriors are doing now that Parliament has met. Being struck in this way, I was. worked - up to a state of great excitement. I rather like to be an onlooker in a row. I expected to have a time of thorough enjoyment after the 26th May, but I have been sadly disappointed. I have failed to discover the reason for this sudden change of front on the part of the critics of the Government - so brave when they are along distance away from the subjects of” their criticism. I cannot discover a reason for this change of front in any explanation which they have tendered here. The leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, Senator Symon, took advantage of a few remarks made by the proposer of the ‘ motion for the adoption of the address in reply. Senator Downer, in the course of his remarks, in that happy, genial, amiable style that only he knows how to use - and when he does use it he seduces us all - said that he knew of cases in the administration of the Customs Act that were harsh and cruel ; but viewing the general administration as a whole, he said that it was creditable to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Government with which he is -associated. Senator Symon took the first portion of that remark and said, “Here is a condemnation from the Ministerial bench itself, and therefore it is not necessary for me or any of my following among the Opposition to> offer a word of adverse criticism.” What a slender bush behind which to hide so burly a form ! My goodness ! I never heard anything so trivial or anything so unsatisfactory in all my public life. If there were the least tittle of genuineness in all the loud proclamations which the Opposition made as to their intentions when Parliament met, surely a mere stray observation from the mouth of a friend of the Government ought not to have stopped them - unless they had some special reasons for refraining. Senator Symon, in sheltering himself behind a word or two which fell from Senator Downer, forgot that Senator Downer said that Parliament, in passing the Customs law, had done better than it knew. Every one of Senator Symon’s followers has, however, forgotten that remark. In looking for a reason for this extraordinary change of front, I believe that, without being charged with prejudice in any way, I might reasonably say that the Opposition lacked the courage when it came to the supreme moment, and they were to meet face to face in this Chamber those whom they had accused outside. But from experience of those gentlemen, I do not think they are lacking in courage. In fact, I am under the impression that no one particular reason will fully account for this extraordinary change of front, but it may be explained by a variety of reasons. I believe that discretion had a great deal to do with it, and that discretion takes this form : The criticism has gone forth from the public platform ; the adverse criticism has been published in the press ; it is not easy on the floor of the House to repeat those attacks, because discretion says - “ If you do, the persons whom you criticise may put their side of the case, and the country will see both and judge between them.” So, discretion says - “ Don’t do it.” Discretion says - “ Wait until Parliament rises, and youget back to the country again, and then you can use the platform and press and tell the same old tales, and no reply can be uttered.” We are led to these conclusions, which are reasonable, because it is absurd to think that it is purely from lack of courage that the Opposition have refrained from making their attack. But it is not absurd to say - and our knowledge of these gentlemen teaches us - that they are both astute and very discreet. I think there was another cause, and I may mention it - I mention it deliberately - why there has been, lately, a modification of those fierce and savage denunciations of the Minister for Trade and Customs, which were so bad until there came a total cessation of them. I believe that one of the main operating causes, was that a Judge and jury of this Commonwealth have absolutely vindicated the position of the Minister for Trade and Customs. Had that Judge and jury not vindicated his administration the same ruthless persecution, the same savage desire to destroy Mr. Kingston would have been followed right up to the very meeting of, Parliament, and we should have been at this moment in the midst of an electric battle over the corpse of that particular individual. Between astuteness and discretion, and the finding of a. legal tribunal, I believe we shall find an exact explanation of the extraordinary change of front on the part of those who are opposing the Government. I wish to say here, as a careful observer, not having the opportunity of running a daily newspaper in which I can express my opinions about the conduct of any particular administrator in the Commonwealth Government, that I think the people of Australia have been singularly fortunate in the possession of a Minister like Mr. Kingston, who has administered the Customs department with great success, and in a manner highly satisfactory to the general public of this country. Australia will never have any reason to complain if she always has as courageous and capable an administrator as she has now in Mr. Kingston.I am perfectly satisfied with his action. It has saved thousands upon thousands of pounds to the Treasury of the country, and it is largely due to his vigorous and firm action that the Government, in the GovernorGeneral’s speech to the Parliament, are able to congratulate the country that our finances are upon a very sound and satisfactory footing. There is no doubt, either, that by his administration he has improved the commercial morality of this country and protected honest traders. For this reason I feel, as a member of this Parliament, very much indebted to Mr. Kingston. A great deal had been said outside and inside Parliament on the wellworn subject of the six hatters. Quite lately I have heard Members of Parliament saying that there has been so much said about the matter that we may as well let it drop. There are some people who are always inclined, without rhyme or reason, to condemn everything and anything, every one and any one, in whom the labour party have manifested any interest or had any belief. But my position is that the last of the six hatters’ episode has not been heard - that whilst those on the other side have had their say, have printed their libels, have circulated their slanders, the public is sure in the long run, when they have an opportunity of expressing a decisive opinion, to know exactly the full facts of the case. It will be our business to see that the episode of the six hatters is not dropped in this Parliament, even though those who have made every use of it up to the present time so desire. Official explanations which have been made are absolutely ignored, both by the press and in the Federal Parliament. I was very much surprised - though I ought not to have been if experience could teach me anything - to find that the careful, well thought out, precise statement or explanation that was made to the other Chamber by the Prime Minister on Tuesday night was carefully cut out of the morning papers, whilst the old stories were published in full. Not only that, but honorable senators who have spoken in this Chamber, and have referred to the same incident, have absolutely ignored the full and clear explanation of the Prime Minister, and have continued to circulate the old story.
– The leader of the Opposition did so.
– The leader of the Opposition did so precisely, and it appears to me to be a peculiar thing. But I am especially concerned about another’ statement made by Senator Symon. I regret that he is not present, but I presume that that is no reason why I should refrain from alluding to anything that has been said or done here by him. In that full, rich, and expressive language, of which he is a perfect master, he laid it down clearly and distinctly in this Chamber and to the country that a despicable act was committed by the officials of the Hatters Union, when the six hatters landed in Melbourne - that those union officers by pretending friendliness, by grasping the hand of the strangers, and worming themselves into their confidence, Obtained possession of the contracts that they had entered into, and sent them on to the Prime Minister. It was alleged that those officials had extended the hand of friendship for the express purpose of getting possession of those contracts- in order to use the information so obtained to exclude the hatters from this’ country. If that had been done it certainly would not have been creditable. The alleged conduct was denounced in severe terms by Senator Symon, and I heard it denounced in the House of Representatives by the leader of the free-trade, party there, as the most contemptible action he ever heard of. Had those facts been true there might have been some justification for the indignation of these gentlemen, but when Senator Symon was challenged he would not listen, and I venture to say that there was not a tittle of truth in anything he said concerning that matter. The thing is an absolute fabrication from beginning to end. The simple facts are that when these hatters came here - the union officials knew they were coming - they were invited to visit the Trades Hall, and they agreed to do so. In the meantime, however, they met some members of ‘ the Employers’ Union who feted them, and they did not put in an appearance at the Trades Hall. On the eve of their departure by train for Sydney the secretary saw them ,and asked one of their number whether he had any objection to showing his agreement. The man replied, “ No, you can have a look at it, and do what you like with it.” The hatters knew before they left England that . they would run a risk in coming out under contract, but they, together with their employer, were prepared to take it. These are the whole facts, and. as they are known, and have been 1old times out of number, it is not particularly creditable for a man to insinuate improper conduct on the part of others, more particularly when there is not a tittle of evidence to substantiate it. Apart from that aspect of the question, it strikes me that those who are denouncing the administration of the Government, deliberately suppress the main reason which justified tlie Government in acting as they did. It was not because they had a desire to shut out a trades unionist, or a fellow British subject, or that they wished to take any harsh view of their powers and to harass or embarrass any one seeking to make a” home on our shores. The particular objection was that these men were coming out here under contract; that they were bound men, who came here in violation of the express previsions of an Act. of Parliament, when the ink was hardly dry on the paper on which that measure was printed. It was the conditons under which they came out that gave rise to the objection, and when it was shown that they were not debarred by any express provisions of the Act they were immediately admitted. As far as I know, they are still in the Commonwealth, and they. were so particularly well skilled that there is only one of them at work now.
– One did not think the Commonwealth good enough. He has gone to New Zealand.
– Yes. Our objection to people who come to this country under contract is not based wholly and solely oil considerations of whether they are white, black, yellow, or of any other colour, nor whether they are Britishers or Boers, Italians or Hungarians. It is the particular conditions under which a man comes out to which we object. We say that if a squad of Italians comes to Western Australia under an agreement to work under conditions that would tend to undermine the standard of living and comfort of those who are engaged in a similar occupation there, they are undesirable immigrants, and we look to whatever Government is in power to prevent them from landing. A party of Englishmen coming out under the same terms and conditions, to give us precisely the same result, would be equally undesirable on the soil of Australia.
– There is no national line in the whole Bill.
– No. That was a matter which was keenly debated. Senator Symon, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of his followers, said last night that he was determined to embrace the first opportunity of repealing the section of the Act in question. He was asked why he did not take some objection to it when it was before the Senate, but he was not sure whether he was in the Senate.
– The honorable and learned senator was here.
– Yes ; and Senator Pulsford raised the very question of contract labour by moving an amendment providing that as long as a man did not come out under contract to work for less than the prevailing rate of wage there should be no embargo against his landing. That amendment was negatived without a division. These honorable senators thought so little of fighting on that principle that they did not even call for a division. I know that Senator Symon was here, because on referring to the records I find that his name appears in a division immediately before and in one immediately after that amendment was negatived.
– And Senator Macfarlane also spoke about the position of domestic servants.
– Exactly. When Senator Symon said he would take advantage of the first opportunity to repeal this particular section, because under if the hatters had been embarrassed for a day or two, it struck me that I should like to know - and if he were present now I should ask him - whether he thought the Government were right after all in admitting the hatters. If the section did not empower them to exclude the six hatters, or any one else who came to Australia in like circumstances, what can be the necessity for repealing it? There can be none. But if the honorable and learned senator had a haunting suspicion that the Government had no right to admit these hatters - that they had power to exclude them - he should have moved a vote of censure on the Government for maladministration, and submitted it to the decision of the Senate. That was his plain and evident duty. But it appeared to me that right throughout the whole business these honorable gentlemen - just as in their criticism of the Minister for Trade and Customs, whom they desire to rend and tear - were uncomfortable when the moment came and did not care about doing it.
– If the Government went beyond the law there is no necessity to repeal it.
– Quite so. I come now to another question. These debates are valuable in helping us to determine whether the administration of the Government is suitable or not. I have always found that debates of this character are also valuable in testing the sincerity of opinions such as we hear expressed from time to time by some honorable senators. Because the Postmaster-General has intimated to the Home authorities that he intends to put into effect certain provisions in the Postal Act, a perfect storm of indignation has been raised amongst honorable senators who speak on behalf of thelascar - “ our coloured brother.” Honorable senator after honorable senator has entertained us with very fine phrases about the “ ties of country,” “ the ties of blood and kinship, and all that kind of thing. When such phrases are well delivered, when they are uttered with intense patriotic fervor, accompanied by graceful gestures and heroic pose, they have a very striking effect upon those who hear them, but I” find that those who are in the habit of using these particularly pat phrases are willing to sacrifice their country, their loyality, and their patriotism according to the exigencies of their pocket. Whenever loyalty or patriotism conflicts with the amount they earn from day to day, or week to week, it has to go to the wall. Pocket is the first consideration with them. This leads me to the conclusion, and I feel compelled to say so, that this continual trumpeting forth of the claims of kinship, of the ties of blood, and of loyalty and patriotism is merely lip expression and empty mouthing without anything in substantial in heart or mind to back it up. Senator Dobson gave us a little address on the subject to-night. Senator Symon did so last night, and perhaps the most fervent speaker of all was Senator Gould, who took particular pains to point out what was our duty to our “unfortunate Iascar brother.” He told us about the ties of Empire, and of various matters of that kind, but I should like to know from these honorable senators, if their statement is true that by displacing the lascars on the mail ships we shall not give employment to Britishers, but to foreigners, who is responsible for that state of affairs ? If it is true that the British mercantile marine is not manned by British sailors, but by foreigners, and that if we put out the lascars we shall only give employment to foreigners, who is the responsible party? What particular section in this community or in other parts of the Empire is responsible for that state of affairs ?
– The prosperity of England really is responsible for it.
– Nothing of the kind. I venture to say that the” responsibility rests absolutely on the shoulders of the particular class which Senator Gould and many other honorable senators in this Chamber truly represent. They are the true representatives of the commercial men, the Stock Exchange men, and the large employers generally, who are prepared to sacrifice every thought of loyalty to race and country, and every thought of patriotism, so long as their pockets are well lined. They will employ not only the foreigner and the Iascar, but anything that crawls upon earth, if they can only get it cheap enough, and if by getting it cheaply they can increase their dividends. That is a fact. It must not be thought that because labour men point this out we are particularly prejudiced against these persons. It is because we labour men have been forced to find out the rights and wrongs of these things, and our investigations have led us to this discovery. Other people have also made the discovery that the real reason why British ships are manned by foreigners is that the conditions of life, the housing, the food, the health arrangements, and the pay on British merchant ships are such that the best British workman will not follow the occupations of the sea. And it is the foreigner, who is willing to submit to that kind of treatment and that rate of pay who takes his place. I venture to say that these shipping companies do not employ lascars because they are their coloured brothers, because, of any ties of kindred, or of any thoughts of building up this great Empire. They employ them because they find them cheaper even than the foreigner, and because they find that they will put up with worse conditions.
– They would employ Chinese if they were cheaper.
– They would employ anything. If they could only train a lot of wild animals taken from the ‘ jungles of Africa, they would get them to do the work if they were cheaper. That is the main consideration. I remember reading some time ago an article written by F. T. Bullen, a man amongst those most capable of writing with authority on this subject, for nobody will dispute his knowledge of the sea, of seamen, and of merchant shipping. He says that the fact is that the conditions are such that neither the Britisher nor the American will stand them. If the conditions were good, and we could not get British seamen, we could have their places filled by Americans, but they are filled now by foreigners, who will accept conditions with which neither Britishers nor Americans will be content. All honour and credit, I say, to the men of the British race who will not come down lower than they are, but who will still continue to struggle and strive for the higher and better life. It is an absurdity to say that Britishers are leaving the sea because they are tired of it, or because they find that they are not better sailors than foreigners. They have proved when opportunity has afforded that they are better sailors. They have proved that often in the history of the race, and they have also shown that they are going to follow the particular avocation, in the country in which they can have access to it, in which they can lead the higher and the better life. The more the attempt is made to trample them down by bad conditions, the fewer British sailors we shall have to man our ships. Senator Gould, in a grandiloquent sort of way, told us that all disputes should be settled by agitation, by waiting, and by having patience. Though the honorable and learned senator did not say that entirely with regard to the employment of foreigners on British ships, yet the relation was there when he brought it up in connexion with the strike which recently took place here in Victoria. I shall apply it somewhat in the same way. I wish to point out to this particular class of people that they must understand that the sailor, in combination with his fellow-men, endeavours to get better conditions such as he would like to live and labour under, and to get a decent reward for his work ; and when he cannot get it by any tribunal offered to him by the law of the land, and tries to enforce those conditions by his combinations, it is the class represented by Senator Gould and many other honorable senators in this Chamber, who immediately use all the force and strength of the community to suppress them. They have the press absolutely at their disposal, and it refers to these men as rebellious, disloyal, unpatriotic, traffickers in turmoil, destroyers of property, and disturbers of the peace. Every denunciatory phrase and uncomplimentary expression which can be used is applied to them. When these sailors are fighting for conditions which will keep our merchant shipping open to Britishers, the very people who complain now of our ships being manned by foreigners, use all the forces at their command, and all the forces of the civil law to gaol, and otherwise punish those indi vidua ls. We know and realize these things, and we say distinctly that the manning of our merchant shipping by foreigners is absolutely and entirely due to that class of the community, and that whatever disaster may overtake the Empire as the consequence of such a state of affairs, the responsibility for it will be theirs alone. We further say that the employment of lascars is not the way to remedy the evil of the preponderance of foreigners in our merchant shipping. It is not by employing an inferior class, but by making the conditions such that a Britisher who lives as a
Britisher ought, may follow the occupations of the sea. I, for one, on every occasion on which I am afforded an opportunity, will endeavour to resist the employment of inferior labour either upon sea or upon land wherever the Commonwealth has any control. Senator Gould, in a taunting mood, said last night, that while he could understand and respect our desire to have a white Australia within our own borders, it was absurd for us to think that we were going to enforce our views on the whole of the civilized world. If we ever attempted to do anything of the kind it would be absurd. We have not attempted to do it, and the particular provision in the Postal Act. to which objection has been taken, is not an effort to convert the whole world to our way of thinking, but an expression of our national sentiment. It is an expression also of our determination to do what in us lies to make the conditions of life and labour within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth such as a white nian may accept. It is an expression also of our determination to refuse to allow any race or any particular class of individuals to come here from any country for the purpose of making the conditions of labour lower and the comforts of life less than they are here at the present time. When this provision is included in the Postal Act we say to the shipping companies - “If you desire to trade with us, if you desire to have our good- will, and if you want to get the subsidy we are willing to pay for services rendered, you can only secure these things by respecting our national sentiment. If you refuse to do that we shall, so far as we can, refuse to have any truck with you.” We are perfectly justified in taking up that attitude. If it is true that by taking up such an attitude we shall cut ourselves off from reasonable or continuous communication with the rest of the world, we shall have to cave in, because we cannot carry out our national sentiment at the expense of a continuous communication with the rest of the world. But we have yet to learn that that is the position of affairs. If I understand the Postmaster- General aright, he distinctly declares that communication between Australia and the old country is not dependent on any one, or any two lines of steamers ; that the trade of Australia has become of so much importance now that numbers of different lines of steamers are competing for it, and that the limit of time is now the essential thing, not for the carriage of mails altogether, but for their passenger and cargo traffic. Is it not an absurdity to say that wc cannot get our mails carried continuously at express speed when we know that passengers and cargo are being continuously carried at express speed f It is clear, therefore, that that particular objection falls to the ground. In tho discussion on the -motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply mention has been made of the Navigation Act. I regret very much that no mention has been mode in the GovernorGeneral’s speech of a short Bill dealing with one or two matters of urgency connected with shipping and our internal trade. It is not possible to introduce in this session a comprehensive Navigation Act, which must contain about 700 clauses if it is to be o? any use at all, with any hope of getting it passed. But there are a few urgent matters of supreme importance which might be embodied in a short Bill, which the Government might very well introduce, with every prospect of being able to pass it within a very short time, because the/ provisions to which I specially refer are so reasonable that I think they would provoke no opposition. I shall briefly enumerate some of them as they deal with matters of concern to our sailors. Under our Immigration Restriction Act, a coastal trader has to comply with certain conditions as to rates of wages and other matters ; but an oversea trader which trades between our ports is not subject to those conditions. A coastal trader lias to pay a sailor, say, £6 10s. per month, and to comply with other stringent conditions regarding food, quarters, and other matters, which all affect the cost of the trade ; but an oversea trader which is trading between our ports is not subjected to such conditions, because the Attorney-General has ruled that it does not come within the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. It is alleged that the oversea traders do not trade between ports, but, as a matter of fact, they do trade ‘ between Newcastle and Melbourne, Newcastle and Adelaide, and, on occasions, between Newcastle and Brisbane ; the rate of wages they pay is about £3 per month, and they have not to comply with the other conditions I have mentioned. In the interests of Australian seamen that condition of affairs should be abolished. As a matter of fair play to Australian ship owners it should be abolished. Sooner or later the competition of these big ships in our coastal - trade is sure to result in a reduction of wages, and such reduction may mean at any time industrial trouble, which is to be avoided if it is possible. In this connexion, I desire to mention a practice which ought to be stopped at once. No coastal vessel lands its crew on the wharfs to do lumping work, but the Japanese boats that trade down the Queensland coast from the east - and I believe some of the boats that trade to Western Australia from the west - land their crews to do lumping work, and the result is that a large body of white men along our coast, who depend upon the arrival and departure of ships for their livelihood, are displaced with the low-paid, aliens. That is not fair to the lumpers on our wharfs, and it is decidedly unfair to our ship-owners. I have only now to express my very deep regret at the hasty and undignified retreat of the critics of the Government. I congratulate the Government very sincerely on the very strong position in which they stand. I congratulate the country upon the weakness of the Opposition, and I feel sure that if the Government continue to show the same intelligence in legislation, and the same capacity and courage in administration, and they ask the electors for a renewal of their trust and confidence it will be given.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn . until Wednesday next, at half-past two o’clock p.m.
Senate adjourned at 9.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 May 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030528_senate_1_13/>.