1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President . took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator FERGUSON presented a petition from the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures praying for the repeal of sub-section (g) of section 3 and of section 11 of the Immigration Restriction Act.
Petition received and read.
Senator SAUNDERS made and subscribed the oath and signed the roll.
Senator McGREGOR. - I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, -without notice, whether the members of this Parliament are to be supplied with bound copies cf the Acts of lost session, and if so, when? I also desire to know at what price bound copies of the Acts will be sold to the public 1
Senator DRAKE. - The Government Printer states that only advance bound copies of the statutes for gratuitous distribution to ‘ Ministers, members of the Commonwealth - Parliament, and permanent heads of departments have been issued. The matter of issuing copies .to the public’ is now in the hands of the Department for External Affairs for decision as to the charge to be mode. The Government Printer has supplied that department with all necessary information as to cost of production, ite. The Department for External Affairs states that no decision has yet been arrived at in the matter, pending the receipt of farther information ‘ from the Government Printer, but it is hoped the cost will be determined within a week hence. Loose copies of all Commonwealth Acts may be purchased at any State Government Printingoffice, at a cost of £1 6s. 7d. for a complete set.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table -
Regulations under the Defence Acts of the States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table a special report of the Standing Orders Committee on proceedings upon Bills which the Senate may not amend and on the appointment of a committee of disputed returns and elections.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, acquainting the Senate that it had given leave to its Printing Committee to confer with the Printing Committee of the Senate, and that its Library and House Committees had leave, under the Standing Orders, to confer with similar committees of the Seriate.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
A communication has been received from the Secretary oE State for the Colonies relating to the above subject, which will, in due course, De laid upon the table of the Senate.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senators questions : -
– Perhaps I may be permitted to ask the Postmaster-General whether, if the Address in Reply is adopted to-day, he will adjourn the consideration of Government business until next week, or whether he proposes to ask the Senate to sit tomorrow ? I am quite sure that he will find great difficulty in getting a quorum tomorrow. It will be impossible to deal with the standing orders efficiently until we have an opportunity of reading them through. I went very carefully through the draft standing orders which were furnished to us last session and annotated them ; but during the recess they have disappeared in a most curious” way. I do not al lege anything like petty larceny, because probably my annotated copy might have been regarded as of’ no use. But its loss is exceedingly inconvenient. We shall also have to consider the special report of the Standing Orders Committee which I have not yet seen. We shall require an opportunity of looking over it. A number of honorable senators are going away this afternoon, and very likely it will be impossible to form a House tomorrow. It is not worth while to bring us back unless there is some substantial reason for it. There is some private member’s business on the paper to-day, and I should like to have my honorable and learned friend’s view on that subject. It may be that some honorable senators will desire to take advantage of the opportunity of disposing of some of that business.
– In reply to inquiries from honorable senators, I have already mentioned that it is our intention to proceed with the standing orders as soon as the Address in Reply is disposed of. But of course I have no desire whatever to hasten the matter if it will be inconvenient to do so. I would, however, express the wish that if we do not this afternoon proceed with that business, the last report of the committee containing draft standing orders, and also, if possible, the special report submitted by the committee this afternoon, should be circulated among honorable senators, so that they may have an opportunity of reading them through, and preparing their minds beforehand.
– Is it intended .to deal with the special report when. we are dealing with the draft standing orders generally ?
– The proposal is to deal with the reports simultaneously, because I apprehend from conversations I have had with members of the Standing Orders Committee that the special report takes the form of an amendment upon the draft standing orders, which amendment has become necessary in consequence of legislation which has been enacted. I am in the hands of the Senate with regard to sitting to-morrow. Last Thursday I informed one honorable senator who has private business upon the paper that, if we did not sit last Friday, I would do nothing to prevent the formation of a House on Friday of this week. If honorable senators are disposed to sit to-morrow, I am prepared to sit and to go on with private members’ business ; but I should like to know, before to-day’s sitting closes, whether there is likely to be a House to-morrow, because it would be unfair to a few honorable senators to ask them to wait here for the purpose of forming a House if it was evident that tomorrow there would not be sufficient members present to make a quorum.
– Then the honorable and learned senator will not take any Government business after the Address in Reply has been disposed of ?
– I will take nothing before the standing orders.
– Will the honorable and learned senator take them directly after the Address in Reply has been dealt with 1
– Not if there is a desire not to go on with them, but I should be quite willing to speak on the subject. I do not wish to speak at any great length. I have no desire to go on with Government business if the leader of the Opposition assures me that he is not prepared to proceed. There is no such pressure upon our time at the present period of the session as would justify us in hastening in such a way as would probably tend to prolong our debates eventually.
Debate resumed from 3rd June (vide page 442), on motion by Senator Sir John Downer -
That the Address in Reply be adopted.
– A number of honorable senators, owing to the length to which this debate has. extended, have thought it necessary to apologize for doing what, to my mind, was. their simple duty. It is the duty of every honorable senator, if he has any opinions, to express in connexion with the measures, that are to be presented to the Government, or if he has views to make known in connexion with the administration of legislation, already in existence, to take the opportunity when it arises. It will be recognised that the debate on the Address in Reply furnishes one of those opportunities of which, honorable senators ought to avail themselves. It would have been a great loss to the community if Senator Pulsford had not had an opportunity of bringing forward themany grievances under which he and hisfriends were labouring. I am sure that it would have been a calamity if Senator Neild - I beg his pardon, Senator Brigadier General Neild-
– Tt does not, it seems, matter in military affairs at the present time how high you go above the real rank of an officer ; he is not offended. Probably if I were to say Senator SergeantMajor J. C. Neild there might be cause of offence, but to my mind Sergeant-Major sounds just as fierce, and in the public mindis of as much importance as Major-General.
– It is rather discourteous.
– We, in this corner,, were a ever favoured by the press or by the Hansard staff by having our titles put before our names, and consequently we have a. right to feel aggrieved. I was saying that itwould have been a calamity if the honorable senator to whom I have referred had not had the opportunity afforded to him by a debate such as this of bringing forward matters in connexion with the military administration of the Commonwealth. He is to be congratulated upon the way in which he has dealt with some of those grievances. He has my sympathy, and the sympathy of a number of other honorable senators, in connexion with some of the points he mentioned. It is also the duty of every honorable senator to indicate the kind of legislation that he considers most suited to the conditions underwhich the people of Australia labour, although in the opinion of some people a debate of this kind leads to the waste of a little time. What did the Australian colonies - now the Australian States - federate for? They must have had some reason. There must have been some inducement to the people to come together in a federation. By listening patiently to the honorable senators who have already spoken, representing all the States, I have come to the conclusion that each State expected to gain something. I interjected when Senator Playford was speaking last night that they wanted to get half-a-erown in exchange for two shillings, and were led to believe that they could do so. I know ! that the advocates of the Constitution under ‘which we are living to-day told the people that they were eventually to gain in many directions, and that it was to the benefit of the isolated colonies to become States of this great Commonwealth. Let us look at what thcdifferent States expected. Of course, they all expected something except the model State of South Australia - and I have not heard any one make any claim on her behalf up to the present time.
– South Australia has made most out of it up to date though.
– That is because our people are judicious and favoured with good luck. I will begin with the island of Tasmania. What has she expected to get? From what I have heard her whole difficulty is cable communication and steamship communication conjointly. Tasmania wants a different telegraph service, and a more uptodate mail service. What surprises me most is the attitude of some of the Tasmanian senators, notably Senator Dobson and Senator Macfarlane. Those gentlemen, honestly I believe, are always advocating private enterprise. But they have had private enterprise in Tasmania, as far as telegraphic communication with the mainland is concerned, and they do not seem to be very well satisfied. They would like to go in for a little of that abominable thing - to their minds - State socialism. From the very commencement of the last session up to this very day, some representative of the moral State of Tasmania has been crying out about cable communication, and the position which that State occupies relatively to the other States. I hope that if the representatives of other States are willing to support the Tasmanians in getting this little item of State socialism, they in turn will give some little consideration’ to the requirements of the rest of Australia. Tasmania wants a cheap Stateowned cable service, and a cheap, regular mail service. Her representatives do not care whether they are State or privately Ovvned, but they want them. And I hope that these honorable senators will get those conveniences, and so far as I am able I will do everything in my power to help them”. Then it is amusing to find that the representatives of Western Australia in another place, and in this Senate, have been labouring the question of a transcontinental railway, and they are quite justified in asking for the line, to gain which was one of the objects their State had in joining the Commonwealth. According to the documents which have been read in this and another place, those representatives have a right to expect some sympathy from the representatives of other States, who also in return expect something. Senator Styles attacked this simple request of the Western Australian representatives, and Senator Playford, although not in such a virulent manner, tried to throw cold water on the scheme as, I believe, other representatives of South Australia were prepared to do. These representatives of South Australia seem to be provincial and parochial when the little corner of God’s earth in which their particular interests happen to lie would, in. their opinion, be adversely affected. That is not in consonance with the grand federal spirit or the great Imperial spirit we hear of sometimes. Senator Styles told us that this is not a transcontinental railway, because it does not go from sea to sea. But there is a sea to the west of Australia as well as to the north, and a sea to the east as well as to the south. Do honorable senators lose sight of the fact that this railway, which is bound to come, will some day or other extend from Sydney to Fremantle - from ocean to ocean. If, after the arguments which have been deduced by the representatives of Western Australia, we decline to comply with their wishes, they will have good reason for blocking the desires of the representatives of other States.
– The honorable senator appears to want to do a bit of log-rolling.
- Senator Playford probably knows a lot more about logrolling than I am ever likely to learn in all my lifetime. I do not suggest for one moment that Senator Playford will be guilty of log-rolling, which is unfair ; but we are here representing the interests of the different States, and we have as much, right to consider the just claims of any State as we have to consider the claims of the States to which we ourselves belong. So far as the people of South Australia are concerned, railway connexion with Western Australia would be a great advantage. It would be an advantage to a section of the people in South Australia, in whom Senator Playford and other representatives of that State have always taken especial interest ; it would be a great advantage to the producing classes, by whom I mean only those immediately connected “with farming, grazing, and gardening. It costs, I believe, a very considerable amount of money to send produce from South Australia to Western Australia. We must have regard to the difficulty there is in’ getting produce from Petersburg, Jamestown, or any of these partially central places to Adelaide, and thence shipping it to Fremantle, where it has to be unshipped and conveyed by rail to the eastern goldfields of Western Australia. Who has to pay the expense of that transit 1 Has it not to be borne by the producer and the consumer. It would be a good thing if this expense could be decreased in any way by the construction of a railway, that would prove of immense advantage to the poor miners, of whom we have heard so much, and who have been described to us as going about with tins of condensed milk hanging about their necks. . To these miners it would be of great advantage to get from South Australia good beef and mutton, bran, chaff, and other products, and there would bea corresponding benefit to the producers of that State. Certain representatives have endeavoured to influence the minds of the people of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania on the question of the construction of a line from South Australia to Kalgoorlie. But what would be said if we were to so misrepresent the position .that the eastern States turned entirely against the project? In such case Western Australia and South Australia. would undoubtedly be the greatest sufferers. It is said, for the purpose of frightening the people of the eastern States, that the country on the route of the line is almost a waterless waste.
– Those who say so know nothing about the matter.
Senator- McGREGOR. - I do not know much about the country on the Western Australian side : and, of course, those who are ardently in favour of the line will do all they can to paint the brightest picture. I do know, however, a good deal about the country on the South Australian side, and I agree with Senator Playford that if the project were considered merely from an agricultural or pastoral point of view, there would be very little hope of its being carried out. But every one who knows the continent of Australia must recognise that the people who make their homes here can never look to the central portions of it for a Garden of Eden. The Governments of the different States are continually pointing out to the public in other parts of the world that we have rich mineral resources ; and it is to these resources in the interior of Australia that we have to look for future development. It is, therefore, scarcely necessary to regard the country between Port Augusta and Eucla from a farming or pastoral point of view. We must, however, look at the mineral deposits. Senator Playford knows that at Mount Gunsen, which is nearly 100 miles from Port Augusta in a direct line, very rich mineral deposits have been discovered, and that only n slight deviation would be necessary in order to take the proposed railway through this part of the country. At Mount Gunsen there are millions of tons of copper ore at the surface, and although it may be of a low grade, the ease with which it can be secured gives that district an immense advantage over other districts where deep mining is necessary. It can be readily seen that all that is necessary to make Mount Gunsen a prosperous copper-mining locality is railway communication. I visited this place in company with other Members of Parliament, and, even with my slight knowledge of mining, I can say that there are millions of tons of ore there which can be obtained without sinking more than 6 or 7 feet. With these facts before us we can see that such a country is worth millions of acres even of the fairly well grassed land which we have been told is found on the Western Australian side of the bolder. Then, again, 280 miles from Port Augusta, on the same line, there have been discovered what would undoubtedly prove profitable gold-mines if there were only proper means of communication in order that machinery and means of livelihood could be reudily and cheaply conveyed. It is to such resources that we must look for a profitable return from a railway, and in the circumstances there is no use whatever in regarding the question from a pastoral or farming point of view. It would not matter if a railwav went through the Desert of Sahara so long as it went in the direction of wealth of this description, which must Ultimately proveprofitable. Senator Playford knows very well that the Act authorizing the construction of the Broken Hill line was passed long before Silverton or Broken Hill was discovered.
– No ; Thackaringa was discovered before.
– Thackaringa is not Broken Hill.
– It is part of the same field.
– Senator Playford knows that this line was originally constructed for the purpose of bringing stock from the western parts of New South Wales.
– That was the principal reason.
– There was no question of mining development raised at the time ; but the line was not half finished when not only silver and lead, but gold and other minerals were discovered in all directions. These discoveries would have been impossible but for the construction of the railway. Having regard to what has occurred in the past, there is ample justification for assisting the Western Australian representatives in obtaining the little benefit which they would reap from the construction of this transcontinental railway.
– If that be so, why did not the State construct lines to Mount Gunsen and Tarcoola?
– The State should have done so. If it had had enterprise and energy these lines would have been constructed years ago. But it is hardly possible in South Australia at the present time, so frightened are the Government about bein hard up, to get even a telegraph line to important places of that description.
– They have got it.
– They have got it, but only after a great deal of difficulty. I think the. Western Australian representalives have put their case very well, and, as I believe that it will be of benefit to South Australia, if any proposal is made to carry out a survey in connexion with that line, I shall certainly support it. A few have taken alarm, and I know that the feeling is encouraged in South Australia by short-sighted persons. There are people who imagine that if we construct a line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, in a very short time New South Wales will connect Broken Hill with existing lines in that State ; and instead of passengers and mails for Sydney coming through Adelaide, as at present, they will be taken across the continent by the transcontinental line described by Senator Styles - the line from the east to the west. But is such a thing likely to injure Adelaide or South Australia to the extent that some people imagine? Do honorable senators think that when the South Australian Government make reasonable provision for the accommodation of vessels, plying from other parts of the world and of Australia, to land their passengers and goods at Adelaide, trade will not go there ? Do honorable senatoi-s not think that South Australia will always claim her fair share of the traffic ; and is it not clear that if a few tons of mails and a few passengers are taken across the continent in the way to which I have alluded it will be a matter of very small importance to that State ? Again, I say it is a reasonable thing that we should do all we possibly can to assist Western Australia. Up to the present time every one of the States of the Commonwealth, with the exception of the model State, has made some claim upon the . Federal Government. Now what does Queensland want? Queensland did not come into the Commonwealth without expecting to benefit in some way or other.
– She wanted white- washing.
– As Senator Staniforth Smith says, she wanted whitewashing, because she was terribly piebald previously. But what evidence have we here that Queensland was in earnest in connexion with this question? We have the evidence of her representatives in another place and of her representatives here, that the electors who returned them to advocate a white Australia in the Federal Parliament comprised a vast majority of the people of Queensland.
– They will be returned again.
– Yes, I hope they will. At the present, time, however, the State selfishness to which I have already alluded comes in again. We now hear the Treasurers in some of the other States complaining that there is a movement on foot to compel them to contribute a small amount towards the maintenance of this white Australia. Senator Playford is one who has very mildly objected to it, because after all the honorable senator is a fair-minded man, and he recognises that Queensland had reasons for coming into the Commonwealth, and that these were her reasons. So far as I can understand up to the present time, the whole difficulty is about the rebate granted to persons employing white labour in the growth of sugar cane, and the amount involved is something like £60,000. I saw the Treasurer of South Australia the other day, and he was like a bear with a sore head. He was in such a condition that he declared he was not going to look at a Federal Minister. Senator Symon is evidently imbued with a very similar spirit. The honorable and learned senator declared here that the people of South Australia were up in arms against the proposal. I have travelled a little in South Australia, and though I have met a number of the people of that State, yet, with the exception of the Treasurer, I have not heard a solitary individual in South Australia complain about it. What does it mean? So far as South Australia is concerned, the position will be this: The amount ta.ken from the South Australian Treasurer will be about £5,500 a year.
– It may be £20,000 next year.
Senator McGREGOR. When it is £20,000 in the case of South Australia the population of that State will be so large that she .will be very well able to afford it.
– No; it might be that with the present population.
– I do not know whether Senator Pulsford has studied the matter for himself, but I desire to put the position fairly. I have said the amount will be £5.500. Without an exception the candidates for the Federal Parliament, when before the people of South Australia, declared themselves in favour of a white Australia. I with others did the same,- and I was careful to point out that if the people of that State had to pay a little more in the way of Customs duties levied on sugar for the purpose of obtaining a white Australia, they would have no reason to grumble. They said unanimously, “ Hear, hear. We shall be prepared to do it.” But the Treasurer of that State is not prepared to do it now. I wish to show the position in which that gentleman is. He is only going to lose£5,500, but what does he gain ? Prior to federation the duty on sugar in South Australia was £3 per ton. Wisely, I think, the duty was raised by the Commonwealth Parliament to £6 per ton. The quantity of sugar cleared in South Australia in 1901 was 16,500 tons, and in 1902 16,700 tons. Senator Pulsford may say that a lot of that was Australian grown sugar, but according to the returns from the Customs department, I find that there was only about 10,000 cwt. - they calculate, it in cwts. in South Australia, and 1 have reduced the figures to tons. That gives 500 tons. So that honorable senators will see that there is a difference of only 200 tons in the quantity cleared for consumption in those two years. We shall, therefore, in making the calculation be safe in fixing the amount at 16,000 tons. Sixteen thousand tons at £3 per ton comes to £4S,000 - Senator Pulsford will correct me if I make any mistakes -and 16,000 tons at £6 to £96,000.
– Yes, but that is the total taxation on sugar.
– If the honorable senator will listen he will find that I know what I am talking about. Previously, the South Australian Treasurer was receiving duty to the amount of £48,000. Now, the Commonwealth Treasurer is receiving in duty £96,000 from the same article. The people of South Australia, when they elected me to this Parliament, said that they were willing to sacrifice something for a white Australia, but they have sacrificed nothing so far, because sugar is as cheap in South Australia to-day as it was in 1899.
– In spite of the duty, it is exactly the same price.
– Sugar is cheaper all the world over, and the people would be getting it for so many pounds a ton less if it were not for the duty.
– There is about as much sense in that observation as there was in the yarn about little Jack Horner, which the honorable senator took so much trouble to repeat and the author of which he forgot.
– When the price of sugar has fallen £3 and the duty has been -raised £3 the original position is unaltered.
– According to the Constitution the Commonwealth returns three-fourths of the duty collected, and if there is any surplus afterwards it returns a little more. Senator Pulsford will not forget that.
– It returns about seven.eighths
– I propose to leave the little more out of the calculation altogether and to deal only with what the Constitution provides for, so that no mistake may occur in the future. Four into £96,00i» gives £24,000, and three times £24,000 amounts to £72,000. South Australia then gets back £72,000 in Customs duties upon sugar, and deducting the previous return from the duty, £48,000, from £72,000, we find that State is still left with a profit of £24,000. Out of that she will have to pay £5,500 in connexion with the rebates, and therefore, instead of the South Australian Treasurer losing, he is going to gain £li?,500 - and he has got a sore head about it.
– The honorable senator has got hold of a mare’s nest.
– The honorable senator should recollect that we have lost the tea tax.
-Yes, I know that a great many people are sorry about the tea tax, but is it not a fact that the South Australian Treasurer has been receiving as much from the Federal Government as the State levied (herself previously ? In some instances he receives more, and in this instance he is going to receive more, because I notice in this morning’s paper that Sir George Turner has informed poverty stricken’ Victoria that she is likely to get nearly £200,000 more than she expected. The position then is that South Australia makes a profit on the transAction connected with the granting of a white Australia; and the people of that State are not asked to pay any more for the purpose. I say, therefore, that South Australia has nothing to complain about, and she ought to be well satisfied that she is able to put Queensland into such a good position. I have not lost sight of - Senator Playford’s argument - a nice little argument it was, and very logical, too - that in the past the South Australian people did all they possibly could to keep South Australia white. She almost made a sacrifice to do it. Queensland never did anything of the kind. The Government of that State allowed this coloured curse to take firm root, and drastic measures had to be adopted to eradicate it. When the other States entered into, a partnership with Queensland, were not the people aware of that fact ? They were aware of all the conditions, and if not, they should have been. I should like to put the position in this way to Senator Playford : Supposing that when he was a young man he had married a young lady with a wooden leg, knowing all the circumstances, would it not have been very mean on his part, after a couple of years, to have called her “timber-toes”? I think she would have been quite justified in saying that a wooden leg was as good as a wooden head. South Australia and the other States have no right to complain now.
– It was never intended that any State but Queensland should pay this rebate.
– It was always intended that it should be borne by the States.
– The Government charged it to Queensland.
– We all know, and I believe that my honorable friend knows, that that was a mistake. The people of all Australia were firmly convinced that they would have to make some slight sacrifice to obtain a white Australia. They were prepared to make that sacrifice. The)’ never asked Queensland or New South Wales to bear all the burden, and they are not going to do so. They have all benefited by the adoption of a white Australia policy, and although Queensland might have .been spotted like the leopard before, I hope that her union with the other States will make her as white as the proverbial snow in the near future.- 1 think I have shown conclusive])’ that South Australia is not going to lose. The financial position of that and the other States has not only been maintained, but in some cases, it has been improved to a very great extent. New South Wales will get more than even will South Australia ; consequently I hope that we shall hear no more complaint from the States Treasurers, or from the narrowminded, provincial, unfederal, unimperial representatives who come from States of that description ; I mean the little Australians. Why did New South Wales enter the union? According to Senator Pulsford, the people of New South Wales were much more prosperous and happy in the days when the kangaroo was running oyer the silent bush ; when the convicts were rattling their chains near Botany, than they arn in the civilised combination with their fellow British subjects. They are in a prouder and better position to-day. What terms did they want to enter the union ? In the first instance New South Wales was so unfederal as to refuse to enter the union. There was something that the tricky politicians made her believe she wanted. The’ Constitution provides that New South Wales shall possess the federal capital. She is not to get all she wanted. She wanted’ to have the federal capital in Sydney, but the members of the Convention were not prepared to consent to that. It was not clean enough round about Sussex-street, and there were too many rats in the harbor, and too much waste paper about the streets. In a general sense everything was not up to date ; consequently the Convention considered it would be much more healthy to have the capital in some other place. At the first referendum New South Wales would not consent to come into the Federation. The Premiers of the colonies met and decided to give New South Wales all the honour and glory ; to fix the capital in the State at some place not less than 100 miles from Sydney. .It should be pretty healthy when it is so far removed from Sydney. It was decided to take another vote of the people of Australia. Previously we were all agreeable to federate. When this little sop of the federal capital was thrown to New South Wales, her politicians, who had opposed the Bill previously, turned round in their usual manner, and drove the other way ; and her people voted to enter the union. According to the Constitution, the capital of the Commonwealth is to be in New South Wales. The question with me is - Are the representatives of other States going to make a fair deal with New South Wales ? Are they going to cany out the contract which was made by the whole people of Australia, and as soon as possible give New South Wales the satisfaction of having the capital in her own territory ? The representatives of some States are in no hurry to I select the site. Senator Styles does not care if it is not chosen within 100 years, whilst Senator Dobson, in that “ wibblywobbly” style which is usually adopted by a great many persons when they first, get into Parliament, would favour thealternate use of Melbourne and Sydney. 1 do not think that any honest maro who considers the claim of New South Wales under the Constitution should endeavour to delay the selection of the site.
– Or even to make an> alteration in the Constitution.
– To my mind itwould be a breach of the covenant with the people of New South Wales if an attemptwere made to alter the Constitution in thatrespect. Then we have the objection of the economist. We all believe in economy. I believe in economy as much as any onedoes ; I dare say I have had to studyeconomy as much as any one has had to do, and I am not prepared under any circumstances to sacrifice the interests of the Commonwealth to please New South Wales or Victoria or any other State. Is the capital going to cost all the millions that we hear about? Did Sydney or Melbournecost an enormous sum to the Government of the State in which it is. situated ? The people of Victoria erected! Parliament House and other public buildings at enormous expense. But high and mighty as the Commonwealth Parliament might like to bc, I think that some much more utilitarian and less extravagant building than the Melbourne Parliament House would suit all its needs. And as regards Government offices, I think thatthe federal capital could do with publicbuildings much more modest than those which we see in Melbourne. I am sure that an expenditure of £300,000 or £400,000 would provide all the accommodation which is really necessary in the near future. Where are the millions of pounds going to be spent? For the sake of illustration, let ustake a site and see what it would cost the Commonwealth to provide the necessary accommodation. According to some persons, the most expensive site - I am not going to say whether it is the most suitable one or not - is on the Snowy River. The Ar/e, Argus, Sydney Morning Herald, and’ other great organs, state that it would cost the Commonwealth millions of pounds to build the capital there. It would have to be connected with Melbourne by a railway, and it would cost £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to build a line 150 or 200 miles long. Then a railway would have to be made from Cooma, in New South “Wales, for a distance of 60 or 70 miles, and thai; would cost £300,000, £400,000, or £500,000. All this expenditure is charged to the cost of the capital. It has nothing to do with the cost of the capital. It would not be necessary to make a railway to connect the capital with Melbourne. If the people of Victoria had any interest in federal affairs, I believe they would, if there was a new settlement established at any place, run a race with New South Wales to be the first to get communication with it. The Parliament of New South Wales has already authorized the construction of lines of railway in the direction indicated. These lines would be built in the future even though there never was a federal capital in the locality. I hope they will be made soon, because some of the country they will serve is well worthy of development. I agree with Senator Playford that it will be a very unwise thing to choose the capital, and to have people living there under canvas, or in weatherboard buildings, or “dug-outs.” That sort of accommodation would not be good enough for me, at any rate. Bather than go in for a work of that description, it would be better to wait til) we could afford something respectable, though it need not cost millions of money. But the federal city, when built, would not be entirely put up by the Government. The probability is that if the city - grew a corporate body would be created. People would put up buildings for themselves and the corporate body would see to the streets and tax the people for that purpose. It is all nonsense to talk of the Commonwealth having to spend millions of money. The only direction in which such an expenditure would be necessary would be in the acquisition of the land. Legislation that is already in existence, makes it impossible for any great amount of trickery to be played with the Federal Government in that respect. All the Crown land in the federal area, according to the agreement entered into hy the New South Wales people with the people of the rest of the States, is to be handed over to the Commonwealth, and the privately -owned land has to be purchased, not at a value created after the capital is selected, or by the railways which are to be built, but at a value prior to anything of this kind taking place. If the Federal Government had topurchase every inch of the land under such, terms, and that land was suitable - I would not recommend them to go anywhere where the land was not suitable - the result would be that before the capital was half the age of Melbourne it would be one of the wealthiest cities in Australia. Those who talk of the enormous amount of money that is to be spent before anything is d-jue in the construction of the capital, have notgiven the subject serious consideration. .
– Is not the honorable senator fighting a shadow ?
– I am trying tocombat the hostility that has been exhibited towards the just carrying out of the contract that was made between the different States and the Stale of New South Wales, when they entered into federation. I do not think that Senator Zeal would be justified in culling some of the arguments of Senator Styles and other Victorian senators, mere shadows. They are much more substantial than many arguments which I have heard coming from those who havehad as long a Parliamentary experienceas Senator Zeal himself. What I want is fair play in the carrying out of the contract which has been made, and the sooner it is carried out the better it will be for the peace of the Commonwealth and the prosperity of the people, both of Victoria, and New South Wales. Victoria did not enter into this contract without takingeverything into consideration. She was in a great hurry about it. Her people voted to a far greater extent in favour. of federation than did the people of any of the other States. Why was Victoria in such unbecoming haste to enter this federal combination? I can only see one reason. I am a protectionist, but I hope that I have always fought fair in that direction. Victoria was the most highly protected portion of Australia, and her manufactures and. industries were established. Her greatmanufacturers in the Chamber of Manufactures, and her merchants in the Chamber of- Commerce, were those who were in the greatest hurry about federation. They made use of the public press, and they managed toget up an agitation, with the result that the people of Victoria, to the extent of three or four to one, voted in favour of federation. They entered into it with the expectation, that as soon as Inter-State free-trade came about they would reap enormous benefits-
I hope that those Victorian manufacturers who are worthy of any consideration, and that the Victorian industrial classes, will in future - when Australia regains the equilibrium’ which she has lost during the depressing period of drought - reap all the benefits that they expected from federation. But they should not be selfish. They have got what they wanted, InterState free-trade. They may not have a tariff as high as they had previous to federation, but it is half as high, and the population they now have to cater for is four times greater. Consequently, although they have not received all that they expected, they have received twice as much as they have lost in the way of protection. Therefore, I trust that the Victorian people will deal less selfishly with the little foibles of the other States who came into the Commonwealth for the purpose of gaining something by it. Some of the people who were in such a hurry for federation some time ago say now, when one meets them, in the train or the tramcar, that if they had known what was going to happen they would not have been so eager about it. They say - “ If I had to vote again I would give my vote in the opposite direction.” It is a positive fact that I have heard working men making statements of the same description. They have been led away. There were led away in the first instance in being in such a hurry, and they are now being led in the opposite direction. I would say to the working classes and the general public, not only in Victoria, but in the rest of Australia also, that they have entered into this combination and must abide by it.. Whether thev have married in haste and are repenting at leisure, I will not say ; but it is their duty to do all they possibly can to make the union prosperous in the future, and happy for all the people who are affected by it. They can do this by paying attention to their interests, and “by sending into the Federal Parliament men who have the best interests of the Commonwealth at heart. I have said that no one has brought forward any scheme in the interests of the State to which I belong, South Australia. We also joined the federal compact in a hurry. We were led to believe - at least some of us were ; I was not - that we should save an enormous amount of money in connexion with the transferred services and by the consolidation of our debts. Every one likes to get rid of his debts ! People are like the young lady when she owed £5. She signed a cheque and sent it along to pay the bill ; and though she had no money in the bank, she said “Thank God the thing is settled.” Senator Playford’s experience has taught him a lesson which he endeavoured to impart to us last night. He showed us that the promises of those statesmen who were so eager for federation - for what purpose I can scarcely understand, though some honorable senators may have an idea - and who told the people that we were going to save this and that by the consolidation of our debts, were fallacious. Senator Playford showed what must really happen, and- what every reasonable man must admit to be absolutely correct. If I borrowed £1,000, at 8 per cent, interest, and I tried to convert that loan into a 4 per cent, loan, I should have to give my creditor £2,000. What better off should I be then 1 I should be paying just the same amount per annum. And that is all that the Federal Government will be able to do in connexion with the consolidation of the debts of the States. But when the currency of the loans expires, I think that it is the duty of the Federal Government to do all that they can to take over the State debts. I know that there are difficulties, but they can be overcome if the people desire it, and the Commonwealth Government is ready to assist them. In the near future a Victorian loan to the amount of £5,000,001) will become due It would be a matter of very great difficulty for Victoria to renew that loan on anything like reasonable terms on the English market. If. anything better can be done by the Federal Parliament it is their duty to do it in the interests o£ the people of Victoria. Whenever a debt of any one of the States becomes due, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to step in and take over that debt, and to go into the market afterwards for the purpose of renewal. But as Senator Playford said, this will have to be done gradually, and we shall find out then whether the Commonwealth or the States can best manage financial affairs. I have not the slightest doubt as to what must happen, and I am sure that other honorable senators will agree that in the future the credit, and, therefore, the power to borrow, of the Commonwealth will stand highest. We have a right to expect that the credit of the Commonwealth will be used in the interests of the whole people. It is said that the Commonwealth may have to take over a -debt of millions from one State and a debt -of only hundreds of thousands of pounds from another State. What difference does that make so far as the Commonwealth is concerned ? If the Common wealth take over debts amounting to £5,000,000 on behalf of Victoria and makes the best terms possible for that State, will not the interest be paid out of the portion of the revenue derived from the Customs returns of Victoria ? If the Commonwealth take over £500,000 on behalf of Tasmania and make the best terms possible for that State, will not the interest be payable out of the money returnable to Tasmania? I may never have had an opportunity of transacting great financial undertakings. I may never have had an opportunity of putting my name to a cheque for a million or two ; but I do not see the least difficulty in carrying out what I am now suggesting. The danger has already been pointed out that if the States be relieved of their present liabilities they will rush into others. But that has to be guarded against, and can be guarded against, by providing that any future borrowings for State purposes shall be done through the Commonwealth. In this way the Commonwealth would get control of State borrowings, which would only be Allowed when it was conclusively shown to be in the interests of the States. Unices the States are prepared to enter into an undertaking of this description, any consolidation of the debts will be delayed for a much longer period than will be to the benefit of the whole people. There is other legislation proposed in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, but I do not think there is any great necessity for dealing with it at any length. We have heard a great deal about the establishment of a High Court. I, along with others, was opposed to anything like a High Court such as is indicated in the proposed legislation of the Government. I considered that the Chief Justices of the States, vested with federal powers, would be quite sufficient, for some time, to carry out the duties. But I have come to the conclusion, after two years’ experience, that that is not the correct view - that the probability is that the States and the Commonwealth will be continually getting at loggerheads - and I am now convinced that the best thing the Federal Parliament can do is as speedily as possible to establish a
High Court. I do not -say whether the court should be composed of three or five Judges - I make no suggestion as to how it should be composed. I shall suspend my judgment until the Government put their proposals before the House and give their reasons. If those reasons are good, then I hope that I and those generally associated with me will take a reasonable view, and do what is best in the interests of the community. I hope, with Senator Playford, that we shall always be found acting in the interests of economy. We have no desire to be mean, nor yet extravagant. We wish to pay those who do the Commonwealth work adequate, but not extravagant, salaries. lara sure that in the hands of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as at present constituted, a question of this kind will be safe. There are other measures to be presented, including a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which will have ‘ my hearty support. I am not like Senator Pulsford, who says that he has no sympathy with compulsion of any kind, and yet in the same breath expresses his willingness to pass legislation compelling employers to confer with their men. .If Senator Pulsford goes that far, probably, when he hears all the arguments, he may be prepared to go the length of compulsory arbitration. Many of the other Bills in the Government programme are merely of- a machinery character, and I am sure they will be discussed with intelligence and have as much attention paid to them as was paid to similar Bills during last session. But, like other honorable senators, I would like to say a word or two in connexion with the administration of the legislation already passed, and my best course is, I think, to deal first with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. It has been said, in connexion with that Act, that the labour party have always been satisfied with the Government administration. I do not think the labour party have ever said anything to justify that view, nor do I think we have any right to be satisfied with the administration of the Act. Sub-section (gr) of section 3 distinctly stipulates that any one landing here to perform services under contract shall, unless certain conditions are observed, be deemed a prohibited immigrant. A great storm has been raised by some federal enthusiasts and great Imperialists about the treatment of the six hatters. These hatters were regarded in somewhat the same light as the poor producer, and the poor farmer - they were a persecuted lot. I. can assure honorable senators that a great deal has been said in connexion with this question, which has gone to the extent of vile misrepresentation. Even in the Senate it has been suggested that these hatters were waylaid in Victoria and almost robbed of their agreement. Nothing of the kind ever happened. These hatters were not the first persons brought into Australia under agreement - they were somewhat like the defaulters in connexion with the Customs prosecutions, in that they were the first discovered. On a previous occasion six men and five women were brought into Australia in violation of the Act, and those who were interested thought it time something should bo done. The Immigration Restriction Act was deliberately passed by this Parliament. Even honorable senators who have expressed themselves as surprised at what has happened, never raised their voice against this subsection. These hatters came to Victoria on their wav to New South Wales, and were met by the executive of the Hatters’ Union, and by another gentleman who was associated with a hat factory in Collingwood or Carlton. Instead of going to the Trades Hall with those men who are now accused of robbing and plundering, the hatters went to the other place, and were feted with bread and cheese, and very probably something stronger than water. As a matter of fact, although they had to meet the executive of the Hatters’ Union at three o’clock in the afternoon, the members of the executive never saw them until a quarter to twelve at night, when they were about to depart from Eli riders-street for Port Melbourne. It was then that one of the hatters was asked if he had any objection to furnish a copy of the agreement, and he replied - “ Here it is ; you can take it and do what you like with it.” The person to whom the agreement was handed said that he would send it over to Sydney, and that was done. Was that person not quite justified, in his own protection as a member of the Hatters’ Union, in doing what he did 1 These men were coming into this country against the law, and it does not matter whether Senator Pulsford, Senator Symon, or anybody else, likes or dislikes that law after they assisted in passing it. That these men did not come to this country in ignorance is shown by the facts. This Act was passed before the Christmas recess of 1901, and we who sympathized with it were jubilant at ouir success. In the May following a communication was sent to the Hatters’’ Union of England, and it was published in the newspapers of the hat manufacturing districts of the old country Every one of the men who came out knew that they were doing wrong, and some of them stated that they had taken the riskIt has been said that these men were to be paid the same wages as Australian hatters, and that may be granted : but they were not employed under the same conditions. There was not a word in the agreement as to the hours of work, or as to the payment for overtime. When these men were blocked at Sydney, they knew the reason why. They knew an offence had been committed, and, therefore, had nothing to complain of. It is not the hatters who complained.
– It was the Emplovers’ Federation.
– And also the Chambers of Manufacture, Chambers of Commerce, and the Stock Exchange, the members of which have very little sympathy with manual labour in any part of the world. Undoubtedly these English hatters were unionists, but some people, who do not know the difference between a non-unionist and a unionist, wrote to the newspapers and gave the public an exaggerated idea of what had taken place. It has been pointed out by Senator Pearce that legislation of this description is in force in the British Dominion of Canada, from which men have been sent away for violation of a similar provision. It has also been shown that similar cases have arisen, are arising, and will probably continue to arise for many years to come in the United States. A good deal has been said about the blocking of British subjects, but honorable senators must bear in mind that these men were never blocked, because they came ashore andhad refreshments almost every day. They were almost as free as any other people, but they were like other Customs goods - they had not been cleared, and the entry for them had not been passed. That is where the difficulty was. The individual who brought them here knew very well that he was violating the Act. He knew also that the Act did mob apply in certain circumstances, and when the men were blocked, he got them admitted under the proviso that they had special skill required in the Commonwealth. The declaration that they had special skill was not applicable to four out of the first six and to three out of the second six. The man who declin ed that they only knew of the fact by personal experience in the case of seven outof the twelve, yet he made the declaration as applicable to them all. Do not honorable senators think that if this had been done in the department of the Minister for Trade and Customs there would have been some bother about a false entry 1 I think there would, and consequently members of the labour party have no reason to be satisfied with the administration which allowed those nien to come in on the flimsy pretext that they were skilled men, when they were no more skilled than hundreds of men already in Australia. If they had any desire to become honest citizens of Australia they should come here to remain, as other people have come before them, and are coining now, under no agreement. Senator Pulsford takes very great credit to himself for the action he took at the time. The honorable senator has said - “ If an amendment I moved had been accepted, it would have done away with all the difficulty.” Certainly it would have done away with all the difficulty, but it would have left the workers in Australia in a much worse position than they are now in under the Act- The honorable senator’s proposed amendment was intended to permit of the introduction of nien who under their agreements were to be paid the wages at the time ruling in Australia. But does the honorable senator think that a protection against the operations of unprincipled individuals, whose only object is to make money, and who will make it at the sacrifice of the interests of every one else in the community 1 I know that men have been brought to South Australia under similar agreements to be paid the same wages as were ruling in the State, but it was done for no other purpose than to reduce the standard rate of wages ruling in the State at the time. I know that in 1884 some 24 bootmakers were brought to Victoria from Northamptonshire in England. I have become acquainted with many of those men since. They were to be paid the current rate of wages, and there was no Immigration Restriction Act in force. As many as liked could come out under these agreements. What was the result 1 The effect of bringing out these 24 bootmakers to a market that was just level was, in less than twelve months, to bring about a reduction of 30 per cent, in the wages being paid in the State. Any one with any sense must know how it would operate - these 24 coming out to a level market made a surplus of 24. They displaced 24 who were here already, or they kept 24 here already out of work. The result was that there were 24 men looking for work, and if they were out of work for any length of time, and had families to support, they were probably prepared to come to terms with the employers and to do the work for a little less next year. Then the 24 new men were dropped out when their agreements expired. Some of them went to Tasmania, and some to South Australia. But the desired effect took place, and wages in the boot trade were lowered by degrees in Victoria, and men suffered greatly. I am sure some honorable senators will recollect, and Senator Zeal will recollect, that ultimately it resulted in the appointment of a Royal commission to investigate the deplorable condition into which things had drifted. That shows what has been the effect of bringing out labour under contract, even though the labourers stipulate that they shall get the same wages as are already paid here. I have always believed that it is right that the interest of those who have come to Australia on their own account should be considered to some little extent, and that any one wishing to come here should come under such conditions that they may be welcomed by their fellow workers here. Every workman who comes from England is made welcome by his fellow workers here if he comes as a free man, and does not come in violation of the legislation in existence. The Government should administer this legislation in such a way as to carr)’ out the spirit of the Act, and they should not do what they did in connexion with these six hatters, who had no special skill which was not possessed by men already in Australia. There is even a worse position in connexion with the administration of sub-section (</) of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act. The Act was passed for the purpose of protecting the interests of the working classes, and of manufacturers also. Amendments were inserted in the Bill when it was going through which were intended for the protection of shipowners engaged in the coastal trade of Australia. Even Sir Malcolm McEacharn moved one amendment to the effect that immigrants should be exempted from the operation of section ‘i if they were to be employed in connexion with intercolonial shipping so long as the wages paid them were not lower than those ruling on the Australian coast. I consider that that provision has been violated in its administration by the Federal department. AVe have vessels coming to Australia from oversea, and we have no objection to any steamer or sailing vessel coming here from America, London, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Tokio, or anywhere else. They come to Fremantle, and there discharge i heir cargo for Western Australia. They come on to Adelaide, and discharge the Adelaide cargo. They come on to Melbourne and discharge the Melbourne cargo, and they go on to Sydney in the same way. They take in in Sydney the Sydney cargo for home ports, and they do the same at every other Australian port. That is legitimate business. But these oversea vessels, manned as some of them are by Japanese, Chinese, lascars, and other aliens of that description, not only carry on their foreign trade, but take what they can get of the Inter-State trade of Australia as well. I say that when they do that, according to the spirit of the sub-section to which I have referred, their crews become prohibited immigrants, as they are under contract to work for wages less than those ruling in the coastal trade of Australia. Yet the Minister for External Affairs, and even the Attorney-General, though when speaking upon the matter in the House they were prepared to give all the protection intended, declare now that this sub-section is overruled hy sub-section (k), which refers to officers and crews of such vessels landing during their stay in Australian ports. We know that landing during their stay in Australian ports has nothing to do with sub-section (</), which specially stipulates that they may do manual labour. We have no objection to the officers and crews of vessels landing at any of our ports, but while they are paid only half the wages, and live much more miserably than the seamen on our coasting boats, we have a serious objection to their entering into competition with them. We are told that they are not under the Act immigrants in the true sense of the word. They are not hereto stay. I should like to ask those whoargue in that way whether the peoplewho leave the shores of Ireland every yearand go over to England to reap the harvest returning as soon as the work is done are, or are not, immigrants? Everybody callsthem immigrants, and they are sometimessung about as “ Irish immigrants.” I contend that the crews of these vessels cominghere to Australia and doing work in competition with our sailors and shoremen are restricted immigrants. I hope that the Act will be differently administered in the near future,, and that, if not,fresh legislation will be introduced in the shape of a short Navigation Bill which will protect the interests of those whohave invested their capital in the coastingtrade of Australia, and of the men who areemployed in carrying on that trade successfully. Although it is written often, no one can ever say truthfully that thelabour party has not always considered theinterests of capital as well as the interests of labour. In this instance we are endeavouring to do so. The members of thelabour party know that under present conditions capital and labour are associated in a very peculiar manner. We know that what affects the one affects the other. Wehave no desire to do anything that will injure the interests of the honest investor in Australia, who has probably put the savings of a life time into the shares, of a shipping company, or some concern of that description. We call that honest investment, and we, as a labourparty, are prepared to assist such men, because in assisting them we assistthose whom we mora nearly represent. A lot has been said already inconnexion with old-age pensions, but I am surprised that, after the professions made and the protestations uttered by the representatives of the people when on the hustings, and even in Parliament, that they were in sympathy with the aged and infirm, of Australia, they have not done anythingup to the present time to alleviate the dis tress which exists amongst the old people.. We are told that we cannot do it, because we cannot raise the money. Why, we aredoing it to the extent of six-sevenths orseventenths in Australia at the present time. It is being done in New South Wales and in Victoria. They have done it though they never made any provision to. meet the extra expense, and consequently they have got into trouble. As in New South Wales and Victoria, old-age pensions are already being paid, there remains only about one-third of the population of the Commonwealth to be brought under the same provision. I should like to refer here to some of the difficulties which the old people labour under. There are old men and old women in Victoria and New South Wales who have spent a lifetime in Australia, and yet cannot secure the benefits of these old-age pension provisions. They have worked hard in the different States for 40 or 50 years, but they have never resided sufficiently long in any one State to be entitled to the benefit of the provision, and consequently they live in a miserable condition or in some institution for the destitute. Therefore it is more necessary that something should be done by the Commonwealth other than urging the States to undertake this .duty. All this talk by the Prime Minister, Mr. George Reid, and others, about not being able to raise £4,000,000 for the sake of giving £1,000,000 to t’ie aged and infirm has been shown to be nonsense. It has been shown that the Commonwealth has power to retain more than would pay an old-age pension to all the aged and infirm in Australia. Yet they will not undertake the duty. I am sure that Victoria and New South Wales would be glad to be relieved of their responsibility, and that they would have no objection to the amount being deducted from their surplus. I do not think there is one honorable senator so callous as not to be able to realize the position in which his aged parent might have been placed if he had had no means of support. I am sure that every honorable senator will do all in his power to bring about legislation which will relieve the aged from the necessity of want. I think that the men who constitute the Senate have some sympathy with the aged and infirm, and I hope that they will urge the Government to take some action as soon as possible, and not to wait until the “Braddon blot” ceases to exist, because most of the States, even although they may be in a flourishing condition, could do with more revenue. If a little more revenue has to be raised, the means are available. The people of Australia have not yet cried out against the burden of the Tariff. It is only Senator Pulsford who has cried out. I hope that the assistance of the Senate will be given to those who are striving to place the aged of Australia above want in the future. The Customs administration is a very interesting subject. I was pleased to listen to Senator Pulsford when he trotted out the case of that person who had dressed up a copy of the Bible in silks and laces, and brought it ashore. It must have looked a spectacle dressed in £5 worth of silks and laces. This man Tingey was a. quartermaster, and he knew that he wasviolating the law. Let me ask Senator Pulsford and other critics of the Minister,, what does he appoint tide waiters, lockers., boarding officers, and others for ?’ Is it not to see that nobody comes off a ship with goods that are dutiable? If Sena! or Pulsford were administering the law, and he saw an officer allow a sailor or other person topass out of a ship with a suspicious looking bundle, would he not think that that officerWaS neglecting his duty if he did not challenge him? I am sure that hewould. Any officer who would allow a man to come ashore from a vessel with a parcel that might contain dutiable goods withoutmaking inquiries is neglecting his duty andought to be dismissed. One peculiar feature in this case has not been taken noticeof.’ When Tingey was stopped by the officer, he said he was going to the post-office topost the parcel to a friend in New Zealand. We have the name of the quartermaster and the name of the arresting constable, but w& have no record of the name of thefriend in New Zealand for whom the parcel was brought out. Does not Senator Pulsford think that it should have borne thename of the person to whom it was beingtaken ? It is not in a post-office where such a parcel should be addressed. If any oneshould get this parcel of silk with a. copy of the Holy Scriptures, it isthe person to whom it was addressed. The absence of this person’s namemakes the thing look more suspicious to methan does anything else. Occasionally I have gone to sea in ships, and I know what takes place. It is the practice to attempt petty smuggling wherever a Customs duty is levied. Is not an honest effort to put a stop to this petty smuggling justifiable? Is it not the duty of theCustoms officers to see that petty smugglingis stopped as far as possible ? I have known sailors and workmen to come ashorefrom a vessel in Sydney Harbor with pounds of tobacco and hundreds of cigarsin the boat. On one occasion, in Balmain,. when a Customs officer turned up, the men
Jill cleared’ out of the boat. He did not know who owned the tobacco and the cigars, and all he could do was to confiscate them. With a firm administration of the law, such as now exists, this petty smuggling is bound to end. People will find out that it is too dangerous to indulge in the habit, and the revenue will benefit. We have all read stories about the smugglers. They were greatmen and their lives have been glorified to a certain extent, but the days of smuggling are gone. I hope that the Rontgen ray of fiscalism, or what might’ more appropriately be called the fiscal radium in the shape of Charles Kingston, is going to put a stop to all smuggling. All his officers are carrying out their duty to the entire satisfaction of the great majority of the people iu the Commonwealth. In the police courts, however, the same old game is still continued, if a poor woman steals a pair of boots worth 3s. oi- 4s. for the purpose of procuring bread for her starving children, she gets a sentence of six or twelve months - in some instances a couple of years. But if a bank manager is convicted of robbing the institution of £20,000 he is sentenced to only eighteen months, and very likely in gaol he is made storekeeper or cook’s assistant. When I visited the gaol in South Australia I generally found that respectable defaulters were placed in the good billets, and, no doubt, it is still done. A poor person, who brings ashore a few cigars, is punished as heavily as a person who attempts to swindle the revenue of hundreds of thousands of pounds. That is not fair, and I hope the Minister will suggest to magistrates that the punishment should be fixed in proportion to the enormity of the offence. There was another case to which Senator Pulsford referred as a case of very great hardship. A cook, named Ygberg - I wonder if he came from Yorkshire - had 2 cwt. 1 qr and some odd pounds of dirty dripping stored up in a cask. When he came to Newcastle he entered into collusion with a man called Tucker. They got the cask off the vessel, but they were caught by the Customs officers. Ygberg was charged with taking the stuff off the ship without legal authority - not with stealing it or evading the Customs - and he pleaded guilty. He’ knew when he was challenged by the Customs officer that he was found out, and like any other honest thief he had a right to acknowledge his guilt. ‘ The man who was acting in collusion with Ygberg was charged with taking the stuff from the ship with the intention of evading the Customs. He was an honest thief too, and he confessed his guilt, arideach offender was fined £5. One of them fortunately had the money to pay the fine. The other probably thought that he could not earn so much in the same time, and he went to gaol. Yet we have Senator Pulsford and others trying to make us believe that the Minister should employ a host of Customs officers at good wages to stand about the wharfs and see such things done without any interference on their part. The administration of the Customs up to the present time - with the exception that the big rogue is not punished to the same extent as the little one, and I hope that will be remedied - has been very satisfactory. I hope that in the next big case that occurs, the big rogues will be punished.
– There is a big case coming on now.
– Yes ; I know there is, and I know something about it, but I will not mention it, because it is what Senator Symon would call “sub-marine,” or something like that. I am not going to hurt- my jaws by getting out long words. I hope that the administration of the Customs will be continued in the way it has been, and I have not the slightest doubt that, in less than two years, the revenue will gain to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and no one will be dissatisfied because no one will attempt to defraud the revenue. Some hardships must occur under any legislation of this description. If Parliament passed legislation affecting the drinking habits of the country, and a man happened to be going down the street innocently intoxicated, a “bobby” would “run him in,” but he would not be a criminal. The same occurs in connexion with the administration of the Customs Act. I have heard instances quoted as hardships. I know of a case that occurred somewhere in South Australia. I will not mention names. I like to keep a close cover over misdeeds in my own State; if they happen in Victoria or New South Wales I will mention names, but I am not going to put away any of my South Australian fellow citizens.
– No one ever does wrong there.
– Oh, yes; but they do wrong innocently in South Australia. There was a gentleman who received a case of goods, and made a declaration that it contained such and such things. He was not quite sure about the contents, and he called the attention of the Customs officer to the matter, and said “ I am not certain that there may not be something else, but I cannot tell ; we had better have a look.” They had a look and there was something else. The case was not as he had described it at all. What was that man punished for ? Not for cheating the Customs - not even for attempting to cheat them ; but for making a declaration when he was not sure of the facts. I do not think that any one will defend the action of a- man who deliberately makes a declaration, which is equivalent to an oath, when he is not positive of his statement. I dare say the case was a hard one, and the man was honest, inasmuch as he had not intended to defraud. But if errors like this were allowed to go unpunished, others might carry on the same game, less innocently, in Victoria and New South Wales.
– Or in South Australia.
– No; I do not believe they would there ; but these things have been done to a very great extent in Melbourne, Sydney, and ‘Brisbane - especially in the latter city. There is nothing in many of the alleged grievances when they are sifted to the bottom. There was another individual, in whom Senator Pulsford took a great interest. This man was coming out on his last voyage to Australia. There were tears in the honorable senator’s voice as he referred to the matter.’ He endeavoured to describe the monstrous treatment which this poor individual had received. He had been trading here for years and he was as honest as the sun. - at least he had never been found out to be anything else. On this last voyage he determined to bring out some presents for a few of his friends. One item amongst the presents consisted of 30 pounds of bacon. That was a greasy sort of present to bring all the way from London to Sydney. Another consisted of some trifles in the shape of lace and similar articles - just for the ladies. Then he had another friend in the bicycle trade, for whom he brought out a lot of advertising matter. That was a very happy thought on his part. I wonder how he could tell in England that this friend of his in Sydney wanted some advertising matter in the bicycle line. Then he brought out a specimen bicycle handle. In the name of heaven, is it necessary to bring a bicycle handle all the way from England to Australia for a poor friend ? This man was “collared.” What for? They did not punish him half severely enough. He was “collared “ for removing goods from the vesselwithout the consent of the Customs officers. Do not honorable senators think that the Customs officers, who weve standing about looking after the interests of the Commonwealth, would have neglected their duty if on seeing these people bringing ashore duitable goods, they had not challenged them ? They had no right to bring them in in the first instance, and then they got up a cock and bull story about giving a fellow £5, and he was to take the goods to where the officers were standing. If the person who had the goods had got down the gangway and amongst the crowd, I am afraid that he would not have taken much trouble to find the Customs box. It may be imagined from the way I have dealt with those cases that I have a suspicious nature. I have in reference to cases of this kind, because probably when I was at sea I might have done the same things myself. At all events I know how they were done. I am not going to say that I did them, because Mr. Kingston might come done on me and make me pass an entry that I should not like. But these little instances are so glaringly in violation of the Customs Act, that if allowed to pass without notice by any Customs officers there would have been a neglect of duty that would have warranted a superior officer in the department administering censure. I trust that Senator Pulsford will show more sense in the future than to a make a song of this description. Why does he not tackle some of the big cases ? Why did he not defend Robert Reid in reference to the Brisbane case? Not a single opponent of the Government has attempted to do that. Why do not the friends of the merchants, like Senator Pulsford and Senator Symon, take the part of those who belong to the same section of the community as themselves 1 Because they dare not do it. Things have been sufficiently exposed already, and they are afraid that if they said a word things would be more exposed. Consequently they hold their; tongues. But all of a sudden they have taken a pathetic interest in the poor unfortunate individual who has no one to defend him - the poor widow and the poor orphan, who have been trotted out over and over again, figure in these cases in a different form. I think that I have now said enough in connexion with the Customs administration and those who have been trying to defend the action of persons who have attempted to swindle the people of the Commonwealth. Whether the amount which they have tried to swindle is large or small does not matter. It may be a few pence ora few shillings ; they had no right to doit. Let honorable senators opposite.devote their attention to defending those who probably have been defrauding the Customs of thousands of pounds for years past.
– Does the honorable senator say that all those who have been charged are swindlers, then ?
– Every one who cheats is a swindler. The honorable senator knows that.
– Are all those who were charged swindlers 1
– Many an innocent man has been hanged. In an institution like the Customs of the Commonwealth of Australia, where thousands of cases have to be dealt with, and so much care has to be exercised, it is possible that a little hardship may sometimes occur. That is justifiable. But every one proved guilty of fraud is a swindler. The peculiar thing in connexion with most of the prosecutions is that persons have not been prosecuted for fraud. The fraud has been proved afterwards. If a simple case of evasion or misrepresentation is brought against an individual, and it is ultimately proved that there has been unintentional- fraud, does Senator Fraser say that the Customs authorities are not justified in the action they have taken ? There are hundreds and thousands of honest merchants, as well as of honest contractors, honest members of Parliament and honest persons in other walks of life. We are prepared to respect honest people. It is in the interests of honest people, as well as of the revenue of the Commonwealth, that the Customs department should do all it possibly can to prevent fraud, or even the appearance of fraud. They have a right to make every investigation when it seems that fraud has been committed. Now, I have occupied the time of the Senate long enough. I hope that while we are sitting here we shall recognise it as our duty to do everything we possibly can to pass such legislation as will tend towards the happiness and prosperity of the Commonwealth.
– The remarks which I shall make will be very brief, seeing that the Address in Reply has been debated at considerable length. But I should be doing an injustice to my belief if I said that this address conforms to what my ideas are of the duties of the Government. No doubt the Government have great difficulty in. introducing legislation which will please the great mass of the people, but I find that the bulk -of the legislation proposed is of an unnecessary and most expensive character. It seems to me that the Government are bringing forward legislation which will provide for the wants of a lot of impecunious people at the expense of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. I was thunderstruck when Senator McGregor expressed his willingness to swallow the scheme for the establishment of a High Court, the results of which he does not apparently grasp. Does Senator- McGregor know the cost -of the administration of justice in the various States of the Commonwealth 1 Does Senator McGregor know the ‘number of officials engaged at enormous salaries in the department of Justice in Victoria ?
– Because Victoria has been extravagant, Senator Zeal will not allow the Commonwealth to have a High Court.
– That is not a fair way to put the matter. Senator McGregor does not seem to realize the position. But for his information I will give a few items which will give some idea of the immense cost of the administration of justice in the various States. I find that in the Commonwealth there are six Chief Justices and 23 Puisne Judges. I am ignoring altogether the vast number of stipendiary magistrates, District and County Court Justices who have to be paid in the different States. In New South Wales there is one Chief Justice at a salary of £3,500, and seven Puisne Judges who cost £18,200 a year. In addition to these there are a number of subordinate Judges, of whom I am not now taking any account. In Victoria there is one Chief Justice at £3,500, and five Puisne Judges at £3,000 a year each, with five County Court Judges at £1,500 a year each, and a Master in Equity at £1,800 a year; in South Australia there is one Chief Justice at £2,000, and two Puisne Judges who receive between them £3,400 a year; in Tasmania there is one Chief Justice at £1,500 a year, and two Puisne Judges who receive between them £2,400 a year; and in Western Australia there is one Chief Justice at £2,000 a year, and three Puisne Judges who receive amongst them £5,100 a year.
– South Australia Ls the best of the lot.
Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL.Probably South Australia is an economical and well-governed State, and I wish that Senator McGregor would bring his commonsense to bear in regard to the question of the Federal High Court.
– I should abolish a number of the State Judges.
– Then why should the honorable senator attempt to fasten further burdens on the people by the establishment of a High Court t
– We must have a High Court.
– I shall show presently how the Commonwealth may get a High Court. In Queensland there is one Chief Justice at £3,500 a year.
– That was a special job.
– Never mind that. In addition to a Chief Justice, there are in Queensland four Puisne Judges, who cost £8,000 a year, and four District Judges, analogous to County Court Judges who cost £4,000 a year. These figures show that, paying regard merely to the superior Judges - that is, leaving out of question the cost of working the machinery of the courts with their sheriffs, associates, bailiffs, attendants, and so forth- the administration of justice in Australia costs £S0,200 a year. The Government now, without any warrant, propose to establish a Federal High Court, with a Chief Justice at £3,500 a year, and four Judges at £3,000 a year each. It is a shame :ind an iniquity to place such a proposal before reasonable and intelligent men.
– Half the Judges in Victoria should be abolished.
– We do not desire to abolish the Judges in Victoria, the people of which State have never in a single instance repudiated any contract made. When we see that there is this enormous expenditure, it is our duty, as prudent men, to consider whether we cannot utilize our present courts to some advantage. If the Government were composed of business men, Judges would be selected from the State Courts, and asked to act as a Federal High Court, at any rate for a few years. I cannot see any difficulties which have arisen up to the present time to necessitate the establishment of a permanent High Court. If difficulties have arisen it has been because of the absence of common sense on the part of the Government in not providing proper machinery. Any man with the slightest business knowledge could in the course of a week make such an arrangement as I have suggested, and thus act justly to all classes of the community. I do not think that the labour senators, who are supposed to represent the bone and sinew of the country, can sit by and see a huge job of this kind perpetrated. If so, Senator McGregor and those associated with him ought to go to their constituents, or to the Trades Hall, and see what is thought of this proposal to establish a High Court at an enormous cost.
– And what about the cost of court buildings ?
– Unless the different States are prepared to give accommodation in the present court buildings, a special Federal High Court will have to be erected in each State. The Government should use discrimination, and see whether a High Court cannot be constituted of State Judges who have done so much credit and honour to Australia.
– Is Senator Zeal against the establishment of a Federal High Court 1
– I am against the course proposed by the Government, because I believe it is not required in our present circumstances. No one more than myself will support any useful measures introduced by the Government, but I cannot support legislation involving the payment of high salaries to a lot of people in the various States who will not have to do a day’s work in a month, while there are thousands of people in Victoria and New South Wales who have been ruined by the drought. There is another job in the proposal to establish an InterState Commission. Is that commission intended to furnish a billet for a chairman at £1,500 a year, and for three other members at £1,000 a year each ? 2 k 2
– The chairman’s salary will be more than £2,000.
– The salaries of the commissioners will be just whatever they can get, and the Commonwealth is not in a position to pay the cost involved. We want the government to be administered economically, and not a lot of people kept in idleness at large salaries. Then we are -to have a glorified individual - a sort of glorified peacock - who is to be sent to Loudon, as, I suppose, the Lord High Commissioner.
– Senator Zeal might get the billet himself.
– I would not take it.
– A High Commissioner is not wanted at the present time.
– That is so. In reply to Senator McGregor, I may say that I have been in Parliament since 1865, and I can honestly and truthfully affirm that I have never received or sought any personal benefit at the hands of any Government. At all events, I do not believe that a High Commissioner is required now, and I shall do what I can to secure a little time for consideration. A. period of 25 years is nothing in the life of a nation, but this Government in the third year of this Parliament are bringing forward measures for the constitution of a High Court, an InterState Commission, and the appointment of a High Commissioner, and I do not know what else. I cannot understand how sane people can make such monstrous proposals. I regret very much having to make these remarks about the Government who I know have had a lot of trouble. The probability is that the Government are forced into a position against which their better nature rebels.
– In the matter of the High Court, the Government are supported by the leaders of the Opposition in both Houses.
– I was surprised when Senator Symon justified the establishment of a High Court on the ground that it was recommended by the Judiciary Committee of the Federal Convention. But of whom was that committee composed ? Did it not consist wholly of lawyers ?
– Not at all.
– Who were the lay members ?
– There were several lay members ; the only omission was that of Senator Zeal.
- Senator Walker was one, but I do not know of any other ; and the most self-seeking member amongst the lot was Senator Symon.
– Is that in order, Mr. President ? Senator Zeal says that I was the most self-seeking of the members of the Judiciary Committee.
– I do not think such a remark is in order.
– I withdraw unreservedly, but Senator Symon brought the remark on himself by his persistent interruption.
Senator- Sir Josiah Symon. - Senator Zeal asked me a question, but he would not allow me to answer it when I attempted to say that Sir Alexander Peacock was a member of the Judiciary Committee, and that there was Senator Walker, and, I think, another layman with him.
– At all events I notice that the lawyers took particularly good care of themselves. With a view of encouraging Senator Symon to act without that bias of which no doubt he is unconscious in his support of the establishment of the Federal High Court, I can tell him that after our experience in “Victoria in relation to the appointment of Members of Parliament to positions in the public service, I submitted to the Federal Convention an amendment preventing lawyers who were Members of the Federal. Parliament from being eligible for high judicial office. That amendment was carried, but was eventually overborne by force of circumstances. The present law in Victoria forbids such appointments to laymen, and has worked well for many years, and no doubt that law was passed because experience had shown the inadvisability of self-seeking people in Parliament being appointed to positions which in some cases at all events they were not qualified to hold. Every honorable senator should do his utmost to preserve the purity of Parliament, and a step in that direction is to take away the temptation which is offered in the Government proposals. As to the naval agreement, I am pleased to think that the Government have made an admirable bargain. We are not in a position to go to a large expense in the way of constituting a federal navy. I point out to my honorable friends in the labour corner that, if we establish a large naval force of our own in the Commonwealth, it can only be clone by taking hardworking fisherman and seafaring men at present profitably employed upon our coasts, and placing them in positions in which their labours will not be of so much value to the community. Do not these honorable senators see that if we take only 300 fishermen away from the work which they arc now doing, and allow them to become, comparatively speaking, drones in our society, that will not be a good bargain ?
– That is right.
– I am with every honorable senator who has expressed himself” in opposition to the Government scheme to this extent : That I think it will be desirable, perhaps in the not too far distant .future, to establish an Australian Navy. I do- not dispute the desirability of such a thing, but I think that at the present time it is inopportune. What do the Government propose ? They have entered into a tentative arrangement with the Imperial Government that there shall be a naval force’ supplied for the protection of this community which I think will be unexampled in the benefits which it will confer upon Australia. Do not honorable senators know that even in the State of New South Wales the expenditure of the British Admiralty at Garden Island is very nearly equal to the whole of the colonial contribution? Will any honorable senator attempt to deny that the men of any of these ships entering our ports will spend a great deal more money here than the contribution which the States will have to make towards this subsidy? So that from the point of view of the money involved, for every pound we shall be .asked to spend, there will be two or three pounds brought into the States, and we shall have the great advantage of being able to secure the naval experience of the old country for nearly a thousand years in the constitution of a force for the protection of the Australian Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator know what the people of the old country say about the British Navy ?
– I know that Senator Higgs has got a bee in bis bonnet on the subject of the Imperial Government, and he looks at everything through his own spectacles. The honorable senator does not lack intelligence, but, unfortunately, when he brings his intellect to bear upon Imperial questions it seems to me that he looks all askew.
– The honorable senator is a republican.
– I think not. I think the honorable senator likes to pose as a republican, but it seems to me that he is an honest Australian at heart, and in the near future he will do much better than he has done in the past. If honorable senators look at some of the statements which have been published broadcast in the old country, they will see that an enormous number of vessels belonging to the British Navy are now considered to have become obsolete, though some of them may not be more than six or seven years old. Some of those vessels have cost nearly £1,000,000, and are we prepared to negotiate for the purchase of a fleet as efficient as that which the Admiralty proposes to supply when we know that the vessels of that fleet may become obsolete in six or seven years ? Would that be a good bargain ? Is that a proposition which honorable senators are prepared to recommend to their constituents ? I think not. I think that the proposal which the Imperial Government make to us to supply efficient up-to-date vessels for a certain subsidy is one which has not been paralleled for generosity by any Government existing at the present time.
– The -vessels are to be here only in times of peace, and in times of war they are to be taken away.
– The honorable senator knows quite well what that means. He knows that if a large hostile fleet is gathering in the neighbourhood of China, or of Hindustan, the Government take power to bring up the Australian fleet to those waters to crush the hostile fleet which may be intending to come down here to destroy our very existence as a nation.
– The Government here have no say in the matter.
– We cannot have half-a-dozen says in such a matter.
– As my honorable friend says, we cannot have halfadozen says in such a matter. We know that there will be an intelligent say, and we know that the Commonwealth, when contributing from her hard-earned resources a respectable sum, will not be treated unjustly or unfairly by the Imperial Government. I can to some extent understand the desire of certain people in this country to constitute a colonial navy. They are like the people who are looking after the billets proposed in the High Court. They expect to be made colonial admirals, colonial post captains, or something of the kind. But we do not want that. We desire to carry on our Government in a sensible, common-place way, and we do not invite any of the extravagances which unfortunately find a place in the GovernorGeneral’s speech.
– We might as well pay the £200,000 to Australians as to any one else.
– They will be paid. The honorable senator knows quite well that under the proposal of the Government there will be training ships, in which Australian seamen will be trained. But I say again that it would be a great misfortune if Australian seamen were taken away permanently from the useful avocations in which they are at present engaged, and put into positions in which they cannot be profitably employed. A good deal has been said about the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, and I have no desire to labour the question. It does, however, seem to me to be pitiable that the time of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth should be taken up in adjudicating upon a question about the admission of six hatters. Let honorable senators fancy for a moment the Prime Minister of England being brought from His residence to decide the case of six unfortunate men coming from Germany or Russia to Great Britain ! The thing is contemptible. The exercise of a little practical common seuse would have avoided the whole of this difficulty.
– Yes, on the part of Anderson.
– Such a thing makes us the laughing stock of the world.
– What do we care about that ?
– If the honorable senator does not cave, I do. I do not wish to be considered a fool.
– If the world laughs it will grow fat.
– Probably it will, but Senator Dawson knows very well that one gentleman who was brought out under contract, and is getting £600 a year, is going through the length and breadth of the land abusing eveiybody. Why did not the Government interfere in that case ?
– I know that statement to be absolutely incorrect. The honorable senator is referring to Mr. Tom Mann, who was not brought out under contract.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator insinuated that it was Tom Mann.
– If the cap fits, the honorable senator can wear it.
– The honorable senator should tell the truth.
– Order !
– I read it in the papers, and I believe it is true.
– The statement is not correct.
– I did not know thac it was not correct. Does the honorable senator speak from personal knowledge?
– I do ; I know from personal knowledge that it is not correct.
– It has never been denied.
– The honorable senator will very likely find the denial in the wastepaper baskets of the Age and Argus.
– Probably so; but I have no access to the waste-paper baskets of either the Age or the Argiis, and I have not seen the statement contradicted. I am telling honorable senators what I have read in the papers, and it seems to me that while the Federal Government prevented the landing of six hatters, another man has been allowed to come out here who has made it his business to abuse everybody in the community.
– The honorable senator has said that’ I have a bee in my bonnet, but I think he has a whole hive in his.
– That may be ; but I am pointing out to honorable senators of the labour party some of their inconsistencies. While they are posing as great reformers, they are backing up . the Government in proposals involving, enormous outlay, and I do not see how they can justify themselves before their constituents.
– They are not unanimous in that.
– I am very glad to hear that, and I will say for my honorable friend Senator Barrett, that I do not think there is a better man in the Parliament. I do not think the honorable senator would be a party to anything of the sort. As to the Western Australian overland railway, I do not desire to say too much upon the subject.
– It is as dead as Julius Cesar
– It has got to be decently buried yet.
– The reference to it in the opening speech seems to me to be a bit of padding put in to catch the votes of members from Western Australia. It is really one of the most outrageous and extravagant wild-cat schemes I have ever heard of in my life. That is all I shall say about it. In connexion with the question of the federal capital, a great many hard words have been said about Victorians. But I do not believe that any Victorian has ever attempted to repudiate the bargain made with New South Wales. I believe I am correct in saying that the present Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Sir George Turner, had a great deal to do with the suggestion that the federal capital should be in New South Wales, and that shows that Victorians have no desire to be unjust to the mother State. Victorians are not unfriendly to the’ proposal, and 1 defy any member of the Senate to Say that any Victorian has done anything of a hostile or unkindly nature to the Government or Parliament of New South Wales. No doubt a federal capital is necessary, and in time it will come, but I point out that it has taken .something like 100 or 110 years to work the federal capital of the United States up to its present condition. Is it necessary that we should rush this thing, probably to the great detriment of the Commonwealth, simply for the sake of obtaining popularity in certain portions of New South Wales % It may hereafter appear that a locality which has, so far, not even been thought of will be -considered more suitable for the purposes of a federal capital than any of the localities which have yet been considered and explored. I promise the Government that as soon as they can bring forward a suggestion which is worthy the acceptance of the Senate from my point of view, I shall give it my hearty support. I am not captious in the matter, and I know hundreds of Victorians who say they would not object if to-morrow the federal capital were transferred to Sydney. We in Victoria are getting nothing out of this Federal Government. We can very well do without it, as we have done before, and we have no wish to secure one pound to which we are not justly entitled.’ I have one thing more to say, and it is that I am very sorry to have noticed the constant persecutions, as they seem to me, on the part of the Customs department. Senator Playford has been a Commissioner of Customs, and Senator Best has also been a Commissioner of Customs ; in Victoria we have had some of the most democratic men who have entered Parliament holding the position, but until the advent of the present Federal Government we never heard of such persecutions as have occurred recently over the length and breadth of Australia. I say that with regret. At the initiation of any new legislation we know that errors will naturally occur, but let us be just and generous, and let us not treat men as rogues and vagabonds, simply because mistakes are made. Let the right honorable gentleman presiding over the department use his great common sense and discretion.
– There are thousands who have not been brought before the court yet.
– That only shows that there is no necessity for it. No man will shield a person who does wrong, and I ask for consideration only for people who do not intend to do wrong. There are firms which to my knowledge have been doing business in Victoria for upwards of half a century, and against whom no reproach can be brought, and yet they have been charged with almost criminal offences. Is that desirable or necessary? Cannot some restraining influence be placed upon the acts of an impetuous Minister?
– Would the honorable senator like a back parlour for the big ones 1.
– No. I should not like a back parlour for the big ones, so the honorable senator gains nothing by that interjection. The honorable senator must be a very hardened sinner if he can think that I desire that injustice should be done to poor men, and that wealthy men should go free. I desire nothing of the kind. I desire that every one should get justice, and I am sure that is also the desire of Senator McGregor. I hope that the honorable senators representing the Government in this Chamber will- note that many members of the Senate would- like to see a greater amount of discretion used in dealing with these cases, so that men may not be thrust into court in the position of criminals until it is clear that they have been guilty of an offence. It is a principle of British law that no man shall be considered guilty until his guilt has been proved, but here the Federal Government apparently consider that a man is guilty if he has introduced some article which is not properly described in his manifest, or if he has committed some venial offence which might very well be dealt with by the Minister under more equitable conditions. Before I resume my seat, I desire to point out the position into which we are drifting. The different States owe very nearly £250,000,000. These obligations cannot be repudiated, and will have to be met. If we are not careful in administering the affairs of the Commonwealth, if the programme is carried out which is foreshadowed in the opening speech, a very large federal debt will be incurred very shortly for useless and ornamental purposes. When I mention that the federal debt of the United States is £60,000,000 less than the aggregate debt of the six States in this Commonwealth, it will be seen what a position we have allowed ourselves to drift into. In 1902 the federal debt of the United States was £190,701,554.
– There are the State debts in addition to the federal debt.
– We have a long way to go to get up to that amount.
– Tn Australia the States owe nearly £250,000,000. The Australians have a larger debt per head than have any other civilized people. Does Senator McGregor intend to make the conditions of life ten times more difficult than they are now? I ask him as an honest, sensible man to review the position, and not to be carried away by his loyalty to the Government into voting for that terrible High Court. Let him see if he cannot suggest to the Government a tribunal which will be equally as efficacious and not so costly. Other communities are enabled to carry on their public affairs at a moderate expenditure, but in the Commonwealth and the various States Ave have gone to the very pinnacle of outlay and extravagance in endeavouring to emulate the example of -wealth and intellect in the old country. Let us consider what salaries are paid in Amenca. I was surprised to find that the Chief Justice receives only £2,100 and the associate Judges £2,000. It is deliberately proposed in this little Commonwealth that we should start our High Court with a Chief Justice at £3,500 and four Puisne Judges at £3,000 each.
– In Victoria the Judges are paid that much.
– If we have done wrong in Victoria is that any reason why the Commonwealth should follow our example. On the contrary it should serve as a beacon and a warning to the Commonwealth. The American ambassador to London - the Hon. J. H. Choate, who is a very intellectual and highly capable man - gets a salary of £3,500. I have no doubt that our Government will deliberately propose that our Lord High Peacock shall receive a salary of at least £3,500. The Consul-General for the United States in London is paid only’ £1,000 a year. The Americans are keenly alive to economy in the transaction of their publicbusiness. In Canada the Chief Justice is paid £1,644, while the five Puisne Judges get £1,440 each. Having ‘regard to our conditions of life, I think these salaries are altogether too low. But these figures should teach us that in other communities economy is exercised, and that while they endeavour to obtain highly efficient officers they do not run to the opposite extreme of giving huge salaries. I have often heard a member of the legal profession say - What is a salary of £3,500 for a Judge when he made in his practice at the bar Jfc’5,000 or £6,000 a year? In this State eminent barristers have been able to earn up to £10,000 a year. In reply to this I ask - is there nothing in the distinction of being made a J udge of the High Court of Australia ? It appears to me that in the United States a Federal Judgeship carries a great deal of distinction. I ask honorable senators, when they are considering the Bill for the appointment of Judges of the High Court to consider the provision made upon the retirement of a Judge when he gets beyond the period of efficient service. What would that provision represent? An annuity of £1,750 to a Judge between 50 and 60 years of age would cost about £30,000. That sum, therefore, represents what a barrister would have to save during active practice to be able to purchase an annuity at the end of his period of usefulness. This large sum should, in all fairness, be added to the amount of the Judge’s salary. In no other position of life could an eminent man obtain that annuity unless lie had accumulated the large sum of £30,000. I again repeat that I am not opposed to the creation of the High Court from any factious purpose. I ask the Government to reconsider their position. I am quite sure that they cannot justify such expenditure to the people, when the real facts become known. They cannot justify the introduction of legislation which will involve an expenditure of from £250,000 to £300,000 per annum when it is not required. Ministers owe a duty - not only to themselves, but to their States and to their reputations - to see that it shall not be recorded that the first Government of the Commonwealth were responsible for measures which laid such burdens on the community, that their ill-effects will have to be’ borne for possibly half - a - century. In conclusion, I ask Senator McGregor to think more over the question of the High Court, and not to give his vote inadvisedly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That there be laid on the table of the Senato copies of all papers in connexion with the retirement ofLt. -Cols. Braithwaite and Reay.
Last week I asked the Postmaster- General a question about an important matter in connexion with these two officers. To me his reply was somewhat startling, because I think it is the duty of the Government on all occasions to furnish the members of theSenate with information on public affairs. The answer I received was that the Government thought that nogood purpose would be served by producing the papers, and they suggested that I should not press the question. I felt that inasmuch as the two officers were suffering an injustice, and as they desired to probe the matter to the bottom I had no option but to give notice of this motion. At this juncturel do not propose to go into the merits of the case. All I am now seeking to do is to elicit from the Senate sufficient information to attain my purpose, and at a later stage, when we may be considering the Defence Bill, or a Supply Bill, to go more f ully into the facts of the case, in order to ensure that justice shall be done. Originally, the Victorian Mounted Rifles were organized by Col. Tom. Price, who was in command for a number of years, and on his retirement with a view to take up another position, the next officer in command was Lieut.-Col. Braithwaite. Both Lieut. - Col. Braithwaite and Lieut.-Col. Reay have seen very long service ; the former has served 18 years, and the latter 24 years. Neither officer has ever received a penny from the State in connexion with the office he has held. No doubt they have had to spend large sums out of their own pockets in order to provide horses and other equipment. They were purely citizen soldiers, and, considering that they were enthusiastic officers, they ought to have received more consideration from the Minister for Defence than they did. “What happened ? At the last Easter Encampment the General Officer Commanding proposed to put another officer over their heads. In order to accomplish his purpose, and at the same time not to break the regulation, he added twenty men to the Victorian Mounted Rifles, thereby raising the regiment to a brigade. He then said that there was a need for an . instructional officer, and the result was that Lieut.-Col. Lee came upon the scene from New South “Wales. I have nothing to say of that officer, except that he was considerably junior in rank to Lieut.Cols. Braithwaite and Reay. He had to be promoted on two occasions very rapidly in order to obtain the position in the Victorian Mounted Rifles. When the statement was made that they required an instructional officer, who had seen service in South Africa, to take the command; Lieut.Col. Braithwaite, who- had been promoted more quickly than Lieut.-Col. Reay, refused to take a subordinate position. He was told in effect that he still had his command, and that Lieut.-Col. Lee was simply to act as an instructional officer, but he would not accept a position of that character. He asked to be retired. The same thing happened in regard to Lieut.-Col. Reay, who felt that an injustice had been done. The only blunder that these officers made, in my opinion, was that they asked to be retiree! under these conditions. Of course I shall be told by the representative of the Government that the officers did ask, and have been retired. Their retirement was gazetted this week.
– The honorable senator will not be told that. I have told him that I am not going to oppose this motion.
– At any rate there is evidently something in the background. There is evidence in -the documents, and in the conduct of our military system, of a want of sympathy with our Australian citizen soldiers. A similar case occurred in New South Wales. It was the case of Lieut.-Col. Burns.
– Does the honorable senator think that is relevant to the motion, which is only for the production of papers ?
– I was going to illustrate the difference between similar cases in New South Wales and Victoria.
– If the honorable senator were arguing the case he could introduce this illustration, but he is only asking for the production of papers.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I shall take another opportunity, when I have wider latitude, to show the differences. It cannot be said that the two officers in question are incompetent men. because if they were incompetent they should not have remained in the positions they occupied for so long a time. In addition to that, both of them have received commendation from Major-General Hutton for the way they have behaved in the field, and also for the conduct of the men serving under them. Under the circumstances, I think that the papers ought to be laid upon the table of the Senate, in order that any honorable senator who desires to look into them may have the opportunity of so doing. As I have stated, I do not intend to go further into the question at this stage, but I have indicated my intention of showing that there are some points that ought to be illustrated, and that I shall bring them forward on another occasion.
– It is not the intention of the Government, as I have already informed Senator Barrett, to offer any objection to the production of these papers. The answer that was given last Thursday to a question as to whether the Government would lay the papers upon the table was as follows : -
The Government is of opinion that uo good purpose would be served by doing so, and would suggest to the honorable member not to press the question.
The honorable senator, by his motion, now shows that he does not accept that suggestion. The Government will, therefore, accept the motion and produce the papers. At the same time, on behalf of the Government, I disclaim any responsibility with regard to the effect that the production of the papers may possibly have upon private interests.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That in the opinion of the Senate it is advisable that the manufacture of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes should be a national monopoly.
I wish to thank the representative of the Government and the Senate for having afforded me the opportunity - for which I waited during the greater part of last session - of bringing forward my motion at so early a stage of the present session. I know very well that one of the questions that will arise first of all is as to whether the Commonwealth has the power to carry out tha, purpose of this motion. I may point out that the Government has appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the desirability of encouraging, by means of bonuses, the manufacture of iron, and inferentially the possibility of the Commonwealth taking up the construction of ironworks and working them. During the present week that Commission resolved to obtain a legal opinion from the Attorney-General on that very question. Therefore, J take it, that it is an open question whether the Commonwealth has the power to establish a Government institution of the kind, but that the evidence is in favour of their having such power.
– Would it not be better to wait until we have the opinion of the Attorney-General
– I presume that we have the power. Another question that will arise is that this subject is not within the region of practical politics. We ought not to assume that the only things which are within the region of practical politics ave those which have been formally dealt with by some other Government or Parliament. If a matter is in the interests of the Commonwealth, we should not hesitate to step out of the rut, and one reason why I and others advocate that the manufacture and sale of tobacco, cigars and cigarettes should be a national monopoly is that at the present ‘ time it is practically a monopoly. The tobacco trade is one of those businesses which from its very nature and character becomes a monopoly. Experience in Australia shows that it is becoming a monopoly ; experience in America has shown that it is one of the big monopolies existing there. A great trust controls the tobacco industry of America at the present time. An attempt has been made to introduce the operations of the trust into the United Kingdom. It has failed for the time being.
– No ; the two parties have agreed now.
– At any rate, it is clear that the tendency is for the tobacco trade to become a monopoly. We can lay it down as a safe axiom that where a trade becomes a monopoly, it is advisable that the Government should step in, and make it a national monopoly. That is one of the grounds upon which I claim that the tobacco trade should be made a national monopoly. Another ground is that one of the requirements of the States of Australia is revenue. On all hands that is admitted. In connexion with any new work that is required, the cry is that there is not sufficient revenue. Do we want a federal capital 1 There is not sufficient revenue. The Western Australian railway must wait. We have not sufficient revenue. For the same reason old-age pensions must wait. Every one of these questions which has some basis of virtue in it, must wait until we have sufficent revenue. If I can show - and I think I shall be able to do so beyond the possibility of disproof - that we can increase our revenue, in a direction where we shall not have to give back a proportion of the return to the States, by upwards of a million pounds sterling per annum - whilst leaving unimpaired other sources of taxation - I shall be doing some service to the Commonwealth. A special reason in favour of this motion is that by adopting the principle of making the tobacco industry a national monopoly we shall be giving encouragement to tobacco growing in Australia. None can deny that that would be a very good thing. Attempts have been made on various occasions to encourage the growth of tobacco, especially in Victoria. But what has been the result ? A certain amount of encouragement was given to the. growers by the Government, but owing to the monopoly which existed they were placed in the hands of the manufacturers, who destroyed the protection afforded to them by the Tariff - who by combination were able to keep down the price of leaf. Another point is, that the policy I advocate would insure the good quality of the tobacco. I have here a report from the select committee appointed by the Legislative Assembly of Victoria to look into the question. That committee was appointed in 1896, and some of the evidence which this document contains as to the kind of stuff that goes into the manufacture of the cheaper kinds of tobacco is startling. It seems to me that anything but tobacco leaf is considered good enough to use. By establishing a national monopoly, we shall insure to the growers, a fair price for their leaf. We cannot do that by tariff protection as has been abundantly proved. You may raise the price of tobacco by protection, and yet not secure to the local grower Id. per lb. more for his leaf. But by making the State the buyer we shall insure to the grower a fair and remunerative price. The evidence given by experts who have been growing tobacco in various parts of the world, and by those who have been concerned in its manufacture both in Europe and America, was to the effect that a large portion of Victoria is admirably suited for the production of tobacco leaf. Inferentially - considering the similarity of Victoria to other parts of the Commonwealth - there is a large portion of this continent which is suitable for the same purpose. What I propose is no new departure. In several other countries, although notin any English-speaking country, the manufacture of tobacco and its sale have been a State monopoly for many years. In France it has been a State monopoly since 1621 ; in Italy since 1S62 ; in Hungary since I860 ; and in Roumania since 1869. The manufacture and sale of tobacco has been a State monopoly also in Paraguay and Austria, and a limited system of State ownership has prevailed in Spain and Turkey. In Germany, as the records show, Prince Bismarck was an enthusiastic supporter of this principle, and endeavoured to bring into actual practice a Government monopoly in the manufacture of tobacco. His reason was not that he believed in socialism, but that he saw what a splendid revenue producer the system would be. In the interests of revenue, and to counteract the great influence of France, he wanted to establish this monopoly; but the Reichstag would not give it to him. Now, as to profits. In France, in 1894, the gross revenue derived from this monopoly was £15,032,195. In 1889 the gross revenue was £14,900,000, and the net revenue was £12,000,000. In Italy, in 1889-90, the gross proceeds amounted to £7,441,621, and the net profits to £5,705,990. In Portugal, where the monopoly is farmed out by the Government, the revenue derived in 1890 was £1,600,000. In Hungary, in 1S91, the gross returns were £4,600,000, and the net profits £2,700,000. In France, in 1883, the consumption of tobacco was 78,691, SOO lbs. of tobacco, and the gross proceeds were £14,900,000, or 3s. 9£d. per lb., the net profit being £12,142,000, or 3s. Id. per lb. The cost of manufacture and sale in France was 8Ad. per lb- I quote these figures because I purpose showing later on what the estimated cost of manufacture would be in Australia. In my calculations, however, I have allowed for the higher cost of production in this country. According to tHe’ evidence as reported on page 54 of the report of the Victorian Select Committee, . the cost of production, with Australian wages and Australian working conditions, would be ls. 5d. per lb., which is 9d., or more than 50 per cent., higher than the cost of production in France. On making a comparison between the consumption -in France and the consumption in Australia, we find that in the former country it is 29 oz. per head, and in Australia 41 oz. per head. The actual consumption in Australia of imported tobacco is ‘4,909,976 lbs., and of locallymanufactured tobacco, 4,268,446 lbs. It will be noticed that the locally-manufactured tobacco consumed in Australia amounts to almost as much as the imported tobacco, so that the Australian industry already practically meets the demands of half the local consumption.
– But the tobacco manufactured locally is manufactured from imported leaf.
– That is so. Of the importations, S5 per cent, is tobacco, 6 per cent, is cigars, and 9 per cent, is cigarettes, and from these- figures, having regard to the cost of production and the sale price, we are able to ascertain the profit that can be made on the various items. Of the total consumption in Australia, 7,749,640 lbs. is tobacco, 576,765 lbs. cigars, and 853,017 lbs. cigarettes - a total of 9,179,422 lbs. It must be remembered, however, that in the process of manufacture there is a waste of one-third of the leaf, and, therefore, in order to obtain 9,179,4.22 lbs. of manufactured tobacco there must be used something like 1 2,000,000 lbs. of leaf. As to the locally-manufactured tobacco and its distribution, New South Wales manufactured 2,081, 1.S6 lbs. of tobacco, 15,569 lbs. of cigars, and 288,240 lbs. of cigarettes : Victoria, 1,127,067 lbs. of tobacco, 95,102 lbs. of cigars, and 206,697 lbs. of cigarettes ; Queensland, 591,364 lbs. of tobacco, 2,135 lbs. of cigars, and 21,998 lbs. of cigarettes; Western Australia, 115,855 lbs. of tobacco, 14,263 lbs. of cigars, and 10,500 lbs. of cigarettes ; and South Australia, 300,000 lbs. of tobacco, 15,000 lbs. of cigars, and 25,000 lbs. of cigarettes. I quote these figures to show that my estimate of the compensation for buildings, plant, ite, is a fair one. If honorable senators observe the figures they will see that Victoria is responsible for about one-third of the production of Australia ; and in estimating the cost of compensation for buildings, and interest thereon, I have calculated that there will have to be expended about twothirds more than was estimated by the select committee under this head. By adding this two-thirds more, I think I have made a fair estimate of the cost of compensation, and of the additional works which will be necessary in order to meet the whole requirements of Australia. The Australian production of leaf in 1901 was 8,164 cwt., and this was grown principally in Victoria.
– I thought the production of leaf in New South Wales was much larger than that in Victoria.
– In estimating the cost of production, the first thing to be ascertained is the price of the leaf, and this latter I have fixed at 8d. per lb. I may say, however, that the price which the growers have been getting in Victoria is nearer 4d., and it has been as low as 2d. per lb. I could give from the evidence given before the select committee numbers of instances of growers who said they would be perfectly satisfied with a return of Gd. per lb. for the lower qualities, and of 9d. per lb. for the higher qualities. One reason for the low prices is that growers in Australia have not acquired facilities for curing the leaf. It is true that the leaf grown in Australia is as good as the leaf grown anywhere else, but owing to the deficiencies which are shown in the curing, higher prices are not obtainable. Evidence was also given before the select committee by foreigners, who had carried on the business in other countries, to the effect that the best American leaf can be obtained here at from 7d. to Sci. per lb., so that, if anything, my estimate of Sd. per lb. is a little too high. The purchase of 12,239,229 lbs. of leaf at Sd. means £407,974, and the cost of manufacturing 7,800,500 lbs. of tobacco at 8£d. per lb. is £267,934. The expert evidence given before the commission, and borne out by several manufacturers, allows 12 lbs. of cigars to the 1,000, and shows the cost of manufacture to be £2 8s. 9d. per 1,000, or £104,785 for the 536,835 lbs. Of cigarettes 1,000 go to make 2V lbs., so that 842,087 lbs. of cigarettes would represent 336,834,000 cigarettes, at a cost of production, as shown on page 41 of the report, of £49,763. Putting these figures together, they show a total of £407,974 for the purchase of the leaf, £267,934 for the manufacture of tobacco, £104,785 for the manufacture of cigars, and £49,763 for the manufacture of cigarettes. This gives the total cost of production as £830,456. As to the question of compensation, the number of factories in Victoria in 1895 was estimated .to be fourteen, but I am informed that that number has decreased owing to the monopoly in the trade. Of course, this means that less will be required for compensation ; but I take the figures of 1895, and I find that he value of the machinery was then £39,080 ; of land, £43,0S0 ; and of buildings, £42920 ; showing a total value for the purposes of resumption of £125,080. Victoria produces less than one-third of the locally manufactured tobacco, so that £375,240 is- the sum which is estimated to be necessary to purchase all the machinery, land, and buildings now employed in the tobacco trade of Australia.
– How about goodwill ?
– I am not allowing anything for goodwill, and I may say that the select committee made no such allowance. Indeed, I am not convinced that it would be right to give any compensation for goodwill, because this is a licensed business, carried on with the consent of the State. I have estimated that £500,000 will be necessary for the purchase of new machinery and buildings. That estimate is formed with the idea of supplying all the requirements now met by the importation ; but I deduct £100,000 from that amount, because I believe that by a system of centralization in the case of Victoria, and by reducing the fourteen factories to two or three, as could be done under State control, the larger amount will not be required. This leaves a sum of £375,240 for compensation, and £400,000 for new machinery and buildings sufficient to meet the requirements of the whole of Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that the total cost of resumption’ and new buildings is about £775,240. On that amount I have reckoned 4 per cent, as interest, which means £31,763, or a total expenditure of £862,219. As to receipts, I have not taken the evidence given before the commission, but have taken the ruling prices of tobacco in the shops in Victoria and in the State from which I come. I have not taken the highest price, but the average price. In the case of cigars, where the prices range very high, it would not befair to take the mean between the highest and the lowest, and I have therefore taken a price a little below halfway’. In the matter of tobacco, however, I have taken the average sale price, and estimate that 7,800,500 lbs. of tobacco will realize 6s. per lb., showing a return of- £2,340,150. Then if we take 44,736,000 cigars, representing 536,835 lbs., at £8 10s. per 1,000, we get £3S0,056 : and 336,834,000 cigarettes, representing 842,087 lbs., at 35s. per 1,000, means £589,459.
– Will the Government not sell at wholesale prices ?
– No ; I am taking the selling price, and my idea is that we should allow private individuals to sell and give a 10 per cent, rebate as retailers’ profit.
– . The honorable member estimates the selling price at 6s. a lb., but I can buy the best Victory tobacco, manufactured in the United States, at 5s.
– The price I have given is the price quoted to me. According to my calculations there will be a revenue of £3,309,665. The retailers’ profit, 10 per cent., would amount to £330,960, the cost of production to £830,456, and interest to £31,763, or a total of £1,193,179, . and deducting that from the gross receipts we have a net profit of £2,116,486. I know that the question will at once be raised that with a State monopoly we should lose the revenue from Customs and Excise. That has to be taken into consideration. We should not then be collecting Customs and Excise, and the revenue from those sources must be set down as a debit against the £2, 1 1 6, 4S6. In calculating the amount to be debited as receipts from Customs, I have taken the highest receipts from that source. I could, of course, have made this statement appear more favorable by going back to 1899, when the receipts from narcotics were very much lower than they ave at present. I have taken the highest receipts - those for the quarter ending 31st March, 1903, leaving out the collections under the Western Australian special Tariff. During that quarter there was received from Customs duties upon tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, £238,532 ls. Prom Excise, £110,777 8s. 5d., and from tobacco and cigar licences, £861 1.0s. 5d., or a total for the quarter of £350,170 19s. 10d., giving a return for twelve months of £1,400,683 19s. 4d. The Treasurer’s estimate for the year is £1,325,524. The average cost of collection of Customs duties is stated at 3 per cent., and 3 per cent, on that total amount would give £42,018, leaving a balance to be deducted from the revenue of £2,116,486 I have indicated, of £1,358,665. That would give us a clear balance of £757,821 profit.
– Has the honorable senator deducted the cost of borrowed money for the purchase of land, and buildings, and so on ?
– Yes, I have deducted 4 per cent.
– And the cost of material ?
– Yes, I have allowed for the cost- of material also.
– How did the honorable senator arrive ‘at the cost of material ?
– I explained that, when referring to the cost of material and building, I quoted an estimate.
– I meant the cost of tobacco leaf, and so on.
– I have dealt with that also. I have here quotations which I have received from tobacconists as to the cost of tobacco. One tobacconist doing a large business gives the imported cost of tobacco at an average of 5s. Id. per lb., and the retail price as from 6s. to 6s. 6d. per lb. The wholesale cost of colonial plug tobacco is 4s. 3d. per lb., and this is retailed at 6s. per lb. I am informed that imported tinned tobacco - cutup tobacco - costs wholesale 6s. 4d. per lb., and it is retailed at 8s. per lb., whilst colonial tinned tobacco costs wholesale 4s. 6d. per lb., and is retailed at 6s. It will therefore be seen that, in allowing for an average selling price of 6s. in my calculations, I have not quoted too high a price.
– Is this a convenient opportunity to ask what the honorable senator would do with the vested interests of men at present selling ?
– I have said what I would do with the vested interests concerned. I should not advocate buying out existing sellers. I see no reason why they should not be allowed to continue their business.
– But the honorable senator would buv up the factories.
– Yes, I think we should buy up the factories.
– What would that cost?.
– I admit that it is impossible to bring about a violent revolution in a trade, such as this would be, without treading upon somebody’s toes, but if we were to compensate every boy who runs about the street selling tobacco, and were to inquire fully into the books of every tobacconist in order that we might give him an exact quid pro’ quo, we should so overload the scheme as to render it unprofitable for some years. I say, that if we could give to those concerned the value of what they have at present in possession, in the shape of machinery, land, and buildings, we should be doing a very fair thing. As I have already pointed out, this business is a monopoly, and the profits find goodwill of the business are immensely increased by the fact that it is a monopoly. As in the case o£ the drink monopoly, which differs, perhaps, in the sense that it is a ‘licensed monopoly, I a not in favour of compensating the individuals interested to the extent of the full value of the monopoly which has never been given to them by the people, but which has been acquired by them through the conditions under which the industry is carried on.
– Anybody may go into the business.
– I should like the honorable senator to try to go into the tobacco business in Victoria. He .would find that the experience of some of his fellow citizens of Adelaide would very speedily be his own, and he would be scorched out or bought out by the monopoly which, exists in all the capital cities of Australia. I know that honorable senators will not have an opportunity of dealing with this question to-night, but the figures to which I have referred will appear in Flansard, and I ask honorable senators to study those figures.
– What does the honorable senator estimate as the total profit to be made in the business ?
– My estimate is £757,821 per annum.
– Apart from Customs and Excise.
-Apart from Customs, Excise, licences, and deductions for compensation, and so on. I recommend honorable senators to study the figures I have given in the light of the report sent in by the Select Committee of the Victorian. Legislative Assembly. There were prominent members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly upon that committee, and their recommendation was strongly in favour of the Government of Victoria taking over the business. But they pointed out, strangely enough, that one objection to that course was that the States were not federated, and that one State would therefore have a difficulty ‘in taking over the business alone.
– Victoria did not rush it.
– No. Victoria did not rush it, but the members of the Select Committee were of opinion that many advantages wore to be derived from a State monopoly of the tobacco trade, and, amongst others, they referred to increased revenue, better quality of tobacco supplied to consumers, the encouragement of Victorian farmers to grow tobacco, and increased employment of the people.
– I think they say at the commencement of their report that they had not had time to go into the matter so fully as they should like to have done.
– They expressed . their ‘ regret that they were not able to make a more complete investigation. I may say that the members of the Select Committee would have liked, no doubt, to go to France in order that they might study the State monopoly there on the spot. They were, however, able to get from the Italian Consul, a man who was in close touch with the monopoly in his own country, full information of the working of the monopoly there. It seems a strange circumstance, and one which, I think, bears out my contention that there has never been ‘the slightest indication in Italy and France to depart from the system of a State monopoly in the trade.
– But they make very bad tobacco in France, or did when I was there.
– That is not borne out by evidence given before the Victorian . Select Committee. There were witnesses before that committee who said that, after having been in France and having used French tobacco, when they went to America they could not smoke tobacco, and have inquired at the shops there for French tobacco. It is a significant fact also that France not only supplies the requirements of .her own people, but also exports tobacco.
– lt is a matter of taste.
– Perhaps the taste for French tobacco must be acquired. -I thank honorable senators for having listened to what may appear somewhat like a debating society speech, but I think we are right in bringing forward these questions and inquiring into them. We must recognise that in Australia we have before us the necessity for the construction of immense works for water conservation and irrigation. The borrowing policy of Australia has come to an end, and these works must, therefore, be constructed out of revenue. In the circumstances, I say that the man who can point to new methods of getting revenue, which will not add to the burdens already resting upon the people, is doing a public service. I therefore hope that honorable senators will not set this matter aside with a wave of the hand, simply because it is a socialistic proposal. They will remember that Australia is to-day benefiting from the State ‘ control of many things which in other countries are in the hands of private enterprise. Private monopolies in other countries are here State monopolies, and there are not many people in Australia to-day ‘ who would advocate the handing over of the State railways to private enterprise. I remember that not long ago a member of the Victorian Chamber of . Commerce speaking upon a shipping question said that the time might yet come when they would have to advocate State ownership of shipping, and he expressed a hope that the State would never lose its control of the railways. I say that in this tobacco industry we have a most . magnificent revenue producing industry, and seeing that it is now a monopoly, the Commonwealth would be justified in taking control of that monopoly in the interests of the people of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday next, at half-past two o’clock p.m.
In submitting this motion, I should like, for the convenience of honorable senators, to state the order in which the Government propose to toko their business. As I have already informed several honorable senators, we propose first of all to take the Draft Standing Orders, and next the Vancouver mail agreement, notice of which I gave this afternoon. The next measure I propose to take is the Senate Elections Bill, after - that the Naturalization Bill, which is not yet before the Senate, and then the Patents Bill. Of course that order will be subject to contingencies in case of anything urgent arising or possibly other business coming forward, but I wish to give honorable senators a general idea of the order in which we propose to take the business. There will be, for instance, the Eastern Extension Company’s agreement, with regard to which a motion will be brought forward here as soon as we learn that the agreement has been signed in London. I may mention also on behalf of the Government and for the guidance of honorable senators, that in an- - other place the High Court Bill will be taken first, then the Procedure Bill. Then there is a measure relating to what are generally referred to as the sugar rebates. After that will be considered the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and the Naval Subsidy. This arrangement, of course, will be subject to contingencies in the same way as the order of business proposed for. this Chamber. The report with regard to the federal areas is expected soon, and that matter will then be dealt with in the other Chamber. I make this announcement in order to convenience honorable senators in the arrangement of their own business affairs. I think we have now within sight enough business to keep us fully occupied until measures arrive from another place. I therefore expect that from this time we shall have plenty to do, and I hope . we shall have full attendances, and will be able to sit on all the days prescribed by the sessional order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030604_senate_1_13/>.