1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (consideration resumed from 17th June, vide page 1011) :
Standing Order 421 -
The following motions are not open to debate shall he moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be forthwith put by the President from the Chair and the vote taken : -
– I move -
That paragraph (a) be omitted.
During the past two years we have not been permitted by the temporary standing orders to debate the final motion for adjournment. In the majority of British Legislatures the rule is to permit a member, on that motion, to mention matters which require redress. At the present time we can only mention a matter which appears to be of urgency, by going through the undesirable process of moving the adjournment of the Senate, interrupting the whole business, and perhaps provoking a debate which may last hours on a question which might fairly be dealt with in a few moments at the end of the sitting. It must be patent to honorable senators that it is an undesirable thing to be continually upsetting the whole course of business by formally moving the adjournment of the Senate at the commencement of the sitting. I believe that it would make for the saving of time if we had, as the members of other Legislatures have, the opportunity of dealing with matters of grievance and urgency on the final motion for adjournment.
– I presume that the members of the Standing Orders Committee had some good reason for putting this provision in the rule, and I can hardly understand its being struck out without a word from some member of that body. It appears to me that if the other two motions are. to be put without argument or opinion offered, it is necessary to impose that limitation also in the case of the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. The right to debate the motion should not be given unless it is carefully safeguarded, and then it might, on special occasions, be of advantage in enabling honorable senators to ask questions, as they do sometimes. If it could be moved at any time and debated we might as well give up all attempts to regulate business. 1 should like to hear some opinions offered before the question is put.
– I have stated once or twice, and I think that the statement is incontrovertible, . thatall these standing orders are designed to introduce the most convenient practice for getting on with the business of the country. For over two years this rule has been in force. Has it led to any inconvenience ? Has it not worked well ? If that is so, why not leave it as it is ? I do not for a moment suggest that it involves any great principle. The majority of the standing orders are regulations for the conduct of our own business. I have lived under this rule for 35 years, and have never known it to work inconvenience. I do not think that any one can say that it has worked inconvenience in the Senate. Before the business of the day is called on, honorable senators have an opportunity of bringing forward any question which they think ought to be submitted at once. Is not that sufficient? They will also have the opportunity of ventilating any grievance which they may have whenever a Bill which the Senate may not amend comes from the other House. Is not that sufficient? I ask the Committee to consider this matter simply from the business point of view. Shall we get on better with the rule or without it? If the motion is to be debated, it certainly will be very inconvenient to some senators, especially on a Friday. I think that we should consider not only the convenience of the Senate, but the convenience of its members generally. There is no doubt that every senator must put aside his own convenience if the business of the Senate demands it. But will it not give unnecessary opportunities for debate if the paragraph is omitted? I hope that the rule will stand as printed.
– Although I am a member of the Standing Orders Committee, still I am unfortunately in conflict with Senator Baker on this question. When I found that under the temporary rules it was impossible to debate a matter on the final motion of adjournment I was quite astounded, for I had no idea that the Parliament of any State had such a rule in its code. Senator Baker has said that he has lived under the rule for a great many years. Those of us who come from New South Wales, and I believe those who representVictoria and Queensland, have lived under an entirely different rule. That fact might be regarded as a very strong reason why the amendment should be carried. It is perfectly true, as Senator Baker has said, that if an important matter arises which requires debate and consideration, a senator may move the adjournment of the Senate at the beginning of the sitting. But it should be borne in mind that only one such motion can be moved on the same day, and that it must relate to one subject matter. In the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, where the adjournment was very frequently moved at the beginning of the sitting, the standing order had to be altered so as to provide that it could only be moved -
For the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, the subject of which shall be first stated to the Speaker in writing.
A small box resembling a ballot-box was provided by the Speaker for the reception of these notices, and on some occasions as many as eight or ten notices would be placed in the box by honorable members who desired to debate certain questions. He had to take by chance one of these motions out of the box. The number of matters of urgency which members wanted to have discussed was large. It is true that they had an opportunity of discussing them at the close of the business of the day, but they thought it better to take an earlier opportunity. Unless a matter is of very great importance it is not wise to bring it forward in the early part of a. sitting, when there are great inducements to talk which do not exist later in the day. A member who has a question which he wants to have discussed often says - “ I do not like to waste three hours of the time of the House in debating this subject and delaying matters of importance ; I shall have an opportunity at the close of the sitting at 10 or 1 1 o’clock to make known my opinions.” At that time the Government may be able to give the member the satisfaction he requires. It also lias to be remembered that at a late period of the evening an honorable member will probably condense his remarks and speak only for five or ten minutes, whereas earlier in the day he would be inclined to take his full half-hour. The question will not be debated by others at such great length as would be the case earlier in the day. In this way the practice which I advocate conserves time and gives halfadozen members an opportunity to speak briefly upon subjects in which they are interested before the adjournment. Of course there are other opportunities of . dealing with subjects of importance, but the bringing of them under the notice of the House on the motion for the adjournment has the effect of saving time. Take the case of a member who .makes himself a bore and a nuisance by frequently moving the adjournment. At the close of a sitting it is possible to count him out. He will then have had his opportunity, and the subject will be closed. In New South Wales a subject that had been once discussed on the motion for the adjournment could not be discussed again in the same session. I presume that we shall” adopt that rule also. Senator Baker has mentioned the inconvenience of the sittings being prolonged on Friday afternoons, when many honorable senators wish to get away by train to South Australia and New South Wales. I should have no objection, speaking personally, to amending the standing orders in such a way as to provide that on Friday afternoons there should be no debate on the motion for the adjournment. We should thus conserve the interests of honorable senators who wish to get away earlier in the day on Friday, and should not unduly restrict the opportunities of others to discuss matters of importance. I hope that the Committee will accept the amendment with the modification that it shall not apply on Fridays.
– If only upon the score of convenience, I have no hesitation in supporting Senator Neild’s amendment. It is very convenient to be able, upon the motion for the adjournment, to lay before the Senate matters of importance. It may not be as convenient to do so earlier in the day. There are occasions when matters of urgency arise during the day, and there is no opportunity of discussing them, unless latitude is given in the v.r?.y suggested. I was very much surprised when we commenced business in the Senate to find that no latitude of this character was given to honorable senators. The rule which prevailed in the Victorian Legislative Assembly was a good one - that motions for the adjournment at the commencement of a sitting must be supported by at least twelve members rising in their places. But it was always permissible upon the motion for the adjournment at the close of a sitting to discuss grievances or questions of importance in connexion with “the business of the country. I think that is a good rule. I agree with all that has been said by Senators Neild and Gould. I believe that the proposed practice will save time, because at the end of the day honorable senators will not be inclined to go as fully into matters as they would do if there were more time at their disposal. I shall support the amendment.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I wish to make a remark in reply to what Senator Baker has said with reference to the opportunities we have of discussing questions on Money Bills. It will be within the recollection of honorable senators - certainly it is within my recollection - that the President has pulled up honorable senators in attempting to discuss public questions on such Bills. He pulled me up when I was discussing a matter of public interest in connexion with the Customs administration for instance. On one occasion I had to argue that the Bill before us was one for raising money, and that I was justified in discussing the expenditure of the money so raised. I refer to that simply to show that we have not any great amount of latitude to discuss questions of a general character upon Money Bills. With all respect to Senator Baker, I would point out that we are not bound to slavishly follow the practice of the South Australian Legislature, merely because we have been using South Australian standing orders for two t years. Why are we passing new standing orders at all if we are not to improve or alter the past practice?We are are only wasting time. Let us tear the document up, scatter the work of the Standing Orders Committee to the four winds, and proceed with something else. We also might as well copy the South Australian statutes and make none of our own. I protest against the idea that because we have done something in the past we must never Alter it. At that rate we should never have had the Federation ; we should have been content with the old system. We have already, in the standing orders which we have adopted, made an immense innovation upon the old practice in allowing three speeches to be made by the mover of a motion ; at any rate, the new standing order seems to me capable of being read in that way. Hitherto the mover of a motion has had the right to reply, but not to speak to an amendment. Therefore we have gone back on our former practice, and on this fetish of the South Australian standing orders. It is a perfect fetish to some honorable senators. No doubt the South Australian standing orders are in many respects admirable, as is shown by the fact that we are taking extracts from them wholesale. But if we worship the sun, surely we may also recognise that the sun has some spots upon it ; and when we have an opportunity of removing the spots from the brilliant orb of the South Australian standing orders, we ought to do so. I have moved this amendment with a view of removing one of those sun spots, and of conserving the time of the Senate. I am quite willing, however, if it be the general desire, to alter my amendment in the direction indicated by Senator Gould, so as to meet the convenience of those who desire to leave Melbourne on Friday afternoons.
– I do not think there is anything very serious to argue about. The sense of the Committee is in favour of Senator Neild’s amendment. A great number of us have a large amount of admiration for the South Australian standing orders, but we are not so keen about them as Senator Neild may imagine. I, for one, have no fearof any serious abuse in connexion with a suggestion which, to my mind, is an improvement ; because I believe that no senator would have the hardihood to take advantage of a provision like this to provoke a discussion at a late hour of the evening. If the Government perceived any danger of a senator embracing such an opportunity to “ slate “ them, all they would have to do would be to keep the business going until the last train was about to start, and then everybody would be anxious to get away. It would be almost impossible if, at half-past eleven, a senator got up to discuss a serious grievance, to keep a quorum. There would be a count-out very soon. In that way there would be a means of checking any abuse. If a senator wishes to bring forward a grievance which . is worthy of being debated, he ought to have an opportunity, and the most convenient time would be on the motion for the adjournment. I do not think that any alteration should be made in the case of Friday afternoons. The amendment should apply all round. If a senator wishes to bring forward a grievance on a Friday afternoon he has as much right to do so then as on a Thursday evening. The amendment can do no harm and should be allowed to be carried as it stands.
– I wish to draw Senator Neild’s attention to the fact that Standing Order 182 gives any honorable senator the opportunity of speaking upon a subject which is not relevant to a Money Bill. He may not have noticed that we have already agreed to this standing order, which says that -
In Bills which the Senate may not amend, the question ‘ ‘ That this Bill be now read a first time “may be debated, and the debate need not be relevant to the subject matter of such Bill.
That gives an opportunity, every time a Bill which the Senate may not amend comes down, to discuss any subject.
– Perhaps once a month.
– That, I think, should be sufficiently often for an all-round discussion upon grievances. I mention this in order to show that honorable senators are not so entirely without opportunity for discussing subjects generally as might be imagined from what has been said. I hope honorable senators thoroughly understand what will be the effect of this amendment if it is carried.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 422 agreed to.
Standing Order 423 -
If the motion “That the Senate do now divide “ be carried, the Senate shall vote on the question immediately before it, without further debate or amendment; but if the motion to divide be lost the debate should be resumed where it wis interrupted.
– In order to bring this into line with the standing order dealing with this matter in Committee, as we have amended it, I move -
That the following words be added - “Provided that a vote on the question that the Senate do now divide shall require at least thirteen affirmative votes.”
Honorable senators having already agreed to a similar amendment, it is unnecessary that I should repeat what has already been said.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 424 to 427 agreed to.
Standing Order 428 -
If any senator -
persistently and wilfully obstructs the business of the Senate ; or
is guilty of disorderly conduct ; or
uses objectionable words, and refuses to either explain same to the satisfaction of the President, or withdraw such words and apologize for their use ; or
persistently and wilfully refuses to conform to the standing orders, or any one of them ; or
persistently and wilfully disregards the authority of the Chair; the President may report to the Senate that such senator has committed an offence.
– I intend to ask the Committee to amend this standing order by the omission of the words,” either explain same to the satisfaction of the President, or withdraw such words and apologize for their use,” with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ withdraw such words.” My object is to allow an honorable senator who has been named, to offer an explanation or apology in all cases. It will be seen that under the standing order an honorable senator is only given an opportunity of offering an apology and explanation under paragraph(c), and I think he should have that opportunity under all the paragraphs. I must ask the Committee to recollect that when these standing orders were reported, the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives had not reported their standing orders. They have since reported them, and it will be found that they have altered the practice. The practice they recommend is that when a member of the House has been named, he shall in all cases be entitled to stand up in his place and explain or apologize. I think that it is advisable for several reasons that we should follow the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives in, this matter. In the first place what they propose is not so drastic as what is here proposed, and in the next place it is advisable that the standing orders of both Houses should be similar upon a question like this.. In the third place I think that it is possible we maysave a long debate if we permit latitude in these cases to any honorable senator who is named to explain his conduct. It is quite true that the conduct objected to has been in the view and hearing of honorable senators, and it may therefore, perhaps, be considered superfluous from one point of view to ask for an explanation. But I think it cannot do very much harm to permit an honorable senator who is named to make an explanation. I confess that I have altered my personal opinion upon this standing order since the Standing Orders Committee reported. Speaking for myself, and not for the Standing Orders Committee, I perhaps did not allow sufficient weight to the consideration that wehave only 36 members of the Senate as against 678 members in the House of Commons. This is. the House of Commons rule, but what might be wise and even necessary for a House of 678 members might be objectionable in a House of 36. There is another consideration, that judging by the past, these standing orders are not required at all, because the conduct of honorable senators has been such that there has never been evenasuspicion that any honorable senator on either side could have been named. It is however, advisable to have such a standing order as this for the future. But I think we might make it a little milder than it is at present. I therefore move -
That the words “either explain same to the satisfaction of the President, or,” in paragraph (c), be omitted.
– This is an important matter, and I should like to know exactly what is proposed. What does the honorable and learned senator propose to insert in lieu of the words which he suggests should be omitted ?
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Nothing at all, because I propose when we come to Standing Order 430 to include these words - “ When any senator has been reported as having committed an offence, he shall be called upon to stand up in his place and make any explanation or apology he may think fit.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Richard Baker) agreed to -
That the words “ and apologize for their use,” in paragraph (c), be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 429 agreed to.
Standing Order 430-
When any senator has been reported as having committed an offence, a motion may immediately be moved - ‘ ‘ That such senator be suspended from the sitting of the Senate.” No amendment, adjournment, or debate shall be allowed on such motion, which shall be immediately put by the President.
Amendments (by Senator Sir Richard Baker) agreed to -
That the words, “He shall be called upon to stand up in his place, and make any explanation or apology he may think fit, and afterwards,” be inserted after the word “offence,” line 2.
That the word “immediately,” line 2, be omitted.
-The provision that no amendment, adjournment, or debate shall be allowed on such a motion seems to me to be a very arbitrary method of dealing with the matter.
– It is better that there should be no debate. It would only result in an acrimonious discussion.
– Is it not intended that the senator who moves the suspension of an honorable senator shall be allowed to state his reasons ?
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Order 431 -
If any senator be suspended, his suspension on the first occasion shall be for the remainder of that day’s sitting ; on the second occasion, for One week; and on the third or any subsequent Occasion, for one month.
– I should like to ask Senator Baker if there is any reason why thelatter portion of the standing order should be so arbitrary. I have no intention of contesting it, butI think a little more discretion might be allowed. Under the standing order as proposed, it is imperative that the suspension on a third or any subsequent occasion shall be for one month. I should like to hear whether honorable senators do not think that some discretion in the matter should be given to the Senate.
– I remind honorable senators that it is a very serious thing indeed for the President to name an honorable senator, and it will not be done except under the very greatest provocation, because if the President named an honorable senator, and a motion for his suspension were not carried by the Senate, he would be placed in a very difficult position. During the time I occupied the position of President of the Legislative Council in South Australia - eleven years - I only named a member of the Council once, and Senators Charleston and McGregor can certify that there was immense provocation, and that the legislative councillor concerned was not named without good reason. Here we have the certainty that no honorable senator will be named without the greatest provocation, and he should not be named unless he has wilfully and persistently disobeyed the orders of the Chair, and infringed the standing orders. But if he persists in such conduct for a third time he certainly should be punished Business would be impossible if some punishment were not meted out. We provide that for the first offence an honorable senator shall be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.
– That may be the worst offence of all.
– It may be; but if an honorable senator habitually misconducts himself, surely he ought to be punished. I do not know whether there is any great magic in the provision for one month’s suspension for a third offence, but that is the period prescribed in the proposed standing orders of the House of Representatives. It is advisable to have the standing orders of both Houses identical if possible in regard to this question.
– It is extremely undesirable that this standing order should pass as it stands. I hold that view, because we are placed in a rather peculiar position. If an honorable senator were suspended for a month, the State which he represented would be deprived of its full measure of representation for that period, and that is a consideration which ought to weigh with us.
– That suspension would probably be an advantage to the State.
– That is a matter which the State concerned would be best fitted to judge. I think that the ends of justice would be served if an honorable senator were suspended for each offence for the remainder of the sitting. I do not think that we should go further. If an honorable senator were guilty of habitual misbehaviour, his constituents would be the proper judges to determine what should be done with him. If we have the right to deprive any State of its full measure of representation for any considerable period, we ought not to exercise it. I trust that the Committee will take these considerations into account, and amend the standing order accordingly.
– There is a great deal of force in the contention put forward by Senator Stewart, that a State should not be deprived of its full measure of representation for one month. I move -
That the words “one month,” line 5, he omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “a fortnight.”
– The members of the Standing Orders Committee must have been led to adopt a standing order of this kind owing to some unhappy experience with regard to certain persons in the Common wealth. They seem to be under the impression that, instead of dealing with honorable senators, they are dealing with a lot of common criminals - people who go round and steal, or who are probably confirmed drunkards.
– The honorable senator really does not mean that.
– I cannot understand why the provision that the Senate shall deal with each offence on its merits was not allowed to stand. Why should any particular sentence be provided in this standing order ?
– If we were to substitute the word “ may” for the word “ shall,” I think that would meet the case.
– If that alteration were made, the standing order would not be so objectionable. It would be a disgrace to the Senate to have a standing order such as is now proposed. Honorable senators, with the exception, perhaps, of Senator Fraser, cannot think that an honorable senator who has the confidence of the people of the State which sent him here, with a considerable backing of votes, is likely to offend in such a way that he ought to be sentenced to a month’s suspension, or towhat would be practically a month’s im.prisonment. I do not entertain such a poor opinion of the elect of the Commonwealth. The standing order should not be agreed to.
– This standing order is supposed to work automatically, and the period of suspension should be stated definitely, instead of being left to the Senate for determination when a case occurs. If the amendment suggested by Senator Playford, and approved, by Senator Higgs, that the Senate “may “ suspend an offending member for a month or a fortnight, were made, the matter would necessarily involve a debate which would probably be very acrimonious, and extend over a considerable period, to the detriment of our general business. It would be much better to have some specific punishment fixed. Senator Stewart’s proposal, that a man should be suspended only for the remainder of the sitting, would not act satisfactorily. If an honorable senator were suspended to-night, for example, he would attend to-morrow, and might be prepared to create another scene. He would be again suspended, and that state of affairs might go on from day to day.
– Why should it not be so?
– Because we desire to conserve the time of the Senate.. If an honorable senator became so objectionable he would not be of much service to his constituents, and probably, as Senator Fraser has said, those constituents would bemuch better served by his absence from the Senate. The Senate has power to expel an honorable senator for misconduct, but is it not better that we should have certain specific rules which will lead to no debatewhen a matter of this kind is being dealt with, than to have a provision which would necessarily involve debate, and might end in a representative of the Government having to propose the expulsion of the honorable senator ?
– Does the honorableand learned senator think that a month’s, suspension should be provided ?
– I adhere to that provision, because it is similar to one contained in the standing orders of the House of Representatives, and because it is generally adopted. Takethe case of an honorable senator who happened to offend to-day. He would be suspended for the remainder of the sitting. If he were a sensible man he would realize that he should not have behaved in the way which led up to his punishment ; but if he misbehaved again, that misbehaviour would be deliberate, and under the standing order he would be subject to further punishment. I think it is necessary to superadd the punishment to be inflicted in a case in which an honorable senator constantly offends. Whether the punishment for the thirdoffence should be a month or a fortnight might be left to the discretion of the Senate. I am inclined to leave the standing order as it is, but if it is altered as suggested I shall not complain.
– I should like to ask the President whether he thinks that the Senate possesses an inherent power of expulsion apart from the standing orders?
– Certainly it does.
– I assume that it has that power, but Senator Gould’s remarks seemed to imply that we should have to take special power underthe standing orders.
– I have no doubt as to the power of the Senate to expel an honorable senator if it thinks fit to do so.
– Then I do not think we need trouble about providing for frequent misconduct on the part of an honorable senator. If an honorable senator were punished for misbehaviour twice, it would be right to expel him - if two lessons were not sufficient for him, it would be about time for him to go. I would not pile up penalties under the impression that any honorable senator is likely to be continually disorderly. I take it that there will never lie a case of disorder except when an honorable senator is under the influence of some special excitement. We know that men sometimes give way to temper, and create scenes. It happens all over the world, and the Senate is not likely to be any more immaculate than is any other legislative body. But it is impossible to imagine that there will be any persistent misconduct on the part of an honorable senator sent here by the whole body of electors of a State. We ought not to burden our standing orders with regulations imposing penalties under the impression that honorable senators will misconduct themselves intentionallyand persistently. I protest against loading the standing orders with any proposal of the kind.
– I think it would be well to allow the standing order to remain as it is. If an honorable senator is guilty of misbehaviour, he deserves to be suspended for the day for the first offence. As the President has said, such a punishment is by no means severe. The standing order provides that for a second offence an honorable senator shall be suspended for a week. No doubt an honorable senator so punished would recognise the true import of that suspension, but if he offended a third time, one month’s suspension would not be too great a penalty. The knowledge that he was liable to a month’s suspension for misbehavior would prevent any honorable senator from behaving in a disorderly manner. We have to provide standing orders which will stand for all time, for it is highly undesirable that we should be continually tinkering with them. It is our duty to look at the matter from every point of view, and to endeavour to make standing orders which will not require amendment. In these circumstances, I think it would be far better to agree to the standing order as submitted.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I desire that the standing order should be amended at a point earlier than that named by Senator Walker.
– By leave of the Senate I shall temporarily withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I move -
That the words “on the first occasion” be omitted.
If the amendment is agreed to I shall move a further amendment so as to make the standing order read as follows : -
If any senator be suspended his suspens shall be for such period as the Senate may termine.
– That would give rise to discussion and to a great deal of unpleasantness.
– The honorable and learned senator does not appear to realize the importance of taking such a step as suspending an honorable senator for a single moment from the performance of his duty.
– I do.
– Let each offence be dealt with on its merits. I wish to leave the fixing of the punishment to the Senate. Only yesterday an honorable senator actually suggested that the members of the labour party ought to be both gagged and flogged. If those words are not objectionable, I do not know what words can be objectionable. We ought to approach the consideration of this question, in a broad spirit. We . must look beyond the senator to the people whom he represents. In suspending a senator for a sitting, or a week, or a month, we are not only punishing him, but doing an act which is of very much more consequence - depriving the people who sent him here of their proper share of representation for the period of his punishment. We ought to give the advantage to the people who send a senator here. If a senator commits an offence of this kind, to suspend him for the remainder of the sitting ought to be quite sufficient punishment. If on the second day he offends again, repeat the punishment. If on the third day he offends again, repeat the punishment. Probably on the fourth day he may come here clothed in his right mind. It is exceedingly improper, under any circumstances except the most extreme, to deprive a State of its share of representation. It seems to be the height of folly to say that for a first offence a senator shall be punished by suspension for the remainder of the sitting ; for a second offence by suspension for a week ; for a third or any subsequent offence by suspension for a month, while the offences may be altogether different in their heinousness. The first offence might be the worst of all, and the last offence might, be a most trivial one.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Senator Neild has asked rae for my opinion on the question - Can we expel a senator ? Undoubtedly we can. 1 have called the- attention of Senator Neild and others to two sections in the Constitution Act. Section 49 says -
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and, until declared, shall be those of the
Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom.
We cannot by standing orders curtail or extend our privileges. Our standing orders are framed, and have validity only under the following section : -
Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to -
We cannot by standing orders give ourselves any new powers, privilege,9, and immunities. Unless it is done by statute, they remain the same as those of the House of Commons. If these standing orders proposed to give us any new power which the house of Commons does not possess they would be ultra vires, and if they proposed to limit our powers they would be equally ultra vires, because by standing orders the Senate can only provide for the mode in which its powers, privileges, and immunities, may be exercised and upheld, and for the order and conduct of its business and proceedings.
– I am sorry that I cannot see my way clear to support the amendment. Of course, Senator Stewart, like myself, has great faith in the leniency and fairness of his fellow senators ; but I can conceive that, in a period of great excitement, even the Senate may resort to extreme measures, and perhaps exclude a senator who was considered objectionable for a considerable period. I am not anxious to see the standing order passed without the term of punishment being specified. I have gone through periods of excitement in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland. I remember times when it has got into such a condition of mind that if the occasion had arisen I believe it would have excluded a member for the session. In many instances it was grossly unjust in its treatment of certain members who were considered objectionable. We are only framing this standing order for times of extreme excitement ; and, if the period of punishment is not specified, gross injustice may be done, not only to a senator, but also to the State which he represents. If a senator by his conduct makes himself thoroughly objectionable, undoubtedly he ought to be punished, because every legislative body must have some rules for maintaining order and good conduct. If a senator grossly offends those who may be endeavouring to do the work of the country in the best way,he ought to be suspended for a day,and if on another occasion he makes himself grossly obnoxious to his fellow senators, surely additional punishment ought to be inflicted. I do not think that he should be suspended for a month. It will be reasonable and fair if he is suspended for fourteen days. I do not wish to go to the extreme limit in the matter of punishment, nor do I desire to leave the rule in such a loose form that under certain circumstances the majority might not only act unfairly in a period of excitement, but on many occasions might act unfairly with the deliberate object of excluding a senator. I am sure that Senator Stewart can imagine that some circumstances may arise which may put the Senate into a condition of mind like that which he witnessed in the Queensland Assembly ten years ago. I hope he will recognise that it is unwise to leave the rule in a loose form.
– There is one insuperable difficulty in carrying out the idea suggested by Senator Stewart. A motion has to be made for the suspension of the senator for a certain time, and that has to be carried without debate or amendment. The term of suspension really will be fixed by the senator who moves the motion, probably a Minister. Supposing that a Minister proposes that the offending senator be suspended for a week. Seeing that there can be no amendment or debate, the motion must be either carried or negatived. But Senator Stewart desires that the term of suspension shall be fixed by the Senate.
– I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I am glad that the amendment has been withdrawn. I am inclined to think that suspension for a month is rather too severe punishment. I think that, without detracting from the salutary effect of the standing order, the suspension might very well be limited to fourteen days. I take it that these successive suspensions refer to offences committed in the same session, so that it would only be in the case of a senator’s third offence in the same session that this would apply. It is only in extreme cases that the heavier penalty would be inflicted. I admit that the Standing order is not quite clear, and I think an alteration should be made.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) agreed to-
That the words “one month,” line5, be omitted, and the words “fourteen days” inserted in lieu thereof.
Amendment (by Senator Drake)agreed to-
That the following words be added- - “ Such suspension occurring within the same session.”
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 432 and . 433 agreed to.
Standing Order 434 -
If any senator shall wilfully disobey any order of the Senate, he may be ordered to attend in his place, or, if he is under suspension, at the Bar, to answer for his conduct, and unless his excuses be deemed satisfactory the Senate may direct the Usher of the Black Rod to take such senator into custody
– I think it is just as well to alter the word “ excuses.” The word used should be “ explanation.” I move -
That the word “excuses,” line 4, be omitted, and the word “explanation” inserted in lieu thereof.
Amendment agreed to.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Standing Orders 435 to 440 agreed to.
Joint Standing Order -
Every Public Act of the Parliament, commencing No.1, from the day of , 1901, shall be numbered in Arabic figures, and in regular arithmetical series in the order in which the same shall be assented to by His Excellency the Governor-General, or in which the King’s assent thereto is made known, together with the number of the year in which such Act shall receive the Royal assent.
– I desire to move an amendment in this standing order which relates to joint standing orders, for the reason that since the Committee reported the Government have adopted a slightly different course of procedure than that which was contemplated. It is necessary to conform to the practice of numbering thestatutes which the Government have adopted by using the words “ in arithmetical series of each year.” I move -
That the words, “commencing No. 1, from the .. . day of … . , 1901,” be omitted; and that after the word “series,” line 4, the words ‘ ‘ for each year” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Joint Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Joint Standing Order (Disagreement between the Houses) agreed to.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
It will be remembered that last session, when the Tariff was going through, a proposal was made to give a certain amount - we will call it a bonus - by way of encouragement, to persons who should grow sugar-cane by means of white labour only. The encouragement took this form in the Tariff - that whereas there was to be an Excise duty of £3 per ton on all sugar . manufactured within Australia, a payment equivalent to £2 per ton of manufactured sugar was to be given to those who grew their cane with white labour only. There was some doubt at the time as to how that provision would operate, and before the payments commenced to be made the amounts collected in excise, in the various States, were paid into a trust fund. Prom that fund the bonuses were paid. The balance of the money so collected has not yet been distributed to the States, with the exception of a sum that has been, as it were, advanced. There has been no final settlement because the exact basis upon which those payments shall be made to the States from the trust fund has not yet been decided. It has turned out in operation that this amount of £2 per ton, if deducted merely from the excise paid in respect of sugar grown by white labour, would fall inequitably on the various States. During this period the quantity of sugar grown by the aid of white labour was 30,000 tons. That is to say, bonuses have been paid to the amount of £60,000. The proportion of sugar grown by white labour, as compared with black labour, in Queensland, is as -15 to “85. The proportions in New South Wales are exactly the reverse, being 15 grown by black labour and -S5 grown by white labour. A groat difficulty has arisen because, notwithstanding all the care that has been taken, the sugars become so inexplicably mixed in the process of refining, that it is not possible to trace sugar from cane grown by black labour, as distinguished from that from cane gi own by white labour. We must treat the two kinds of sugar as being indistinguishable after refining. Therefore, supposing the payment of the bonuses were made as a rebate of £2 per ton from the £3 per ton excise, the burden of the policy we have pursued would fall entirely upon those States that are consuming locally-produced sugar. The proportions of locally-produced and imported sugar consumed in the States vary considerably. I do not think that any one could possibly have foreseen that the burden of assisting the sugar-planters in making the change from black labourto white labour was going to fall exclusively upon the consumers of locally-grown sugar ; and I do not think that any one believes that that would be an equitablearrangement. If it were followed out it would lead to most extraordinary results ; . because the States that use imported sugar receive £6 per ton Customs duty upon that sugar, whereas the States which consume locally-produced sugar only get at most £3 per ton. If that state of things were to exist permanently it would be an advantageto the sugar-producing States to export their sugar, and to import sugar for theirown consumption.
– What State would do that?
– I do not say that any State would do it, but it was suggested in a letter written by the Premier of New South Wales that such a thing as thatmight possibly occur. I use the argument to show that an absurd result would happen if the burden were to fall entirely upon the States which consume locally-grown sugar, to the extent to which they do consume it. This question would not havebeen so acute had it not been for the partial . failure of the sugar crop in New South Wales, and more particularly in Queensland. Had there been an abundant crop, as in previous years, the local wants of Australia would have been nearly met by the local production of sugar, and in thatcase the burden would have fallen upon the whole of Australia fairly equitably according to the consumption of sugar. Butit so happened that there was a very shortcrop, and consequently some of the Stateshave relied almost entirely upon imported sugar. The consequence of that has been that their Treasurers have the great advantage of receiving £6 per ton import duty. That state of things cannot be expected to continue. As the local production increases, it must gradually disappear. When the local production overtakes the local consumption, this contribution as a bonus to the sugar-growers will, if we take as a. basis the consumption of sugar, be fairly equal throughout Australia. It cannot be expected that we should wait until that time arrives, and that cannot be a good system to- adopt which depends upon such accidents as I have pointed out, the accident of. the relative consumption of locallyproduced and imported sugar in the various States, and the accident of the seasons. The Treasurer has supplied me with some interesting tables of figures which I have caused to be circulated amongst honorable senators. The total production of Australian sugar foi- the year 1902-3 is stated in these tables as 91,500 tons, and the total quantity of sugar imported was 85,500 tons. So that already during this year we are supplying more than half of our requirements, notwithstanding the very bad season we have had.
– We must allow for stocks held.
– The stocks held at the commencement of the year were 2,000 tons less than at the end of the year, so that involves a very slight variation. Of the 30,000 tons of sugar produced in Australia this year by white labour, it will be ‘seen that 12,000 tons were produced in Queensland, and 18,000 tons in New South Wales. The total consumption in New South Wales is 68,000 tons, of which 60,000 tons is the quantity consumed within New South Wales, and 8,000 tons were distributed amongst the other States in this proportion : - 3,000 tons to Western Australia: 4,500 tons to Ta s.manina ; and-500 tons to South Australia. In connexion with the point to which I have previously referred honorable senators will see that these quantities of sugar being refined in New South Wales from sugar produced in New South Wales and Queensland, and then sent in these varying quantities to the other States, it is almost impossible, under the previously existing arrangement, to secure an equitable payment of- the amount due to the growers on the production of sugar by white labour. The Treasurer has shown at page 2 of the statement of figures circulated what would be the result of a distribution on a basis of consumption, and on a population basis. From these figures it will be found that New South Wales, on a basis of consumption, would have to find £44,400 out of a total of £6.0,000, and on a population basis £21,642 ; Victoria, on a basis of consumption, £2,500, and on a population basis £18,786 ; Queensland, on- a basis of consumption, £7,100, and on a population, basis £7,962. Honorable senators will see that, so far as Queensland is concerned, the proposed change in the method of distribution makes a difference of only a few hundreds of pounds. South Australia did not consume any locally-produced sugar, and on a basis of consumption shewould therefore not have to pay anything, but on a population basis she would have to pay £5,65S. Western Australia on a basis of consumption would have to pay £2,400, and on a population basis £3,246 ;. Tasmania, on a basis of consumption £3,600, and on a basis of population, £2,706. If we were to adopt the principle of paying on a basis of consumption the amounts would of course vary from year toyear. As I have pointed out, as soon asthe local production overtook local consumption it would practically be the sameall over the continent, but up to that time it would vary very much, because of the accident of one State relying more upon local production and another more on importation, lt may be fairly admitted, however, that until the time arrived when local production overtook local consumption there would be a tendency toa larger consumption of the local article in the States in which sugar is produced, but it is only in that respect that the proposed alteration would be of benefit to the States which produce sugar. The proposal made is simply to substitute for an unsatisfactory and inequitable principle of distributing this particular expenditure upon a basis of consumption, the principle of distribution upon a population basis. The only advantage to the States of Queensland and New South Wales, in which sugar is produced, will be that there will be a tendency in those States to a continually increasing consumption of the local article, until the local production overtakes the local consumption. It is only in that respect that there will be a slight and continually diminishing advantage to those two States.
– This will disturb the revenue of South Australia a good deal.
– It cannot disturb the revenue of South Australia, because the amounts collected under the Excise Act have ail been paid into a ‘ trust fund, and they have not yet been distributed. We are here simply dealing with the question of how we should distribute them.
– To South Australia it will mean the difference between £1 and £6 per ton of sugar.
– As there is nothing in the trust fund at the present time to the credit of South Australia, it cannot be said that the action we are now proposing to take will have a disturbing effect upon the revenue of that State.
– Still it will mean a loss of revenue to South Australia of £5,65S.
– That is the amount collected upon sugar imported into that State. South Australia has had the great advantage - and it has been an accidental advantage - of collecting a large revenue upon imported sugar. But, as I say, if we were to adopt a distribution on the basis of consumption permanently it is perfectly clear that the various States might soon be engaging in a sort of cut-throat game by trying to unload locally-produced sugar on other States and importing their own.
– But the other States would not accept it.
– The honorable senator knows that in the ordinary course of trade a trader will take the sugar which he can get cheapest. There would be nothing to prevent a State like Queensland - and I freely mention Queensland in this case, because for 1902-3 that State will not be greatly affected by this measure, though in future it may be - :there would be nothing to prevent Queensland, if it could be done -
And I admit all the difficulty of entering upon any sort of enterprise that conflicts with the ordinary course of trade, but we can discuss it as a possibility - systematically sending all its locally-produced sugar to the other States and. importing its own. Queensland would then secure a return of £6 per ton on the imported sugar. I do not really suppose that the Government of any State would set themselves deliberately to interfere^ with . the ordinary course of trade.
– Private people would not do it, because they would gain nothing bv it. ti
– Private persons would not do it, and the ordinary course of trade would probably not be interfered with ; but it is not desi i-able to have a state of things in which au interference with the ordinary course of trade would result in an advantage to the Government of any particular State. There is an interesting table on page 3 of the paper circulated to honorable senators, which shows the total revenue derived in the various States from sugar, and the amount of rebates paid. I need not go through the table, because honorable senators have it before them.
– Will this Bill be retrospective so far as the trust fund to which the honorable and learned senator has re- ‘ f erred is concerned 1
– The Bill dates back to the very first. The principle laid down in the Bill is the principle upon which we propose to deal with the trust fund. We propose to deal in this way with all the amounts paid in respect of excise.
– The Bill does not state that.
– I think it is quite clear that it does. No payments have yet been made, and the Bill we are now considering is a Bill to provide for a bonus to the growers of sugar by white labour.
– After a certain date - the 28th February, 1903.
– The Bill refers to sugar from cane or beet “ in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed after the 2.8th day of February, 1903.”
– How will that affect sugar produced prior to that date by white labour, and in respect of which the Government have funds for distribution.
– The honorable senator will find that it is stated in clause 7 that -
All rebates of excise duty upon sugar paid before the commencement of this Act shall be taken as bonuses under this Act.
That is retrospective, and when we come to discuss the clauses I shall be able to satisfy the honorable senator ‘that the Bill will deal with the matter from the very first. Though, in one sense it may be held tha t the Excise Act settles the mode of distribution, as a matter of fact it has never been acted upon, and the money has all been paid into a trust- fund, because there was this question to be decided. This measure, if accepted, will determine the question, and then we can distribute the money, which is at present in the trust fund, in accordance with the principles of this Bill.
– How much does that fund amount to now ?
– As I have said, a small amount has been paid. The honorable senator will find the figures on page 3 of the statement circulated. He will see that the total consumption of Australian sugar was 91,500 tons, and the total revenue from Australian sugar was £274,500.
– Who is going to get this money ?
– The States.
– How much will New South Wales get 1
– The honorable senator will find the figures upon page 3 of the tabulated statement supplied. The revenue which New South Wales derived from imported sugar amounted to £66,000, and the revenue which that State derived from Australian sugar was £168,000, or a total of £234,000. Each State will get the amount of excise that has been paid in respect of sugar according to the consumption in that State, and the amount to be paid by way of bonus is new expenditure which under terms of the Constitution will be equally distributed amongst the States on a population basis.
– I think we are to be congratulated upon the presentation of this Bill to the Senate. It is a measure of fair play. The people of the Commonwealth as a whole, and particularly the people of Victoria and South Australia, were anxious that the policy of a white Australia should be carried out, and they must, therefore, be prepared to pay their proportion of the expense of that luxury. The peculiarity of the position is that the greater the success obtained in the cultivation of sugar by white labour the less will be the income received by the States of Victoria and South Australia from the present duty. In my opinion the whole of the revenue obtained from the sugar duties ought under existing circumstances to be distributed upon a population basis. If Queensland succeeded after a time in growing sufficient sugar by white labour to satisfy her own requirements, her revenue from it would be only £1 per ton under the existing arrangement, whereas if the people of South Australia used only imported sugar the Government of that State would secure a revenue of £6 per ton. It will thus be seen that the present arrangement is manifestly unjust. In order that all the States may be fairly dealt with all the revenue at present obtained from the duty on sugar should be divided on a population basis, no matter where it is collected. I intend to support the second reading of the Bill because it is a measure of fair play. I sympathize to some extent with the people of Victoria and South Australia, but thev have only themselves to blame, because they were the most enthusiastic in supportingthis form of protection. The result of the introduction of this policy of a so-called white Australia is a manifest instance of the unfairness of protection. The very State which has to bear the great burden of the cost of giving effect to it is being punished, inasmuch as the revenue obtained by it from the excise duty on sugar is only £1 per ton ascompared with the revenue of £6 per ton obtained by the other States consumingimported sugar. Under the present system that state of affairs would exist until Queensland could supply the whole of Australia with the local article, when all theStates would secure only £1 per ton from the excise duty. Every honorable senator knows that I did not favour the proposal for the expulsion of kanakas from Queensland, and I sympathized with New South Wales and Queensland, who appeared likely to be called upon to bear the whole of the cost of the white labour movement. Under this Bill, New South Wales will secure the treatment that it well deserves, for on a population basis, as against a consumption basis, it will gain £22,75S per annum. Tasmania will also gain £894 per annum.- It is quite true, as the Postmaster-General has said, that at present it would almost pay the Government of Queensland to offer inducements for the export of locally-grown sugar, so that the people there would use the imported article and the State would secure the increased revenue. It affords a striking illustration of the fallacy of protection.
-NEILD (New South Wales). - At this stage I shall make veryfew observations, because I have given notice of an amendment which will perhaps afford me, in Committee, an opportunity of saying a little more on the subject which I am about to mention.
– What is the amendment?
– It is opposed to the payment of bonuses on sugar-cane cultivated by women and children.
– Oh !
– My honorable friend shakes his head ; but if he gives the matter a moment’s consideration, I am sure he will be in entire agreement with my case. The whole course of his life, so far as we know him in this Chamber, has been that of a gentleman, who considers the well-being of his fellow men - and the well - being of women and children - before a great many other matters. That is his great characteristic, and I honour him for it. I think, therefore, that what I have indicated will meet with his approbation rather than the opposition that the shaking of his head perhaps implied. I desire to challenge one statement made by the Postmaster-General, and that is as to the quantity of sugar which has been grown by white labour in Queensland. I assert that the rebate has been allowed on sugar nominally grown by white labour, but in reality not grown in that way. At the close oflast session I went to the north of Queensland for the express purpose of making a study of this matter on the spot. I took care to keep out of the reach and beyond the influence of proprietors of sugar plantations and sugar mills ; and, as far as possible, I sought my information from unprejudiced sources. This rebate, which has been allowed upon thousands of tons of sugar, has not been given in respect of sugar grown by white labour, but of sugar cultivated by coloured labour. It was probably only after the actual cultivation had ceased that the white labour came in.
SenatorDrake. - Everything had to be done by white labour.
– The cultivation and trashing of the cane was done by coloured labour. It was only after the crops were growing “ on their own,” as the colloquial phrase goes, that white labour was employed.
– That is a mistake.
– If the honorable senator will tell me that he knows more about this matter than do the official inspectors of the Queensland Government, I shall, of course, implicitly accept his assurance. I am speaking, however, upon the authority of officials who have no interest in politics or in profits, and I say that it is a perfect sham to suggest that much of the cane which was made subject to rebate was ever grown by white labour. Stalwart men are not employed in cultivating sugar cane in Queensland. We have abundant evidence to showthat it is practically impossible to obtain white men to cut cane, let alone to cultivate it.
– That is nonsense.
– The honorable senator is one of the representatives of Queensland, and has a perfect right to his own opinion ; but I have in my possession the reports of certain companies and mills, which show most conclusively that men who contracted to find white labour for cutting the cane were unable to fulfil their contract, and that in two cases they forfeited their deposits.
– Does the honorable . senator refer to the Mossman mill?
.- That is one case.
– It is the most important.
– If the statements made in connexion with the Mossman mill are not correct, I am making reference to assertions which are not facts. I have yet to be assured, however, that a number of directors of a public company which has been in existence for years, and whose interests are concerned in the working, not the mere flotation, of a company, would deliberately meet together and publish statements that were untrue. The statements to which I refer were made not only by these directors, but by those who wrote to them asking for the return of deposits which they had forfeited, owing to their inability to supply white labour to cut the crops. That failure to supply white labour has occurred not once but twice. One contractor forfeited his deposit, and the directors made it a gift to the next man who came along and undertook the work. He was promised the deposit, but he not only failed to secure it, but lost his own as well. It is impossible to suppose that these statements are untrue, for they are contained in official documents. There is the ad misericordiam appeal for consideration at the hands of the directors, which was made by the man who failed to win the deposit offered to him and also lost his own.
– What crop did the contractor undertake to cut ? Was it not a crop of rattoons, where the weeds were troublesome, and the cane half-grown?
– I think the statements go to show that the contractor was satisfied that the crop was a fair one.
– It was not.
– The honor-‘ able senator’ will have an opportunity of dealing with the matter later on. If it is difficult and apparently impossible to secure white labour to cut a crop that creates its own breathing space, how much more difficult must it be to obtain white labour to work within the rows of cane, and to trash it, ‘or, in other words, to remove the dead leaves. I am not speaking without some little personal knowledge of sugar-growing, because my late father was one of the most prominent pioneers of the sugar industry in New South Wales. He lost years of his life and thousands of pounds in endeavouring to establish the industry of sugar-growing, in New South Wales, at a point south of the line at which it has since been found profitable. “Therefore, I am speaking with an intimate knowledge of sugar-growing and sugar-making up to a certain point. I am not speaking as a man whose knowledge has been wholly obtained by reading reports and newspaper paragraphs, or even by visiting cane-fields. I am speaking with a sense of heavy family loss which, to a certain extent, is reflected upon myself as the son of a man who lost large sums of money, and many years of his life, in an endeavour to achieve success in a new industry. I hope that I shall be forgiven for this personal reference. I have made it simply with a view of showing that I am not a mere doctrinaire, or one who has picked up a few phrases about sugar-growing. So farback as the sixties, I had an immediate connexion with the industry.
– Would the efforts made by the honorable senator’s father have been successful had kanakas been employed]
– Not where we were situated. But I have not raised the question of kanaka labour, except in so far as I have said that we have been paying a rebate on sugar produced from cane supposed to have been grown by white labour, but which was never in reality cultivated by white labour. The future lies before us. Whether by Act of Parliament we can succeed in altering the decrees of Providence is a problem we are now attempting to solve. We have heard of the Frenchman who regretted his non-existence at the time of the Creation, because if he had been there he could have given the Almighty several useful hints ; and if, in accordance with a belief of that kind, we think we can alter the climate, the temperature, the atmosphere of the country, and also the characteristics of the worker, to suit existing labour conditions, by Act of Parliament, well and good. We are now engaged in that experiment, but I repeat that as regards the employment of white women by the rapacious husbands and fathers, and the employment of young’ children, there is no word of condemnation that can be offered in opposition to such a state of affairs, which is not worthy of a” man who attempts to represent the people. I am saying nothing under the shelter of privilege. I published the same statements, with my name attached, in the morning press of Sydney when I came back from North Queensland. It is notorious that there are persons engaged in the sugar industry who are debasing their women folk and destroying the health of their young children by placing them.at labour which the average white man will not tackle, and the advantage they obtain from this sweated labour is supplemented by a bonus? It is the worst form of sweating for a man to make use of a wife or a daughter or a child to do such work, which even with a £50 bonus thrown in he cannot get white labourers to tackle. That is what I am objecting to,’ and that is what I intend to take the vote of the Senate on. I think that my honorable friends in the labour party will be the first to support the refusal to pay a bonus in respect of cane grown by female labour or by child labour, because if there is one particular subject to which they have devoted themselves, and for which they are entitled to credit in then-career as a political body, it is the effort by which they have successfully assisted to put down sweating in various trades. What sweating can be worse than the sweating of a man’s own children and wife ?
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that that is generally done in North Queensland ?
.- No ; but I say that there are many instances of its being done.
– In what portion of North Queensland?
– I do not think that the dragging in of names would raise the character of the debate. I am not going to drag m any names.
– If the honorable senator makes a charge he ought to name the district to which he refers.
– If my honorable friend says that the evil I speak of does not exist, I reply that he has his sources of information and I have mine. Surely he cannot be opposed to me in endeavouring to prevent an occurrence of the kind in the future, even if he says it does not exist at present.
– No ; I am denying the accusation, and asking that the district shall be named.
– If my honorable friend knows all that has been going on for the last twelve months in every part of Queensland, well, he has almost achieved omnipotence.
– Surely the honorable senator can name the districts in which this thing takes place.
.- I shall not give any names. I am speaking on the authority of Government inspectors of cane fields, and that should be good enough information even if I had no further knowledge of the subject. If my honorable friends do not think that.it exists, let them go up and inquire on the spot. I am sure that Senator Dawson will not suppose that I am making an assertion except on what I believe to be good authority.
– Hear, hear. All I ask is that the district in which it exists shall be named.
– It is admitted that I do not wish to slander anybody. I am only speaking in respect of information communicated to me on the spot. Even if my honorable friend has sources of information which justify him in thinking that I have been misinformed, still that does not alter the fact that in the interests of the womanhood of Australia it is desirable that we shall under no circumstances permit the employment of women and children under a tropical sun in work for which it has hitherto been found difficult to obtain white labour.
– If they could not get black labour should they allow their crop to go to ruin?
– My honorable friend, with his known kindliness of heart and goodness of disposition, will see that his question lays him open to the charge of being an advocate of the sweating of womanhood where the planter cannot get male labour. I am sure that he does not mean that.
SenatorFraser. - Not necessarily.
– With this exception, and, perhaps, one other that I believe Senator Millen intends to bring forward, I am entirely in favour of” the Bill, which is, I believe, based on broad equity, because if Australia, as a whole, is to benefit by the white Australia policy, then all the States should pay the price of it, and the burden should not be thrown on one or two States. I give the Government every credit for bringing in a Bill which is equitable so far as I am able to form an opinion. I support the measure with the exception that I wish to see a provision made that child and female labour shall not be used to gather in the bonus, and I shall give my assent - at least, I think I shall- - to the amendment which is to be submitted by Senator Millen with the object of securing a greater measure of equity in the distribution of the bonus.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).As regards the measure itself, I havenothing to add to what has been said. I propose to support the second reading. The oversight that has rendered its introduction necessary was one which was quite natural, and for which no blame can possibly attach to anybody. As Senator Drake has remarked, it was hardly possible to foresee everything when shaping the Tariff in the early portion of last session. It is one of those little oversights which we all have to share the responsibility of, and which may very well be pardoned. What I desire to draw attention to is the exact meaning of clause 2. I assume that its purpose is to insure that the bonus shall be paid to every cane-grower who uses white labour. But as it stands it almost seems to me that it will be only some of the employers of white labour who will get in. It decrees that the bonus shall be paid on sugar-cane or beet -
In the production of which sugar-cane or beet, white labour only has been employed after the 28th February, 1903.
As we know that kanakas are being lawfully employed in Queensland, and as the Act which provides for their deportation countenances their employment until the termination of their existing contracts, it seems to me that, under the wording of this clause, a sugar-grower using a kanaka after that date, and subsequently dispensing with him, and then reverting to white labour, could not claim the bonus on the sugar which will be the result of the employment of white labour. I understand that in the ease of sugar-cane it is possible to get two or three yields from one planting.
– I have known a tenth crop to be got.
– It will be sufficient for my purpose if a planter gets only a second crop. The plant having been planted and the crop reaped with black labour, and the second year’s cultivation effected by white labour, it will be possible to say that the second crop was not entitled to the bonus. I- cannot think that that is the intention of the Government.
– Yes, after 19th March. 1903.
– I am very glad to have that straight-out declaration, because if so I propose to vote against the Bill. Are we to understand that, if a planter who to-day is employing a kanaka under the State law, and can employ him for a certain time longer, next year dispenses with him to employ white labour, he is not to get the bonus, although he employs white labour 1
– If he employs black labour after that date, he will not be entitled to the bonus.
– Supposing that in Queensland to-day a planter is employing black labour with the countenance of both the State law and the Federal law, and that next year he dispenses with black labour and employs white labour, will he get the bonus on next year’s crop?
– No, because he has been employing black labour. If he plants his cane with white labour he gets the bonus.
– We have a Federal law in which the planters were told that they could continue their engagements with their kanakas - under their State law they can continue to employ kanakas for a given period - and that those who dispensed with kanakas were to get a rebate. Taking advantage of the opportunity which was afforded to them of gradually dispensing with coloured labour, the planters proceeded to do so. This year a planter who has 50 or 100 kanakas under contract lets that contract run out, dispenses with black labour, and then employs white labour, but next year, although for the whole period of twelve months - from the reaping of one crop to the gathering of the other - he has never had other than white labour on his plantation, he is not to get a bonus, because the plant was planted some time previously.
– Would the honorable senator expect the planter to get the whole of the bonus ?
– I lay down this principle : that if, from the gathering of one crop till the taking in of the other, the whole of the work is done by white labour, the planter is entitled to the bonus.
– That is the only practicable plan to carry out the whole of the arrangement.
– It is the only honest plan.
– All the planters told me that they were perfectly satisfied with this extension.
– After that explanation, sooner- than see the Bill put through I shall vote against it. Because I do not believe for a moment that it was ever intended to tell the planters, when we passed the Pacific Island Labourers Act, concurrently with the sugar rebate provision in the Excise Act, that we were playing a fraud with them, for that is really what it amounts to. What was the good of offering .this opportunity of gradually dispensing with kanaka, labour if we were simply to say that for the whole time, seven or ten years; as long as a single root remained under cultivation, in the planting of which the kanaka had anything to do, the planter was not to get the bonus?
– That is not so.
– Then the honorable and learned senator is to blame for my being in the wrong, because I asked him the question, which I will put again. If a planter plants ‘a crop with black labour this year, and dispenses with black labour on the 31st December this year ; and if during the whole of next year he employs white labour only, does he get the bonus ?
– -If he plants with black labour he does not get the bonus.
– The root of the cane is put in this year, and will produce several harvests. Yet the Postmaster-General says that if that root has been planted by black labour this year or last year-
– I do not say last year.
– When, then?
– This year ; if it is planted hy black labour this year there will be no bonus.
– That is the position I am taking up - that during this year some planting is done with kanaka labour ; a crop is taken off ; and from that time to the gathering of the next crop, nothing but white labour is employed on the plantation. Yet for the subsequent crop, and for the next one, and ‘for the next crops up to ten - because I have the assurance that ten crops can be taken from one plantation - no bonus will be paid.
– A plantation would not be much good if ten crops were taken off it; five might be taken.
– If roots have been planted by kanakas and one crop has been taken off with the aid of black labour it is at all events admitted by the PostmasterGeneral that the planter would be able to take off four more crops from the same stools. But no bonus will be paid on account of the four subsequent crops.
– That is only in the future; it does not apply to the past.
– Does the honorable senator suppose that I want him to tell me that ?
– The honorable senator did not seem to understand it.
– It may be impossible for the honorable senator to understand what I understand, but I think I know. I have an assurance that four or five crops can be taken from one plant or root ; and, although the kanakas are there to-day under the Federal law as well as under the State law, if a plant is put in to-day with the aid of kanaka labour, and four subsequent crops are taken off it with the aid of white labour, and those four .are entirely cultivated by white labour, the planter cannot get the bonus. What is the planter to do with the kanakas whom he already has in his employ?
– Get rid of them.
– He cannot ; because if he did he could be sued for breach of contract under the State law. I am not saying that so long as a planter employs kanaka labour he should get the bonus, but I do say that when he has “ white-washed” his plantation and done ‘what this Parliament wants him to do by dispensing with kanakas and employing white labour only, he should receive the bonus for the crops taken off his plantation during the time it was cultivated by white labour. He is entitled to ask for and receive the bonus provided for in this measure for what he has done in that respect.
– Otherwise he will keep his kanakas for the five years.
– There is a distinct inducement to do so.
– If we alter this regulation the inducement will be .to keep the kanakas.
– What inducement is there to dispense with the kanakas when the planter cannot get the bonus?
– The honorable senator wants the planter to get the bonus for sugar partly grown by white and partly by black labour.
– If the honorable and learned senator means that the planting of the root by black labour means partly growing the cane by black labour, he is correct. But it is surely necessary to allow for the transition stage between the employment of white and black labour. It is necessary to recognise that something of the kind had to take place. You should not bring your guillotine down so sharply.
– We have extended the time twice.
– For what ?
– To give the planters an opportunity of planting with white labour.-
– I am not speaking of the action of the Government in the past. If I were I might have to employ stronger language. I am speaking of the Bill now before the Senate, and I ask for the judgment of the Senate as to whether it will allow the clause which I have been criticising to be passed as it stands. It is inevitable that, kanakas having been employed upon the sugar plantations of Queensland, some, legacy of their work should remain. You cannot get rid of them all at once. It must be seen that there is necessarily a stage when the planter will be passing from the use of black labour to the use of white. There must be a reasonable recognition of the facts of the case. The planters who have put in roots with the aid of black labour, cannot be expected to rip up those roots and re-plant with white labour.
– They are not required to rip up their roots, but they should not claim the bonus until they have done the work with white labour.
– Surely if a planter puts inrattoons, and a crop is taken off them, and afterwards he dispenses with black labour, and harvests his crop, and cultivates his plantation with white labour, he is entitled to claim the bonus.
– He would then be getting a bonus on the black labour employed in planting.
– But what is the other position ? If you do not give the planter the bonus, he has every inducement to retain kanakas in his employment until his stools are worked out. I could understand it if the Government said, “ While we, in tend to pay the full measure of the bonus for sugar which from the inception of the first planting has been handled by white labour, we will pay a smaller proportion of the bonus for sugar produced from crops that have been only partly handled by white labour.” In the cases I have indicated, where plants were put in with kanaka labour and in subsequent years crops were taken off by white labour, to give the planters some proportion of the bonus in recognition of the fact that they have dispensed with black labour would be a fair solution of the difficulty. But to say that they are to get no bonus at all in the future and no inducement for dispensing with black labour is most unfair. Some provision should be made on the lines I have mentioned. While the full bonus is paid to those who plant and handle and cut their cane with white labour only, at least some proportion of the bonus - what proportion I do not say - should be given to those who in the later stages of cultivation have employed white labour only. I would allow nothing for the crop produced while kanaka labour was employed ; but the moment the planters dispense with their kanakas and employ white labour let them have the benefit of the policy we have sought to inaugurate, and give them a proportion of the bonus.
– This matter is so intensely complicated that unless we give it very long and careful consideration I believe that we shall make another blunder. The Bill now before us is certainly an improvement upon the previous measure, but it does an injustice to the State which I represent as compared with New South Wales to such an extent that I feel bound on behalf of Tasmania to ask my honorable and learned friend, the Postmaster-General, to pay careful attention to me for a few moments while I consider the terrible loss that Tasmania is going to sustain, and the exceedingly advantageous position in which New South Wales is about to be placed. I am alluding to the fact that very few black labourers have in the past been employed in New South Wales, and to the enormous loss of revenue which my State is suffering, while New South Wales suffers no loss whatever.
– Some honorable senators want to give £2 a ton to piebald-grown sugar for ever.
– I should like the Minister to understand that for the year 1900 the consumption of sugar in Tasmania was 7,800 tons, which at £6 per ton brought us in a revenue of £47,000. That meant a larger revenue than the whole of the income tax of Tasmania. But we are now called upon to suffer a loss of that revenue to such an extent that the question becomes very serious. I do not know whether my brother Tasmanian senators are going to support me, but I shall feel bound to propose some amendment with the object of doing justice to my State. Taking the excise at £3 per ton and the rebate for white-grown sugar at £2 a ton, if all foreign sugar is shut out, and if no rebateis claimed, Tasmania will lose £23,500 a year. But if rebate of £2 a ton is claimed on all sugar produced in Australia and consumed in Tasmania, our loss will be £40,000 a year.
– Is the honorable and learned senator giving those figures from the tables issued by the Treasury?
– No ; from information supplied by the statistician of Tasmania. Our loss may range from £23,000 to £40,000. Even in the tables now put before us, Tasmania’s revenue is put down at £34,500, whereas I have shown that in 1900 we received £47,000 from this source. A small State like mine cannot afford to suffer this enormous loss. I never heard that there was any black labour trouble in northern New South Wales. I understood that the great bulk of the sugar cane produced there was - to all intents and purposes - cultivated by white men. My argument is borne out by the figures before us, which show that the sugar produced by black labour in Queensland was85 per cent. of the whole quantity, whereas in New South Wales the sugar produced by black labour was only 15 per cent. of the whole. Those figures show that there are really very few kanakas employed in New South Wales. Yet Ministers have been induced to bring in a Bill which will make the consuming States, which are already losing seriously on their sugar revenue, pay a bonus to New South Wales for induciug her to do what she has always done.
– Can we differentiate between New South Wales and Queensland ?
– I certainly think we ought to do so. I quite understand that there would be a difficulty about differentiating between Bundaberg, Mackay, and Cairns ; but if there are 300 or 400 miles between the Tweed and the Richmond rivers, where sugar is grown in New South Wales, and Bundaberg, why cannot we differentiate between the State which has no black labour and the State which has?
– Can we, under the Constitution, give a bonus to one State and not to another ?
– I am afraid we cannot, but that is no reason why an injustice should be done to Tasmania. The facts show that instead of conserving the interests of Australia, as some of us thought we were doing, we were simply the slaves of a phrase when we inaugurated this policy. I want to call attention to the loss of revenue which the Commonwealth is going to sustain. Let us look the facts fairly in the face and see exactly what we are doing for the sake of making Australia white - when we know all the while that it is going to be piebald. I understand that the consumption of sugar is about 180,000 tons, and if the time comes - as come I hope it may - when the whole of our sugar is produced in Queensland and New South Wales - principally in Queensland - we shall lose on the basis of £5 a ton about £900,000 a year. When the consumption has increased to 200,000 tons the loss will be absolutely £1,000,000. I should like Senator Drake to supply us with an estimate showing what the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers think we shall have to pay for a white Australia. Let us know what it is going to cost, and then let us ask ourselves whether the game is worth the candle 1 Probably our friends in the labour corner may say that it is worth while, and other honorable senators may have the courage to say that it is not. If it is going to take from Tasmania a revenue of £30,000 a year in one item, all I can say is that we cannot possibly afford it.
– Does it require courage to speak the truth ?
– What is the use of my honorable friend talking in that way? It is not a question of telling the truth, but a question of opinion. We all know that at certain times it is human nature for people to wish to go with the crowd. It is not a question of the truth - I wish it was - it is a question of opinion upon which no two of us agree. Our experience, since we passed the Act, goes to show, so far as evidence can be obtained, that we have probably made a mess of it. I do not care to consider whether they can or cannot, but we have evidence to show that white men will not do the work required to be done in the north of Queensland. That evidence comes to us from bishops, clergymen, and missionaries, who desire to see a white Australia as much as any honorable senator in this Chamber. All the evidence coming to us goes to show that we cannot get the sugar industry efficiently attended to by white labour.
– As a lawyer, what does the honorable and learned senator think of the evidence given by Senator Neild ?
– As a member of the Senate I read every pamphlet and every article published on the subject, and I believe - having confidence in men who understand the matter probably better than Senator Higgs- that if the work has got to be done by white labour the effect will probably be to deteriorate the race in the north of Queensland.
SenatorFraser. - The race will object to that.
– Of course it will. If Senator Higgs is prepared to dispute that, the honorable senator is prepared to dispute the opinion of men who know more about the subject than he does himself.
– Would not that apply equally to all the industries in the north ?
– Not to the same extent. I understand that it was stated in another place that the real difference in cost between the cultivation and harvesting of cane by white labour, as compared with black labour, is only 6d. per ton. Honorable senators will see, that, in this Bill, we are allowing 4s. per ton. Do not let us make any more blunders. Is a bonus of4s. per ton a fair bonus? We have been told by an honorable member in another place that 6d. per ton. would be a fair thing, and it will be admitted that there is a vast difference between 6d. and 4s. I ask the Minister in charge of this Bill, and every other honorable senator, before we agree to pay a bonus of 4s. per ton, to see that we have statistics and facts to enable us to determine what a fair bonus would be. There is an enormous difference between 6d. and 4s., and I should like to know where the truth lies. Another matter alluded to at some length by Senator Millen is old ground as far as I am concerned. When I went to Bundaberg I found the planters there up in arms, and when I came back I tabled certain questions in the Senate, to which Senator O’Connor gave me bluffing answers, amidst the cheers and laughter of the labour party. When. I got back to Tasmania, I was so impressed by the gross injustice of what the Government was doing that I wrote to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I got back a snubby letter. Within a month from that time, the Minister for Trade and Customs had done the very thing which he had been requested to do by the planters and by myself. On two occasions he very properly extended the time during which the planters could register as being willing to cultivate entirely by white labour. The Senate has sanctioned the continuance of kanaka labour until the 1st January, 1907, and we have also sanctioned the introduction of kanakas up to the 31st December, 1903. Taking those facts in conjunction with the point in which Senator Millen and myself are interested, it will be seen how grossly unjust this Bill is. We allow the planters under the law to introduce black men up to the end of this year, and we compel them to introduce them under, I believe, a three years agreement. We thus facilitate action on the part of the planters in introducing kanakas. Some of the planters may have extended their agreements with the kanakas for a further three years. Yet if they plant cane by black labour, and at any time hereafter say that they are going to employ white labour, and actually cultivate with white labour for twelve months, they will not be entitled to abonus. If the planter has entered into an agreement with his kanakas, and is bound to keep them, surely he has a right to plant cane with that black labour ; and if the moment their agreement is up he deports them to their islands, and then continues to cultivate that cane for twelve months with white labour, as a matter of right and justice we cannot deny him the bonus. Just as the Minister for Trade and Customs would not listen to what he was urged to do by the planters and by myself, and yet on two subsequent occasions extended the time, so will the right honorable gentleman again have to extend the time provided for under this Bill.
– The planters told me that this was all they wanted, and that they would not ask for any further extension, and I told the Minister for Trade and Customs so.
– I ask Senator Millen not to think me guilty of inconsistency because, while agreeing with him that, as between planter and planter, a great injustice is proposed under this Bill, I hold that, as between Tasmania and the planters, another consideration of justice is involved, and I am inclined to think that the poorer States, who require revenue, have gone to the end of their tether in trying to do justice to theplanters. As between the poorer States and the planters, I do not know that we should go a step further. We have treated them most liberally. I am in a difficulty, because while, as between planter and planter, I agree with Senator Milieu’s contention, as between my own State and the planters I think we are being asked to pay far too much for a white Australia, when we might have avoided paying anything if we had simply allowed the kanakas to die out.
– The honorable and learned senator is in a difficulty upon every question.
– Senator Pearce will, I hope, admit that I have made my difficulty plain. In dealing with a measure of this kind a number of side issues demand consideration, and all I plead for is that honorable senators will give this Bill full consideration in order that we may not make another blunder which we would have to correct later on. So firmly do I believe that we shall make a blunder, that I should like to limit the Bill to some extent, and if it could be done under the Constitution I should certainly move the omission of the words “ the Commonwealth,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ within the State of Queensland.” If that cannot be done under the Constitution I scarcely know what course we should adopt, but I shall avail myself of such opportunities as present themselves to show the injustice which Tasmania is suffering from. I should like Senator Drake to supply us with figures showing the actual difference in cost in the planting and harvesting of sugar-cane by white and by black labour, because, as I have stated, we have been informed that the difference is only Gel. per ton and not 4s. as provided for in this Bill.
– I shall tell the honorable and learned senator all I know about it.
– I should also like to have statistics showing how many black men were engaged on the sugar plantations in New South Wales when we passed the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and how many there are there now ?
– This Bonus Bill will operate very unfairly as regards South Australia. In South Australia we have been paying a heavy penalty for a great many years in order that the idea of a white Australia might be given effect to. In obedience to the sentiment in favour of a white Australia we prevented the introduction of coloured labour into the Northern Territory. But, notwithstanding the sacraAce we have made, of some £S0,000 a year for several years, we are now called upon to make another great sacrifice on behalf of a State that paid no respect whatever to the white Australia sentiment, but whose people on the contrary, in the most selfish way, proceeded to develop its territory in the way most profitable to themselves. We have laboured under the disadvantage of maintaining the idea of a white Australia, and have suffered a large loss of revenue. The prodigal daughter, Queensland, is now coming back to the fold, and is making a great appeal for consideration, because she is prepared to support the idea previously given effect to by South Australia, and we are now asked to put the ring on her finger and kill the fatted calf.
– Did not South Australia, once make an experiment with coloured labour, which proved such a ghastly failure that she was glad to let it alone?
– South Aus tralia made no experiment with coloured labour.
– Not in the Northern Territory ?
– It is true that Chinese were allowed -in to build the railway in the Northern Territory, but years ago we passed an Act in South Australia prohibiting any further introduction of Chinese. The taxpayers of South Australia have already paid about £50,000 towards the cause of Federation in connexion with the consumption of the one article of sugar. The revenue derived from sugar prior to Federation was something like £45,000, and this year it is £97,500.
– And yet we get our sugar just as cheaply.
– We do not get it just as cheaply. I can give the honorable senator figures to prove that the consumer in South Australia does not now get his sugar as cheaply as before Federation.
– I know I am getting the same sugar from the same man, in the same bags, and at the same price.
– Then the honorable senator is being more generously treated than other people in South Australia. I can quote figures taken from official statistics of the State of South Australia, and also figures supplied by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It will thus be seen that the Colonial Sugar Company’s charges have really been increased by £3 per ton, and it is difficult to understand how Senator Playford is able to obtain sugar for the price at which he previously secured it. As a matter of fact, consumers of sugar in South Australia are to-day paying £4 5s. per ton in excess of the price they would have had to pay for it if we had not federated. On October 1st, 1901 - seven days prior to the laying of the Tariff on the table of the House of Representatives, and at a time when the duty on sugar was £3 per ton - the price of the Colonial Sugar Company’s Ia sugar was £16 5s. per ton under bond, and £19 15s. duty paid. On 1st November of the same year - a few days after the introduction of the Tariff - the prices were £16 5s. under bond,, and £22 5s. duty paid, the duty having been increased to ±’6 per ton. Honorable senators will see, therefore, that the price was increased to the full extent of the additional duty imposed. On the 1st November, 1902, the price of sugar all over the world - and this is a matter to which I would call Senator Playford’s special atttention - had fallen £1 5s. per ton. The prices in South Australia were then £14 5s. under bond, and £20 5s. duty paid. The price of sugar under bond had falllen, but it will be seen that the full extent of the duty was added to the ruling rates. The present prices in Adelaide are £15 10s. per ton under bond, and £21 10s. duty paid, so that even now we are paying more for our sugar supplies than we had- to pay prior to Federation. There has been no juggling in connexion with these prices. They are quotations from the Colonial’ Company’s 1a sugar, and they show that, notwithstanding the fall of £1 5s. per ton since 1st October, 1901, the price of 1a sugar, duty paid, in Adelaide has increased by £1 15s. per ton. The fall of £1 5s. per ton in the price of sugar all over the world, and the additional £3 for extra duty, represent £4 5s. more than we should be paying had we not federated. Senator Playford tells us, however, that he is paying no more for his sugar than he had to give for it prior to the introduction’ of the Tariff. Instead of now being called upon to pay £1 15s. per ton in excess of the price demanded before Federation, we should really be paying £1 5s. per ton less. ‘ That would have been the position had we not federated. The position is very clearly stated. Owing to the imposition of the duty nf £6 per ton, the people of South Australia are now called upon’ to pay 100 per cent, more duty on their sugar than they were required to give for it before. But it may be urged that the whole of the £97,000 revenue which has been collected from this source has gone into the coffers of the State, and that the Government has received the full benefit of the increased collection. We have been clearly told, however, by the Postmaster-General, that in prosperous years sufficient sugar will be grown within the Commonwealth to supply the wants of the people of Australia. That is what we are all hoping to see ; but we have to remember that .is soon as that position is reached, South Australia will be credited with only about £16,000 a year, instead of the £97,000 per annum now obtained from this source.
– That will be about £1 per ton of sugar consumed.
– Yes. Consequently South Australia will have to make up that loss of about £80,000, which represents about ½d. in the £1 on our land tax by means of increased taxation. Notwithstanding that we shall lose that amount through the Customs, the consumers will not pay less for their sugar. We are asked to contribute a further sum of £5,000 per annum to Queensland and New South Wales, although it has been shown that New South Wales never employed coloured labour to any great extent. This proposal would not have been applied to New South Wales but for the fact that the Constitution provides that a bonus shall not be given for a specific purpose to any one State, but shall be applied to the whole Commonwealth. South Australia has been making great sacrifices, and now she is to be called upon to sacrifice nearly £100,000 a year, in order that she may subscribe to the finances of New South Wales and Queensland. The financial position of these States is better than that of the State which I have the honour to represent. New South Wales at nil events is in a better position than South Australia, while Queensland is doing what we decline to do in the interests of this sentiment.’ This Bill will be monstrously unjust to the people of South Australia.
– Senator Charleston has referred at considerable length to the great injustice which will be inflicted upon the State which he represents if this rebate is applied on a population basis. Prior to Federation no Excise duty was levied on sugar grown in Australia, and the existing duty of £3 per ton really means that the sugar-growers of the Commonwealth have to pay that impost for the privilege of carrying on their operations. In other words they are called upon to pay to the people of Australia as a whole the sum of £274,500 per annum, although to those who produce their sugar by white labour a refund of £60,000 is to be made. It will thus be seen that instead of any injustice being inflicted upon any State by reason of the imposition of this excise duty, a very great benefit is being conferred upon the States among whom the revenue so obtained is distributed. The imposition of the duty has been a distinct advantage to the various States. Of course, a portion of the impost is returned if the sugar upon which it is levied is grown by white labour ; but I cannot see where any injustice occurs.
– The honorable senator should not forget the bookkeeping period.
– But the excise will continue after that period has elapsed. The honorable senator said that South Australia had made enormous sacrifices in order that the policy of a white Australia should be carried out, and that Queensland had acted in a most selfish manner. South Australia certainly prohibited coloured people from entering the Northern Territory. The Government of that State had an opportunity of leasing the Northern Territory to a syndicate upon the condition that they should have a free hand in regard to the employment of coloured labour, and they are entitled to a certain degree of credit for refusing that offer. It must be remembered, however, that no State would have allowed a syndicate or a chartered company to take -such an enormous area under its exclusive control. Therefore, while South Australia is to be commended for its action in that matter, the fact must not be overlooked that it did only what any other State would have done in the circumstances.
– We could have given up the Northern Territory and saved over £80,000 a year.
– But South Australia took it over.
– For the benefit of Australia.
– Purely for the benefit of South Australia. I would point out that Queensland was the first State in the Commonwealth to prohibit the introduction of coloured labour. Thirty or 40 years ago when there were something like 30,000 Chinese on the goldfields near the Palmer River, Sir John Douglas brought in a Bill to prevent coloured labour from coming into Queensland. That Bill was not assented to by the Imperial authorities, and, in order to carry out its object, the State Government had to resort to something in the nature of a ruse - it had to apply strict quarantine regulations, and quarantine all ships which came from China and other parts with coloured labour for Queensland. In view of the fact that the present proportion of coloured labour in Queensland is not nearly so large as it is in the Northern
Territory, the remarks made by Senator Charleston are somewhat harsh. There is a larger proportion of coloured people in the Northern Territory than there is in South Carolina, United States. For every three white people in the Northern Territory there are two coloured aliens, but in Queensland the ratio is very small.
– But the whole of Queensland is not’ within the tropics, while the Northern Territory is.
– I am not referring to that fact. I think that Senator Millen’s contention is an admirable one. If the people who are growing sugar in Queensland desire to substitute white for coloured labour, surely we should give them every encouragement. In dealing with this matter we must recollect that, having put in a crop, the planters do not plant again for from three to six or seven years. If we say to them that until they have put in their crops by white labour, they shall not reap the benefit of this rebate,’ although they employ white labour in all the remaining operations, we shall force them to continue the employment of coloured labour, although, ostensibly, we desire them to discontinue it. If the amendment is carried, and we provide that as long as they employ white labour from the time of one cutting until the next takes place, we shall mete out justice to them. If they comply with that condition they will be undoubtedly entitled to the refund. Many of these people are employing coloured labour at present, and if we carry the Bill as presented by the Government every kanaka that it is possible to introduce this year into Australia will be brought in. Those who are in the unfortunate position of having failed to plant since the 2Sth February last will receive no benefit so long as their crops continue, and therefore they will import as many kanakas as the)’ can in order to derive the benefit of cheap labour.
– But they have known all about this matter from the first, and two extensions have been granted to them.
– These people must be in the unfortunate position of not being able to substitute white labour, because they have had coloured labour under contract.
– The planters at Cairns told me that they would be perfectly satisfied if they got this extension.
– Certain planters may have made that statement to Senator Drake, because they may have been in a position to accept an extension and benefit by it, but other planters, probably the majority of them, would not be in that position. It is a common thing for a mau to say, “ As it does not affect me, I am quite agreeable to it he does not think of other persons.
– It affects these men very much.
– It will affect them beneficially, because they can get the bonus. Our desire is to get the planters to discontinue growing sugar by coloured labour. If they comply with this requirement - from one cutting to another cutting - then they ought undoubtedly to be allowed to receive the bonus.
– I hope that my honorable friend will give me an opportunity of explaining the clause before he makes up his mind.
– Many senators are in favour of a white Australia so long as it does not cost their State anything. For instance, Senator Symon said the other day that if the bonus had to be paid on a population basis, it would cost South Australia a couple of thousand pounds and put a strain on the Federal feeling there.
– Does not the honorable senator think that there ought to be a limit fixed? Is he prepared to pay £1,000,000 to get rid of the kanakas?
– We do not pay anything ; we receive a large sum and hand back a small portion of it as a bonus. We receive £274,000 a year from the planters for the privilege of growing sugar-cane, and a small portion of that sum, £60,000, is given back.
– Those figures are wrong ; we are handing back two-thirds of what they pay.
– Yes, if it is all grown by white labour, but not one-half of it is grown by white labour. If we were handing back everything, we should be in no worse a position now than we were in before federation, because we should be handing back only what we received from them. We all enjoy very great benefits as the result of sugar-growing in Queensland, and therefore we ought to be very well satisfied to encourage the white
Australia policy, and to agree to the bonus being debited to the States on the per capita basis.
– I am sure that Queenslanders generally must feel very grateful for the manner in which senators from other States have met this proposal of the Government. There are only two States - Queensland more so than’ New South Wales - which are particularly desirous of getting this bonus. While we are naturally anxious to get the benefit of the bonus, and of a white Australia, we must see that we do not defeat our aim. I venture to think that if Senator Millen’s proposition is carried out we shall not succeed in our desire to have cane produced by white labour. Perhaps honorable senators may think it strange that I should urge a limit to be put on this proposal, but I do so in the interests of the producers of white-grown sugar. When the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was passed, towards the end of 1901, all the planters knew that kanaka labour was to be done away with. The Government and all those of us who favoured a white Australia were in a dilemma as to how best to encourage the white grower, and it was decided that the best way would be to give a rebate of 4s. a ton to the man who produced his cane with white labour. A number of growers - over 1,000 - registered to produce white-grown sugar, and the question was put to the Minister - “ Am I to be debarred from getting the bonus because I planted my cane with black labour in 1901? I do not think I should be so debarred.” The Minister said “ No ; we shall not debar you because your cane was planted in 1901. We shall not. debar you if your cane was planted in the early part of 1902. But if you plant cane with black labour after that time you will not get the bonus.” That was the limit at that time. Senators Dobson, Drake, and others went through Queensland, and a number of cane-growers said that they did not know that the white Australia policy was likely to be so successful, otherwise they would not have planted their cane with black labour, and they wished to know if they would be debarred from getting the bonus this year if their cane was planted with black labour at the end of 1902. The Minister came out with a new regulation, and said - “ Those who plant cane with black labour up to February, 1903, shall get the bonus, but we are not going to allow any further extensions. If you plant cane with black labour after the date you will not get the bonus.” What will happen if it is made possible up to the- end of 1907 for a man to claim . the bonus for whitegrown sugar? How will the Government be able to say what is white-grown sugar ?
– They will register twelve months before.
– If they register twelve months before, I imagine that it will not be open to the end of 1907. To show the success of the rebate or bonus system, 1,600 out of the 2,610 planters mentioned by Dr. Maxwell in his report - all small men it is admitted - are registered to produce white grown sugar. If we allow a man to get the bonus this year, to employ kanakas next year to do the greater portion of the work in producing white grown sugar, and to come along in 1905 and ask for a bonus, is that fair to the planters who have continued to employ white labour since the commencement of the. operation of the Act ? I do not think it is. Senator Drake knows of some cases in which the planters have taken advantage of the bonus for 1902, and as soon as it was paid, reverted to the use of black labour. Is that what the Senate wishes to encourage? Senator Drake has told us that at Cairns he was waited upon by a deputation of planters, who said that they would be perfectly satisfied with this concession. Some honorable senators think that an injustice is being done, but I am satisfied that no injustice will be done in limiting the time to 1903. The great injustice which I think the Bill does is in providing that, at the end of 1907 the bonus shall cease, because in the Commonwealth we have 60,000 coloured aliens. The Premier of Queensland, who hoped the white Australia pOlicy would get a fair trial, has said that a number of the planters in that State are employing Hindoos, Chinese, and other coloured aliens in place of the kanakas. What is to happen at the end of 1907, if one plantation has 100 Hindoos employed and a neighbouring one has white men employed? Should not the planters who employ white labour receive some encouragement ? Would honorable senators by the withdrawal of the bonus compel those planters to revert to the employment of coloured labour - Papuans, South Sea Islanders, or Hindoos 1 I imagine that there will be considerable difficulty in getting rid of the kanakas.
I shall do my best to see that the provisions of the Act are carried out, but we do ‘ not know what obstacles may be placed in our way. Now, dismissing the kanakas from our consideration, we have in the Commonwealth 70,000 other coloured aliens, in respect of whom we have uo legislation. Until the law is altered we shall not be able to send the Chinese away, and in all probability a number of the bigger planters who now employ South Sea Islanders will, as soon as they have to get rid of that labour, employ Hindoos and Chinese. The small grower who is prepared to employ white labour should be in some way encouraged in that regard, and should not be asked to compete with the planters who can employ Hindoos and Chinamen. This sugar question has given the free-trade party a nut to crack. Although we have an import duty of £6 per ton and an excise duty of £3 per ton, yet the people throughout the Commonwealth, so far as I can ascertain, get their sugar cheaper now than they did before.
– They do not.
– As a small householder, I know what I pay, and from the grocers I know what is charged generally. In Melbourne sugar which- was sold at 2Ad. per lb. before federation is now sold at 2£d.
– The world’s price has fallen £1 5s. a ton.
– There may be a slight difference in the wholesale price, but I am speaking of the cost of the article to the consumer, whom the free-trade party said , would have to pay the extra duty.
– The imposition of the duty has been an injury and not an advantage to the grower, because he has to sell for less now than he did before, according to the honorable senator.
– No ; what I mean to say is that there has been such a lowering of the price of sugar in Europe that, with our duty, it can come in and keep down the price of the local article to what it is. I commend this fact to Senator Millen’s notice, because he was very much . amused when somebody said that the consumer did not pay the duty. We can now show that the sugar consumer is not paying the duty in this case.
– If that is the case, will the honorable senator vote for abolishing the duty, and putting up the price for the benefit of the growers 1
– If we abolish the duty the price will go down lower.
– If we took off the £6 per ton, the sugar industry in Queensland would be ruined. Even with black labour we could not compete with sugar-producers in other parts of the world. There is no getting away from the solid fact that, while we are paying £6 per ton on imported sugar, we are paying less for our sugar retail. I shall try in Committee to secure an extension of the term from 1907 to, say, 1910. I know that the date 1907 which we fixed in the Customs Tariff Bill has created a fear in the minds of sugar planters that the rebate may be taken away from them at that date. The date ought to be ex tended in order to give them an additional assurance. The excise ought to be retained, because it does not come out of the growers’ pockets, but largely out of the pockets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The bonus or rebate of £2 per ton has been a God-send to the growers of cane by white labour in Queensland, because they get the same price now for their cane - 12s., 13s., or 14s. per ton - as they did before, in addition to the bonus from the Government. The storekeepers and others throughout Queensland ‘ are delighted with the change, and have become converts to the white Australia policy. I do not anticipate that those who favour that policy will have any trouble with their constituents at the next election, so that Senator Fraser’s doleful prognostications as to what is going to happen to me at the hands of Queenslanders are not likely to be realized.
– I have frequently said that the Government policy in respect to sugar was very foolish. It is now proven to be so from the very Bill which we have in our hands. They now have to undo what they formerly did. I am not going to oppose the Bill - unless I change my mind afterwards - but even if we make this alteration there will be more trouble ahead. The Queensland sugar industry was making enormous headway under the State Government. It had no protection whatever.
– Oh yes it had.
– What was itf
– £5 per ton.
– That was of no use to the growers.
– Oh, yes, it was.
– There was a nominal duty throughout Australia I am quite aware, but every honorable senator knows that it was of no value. It was of about as much use to the producer as would be a duty imposed on wool, wheat, and butter. I have bought sugar in Queensland for the last 35 years. Quite recently I have paid as low as ten guineas for No. 3 sugar produced in Queensland. The sugar was sold in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Tasmania, and even in London, without any advantage from’ a duty and competed with sugars grown in other parts of the world. It was a remarkably cheap product from the point of view of the Queensland people. Of course Queensland sugar, sold in Melbourne in competition with sugars produced elsewhere, could not be cheaper than the other sugars because it had to pay duty.
– The Queensland growers would not like to sell sugar in Melbourne now in competition with the world.
– Exactly. When we. imposed a duty of £6 per ton on imported sugar we gave the Queensland grower an immense advantage because their sugar is sold throughout the Commonwealth without paying any import duty whatever.
– Then there is the £3 excise.
– Yes; but the men who grow their sugar by white labour have now and always will have the advantage of £5 per ton over imported sugar. Of course that is an immense pull to them, and until their sugar is exported will continue to be an advantage. I do not begrudge them the advantage, considering the disabilities under which we have placed them. But, though it is of no use trying to gather up spilt milk, what ought to have been done was to leave the sugar business alone for a few years. Really and truly there was no white Australia about it. The industry would have made great headway if we had let it alone. It will , not make great headway under difficulties, because, no matter what honorable senators say, it will be impossible to grow sugar north of Townsville, without black labour - or labour that will be able to stand the climate. It cannot be done. We now have proof that it cannot be done. I have repeatedly said on the floor of this Senate and now repeat that we ought to have left the sugargrowers alone : because people cannot, even if they wish to do so, grow sugar by white labour in Cairns and similar districts.
– They are. doing it.
– I do not say that there may not be a struggling small man here and there who may attempt ‘ to do it, but I maintain that sugar will not be grown north of Townsville as successfully as it has been grown with the aid of black labour. It is impossible. To grow it with the aid of white labour means asking white men todo what they ought not to do, and cannot do if they try. This policy means putting back that part of Queensland into a primeval condition, which is a foolish thing to do. The statistics before us fully prove my statement. Only 15 per cent, of the sugar grown in Queensland is produced by white labour. This Bill does not treat the growers fairly. Suppose a man puts in a crop this year. The stools will produce sugar for five or six years. It does not appear to me to be at all fair or equitable to refuse to pay that man the bonus, if in the future he cultivates and harvests his sugar with white labour. Is it to be said that because the cane was put down by black labour last year, and because the grower continues to produce sugar from the roots that are in the ground, and employs white labour only, he is to be deprived -of the bonus which is tobe paid to other growers? The position is absurd and unfair. A grower may have put in a crop with the aid of black labour some years ago, and there may be alongside him a nian who put in his cane with white labour. It will require an army oi inspectors to carry out this business. We have too many inspectors already. The Commonwealth is overladen with public servants.
– One of the objections to Senator Millen’s proposal is that it would make the work of inspection more difficult.
– I grant that it may. But are you going to perpetrate a glaring injustice because to do otherwise will entail some expense ?
– We cannot see the injustice.
– I do.
– We say to the planters - “ Do away with black labour, and you shall get the bonus.”
– But that is not quite so. A planter has put in his cane with black labour, but has afterwards entirely done away with black labour. He is producing his crop of sugar with the aid of white labour. He will get crops off his plantation for five or six years. Yet, because he put down the roots with black labour, he cannot participate in the bonus.
– He can, unless he has planted with black labour after the date mentioned in the Bill.
– As I understand it, because a crop was put in by black labour last year, although for the five succeeding years the planter grows sugar with the white labour, he cannot participate in bonus.
– We say that after the 1st March, 1903, he must not plant with black labour.
– That is not quite so severe as I understood it to be. But are the people of the far north of Queensland to be ruined entirely by trying to comply With this law 1 I say there will be very great difficulty, and very great loss entailed. Of course they are getting a great advantage, and I shall personally offer no objection to it ; but, unless I find that I am mistaken in some of my facts, I shall have to vote for the amendment ‘suggested by Senator Millen.
– I should like to say a few words about this Bill, which is one I entirely disapprove of. I do not desire to touch upon the subject of a white Australia, beyond saying that when Queensland spoke out so very strongly upon that subject, she ought to have realized also that if her policy was to be carried out she should be responsible for the burden it entailed. She should not have expected that she would be allowed to come cap in hand and ask such a poor State as Tasmania to pay for the privilege she desired to obtain. Last year Tasmania’s share of the burden to enable Queensland to secure the privilege was £16,206. We lost that amount of money, and got nothing in return for it.
– Did not Tasmania pronounce for a white Australia, and did not Tasmanian representatives approve of the Pacific Island Labourers’ Bill ?
.- I do not think that Tasmania did. Speaking for myself I was most strongly against it. I say that here in the Senate Chamber, and I can go out upon it. I do not see why the Government should now penalize Tasmania still further to the extent which will result from the operation of this Bill. I am sure that every honorable senator is animated as I am myself with a desire to deal fairly and squarely, and to treat all the States of the Commonwealth liberally and properly. But in a matter of this kind it is the duty of the Government to consider the straits that the smaller States are put into financially by the passage of legislation of this character. If we must adopt the bonus arrangement to meet the necessities of Queensland–
– That is not so. It does not affect Queensland.
.- I do not say that I shall do anything to prevent it, but if we must adopt some such legislation I hope that while the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution have to be maintained, the Government will bring forward some scheme whereby the difficulties we are labouring under in various ways, and in this way particularly, may be alleviated to some extent, pending the equalization of the Customs revenue per capita over the whole community.
– The honorable senator must not take it for granted that the per capita system is going to obtain.
.- I quite admit that, but the honorable senator will agree with me that we require some scheme which will deal fairly with all parties. The honorable senator spoke of honesty of purpose just now, and all I ask for is honesty of treatment for the different States. When I find that the small State of Tasmania, which is now in great difficulty financially, is called upon to pay £16,206 for this purpose, it appears to me that the Government cannot have given sufficient consideration to the position of that State, or they would not have brought forward a Bill like this without some provision to meet the case I have laid before the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir John Downer) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a small Bill consequent upon the Bill which we have just been considering.
The matter with which it deals is necessarily put in a separate measure, for reasons which are well known to honorable senators. It deals with the Excise Act of 1902, and makes a necessary alteration in the schedule so as to enable the payments to be made as bounties, and not by way of rebate. The Bill is a very simple one, as honorable senators will see, and consists of only three clauses, giving the necessary authority for the alteration to which I have referred.
– I rise only for the purpose of asking the Postmaster-General how far he proposes to proceed with this measure? The honorable and learned senator himself has stated that this is a natural sequence of the measure which we have just set aside, and it would clearly not do to pass this Bill before we have dealt with the other measure.
– I wish it to follow the other measure.
– So long as it is not intended to go on with this Bill now, I am satisfied.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir John Downer) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate approves of an extension fora period of two years of the arrangements entered into on the5thday of June, 1899, and the 10th day of August, . 1899, by the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland respectively, for the carriage of mails between Australia, Fiji, and Canada by the steamers of the CanadianAustralian Royal Mail Line upon the following terms : -
That this resolution be communicated by message to the House of Representatives.
In this motion the Government are asking the approval of Parliament to the extension of the present Vancouver mail contract for another two years. At the outset, however, I desire, by leave, to amend the motion as I am able now to state what will be the exact cost of this extension to the two States primarily interested. I propose to amend it by striking out the words “ not exceeding £S,000,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “of £6,363 12s. 9d.”
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
– The total amount of the increased subsidy, namely, £16,000, will remain, but the proportions had not been worked out at the time that the motion was framed and placed upon the notice-paper, and, therefore, I could not then give the exact amount. I shall now show the proportions of the subsidy which will be paid by the various contributing bodies. The arrangements relate to services which are practically one, and it is just as well that we should deal with them in that light. The contract, which was originally entered upon for a series of .four years, expired .on the 30th April last. There can be no doubt that during that period the service resulted in a considerable loss, owing largely to the fact that the trade between Australia and Canada has not yet had a fair chance to develop. We hope that in consequence, among other things, of the establishment of more immediate cable communication between Canada and. Australia, the traffic between these two great countries will increase. In the meantime we are asking for authority to extend this service for another two years, so that at the expiration of that time we shall be able to consider the very much wider question of a service of a much better character. I may mention here that I have endeavoured to make arrangements, so that all our mail contracts, including the coastal contracts of the various States, shall fall in about the same time. In that way we shall have a very much better opportunity to negotiate for a first-class mail service. I have had some figures prepared which perhaps will be interesting to honorable senators. They involve matters in regard to which I am continually being questioned, and perhaps it would be as well to place them upon record. The contract for the P. and O. and Orient lines, of which we have heard so much of late, will terminate on the 31st January, 1905, and the subsidy is £72,000 per annum. The contract for the CanadianAustralian line, presuming that this extension is ratified, will expire on the 30th April, 1905, and the subsidy in connexion with it will comprise £13,636 7s. 3d. paid by New South Wales, and £10,227 5s. 6d. paid by Queensland. Then there are certain Queensland contracts. For example, we have the A.U.S.N. contract to carry mails between Brisbane, Cooktown, Gladstone, Townsville, and Cairns - generally known as the Barcoo line - which expires on the 28th October, 1905. The subsidy in that case is £16,750 per annum. There is also the Gulf Line from Brisbane to Normanton, which will expire on the 15th January, 1906, and the subsidy in connexion with which is £6,000 per annum. We have recently entered into a short contract with regard to Tasmania, which will expire on the 30th September, 1906. Under that contract we shall be paying at the rate of £500 per month until the 30th September next, when we shall pay at the rate of £9,000 per annum until 3 1st January, 1905, when a large new steamer will be put into service ; the payment will then be . £13,000 per annum. Another contract provides for a service on the north-west coast of Western Australia - from Fremantle to Wyndham. It will expire on the 2Sth February, 1906, and under it we are paying £4,000 per annum. The contract for a service on the south-east coast of Western Australia - Albany, Esperance, and Eucla - expires on the 31st December, 1905, and for that service we are paying £6,000 per annum. For the service between Adelaide and Port Darwin we are paying £3,600 per annum. These represent the principal contracts that we have for the carriage of mails by sea. It will be observed that they will all expire during the year 1905 or the beginning of 1906, when we shall have to decide the big question of the mail service between Australia and Great Britain. We do not know what service the companies that are now doing the t work, or other companies that may attempt to come in, will be prepared to offer us, but I think it will be agreed that we should have as many strings as possible to our bow when the time comes to call for tenders. That time is rapidly approaching, and I am now taking steps with a view to calling for tenders for new services. It is certainly desirable that when that time arrives we should be able to offer what inducements we can to first-class companies. The service to which this motion refers cannot be put forward primarily as being a postal service, nor can any of the others which I have mentioned. It has been the practice in the past for the various States to debit the expense of these services, to the Postal Department. That practice has been looked upon as a convenient one, but I hope that we shall soon follow the example of other countries, such as Canada, and have a commercial or development fund for the purpose of subsidizing services which, in the main, are run, not for the- purpose of carrying postal matter, but to develop commerce and accommodate shippers and passengers.
– Is it proposed that the cost of the extension of the existing contract shall be charged only to New South Wales and Queensland 1
– This particular extension will be charged to those States. Al* hough it will be a new contract in the sense that we shall have to draw up a fresh agreement and sign it, we regard it really as being an extension of the existing service. The old agreement has actually run out, but the company has been paid to continue the service from month to month. We propose now to extend it for two years from the 1st of May last, in order that it shall not come to an abrupt conclusion. There can be no doubt that the company has lost very heavily in the past in carrying out this service. Of course I cannot undertake to say definitely what its losses have been. Various amounts have been stated, but it cannot be denied that the service has been a losing one for them. In making the new arrangement, therefore, we had to consider the terms upon which the company would consent to carry on for another two years. That matter involved long negotiations between the Government and the company, and the increased amount of £16,000 was the lowest that they would consent to accept for the continuation of the service. Hitherto the subsidy has been paid in the following proportions : - New- South Wales,. £10,000 per annum; Queensland, ‘£7,500 per annum; Canada, £25,000 per annum ; and Fiji, £1,500 per annum. Those payments make up the total subsidy of £44,000 which has been given up to the present time. The increase of £16,000, which will bring the total subsidy up to £60,000, has been apportioned in this way : Canada will pay an additional £9,090 18s. 2d. per annum, the Commonwealth an additional £6,363 12s. 9d. per annum, which will be debited as transferred expenditure to New South Wales and Queensland, and Fiji an additional £545 9s. Id. per annum. The increased sum of £6,363 12s. 9d. to be paid annually by the Commonwealth will be distributed between Queensland and New South Wales, so that the last-named State will be called called upon to pay £3,636 7s. 3d., while Queensland will contribute £2,727 5s. 6d. per annum. One condition which has been insisted upon by the Government and agreed to by the company is that the Miowera, which, as is generally known, is not equal in speed and convenience to the other two boats on the service - the Moana and the Aorangi - shall be taken off for one trip and completely overhauled. Necessary repairs are to be effected and she is to be improved, so as to be made thoroughly efficient to the satisfaction of the Prime. Minister, or at his option, of the Postmaster-General. If the Miowera is improved so as to give that satisfaction, we reckon that she will be able to make her trips as satisfactorily as the Moana and the Aorangi, and we shall then have between Australia and Vancouver a service which will be very satisfactory from a passenger, as well as a cargo, point of view. Of course, as. a postal service, it will also be of very great advantage to us as between Australia and Canada.
– How about the length of time it will take the mails to go to England 1
– From three to four days longer than it takes the mails by the P. and O, line to go to England. So far as Canada is concerned, it is an up-to-date and as good a mail service as we could expect to get. We should have no regular communication with Fiji if it were not for this service. I do not think that I have put the case too strongly because it is of no use to try to make out that it is a first-class mail service. We ask for an extension principally because it is one of our trade routes, and a route in a direction in which we hope that trade will considerably develop. We think that it would be a very unfortunate thing if at this particular time that service should cease.
– Is there any condition in the agreement prohibiting the use of coloured labour 1
– The contract will be carried out according to’ the conditions of our Post and Telegraph Act; It is not usual to ask for the approval of Parliament in a matter of this kind, but the original contract was made subject to parliamentary approval, and obtained that approval, and therefore we think it is right before we take any step to extend the contract that we should again ask for parliamentary approval.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I do not rise with a view of offering any opposition to the motion, for indeed it has my very cordial support, but there are one or two matters to which I should like to draw the attention of the Postmaster-General. While I say that I am not prepared to take exception at this stage to the proposal that the whole of this expenditure shall be charged to certain States, I wish to place on record that I am not prepared to sanction that as a principle so far as the vessels which have to do with our outgoing commerce are concerned. I admit at once that it is a renewal of an existing arrangement, but that arrangement was made when the States were separate entities and had necessarily to arrange for the conduct of their affairs. Surely it was not unreasonable £o assume that once Federation became an accomplished fact all matters of this kind were to be dealt with by the Federal authorities for Federal purposes. This mail service, the cost of which is to fall on two States is distinctly for the benefit of every State in the Union. Can it be supposed for a moment that only the mails of New South Wales and Queensland are transmitted by these boats ? I think it would not be at all difficult to show that this is a charge which might fairly be laid on the Commonwealth. I am not prepared now to take any exception to the motion, or to move any amendment, but as one of the representatives of New South Wales, I wish it to be distinctly understood that, whilst at the present time I agree to the motion, I do not, in any way, indorse the proposition which it really contains.
– It is continuance and maintenance : it all turns on that.
– I am quite aware of that. At the same time, I think it must be admitted that I am stating a reasonable case, and I hope in a reasonable way, when I say that this mail subsidy is distinctly for the benefit of the whole Commonwealth. Surely it was to be supposed that in our external relations matters were to be dealt with from a Commonwealth stand-point only - that if there was any purpose in establishing the Commonwealth at all, it was to permit of that being done.
– Then the bookkeeping clauses come in the way.
– That is quite true, but they will not affect the contention I am advancing - that this charge is one which might fairly have been distributed amongst the States seeing that the result of ‘ the expenditure must be a general benefit. I do not mean to say that the lion’s share of that benefit may not be reaped by the two States containing the ports of call. These subsidized steamers running to another country must clearly carry the mails of all the States.
– We will charge other States poundage.
– The honorable and learned gentleman cannot charge the other States poundage in this case, because he pays a lump sum.
– Yes, we can
– If it is done the honorable and learned gentleman is wrong in saying that this cost is to be charged against New South Wales and Queensland.
– That is what will be done first of all ; but thosé States can get the advantage of any poundage which is charged to other States.
– The poundage is so small that it is hardly worth talking about. I do not think that it in any way affects my contention that since this service is for the good of all the States it ought to be paid for by the States in proportion either to the population or to the benefit which it is held that they derive therefrom. Seeing that I have approached the subject with some idea, so far as the representative of one State can do, of rendering some slight assistance to the other States, I may be pardoned for expressing the hope that the representatives of the other States will consider, in a similar spirit, any proposition wherein it may appear that New South Wales gains some slight advantage. I wish to draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the time-table. If a letter which I had the opportunity of perusing is correct, there has been a great deal of clumsiness in fixing the dates for the despatch of the vessels. I understand that two steamers largely serving the same purpose have sailed on the same date.
– We have no control over one of them.
– The steamer over which the Postmaster-General has no control has a fixed sailing day, and if he knows the day on which the Oceanic boat sails, surely it ought to be possible, as an ordinary matter of business, in making his arrangements with a firm he proposes to subsidize, to have some voice in fixing the dates on which their boats shall sail.
– Would not the other company change their sailing dates then ? For some reason or other they always will send out their boats on the same day - why, I do not know.
– No; the honorable and learned gentleman sends out his boat at the same time as they send out their boat. I do not hold him responsible for the sailing of the other boat, but I merely suggest that some step might be taken to largely increase our mail facilities with the American continent and Europe. I am sure that the honorable and learned gentleman will admit the desirability of doing that if it can be done.
– We tried to do that, but we found that the non-subsidized boat would run on the same date as the other. That is the tendency, and that is what we want to check.
– Possibly there is a tendency of that kind in order to compete with the subsidized boat, but I still think itis possible to take some step to improve our external communication.
– We are trying to do so.
– I am very pleased that Senator Millen has spoken as he has done. My attention has also been drawn to this matter. If it is to be a purely mail service, it is a question whether it would not be more rapid viâ SanFrancisco. But I take it that the wish of the Seriate is rather to support the all-red route, and hence our willingness, I presume, to put up with the slight delay in the carriage of the mails. The information which has been furnished to me would seem to show that very shortly a mail will go from San Francisco to New York in three and a half days, and consequently it is desirable that our mail boats should possess a greater rate of speed than they have hitherto done. I was glad to hear Senator Drake say that theMiowera is to be replaced - by a boat of larger tonnage, I presume?
– She is to be overhauled and repaired.
– I presume that when the contract expires, two years hence, tenders will be called for a service either viâ Vancouver or viâ San Francisco.
– Very soon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill is designed to prevent an inconvenience which, we think, may arise under the wording of the Constitution Act on the occasion of the next election of senators. We have the general provision with regard to the election of members of the Senate, which, I think, is perfectly clear to all senators. We have all gone through an election for the term of six years, and I think I need hardly say anything with regard to that portion of the subject. Section 15 says -
If the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of service, the Houses of Parliament of the State for which he was chosen shall, sitting and voting together, choose a person to hold the place until the expiration of the term, or until the election of a successor as hereinafter provided, whichever first happens. But if the Houses of Parliament of the State are not in session at the time when the vacancy is notified, the Governor of the State, with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, may appoint a person to hold the place until the expiration of fourteen days after the beginning of the next session of the Parliament of the State, or until the election of a successor; whichever first happens.
At the next general election of members of the
House of Representatives, or at the next election of senators for the State, whichever first happens, a successor shall, if the term has not then expired, be chosen to hold the place from the date of his election until the expiration of the term.
That has happened in the case of two States - in Victoria by the death of Senator Sargood, and in Western Australia by the resignation of Senator Ewing. Consequently at the next election for senators in those States the people will be called upon to elect three senators for six years, and one senator for the balance of the term of the senator who was previously sitting here.
SenatorWalker. - Senator Ewing’s term is only three years.
– I thank the honorable senator for the correction. Still, the one case is sufficient to illustrate the position. The case that has occurred recently may happen again - that there may be some casual election to fill the place of a senator whose full term was six years. In Victoria at the next election the people will be called upon to elect three senators for six years, and one for three years. The question is, how is that to be done 1 It might be done by holding separate elections at the same time : one of three senators for six years - for which any one, under the conditions of the Constitution Act, might be nominated - and one for a senator to sit three years. It appears to me that a very great difficulty might arise from holding separate elections for the senators for the six years term, and for the one senator for the three years term, at the same time. It would be exceedingly difficult for electors to know how to vote. In the first place, the probability is that those persons who were nominated for the six years term would also be nominated for the three years term ; because the per sons who were nominated for one of the full terms might feel that, in order to secure their election, it was wiser also to be nominated for the shorter term. On the voter going to the polling place he would find four, five, or six names on the voting paper for the election of the three senators who were to be chosen for six years. He would have to vote for those senators, and then take another ballot-paper containing the same names, and vote for one senator for the three years term.
– That could be prevented by barring a candidate from double nomination.
– I hardly think we could do that.
– It would be one way out of the difficulty.
– I do not think that we could say constitutionally that Jones or Brown should be debarred from being a candidate for the casual vacancy because he was also a candidate for the full term.
– We have debarred members of States Parliaments from candidature.
– But it had no effect.
– I am not advocating the course I have mentioned, but I suggest that it could be done.
– We have debarred members of States Parliaments under certain conditions, certainly ; but apart from that question it is not advisable that what Senator Millen recommends should be done, because a candidate might feel that, in the event of not being elected for the full term, he might succeed in securing election for the shorter term. Why should he be debarred from being elected for the casual vacancy because he was also nominated for one of the seats for six years 1
– Why can we not say that the successful candidate who gets the fewest votes shall be elected for the shorter term ?
– That is exactly what we are saying in this Bill. By following the line of common sense, Senator Playford has reached the conclusion that the Government recommend. Certainly our proposal has the merit of simplicity. We assume that every candidate would like to be elected for six years, if possible, but that if he cannot succeed in securing election for six years, he would like to be elected for three years. Therefore, the fairest course is to elect the four senators together, allowing any number of persons to be nominated for the four seats, letting the first, second, and third on the poll be elected for six years, and the fourth on the poll be elected for three years. This seems to be the simplest and the fairest plan, and obviates the difficulty that might arise if we attempted to have two elections at the same time.
– I second the motion for the second reading of this Bill. Having read it through carefully more than once, I cannot find fault with it, and I support it with much pleasure.
– I cannot say that I agree with the proposals contained in this Bill, making provision for the election of senators. Probably I speak feelingly upon the point because, as far as I can see, the measure can only affect the State of Victoria on the present occasion. But other senators have an interest in it because, if it becomes law, it may affect them in the future exactly as it will now . affect senators from Victoria. There is a provision in the Constitution for the rotation of senators. When we had to arrange as to the retirement of senators, we agreed ,that the three lowest on the poll for each State should be the first to retire. When that arrangement was made, there were a good many honorable senators who did not agree with the proposal.
– They did not agree because they were the lowest on the poll.
– There may be a good many reasons which lead to a candidate being low clown on the poll. The money element entered strongly into the last election. A candidate with £10,000 at his disposal in a State election has a much better chance than a candidate with only £100 or £200. On the occasion to which I refer, the Government proposed that for each State the three senators who were lowest on the poll should retire at the end of the first three years. Many of us thought that that was hardly fair. Although I did not oppose the arrangement, I considered that’ the fairer method would have been to choose the retiring senators by- lot, because, as I have already said, there are elements apart from political capacity which play an important part in elections.
– The moneyed men may in some cases have been those who were lowest on the poll.
– The moneyed men have a great advantage in these elections notwithstanding our Electoral Act, because, as the Americans say - “Money speaks.” Those whose friends spend money in their behalf always have the best chance. Certain senators were penalized by the arrangement to which I have referred. Now, under this Bill, a retiring senator, because he happens to be 40 or 50 votes lower on the poll than a man who comes in to fill a casual vacancy may, under the peculiar conditions to be created, lose the chance of election for a six years’ term. That is not fair. It is not just. I will illustrate the case of those who in ‘Victoria will retire at the next election as against Senator Reid, who has’ been elected to fill the seat formerly occupied by Senator Sargood. Senators Best, Styles, and myself will retire and seek re-election. At the last election there was a very close contest so far as we three were concerned. A little more that 3,000 votes divided us. Suppose that at the next election there are for the four seats five candidates. It may be that Senator Reid will obtain a few more votes than I secure. In that case, under this Bill, Senator Reid will get a six years’ term, and I shall have to face the electors again at the end of three years. That is to say, I shall have to contest three elections in five and a half years.
– Still, he will be the choice of the electors.
– I say it is not so. 4 a 2
– It will not be the honorable senator’s own choice if he is at the bottom of the poll.
– The honorable senator knows exactly what I mean - I am speaking of the advantages one candidate may have over another. The chances- are that, if we were all similarly placed with regard to monetary support, the results would not be the same. I think that, under the circumstances, the three retiring senators who obtain re-election, should enjoy the six years1 term. I would place the other senator, who is chosen to fill the casual vacancy, in the position in which he was when he came into the Senate, namely, of having to sit for the tei in of the senator whom he succeeded.
– The Constitution says that he has to go up for election.
– But under this Bill, when a senator has been once penalized, he may be penalized again in an unfair manner. I cannot, at this moment, foreshadow any amendment, but I intend to oppose the clause which I have criticised. I think some provision could be made which would do justice all round. I do not think the provisions of this Bill are fair, and I shall, therefore, oppose the second reading.
– I notice that in connexion with the nomination clause of this Bill we are directed to “ see the principal A.ct.” I find that the section to which we are referred in the principal Act disqualifies a member of a States Parliament from being nominated for election as a member of’ the Federal Parliament. That in my opinion is not a section which should have been introduced into the Act. I know that when the Electoral Bill passed this Chamber there was no such clause in it. I was not here when the Bill came back from another place, and I intend to refer to that section now. It seems to me that it was intended to give to honorable senators a monopoly of their seats. I have no doubt whatever that that was the object of the section. Most of us won outplace and position through our reputation in State politics, and our only formidable opponents when we seek re-election will be. those who are similarly known to the electors. According to the section no member of a State Parliament can be nominated for election to the Federal Parliament, unless he resigns his seat as a member of the State Parliament at least a fortnight before the day of nomination.
– That is not in this Bill.
– I am aware of that, but we are directed to that section by this Bill. We know that the Commonwealth Parliament offers very few attractions to State members, because the sacrifice of time involved in attending this Parliament is too great. The objection to the section is that it unduly restricts the choice of the electors.
– I would ask the honorable senator if he thinks that question is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill?
– I desire to express the opinion that the nomination of candidates for election to the Senate should be left entirely to the people. It is not for us to make any law which will restrict the electors in their choice.
– Under our standing orders no amendment can be moved in a Bill which is not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. I do not think that the question raised by Senator Ferguson has anything to do with the subject matter of this Bill. I do not give a positive opinion at present, but I doubt very much whether any amendment could be introduced into this Bill dealing with the matter which the honorable senator is now discussing.
– I bow to the President’s ruling.
– I think that perhaps upon consideration the President may be inclined to admit that a Bill “to make further provision for the election of senators” might be amended in almost any direction. On the point raised by Senator Ferguson, if I may be allowed just a word, I would say that, while I opposed the section calling upon State members to resign before they could be nominated for election to the Senate, because I thought it was unfair, those who were in fa vour of that section certainly had something to say on their side. They argued that if such a provision as that were not included in the Federal Electoral Act, a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives might hold two seats, and they pointed to Senator Ferguson as a shocking example of the evil which they proposed I to avoid. The honorable senator, in addition to the seat which he holds in the Senate, holds a seat in the Legislative Council of Queensland.
– That is as great an honour as to have a seat here.
– I think that this, argument is a very strong illustration of the point I took. We are now discussing a Bill to provide in what manner senatorswho occupy casual vacancies shall be elected, and I do not see that that has any necessary connexion with, or is relevant to, the question ‘now being raised. There may be great differences of opinion upon the matterreferred to, but it is not raised by this Bill.
– I shall leave that matter, and deal with the point raised by Senator Barrett. I do not think that thehonorable senator’s position would be very much improved if the arrangements proposed in this Bill were not made. I think it will be a convenience to the elector, if, when hecomes to vote, he has a ballot paper enablinghim to fill four vacancies, rather than twoballot papers, one enabling him to fill th?-ee vacancies, and the other enabling him to fill one. I would ask Senator Barrett whether he thinks he would not bein just the same position if there were no casual vacancy to be filled ? If the honorable senator could not secure a. place amongst the three senators to be elected, if therewere no casual vacancy he would be left out altogether, and would really be in a worse position. In the case of a man who could not secure a place amongst three senators, but who might secure a place if fourwere to be elected, it is an advantage to have, a by-election taking place at the sametime as the election for the three senators.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I should like to draw the attention of thePostmasterGeneral and the Senate to what appears to me to be an oversight in thisBill. It sets forth certain forms, schedules («) and (6), which are modified duplicates, of schedules in the principal Act. I seenothing in the Bill now before us to substitute the schedules (a) and (I) for the schedules in the principal Act, and a difficulty will arise as to whether the forms of the principal Act or- the schedules of this Bill are to be used. For instance, there is a slight variation in the form of the writ for elections, and the Bill does not say that the modified form here proposed is to take theplace of that set out in the principal Act. I ask which form is going to be used? I think there should be somethingin the Bill before us to say that the schedules attached to this Bill are substituted for the forms provided in the main Act in order that the matter may be made perfectly clear. Honorable senators will remember that in the Sugar. Rebates Abolition Bill, which was discussed this afternoon, it is clearly stated that bounties are to be substituted for the rebates. In a similar way, I think that this Bill should state that the schedules attached to it are to be substituted for those in the principal Act. I invito attention also to the clause of this Bill dealing with the powers of the Court of Disputed Returns. I do not know that the opening for any difficulty is quite so wide in this case, but if honorable senators will look at clause11 of the Bill they will find that the Court of Disputed Returns is given power to declare three things, one of which is that any candidate who is not returned as elected was elected to fill a periodical vacancy or casual vacancy as the case may be. If honorable senators will turn to the principal Act they will find that under section 197 a similar power is given in slightly differentterms. I am not at all certain whether the ingenuity which sometimes marks the legal fraternity may not determine that as this measure is the later one something is intended other than that which is provided for by section 197 of the principal Act. Under subsection (3) of section 197 of the principal Act the Court of Disputed Returns may declare any candidate duly elected who was not returned as elected.
– This Bill is incorporated with the principal Act
– If the two Acts are to be incorporated why should we state twice, and in different terms, what we wish the Court of Disputed Returns to do. This is not an additional power, but one which is already given to the Court of Disputed Returns, and there is therefore no necessity to reaffirm it. If it is intended that there should be any variation of the powers conferred upon the Court of Disputed Returns it would be as well to make some reference to the fact in this Bill, and possibly to repeal section 197 of the principal Act. But if that is not intended there is no necessity to reaffirm in this Bill a power already conferred upon the court. I should like to say with regard to the very important and interesting point raised by Senator
Barrett, that no honorable senator ever for a moment entertained the idea which seems to have floated through Senator Barrett’s mind, that that honorable senator will have any difficulty in being again returned to the Senate.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator seemed depressed by a belief that that might be so.
– If the honorable senator thinks that, he makes the greatest mistake he ever made in his life.
-I am very pleased to hear it, because I am sure that honorable senators, and myself particularly, will welcome the. return of Senator Barrett after the coming elections. I could not help thinking that, in the views which the honorable senator enunciated, there was a claim that honorable senators have something like a prescriptive right to a seat in this Chamber. Stated in that bald way that may perhaps appear to be a startling doctrine to enunciate, still, I think the views enunciated by Senator Barrett, when boiled down, come to that. What the honorable senator’s contention amounted to was this : If four senators have to be elected, one of them, because he happens to have held a seat here previously, should be given some advantage over another.
-Which would not be possible if there were not a fourth vacancy.
– Senator Barrett appeared to me to be affirming this : That if, as may be the case in Victoria, four exmembers of the Senate stand for re-election, the’ three of them who previously held their seats for a longer term than the fourth should be given some prior right to the fourth irrespective of the number of votes he may poll.
– The fourth was not elected by the people.
– Quite so, but I think Senator Barrett enunciated the doctrine which I have stated in somewhat different words to the Senate - that if on going up for election the four ex-senators are returned, the three who have held seats in the Senate for the longest term shall have some prior right over the fourth, and whatever number of votes they may poll the fourth man shall be the senator returned to serve for a three years’ term, even though he may have polled two votes for every one polled by the other honorable senators. I do not say that the majority is always right, though it generally is whenI happen to win an election, but I remind honorable senators that we shall be treading upon very dangerous ground if we attempt to lay down in aBill of this kind anything which departs from the principle which the Bill itself contains. I see no reason for what has been suggested, andI think that people outside will probably consider that it is an attempt to establish some prescriptive right to the seats they have once given us.
Debate (on motion by Senator Styles) adjourned.
Senator DRAKElaid upon the table
– We have made very good progress this week, and as there is no pressing business for consideration to-morrow, I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 8.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030618_senate_1_13/>.