1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD presented a petition from. Magnus Goldring, praying the Senate to inquire into his case, and to redress his grievances.
Petition received and read, and ordered to be printed.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1.Is it the intention of the Government during the present session to make provision for the carrying out of section 92 of the Constitution Act, so that goods may not be subject to wharfage rates between State and State that are not subjeot to such rates from one port in a State to another?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
This matter is receiving consideration in connexion with the Inter-State Commission Bill,
asked, the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. As far as I am at present aware there is only ono sun-eying ship on the naval station. If the honorable senator will furnish me wilh particulars of thb dangers in question, the Prime Minister will make a communication to the GovernorGeneral, with a request that he will invite the Naval Commander-in-Chief to consider.it.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
In reference to the case of Lt. -Col. Braithwaite - Whether the Government have any objection to take the necessary steps to lay upon the table, for the information of members, the reports of this officer’s efficiency which have from time to time been furnished under the regulations to the Victorian Commandant by the company officers under whom he has served ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : - >
There are no reports except confidential ones, which it is not usual to publish.
ADJUSTMENTS OP REVENUE.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to. the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The adjustments of revenue between the States, as directed by section 93 of the Constitution, have been made with one exception, viz. , that duties collected by the various States under their State Tariffs between 1st January and 8th October, 1901, inclusive, on goods transferred after the latter date from one Mate to another, have not yet been debited to the importing and credited to the consuming States. The raison for this is that the Customs-Department considered that the operation of the section did not extend to goods imported into* States prior to 8th October, 1901. The necessary information is, however, now being obtained with a view to making the additional adjustment required.
Is it a fact that the sums usually paid on ‘ account of- Sunday and overtime work to lettersorters, letter-carriers, telephone and telegraph, officials in the General Post-office, Sydney, remain unpaid since January lost.
Will the Minister take steps to cause such moneys to be paid prior to the end of the current financial year?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The necessary information is being obtained, and replies will be furnished in due course.
To how many suburbs of Melbourne are there three postal deliveries daily ?
To how many suburbs of Sydney are there three postal deliveries daily ?
Is it intended to equalize the number of such deliveries ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows :-
The necessary information is being obtained, and replies will be furnished in due course.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
When will the Postmaster-General make his promised explanation of the method or system on which he privately investigates and awards punishment, or orders public prosecution, in oases of embezzlement by officers of his Department ?
– It is not within my recollection that I have promised to give an explanation.
– In my speech on the Address in Reply I dealt with this subject, and the honorable and learned gentleman interjected that he would deal with it in the course of the debate, but it closed without his doing so. It was understood that, he would be allowed to speak a second time.
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Each case of embezzlement reported to tha Postmaster-General iB dealt with on its merits ; prosecutions ore ordered in all cases where there is sufficient evidence to warrant such a course and the circumstances appear to justify it
– Who is to judge of the merits or demerits ?
– Well, that depends.
Resolved (on motion by Senator DRAKE’ -
That the Postmaster-General have leave to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to patents of inventions.
– I move -
That an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, praying His Excellency that, on all occasions when proroguing Parliament, in acknowledging the Grant of Supply, due recognition shall be made of the constitutional fact that the said grant is the joint act of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and not of the House of Representatives alone.
I believe that the motion will meet with such acceptance at the hands of the Senate that’ I shall not take up more ,than a moment or two in stating my reasons for placing the transparent truism involved therein on the paper. The very first Bill which the Senate received from the House of Representatives was the subject of some little conflict between the Houses, resulting in a decision being mutually arrived at which has been maintained as the - established rule to this day. The only exception was that to which I now call attention in the Vice-Regal speech closing last session. The first Bill of a monetary character which reached the Senate from the House of Representatives had its preamble framed in the following terms : -
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects the House of Representatives in. Parliament assembled towards making good the Supply which we have cheerfully granted to Your Majesty in this session of Parliament, have resolved to grant unto Your Majesty the sum hereinafter mentioned -
Exception was taken to that preamble. The Government put the Bill under the table, and introduced another with a fresh preamble in these terms -
For the purpose of appropriating the grant made by the House of Representatives.
We took exception to that. We fought out the question as far as we could by request, and gave an instruction to the Committee as a whole, without division, and, if I remember rightly, almost without debate. When we got into Committee, certainly without division, and after very little debate, we formulated the proposal that a request should be sent to the other Chamber, desiring that the position of the Senate, as having an equal right in the voting of Supply with the House of Representatives, should be acknowledged. Then, for the third time, the House of Representatives sent us the Bill with this preamble -
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty and the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia for the purpose of appropriating the grant originating in the House of Representatives.
The framework of that preamble gave a proper recognition of the position of the Senate under the Constitution. It was accepted by this Chamber, as satisfying the requirements of the Constitution. Since then every Bill having for its object the voting of money, that has reached us from the other Chamber has contained exactly the same preamble. Yet when it came to the closing of Parliament, and the mouth of the Senate was, so to speak, shut, there being no opportunity for us to maintain the position which is ours by the Constitution - not by any claim for privilege, or by any demand set up by the Senate for a recognition of a position to which it is not entitled, but under the terms of the Constitution itself - we were astounded to hear the following words used in the ViceRegal address in this very Chamber -
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, - I thank you, in the name of His Majesty, for the liberal supplies that you have voted.
That, to my mind, was a distinct and deliberate attack made by the framers of the Governor-General’s speech upon the constitutional position of this Chamber. I do not wish to refer to bygone incidents, or to hang any considerable argument upon the facts I have adduced in regard to this matter of the address at the close of last session. What I desire is, however, to refer to the subject as indicating what may be made the cause of a conflict between the two Chambers in the future, unless the constitutional position of the Senate in the matter of the Grant of Supply is ‘properly recognised, as .we claim that it should be. It will be observed that, in framing my motion, I have made no allusion to the incidents which I have adduced as reasons for its adoption. I have scrupulously avoided any reference that could possibly be regarded as being of a party character. Such references as I have made in my speech have been solely for the purpose of justifying the moving of the motion, which I consider to be necessary. I am not wedded to the terms of the motion, though I think that its language is sufficiently dignified to be worthy of the Chamber as containing an expression of our desire that our constitutional position shall be recognised in future in connexion with Commonwealth Vice-Regal addresses and messages. I claim nothing more, and nothing less. It cannot be assumed that this is in any way a party motion or anything more than a proposition submitted to the Senate with a view of maintaining intact the position which we occupy under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– (Queensland - PostmasterGeneral). - I must compliment the honorable senator upon having made his case very clear and upon having expressed himself with becoming brevity. The trouble appears to be that, in proroguing Parliament, the Senate was not joined with the House of Representatives in being thanked for the Grant of Supply. It does not appear to me to be a matter of very great moment, but possibly the honorable senator is justified in attaching some amount of importance to it. I will not raise that question. If, however, the honorable senator will now withdraw his motion, seeing that it has had the effect which he desires, I will undertake that the Governor-General shall be advised in future to join the Senate with the House of Representatives in his thanks.
– Does Senator Neild desire to withdraw the motion or to make any reply ?
– I should have liked to hear further discussion.
– I cannot compel other honorable senators to. speak.
– Where is the need for further talking ?
-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - This is a matter which is so far from being of a personal character that I desire to place myself entirely in the hands of the Senate. If the Senate thinks I should do so, I shall most willingly withdraw the motion in accordance with the request, and on account of the promise made by the Postmaster-General. It is clearly a matter in which the honour of the Senate is involved, and there is nothing personal in it. Under the circumstances, I feel justified in asking leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That this Senate affirms that, in view of the position and status of this branch of the Legislature, as defined by and in the Constitution, it is desirable -
That there be more adequate representation of the Government in the Senate.
That a greater proportion of legislative measures Should be initiated in this Chamber.
In submitting this motion I am only seeking to put in a concrete form opinions that have been voiced by, I think, the majority of the members of the Senate. But I heard last night that my honorable and learned friend, the Postmaster-General, regards it as a vote of censure, partly upon the Government and partly upon himself. How can it be avote of censure upon the honorable and learned senator when all I am doing is to suggest that he is being overworked and should have comradeship in the conduct of the business of the Senate, instead of being left to “play a lone hand” as he very often is? No member of the Senate more cheerfully recognises the courtesy and ability of my honorable and learned friend, the Postmaster-General, than I do. If he entertains the idea that my motion is directed against him, I say plainly that I shall be compelled, in accordance with parliamentary custom, to withdraw it, because I should be bound to accept his assurance if he said that he considered it to be aimed at him. But, on the other hand, the honorable and learned senator, in accordance with the same parliamentary custom, will be bound to accept my assurance that the motion is not aimed at him, so that each of us has a gun loaded and equally dangerous.
– Rather say equally harmless.
.- Quite so; only blank cartridge will be fired. There may be a little report, but certainly no bloodshed. But, seriously, I do offer to my honorable and learned friend the assurance that, so far from there being any suggestion of a personal attack upon himself in the motion, I am disposed - if he maintains that view - out of my regard for his courtesy and ability in the conduct of the business of the Senate, to decline to proceed with it. I should decline to proceed with any motion that could justly be regarded as a personal attack upon any member of the Senate. But, at the same time, I may give some justification for the motion. Let me here say in advance that I do not intend to proceed to-day with the next motion that stands in my name upon the business paper.
-I thought we should get rid of them all.
– Certain communications have passed between the Minister for Defence and myself with reference to the next motion standing in my name. As a consequence I do not find it necessary to proceed with it. I say that in order to intimate to Senator Higgs that he may have an opportunity of proceeding with the motion standing in his name. I wish to point out that though we have been in session for five weeks, this is the first Friday upon which the Senate has sat.
– The honorable senator means, perhaps, the first Friday upon which he has been present.
– The PostmasterGeneral is right.I now remember that we did sit on a previous Friday. My experience this session has been that I have come down from Sydney and remained in Melbourne four days, though the Senate has only sat two days out of the four. There have been constant adjournments because the Government had no business to go on with.. That happened last week. Had it not been that the Postmaster-General was ready to proceed with other business to-day we should not have had a Friday sitting. The Government appear to be getting more reasonable . Here I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral upon his almost invariably reasonable method of conducting business. Little frailties attach to us all, and I will not pay my honorable and learned friend the poor compliment of flattery by saying that he is always perfect. No one is. But I do congratulate him upon a distinguished courtesy, and a very distinguished and wide ability. That does not, however, alter the fact that the Senate has, over and over again, thought that the honorable and learned senator should have a colleague. Over and over again we have, by word of mouth, if not by resolution, urged that the Senate should be recognised as a Chamber in which the Government should be represented by more than one Minister. It is not fair to the Minister, or to the Senate itself, that there should be only one representative of the Government here.
– It is not fair to the Senate.
.- I cordially agree with the honorable senator. The fact is that when the present Ministry was formed, the Prime Minister forgot what was the position of the Senate under the Constitution. He overlooked the fact that it was the most powerful elective House of any Legislature in the British Dominions. He regarded itas a kind of glorified nominee Chamber, and thought that one paid Minister would be able successfully to cope with all the Ministerial work that might be forthcoming here. It must be patent to honorable senators that such is not the case. Even a rudimentary study of the Constitution will show that the powers and the work of this Chamber are of a very much broader character than are those of a mere Chamber of revision. The promise which the Postmaster-General gave a few minutes ago that, in future addresses from the ViceRegal Throne, proper recognition will be given to the fact that this Chamber has an equal voice with the House of Representatives in the granting of supply, must convey to the people of the Commonwealth the fact that the Senate is very far from being limited in its powers and authority to the position of a Legislative Council in any one of the States. That being so, it is surely desirable that the many expressions of opinion which have fallen from honorable senators - and which have come at least as often from the Government side as from the opposition side of the Chamber - should be put into the form of a declaration, such as is involved in the motion, which I, with great respect, have the honour to submit for the consideration of the Senate.
– The honorable senator gives me his assurance that this motion is not levelled at myself personally. If it is not, it must be levelled at my colleague the Vice-President of the Executive Council. There are two Ministers in the Senate, and what occasion can there be for this motion, if there is nothing to complain of - and I say there is not - in regard to the conduct of our business during the present session. As a matter of fact, I think there was no reason to complain last session. Without making any invidious comparisons, I think I may say that the business was then conducted in this Chamber as well as it was in the House of Representatives. We had the same work to perform as had another place, even if we did not talk as much ; and if, with two Ministers in the.Senate, we were able to conduct our business as well as it was transacted with a larger number of Ministers in another place, why should a question of this kind be now raised ? I am strongly of opinion that there has been no cause of complaint whatever as to the conduct of business this session. We have had sufficient business to keep us fairly well employed. It is not the rule for the Senate to meet more than two, or at most three days a week at the beginning of the session, and this is the second Friday out of five on which we have sat. Honorable senators will remember that on the Thursday previous to the week in which we held our first Friday sitting this session, we dealt with some private members’ business, so as to obviate the necessity of meeting on the following day. We took Senator Pearce’s motion, and there was no other urgent business that required our attention. On the first week of the session we sat on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We met on Friday 12th June - the first day set apart for private members’ business - and the present sitting is being devoted to the same work. We have been going along under easy sail. We have always had business to transact, and we have in sight sufficient work to keep us occupied until other measures come to hand from another place. I have leave to introduce the Patents Bill, which will be read a first time this afternoon, and will be ready for the second reading on Wednesday next, so that we have important work to engage our attention, although we have not yet received any of the heavy Bills from another place. But in one respect we are ahead of that Chamber, which has not yet found time to pass its standing orders. In view of these facts, and as Senator Neild says that he has no special fault to find with the way in which the business of the Government is conducted
– Pardon me ; I did not say that. I acknowledged the invariable courtesy and ability with which the honorable and learned senator conducted the affairs of the Government, but I added that the honorable and learned senator was single handed, and that it was not fair to him or the Senate that he should be in that position.
– That bears out my assertion that no complant has been made up to the present time. If during the present session any necessity had been demonstrated for the attendance of a second Minister, that would have given some reason for the motion. But I cannot see that any necessity has been shown, and if the motion is not levelled at myself it must be levelled at the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
Senator DRAKE. Every one knows, why Senator O’Connor has not been here during the present session, and if the business has been conducted properly, and there has been no absolute necessity for his attendance, why should . this motion be moved t It seems to me that it will be a kind of intimation to my honorable and learned colleague that he ought to have been here. I do not think the “Senate would pass a motion of this kind, for we all desire tohelp one another, and nothing has been adduced to show that there is any occasion to pass it. If it is carried it will be a. sort of mild censure on the leader of theSenate. Having brought the motion forward and expressed the general opinion that there! should be more than one Minister in the Senate, I think that Senator Neild should withdraw the motion after it has been discussed. To push it to a division might possibly be regarded as offensive, and certainly such a motion can serve no usefulpurpose.
– I confess .that I am disappointed with thespeech which has just been delivered by the Postmaster-General. The honorable, and learned senator regards this motion as being either a reflection upon himself or upon his colleague, whom we all admire, and whom we should like to see here. I have spoken very plainly in reference to this, matter .on previous occasions, and I intend to do so again. The VicePresident of the Executive Council is nothere because he is not adequately paid for his services. Why beat about thebush in regard to. this matter ? The motion is not a reflection on the PostmasterGeneral - who leads the Senate with a considerable degree of tact, ability, and courtesy in the absence of his colleague - nor is it areflection in the slightest degree on Senator O’Connor.
-Col Neild. - Certainly not.
– Nor on the Ministry
– I do not agree with that interjection. No one can dispute the fact that we have very extensive powers and privileges under the Constitution. We are not in the position of a Legislative Council, and we, have a right to see that a fair proportion of the Executive Ministers, properly paid for their services, have seats in this Chamber. On two or three occasions I have called the attention of the Senate to what, in my judgment, amounts, to say the least of it, to the casting of a slight upon the Senate. We have 36 senators, or nearly half the number of members of another place, and yet the House of Representatives have six paid Ministers, while we have but one. Is that fair ? Who is responsible for this state of affairs ? Certainly the Ministry of to-day, and I assert that they have treated the Vice-President of the Executive Council in a shabby manner. It is unfair to ask him to be here continuously as an honorary Minister, and to expect him to depend upon the paltry sum of £400 a year.
– What has that to do with the honorable senator 1
– It has a great deal to do with me. I insist- that we should have Ministerial representation here according to our rights and powers and number of members. This motion is neither a reflection on the Postmaster-General nor on the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but it is a serious reflection on the Ministry as a whole. I am here to support the policy of the Government, but not to support an injustice. I believe that a gross wrong has been inflicted upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council by the shabby treatment which he has received from a pecuniary point of view. I feel very strongly upon this matter, and if only one honorable senator votes in the division on the question with Senator Neild, I shall be that one. If the honorable senator had not raised the question I should have done so at an early date. Further, I may say that I shall take every possible opportunity of referring to it.
– Of wasting time.
– It is not wasting time ; if other honorable senators are prepared to sit under this indignity, I am not. Does any one consider for a moment that the Postmaster - General is being treated fairly in being asked to sit here day after day to conduct the whole of the business of the Senate 1
– If the honorable and’ learned senator cares to do so why should” we find fault ?
– I am determinedto find fault. Other honorable senators may please themselves. I wish to see the Senatetreated properly, and I am not willing thatit should be treated merely as an exalted’ Legislative Council, but in accordance with the terms of the Constitution, under whichour powers are similar to those ,of the House of Representatives, except that we cannot initiate Money Bills. I think that honorable senators should affirm, in the terms of the motion proposed, that we are not satisfied with only one paid Minister. If the Government are willing to send one honorary Minister, in addition to two paid Ministers, to represent them in the Senate, we shall have no objection. But, so long as I am here, consistently with the rules of the Senate, I shall protest in the strongest language at my command against the Senate being treated with an indignity which I hope honorable senators will no longer bear.
– I intend to support the motion proposed by Senator Neild. In doing so I reiterate the statement that ther is no intention whatever to reflect in the slightest degree either upon the paid or the honorary representative of the Governmet in the Senate. The conduct of business by both those honorable and learned senators; has met with the approval of the Senate. Our objection arises from the difficulty of introducing measures in this Chamber. Thereason for the first proposition in SenatorNeild’s motion will be found dislosed in. the second - that measures are not introduced in the Senate.
– That depends to a great extent on the Constitution. There are many measures which cannot be introduced in the Senate.
– Money Bills must, of course, be initiated in another place. I mentioned in the debate on the Address in Reply that there was no reason why the Defence Bill should nob have been introduced in the Senate while the Judiciary Bill was being discussed in another place. The answer I got to the suggestion was that the Minister for
Defence desired to introduce .his own Bill. That, I venture to say, is the crux of the whole question.
– I think I said, also, that that Bill having been introduced before in the House of Representatives, would necessarily be introduced there again.
– The whole difficulty is that Ministers wish to introduce their own Bills, and I admit that there is a good deal of force in the contention. That difficulty is really the ground of our objection, because on that account almost all Bills are introduced in another place, as an honorary Minister does not as a rule introduce Bills, and the PostmasterGeneral would introduce only Bills affecting his own Department. We raise no objection to the conduct, of business by the Postmaster - General, or by the honorary representative of the Government in the Senate, with whose position we sympathize. But the Senate is placed in a very invidious position, and the whole of the business of the Commonwealth is paralyzed by the introduction in one House of the Parliament of all the principal measures discussed. What have we been doing ever since Parliament opened 1 The Senate has practically been a debating society during the whole of the time. We have been discussing trivial measures of no importance, and we have been simply marking time. We have had the standing orders to discuss in order to keep us going for a certain time ; we have had private members’ business to take up the Fridays’ sittings; and we have sat only two days a week in order to string out as much as possible the time taken up with the measures which have been introduced in the Senate.
– We have sat three days a week more often than two.
– That may be true ; but on the third day we have only discussed private members’ business, which, though of incidental importance, is not really the business of the country. There are only two ways in which this objectionable state of affairs can be remedied. One is the appointment of two or more paid Ministers to the Senate ; the other is a suggestion, which I throw out tentatively, that Ministers should be allowed to introduce Bills in either House.
– Or defend their ‘administration.
– Or defend their administration. That is a suggestion which I consider worthy of consideration.
– The honorable senator means that a Minister in charge of a Bill should come here -from another place to introduce it 1
– I mean that Ministers holding seats in the House of Representatives should have the right to come into this Chamber to introduce Bills affecting their Department.
– We should have two paid Ministers in this Chamber constantly, to do our own work in our own way.
– Those are the remedies for the present unfortunate state of affairs. If the course I suggest had been adopted, the Minister for Defence could have come into the Senate to introduce the Defence Bill, and we should have got over the personal difficulty of his desire to introduce his own measure. If that had been done, we could have discussed that important measure, instead of wasting time as we have been doing since the Senate was called together. I think Senator Neild’s motion is a very timely one, and that it is entitled to serious consideration. As to there being any intention to cast any personal slight on the Postmaster-General, I believe that every member of the Senate recognises the able manner in which the honorable and learned senator has conducted the business. We have not the slightest fault to find either with his ability or with . the manner in which he has represented the Government in this Chamber.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales).With the previous speakers I desire to say that I personally bear the highest testimony to the able manner in which the representatives of the Government have conducted the business of the Senate. But we have to consider the public at large as well as ourselves. There is an impression abroad now that the House of Representatives is the predominant House of the Parliament, and we should let the public know that men of prominence in the political world may have an opportunity of enjoying office even though they happen to be members of the Senate. At present there is only one Minister holding a portfolio in the Senate, and when, in the course of time, a change of Government takes place we can only expect that the new Ministry will be represented in the Senate in the same way. We know that human nature is the same in politicians as in members of the general public, and men like to have an opportunity of occupying prominent places in the Government of the country. The consequence under the existing system will be that the majority of men of prominence will naturally prefer to go into the other House. I desire to see at least two Ministers with portfolios in the Senate, and if there are honorary Ministers - and there are two in the present Cabinet - there would be no objection to one being a member of the Senate. I have a strong personal esteem for the two representatives of the present Government in the Senate, and they will, I think, admit that’ honorable senators on this side have endeavoured to show them every respect. I am sure that Senator Neild, as he has already told us, has no wish to say anything disparaging of the Postmaster-General. I should have preferred the motion to be so worded as to take effect from the beginning of next session, because a general election, so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, will take place in the meantime, and we could then have had the Ministry represented by two paid Ministers in the Senate.
– We cannot rule the next Parliament.
– I think it would be very desirable if the public were aware that during the Federal session of 1904, the Government would be represented by two responsible Ministers in the Senate.
– I see very little use in honorable senators expecting what they cannot get. I have no sympathy whatever with the motion now before the Senate, and I think Senator Neild will be well advised if he withdraws it. No good can come of attacking our own Chamber, and no good can come of letting the public know that we think business is ill-conducted here, although we say that we do not think so. No good can come of throwing stones at the “Vice-President of the Executive Council who is away.
-Col. Neild. - Who has done so?
– Although we have had the assurance that there is no intention to do so, it certainly looks as if that motive were present to some extent. Senator Glassey talks of the House of Representatives being the preponderating Chamber, and says that a slur is being cast upon the Senate. In my opinion there has been nothing of the kind. The Prime Minister is responsible for the formation of the Government, and he naturally selects the best men he can get. If there are good men who are members of the Senate he will select them. I point out that Senator Glassey lays a great deal too much stress upon the word “ paid.” Over and over again the honorable senator has said that we should have two “paid” Ministers representing the Government in the Senate. Does not my honorable friend know that the representative of the Government here who is not paid is generally recognised and acknowledged to be about the most able man in either House of the Federal Parliament? What is the use of Senator Glassey talking nonsense about “ paid “ Ministers ? If some men were given a million a year it would not make them either better or worse. In my opinion, the Senate may well congratulate itself upon having the Government represented here by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Postmaster-General, who are very capable and efficient Ministers. I do not hesitate to say that the time will come when we shall have ‘less efficient Ministerial representatives in this Chamber.
– We may as well shut up shop then.
– Nothing of the kind. The position which the Senate will take, in the opinion of the country, will depend upon its individual members, upon their ability and firmness, and not upon our having one or two paid Ministers. This is altogether a matter which concerns the Prime Minister, as he is responsible for his team to the House of Representatives and to the electors. Honorable senators quite forget that the House of Representatives is bound to be the preponderating Chamber. That House makes and unmakes Ministries, and we do not, and that makes the whole difference. That House controls and conducts the finances of the Commonwealth, and that makes a very vast difference. However much we may desire to magnify our position, or even to maintain the position given to us by the Constitution, we shall not do it by crying out that we wish to have paid Ministers representing the Government here. Let us do our work in the best way we can, and, so long as we have two representatives of the Government as thoroughly efficient as the honorable and learned senators ‘who represent the present Ministry in the Senate, we shall have nothing to complain of. I believe that the Prime Minister will only laugh at this motion if we pass it.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I ask leave to make a personal explanation. Senator Dobson in his remarks, though he. may not have said so in as many -words, has implied that I have cast some reflection on the Vice-President of the Executive Council, because that honorable and learned senator is being paid only his salary as a private member of the Senate.
– No one can say that I have done anything of the kind.
– I think that is implied in what the honorable senator has said. I have the highest opinion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– This is not a personal explanation.
– I think it is. The honorable senator is explaining that he has been misunderstood by Senator Dobson.
– That is the point. I do not wish it to go forth to the public that in any way I have cast the slightest reflection on the Vice-President of the Executive Council. On the contrary I have the highest opinion of that honorable and learned senator’s ability, of his attention to duty, and of the courtesy he has always shown honorable senators when here. And I did not imply, nor did I say, that in consequence of not being salaried, like other Ministers, he is any less attentive in his administration or his intention to be here when he can afford to do so. I hold that if .he were salaried, like other Ministers, he would be here.
– The ‘ honorable senator ought nob to argue the matter.
– Senator Dobson and the PostmasterGeneral have very carefully avoided the kernel of the whole matter. They have endeavoured to introduce a personal element into the discussion, notwithstanding the fact that Senator Neild was careful to say that no such thought had entered his mind. If honorable senators will take the trouble to refresh their memories as. to the constitution of the Ministry, they will find that in the other House there are the Minister for External Affairs, the Attorney-General, the
Minister for Home Affairs, the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade and Customs, the Minister for Defence, and a Minister without portfolio, Sir Philip Fysh, whereas in the Senate we have one salaried Minister and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, a gentleman of admittedly rare ability. Is it fair that the other House should have not twice but three or four times the proportion of Ministerial representation that the Senate has ? It does not do justice to the position of the Senate. With every desire to appreciate the ability of the PostmasterGeneral, it is quite evident that, he can not be in two places at the same time. On several occasions yesterday when honorable senators were speaking he was not present. He cannot be in his place at the table and attending as he must do at times to business outside. It is unbecoming that at any time a debate should be carried on without a single representative of the Ministry being present. I was intending to speak yesterday afternoon, but Senator Drake was out of the Chamber. It was my intention to draw attention to his absence, but before I could do so he had returned. He is as attentive to his business as a man can be, but one man cannot be half-a-dozen men, or even two men. One man cannot be at the table attending to his duty and answering questions addressed to colleagues in the other House, or doing something else outside the Chamber. The dignity of the Senate requires that it should share to a larger extent than it does in the number of Ministerial portfolios. That is all we ask, and if Senator Drake had risen to the occasion, he would have said : “The Senate is not treated in a way consonant with its dignity. There ought to be at least another Minister here, and I shall do my best to represent to the Ministry that the present state of affairs should be rectified.” That is the position which I think he should have taken up. Instead of that he chose to introduce an entirely personal matter, and to say that the motion was a reflection on him, whereas it is nothing of the sort. I trust most emphatically that the motion will be carried, and that, sooner or later, it will have a substantial result.
– While agreeing in the main with the arguments adduced by Senator Neild as to the advisableness of having more Ministerial representation in the Senate, I certainly hope that he will not press this motion to a division. I think that there can be no better reason adduced for taking that course than the arguments which Senator Glassey put forward in support of the motion. Notwithstanding the very great admiration which we all know he entertains for the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I think that the latter gentleman on this occasion might well ask to be saved from his friends. I do not think he can feel in the least degree grateful for the turn which the discussion is likely to take as the result of the remarks of Senator Glassey. If it be the opinion of Senator Glassey that Senator O’Connor is not recompensed adequately, surely that is a matter which is entirely between himself and his colleagues.
– It is not a matter for the Senate to enter into. If Senator O’Connor chooses to accept a certain position, and to discharge its duties as he does with so much success, surely the terms on which he accepted that position is a matter which is entirely for discussion between himself and his colleagues. It has been pointed out that what we really complain of is that through the absence of a certain number of Ministers we are denied the privilege of having certain measures introduced in the Senate, and the Defence Bill has been given in illustration by Senator Smith. Assuming that the Attorney-General had a seat in’ the Senate, what particular measured would be. introduced here?
– Surely the Judiciary Bill.
– That Bill is already under discussion in another place.
– The banking legislation.
– We might have the Treasurer introducing a measure of that kind. What particular measures would fall within the province of the Treasurer to introduce and would necessarily be introduced in the Senate if he sat here? With the Customs Act, Customs Tariff Act, Excise Act, Excise Tariff Act, and the Distillation Act passed, what particular measures might we look for to the Minister for Trade and Customs as being specially within his province in whatever Chamber he might sit ?
– Could we not have the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced in the Senate if he were here ?
– Does the honorable senator think that if the motion is carried, and appears on our Journals, the Ministry will upset all their arrangements, and endeavour to substitute a Minister from the other House, for somebody here, before the legislation which is now in hand is dealt with? With the legislation that was passed during last session, and with the legislation that is now in hand disposed of, there would be very little scope indeed for any particular measure within the province of any one Minister, which would necessarily be introduced in a particular Chamber, because of his presence therein. It seems to me that with that legislation disposed of practically the only measures that will be submitted by Ministers to Parliament will be Bills dealing with matters of general policy, which will fall, to a great extent, as much within the province of one Minister as another. Under these circumstances I do not see that there is very much in the argument adduced that if we had certain Ministers here we should get special Bills introduced in the Senate first instead of in the other House. With regard to the position of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it has been well pointed out by Senator Dobson that it is not the question of his remuneration that we should discuss on a motion of this character. Have we in the Senate a sufficient representation, paid or unpaid, of the Executive? I know that there is not the same feeling entertained for an honorary Minister as for a paid Minister ; but the reason for that, to my mind, is because as a rule an honorary Minister having no Department to administer and receiving no special remuneration for his duties, does not devote himself to Cabinet work to the extent that a salaried Minister does.
– The office is not recognised by the Constitution. It is purely an honorary office.
– If the office is not recognised by the Constitution, does the honorable senator wish to imply that he and others do not recognise the VicePresident of the Executive Council when he is here ?
– The Executive Council appointed more Ministers than they were entitled to appoint by the Constitution.
– Is he not recognised as representing the Cabinet?
– No, for he is not a member of the Cabinet.
– The honorable senator has frequently recognised Senator O’Connor as a member of the Cabinet. He has frequently addressed questions to Senator O’Connor, and received replies. He has frequently made attacks on Senator O’Connor as representing the Ministry in the Senate, and he has been replied to.
– But that does not constitute him a member of the Cabinet.
– The whole question is, have we a sufficient representation of the Executive in the Senate. It is not desirable that we should place a motion of this kind on our records, because it is not for us to enter into the question of the remuneration which may be received by any Cabinet Minister who is here. If he accepts the responsibility of the introduction of Ministerial proposals, and if he is recognised as properly doing that, and as discharging the duties incidental to that position with satisfaction, that is all we have to consider. How he is being remunerated is a matter entirely for himself. Perhaps we might have further representation of the Executive in the Senate, but it would not necessarily flow from that that we should get special measures introduced which are not now initiated here. The Senate is in a totally different position from the Legislative Council of any State. That proposition is stated frequently from all sides of the Chamber ; we are never tired of stating it. By reason of that fact there might be a larger representation of the Executive here as a recognition of the different position which the Senate occupies from an ordinary State Upper House. But whether we should get from that the material benefit or advantage, which some supporters of the motion anticipate, I very much doubt. I do not think that we should get anything more than a formal recognition of the status and dignity of the Senate under the Constitution by any increased representation of the Executive here. For that reason I trust that Senator Neild will be satisfied with the expression of opinion which he has elicited from all sides, and will not press his motion to a division. If it were placed on the records the result to my mind would certainly not be as good as he has anticipated.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with the motion that has been proposed by Senator Neild. It is only natural that we, as members, of the Senate, should take a very high, view of the position of this Chamber,, and if we can in any way increase itsstrength it is our duty to do so. Notwithstanding all that has been said, there is asuspicion in the minds of senators that this Chamber does not receive adequate representation in the Cabinet, and that it does not have that weight in the framing of legislation which it would receive if different arrangements were made. I am not wedded to the claim that there ought to beanother salaried Minister, but there should be more adequate Cabinet representation in the Senate in order that we might haveinitiated here measures that are withheld from us under present conditions. I join in the expressions of approval which have been given as to the leadership of the Senate. Nocomplaint can be made in that direction. In fact, I will go further and say that, considering the work of the past and present session, I do not expect to see better leadership in the Senate than we have at present, and had last session. If I were to make comparisons between the Senate and other legislative bodies, I should say that the leadership in this Chamber could scarcely be improved upon so far as concerns the arrangement and conduct of the business. Senator Smith has’ raised a point that deserves consideration. It relates to giving the right to Ministers to introduce Bills, or to defend their administration, in either House. If some arrangement like that- were made it would meet a great deal of the difficulty that has presented itself. Under such an arrangement we might now be discussing a measure like the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which I hold to be second to none in importance. That measure’ cannot be introduced in the Senate under present circumstances, because the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has taken a keen interest in the subject for many years, is in charge of it, and naturally desires to have the honour of submitting it to the Federal Parliament. Because he is a member of the House of Representatives he cannot enter the precincts of the Senate, and the Bill, in consequence of the state of business in the other Chamber, remains in the background. In addition to what has been said, I would point out that we might have another honorary Minister in the Senate, so that the younger members of the
Senate could have an opportunity fortraining in this respect. 1 am aware that the VicePresident of the Executive Council is an honorary Minister, but for reasons which are generally understood he is not present to assist his colleague. We know very well that he has a large and extensive practice in Sydney, and under present conditions’ we cannot expect him to be always in his place. That fact tells in favour of my argument that there ought to be more adequate representation of the Cabinet in the Senate, either in accordance with the suggestion of Senator Smith, or by the appointment of another honorary Minister. Senator Neild’s motion says nothing with regard to paid Ministers, but simply that there should be “ more adequate representation “ in the Senate. I believe that there should be more adequate representation, in order that business may be transacted more expeditiously, and so as to enable a greater number of important measures to be initiated here. I trust that the Government will seriously consider the position, and that some arrangement will be made whereby a Minister may be able to introduce his own Bills in either Chamber. I hope that the motion will not be pressed to a division. The expression of opinion is . overwhelming, and, if Senator Neild will allow his motion to be withdrawn, I am satisfied that the Government will consider the position, and that the defects pointed out will be remedied.
– I should be sorry to allow this motion to be withdrawn, or to go to a division, without expressing my entire sympathy with its principle, and my hope that in some way or other the Government will take an early opportunity of giving effect to what I understand to be the universal wish of the Senate. The motion peculiarly concerns us all. It is not a party proposal. It is submitted because there is a feeling that the Senate desires to do its duty in the most effective way possible, and to take that conspicuous share in the legislation and government of the country to which, under the Constitution, it is entitled. Senator Neild has not submitted the motion with any intention of entangling the Govern men t, but simply to give the Senate an opportunity of expressing its view upon a broad question affecting the purpose of its own existence and the business of the country. The first portion of the motion expresses the desirableness of having more adequate representation in the Senate, and that view will be commended by all of us. I do not know that the language might not have been altered. By “ adequate,” we do not mean to cast any reflection on the representatives of the Government who are now in the Senate
– I made that clear.
– We may all agree that within the scope of their opportunities, the representatives of the Government in the Senate have discharged their duties in accordance with the best traditions of parliamentary procedure. Subject to the considerations affecting Senator O’Connor, with which we all sympathize, we agree that there could be no better representation of the Government than we have had. But that representation has been subject to the important disability which I have pointed out; and that appears to me to be to some extent a reflection upon the Government, though probably it is due to the exigencies of Commonwealth political life. We have no authoritative representation of the Government in the Senate by two Ministers appointed in accordance with the Constitution to do the work which the Constitution places upon their shoulders. My view from the very beginning of our existence as a Commonwealth has been that the Government made a great mistake, constitutionally, first of all in appointing two honorary Ministers ; and, secondly, in choosing to represent them in the Senate, not two paid Ministers, but one honorary and one paid Minister. I am sure that Senator Drake will believe me when I say that I am not making this remark with a view of discriminating in any way, butI cannot help observing that during our discussions upon the Tariff it seemed an anomaly that the Senate should practically be led by an honorary and unpaid Minister, who was devoting the whole of his time and industry to the discharge of the duties allotted to him. We can well understand that the two Ministers in this Chamber have to divide their responsibilities. Senator Drake takes charge of one part of the business, and I dare say that certain other portions of it are more immediately relegated to the charge of Senator O’Connor. But the conditions that prevailed lastsession were anomalous. They were such as I think never existed in any House of Parliament in the world before. I know of no precedent for them. I trust that steps will be taken to remedy that state of things. Under the Constitution there ought to be seven Ministers and no more. Those seven Ministers should be paid the £12,000 a year prescribed by the Constitution, and that amount should be properly distributed. I feel sure that it was the sentiment of good-will on the part of the Parliament, and the feeling that we were inaugurating a new system, that prevented attacks being made upon ,the Government at the beginning of our proceedings for what they did in this respect. We felt bound to extend to the Government a generous good-will, so far as procedure was concerned, and that probably accounted for the circumstance, that not much criticism was offered in respect of the appointment of honorary Ministers. I have always felt that there is no room under our Constitution for honorary Ministers at all; that the Ministers appointed under the Constitution should be seven in number ; that they should be paid ; and that of those seven two should be in the Senate. The second part of the motion expresses the opinion -
That a greater proportion of legislative measures should be initiated in this Chamber.
I agree with Senator Barrett that that would follow from the carrying into effect of the first part of the motion. No Minister should be overworked by having to undertake the whole of the duties devolving on the representation of the Government in the Senate. Tn that respect, I feel sometimes that Senator Drake has quite as much as he can do.
– He also has to administer a big Department.
– I take that into consideration. He has charge of one of the largest Departments, which is second to none in the troublesome details involved in * its administration. If we watch the papers from day to day we cannot help feeling 0that the Postmaster-General has the temper of an angel, as he must have. When we take all his administrative work into consideration, and remember that added to that he has the duty of coming into the Senate single-handed to guide us in our deliberations as the acting leader of the Senate, I think we may fairly say that he is being placed in a very invidious and difficult position. That should be remedied. If the spirit of this motion were carried into effect, and two paid Ministers - one of whom at least would be here constantly - held seats in the Senate, in all probability we should have scope for a greater amount of legislative business than we have at present. It is unnecessary to say one word as to the position in which the Senate has been placed since the opening of the present session. No one will underrate the importance of the standing orders we have passed, or the importance of some of the questions .before us, such as the amendment to clause 2 of the Sugar Bonus Bill which I have moved, the Sugar Bonus Bill itself, the Patents Bill, or the Naturalization Bill. But some of these are matters which will involve no lengthy debate, and we ‘have really been marking time from the commencement of the session. It is no use burking our position. We are not going to pass a motion of want of confidence in the Government, but the fact is as I .have stated. We are all anxious for work and capable of work. This is not an assembly of indolent or incompetent persons, and whilst we are here, able-bodied and ableminded, ready for the work of legislation, we ought to have plenty of it given to us. It is our right, under the Constitution, to see that that is done, and I have the greatest pleasure in expressing my hearty sympathy with the motion, and the desire that in both its branches it will be carried into effect.
– If I regarded this motion as being in any sense of the word a reflection on the two Ministers holding seats in the Senate, I should vote against it. But as I am satisfied that neither the mover, nor any supporter of it, desires that it shall be considered in that way, I shall vote for it, and, if necessary, I hope it will go to a division. Senator Symon has just pointed. out the amount of work which one Minister has to carry out. We have been several weeks in session, and the Postmaster-General, who is in charge of the Senate, has to introduce not only his own measures but to take charge of the Bills of six other Ministers that are introduced in another place, and sent up to us. That in itself should be sufficient to show that another paid Minister is required here. We have only one paid Minister in the Senate. The honorary Minister cannot afford “to give the whole of his time to the business of the Senate. No honorary Minister- could be expected to do so for £400 a year when he has others dependent upon him for a living. We are continually telling the public that we are very much more important than the Legislative Council of any of the States. 1 would point out, however, that the Legislative Council of Victoria had two paid Ministers out of ten, or one-fifth of the Ministerial representation, while here we have but one paid Minister out of seven, although we are so very much more important than that Chamber. Let us practice what we preach. If we are so much more important than ares the State Legislative Councils let us have more Ministerial representation in the Senate. What are the prizes which a man seeks when he enters Parliament ? He seeks first of all to gratify his ambition. Ambition first of all prompted many of us to seek a seat in the Senate, but if a man is not too old he has a desire to secure a portfolio. Here, however, there happens to be only one.
– What is one amongst the many 1
– We have not a sufficient number of good things associated with the Senate to attract the very best men in the States, with the exception, perhaps, of an odd one here and there. We certainly ought to have something to attract the most able men, if the Senate has the power that is claimed for it.
– A man would not come here for such unworthy motives.
– My honorable friend yesterday mixed up sugar with patriotism. I am inclined to think that the sugar question will make patriotism kick the beam.
– The honorable senator insinuates that we come here for the “ sugar.”
– I say that there are many honours which a man seeks in entering Parliament. When I assert that a man wishes to gratify his ambition by entering the Senate, I do not mean that he enters the Chamber because of monetary considerations, but because he desires the honour. Senator Dobson, with that delightful inconsistency for which he is so noted, said that we ought to do our work faithfully and well. We are quite willing to do our work as well as we can, but we have nothing to do. We would not be discussing this subject if we had any very important business to transact. Of course, the honorable senator in charge of the motion had a right to bring this matter forward, but he would consent to allow the motion to stand over if the Government had any more important business awaiting attention. It is unwise and unfair to expect the “Postmaster-General to support a motion of this kind. I think we all recognise that it is a mild form of censure of the Prime Minister for having failed in the first place to give us two paid Ministers. That being so, we can scarcely expect a member of the Government to support a motion to censure his leader, however mild that censure may be. I do not think I can add anything more to the discussion, but I would remind Senator .Barrett that what he has suggested would involve an amendment of the Constitution. It seems to me that if we are going to allow a Minister to speak in this Chamber as well as’ in another place, we shall require an amendment of the Constitution. If we are going to do that let us go the whole way and adopt the Swiss system of electing Ministers and allowing them to speak in either Chamber.
– Why not do it if it is right?
– Certainly we should do it if it is right. But there is a difficulty in these matters, and an amendment of the Constitution would be found much more difficult than seems to be the case at first sight. In the meantime, however, no alteration of the Constitution is required in order to give effect to this motion. The Government has simply to say - “ Senator Barrett, take a portfolio here ;” or perhaps Senator Dobson, or even the mover of this motion, would not object to accept office. I believe that Senator Neild would join the present Government to-morrow.
-Gol. Neild. - I would not ; I could not commit the “ happy despatch.”
– The honorable senator need have no fear. The incident which he suggests is not coming along for some time yet.
– It might mean the “ happy despatch “ for me.
– I am glad that the motion has been brought forward. If it does nothing else, it will at least show the Government that the Senate is not satisfied. In the course of a conversation, I mentioned the matter to the Prime Minister about twelve months ago, and he gave me a reply. He did not inquire whether I considered that reply sufficiently ambiguous ; but it was. Of course I admitted that we had the pick of the bunch so far as Ministers were concerned. I think we have, and if they were both paid Ministers we should nob have anything of which to complain.
– I do not care for the wording of this motion, because in its present form it casts a reflection on some one connected with the Ministry.
– That is not intended ; but the verbiage could be altered if necessary.
– I know that no reflection is intended, but the first paragraph, which provides that it is desirable -
That there be more adequate representation of the Government in the Senate - could be taken to contain a reflection. I trust that the mover of the motion will agree to amend the paragraph, so that it will read that it is desirable -
That there should be two paid Ministers in the Senate.
That wording would meet the unanimous wish of the Senate.
– I am prepared to substitute the word “ greater “ for the words “more adequate.” I do not think it is necessary to name the exact number of Ministers required.
– We might add at the end of the first paragraph the words, “ by having at least two paid Ministers.” That would take the sting out of it.
– I am prepared to accept that amendment.
– If the honorable senator will agree to the addition of those words I shall not move the amendment I have indicated. I propose, however, to move that the motion be amended by the omission of the second paragraph. Although we had some reason to complain last session that we had at times no business to engage our attention, and had to submit to two or three adjournments, >I think we have had no reason for such a complaint this session. Our hands are’ full, and we may expect to have plenty to occupy our time until the end of the session. Therefore, I do not think the second paragraph is necessary. If it should become necessary at any time, Senator Neild will be able to move in the matter. It seems to me that it is not good tactics for the Opposition to urge that the Government should have more Ministers in the Senate.
– They are looking ahead.
– ,1 am sure we all agree with the complimentary references which have been made, to Senator Drake, but the Opposition will recognise that if the other representative of the Ministry had been absent from the Chamber on many occasions last session, they might have expected to score in connexion with certain matters in which the)’ were defeated. The presence of two paid Ministers in the Senate would strengthen the Ministry, and indeed an intelligent Ministry would at an early date look upon the Senate as a place of refuge, to which their members could fly. A man who is elected to the Senate has not to consult his constituents for six years, whereas a member of another place has to go before the electors every three years. Prom that stand-point then it would be wise for the Ministry to have another representative here. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent us from having more than seven Ministers if they are necessary. So far as I can learn, the only honorable senator who objects to having paid Ministers in the Senate is Senator Dobson. The honorable and learned senator would have no paid Ministers here, and no responsible Ministers whom we could criticise in any way. I think it would be an advantage to the Senate to have Ministers representing Departments here, so that, in case their Departments were not administered properly, we should be in a position to bring our objections under their notice.
– Unfortunately, when there is a desire to attack me, I am attacked in another place where I cannot be present.
– J desire to move the omission of paragraph 2 of the motion.
– I understand that it is intended to amend the first paragraph of the motion, and before an amendment can be put for the omission of the second paragraph that must be done, or Senator Neild must obtain leave to alter the motion.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I ask leave to amend paragraph 1 of the motion, by the addition of the words “ by the appointment of at least two paid Ministers.”
Question amended accordingly.
– I regret.that, in the desire to condense my remarks, in moving the motion I omitted reference to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Apparently my omission has been seized upon by the PostmasterGeneral as indicating some kind of reflection, if not. an attack, upon the honorable and learned senator. No such reflection was intended, and no reflection is involved in the smallest degree, with reference to the absence of the VicePresident of the Executive Council during the present session. This is shown by the fact that I gave notice of this motion on our third sitting day, the 3rd June. The motion will be found in print upon the business-paper for the fourth sitting day, and notice of it must therefore have been given at an earlier date. It was really given on our second sitting day, because, if I may be permitted to use an Hibernianism, our first sitting day was no sitting day, as it was merely the day of the opening of Parliament. On- the 3rd June I gave notice of this motion, and how was it possible foi’ me at that time to have any knowledge of what the Vice-President’s movements would be 1 I had not the faintest idea that the honorable and learned senator would be absent when I gave notice of the motion, and in moving it to-day, I make no reflection whatever upon the honorable and learned senator. I recognise the difficulties surrounding his position. But I also recognise that the honorable and learned senator occupies a position unknown under the Constitution - he is the fifth wheel of the Ministerial coach. There is another little matter I wish to clear up. I alleged that we had sat only on one Friday up to date for the month during which the Senate has been sitting. I find that that is absolutely so. We did not sit on the 29th May, or on the 5th or 19th June. We sat only on the 12th June.
– Because we did the private members’ work on the’ Thursday.
– Because we had nothing else to do.
– It was because we had nothing else to do. We were frozen-out gardeners. We were under the Ministerial frost, and had no work to do, and so we did something which was not provided for in the sessional orders.
– There was” other work to do, but that course was taken to oblige an honorable senator.
.- I differ in a slight degree from the figures given by Senator Styles. I draw attention to the fact to which that honorable senator referred, that in accordance* with the new parliamentary arrangement for the State Parliament of Victoria there are to be two paid Ministers in the Upper Chamber of that Parliament. Senator Styles said there were to be two out of ten, but I find that there are to be two out of seven.
– I was thinking of the old arrangement.
– The proportion is two out of seven. And if that be a reasonable proportion in the case of an Upper Chamber which has certainly not the same powers of legislation that the Senate possesses, surely it is a fair indication that we should at least have the same Ministerial representation in the Senate.
– The honorable senator is only strengthening what 1 said.
– That is my intention’, and I thank Senator Styles for having brought the matter forward. The expression of opinion on my motion has been so very unanimous in its favour, that I think I -should be doing wrong if I did not take a vote of the Senate upon it. There could be only one excuse for withdrawing it, namely, that some personal reflection had been meant. As there is none meant, and that is admitted, except by Senator Dobson, because I find the PostmasterGeneral has been good enough to eliminate the idea of there being anything personal in the matter, I should not be justified in complying with the request of one honorable senator as against the request of so many others.
– If it were a personal matter the honorable senator would not get one vote.
– Of course, I would not, and I should not, expect it. I would not submit a personal motion. Senator Dobson thinks it a very improper thing to make any reference to questions of payment ; but I do not find that the honorable and learned senator objected to the Senate voting some £30 upon the Estimates to recoup him for a little service in the chair.
– That has nothing to do with this matter.
– It has something to do with Senator Dobson, and the honorable and learned senator invites these little references. I have accepted the suggestion to. amend the first paragraph of the motion, and ifthat is carried there will be no reason for the second. What is asked for in the second paragraph of the motion would flow from the first, because, when there are two paid Ministers in the Senate, it will undoubtedly be convenient for the Government of the day to introduce a larger proportion of measures in this Chamber. I therefore ask leave to amend the motion by omitting the second paragraph.
Question further amended accordingly, and resolved in the affirmative.
That this Senate affirms that, in view of the position and status of this branch of the Legislature as defined by and in the Constitution, it is desirable - (1) That there be more adequate representation of the Government in the Senate by the appointment of at least two paid Ministers.
– I move -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate copies of all decisions, orders, and regulations issued by the Department of Trade and Customs, including all that have been specially issued for the direction of officers.
There have been issued since the introduction of the Federal Tariff a very large number of orders, regulations, and decisions. The papers have aggregated some 400 or 500, and some of them contain up to 100 decisions each, so that the information contained in them is very considerable. It seems to me desirable that honorable senators should have an opportunity of inspecting these. I have been told that the reason why the motion was not allowed to pass as formal was that there were certain confidential orders issued which could not be made public. I am perfectly willing to amend my motion so that it will exclude confidential orders issued by the Department to its officers. Obviously, a great Department cannot be carried on without certain more or less confidential communications, and it would not be proper for me to ask that these should be made public. Apart from these, I think it is desirable that the papers should be at the disposal of honorable senators.
– Does not the honorable senator see that this enormous mass of papers would have to be gone through to ascertain which were confidential?
– There would be very little trouble about that. I have in my own possession in Sydney nearly the whole of the papers. I suppose I have some 300 or 400 of them, which I obtained from the Sydney Custom-house. I can assure the Senate that there would be very little trouble, indeed, in getting these.
– Will there not be a lot of expense involved?
– There will be no expense beyond the mere clerical work of copying. I do not propose when they are laid upon the table to ask that they shall be printed, but I ask that they shall be here in order that honorable senators may refer to them when they choose to do so.
– What is the object?
– I have stated the object - that they shall be here for the inspection of honorable senators. Those honorable senators who, like Senater Higgs, believe that everything done by the Minister for Trade and Customs is necessarily perfection, need not trouble to inspect them. But honorable senators who have any doubts at all upon the subject, or who would like to take action, would be able to study the papers and gain information from them.
. -I wish just to say that it is practically impossible to comply with this request. With every desire to supply in- “ formation, it would be impossible to furnish the enormous mass of papers covered by the motion submitted by the honorable senator. He proposes now to make an addition to the motion excluding matters of a confidential nature ; but does the honorable senator not see that in order to do that it will be absolutelynecessary to go through the whole of this mass of papers to find out which are confidential 1 He asks for the correspondence in order that it may be brought down here, not for any particular purpose, but for any honorable senator to find out whether there is anything which he can get any interest out of. If he desires to get any information on any subject in connexion with the Customs Department let him say what he requires.
Orders of the day called on; debate interrupted.
Debate resumed from 4th June (vide page 528),on motion by Senator Pearce -
That in the opinion of the Senate it is advisable that the manufacture and sale of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes should be a national monopoly.
– I take the opportunity of speaking to this question, if for no other reason than to get rid of the words “ the Postmaster-General,” at the end of the motion on the business-paper. When the public see on our business-paper a motion with the name of a senator at the end of it, they conclude that he is its author.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is not ashamed of the motion ?
– I should not be ashamed of this motion, but during last session I was stigmatized continually because my name appeared at the end of a motion which had been moved by Senator Neild. It stood on the businesspaper for months with my name at the end of it, and in the press I was stigmatized in many terms which, perhaps, I should not be allowed to repeat here.
– It was the motion in favour of workmen’s insurance against industrial accidents. Is the honorable and learned senator ashamed of that motion?
– I do not think that was the motion, but invidious comparisons were made between one motion and a motion of a superior character.
– It was the motion relating to old-age pensions.
– Perhaps it was. My critics desired to know why I should bring forward in the Senate a motion which compared so unfavorably with some other motion which was before the public.
– That was Mr. O’Malley’s motion.
– The words “ adjournment of the debate moved by the PostmasterGeneral “ should have been inserted at the end of the motion, so as to make it clear that I was not its author. In moving his motion, Senator Pearce referred to the report of a select committee of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria which sat in 1896, and collected evidence on the subject. Although its report is generally favorable to the nationalization of tobacco manufacture and sale, the committee said -
The important subject … is one which would justify a more complete investigation than they have been able to undertake.
That seems at the very outset to amount to a confession that they had not been able to get the evidence they considered should be obtained before any action was taken. In fact, after reading the whole of the report, I should say that they came to the conclusion that the proposal possessed certain very attractive features, but they were not disposed to recommend its adoption then in Victoria. I believe that the Senate will come to the decision that, though it contains some good points, it would be utterly impracticable to put the proposal into operation at the present time. Senator Pearce dealt with the question more particularly from the financial point of view, no doubt in the hope that it would appeal to honorable senators. His contention is that his proposal, if adopted, would have the effect of producing a very considerable revenue, and he quoted the case of France. When I was in France for a few days in 1893, this subject attracted my interest very much. It seemed to me to be a very good idea to have the sale of tobacco regulated, and, of course, to collect such a large revenue as they do from this source- -about £14,000,000,I think. When I was in England, subsequently, I discussed the subject with my friends. The point of view which was taken by the connoisseurs was that not so many varieties of tobacco were sold in France as in England, that, though the tobacco which was produced in France was of a more even character, the quality was not even, but what I may call medium, that whereas one could get tobacco which is very much worse in a free-trade country, he could also get tobaccos which were very much better. A comparison of the shops will convey that impression. In France a very small shop, not much bigger than a large packing-case, suffices for selling tobacco and postage stamps. If one desires to buy tobacco he is offered probably three kinds at three prices, and he can have whichever sort he likes. In. the case of cigars he is offered two, or perhaps three, varieties, and he can take them or leave them ; he cannot get other qualities in the place. In Great Britain, and, I suppose in every country where the Government has not a monopoly, the tobacco shop is a splendid emporium where one can purchase almost any kind of tobacco which is manufactured in any part of the world.
– Any rubbish.
– In an English tobacco shop one can secure the finest brands of tobacco that are made in Great Britain and America and cigars from all countries, and the probability is that a connoisseur who is willing to pay the price can get a tobacco which is more particularly to his liking. One can get perhaps a more uniform quality in a country where a monopoly exists, but one can get a greater range of choice in a country where the business is carried on by private enterprise. Senator Pearce seems to think that by creating ‘a Government monopoly we shall be able to attach the whole of the net profit which goes into the pockets of the private manufacturers. Of course, he does not lose sight of the fact that we are deriving a large revenue - equal to about £1,400,000 - from the Customs and Excise duties on tobacco. I suppose he calculates that under his system we should be able to get just as much, plus the net profits which go into the pockets of private manufacturers. But then there are other things to be considered. Of course, the profit consists of the difference between the cost of production and the price which is obtained. The honorable senator .. will admit that in production, as it is carried on in most countries, there are certain features which he deprecates as much as I- do. If he creates a Government monopoly, I presume that he would desire to do away with the sweating of the employes. In doing away with that evil, he would necessarily increase the cost of production.
– No ; because on the other side of the ledger there is the waste in advertising.
– That is one expenditure which will be saved. Dealing with the question from the side of production, we must admit that in those countries where they produce cheaply, it is done by means of cheap labour, which the honorable senator desires to do away with. But in improving the conditions of the workmen he increases the cost of production. Then on the other side, who is to regulate the price of the tobacco 1
– “Who is to regulate the price of the leaf ?
– That comes under the head of production ; and probably the price of the leaf will be an important factor in determining the price of the tobacco. Who is to decide the price at which the tobacco shall be sold to the public ?
– The Government.
– It determines the price of postage stamps and railway tickets.
– I desired that the rates of postage should be fixed by regulation to be laid upon the table of each House, for its approval or otherwise, and, if approved, to be issued by the GovernorGeneral in Council. That proposal was objected to, and Parliament insisted that it should fix the rates. When the other House was asked to make certain alterations in the rates, did it listen to anything which was said in regard to the cost of carrying out the services 1
– No, because the Postoffice is not run for profit.
– But how much profit? In the case of the Post and Telegraph Department, we paid so much for our services, and such rates to our employes that we could not afford to carry newspapers or telegrams below a certain figure. .But the other House said - “ We do not care whether you can do so or not; we are going to have cheaper rates,” and the rates were reduced, although it was stated distinctly that they were non-paying rates. In fact, upon the information being given, it insisted upon making the rates still lower. If Parliament, as I understand, is to fix the rates to be charged for tobacco, and will not listen, as it would not listen before, to any argument based on the cost of production-
– Is that a fair comparison 1
– No, because one is a luxury, and the other is a necessity.
– Tobacco may be a luxury, but if we have to decide how much revenue we wish to raise by its sale, and that is to depend upon a vote that is given in Parliament, I am .perfectly sure that pressure will “ be ‘ put upon the members to reduce the price. We should have debates exactly the same as we had on the question of the import duties. When it was proposed to put a duty on tobacco in order to raise revenue, did we not find honorable senators insisting that the duty should be reduced, for the purpose of enabling the poor man to obtain his tobacco cheaper ? In the same way, if a monopoly in tobacco were established, there certainly would be a continual effort on the part of Members of Parliament to reduce the price. I mention that because the honorable senator has relied upon the margin of profit between the cost of production and the price at which the article will be sold to the consumer. He has admitted, in the first place, that he would take steps to improve the position of the workers. That would increase the cost of production. There is also a considerable danger, at all events, that Parliament would insist upon fixing the price at which the commodity was sold, and would so fix it that the margin of profit upon which the honorable senator counts would be whittled away. That is not, therefore, a strong point in Senator Pearce’s argument. At present we derive from the use of tobacco a considerable revenue, which, if necessary, can be increased. If the necessities of the Commonwealth are such that we require to obtain a larger revenue, the duty on tobacco can be increased at any time. It is a most convenient way of obtaining increased revenue.
– Would not the same argument apply if the public wanted to reduce the price of tobacco ?
– It would apply, but when it comes to be a matter of fixing the price of a service to the. public the tendency is to put pressure” on Parliament for the purpose of reducing the cost to the individual.
– The honorable and learned senator will admit that the present high price of tobacco is caused by high import and excise duties.
– Quite so. But I have pointed out that an effort was made last session to make the cost of tobacco’ cheap, and that the same thing will be done again. If the obtaining of revenue is the object in view, we can get it under our present system just as well as by the nationalization of the tobacco industry. The honorable senator argued that there would be a saving, because possibly there would not be the same necessity to spend money in posters and advertising. That may be so, but such articles are advertised to bring under the attention of consumers the qualities of different brands, and the places at which they may be obtained. That is all involved in the point that in a country like Great Britain there is a greater range of choice than there is in a country where a monopoly obtains. In making these remarks I do not wish it to be considered that I wholly condemn the principle of the nationalization of the tobacco industry. I admit that there is this advantage in the proposal - that it gives a certain amount of assurance that the workers engaged in the production of the article will receive fair wages and proper conditions of living. That, to my mind, is one of the principal arguments in favour of what is proposed, and I venture to say that it is a far stronger one than that we should be able to get a large amount of profit from the industry. I do not know whether the honorable senator has taken into consideration the practicability of putting his proposal into operation - whether under the Constitution there is power to do so. I cannot see that the Constitution gives us power at present to interfere in a matter of this kind.
– Does the Constitution prohibit us 1
– It may not prohibit us, but we require something more than the absence of a prohibition to enable us_ to take action which practically would mean, I do not say the confiscation, but the acquiring of this great business in all the States. None of the States of Australia has yet taken the tobacco industry into its own hands.
– Did the Government take that into consideration in connexion with establishing ironworks in Australia?
– I do not see how the Government would displace any one by establishing ironworks ; whereas if the honorable senator’s idea be carried out, it will mean that the Commonwealth will have to take the manufacture and sale of tobacco entirely out of the hands of private firms. In the case of ironworks, the national industry could be carried on side by side with the private industry. Probably there would be sufficient business to keep both Commonwealth ironworks and private works going. But if the Commonwealth took over the tobacco industry, it would be impossible to run it side by side with private enterprise. Otherwise it would not be a monopoly at all. I suppose the honorable senator would not contemplate shutting up the present factories and tobacco shops throughout the States ?
– The States did that in regard to the telephone system.
– In Victoria, the State bought out the private telephone company, because the company was willing to sell. It was a matter of sale and purchase. There was no reason why that should not occur. But what would it mean if the Commonwealth had to acquire a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of tobacco 1 Does Senator Pearce propose that the Commonwealth Government shall buy out all the manufacturers and retailers of tobacco, and pay them compensation ? ‘If so, we should have a far larger job on our hands than we have now in paying for the properties connected with the transferred Departments. The’ thing appears to me to be one that can hardly be contemplated at the present time. There may be some good points in the honorable senator’s proposal, but I do not see how thev could possibly be given effect to now. If not unconstitutional, as I think it is, his proposal is impracticable. I do not blame the honorable senator for bringing it forward for discussion, and it is just as well that during the session honorable senators should have an opportunity of expressing their opinions about it. But I think that when Senator Pearce has heard what others have to say he will be inclined at the present stage to withdraw his motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator De Largie) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th June, vide page 1402) :
Clause 2 -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed after, the twenty -eighth day of February, one thousand nine hundred and three, a bonus, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such sugar-cane or beet delivered for manufacture after the commencement of this Act and before the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and seven.
Upon which Senator Sir Josiah Symon had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added: - “Provided also that the said bonus shall not be paid to any grower who on or before the 28th February, 1902, grew sugar-cane or sugar-beet with white labour only. “
– The amendment moved by Senator Symon has undoubtedly the appearance of equity, and in that respect I am not surprised that he should have tabled it. I think it should be possible, however, to convince him that there is really a want of equity underlying it, and that when he has heard all that can be advanced in opposition to it, he will not ask for a division. Clearly, if the amendment were carried into law, the grower who has hitherto employed white labour would be politically pock-marked for the rest of his life. He would be unable to shake off the mark of having employed white labour. We will say that there are to-day on the banks of the Logan River in Queensland or on the Richmond River in New South Wales farms owned by farmers employing only white labour, and who have never employed coloured labour. Is it not e vident that if those men were depri ved of the right to obtain the bonus, on the ground that they had employed white labour in the past, they would be placed at a most serious disadvantage in competing with those who might commence operations on sugar plantasions next to them. ‘ On the one side of the fence we should have a man, who had hitherto employed white labour, denied the right to the bonus, while on the other side of the ‘fence there would be a new grower who would receive the bonus, notwithstanding that up ‘ to that time he had perhaps been an employer #of coloured labour in another part of Australia’. Under this amendment, those who have hitherto employed white labour would be . penalized for all time because of that fact, and -would never be able to rehabiliate themselves so as to secure the bonus. But the man on the other side of the fence, who had perhaps been “ up to his neck,” to use a familiar expression, in what was at one time known as the Queensland slave trade, would secure it. ‘ In the old days, when things were done by unauthorized speculators which warranted the opprobrium of the term of slavery, as applied to the traffic - although, thank God, that has not happened- for a quarter of a century - this man might have been engaged in the trade, but he would be able to start a sugar farm and obtain the bonus in opposition to his neighbour who had been employing white labour from the first.
– The man who has the mark of “ cane” upon him.
– I shall not elaborate that argument, but I shall deal with the point introduced by Senator Symon, as to the right of a man who has hitherto grown cane with white labour to the benefit of a protective duty. In reply ‘to the further proposition, which I think fell from Senator Symon, that the cane-grower now is not limited to his own State, but has the whole Commonwealth for his market, I would point out that, as regards the advantage of the protection offered in the form of a duty, the New South Wales growers have infinitely less advantage than they had before. I admit that they had only a duty of £3 per ton by way of protection, but they had New South Wales as a close preserve, and no other sugar could compete with their product. Certainly the growers of New South Wales can now send their sugar free to all the markets in the Commonwealth, .but there is no inducement for them to do so, because New South Wales does not grow sufficient for her own requirements. The barriers to intercolonial trade now being broken down, Queensland sugar, with a bounty of £2 per ton to help it, can come into New South Wales, ‘and compete, practically ruinously, with the local grower who has no protection whatever against it. Queensland does not consume all that she produces, but New South Wales does. A considerable quantity of Queensland sugar has for years past been introduced into’ New South Wales, and that practice will continue, with the difference that the blackgrown sugar of North Queensland, produced at a cheaper rate in the matter of labour, and the Queensland sugar produced by white labour, and enjoying a bounty of £2 per ton, will now come in duty free. In New South Wales the local grower will be entirely overrun by these importations, and will have no protection whatever if this amendment is carried. I do not think I need elaborate the point. It must be perfectly clear that if this amendment is carried the New South Wales grower will not have a show.
– Why should he have a show t He has always used white labour.
– Has not Tasmania the advantage of a Customs protection of no less than 25 per cent, for the great opossum fur industry 1
– What has that to do with it 1
.- If the Tasmanian fur opossum industry has the advantage - I am presuming that it is an advantage- of that protection, why should the honorable and learned senator deny the right of the New South Wales sugargrowers to have a fair deal ?
– They are not entitled to a bonus for doing what they did before.
– 1 am not asking for the bonus to be paid to the sugargrowers of New South Wales for doing what they did before. If I did, it would be an inequitable proposal. I am simply urging that, as compared with the man who is to receive the bonus in the future, the New South Wales growers should not be penalized and- placed at a disadvantage to the extent of £2 per ton of sugar, because they have employed white labour in the past. I shall not raise the question again as to the difference between the cost of white and coloured labour. I do not know whether £2 per ton fairly represents that difference, but I understand from the statement that I have read - although. I believe it has been challenged to some extent - that £2 per ton is, perhaps, too large a bonus.
– Mr. Conroy said that fid. per ton was sufficient.
.- I do not know .whether the honorable and learned senator is referring to a member of another place, and if he is, I do not know whether that gentleman is an authority. But I am not going to discuss the question, as I do not know whether £2 per ton is a fair sum or not. It has been decided practically that that bonus shall be paid, and, therefore, I say that if we give it to the sugargrowers of one district and deny it to those of another district, we shall practically render it impossible’ foi’ the latter to compete, not because they have not employed white labour in the past, but because we have set up a new condition of tilings. I am not quite sure whether Senator Symon has paid close attention to two provisions in the Constitution. I refer to sub-section (3) of section 51 and section 99. They contain provisions which are worthy of consideration. Sub-section (3) of section 51 provides that the Parliament shall, subject to the Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to-
Bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform, throughout the Commonwealth.
How can a bounty be uniform if the man on one side of a fence is never to receive it because of something that has happened in the past, while the man on the other side is to be entitled to it. Of course, the Commonwealth must be able to lay down conditions attaching to the payment of bonuses, which, if not complied with in the future, will act as a bar, but I take it that it is absolutely impossible for us to pass bonus provisions applicable only in certain localities because of something that has happened in the past over which we had no control. Section 99 provides that -
The Commonwealth shall not by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue -
Surely this would come under the heading of trade ? give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
I cannot help thinking that the proposal involved in this amendment comes within the purview of one or both of these provisions in the Constitution. Of course, it is a constitutional matter which this Chamber is not competent to settle, but we may fairly take it into consideration. Another point which has already been mentioned is that if this amendment be passed, farmers who have hitherto used only white labour will be compelled to set to work to obtain all the coloured labour they can find in the Commonwealth that has been thrown out of employment through the operation of the bounty, and to set that coloured labour to work in opposition to the white labour which has already received employment.
– Why did they not do that before ?
– Because they could not get the coloured labour.
– The kanakas have to be deported.
.- If the honorable and learned senator will take a trip to North Queensland he will find that there are numbers of coloured people there besides kanakas.
– There are 4,228 kanakas employed on the cane-fields.
– There are nearly 24,000 coloured people in Queensland, and of that number not quite 8,000 are kanakas.
.- There is enough coloured labour in Queensland to do very much more than cultivate all the canefields of New South Wales if transported there. In North Queensland, for instance, the whole of the banana trade is carried on by Chinese labour, and the immensely large shipping business in Cairns in bananas is the result of Chinese- labour. There isalso a great deal of Javanese, Japanese, and Hindoo labour. . I have no desire to see this class of labour transported to New South Wales as the result of our attempt to improve the conditions of white labour in Australia. At a time when there is no symptom of hysteria in the Chamber, I wish to make it quite ‘ clear that in anything I have said, or may say in the future, with reference to the prospects of success in the great experiment being made, there is a vast difference between an honest doubt of future success, and opposition. I do not oppose, but I have my honest doubts, as to whether this will be a successful experiment. In trying the experiment let ustry it honestly and fairly, and on the best terms, to enable its results to be capably judged. I have never said, nor intended tosay, and I have never voted, nor intended to vote, in any way against the policy of a. white Australia ; but I do think that, under the amendment, if carried, there would certainly be a prospect of the employment of coloured labour in localities where white labour is now employed, and if white labour can successfully grow a tropical crop, it isin those localities. I- speak largely from the stand-point of New South Wales that State white labour has been more generally employed in connexion with the growth of sugar than in Queensland. I am therefore justified in putting forward the view which I entertain, with some element of practical knowledge, with reference to the effect which the amendment submitted will have upon an industry which we are, by our present legislation, seeking to advance, rather than to retard.
– I believe that when this Bill becomes law it will be more just than the rebate provisions of the Excise Tariff Act which we seek to repeal. Although I say that, I must confess an behalf of Tasmania, that I think we are being altogether too lavish and too generous in dealing with the sugar industry, and the course which is beingadopted involves great injustice to my own State. Tasmania is losing enormously in revenue by the alteration of ‘ the duties on sugar, and that is a loss which we cannot afford. If I saw that the whole of the loss which we in Tasmania are helping to make up would go towards the assistance of the planter in getting rid of black labour and employing white,’ I should be satisfied, although I should still hold that we are treating the sugar planter too generously. But when we know that the rich State of New South Wales is being paid for doing what she did before, and that we are giving the sugar growers of that State £36,000 per annum, or £2 per ton on 18,000 tons of sugar, which they have all along been growing with white labour, honorable senators must see that we are merely placing a sum of money in the pockets of the New South Wales planters who are doing nothing at all to help forward the policy of a white Australia. I appeal to Senator Drake, to consider whether even at this hour he and his colleagues cannot initiate some more just way of doing that which we all desire to do. I believe that the only thing we desire to do is to get rid of the black man, in order to employ the white man in his place.
– I cannot conceive of
Any fairer plan than is proposed by this Bill.
– I know that Sir George Turner and those associated with him have given great consideration to the matter. Still I am bound to say, that the present Bill is a botch. It not only does what we desire to do ; but it does something else which adds to the injustice which a number of States are suffering from under this legislation.
– We cannot discriminate between the States.
– We are not trying to discriminate between the States. We are trying to devote the money to the purpose for which it is intended.
– I think that Senator Symon’s amendment to some extent carries out that policy. I quite understand that there may be objections to it, and that its operation may result in injustice in certain cases, but it cannot create a greater injustice than will ensue if the New South Wales planter gets a bonus for doing what he has always done. I should like to know how far it is from the sugar plantations of Bundaberg - the most southern plantations of Queensland to the most northern plantations of New South Wales ?
– There ai-e plantations in Queensland hundreds of miles .south of Bundaberg.
– How far is it from the most southern plantations in Queensland to the most northern plantations in New South Wales?
– It is a few hundred yards, because there are sugar plantations on both sides of the Tweed River, which is the boundary between two States.
– There is a distance of, I think, about 100 miles between the Logan and Richmond districts.
– Are kanakas employed on the most southern plantations of Queensland ?
– There is no doubt about that.
– There is no use in Senator Neild straining a point to support his argument on the injustice of paying the bonus to a man on one side of the fence and denying it to a man on the other. I learn that there is a distance of about 100 miles between the southern plantations of Queensland and the northern plantations of New South Wales j but, with regard to the great sugar plantations upon - which black labour is chiefly employed, I believe there is a distance between them and the New South Wales plantations of 300 or 400 miles, and there is a very considerable difference in climate and other conditions. That make’s the payment of this bonus to the New South Wales planters all the more unjust. I think that some scheme’ might be devised by which the bonus could be given to the planters in proportion to the number of coloured labourers they get rid of, having regard to the number of acres they are cultivating. It appears to me that some such scheme, thou”gh it might not carry out all that we desire, would certainly operate more equitably than will this proposal for paying bonuses to New South Wales planters
– I am afraid the honorable and learned senator’s scheme would be a botch, if he will excuse my saying so.
– Every scheme would appear to be a botch, and what we have to do is to adopt the scheme which will work most justly. It is idle for Senator Neild or any other honorable senator from New South Wales to tell us that the New South Wales planters, who have always used white labour and who will continue to use it, are entitled to anything whatever.
Senator Neild endeavoured to show that if Senator Symon’s amendment were carried, the New South Wales planters would immediately procure all the black labour they could.’ But those planters could have secured Hindoos, Chinamen, or kanakas all these years, and they did not do so because they found that the climate in which they were carrying on the industry would permit of white men doing the work, and they were always able to get a sufficiency of white labour. Why, in the circumstances, should they get a bonus? The Federal Parliament has voted this bonus for a particular purpose, and now, in the Bill before us, it is proposed deliberately to give it for some other purpose. In fact we are simply throwing this money at the heads of the New South Wales planters. I have already asked the Postmaster-General, if he can, to tell honorable senators what really is the difference in cost in the employment of white and black labour on the canefields. We have an honorable member in another place repeating again and again that the difference amounts to 6d. per ton of cane, and we are being asked under this Bill to vote a’ bonus of 4s. per ton. I naturally ask for this information, because, while there is undoubted injustice being done to the smaller States, if we can cut down the 4s. a ton proposed we shall mitigate the the evil in that way. If £1 per ton of sugar would be a fair thing, why should we vote £2 per ton ? Tasmania, and some of the other small States, certainly cannot afford it. I hope that before the Bill leaves the Committee, Senator Drake will give us some information upon this point, because we should not be asked to give a greater bonus to planters employing white labour than the difference in cost between the employment of white and black labour entitles them to. We desire to help them ; we have shown the utmost sympathy with them, and in my opinion we have gone altogether too far in that direction. . It is said by some honorable senators that we are now objecting to the cost involved in establishing the white Australia policy ; but if the cost which we are asked to pay is more than is necessary to secure what we desire, we have a right to object.
– The difference in cost varies so enormously that it is impossible to make any statement of the kind, and it is found that on the average £2 per ton will be sufficient to cover it.
– Then why does an honorable member in another place tell us that the difference is only 6d. per ton of cane? .
– I am not responsible for the statement made in another place.
– I find that there is a desire on the part of some honorable senators not to give this information.Some of the Queensland ‘ senators must surely know what the difference is. I have heard it stated here that a bonus of £1 per ton would be a fair thing, and if Senator Drake is not prepared to deny that he should not ask us to vote a bonus of £2 per ton.
– The debate upon the amendment has been an extremely interesting one, and it has been conducted with an almost complete absence of feeling in respect to the large question which this amendment does not touch - the question of a white Australia. I think it is fair to Senator Neild, and other honorable senators who have spoken, that I should notice one or two points to which they have referred. I quite agree that in approaching any amendment on this Bill, we should be animated by a desire to honestly carry out the policy. We are not by this Bill, or any other Bill, seeking to reverse the policy adopted in the legislation passed in relation to the sugar industry. We are not here to reconsider or to modify either the import or the excise duty, nor are we unfortunately here to open up the question, which is exceedingly debatable, of the extreme liberality - to put it in no other way - of this £2 per ton rebate, intended to be offered now by way of bonus, for the carrying out of the policy. My object in submitting my amendment is to honestly carry out the policy to which the Parliament is committed. ‘ I frankly admit that there is a good deal to be said on both sides, but when Senator Stewart - who I am quite sure approaches the subject from his stand-point with the same desire to do what is right as I do - suggests that I have some indirect motive in moving the amendment, and that it is simply an attempt to strike a blow indirectly at this policy of a white Australia, all I can say is that I have no such intention. My desire is to adhere strictly to that policy, and to carry it out to a conclusion. Last year we adopted a rebate, and this year we propose, for the purpose of administration, to call it a bonus. What I object to is to give to the planters who never have employed coloured labour in the production of sugar, not a bonus, but a gratuity. It is now a question between the taxpayers and the planters. The rebate was a sum paid by the consumers, but the bonus is to be a burden on the taxpayers. The total amount paid last year - and I suppose it will go on increasing - was about £60,000. The rebate was intended to induce the planters in particular parts of Queensland to substitute white for black labour, but we paid £36,000 to the planters of New South Wales, where the reason for the rebate never existed and only £24,000 to Queensland, whose planters the Parliament intended to benefit. I have no desire to keep this money from New South Wales any more than from South Australia. I do not know sufficient about the Northern Territory, which, unfortunately, has been seriously retarded in its development by its adhesion to a white labour policy, to say whether any sugarcane is grown there. I wish the same rule to apply all round. I object to giving the gratuity to persons to whom the Parliament never desired to grant it under cover of a bonus which was intended for a totally different purpose. That is the basis on which this matter rests. It is not a matter for rhetoric at all. I claim, and I think those who support the amendment may well claim, to be strict adherents of the policy of this Government and of this Parliament, which, whether we object to it or not, is designed to secure the cessation of the employment of coloured labour on the sugar-fields, and to pay the compensation which is alleged to be necessary. The planters in North Queensland came to this Parliament and said through their representatives and otherwise - “in the more temperate regions of Queensland and .New South Wales, it is all very well to have white labour, but with us black labour is necessary, or if it is not necessary, we shall have to pay double wages for white labour.” My honorable friends on my left pressed on our attention over and over again the fact that coloured labour was secured at a lower rate of wages than white labour. And to secure the “whitewashing” of the black or coloured part of the Queensland cane-fields, Parliament assented to this act of justice 0 c ifc d and this payment. Why should the bonus be paid to planters who, apparently, have been thriving under a protective duty ? Senators Neild and Smith put forward an argument which, at first sight, was a little attractive. It does not seem to me in any way to touch the principle which Parlia-liament is “ seeking to carry out, and with which I thoroughly agree now that it has been accepted. My honorable friends ask, if this is done, what will be the result? One result, they say, may be that the planters who cannot get the bonus will immediately gather in all the coloured labour available and employ it on their fields in order to reduce the cost of production. That certainly cannot apply to last year, because the rebate has been paid. It can only exist in 1904-5-6 ; we are not dealing with a bonus which is to last for ever. To hold over us the bogy that these people will immediately crowd down upon themselves the coloured labour is simply ridiculous. What would they gain by doing that? They would simply gain the advantage of the employment of some coloured labour during those three years, and, of course, it is pure speculation that they could do such a thing, because probably all, or a great portion of the coloured labour obtainable, would be employed in North Queensland, a large proportion of the kanakas having to bc deported, and only a certain proportion being allowed to remain in the country after a fixed time. But the very same reason applies at the end of 1906, and that shows the absolute futility of this bonus payment by the taxpayers for the purpose of procuring a white Australia. In 1906 the bonus will end, and do not honorable senators think that every grower who can get coloured labour, if it is true that it is the much cheaper article, will, if he can, immediately substitute coloured for white labour to keep down the cost of production? My eyes have been opened this afternoon by being told that there is plenty of coloured labour on the cane-fields to-day, and that the number employed in Queensland is 4,228. It is an exceedingly interesting argument to put, but what does it amount to? In itself it amounts to nothing, but in relation to the expiration of the period of the bonus - it amounts to a confession that the sum of £300,000 or £400,000 which this policy will cost the taxpayers, assuming that the bonus increases from £60,000 to £100.000 a year, will be just as if it had been thrown into the sea. That opens up to us a very grave consideration indeed, -in these times when economy is so largely in demand. “We are not justified in increasing the burdens on the people by one solitary sovereign more than is absolutely necessary for the purpose whichthe Parliament has sanctioned, namely, not the payment -of a bonus for the growing of sugar in Australia, but the payment of a bonus to those planters who previously grew their sugar with coloured labour, and are to be offered this inducement to use white labour. The Senate will not be doing its duty to the taxpayers whom it represents if it allows the money to be diverted into a wrong channel. As long as I am here, even if I am alone, I .shall record my protest, not against the payment of the money to New South Wales, South Australia, or any other State, but against the payment of it to people who have been doing well all along, and have no right to this inducement and to this gratuity. Just one word in regard to the constitutional position to which I referred yesterday. Senator Neild has read the two provisions in the Constitution which bear on the point - of course the underlying principle .is equality - and said that we have no -right to discriminate, or to give a bonus to one part of Australia, and withdraw it from another. We are not doing anything of the kind. If this were a bonus given for the cultivation of sugar in Australia, then it could not be limited to Queensland. New South Wales, or any other part of the Commonwealth. To do so would be unconstitutional. This particular bonus is uniform throughout Australia. What for ? It is a bonus paid to planters who have hitherto employed coloured labour, and who are to receive this encouragement to use white labour. It is open -to every grower of sugar throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Every planter in New South Wales who has used coloured labour is entitled to this bonus in common with the planters in Queensland. The confusion arises from regarding this as a bonus for the encouragement of sugar-growing, whereas it is merely to encourage the employment of white labour. Therefore, although I admit the force of the argument used by Senator Neild, I think that he will probably see that, considering what the object of the Bill really is, my amendment is no infringement of any constitutional principle whatever, but that the contribution to growers who have never used coloured labour is an infringement. The unconstitutionality is on the part of the Bill as it stands. My amendment rectifies that. But whether it will rectify it or not, the sugar-growers on the Richmond and the Tweed in New South Wales have no right to receive this bonus from the taxpayers of Australia. It is on those grounds, and with a view of furthering the abolition of the employment of coloured labour on the cane-fields, that I submit the amendment. I am not submitting it in a hostile spirit in the slightest degree, but with a view of saving the taxpayers’ money, and seeing that the bonus goes into the right pockets.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I admit that the speech we have just listened to has been very eloquent and cogent in argument, and the points have been forcibly put ; but unfortunately Senator Symon sat down without answering in any way whatever the two important propositions which I submitted. He has dealt eloquently with side issues, but has not touched upon the most important points. I ask the Committee to bear with me if I repeat an argument which I have already addressed to it. Under Senator Symon’s amendment, while a man who in the past had used white labour -would not be entitled to receive the bonus, no matter where he grew his sugar, another grower alongside him might start a sugar farm and obtain the bonus.
– But we only have three years; how can the new grower produce sugar in that time?
– He can produce sugar in the first twelve months. There will be three crops.
– Could he g%t a crop before 1895 ?
– Certainly. . He would plant in the spring, and could certainly get two crops, if not three. The other proposition, to which Senator Symon failed to refer, is this : While the sugargrower in Queensland who had hitherto employed black labour received a bonus, the white labour employer in New South Wales, bereft under federation of’ the protection which he had hitherto enjoyed, would find his own State overrun with sugar from Queensland produced under a bounty of £2 per ton. What chance would a man in New
South Wales, who grew sugar without a bounty, have in competing with men who received a bounty? There is a considerable difference between the position of New South Wales and that of South Australia in regard to sugar. Senator Symon, no doubt, has a good knowledge of his own State. He is aware that there is more immediate steam-boat connexion between New South Wales and Queensland than between any other two States. New South Wales is to Queensland the first State of Australia on the steam-boat routes, and consequently becomes a selling depot for Queensland sugar. The difficulty is aggravated by there being something like a steam-boat daily between the two States. What chance would the sugar-grower in New South Wales have of competing on even terms if the Queensland grower had an advantage over him of £2 per ton ? Those are two points which Senator Symon has not mentioned. Senator Symon’s amendment speaks of the growers. We should have a definition of that word. What does he mean by the growers ?
– I used the word I found in the Bill.
.- Is it defined ? Does the word mean a proprietor of canefields or a workman grower? Does not Senator Symon see that it would be possible if his amendment were carried to dodge the provisions of the law just as the land laws of the different States have been dodged by dummying? Would it not be absolutely certain that the farmer grower would resort to some of those interesting legal processes of which my honorable and learned friend is a past master?
– Oh, no, of which I have only heard.
– A past master in knowledge, not in perpetration. It would be perfectly easy by some pleasant legal fiction of that kind to transfer an estate to a son, a daughter, or a wife, who would then become the grower known to the law, and be able to obtain the bonus by a back-door process which should not be encouraged by legislation. We should endeavour to pass such laws as will be obeyed, not dodged. Senator Symon’s proposal is one that unquestionably would be dodged, because it could be dodged with the greatest ease in the world. Every one of these people who are to be legislatively pock-marked for ever could get out of the difficulty as far as concerns pounds, shillings, and pence by a dummy sale. Suppose that Senator Symon were a typical employer of white labour, and had a plantation upon which only white labour was employed. Under his own proposal he could not receive the bonus. But he could sell to me, and I, who, we will say, had never employed other than black labour, could get the bonus.
– We will put in another amendment to prevent that.
– Then the honorable and learned senator would be doing a transparent injustice against which his soul should revolt. He would be penalizing the actual value of the land because of what the occupier had done. I am sure he would not wish to do that.
– We will attach the disability to the land as well as to the grower.
.- I am afraid there is coming into the Chamber this afternoon a light air which narrowly approaches frivolity ; because I am sure that an honorable and learned senator like Senator Symon would not seriously propose to attach a disability to the soil us well as to the man. If a man commits the. enormity of employing white labour, and is never to receive a bonus because he has done so, while the man who has employed black labour on the other side of the road does receive a bonus, it will be most unjust.
– We have done that by Senator Glassey’s amendment.
– In a very indefinite manner ; not by a direct proposal such as Senator Symon’s, whenhe suggests - jocularly, I am sure - that we should penalize the value of real estate because white labour has been employed upon it.
– I do not think there are three members of the Committee who have not already recognised that Senator Symon’s amendment is an attempt by a side wind to do an injustice to the white sugar-growers of New South Wales. Senator Symon may protest till he is black in the face that he is submitting a general proposition. Of course he is ; but we know the intention of that proposition. The white Australia policy is not only a policy to “ whitewash” the black spots, but to keep the white spots still white. The amendment of the honorable and learned senator would have the effect of blackening what is already white, and keeping black what is already black. It would have the effect of penalizing people who have stuck to the white Australia policy, and compelling them to revert to a piebald method of cultivation. There must be some growers in New South Wales who employ coloured labour. According to the return referred to by Senator Symon 15 per cent, of the sugar produced in New South Wales is grown by black labour. But as soon as an amendment of this description began to take effect, those. who had employed white labour in the past would be compelled to take up the coloured labour which must still remain here independent of any action we may take in the near future.
– Who will fill their places ?
– He is a very fine white Australian who begins to look around for subterfuges to support a proposal which he knows very well has been introduced purely for the purpose of wrecking the policy of a white Australia.
– Does the honorable senator say I did that ?
– Most decidedly.
– Is that remark in order, Mr. Chairman % The honorable senator may draw his own inferences, but he has no right to attribute anything of the kind to me when I say that it is not so.
– The honorable senator is justified in expressing the opinion that the effect of a certain proposal will be to wreck the policy of a white Australia. I am not aware that the honorable senator has gone beyond that.
– But he said I knew very well it was done for that purpose.
– Well, I will say that the honorable senator ought to know that it will have that effect.
– That is another thing.
– His conduct from the beginning of last session to the present time has been such that, although professing to favour a white Australia, his arguments and efforts have been in opposition thereto.
– The honorable and learned senator voted for the policy of a white Australia.
– The honorable senator is only the echo of some greater voice in the State from which he comes. I wish to point out that the growers who in the past have endeavoured to carry out the policy of a white Australia will be compelled, if this amendment be carried, to go in the opposite direction. Senator Neild and others from New South Wales will bear me out in saying that the industry in New South Wales has been struggling for years. Now that some effort is being made to encourage the growers there, it is urged that they should be penalized by being refused this bounty on the ground that they have not employed coloured labour in the past. I hope that will not be done. While this bonus operates, the coloured people who will be displaced by its provisions will very likely find employment for the next three or four years in other directions. If they cannot do so, they will probably depart for countries where they can find employment, and leave Australia whiter than it was before the introduction of this measure. Senator Dobson is considerably exercised in his mind as to the statement made by some honorable member of another place that this bonus is really too high. The same assertion has been made by Senator Playford.
– There is no doubt about it.
– For the benefit of these honorable senators I shall give a few figures, which should settle all doubts upon the point. This has been a great question for pamphleteering. We “were flooded last session with pamphlets relating to the white Australia proposal. Among others we received one from Dr. Maxwell, giving the acreage under sugar cultivation, the number of registered cane-growers, and the number of kanakas and other coloured people employed in the cane-growing industry in Queensland. Honorable senators will remember that when this question was before the Senate last session, I set Senator Clemons certain equations to solve. Dr. Maxwell’s figures showed that in one district in Queensland there were 1,911 coloured persons, 1,332 registered white cane-growers, and 1,666 other white people employed in the industry. AVe may say that there were practically 2,000 coloured people and 3,000 white people cultivating the 45,000 acres under sugar-cane in the district in question. The pamphlet showed that in another district there were 523 registered cane-growers, and if we allow them the same proportion of white labour which is really necessary to do the work that the kanaka must not carry out, according ‘to the conditions under which they are introduced, we shall find that about 1,000 white people and nearly 5,000coloured people were cultivating 35,000 acres under sugar-cane in the district. These figures show us that the value of a white man’s labour was considered to be double that of a kanaka or coloured man - that one white man was worth two kanakas or two coloured men. That is a deduction which even Dr. Maxwell himself cannot contradict, and I am simply making this statement to show that the bonus is not too high. According to Dr. Maxwell, the amount of wages paid to the coloured man was £35 per annum, while the white man received £90 or £95 per annum. Thus two coloured men receiving a total of £70 per annum are considered to be able to do an amount of work equal to that performed by a white man receiving £90 or £95 per annum.
– Does the honorable senator include the cost of importation in his allowance for the coloured labour ?
– If the honorable senator had only sufficient intelligence to recall the fact–
– Order ! The honorable senator must not refer to another honorable senator as not having sufficient intelligence to do something. I must ask him to withdraw the expression.
– I will say that if the honorable senator would exercise a little more intelligence, he would remember that the calculation on which this estimate of £35 a year was based covered three years, and included £30 as the cost of introduction, and £5 for deportation, together with the cost of maintenance, wages and everything else. According to Dr. Maxwell’s return, the labour value of the kanaka as compared with the white man, is as 5k acres to 11 acres, showing that one white man according to these calculations is capable of cultivating 11 acres of cane, while it requires two coloured men to do the same amount of work. Senator Glassey -and other honorable senators will recognise that we must take the same average of sugar production per acre, and we shall find that about one ton of sugar to the acre is considered a reasonable average, although the actual production may be a little more or a little less. Thus the cost of the white labour involved in the production of 11 tons of sugar is £95, while the cost of the coloured labour required to produce the same quantity is only £70. Honorable senators will find when they have apportioned these amounts as they should be apportioned in connexion with that small item in the production of sugar, that there is’ a difference of £25 between the labour of the one and the labour of the other. That is to say there is a difference,,f £25 between the cost of the white and black labour required to produce the quantity of sugar named If we divide 25 by ] 1 we have a little over £2 per ton. Therefore no matter what honorable members of another place, who have never considered the figures supplied to us by the Queensland sugar expert, may say, we have mathematical proof that the bounty of £2 per ton in the present circumstances is not one penny too much. In the near future when the white men have to do the work, and exercise their genius in the cane-fields, that amount may not be necessary in view of the improvements which they may effect.
– I have just been told that the. difference is only 10s.
-If honorable senators were prepared to accept any statement that might be made, of course it would be very easy to say that 5s. per ton was too much, or that £10 per ton was not enough. But I think that I have proved from Dr. Maxwell’s own figures that the bounty of £2 per ton is a fair thing. It is for Senator Dobson to prove that my statements are incorrect. I hope that this amendment will not be carried, because it would have the effect of blackening what is already white, and whitening what is already black.
– Senator McGregor has endeavoured to convince the Committee by a number of figures that it is necessary to give a bonus of £2 per ton in order to compensate those who are employing black labour for replacing it by white labour. It was clearly stated yesterday, in the pamphlet quoted extensively by Senator Neild, that the difference between the cost of the production of sugar by white and by black labour amounts to 7s. 6d. per acre.
– That was proved to be wrong.
– That is a statement made by those who are engaged in the industry. and who know what they are talking about. When they issued their pamphlet they knew that it would be read by all who are interested in this great question, and they state clearly that the difference in cost between the production of sugar by white labour and by black labour is 7s. 6d. per acre. I understand that the production of cane per acre averages 15 tons. At 10 per cent, that would be equal to H- tons of sugar per acre, and therefore the rebate of £2 per ton of sugar would be equal to £3 per acre of cane. That is what the people of the Commonwealth are being asked to return to the planter, because he has expended 7s. 6d. per acre more than he has done previously by employing black labour. It is, therefore, quite clear that under this Bill we are being asked to pay a very much larger bonus than is necessary to fairly compensate the planter, who has been using black labour, for employing white labour in the future. We are told that there is a necessity for paying this bonus to men who have been producing sugar by white labour all along, because they have been doing a noble thing in refusing to employ coloured labour. But we know that they have not employed white labour from any philanthropic motive, but because they have found that it pays them better than any other class of labour. The people of South Australia, who have been acting upon the policy of a white Australia, from sentimental rather than from practical considerations, are now called upon to contribute towards this bonus to people who are only continuing the industry in the way in which they have conducted it for several years.
– There are seven Chinamen for every white man in the Northern Territory.
– I know that we have a good many Chinamen in the Northern Territory who were introduced at the time the railway was built there, but since that time we have said that no Chinamen shall enter South Australia, except the very small number who are able to get in under the tonnage regulations. We have stood by that loyally, and have been making enormous sacrifices in the interests of a white Australia, and yet we are now called upon to make this additional sacrifice, not in the interests of a white Australia, but in order to compensate men who have been employing white labour in the cultivation of sugar all along, because it has paid them to do so. We have already passed ari Act which prohibits the introduction of Asiatics, South Sea Islanders, ‘and other coloured races, and if it be true, as has been suggested, that the coloured men now engaged in other avocations in the Commonwealth may be utilized in the production of sugar in New South Wales, it must not be forgotten that the places they leave elsewhere will have to be filled by white men, because there will be no opportunity in the future for the- introduction of cheap Asiatic labour. I say that those who are supporting Senator Symon’s amendment are loyal . to the white Australia idea,, but we are not willing that a large number of the people of Australia shall be penalized to the extent’ to which they will be under this Bill, in order to enrich a few persons who are under no necessity to appeal to the public for assistance. With regard to Senator McGregor’s remark that. I am the echo of a greater voice, I may tell the honorable senator that I echo the voice of the people of South Australia in this matter, and I am proud to be in a position todo so.
– This subject has been discussed from almost every possible stand-point, but I am quite satisfied that, no matter how it isviewed, the unfairness of Senator Symon’s proposal must be apparent. Whether it is viewed from the stand-point of a white Australia, of taxation, or of trade as between one grower and another, the unfairness of the proposal must be obvious. Senator Charleston, in common with Senator Symon, seems to think that the taxpayers of Australia are being heavily taxed to pay this bonus for white-grown sugar, but I think I can show that they are paying very little indeed. Apart from the amount of protection which we give the sugar industry, which is protected in common with a number of other industries, and, so far as the bonus or rebate merely is concerned, I hold that the taxpayer is paying nothing whatever. It must not be forgotten that the amount of the excise which goes back in the shape of rebate or bonus to the growei of sugar by white labour conies out of the industry itself. We call upon the industry topay an excise duty of £3 for every ton of sugar produced, and we pay back tothose engaged in the industry 2 out of the £3 upon every ton of sugar grown by white labour. It must, therefore, be apparent that it is the industry that is paying for sugar grown in that way, and not the taxpayers of Australia. Viewing the question in that way, I hold that we are entitled to give the growers of sugar by white labour a certain amount of encouragement. Those who are in favour of the white Australia policy cannot avoid that position. So far from the white Australia policy being an expensive one, we are, under this Bill, being asked simply to give back to the sugar industry two-thirds of what we have taken from it, and I think we could not do less than what is proposed to encourage the growth of sugar by white labour, and to establish the white Australia policy.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South
Wales). - I move -
That the following words beadded : - “Pro videdalso that thesaid bonus shall not be paid in respect ofany sugar-cane grown or produced by or with the labour of females, or of persons under theage of 21 years.”
As this question was discussed at a previous stage, I shall not speak at great length. One of the objects of the bonus is to maintain the purity of the white race in Australia. The object of my amendment is to protect the same race in its integrity, in its healthiness, in its fertility, which is a matter of some little consequence at the present time, when Australia from one end to the other is being made the ground for discussing the very important problem of race production. It is admitted that there is a difficulty in obtaining the cultivation of this tropical crop in tropical localities. I do not suppose that any honorable senator is going to attempt to controvert that proposition, and I am sure that Senator Glassey will not attempt to do so, after his deliberate argument with me at the end of the table yesterday, when he admitted clearly that the prospect of growing cane sugar successfully with white labour is greater by the small family method than by the general employment of white labour.
I shall press the amendment to a division, whether there is one to vote with me or not.
Amendment amended accordingly.
SenatorDRAKE. - I suppose we all agree with Senator Neild that it is most undesirable that women or children shall be employed in plantation work in the same way as kanakas have been employed. But when it comes to a question of women or children assisting in family labour - in what might almost be called a cottage industry - I believe that a great many honorable senators will consider that it is better that they should be employed in that way than that they should be starving. We have to bear in mind that some persons engaged in the cultivation of products like sugar-cane may be very poor, and that a little assistance occasionally from members of the family may enable them to get over their difficulties and earn the means of a livelihood. I shall not deal with the matterfrom that point of view. I put it to Senator Neild whether his amendment is not utterly impracticable. It is exceedingly difficult at the present time, by the use of a number of inspectors, to watch all these plantations and see that coloured labour is not employed sometimes in connexion with cane for which a bonus is to be claimed. If we go further, and insist that where cane is grown on a small scale by small settlers, the occasional assistance of members of the family shall vitiate a claim for a bonus, it will necessitate the employment of almost as many inspectors as there are cane-growers. The thing is, from that point of view, entirely unpracticable. I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that, other things being equal, I should prefer that women and children should not bo employed. But this proposal would defeat the objects of the Bill. If it is to be applied to the cultivators of sugar, why not to the growers of - other kinds of agricultural produce)
– If we have power to do it, and it is desirable, why not apply the principle to other agricultural industries, as well as to the cultivation of sugar cane?
– Under some conditions I should support this proposal, but under existing circumstances my vote will be given against it. I have no hesitation in saying that the quarter -from which the amendment comes makes me regard it with more than suspicion. I remember that the honorable senator is one of those who, in season and out of season, have endeavoured to defeat the legislation to which this Bill applies.
– That is not a fact, and the honorable senator knows that it is not a fact.
- Senator Neild was one of those who originally opposed the Bill which had for its object the abolition of kanaka labour. He supported the proposal to draw a colour line in Queensland.
– These are utterly wild and incorrect statements.
– Hansard will show -whether Senator Neild did not support the many proposals which were submitted to render nugatory the Pacific Island ^Labourers Act. As regards women, what -did we find the honorable senator doing when we were dealing with a measure that was meant to improve their condition 1 When tho Public Service Bill was under consideration, and an amendment was moved to fix a minimum wage for women, where was the -honorable senator 1 Does bis name appear :in the division list as voting for that, minimum wage ? When Senator Glassey moved his proposal that a certain proportion of women should be taken into the public service the honorable senator’s voice was raised against it. There is, therefore, justification for regarding his amendment with suspicion.
-Col. Neild. - Senator Pearce believes in sweating women, does he J
– I do not believe in sweating women or children. My voice will always be raised in the endeavour to abolish sweating. I take it that this policy already entails a great deal of trouble and expense to carry out. If we say that by means of- it we will not only determine the question of white and black labour but also the industrial conditions under which sugar is to be produced, we shall add largely to the expense of working it That is another indication that the honorable senator by this proposal is endeavouring to kill the effectiveness of the measure. Furthermore, I take it that Queensland has her own educational laws, under which children are compelled to attend school until they have obtained a certificate or have reached the ago oi fourteen years. If that be so, under the school laws of .Queensland children will not be allowed to work in the cane-fields. As to women, I have yet to learn that Senator Neild objects to their working in factories. When the Post and Telegraph Bill was before us he did not propose, when we dealt with postal contracts, to provide that no women should be employed in the factories making our goods. I know what field work is, and I say positively, as one who has taken part in both field and factory labour, that I would rather see a female relative of mine engaged in field work than - in some kinds of - factory work, both from the moral and physical point of view. But this amendment is not moved altogether with tho view of studying the interests of women. I am associated with a party which, if it stands for anything at all, stands for the abolition of sweating and the protection of women and children in the industrial sphere. But I have no hesitation in condemning tho present proposal, although, as I have already said, if I were in a State Parliament that was dealing with industrial conditions, I should be prepared i to make it a general rule, not to prevent the employment of women in outdoor work, but to regulate their hours and conditions of I labour. But the honorable senator does not : propose to do that. He proposes to inter- - fere neither with tho rates of pay, hours.df I labour, nor conditions of work: He merely declares that women shall be prohibited from working. As to children, I would observe that when a boy reaches the age of sixteen, the best thing that can happen for’ him is that he shall be put to work. If some boys who are now running round our streets were working in the fields, it would be better both for them and for Australia. The honorable senator is not acting in the best interests of the boys of this country when he says that when they reach the age of eighteen they should not be allowed to work in the fields. My honorable friend, Senator Dawson, worked as a boy in the fields of Queensland, and does not seem to be any the worse for it. I have met scores of Queenslanders who come from the torrid regions and who have been engaged both in field and in mining work. From the physical point’ of view they compare very favorably with other Australians. I look upon this as a piece of mock heroics - as an attempt to pose as the defender of women and children on the part of one who has never shown himself to be a supporter of any practical proposal of the kind.
Bill presented (by Senator Drake) and read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030626_senate_1_14/>.