1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Postmaster-
General upon notice -
– The Minister for Home Affairs has furnished me with the following information : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
It will be necessary for me, in debating this motion, to ascertain who the Governor of “Victoria is, and what are his functions. To do so I must briefly consider the position of His Majesty the King; and to determine the powers of the King it will be necessary to review certain events which have created the position which he now occupies. Prior to the great revolution of 1688, the King ruled by virtue of his prerogative. He selected his own Ministers without reference to Parliament, and originated his own policy. That method of Government led to frequent altercations and disputes, which were sometimes settled only by an appeal to the sword. The assumption of power by certain kings prior to the revolution was extraordinary. Take, for example, the conduct of King Henry “VIII., who sent one of his Ministers to the Commons with a Bill asking for an enormous subsidy. When the Commons demurred at passing it, he sent for Montague, one of the politicians of the day who possessed considerable influence, and said to him - “ Ho, man ! They will not suffer my Bill to pass. Get that Bill passed by to-morrow, or to-morrow your head will be cut off.” Strange to say, the threat was effective, and the Bill was passed. Then take the case of Charles I. He told a Parliament that Parliaments were in his power, and were to continue so long as he thought they were doing right, but that when he thought that they were doing wrong he would dismiss them. He dismissed his third Pariliament with an announcement of his intention of never calling Parliament together again. He did not summon another Parliament for eleven years, and when he did call it together, he permitted it to exist for only three weeks before dissolving it. The people cut off his head. King J ames II. also assumed arbitrary power in a number pf directions - levying taxes without consulting Parliament, interfering with the religious liberties of the people, dispensing with the penal laws, discharging public servants who were not of his own faith and appointing others who were - and the people of England would probably have cut off his head had he not run away ; or they might have imprisoned him in the Tower, as they did Richard II. for a similar assumption of authority. When King James II. abdicated, the people of England elected William and Mary, but in handing the sceptre to those monarchs they demanded that they should signify their assent to “the undoubted privileges and liberties of the people of England.” It was from their declaration that we get the words which I desired to have placed in the standing orders - “the undoubted rights and privileges of Parliament.” The revolution of 1688 was the first great epoch at which certain constitutional restrictions and limitations were placed upon the power of the Crown. Personal rule by the King then gave way to government by the people. The King acts now only upon the advice of his Ministers, who are responsible to Parliament, while Parliament in its turn is responsible to the people. The King reigns, but no longer governs. All public utterances made by him must be made only at the direction and request of Ministers. Thus we have the late Queen Victoria writing to Napoleon III, describing the difference between the English and French forms of government in these terms -
I am bound by certain rules and usages. I have no uncontrolled power of decision. I must adopt the advice of the council of responsible Ministers, and these Ministers have to meet, and to agree on a course of action after having arrived at a joint conviction of its justice and utility.
The late Queen never made a public utterance on any question of public policy, and King Edward VII. has been, if possible, even more careful than his illustrious mother. Honorable members may have read quite recently an incident related by Bishop Stone Wigg, of New Guinea, who, upon his arrival from the old country, gave an account of an interview whichhe had had with the King. Before leaving he asked His Majesty to say a few words to his New Guinea subjects, but the Bishop instances, “as an evidence of the King’s tact, that he would not do so without first bringing the matter before the Cabinet. He would not undertake to say a few words, good, bad, or indifferent, to his Papuan subjects until he was instructed to do so by his Ministers. The Governor is the King’s representative in the State of Victoria.
-What has the Government of Victoria to dowith the Com mon weal th ?
– I am thankful to the honorable senator for his interjection, because I imagine that the ground suggested by his question will be taken by those who are opposed to this motion, or, indeed, to any motion condemnatory of the action of Sir George Sydenham Clarke. Todd, a wellknown constitutional authority, says -
The position of a Governor in a colony possessing representative institutions, with responsible government, is that of a local constitutional sovereign. Whatever other powers may be conferred upon him by the law in the particular colony, he is, by virtue of his commission and instructions from the Crown, the representative of the King. . . . He has responsible Ministers, who advise him upon all acts of executive government and in all legislative matters.
Mr. Herman Merivale, when permanent Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, said -
A colonial Governor is a constitutional sovereign acting through his advisers.
Sir William Fox said
The position of Governors in self-governing colonies is now analogous to that of the King of England.
A Governor must manifest no political bias. Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, when Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote to Sir George Bowen, then Governor of Queensland -
Remember that the first care of a Governor in a free colony is to shun the reproach of being a party man.
Now we have to ascertain whether Sir George Sydenham Clarke has unwarrantably interfered in Federal politics, and whether his action discloses an inadequate knowledge of his duties as a Governor. There can be no question as to the authority of the Federal Parliament to deal with naval defence. That is set forth in the Constitution. We next have to consider whether the question is controversial. Are the people of the Commonwealth unanimous as to the policy to be pursued with regard to naval defence? I say they are not, but that there is considerable difference of opinion. The people are divided into three groups, each supporting a distinct proposal. The first scheme provides for an increased subsidy without control by Parliament over the Australian squadron, the second for an increased subsidy with control by Parliament, and the third for the establishment of an Australian navy manned by Australians. I propose to briefly indicate the views of the three groups I have mentioned, as outlined by the speeches of gentlemen who occupy prominent public positions in Australia. Sir John Forrest, who supports the first proposal, says -
The ideaof creating and maintaining an Australian fleet, whilst very satisfying from a sentimental stand- point, is not one that we need seriously entertain just now. By assisting the mother country in our naval defence, we can get a far better measure of protection at an infinitely less cost than we could derive from the creation of a navy of our own. . . I hold that it will pay us to approve of the agreement into which the Prime Minister has entered.
Thatagreement, of course, providesforthepayment of an increased subsidy, withoutcontrol by this Parliament of the squadron or of the expenditure upon it. The Bight Honorable G. H. Reid, the leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, supports the second proposal, and expresses himself as follows : -
Regarding the action of the Ministers with respect to naval defence, he did not agree with the excision of the provision in the existing agreement which would destroy the distinctive character of the naval squadron. Unless there was some control over this fleet, what was the use of culling it an Australian squadron. It would be j infinitely better to pay the .t’200,000 into the ( Imperial Treasury. ^
Those who belong to the third group , express themselves in language similar to i that used by Senator Symon. In his view . we, the free people of Australia, ought to pay no subsidy or tribute towards an . expenditure or in a direction in which we have no voice. He says -
Australia is simply a naval base for the British -fleet. Why should we pay 200,000 sovereigns a your in order to preserve- if that were necessary - this naval base, which must be preserved as a naval base for the British fleet in any event? . . . Our share of the responsibilities of defending the Empire is best mot, in my judgment, by our defending ourselves and our own shores….. People say “ Oh, wo cannot afford an Australian navy.” We do not want a navy, in the sense of wanting a fleet for aggression - a navy to patrol the seas, or to go to the North Pacific, oi- to the Indian Ocean, or the China Seas, but we want a navy to defend our own -shores and our own ports. We require our coastal and our harbor defences, and we want a navy manned by Australians and under Australian control.
The opinion of the labour party is best expressed by the motion moved by Senator Pearce at the Australian Labour Political Conference held in Sydney last December, when representatives were present from New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. The resolution was as follows : -
That this Conference opposes the proposal for an increased subsidy to the Imperial Government for the maintenance of an Imperial squadron, and considers that any money available for naval defence should be used in the formation of a navy that would be owned and controlled by the Commonwealth.
Members of Parliament, the newspapers of the Commonwealth, and those citizens who take an interest in the subject, have ranged themselves with one or other of the three groups mentioned. Therefore the question is certainly controversial, and when the time comes for us to consider the proposed new naval agreement considerable heat will, ho doubt, be displayed, and considerable bitterness may be engendered. Regarding the terms of my motion, let me say that I framed it on the morning that I read the Argus report of Sir George Sydenham Clarke’s lecture. I had the feeling which runs -through the minds of many people in this Commonwealth that the appointment of so many military and naval Governors in Australia formed part of a deep design of the Colonialoffice to in some way take from us our freedom and independence, and compel us to pay taxation without any representation - an idea utterly repugnant to a free and independent people. Let us look at the following list of vice-regal gentlemen, and see whether there is any reason for such a suspicion : -
New South Wales : Vice-Admiral Sir Harry H. Rawson, K.C.B. Victoria : Sir George Sydenham Clarke, B.E., K.C.M.G. Queensland : Major-General Sir Herbert Charles Chermside, R.K., G.C.M.G., CB. Tasmania : Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock, G.C.S.I., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E. West Australia : Admiral Sir Frederick George ‘ Denham Bedford, G.C.B.
What could have been the object of the Colonial-office in appointing these naval and military Governors?
– Certainly not the unworthy motive imputed by the honorable senator.
– That remains to be proved. I know that the honorable and learned senator is in close touch with the Colonial-office, or, at least, would like to be, and that he is no doubt qualified to express an opinion on the subject. However, the action of the Colonial-office, in departing from the usual practice, and appointing naval and military Governors, to my mind, . affords those of us who take an interest in these matters every reason to suspect their motives, and I look upon these gentlemen as emissaries sent amongst us for a certain purpose. .1 regard them as a kind of glorified vice-regal commercial traveller - if I may use that term without offence to Senator Dobson.
– I would remind the honorable senator that one of our standing orders provides that we must not speak disrespectfully of the Governor. I am not quite clear that that would directly apply to Governors of the States, but I think we should be’ observing the spirit of the order if we regarded them as being included. I, therefore, ask the honorable senator to refrain from using any terms that might be construed as> wanting in proper respect.
– I prostrate myself before the standing orders, and withdraw the expression, substituting for it the word ! “ propagandists.” The States Governors appear to me to be propagandists sent out here with an object. The majority of them i have been perfectly satisfied to conduct their missions privately, but Governor Sir George Sydenham Clarke has made the mistake of prosecuting his publicly. In order to ascertain the hidden meaning of. his very able and eloquent address it is necessary, to read it together with the’ speeches of Mr. Chamberlain, the speech delivered by Lord Selborne, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the memorandum on “ Sea Power “ prepared by the British Admiralty, and the letter written by Sir John Forrest, Minister for Defence, to Sir Edmund Barton, the Prime Minister, on the 15th March, 1902, a letter which, although written by a right honorable, gentleman who describes himself as a man of peace and not a military expert, discloses the hand of some of the agents of the Colonial-office.
– Could the honorable senator state when Mr. Chamberlain delivered the speech to which he refers 1
– Yes ; it is to be found at page 2 of the summary of the proceedings of the Colonial Conference held in London from June to August, 1902. I submit that Sir George Sydenham Clarke’s lecture was a very able and elaborate paraphrase of the memorandum on “ Sea Power “ prepared by the British Admiralty, and that it coincided in the most striking manner with the general plan of the speeches delivered by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Selborne. If honorable senators will, turn to page 2 of the summary to which I have referred, they will find that Mr. Chamberlain is there reported to have said -
In the ease of the United Kingdom the cost of our armaments has enormously increased since 1S97. That increase is not entirely due to our initiative, but is forced upon us 03’ the action of -other powers who have made great advances, especially in connexion with the navy, which we have found it to be our duty and necessity to equal.
He then refers to the increase in British military and naval expenditure, setting out that it represents 29s. 3d. per head of the population of the United Kingdom, and he also states the amount per head of the naval contribution of the colonies. He further adds -
No one, I think, will maintain that this is a fair distribution of the burdens of empire.
He declared that to allow the mother country to bear the whole, or nearly the whole, of the expenditure upon the navy, was inconsistent with the position of the self-governing colonies. He referred to the trade of the Empire, and the extent to which the self-governing colonies were interested in it. Mr. Chamberlain continued -
I would point out to you that in the clash of nations you have hitherto derived great advantage from a purely material stand-point, from, being a part of a great Empire.
He said that he would circulate papers setting forth the views of the War-office’ and the Admiralty in this connexion.. Lord -Selborne, as will be seen on reference to page 14 of the summary, thus expressed himself -
The real problem which the Empire lias to face in the case of a naval war is simply and absolutely to find out where the ships of the enemy are, to concentrate the greatest possible force; where those ships are, and to destroy those ships.
He further declared -
There can be no local allocation of ships toprotect the mouth of the Thames, to protect Liverpool, to protect Sydney, to protect Halifax.. If we make any attempt of the kind, we shall, only be inviting disaster. The principles which are laid down, and on which I wish to lay great emphasis, are that in time of war this Australasian squadron must be available to fight the opponents, the attackers of the Empire, in whatever part of the eastern seas their ships are to befound.
– Those remarks were made after the delivery of the lecture by Sir George Clarke.
– If the honorable senator will refer to page 14 of the summary of. the proceedings of the Colonial Conference of last year, he will see that his statement is inaccurate.
– I saw a similar telegram the other day.
– Lord Selborne continued -
The Australian Governments pay us a certain, contribution ; for this contribution we supply them with a certain article. Now this is good so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough.
Now the only difference between the speechof the first Lord of the Admiralty, and that of the Governor of Victoria, lies in the fact that Sir George Sydenham Clarke’s is themore eloquent, and does not contain any reference to Australia’s naval contribution. A<< a gentleman aptly remarked the otherday, the lecturer was like the beggar at thecorner of a street, who. does not ask for alms, but holds out his hand. Let us for a moment consider the memorandum on “ Sea Power,.” and the principles involved in it. It deals with the importance of securing command of the sea, points to historical failures on the part of nations. through neglecting their naval power, and quotes historical successes by other nations which have adopted an opposite policy. It says -
The command of the sea is determined by the result of great battles at sea….. those which led up to the defeat of the Armada, and those between the Dutch and English in the seventeenth century. … It is immaterial where the great battle is fought, but wherever it may take place the result will be felt throughout the world.
I invite honorable senators to read Sir George Clarke’s lecture, and to observe that it contains reference to these very matters, only that it refers to them in a more eloquent way. The Governor’s lecture traced the determining causes of the greatness of nations. England’s greatness, he said, was undoubtedly due to the development of maritime power. He traced its naval history for some hundreds of years, referred to the Norman conquest, the fight between England and Spain, the Dutch wars, the naval battles with France, and the American revolution. The conclusion which he drew from his reading of history was that the best way to protect British commerce was by maintaining command of the sea. That command, he pointed out, could be retained only by being in a position to conduct an offensive campaign against an enemy’s squadron. He quoted the state of the British over-sea trade, and also that of Australia. Looking back over a period of 650 years between the Roman invasion and the Norman Conquest, he traced the dominant influence of the naval force, and quoted two poets in support of his view - an anonymous one in the fifteenth century, and the poet Campbell who wrote in 1790.
– Is that matter relevant to the honorable senator’s motion 1
– I will show that it is. Governor Clarke said that “ both of these poets struck a true note and formulated the principles of a sound national policy, which was infinitely more important to us than it was to the people of their day.” A sound national policy of what 1 Of naval defence.
– Is there any doubt about that being a sound national policy 1
– I say it is a controversial question, and the very fact that Governor Clarke ventured to quote authorities in support of what he termed “ a sound national policy,” shows that he was interfering in Federal politics. I am not discussing the question of whether or not that policy is sound, but I am questioning the right of the Governor of Victoria to go upon a public platform a few weeks before the Prime Minister laid upon the table of Parliament the proposed new naval agreement, and deliver a lecture upon naval defence. He may call the title of that lecture what he chooses, but that does not alter the character of the address any more than the cover of a book determines its contents.
– The honorable senator is getting off the track now.
– Hear, hear.
– I must really ask Senator Dobson to remain silent whilst I am addressing the Chamber, otherwise I shall have to tell him that I was never arrested and lodged in durance vile for slandering Members of Parliament. The’ records of Tasmania will show honorable members what I mean. As for Senator Fraser, I find that a certain Simon Fraser had his head chopped off in the eighteenth century I have already made certain quotations for the purpose of showing the striking resemblance which exists between Governor Clarke’s lecture and the speeches delivered by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Selborne, together with the memorandum on “ Sea Power,” which was prepared for the purpose of inducing the Colonial Premiers to agree to the payment of an increased naval subsidy. “Undoubtedly that was the object - there could have been no other. “When, therefore, Governor Clarke relates certain historical incidents in a most eloquent way, I hold that he is voicing the views of the British “War-office, and that he has no right to do so. “Upon page 1 of his printed lecture I find the following : -
In the first place, the rival navies - like the armies of to-day - are maintained in a state of efficiency and preparation for war unknown in the post. In the second place, the British stake at sea has enormously increased since the period of the great naval conflcts. In 1S15 the annual value of the sea-borne trade of Great Britain was about £96,000,000 ; considerably less than that of Australia alone to-day ; and the gross annual value of the commerce of the Empire, and of the shipping which carries it, cannot now be less than £1,600,000,000. It is almost impossible to realize what such figures mean ; but it cun safely be asserted that the Empire depends absolutely on seaborne commerce, in which, directly or indirectly, every citizen is interested, that the loss of this commerce, as the result of our being overpowered on the seas would bring ruin and disruption, and that the guardianship of our means of existence and our hope for the future depends wholly I upon the efficiency and sufficiency of His
Majesty’s navy. Australians who live apparently secure in this Southern Ocean, and who are naturally much engrossed in their local problems, may easily come to forget the force to which they owe alike their territorial integrity, their progress, and their prospects of future development. Averages are apt to be misleading ; but it is a fact that per head of population Australians have a larger stake in sea-borne trade than the people of the mother country.
I ask Senator Dobson if he does not think that the statement “ that our hope for the future depends wholly “ on the navy is a romantic and exaggerated one?
– The expression of such a belief is not an interference in Federal politics.
– The honorable and learned senator will have an opportunity of addressing the Senate whenI have finished. On page 10 Sir George Clarke says-
Since the mighty contest which gave Australians undisputed and secure possession of the fine resources of this great continent, at a cost of tens of thousands of gallant lives, and an addition of more than £620,000,000 to the debt of the mother country, there have been striking changes in the material of navies, and in the distribution of naval force.
An Honorable Senator. - How does the lecturer make out that the cost is so much ?
– That is the clever way in which Sir George Clarke appeals to Australians to vote for the increased subsidy. The lecture proceeds -
Since the mighty contest which gave Australia undisputed and secure possession of the fine resources of this great continent, at a cost of tens of thousands of gallant lives, and an addition of more than £620,000,000 to the debt of.the mother country, there have been striking changes in the material of navies, and in the distribution of naval forces. Steam and steel have replaced the sails and the oak which our great admirals handled with consummate effect. The navies of Spain and Holland - formerly important factors - have shrunk to small dimensions, and three new fleets - those of Italy, Germany, and Japan - have come into evidence. In battle-ships France still stands second to Britain, but with less than half the force, and is followed in order by Germany, Russia, Italy, the United States, and Japan. It is probable that within a few years the United States will stand next to France. In cruisers built and building the order is the same, except that the United States stands above Russia. Great Britain has a distinct superiority in battle-ships and in cruisers over the two next powers. In first-class battle-ships completed we shall next year be equal to any three powers. Our total naval expenditure is now nearly equal to that of France, Russia, and Germany combined, and we can build war ships more quickly and more cheaply than any of these powers. The important alliance with Japan would in certain contingencies bring seven battle-ships and 33 cruisers all concentrated in the China seas into line with the British navy, and no European fleet is more efficient in proportion to its numbers, or manned by better fighting men, than that of Japan. A feverish naval competition still continues, and is most marked in the case of Germany and the United States, while-
I ask honorable senators to notice this - - Japan has lately had the patriotism to lift her navy out of the sphere of party politics. France has of late slackened somewhat in building battleships especially, but it is now building six of the first-class. Russia continues to steadily increase her battle-ships and protective cruisers. I consider that our present position is satisfactory. Both absolutely and relatively to probable enemies the British navy has never been so strong, or so efficient in peace time, as it now is, but this result has been attained only in recent years, and by strenuous efforts. During last century there were periods of dangerous weakness.
Do we not see here some exaggerated conclusions? For example, Sir George Clarke says that Japan - a nation which has emerged from feudalism only during the last 30 years or so - is equal to civilized nations like Germany, Italy, and France - that members of the Japanese navy are equal to members of the French, German, or Italian navy. Is there no exaggeration in a conclusion of that sort? I am willing to give the Japanese every credit for their attempt to reach the standard of European civilization ; but they have not yet reached that standard. No one with any knowledge of the subject can say that the Japanese army or navy can be compared with the army or navy of any one of the three great nations I have mentioned. Sir George Clarke, it will be observed, says -
Japan has lately had the patriotism to lift her navy out of the sphere of party politics.
Why was that said by Sir George Clarke? Can honorable senators not see in these words a suggestion that those members of the Federal Parliament who are disposed to take advantage of Sir Edmund Barton’s action, and submit a motion which might have the effect of ousting him and his Government, should not make this matter a question of party politics at the present time? If honorable members do not in these words see a hint in that direction, they must belong to that class of people who have eyes but refuse to see. Sir George continues -
We had ignored the plain lessons of our history. We lived upon the prestige of the past, and we courted disaster. There can be little doubt that our marked efforts since 1889 to build up the navy have stimulated a competition which would not have become so acute if we had maintained a consistent policy. Our naval estimates have been doubled, and their present amount - more than £34,000,000, exclusive of India and the coloniesmust throw a strain upon our resources, especially as we have not yet adapted our military organization to our real requirements, and our normal army expenditure has mounted up to more than £27,500,000, not including the cost of over 70,000 regular troops in India. In view of these enormous figures, I think you will agree that the mother country is fully alive to her vast responsibilities and is making splendid efforts to maintain that supremacy ut sea which is the surest guarantee of peace, and which in war is the only means of guarding the commerce upon which the Empire, and most especially Australia, absolutely depends.
It will be noticed that Sir George Clarke refers to the “ strain on our resources.” Why does he thus refer to the strain on the resources of the British people t What is his object ? Is it not to induce the people of Australia to vote the increased subsidy? Sir George Clarke speaks of the “splendid efforts to maintain supremacy at sea,” and goes on to say that these enormous sums were spent for guarding the commerce on which Australia “absolutely depends.” It will be observed that the eloquent lecturer emphasizes, in the first place, the necessity for keeping command of the sea ; then he goes on to say that this involves a strain on the resources of England, and that we in Australia absolutely depend for our future prospects and prosperity on the maintenance of this state of efficiency of the British navy.
– The point is - Is it true ?
– I ask honorable senators whether it is true ?
– I should think the matter is not controversial.
– -Not controversial ! Ask the coal miners of Newcastle, of Gippsland, and of Queensland whether the statement is true. Ask the wheat farmers ofSouth Australia and the cane-growers’ of Queensland whether it is true. Ask the farmers throughout the Commonwealth whether it is true. Do our shearers, labourers, and working squatters do nothing in the interests of the future prosperity of the Commonwealth ?
– Do not the vast army of industrial workers right throughout the Commonwealth do something ?’ Is it not a fact that, if the whole of the nations of the earth except Australia were sunk below the sea to-morrow, the people of the Commonwealth have everything on this continent to enable them to live comfortable and happy lives 1 If that be so, surely it is an exaggeration to tell the people of Australia that they are dependent on the £34,000,000 which is expended in keeping the British Navy at its present standard. Sir George Clarke said that the action of the British War Department in increasing its navy had stimulated competition. Is the wisdom of such a policy not open to question - is it not controversial ? When the Boer War broke out the people of England became alarmed lest some nation at enmity would take advantage of the presence of some 250,000 troops in South Africa, and strike a blow at the British Empire. It was then that the British Navy was increased, and other Powers - just as suspicious of England as England is of them - commenced to expend more money on battle-ships. Sir George Clarke truly said that the action of England stimulated competition. And because those nations followed the British example in 1889, the War Department at home, for some reason or other, after the Boer War was over, came forward with a further proposal to increase the naval expenditure from £31,255,000 last year to £34,450,000 this year - an increase which, I understand, almost dismayed the editor of the Naval Annual, the Hon. T. A. Brassey. I may say that I tried to get a copy of the Naval Annual from the Library in order to see exactly what the editor had said, but I found that some one had removed the book without telling the Librarian - conduct which I think is reprehensible. Surely honorable senators must see that what Sir George Clarke describes as the wisdom of the British policy is open to controversy ?’ . There is a strong feeling in England that this increased expenditure is unnecessary. Where is the expenditure going to end if, every time Prance or Germany builds a new battle-ship, England ‘ must follow the example? The burden of militarism is at the present time weighing down the world.
– That is quite irrelevant - it has nothing to do with the motion.
– Senator Dobson can see points clearly enough when he wishes but he is so overcome by the reflected glory which he enjoys as a senator - reflected f rom the Colonial-office, I suppose - and by the glory which is emitted by those in high positions, that he will not see that the lecture, however eloquent - indeed, eloquence only made it the more dangerous - is an incursion into the field of Federal politics. I shall not quote the lecture further, but briefly show that Sir George Clarke, in dealing with the question of local defence, said that if we confined our squadrons to* our own station we should be “playing the enemy’s game.” Surely that is a controversial statement?
– It is quite true.
– Senator Sir Josiah Symon is of opinion that we ought to have local defence - that we ought to keep our ships in Australian waters; but Sir George Clarke says that to do so would be to “play the enemy’s game.” What right has Sir George Clarke to say that?
– If his Ministers do not mind, why should Sir George Clarke not make such a statement 1 The State Governor is responsible to his Ministers and not to us.
– He is responsible to us also.
– Sir George Clarke in his lecture mentioned everything that could possibly be placed in a prominent light about the assistance given by the old country to Australia, but he said nothing of what Australia is doing in the interests of the mother country. He never said a word about the money spent by Australia in the building and fortifying of harbors, in the fortifying of coaling stations,’ and in providing bases for British war-ships. In my opinion, the lecture was a one-sided appeal, or otherwise some mention would have been made of this Australian expenditure.
– The lecture was on “ The Navy and the” Nation,” not on “ The Navy and the Commonwealth.”
– The only reference to local defences was one in which the latter were ridiculed by the lecturer. The proof of that lies here.
– On what page 1
– On page 5 Sir George Clarke says -
In the following year (1667) Charles II. laid up bis main fleet in order to save expense, and restricted his aims to commerce destroying. The result was that the Dutch squadron sailed up the Thames and Medway, and this disgraceful episode has frequently been used as an argument for excessive local defences, instead of being treated as a warning for all time of the danger necessarily attending the policy of Charles II.
This argument, that the Dutch at one time were able to go up the Thames, is used by those of us who believe in local defence. Sir George Clarke says that we have no right to use it as an argument. He certainly employs the word “excessive,” but the average reader would read his remarks in a general way, as referring adversely to the value of local defences. The Governor of Victoria concluded the first portion of his lecture by saying -
I hope I ha ve not wearied you by attempting to give a bird’s-eye view of naval history” during a thousand years. There is no other history which is comparable in brilliancy, and I strongly hold that no one who does not know its broad outlines is fit to help to govern our Empire.
The members of the various Legislatures govern the Empire. They make the laws in the interests of the people. They are responsible to the people. Governor Clarke comes here and tells us that men who do not know the broad outlines of naval history are not fit to help to govern the Empire. We all know that some members of the Federal Parliament do not know those broad outlines. That is admitted. But admitting so much, is it the province of Governor Clarke to come to Australia and tell us that these men, because they do not possess that knowledge, are not fit to help to govern Australia?
– It is only his opinion.
– Certainly it is only his opinion, but I object to Governor Clarke, with all the influence which his position gives to him, coming here and taking a side in that way.
– If the Victorians do not object, why should the honorable senator ?
– Because this is not a Victorian matter ; it is a Federal matter.
– That is the question.
– Sir George Clarke is responsible- to his own Executive.
– The Governor of Victoria is just as much the King’s representative as is Governor-General Tennyson. Both are representatives of the King. Is it to be permitted that a State Governor may come here and use his influence as a Governor - because he cannot dissociate himself from his position - in the interest of any particular party in politics ? I cannot “see eye to eye with those honorable senators who think that, because Governor Clarke is not Governor-General of the Commonwealth, he has a right to take part in Federal politics. Some may think that he is in the same position as a Minister of the Crown in a State. A State Minister certainly has every right to criticise our actions, but a Minister is a citizen and a voter. Governor Clarke is not in the same position. He is there as an umpire.
– Suppose his Ministers approve of every word, of his- lecture - what then 1
– T think that if we Victorians are satisfied others need not interfere.
– Judging from certain events some Victorians appear to be satisfied very easily. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that Victorians will have a voice in deciding the question at issue - whether Sir Edmund Barton was right or not in signing the naval agreement. There are in Victoria at the present time members of the Federal Parliament, and an attempt appears to have been made to influence them. To show that this was a controversial lecture, let me point out that at the end of it Senator Fraser, who believes in the naval subsidy, and supports it, rose and said-
– How does the honorable senator know that I support it ?
– Does the honorable senator challenge the Argus report 1
Senatos Fraser. - No, I do not : nor the Age report, either.
– In the Argus of 11th June, Senator Fraser is reported as seconding a vote of thanks to the chairman, and as saying that -
The lecture would be of great advantage to the people of Australia at the present moment.
Senator HIGGS. Whyat the present moment? Because the people were considering the question of the subsidy, and the people would be inclined to vote in accordance with the views expressed by the lecturer. The Argus, in a leading article on the same day, says -
The very able paper read by His Excellency Sir George Clarke last night clinches the advice lately given by Admiral Fremantle to colonial politicians.
I resent Sir George Clarke, or any other Governor, coming here and giving advice to colonial politicians. The King himself would not think of doing it.
– Senator Stewart was resenting our climate yesterday, and now Senator Higgs is resenting our Governor.
– Some persons may be inclined to the opinion that the Argus report of Sir George Clarke’s lecture was not a fair one. I have read that report, and have also read the full text of the lecture. I am of opinion that any reporter who knew his work could not have produced any other condensed report of the lecture than that which appeared in the Argus columns. Sir John Forrest supplied the omission from the Governor’s lecture. He came forward to second a vote of thanks, and said -
Now that Australia had got away from the apron strings of the old country it should do all in its power and not leave our kindred of the old country to do everything…… The people here, he believed, did not think this protection of Australian trade and commerce should be paid for altogether by the taxpayers of the mother country, and that if they could not contribute in equal degree yet they should do something to show that they would stand shoulder with the mother land.
– Sir John Forrest has always said that.
– Certainly he has, and does not the honorable and learned senator, who comes from a State where they have always been jealous of the rights and privileges of Parliament, recognise the desirability of preventing Governors from using words which might probably have the effect of preventing the Senate and the House of Representatives from doing what they think ought to be done in a matter of this kind 1 Some people consider that if we do not ratify the agreement signed by Sir Edmund Barton we shall be inflicting a censure upon him and his Government. Senator Cameron said so when moving the address in reply. I do not take that view. Sir Edmund Barton, before he went to England, said that in regard to important matters -
I shall not bind the Commonwealth ; anything I do will be subject to ratification by Parliament.
– We got the same assurance in the Senate.
– I agree with the honorable senator entirely in that.
- Sir Edmund Barton could not possibly bind this Parliament ; but if honorable senators take the view that, once Sir Edmund Barton or any other Prime Minister signs an agreement, it will be a reflection upon him if we do not ratify it, it means that the Prime Minister has it in his power to bind the Parliament. Sir John Forrest is a man of great courage. No one who knows that gentleman can accuse him of being anything but a manly man. But I say that Sir John Forrest, perhaps unconsciously, did an undignified thing in sheltering himself and his Government behind the Vice-Regal skirts, as it were, as he attempted to do after that lecture when he made the speech appealing to us in so many words to agree to the increased naval subsidy. There is another gentleman about whom I should like to say a passing word or two. That is Sir John Madden, who acts as Lieutenant-Governor of this State, and is also the Chief Justice.
– A grand man.
– In his own sphere, no doubt. But Sir John Madden, as Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of this State, should not take part in party politics. He seems to have lost sight of his position, and to have come forward to condemn what he calls “ the vice of democracy.” He says that this “ vice of democracy “ is due to a want of knowledge of what to do, and that, therefore, we ought to -
Bow to the men of trained knowledge and experience, who all agreed with His Excellency as to the course which should be adopted.
This gentleman is a very clever fellow. He is prepared to give a pronouncement upon any subject. But there is a prevailing opinion in Victoria that if he would give more attention to law, and a little less attention to extraneous subjects, he would not deliver so many judgments which are challenged and upset on appeal.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask - is it strictly in order for an honorable senator to make reflections upon the Chief Justice of the State of Victoria in regard to his judicial capacity ?
– Why not?
– It is certainly against all the practice of Parliament.
– Is it in good taste ?
– I do not think there is any standing order which would actually prevent a reference of this nature ; but the practice certainly is not to make comments upon any Judge in his judicial capacity unless on a motion to remove that Judge from the Bench. Of course from the very necessity of the case comments’ must be made on a Judge’s conduct as a Judge under such circumstances. But in relation to other matters I do not think that such remarks ought to be made ; although I am bound to say that there is no specific standing order dealing with the question.
SenatorSir John Downer.- May I suggest, though, that as Senator Higgs’ remarks are quite irrelevant to the motion, that may be a reason why they should not be made?
– I think they are irrelevant. The conduct of the Chief Justice of Victoria is not quite relevant to the motion before the Senate. Reflections upon a Judge in his judicial capacity are not relevant to the question of a lecture delivered by the Governor of Victoria.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and will only say very briefly and in passing that what I have referred to shows the very great necessity for prominent people who occupy such positions keeping out of politics. If they refer to us as vicious - if they refer to the “ vice of democracy “ - we must certainly be allowed to criticise their utterances.
– Not to criticise their judicial conduct ; that is the point.
– We have been extremely jealous in the various States in regard to interference by State Governors in our politics. In Queensland, when Governors have made speeches on questions of public policy, the matter has at once been brought before the Legislature, and motions have been submitted dealing with them. In South Australia, there are two instances which I am going to mention. One concerns Sir William Robinson.
SenatorFraser. - The honorable senator has taken a great deal of pains over the matter.
– I have, certainly ; because “ the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” The great troubles which arose in England - troubles which necessitated the cutting off of Kings’ heads - were occasioned because the people forgot their undoubted rights and privileges, ‘ and allowed those gentlemen to go too far. The time will probably never come when itwill be necessary for us to resort to violent measures ; but we have to be constantly on guard in order that our privileges may not be encroached upon, and that the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth may be secured. There is no question of violence involved. Some time ago Sir William Robinson, who was then Governor of South Australia, made a speech at a gorden party, to which exception was taken in the State House of Assembly by Senator Symon, then Mr. Symon.
– When was that?
– In 18S5. The report of the incident is to be found at page 1692 -of the South Australian Hansard. The report sets forth that in the House of Assembly on 1st December Mr. Symon said: -
Yesterday there was a great Caledonian gathering at Linden, the residence of the Hon. A. Hay. The gathering was honoured by the presence of His Excellency the Governor, and if His Excellency’s contribution to the proceedings had -ended there, he would have been the last to say one word on the subject. But he noticed that His Excellency plunged into controversial politics, and he wished to express his regret that the representative of Royalty in this colony (and he said it with emphasis and advisedly) should have taken the course he did yesterday, and should have expressed the views and uttered the words . he then did express and utter. It was a deplorable thing. It would bc a deplorable thing in this colony if Her Majesty’s representative should ostentatiously take part in the active politics of this colony. To his mind it lowered the high office which His Excellency held. His Excellency- and he said this with pain - projected himself into the regionof conflict and criticism, and he must not complain if those who had the interests of the country us much at heart as His Excellency, resented an interference which was deeply to be regretted. Ho wished further to say that not merely was it inconsistent with the office His Excellency occupied-
At this stage objection was taken, under the standing orders, to the discussion, and Mr. Symon had to desist. On the following day the question was again brought up in the House of Assembly, and was referred to by Mr. Symon in similar terms. Senator Downer, who was then the Hon. J. W. Downer, and held office as AttorneyGeneral, smoothed matters over as well as he could.
– He is well qualified to do such a thing.
– He’ is, indeed. Mr. Downer said -
He did not believe His Excellency had the smallest intention of influencing the House or the Government, but merely made his remarks from’ a humourous point of view. He understood His Excellency to say that there was recently a probability of a sort of mariage de convenance being arranged between the two colonies, and that as this might possibly not be carried out, through some objection on the part of South Australia, the question might arise whether the fair Victoria would not have a good action for breach of promise.
It was because of the speech made by Mr. Downer that the House ref rained apparently from carrying any motion in regard to the matter.
– It was a trumpery affair.
– I have taken up the time of the Senate to such an extent that I shall not quote from the South Australian Hansard the remarks made during the same debate by Mr. Ward, another ‘ member of the House of Assembly. The language which he employed, however, was quite as strong as that used by Mr. Symon. The next incident of the kind to which I desire to refer is one about which Senator Playford knows something.
– I have more than once had trouble with Governors.
– In 1891, Earl Kintore, who was then Governor of South Australia, published a despatch by him on the coloured labour question, and the State Parliament immediately resented his action. At page 678 of the South Australian Mansard for 1891, it is reported that in the House of Assembly on the 11th August -
Mr. GRAINGER moved “That in the opinion of this House the public expression of Vice-Regal views on debatable politics, unless at the request of responsible Ministers, or of Parliament, is opposed to the best interests of good government.” He merely wished to say he was not desirous - (Mr. Castine - “ You promised not to speak”) - that the resolution should be considered as having any personal application. He only wished to affirm a well-know constitutional principle.
The TREASURER (Hon. T. Playford) said the Government accepted the assurance of Mr. Grainger, but as the motion related to a despatch which the Governor had supplied to the press ho would read an extract from a letter which the Governor had forwarded to him on the subject. The Government agreed with the motion, and His Excellency also agreed with it. The extract he wished to read was as follows - “The Governor would be glad if you would make known to Parliament, in cose any possible doubt exists on the subject, that the publication of a despatch of his on Northern Territory affairs and other matters before he had asked Ministers to present it to Parliament was a pure inadvertence and that such publication must not be taken as an indication of any lessening of the Governor’s desire to show the fullest consideration to Parliament and its members.
The motion was unanimously agreed to.
– If the honorable senator were Mr. Irvine, Premier of Victoria, speaking in the State Parliament, I should be strongly with him.
– I am very glad to have that expression of opinion from Senator Downer. He considers that if we were members of the State Parliament–
– And chose to take this stand we should have a right to do so.
– But defence matters are within our province.
– Can Senator Downer draw such a fine distinction between the position of the Parliament of the Commonwealth and that of the State Parliament of Victoria ? The South Australian House of Assembly was so unanimous in its condemnation of Earl Kintore’s conduct that he hurriedly wrote a letter to the press in regard to the matter, and, in order to let him down as lightly as possible, members agreed merely to carry a resolution without any debate. To my mind that shows that the people of South. Australia had a true conception of the rights and privileges of a Parliament. What happened when Lord Hopetoun, who, I suppose, was the most popular representative of the Crown that we have ever had in Australia, ventured merely to say in public that he shared the responsibility of the Barton Government in hesitating to offer more colonial troops for service in South Africa? The leader of the Opposition in another place at once tabled a motion expressing the hope that the action of the Governor-General would not be taken as a precedent. Another place resented the action taken by Lord Hopetoun on that occasion, and surely if he did wrong in expressing his desire to share the blame, if there was any, with his Ministers, Sir George Clarke, as Governor of Victoria, did wrong in delivering his eloquent address on the question of naval defence.
– He did not take sides.
– That is the extraordinary feature of the position taken up by the . honorable senator. If Sir George Clarke had taken action in favour of a party to which Senator Fraser was opposed, the position would have been different. The honorable senator is so much in earnest in his advocacy of every question that he takes up that he can see only one side to it.
– No, I am often wrong.
– But the honorable senator will not admit that he is wrong in the attitude which he has taken up with regard to the Naval Agreement. I should like to know what Senator Fraser, and others who desire to wreck the Judiciary Bill, would have said if, just prior to the introduction of that measure in another place, Sir George Clarke had delivered a lecture on the judicial system of the United States, in which, without saying one word in regard to the High Court of Australia, he had dealt with a judicial system which favoured the views of the Government-
– He might deliver a lecture on the principles of justice without taking sides.
– Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that, while the question of the transcontinental railway was before this Parliament, the Governor of Western Australia delivered a lecture on the railways of the old country, showing how profitable they were to the general community, and the advantages which they conferred upon England in the way of defence. In that lecture he might make no reference whatever to the transcontinental railway ; but does any one believe that it would not influence the people, of the Commonwealth in favour of the construction of that line, and that the exercise of such an influence -would not be resented at once by those who, like Senator Fraser, believe that the proposal is a wildcat scheme ? Another question which must come before the Senate is that relating to preferential trade. Does any honorable senator fail to see that, if a State Governor delivered a lecture on the advantages of a free-trade policy within the Empire, he would encroach upon the rights and privileges of the Senate ?
– Certainly be would.
– Or if he delivered a lecture on the Customs administration of the old country without making reference to Australian affairs, would not that be taking a part in the politics of the country ?
– Not necessarily.
– If during our ‘ consideration of the Immigration Restriction Bill the Governor of Victoria had delivered a lecture on the Hindoos, their civilisation, and their capacity as fighting subjects of the Empire, do not honorable senators realize that that lecture might have undoubtedly influenced some votes in the Senate as well as in another place? The Governors of the other States who are either naval or military men have wisely refrained from giving public utterance to their views on the naval question. They have been satisfied to conduct their propaganda privately, and apparently they have been very successful in their mission. Certain public men who a year ago were opposed to the naval subsidy are now in favour of it, and certain public journals in New South Wales and other States which formerly urged that we should have an Australianowned navy have now grown silent in regard to the question.
SenatorFraser. - That shows their common sense.
– It is rather the result of the efforts of these influential gentlemen, who have been satisfied to conduct their mission privately. Recently Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Rawson, Governor of New South Wales, visited Grafton in the course of a country tour, and at a reception which was held there in his honour, he is reported in the Sydney MorningHerald, of8th May, to have referred to the question of the naval subsidy. The report is as follows : -
He referred briefly to the naval question, and stilted that but for his tongue being tied by his official position, he would very much have liked to go round the country lecturing in order to explain his idea of what the situation really was.
He was satisfied to do this privately. How comes it, if Vice-Adrniral Rawson’s official tongue is so tied that he could not express his views publicly upon the situation, Sir George Sydenham Clarke may give public utterance in Victoria to his views upon the naval question? I submit that Sir George Sydenham Clarke was wrong. As I have said, I am not wedded to the form of the motion. I wrote it in the heat of the moment;but I have no desire to unnecessarily wound anybody’s feelings. If the Senate will pass a motion similar to that passed in the South Australian Parliament at the time Governor Kintore interfered in State politics, I will be very happy, if some honorable senator will suggest its terms, to give way and allow my motion to be altered in that regard. I wish to assure honorable senators that in bringing this matter forward I am desirous only of protecting the rights and privileges of Parliament, and through Parliament the rights and privileges of the people of the Commonwealth. It will be far better forus, and far better for the State Governors that we should resent any encroachment which may be made. Governor Clarke, or anybody else in a similar position, must recognise that, if he is to be at liberty to give a lecture on naval defence from a public platform, and to use arguments which a political party opposed to his views may consider are not sound, he must be subject to criticism. And I submit that, if he is to be subject to criticism, it will not tend to harmony in the Commonwealth, nor will it tend to strengthen his position. If any member of the Senate on a public platform told me that, in urging that we should protect our Australian coasts ourselves, I was “ playing the enemy’s game,” I should resent it. If I play the enemy’s game I act as a traitor to my country, and I ask whether Governor Clarke or any other man has a right to insinuate that we, who believe in local defence, are acting as traitors to our country ?
SenatorBarrett. - And honestly believe it too.
– Yes, and honestly believe it. If Governor Clarke is to be permitted to use terms like that, some of us may be tempted to call him a traitor to Australia, and I ask would that be in keeping with the dignity of his position, or would it add to that dignity? Would it advance us in the eyes of the community generally if we felt called upon to employ such terms in regard to gentlemen who occupy the exalted position of representatives of His Majesty King Edward ?
– If the Senate were justified in entertaining this motion, we should have reason to congratulate the mover upon his research, and upon the temperate manner in which his address has been delivered. I am prepared to accord Senator Higgs full credit for holding strong opinions, as he evidently does, on this matter. But I should like to point out to him the serious nature of the precedent that he seeks to establish. The very terms of the Federation are that the sovereign States give to the Commonwealth powers in regard to certain specific matters that are set out in the Constitution, the residue remaining in the States themselves. The States themselves are, therefore, sovereign States in regard to all those powers so specifically reserved.
– Or not specifically delegated.
– Or not specifically delegated, which is practically the same thing. According to the scheme of Federation under the Constitution, we. have a Governor-General of the Commonwealth, and the Governor - General, although nominally accountable only to the Imperial Parliament, is at the same time subject to a degree of control by this Parliament, and to the acceptance of the advice of his responsible Ministers. Each State has a Governor also, and that Governor owes no duty and no allegiance, and is in no way accountable, to the Commonwealth. The State Governor owes a duty and relationship to his own State Ministers only. It appears, from what we have heard, that His Excellency the State Governor of Victoria has delivered a lecture. It has not been suggested for one moment that any exception whatever has been taken to anything in that lecture by any of the State Ministers of Victoria, to whom the State Governor is responsible, and who alone have a right to complain if Governor Clarke has exceeded his duties.
– May not the State authorities say that such a matter as defence is not within the province of the State Parliament?
– The State Ministers have a right to an expression of opinion on this subject, and, for that matter the State Governor also. For all we know to the contrary, it is quite consistent with everything that has taken place that the State Governor was acting on the advice of his State Ministers in the statements he made. That may or may not be the case ; but we have this fact, which we cannot get away from : that there has never been any attempt on the part of ‘ the State Ministers to disavow anything which has been said by their Governor. The precedent I am fearful about establishing, as I claim is sought to be done here, is that this Senate should interfere with a State Governor.
– And his advisers.
– And his advisers, indirectly. We may be establishing a precedent for parliamentary recrimination which may act most detrimentally to the Federation, and which will hereafter prove most undignified. We should not feel at all complimented if the State Parliament, in consequence of our action, should by way of strong resentment take some steps calculated to reflect upon the Senate.
– That would kill us.
– Or to reflect upon our own Governor-General. I say that if this precedent be established, it will not conduce to harmony as between the Commonwealth and States, nor will it conduce to the development of the Federal sentiment. We must always bear in mind that we and the States have our own specific duties, powers, and jurisdiction set aside to each of us, and we must be sensitive, I submit, as to any attempt on the part of a State Parliament to encroach upon us, and as to any attempt on our part to encroach upon the province of a State Parliament. In addition, I desire to point out to my honorable friend that the terms his motion are offensive to the people of Victoria.
– God help Victoria!
– They are offensive to the people of Victoria. The State Governor is the representative of the people of Victoria.
Honorable Senators. - No.
– Nominally he is.
– Not even nominally.
– The State Premier is.
– I say that nominally he must be taken to be the representative of the people of Victoria. He acts with the advice of his Ministers, and the people of Victoria have never complained as to anything that has been said by their Governor, nor have they held the State Ministers responsible in connexion with this matter.
– The Governor never said anything about them, or about State matters.
– Quite so ; but, at most, the Governor, so I learn, has been guilty of expressing his opinion as an expert in connexion with defence matters. He has done so most instructively, as well as impartially, and I firmly maintain that, as a citizen and otherwise, he has a perfect right to do so, and that the Federal Parliament has not the least cause for complaint. What I was urging is that indirectly this resolution is a reflection upon the people of Victoria. It is, moreover, a most offensive and wanton reflection upon the State Governor himself, who enjoys the complete and profound confidence of the people of Victoria. The motion says -
This Senate regards the State Governor’s action as an unwarrantable interference in Federal politics, and as disclosing an inadequate knowledge of the duties of a State Governor.
That to my mind is an unfair, unreasonable, and unjust reflection upon a gentleman who, I can assure honorable senators, possesses the esteem and confidence of the people of Victoria.
– Who said that some people were “playing the enemy’s game “1
– I shall come to that if my honorable friend will allow me. I think that Senator Higgs should have refrained from giving offence in the manner I have indicated. I have read the report of the Governor’s lecture with very great care,, and, having before me the terms of the motion, I have not found in it a solitary word or sentence to justify Senator Higg’s reflections upon the lecturer. I do not think that it betrays either partisanship or the remotest political bias. Senator Higgs has informed us that the controversial questions connected with the proposed naval agreement involve three alternate propositions - an increased subsidy to the British Navy without control by Australia, a similar increased subsidy with the exercise of control by Australia, and the creation of an independent Australian Navy. I challenge honorable senators to show me any sentence . in the Governor’s lecture in- advocacy of any one of those aspects of the naval question mentioned, or, for that matter, any sentence which is inconsistent with any one of those propositions. The lecture was so carefully and skilfully worded that it would be impossible for any one to use it to prove that the Governor holds opinions favoring any one of those propositions. Nothing in it gives any hint as to which, if to any of them, he adheres. In my opinion Senator Higgs has strained the wording of the lecture to justify his motion. It purported to be simply an instructive, historical retrospect of the British Navy, and sought to give a cursory view of what has taken place in naval affairs during the last thousand years. Both the Commonwealth and the States are indebted for so valuable a contribution on the subject from such an authority.
– Why was this particular time chosen for the delivery of the lecture 1
– Merely a coincidence, as I shall afterwards prove. Senator Higgs appears to have conceived the existence of some deep design on the part of the Imperial authorities in connexion with the lecture. He has indicated that the Imperial authorities have seen fit of late years to appoint military or naval officers as Governors of the States to menace our independence. But if he traces the development of the Imperial Colonial policy from the time of Lord Durham, in about 1855, until the present day, and takes into consideration the expressions of opinions made by various colonial Ministers during that period, he will find a gradual expansion and growth of colonial powers and liberties resulting in the complete autonomy which we enjoy to-day. It has been the policy of the Imperial Government not to trench upon our independence, but to enlarge our liberties and rights of selfgovernment, so that at the present time only the most nominal control is attempted. Senator Higgs has stated that the lecture was consistent with certain wily schemes conceived by the British Government and promulgated during the sittings of the Imperial Conference between June and August, 1902. The idea is preposterous, and the honorable gentleman can have no authority for such a statement, though he is entitled to his own opinion on the subject. He has quoted in support - but I fail to see their application - certain speeches delivered by Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Selborne, and others, about the time I have mentioned. But his suggestion that the lecture was part of the same design to menace our independence, which started in the appointment of military Governors and which was developed at the Imperial Conference, is confuted by the honorable gentleman’s subsequent statement which was that, with the exception of the Governor of Victoria, the Governors of these States have carefully refrained from any public announcement of their opinions on the subject, and were content with a discreet silence.
– Perhaps the Governor of Victoria has been put up to feel the public pulse.
– The honorable senator should not impute wrong motives. I give it as my opinion that there is not the remotest justification for such a suggestion. I will tell honorable senators why the Governor delivered the lecture. I am a member of the Fitzroy branch of the Australian Natives’ Association, part of whose policy it is to get leading public men from time to time to deliver instructive lectures to their members. In November, 1902, they invited the Governor of Victoria to lecture to them. He indicated that it was inconvenient for him to do so then, but promised to deliver a lecture during the coming winter, and when asked what the title would be, said that he proposed to speak about “The Navy and the Nation.” It is true that between June and August, 1902, a conference was held, at which colonial representatives met the Imperial authorities, but nothing was known of the deliberations of that conference except the barest synopsis telegraphed from time to time to the newspapers here, and I think that in November the Governor of Victoria could not have known the mind of the Imperial authorities upon the subject of the new naval agreement. Therefore, in my opinion there was not the remotest justification for the suggestion that he prepared his lecture with the design of supporting any policy which had been discussed at the conference. The delivery of the lecture was a mere accident or ‘“coincidence. Senator Higgs referred to it as very inopportune, because it took place only a few weeks before a statement was to be made by the prime Minister in regard to the proposed naval agreement; but, as I have shown, there is no connexion between the two things, because the lecture was delivered in pursuance of a promise made last November, and without the remotest knowledge, I should say, of the Prime Minister’s intentions. I am sure that Senator Higgs would not desire to do an injustice to any public or private man, but I think he has been unjust to the Governor of Victoria in suggesting that he has acted in collusion with the Imperial authorities. The honorable senator went through the lecture, and emphasized various passages which he appears to think were of a controversial character, but in regard to which I hold quite a different opinion. One statement to which he objected was this -
In view of these enormous figures, I think you will agree that the mother country is fully alive to her vast responsibilities, and is making splendid efforts to maintain that supremacy at sea, which is the surest guarantee of peace, and which in walds the only means of guarding the commerce upon which the Empire, and most especially Australia absolutely depend.
To my mind, that is an innocent, and at the same time an unanswerable, statement, which is justified by history, and by the naval experience of the world. . Surely it cannot be seriously contended that it is a statement of a controversial character.
– Certainly it is.
– I regard it simply as an expression of the truth that the supremacy of the British Empire depends upon the effective protection of her sea traffic afforded by her navy.
– Britain’s supremacy depends upon her industries. What will be the use of her navy to her if she loses her industries ?
– What would be the use of her industries without food supplies? I fail to see how the statement I have quoted can be held to contain any objectionable reference to the opinions of members of this Parliament. Another passage to which objection was taken was this -
We divide the sea into naval stations for administrative and police purposes in time of peace, proportioning our strength in each to that of possible antagonists, and with a special eye to the bases from which hostile fleets could act. For this reason, the bulk of our force is in home waters and in the Mediterranean, the other great aggregation of ships being in China waters for obvious reasons, and a comparatively small squadron being maintained in the South Pacific. I need hardly say that these arrangements cannot be maintained in war, and that if we confined our squadrons to their stations we should play the enemy’s game.
Surely that cannot be regarded as a reflection upon the people of Australia. His Excellency merely echoed the experience of the highest naval authorities, and pointed out what would be the best course to pursue in time of war. The sentences which I have quoted are those to which the greatest exception has been taken by the honorable senator, and I submit that it is ludicrous to suggest that in the remotest degree they call for any interference on the part of the Senate, or justify the reflection cast upon His Excellency by the motion that -his remarks disclose an inadequate knowledge of the duties of his office. To speak in such a manner of a man of the attainments and experience of Sir George Clarke, who possesses the confidence of the people of Victoria, is unreasonable, and’ I hope that my honorable friend, Senator Higgs, will, on reflection, see the wisdom of withdrawing such an unwarranted imputation. I would again impress upon honorable senators the unwisdom of creating such a serious precedent as that which the honorable senator desires us to establish, and I would again ask them to consider the consequences that are likely to follow. I challenge any honorable senator to dispute my statement that there is not one word in the lecture which could be regarded as inconsistent with either of the three views which have been put forward by Senator Higgs with regard to the naval defence of Australia. On the contrary, His Excellency might very well hold any one of those views without having betrayed his individual opinion through the lecture. I urge, therefore, that the Senate is not justified in entertaining the motion, and I trust that before we have proceeded very far Senator Higgs, who has ventilated his views in an able and capable manner, will see the wisdom of withdrawing it.
– I hope that the motion will not be passed. I not only listened to the lecture delivered by His Excellency Sir George Clarke, but I also read it carefully afterwards, and I contend that it does not contain a single word that could be construed as committing His Excellency to an expression of opinion upon any subject of party politics. I quite agree with the view that neither State Governors nor Federal Governors-General have any right to enter into party politics. I do not know that any of the gentlemen who have been appointed to preside over us in either capacity have given us any great reason to complain. If upon any occasion party politics have been referred to, it has happened through inadvertence and not because of any intention to take up the position of partisans. Senator Higgs mentioned the reference to “ playing the enemy’s game “ by His Excellency, with whose sentiments upon that point I quite agree. If we had a small navy of our own powerful enough to smash an enemy . which appeared on our shores, is it to be supposed for a moment that we should not follow that enemy a few miles away from our coast in order to deliver a final and decisive blow? It would be outrageous to suppose that we should not take the fullest advantage of an enemy wherever he might go. It would be the duty of any navy to do so. If the British navy were not supreme, and did not maintain control of the seas, the whole community in Australia would be insolvent within six months. If we could not get our produce away to the markets of the old world where should we be? If our commerce had been ‘ interrupted recently, when, owing to the abnormal conditions brought about by the drought, we were importing instead of exporting wheat, we should have been reduced to the point of starvation. Under ordinary circumstances, we practically live by the navy, because the defence of the Empire depends entirely upon that branch of our forces. If Great Britain lost the control of the seas she would sink into a position of insignificance at once.
– That point is not in dispute.
– His Excellency Sir George Clarke did not go beyond saying that the supremacy of the British navy was essential to the safety and maintenance of the Empire. He did not pretend to say whether we should have a purely Australian navy or a squadron selected from the. British navy. Perhaps it would be better to have a separate Australian fleet, but I. hold that one navy would be better than two. No doubt, when our population has increased to 20,000,000 or 40,000,000, we shall have a navy of our own - that is bound to come sooner or later. A very remarkable incident occurred during the late war between the United States and Spain. The latter country had in Cuba an. army of 120,000 men, whereas the land forces of the United States in the Island, numbered only 20,000 or 30,000. Spain possessed a large navy, and the United States had only a small one. What happened ?. The small but efficient navy of the latter power smashed the Spanish navy into fragments.
– In American waters.
– It does not matter where it happened. A navy should go into any waters in order to smash up an enemy. The United States fleet pursued the Spanish ships and smashed them until they were worthless. They did not confine themselves to one small sea area, but followed the enemy wherever they could find them. The American ships then went round the coast of Cuba, and found a weak spot in Santiago, and the whole of Cuba fell into the hands of the United States immediately afterwards. The circumstances connected with that campaign show that the supremacy of a nation almost entirely depends upon its navy, and therefore any man who urges the importance of the supremacy of the British navy is speaking wise words which the people of this country ought to take deeply to heart. Surely we must be hard up for debatable matter to waste our time in discussing a. subject like this. There has been no infringement of the principle, with which I am heartily in accord, that Governors should have nothing to. do with party politics, and I hope that the honorable senator will withdraw the motion. I must compliment him - I do not often do so - upon his very moderate, and from his own point of view, forcible speech ; but I trust that he will be content with having expressed his views.
– I think that Senator Higgs has directed attention to a distinct interference by a State Governor in Federal politics. The honorable senator has outlined the questions which have to be considered in connexion with this subject, which is undoubtedly one of practical politics. Senator Best takes the point that we have no right to censure a State Governor, even if he interferes in Federal politics, but I would ask honorable senators : to what position would that lead us? Let us suppose, for instance, that during the recent railway strike in Victoria, when that infamous Bill was introduced by the Irvine Government, the GovernorGeneral had delivered a lecture on the liberties of the British people and their rights of self-government, and had by inuendo connected his lecture with the situation then existing in Victoria. Would not the State Parliament have resented his action as an interference with their rights ? Should we have demurred to the’ action of the State Parliament in passing a resolution similar to that now before us ? Of course, we should not. Therefore, when a State Governor interferes in Federal politics, we ‘are perfectly justified in expressing our resentment. We are not asked to pass a censure upon the State Government or upon the State Parliament, but to direct the attention of the Governor’s advisers to his action. Since Sir George Clarke’s speech was delivered, there has been no meeting of the State Parliament of Victoria, and we have yet to learn whether that body approves of the lecture.
– The State Premier has spoken several times since, and has made no reference to the subject.
– The Parliament, and not the Ministry, will call the State Governor to account if they think it necessary, and they have not yet had an opportunity of doing so.
– To which portions of His Excellency’s lecture does the honorable senator object ?
– I object to the whole tenor of the lecture, which I regard as a studied attempt to show that there is only one policy to be pursued in naval strategy ; that as the sea is one, the navy also should be one.
– His Excellency did not say that.
– He did say that, most clearly and distinctly. The whole trend of His Excellency’s remarks was that the sea being one, the control of the navy should also be one. The whole object of the lecture was to point out that it was essential that the control of the navy should be one and indissoluble.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is not true ?
– I hold that the question is one upon which we may have different opinions. There are those who believe that for the defence of Australia, not of the Empire, it would be best to have an Australian navy controlled by Australia.
– His Excellency never said it should not be controlled by Australia.
– But if we admit that the sea is one, and, the control of the navy must be one, how can we consistently say that we must have an Australian navy commanded and controlled by Australia? If the navy is to be one, it must be commanded and controlled by the British Admiralty. The whole debate upon the question of the advisability or otherwise of establishing an Australian naval squadron will hinge upon that very principle. I make bold to say that when we come to discuss the Naval Agreement Bill, the chief argument of its advocates will be that the control of the navy should be in the hands of the British Admiralty, and the very reasons which were advanced by Governor Clarke in his lecture, will be used as arguments in favour of the payment of . an increased subsidy.
– This is a storm in a teacup.
– On the contrary, it is a very serious question. What effect had that lecture upon public opinion ? I suppose no one will deny that the Argus represents, to a certain extent, public opinion in Victoria. What did that journal say of that lecture in a leading article which it published ? After mentioning its historical features, it said -
Something more than this is to be extracted from the paper. It contains lessons which ought to have a direct influence upon Australian policy.
Can there be any doubt as to the effect of the lecture upon the mind of the writer of that article?
– He is only one man.
– But he is one of the two men who to some extent control the destiny of Victoria at the present time.
– Nonsense !
SenatorPEARCE. - The past history of Victoria conclusively demonstrates the accuracy of my statement.
An Honorable Senator. - Who is the other man ?
– He is the proprietor of the newspaper which makes and unmakes Ministries in Victoria, and which even fixed the position which the Senate representatives of this State would occupy upon the poll at the Federal election.
– Were they returned in that order ?
SenatorPEARCE. - Undoubtedly. Speaking of Governor Clarke’s lecture, the Argus says -
Nothing can more effectually discredit narrow visioned ideas about local defence by local squadrons than a comprehensive survey of how sea power has been gained and held in the past. . . It is not Sir George Clarke’s fault if a contemplation of these facts forces upon him the conclusion that Australia’s security lies not in a local squadron, but in the tremendous power of the whole British navy “standing ready to be employed in the defence of this and every other portion of the Empire liable to over-sea attack.”
That is the impression which Governor Clarke’s lecture had upon one of the leading journals of Victoria. Further - as was pointed out by Senator Higgs - it exercised a most remarkable effect on the mind of Chief Justice Madden. That gentleman went out of his way to attack those who held an opposite opinion, and to attribute that opinion to the vices of democracy.
– We have no better man in this Chamber.
– The fact that Sir John Madden was induced to place upon record in the public journals of this State his opinion that those who thought that the control of the sea should not be one and indivisible were suffering from the vices of democracy, shows how deeply he was influenced by the lecture. I suggest to Senator Higgs that he should consent to an amendment of the motion-
– Withdraw it altogether.
SenatorPEARCE. - I shall certainly object to its withdrawal. At the same time I suggest that it should be amended by omitting the words “ disclosing an inadequate knowledge of,” and inserting in lieu thereof the word “exceeding.” I would also ask that the clauses of the motion be put separately. I shall certainly not support its second clause.I hold that the conduct of Ministers is the care of the House in which they sit, and if any censure is to be passed upon them it should be passed by the House of Representatives. Moreover, I do not agree with the statement that the action of the Minister for Defence, in seconding a vote of thanks to the lecturer, and arguing in favour of the payment of an increased subsidy, was undignified. Personally, I think it was a splendid piece of party tactics. I shall support the first clause of the motion, if it be altered in the way I suggest.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 2nd July(vide page 1711), on motion by Senator Drake -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I am sure there are very few honorable senators who do not agree with the general principles of this Bill, which is introduced by the Postmaster-General for the purpose of extending the rights of citizenship or nationality to European aliens who have made Australia their home. I feel almost equally certain, however, that the measure in its present shape will fall far short of bringing about the desired result, and the clauses will require a great deal of amendment if we are to remove some of the many disabilities which have been suffered in the past by those whom this Bill is intended to benefit. I have often been brought face to face with men of European extraction who in the back blocks have done much to develop the natural industries of Australia, and I know how such men have been debarred from the rights of nationality by the rather contradictory nature of the old colonial Acts of Parliament. The effects of these legislative anomalies may be seen in full force in Western Australia. In that State, naturalized British subjects from South Australia or New South Wales have found themselves once more reduced to the status of aliens. No matter how long such men may have lived in the States in which they are naturalized, they cannot obtain the rights of nationality in Western Australia unless they go through a fresh process of naturalization. The removal of such disabilities was one of the great arguments adduced in favour of Federation. When we were advocating the union of the States, it was pointed out that these anomalies and disabilities would become a thing of the past; but I am afraid that under this Bill as at present drawn the position would not be improved. I take it that the Government are anxious, as far as possible, to meet cases of the kind I have indicated, and if that be so, I am quite certain that in Committee we shall be able to bring this Bill into conformity with the Electoral Act. Under that Act the rights of citizenship are freely extended to the very classes of persons who by the Bill would be deprived of their Australian nationality. This inconsistency may have been overlooked in the drafting of the Bill ; but it is a fact which must be considered. By our Electoral Act all naturalized subjects in any of the States are given the right of voting at Federal elections ; but the Bill in its present form would take away that right. I can scarcely think that that is the intention of the Government. I believe, however, from the number of amendments of which notice has been given, and the number of other amendments which are contemplated, that the Bill will be very materially altered before it emerges from Committee. Then I think that the title of the measure would bear improvement. No doubt “naturalization “ is the word commonly used in measures of this kind ; but it must not be forgotten that aliens are quite as much naturalized as are any other people in this country. Though they may all be naturalized, they are not, however, all nationalized ; and if the title were altered so as to express the right of nationality, the measure would approach more nearly the object in view. The idea is to extend the right of nationality, and the alteration I have suggested would convey the meaning intended without any ambiguity. Only very recently I was speaking to a German who has lived in Australia for nearly twenty years, and is married to an Australian woman, the daughter of English parents. That gentleman pointed out that the franchise extended to his wife by the Electoral Act would be taken away by this Bill, which, further, would deprive her of her nationality. Such a state of affairs would not be creditable to the Legislature which passed a law of the kind, more especially when it is remembered that a British woman, who has so far lost her self-respect as to many a naturalized Chinaman, would under the provisions of the Bill retain her national rights. That is an anomaly which I feel certain will not be sanctioned by the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator contend that a. British subject who marries a naturalized British subject should be treated as an alien ?
– If there is to be any disability, it should be on the woman who has so far lost her self-respect as to marry a naturalized Chinaman, and not on the woman married to a German or a Frenchman, who in regard to education and civilization is equal to a Britisher. I hope all the inconsistent provisions in the Bill will be removed, and that it will not be in thepowerof any one to accuse usof excluding from the rights of citizenship people whose claim to those rights are undoubted. The Boers in South Africa made a great blunder in this connexion, and we ought to benefit by their experience, which culminated in the recent unfortunate war. By adopting a broad view we shall be doing what is right and best in the interests of Australia. If we admit to citizenship people of European extraction we shall improve our whole position. We have nothing to lose by admitting such people on liberal terms, while we shall give something to them of which they will be proud. Up to the present Federal legislation has been of a very democratic character, and I feel sure, as I have already indicated, that the Bill, if passed in its present form, would not reflect much credit on either the Government or this Senate. I hope, therefore, that we shall do everything possible to extend the rights of citizenship, so that men and women of European extraction may enjoy, as they are entitled to enjoy, our political rights. Many of those people have lived for a long time in Australia, and in extending to them the rights of citizenship in the country in which they intend to make their holmes for the rest of their lives, we shall be doing only bare justice.
– It does one good to listen to such sentiments as have just fallen from the lips of Senator De Largie in respect to the advisability’ of admitting within the borders of Australia all people of European nationality. Senator De Largie goes further, and urges that people of European extraction should be admitted to participation in our wide political rights, in the enjoyment of our freedom, and, I hope I may be permitted to add, to participation in our prosperous industries. I trust that the principles to which Senator De Largie has given utterance will be adopted to a larger extent than probably he contemplated, and that we shall never again have them set at variance, as they were in imminent risk, at least, of being set at variance a short time ago in relation to the exclusion of six gentlemen, who were not only of European extraction, but of our own flesh and blood. I am delighted to recognise in Senator De Largie a sound, but, perhaps, rather late, convert to principles which seemed to many of us in this country to have been very nearly, if not altogether, violated on the occasion to which I have referred. I also agree with Senator De Largie that in dealing with a Bill of this description the main object that we ought to have in view should be not to interpose difficulties in the way of naturalization - that is to say, in the way of admitting people of European extraction to those political and citizenship - rights which Senator De Largie has so vigorously expounded - but to increase our population,- and by that means increase ourwealth. We should certaily place under no disabilities of any kind those who are already within our borders, and who are naturalized within their own particular States. This Bill, from all these stand-points, is a very remarkable measure. .In order to effect what at first sight would appear to be so very simple a purpose, an almost inconceivable intricacy has been introduced. It is extraordinary that such pains should have been taken to complicate what is so very easy. I do not know, of course, whether the compliment is due to the Government or to the particular department concerned, or to the draftsman; or whether it is my honorable and learned friend who is responsible for the policy of the Bill. But it is hard to understand how so much ingenuity should have been expended not in facilitating, but in increasing the difficulties in the way of naturalization, and of placing under a ban, to some tent, people who are already naturalized in the different States of Australia. I really think with my honorable friend, Senator De Largie, that inadequate consideration has been given to the measure ; or else with a view of entertaining the Senate - as this is one of the first Bills brought before us - the draftsman has set to work to produce as many provisions as possible in order that they might give rise to debate and be cut out. There are two things in regard to the question of naturalization that have to be dealt with in a measure of this description. The first is to provide for Commonwealth naturalization by virtue of the Constitution. That power is confided to the Commonwealth Parliament. It is one of the subjects of legislation taken over by this Parliament. And naturally so, because it is an anomaly of the grossest description that a man should be a naturalized British subject in one State and an alien and a foreigner in another State.
– And be again an alien if he returns to his original State.
– That may be a development of the difficulty. The object in the first place is to give effect to that power of the Constitution which enjoins this Parliament to provide a system of Commonwealth naturalization; that is to say, gathering in those who come from other countries and who are eligible, and giving to them the higher and better citizenship- as we rightly consider it- of the Australian Commonwealth. The second object - the governing reason for that power of the Constitution - is to remove an anomaly that gave rise to condemnation whenever it was referred to. I allude to the anomaly that a man may, if living in South Australia, a mile beyond the Victorian border, be a naturalized British subject, entitled to all the rights of citizenship, whilst if he steps across the border he is an alien and a foreigner entitled to none of the rights that are inseparable from citizenship. And if my honorable friend Senator Dawson’s view be correct - I do not say whether it is or not - if the man steps back again to the other side of the border he has forfeited the rights which he has previously enjoyed. That is a deplorable state of things. Those are the two points that the draftsmen of the Bill and the Government had to consider - first, to establish a system of Commonwealth naturalization in the case of persons not already naturalized anywhere in Australia ; and, secondly, to remove the disability - which could be very easily and simply done - to which I have referred. Only a few weeks ago I had occasion to be connected professionally with a question of naturalization which showed the utter absurdity of the existing law. A gentleman had during the past year been mayor of the large, populous, and prosperous town of Port Adelaide. A new election was coming on. He was a doctor, and one whose practice was not apparently viewed with favour by some of his professional rivals. Except in the law, there is a good deal of rivalry in all our professions, and sometimes much irritation arises out of it. It so happened in this particular case that the professional rivals of the doctor set about to find some reason why he should not be re-elected ; and in some way or other - Ido not knowhow - -they happened to discover what they considered a flaw in his naturalization. He had been naturalized in Queensland some 25 or 30 years ago, had come to South Australia, and had gone through the very simple process of recording his Queensland naturalization in that State. But the document was not on record in South Australia, and these people were convinced that they had got hold of a fine weapon. They thought they had discovered that he was not naturalized in South Australia, and they promptly took proceedings to have his name struck off the municipal roll of PortAdelaide. But the paper had been verified in South Australia. It came rather in the way of a bombshell, and had the effect of determining the dispute. The name of the doctor remained upon the roll, whilst his rivals went away lamenting. But what a gross thing that would have been had it been successful !. Here was a man who had been naturalized in Queensland, who had been living in Australia for 25 or 30 years, and who had lived many of them in South Australia. He had reared a family there, and had risen to occupy the highest municipal position in Port Adelaide. He had been mayor for a. year, and then suddenly his seat was endangered, his municipal rights were challenged, and he was sought to be branded as an alien and a foreigner. The attempt was unsuccessful, but the case illustrates, what is sought to be remedied under this-. Bill, which should have for its first objectthe removal of anomalies of that description.
– That case illustrates the defects of the present law.
– But my honorable friends, the members of the Government, in submitting this Bill to Parliament, have produced and repeated the very blot of which I am complaining. They have practically declared by this measure that a man who is naturalized in one State is naturalized, so to speak, with a blemish, and that he must go through a process of re-naturalization before he can be recognised as a citizen of the Commonwealth. Is not that a monstrous thing? Is there anything to justify jr such a proceeding ? When we define the term “ British subject “ in clause 3, why not say - “ British subject means a naturalized British subject or a person naturalized in a State before, orin the Commonwealth, after the passing of this Act “ ? Why are we to place under a disability persons residing in the Commonwealth who have been here for years and years, and who have been naturalized in the States of Australia ? Why should we say to them - “You are not citizens of the Commonwealth until you. go through the method described by paragraph (b) of clause 4, and by sub-clause (2) of clause 5, under which you are to declare that you have obtained a certificate - which certificate it is to be presumed that you may have obtained fraudulently until you declare to the contrary ; and you are to give proofs of your citizenship by making a solemn statutory declaration that you have obtained your certificate or letters in a legal manner, and that the seal “ - of which- the naturalized subject may know no more than the water-bottle upon this table - “is a genuine one.”
– We treated them ascitizens at the referendum and at the elections for this Parliament.
– We did.
– And *they can vote again.
– But scores of these people may have migrated to Western Australia. If they have been put on the roll this Bill immediately disfranchises them. They cannot vote again until they have obtained fresh letters of’ naturalization as citizens of the Commonwealth. Not merely so, but in clause 6 the GovernorGeneral in Council is given the power first of all of considering any application for naturalization which is only to be granted if the Governor-General in Council is satisfied with the evidence adduced. If the Government says - “ We are not satisfied with your evidence,” the man is put to a great amount of expense. His papers may have been signed just in time to enable him to exercise his rights of citizenship, and before “ red tape “ is satisfied that the document is genuine, he may have lost his opportunity. Surely that is a state of things which we did not contemplate. Not only so, but the Governor-General in Council may decline to grant naturalization without assigning any reason. It is “ in his discretion.” Men may have obtained certificates of naturalization in South Australia, Queensland, or any of the other States. They may have exercised the rights of citizenship for years in the States in which they were naturalized. But this Bill places in the hands of the Government of the day the power of granting or withholding, at its discretion, the citizenship of the Commonwealth when application is made for it by such persons.
– Naturalized persons will have the right to vote in the State where they are naturalized.
– But they will ‘ not have the right to vote in case they move to another State
– They have not that’ right now.
– But we are going to. remedy that defect by making the naturalization of any citizen apply to any State - by, in fact, giving the citizenship of the Commonwealth to every citizen of the States.
– We shall see.
– My honorable and learned/ friend will be like “ The Last Man “ in the poem -
All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom, The Sun himself must die, and my honorable and learned friend will die in defence of the principle that a citizen who has exercised his rights for years shall lose those’ rights if he removes to another State. But we are bound to protect those rights.
– It remains to be seen whether this Parliament holds a different opinion from what the States have held in the past.
– I am certain that the method of naturalization adopted in my own State is very much simpler than this.
– And superior, of course !
– Very much superior. What we want is simplicity. Why should we not make Commonwealth naturalization so simple that a man can go before a justice of the peace, mitke the declaration, take the oath of allegiance, sign a paper, and make an end of it? Surely that is what we ought to aim at. As my honorable friend, Senator De Largie, says, that would be consonant with the spirit of the legislation we desire to pass.
– This Bill only requires them to prove their naturalization.
– My point is that they ought not to have to do it at all. The presentation of a certificate of naturalization should be enough. Another point in reference to fresh naturalization, to which I desire to call attention, is the requirement of residence in Australia for five years. Why should we lay down that condition ?
– The residence must be for five years immediately preceding the application, sO that a man would not be able to take a trip away from the Commonwealth during that time.
– Exactly. Senator Pearce suggested the other day that it would be sufficient to require a residence of two years: but why should there be a necessity for any fixed period of residence ? Let me read to the PostmasterGeneral section 7 of the South Australian Aliens Act of 1864-
When any alien friend -
Of course, none of this applies to an alien enemy - now residing in, or who shall hereafter reside within the said Province, desires to be naturalized, if he be of good repute, and if he take the oath prescribed in Schedule A hereto, the Governor may, if he thinkfit -
The discretion is with the Governor in Council - grant to him under the seal of the said Province letters of naturalization, subject to such conditions (ifany) ashe may consider necessary or advisable.
If he is a questionable character, we have other laws which shut him out. If he is still a questionable character when he makes his application for naturalization, the Governor in Council may withhold his consent. If a thousand men came from the old country as agricultural labourers - of course, not under contract - why should they not be put upon the rolls as soon as possible? Surely they would be as good as we are ?
– As it is, their names must remain on the rolls twelve months before they can exercise the franchise.
– Yes. Upon what principle has this period of five years been fixed ? Why has any period been adopted? We come now, I think, to the most comical part of the whole Bill. It reminds one of some of the situations in “Arizona.” I refer to the extraordinary and inexplicable position of a woman under this Bill. When I read clauses8 and 9, I thought to myself, “Surely this is not an extract from some new comic opera; but it looks uncommonly like it.” For instance, under clause8, a woman who is not a British subject but marries a British subject, will be naturalized in the Commonwealth while she remains married, and after the dissolution of the marriage by the death of the husband or by divorce she will continue to be naturalized and will be competent to exercise the franchise. But if she has the audacity or affection to marry a man who is not a British subject, down she will drop in the scale of civilization and citizenship. As soon as she marries an alien she will be treated under this clause as one who is no longer naturalized. This proposed citizenship is one of the most comical things in the world ; it is a kind of shifting business ; here you have it, there you do not. It is the “ pea and thimble “ business over again. The pea is under the thimble one moment and not under it the next. Does the PostmasterGeneral contemplate this as a serious piece of legislation ? But clause 8 is absolutely capped by clause 9. If a woman who is a. natural-born British subject, with an inalienable right of citizenship, marries a man who is not a British subject, she will cease under that clause to be naturalized. She will forfeit thai! right of citizenship which is hers by blood and birth, and she will be deemed to be not a British subject. After the dissolution of the marriage by the death of the husband or by divorce she will still be taken to be not a British subject, although she is a natural-born one, and it will be necessary for her to’ apply like any alien or foreigner for a certificate of naturalization.
– Under the Franchise Act she has a vote all the time.
– Was ever such a distortion of political views, in relation to the rights of citizenship, conceived as is sought to be embodied in this clause? Surely we are not going to take away a woman’s nationality or citizenship because she happens to marry a foreigner who does not wish to be naturalized ? We do not take away a man’s citizenship if he commits a felony. We do not take away his citizenship if he commits a murder. Certainly we hang him, but until we take away his life he is still a citizen. But if a woman, born a British subject, with all the rights which that implies, marries a foreigner, no matter what his position or intelligence may be, she will forfeit her rights of British citizenship and become a foreigner under this Bill. Such a thing as that was surely never seriously contemplated. That is the worst feature of these two clauses. The next clause, however, is equally inconsistent and absurd. Sub-clause (2) of clause 9 provides that when a woman who is a naturalized British subject, and therefore a British subject in every sense of the term, marries a man who is not a British subject she sheds her naturalization and citizenship just as she might take off her cloak on returning home from a walk.
– When she marries an alien she becomes an alien.
– Is my honorable and learned friend an advocate of woman’s rights ?
– There is no novelty about the provision.
– I think it is novel, and that my honorable and learned friend should send it along to a writer .of pantomimes. We should then be able to see a woman coming on the stage from one side, clothed with all the rights of British citizenship, and on her way across the boards, meeting an alien, and leaving from the other side no longer a British subject, but a savage. What I am going to suggest is that the Postmaster-General should .take this Bill back-
– It needs to be re-cast, lt would be almost impossible to amend the Bill in Committee, without reflecting, to some extent, on my honorable and learned friend or his draftsman.
– It differs from the South Australian law.
– The South Australian law in regard to this matter is a sensible one. The beauty of it is that in that law every thing is provided for in one section. It is a treachery, in a Pickwickian sense, to call upon the Commonwealth to pay the cost of printing the twelve or fifteen absurd clauses in this Bill. Let me read this one short section from the South Australian Aliens Act of 1S64 -
When any alien woman is married to any natural-born or naturalized subject of Her Majesty, such woman shall thereby become and be naturalized within the limits of the said province.
Should that not be the law? You are either a natural-born subject or a naturalized subject. You cannot be both. You cannot be one or the other, in a state of suspense. .This Bill, however, puts the whole thing in a kind of suspense. At one time you are a British subject, and at another you are not. At one time a woman who is a natural-born British subject is a British subject, but if she marries an alien she is not. All her rights are taken away ; and yet this proposal comes from my honorable and learned friend who is an advocate of women’s rights. Was ever such irony exhibited in a piece of legislation ?
– The man can naturalize the woman, but the woman cannot naturalize the man. 5 s
– Quiteso. If we are to adopt this principle, which I do not think any one in his senseswould do, why should we not say that what is sauce for the woman is sauce for the man ? So far as their rights of citizenship are concerned, they are on an equal footing in thiscountry. A woman has the franchise, and a man enjoys the same right. If a naturalborn British subject marries an alien woman,, why should he not lose his rights of citizenship if a natural-born British woman does soon marrying an alien? Why make this discrimination ? How is the PostmasterGeneral going to reconcile it with his advocacy of woman’s rights ?
– We cannot at oncemake the law perfect.
– The honorable and learned senator is seeking by this Bill to make it as imperfect as he can.
– We are dealing with existing laws and trying to improve them.
– This would appear to be woman’s wrongs.
– This,, so far as a natural-born British woman is concerned, is a Bill to take away hercitizenship and nationality for a reason, that is absolutely indefensible.
– If she marries am alien.
– Senator Symon forgets that it is the man who generally fights, and conspires.
– I am not so sure about that. But if it is the. man who conspires- ‘
– There is generally a. woman at the bottom of it.
– Perhaps. At all events, that is too large a question to deal with now. There is one other point to which I invite the attention of the PostmasterGeneral. Under sub-clause (2) of clause 10 even the poor infants are badly treated. Why are they to be put on the gridiron in this way? Clause 10 provides that -
One would suppose that if the father or mother were a British subject the children should be British subjects. But as. according to this provision, you naturalize the children before 21, and denaturalize them at 21, the logical course to pursue would be to make the children apply for a certificate of naturalization when they came of age. What is the difference if the mother and father are naturalized British subjects ? Surely the children born to them are British subjects, and are as much entitled to naturalization after as before they obtain the age of 21? Why are we to draw a distinction between children whose parents, in the circumstances stated, are made British subjects, and the children of actually British-born people. The amusing part of it is that here again we have the pea and thimble act. It reminds one of what lawyers are acquainted with, a series of shifting uses. The infant is a naturalized British subject, but the moment he reaches the age of 21 he is an alien. For 21 years the infant is a British subject, but the day after attaining his majority he is riot. Upon’ what principle can that be reconciled with common sense or with the common principles which should govern legislation in a matter of this description ? Let me ask the Postmaster-General what purpose is served by giving a person naturalization until he is 21 years of age ? What right of citizenship can he exercise until he attains his majority ?
– Bights as to property.
– My friend, as a lawyer, knows that all that has been swept away long ago. Aliens can hold property without being naturalized.
– Not in Tasmania.
– Is Tasmania s’o backward as that.
– I am sorry to say she is.
– I will take my honorable friend’s word for it. I was not aware that there was any part of the British dominions where it was still the law that an alien could not hold property.
– He cannot hold a foot of ground in Tasmania.
– But eliminating for the moment, with great regret, the State of Tasmania, what right of citizenship is dependent upon naturalization before reaching the age of 21 ? There is really no exercise of the rights of citizenship until after 21 years of age, but we give a person to some extent, subject to what my honorable friend says, a portion of the rights of citizenship until he is 21 years of age, and we then declare that he shall be entitled to nothing until he goes through the whole of this formality.
– He ‘ can apply for naturalization.
– We might call upon him to defend his country before he was 21 years of age.
– We might call upon him to fight against his own country.
– His own country? His own country is here, yet it is true you may call upon him before he is 21 to fight against the country to which you propose to hand him back as a citizen after he is 21. He is the child of naturalized parents.
– Not of naturalized parents, that is not the clause. One of them may be naturalized.
– The honorable and learned senator will excuse me. That is the effect of the clause, and it is the corollary of what is stated before. Does my honorable and learned friend support these clauses with regard to women ?
– No, but there is something to be said on the other side, and the honorable anl learned senator is speaking as if there were nothing to be said.
– I do not think there is myself, but I know my honorable and learned friend has the capacity of saying something on the other side of any question. With great respect to the PostmasterGeneral it appears to me that this clause, as Senator De Largie has said, has been inserted in the Bill without adequate consideration.
– Does the honorable and learned senator defend what Senator De Largie said on that point.
– I adopt it entirely. The question is simple to a degree. We have first ‘ to create a system of Commonwealth naturalization for people who are not British - born subjects, by, in the simplest way, in the fewest words, and with the least expensive process, enabling them to take the oath of allegiance if they are people of good repute, and to be regarded as citizens of this country. That should be our first object. Then we should declare that every person who is naturalized in any State of the Commonwealth shall, on production of his certificate, and without any implication of fraud, or requiring a declaration that there has been no fraud or false statement, be entitled to be placed upon the register of citizens.
– It is very simple, if we evade all the difficulties.
– But the honorable and learned senator has only created difficulties. I compliment my honorable and learned friend upon the extreme ingenuity displayed in the creation of difficulties under this Bill, and not difficulties only, these one would not mind, but disabilities and forfeitures, such as the taking away of ah absolute inherited right of citizenship from a woman who is British born, because she happens to marry a man who is not British born or who is not naturalized. In doing that, we shall throw into confusion the franchise system of the Commonwealth and of some at least of the States, and take away for a time from persons who now enjoy and have enjoyed and exercised them the rights of citizenship though they may be restored to them, perhaps, at some later date, upon some new event, and by some fresh naturalization. I think the Bill should have been made very much simpler, and those matters which are utterly opposed to the principles sought to be given effect to might very well be eliminated. That is the best course to adopt, and then if we are going to legislate specifically in regard to naturalized women or British born women we must be consistent, and we must place men and women upon the same footing, otherwise we shall be disregarding the whole policy of Australia. We shall be drawing a line, and placing a brand and imposing a forfeiture upon women, to which we do not make men, who are no more than their equals politically, subject under this Bill. I, therefore, hope the Bill will be reconsidered, and that, in order to save a great waste of time in Committee, it will be brought up again in another form which will give better effect to the duty which lies upon us, and the object we have in view under the Constitution, and which will secure for us a simple system of naturalization, removing in the easiest possible way the anomalies which at present exist in State naturalization.
– I have noticed, in the discussion which has taken place upon this Bill, a strong tendency - and the tendency is stronger than I expected to have found it - in the direction of relaxing the safeguards with which we propose to surround the granting of the citizenship of Australia. This is not an easy matter at all. It is all very well to take a Bill of this kind and say, as Senator Symon says, “ This is a very complicated and difficult matter, but it can all be made exceedingly simple if we just provide that any one who comes along may be admitted to our citizenship.” Of course we can make any measure verysimple, not by overcoming the difficulties of the situation, but simply by evading them or shutting our eyes to them. The difficulties that have been referred to probably arise from the fact that we are part of the British Empire, that we are inheritors of British law, and are living, and shall continue to live, to a very great extent under the influence of British law. The question of naturalization, instead of being the very simple matter which it seems to be to honorable members from South Australia, is really of such difficulty that English lawyers who have set their minds to a consideration of it are in doubt as to what exactly the law is, and what steps it may be necessary to take in order to make the law something like uniform throughout the British Empire. Take, for instance, the term of residence required. It is five years in the United Kingdom, and it is five years in most British countries. We cannot, unless we are going to set up as a community entirely by ourselves, and have no reciprocal dealings with other parts of the world, start with a clean sheet, and say that we will make our regulations exactly what we like on the subject of the status of British subjects in Australia. The object aimed at in Great Britain and in British countries has been to endeavour to make the law upon this subject so far uniform that there shall be reciprocal relations, at all events, between the different parts of the British Empire. That has been the difficulty up to the present time. Great Britain has its own laws on the subject of naturalization, and each of the States of
Australia has hitherto had its own laws on the subject. The result is the state of things we have existing now, and they have been referred to once or twice by honorable senators just as though they were due to ,some fault attributable to the Bill now introduced. The law at present under which British naturalization may be acquired in the United Kingdom, and the separate naturalization laws in each of the States, have been such that as soon as a man steps outside the boundary of his- State he becomes an alien. That is the position. iSenator Symon tells us that it is very easy now for us to sweep all that away. In the past, the separate colonies, if they had so chosen, could have done the same thing. Could not the separate colonies have said - “We shall say that any one who is a naturalized citizen of any of the other colonies shall be considered to be a naturalized citizen of this colony.”
– They could, but they did not.
– I say they did not, and I am pointing out why they did not.
– It is not proposed to do it here.
– I am pointing out why the separate colonies did not do it. it is proposed now by some honorable senators that we should do for the people of the separate States of Australia what they deliberately refused to do for themselves.
– That is what Federation is for. That is what we come ; here to do.
– That is what was expected would be done by the Commonwealth.
– No, that was not expected. I shall give one reason why I think that was not expected. We did not find at any time in the past the people of any one of the present States of the Commonwealth clamouring that persons admitted to the rights of naturalization in any colony of the group should become, without anything further being done, citizens of their colony. The proof that they did not desire it seems to me to be given in the careful measures they took to safeguard their citzenship. Each colony in the past said this - “ We are masters in this particular matter, and we are going to decide under what conditions a person can become a citizen of this colony. We are not going to pass a law to provide that another colony may admit any one whom it pleases upon any terms it likes, and that we shall be bound to accept him.” Each colony in the past has kept that right in its own hands.
– Was it not one of the reasons for Federation that we would do away with that disability 1
– May I put this matter in my own way. Interjections of that kind only render it necessary for me to repeat myself. I take up this position : When we were six separate colonies, each colony carefully guarded its own right in this respect. It insisted that it should itself decide who should be its citizens, and it inferentially refused to allow the conditions under which persons might become its citizens to pass into the hands of any other colony, as would have been the case if .it had passed a law saying that any one admitted to the citizenship of Queensland, for instance, should become by that mere fact a citizen of “Victoria, New South Wales, or South Australia. Each colony in the past carefully guarded its rights and endeavoured to frame its laws, to some extent, on the basis of British law, though there were variations in every case, and some were perhaps rather more liberal than others. We are now asked whether, having become a Commonwealth we should not take that action which the States, as self-governing colonies, refused to take. We propose to pass a law creating a Commonwealth naturalization which will make the persons who obtain letters of naturalization naturalized British subjects in every one of the States of the Commonwealth. But we recognise the action taken by each of the separate States, because we say we will, only under certain conditions, recognise their letters of naturalization. We do not, however, go so far :is to say that every one who in the past - no matter upon what terms - has been admitted to naturalization in any particular State, shall therefore become a citizen of the Commonwealth, and have the rights of a British subject throughout Australia. Surely we are justified in making that reservation. If there is one particular State that in the past has been more careful in guarding its rights of citizenship than another, should we not be wrong in compelling the people of that State to receive as its citizens those admitted to citizenship in another State under a much looser system, and without the same safeguards 1 It seems to me that we would not be doing justice to the people of the former State in doing for them now as a Commonwealth Parliament what they declined to do as a separate and independent community. We are trying to devise a system for the admission of aliens to the rights and privileges of British subjects which will be based upon the British law, and which will enable us to make aliens citizens of Australia upon terms which will not put the people of any particular State at a disadvantage, or interfere with their original position.
– -Would not the same argument have applied in regard’ to the admission of persons naturalized in Great Britain ?
– What I desire to make plain is the great advantage of keeping as closely as we can to the provisions of the British law. At the present time there is no reciprocity, but all thinking men who have devoted their minds to the subject desire that the various British communities shall work towards the securing of reciprocity. That being so, we should endeavour, in providing for the granting of letters of naturalization to aliens coming to Australia, to do so on such terms as will insure their recognition outside Australia. It has been asked, why should we not recognise letters of naturalization granted in Canada? If the Canadian laws on the subject of naturalization were similar to , those of Great Britain and to our own, it would be desirable to accept their letters of naturalization, and we should expect them to recognise our letters of naturalization. But how can we expect to obtain reciprocity if we grant letters of naturalization without efficient safeguards to practically any one who comes here ? To secure reciprocity, we must adopt conditions of naturalization similar to those which are required by the countries with whom we desire to reciprocate. A good deal has been said against the proposal to require a five years’ residence before the granting of letters of naturalization, and Senator Pearce has indicated his intention of moving that the period be reduced to two years. But if, as I believe is the case, a five years’ residence is insisted upon by Canada, how can we expect that country to recognise our letters* of naturalization supposing that we are content with a residence of two years, or, conversely, how could Canada expect us to recognise her letters of naturalization if she insisted upon a shorter term of residence than we required ? To secure reciprocity we must adopt naturalization laws which are similar to those of the countries with which we wish to reciprocate.
– Why should they not make their laws conform with ours?
– It has been argued that, inasmuch as we require population, we should make the conditions of citizenship here more and more easy. But if we enter into competition of that kind, it will be almost impossible to secure uniformity in the conditions of naturalization prevailing throughout the Empire. It seems to me, however, eminently desirable that British citizenship sholl be really Empire citizenship.
– The members of the Imperial Conference did not think it worth while to even consider the question.
– They did not come to a decision on the matter; neither is .a decision set out in the inter-departmental report on the subject, because of the great difficulties which exist. Everyone who has given attention to the subject desires that, if possible, an Empire citizenship shall be created. But the only way in which that can be brought about is by the various British countries, so far as possible, adopting as their standard the British naturalization laws, and bringing their own laws on the subject into conformity with them. We cannot get uniformity if every British country adopts a different law.
– But although we desire uniformity, we do not desire a bad u nif or- ‘mity.
– Besides, we are not dealing with the question of uniformity now ; we are merely passing a naturalization low for Australia.
– But some of those who have taken part in the debate have spoken as though we have nothing to consider but the making of a law for ourselves.
– Noi- have we.
– If we take up that position, and adopt a low to suit ourselves, without reference to the laws of other countries, we shall never get the reciprocity which we desire.
– Perhaps other countries will make their laws conform to ours.
– That is exceedingly unlikely.
– Then the honorable and learned senator assumes that ours is a bad law.
– Other countries have followed our lead in regard to many other matters.
– That may be so, but if each country adopts a different law, we must abandon all hope of uniformity.
– Does the honorable and learned senator suggest that we should content ourselves with adopting the English law ?
– Certainly not. Honorable senators can get all the information they desire from the inter-departmental report on this subject. Taking that as a basis, I think that we should endeavour to frame our naturalization law in such a way that we shall safeguard our citizenship, and at the same time, not introduce any elements which may prevent the adoption of provisions on the general lines of the British law.
– Surely, when aliens have passed all the tests provided by the Immigration Restriction Act, we should make it our business to make them feel at home here as soon as possible.
– Even then, I think, we must make it discretionary on the part of the Governor-General in Council to grant them letters of naturalization. We should in this young country carefully safeguard the rights and privileges of citizenship. Our position in regard to Eastern nations makes that very desirable. Pressure at any time may be brought to bear upon us to secure the recognition of the citizenship of British subjects born in India, and I think that we should so frame our law that no one will be able to claim the right to be naturalized without the consent of the GovernorGeneral in Council. Attempt has been made to throw ridicule on the Bill, because of the provisions for the granting of letters of naturalization to women. All those provisions are to be found in the English naturalization law. They recognise the general principle of law that a woman’s political status and position is that of her husband. If a woman marries an alien she takes the nationality of her husband.
– That is an antediluvian doctrine which was exploded long ago.
– If an Englishwoman marries a Frenchman, she loses her English nationality. In most cases whenamarriage of that kind takes place, the woman leaves her own country, and goes to live in that of her husband. Of course, when a woman here marries an alien, he may not return to the country of his birth, but she, nevertheless, ceases to be a British subject, and does not become a British subject again until, on the death of her husband, she is naturalized, or marries a British subject. Honorable senators will see that it would be an extremely undesirable ‘position if, in the event of there being a considerable number of aliens in Australia, our women could marry them, and still claim the status and position of British subjects.
– But to enable an Englishwoman,whohas married aforeigner, and has become a widow, to regain her British nationality, the Bill compels her either to be naturalized or to marry a British subject. That is father hard. She might not want to marry again.
– If she is a widow she can apply for letters of naturalization, and I should like to know where the hardship is in such a case. Why should any one who does not desire to be a British subject claim the right to vote ?
– A woman would save 17s. 6d. by re-marrying. Senator DRAKE. - I know that my honorable and learned friend’s object is to throw ridicule on the Bill, but my point is thathe is championing the person who wishes to enjoy the right to vote without becoming a British subject. The British born widow of an alien may reasonably be told that citizenship carries with it a right to vote, and that if she desires to exercise that privilege she should apply for letters of naturalization.
– But does the Minister seriously contend that a woman, by marrying an alien, loses her birthright - her British blood ?
– We are following the British law, which provides that the status of a woman who marries an alien shall be that of her husband.
– Is that the law of England ?
– Yes; we are following the British law in this matter, whereas in regard to infants we have departed from it by providing that a child of naturalized parents shall only cease to be regarded as a British subject when he reaches the age of 21. That, however, is a matter of detail. I wish honorable senators would direct more attention to the danger of indiscriminately admitting foreigners to our citizenship. Nearly all the criticism that has been offered has taken an opposite direction, although when I introduced the Bill I fully anticipated that we should have been charged with recklessly throwing open our doors to foreigners. Where children have been born of parents of whom either one or both have been naturalized, there may be nothing in particular to attach them to this country. They may have been born before the parent or parents were naturalized and in some place beyond the Commonwealth, and in such a case we provide that the children shall have the status of the naturalized parent until they reach the age of 21. The children may be entirely of foreign extraction, and have nothing in common with Australians.
– What would be the position of a French married couple who went to England with their family, and settled there ?
– We have adopted the law of England, except that we have provided that the children shall be regarded as British up to the age of 21 years.
– But if the parents became naturalized, what would be the position of the children ?
– They would grow up as British subjects. We propose a slight departure from the British law’ in that respect.
– How about reciprocity now?
– We are placed in peculiar circumstances here, because we might have a Chinaman coming here with a lot of children.
– We should not let him in.
– I do not know. The Chinaman might be a naturalized British subject. In such a case, we should regard the children as British subjects during their minority, but after that they would have to take out letters of naturalization in order to enjoy the rights of citizenship. The provision in the Bill is a safeguard, because if we found growing up amongst us children who had nothing in common with Australians we should be in a position to refuse them letters of naturalization. Some honorable senators have referred to the case of those who have already obtained letters of naturalization issued by the States Governments. All the difficulties interposed in the way of a person becoming naturalized under the Commonwealth law are necessary to insure the bona fides of the applicant. He has to prove that he is the person named in the application . Senator Pearce told us of cases in which men had worked on false naturalization papers, and the facts he mentioned were in themselves sufficient to justify a provision such as I have indicated. When a man asks for something more than he has hitherto enjoyed, and desires to become a naturalized British subject in the whole of the Commonwealth instead of in one State only, we think that it is reasonable to ask for some evidence of good repute. The fee to be charged is a matter of mere detail. Personally, I do not think it is too much. When honorable senators consider the different laws which have existed in the States - some of them quite deficient in safeguards - they must admit that it is not unreasonable that we should, before admitting any persons to the citizenship of the Commonwealth, assure ourselves that they would be an element of strength rather than of weakness to the community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “British subject”, means a natural bom British Subject or a naturalized person.
– I move -
That the word “naturalized” be omitted.
If that amendment be carried, I shallmove -
That the words “naturalized in a State before or in the Commonwealth after the passing of this Act” be inserted after the word “person.”
I submit this proposition to» raise the question of the desirableness of immediately recognising every British subject at present in Australia, irrespective of whether he be natural-born or whether naturalization papers have been granted to him by the States. In Canada, I may mention that the period of residence necessary to entitle a foreigner to become naturalized is not five years but three years. There, every alien, who prior to the 1st January, 1868, when the Canadian provinces were federated under the British North American Act of 1867, took the oaths of residence and allegiance required by the naturalization laws then in force in the province in- which he resided, was admitted to all the rights and privileges of a British subject conferred upon persons by the Naturalization Act. This Bill contains a provision which deals with the question of recording letters of naturalization. In my judgment there is no need for such a clause, because a complete record was kept in each State ‘up to the time of the accomplishment of Federation. Consequently there is no need for further expense. Many of the naturalized citizens of South Australia -and I suppose of some other States - are not acquainted with English, and I hold that we should not put them to any trouble in regard to the compilation of a record when a sufficient record is already in existence. My amendment, practically, accomplishes the same object as does the provision in the Canadian Act from which I have quoted.
– The amendment submitted would allow all the Chinese who have been naturalized in the different States to become citizens of the Commonwealth for all time.
– They will not live for all time.
– But they have a very facile way of handing their naturalization papers down.
– The Bill provides certain safeguards in the case of persons who have been naturalized. It merely requires them to prove that they are the individuals to whom the naturalization papers have been issued. Under the amendment, that safeguard is to be swept away, and every man who claims to have been naturalized in a State prior to Federation will become a British subject in the Commonwealth. Thus all the Chinese who have been naturalized in Victoria will become Commonwealth citizens.
– Surely this is not a Bill to take away rights which have been conferred upon them by the States ?
– The Bill provides that a person possessed of naturalization papers may become an applicant for the rights conferred by citizenship. It lays down the principle that when we are enacting a Commonwealth law relating to naturalization we should be in a position to determine who is .entitled to claim the rights of British subjects throughout Australia. After any person has proved that he has been naturalized, after he has established the fact that he is of good repute, the Bill vests the Governor-General in Council with discretionary power to grant or withhold letters of naturalization. All these safeguards will be swept away by the amendment, if adopted. In my opinion we have a perfect right to consider whether we shall admit certain people to rights of citizenship within the Commonwealth. A great many persons believe that some of the States made mistakes by recklessly admitting aliens to citizenship. Surely in enacting a Commonwealth law in regard to naturalization we have a light to correct those mistakes. It is all very well to put one class of naturalized citizens in the forefront and to make it appear that, the amendment is ‘moved particularly in their interests. But we must look to what its adoption involves. We. must have regard to the fact that it obviously involves the admission to the privileges of British subjects of persons whom we may deem undesirable. I object to the amendment because it is advisable that in every case we should have the power either to grant or withhold the rights of citizenship.
– Not to withhold them from the Germans.
– I know very well that in one State a distinction has been made in the case of aliens coming from Europe and America. But no such exception has been made in this Bill, and I do not think it is desirable to make it. The moment we commence to draw such distinctions we shall become involved in all manner of difficulties.
– I entirely disagree with the Postmaster-General. The amendment proposed by Senator Symon is in substance the one which I indicated my intention of moving yesterday. The. Postmaster-General talks about persons who are British subjects, and persons who are not. Every naturalized individual in any State is a British subject. When we established the . Commonwealth, our aim was to bring together an aggregation of persons who were British subjects in the States, and to make- one friendly whole out of parts which were previously separate. Are we to allow a few Chinese to dislocate a great system ? No more Chinese will be able to gain a footing in Australia, because the law prohibits their admission. We have to deal only with those who are already here, and who have been naturalized. What is the position ?
– Rightly or wrongly we made them British subjects.
– They are British subjects already, and as such are entitled to vote for the return of members to the States Legislatures. The only question involved here is whether we shall ex; tend their rights to other States. In a great movement in which we are resolved to make Australia one, with what dignity does it come from the Minister to suggest that any State has acted unworthily in admitting aliens to its citizenship? The presumption is that they have been admitted worthily, according to the laws of the States, and there is no suggestion that any difficulty has resulted therefrom. Are some of the best residents of Australia to be prevented from enjoying the rights of citizenship as a matter of course, simply that we may give the Government the power of exercising a veto in the case of one or two coloured persons whom they may choose to say have been unworthily admitted ? What reason is there for supposing that the judgment of Commonwealth Ministers will be any sounder than was that of the States Ministers, who decided that these were proper persons to be naturalized ? We cannot do a greater kindness to the Ministry of the day than to relieve them of the most obnoxious and invidious task of having to decide whether they will admit this individual or that, with all the unpleasant consequences which are bound to flow from their decisions. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it seems to me to be taking a low contemptible stand-
– Surely that is not in order !
– Well, I shall say it would be a most unfortunate stand for the Commonwealth to take on its inception, to question the administration of the States, and to exercise a supervising authority which must be exercised more or less, not merely in the case of a few undesirables, but also in the case of thousands of our most valuable citizens. I speak from my own knowledge and information when I say that these worthy citizens are perfectly rampant about this Bill - that the)’ are most indignant at finding themselves parties to a Commonwealth which begins by refusing to recognise them as subjects.
– In fact, their loyalty is called in question.
– I am sure the amendment will be carried, and I hope a decision will be arrived at soon.
– I have not heard any senator except the representative of the Government oppose the amendment, and I suggest that for the sake of the reputation of the Ministry, the PostmasterGeneral might give away. We are all, with one or two exceptions, in favour of making an amendment in regard to Germans, Italians, and other Europeans who are naturalized in their particular States ; but some of us do not agree in extending that provision to coloured aliens. If Senator Symon’s amendment be carried, I shall move that the following words be added : - not being an aboriginal native of Asia, Africa, or of the islands of the Pacific, except New Zealand.
If it is thought that we shall become involved in any way by making this distinction, it must be remembered that there is a similar provision in the Electoral Act. Under the amendment no disability will be placed on Chinese, Japanese, and other coloured races, unless they go into some other State. As Senator Pearce has pointed out, we already have enough difficulty with aliens with regard to domicile. Many of them claim to have been in the Commonwealth before, and there is the greatest difficulty in disproving their statements, on account of the resemblance they bear to each other, and because a Chinaman of 20 usually looks quite as old as one of 60.
– I do not think there is any honorable senator unless it may be the Postmaster-General who would object for a moment to the amendment so far as it affects the white people of Australia. But the difficulty arises with regard to conferring the full ‘rights of Commonwealth citizenship on coloured people who are naturalized in the ‘ States. That is the only question we need discuss.
– And it may be discussed when Senator Higgs’ amendment is proposed.
– I hope there is no determination to take a division in this very thin House without discussing the amendment which strikes at the whole of the Bill. I am quite willing to report progress in order that the question may be thoroughly discussed, and that there may be no undue haste in arriving at a decision. On general principles it is not fair to take the decision of the Committee on this important matter without discussion. There is no senator who would not object to a motion of his own being put to the vote without discussion ; and here we have a Government Bill of the most important character, and a far-reaching amendment of which no notice was given.
– Senator Downer has told us that he gave notice of a similiar amendment yesterday.
– A general opinion has been expressed in the course of the discussion that a particular class of the population in one State should be admitted to the citizenship of the Commonwealth without any test whatever.
– The PostmasterGeneral should not forget that we are in Committee on his own motion.
– We are not in Committee on my motion. According to our standing orders the representative of the Government does not move that the House go into Committee. However, I am quite willing to report progress now.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Before a motion to report progress is submitted, I should like to point out, with all respect, that the course suggested by the Postmaster-General is really trifling with the business of the Committee.
– Not at all.
– This matter hasbeen debated at great length. Senator Higgshas said that he does not suppose there is a senator, except the Postmaster-General, who is in favour of the clause as it stands. The Committee almost unanimously support the amendment ; and the question of how far the clause should extend is very debatable. There is great gain in taking the clause by stages. We are all agreed that the word “naturalized “ should be struck out in order to have the whole subject discussed, and that uniformity of citizenship ought to be extended to those persons who have been naturalized in the States.
– With a proviso.
– But, whatever becomes of the amendment, an opportunity will be afforded to honorable senators of voting against the clause. It would be better to amend the clause so far as we are agreed, and then, if either or both of the amendments be negatived, there will be, as I say, the opportunity of voting against the clause. If there was any difference of opinion, which had not been exhaustively discussed, it would be desirable not to go further; but, as pointed out by Senator Downer, the whole intention of the clause is to give the Government of the day the power to take away a citizenship already conferred by the States. Nobody contemplated anything of the kind, but that is the effect of the clause. It has been contended that this Commonwealth citizenship ought not to be extended to the Chinese ; but we must not forget that the whole spirit of the Constitution is against any such discrimination. Section 117 of the Constitution is as follows : -
A subject of the Queen, resident in any State, shall not be subject in any other State to any disability or discrimination which would not be equally applicable to him if be were a subject of the Queen residing in any other such State.
– There is a difference between Victoria and the other States in the matter of coloured aliens.
– Under Che Constitution we may refuse the franchise, but we can no more discriminate against a Chinese British subject who has been naturalized in Queensland, and has moved to South Australia or Western Australia, than we can against a British-born subject.
– Victoria has an extra, member in the Federal Parliament on account of the naturalized Chinamen in that State.
– I am not dealing with that point, but urging that the spirit of the Constitution is against discrimination in citizenship. This clause must be applied all round or not at all ; and it would be impossible to give the full citizenship . in the case of the German residents, and limit it in the case of the naturalized Chinese electors in Queensland.
– It is not Queensland, but Victoria.
– I mean Victoria or any other State. We cannot discriminate, and we have no right to set up the Federal Government as a court of review upon the decisions of the States Governments. We have heard about State rights and friction, and disappointment with the Commonwealth, but we could not more grossly insult the Governments of the States than by introducing such a discrimination. It would be an affront which the States Governments would bitterly resent ; and we ought to take the earliest opportunity of expunging this provision from the Bill. 1 hope there will be a division on the one question, whether we shall place in the hands of the Commonwealth Government of the, day power to condemn a State Government for having conferred citizenship on some of its residents. The amendment will save the Government from a delicate and difficult position in which, if they exercised the powers they ask for, they might be exposed to great humiliation.
-I shall support the amendment proposed by Senator Symon, provided the words suggested by Senator Higgs be added.
– But my amendment must be dealt with first, and the honorable senator can finally vote against the clause.
– I wish to make my position quite clear. When the Electoral Bill was before us I objected to give any coloured man a vote. The coloured races know nothing of our laws and care less ; if they do try to make themselves acquainted with our laws it is usually for the purpose of evading them. If the Chinese have votes they exercise a privilege to which in my opinion they have no right. I cannot see that any insult could possibly be. given to the States Governments by excluding them. It might just as well be said that we insulted a State Government every time we differed from it. Most of the naturalization laws of the various States are pretty ancient, and the chances are that, if they came under review now, they would be considerably altered.
– The South Australian naturalization law was revised in 1893.
– But Australia is a progressive country, and much may happen in ten years. I notice that the naturalization law of the. United Kingdom is 33 years old, and it is probable that any amendments now made would be in a liberal or democratic direction. I shall vote against Senator Symon’s amendment unless I feel sure that the words suggested by Senator Higgs will.be added.
– There seems to be a strong desire to snatch a victory against the Government under present conditions. I should like to have a little time to consider the position. There are practically three amendments before the Committee. If the question were pressed this afternoon, I should vote against Senator Symon, although I am strongly inclined to his opinion. But when the representative of the Government asks for time, and says that he considers that this is’ a vital principle of the Bill, as a matter of courtesy we should accede to his wish.
Senate adjourned at 4.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030703_senate_1_14/>.