1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator STYLES presented a petition from the Women’s Federal Political Association of Victoria, praying the Senate to amend the Naturalization Bill as regards the status of married women.
SenatorDRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report of the Commissioner on the distribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions, and the number of electors in such divisions, with a map showing the names and boundaries of each division.
Amendment of public service regulation respecting travelling allowances to certain officers.
Amendment of public service regulation regarding examinations held under section 21.
– I have not got the information with mo now, but I shall make inquiries and give it to-morrow, if it is ready.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, when he expects to be in a position to lay upon the table the Commissioner’s map showing the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions?
– I cannot tell the honorable member now, but I shall find out for him to-morrow.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Government consider the wisdom., of asking the opinions of the policemagistrates in the various States who have dealt with such prosecutions -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee: (Recommittal). Considera tion resumed from 2nd July, vide page 1703.
Clause 2 (as requested to be amended) -
There shall bepaid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, in the production of which sugar-came or beet white labour only has been employed for a period ot twelve mouths immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture, a bonus, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such sugar-cane or beet delivered for manufacture after the commencement of this Act and before the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven. Provided that no bonus shall be paid in respect of the production of sugar on land which has been cultivated by other than white labour after a bonus has been paid in respect of the production of sugar thereon.
Upon which Senator Drake had moved -
That the resolution “ That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by omitting the words ‘after the twenty-eighth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and three,’” and by inserting in lieu thereof the words “ for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture,” be rescinded.
– We are all equally interested in maintaining the Constitution, and as a part of the Constitution the rights of the Senate. I am sure that in discussing this very important constitutional point we shall realize the obligations we are under to those who have spoken before, and will arrive at the best considered conclusion we can, remembering that we are all as one here, and wish to come to results that will carry out the intention of the Constitution and be just to ourselves. We heard the views of the Chairman of Committees and the very carefully considered views which Senator Baker furnished to us, and the consideration of them must have brought back to those of us who took part in the framing of the Constitution the whole circumstances out of which the present law originated. When in the United States the question arose of forming the Federation, which was ultimately arrived at there, the smaller and less populous States entertained a great fear of the larger States arrogating to themselves too great authority, and of, as a result, the superior populations wiping out the entities of the smaller States and making them entirely subordinate to the mere vote of a physical majority without reference to where they came from. They surrounded themselves with all manner of precautions to prevent anything of the kind occurring, being determined that the sovereign entities of the States should be preserved, and that the Federal authority should only have the powers reposed in them. Thesame discussions occurred afterwards in Switzerland, Canada, and other places, including Australia. Throughout the discussions, from 1891 up to the time when the Commonwealth Bill was finally framed, there was the same undeviating determination on the part of those who represented the less populous colonies that the Federation should not be carried to the extent of amalgamation, and that the powers of each of the States, as far as their powers properly went, should be carefully maintained. Senator Baker had some part in this, and I had some part in it also. The whole of the smaller States, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia, came to the determination’to follow in no way the precedents of the Lords and Commons, or of the Legislative Councils and Houses of Assembly in our ordinary local Legislatures ; but to establish as a States House a Senate, as nearly as circumstances would permit coequal in authority with the branch of the Legislature which represented the people as a whole. That was practically conceded after the efforts made by the representatives of the larger States to take the whole money question away from the States House, to put it entirely in the hands of the House of the people, and to minimize to the greatest extent the power which was sought to be reposed in the Senate. That was the standard around which the war raged, and out of which came the present Constitution, under which the Senate has no analogy at all to the Lords and Commons, or to the Legislative Councils and Houses of Assembly in ordinary constitutional’ government. It has some analogy to the Senate in America, but that is an analogy which varies in a large degree from the necessary differences in the circumstances of the two nations. There was much discussion on the subject in 1891, and when we resumed at the Federal Convention which produced the present Constitution, we proceeded largely on the basis of the Bill of 1891.
– Scarcely any alteration was made in this respect ; the Convention only re-drafted the section.
– Very little . alteration was made. Substantially the section stands as it came to us from the Conference of 1891. It provides that the two Houses shall be co-equal in their jurisdiction and in their authority, except that for the purpose of convenience certain classes of Bills can only be introduced into one House, and are not to be left to be dealt with haphazard, wandering about in the hands of one Minister or another according to whether he is a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives. The cardinal principle was that this was a matter of convenience, and not a matter of the Senate sacrificing any authority so as to put itself in the humiliating position in which the Lords are in England as compared with the Commons. In the case of the Lords and the Commons, as honorable senators know, there is no law bearing upon the subject of Money Bills. The Lords used to have the greater authority because they had the power to exercise it. Later on the Commons had the greater authority for identically the same reason - that they had the power to exercise it. But the Constitution of England is made up entirely of conventions and understandings that have come about from the stronger power time after time asserting its authority and winning. We had all this before us when the Constitution was framed, and we wanted to make a written law which would prevent misunderstandings as much as possible. As a result we have got the Constitution as it is before us at the present time, in which there are certain limitations that were imposed for the purpose of convenience, and not for the purpose of reducing the authority of the Senate. Certain limitations were put upon us of a very small character when they come to be considered, and great general powers were given to us. And the limitations were imposed in a most careful way. For instance, although as a matter of convenience it was enacted that Bills for the ordinary services of the year should emanate from one House, and should not be amended by the Senate, there was nothing to prevent Bills relating to the appropriation of revenue and for other purposes being introduced in the Senate. This was accentuated by an express provision in the Constitution providing for the Governor - General sending down a message recommending an appropriation to either House which would have no point in the world unless either House had the power of appropriating. That is the general view which I take. The question before us now seems to be, when one thinks about it carefully, reduced to the smallest compass. Ordinary Appropriation Bills originate in the other House, and we cannot amend them. There is no doubt about that. Bills for taxation have to originate in the other House, and we cannot amend them.
– As a matter of convenience.
– It was all a matter of convenience as far as that is concerned, but I am dealing with what it is. Then comes this provision -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It looks as though the framers of the Constitution contemplated a third kind of law, which might be passed, of which one of the incidents - whether the principal one or not - might be a proposed charge or burden upon the people ; and when the matter was being discussed, as Senator Baker has pointed out, just to show what was intended by it, the leader of the Convention stated -
The Senate is not deprived of the power of amending appropriations, except in respect to the ordinary annual services of the Government. In order that it may have that power in full efficiency, it is intended by this sub-clause to confine the annual Appropriation Act to such matters as relate to the ordinary annual services of the Government ; so that appropriations apart from that may be dealt with in the ordinal way.
Then Sir John Forrest said -
Loan Bills, for instance ?
And Sir Edmund Barton replied-
That may be so.
That is the way in which the matter was left. What have we before us now? We have two Bills before us, one dealing with rebates of duties and the other with bonuses. We have practically passed the Rebate Bill, and we have the Bonus Bill before us. The question is - Has the Senate the power to amend the Bonus Bill in the way proposed by my honorable friend, Senator Glassey? I say that we have, and that we shall be false to the trust the people have reposed in us if we sacrifice, withoutthe most thoughtful consideration, our general authority to amend any Bill that is brought into this Chamber, except so far as such Bill may be especially provided for in the
Constitution. “We may put the question in a nutshell, and avoid a very great deal of debatable ground that might have to be covered in different circumstances. The Bill that is before us proposes to place no burden on the people. That- is my first proposition. Senator Glassey’s amendment proposes to place no burden on the people. The burden is already on the people. It was placed on the people by the laws in force now providing for a tax of .£6 per ton on imported sugar and an excise duty of £3 per ton on local sugar, with a rebate of £.2 when that sugar is grown by white labour. The tax being already on the people, does this amendment propose to increase it ? Suppose these Bills are carried, will the people suffer by a single halfpenny ? Of course not ; and it is not intended that they should. I admit that the allocation is intended to be different, but that has nothing to do with the principle we are dealing with, which is, whether a burden will be placed upon the people as a result of these two Bills. The general burden upon the people imposed by the taxation at present in force will not be increased by a single halfpenny. The distribution of the burden may be affected, but that is an accident, and it does not affect the constitutional question. These two Bills come to us at the same time. I do not suppose that it will be contended by any one who denies our right to amend that the other House, by dividing the subject-matter of any such legislation into two Bills, could alter our authority ; because that would be a trick, I should think. Suppose they sent up a Bonus Bill and a Rebate Bill, separately, for the purpose of preventing the Senate from exercising its legitimate right of amendment. Probably we should do what. we are doing now - consider the two Bills, and take care that our right of amendment was co-equal with what the Constitution intended us to have, and not allow the mere form in which the matter was brought up to defeat our right to make amendments. Although this question of whether we can effect our purpose by amendment or by request, may be said by many to be a mere matter of form - though some may say, “ What difference does it make ? A request is quite as good as an amendment” - it is not so. When we admit that we cannot make amendments we admit our inferiority. When we admit that we can only act by request, we admit that we have to throw ourselves on the mercy of another place to grant our request. Although this incident may not be very important in itself, still it is important as a precedent, and I would ask honorable senators to recollect that all of us should fight for the rights of the Senate, seeing that the Senate lives as much on the strict letter of the Constitution as on the conventions that accompany the Constitution. The Senate of the United States was made more important through the conventions which came from the power of the Senate, than practically from the strict letter of the law which established that body ; and it would be a very bad thing if, at almost the first time in our career in which the question arose as to our power of amendment, we should make a mistake. I do not put it any stronger than that. I am perfectly sure that the view which the Chairman of Committees put to honorable senators so clearly and so well he holds conscientiously. That view was also stated in the Conventions of from 1891 up to the time the Commonwealth Bill was carried, by many Victorians, but the form the Constitution Act took was influenced greatly by the action of the less populous colonies. The President has given us in his very able paper, excellent in matter, perfect in judgment, and most discreet and kindly in forms of expression, a very complete exposition, for which we are much obliged to him, as to what the relative positions of the Houses ought to be on questions of this kind: I am contending now for the rights of our own House. I say we have a right to amend this Bill. We put no burden on the people. A burden on the people has to be imposed in a direct form ; it may be by a taxation Bill. That is a direct burden placed on the people. An appropriation of revenue does not place a burden on the people, and this is shown to be so by the Constitution itself, as the President has pointed out, because it is there provided that a message may come to us recommending an appropriation of revenue. The two things are distinct])- and entirely different. Away, therefore, goes the argument that we are unable to allocate any revenue. Even if that argument were not in itself conclusive, I think, as the President has pointed out, that we have a simpler one, and one which goes closer home, in the fact that this Bill seeks to place no burden on the people. It leaves the burden just where it was before, but it alters the allocation. So far as the people are concerned, the burden is the same. Burdens on the people are moneys which the Crown raises for certain purposes. It all has to go through the Crown, although the Crown may pay the money raised to other people. All burdens on the people are burdens imposed by the Crown. Here it makes no difference whether the Crown gets the money under the existing law or under the amended law : the amount the Crown will receive will be identically the same. Therefore, the people will not suffer, and no burden will be placed on them. This is practically all I have to say at the present time. I desired, without speaking at length, to put the matter as simply as I could in the way in which it occurred to me. I hope that as we are all considering the question together, and we verv much appreciate the views both of the Chairman of Committees and the President, we shall come to the conclusion that the view taken by the President expresses the intention of the Constitution, and that we shall adopt it accordingly-
-I only wish that I could agree with my honorable and learned friend Senator Downer in this matter. I suppose there is no senator present who would be more resolute in claiming all legitimate rights and privileges on behalf of the House of which he is a member than I would. But this is not a question of conventions. It is a question of hard law, of constitutional law laid down, of a rigid statement of our rights and privileges. And we have at the present time to be especially careful that we do not claim rights that we cannot properly show we have within the four corners of the Constitution. We must be especially careful upon that point. I have listened with considerable attention to the views expressed by Senator Downer, and I had the advantage also of hearing the President deliver a most able statement of the case from his point of view. It was a statement, however, at the close of which the honorable and learned senator showed that he had doubts - I do not know whether I may not even go to the length of saying extreme doubts - whether the view he enunciated in the first part- of his speech could be absolutely borne out. The President is clearly not sure of the position. I had the advantage of being in the Convention of 1891. I was there the first to suggest to Sir Henry Parkes a way out of the difficulty when one section of the Convention was determined, as far as it could, to lessen the power of the Senate, and another party in the Convention was endeavouring, as far as possible, to increase its power. That was the position in the Convention of 1891, as has been stated by Senator Downer. I suggested to Sir Henry Parkes that a way out of the difficulty and a compromise might be found by following the example set by South Australia, when, in the Parliament of that State, a conflict occurred between the two Houses on a question of the right of one House to amend Money Bills. A compact entered into between the two Houses of that Parliament by which, in dealing with Money Bills, the Legislative Council had the right of making suggestions in the form of requests. The clause of the Commonwealth Bill, as passed in the Convention of 1891, although to some extent modified in section 53 of the Constitution under which we are working, contained practically everything that is found in that section relating to Money Bills. There is really nothing different ; even the point of dispute on the subject of a proposed change increasing the burdens on the people was stated word for word as we have it in the present Constitution. The question is in a nutshell. There is not the slightest doubt in 1113’ mind on the subject, and since we last met I have given the matter great thought, and have read carefully the sections of the Constitution connected with it in an endeavour to come to as just, fair, and impartial a conclusion as I could. That there are certain Bills which we cannot amend is unmistakable. There is no getting away from the language of the Constitution upon the matter -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
That is absolute. That is a class of Bills which we cannot amend, but we can make requests for their amendment. Then there is another class of Bills dealt with in the third paragraph of the section.
The Senate “may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
That covers another class of Bill which we may amend in every particular but one. The whole of this question hinges on the one point : Does the amendment which we have embodied in the clause of the Bill under consideration at the instigation of Senator Glassey increase the burdens on the people t
– “Who is to be the judge of that ?
– Our common sense is to be the judge of that, and I think it will be brought to bear on the subject.
– What is common sense “is determined by a majority vote of the Senate.
– Quite right. J3ut still I am entitled to my opinion. Even if I stood alone the honorable senator would not try to deprive me of the right to my opinion, and to express it as well as I possibly can. Senator Downer has asked the question - “Will the people suffer by this amendment?” That is the gist of the matter. They will suffer if the amendment increases the burdens on them, and so it comes to the same thing. Let us look at the question. The Bill makes provision for certain payments in the form of a bonus. In the form of a bonus the money is to come - from where ? Prom the consolidated revenue. What is the consolidated revenue, and what does it consist of? Of moneys which the people have paid in taxation. We have advanced so far that the consolidated revenue is money which the people have paid in taxation.
– And in services.
– And in fines.
– The Government proposed to limit the expenditure on the bonus by fixing a date, March of this year, beyond which any one who has not registered himself as a grower of sugar-cane by white labour cannot participate in this appropriation from the consolidated revenue, or from the taxes on the people. What does Senator Glassey’s amendment do ? It proposes to extend that time, and so allow a considerable number of others - we do not know how many ; it may be a great many or but a few - to clip their hands into the consolidated revenue, which is a fund derived from taxation upon the people. The effect of that will be to increase - what? The amount spent out of the consolidated revenue. Honorable senators will all admit that. Now, how is the consolidated revenue 4;o be dealt with. Under the Constitution, it is to be dealt with by the Treasurer in a certain way. After he has taken from that revenue sufficient to pay for the necessary expenses of the Commonwealth, he is bound to hand the surplus back to the States. To the extent, therefore, that the amendment which we have inserted in this Bill decreases the amount the Treasurer will be able to give back to the different Slates, the different States will be affected, and they will have to make up any deficiency by special taxation of their own. Who therefore, will say that this particular amendment does not impose a burden of taxation upon the people, and that this Bill does not come within the category of Bills which the Senate may not amend under the provision I have quoted -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
This is a special charge on the consolidated revenue which was never contemplated by the Bill as introduced, and it will have to be made up by special taxation by the different States. It will, therefore, to 1113’ mind, unmistakably increase the burden on the people. I do not see how senators can get away from that. It is all very well for Senator Downer to say, “Will the people suffer?” Of course they will suffer. They will suffer to the extent to which the consolidated revenue will be trenched upon by the operation of this amendment. This, therefore, brings the Bill within the category of those which the Senate may amend in every respect but one. As a Senate we have no power and no right to amend any Bill of that category in such a way as to increase a burden on the people. It all rests upon this question - Does the amendment increase the burden on the people? I quite agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that it does. Would it be worth while for us to come into conflict with another place in regard to a question of this kind without viewing the matter from every aspect 1 I am giving the Senate the conclusion I have arrived at, not because I do not desire to uphold every right and privilege which the Senate properly possesses within the four corners of the Constitution, but because the commonsense interpretation of paragraph (3) of section 53 of the Constitution unmistakably leads me to the opinion that the amendment would increase the burden on the people - that the people would have to pay for it. I fail to see how any common-sense men could arrive at any other conclusion. The argument is in a nutshell, and I am certainly of opinion , that we shall make a mistake if we send the amendment to another place as one which we have an absolute right, under the Constitution, to make. There is an even more difficult point in connexion with this matter in regard to which a great deal more is to be said than many honorable senators thought when it was first put forward by the PostmasterGeneral. For some time I could not follow the gist of the Postmaster-General’s argument, hut having read what he said, and given consideration to the matter, I think that there is possibly a great deal more in the contention than some honorable senators are inclined to admit. It was that we have not the power to amend this Bill, so as to increase the burden on the people, nor to make a request in regard to it. We have no power to amend a Bill in the direction of increasing the burden on the people ; paragraph (3) of section 53 is unmistakably clear in regard to that point. But when we come to the question of whether we have a right to make a request in regard to such a Bill, we find that there is certainly nothing within the section which gives us that right. So far as Bills that we may not amend are concerned, it is clearly laid down that we can request another place to amend them ; but there is no provision with regard to Bills that we may amend, except that which says that we cannot amend them so as to increase the burden on the people. By parity of reasoning the Minister says that, that being the case, it is arguable - and, so far as he is concerned, he believes the point is a strong one - that we cannot make a request in regard to any Bill, except one that we may not amend, and that this measure does not come within that category.
– That is correct.
– I would point out to the Postmaster-General the awkward position in which we should be placed by the adoption of that reading of the Constitution. From a common-sense view of the position, it would be absurd to agree to that conclusion, although I do not say that, viewing the question according to the strict letter of the law, the PostmasterGeneral may not be absolutely right. There are several important kinds of Bills which we may not amend, but we may make requests in regard to them. There is another class of Bills which we may amend, but not. so as to increase the burden on the people. And surely if the Constitution provides that we may make a request with regard to the more important Money Bills, it cannot deprive us of the right to make requests in relation to Money Bills of less importance. Therefore, allowing our common sense to guide us in this matter, it must be seen that it would certainly be illogical to give the Senate a. right to request the amendment of the most important Money Bill that could come before us, and, at the same time, to deprive it of the right to request the amendment of other Bills in the direction of increasing the burden on the people.
– But we cannot amend those Money Bills in the direction of increasing the burden on the people.
– We may make a. request for such an amendment.
– Not in that direction.
– Section 53 provides that -
The Senate may, at any stage, return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
It does not provide that we may not request any amendment that would increase or lessen the proposed taxation, but rather that we may make any suggestion that we please in regard to the matter. That point appears to me to be very clear, and in that respect the interjection made by the Minister will not bear close investigation.
– What I meant to say was that the Senate may not amend any proposed law - any Money Bill - so as to increase the burden on the people.
-If we adopt your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we shall not say thatwe have a right to amend the clause in question, so as to increase the burden on the people, but we shall say that we have a perfect right to make a request to another place in regard to the matter. The conclusion at which’ I have arrived, after carefully considering the question, is that we have a right to make a request, and I hope that the Senate will take care that, in asserting what it believes to be a right, it is perfectly sure of the grounds of its. belief, and that the law of the Commonwealth is on its side.
– With :611 due respect to the contention that lias been put forward by Senator Playford- a contention which is evidently the result of a very careful consideration of the remarks made by you, Mr. Chairman, and by the President in regard to this question - I must say that T cannot agree with him. It seems to rae that the honorable senator has ignored what perhaps lias been the most pertinent argument as to the construction of the words “any proposed charge or burden on the people,” which has yet been offered during the course of this debate. I refer to the construction put upon them by the President. In dealing with those words the President has pointed out that according to the construction of similar words used elsewhere, they mean a charge or burden directly falling upon the immediate taxpayer. I take it that there can be no other construction placed upon those words that would make that particular portion of section 53 of the Constitution workable. In order to give effect to his arguments, Senator Playford has had to resort to this process : first of all, he -tells us that there is a certain amount of revenue collected, and he asserts that Senator Glassey’s proposal, having for its object the distribution of the bonus among a large number of people, if carried, “ may possibly “ - those were his words - be availed of by a larger number of persons than would be entitled to the bonus if the Bill passed without that amendment. He lias, first of all, to resort to the possibility that the effect of the amendment will be to distribute the bonus among a great many more people.
– There is no doubt about it.
– Then he says that, in the event of that contingency, a certain number of people whom the Bill would not otherwise permit to do .so will be enabled to dip their hands into the consolidated revenue. He argues thence that the surplus returned to the several States will be less than it otherwise would be, and from that he infers that as a result of the amendment, there will be a burden on the people. If these words “ burden on the people “ are capable of such a construction - if we have to go by such a process of analysis through the ultimate ramifications of the possible results of a certain piece of legislation - we do not know what particular enactment that may come before us will be susceptible of amendment by us owing to that construction of section 53. The honorable senator has to go through all these ramifications until he reaches the condition of affairs in which the States Treasuries might receive less than they otherwise would receive, and because they would receive less than they otherwise would secure, Senator Playford says that the people of those States would necessarily have a burden placed’ upon them by this amendment. If we are to resort to a system of ultimate analyses like that, in connexion with every amendment before us, in order to determine whether such amendment may not have in its ultimate result effects such as Senator Playford mentions, scarcely any measure will come before us in regard’ to which it may not be contended that we are incapable of amending it. The “charge” involved in this amendment, if anything at all, is .not a charge or burden on the people., It is, as has been pointed out in the course of the debate, a charge on the- consolidated revenue. I contend that the “charge or burden “ on the people referred to in section 53 is, as has been pointed out by the President, an impost that directly falls upon the immediate taxpayer. The burden must be one in regard to which there can be no possible doubt prima facie, because the advocates of different policies would contend, as the President has pointed out, that the results of certain classes of fiscal legislation would impose a burden on one set of people, while another cult would contend that the burden would fall on the shoulders of another section of the people or on all. The argument that the effect of this amendment, if carried, will be simply to allocate amongst the people of the Commonwealth the cost of the maintenance of the bonus system on principles which are different from those which have hitherto prevailed with regard to the rebate, seems to me to meet practically the whole of the contention put forward by Senator Playford. In point of fact the revenue will be there. What will actually be increased by this amendment, if it is carried, is the remission of that revenue - the remission of that charge. Honorable senators may call it a bonus, a rebate, or whatever they please, but what will actually be increased by allowing an extra number of sugar-growers to come in and participate in this bonus will be the remission of the revenue. There will be an increased remission or return of revenue to individuals, but there will be no increased imposition of taxation on the people ; there will be no increased amount of revenue drawn from the pockets of the people. It may be that from the Treasuries of certain States there will be an increased draft into the consolidated revenue of the Commonwealth. That, however, will occur only in the case of certain States. That increased draft will not necessarily be from the pockets of the people of those States, but, even if it were, I contend that it would not come within paragraph (3) of section 53 of the Constitution, which says -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
That obviously must mean on the people of Australia, not on the people of South Australia, or the people of Victoria, or the people of Western Australia, which hitherto have not been contributing as much to the rebate in proportion to their population as the other States. So that the increase, according to my argument, will be an increase in the return, remission, or rebate of the revenue, or bonus, or whatever it may be called. Therewill be no increase in the charge on the people of the Commonwealth. There will be no increase in the taxation of the people of the Commonwealth. There will be, if anything, a decrease, because the amount of taxation that would be paid ultimately would be simply the amount of excise duty payable on white-grown sugar. Under the circumstances, I contend that this constitutional limitation on the power of the Senate is obviously intended to apply to legislation which has for its direct and ultimate object an increase of the taxation of the people, not an increase of a remission of duty, or an increase of a bonus : nor has it any application to any particular legislation for the appropriation of certain moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund other than for the ordinary annual services of the Government. During the course of my remarks I heard an interjection, when I said that the first thing which Senator Playford did was to point out that the effect of Senator Glassey’s amendment, if carried, might be to increase the number of participants in the bonus. We have to construe strictly the limitation in the section, which reads -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase -
It does not say “ which is calculated to increase,” or “ which is likely to increase,” or “ which would tend to increase ; “ but it says “ so as to increase “ - any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It was with regard to that I took exception to the first step in Senator Playford’s argument, when he said that the effect of Senator Glassey’s amendment might be that a larger number of persons would be enabled to dip their hands into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– Not “ might” but “would.”
– The honorable senator used the word “might” or “may” in his argument, and I contend that under the section which places a limitation on the powers of the Senate the amendment must be of such a character that it unmistakably and inevitably would of itself increase the taxation of the people, and that it is not a question of contemplating the possibilities and the effects of the legislation, and pursuing it out by analysis and hypotheses, such as the honorable senator followed, that we are to determine whether the amendment is of a character to come within the clause, and the limitation of the powers of the Senate.
– I regret that the only members of the legal profession who have spoken to this question have favoured the view of Senator Baker, and that the laymen have taken the opposite view. Senator Downer asks us to consider those who fought for the rights of the Senate at the Convention. They did well, but they did not succeed in getting all they wanted, and perhaps it is just as well for the people of the Commonwealth that they did not succeed in bolstering up the Senate in the way they desired. I am as anxious as anybody to protect its rights and privileges, but I think I should be going too far if I demanded all that is asked for by Senators Keating and Downer. It appears to me that a majority of honorable senators are likely, because Senator Baker made a very able deliverance, to jump to the conclusion that he is absolutely right since. they are overlooking the doubt which he expressed in these words -
Even in the British House of Commons “a charge or burden on the people “ does not mean or include appropriation of revenue. That is my point here. That is what I say the Constitution means. But when I say that I intend to qualify the statement by-and-by by a doubt which has arisen in my mind.
The honorable and learned senator went on to say that the right ofthe Senate to deal with appropriations of revenue has been admitted in the Constitution, and he quoted section 56, which I regard as a sample of bad drafting. I believe that in the Convention gentlemen like Senator Downer wished to make the Senate superior if possible to the House of Representatives.
– I believe it was their desire to provide in the Constitution that the Senate should have co-equal powers with the House of Representatives. They did not succeed. Why 1 Because throughout the Commonwealth there was a feeling that the Senate was going to be a kind of House of Lords or Legislative Council which would doits best to block the wishes of the public.
– That was a mistake.
– That was a mistaken impression ; it has turned out to be different but I do not for a moment pretend to say that it would not have been so, if the honorable and learned senator, and others who agree withhim, had had their way. I wish to draw attention to the fact that however much heandothers wished to makethe Senate co-equal in power with the other House, they did not succeed according to section 53, which says -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
Senator Baker says that an appropriation can originate in the Senate, but I hold that while section 56 does not definitely say that an appropriation may originate in the Senate, section 53 undoubtedly says that it shall not. It was here that the doubt was expressed by Senator Baker, who appeared to indicate that the only question was whether this proposal of Senator Glassey did increase the burden or charge on the people. I take the view that it does. A charge need not necessarily be a burden on the people. For instance, the President or the Chairman is charged with the duty of maintaining order and decorum in the Chamber, but a responsibility is not always a burden. A charge may be a responsibility which the taxpayers are quite willing to undertake, and may not consider a burden. The word “ charge “ was put in the Constitution by its framers, and in all probability the word was used in the House of Commons to complete what might be called a “drag-net” phrase, so that there might be no quib ling about the definition of the word “ burden.” To my mind this is a Bill appropriating revenue ; clause 2 states that it is. As Senator Playford points out, the money comes out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. All the money which is collected in the Commonwealth - licence-fees,customs duties, or excise duties - goes into one fund, and cannot be paid out without an appropriation. The consideration of that fact should enable us to get a clearer view of what our rights are in this matter.
– Does the honorable senator call the receipts of the post-office taxation?
– No ; fees for services rendered. There are differences of opinion as to whether the payments under the Sugar Bonus Bill, or, as I should prefer to call it, the Sugar Bounty Bill, if passed will come within the ordinary annual service’s of the Government. Some persons think that they will, and I am inclined to think that a good deal could be said in support of that contention.
– They will be paid under the authority of this Act.
– According to the memorandum which was prepared in the Treasury, the excise duties on sugar in the year 1902-3 amounted to £237,000; representing £30,000 paid on white-grown sugar and £207,000 paid on black-grown sugar. I ask those who propose to vote for the Senate making an amendment instead of a request to consider the point that the general taxpayers had nothing to do with the rebate ; it was not collected from them. The excise duty was paid by the sugar manufacturers, and passed into a trust account, and a portion of that sum amounting to £60,000 went back to growers of white sugar. We have abolished the rebate, and now we propose to ask the general taxpayers, through the Consolidated Revenue Fund, to pay this bounty to the white sugar-growers on a population basis.
Not only will the sugar producers pay their share, but the workers in all industries will also pay their proportion. Senator Keating considers that this may lead to a reduction in taxation, and Senator Baker seems to agree with that view. I ask honorable senators to remember that last season there was a reduced output of sugar in the Commonwealth, owing to the drought. We only produced some 99,000 tons of sugar, necessitating the importation of 81,000 tons of foreign-grown sugar. That foreign sugar gave us a revenue of £486,000. Next season the output of locally-grown sugar in the Commonwealth may be30,000 tons more than it was last year. If 30,000 tons more sugar are. produced locally, probably 30,000 tons less will be imported.
– The excise duty will be paid on the extra 30,000 tons produced locally.
– If the extra sugar production renders unnecessary the importation of 30,000 tons of sugar, the general public, who have to pay these bounties, will lose £180,000 in revenue, and in addition to that, it 30,000 tons extra are produced by white labour, the public will have to pay £60,000 extra in bounties. Honorable senators must see that a larger sum will have to be paid in bounties or bonuses, and that a smaller sum will be received in Customs revenue, and that this will necessitate an extra burden or charge upon the general public. Without a doubt Senator Glassey’s amendment means that it will bring under the operation of the Bill an extra number of white sugar-growers who will receive the bounty.
– That is intended.
– And that is the reason why some senators opposed the amendment so strongly.From whom is this money to come? If the Bill had been brought forward in a proper manner I think that we should have had an estimate furnished of what the bounties were going to cost. When the proposal for granting bounties for the production of iron was before the House of Representatives, the sum set down was £250,000. Some similar statement should have been made by the Treasurer in connexion with this Bill, showing what he expected would be the extra amount required to be paid.
– One man’s estimate would be just as good as another’s.
– If the Treasurer, in bringing forward this Bill, had said, “ I require £50,000 to paythese bounties,” we should have known that Senator Glassey’s amendment, by enlarging the area over which the payments have to be made, would render it necessary for a larger sum to be provided by the Treasurer. Therefore it would have been clear that Senator Glassey’s amendment meant an increased burden on the people. I am very anxious about this proposal, because I fear that when the Bill gets back to another place, the stand that has been taken by Senator Playford and by the Chairman will be upheld ; and I cannot think that they are wrong. If so, what will become of the Bill?
– The Government can bring in another Bill containing the amendment.
– Senator Walker may have better means of judging the temper of the other House than I have.
– They will refuse the amendment.
– Suppose we insist upon it ?
– If we insist, what becomes of the Bill? If the Bill is thrown out, or shelved, a very great injustice will be done to Queensland and New South Wales. But I do not put that as a sole reason why we should make Senator Glassey’s proposal as a request. If it is right that we should make an amendment let us make it ; but do not let us make it because the President has delivered a very eloquent speech, and honorable senators have lost sight of the doubt expressed by him as to whether we have a right to make an amendment. We ought to consider the matter very closely. If honorable senators look at it from the stand-point that all the money collected goes into the consolidated revenue, and that out of that fund must come the bounties paid, it will be seen that the amendment, by increasing the area of the bounties increases the burden on the people. Some honorable senators seem to think that if the Government collect from the public £9,000,000, and allocate £50,000 of it for a certain purpose, and the whole of the sum so allocated is not used, it must be spent in some way or other. If the Government do not use the whole of the money allocated for the sugar-growers, they will have a right to return it to the people, unless the people instruct them to spend it for some public purpose. Because the money is there it must not be considered that the Government must spend it whether it is wanted or not. I very much regret that the present position has arisen, because I am afraid that it may lead to a deadlock.
– I understand that it is admitted that Senator Glassey’s proposal will increase the number of those who are to be paid £2 a ton for the growth of sugar by white labour. Senator Baker, the other night, advanced tlie argument which has been repeated by Senator Keating to-day, that Senator Glassey’s proposal may be regarded as not increasing the burden on the people. Ho pointed out that probably the result would be to increase the output of Australian sugar, which would pay £3 per ton, and to decrease the quantity of .imported sugar, upon which £6 per ton is paid. But that, as has been pointed out by Senator Higgs, would probably leave a shortage in the revenue. That shortage would have to be made up by the States by direct taxation, if they want the revenue which they are now collecting. If they do not want it, so much the better for them. Surely common sense tells us that if the Commonwealth pays £100,000 a year in bonuses, that must be a burden on the people who pay it. It must come out of the pockets of the taxpayers. It is paid into the pockets of a certain small section of the taxpayers. Senator Glassey’s amendment, if it means anything at all, means that that small section will be increased, and, consequently, the amount of taxes paid by the people of the States will be increased. Senator Keating very cleverly argued that Senator Glassey’s proposal would not increase the burden on the people. I think that what was running in the honorable and learned senator’s mind was chat the amount was not very great. I have heard the increase estimated at £30,000.
– No ; the present duties were running in my mind, and I wanted to see how they were going to be increased.
– If the present duties are not increased, and the money is required by the States - presumably it is required or this Parliament has acted unwisely in imposing the duties - theStates will have to make it good from other sources if the amount now collected is reduced. Take an extreme case. The sum of £60,000 was paid in rebates last year. Suppose wehad to pay £100,000. Would not that be an increased burden on the people? What is the object of Senator Glassey’s proposal, except to increase the number’ of those who will receive the bonus ? That bonus will have to be paid by the people to an increased amount, and therefore an increased burden will be placed on them.
– I was sorry to hear the speech of Senator Styles, who supported my amendment so heartily the other day. If his speech means anything, it means that, by the adoption of my amendment, instead of the Commonwealth paying £60,000 in bonuses, as was the case last year, it will have to pay £100,000 next year. Senator Styles fancies that the extra- £40,000 will have to be made up by the States in some way or other, and that Victoria will have to pay her quota. Consequently he argues that my amendment involves an extra burden on the people. That does not follow at all. At present £3 pelton excise is levied. That is to be continued for a certain time. All I want is that certain persons who have not yet registered shall be allowed to participate in the benefit of the bonus of £2 per ton when their contracts with the kanakasexpire. That is the point. It is not merely a question with regard to theextra burden on the people or with regard to whether my proposal should take the form of an amendment or a request. It is a question merely of a greater numberparticipating’ in the bonus. The amendment increases the number who may benefit, but the bonus paid to thegrowers who may be able to claim it under the amendment will not be a new tax. It will merely be an appropriation out of the moneys already levied in accordance with the Act passed last year. I hope Senator Styles will not follow up theremarks he has just made by reversing thedecision which he gave the other day. My object is to give those people who have notalready registered, and who could not register under the circumstances, an opportunity of doing so, that they may be enabled todraw £2 per ton out of the £3 excise duty in the same way as those who have already registered, on complying with the stipulated conditions. The question which hasarisen is whether we may amend this-
Bill, or make a request for its amendment, and on that question the President has given an opinion which has to-day been very strongly supported by Senator Downer. There are two kinds cf Bills which the Senate may not amend. First of all, there are the proposals of the Treasurer every year when he submits the general taxation scheme which is initiated in another place. That is a measure which we cannot amend. That is a proposal for a charge or burden to be levied throughout the year for ordinary purposes. We may not amend, but we can request the amendment of such a measure. Secondly, there is the Appropriation Bill, which comes before the Senate at the end of the year, and which we cannot amend according to the view of the President, supported by Senator Downer, and held also by Senator Keating and other honorable senator’s. The President drew a very wide distinction between an amendment of a Bill involving an alteration of the allocation of revenue and an amendment involving an increase of a proposed charge or burden on the people. The distinction drawn was very clear, and honorable senators should not lose sight of the point made. After reading the excellent exposition of the President, and after following the speech made. by. Senator Downer in support of it, I think this is a Bill which we can amend, and I shall support that conclusion by my vote. With regard to the amendment which the Senate generously carried on my motion, I hope honorable senators will adhere to the decision arrived at. From information which has reached me to-day, I am not at all without hope that that amendment will be adopted in another place, and embodied in the law. In my judgment it is a wise and equitable proposal, and one which from information I have received from different parts of the country will give satisfaction to the State of Queensland. If that amendment does not find a place in the Bill, I am satisfied that the working of the sugar industry by means of white labour will be retarded, a considerable amount of dissatisfaction will prevail in the different sugar districts of the country, and great injustice will be done to a number of persons who desire to carry out the intention and the will of the people of Australia by working their plantations and farms by means of white labour if they are afforded a practicable opportunity of doing so. On the constitutional question whether an amendment should be inserted in this Bill, or a request should be made for its amendment, after listening to those most competent to speak upon constitutional matters in the Senate, I have come to the conclusion that the Bill should be amended, and that there should not be merely a request sent to another place with regard to a proposal which, I am pleased to say, the Senate adopted at my suggestion.
– As one of the jurymen of the Senate, after listening to the eloquent addresses delivered by some of the legal members of the Senate, and especially to the splendid address we bad from the President, I should like to say a few words. I think I can say without creating any feeling of jealousy in the minds of other legal members of the Senate that from the constitutional stand-point we have had nothing since the Senate became a legislative body to equal the address given by the President. It was clear, concise, and the reasoning was of such a character that laymen could follow it easily. I must say that many doubts in my mind have been cleared away by that piece of reasoning by the President. I was disappointed that at the close of his address the honorable and learned senator should have expressed some doubt as to the position he took up. I should like to invite from the President a further expression of- opinion on that point, because, after reading his address I fail to see any occasion for his doubt. It seems to me that the honorable and learned senator has not given us sufficient justification for the doubt which he says exists in his own mind, and if there is any further justification to be given I should like to hear it. I must express my surprise at the position which the Postmaster-General has taken up on this question. It seems to me that the honorable and learned senator contends that there are three classes of Bills contemplated by the Constitution - Bills which we have the power to amend, Bills which we have not the power to amend, but upon which we may request amendments; and Bills that we can neither amend nor request amendments in. If that is so, the Postmaster-General can. certainly claim to be the discoverer of the latter class of Bills.
– But it is not so ; the honorable senator has not put my argument correctly. I did not say there were Bills which we might not amend nor request amendments in, but that there were Bills which -wo might not amend in one particular direction, and that we could not make requests for amendments in such Bills.
– Let me put it differently. The honorable and learned senator’s contention is that- there is a class of Bills, in respect of which, unless we wish to reduce a charge or burden involved, we cannot amend or request amendments in.
– We cannot increase the charge or burden.
– We cannot increase the burden on the people. .
– That contention is backed up by Senators Higgs and Playford.
– Their reasoning followed on the same lines, and the logical conclusion that they will find themselves forced to come to by their reasoning is that they will be compelled to take sides with Senator Drake. I wish to congratulate these three protectionist members of the Senate on having adopted a course of reasoning which will make this Senate a freetrade Chamber for all time. That is, that we can never, in any Bills which impose a burden or charge on the people, make an amendment or a request for an amendment which will have the effect of increasing the proposed charge.
– Yes, we can.
– But not so as to increase the charge or burden on the people.
– Yes, we can.
– If Senator Playford admits that we can increase an item in a Tariff Bill he is not supporting the PostmasterGeneral iti the way in which he supported him when speaking a few minutes ago. I must say that it is a most startling limitation of the powers of the Senate which those honorable senators are suggesting.
– What is that limitation ?
– That we cannot request amendments in such Bills.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– Nor did I.
– Senators Higgs and Playford seemed to indicate that that was the position they took up.
– No ; I was only stating the position which the PostmasterGeneral took up, and then I gave my reasons for saying that it would not hold water.
– I understood the honorable senator to be backing up the argument of the Postmaster-General.
– No ; Senator Playford only stated the argument.
– The honorable senator said that it was logically correct, but not according to common sense.
– I think the Senateshould not lose sight of the point which thePresident made when he showed the cleardistinction between an appropriation of revenue and taxation - that taxation is. granted for supplies to the King, and then Parliament, out of the supplies granted tothe King, proceeds to allocate the expenditure. It is not a burden On the people that we are discussing at the present time. What we are discussing is an allocation of’ the supplies granted to the King. The question of the burden on the people may have to be considered later. Supposing ouraction in allocating this expenditure isattended by such results that next year we shall find that we have not sufficient, revenue, we may then have to take into consideration the advisability of increasing the burden on the people. I say that the argument of the President on this point could not have been clearer. Those honorable senators who try to make out that in altering this Bill in the way proposed we are increasing the burden on the people cannot have read that part of the President’s argument, and, at all events, they have not attempted to reply to it. Before they attempt to prove that this amendment increases the burden on the people, they must undo the reasoning of the President if they can, and show that his contention is untenable. The honorable and learned senator has certainly backed it up by good authority. I trust that theCommittee will alter -this request to an amendment. If we look over the Convention, debates, we shall find that it was contended in the Convention by those who fought most strenuously against extended powers being; given to the Senate, and it was practicallyadmitted by them, and amongst them by Mr. Reid, one of the most stalwart champions of the House of Representatives, that they had practically given to the Senateand to the House of Representatives equal power in fact, although not in name.
– Because he contended that a request was equal to an amendment. That is not the question before us now.
– I find that on the 7th March, 1898, at the Convention held in Melbourne, Mr. Reid, as reported at page 199S of the Convention Debates, said -
I have always felt that any contention about the respective powers of the two Houses would bea positive calamity. It may - I hope it will not - yield disastrous results. The effect of the sub-section will be this : - We give the Senate the right to go over each item in an Appropriation Bill, a Taxation Bill, or a Tariff Bill, and to suggest to us, out of their wisdom and reflection, alterations to be made in those Bills. If that is not inviting the other Chamber to exercise an equal judgment in financial matters, I do not know what is.
And he concluded by saying that that would be a calamity. Senator Higgs took exception to the President’s contention that messages appropriating revenue might be sent to either House. The honorable senator will find that at this Convention Mr. Isaacs moved to insert certain words in the Constitution Bill which would have had the effect of allowing a message to be sent only to the House of Representatives, but that amendment was defeated by a majority of nine. This clearly shows that it was the intention of the Convention that messages appropriating revenue’ might be sent to either House.
– But .the Constitution does not provide that.
– I know that is the honorable senator’s belief ; but the Convention, at all events, thought that it would do so.
– They were wrong.
– Many members of the Convention are now members of the Federal Parliament, and have a decided influence upon the decisions of both Houses of Parliament. It seems to me that we ought to insist upon our right to make this amendment. We must insist, to the full extent of the powers of the Senate, on our right to deal with the allocation of expenditure. We insisted on the constitutional powers of the Senate being observed in regard to the raising of revenue - the imposition “of a burden on the people by means of the Tariff - and now we have to consider the expenditure of that revenue. If we have only a right to make requests in regard to the expenditure of the revenue we should exercise that right, but we should certainly not adopt the suggestion made by the Postmaster-General, and say that we have not even a right to make a request in regard to a Bill of this kind if the acceptance of that request would mean an increased expenditure. I believe that the contention that we have a right to make a direct amendment has not yet been, refuted, and, until it can be shown that we have no such right, the lay members of the Senate should a”bide by that opinion. It has been clearly proved that we have the power to make the” amendment, and we should not abandon that right. To make only a request would be to take a retrograde step in regard to our powers, and I should not be a party to any such action. I believe that another place will recognise that we have this power. There are members of another place who, as members of the Federal Convention, expressed the opinion that the right of request was almost equal to the right of amendment. It seems to rae that they contemplated the possibility that we should exercise this power, and I am satisfied that they will treat with the greatest respect our action in seeking to amend this Bill. I do not anticipate, as Senator Higgs seems to do, that another place will reject the amendment.
– They may send the Bill back.
– I think that the protectionists in the Senate, at all events, should be the very last to suggest that we have not the power to request an amendment of a -Money Bill in the direction of increasing a charge or burden on the people. The Tariff Bill was wholly different from this measure, but according to their reasoning both belong to the same class.
– Only so far as this Bill increases a burden on the people.
– If the honorable senator is’ satisfied that the amendment will not increase the burden on the people he must be in favour of making it.
– Whether it would increase the burden or not, I think we have the power to make the amendment. Even if it would increase the charge on the revenue, it would not increase the burden on the people. That seems to me to be the final answer. If those who are opposed to that view can upset the contention put forward by the President, it will be for us to decide between the two opinions. So far, however, it seems to me that there is only one opinion before the Senate in regard to that question.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - It seems to me that the protectionists in the Senate should express surprise at Senator Pearce’s observation that this amendment, if carried, would not impose any extra burden on the people, for the free-traders have certainly’ contended that the£8,000,000or £9,000,000 per annum that we raise by way of revenue is a very heavy, burden for the people to bear. The honorable senator now says that to take £50,000 or £60,000 from that amount, and to pay it to the growers of sugar by white labour” would not impose an extra burden on the people. That is something new in the way of a free-trade doctrine. I shall ‘not discuss the question raised by Senator Baker a few days ago, when he said that to ascertain who finally had to pay a duty, whether it was the’ importer, the wholesale or the retail man, or the consumer, was a task that we could not undertake just now. I do not propose at this stage to deal with that point, but I cannot understand why Senator Pearce should attribute to Senator Playford and myself the contention that we are unable to make a request . to another place in regard to any Bill. We have the power to request the amendment of any Bill that we cannot amend ourselves.
– To increase a burden.
– Certainly we may make a request to another place to increase it, and we have the right, according to section 53, to reduce a “ charge or burden.” The third paragraph of that section provides that -
I think we might read the paragraph in another way -
The Senate may amend any proposed law so as to reduce any proposed charge or burden on the people.
– We cannot do that. That is not the converse position.
– If the Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any burden on the people, is it not implied that the Senate may amend a proposed law so as to reduce a charge or burden.
– Not an annual appropriation charge.
– Some honorable senators say that we cannot reduce a proposed charge on the people. I know that some people do not consider that Quick and Garran, who have written a book on the Constitution, can be regarded as responsible authorities, but I think the view which they take - that the meaning of this section is that while we may not make an amendment to increase a charge or burden on the people, we may make one to reduce a proposed charge or burden - is a sound one. If we desire to increase a charge, we make a request to another place.
– Then many of the aroendments which we made in the Tariff, and which involved reductions, should have been made direct, instead of by way of request.
– Section 53 provides that -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
They cannot be amended by us in any way, but we have a right to make requests in regard to them. If the honorable senator reads the section he will see that that is so. Senator Pearce has quoted certain speeches that were made in the Federal Convention as bearing upon this question. I am not a lawyer, although I may be somewhat of a bush lawyer, but I know it is frequently said by Judges and magistrates that they have to construe the law as it stands irrespective of what any legislator may have said in regard to it when it was before Parliament. In opposing a certain clause an honorable senator may use an argument which has no weight at all - he may be keeping something back, and I can well understand that when Mr. Isaacs proposed the insertion of the words referred to by Senator Pearce, he had in his mind the thought - “If I try to obtain the insertion of these words at this point, and do not succeed, the Convention may probably refrain from attacking the words which appear in the first part of clause’ 53, and which bind the Senate as fast as it could be bound, in providing that proposed laws imposing taxation shall not originate in this Chamber.”
– But clause 53 had been agreed to when that amendment was moved.
– I wish to emphasize the point that we cannot in any circumstances interpret an Act by having regard to what any member of the Legislature may have said whenthe measure was before
Parliament. I am sorry that greater interest is not taken in this point, because, undoubtedly, there will be a dispute over it. If the Senate is. to have a dispute with another place, let it be in regard to some tangible question, with reference to which there is something real to fight about. Do not let us have our first quarrel over a matter of this kind. When the time comes we shall have to fight something tangible.
– The honorable senator has no authority for the statement that there is going to be a fight over this question.
– I am led to take that view b)T the diversity of opinion amongst honorable senators. We find the Chairman opposed to the view taken by the President, and one of the clearest-headed members of the Senate, Senator Playford, putting forward a view in opposition to that expressed by Senator Downer. I understand, also, that Senator Symon is with those of us who contend that we should in this case proceed by way of request.
-Col. Gould. - Has the honorable and learned senator made any statement in the Senate in reference to the subject ?
– He told me that was his view.
– Senator Playford tells us that Senator Symon informed him quite recently that he was with us. Whether he is or not, the diversity of opinion expressed this afternoon is sufficient to indicate that there will be a considerable division of opinion in another place. I take it that we are all in earnest in our wish to uphold the rights and privileges of the Senate as defined by the Constitution, and whether an honorable senator agrees with me or not, I give him full credit for a desire to uphold our rights. We must anticipate that there will be trouble when this matter reaches another place. If we send down Money Bills, according to section 53 of the Constitution, with amendments instead of requests, difficulty will* occur, and I submit that we ought not to enter into what will probably be a fight at this stage. There is no doubt in my mind that the right to make a request is equivalent in the long run to the right to make an amendment, because if another place refuses to agree to our request, we may throw out the Bill.
– If we create a bad precedent over a small matter, there may still be trouble.
– I admit that. We cannot choose our time, but we can seriously consider- an important question like this. The attendance of honorable senators is not nearly as large as it should be, and I am afraid that some honorable senators do not realize what is in front of us. We must remember that every time the Senate makes a blunder and is not prepared to back up its action by an appeal to the people through the medium of the double dissolution, it weakens its influence. We strengthened our position last session. But if we take a certain step now- and are not prepared to back up our action, our influence will to some degree be lessened.
– I cannot agree with the opinion that has been expressed that the Senate has not taken a very keen interest in this question. From the manner in which it has been debated, I think that there is a very earnest desire on the part. of honorable senators to view the position in a proper way, and at the same time to bring about a settlement which will be the wisest and best in the interests of the Senate. It has been said that certain statements were made in the Convention as to the restrictions imposed on the Senate in matters of this description. I would point out that, notwithstanding the statements which were made in the Convention by certain gentlemen who were supposed to be authorities, section 53 of the Constitution Act completely bars the Senate with regard to certain matters which we have been discussing, and, therefore, I think it must be admitted that in those respects the Senate has not co-equal powers with the House of Representatives. The question of the supremacy of the Lower House in regard to Money Bills is very old In the State Legislatures it has been a fruitful source of controversy. It has always been considered wise to clearly define the powers of either House in the Constitution. It seems to me that, notwithstanding all the arguments which have been advanced, the Constitution practically has declared that, with one exception, which is mentioned in the third paragraph of section 53, the other House is supreme in regard to Money Bills. Some honorable senators may feel inclined to blame me for making the statement, but
I chink it is a good thing that that supremacy rests with one House. If the position in that regard were not clear, what would be the result 1 There would be eternal wrangling, and there would never be any finality. It must be remembered that the Senate, as the States House, is constituted differently from the other House. The people conceded certain rights to the other House which we do not find conceded to the Senate. What did they do, for instance, in the representation of the States ? Irrespective of population and in order that the smaller States should not fear that the more populous branch of the Legislature would act unjustly to them, the States were given equal representation in the -Senate. Consequently no matter what were the views which certain gentleman advocated at the Convention, the fact remains that the Constitution distinctly bars the Senate in regard to certain things, and it is only under certain circumstances that it can make a request. In the case of this Bill, I think that we ought to request the other House to make the amendment which we desire. As the Bill left the other House a certain date was fixed in clause 2, but on the proposal of Senator Glassey the date was omitted, and the result of that alteration would be to increase the payments in respect of white-grown sugar. With all due respect to what has been said on the other side, I agree with Senator Drake and the Chairman of Committees that in that regard the amendment imposes a burden on the people, and that therefore it ought not to be made in the Senate. I believe that the right course to pursue is to request the other House to make the alteration, and I shall vote in that direction.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - I wish to make it quite clear, if I did not before, that I support the amendment of Senator Glassey. What I rose to show, or tried to show, was that it will slightly increase the burden on the people. I am not grumbling at that result, because the policy of the Commonwealth is to have a white Australia, and the amendment was moved with the view of increasing the number of white sugar producers. I think, to some extent, it will increase the burden on the people. Of course, if the bonus had to be contributed on a consumption basis, Victoria would, as time went on, have had to pay a good deal more than she did last year. I leave the discussion of the constitutional point to those who I think are much better able to deal with it than I am.
– I think that most honorable senators were quite aware that the object which Senator Styles had in view, when he first spoke, was to determine the position which the Senate occupied with regard to the amendment, and not to show any opposition to the principle involved therein. I take it that there is a majority of honorable senators prepared to vote for that principle. But the question arises as to the form in which this matter should be placed, not only before the Senate, but also before the other House. I cannot help regretting that, by their method of argument, honorable senators are really inviting opposition in the other House, where possibly it would not arise. but for such an invitation. I also regret that honorable senators should be found arguing so strongly in favour of a whittling away of the rights and privileges of the Senate. So far as he can every honorable senator should maintain its undoubted rights. I admit at once that when an honorable senator finds that it is attempting to take more than its own rights, it becomes his duty, as a friend of the Constitution, to stand up for its true interpretation; but beyond that I do not think that honorable senators should go. Nor, again, do I think that in discussing this question honorable senators should, as some have done, attempt to look to what may be the result as between the Houses. If the Senate is satisfied that it has a right to amend the Bill in the proposed direction, it should do so, notwithstanding the fact that it may induce some difficulty with the other House in order to get that Chamber to assent to the change proposed. We may depend upon it that the other House will be very’ jealous of every privilege to which it may deem itself entitled, and that ‘we shall have to be prepared, if not on the present occasion, on some future occasion, to back up what we believe to be our rights and privileges. 1 shall assume, for the sake of argument, that the Senate is met with a rebuff, and that the other House is willing to consider a request, but not an amendment. Of course, if the Senate were then to make a request it would at once be displaying the white feather, and showing that it was not convinced as to the soundness and correctness of its position, and it would do more harm to its prestige and power than anything one can very well conceive. I believe that the Senate has the right to amend the Bill, and once having exercised that right it will become its duty to stand by the amendment irrespective of what the consequences may be with regard to the Bill. If ‘the Semite, following the line of least resistance, should decide to make a request, notwithstanding the fact that it is entitled to amend the Bill, it will be unworthy of the position which has been assigned to it in the Constitution. Assuming that a difficulty between the Houses arises, that the Senate insists upon its amendment and that the other House will not yield, what will be the natural consequence? The Government will withdraw the Bill and introduce another measure containing the amendment which the Senate made in the previous Bill. We have often heard of the powerlessness of Legislative Councils. But over and over again a Legislative Council has amended a Bill which it had no right to amend, and when the j other House was convinced that the Council was in earnest, and that the amendment was well worth discussing and accepting, the Bill was thrown under the table, and another Bill introduced containing the very provision which was insisted upon or desired by the Legislative Council. -Of course, we should not be able to turn round and decline to consider the Bill as long as the other House conceded what the Senate required. I wish honorable senators to realize . that there would be a way out of the difficulty if the Houses came honestly to such a conflict of opinion that they could not decide which was right and which was wrong. It would really mean that there would be a drawn battle, and that on .another occasion we should have to fight for our rights and privileges. If honorable senators yield one iota of the rights and privileges of the Senate, they will make a fatal mistake not only for themselves individually, but they will deprive the States of rights which they as honorable men are bound to defend to the utmost of their ability and power. I hope that honorable, senators will not take up a. pusillanimous attitude. I do not think that those honorable senators who favour a request quite realize what question is involved. Do not say that a trumpery or a small question is involved. In all probability it will be found that when the great fight as to the relative powers of the Houses does take place, it will be upon some matter which may be regarded as very small, and every precedent which has been created will be cited. Supposing that in this case we should decide to send down a request for an amendment, we shall lay down a precedent. Although I am one of those who claim that a determined Senate might be in a strong position whether it sent down a request or made an amendment, nevertheless I submit that the straightforward and proper course to adopt, is to make the amendment in the Bill in a direct manner, and not to attempt to do so in so indirect or roundabout way as by request.
– Does the honorable and learned senator suggest that the payment of a bounty is not a charge upon the people of the Commonwealth1?
.-r-I think that the matter has been very clearly set forth. After having- had the privilege of reading Senator Baker’s speech and hearing Senator Downer’s this afternoon, I .felt that it was. hardly necessary to discuss that particular view of the case. But if Senator Higgs wants to have my opinion, I am perfectly prepared to offer it. I take it that the only question with which we are troubled is as regards that part of section 53 of theConstitution which provides that -
The Semite maj’ not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or hurden on the people.
That seems to be the crux of the difficulty. But is this bonus a “proposed charge or burden on the people?” It certainly is a charge on the consolidated revenue. The consolidated revenue is gathered from certain sources, and it is now proposed to appropriate a portion of it. But we are not, by so doing, imposing a. burden on the people. Parliament has already determined to levy certain excise and customs duties upon sugar - £6 per ton customs, and ±’3 per ton excise. Whether or not Senator Glassey’s proposal means the increase of the white-grown sugar by 30,000’ or 60,000 tons per annum does not at the present stage affect the taxation of the people.. If there ‘was not a ton of sugar grown by white labour the excise would remain at £3 per ton, and if, on the other hand, every ton of sugar consumed in Australia were grown b)’ white labour, no new taxation would be put upon the country by means of this Bill. Parliament has already imposed the taxa tion by means of the Excise Act, If, however, it were found after a time that the revenue -collected was insufficient to meet the expenditure, and the Government were to come down and say - “ We propose to increase the revenue by putting an excise of £4 per ton on sugar,” we should then get a Bill in which a proposed charge or burden was being placed on. the people, and it would not be competent for the Seriate to say, for instance, that £4 per ton was not enough, and that the rate should be £5 per ton. That would be a direct charge on the people. But when the revenue is already provided for, and we are only appropriating that revenue, we are not increasing the burden on the people by means of a proposal like Senator Glassey’s. I notice that the Chairman, in his address upon this question last week, pointed out one or two matters which I think he will find, on further consideration, were not quite correct. He is reported as having said -
The excise of £3 has to be levied, and then the bonus hits to be provided out of the Commonwealth revenue. The growth of sugar by white labour might become so great that the bonus would be in excess of the revenue from excise. Such’ a thing is possible.
If I understand that remark correctly - I do not see that it has been qualified elsewhere - it is impossible; for the simple reason that sugar that is grown by white labour lias to pay an excise of £3 per ton, and -under the law as it stood before, while we levied an excise of £3 per ton, we gave back a rebate of £2 per ton. Instead of doing that, in future we are going to pay a bonus of £2 per ton. But by so doing, we do not alter or affect the relative positions of the payments made. We call the one a rebate, and the other a bonus. In the case of a rebate, you take the money from one section of the community and pay it to another ; in the case of a bonus, the ‘money is to be taken from the whole community on the principle, in this instance, that the whole community is desirous of seeing a white Australia, and that it is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to encourage the growth of sugar by white labour. We are going to say in future that, instead of leaving it to a section to pay the money given to the growers of sugar by white labour, we will leave it to be paid by the community as a whole.
– It is not the principle of the Bill we are concerned with, but Senator Glassey’s amendment.
-Col. GOULD.- The amendment simply means that possibly a larger number of persons may come in and obtain some portion of the revenue. I will admit that if £60,000 was paid last year, and the . amount to be paid this year is £80,000, another £20,000 will have to be provided for. But what I contend is that we are not imposing a burden or charge on the people at the present moment. We are not compelling the people to find the money by anything we are doing in this Bill. We are not asking for a single sixpence to be levied on the people of the country in addition to what is being levied to-day. Senator Higgs seemed to get himself lost between a remission of taxation and an imposition of taxation. I admit that if we were making provision for raising £80,000, to be paid by way of bonuses, and if we found that £40,000 was all that was necessary, the people might come to us and say- “Remit that taxation by £40,000.” That would be a remission of taxation. But, by this Bill, we are not concerned with revenue to the extent of an additional penny or sixpence. Senator Drake has said that we shall have to levy additional taxation on the people to meet the extended demands upon the consolidated revenue that will be made by Senator Glassey’s amendment. He has not shown us that that would be necessary. But even if the honorable and learned senator were to tell us that the Government would be compelled to introduce additional taxation, that statement would only come as an argument against supporting Senator Glassey’s amendment, and not as an argument as to the Senate’s power of amending this Bill. We have to keep these two things clearly and distinctly one from ‘the other. We have to ask at once - Does this amendment propose to increase the burden on the people of the country 1 By no logical system of reasoning can it be maintained that this amendment will increase a proposed charge or burden on the people. Are we dealing with a Bill under which we are creating taxation as well as providing for the payment, of the bonus? We are not doing anything of the kind. Very wisely our Constitution precludes anything of that sort being done, because it provides -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
The Constitution has clearly provided against that. It has drawn a distinction between various laws imposing taxation. “ Laws imposing taxation,” in the sense of our Constitution, are those proposing any charge on the people. If we want to raise more revenue from the people then comes this prohibition against the Senate dealing with the matter. I trust that honorable senators will, after the very clear and lucid speeches that have been delivered by Senator Baker, Senator Downer, and Senator Keating, in dealing with this particular matter, realize the importance of the position. I hope they will realize that Senator Glassey, in asking for an amendment and not for a request, is asking for no more than we are absolutely entitled to. If honorable senators feel convinced on that point, I trust that no dread of after consequences will induce them to depart from one of the most sacred duties which devolves upon us, namely, to maintain the rights and privileges of the Senate, bearing in mind that it is a matter of very great importance to the smaller States that that should be done. Believe me, the Senate will gain far more respect at the bands of the other Chamber by standing up firmly for its own privileges than by giving them away for the sake of a little peace or a little ease and quietness. I again urge honorable senators to have regard to this fact, and not to do anything which may in the future be arrayed against us as precedents. I know that we have a written Constitution, but honorable senators know that a written Constitution has to be interpreted. We must remember that the way in which our Constitution is interpreted in the early stages is the way in which it. will be interpreted in future years We have to stand up for our privileges and rights in our own interests, in the interests of the States which we represent, and in the interests of the Constitution which we are all concerned to maintain and uphold to the very best of our ability. I hope that the result of our deliberations upon this matter will be that the Chairman will put Senator Glassey’s proposal as an amendment, and that, if honorable senators believe in the principle of it, they will agree to send it down to the other House in that shape. They will also be well advised, in case we are to have any difficulty with regard to this matter, in holding the Bill regarding rebates in the hands of the Senate until the whole question is settled, because we do not want to see a law made the effect of which will be that no rebate shall be given, while at the same time there is no provision for a bonus being paid. If we pass the one Bill and .not the other, another place may say - “ We will send this Bill which has been passed for His Excellency’s assent,” and so there will be thrown upon the Senate the responsibility of withholding from the people who are growing sugar by white labour the£2 per ton benefit which they were to get. Even if that were to happen, however, I believe that if the Senate remained firm and determined in its attitude the Government would be compelled to keep faith with the growers of sugar by white labour, and to carry out the policy which they have adopted, and which they believe to be sound in the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– I should like to say a few more words upon this subject. It seems to me to be of very great importance indeed, to the Senate, that we should devote attention to the constitutional position. It may be that the subject-matter of. the amendment is not of very great importance. But that is not the point. As has been pointed out by the last speaker, if we once create a precedent in a matter of this sort, it will be very difficult to get a way from it. Therefore we ought not to consider the particular matter we are debating, but the principle, and that is whether we can make an amendment, or whether we must make a request in reference to the proposal submitted by Senator Glassey. Before I go to the root of the matter and discuss the main principle, I should like to say a word or two about certain questions which have been raised. The Postmaster-General has suggested a difficulty ; but I cfo not see any. difficulty in the matter at all. He has suggested that under the provisions of the Constitution we are authorized to make requests in certain Bills, but .that in this particular Bill we can neither make requests nor amendments. I disagree with that entirely. I say that it is an inherent right of this Senate, of every legislative body, of every public meeting, and of every individual, to make a request to anybody else.
– Then what need if there is that right to have that section in the Constitution ?
– That is what I was coming to. We have the right to make requests, and if we chose to pass appropriate standing orders, which of course we would not do, we might give up the right of amendment altogether, and proceed entirely by way of request. The PostmasterGeneral asks - What is the need of that section if that is so. The need of it is this : that there is a prohibition against making amendments in particular classes of Bills. The Constitution says that we must not amend those particular classes of Bills, but it also points out a mode of procedure. But that does not negative our right to make requests whenever we like concerning any matter. Every message we send to the House of Representatives is a request. When we make an amendment, we request their concurrence therein. When we appoint a Joint Standing Orders Committee or a House Committee, we request that it may be placed in communication with a similar committee of the other House. What is there in the Constitution which negatives our inherent right to make a request ? Nothing whatever, that I can see. It seems to me that the contention is not arguable. We may make any request we like, and the only prohibition in the Constitution is that we must not amend two classesof Bills. We may make requests in reference to such classes. That does not negative our right to make a request in connexion with any other Bill or concerning any other matter that may come before us. It has been asserted - in fact I have asserted it myself - that there are three classes of Bills. There is the first class of Bills, taxation Bills, which we may not amend at all. There is the second class, the ordinary Appropriation Bills, which we may not amend at all ; and there is the third class, which we may amend in every particular except one. But we must recollect that the third class includes every Bill that comes before us, Bills of the two classes first referred to alone excepted. Senator Higgs seemed to have some doubt about Bills of the kind referred to in the Constitution as appropriating the ordinary annual services for the year. I can assure the honorable senator that there never was the slightest doubt as to what that meant in the Convention. It was asserted over and over again and understood by everybody that that meant the ordinary Appropriation Bill. So that the classes of
Bills which we cannot amend include one Bill, the ordinary Appropriation Bill for the year, and taxation Bills. The Bill now under discussion does not come within the purview of the prohibition against amendment in ordinary Appropriation Bills. A very curious argument has been used - at least it seems to me to be a very curious argument when used by those who believe in protection - namely, that if we increase the local production of any article, we therefore impose an extra burden on the people. Now, is that so? Senator Higgs stated that if we imported 30,000 tons less of sugar, and 30,000 tons more were grown in the Commonwealth, that would increase a burden on the people. Is that so ? If that is so, then surely all the protectionists’ arguments must be incorrect? I do not look at it in that light. I believe the position is exactly the reverse.
– I said a charge might not be a burden.
SenatorSir RICHARD BAKER.- Well, call it a charge on the people, and surely it is not correct ! If we produce 30,000 tons more sugar in the Commonwealth, the people of the Commonwealth will cease to pay £6 per ton on that sugar, which they would have to do if it were imported. They will pay only the excise duty of £3 per ton on it, and therefore the burden of taxation on the people will be lessened by £3 per ton on the 30,000 tons of sugar. That seems to me to be as clear as daylight. I cannot understand such an argument as that to which I have referred being used from a protectionist point of view. I ask leave to reiterate my contention that this Bill is a Bill to decrease taxation, and therefore to decrease the burden on the people.
– It is not the Bill, it is the amendment.
– Well, the amendment is an amendment to decrease the burden on the people, to decrease the charge on the people, because it increases, or its intention is to increase, and it probably will increase, the quantity of sugar grown within the Commonwealth.
– By white labour.
– Yes ; the quantity of sugar grown in the Commonwealth by white labour. The consequence will be that that sugar will contribute to the revenue £3 . per ton excise duty less £2 per ton bonus ; or it will contribute to the revenue £1 per ton, whereas if it were imported to the Commonwealth it would have to pay a customs duty of £6 per ton.
– It does not necessarily increase the quantity of sugar.
– I do not know that it does, but that is the intention. If the argument of Senator Styles is correct, and it does not necessarily increase the quantity of sugar grown in the Commonwealth, then we must go to the wording of the section, and eliminate from our minds altogether the probabilities of the amendment. But the wording of the section, as has been pointed out by Senator Keating, is “ so as to increase,” and if we eliminate the probabilities from our minds, aud what probably will be the necessary effect of the amendment, we must take the words of the Constitution, which are “ so as to increase. “ Can we say that this is an amendment “ so as to increase “ the charge or burden on the people ? It really is a question ‘ of State rights. This is pre-eminently a Bill concerning State rights. It is a Bill which will increase the revenue of some of the States and decrease the revenue of others. It is a Bill the effect of which will be to decrease the amount, repayable by the Commonwealth to some States, and to increase the amount repayable to others. In a question of State rights such as that is, surely we ought to have the freest possible hand ? We must consider what the words “ charge or burden on the people “ mean. I think I have shown, and I do not think any honorable senator has shown the contrary, that a charge or burden on the revenue is quite a different thing from a charge or burden on the people, and that a charge or burden on the people must mean on the people of the Commonwealth, and not the people of any particular States. Let us just look at what we have done. We have appropriated revenue over .and over again. Can any one say that the two Bills now before us, the Patents Bill and the Naturalization Bill, will not appropriate revenue? How are they to be carried into effect ? Officers must be appointed to carry them into effect, and those officers must be paid. That will be a charge on the revenue. I do not say that it will necessarily increase the charge on the people, because the officers who now administer the States Acts will be done away with. They will be no longer officers of the States but of the Commonwealth, . and therefore the necessary effect of these two Bills will be to impose charges on the revenue, but not charges on the people. That is a fundamental difference which I ask honorable senators to bear in mind.
– Those expenses will appear in the ordinary Appropriation Bill of the year.
– They may or may not. Let us look at what we did in the case of one of the Bills which came before us last session. I am not sure whether it came up from the House of Representatives or not, but a Bill came before us to provide a mode in which we should pay the States for the public works taken over by the Commonwealth, the amount involved being some ten millions of money. It was provided in that Bill that, instead of paying cash, we should owe the States the money in account, and pay interest at the rate, I think, of 3 per cent. What did this Senate do 1 We altered the rate of interest to 3£ per cent. I am not quite sure, but I think that was done on the motion of Senator Playford. Did not that constitute an appropriation of revenue 1
-Col. Neild. - It meant a charge on the people.
– It was certainly an appropriation of revenue.
– It was giving with one hand and taking back with the other.
– That is what this is.
– Of course it was giving with one hand and taking back with the other. And that is exactly what this Bill does. Under this Bill we charge these people £3 per ton excise on sugar, and we give them back £2.
– But in the instance to which the honorable and learned senatorhas referred, was there not the relation of debtor and creditor 1
– I do not care what relation there was, but the fact remains that under this Bill we charge the growers of sugar £3 per ton excise, and give them back £2 per ton. I expressed a doubt when I addressed the Committee before as to what the real meaning and effect of certain words were. I stated that according to my argument they could not relate to the imposition of taxation ; they did not refer to the allocation or appropriation of revenue, and I asked the question :What do they mean? Since that time I have had an opportunity of thinking the matter over, and of looking further into the debates of the Convention, and 1 have come to the conclusion that those words referred to a third class of Bills which has not been mentioned at all in this debate - Loan Bills. Those words were put in with the object of preventing the Senate from increasing the amounts stated in Loan Bills. If honorable senators will look through the Convention debates they will see, perhaps not very clearly, but they will see that, at all events, some of the members of the Convention held that opinion. Sir John Forrest, who was one of the members of the Convention, interpolated by way of interjection that this prohibition referred to Loan Bills, and it was stated by the leader of the Convention that that was probably so. I do not desire to lead the Senate in the slightest degree astray in this matter. As I said before, I am exceedingly anxious to persuade honorable senators that I am right, not to get a majority, and not to have a minority who think the other way, but so that if we ever do come to a contest we shall be a united body. We must be a united body in this matter if we hope to succeed. 1 sincerely trust that rather than have any division in the Senate concerning this matter we shall not come to any decision hastily, but postpone the question from time to time until one side persuades the other, because I feel very deeply the responsibility which will attach to all of us if we enter into a contest on a matter in regard to which we are not firmly convinced we are right. I am speaking again mainly because I think it is my duty to inform honorable senators concerning the dissipation, I will not say the entire dissipation, but the dissipation to a great extent - of the doubt which I formerly expressed as to what was the real meaning of those words. I have come to the conclusion that they refer to Loan Bills, and that they were put in for the purpose of meeting the case of Loan Bills. I hope that every honorable senator will discuss this matter entirely apart from the probable effects with regard to this Bill. Senator Higgs has said that if we do so and so we may lose this Bill. I suppose it is inherent in human nature that the fate of a particular measure under discussion may influencevotes, but we ought not, on a constitutional point involving the relationship between the two Houses, and involving a relationship which will probably continue until the termination of this Commonwealth, to allow any temporary questions regarding any particular Bills to influence our minds. As has been pointed out by a previous speaker, I do not suppose for one moment that the fate of the Bill is involved in the slightest degree in the settlement of this question. We can send a message, if we choose, to the House of Representatives, that we have laid aside a Bill, but that we will pass it if they introduce it in another form. That is one of the methods of procedure open to us. It is also open to the Government to withdraw any Bill and introduce another. There are various other methods by which this Bill may be passed in its present form without involving us in the consideration of details when we ought really to be applying all our intelligence and earnestness to the solution of the constitutional question.
– This question is of sufficient importance to warrant an expression of opinion on the part of almost every honorable senator, whether he professes to understand the Constitution or not. I know that many honorable senators are in entire sympathy with Senator Glassey’s amendment, and I dare say that a number of them would not care how long the Senate wrangled over the interpretation of the Constitution, provided that the intention of the majority with respect to that amendment were carried into effect. Every one must admit that, great as was the wisdom of the Convention which drafted the Constitution, it, like all other human agencies, was very defective in many particulars. Many years will probably elapse before we shall thoroughly understand the Constitution. At the present time we are discussing the power of the Senate to make direct amendments or requests. The arguments which have been adduced up to the present stage have- not been wholly conclusive, and, after we have all spoken, no doubt there will still remain something to.be cleared up. I should have expressed my opinion with regard to the matter earlier in the debate had it not been that Senator Playford, to a very great extent, gave utterance to the view which I hold. It is only because other honorable senators have dissented from that opinion that I am induced now to join in the discussion. We should all be familiar with section 53 of the Constitution ; but, although we may have it off by heart, there are some honorable senators who are still in doubt iis to its meaning. The third paragraph in that section gives rise to a doubt as to whether the Senate has the power of amendment, or the power of suggestion in regard to certain Bills. Senator Pearce has called attention to remarks which were made during the Convention debates by Mr. Reid, but the objection which Mr. Reid then offered to the power of suggestion, that it amounted almost to the power to amend, had nothing whatever to do with the question involved in the third paragraph of section 53. Every honorable senator must have felt gratified by the very able way in which the President dealt with the whole question ; but, although I listened to his speech and have since had his remarks read to me, I cannot arrive at a clear conclusion as to the power of amendment which the Senate may possess. I still feel convinced that Senator Glassey’s amendment would have the effect of increasing a charge or burden on the people.
– I cannot see how it would have that effect.
– That is the point upon which we differ. It is only another evidence of the failure of the great men who constituted the Convention to draft a Constitution which one could run, read, and understand. We must, of course, excuse their failure, because it is almost impossible to draft any Bill upon the meaning of which every legal ‘mind will be agreed. It has been urged, by some honorable senators, that Senator Glassey’s amendment would not increase a burden on the people, but, in discussing this question, the President, as well as Senator Downer and Senator Keating, have wholly lost sight of the object of the amendment, and have allowed themselves to be drawn away into a consideration of the revenue that may be derived either from customs or excise duties. The President has j just stated that in his opinion the amendment would decrease the burden on the people, because under this Bill we shall take £3 per ton of sugar from the people, and give back £2 per ton, so that there will be only a burden of £1 per ton to bear. He said that as we were only imposing taxation to the extent of £1 per ton, with respect to the excise duty on sugar, Senator Glassey’s amendment would have a tendency to lighten the burden rather than to increase it, if all the sugar consumed in Australia were produced locally. To my mind, however, that is a species of sophistry. It matters not whether we give back £1 or £2 per ton to certain individuals. In either event we shall still collect the £3 per ton from the general public. If we take £3 per ton of sugar from the whole of the people, and only return £1 per ton to a section of the community, we shall not reduce the burden on the people.
– We shall not increase it.
– We should neither increase or reduce the burden’ if the position stood at that ; but the amendment proposes to bring in more people to participate in the bonus. In order to make the matter clear, let me give an illustration. Let us suppose that Senator Downer has a revenue of £1,000 per annum ; that he pays £200 a year to his gardener, and £?00 a year to his coachman, leaving £600 per annum for household expenses apart from those services. . Then, let us imagine that he suddenly discovers that he requires a gamekeeper, and has to pay him another £200 a year for his services. Seeing that he had only £1,000 a year to meet the expenses to which he was liable before engaging the gamekeeper, would he not find it a burden to provide the £200 a year for the payment of that servant.
– Not if he took it out of the £600.
– I have already assumed that the £600 is part of his revenue, so that he could not make any further appropriation without imposing a burden on himself. He would have to work harder in order to earn the additional £200 per annum with which to pay the gamekeeper. The position with respect to the amendment is the same.
– Not at all.
– We have already imposed the taxation which is necessary to carry on the Government of the Commonwealth ; but Senator Glassey says-“ I am going, to move an amendment which will increase the amount that has to be paid annually by the Commonwealth.” If we have already levied taxation sufficient to meet our present demands, will not an additional burden be imposed on the people if we make a further appropriation, for which provision must be made?
– That is a fallacy.
– All the great financial difficulties that have arisen in the various States - and the same position may come to pass in respect of the Commonwealth - have been due to the fact that the various States Parliaments have been prepared to appropriate large sums of revenue while they have not been prepared to impose taxation to meet those appropriations. Illustrations of this fact can be found in New South Wales, Victoria, and in almost all the States. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been appropriated without any provision being made to meet that appropriation. That is exactly what we are not to do in relation to any law which we may pass. Of course Senator Downer does not admit that this is so. He imagines that whatever his income may be he may go on appropriating what he pleases in every direction, and that he has no more to do. Honorable senators must see the absurdity of the position if they give it a moment’s thought. If we appropriate money for any purpose we must make some allowance in regard to the revenue which we are going to receive, and consequently we must recognise that the amendment, if carried, would be a burden on the people. The third part of section 53 deals with a certain kind of law that is supposed to be outside the category of laws imposing taxation or appropriating revenue. As Senator Baker has said, every law which we may pass comes within this class. Under the third paragraph of section 53 there are certain amendments which the Senate has no power to make, although . they are amendments which are likely to arise in connexion with any Bill. The amendment which Senator Glassey has proposed is one of those referred to. It is an amendment which, to my mind, will increase a charge or burden on the people, and consequently the Senate has no right to make it. But, as Senator Playford has already said, if we have power to make requests in regard to the very important laws imposing taxation and appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth, would it not be absurd if we could not make a request in regard to any other law? Senator Baker, in his few remarks, also agrees that in respect of any Bill we have ‘ the right to make a request. The very fact that we possess that power does away with the argument of Senator Drake in relation to this Bill. To my mind, we have not the power to make an amendment, because it would increase the proposed charge or burden on the people, and inasmuch as we always have the power to make a request, we ought to pursue that course. Some honorable senators, in carrying out their ideas in connexion with section 53 of the Constitution, refer to section 56, and point out that, by message from the Governor-General, any Bill could be originated in the Senate. It must be admitted that one section of the Constitution must have some reference to another. Although section 53, in its first paragraph, says that Bills appropriating revenue or moneys or imposing taxation cannot be originated in the Senate, it does nob apply to Bills appropriating revenue for the “ ordinary annual services of the Government,” which words are only used in connexion with the power of the Senate to make: amendments. Yet section 56 says that a vote, resolution, or proposed law appropriating money can only be introduced by a message from the Governor-General. It is a common practice for an honorable senator to make the best of the position he is endeavouring to establish, and Senator Downer said that this Bill could be introduced in either House by message.
– I said that there were messages recommending the appropriation of revenue, which might be introduced in either House ; but I did not specify which House.
– Section 56 does not say a word about “either House,” but it refers to a vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys. As section 53, in its first paragraph, distinctly lays down that such Bills cannot be introduced in the Senate, then section 56 can only mean that the vote or resolution can be originated in the Senate by message. As this amendment is a proposed law it can only be originated in the House of Representatives. If honorable senators endeavour to put any other interpretation upon the section, then they are only straining its meaning, as an endeavour has been made to strain the meaning of section 53. I hope that the Senate will take up the reasonable position which it ought to take up, because when the Chairman proposed to take the amendment of Senator Glassey as a request, scarcely an honorable senator took the slightest objection. They all naturally felt that it was the proper thing to do, and it was only when they looked up the subsection that they endeavoured to find a loop-hole of escape from what they supposed to be a subservience to another place, but .what I hold to be only the natural position that we should occupy with respect to the imposition of burdens upon the people, either by taxation or by the appropriation of revenue. If the Senate simply makes a request, it is not throwing out a challenge to another place. ‘If one man meets another man in the street iiia friendly manner -there is no possibility of a quarrel; but if one man is taking off his coat or rolling up his shirtsleeves while he is approaching another man, the probability is that the latter will do exactly the same thing, and when the two meet there will be a fight, because one of them had assumed an attitude which he had no right to assume. It is exactly the same with regard to the Senate. If it insists upon assuming the right to take off its coat and roll up its sleeves on any” possible occasion, that is the very best way of bringing about a conflict with another place. In the interests of the Bill, of the amendment of Senator Glassey, and of the proper relationship which should exist between the Houses, I hope honorable senators will take the reasonable course of making a request for the amendment.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I wish to correct a wrong impression, which I understand exists. Senator Baker seemed to implY that I appealed to the Senate not to stand by what some honorable senators considered to be its right on account of the probable fate of this Bill. If such an impression was created I hope it will be removed. I regretted that the Bill was in danger, but I did not ask honorable senators to make up their minds on this question with any regard to that matter. I do not wish to influence the Senate by any consideration of that kind. When I spoke this afternoon, I said that, possibly, this Bill might come under the second paragraph of section 53, which says that the Senate cannot amend any proposed law which deals with the ordinary annual services of the Government. I said that possibly the payment under the Bill, if carried, might be considered to become part of the “ ordinary annual services of the Government,” as there was a doubt about the meaning of the phrase, and Senator Baker replied that there was no doubt in the minds of the members of the Convention as to its meaning. On reference to the second volume of the Melbourne Convention Debates, page 2020, 1 find that Mr. Holder, who was then Treasurer of South Australia, said -
I dispute the statement that all that concerns an Appropriation Act is limited by this clause to what appears on the face of the measure itself. In an Appropriation Act we should have so many hundred thousand pounds for this, and so many hundred thousand pounds for that, and other items ; but we should have no detail whatever. In no Appropriation Act passed by any Parliament is there given small details of the amounts appropriated. An Appropriation Act would often include amounts of £.10,000, £15,000, £20,000, and larger sums, the details of which would be lost altogether in the mass of votes included in the Act. Therefore it is quite impossible for any court to tell from the mere construction of an Appropriation Act whether the items do comprise moneys required for the ordinary annual services of the Government, even if that phrase “ordinary annual services of the Government” were beyond dispute. Personally, I do not know what the phrase means, and I do not suppose it is possible for anybody definitely to say what it means.
– With a new Government it will be a very difficult matter to know what are “ordinary annual services. “
Inasmuch as there was a doubt in the minds of both Mr. Holder and Mr. Reid as to what the phrase meant, I hold that it is possible to argue that if this Bill is passed the payment of the bounty for a certain term becomes an ordinary annual service of the Government, and will be included in the appropriation for that purpose.
– The debate seems to centre on the point as to whether we can increase the burden on the people. I hold that the amendment of Senator Glassey will not increase the burden on the people, but will provide’ for a mere allocation of the funds. To show what the Senate has done by way of increasing expenditure, I may mention that a short time ago, at the instance of Senator Drake, it passed a resolution with regard to the subsidy paid to the Canadian Australian Royal Mail Company.
– That was not “ a proposed law.”
– It was a resolution for the appropriation of revenue within the meaning of section 56 of the Constitution Act.
SenatorPlayford. - The resolution did not appropriate revenue.
– It certainly increased the subsidy that we were paying by the sum of £8,000. It said-
) That the Senate approves of an extension for a period of two years of the arrangements entered into on the 5th day of June, 1809, and the 10th day of August, 1899, by the Governments of New SouthWales and Queensland respectively, for the carriage of mails between Australia, Fiji, and Canada by the steamers of the Canadian Australian Royal Mail Line upon the following terms : -
What I want to point out is that we passed that resolution without raising the issue whether by so doing we were increasing the burden on the people. If that resolution was carried without any message from the Governor-General there is no reason why, when a Bill comes up from the other House converting a rebate into a bonus, we should not deal with it as. we please. Senator Glassey’s proposal asks us to extend the time for registration. By so doing we may be increasing the number of applications for bonuses, and consequently may increase the total payments. But, as has been clearly shown, that would not be increasing the burden on the people at all, but would merely be increasing the charge on the revenue. Therefore, I am entirely with those who are in favour of Senator Glassey’s proposal going clown to the other House as an amendment, and not as a request.
– I do not at all regret having brought this matter forward. It has been very ably debated, and we have had a good deal of light thrown upon the subject. Some little confusion has been created by some honorable senators referring constantly to this as a Bill for the purpose of substituting one form of compensation to sugar-growers for another form of compensation. It would do away with some of the mists that have gathered around the subject if honorable senators would bear clearly in mind that we are not dealing with something created by the Bill, but with something created by the amendment. We have nothing whatever to do with the substitution of a bonus for a rebate. We have a Bill before us now which proposes to give a bonus.
– Surely that difference between bonus and rebate is the whole question?
– I think that that difference has nothing to do with the question whatever. We are dealing with a Bill that proposes to give a bonus, and the position of the matter would be exactly the same, whether any compensation had been given to the growers previously or not. We propose to give a bonus to sugargrowers under certain conditions, and to make that bonus a charge or burden on the people of Australia per capita.
– The incidence is entirely different.
– We have nothing to do with that now. The question is what is the effect of the proposed amendment or request upon this Bill, and whether that amendment or request increases the charge orburden on the people. It makes no difference whatever what the object of the Bill itself may be. The Bill proposes to give a bonus to certain persons at the expense of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. As brought in, it limited the time for registration, so that the bonus would be paid only upon cane grown by white labour after the date fixed. The amendment extends that provision and proposes to extend the time for registration. The tendency of the amendment, therefore, is to increase the amount of cane that would be subject to the bonus, and consequently in all probability to increase the amount of money that would be required out of the consolidated revenue to pay the bounty. The question that has been very ably argued by Senator Baker and others is this - that the Bill only affects an allocation of money that has been realized, and consequently does not impose an increased burden on the people. I should be glad if we could satisfy our minds, and particularly the minds of honorable members of another place, that that was a correct interpretation ; but I must confess that up to the present time I am not convinced even by the arguments put so ably by Senator Baker. I noticed that in the two standing orders of the House of Commons quoted by Senator Baker, the word “burden” was not used. The first is as follows : -
That if any motion be madeby the House, or any aid, grant, or charge upon the public revenue (whether payable out of the Consolidated Fund, or out of money to be provided by Parliament), or for any charge upon the people -
Not the word “burden.” the consideration and debate thereof shall not be presently entered upon, but shall be adjourned until such further day as the House shall think fit to appoint, and then it shall be referred to a Committee of the whole House before any resolution or vote of the House do pass therein.
The second standing order quoted reads as follows : -
That this House will receive no petition for any sum relating to public service, or proceed upon any motion for a grant or charge upon the public revenue, whether payable out of the Consolidated Fund, or out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, unless recommended from the Crown.
It appears to me that the two words used in the section of our Constitution, “charge” or “burden,” are not to betaken as synonymous. I think that the reason why those two words are used is that the word “ charge “ has reference to the allocation of the revenue, and the word “burden” to the charge as it falls upon the people in consequence of more money having to be found. It is all very well to argue that Parliament may vote anything it likes, pass any resolution it likes, or any law allocating the revenue, and that that is not an increased burden on the people because the money has already been raised. I cannot see the force of that argument, because it is perfectly clear that all the public money that is expended is money that has been raised, or money that must be raised, by taxation in one way or another. What does it matter whether the money has already been raised by taxation or is to be raised in the future - whether it was raised last year or is to be raised next year ? Is it not a burden on the people? [f it were otherwise Parliament might this 3’ear pass a law to spend money with a lavish hand, and say - “ We can do this because we are not imposing any burden on the people, inasmuch as the money has already been appropriated.” Next year, however, Parliament would have to pass a law to tax the people to make up for the money which had. been spent. However the money is spent it necessarily involves a burden on the people, and revenue has to be appropriated to provide for it. I have taken the argument up to the point that Senator Glassey’s amendment is a proposal which will increase the amount of money that will be required to pay the bounty tothe sugar-growers, and that such being the case, the money has to be contributed in some form or other by the general taxpayer.. We increase the amount to be paid in bonuses, and sooner or later that increasemust constitute an equivalent burden on the people. Indeed, I think that that is. exactly what was intended. The words “ charge “ and “ burden “ are to be taken tomean moneys which the taxpayers have toprovide. Senator “Baker admitted fairly and candidly, at the end of his long argument,, that the effect of his reasoning had been to bring doubts into his mind as to whether there was any meaning at all in that part of the section ; though, in the supplementary remarks which he has addressed to us, he has informed us that he has. come to the conclusion now that the section must have been intended to be limited expressly to Loan Bills. There isvery grave reason to doubt that conclusion, for this reason : If the words were intended to apply to Loan Bills only, why did not theframers of the Constitution say so ? Would it not have been easier for them to say - “ The Senate may not amend any law toauthorize the raising of a loan so as to increase the burden on the people.” An even simpler way would have been to say, “ Noamendment which shall be made in any Bill to authorize the raising of a loan so as toincrease the burden on the people.” Certainly if the framers of tlie Constitution meant that, they would have said so. I donot think that suggestion helps SenatorBaker over the difficulty, which he himself candidly acknowledges that he met with in following his line of argument. If his argu– ment be correct, it deprives this part of the section of the Constitution of all meaning. I think it has a meaning, though it may be exceedingly difficult for us to draw the line, and say what amendments in a Bill would increase the burdens on the people. Thereis, nevertheless, some point at which we haveto arrive at what really is meant by the paragraph in question. Certain amendments of laws are contemplated which would have the effect of increasing the burdens on the people. With regard to those, we may not amend them. In bringing this matter forward, I raised the question whether, supposing this to be an amendment which we may not make because it increases a burden or charge on the people, we may make a request to the other Chamber to make such an amendment in the Bill. I quite admit that, in bringing forward a matter of that kind, I am perhaps placing myself in the position of appearing to be not a sufficiently enthusiastic champion of the rights of the Senate in this matter. I am told that if what I suggest were a correct interpretation of the Constitution, it would put the Senate in a different position to that which we desire to occupy. But surely our proper course is to find out exactly what our lights are under the Constitution ? It is no use shutting our eyes to that. It is no use saying that, because we desire a certain state of things to exist, therefore we should not entertain a thought as to what may be the interpretation of the Constitution. Sooner or later we shall have to come down to a dry legal interpretation of the Constitution. There is no use in blinding ourselves to that fact. The President, in referring to the point which I have raised, : said that he thinks my contention is not arguable. The honorable and learned senator admits that a difficulty has been created, which he thinks is no difficulty, and he gets rid of that difficulty by, it seems to me, again arguing all the meaning out of paragraph (4) of section 53 of the Constitution. While, in his first deliverance, Senator Baker argued the meaning out of the third paragraph of the section, he now seems to me to be arguing the meaning out of the fourth paragraph, because he tells us that the Senate has an inherent right to make requests, and that there is no limitation to “that inherent right. If that is so, I ask what is the meaning of the fourth paragraph of this section ? If we have an inherent right to make requests, and as many as we choose, what is the meaning of that paragraph? I say that there is a meaning in that fourth paragraph, and that without it we should not have had the right to make the statutory request for which it provides. Otherwise, what becomes of the arguments we have heard in the Senate this afternoon, founded upon quotations from statements made by the leader of the Opposition in another place, as a member of the Convention ? We are told that he said that this power of request was so great that it amounted practically to a power of amendment, and that whether we had the power to make amendments or to send down requests, it came to very much the same thing. But now the President tells us that the power to make a request given us in the
Constitution is perfectly illusory, and means nothing at all.
– I did not say that.
– The President said that we had an inherent right to make requests. He said that we can make any requests to the House of Representatives, andIsay that if that be so, if we have an inherent right to make requests, what is the use of putting it in this section of the Constitution ? Are we to be told that the framers of the Constitution said this to us - “ There are certain Bills which you may not amend ; but you know that you have an inherent right to make requests.”
SenatorFraser. - In practice that is never admitted.
– The inherent right to request?
SenatorFraser. - It is never admitted in practice. The other House would laugh at us if we made a request without provision for so doing being in the Constitution.
– That is the view I hold, and therefore the President will excuse me for being entirely opposed to him in the view he takes that we have an inherent right to make requests. I say that this is a statutory right given to us, and that it has a certain definite meaning. Now we come to the question whether we have power to request an amendment increasing a burden or charge on the people. I will ask honorable senators to look again at the section in the way in which a court would have to look at it if they were interpreting it. The fourth paragraph of the section says -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
There is a strict limitation of the power to make a request under the Constitution. It must be in the case of a Bill which the Senate may not amend. Senator Higgs was supposing that a case was being argued in a court, and he told us that the court would not take any notice of the views which had been taken by the members of the Conventions. Very likely not. Unless it were a matter of very doubtful interpretation, I do not suppose a court would be prepared to listen with patience to arguments as to what had been said in the course of a discussion before the Constitution was settled.
– Not unless it was absolutely necessary.
– Very well; supposing this case came before a court under that section of the Constitution, the Judge would say - “Is this a law which the Senate may not amend ?” What are counsel going to say to that? Can they say “yes?” They cannot. They must say - “No, it is a law which we may amend, but which we may not amend in the direction of increasing a charge or burden on the people.”
– A law which we may amend with a restriction.
– That is so. There is a certain restriction on our power of amendment. Is this a Bill which the Senate may not amend ? The court must say “ no.” This is a law which we can amend, but we may not amend it in one particular direction, and being a law which we can amend, how can we say that it is a law which the Senate may not amend ?
– ls the honorable and learned senator going to follow up that argument by saying that we cannot request any amendment at all in this case ?
– I have argued in that way already.
– The honorable and learned senator, therefore, puts us in the position that we are absolutely powerless.
– I do not put the Senate in any position. I am merely quoting the Constitution.
– The honorable and learned senator’s argument puts us in that position.
– I may be wrong; and, so far as I am personally concerned, it does not matter whether I am right or wrong. I am looking at the matter from a dry, legal point of view, as I think I have a right to do. I want to know how we stand under the Constitution, and it is of no advantage to the honorable and learned senator who interrupts me, or to any other honorable senator, that I should by importing any feeling into the matter give other than the true interpretation. Does Senator Gould follow me ?
– I think it was my duty to put this matter before the Senate. Perhaps Senator Gould, when speaking upon the question, was not aware that the proposed amendment has been put from the Chair and carried as a request.
– I was under the impression that no amendment had been carried. I understood the position was that the Chairman had put it as a request to the Committee, and that then the discussion arose as to how it should be put.
– No, the honorable and learned senator is a little behind the times. It was put as a request, and carried as a request. I raised the question in order to get the point really determined, whether this, being an amendment increasing a burden on the people as I hold it to be, and it being admitted that we cannot amend the Bill in that war. we can make a request for its amendment in in that way. In the debate which has followed on the recommittal of the Bill, it appears that a number of honorable senators are following the President, who holds that the amendment does not increase the charge or burden on the people. Let me say at once that if that is so clearly the proper course for the Senate is to make an amendment and not a request. If we can persuade ourselves that this amendment does not offend against the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution, and that it does not involve an increase of a charge or burden on the people, it is plain sailing, and all we have to do is to send the Bill back to the House of Representatives with an amendment. But if, on the other hand, it is held that this is an amendment which we cannot make under that third paragraph, then, without wishing to influence the Senate one way or the other or to import any feeling into the debate, I am bound to say I think that, upon a strict reading of the Constitution, we cannot even make a request that this amendment should be made in another place.
– The honorable and learned senator’s argument tends to create a vacuum.
– I do not think it does. I confess that I did not at first see this reading of paragraph (4) of section 53 of the Constitution myself, but what it points to is this : That the other other Chamber has the sole right of amending Bills which increase a burden on the people, and that really this Chamber has no right either to make an amendment of that kind or even to go through the form of sending down a statutory request to them to make it.
– The honorable and learned senator’s argument on paragraph (4) of the section tends to create a vacuum.
– I cannot see how it creates any vacuum at all. 1 read the section in this way. First of all the Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation. Then the Senate may not amend proposed laws appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government. Then in the next paragraph the Senate may not amend any proposed law and so on, and then the Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend. At first, I took that to coverall the laws which had been referred to in the first and second paragraphs of the section. But when I came to read the third paragraph more carefully to its conclusion I found that it referred to a proposed law which the Senate might amend, but which it might not amend in a particular direction. That seems to me to take that class of amendment out of paragraph (4) of the section in which there is a limited power of requesting which excludes a Bill which we may amend in certain directions, but which we may not amend in one direction.
– May I point out that the honorable and learned senator’s argument limits the power of request to a Bill which the Senate may not amend ? He started by saying that this is a Bill which the Senate may amend, and therefore paragraph (4) does not help him, and he has created a vacuum by his argument.
– I can see no vacuum.
– I do not think that there is a vacuum. But the honorable, and learned senator’s argument would create one.
– It appears to me that a Bill or proposed law which the Senate may not amend so as to increase a charge or burden on the people,’ but which it may amend in every other way, is not a Bill which the Senate may not amend, “and consequently it is not referred to in the fourth paragraph at all, and the statutory request, if I may call it so, the request constituted under the Constitution is provided for in that particular paragraph of the section. If we cannot find in that paragraph any right to make a request to amend a Bill so as to increase a burden on the people, then I say we have not got that right. That is the view I take of the Constitution.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I should like to say a word or two in regard to the last few sentences which have fallen from the Postmaster-General. I really do not see any difficulty, and I cannot follow the honorable and learned senator’s argument. His contention is that because the Constitution in relation to a certain class of Bills lays down a certain course of procedure, therefore we cannot apply that course of procedure to other Bills. The Constitution provides that in regard to certain classes of Bills which we desire to amend we must proceed by way of request, but it does not say that we cannot proceed to deal with other measures by way of request. As a matter of fact, we have sent dozens of requests to another place during the three years that we have been in session, and they have been complied with ; while another place has made requests to us, and we have complied with them. Nearly every message that we send down to another place is a request. Because the Constitution says that a certain course of procedure shall be adopted in regard to certain Bills, that surely does not debar the inherent right of any body to make a request ‘to another body. 1 cannot see any difficulty in the way.
– While I think that this debate, which has been so ably initiated and carried on, is one of some importance ? I deprecate too much subtlety in our attempts to interpret the Constitution. I think that possibly we have heard more than one honorable senator indulging in a process which is commonly known as “ hair-splitting,” which does hot tend, in my view, to enhance the dignity of the Senate or the importance of this question. I trust that I shall not be guilty of that subtlety which I deprecate in others, but I shall put briefly before honorable senators the way in which this question presents itself to me. With regard to the sections of the Constitution to which frequent reference has been made, I think we can all agree that the Bills referred to are of two, and only two, classes - those that we may amend and those that we may not. That is an elementary division with which no one can disagree.
– There is another class.
– 1 know what the honorable and learned senator is referring to, but practically there are only two classes.
In its nature this Bonus Bill belongs to the former class. I agree with the PostmasterGeneral that this is a Bill which, in its nature, we may amend, but the third paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution imposes the further restriction that we may not amend a Bill - so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
– That makes another class of Bill.
– It does not create another class; but it affects this question. The question is, first of all, purely one of form - whether we should make an amendment or a request. Secondly - and this, to my mind, is far the more important part of it - it is a question of substance. The consideration we have to face is whether the amendment is one that increases a proposed charge or burden on the people. I do not attach very much importance to the matter of form. Our power to make amendments is not in any way diminished because it is clothed in .the form of requests. As one of the members of the Convention said, the value of a request is determined largely by the support which the Senate gives to it, I might say by the personnel of the Senate.
– “ By the men behind the guns.”
– Or “ by the men behind the guns’,” if the honorable senator prefers that homely metaphor. Therefore, the question of form is not a very important one, but as we must have some formality, we must decide it. The arguments which I propose to adduce will be directed chiefly to the question of substance - whether the amendment is one that will increase a proposed charge or burden on the people. Senator Baker is most obviously of opinion that it will not do so. We have had from him many arguments upon this point which seem to me to be remarkably strange, and yet I gather, from various interjections which have been made, that he is supported by several honorable senators in the view which he adopts, and that there are many who positively believe that any appropriation from the revenue is in no sense a charge or burden on the people. May I ask honorable senators first of ail to direct their attention to the sugar bonus. Do we, or do we not, hear that it is going to cost the Commonwealth some hundreds of thousands of pounds ? I do not desire to raise any question as to a white Australia. But is the statement that it is going to cost us .£300,000 purely, illusory. Is there to be no payment at all 1 Does it mean nothing? I venture to say that it does mean something, and that there is going to be an absolute charge on the people to £he extent of some £300,000.
– No one denies it.
– Yet we are told that this will not be a charge or burden on the people.
– The real question is whether this is the Bill which imposes the charge.
– There is no question that this Bill does so. Does the honorable senator refer to the distinction between a rebate and a bonus 1
– I refer the honorable and learned senator to the distinction between the raising of revenue and the spending, of it.
– So far as I know in a little while we may be considering the question of another bonus. Let us assume that we were discussing a bonus in con,nexion with the iron industry. I cannot think that there is an honorable senator who would advance the argument that in providing for a payment in bonuses of £250,000 in connexion with- the iron industry we were not bound to. impose some burden or charge on the people. It would seem to me that a statement of that sort would be promptly accepted, and that we’ should all of us at once agree that we should necessarily increase the impost or burden on the people. If there be any honorable senator who can conceive it possible by some subtlety or refinement of .language or thought that such a bonus would not be a burden on the people, then I wouldsay to him - “For Heaven’s sake let us give hundreds of bonuses. We cannot have too many of these things.” I would admit that a bonus would be a very good thing for theiron and a hundred and one other industries. I might object to it because of the charge or burden on the people, but if any honorable senator will assure me that it is not a charge or burden on the people, I shall vote for bonuses wholesale. Letme take the illustration that Senator Bakeroffered. He said that of course the Post and Telegraph Act necessarily involved- certain appropriations of revenue, and he asked -
Did any one of these appropriations increase the burdens of the people? Certainly not, because the Post-office pays its way.
Supposing that the Post-office did not payits way, on his own showing there would be distinctly an increase of the burden on the people. In all these cases, whether the service pays its way or does not pay its way, a charge remains on the people. If it paid its way and it cost nothing there would be such a surplus that taxation in other directions might be lessened. It does not matter whether at the end of the financial year you have a deficit or a surplus. If you have a service which costs any money the people have to pay. “Who else is there who can ? Another illustration seemed to me to be still more unhappy. Senator Baker said -
Take the Audit Act. What was the object in appointing an Auditor-General with all his officials and paying their salaries ? It was to decrease the burdens on the people.
I venture to submit that if 3*ou were to tell any business man that when he had to put down in his yearly sheet the cost of insurance he was thereby lessening his expense, he would think that you were an absolute lunatic.
– Or the cost of auditing his own business ?
– Precisely. Senator Baker says that because we have an Auditor-General who costs so much, that payment positively decreases the burden on the people. Could any fallacy be more thin than that ? Could any business man say that because he has to pay insurance charges, the annual expenses in conducting his business are therefore less t Of course, he takes into consideration such charges on all occasions. In running his business, he would say, “ These various items cost me so much, and insurance costs me so much yearly.” The Audit Act costs the Common wealth so much every year for an Auditor-General, and the cost of that officer and of his staff is paid by the people. There is no other possible source from which the money can come.
– Senator Baker’s argument was that if we did not have that insurance we might have an increased cost.
– His argument was that because we had that expense the people bad less to pay.
– It may be a safeguard.
– It may. As a matter of fact because we have that expense the people have more to pay. In other words, the people have to pay for the safeguard, and if they do it is an additional tax or burden on them. I have taken these two illustrations from Senator Baker’s speech, and I think I have clear])’ pointed out how thin his fallacies are, andhow absurd it is to argue that, because you have to undertake certain necessary expenditure, you are thereby relieving the people of a burden. You must necessarily impose a burden on the people because it has to be done. I ask the assent of honorable senators to this simple statement, that the Consolidated Revenue Fund is simply a fund which is provided by taxation levied on the people of the Commonwealth to defray the charges of government. It cannot possibly be anything else. Every amount which is paid, out of that fund is a debit against the people. It cannot be placed in any other, category. I admit that the fund provided may or may not be sufficient to meet all the charges, but that is a matter of no importance to this argument. For instance, there may be a deficit or surplus at the end of the year, but that fact cannot possibly alter any of the incidence of the payment. It cannot possibly alter the fact that all these payments are charges on the people. I cannot conceive that any honorable senator can deny those propositions. I agree with the Chairman that the amendment of Senator Glassey does increase, and was by him intended .to increase, the charge on the revenue. It may be asked how it is that Senator Baker has fallen into the extraordinary delusion that it is a decrease. I am afraid that he proceeded to argue as if he were dealing with a rebate. While he was speaking I asked him if he thought that the rebate now was a reality, and I am afraid that his arguments throughout were” vitiated by the fact that Iia was continuously thinking, not of a bonus, but of a rebate. I can prove that he is convicted out of his own mouth. He said that the object of the proposed amendment was to extend the number of people to whom the rebate might be granted, and to enlarge the quantity of sugar upon which that rebate might be claimed. If honorable senators will substitute the word “bonus “for the word “ rebate,” they will see how he is convicted out of his own mouth. The amendment will certainly increase the number of persons to whom the bonus is to be granted, and enlarge the quantity of sugar that has to be grown in order to earn the money.. Is it conceivable that the amendment can have any other effect than to increase the amount paid in bonuses by increasing the number of persons who receive it. If that is so, it is perfectly obvious that the Bill will increase the burdens on the people. How is the bonus to be paid? It is to be paid by a levy on the citizens of the Commonwealth. How, with that set of circumstances before him, one can argue that the effect of the amendment is not to increase the burden on the people I cannot conceive. I would point out to Senator Baker where and how he has -made the mistake. It is all contained in one brief sentence in his first speech. He said* -
If the words “ increase any proposed charge or burden on the people” include taxation - and that is what my argument comes to - what was the object of putting them into the section ?
That is exactly what his argument does come to - that those words include taxation only. He admits that the only way he can conceive that the burden on the people is going to be increased is by taxation. To that statement I give an absolute denial. There are many other ways in which the burden on the people can be increased other than by a taxation Bill, and I think it is because he has been unable to perceive that fact that he has fallen into the many errors which, from my point of view, abound in his speech. If, of course, this were a taxation Bill the whole thing would require no discussion. But it is not a taxation Bill ; and it is because Senator Baker cannot see any other way of increasing the burden on the people than by taxation that he has come to a conclusion which, in my opinion, is absolutely erroneous. Coming back to the formal part of the matter, I should like to say with regard to our attitude towards the other House that I think honorable senators will agree with me that it is desirable that we should be within rather than without our powers. There can be no doubt that we shall be within our powers in making a request; and, inasmuch as the effect of making a request “is precisely the same - and always will be from my point of view - as if we made an amendment - because it depends upon the subsequent attitude of the Senate, and in no sense upon the formal method by which we convey our views - surely it is desirable that we should be careful to be within our rights rather than assert too much and possibly go beyond them. Surely Senator Downer agrees with that.
– I should say that the case is exactly the other way about.
– I have never yet been able to satisfy myself that any individual, or any collection of individuals, in this world benefit themselves by asserting more than they are able to substantiate.
– And none benefit themselves by asserting less ; every man knows that.
– I do not think that every man knows that. In tlie present case, seeing that there is absolutely no difference in effect and in result between a request and an amendment, I do not see the use of possibly going beyond our powers. Senator Downer mistakes the form for the substance. Are we chiefly concerned about a formality ? Surely Senator Downer takes a more exalted view of this Senate and our rights than to be a mere stickler for form. Surely he wants something of substance.
– I have no care for the form at all.
– Then Senator Downer must agree with me that in substance - that is to say, in effect and result to the Senate - there is no difference between enforcing requests and enforcing amendments.
– That can only apply to Bills originating in the other Chamber.
– I cannot see that.
– We might set a precedent by putting in a request in this case which might be applied against us later on in connexion with a Bill originating in the Senate.
– If that remark is applied to this Hill it is a formal matter.
– Oh, no.
– In substance - I am not dealing with the form - there is no difference whatever between making a request and making an amendment.
– I deny that.
– The whole thing depends upon’ our subsequent attitude.
What was the difference, for instance, between repeating and enforcing requests upon the Tariff and repeating and enforcing amendments upon other Bills ? What was the difference in effect and result so far as concerned the amendments and requests insisted upon 1 I frankly confess I am wholly unable to find any difference whatever.
– If this Bill had been originally introduced to Parliament in the Senate, the honorable and learned senator’s argument would lead us to this ‘position - that we could not have inserted this amendment ourselves.
– We could have made a request.
– We could not have initiated this amendment.
– Not initiated an amendment, because we had the Bill introduced in the Senate ?
– If this Bill had been initiated in the Senate, and our powers only enable us to make a request, we should have been unable to initiate an amendment of this character.
– I regret that at the present moment I am unable to follow the honorable and learned senator. I am perfectly certain that he is not trying to draw me off the path.
– I am following the honorable and learned senator’s argument.
– I am perfectly convinced of the fact as I have stated it - that, in substance, effect, and result, there is no difference whatever between request and amendment. The formal part of this debate-does not appeal to me seriously. I put it again to the Committee that the most material thing we have to consider is that which deals with the substance - whether we do or do not, by altering the Bill in the direction of Senator Glassey’s proposal, increase the burden on the people. That after all is the main issue. I do not suppose there will be any denial of the fact. I have pointed out quite full)7 that it is impossible to conceive that any appropriation of revenue which we may suggest does not involve an increase of the burden on the people. The revenue must come from the people. We have no extraneous source from which we can appropriate revenue without taking it out of the pockets of the taxpayers. Parliament cannot come down upon any fund and say - “ We will take this, and the people will not know anything about it.” There is no fund available for purposes of expenditure in any direction whatever which is not supplied by the people. I do not care whether the money comes out of the profits of the service, or out of taxation ; I do not care from what source it comes ; whenever Parliament appropriates money, that money must necessarily increase directly or indirectly - and, of course, in this case it does it indirectly - the burdens on the people. If Parliament takes an additional £5-note from the revenue it increases the burden on the people. I do not understand that it is denied by any honorable senator that the effect of Senator Glassey’s amendment is to increase the amount” to be paid in bonuses.
– It increases the amount to be paid in bonuses, certainly.
– Undoubtedly it does. I am very glad to have that admission. Indeed, I cannot conceive of an honorable senator denying the proposition. We- are therefore agreed upon this point - that the effect of the amendment is to increase the amount of the bonuses to be distributed. Then it will be worth while to consider whence the money is to be derived. It is to be subscribed per capita by the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. If that be so it surely is a tax or burden on them. It cannot be a treat to them. It cannot be reducing their taxation or putting money in their pockets. If Parliament has to find additional money and the people have to pay it, it must be a burden on them. I think Senator Baker fell into another mistake in quoting to us from the House of Commons Standing Orders, where, as the Postmaster-General has pointed out, the word “ burden “ does not appear. It is only another illustration, from my point of view, of the error into which Senator Baker has fallen throughout of assuming that we can only impose a burden on the people by way of taxation. There are other means of imposing a burden. I can quite “understand that the word “ charge “ is particularly applicable to a taxation Bill, but surely Senator Baker can see that “ burden” is the sort of word which would apply to an extra appropriation that the people had to find by direct or indirect means. I do not think I need pursue the argument any further. I opt only express my surprise that there should be any one in this Chamber to say that we can take from the revenue any sum of money for any particular purpose of expenditure without thereby increasing the taxation upon the people. It is inconceivable to me, seeing that the people have to find the money, how by any subtlety of argument or any refinement of thought, we can establish such a position as that by taking money from the people we are not in any way increasing the charges on them.I suppose it will be admitted that we must increase the burden on some one. How can we get money if we do not? Who finds the money ? The people find it. The more we take from them the heavier the burden we place on them. That being so, I cannot come to any other conclusion than that Senator Glassey’s proposal does increase the burden on the people by increasing the amount to be distributed in bonuses, and, therefore, I shall vote in such a direction as to carry out my views - that the word to be used is the word “ request “ and not the word “amendment.” Possibly I may be allowed to refer to one other matter which I am very glad to say is not now before us, but which we shall some day have to determine. It is a question at which the Chairman hinted in his speech last week. It is whether in the same Bill we can both amend and make requests. I frankly say that to me that is rather a difficult question, and, as at present advised, I cannot support the view that in the same Bill - and still less in the same clause - the Senate can, at the same time, both make an amendment and a request. Fortunately, as the Chairman has put it, the question is not now before us, but at some time it will be before us ; and I take the opportunity of saying briefly that, so far as I am concerned, I cannot conceive that at any time I shall be likely to support the proposal that we can both make amendments and requests in the same Bill.
Senator FRASER (Victoria). - I am sorry that I cannot quite follow my honorable and learned friend who has just sat down. To a lay mind, this is a very complicated question. If the sugar-growers who will be affected by this amendment increase their production very largely the import duty on sugar will cease altogether. Consequently the revenue received from imported sugar will disappear in future years.
I venture to make the prediction that within twenty years no sugar will be imported into the Commonwealth. Possibly if the bonushad never been put on, and if the sugar industry had been left alone, the production of sugar would soon have overtaken the consumption in the Commonwealth.
– But suppose it does not?
– Every one who is conversant with the sugar industry believes, I think, that sugar production will overtake sugar consumption in Australia.
– Suppose that an increase were made in the annual expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department of £100,000 a year, would not that increase the burdens of the people?
– If you increase the expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department you cannot possibly increase the revenue.
– You may.
– But if you encourage men to grow sugar you increase production. I think I am right in saying that a few years ago the sugar production of Australia was about 150,000 tons in one year. The Australian consumption - speaking under correction - is about 180,000 tons per annum. The quantity of sugar produced in Australia did not take many years to reach 150,000 tons. We have been very unfortunate during the last few years in regard to the sugar production, and let me add that, but for the interference of the Government, I think we should have done very much better.
– Will the honorable senator apply his argument to an iron bonus? We might have bonuses for the production of everything.
– The iron business is not. like the sugar industry. The sugar industry is almost indigenous to the soil.
– Is there any bonus upon iron ?
– I think such a bonus has been proposed.
– If we produce all that is required here, the people will have to pay no taxation upon it, but they will have to pay the bonus.
-I grant that if we largely increase the amount paid in bonuses somebody will have to pay it, but we shall lessen the duty paid on imported sugar. I predict that in a very short time there will be no sugar imported from abroad into the Commonwealth, if we do not in the meantime foolishly destroy the sugar industry, and we have gone a good way towards doing that already. Of course we are now helping the industry very much in giving a protection of £3 per ton irrespective of the excise duty, an advantage which the producers of sugar never had before. My difficulty is that, as we decrease the quantity of sugar imported, and this Bill must have that effect, there is no other alternative, we increase protection.
– This Bill does not affect consumption.
SenatorFRASER. - This Bill will increase production, and will largely lessen importation. Probably in ten years, if we are lucky, there will be no sugar imported, and what then becomes of the argument that this is a proposal to increase the burden on the taxpayer? I cannot follow that argument.
– We are giving a bonus, and the taxpayers are paying nothing for it ! Then let us have them everywhere ; we cannot have enough or too many of them.
– One of the principal newspapers stated that the white Australia policy is costing £400,000 a year.
SenatorFRASER. - I do not agree with the view that we ought to make this amendment by way of request. If we have the right, or apparent right, to make an amendment, I think it would be an exhibition of weakness to make a request. We ought to make what we honestly believe we are entitled to make, and if we honestly believe that we are entitled to make an amendment, and I must come to that conclusion, we should not be satisfied with a request. I think we shall be safer in making an amendment rather than a request.
– If the other House rejects it, what will the honorable senator’s attitude be then ?
– I never take into consideration what another person will do. I do what I think is right, and if the other man makes an ass of himself in dealing with me, that is his look-out.
– Then the honorable senator is prepared never to back down.
– Yes ; I will give way a lot rather than have a row, but I will not show the white feather to start with.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).It seems to me that this is a Bill providing for a certain allocation of the proceeds of revenue, and the crux of our difficulty lies in the words of the Constitution that the Senate may not “ increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.” Does that include an appropriation of revenue?Prima facie, it does not, because no one can increase a charge by the mere allocation of the proceeds of that charge. We are a States House, and this is a matter between the States. It is very clearly a question of a portion of the people paying something to another portion of the people, and it does not involve an increase of a burden. It has been pointed out by Senator Baker that in the Adelaide Convention Sir Edmund Barton said, with regard to section 53 of the Constitution, that the Senate was not deprived of the power of amending appropriation measures, except so far as regards an appropriation for the ordinary annual services. Clearly, under section 53 of the Constitution, we are entitled to make the amendment as proposed.
– Occupying my present position I am not justified in entering upon any further elaborate argument in support of the views I stated at the outset in, I trust, a simple and lucid manner. No doubt a very instructive argument has taken place since then, and perhaps I may be permitted to say one or two words, and, in doing so, will not be treated as transgressing my duties as Chairman of Committees. In the first place, certain remarks made by Senator Glassey might lead the Committee to think that I had expressed some doubt as to the power of the Senate to amend this Bill, that it will be found that I most conclusively expressed the view that the Senate has a right to amend this Bill so long as it does not thereby increase the burden on the people. We are agreed about so much. Then, as to the second question, concerning which I had to give my opinion as to the power of the Senate. in this Bill to make a request, I expressed my views on the principles laid down in section 53 of the Constitution as regards Bills which we have not the power to amend. That is to say, that we have the right to make requests upon those Bills Nothing, however, is said as to what we should do in regard to those Bills, which we can amend, but which we seek to alter, under paragraph (3) of section 53, which provides that -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase a proposed charge or burden on the people.
Having regard to the principle laid down with respect to Bills which we cannot amend, by analogy I say that we have the right to make requests as regards Bills that we can amend in a limited way. I said, moreover, that we had, under the circumstances, an inherent right to do so ; consequently, I put the proposed amendment as a request, differing in this conclusion from the contention ofmy honorable and learned friend the Postmaster-General. The second matter I desire to mention is in regard to something which has been said by Senator Gould : The honorable and learned senator drew attention to a paragraph in my remarks, and I am very much obliged to him for doing so, because the expression there used, although obvious when considered with the context, is at least ambiguous. The expression to which the honorable and learned senator took exception is this -
The growth of sugar by white labour might become so great that the bonus would be in excess of the revenue from the excise. Such a thing is possible.
I was arguing at the time that honorable senators had no right to consider the excise in regard to this Bill at all. The excise is levied by a separate measure and goes into the consolidated revenue. It is merged in the consolidated revenue, and we, therefore, have no right in considering this grant of a bonus to take any notice of the rate or amount of the excise. This bonus is granted from the consolidated revenue as it stands, made up from many sources. I meant to convey that in the future it might be possible or desirable even to reduce the excise, and the bonus might then exceed it in amount. That was for the purpose of showing that there was absolutely no connexion between this Bill and the excise, and that honorable senators were not justified in taking it into consideration, having regard to the express terms of the Bill, and that this is a special appropriation out of the consolidated revenue. Another point in the debate I desire to remark upon is that some honorable senators who hold that the Senate has a right to amend this Bill in the direction of Senator Glassey’s proposal would from their remarks lead one to believe that those who differ from them are not as conservative of the rights of the Senate as they are themselves. I think that is very unfair to those who hold an honest opinion in the contrary direction. We are all anxious to know what exactly are our rights, and the difference of opinion in the Senate indicates that the matter is not so free from doubt as is contended. I personally would very much have preferred to take the view of Senator Baker. If the matter were absolutely clear and undoubted, there is no honorable senator present who would not prefer to take that view but, on the other hand, if we are convinced that that view is wrong, we must not hesitate to do so. It must not be forgotten that the responsibility is cast upon each of us of doing what we conceive to be right, and of exercising those powers which we think we have a right to exercise. Because if we make a mistake in this direction we know that it is calculated to place us in a somewhat undignified position hereafter. Consequently, I am sure that we shall all be given credit for an anxiety to uphold the rights of the Senate, notwithstanding the views we may hold upon this matter. May I just put my chief argument in a nutshell ? It is this -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law.
The proposed law in this case is the Bonus Bill, which is before us now. We are not justified in looking at anything else, so as to increase any proposed charge.
We look for the proposed charge in this proposed law, and the proposed charge in this proposed law is the provision for the payment out of the consolidated revenue of certain moneys to a certain limited number of people. Now, that is the amount, charge, or burden we cannot increase. Suppose it were said that there should be paid out of the consolidated revenue, £60,000. That would be the proposed charge in this proposed law, and section 53 of the Constitution says that we are not to increase that proposed charge which is mentioned in the proposed law - the Bill before us - and, consequently, if Senator Glassey submitted a proposal that we should make that £60,000 £160,000 - for that is the exact parallel of
Senator Glassey’s amendment then paragraph (3) of section 53 of the Constitution says that we have no power to do that. That is to say, we have riot the power to increase a proposed charge of ?60,000 to one of ?160,000. That is the view which I take of that matter, and I desire to express the opinion that they are not justified in looking at what is the duty levied on importations, or what is the duty levied by way of excise. They have no right to consider that question. They have only a right to look at the Bill which is immediately before them. They have no right to enter into abstract calculations as to what may or may not take place. They have only a right to say whether the proposed charge immediately before them will be increased by the amendment proposed to be made. That is my view of the position, arid to my mind the arguments which have taken place tend to increase the conviction that I hitherto expressed. We come now to the view which is suggested that this is a charge on the revenue, and not a charge on the people. I would point out, as other honorable senators in my opinion have conclusively pointed out, that the revenue is raised from the people, and that, if it is suggested that it has already been raised and that this is a mere allocation of that revenue, we must consider a further point. Let us suppose that the result of the increased charge means encroaching beyond the amount of revenue that we have already raised. In other words, let us assume, by way of illustration, that we have raised a revenue of ?9,000,000, and that by reason of the amendment our appropriation of revenue will amount to ?9,300,000. In that case, of course, there would be a deficiency of ?300,000. I am taking now the view that we are simply appropriating the revenue already raised, and that by reason of the increase involved in the amendment, the total appropriation amounts to ?9,300,000. What takes place? The ?300,000 represents a deficit and is carried over to the succeeding year, when taxation is raised to cover the liability that is created. But I adopt the other view of the matter, and that is this : The Treasurer has to make up his Estimate of what he is likely to require for the year. Perhaps, in framing his Estimates, he calculated that he would require ?60,000 for this purpose, but he finds that it is proposed to increase the amount to ?160,000. Consequently, he has to provide for that increase, or ?160,000 in all, and then, by Ways and Means, he has to raise sufficient money to cover the whole of the liability.
– He must make savings in other directions.
– If I may be permitted to say so, that consideration has really nothing to do with the question. I hold that, from whatever aspect we choose to view the proposed amendment, it means an increased charge or burden on the people. Therefore, holding that view strongly, as I did, I felt that I had no alternative but to put the proposed amendment in the form of a request. In order that we may come to a fair division, I shall explain how I propose to put the questions before the Chair. First of all, we shall dispose of the motion immediately before the Chair. We shall all agree to that. Then Senator Glassey will move -
That the clause be amended by inserting after the word “ three “ the words “or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
That will be moved by way of amendment. Then I propose that some honorable senator shall move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “clause be amended,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the House of Representatives bo requested to amend the clause.”
In that way we shall have an opportunity of testing the constitutional question apart from the merits of the Bill, which it is important to eliminate from that question. I agree that we cannot arrive at a unanimous decision on the matter, but we have to find a means of testing the constitutional question apart from the merits of the Bill.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Glassey) proposed -
That the clause be amended by inserting after the word “three” the words “or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
Amendment of the amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by omitting the words “the clause be amended,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause.”
– I think I have a right to say a word or two before we proceed to a division, because I am one of the few who have taken up the position that we can neither amend this Bill nor make requests in regard to it. The amendment is being put in a very peculiar way. I wish it to be understood that in agreeing to recommit the Bill in order that we might be able to discuss this clause again, I had no idea of re-opening the discussion of the subject on its merits. I did not divide the Committee on the last occasion when I saw that there was an overwhelming feeling that we should obtain this amendment in some way or other. If the question is to be put in the way proposed, however, I shall feel bound to vote against the amendment of the amendment. I shall vote with SenatorGlassey upon this point, because I hold thatif the proposal will not tend to increase the burden on the people the proper course for us to pursue is to make an amendment, and not a request, and that if we cannot make the alteration by way of amendment we cannot do so by way of request.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the proposed amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Glassey) agreed to-
That the following words be added “ Provided that no bonus shall be paid in respect of the production of sugar on land which has been cultivated by other than white labour after a bonus has been paid in respect of the production of sugarthereon.”
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided further that the said bonus shall not be paid in respect of any cane cultivated by the labour of women, or of children under the age of sixteen years.”
A previous amendment which I moved dealt with the labour of women and children generally, while this amendment deals with cultivation only, and will not affect the employment of lads for driving carts and so on. There is that marked difference between the two amendments. Owing to an unfortunate sharp attack of illness, I was prevented from being in the Senate last week, and I was, therefore, unable to obtain a division on my previous amendment, which I regarded as of extreme consequence from the humanitarian stand-point. If it is desired that there should be a debate on this amendment, I am quite prepared to discuss it, otherwise I shall be satisfied to take a. division, with the few words of explanation that I have offered.
– Is the honorable member satisfiedthat women do work in the cane-fields? That is the thing I had to fight last week.
– Certainly and, if necessary, it could be proved very plainly from the Hansard reports of more than one speech by Senator Stewart. But. as the matter has been discussed, I. do not. wish to rediscuss it.
– It was argued last week that, inasmuch as women do not. work in the cane-fields, it is not necessary to make this provision.
.- When we are passing a Bill dealing with crime we are not required to prove that every one of the offences for which it makes provision has been committed. We say that such offences may be committed, and therefore we pass a statute to punish the guilty persons. I propose this provision in the same manner.
– I desire to know, sir, whether this question has not already been decided by the Committee?
– Not in this Committee. The Bill has been recommitted.
– Was it recommitted on notice ?
– I do not think- so, but it is a new Committee, and therefore the amendment is quite in order.
– Is it competent when a Bill is recommitted to go over the whole ground again ?
– In this case the whole Bill was recommitted. Sometimes only certain clauses of a Bill are recommitted, and then the Committee is confined to those clauses.
– I am in the unfortunate position that I cannot support Senator Neild if he includes women in his amendment. If he were to confine the provision to children under a certain age I should feel inclined to support him.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Senator Neild has no hope of carrying this amendment, but I suppose he thinks that he will put some of us in this corner in a peculiar position. I can assure him that while we have every desire to lighten the burden of every woman throughout the Commonwealth, we cannot see our way clear to vote for his amendment. He knows very well that there are thousands of women in the cities and towns whohave to work harder, and at a lower rate of wages per day, than the women on the plantations and farms in Queensland, and indeed throughout the Commonwealth. I should be very anxious if I could to improve the lot of women workers throughout the Common wealth ; but I do not think that this amendment is likely to do so. What does the honorable senator intend to make of the wives of struggling farmers in Queensland? Does heforamoment think that these men who go on to the land, and deserve more encouragement than I suppose any other class in the community, are in a position to keep their wives in a state of idleness ? Does he think that the pulling up of a few weeds on a farm is harder than to labour for half-a-crown a day in a laundry? From his efforts to bring mangles into the Commonwealth at a lower rate of duty, he must know a good deal about what laundry women have to do, and certainly he must know that they have to work a great deal harder for a lower recompense, and under far more unhealthy conditions, than the wives of farmers. The amendment is a bit of claptrap, and I shall have to vote against it.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I would remind Senator Higgs that we are not now asked to deal with the women who, he says, work in the cities at low wages and under unhealthy conditions. If we were dealing with a Bill to give a bonus for all classes of work - laundry work, shop work, or whatever it might be - we might have to consider whether it should be paid unless the work were done under certain conditions. We are asked by the Bill to give a bonus to the persons who are growing cane with white labour, and, therefore, his argument does not apply.
– I rise to order. I desire to know, sir, if the honorable senator is not speaking out of his place contrary to Standing Order 120, which says -
Every member desiring to speak shall rise in his place–
– I think that the honorable senator may be allowed to proceed with his speech.
– I was surprised to find honorable senators trying to shield themselves by bringing up the case of the women who work in the factories and other places in our cities. We are not asked by the Bill to give a bonus to that class of labour, and therefore it cannot be dealt with. When we are asked to subscribe towards the production of sugar-cane by white labour, we ought to have a say as to the conditions under which the industry shall be conducted. I agree with Senator Neild that we ought not to give a bonus where the sugarcane has been produced by the labour of women and young children.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I must congratulate the wives and children of the farmers of Queensland upon the new-found champions who have risen in the Senate. It is a pity that Senator Neild did not take the decision of the Senate on a previous occasion when a very decisive vote was taken.
– Because the honorable senator did not happen to be here, does he imagine that his influence, or his eloquence, would have altered the minds of many honorable senators who were prepared to vote in any direction on that occasion ? I ask Senators Charleston and Neild do they really understand the position in which they would place the white cane-growers of Queensland by carrying an amendment of this description. The wives and daughters of the cane farmers there are so closely. associated with those engaged in the industry that very probably they have to cook their meals. The cooking of the meals of of white cane-growers would, in the minds of some honorable senators, who are so ready to split straws on any constitutional question, disqualify them from receiving the bonus. If the farmer’s wife or daughter goes out into the cane-field to speak to the farmer and his employes, they will be assisting in the production of cane.
– That is not cultivating cane.
– It is “assisting” in the cultivation of cane. Suppose that while the men were resting during the meal hour, the wife or daughter happened gather an armful of cane, and put it on the truck - that would be assisting. Or if they pluckeda few weeds it would be assisting. Are the Government to keep an army of men looking oyer the fences to prevent that sort of thing being done? The proposal is absurd. The honorable senators who have so suddenly taken a greater interest in the women than they took before are enough to warrant any one in voting against the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The bonus in the case of sugar-cane shall be at the rate of four shillings per ton calculatedon cane giving ten per cent, of sugar, and shall be increased or reduced proportionately according to any variation from this standard.
– In endeavouring to ascertain the exact meaning of the terms used in the Constitution and in this Bill, with a view of giving a correct vote on the constitutional point which has been raised, I discovered that the word “ bonus,” which appears in the Bill, is used nowhere in the Constitution. In section 51, paragraph (3), it is provided that Parliament shall have power to make laws in respect of-
Bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
It is under that paragraph that the Government have introduced this Bill. We ought, as far as possible, to adhere to the terms of the Constitution. We should not adopt words about the meaning of which there is a difference of opinion. I find on consulting various dictionaries that the word bounty means “ a premium to encourage any branch of industry.” I find that the word bonus means “ a premium beyond the usual interest on a loan ; “ “ an extra dividend to shareholders : “ “an extra gratuity paid to a workman to serve ; “ a douceur or “a bribe.” In the new English dictionary edited by Dr. Murray, we have stated the origin of the word bonus, and I should like honorable senators to listen to it-
Bonus - An ignorant or jocular application of the Latinbonus “good” (man) probably intended to signify a boon, “ a good thing,” (bonum). Probably originally stock exchange slang.
I think I have said enough to induce honorable senators to adopt the word used in the Constitution. If honorable members of another place, through their association with certain people in the community, get into habits of carlessness with regard to their language, we should pull them up ; and if they use the word bonus when the term bounty should be used, I submit that we should amend the Bill. Accordingly, I move -
That the word “ bonus,” line 1, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “bounty.”
– I hope the honorable senator will not persevere in this amendment, which is quite unnecessary. It will not make a bit of difference whether the word bonus or the word bounty is introduced. The fact that the word bounty is used in the Constitution does not affect the matter at all. There is no legal question involved, and it will be a pity to alter the word now, inasmuch as it has been used in the title to the Bill, and we should have to undo all our work for no useful purpose.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am sorry to say that my experience of Senator Drake as a Minister shows me that when he gets anything in print in front of him he cannot submit to any alteration, no matter how strong may be the feeling of honorable senators. He wants to adhere to his book and oppose any amendment whatever. The honorable and learned senator knows very well that in many law suits which have taken place it has been said - it was stated, for instance, by a lawyer in the Queensland Legislative Assembly - that lawyers live on the differences of opinion that exist with regard to the meaning of words. I submit that, although this anomaly has been discovered at a late hour, it is not too late to correct it. The Senate exists not only to guard the genera], physical, and moral well-being of the community, but also to see that we keep the English language as pure as possible. If we are going to adopt a word which Dr. Murray describes as slang, why not go further and put in the word “ tip “’! So far as concerns going back upon our work if this amendment is made, the consequential alterations can be made by the Clerk at the table.
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause- 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Title consequentially amended and agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Bill be reported with amendments, and withan amended title.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) agreed to.
That all the words after “That” be omitted, witha view to insert in lien thereof the words “ clauses 1 and2 be reconsidered.”
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 1 and 2 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and an amended title ; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Drake) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Drake) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 9.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030708_senate_1_14/>.