1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD presented a petition from Chambers of Commerce in the Commonwealth, praying that justice might be done in the case of Mr. Magnus Goldring, and that the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers might be brought under the jurisdiction of some court of law wherein any citizen could claim immemorial rights.
Petition received and read.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD presented a similar petition from 64 citizens of Sydney.
Senator PLAYFORD presented a petition from 4,096 electors of the State of South Australia praying the Senate to amend the J udiciary Bill.
Petition received and read.
Senator PLAYFORD presented a similar petition from 617 electors of the State of South Australia.
Senator GLASSEY presented a petition from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures, praying the Senate to repeal section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act.
Petition received and read.
– A great many questions have been asked in the Senate from time to time which ought to have taken the form of a motion for a return, but I have not insisted on the strict construction of the standing orders because it seemed to me convenient that the questions should be asked. Senator Higgs, who has just given notice of certain questions, will see, if he will refer to the standing orders, that no argument can be inserted, but only such facts stated as will show the reasons for asking the questions. When I see the questions in print I may have to ask the honorable senator to modify them.
– The report has been printed, but its presentation is delayed owing to the preparation of maps which are being printed in Sydney. They will be finished, it is believed, to-day, and it is hoped that the report will be laid on the table on Wednesday next.
– I suppose there will be no avoidable delay ; there has been some amount of delay already.
– I am assured by my colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, that there will be no difficulty in laying the report on the table of the Senate on Wednesday.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table
Correspondence relating to British War Office and Admiralty Supplies.
Royal assent reported.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
There is no agreement between the Federal Postal Department and the British Government whereby half-ounce letters from Great Britain bearing an English Id. stamp would be delivered within the Commonwealth without extra charge to the recipient. There has been correspondence on the subject, but no definite conclusion has been arrived at, and pending such conclusion the existing rate of postage, namely, twopence halfpenny, must be maintained.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it, or is it not, the practice of the Customs to consider that section 240 of the Customs Act raises the minimum of any fine under the Act, which, but for this clause, is otherwise collectable?
– In answer to the honorable senator, I have to say that -
The practice of the Customs is to consider that section 240 of the Customs Act in no way affects minimum penalties.
Ordered (on motion by Senator De Largie) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a copy of the correspondence between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia, relating to the trans-Australian railway.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Pulsford) -
That a month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Harney on account of urgent private affairs.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Pearce) -
That a return he laid upon the table of the Senate, showing -
The number of applications for patents in each of the States for the year ending June, 1903?
The number of patents issued in each of the States for that term?
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th July, vide page 1958) :
Clause 5 -
An applicant under paragraph (a) of the preceding section shall produce in support of his application -
a certificate signed by a Justice of the Peace that the applicant is known to him,and is, to the best of his knowledge and belief, a person of good repute.
An applicant who is a woman shall also produce in support of her application her own statutory declaration that she is not married.
– I move -
That after the word “ Peace,” line 5, the words “postmaster or schoolmaster” be inserted.
While in some States there are plenty of justices of the peace, in others they are more scarce. A person making an application under this clause has to be personally Known to a justice of the peace. A large number of persons may not be personally known. We should enlarge the chances of their being known to responsible persons.
-Col. Neild. - Magistrates are as numerous as the unemployed !
– That may be the case in New South Wales, but they are not so numerous in Western Australia. Postmasters and schoolmasters are responsible persons, who are not likely to give certificates to undesirable people.
– It would be better to say schoolmistresses as well.
– I believe that under the Post and Telegraph Act the word postmaster includes postmistresses.
– I am rather doubtful about this amendment. We discussed the same subject when the Electoral Act was under consideration. A similar proposal was then submitted, and the objection taken was that the term “schoolmaster “ was exceedingly vague. It might be taken to mean the master of a provisional school in a State, or even the master of a private school. Section 112 of the Electoral Act says -
Any elector who has received a postal ballotpaper shall, in the presence of a postmaster, or police or stipendiary or special magistrate, or the head masterof a State school, or some other person employed in the public service of the Commonwealth - and so on. There is no objection to postmasters, all of whom are highly respectable and responsible persons, but the remainder of the honorable senator’s proposal is rather too indefinite.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I will agree to alter my amendment so as to make it read -
Postmaster or head master of a State school.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I suggest that Senator Pearce should further amend his proposal. If the desire is to make it easy for a person who wishes to be naturalized to get some individuals to vouch for his respectability, the words “ two citizens” should be inserted. Quite recently there was brought under my notice a case which shows the difficulty of obtaining naturalization. A friend of mine, who is a Dane, desired to be naturalized. He brought his papers to me as he did not know much about the process. I filled them up for him, and told him to go to a justice of the peace. He went to a justice of the peace on two occasions, but did not find him at home. He brought the papers back to me disgusted, and said that he did not care about going any further with the matter, seeing that so many obstacles were placed in his way. However, I persuaded him to go to the justice of the peace again, and he was successful. We ought not to throw any obstacles in the way of persons wishing to become naturalized. It should be sufficient to provide that the necessary certificate shall be signed by two persons to whom the applicant is known.
– The objection to Senator Barrett’s suggestion is that the per. sons who signed the papers might not be identifiable. The document should be signed by persons occupying some position, so that it could be ascertained whether the signatures were bona, fide or otherwise. An unnaturalized person might bring along papers signed by Brown Or Jones. If . the names were fictitious it would be absolutely impossible to prove that.
– The addresses could be placed upon the papers.
– That would not show very much. We shall be going far enough in accepting Senator Pearce’s amendment, that the papers may be signed by a postmaster or the head master of a State school. In those remote parts of Australia where no schoolmaster or postmaster is available, people generally have no fixed abode. In the suburbs of Melbourne it would be perfectly easy to obtain the signature of a postmaster or the head master of a public school. I am inclined to think that in acceding to the amendment we shall be going as far as it is safe to go.
Senator MCGREGOR (South Australia).’ - I desire to move the omission of the words “a justice of the peace,” with a view to insert in their stead the words “ two electors.” We shall have a far greater security for the bona fides of an applicant for naturalization if his certificate is signed by two electors. I do not see why the applicant should be required to run after a justice of the peace, a postmaster, or the head master of a State school. A certificate of two electors should be a far better guarantee of the good repute of an applicant than one signed by any one individual, no matter what official position he may hold. I think we should not compel the applicant to hunt up some officer who may consider his position of such importance that he will throw such obstacles in the way of a person really desiring to become a British subject, that that person may turn away in disgust and have no more to do with the matter.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the words ‘* a Justice of the Peace,” lines 4 and 5, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ two electors.”
– A provision of the kind suggested in the amendment finds a place in the electoral law of New Zealand.
– That is only for the identification of an applicant for a vote. There is something more required here.
– Yes, an applicant for a vote in New Zealand gets the signature of two electors to a certificate testifying that he has been resident’ in a district for a sufficient length of time to entitle him to a vote. If it is thought that such a provision in this Bill might be abused, a penalty might be provided for the punishment of any one making a false declaration. I can well believe that two electors will know a great deal more about a person wishing to become naturalized than will a justice of the peace. Many justices of the peace witness declarations without . making any inquiry. They have not the time to investigate the bona fides of people who come before them for their signatures to documents of this character.
– I shall support the amendment, as I shall support any amendment which will put facilities in the way of applicants for naturalization rather than disabilities and difficulties. Senator Higgs has said that in the electoral law in New Zealand a certificate of two electors is considered a sufficient guarantee for a person applying to be placed upon the electoral roll. In my own State a much more important kind of application, in the estimation of some people at least, is held to be sufficiently vouched for by a certificate of two householders. I refer to the application of a man for a publican’s licence. In such a case a great many considerations are involved as to the respectability, reputation, integrity, and general good character of the applicant, and yet a certificate of two householders is held to be sufficient. In a State like Victoria the necessity for such an amendment as is proposed might not be as great as it is in some of the States which are larger in area and less populous. Here there is probably a greater number of justices of the peace ; but South .Australia comprises a very extensive territory, and in the country districts justices of the peace may be out of reach. A man at the Arltunga diggings or on some of the mining fields would find it exceedingly difficult to obtain naturalization if he had to ride perhaps hundreds of miles in search of a justice of the peace.
– And the justice of the peace would have to certify that he knew him.
– I dare say that he would do that if he were pressed sufficiently. I have known such things to occur. We know that justices of the peace very often, from a wish to oblige, give certificates without having the information or knowledge which would justify them in doing so.
– I would remind Senator Higgs that the certificate which must be produced under this Bill is one setting out that the applicant is of good repute, whilst in the case of the electoral law, to which the honorable senator has referred, it is only necessary to secure evidence that the applicant for a vote has been a resident of a particular district, and he may or may not be a person of good repute. The two cases are, therefore, not strictly analogous. I amnot sure whether it is desired that the words “two electors or “ two householders “ should be inserted, but the latter term would have this advantage, that a “ householder “ can always be found.
– Some honest people live in tents.
– No doubt many of those who live in tents are as honest as those who live in palaces, but as a rule those who live in tents do so because they are not permanently settled, and may suddenly require to remove from one place to another. We require the condition of permanency here, so as to be able to reach the person who certifies that an applicant is of good repute. I suggest that the words “ a Justice of the Peace “ should be allowed to remain in the clause. I assume that Senator McGregor has no objection to a justice of the peace being allowed to certify, and that he desires only that two electors may certify as an alternative.
– I have no objection to the retention of the words “a Justice of the Peace,” but I wish it to be clearly understood that if those words are retained we shall also provide for a certificate by two electors. If we provide for a certificate by a justice of the peace, or by two electors, it seems to me it will not be necessary to provide also for a certificate by a postmaster or the head-master of a State school. With respect to Senator Drake’s reply to my interjection, I remind the honorable and learned senator that a great majority of the people who live in tents are probably householders somewhere else, but that the necessities of their employment compel them to live in tents. That a man happens to live in a tent is no reason why he should not be considered just as respectable a citizen as anybody else. I have no objection to withdraw my amendment in order that it may be put in a form which will not involve the omission of the words a “ Justice of the Peace.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That after the word “Peace,” line 5, the words “ or two electors of the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
– Is it really necessary to have this part of the clause at all ? We require from the applicant himself a statutory declaration giving his name, age, birthplace, occupation, length of residence in Australia, and all the rest of it. We make him responsible for this declaration, and if he swears falsely he can be punished for perjury. Having gone so far, why should we require a certificate signed by a justice of the peace, that the applicant is known to him,and is to the best of his knowledge and belief a person of good repute. Of what value is a certificate of that kind ? If I went to a justice of the peace, I do not know whether he would give me a good certificate or not, but he would probably say - “ I shall give the man. a certificate.” A certificate of this kind, even from two householders or electors, would be of no value. A man who has just escaped the gallows would be able to get two householders to certify that he was “ to the best of their knowledge and belief “ a person of good repute.
– I am opposed to the amendment. I believe that a certificate of two electors would be practically of no effect. Every person in Australia, unless he be a gaol-bird, has a right to vote. It must be admitted that certain of our citizens cannot be called reputable ; and it would be perfectly feasible for some foreigner of bad character himself to get two other persons of equally bad character to certify that he was a man of good repute.
The clause ought to be omitted or left as it is at present, or, on the other hand, it might be liberalized by providing that a postmaster or State school teacher shall have power to certify. The certificates of two citizens would be absolutely useless for the purposes of the Bill. We ought to be careful when admitting people to citizenship that they are of good character ; and now that Senator Pearce has withdrawn his amendment, I shall move, when the opportunity arises, that a postmaster or headmaster of a State school be empowered to sign certificates. Such an amendment would give every facility necessary to an alien who desires to become a citizen of the Commonwealth. We know that there are justices of the peace everywhere ; indeed, I am told that in South Australia it is more difficult to find a man who is not a justice of the peace than one who has attained that honour. In granting citizenship to aliens, and thus conferring upon them large powers and certain responsibilities, we ought to take care that sufficient evidence is forthcoming that they are persons of good repute.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I must express my surprise at Senator Smith suggesting the amendment he has indicated, seeing that I have just withdrawn my amendment. My withdrawal was not an abandonment of my amendment, but merely a step token in order that the real opinion of the Committee might be ascertained. I take it that we ought to deal first with the amendment which has the widest scope ; and if Senator McGregor’s amendment be carried, it will not be necessary to provide that the certificate’ shall be signed by a justice of the peace. If, on the other hand, Senator McGregor’s amendment is not carried, I shall certainly re-introduce the. amendment which I have withdrawn. Under the circumstances I ask Senator Smith to allow the Committee to first express an opinion on the amendment of Senator McGregor.
– That is the amendment now before the Committee.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - It must be very amusing to senators who have shivered at times at the radicalism expressed by Senator Stewart, and, in some instances, by Senator Smith, to hear such fine old crusted tory sentiments coming from those gentlemen. It seems to be the opinion of Senator Stewart and Senator
Smith that, because we have certain disreputable persons amongst us, the majority of the people in the Commonwealth would be guilty of signing declarations which they knew to be untrue. Senator Stewart has himself shown the difficulty which a foreigner might experience in obtaining a certificate of the kind; indeed, the honorable senator ventured to say that he would have much difficulty in getting two citizens to testify to his own character if they knew him. At the same time the honorable senator asks us to dismiss the proposal for a certificate of two citizens as absolutely useless. It is unusual to hear Senator Smith giving expression to ideas of the kind which he has laid before the Committee. It must be remembered that all the applications must come before the authorities.
– But the authorities trust to the certificate.
– The authorities can make inquiries. Because two or three persons in the electorate . of Senator Smith might be guilty of signing a false certificate, that gentleman wishes to place obstacles in the way of the great majority of aliens obtaining naturalization papers. A great difficulty in Queensland has been to obtain the services of justices of the peace in the matter of electoral claims.
– It is suggested that a postmaster and schoolmaster may sign a certificate.
– But the schoolmaster or postmaster may be very busy at the particular time, or may know nothing whatever about the applicant.
– Then they will not sign the certificate.
– Then what is the applicant to do 1
– Go to somebody who does know him.
– Although justices of the peace are numerous enough in New South Wales owing to the political system in operation in that State, they are not so numerous elsewhere in Australia. It is very probable that aliens, although they may have resided some time in the locality, may not be known to a justice of the peace. There are only some 700 justices of the peace, I think, throughout the State of Queensland, and it is quite possible that a man may have resided for years in a locality and yet be unknown to a school-teacher, a postmaster, or a justice of the peace, though known to a hundred or more of his neighbours. I refuse to believe ‘Senator Smith that the general public throughout the Commonwealth are so immoral and disreputable that it would not be safe to pass a provision of this kind. Senator Smith is a very superior person all at once, but, while I respect him for the high standard of morality which he exhibits on all occasions, I object to his conservatism.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia), - It is all very well to talk of “ crusted toryism,” but the amendment before us suggests to me liberty run riot. There are a few bad people in the world ; and we know that no difficulty is experienced in getting certificates of good character, even though the person concerned may be an exceedingly “bad lot.” The certificate is obtained for the express purpose of satisfying the Government, and saving them any further trouble in the matter. The certificate is required for .the purpose of showing that in the opinion of some responsible persons an applicant is a fit and proper person for naturalization. The signatures should be those of people who from the positions they occupy can be practically - though I do not say invariably - trusted to sign a certificate of the kind ; and the document proposed by Senator McGregor, would, in nineteen cases out of twenty, not be worth the paper on which it was written. The Government have no means of making special inquiries but have, as I say, to trust to the certificate ; and yet Senator McGregor proposes that this document shall be signed, not even by two householders, but merely by two electors. It would be better to have no certificate at all than a certificate of that character. There are very few people, ‘except in the extreme back blocks, who are not acquainted with a schoolmaster, a postmaster, or justice of the peace, and even in the back blocks people are usually acquainted with the neighbouring squatter, who is almost invariably a magistrate. The clause ought to be omitted, or care taken to secure a certificate from responsible persons.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I hope that the remarks of some honorable senators who have spoken against the amendment will not be taken seriously. Senator Playford knows very well that in the making of a will the signatures of any two electors would be quite sufficient, and there are a hundred and one other circumstances in life in which no further authority is necessary.
– But signatories to a will do not testify to good character.
– Positions of the highest importance are given to people on certificates of character from a couple of electors or other individuals ; even a marriage certificate is rendered valid by two signatures. I suggest to Senator Smith that if he were to study the early history of the world he would find it laid down somewhere in the Book of Genesis that a man is not justified in condemning a whole community because there happen to be one or two individuals of bad repute in it. The fact that two villianous individuals may be found to sign a certificate of character for another villianous individual should afford no reason for placing an obstruction in the way of thousands of aliens obtaining their naturalization certificates as easily as possible.
– Is there any reason to believe that a justice of the peace is a villain 1
– I regard everybody as good. I shall not be guilty of characterizing any citizens of the Commonwealth as rogues and vagabonds’. They are all good enough for me if they give me their votes, and I think it is the same with Senator Smith, though there are circumstances under which he might object to their influence. I hope that the amendment will be carried, because the very persons to whom Senator Playford has referred may find themselves in the greatest difficulty. I am not going to say that the people in the backblocks are less reputable than the people who live in Little Bourke-street, Melbourne, or in Perth or Fremantle. I hope we shall recognise the worthiness of citizens who Jive in the back-blocks. It is there that some of these very foreigners may be located, and may find it necessary to get electors to certify to their good character. I do not believe in indiscriminate naturalization ; but if honorable senators are not satisfied with a certificate from a justice of the peace or two electors, they can insert a clause imposing a penalty upon any one who makes a false statement under the Act, and thereby prevent the bad characters, whom Senator Smith is so anxious about, from taking the trouble to certify to the respectability of any alien. The whole object is to make it as easy as possible for a respectable alien to become a citizen of the Commonwealth ; and the way to achieve’ that object is to afford him the opportunity of getting two friends who are not holding official positions to certify to his character. Of course, if he can get a justice of the peace to certify, well and good ; but, to my mind, any two citizens of the Commonwealth are just as good as anyone justice of the peace, and I hope that the amendment will be carried.
– I think that Senator McGregor loses sight of the point when he speaks of the character of the individual elector. I heard one honorable senator interject that if two signatures were not sufficient we might have five. But it is not a question of numbers, or a question of the character of the individual elector ; it is the identifiability of the person who gives the certificate. We require a certificate to be signed by a person upon whom we can put our finger, if I may use that expression, in order, if necessary, to ascertain whether it is his signature. In thousands of cases we could not find men who simply signed their names as electors, and that is the reason why we propose that the certificate shall be signed by a person occupying an official position.
– Does not a justice of the peace certify to the best of his belief and knowledge?
– Yes ; but he can be referred to if necessary* I can quite understand that those who do not favour the clause will support any amendment which will whittle it down to nothing. The amendment practically whittles the clause down to very nearly nothing, and of course it will be supported by all those who prefer to see the clause omitted. The question is, is it desirable to have a certificate as to a man’s character? If it is we should require the certificate of a person who can be identified, and the advantage of putting in the words “ postmaster or master of a State school,” as proposed by Senator Pearce, is that it will only be necessary for the applicant to get the signature of one person. If the amendment for a certificate by two electors is carried the clause might as well be struck out, because it will mean two names .and nothing else. If the desire of the Committee is to retain the certificate we should proceed first with the amendment of Senator Pearce, Since it has been decided that the words “a
Justice of the Peace” shall stand, let us decide whether the certificate of the postmaster or the certificate of the head master of a State school is sufficient. Senator McGregor can then test the feeling of the Committee by moving his amendment to make the signatures of two electors sufficient. If that amendment is carried it will mean that Senator Pearce will not proceed with his amendment, and the provision will be reduced to a farce.
– I feel that a certificate of character ought to be demanded from the applicant. I and others who support the amendment of Senator McGregor have no objection to a certificate of character, but we object to the system for attesting the certificate. Senator McGregor desires to provide that not only a justice of the peace, but any two reputable citizens, may certify to the bona fides of an applicant.
– Or disreputable citizens.
– I hold that every one who is out of gaol should be held to be a reputable citizen until it is proved that he ought to be behind the bars. Senators Playford and Drake talk about the ease with which an application could be attested by a justice of the peace. It may answer very well in a town or city, but it will not answer in the back-blocks.
– We propose to say that it may be attested by a postmaster or schoolmaster.
– The PostmasterGeneral knows very well that in Queensland there are hundreds of miles of territory where there is neither a postmaster nor a schoolmaster available. There is probably a justice of the peace per hundred square miles, and he is the squatter or the jackaroo who is managing the station, and who, being prejudiced, will never certify to the respectability or good character of a member of the labour party, or of the honorable and learned gentleman if he had to be naturalized. I am quite satisfied that in that State there are some districts where, if the Prime Minister and the Vice-President of the Executive Council sought to obtain a certificate of character from some of the justices of the peace, it could not be procured. Certainly, the Federal Parliament as a whole would have no chance of getting a certificate of character. Having regard to the sparsely populated districts in the Commonwealth, I think that the proposal of Senator McGregor ought to be accepted, because the signature of a postmaster, or a telegraph master, or a railway station-master cannot be obtained, andtheonly justiceof the peace in the locality is a prejudiced squatter who is not always willing to attest. If one justice of the peace in a town will not attest, the applicant has hundreds to apply to, and if he cannot get any justice of the peace in the town to attest, he can apply to any number of postmasters and school teachers ; but the man in the bush has no such opportunity. In view of Senator Drake’s early experience, he ought to have immediately accepted the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
That after the word “Peace,” line 5, the words “ or three electors of the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
I can assure honorable senators that, if necessary, I shall move amendments up to 100 electors in order to carry the principle.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - Honorable senators must agree that although it is possible that one unscrupulous and disreputable criminal elector might sign a certificate testifying to the good repute of an applicant for naturalization, it is very unlikely that three disreputable persons would be induced to sign together. If an applicant has to choose between a justice of the peace, a schoolmaster, or a postmaster, and going round the district with an application form to get the signatures of three electors, then certainly, if he knows a justice of the peace, he will get him to sign the paper. It is not likely that a person will take the trouble to secure the signatures of three electors if he can more easily obtain the certificate of a justice of the peace. If we provide for the signatures of three electors, instead of two, everything that is necessary will be done.
Senator DAWSON (Queensland).- This matter is not a frivolous one. It seems to me to be of very great importance. Those of us who have personal knowledge of large territories, containing very few inhabitants, know how scarce justices of the peace are. It is nonsense to think of getting over the difficulty by providing that postmasters or schoolmasters, where there are no postmasters and schoolmasters, shall sign the certificate. That is very often the case in Queensland. Some of our squattages are bigger than the whole State of Victoria, and a traveller there might not strike the residence of a justice of the peace in a two months’ trip. Even then the chances are that the justice of the peace would not be at home. We have passed a law under which we carefully scrutinize anybody who wishes to find a footing on our shores. We scrutinize, not only foreigners, but British subjects. After they have passed that severe test and landed in Australia, surely we should offer to them the most easy and expeditious means of securing all the rights and privileges we can give to them.. Instead of putting obstacles in the way, we should do all we can to extend to them the hand of friendship, and make them feel that they are really one with us. We should not compel them to travel round hundreds of miles of country in order to secure signatures entitling them to naturalization. Our desire is to settle this country, and when immigrants come from other lands we hope that they will have sufficient enterprise to go out into the wilderness of Australia to open it up and develop its resources. This proposal tends to induce immigrants to remain in the cities, instead of going into the interior of the country where they are wanted. It is not fair treatment. The immigrant has shown, by passing the tests put to him on his arrival, that he is a fit person to be a naturalized citizen. The proposal of the Bill is perfectly monstrous, and, if carried, would in no way be creditable to the Senate.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - The last division surprised me very much. I really begin to feel that I ought to apologize to some of my friends of the labour party for having done them the injustice of supposing that they were desirous of restricting immigration to Australia. I now find that some of my friends whom I had taken to hold opposite views - because, I suppose, they found that the members of the labour party were voting in a certain direction - have taken the other side from what I may call their contrariness. I can see no other earthly reason for the result of the division. This is a question of some moment, and I welcome the suggestion which was thrown out by way of interjection by Senator Playford that we should strike out the paragraph providing for a certificate altogether.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The tenacity with which the PostmasterGeneral is hanging on to this provision is worthy of a more important cause. What is the value of these certificates? They are, I take it, to be considered a portion of the evidence upon which the Government are to determine whether or not an applicant should be naturalized. And as evidence of that kind I should very much prefer the assurance of three reputable citizens to that of one disreputable justice of the peace. The value of the certificate will depend, not so much upon the number of persons signing it as upon their character whether they are magistrates or not, and I regret to say that the fact that the man is a magistrate is not in itself a sufficient assurance of good character. It must be common knowledge that a number of gentlemen who are appointed to the commission of the peace are not persons whose words we would take before that of an ordinary citizen as to a matter of this kind. I have a serious objection to imposing this duty on postmasters or head-masters of State schools.- I know that in many country towns to-day aliens are the principal business people, and it would be extremely awkward for the postmaster to have to tell a prominent resident seeking naturalization that he must decline to give him such a certificate. The Postmaster-General probably knows better than I can tell him that it is possible for the business people of a town to make things extremely unpleasant for a postmaster. A postmaster, therefore, should not be placed in a position in which he may have to say whether an applicant under this section is entitled to a certificate of good character.
Senator MCGREGOR (South Australia). - I do not place an)’ value upon paragraph (6) of the clause, but in order to satisfy those who do attach importance to it, and to avoid placing difficulties in the way of those who wish naturalization, I was willing that we should accept the certificate of two electors rather than that of any one individual in an official position. As Senator Dawson has pointed out, there are places where it is impossible to get a magistrate, a teacher, or postmaster, even within the broad interpretation of the latter term suggested by the Postmaster-General. If honorable senators have ever had to chase about for a justice of the peace in the back country, where there are no schoolmasters or postmasters at all, they will have some idea of the difficulty. I should have moved previously to strike ‘ out paragraph (6), but that a number of honorable senators appear to be anxious to have some form of certificate of character provided for. I think that a certificate signed by two electors would be the best we could have. It must be remembered that an elector is subject to the scrutiny of a revision court. If he is not good enough to be an elector, he may be struck off the roll. If he is out of gaol, and has passed the scrutiny of the revision court, his certificate, or a certificate signed by three such electors, might be considered of some value. I hope the amendment will be carried, and, if it is not, that the paragraph will be omitted. If the amendment is carried there will be a greater probability of the paragraph being retained.
– I voted just now with a view to the insertion of the words suggested by Senator Pearce, “a postmaster or the headmaster of a State school.” I think that if the certificate is to be of any value at all it should be safeguarded in the way proposed. If any one may sign these certificates they will be of so little value that we may as well strike out the whole paragraph. I would rather see the paragraph struck out than that the Committee should carry Senator McGregor’s amendment. If we hold that citizenship of the Commonwealth is worth anything, an applicant for naturalization should establish the fact that he is a man of good repute.
– The opposition shown to this amendment is, in my opinion, paltry in the extreme. A number of foreigners, who are men of enterprise and courage, have settled in Queensland, and many of them are engaged on stations. Some of these stations are very large, such as the Well shot station, which contains some 800,000 acres. There are even still larger stations, where there are no1 schools of importance, no postmasters, and where one might travel on horseback a whole summer’s day and not come across a justice of the peace. Is it wise, I ask the Postmaster-General, to place such obstacles in the way of the complete naturalization of desirable settlers ? The Postmaster-General has informed us that it is not a question of numbers, but a question of . having persons in responsible positions to sign the certificates.
– Persons who are identifiable.
– As I have said, in many parts of Queensland one can go for hundreds of miles and never meet a postmaster, a schoolmaster, or a- justice of the peace.
– And very likely not find either pen or ink.
-^Throughout the country there are numbers of people living in tents and huts, all of whom have pen, ink, and paper, and the bulk of whom are respectable and reputable persons. I can assure honorable senators that these people have as much regard for honour and integrity as has any schoolmaster, postmaster, or justice of the peace. When the electoral laws were under discussion in the
Queeusland Parliament the PostmasterGeneral was amongst those who contended very strongly against the employment of justices of the peace in that connexion, knowing as he did that it is possible to travel hundreds of miles without finding one. The Postmaster-General was then of opinion that two electors were sufficient to attest electoral claims.
– That did not involve a certificate of character.
– But it involved a certificate of citizenship. I am sure the Postmaster-General will agree that the German, Danish, and other foreign settlers are as a body as law-abiding and honorable as any other portion of the community.
– We want to maintain the standard of citizenship high ; we do not want to make it too cheap.
– Under the circumstances is it worth while the PostmasterGeneral persisting in his present attitude ? Would it not be better to either strike out the certificate provision, or, on the other hand, accept the amendment submitted by Senator McGregor? ‘Had the PostmasterGeneral contended that this was a matter of numbers, I should have suggested five signatures, but such a proposal would be useless as a compromise in the face of the honorable gentleman’s declaration. Knowing the State of Queensland as I do, I shall certainly support any proposal which will have the effect of removing the obstacles which otherwise will be thrown in the way of reputable foreigners acquiring naturalization. If there be a proposal made to do away altogether with, certificates I shall support it.
– The position taken up by Senator Dawson is, in my opinion, unassailable. The question is : Whom are we to naturalize? Are we to naturalize the foreigners already in the Commonwealth, or those whom we expect to come here? If we are to naturalize those already in the Commonwealth, the Government of the day, no matter what signatures may be attached, will satisfy themselves that an applicant is likely to become a worthy citizen. It has been pointed out by Senator Symon that the Government will be the judges as to the fitness of a man or woman to become a naturalized subject. It must not be forgotten, as Senator Dawson said, that a foreigner, on coming into the Commonwealth, has to run the gauntlet of the Immigration Restriction Act ; and, if he passes the tests then applied, surely he might at once be admitted as a British subject if he so desired. The Postmaster-General has told us that even if 100 signatures were obtained his objection to the amendment would remain the same, and yet the honorable gentleman and his Government are satisfied to allow six electors to nominate a candidate for this or the other Chamber. Surely a similar number ought to be quite sufficient to certify to the good repute of an applicant for naturalization. I shall certainly vote for the omission of this provision if an amendment be submitted to that effect. The Government will see that no undesirable foreigner is naturalized, and I apprehend that the Customs officers will take care that no undesirable alien is admitted to the Commonwealth.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I rise to point out the unwisdom of Senator Charleston disparaging the electors of the Commonwealth on the eve of a general election. That honorable senator said he objects to the amendment because if it be carried it will in effect allow any persons to witness an application the inference being that the electors are people of “ no class.” Yet, when the general election comes round, we shall hear Senator Charleston addressing his audiences as “ladies and gentlemen,” and as “free and independent electors,” while on the day of the polling he will shake hands with all and sundry, only too glad to welcome any elector as a long lost brother. I cannot understand the poor opinion expressed by honorable senators of the average character and intelligence of the electors. The main point is that we want to facilitate the entrance to citizenship of desirable aliens resident within our borders. It must be remembered that any alien who desires naturalization is very unlikely to be a drunkard, a loafer, or a criminal. What do criminals and loafers care about the rights of citizenship ? Only those aliens who are anxious to rank with ourselves as citizens of Australia, and who are, therefore, likely to be desirable, will apply for certificates. Senator Drake indicates by his remarks that he places very little reliance on the Federal authorities administering this Bill as it should be administered ; and Senator Playford said that the Government will not bother to make inquiries. But if the authorities do not make inquiries as to the bona fides of applicants, what is the use of clause 11, which reads -
Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that a certificate of naturalization has been obtained by any untrue statement of fact or intention, the Governor-General may revoke the certificate, which shall thereupon be and be taken to have been of no effect with respect either to the person who obtained the certificate or to any person naturalized by virtue thereof, and shall on demand be delivered up to the Minister.
If it ever should happen that three electors within the Commonwealth can be got to make an untrue statement with regard to the character of a person who desires to be naturalized, then the naturalization, if granted, may, under this and subsequent clauses, easily be revoked. It would be more difficult for an alien to obtain the signatures of three electors than to get the signature of a justice of the peace with whom he might be acquainted, and as it would be only in cases of difficulty that a man would be called upon to seek the assistance of three electors, the amendment is highly necessary, In. selecting State school teachers, postmasters, and justices of the peace, the Postmaster-General has not fixed on the persons most likely to facilitate naturalization. Why not provide that the signature of a policeman shall be obtained? Our police system is so good that the signature of a policeman can be got very easily. If the Committee will not accept the amendment of Senator McGregor, the clause hud better be amended to provide for a certificate by a policeman. It is not fair on the part of Senator Drake to suggest that we are talking now, not with a view to liberalize the clause, but to strike it out. He should not take the expressions of some honorable senators as indicating the opinion of the majority, because I shall vote to retain the clause in some form if it cannot be liberalized in this way.
– I do not think that the paragraph is required. If honorable senators will refer to paragraph (b) of clause 4, they will see that an alien who had obtained letters of naturalization in the United Kingdom would be entitled to the right to vote here.
– It gives him the right to apply for a certificate of naturalization.
– I think that paragraph (b) of the clause before the Committee puts a stigma on that man and the bona fides of those who granted him letters of naturalization. Is such a provision to be found on the statute-book of any other country ? It is provided in clause 11 that if a man obtains letters of naturalization by fraud or misrepresentation the Governor-General can revoke them.
– We are only dealing now with persons who have not obtained letters of naturalization.
– To that extent it modifies my opinion.
– It takes the point out of the honorable senator’s remark, because we are dealing with a person about whom we know nothing, directly or indirectly.
– I am not desirous of allowing undesirable persons to become electors. But I do not think that obstacles ought to be thrown in the way of persons who wish to obtain letters of naturalization. It is possible that a Government might come into power some day with such strength at its back that it would prevent persons from getting letters of naturalization simply for the purpose of extinguishing the right to vote. I do not think that the paragraph is required, and if Senator Playford moves its omission I shall support him.
Senator CHARLESTON. (South Australia). - Senator Higgs is always very humorous in his remarks, although he looks very serious when he is speaking ; and, of course, he was only humorous when he suggested that I thought that the electors of this great Commonwealth are not reputable people. There may be some persons in the Commonwealth whose reputations may be such as to make the Government hesitate before admitting them to citizenship. If we are to require a certificate that the applicant is of good repute, it ought to be signed by persons who are well known to the officials. A schoolmaster or a postmaster iswell known. If the certificate is not to be of any value, and I do not think it would be if some of the amendments that have been moved were carried, I agree that the provision should be omitted.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - I am not quite sure whether it would be wise to omit the provision, because I believe that a certificate has usually been required in all the States, and it has generally been supplied by a justice of the peace, or some other person who was well known. Even if we provide for a certificate to be signed by three electors, as proposed by Senator McGregor, we shall still have the provision for a certificate by a justice of the peace. Where a certificate has been given by a justice of the peace, I do not suppose that the Government, if they have confidence in him, will ever make any effort to get other evidence as to the character of the applicant. But where a certificate has been given by three persons who are unknown to the Government, they will very likely make inquiries through the police as to the bona fides of the applicant before his application is sent on to the Governor-General for approval. In the great majority of cases the signature of a justice of the peace can be very easily obtained, and it will only be in the cases mentioned by Senator McGregor that the certificate will be signed by three electors. If, however, a certificate is to be of no value when it is furnished, and the Government are to make special inquiries, the provision might as well be omitted. I do not intend to adopt the suggestion of Senator Symon to move the omission of the paragraph.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
That after the word “electors,” the words “whose addresses shall be stated on the certificate” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 6 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Loss of British nationality by marriage).
– I hope that this clause will be struck out. I have received a letter protesting against it from the president of the Women’s Political Education League of New South Wales, and I believe that the Senate has received a petition to the same effect from the Women’s Political League of Victoria.
– I do not feel very keen about this clause, but it follows the ordinary British law, that the status of a woman shall be that of her husband. If a woman likes to marry an alien, she becomes an alien. By striking out the clause a woman who is an elector may be married to a man who is an alien. I do not know whether that would be satisfactory. I am aware that the feeling in the minds of some honorable senators is that we should not take away the voting rights of women because they marry aliens. But I am inclined to think that the old law is sound; and that there are good reasons for it. If women who are British subjects have voting rights, and marry men who have no voting rights at all, it will be a peculiar position.
– It is unconstitutional to deprive the women of their voting rights.
– I will not press the clause.
An infant, not being a natural-born British subject-
The infant shall, on reaching the age of twenty-one years, cease to be naturalized by virtue of this section.
Amendments (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the words “during infancy,” line6, be Omitted.
That sub-clause 2 be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 1 1 -
Where it is proved to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that a certificate of naturalizationhas been obtained by any untrue statement of fact or intention, the Governor-General may revoke the certificate …. which shall on demand be delivered up to the Minister.
– We should in this clause make provision against attempts to deceive the Government of the Commonwealth or their officers. It would be just as well to insert some penalty to be imposed on any one making a false statement’. A great deal has been said about the danger of three electors doing anything wrong. This is the place to impose penalties for anything of that kind. I therefore move -
That the following words be added: “ and any person making a false statement or declaration shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and punishable by a fine not exceeding £5, or fourteen days’ imprisonment.”
– If a man states anything false in a statutory declaration, he is liable to all the penalties attaching to perjury, so that the honorable senator’s amendment is not necessary in that respect. If he refers more particularly to the certificates, it must be remembered that they are given to the best of a man’s knowledge and ability. It would be very hard to convict him of having made a false statement. In such cases we have to trust to the bona fides of those who sign certificates. We can punish the individual to whom letters of naturalization are granted if he makes a false statement ; because it will have to be made in the form of a statutory declaration.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to
The Minister shall -
A person to whom a certificate of naturalization is granted shall not be liable to any other fee or charge in respect thereof.
– I should like to see paragraph (b) of clause 12 struck out; but if it is to remain it is absolutely essential to make an amendment, which Senator Pearce intends to propose. I understand that Senator Walker also wishes to move that the enrolment fee shall be 10s. instead of £1. Honorable senators who come from South Australia know that in that State we charge no fees for naturalization. We have not been rushed with bad characters from other parts of the world ; in fact, South Australia has been well able to keep up her reputation for respectability. Some of her citizens, I see from the newspapers, are evenprepared to defend their rights with rifles. I intend to propose that the fee be made1s. instead of £1; and if that amendment be rejected I shall propose 2s. I desire that those who are prepared to become naturalized citizens of the Commonwealth shall be’ allowed to do so absolutely free, and, if I cannot secure that, I am determined that the lowest amount possible shall be charged. Why should we place obstacles of any kind in the way of the naturalization of these people in a country like this, where we are so anxious to induce respectable white people to settle ? I shall ask the Committee to strike out paragraph (6), and, if that is agreed to, it will be unnecessary to move further amendments in the direction I have indicated. I move -
That paragraph (b) be omitted.
- Senator Walker has given notice of amendment to reduce the fee from £1 to10s. Senator McGregor “sees him, and goes one better” - I think that is the expression - in proposing to strike out the paragraph altogether. I think that in most countries, if the argument is one which has any weight with honorable senators, some small fee is required for naturalization. I am afraid there is rather a tendency to make the privilege of naturalization in the Commonwealth somewhat too cheap. We have heard repeatedly the argument that we are desirious of inducing people to settle amongst us, and while that is true, on the other hand, we should regard the citizenship of a country like Australia as of sufficient importance to justify us in insisting upon compliance with some formalities before it is granted. There will be expenses involved in the administration of the law, and I think we should charge something for naturalization. Various fees are charged in different
States. In Queensland the fee is about 4s. 6d., whilst it is more in other States, and £1 in New South Wales. We should not of course look upon this as a source of revenue, but some small fee should be required to show that we regard naturalization as a matter of some importance, and as something which is not to be had merely for the asking, or without any difficulty. I think it should be impressed upon the minds of those who are asking to become citizens of this country that they are seeding a right which is worth having.
– A fee is required to pay for the clerical work necessary.
– There has not been a great number of aliens naturalized in any of the States in the course of a year, and I do not suppose there will be an)’ very great number applying for naturalization in the Commonwealth in the course of a year, so that the fees charged are not likely to cover the cost of administration.
– Then why charge anything ?
– I do not pin my faith to a fee of £1, but I think that there should be some small charge made. «
– While I think we should provide .sufficient safeguards in dealing with the naturalization of aliens, I am opposed to this paragraph of clause 12. As we have made it necessary that an alien seeking naturalization shall possess certain qualifications we have taken all the safeguards necessary, and I am in agreement with Senator McGregor when he proposes that this paragraph should be struck out. When a person desires to secure a vote we do not tell him that he can get a vote by paying JE1, and we should not charge a fee for naturalization to persons who can comply with what we have considered necessary qualifications to entitle them to citizenship. A poor man, who might be a very much more valuable citizen than a wealthy man, may be excluded from citizenship if he is unable to pay a fee of £1 to secure the right. I hope honorable senators will agree that the paragraph is unnecessary, and that it is opposed to our democratic ideals that any person should have to pay a fee in order to secure the rights of citizenship.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I hope that honorable senators will consider the question seriously before we take a vote upon it. I know that there are some honorable senators who are very anxious that we should charge something. It would, no doubt, be a great source of revenue if the fee proposed in the Bill were adopted, because it must be remembered that the clause would apply to almost everyone in the Commonwealth who has already been naturalized in one of the States. Seeing that South Australia has so far been able to afford free naturalization, I think the Commonwealth can afford to admit aliens to citizenship free. We must recognise that many States have not only admitted foreigners to the rights of citizenship without any charge, but they have actually paid high premiums to induce them to settle. In the old immigration days States Governments were prepared to pay £20 a head to secure the introduction of immigrants. Now, when we have them here, it appears that we are not prepared to allow them to become citizens unless they pay something. If they are allowed to become naturalized absolutely free of charge, there will be less likelihood of unscrupulous agents attempting to fleece these unfortunate aliens. I can remember when a fee of 10s. was charged in South Australia, and a number of German and Scandinavian aliens, wishing to become naturalized, went to a countryman of their own, who very obligingly assisted them, but he always made 10s. a head out of them himself. Honorable senators will understand that if aliens are made aware that naturalization is free it will be impossible to impose upon them in that way. I can recollect, when naturalization was made free in South Australia, that two friends of my own, shortly after the assent to the Bill was gazetted, filled in the papers and assisted in the naturalization of 40 German colonists in one evening. I desire that every alien who can be certified by a justice of the peace, or by three electors, to be a respectable citizen, should be able to secure the privileges of citizenship of the Commonwealth “ without money and without price.” I hope honorable senators will support the amendment I propose, and there will then be no necessity for any further amendment in the paragraph.
– In order to afford an opportunity to other honorable senators to move amendments in the paragraph, I propose to put the question that all the words down to “ granted “ be omitted.
Question - That the words “ Demand and receive from every person to whom a certificate of naturalization is granted,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question resolved in the negative.
Question - That the words “ (except a person who has during infancy become naturalized under section 10 of this Act), an enrolment fee of One pound,” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the clause - resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Higgs) proposed -
That the following new paragraph be added to sub-clause 1 : -
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the word “ other,” line 9, be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 3a. A person who has obtained in a State, or in a colony which has become a State, a certificate of naturalization, or letters of naturalization, shall be deemed to be naturalized. “
I propose this new clause in order to carry out the views expressed by Senator Symon when he. moved his amendment in the interpretation clause. Senator Symon will remember that I took the objection that the amendment was not in the proper place, and I think the honorable senator will agree with me in that view.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Ordered (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That clauses 3 and 10 be reconsidered.
– I move -
That clause 4 be reconsidered.
We have heard a great deal to-day of the anxiety of honorable senators to increase the number of naturalized subjects of His Majesty. The other day we were told that there was 81,000 coloured aliens not naturalized in Australia ; and the Bill, as introduced, apparently intended to give the GovernorGeneral in Council power to grant letters of naturalization, if that step were deemed advisable. That power, however, has been removed from the Bill. I have sufficient confidence in whoever may form the Executive of the Commonwealth to believe that they would exercise such a discretion wisely ; and there may be exceptional cases in which it would be deemed in the interests of the community to grant letters of naturalization to persons to whom otherwise objections might be raised. When clause 4 was before us the other day there was a very small House, and the amendment then submitted by Senator Higgs was carried by only one vote. Some honorable members who were not then present are now in the Chamber, and it is desirable to have as large a House as possible in order to decide whether this clause shall, or shall not, be amended.
– The reason offered by Senator Walker forrecommitting this clause is, in my opinion, extremely inadequate. There is a rumour in the Chamber that areconsideration of the clause is desired because the amendment which was carried the other day is regarded as unconstitutional.
– However, I shall not discuss that point now. The amendment the other day was carried by eleven votes against ten ; and I should like to ask Senator Walker whether he expects that, if a division be taken this evening, a larger number of senators will vote. Two of the honorable senators who voted for my amendment have, this afternoon, left for Sydney. Is that the reason why Senator Walker proposes that the clause shall be reconsidered?
– I was not aware that those honorable senators had gone away.
– It is not in keeping with Senator Walker’s disposition to take a mean advantage of the Senate in that way.
– Have the absent senators not paired ?
– If they have paired, it is in the belief that the amendment carried the other day is unconstitutional. They have been persuaded that the amendment is unconstitutional, and those who exercised the persuasion ought to acknowledge the fact in the Chamber. It was that to which I referred when I spoke of a rumour ; and I understand that those senators have an idea that the amendment is unconstitutional because it discriminates between residents of States. But section 117 of the Constitution, on which that view is based, deals with subjects of the Crown, and it will be observed that the amendment does not deal with subjects of the Crown, but with aliens who want to become subjects. It is not fair for Senator Walker to reintroduce the question. I may say that one of the two senators of whom I spoke as having left for Sydney has actually paired with an honorable senator who voted in favour of my amendment. Surely such an extraordinary position has never before occurred.
– We here know nothing about pairs, to which I hope no further reference will be made.
– Without dealing in any way with the virtues or failings of Senator Walker’s contemplated amendment, I wish to put the position as clearly as I can before the Committee. Senator Walker indicates that he seeks the recommittal of the Bill for the purpose of reintroducing a question which has already been before the Senate, and on which a vote has been recorded. Senator Walker’s excuse is that certain senators, who happened to be away on a previous occasion, desire now to record their votes.
But a question ought not to be re-opened simply to suit the convenience of honorable senators who did not think it worth while to come here and attend to the business of the country.
– No ; it is in order to give the public the true verdict of the Senate.
– Senator Walker seeks to introduce a vicious principle which, whatever may be the merits of the amendment he contemplates,- ought not to be tolerated by those honorable senators who do attend to their business. I can understand a Bill being recommitted in order to consider some new principle or new provision ; but the majority of the Senate ought not to be inconvenienced in order to suit honorable senators who may not have been present on a previous occasion.
– It is done in Parliament frequently.
– That does not make the practice right ; and if a vote be taken this evening it will be a catch vote. Senator Walker had given notice of his amendment for several days.
– It was not my amendment, but an amendment of Senator Higgs that was carried.
– But Senator Walker had given notice of his intention to move an amendment ; and in his speech on the second reading he indicated that, in his opinion, we ought to accept British subjects from India. That is practically the gist of the amendment which Senator Walker con-# templates. Every one knew that the honorable senator was going to move the amendment, and had an opportunity to be present and take part in the discussion. I ask honorable senators to refuse to reconsider the clause, in order to show that they will not allow the whole Senate to be inconvenienced for the sake of two or three senators who do not think it worth while to attend.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I think it is due to myself to say that I never proposed an amendment of this kind before. It was the amendment of Senator Higgs which was carried, but it was carried in what I call a snatch division, and it is not unusual for a Committee to reconsider a clause. I intend to press the matter to a division. I have heard a great deal to-day about our desire to increase the number of naturalized subjects of the King.
– But not coloured naturalized subjects.
– I do not know. I presume that white people are coloured.
Question - That clause 4 be reconsidered - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia). - Clause 8 was overlooked in hurrying through with the Bill. It is really the one incongruity in the measure.
That clause 8 be reconsidered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 3 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “British subject” means a natural-born British subject, or a person naturalized in a State before or in the Commonwealth after the passing of this Act.
Amendments (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That before the word “person,” line 4, the word “naturalized” be inserted.
That all the words after the word “person,” line 4, be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 -
A woman who, not being a British subject, marries a British subject, shall in the Commonwealth -
During the continuance of the marriage ; and
After the dissolution of the marriage by the death of the husband or by divorce, until her re-marriage to a man who is not a British subject, be naturalized, and have the same rights and privileges, and be subject to the same obligations, as a person who has obtained a certificate of naturalization.
– I ask the Committee to negative this clause, which is the one incongruity in all our legislation with reference to the sexes. In the Franchise and other Acts, we have recognised the absolute political equality of man and woman. This clause differentiates between the sexes. It says that if an alien woman marries a British subject, she becomes naturalized by that act. That privilege is not conferred on a man who is not a. British subject. If he marries a naturalized woman or a British subject he is not naturalized by that act. Our whole object and intention in the Bill, I understand, is to place woman on exactly the same footing as man. It will be an extraordinary thing if we say that a woman shall have rights that are not possessed by a man. The matter is not one of verygreat importance, but I do not think that any woman would claim that she should have rights which are not given to a man. I should like the principle to be laid down that we recognise the absolute equality of the sexes in our laws, and are not going to make any differentiation.
– The clause certainly does confer an advantage upon a woman as compared with a man. I am rather surprised, however, to hear Senator Smith arguing against the clause. It was quite an unaccustomed role for him to adopt, and he seemed to be a little embarrassed I thought. I do not see. why we should not follow in this matter the ordinary rule of law that a woman is raised to the status of her husband. When we were dealing with the converse proposition in clause 9, I expressed my opinion that it was not desirable, if it could be avoided, that we should have women who are natural-born subjects of the King, and who have the right to vote, married to aliens. I do not think it is advisable that a male British subject should be married to an alien. On the other hand, I do not think that the wife of a British subject should continue to be treated as an alien. Of course, as the Bill stands, she may obtain letters of naturalization and become naturalized, but the omission of the clause will tend to increase the possibility of having in our midst men who are British subjects, but whose wives are not. In this case we might follow the well-known rule of law for the benefit of the female portion of the community. There is another argument which, perhaps, I might use, since it has been used quite recently, and that is that the reconsideration of this clause may be resented by some honorable senators who are away, and who certainly had no idea that it was to be reconsidered. At quite an early period of the sitting, when I agreed to the omission of certain words in order to put a woman in the position of being able to obtain letters of naturalization, Senator Millen claimed that it was going to work as a positive disadvantage to a woman, and strongly objected to the amendment on that ground. I had to point out to him that he was mistaken, because by another clause the rights of a woman were fully protected. It is proposed in his absence to strike out that very clause. If I had known that there was going to be an effort made to strike out the clause, and that- it was likely to be successful, I should not have assured the honorable senator, as I did then, that in altering the previous clause, we were not placing women at any disadvantage,’ because they would still have the benefit of the rule of British law by which a woman is raised to the status of her husband. Is it desirable that we should discontinue that practice which has been followed hitherto in British countries 1 It seems to me a reasonable, and proper thing. If an Australian man marries a French woman, why should she not become a British subject, as she would under the ordinary operation of British law, and will, I believe now, for certain purposes 1 Why should she not, for the purposes contemplated in this Bill, have those rights and privileges which naturalization confers ?
– Why should not an alien who marries a British woman become a subject of the King 1
– That is the converse proposition with which we have dealt.
Clause 9 conferred a benefit on the alien man, and it was omitted, but this clause confers a benefit on the alien lady.
– Why does the honorable and learned gentleman say that we should have this clause ?
– Because it is desirable that we should follow the usual rule of British law, that an alien woman, on marriage, secures the status of her husband, A British subject marries a French or German woman. Why should not the wife become a British subject t She will do so for certain purposes under British law, and why not for the purposes contemplated by this Bill 1 Several honorable senators have spoken about the advantages of naturalization, and have given reasons why we should not throw the slightest obstacle in the way of people becoming naturalized. When we come to the case of an alien marrying a British subject, an objection is made to allowing that British subject to raise his wife to his own position. But it is not unreasonable that a husband should be able, in marrying an alien woman, to raise her to his own status.
– The reason Senator Drake gives for this change is that he wishes to follow the well-known principle of British law, that on marriage a wife acquires the nationality of her husband. If that is British law at present, as undoubtedly it is, there is no need for this clause. Within certain limits, a wife by marriage acquires the nationality of her husband. What, then, is the purpose of this Bill ? It is to give a naturalized person the rights of citizenship in this country - the right to be placed upon the electoral roll, to vote for the election of Members of Parliament, and so forth. The right of a woman to hold property exists under the law of most enlightened States, without naturalization.
– :She cannot serve on juries.
– I suppose that some day, though perhaps not in our time, these halls of .legislation will be adorned by the presence of ladies ; and that we shall have juries of ladies determining questions of breach of promise of marriage. If so, they will no doubt be able to award damages much more satisfactorily than men do. Tennyson tells us that -
As the husband is the wife is ; and so on. That is reciprocal. This clause is not intended to give citizenship with all its rights, including theright tovote. Either the clause does not go far enough, or it goes too far. If it is intended by the act of marriage to confer citizenship, then undoubtedly it should refer to men as well as women. But that is not what the clause does. I think it is wholly unnecessary and unequal in its application. But the objectionable portion of the clause as it stands is that, after naturalization has been conferred upon a woman by marriage with a man, and she has acquired all the rights of citizenship, which she may have exercised for a long period, then, if she happens to marry another man who is not a British subject, she forfeits those rights. What logical reason is there for that ? This kind of temporary citizenship - here to-day, and gone to-morrow - should not be encouraged in this country. If there is to be naturalization by marriage it is an important point. The naturalization must, however, be complete. We should not impose a forfeiture of citizenship upon a woman because she marries a man who may be a most reputable citizen, but unnaturalized. We should not have any varying citizenship of that description. This is not a Bill to impose penalties on people for marrying foreigners. Suppose a woman marries a foreigner and goes to his country, after which she comes back to Australia where her property, her interests, and her friends are. Under this Bill she is deprived of all the rights of citizenship which she enjoyed before she went away. This is not in accordance with the principle which this measure is intended to carry out. I therefore move -
That paragraphs (a) and (b) be omitted.
– I quite follow Senator Symon in his argument. I think he agrees with me that whatever rights may be given under the present law, it does not confer the right of citizenship. Therefore, a clause of this kind is necessary. Senator Symon’s objection is, however, aimed at that portion of the clause about which, I admit, there is some doubt. The portion to which he objects provides that a woman shall lose her citizenship if she marries a person who is not a British subject. We have dealt with the matter in another part of the Bill so as to provide that we shall not denaturalize. I believe that the power to denaturalize is somewhat doubtful : and it would have the effect that a woman to whom the rights of citizenship were granted would become denaturalized on marrying an alien. We have already decided that, in a case of that kind, a woman may remain as a British subject even though her husband is an alien. Therefore I shall not offer any objection to Senator Symon’s amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 15th July, vide page 2124) :
Clause 6 (Saving of rights under State Acts).
– The Postmaster-General promised us that we should have the correspondence from the Colonial Office on the subject of patents. I think we should know the nature of the correspondence before we proceed further.
– I regret to say that these papers have been mislaid. A search has been made for them, but we have not been able to find them to-day. As soon as they are found I shall produce them.
– The innocence of the Postmaster-General is of a very superlative character. I have not the least doubt that the papers have been mislaid quite accidently, but at the same time I attach some importance to them, and as the honorable and learned senator cannot produce the papers, perhaps he will be able to tell us the purport of the communication from the Colonial Office.
– I am informed that this correspondence relates to clause 103, dealing with the mutual protection of patents. It can have no reference to this part of the Bill, and there is, therefore, no reason why we should not proceed with these earlier clauses. I hope that the papers will be discovered before we reach clause 103.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - If it is found that the authorities of the Colonial Office are prepared to enter into some arrangement for the mutual protection of inventions, and to give a patent covering the whole of the British Empire, this Bill from beginning to end will be affected thereby. If the Postmaster-General were in a position to say that there is nothing in the letter from the Colonial Office to warrant a belief that the Home authorities are prepared to assist in bringing that about, the ground would be cleared. I may be permitted to remind the Committee that it was upon the motion of the Commonwealth Government that the subject of a mutual protection of patents was discussed at the Colonial Conference in London last year. A resolution was passed at the Conference that the Secretary of State for the Colonies should communicate with the various Colonial Governments on the subject.
-I must point out to the honorable senator that that has nothing to do with clause 6. When we come to the particular clause with which the correspondence has reference, it may be legitimately debated.
– With due submission, I venture to suggest that this matter has something to do with not only clause 6 but with the whole of the Bill. It is a very regrettable and very extraordinary position that we are placed in. The PostmasterGeneral assured us that these papers would be produced to-day. We good naturedly agreed to go into Committee on this Bill yesterday, under the understanding that these papers would be produced.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss the matter on this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 -
After the administration of the State Patents Act of any State has been transferred to the Commonwealth no application for a patent undersuch State Patents Act shall be receivable except pursuant to some right previously acquired.
– I move -
That the following words be added: - “But nothing in this Act shall prevent any person who has obtained provisional protection in respect of an invention under a State Patents Act from applying for a patent for that invention under the State Patents Acts.”
I believe that the clause as it stands makes ample provision to meet every case under the Patents Acts of all the States, with the exception of South Australia. It may, perhaps, be argued that this clause makes the necessary provision even in that case ; but it is extremely desirable that these matters should be placed beyond dispute, and that those who have obtained provisional protection in South Australia as well as in the other States, should be able to hold their rights under this Bill. I hope the amendment will be accepted, as it interferes in no way with the spirit or intention of the Bill.
– I understand that there is some doubt whether the lodging of an application for a patent and a provisional specification in. South Australia confers a right upon the applicant to go on and complete the process by means of a complete specification, and so obtain letters patent. If there is a doubt of that kind it should certainly be cleared up. I have no doubt whatever that the intention of the clauseis that every one who has made an application in any State for a patent shall be able to go right on under the State Patents law and obtain his letters patent. I have no objection to the proposed amendment.
– Have we not made the necessary provision in clause 6 ?
– Senator Charleston is in some doubt whether, under the South Australian Act, a man who has lodged his application with a provisional specification will have his right preserved.
-Is priority preserved in the words of the amendment? I understand that what is. desired is that when a man has commenced proceedings to procure letters patent under a State Act, he shall be able to transfer those proceedings exactly as they exist, with all the priorities, to the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Commissioner of Patents. That may be inferred, but I think it should be expressly provided for.
– An applicant under a State Act may apply to the Commissioner under the Patents Act for a patent extending over the whole of the Commonwealth. But if he does not choose to do that, he can, under this proposal, go on with the proceedings in the State.
– If he desires to come under the Commonwealth Act, will he have to begin de novo ?
– Certainly ; he will have to make a fresh application if he wishes to secure a Commonwealth patent.
– That only goes half way to meet what is desired by Senator Charleston.
– I think not. It is perfectly clear under the Acts in all the other States that a man who has made an application, and lodged a provisional specification, has a right to go on with his proceedings until he gets letters patent. There is some little doubt whether, under the South Australian Act, the lodging of an application with a provisional specification confers the right upon the applicant to go on with the remainder of the process required to secure letters patent.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
There shall be a Commonwealth Commissioner of Patents, who shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral, and who shall, under the Minister, have the chief control of the Department of Patents.
– We have now reached one of the most important clauses of the .Bill, and one to which some attention should be given. The Bill is entirely silent as to all details connected with the office of the Commissioner. It gives us no indication of what are to be the emoluments of the office. Undoubtedly the position of Commissioner of Patents for the Commonwealth should be governed to some extent by the continuance or noncontinuance of the separate States offices. This is the point upon which I pressed the Postmaster-General last night without eliciting any very satisfactory answer. The States offices, I understand, are to be continued, temporarily at any rate ; but the position of the Commissioner for the Commonwealth will very largely depend upon the action taken with regard to the States offices. We ought to have from the PostmasterGeneral some clear indication of the qualifications which will be sought for in the gentleman to be appointed to this very important office, and also some idea of the remuneration which it is proposed to give him. We should know whether it is to be left to the Government to decide on these points, and the Postmaster-General may, perhaps, be able to enlighten us.
– Perhaps it is as well that the salary is not mentioned in the Bill, because, otherwise, it might give rise to a -constitutional difficulty. I cannot see that there is any great disadvantage in the fact that no sum is mentioned, because there is no power here to appropriate any amount for the salary of this officer. Any salary which is paid will have .to be voted on the _Estimates. and it will be foi” honorable senators to then consider whether, in their opinion, the sum proposed is too high. As to the qualifications of the Commissioner, I do not remember any Act of a similar nature in which provision has been made in that direction. We have had measures appointing heads of the Auditor-General’s Department, the Postal Department, and the Customs Department, and in each case it was simply specified that the appointment should be made without reference to qualifications.
– Will the Commissioner be an expert in patents matters ?
– The Executive must be given credit foi’ not being likely to appoint a man to a position for which he is entirely unfitted. An endeavour will certainly be made to obtain the man who is the most suitable, and he will be paid a salary corresponding to those paid to officers in similar positions in other Departments.
– The PostmasterGeneral must admit that finance is an important matter in connexion with Bills of this nature ; and I hardly think the honorable gentleman has sufficiently answered the objection raised by Senator Pulsford that we ought to have some information as to the expense of the Patentsoffice before we proceed much further. The question of cost may have a very important bearing on the amendments which we may seek to make. For instance, if we knew what the salary of the Commissioner was to be, and whether he was to have a secretary, and how many clerks, together with the approximate travelling allowances - in other words, if we knew the policy of the Government - we might be in a position to express an opinion as to whether the proposed expenditure was moderate or otherwise. It might be thought by some honorable senators that to utilize the officers now employed in the Patentsoffices in the States would be a better plan than to adopt the centralizing policy set forth in this measure. It appears to me that we can hardly decide how to deal with some of the details unless we consider the matter of finance. I do not want the Minister to be called on to state something which he has not yet considered, but it is important that we should, if possible, have some information. I recollect that in connexion with the Public Service Department the expenses were estimated at £15,000 per annum, but I understand that they have proved to be only £8,000. That is all the better ; and if we could know whether the expenses of the Patents-office would be moderate or excessive the fact might alter the whole tone of our deliberations. There are Judges in insolvency, and Judges of probates, and it would be worth while considering whether we might not have a Judge of patents. I am not prepared to say whether I shall vote for the establishment of a High Court, but if there is to be such a tribunal, I am perfectly certain that for several years - though I do not say how many - there will not be sufficient work for three Judges if we confer, as we must, Federal jurisdiction on the States Courts. Under the .circumstances might not one of the .Judges of the High Court act, as a Judge of patents t And, further, would it not be possible to get some of the necessary work of the Patents-office done by States officers 1 We yesterday discussed the .question of how far the Commissioner must deal with applications - how far he could delegate his authority. Then under clause 12 arc we to understand that the Commissioner is only to take evidence on oath - that is, orally - or is he to be allowed to deal with affidavits 1 If there be, for instance, an important mining invention from Western Australia, and there is a great fight as to who is the inventor, and the examination of 20 witnesses is necessary, will the Judge or Commissioner be sent to that State, or will he be allowed to take evidence not only on oath but by way Of affidavit t
– An affidavit is evidence on oath.
– It is evidence on oath, but I should like to know what the practice is to be. Honorable senators ought to know something about the expense of the Department, because the information may have an important bearing upon subsequent clauses.
-L join with Senators Dobson and Playford in asking for some information on this clause, which is very vague as it stands. As Senator Dobson has pointed out, we are creating the machinery for a new office, and we have not the slightest idea as to the amount which will be required to administer the Bill. It would be far better if the Government had stated plainly in the Bill what their intentions are. We know there will be a kind of office in each of the States where patents may be registered and the preliminary business transacted; and that, of course, will cost money. But here we have provision made for a Commissioner, and at the same time we are entirely in the dark as to the intentions of the .Government. In other measures, particularly in the Public Service Act, we laid down the principle of providing the remuneration to be paid, and in the present instance we ought, at any rate, to haVe some information. I do not want to press the Minister unduly, but if the general feeling of the Committee be as I have indicated, it would be as well to postpone the clause until further information is forthcoming. Personally, I do not. care to vote for clause 9 as it stands in the absence of the information which I have indicated.
– I hope that in appointing a Commonwealth Commissioner of Patents we shall not repeat the mistakes which we made in regard to the Defence administration, and superimpose a seventh Department, but that the Commissioner will be one of the existing States Commissioners, and that he will be appointed at a fair salary. Under the centralizing policy of the Bill, I am sure that officers from the States Patents-offices could be spared to do the work at the central office, and I hope that the Government do not contemplate a new set of officers. I think that on this clause we ought to have an indication from the Postmaster - General of what the Government policy is as to salary-as to whether the Commissioner is to be appointed from amongst existing officers, and what it is proposed shall be done with the latter. We should also know whether the whole of the States offices have to be continued, and whether the Commonwealth will take over all the officers, with their existing and accruing rights. We certainly ought to have some information of this character before the clause is passed.
– The course recommended by Senator Pearce is the course that has been followed in nearly every similar case.
– Not in the Defence Department.
– - I suppose the honorable senator is referring to the General Officer Commanding ; but even in the case of the Defence Department the permanent head appointed was the permanent head in one of the States, and the same course was followed in the Postal Department, the Customs Department,- and the Audit Department. I suppose we are safe in presuming” that amongst the men now administering the Patent laws in the States there is a man specially fitted for the position of Commonwealth Commissioner, and such a man will naturally be appointed. The Government have shown already that they are not disposed to go outside the States services, or the Commonwealth service, in the transferred Departments, if men can there be found suitable for offices which have to be filled. I do not think that we can state the salary in the Bill.
– It is not altogether the amount of the salary, but the whole expenses of the office that we are anxious about.
– How can we set out in the Bill what is to be the cost of the clerks that will be necessary?
– Is not the Treasurer making up the Estimates at this moment, and has he not a rough idea of the amount of money he requires 1
– I do not know whether there is any amount on the Estimates for this purpose. Would senators be satisfied if I found out what amount is likely to be placed on the Estimates for the purposes of this Bill ? I do not know, however, whether it would be the correct thing to anticipate the contents of the message which will come down from the GovernorGeneral.
– Will the Commonwealth have to take over all the officers in the States Patents-offices %
– Notices of amendment have been given on that very subject, and there will probably be two views represented in the Chamber. One will be the economical view of having one Commissioner in the central office to do the work for the whole of the Commonwealth, and the other will be that of having a Deputy Commissioner, with a staff in each State, to carry applications up to a certain undefined point, of which, I presume, we shall be informed as the discussion proceeds.
– Does not the Constitution compel the Commonwealth to take over the officers 1
– Only temporarily. While the work of getting out patents under the State laws is being completed, it will, of course, be necessary that some one, presumably the officer in charge hitherto, shall remain. Probably that will prove the more economical course ; but the scheme of the Bill is that the administration of the Patents Department shall be at the seat of Government.
– But the Minister does not give us any figures showing how much it will cost.
– How can I? The honorable and learned senator will hardly expect me to state exactly what salary will be offered. It has not yet been decided by the Executive.
– £1,000 a year ?
– I do not know whether it will be £1,000 a year.
– He will require” to be a lawyer.
– He will require to possess special ability, but I do not know whether it is necessary that he should be a lawyer.
– He will require to have judicial qualities.
– He will require to possess a knowledge of the law of patents, but I do not know whether it will be necessary for him to have general legal knowledge and experience. If my honorable and learned friend meant to suggest just now that a Judge of the High Court should take the place of the Commissioner of Patents, I do not think that the plan would work - at all. It is hardly likely that a gentleman fit to occupy a seat on the High Court Bench would be specially fitted to deal with applicants for patents. The Commissioner will require to be a man with very special ability. Provision is made for an appeal to the High Court, and when an appeal is made one of the Judges, or the Judges, as the case may be, will deal with it.
– I have always found that a good Judge can look after anything if he is supplied with the evidence.
– He might be able to decide certain points, but not all the points which it will be necessary for the Commissioner to decide. I was very glad to hear the honorable and learned senator say that he was agreeably surprised to find that, whereas the estimated cost of the Public Service Department was £15,000, the actual cost was only £8,000. He must be gratified to find that we have been so economical. In these circumstances, I cannot see why he should hesitate for a moment to allow us, in the same way, to start a Patents-office.
– I think that Senator Drake will be well advised to postpone the consideration of the clause. It is quite evident that he is not in possession of the information which it is very necessary for the Committee to have before it can deal with the clause. I consider that the Government ought to be able to. give an idea of the cost of the Commissioner. I also wish to know whether he is to be a lawyer, or a chemist, or an engineer. The Government might very easily have provided the necessary information so that we might know exactly where we are. At the present time we are very much in the dark.
– I am puzzled to see how Senator Drake can give an estimate of the cost of the Department. The aim of the Bill is to bring the six Patents-offices in the Commonwealth under one head as soon as possible, and until a central office has been organized I fail to see how the Government can furnish an estimate of its cost. It is necessary to have a Commissioner, and it may be desirable to give him the power to appoint Deputy Commissioners to act on his behalf in the States. Examiners and clerks must also be provided. I thought of moving an amendment in this clause to the effect that the Commissioner should be provided with so many examiners and clerks, giving their official designations, but I was in doubt whether it was the proper place in which to insert it. We have provided for an examiner, but’ I cannot find any indication whether he is to be permanent or temporary. It will require a great many officers to carry out this work. The Commissioner must necessarily have a great deal of work to do. There may be times when it will be desirable that the Commissioner, instead of going to a certain town, should appoint a deputy - not necessarily a permanent man, but perhaps a Justice of the Supreme Court or some other person to do his work. We certainly expect that the cost of administration will be less under the centralized system than under the present systems. Seeing that the Bill is necessary, and that certain offices have to be created, a clause of this kind must be passed. When the Appropriation Bill is submitted, we can discuss the question of whether the various officers are too highly paid or otherwise. But at the present time I do not think it is wise for honorablesenators to press the Postmaster-General for an answer to the question which has. been asked.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - Themore the clause is discussed the moreevident it becomes that the information for which Senator Pulsford has asked should be furnished. It appears to me that if thecentral office is organized under the conditions and with the ideas which Senator Charleston has foreshadowed, there will not. be very much economy effected, and we shall find that it will cost very much more than the various States offices do. Even Senator Charleston does not know the intentions of: the Government with regard to those offices. We do not know exactly how they are to be maintained, and what connexion they will have with the central office. ‘ The honorable senator says that wecannot be furnished with any data upon which to form an opinion. I differ with him on that point. I think that the Government ought to have furnished some information as to the cost of the States officesSenator Pearce has asked for a return with regard to the work in each State. Thework in each .State is not sufficient to fully, employ the time of “ a commissioner, and various officers attend to the work of thePatentsoffice. I think Senator Drake will get the Bill put through more quickly if he will give us some information on the question of cost, or postpone the clause until it can be obtained. .We ought not to pass the clause until we have an idea of what we are doing. At the present time there is a great cry for economical government, and we ought not to attempt to set up another office, or a series of offices, in the Commonwealth unless the expenditure is justifiable.
– It is. necessary that some clear and definite information should be given “with regard to the cost of this Department. I see no reason why the approximate cost, if not the actual cost, cannot be stated. A commissioner has to be appointed, who, of course, will require to be a man of experience and ability, fully competent to deal with allmatters relating to patents. Is he worth a salary of . £1,000 ? Is it necessary that he should have an assistant ; and, if so, how much is the assistant worth 1 Surely it is within the bounds of possibility for the Government to form an estimate of the cost of the Patents-office. Any business man who was going to carry out a project, or to make an addition to his plant, or to employ a person to perform special work, would be able to form» an estimate of the probable cost. I cannot agree with Senator Charleston that it would be most difficult to get even an estimate of the cost of this new Patentsoffice. In my opinion we should appoint the head of the Patents-office in each State as a Deputy Commissioner in order that he may be able to transact business in the absence of the Commissioner. There would be no increase in the salaries of those officers, but merely a change in the designation of their offices. If a secretary to the Commissioner is required, how much is he worth 1 His work may be worth a salary of £300 or £4-00 a year. The Commissioner, who must be a man of experience and ability, may be worth a salary of £800 or £1,000 a year. The total additional cost to the Government should not be very great. Senator Drake asks how can he give the information to the Committee. I am sure that he does not expect us to take a leap in the dark, and give carte blanche to the Government. I do not suggest that they would be wilfully extravagant, but the least they ought to do is to take us into their confidence, and give some information as to the probable cost of the central office. I do not agree that there is any insuperable difficulty with regard to the probable cost. If we cannot. get information of this kind I am afraid there will be very little hope of this Bill passing.
– I regard it as absolutely essential that there should be some officer in charge of the Patents- office. There must be a head officer under the Minister. It is impossible to fix the cost at present, because the PostmasterGeneral cannot have any idea of the volume of work which in the end is likely to be thrown upon the Patents-office. We have only reached clause 9 at present. There are several important clauses further on which may be so amended and cut about that the effect of the Bill will be entirely altered. Take clause 83, for instance. I am convinced that if that clause is passed as it stands there will be very little work indeed for the Patentsoffice to do. It is a most important clause ; and if it is allowed to pass unamended, very few people will take the trouble to patent their inventions in Australia. They will find it to their advantage to take out patents in other countries. With a population of four millions of people, there is a very small demand here for certain inventions. I urge honorable senators not to press the Government unduly to state the salary that is to be paid to the Commissioner. It will necessarily place the Postmaster-General in a difficulty if he is pressed to give such particulars how. Let us see how we get on with the Bill, and particularly with the clauses regarding foreign inventions. We shall be able to form an opinion as to what salaries ought to be paid to the officers when the Bill has taken its final shape.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - Personally, I should be very glad to obtain some information in regard to the probable cost of the office. I desire to help the Minister in getting on with the Bill, and to that end I request him to furnish us with a rough estimate of the cost. That should certainly be done before the Bill leaves the Senate, and it would be a matter of great satisfaction to us to have it now. If the honorable and learned senator has not yet gone into the matter with the Treasurer, he can obtain the information afterwards.
– I shall be very happy to comply with the request that has been made, only I desire, at once, to protect myself against being reminded in the future of a Ministerial promise. I do not wish to promise anything which I cannot possibly perform. I have already been making some inquiries to see if an estimate can be formed as to the probable cost of the office, by referring to the cost of working the Patentsoffices in the various States. But I findthat in the States there is usually a RegistrarGeneral who looks after patents, in addition to performing various other ‘duties. He has a staff at his command, and the matter is further complicated by the fact that the staff does work not only in connexion with patents, but also in regard to copyright, designs, and trade marks. So that it is very’ difficult to obtain any data which would enable us to form an estimate of -the cost of working the Bill.
– In Tasmania I do not suppose the cost is £100 a year.
– I am quite willing to consult with my right honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and also with the Treasurer, in order to ascertain whether an idea can be given as to what would be the strength of the Department, and what sum would be required for carrying on its work. But the estimate must depend, as Senator Saunders has very well pointed out, upon the way in which the Bill is dealt with in Committee. If, when it emerges from Committee, it provides for a centra] office, probably the cost will be somewhat less than if it is proposed to establish branch offices in all the States, though that might relieve the central office of the necessity of employing a few clerks. I will consult with my colleagues, and obtain some general idea of what the staff will require to be.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Will the Postmaster-General, when he is obtaining that information, be good enough to furnish us with an idea as to whether the staff will be recruited from the States officers ? We want to get away from the idea that the States and the Commonwealth are separate. If we allow the officers who have been doing patents work in the States, in the past to remain, and appoint new Commonwealth officers, we shall be adding to the burden on the taxpayers. The same taxpayers will pay both’ for the States and the Commonwealth.
– In many cases the Registrar-General is also registrar of titles, of lands, and so on.
– I think that in New South Wales and Victoria there are officers who are doing patents work only.
– It is so in New South Wales.
– If possible, we should relieve the States of the officers who are doing patents work, and not appoint fresh officers from outside.
– I have the New South Wales Estimates before me. I see from them that the Registrar-General of Patents is performing other work. He is not only Registrar-General and Examiner of Patents, but also registrar of the lands titles branch, and of the deed registration branch, registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, draftsman, and so on. He is paid at the rate of £1,000 a year. There are seven clerks in the New South Wales Patents-office, at salaries amounting to £1,545.
– We might possibly relieve New South Wales of one or two of those officers.
– That is the principle upon which we have always worked. I move -
That the word “Commonwealth,” line 1, be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - It becomes more and more -obvious from what the Postmaster-General tells us that the Government have very little idea of what they are going to do. Knowing little, they cannot convey much information. We are expected to carry this Bill in the same fog as envelopes the Government. The Government are really playing with the Senate. They are treating us in a very contemptuous manner. I know that there are mitigating circumstances. The PostmasterGeneral has had more work to do than any one man ought to have had.
– He has done it very well, too.
– He has done his work very well indeed ; we all know that. But there has been too much for him to do, and that to a very large extent explains the situation. Certainly, it is a very improper thing that we should be asked to deal with a measure like this with an entire absence of any statement, not only with regard to the expenditure to be incurred, but also as to the way in which the machinery of the Bill is to be worked. We are asked to accept a promise, more or less remote and indefinite, that upon some day, which is unnamed, the PostmasterGeneral will communicate to us the result of some inquiry which he is going to make. Then we shall be committed to the Bill and its consequences. That is not the position which the Senate should be asked to occupy. I trust that we shall adjourn at an early hour, and that when we meet again the Postmaster-General will be prepared with information to which the Senate is very properly entitled on various points.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - Is it intended ‘to make provision for the appointment of the examiners and officers ? It is stated in the administrative part of the Bill that there is to be a Commissioner of Patents who is to be appointed by the Governor-General, and who is to have control of the Department. But we ought to have some information about the staff to be appointed.
– It is unnecessary to specify in the Bill any other officers than the Commissioner. That is a matter which will be dealt with on the Estimates.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- I move -
That the following words be added, “ and the Governor-General may appoint one or more Deputy Commissioners.”
When we come to clause 12, I intend to move the addition of a new paragraph (e), giving the Commissioner power to delegate to the Deputy Commissioners such authority as he thinks expedient. My amendment raises a point which we have discussed several times. It may save expense to allow the Commissioner to appoint deputies. The Commissioner may be rushed with work at some time, whilst in a distant State there may be an important question awaiting settlement. He may be able to appoint one of his chief officers or a registrar from one of the States, who has had experience of patents, to deal with the matter in question.
– My attitude with regard to this amendment will depend entirely upon what the honorable and learned senator means by it. If the intention is that there shall be permanent Deputy Commissioners appointed at salaries in each State, with offices in which to carry on their business, I shall object to it. But if it is only intended to give power to the Commissioner to call a State Registrar-General a Deputy Commissioner in order to enable him to perform functions which he is performing now - the Commonwealth, of course, paying something towards his salary -I have no objection to it. Indeed, the work will have to be done in that way. Whether the person is called a Deputy Commissioner or not, there must be somebody in each State to perform duties for the Commissioner. If we do not call him a Deputy Commissioner, the Commissioner will have to rely upon the registrars in each of the States to perform certain functions for him. I have no objection to his being called the Deputy Commissioner, but whether we call him so or not we shall have to make provision for paying a part of his salary if he is asked to perform work for the Commonwealth.
– I desire to do just what the honorable and learned senator has stated.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I feel it very difficult to travel in two directions at once. I cannot travel in the direction of economy and of extravagance at the same time. Senator Dobson’s proposal is in the direction of extravagance, and I am working in the direction of economy, which, I believe, is one of the controlling factors of Senator Dobson’s mind. This difficulty illustrates the entire position with regard to this Bill. I am not prepared to say that ultimately it may not be desirable to adopt a suggestion such as that made by Senator Dobson. But what about the six States offices ? The Government are dumb upon that matter. If we knew what the Government desire to do our course would be clear, but the Government will not help us. They propose, by regulations to be prescribed, to do this, that, and the other thing. “ Openyour mouths and you shall see what we will put in “ is what the Government say to us. I cannot support the addition which it is proposed to make to this clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 -
The Commissioner may for the purposes of this Act-
summons witnesses ;
receive evidence on oath ;
require the production of documents ; and
award costs against any party to any proceeding before him.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “(e) delegate to the Deputy Commissioners, or any of them, such of his powers and authorities as he may deem expedient.”
I first of all thought of providing that the Governor-General should delegate these powers, but my intention is to keep down expense, and we do not require an officer with a high-sounding title of Deputy Commissioner in each State. I shall be satisfied if we have a registrar of patents in each State to act as Deputy Commissioner, leaving the delegation of powers to the Commissioner, who will only act under this proposed paragraph when he has too much work to do himself, or when work requires to be done in a distant State, which a deputy can do for him with advantage, and at a saving of expense.
– It would have been more convenient if the honorable senator had given some notice of his amendments. It is hardly fair to have to criticise them upon the spur of the moment. The similar provision in the Post and Telegraph Act enables the Postmaster-General to - delegate any of his powers under this Act (except this power of delegation), so that the delegated power may be exercised by the delegate with respect to the matter specified.
In the Customs Act the similar provision enables the Minister to - delegate any of his powers under any Customs Act (except this power of delegation) so that the delegated powers may be exercised by the delegate with respect to the matters or class of matters specified, or the State or district defined in the instrument of delegation.
I suggest that the honorable and learned senator might make his amendment read in this way -
Delegate any of his powers under this Act to a Deputy Commissioner.
-i have no objection to that.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I should like the PostmasterGeneral to say whether this clause has been copied from the English Act? Can the honorable and learned senator tell us from what quarter it has been obtained ? Great powers are here given to the Commissioner. There are various ways of summoning witnesses, and I believe that a Supreme Court Judge does not summon witnesses. It is the parties to a case who summon witnesses, and why should not a similar provision be made in connexion with proceedings before this Commissioner of Patents ? I think that the rules which are observed in a court of justice might very well be observed in such a matter as this.
– I am informed that the clause is taken from the English Act and the New South Wales Act. It is the usual thing in Bills of this character to give powers to a Commissioner, and to allow him to delegate the powers.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 (Penalty for Disobedience to Summons).
– I direct attention to the penalty of £50, providing for an offence against this clause.
– The penalty stated at the foot of these clauses is in every case the maximum penalty.
– While on the subject of penalties, the Postmaster-General might consider whether we should not bring clause 1 1 1 of this Bill into conformity with section 258 of the Customs Act. Under ttiis Bill, as it stands, in the event of non-payment of a fine, no provision is made for imprisonment, but in section 258 of the Customs Act, it is provided -
Where any pecuniary penalty is adjudged to be paid by any convicted person, the Court -
May commit the offender to gaol until the penalty is paid ; or
May release the offender upon his giving security for the payment of the penalty ; or
May exercise for the enforcement and re covery of the penalty any power of distress or execution possessed by the court for the enforcement and recovery of penalties in any other case.
– I shall make a note of that.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
No officer of the Patent-office shall, buy, sell, or acquire or traffic in any invention or patent, or in any right to or licence under a patent, and every purchase, sale, or acquisition, and every assignment or transfer of any invention or patent or right to or licence under the , patent by or to any officer, shall be null and void ; but this section shall not apply to the actual inventor or to any acquisition by bequest or devolution in law. Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– I desire to substitute for the word “actual” the words “true and first.” These are the words used in the British Act and the Act in force in almost every English-speaking country, with the exception of the United States and Victoria. The object of using these words is really to extend the operation of the Act in a certain direction. That is to say, if a person imports a patent, and is the first to do so, notwithstanding the fact that the article which is the subject of the patent has been patented in some other country outside of the Commonwealth, he should be able to claim protection as one who has conferred a benefit upon the community by the introduction of an invention for use within the Commonwealth. Provision, of course, should be made for a definite time within which an invention must be introduced . after it has been patented in another country. Such a provision, as I suggest, would enable many inventions to be introduced into the Commonwealth which we might not otherwise get the benefit of.
The actual inventor may not think the market good enough, and if a person, who has seen an invention in a foreign country, thinks that it can be profitably introduced into Australia, he Ought to receive letters patent in return for his enterprise, and for the expense incurred in the introduction. In that way we might be able to gain the advantage of a great many inventions, which would otherwise not find their way to Australia. I believe that up to the present time numbers of useful domestic articles have not been introduced within the Commonwealth owing to the words “actual inventor “ being used instead of the words “ true and first inventor.” My amendment, if adopted, would, I believe, confer a benefit on the community. To introduce some descriptions of patents would require a great deal of initial expenditure, and unless protection is afforded, many useful appliances may be lost to us.
– A change is required in this clause, but it might be made in a different way. It has been suggested to me that the interpretation clause might contain a definition of “actual inventor,” as “the true and first designer or originator.” I am not moving an amendment, but simply asking the PostmasterGeneral to consider the suggestion with a view to the insertion of that definition later on in clause 4. Perhaps Senator Charleston may be prepared to accept the definition in lieu of the amendment which he has just suggested.
– This is a very important matter which raises the wholequestion to which I referred in moving the second reading of the Bill, namely, whether we shall give the benefit of the patent to the inventor or to the introducer. Different countries have different policies ; and formerly, following a decision given under the Statute of Monopolies, the introducer was allowed to have the advantage. As I said previously, that might have been permissible at a time when means of communication were not as easy as they are now, and when perhaps great credit was due to an introducer - almost as much, indeed, as was due to an inventor. But now countries are brought so much closer together by improved means of communication that we know pretty well what is going on throughout the world ; and it is deemed neither necessary nor desirable to give the benefit to the introducer as against the inventor. If we wish to stimulate the inventive genius of the people we must see that the inventor gets the reward - that is, the man from whose brain the invention has flowed. What Senator Pulsford asks is that an alteration may be made in the definition which will give the reward, not to the inventor, but to the introducer, while Senator Charleston seeks to substitute “ true and first inventor” instead of “actual inventor.” I am very strongly of opinion that the person who should get the reward is the inventor and not cbe introducer.
– I said nothing about the introducer.
– If Senator Pulsford’s suggestion means nothing more than what is already provided in the Bill, I do not see the use of making any change. What Senator Charleston desires is that the person who introduces an invention shall be allowed to obtain letters patent ; and it is between the inventor and the introducer that we have to decide. The most profitable plan for the country, and the fairest for the inventor is to give the reward to the person who actually invents. That is the more modern and the better plan to which I must adhere.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I am afraid that Senator Pulsford’s suggestion would not achieve the object I have in view. What I desire is that after a certain time to be fixed - it may be a certain number of months - a person who has seen an invention in a foreign country, may, on introducing it in the Commonwealth, be granted patent rights, just as if he were the actual inventor. Such a plan has been found to work very satisfactorily in the States, and a great many articles have found their way into Australia which would not have been introduced if protection had been confined to the actual inventor. A man who spends a certain sum of money in placing a useful article on , the market is performing a meritorious act, and should receive compensation to the extent of protection by patent. I cannot accept Senator Pulsford’s suggestion, but would like an expression of opinion from the Committee on the amendment I have suggested.
– ThePostmasterGeneral has pointed out that in each of the States we may have, at all events, a registrar, with one or two clerks, engaged for part of their time in doing patent work. I do not think that the words in the clause are sufficient under the circumstances. I move -
That after the words “Patent-office,” line 1, the words “or State officer performing work for the Commissioner,” be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Charleston) proposed -
That the word “actual,” line 8, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ true and first.”
– Does the Postmaster-General think that “inventor” is the correct word? The clause, if amended as proposed, will read “ true and first inventor,” and it seems to me that it is the introducer of the invention whom Senator Charleston wishes to benefit.
– I do not know how Senator Charleston intends to proceed if he succeeds with his amendment, but I suppose he will move the insertion of other words to carry out his idea. It is sufficient, I think, that Senator Charleston has told us candidly what he desires. “ Actual inventor “ is the term which has been used in other Acts, the policy of which is to give the reward to the inventor. No objection can be taken to the expression if we agree that the reward is to go to the inventor.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - If honorable senators prefer the words “ true and first introducer of the invention,” I have no objection. But I think they will find that the words “ true and first inventor” are clearly understood in the various States to mean the person who really invented the article, or was the first person to introduce it. The words are to be found in the Imperial Act of 1883, and also, I believe, in the Imperial Acts of . 1901 and 1902. If we leave in the word “ actual,” only the inventor will be able to patent anything within the Commonwealth. What I am anxious to provide for is that if the inventor has no desire to patent the article here, and another person is anxious to do so, he may.
– An inventor can assign his right.
– I know that he can ; but the assignee may not care to expend a large sum unless some protection is given to him, and that is the reason why I wish the words to be inserted. I think that there will be no trouble as regards the interpretation of the term, because it is understood in every Patents-office.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I shall be glad to support Senator Charleston if he will substitute the words, “introduces his invention,” for the word “inventor.” I do not think that a man who gets another man’s invention can be called the inventor.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 -
There shall be kept at the Patent Office a. Register of Patents wherein shall be entered -
– I move -
That after the word “ Office;” line 1, the words “and such other place as the Commissioner may direct “ be inserted.
It has been provided that the Commissioner may delegate his powers to a Deputy Commissioner. For the purpose of administering the Act a Deputy Commissioner for Western Australia may be appointed. If an inventor wished to patent an invention he would not be able to approach the Deputy Commissioner, because he would not have the register of patents ; but he would have to write to a patent attorney in Melbourne in order to get the register inspected.
– I see no harm in the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– The clause seems to require a register only for successful applications. An application may be made, and before it is finally dealt with many months may pass by. All applications ought to be entered in order as they arrive. Whether granted or refused they should be entered. When granted the date should be entered, and when declined the reason why should be stated in the register.
– It is a part of the machinery of a well-conducted office to have a register of all letters received and sent away. This clause provides for a register of patents, and in case of an application coming along for a patent it can be referred to, to ascertain what patents have been granted. I do not think that we require the register to be loaded with all the applications which may be made, though of course they will be recorded in the office. It is to be a register of patents, and not a register of failures.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I desire to introduce a new paragraph to provide that particulars of additional patents shall be entered on the register, because clause 81 enables the patentee of an invention to apply for a patent to be called an additional patent in respect of any improvement on his invention.
– Why not insert the words “ additions to “ in paragraph (b)?
Amendment (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to -
That after the word “of,” line 3, the words “additions to or “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19 (Copies of deeds and documents to be supplied).
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - -The clause requires something to be done, but no penalty is provided if it is not done. I leave Senator Drake to propose the insertion of a penalty if he thinks fit.
– If the applicant does not supply the information to the Commissioner he loses his patent.
– Non-compliance carries its own penalty.
Clause agreed to.
When any person becomes entitled to any registered patent or licence, and in manner prescribed proves his title to the satisfaction of the Commissioner and requests that he be registered accordingly, the Commissioner shall cause the name of
Such person to be entered as proprietor of the patent or licence in the register-book.
– It occurs to me that the word “ registered “ is not required, because every patent has to be registered.
– Supposing a man comes along and claims that it is his invention, and not the other man’s, and that it has been registered. He may in that way become entitled to the patent, although it is registered. This provides for. registering him as the proprietor.
– I move-
That after the word “patent,” line 2, the words “or interest in a patent” be inserted.
I believe that what the Government are aiming at is to protect every person who is really interested in a patent - for instance, a person who has advanced money to the patentee to enable him to put his invention before the public. I think it is necessary, therefore, that these words should be inserted.
– They will conflict with clause 21.
– I think not.
Senater Dobson. - Does the honorable senator wish a mortgage interest to be protected?
– No ; if a person advances money to an inventor, he should be registered as a person having an interest in the patent.
– He would then be registered as the absolute assignee.
– It is only fair to people who advance money to patentees that they should be secured in their claim.
– If the honorable senator intends to press his amendment, I would ask him to use the words - “Or to any interest in any such patent or licence.”
– It would be better to use the words “ any joint or several interest,” so as not to make the clause conflict with clause 21.
– In either case it would be an interest.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - I have been assured that these words are necessary, and that if we put them in they will, at least, give security and protection, which it is doubtful if investors would have otherwise.
– It seems to me that the insertion of the words proposed by Senator Charleston would lead to complications. An equity suit might arise, and there would be any amount of trouble.
– It is quite obvious that if the proposed words are inserted there will be a conflict between clauses 20 and 21.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 -
The register of patents shall, at all convenient times, be open to the inspection of the public, subject to this Act.
– Is it intended that the register shall be open for inspection free of charge? It is usual for a small charge to be made. Patentsoffices are generally places which are, more or less, besieged, and the examination of registers entails a good deal of work. Some charge seems to be absolutely necessary.
– We have free public libraries1, which are open to the public at all times, and why should we charge in this case? I do not suppose there are. many people who take a great interest in patents.
– I have paid a shilling in some cases in Sydney to inspect public documents.
– I do not Suppose that any one would go to a Patents-office out of mere frivolity.
– Seeing that we have passed an amendment in clause 18, I wish to ask whether this clause will apply to the register of patents at the head office only, or to the registers of patents that would be kept at such other places as the Commissioner may direct 1
– I think that registers would be open for inspection at the local * offices .also. There is as great a reason for requiring them to be open at the local office as at the central office.
– We provide by this clause that the register of patents shall at all convenient times be open for inspection. Now we have to determine which is to be the register of patents. There is nothing in the next clause to guide us. Clause 18 now states -
There shall be kept at the Patent Office, and at such other places as the Commissioner may direct.
Which is the register of patents ? Is it that which is kept at the central office which is entitled to be regarded as the register, or are the copies which are to be kept at the local offices also to be regarded as registers ? It must be determined whether the term “ register,” as used in this clause, is to be con,strued as meaning the register at one office, or at all the offices where the Commissioner decides to open registers 1
– I think it will be better to put in the words “ at the Patentoffice “ and allow the other offices to keep copies. There must be copies at the States offices, but the register which is to be primd facie evidence should be the register of patents at the head Patents-office.
– It has been pointed out that it will be necessary for Deputy Commissioners to carry out the powers of the Commissioner in distant States. It is proposed that an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court of the State. If we make those provisions for the convenience of distant States, we should also provide that, in case of an appeal from the Deputy Commissioner to the SupremeCourt, the register kept at the State officeshall be primd facie evidence. It should not be necessary to produce as evidence theregister of patents kept at the head office.
- Senator Pearce’s idea is a good one, but I prefer that it should be carried out in the way suggested by the Postmaster-General. We should have only one real original register of ..patents, with copies at the offices opened in the States. We cannot have six registers. There should be an original register at the Patents-office ; but the copies which will be open for inspection at the Deputy Commissioners’ offices should also be taken as evidence.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania). - In dealing with this matter previously I. referred to clauses 24 and 25. Since then the* argument seems to have centred around clause 25 rather than 24. I would suggestthat after the word “ patents,” in this clause, there should be inserted the words “at the Patent-office, and such other places, as the Commissioner may direct a register to be kept under section 18.” That would leave- the register of patents in every Stateopen to inspection by the public. I should like to see the clause so amended as toenable the public to have access to theregister of patents that is nearest to them.
– Why not use thewords we have inserted in a previous clause, “ and in such places as may bedirected by the Commissioner 1 “
– Quite so. My object is to enable the public to obtainaccess to the registers. All possible means, of .access should be afforded, not only tothe original register, but to the copies. Under clause 25 we might make the register at the Patents-office the original register, and afford all facilities for makingthe certified copies available for evidence. I move -
That after the word “patents” the following words be inserted, “kept at the Patent-office and at such other places as the Commissionermay direct.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Walker) agreed to -
That after the word “ times,” line 2, the words “ on payment of the prescribed fee” be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 25 -
The Register of Patents shall be primâ facie evidence of all matters required or authorised by this Act to be inserted therein, and copies of or extracts from the Register or of or from any deeds or documents in the Patent-office may subject to this Act be supplied, certified by the commissioner and under the Real of the Patentoffice on payment of the prescribed fee, and any documents purporting to be such copies or extracts so certified and sealed shall be admitted in evidence in all courts and proceedings without further proof or production of the originals.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to.
That after the word “ Patents,” line 1, the words “ kept at the Patent Office” be inserted.
– A consequential amendment is required to be made in this clause by the omission of the word “ the “ before the word “register” where it appears the second time, with a view to inserting the word “ such “ in order that the reference may be to that particular register. Of course all registers kept at such places asdirected by the Commissioner will be copies of the original register, and this will not mean that any difficulty will be placed in the way of persons desiring to secure copies of the original register for use in certain cases. I move -
That the word “ the,” line 4, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ such.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 26 (Rectification of Register).
– I presume the Postmaster-General will consent to postpone this clause as it introduces the subject of the Supreme Court, which it was decided yesterday should be left in abeyance for the present.
– I have no objection to postpone the clause.
No person shall wilfully: -
Make any false entry in the Register of Patents ; or,
Make any document falsely purporting to be acopyof or extract from any entry in ‘the Register of Patents or of or from any deed or document in the Patent-office or produce or tender in evidence any document falsely so purporting.
– I think that after the word “ wilfully “ we should add the words “ make, or cause to be made,” and we should then omit the word “ make “ in the next two lines of the clause.
Amendments (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to.
That after the word “ wilfully,” line 1, the words “ make, or cause to be made” be inserted.
That the word “ make,” lines 2 and 4, be omitted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 9.51 p. m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030716_senate_1_14/>.