1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator HIGGS presented a petition from the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures praying that justice might be done to Mr. Goldring, and that the Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers might be brought under the jurisdiction of some court wherein citizens might claim immemorial rights.
– I was not aware until the honorable senator made the statement that any difference had been shown. I shall inquire into the matter.
.- I should like to know when copies of the report will be available to the Senate ?
– I understand from my honorable colleague that copies are being brought over from the other House.
asked the VicePresident . of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the known desire of Anarchists, Nihilists, and others to strike down the representatives of popular government, as in the case of the late President McKinley, and in view of . the desire expressed by a Mr. J. C. Campbell, M.L.C., at Dondenong, Victoria, as reported in the Age of 21st July, that “ if hanging was to take place, he considered the Ministry of the Federal Parliament should be strung up,” what steps do the Government propose to take to guard the lives of the members of the Ministry ?
– I do not suppose that the honorable senator seriously requires an answer to this question.
– Rather !
– I am sorry to say that I must disappoint the honorable senator.
MAIL SERVICE :WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
EASTERN EXTENSION TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive. Council, upon notice -
– The Government has not received a copy of the South African Tariff Convention.
Is it a fact, as stated in the press, that it is not the intention of the Government to expend any moneys to improve the alleged unsatisfactory telephone service of Sydney and suburbs ?
– I am not aware that the Government has expressed any intention as to the expenditure of money for the purpose indicated.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table : -
The second report of the Standing Orders Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following paper : -
Captain Strachan and North British Borneo Co.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message, resumed from 22nd July, vide page 2415) :
Clause 2 -
There shall be paidout of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed after the twenty-eighth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and three, a bonus, at the rates provided by this Act, on all such sugar-cane or beet delivered for manufacture after the commencement of this Act, and before the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven.
Senate’s Amendment - After the word “ three” insert “or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
House of “Representatives’ Message - Amendment disagreed to for the following reason : - Because the Bill is a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, and Amendment No. 3 is an infraction of the provisions of section 53 of the Constitution, which prohibits the Senate from originating a proposed law appropriating revenue or moneys, or from amending any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people ; and the House of Representatives does not deem it necessary to offer any further reason, hoping the above may be sufficient.
Upon which Senator O’Connor had moved -
That the Committee does not insist upon the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
– I regret in this second discussion of the question to find the leader of the Senate taking the attitude which he is taking. I regret that I do not find myself, as I so often am, in accordwith him. Judging from the way in which he argued yesterday he does not seem to have that sincere conviction of the correctness of his view which he usually entertains when he addresses the Chamber. I had hoped at the outset to be ableto say. that in dealing with the matter on this occasion I could dispense with the argument with reference to what has now been almost worn threadbare, the question of whether a charge or burden on the people is synonymous with a charge or burden on the consolidated revenue. Before dealing even with that I wish to say that I entirely deprecate the attitude which is taken in certain quarters of assuming and also of assuring the public that this discussion is unimportant. I also deprecate the attitude which is assumed by certain persons of attributing to honorable senators who insist upon the right of the Senate to amend this Bill a desire to show hostility towards another place. It is nothing of the kind. A position has been created necessitating our taking one of two courses - either of continuing to maintain that we have the right to amend or of retracing our steps and putting in place of our amendment a request. It is our duty to face that position and to apply ourselves to a solution of the problem which confronts us with a due regard to the principle involved, recognising, of course, that the importance of that principle is not to be measured as some would have us do, by the quality of the legislation in the Bill. I think it is the duty of all honorable senators to come to a decision on the question as to whether the Senate has the right to make an amendment or a request, after a due consideration of all the circumstances, but altogether untrammelled by considerations of what particular policy is embodied in the Bill. I certainly feel a considerable amount of diffidence in taking the course I am taking when I find that the leader of the Senate is supported, and supported so strongly, by the leader of the Opposition. But still I should like to point out that there is one aspect of the question of what is meant by a charge or burden on the people which has not yet, I think, been presented in this Chamber or in the other House. If the argument which has been adopted by those who say that the amendment imposes “a charge or burden on the people” be pursued to its logical conclusion, as it was by Senator Playford. on a previous occasion, the position taken up is this : that by an increased draft on the revenue we lessen the amount returnable to the several States, and by reason of that fact some States may be obliged to have recourse to additional taxation in order to supply a deficiency. If that is the way in which honorable senators are construing the phrase, they are acting in direct defiance of paragraph (3) of section 53 of the Constitution, which says -
The Senatemay not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
It does not say that the Senate may not amend a Bill “ so as to increase the charges or burdens on the people” which are in existence. Does it mean so as to increase a charge or burden on the people - any charge, in any circumstances, imposed on the people? No; it refers to a charge or burden on the people thenproposed.
– What is proposed in the Bill as it comes up to the Senate.
– That is so. It must not be taken, therefore, to apply to an increase of burdens or charges on the people generally, whether present or prospective. It must be taken to apply to a case of a burden or charge that is being proposed at the particular time. In connexion with this we see that in the first instance taxation is the imposition of a charge or burden on the people, and I contend that in that sense this appropriation cannot be held to be a charge or burden on the people. The proceeds of taxation form revenue. If that revenue is in any way appropriated, if the requirements of the Crown necessitate drawing upon that revenue, can it be said that that involves an additional charge or burden on the people? When, for instance, a charge or burden on the people to the extent of £100,000 has been imposed by taxation, when the amount has been collected we say that a burden orcharge has been imposed on the people to the extent of £100,000. If, subsequently, £80,000 of that sum is appropriated, can it be said that that £80,000 appropriation is also a charge or burden on the people ? If so, we should have a total charge or burden on the people to the extent of £180,000, and only £100,000 of money affected. It cannot be a charge or burden on the people when first collected and also when afterwards appropriated. If that were held to be a correct reading, when the whole of the £100,000 was expended there would have been a charge or burden on the people of double the amount, according to those who contend that in this instance we should make a request and not an amendment. The people, although they would only have paid £100,000, would, when that sum had been appropriated, have sustained a charge or burden of £200,000. The section, therefore, can only apply to a charge or burden proposed at the particular time - in praesenti, as the phrase has it - and after it has been collected and has become the King’s revenue, no subsequent disposition of that revenue can be said to be a charge or burden on the people within the meaning of this section. Senator Playford, in dealing with this matter, argued that the ultimate effect of the amendment in this case would probably be that owing to the increased amount distributed, there would be lessened surpluses returned to the States, and that the States would have to resort to taxation to make up the deficiency. But I point out that if that is required to be done, that will be a charge or burden on the people in futuro. It will only be a probable charge or burden, and not a “ proposed charge or burden,” which under this section of the Constitution it is provided we cannot increase, because the imposition of that problematical charge or burden in futuro might not occur for years afterwards. We are dealing here, not with a limitation of our powers to amend any proposed laws so as to increase burdens or chargeson thepeople generally, but any proposed charge or burden at the particular time presented to the Senate for approval. Having dealt with that point, I desire to say that I take the view with regard to this section that it does not impose any limitation upon us in respect to the particular matter before us, apart altogether from the question whether this increased appropriation is or is not a charge or burden on the people. I think that during the course of the discussion on this question here and elsewhere, there has been altogether too much stress laid upon the practice of Houses of Parliament elsewhere, and in Great Britain and Canadaparticularly. The attention which has been devoted to this consideration has, in my opinion, to a very great extent helped to cloud the clear issue which is really before the Committee. If we are to discover what are the powers of the Senate in this respect, we must take into consideration the whole of the Constitution, and we must stand or fall by the Constitution, and the Constitution only. We commenced this Commonwealth with a new book, so to speak, untrammelled altogether by the practice of the Parliament of the United Kingdom with respect to the relations of the two Houses in financial matters, and unfettered by any practice of the Canadian Parliament with respect to the financial powers of the two Houses. When the framers of the Constitution drafted its various sections they had regard to the experience of Great Britain in parliamentary government during the centuries that have gone by, and they did not, as the Government are doing for instance in connexion with the Patents Bill - a matter which came under our notice last week- give us a definition which enables us to have the benefits of numbers of those decisions given during centuries. No ; the framers of the Constitution acted upon an entirely different principle. Knowing the results of the decisions with regard to these matters in connexion with the British Houses of Parliament, they endeavoured to crystallize the effects of those decisions in this Constitution, at the same time of course with a due regard to the different character of this Parliament from that of the United Kingdom, and with a special regard also to the peculiarities of the particular machine of government they were then designing. When they placed these limitations in section 53 on the financial powers of the Senate, they did so for reasons which were entirely different from those which first gave rise to the established difference in the powers of the two Houses of the United Kingdom. I shall deal with that aspect of the question at greater length later. What we have to consider now is what is the position of the Senate under the Constitution, and more particularly in relation to its powers under section 53. I have said that the framers of the Constitution, in framing this legislation which limits our powers, had not only the experience of the centuries of Great Britain in parliamentary government, but they bad their eyes fixed on the future working of this peculiar machine of government they were then designing. Now, where does the Senate get its powers? According to the opinions evidently entertained by some who have taken part in this discussion, the Senate would appear to get its powers under section 53 of the Constitution. Nothing of the kind. The powers of the Senate are given to it first of all by section 1 of the Constitution. I ask the attention of honorable senators to this -
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a
House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called “ the Parliament,” or “ the Parliament of the Commonwealth.”
Then we have several other sections dealing with incidental matters until we come to section 51 of the Constitution, the one which contains what are commonly known as “ the 39 articles.” That defines, to some extent, the jurisdiction of the Parliament. Honorable senators will bear in mind that up to that section there is not - the slightest distinction drawn in the Constitution between the powers of the Senate and those of the House ‘of Representatives. Later om we come to section 69, and we find under the heading “ Executive Government “ that certain departments of State are to be transferred, and inferentially Parliament is to have the power of legislation in connexion with them. So far we have not the slightest suggestion of any difference whatever in the powers of the two Houses. On the contrary, under section 49 each is to have the powers of the British Commons at the date of the establishment of the Commonwealth. The limitation comes in this particular section 53. Honorable, senators will bear in mind that, apart from this section 53, there is no limitation whatever in the powers of the Senate, and it is both coequal and co-ordinate in its legislative functions with the House of Representa- tives. Now we come to this principle that being a limitation of the powers of one Chamber which otherwise is co-equal with the other Chamber - according to all rules of construction of statutes, this section must be construed most strictly, and in favour of the particular body whose rights are being limited. Unless the limitation is clear, precise, and definite, it cannot apply. That is the ordinary rule of construction with regard to legislation limiting the rights of any body or any individual. So that if at any time there should appear to be any doubt–anc I am not saying that I am entertaining any doubt in. this instance - whether or not the operation of this section covers certain work of the Senate, it must be construed in favour of the Senate, because this is a section of limitation. I pointed out in dealing with this matter on a previous occasion th,e significance of the words “ so as to “ in this paragraph (3) of section 53. The paragraph says -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
In considering these words strictly, I contend that the words “so as to” have to be given the fullest significance in favour of this Chamber. They are not to be construed as equal to the expressions “ likely to be,” “ calculated to have the effect,” or anything of that kind. They must be construed absolutely strictly, and it must be patent that the amendment proposed is an amendment of such a character that its direct, immediate, and inevitable effect will be to increase some then proposed charge or burden on the people. I do not admit that there is “a proposed charge or burden in this case, but I am assuming, for the sake of argument, that there is. The effect of these words, “so as to,” upon a strict construction, necessitates that the amendment shall be of such a character .that in the words of lawyers, ipso facto, it will increase the burden or charge. What have we here 1 The object of this Bill is to give a bounty to certain persons who grow sugar with white labour. It is stated that the object of the amendment is to widen the incidence of that bounty, and it is suggested that by so doing a certain larger number of persons may come in to” participate in that bounty. Have we any guarantee of that? We know that there are in Queensland many growers . whose views do not coincide with those who have adopted the white Australia policy, and who have moved for the abolition of kanakas from Queensland. We know there are many planters who say that they would prefer to grow sugar with black labour rather than to grow it with white labour to secure the bounty. What absolute guarantee have we for assuming that there will be an increased charge or burden on the revenue, because there will be an extra number of participants in the bounty? It is only a probability, a high probability I admit. But that is ‘not the construction we are to place on this section of the Constitution. I say the amendment must be of such a character that not the probability but the inevitable effect- -apart altogether from any intervening circumstance - ‘ of its operation will be to increase the charge or burden. I do not think that in construing this particular section, according to all rules of statute construction, which necessitates the construction known as strictissimi juris, we can deduce any other conclusion from these particular words - “ so as to.”
– Does the honorable and learned senator not think that he is trying to shave without lather ?
– I do not think so. If the honorable senator had followed my argument, as to construing strictly the words “ so as to,” he would see that they carry with them the significance that the proposed amendment must be of such a character that, apart from anything else, of its own inherent force, it will increase the proposed charge or burden on the people. It appears to me that in the discussion of the matter, here and elsewhere, there has been a disposition to regard section 53 of the Constitution as granting the rights of the Senate. It does nothing of the kind. We have heard honorable senators arguing, for instance, as to whether a request and an amendment may be moved in connexion with the same Bill, and referring to this particular section 53 as if the financial powers of the Senate were derived from this section. My argument is that the financial powers of the Senate are derived from the Constitution generally and from sections 1, 49, 51, and 69, in particular, and they are only limited by section 53. We have to look to the whole Constitution to see what is the extent of our power, but there has been a disposition, I say, in certain quarters to look to section 53 alone as being the grant of the powers of the Senate instead of the limitation of them.
– That has been the tendency displayed, and the honorable senator, on reference to the debates in the Seriate and in the other Chamber, will see that arguments have been based on the powers of the Senate as defined by section 53, ignoring the fact that that section is not the grant, but the limitation of those powers. That is a fallacy which has led some honorable senators into considering what is provided under the Constitution, from an entirely wrong point of view. They have viewed section 53 in an entirely different way from that in which they should have viewed it, and they have omitted to consider the rest of the Constitution. It is the section which confers legislative power upon the Senate and the other House, the section which defines the powers of the Houses, the particular section which defines the limits of jurisdiction of the Parliament, and the other section which refers to transferred departments in connexion with which inferentially we have the power to legislate - as is these particular sections which confer the powers of the Senate, and section 53 is simply introduced as a section to limit those powers in certain circumstances to a certain extent. Why were . the Senate’s powers limited in regard to money matters ? Was it because the Senate is unrepresentative of the people as is the House of Lords? Was it because we do not properly represent the people as in the case of the nominee Canadian Senate, or in a lesser degree certain Legislative Councils in some of the self-governing British possessions? We know that although originally the financial preponderance of the House of Commons arose out of the insistent demands of the people that their representatives, and their representatives only, should hold the purse-strings, during the course of the last century it has been found that the financial preponderance of one House makes for the stability and permanence of the cabinet system of government ; because it has been considered that if the two Houses had co-equal powers, it would then be a matter almost of impossibility, in many instances, that the Cabinet should maintain simultaneous majorities in both Houses. Although the original reason for the establishment of the difference in the powers of the two British Houses was the unrepresentative character of one as compared with the other, still a great reason why it has been maintained in Constitutions where two Chambers are representatives of the people is because it has now come to be considered a necessary adjunct of responsible government. This leads us to consider how far effect has been given to that principle in section 53. The Cabinet system of government could not be carried on if the Cabinet had a majority in one House, and if the other House refused to vote the ordinary supplies they required for the year, or if their policy of taxation was approved in one Chamber and thrown out by the other. But going beyond those two classes of cases equal powers, especially in the case of two Chambers which are representative, will not be inimical to the maintenance of responsible government. Consequently we find in sec tion 53 that this Senate has no power to originate or amend the ordinary annual Appropriation Bill or Bills imposing taxation. These are practically the two matters upon which it is absolutely essentia] a Cabinet Government shall have a majority behind them if they are to remain in office. But what -of this Bill now before us 1 Is it a Bill imposing taxation 1 Certainly not. Is it a Bill the loss of which would place the Government in such a position - I am speaking purely with regard to the financial portions of the measure - that it would be difficult for them to carry on administration of the country’s affairs. I say it is not such a Bill. The whole of the limitations contained in section 53 were intended to secure the proper working of the Cabinet system of government - to secure that the Cabinet should be able to carry on the government with a working majority in the other place, even if there were a majority against them in this Chamber. The majority in this Chamber on questions of general policy might reverse the decision of another place, and that reversal would not affect the Government ; but if this Chamber had equal powers in regard to the appropriation of moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government, or equal powers with regard to taxation, then there might be complete disorganization of the governmental machine, and legislation and administration would come to a stand-still. But. could the amendment of this Bill bring government to a stand-still ? No ; and that is the test we can apply when we consider the history of the framing of the Constitution, and the object and meaning of section 53.
– If the Senate can appropriate £50,000 for the purpose of the sugar bounty, can it not appropriate the whole £9,000,000 of Customs revenue ?
– I would point out to the honorable senator that we are not appropriating £50,000.
– We may be.
– I am very glad the honorable senator has used the words “ may be,” because they illustrate the argument which I have just advanced as to the construction of the words “ so as to.” The section does not say that the Senate shall not amend any proposed, law which “ may “ increase the charge or burden’s on the people.
– - The very object of the amendment is to increase.
– The honorable senator may say that that is the very object, but supposing that in effect there is no increase? Supposing the Government anticipated that under the original proposal £60,000 would be required, and that even if the amendment were carried, only £40,000 was needed ; should we then be taken to have increased the appropriation requisite for carrying out the policy ?
– That is a fine way of reasoning.
– It is the way suggested by the interjections of Senators Higgs and Pulsford, and by all the arguments from the other side, which are based wholly on probabilities. If the amount that the Government require to have appropriated for this purpose were definitely set down in the Bill, and we proposed to enlarge that amount, we should be directly increasing the appropriation, the charge or burden on the revenue or on the people, according as honorable senators may choose to term it. But there is no definite appropriation set down in the Bill.
– Is there not a definite appropriation to start with ?
– Not of a definite sum.
– Is not the £2 a definite sum ?
– I am speaking of the total amount. We have been dealing in .sums of £50,000 and £9,000,000.
– We have not altered the proposed allowance of £2 per ton.
– We have not.
– But there is an appropriation to start with.
– There is no appropriation of a definite sum. If there had been, and wen had proposed to appropriate a larger sum, we should certainly then be amending a law so as to increase the appropriation, or increase the charge or burden on the people or on the revenue, according as we might ‘view it. In the absence of any definite sum proposed, and construing this section strictly, we must not have regard to the “ may be “ or “ might be,” or any of the possibilities, but to what we know to be the immediate effects as shown by the amendment itself. The amendment must be of such a character and quality that its immediate and direct effect, apart from any intervening circumstances, will be to increase the proposed charge or burden! on the people. I therefore intend to adhere to the attitude I held when this matter was previously before us - first, because I do not consider this amendment to involve a charge or burden on the people within the meaning of section 53. Again, even if this were allowed to be a charge or burden on the people, I contend that Senator Glassey’s amendment does not, ipsofacto, increase that burden. Further, there is no definite appropriation of any particular sum in the aggregate for carrying out this policy, and there has not been and cannot bc any definite increase of any sum. Further, I say that section 53 is a limitation of the powers of the Senate, which are otherwise equal with those of the House of Representatives, and, being such a limitation, it must be construed strictly. The section must be construed in the light of the fact that its limitations are designed for the maintenance of the system of responsible government, and that the competence of this Senate to pass an amendment of the character now before us is not calculated to prejudice the existence of that system.
– Senator Symon, when he addressed the Chamber yesterday, commenced with what, I think, I may describe as an inverted quotation. If I wanted to follow his illustrious example, I think I should commence my few remarks this afternoon by submitting, without any personal reference to any member of the Chamber, a very oldfashioned conundrum. That conundrum is - “ Why is a lawyer like a restless sleeper,” to which the answer is - “ Because he lies on one side, and then turns and lies on the other.” That, in a Pickwickian sense, is unfortunately the attitude which Senator Symon has taken up on this question, as I shall prove from words which fell from the honorable and learned gentleman’s own lips, and which are recorded in that most inconvenient publication known as Hansard. Senator Symon occupied about three hours yesterday afternoon in demolishing an hypothesis which he most emphatically insisted upon three weeks ago. I can understand a lawyer doing that sort of thing in connexion with the practice of his profession ; we know that lawyers are briefed, and have duties to discharge, and when they are brought, as they sometimes are, into juxtaposition with awkward circumstances in their professional work, they are necessarily allowed some liberty.
But when it comes to arguing a question in. this Chamber, I think that the same degree of liberty is not necessary, and certainly in my view is not desirable. Senator Glassey’s amendment has been the subject of much discussion and trouble in this Chamber and elsewhere ; indeed one might quote Lord Macaulay -
Then tenfold round the body
The roar of battle rose.
If Senator Glassey with this amendment is playing the part of Valerius in the poem, it is not my fault. However, let me quote Senator Symon upon Senator Glassey’s amendment. The extract which I shall now read may be found in Hansard of 25th June, page1399, and is as follows : -
– May I ask a question as a matter of order? I notice that the Chairman is putting these amendments as requests. I would ask whether that is the way in which they should be put under the Constitution ? This is not a Bill imposing taxation, and this is not an appropriation of revenue for the ordinary annual Services of the Government. That is the test.
– Senator Symon was correct. We have the right to amend, as everybody admits.
– Senator Symon proceeded -
We have, I submit, a right to amend this Bill according to the Constitution. Section 53 of the Constitution provides that we may not amend laws imposing taxation or appropriating revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government. We are here appropriating revenue for a specific purpose by statute. It seems to me, therefore, that these proposals should not be put as requests, but as amendments.
With an emphatic declaration so nicely and concisely phrased, a number pf us agreed, and we were rather taken aback at the laboured eloquence with which the honorable and learned gentleman yesterday sought to destroy his previous argument. I suppose the honorable and learned senator had forgotten, and, like the restless sleeper, he turned over and not only demolished his own argument, but, with a zeal worthy of a better cause, sought to depreciate the position of this Senate in the Constitution of the Commomwealth. I remember very well that at the time of the Federal elections, there were none more eloquent or more consistent than the Prime Minister and the Vice-President of the Executive Council in claiming that New South Wales, at any rate, should return only men who would maintain the Constitution. They said in effect - Perish everything but the maintenance of the Constitution 1 But we find here, at an early stage of our career, just as we found in the very first Bill sent up from another place, a deliberate effort made to belittle the position of this Chamber. That effort was repeated in the speech put into the mouth of the GovernorGeneral at the close of the last session of Parliament, denying in effect that this Chamber has any function in the granting of supply. That was ah assault upon the position of this Chamber under the Constitution, which the Postmaster-General, when I sought to have an address presented to the Governor-General on the subject, promised, in the event of our letting him off, should not again occur. Following up the idea that this is to be merely a Chamber of revision, requiring the presence of only one paid Minister out of seven - following those continued assaults to which I have referred, we find now an urgent appeal made to us to do - what ? To go back on a deliberate vote arrived at by a very large majority - a majority whose excess was actually larger than the minority who voted - and to place ourselves in the extraordinary position of turning the other cheek to receive another buffet. I must own to a feeling of regret .at the action of certain honorable senators on this question. We can take no exception to those who constituted the minority on the previous occasion maintaining the same attitude now, but I do feel surprised, and in some degree pained, that honorable senators who were manly enough and clear enough in their mental perception of the position to vote for the amendment last time, should now, having been told point blank by ‘some other authority somewhere - an authority with no more power to interpret the Constitution than we have - that they were wrong, be willing to turn the other cheek with Christian resignation ready to receive the other buffet which will follow. As sure as we are discussing this question, a strong, if not successful effort will be made elsewhere to meet with an equal rebuff any attempt made by this Chamber to obtain what it desires by request. I shall vote against the motion submitted by Senator O’Connor, and I shall certainly vote against seeking a repetition of the rebuff by voting for any request. Though my speech will be brief, I wish to elaborate some of the remarks which were made with very great clearness and ability by Senator Keating. The only reason 1 repeat those remarks at all, is because I made notes of similar points last night, with the intention of speaking on them to-day. I should like to make one or two brief quotations, though I do not think it necessary to repeat any of those which were used by Senator Baker and Senator Downer. I desire to emphasize the fact that in my opinion there is the greatest possible difference between the meanings of some of the terms which certain honorable senators have mixed up together in their speeches. We are told by one speaker at one stage of his discourse that a duty is a burden on the people ; and to that we all assent. But the same speaker at another stage eloquently alleges that the appropriation of the proceeds of that duty is another burden on the people. How can we have two burdens on the people in the matter of a £6 per ton duty on sugar? Senator Keating used pretty much the same argument, and dealt in a general way with hundreds of thousands of pounds; I shall take the simple duty of £6 per ton on sugar. Are we to be told that when the people have paid the “burden,” and the money is paid into the King’s hands, that the distribution of the revenue from the duty of £6, is another burden on the people 1 Are two burdens to be manufactured out of one payment? It is impossible to follow the argument that every appropriation of money is a burden on the people. I want to draw the distinction that lies between a burden on the people and a charge on the revenue. The enacting of a. duty is placing a burden on the people, as we all admit ; but the appropriation of the revenue derived from it is not a new burden on the people, but is simply a charge on the revenue. The quotations which I shall make will strike at the initiation of the whole matter. At page 357 of Dr. Hearn’s The Government of England, honorable senators will find this passage -
The amount was collected by the King’s officers, was kept by the King’s officers, and was. expended by the King’s officers. With none of these matters had Parliament any concern. Its. duty was to find the money required for theKing’s service. The particular services to which the money so found should be applied, and all other questions connected with its expenditure, rested with the Crown.
That was the initial stage of parliamentary action in connexion with placing burdens on. the people, and dealing with the question of the public funds. At page 367, Hearn says-
In this reign (Charles LT. ) we first meet with the imposition of permanent taxes. . . . . Above all in it was established the great principle of appropriating supplies. … In theory an aid (tax) was a voluntary donation . . . . but when once granted it was at the absolute disposal of the King.
We have come away from that state of affairs to some extent in dealing with appropriations at the hands of Parliament, but the theory still holds good that the money granted by Parliament in the form of a tax is the property, for the time being, of the monarch, and is disbursed in his service. In England, for instance, the money is raised by Parliament, and is devoted to the maintenance of the King’s navy, the King’s army, and the King’s officers of State in many directions. Here we have not got away from that in theory, although we have got away from it in phraseology to some slight extent. In this Chamber, honorable senators now present assented, without debate, without protest, to the passing of the Excise Tariff Bill which, in section 5 - -leaving out the words relating to the dates when the duties are to be paid - says :-
The duties of excise specified in the schedule are hereby imposed according to the schedule, and shall be charged, collected, and paid to the use of the King for the purposes of the Commonwealth on the following goods -
Again, in section 5 of the Customs Tariff Act we find practically the same provision -
The duties of Customs specified in the schedule are hereby imposed according to the schedule, and shall be charged, collected, and paid to the use of the King for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
It is a duty of Parliament to appropriate these moneys; and they are not less the moneys of the King, because His Majesty cannot personally hold and disburse them. They are held and disbursed under the supervision of the officers of State, and under the direction of votes of Parliament, Parliament doing the work which the monarch would otherwise have to do personally. We have followed the theoretic principle laid down so far back as the time of Charles II., when permanent duties were first enacted under the British Constitution,, and in this matter of Senator Glassey’s amendment we are not dealing with a burden on the people, but a charge on the King’s revenue. I do not see how it is possible to waive away the plain simple statement in the ‘ two Acts I have quoted - that it is the King’s money and not the people’s money voted for the purposes of. the government of the country under the Constitution of which His Majesty is made’ part.
– He is part of the Parliament, not of the Constitution. . .
– Is not Parliament a part of the Constitution ?
– In one respect perhaps it is not part of the document, but it is part of the Constitution. I cannot conceive how any honorable senators will deliberately set about to deceive themselves on the point as to whether the moneys which are involved in this amendment are the moneys of the King or the moneys of the people. If. they are the moneys of the people we cannot be creating a fresh burden on the people by merely distributing them. I wish to refer to the question of whether the distribution of the money involves an increase of the burden on the people from another stand-point, and that is what the people may be called upon to pay. Under the Customs Tariff Act, the duty on cane sugar is £6 per ton, , and on beet sugar £10 per ton. Senator Glassey aims at so promoting the production of sugar that the Commonwealth will be independent of imported sugar. If that be the case, what will be the result? Instead of paying, as a large proportion of the people have to do today, duty at the rate of -.6 a ton on cane sugar, and £10 a ton on beet sugar, they will pay at the rate of £1 a ton. Locally-grown sugar- is subject to an excise duty of £3 a ton, and £2 of that sum has to be returned in a bonus, so that what the people will be called upon to pay on the sugar, if Senator Glassey achieves his object, is a duty of £1 a ton. How can it be alleged that the amendment increases, the. burden on the people if they are to get their sugar at a duty of £1 a ton, instead of duties of £6 and £10 a ton? The proposition is so transparent that I fail to understand how honorable senators could befog themselves by trying to prove the very opposite of what is the simplest sum in arithmetic. Senator Keating referred to Senator Symon as the leader of this side of the House. So far as we have seen on this question, with the exception of one senator, he leads himself and no one else.
He was undoubtedly the leader of the free- traders on the subject of the Tariff, but no one will be more willing than himself to recognise and to indorse what I say, that his appointment was in connexion with the Tariff alone. He does not on this question voice the opinions of this side of the House beyond those of himself and, perhaps, one other.
– This is news.
– It has been made abundantly clear in the course of the debate. I am not belittling Senator Symon in stating a plain fact. There is no concerted action, as Senator Keating’s remarks implied, for no party issue is involved. If these benches are in any way to be regarded as occupied chiefly or wholly by freetrade members, the leader in chief of the free-trade party, who occupies that position outside the Chamber, is at variance with us. There can be no evidence of any party action. I absolutely repudiate the idea that there is or has been any party action. So far as I know, on both sides of the Chamber, every honorable senator - and Senator Keating is a living example of what I am saying - has occupied a position of absolute independence in his action. It would be most unfortunate if ever a question involving the rights and the dignity of the Senate were permitted to be dragged into the slough of party politics. Let us, at least as far as we can, avoid the introduction of any party question in connexion with our insistence on the rights which a large number of us believe are granted to us, not as a privilege, but under the Constitution. I have no desire to elaborate my arguments at greater length. I believe the Senate will be making the greatest mistake it has ever made if, after deciding that its duty was to amend, it should simply, because it has rerecived a rebuff elsewhere, admit that it was absolutely wrong, and did not understand its constitutional obligations and rights by reversing its decision and saying - “Oh, well, we made a mistake. “We will try something else,” without any additional arguments having been adduced to show us that we were wrong. The statement of the leader in another place was at absolute variance with his words when he was leader of the Convention. When we find that a distinguished gentleman occupies an absolutely contradictory attitude in two positions - one as leader of a Convention and one as leader of another place - and that he is backed up by Senator Symon, who, in the short space of less than a month, has absolutely contradicted himself here, I wish to know with what confidence any honorable senator can approach the other House and ask that a request may be granted instead of an amendment being concurred in 1 If we have the powerto insist on our amendment, surely it is more dignified to insist than to throw away the right of insistence, and say - “ May wewith bated breath and trembling kneesask to be generously allowed to make a request, which we are very sorry we ventured to submit as an amendment.” I regret that so much time has been occupied in this discussion. I do not think that I am open toblame because in the previous lengthy debate I took no part, and if I have spoken for a. few minutes to-day I have been justified in speaking. I do not always feel bound to take notice of the remarks of newspapers upon political matters. But when we find a great newspaper with a degree of accuracy quite unusual on the part of a newspaper writer chronicling the different stages, in a controversy, and finally saying that a House deserves well of the people throughout the Commonwealth for seeking to maintainunimpaired and intact the dignities, powers,, and rights granted to it by the Constitution, I think one may feel some little satisfactionin having not an element of support, becausehonorable senators ought not to rest on any newspaper for support, but an indication of a clearly expressed opinion in agreement with our own.
– What newspaper ?
– The Sydney Morning Herald, which is, I suppose, theoldest newspaper in the Commonwealth, and certainly not the least influential. For reasons which have been admirably expressed by other speakers, notably Senator Baker,, and for reasons I have given, I shall feel it. my duty to vote against the motion, and equally to vote against any effort which may eventually be made to seek a second rebuff at the .hands of the other Chamber. h
– I happen to be one of those unfortunatemembers, who, I suppose, will fall under the extreme displeasure of Senator Neild, because I must admit that I am in his list of unmanly senators.
– I did not use1 the term.
– The honorable senator used the term “ unmanly attitude “ in reference to the action about to be taken by some senators, who, he anticipated will reverse their previous votes. I shall not attempt to follow the intricacies and subtleties of the legal arguments which have been used in this Chamber. T could not do so if T tried, and I am satisfied that the only result of attempting to do so would be to make the confusion worse, and, perhaps, there would be the additional result of a headache for myself. I shall be guided as to the vote I intend to give upon this question only by the plain English meaning of the Constitution as I read it. A good deal has been said about what was the intention of the framers of the Constitution. It does not matter what they intended. I have only to guide me in this admittedly important issue the exact words that were finally agreed upon by the gentleman who framed the Constitution. These words appear to me now as they have done throughout the discussion to mean that, in this particular instance, we have not the power granted to us within the four corners of the Constitution to amend this Bill, but that we have the power to request amendments. I was, unfortunately, unable to be present on the last occasion when a vote was taken upon the question ; but when I was here I expressed myself in hearty accord with Senator Glassey’s amendment, and I supported the suggestion that it should be put in the shape of a request. I have not changed that opinion, and I propose to record my vote now in the same direction. The striking feature of the debate to me is that it proves very clearly that the ten wise men who were sent by each” of the colonies to frame .a Constitution for the Australian Commonwealth failed in their duty, They failed at least to this extent that they have left the particular sections, in which this matter is dealt with so ambiguously worded, that we find the leader of one branch of the Legislature taking one side, and the leader of the other branch taking another, though both of these gentlemen were leading members of the Conventions. I am reminded when I think of this of a sentence used by Senator O’Connor during the debates at the Convention of 1891, held at Adelaide. It appears to me that it will be admitted that the Convention succeeded admirably in following Senator O’Connor’s advice. That honorable and learned senator at the Convention said -
We cannot have a Constitution which scientifically draws the line between the different rights which should be appropriated by the two Houses. All we can do is to make a workable arrangement.
The discussion in which we are at present engaged, irrespective of former discussions of a similar kind, clearly shows that the framers of the Constitution failed to scientifically draw the line showing the exact rights and privileges of the two houses, and in my opinion they failed also to make a workable arrangement, because leading members of the Convention are debating this subject from diametrically opposite points of view. It is therefore left to a layman to take up the Constitution as he finds it, as it was left by the legal minds who framed it, and read it in the light of plain commonsense, if he can.
– If he can.
– Yes ; I admit the difficulty of placing a commonsense English interpretation on section 53, but it seems to me that in this case we have the power to request an amendment, though not the power to make an amendment. It has been said, I think by Senator Millen, that if we do not adhere to our amendment, but decide to send it to the other House in the shape of a request, we may find that it will be decided that there is not even the power to request left to us. It may be my obtuseness, but I really cannot conceive of any situation arising in which the Senate will not have the power either to amend or request an amendment. Although this is admittedly an important question, I may, perhaps, be permitted to say that too much importance is being attached to it. The weight of constitutional argument which has been introduced into the debate to settle this question, reminds me somewhat of the use of a steam hammer to crack an egg. Holding the view that I do, I am compelled to support the motion which has been submitted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. If it is carried, I shall be prepared to support a further motion that the proposed amendment be submitted to the other House in the form of a request. I should like to say that, as a representative of one of the smaller States in the Commonwealth, and knowing that this is the States House, and peculiarly guards the rights and privileges of the smaller States, I have, perhaps, more than have representatives of the larger States an interest in seeing this question properly thrashed out, and in seeing that our rights under the Constitution shall be jealously guarded. I am quite as anxious as is Senator Gould to see that the stamp of inferiority shall not be placed upon the Senate by the action of any of its members. I think that expression, used by the honorable and learned senator, was a little out of place. I should like to Know who among the representatives of either the. smaller or larger States is prepared to have the stamp of inferiority placed upon the Senate.
– Some honorable senators appear to be prepared to do so.
– Surely we are entitled to hold our own opinions, and to give expression to them without being subjected to a charge that we are prepared to have the stamp of inferiority placed upon the Senate.
– The honorable senator is abandoning the position he took up the other day, without any fresh argument.
– I beg the honorable and learned senator’s pardon. If he had listened to what I had said he would know that I am not doing anything of the kind, and I suppose he will accept my word.
– Of course I do.
– If Senator Gould had been listening, he would know that I explained that I did not vote on the question on the last occasion because I could not be here, and that if I had been here, it was nay intention to vote for the proposed amendment being put in the form of a request. I protest against Senator Gould, or any other honorable senator, saying that any member of this Senate wishes to place the stamp of inferiority on this Chamber.
– That argument would mean that we should always insist upon amending, even if we admitted that we should make a request.
– Not at all.
– I say that it is an entirely unfair way of reasoning for an honorable senator to charge those who differ from him in their reading of the Constitution with wishing to place the stamp of inferiority upon the Senate, and with being willing to give up the rights of members of this Chamber. I
– I admit thatis mot applicable to Senator O’Keefe, whowas not present when the first vote wastaken ; but it is applicable to other honorable senators who were present and argued: the question out.
– It appears to me that the honorable and learned senator makes his charge applicable to every honorable senator who is prepared to vote for the motion now before the Committee. I have no doubt that there will shortly be questions before us in connexion with which I shall be glad to see Senator Gould fightingwith me, and fighting to the bitter end,, when it comes to be a matter for the consideration of the electors.
– The honorablesenator will find me adhere to any position I take up.
– The honorable and learned senator will find that I shall do thesame. If we wish to assume so belligerent an attitude as that taken up by Senator Neild,, of whom I proposed to say something whichwould not have been complimentary if hehad been present, in all reason let us assumeit upon some question concerning which thegeneral public will have some knowledge, and will be able to understand. Let us not. take up such an attitude upon a question of this kind, which 99 per cent, of the peopleoutside will not understand. ‘
– That is no reason for shuffling with our responsibilities.
– It is not, but I think it supports my contention that toomuch importance has been attached to this question. In this particular instance, thereis really very little difference between a request and an amendment, and as I read the Constitution we have not the power here tomake an amendment, though we have the right to make a request. For the reasonsgiven, I shall support the motion submitted by the “Vice-President of the ExecutiveCouncil.
– During the time I have had the honour tooccupy a seat in this Chamber, I have never really been so puzzled as to how I should vote as I have been in connexion with thisparticular matter.
– When in doubt, go with the Government.
– No; it is the other way about. When one is in doubt, I think he should vote as he voted before.
– No ; he should vote the other way for a change, and then he would be bound to be right once.
– I had the honour of being a member of the Federal Convention; and I have a very distinct recollection that, as Senator Downer has already reminded us, we were most anxious to make the Senate a strong House. Although I was a representative of one of the larger States, my sympathies in that matter were with the smaller States. I saw that the Senate would be most useful in protecting them, if there were any disposition on the part of the larger States to coerce them. When this amendment was first under consideration, I was tempted, during some remarks made by the Postmaster-General, to suggest that the Bill might be described as neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring.
– I thought the honorable senator said that it was a fair measure of justice, because New South Wales would get so much out of it.
– I am at present speaking with regard to this particular amendment. I think that it is the intention of the Bill to give all the States a fair measure of justice ; but if the amendment is thrown out, they will not be likely to secure that measure of justice which I think ought to be given to them. I received considerable light upon this subject from the speech delivered by Senator Keating. The honorable and learned senator, in my opinion, brought forward an excellent point. I listened to him with attention, and if I had previously any doubts, the honorable and learned senator’s speech solved them. I venture to remark that under certain circumstances, we may, as a Commonwealth, have a source of income which will not mean a charge or burden on the people. We have, for instance, a considerable income from the post and telegraphic services. Judging by the experience of the old country, we may in the future derive a magnificent income from those services, and honorable senators will not contend that that will be a charge or burden on the people. A learned King’s Counsellor has remarked elsewhere, and I am glad to find that some leading barristers adopt the view, that an expenditure of the moneys of the Crown is not imposing a charge on the people.
– If we expend money, we have first to raise it. .
– This has been raised.
– No ; the appropriation comes first always.
– Some honorable senators, and amongst them Senator Symon, as well as a learned King’s Counsellor in another place, tell us that there is at times very little difference between an amendment and a request. We have been told that the difference is something like that between tweedledum and tweedledee, but it now turns out that there may be a very considerable difference. It appears that if we send a request for an amendment to another place, and it is there rejected, the responsibility for throwing out the -Bill will rest upon us ; but if we send an amendment and the.other House refuses to accept our amendment, the responsibility for throwing out the Bill will be upon them. If, in this instance, we send down a request, and the other House refuses to accede to it - and, judging by the debate which took place elsewhere, some honorable members believe that we have not the right even to make a request - we shall be placed in a more undignified position than if we insist upon making an amendment, and that amendment is subsequently rejected.
– We shall be placed in an ignominious position.
– I believe that every member of the Senate is actuated by a desire to uphold the dignity of this Chamber. I think that the tone of the debate which took place in the other House was excellent, and I should like the tone of our debate to be of an equally high character. I was particularly enlightened by the speech of Senator Baker. The honorable and learned senator was a member of the Convention which met at Sydney in 1891, and he showed us by voluminous papers which he had beside him that, under the Commonwealth Bill as submitted to that Convention, the powers of the Senate wouldnot have been nearly so great as the Convention in 1897 and 1898 subsequently agreed to make them. I have no wish to find any fault with the drafting committee of the Convention. I know they did their best, but I am not at all clear that the Constitution as now drafted is as acceptable as it might have been made. Whole sheets of drafting amendments were submitted simply by resolution, and I am not sure . that in some of the sections of the Constitution the drafting committee did not slightly alter -what was the original intention of the Convention. We know that a consolidation of statutes is sometimes found not to be on ail-fours with the whole of the provisions of the Bills which have been consolidated. We have been told of a remarkable instance in point in connexion with a consolidation of statutes, the work, I believe, of the late Chief Justice Higinbotham, in conjunction with Mr. Donald Mackinnon. I am not at all sure that the fault which was found with this consolidation might not, in some respects, be found with the work of the drafting committee of the Convention. I hope that if we eventually agree to send a request to the other House, and that House declines the request, the Govern ment will bring in another Bill in which they will embody practically the amendment we have already carried here. I state my conclusions with all due deference to my honorable and learned friend and colleague, Senator Symon, whom I recognise as the leader of honorable senators on these benches.
– But not on this question, surely ?
– May I be permitted to say that it is a matter of some congratulation to myself that I had the honour of being instrumental in getting the name of “Sen ite” given to this Chamber. There was at one time an intention to call it the “ States House,” but in spite of the opposition of my learned friend, Senator Downer, I succeeded in the Convention im having the more dignified name adopted. The PostmasterGeneral and Senator O’Connor do not seem to be quite in agreement on this question, but I hope that that will not prove the case with the members of the Ministry in the other House, but that the latter will do their best to have the Bill carried in such a form as will be satisfactory to the Senate. Whatever takes place, we all desire that the sugar planters shall have fair play, which I do not see they can get if our views are not carried out by the House of Representatives, whether those views be presented by amendment or by request. I hope I have shown sufficient reason for opposing the motion now before the Committee.
– I shall support the proposal of the Government, which indicates the proper course to be followed by the Senate. It is singular that, whilst honorable members of another place are united in their views on this question, senators are about “six of the one and half-a-dozen of the other.” That is a very unfortunate position, which should be considered by those who wish to precipitate a conflict between the Houses. I cannot help observing that the two honorable senators, who are perhaps the warmest on this subject, are our military friends, Senators Gould and Neild. I suppose those honorable senators are so accustomed to the idea, if not the practice, of fighting, that they feel called upon to infuse a little military ardour even into their arguments. It has always appeared to me that the Constitution conferred upon the Senate rather greater powers than the Convention intended. The Convention decided that there should be some distinction made between the two Houses in regard to the way in which Money Bills were to be dealt with, and then the Convention proceeded to so arrange matters that the distinction was practically lost. It was as though we were expected to send down to the other House a statement of our wishes in a blue envelope instead of in a white envelope - that we were to send our proposals down and call them “ requests “ instead of calling them “ amendments.” I do not see that the rose smells less sweet if called by any other name. To my mind the power remains with us, and we are in no danger of losing it. If we have not the straightout power of amendment in certain Bills, we have always the power of making requests, and surely that power rightly and properly used is sufficient, and is in no danger of being lost. I feel strongly that the dignity and position of this Chamber is best conserved by recognising the spirit of the Convention and of the Constitution. In my view, the Constitution calls on us to make our wishes known in a form which accords with the popular view as recognised in the Convention, and represented by the House of Representatives. If at any time a difference of opinion arises between the two Houses, and there is any uncertainty, I shall feel it my duty to unhesitatingly give the benefit of the doubt to the House of Representatives. In following that course, I shall feel that I am adopting the course which best promotes the dignity of this Chamber, and which will increase our strength for the time, if ever it comes, when we have to fight over some question of substantial importance. When the rights or privileges of the Senate are at stake, no one will be found fighting for them more strongly than myself.
– I feel that I am to some extent responsible for the present position, seeing that I was the means of introducing the amendment which forms the basis of the difference between the two Houses. It seems that the other House “takes exception not to the amendment, but to the way in which it was presented by the Senate ; and it behoves us to give every possible consideration to the matter. We have to consider whether we were right in our first contention, and if so, whether it should be adhered to, or, on the other hand, whether the balance of opinion and the weight of evidence are not so much against us that it is our duty to change our attitude. I confess I share with Senator Walker, though only to some extent, the perplexity of mind in which one is placed as to whether the proposed alteration in the Bill should have been submitted by amendment or as a request. My own inclination is to adhere strictly to the position which the Senate originally assumed ; but after listening most carefully to all the arguments which have been advanced during this and the previous debates, and after reading everything said by those who are capable of giving a sound and well-informed opinion - particularly those who helped to frame the Constitution - I am forced to the conclusion that this proposed alteration should have been presented as a request and not as an amendment. I am not one to close my mind against evidence, particularly evidence so weighty as that which has been given by those opposed to the view that in such a measure the Senate cannot make an amendment ; and I am bound in justice to my own conscience, and in justice to the claims as to the relative positions of the two Houses, to come to the conclusion which I have indicated. This debate is, I suppose, the most lengthy that has taken place in the Federal Parliament on a constitutional question, and the point at issue is one which we should carefully, calmly, and deliberately consider before coming to a decision. It may be said that inasmuch as I submitted the amendment in the first instance, and, further, as this is a question which very materially affects the well-being of a considerable portion of the people in my own State, I am naturally prejudiced, and that rather than run any risk of losing the measure, I may be inclined to take up a position contrary to that which the justice of the case or the Constitution warrants. But that is not so. I yield to no member of the Chamber in a desire to maintain the dignity, power, rights, and if I may use the term, privileges, of the Senate. Senator Baker and Senator Downer are both gentlemen of very great ability, whom I hold in very high esteem, but notwithstanding their strong attitude, and also the attitude of Mr. Higgins - a gentleman who stands exceedingly high at the Bar, and is held in great esteem as a constitutional lawyer - I maintain that unquestionably the balance of argument and of opinion in this and the other Chamber is against the position first taken up by the Senate. Regarding the matter from that point of view, I am bound to reverse mv position and to vote in favour of the proposed alteration being submitted as a request and not as an amendment. I have arrived at the conclusion in no hasty or premature manner. I agree with Senator Keating that this is a most important question, and that our decision may have far-reaching consequences, and be quoted as a precedent for all time. That consideration has weighed with me in arriving at the decision which I have announced. The debate has been an exceedingly able one on both sides, and, under the circumstances I, at any rate, do not regret the time it has occupied. I find’ that the Prime Minister argued strongly in the other House that the Senate had no right to make an amendment of this character, and discussed the question from every possible point of view. Sir Edmund Barton, dealing with the position which he and others took up in the Federal Convention, referred to a passage from one of his own speeches quoted by Senator Baker, and while admitting that the extract was quite right up to a point, and under certain conditions, showed that it was really explanatory of quite another set of circumstances. Mr. Reid, the leader of the Opposition, supported the view of the Prime Minister, and was most pronounced in his opinion that the ‘ Constitution is so clear as to leave no room for doubt.
– Mr. Reid was supporting the rights of his own Chamber.
– Does that interjection imply that Mr. Reid, merely to make a point on behalf of his own Chamber, is prepared to ride rough-shod over the Constitution, of which he himself was one of the framers ?
– I do not know ; I leave that to Senator Glassey to decide.
– Is it implied that Mr. Kingston and other legal gentlemen are prepared to violate the Constitution, which, in honour, and by oath, they are bound to uphold in every particular? I cannot believe for a single moment - at any rate I should be very slow to believe - that Mr. Reid would take up a hostile position with regard to the Senate merely, as suggested, by Senator Zeal, to score a point on behalf of his own Chamber and against the Senate.
– I did not say that.
– That is the inference to be drawn from the honorable senator’s interjection. Mr. Reid, and every other member of the House of Representatives, was bound to come to an honest conclusion upon this matter. Although he is in opposition to-day he may be a member -of a Government to-morrow. From the responsibilities of his position in the other House, and in accordance with every law known to parliamentary government in any British country, the leader of the Opposition, equally with the head of the Government is bound to maintain, not only the rights and privileges of the House to which he belongs; but of both Houses. Then, also, the Prime Minister himself was very strong in his attitude against the position which the Senate took up. Mr. Kingston and Senator O’Connor were amongst the framers of the Constitution, and they are of opinion that we have no right to amend. Senator Keating said to-day that the VicePresident of the Executive Council did not feel very strongly upon this matter, judging from the manner in which he presented his case yesterday. I believe, however, that Senator O’Connor feels extremely strongly. He stated that there are no misgivings or doubts in his mind.
– -Hear, hear.
- Senator O’Connor is satisfied that the Senate presented its opinion with regard to an alteration in the Bill in a wrong way; There can, therefore, be no doubt as to the attitude of the leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator
Drake is equally strong, except that he expresses some doubt as to whether we can amend this Bill, or even request an amendment in it. I do not think that that position can be sustained. Senator Symon, who was one of the framers of the Constitution, has, I am satisfied, just as strong a regard for the maintenance of the powers, privileges, and rights of the Senate as any other senator can have.
– What about his contention a week or two ago that the Bill could be amended ?
– At the first blush Senator Symon may have thought that we ought to proceed by way of amendment, and not by way of request ; but, after going into the question most carefully - as it is evident that he did from the voluminous notes which he used yesterday, the extracts which he quoted, and the weighty arguments which he advanced - no doubt can be left in the minds of honorable senators, as to the strong position which he takes up.
– He quoted authorities that do not apply, and precedents that have no bearing.
– Mr. Isaacs, one of the framers of the Constitution, is equally strong. By way of interjection, in reference to the question of the appropriation of “moneys, that honorable and learned gentleman suggested a point to which I have not yet seen a single answer given. He suggested that if the Senate has the right to appropriate a small sum of money - and, of course, the appropriation under my amendment in this Bill would be comparatively small - then we have the right to appropriate the whole of the consolidated revenue for a year. I confess that that query presents itself to me as a stumbling-block. I observe that Senator Baker intends to address the Committee when I have finished. I shall be glad if he will give his opinion as to whether, if the Senate has the right to appropriate a sum of money for any purpose, we have equally the right to appropriate the whole of the revenue for a year.
– I only intend to make a personal explanation.
– Then we have the Chairman of Committees, Senator Best, holding the same opinion, and supported by Senator Clemons and Senator Dobson. In the other House Mr. Glynn spoke upon the question, and I read his speech with very i. great care and interest. I attach very great importance to any statement made by Mr. Glynn upon a constitutional issue. I remember hearing that gentleman speak in one of the Convention debates in Melbourne, and was very much interested. He is exceedingly industrious, and invariably presents his case in the clearest possible manner. He appears to entertain no doubt with regard to the powers of the Senate in this instance, although he is a man who fully recognises the constitutional importance of the relative positions of the two Houses. I have read his speech most carefully, and I find that he strongly supports the attitude of the Prime Minister.
-Col. Gould. - Mr. Glynn thinks that we have no power to request.
– He is in doubt about that.
– He has very little doubt.
– In his speech, he went on to say that that matter was not then before the House.
– Mr. Glynn’s opinion is that our powers are limited by section 53 of the Constitution.
– There is a good deal of wobbling going on.
– Well, I do not profess to be perfect, but Senator Zeal will pardon me for saying that in politics I never knew the way to wobble and never shall know it.
– I never said the honorable senator did wobble.
– That was implied. I express plainly and distinctly the opinions which I hold. I am bound to take up a stand in accordance with the evidence tendered to me. The charge of wobbling may apply to the honorable senator, but it does not apply to the senator who is now addressing the Committee.
– The honorable senator will see from the way I vote that there is no wobbling in my attitude.
– If I were convinced that our first stand was the right one, I should insist upon maintaining the position of the Senate even if it resulted in a dissolution of both Houses. In addition to the opinions of the gentlemen whom I have mentioned, we find Mr. G. B. Edwards, the member for South Sydney, and Mr. L. E. Groom, speaking on the same side. There are fourteen lawyers who maintain that the Senate has no right to make the amendment in question. Whom have we on the other side ? In the first place, there is Senator Baker. There is no man whose writings and opinions on constitutional matters I have read with greater interest, for many years past, than Senator Baker. I possess his excellent manual amongst my papers, and I very often turn to it for guidance with regard to constitutional matters. I have listened to everything which he has said on each occasion when he has spoken, and have weighed his arguments carefully. But, as I have said, the balance of argument is undoubtedly against his view. Senator Downer takes up the same position as does the President. He is an undoubted authority upon constitutional matters and a strong stickler for the rights of the Senate, particularly as they affect the interests of the smaller States. I share with him a desire for the maintenance of the rights and privileges which have been conferred upon us by the Constitution ; but I am afraid that on the present occasion my honorable and learned friend and I must part company. Senator Gould takes the same side. He has given a great deal of consideration to these matters, and is strongly against the Senate making a request, and equally strongly in favour of our power of amendment. There is also Senator Keating, a gentleman of very great ability, and who, young as he is, has devoted much time and thought to constitutional affairs. I listened to him with the greatest interest and care. But, as I stated before, I am bound to have regard to the weight of evidence. That being the case, I fear we shall have to reverse our decision. In his statement yesterday, Senator Symon urged that the Senate must not come into conflict with the other branch of the Legislature without being sure of its ground. That is an important point of view. If the stand taken up by some honorable senators were correct, and we were to push it to its ultimate conclusion so that the Governor-General was bound to dissolve both Chambers, should we be able to maintain our position before the country? If I thought that the position of the Senate was unassailable, there would be no hesitation about my attitude, but I agree with Senator Symon that unless we are absolutely sure of our ground, we should not provoke a conflict. There ought to be an overwhelming majority of the Senate in favour of any stand which we may decide to take up. Indeed, we ought to be pretty well unanimous.
– Then the honorable senator does not agree with Moyle : “ When in doubt win the trick.”
– If our position is no(t a tenable one we are bound to retreat. For the reasons which I have advanced, and in consequence of the enormous weight of evidence on the other side, I am convinced that the Senate cannot maintain the position taken up in the first instance. Let me submit an illustration. Suppose that the legal gentlemen whose opinions I have quoted constituted a judicial tribunal, and that the question of the attitude assumed by the Senate was submitted to them for decision, what would be the result ? Undoubtedly their decision would be against the Senate. There would be fourteen legal minds on the one side and five on the other. That seems to me to be a convincing illustration.
– The honorable senator likes to be “on the side of the big battalions.”
– I am simply taking the case as it stands. Is it not clear that, if there were fourteen Judges on the one side and five on the other, the majority would be against the contention of the Senate ?
– Might not the fourteen be wrong?
– Well, take another illustration. Suppose the High Court were established with three Judges, and this question were submitted to them. Suppose that two of the Judges agreed with the fourteen lawyers whom I have quoted, and that there was one on the other side. There would be a majority of two to one against the Senate.
– One cannot tell how the Judges would decide !
– The remark implies that these lawyers’ are not honest iri their opinions as to the powers of the Senate under the Constitution. I decline to believe that Mr. Reid and the other eminent gentlemen whom I have mentioned would take up an attitude against the claim of the Senate unless they felt sure of their ground. They would not do so merely to support the position of the other House.
– Mr. Reid is not always right.
– He may be a littleflighty in political matters sometimes, butin legal affairs we cannot accuse him of flightiness.
– He is a very good all-round man !
– At any rate I have shown that there are fourteen legal gentlemen who think we have no power to amend this Bill, and only five on the other side who think we have a constitutional right to amend. Having listened to everything that has been said upon the subject in the Senate, and read everything that was said in the House of Representatives, I can come to no other conclusion than that theSenate was wrong in the first instance ; and -I must give my vote in favour of a reversal of that decision, and for submitting the proposal which I made as a. request, and not as an amendment.
– I do not rise to offer any further argument in reference to the question in dispute, but I think I may be permitted to state that yesterday Senator Symon - no doubt unwittingly - misrepresented the attitude which I have assumed, and what. I have done. He stated to the Committee, and it has been reported in the public newspapers, that I, being President of the Senate in Committee, dissented from a ruling by the Chairman. Now, I never did anything of the sort. What happened was this : The PostmasterGeneral, in the absence of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, moved that the Bill be recommitted. It was recommitted. He then moved that the resolution proposed to be sent down to the House of Representatives in the form of a request be rescinded. I spoke on that motion, and voted with the PostmasterGeneral. Therefore there was no dissent whatever from any ruling of the Chairman of Committees. I think that that would have been a most improper thing for me to do, and, as a matter of fact, I never did any such thing. There is another matter which I should like to mention. Senator Playford - judging from an interjection which he mad - seems to think that I have not. accorded to him such courtesy as I ought to have done. I am very sorry that he should think so. I can assure him that no discourtesy towards him was intended. The observation I made was in answer to an interjection in the heat of debate. If the honorable senator thinks that I was discourteous to him I am exceedingly sorry, and I apologize to him for what I have said.
– I accept the apology of Senator Baker, and I sincerely trust that I made a mistake - very possibly I did. With regard to the other matter, I pointed out that, before Senator Baker spoke, the Chairman deliberately expressed his opinion as to the proper course to be adopted on the occasion, and that Senator Baker then took the opposite side.
– I consider that Senator Baker and the Chairman treated each, other with great courtesy in the matter. Certainly the position for a person supposed to be arbitrary to take would have been to wait patiently until the Chairman had given his ruling, and then, upon an objection being taken, resume the President’s chair and pronounce his ruling ex cathedra. But Senator Baker waived that position, and spoke on the floor of the Chamber in the same way as the Chairman was speaking. I think it was exceedingly courteous on his part, very fair to us, and so far from there being any disrespect to the Chairman, I feel sure that it was done as the result of a perfect understanding, and with a view to preserve the best possible feeling bebetween them. So much for that matter, which I very much regret has been referred to. I do not wish to make another speech, but to formulate certain propositions, because we are making history, and this precedent will be cited as a reason for doing the same thing in the future. Apart from the question I have already argued, that this amendment does not increase the charge or burden on the peop’e, I submit that, according to my reading of the Constitution Act, the Senate cannot amend (1) an Appropriation Bill for the ordinary services of the year, (2) Bills imposing taxation, or (3) any Bill so as to increase the charge or burden on the people - not on the revenue. I ask honorable senators to note the words, “ on the people.” When the charge or burden is on the people it is taxation, but when it is on the revenue it is appropriation. The Sugar Bonus Bill does not in effect impose any charge or burden on the people. It leaves the charge the same, but alters the appropriation. The King receives the same sum as before, and so the charge or burden is not altered. The effect is that this is a special Appropriation Bill. Can the Senate, not amend so as to increase the amount of appropriations in Bills of this character 1 Clearly it can unless the provision that Bills appropriating revenue must not ‘originate in the Senate makes increase an origination. Such a construction is not merely an extension of the language, but it is in effect a contradiction of both language and understanding.
– -While we were discussing the third clause in Committee, it came to my knowledge that there was a difference of opinion with regard to the way in which the amendment should be put, and I suggested that, as we had already made some amendments, the matter .should be allowed to pass, and that clause 2 should be recommitted, in order that the point might be discussed. In fulfilment of that arrangement, the clause was recommitted, and this discussion has taken place. I think that Senator Glassey was very wise in agreeing to give up the amendment, and to proceed by way of request. I cannot say that I have changed the opinion which I expressed before. The difficulty, on a strict reading of the Con.stution, appears to me to be still unanswered. It is a case in which a strict reading of the Constitution is at variance with the apparent intention of the framers. I must make that admission, because I see the weakness of construing section 53 as I did ; but I do not see how it can be construed unless we allow the apparent intention of the framers to overreach the express words of the section. At the present time there is a very strong opinion against the strict reading of the section, and that being so, we come back to the opinion which was expressed here last session, that the power of request commences where tHe power of amendment fails. It is only recently that it has been suggested here that that interpretation may not be correct. If it is correct, clearly it is open to us to make a request whenever we have not the power to make an amendment. As the other House has declined to consider the proposition as an amendment, I think it is wise on the part of Senator Glassey, desiring as he does, not only to save the Bill, but to save it with his amendment, to exhaust all methods. Clearly the next method is to approach the other House by a request. I am not with the honorable senator in his desire to secure this amendment, but I am entirely with him in his desire to save the Bill. The proper way to achieve that object is, to my mind, to send back the Bill with a request, and, if that is acceded to, then the Bill is saved with the amendment. Senator Walker is on very unsafe ground in voting for the amendment on the supposition that, whether we make an amendment or a request, we are bound to. get what we desire, because the Government will bring in another Bill. We are endeavouring to do all we can to pass this Bill. If we cannot get the Bill passed through the two Houses, what reason have we to suppose that if another Bill is brought in embodying the amendment it will be passed ?
– In every case we should have to do ‘the same thing.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured us that he believes that ths Government will support a request in the other House.
– If a request is supported by the Government in the other House and carried, there is an end to all the difficulty. What an unfair position it, is for us to say, “We are going to have what we want, right or wrong. Whether we send down an amendment or a request, we are bound to get what we want, ‘because if the amendment or request is not accepted, the Government will lay aside the Bill and bring in another Bill containing the amendment.” We have to recognise that there is. another Chamber whose opinion is entitled to” consideration, and it is shown no consideration or respect if it is approached in that spirit. I think it is very unsafe ground to go upon, and it is assuming that the Government is able to do what may be an impossibility. I hope that those who desire to save the Bill will jo iii with Senator Glassey in the action he proposes to take.
– The Postmaster-General has adopted1 a very unfair tone in urging honorable senators to support the view of the Government. For what purpose was the Bill -introduced ? It was brought in merely to give the Minister for Trade and Customs a better method of distributing the rebate, and, of course, to legalize an illegal regulation. The Minister and Senator Drake had made certain promises to the. planters, and in order to give effect to them it was necessary to introduce this Bill. If it is lost, the planters who. produce sugar by white labour will still receive their £2 a ton. No doubt, the Government are not anxious to extend the operation of the Bill, as Senator Glassey desires to do ; so that he has no guarantee that, even if he should vote now as he proposes to do, his amendment will be accepted.
– I have very few words to- say in reply, and I speak chiefly because I promised to answer two questions. The first question was as to the meaning of section 56 of the Constitution. I have been looking into that matter since I spoke. A detailed explanation of the reason why that section remains in the Constitution is to be found in Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution. The explanation - which any honorable senator can find for himself by referring to the Convention debates - is that a similar clause in the Constitution Bill of .1891 was confined to a message to the House of Representatives. At that time the clause, which is now section 53, did not contain the proviso which is to be found in it at the present time. Instead of that, these words were used, “ Proposed laws mainly appropriating revenue.” Some discussion took place as to the wording of section 53, and it was then altered to the form in which it now stands. It was thus made quite clear that certain Bills which used to be called Money Bills under the old practice, could be introduced in the Senate, and that that would not be origination. Then there were members of the ‘ Convention who were anxious that these appropriations should not be introduced without a message, and therefore this proviso was left. On almost the last occasion when the Commonwealth Bill was amended, Mr. Isaacs pointed out that it was not necessary to use the words as applicable to the two Houses, because it was only in the case of one that there would be any necessity for a message, the proviso of section 53 making it unnecessary to consider provisions of the kind described there as constituting a Money Bill. Mr. Kingston, Mr. (now Sir John) Cockburn, and I think some others, thought it would be better to have these words in, and therefore the proviso was retained. So that really the reason, so far as the Senate is concerned, why that proviso was- retained was that it was thought possible that it might be necessary to have a message in regard to Bills appropriating revenue or moneys, and containing provisions for the imposition and appropriation of fines and other pecuniary penalties. It was in order to make it certain that Bills of this kind could be introduced, that this proviso was retained. I think myself that it is not necessary, and that section 56 has clearly only a bearing upon messages introduced in the other House.
– The Convention refused to put in the words “ of Representatives “ on the motion of Mr. Isaacs.
– I have been explaining that, and I shall now say no more about it. If honorable senators care to wade through the debates of the Convention, they will be able to see what was meant for themselves. Senator Gould appears to think that he has discovered in the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act an instance in which the Senate did increase a charge or burden on the people, without any objection being taken.
– That is only a machinery Act.
- Senator Walker is quite right ; it is only a machinery Act. Honorable senators must remember that it is impossible that we can draw any money from the consolidated revenue except by an appropriation, and there is no single word of appropriation in that Act. Not a single item can be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund towards the services under that Act without a separate appropriation, and for every one of those services there must be a vote upon the Estimates. I have referred to the two arguments which it appeared to me to be necessary to answer, but as regards the main contentions put forward on both sides, the discussion has been ample, and I do not wish to add anything to what has already been said. I, however, repeat the opinion I expressed before that the matter seems to me to be absolutely clear. A good deal has been said about upholding the rights of the Senate, and speeches have been made such as that delivered by Senator Baker and other honorable senators, who have put forward reasons, which, in their opinion, substantiate that view. But we have had other speeches by some honorable senators not giving any substantial reasons, but adopting the language of bluster and exaggeration with regard to the rights of the Senate. I say that if the dignity of the Senate is to be preserved, it will not be by windy generalities of that kind. It is not by adopting a braggadocio attitude, but by reasonably and fairly taking up the position which the Constitution gives us, that we shall maintain our rights and privileges. The strength of the Senate can best be shown by taking up a position that is perfectly clear, and then standing by it, and not by making assertions of rights which are untenable, and trying to assert and maintain them by big expressions and by loud talk. This Senate can only be strong if it takes to itself only the powers given to it under the Constitution plainly and clearly. So long as it assumes those powers, let it stand up for them under all circumstances, but unless the powers for which it contends are so clearly without doubt the Senate will only be weakening itself by making assertions of authority which it really does not possess. I think I need not say any more, and I hope the Committee will now go to a division and get to business.
Question - That the Committee does not insist upon the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- Since the last meeting of the Senate I have given a good deal of consideration to the desirability of altering the terms of my original proposal with a view to making it more acceptable to the other House. I think I am now able to submit it in a modified form, in which it will be found acceptable. As this Bill first came from the other Chamber, it prevented growers of sugar who had planted their cane by means of black labour prior to the 28th February, 1903, taking advantage of the bounty. I have gone carefully into the matter, and have read the debates which took place upon the Bill in another place, and T find that there was a majority of twelve in that House in favour of the Bill as it originally reached us, though there were honorable members favorable to an alteration under which no time limit would be specified. I think it would be a pity to pass the measure in the form in which it reached us, inasmuch as I find that we have about 90,000 acres of land under cane in Queensland, and only 36,000 acres of that area have been registered by those desiring to take advantage of the bounty. I submitted an amendment which has caused a considerable amount of trouble from the constitutional stand-point. I have since given a great deal of consideration to the matter, and have consulted a number of honorable members of the other House. I have also consulted the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has this matter in hand, and I find the right honorable gentleman is favorable to a modification of the proposal I originally submitted. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 2 by inserting, after the word “three,” line 7, the following words - “and to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, not being sugar-cane or beet planted by other than white labour, after the twentyeighth clay of February, one thousand nine hundred and three, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
Under this modification of my original proposal, the only persons who will be precluded from taking full advantage of the bounty system will be those who have planted cane by black labour since the 28th February of this year. Under my amendment only a small number will be precluded from taking full advantage of the bounty, and we shall be given extended opportunity for carrying out the principle of a white Australia. The Minister for Trade and Customs is quite willing to accept the amendment, and, from my personal knowledge of a number of honorable members of the other Chamber, I feel sure that the amendment will be accepted, and that we may then regard the question as settled. I regret very much that Senator O’Connor has not seen his way to accept my proposal in full.
– There is one question on which I should like to hear your views, Mr. Chairman. That is, whether, at this stage, we are in a position to deal with this modified request, which has been treated by Senator Glassey and by Senator O’Connor as though it were a matter of arrangement between the Senate and the Government, or some member of the Government in charge of the particular Department.
– I have not treated it in that way, nor has Senator Glassey.
- Senator Glassey referred to the fact that he was submitting this request on an understanding arrived at with the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I think the present amendment will be more acceptable than was the other to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– What we are dealing with is a message, not from the Minister for Trade and Customs, but from the House of Representatives. The particular amendment which we have had before us did not come from the other place with any expression of opinion disagreeing with it on its merits. There is nothing to show that Senator Glassey’s amendment in its entirety, when it was considered on its merits in another place, would not be accepted; and I think the honorable senator is rather refraining from insisting on a position to which he is entitled. The only ground on which the House of Representatives declined to accede to Senator Glassey’s amendment was that it was in the form of an amendment and not in the form of a request. The result of the vote which has just been taken is that we are prepared to yield to the contention of the House of Representatives, so far as this particular Bill is concerned, and make this amendment in the form of a request. It seems to me that the proper procedure would be to send back Senator Glassey’s original amendment in the form of a request. I voted for that amendment, and I do not know that I should vote for the amendment now before us, without, at any rate, a “ run for my money.” If the House of Representatives were to accept Senator Glassey’s original amendment when sent in the form of a request, honorable senators would, no doubt, get what they had supported, or, on the other hand, the House of Representatives could make modifications. It seems to me that Senator Glassey ought not to be put in the position of taking less than the Senate backed him up in asking for.
– We are not in Committee on the Bill, but only on the message.
– That is so, and the message is only a courteous intimation to us that we must put our amendment in the form of a request. As a matter of courtesy, and to uphold our own dignity, we ought, in pursuance of the vote just taken, to adhere to our amendment. I shall not vote for half a loaf when I can get a whole one. I ask the Chairman whether on this message the proper course is not to return Senator Glassey’s original proposal in the form of a request.
– Did the House of Representatives send back the Bill with the message?
– Yes. In my opinion it is quite competent for the Committee to send to the House of Representatives any request they decide upon at this stage. The principle laid down in section 53 is that a request may be sent to the other House at any stage. There is nothing binding the Senate to formulate its request in the form that the amendment, which we have agreed not to insist on, originally took. In my opinion, I think the request is in order.
- Senator Symon, in his observations, has not, I think, quite remembered everything that took place. This Senate did not see the first of the amendment of Senator Glassey, because it was moved in the other House.
– We have no knowledge of that.
– We have no parliamentary knowledge, but, at the same time, the fact must be stated, because we are dealing with the question of sending something back to the other House An honorable member, whose name I need not mention, moved in the other House a precisely similar amendment to that submitted here is Senator Glassey. That amendment was opposed then by the Government, and after a discussion on its merits it was rejected by a majority of twelve. The Bill, of course, came to the Senate without that amendment, and then Senator Glassey moved that it should be inserted. The Postmaster-General, who was in charge, took the same view as had been taken by the Government in the other
Chamber, and objected to the amendment : but nevertheless it was carried. The other House, when the amendment was sent down, rejected it on constitutional grounds, but it must be remembered that it had previously been discussed there on its merits and rejected. Now that it is put forward in the form of a request, the Government see that in order to bring about agreement between the Houses, it would be wise and reasonable to consent to the amendment in a modified form. I am merely stating the views of the Government under the altered condition of things. I am not asking the Senate to fall in with any arrangement made. If the request is put forward in this form, the Government here and in the other House will support it ; but, if it be in the original form, the Government will feel compelled to oppose it.
– Or modify it.
– Yes, if we think fit. If Senator Glassey introduced the amendment in the original form, I should certainly move some modification. Senator Glassey knows my views, and when he consulted me I told him what were the views of the Government. Instead of moving the amendment as . it originally stood, and waiting for the Government to propose their modification of it, Senator Glassey has moved it as a request, and in a form in which the Government will be willing to accept it. Why should not that course be pursued ? It is the course- which seems to me to achieve the result which the Committee desire should be arrived at, and meets, the views of the Government, lt will be supported by the Government in the other House. Nothing is to be gained by making the request in the form of words originally adopted in the amendment. There is no particular virtue in the Senate sending back a request in exactly the same form as the previous amendment. When the Bill comes back to us it will be open to us to send to the House of Representatives any message we think proper. If our desire is to bring this legislation to a conclusion as soon as possible, we secure that end in a business-like way by agreeing to a course which is likely to commend itself to the other House.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia). - Senator Glassey’s motion has the effect of decreasing the burden on the people, and, therefore, I am inclined to vote for it. It certainly decreases the amount which has to be paid to the growers of sugar, because it excludes those who plant cane after a certain time. It appears that the honorable senator has the best chance of carrying his proposal by having it sent down to the other House in the form now suggested. If we have an. understanding that the other House is likely to agree to the motion as now framed, it will certainly save time to carry it in that way.
– After the debate which has taken place on the position and dignity of the Senate, we are now confronted with a proposal that means climbing down with a vengeance. I do not intend to speak against Senator Glassey’s original amendment, or even against his proposed modification of it, but I seriously protest against modifying it under present circumstances. The House of Representatives has not considered this question on, its merits since we last sent down the Bill to them. But because, as Senator Glassey naively informs us, there has been some private discussion between himself and other persons, and we are told that the House of Representatives, without having an opportunity of discussing this question on its merits, is likely to assent to a request in a certain form, we, therefore, should climb down and accept the modification proposed. I shall oppose doing anything of the sort. It should be beneath our dignity to do this sort of thing in this way. Further, I would point out that if the proposal is to be modified it is open to the House of Representatives to make the modification. I am not speaking in hostility to Senator Glassey’s wishes, but I think that the modification he requires should come to us from the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives may alter its opinion. Sorely Senator Glassey is not so anxious to climb down, or so convinced that he was previously wrong, that he wants to alter his proposal before there is any need to do so. He tells us that he would still prefer his original amendment. I will support him in sending down a request in the form of his original amendment. Let him give the other House a chance. When the question was previously discussed there was a majority of twelve in the House of Representatives against what Senator Glassey desires. But if the House of Representatives were to change its mind, it would not be for the first time in the history of our legislation. I urge Senator Glassey to stand by his request as he originally framed it, and not to climb down without showing any fight at all. If we hear from the other House that they will not accept the proposal in its original form, we can agree to a modification of it, but’ that is the only reason why we should consent to an alteration.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- We ought to exercise a little patience about this matter. There is no necessity to enter upon heated arguments, and to charge persons with climbing down. We ought to be practical. Senator Clemons, who very courteously and generously supported my previous amendment, says that the House of Representatives has not discussed this question on its merits.
– Not since we last sent down the Bill.
– The question certainly was debated on its merits elsewhere. I merely took up an amendment that had been submitted in the other Chamber by Mr. Thomson, the member for North Sydney. His amendment was lost by a majority of twelve. Having ascertained that the Government would accept the proposal if it were modified, and being desirous to see the measure passed in such a way as to confer the greatest amount of relief on the greatest number of planters in Queensland, I am bound, in the interests of those whom I have the honour to represent, to endeavour to get for them as much as I possibly can if I cannot get all I want. I cannot secure the passing of my amendment as it left the Senate previously.
– How does the honorable senator know that 1
– The other House having decided against the amendment as I originally proposed it by a majority of twelve, is not likely to go back upon itself.
– Then the honorable senator should not have moved the amendment.
– If I find by negotiation and by conversation with members of the Ministry and of the House of Representatives that, in the event of modifications being made, the suggestion as I now submit it will be. accepted when it goes down to another place, I am justified in making those modifications.
– The amendment was beaten previously in the other House because the Government opposed it.
– Is there anything unreasonable in endeavouring to ascertain what amount of support I am likely to secure for my proposal in the other House ? I find that I cannot obtain sufficient support to carry out all I desire, but that if I modify my proposal it will probably be carried.
– The honorable senator cannot ascertain the views of the other House.
– The honorable and learned senator himself has often tried to secure support for proposals, and has endeavoured to ascertain in what form he could best carry them. I am warranted in submitting my motion in the form in which it has the best chance of being accepted. I therefore earnestly hope that honorable senators will support my motion on its merits, and not be led astray by a mere technical point which may lead to our getting nothing at all, instead of the considerable advantage which my proposal will secure.
– I move -
That the request be amended by the omission of all the words down to and including the word “ employed.”
I do not think that the Senate should pay any attention to matters of private conversation. Whatever may have taken place in the other House, or in connexion with a Minister of the Crown there - and I believe that certain things have taken place - it is extremely undesirable for the Senate to alter the proposition with the view of bringing itself in accord with the result of certain negotiations, even if we know that the other House will agree to the alteration. So far as we know, it has no objection to the original proposition, except that it was made in a wrong form. If the Ministry are prepared to accept a modification - and we understand that they are - when it comes before us it can be considered, and probably we shall then have the assistance of a number of honorable senators who were not prepared to go the whole length with us, but who might go to the limit which is now suggested by Senator Glassey. I do not wish to labour the point, but I think that if we alter our proposition we shall be taking up an undignified position, and one which we are not asked to take up by the message from the other House.
– I think that Senator Glassey is very wise in asking for what he has reason to think he will get. He is quite right in looking all round him, reading the debates in both Houses, and acquainting himself with the feeling in the other House in order to gauge what concession he is likely to obtain. No one has yet carefully considered in what respect this request differs from the amendment. If it is carefully looked into, it will be found that it really gives all that was asked for by the supporters of the amendment. It leaves the door open until the end of the period for any one to come in on giving twelve months’ notice. The only difference it makes is that it bars cane which has been planted by black labour after the 28th February, 1903. It carries out everything except that it discourages the planters to continue planting with black labour. The amendment meant that on giving twelve months’ notice the planters could come in at any moment, and up to that time could continuously plant with black labour. I think that Senator Glassey ought to be very well satisfied, and I believe that the planters will be very well satisfied if this request is acceded to. I am afraid that Senator Higgs is again running the risk of losing everything” by moving his amendment, because a similar amendment was proposed in the other House, opposed by the Government, and defeated by a majority of the members of that House. It is like spoiling for a fight to send down a proposal which has been fully discussed, opposed by the Government, and defeated. Senator Glassey is very anxious to get the Bill through with the concession to the planters, who, up to the present time, have not been able to see their way to get rid of coloured labour. There is a danger that, while we are fighting this grand battle over constitutional points, the unfortunate Bill may suffer. Senator Glassey does not wish to see the request and the Bill sacrificed in a fight between the Houses. What is the use of saying that we must send dow’n the request in exactly the same form as the amendment, or else we shall suffer in our dignity ? If Senator Glassey considers it is all that he is likely to get, and it is proposed as a request, our best course is to support him in his view, and see whether the other House will amend the Bill as he desires.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - The Vice-President of the Executive
Council gave us to understand that if this proposition were submitted in the form of a request he and his colleague would support it ; but now a modification is desired. From previous experience, I thought that it was very doubtful whether they would get their colleagues in the other House to support their action. I am surprised at the action of Senator Glassey. He said that there was no one in the Senate who hated wobbling more than he did. He has voted twice on opposite sides, and now he is asking honorable senators to vote another time. What can that be called but wobbling? Let us send down our original amendment in the form of a request, and if it is not agreeable to the other House, it can suggest an alteration which we can consider. I shall support Senator Higgs.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I am very sorry that we have got into this muddle. I regret that such a parliamentary veteran as Senator Glassey should put his proposition in such an unsafe position. What has he done ‘( He has been negotiating with some person or persons unknown. When a Bill comes to the Senate we have no right to consider anything which has occurred in another place. What is happening, and what ought to have happened, are two different things. If the honorable senator had submitted his proposition as a request, and the Government had any objection to its form, it would have been their duty to move an amendment, which would have been discussed, and, if carried, it would have been all right. But suppose that a number of honorable senators were prepared to support the proposition of Senator Glassey in its original form, but not in its altered form, the amendment of the Government would have been defeated, and his request would have been sent down to another place. By altering the language, he runs the risk of losing his proposition. He has put the whole principle of his proposition in jeopardy. If the amendment is defeated the proposition will be put in the new form, and a number of honorable senators have signified their intention of voting against it, while, if the amendment is carried, the Government have signifiied their intention of voting against the request. Senator Glassey, who declares that he never wobbles, is between “ the devil and the deep sea.” I am prepared to vote for his proposition in the original form, and to- back down if the other House desires an amendment, which the Government are prepared to accept. If there is a possibility of getting the original amendment carried, seeing that it carries out the principle we are advocating to a greater extent, then I shall adhere to it. I hope Senator Glassey will see the error of his ways, and will adhere to his original amendment. The honorable senator should leave it to the Government to move an amendment upon it, which” will bring it more into conformity with the views held in another place. If that is done, everything will go smoothly, and something will be accomplished, whereas now there is nothing but confusion before us.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I am obliged to Senator McGregor for what I hope is friendly advice. I have felt that in submitting lily proposal in a modified form, in which it is likely to be accepted in another place, I am running no risk of losing anything and I think I shall gain much. I do not desire to earn the reputation which some people would like to give me of being a “ wobbler,’’ but I am exceedingly anxious to submit this proposal in such a way as to insure its finding a place on the statutebook in the best possible form. I thought, and I still think, it was my duty to ask Senator O’Connor and other members of the Government, whether they would accept my proposal as previously submitted. I have had conversations with some of the members of the Government, and with honorable members of the other House, and I have found that a slight modification of my original proposal would be acceptable. Was it not my clear duty under the circumstances to submit the proposal in a modified form, that I might run no risk of having it rejected, when it is possible that, if I insisted upon mv previous proposal, a great number of sugar-growers would be unable to take advantage of the bounty proposed ?
– The honorable senator should have waited to see whether he could carry his original proposal here.
– I naturally concluded that if I submitted the proposal in a modified form the Committee would agree to accept it. I find that that is not likely to be the case, and if honorable senators would prefer that my proposal should be submitted in the original form, leaving it to the Government should they think it necessary to submit any alteration, I have not the slightest objection, and, therefore, with a view to avoiding any further delay, I shall submit my proposal exactly as I submitted it before.
– The honorable senator cannot do that now, it is out of his hands.
– Then I cannot help it. There is no question of “wobbling” in the matter at all, as I have merely desired to submit my proposal in a form in which it will be acceptable to another place. I feel that I was justified in trying to find out whether my proposal would be likely to be accepted by the Government, or by a majority in the other House. Let us see what the modification I propose amounts to. The original proposal of the Government was that all cane planted by black labour prior to 28th February last should be excluded from the bounty. There were 90,000 acres under cane, and only those cultivating 36,000 acres would be able to secure the bounty under the original proposal. I felt that many of those who desire to do away with black labour in the cultivation of sugar-cane would be unable to secure the bounty, and that the fulfilment of the policy of a white Australia would thus be retarded. I moved an amendment upon the original proposal of the Government, which was subsequently carried in the Senate, to enable a number of planters who had already been working their plantations for twelve months with white labour, to secure the bounty. I now find that Senator O’Connor and other members of the Government are of opinion that the planters have had sufficient warning since the Excise Tariff Act came into operation, and they positively decline to recognise planters who have planted cane with black labour since the 28th February, this year. What would be the area of cane planted this year by black labour? It would probably be not more than from 500 to 1,000 acres at the outside. If honorable senators are prepared to promote the welfare of the State of Queensland, and to give fair play to the sugargrowers in that State, they will be ready to support the modified proposition I now make. I regret that any heat should have been introduced into the matter, and I certainly think there was no justification for it. I deny that I have placed myself in a false position in connexion with this proposal. I was anxious that it should be submitted in a form in which it would be acceptable, not only to the Senate, but to the other
House, and I think no blame can be attached to a man who endeavours to discharge his duty as a legislator in such a manner as to secure the greatest amount of support for any proposal he may make.
– I find it impossible to understand the attitude adopted by some honorable senators in connexion with this matter. First of all, we have carried, by a large majority, a motion to the effect that the amendment which we had previously sent down ought not to have been sent.
– As an amendment ; but it ought to have been sent as a request.
– Yes, as an amendment. I think that we are all agreed that if possible this Bill should pass into law. The position which the Government took up before the amendment was sent to the other House, was that they could not support it, and acting upon that the other House threw it out by a majority of twelve. The Government still adhere to that position. I have told Senator Glassey, and I say now, that the Government will not support a request in that form. If the Government do not support a request in that form here, that may or may not affect the voting in its favour, but I know that, should it be carried in the Senate, when it is sent on to the other House the Government will not accept it there. Under these circumstances, what possibility is there of such an amendment being carried 1
– The Government can amend it again there, and send it back in an amended form.
-On the other hand, if the amendment is modified in the way now suggested by Senator Glassey, the Government will accept it here and will throw their support into the scale in its favour, and if it is passed here they will support it in the other House. That is the position we take up. On the other side, honorable senators admit that they know what will happen, but they insist that certain stages must be gone through before what must happen shall take place. They contend- that Senator Glassey should bring forward his proposal in the original form ; that the Government should then propose a modification of it j and that, if the modification is carried, it should be sent on’ as a request to the other House. Again, it is said that no modification of the proposal ought to be made here at all, that the Bill should go down with the original amendment as a request that a modification of it should be suggested there, and when it is returned to the Senate we can accept the modification. The whole tiling is a farce. Every honorable senator is prepared to admit now the extent to which he is willing to go in this matter, and every honorable senator admits that if the proposal comes back to the Senate from another place in the modified form now suggested by Senator Glassey, he will be willing to accept it.
– Hear, hear. And why not accept it now t
– Surely it is trifling with our duties to demand that we should go through all this form for the purpose of arriving at the same conclusion, after spending a great deal of unnecessary time over it, because of some vague suggestion that the dignity of the Senate is involved in these formal steps being gone through. I thought that the Senate was a body which was willing to adhere to the substance of its powers, its rights, and dignity, but was not willing that these small punctilios of politeness, or whatever they may be called, should stand in the way of carrying out substantially the wishes of both’ Houses of’ Parliament. I say it is the duty of both Houses to try to arrive at a conclusion which will bring desired legislation about as early as possible. Why should we not arrive at that by the shortest cut possible 1 What possible sacrifice to our dignity will there be in adopting that course ? With regard to what I may call the almost furious attack, certainly the violent attack, made upon me by Senator Walker, I may say that it is true, as the honorable senator has said, that I promised I would vote for this proposal if submitted in the form of a request. But when I did so, I tell the honorable senator frankly that it did not occur to me that this modification would make any substantial difference in the course that was to be taken. When Senator Walker spoke to me about the request, what I had in my mind, and what the honorable senator had in his mind, was whether I should treat this proposal as a request which might rightly be made by the Senate. It certainly did not occur to me, when dealing with the question from the constitutional aspect, that there was any question or difference as to a modification of the kind.
– I accept the explanation.
– But I ask the honorable senator, who, I think, is willing to see an extension of the advantages of the rebate to those who have not been using black labour since February, 1903, to take a reasonable view, and say what chance there is of the proposal being carried into law if we persist in taking steps which are supposed to be necessary in order to, in some indefinite way, assert the dignity of the Senate. The Government will vote against the amendment of Senator Higgs, and if that amendment be carried, and the proposal goes down in its original shape, it will also be opposed by the Government in the other House.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I am glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has confirmed what we on this side of the Chamber understood from him, that if Senator Glassey’s original proposal were sent to the House of Representatives as a request, he and his colleagues in the Government would support it. The honorable and learned senator has, however, explained that he only meant that they would support the request in a modified form. It is only right that I should mention, that to my knowledge at least, two, and I believe three honorable senators supported the proposal that a request should be made instead of an amendment, on the understanding that the request would be in the form of Senator Glassey’s original amendment. So far from the Government being placed in an awkward position in relation to the other House, I think that they will be placed in a more dignified position if the proposal goes forward as a request in the form originally drafted, because, as now proposed to be amended, the request will be in the form of the very amendment which the Government in the House of Representatives, I understand, declined to support.
– No ; this motion was never before the other House as an amendment. The modifications now suggested were never before the House of Representatives. That makes all the difference.
– At all events, I cannot help thinking that we shall be in a more dignified position if we send down as a request the proposal originally carried at the instance of Senator Glassey, instead of altering it. We should not modify our proposal until we know whether it will be considered on its merits. I am afraid that there are certain honorable members in the other place who will rather take a pleasure in seeing the Senate retire from its position before they shoot at us.
– They show no indication of that kind.
– I am glad to hear it, but I am afraid that circumstances point in that direction.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator Glassey was kind enough in the remarks which he made when last he addressed the Committee to refer to the support which he had received from myself and other honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. I can assure him, speaking for myself, and, I believe, for every honorable senator who supported him before, that that support will remain with him to the end. If the proposal which he previously submitted as an amendment, and towhich the other House took exception on account of its form, is persisted in, he will have my support. It is all the more necessary that I should say that, because, as he is aware, I was opposed to the Bill as it was originally carried. But the views of the Senate have been expressed, and I am going to stand by what has been done.
– Will the honorable learned senator support my proposal as now before the Chair?
– If I cannot get anything more than that, I will do so ; but I am going to oppose Senator Glassey’s present motion for the reasons which I have already given. My honorable and learned friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, put it that we must not be too devoted to what he described as “ the punctilios of politeness “ between the two Houses. We should all be desirous of extending to the other House the same politeness that we expect to receive. It is not a matter that depends upon “ the punctilios of politeness,” or upon politeness at all ; but if we have rules of procedure, when we desire to adhere to them, our course of action scarcely deserves to be characterized as a farce. Rules of procedure are passed to be adhered to and followed. A great deal of danger and mischief is very often occasioned in legislative and other bodies by taking what are called short cuts, and disregarding the procedure laid down, and which, in some instances, has been pursued for ages. That procedure very often facilitates instead of hampering the course of public business.
– The shortest way is very often the longest.
– “The shortest way round is the longest way home;” or, as another proverb has it, “More haste, less speed.” By following the example of the coon, who said to the American colonel before he had pointed his gun - “ Don’t shoot colonel, I’ll come down,” we are not merely detracting from the dignity of the Senate, but doing violence to our procedure, and pursuing a course of action which may be cited against us at a future time. Therefore, I shall be prepared to support Senator Glassey’s original proposal, letting that go down to the House of Representatives as a request.
– My undertaking to withdraw the present motion was conditional on Senator Higgs’ amendment being withdrawn.
– Do I understand that my honorable friend wilthen propose his original form of amend] ment as a substantive motion 1
– If Senator Higgs will withdraw his amendment, I will submit my proposal in its original form.
– That is’ the view which wisdom would prompt my honorable friend to take, and.it is a course of action which will shorten the discussion very much. I was not familar with the facts stated by my honorable and learned friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that there was a majority in the House of Representatives against a proposal similar to that embodied in Senator Glassey’s original amendment. That would have been an excellent reason to put forward when we were debating Senator Glassey’s amendment. We might have dealt with it from that stand-point. We. have no message from the House of Representatives, except that our amendment was not in proper form - that is to say, that it was an amendment and not a request. We have no means of knowing what view the House of Representatives takes, except as conveyed in the message with which we are dealing. I do not complain that we have been informed of what the attitude of the Government would be towards the request, if we sent it down. From some points of view it is desirable that we should know what is likely to take place. But it is not the Ministry to whom we have to send our message, but the House of Representatives. That House has not sent us a message dealing with the amendment on its merits. When our request goes down, they may adopt it, and give us all we want. If they do not, they may do one of two things. They may suggest the modification, which the Government are willing to concede, or they may disagree with the amendment. It is not for us to back down right away. If they are willing to agree to our request with a modification, when the Bill comes back to us I shall be prepared to support the acceptance of the concession they make. They are not likely to disagree with our suggestion in toto, because, to do so, would be an affront to the Senate after the impartial way in which we have discussed the constitutional question. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has given us an assurance that the request if modified will be accepted by the Government. But the message with which we have to deal is from the House of Representatives, not from the Government. I attach every confidence to the assurance that has been made on behalf of the Government, and think it is a proper tiling that it should have been made. I do not agree with those who have adversely criticised the Government for making that intimation. It is the proper thing for Ministers to indicate the length to which they are prepared to go with regard to concessions. But we are dealing with messages between the two Houses, and should give the House of Representatives an opportunity of discussing the suggestion on its merits.
– I am’ extremely anxious that the sugar growersin Queensland should get that protection to which I think they are entitled. If there is any miscarriage in that respect, to a very large extent it will have been the fault of the senators from Queensland. It appearsto me that there has been divided counsel. A section of the representatives of that State desire one thing, while another section of them ask for something else. As I am anxious to do the thing which I think is fair,. and also in accord with their desire, I should like to see a common ground of agreement arrived at before we go to a vote.
– If the honorable senator will wait a minute he will hear.
– I have been waiting for an hour and a half to hear, but no one knows exactly what is to be done. It is quite true that the proposition of Senator Higgs was made in another place, debated, and defeated by a substantial majority. According to statements whic’h have been made here, it was opposed by the Government. It is said that if the same proposition is made by the Senate, the Government in the other House will take up an adverse position, and we all know that when the influence of the Government is cast against any proposition .there is very little likelihood of it being, carried. Surely, Senator Glassey knows whether his proposition will carry out what he desires. He has assured us that it will, and we have the assurance of the representatives of the Government that if it is sent down to the other House their colleagues will urge its acceptance. It seems to me that the position is perfectly clear. If I had any doubt on the question I should vote with the Government, but I entertain no doubt. I feel that the right course to adopt is to accept the proposition of Senator Glassey, with the modification which the Government desire, and if a division is called for I shall vote in that direction.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I understand that it will clear the ground somewhat if I ask leave to withdraw my amendment in order’ to enable Senator Glassey to ask leave to withdraw his motion. I am prepared to take that course if the honorable senator will move his proposition in its original form, on the understanding that he will not accept any amendment which may be proposed by Senator O’Connor.
– If it is the intention of the honorable senator to accept an amendment to his proposition by Senator O’Connor, I do not see why I should give way. I am anxious to give honorable senators an opportunity to test the two questions separately, if Senator Glassey will undertake not to accept an amendment to his original proposition bv Senator O’Connor.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I understood that Senator Higgs was to withdraw his amendment, that I was to moye my proposition in its original form, and that if an amendment were moved by Senator O’Connor which would be acceptable to the Committee, I was to agree to it. I am anxious to see the proposition carried in such a form that it will be acceptable to the other House and find a place on the statute - book. If Senator Higgs likes to withdraw his amendment I am willing to move my proposition in its original form, and to accept an amendment by Senator O’Connor.
– It is a great pity that those who have the interest of the Queensland planters especially in charge here, cannot arrive at some sort of an arrangement by which what they all desire could be carried out in the most expeditious way possible. Although I am certain that every honorable senator is willing that good legislation should be passed, I think it is quite obvious that there are some honorable senators who would like that to be done with a good deal of complication. I see no reason to justify the suggestion that the course which we all agree in the end must be arrived at should be arrived at with so much circumlocution. It is five weeks since the proposition which Senator Glassey is now asked to propose to the Committee was opposed by the Government, and defeated in the other House by a majority of twelve. The Government are now willing that it should be carried with a modification. The sole question is whether we shall send down the request in a form in which we know it will be accepted by another place, or in the form originally suggested by Senator Glassey, leaving the modification to be made in another place. Why should we delay 1 If honorable senators from Queensland would agree about the matter there is no question that a majority of the Committee can carry the request in the modified form now suggested by Senator Glassey. Those honorable senators differ as to the way in’ which what is proposed should be done. Some of them think that the request should be sent down in the modified form.
– Those honorable senators cannot give us any guarantee that the House of Representatives will agree to it in that form.
Senater O’CONNOR.- Of course they cannot give us any guarantee, but we are able to say that the Government will support the request in that form, and when it is remembered that the Government had a majority of twelve on this question in the House of Representatives, honorable senators can judge for themselves what are the possibilities. After all there is nothing new in putting these considerations before the Senate. This is what we do in every case in which we wish to come to an agreement with the other House. We do not propose an amendment or make a request here which will suit our own views only. We do that in the first instance, but when we see what are the views of the other House, we propose our request or amendment in a form which we think will be acceptable to the other House. That is the course which is being suggested here. If my honorable friends, the senators representing Queensland, are willing to adopt this course in the interest of the Queensland planters, they will have this advantage, that the modified proposal will be taken up and supported by the Government, and although I cannot, any more than any one else, guarantee that it will be carried, I have very little doubt that it will, and that the Bill will become law at once and all uncertainty will be removed from the minds of those persons who have been kept in suspense in connexion with this measure for so long. If the other course suggested is adopted, the Government will refuse to support the request in the original form. It may be that a majority of honorable members in another place will be willing to suggest some modification. I do not know that they will, but there is just the same risk involved as to what may happen to the Bill in the course which honorable senators opposite suggest. If there is any difference between honorable senators from Queensland as to the form in which what is desired should be done, Senator Glassey’s generous suggestion might be adopted. I understand that the honorable senator is willing to withdraw his motion for a request.
– I am willing to hand over everything.
– The field will then be perfectly clear, and Senator Glassey will be able to move a request in the form of his original amendment, or he will allow Senator Higgs to move it. I shall then move a modification, and every member of the Committee will beable to vote as he thinks fit upon that modification. If it is decided that the request shall go down in the modified form the Government will support it, and if it does not go down in that form it will not be the fault of the Government, and they will take the action I have indicated.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - As to my desiring to claim any credit for this proposition, I may say that my sole desire is that the gentleman who has been chiefly responsible in another place for the negotiations which have been mentioned should get his fair share of the credit. I refer to Mr.Fisher, the honorable member for Wide Bay. I desire that honorable senators should have ‘an opportunity to vote upon the two proposals. My fear was that if Senator Glassey, after moving his original proposition, should accept an amendment moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, there would not be an opportunity given to honorable senators to vote upon the two proposals, and honorable senators who desire to vote for the original proposition might be found voting against the whole clause.
– Certainly I shall vote against the amendment suggested.
– There we are.
– There are a great many who will support it.
– A number of honorable senators will follow Senator Symon, and we may thus lose both the original proposition and the modification. We do not desire to be placed in that position. With the understanding that Senator O’Connor will move an amendment upon the request when it is submitted, which will be put to the vote, and that if it is lost we shall be able to vote on the original proposition, I ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment of the request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend clause 2 by inserting after the word “ three,” line 7, the following words : “ or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture.”
– I move-
That the request be amended by the omission of the word “ or” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: “and to every grower of sugar-cane or beet within the Commonwealth, not being sugar-cane or beet planted by other than white labour after the twenty-eighth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and three, in the production of which sugar-cane or beet white labour only has been employed.”
That will bring back the request to the modification which I have said the Government are willing to agree to.
– I find myself, as a Queensland senator interested in this question, in this position, as between the motion moved by Senator Higgs and the amendment proposed by Senator O’Connor: If I support Senator Higgs, as a Queenslander, I shall loose the support of the Government ; and, on the other hand, if I support Senator O’Connor I shall lose the support of the Opposition party.
– No ; they are divided.
– I must take the dictum of the leader of the Opposition on that point, and Senator Symon has distinctly stated that until the other House has had an opportunity of dealing with the original proposal on its merits he will vote against the amendment. I have, therefore, as a Queensland senator to decide whether I shall support the Government or the Opposition in this matter. I have no objection to state at once that I intend to support the Government, because I believe they will have the best opportunity of satisfying the desires of the people whom I am endeavouring to represent. We have had assurances from honorable senators on both sides that the members of the Ministry in the other House, and prominent members of the Opposition in that House, are prepared to support a request in the form suggested by the amendment proposed by Senator O’Connor, and that they are not prepared to support a request in the form of the original proposition. We are, therefore, in this position : that we have to accept Senator O’Connor’s proposal, or get nothing at all. Of these alternatives I prefer to accept the amendment proposed by Senator O’Connor. It is to be regretted that so much time has been wasted in this discussion and that so many side issues have been debated. Senator Symon was very prominent at one portion of the debate in insisting that we should climb down to the other Chamber.
– I never insisted that we should climb down.
– We have climbed down, and immediately we have done so, another proposal on the same subject is brought before the Committee, and we find the same honorable and learned senator just as forceful, just as eloquent, but not quite so convincing in insisting that we should not climb down to the other House. Honorable senators have called our proposed action “ backing down,” “climbing down,” “surrendering our position,” “abandoning our dignity,” and all sorts of things ; but if there be any question of “ climbing down,” we have already done so.
– We have not climbed down ; we have retraced our steps.
– The proposal to send down this amendment in analtered form cannot be called “climbing down.” If I understand our position correctly, we have this Bill in our hands as if we had never sent it to the other House for consideration.
– It is a clean sheet.
– That is so. The motion carried a little while ago simply restored this Bill to us, and it is now before us as if we had never moved an amendment, and therefore we can, by way of request, put the measure into any altered form we chose, just as if it were before us for the first time.
– Nobody disputes that.
– If that be so, where is the “ climbing down ?” ‘ Honorable senators who take the view that we are ungracefully yielding to the other House, say in the same breath that if we adhere to our original words, and allow the other House to insert the amendment which we propose to insert, we will accept it if the Bill be sent back to us. That is to say, they object to what they call now a “ climb down,” but are willing, if we insist on the original proposition, and the Bill be sent back, to then “climb down.” There is no doubt that that would be a most emphatic and decided “climb down.” If the amendment as proposed is good, why should we wait until the Bill is sent back from the other House ? If the amendment is worth adopting, why not adopt it now ? Where, as Senator O’Connor asks, is the necessity for all this circumlocution? Why cannot we take the most direct means of achieving what, so far as I understand the expressions of opinion from both sides of the Chamber, we are all agreed on? What we have agreed on is that which is most likely to be carried, and most expeditiously put into force. And that is certainly not the original proposition, but the amendment as proposed by Senator O’Connor, which, for the reasons given, I am prepared to support.
Senator MCGREGOR (South Australia). - I am very sorry that an)’ difficulty should have arisen, but Queensland representatives must recognise that it has arisen in consequence of their over-anxiety. Whenever the question of a request or an amendment is before the Senate, the Queensland representatives take up a wrong attitude, and put themselves into such a position that they have to retrace their steps. We have been told that in another place there was a majority of twelve against what I consider to be bare justice to the planters in Queensland ; but we ought to remember that, proportionately, the majority I have spoken of is not so great as. the reversal of opinion in the Senate. Queensland representatives ought to remember that the Government, in another place, were originally against the amendment. But it is not altogether the Government ; we may find that the members of the House of Representatives will alter their opinion, and carry the proposal if it be earnestly advocated. And any amendment made there might be more liberal, so far as the planters are concerned, than that proposed by Senator O’Connor at the present time. “Senator Glassey and other honorable senators do not seem to understand the position. Senator Glassey, in his usual conciliatory mood, accepted the amendment of the Government without ascertaining whether he had a majority to carry it. If the original proposal had gone to the other place without any amendment and had been defeated, in what position would the Queensland planters have been? But if Senator Glassey had introduced his original proposal and an amendment by Senator O’Connor were carried, the probability is that the majority who carried it would be able to carry the proposal as amended. If, however, Senator O’Connor’s amendment were defeated, we would still have the original proposal to send to another place. Honorable senators will see that the original request makes it -absolutely certain that we shall get something, whereas this compromise, as it were, puts us in a position where we get nothing. I think * it was rather foolish on Senator Glassey’s part not to move his original proposal.
– I did not want to stultify myself.
– There was no stultification, because had Senator O’Connor moved an amendment, . Senator Glassey would have had a perfect right to vote for both the original proposal and the amendment, or either. I think I understand the Standing Orders as well as most people, and in my opinion their was nothing to prevent Senator Glassey doing what I have inrdicated.
– It is not a matter of Standing Orders, but a matter of obligation.
– There would be no obligation on Senator Glassey’s ‘ part not to vote for an amendment on his proposal, if he thought the amendment the better ; but he was under an obligation to certain other members of the Chamber not to accept the amendment, and thereby deprive them of the opportunity of voting on both the amendment and the original proposal. I hope honorable senators will discuss this question fairly. It does not matter which proposal goes to the other place. I am certain that the House of Representatives will not set aside the measure, because the honorable members of that Chamber and the Government are just as’ anxious n.s we are that this Bill should be carried expeditiously. The amendment means that planters in Queensland, who may be under obligations to kanakas they have engaged, cannot come under the Bill if those kanakas are used in planting after the 28th February this year ; so that really the amendment of Senator O’Connor makes the Bill very little better than it was when it first came to us. Is it not better for honorable senators to fight for as much as they can get ? If the original proposal goes down, the Government, being anxious to carry the Bill, may amend it in the way indicated ; on the other hand, there may be a majority in the other House to carry the proposal in its original form when the question is properly argued. I hope the vote will be given with the full understanding that by the original proposal we lose nothing, but that by the amendment we make the measure less liberal than it is at present. The question is whether it is better to send down the original proposal, or send it down in an amended form - which has the best chance of passing? We can lose absolutely nothing, no matter which course we take, because the Government will not throw the Bill aside, and the other House may do I better for us than we expect.
Question - That the word “ or “ proposed to be omitted stand part of the request - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the request negatived.
Request agreed to.
That the report be adopted.
Of course, I move that motion to carry out the wishes of the majority of the Senate, but it must not be taken in any way that the Government have abandoned the position they have taken up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator BRAKE laid on the table the following paper : -
Senate adjourned at 8.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030723_senate_1_14/>.