1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator McGREGOR presented a petition from fifteen electors of South Australia praying the Senate to prohibit the introduction, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, on what day he will allow the Senate an opportunity to discuss the second report of the Standing Orders Committee which was laid on the table on the 23rd inst.?
– I - I shall take the matter into consideration, and as early a day as possible will be fixed, of which I shall apprise the honorable senator.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers -
Correspondence relating to the mail service between Australia and Great Britain, viâ Suez.
Annual Report on Military Forces.
Minute of Governor-General approving of conversion, disbandment, and re-organization of corps.
Minute of Governor-General approving of the establishments of Commonwealth Military Forces.
Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending 1904.
Papers of the Treasurer in connexion with the Budget, 1903-4.
Despatch relating to a proposed conference on the subject of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he obtain from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of South Australia a report as to the advisability of supplementing the. present roundabout mail service between Adelaide and the west coast of South Australia by subsidizing a direct steam-ship mail service between those places?
– Since notice of the question was given, I have taken steps to obtain a report from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of South Australia as to the advisability of supplementing the mail service referred to by subsidizing a direct steam-ship mail service.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– T - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
For Active Force. - Not less than twelve full days, and not more than shall in. theaggregate amount to 24 full days in addition to those required for recruit . drill or drill otherwise than during daylight.
For Reserve Force. - Not more than shall in the aggregate amount to twelve full days in one year in addition to those required otherwise than during daylight.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD askod the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Referring to his answer given to Senator Neild on the 23nd instant, to the effect that sorters and letter-carriers in the General Post-office did not work during a meal-hour in connexion with English mails -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– T - The answers to. the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– The question is, how did it reach Mr. Chamberlain?
-It was was included in the record of the Conference with the assent of the Prime Minister.
– Did he hand it in ?
– The The honorable senator had better give notice of another question. Evidently it must have been handed in as one of the papers of the Conference.
– The question is by whom ?
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In a House constituted as the Senate is, and so vitally interested in maintaining the balance of the Constitution, it will be hardly necessary for me, I think, to dwell upon the importance of this measure. Nor will it be necessary for me to dwell upon the need that exists for carrying out what undoubtedly is the intention of the Constitution in regard to the establishment of a High Court. An argument has been used in public, in the press and elsewhere, that there is no mandate in the Constitution for the establishment of this Court, because there is no penalty attached to the neglect of any such duty. I should be very sorry indeed to hear that an argument of that sort was taken into serious consideration. The highest possible sanction stands behind the enforcement of this duty, that is the good faith which we all owe to the people of Australia. We put the Constitution before the people of Australia as a whole, and they understood that the provisions of the Constitution and the rights of individuals, as well as of the States and the Commonwealth under the Constitution were to be maintained by the establishment of a High Court. It does appear to me that it would be treachery of the most unparalleled description if we were now to refrain from giving effect to the Constitution as it was passed, on the ground that there was no sanction behind it, and that no penalty attached to any neglect of duty. This Bill is introduced for the purpose of establishing a Court, in which is to be vested the judicial power of the Commonwealth. What is the judicial power of the Commonwealth ? The judicial power in a unified State is the power of the whole community which is behind an institution created for the interpretation of its laws and for carrying them into effect. But, in the case of a Federation, the judicial power is a very much larger and a very much more important function of government, because in that case the judicial power not only interprets the laws of the Commonwealth and enforces obedience to them, but it is also the sole authority for determining and construing the highest law, the law which is above all laws passed by the Commonwealth, and that is the Constitution itself. Now, what is this Constitution of ours 1 It first of all establishes the union of the States, and sets out the terms of it. Then it provides for the system by which that union is to be carried on. It must . be remembered that this is a Federation of States that have hitherto enjoyed, in most respects, almost sovereign powers ; States that have the responsibility of dealing with immense areas and large populations, having Parliaments left to them under the Constitution with very great and important powers, and, in addition, States that to a very much larger extent than is the case in any other country . in, the world, carry out businesses, public works, and in every way attach to themselves the qualities of competitors in very many relations, political and social. It is to carry out this union, and to interpret the various relations between the States, that it is necessary to have a judicial power as the interpreter of the Constitution. The example of the United States is frequently cited. I do not wish to weary honorable senators with a repetition of anything which has been said already, but I do say that we cannot too often refer for lessons to that great republic, and to the marvellous development of her system of Government, her people, and her resources under her Constitution. There can be no question that if it had not been for the establishment of the United States Supreme Court, and the position which that court has always occupied in the working out of their system of government, the history of the United States to-day would have been very different indeed. As has been explained by some of her writers, one of the most remarkable qualities of the American Constitution seems to have been its wonderful adaptability to the changing conditions which have gone on in the country during the last 112 years. It is the universal testimony of writers and historians that that adaptability to chang- . ing conditions has been made possible only by the power invested in the Supreme Court of the United States, and the way in which that power has been exercised.
– There has been very little possibility of alteration in any other way.
– U - Undoubtedly ; and that, as the honorable senator will see, must be so in any Federation. There is no doubt the amendment of the Constitution is more difficult iu the United States than it is with us; but in any Constitution which is the basis of agreement of States, as well as the machine of government, there must be, if we are to secure stability, great difficulties thrown in the way of amendment, and we must fence round the power so as to insure that no amendment will be hastily made, or made until it represents the sense, not only of the whole people of the Commonwealth, but also of the States of the Commonwealth. Judge Curtis, in his admirable work on The Federal Courts of the United States, describes the problem, which was before the people of that country when they sought to establish their judicial power, in these words -
To construct a judicial power within the Federal Government,’ and to clothe it with attributes which would enable it to secure the supremacy of the general Constitution, und of all its provisions ; to give to it executive authority that would maintain the dividing line between the powers of the Nation and the States, and to give to it no more ; and to add to these a faculty of dispensing justice to foreigners, to citizens of different States, and among the Sovereign States themselves, with a more even hand, and a more assured certain tv of the great ends of justice than any State power could furnish - these were objects not readily or easily to be obtained, and yet they were obtained with wonderful success.
As I have said, the history of the United States would have been very different if it had not been for the power of the Supreme Court of that country. I should like to cite a few words from an article in Scribner’s Magazine for March of this year, by Mr. Justice Brewer, dealing with that aspect of the matter -
In the light of our marvellous development and the wondrous growth of this Republic to the first place of the Family of Nations, one may well pause to consider what would have been our history if the decisions of the Supreme Court had been adverse to this rule of nationality. Suppose that the court had held that’, because the Constitution did not, in terms, grant the power to charter corporations, Congress could not charter a National Bank, where would have been our. great financial system ? Suppose it had ruled that a State might impose a licence on every importer from foreign nations ; that it had supreme authority over all the navigable waters within its limits ; that its courts could bike from the custody of United States officials any persons ar rested for an alleged violation of Federal law, and that there was no power in the Supreme Court to review the judgments of State Courts adverse to rights claimed under the Federal Constitution (and the questions presented in these cases were, under the strict language of the Constitution, debatable), where would have been the vigour and strength which exist in our national Government, and which have been among the strongest supports of national progress ? Reflections such as these will give some idea of how much the Supreme Court has, by its decisions, affected the life of the Republic.
If that is so in a Constitution such as that of the United States, where the only question between the States and the central authority was the delimitation of the legislative powers, how much greater is the necessity for some strong competent body with the full judicial power of the Commonwealth behind it to interpret the laws under our Constitution. I suppose there is no instance in history of a union of communities such as ours with so many business relations as are provided for in this Constitution. Take the system of finance - and I think that the statementof my right honorable colleague the Treasurer will, perhaps, emphasize what I am about to say - the whole of the revenue of the most productive taxes in all the States are handed over to the Federal Government as trustees. The Government has to spend on Federal administration what is necessary, arid to hand back the balance of the revenue to the States, and it is upon that revenue that the States must rely for the carrying on of their functions of government. Now, the terms upon which that revenue is to be collected and distributed, and upon which the accounts between the Federal and the States authorities are to be kept, are all provided for in the Constitution, and the rights of the States affecting the most important sources of their revenue are therefore embodied in the Constitution itself. What protection is there for either the large or small States unless there is some power which can decide what is the true interpretation of the Constitution in regard to those rights, and unless there is some power to enforce the Constitution if those rights are disregarded? I may say here that, although the bookkeeping period lasts only for five years aftel the imposition of uniform duties, at the expiration of thai period the revenue collected from the States must be distributed amongst them upon some plan which will be arrived at by the Parliaments. “Whatever the plan is, it is the right of all the States under the Constitution to have it carried out, and in the interpretation of that right, so long as the Constitution maintains its present shape, very large and very important State interests must be involved. Take again the . question of railways. I suppose there is no community or series of communities in the world at the present time in which transport is so largely in the hands of Government as it is in Australia. Honorable senators must remember that all these different systems of railway transport are, to a large extent, competing systems, * and if we are to have that free interchange of products throughout Australia which it was one of the objects of the Constitution to effect and preserve, we must have certain and equitable rules laid down for the carrying on of the traffic. These can only be maintained by the preservation of those provisions of the Constitution which require that every portion of Australia shall be treated fairly in regard to transport. It must be remembered also that in dealing with any breach of the Constitution we shall not be dealing with individuals; weshall not be dealing only with great companies, but we shall be dealing with States, the construction of whose railways has involved the expenditure of a large amount of money, and the construction of whose railways in future will involve questions of high policy in the development of their territories. I say, therefore, that in any question in which this matter of railway transport is concerned, we shall have to deal with very large and enormously important interests ; and we shall have to deal with parties who, unlike the ordinary parties corning into courts of justice, will have the powers of important States behind them. Take again the question of the control of the waters of the Commonwealth. As we all know, the power of controlling the waters of the Commonwealth for the purposes of navigation is vested in the Commonwealth Parliament. The power is left in the States to deal with those waters for 7 d 2 the purposes of irrigation. They are not to be disturbed in the reasonable use of water for that purpose. There is no question of more importance to at least three of the States than is this question of the use of water for the purposes of irrigation. The rights of the States on the one hand, and of the Commonwealth on the other, in regard to this matter, are also left in this Constitution. I need not multiply instances, but all through we shall find that, to a much larger extent than is the case in the United States, the Commonwealth Constitution lays down the rights and the business relations of the States and the Commonwealth in such a way that they are being brought into contact, they are being constantly used, and the question of the interpretation of those, rights is constantly coming up for settlement. Unless we have a body constituted for the settlement of those disputes which will really represent the whole judicial authority of the Commonwealth, and which will be recognised as having behind it the power of the Commonwealth, it is impossible to have such satisfactory solutions of these difficulties as will bring about peace and goodwill amongst these communities, instead of dissensions. It must also be remembered that, in dealing with this question, the important matter to be considered all through is that first of all we should have a just interpretation of the Constitution ; secondly, that we should have an interpretation which is capable of being effectively carried out. I am referring to these matters particular!)’, because we have been so often told that it does not matter much how we constitute our High Court so long as there is some tribunal to which the courts of the States may appeal in matters of difference between them. I say, however, that we have to consider this Commonwealth High Court not only as an Appellate Court, as a Court in which cases may be brought from the different States, but also as a Court which is capable of interpreting our Constitution in the spirit in which it is framed, the members of which will have a knowledge of local conditions, and a knowledge of the development, and the line of development in the future, of these communities. “We can only achieve all this by the establishment of a Court composed of those who understand what this Constitution is; and what are its aims, and who will truly interpret it so as to bring about that national strength, together with that independence of the individual States as far as their powers are concerned, which alone can bring that prosperity to our people which this Constitution and this union have been framed to secure, lt was for these reasons that it was provided in the very text of the Constitution itself what this Court should be, what its powers should be, and what should be the tenure and responsibility of the Judges ; and in this Court was to be vested the judicial power of the Commonwealth. Before I refer more particularly to the sections of the Constitution under the head of the Judicature, I should like to say that it was a portion of the scheme for the establishment of the High Court, that it should not only carry out its functions as judge and arbiter of the Constitution, as the authority to define rights under the Constitution, but that it should also be a court of appeal from the States Courts, to take the place, as far. as possible, of the Privy Council. In many of the arguments used against the establishment of the High Court, or in favour of the substitution of a tribunal of States Judges, the question is treated as if the establishment of a court of appeal from the States was really the only matter to be considered. But that portion of its jurisdiction is merely accidental. It might have been provided for before Federation. As we all know, there were many attempts made to secure some Court of Appeal for Australia, constituted of Australian Judges. If that had been the only object in view, no doubt it might have been carried out without Federation at all. But in dealing with the matter now, I say that that portion of the jurisdiction, which is accidental only, is convenient, no doubt, but is in no way important compared with the duties cast upon the Judiciary as the interpreter of the Constitution itself. In the United States the only power given was to interpret the Constitution and the States Courts and Federal Courts are in every other respect entirely independent. Our duty, therefore, in carrying out the mandate of the Constitution to establish this Court, will be to create a tribunal which will be a proper, efficient, and worthy exponent of the Constitution itself, and which also will carry out the duties of a Court of Appeal. Before I deal with the section of the Constitution which I have mentioned, let me say a few words in reference to two arguments which are used against the establishment of the High Court; and I will deal with two of them only. The first of them is this : It is said - “ What you say may be all very well, but why not wait until some difficulty arises between the Commonwealth and a State, or between State and State. There is no such difficulty as yet. Why not wait until the case arises 1” One might .as well say - “ Why not wait for the organization of the military forces of the Commonwealth until we have an enemy at our gates V
– Or - “Do not insure your house until it takes fire.”
– As As the honorable senator says, it might as well be argued, “ Why not wait until the house catches fire before insuring ?” It is necessary that the Court should be there to be used when it is wanted. And the necessity for it has become apparent already, as I shall show. But whether that is so or not, the High Courtis one » of those institutions of government which ought to be ready for use when the occasion arises. There is this danger in delay. If we wait until some important question has been raised between State and Commonwealth, or between State arid State, which has to be settled by a Court established by the Commonwealth itself, how will it be possible for the Government to frame a Bill constituting that Court without being under the suspicion of seeking, in the shaping of the measure, a favorable consideration of the rights which are claimed by the Commonwealth ? Even if that difficulty be avoided, how will it be possible in the appointment of those who are to take positions upon the Bench of the Court to avoid the suspicion that the)’ are selected and appointed because of some special view which will tell to the advantage of the Commonwealth in the settlement of the question in dispute? There is nothing more important than that this Court should begin its work with the full confidence of the people of Australia ; and there is nothing which would be more fatal to its efficiency in time to come than any suspicion that it had been established for ‘political purposes, and that those who were appointed were there to carry out those political purposes. No matter how little truth there was in such a suspicion, if once it gained ground, it would go very far to destroy that public belief and confidence in the Court which would be amongst the strongest sanctions and supports of its decisions.
– Whatever selection the Government make, the Court will not be received with perfect unanimity throughout the Commonwealth.
– I a I am not speaking of that ; I am not dealing with the personal aspect of the question at all. You can never satisfy everybody. But I say that if we wait until a question of import.ance actually arise?, there will be, perhaps, a ground for suspicion that the views and opinions of those appointed to the Bench in that particular crisis have something to do with their selection for the office. If we are to have this Court at all for the purpose of carrying out these high judicial duties, it would be madness to wait until some occasion had arisen and .then for the whole machinery of Parliament to be put into operation to create the Court practically for the particular purpose. senator Dobson. - Is the Vice-President of ohe Executive Council supposing an instance in which the Federal jurisdiction con f erred upon the States Courts would not apply 1
– N - No, J am not. I am not dealing with a minor matter at all. There may be scores and scores of small disputes relating to the ‘ construction of the Constitution, in which these important and high questions of policy, which’ move the people of the States and the people of the Commonwealth, would not arise, But, on the other hand, how can any one look at the powers of the States and of the Commonwealth respectively, under our Constitution, and consider the rights which are given to the Commonwealth, without feeling that at any time some dispute may arise which it would be impossible for any State Court to deal with, and which would involve great issues which could not be settled satisfactorily or adequately in any way but by a Court which had behind it the whole power of the Commonwealth ?
– The question involved in the case of Kingston v. Gadd was not a minor matter.
– It It was not a minor matter ; it was a very important matter. But that was a case as to which, in the way in which the point was taken, there could be no doubts whatever as to the result. As I shall refer to the Privy Council at greater length by-and-by, T shall not say more now upon that case than that it afforded the first .instance for. many years past in which the Lord Chancellor had taken his seat upon the Privy Council. No doubt the importance of the case appealed to the British Government in such a way that they sent their Lord Chancellor to preside over that tribunal ; and I have no doubt that when the full text of the judgment arrives it will be found to contain some very important principles in regard to our power to legislate over those who are outside our borders. But that is an aspect of the matter which I will deal with in another way a little later on. The argument that we should wait until some occasion arises is one that cannot be listened to for a moment if we are to have an effective Court. There is another argument which is very often used. It is admitted that we must have some kind of Court, but it is asked - “ Why not have a Court constituted of the Judges of the different States t “ There was a suggestion to that effect in a petition presented by my honorable friend, Senator Playford, from South Australia. I think that if that proposal is examined it must be seen at once that it is impossible. In the first place, the Constitution itself provides that the Judges who are to constitute the High Court shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral, and shall hold office in such a way as to be responsible to the Commonwealth. In other words, it is contemplated by the Constitution itself that the Judges shall be appointed by the Commonwealth, that they shall have the whole power and force of the Commonwealth behind them, and that they shall be responsible to the Commonwealth. ‘ We often lose sight of the fact that the Judges of the States are responsible to the States, simply because that responsibility is to Parliament only. That is done for a very good purpose. It is done to give the Judges independence, so that they shall not be under the control of the Executive Government. But, all the same, their responsibility is to the States ; and we cannot imagine the whole judicial power of the Commonwealth being handed over to any body of men except on the terms that they should be responsible to the Commonwealth for the due exercise of it. The appointment of our High Court can take place only under the Constitution. If the Judges were taken from the different States Courts they would have to be appointed by the Governor-General and the Executive Council, and they could be removed only on address from both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. What position should we be in then 1 We should have first of all, to get the leave of the States for their Judges to act in our Court. . In the next place, their very remuneration would have to come from the States, and, as their first responsibility would be to the States, they would have to do the States work first, and the Commonwealth work would have to wait. In the next place, in dealing with any questions which come before them, their responsibility would be to the Government that appointed them, and to the Parliament which controlled them, and not to the Commonwealth. It is not to be supposed, therefore, that we can hand over these great powers which must be exercised by the High Court to a body of Judges who have only a limited kind of responsibility to the Commonwealth, whose whole duty is to the States which employ them, whose whole responsibility is to the States that pay them, and who are only in a sort of secondary way responsible to the Commonwealth and to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. If, as I said before, we were dealing only with an ordinary Court of Appeal, I could understand that there might be something to be said in favour of that view j but when we are dealing with a Court which is to have handed over to it the decision of these great questions between State and State, and between State and Commonwealth, how can it be said that we are establishing ari efficient Court, or a Court which could possibly decide these questions effectively, if we have a Court constituted as I have described? It seems to me that there is no way out of the difficulty. I can understand those who say - “ We are going to fly in the face of the Constitution and of the promises we made to the people, and to have no Court at all.” But I cannot understand the position of those who say - “ It is true that we must have a Court, but do not let us have it now ; wait a little while, until the occasion arises.” Nor can I understand the position of those who say - “We must have a Court, but let us hand over the duties to be performed by it to some of the Judges who now constitute the Benches of the different States.” In saying so much, I wish to express the highest possible respect and admiration for the States Judges in their own spheres of jurisdiction. It is a matter upon which the States of Australia have to congratulate themselves that, taking the Benches of the different States as a whole, there cannot be and there is not a breath of suspicion of want of intregrity against any of them - that the administration of justice has been conducted in such a way. that the integrity and ability of our judicial tribunals has never been called in question.
– The honorable and learned senator has no fear of State prejudices, so far as the States Judges are con,cerned ?
– I - It is impossible to eliminate State prejudice. . I do not say that any of the Judges would be guilty of any conscious bias in favour of the States they represent, and in whose employ they, are. But it is impossible, in dealing with important questions involving State rights, on the one hand and Commonwealth rights on the other, to avoid that kind of partiality or bias which must come to a man who is in. the service of a State, who is living in a. State, and who is interested especially in, that State, whether he be a Judge or any-, other official of that State. In other words, the whole of my argument may be summed: up in regard to these suggested tern’porary expedients in a very few words. Our Constitution and the’ Court to be created under it cannot be carried out: except by a body of Judges appointed by the Commonwealth, the whole of whose time belongs to the Commonwealth,, the whole of whose services are given to the. Common wealth, and whose responsibility isto the Commonwealth - Judges who, in the* execution of the important powers and: difficult duties pertaining to the judicial power of the Commonwealth, will have the; strength of the Commonwealth behind them. . It is only a Court of that kind which can- carry out the duties assigned to the High Court. under1 the Constitution which the people of Australia assented to. I now come to the description of the Court itself ; but, perhaps, it will be more convenient, before I’ deal with that, to say a word or two about the Privy Council. The Privy Council has been set up in argument by some honorable members of another place, and by many persons in the press, as being all that is necessary for the purposes of this Court. In other, words, it is argued that .the Privy Council itself will carry out all the functions which t we can assign to the High Court. I deny that altogether. In the first place, admitting to the fullest extent the ability and integrity of the Privy Council, I say that it is altogether an unsuitable body to interpret our Constitution. In the first place, what is its knowledge of our Constitution, and of the Constitutions of the States and all the conditions under which this Constitution works ? The Privy Council has to administer different codes of law. It has to administer the English law, which prevails in some British colonies. It has to administer the RomanDutch law, as it. prevails in Cape Colony. It .has to administer the law of several Indian States under different systems of Indian law. It has to administer Scotch’ law. It has to administer French law as applied in some other territories pertaining to the British Crown. In all these different cases, the Privy Council administers those laws by means of experts. It has’ to get up the law to understand it, and to do the best it can to apply it to the conditions of the country in which it has to be administered.
– Does not all that experience make the Privy Council a most satisfactory tribunal ?
– No No ; I should say it is a most unsatisfactory tribunal. I should say that if Australian constitutional law comes to be administered by the Privy Council, it will have to be by means of expert knowledge on the part of the Privy Council. Somebody upon the Privy Council will have to understand the relations between the Commonwealth and the States, and the circumstances under which our law has to be applied, just as they do in the case of Indian States, and in the case of Canada. The Privy Council may be a tribunal which does very well indeed in the absence of something better ; but in handing over to it the interpretation of a Constitution such as ours, and the decision of questions relating to the rights of the States and the rights of the Commonwealth, in the development of this country, we should be committing that power to a body which would be very likely in the future to commit grave errors, as it has already committed them in the past. Let me point to an illustration of what I mean. The Canadian Constitution has been handed over for a very long time for interpretation in cases coming before the Privy Council to Lord Watson. Lord
Watson is the very able Judge who has concerned himself particularly with the Constitution of Canada, and, practically, he is the Judge who delivers all the important judgments which arise out of the interpretation of that Constitution. So it is in regard to other branches of law ; and so it must be when you have a body like the Privy Council, which has to deal with all those branches of the law in which expert knowledge is absolutely necessary, and one or two of the Judges become experts in regard to a particular Constitution, and practically they have the solution of all these questions. But what is required for the proper solution of any legal question ? Not only a knowledge of the document which has tobe interpreted, whether it is an ordinary Act of Parliament or a Constitution Act, but a knowledge of the conditions to which it has to be applied. The Court must know the tendencies of the development of the States and of the Commonwealth, and the tendencies of the Constitution. What kind of a Constitution would that of the United States have become if its. interpretation had been handed over to the English Judges who flourished about the end of the eighteenth or the beginning of the last century ? Would their interpretation have been in furtherance of that national development which has made the United States what it is to-day, or would they have interpreted the Constitution simply as an ordinary legal document 1 A consideration of these matters will, I think, satisfy most persons that the Privy Council - from the mere fact of it being constituted as it is and having to derive its knowledge of local conditions simply by reading documents - is an unfit tribunal to decide the questions j which would have to be submitted to it. Id addition to that, how can the functions of this Court be practically and effectively discharged by the Privy Council 1 I shall take an illustration which cannot be looked upon as unusual or extravagant. Suppose that, in the distribution of revenue, a right of a State has been violated, and it becomes necessary, first, to get a decision on that question, and then to prevent the Treasurer of the Commonwealth from carrying out some act or to compel him to carry out some act. Probably, in regard to all these State relations, the only remedy will be to act directly on some officer of the Commonwealth Government oe a State Government. How can a tribunal situated. 13,000 miles away- possibly act with such rapidity as to deal effectively with questions of that kind when they arise % Why, the mere distance, the mere impossibility of bringing its- orders directly to bear upon these different affairs of the Commonwealth and of the States alone make it impossible for that tribunal to be effective in any way as the arbiter of this Constitution. The question of an Appeal Court is a different thing. If the uniform interpretation of the laws of the Commonwealth or the laws of the States were the only duty which had to be performed by the Court ; if we were prepared to risk a want of knowledge on the part of the Privy Council, and to submit to the delays, then it might carry out that duty. But in regard to the interpretation of the Constitution, and the enforcement of the rights of the States, how can we possibly use a tribunal which is 13,000 miles awa)’, and which acts under circumstances of difficulty in interpreting the actual condition of affairs 1 I do not propose to deal at further length with the Privy Council, although there are many other matters which L might speak of. I propose now to state the position in regard to the Bil], and I do not think it necessary to trouble honorable senators with much detail. It deals with a number of matters regarding the details of jurisdiction. I propose to deal in Committee with the application of laws to suits against the Commonwealth by States and by individuals, and other matters of that kind. What I think it necessary to put before honorable senators now is the central idea of the measure, and that is the conferring of jurisdiction on the High Court, and the limits of that jurisdiction, and the conferring of Federal jurisdiction on States Courts, and the limits of that jurisdiction. In order to show in what way the main object of the Constitution is effective - that is, that the interpretation of the laws of the Commonwealth shall, as far as possible, be in the hands of the Courts of the Commonwealth - let me remind honorable senators of the jurisdiction of the States Courts. On the establishment of the Constitution each Court of a State had jurisdiction within its limits, and, as far as other States were concerned, it was exactly iti the same position as if surrounded by foreign States. For all legal purposes the States are foreign to each other, and the limit of the jurisdiction of a State Court is really concluded by the. limits within which its process is effective. There are certain exceptions - which all Lawyers will recollect are provided for under the English Common Law Procedure Acts-under which actions may be brought and service made upon persons who are outside the jurisdiction. Speaking generally, the Courts of a State have only jurisdiction of persons who either live within the State, or who come into the State for some purpose and are served with a process of the State whilst there. For instance, a citizen of Victoria cannot sue a citizen of New South Wales in the Courts of Victoria unless under exceptional conditions, because its jurisdiction does not extend to a citizen of New South Wales. In the same way one State cannot sue another State in its State Court because the States are outside the jurisdiction of each other’s Courts. A State cannot sue the Commonwealth in a State Court except under the special provisions of a temporary Act which was passed last session. That condition of things would apply equally to Federal laws. By the Constitution, all Federal laws are binding on the States Courts and the people of the States; Therefore, all the laws which we passed last session are, within the limits of a State jurisdiction, to be administered by the Mate Courts. For instance, the Customs and Excise laws can be administered by the States Courts within the limits of their jurisdiction, but in no other way. Of course, it. will be seen at once that the effectiveness of our Federal laws, indeed the effectiveness of our union for commercial purposes, is very largely discounted if there is not one Court with a jurisdiction extending all over Australia, and it is to constitute a Court of that kind, in which actions can be brought and suits can be heard which cannot be dealt with in any of the States Courts, that the Bill is introduced. The Constitution confers certain jurisdiction on the High Court whenever it is established. Honorable senators will recollect that it speaks of two kinds of jurisdiction. The original jurisdiction is that which is exercised by a court of first instance. A case is heard before a Judge, a question of law arises, and it goes on appeal to a Court. The appellate jurisdiction is of two kinds under the Constitution. First, there is an appeal from a Federal Court, or a Court exercising
Federal jurisdiction ; and, secondly, the High Court can hear any kind of appeal, not involving Federal laws, from the Courts of the States. The jurisdiction given to the States Courts in the Commonwealth and the jurisdiction remaining in the States Courts are concurrent, and the appeal which is given to the High Court instead of to the Privy Council is entirely optional. Under these circumstances the Constitution gives original jurisdiction to the High Court -
In all matters - (i.) Arising under any treaty : (ii.) Affecting consuls or other representa tives of other countries : (iii. ) In which the Commonwealth or a person suing or being sued on behalf of the Commonwealth is a party: (iv.) Between States, or between residents of different States, or between a State and a resident of another State : (v.) In which a writ of mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth :
With regard to the first two matters it is possible that under the Constitution Act they might be heard in any State Court, but the next three important matters, dealing with the rights of States and the Commonwealth, can only be heard and tried in a Court whose jurisdiction extends over the whole Commonwealth - a Court created by the Constitution. Those are the only matters of original jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution. But in regard to other matters, there is a power given to the Parliament to confer original jurisdiction. Section 76 says -
The Parliament may make laws conferring original jurisdiction on the High Court in any matter - (i.) Arising under this Constitution, or involving its interpretation : (ii.) Arising under any laws made by the Parliament : (nr.) Of Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction : (iv.) Relating to the same subject-matter claimed under the laws of different States :
So that by section 75 of the Constitution, the High Court is already invested with original jurisdiction in regard to five matters, and in regard to the other four matters we have power to invest it with original jurisdiction if we think fit. The first question we have to consider is to what extent shall the powers contained in section 76 be used. In the Bill as it was originally introduced, the whole of these powers were conferred on the High Court. I am sorry that they were not retained.
– They were only knocked out to get rid of the five Judges.
– Tha That may or may not be so, but even as the Bill stands the Government are quite satisfied that there is still enough left of the original jurisdiction to cover the important matters, and if it is necessary to confer further jurisdiction on the Court as time goes on, it can always be done, because section 77 of the Constitution provides that -
With respect to any of the matters mentioned in the last two sections, the Parliament may make laws - (i.) Denning the jurisdiction of any Federal Court other than the High Court : (ii. ) Defining the extent to which the jurisdiction of any Federal Court shall be exclusive of that which belongs to or is vested in the courts of the States : (iii.) Investing any court of a State with Federal jurisdiction :
In the Bill that power of conferring original jurisdiction is exercised. First of all the original jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution stands, and the courts referred to are invested with that jurisdiction. Then clause 31 provides that -
In addition to the matters in which original jurisdiction is conferred on the High Court by the Constitution, the High Court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters which involve any question, howsoever arising, as to the limits inter se -
of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, and those of any State or States, or
of the constitutional powers of any two or more States.
The original power is given to deal with any question howsoever arising, in which the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth or of a State, or any two or more States are brought into, question. I think honorable senators will see that it is right that that should be an original power. It will be remembered that it is not exclusive, and that all these powers of which I have been speaking are to be exercised concurrently by the States Courts as far as they have jurisdiction, and by the Federal Courts. Clause 39 provides for making a portion of that jurisdiction exclusive - that is to say, it is to be the Commonwealth Courts only in which proceedings involving these matters can be brought. It reads as follows : -
The jurisdiction of the High Court shall be exclusive of the jurisdiction of the several Courts of the States in the following matters : -
Matters arising under any treaty;
I have some doubt as to whether it is wise to include that matter in that form. As a general rule it is a good thing that questions arising under any treaty, which of course affect the rights of other nations, should be dealt with by the highest tribunal, and that they should be put exclusively within its jurisdiction. But then there is a large class of cases that arise under the extradition laws which enable a person who has committed an offence to be arrested in another country. By international law there are treaties which are given effect to between different communities, and it is in relation to those treaties that this legislation on the extradition basis exists. The jurisdiction under extradition treaties has to be exercised at once. Very often a criminal is arrested, and something must be done at ouce in regard to putting the necessary facts before the Governor-General in order to get a warrant for his apprehension, and it might be very inconvenient indeed to wait until a Federal J udge could hear the case. He might not be in the immediate locality, and, therefore, it might take some time to bring the matter before him. It is still under consideration whether that portion of the clause ought to remain or not. It may be necessary and advisable to strike that out as an exclusive power. In regard to the next paragraph of clause 39 -
I think it will be evident that these cases ought to be, and must be cases in which exclusive jurisdiction is given to the Federal Court. To begin with, the States Courts have now no jurisdiction in these cases at all. There seems to be no reason why they should be given jurisdiction, nor is there any reason why cases concerning important considerations and very large issues, involving a question of State policy should be dealt with by the High Court. In the same way, suits by the Commonwealth or any person suing on behalf of the Commonwealth against a State, or any person suing on behalf of a State, should be in the exclusive control of the High Court.
– The States Courts are enjoying temporary jurisdiction at present in these cases.
– I - In suits against the Commonwealth they are, but I do not think it is desirable that that should continue. Of course, as an expedient that is very well, because there is no doubt that as Parliament is responsible for the delay in passing this measure, a State or an individual should not suffer on that account. A temporary expedient was therefore provided, to enable the States Courts to be used for this purpose. I think, however, it will be admitted that if we are to have a Commonwealth Court at all, it is very desirable that in that Court questions affecting the rights of the Commonwealth should be dealt with.
– What does it matter if there is an Appeal Court?
– It creates a lot of billets for useless people.
– I h I have taken no notice of Senator Zeal’s interjections so far-
– I do not. care whether the honorable and learned senator takes notice of them or not.
– B - Because they are harmless. So long as they are harmless I do not notice them ; but the honorable senator must not become offensive.
– I hope the honorable and learned senator will not become offensive.
– T - The jurisdiction is therefore made exclusive in these particulars, but in all other respects the jurisdiction of the High Court is dealt with by the next clause, and in this way, that in all matters of Federal jurisdiction which are not mentioned in clause 39, Federal jurisdiction is conferred upon the States Courts, but it is conferred subject to certain conditions, and those conditions are that whereever the States Courts exercise Federal jurisdiction by virtue of this clause, there shall be an appeal to the High Court, and to no other court. There are several other conditions mentioned, but they practically all amount to that.
– Would the honorable and learned member repeat that ?
– I s I say that in clause 40 all the rest of the jurisdiction of the High Court is conferred in a limited way upon the States Courts. It is, of course, in our power in this Bill under the Constitution to confer full jurisdiction upon the States Courts. It would be possible, of course, to give jurisdiction to a State Court which would extend all over Australia outside the State limits altogether, but it is npt proposed to do that. It would, we think, be very inadvisable to confer a jurisdiction of that kind on States Courts, for the reason that jurisdiction ought to be conferred in such a way that whilst the convenience of parties is consulted by giving them a tribunal to which they can have immediate access, there will always be reserved in these questions involving Federal jurisdiction an appeal to the High Court. Therefore, it is provided that this Federal jurisdiction shall be given subject to these conditions ; that it shall be limited by the limits of the States jurisdiction as at present existing in regard to amount, locality, and other matters, and also that every decision of a Supreme Court or any other Court of a State in connexion with which an appeal lay to the King in Council shall be final and conclusive, except that an appeal may be brought to the High Court. That is to say wherever, cases are brought into the States Courts vested with Federal jurisdiction, and the Courts exercise that jurisdiction, the decision shall be final except that there may be an appeal to the High Court. In other words, in these cases there will be no appeal to the Privy Council.
– Is that not contrary to the Constitution ?
– In In what way?
– Is it not taking away the right of the subject to appeal to the Privy Council?
– No No ; as I have said already, the Constitution and this Bill do not affect in any way whatever the powers which the Courts now have of appeal in connexion with all State questions. They only affect the powers of the Courts to deal with Federal jurisdiction, and in all matters of Federal jurisdiction they give this right which the courts had not before, but they give it only in a limited way.
-Col. Gould. - There is an appeal to the Federal Court.
– Exa Exactly. In other words, having the right either to give this jurisdiction to the States Courts or to withhold it from them, we give it to them sub modo - they get the jurisdiction subject to that limitation.
-Col. Gould. - That does not interfere in any way with the rights of private individuals to appeal to the Privy Council in private matters ?
– It It does not interfere with that in any way at all.
– Assuming that they desire to take advantage of the right.
– Yes Yes. There is another power sought to be given in clause 41 j this is what is called the power of removal of cases. This power has been exercised all along in the United States Courts, and it was amongst the powers conferred upon those courts at their establishment. The clause provides -
Any cause or part of a cause arising under the Constitution, involving its interpretation, -which is at any time pending in a court of a State on appeal, may, at any stage of the proceedings before final judgment, be removed into the High Court, under an order of the High Court, which may, for special cause shown, upon application by any party, or by or on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth or of a State, be made on such terms as the Court thinks fit.
That is to say, that where a case is pending in any court of a State on appeal - it may be on appeal from a magistrate, on appeal from a County Court, or on appeal from the original jurisdiction of a State Judge - in a matter arising under the Constitution, or involving an interpretation of the Constitution, there is power given to either party to apply to the Court to have the case removed to the High Court, and there is also power given to the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, or of a State, to make the application. The reason for that is this : A question may arise between parties which may be of very little moment to them,, but which, at the same time, may involve a most important constitutional question, either as affecting the rights of the Commonwealth or the rights of a State.
– And it may affect the pockets of litigants most seriously.
– Und Undoubtedly it is very important that, in these circumstances, there should be a power in either the State or in the Commonwealth, by its AttorneyGeneral, to step in and have such a question, brought before the High Court for decision. Where that action is taken the case is removed to the High Court upon such terms as the Court thinks fit. That is to say, if there is a question of costs to the party, referred to by Senator Best, no doubt if the Attorney-General steps in in such a case, the Court will take very good care that the Crown, whether of the Commonwealth or of the State, shall indemnify the parties or pay the costs, so that they shall not suffer through the case having to be decided in that way. The effect of all these provisions is that, in so far as any questions involving the interpretation of the Constitution are concerned, they will come under the original jurisdiction of the Court if they are brought in that Court, in which case there will be an appeal to the High Court. If they are not questions involving exclusive jurisdiction and can, therefore, be brought in the States Courts under the limited jurisdiction there will be an appeal to the High Court ; but if, in the first instance, they are brought in States Courts not exercising Federal jurisdiction, and it turns out that they involve questions of the interpretation of the Constitution, then, under this power of removal, they may be taken to the High Court for its decision. Practically, therefore, I think it may be said that in all cases likely to arise, it is insured by this Bill that questions involving the interpretation of the Constitution shall go before the High Court. Of course, in regard to all these matters, the questions will arise out of disputes between parties who may hot have the least concern as to how the Constitution is interpreted. Their only desire will be to have their rights upheld or defended as the case may be. It is left to the parties themselves, in all cases except those in which this power of removal is exercised, to appeal to the High Court if they think fit. There is no compulsion and no necessity for appeal. It may be that there will be cases in which1 decisions will be given by a High Court Judge or by a State Court Judge involving very important matters which will never get to the High Court on appeal, but there is a power provided to bring them to the High Court on appeal. And that is all that can be done, and all that is necessary. Therefore, this measure, as it deals with the questions which I have been submitting to the Senate, appears to me to carry out the first great function of this Court, that is to say, that it shall be effectively the interpreter of the Constitution. I may be asked whether it will be the sole interpreter of the Constitution. In certain instances it will. Under section 74 of the Constitution it will be the sole interpreter of the Constitution, except in all matters involving the rights of a State and of the Commonwealth. Under that section, wherever any question arises as to the limits of the constitutional- powers of the Commonwealth or of a State, there can be no appeal from a decision of the High Court unless by leave of the High Court itself. In all other matters, of course, there can be an appeal. Then the question arises as to how the Privy Council is likely i to exercise, the right of appeal as a matter of grace. The right of appeal as a matter of grace is controlled in Canada, where the same kind of appeal exists, in this way : It has been laid down in cases there, and the rule is always followed now, that, unless some very important question is involved, the Privy Council will not entertain an appeal if there is a competent tribunal on the spot to decide the question. As there will be a competent tribunal in the High Court to decide constitutional questions arising here, following the ordinary rule, the Privy Council will very seldom interfere, and will probably not do so at all except in matters of some exceptional importance. These are cases in which the Court is constituted with original jurisdiction to deal with, matters in which the interpretation of the Constitution is involved. There is another branch of jurisdiction conferred upon the Court, and that is its jurisdiction as a Court of Appeal from the different- States. I need not say very much about that, because the provisions’ are plain upon the face of them. Their general effect is that an appeal is allowed in every case where under the Privy Council rules there would be an appeal. As honorable senators are aware, there are certain Orders in Council, called King’s Orders in Council, which regulate appeals to the Privy Council. They lay down certain conditions as to appeals. First of all, there-‘ is a limit as to the amount. Then certain conditions must be complied with, bonds must be entered into, and there are other formalities of that kind. In all these cases the right of appeal will be preserved. An appeal to the High Court is allowed in all the cases which affect the status of any person under the laws relating to aliens, marriage and divorce, bankruptcy or insolvency. In addition, care has been taken to provide that in all cases where it has already been decided that there is a right of appeal, that right ma)’ be taken up, and the appeal proceeded with, to the High Court. In all cases where the appeal is to the High Court, the decision of the High
Court is final. That is to say, we cannot drag a litigant from a State Court to the High Court, and then to the Privy Council. If he has once selected his tribunal, and decides to go to the High Court, then the decision of the High Court is final, except in so far as the King, as a matter of grace, may allow an appeal to the Privy Council.
– Is there an appeal from a Full Court of a State to the High Court?
– Yes Yes.
– That seems most anomalous.
– It It is optional, but I do not see that it is anomalous, because there is the right of the parties to go there instead of going to the Privy Council.
– As the Bill is framed, it is decidedly anomalous. It is an appeal from three State Judges to three Commonwealth Judges.
– I d I do not see that there is any anomaly at all. If the parties wish to select the High Court as the appeal tribunal they may do so.
– One of the parties.
– O - Of course, the appealing party. He may select the High Court as the tribunal, or he may select the Privy Council. I do not think there is any necessity for me to refer at any greater length to the jurisdiction of the Court. There are two other matters to which I desire to refer. It is proposed that there shall be three Judges - a Chief Justice and two Judges. As the Bill was originally introduced, it provided for five Judges. It would have been more satisfactory if the original jurisdiction as conferred by the Bill, and the provision for five Judges, had been retained. But as the Bill comes before the Senate, we think that the Court may still be ah effective Court with three J udges if constituted as we propose. And if in time to come it is found necessary to increase the number of Judges, it will always be open to Parliament to take the necessary action. With regard to the remuneration of the Judges, I think the Senate, when we come to deal with that question, will treat it entirely as a matter of business. If we have made up our minds to establish a Court, then, to be effective, that Court should command the services of the best men available. I do not think there could be anything more disastrous to the efficiency of the Court, and to the estimation in which its judgments will be held, than that it should be manned by Judges who are inferior in capacity and experience to the men who practise before them., Wherever that happens, the administration, of justice must suffer. Therefore, when we are dealing with the question of remuneration, we shall require to have regard. to the incomes which the men whom we expect to take seats upon our Bench can command in the practise of their profession. The best standard, I take it, will be the remuneration actually paid in the States, whose business will compare in some way with the business to be done in the Commonwealth. We propose that there shall be a Chief Justice, with the salary of £3,500. a year, and two Judges at £3,000 a year each. The salary of the Chief Justice in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland is £3,500 a year. So far as New, South Wales and Queensland are concerned, I do not know that there has been any proposal to amend the law in this respect, but I believe that an amendment has been made in. Victoria, which will apply to Judges hereafter appointed.
– No reduction has been made.
– I - In regard to the salariesof the Puisne Judges, in New South. Wales the salary paid is £2,600, and in Victoria it is £3,000. But in all these cases there is a system of pensions, which makes the remuneration of £2,600 for the Puisne-. Judges, and £3,500 for the Chief Justice in New South Wales very much better, from a financial point of view, than the remuneration provided for in this Bill It does seem to me, without going further into the question of pensions and salaries, which can be dealt with better in Committee, that it would be very difficult to cut down that remuneration without incurring very great risk of having the seats on our Supreme Court Bench occupied by men who ought not. to be there. I think it unnecessary to speak of other details of the measure. I leave itnow in the hands of honorablesenators,feelingcertain that in their consideration of it they will be guided by one desire and one desire only. That is, in the first place to do our duty, . and what is our bare duty to the people of. Australia, who sent us here in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth to establish’ the Constitution upon a working footing. - It cannot be said to be on a working footing . without the High Court. The Court cannot be properly constituted except by making reasonable and fitting provision for clothing it with proper jurisdiction, and by securing efficient Judges to administer the laws of the Commonwealth. I hope that the whole matter will be decided, not from the point of view of temporary expediency, but from the point of view which animated all those who took part in the framing of the Constitution in the Convention, and which actuated the people of Australia when they assented to it - that our Constitution should be one which would be able to stand the strain and stress of actual working, and that there should be embodied under it an authority sufficiently high and sufficiently armed with powers to insure that the rights given under the Constitution to Commonwealth and States will be preserved. If we bear that in mind, we cannot fail to do our duty, which is to carry out the behests of the Constitution, and to establish a Court that will be worthy of the high duties which it has to perform, and will be so constituted that, in the estimation of the people of Australia, it will not only be an arbiter of the rights of the Commonwealth and of the rights of the States, but also a Court of Appeal to which the people of the Commonwealth will voluntarily have recourse for the settlement of their own private disputes.
– I have followed very closely the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Conncil and I must confess that I feel intensely disappointed with it. I do not know whether it is because the subject was a dry one, but it appeared to me to be one of the weakest efforts that have come from the honorable and learned senator. Indeed, considering the importance of the subject, it was, to my mind, one of the tamest deliverances I have heard in the Senate. The closing words of the speech in which the Vice-President of the Executive Council exhorted us to do our duty, and to remember the obligations which the Constitution has placed upon us, in order that its. provisions may be efficiently carried out, formed the best portion of it. I am one of those who do not see the necessity that at present exists for passing a measure of this description ; and although some strong language has been used, such as “ traitors to the Constitution,” yet I believe good reasons can be given why the Bill should not be passed in its present form.
For that reason I have risen early in the debate to state my views. In the first place, it is to be observed that the Bill is a very different measure from that which was introduced by the Government in another place. Indeed, as I watched its career in the other branch of the Legislature, I was not certain whether the Government intended to persevere with it at all. I thought from the statements of those who were responsible for it that, when the measure was shaped as it was in Committee in the House of Representatives, the Government would not introduce it into the Senate. Originally it was proposed to appoint five Judges, but now the number has been limited to three. After a great battle, the pension rights of the Judges proposed by the Government in the original Bill have been taken away, and the jurisdiction at first intended has been curtailed to a very large extent. The jurisdiction now conferred by the Bill is limited to an extent which the Vice-President of the Executive Council deplores. Indeed, when the measure emerged from Committee in another place, it was an altogether different instrument from that which the Government intended it to be. I wish to direct the attention of those who support the Bill to the clear and distinct statements of the Attorney-General. He said that five Judges were “absolutely necessary.” Those are his own words. Indeed, he argued that five was the smallest number with which it would be safe to launch the High Court. But the Government come down to the Senate, and submit a Bill which proposes that only three Judges shall be appointed, in the face of the statement of their own AttorneyGeneral that it was not wise nor judicious to have so few as three ! My own belief is that there is no need to hurry in regard to the constitution of the High Court.
– That is what the Age says.
– It is what I say, and what a good many people say also - not in one State only, but in every State of the Union. A feeling is abroad that there is a feverish anxiety to hurry on this measure and to push forward other Bills of a like character, Which, if they pass into law will involve a large increase of expenditure. In my humble opinion, the expenditure involved is not at present justifiable, and I believe that the people of Australia will have something to say about it at no very distant date. We have far more important work to do than this Bill brings before us. There is, for instance, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which the Government have promised. ‘There is no need for hurrying at this break-neck pace. We should “hasten slowly.” If once we pass this Bill, what will the result be? We shall be committed to an expensive judicial system. Our Constitution, not only in regard to the High Court, but in relation to many other things as well, is wide enough for the government of 80,000,000 or 100,000,000 people. One of the greatest objections raised against the measure is that it is altogether out of place, considering what a handful of people we are, and the expenditure that is necessary to maintain the rate of progress which the Government are showing. If the Bill is passed, three Judges will at once be appointed, no matter whether or not there is work for them to do. More than that, anyone can see - reading between the lines of Senator O’Connor’s speech, when he said that Parliament can at any time increase the number of the Judges - that it is probable that the Government will soon find that there are not enough Judges to do the work, and will bring down an amending Bill to increase the strength of the Court. No doubt opposition to. this Bill brings a certain amount of odium.
– Not in Victoria.
– This is not a question of Kyabram, or anything of the kind. This Bill is a non-party one. In the other House, as in the Senate, there was a strong division of parties in relation to it. That division was represented, on the motion for the second reading, by the votes of the members of the party to which I belong, namely, the labour party. Six members of our party strongly opposed the Bill, and strove to prevent its passage. The same will be the case in the Senate. There will undoubtedly be those who consider that they have a mandate under the Constitution to constitute the High Court ; and, on the other hand, there will be those who think that there is no necessity for it, and that the Bill should not pass. I have often thought that, both in regard to this measure and also with respect to other proposals, we are unnecessarily duplicating our Commonwealth service. The fact is often forgotten that’ the taxpayers of the States and of the
Commonwealth are the same people. Considering that the people of Australia have been passing through very bad times, and are only just recovering, our first consideration should be the interests of the taxpayers. We should not unnecessarily burden them with expenditure upon a Judiciary, or upon other measures which are to be brought forward for our consideration. Our object should be rather to lighten the burden of taxation. If I thought that this Bill was absolutely necessary, or was called for by the people of Australia - nay, if the Constitution itself imposed upon the Legislature the appointment of a High Court at an early stage, I would at once agree to pass the Bill. I should not consider the question of expense for a moment, even if it amounted to twenty times what is now proposed. But from my reading of the Bill and of the Constitution, I am not convinced that we are called upon to take this step.
– What does the Constitution say ?
– I will deal directly with the provisions of section 74 and the following sections of the Constitution, and try to show from my reading of that document that it is not at this juncture imperative upon us to take this step. Various reasons have been assigned for the establishment of the High Court. It is said that the Bill is a “ guarantee for the fulfilment of the many business compacts that are. contained in the Constitution.” Then we are told, by some of the representatives of the smaller States, that the High Court would safeguard the interests of those States - that the more populous States are opposing it, and that the High Court, by acting as a buffer between them and the smaller States, will safeguard the interests of the latter. No time for the establishment of the High Court is mentioned in the Constitution. No conditions have been imposed in regard to the establishment of a Judiciary at an early stage of our national life. It is claimed for the Bill that it is the keystone of the arch of the Constitution, and that unless it is carried in its present form, the. result will be that the symmetry of the Constitution will be destroyed. I was asked a fewminutes ago to quote from the Constitution the sections in support of the view which I take-. It has been said over and over again that for practical purposes the sections of the Constitution may be divided into two classes- those which are mandatory and those which are optional. On the one hand we are compelled by the Constitution to take action at once in certain directions, and, on the other hand, it is left to us to take action either at once or at a later stage. Amongst the mandatory legislation which has been passed by the Parliament, is that of the Customs Tariff, in regard to which the framers of the Constitution left no room for doubt. It was distinctly provided by the Constitution that, within two years of the creation of the Commonwealth, there should be a uniform Tariff, and, further, it was mandatory on Parliament to meet for the despatch of business within six months of the inauguration of the Commonwealth. W e all know that these mandatory sections were acted upon in due course; and I want to draw a distinction between legislation of that character and the legislation embodied in the Bill before us. I maintain that the Constitution is not mandatory as to the creation of the proposed expensive Judiciary. We are told in the Constitution that the legislative power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Federal Parliament; and if we turn to sections 61 and 62 we find similar language employed in regard to the Executive Government. In section 61 it is provided that -
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen, and is exercisable by the Governor-General, as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth.
Section 62 - and this bears on my argument as to the mandatory sections of the Constitution - provides that there shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the GovernorGeneral; and, therefore, it was necessary to have a Legislature as well as an Executive. Section 71, which deals with the Judicature provides -
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a .Federal Supreme Court to be caller] the High Court of Australia, and in such other Federal Courts as the Parliament creates. I want particularly to call the attention of honorable senators to this section, in which I hold there is nothing to compel us to create a High Court at once.
– A period of two and a half years has elapsed since the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; and the fact that no special necessity for an expensive Judiciary has arisen in that time may be used as an argument for postponing its creation for two and a half years, for five years, or, even ten years longer: The very fact that there has been no work for a High Court is an argument why we should not proceed with this legislation at present. My reading of the section is that the judicial power of the Commonwealth is to be vested in a High Court when it is necessary or expedient. But, if we have any doubt in regard to the matter, we have only to -.turn to section 73, which to my mind makes it perfectly clear that not only is the Constitution not mandatory in regard to the creation of a High Court, but that there may be courts established other than that now proposed. In the first place, section 71 speaks of “such other Federal Courts as the Parliament creates.”
– Supplementary courts are meant.
– That may be so ; but at the same time it is a fair inference, or at any rate there is ground for belief that another judicial system may be created created in the interim.
– T - The courts meant are County Courts, District Courts, and inferior courts of any kind.
– Or the Supreme Courts of the States.
-I know perfectly well that a portion of the section refers to inferior courts, but, at the same time, the Supreme Courts of the States are mentioned, and the fact that this is recognised by the Government proves that the ‘ position I have taken up is the correct one. Last session an Act was passed giving the States Courts certain jurisdiction - in fact, all the jurisdiction necessary at the present time.
– That is, if the Federal Executive approve of a case being brought before those courts.
– The Government may also approve of the court which I am trying to sketch out - a court with extensive powers, but not so extensive as these proposed in the Bill. If the Judiciary is the keystone of the Constitution, and it is mandatory to pass this legislation, I want to know how it is that no steps have been taken during the past two years and a-half. If a High Court is absolutely necessary, as the supporters of this Bill contend, how is it that for the period I have mentioned the Constitution has been left in its present condition without interpretation by a tribunal such as is now proposed? It seems to me that if this Bill be necessary, the Government have failed in their duty in not bringing it sooner before Parliament. The Government knew that the early legislation of the Commonwealth would be contentious, and that difficulties would arise; and in the Claims Against the Commonwealth Act, which was passed last session, they might have extended the jurisdiction of the present courts, and allowed the Judiciary Bill to stand over for some time.
-When would the honorable senator be prepared to establish a High Court ?
– When it is necessary. Mention was made this afternoon of the Privy Council appeal in the case, Kingston v. Gadd.
– The South Australian Government may have a Privy Council case against the Victorian Government about the Murray waters. How would the honorable senator like that?
– It may be that such a case will arise, and I have heard of other cases of a similar description. I know that as between Victoria and South Australia there has for the last 40 years been a standing dispute with regard to a strip of territory on the border, and there has been talk in both States of making an appeal to the Privy Council. But no appeal has yet been made; and it appears to me that many of the fears suggested on the present occasion are only nightmares, the object of which is to get the Bill passed. It. has been said that, after all, the rivers’ question referred to is not a law question, but one which, if properly managed, with concessions on the part of the States interested, could be settled within the Federal Parliament.
– But supposing the States cannot agree?
– Then an appeal to law could be made under the Act which we passed last session, providing the Federal jurisdiction were extended to the Supreme Courts of the States ; and then, if necessary, there might be an appeal to the Privy Council. I was sorry to hear Senator O’Connor say that in the past the Privy Council has committed grave errors, and may do so in the future. But, even admitting that the Privy Council has committed grave errors, would not a Court established under this Bill also be liable to mistake? Is there any difference in human nature between the Judges who will constitute the High Court of Australia and the Judges of the Privy Council? Will the High Court J udges have any superior intelligence or knowledge as compared with the J udges of the Privy Council?
– They will have local knowledge.
– Will the Judges of the High Court possess legal knowledge higher than that possessed by those who sit in the Privy Council ? The J udges of the High Court might have a slight advantage in regard to local knowledge ; but I maintain that in cases likely to give rise to appeals to the Privy Council the Judges of that tribunal could, after a short study of our Constitution and Acts, give decisions as good as, if not superior to, those likely to be obtained from any Court constituted in Australia. I object to this Bill, because it commits us to an expensive legal system, and we have as yet had no estimate of what the actual cost will be. In regard to the original Bill, it was estimated that the cost would be £30,000 per annum, but on the other hand it was said that it might go as high as £90,000. At a later stage when the Bill was amended, it was contended that the cost would be something under £20,000 per annum, but there has been no reliable estimate on this score, and it is incumbent on the Government, if the Bill gets into Committee, to supply all possible information. We are left in no doubt, however, as to the cost of the judicial system throughout the Commonwealth. Some time ago Senator Zeal distributed some figures on this point.
– Very unreliable figures.
– The figures were taken from parliamentary papers, and I do not know that there can be any mora reliable authority. At any rate, the figures give us an idea of the amount spent on the administration of justice in the various States. I shall not weary honorable senators by referring at length to the figures, but simply state that the total cost in all the States is no less than £571,306.
– Does not that include the cost of the police?
– No, it does not.
– But it includes courts of petty sessions.
– The figures I have quoted show the necessity for giving some attention to the question of cost before we start another judicial system in the Commonwealth. I am not prepared to admit that the return I have quoted is not true ; but, assuming that it may be in error to the extent of £3,000 or £4,000, the total cost of the administration of justice is still enormous as compared with population.
– The States ought to economize in this direction.
– To a very large extent, I agree with Senator Playford ; and the figures show us that there are lessons which we ought not to neglect. For a population of 4,000,000, the cost of the administration of justice in Australia is excessive and out of all proportion.
– That is only in Victoria and New South Wales.
– Not at all ; the honorable senator knows that, speaking generally, the same remark may be made in regard to every State.
– Very little of the expenditure goes to the Judges, most of it being incurred in the administration of the Department.
– But honorable members know that under the Bill before us only £9,500 will go to the Judges of the High Court. It is not merely the Judges’ salaries, but the whole paraphernalia of the legal system which causes the cost. It appears to me, as Senator Playford well pointed out, that the States ought to give some consideration to this question and set their own houses in order. I admit that in the future, in order to develop not only the Constitution, but also the Commonwealth, it will be necessary to establish a High Court; and much of the State expenditure in respect to justice and other things must be cut down or we shall have to impose such an amount of taxation upon- the States that the people will not be able to bear the burden.
-Col. Gould. - At what does the honorable senator estimate the additional cost beyond the £9,500?
– I desire the supporters of the Bill to tell me. Have I not asked in vain for the information ?
– The Treasurer said yesterday -that it would cost £4,500 for about seven months.
– Does the honorable and learned senator think that we are so simple as to accept that statement ? It is too ridiculous to suggest that we are tobe caught in that way. This is only thecommencement of the expenditure, and. once the system is started we shall be committed to any expense which it may entail.. I know that the estimate which was presented! to another place yesterday was a very moderate one, but that is not the question in issue. I should like any supporter of theBill to give me some information. I cannot find any reliable information.
– T - The Attorney-General has estimated the cost, with three Judges, atless than £20,000.
– I do not intend to touch upon the purely legal aspect of the Bill, which I shall leave the lawyers todeal with. It is a measure in which no doubt lawyers will revel, devotingtheir best energies to its advocacy. As regards the right of appeal to the Privy Council, I have studied the question from the stand-point of the Constitution. I have tried to find out exactly where we are, and although we have been told that in certain things there is a limit to the jurisdiction of the High Court, that there is an optional appeal under the Bill in cases involving constitutional questions between State and State, that if the High Court certifies that it is not satisfied with the judgment an appeal can be made to the Privy ‘ Council, the same thing also exists in other mattersas I read “the Bill and compare its provisions with the’ Constitution. Notwithstanding all that may be enacted in the Bill there is still an appeal to the Privy Council. This question was fought very keenly by all the delegates- to the Convention, not only in Adelaide, but also in Melbourne. A large section of the delegates desired a purely Australian Court to deal with all matters arising within Australia. That proposal was not agreed to. Before the Constitution Bill was passed by the House of Commons the clauses dealing with the right of appeal were very different from what its original framers intended they should be. It seems to me that under present conditions that is an argument why a larger jurisdiction should be given to the Supreme Courts of the States to deal with all questions which may arise.
– There is an appeal of as right on a question of interpretation.
– No. We ought to give the Supreme Courts of the States a larger share of jurisdiction than we did in the Act of last session. We ought to constitute an appellate court of States Judges. This proposal is by no means a ‘new one. It has claimed a fair share of attention in another place. Some foremost advocates of Federation foreshadowed a court of this description some years ago. In 1897 Sir Samuel Griffith proposed that such a court should be formed to deal with these questions. It may be said that a similar proposal was defeated in the Convention, but, in the altered -circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is a question which might well be reconsidered. Certain objections have been made to the establishment of a temporary court. We are told that it could not be trusted . with the decision of a case arising between two States, or of a case arising between a State and the Commonwealth. If it is looked into closely it will be seen that the objection will not hold water ,for a moment. It may be argued that, because a Judge lives in a State. and a question arises between that State and the Commonwealth, he will be so unconsciously biased that he will not be able to do justice. That argument may be advanced in regard to cases which come under the purview of the States Courts every day. Judges are only human beings. They entertain strong opinions in regard to certain questions which may be brought before them. Will any honorable senator say that because privately a Judge may hold strong convictions, or even opinions, with regard to certain questions, it will sway him in the administration of justice ?
– A Judge will not sit in a suit by a bank in which he is a shareholder.
– I am not referring to those cases, but to questions which a Judge may have discussed before he was appointed to the Bench. The majority of our Judges have played their part in the political arena as Attorneys-General, and, of course, as strong party men. Does anyone mean to tell me that because a lawyer has played his part in the arena of politics he is unfitted to deal out substantial justice from the Bench ? ‘
– They would be the very last to admit it.
– I think not. A Judge who was translated to the Bench from the political arena would be as willing to do substantial justice as a man who was taken from the Bar. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is something in that view ; shall we get a better Bench of Judges for the Commonwealth t The probability is that the Judges will be taken from the political arena. If honorable senators will look at the constitution of the two Houses they can form a pretty shrewd guess as to the men who will be chosen. Suppose that a question involving the interpretation of the Constitution, or a dispute between two States arises, and is brought before the High Court, does any one mean to tell me that the men who took part in framing the laws during the first Parliament would be biased or led aside from the path of judicial duty ? Those who urge that view as against the States Courts have to answer the point I am trying to present - that if it is true in one case it will be equally true in the other, because the Judges of the High Court will have their predilections in regard to many questions on which they may have to pass judgment.
– They will not have to serve two masters - the State on the one hand and the Commonwealth on the other.
– No. It has been said that there is a need for the creation of the High Court in order that the small States shall be safeguarded in matters which interest them. It appears to me that there is a desire in the minds of those who use that argument to place - wittingly or unwittingly - the Judiciary above the Constitution. We were told that it was the freest Constitution which had ever been given to any people with selfgoverning powers. We were told that it was a monument of legislative wisdom. We were told that it was eulogised all over the world by those who knew anything about documents of this description. It appears to me, however, that if we are not extremely careful, in building up this Judiciary, we shall make it even greater than the Constitution, and from the expressions I have heard at times, it would seem that instead of our rights being preserved to the people under the Constitution, it is sought to preserve those rights by means of the Judiciary about to be established. I have no objection to the establishment of a court to deal with obscure provisions in the Constitution. That is only right and reasonable. I believe that in the near future a High Court will be necessary. But, for the reasons I have given, I do not think it. is necessary to go to the enormous expense here proposed. If there is anything doubtful or obscure in the Constitution, I say let the judicial power interpret it; but when the judicial power has interpreted it, it should stop there. If we love liberty and right, let us reserve to the people themselves the right to amend the Constitution if it is found to be . faulty. Let not that power rest with the Judiciary, but let the final word on the subject remain with the people themselves. It has been said that there may be injustice done to the smaller States. I consider that there will be no reason for the smaller States to fear that they will be unjustly deprived of anything which is their due under the Constitution. Surely none’ of us is willing to do an injustice to any State in the Federation. We are all Australians, striving to do our best, and to work out our own destinies under the Constitution. The smaller States, therefore, need not fear that the larger States will act unjustly towards them. Rather than speak in this fashion, I prefer to use the language of the opening sentences of the American Constitution, which, to my mind, strike the right keynote in connexion with this matter -
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - that to secure these rights Governments are constituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that where any form of Government is destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, hying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
– How does that conform to the modern legislation of the United States?
– How does it apply to the treatment of the black people ?
– I am not discussing that. I am only saying that the rights of the people are and ought to be preserved under the Constitution, and I am denying the right of the Judiciary, no matter how wise or how good, to in any way supersede the
Constitution, or to possess greater rights than it should possess under the Constitution.
– N - Nobody claims that.
– Therefore I am pleading for reasonable delay. As. I have said, this measure, is not necessary. It entails enormous expense upon the taxpayers. We have at the present moment in each of the States institutions capable of doing what we desire shall be done under this Bill. In view of this fact, and in view of other reasons which might be advanced, and which, no doubt, will be advanced before this debate closes, I am prepared to vote against the second reading of this Bill, because I think it is unnecessary at the present stage.
– I do not propose to occupy the time of the Senate for more than a few moments, because. I do not think it necessary to discuss the question of the jurisdiction of the High Court. The Constitution distinctly lays down that such a Court shall be created. The Court now proposed is an integral portion of the Constitution. While we have a fairly expensive Parliament to make laws, I think it is our duty, not only to comply with the conditions of the Constitution, but for the protection of the people of the Commonwealth, and the due administration of the laws which the Parliament makes, to see that there shall be a competent court of jurisdiction to interpret those laws.
SenatorFraser. - We have already partly complied with that provision by creating a court.
– I do not know what court the honorable senator refers to.
SenatorFraser. - A very good court.
– We have made use of the Supreme Courts of the different States from time to time as a mere matter of passing convenience, and without any idea that such an arrangement would involve permanency.
– We do not require a permanent court.
– I would point out to my enthusiastic fellow senator that the jurisdiction to which he makes reference is local in its character. I think I am right when I say that the decisions of the Supreme Court of one State in Federal matters are in no wise binding upon the Supreme Court of any other State. The decision, for instance, of the Supreme Court of Victoria in a Customs matter is not binding upon the Supreme Court of New South Wales,and the Supreme Court of Victoria has no power or jurisdiction outside the boundaries of that State. Therefore, while, we are making use in this temporary way of the Supreme Courts of the different States, we are in no wise securing uniformity in the administration or interpretation of our laws. It is a very serious thing that, when a decision is given in connexion with a Commonwealth matter in one of the States, we have no surety that the same law will prevail in any other part of the Commonwealth. That is a condition of affairs so absolutely impossible of continuance, that I, for one, do not conceive that I should be doing my duty as a representative of the State that sends me here if I were to delay unduly, so far as my voice and vote may go, putting a limit’ to acondition of affairs that I suppose exists in no other country in the whole world. I cannot conceive that it is possible that there is any country on the face of the earth, where States have joined together, in which there may be no less than six interpretations of a law which has been passed by the Government-in-chief. Surely the framers of the Constitution, when they drafted section 71, never contemplated such a.condition of affairs as exists to-day, apparently with the approval of some honorable senators? Section 71 of the Constitution says -
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Supreme Court to be called the High Court of Australia.
That it seems to me imposes a direct obligation upon the Federal Parliament to fiulfil that condition, and to give the people, the States, and even the Parliament of the Commonwealth, the advantage of an authoritative interpretation of the laws which the Parliament makes. We have frequently discussed at great length questions which we knew at the time we were powerless to settle, and questions which would never have been discussed to the same extent had there been a High Court in existence. In view of an appeal to a High Court, it would have been indecent for Parliament to have discussed some questions in the manner in which we have discussed them, and in which we were compelled to discuss, them, iri the absence of a court with an authoritative power to interpret the Constitution. I need only refer honorable senators to the discussion which raged round the question of the interference with the Tattersalls sweeps business in Tasmania. That was, and is still, a matter which can be much more properly discussed by a High Court or a Supreme Court of the Commonwealth than by the Federal Parliament. We discussed it day in and day out, and night in and night out, and yet were unable to give any authoritative decision. I compliment Senator Barrett upon a speech, which, from his stand-point, was forcible, and was certainly most direct and perfectly clear, but I do not agree with the honorable senator’s proposition that, because some of the States are extravagant in their expenditure, the Commonwealth should be penurious to the extent of failing to carry out the obligations of the Constitution. That is a proposition which I must distinctly differ from. If the Supreme Government of the Commonwealth - if I may use the phrase - is to wait to bring about the reform, and to pass the legislation which it was instituted to achieve, until the States have mended their ways in some of the directions indicated by Senator
– It will wait a long time.
– Yes ; it will be a long, time before we are able to achieve the very purpose of our existence. Furthermore, I think I should be absolutely guilty of dereliction of the high duty which rests upon every member of the Federal Parliament if I were to delay its discharge until it pleased the States Parliaments to come to a better frame of mind.
– There is a difference between delay and rushing.
– When we are within, such measurable distance of the termination of the present Parliament - and reference has been made from time to time in another place to this Parliament coming to the end of its term in the course of four or five months - it is clear that, if some of my honorable friends had their way, the first Federal Parliament would have lived its life before it discharged one of the fundamental duties cast upon it by the Constitution. I cannot see that there is any rush about it. My complaint would be that there has been too much delay, and that hardships have been placed upon citizens of the Commonwealth in consequence’ of their inability to initiate suits in the High Court. What will be the object of further delaying the matter? Is it to afford an opportunity to enthusiastic advocates of penuriousness at the next election to pledge candidates for Parliament to vote against this proposal, so that nothing will be done in the next Parliament? I will undertake to say that those unhappy individuals who are suffering from an attack of the Kyambramite maggot, will, at the next election, be most urgent and insistent that candidates shall pledge themselves to vote against the establishment of the High Court. I am abundantly satisfied from what I have heard, and have read in the leading newspapers of Victoria, that a dead set will be made at the hustings against it, just as we are told almost daily that similar action will be taken to oppose acting upon another obligation of the Constitution, namely, that regarding the establishment of the Federal capital. I cannot take up a Victorian newspaper without reading that suggestion in the leading article. It is only a phase of the same craze, not for economy, but for delay. I say, - “ Not for economy “ for this reason. No man can say that he is economical when he keeps in his pocket, or in his banking account, the money that is necessary to insure his property against fire. That is the kind of economics that some honorable senators seem desirous of urging upon the Senate. Most unquestionably, if this were a proposal to expend a considerable sum of money upon something novel and unnecessary, I should not say a word in its behalf. But when I find it embodied in the Constitution, and forming a very important portion of the Constitution - almost as much space is occupied in setting out the duties and obligations of the High Court as is occupied in setting out the duties and obligations of the Federal Parliament itself - it seems to me that it is quite beside the question to suggest either a lack of necessity or an instance of haste in the proposal now submitted. There is another reason which certainly does not induce me to be unwisely economical. The people of Australia and of the States knew perfectly well when they voted for Federation” that they were voting for this Constitution, embodying the proposal now brought before us in a very limited form. If the people voted blindfold I am not going to pity them if now they have to pay something for the extravagance which then they were willing to incur.
– The people could not excise part of the Commonwealth Bill, but had to vote for the whole of it.
.- They voted for the Bill, of which this provision is a part. My honorable friend’s interjection is just about as valuable as would be the objection of a bridegroom to a young lady whom he had espoused because, after he had married her, he was not satisfied with something in regard to her cookery. So far as I know, the enthusiasts who supported the Commonwealth Bill were in the condition of the man who said “ hang the expense.” One of the most prominent advocates of federation in New South Wales was a gentleman who ridiculed the idea of expense by inventing the phrase that Federation was not to cost the people more than the price of registering a dog. The figures before us show that the cost of federation has been even less than that. It is materially less than 2s. per head of the population. I am not quite certain whether that figure involves the principal cost of the High Court. Possibly not ; but if the £20,000 were added it would not raise the proportion more than a fraction of a half penny per head. So far as I know, certainly New South Wales is entirely in favour of the establishment of the High Court. Seeing that it is necessary for the protection of the rights of the people as individuals and the rights of the States as States, I am fulfilling my duty as far as I am able to understand the plain statement of the press, and the plain conversation of the people of New SouthWales, in giving my support to the Bill, and in dealing with it rather from the side of financial and constitutional obligation than by discussing details which can best be considered in Committee. There is only one other point which I feel it necessary to make, and that is with reference to those who advocate the establishment of a half-and-half sort of Court - a kind of judicial shandygaff establishment, in which we are to have a Judge adjudicating as a State Judge one day and as a Commonwealth Judge the next. I do not believe that such an idea is at all in accordance with the intentions of those who in the States Parliaments have declared that a man shall not be at the same time a member of a State Legislature and of the Federal Parliament.
– Such a Judge would have to wear a Federal wig one day and a State wig the next !
– I dare say that would be a necessity of the position. I believe that the Parliaments of all the States have decided by legislative enactment that a member of a State Parliament shall not also sit in the Federal Parliament, showing that it was the desire of the representatives of the people in the States that duties affecting State legislation and Commonwealth legislation should be kept apart. If that principle holds good in the making of laws and the administration of government, surely it holds equally good, and with equal strength and pertinency, in the case of those who are charged with the interpretation of the law. I cannot conceive that it would be a desirable state of things to have a Judge hopping about from one Court to another, being a Victorian Judge to-day and a Commonwealth Judge next week. That is a condition of affairs that I do not think exists in any part of the world. ‘ It does not exist in America nor in Canada ; and why should we, in the fervour of what some people believe to be economy, attempt to establish a condition of affairs which the people of no other portion of the world have thought it desirable to attempt. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, and believe that in doing so I am discharging the responsible duty which I hold at the hands of the people of my State.
– - I am amongst those who intend to support this Bill, and I think it only fair to myself that I should briefly give my reasons for so doing. Charges of needless extravagance are being hurled about concerning members of the Federal Parliament, because we are supporting Bills of this description. To a certain degree those charges have been confirmed in the speech which we have heard from Senator Barrett to-day. Our system of government under the Constitution is not complete without a High Court. After listening to the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, wherein he answered the objections to the proposal that the Judges of the States Courts should constitute the High Court, I cannot help coming to the conclusion that those objections are sound and valid. In common with many other representatives of the smaller States, I believe that the High Court will be a safeguard of the interests of the smaller States.
– Their rights are safeguarded under the Constitution.
– A - And much depends on the interpretation of the Constitution. Senator Barrett must know that the representation of the States forming the Commonwealth Parliament is numerically unequal., While the representation is equal in the Senate, it is unequal in the other branch of the Legislature. It is quite easy to conceive of a case wherein the rights of one State may be involved as against another State - where the rights of a State having 23 or 26 members of the House of Representatives may be complicated with the -rights of a State, like my own, having only five members in another place. It is in the interests of the States, which are numerically weak, that there should be such a body as the Federal High Court, to which to appeal as a final tribunal. We know, from the experience of other federations, that the interpretation of the Constitution will greatly depend on this Court; and, therefore, the attitude of Senator O’Connor is perfectly sound and valid. It is quite easy for us, whether lawyers or laymen, to understand that it would not be wise for States Courts Judges to form this Federal High Court. It is within the memory of honorable senators that shortly after the inauguration of the Commonwealth, we had some heated argument as to the right of the Federal Parliament to interfere with certain legislation in Tasmania. It was held by senators from Tasmania that the Federal Parliament, by stopping letters addressed to a certain person in Tasmania, was interfering further than the Constitution warranted with the legislation of that State. I am not” here to say whether that view was right or wrong, but the State of Tasmania, in that instance, felt keenly that there was no appellate tribunal such as is proposed under this Bill, so that it might be decided whether the interpretation of the Constitution adopted by Parliament was right.
– That is an unfortunate argument.
– I d I do not see that it is an unfortunate argument. Had there been a Federal High Court, Tasmania would have had the right to appeal for an interpretation of the Constitution ; and, if the decision of- the Federal Parliament had been upheld by such a tribunal, I am satisfied there would not have been any further outcry about State rights. .
– There was a gamble at large.
– I - I am not dealing with that point. I am not saying whether there was a gamble at large, a church gamble, a racing gamble, or a gamble of any kind. We are not talking of the merits of the case, but of the principles underlying the Constitution ; and I am sure Senator Zeal, if he considers a little, will see that I am right. At all events, it was felt by representatives from Tasmania that the Federal Government were trampling to a certain extent on State rights. Another case has arisen lately, and has not yet been settled, in which the rights of certain Victorian and Tasmanian fishermen are involved. Those who take an interest in the matter will remember that some of the leading Victorian newspapers have been howling about the rights of the Victorian fishermen being trampled .upon by the Tasmanian Government. The control of the fisheries is a matter which must sooner or later be handed over to the Federal Parliament ; but this case has arisen, and it involves a question of State against State. Surely it would be better to have a tribunal independently constituted - free from the least possible suspicion of being influenced by State prejudice - to decide any appeal which may arise from a case of the sort. It is quite easy for us to imagine that if the Victorian fishermen, for instance, -are interfered with further than they think is right they will institute court proceedings ; and if they are not satisfied with the decision in the Tasmanian Court they will have , to appeal to the Privy Council.
– Could they not just as well appeal to the Chief Justices of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia respectively, none of which States are interested 1
– B - But how could those Chief Justices be called together ?
– F - For a certain time I was of opinion that such appeals might be left to a Court composed of Justices of the various States ; but after thinking the matter out very carefully I have come to the conclusion that it would be very difficult indeed for a Court to be satisfactory if it were partly under the control of the States and partly under the .control of the Commonwealth. This fisheries case is only a small matter, but it may develop into a large question as between one State and another; and I refer to it for the reason that under such circumstances it would be much better to have a tribunal such as is proposed under the Bill, than that the only Court of Appeal should be the Privy Council. I ask whether it is possible that the Privy Council, without the slightest knowledge of local circumstances and conditions
– The principles of law are the same in England as here.
– T - The Privy Council may have a very indefinite knowledge of the actual geography of the country the affairs of which they are called on to deal with, and certainly a very indefinite knowledge of the particular local conditions which gave rise to the case. Would it not be far better to have a court constituted of men who have lived for the greater part of their lives in Australia, and who are cognisant of all the circumstances and conditions ?
– Take a Judge from each State.
– I - I have already expressed my objections to that course. The great objection raised against the Bill, particularly by the press of Victoria, is that urged on the ground of expense. I am reminded of a sentence which fell from the lips ‘ of the Attorney-General in another place, when introducing the Judiciary Bill last session - a sentence which was very suggestive, and which I have not forgotten. The Attorney-General then said - “You will grant £750,000 for war, and refuse £20,000 or £30,000 for justice.” We cannot forget the fact that a large number of people, who are howling and crying most loudly about the unjustifiable expense which they say will be incurred in establishing a High Court, are to be found amongst those who twelve months ago howled just as loudly against the proposal in this Parliament to keep the expenditure of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment within reasonable limits’. The people who made such an outcry on the latter occasion, and said “ Hang the expense,” cannot now consistently refuse to spend a few thousand pounds in the interests of justice for the people of the Commonwealth.
– That will not apply to honorable, senators when the division is taken.
– I - I am not speaking of honorable senators, and, perhaps, I should have made it clear that I’ referred to people outside, who are writing letters to the press, and seem to be pulling the strings in every possible way to prevent the establishment of a Federal High Court. Amongst the bitterest outside opponents of this Bill are to be found a number of prominent gentlemen in the public life of Victoria, who, without .the slightest hesitation, support the payment of another £94,000 a year for naval defence. They say that they believe in an Australian Navy, but that motives of patriotism call upon them to give another £94,000 ; and one cannot help noting such inconsistency. If this Court is to be established at any time, the arguments used by Senator O’Connor for its immediate establishment are sound. We should not wait until we have an enemy at our gate before we organize our Defence Forces, or, as it was put by another honorable senator, we ought not to wait until our house is on fire before we insure. In another branch of the Legislature, but particularly outside Parliament, the cost of the judicial system in Australia has been compared with similar expenditure in other parts of the world.
– What about Canada 1
– The The honorable senator who interjects is a bitter opponent of the establishment of a High Court at the present time, mainly on the score of expense ; and probably he is amongst those who argue that we are going to pay more per head of population for our Judiciary than do the people of the United States. But while the salaries under this Bill may be far higher than those paid to Judges in the United States, it must not be forgotten that the proportion of the Federal Judges to people in the latter country is far greater than it will be in the Commonwealth.
– Including the States Courts 1
– I - I am speaking of the Federal Judges.
– How many are there in America ?
– I - I am speaking subject to correction, but I believe that in the United States there are 125 Federal Judges for a population of 70,000,000, while it is proposed in Australia to have three Judges for a population of 4,000,000.
– But this is only the first instalment.
– Two more Judges are coming shortly.
– Tho Those who have the honour to be members of this and the other Chamber when any increase in the number of Judges is suggested, will be able to deal with the proposal on its merits. If it is considered necessary in the best interests of the people that two more Judges should be appointed, that course will be followed - “ Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” The proposal now is to establish a High Court with three Judges, and I am quite satisfied with that number.
– It is too few.
– I t I think th ree Judges are sufficient for a fair start, and probably had the Bill been presented to me in the form in which it was first introduced in another place, providing for five Judges, I should have been found voting for a reduction of the number. At any rate, I should have required very good reasons for appointing five Judges at the start. The cost Of the proposed Federal Judiciary, super-added to that of the States Judiciaries, does not compare at all unfavorably with the cost of the Judiciaries of other countries. I recognise that it is perhaps a little premature for a layman to give his opinion on this question before the many legal lights of the Chamber have expressed their opinion. But the proposal appeals to me with distinct force, because I am the representative of the smallest State. I hold, rightly or wrongly, that the representatives of the smaller States in this Union, who cannot see that it is necessary to have a High Court for the better safeguarding of their interests, have not carefully considered the question. I cannot imagine the representatives of two or three of the smaller States voting against this comparatively small expenditure, when they consider the vast interests at stake. Senator Zeal has signified his intention of submitting an amendment, which I think is unworthy of him.
– Do not anticipate, the amendments.
– I - I am quite within my rights in referring to the amendments which have been circulated. Let us deal with the Bill on its merits. Do not let us introduce side issues.
– What ‘are they?
– T - The honorable senator intends to propose that no person in this Parliament shall be eligible to a seat oh the High Court until he shall have ceased to be a member for twelve months.
– That is the law inVictoria.
– W - We are living under different conditions. Surely the honorable senator must know that it is understood by every Australian that the Judges for the High Court Bench will, in all probability, be taken from the Federal Parliament.
– Some of them.
– It It is a matter of common knowledge that some members of the Federal Parliament have as good a chance to be appointed to the High Court Bench as have any of the Judges of the States Courts. If any member of the Federal Parliament is better fitted to occupy that high position, by all means let him be chosen, and do not let us declare that we have not in this Parliament any member who has the ability to be a Judge, or - which would be something worse - to declare that the Bill has only been brought in by the Government from unworthy motives. If the amendment is carried, the conclusion will be forced upon the public - either that no member of this Parliament is worthy or fit to become a Judge, or that the sole purpose of the Bill is the creation of fat billets.
– There is no doubt about it.
– I - I am surprised to hear an interjection of that kind from the honorable senator.
– That is my honest belief.
– I - I cannot for a moment think that the honorable senator believes that the proposal to establish the High Court is made from a corrupt motive. I cannot for a moment think that he believes that the only motive of the Government in bringing forward the Bill is to create fat billets.
– Hear, hear.
– I - I am sorry to hear a senator with such a long parliamentary experience say “ hear, hear.”
– I do, because I have had experience.
– If If the honorable senator has been in the habit of associating with colleagues of that stamp, I am sorry for him.
– It is certainly a reflection on his associates in the Legislative Council of Victoria.
– Yes Yes . Senator Zeal has also circulated a proposal to reduce the salaries of the Judges by £500.
– To what New South Wales pays.
– I - I do not care very much whether that proposal is carried or not. I am not an advocate for cheap justice. It should be remembered that a Judge is placed in a vastly different position from any other citizen. He is taken out of the social sphere, so to speak, to live almost a life unto himself. In order to place our Judges above the suspicion of being subjected to improper influences, or the imputation of corruption, we should not be too particular about £100 or £200 in the amount of their salaries. I have quite as much regard for economy as has any honorable senator, but there are such things as true economy and false economy. The reduction of the judicial salary by £200 or£300 a year might prove to be the latter. I do not hold a very strong view on this point, because I. think that, in any case, £3, 000 would be a very fair salary to give. The main consideration is that we desire the best men in Australia to be appointed to the High Court when it is established, as I hope it will be very shortly.
– The Bill raises two very important points - first, the question of the judicial power of the Commonwealth ; and, secondly, the question of economic and prudent administration. It is. quite certain that the second pointis a very important one in the minds of the electors, although I think there are times when we ought not to follow the electors, but to lead them. It does not follow that, because the electors throughout Victoria are hurling charges of extravagance against Ministers, those charges are quite just or correct. I think, as I said the other day, that the charges are incorrect. In my opinion, the Ministry have a policy which is rather mistaken, and . which must lead to a very large expenditure, although I do not think it comes under the ordinary charge of extravagance. Ministers seem to think it is their duty to create, daring the first Parliament, all the tribunals which have been laid down in the Constitution for the good government of the Federation. I do not take that view, nor do I believe that the electors do. I do not think it was contemplated at the time when the Constitution was framed, and I am quite sure that if the idea is carried out, the expenditure will greatly exceed the sum of- -£300,000 which was estimated at Adelaide to cover the new or other expenditure of the Federation. From the figures issued this morning by the Treasurer we knowthat the expenditure has nearly reached £300,000, without saying anything about the extra expenditure, which it is not fair to include, but which, if included, would bring the amount up to £425,000. I would remind honorable senators that a number of these tribunals have not yet been created. If to that sum of £300,000 we add the cost of the High Court, the Inter-State Commission, the High Commissioner, the Statistician’soffice, the Patents-office, and so forth,and the sum of about £50,000 a year for tho proposed capital, we shall get into very large figures indeed. “We are not exactly misleading the public, but the electors voted for the acceptance of the Constitution under a belief which is going to prove erroneous. If I recollect aright, at Adelaide the new expenditure was estimated at £250,000.
– That was an estimate for only five States. It did not include Queensland.
– That is so, but I do not know that it makes very much difference. We have also to include the new expenditure of £40,000 or £50,000 a year under the Public Service Act, which none of us ever dreamt of. By the time the work of this Parliament is completed, the expenditure will be very large indeed. With that view before my mind, let me glance at the judicial power of the Commonwealth, because it is a very important matter. ‘ Senator Neild only quoted the first part of section 71 of the Constitution. We all know that it provides that-
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Supreme Court -
But it goes on to say - and in Such other Federal Courts as the Parliament creates, and in such other Courts as it invests with Federal jurisdiction.
I do not see in those words any special -mandate that we shall create - the High Court at the same moment that we confer
Federal jurisdiction on the Supreme Courts of the six States. It appears to me that the framers of the Constitution said what they meant - that the judicial power should be vested in certain courts, of which the High Court should be one. I do not see why we are bound by the Constitution Act to create a Federal Court when it goes on to empower us to confer Federal jurisdiction on the States Courts, all of which are thoroughly competent to carry on the judicial work of the Common- wealth. Unfortunately we are going to create, if the Bill is passed, a Court consisting of three Judges. All along we have regarded the High Court as one which would command respect and confidence, and which would gradually lessen the appeals from citizens and States to the Privy Council. I ‘ ask Senator O’Connor if he thinks for one moment that a Court of three Judges can possibly command from the citizens the same confidence and carry the same weight as a Court of either six or five trained. Judges. I am not going to support the creation of a High Court consisting of even three Judges. I feel myself bound to oppose the Bill, for I cannot conceive that commercial men’, or any one with common sense, can regard a _ Court of three Judges as carrying the same weight as the New South Wales Court of six Judges, or the Victorian Court of five. The States Judges have all passed through the mill ; they have all had great experience at the Bar, and what is more, five, ten, or fifteen years of judicial experience. It is impossible to conceive that the High Court will be other than the third Court in the. Commonwealth.
– Why n’ot apply that reasoning to this Parliament ?
– I do not think that . is a very relevant interjection.
– It is very relevant to the argument if the honorable and learned senator believes that numbers mean strength.
– I am not talking about numbers meaning strength, but am dealing with absolute facts.
– H - How many Judges does the honorable and learned senator think the High Court should be composed of?
– I have always thought that the High Court, if established) at the proper time, should be composed of five Judges, in order to give that weight which it ought to possess.
– T - That is one less than in New SouthWales.Where would its authority come in, according to that argument?
– My honorable and learned friend must not push my argument to the extent of saying that one Judge out of six is to make such a difference. Five J udges instead of six is one thing, and three Judges instead of six is another. The speeches of the Attorney-General and Senator O’Connor show that in their own minds they are very much perplexed to find substantial arguments to induce Members of Parliament to support this Bill. Senator O’Connor insisted upon saying that we had a mandate from the people, but, in the ordinary sense of the word, I do not understand that there has been any direction from the electors with regard to the complicated and intricate matter of the High Court and appeals to the Privy Council. All that the electors did was to say - “ Yes, give us Federation under the Commonwealth Bill,” and there was no mandate to establish the High Court now any more than there was a mandate to establish it two years ago.
– W - When would the honorable and learned senator establish it ?
– When it is necessary. We adopted the plan for eighteen months of leaving the Commonwealth without any Court whatever. We then adopted the plan of conferring temporary jurisdiction of a Federal nature upon States Courts. And that all goes to negative the argument in support of the establishment of a High Court at any particular moment. It ought to be established at the moment when it is found to be necessary, and when there is work for the Judges of such a court to do, and sufficient work to keep them going. But it ought not to be established when the common sense of a majority of honorable senators must tell them that, judging by the experience of the last two and a half years, there will not be anything like work enough to be done to keep the Federal High Court going for four months out of the twelve. I should like to mention the fact that the Bill, as originally introduced in another place, made no provision for the repeal of the Claims Against the Commonwealth Act, which expires on the 1st January next. I find, however, that in the Bill before the Senate there is a clause repealing that Act. I, therefore, assume that it is the intention of Ministers to bring the High Court into being from the moment this Bill is passed, because from that moment the power to make use of the Claims Against the Commonwealth Act will have gone. That I think is a very great mistake. We might at least have continued the operation of the Claims against the Commonwealth Act until the end of the year, and then early in the new year the High Court might have been constituted. But no, the ClaimsAgainst the Commonwealth Act is to be repealed, and instantly this Bill is passed through both Houses of the Federal Parliament the High Court will be an established fact. I ask honorable senators what necessity there is for the establishment of that Court at the present moment ? Is there any one case of real importance now awaiting trial, or can honorable senators conceive of any case likely shortly to arise which should be dealt with by such a court?
– T - There are halfadozen cases of the utmost importance.
– Is there not a case in New South Wales in connexion with the taxation of goods imported by the State Government ?.
– There is an important case pending in Western Australia at the present moment.
– There is one in Tasmania at present in connexion with the stamping of Federal receipts.
– T - There is one in Queensland in connexion with the Excise Tariff Act.
– I ask my honorable friends what case of importance is there at present pending which makes imperative the establishment of a Commonwealth High Court?
– Surely the cases which have been referred to should be dealt with as early as possible ?
– Certainly they should be dealt with by conferring Federal jurisdiction upon States Courts. Let me refer to two cases which might have been dealt with by a High Court. The first is Tattersall’s case. The interference which took place in connexion with Tattersall’s sweeps was regarded as a gross infringement of State rights, but, as I understood the matter, the Postmaster-General had an absolute right, according to the American authorities,to do exactly what he did. However, that has all passed away now, and there is no possibility of any case in connexion with that matter being brought before the High Court, because -Tattersall is now carrying on his business as gaily as over. There was a most important case, arising out of the breaking of Customs seals - the case of Kingston v. Gadd , but that was decided by a State Court in a very satisfactory manner.
– It was a very important case.
– We cannot conceive of a more important case. No one for a moment impugned the ability or judicial knowledge of the cou rt which tried the case, or the correctness of the decision come to. It was taken to the Privy Council on appeal, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council unanimously confirmed the decision of the State Court. There we find a most important matter, affecting the whole taxation scheme of the Commonwealth, and affecting the rights of foreigners and people without our jurisdiction, decided without any friction by a State Court, and without any doubt as to whether the decision arrived at was right or wrong. I think we may all be satisfied that the decision was right when we have the judgment of our own court and of the Privy Council in favour of it. That is a case in point which, so far from supporting the contention as to the necessity for this Bill absolutely condemns it, and shows that we can get on without it.
– We can get on without our teeth.
– Senator McG regor’ is a perfect expert in making irrelevant interjections, but I am dealing with this matter as one of practical politics, and I am trying to show that we have had no mandate for this Bill. .
– The fact that we can do without something is not evidence that we should not be better off if we had it.
– The arguments of Senator O’Connor, like those of his colleague, the Attorney-General, were very much laboured. They tried to make out a case in theory, but when we look at this as a practical matter, we find that it is a very weak case indeed.
– There is a big question pending in Western Australia concerning the interpretation of the sliding scale.
– I can quite understand that the settlement of such a question may involve a great deal of revenue. If the sliding scale were cut down I should not at all regret it, because I think Western Australia got a great deal more than she was entitled to. We voted blindfold for the interests of that small State, but that is by the way. I am satisfied that if Federal jurisdiction is conferred upon Western Australian Courts the question of the sliding scale can be easily settled. Whatever the decision of the States Courts were, whether in favour of the State or of the Commonwealth, there would be a right of appeal to the PrivyCouncil. I heard Senator O’Connor pass certain criticisms on the Privy Council which will not bear examination. The The honorable and learned senator told us that the Privy Council was an unsatisfactory tribunal to deal with questions concerning the interpretation of the Commonwealth Constitution. He said that the members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were experts who had to consider laws and read up regulations and judicial matters pertaining to all parts of the Empire, and, having reminded us of the vast experience possessed by these trained lawyers, the honorable and learned senator went on to say that they would form an unsatisfactory tribunal to construe a few simple sections of the Commonwealth Constitution. I cannot possibly agreee with such arguments. My opinion is that a trained lawyer, knowing the principles of law, and having a judicial mind to apply them, is capable of giving a judgment upon- .anything.
– W - Whether he knows anything about the matter or not 1 “Senator DOBSON.- My honorable and learned . friend is a little off the track. It appears to me that the Privy Council would be likely to give a better decision because it did not know the subject matter. All that is necessary is that the members of the Privy Council should know the principles of law, and the principles of construction.
– What is the first principle of interpretation ?
– Some honorable senators seem to forget that there are principles of construction applied in construing a statute, a contract, or a constitution, and there are hundreds of cases dealing with these very matters. It is idle to say that Judges at home who have had years and years of experience are not capable of construeing this Constitution. The argument is not one which impresses me, and it only shows how difficult it is for Ministers to find practical arguments to support the establishment of this High Court. I recollect that we discussed the question of the Privy Council at the Convention, and I got some evidence from a gentleman who knew some of the Judges intimately. I think his letter was read, and is now to be found in the printed debates of the Convention. He said that it was idle to suppose that any one man could be picked out in Australia who had anything like the knowledge and judicial experience, or whose decisions would be regarded with the same confidence as those of some of the men who are at present members of the Privy Council. I find that there are certain authorities who urge delay in creating the proposed tribunal. Mr. Garran, who . writes nothing without grave consideration, has expressed the opinion that this original jurisdiction ought to be conferred on the Federal High Court in very few matters indeed, and that all other matters of original jurisdiction might be very well left to the States Courts. I find also that our friend, Mr. Harrison Moore, suggests that the creation of the High Court may be delayed for some time. Here we have a constitutional lawyer, a man who has already written a book about our Constitution, and one who is throughly versed in all these matters - I believe no* man knows more than does Mr. Harrison Moore about the theory of judicial power being vested in the High Court, and yet, thinking of what he was writing, he deliberately suggests that the creation of this High Court may be delayed.
– H - He has written strongly urging the establishment of the Court. “ Senator DOBSON. - I have a few words of his before me, in which he expresses the opinion that there will be delay. Senator Neild has informed us that without a High Court there will be no uniformity, and he has exhibited a terrible picture of six States
Courts deciding the same question, and arriving at different conclusions.
– The honorable senator referred to the possibility of it.
– I should think that it would be absolutely impossible that we should have the same point decided in six Courts, and that all should come to different conclusions. This bogy of want of uniformity is no justification for the expenditure proposed upon the High Court.
– That is not the point. The point is, that until we have the six Courts giving the same decision we shall not have a uniform decision.
– Does my honorable and learned friend think that this bogy of uniformity will arise during the next year or two t
– It has arisen already.
– In dozens of cases the same local subject-matter has been dealt with differently in different States.
– If a State Court gave a decision in a Federal matter which was not satisfactory, no doubt there would be an appeal to the Privy Council to have the matter settled.
– That is only another way of saying that we should go to the Privy Council.
– I understand that one of the reasons urged for the establishment of the High Court is that we may avoid conflicting decisions, and secure a harmonious interpretation of the Constitution. I wish to know what the Judges of the High Court are to do 1 Under the Bill they are not to go upon circuit ; and I venture tosay that the three Judges and their officers will not have three months’ work in the year. I find that in 1901 there were twosmall cases in which Federal laws were concerned. In 1902 there were ten cases, most of them very small cases, but one or two of some little importance arising under Federal laws ; and in 1903, up to the time thereturn from which I quote was compiled, there were eight cases. So that in two and a half years there were from 20 to 24 cases altogether. We have already decided two or three of the most important questions which are likely to arise, and they will notrequire to be decided again. I cannot conceive where the litigation is to come from. I could understand the contention for the-‘ immediate establishment of the High Courtif it were certain that it would take the place of the Privy Council, and have to deal with the whole of the appeals which now go to the Privy Council. It might then be kept going for three months in the year.
– Take the position of affairs if there were no High Court.
– I shall come to that argument. I do not know that we should continue for any very long time without a High Court. I must admit that Senator O’Connor has dealt candidly and openly with the suggestion which has been made to appoint Judges of the various States to form a temporary High Court. I think the honorableand learned senator said first of all that we would require to get the leave of the States. Would there beanytroubleaboutthat? The States are blaming the Federal Parliament dayafter day, and my honorable and learned friend gives as a reason for not having the Court composed of the State Judges that we shall have to get the leave of the States. The States are inviting us to do it. They want us to do it.
– I - In New South Wales the J udges have no time whatever to spare. The whole of their time is occupied, and it is contemplated to appoint an extra Judge.
– The Western Australian Judges have no time to spare.
– That is not the experience in Victoria. . An excellent lawyer has recently resigned a Judgeship and gone to England, and the Government has not appointed another Judge in his place. I do not know what is the case in South Australia. I think that the Judges there have a little time to spare now and then. In my own State we have only enough work for two Judges to do, though we have three on the Bench. My honorable and learned friend, first of all, said that we should have to obtain the leave of the States, and then he argued that there would be no responsibility upon the State Judges. Fancy suggesting that a man who has occupied a seat on a State Bench, because he is appointed to do Federal work, will have no responsibility ! I can hardly understand that argument. Although a Judge had Federal jurisdiction conferred upon him, he would, at the same time, be getting rid of the judicial work of his own State under the Federal law.
– He would be serving two masters.
– Technically, that may be said ; but, as a matter of fact, the
Judge, whilst exercising Federal jurisdiction, would be dealing with matters affecting defence, post and telegraphs, and customs and excise, doing the same work as he would have donefortheState if there had been no Federation. Then Senator O’Connor argues that the work of the Commonwealth would be done last by the State Judges, and that the work of the State would be done first. It is hardly fair to suggest that if we arrange for a court of this sort cases which were put down first would, because they were Commonwealth cases, be dealt with last. The argument will not stand examination, because, as I have just pointed out, the work which the Judges were doing in the State qua Federal matters would be done for their own constituents, their own people, and their own merchants. It is, therefore, idle to suppose that they would go in for tricks of that kind. I do not think that anything is to be gained by exaggerating the amount which the High Court is going to cost. As I understand the question, it will cost about £9,500 per annum for thethree Judges, and about £5,000 for other matters, making about £15,000 in all. I believe that the Federal High Court can be conducted for that sum. The salaries, although they are generous, are not fixed at too high a rate, especially as the pensions provision has been struck out. I could never see why Judges should receive pensions. The only reason I have heard given is that if Judges are not paid pensions it is necessary to give them very good salaries. A sum of £3,500 a year for the Chief Justice and £3,000 for the Puisne Judges are good salaries.
– We have to consider what men can earn at the Bar.
– That is so; but it is impossible for the Government to pick out the highest incomes that can be earned in private practice and pay such sums as salaries to permanent officials. We have to look at the surrounding circumstances and the conditions of the profession. Regarding it in that way, it appears to me that the salaries proposed in this Bill are fair and generous.
– Would the honorable and learned senator have the second-best men on the Bench and the best men at the Bar?
– No; it appears to me that the positions will attract the good men even without the payment of pensions.
If we have regard to precedents, we shall find that in the United States and Canada high salaries are not paid.
– I - It will be found that in the United States it is only men of independent means who can take judicial positions.
– In the United States Judges are very badly paid. I have said that the salaries named in this Bill are fair. I do not know whether my honorable and learned friend wants the Senate to increase them, but I could not vote in that direction. In Canada the High Court is practically a Court of Appeal pure and simple, as between province and province.
– T - The Canadian Constitution is different altogether from ours.
– I know that the Canadian Constitution, is different, but that case shows that a large Federation, embracing a greater population than ours, and which has far more business than Australia has, can carry on with a Court of Appeal.
– T - The Executive of the Dominon has a right of veto over the laws of any province.
– That is a very good argument in favour of giving absolute Federal jurisdiction to our States Courts, and letting them worry out the interpretation of our laws ; and if the decisions conflict, an appeal will lie to the High Court or to the Privy Council. I am quite sure that every honorable senator would gladly vote for this Bill if he could conscientiously do so, but the one difficulty is that involved in the question of expense. In order that I might be able to vote for the Bill, I have, on more than one occasion, suggested that the proposal for the appointment of an Inter-State Commission should be abandoned by an amendment of the Constitution, and the work of the Commission undertaken by the High Court. If something of that sort were done, it would go a long way to justify the creation of a High Court with three Judges. I cannot conceive that there will ever be work for threeInter-State Commissioners, and when once the State rates are made uniform, I can easily understand that any questions that arise could very well be dealt with by the High Court. I have previously made a suggestion that the High Court should also have the administration of the Patents Law. No work is of more importance, and the applications for patents, which are sometimes of a most intricate character, would be suitable work for the High Court. I do not think that it is of any use running the Federation on old lines and in old grooves ; we must apply the Constitution according to the conditions which surround us. When there is not a lot of work, and too many officers are appointed, the only way, I think, is to amalgamate the offices, even if that does mean an amendment of the Constitution. I am sorry to see that under clause 40 there is no chance of any appeal to the Privy Council being allowed. Some of us were very disappointed when we found that all questions referring to the construction of the Constitution were not to go to that tribunal ; and here we have a further restriction on the right of appeal. I can quite understand that this Parliament has the right to say that it will confer Federal jurisdiction on the States Courts, but will limit that jurisdiction. If a suitor insists on going to a State Court, in its Federal jurisdiction, we provide by this Bill that he shall appeal to the High Court, and not to the Privy Council. Why should we deprive citizens of the right of appeal to the Privy Council, which they have had up to the present, simply because we confer Federal jursdiction on the States Courts?
– T - The Bill does not take from the people any right which they had before.
– We are taking something away from the people, because if it were not for the Federal Parliament, and for the transfer of three Departments, almost the whole of these cases could be heard in the States Courts in their States jurisdiction. Because we have taken over three large Departments, and in a number of cases certain rights and wrongs may arise, the jurisdiction is conferred again on the States Courts, but the right of appeal is limited. Therefore, I do not think that Senator O’Connor is quite right in his contention. This Bill takes from the people in a roundabout way something that they before possessed. But even supposing that this right was not possessed by the people previously,we are giving the States Courts a jurisdiction which the Constitution enables us to give, though in such a way as to take away the right of appeal. Why should we do that? If suitors have more confidence in the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council, or if they have cases in which party feeling runs high, and which are intimately connected with the politics of the States and of the Commonwealth, why should they be deprived of the right of going to the highest tribunal in the Empire, which is absolutely removed from all party influence and local prejudices ?
– Is it?
– I should say most decidedly that the Privy Council is removed from all such influence and prejudice. If my honorable friends argue that the Privy Council will be tinged with political prejudices, what can we say of other Federal or States Courts? .
– What about Sir Robert Stout’s contention?
– I think we have every reason to be proud of our system of judicature. We have every reason to be proud of the Judges we have, and I am sure we shall have every reason to be satisfied with the Judges to come. The idea of suggesting that the decisions of the Privy Council will be coloured by party influence and local prejudice is past my comprehension. I protest against this right of the citizens being taken away, and when we reach clause 40 in Committee I shall probably have something more to say. We are now dealing with a proposed expenditure of ?20,000 a year, and if we could postpone the commencement of the High Court for six months, that would mean a saving of ?10,000. If we are always to give these proposed tribunals the benefit of the doubt, and never extend that benefit to the unfortunate taxpayer, we shall earn, from one end of Australia to the other, those charges of extravagance which are now to some extent wrongly hurled against us. If we insist on starting all the Federal machinery at once, persuading ourselves and arguing theoretically that the legislation is of great moment when it is nto, we shall pile up an enormous sum in new expenditure. I must say that the Bill is a great improvement on the measure as submitted in the House of Representatives. I do not think that any one could justify the appointment of five J udges, and allow them to go on circuit from State to State. Judges and their officers cannot travel without expense ; and it would be absurd for a Judge to sit in a capital city and hear, perhaps, some small cases under the Customs Act, or some other Act, which the State Judges were quite as competent to hear, while having more time for the work. But even supposing that it will be necessary for the Judges to goon circuit, I consider that three will be sufficient. If we have one Judge at the seat of Government where the three may meet once a quarter, the other two Judges will be able to visit the different States from time to time. There being so little business, I believe that three Judges could really carry out the idea of going on circuit, and practically conducting the whole of the business, except, perhaps, very small cases which the States Supreme Courts, or even inferior courts, might hear. An amendment has been spoken of, but I shall be no party to restricting the Governor-General in Council in the choice of the Judges. I am sure that the Government will obtain the very best men in the Commonwealth. We all know that some members of the Federal Parliament have not only earned Judgeships, but that they would do honour and credit to the position.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Gould) adjourned.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the Table
Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Scheme of organization for a Field Force.
Correspondence relating to matters concerning the Pacific Cable.
Report of the Committee of Engineers on the proposed railway from Port Augusta toKalgoorlie.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by. Senator Drake) read a first time.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill from passing through all its stages during the same sitting of the Senate.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the ordinary interim Supply Bill for the two months of July and August. The Senate will remember that earlier in the month I asked for the passage of a Supply Bill voting ?75,000 as the Treasurer’s advance for the purpose of financing works in progress ; and that advance was made, and is now being used. We are now approaching the end of July, and it is necessary that Supply should be granted for this and next month, according to the usual practice. The Estimates have been laid on the table of the Senate, and circulated; and it will be noticed that the amount asked for is slightly less than that dealt with in the last interim Supply Bill.
– The Treasurer’s advance was in the last Bill?
– There was nothing but the Treasurer’s advance in that Bill, and this is the first Supply Bill for the purpose of paying salaries. With very slight exceptions the schedule of the Bill is based on the Estimates for the year 1903-4, as laid on the table. There are only one or two items to which, as being new, some reference should be made. One is a vote for the salary of the recently-appointed Crown Solicitor, and on page 6 honorable senators will observe that there are two very small amounts, which are really balances placed on the Estimates in order to get them out of the way. One is a matter of £20, connected with the Royal Commission on Bonuses, and the other is a balance of £2 for the first Commonwealth elections. Provision is made for the payment of increments to employes of the fifth class, because those increments, which are assured by law, have to be paid as a matter of course. In the case of the more highly-paid officers, the increments are subject to recommendation by the Public Service Commissioner. They are not included in the Estimates, and none will be paid until the ordinary Estimates for the year have beenconsidered.
– I assume that the PostmasterGeneral is relying on the fact that we shall have the Estimates of expenditure for the current year brought before the Senate within a reasonable period?
– They have been circulated with the Budget papers.
– I wish to ascertain whether it is probable that any great length of time will elapse before we shall have an opportunity of discussing the Estimates. I presume that the various items in the schedule to this Bill are based on the Estimates of expenditure for the financial year just concluded.
– Yes, with the exceptions I mentioned.
– I observe that an advance of £50,000 is required for the Treasurer. I am not sure whether any papers have been laid on the table to show how advance votes during the past year have been appropriated.
– They are shown on the Estimates which were laid on the table this afternoon.
– I assume that the previous advances to the Treasurer were made on account of the past year ?
– There has only been an advance of £75,000 for the current year, arid it has been used for financing works in progress.
– Has there been no other advance to the Treasurer except that one during the past year ?
.- I thought it well to ascertain these facts. We are confronted from time to time with Supply Bills, and if we took advantage of the present opportunity to discuss the Estimates we should probably find ourselves involved in a very long debate. The schedule to this Bill contains a large number of items, which I should like to see debated, but I do not propose to discuss them at the present time, but on the Appropriation Bill.
– That will be towards the end of the session.
– I dare say it will be rather late in the session. If we do not have the Estimates before us within a very reasonable time, I shall have to take advantage of the opportunity presented on the next Supply Bill to discuss various items and Departments at great length.
– At the present stageI do not propose to do more than deal with one matter of very considerable consequence, and I hope that in his reply Senator Drake will be able to give me a very satisfactory assurance on the point. It is a matter connected with the great Department of Defence in New South Wales. I know that it does not apply in Victoria, and I hope that it does not apply in any other State than New South Wales. Up to the 30th of June last the funds of the different regiments and corps in New South Wales were practically held in trust by a board known as the Military Central Clothing Board. A little time ago the Government passed some regulations dealing with military finance, and one of their operations was to waft out of existence that board, leaving the regimental balances absolutely unrepresented by any legitimate authority. New regulations were enacted, but they took their start, not from the 30th June, but from the 1st. J uly. Between the destruction of the old regulations and the commencement of the new ones there is a hiatus of a character which I cannot exactly put a limit to. But the fact is that not a regiment or corps in New South Wales has had the control of a shilling piece for the last four weeks. It is a positive scandal on the Commonwealth ; it is a disgraceful position to place citizen soldiers in. Senator Drake requires that, for the purpose of conducting the Post-office on business lines, every Department but his own shall put stamps on its letters. I do not know whether any record of the letters from the Postal Department is kept, but I receive from the Department letters not bearing a stamp. For four weeks the regiments and corps in New South Wales, although they have thousands of pounds amongst them to their credit, have been left without a shilling piece to buy a postage stamp. I know commanding officers and staff officers who have had to put their hands into their own pockets to find cash for postage stamps, in order that the Postal Department might have its revenue interests conserved. They have not been able to lay their hands on a shilling of their own money by reason of the stupid action of the Government in wafting away one trust without making any arrangement for the continuation of the business from the old authority to the new one’. I know a commanding officer who at last became so desperate about the condition of affairs - and I know the man sufficiently well to believe that he would be as good as his word - that he announced that he would close every office and drill-room in connexion with his regiment until the necessary funds that were nominally to his credit were forthcoming, to enable him to honestly meet his obligations to the people who trusted him. There was no money even to pay the charwoman, to buy postage stamps, to discharge any of the multifarious obligations that are connected with soldiering.
– Is it the case of the honorable senator that is referred to ?
– It is not my place to give names in a matter which is more or less of an official character : that is mere detail. There are thousands of pounds standing to the credit of these regiments. Ever since the Government took office there has been a backingand filling in military matters. One day recruiting is to be carried on ; but threemonths afterwards it is stopped. One month uniforms might be purchased ; but for the next three months expenditure on uniforms was prohibited.
– This is reorganization.
– It is disorganization. There has been no reorganization, but absolute chaos of the most cruel and criminal character. It is criminal, from the stand-point of the public interest, because with a gentleman of high status in the Imperial Service as General Officer Commanding, the public have been inclined to rest in the belief that all things were being done decently and in order. There has never been in the history of any portion of the British realms such a condition of confusion worse confounded as has existed in the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth for twelveor eighteen months. I am not going to mince matters, because it is my absolute duty as a representative of the people to speak of that which I know to exist from sources which are unimpeachable. From the communications which come to me every day through the post, and from the communications which are made almost daily to the press, I am satisfied that there has probably never before been such a condition of confusion and chaos as has existed for a great length of time.
– But as an officer and a. gentleman the honorable senator should say nothing.
.- I am not speaking as an officer, but as a representative of the people. I am not disclosing any official secret. I am speaking of that which is a matter of the most common notoriety in every street of Sydney.
– And which is contained in every report of the General Officer Commanding.
.- I thank my honorable friend for his interjection. No one has drawn more pointed attention to this matter than the General Officer Commanding. Surely, if a gentleman charged with responsible duties speaks and writes as he does - and his report was only laid before the Senate this afternoon - I am perfectly justified in supporting him, especially when the facts are within the knowledge of five men out of six in Sydney. In consequence of the backing and filling, uniforms have not been purchased. The statement was made by the General Officer Commanding before reporters, and reported in the Sydney press, that some of the regiment are without boots. Under these circumstances, of course, the men have to wear their own boots, but the regimental boot has almost disappeared, the regimental clothing has almost disappeared, and the money which Parliament has voted year after year, has been stored up against the happy day when it would be possible to clothe the men again. When, at most extravagant expense, new uniforms have been designed, and new regulations have been issued for new uniforms, we are now brought up “all standing” as the sailors say, and no regimental commander can lay Iris hands on a shilling piece for the clothing of his regiment, or the payment of his regimental charwoman.
– They are as welldressed as Falstaff’s men
– D - Does he not pay for his washing ?
– I quite appreciate the interest which my remarks are creating, but I would suggest that it is a serious matter, and not a matter of the comic opera type. I freely admit that Gilbert and Sullivan at their best never had so grand an opportunity to produce comic operas in connexion with military matters as they would have to-day in the condition of affairs existing -in the Commonwealth. While I recognise the absolute burlesque in connexion with many of these matters, on the other hand, speaking from the stand-point of public interest, I object to see the public money wasted as it lias been for a twelvemonth, frittered away instead of being usefully applied.
– What do they do with it?
– That is a serious charge to make.
– It has been frittered away in this respect-
– On postage stamps ?
– I cannot speak while the leader of the - I do not think it is Octofid party now, because it has lost one of its segments - but the party, which under present circumstances is so aptly and happily described by that wellknown little poem, “We are Seven.”
– The “noscent waterspout.”
– It is quite equal to that.
– What will they do when they want money ?
– My honorable friend, Senator Styles, is not afflicted with the same infantile imbecility which seems to be afflicting Senators McGregor and Higgs, and I am, therefore, happy to be able to give that honorable, senator the information he seeks. Owing to these changes and delays, instead of clothing being purchased, the money has been hoarded, and now, when the Government have made arrangements for the clothing of the men in new uniforms, the money is not available by reason of the Government bungling in the matter of these regulations. I am not speaking hastily, because, on coming from the train to-day, I took care, before getting my lunch, to write a note to Senator O’Connor, informing him that I desired some definite information . with reference to these regimental arrangements. I did not think it fair to do otherwise than to give the honorable and learned senator full notice of the matter that he might obtain from his right honorable colleague, the Minister for Defence, information with respect to this financial bungling. I communicated with the Minister for Defence in writing a fortnight ago to-morrow, and I know that communications have been sent from New South Wales to Melbourne upon the subject. I say that it is scandalous that a fact of this kind should be known to the Minister for a fortnight, and that up to the time of my leaving Sydney yesterday, no word was forthcoming, and no information had been vouchsafed as to the settlement of this stupid business. It is stupid, and I do not know that I could use a more expressive and at the same time a milder word to characterize the action of a Government that will destroy one trustee, and leave the trust fund without a shepherd, bringing in at the same time an elaborate set of regulations, with fancy balance-sheets and different forms of account, covering page after page of the Commonwealth Gazette. How it is that matters have been bungled in this manner I do not know ; but I submit that such a condition of affairs leads to the suspicion that, if I know of this fact in connexion with this Department, other honorable senators may know of similar bungling in connexion with other Departments. Is this sort of thing rampant throughout the service of the Commonwealth? I hope that when the VicePresident of the Executive Council replies he will be able to give some information upon the subject. . I have no wish to take up time unnecessarily, and I have shown by a speech made in the earlier part of the day that I am not actuated by any party feeling. I supported the Government as warmly in connexion with another measure as I now speak against them in connexion with this matter.
– They were wrong when the honorable senator supported them.
– I desire to let the honorable senator clown lightly, and therefore I will not pursue that matter.
– What about infantile imbecility now ? I wish the honorable senator would not look so distressed.
– I am feeling a certain amount of diffidence in that I should be interfering so much with the conversation of honorable senators. If the Postmaster-General had given me the smallest hint that I should have any satisfactory assurances upon this matter, I should have sat down long ago.
– If the honorable senator sits down now he will find that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has all the information here.
.- Then I shall not pursue the matter further at present. If the information supplied is not satisfactory, I can deal with the question further in Committee. I have no wish to take up time unnecessarily, or to run a grievance that is not a genuine one. This is a matter which has been placed before the whole of the commanding officers in New South Wales, by direction of the State Commandant. The commanding officers of that State three weeks ago had a meeting and made theirrecommendations when invited to do so by the State Commandant. The matter has occasioned correspondence between the New South Wales authorities and headquarters here and the Ministerial Department. I therefore think I was more than justified in bringing the question before the Senate, because the whole of the Defence Force is interested, and I may be permitted to point out that the New South Wales force is the largest section of the Defence Force of the Commonwealth. The whole force has been “ brought up all standing,” as the sailors say, by reason of the extraordinary muddle which has been allowed to take place. If it is not my duty to speak upon such a matter, I do not know what I should speak upon. I should like to deal at considerable length with the condition of affairs connected with the Gulf of Carpentaria alleged postal service.
– This is the honorable senator’s opportunity.
.- I might deal with it on the Estimates-in-chief.
– It will be too late then.
.- I could not make the matter very clear in half-an-hour and I have perhaps trespassed sufficiently on the time of the Senate in connexion with the other question to which I have referred. I will allow this matter to stand over, but this I will promise the PostmasterGeneral, that unless a very great change has taken place in the accommodation for passengers on the vessels carrying mails on that service - and they are the only vessels carrying passengers on that coast, because no other vessels can run in competition with subsidized steamers - unless a very great change has taken place from the condition of things which I personally witnessed and experienced six months ago, I shall before the session closes take an opportunity of describing what I witnessed, because the conditions were so bad that there is not a paper in New South Wales game to print an account of them.
– To which boats does the honorable senator refer?
.- The A. U.S.N. Company’s boats.
– Which boat in particular?
– The Maranoa; but I am not speaking of the Maranoa herself, but of the arrangements made for connecting the Maranoa with the ports.
– The honorable senator refers to the lighters.
-Yes ; the lighter service. To show how scandalous the condition of affairs is, I may mention that we were supposed to take 30 bullocks alive for a few hours sail in smooth water to Thursday Island, and the conditions of transit were so infamous that of those 30 unfortunate beasts we only landed 18 alive, after a smooth water trip of a few hours. The condition of affairs was evil enough for such a state of things as that to occur. As regards the treatment to which women and children are subjected on the lighters, particularly at Burketown, it is almost too infamous to merit belief. I shall not describe the horrors and dangers to which they are exposed, but I hope that my indication of the state of affairs will direct attention to the matter, and bring about some remedy ; otherwise my honorable and learned friend and the Senate can take it from me that they will have the whole details, because I do not think that helpless women and children ought to be treated in a manner that no one with the slightest regard for his fellow creatures would tolerate for five minutes. I suppose we have to vote this money, but I do not’ like the suspension of the standing orders. It is a vicious principle to rush money Bills through, with little or no opportunity for discussion, information, or even inquiry. Had I been present when my honorable and learned friend carried his motion last Friday, I should certainly have objected to the suspension of the standing orders. It is a vicious practice to deal with the revenue of the country in this haphazard manner. Last session we voted moneys month after month, and it will be in the recollection of honorable senators that the first year’s Estimates of the Commonwealth were never submitted to the Senate at all. The whole year’s supply was rushed through, helter skelter, in so many fragments, and finally a kind of enabling Bill was introduced to give a species of legality to the illegality to which we were driven by the tactics of the Ministry in bringing in their applications for appropriations in this haphazard detailed manner. If I find it necessary to say anything else, I shall say it in Committee.
– There is one matter on which I desire information from the Postmaster-General, and some statement of what the Government intend to do. I refer to the case of the Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia. I understand that this officer has applied for permission to retire. Under our Public Service Act, I believe, he is entitled to a pension under the conditions set out in the State Act. I take it that as a transferred officer he came over to the Commonwealth with all his pension rights. I do not think that he came over with the limitation that if he voluntarily proposed to give up one of his rights of service, and proposed to retire three years before his time expired, that that could be held to be an objection to his retirement, providing that the Commonwealth Government were will ing to retire him.I take it that if the Commonwealth Government are willing, the retirement of this officer can take place three years before his full term of service expires. He is a very old servant who has been in the service for some 37 years. I have no wish to criticise his administration, but I must say that he has not shown that sympathy with the Federal administration of the post-office which is necessary in order to get a good administration of postal affairs in Western Australia. We know that men who have been for a long time in the public service get into a groove, and it is very difficult for them to get out of it. I urge upon the Government the absolute necessity of granting the request this officer has made to be allowed to retire. It is the people of Western Australia who will have to pay the pension, and it is therefore a purely Western Australian matter.
– Supposing he retires before his time ? I doubt that.
– We took this officer over, and under our Public Service Act his rights are safeguarded. As he is willing to retire, it rests with the Commonwealth Government to say whether he shall retire now. I feel that the Postal Department in Western Australia requires a real live energetic officer at its head. I am sure the Postmaster-General must have come to the same conclusion. We can hardly expect the present Deputy Postmaster-General, at his time of life, to take up his duties und er the Commonwealth withthe energy which is necessary if they are to be carried out efficiently. I feel sure that the people of Western Australia would not have the slightest objection to the retirement of this officer. They recognise that he ‘has earned his pension, and that he served the State well in years gone by. He is fully justified in retiring. Speaking as a representative of the State of Western Australia, I hope that theGovernment will grant the request. In a question which I asked the other day, I suggested that the Government should pick out the best officer they could find for the position, no matter from which State he came. I believe that if a really energetic officer was placed at the head of the Postal Department of Western Australia the service would receive great advantage from the appointment. Complaints as to the administration of the Postal Department have been frequent in my State. It is for these reasons that I urge the Government to accede to the request of the Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia, feeling sure that by doing so they will not only meet his wishes, but also the desires of the people of that State.
– - I desire to refer to one matter which this Supply Bill affects, in order to secure a public utterance from the Postmaster-General relating to it. I understand that it is the intention of the shipping company which holds the contract for the carriage of mails between Launceston and Melbourne, to apply for power to alter their service so as to be able to land the mails at Devonport on the north coast of Tasmania. The mails would thence be carried to Launceston by rail. The principle reason given is the outbreak of small-pox in Launceston. Is the Union Steamship Company to be allowed to make such a serious alteration in the existing arrangements 1 I trust that no steps of the kind will be taken until the PostmasterGeneral is thoroughly assured of the necessity for the change. At present I can assure him that there is no necessity for it, and that it would mean great inconvenience to the residents of the north of Tasmania, and to people immediately surrounding Launceston. There is more panic than common sense shown by some portions of the public with regard to the small-pox at Launceston.
– It is rather serious.
– I - I happen to be in possession of private information from which I can assure Senator Zeal that there is nothing to make such a tremendous fuss about, although, of course, small-pox is- a serious disease. But, seeing that proper precautions are taken for the fumigation of the mails, the Postmaster-General ought not to be called upon, at this stage, to consent to an alteration which I believe is proposed in some quarters. If, of course, the outbreak of small-pox is not got under within a reasonable time, and the Postmaster-Gen eral is satisfied that he will be safeguarding the public health in making an alteration, it will be necessary to take steps in that direction ; but I trust that he will thoroughly satisfy himself of the necessity for it before the alteration is made.
– I presume that the Government have good reasons for bringing before the Senate this Supply Bill, inasmuch as they have services to provide for at the end of the month. I do not make the observations which I am about to address to the Senate for the purpose of objecting to the passage of the Bill, but in order to point out that there is the enormous sum of £94,779 put down for contingencies without a word of explanation. That sum represents about 31 per cent, of the total amount which the Government are asking for. Surely it is not too much to expect that when the Government, in a case of emergency, asks the Senate for an interim vote, some information should be given with regard to these large items.
– The honorable senator will find the particulars in the Estimates.
– I have not received the Estimates. I am not making this criticism in a carping spirit, but it is not right that such huge items should be put down under the heading of contingencies. For instance, on page 26 of the Bill, there are items amounting to £40,325 under “contingencies” in five subdivisions. That is not right.
– It is not right to have any contingencies.
– I will not go so far sis to say that ; but the Government might have had a fly-sheet printed showing that the items were voted for certain purposes. When the Government ask courtesies at the hands of the Senate, we are entitled to have information supplied to us to show the purposes for which such votes as these are to be applied.
– There are one or two items to which I should like to draw attention, so that the Postmaster-General will have an opportunity of giving Western Australian senators some information when he replies. The Post-office accommodation at Fremantle has been a source of complaint for a considerable time past. The matter has been brought before the Government, but up to the present time nothing has been done, so far as I know. C should like to learn whether the Government have considered the matter, and whether provision is made upon the Estimates for carrying out the promise that was made at the time the members of the Federal Parliament visited Western Australia’! Another matter for criticism is the undermanning of the Customs Department at Fremantle. I am credibly informed that at present there is a considerable loss of duties owing to that fact.
– I thought that the Western Australian merchants were all honest.
– The imports are rushed through the Department so hurriedly, and the office is so much undermanned, that we do not know whether the right duties are paid or not. There is more than a suspicion that a large amount of revenue is lost in that way. These are subjects about which we should have some information. Icorroborate what Senator Pearce has said as to the retirement of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Western Australia. He has been so long in office, and has served the State so well in the past, that he ought to be retired, both in his own interests and in the interests of the State. We require some new blood in the department, without which it is impossible for us to get such a service as the public are demanding. I trust that the Minister will be able to give the Senate some information. The State has long looked for assistance in the direction I have mentioned, but up to the presentwe have had no satisfaction with regard to the intentions of the Government.
– I have listened with much interest to the remarks which have been made concerning the Defence Department, because the information which has been given to the Senate by Senator Neild, and of which I was ignorant, only tends to confirm my opinion that the Department is in a state of absolute chaos. I do not propose to take up the time of the Semite at the present moment in dealing with my own grievances, because, after all, what we now say is simply like firing blank cartridge. It does not effect any purpose, and takes up time. As soon as the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I propose to move a reduction of the vote for the Defence Department, in order to force the Government, if I possibly can, to give us that information which we are undoubtedly entitled to expect, but for which I have asked in vain on several occasions.
– What information?
– The information which the Postmaster-General found that he was unable to secure for me, and with regard to which I gave notice of a formal motion, to the effect that Sir Edward Hutton should be asked to supply us with a full and detailed statement concerning the armament and equipment of the forces which he said were deficient. The PostmasterGeneral did everything he could to secure the information, but Sir John Forrest absolutely declined to produce it. There was a general non possumus. The absolute absurdity of the position taken up by Sir John is. proved by the fact that this afternoon, with thegreatest possible difficulty, I have secured a copy of Major-General SirEdward Hutton’s report, which is stated to be in print, but which honorable senators are absolutely debarred from obtaining. It has been carefully arranged that two copies only should be handed round, as available for both Houses of Parliament, although’ the report has been in print since yesterday morning. In spite of applications which have been made every hour by messenger to all the offices connected with this Parliament which deal with parliamentary papers, I have been unable to secure a copy for myself. That is an example of the way in which parliamentary business is conducted by this. Government ! Leaving that on one side,. I find that Sir Edward Hutton, in his report which is . dated in May last, gives under separate headings the detailed heads of the very information for which I have been asking. It was only necessary in accordance with my motion that the sub-headings should have been supplied - that is to say, the small items which in bulk go to make up the total figure, which is here supplied in two different forms and in two different schedules. But I venture to say that because it was I who made the application for the information, it was refused. I have no doubt myself that had the information been asked for by an honorable senator on the other side of the Chamber it would undoubtedly have been forthcoming. There is nothing confidential about this information - absolutely nothing. The Postmaster-General the other day said, “ Is it natural that the Government would lay before Parliament this confidential information and expose to the enemy our position 1 “ Those are not his actual words, tout are the purport of what he said.
– I did not know what information the honorable senator was asking for.
– But the POSt.masterGeneral had it in print. .Am I to assume that the honorable and learned senator does not read the questions and notices of motion which we frame with very great care, which are printed and placed upon the table, and to which lie gives us replies ? If so, he is reducing parliamentary government to a farce. The Postmaster-General does not appear to have even read the question I put.
– I read the question and heard the honorable senator’s speech.
– Then the PostmasterGeneral must not have understood the question. The simplest interrogatory would have elicited from me an explanation, and I could have made clear what I wanted.
– lt might have been supposed that the honorable senator was asking for something which would not be found in the annual report.
– The PostmasterGeneral is right ; I was asking for something which I did not think would be found in the ordinary annual report, and the fact that it was there found is the justification for my having asked for the information. I do not intend to take up f further time, because, as I said before, I mean to submit a motion at a later stage. I trust that honorable senators who have fault to find with the Department will support me when I move for an amplification of this report
– Then the honorable senator has not got what he wanted?
– Undoubtedly I have not; but I hope to get it now, if the Postmaster-General understands what I want.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).A few weeks ago, in reply to a question, the Postmaster-General said he expected that the Post-office and Custom-house buildings in Hobart would be opened at the beginning of the new financial year. I see no provision in the Estimates for the purpose and I should be glad to be informed if any money is available for furnishing the Postoffice and Custom-house in Hobart. As to what Senator Keating said on a previous occasion about alterations in the communication with Tasmania, I hope the Postmaster-General will consult the public good, and that the special restrictions in force in Victoria against vessels coming from infected ports will be taken into consideration.
– I have been requested by an elector in Tasmania to ask the Postmaster-General if there is any rule as to uniformity in telephone rates. This gentleman was recently staying at Murrumbeena, about eight miles from Melbourne, and was able to telephone to the city for 3d. a message, whereas, at Sandy Bay, a mile south of Hobart, where he is at present, he finds that the charge is sixpence for a message to the latter city. If the rates are not uniform, the elector would like to know why.
. reference to the complaint made by Senator Neild as to funds not being available for regimental purposes, I find that on the 17th July instructions were sent to the General Officer Commanding in New South Wales authorizing him, pending the submission to Parliament of the Estimates, to place to the credit of the commanding officer of each corps what is called a sub-advance for expenses. If those instructions have not been complied with it is probably because the General Officer Commanding is waiting for the money to be made available by means of this Supply Bill. Undoubtedly, these instructions will be carried out. In regard to the allotment of the clothing fund of £21,000, a recommendation was received on the 20th July from the General Officer Commanding in New South Wales recommending a certain method. That recommendation will be carried out, but there has not been time to give effect to it up to the present. -
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - PostmasterGeneral). - Senator Neild desired sired to know why a letter from the Postal Department is carried without a stamp, whereas when he writes officially to the Department he has to stamp the communication. The reason is that under section 32 of the Post and Telegraph Act the official correspondence of the Department is carried free.
– Then the section was a blunder.
– It is a section which is, T believe, to be found in every Postal
Act in the world ; and I think it right to give this explanation so that it may be understood the Department is not breaking the law. In reply to other questions, I may say that we are at present paying £6,000 a year for -the Carpentaria mail service under a contract for three years. I remember all the circumstances under which the contract was made, and it was impossible to get a proper service and reasonable accommodation for passengers at a lower rate. The Maranoa, I know from personal experience, is a very comfortable steamer.
– I referred to the launch and lighter work.
– We make a contract with the shipping company to carry the mails according to a certain time-table, and we stipulate that a steamer of a certain character shall be run, so as to insure the comfort of passengers. But we cannot go further and stipulate as to the methods by which bullocks shall be landed and taken on board. I know it is inconvenient that at some of these ports vessels cannot go alongside the jetties, and cargo should have to be discharged by lighter. I have suffered a great deal of inconvenience myself, but I do not see how we can, at reasonable expense, insist on the service being carried out in a way that will be unobjectionable in every respect. The service has been well carried out so far as the mails are concerned, and I never before heard any complaint from passengers by the Maranoa. In reply to Senator Pearce, I may say that there is a considerable difficulty in allowing the retirement of the Deputy Postmaster - General of Western Australia, three years before the time at which he can claim a pension. The Constitution Act provides for the distribution of the burden entailed by the payment of pensions, and section 84 is as follows : -
Any such officer who is retained in the service of the Commonwealth shall preserve all his existing and accruing rights, and shall be entitled to retire from office at the time, and on the pension or retiring allowance which would be permitted by the law of the State if his service with the Commonwealth were a continuation of hia service with the State. Such pension or retiring allowance shall be paid to him by the Commonwealth ; but the State shall pay to the Commonwealth a part thereof, to be calculated on the proportion which his term of office with the State bears to his whole term of service, and for the purpose of the calculation his salary shall be taken to be that paid to him by the State at the time of the transfer.
I have read also the clause in the PublicService Act to which my attention was directed by Senator Pearce ; but I think a difficulty would arise in charging Mr. Sholl’s pension to the State if we allowed him toretire before the time.
– Under the bookkeeping clause of the Constitution the pension would be debited to the State, even if the Commonwealth had to pay the whole of it.
– Under section 84 of the Constitution, we cannot debit the pension to the State as transferred expenditure. We have to debit to the State the proportion, whatever it may be, according to the term of office, in case of an officer retiring at the time when, according to the law of the State, he may retire. I am inclined to think that at present there would be considerable danger in allowing Mr. Sholl to retire.
– There has not been a final decision 1
– No, but that is a view taken at the present time, though I’ shall be happy to look into the matter again. Senators O’Keefe and Macfarlane directed my attention to a matter which had previously been brought under my notice by Senator Keating, and I told the latter gentleman that I would give full attention to both sides. I recognise that it is a matter of great importance, and I have gone so far as to make inquiry of the shipping company who are doing the work, as to whether they would be prepared, if requested, to make the alteration in regard to the delivery of mails. But I know there is considerable opposition to such’ an alteration, and, while I shall endeavour to conserve the interests of the public, my feeling is that I would not be justified in making an alteration in a contract unless a very strong case were made out in support of such a step. The matter is now under consideration, and I have representations from both sides - from those who desire the alteration and from those who do not.
– It is quarantine in Victoria that causes the difficulty.
– Yes; I know how the difficulty arises, and I think I also know the reasons for the objection to the suggested alteration. In reply to Senator Zeal, I pointed out, by way of interjection when he was speaking, that the amounts for contingencies asked for in the schedule are simply a small portion, about one-sixth, of the amounts asked for on the Estimates. If Senator Zeal turns to the schedule he will see, for instance, in division 95, a comparatively small amount for contingencies in the State of New South Wales ; but in the Estimates he will find the particular items grouped as contingencies, amounting in that State to £135,000. These -contingencies consist of maintenance, of telegraph and telephone wires, instruments, uniforms for officials, arid fifty different items, which are all set out under their respective subheads in the Estimates ; and the amount asked for now is simply two months’ supply on that basis. As to the Fremantle .Post-office, I am well aware that the accommodation is insufficient. Representations have been made to me, and I have made inquiries ; and I find that, in order to give satisfaction to the people, it would be necessary to obtain a new site, and build a new office. No alteration or repairs to old buildings would meet1 requirements, and a considerable amount of money, would be necessary to purchase a site, and a still larger amount for the erection of an office. After a great deal of consideration I came to the conclusion, especially as all works now have to be constructed out of revenue, that we should not be justified this year in providing for a new office at Fremantle.’ To-day .1 have heard for the first time of undermanning in the Customs Department, and I shall make representations in the proper quarter in order to see whether anything can be done to remove the cause of complaint. I could not quite follow Senator Matheson, because I thought, first of all, that his great point was that the Government were wrong in refusing him this particular information, because he subsequently found it in the report of the General Officer Commanding.
– There are no subheads.
– When I am proceeding on that basis, the honorable member suddenly turns round on me and says that we have not given him what he wants. My view, when we had a short discussion on this matter before, was that he was certainly putting forward a very alarmist view - not a very alarming view - on the ground that some information had not been supplied.
-That was because the Minister refused to supply information.
– :From the honorable senator’s manner of presenting his case, I naturally thought that he must be asking for some information that no Government would feel justified in publishing to the world. It turns out, however, that it was some ordinary information, which is, or should be, contained in the annual report. I am sorry that the honorable senator has not offered any word of thankfulness to me and others for the efforts we have made to get this information for him.
– There has been no evidence.
– I have been trying to press on the production of the report. I told the honorable senator that it would be laid upon the table, and I think he was also informed of the reason why there had been some little delay. If the statement was not made in the Senate, it was made in the other House.
– The report was sent back for alteration.
– No ; it was sent back in order that further information should be supplied in regard to a particular paragraph, and that involved some delay. As soon as the report was available it was laid on the table of the Senate and circulated. I have been able this evening to lay upon the table the’ scheme of reorganization by the General Officer Commanding, so that I think all the military information which could properly belaid before Parliament has been submitted. I hope that honorable senators will take an early opportunity of acquainting themselves with the facts, because, if we are to have a discussion on the subject, it is much better that honorable senators should possess a full knowledge of the facts. Senator Macfarlane asked for some information about the furnishing of the Customs-house and Post-office at Hobart. If he will turn to pages 25 and 26 of the Estimates, he will find an item which includes the cost of furnishing those buildings. Senator Dobson asked me a question about telephones. We recently reduced the telephone rate in the towns from 6d. to 3d. a message. It is a very low rate indeed, and I am very happy to say that in Victoria the revenue has increased. That is a very comforting result. On the whole, the reduction has been attended with very satisfactory results, but still we have to make a limit. I am not quite sure, but I think it is 4 miles.
– Murrumbeena is 8 miles from the city of Melbourne, while Sandy Bay is only a mile south of Hobart.
– I am not acquainted with the locality, but I shall make inquiry. The general explanation is that the rate has been reduced to 3d. within the towns, and remains at 6d. outside the towns. I think I have dealt with all the matters which have been referred to during the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £595,659).
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by reducing the amount of £595,659 by £1.
I move this request in order to bring the grievance I have prominently under the notice of the Government, and, if possible, by a vote of the Committee, to compel them . to give that information to which it is undoubtedly entitled. I do not wish to go over the whole subject again, because I had a good deal to say last month. But I must recapitulate to a certain extent what I then said, because the Postmaster-General by the few remarks he made just now evidently does not understand what the trouble is.
– Does anybody else ?
-I fancy that this evening it will be made apparent that a majority in the Chamber understand what I am driving at, though of course I cannot be sure of that. The position is that at a banquet in Adelaide, the General Officer Commanding made certain statements about the equipment of the forces, which were brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence. According to the newspaper, the General Officer Commanding said -
He thought it necessary to point out in the mildest sort of way that arailway for defence purposes was of little use unless they had a defence force to send to the outlying parts of the country. They must first have a military force that could be moved, and a’ military force that was properly equipped and armed and well trained. Those elements were to a large extent wanting, particularly in the State of South Australia. Some of the states in Australia were absolutely destitute of military equipment of any adequate kind.
These statements were sufficiently . serious to justify correspondents of the press interviewing the Minister, and his replies to their inquiries showed a most startling divergence of opinion between the military expert whom we pay to advise us and the political expert at the head of the Department. The report in the newspaper reads as follows : -
Sir John Forrest does not altogether subscribe to Sir Edward Hutton’s sweeping assertion that our forces are “ destitute of adequate equipment.” Parliament has not voted large supplies for field guns and other artillery during the last two years. . . . The Minister says - “There are 13,000 Lee-Enfield and other magazine rifles already in the Commonwealth. In addition, there are 7,000 more modern magazine rifles now on their way to our shores. “
– The Minister said in the other Chamber that he was going to arm them with pickaxes.
– I do not wish to go into side issues ; I desire to keep as strictly as possible to the main point, although the honorable senator is undoubtedly right in what he says. The matter was undoubtedly serious, because at that moment we were engaged in discussing other channels by which money was to be spent for defence purposes. I judged that it was absolutely essential that the Senate should possess the fullest information on the state of our land defences before it dealt with the question of naval defences. Therefore I went round to the Postmaster-General and showed him a motion that I proposed to give notice of, and asked him whether it would not be possible to treat it as purely formal. It was simply -
That the Senate desire the Minister for Defence to instruct Sir Edward Hutton to prepare immediately for the information of Parliamenta full and detailed statement of the armament and. equipment required for the military forces of the Commonwealth as at present constituted , pointing out specifically in what respect they are already efficient, and where they are inadequate ; and dealing with each State individually.
It was obvious that if the General Officer Commanding held strong views of this description it would be easy for him to supply the necessary information. The PostmasterGeneral referred the motion to the Minister for Defence, who sent back a memorandum to the effect that it was to be treated as non-formal, and that the debate must be postponed until I could bring it forward in the ordinary course of business. Senator Drake, in dealing with the matter at a later date, pointed out that I had the same opportunity as other senators had of bringing my motion forward on private members’ day. The Government now seek to deprive us of that opportunity. “Whether their action is justifiable or not I do not propose to discuss, bub the fact remains that the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave notice to-day of a motion to the effect that private members’ day should be swept away.
– N - No ; that next Friday should be taken for Government business.
– I understood the honorable and learned senator to say that every Friday would be taken. After all, it will not help me very much, because I want to get the information immediately, and I think the Senate is entitled to have it supplied immediately, and in the ordinary course of business my motion could not come on for six weeks. I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the dates, because they are very significant. Since I moved in this matter last month, the General. Officer Commanding has had a report printed and laid on the table of the Senate, in connexion with the construction of a railway to Western Australia. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that this report, which is dated 14th May, was in the hands of the Minister when he answered the question which was put to him at a. later date. The General Officer Commanding wrote as follows : -
It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requsite strength organized and capable of taking the field does not at present exist in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force. The organization is wanting ; the departments necessary for a mobile army have yet to be created ; and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition available. It will therefore be seen that the construction of the railway as contemplated would under existing circumstances confer no advantage to Australia in its present condition of military disorganization and unpreparedness. The most that could be expected from the military situation at present existing would be the concentration of a certain number of armed men, who without adequate organization, administrative departments, or the required equipment, would bo quite incapable of coping with even an inferior number of an invader’s troops carefully trained, organized, and equipped with the latest modern appliances, as they unquestionably would be.
I lay particular stress on that statement, because when I had done speaking on the previous occasion the Postmaster-General rose and said that I had made several very alarmist statements, but that being without official information he could not say how far they were accurate, and how far they were imaginative. I attach the very greatest importance to that as an official document, because Sir J ohn Forrest, when I last spoke in this way, had - I do not know whether it would be parliamentary to say the “impudence,” but at all events he had the temerity to say that my statements were romances. That is a very serious statement to make, because, as I had pointed out to the Senate, my statements were based upon official information.
– What is a romance? Is it not a fiction founded upon fact ?
– I should like to know Senator Drake’s authority for that definition, because I have always understood that romances are fictions which are certainly not founded upon fact. Whatever may be the honorable and learned senator’s view, what the public understand by a romance is, to put it perfectly frankly, a lie. I have no objection to calling a spade a spade, and that is what Sir John Forrest intended should be understood when he made the statement that my observations were romances. That is the position. I do not mind it, because honorable senators and the public know Sir John Forrest. They know the bluff, hearty way in which he says anything. He does not mean the things he says, but they require to be contradicted. Now, we have that document dated the 14th May. Another document has come into my hands this evening. That document is the annual report of Major-General Hutton to the Defence Department. It is dated the 1st May. We were informed, in reply to a question, that this document did not reach the Department until the 2nd June. If I am wrong in that statement, then the official answer to a question is wrong. I assume that this document has been in the hands of Sir John Forrest since 2nd June. This is the report of the General Officer Commanding for this year, and it is not an ancient document. I call the attention of honorable senators to what the General Officer Commanding says here, in paragraph 13 -
The military stores and equipment are in a most unsatisfactory condition throughout the Commonwealth, and the situation can only b& viewed with the gravest concern. Modern equipment for cavalry, artillery, and infantry (a proportion of rifles for the troops on their peace establishment, and a small proportion of field gnus excepted) may be regarded as non-existent.
I desire honorable senators to understand what that means. I appeal to the POSt.masterGeneral to say whether I have said anything which is half so cutting or so severe as these statements by Major-General Hutton? When I dealt with the question, I referred only to certain Departments and their equipment, or lack of equipment, and I individualized those Departments. We have here a statement from the General Officer Commanding that the entire equipment, with the exception of a proportion of rifles for troops on their peace establishment, and a very small proportion of field-guns, may be regarded as non-existent. I have not had time to read this document through, but I have picked out one or two salient references here and there. I find that the General Officer Commanding goes on to say-
The invasion of Australia for purposes of territorial aggression is, under certain possible circumstances, a military undertaking of no serious difficulty ; but it could and would only be undertaken by a large force of the most highly trained and best-equipped troops which an enemy, or a combination of enemies, could place in the field. Military operations against such a foe could only be successfully carried out by troops well organized, ably led, and thoroughly equipped. Armed men without previous and effective organization, without capable and experienced leaders, and unprovided with modern and adequate equipment, would be able to effect little against such a force.
It is in the face of those two statements that we find the head of the Military Department, as pointed out to the Senate just now, informing correspondents in the press -
Sir John Forrest does not altogether subscribe to Sir Edward’s Hutton’s sweeping assertion that our forces are destitute of adequate equipment.
That is the point I. desire to raise. Here we have an absolute statement reiterated in public, and in official reports that the force is destitute of equipment.
– Does the General Officer Commanding in the report laid on the table to-night indicate in what respects the force is deficient in equipment ?
– I shall come to that in a moment. We have the right honorable gentleman who is in control of the Department entirely at variance with his adviser, and saying that everything is rose-coloured.
– Did’ he not say that he did not altogether agree with Major-General Hutton 1 What does the honorable senator quote from ?
– I quote from the Argun of 24th June. I know the honorable and learned senator desires to be accurate, and I find that the statement made is that -
Sir John Forrest does not altogether subscribe to Sir Edward Hutton’s sweeping assertion that our forces are destitute of adequate equipment.
– It seems to me that that is not a quotation of what Sir John Forrest said, but that it is what the Argus said.
– The Argus quotes Sir John Forrest’s statement. I infer that a representative of the Argus approached Sir John Forrest, and he expanded to the interviewer. The interviewer then went home, and produced this report of the interview.
– That is the opinion of the Argus reporter ?
– It is the impression with which the Argus reporter left Sir John after the interview. Senator Drake is very captious about this matter, but in support of the statement I may inform him that another interviewer, representing the Age newspaper, interviewed Sir John Forrest on the same day, and carried away the same impression. It must be borne in mind that General Hutton’s speech was made on the 22nd J une, and it was on the 23rd June that Sir John Forrest discussed these matters with representatives of the press. Then on the 25th June he answered same questions which, I being ill, were put to the Postmaster-General on my behalf by Senator Smith. One of the questions asked was this -
Is the Government aware that in April, 1002, Sir Edward Hutton reported officially that the equipment of the Commonwealth troops was inadequate and incomplete in every particular ; and that he has recently stated in Adelaide that some of the States are still absolutely destitute of any adequate military equipment.
The answer given to that question was as follows : -
Major-General Sir Edward Hutton’s report was placed before Parliament on the 23rd April, 1902. The Department has no official information as to what the General Officer Commanding said in Adelaide.
I appeal to the Senate to say whether that is not trifling with questions put to a responsible Minister? Is it worth our while to come here day after day to carry on the country’s business if we are tohave the Minister for Defence snapping his fingers at us in this way? No doubt the Postj master-General will say that that was a literal reply to the question. It will be seen that Sir John Forrest says that the Department had no official information of what the G eneral Officer Commanding said in Adelaide, but heappears to have had sufficient information to discuss it with the representatives of the press, and with anybody who went into his office two days previously. I say that if the right honorable gentleman had sufficient information to discuss the question with representatives of the press, he had sufficient information to discuss it with Parliament, and he should have given Parliament what information he could upon a subject in which the whole of the people of the Commonwealth are interested. That, however, is not the fashion in the Defence Department, which appears to be constituted for the purpose of locking up every piece of information and every report that can possibly be hidden, in order that we may be kept in a state of blind ignorance as to the peril and risks we are running. I desire here to make a small correction in connection with what I said on the last occasion. I quoted Sir Edward Hutton as saying - “Troops in this condition are a mischievous delusion and a hollow sham.” Later on, when Sir Edward Hutton had seen the Hansard report, he rang me up on the telephone and asked me to be good enough to correct the quotation on the first opportunity. I promised him I would do so. I am extremely sorrow thatI quoted Sir Edward Hutton as saying that the troops were a hollow sham. The words “hollow sham “ are, as a matter of fact, taken from another report on the Defence force, not by Sir Edward Hutton. I shall quote the exact words used by Sir Edward Hutton in order that they may be recorded in Hansard.
They will be found in the report of the General Officer Commanding, laid on the table of the House last session, and dated 7th April, 1902. He says-
There is in all the States a complete absence of any modern infantry equipment, and only a small percentage of magazine rifles are available. The equipment of the mounted troops is equally incomplete, and only a small and quite inadequate supply of military saddles is available. The harness equipment and guns for field artillery are quite unequal to modern demands. A very small and quite inadequate quantity of field engineer or field hospital equipment is available. Camp equipment and blankets are also inadequate. The supply of ammunition is in a very seriously defective condition. It will be obvious, therefore, that a very considerable outlay in equipment is imperative. Troops without efficient and sufficient arms, ammunition and equipmentare useless for the purpose for which they exist and. are therefore a mischievous delusion. The condition of the forces of the six States is very diverse. In some instances arms and equipment are either obsolete or worn out, while in others deficiencies are comparatively small.
That was an official statement made by Sir Edward Hutton in 1902. The Senate has just heard his official statement for 1903, and I submit that he confirms in every particular every statement I made the other evening. There were two points upon which I specially called the attention of the Senate to the fact that I had not official authority for my statements. One was the statement I made in connexion with the battery at Albany. I stated that one of the batteries at Albany was practically a shell-trap. As honorable senators doubtless remember, that statement was pooh-poohed, and Sir John Forrest apparently communicated with Major-General Hutton with a view to ascertain whether it was accurate. He probably thought that this was one of my romances. I supply Major-General Hutton’s answer by an extract from the press. Senator Drake will probably desire to know that, as he will very likely contend that it is therefore inaccurate-
– Did I do that ?
– I think I am justified in forecasting what the honorable and learned senator is likely to say a little later on.
– What I objected to was an impression derived by somebody being quoted as something which Sir John Forrest said.
– As I have said before, the honorable and learned senator doubts the accuracy of the press. Either Sir John Forrest made the statement attributed to him, or he did not. The press says he did.
– No; they do not in that case. They said that Sir John Forrest does not altogether agree.
– The press said that Sir John Forrest disagreed, which is very much the same as saying that he did hot agree. This is what the press reports on the fort at Albany -
Yesterday the G.O.C. replied by telegram from Sydney, stating that he was fully aware of the point raised by Senator Matheson, and had con.sidered it when inspecting the Albany defences.Tlie message concluded - “ I consider the danger suggested is relatively insignificant.”
And then the Age comments -
It would be interesting to get on interpretation of this very ambiguous explanation. “ Relatively insignificant “ is not a reassuring expression iti such a connexion.
I submit that in my statement in that direction I have been fully borne out by this reference which Sir John Forrest made to the General Officer Commanding. The other statement I made was that there was no provision for the defence of the minefield at Albany, and that the submarine miners whom the Commonwealth are under contract with the Imperial Government to keep at Albany, do not form part of the garrison at that fort. As the Minister for Defence has not taken the trouble to refer that question to Major-General Hutton, in order to get me contradicted - because this was one of my “ romances “ - I take it that I may fairly assume that I was completely justified in making that statement, which at this moment I believe to be absolutely true. Now I will go a step further and inform the Committee that at Albany they have not even got an electric search-light. Any one who knows anything about forts is aware that a fort without search-lights is about as bad as a fort without any guns. The guns were provided for a specific purpose in this case, not to keep off cruisers, but to prevent countermining by torpedo boats. The defence of Albany really relies upon submarine mines. I know that the experts cannot contradict this - indeed, it is in the official reports. “What happens is this. The torpedo boats come in at night, which is the time best suitable for their operations. They sneak in under cover of the shore, countermine with torpedoes, and blow up your mine-fields, so rendering it possible for the enemy’s ships to come into the harbor. The only means of defence to prevent that is to have a search-light so as to be able to see the torpedo boats coming in, and to shoot at them with your guns - if you have any ammunition ! So that Albany without a search-light is in a worse position than Albany without guns, or at any rate in as bad a position.
– It is like a pedestrian without legs !
– The present position of affairs is this : Sir Edward Hutton, in his report, states that we require £480,000 to be spent on equipment and armament to make these forts of any use whatever. Without this expenditure our forts are useless. In his report for the year 1902, Sir Edward Hutton laid stress on this point, and said that the expenditure must be immediate. It is perfectly obvious that it is no use paying the wages of men month by month and year by year if, when the stress of fighting comes, they have no equipment, no arms, and no ammunition. The position of Australia under those circumstances would be like the position of a mine manager who engaged a certain number of hands, but never bought any dynamite. The men would simply, drill a few holes, and then sit on top of the shaft and do no work. Our troops are useless if they have no equipment, and in their present condition they are absolutely useless. Sir Edward Hutton, in his 1902 report, said that the equipment must be immediate, but in this year’s report we find - personally I have no doubt whatever about it - that Sir Edward Hutton has been obliged by the Department to split up the expenditure over four years. As a result we discover that Sir George Turner, if there be any sense in the arrangement at all, practically guarantees us universal peace for four years !
– No ; he spreads it over ten years.
– No ; I understand that Sir George Turner stated that the Government desired to spend this money in four instalments of £125,000 each. He said that this year they were spending so much money in other directions - of course, I should add to that remark that they are paying £94,000 extra in naval tribute - that he can only provide £75,000 in the year, and he th rows tthe balance, £7 5 , 00 0, on to some f uture financial year, which he does not specify. So that the position is that for the next four years our troops will be without equipment and without arms. That statement is absolutely borne out by other parts of Sir Edward Hutton’s report. I have not marked the passages in the copy which I am using, because it is an official copy, and I cannot find the passages at the moment ; but, if honorable senators will turn to the report when they obtain copies, they will find that my statement is fully borne out. Under these circumstances, I think it is a perfectly fair thing to ask that the Seriate should be furnished with the sub-headings that go to make up this amount of £450,000, so that we may know, when we come to discuss the question seriously, exactly what armament and equipment have to be purchased.
– Are not those particulars given in the report?
– The information in the report is given under nine different headings. It is in Appendices E and F on page 53 of Sir Edward Button’s report. Each of the items is followed by a total which is split up into four years. To be able to discuss this vote intelligently we want to obtain the sub-heads of each article of equipment and armament that go to make up the principal heads. There is no doubt that that information is in the possession of the department. It is not confidential information. It is not information that cannot be divulged. It could be laid upon the table of the Senate to-morrow if the Minister for Defence had not taken up the obstinate attitude which he has done on this question. That brings me to the object of my motion. I am determined, if I possibly can, to get this information for Parliament and for the country ; because, unless Parliament and the country have the information, they will never realize the position in which we stand.
– Do I understand that the object of the honorable senator’s motion is to anticipate the notice of motion standing on the business-paper?
– What I want is to force upon the attention of the Government the fact that we intend to obtain this information if we can possibly get it. This is the only way in which we can bring pressure to bear upon the Government. There is a motion of mine upon the paper, but it is in a situation in which it can never be effective. The Government have taken good care of that-. My motion could have been discussed one Friday afternoon, but the Government then were not prepared to go on with their own business, and moved the adjournment of the Senate. I was ready to proceed; but found myself deprived of an afternoon which might have been profitably employed in discussing this very interesting question. It must be clear that my hands, and the hands of the Senate, are absolutely tied unless we take some steps to inforce our grievances upon the Government. I do not think I can say anything to strengthen the position which I have taken up, or to make it clearer. I trust that I have made the subject quite plain. I want information of which the Government has given us the principal heads, but not the sub-heads. Without those sub-heads it is impossible to discuss this question intelligently. That is what I wish to convey to the Government by my motion to reduce the vote by £1.
– I think that the honorable senator has now made his meaning clear. I am glad that he has withdrawn the expression “hollow sham.” It shows how careful a man ought to be when he reads something in a newspaper, and is not quite sure to whom a particular expression applies. I can quite understand that the honorable senator had read somewhere an, expression which had got into his mind, and that he thought he was quoting from the General Officer Commanding. Now he finds that that is an error. It shows that when a man reads something in a newspaper concerning an impression that a reporter carries away after interviewing a Minister, he should be careful when he quotes what he has read as to whether he is giving us what the Minister says, or whether it is not simply an impression that he has got from the report of the interview.
– In other words, you believe that all newspapers are liars?
– That does not follow ; and I am sorry the honorable senator should draw such a conclusion from what I said. I am not at all satisfied in my mind that my colleague said that he entirely disagreed with the General Officer Commanding. My belief is that what the Minister for Defence said, was that he did not altogether agree with the General Officer Commanding ; and if a Minister at the head of a Department does not exactly agree with his principal officer, why should he not be at liberty to do so ? The General Officer Commanding is the military adviser, and no doubt would be inclined to err, if at all, on the side of safety. It is common for military advisers to suggest that the position is not exactly as it should , be, and that a large expenditure is’ needed. That is much safer than erring in the other direction, because if anything should happen, an adviser who had suggested there was no necessity for great expenditure would be in a considerably worse position than one who had advised a large expenditure, which, however, had not been approved by the Minister. The General Officer Commanding advised that for armament and equipment a sum of £486,000 should be spent over a term of four years, or at the rate of £120,000 per annum. The Government propose to ask Parliament to vote £75,000, so that the point is the difference between those two sums. I shall show from the Estimates directly how it is proposed to spend the £75,000, and that ought to be a sufficient answer, for all practical purposes, to the request of Senator Matheson to have the sub-heads under which the details of the £4S6,000 are grouped.
– We want the fullest information.
– The General Officer Commanding has said in his latest report that the present position with regard to armament and equipment is most unsatisfactory.
– There is not any.
– “Most unsatisfactory” is the expression I took from the report, relying on the usual accuracy of Senator Matheson in his quotations. Let me point out that the previous report which Senator Matheson read - for what purpose T do not exactly know - was the report for last year, in which it was said there was a complete absence of modern infantry equipment, the reference being particularly to modern magazine rifles.
– Rifles are not equipment.
– But since that time 7,000 rifles have been obtained and distributed, so that the state of things last year does not exist now. It comes to this, then, that the General Officer Commanding says that there is a deficiency in the armament and equipment and, erring on the safe side, advises an expenditure of £120,000 per annum for four years.
– What does the Postmaster-General mean by “erring on the safe side 1 “
– I mean that the responsibility is put on the General Officer Commanding of advising the Government in the direction of making sufficient provision for any possible contingency ; but the General Officer Commanding has not tocome and ask Parliament to vote the money. The difficulty always has been in asking Parliament to make the necessary provision. Previous to Federation, in all the States it was the practice to procure armament and equipment out of loan money, of .which there was plenty and it was freely expended. Since Federation, however - whether rightly or wrongly we need not now discuss - there has been no loan money, and everything has to be provided out of revenue. Some of the States are in such a position as regards revenue, that their Treasurers are continually asking the Commonwealth Government not to incur unnecessary expenditure. When the Government ask Parliament to vote .money for military purposes, there is a tendency to cut down expenditure, and pressure in the same direction is exerted by the StatesTreasurers. What does the Government try to do 1 We try to cut down the Estimates, and ask only for that which we consider to be absolutely indispensable.
– Then the Government take the responsibility.
– The Government is certainly responsible to Parliament for the expenditure proposed, and for the endeavour to procure such military armament and equipment as may be considered necessary.
– We want to know what armament and equipment we are doing without ?
– The difference so far as the amount is concerned is as between £120,000 per annum and £75,000 per annum.
– But that is not my point.
– From the financial point of view, it is the whole point.
– The whole point is to have an explanation of the deficiency, so that we may see what is happening.
– The honorable senator desires to know .what it is we particularly require t
– The total amount we propose to spend is £75,000, and I shall show the way in which we propose to spend it. On arms, rifles, pistols, and reserve of ammunition we propose to spend £30,000. I am quoting from page 183 of the Estimates laid on the table. On equipment of forces, and requirements to arm and equip field artillery, £22,000 ; gun mountings, Fremantle, £5,000; and fixed defences, reserve of artillery ammunition, £13,000. That makes £70,000 under the heading of military, and on the naval side it is proposed to expend £5,000 this year as an instalment of the £20,000 necessary for re-arming the Cerberus.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral not see that none of these items include equipment?
– I suppose the honorable senator by “equipment” means belts, bandoliers, and articles of that character?
-Col. Neild. - That is correct.
– If Australia is ever invaded, we shall not “ go down “ for want of such things. If we have proper arms and ammunition to put into the hands of our men, we shall not be unsafe. I quite understand the desirability of getting what is more particularly called equipment, though I should prefer to see articles under that head manufactured in Australia rather than imported from abroad. But when we are dealing with the element of safety - and that is what Senator Matheson has harped on most strongly - I do not see how an argument against the Government can be drawn from the fact that we propose to spend £75,000 on arms and ammunition, which we cannot make for ourselves, rather than on equipment which, though perhaps not of the regular military character, we could provide for ourselves. .
– Can the PostmasterGeneral give the items which were eliminated from the suggestions of the General Officer Commanding?
– I am afraid I cannot do that.
– That is one of the things we want to know : the items embraced in the £486,000.
– The honorable senator wants to know what items the Government picked out?
– Exactly ; we want to know as much as the Government know.
– The Senate can judge as to whether the articles I have mentioned are the most likely to be required.
– We do not know what the other articles were.
– Are they not in the report which the honorable senator has ?
– No, they are not.
– In appendix E to the report I see -
Warlike stores : Summary of requirements for peace and war establishments. - Fixed defences (primary armament) artillery ammunition up to 200 rounds per gun, £13,040 : gun mountings at Fremantle, £5,000; arms, accoutrements, camp equipment, saddlery, &c, £230,281.
These are nearly all articles which, though possibly not of the proper military character, might be manufactured in Australia at any time.
– No doubt ; but where is the money to pay for them?
– If we were to ask Parliament to vote . £230,000 for arms, accoutrements, equipment, and saddlery, would that amount be voted?
– Is that the exact figure which the Government expunged from the estimate of the General Officer Commanding?
– No ; the Government are asking for £30,000 for arms, rifles, pistols, and reserve ammunition. The General Officer Commanding in his report suggested the following expenditure : -
Field artillery, £169,655 ; carriages for guns of position, £2,250 ; field engineers’ equipment, £6,216 ; machine guns, £40,266 ; medical stores, £19,575- total, £486,283.
Surely that is all the information the Senate requires.
– I want the subheads which go to make the principal heads.
– What sub-heads does the honorable senator require ?
– If the honorable and learned gentleman were a business man he would know.
– I myself should call these sub-heads ; and I have read out the amounts which the General Officer Commanding put against them. I hope the Senate will take it from me that these are the sub-heads which make up the amount of £486,000. I do not think that Parliament has ever been furnished with fuller information on a subject of the sort. Senator Matheson may have thought that he had previously some grounds for his demand for further information, but I do not think there is any justification for his asking for more than has now been supplied.
– The information given is useless for the purpose of debate.
– The information appears to me very full. There is the report of the General Officer Commanding recommending an expenditure of £486,000, and in the Estimates we have the different sub-heads, under which the Government propose that the £7 5,000, if voted, shall be spent.
– There need not be any reticence on the part of the Government in giving the fullest possible information on any matter connected with the defences. The disposition of every roan in the defence force, under the scheme approved by the Governor in Council the other day, has been published in the daily press, so that every enemy of the country, supposing we have any, may know the exact ‘ strength of every corps, company, regiment, and unit in every district in the Commonwealth. In view of that most extraordinary disclosure in the press, I see no reason for any reticence whatever as to stores. I own that the information which the Postmaster-General has dug out’ of the Estimates .has, to some extent, cut the ground from under Senator Matheson’s feet. I think that the demand which is made for further information than that given in the Estimates is really not necessary. Because it appears to me that minute details would not be appreciated by anybody except the commanding officer of a unit or regiment. It could not possibly be of value to any one who had not a technical knowledge if the items were divided any more fully than they are divided in the Estimates which Senator Drake has read. I own that I intended to support Senator Matheson, but in view of that detailed information which has just been given, I do not see the need for reducing the amount. I am entirely in agreement with his quotations from the speeches of the General Officer Commanding with reference to the subject of equipment. I would point out that the proposed vote for this year is not to provide a penny for equipment or accoutrements. The sum of £75,000 is to be spent on arms. What is the use of arms if we have nob the equipment or accoutrements, if that term is preferred, to use them? What is the good of giving a man a rifle without a leather sling, or a bayonet without a belt ? We do not buy a rifle with a sling, or a bayonet with a belt, as one article, any more than a shirt is not given in when a pair of trousers is bought. The two things are totally distinct, and are supplied by different contractors. I submit that it is of no earthly use to spend money on bayonets if the men have not the belts to carry them in ; and that to give a man a rifle without the accompanying sling prevents him from using the rifle in many of the ways, in which he is taught to use it. Even such elementary equipment as stretchers for carrying the wounded does not exist. We had an elaborate scheme published in the Gazette the other day, showing how every portion of the forces throughout the Commonwealth was to be organized, and how there were to be so many stretcher-bearers, per company of 60 men. While we are legislating and have legislated for stretcherbearers, and for their training, we have not,, at any rate in New South Wales, anything’ like a sufficient number of stretchers for use. Are we going, as Senator Drake says, to turn out our defence forces destitute. of the elementary equipment for carrying the cartridges? He does not bother about cartridge pouches. He says we can dowithout these things. Does he suppose that the troops of the Commonwealth are to bike the field, carrying their cartridges in pillow cases Or soojee bags? The idea is as ridiculous as the. proposition that if we have not rifles the Minister will arm the forces “ with pick-axes or something.”
– Better to do that than to be without rifles and ammunition.
.- In the Defence scheme, which was issued the other day, none of the thousands of troops that are designed for the defence of what is called the Sydney fortress - that is, themetropolitan centre of defence - has a valise for carrying his clothing and gear for going into camp. For the last two or three years, when camps have been held, instead of serving out the ordinary military valise, which every soldier ought to have, the menhave been provided with only a couple of canvas haversacks. The Defence force is nothing more nor less than an insurancepolicy. Just tis it is of no use for a man to insure his house in a company that is deficient in the means of paying if there is a fire ; so it is of no use for the Commonwealth to spend £700,000 a year on a defence force which is not sufficiently equipped to be able to take the field ia the event of war, under conditions that are fair to the public and fair to- the men. I am not suggesting that there should be one shilling expended except on matters of the most elementary necessity. I am not asking for salaries, or for uniforms. The uniforms are provided for, and such pay as some portions of the forces get is also provided for. I claim that the urgent demands of the General Officer Commanding should receive more attention than they have received. We employ a highly eminent specialist and professional soldier, at a cost of £2,500 a year, or, with travelling expenses, and the salaries of a special staff - I mean his aide-de-camp and secretary - at a cost of between £4,000 and £5,000. What is the use of spending the money of” the Commonwealth in such a manner, if the most elementary recommendations of this high and .necessarily expensive authority are to receive no attention, and to be only wafted away as a matter of no consequence? That is what I referred to when I said earlier in the evening that the people were not getting the value of their money. Who would pay an expensive medical man for his advice, andnever take the bother to procure the medicine which he ordered ? That is just the position we are in with the General Officer Commanding. What is the good of paying for his prescriptions if we are not going to get the physic which is ordered 1 What is the use of getting these valuable and expensive recommendations if we do not buy the equipment or accoutrement which this high military authority says is absolutely necessary ?
– Right or wrong even ?
.- No. The question is not what class of equipment is to be got, or whether it is to be of this brand or that brand, imported, or home-made ; but that no equipment exists, and that the purchase of some equipment is absolutely needful. Apparently the Government are making no provision for these necessary articles. I am quite in agreement with Senator Drake that it is well to have these things made in the Commonwealth, if it can be done. I have no doubt that a very large proportion of them could be made here. They are not of such a peculiar character that it is needful to import them. My honorable friend must see that they have to be paid for, whether they are made here or imported, and the trouble is that no provision is being made to pay for them. I suppose that two-thirds of these things would not require to be* imported. Stretchers, for instance, do not require to be imported. A stretcher ismade of a few pieces of wood, some canvas, and a bit of leather. But even thesearticles are not provided. There is nomystery about making a military belt, a rifle sling, or a haversack. These could beturned out as rapidly in Australia as they could be imported.
– Are there no patentrights ?
– I do not know that there is a patent connected with a. soldier’s . valise. I think it is too oldfashioned an article to have any protection “of that kind. These articles are eminently necessary if the troops are to take the field. An ammunition pouch is constructed in a. certain way, to enable the rifleman to get outhis cartridges and put them into his. riflemagazine in the shortest time possible. If* men are to fumble about in side pockets orbags to get out their cartridges, what kind of an army would it be ? Would it be fair topit the men of Australia under such circumstances against ‘troops who were perfectly equipped ? Whenever Australia is attacked - and certainly it will be attacked someday - it will be attacked by a highlyequipped foe. It may be perhaps not a very large invading army, but at least it will be well-equipped, and well trained, and it will want nothing that the ingenuity of military science can supply to aid itssuccess. If against an organized force - trained and equipped in the best possible manner known to military science - we are to pit men with rifles without slings, and. bayonets without belts, and cartridges without pouches, what sort of a show could wehave, and what sort of slaughter should we be sending our men to meet? It is on this account that I feel that the Senate and the Commonwealth are under a debt of gratitude to SenatorMatheson for displaying the keen interest which he is taking in a matter certainly of great consequence. Surely a Depart-‘ ment which costs £750,000 a year to the Commonwealth deserves the most seriousand enthusiastic attention of every one interested in the expenditure of public funds % As these particulars have, I think, been given sufficiently fully - : -
– The honorable senator has not seen them yet.
.- No; but I have heard them read. Under the circumstances, I shall not be able to support the honorable senator if he calls for a division, because I think that the information supplied is fairly reasonable.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - -I wish to make it quite clear that the schedule to the Bill is not sufficiently ample. Take the item of £230,000 for arms, accoutrements, camp equipments, and salaries. I wish to know what equipments, arms, saddlery, and accoutrements, in general terms, go to make up that sum ? Again, take the item of £169,000 for field artillery. I wish to know what field artillery is to be bought with that money? For medical stores £20,000 is asked, and we should know in general terms of what these medical stores consist.
– Surely that is not necessary. “ Senator MATHESON.- It is absolutely necessary. They consist in part of medicines, and in part of ambulance equipment and other matters, and these all have reference to Major-General Hutton’s statement that the forces are absolutely without equipment. The first of these recommendations by Major- General Hutton, in 1903-4, embraces all these articles, with a total cost of £125,000. I am only giving this as an example, because I do not limit my demands to this. The Postmaster-General laid some stress upon the £75,000 which the Government proposed to vote out of the £155,000.
– Which we propose to spend if it is voted.
– That is so. We desire to know what the Government in that particular year took out, and what they kept in, so that we may, if we choose, exercise our undoubted right of disagreeing with their decision. We cannot alter the sum total, but I submit that it may be a matter of vital importance to us to reinstate some articles which the Government have struck out, and to strike out some which the Government have included.
– A few corkscrews !
– I do not desire that this matter shall be reduced to ridicule, because, in ray opinion, it is a very serious question indeed. Corkscrews may be necessary articles of the honorable senator’s equipment, but. I do not think they are necessary for the Defence Force. There is nothing whatever to show that the I
General Officer Commanding has had any voice whatever in the reduction of the £125,000 to £75,000.
– Surely we cannot allocate the votes ?
– That is exactly what I think we should do.
– We pay the General Officer Commanding for that work.
– That is exactly what I desire to get at. Our expert has made recommendations, and we have a right to know in detail what he has recommended. The Minister, as the Postmaster-General has fairly pointed out, has only to consider the funds, and he does not care a hang about anything else.
– No ; I said the General Officer Commanding had not to come to Parliament for the money.
– The honorable and learned senator also said that the Minister had to consider the funds when he put the recommendations before Parliament. I accept that as an absolutely correct statement of the situation, and I say that we desire to know what the expert did recommend. Personally, I have no confidence whatever in the discretion of the Minister for Defence. I think the Senate is much more capable of doing what the country desires than is the right honorable gentleman, who is notoriously out of touch with the opinions of the people. In spite of what has been said by Senators Drake and Neild,’ I think we are entitled to more infor- ,mation than is given in this schedule.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to. .
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Drake) read a first time.
The PRESIDENT announced tlie receipt of the following Message -
The House of Representatives request tlie concurrence of the Senate in the following resolution which was agreed to this day by the House of Representatives, namely, “ That this House ratifies an agreement entered into between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Eastern Extension Company, a copy of which was laid on the table of the House on Thursday, 2nd July.”
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 29th July, 1903.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– May I be permitted to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Councilwhen the Government propose to ask the Senate to meet on Tuesday ? I think it would be wise if a statement were made on the subject that honorable senators may be able to make their arrangements accordingly.
. the intention of the Government to consider when Tuesday will be taken, and a statement on the subject will be made tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 July 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030729_senate_1_15/>.