1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD presented two petitions from 78 electors of New South Wales, praying the Senate to prohibit the introduction, manufacture, and sale of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Senator McGREGOR presented a similar petition from 167 electors of South Australia.
Senator BARRETT presented a similar petition from 89 electors of Victoria.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence, without notice, whether it is the intention of the Postal Department to print a Commonwealth stamp which will be available in every State, and, if so, whether it will be printed in one place or in the different States?
– I may say, on behalf of the Postmaster-General, that there is no present intention to issue a Commonwealth stamp.
-It is proposed to retain 10 per cent. of the amount for a central clothing fund on behalf of the various corps, and to hand over the balances immediately.
– Thelate Minister for Home Affairs is having a precis of all the evidence prepared, and it will contain the professional or technical evidence.
– Will it be given in full ?
– AsIunderstand, it will be given in full.
Senator DRAKE laid on the table the following papers : -
Army Medical Corps ; Regulations Military Forces ; Regulations for Medical Attendances.
What was the strength of the naval and military forces of the different States respectively when taken over by the Commonwealth, specifying such forces in each separately ?
What was the strength of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth on the 30th June lost, giving the particulars similarly ?
– The information desired is given in the form of a return, which is attached : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Ministry have an estimate prepared showing what would be the additional cost, if any, of having Hansard issued bi-weekly instead of weekly ?
– An estimate will be prepared.
Is it intended to submit for the approval of Parliament the Commonwealth flag selected by the board appointed to judge the designs submitted for consideration ?
– No; it is not intended to take the course suggested.
– The course promised !
– I do not think so.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow i -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– It will go on for ever.
– Of course, it must go on for ever.
Debate resumed from 3rd July (vide page 1739), on motion by Senator Higgs -
Whereas the powers of the Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government °of the Commonwealth include the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth section 51 , Constitution Act), and whereas the question of naval defence will almost immediately come before the Parliament for discussion ; and whereas public opinion in the Parliament and in the Commonwealth is divided on the question - one party favouring the establishment of an Australianowned navy, and the other party supporting the payment of an increased subsidy to the British War Office ; and whereas, under the title “ The Navy and the Nation,” Sir George Sydenham Clarke, Governor of the State of Victoria, delivered a lecture in the Fitzroy Town Hall, on the 11th June instant, supporting the views of those who favour the payment of an increased subsidy, this Senate regards the State Governor’s action as an unwarrantable interference in Federal politics, and as disclosing an inadequate knowledge of the duties of a State Governor.
That the action of Sir John Forrest, Minister of Defence, in seconding a vote of thanks to the lecturer, and at the same time using further arguments in favour of the payment of an increased subsidy, was undignified, and merits condemnation by the Government as well as by the Senate.
That a copy of the first portion of these resolutions be forwarded to the Premier of Victoria and to the Imperial authorities through the GovernorGeneral (Lord Tennyson).
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - On this question I may differ to a very great extent from honorable senators. I think that the King and his representatives, wherever they may reside, ought to have the right of free speech. I .have always been in favour of the right of free speech, and I believe that it ought to be possessed by the King’s representatives, subject to the same criticisms as everybody else. Whenever the head of the Empire, or any representative of His Majesty, makes any remarks which are not in accordance with the will of the people, then the people will know how to deal with them. I think it would be far better for the country for the representatives of the King to have this privilege, than to go about and express their opinions, as it -were, in an underhand manner, and thus undermine public opinion. It was not the custom for the Governor of a State, when it was a colony, to express his opinions on public questions. It was not the habit of the late Queen, nor is it the habit of the present King, to publicly express opinions on political questions. Seeing that to some extent the old custom has been violated, I am prepared to assist Senator Higgs to carry his motion. J know that there are a number of honorable senators who will each say - “ Well, I heard or I read the remarks that were made by Sir George Clarke, but I could see nothing of a political character in them.” Whether the intention of His Excellency was to exercise political influence or not, it is quite evident that some influence was exercised, because some persons, writing and speaking afterwards, took his remarks as coming from a gentleman, with both experience and authority. To my mind the error arose from the fact that His Excellency had been for some time connected with the Admiralty, and was imbued with those Imperial ideas which naturally must come to any person holding such an office as he occupied for” some time. The mistake must have arisen from want of experience. He is holding the position of Governor for the first time, and on that ground I think he might be excused to some extent. It was the duty of the Victorian Ministers to inform His Excellency of the duties, of his position when he arrived. If they had mentioned the habits of his predecessors, I believe that His Excellency would have had common sense enough to have modelled his conduct by their example. I am very sorry that any gentleman should be sent from Great Britain to a State, or even the Commonwealth of Australia, to occupy a position of no more importance, so far as legislation and administration are concerned, than an umpire at a football match or a judge at a horse race. I do not think that gentlemen with intelligence should be asked to occupy these positions. But since it has been the custom to expect gentlemen to occupy the positions, and not to give expression to political opinions, then I think that a certain amount of blame must be attached to . the action of Sir George Clarke. I hope that the motion will be a warning to other gentlemen coming to Australia, until such time as the political fetters are struck off their limbs, to be very careful in giving expression to their political opinions. I have no more to say on the motion, which I hope will be carried.
– The motion strikes me as being beyond the scope of the duties of the Federal Parliament. It amounts to nothing more nor less than an interference with the actions of a State official. That Sir George Clarke is Governor of Victoria does not remove His Excellency from the category of State officials, and if it is a proper function for the Senate to take exception to and discuss the actions of the highest official in a State, there is nothing to prevent it from interfering with the discharge of duty by its minor functionaries. Apparently it is to become our function to criticise the manner in which every State official discharges his duty. In these circumstances, I do not see anything to prevent the Senate, from seriously discussing the laches of a District Court bailiff. I am not drawing any comparison between the high official whose conduct we are discussing: and the exceedingly minor one who, I suggest, might be the subject of criticism here. Where is the line to be drawn? I take it that this is not a question of the good government of the Commonwealth. The Governor of a State gives a lecture which we have his official word for knowing he promised to deliver many months before the question of the naval subsidy was known to be one of the subjects which would come before the Federal Parliament during the present session. We have His Excellency’s positive statement that he promised to give this particular lecture on this subject so long ago as last November, before it could have been known definitely that this question of the naval subsidy was coming before Parliament. Further, I believe that in .no portion of the lecture did His Excellency make political allusions. Surely it is not an outrage to speak of the greatness of England’s great arm of defence, as a matter which is one of pride to every honest citizen* of the Empire, though we know that it is. not a matter of pride to some personswho live under the beneficent shelter of’ the flag that that great British) Navy carries into every sea of the world I cannot see where the offence comes in. If the lecture had been given definitely for.the purpose »f advocating the naval agreement, gentlemen who take exception to thatagreement might naturally take exception to the lecture. But, as I said a moment, ago, I do not think that it is the functionof the Commonwealth Legislature to criticise the discharge of duty by State officials.. Again I ask, where is such interference to cease ? If it begins with the’ highest itmust extend. I suppose we shall next becriticising the deliverances of States Premiers. What is there to prevent a similarmotion being tabled in connexion with some speech which may be made by a State Premier? If by a State Governor, why not a State Premier ? We should find ourselves in a very short time embroiled’ in political conflicts with every one of theStates of the Commonwealth whose interests, we are sent here to conserve and promote.. From that stand-point it will be seen that I cannot possibly vote for this motion. I do not think we need consider the question of” the naval subsidy at this juncture. I do- not think that we need consider anything more than that we are proposing by this motion to go absolutely outside the charter of the Constitution, and to deal with matters that are not within our ken. Does the matter dealt with in this motion come within the purview of any section of the Constitution? Can it be said even to come within the frequently quoted drag-net phrase of the Constitution^-“ The peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth “ ? It seems to me that it does not even come within that, and it cannot come within any one of the specified subjects with which we are empowered to deal. Holding the views I have expressed, I cannot see my way to support the motion. It seems to me that it is a motion which proposes to travel beyond the functions of the Senate and of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I am sorry I cannot agree with the honorable senator who has just sat down. .With regard to the comparisons he has made between the Governor of a State and the bailiff of a District Court and the Governor of a State arid a State Premier, I shall have something to say later on. It appears to me that the question we have to consider is whether the State Governor of Victoria is privileged to say in Australia something which His Majesty the King himself would not be allowed to say if he came here. Sir George Clarke is the representative of His Majesty the King in Victoria. I know that several honorable senators hold that, on that account, he is entitled to take part in any discussion of public affairs outside the State of Victoria. My own opinion is that that position is not tenable. Would the King himself be justified, if he came here, in discussing public questions? If His Majesty would not be justified in doing so, and if by the Constitution he would not be permitted to do so, then I submit that his representative could not go further than he himself would be allowed to go.
– Does the honorable senator speak of the State Governor in his official capacity, or simply as a citizen ?
– We cannot disassociate one capacity from the other. The Governor-General for instance could not “address the people of the Commonwealth in his private capacity as Lord Tennyson. He necessarily addresses them in his public capacity as the Governor-General of the Australian Commonwealth. The King of England could not throw aside his crown and doff his regal robes and say to the people of Great Britain, “ I address you merely as Edward Wettin.”
– The State Governor goes to church as an individual and not as a State Governor.
- His Majesty could not do anything of the kind. Any public appearance which the King of England would make in that way would be as King and not in any other capacity. I may agree with some of the remarks which have fallen from Senator McGregor, but we are not called upon to discuss what ought to be the law and custom, but what is the custom. The people of England, after a great deal of trouble with their Kings, and after they had cut off the heads of some of them, and did other nice tilings to others - for there were centuries of struggle before finality was arrived at - after all this agitation, trouble, and bother, they came to the conclusion that the only safe policy for the community was to segregate the King altogether from public affairs ; to make him merely the mouthpiece of his Ministers. The axiom is that “The King can-do no wrong,” and the King can do nothing right either-; he is merely a figurehead. Whatever he does is done at the instance of his Ministers, who are responsible’ to Parliament. I repeat that the Governor of a State is in exactly the same position as the King of Great Britain in this respect. Senator Neild drew some comparisons for us, and said that if we had a right to interfere with the actions of a State Governor, or to criticise his actions, we should very soon be criticising the conduct of the bailiff of a District Court. That comparison is so much out of the way–
– So much like Senator Neild.
– It is so much likeSenator Neild that I will not discuss it. But the other comparison which the honorable senator drew was that between a State Governor and a State Premier,- and that isa comparison to which I may refer. A State Premier, as Senator Neild ought to know, is in quite a different position from a State Governor. A. State Premier, in the first place, is a citizen of the Commonwealth, and every citizen of the Commonwealth has a right, nay, more, it is his duty, if he thinks well to do so, to criticise the conduct of the Federal Government and Parliament, and of Federal administration generally. No complaint can be made against a State Premier for doing that, and this Senate would have no more control over any action he might take than it would have over the action of any other citizen of the Commonwealth. But a State Governor is a person who is supposed to hold himself completely aloof from public affairs in the State he governs as the representative of the King.
– He has a vote.
– No, he has not ; and he is not even a citizen in the ordinary sense of the term, either of a State or of the Commonwealth.
Senater Higgs. - He is a distinguished visitor.
– It is accepted on all hands that a State Governor cannot take part in any discussion concerning public affairs. But we are met with this statement : that although he cannot take part in discussions upon State affairs, he is quite within his rights in taking part in discussions upon Commonwealth affairs. I say that the representative of the King is in exactly the same position as the King himself would be if he were here, and as His Majesty could nob take part in those discussions, neither, I submit, can his representative. The State Governors are not citizens of the Commonwealth ; they are not electors.
– They may be ; there is nothing to prevent them.
– There is nothing to prevent a State Governor from being an elector.
– I do not know whether there is anything in the law to prevent it ; but the custom and practice are that they shall not be electors.
– That is very likely.
– If we admit the principle that a State Governor may take part in the discussion of public affairs connected with the Commonwealth, where do we land ourselves?
– They do not claim that.
– That is what the opponents of Senator Higgs’ motion do claim. We shall find ourselves in this position : that whilst the Governor-General of the Commonwealth could not take part in the discussion of Commonwealth affairs, he might go into the various States and deal with State affairs.
– That is absurd ; he would not do so.
– He would not do so ; but if we accept the doctrine laid down by some honorable senators, that of necessity follows. The position I take up is that our State affairs and Commonwealth affairs are so inseparably intermingled that we really cannot differentiate between them. What affects the States affects the Commonwealth, and what affects the Commonwealth affects the States. Senator Higgs has asked me to move an amendment upon his motion. The amendment is to omit the whole of the present motion with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : -
That in the opinion of the Senate the public expression of vice-regal views on debatable politics, unless at the request of responsible Ministers, is not in the interests of the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.
– I should think that, on debatable politics, no Ministers would have the right to ask a State Governor to express an opinion.
– They do so sometimes.
– They do so in the Governor’s speech to Parliament.
– They put certain words into the mouth of the State Governor, as we saw they did recently in New South Wales. The statements made in that instance were not taken as the expression of the Governor’s opinion, but as the opinion of the New South Wales Ministry, and the Governor was in no way held responsible for it. In support of the amendment I feel bound to say that the question whether Australia should contribute a subsidy to the Imperial fleet, or should lay the foundation of a fleet of her own, is one which is very seriously debated, and which was being earnestly debated in the Commonwealth when Sir George Clarke delivered his address. I have no desire to insinuate that Sir George Clarke deliberately took advantage of the occasion to press the views of the Imperial Government upon the people of the Commonwealth, but it looks very suspiciously like it. The question, as we all know, was then, and is now, agitating the public mind. A very considerable section of the community is in favour of the establishment, of an Australian fleet. These people take up the ground that we can best show our loyalty to the Empire, and our desire to maintain its integrity–
SenatorFraser. - Our good sense.
– And that we shall show our good sense best by providing for our own naval defence and leaving our Imperial mother a free hand to guard her own shores and the shores of her other territories throughout the world. That is the position taken up by a very considerable proportion of the people of Australia.
SenatorFraser. - And that is the honorable senator’s opinion?
– That is my opinion. On the other hand, a very large number of our citizens, of whom I believe SenatorFraser is one, believe that our best policy is to merge our sea defence in the sea defence of the Empire; and that we can best aid Britain, and best serve ourselves, by paying an annual contribution towards the up-keep of the British Navy. I do not propose to deal now with the arguments on either side, because that would not be permissible in a debate of this character ; but here we have an actively debatable political question upon which Australian opinion is clearly divided. But the Governor of a State intervenes and delivers himself of a strictly partisan speech at the very moment when this question is being debated in the Commonwealth Parliament. That is a position which he, as the representative of the King, under the British Constitution, was not entitled to take up.
– It was bad taste.
– It may have been either bad taste, or good taste. We know that these Governors have a greal deal of social, and I daresay, political influence, and there is an opinion in various quarters in Australia that the appointment of so many naval and military Governors is part of Mr. Chamberlain’s Imperial plan. Mr. Chamberlain sends out, not eminent citizens, who would be-
SenatorFraser. - Our last Governor was an eminent citizen.
– Eminent citizens would, I think, be much more acceptable in a country like Australia, which has neither a military nor a naval system of any extent, and the pursuits of the people of which are eminently peaceful. We in Australia are probably in many respects much further removed from any likely outbreak of war than are the people of any other country in the world. That being the case, a great number of people think it would be very much better for the Commonwealth if citizens who have distinguished themselves in other avenues than those of the army and navy should be sent out here as Governors. The appointment of these military and naval men is looked on with a certain amount of suspicion by many citizens of the Commonwealth. I am not going to say whether or not I think that suspicion is justified ; but my own belief is that if the people of the Commonwealth keep their heads, they need not care very much who is sent out as Governor. The policy of the Australian people ought to be clearly defined in their own minds, and they ought notto be diverted from it even if the high priest of Imperialism,’ Mr. Chamberlain himself, came here. I do not imagine for a moment that Senator Higgs takes any pleasure in bringing up this question ; at any rate I take no pleasure in discussing it. It is extremely undesirable that the representative of His Majesty should be, either personally or officially, dragged into discussions in or out of Parliament; but when a Governor deliberately thrusts himself into the public arena, we are bound to take cognisance of his action. I agree with Senator Higgs that it is desirable that the representatives of His Majesty should carefully hold themselves apart from the discussion of such public questions as are agitating the minds of the people of the Commonwealth. I trust that, whether this motion be passed or not, it will have the effect of making our Governors a little more careful than they seem to have been in the very recent past.
– I would point out to SenatorStewart that an amendment to a motion must leave some part of the original motion remaining. A whole motion cannot be struck out, and another substituted ; and I suggest that the honorable senator should allow the first words of the motion to remain.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).I shall be glad to submit the amendment in the way suggested. I move -
That all the words after the word “Commonwealth,” line 3, be omitted with a view to insert inlieu thereof the following words :- “in the opinion of the Senate, the public expression of vice-regal views on debatable politics, unless at the request of responsible Ministers, is not in the interests of the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth.”
– I take it that it would be a sound rule for us to follow that we should never express a censure upon any person by vote of this Senate, unless, in the first place, our censure is founded on fact, and, in the second, place, it has regard to a person who is in some way responsible to us. General resolutions, embodying the mere abstract expression of opinion in regard to persons over whom we have no control, are, it seems to me, not only valueless, but will tend rather to depreciate the censure or praise of the Senate than to any other result. I have read very carefully this lecture by Sir George Clarke, and from beginning to end I can find nothing in it which touches in any way on any debatable questions of Australian politics.
– Sir George Clarke declared practically for a naval subsidy.
– With all respect to Senator Stewart, I do not see anything to that effect in the lecture, which in itself is a most admirable deliverance. It is a splendid epitome of the history of the British Navy, and all that it does is to draw the lesson which any student must draw from that history, namely, that although we have maritime instincts - although our people are fighters and sailors, and although we have means to build ships and equip them as fully as have any people in the world - at the same time we must always be ready. That is the inference which Sir George Clarke draws, and, as I say, I cannot, from the beginning to the end of the lecture, see one word which contains any expression of opinion on existing matters of controversy. . There is no suggestion as to whether the existing agreement should be continued, or some new agreement entered into, and there is only one reference to Australian ships. That reference it will be just as well to read, and it is as follows : -
That is the policy enforced by the whole teaching of naval war, but more important for us now than in the past because of the enormous increase of our national trade. A decisive naval victory at once simplifies the protection of commerce ; and, if an enemy refuses great naval actions, his squadrons in port must be closely watched and followed if they move. With this main object in view, our preparations for war must be and are being made. We divide the sea into naval stations for administrative and. police purposes in time of peace, proportioning our strength in each to that of possible antagonists, and with a special eye to the bases from which hostile fleets could act. Foi this reason the bulk of our force is in home waters and in the Mediterranean, the other great aggregation of ships being in China waters for obvious reasons, and a comparatively small squadron being maintained in the South Pacific. I need hardly say that these arrangements cannot be maintained in war, and that if we confined our squadrons to their stations we should play the enemy’s game. If Nelson, in 1805, had been chained to the Mediterranean the Trafalgar campaign might have had another ending, and the world’s history might have been different reading. You may occasionally see the ships of our Australian Squadron - not often enough - in Hobson’s Bay ; but you do not see the ships in distant parts of the world which, and not these in Australian waters, are your real defence.
Is there a word which touches on the controversy which has been going on in Australia on a subject which has been discussed in the other House, and will be discussed in the Senate?
– It is only necessary to wave a flag sometimes in order to rouse some people.
– Surely we cannot censure’ a person, whether a Governor or anybody else, for simply waving a flag 1 I would speak as strongly as Senator Higgs against any interference of our GovernorGeneral in politics. But when we have a lecture of this kind, which is an admirable contribution to our knowledge of the subject, from a high authority - a contribution which most carefully avoids any reference whatever to subjects of current discussion - it is altogether out of place to inflict censure under the circumstances. I do not think it necessary for me to say more in support of the . view I have expressed, that on the facts there is no justification whatever for the assertion that this lecture was an interference in any of our public affairs. But, in addition, I think that we ought to be careful in inflicting censure, or making comments upon public speeches of persons who are outside our jurisdiction. I quite agree with what has been said . in this respect by Senator Neild. It appears to me that, even if the State Governor of “ Victoria had descended into the arena of politics - even if he had so far . forgotten what is due to his position as to express himself strongly on a matter of current discussion, in Australian public affairs - what have we to do with that ? How can our censure affect the State Governor 1 If our censure, conveyed through the GovernorGeneral, did reach the Governor of Victoria, it would be quite open to the latter gentleman - and no one could blame bini - to politely tell the Senate that it concerned his business, and not ours. I admit at once, that for a State Governor to take any active part in Australian politics - although that is not prohibited - would be a great error of judgment and a breach of good taste ; but that has not taken place. My objection to the amendment is twofold. In the first place I say that, now that the motion has been placed on the notice-paper, it ought to be dealt with - that it is not fair to the subject of our censure, whether he be the State Governor or Sir John Forrest, to put that motion aside, and deal with some general motion. We ought to deal with the matter as it has been placed before us by Senator Higgs, and if there is no foundation or justification for the motion in fact, we ought to say so. With all respect to Senator Stewart I think the amendment really puts ti s in a worse position than does the motion. First of all the amendment speaks of *’ public expression of Vice-Regal views.” If that means the views of our own GovernorGeneral, I quite agree, and I think anybody would agree that it would be most undesirable for the Governor - General to express any views on public affairs. But the Governor-General is not very likely to act in that manner. Following the words I have just quoted, are the words “unless at the request of responsible Ministers,” and, in my opinion, that makes matters worse than anything pictured by the supporters of the motion. Surely the idea of responsible government is that Ministers should speak, and not the Governor, who is only the mouth-piece of the Ministry. If Ministers requested the Government to speak on public affairs, and thereby shifted the responsibility from themselves to him, they would be getting alto gether outside the region of responsible government. The amendment would place Ministers in a position they ought not to occupy, and would also be most unfair to the representative of the Crown, even if he assented.. The amendment is an affirmance of a much more vicious principle than anything contained in the lecture itself. This is an interesting subject to discuss, but I hope Senator Stewart will, on reflection, see that there is no justification in fact for the motion, and that the amendment only makes matters worse. As to the position which Sir John Forrest occupies in the motion, I cannot see that any censure can possibly be passed on him. Even if public affairs were discussed, and matters of public controversy were dealt with, and Sir J ohn Forrest, as a Minister of the Crown, supported a particular view advocated by the Government in the other House, as it will be advocated in this Chamber, there is no reason why he should not have done so then and on every occasion he chooses. For the reasons I have given, I hope that neither the amendment nor the motion will be carried.
– If Senator Higgs will not withdraw his motion, I should like to say a few words. I hardly think the Senate can be congratulated on the use which is being made of Wednesday for private members’ business. The discussion of the motion and the amendment are, in my opinion, an absolute waste of time. I am very glad that, late in the day as it is, Senator Higgs sees that the language he applied to the action of the State Governor cannot be justified. The Senate would bring everlasting disgrace on itself if it attempted to say that the State Governor of Victoria had been guilty of an unwarrantable interference, or was ignorant of the duties pertaining to his office. The motion has apparently arisen from a suspicion in Senator Higgs’ mind that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has some idea of ingrafting his Imperialism upon the Commonwealth of Australia b)T appointing military and naval men to be States Governors. A moment’s consideration will show that in searching for Governors the Secretary of State for the Colonies has to obtain men with some experience of human nature, and of the affairs of life, and who have leisure to come to Australia. If the Secretary of State for the Colonies tried to obtain business men or financial men, he would find them all too fully occupied to accept such- a position. I expect that for all time to come we shall very likely have a great preponderance of military and naval men appointed. I read this lecture with considerable pleasure and care, and I could not find one single sentence which infringed what I consider to be the absolute right of the State Governor. The lecture is entitled The Navy and the Nation, and it is a most admirable epitome of history, showing the important part which the navy has taken in making the Empire what it is to-day. Senator Higgs’ quarrel ought not to be with the State Governor, but with history. One of the complaints some of us have against our friends of the labour party is that they are always trying to remodel human nature, and imagining that man is a different kind of animal to what he is ;. They are constantly trying to reverse and violate the teachings of history. In this lecture, trie Governor of Victoria has done nothing but give us a splendid epitome of the part which the navy has played in building up the grand old Empire. I can hardly debate the motion with anything like seriousness, so I shall conclude with a little story which was told by, I think, Abraham Lincoln many years ago. With his suspicions that our privileges are being interfered with, and our democratic rights taken away by the utterances of States Governors, Senator Higgs reminds me very much of a gentleman who was member for Wabash in Congress. He was everlastingly pointing out that every Bill infringed the Constitution. At last the members found him such a bore that they went to old Abe Lincoln, and said - “ Look here, Lincoln, you will have to take this gentleman in hand, and bring him down a peg.” Abraham Lincoln undertook the task. The next Bill which was introduced happened to be one in which Lincoln’s constituents were interested, and, sure enough, the member for Wabash imagined that the Constitution had again been violated. After his speech was concluded, Lincoln rose and said - “The member- for Wabash reminds me very much of a friend who went out with his boy to shoot in the woods. Presently he let drive at a squirrel, but, after emptying his gun about twelve times, the squirrel was still on the bough where it was first seen. He tried to blame the gun. He thought that it had not been cleaned. The boy said - ‘Oh, dad, the gun is all right. I looked to the gun, but where is your squirrel?’ ‘Oh,’, said the man, ‘Don’t you see it on the second bough from the bottom ?’ ‘ Oh,’ said the boy, ‘ I see the squirrel you are. shooting at. You are shooting °at a louse on your -eyelash.’ “ It is something of that sort that Senator Higgs and his friends in the labour corner are everlastingly thinking about. They are everlastingly thinking that their democratic rights are to be taken away from them. I thought the lecture of Sir George Clarke so admirable that I sent a copy of it to the Minister of Education in Tasmania, and suggested to him that it should be printed for the use of scholars and others in Tasmania. So far from imputing to His Excellency that he does not know his duty, and is ignorant of the position he ought to take up, it appears’ to me that his lecture was studiously framed, with the object of not infringing even in the letter, let alone the spirit, the constitutional position which a Governor should hold. I hope that the time will never come when either the Governor-General or a State Governor will be held back from giving to the people of the country information on important subjects which they ought to be only too glad to receive. I hope that the Senate will reject both the amendment and the motion.
– I hope that both the amendment and the motion will be withdrawn. We do not wish to have an abstract motion carried saying that it is undesirable for theGovernor - which would be the GovernorGeneral I suppose - to take an active part in debatable politics. That is so well understood a principle of constitutional government that to pass an abstract motion on thesubject would be simply to make ourselves ridiculous. And if we introduced the words “ unless at the request of responsibleMinisters “ we should give to a Ministry, which might be going out of office, the power to authorize the Governor to make himself a party in their cause, and so place him in a. very unpleasant position in regard to their successors, a position which, I fancy Senator Higgs will see, would not be tenable for a moment. The amendment wishes us first to affirm a truism, and, secondly, to affirm, by way of exception, a very undesirable principle. I could not help thinking that Senator Higgs had not read the lecture very carefully before he framed Ms motion, because it did not deal with debatable politics at all. In South Australia we had a Governor who was supposed to know something about war affairs. I do not know whether his appointment was part of ,a deep-laid Imperialistic scheme to force upon us a military despotism. I was in the Government at thetime, and we encouraged Sir William Jervois to give us .all the information he could, and to tell the people all he could. He did so, and so far from our bringing forward in Parliament motions to blame him. we were very much obliged to him. We entered on a military speculation more or less successful - in consequence of his remarks - and we were very thankful to him at the time, whatever our opinions might have been subsequently. No question of debatable politics was introduced by His Excellency then, any more than by the Governor of Victoria in his lecture. Sir George Clarke - I presume with the advice of his Ministers, to whom he isresponsible, and not with the advice of the Senate, to whom he is not responsible - appears to have given a discourse on the subject of defence in which not a single toe was trodden on so far as I can see, in which no debatable matter was introduced, but in which the general science of war and defence was dealt with. For us to criticise that discourse as an intrusion on his part into debatable politics is, I think, not to do him an injustice so much as to do ourselves a great injustice. Whether we have the power or not- and I am sure that we have not - of expressing an opinion on anything which the Governor of a State may do with the advice of his responsible advisers, it would be most inexpedient for us to interfere with, or even to discourage, the Governor of a State in giving his people the benefit of his best advice on a subject on which he is very well informed. I am sure that nobody has meant to say anything hard about Senator Higgs. Icannot help feeling that he must have given notice of his motion under a misapprehension, and I hope that on consideration he will withdraw it rather than put on our records a division on a subject of this description.
– I am sure that if I could see my way to withdraw the motion at the request of any honorable senator, I would adopt the suggestion of Senator Downer. But, if I remember aright, when I was speaking on the 3rd July, he said he would agree with me if the lecture dealt with a matter of State politics. I have not had time to refer to Hansard, but I think he will find that my recollection is right.
– I said that if the honorable senator’s facts were correct it was a matter of State politics. I had not read the lecture.
-I cannot see my way to ask leave to withdraw the motion. I suggested the amendment in order that those who desired to uphold the rights and privileges of Parliament, but who did not care to pass a motion which would be taken as a censure on a State Governor, might have an opportunity to express their opinion. Senator O’Connor considers that it would be a mistake for the Senate to accept the amendment. Do the friends of the Governor of Victoria desire that there shall appear on the records of the Senate a motion such as I have moved, and do they not think that even if it is lost it is sure to have some supporters? I think it would be far better - and that is why I suggested the amendment - to pass a motion reaffirming our belief in our constitutional rights, and then allow the matter to go. I cannot fall in with the idea of Senator McGregor, who, while supporting the motion, says he hopes that the time will arrive when the King will be able to express his opinions in the same way as any member of Parliament.
– That would never do.
– I am very glad that Senator Fraser agrees with my view. If the King or his representative came down into the field of party politics he would enter the region of criticism, and in speaking of him we could use just as harsh terms as he might use regarding our views or ourselves. I do not think that such a state of affairs would conduce to our harmony or advancement. Senator McGregor seems to think that the Governor of a State, or the Governor-General, is a kind of umpire. He referred to the umpire on a football field. What would be thought of an umpire if he kicked the football on behalf of one side? I venture to think that if he did, he would perhaps not meet with the treatment that an umpire meets with on a football ground about Melbourne, but receive some hard knocks which would not be to his liking. Senator O’Connor said that Governor Clarke carefully avoided making any reference to the naval agreement. Does not that indicate to his mind that His Excellency must have known when he was preparing the lecture, that it would be calculated to support a certain view, and that therefore his duty was to avoid making any reference to the proposed naval subsidy of £200,000? I ask any honorable senator who has read the lecture, whether if it were delivered in Parliament by a member with just this simple addition - “ I have 110 more to say in support of the action of the Prime Minister, in signing the agreement for the payment of £200,000 a year “-
SenatorFraser. - They would ask him how he was going to vote.
– I do not think they would. I believe they would go into the lobbies and elsewhere, and say - “What a magnificent speech Mr. So-and-So made in favour of the subsidy.” Probably as the House of Commons used to do after a speech by Mr. Gladstone, the House of Representatives or the Senate would have to adjourn in order that its members might get into a state of levelheadedness after having heard such a magnificent speech. I do not wish to traverse the arguments I used in my opening speech. Unfortunately, Senator O’Connor was not present on that occasion, otherwise I think he would have seen some connexion between the lecture and the views of those who support the new naval agreement. Right throughout the lecture we find the phrases that are used by the Admiralty and various members who support the naval agreement - such phrases as these - “ The supremacy of the sea must be maintained ; “ “ The supremacy of the sea can only be maintained by being able to concentrate your navy at a certain point ; “ “ The supremacy of the sea is decided by the result of great naval battles at sea.”
– By England and Japan just now.
– As some eminent authority has said, Japan is suffering from swelled head.
– And he was an English aristocrat, too !
– Does the honorable senator, of all men, quote an English aristocrat?
– There is only one subject in which the honorable senator takes an interest. I dealt with his observations last year, and I do not feel called upon at this stage to reply to his most irrelevant interjection. I think it is necessary to pass either the motion in its original form or the amendment. Some honorable senators are able to make a distinction between the State Governor and the GovernorGeneral. I can see none. The Governor of Victoria represents the King just as much as Governor-General Tennyson does. I find a disposition on the part of State Governors to interfere. What did we see the other day? The Governor of Western Australia took a hand in urging its people to keep pegging away at the Federal Governmentuntil they expended a certain sum of money. Does any one agree with that?
– If the honorable senator agrees with that I suppose he will not object to the Governor-General taking a hand in State politics ; and if he thinks that that would conduce to the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth he is very sanguine.
– He said it in a jocular manner at a fete.
– He may have spoken in a jocular manner, but his remarks looked serious in cold print; indeed, so serious that Sir Edmund Barton declined to expressan opinion when he was asked whether the Government had anything to say about this interference by State Governors in Commonwealth politics. The Government did not feel called upon to express an opinion. I suppose they had not the courage to express an opinion. We must sympathize to a certain extent with the observations of Senator O’Connor, because the Government would be under a certain amount of censureif the motion were carried. Senator Best used it as an argument against my motion that the lecture by Governor Clarke was. contemplated as far back as November, 1902, and that statement has been reiterated by Senator Neild. The former said that His Excellency could not have known of the new agreement. It was first proposed in 1897 when a Conference was held in London. When the First Lord of the Admiralty at a banquet threw out the suggestion that the colonies ought to make a larger contribution, it was condemned by Mr. G. H. Reid. I find that Sir George Clarke was employed at the War-office until 1892. He was secretary to the Colonial Defence Committee, secretary to the Royal Commission on Navy and Army Administration, and superintendent of the Royal Carriage Factory.
– The honorable senator must recognise that I spoke only of the fact that the Governor could not have known that this matter was coming before the Federal Parliament this session.
– I have not such a poor opinion of Governor Clarke’s intelligence as to think anything of the kind.
He is a gentleman who, in all probability, reads the daily newspapers, and he would not be so ignorant of all public-matters as not to know that there was a probability, in the very near future, of the Commonwealth Parliament discussing the proposed new naval agreement. It is my opinion, and I say that the opinion is supported by internal evidence to be found in that lecture, that Governor Clarke knew all about the proposals of the Admiralty. When I compare Governor Clarke’s lecture with Sir John Forrest’s Memorandum of Defence, I can well believe that His Excellency had a hand in the preparation of that memorandum. No Australian ever wrote it. It could have been only an emissary of the Admiralty who actually proposed that the contribution of Australia to the Admiralty should be £5,000,000 a year.
SenatorFraser. - That is not a fair statement to make, unles the honorable senator has some authority for it.
– I say that I compare His Excellency’s utterances on the public platform with what I can see in the various documents that have been placed before Parliament–
SenatorFraser. - It is hardly fair to make a statement of that kind.
– I say that I can well believe it.
SenatorFraser. - The honorable senator may believe anything ; but when he makes a public statement and no one is in a position to rebut it, it is very awkward.
– Senator Eraser tried to show the Senate that the lecture had nothing whatever to do with the naval agreement ; and yet the honorable senator got up at the lecture and said - “This lecture will do a great deal of good at the present time.”
SenatorFraser. - And at all times. I say so now.
– Why did the honorable senator think it would do a great deal of good? Was it not because he thought it would influence Members of Parliament to vote for the naval subsidy ?
– Because I knew it would inform the public of historical facts.
– But why inform them of these historical facts ?
SenatorFraser. - Because our safety is entirely dependent upon our naval strength.
– And we should therefore subscribe freely to the up-keep of the British Navy?
SenatorFraser. - No ; we might have half-a-dozen navies for that matter.
– The honorable senator knows that we are not going to have halfadozen.
– If the honorable senator could quote one paragraph from the lecture that supports the naval agreement there might be something in what he says.
– I think I did that in introducing my motion. I do not wish further to take up the time of the Senate, as I have another motion coming on, and I am anxious to get to a vote. I am sorry that Senator Dobson is not here. The honorable and learned senator has said that the labour party always ignores the teachings of history. My object in moving this motion is that honorable senators should be reminded of the teachings of history. I desire them to remember that it was the interferences of Royalty at various periods in history which accounts for the fact that when we look down the list of the Kings and Queens of England we find that their average age was about 36. The people found it necessary to put them out of the way, because they would not adopt constitutional habits.
– The average age ?
– I am not now speaking of modern times, but more particularly of the times of Charles I., Charles II., and so forth.
– It was worse in Scotland.
– The strange part of it is that whilst the ancestors of gentlemenin this Senate took such a prominent part in upholding the rights and liberties of the people, we find that some of their descendants are now willing to cast those rights away. I am sorry that Senator Dobson is not present. I do not propose to give the Senate the benefit of any filthy story or any dirty yarn. I shall not follow that honorable and learned senator’s plan, but I expected that he would have something to say this afternoon, and I took the trouble to take from Milner’s “ History of England ; “ a little story concerning King Canute, the Danish King who reigned in England between 1017 and 1035-
The anecdote by which Canute is best known to posterity rests on the authority of an early historian, Henry of Huntingdon. To rebuke the flattery of his courtiers it is said that he gathered them around him on the shore, and seated on a chair near the water-line commanded the advancing tide to respect the greatest of sea kings. Upon its onward flow compelling a retreat, he expatiated upon the weakness of earthly power in comparison with that of the Supreme. The world has always seen in this beautiful story a striking lesson to courtly sycophants.
I can understand some Victorians objecting to this motion. There are people in Melbourne who, perhaps, do not fall down and worship devils or idols of wood and stone, that can neither eat, nor see, nor smell, nor walk, but they certainly do appear to me to kneel down and worship anybody in a viceregal position. I have seen the footway traffic stopped in Bourke-street here in Melbourne, and I have seen between 200 and 300 people, men and women, standing on the edge of the footpath, opposite Robertson and Moffatt’s, waiting until the Governor’s wife made her exit after having made some purchases.
– The honorable senator will find as big a crowd standing to look at a new motor car. There is nothing in that.
SenatorHIGGS. - I do not think I would. There are some good people in Victoria who seem to be afflicted in that way, and it is for this reason that we have Senator Best considering the words of my motion an insult to the people of Victoria. I venture to say that if I engaged a hall here in Melbourne, and gave an address upon this subject, a motion would be carried by the audience in favour of an expression of opinion that the Governor should not take part in public affairs, even to the extent of delivering an eloquent lecture upon naval defence. There are two stand-points from which we may view this question. I am not very anxious about the motion, because if the Governors of the States are to be allowed to interfere in politics, the evil will work its own remedy. My idea is that all our Governors, whether of States or of Commonwealth, should be elected by ballot at the polls just as we are, and I shall not rest satisfied until, so far as I can bring it about, something like that takes place. The interference of State Governors in these matters will only strengthen the hands of those who believe in such a mode of selection. To discuss that matter at greater length would, perhaps, infringe upon the next question to come before the Senate, and I do not propose to deal with it further at this stage. I hope honorable senators will carry the amendment, and if they do not, I shall be very happy to vote for my motion.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the motion - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate -
The Governor-General is not required by the Constitution, nor by the public opinion of the Commonwealth, to maintain or occupy an establishment or home in each of the States or in two States.
The proposal that State Governments shall contribute to the up-keep of the GovernorGeneral’s establishments is objectionable.
The salary of ten thousand pounds (£10,000) per annum is adequate payment for all the services the Governor-General is expected, according to the Constitution and by the public of the Commonwealth, to perform.
The Federal Government should respectfully invite the Imperial authorities to appoint as Governor-General one of the several Australian statesmen who have served their country faithfully and well.
In my opinion this motion is a necessary one, and it is a great pity that a similar proposal was not voted on during last session. Now is an opportune time to discuss the question, because we shall shortly have with us the new Governor-General, who, I understand, will take up his duties in December next. If the new Governor-General comes here with any erroneous impressions, as he probably will, the passing of a motion such as that which I have now submitted will remove them. Has Excellency is now Governor of Bombay, where he has presided over some 20,000,000 Hindoos, and he will, in all probability, come here with wrong notions of the Australian people.
SenatorFraser. - Why should he do so?
– If he should come here with any wrong impressions, I venture to say that the debate on this motion will disabuse his mind. Senator Eraser seems amused, but I hope to show that there is no ground for amusement. Some Governors have come to Australia with very wrong impressions of the Australian people. Section 125 of the Constitution is as follows : -
The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and if New South Wales be an original State, shall be in that State, and be distant not less than 100 miles from Sydney. Such territory shall contain an area of not less than 100 square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor. The Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meet at the seat of Government.
Although there is no provision in the Constitution stating in what part of the Commonwealth the Governor-General shall reside, I think common sense dictates that he ought to reside within easy distance of Parliament, so as to be available when wanted. It should not be necessary when there is a reconstruction of the Government for the Prime Minister to come to Parliament and say - “This is what we propose to do, but we shall not be able to tell honorable members definitely until we have seen the Governor-General, who is distant some 500 miles.” I do not think it is desirable that the Governor-General should maintain a kind of travelling caravan, such as has been stated in the press ex- President Kruger had in the Orange Free State. If the Governor-General is to be asked to keep up an establishment in New South Wales as well as in Victoria, the other States have a right to ask that he shall also have residences within their borders. Indeed, it might be suggested that the Governor General ought to visit every important town throughout the Commonwealth in order to keep himself in touch with public affairs, so far as he is entitled to do so in his position.
– No doubt the GovernorGeneral will visit all the important towns in time.
– Senator Walker astonishes me. Honorable senators who reside in New South Wales know the inconvenience and hardship of travelling, in connexion with their parliamentary duties, a return journey of something like 1,200 miles; and yet it is suggested that the Governor-General should be asked to travel between the metropolis and all the other important towns.
– All I said was that no doubt the Governor-General would visit all the important places in time.
– Such a proposal, as I understood Senator Walker to make, would deter any one from accepting the position of Governor-General. The proposal that the States should contribute to the up-keep of the Governor-General’s establishment ought to be objected to by every one who desires to carry out the terms of the Constitution and adopt a common-sense course. The New South Wales Parliament is credited with having passed an Act authorizing the appropriation of £3,500 per annum for the up-keep of the Governor-General’s establishment in that State ; and a similar proposal was made in the State Parliament of Victoria, but was wisely rejected. To have a Governor-General’s establishment in New South Wales as well as in Victoria is open to great objection, for the reason that, although, as has been repeatedly said - and as Senator O’Connor said in reply to an argument once used in the Senate - the Governor-General has no power, but is merely the mouth-piece of the Executive Council, who are responsible to Parliament, vet on occasions the Governor-General, without a doubt, will be in a position to exercise considerable influence. If the GovernorGeneral knows that New South “Wales is contributing £3,500 a year to the up-keep of his establishment, and at any time there arises a conflict as to States rights between that and any other State the Governor-General may use his influence. I venture to think that the friends -which the Governor-General makes during his stay in Sydney, and the obligation to which he is to some extent under, might influence him ; and that, in my opinion, would be altogether wrong.
– What possible evil effect could there be from a trip of the Governor-General to Sydney?
– The Governor-General might not exercise his influence publicly, but he could do so privately, and he might influence the Colonial Office, and we should have no explanations. Whatever is expended in connexion with the GovernorGeneral ought to be expended by the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. I now come to the erroneous views which are held by certain Governors, and by the people of the old country with regard to Australians, and the position of our Governors and Governor-General. There is a belief prevalent in England that Australians- like ostentatious display, and that a Governor who is in a position to afford to gratify that desire, is looked up to with great respect. In an article in the Spectator, there appeared the following : -
They (the Australians) - when they speak confidentially - ask for peers of some ability, who will spend readily a good deal more than their emoluments of office in keeping up that splendour Of life for which the colonists themselves are unwilling to poy.
When Lord Hopetoun resigned, it is said that the newspapers in England described our desire for ostentatious display as vulgar,
And referred to us as mean because we were not prepared to pay for it. The people in the old country have quite an erroneous idea of the character of the Australian people, and they could not have been acquainted with the facts or they would not have described us as mean. They could not have known that the visit of Royalty during 1901 cost the Commonwealth £156,476. [Senate counted.] People who have described Australians as mean and vulgar, cannot have compared the remuneration paid to Canadian Governors and Australian Governors respectively. For the purposes of comparison, I shall take six of the Provinces in the Dominion, and the six States in Australia.
– -That is not a fair comparison.
– Senator Zeal made a similar comparison in relation to the High Court.
– The Canadian Governors are local men.
– In Ontario, the Governor receives £2,000 ; in Nova Scotia, £1,800; Manitoba, £2,000; British Columbia, £1,800; Prince Edward Island, £1400, and the Province of the North-West Territory, £1,400. In Australia, the Governor of Victoria .is paid £5,000 ; of New South Wales, £5,000 ; of Queensland, £5,000 ; of South Australia, £4,060 ; of Western Australia, £4,000; and of Tasmania, £3,500.
– Does the honorable senator think that that has anything to do with the question of the salary and position of the Governor-General of Australia ?
– I think it has, Mr.” President, because my motion deals with the upkeep of two establishments for the Governor-General. I am dealing with the suggestion that the salary of £10,000 is not sufficient for the Governor-General, and endeavouring to show, in reply to a charge of meanness, that we pay our States Governors more than is paid to similar officials in Canada. In Australia, the sura paid to the States Governors is £26,560, and in Canada it is £12,400 : though in each country the Governor-General receives £10,000.
– Senator Higgs would not pay any attention when I talked about economy in connexion with the High Court.
– When Senator Zeal proposed that the Judiciary Bill should be rejected on economical grounds-
– I do not think the honorable senator ought to discuss the Judiciary Bill. The honorable senator ought not to be led away by interjections.
– My contention is that we pay far too much for our vice-regal representative, and that economy might be exercised in this direction. In a normal year, the Governors of Australia, including the Governor-General, cost £100,000; and it is very necessary for me to deal with the position of the States in regard to this matter. In my opinion, the whole of the work could be done for £50,000, and a step towards economy would be taken if we refrained from establishing a Government House in New South Wales as well as in Victoria. When I say that there are erroneous impressions in the old country in regard to the Australian people, I am speaking of the Australian people as a whole. Men like Samuel Hordern, the leading draper in Sydney, take very different views. That gentleman,- when he returned recently from a trip to Europe, said that it would be worth while to have a good Governor coming out to Australia, and spending £30,000 or £40,000 per annum in carrying out his duties, because that would cause the people as-a whole to spend more money in order to keep pace with him. That is doubtless a view which a leading draper would very naturally take, and it is a .view held by those strange political economists who think that it is a fine thing for the country to pay £10,000 or £15,000 per annum to a GovernorGeneral, in order that he may distribute the money in the purchase of champagne and on festivities of various kinds. The lavish proposals of the Government with regard to the Governor-General have a disastrous effect on the general community, because they lead to the ostentatious expenditure of public money, and involve corresponding expenditure on the part of people who cannot afford it. At an anti-sweating meeting, not long ago, it was stated that a lot of society people did not pay their dressmakers for a year, and sometimes not at all, with the result that the latter had to wait for their money after having paid for the material. [Senate counted. As stated in the motion, the salary of £10,000 is an ample allowance to the Governor-General to enable him to carry out the duties outlined in the Constitution. We have no right to demand that the Governor-General shall carry out any other duties. Strange to say, I find that, although the Spectator has charged Australians with being- vulgar, and to some extent mean, it agrees with the view that £10,000 is an ample salary. It says-
We believe, therefore, though fully perceiving the arguments for the other side, that £10,000 a year is, except in India, where considerations of climate come in, an ample salary for a Viceroy, that he should be asked to keep up one house, and that his instructions should include a hint that he is to live like a gentleman and not as a financial prince.
Honorable senators ought to recognise that there is a solid feeling on the part . of the people in England, that we are mean and vulgar, and that we are like a lot of spongers, loafers and beggars, who want a ‘ wealthy man to come here and spend his money for our enjoyment. It is necessary for these Houses of Parliament in some way to give expression to the idea that that is not the real view of the Australian people. They do not want anything of the kind. The Australian people believe with the Spectator that £10,000 per annum is a sufficiently large salary. They say also that the GovernorGeneral should be asked to keep up only one establishment, and should be expected to live like a gentleman, and not like a financial prince. I am pleased to know that, in the opinion of the (government, a wealthy man is not required to occupy the position. In reply to a question which I asked some time ago, the Government stated that in their opinion the people of the Commonwealth would be satisfied to have as Governor-General a man without means, provided he had the character, ability, and experience to fill the position. The London publications refer to the fact that there is in the old country a reservoir of ability, provided that the men who are expected to fill these high positions are not deterred by financial considerations. Now I come tothe last part of my motion, which says that the Government should respectfully invite the Imperial authorities to appoint an Australian statesman who has served his country faithfully and well. I should not like to bind the Government to request that & statesman be appointed. . I think that any number of our citizens have served their country faithfully and well. They may be members of the legal profession, or the medical profession, or they may have served their country in a business capacity. An Australian who has lived at least some ten years amongst us, knows more about our habits and customs - knows the people and their ways - better than a stranger. He would not be likely topander to class prejudices, and would, I think, fill the position of Governor-General in a more satisfactory way than any gentleman imported. . An Australian citizen in the position of the Governor-General would never make the mistakes that some
Governors have made. He would not be likely for example to fall into the error made by some Governors I know of - half-pay officers - who have come out here, and after being able to get in their wines free of duty, have sent them down to the auction room and secured the benefit of the increased price which had accrued. Nor would such a Governor-General be likely to make the mistake of paying English rates of wages to his servants. And, further, an Australian would not, I think, fall into the mistake made by a very popular Governor-General some time ago, who- seeing the unemployed in distress - distributed 100 bottles of champagne amongst them. His action reminded me of the story of the French Princess who, during the time of the Revolution, hearing that the people were crying for bread, asked why they did not eat cake. This Governor-General’s distribution of champagne indicated to my mind a great want of knowledge of the Australian people, that would not be exhibited by an Australian citizen appointed to that position. When we come to the more serious mistakes made by Governors, we must take into consideration the grave error made by the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth, who, in defiance of the advice of his Ministers and regardless of what had been done by Lord Hopetoun, ad vised the Imperial authorities not to assent to the kanaka legislation until certain regulations which will not be necessary for years to come had been passed. An Australian, I repeat, could not have fallen into that blunder. I can refer briefly to the names of some Australian statesmen from whom a selection could have been made if we bad required a Governor-General in the times in which they lived, or if it had been the custom then to appoint Australians to State governorships. I do not wish to refer more than is necessary to living statesmen, because, as the celebrated American humourist puts it, “ the chief element of fame consists in being dead.” The men whose names I shall mention are spoken of in the highest regard now that they have passed away, but they might have been criticised as unfit to occupy the position of Governor-General while they were alive. Take the case of William Charles Wentworth, the founder of the Sydney University and the father of the New Sou th Wales political constitution. Then I will mention the name of William Charles Windeyer, New South Wales, barrister, journalist, and Supreme Court Judge. Henry Parkes also served his country faithfully and well for fifty years. In Victoria the name of George Higinbotham must occur to most people. There is also Francis Longmore, formerly Minister for Lands. In Queensland there is Charles Lilley, the father of the education system - the father of free education, and for many years Chief Justice of that State. I may also mention William Brookes and John Dunmore Lang, who served not only Queensland but New South Wales - a man who was perhaps rather an enthusiast in one particular direction, but who had qualities which I think fitted him for the position we are now discussing. When we come to South Australia, there is Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the author of a book on the Art of Colonization, upon the principles of which I understand the colonies of New Zealand and South Australia were founded. When we come to Tasmania - if I may leave the dead for a moment, and refer to the living - we have the members of the Dobson family.
– What is the honorable member talking about?
– We have the Honorable Alfred Dobson, Attorney-General in the Fysh Ministry; the Honorable Frank Stanley Dobson, Chairman of the Legislative Council, and the Honorable Sir William Lambert Dobson. We can find men in all. the States from whom a judicious selection could have been made. If we turn to New Zealand the name of Sir George Grey will present itself at once.
– He was an Imperial Governor, and spent nearly his whole life in the Imperial service.
– He was also a prominent Member of Parliament in New Zealand.
– The honorable senator forgot to mention one New South Wales man.
– Well, I might refer to the honorable and gallant Senator Neild. I should not object to his being called upon to fill a position of this kind in Australia. He has had some experience of the Australian people, and would not make the mistakes which have been made by some Imperial Governors. I hope the motion will commend itself to the Senate. I am aware that in its present form it presents a complicated question. There are really four motions in one. If some honorable senators cannot see their way to vote for the principle, that an Australian citizen should be eligible to fill the position of Governor-General, the President might perhaps divide the motion into sections, so as to facilitate business, and enable the Senate to vote fairly with regard to any portion of it. I venture to think that with regard to the first three propositions, no honorable senator can offer any objection.
– I was naturally desirious to learn what were the particular reasons which actuated the honorable senator in his attack upon the expenditure connected with the Governor-General. There seem to be three principal reasons. The first is of course the constitutional reason ; the second is that it is extremely inconvenient for the Governor-General to be away from tho seat of Government ; and the third is the reason- of economy. The honorable senator does not, I think, believe in the constitutional reason himself. He tells us that the Constitution does not require that the Governor-General should have more than one establishment for his convenience in the Commonwealth. Of course, the Constitution does not provide that, nor does it provide a great number of other things. Apart from that, we have to consider whether it is desirable that the Governor-General should have any convenience of the kind provided for him away from the present seat of government. I entirely disagree with the honorable senator in thinking that it is necessary or desirable that the GovernorGeneral should always be at the seat of government. What are the instances of inconvenience which are given ? The honorable senator mentioned that the Prime Minister had to announce that it was proposed that certain alterations should be made in the Cabinet instead of being able to state that they had been made. The Prime Minister, I presume, announced that certain alterations would be made, provided the Governor-General accepted the advice of his responsible advisers. The honorable senator, as a constitutionalist, knows very well that that was all the information that Parliament would require. But does he really contend that it is a desirable tiling that the Governor-General should be glued down to the seat of government, and should not be able to travel about the Commonwealth ? If so, I entirely disagree with him.
I think, on the other hand, that it is most desirable that a gentleman occupying that high position, and being absolutely free from provincial preferences, should travel about the Commonwealth, visiting the various States. Knowing the good results that have followed from such a course, I hold that view strongly. The honorable senator is aware that our late highlyesteemed Governor - General on several occasions - I do not know how often - visited the State of Queensland ; in fact, in his delicate condition bf health he found great benefit from visiting the northern part of that State. Is it not desirable that that should be done under such circumstances 1 I do not know any circumstance which would afford a reason for preventing the Governor-General from travelling from the seat of government. The instance he gave just now, and towhich he attached considerable weight, seemed to me to have no value whatever. The honorable senator is of opinion that if the Governor-General were precluded from leaving the seat of government some money would be saved, because it would not be-‘ necessary to provide funds for his travelling expenses or his accommodation in any other State. I am surprised that the honorablesenator should be so infatuated with the economy craze as to carry it to the extent of objecting to accommodation being made for the Governor-General in the neighbouring State of New South Wales. The honorable senator knows that the circumstances of the time are somewhat peculiar. We are just commencing our career as a .Federation. For a long time previous to Federation there was a great deal of difficulty in deciding whether the capital of the Commonwealth should be in New South Walesor Victoria. Ultimately, a compromise was arranged ; and I think it is not unreasonable, but very proper, that the GovernorGeneral should spend some of his timewhen he can do so without any delay to thepublic business, in the adjoining State. I am very glad that Lord Tennyson has availed himself of several opportunities of visiting New South Wales, South Australia, and other States. If the use of Sydney Government-house were given up, the amount that would be saved would be very small indeed. Its cost at the present time is £2,500 a year. It is clear that if His Excellency were to spend all his time in Melbourne, a larger sum would have to be> provided for the up-keep of Melbourne Governmenthouse. The total vote for the upkeep of Government-houses, according to the understanding which was arrived at, and announced to Parliament last session, was £6,000, and the provision on the Estimates for this year is £6,015. Of that sum £3,515 is for Melbourne Governmenthouse and £2,500 for Sydney Governmenthouse. If His Excellency were required to spend all his time in Melbourne, the probability is that the up-keep of Government-house would be about £6,000 instead of £3,515.
– Does not the up-keep of Melbourne Government-house, while heis away, amount to a considerable sum ?
– Of course it is necessary to maintain caretakers to keep the building in proper order, but there is not the same expenditure on its up-keep during His Excellency’s absence, as there would be if he resided there all his time. The increased expenditure is so insignificant that it is hardly sufficient to justify Senator Higgs in the action which he has taken. A paragraph of his motion affirms that the proposal that the States Governments should contribute to the up-keep of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment is objectionable. He is rather belated in coming forward with that proposition, because the Government and the Parliament have held that view all along, and have refused to allow any part of this expenditure to be borne by a State. The Parliament of New South Wales passed *a Bill providing an annual sum of £3,000 for the up-keep of the Sydney Governmenthouse, and a similar Bill was introduced into the Parliament of Victoria, but was not carried. The Government decided at once that it was not a right principle that any portion of the expenditure on the Governor-General’s establishment should be provided by a State ; and it did not avail itself of the provision which had been made by New South Wales.
– The Commonwealth does not pay the interest on the cost of Sydney Government-house.
– No; we have not been asked to do so in the case of Sydney Government-house any more than in the case of Melbourne Government-house, or the building in which Parliament meets. The States have chosen to provide the buildings for our use. The Government of New South Wales said - “Here is a
Government-house for the GovernorGeneral to use,” but the expenditure on its up-keep is borne by the people of the Commonwealth as “ other” expenditure on a per capita basis. So there is nothing in that part of the motion. Senator Higgs thinks that a provision of £10,000 for the GovernorGeneral is sufficient, and presumably that there should not be any allowance for the up-keep of a Government-house. That is merely a matter of opinion. I suppose that each honorable- senator can have his own opinion as to what salary should .be paid. What is paid now is paid on the basis of the agreement which was come to last session, with the approval of both Houses - that the Commonwealth should provide a salary of £10,000, and an allowance of £6,000 for the maintenance of private residences. If we compare the expenditure which is incurred in connexion with the Governor-General with the expenditure which was previously incurred by the States in connexion with their Governors, we shall find that we are paying much less for the Governor-General and his establishment, than was paid in some of the States for the Governor and his establishment. So far from being extravagant, the comparison shows that we are exceedingly economical. Of course there would always be some persons who, if the salary of the office were £10,000, would say that it should be £9,000 ; or, if it were £9,000, that it should be £8,000 ; and so on, until it was cut down to almost nothing. Senator Higgs has a very strong objection to our asking for the services of a gentleman of wealth in order to save the Commonwealth from expending money on behalf of the Governor-General. Holding that view, he should not object to the provision of a reasonable sum which would enable us to secure the services of a gentleman of firstclass standing. With regard to the other portions of the motion, I can only say that ‘ I do not agree with the honorable senator. In our present circumstances, it would be exceedingly undesirable to have as GovernorGeneral a gentleman who had been connected with the affairs of any State. The honorable senator has given us a long roll of names, and what do we find ? In every case the gentlemen whom he has named are connected with some State or another, and are comparatively little known outside its borders. He has told us about brilliant Victorian statesmen. Does he consider it advisable, at the present time, that our destinies should be controlled by a Victorian gentleman? He has named some gentlemen who, no doubt, attained to greatness in New South Wales. Does he think it desirable that the Governor-General should be distinctively a New South Welshman, and not connected with any other State? Or does he think it desirable that even if the Queensland gentlemen whom he named were all living, one of them should become GovernorGeneral? If he does, I certainly do not agree with him. In our present state of development it is far better that we should have, as we had before, a gentleman from outside the Commonwealth, who is not connected with any State, and is entirely disconnected with our politics. The rule has worked very well so far, and I do not see any reason why a change should be made. I am not going to follow the honorable senator in his remarks as to what this or that GovernorGeneral may have done, because I do not take much count of those tittle-tattle stories that are to be found in certain newspapers. They may be true, or they may not ; I do not know anything about them.
-There is no tittle-tattle about the Governor-General’s advice to the Colonial Office.
– That is quite new to me ; but I feel perfectly confident that His Excellency acted strictly within his instructions if he did advise that the Royal assent to a Bill should be delayed. In our short experience as a Federation we have been exceedingly fortunate in the choice of our Governors-General ; and, from all I have heard, we are likely to be exceedingly fortunate in the selection of the gentleman to succeed Lord Tennyson. In these circumstances, so far from thinking that the passing of this motion would have any happy effect, I think it would be singularly inappropriate. Therefore I ask the Senate not to approve of any portion of the motion.
– The speech of Senator Higgs conveyed to my mind that he rather regretted having put the motion on the paper. As a general rule he is very much in earnest. [Senate counted.] I am sure that I am not doing the honorable senator any injustice when I say that I do not think I ever heard him submit a proposition - I was going to say in a feeble manner - with less earnestness. He was not as earnest as he usually is when he takes up a question on which he desires the support of his fellow senators. He made a speech which, to a certain extent, will, perhaps, be a warrant for me to ramble over the points he submitted, just as he rambled over the various parts of his motion. I shall speak from a few notes I made while he was addressing the Chamber, although I freely admit that there may be a want of concinnity in my remarks. He commenced by “ flogging a dead horse.” He dragged up a Bill which the Parliament of New South Wales passed years ago ; but which was a nullity from start to finish, for the simple reason that the Parliament of Victoria declined to pass a similar measure. When the honorable senator has to fall back upon a legislative corpse as a live argument for the departure which he proposes, surely he must have a singularly poor case to start with? The honorable senator objects to the GovernorGeneral having a second residence. I believe my honorable friend comes from the State of Queensland, where the Governor has a city residence in Brisbane and a country residence in Toowoomba. In New South Wales the Governor for very many years has had a city residence, a seaside residence, with abundance of fresh air, but still he has also had a country residence, ‘Sutton Forrest, near Moss Vale. Then we come to Victoria, and we find that the Victorian Governor has had, for I do not know how many years past, a palatial city residence, and a country residence at Mount Macedon. We find the same state of affairs in South Australia, where two establishments are provided for the Governor, one in the city of Adelaide, on North-terrace, and one at Marble Hill. I am not sufficiently well acquainted with Western Australia as to be able to say whether there are two residences provided for the Governor there.
– There are two provided there.
– One is scarcely ever used.
.- What about Tasmania ? Perhaps Senator Dobson will be able to say whether two Government Houses are provided in Tasmania.
SenatorDobson. - No; only one. There used to be a cottage provided at New Norfolk.
– There are two provided in New Zealand, one at Auckland, and one at Wellington.
– Not only had each of the Colonial Governors before the Commonwealth was established, two residences provided for him, but those two residences have been maintained in every instance except that of Tasmania. This is the case in Queensland, undoubtedly it is the case in New South Wales, it is certainly the case here in Victoria, and the Governor of South Australia has not forfeited his Marble Hill residence. It has, therefore, for many years past, been the established custom for the Governor of a colony or a State to have a second residence provided for him, and necessarily a second establishment has had to be kept up with greater or less expenditure. Is it not therefore unreasonable that the Governor-General, who is the over-ruling gubernatorial representative in the Commonwealth, should be denied a second residence, such as is at the disposal of every State Governor? I shall not discuss the cost of the two establishments at Sydney and Melbourne. Senator Drake has given useful information upon the point showing that as against the expenditure that was incurred at Sydney, there is a corresponding reduction in the expenditure upon Government-house, Melbourne. That seems to rae to be a very complete answer to any charge of extravagance. I now come to the second paragraph of the motion, dealing with the question of the upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishment. I do not know at which State this paragraph of the motion is directed. To be perfectly sure, I sent into the library for a copy of the Estimates of Expenditure for New South Wales for th« year 1902-3. I have been through those Estimates over and over again, not only through the columns, but through the index- also, and I have not discovered that a single penny piece is put down for the expenses of the GovernorGeneral in New South Wales. As there is no other establishment in the Commonwealth foi- the convenience of the GovernorGeneral outside of Victoria than the one in Sydney, and as, clearly, the State of New South Wales is contributing nothing to the up-keep of the Commonwealth Governmenthouse there, this second proposition of Senator Higgs has no meaning’, and does not apply to anything that exists to-day. I point out on this question of the up-keep of premises that it would be just as reasonable to ask members of the Federal Parliament to sweep and dust these premises, and do their own messengering as it is to ask the GovernorGeneral to keep up the premises he occupies officially. The Governor - General’shouse is not a -private house. We heard this afternoon the statement that the GovernorGeneral cannot separate himself from his official position, and neither can he separate himself from his official residence. It is his official place of business, if I may put it in that way, and it is ridiculous to suppose that the Governor-General out of his salary, which is not a very munificent one after all, should pay for the up-keep of his establishment and the grounds surrounding it. I do not know that it is intended that he shall also defray the cost of ordinary repairs. The greater the pleasure of those who desire to see their country occupying a position, not of penury, but of reasonable and wholesome expenditure, and the larger the ground, and the. handsomer the house they provide, the greater the onslaught on the Governor-General’s income for their up-keep. It would be regarded as a very extraordinary thing if we were to ask the Astronomer of any one of the States to defray the cost of the up-keep of his official premises. I cannot believe that this point has been really considered, because the GovernorGeneral’s house is a great deal more than his residence. It is the place which he occupies officially, not only as a dwelling house, but as the centre from which his duties are discharged. What other premiseshas he except the Executive Council Chamber? Government-house is the all in all. It is the Governor-General’s home, and the place from which his official energies aredirected. I do not know why we should expect any officer of the State to look after the premises he occupies under similar conditions of residence and of official work. The question of salary is one which, I think, we need not discuss. Surely, Parliament has already spent enough time during its existence in discussing the question of the Governor-General’s salary and allowances, and we need not in the present session attempt to again slay the slain. I do not feel disposed to occupy time in discussing that question. With reference to the inconvenience occasioned by the Governor-General’s absence, we will say in Sydney, in residence, the sameor even greater inconvenience, must be occasioned when the Governor-General is travelling in the Commonwealth. If he- is travelling in South Australia, in Queensland, or elsewhere in the Commonwealth, inconvenience will be occasioned to Ministers when they desire to communicate with him j but if he is in residence in one spot it will probably be much easier for Ministers to communicate with him, and to have meetings of the Executive Council in his presence than if he is travelling about from pillar to post. Surely it is not to be proposed that the Governor-General shall be tied to one house and to one spot during the whole of a prolonged session of. Parliament? I think I am justified in pointing to the fact that the illustrious Head of the Realm has travelled on the Continent of Europe during the continuance of the sittings of the Imperial Parliament in London. I have not read that this has been attended by any ill effects, or has occasioned any stir. The press has certainly not conveyed any indication that the action of the Head of the State has been unsatisfactory to the people of the Kingdom.
– It is a very dan.gerous practice ; it shows that he can be done without.
– I ask my honorable friend, Senator Higgs, to remember the words of the father of our present Governor-General, that the Constitution of England is -
Broad-based upon the people’s will.
And so long as the great body of the people are satisfied with the conduct of the business of the realm, I do not think that we at this far end of it need attempt to give them points either in Imperial etiquette, or in the protection of the magnificent structure of constitutionalism, which has grown up bit by bit, precedent by precedent, without the narrow bounds that are set by Acts of Parliament, but as the late Lord Tennyson wrote -
Broad-based upon the people’s will.
On this question of having Australian statesmen as Governors-General, Senator Higgs destroyed his entire argument by his own representation. The honorable senator represented that there were Australian statesmen who had served their various States and colonies so well that they would have made admirable Governors - General. He submitted the names of a number of gentlemen, who becaine really popular in a broad sense only after they had travelled hence. No one can deny that a majority of the illustrious men to whom the honorable senator referred had during their lifetime, perhaps, as many enemies as friends - from time to time their enemies were in the majority. Senator Higgs quoted the late Sir Henry Parkes, probably New South Wales’ .greatest statesman ; but there - were times when that honorable gentleman was hurled from power. I do not know that he was ever hurled from power by a vote of Parliament, but he was hurled from power by a vote of the people, and though he came back again, perhaps stronger than ever, I would ask, at what stage of that statesman’s career could he have been selected to occupy the presumably unbiased and unprejudiced position of Governor-General of Australia, without the gravest offence to an immense section of the people? It could not have been otherwise. What we secure in the present system of gubernatorial appointments is the selection of men whose past and whose present supply no basis of opposition, and are not an outrage to the feelings of any person in the community. I do not mean to say that wishy-washy characters are selected - God forbid that it should ever come to that - but men whose previous career has not placed them in antagonism to any great section, of the people. It would be a deplorable thing if we had at any time persons appointed to act in the presumably unbiased position of Governor-General whose past life and whose past actions had, from time to time, been of a character distinctly party, and distinctly in opposition to the views of great bodies of the people. Reference has been- made to the fact that at the present time the States Governmenthouses are filled by gentlemen who have served their country in the military and naval service. I do not wish to play the part of sycophant to any one, but I think it would be difficult to find in the whole list of the many illustrious men who have been sent to Australia as representatives of the Crown, any gentleman who has filled the position with more acceptance than has the grand old sailor we have in Sydney to-day. He is a gentleman whose every action is such as to endear him to the community at large, in a manner that could scarcely be possible if in years past he had been in violent antagonism to large sections of the people on political matters from time to time. It is customary for a State Governor to have two residences’ ; and as to Senator Higgs’ second proposition, it has actually no meaning, seeing that no State is called upon to contribute to the up-keep of the GovernorGeneral’s establishment. The salary is fixed by the Constitution, and it is absolutely unreasonable and impossible to expect the maintenance of buildings and grounds to be paid for out Of the salary. As to the fourth proposition I hope I have, as Senator Drake did, offered reasons why gentlemen who have actively participated in the strife of politics and in the blows of party conflict would not be the best, men to select for the position. A Governor is supposed to know no party, but to be unbiased and free from those sentiments of antagonism, and even animosity, which are of necessity engendered amongst all statesmen and party leaders.
– So fully do I agree with what has already fallen from the Minister for Defence and from Senator Neild, that it is not necessary foi” me to take up much of the time of the Senate. It is quite true that public opinion does not call upon the GovernorGeneral to maintain two establishments, but I think that public opinion is strongly in favour of his being seen in all parts of Australia ; and it would be a pity, when there are such suitable residences in Melbourne and Sydney, that His Excellency should not occupy them as his official duties permit. We must remember that the Federal capital has not yet been founded ; and I am not aware that Melbourne or Sydney has any prescriptive right to monopolize the Governor-General’s time. If the capital had already been established, Senator Higgs’ motion would have come with greater force, but at present I think that the mother State is entitled by courtesy, if on no other ground, to have the pleasure of the Governor-General’s presence for some time in each year. If a State Government chooses to contribute to the up-keep of the Governor-General’s establishment, why should it not be at liberty to do so t At one time it was anticipated that an additional £10,000 per annum would be made up by the States towards the expenses of the Governor-General, and the New South Wales Parliament passed an Act agreeing to contribute its share, some £3,500. Whether the New South Wales Parliament was obliged to make such a contribution or not, it at any rate had a perfect right to pass the Act. if it so pleased. As to the third proposition, we are all glad to hear that the GovernorGeneral is quite satisfied that the salary is sufficient to enable him to support his. office. Of course, the £10,000 has noreference to the expense of keeping up the establishments, but is, I take it, for His Excellency’s personal expenses, and the expenses of his family. The salary is also exclusive of travelling expenses incurred by the Governor-General in his official capacity. I hope time will permit of every GovernorGeneral,’ once during each twelve monthsof his term of office, visiting each State of the Commonwealth. It is desirable in the interests of Australia and of the Home authorities that when a GovernorGeneral retires he shall be able to speak from personal experience of the whole Territory. We have a very good example afforded in the way in which the King moves about, and also in the fact that there are Royal palaces in various parts of Great Britain. I personally regret thatthere is as 3’et no Royal residence in Ireland,, but I think the time is not far distant when that will be remedied. As to the fourth proposition, it is true that up to this time we havenot seen Australian statesmen actually ap- . pointed Governors, but we must remember that several prominent men in Australia have been Lieutenant-Governors. In theState which Senator Higgs represents, the following prominent colonists have been LieutenantGovernors :- -Sir Maurice O’Connell, Sir Joshua Bell, Sir Arthur Palmer, and Sir Samuel Griffith. The terms of office of these gentlemen, when added together, amount to a number of years.
– Did they fill the position with credit 1
-They filled the position very satisfactorily, but ‘a Lieu- tenant-Governor is somewhat different from, a Governor. Acting in the same capacity we have had Sir Frederick Darley in New South Wales, Sir John Madden in Victoria, and Sir Samuel Way in South Australia. Itwill be Seen that colonists have had a fairopportunity of occupying prominent officesof the kind, and doing honour to themselves and the States they represent. Senator Higgs seemed to think I had been unfortunate in my allusion to the Governor-General visiting all the important towns of theCommonwealth. I did not mean that the Governor-General should reside for a time in every town ; ‘but if the respective States.
Governments chose to place their Governmenthouses at his disposal, he ought to be at perfect liberty to avail himself of the courtesy. Senator Neild has already referred to the fact that the State Governors usually have two residences ; and I do not see why the Governor-General, in addition to his official residence at the capital when it is founded, should not also have official residences in the two larger States.
– That would be three residences.
– If the State Governments chose to offer the premises, why not?
– Senator Walker evidently wants to send the Governor-General into the Insolvency Court.
– I hope that if the motion goes to a division, the views of Senator Higgs will not prove to be the views of a majority of honorable senators.
– In my opinion, discussions of Governors and J udges ought to be avoided as much as possible in this Chamber. It is sufficiently embarrassing for a Governor to knowthat he has to hold the scales evenly as between the different political parties without every little incident connected with his career being debated, and, in some cases, debated in a semi-hostile fashion. I am sure that no one more than Senator Higgs would be averse to such a proceeding. I am rather astonished that Senator Higgs, who, in the matter of the High Court, refused to become a reformer, should now raise a discussion on what he describes as the enormous expenditure on the Governors of Australia. Senator Higgs is a representative of the working man, and I ask whether it is not notorious that in all the States the Governors have spent considerably more than their incomes.
– That is not notorious at all, but it is notorious that some of them saved half their salaries.
– Which of them ?
– Some of the half-pay men.
– At all events, I can speak for Victoria, and I can say that many of the Governors of that State have spent twice or three times the amount of their salaries. And for whose benefit ?
-It was not for Toorak, but for the benefit of the working men. Who get the benefits of the entertainments given ? The working men. The money is spent on the butcher, the baker, the cabman, and in many ways thousands of poundsare spent by people who would not otherwise spend anything. Senator Higgs was not an economist in the case of the High Court, and he has no right to describe this outlay on the Governors as extravagant.
– The expenditure in the case of the High Court is for the benefit of the Commonwealth, and not for the benefit of the working men.
- Senator Stewart was on the wrong side on that occasion ; he was then extravagant, and now he wants to be what he would call “a miserable economist.” As I said before, we should keep the Governor-General as much as possible out of our discussions. The Governor-General’s only mouth-piece is his Ministers, and it must be very painful to him to hear his actions and his movements discussed, and opinions expressed that he ought not to go. here, there, or elsewhere. Why cannot the Governor-General and Governors” in their movements be treated as. private individuals ? If Senator Higgs wished to go to Queensland, or anywhere else, he would not like to have a statement published in the newspapers as to why he had gone, and giving other particulars ?
– And have it reported how much he was spending on the trip.
– I am trying to defend the poor Governor-General’s pocket.
– If the “poor Governor-General” does not grumble, why should Senator Higgs ?
-Some of the Governors have grumbled.
– I amnot aware of it; and surely the Governor-General ought to be allowed liberty in regard to the use of his own money. Those who are advocating great economy on the present occasion did not do so in the case of the High Court, and therefore their arguments have to be taken with very many grains of salt.
– What will the honorable senator say in regard to the naval subsidy ?
– I am afraid that on that question I shall not be on the same side as Senator Higgs. I think, however, that I shall be able to show the honorable senator that the bargain he supports is the worst of the two. I am not in favour of military and naval expenditure any more than the honorable senator, but of the two evils I shall choose the least. As to the proposal to appoint Australian statesmen as Governors-General, we know that, even at the present time, the States cannot arrange their quarrels. How would the selection be made? If a man were chosen from New South Wales probably Victoria, or some of the other great colonies, would complain.
– We should have a new Kyabram movement.
– We might have a representative of Kyabram appointed. Senator Higgs is seeking to impose impossible conditions, and his proposal has no practical value. I trust that he will not carry the motion to a division, because there is nothing to be gained by such a step.
– I want to test the honorable senator’s economy.
– I have tested Senator Higgs’ economy and have very little faith in it indeed. When it suits him to air his eloquence on abstract propositions of this kind, which can lead to no practical’ results, he poses as an economist ; but when we had a practical issue before the Senate a few nights ago, where was he ? He was not a supporter of economy then. How does he reconcile the two positions? The conscience of some people seems to be very elastic. The Governor-General is a gentleman who has the respect of us all. He has to hold the balance between different political parties ; and we should endeavour to keep his name out of our debates. Senator Higgs seems to. think that the Governor-General should not travel, because travelling is dangerous. He might as well say that the illustrious Head of the British Empire should not travel. The Head of the State is the symbol of its power. The Head of the British Empire is the symbol of that power which, in the hands of its Ministers, dispenses political justice to different parties. But the King does not do that individually ; and from the point of view that it is not desirable to mix up our Governors-General with party politics, I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his motion.
– I must confessthat the utterances of my honorable friend, Senator Zeal, have surprised me very much. He was all for economy last week, but he is all the other way about this week.
– Last week we were proposing to incur new expenditure.
– We were establishing what we believed to be a useful institution, requisite in the interests of the people at large. Senator Zeal objected to that proposal on the score of expense.
– For the present.
– He was then an economist. I believed that true economy would be better served by instituting the High Court than by having the work done in the method suggested by the honorable senator and his friends ; just as I believe that it is always better when purchasing something which is necessary in the conduct of one’s business to buy a good article rather than a cheap one, merely because it is cheap. If one buys a good tool and pays a good price for it, probably it will last very much longer than an inferior one, which will not give the owner such good service. That was the principle upon which I voted last week. We are now discussing the office of GovernorGeneral, and several matters connected with the position held by him. Senator Zeal seems to look upon it as a kind of blasphemy that the office of Governor-General, or his person, should be brought into any discussion in the Senate.
– I do not think it is very courageous to attack an unarmed man.
– Where is the attack? The Governor-General is not required by the Constitution nor by the public opinion of the Commonwealth to keep up an establishment in two States.
– The Constitution does not require that the GovernorGeneral’s dinner shall be eaten cooked.
– The Constitution confers no such obligation upon the GovernorGeneral. Why was all the row caused, in consequence of which Lord Hopetoun’s resignation took place ? Was it not in consequence of the extravagant expenditure in connexion with the office? We all know that that was the cause. We also know that our economists - Senator Zeal amongst the number - were opposed to cutting down the salary and allowances of the late GovernorGeneral.
– Because I know that he is a most estimable and good man.
– I am not discussing the man. The honorable senator does not seem to be able to disconnect the man from his office. I am not saying a word with respect to Lord Hopetoun personally.
– He is a countryman of the honorable senator’s.
– It is not always a certificate of character to be a Scotchman. There are good Scotchmen and bad Scotchmen.
– Very few bad ones.
– I suppose I may look upon myself as one of the minority. Lord Tennyson, the present GovernorGeneral, is, I suppose, an estimable nobleman ; as is also the gentleman who is to succeed him. We are not discussing these distinguished persons as individuals. We are merely dealing with the expenditure connected with their office. It is perfectly well known that, but for the insane jealousy of Sydney with regard to Melbourne, the proposal that the Governor-General should reside for a portion of the year in Sydney would never have been brought forward.
– What does it matter? New South Wales is the mother State.
– So far as the Federation is concerned, we do not know any State.
– We know them all.
– We do not know one in preference to another. The honorable senator says that, because New South Wales is the mother state, the GovernorGeneral ought to live in it for a portion of the year. I should not object to the GovernorGeneral living in Sydney, were it not for the mean, petty spirit which prompted the proposal, in the first instance, that he should have his residence there for a portion of the year. As I have already mentioned, it was the jealousy with regard to Melbourne that gave-rise to the proposal.
– If the Victorians do not object, why should the honorable senator ?
– Why should not the Governor-General live in Brisbane for a portion of the year? Why should he not live in Adelaide, or in Perth? Whyshould he not have residences in each of the States? If the Commonwealth is willing to bear the burden of this extravagance, I shall not object very much. But we ought not to be called upon to minister to the envious spirit that has found a place in the minds of the. people of Sydney. No ; I will not say the people of Sydney - I apologize to them ; I will say the minds of a certain section of the people of Sydney - the society section, whose chief aim in life is to grovel at the feet either of royalty itself or some faint pale reflection of royalty. There appears to be a section of the community which cannot live unless it is prostrating itself mentally or physically, or in both ways, at the feet of somebody or something ; and that somebody usually takes the form of a titled individual from the other end of the world. I have no objection to these people indulging their passion, any more than I should object to a Chinaman abasing himself before his joss. But what I contend is that if they will grovel they should do so at their own expense. Do not let them come round with the hat and ask others to contribute to the cost of their antics.
– Did not the Sydney people offer to pay the expense themselves?
– They did not. The Government of New South Wales has offered, which means that the people of New South Wales would pay, whilst the people of Potts Point would” enjoy. That makes it all the worse. I agree with Senator Higgs that the Commonwealth ought not to permit the Governor-General to take a dole, for that is just what it means, from the Treasurer of any State. It is practically putting the Governor-General in the position of a pauper. The assumption is that the Commonwealth cannot afford to maintain the Governor-General in proper style, and therefore the State Government is to be called upon to contribute sums in aid. That is derogatory both to the Commonwealth and the Governor-General, and should be put a stop to as soon as possible. Senator Neild gave as a reason why the Governor-General should have two residences that State Governors have two residences. But, if the States are guilty of extravagance, it is all the more reason why we should set them a good example. In :he early days, when the salaries of the Governors were fixed, and the residences which they occupied were built, extravagance was the order of the day, and luxurious living was the general custom amongst certain sections of society. But we are now living in a time when economy is on all men’s lips, if it is not in their minds. It is agreed on all hands that a simpler method of living should be the rule of life, not only for Governors, but for all the welltodo classes of society. That being the ease, we may very well restrict our GovernorGeneral to that extremely handsome residence which is provided for him by the Commonwealth Government in Melbourne.
– It is provided by the State Government.
– It was built by the State Government, and is another instance of the wanton extravagance of the Victorian people.
– If we do not object, why should the honorable senator?
– But Senator Zeal and a section of the Victorian people are continually howling for economy. They object when we propose to raise a public servant’s salary from £90 to £110 a year. They say that the Commonwealth is going to fall into a heap of ruins when we propose to deal fairly and squarely with the humbler workers. But when we come forward with a proposition to limit what ‘I believe to be an unnecessary expense, the honorable senator is horror stricken. ‘ That is a sample of our ‘ Ky yabramites “ The policy of the Kyabramites all through has been to give every assistance in spending so far as luxuries ave concerned, but to apply the pruning knife to the necessaries of life. That may be the principle which governs the honorable senator and his associates, but I can’ assure him that those who sit in this corner are animated by quite a different idea.
– I have never adopted that principle. I suppose that corner is a New Jerusalem.
– It is a New Jerusalem in the bud, and the flower and the fruit will appear in due time. Our object is to cut away every unnecessary expenditure, and we are animated by a double purpose.
– Including payment of members 1
– In the minds of some men that is an unnecessary expenditure, but we are not discussing that question, or I might have some remarks to make. We have two objects, I repeat, in cutting away unnecessary expenditure. We save money by abolishing unnecessary officials, and with the money so saved we are able to give better remuneration to those officials who are necessary, but who occupy, in my honorable friend’s opinion, probably, a very humble position in the Commonwealth or State economy. That is our policy, shortly stated. The third paragraph of the motion reads as follows : -
The salary of ten thousand pounds (£10,000) is adequate payment for all the services the GovernorGeneral is expected, according to the Constitution and by the public of the Commonwealth, to perform.
I have never been able to discover yet what services the Governor-General performs which require such a handsome payment as £10,000 a year. Speaking without reference to the individual, in my opinion the office is altogether unnecessary. The holder performs no useful function in the government of the Commonwealth, and yet in salary and allowances he gets £2,000 more per annum than is paid to all the ‘ senators on these benches, who possess such great influence, and who are charged with such a serious responsibility in the conduct of the affairs of the Commonwealth. Just contrast one position with the other. One useless office swallows up £16,000 per annum, while 36 senators, elected by, and responsible to, the people of the Commonwealth, and charged with .a certain amount of responsibility for the management of its affairs, receive only £14,000 per annum amongst them, less income tax.
– £10,000 too much.
– I am astonished that my honorable friend left the £4,000 to the senators, because I quite expected him to say that it was £14,000 too much.
– Probably it is.
– My honorable friend would be delighted if payment of senators were abolished. He would probably find himself surrounded, not by persons like .those who sit in this corner, but by persons who would be more to his liking - rich men like himself, who would be glad to do the work of legislation apparently for nothing, but who would take very good care to pay themselves handsomely by indirect methods.
– This is too bad.
– That is exactly what was done before payment of members was introduced.
– That is very unfair.
– It may be very unkind, but unfortunately it is all too true. The extraordinary thing about this objection to payment of members is that the objectors are willing to perform the services for nothing.
– Does the honorable senator think that payment of members has anything to do with the question before the Senate ?
– I felt, sir, that I was transgressing, but I was thrown off the track by the interjection. The last paragraph of the motion reads in this way -
The Federal Government should respectfully invite the Imperial authorities to appoint as Governor-General one of the several Australian statemen who have served their country faithfully and well.
I have only one objection to the paragraph, and it is that it limits the choice to statesmen. I do not know whether I should be eligible or not. I should like to have a definition of a statesman.
– A member of the Senate, of course.
-I do not see why the choice should be limited to members of the Senate, or of the other House. Why ought not the position of chief citizen to be open to the men and women of the whole Commonwealth.
– Yes ; my honorable friend talks contemptuously of women.
– I do not.
– I am sure that there is no man in Australia who more reverenced a woman during her life, and who more reverences her memory now - I refer to the late Queen - than does the honorable senator, and if a lady were fitted to fill that exalted position, a lady should be fitted to fill the office of GovernorGeneral.
– What would she be called?
– We should find a name for the lady. There are many excellent reasons why the motion ought to be adopted. Let us take the United States. It has had a succession of men, I believe the most illustrious in history, occupying the position of chief citizen. It has produced the men. Its people have taken a pride in the selection of their President. I believe the very fact that the chief office in the gift of the nation was open to every citizen has helped to raise the people as a whole.
– Not the female citizens, though.
– I am not speaking of the women. We are, or ought to be, in advance of the people of the United States in that regard. I believe that if the Governor-General were chosen by the people of Australia, the office would become an object of ambition to our young people, and it would tend very much to improve the tone of our public life. Senator Neild spoke somewhat disrespectfully of the public men who were mentioned by Senator Higgs. I believe that, if they were compared as individuals with those who have held a viceregal position in the States, and even in the Commonwealth, they would not lose anything by the comparison. On the whole, I would recommend the motion to the favorable consideration of honorable senators. It breathes economy and patriotism, and these are the two things which I think are required in Australia more than anything else at the present time.
– I only propose to say a few words on the first part of the motion in which Senator Higgs expresses the opinion that -
The Governor-General is not required by the Constitution nor by the public opinion of the Commonwealth to maintain or occupy an establishment or home in each of the States, or in two States.
There is no doubt that that statement is absolutely correct, in spite of anything which may be said here to the contrary. It is perfectly certain that neither the Constitution nor the bulk of the people of the Commonwealth expected two Governmenthouses to be kept up.
– Where is the Governmenthouse to be, then ?
– As it would involve a complete divergence from the terms of the motion, I propose to keep myself in order by not discussing that question but I shall be quite prepared, if the honorable senator will afford nae an opportunity at some other time, to discuss it fully. It is not a subject which should be dealt with lightly in response to an interjection. Those who have sought to justify the maintenance of two Government-houses have been forced, by paucity of argument in its support, to quote the fact that in each State the Governor has had a residence in the capital at the coast, and a summer residence in the hills. There is no analogy between thatsituation and the maintenance of residences in Melbourne and Sydney for the Governor - General. Neither palace is in any sense suitable for summer occupation, and the whole object in providing a Governor with two residences has been that during the summer when residence in the capital was absolutely unbearable, he could go to the hills and enjoy a peaceful quiet time in cool fresh air. If a proposal, based on that logical suggestion, had been made, and it had been pointed out that the Governor-General could reside in some high place in New South Wales, or at Mount Lofty in South Australia, or at any other places where Governors have been accustomed to live, I should have thought it most reasonable ; but it has never been made. The proposal that we should spend money in keeping up two Government-houses, was brought forward unhappily as a sop to Victoria and New South Wales. I do not propose to go into the question whether both States were entitled to a Federal Government-house, but both States made the claim, and, to use Senator Drake’s word’s, “ a compromise was arranged.”
– That was in regard to the seat of government. The compromise is embodied in the Constitution.
– I thought the honorable and learned senator referred to the provision for two Government-houses as the result of the compromise.
– That was in regard to the seat of government. The compromise is embodied in the Constitution.
– I accept the honorable and learned senator’s explanation. From the first day on which the Federal Parliament met, we have been anxious to know how it arose that two Government-houses were grafted on to the Constitution, and we have never been able, in the Senate at any rate, to obtain any explanation of how this additional expense was thrown upon the country. I desire to make quite clear my reasons for supporting the amendment. We must consider what will be the logical outcome of the present position of affairs. It will be that, as soon as under the Constitution we have established our capital in our own territory, we shall be face to face with the fact that each of these States will demand a Government-house in its capital aswell. Senator Drake shakes his head, but,. I venture to say that, so surely as I am standing on this spot at this moment, we shall find that such a claim will be put forward, and on exactly the same groundsas have been advanced in support of the claim in the past. What will then be our position? We shall be saddled not only with the cost of maintaining a Governmenthouse in Melbourne and Sydney, but with the cost of maintaining a. Government-house at the Federal capital. The same reasons will be given, the same eloquence will be aired, and we shall be told, as we have been told, that an analogy exists between the trips which the Governor-General will make to the other States and the fact that he resides in New South Wales. In connexion with these trips, the fact is that having two Governmenthouses is one of the chief obstacles, arising to prevent the Governor-General making these trips. He spends his timepartly in Sydney and partly in Melbourne. I believe the present Governor-General’ spends part of his time in South Australia -r but, so far as I know, none of the other States have received a visit from him, because, during his spare time in the recess, has been living in New South Wales. I donot propose to discuss paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 of the motion at length. Personally, I think that if a State Governmentchooses to place a Government-house at the disposal of the Governor-General there can be no possible objection to the adoption of such a course. Senator Walker told usthat the Parliament of New South Wales was prepared to provide £3,500 for the maintenance of Government-house at Sydney, but the honorable senator quite forgot to carry the position a little further, and point out that it was contingent upon the other States providing a further £6,500 towards the same expenditure.
– Tha£ is quite true. We were prepared to pay our share.
– So that the action of New South Wales was not unconditional in any sense. The other States were to be assessed with their proportion of -an estimated vote of £10,000, which was to be placed at the disposal of the GovernorGeneral.
– That was for the Governor-General’s residence, whereever it might happen to be, and not specially for New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. It was part of a general arrangement, of which we have never been able to learn the exact terms - a general arrangement come to by which Mr. Chamberlain was induced to suggest to Lord Hopetoun that he should keep up two Government-houses. It was distinctly in that connexion. Senator Neild will find it -so stated by Sir George Turner, when the right honorable gentleman introduced the Bill to provide for Victoria’s quota in the Victorian State Parliament. Sir George Turner distinctly said that this further -expenditure arose from the fact that, through some undisclosed means, an arrangement had been made that a second Government-house should be kept up for the Governor-General. I am quoting only in general terms, but if Senator Neild chooses to refer to the Victorian Hansard he will find the remarks to which I refer set out in full.
– I believe the honorable senator is quite right.
– Honorable senators may rely upon the fact that I am quite right, because I took particular pains on a previous occasion to look up this matter. I think that every State is entitled to place a Government-house at’ the disposal of the Governor-General in order that he may visit and gain a general knowledge of all the States, which it must be admitted on every side he should obtain. It is only by so doing, or by placing an unfair tax upon State Governors, that the Governor-General can acquire that knowledge. I cannot, therefore, support the second paragraph of the motion, nor can I support paragraphs 3 and 4. I do not think that a salary of £10,000 is as much as the Governor-General requires to have placed at his disposal. I believe that the experience of the States has proved that. The fact that we have found ourselves obliged by a vote of Parliament to provide extra money for the maintenance of these official residences of the Governor-General is the very best proof that thi3 is the opinion of the majority as well as my own.
– I have been rather surprised- by the concluding remarks of Senator Matheson, because I believe that when the question of the cost of the Governor-General’s establishment was before the Senate on another occasion the honorable senator led the Senate to believe that, in his opinion, £10,000 would be a quite sufficient salary for the GovernorGeneral with the additional £5,000 or £6,000 voted by Parliament.
– That is so, but I did not say that £10,000 was enough without the other allowances.
– Senator Higgs does not expect the Governor-General to defray the whole expenses of his establishment out of his salary of £10,000 a year.
– That is what this motion says.
– I think Senator Higgs said so.
– I did not understand that to be the honorable senator’s intention in moving the motion. The matter was fully debated in the Senate and in another place, and while it was decided that the salary should be £10,000 a year, the outcome of the discussion was the passing of a Bill by both Houses of the Federal Parliament limiting the expenditure upon the establishment of the GovernorGeneral to £6,000, in addition to the constitutional salary. I do not think there is a disposition on the part of any honorable senator to object to that amount being voted for the upkeep of the Governor-General’s establishment. I do not feel inclined to object to it, but I am quite of the opinion that the first paragraph of the motion is in accord with the feeling of the vast majority of the people of Australia. I think we cannot do better in considering this question than rely upon the Constitution, which clearly lays it down that the seat of government of the Commonwealth shall be in Melbourne until such time as the Federal capital is established.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. The Constitution says that the seat of government shall be in New South Wales.
- Senator Walker is only splitting straws, because he knows that, to all intents and purposes, the place where Parliament meets is for the time being the seat of government. I do not think that the Constitution contemplated for a moment that there should be two establishments kept up for the Governor-General. . I must admit that the Minister for Defence puts rather a different aspect upon the question when he shows that the cost to the Commonwealth is not increased. If I understood the honorable and learned senator aright, he showed that out of £6,015 the cost of the establishment, £3,515 was spent in Melbourne and £2,500 in Sydney, and in answer to an interjection the Minister for Defence also assured the Senate that the cost was not any greater than it would have been if the Governor-General had spent all his time in Victoria.
– -I believe that is correct.
– While I am one of those who positively assert that the Constitution did not contemplate that there should be two establishments provided for the Governor-General, I scarcely feel bound to vote for a motion which would place a bar upon the Governor-General, spending a certain amount of time in other States than Victoria.
– That is not the . intention of the motion.
– If it is not the intention of the motion, Senator Higgs will allow me to say that his motion hardly makes his intention quite clear. Does the honorable senator mean that the total cost of the Governor-General’s establishment, including his’ salary, is to be paid out of the £10,!’0U a year ?
– No ; that is his- salary, and the cost of the upkeep of the establishment is a matter for Parliament.
– That is what I said in reply to Senator Matheson just now.
– I would not expect the Governor-General to pay for lighting and so on in connexion with Government-house.
– Then there is no difference between us, if Senator Higgs is agreeable that, in addition to the constitutional salary of £10,000’ a year, Parliament shall vote every year a certain sum for the upkeep of his establishment.
– For the up-keep of one Government-house.
– If the honorable senator is willing to accept the assertion of the Minister for Defence, he will admit that the fact that the Governor-General spent some time in Sydney has not cost the Commonwealth any more than if he had remained all the time in Melbourne.
– I would not accept that statement.
– I accept what the Minister has said, and I can have no objection to the Governor-General spending a certain time in Sydney when. that involves no additional cost to the Commonwealth. As Senator Drake has given the Senate that assurance, I scarcely feel inclined to vote for the motion. With the proposal contained in paragraph 4 I am entirely in accord. I am one who believes that the day- will come, and I hope it is not far distant, when some Australian statesman who has served his country faithfully will be chosen for the distinguished position of Governor-General. The objection of the Minister for Defence to this proposal is that it might give rise to> jealousy as between State and State ; but in adopting this part of the motion we should only be following the longestablished usage in America, where I do not know that any great jealousy is caused.
– Our GovernorsGeneral represent the King, and there is noanalogy between the two cases.
– There is no doubt that the Governor-General is the Imperial link ; but does Senator Playford say that a distinguished Australian statesman could not be the representative of the King ?
– Certainly, I do not;, but I say there is no analogy between the King and the President.
– As we have now almost reached the limit of the time allowed for private members’ business, I do not propose to say more. I do not feel myself able to vote for the proposals contained in the first, second, and third paragraphs of the motion.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I have not time to reply at length to Senator Drake’s observations. I could show him, if time allowed, that his view that the expenditure covers the maintenance of the two Government-houses is quite incorrect. If Senator Drake refers to the papers which were laid on the table in August of last year, he will see that the expenditure on the maintenance of Melbourne Governmenthouse is £500, and on the Sydney. Governmenthouse, £250. The Domain Gardens in Melbourne require £900 and in Sydney. £750. Does Senator Drake suggest that the £750 would be spent on the Melbouone grounds if there were only one establishment?
– There may be other expenses, but I am taking the Treasurer’s figures to show the cost during the three years. I am relying on the Estimates for 1903-4.
– I cannot go further into the matter, but I hope that honorable senators will vote in my favour.
– I shall put each paragraph as a separate motion.
Question - That paragraph 1, “ The Governor-General is not required by the Constitution, nor by the public opinion of the Commonwealth, to maintain or occupy an establishment or home in each of the States or in two States,” be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like to draw attention to the fact that I paired with Senator Smith, and ought to have left the Senate before the division.
– The Senate cannot take any notice of pairs.
Question - That paragraph 2, “ The proposal that State Governments shall contribute to the up-keep of the GovernorGeneral’s establishments is objectionable,” be agreed to - resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph 3, “ The salary of Ten thousand pounds (£10,000) per annum is adequate payment for all the services the Governor-General is expected, according to the Constitution and by the public of the Commonwealth, to perform,” be agreed to - put, The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That paragraph 4, “ The Federal Government should respectfully invite the Imperial authorities to appoint as Governor-General one of the several Australian statesmen who have served their country faithfully and well,” be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from18th June, vide page 1073) :
On the first day of the meeting of any session of Parliament, after a general election for the Senate and the House of Representatives, or after a general election for the House of Representatives -
If there be a President, he shall take the chair.
The members of the House of Representatives being come, the Clerk shall read the commission.
– I recollect that when we were previously discussing the standing orders, it was understood that we should have a provision similar to the one which is contained in the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly of South Australia to the effect that, in any case not provided for, the rules, forms, and practice of the House of Commons should be followed.
– Perhaps I may explain that the Standing Orders Committee have prepared a new report, and that they recommend that such a standing order shall be inserted.
– I move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted before paragraph (a): - “The Clerk shall cause the Senate bell to be rung five minutes prior to the hour named in the proclamation.”
Honorable senators are aware that prior to the ordinary meetings of the Senate the bells are always rung. Honorable senators may be either in the library or in the clubroom, and unless the bells are rung prior to the commencement of a new Parliament, they may not be aware that the proceedings are’ about to commence. As we find the ringing of the bells very convenient prior to the meeting of Parliament on ordinary days, the same convenience ought to be afforded when a new Parliament is opened.
– The bells will be rung as a matter of course.
– I do not know if that has been the practice, but, if so, we may as well have a standing order to that effect.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - Does the honorable senator think it necessary to have such a standing order? The bells are always rung on such occasions. The paragraph will do no harm, but is it necessary ?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I move -
That, after the word “ Chair “ in paragraph (a), the following words be inserted : - ‘“at the hour named in the proclamation.”
I dare say that it is the custom for the President and the Clerks to be in their places, but it appears tome to be important that there should be a direction in the standing orders that, if there be a President, he shall take the chair at the hour named in the proclamation, which is usually 12 o’clock.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I move -
That, alter the word “ Representatives “ in paragraph (e), the words “being come” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words ‘ ‘ or so many of them as respond to the summons, shall sit in the Senate Chamber, together with the members of the Senate. “
Those who were present when this subject was previously under consideration will recollect that the general opinion was that it was too bad to keep members of the House of Representatives standing in the gangway, and other inconvenient places, like poor relations at some squire’s banquet.. There was a general opinion that it would lead to greater harmony amongst members of the two Chambers if, at the opening of Parliament, they sat together in this Chamber. I agree that on the last occasion it was not within the provinceof the President to direct members of the Senate to give up their places to members of the House of Representatives ; but, inasmuch as there are 36 members of the Senate, and there is ample room in this Chamber for 70 or80 people, and as some members of the House of Representatives certainly took exception to having to stand outside, a provision might be agreed to for the purpose of providing them with better accommodation .
– I quite agree with the honorable senator that it would be a good thing to make a departure from the old rule upon this subject. I should be willing to go to the extent of providing that, as many members of the House of Representatives as can be accommodated in some special place assigned to them, shall be accommodated in the chamber. But it would hardly be right and fitting that they should take their places here just as do members of the Senate. They should occupy special places allotted for the purpose.
– I should be willing to strike out the words “together with the members of the Senate.”
– That would do. Then special arrangements can be made for the members of the House of Representatives. That would be left to the President
Amendment amended accordingly.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - If I had thought that I had authority, and that it was within the scope , of my powers, I should have allotted the back benches to the members of the House of Representatives on the occasion of the closing of the last session. But I did not think that I had any authority to turn honorable senators out of their seats. I quite agree with Senator Higgs’ proposal. I also agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that it is just as well that seats should be provided for the members of the House of Representatives upon the floorof the Senate Chamber, but that they should notsit with themembers of the Senate.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Standing order, as amended, agreed to.
On the first day of the meeting of any session of Parliament which shall not be after a general election for the Senate and the House of Representatives, or after a general election for the House of Representatives -
If there be a President -
The President shall take the Chair.
If there be no President -
The Clerk shall read the Proclamation calling Parliament together.
– This standing order prescribes, first, what shall happen if there be a President, and secondly, what shall happen if there be no President, while the next one provides that the Senate shall then adjourn. It appears to me that the latter refers to the second part of the former, and not to the whole of it. Take a case to which the first part of the standing order applies. The Senate did not adjourn when the Parliament was opened this session, but went on with business. If the standing order is not altered, and it is followed by Standing Orders 3 and 4 in their present form, it will become necessary for the Senate to adjourn whether there is a President or whether there is not a President. The third standing order might be made paragraph (g) of the previous one, but then the fourth standing order says -
At the next meeting after the adjournment the President shall take the chair and wait the arrival of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
The third and fourth standing orders seem to me to apply to the second part of the second standing order.
– Make them paragraphs (g) and (h) of the second standing order.
– I think it would be right if we made that alteration, but at the present time the standing order is not in accordance with the practice followed this session.
– It is usual for the Parliament to meet at twelve o’clock, and to go through the preliminaries, and then to meet again at two o’clock, when His Excellency attends and delivers his speech. I do not know that there is any very great reason why we should adjourn, but it will probably be convenient to meet at twelve o’clock, adjourn for luncheon, and meet again when His Excellency comes to open the Parliament. The standing orders are not intended to alter the practice in any way.
– But the GovernorGeneral came down before luncheon this session?
Amendments (by Senator Higgs) agreed to-
That after the word “ Chair,” line 7, the words “at the hour named in the Proclamation” be inserted.
That after the word “ shall,” line 9, the words “ at the hournamed in the Proclamation” be inserted.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - Minister for Defence). - It was stated just now by Senator Baker that the Parliament was usually opened by the Governor-General at half-past two o’clock, but I find that this session was opened at noon. The journals of the Senate for the 26th May state that at noon the Clerk of the Parliament read the Proclamation ; that the Parliament was opened by the Governor-General ; that His Excellency and the members of the other House retired ; that the President read prayers, and reported that two vacancies had occurred in the recess ; that a reference was made to a late senator ; that a Bill was introduced pro formâ ; that petitions were presented, that it was announced that new senators had been chosen; and finally it was ordered that the Senate, at its rising, should adjourn until halfpast two o’clock next day. It was all done at one sitting, lasting from noon until one o’clock. This standing order provides for a different practice. It says that where there is a President the Senate is to adjourn, and His Excellency to arrive at the next meeting ; but if there is no President the Senate is to elect a President and adjourn, and that at the next meeting the Governor-General is to arrive and the other proceedings are to go on. The standing orders as they read would make it compulsory on the part of the Senate to adjourn after the President had taken the chair, the Clerk had read the proclamation, and the writs of election had been laid on the table. At the present moment I cannot see exactly how the inconsistency with our practice should be cured.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I would suggest to Senator Drake that it will meet the case if we insert a new paragraph (g) to the effect that after a new President has been elected, the Senate may adjourn, so that it shall not provide for an adjournment where there is a President.
– It will not do as it is, because it is contrary to our practice, and even if we inserted the suggested paragraph it would tie the Senate down to a particular procedure. If there is any business to be done after a President has been elected why should it not be done ?
– We cannot transact business until the new President has been presented to the Governor-General.
– The sitting of the Senate can be suspended until the presentation has been made, and that is provided for in Standing Orders 24 and 25. I think that we should strike out Standing Orders 3 and 4.
Standing Order, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed Standing Orders 3 and 4 negatived.
Postponed Standing Orders 5 to 16, and 182, agreed to.
Postponed Standing Order 196 (Decision of Committee not to be reversed in same Committee).
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I think it my duty to point out to the Committee that this standing order involves a departure from our present practice. Our present practice is that a matter may be reconsidered in the same Committee without a report. That practice has its advantages, but it also has great disadvantages. One advantage is that on the same evening those who have a majority can reverse decisions formerlyarrived at ; but one great inconvenience and unfairness involved is that no notice is given to honorable senators present that it is proposed to reverse decisions which the Committee has already arrived at. It was that unfairness which led the Standing Orders Committee to propose this standing order as it now stands.
Standing Order agreed to.
Postponed Standing Order 233 agreed to.
Postponed Standing Order 242 (Proceedings on Bills which the Senate may not amend).
– The whole of these Standing Orders, from 242 to 250,. deal with the practice in regard to requests. It is a matter for very serious consideration whether it is necessary to have all these standing orders, Or whether it might not be necessary to have only Standing Order 248 providing for the proceedings in Committee on the Bill. We are dealing here with an entirely new power given to us under Section 53 of the Constitution. That section gives the Senate power at any stage to return to the House of Representatives any proposed law, and the section leaves the hands of the Senate perfectly free to deal with the Bill at any stage whatever, and wherever it bacomes necessary to carry a request it maybe carried and sent down to the other House. It appears to me, that as the object of this section of the Constitution is to bring about agreement between the two Houses - and we never know the matter about which a dispute may arise, or the time orcircumstances in which it may be necessary to put this section into force - if we adopt these standing orders they will tie our hands verymuch, and perhaps at a time when for the solution of the difficulty between the two Houses, it may be necessary that the hands of the Senate should be quite free. There is only one set of circumstances in which the ordinary rules regarding the amendment of Bills in Committee cannot apply, and that is in regard to the way in which the clauses are put. It appears to me that if we provide that in regard to these Bills, they shall be treated exactly as other Bills in every respect, with the exception of the putting of the clauses to the Committee, that will be all that is necessary. The Chairman of Committees will, no doubt, remember that in the earlier stages of the first session there was some difficulty about the putting of questions in Committee on these Bills. If in some instances the Chairman put the question to the Committee in the ordinary way - “That the clause stand as printed,” and that question were carried in the negative, we should have amended a Bill which we could not amend under the Constitution. The only way in which the clauses of such a Bill can be put is that provided by Standing Order 248, which adopts the practice we have been following. The clause of a Bill is not put definitely to the vote. The Committee is asked if there are any requests, and if there are none the clause is declared passed, whilst if there are requests they are carried ornot as the case may be, and the Committee acts accordingly.I, therefore, suggest that we should not pass any of these standing orders up to Standing Order 248. The standing order to which I particularly object is 246, which provides -
The Senate may, after the Bill has been three times sent back by the Senate to the House of Representatives, and three times returned by that House, demand a free conference in reference to the Bill.
Why limit ourselves to three times? We may desire to send it back a great many more times. Then, with regard to a free conference, I take it that it is within the power of the Senate at any time to deal with a case as it arises. I propose, when the proper time comes, to move that Standing Order 248 should read somewhat in this way-
All proceedings in Committee on Bills which the Senate may not amend, shall be as far as possible, the same as in the case of other Bills, provided that the Chairman shall, unless otherwise ordered, call on each clause or item - and so on, as already provided in the standing order. I mention the matter now, because it appears to me that from the point of view I put, the whole of these standing orders ought to be discussed together.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated, what he is perfectly right in stating, that if we pass these standing orders concerning Bills which the Senate may not amend we shall tie the hands of the Senate. But that is true of the whole of our standing orders. If the honorable and learned senator’s argument is a soundone, we should not have any standing orders at all. The object of standing orders is to provide for the procedure in ordinary cases, so as to prevent unnecessary discussion, and to insure convenience in the general conduct of business. If the necessity arises, the standing orders can always be suspended, and they often are suspended when an emergency occurs. I can see no soundness in the argument advanced by Senator O’Connor. If it is correct it should be carried still further, and we should say as to other Bills which the Senate may amend, that the whole of our standing orders tie us down to certain procedure ; and if we desire to be absolutely free and unfettered we should have no standing orders laying down the procedure with reference to otherBills. Senator O’Connor says that the proceedings on Bills which the Senate may not amend are the same as on other Bills, except as to the way in which the clauses are put to the Committee. The honorable and learned senator has overlooked the fact that in the case of Bills which we may amend, and do amend, we finally pass the Bill. The report of the Committee upon the Bill is adopted, we pass the third reading of the measure, and we send the Bill down to the House of Representatives. So that in those cases the Bill passes its third reading in both Houses, subject to agreement on certain amendments. But in the case of Bills which we may not amend, but upon which we may make requests, we do not pass the third reading in the Senate. We do not take the Bill out of Committee. We simply make areport, send down a request to the House of Representatives, and when a Message is sent to us in answer to our Message we go back into Committee on the Bill. There is a difference there in our method of procedure which I think Senator O’Connor has overlooked.
-We have not always done that.
– I certainly think we have.
– We dealt differently with the last Bill we amended.
– Whe re we amended a Bill, and also made a request, I admit that there was an exception. I am dealing now, and these standing orders deal, with Bills which we may not amend at all, and we have not passed the third reading of such Bills until the two Houses are in agreement. We have always left those Bills in Committee when a request has been made by the Senate. That is the practice in South Australia, and the practice which has been adopted here Whether we pass these standing orders as they appear, or adopt the suggestion of the “Vice-President of the Executive Council, is only a matter of convenience, and of what is the best method to adopt. I call the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the last report of the Standing Orders Committee. The Committee felt that a good many members of the Senate thought they ought to make some effort to come into accord with the House of Representatives. We made that effort, and the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate authorized me to write a letter to the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives. I wrote a letter which set forth Standing Orders 246 and 248. We received a reply from the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives, in which, if they did not agree to what we proposed, they at all events made no objection. Having told them that we proposed to do a certain thing, and they having made no objection, I do not say that we are now absolutely bound, but there seems to me to be some sort of obligation upon us to keep faith with them by doing what we told them we proposed to do.
– There is no obligation on the Senate.
– There is no obligation perhaps ; but, on the score of peace and harmony at alf events, having informed the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives that we intended to adopt a certain course, and they having made no objection, will it not be conducive to a good understanding if we now follow the course which we told them we proposed to adopt ? Senator O’Connor asks why we should bind ourselves not to ask for a free conference until three Messages have passed between the Houses. The reason the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate adopted that provision is that it embodies the practice in connexion with ordinary Bills. In connexion with those Bills three communications are provided for between the Houses, and if they cannot agree on the third communication, a conference is asked for. Of course we bind ourselves by these standing orders, but we do not bind our- ‘ selves any more than we do in connexion with ordinary Bills. Why should we make a distinction and a difference by holding ourselves absolutely free in one case and not in another ? I do not see that there is any principle involved in the matter. I do not see that there is any principle involved in any of these standing orders. The question is merely one of convenience, and honorable senators must recollect that the same power which makes these standing orders can alter them if it is shown that there is any necessity for an alteration. We can make or amend our standing orders without interference from any other power. I do not feel strongly upon the matter, but I have thought it well to put the opposite side to that which has been put to the Committee by the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– I agree with Senator Baker, and I may say that I cannot understand the’ position taken up by Senator O’Connor. It may be that the honorable senator was not present when we discussed the standing orders. The Committee pretty well agreed that there ought to be finality, and that it would not be conducive to the speedy transaction of public business if there was an impression in the minds of members of both Houses that they could keep throwing a Bill from House to House for an indefinite period.
– A free conference does not mean absolute finality.
– But we want to let the members of the House of Representatives know that there is a risk that at a certain stage a Bill may be shelved - that that risk will arise when the third exchange has been made, and therefore they ought to make up their minds before then as to what they are going to do, while we should also make up our minds whether we shall pass the Bill without amendment, or reject it.
– Or ask for a free conference.
– Or ask for a free conference. I think we are almost bound to pass the proposed standing order. When these particular standing orders in reference to Money Bills came before the Senate, members urged that they should not be passed until some understanding had been arrived at with the Standing Orders Committee of another place. Some members of the House of Representatives, when the Tariff Bill was under discussion, declined to agree that we had the right to send a Bill down a second time. The resolution that was carried by the House of Representatives in reference to our second series of requests was to the effect that that House refrained from exercising its constitutional rights in the interests of public business. There were some members of the Government who denied the right which the Senate claimed to send a Bill back at any stage. The President has told us that in response to the wishes expressed during the discussion, he wrote to the Standing Orders Committee of the other Chamber in these terms -
The Standing Orders Committee of the Senate have, this day, passed a resolution, namely, “That the chairman transmit a copy of Standing Orders No. 246 and No. 24-9 to the chairman of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives, with a request for the concurrence of that committee therein ; or, failing such concurrence, that a conference of the respective committees may be arranged on the subject.
To that communication the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee of another place replied -
My committee thanks your committee for its courtesy, and has resolved that you should be informed that there is nothing in the standing orders us recommended by it to the House of Representatives for adoption that is in conflict with the two proposed standing orders of the Senate. Under the circumstances, therefore, your committee will agree that a conference between the two committees will not be necessary.
Is that not- a striking admission? The Standing Orders Committee of this Chamber approached the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives, and asked if the latter had any objection to the two standing orders we proposed to adopt in regard to Money Bills, suggesting that, if there was any objection, there should be a free conference. The reply came that there was nothing to object to, and that in the opinion of the Standing Orders Committee in another place no conference was necessary. Does that not strengthen the hands of this ‘ Chamber ? “Will it not strengthen our hands at some future time when we send our requests down, as we think, and as another place has already agreed, we are entitled to do. But if we do not have these standing orders, of what use will be the admission I have read ?
– It is of no use now, as I am going to point out. It does not give us anything.
– It shows, to my mind, that if ever our right is challenged to send a Bill down at any stage within reason, we shall have a great advantage. When honorable members, who object to our right, go before the public and urge the absurdity of the Senate returning a Bill time after time, even, as some of them put it, up to 100 times, we may urge that the Senate has no desire to be unreasonable. It can be pointed out that on behalf of the Senate a letter was written to the Standing Orders Committee of another place suggesting that there should be three exchanges, and that a reply was received stating that there was no objection to such a course. Do honorable senators not see that this places us in a much stronger position before the public ?
– The public will judge on the merits of the question, and not by the number of times a Bill is sent back.
– The public will consider all the circumstances. Honorable senators will readily see that a crisis may occur on a minor question, as it might have occurred in connexion with the Sugar Bounty Bill. That in itself was a small question, but the constitutional aspect was large. It would not do for us to appear before the public as merely endeavouring to strengthen our position as a Senate, and contending for a right to send a Bill back as often as we liked regardless of the merits of the proposal.
– We need not necessarily send the Bill back only three times, even if we do adopt these standing orders.
– I know that the standing orders can be suspended at any time. If it be thought that a Bill is of such a comprehensive character that the amendments we propose cannot be considered within three exchanges, there is no doubt that the standing orders might be suspended. But, for the purposes of ordinary business, it is well to have-standing orders of the kind. Members ought to be given an idea that they must try to make up their minds that there is a limit to the number of exchanges. I submit that if there is to be an unlimited number of exchanges, it will not lead to the speedy transaction of business.
– While I do not attach verymuch importance to* standing orders 242, 243, 244, and 245, I agree with the President that it would be advisable as a matter of convenience to have them before us, so that we may know exactly the immediate procedure we are to follow in regard to the particular class of Bills we may not amend. The proceedings on such Bills are embodied in Standing Orders 242 to 250, and the kernel is in Standing Order 246, which provides that a Bill may be sent three times back by the Senate to the House of Representatives, and three times returned by that House. When the matter was before us previously, a number of honorable senators thought that we should stultify ourselves by attempting to limit ourselves in this way, or to prescribe something which involves practically reciprocity. It was then intimated that it would be desirable for a Standing Orders Committee to communicate with the Standing Orders Committee of the other Chamber on the subject, for the purpose of securing if possible some joint standing orders, or of arriving at some understanding, so that we should have no difficulty hereafter in the working of a standing orders of the kind. The Standing Orders Committee of this Chamber did communicate with the Standing Orders Committee of another place, but I must say, that in my opinion, we are exactly in the same position that we were in before. The Standing Orders Committee of another place thank us for our courtesy, but at the same time they practically say - “ You do your business and we will do ours ; so far as the standing orders of the House of Representatives are concerned, there is nothing inconsistent.” Probably there is nothing inconsistent, because the other place does not deal with contingencies of the kind. The only time they did deal with such a contingency, they protected . themselves by a resolution, and consequently, as we have been unable to arrive at definite joint standing orders on the subject, I do not think that the Senate need have any qualms as to how it should act, or any fear that it may be doing wrong, because they happen to have been transmitted to the committee of the House of Representatives, in now departing from these particular standing orders. The Standing Orders Committee of the Senate cannot for one moment bind this Chamber.
– And how could a Standing Orders Committee bind another place *!
– The Standing Orders Committee of another place knew that these standing orders would have to be submitted to the Senate for approval, disapproval, or modification. Senator Higgs suggests that as a matter of honour we are bound to adopt these standing orders, but he immediately afterwards said that if Standing Order 246 were found inconvenient, we could at once suspend the standing orders.
How about the matter of honour then From the stand-point of honour, or any other stand-point, are we not in any way bound or limited as to the way in which we may deal with this matter % Personally, I have always opposed the three exchanges. Who can say that another place will return a Bill three times ? Why should we ar bitrarily say - “ We will do this thing two or three times, or half-a-dozen times, and that another place shall return the Bill “ 1
– It is proposed that after three exchanges we may ask for a conference.
– But the other place may not return the Bill three times. Surely it would be wiser for the Senate to leave itself completely free, and regulate its proceedings as the cases arise. It might be necessary to send a Bill once or twice, or even four or five times. I have no hesitation in saying that the Senate has established its right to repeat its requests, and Standing Order 249 provides that a request may be pressed - which means repeated - or not pressed. We have complete freedom, and I think t”hat, as a matter of discretion, it would be unwise for us to attempt to bind ourselves to any number of times. It would be unwise to do so on the ground, first of all, that it is unnecessary, and secondly, that in order to make the standing order effective, it requires reciprocity, or, in short, joint standing orders.
– The Chairman has anticipated a good deal of what I intended to say, but I rise to draw attention to the singular harmony between Senators Baker and Higgs on this point. There is an assumption that seems to be totally unwarranted that there is an obligation imposed on the Standing Orders Committee of the Seriate or the Standing Orders Committee of another place by the submission of standing orders to one Committee or the other. To put the matter in simple language, it appears that we are trying to make a bargain which would be bad if we succeeded, and about the success of which there is a certain amount of doubt. As already pointed out, there is no means whatever by which the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives can bind the Senate. We should be attempting to tie our own hands without knowing whether the hands of the other House were to be tied also. I see no reason for limiting our right to press tin amendment to three times. I do not think that by any possible standing order we could strengthen the position we acquired in reference to the Tariff. Indeed, by any standing order which could be framed, and which must necessarily be in the nature of a limitation, we should weaken our position. I quite agree with what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said. I see no reason for having standing orders dealing with Money Bills, except possibly Standing Orders 248 and 249. I feel perfectly certain that if we pass Standing Order 246 we shall be deliberately and foolishly imposing a restriction on the Senate that the House of Representatives cannot impose, and should be tying our own hands, neither for the purpose of expediting business nor for any other reason that could be satisfactory to us. It is always open to the Senate to obtain a conference even without a standing order. We need not sa)’ whether we shall demand a conference -after sending three messages. We might ask for a conference after sending only one message. To limit our right to ask for a conference until three messages had been sent must be bad for lis. I therefore urge the Committee not to go back upon the position we have previously asserted, and which I hope we shall always maintain.
– Upon this question I have always been of opinion that the proper thing is to have joint standing orders. We shall then know what our rights are, and what the other House is prepared to do. We know how the machinery of the Constitution will work, but if we are going to tie our -hands by a standing order, and we subsequently find- that the other House does not agree with us, and trouble arises, we shall be a great deal worse off than would be the case if we had n© standing order dealing with the subject. Under the circumstances, the idea of Senator O’Connor, to omit this standing order will be the wisest procedure we can adopt. Do not let us tie our hands unless the hands of the other House are tied also. Let us know exactly what we are doing. It is admitted that these standing orders necessarily tie -our hands. Therefore, if no -proper understanding can be arranged with the other branch of the Legislature, let us have no standing order dealing with the subject.
– I entirely agree with the last speaker. It would be a silly thing for the Senate to provide, by a standing order, that we should be obliged to send three messages before being able to ask for a free conference. Such an arrangement would work greatly to our disadvantage. We should tie ourselves up without any necessity, and the standing order would militate against us. We ought to retain the right to send back a Bill more than three times if we think proper, and we should be able, to ask for a conference at any time when the necessity for it arises.
– Do I understand that there are not to be joint standing orders ?
– -We cannot have them unless both .Houses agree.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - It is all very well to talk about joint standing orders, but there is not the slightest possibility of having them. I should be the very last person to seek in any way to tie the hands of the Senate unduly. I thought that in framing the standing order under discussion we were strengthening .the position of the Senate, because it was an intimation to the other branch of the Legislature that we would send three messages before we asked for a conference. Is it not more courteous and fairer to the other branch of the Legislature to indicate to them what course of procedure we will ordinarily adopt, and how many messages we will send to them before asking for a free conference 1 Is not that course of procedure more likely to lead to harmony, and to results that will not produce friction between the two Houses, than will be the case by leaving the procedure entirely open ?
– But surely this would weaken our position.
– I doubt that. If I thought it would, I would vote against it at once. As a matter of fact, however, I thought that it would strengthen the position of the Senate. At the same time I can see that there are strong arguments on the other side. I am not going to fight the matter. I am not very strong about it. I want to arrive at some modus vivendi with the other branch of the Legislature as to the procedure we should adopt, and I think that they ought also to let us know what course of procedure they intend to adopt upon Money Bills. I think that this course holds out the olive branch to them by saying that we will send them three messages and then ask for a conference. If we leave the matter entirely open, measures might often be lost which would not otherwise be lost. I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to consider the matter a little more before he arrives at a conclusion. The subject has been discussed by the Standing Orders Committee four or five times. They have considered it from all points of view, and the conclusion arrived at was that we ought to let the House of Representatives know what course of procedure we intended to adopt.
– I have not arrived at the conclusion which I have come to without much consideration. Perhaps I have not considered it as long as some other honorable senators have done, but I feel a sense of responsibility in the making of these standing orders just as any other honorable senator does. They do not affect party considerations. We ought to do the best we can to make the proceedings of the Senate work smoothly. If there is one view that ought to be present with us, in dealing with the standing orders, it is so to frame them that in time to come weshall not bind our hands unduly in any constitutional contest which we may have with the other House. This question of requests is likely to be the most fruitful battle-ground for contests between the two Houses - the ground upon which we shall exercise our greatest power, and upon which the House of Representatives will struggle to retain as much power as they can. Under these circumstances, we ought to be careful not to limit the power which the Constitution gives us. In addition to that, we should leave ourselves free to take advantage of the circumstances of the moment, which may enable us to send down a message for a conference, and which may put us in a better position than we should be in by sending down messages three times. . I doubt very much whether it is competent for us under the Constitution to make a standing order restricting us to three messages, and to sending back a Bill three times, and which will deprive us of the right of sending a request down to the House of Representatives after the third message has been despatched. The Constitution says that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law.
– The Constitution says, that we may frame rules for our procedure.
– But the Constitution must be read as a whole ; and if the Constitution says that we may send down a request at any stage, and a standing order restricts the sending down of requests to three times, it seems to me that that standing order is in conflict with the Constitution. I was at first inclined to think that there was something to be said for thestanding order, but, after looking over thecorrespondence which has taken place with, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I was compelled to reconsider the position.. This correspondence gives us nothing whatever. It settles nothing. Let me callattention to what the correspondence really is. I admit at once, that if by any amicable arrangement joint standing orders could bearrived at between the two Houses, that would be “ a consummation devoutly to bewished.” But is it likely that upon this most debatable of all questions, the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives is likely to give way any point which is likely to affect the privilegesof their House? It is not at all likely. Let honorable senators look at the correspondence. The President’s letter sends, down a copy of this standing order, and requests that Mr. Speaker will bring this under the notice of the Standing Orders Committee of the House of Representatives for their consideration at an early date.
The Standing Orders Committee of theHo.use of Representatives considers it, and Mr. Speaker sends back a letter saying that the Standing’ Orders Committee of the House of Representatives
Thanks your Committee for its courtesy; and has resolved that you should be informed that there is nothing in the standing orders, as recommended by it to the House of Representatives for adoption that is in conflict with the two proposed Standing orders of the Senate.
The letter concludes -
Under the circumstances, therefore, your committee will agree that a Conference between thetwo committees will not be necessary. A ‘ copy of our standing order is enclosed.
If honorable senators look at the standing order they will see that it is not in conflict with our standing order, because it deals with quite a different thing. It does not deal with the position we are discussing. It is as follows : -
Whenever the Senate returns to the House any Bill which the Senate may not amend, requesting,. by message, the omission or amendment of any item or provision therein, the House shall thereupon, or on a later clay to be fixed, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, to consider the message, and the subsequent proceedings shall be as follow : -
Then the subsequent proceedings follow. That is applicable to a Bill sent down once, and once only. It may also be applicable to every time when a Bill is sent down. But it does not in any way affect our right to send down messages three times. Even if there is anything in that, how can the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate in this or in any way bind the other House to surrender anything it thinks to be a privilege? It is impossible to suppose that it could be done. Therefore it appears to me that, although this correspondence was courteous, and exhibited the most friendly disposition towards the Senate, it gave us absolutely nothing. Is there, then, anything in the correspondence which binds the Senate now to pass a standing order which really ties our hands in the future ? There is another point which Senator Baker has dealt with, and which involves this question : Is it better to pass a Bill through its third reading and send down a request, or is it better to suspend the third reading and send the Bill down, waiting until the request is made, before reading the Bill a third third time ? I do not care which course is adopted. The advantage of reading a Bill a third time before sending down a request is this - that if the request is agreed to, and the Bill is amended accordingly, it need not come back to the Senate at all. The Bill is forthwith amended, and becomes a law then, and all that that House has to do is to send a message to the Senate saying it has amended the Bill in accordance with its request. It seems to me that it may be an advantage in saving time, On the other hand it may be advisable not to take the Bill out of Committee in order that we may be able to do what we like before it is read a third time. In these circumstances it might be advisable to follow the practice which Senator Baker has suggested. I do not think it is a matter of much moment one way or the other, but if that practice is to be followed then all we need to do is to omit Standing Orders 246 and 247.
Postponed Standing Order agreed to.
Postponed Standing Orders 243 to 245 agreed to.
The Senate may, after the Bill has been read three times, sent back by the Senate to the House of Representatives, and three times returned to that House, demand a free conference in reference to the Bill ; and the proceedings thereon, and subsequent thereto, shall, as far as possible, be similar to proceedings on ordinary free conferences.
– It appears to me that this standing order had better be omitted. It has been suggested to me that it might be advisable to take power generally to demand a free conference in reference to the Bill, but I do not think it is necessary. We do not provide, I understand, generally, for a free conference.
– It is provided for in regard to other Bills.
– With regard to other Bills we follow a recognised practice. But that cannot take away from us our right to ask for a free conference in regard to these Bills. I think it will be well to leave the Senate perfectly free, and therefore I ask the Committee to negative this standing order.
– I very much regret that honorable senators did not use their arguments against these standing orders some time ago, when they were being considered, because if they had it would probably have saved the Standing Orders Committee considerable trouble.
– The strongest opinion was expressed against this standing order by a number of honorable senators.
– We were instructed by the Senate to reconsider these standing orders with a view to secure some concurrence. We have obtained that concurrence, and now honorable senators say that the standing orders should not be adopted.
– Senator Higgs is entirely mistaken. On the motion to go into Committee, I tookan objection to these standing orders generally, but more especially to this one ; and in Committee several honorable senators spoke against them, especially this one, which Senator Symon opposed very strongly indeed. There was a preponderance of opinion expressed against these standing orders, and their consideration was postponed with a view to affording the Standing Orders Committee an opportunity, either to alter them substantially, or to suggest their omission. I cannot understand how Senator Higgs can now come down and say that opinions -were not expressed in the Senate before against their adoption.
– The Committee seem so unanimous now.
– My recollection is that these standing orders were very strongly condemned,’ and the only reason why they were not. omitted at the time was because some honorable senators thought that the Standing Orders Committee should have an opportunity ‘ of considering whether they should not be so altered as to eliminate their most mischievous features.
Postponed Standing Order negatived.
Postponed Standing Order 247 negatived.
Postponed Standing Orders 248 to 250 agreed to.
– I move - ‘
That the following new standing order be inserted:; - 1. In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by Sessional or other Orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in force on the 1st January, 190.1, which shall be followed as far as they can be applied to the proceedings of the Senate.
I am glad to find, from their report, that the Standing Orders Committee adopted practically the recommendation which was made to them when this question was last considered by honorable senators.
– I do not intend to divide the Committee or to fight the question, but I wish to inform honorable senators that I do not agree with the proposed standing order. There is no doubt that there is a great deal to be_ said in its favour, and that it will save the President and the Chairman of Committees considerable trouble if it is adopted. But, working under a new Constitution, I think that we ought to have our own practice and procedure. The British House of Commons consists of about 680 members, while the Senate consists of 36 members. I can assure honorable senators that in adopting the standing orders they are adopting a great number of practices of which they know nothing. It is quite true that it finds a place in our present rules ; but I recognised the fact that they were adopted in a hurry, and I have not put them strictly in force. For instance, in the House of Commons a member is not allowed to read a newspaper or a book in the chamber. There are dozens of other practices of which honorable senators know nothing, and which they are adopting in the dark. There is another reason why we should not adopt the standing order. So long as it is in force we can never establish a-practice of our own. We have our own standing orders it is true, and so far asthey provide for cases we are bound by them, but in minor matters we can never build up a practice of Our own. A considerable time ago, when Sir Henry Ayers wasPresident of the Legislative Council of South Australia, I called his attention to the practice of the Chamber for years on somesmall matter. He said - “ I cannot helpthat. Our practice goes for nothing. We have a standing order which says thatin cases not provided for the practice of the British House of Commons shall prevail, and we cannot build up a practice of our own.” That I think is an objectionable state of affairs. However, I was in a minority on the Standing Orders Committee, and I make these remarks simply by way of” protest.
– I agree entirely witH the view of Senator Baker. The standing orders of the House of Commons represent the persistent aggression of the people on the Lords.. Our Constitution represents exactly theopposite - the determination of the States, not to submit altogether to the domination of the people as a whole. One is the protest of the people against the domination of a class, and the other is the protest of theStates against the domination of the people, speaking as a whole.
– I cannot see that.
– Thestanding orders of the House of Commons, were established by the people .as against a. class who had been dominant, but whosedominance was gradually being undermined, and destroyed.
– Therefore, its standing orders are bad for us.
– Therefore its standing orders are uncommonly good for what they were intended. When weframed the Constitution we provided that, the Senate should not be in the position of ‘ the House of Lords. We determined thatthere should be a States House, which should have’ an individuality of its own. ‘ And it follows from the care which we took in protecting its constitution that it ought to- have rules which would insure its continuance and prevent it being submerged, as the Lords are submerged, in the dominance of the Commons, which is secured by its standing orders. Are we going ‘ to follow the standing orders of the House of Commons and allow a similar dominance to prevail? Those who do not appreciate the distinction between the Senate and the House of Lords and the other. House and the House of Commons, will thoroughly disagree with what I am saying. But those who realise that we have to preserve our States House under circumstances quite different from anything contemplated by the British Constitution will understand that the standing orders of the House of Commons, however applicable in many instances, are not of necessity applicable to the Senate.
– This is the people’s House, while the other is only the House of a section of the people.
– They are both the people’s Houses in a way, but they are established under a new Constitution, on bases absolutely different. Senator Playford laughs, but he never has understood the position.
– I have heard the argument a hundred times.
– Although the argument may have been heard a hundred times, still there are some persons who do not quite understand that the Houses of this Parliament are not in the same position as the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly of a State. In connexion with a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly, it was perfectly right that we should provide that where anything occurred which was not covered by our standing orders the rules of the House of Commons should prevail. We departed from that in the express instances which were set out in our standing orders, and we returned to that whenever our standing orders were’ silent. That was a logical and a proper result of the Constitution we established. But when we made a new Constitution, unknown altogether to British institutions, in which we followed other standards, and particularly the American standard, we got new lines of legislation. We established a Senate, and meant to establish it in quite a different position from either the House of Lords or any Legislative Council. We meant the Senate to take a much higher position and we gave it much’ higher and stronger powers than any House of Lords or any LegislativeCouncil has ever had in the history of legislative bodies. . Then when we cometo make standing orders for that Senate weprovide for everything within the immediatescope of our vision as well as we can. Of course there is a residuum unprovided for, and what are we to do for that ? Now, it is suggested that whilst the Senate is a. distinct departure from the House of Lords,, or a Legislative Council, so far as the unforeseen or unprovided for is concerned, we should adopt the standing orders of a body that is absolutely dissimilar to ours, and1 that we shall put ourselves in a position which is quite inconsistent with the verybasis of our Constitution. We should seriously and studiously consider and settlethe rights of the Senate, and to begin by say- ing that our position is to be analogous tothat of a House whose constitution is such that it is the very essence of our existencethat we have distinctly departed from it, may have the effect of minimizing our rights in the particular instances in whichwe may be most concerned in insisting upon them. The matter is one for very careful consideration, and at the present moment I am disposed to agree with the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– I think the Committee will act very wisely in adopting the recommendations of the Standing OrdersCommittee. If I understand Senator Downer’s argument, the honorable and learned senator would imply, first of all, that the adoption of the rules of the dominant House is going to weaken the Senate, and, secondly, the honorable and learned senator would have us suppose that there is no analogy between our Constitution - sofar as the practice of Parliament is concernedand local Constitutions. Let us look at the facts. First of all, since ever we have had a Constitution, we have been working under standing orders which have been used for 30 or 35 years past by one of the State Houses of Parliament, the House of Assembly of South Australia. If honorable senators will look at the proposed standing orders now before us as they have been framed, they will find that, with the exception of a number which could perhaps be told off on the fingers of one hand, they are adopted from the practice of local Legislatures. This conclusively satisfies me, as I think it must satisfy every honorable senator who will think of what the practice has been in this Senate, and the complete analogy between it and the practice of the House from which he has come, that it is substantially founded on the practice of the House of Commons, as adopted and carried out by the practice of the local Legislatures, so far as that practice could be carried out, mutatis mutandis. When we come to look at the Constitution itself we shall find that it recognises all the great principles of the British Constitution. In section 49 of the Constitution it is provided -
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and of the committees of each House shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
So far as our powers, privileges, and immunities are not provided for by the Constitution, we have adopted those of the House of Commons, and so it is with regard to forms and practices of the House of Commons, to which we are all accustomed, and. which we have been accustomed to work under in our local Legislatures, and since we have been a Federal Parliament. When we bear in mind that this practice and this particular standing order has been introduced into the standing orders of every local Legislature, and that we have at the same time adopted the same authorities and precedents for our guidance where we do not directly speak for ourselves, I think it will be admitted that it would be very unwise for the Senate to fail to take advantage of all those authorities and that practice which has been so well. known, which has been so thoroughly established, and to which we have become so accustomed. If at any time we find that certain matters have not been provided for in our own standing orders, and that the practice of the House of Commons is inconvenient for their settlement, we have a clear duty to adopt new standing orders to deal with them. I think that under all the circumstances the Committee would be very wise in adopting this standing order. .
– My honorable and learned friend Senator Downer puts me in mind of the gentleman who under all circumstances would drag King” Charles’ head into a discussion. The honorable and learned senator always manages to drag in the constitutional .aspect of a question, but that aspect does not happen to come in on the present occasion. The point we are considering is an exceedingly simple one. We are passing standing orders for our own guidance, and the conduct of the business of the Senate. We may not in these standing orders provide for every contingency that may arise, and we say that, in those cases in which we have made no provision, when the contingency does arise we shall be governed by the practice of the British Parliament. If there is a Parliament in the world to which we can look up as the mother of Parliaments, it is the British Parliament. There are wise rules laid down by that Parliament, not in standing orders only, and not to be found in formal print, but to be found in the various decisions given by the various eminent men who have occupied the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. When we find that we have made no provision in our standing orders to meet any special emergency which may arise, we can turn to what has been done in the British House of Commons, to the decisions of its various Speakers, and we shall find rules eminently adapted to meet the case arising. We have done that in South Australia ever since we have had responsible government in that State. Senator Downer has himself been Premier there ; he has led the House of Assembly ; he has been a prominent member of the Legislature for many years, and the honorable and learned senator cannot instance a single case in which the slightest trouble ever occurred from the adoption of this course. Speakers of the South Australian House of Assembly have constantly appealed to the practice of the House of Commons. The Clerk of Parliaments in that State, had a very complete knowledge of the practice of the House of Commons, and he could always advise a Speaker when a difficulty arose. He was always ready with the decisions of Speakers Peel, Brand, Onslow, or some other Speaker of the House of Commons. If we provide for that here, a decision of a Speaker of the House of Commons upon a difficult point will settle the question, and I see no reason why we should not pass the same standing order whicli has been adopted in the South Australian Parliament, and I suppose in the Parliaments of all the States, and which has been, found to work so satisfactorily in the past.
– One would almost imagine from the speech delivered by Senator Playford, that the honorable senator was a real colonial. He is always leaning up against some verandah post or another, and that is characteristic of the. young Australian. I do not agree entirely with the constitutional arguments of Senator Downer, but from my experience in the world I think we have been too long leaning on the precedents of Great Britain. Great Britain is herself going behind, simply because she is not prepared to adopt new machinery. I speak without any disrespect to the old institutions of the old country, which are very good where they are. Supposing we do not adopt this recommendation, and a difficulty arises, do honorable senators think that we in Australia are not far enough advanced in the machinery of government to get out of any difficulty that may arise just as easily and effectively as we should be able to do by following any precedent of the House of Commons, or of any other Legislature in the world? So long as we are prepared to lean on somebody else, and adopt machinery provided for us by somebody else, so long will we be prepared to remain in the old position, But when we adopt our own standing orders, and we find that we have not provided for everything that may occur, if we rely upon our own resources, I have not the least doubt that the precedents that may be created by our Presidents and Speakers will be found efficient to meet all the emergencies which may arise. I would rather rely for the future on our own opinions than on any practice of the past. The Commonwealth is a new institution, and its Parliament is different from that of any of the States, and different in its machinery from that of Great Britain. Whenever we may find ourselves in difficulty, we shall be able to get out of it as our forefathers did; and 1 hope that the amendment will not be carried.
– The point we are considering is exceedingly simple, but Senator McGregor is so anxious not to “lean against the post,” of which Miss Shaw spoke, that he has rather missed the point. If, during the session, some question crops up which cannot be decided by our standing orders because we have not provided for it, I undertake to say that every honorable senator will rush to his
May and Todd to see what is the practice of the House of Commons. Further, I believe that both the President and the Chairman of Committees would absolutely be guided - I would not say bound - by what they found in those authorities.
SenatorO’Connor. - That makes all the difference - they would be guided but not bound.
– Senator Baker has pointed out that we shall not be able to have a practice of our own if we adopt the amendment. What we are really considering now are cases not provided for by the standing orders or by any subsequent sessional Order or other order, so that after every sitting of Parliament, or every three years, where even one point had to be added to our standing orders it could be so added. It appears to me that we can be guided by the House of Commons’ practice when we have not provided for cases - that we can adopt that practice with such modifications as we think fit in our standing orders - and thus under this new and unique Constitution have exactly the standingorders we want. If, when some point arises which we have omitted to decide by our standing orders, there is no party feeling we shall be a happy family, and settle the matter in five minutes. If, on the other hand, when such a point arises, there is party feeling, the party with a majority will try to snatch a victory and override the practice of Parliament. It is in such cases that we want the “ post “ to lean on ; we want the best practice we can get, and we go to the House of Commons because we have not been thoughtful enough to decide the question for ourselves.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I am very glad to hear Senator Downer support the view taken by the President. Having heard the honorable and learned senator on several occasions, we might have divined that he would support the President in the view that this House has a Constitution, and is quite capable of interpreting it. It would be a great reflection on the members of the Senate, and on Australians generally, if we adopted such anamendmentasthatnow proposed. Australians framed the Commonwealth Constitution, and I think Australians can interpretit. If at any time there arises a question in the Senate not provided for in the 440 standing orders, then I venture to think that our President, with his knowledge of constitutional procedure in various parts of the world, will be able to give a ruling. If honorable senators do not agree with that ruling they can dissent from it, and establish a different precedent. The great advantage of not having a standing order of the kind proposed is, that those honorable senators who prefer the House of Commons procedure may advocate it, whilst others, who favour the practice of the United States, may support the latter. As has been pointed out by Senator Downer, this Commonwealth Constitution is unique in the world. It is admitted everywhere to be the broadest and freest Constitution ; and surely it will be a reflection on ourselves if we cannot lay down precedents on questions which do not come within the scope of our own standing orders.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I am extremely surprised at the turn which the debate has taken. When I submitted the amendment I really did not anticipate the opposition which has been shown ; and it is an opposition which I cannot understand. Perhaps I ought to say that I can understand the opposition only on the assumption that several honorable senators who have spoken or have interjected are being led away, or do not understand what is meant by the amendment. For instance, I heard an argument which seems to suggest that an honorable senator considers that a standing order which provides for reference to the House of Commons, would practically stand in the same relation to our own standing orders as does our own Constitution. But such an analogy is non-existent. There is no question of our having to refer to the practice of the House of Commons as something superior which will override our own standing orders. All we are asking is that in cases which are not provided for in our 400 odd carefullydrawn standing orders, we shall have resort to the rules and forms of the practice of the House of Commons. What we shall specially resort to, if we find ourselves confronted by any difficulty not provided for in our own standing orders, will be the practice of the House of Commons. It has been urged as an argument against the proposed standing order that to adopt it would be imperilling our chance of building up our own practice. I see no danger on that score, and I venture to go further, and say that if we do succeed in building up our own practice here - and only time can enable us to do that - we shall not let it be overridden by the practice of the House of Commons.
– Why not adopt the practice of the Trades and Labour Council ?
– I have a greater respect for Parliament than I have for the Trades and Labour Council. Magnificent an institution as the Trades and Labour Council may be, it is not Parliament, or any part of the Parliament. What we are practically concerned with are not the written standing orders of the House of Commons, but some practice that only many years can give to any deliberativebody. Senator McGregor’s argument simply means that nothing is good unless it is new. Novelty may be good, but it is not a sole justification for adopting any particular course. What we are looking for is something to fall back upon in case of an emergency for which, with allour careful consideration, our standing orders do not provide. There seems to be some force in the argument of Senator Baker, that the amendment would interfere with our own practice. It is no doubt desirable that we should gradually form a practice of our own ; but that would not be interfered with by the adoption of proposed new standing order. Once we have established a practice in the Senate we may depend that the President would rely upon it, even if we do adopt the amendment. Such a ruling has been given from many a Chair in many a Parliament, in spite of the fact that the proposed standing order finds a place in the standing orders of every English-speaking Parliament.
– My experience is to the contrary.
– My experience of Senator Baker, as President, is that he has on more than one occasion, when giving a ruling, referred to the practice - not to rules or the standing orders - that has been established in his own Parliament.
– That is, in interpreting rules which come from the South Australian Parliament.
– Exactly; in interpreting some question which may or may not be solved by reference to the standing orders. Senator O’Connor’s interjection does not touch the argument. The President has ruled according to the practice established in the Chamber itself. I am not making these remarks in the least offensively, but merely trying to point out that there is nothing to prevent the President hereafter ruling in accordance with the practice which we shall establish. The President will not have to fly for refuge, excuse, or justification to the practice of the House of Commons, if we have established a practice here ; but until we have established a practice, what harm can be done in adopting that of the British House of Commons, which has never yet been found fault with in any British community. So far as I know’, there is not a single English-speaking Parliament in the world where the proposed standing order is not in force. I submit, though not as an absolute argument, that if such a standing order, had been found objectionable, surely some satisfactory and conclusive reasons would have been shown during all the years of its application in Australia, Canada, and elsewhere why it should not be adopted. Standing orders do not bind us for all time ; and the standing order which I propose may be abandoned whenever our practice has become sufficiently established. But when we have been a Parliament for less than three years, there can be no harm in adopting such a standing order. If we have to resort to the House of Commons practice we can immediate])’ thereafter add a new standing order in order to meet any similar case in the future. That being so, there can be no sound objection to my amendment, especially as a similar standing order is in force in every English-speaking Parliament in the civilized world.
– I take the same view as the President. When we passed our 440 standing orders we believed we had dealt with every possible case that can arise, and it is only cases which are found not to be provided for that have to be considered. The rules, forms, and practice of the House of Commons embody an immense mass of precedents which, speaking generally, we know very little . about. We know in a general way what are the practices and usages of the House of Commons as to the well-known powers of debate, amendment, and so on ; and these are all provided for in our standing orders. But it is the unusual occurrences which are not likely to have standing orders applied to them, that we know very little about. I quite agree that if we were always to adopt the standing orders of the House df Commons in- any difficulty, we should never establish a practice of our own. Why should we not establish a practice of our own ? If some question be raised, not provided for by the standing orders, let us for a moment consider how the matter would develop. The President will be asked to give his ruling. He will rule from his knowledge of the standing orders, and no doubt in accordance with the analogy which he draws from the practice of the House of Commons. The probabilities are that he will always find some instance to support the ruling he is about to give. He will apply that instance, if it is fairly applicable, to our conditions. If it is not applicable he will find some way out of the difficulty himself. If we lay it down as a rule that we are bound to follow the practice of the House of Commons as far as it can be followed it binds us. In the other case, although the President can go to the practice and usages of the House of Commons to obtain light upon the matter, he need not follow them unless he chooses. After all, who is it that settles the practice of the Senate? It is not the President, nor the Chairman of Committees. It is the Senate itself. Because, if the Senate thinks that in any instance where the President has had to rule that ruling should not be followed, it can express its disapproval, and the decision of the Senate will become a precedent to be followed on other occasions. Consequently, we shall gradually build up a series of precedents for ourselves.
– By disputing the rulings of the President.
– I do not say so. I say that it is for the Senate, in the last resort, always to say what its practice shall be. The President rules, and prima facie his ruling will be followed ; but if the Senate thinks that it should not be followed it will always have it in its hands to say so. Therefore, -the ruling is virtually the ruling of the Senate. Is there any reason why that course should not be adopted ? I see no reason whatever. I consider that it would be a good thing at the commencement of this new Parliament, now that we have fairly settled down to work, to make a practice of our own. Allusion has been made to the House of Commons rules being followed in the standing orders of the States Parliaments. But why is that ? It is because in the first- place the States Houses of Legislature found themselves in circumstances which they were unable to deal with under their own standing orders, and they found it con- venient to follow the rules of the House of
Commons. There is an exact analogy in the relations between the House of Commons and the House of Lords and the two Houses of the Legislatures of the States. But we are in a different position altogether. We are working under a Federal Constitution. The relative positions of our two Houses are, to a certain extent, parallel to the position in England, but they are also, to a large extent, different. We may often be misleading and deceiving ourselves by some false analogy in the practice of the House of Commons if we adopt the proposed standing order, whereas, if we leave ourselves free to make a practice of our own we shall have before us the rules of the House of Commons, and can adopt them if we please. Section 49 of the Constitution, to which the Chairman has alluded, provides that -
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the’ Senate …. shall be …. those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom ….
That refers to the powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate with regard to the outside public ; but we are dealing with rules for our own procedure.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).I hope that the views of the President of the Senate and of the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be adopted, and that the proposed new standing order will not be incorporated. Seeing that we have dealt with every contingency as far as we could foresee, it is desirable that we should reserve complete poower t6 deal with any other question that may arise. Why not show an example of self-reliance to the people of the entire Commonwealth ? The jibe is continually thrown at the people of Australia that they are in an habitual condition of leaning up against a post. Let us begin by discarding the post - the post in this case being the British House of Commons. Let us form our own precedents, and erect a post of our own. Let us lay a foundation and build upon Commonwealth lines. It seems to me that this attempt to incorporate the practice of the British House of Commons on an Australian Federal Parliament is like an attempt to impose a piece of Elizabethan architecture on a Gothic building - some- : thing, entirely out of harmony with the original structure.
– We have been working under it all this session.
– But why? We merely adopted the existing rules until we had an opportunity of framing rules of our own. We have had that opportunity. We have framed a considerable number of rules, and I trust that tlie Senate will come to the conclusion that in future we should continue to frame rules to suit our circumstances. I intend to oppose the inclusion of the standing order proposed.
.- If I thought that by failing to adopt the proposed standing order there is a risk of practices being established in the Senate in conflict with the best ideals which are to be found in the practices of the British Parliament I should not give the vote I contemplate giving, namely, against’ the introduction of what seems to me to be a most unnecessary and cumbersome piece of machinery. Senator Baker was absolutely correct in pointing out that the British House of Commons practice - and the practice is of more importance that the forms - has grown up in connexion with the management of a body numbering between 600 and 700. To apply such machinery to the affairs of the 36 gentlemen in this Senate I think would be exceedingly cumbersome. I feel assured that neither the President nor the Chairman of Committees - present or future - will ever seek to give decisions that will create practices at variance with the traditions and practice of the House of Commons where such practice is applicable to our circumstances. We should always have for our guidance the practices of the House of Commons, without the bondage of following procedure that is entirely unsuitable to our local conditions. Therefore, with the greatest respect for those who hold contrary views, I shall vote against the proposal, though by- no means from a desire to set up a brand-new pattern of authority. If I thought that such a thing was likely to come about, I should vote for the proposal ; but I am perfectly certain that while the present President and the present Chairman of Committees occupy their positions, we shall have no novelties introduced, even if we are not bound by the proposed standing order.
Question - That the proposed new standing order be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senate adjourned at 10.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 August 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030812_senate_1_15/>.