1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I am not aware that there has been any communication of the kind. If my memory serves me aright, there has been a statement made by the Prime Minister in another place to the effect that the Premier of New South Wales is prepared to give an area ; but I think it is limited to 100 square miles.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he has read the following telegram in the Melbourne Argus of the 21st inst.: -
Low Standard of Public Life.
Charges of Bribery and Corruption.
Sydney, Tuesday. - The low standard of politi cal life was a matter which was brought prominently before the Congregational Union of New South Wales to-day. The Rev. W. Morley read a paper on the duty of Congregationalism to the States. He asked what was there to fight for in seeking to recover their ideal to the State ? They had the utter demoralization of politics and politicians in both the State and Federal Parliaments. The hope that federation would call into public life a nobler set of men had not been realized, and when they thought of the men that, to a large extent, formed the personnel of the legislative bodies in Australia, they were ready almost to despair. But still sadder than that was the fact that the type of men to which he had referred was the deliberate choice of the people. The duty of Congregationalists was to tell men who had ability and Christianity to serve the people in Parliament that they must do their duty to the State. The Rev. W. Mathison, chairman of the union, in delivering an address, made reference to the bribery and corruption in public life.
I also desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council will he make inquiries as to whether the Revs. W.
Morley and W. Mathison are correctly reported 1 Will he invite the reverend gentlemen to give specific instances of bribery, corruption, or utter demoralization of members of the Commonweal th Parliament ? And, further, will he invite the Revs. Morley and Mathison to name the country whose standard of public life is higher than that of the Commonwealth of Australia?
– I cannot answer the questions. All I can say is that if the reverend gentlemen made a charge of bribery and corruption in connexion with the Commonwealth Parliament, it is utterly untrue, so far as I know.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he is aware that in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales a statement has been made that Senator Higgs is mad.
– Does the honorable senator seriously ask that question ?
– I do, sir.
– It strikes me that the gentleman who made the statement is madder.
– The Governor-General will have left Australia when the new Parliament meets, and it has been thought advisable by ‘ the Government to ask each House to vote an address to His Excellency indicative of their appreciation of the services which be has rendered to the Commonwealth during his term of office. I beg. leave to move -
That the following address bo presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : - “May it please Your. Excellency
We, the members of the Senate in Parliament assembled, desire to express to Your Excellency our deep sense of the services rendered by you to the people of the Commonwealth during your term of office as Governor-General, and our sincere regret at your impending departure from Australia.
The high duties whose discharge you are about to relinquish carried with them many obligations especially onerous in these the early days of our national existence.
Your Excellency’s position has been arduous, but large as have been its demands, you have, with the devoted assistance of Her Excellency, maintained its dignity most amply; fulfilling all public and social responsibilities with a tact, ability,and courtesy which have won the respect and esteem of the whole community.
In offering to Lady Tennyson and yourself our heartfelt wishes for” your health and happiness, we feel confident that we are giving expression to the universal feeling of the people of Australia. “
The motion expresses all I could say, or that it is necessary to say, on the subject, and I content myself with submitting it to the Senate.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. I am quite sure that it will be a matter of gratification to Lord Tennyson to know that during his term of office as Governor-General there has been a universal feeling of satisfaction with the way in which he has discharged his duties. The proposed address speaks for itself ; I shall follow the example set by Senator Playford, and content myself with this indorsement of his remarks.
– On behalf of the party I represent I have much pleasure in supporting the motion. We believe that His Excellency has carried out his duties in an able manner, and with other members of the Senate we wish him God speed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales yesterday an endeavour was made to show that I reflected upon its Premier. I think that a misunderstanding has arisen through the brief report which was published in the newspapers. My statement was made in reply to an interjection. I said -
I do not want to say anything harsh, but I am inclined to say that the Premier of New South Wales in this connexion-
That is in connexion with the selection of the seat of government - is a mere “ fly on the wheel. “ The Federal Parliament has the Constitution, and so long as we abide by that Constitution we are superior to the Government of New South Wales or any State Parliament.
I had no desire to disparage the Premier of New South Wales or his position. I would add that if we went outside the terms of the Constitution–
– The honorable senator must not argue the question. He can only explain how he has been misrepresented, misreported, or misunderstood.
– I only made that remark to show that I did not desire to disparage the position of the Premier of New South Wales. I may further say, since Senator Pulsford has so kindly and courteously brought up another matter, that in all probability the reason why Mr. Crick made that observation concerning my self-
– The honorable senator is now arguing the question.
– I wish to explain how the honorable gentleman came to make this reflection, and the explanation is that during the debate on the subject of ratifying the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company’s agreement, I said that it was to the everlasting disgrace of Mr. Crick that he surrendered the rights of the people of New South Wales by signing an agreement with that company.
– Order. The honorable senator is arguing the question.
Resolved (on motion by Senator, Playford) -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable any message from the House of Representatives, transmitting any Bill or returning any Bill not finally agreed upon, to be at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the following message : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act relating to Patents of Inventions,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives does not insist on Nos. 56 and 79 of its amendments to which the Senate has disagreed, and has amended No. 19 as shown in the annexed schedule.
The House of Representatives requests the reconsideration of the Bill by the Senate in respect to amendment No. 19, and the further amendment thereon.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Ministry to cable congratulations to the British Government upon their agreement with .France to refer, for diplomatic settlement, certain questions to the Hague Arbitration Tribunal ; and expressing a hope that tins action will be the inauguration of a policy whereby the pronouncements of justice will replace the arbitrament of war ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
It is not considered necessary.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator PLAYFORD laid on the table the following paper : -
Regulations under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 28a -
Applications for patents may be lodged at the Patent Office immediately after the Commissioner is appointed, notwithstanding that this
Act has not then commenced, and all applications so lodged shall have priority according to the ! time when they were so lodged, and the lodging I of an application under this section shall have the like effect as the lodging of an application after the commencement of this Act, but any patent granted pursuant to the application shall be dated as of the day of commencement of this Act. Until forms are prescribed applications shall be in such form as the Commissioner directs.
Applications made under a State Patent Act may be lodged as prescribed before the commencement of this Act as applications under this Act.
Senate’s Message. - Disagrees to insertion of clause.
House of Representative’ Message. - Clause insisted on, with an amendment, omitting the words “according to thetime when they were so lodged,” lines 5 and 6, and inserting in lieu thereof the words “as prescribed. ‘
– I think that the present position of this Bill can be very easily explained. There is only one point of difference remaining between the two Houses. That has relation to the clause affecting applications for patents being lodged immediately after the Commissioner is appointed. The House of Representatives has agreed with the Senate upon every other matter in the Bill. The reason why they disagreed with us in regard to this clause is that it is represented, on behalf of the inventors, that they are very anxious at the earliest possible moment to be able to make application for registration under the new measure. By so doing they will, of course, save the higher fees that they would have to pay for registration to the Patents Offices of the States. The opposition made by the Senate to the clause was that it might lead to difficulties in connexion with priority. The House of Representatives still continues to think that this clause should be inserted, but they propose to alter it by striking out the words “according to the time when they were so lodged,” and substituting the words “ as prescribed.” The clause will then read in this way -
Applications for patents may be lodged at the Patent Office immediately after the Commissioner is appointed, notwithstanding that this Act has not then commenced, and allapplications so lodged shall have priority, as prescribed, and the lodging of an application under this section shall have the like effect us the lodging of an application after the commencement of this Act, but any patent granted pursuant to the application shall be dated as of the date of the commencement of this Act. Until forms are prescribed, applications shall be in such form as the Commissioner directs.
– The amendment means - “Do as you like by regulation,” though you cannot do it by Act of Parliament.
– It may mean that an application may be made to the Commissioner or to the States, and then it is left to be prescribed by regulation how priority shall go. The sole object of the provision is that during the time that may elapse - probably it will be only a short time - before the Act is. brought into operation by proclamation, applicants may have an opportunity of securing the advantage of lower fees for a patent throughout Australia. I am informed that the inventors and their representatives are anxious for this.
– In Victoria only.
– In my own State also ; I have seen several of them.
– Probably the patent agents in Victoria are representing inventors in other States, and are therefore naturally anxious at the earliest possible moment to secure the advantage of the lower fees.
.-How are the Government going to appoint a Commissioner under an Act before that Act is brought into force ?
– That can be done. The Commissioner can be appointed some little time before the Act comes into operation by proclamation. We can by proclamation state that the measure shall come into force at a particular date.
– The Government are going to appoint a Commissioner under an Act that will be non-existent at the time when he is appointed.
– The Act will be in existence, but the proclamation will state when it comes into operation ; and the Commissioner can be appointed before that date. Itis to give the representatives of the inventors theearliestopportunityof making application for patents under the Commonwealth Act, under which the fees will be so very much lower, that this provision is inserted ; and should any question arise as to the priority of an application for a patent to the Commissioner or to any Deputy Registrar, it will have to be settled by regulation. That is the only way by which we can do it. If we insist upon our disagreement with this clause it will mean that inventors will not have the advantage which the Bill will secure to them. It does not appear to be a very great matter, but the inventors and their representatives seem to think a great deal of it. As this is the only difference that remains between the two Houses in reference to the Bill, I trust that the Committee will accept the proposal now made as a compromise. I move -
That the Committee do not insist on the disagreement’ to clause 28a, and agrees to the amendment of the House of Representatives.
– It seems to me that the House of Representatives has overlooked the reason given by the Senate for disagreement to this clause.
– We sent reasons.
– But they seem to have been disregarded. We did not say that we objected to providing in the Bill that applications should have priority according to the time when they were lodged. The ground of our objection was, first of all, that under this clause the inventor is given absolutely no advantage whatever. Senator Drake speaks of giving inventors an early opportunity of availing themselves of the new measure. It does not give them one single day’s advantage, because not a single section in the Bill will come into effect before the Act is proclaimed, and the applications which are made to the Commissioner then will have to be dealt with in their order of priority.
– They will have the advantage of the lower fees.
– They can pay the lower fees if we do not pass this clause. But the point is that if they do make application they will receive no guarantee of protection whatever. Suppose I have invented an article, and that, in order to protect it in Australia, I take advantage of this clause and go to the Commonwealth Commissioner. Nothing that the Commissioner can do can protect me in any one single State of the Commonwealth. The State Patent Offices will take no cognizance of this measure until it is proclaimed. Suppose an inventor sends in his application to the Commissioner before the Act is proclaimed. Another man can take that same invention, go to a State Patent Office, lodge his application, and if there is not a prior application in that office he can obtain a patent for it in that State.
– He has to wait for a considerable time.
– But he may obtain his patent before this measure is proclaimed. What will happen is that a man who has a patent and wants to protect himself will proceed to make application at a State
Patent Office for a patent that will cost him £1. I should like to remind honorable senators that we have passed another clause that deals with the same position. I allude to clause 6a. There is also another clause which says that on the proclamation of this measure all the proceedings pending under every State Act passes under this Act. If I, as an inventor, wish to guard myself, and I have put in an application in a State for a patent no other person can subsequently put in an application which will stand before mine. I have priority. But if, on the other hand, any other person wishes to get ahead of me in any other State I have my remedy in this way : I can object to a patent being granted on the ground that he is not the actual inventor, and the proof is that I have made application in another State, which will be sufficient to put the other applicant out of court.
– It may be a very expensive process.
– But it is a real protection which this clause does not give. The clause gives no protection against fraud. If a fradulent person wishes to make a.n application for a patent, and he makes a declaration that he is the real and actual inventor, that record in the Commonwealth Patent Office does not protect the real inventor But if the fraudulent person wishes to impersonate the inventor in any other State of the Commonwealth, the real inventor has the protection of the State patent law, by which the fraudulent person can be made to prove that he is the actual inventor ; and that prior application is proof that the person who made it is the actual inventor. An inventor has all the protection that is necessary under the States patent laws, and this new clause gives him no additional protection. I wish to point out another defect of the clause. We are going absolutely to rob every State Patent Office in Australia of any business right up to the time of the coming into operation of this measure. And why 1 The measure will necessarily lead to an immediate centralization of all the patents business in one office in Melbourne. Naturally, the Melbourne patent agents are eager for the measure to come into operation, because it will bring new business to them.
– How does the honorable senator know that the Commissioner is to be located in Melbourne 1
– We know that the Government are not going to establish six different Patent Offices. There will be only one Commissioner, and all applications from ; all parts of Australia will come to his office, whether it be in Melbourne or Sydney. That is the reason why the Melbourne agents are anxious for this clause ; but I undertake to say that the patent agents of the other States are not so keen about it. They recognise that it will rob them of ali business up to the time of the coming into operation of the Commonwealth Act. I think we ought to insist upon our disagreement with this clause. It confers no advantage, and it is, indeed, luther to the disadvantage of every State Patent Office.
– I think that the Attorney-General must recognise that there is a great deal in the argument adduced by Senator Pearce in regard to this clause.
– It is only a matter of a very short time before the Act will be brought into operation.
– I think there is provision that when the measure comes into active operation persons will have an opportunity of lodging their applications in the various States Patent Offices. So that I dare say that the difficulty with regard to centralization will be got rid of. The Bill is necessarily one which makes for centralization. There must be a head office somewhere ; but there are provisions in the measure to enable applications to be lodged in the several States, so that there will be nothing unfair in connexion with the patent agents of the different States. Until the Act comes into force, applications may be lodged with the Commissioner. We are told that this Act will not come into force until a date to be declared by proclamation. It may be within the power of the Government, by the exercise of executive authority, to appoint some person whom they will call the Commissioner of Patents before the Act comes into force; but I point out that that Commissioner will have no authority under the Act until it is proclaimed. It is proposed to provide under this clause that applications may be lodged at the Patent Office before the Bill actually becomes law, and that these applications shall be as good as if they were lodged after the Bill became law. But any applicant may make an application for a patent in a State Patent Office, and he will have priority so far as the State is concerned. Suppose some person takes advantage of the information published in the States records, and makes use of a patented article in another State, it will be no longer novel in that State, and cannot be the subject of a patent. That is one of the difficulties we shall be getting into. Under the last two lines of the clause it is provided that -
Applications made under a State Patent Act may be lodged as prescribed before the commencement of this Act as applications under this Act -
Is not that very much mixed ?
– The honorable and learned senator is making a mistake when he says that the Act will not be law. It will be law ; but the operation of the A.ct will not have commenced - that is the only difference.
– No advantage can be conferred under the Act until it is proclaimed.
– It is provided that this Act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. It requires not merely the approval of Parliament, but an act of the Executive to breathe life into it, and it can have no effect until it becomes law as the consequence of that act of the Executive. It can have no force, and it must be as if it did not exist.
Senator- McGregor. - No ; it is in suspense all the time, until it is proclaimed.
– Suspended animation.
– It is an Act of the Parliament, but it is to become law only when the Executive breathes the breath of life into it. To me it is undesirable that we should attempt to deal with something that is to take place anterior to an Act becoming law, and then try to protect what we have done under the Act itself. In my opinion, it would be better for the Executive to proclaim the Act the day after it receives His Excellency’s assent, and to appoint an acting Commissioner for the time being, and allow applications to be lodged under the provision of the law itself. If this course were adopted it would save a world of trouble and difficulty of interpretation, because difficulty of interpretation will certainly crop up under a clause of so extraordinary a character. I think that Parliament should not pass a clause which has a tendency to cause confusion and difficulty to intending patentees. It is not our desire to harass them, but to give them every possible assistance. It is proposed here to make provision that applications lodged with the Commissioner before the proclamation of the Act shall be given priority “ as prescribed;” but at the same time the States’ patents laws are not repealed, and inventors may lodge applications for patents under those States laws.
– The Commonwealth Act will be in force before any patent can be granted under a State patent law.
– We have no knowledge as to when the Commonwealth Act will be brought into force. If a man applies in South Australia for a patent under the State law on the 1st January, and another man lodges an application for a patent for a similar invention in the Commonwealth Patent Office on the 2nd January, and the Commonwealth Act does not come into force for fourteen or twentyone days afterwards, which of these men will be entitled to priority? I submit that the man who lodges his application in the State Patent Office will be entitled to priority so far as the State is concerned ; and I point out _ that under this Bill any man who obtains a patent under a State Act is entitled, if no valid objection is raised, to have his patent extended to the whole of the Commonwealth.
– That is quite right.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator, but I am pointing out the difficulty into which we may get under this clause. A has got a patent granted in New South Wales, and B has made an application for a similar invention in the Commonwealth Patent Office, and, on the question of priority, it must be clear that, if an applicant is to safeguard himself, he must lodge his application in a State Patent Office as well as in the Commonwealth Patent Office.
– If we pass this clause we shall obviate the necessity for that.
– The passing of this clause will not obviate the necessity for that.
– In the case the honorable and learned senator has mentioned, A WOUld have priority for a patent in the State, and B would have priority for the rest of the Commonwealth.
.- That is so. Under this clause one would get priority in the State and the other would have priority in the rest of the Commonwealth. But I again remind honorable senators that, under a provision of this Bill, a man who secures a patent in any one of the States is entitled to have it extended to all the other States, and I say that to entirely safeguard his application the applicant must lodge his application in a State Patent Office and in the Commonwealth Patent Office as well. That will only be given intending patentees a great deal of extra trouble ; but, so far as I can see, it will be the only course which they can adopt to render their applications perfectly safe, so far as the whole Commonwealth is concerned. The Government have a right to assume the responsibility in connexion with this matter. We are at the fag end of the session ; honorable senators do not desire that we should lose the Patents Bill, nor do they desire to cause possible loss to applicants by objecting to these proposals, and, although I have a very strong objection to this clause, which I consider will be a blot upon the Bill, I am not prepared to go so far as to continue active opposition to it.
– With regard to the objection raised by Senator Gould as to the operation of the Act, I think there would be much to be said against the procedure adopted by the Government, if the circumstances were not as they are. It seems to me to be absolutely necessary that we should have this legislation in form for some time before we appoint the Commissioner and other officers who are to administer the Act. If the honorable and learned senator’s suggestion, that the Act should be brought into operation contemporaneously with the appointment of the Commissioner, were adopted, it is quite possible that the Commissioner would not be able to administer an Act containing such far-reaching provisions, because, upon the proclamation of the Commonwealth Act, the Commonwealth Patent Office will take over the whole of the administration of the States Patent Offices.
– But the honorable and learned senator must see that an application lodged will be safe, even though it is not immediately dealt with.
– I am speaking now of the effect of the method adopted by the Government. According to Senator Gould, this legislation will not take effect until [ certain action is taken by the Executive.
The honorable and learned senator’s objection, it seems to me, is that, as soon as the Act comes into operation, it will have a retrospective effect with regard to applications made previously. That is not an objection which would justify us in destroying our patents legislation for this session. The inconvenience so caused will be comparatively slight, in comparison with the advantages which we hope to gain by appointing a Commissioner at such a time that he will be enabled to get a good grip of the requirements of the legislation which he will have to administer.
– The omission of this clause will not affect the power of the Government to appoint a Commissioner before the proclamation of the Act.
– Certainly not. But I am dealing with the objection raised by Senator Gould, and I think the inconvenience to which he refers will be comparatively slight, and is an inconvenience to which we must submit to overcome the difficulties of the situation. As to the objection raised by Senator Pearce, which is to some extent indorsed by Senator Gould, the honorable senator is confusing the proposed new clause with a clause designed to confer upon * applicants patent rights. This clause is designed to do nothing of the kind.
– I never assumed that it was.
– It is simply designed to enable any person who wishes to obtain a patent for an invention to take either or both of two courses. He can go to a State Patent Office and make an application for a patent, and he can rest upon that and upon this legislation in the hope that the patent he obtains from the State Patent Office will be ultimately extended to the whole of the Commonwealth ; or he may, if he choose, before this Act is proclaimed into operation, make application to the Commonwealth Patent Office for a patent to apply to the whole Commonwealth. Senator Gould has given an instance in which this might work inconveniently. He has pointed out that if A applies on 1st January in a certain year at a State Patent Office for a patent in respect of a certain invention, he secures priority for his application in that State Patent Office, and, under this legislation, the patent which he obtains may afterwards be extended to the whole of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned senator then assumes that on the 2nd of January,
B lodges an application in the Commonwealth Patent Office under this new clause to secure priority for the whole of the Commonwealth. But this does not mean that he is to get patent rights, but that his application for a patent shall be first considered. In dealing with the application, the Commissioner will have to consider every objection which A may bring forward as a person who has made an application prior to that lodged by B in the Commonwealth office. The Commissioner has to decide whether B is the actual inventor, the assignee, nominee, or legal representative of the actual inventor ; whether the alleged invention is novel, or whether it has been in use by the public for some considerable time. All these are matters which the Commissioner and examiners will have to determine as between A and B. The converse would apply in the case of applications lodged with the State Patent Office. Suppose B applies on 2nd January in the Commonwealth Patent Office before this legislation comes into actual opera tion, and he knows that A has previously lodged an application in the State Patent Office, it will be his manifest duty, if he desires to protect himself against a claim for priority on the part of A, to go to the State Patent Office and lodge his objection to a patent being granted to A.
– Suppose the applications are lodged simultaneously ?
– If the question is only one of the time at which applications are lodged, it may be easily determined. If the applications are simultaneous, in the settlement of the question as to who shall be granted the patent, the Commissioner and examiners must fall back upon the other conditions, and decide as to who is the original inventor, and which invention is novel.
– The honorable and learned senator has not noticed that under the other part of the clause applications made under a State Patent Act may be lodged as prescribed before the commencement of this Act as applications under this Act.
– The whole clause is designed to give applicants an alternative. They may lodge their application in the Commonwealth Patent Office, or in a State Patent Office. It is pointed out that whilst an applicant who lodges his application in the Commonwealth Patent Office may be entitled to priority so far as regards the Commonwealth, a rival lodging an application with a State Patent Office may be entitled to priority so far as regards the State in which he applies.
– The application in the State office by the new clause is extended to the Commonwealth.
– I have already admitted that, and I point out that the whole
Df the difficulty that will arise in the hypothetical cases submitted will be settled by the action of the parties themselves. If Senator Pearce were to apply to a State Patent Office for a patent in respect of an alleged invention, he would be entitled under the second part of this clause to have his patent extended to the whole of the Commonwealth, provided he succeeded in getting a patent from the State Patent Office. If after his application was lodged Senator McGregor were to lodge an application for a patent for a similar invention at the Commonwealth Patent Office, he would be entitled under the first part of the clause to priority “ as prescribed “ when the Act came into operation. He would be entitled to priority of consideration, but he would not necessarily be entitled to the grant of a patent. Both honorable senators would see that each was taking action calculated to prejudice the claim of the other, and they might be relied upon in their own interests to take such steps as would enable the proper authorities of either the State or the Commonwealth Departments to decide which’ was entitled to patent rights in either the State or the Commonwealth. So far as I can see, the whole of the difficulties which have been suggested as likely to arise under this clause will be solved by the action of the parties interested. By extending facilities for the consideration of applications, we do not affect the granting of patent rights, and the parties interested may be left to take such a course as will secure their own rights. If honorable senators will reflect- that this clause is not one which binds the Crown in any way to grant a patent, but a clause which only provides for priority of consideration in certain circumstances, they will see that it is designed simply to extend facilities to applicants, but giving them nothing absolutely - neither provisional protection nor a grant of letters patent.
– In the one case there is a possibility of getting something, but in the other case there is no possibility of getting anything.
– If there is an application to the Commonwealth office for a patent in respect to the same invention, we may trust the real inventor to take such action in regard to the State administration as will prevent his rival from over-reaching him. The more we extend these facilities the greater convenience we provide for the public, but the greater range of facilities the more difficult and complicated may be the questions which may arise as between parties. I think that honorable senators will recognise that it is only a question of competition between rivals, and that for its determination plenty of machinery is provided in the State law until this Bill comes into full operation. When honorable senators recognise that that is all which the clause is intended to provide for, they will see that, in the working of the Act, there will be no difficulties of the character which have been referred to by Senators Pearce and Gould.
– Last week, after a very hasty con- ,sideration, I thought that the advantage would be in favour of the maintenance of the clause, but during a recent visit to Adelaide it was pointed out to me by several patent agents that it might prove to be very detrimental to those who are anxious to acquire patent rights from the Commonwealth office, and to day I received the following telegram from three leading firms of patent agents in that city : -
Section 28a will concurrently allow Federal applications and States applications. In six (a) separate State Patent Offices, which of them would take precedence ? We fear much litigation and conflict must result. Section 6a, following Canada, Germany Confederations, renders 28a unnecessary. Please show to senators.
These gentlemen have given very great thought to this subject, and evidently they fear that if the clause is passed as it stands it will cause great confusion and anxiety and may lead to very great litigation. The word “priority” has been understood by those gentlemen to mean that the applicants should have the first claim ; but Senator Keating has pointed out that what it means is that they shall not have a prior claim to protection, but merely priority as to consideration.
– The remarks of Senator Gould seem to point to the advisability of the Act being brought into operation as speedily as possible, as, no doubt, it will be; but I still think it may be necessary to appoint a Commissioner a short time before it comes into operation, in order to make the necessary preparations. It is true that during the intervening period there will be a balance of advantage and disadvantage. Suppose that it were enacted that until the Act really came into operation no inventor should have the opportunity of making an application for a Commonwealth patent, the result would be, I think, not that they would go to the separate State offices, but save up applications for the particular day when it would come into operation, and then there would be such a rush of applications that the same difficulty would arise in deciding questions of priority. What the clause seems to aim at is to prevent that confusion from arising by allowing a man to put in his application as soon as it is ready, and the Commissioner to take charge of it so that on the day on which the Act does come into operation it is there for consideration. The order in which applications will be considered will be settled by regulations.
– No one has shown what disadvantage will arise from the enactment of this clause. I can see a great deal of advantage in its retention, but Senator Pearce cannot show that it will create any disadvantage. The only advantage which it gives is to extend the opportunity of making applications, and as soon as the Act conies into full operation the provision is exhausted. A feeling seems to exist in the minds of some honorable senators that dozens of persons will be lodging applications for a patent in respect to the same invention. I do not anticipate anything of the kind being done. A difficulty can only arise in a case where two persons have applied for a patent in respect of the same invention, and there is machinery in the Bill to investigate all these applications. The authorities will decide which is the actual inventor, and although the applications might have been lodged at the same moment that person will get the patent. If the clause is passed as it is, I feel sure that any one who has an opportunity of making an application to the Commonwealth office will not go to the State office. Of course, if it should be more convenient to a person to apply through the State office, he can do so. In either case, the applicant is only protected in regard to his application.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representativesand (on motion bySenatorDRAKE) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I think that there will be no difference of opinion about this small Bill which is of a legal nature. It is entirely in the direction of carrying out a wish which has very often been expressed by honorable senators, that the public should have an opportunity of considering rules which are made under the authority of an Act of Parliament before they really come into force. It will be remembered that most statutes contain a provision that rules may be made to come into operation as soon as they are published, but that afterwards they shall be laid on the table of either House for a certain number of days. This Bill provides that in all those cases a notification must be given within sixty days of an intention to introduce such rules ; during that period any person may obtain a copy of the rules, and any suggestions whichare made by any person interested will be considered by the rulemaking authority. That will be a considerable advantage, because afterwards it will be impossible for any one to say that no opportunity was given to the public to see what the rules were before they came into operation. We are following the lines of the Imperial Act of 1893. The second part of the Bill providesfor the proper publication of rules. Very often regulations are made and gazetted and laid on the table of either House, and afterwards it is very difficult for a person to find the Gazette in which they were published. Following the English practice, it is proposed in this Bill that the rules so made shall be published yearly in book form. I hold in my hand a copy of the English rules and orders for 1902, as published under the authority of the Rules Publication Act of 1893. Where it is absolutely necessary that a rule should come into operation before the expiration of the sixty days, it is provided that rules may be made under the Act, so that they shall only have force until such time as the ordinary rules, with regard to which notice must be given, can obtain the force of law.
– Clause 2 refers to rules, regulations, or by-laws made under any Act ; but the rest of the Bill seems to relate to rules of court.
– Any rules which are made under the authority of an Act of Parliament, and which are to come into operation before they are laid on the table of either House, are the rules to which the Bill refers.
– So far as I have been able to follow the explanation qf the AttorneyGeneral, it would appear to me to be a step in the right direction to enact a provision whereby rules and regulations may be considered before they are approved, and the public may have an opportunity of obtaining a copy of any rules or any regulations. A great deal of difficulty and inconvenience is invariably experienced by persons who seek to find out what rules and regulations have been made under an Act of Parliament. But taking the measure as the honorable and learned senator has explained it, it appears to me that we may very well accept it, especially as it is by no means legislation of an experimental character, but merely follows the rules set out by the Imperial Parliament. But there is one matter about which I should like to have some explanation. I find that the heading of this Bill is entirely different from the headings of Bills which generally come up from another place. This Bill is headed as follows : -
This Bill originated in the House of Representatives; and having this day passed, is now ready for presentation to the Senate for its concurrence.
The Bill to amend the Public Service Act is headed differently. It is headed - “As received from the House of Representatives, and read a first time, 15th October, ]903.” I think that this is an entirely new departure. Under whose authority it has been taken, I do not know. But it is not a matter which we should pass over without comment.
– We adopt the same form when we send a Bill to the House of Representatives.
– The reasons why the words quoted by Senator Gould are placed upon the front of this Bill are these i This is one of the last days of the session, and in order to save time this Bill was printed by the House of Representatives ; and it has printed on it their certificate. It is true that that is not ordinarily done. But we always receive the same certificate, and we always send the same certificate on Bills which are transmitted from the Senate to the House of Representatives. Here is the certificate placed upon the Bill relating to patents and inventions which originated in the Senate -
This Bill originated in the Senate ; and having this day (Kissed is now ready for presentation to the House of Representatives for its concurrence.
So that there is really no new procedure whatever. The only reason why this certificate appears upon the forefront of the Bill is that to save time the Bill has been printed by the House of Representatives, and we have it before us with the certificate of the Clerk of the House upon it.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I thank you, Mr. President, for the explanation, which, of course, I am quite prepared to accept. I am glad to know that this Bill has been received in the ordinary way in which messages from the House of Representatives are received. After the explanation I have no more to say, but it seemed to me to be a point that called for some remark. I am glad that any misapprehension which might exist has been removed. I have only to add that I recognise that the Bill is a good one, and I am quite sure that honorable senators will not occupy very long in discussing it.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to make a remark before the Bill is read a second time. It is this : A question arises upon this Bill as’ to what ought to be the power of the Senate. I have only just seen the measure, but, speaking subject to correction, it seems to me that, although the regulations alluded to in it are to be laid before Parliament, there is no power given for Parliament to interfere with them. In clause 3, sub-clause (3), it is provided that such regulations shall be laid before Parliament. When they are laid before Parliament, what has Parliament to do? In many measures which we have passed it was provided that the regulations should be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and that if before a certain date either House passed resolutions disagreeing with them, they should cease to have the effect of law.
– That has been done under exceptional circumstances, but this is the usual course.
– I do not think it is the usual course. This Parliament has only been in existence three years, and we have to determine what ought to be the usual practice. Ought Parliament to give power to the Executive or to some authority outside Parliament to make regulations under an Act of Parliament, and not reserve to Parliament itself an opportunity to review those regulations? I can see no power which is given by this Bill to review the regulations made under it. It is quite true that they must be laid before Parliament, and Parliament may discuss them, but Parliament cannot amend them. Parliament should have that power, and that is a question that ought to be considered.
– I think that the Senate is indebted, to you, sir, for drawing attention to a palpable omission.
– It is not a palpable omission ; it is the usual practice which we have adopted with regard to nearly all our Acts.
– I have to draw attention to the fact that the Senate spent a considerable amount of time in arranging for the right of parliamentary intervention in connexion with all regulations that may be framed under the Defence Bill. It will be recognised that, as far as that measure is concerned, the regulations are of more importance than the Bill itself, which is merely a framework upon which to hang regulations. The regulations are of all importance. I do not know how far this Bill will affect other measures which we have passed, or will affect the right of Parliament to review regulations made under them. We now have an opportunity of drawing attention to that matter, and in Committee I hope the Bill will be so amended in this particular as to obviate any chance of Parliament being deprived of the opportunity of considering and amending regulations. As we have been careful to provide for this right in many measures which we have passed, it will be a deplorable thing if by passing this Bill we limit our right to correct any regulation that is disapproved of, or to render our disapproval of no avail.
– Does the honorable senator suppose that this Bill makes an alteration in what we have already passed?
– I am merely raising the question.
– This Bill is merely an enabling measure.
– Parliament can always interfere with regulations if it likes.
– It seems to me that there is very little use in deliberately passing a Bill which secures to ourselves certain conveniences, and then passing another Bill which limits our right. I may point out, for instance, that section 220 of the Customs Act provides that the Government are to make regulations ; and section 271 provides that all such regulations shall be published in the Gazette ; shall have effect from a later date, be laid upon the table of both Houses of Parliament, and, if either House of Parliament passes a resolution within fifteen days of the laying of the regulations upon the table disallowing any one of them, such regulation shall cease to have effect.
– This Bill does not make the slightest difference to that provision.
– There is a similar provision embodied in the Defence Bill.
– This Bill makes no difference to that.
.- I am not contesting the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral ; but when a high legal authority like the President differs from the honorable and learned senator I have a right to doubt which of the two eminent lawyers is correct. If there is a doubt about the point I shall have much pleasure in assisting to amend the Bill in Committee ; but so far as concerns its second reading, I shall give it my support.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - AttorneyGeneral). - I cannot help thinking that there has been some misapprehension with regard to the provisions of this Bill. The President’s remarks have given rise to misapprehension, because some honorable senators have gathered from them that the Bill makes some alteration with regard to the period or the circumstances in accord^ance with which regulations have to be laid before Parliament. That is not so. Each Act of Parliament contains its own provisions with regard to laying regulations before Parliament. Senator Neild has alluded to the Defence Bill. That Bill contains provisions as to the circumstances under which regulations are to be considered by Parliament. If an Act says that regulations are to be laid upon the table within fourteen days after the meeting of Parliament, that will be done. If an Act says that regulations shall not be valid if either House of Parliament passes a resolution disapproving of them, that has effect. Not the slightest alteration is made in any law with regard to those matters. But there are certain regulations which take effect before they are laid upon the table of Parliament, and this Bill deals with them. Clause 6 refers to the regulations that may be made under this Bill ; and in order to prescribe the particular class of regulations that have to comply with the conditions of this Bill, those regulations will have to be laid before both Houses of Parliament within thirty days after the making thereof.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
– I do not think I have made myself properly understood in reference to the matter to which I have previously alluded. I quite agree that this is a very good Bill. What I object to is that it does not go far enough. We have no settled practice in reference to rules and regulations. Our Constitution has only been in force three years, and we have passed several laws which contain sections with regard to regulations. In some of those Acts Parliament itself provided what should be done with the regulations. For instance, the Public Service Act contains such a provision. In some of our Acts we have provided that the regulations shall be laid before Parliament, and that if an)’ of them are disagreed with by either House they shall cease to have force and effect. What I wish to call attention to is that it is desirable to have one course of procedure in reference to all rules made by the Executive in pursuance of Acts of Parliament. If we lay down that procedure we ought to regulate it under this Bill. Why should we have a different course of procedure, and different circumstances arising in connexion with rules made in pursuance of the Public Service Act, and rules made under the Audit Act? I venture to submit that clause 3 is the proper clause upon which to raise this question. Cluase 6 refers to another set of rules or regulations for carrying this Bill into effect, and T put that on one side as having nothing to do with the point I raise. I say that it will save a lot of time and trouble hereafter in the passing of Acts of Parliament if we have one settled course of procedure as to what shall happen when the Executive passes rules in pursuance of an Act of Parliament. Ought we not to lay it down in this Bill, that in all cases the Legislature should have some control over these rules? I do not desire to infringe the Standing Orders by referring to what has taken place this session, but I may, perhaps, be permitted to remind honorable senators that we have had a long debate in reference to regulations published under the Public Service Act, and during the course of that debate, it transpired that whilst the Senate might express an opinion, we had no right to negative any rules passed under the Public Service Act with which we disagreed. Ought we not to have such a power? Having legislative power in this Senate, ought we not to provide for carrying it into effect, and not hand it over to the Executive ? I admit that regulations will have to be framed by the Executive in a great many instances. It is only right and proper that we should not go too much into detail, and that we should leave such matters of detail to the Executive, but ought we not to reserve to ourselves the right to say that any regulations framed by the Executive under an Act of Parliament, are such as we did not contemplate, and that we therefore desire to negative them ? If honorable senators agree that we should have .that right, now is the time to take action.
– I have heard some honorable senators applaud the suggestion ‘of Senator Baker that Parliament should have more control over regulations made by the Executive, but I hardly think that those honorable senators can approve of the present proposal that there should be one hard and fast rule made with regard to all regulations, whether comparatively important or unimportant. The principle upon which he has acted hitherto seems to me- to be the correct one. We have dealt with the power of the Executive to make regulations under each separate Act which we have- considered. Senator Neild, speaking only a few moments ago, with reference to the Defence Act, referred to the special precautions taken in connexion with that Act on account of the immense importance of the regulations made under it. Surely honorable senators when passing an Act should be able to judge its importance, and should be able to decide whether regulations made under it should be subject to the power of Parliament to confirm, to negative, or to amend 1 In each case in which we grant the power to make regulations, we can decide the conditions under which they shall be made. We can do that in considering every Bill separately, as has” been the practice hitherto. It would be a fatal mistake for the Senate to lay down a hard and fast rule with regard to all regulations, so that regulations which might be of a comparatively unimportant character should be required to be laid upon the Table for the same length of time, and be subject to the same precautions as regulations under another Act, which might be as important, if not more important than the Act itself. I think we have been going upon right lines in the past in dealing with each case separately, and it would be a great mistake to introduce into this Bill a hard and fast rule, governing regulations made under every Act of Parliament. I remind honorable senators that this Bill deals with rules of Court, as well as with regulations, made by the Executive in connexion with Government Departments, and one practice ought not to be made applicable to different rules. Let each case be judged on its own merits in accordance with the practice of the past, and if it is found, upon consideration, that any provision, with regard to regulations, has not been made sufficiently stringent, let the Act under which these regulations are made be amended so as to make the provision more effective with respect to the regulations governing that particular matter. 1 ask honorable senators not to deal with the question in this Bill.
– In reference to the remarks made by Senator Baker, I may say that I have always contended for the right of Parliament to disallow and disapprove of regulations made under any Act if they see fit. I know that in many cases that provision has been made ; but I think that the provision has depended as much upon the temper of the House at the time as upon the importance of the subject dealt with. I think that nearly every Bill introduced by the Government has been introduced without the provision giving Parliament power to disallow regulations made under it. I find, on referring to the Customs, Excise, and Distillation Acts, that provision is made enabling either House of Parliament to pass a resolution at any time within fifteen sitting days after the regulations have been laid before the House, disallowing such regulations, and that upon the passing of such a resolution, the regulations disallowed shall cease to have effect. I think that light should be given to Parliament with regard to all regulations made under any statutory power. It must not be forgotten that these regulations become the law of the land until the Executive repeals them, or Parliament alters the law, and Parliament, in some instances, has no power by resolution to do anything. The disadvantage is that whatever Parliament may desire to do, while a regulation remains in force, persons bound by it may be submitted to pains and penalties, or may be compelled to perform duties which may be very obnoxious to them. A number of our Acts contain no provision controlling regulations, and amongst them I may mention the Commonwealth Public Service Act and the Post and Telegraph Act. Those are Acts of primary importance, and the fact shows that Parliament has not exercised a wise discretion in controlling the power of the Executive toissue regulations under important Acts. I think it would be well to make some provision requiring that all regulations made under an Act of Parliament shall -be laid upon the table in both Houses, and shall cease to have effect if Parliament disapproves of them. I think it would be far better to have one general law dealing with the subject than to have a special provision in connexion with each particular Act.
– What about rules of Court?
.- They are in a different category altogether.
– They are included in this Bill.
.- I know that they are dealt with in this Bill ; but they are in a different category from rules made byExecutive authority, and, as a general rule, regulations so made should be open to disallowance by Parliament. If they are of no importance, no one will worry about them ; but if they are of great importance, Parliament will be given an opportunity to interfere, and to see that the regulations framed are such as will be satisfactory. If Senator Baker considers this matter of sufficient importance to justify him in submitting an amendment, which will make this rule applicable to regulations under all Acts of Parliament, I shall be willing to support him. I think it is a wise principle to adopt. It would save Members of Parliament from a great deal of unpleasant contention with Ministers, which it is just as well we should avoid if it is possible to do so in some amicable and friendly manner.
-C’ol. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That the words “before the rules come into operation” be left out.
I should be glad if upon this point I were listened to with some little care. I submit the amendment because this clause, if passed in its present form, will apply to every Act which has recently been mentioned. Both the Defence Act and the Customs Act give to either House of Parliament the right of disallowance in respect of regulations which may be framed under them ; but this particular clause is so drawn that if the words which I propose to leave out are retained, this Bill will not exclude those Acts, but will include them, because they do not require that regulations made under them shall be laid before Parliament before they take effect. Regulations made under the Acts take effect immediately they are promulgated. They are, therefore, not within the operation of this Bill, and I object to that, because it muddles up the question of the effectiveness of one Act as against another, and we shall have one’ Act conflicting with another. 1
– There is no conflict whatever. ‘
.- The Attorney- ! General will perhaps see that there is a con- :flict in this way : We have passed a Customs ‘ Act and a Defence Act, in which it is ‘ specially laid down that, although the ‘ Executive may frame regulations, Parliament has the right of veto with respect to those regulations. ‘
– But the regulations come into operation before they are laid on the table.
– I do not know that I make myself clear, but it is very clear to me that we have passed two measures which give the Senate and the House of Representatives the right of veto in respect of regulations made under those Acts, although those regulations may be in full force at the time when the veto is applied.
– They are not included.
– They are included, because they come within the limitation of sub-clause 3 of this clause. Acts excluded by this third sub-clause are Acts the regulations under which require to be laid before Parliament before they come into operation. The regulations under the Customs Act and the Defence Act come into operation before they are laid before Parliament.
– The honorable senator will need to strike out the whole of sub-clause 3 to secure what he desires.
.- As I find there is so much interruption, I shall not bother myself any more about it.
– I hope I have not offended the honorable senator.
.- No ; but I find it quite impossible to maintain an argument upon an abstruse point when there is so much interruption.
– When it is provided by an Act of Parliament that regulations made under it have to be laid on the table of either House before they come into operation, it is presumed that the public will be given an opportunity through their representatives of considering them. This Bill is intended only to deal with rules and regulations which come into force before they are laid on the table of either House of Parliament. In order to insure that the public shall be given an opportunity of knowing what they are before they are enforced, this Bill provides that at least sixty days before the making of any statutory rules, notice of the proposal to make the rules, and of the place where copies of the draft rules may be obtained, shall be published in the Gazette.
– Even if under an Act power is reserved to Parliament to disallow regulations, this Bill will apply to them if they come into force before they are laid upon the table of either House.
– That is so.Where regulations come into force before they are laid upon the table of either House it is provided in this Bill that they shall be published for at least sixty days before they can be enforced, that the public may know ‘ what is proposed, and that persons interested may be able to discuss them.
– I presume that this will not interfere with the right of disallowance of regulations given under various Acts.
– Not in the slightest degree.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (4.) Either House of Parliament may by resolution negative any rule or rules, and thereupon such rule or rules shall have no force or effect provided that such resolutions shall be proposed within thirty days after the rule or rules have been laid before the Houses of Parliament.”
That amendment will, I think, to some extent meet the views of Senators Baker and Neild.
– I should like, Mr. Chairman, to ask your ruling as to whether the amendment proposed can be put. This is a Bill for the publication of statutory rules, and it deals with that subject only. How can the honorable senator drag in a clause which would practically repeal portions of nearly all the statutes we have passed this session. In nearly every statute we have passed this session there is a provision with regard to the method of laying upon the table of either House of Parliament regulations promulgated under it. Senator Walker now proposes an amendment which will alter all those Acts. We have considered this matter separately in connexion with each of those Acts. Sometimes we have proposed that regulations shall lay upon the table in either House for a longer, and at other times for a shorter, period ; and now, by this amendment, the honorable senator proposes to make an alteration in all those Acts. I submit that the amendment is not within the scope of the Bill.
– The AttorneyGeneral has advanced an argument which I might have advanced. The honorable and learned senator has stated that we have provided in all the Bills we have passed what statutory powers Parliament shall retain over regulations. I have made a suggestion with the object of avoiding the necessity for considering this matter in connexion with every Bill that is brought before us. Surely it is better to have one rule laid down in a particular Act, dealing with this subject, rather than that Parliamentshould haveto discuss, perhaps for hours in connexion with each Bill that is introduced, whether the rules to be framed under it shall be laid before Parliament’ for fifteen days, thirty days, or two months ?
– Why not judge each case on its merits’!
– My object
I is to avoid the necessity fordiscussing in connexion with every Bill, the conditions under which any regulations framed under it shall have force and effect. If the AttorneyGeneral desires that the provisions of this clause should not apply to Acts which we have already passed, I should not have the slightest objection. I am looking to the future and not to the past. I am having regard to the large number of Bills which will be passed under the Federal Constitution, and I wish to avoid the necessity of discussing on each the term during which the regulations shall lie on the table of Parliament - of discussing whether a resolution of both Houses, or of only one House shall be required, or whether the regulation shall have force and effect without a resolution of either House, and other similar questions which have taken up so much of our time. There ought to be one simple rule.
– As to the point of order, I think the amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and consequently I must receive it.
– I am certainly of opinion that this Bill is not the proper measure for a proposal of the kind submitted by Senator Walker. Legislation of so general a character dealing with all matters relating to regulations, and introducing a uniform practice, ought to be by means of a separate Bill. The amendment before us will interfere with measures already passed, such as the Patents Act, in which the period fixed is fifteen days.
Some Acts prescribe a longer period and some a shorter period, and others provide that regulations cannot be nullified without the consent of both Houses.
– The Chairman has already ruled that the amendment is in order, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council is distinctly challenging that ruling.
– I am not challenging the Chairman’s ruling, but simply pointing out that this is not the Bill for Senator “Walker’s amendment, which would have the effect of repealing provisions in a number of other Acts. We ought not to deal with such matters by a hard-and-fast rule. There are regulations of such importance that they ought not to be annulled by a simple resolution of one House, and there are other regulations of not so much importance which might very well be left in the discretion of either branch of the Legislature. My own opinion is that cast-iron rules and regulations are bad - that it is a great deal better to deal with each case on its merits. No doubt these regulation provisions entail considerable discussion, but the time spent is certainly not wasted, and it is a great deal better to adopt that plan than any cast iron rule.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I shall be quite willing to accept a suggestion to make the period fifteen sitting days.
– The matter had better be dealt with on some other occasion. .
– I shall have to press the amendment, but I am quite willing to make the time fifteen sitting days, and I ask leave to alter my proposal so as to provide for that period.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– It seems that, perhaps unintentionally, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has just made a speech in direct opposition to the principles enunciated by the Attorney-General when introducing the Bill. What is the object of a Bill unless it be to provide for uniformity of practice? That was the view presented by the AttorneyGeneral, and it is a view with which I am in agreement. ‘ But the Vice-President of the Executive Council argues eloquently for chaos - he objects most strenuously to any cast-iron rule. The honorable gentleman has used the phrase “cast-iron rule” so frequently as to be almost guilty of “tedious repetition.” I cannot agree with both Ministers, who are directly opposed to each other.- The object of the Bill is to introduce some established practice as contended for by the Attorney-General, as against the haphazard practice advocated by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and, having regard to the exigencies of public business, I must give my support to’ the Attorney-General, and consequently to the amendment, which is in favour of some settled uniformity. Senator Playford wishes to have a cheerful uncertainty.
– The.honorable gentleman wishes to legislate for a cheerful uncertainty in matters of this kind.
– For a glorious variety.
– Then I must support the Attorney-General as against the Vice-President of the Executive Council with his “ glorious variety.”
– I am inclined to think that Senator Neild is joking, because there is no conflict between my colleague and myself. We are dealing with the publication of regulations before they come into force ; and that has nothing whatever to do with the provision in the various Acts as to the term during which regulations shall lie on the table of Parliament. I cannot think that Senator Walker is quite serious in proposing this amendment; at any rate, I hope he will not succeed, because his proposal would only lead to unnecessary delay. Senator Walker, first of all, proposed that the period should be thirty days, and then suddenly he reduced it to fifteen sitting days.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council drew attention to the fact that fifteen sitting days is the period fixed in other Acts.
– Doubtless Senator Walker’s intention was to reduce the period from thirty days to fifteen; -but, on the suggestion of some other honorable senator, he added the words “sitting days,” which would really extend the period of thirty days to forty-five or sixty days. In the Customs Tariff Act, the Defence Act, the Public Service Act, and the Patents Bill, we carefully considered in each case what provision ought to be made i to safeguard the regulation-making power. Senator Walker, however, proposes to make a hard-and-fast rule, which is not desirable, especially as we are dealing, not only with regulations under Acts of Parliament, but with rules of Court. These rules of Court sometimes deal with insignificant matters, and have to be drawn up by the Judges in a few minutes, in order, perhaps, to deal with some special point which has arisen. Yet it is proposed that these rules shall lie on the table of Parliament for fifteen sitting days, which may mean five weeks. Surely the honorable senator does not want to press his amendment with regard to rules of Court which may be passed in recess.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I think that, perhaps,” the better course would be for Senator Walker to withdraw his amendment. The whole of this discussion has been most unsatisfactory, owing to the fact that the Government sprang a surprise on us in asking us to consider and pass a Bill which we had not seen until a moment or two before. Under the circumstance it is not surprising if senators have got a little astray. The AttorneyGeneral, when he makes fun of fifteen sitting days as the time during which rules and regulations may be negatived by either House, must recollect that that is his own Ministerial proposition.
– In the case of the Defence Bill.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.Such a proposal must be equally absurd in the instance in which the Government fathered it as in the present instance. However, I admit that we do not thoroughly understand the Bill. At any rate, I am sure I do not understand the Bill, because I have not read it, and I do not know who has. Perhaps we might allow the measure to pass, because I do not suppose it can do much harm in its present state. But notwithstanding what Ministers have said, this discussion will bear fruit, and before long there will be a Bill laying down some course of procedure as to regulations made in pursuance of an Act of Parliament. Such a Bill would, I feel sure, shorten debate, and be most beneficial in many ways. It would enable honorable senators and the general public to know what their rights are ; there would be a certain time within which action would have to be taken to be effectual. At the present time each particular Bill contains within itself its own procedure, whereas a uniform practice would be advisable. I suggest that Senator Walker should withdraw his amendment.
– I may be forgiven for leaving the Chair for the purpose of saying a word or two in support of the suggestion that the amendment be withdrawn. This is a proposal of such serious moment, and one which would be productive of so much confusion in the future, that I hope that the Senate will hesitate before giving it their approval. To some extent the amendment has special reference to rules of Court: and it practically means that legal practitioners may for five or six months, when Parliament is in recess, work under rules which, within fifteen Sit.ting days after Parliament meets, may bedisallowed. Under such circumstances, according to the amendment, everything done under the rules during the five or six months would be null and void.
– I do not agree with the honorable and learned senator.
– The words used in the amendment are that, in case of disallowance, the rules “shall have no force or effect provided such resolution shall be proposed within fifteen sitting days after the rules have been laid before Parliament.” That means that what had been done in the meantime would be rendered useless and void. I do not deem it my duty to deal with the Bill immediately before us or with the question of the necessity for uniformity ; but I suggest that the amendment would not achieve the object desired by Senator Walker. On the other hand, it would be productive of much confusion in the direction I have indicated.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - The addition of one or two words would get rid of the objection raised by Senator Best. It might be provided that if any rules be disallowed by Parliament, they shall thenceforth have no effect. I find that under the Electoral Act, in regard to the Rules of the High Court, the provision is made : -
The Justices of the High Court, or a majority of them, or until the High Court is established the Governor-General may make Rules of Court not inconsistent with this Act for carrying this part of this Act into effect, and in particular for regulating the practice and procedure of the Court, the forms to be used, and the fees to be paid by parties.
Every Rule of Court made in pursuance of this section shall be laid before the- Senate and the House of Representatives within forty da3’S next after it is made if the Parliament is then sitting, oi- if the Parliament is not then sitting, then within forty days after the next meeting of the Parliament ; and if an address is presented to the Governor- General by either House of the Parliament within the next subsequent forty sitting days of the House praying that any such rule may be annulled, the Governor-General may thereupon annul the same -
So far, that follows the proposal made by Senator Walker ; but the provision proceeds - and the rule so annulled shall thenceforth become void and of no effect, but without prejudice to the validity of any proceedings which have in the meantime been taken under it.
The addition of similar words to the amendment before us would get rid of Senator Best’s objection. Practitioners know that rules, like Acts of Parliament, may be altered at any time ; and it is for them to keep their eye on legislation. It may be as well under the circumstances for Senator Walker not to persist with his amendment, which,however, lays down a principle that I hope will be accepted by Parliament at an early date. If each Act has to be looked up in regard to regulations, an element of uncertainty is raised in the minds of the general public. But if we have a standard rule under which a certain course of action has to be taken, the public can easily find out whether a regulation is or is not in force. A regulation ought to take effect from the date on which it is passed by the proper authority, except, of course, in special cases, while the disallowance of a regulation should only take effect from the date on which it is disallowed, and anything done previously should be perfectly valid and of full effect.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). For a long time I have had a strong feeling that we. have far too much government by regulation, and that any step which can be taken to bring any regulations that are framed under the review of Parliament is very desirable. But I do not see how we can so legislate in a Bill which simply orders the publication of regulations. I agree with the statement of Senator Baker, that this debate will bear some fruit in the future. I should be very glad if the members of the Government would bear in mind this discussion, and give effect to the evident desire of honorable senators by seeing that all regulations should come, in some form or other, before the Parliament.
– This is a big step in that direction.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
– During the passage of the clause through the other House, the words “ notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained “ were inserted under the misapprehension that there was something contrary to this provision in a former part of the Bill. I move -
That the words “ notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained,” lines 4 and5, be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 5a. Any printed paper, purporting to be a copy of statutory rules made by a rule-making authority, and to be printed by the Government Printer, shall in all Courts within the Commonwealth be evidence that such statutory rules have been duly made by the rule-making authority and are in force.”
– If the term ” prima facie evidence” were used it would be left open to a person to show that the evidence was not correct, but if it is made absolute evidence it cannot be disputed.
– The new clause is similar to a provision which was enacted in the State Laws and Records Recognition Act as follows : -
Where by any State Act power to make by-laws or regulations is conferred upon any person or body any printed paper purporting to be such by-laws or regulations, and to be printed by the Government Printer of the State, or by the authority of the Government of the State shall in all Courts within the Commonwealth be evidence -
We had better allow the new clause to remain as it is, because all evidence is subject to disproof. It would be rather antiquated to put in the words “prima facie.” Senator Gould has used the word “ evidence “ as if it meant “ conclusive evidence,” whereas it only means evidence which is capable of being rebutted.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments: report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with the following message : -
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled “ A BUI for an Act to determine the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth,” and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has disagreed to the amendments made in such Bill by the Senate.
The House of Representatives has amended the words proposed to be omitted by Amendment No. 2 by alteringthe word “ shall “ in line 12 of the Bill to “ should.”
The reasons for disagreeing to theAmendments of the Senate are shown in the annexed Schedule. The Amendment now made in the words proposed to be omitted by Amendment No. 2 is also shown therein .
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of the said Amendments.
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 21st October, 1903.
In Committee :
Clause 2 -
It is herebydetermined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Tumut, and the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be should contain an area of not less than one thousand square miles and shall extend to the River Murray and the River Murrumbidgee.
Provided that the site shallbe within a distance of twenty-five miles from Tumut, and at an altitude of not less than fifteen hundred feet above the sea.
Senate’s Amendments. - Leave out “ Tumut “ and insert “Bombala”; after “miles,” line 6, leave out remainder of clause.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendments disagreed to with an amendment.
– The other House has declined to accept our amendment, for this very simple reason -
Because the House is of opinion that Tumut is the more suitable locality.
I presume that the majority of honorable senators amended the clause because they thought that Bombala was a more suitable locality than Tumut. It is rather unfortunate, when we are making these efforts to fix on a place as the site of the Federal Capital, there should be such a clearly-marked division of opinion between the Houses. It brings about a difficulty which certainly was not anticipated. Having started the year before last with eighteen sites, apparently the number is reduced to two. I have not the slightest doubt that either
Bombala or Tumut would be admirably suited for the purpose. We may comfort ourselves with the reflection that the disagreement between the Houses being narrowed down to two sites looks like an approach to finality.
– Another Parliament may decide on another site.
– The question is whether, although we seem to be near the end of the session, it is not worth while to make another effort to get this question settled. My desire that the question should be settled by this Parliament is, as I have said all along, very strong.
– That has been made manifest during the last three years.
– It has been manifested during the last three years. I have allowed no opportunity to go without endeavouring to bring about a settlement of the question. Although I have my individual preference for a site, I would sooner vote for the site that I put second on the list than leave the question unsettled, because from what I saw during my visit to New South Wales, and what I have read, I am convinced that that State presents more than two sites which are admirably suited for the purpose. I think it would be better for us to choose one of them than to leave the matter unsettled. The question now is whether anything can be done towards bringing about a settlement. As a representative of the Government, there is only one thing for me to do, and that is to move -
That the Senate’s amendment to leave out “Tumut “ and insert “Bombala “ be not insisted on.
That is the only way in which I can see at the present time we can bring about a settlement.
– Stick to the Senate.
– I dare say that a majority of honorable senators will vote for Bombala, as they did before. The Bill will go back to the other House, and I suppose that a majority of its members will vote, as they did before, for Tumut, and then we shall get no settlement.
– Do I understand from that remark that the Bill will then he dropped for this session ?
– I cannot tell my honorable friend what is going to happen. The present is quite sufficient to occupy my limited capacities, and I leave the future to prophets, of whom, no doubt, he is one of “the chief. It is hard to find a middle course in the circumstances, and unless one House is willing to yield a point it will be impossible for the Houses to come into agreement. I hope that the matter will be considered carefully, and that it may not be beyond the ingenuity of the Senate to devise some means by which the Houses may be brought into accord.
– I am exceedingly disappointed that there is every prospect of no finality being reached on this subject this session. The Attorney-General has stated that it has been made manifest that no fault lies with the Government. If we review the action of the Government for the last two or three years, what do we find 1 When this Parliament first assembled, we had before us the report of Mr. Oliver giving the fullest information with regard to several suggested sites. The Government allowed that report to lie upon the table of the two Houses for a year and a half.
– Did they not furnish copies of the report to Members of Parliament 1
– The honorable senator is wandering from the proposal before the Committee. It is a question of insisting or not insisting upon the Senate’s amendment. His remarks appear to me to be irrelevant.
– Eighteen months after that, it occurred to the Government foi’ the first time that another expert inspection was necessary, and they appointed a Royal Commission for the purpose. No opportunity was furnished by the Government to consider the Federal Capital sites until the last days of this Parliament were reached. Then the question was placed before us in the shape of a Bill, which afforded us the first opportunity of legislating.
– Is the honorable senator urging reasons relating to the question before the Chair ?
– In the face of these facts the Government say that no blame is attributable to them.
– That is clearly not the question before the Committee. The honorable senator must see that I have allowed him some latitude. He must confine- himself to the question whether the Senate’s amendment shall be insisted on or not.
– The people of New South Wales realize that we cannot come to any definite settlement this session. There is in the Senate an absolute majority who are pledged to the Bombala site, and there is in the House of Representatives a majority in favour of Tumut. The people of New South Wales have to a certain extent become embittered by what they regard as a breach of the spirit of the Constitution in not selecting the Federal Capital site in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. Although I deprecate the feverish anxiety into which they have worked themselves, I believe that it was the intention of the framers of the Constitution that the Federal Capital should be selected within the first three years. What is the present position ? We have practically narrowed down the sites to two. The House of Representatives, by an overwhelming majority, has selected Tumut ; the Senate has, by a larger proportionate majority, decided on Bombala, lt seems to be impossible this session to arrive at finality. At the proper stage J. intend to propose thatafter the word “Tumut” the words “or Bombala “ be added. The clause will then read -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Tumut or Bombala, and the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be, should contain an are:’., of not less than one thousand square miles.
If that amendment is not carried, we shall, next session, be no further forward than we were when we first assembled in this Parliament, and we shall have to go through the whole dreary business of selecting a site. It is probable that twenty new sites will be proposed in the meantime. The next Parliament will have to consider those sites. Probably commissioners will have to be appointed to report upon them. We shall have the same trouble, the same irritation, the same expense as we have had this session. Probably by the end of next session no finality will be reached. But this session we have got a step forward. We originally had ten or fifteen sites to consider. We have reduced them to two. Surely we have power to decide that the site ultimately selected shall be one of these two sites.
– Because this Parliament cannot make up its mind, is it to bind the next Parliament?
– Each House of this Parliament can make up its mind,’ but the two Houses cannot decide upon one of the two sites. If my amendment is adopted, we can at the beginning of next Parliament in January decide upon which of the two sites shall be chosen. But if we arrive at a dead-lock between the two Houses, and do not adopt the compromise which I recommend, an enormous amount of time will be taken up next session in going through practically ‘the same- work as we have already done. I am afraid that some of the representatives returned from New South Walas will feel that they must obstruct business, and oppose other measures until what they believe to be absolutely the spirit of the Constitution is carried out. We should legislate in such a way as not to injure, but absolutely to promote the Federal feeling, by which alone our Commonwealth can be a success ; and I believe that if we can definitely reduce the sites to two, we shall have taken a considerable step forward. Of course those who do not wish to have the Federal Capital selected as soon as possible, will vote against my amendment ; but those who earnestly desire to arrive at finality, as soon as we can reasonably do so, will vote for it. Another difficulty is this : It is impossible for any reasonable man to accept the proposal of the House of Representatives in favour of Tumut. I will briefly give my reasons for saying so : Mr. Oliver, the Commissioner appointed by the New South Wales Government, reported that of all the sites atTumut, the one called Gadarawas the best fitted to be the site of the Federal Capital. But the Commissioners appointed by the Commonwealth Government reported that in their opinion the site called Lacmalac was the best site in the neighbourhood of Tumut. The House of Representatives have practically said that neither of those two sites is suitable. They have practically thrown the reports of the Commissioners into the waste-paper basket, and have decided upon a site called Batlow. Both Mr. Oliver and the Commonwealth Commissioners inspected that site, but neither of them thought it worth while to mention it as suitable for theFederal Capital. Very few members of the Senate have seen it.
– The House of Representatives has not selected Batlow
– But they have said that both Gadara and Lacmalac are impossible. Is it reasonable to ask honorable senators to vote for a site which they have not seen, and which has not been reported upon? If my amendment is carried, we shall be able to obtain the fullest information with regard to all the sites. Up to the present we have only had reports with regard to a vague locality.
– Does the honorable senator propose to appoint Commissioners ?
– No; but I propose to reduce the number of the sites to two, and in the meantime we can obtain such information as will enable us to come to a decision.
– We cannot prevent the next Parliament from deciding in favour of Albury, or Lyndhurst, or any othersite.
– We cannot prevent the next Parliament from amending any Act that we pass. But the present position is this : The New South Wales members want Lyndhurst ; they have no chance of getting it. The Victorians want Albury ; they have no chance of getting it. If they are reasonable people, they will see that the choice lies between Bombala and Tumut. If they are unreasonable the whole matter will have to be gone into over again; but their wishes cannot be attained in the end in any case. There may be sites around Tumut about which we have had no reports which may be eminently suitable for the Federal Capital ; but on the information before us, it is impossible to expect us, as reasonable men, to select either of them. I think I have made the point clear. Only two Tumut sites have been reported upon, namely Gadara and Lacmalac. It is not proposed to accept either of them. But the House of Representatives ask us to accept a vague area, fifteen or twenty miles south of Tumut, at an altitude which absolutely precludes either Gadara or Lacmalac being chosen. It is impossible to ask us to vote for a site at Tumut which has never been reported upon. I do not say that there are not sites at Tumut which would be admirably suited for a Federal Capital, but we have not the information we require. We can get a report from the Commissioners as to the accessibility, means of communication, topography, and water supply of these two areas. Dealing with the question of water supply, it is said that an admirable gravitation scheme might be adopted at Tumut, which would give an illimitable supply of fresh water. Such a scheme might be possible in connexion with the sites at Lacmalac and Gadara, but it might not be possible in the case of the Batlow site.
– And it might be.
– It might be ; but we require definite information on the point. We should know definitely that the required conditions can be fulfilled, arid such a report as I suggest would give us the information.
– But I thought the honorable senator had made up his mind about Bombala.
– If we deal with these two areas it will be possible for the’ Commissioners to consult the residents and ascertain from them what they would require for their land, and we should then get some idea of the cost of resumption. They might also consider what would be the absolutely necessary minimum expenditure that the Commonwealth would be called upon to make for the first ten years, if either of these sites were selected, and that would be information which should be satisfactory to a great many of our carping critics who are at present opposed to any selection of a Federal Capital site. With such valuable information we should be able to give an intelligent vote upon these two sites. If my amendment is lost, I shall vote for the Bombala site, which I have seen, in preference to sites at Tumut which I have never seen, and which have never been reported upon. We have the power in this Bill to say that the Federal Capital site should be selected at Tumut or Bombala, and that will mean that we have reduced the possible sites to two. Some honorable senators will say that this will not bind the next Parliament : but no Bill we pass will bind the next Parliament. The next Parliament will be able to bring in a Bill to amend any Act we pass.
– No amending Bill will be required in this case.
– The next Parliament cannot possibly propose the selection of a site, such as Albury, without the introduction of a Bill to repeal some portion of this Bill, if we decide to pass it.
My proposal will enable the people at the next election to concentrate their attention upon two sites, and to say which of those sites they prefer. -
– As a people they will have no knowledge of the sites.
– The people of the Commonwealth will not read reports upon fifteen sites, but if we reduce the number of possible sites to two they will be able to form an intelligent judgment as to which is the better site.
– The honorable senator says that the reports are incomplete, and they cannot be completed before the election.
– The reports are not complete, but some further reports may be obtained and published before the election bearing directly upon those two sites, and the correspondence appearing in the newspapers will afford them some information. If my proposal is adopted we shall, next session, have an opportunity, with additional information, to select a site as soon as Parliament meets. I believe that until this question is settled we shall have no end of trouble. The people of New South Wales - and I shall be obliged to sympathize with them to a great extent - will feel that we have not carried out the spirit of the Constitution, and they will not be inclined to assist us to pass other legislation until we have passed legislation which they believe to be absolutely necessary.
– That is not correct. I do not believe that the New South Wales people will ever take up such a position.
– I hope that the people of New South Wales will not take any drastic steps in connexion with this matter. I think that we should select the Capital site as soon as possible ; and instead of throwing away the labour and expense incurred this session, in view of the fact that there is a deadlock between the two Houses, we should select two sites, and next session, with the additional information which I think we should obtain, we shall be able to decide between them. If both Houses could decide upon one site, the decision would be irrevocable, and if we can decide upon two sites, we shall limit the selection to those two sites, and next session we shall be able to decide which is the better of the two.
– Senator Smith has laid it down that any one who desires the settlement of this question must necessarily vote for his amendment. At the risk of being included in the opposite camp, I feel called upon to oppose it until I have heard some more substantial reason in its favour than any which have been advanced. I ask honorable senators what practical good can come of the adoption of this amendment? The honorable senator who has moved it claims that this will enable us to reach finality. What finality can be reached by a mere registration of the fact which is already known to every one that a dead-lock exists between the two Houses, and that we have whittled the number of possible sites down to two?
– We have done that already.
– That is already done, and it will not be done any more effectually by Senator Smith’s proposal to pass an Act of Parliament recording the fact that the two Houses have made a different choice. The honorable senator has said that, if we adopt this amendment, we shall avoid a repetition of the worry and work we have had this session. Will we 1 He speaks of an amending Bill being necessary in the next Parliament, but an amending Bill will not be necessary. A’ Bill will be necessary to determine which of these two sites shall be selected for the Federal Capital ; and that will open up all the flood-gates of discussion upon this question again. No future Parliament will be restrained in any way by anything which we may do now, but it will have thrown upon it the work which this Parliament has been unable to accomplish. The next Parliament will not be restrained by the knowledge of the fact that we have passed an Act to show that, out of nine sites, we have managed to reduce the selection to two. The whole question will be re-opened, unless the Government are prepared to inform us that they will force it to a conclusion this session.
– If we select one site the matter can be re-opened by the next Parliament.
SenatorMILLEN. - No; if one site is definitely selected the Government will be in a position to negotiate with the Government of New South Wales, and, probably, before the meeting of the next Parliament, they would be able to secure the transfer of the territory. No future Parliament would, in such a case, be likely to disturb what had been done. It is quite impossible for us to reach finality by the passing of this amendment. I admit that we shall be as far removed from finality if this Bill is allowed to drop, but it would be reducing the proceedings of Parliament to a farce to ask us to pass a Bill, merely to register the fact that the two Houses of the Federal Parliament are unable to agree as to which of two sites is the better. It is far better that the Senate, if honorable senators are so inclined, should adhere to its previous determination, and allow the matter to stand over until the new Parliament meets.
– I agree with Senator Millen. It is a great waste of time to proceed with Senator Smith’s amendment. The Constitution says that the Parliament must select a site. By proposing that the words “ or Bombala “ should be inserted, we shall not give the Government an opportunity of making a selection between the sites.
– It is not the Government, but Parliament, that has to determine the site of the seat of government.
– Are we not begging the question? One House or the other ought to take the responsibility of shelving this Bill, if we cannot come to an agreement. Senator Drake has moved that the Senate do not insist upon their amendment, substituting Bombala for Tumut. Let us vote upon that question, and if we still insist upon Bombala as the site of the Federal Capital, the Bill can be sent back to the House of Representatives, and that House may, if honorable members are prepared to do so, take the responsibility of shelving the Bill. If the House of Representatives is not prepared to accept that responsibility they can again return the Bill to the Senate ; and, if we are still of the same mind, we can shelve it. But we ought not to attempt to give any one the idea that the Government have done their utmost in trying to settle the question of the site this session. The Government will not have gone to that length until they have forced the Senate to shelve the Bill. I take it that this proposal of Senator Smith’s is an easy way out for somebody. It will enable some persons to pose before the public as having endeavoured to settle the question of the seat of government of the Commonwealth. Assuming that Senator Smith’s amendment is carried, and the words “ or Bombala” are inserted in the Bill, the amendment may be accepted in another place, the Bill may pass and receive the Governor-General’s assent, and how much further shall we have advanced in the selection of the Federal Capital site.
– We shall have cut down the number of possible sites to two.
– We have cut them down to two already.
– Some honorable senators seem to think that we have cut down the number of possible sites to two, but when next session the Government bring forward a Bill for the selection of the Federal Capital site, containing this reference to the two sites of Tumut and Bombala, some new member of the Parliament, who may believe that the people of New South Wales prefer that Lyndhurst should be selected, can propose a new clause to give effect to their wishes.
– He could not do that without introducing an amendment of this Bill.
– He might move that so much of this Act should be repealed as would prevent the selection of Lyndhurst as the seat of government of the Commonwealth.
– He could not do that without the introduction of an amending Bill.
– It -would not be a very difficult matter for him to introduce an amending Bill.
– An amending Bill would not be necessary. The Government would bring in their Bill definitely fixing either Bombala or Tumut as the seat of government, and all that would be required then would be to move a motion omitting the word Bombala or Tumut, as the case might be.
– That is the honorable senator’s view, but the view I take is that the best method of procedure to adopt would be to move that so much of the Act should be repealed as would prevent the selection of Lyndhurst, .and then the whole of the discussion would have to be gone over again. I favour the selection of Lyndhurst, and if Lyndhurst is not to be selected I prefer to vote for Tumut.
– No wonder Crick passed the remark he did.
– I will not discuss that point now. I have read of a German professor who was of opinion that this particular planet is the lunatic asylum of the universe ; and judging by the proceedings of several public bodies, one can quite understand such an idea being entertained. I do not think there is any business in Senator Smith’s amendment which asks us to behave like an ostrich and put our heads in the sand. It will be far more open-minded and candid to adhere to our amendment as to Bombala, and allow the other Chamber to do as it pleases. Do not let us have any alternative choice, because Parliament, either this session or in some other future session, must make a selection.
– If it is the desire of the Senate that the Government should have a certain number of sites to select from, I should like to increase that number by the addition of Lyndhurst, by moving that the amendment be amended by the insertion of the word “Lyndhurst” after the word “Tumut.”
– I desire to inform honorable senators what is before the Committee. First there is a motion by the Attorney-General to the effect that amendment number 1 be not insisted on. That, of course, covers the whole ; but as Senator Smith desires to move that “Tumut” be retained and “ or “ inserted before “ Bombala,” it is necessary that I should split up the question. I propose putting the question “That so much of the amendment as omits Tumut’ be not insisted on.” The effect of that, if carried, will be to protect Senator Smith, and enable the word “ or “ to be inserted between “Tumut” and “Bombala.”
– I should like to have your ruling, Mr. Chairman, as to whether these amendments are in order. This is a Bill to fix a certain place as the site of the Capital ;. it is not a Bill to name certain places, one of which may at some other time be chosen as the Capital. It appears to me that the amendments are altogether outside the scope of the Bill.
– The amendment which I have before me at present is certainly not out of order.
– If the motion to insist on our amendment be carried, I desire to move that the area shall extend to the River Murray and the River Murrumbidgee.
The CH AIRMAN. - That can be dealt with afterwards.
– I am strongly in favour of Bombala, and I advise all who are of the same mind to vote for the amendment which, if carried, will mean that in the opinion of the Senate the Federal Capital should be either at that place or at Tumut. I believe that six out of the eight Ministers are in favour of Bombala. and they will take it that the Senate is handing over to them the power to make a choice. I take it that the majority of the Ministers will select Bombala, and thus my end will be achieved in a round-about fashion.
– I do not altogether agree with the method which it is intended to adopt in putting the question.I have consistently voted in favour of Bombala, and now we are asked to vote on a question which will have the effect of retaining Tumut.
– That is with a view to insert other words.
– But suppose that after we have voted in favour of retaining Tumut, we find that there is not support sufficient to carry the proposal to insert the word “ or “ before “Bombala.” Under the circumstances the supporters of Bombala would look like a lot of fools - they would be badly “ sold.” If the Chairman looks at the matter from that point of view he may be able to devise some way which will place those honestly in favour of Bombala in a different position.
– A distinct difficulty will present itself if the amendment be carried. If we retain “ Tumut “ and insert “ Bombala,” or retain “Bombala” and insert “Tumut” - it does not matter which - and even if we put aside the amendment which Senator Pulsford has indicated, we shall further on be faced with the difficulty that in the Bill there are clauses about frontages which cannot apply to the whole of the sites.
– These clauses can be excised.
.- But what is the use of our passing motions to excise clauses when we know that those motions will not be accepted by another place. It would be infinitely better to take a division, and have done with the matter for the present session. There is not a member of either House who expects anything to come of the Federal Capital proposals this session : and it is merely beating the air to attempt an impossibility in the way proposed. If we have Bombala retained how can there be the frontages specified in the Bill ?
– Let those clauses be taken out.
– I have already said that the other House would not accept the excision, and to pass the amendment would be an empty demonstration, meaning nothing.
– It appears to me that we are discussing two rather different questions at the one time. Senator McGregor has raised the point as to the order in which the questions shall be put ; and I quite realize his difficulty as a supporter of Bombala. If the motion, as proposed by the AttorneyGeneral, be put, the Bombalaites will find themselves badly “ sold ; “ and that is hardly fair. The best method would be to put the amendments first, leaving the original proposition to the final vote, in case a final vote is necessary. Speaking generally, the representatives of New South Wales have revealed this afternoon a characteristic not hitherto observable. They seem to have a lurking suspicion, that if they can only stall off any action of a definite character, they have a chance of restoring Lyndhurst as one of the selected sites. I have been fighting all I know in order to satisfy their demand for some finality before this Parliament is dispersed. We have had continuous struggles in this and the other Chamber, and the fact stands unmistakably revealed, that the choice lies between two places, neither of which is Lyndhurst.
– Tumut was nearly “ out of it “ in the other House.
– The fact remains that Tumut was decided on on the first occasion in another place, and Lyndhurst had not a million to one chance in the Senate, Bombala being a long way ahead with almost two to one in its favour. On the second votein the other Chamber, Lyndhurst was “nowhere,” and Tumut won by nearly a two-to-one majority ; and that is how the matter stands now. Two votes in the other House and one vote in the Senate show distinctly that the contest is between Bombala and Tumut. So far as I understand, Senator Smith desires to comply with the demand of the New South
Wales people, that Parliament shall do something of a definite character.
– Is the amendment of a definite character 1
– It certainly is as definite as anything which could be done under present circumstances. The nine sites are whittled down to two.
– That has been done already.
– That has not been done. If we send back a message insisting on retaining Bombala the Bill will be dropped without any definite determination being arrived at. But if we accept Senator Smith’s amendment there will be an Act of Parliament - quite a different thing from a Bill which has been dropped - showing an agreement between the two Houses on two sites, as against the others rejected. There is a difference between our agreeing on accepting two sites, and rejecting the whole of the other sites, and our accepting no site at all and retaining the whole of the sites. An old Minister of the Crown like Senator Gould must know the difference between an Act of Parliament and a Bill that has been dropped ; and there is an essential difference between dropping the Bill and our accepting Senator Smith’s amendment, which as a Tumutite I intend to support. The course of making a definite choice this session has very great advantages which honorable senators ought not to overlook. One advantage is, that by selecting wo sites, we relieve the New South Wales Government of their obligations to the Commonwealth as to the seven other sites, in regard to which the State Government can carry on their ordinary transactions in lands. But if the Bill be dropped, the obligation of the New South Wales Government to keep the area open for selection bv the Commonwealth, will remain ; and such a position would be very unfair to the New South Wales people. I should like to draw Senator Millen’s attention to the fact that neither the Premier nor the leader of the Opposition in New South Wales are wedded to any particular site, but both are quite willing to leave the matter to the judgment of the Federal Parliament, the members of which have unmistakably said that there are only two sites possible of acceptance, namely Tumut and Bombala. There is no evidence to support the idea that there is any chance of Lyndhurst being reinstated. For their own sakes, and for the sake of their State and the Commonwealth, I ask the representatives of New South Wales to make up their minds definitely as to which of the two places selected they are prepared to accept as the Federal Capital site *1
– The honorable senator cannot make up his own mind, and yet he wants to bind the next Parliament.
– I certainly have made up my mind. In view, however, of the fact that the Houses do not agree, it is proposed to retain the two sites ; and in the meantime to obtain the fullest information to enable us to determine which is the better of the two, instead of going over the whole business from A to Z again, lt could be done at very little expense and in a short period, and honorable senators, when they had to choose one of two, would be able to come to a better decision than they would if they had to select one of nine, with all the conflicting interests of one kind and another. I would strongly urge honorable senators who desire to arrive at a settlement of this question, to vote for the amendment. The area of the Federal territory is a very big question between the contending parties in both Houses. I believe Senator Millen has said that we cannot come to a definite conclusion on that point without negotiating with the Government of New South Wales. But how can the Commonwealth Government negotiate with that Government unless we first determine on a particular locality in which to place the Federal Capital ? I submit that during the next few months the Commonwealth Government could negotiate with the State Government on that point, if it were definitely stated in the Act that the field of choice had been narrowed down to two places. In that case it would be no trouble to the State Government to give the Commonwealth Government an idea of how much territory it would be willing to cede, and the probable cost of land resumptions. But that information could not be given in respect of nine places. If honorable senators are anxious for the Federal Government to enter into negotiations at once with the State Government with a view to coming to a definite decision, they cannot do better than accept the amendment.
– In view of the objections which have been made, and the difficulties which may arise, I think that we should, and can simplify the matter. The plan 1 propose to adopt will not, perhaps, be the neatest, but it will afford a means to get a straight vote. The Attorney-General has asked the Committee not to insist on its amendment to omit “Tumut” and insert “Bombala,” If that motion were carried, it would deprive Senator Smith of an opportunity to move an amendment, but the Attorney-General has agreed to withdraw his motion. When it is withdrawn, Senator Smith can move to insert the words “ or Tumut “ after the word “ Bombala,” and on the question for the insertion of those words we can have a straight vote.
– I am just as anxious as any honorable senator that finality shall be arrived at ; but I cannot see how it can be reached under this proposal. It is perfectly true that, if the Senate determined to say “ Bombala or Tumut,” it would be an indication to the other House that it would be content with the selection of one site or the other. But in the next Parliament, when a choice had to be made between Tumut and Bombala, no honorable senator could be precluded from proposing any other place in lieu of Tumut or Bombala. If we were to pass the Bill in the proposed form, we should be virtually saying to the Government - “ We desire you to gather more information in regard to two sites.” But it has been asserted that full information has not yet been gathered in regard to all sites. Lyndhurst has been mentioned as the site for which unquestionably New South Wales members have shown a distinct preference.
– And they know most about it I should imagine.
– Whether Lyndhurst should be the site or not is a matter for the Parliament to determine. But why should we only instruct the Government to get further information in regard to Tumut and Bombala, and neglect all the other sites, when we know that there is a strong feeling amongst a section of Members of Parliament in favour of Lyndhurst ?
– Have not both Houses rejected Lyndhurst?
– Suppose that instead of adopting the suggestion of Senator Smith, we adhered to our choice of Bombala, and the other House adhered to its choice of Tumut. There would be no reason to prevent the Government from making further inquiries in regard to the merits of the places which are more popular than others. It would be very much more satisfactory to Members of Parliament generally if further inquiries were made in regard to Lyndhurst as well as in regard to Tumut and Bombala. Do not limit the inquiries of the Government to two sites, but give them an opportunity to inquire regarding a third site if they think that it is sufficiently good to be inquired about.
– Somebody might come along and suggest the addition of Dalgety.
– And of Albury.
– No action which may be taken in this Parliament will prevent a member of the next Parliament from proposing Albury or Dalgety as the site of the seat of government. Is it to be said that the inquiry made so far absolutely concludes the discussion of the merits or demerits of all sites other than Bombala and Tumut ?
– There are only two sites on which the Houses cannot agree.
.- Cannot the honorable senator see that when this matter comes up for consideration in the next Parliament it will be open to any one to propose another site in place of Bombala or Tumut ?
– If we were to fix upon one site, the same thing would apply.
– No. The probability is that the Government would approach the State Government and endeavour to make an arrangement to carry out the wish of this Parliament, and I take it that no very great difficulty would be experienced afterwards. Of course, some persons might be dissatisfied with the site chosen ; but they would be voted down, on the ground that in the previous Parliament the two Houses had decided on a site, and that the Government had carried out that decision. Why should not the Commonwealth Government be left in a position to make full inquiries in regard to the sites, and to say to the State Government - “ We desire to have an opportunity of taking an area of 1,000 square miles in whatever locality the Parliament may determine to place the seat of government”? The objection to the cession of 1,000 square miles would be as strong against Lyndhurst as against either Tumut or Bombala. Itismerely a matter of principle with the State authorities. The State Parliament can have no desire to say that it will grant only 100 square miles here, but 1,000 square miles there. Its desire is to leave the selection of the most suitable site to the Federal Parliament, and to decide afterwards what area of Crown land shall be granted. I take it that if the State Parliament is prepared to accede to our request for an area of 1,000 square miles, it will be given just as readily at Bombala as at Tumut, and just as readily at Tumut as at Lyndhurst, or any other site. Possibly some middle course may be adopted between the two Governments. But we should not register our inability to agree with the other House by passing a Bill which could have no binding effect, because it would not prevent the adoption of another- site if it commanded a majority of the votes in each House of the next Parliament.
– May I ask, sir, if you have finally disposed of the point of order raised by Senator Stewart? We are dealing with a Bill to determine the seat of government, and unless it determines that question it will be absolutely useless. I can understand the reason which induces Senator Smith to desire to insert the words “ or Bombala,” but I would point out to you, sir, that under the Constitution we have no power to pass a Bill to select two sites for the seat of government. Suppose that a similar Bill were submitted to the next Parliament. I presume that an honorable senator would be allowed to propose the insertion of another site. I hold that a dying Parliament has no constitutional power to pass a Bill saying that from one or two sites the seat of government must be chosen by its successor.
– Is the honorable and learned senator arguing against the ruling of the Chairman ?
– I desire to ascertain whether, if the Chairman has given a ruling, he will not reconsider the matter. Suppose that the amendment of Senator Smith were carried, would the choice of a site by the next Parliament be confined to a choice between Bombala and Tumut? I cannot see that it would ; because a dying Parliament has no right to determine that the seat of government shall be in one place or another
– I intimated to the Committee that, in my opinion, the amendment which is about to be proposed for the insertion after the word “ Bombala “ in the clause as amended by the Senate of the words “ or Tumut,” is a regular amendment.
The object of this Bill is to determine the seat of government of the Commonwealth, and clause 2 says -
It is hereby determined that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be at or near Tumut.
It is proposed by one honorable senator to amend the clause as returned to us by the House of Representatives by inserting after the word “Tumut” the words “or Bombala,” and another honorable senator desires to insert also the words “ or Lyndhurst.”
– That is not determining the seat of government.
– I think that the amendment will be in order.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Staniforth Smith) proposed -
That the Senate’s amendment to leave out “Tumut” and insert “Bombala,” be amended by inserting after the word ‘ ‘ Bombala “ the words “or Tumut.”
Senator WALKER (New South Wales).I have listened to the debate and have come to the conclusion that the better plan, if we do not wish delay to take place, is to accept the proposed amendments of Senators Smith and Pulsford. If the Bill were passed it would be distinctly declared that the value of the land would be its value as on the 1st January, 1903.
– Why does the honorable senator propose to put in Lyndhurst ?
– Because it is better to have three sites to choose from.
– And Armidale, too ?
– I know that certain honorable senators would like to see the settlement of this question postponed for all time.
– That is what the honorable senator is doing.
– I am not. If we do not pass this Bill the value of the land will rise against us. The measure will prevent more being paid for the land than it was worth on the 1st January, 1903.
– Nothing tha t can happen now will affect the value of the land last January.
– But if the Bill does not pass, the people will ask for the price of the land at its value in January, 1904. In the other House in the last division there were, including pairs, thirtynine members in favour of Tumut, and only twenty-five for Bombala. Of the thirty-nine supporters of Tumut twenty were not residents of New South Wales. That proves that Tumut is the favorite site with twenty members who have no direct interest in New South Wales. Therefore, it cannot be said that Tumut was merely the choice of the New South Wales representatives. I think we ought to adopt Senator Smith’s amendment, and also Senator Pulsford’s, so that when the Bill goes back to the other House we shall, at all events, know that there is no necessity to ask the New South Wales Government to reserve more than three sites, and shall have the assurance that the land will be acquired at its value as on the 1st January, 1903.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not dispute the ruling of the Chairman, but I will ask honorable senators to listen to the definition of the word “ determine,” as given by Chambers’s English Dictionary. Determine means -
To put terms or bounds to ; to limit, or fix, or settle the form ‘or character of ; to influence ; to put an end to ; to define ; to come to a decision ; to resolve.
Are we coming to a decision, or resolving upon the site for the seat of government of the Commonwealth, when we add the words “or Bombala”? As one of those who favour Lyndhurst as being a site fairer to Queensland, and as being more in keeping with the idea of establishing the seat of government of the Commonwealth somewhere about the centre where population will be in future, I hope that we shall have an opportunity when information is being sought regarding two sites to obtain information regarding Lyndhurst. We have lately been informed by the newspapers that certain residents in the Tumut district are prepared to submit two sites which are about 2,000 feet above the level of the sea, and which, in their opinion, are superior to the Lacmalac site.
– They said that if we wanted a site 1,500 feet above the sea level they were prepared to indicate two.
– If that be the case regarding Tumut we can surely imagine that the people in the Lyndhurst district may be able to indicate sites in their neighbourhood that may be well suited to be the seat of government of the Commonwealth. Senator Dawson has said that Lyndhurst is not in the running. I ask him to turn to Hansard for 8th October, page 5935. He will there see that in the first ballot Bombala secured 16 votes; Tumut, 14; Lyndhurst, 14;
Albury, 7 ; Armidale, 6 ; Lake George, 2 ; Orange, 2. On the second ballot, Lynd; hurst secured 21 votes; Bombala, 16; Tumut, 14; Albury, 5; Armidale, 2.
– The honorable senator is hardly in order in referring to Lyndhurst and giving details.
– lam simply indicating the position occupied by Tumut and Bombala in comparison with Lyndhurst, and showing why I supported Lyndhurst in preference to Bombala. In the third ballot Lyndhurst secured 23 votes ; Bombala, 17 ; and Tumut, 14. In the fourth ballot Lyndhurst secured 25 votes ; Bombala, 17 ; and Tumut, 17. So that if some of the Albury supporters had voted for Bombala, Tumut would not have been chosen. The contest would have been between Lyndhurst and Bombala. It must not be contended, therefore, that Tumut is, in the opinion of the members of the House of Representatives, so much superior to Lyndhurst as the Federal Capital site.
– Why did not the members of the House of Representatives insert Lyndhurst when the Bill went back to them ?
– If the honorable senator will turn to the particulars of the election of the Pope, he will see how calculations concerning elections are upset. On the ‘ first ballot the present Pope only secured five votes, but in the last ballot he secured fifty. If we had had the joint sitting of the two Houses, which was favoured by some honorable senators who support Bombala, Lyndhurst would undoubtedly have secured a majority. If we do not intend to make a selection this session, we ought not to endeavour to bind the next Parliament ; and, if information regarding Bombala and Tumut is asked for, the supporters of Lyndhurst have the same right to ask for further information in favour of that site.
-I am rather surprised to find a level-headed man like Senator Smith asking us to stultify ourselves by suggesting such an amendment as he has proposed. This is a Bill to determine the seat of government of the Commonwealth. Parliament has arrived at the position that it is unable to fix the seat of government. One House has selected one site and the other House another. Senator Smith proposes an amendment which is intended to bind the next Parliament to two sites. But if we cannot fix the site ourselves, why should we seek to impose conditions upon a future Parliament which will have to determine the matter ? I can understand Senator Dawson’s position. Ho wishes to narrow down the choice. He desires that every site shall be thrown overboard except Tumut and Bombala. If I cannot get Bombala I am not quite sure what site I shall vote for. I should not like to be bound down to Tumut. It is extremely probable that a better site than Tumut may be suggested. The most decent way out of the difficulty would be for honorable senators to vote straight. There is something crooked about this proposal. Senator Smith is usually straight and above boa’rd, but this amendment looks like the result of a combination between him and Senator Dawson to blot out all sites except Tumut and Bombala. It would be much better not to leave the way open for other sites to b’e suggested.
– What is the use of slinging a dead cat over the wall ?
– It is much safer to throw a dead cat over a wall than a live one. A live cat might scratch and bite, but a dead one could not. Honorable senators ought to vote straight either for Bombala or Tumut, and that is what I intend to do.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment to leave out “Tumut” and insert “Bombala “ be amended by inserting after the word “Bombala” the words “or Tumut” - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative. Motion negatived.
Motion (by Senator Drake) put -
That the Senate’s amendment to leave out “Tumut” and insert “Bombala” be not insisted on.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the Senate’s amendment to leave out all the words after “ miles,” line 6, be not insisted on, and that the amendment made by the House of Representatives thereon be agreed to.
We should not, I think, in dealing with what is a consequential amendment, assume that the amendments which we have already made are bound to be accepted.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - The Committee having agreed to stand by their previous determination, we shall reduce the whole thing to an absolute farce if we do not take the same course with respect to subsequent amendments.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators know the history of the trouble in connexion with the first Appropriation Bill. At the instigation partly of the Joint Committee of the two Houses, and partly of the House Committee of the Senate, the salaries of four of the Senate officers were increased. The House of Representatives struck out these increases, and when the Bill came to the Senate, it was returned to the House of Representatives with a request that the amounts be reinstated. In preference to reinstating the amounts, which might have given rise to discussion relating to constitutional points, it was thought advisable by the Government that the measure should be quietly laid aside, and another Appropriation Bill introduced. In the second Appropriation Bill the House of Representatives has given effect to the desire of the Senate as to the increased salaries. That is the only difference between the first Bill and the second.
– I do not propose to detain the House at any length, seeing that this Appropriation Bill is an old friend on new paper. But I think it undesirable that the matter should be allowed to pass without emphasizing in some way the position which the Senate has evidently determined to take up with regard to Bills of this character. Prior to the establishment of Federation, it was a muchdebated point as to what part the Senate would play in Commonwealth legislation, and widely different opinions were expressed. I wish to emphasize the fact that by the action it has taken in the present instance, and the action it has taken at other times, the Senate shows that it does not intend to take the position of a second Chamber as ordinarily understood in the States. I make these remarks because, in spite of all that has been said, there is a widely-spread impression outside that the Senate is only a sort of glorified Legislative Council. I think that the sooner the electors, in their individual capacity, and the States understand properly the functions of this Chamber, the better it will be for the working of future legislation.
– I am glad to find that the other Chamber has recognised, especially so far as the salaries of our own officers are concerned, that the Senate ought to be its own master. Whatever one House may determine in regard to the salaries of its servants should not be interfered with by the other House. If the House of Representatives fixes certain salaries for the officers there employed, we ought to be very chary of attempting to interfere, because the members of another place ought to be the better judges of what is a fair remuneration. On the other hand, whatever we may determine in regard to the salaries of our officers should be treated in exactly the same way by the House of Representatives. This, I am glad to say, has been recognised by the House of Representatives on the matter being brought under their notice. I should like, however, to know why it has been deemed necessary to introduce another Bill to deal with a matter of the kind, instead of returning the original Bill with our requests acceded to.
– It does not matter how we “get there,” so long as our requests are granted.
.- It is perfectly plain that under the Constitution we have the right to make such requests as we think fit in reference to Bills which we cannot amend. We recognise that this Appropriation Bill is a measure which we cannot amend; but we claim that we have the right to make requests which should be acceded to, if they are approved by the other House. The old fashion in regard to a Legislative Assembly and a Legislative Council with reference to amendments which were suggested by the latter, and which the former thought desirable, but which it was held that the Legislative Council had no right to make, was to adopt the very course which has been adopted on the present occasion - namely, to lay the Bill aside, and introduce another measure containing the requested amendments. In this way a Legislative Assembly held that they were initiating the Bill of their own suggestion, and not at the suggestion or at the request of the other Chamber. Unless there is some very good reason why it was necessary to lay the original Appropriation Bill aside, I do not regard the introduction of the new Bill containing the amendments as the victory which Senator Millen seems to think has been achieved. If the Legislative Council of Victoria, or the Legislative Council of New South Wales, had an Appropriation Bill before it, and it was thought that the Legislative Council’s servants ought to be paid a different remuneration to that provided, and the Council so amended the Bill, it would be laid aside and another submitted. In the House of Lords such amendments are made by writing them in red ink, and then a similar course is pursued. Whether we are to regard the introduction of a second Bill as a recognition of the right of the Senate to make amendments in a Bill of the kind-
– We. cannot make amendments in a Bill of the kind.
– Whether the second Bill is to be regarded as a recognition of our right to make requests in a Bill of the kind, I cannot say. Of course, there may be some very good reason for the course adopted. It has been suggested to me that possibly it was stated in another place that certain sums of money had been voted, and that it was necessary to make some amendment in order that the full amount could be dealt with in Committee. I am not prepared just now to say whether the end could have been gained without the introduction of another Bill. At any rate, I think we ought to have some explanation.
– The substantial fact is that we made requests which have been acceded to.
– What more can we do?
– I admit that we can do no more, except consider what our position is. The only thing we could do would be throw out the Bill, but I do not think we would be so foolish as to do that. It is all very well to say that the Bill gives us what we want ; but we ought to see whether we get what we want in a correct way. The position ought to be explained by the Minister in charge, or perhaps the President may be able to throw some light on the matter.
– I should like to draw attention to the fact that, although we have an entirely new Bill before us, honorable senators have not received copies. It is all very well for the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in that free and easy manner which distinguishes him, to say that the Bill before us merely deals with the difference which arose between the two Houses ; but, having listened to the debate in another Chamber, I can say that the suspicion of Senator Gould is justified. The new Bill does not deal simply with the difference between the two Houses. Another place agreed that the Speaker should continue to draw his salary after he has ceased to be a Member of Parliament, and it was necessary to introduce a new Bill to cover the appropriation. That fact was not explained by the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– I did not know of it - I never heard of it.
– If we had not insisted on our requests, the course of introducing a new Bill would not have been adopted.
– If there had been merely the difference between the two Houses to settle, we should have had the old Bill returned to us agreeing to our requests. As a matter of fact, we have a new Bill in order to cover an expenditure for which the necessary appropriation had not been made.
– Is the new Bill for a larger appropriation ?
– It is for a larger appropriation, of course, in order to validate the provision that the Speaker’s salary shall be drawn after the gentleman who at present occupies the position ceases to be a Member of Parliament. I think we ought to have some explanation of the procedure, the legality of which I question, as contrary to parliamentary practice.
– It must be obvious that, if the new Bill was introduced for the purpose which Senator Dawson states, the fact ought .to have been made quite clear to us. We ought not to have been informed that the new Bill is the same as the old Bill, if there is the difference which has been indicated. We know that Senator Playford would be the last man to knowingly mislead us, and we rely .on him to have this matter inquired into, and full information laid before us.
– Before we go any further, we ought to have copies of the Bill in order that we may examine it for ourselves.
– The Appropriation Bill on the files of honorable senators is the same as that now before us, with the exception of the four alterations and a footnote.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has admitted that he does not know what is in the Bill - that he did not know about the Speaker’s allowance.
– There is no additional allowance given to the Speaker, except by a foot-note. The Speaker has been given exactly the same allowance as that given to the President sf the Senate.
– I should like more information as to what is really in the Bill before we go any further, because, unless we know exactly where we are, it is foolish to proceed. I quite recognise that there must be something more than the matter of the messengers’ salaries. There would be no necessity to introduce a new Bill for such a trifling matter. Unless the Vice-President of the Executive Council is able to give a fuller explanation, and exhibit more acquaintance with the measure, I, for one, shall refuse to allow the question to go to a vote.
– I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to remind the Attorney-General of a promise he made when a certain motion was submitted some time ago. The motion was withdrawn in consequence of the honorable gentleman’s assurance that a statement in the Vice-Regal speech at the close of last session would not be repeated, namely, that one House alone should not be thanked for the grant of Supply. I wish to take advantage of this opportunity of reminding my honorable and learned friend of that promise which I am sure he will see is carried out.
– Hear, hear !
– I am in agreement with Senator Dawson, that the new Appropriation Bill contains a salary for the Speaker after he has ceased to be a member of the House.
– It is only a footnote which has been inserted.
– I was present in another place when a division was taken, and I can remember what the numbers were, so that I think I am not quite wrong in making reference to the matter by way of confirmation, not by way of argument. Unless there is some good reason for the introduction of a new Bill in place of the Bill in respect to which the Senate made certain requests, I think that we have nothing on which to congratulate ourselves as a Chamber, because, apparently, all that is happening is that the Senate is not being treated as a House of co-ordinate power, but simply as an Upper Chamber of the old nominee type. The process which has been adopted by the other House is identically the same as that which has been adopted time after time by the Legislative Assembly of a State in respect of a Bill which an Upper House had sought to amend. If it were not so late in the session, I should be quite prepared to make one to thrash out this thing to its logical conclusion, and to take nothing for granted, because I am one of those who think that, in working out a new Constitution, it is essential that the greatest care should be taken in the creation of precedents which will, as we know, have large after effects. Precedents guide all legislative bodies, and if we carelessly or thoughtlessly accept at the hands of the other House a position inferior to that to which we are entitled by the Constitution, then we shall make one of the most serious mistakes which, as a Chamber, it is possible for us to make. It is too late in the session, I suppose, for us to do more than allow this Bill to go, thereby setting up a precedent which will be quoted against us by-and-by. I regret that very much, but possibly there may be forthcoming an explanation that will show that the fears which Senator Gould has expressed, and which I am echoing, are groundless. Otherwise I think that we are allowing ourselves to be placed in a wrong position.
– I do not altogether share the views and apprehensions which have been expressed by Senators Neild and Gould. I do not see that we, as a Chamber, have anything to complain of. We made certain requests which at first were refused, but which are now granted, and we cannot ask for more from the other
House. It is an assertion of our constitutional right which was conceded many weeks ago in connexion with another Bill, namely, the right to make a request for an increased amount. What have we to complain about 1 It is true that we have a new Bill, but what could we do in regard to the old Bill which the other House did not choose to return ? The new Bill embodies the requests which we made, and surely nothing would justify us in going to the length of rejecting the Bill, because that is all that could be done in the circumstances.
– Does it contain anything else ?
– It does not vote another sixpence.
- Senator Playford has permitted me to see his copy of the Bill. It appears that the item “The Speaker, £1,100,” which appeared in the original Bill, appears in this Bill with this footnote -
If returned again to Parliament, salary, to continue, notwithstanding the dissolution, until the meeting of the new Parliament.
The footnote, I am told, appeared in the original Estimates. Although - perhaps by an oversight - Senator Playford did not happen to mention that fact, still that is not a thing of which we can complain.
– Surely it was not an oversight, because that is the real reason for the introduction of the new Bill.
– I do not know, but certainly that is not a matter of which we can complain, because all that is attempted to be done is to place the Speaker on exactly the same footing as the President.
– With this difference - that while the President remains a member of the Parliament, the Speaker does not.
– I am stating the practical’ monetary effect, and that is to place the Speaker on exactly the same footing as the President. I do not think that it lies in our mouth to make any complaint in this direction, because in our requests we urged that as a matter of parliamentary practice and as a matter of courtesy, we, as a Senate were entitled to manage our own affairs. We cannot now well go back upon that position and resent an attempt on the part of the other House to manage its affairs.
– We do not object to that.
– I do not say that we do object. What I mean to contend is that from the meritorious stand-point the Senate has no reason to complain, and while there may be the nominal alteration to which I have referred the other Chamber is simply claiming and exercising that right by way of courtesy which we ourselves asserted in regard to our four requests.
– The honorable and learned senator is not taking up the objection that a new Bill was unnecessary so far as our requests were concerned. All the other House had to deal with was our requests, and not to introduce a new Bill.
– My reply to that observation is that we have no power or control over the old Bill, and that we cannot object to the new Bill, because it embodies everything which we requested.
– We could order a search to be made for the old Bill.
– We could, but that would do no good ; it would not bring back the old Bill to this Chamber.
– The honorable and learned senator said that we had no power to do anything.
– I admit that we could order a search ; but that would not place us any further forward, and consequently to a large extent we are really beating the air. If the other House found it necessary to send up a new Bill in order to attach a footnote to an item, we have no substantial cause of complaint, and we might readily concede what they ask.
– If that was the cause for the introduction of the Bill, it was using a steam hammer to crack a nut. It was absolutely childish.
– While I regret very much that in another place there is a disposition by honorable members to shut their eyes to the fact that they are dealing with a Chamber which has far greater powers than a Legislative Council, we must give another place a certain amount of latitude because it is so largely composed of men who for many years have been running in that particular groove, and cannot get out of ifc; but I think that a few more lessons such as they received on the Tariff and on the other Appropriation Bill will waken them up to the fact that they are dealing with a Chamber which has far different powers from a Legislative Council. I hope that we are not going to be hypocritical, and to worry ourselves about how we have attained the particular objects which we had in view. When we requested certain amendments to be made in the Customs Tariff Bill, the other House did not make them with a good grace. It passed a resolution saying that it had made certain alterations ; but did not recognise our right to request the alterations, and that on some future occasion it would fight us over the matter.
– It did not put the Customs Tariff Bill on one side and insert a new Bill embodying our requests.
– No ; but it made a number of the alterations which we requested in the Tariff. In this Bill it has embodied our requests.
– Has it not done something else ?
– It has inserted a footnote in regard to the Speaker’s salary.
– We did not request that alteration.
– Some honorable senators were inclined to pass a resolution which would have given the other House the absolute right to insert the footnote. For is it not a fact that some honorable senators were prepared to send down with our request a message that we had the absolute right to deal with matters affecting our own House ? If they held that belief at that time, are they not prepared to concede to the other House that which they claimed for the Senate ?
– That is all the other House is asking at our hands by putting in this foot-note. I do not think that it was pointed out that we had not the power under the Constitution to send the message, and I take it that we have the power under the Constitution to request that that footnote, be left out. If we object to the footnote let us deal with it on its merits.
– We do not know anything about a footnote as we have not a copy of the Bill.
– We have heard from Senator Playford that a foot-note appears in the Bill, and I am prepared to take his word. It is true, he says, that there is no increase proposed in the amount for the Speaker’s office. If it is thought that we should interfere in the matter let some honorable senators propose a request for the omission of the foot-note, and so place a definite issue before the Senate. When we have got all that we asked for why should we cavil at the footnote if, apparently, no honorable senator is prepared to attack it on its merits.
– I am prepared to attack it on its merits.
– Seeing that we have obtained a substantial advantage ; seeing that again we have exercised our right to interfere in a constitutional way with a money Bill; seeing that the other House has practically admitted our right, although perhaps not in a way which suits all honorable senators, I submit that we should not now decry the exercise of the power which we claim to have in regard to Money Bills.
– I do not rise to discuss the constitutional question, which has been threshed out in a very heated way, but to bring another matter under the attention of Senator Playford. It will be remembered that when we were discussing the Appropriation Bill last week, I said that certain officers in Tasmania, particularly in the Post and Telegraph Departments, were not being treated in the same manner as regards payment for overtime as officers in other parts of the Commonwealth, and that Senator Playford said that I must have been misinformed, because he was advised that the” Tasmanian officials were being treated in exactly the same way as the other officials. My statement was that the officers in Tasmania, although entitled to be paid for all overtime since January last under the provisions of the Public Service Act, had not yet received any pay; that representations had been made by a Tasmanian senator to the Department a little while ago, and that the permanent head said that he could not understand it ; and that there was no reason why they should not have been paid overtime. Those officers, after being acquainted with that fact, made further representations to the Deputy Postmaster-General in Tasmania, who said that he had no authority to pay them. That was my statement. The VicePresident of the Executive Council seems to have made some mistake, because he was informed by the permanent head that the employes of the Post and Telegraph Department are treated precisely in the same manner as the employes elsewhere. I wish to tell the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he has been misinformed, because I have indisputable authority for saying that the officers in the Post and Telegraph Department in Tasmania - I am not sure as to those in the Customs and other transferred Departments - have not received any payment for overtime, whilst the officers in Victoria and New South Wales are being paid for Sunday work. I wish to have some assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council, before the Bill is passed, that he will look more closely into the matter, and will see that the grevience is remedied. I am sure that the honorable senator will be anxious to have the matter cleared up.
– I should like to say a word or two, as the matter which has been introduced is one which affects the privileges, position, powers, and prestige of the Senate. There has been a disagreement between the two Houses as to the provisions of the Appropriation Bill, which is the ordinary Appropriation Bill for the year. That Bill was sent back to the Senate by the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has not returned the measure, and, therefore, it is what is usually called a lost Bill. It is quite true that we might appoint a committee to inquire as to what has become of the Bill. But if we did that, and ascertained what had become of it, we should not get any further forward. The House of Representatives send to us another Bill, which, in substance gives us all we have asked for. What more can we want? lt is quite true that the House of Representatives have not given us what we wanted in the manner in which we asked for it, and, therefore, it may be said that this is a drawn battle. Undoubtedly, at some time or another, we shall have to settle this question between the two Houses, but it seems to me that just at the expiration of the present Parliament, when the House of Representatives is about to be dissolved, and the Senate is about to be partially dissolved, this i3 not a convenient time for fighting out the question. I take it that we have been met by the other House to a very great extent, and I recommend the Senate to accept the compromise which has been sent to us by the House of Representatives. This Senate is modelled upon the Senate of the United States. There is no doubt whatever about that, as any one can gather by reading the Constitution and the Convention debates, on which the Constitution was founded and framed. Under the American Constitution the United States Senate may propose or concur in amendments in any Bill for raising revenue as in any other Bill. It may not only alter Bills concerning expenditure, but may even initiate such Bills. I do not say that we are in exactly the same position as is the Senate of the United States, but in so far as this Senate is modelled upon that Senate, I say that we have the same powers as that Senate, and that we ought to go to that Senate for precedents, except so far as we are debarred from doing so by the provisions of the Constitution. It is altogether incorrect, as it seems to me, to say that we should go to the British Constitution to find out what are the powers of a Federal Senate. In this particular instance, however, we have obtained substantially what we asked for. We have established the proposition that, so far as the salaries of our officers are concerned, we are a House of co-ordinate jurisdiction, and that our salaries ought to be the same as the corresponding salaries in the other House. Having done so much, I think the Senate will be wise at this stage of the session to accept the compromise which is offered.
– Before the Vice-President of the Executive Council replies I should like to ask him if he will be good enough to say whether the Government has any objection to the proposed agreement with the Eastern Extension Company
– The honorable senator cannot introduce that matter now. We are engaged upon the second reading of the Bill. On the motion for the first reading he could have introduced it ; but, unless there is some item in the Bill which has reference to the Eastern Extension Company’s agreement, he cannot discuss it.
– There are several items in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department, and the agreement is a matter that concerns it. When I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question this afternoon he said that the Government were awaiting information from the Imperial authorities as to what subjects would be discussed at the Conference.
– What subjects they wished to have discussed.
– Is there any item in this Bill dealing with that matter?
– It affects the Post and Telegraph Department.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can discuss it at this stage.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council). - In answer to one or two criticisms that have been made, I desire to say that, so far as I know, it was the intention of the Government in the earlier part of the day to ask the House of Representatives to agree to the requests made by the Senate. But the Government altered their intention subsequently, in consequence of inquiries which they made amongst honorable members. They found that if they had attempted to do so there would have been a long, and possibly an acrimonious and troublesome discussion on the constitional question. So far as the Government are concerned, the Senate has no cause for complaint whatever. The Government have stood by the Senate all through. They have said that the Senate has a perfect right to make requests, and they have been prepared to ask the House of Representatives to agree to those requests. The Government have shown by their actions that they were determined to uphold what they believed to be the absolute constitutional rights of the Senate. But they were met by this position. This is the fag end of the session. Certain members in another place were prepared to raise the constitutional issue. That would have been an awkward position in which to place the Government and the House of Representatives at the present time, particularly in view of the fact that the other House has no Standing Orders, and has had to make its own precedents on the subject. If a long discussion had been occasioned it would have occupied considerable time, whereas by quietly shelving the original Appropriation Bill and re-introducing practically the same Bill containing the requests of the Senate, the Government were able to persuade the other House not to raise the constitutional aspect, but to leave it to be fought out another time. Now I will say a word about the footnote. If honorable senators turn to the Estimates of expenditure as originally laid on the table, and which also show the actual expenditure for 1902-3, they will see that this footnote is contained in them. But strange things sometimes occur in this world, and although the footnote j was contained in the Estimates, it was omitted from the original Appropriation Bill. If the footnote had been omitted from this Bill, Mr. Speaker would have been i in this position : He would have been per- : forming certain duties’ after the dissolution similar to duties the President was also I performing on behalf of the Senate, and for which the President was receiving his salary ; whereas Mr. Speaker would have been receiving no salary. It is a fair thing to place the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the same position as our President is in, and I am sure that the Senate will not disagree with it. With regard to the matter to which Senator O’Keefe has referred, and the answer which I gave him on a former occasion, I can only say that I told him what I was informed officially. I can assure him that I will make inquiries into the matter, and if it can be shown that the officers in the Post and Telegraph Department or any other Department in Tasmania are not treated in the same manner as are the officers on the mainland we will very soon rectify the error.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I .desire to say a few words about the famous footnote, but we have not copies of the Bill in our hands, and I do not know where my remarks ought to be made. It is a most unusual thing for a Minister to refer honorable senators to a Bill which they have not seen. Senator Pearce and a few others know exactly what the footnote means and all about it. There appear to be certain favoured senators. But there are others of us who know nothing about it.
– The footnote can be discussed under the heading of Parliament.
– It would only be fair for honorable senators to have an opportunity of considering it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £2,648,939).
– I findon looking through this Bill, amongst other items, an item of appropriation of loss payable by Victoria in respect to the Pacific Cable of £9,800, and inasmuch as clause 2 provides for the expenditure of several hundreds of thousands of pounds, this will perhaps be a convenient; opportunity for me to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question. I desire to get the fullest possible information from the Government regarding what they propose in connexion with the Cable Conference. When I asked the honorable senator whether there was to be only a limited number of subjects discussed at the Conference, such, for example, as terminal charges, the duplication of the Pacific Cable, and so forth, he replied that the Government were in communication with the authorities as to the subjects to be discussed at the Conference. I desire to know from him now whether the Government are offering any objection whatever to the discussion at the Conference of the proposed agreement with the Eastern Extension Company. I should like to know whether in their cables they have suggested at any time that the subjects to be discussed should not include that agreement. I should like to get an answer to the question, and if the honorable senator is not in a position to answer it now, I have no doubt that in five minutes he could get the necessary information from the Prime Minister.
– I cannot answer that question now, but I believe nothing of the sort has been done. I know that we are in negotiation with the other partners in the Pacific Cable with a view to fixing upon the various subjects to be discussed at the Conference. I should certainly say that the question whether we should enter into an arrangement with the rival company, which has been the cause of a good deal of discussion in the Senate, and in connnexion with which the Senate has not agreed to the proposal of the Government, should be one of the subjects for discussion. I am prepared to give Senator Higgs all the information I can, and I shall endeavour to get an answer for him before the Bill goes through.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 and First Schedule agreed to.
– In submitting the second schedule I propose to submit it in parts, according to the abstract.
– I have no wish to unnecessarily delay honorable senators. I see now the footnote to which reference has been made. I find that the Speaker’s salary is fixed at £1,100 a year, and there is a footnote to this effect -
And if returned again to Parliament, salary- to continue, notwithstanding the dissolution, until the meeting of the new Parliament.
I have an absolute objection to the principle contained in that footnote. I agree with honorable senators who are impatient to get away and anxious to end the session, that we cannot have a prolonged discussion at this late hour ; but this question involves a very important principle which we might very well spend some little time in discussing. I entirely disagree with the principle laid down in this proposition that we should pay the Speaker a salary after he ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives. I remind honorable senators that it is proposed to pay the salary contingent upon his re-election. If it were proposed to pay the salary to the Speaker, because he will continue to perform certain functions after he ceases to be a Member of Parliament, why make it contingent upon his re-election 1 Another argument I have heard in support of this proposition is that the President of the Senate will be paid his salary ; but it must not be forgotten that the President will remain a member of the Senate. I think that a good sound rule should apply all round, and a rule that applies to members of the House ought also to apply to officers of the House. I know very well that as soon as the proclamation is issued dissolving the House of Representatives the salaries of honorable members of that House will cease, and I see no reason in the wide world why the higher-salaried man should have his salary continued, especially when it is contingent upon his re-election. I hope that honorable senators will not allow a vicious principle of this kind to be established in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– On various occasions I have asked whether the regulations for the coming elections have been prepared, and when they will be ready for the inspection of honorable senators. It appears that they are not yet ready, or they
I are being carefully withheld from members
I of the Senate. Senator Playford. - I laid them upon i the table of the Senate to-day, and they are j published. 1 Senator STEWART. - How is it that honorable senators have not received copies of them 1
– They cannot be distributed immediately, but honorable senators will receive copies of them.
– There is a matter connected with the Department for Home Affairs, to which I desire to call the attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. It is a matter of very great importance to the. electors of the Commonwealth, and particularly to electors in some of the States. I find that, under section 32 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, it is provided that lists shall be prepared,and the preparation of those lists can be carried out without any necessity on the part of an elector to fill in any form. The lists are compiled simply from names collected. Under section 55 of the Act, provision is made for the methods by which electors’ may get their names upon the rolls. The first method by which an elector may get on the rolls is by filling in a claim, the second by transfer, and the third by the lists I refer to. I find that in Victoria, all those whose names have not appeared on the rolls when the original lists were exhibited, can get their names on the roll simply by sending them in, and having them listed by the returning officer or registrar to whom they are sent. But in the State of South Australia, a number of the returning officers will not put any one’s name on the rolls unless he fills in a claim, or sends in a transfer. They ought to recognise, and, if they do not do so they ought to be made to recognise, that under section 55 of the Act, up to the time of the holding of the first revision court, one of the means of putting electors’ names on the rolls is by the compilation of these lists. Those returning officers who decline to put names on the roll in this way should receive instructions at once to carry out the provision for lists until the meeting of the first revision court. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to see the Minister for Home Affairs, and put this matter before him, in order that no more humbugging of this description should be carried on in South Australia.
– I shall do so.
– I must add my protest to that of Senator Dawson in regard to the footnote introduced in this Bill.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Committee has passed that part of the schedule.
– Has the Vice-President of the Executive Council yet received a reply to the question I asked him ?
– I have not yet received a reply.
– The Bill will probably be through before the honorable senator receives the reply. I do not desire that there should be any disingenuousness in connexion with this matter. I have no doubt that there is none on the part of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. If this Conference is to be held, as the honorable senator admits, the proposed agreement with the Eastern Extension Company should form one of the subjects for discussion.
– I think it should.
– I look to the honorable senator to do his best to induce the Prime Minister to make no further opposition to the discussion of this matter by the Conference. I hope that honorable senators generally will keep in close touch with the proceedings of the Conference, and if they find that the Government prohibit the discussion of the proposed agreement with the Eastern Extension Company, they will determine to reject the agreement if it ever comes before the Senate again. The Conference was asked for, mainly for the purpose of discussing that agreement. I am very glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council takes the same view of the matter as I do myself, and I hope that, as an influential member of the Government, he will be able to remove any objections, which other Ministers may entertain to the discussion of this agreement at the Conference.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I desire to say one or two words in regard to a point which arose earlier in the evening. I find on reference to the Constitution that the section in regard to requests by the Senate is perfectly clear. It is as follows : -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
It is clear that there was no necessity whatever to introduce a new Bill to meet the requests or wishes of the Senate. It is equally clear there was no necessity to introduce a new Bill in order to put a footnote with regard to the payment of the salary of the Speaker. As to the footnote, it is a very grave question in my mind how far it can have any legality, seeing that it is not an enacting part of the law, but simply an explanatory note. As to whether or not the principle is a good one I do not pause to consider, beyond asking that if there are duties to be performed by a gentleman who has been holding the position of Speaker he ought to be paid ; but it is remarkable that if he should not be reelected, and he has to perform duties after Parliament has been dissolved, he will receive no remuneration. So far as I can see there will be no work for the holder of the office to do. I want to emphasize the fact that under the Constitution there was no necessity whatever for the course which the Government have adopted. There must, however, be some reason ; and .we can only consider that the course was taken in view of the fact that certain honorable members were inclined to deny the right of the Senate to interfere with the Appropriation Bill in any way. One remark was made that this was not a convenient time, on the eve of the prorogation, to discuss the matter. But there never will be a convenient time so far as the Appropriation Bill is concerned, because that Bill is invariably the last with which the Senate has to deal. I deprecate the discussion of the matter being put aside on such aground.
– It does not matter, so long as we get what we want.
– We do not want our request granted as a matter of grace, but as a matter of right under the Constitution. I recognise that the Government having’ laid the original Bill aside, a search would be of no avail. We have to deal with the Bill before us, and the present position only emphasizes the fact that on all occasions there ought to be a careful observance of the rights of the Senate - rights which will not be observed unless we insist on them from time to time, when we think they are being interfered with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 2 o’clock to-morrow.
Coloured Labour on Mail Steamers.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I rise to make what is somewhat in the nature of a personal explanation. It is an explanation which may, perhaps, clear away a misapprehension from the minds of honorable senators, and remove an idea which has been engendered in the public mind by the press in regard to a very important question. Some time ago a correspondence took place between the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Chamberlain, and the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, as to the cessation of the mail contracts and the calling for new tenders, containing a condition that no coloured labour should be employed on mail steamers. The press of Australia, in criticising the action of Sir Edmund Barton, drew attention to the fact that a Royal Commission in England had reported in favour of the employment of Iascar seamen, and stated, amongst other things, that several members of the House of Commons, including labour members, had indorsed that report. The name of Mr. Havelock Wilson, Secretary of the Seamen’s Union in England, was mentioned as being amongst those who had indorsed the employment of lascars ; and I wrote to that gentleman on the subject.
– The following is Mr. Havelock Wilson’s reply to my letter : -
I am much obliged to you for your letter of August 6th, calling my attention to certain paragraphs which have appeared in Australian papers, to the effect that I, as representing the seamen of England, am opposed to the legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, which seeks to prohibit the employment of cheap coloured labour on vessels carrying the mails between this country and Australia. You can repudiate such statements, as they are untrue in every particular. I was a member of a Committee appointed by the Government to inquire into the increasing number of lascars and aliens employed on British ships, and if 3”ou will read the evidence of the Commission, which I am sending by this mail, you will note that the whole of my evidence and also my crossexamination of witnesses, goes to prove that I was very much opposed to the emploj’ment of lascars, not because they were lascars, but because those men were being emploj’ed by unscrupulous shipping companies, to oust the white seamen, and generally lower the standard of living of the men who are natives of this country.
– Humbug ! Nonsense !
– The letter continues -
One reason why I oppose the lascars is that their employment lias prevented the Legislatureof this country making it compulsory for eveiy seaman emploj’ed on a British ship to have at least 120 cubic feet of space. Our present Merchant Shipping Act provides that every seaman on a British ship shall have 72 cubic feet of space. Royal Commissions have recommended Parliament to increase this to 120 feet, but in consequence of the opposition from the P. and 0. Company, and other large companies carrying lascars. the Government have been afraid to legislate.
– That is the word used. The letter proceeds -
As 3’ou are no doubt aware, two liiscars have to be emploj’ed in the place of one white man, and if the Government were to legislate in the direction of the Royal Commission’s report, it would be impossible for the shipping companies to cax-ry the lascars if the3’ had to give each one of them 120 cubic feet of space. Only recently I had a big fight ‘to get the Government to compel the companies carrying lascars to give the 72 cubic feet as provided b3’ the present Merchant Shipping Act. With regard to wages, lascars are paid from 16s. to 24s. per month. So that if two lascars are employed, 3’ou will note that their wages would only amount to half of what a white seaman would receive. Their food costs about 4d. per day.Another reasonwhy shipowners favour their employment is that in the event of those men being injured, seldom, if ever, do those men seek compensation for injuries, and we are now seeking to have the Workmen’s Compensation Actextendedtoseamen. Theship-owners who employ lascars are opposing our Bill unless we agree to the lascars being excluded from the scope of the Bill. If such were agreed to, it would mean that almost every ship-owner would resort to the employment of lascars in order to avoid the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. It is strange that the ship-owner who is demanding the right to employ lascars should take up this attitude, as they say the lascars are our fellow British subjects, and that it would be unpatriotic on our part to deny them employment. If this is so, then why do they object to those British subjects having the benefit of legis- , lation to improve, first of all, the places in which they have to live and sleep, and why deny these poor men compensation when injured in the service of the ship-owner? I might here mention that one of the gentlemen who gave evidence before the Commission, a former medical officer of health for the port of London, stated in bis evidence that as lascars were physically inferior to the European, they required more accommodation than the white man. Large numbers of the natives die from pneumonia, and in the opinion of medical men it is due to the want of proper and sufficient air space in the forecastles occupied 03’ those men. Myself and the seamen of this county have opposed for years the employment of the lascar, but we have fought it on these lines: Give the lascar the same accommodation as the white man, pay him the same wages, and we shall raise no objection. My evidence given before the Commission, and my cross-examination of the witnesses clearly set forth my views and those I represent. The lascar question in this country is serious. Theyare increasing at the rate of thousands every year. At one time they were chiefly employed in mail boats in the Indian trade, now they are employed on cargo vessels and in ships trading to all parts of the world. Whilst this goes on, thousands of our best seamen are unable to obtain employment.
– That is not the case. The statement is absolutely contradicted by the report which I read.
We sincerety trust that the Federal Parliament of Australia will insist on the employment of white men on all mail boats or vessels doing Government work. It is perfectty true that I signed the report, but not recommending lascars.
– Something very like it.
– The letter concludes - 1 threatened to bring in a minority report, but did not do so, as theship-owners agreed to certain recommendations in favour of our men.
I am, yours very faithfully,
I do not wish to make further comment than to say that this is one of the labour representatives whom Senator Dobson described as being in favour of the employment of lascars. Senator Dobson did not read the whole of the report, but only certain paragraphs, and I read this letter in order to justify Mr. Havelock Wilson in the eyes of the people of Australia. The letter clearly show.? that- Mr. Wilson does not favour the employment of lascars, but upholds the legislation passed by this Parliament.
– It was very astute of Senator Pearce to take advantage of this opportunity to anticipate a Bill on the notice-paper, and to succeed by a side-wind in bringing this letter under the notice of honorable senators. In my humble judgment, the letter is not worth the paper on which it is written. I read the report of the Committee of the House of Commons and the Board of Trade, and two members of the Committee out of the nine who signed the report were representatives of labour. Those men heard the evidence, and took part in the preparation of the report, which they signed, and that report went to show that British seamen could not be obtained.
– Is Senator Dobson in favour of giving the Iascar the same accommodation as is given to the British seamen t
– I am not dealing with that point now. The report went on to show that it was much better to employ our British fellow subjects, the lascars, than to employ foreigners. I point out to my friends of the Labour Party that Mr. Havelock Wilson and Mr. Burt, two well-known leaders of labour, signed the report; yet Senator Pearce thinks that a letter which absolutely contradicts the whole purport of the report is to be accepted as evidence.
– Mr. Havelock Wilson’s evidence contradicts what Senator Dobson said.
– Then why did Mr. Havelock Wilson sign the report ? Senator Pearce may talk until he is black in the face, but he has no right to ask a legislative body to accept a letter written behind the back of the Committee, to whose report I alluded. That Committee consisted of those who were considered to be the best men of the 700 members of the British Parliament, and yet Mr. Havelock Wilson tries to go behind the report which he signed. I am ashamed that Senator Pearce should bring forward such evidence, and by means of this letter try to undo what Mr. Havelock Wilson said when he signed the report.
– I wish to take advantage of this, perhaps the last opportunity of the session, to emphasize again the desirableness of the Government taking some action in connexion with the acquisition of the cable between Tasmania and the mainland. The Senate in its first session passed a resolution affirming the desirableness of the cable being owned by the Commonwealth, but since the affirmation of that principle, so far as I can ascertain, no definite business-like step has been taken by the Government. No doubt when the Pacific Cable Conference meets, the Govern- i ment will take into consideration the status I and position of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company so far as concerns communication between Australia and the outside world, and in dealing with that company, which has so long enjoyed a monopoly of means of communication between this country and Europe, the Government should be able to come to some very reasonable terms for the acquisition of this cable, which no doubt should properly belong to the Commonwealth. I know that it has been pointed out in some quarters that there is no necessity for us to hasten in this matter, for the simple reason that with the march of science it is quite possible that, in the early future, submarine telegraphy will be superseded by overhead telegraphy. But I would point out to the AttorneyGeneral that the agreement in force between the Eastern Extension Company and the Government of Tasmania has seven years or more to run, and that during its operation that State is liable to pay the Company the definite subsidy of £4,200 a year, and has to guarantee to the company a message receipt revenue of £5,600 a year. So that if to-morrow the Commonwealth authorities, in the exercise of a power which they may have, were to establish a Marconi system of telegraphy between Tasmania and the mainland that State would be still liable to the company to pay the definite subsidy of £4,200 a year, and to make up the message receipt revenue to £5,600 a year. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will impress upon his colleagues, and particularly the Postmaster-General, the absolute necessity, in fairness to Tasmania, of taking advantage of the opportunity that will be presented in the immediate future to come to some terms with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company which will enable the Commonwealth authorities to acquire this cable on terms which will be much more reasonable than those contained in the bond, and which will be advantageous to the people of the Commonwealth as a whole, and not merely to the people of Tasmania. By so doing they will place the people of Tasmania, so far as telegraph communication is concerned, in no position of advantage, but merely in a position corresponding to that which is occupied by the people of other States, and to which they are entitled by every plain canon of justice as members I of a community entitled to obtain equal
I conditions with the people of the other
States in the Federation. I hope the honorable and learned gentleman will impress the urgency of this matter upon his colleagues, and see that the resolution of the Senate is given practical effect to, and that very soon after the termination of the first Parliament, and before the meeting of the second Parliament, if possible, the line of cable communication between this one ocean State and the mainland States will be the property of the people of the Commonwealth.
– I shall communicate the honorable and learned senator’s views to my colleagues.
– It looks as if we were not to have another opportunity this session to say anything further in regard to the Federal Capital site. I hope that during the recess the Ministry will take such steps that one of the very first proposals to be brought before the new Parliament will be a proposal for the settlement of that question. I trust that at that time the evidence will be so pronounced in favour of one of the sites that the Ministry will see their way to make the - settlement of this question one on which they will stand or fall. Otherwise, judging by what has taken place, I fear many years will elapse before we shall see the provision in the Constitution Act fully carried out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19031021_senate_1_17/>.