2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair, at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government consider the advisability, for the purpose of the proper administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, of -
Fixing one port in each State as the only port at which Asiatics may apply for permission to land?
Appointing an officer or officers in each State specially charged with the administration of the said Act?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The- answers to the honorable senator’s questions are .as fol-low : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If it is the intention of Ministers to introduce a Bill to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act by compelling each elector, unless reasonable excuse be shown, to exercise at every election his right to vote, arid also to remedy and supply such defects and omissions as the practical working of such Act has proved to exist therein?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows ; -
It is proposed to introduce an amendment’ to the’ Electoral Act. But the details of the measure have not yet been settled.
What action has been taken to give effect to the resolution of the Senate, unanimously adopted, on the and September, -.1903, on the motion of Senator Neild, viz; : - “ 1. That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable that a system of old-age pensions be established by and ^throughout the Common’ wealth.
That the Government of the Commonwealth be requested to enter into negotiations with the Governments of the States constituting the Commonwealth with a view .to giving effect to the foregoing proposal.”
– The following is the answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Treasurer; in his Memorandum to the Treasurers of the States, at the Conference held in January last, called their attention to’ the fact that the transfer, by arrangement, of the payment of old-age pensions from the States to the Commonwealth would soon become a practical and pressing question (page 127). *
The Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the present Session stated that - - “4. The readjustment of Federal and State finances ‘contemplated in such an arrangement will, it is hoped, present tin opportunity for the adoption of an uniform system of old-age pensions throughout the Commonwealth.”
It is hoped that the adjourned Conference, to meet at the close of this month, will mark a further step towards the attainment of this end.
– Before the . business of the day is called on I think that in fairness to the officers of the Senate I should make a statement in reference to a matter which was brought forward yesterday by Senator Neild. The complaint was that a certain paper was not available.
-Col. Neild. - Pardon me, sir, the complaint was not against the officers of the Senate:
– I wish to explain the position, and to show that no one’ is to blame in this matter. The Military Regulations were laid on the table, but the Senate did not order the paper to be printed. Neither House had ordered the paper to be printed, consequently it was not a parliamentary paper in the full sense of the term. It is true that the document is in the possession of the Senate, but no order was made to have it printed, and under those circumstances it could not be circulated by the officers. When a paper is laid on the table any honorable senator can move that it be printed, or he can at any time give notice of motion that the document be printed. Neither of these courses was adopted, and, therefore, there was no obligation, in fact no power in the officers to send the document to honorable senators. I understand that it is an exceedingly voluminous one, and the probability is that the Minister by whom it was laid on the table did not feel justified in moving that it be printed, because of the cost.
– It was already in print.
– It is true that it was in print, but it was in print at the expense and by the authority of the Defence Department ; and I presume that only a sufficient number of copies for their use had been printed. If Senator Neild desired to have this document printed and circulated, he ought to have asked the Minister to submit a motion or to have moved that it be printed. I do not think that any blame is attachable to any one. I make this statement so that, in future, honorable senators who desire a document on which they intend to take action,- to be in the hands of every honorable senator, may know that there is an order of the Senate that a paper must be ordered to be printed, otherwise it will not be circulated. If it is ordered to be printed, it will be circulated, as a matter of course, amongst honorable senators.
– I think that when any regulations which honorable senators have the right to question, are laid on the table, it should be taken as a matter of course, that the paper is to be printed and circulated.
– I do not think this ought to be done, unless it is ordered by the Senate.
– Honorable senators have the right to object to any provision in these regulations, and I think that, a.s a matter of course, they ought to be circulated. Considering that all regulations under Acts of Parliament have to be printed and circulated in the Gazette, it should be an understood rule, without any motion being made, that, whenever regulations under an Act of Parliament are laid on the table, they should be circulated in print among honorable- senators. If that be an understood rule in the future, we need not have any trouble on the subject.
– But we do not get the Gasette.
– The regulations are in type, and all that it is necessary to do is to strike off a few extra copies for the use of honorable senators. I think that in future, sir, you can take it upon yourself to order that copies of any regulations laid on the table by Ministers, which are invariably .in print, should be circulated.
– I ask leave of the Senate to move, without notice -
That the regulations in question be printed. The PRESIDENT. - I do not think that the honorable senator can take that course. The Standing Orders provide that whenever a paper is laid on the table any honorable senator can move that it be printed, and that if he does not move the motion on that occasion he must give notice. In reference to the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, my position ought to be made clear. I do not think that I have the authority or the right to order that a document, which might involve very large expense, be printed and circulated. The leader of the Government should take that responsibility, as he generally does, when he lays the document on the table. I do not think that it ought to be devolved upon me.
.- May I be permitted to point out, sir, that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council did lay this paper upon the table, some honorable senators asked that there should be a motion made for its being printed.
– I asked on one occasion, and the President said it was not necessary to make a motion.
– Senator Playford, I think, said that it would be dealt with by the Printing Committee.
– The Printing Committee can only make a recommendation.
– In view of certain business which will come1 before the Senate in an hour’s time, I. would ask that the regulations in question be circulated amongst honorable senators.
– I am informed by the Clerk that he has communicated with the Government ‘Printer, and that if he can get copies of the regulations they will be circulated ; but honorable senators will see that if they wish -any papers to be printed they ought to take action at the time.
– The object which we’ have in view is to provide honorable senators with copies of these regulations, and as the President seems to think that it would be better for the Minister who lays any regulations on the table to move that they be printed, with the understanding that it shall not involve the resetting of the type, I shall take care in. future that that course is. adopted.
– May I be permitted, sir, to suggest that if an important set “Of regulations, or any important document, is laid upon the table in compliance with an Act of Parliament, and it has not been ordered to be printed, it ought to be available to any honorable senators during the period within which objection mav be taken to it.
– So it is. .
– In this case it appears that the document was sent to the printer, and was not accessible to the honorable senator who wished to take exception to some of the regulations.
– Oh, no.
– If in the future a document is to be available to an honorable senator I do not think that we need ask the leader of the Government to incur the unnecessary and unwarranted expense of having it printed.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper: -
Transfer of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council, under the Audit Act.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Senator Staniforth Smith) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Matheson on. account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild) agreed to -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate copies of the parade states of the following reviews of the New South Wales Military Forces of the Commonwealth, viz. : -
Royal Review, 28th May, 1901
Coronation Review, 9th August, T902.
Japanese Squadron Review, 6th June, 1903.
King’s Birthday Review, 9th November, 1903.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing in detail the several amounts annually payable by the Commonwealth Government (as t:new expenditure”) by way of rent in respect of premises occupied by the various Departments of the Commonwealth Government in aid about Melbourne.
– I move -
That Senator Best be appointed a member of the Standing Orders Committee.
If honorable senators look at the Standing Orders they will see that it is provided that the Chairman of Committees shall be one of the members of the Standing Orders Committee. Senator Higgs has been elected Chairman of Committees, and we require to appoint another member of the Standing Orders Committee. It is for that reason that I propose the election of Senator Best.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for anAct relating to fraudulent marks on merchandise.
Bill presented, and read a first time
– I move -
That an Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, praying His Excellency that, on all occasions when opening, or proroguing Parliament, due recognition shall, be made of the constitutional fact that the providing of revenue and the grant of supply is the joint act of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and not of the House of Representatives alone.
In submitting this motion, I desire to say that as the Senate now consists to some considerable extent of those who were not ‘ members of it in the last session of Parliament, I think it proper that in. as brief a form as. possible I should recount the proceedings that have led to my taking this action, in order that the matter may be- placed upon our records. I ask honorable senators who were members of the Senate in the last Parliament to recollect that on the 13th June, 1901 the Senate received from the House of Representatives the first Bill sent to this Chamber from the co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. It was a Bill professing to grant the sum of ^491,882 to His Majesty. The preamble of that Bill read as follows: -
Most Gracious Sovereign, - We, your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of
Representatives, in Parliament assembled, towards making good the supply which we have cheerfully granted to your Majesty in this session of Parliament, have resolved to grant to your Majesty the sum hereinafter mentioned. Therefore, be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, and the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows.
That was the first Bill that was ever dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament; and I beg to remind honorable senators that, after it was read a first time, exception was taken to it on account of its preamble, and for- other reasons. The second reading was postponed until the next day. When the Senate met on the following day - that is, on the 14th June - I gave notice of motion as follows : -
That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to request the amendment of the preamble by the omission of all the words except the following : “ Be it enacted by the King’s Mo3t Excellent Majesty, and the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, as follows.”
The effect of that motion was to remove all the words which set out that the other Chamber had granted supplies, and that we, the Senate, had nothing to do but concur. I think that, at that time, reference was made by the then Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator O’Connor), to an American story of the “ Colonel and the Coon.” He related how the coon said - “ Don’t shoot, colonel, I’ll come down,” and there was a kind of suggestion that, if I did not shoot, the Government would come down. The Bill disappeared. It not only disappeared from this Chamber, but elsewhere also. A new Bill was brought into another place, and eventually was sent up to the Senate, containing this preamble -
For the purpose of appropriating the grant made by the House of Representatives.
When that Bill reached the Senate, I, on the 19th June, with the support of almost every member of this Chamber - if not with the unanimous support of the Senate - moved at once for an instruction to the Committee that this form of preamble should disappear also. And it did disappear. My motion was carried. The instruction was .given to the Committee; the Committee agreed to request the change; and if the change was not made in exactly the words that this Chamber requested, it was made substantially. On the 21st June the new Bill was sent by the House of Representatives to the Senate, with the preamble and enacting clause altered as follows : -
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, and the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, for the purpose of appropriating the grant originated by the House of Representatives, as follow*
We felt, I think, satisfied that the obligation of the Constitution had been sufficiently acknowledged in that phraseology, and we did not take the matter any further. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact - if it be necessary that I should remind them of it - that, except in regard to the origination of money Bills of a certain class, this Chamber has equal rights of jurisdiction and legislation with another place. It is a mere matter of convenience, that the Constitution provides that money Bills shall originate in another place. But the right of origination does not give any excess of legislative authority to another place over the authority enjoyed by this Chamber ; and when the House of Representatives, having altered its . Bill three times, sent it up again to the Senate in the form which I have described, the then PostmasterGeneral - now the Attorney-General - submitted a motion which was seconded by myself, accepting the third proposition as a “ happy issue out of all our afflictions.” The Bill was passed in that form, and from that day to this every money Bill for granting supplies to the Crown has come to this Chamber in that particular form, recognising the equal rights of this House to join in the grant of supply. It will be remembered that in the closing speech of the first session of the last Parliament, the GovernorGeneral specially thanked the House of Representatives in the following terms for the grant of supply -
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, - I thank you in the name of His Majesty for the liberal supplies that you have voted.
– It is the old form.
– But we have a new Constitution.
– The interjection of my honorable friend, Senator Millen, hits the point. It was the old form applied to a new Constitution. I remind honorable senators of the fact that there is somewhere in a book which is much es’teemed by the majority of civilised people a very appropriate reference to putting new wine into old bottles. The Ministry have been trying to put a new Constitution into old formulas. I suggest that a new Constitution requires new forms, and not oldfashioned ones that -do not fit the circumstances of the case. At the commencement of last session - that is, the second session of the last Parliament - when the Senate met, I moved for an address in the following terms : -
That an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, praying His Excellency that on all occasions when proroguing Parliament, in acknowledging the grant of supply, due recognition shall be made of the constitutional fact that the said grant is the joint act of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and not the House of Representatives alone.
There was a debate upon that motion, and the Attorney-General promised - like a little boy who was going to get a spanking for misbehaviour - that if I let the Government oft’ this time they would “ never do it again.” I took that assurance with absolute trust, and I quite believe that, so far as his memory served, the Attorney-General was perfectly faithful to that promise, and did not intend that it should occur again. But unfortunately it did occur again.
– Oh, no !
– Did the honorable senator spank the Attorney-General?
– I am doing it now.
– Whatever was asked for was done.
– At the opening of the present session of Parliament the Vice-Regal Speech contained these words - and it is to these words that I take exception -
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, -
A special indication that the matter about to be alluded to had nothing to do with this Chamber. r3. The revenue derived from Customs and Excise has been equal to anticipations. As the incidence of duties under the Tariff contemplates the substitution of Australian for imported goods, no considerable expansion of such receipts under normal conditions is to be expected.
Evidently it is only to be anticipated under drought conditions.
Those two paragraphs addressed to the House of Representatives indicated in the plainest manner that English words can that the. grant of supply and the receipt of revenue was the sole business of the other Chamber, with which we the Senate had no part. Yet that address was absolutely delivered .within these walls. My honorable friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in one of the many speeches which he delivered on the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply - because I find that the honorable senator made more than one speech - when he had exhausted himself in his main speech he seemed to think df something else, and delivered himself of further opinions on the motion for the adjournment, and on Ministerial explanations. In one of his many death-bed repentance utterances, if I may so describe them, delivered on the 10th March, he quoted a portion of the Vice-Regal Speech. If I may say so without offence, the matter was misrepresented by him, inasmuch as he said that my objection was all based on the use of the word “ your “ to the other Chamber. But that was not the real ground of my objection. . It was not the mere use of the word “ your “ that led me to take action. It was the fact that these references to supply and to revenue were addressed to the House of Representatives only, and not to this branch pf the Legislature also. The honorable senator omitted to mention the fact that every word in the Vice-Regal Speech in which there was a reference to revenue and expenditure, was addressed to the other Chamber alone, and that no part or lot of any reference to the grant of supply or the raising of revenue made the slightest allusion to this Chamber. It is for that reason that I move this motion. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, in his kindly semi-jocular manner, said that he was really very sorry, and that if he had only remembered the matter at the Cabinet meeting what I complained of would not have happened. He said that the matter was overlooked, and so on and so on. But the failure to do something is not always a satisfactory excuse where important issues of this kind are involved. If it were a. mere personal matter between the honorable senator and myself, or affecting any other member of the Senate, there would be nothing in it. But, as has been very properly said by way of interjection by Senator Millen, we have a new Constitution, and I am quite sure that you, Mr. President, will indorse the sentiment that in the early action that is taken under a new Constitution the greatest attention and care must necessarily be given to the forming of precedents. I therefore appeal to honorable senators to’ agree with me that we should, in appropriate phraseology, indicate to the Governor-General who is the representative of His Majesty, and as such, is practically a part of our Parliament, that we take exception to the phraseology of his speech. Honorable senators will recollect that Parliament consists of the Monarch and the two Chambers of the Legislature and the Governor-General, as the representative of the Monarch, is practically a part of our Parliament. It is therefore appropriate that he should become acquainted with the wishes of this Chamber in reference to so important a matter, and that he should not run the risk of being led astray through the forgetfulness of Ministers. I submit that my motion is appropriately, and temperately worded. It merely refers to the position which this Chamber occupies under our Constitution. I may further say that I have no intention to withdraw the motion on this occasion. I say that, not because I think there was a breach of faith after I took action previously; but merely a matter of forgetfulness.
– There was nothing like a breach of faith.
– I shall be pleased to hear what the honorable and learned senator has to say on the subject, when he . replies to me. I am quite sure that the majority of the Senate will vote for the motion. I have no intention of withdrawing it as I did before, because I think the time has arrived when our opinion should be put on record, and not be a mere question of some Minister’s lapse of memory. Therefore I beg with some diffidence, but with the hope that the motion will be unanimously agreed to, to submit it to the Senate.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I beg to second the motion.
– The honorable senator who has submitted this motion to the Senate, has assumed the position of an exceedingly watchful - I will not say dog in this matter ; he has evidently been extremely watchful concerning the privileges of the Senate, on this, and other occasions. I entirely agree with all that he has said with regard to the constitutional position. The matter naturally divides itself into three particulars. First there is the question of the form of the preamble of money Bills; secondly there is the form of the Governor-General’s Speech in proroguing Parliament ; and, thirdly, there is the form of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech in opening Parliament
Senator Neild had to admit . that the mistake made in the first instance had been rectified on every succeeding occasion ; so that that matter may be regarded as settled. The honorable senator cannot say that the Government have in any way departed from the promise they made, because in every money Bill introduced since, the preamble has been altered in such a way as to meet with his perfect approval. There remains the point on which Senator Neild rather unfairly taxes my colleague with having broken faith.
-“ Breach of faith “ were the words used by the honorable senator.
- Senator Neild said that it wasnot a breach of faith, but a lapse of memory.
– That is so.
– The words I mentioned must have been used, because my colleague ejaculated that there had been no breach of faith.
– I said nothing of the kind. Senator Playford has already been corrected by yourself, sir, and he ought not to repeat his statement.
– Whether Senator Neild did, or did not, intend to make such a charge, I know that my honorable colleague understood him to do so; at all events, my colleague was not likely to deny that there had been a breach of faith unless something in the nature of such a charge had been said. However, it is probable that the charge was made unintentionally, and may be regarded in the same light as the little lapses of memory which we all now and then have to acknowledge. In regard to the prorogation of Parliament, my colleague understood that the words objected to would not again appear in His Excellency’s speech, and that promise has been carried out clearly and unmistakably. I now come to the last phase of the question. In paragraphs 13 and 14 of the opening speech of His Excellency, no reference was made to the Senate, the whole credit for the grant of supply being given to the other branch of the Legislature. On a former occasion I pointed out how that had occurred through absolute inadvertence, and in this connexion I cannot do better than read the remarks which I made when I distinctly promised that a similar reference should not again appear. As leader of the Senate, whose duty it is to guard the privileges of this Chamber, I am willing to acknowledge the mistake, and take a certain amount of blame for the appearance of those words. On the 10th March last, in submitting a motion relating to the order of business, I made reference to this matter in the following words: -
In making this motion I may perhaps be permitted to make a few remarks upon a question to which I omitted to refer when speaking on the Address in Reply.
I may say that when I spoke on the Address in Reply I had on my notes a reference to the subject, but, as sometimes happens to us all, I overlooked it. I went on to say -
The matter is to some extent a personal one, and also affects the Senate. I refer to the criticism passed upon paragraph 14 of the GovernorGeneral’s speech. The paragraph reads - 11 The Estimates of Expenditure will be framed with economy, having due regard to the magnitude and importance of the interests under your control.”
As that is addresed by His Excellency to the House of Representatives, the word “ your “ makes it appear as if the subject dealt with in the paragraph was under the sole control of the House of Representatives. That criticism has been offered, and i wish to say that, so far from that being in the minds of Ministers, we recognise that there is a dual control of Commonwealth finances. We know that if the Senate has not in every particular the same control’ over the finances as has the House of Representatives, it has a very considerable control, and a very much larger power than the Upper Houses of the States Parliaments.
We old politicians are in the habit of using the old forms without taking into consideration the altered position of the Senate on the one hand, and the House of Representatives on the other, and this is an instance in which an old form was by some means adopted-
I regret that the use of the word “ your “ in the paragraph quoted should have given rise to some little misapprehension as to what members of the Ministry really think. I take a certain amount of blame to myself as leader of the Senate that I did not read the paragraph in this light when it was under consideration by the Cabinet. I can assure honorable senators that there is no intention on the part of the Government to claim for the House of Representatives any more power over matters of finance than that House is entitled to under the Constitution.
– Then there was gross neglect in the preparation of the speech?
– Has the honorable senator never made a mistake? Senator Fraser. - Many
– Then the honorable senator ought to have some consideration for the weaknesses of human nature in others. I am willing to bear the blame for what has occurred, seeing that as leader of the Senate I am responsible.
– The omission is not worth such a vehement apology.
– Perhaps not ; but I can assure the Senate that the same thing will not occur again. Having given that assurance, I ask the Senate not to adopt the motion to present an address to His Excellency.
– It is perhaps only right that I should take a portion of the blame, and I think that perhaps Senator Neild may be induced to bear a little of it himself. The complaint of the honorable senator is really as to a matter of form, and not as to a matter of substance, dealing as it does with the form of the preamble of the Bill. After the honorable senator made his complaint, Money Bills appeared before us with preambles which quite met with his approval, and he subsequently called the attention of the Senate to the form of the prorogation speech. On that occasion, speaking, of course, with reference to the prorogation speech, I assured him that the next time the speech would be in a different form; and that promise was carried out. Unfortunately, however, when the Governor’s speech was delivered at the opening of Parliament, special reference was made to the members of the House of Representatives in the form used in the past ; and that we acknowledge was an oversight, which we undertake shall not occur again. If Senator Neild when submitting his motion in reference to the prorogation speech had drawn attention to the fact that this particular form was also used in the opening speech, then I should have given a similar undertaking in reference to the .latter ; and for his omission he ought to bear some portion of the blame. The honorable senator drew my attention only to the prorogation speech, and he was thensatisfied with the assurance I gave him. The honorable senator now draws attentionto the fact that there is the same difficulty, from his own point of view-
– The Senate’s point of view.
– After all, it is only a matter of form. The honorable senator now has the assurance of my colleague and myself that no special reference shall be made to the House of Representatives, unless, of course, from the substance of the speech such special reference is necessary, and I think that under the circumstances he might very well withdraw his motion.
– But what if there be a change of Government?
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I. have very little to say. Both Ministers cry peccavi, and then try to place some element of responsibility on me. For a Minister to suggest that a private member is to be made the sole guardian of the position of this Senate under the Constitution, seems to argue such a lamentable absence of any reasonable defence, that I offer my condolence to the Ministers on getting into a place so tight as to necessitate such a proposition. As to Senator Playford, his good-natured face removes all asperity ; like a patent pill, it removes all difficulties. He has only to give us one goodnatured glance to prevent our saying anything unpleasant; and we are happy to have in such a responsible position, one who keeps us, if not in good order, at any rate, in good humour. I repudiate in the most emphatic manner the charge that I suggested the smallest breach of faith to any one. What I said was that there had been a lapse of memory or want of attention. If I wanted any reason for carrying out my intention not to withdraw the motion, it is to be found in the pertinent interjection of Senator Styles a few moments ago, “Suppose there were, a change of Government?” Such changes do occur in the whirligig of politics, and what would become of us if we were bereft of the forgetful representation of the two present Ministers ? In the preparation of the next Viceregal Address those gentlemen might be absent, and there would be no watch-dog to see that due recognition . was given to the position which this Chamber occupies, not at our whim or personal fancy, but under the Constitution. I cannot see that the motion contains the smallest personal or party taint.
– Could the motion not be amended so as to be a simple affirm’ation ?
– The motion has been moved, seconded,, discussed, and replied to, and I must .respectfully insist on taking the decision of my comrades as to whether it is a proper proposition to be affirmed by this Chamber.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I. move -
That this Senate affirms the principle of iron works being established and owned by the Federal Government, for the purpose of manufacturing pig-iron, and steel from native ore, believing this would be in the best interests of Australian industry, State rights, and Commonwealth prosperity.
I am very pleased to have an opportunity so early in the session of submitting this motion. We cannot give too much attention to this very important motion. So far, the Senate has not had an opportunity to discuss the question, although it has been twice brought before the other House. I quite expect that the Government will take up the attitude that my motion transgresses our constitutional rights. I’ do not intend to speak at any great length on the constitutional aspect of the question, as I prefer to leave its discussion to the legal members of the Senate ; but I cannot resist the temptation to quote the opinion which the Prime Minister furnished to the Chairman of the Bonus Commission when he was Attorney-General. Whilst it is not decidedly in favour of my motion, I do not think it .can be said to be decidedly against it. It reads as follows : -
You ask for my opinion, for the information of the Bonus Commission, as to the powers, if any, of the Commonwealth to establish iron works.
In my. opinion, no such power is included in the express gift of legislative power to the Federal Parliament.
The trade and commerce power, vast though it is, does not appear to extend to production and manufacture - which are not commerce.
Commerce only begins where production and manufacture end. (See Kidd v. Pearson, 12S, U.S., 1, 20.) Moreover, the fact that the trade and commerce power is limited to external and Inter-State trade and commerce indicates that the power which the States undoubtedly possess to undertake Government industries within their own limits is not shared by the Commonwealth under this sub-section.
Under sub-sections r, 2, and 3, taken together (trade and commerce, taxation and bounties) the authority of the Commonwealth over industrial development is of the largest ; but though it allows of control, regulation, and guidance, it in no respects points to direct establishment or management of any industries. Nor can I find in any other part of the Constitution any express authority for the course suggested.
The implied powers of legislation remain to be determined, but include (under sub-section 39, of section 51) matters “incidental” to the exercise of the express powers.
The manufacture of iron may be incidental to the execution of many such powers, e.g., defence, or the construction of railways. The Commonwealth might clearly undertake the manufacture of any goods for its own use ; and probably if it did so, and it were incidentally advantageous to the interests of the economical working of the undertaking, that it should also manufacture for other consumers, such manufacture would also come within its implied powers. Except as above, it does not appear that any power to establish and conduct’ manufactures can be implied from the Constitution.
– It can only be done by the strongest implication, and Mr. Kingston holds the same view.
– I shall merely argue from that rather limited view of the case. If we have the power to run railways there cannot be any reasonable objection to our making the locomotive engines, which are now being made By the Railway Departments in nearly all the States. If we have the power to make locomotive engines, surely we have the power to make the material out of which they are constructed. If we have the power to own railways, we must necessarily have the power to manufacture the material out of which the rails are made. Therefore, taking even the narrow aspect of the question, which has been suggested by Senator Playford, I think that the Constitution bears out the contention that we have the right to establish iron works, if for no other reason than to produce the iron material which we shall consume on our railways.
– -But we have not got any railways to consume them.
– I hope that we shall have some railways in the future. The Prime Minister goes further, and says that if we can manufacture economically for the Government there cannot be any reasonable opposition to our also manufacturing for the members of the community.
– It is all hypothetical’.
– It may be; but I think that it supports the constitutional point out of which the Government have been trying to make so much capital. It is a very poor ground indeed for opposing my motion. To a limited extent we have the railways under our control ; but to the fullest extent we have the defence of the country under our jurisdiction. If we have the right to look after the defence of Australia, surely we must also have the right to manufacture guns of various calibre, and those guns can only be made from material such as will be produced in the works whose’ establishment I advocate. We have a Department which requires iron, and therefore we are quite within the powers of the Constitution in saying that iron works should be established by the Government. In calling the iron industry into existence we are expanding the industrial scope of the Commonwealth. So far as I am able to judge, after giving the matter considerable attention, there is no hope of this great industry ever being called into existence unless some assistance is given by the Government.
– If we imposed a good protective duty it would come into existence soon enough.
– I have no doubt that it would. Unfortunately, in the past, it has not received the encouragement or assistance of protection. We are now in a position, however, to nationalize the industry, and by so doing, to give to the whole of the community the benefits of the industry instead of calling into existence a few Carnegies at the expense of the ratepayers. All I ask is, that the industry shall be established with the money of the Government, and, apparently, it cannot otherwise be established. No State in the union is so peculiarly adapted for this enterprise as in New South Wales. It possesses both coal and iron ore in abundance. No doubt all the States have an abundant supply of iron ore, but New South Wales is the only State which has an abundant supply of coal suitable for the smelting of iron. Because of the free-trade policy which has prevailed in that State, this industry has never yet been established in Australia. I think I am quite justified in saying that, under a free-trade regime, it never could be established. It can only be established in Australia as it has been established in every other country - ;under protection. I, though a protectionist, will consider a few times before I shall vote any assistance to an individual or private company to establish an industry which should be in the hands of the Government, for the reason that, once it was established, it would be a monopoly. We have to consider the effect which a monopoly of that kind would have on our industrial life. ‘ The railway systems are owned by the States, and no sane man, I think, would, for a moment say that it would be right or proper to create a monopoly in the manufacture of articles which are needed by the States railways; in other words, to give any company the right to bleed the States railways, or to charge what they like for rails or Other materials, especially when only the States railways could give trade enough to keep their iron works going. I may be met with the argument that if it were a profitable industry other works would be established. I can assure honorable senators that there is not room in Australia for mOre than one up-to-date iron works. Our consumption of iron would not justify the erection of more than one modern iron works, and with only one blast furnace, too. It would not be a very big iron works which had only one blast furnace. It will be seen at a glance that a private iron works would have a monopoly of the trade of Australia. It may be urged that we could break up the monopoly by throwing open the markets of Australia.
– By introducing the rninimum wage.
– Not even the introduction of the minimum wage would satisfy me, protectionist though I am. There is another system of government which is much dearer to me than protection. Viewing the question from every stand-point I hold that we have everything to gain by establishing the industry under the regime of State enterprise rather than under the regime of private enterprise. So far. private enterprise has miserably failed to establish the industry in Australia.
– How about the Fitzroy dock at the present time?
– I noticed in the press the other day that the Fitzroy dock was declared by a Royal Commission to be unsuitable for the manufacture of locomotive engines required for the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales, and they recommended that the engines be built at the Government workshops, and calculated they would be cheaper- and better built there than by private enterprise. My motion, however, is not directed towards the production of locomotive engines, but towards the production of raw material, such as pig iron, to be converted afterwards into steel rails and so forth. The manufacture of locomotives, I contend, has been more successfully carried out by the States than by private enterprise. In the report of the Bonus Commission, I find a confirmation of that statement. Mr. Woodroffe, chief mechanical engineer of the Victorian railways, said that locomotive engines were built for 25 per cent, less in the Government workshops than in private workshops, proving that at least in this industry State enterprise is much more economical than private enterprise. For the benefit of Senator Walker I shall quote a portion of the evidence which was given by Mr. Woodroffe : -
I may explain at the outset that when tenders are called for it is usual for the Department to supply certain material to contractors, such as wheels and axles, boiler plates, copper plates, and tubes. Further, as we have certain machines in Our workshops, some of this material is partly worked up. For instance, the boiler fronts and throat plates. We have a large hydraulic press in which we press these into shape, and give them to the contractor in that form. Otherwise he would have to do the work by hand, and would not be able to turn out nearly so good a job. Then if we have patterns ; we also supply them under the contract. Bearing in mind the material supplied to the contractor and the labour expended upon it, and also the cost of the carriage of the material, and the cost of inspection - the lowest cost under private tender was that of the Phoenix Foundry Company, at about ^5,000 per engine. The tender I sent in, including the same material, and all charges which I thought it fair to add, amounted to about £3,800 per engine. Afterwards it was considered only fair, as a matter of comparison between the outside tender and our own, to add something for the use of the buildings and plant. Adding a percentage on a rough proportion of the cost of the buildings and plant, my estimate was increased to ^3,945 per engine. Of course, that percentage was added purely for the sake of comparison, because it will be fully understood that the buildings and the machines, the sidings, and the lines, and everything else would be there whether the engines were constructed or not.’
I think that bears out the contention that, as far as State enterprise is concerned, at all events in connexion with the iron industry, we have every right to anticipate the same success in making the raw material as has been obtained in manufacturing locomotives. The skill required for producing the raw material is not nearly so great as the skill required in the construction of a locomotive. I can speak with some authority on this point as one who has been employed in that sort of work in the old country, and as one who was reared in the district known as the “iron village” of Scotland. I know that there is very little skill required in iron production in proportion to the amount of profit secured. Therefore, we have every right to look to the making of a great amount of profit by the State in undertaking the manufacture of pig iron in Australia. Having made that statement, I will proceed to give some proof of my assertions.
– The fortunes made by the iron kings of the world demonstrate that what the honorable senator has said is true.
– Certainly the fortunes of the Pierpont Morgans, the Carnegies, and the other great iron masters demonstrate that the production of iron is exceedingly profitable. The richest men in Scotland are those who have made their enormous wealth out of the iron industry.
– The industry was established under protection, though.
– That is quite true. The iron industry has been established in every country in the world under protection.’ There is no country where the iron industry .has been established under the regime of free-trade. But whether, under free-trade or protection enormous fortunes have accrued to those who have had the control of this great industry. That would be the case in Australia to an even greater extent than elsewhere. Here the iron industry would be a greater monopoly than is known in any other part of the world. Owing to our limited market there would be only one ironworks, which would undoubtedly secure the whole of the Australian market. Those at the head of it could charge what they liked, and very great profits would be made.
– How . would the honorable senator secure the profit to the Commonwealth? By compelling the States to buy their iron from the Commonwealth ironworks ?
– I am quite willing to allow the private enterpriser to get his iron wherever he likes. If he can get it cheaper elsewhere than from the Government ironworks let him do so. But I venture to say that it would be impossible to get iron from any other source cheaper than it could be bought from the Government.
– The Bonus Commission’s report does not prove that.
– I %’enture to say that it proves it abundantly. Mr. Sandford, who knows more about iron products than any one in Australia - because he has been engaged in the industry all his life as employer and employe^ - said before the Bonus Commission that iron could be produced in Australia for- 35s. per ton. I go further, and say that it can be produced much cheaper. When we find a manufacturer admitting that it can be produced for 35s. per ton we have a right to expect that it can be made for much less than that.
– Apparently it costs 52s. per ton to produce iron in Great Britain.
– The cost of iron production in the United Kingdom is much less than that, I can assure my honorable friend. But with reference to cost of production I shall read some extracts from a recent work published by the secretary of the Iron and Steel Association of England, a gentleman named Jeans. The book is in the Parliamentary Library. Mr. Jeans and others were sent by his association to the United States to inquire into the condition of the iron industry in regard to the cost and methods of production, and so on. I will give the Senate the benefit of his conclusions. On page 119 of bis work, speaking of the cost of production, Mr. Jeans says -
The average cost of producing pig iron in the Southern States of America to-day is 33s. 4d. per ton, although it was claimed that one, or perhaps two, of the smaller firms,- who are specially well placed, may produce it for a dollar less. In Alabama, it is claimed that pig iron is made at the very low cost of six and a half dollars. The following for one month, covering a production of 12,000 tons, from two furnaces, fairly represents the work over a period.
It will be seen that 26s. 8d. per ton is a very great reduction on Mr. Sandford’s estimate.
– That is only the cost of extraction, I think.
– No, it is the actual cost of production. On page 123 Mr. Jeans speaks of the production of iron in England under the most modern system. He says -
I may add that I have had brought under my notice within the last few months an important proposal to establish in the Midlands, works on modern lines, where it appears probable to produce pig iron at 30s. per ton, and steel billets at 67s. peT ton.
In the North of England I have reason to believe that an equally low cost may be reached from Americanization of some of the leading plants.
Further, on page 332 of the same work, I find that Mr. Jeans refers to the Dominion Iron Company’s Works at Sydney, Canada. These works were established owning to the Dominion Government giving the very great bounty of ns. per ton for the production of. iron. That amount is a little less than is proposed in “ the Bill introduced by the Government in another place. There the amount specified is 12s. per ton. The Dominion Iron Works Company estimates that the cost of producing pig iron is 25s. per ton, which is only a little more than onehalf of the amount of the bounty received, from the Government. Mr. Jeans says that the promoters estimate the cost of producing pig iron at 23s. a ton.
The cost of steel blooms is estimated at 47s. per ton, which is materially under any estimate I met with in the United States, and which I should venture to regard as below the figures likely to be averaged over a term of years.
If we remember that this company has received an enormous sum of money in the shape of bounties from the Canadian Government, it will be a guide for us as to the profits that are likely to be made by gentlemen who are anxious to secure bounties from the Commonwealth Government. No doubt we have in Australia excellent facilities for the production of iron. In Canada the iron ore has to be brought from Belleisle, in Newfoundland, to Nova Scotia, a considerable distance by ship, .and then it has to be taken a considerable distance by train. I dare say that in Australia it would also be necessary to take the ore a considerable distance by water and by rail. But I do not think that we should have to carry our ore so great a distance as is necessary in Canada; and if iron can be produced at 23s. per ton there, I have no reason to doubt that it’ can be produced at quite as low a rate in Australia. There has been considerable argument as to the number of hands who would be employed in this industry if it were established. I would draw attention to the fact that while a considerable number of hands are employed in iron works in the old country, where the plant is for the most part antiquated, and the work is done in a very old style, yet in the up-to-date iron works of America and Canada the number of hands employed is very low indeed. If our works were established on modern lines the number of hands required to supply sufficient pig iron for the Australian market would not be so very great after all. Those who expect to give employment to thousands and thousands of hands, as the Minister for Home Affairs said would be the case, in another place, have not taken a proper grip of the facts. Our iron works must be established on uptodate lines. It would be foolish to establish them on any other lines. We should require, for instance, to have thoroughly up-to-date furnaces, steel converters, and rolling mills. Otherwise the establishment of such an industry in this enlightened age would be almost a crime. In Mr. Jeans’s book honorable senators will find particulars of the number of hands employed in one of the great iron works of Pittsburg, the Duquesne blast furnaces. The number of hands employed there is 477, made up as follows : -
This is one of the greatest iron works in the world, and the output is 620,000 tons a year, which works out at about 1,300 tons per man per annum. At this rate 115 men could make enough iron to supply the whole of Australia. Yet we have gentlemen promising that if iron works were established they would lead to the employment of thousands and thousands “of men. Indeed, I have seen figures by which it was sought toshow that 10,000 men could be employed. Mr. Jeans says -
At the same works, in the steel department, 343. men are engaged at the open-hearth furnaces, converting, by the basic process, which is coming so much into vogue in America. The. average per man was 1,350 tons per annum.
That is the process that we shall probably adopt in Australia, because the basic process is. more suitable for the treatment of our ore than the acid process or the Bessemer process, which is being displaced all over the world in favour of the open-hearth process. The reason is that ore that contains a large percentage of phosphorus can be treated under the new process better than was possible under the old one. Therefore, in quoting the figures which I have given, I am taking what has happened under the most expensive system of converting iron into steel. But the more recent discoveries have led to steel being made quite as cheap by the basic process as by the old Bessemer process. These discoveries are of great advantage to us in Australia, because our iron ore is highly charged with phosphorus.
– Not the Tasmanian ore-
– Yes; the best Tasmanian ore is the Blythe River ore, and the proportion of phosphorus contained in that is, according to the opinion of experts, too high to admit of the malling of steel for rails by the old process. Of course, if Senator Mulcahy poses as an expert, I am willing to bow to his better judgment ; but until I know that he has some knowledge of the question I shall accept the opinion of men whose reputation stands high. They say that the proportion of phosphorus in the Blythe River ore is so great that it could not be treated by the Bessemer or acid process nearly so well as by the open-hearth basic process.
– I have never seen that statement.
– The fact of our ores being highly charged with phosphorus has no doubt had something to do with our not being able to establish works. At the works to which I am referring the steel department employs 343 men, and we are told that the open-hearth furnace, for converting pig into steel, is coming into vogue in America, and that the production per man is 1,350 tons per annum. At that rate three open-hearth furnaces, employing at most 100 men, could supply us with all the steel needed in Australia. I estimate that we should not need mote than 100,000. tons of steel rails per year ; and have made that estimate the basis of my figures.
– Has the honorable senator taken into consideration the probability of the construction of an Inter-State railway ?
– I am taking into consideration the probability that the conscience of Australia will be awakened to the fact that until an Inter-State railway is built the Continent will be no more federated than it was before the Federal Constitution was passed. This may be a laughing matter for Senator Styles, but I am sure that he is just as anxious as anybody to see Australia developed. We have-none of the waterways which are such a common feature of other continents, and, therefore, Australia can be opened up only by the construction of railways.
– We have a big Bight.
– And if Senator Findley crossed that Bight he would doubtless be converted to the necessity for a railway. And for the very reason that an Inter-State railway must be built, and that it will be a Federal railway, we cannot do better than have the necessary raw material at hand, a step the economy of which would be approved by Senator Styles. Senator Trenwith. - Will not the iron works be started before then?
– The works will be started at the earliest opportunity. In regard to the Edgar Thomson Works, Pittsburg, which are now under the Steel Corporation, it is stated that, in the rail department, 105 men are engaged, who average 29 tons per man per day. If we produce at that rate, twenty-three men will roll all the rails we require in Australia.
– That does not comprehend the men that would be employed in mining and other operations.
– Even if I were to add the men required for mining the coal and ore, and preparing the coke, the numbers would not, after all, be so very great. There is a gentleman just outside the Chamber who has in his possession a sample of ore from some part of Gippsland, and he informs me that one man could produce at least five tons per day, a figure which does not promise the employment of many men.
– But, would not employment be given to a large number of coal miners?
– I have no doubt that the establishment of iron manufacture would do some . good to the industry, the welfare of which Senator Henderson has so much at heart. We can see by the figures that, owing to the invention of labour-saving machinery and better equipped furnaces, the number of men that would be given employment would not be anything like so great as has hitherto been supposed. In that fact I rejoice, rather than otherwise. ‘If we can produce all we require with the rninimum of labour, by taking advantage of the latest appliances, we shall only be acting wisely. In my opinion there is no sense in making work unnecessarily, and my only desire is that all those up-to-date appliances should as far as possible be obtained and retained in the hands of the Government, so that the people as a whole, and not a few, shall reap the advantage. Of course, all the iron works in America are :not so well equipped as those to which I have referred, there being still a number of employers who do not feel justified in displacing the older plant for the time being. I mention the factories equipped with the most modern appliances, because it is very likely that, if we establish this industry, .we shall follow their example in order to reap the greater profit by producing at the minimum cost. In the near future the Commonwealth may have great difficulty in finding sufficient money with which to carry out public works, and there is no justification for shutting our eyes to new sources of revenue, such as this industry presents. There are no vested interests to be considered, and to carry out my idea would do harm to none but much good to the whole community. I do not refer to the cost of making the iron in Australia. I have no doubt that honorable senators have read the report, in which they will see that, according to the evidence of Mr. Sandford, iron can be produced at the low price of 35s. per ton, though I am of opinion that we might reduce that figure by 5s., and still be over-estimating the cost. In Australia there are as big, and, perhaps, bigger bodies of ore than in any other portion of the world. In Tasmania, and South Australia, there are mountains of ore, while in the watershed of the Murchison River, in Western Australia, there is, perhaps, the finest body of ore in the world. Unfortunately, however, all the States are not so well suited as ‘New South Wales for the manufacture of iron, and, therefore, it is my belief that in that State the industry will be established. For my part, I think that the work ought to be carried on in Federal territory. The time is not far off when we shall have selected the Federal site, and, if southern Monaro should be the place, it would prove an ideal locality for iron works. No doubt the workS would be established somewhere adjacent to Twofold Bay, where there is ample water power, with coke and iron ore within easy reach.
– The necessary water power cannot be got at Monaro.
– I think that ample water power could be obtained on the coastal regions near Twofold Bay. I do not intend to deal with the mining of the ore and the coal, or the making of the coke. As to coke, ample supplies can be obtained from Illawarra, of a quality, perhaps, as good as any in the world, at the low cost of 8s. or 9s. a ton. It will be seen that I. have some consideration for vested interests. It is a question whether the iron ore would be brought from Tasmania, the western parts of New South Wales, or from the recent find in Gippsland.
– The ore would perhaps, be brought from several places, and mixed at the works.
– And that might produce a better article. I think I have already said that there is little probability of our ever seeing this industry established on freetrade principles. Several efforts have been made to establish the industry in New South Wales, but they have all failed. In explanation of these failures, it has been urged that the market was limited to New South Wales, and did not justify the construction of works ; but it must not be forgotten that there never has been any duty or barrier placed on the importation of pig iron in any of the States, and that, therefore, the whole Australian market was open to the industry. No effort to establish the industry under free-trade conditions has ever succeeded, owing to the .fact that the wages in Australia are considerably higher than they are in the old country. Some of the best brands of iron are made on the west coast of Scotland, where common labour, as I knew over twenty years ago, was remunerated at as low a rate as 10s. per week. Russian Poles were imported to that part of Scotland to supply labour in works which produced the best pig-iron in the world, and, notwithstanding the high prices obtained for that iron, labour was paid at- that low rate.
– No wonder an iron manufacturer there could give ,£500,000 to the church.
– One of the iron kings did at one time give ,£500,000 to the Established Church of Scotland, and if he had given another ^500,000 to his poor sweated work people he would, I think, have had a better chance of Paradise. Mr.. Mitchell, M.L.A., of New South Wales, who made several attempts to establish the iron industry in that State, told me on one occasion that he was going to England in order to form a syndicate to commence operations at Illawarra.
– Mr. Mitchell was a free-trader.
– But I am pleased to say that, after making inquiries in London, and after having experts out here to examine the ore and inquire, into the facilities for producing iron, Mr. Mitchell was converted from his free-trade folly. He admitted that it was impossible under free-trade conditions to produce iron in New South Wales.
– What has free-trade to do with the motion?
– I wish to show that the industry cannot be established under free-trade, and I can assure Senator Dawson that I have no intention of proposing its establishment under protection. We find that the manufacturers who have to purchase the raw material from the great trusts which exist in that protected country, are crying out against the enormous prices, as compared with the prices which manufacturers abroad pay for the same class of. iron.
– Does the honorable’ senator realize that protection makes trusts possible? There cannot be trusts under free-trade.
– Cannot there? What was the cause of the high price of kerosene in New South Wales under free-trade?
– We need not go far in order to ascertain that the cost of iron is as great, if not greater, in the United Kingdom than it is in the United States. The only time the iron manufacturers in Scotland or England were able to buy their raw material cheaper was during what is known as the dumping period, when the surplus stocks of America were sent there and sold for less than the cost of production. Senator Dawson says that there cannot be trusts under free-trade; but as a matter of fact we are paying higher prices for pig iron and rails in Australia under free-trade, than are paid in the United States of America. Free-traders like to deal in generalities. but 1 now give them a concrete instance, in the fact that iron under free-trade is actually dearer than it is under protection. We could have iron produced here cheaper, under State enterprise, than it can be bought at the present time. For the benefit of honorable senators, I shall refer to the results of the iron industry in America, so far as they affect manufacturers who require to purchase raw material. I quote again from American Industrial Conditions and Corn-petitions. The writer says -
One of the largest manufacturing concerns in Bridgeport, Conn., in May, 1901, sent a communication to the press, pointing out that manufacturing associations in the various cities were handicapped in the cost of their raw material, such as coke, coal, pig iron, and steel. They believed that as these materials were produced cheaper in the United States than in any portion of the world, and are sold abroad at lower prices than at home. The Secretary of the Tariff Reform Committee declared to an Industrial Commission, now sitting in the United States, that the Trust sell tin-plates abroad at a dollar a box less than at home. Wire nails sold in the United States at 3 dollars 50 cents a keg were sold abroad at 2 dollars 20 cents. Steel rails were sold at 5 dollars a ton more in the United States than abroad. Plain wire is quoted at n dollars cheaper to the Canadian than to the home buyer. When barbed wire was being sold to the Americans at 4 dollars per roo lbs., it was being sold to Canadians at 3 dollars 25 cents, and to more remote foreigners at 2 dollars 20 cents.
– The universal experience is that, under protection, the home consumer pays more for what he purchases than does the foreigner.
– That has often been said, and as often refuted.
– That is a problem that I shall leave to another occasion. It is sufficient for me to say that, under protection in the United States, iron is, to-day, being produced at a lower cost than, ever it was before; and the manufacturers, notwithstanding their justifiable complaint that they are unable to purchase at as low a price as persons abroad, are buying iron cheaper than they used to buy it.
– Then what do they want protection for?
– I might just as well ask the honorable senator why he wants free-trade.
– The honorable senator has said that the price is lower in America than anywhere else, including the United Kingdom.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I do not say that people are buying, iron cheaper in the
United States than in the United Kingdom, but, I do say, that iron is cheaper in the United States now than it ever has been before.
– In consequence of the Tariff.
– The honorable senator can put it down to whatever reason he pleases.
– The honorable senator is putting it down to a particular reason, and I should like to know whether that is really the reason.
– Yes. it is.
– I have said that while the manufacturers are not getting the raw material as cheaply as they ought to get it, they are still getting it more cheaply than before. I should like, again, to quote from American Industrial Conditions and Competitions to show that the profits of the industry in America more than justify us in undertaking the establishment of the iron industry in Australia. At page 301 of the work the writer says : -
It is not an easy matter to arrive at the financial results attending the operations of large firms. When the profits are exceptionally great there are often good reasons for taking care to conceal them. Questions of taxation, rating, labour remuneration, are liable to be adversely affected by a disclosure of excessive profits. The profits of the Carnegie Company have been disclosed as a result of certain litigation between Mr. Carnegie and his partner, Mr. Frick. Their profits in 1900 were over 20,000,000 dollars.
That is the profit which these two gentlemen shared between them, and it shows the enormous profit which may be derived from the industry in America. It is probable that this disclosure would never have been made had it not been for the threatened law-case which “let the cat out of the bag.” We know that Mr. Carnegie has made a great fortune ; and that the Pierpont Morgans, the Schwabs, and other millionaires have also .made enormous fortunes in America.
– Out of protection.
– I draw Senator Dawson’s attention to the fact that in the United Kingdom, under free-trade, there are millionaires also who have derived their fortunes from the iron industry.
– They did not make their fortunes so quickly there.
– They have made them all too quickly for the unfortunate people who have had to exist on 10s. a week.
– That shows that there is no necessity for protection.
– I am not arguing for protection for this industry.
– I have not heard the honorable senator argue anything else.
– I have tried to keep strictly to the motion, but rabid free-traders can never get away from the question of free-trade and protection for five minutes. The authority from whom I have already quoted also says -
The average profits made during 1900 in’ the United States iron and steel trade is 2oi per cent, on the capital invested. A document placed in my hands shows that the Jefferson Furnace Company has paid dividends amounting to 1,917 per cent, on their capital, being an average of 66 per cent .per annum for 29 years.
The writer adds that -
This is in nowise an exceptional circumstance. As to the profits derived in the Dominion of Canada, where the . iron industry has been created by bounties paid by the Canadian Government, I find that the same writer says -
The Dominion Iron and Steel Company have issued a statement that if their estimate of an annual production of 400,000 tons be realised, they will have to receive from the Canadian Government up to the end of 1907 bounties to the total amount of ^1,621,000, or an average of ^231,572 per annum.
These quotations justify me in saying that no matter how this industry is brought into existence in Australia it will be found to be a very profitable undertaking for those who secure control of it. Recognising the enormous profits to be derived from the industry, and recognising the fact that under a system of bonuses, or of protection for its support, it is the ratepayers who have to pay the piper. I desire that whatever profits are to be derived from this industry shall go into the collective pocket of the taxpayers in return. I may say that in America, the United States Government set a precedent in the establishment of iron works. Two or three years ago they called tenders for steel armour plates for their war vessels, but the prices tendered were so great that they determined to start works of their own. The moment they threatened to do so the prices came down with a run, and the next time tenders were called for they had been reduced by’ something like £20 per ton. This was the result of a mere proposal on the part of the Government to start iron works. Congress gave the Government power to do so, but unfortunately they did not take advantage of it to establish iron works of their own. We have a case in point in Japan, where iron works have been established by the State, and, according to a Blue-book published by the British Government, those works are at present in a very flourishing condition; and the very fine ironclad vessels in the possession of the Japanese Government are to a great extent due to them. I should like to read for honorable senators an article published in the Sydney Worker of June last on the establishment of iron works by the Government of Japan. In that article it is stated that -
Mr. Ernest Griffiths, of the British Consular service in Japan, has prepared an interesting report on this new development in Japan, which is appended to the annual report from Shimonoseki, and has been published by the British Government as a parliamentary paper. This document states that the Government of Japan, as a result of inquiries by a Commission and experts, who studied the great iron and steel industries of Europe and America, induced the Japanese Parliament to appropriate 20,000,000 yen, equivalent to ^2,000,000, for the establishment of works at Wakamatsu in the north-west corner of the island of Kin-Shiu, near the open ports’ of Moji, and Shimonoeski The works cover about 320 acres, and harbour improvements are being made, which will enable a ship of 3,000 tons displacement to berth at the quay wharf, which extends along the front of the works. The quay and all parts of the works are connected with a main line of railway, and there are about 20 miles of railway within the works. The raw material, consisting of magnetite, hematite, and a smaller quantity of zimonite, are all obtained in Japan, although supplies are also drawn from Hu-peh in China. Two iron mines and three coal mines have been acquired by the Government, all of them within 20 miles of the works,, and connected with them by rail. It is estimated that when in full working order the establishment will require 250,000 tons of ore, 380,000 tons of coke, and 800,000 tons of coal per annum. Iron ore will be laid down on the works at a cost of ros. per ton. A recent official announcement states that the works are designed to supply the steel materials required by the Government Department. The works will, however, supply certain kinds of steel to the public, but only in large quantities to the Japanese engaged in the industry at prices lower than those ruling for imported articles of a similar kind.
I also claim for our Australian iron-works, when established, that they will be able to produce the raw material at a much lower cost than that for which it is at present being bought in Australia. The article proceeds: -
The production of pig-iron began in February, 1902, and in May of that year Siemen’s steel was being produced at the rate of 40 tons daily. In June the production of rails and plates was started. The head of the works has stated that from 90,000 to 100,000 tons of steel can be produced annually, and that the profits will undoubtedly cover in a reasonable time the capital invested in this most important industry.
– Are the wages given in that article?
– No, wages are not mentioned. Whilst I should like to see Australia follow the example of Japan in the establishment of State iron-works, I hope we shall never follow the Japanese example so far as wages are concerned.
– I was merely raising the question of the industry paying there as compared with its prospect of paying here.
– I have already referred to the cost of production in the United States and in Canada, where wages are high and the conditions are somewhat similar to our own. From the information I have supplied on that point we can get a shrewd idea of the profits likely to be derived from the industry, allowing for the wages which must be paid here. I hope honorable senators will interest themselves sufficiently in this question, and I have no doubt that they will find that we have everything to gain from a national and an industrial stand-point by the establishment of iron-works by the Government. The workmen engaged in the industry would be much better treated if they were employed by the Government than if they were employed by a private employer. We know that that is the case at present. We know that the conditions in America are not too good, so far as the worker is concerned, and we know that they are infinitely worse in the United Kingdom. It is indeed scandalous that in the United Kingdom workmen, who have to bear the heat and burden of making iron, have to work for the low wages to which I have referred, namely, 10s. per week. I recognise that we shall have to pay a decent rate of wages for work in. our hotter climate, but I recognise also that we shall be in a position to do so. We have abundance of iron ore and coal, and our natural facilities for carrying on the industries will enable us to pay good wages. I prefer that it should be established under the benign influence of the Government, and in the hands of the State, rather than that the profits to be derived from the industry should go to private persons, who are to be assisted in its establishment, as proposed by the Government, to the extent of ^2 50,000. In this twentieth century, I should regard such a proposal as a crime, when we are aware of the enormous profits to be derived from the industry, and that at the present time manufacturers have to pay perhaps twice as much for their raw material as they would have tq pay if State iron-works were established here. I, therefore, ask for the establishment of State iron- works to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers, and the interests also of the manufacturers, who will be enabled to purchase the raw material they require at a lower price than they can purchase it at present if this industry is carried on in Australia under the control of the Government. From every standpoint, honorable senators must admit that we have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by carrying into effect the motion I have the honour to submit this afternoon.
– I desire to inform the Senate of the position which the Government take up with regard to this motion. We must all congratulate Senator de Largie, who has shown that he has studied the question with a great deal of care, and who has given us air immense amount of exceedingly valuable information. But I think this is certainly not the proper time for us to commit ourselves to any special principle with regard to the question. Honorable senators who have followed the course of events during the last year or two will remember that the Barton Ministry believed that the States should take up the manufacture Of iron. In the first Bill they introduced they inserted a clause dealing with that subject to this effect -
Provided that no bonus shall be paid in respect of pig iron, puddle, bar iron, iron or steel pipes or tubes of steel, unless the same is manufactured in works operated by a State Government.
That was the original intention of the Barton Government. They proposed a bonus for the purpose of establishing this exceedingly important industry, and they preferred that the bonus should be paid to some State authority. It was a doubtful subject possibly, but they recognised at the time that so far as they could see the Constitution did not give power to the Federal Government to establish works of this character. Senator de Largie, in his opening remarks, alluded to the opinion on this subject given by Mr. Deakin at the request of Mr. Kingston. I also quoted an opinion by the present AttorneyGeneral. From the report of the Royal Commission which subsequently sat on the Bill, I know that that is the opinion of Mr. Kingston. I have never heard a contrary opinion expressed by any legal authority. It would not take me by surprise, however, if I heard that there was a lawyer who took an exactly opposite view to the gentleman whom I have named. The Bill was referred to a Select Committee,’ which’ was afterwards converted into a Royal Commission, and a report was brought up. In the meantime we had ascertained the opinions of the various States on the subject. The Prime Minister, in reply to a request by Mr. Kingston, forwarded the following communication to the Premier of New South Wales : -
Herewith I forward a copy of clause 3 of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, as recently amended in the House of Representatives, and shall be glad if you will be good enough to inform me whether, in the event of the Bill passing into law in its present form, there is any probability of advantage being taken of its provisions by your Government.
If you can kindly favour me with a reply in this matter before the reassembling of the House of Representatives (fixed at present for the 22nd hist.), I shall be much obliged.
Sir John See made the following reply:
I desire to inform you that my Government have given the fullest consideration to the matter of the establishment of iron works and works of a kindred character, and are of opinion that such should be carried out by private enterprise rather than by the Government of the State.
I might add that we favour both a duty and a bonus, and should be glad to support any action taken by the Federal Government in regard thereto.
From Mr. Irvine, the Premier of Victoria, the following reply was received : -
There is no probability of advantage being taken of its provisions by the Government.
Mr. Philp, the Premier of Queensland, made the following reply : -
There is no likelihood of this ‘Government adopting the course indicated, as it is not our intention to erect or carry on manufacturing works in Queensland.
Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia, said, in his reply : -
I have the honour to inform you that the probability of advantage being taken of its provisions by this Government depends entirely upon circumstances.
Mr. Jenkins was asked by telegram to explain what he meant by the phrase “it depends entirely upon circumstances,” and he wired the following explanation : -
Referring to your telegram of 17th inst. re Manufactures Encouragement Bill, this Government has no intention of starting such works, and the circumstances referred to in letter of Sth July mean the discovery of coal deposits, which could be utilized in conjunction with our iron ores.
Sir Elliot Lewis, the Premier of Tasmania, replied that that State did not intend to take advantage of the Bill. Every attempt was made by the Government to ascertain the opinion of the States, who undoubtedly have the power, if they chose to exercise it, to undertake these works. It is very doubtful whether the Commonwealth has the power without an alteration of the Constitution. If we were to pass a Bill, in which we exceeded our powers, the High Court could be invoked to declare our legislation ultra vires. The members of the Royal Commission were equally divided in their opinion, and the report, which was carried by the casting vote of the chairman, was signed by Mr. Kingston, Mr. Groom, Mr. McCay, Mr. Mauger, Sir E. Braddon, and Mr. Watson. It was signed by both free-traders and protectionists. They recommended the Bill, as it stands, without the clause relating to the States, because the States had informed the Government .that they would not undertake the work. The only alteration which the Commissioners recommended was that provisions should be inserted in the Bill -
The first recommendation is adopted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the second one has been inserted in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Senator de Largie* has said that it would become a monopoly, and would be injurious to the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. Under the provisions of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, it cannot become a monopoly injurious to the best interests of the people of the States, because it contains a provision that, after the termination of the bonus, the States can step in and take over the works at a fair valuation. If it is such a wonderfully prosperous concern the States will step in. The chance of any monopoly growing up in the circumstances is guarded against.
– The Government wish to establish a vested interest.
– That report was only carried on the casting vote of the- chairman.
– Yes. I can quote a portion of the majority report to show that the six gentlemen by whom it was signed did not believe in the Commonwealth undertaking the work.
– But they did.
– According to the report they did not ; they reported in favour of a Bill under which neither the Commonwealth , nor the States were to undertake the work. The minority report was signed by Mr. Hughes, a free-trader, Mr. Winter Cooke, a free-trader, Mr. Kirwan, a freetrader, Mr. Watson, a protectionist, Mr. Joseph Cook, a free-trader. Here we find a report signed by one protectionist and five free-traders. What is the substance of their report? It is that it will not pay anyone to undertake the work.
– But they did not say so.
– They said something very much like it -
The evidence given Jailed to establish a case in its favour.
– In favour of the bonus.
– No, in favour of the Bill. They did not give the slightest hint that they approved of the Commonwealth undertaking the work, but they said -
The evidence given failed to establish a case in its favour. Several witnesses thought the establishment of iron works in the Commonwealth premature, and much of the evidence was strongly against any attempt by the Government to establish the iron industry by the payment of bonuses.
In a previous paragraph they said -
The evidence failed to show that there was any commercial necessity for the bonuses proposed.
There we have the majority report in favour of the Bill which was introduced in another place, and those who dissented from that report are certainly not in favour of the construction of these works for the Commonwealth. The opinion of those who have looked into the legal aspect of the question is that it is not competent for the Commonwealth to enter upon such an enterprise. *
– Not quite so strong as that.
– I do not pretend to be a great constitutional authority, but certainly there are no express words in the Constitution which give that power to the Commonwealth.
– Take the Prime Ministers opinion.
– His opinion is all hypothetical. What he said was that, if we wanted to make some guns or some rails for the purpose of our railways, we might be able to make our iron from the
Ore, to roll our own rails and to make our Own guns, and he goes on to say that, even if that were the case, we might be able to sell some of our surplus stock.
– Hear, hear ! That is sufficient.
– Any one who has seen the manufacture of a cannon will admit that it would not pay the Commonwealth, for the sake of the few cannons which it might require, to put up the very expensive ‘ machinery and plant which are necessary for the manufacture. Any one who holds the opposite opinion must be fit for a. lunatic asylum or. suffering from softening of the brain. It would be necessary to spend an enormous sum to provide for the manufacture of big guns. In Woolwich Arsenal I have seen the manuf acture of a gun in all its stages, and have been astonished at the wonderful things which can . be done in the matter of lifting weights and boring solid masses of iron and steel. It is simply absurd to talk about the Commonwealth making its own guns. In consequence of the immense sum which is involved in its production, the machinery has to be kept going day and night. When we want guns of a certain pattern in England, we have to give an order at least two years in advance. This immense machinery must be kept in working order. Has the honorable senator estimated the expenditure that would be involved in the construction of the necessary works.
– At the very most a million.
– For the purpose of manufacturing iron’, we are to establish works of that magnitude. To talk of confining the industry to pig iron is simply absurd. That would be of little or no use. There are only about 30,000 or 40,000 tons of pig iron required in this community every year. That quantity would not keep the furnaces going. We must go in for the manufacture of other kinds of iron. The Government Bill provides for the manufacture ‘ of pig iron, puddled iron, steel, iron and steel pipes, tubes, and so on. We not only require to manufacture pig iron, but iron which is malleable; we also require to manufacture the steel that is used in the Commonwealth. Works for that purpose would cost at least ^1,000,000. There are only certain places at which such works could be established. To talk about establishing them at Southern Monaro, or near Bombala, is absurd. Where would the iron come from?
– I said, at Twofold Bay.
– The honorable senator said that the works could be established at the Federal Capital. Is the Federal Capital to be at Twofold Bay?
– I said within the Federal territory.
– I shall be very glad indeed if we can secure Twofold Bay as part of the Federal territory. But I think there is a lion in the path there. New South Wales is not likely to allow us to acquire Twofold Bay when we are going to have a capital fifty or sixty miles from, that spot. But those are questions which will have to be considered later on. I have read the evidence through, and; leaving Lithgow out of the question, it seems to me that there are two suitable places for the establishment of smelting works - one where the coal is found, and the other where the iron ore is obtained. We could have coalships carrying the coal to the place where the iron ore is obtained, and for back loading taking iron ore to where the coal is obtained.
– Is the honorable senator aware that one furnace, producing 1 50,000 tons per annum, would be sufficient to supply the Australian market?
– I am not at all sure about one furnace being sufficient. After the pig iron is made it has to be converted into steel, and so on. Different furnaces would be required for different processes.
– I believe I said that we should require one blast furnace, three steel converters, and the necessary milling furnaces.
– As we have had a Commission, which has furnished a report, as the Government have introduced a Bill in compliance with the views, of a majority of the Commission, and as the second reading of that measure has been moved in another place, it will be better to wait until we know the fate of the Bill before proceeding further. That Bill provides not only for bonuses for the manufacture of iron, but also for spelter. That subject is interesting to Tasmania, where the people know something about tin. The Bill also provides for bounties for the manufacture of galvanized iron, wire netting, and reapers and binders within the Commonwealth.
– I do not propose to touch those subjects.
– Would it not be much better for us to wait and see what is done with that Bill before we proceed further? Why should we pass a motion of this kind, and commit ourselves to a principle before we know what is to be done with that Bill ? Let us wait until we know the form in which the Bill will reach us; when, if we like, we can fight out the matter of Government enterprise as against privateenterprise. The honorable senator can then bring forward ah amendment of this kind, and we can discuss the principle involved in it. Under the circumstances, it would be well for the honorable senator to withdraw his motion. The Government must, under the circumstances, oppose it, as they have a Bill dealing with the same subject before another place.
Debate (on motion by Senator Henderson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th April (vide page 879), on motion by Senator Drake -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill with which we are now concerned is one that I am sure will require the very keenest atention from the Senate, in order to fashion it into, a measure which will be of some practical use to the community. It is the first instalment of Commonwealth legislation on the subject of navigation. By no means does it exhaust “the powers of the Common-wealth in dealing with that subject. For instance, the Bill before the Senate does not touch the subject of lighthouses, light-ships, buoys, beacons, Marine Boards, and Harbour Boards, with regard to all of which subjects we have power to legislate, and all of which are intimately concerned with navigation. It is, perhaps, an objection to the Bill, that it deals with so few of the questions affecting navigation. But at the same time, every one must admit that if the Government had attempted to deal with all of those subjects in one Bill, the result would have been an exceedingly cumbersome measure, and one which would have taxed the resources of both Houses of Parliament to the utmost. To a certain extent the Government have erred on the right side in not embracing too many subjects within this Bill. The others can be dealt with by legislation later on, and in the meantime the present State legislation can continue in existence.
– People concerned in navigation will not know where they, are.
– That is not ‘a valid objection for the reason that mariners are already conversant with the laws of the States on these subjects, and all they will require to be conversant with now in addition will be this law on the limited subjects with which it deals.
– They will require to’ know the States laws, the Commonwealth law, and the Imperial law.
– There is no reason why the Bill should not deal fully with the subjects with which it professes to deal. That is what should be done. If the Bill does not deal thoroughly with the subjects with which it professes to deal, the honorable senator will be able to see that it is made to cover them. The striking feature of the Bill seems to me to be the principle that Australian coasting trade should be reserved for ships observing uniform conditions. That is the main principle around which the Bill hinges. It is a principle which no Australian can cavil at, whether he be a free-trader or a protectionist. Because while free-traders have a very strong objection to what is called the encouragement of industries by means of Customs duties, no free-trader would be so insane as to suggest that we should allow a factory to be established here under one set of conditions and another factory to be established under another set of conditions. I take it that every free-trader who is at all intelligent must say that in Australia we should have for our competing manufacturers and our competing ship-owners equal conditions. I believe that such equal conditions can be established under such a Bill, as this. Roughly, we may say that the desired end in a Navigation Bill is that it should provide for the following conditions: - The protection of Australian shipping against unfair competition; the registration of vessels engaged in the coasting trade; the efficient manning of vessels; proper life-saving equipment; the regulation of hours and conditions of work; proper accommodation for passengers and seamen.
– All confined to coasting vessels?
– All confined to vessels engaged in our coasting trade.
– Why have any exemptions ?
– There are some reasons, which I will mention presently, why we should have exemptions. -The further condition is that the Bill should provide for proper loading gear and the inspection of the same. I hope that we shall not forget, in our anxiety . to do justice to the seamen, that there is a class of men engaged in work that will be affected by this Bill, for whom proper safeguards should be provided. I refer to the class engaged in loading and unloading the ships that come to our ports. There is a pretty heavy death roll, and also a heavy roll of men incapacitated owing to defective gear whilst working at loading and unloading ships; and we have an excellent opportunity now to safeguard those workers. I am glad to say that from the Attorney-General we have received a- cordial invitation, of which I hope honorable senators will avail themselves, to attempt to shape this Bill in any direction we think good. The Attorney-General showed- himself to be possessed of a perfectly open mind when, in reply to an interjection, he said that if the provisions did not meet with approval, amendments would be received by the Government in the most friendly -spirit.
– The Government will be pleased to receive any suggestions whatever.
– But does the Bill provide for the conditions I have enumerated? Part VII. professes to deal with the protection of Australian trade against unfair competition, but I fancy that on investigation these professions will prove groundless. Clause 298, sub-clause a, which deals with the coastal trade, provides that no foreign vessel shall engage in that trade unless licensed to do so, and -
That the seamen employed on the ship shall be paid wages in accordance with this part of the Act.
Honorable senators will find that Part II. deals with British ships, and enforces certain conditions relating to wages, discipline, and other matters; and while in Part VII. only seven clauses are found necessary to control foreign vessels, no fewer than 29 clauses are required in Part II. enforcing the wages conditions for British and Australian vessels.
– Clause 300 provides for the payment of the current Australian rates.
– These are the machinery clauses for safeguarding the payment of wages.
– There are special clauses to that end.
– But the clauses as to foreign ships are not nearly so stringent or far-reaching as those in regard to the payment of wages on the British ships. A foreign ship engaged in the Australian coasting trade should be subject to exactly the same machinery, if not machinery a little more stringent than that applied to an Australian or British ship.
– As regards wages?
– And other conditions.
– At present I am dealing with the question of wages only. The fact that only seven clauses are found necessary to regulate foreign shipping, as compared with 29 clauses to regulate British and Australian shipping, would seem to show that in the opinion of the Government it will be more difficult to catch the local ship-owner than to catch the foreign ship-owner.
– Is it quite clear that the 29 clauses in Part II. do not apply to Part VII. ?
– Quite clear. But that is not the greatest weakness in the Bill. Clause 306 gives the Governor-General power to altogether exempt vessels from the operation of the Bill. That clause reads as follows : -
The Governor-General may, if he thinks fit, by proclamation, exempt ships registered in or sailing under the flag of any foreign country from the provisions of this part of this Act requiring such ship to be licensed before they engage in the coasting trade, if he is satisfied that by the law of that country British ships may engage in the coasting trade of that country without a licence and as freely as ships registered in or sailing under the flag of that country.
According to that clause, we practically say to Germany - “You give us nothing, and, therefore, we will give you something ; Australian ships do not trade around your coast, and are not likely to do so; but, because you allow British ships to trade round your coast, we shall allow your ships to trade around the Australian coast on your conditions, or on any conditions.1’ Senator Symon last night worked himself up into a fearful rage about the exemption of Western Australia, although that is a mere “fleabite” compared with the exemption which may be made under clause 306. . The honorable and learned senator “ strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.”
– I hope we shall swallow neither.
– Whetherwe do so or not, clause 306 does not mean the exemption of any part of the coast for a time, but the exemption of all the coast for all time.
– And merely by proclamation.
– That is so. With the preferential trade idea in the air we shall have the Governor-General taking this clause as an instruction that all countries which give the right of the coastal trade toBritish ships shall be free to trade all round the Australian coast. I should now like to deal with the provisions as to conditions of labour. Part II. deals with such matters as the supply of seamen, apprentices, rating of seamen, discipline, provisions, health, accommodation, protection of seamen, and other matters, in regard to all of which British and Australian ships have to observe the conditions prescribed in the Bill. So far as I cansee, foreign ships which are dealt with in Part VII. are exempt from all the provisions in regard to the matters I have just enumerated.
– A foreign ship is subject to the Bill only in regard to manning and wages.
– I suppose we cannot interfere with foreign ships in regard to the other matters?
– If we have power to interfere in the matter of wages surely we have power to interfere in the matter of, say, the number of apprentices to be employed. It is incomprehensible that the Government should say - “ We have powerto deal with the matter of wages, but no power to make laws as to the air, space, the number of apprentices, and so forth.” The fact that Part II. imposes all these restrictions on the Australian and British ship-owners, and does not apply them to the foreign ship-owner, makes this a measure to protect foreign shipping on the Australian coast. The British ship-owner should be placed in no worse a position than is the foreign ship-owner in reference to the essential conditions of labour.
– We must show that we have powerto do so.
– We have power to do so, and foreign ship-owners who will not comply with the restrictions will not trade on the coast; that is all that can happen.
– Before the licence for coastal trading is issued to a foreign ship, the captain will be told that he must observe those conditions.
– The honorable senator is now dealing with a. different part of the Bill.
– I am pointing out the connexion there is between Part II. and Part VII.
– Supposing we bring foreign shipping under Part II., as I think we can, foreignvesselswould not come here, and Ave should then be cut off from trade with several parts of theworld.
– These clauses do not affect over-sea vessels, but only foreign vesselswhich take out licences for the coasting trade. Why should a foreign vessel be exempt from conditions that are in force on British ships? Another matter is that of the employment of foreigners on ships engaged in the Australian coastal trade. TheGovernment have seen fit to provide that officers applying for certificates shall be British subjects, speaking the English language.
– Absurd !
– Whether it be absurd or not, if it is a good principle to apply to the officers, is it not a good principle to apply to seamen? The fact that theGovernment are at this moment considering a proposal to establish a naval reserve, is at any rate apowerful reason why at least three-fourths of acrew should be British subjects. In England at the present time evidence is being taken on this question, and in the Melbourne Age of 4 th January there appeared this paragraph
Australian reformers in general, and Australian seamen in particular, will be interested in a Bill to amend the Merchant Shipping Acts which Lord Wolverton has introduced in the House of Lords. Its principal feature is a clause intended to ensure an adequate knowledge of the English language by foreign seamenon British ships after 31st December, 1906. The section is not aimed at Lascars or African blacks, who are expressly excluded, but it represents a step in the direction of securing for British ships Englishspeaking crews’. Another clause follows up a recommendation of the Royal Commission on Labour (1894) with reference to ships’ cooks. It provides that every British foreign-going ship of 1,000 tons gross leaving a British port must carry a “ competent certificated cook.” It is also provided that all British foreign-going ships whose voyage exceeds 21 days shall have their provisions inspected.
I quote that only to show that we are not indulging in any revolutionary idea, when we suggest that if the officers must be all British, at least three-fourths of the crew should be British.
– Lord Wolverton refers only to the speaking of the English language, and does not propose the exclusion of foreigners.
– If the condition as to language is laid down, no doubt a greater proportion of the crews would be British. I am sure the Senate must have been struck with the peculiar position taken up by Senator Symon on this Bill. The position which the honorable and learned member saw fit to take up upon the Bill, seems, to me, to have been this : He said - “This Bill will not attain its object, and I am, therefore, opposed to it. If this Bill did attain its object, I should still be opposed to it.” It does seem to me peculiar, that the honorable and learned senator should argue, first of all, that we have no power to do many of the things we are trying to do, and that, if we did them, our action would be unconstitutional and of no effect, and then that, if we could do them, and did them rightly, he would still be opposed to our action.
– That is perfectly consistent.
– It may be ; but it is a peculiar statement for the honorable and learned senator to make when he knows, as he does, that it is probable that, within the next few months, there will be an Arbitration Bill passed which will compel the Australian ship-owners, at any rate, to observe certain conditions. The honorable and learned senator is prepared to allow foreign ships to come in and share in the trade without observing those conditions.
– He is not in the secrets of the Labour Party.
– Is it a secret of the Labour Party that there is a prospect of an Arbitration Bill being passed ? I read some time ago in the Melbourne Argus, that Senator Dobson, addressing a meeting in Tasmania, said that he was in favour of an Arbitration Bill.
– A voluntary measure.
– Whatever shape the Bill was to assume, that statement appeared in the Argus, and was not contradicted, and if Senator Dobson is in favour of an Arbitration Bill, we may assume that there is a reasonable prospect that such a Bill will become law sooner or later.
Whilst Senator Symon’ s attack on the Bill as a whole seemed to me to be anything but Australian, his attack on the exemption in favour of mail steamers trading with Western Australia seemed to me to be highly parochial. The honorable and learned senator looked at the question through South Australian spectacles, and could see nothing but Port Adelaide. His vision was so obscured that the whole of the interests of Australia in this question appeared to him to be bound up with the interests of that port. I laid down the condition at the outset that we should protect Australian shipping from outside competition, and dealing with the exemptions of mail steamers trading between . South Australia and Western Australia I contend that I can support that exemption consistently with my claim for the protection of Australian shipping from unfair competition.
– I should like to hear the honorable senator do so.
– If Senator Dawson remains in the Chamber he will hear me do so. I should like first of all to point out that the persons primarily interested in the question are the Australian ship-owners.
– The Australian seamen.
– I shall show that they dare not say, have not said, and cannot say that the competition of the mail steamers trading between Western Australia and Adelaide constitutes unfair competition.
– It does. Senator PEARCE.- In the Argus of 1 2th December, 1903, I find this correspondence on the subject -
To the Editor of the Argus.
Sir, - In the absence of any public statement from the Australasian Steam-ship Owners’ Federation as to the true position occupied by the managements oi the P. and O. Company and Orient-Pacific line as to the intercolonial trade, and in. order that the public may have a proper understanding of that position, we ask you to publish the enclosed correspondence. This we insider goes to show that those responsible for the management of the two mail companies have throughout shown a desire not to interfere with >e coastal companies, and to the extent of refusing all cargo for intercolonial ports, and maintaining their passage rates between ports on the coast on a much higher level - in fact, our second class fares are in almost every instance in excess of the coastal companies’ charge for first class. - Yours, &c,
G. Wesche, acting agent P. and O. S.N. Company.
Anderson, general manager in Australia Orient-Pacific line of steamers. Sydney, December ro.
Here is the correspondence referred to in that letter : -
Sydney, 22nd September.
Dear Sir, - Referring to Mr. Anderson’s recent conversation with you on the subject of the threatened restrictive legislation regarding the Australian coastal trade, we desire, on behalf of the British mail companies, to put the following to your association : -
These proposals are being much discussed in the press and in Parliament, but we observe no public acknowledgment on the part of your association of the policy which we have hitherto pursued of declining all coastal freight business, and maintaining our passage rates at a much higher level than those of the Australian companies.
Consequently there will naturally be some feeling in the public mind that our companies are concerned in the “ cruel competition “ made so much of by Hie maritime trades unions and their political allies. In view of the regard we have always evinced for the interests of Australian companies, this position is entirely unsatisfactory to us. The value of our abstention from your cargo trade, and the sacrifice thereby involved on our part, may be illustrated by the fact that frequently the rates of freight offering on Australian stages of our voyage are double what we can obtain between Sydney and London - from five to ten times the distance. We desire, therefore, to know definitely what your association intends to do in the circumstances. Obviously, if your association is to hunt with the hounds, which are after the proposed legislative quarry, you cannot expect us to permit you at the same time to run with the hare which carries the mail companies’ support of your trade.
The occasion seems to us to call for some public declaration from you to the effect that your association does not regard our services as competing with its own, and asks for no legislation imposing restrictions upon them. - We are, &c, A. G. Wesche, Acting Agent P. and O.S.N. Company.
General Manager Orient-Pacific Line. Senator Givens. - They bounced them into it.
– They absolutely threatened them.
– Those statements cannot be called threats.
– This is the reply of the local steam-ship companies: -
Australasian Steam-ship Owners’ Federation, 26th October. Dear Sirs, - Following my acknowledgment of yours re conversation between Mr. Anderson and myself on the proposed legislation for the Australian coastal trade, after consultation with my fellow members, and careful consideration of the whole position, I beg to advise you that it is deemed unwise to make any public pronouncement in respect to the policy hitherto pursued by your companies in refraining from competition’ for cargo, and maintaining a higher schedule of fares for passengers.
You are no doubt well aware of recent events culminating in the withdrawal of Mr. Kingston from the Federal Ministry, and the ultimate failure of the Government to carry the proposed legislation for conciliation and arbitration, and until the whole question is revived - which may not be for a very long period - we think it advisable to give no occasion for further controversy in the public press.
– A very shabby reply to a generous policy.
– The letter pro- .ceeds : -
The facts that on the Australian coast you refrain from carrying cargo, and that you charge higher fares than the local companies, are well known to all, and it should suffice if we advise you that such action is now and always has been appreciated by the companies belonging to the federation. At the same time, we believe this policy has been in the best interests of your mail and passenger services, and has probably been the most profitable, one for your companies.
I cannot close without expressing my sincere regret for the tenor of your last sentence but one. That you should have considered it necessary to adapt - for the purpose of expressing yourselves - an old adage, which by inference is. in the nature of a threat, seems to us inconsistent with the relations I presumed to exist between us when discussing this subject.
Neither now, nor at any time, would we wish for legislation inimical to British shipping interests, and all we desire is a fair field and no favour. - I am, &c,
T. Appleton, Chairman.
– That is all we ask.
– The representatives of the mail steamers replied on 29th October as follows : -
Sydney, 29th October.
Dear Sir, - We Would now acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 26th inst., replying to ours of the 22nd September, and read with considerable regret the decision arrived at by your association. We cannot agree with you that the action of the English mail companies in abstaining from Competing for cargo and passengers on the coast is well known to the electors of the Commonwealth. Our opinion is that the reverse is the case, and that this is due to the speeches of politicians who have lost no opportunity of reflecting on the opposition (so called) which the coastal companies have received from the English mail companies. In any case, their statements stand, and we consider that nothing short of a public announcement by the Australasian steam-ship owners, such .as was indicated in ours of the 22nd ult., will suffice to give the public a full understanding of the position. As to the time such a statement should be made, it appears to us that no time can be better than the present, being, as we are, within six weeks of the Federal elections. To allow any dubiety to exist as to the position is to leave the electors in ignorance, and to do so would be inimical not only to our interests, but, in our opinion, to those of the community generally.
As to your reference to the last sentence but one in our letter of the 22nd ult., we would say we considered that the public would read into your continued silence an acquiescence in the statements so freely and publicly made, and thereby subject us to a passive opposition to our interests which our policy has not deserved. We have had, and continue to have, an anxiety to work in harmony with your association, but a continuance of good relations must, we contend, be dependent on a mutual regard for our respective interests. - We are, &c,
Acting Agent P. and O. S.N. Company.
General Manager Orient-Pacific Line.
– There is no justification there for the clauses dealing with the coastal trade.
– To this the Australian steam-ship owners replied : -
Australasian Steam-ship Owners’ Federation, 30th October. Dear Sirs, - I beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 29th inst., which will have my attention. - Your-6, &c,
Sydney, 23rd November. W. T. Appleton, Esq., Chairman Australasian Steam-ship Owners’ Federation.
Dear Sir, - With reference to the letters which have passed between us, viz., those from us dated 22nd September and 29th October, and your replies of 26th October and 30th October, we shall be glad if you will favour us with your final decision as to the matter at issue. - Yours, &c, A. G. Wesche, Acting Agent P. and O. S.N. Company.
The following letter was sent by Mr. Appleton yesterday :J-
Dear Sirs, - I regret having been unable to answer yours of 29th October earlier, but in order that your repeated request for a public pronouncement by the Australian owners upon the question of the mail companies’ policy in the Australian coastal trade might have full consideration, I have given ample time for the reconsideration of the decision conveyed to you.
I now desire to inform you that we still differ from you as to the necessity for any public representations on our part, and our decision remains unaltered.
As to the statements made by politicians reflecting upon the mail companies, you are in no way singular, as we have quite a plethora of reports of speeches of politicians , who have made utterly absurd and inaccurate statements reflecting on the Australian owners, and even in this case we have hitherto refrained from dealing with these irresponsible people, preferring, as far as possible, to treat these statements with the contempt they deserve. - I am, &c,
– Mr. Kingston and the Labour Party were fighting the battles of the local company, and they dare not hoist their flag. That is what I gather from all that.
– The honorable and learned senator might gather something more if he looked closely into it.
Senator PEARCE. In confirmation of the statements made in that correspondence,
I shall quote the fares charged by the mail steamers as compared with those charged by the coastal steamers. The fares charged by the mail steamers from Sydney to Melbourne are: - First class, £4; second class, £3 ; third class, £1 ids. By the coasters. - First class, £2 ; steerage, £1. From Sydney to Adelaide, Mail Steamers. - First class, £7 10s. ; second class, £$ ; third class, £2 5s. ; Coasters. - First class, £3 15s. ; steerage, £1 15s. From Sydney to Fremantle, Mail Steamers. - First class, £14; second class, .£11; third class, £6; Coasters. - First class, £9 ; steerage, £5. From Melbourne to Adelaide, Mail Steamers. - First class, £4 ; second class, £3 ; third class. £1 10s. ; Coasters. - £2 ; steerage, £1. From Melbourne to Fremantle, Mail Steamers. - First class, £12; second class, £9; third class, £5 ; Coasters. - First class, £7 ; steerage, £4. From Adelaide to Fremantle, Mail Steamers. - First class, £9 ; second class, class ; third class, £4; Coasters. - First class, £5 5s. ; steerage, £5 10s.
– There is no unfair competition there.
– I would ask where does the unfair competition come in in connexion with those fares, so far as the trade between Western Australia and South Australia is concerned?
– Where does it come in with respect to other places in the Commonwealth ?
– - As regards the cargo trade there is no competition, because the mail steamers do not take a single ton of cargo.
– What does it cost to earn that?
– The mail steamers engage their seamen in England, and I presume pay the English rate of wages, which is lower than the Australian rate.
– Some of them are engaged in Calcutta at 16s. 8d. a month.
– Yes, unfortunately. The mail steamers run under another disadvantage as compared with the coasting steamers. By waiting two or three days at Fremantle, a mail steamer might get two or three hundred passengers, or a hundred tons of cargo. It is the custom of many men go to Melbourne, either to see the Melbourne Cup run, or to spend Christmas with their friends. The departure of the mail steamers is timed, not to suit the running of the Melbourne Cup, but to suit the terms of the mail contract. If a mail steamer could afford to wait for two days in Fremantle, in order to suit the passengers who are coming down from the fields, she could get hundreds of passengers, where she now gets dozens of them. Owing to the fact that the mail steamers are bound down to run to time, they cannot cater for the passenger trade in the same way as coasting steamers can do. They stop the required time at each port until they get to Sydney, where they remain generally for a fortnight, and in some cases for three weeks. While they are refitting they are earning nothing; they are paying wages and spending money in the port all the time. When an InterState steamer arrives in Sydney from Fremantle she does not remain in port one hour longer than is required to unload and load, with the result that she- is earning money all the time. While she does pay the higher rate, her earning capacity is doubled, because she does not put in a fortnight in Sydney.
– The honorable senator is making out a good case against Part VII.
– I shall show the honorable senator by-and-by, why I think that part should be retained with the exemption. One criterion by which we can judge the earning power of these steamship companies is the relative profits which they make. . I make bold to say that the Australian steamship companies .have made, and are making, greater profits than the mail steamship companies. I go further, and say that they are making these profits as the result of their participation in the Western Australian trade. Until the Western Australian trade assumed the proportions -which it has done, in many cases these steamship companies were not paying dividends, but since the inception of that trade, and almost wholly out of the trade, they have not only paid good dividends, but built new vessels out of profits and added money to their reserve funds.
– No wonder that they want a monopoly of it.
– Why the exemptions?
– I am pointing out that there is no unfair competition. The fact that the companies can make these profits shows that there is no unfair competition. From the Melbourne Argus of the 17th March last I shall ‘read an extract to show the profits which have been made -
The accounts of three of the Australasiansteamship companies have been made available. The Union S.S. Company balances to the 30th September, and the Melbourne S.S. Company and Howard Smith Company Limited to the end of December. The results for the last twelve months and the chief ‘accounts compare thus -
Union S.S. Co. - Capital, ,£600,000; debentures, £209,978; fleet and properties, *£914,987 net profits, £64,628.
Howard Smith - Capital, £389,732; debentures, nil; fleet and properties, £314,321; net profits, £31,907
Melbourne S.S..C0. - Capital, £75,000; debentures, nil; fleet and properties, £168,789; net profits, £7,935.
*Includes £84,poo paid on account of new steamers.
The Union S.S. Company has an insurance fund of £257,741 and a new boiler account of £25,000. The Melbourne S.S. Company has an insurance fund of £44,000 ; depreciation account, £44,000 ; new boilers and repairs account, £7,500. The capital of these three companies i9 £1,064,732, and the debentures raise the total to £1,274,710. The fleets and properties of the Union. S.S. Company and Howard Smith Company stand in the books “ less depreciation,” and those of the Melbourne S.S. Company at cost, but a depreciation reserve of £44,000 has been accumulated by the last company. The Union Company paid 8 per cent, to shareholders for the last year, the Howard Smith Company 10 per cent, to ordinary and .5 per cent, to preference shareholders, and the Melbourne S.S. Company equal to 12 per cent.
For the year ending May, 1901, the Adelaide Steamship Company earned profits to the amount of *£47,041, paid .£25,395 in dividends, which was at the rate of 5 per cent., and carried to reserves the enormous sum of £21,682. I would remind honorable senators that during the last few years this company has built three or four newsteamers out of profits.
– Where are thev ?
– The Yongala, the Grantala, and a new vessel whose name, I think, is the Minilya. For the year ending May, 1902, the company made £91,329 in profits, paid £50.718 in dividends, which was at the rate of 10 per cent., and carried £40,611- to reserves. For the thirteen’ months ending June, 1903, the company made £94,978 in profits, paid £50,718.113 dividends, and carried £44,260 to reserves, bringing their total reserves up to £106,553. Another point that I wish to emphasize is that there are two vessels trading to Western Australia - the Kyarra and the Kanowna - which are equal to any of the mail steamers. They do the trip as quickly, have as much accommodation, and carry almost, if not quite, as many passengers- as any of the mail steamers do; but they charge a 25 per cent, lower passenger fare. They carry cargo and live stock. On every trip thev are loaded to the hatches with cargo, and have a full passenger list. .Where, then, does the unfair competition come in ? And why did the company build these steamers ? Simply and solely because of the Western Australian trade. I have been, informed by one of their officers that but for that trade these steamers would be. white elephants. I wish to point out why the position of Western Australia differs from that of other States. In Western Australia we are entirely dependent on shipping for our communication with the eastern States.
– Is not Tasmania?
– Yes; but while the passage from Tasmania to Melbourne takes less than twenty-four hours, the passage from Port Adelaide to Fremantle takes “four days.
– It is only a difference in degree.
– That is sufficient to justify the exemption.
– New South Wales is just as much isolated from Western Australia as Western Australia is from New South Wales.
– In the case of a passenger going from Sydney to Western Australia, if the accommodation on the steamer is not sufficient, or if the fare is exorbitant, he can go by rail as far as Adelaide. If the Bill is passed, with the exemption, he will have the alternative of the railway fare, which compares rather favorably with the first-class saloon fare charged by the boats. But the passenger from Western Australia will have no such alternative. I wish to give some of the reasons why Western Australia claims that this special exemption should be made. The great bulk of our population came over to Western Australia when the mail steamers did not call at Fremantle. The considerate, local steamship companies in those times charged .£7 for a single steerage fare from Adelaide to Fremantle. Since the advent of the mail steamers, which have given to Western Australia an alternative line - although they charge higher fares - the local companies are making 10 per cent, profit on a fare of £2 for a steerage passenger. When honorable senators recollect that fact they will cease to wonder at the strong feeling which exists in Western Australia against going back to the old condition of affairs. In the old days overcrowding was rampant, the food was unfit for human consumption, and passengers had to take whatever was offered to them because there was no alternative. It has been the advent of the mail steamers, and not the administration of the Marine Boards, that has caused the Australian steam-ship companies to put decent boats on the line, and to give us decent accommodation and decent food. I want to give the- Senate a comparison to show that the local companies have had the best of the pudding right through, whilst there was the greatest influx of population to Western Australia, and they had the line to themselves. We shall be told later on - “Leave it to the local steam-ship companies, and they will provide the public with good boats.” But during nearly ten years, when the local companies had a monopoly without interference from mail steamers, they never put a new boat on the line.
– What about the Marloo ?
– It is true that they sometimes sent old tubs to England, lengthened them a bit, or put new pieces on to them, attached new names to them, and brought them out as new steamers. I remember an old tub that used to take ten days on the voyage from Adelaide to Fremantle. The passengers boycotted her. They were afraid of her becoming a death-trap. She suddenly disappeared. She certainly was not wrecked, and people wondered what had become of her. But later on one of the companies announced that a new fast ship would be put on to carry passengers at reduced rates. People took tickets by that boat. She took a very long time to reach Adelaide, and while they were on the voyage the passengers had opportunities to make a search, and then they were able to recognise an old acquaintance under a new name.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that if this exemption is not secured the service will go back to the old condition ?
– Yes; the mail steamers will cease to call at Fremantle. There are others besides the Western Australians “who hold that opinion very strongly, and have expressed it on the public platform. The only one of the mail steamer companies that pays a dividend is, I believe, the P. and 0. Company, which has paid 5 per cent. I understand that the Orient Company has not paid a dividend for ten years.
– If the honorable senator’s arguments are valid, they are valid against the whole Bill.
– I intend to show that they are not valid against the Bill as a whole. Now for the comparison. In 1897, prior to the advent of the mail steamers at Fremantle, there were 76,254 passengers in and out of Western Australia. To carry those passengers there were 1,428 vessels, with a total capacity of 2,377,832 tons, or one passenger per 31 tons. In 1898 there were 61,554 passengers in and out, 1,264 vessels with a total capacity of 2,389,626 tons, or one passenger per 38$ tons. Then the mail steamers came on the scene, and the following figures show the comparison. In 1901 there were 53,540 passengers in and out, and 1,785 vessels, with a total capacity of 3,714,263 tons, or one passenger for 60 tons. In 1902 there were 58,861 passengers in and out,’ and 1,528 vessels, with a capacity of 3>358,o74 tons, or one passenger per 57 tons. Those figures show that since the advent of the mail steamers the accommodation has greatly improved, as compared, with the condition of things when the local steam-ship companies had a monopoly of the trade. Western Australia, in entering this Federation, had one serious objectionto contemplate. It was the objection which left New Zealand out of the Federation. In Western Australia it was thought that that objection could not be overcome. I venture to say that that State would today be outside the Federation had not the people been persuaded that it could be overcome. I was one of those who in season and out of season took the platform in favour of Federation. One of the strongest objections we had to meet was that bi ought forward by the anti-Billites, that we were isolated from the Commonwealth, and should remain isolated, because the eastern States would not give us that communication with them that those States had with each other. I venture to say that had it not been for statements made by such prominent federalists as Senator Symon–
– What statement did I make?
– Statements that led us to believe that as the result of Federation that isolation would be removed.
– I never made that statement.
– The statement is in print, and I can supply the honorable and learned senator with it. It was a distinct bid for the Western Australian vote. He said he believed that one of the results of Federation would be that the eastern States would see the necessity of being coupled by rail with Western Australia.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– I have a distinct recollection of- that statement being made, and I can, after a little search, produce it. It may not be in those exact terms, but the purport of it was that prominent federalists recognised that the bar to Federation existed in our isolation, and that he believed that -.Federation would remove that bar.
– Senator Symon never said the opposite in Kalgoorlie.
– I never said anything of that kind.
– The statement has been repeated on the platforms of Western Australia over and over again.
– Not any statement of mine.
– Senator Symon said what he believed, not what he would do.
– We looked upon him as one who would always be prepared to do what he thought was right. The fact is incontrovertible that the leading politicians of South Australia particularly did give us their word and bond that that isolation would be removed.
– How could they do that ?
-.We had Sir Frederick Holder’s promise and that of Mr. Kingston when they- occupied positions in the South Australian Ministry. They pledged themselves that on Western Australia entering into the Federation they- would introduce a Bill to give permission to the Commonwealth to construct the necessary railway. We had a similar pledge from other South Australians that they would assist us to remove the isolation.
– The Western Australian Government refused to have anything to do with it at that time.
– The point I wish to make is this: - that when members of the Federal League, of which I was one, echoed these statements from prominent South Australian politicians and Ministers, which were published broadcast throughout South Australia, they used them to show that Federation would remove the present isolation. It was because we were able to do that that we succeeded in getting a majority in favour of the Commonwealth Bill. The statements of the South Australian politicians were the biggest factor in inducing Western Australia to enter the Federation.
– Surely Western Australia did not recognise the South Australians as representing all Australia?
– No; but we recognised that if the South Australians took that attitude, the good sense of the Tas- manians and others would induce them to support it.
– Does, the honorable senator admit that Federation has resulted in an increase of the revenue of Western Australia by £200,000 a year?
Sentaor PEARCE. - If Senator Dawson were speaking on the other side of the fiscal question he would say that the Government of the Commonwealth was wringing out of the withers of the Western Australian taxpayers £200,000 ‘a year. But the point is that the exclusion of the mail steamers from the traffic between, Western Australia and South Australia will not only have the effect of ‘keeping up the isolation that now exists, but of intensifying it, and of getting back to the state of things that existed before we accepted Federation. We have the assurance that if this Bill is passed in its present form, the mail companies will cease to call at intermediate ports, but will drop their mails, passengers, and cargoes at one port,- where they will have to be transhipped to other ports of Australia.
– What port is that one likely to be?
– It is quite clear that in the minds of the South Australians Port Adelaide will in future be the Mecca of the mail steamers. For instance. Senator Guthrie is reported in the South Australian Register, of 6th October, 1903, to have spoken as follows: -
The time was not far distant when mail steamers would have to abandon their coastal trade. The day would come when the goods carried by those ‘boats would be discharged into smaller coasting vessels, and when that day arrived Port Adelaide, by its geographical position, would become the first port of the Commonwealth.
How do the representatives of New South Wales, who listened to the brilliant attack of the honorable and learned senator last night upon the exemption clauses of this Bill, like that? I trust they will remember the solidarity that always exists amongst the South Australian representatives whenever the interests of their State are affected. I fancy we may assume that underlying all these legal subtleties, and all the rhetoric we heard last night from Senator Symon, are the sentiments which Senator Guthrie so eloquently expressed in Adelaide.
– The honorable senator ought to read the context ; it is too bad to pick out one or two extracts.
– Does Senator Guthrie deny the statements which have been attributed to him ?
– I shall deal with the matter by-and-by.
– I have shown that it is not necessary to compel the mail steamers, trading between Western Australia and the Eastern States, to come under this Bill in order to safeguard Australian shipping from unfair competition. I have been asked why it is necessary to bring the mail steamers under the Bill in reference to the rest of Australia ; and my reply is, that in the other parts of Australia there is the alternative of railway communication, while the local mercantile marine is far superior to that of Western Australia. Until the shipping companies of Australia got control of the Western Australian trade, they were not making profits,- and that proves that there is, in the rest of Australia, some competition which is unfair. I shall point out what that competition is; and if those who direct so much indignation against these clauses would bestow a little more attention in this direction, they would do more in the interests of the Australian seamen. The competition to which I refer is that of the tramp steamers, owned by foreigners in most cases, but in some cases by Britishers - steamers which have small crews at low rates of wages, and which observe scarcely any of the regulations for .which the Bill provides.
– The same remark might apply to the P. and O. steamers.
– These tramp steamers, unlike the P. and 0. boats, carry on a cargo trade from -port to port, and very’ often, in order to get a profitable cargo at’ a particular port, will carry cargo to that port as ballast, or practically for’ nothing. There is no doubt that tramp steamers do exercise a most unfair competition ; and that is why the Bill should apply to all the rest of Australia.
– The competition of the steamship companies will not affect the tramp steamers.
– So far as the cargo trade to Western Australia is concerned, let every single ton be carried under those conditions, and so in regard to two-thirds of the passengers. All we ask is that in order that we may not be further isolated from the Commonwealth - until there is an Inter-State railway - the facilities that the one-third are enjoying should be allowed to continue.
– Can the honorable senator tell us the tonnage of the tramp steamers carrying on trade in Australia ?
– I cannot; but I know that these steamers enter into very serious competition with the Australian cargo trade. It is notorious that these steamers carry coal at unpayable rates, and some of them trade from two to twelve months on the Australian coast. If we could compel the tramp steamers to observe local conditions we should be doing something tangible in the interests #of Australian seamen and ship-owners. As to the mail steamers, they have the alternative of ceasing to call at Fremantle, or the other alternative - of which, however, I do not suppose they would avail themselves - of arranging with their crews to evade the provisions of the Bill. The mail steamship companies could, if they liked, arrange to pay their crews the wages provided under the Bill, and to deduct the extra amount from the wages paid during the other part of the voyage, so that the wages for the whole trip would remain as at present.
– Such a stipulation could not be put in the articles.
– There is a clause the object of which is to prevent such an arrangement.
– Is there anything to prevent the steam-ship companies paying their sailors a less rate for the remainder of the voyage?
– Surely the men could not sign for less than 1.5s. 46. per month.
– The seamen, who would receive the same sum as at present for the round trip, would feel that they were placed at no disadvantage, and there would be a disposition on their part toaccept the terms.
– Some of the men on. the mail steamers receive only £2 5s. for the trip from England and back again. How could the Bill possibly be evaded, even if a company kept back the whole of the wages for the rest of the trip?
– The provisions of the Bill could not be evaded, so long as the wages were placed on the articles.
– Clause 302 provides that seamen’s rights shall not be affected by agreement.
– That clause provides for the payment of wages before leaving the port; but what may not be done afterwards ? As I have said, I do not think the mail steam-ship companies would avail themselves of such an alternative, but thereare reasonable grounds for assuming that they might decide to call at one port only in Australia. That port would not be Fremantle, because there is no railway communication from Western Australia to the eastern States; and the port selected would probably be one on the east coast.
– The mail steamers must call at Fremantle to discharge outward passengers and cargo.
– And mails.
– Representatives of the mail-ship companies have said that if these conditions are laid down certain events may happen.
– Oh, they have said all sorts of things !
– The mail steamers call at Fremantle simply in order to get passengers, and if they are not allowed to take passengers why should they call?
– Under the agreement with the British Government they must call at some place in Western Australia.
– Has Senator Playford seen the contract? The arrangement as to the calling of the mail steamers at the port was made on Australian representation, and not on the initiative of the British Government. We .have no guarantee that under the agreement the steamers can be compelled to call at Fremantle. There is one further thought connected with these exemption clauses which I desire to submit to the Senate. During the last twelve months the question of the mail services between Australia and the United Kingdom has been very prominently before the people and before this Parliament. We are all aware that there has been some difficulty in arranging satisfactorily for those mail services, and that no suitable tenders were received by the Government. There are those who say that this was due to the fact that the shipping companies object to the provisions with respect to white crews contained in the Post and Telegraph Act.
– The honorable senator does not dispute that ? Senator PEARCE. - I do dispute it. Judging by the correspondence, I believe that the disinclination on the part of the shipping companies to tender was due as much to the regulations providing for refrigerating chambers as to anything else. To comply with those regulations would involve expenditure on expensive machinery, and, in some instances, a structural alteration of the ships, and I have no doubt they operated to prevent tenders being sent in.
– That was one of the elements.
– Some of the shipping companies in their correspondence make this their only objection, and make no mention whatever of the necessity for white crews being considered an objection. We are aware that, from whatever cause, the Government have had some difficulty in making suitable arrangements for mail services with the United Kingdom, and in the face of that I ask honorable senators to seriously consider whether they should, in this Bill, give the steam-ship companies an additional reason for discontinuing their services to Australia. I have spoken chiefly on the question of the exemption of Western Australian trade under the Bill, but I am free to admit that there is much to be said on the question, whether it is advisable to include these ocean-going mail steam-ships under this Bill at all. The Senate might seriously inquire whether any good result will follow from the bringing of ocean-going ships within the scope of the Bill. If the honorable senators do not agree that they should not be included, I hope that they will at least insist that Western Australia shall be given the concession proposed.
– We cannot, the Constitution will not allow us.
– If it will not, that is an additional reason for the exemption generally of the ocean-going mail steamers from the operation of the Bill.
—Why not exempt passengers, and leave the cargo?
– That would practically be the exemption of steamers carrying only mails and passengers. Setting aside the question of the general exemption of ocean-going mail steamers, and summarizing the Western Australian position, it is this. If the conditions, as between the States are made equal, we, from Western Australia, will be willing to accept the disabilities, if any, of an equal law, but, until the conditions’ are made equal, we contend that this law would impose a disability upon us which it would not impose upon the other States.
– It is a very fortunate thing for the people of the Commonwealth that the Bill does create this difficulty for the people of Western Australia, otherwise the honorable senator would go for the blessed thing.
– That is a very novel way of looking at it.
– It is true.
– Leaving that question, I have to refer to what I regard as a very serious omission from the Bill, and that is the absence of any provision for fire-drill. There is provision made in it for boat-drill, but we know that steam-ships especially run as great a risk of fire as of shipwreck. I have travelled round the coast of Australia by mail steamers, and by locally owned steam ships, and although I have frequently seen both boat-drill and firedrill carried out on the mail steamers, I have never yet seen either boat or fire-drill on any of the locally owned steamers by which I have travelled. We should enforce fire-drill as well as boat-drill, so that when the occasion arises the men will be prompt to go to their fire stations, and will know what to do.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the coasting steamers are putting out boats at every port, whilst the mail steamers do not do so.
– Senator Guthrie will admit that the rule is to keep one boat for that purpose, the davits of which are always well greased, whilst the other boats are never attended to at all.
– That is very rough on the inspectors.
– I hope that the provisions for boat and fire-drill will be made very stringent. Another matter suggested to me by Senator Guthrie has brought before my mind scenes which I have, often witnessed in travelling between Western Australia and the eastern States. I refer to the overcrowding of cattle on. cargo steamships. I venture to say that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals might well turn its attention to the subject, and inquire into the way in which cattle are crowded on to these boats, so that in rough weather 25 per cent, of them are often lost. This Bill does not deal with that question, but we might insert provisions which would prevent such cruelty.
– That would only increase the freight upon store cattle going to Western Australia.
– We might perhaps consent to some little increase in the freight. But I am not certain that what I suggest would not result in a saving in the long run, as there would not be so many cattle lost in making the trip. Although Senator Symon seemed to ridicule the idea of reciprocity with New Zealand on this question; it should not be forgotten that New Zealand is adopting similar legislation to that which is now before the Senate, and reciprocity in this matter would, to a certain extent, extend the mercantile marine of Australia, and bring about in this respect co-operation such as we now have with that Colony in naval matters. We might agree that boats conforming to the New Zealand law should be permitted access to our coastal trade, on the condition that boats conforming to our law should have access to the New Zealand trade. I do not know that that could be provided for in this Bill, but the Government might very well open up communications with the Government of New Zealand to see whether they would be willing to enter into such an agreement. I know that when a Select Committee of the New Zealand Parliament was considering a somewhat similar Bill almost all the witnesses examined by the Committee expressed their’ willingness to agree to reciprocity with Australia in this matter. Another important question will arise out of this Bill if it is carried into law. We must recognise the fact that by the limitations of the coastal trade here provided for, we shall, .to a certain extent, place ourselves in the hands of the local steamship companies, and I am not satisfied that we can in this Bill safeguard the interests of the travelling public and the consuming public, which should receive equal considera tion with those of persons engaged in shipping.
– Competition will regulate that.
– Means have been found in the. past for overcoming competition by the formation of trusts and rings. We have had experience of a shipping ring in Australia before to-day, and we know what it means. When under this Bill we shut out to a certain extent the competition of the world, we should at the same time take due precaution to see that we do not give a power to shipping trusts or rings which will operate to the detriment of the people of Australia. We must recognise that we shall be giving to the shipping people the power to tax the people of Australia.
– We cannot. prevent itSenator PEARCE. - I think Ave can pre-
– Competition is the best means of preventing- it.
– We could prevent it by passing an anti-trust law or by legislation which, if necessary, would regulate the fares and freights to be charged.
– Or by establishing our own lines of steam-ships.
– That would be the best preventative of ail. The suggestion is not one to be laughed at, and I remind Senator” Fraser that it has already been made by a gentleman at whom he will not laugh. It will be remembered that exSenator Reid, speaking to ‘the members of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce on their experience of the tyranny of a ring in the shipping trade of Australia, and the ocean snipping trade, expressed the opinion that the time Avas rapidly approaching when the State Government of Victoria would ha>e to take into consideration the possibility of interfering in the shipping industry by building a State fleet.
– He Avas a State socialist then.
– Under this Bill, they will have far more power than they have now.
– I am pointing out that Ave shall still have means for dealing with them after Ave pass this Bill. I should like to ask the AttorneyGeneral, seeing that in this Bill there are provisions dealing with almost e’ery matter relating to shipping, if it is possible for us to make some provision regulating freights and fares,, so as to prevent any monopoly in the shipping trade operating to the detriment of the people of Australia. I thank honorable senators for the patience with which they have listened to me, and I trust that when the Bill leaves the Senate it will be found to be a measure framed in the interests of the Australian people.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).As one of the few mercantile members of the Senate, and one who has been for more than forty years engaged in navigation and shipping, I should like to say a few words on the Bill. I. was surprised and disappointed that the Attorney-General gave so very few reasons, in moving the second reading, for its introduction. The main provisions of the Bill merely deal with the coastal traffic. Its saving clauses, and all of good that is in the Bill, are to be found in the Merchant Shipping Act. That Act carries us through, and would serve to carry us through for many years to come.
– No it does not.
– lt provides for the well-being of the seamen for which there is so much anxiety to provide now. I was somewhat surprised to hear the AttorneyGeneral refer us to obsolete English laws which the honorable and learned senator held up for our example. He did not, however, tell us the results of them. He quoted the navigation law of Cromwell’s time. That law was very far-reaching, and, amongst other provisions, it enacted that all foreign vessels travelling up and down the English Channel should lower their colours to the British flag. When Admiral Blake called upon Van Tromp to. obey that navigation law, he was met with a broadside that very nearly blew his ship out of the water. If we legislate in the extreme way in which England did in those days, we shall only bring disaster upon ourselves. Senator Symon, and I am very glad to say Senator Pearce, have shown how unnecessary and impracticable are many of the coasting trade provisions of the Bill. We cannot, as the Tasmanian Parliament found out, lay a stamp duty on the transfer or the mortgage of any British ship in the Commonwealth. The Tasmanian Parliament found out that a provision of that kind would be ultra vires. The signing of ship’s articles - the enrolling of the crew of a British vessel - is not regulated by any colonial legislation or regulation. We have not been given this power, and if honorable senators look at covering section 5 of the Constitution, and sections 261 and 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act, they will see how very limited are our powers in many respects. The Government are aware of this fact, and they remind me of an old Scotch divine, who, whenever he came to a difficult text, told his congregation that it was a matter of great difficulty, but that they were to look it boldly in the face and pass on. That is what the Government are doing. They have paid no attention to this difficulty, but simply ignored it. What is this Parliament to gain by ignoring the difficulties, and attempting to carry out what it has not the power to perform? If we take the Merchant Shipping Act as our guide, we shall find that we have the greatest facilities for carrying out our shipping in the best way. Senator Pearce has shown how very advantageous it is to part, and I hold to the whole, of this Commonwealth to have competition. We could not want a stronger argument than he has given to show the great advantage that foreign and British vessels have been to the Commonwealth as against Australian-owned vessels. We know that many of the British vessels which come here have not been paying their expenses in the trade which they carry on with Australia, and that while the P. and 0. Company have been able to give a dividend to their shareholders, it has been earned from business done elsewhere. What is going to be the result if we multiply the burdens on these British vessels by increasing their expenses ? They will only give us less facilities than we have. Shipping companies, like every one else, do not carry on their business from philanthropic motives. They are asked for good value, and want to be paid for it. We cannot expect that they will bow to laws which do not pay them. If it does not answer their purpose to carry passengers round, our coast with these limitations, mail steamers will not do it. If Western Australia is to have a preference in this matter, I hold that Tasmania has a far greater claim to a preference than any other of the States, because we are developing, not only a large tourist traffic but a trade in fruits to Western Australia. The only chance we have of getting our produce taken direct to that State is by foreign-owned vessels. There is not sufficient trade to induce the State-owned ships to go round, unless they are going to foreign parts too. The trade is only a small one, and is confined to the fruit season. It wail be killed if the facilities which are proposed to be given to Western Australia are not extended to Tasmania. I object particularly to the clauses of the Bill which restrict the facilities of shipment by our own producers, and the facilities for travel by our sea-travelling public. That, to my mind, is a great blot on the Bill, in addition to the blot that we are interfering in trying to carry out what the mother country has not given us power to perform. Last year, when the introduction of this Bill was anticipated, the TasmanianHouse of Assembly passed a resolutio . I shall read the telegram which appeared in the Argus: -
A motion moved by Mr. Guesdon was carried in the House of Assembly adversely criticising the rumoured intention of the Federal Ministry to interfere with the present freedom of InterState carriage of passengers and freight as likely to detrimentally affect important industries, and promote the formation of combines, and result disastrously to Australian interests. If such legislation should be introduced the Tasmanian Pre. mier is to be requested to bring the emphatic protest of the Tasmanian House of Assembly effectually under the notice of the Federal Ministry and Parliament.
The motion has been forwarded to the Legislative Council for concurrence.
The motion refers to the possible interference with British-owned vessels registered outside the Commonwealth.
The State Government were instructed, if the Bill had been proceeded with, to communicate with the Federal Government on this matter. The resolution holds good now, and I hope that better counsels will prevail, and that a greater portion of the Bill will be withdrawn, or, at all events, so amended in Committee as to remove those blots. Speaking at Perth on the 27th February, Sir John Forrest said -
It had been said by Mr. Kingston that the coastal steamer companies were subject to a cruel competition with the mail steamers. He (Sir John) denied that there was any cruel competition. Last year 48,000 passengers travelled between Western Australia and the eastern States, and of these 36,000 were conveyed in Inter-State and only 12,000 in mail steamers. Furthermore, the mail steamers carried no cargo between Australian ports, while the coastal steamship companies had had the carriage of£3,000,000 worth of cargo from the other States. They had made fortunes out of the Western Australian trade, and, not satisfied with having the great bulk of the trade, they wanted to “ cobnobble “ the lot. Until Western Australia had been provided with the same means of transit as the other States, nothin? should be done to interfere with her communication by sea. He was confident that if British ships were debarred from participating in the Inter-State passenger traffic the added profits to the coastal steam-ship companies would simply go towards swelling their already healthy balance-sheets. When they saw an alliance between Mr. Kingston, Mr. Guthrie (a South Australian Labour member), and the shipping companies, they might depend upon it that there was something wrong. Shipping companies did not form alliances with Labour parties unless they hoped to get some profit out of them.
– It is not true that there is any alliance.
– I was not the author of the statement; I am onlyquoting the opinion of one of the Ministers who are responsible for the introduction of this Bill. I have a number of notes on the different clauses, but perhaps the proper time to deal with them will be when the Bill gets into Committee, if it ever does. I hope that the provisions restricting traffic to Inter-State ships’, instead of allowing British vessels as a whole to join in it, will be withdrawn.
– I rise for the purpose of replying to some of the criticisms of the Bill which Senator Symon made last evening. He took up the attitude which has been very correctly described, I think, by Senator Pearce. First of all, he railed against the Government for introducing a measure containing what, in his opinion, were provisions that were beyond the powers of this Parliament; and, secondly, he pointed out that if those provisions were not ultra vires he was so opposed to the principles contained in them that he would oppose the Bill on that ground. In other words his attitude towards the Bill was one of uncompromising hostility. Whatevermay have been the character of its provisions, if we were competent to pass them, he would be, it seems, opposed to them on the ground of policy; and if he had any doubt as to our competency to pass them, he was opposed to the Bill on that ground. He pointed out that it was not within the province of this Parliament to apply to foreign ships the provisions of Part IV., as sub-clause b of clause 185 purports to do.
This part of this Act shall apply to -
The honorable and learned senator suggested that it is not competent for this Parliament by any legislation to impose upon foreign ships trading to Australian ports, and trading from Australian ports to other ports in the . British dominions, conditions and restrictions the like of which we apply to Australian registered ships. On what does he base that contention? He pointed out to us that the foreign merchantman or the British merchantman is, wherever it may be, on the high seas, under the jurisdiction of, and subject to the law of its own country. I think that every one in the Senate agrees with that principle. He also pointed out that when a foreign merchantman or a British merchantman is in a port other than a port in its own country, it is subject to the municipal law of that country. Everybody agrees with that principle. But the enunciation of those two principles does not support Senator Symon in the conclusion he comes to, that it is incompetent for us to apply the provisions contained in portions of Part IV. of the Bill to vessels coming under the designation of clause 185 b :
All foreign ships carrying passengers or cargo shipped in any port in Australia to any port in the British dominions.
As to the power of the Federal Parliament to legislate upon this matter, I may refer to the two sections of the Constitution which deal with it. We first of all have section S1 ‘
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to : - (1) Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
So that under section 51 sub-section (1) the Commonwealth Parliament is empowered to legislate with respect to trade and commerce, not merely amongst the States themselves, but between the Commonwealth and other countries. As to what is included in the words “ trade and commerce,” if we turn to section 98 we find that it is provided that-
The power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extend to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.
The combined operation of sections 51 and 98 of the Constitution is to give this Parliament power to legislate with respect to navigation and shipping between the Commonwealth and other countries. Our jurisdiction is not limited to legislating with respect to navigation between theStates themselves. We have the power to regulate navigation and shipping coming under the designation of trade and commerce, between the Commonwealth and other countries. Senator Symon, adopting the suggestion ‘which, I think, came from Senator Best, seemed to read into the Constitution a restriction upon our powers in this regard, by a reference to covering section 5 of the Constitution, Using the words of Senator Symon as applied to the Attorney-General in introducing this Bill, I think that honorable senators might have noticed that, when he adopted that suggestion, there was not in his argument his customary eloquence nor in his intonation that fervor and ‘zeal that characterized his criticism in other respects during the course of his speech. On reference to covering section 5 of the Constitution it will be found that it provides that -
This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the Courts, Judges, and people of every State, and of every part of the Cora, mon wealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State.’
– Hear, hear.
– But my honorable friend who interjects will know/if he reads the history of this section, and the debates that centred round it in the different conventions and in the States Legislatures when the Constitution was in a state of political flux, that, as a matter of fact, that section was only put in for greater certainty - in order that there might be no possible room for doubt as to the laws enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament being operative in every State as the law of the land. The section- further goes on to say -
And the laws of the Commonwealth shall be enforced on all British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.
I submit that, to read into that section a meaning which would restrict the powers of this Parliament in legislating, is an utterly wrong interpretation. All that the latter part of that section means - the part of it with regard to the operation of the Constitution and of Commonwealth laws on British ships - is, I submit, to make certain that on British ships whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth, all the ordinary statutes of the Commonwealth apply; and, unless there is a special exemption section, have full fora: and operation just as if those ships wen; part and parcel of the territory of any of the States.
– What does the honorable and learned senator mean. by “destination”? A vessel’s last por of Call may have been a European port.
– I am not concerned with the interpretation of the section in that respect. I am pointing out that it has no restrictive operation whatever on our powers of legislation. It is not designed in any way to restrict the powers of legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament. It is only descriptive of the extent of the operation of our legislation, in the absence of any express provision to the contrary. It would be competent for us, in certain legislation, to say that a particular portion of a Bill should not apply to any ship in Commonwealth ports.
– A vessel’s port of destination may be Europe. Senator KEATING. - I am not now concerned with whether the port of destination is in Europe or in the planet Mars.
– Covering section 5 was expressly altered by the Convention in favour of the present limitation.
– What I am pointing out is that it is not designed to be a limitation on the legislative powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. It is simply descriptive of the extent of the operation of Commonwealth legislation in the absence of any expression of intention to the contrary. In other words, if this Bill is passed without a special provision, to exempt ships from its operation, the Bill, as a matter of course, will have full force and effect upon those ships whose port of destination and whose first port of clearance are as described in the Constitution. Senator Best says that covering section 5 was expressly altered from the shape in which it stood at first. In 1883. when the several Colonies were represented for the purpose of securing some form of Federal legislative machinery, a Bill was adopted and sent to England to be passed by the Imperial Parliament for the creation of a Federal Council. No reference was then made to the operation of the Jaws of that Federal Council upon ships. But when the Bill came before the Imperial authorities in England, they inserted a clause somewhat similar to this, making the laws that would be passed by the Federal Council, under the Federal Council Act 1885, have full force and effect upon ships whose first port of clearance “or” whose port of .destination was in the Commonwealth. It must be remembered that in that instance that was done without any suggestion or invitation on the part of Australia whatever. The Imperial draftsmen themselves inserted in that Federal Council Constitution Bill a section of that character - much wider than the present section - making the laws of the Federal Council operative upon ships whose port of clearance “or” whose port of destination was in Australia. That Act was in operation from 1885 until the establishment of the Commonwealth. The extent of the operation of the Federal Council legislation was too wide and vague under such a clause. In the Federal Convention that section was at first adopted as it stood in the Federal Council Act, because the members of the Convention no doubt believed that if the Imperial authorities, without any solicitation on the part of Australia, were willing to give such wide force to the legislation of the Federal Council, they would be equally willing, if not more willing, to concede a similar degree of force to the legislation of the Federal Parliament. However, after further consideration, it was pointed out that the section was really too absurd as it stood. Then it was made to take its present form, because under the more widely expressed terms of the section in the previous Act the Federal Council laws might be considered to be operative on a vessel weeks before she had first sighted Australia, which was manivfestly absurd. My contention with regard to this section as it stands is that it was only intended to define the operation of our legislation where we have no express provision to the contrary; and that the power which
Ave have of legislating in the direction of this Bill rests upon the two sections of the Constitution to which I have referred, namely, section 51, sub-section 1 and section 98. Under covering section 5 of the Constitution, if our legislation in any instance creates an offence which is punishable by a Court exercising Federal jurisdiction, any person who committed that offence on a vessel as described in the section would be liable’ to be proceeded against. The writs of the Commonwealth Court will run in vessels that occupy the position referred to in covering section 5. The general statute law of the Commonwealth, and the common Iaw of the Commonwealth - if there is to be such a thing, a point upon which eminent lawyers have agreed to differ -will also run in vessels that are in the position referred to in covering section 5. I say again that that section is descriptive and not restrictive, and is not intended by any means whatever to operate as a restriction or limitation on the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament-. If the exclusive and exhaustive construction that has been insisted upon by Senator Symon for the purpose of his argument - and which seems to be entertained by Senator Best - be the correct one, we should be in this position : that the laws of the Commonwealth will be binding only on vessels whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth. Then we might find ourselves in this position : We might have in. Sydney Harbor or in Hobart a vessel whose first port of clearance was one of the Commonwealth ports, and whose port of destination was beyond the Commonwealth. On a strict construction of covering section 5 the Commonwealth would have no jurisdiction over that vessel, though she was actually lying in one of the ports of the Commonwealth. That is the logical result from the construction that is attempted to be placed upon covering section 5 by Senator Symon - that we have no jurisdiction over vessels unless the two things are combined, namely, that the vessel’s first port of clearance and her port of destination are both within the Commonwealth. Again, it is quite conceivable that a vessel may have her first port of destination in the Commonwealth, and her first port of clearance in Great Britain. Would it be contended that we should have no jurisdiction over that vessel when she was lying at Port Melbourne pier? But that is the logical sequence of the exclusive and exhaustive construction that we have been called upon to read into covering section 5 of the Constitution. The position, I take it, is this : When vessels, no matter to what nationality they belong, come into Australian waters, and take Australian trade - whether it be a good thing or a bad thing that they should do so is not a matter with which, for the purposes of this argument, I am now concerned - we have the fullest powers that any self-governing community in the world can have of legislating wilh respect to them, and with respect to the terms and conditions upon which they shall enter into that trade. If those vessels chose to bring cargo anc passengers, and to leave them here, and go abroad in ballast, perhaps our powers an: to a very great extent limited ; they are much more limited than in the case of vessels taking passengers and cargo from Australia. Senator Symon, in referring to’ clause 38, said that we were endeavouring to either do something that we could not do or something that we should not do. He said that, in effect, we were trying to make New Zealand a part of the coast of the Commonwealth. Clause 38 is as follows : -
All ships registered in Australia shall, and all other ships, when carrying passengers or cargo shipped or taken on board in any port in Australia to be carried to and landed or delivered at any other port therein or to New Zealand, shall carry as crew the number and description of persons specified in the scale set out in Schedule 2, or as prescribed.
Senator Symon said that in endeavouring to pass this legislation we are attempting to- do something that we cannot consistently do - that we are attempting, so far as the question of policy is. concerned, to make New Zealand part of the coast of Australia. I submit that that criticism is most unfair and most unjustifiable. What we are attempting to do in this particular provision is to say to all owners of vessels which come into Australian waters - “ If you want to go out of Australian waters carrying in your bottoms our people or the goods of our people to New Zealand, you must fulfil the conditions we lay down ; you are not bound to carry our people or their goods, but if you want to do so you must have such a crew as is prescribed in the schedule to our navigation law.” Are we not competent to regulate the conditions and terms on which our own people shall be carried out of Australia - the terms on which foreign shippers shall come and invite the people of Australia to send their goods abroad? To deny that power to this Parliament would be to strip us of almost every shred of autonomy.
– Why mention New Zealand and not Fiji?
– I am not concerned as to whether the law should be extended to Fiji or elsewhere ; I am concerned with Senator Symon’s argument that this legislation is beyond our powers.
– New Zealand is not. in the Commonwealth.
– I am concerned with an argument used by Senator Symon, when Senator Fraser was not present, an argument to the effect that we cannot impose on vessels, going out of our own waters, the conditions contained in clause 38, because they are not Australian registered vessels. Senator Symon declaimed very eloquently against the Government on account of the principle in the Bill, which he paraphrased as something like an attempt to benefit the foreign shipping at the expense of British shipping.
– That is quite true.
– Had Senator Fraser heard the honorable and learned senator’s argument, he would have been convinced to the contrary. At the same time Senator Symon asked why we should attempt to impose on vessels which come here to take our trade outside, the same conditions as are applied to Australian registered vessels. In other words, Senator Symon would allow Australian registered vessels to be subject to those conditions and restrictions, and allow foreign ships to escape “scot free,” on the grounds of their nationality.
– Senator Symon contends that the Constitution makes that position clear.
- Senator Symon said, in effect, that when we come to deal with navigation and shipping, we are bound hand and foot to the people of any other country who choose to send vessels to trade here.
– He never said that.
– That is the logical conclusion from the remarks of the honorabe and learned senator, who contended that we cannot legislate with regard to foreign ships, because they are part and parcel of the soil of the country to which they belong - that we can only pass legislation to operate so long as they are within our ports. He contended that we cannot impose on such vessels the conditions in clause 38, or the conditions contained in Part IV., under which ships may be resurveyed in order to insure seaworthiness.
– Senator Symon did not say that; he expressly exempted that provision.
– The honorable and learned senator made a special reference to the question of re-survey, and said that under the Merchant Shipping Act of England no such provision had been made. The honorable and learned senator further said that we had no power to enforce the provision, as to boat-drill and deck cargo or load lines.
– But he said that we could legislate so far as unseaworthiness was concerned, because they are vessels leaving our ports.
– If we can legislate to ‘insure seaworthiness in one regard, surely it is quite competent “for us to do so in another regard. I am sure that honorable senators cannot agree with the attitude adopted by the leader of the Opposition. They must recognise that the logical conclusion from that attitude is the admissionthat, so far as navigation from Australia isconcerned, we are bound hand and foot, and placed at the tender mercies of any competing country which chooses ‘ to send vessels into our waters. I submit, on the general principles contained in section 51, sub-section 1, and section 98 of the Constitution, that we have the fullest and amplest powers, consistently, of course, with our connexion with the Empire, to legislate, as any other country may legislate, with regard not only to our coastal shipping, but in regard to foreign-going shipping. As to Part IV., although there may be some particular portions of it which do not apply - arid perhaps should not apply as a matter of policy - to foreign-owned ships, still I submit that constitutionally this Parliament has the fullest power to make them applicable. With regard to some of the provisions in ‘ Part IV., which should not apply to foreign shipping, I- refer the AttorneyGeneral to Division 13 of that part, which, amongst other matters, has reference: to anchors and chain cables. Under that division, anchors and chains have to be tested before use, and it is made a misdemeanour to sell untested chains and anchors ; these and similar provisions being designed to secure that vessels trading from our shores shall have efficient appliances. But, to my mind, the operation of this particular part of the Bill would have the effect thai foreign-owned vessels would be compelled, if they complied with the conditions, to purchase only British-made anchors and chains and cables. If the foreign countries from which those ships came made due and proper provision to secure efficiency in this regard, there might be some procedure entile part of the Commonwealth to recognise by reciprocal arrangement the action taken by those foreign countries.
– Does the honorable and learned senator go so far as to say that if an offence of the kind to which he refers were committed in New Zealand we should have any power whatever to enforce penalties?
– Undoubtedly. The whole matter would resolve itself into the question of whether’ or not the persons committing the offence bring themselves within our territorial jurisdiction;
– Although the offence may have been committed in New Zealand ; or, it might be, in Germany ?
– It is all the same wherever the offence is committed. If Senator Best will refer to the arguments used in the case of Kingston v. Gadd he will find that the law of the Commonwealth in this regard may operate even 1,000 miles from the coast of Australia.
– That is a different matter altogether.
– If the legislation is designed to secure proper observance of conditions that will secure the safety of passengers and cargo, the law of the Commonwealth can be ‘made to operate, as regards a specific act, even at that distance.
– In that case the vessel came into port, having committed a breach of the law.
– If vessels come within our jurisdiction again, so that we can, if necessary, apprehend, attach, and bring them before a competent Court of jurisdiction, that Court will be capable of taking cognisance of any breach of those provisions.
– I could never support that contention.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member, after a careful perusal of the conditions applying to ships at sea, will find that such is the case. The honorable and learned senator probably knows that the Courts in Great Britain have held that they have jurisdiction to deal with offences against the law, evan though those offences may be committed in a German river.
– On English boats?
– Undoubtedly they have that power.
– And there is that power if there is a non-compliance with the statute on shipping while engaged in the Australian trade.
– That is evading the point.
– In the case of foreign shipping all the provisions of this part of the Bill must be observed before leaving port, and therefore we can enforce them, with the one exception, perhaps, of boat-drill.
– The contention’ was that a foreign merchantman is part and parcel of the country to which it belongs - in fact, that it is, so to speak, a floating colony of the country, and, therefore, we cannot enforce our municipal law, although the vessel is on the very shores of the Commonwealth. The position I wish to submit with regard to all these regulations and conditions, as applicable to foreign-owned merchantmen, is that it is quite competent for the Federal Parliament to say that no foreign merchantman shall take any trade whatever from Australia. There is hardly an honorable senator who will venture to deny the truth of the proposition that the Commonwealth Parliament could, if it chose, provide that no foreign merchantman, under any circumstances or conditions, should be allowed to take either passengers or cargo from Australia. That is a large power, and surely if we have the large power we have the lesser - the greater in: eludes the less.
– But the less may be a different thing.
– Does the honorable senator say that the less, which is part and parcel of the whole, may be different? Surely, if we have the fullest power possible to deny altogether to foreign merchantmen the right to trade out of our ports, we have the lesser power of imposing the conditions and terms under which they may so trade. I rose only for the purpose of dealing with this aspect of the Bill, which is too lengthy for one in a second reading speech to enter with any degree of minuteness upon a discussion, even of its various divisions and parts. I do not purpose to do that, and I have spoken, as I intended, upon the contention raised by honorable senators opposite as to the competency of this Parliament to deal with such a measure. When it comes before the Committee of the Senate, as I hope it will, I intend, in some instances, to take advantage of the opportunity extended to us by the cordial invitation of the Attorney-General, to suggest some alterations for inclusion in some of its provisions.
-I have listened with very great pleasure to the views enunciated by the last speaker. When the honorable and learned senator commenced, I began to think that he had at last got the right end of the stick. I have refreshed my memory by looking up the debate on this question, which took place in the Federal Convention held in Sydney, on 9th September, 1897. I refer honorable members to page 252 of the proceedings of that Convention. I propose to quote from the observations of a gentleman whose opinion will always be considered of value by the Senate. I refer to the Honorable R. E. O’Connor. The amendment of the covering section 5 of the Constitution was proposed by the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and was debated by the Convention, and these are the Honorable R. E. O’Connor’s remarks on the subject: -
I think the amendment suggested by the Legislative Council of New South Wales will carry out what appears to be the sense of the Committee (of the Convention), that is, to amend the clause so as to read in this way - “ Whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.” That will make it quite clear that it applies only to ships whose whole voyage is within the Commonwealth. And however desirable it may be to extend it to other cases, such as were mentioned by my right honorable friend Mr. Reid, I do not see that it can be done. I think that all we can do is to insure that the laws of the Commonwealth shall be enforced upon all ships whose voyage is wholly within the Commonwealth.
The amendment was carried in the words which now appear in the Constitution.
– But does that section exhaust our constitutional power?
– It goes to show that the ‘laws of the Commonwealth should be - in force on all’ British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are within the Commonwealth. and whose voyage is within the Commonwealth.
– That refers to the general laws of the Commonwealth, but what about our power with respect to navigation ?
– I am not a lawyer, but I refreshed my memory on this subject. I am quite willing to accept the Honorable R. E. O’Connor as a good lawyer. I do not think there is a sounder lawyer in the whole of Australia, though there may be a more brilliant lawyer. I listened attentively ‘to the interesting address delivered by the AttorneyGeneral, and to the very able and scathing criticism of the Bill we had from Senator Symon. Curiously enough, though I am as anxious as is the Attorney-General to improve the condition of our seamen, I have drawn conclusions opposite to those drawn by the honorable and learned senator on this matter. I think that the fewer restrictions we place on commerce the better it will be for those who are engaged in it. I hope when we get into committee that many of the clauses of this Bill will be amended in a liberal direction.
When the Attorney-General referred to the coasting trade being under the control of the respective countries in which it is carried on, he instanced Russia. I wonder whether at the present time Russia can be said to control the coastal trade between Port Arthur and Vladivostock. I venture to think that she would be glad to have foreign ships coming into those ports with supplies.
– The conditions there are abnormal at present.
– I do not think that we should put restrictions on foreign ships bringing supplies.
– It is lot proposed to restrict them in bringing supplies.
– There is one respect in which the interpretation clause of this Bill is rather objectionable. I find that British ships are to be considered as foreign ships. Here is the reference - “Foreign-going Ship.” - Foreign-going ship includes every ship employed in trading or going between places in Australia, and places (other than British New Guinea) beyond Australia.
– That is the definition of a foreign-going ship.
– Why should there not be a definition of a British ship?
– A British ship leaving Great Britain might be a foreign-going ship.
– I think there might be a definition of a British ship. We have been told that the “ Minister” referred to in the Bill is to be the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I think that might have been stated in the interpretation clause.
– That is stated in clause
– I think that Senator Pearce’ s arguments in favour of the exemption of ships trading between Western Australia and Adelaide, show conclusively that the people of Western Australia are supplied with the means of coming to the eastern States at a reasonable price; and if we are to fall in with’ the honorable’ senator’s suggestions on this point, I see no reason why -we should be asked to construct the proposed railway to Western Australia. If Senator Pearce is able to carry the provisions which he has supported so strongly, he will succeed in postponing the construction of that railway. I think that the honorable senator should not insist on those special and exclusive provisions, and, if he does,” he should not insist on the construction of. the Western Australia railway, because if that railway is constructed, fares to and from Western Australia will go up. The fares by the land line will be higher than those by sea, and in the circumstances the construction of the line may be to the disadvantage of the State which the honorable senator represents.
– Sea-sickness may be considered a debit balance against the steam-ship companies.
– As one of the representatives of New South Wales, I object to legislation by which the interests of that State will be materially injured. ‘ I come now to deal with what I believe is the crux of the whole matter. I refer to section 99 of the Constitution, which, in my opinion, adds considerable force to Senator Symon’ s objection to the Bill. That section reads -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State, or any part thereof, over another State, or any part thereof.
In this Bill it is proposed to give a very material preference to Western Australia.
– We will have the railway.
– I have no objection to that, especially if it is paid for by land grants. If we were to carry the provisions of this Bill, I suppose that a home steamer could come from Fremantle to Melbourne without entering into local competition, and could then go straight from Melbourne to New Zealand. We know that Mr. Seddon is anxious to have these vessels going to New Zealand.
– He imposes the same conditions.
– These steamers are to be at liberty to travel from Fremantle to Adelaide without coming under the provisions of this Bill, and why should we not’ insert Melbourne in the place of Adelaide. Then one of these fine steamers coming from Fremantle to Melbourne would not be considered in the coastal trade, and there would be nothing to prevent her going on from Melbourne to New Zealand, and making some port in New Zealand her final port of call. We should then be legislating, for argument’s sake, against New South Wales. I suppose that honorable senators have no wish to do that, but these provisions may have the effect of injuring the great shipping industry of the mother State.
– Can the honorable senator show any necessity for the extension of the principle?
– Some other effects might follow. The companies owning these boats might make Fremantle their terminus, and employ smaller coastal vessels to bring passengers and cargo to and from that port.
– That would be making another service.
– I know that there is a strong feeling in New South Wales that this Bill/ if carried as it stands, would be detrimental to the whole shipping industry of Australia. The Australian Shipowners’ Federation is supposed to be in opposition to the owners of the ocean-going mail steamers, and yet, curiously enough, within the last two or three days they passed the following resolution -
With regard to different rates of pay, Senator Pearce has said that it would be irregular for those who engage men at home for the round trip to circumvent the regulations proposed to be brought into force. Why should not they be able to say to a man, “ During the time you are in Australia you are to draw the Austraiian rate of wages, and so much for the time spent elsewhere ‘ ‘ ?
– Under the Merchant Shipping Act it would be absolutely illegal to do so.
– The honorable senator dees not seem to think that that Act is to bind us.
– It would bind them in England.
– Another . suggestion is that if it is desired to effectively differentiate between the classes of ships that object could be achieved after the Commonwealth had taken over the Department of light-houses, light-ships, beacons, and buoys, by charging so much per ton for Australian coasters, so much more per ton for British-owned vessels whilst in Australian waters, and so much more again per ton for foreign-owned vessels whilst in Australian waters. Why the Department has not been transferred to the Commonwealth I do not know. I think that the sooner it is transferred the better. Senator Symon referred very scathingly to the so-called preference shown to Great Britain by those who profess to believe in preferential trade. I also fail to see that any preference is shown in the treatment of British vessels which come to trade in Australia. The tendency of our legislation, I fear, has not been to make us more popular in the world. It has been very restrictive, and I am afraid that it is somewhat conducive to a breach of the good relations which should prevail between the mother country and the Commonwealth. I refer to the Immigration Restriction Act, under which certain British subjects cannot come here; to the Post and Telegraph Act, which prohibits the use of coloured labour on mail-steamers, and to the Customs Tariff Act. This afternoon we heard from an honorable senator a great deal about the advantage of having an iron industry in the Commonwealth. The expense of getting so many things from home places us at a great disadvantage compared with people, elsewhere.. It ‘is a case of everything for ourselves and nothing for anybody else if it can be avoided. We are becoming very selfish in that respect. Although Australia’s aborigines are black, still it is now called a White Australia, and not a few persons seem to think that by that phrase is meant Australia for the whites in Australia, and for as few others as possible.
– I would ask the honorable senator to discuss the Navigation Bill.
– The fisher folk on the coast of old Scotland ‘have, a very homely proverb which describes a similar state of things, but which, out of regard for ears polite, I refrain from quoting. As it was during the time of the Commonwealth in the mother country that the prestige of the country and its navy rose by leaps and bounds, I hope sincerely th? we shall be true to the traditions of our’ race and to the British name, and that whatever we do in this and all our legislation will ultimately redound to the credit of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– I find myself’ in a position which I have frequently occupied in my political career. I am confronted with the duty of dealing with a measure which contains a great deal that is good and at the same time a great deal that is very objectionable to me. The question I ask myself is whether it is wiser to vote against the second reading of the Bill or to try to bring about the good which it attempts to accomplish by voting for the second reading, and seeking to amend its provisions in Committee. Senator Guthrie has given notice of his intention to take what seems to me to be a very wise course, and that is to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, for the purpose of obtaining the benefit of expert evidence and ascertaining how its provisions are likely to affect shipping and those who are concerned in shipping. In so far as it tries to bring about uniformity of legislation, for the control of navigation and shipping throughout these States; in so far as it tries to bring about a better condition of things for those who go down to the sea in ships, to look after their comfort, safety, and general welfare, and to insure fair play towards them ; in so far as it tries to protect property in transport and passengers, and to remove risks, I think that it deserves our commendation, and is entitled to the support of all parties in the Chamber. I shall go a little further and say that in so far as it invites the Parliament to do what it was created to do - that is, to legislate for all the States of the Commonwealth, even though it may attempt to do this on principles with which we do not agree - it is deserving of very fair consideration at our hands. But when it comes before us bearing on its face the evidence of provincialism ; when it comes before us acknowledging that what it proposes is federally impracticable; when the most consistent amongst our politicians are taking very conflicting views on this question, and some of them are holding quite consistently! that Federal legislation ought to apply to all the States, and not to a part of the Commonwealth - then the Bill to a very large extent is self-condemned. The question might be asked whether it would not be wiser to get rid of the Bill at once. But I do not think it would be quite fair to the authors of the Bill, or to ourselves if we did not ‘try to fulfil our duty, and to bring about uniform legislation as quickly as possible. For that reason I shall not be found opposing the motion for the second reading, although in Committee I shall have some very serious fault to find with the Bill. I asked the Attorney-General, before he started to explain its provisions, if he would tell the Senate to what extent the Government had attempted to obtain expert advice in dealing with the machinery clauses. We know that the Bill has been very largely adapted from the Merchant Shipping Act, and embodies certain legislation of New South Wales and New Zealand. A great many of the provisions which have been adopted from the Merchant Shipping Act have been modified, and it may be improved, and new features have been introduced into the machinery part which may also be improvements. The Attorney-General would have strengthened his position if he had told the Senate on whose recommendation those amendments were adopted. In Tasmania we have taken a very large interest in this measure. In an island” which depends entirely on the shipping for the export of its produce, and which is comparatively small and insignificant at the present time, we have to be very careful to preserve the facilities which we possess, and to see that we are not entirely deprived of them by any legislation of this character, and therefore we ‘have taken some interest in the Bill. I can assure honorable senators that the people of Tasmania are viewing the Bill with a great deal of alarm, which seems to me to be very fully justified. We are increasing our production of fruit at a very rapid rate. Our export of fruit to the home countries has increased in one year by over 50 per cent. We require the best economic conditions for the transport and handling of these bulky exports. We have to face the prospect not only of larger quantities being sent from Tasmania, but also of an increased fruit export from Australia - for no doubt
Western Australia will in time be a fruit producer - to Great Britain, and a probable consequent reduction of prices. We have to secure the best economical conditions that we can get, and must try to retain those that we have. A meeting of the Chamber of Commerce was held in Hobart the other night, and as Senator Guthrie intends to move for the appointment of a Select Committee on the Bill, I propose to bring under the notice of the Senate a few points which a very good maritime lawyer suggested to the meeting for their consideration.
– Did he charge anything?
– I am not quite sure, but I think he was asked professionally to report on the relationship of this Bill to the Merchant Shipping Act, and to refer to the important differences.
– Who is he?
– I am referring to Mr. Lodge, a Hobart lawyer. He suggested that one of the inquiries for the Select Committee should be whether the provisions of the Bill conflicted in any respect with those of the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain ; also, in what respect its provisions are different from those in that Act in matters within the proper scope of Commonwealth legislation ; also, whether it proposes to exercise powers over foreign ships or persons which are not within the powers of the Federal Parliament; and, whether its provisions are riot in other respects unconstitutional. We have had a dissertation on the constitutional aspect of the matter, and, as usual, we find the lawyers differing. As I do not pose as a constitutional authority. I do not propose to say anything on that aspect of the question. I shall deal with the Bill from the point of view of a commonsense man, and one representing a State which depends entirely on shipping for its means of disposing of its surplus produce. I am hoping that we shall have the benefit of expert advice on the purely machinery clauses of the Bill. I -will consequently refer to those clauses which present themselves to me as particularly affecting the interests of Tasmania. I ask pardon of the Senate for having to deal with the question from that point of view. It may seem to be a provincial standpoint, but I am forced to do so, because the Bill itself is provincial in its character. There is noescaping from that conclusion. If this Bill is to become a legislative enactment, I am strongly in favour of its applying to the whole of Australia. But I want to make my position perfectly clear at this stage, because, under the forms of the Senate, I may not hereafter be able to accomplish that which I desire. If there are to be exemptions, some of the representatives of Tasmania would like to see that State included within them. If any State is to be exempt we have as good a right as any other to claim that privilege. When, therefore, it is proposed that Western Australia shall be exempt from any provisions of the measure, I shall move that the words “ and Tasmania “ be added ; and then I shall be willing to support a proposal that the whole clause so amended be struck out, so that neither Western Australia nor Tasmania shall be exempt. That is not an inconsistent position. I simply claim that, if we are going to make exemptions, the little State which I have the honour to represent, should participate in them. There is no principle in having exemptions. It ‘is simply a matter of expedience, and Tasmania has just as much right to be exempt as Western Australia. Now, what are the objects of the provisions of Part VII. to which Tasmania objects? Senator Pearce says that the intention is to safeguard the local shipping companies from unfair competition.
– No; also to protect the seamen, firemen, and engineers.
– That protection, extends to the local ship-owners, whose iniquities have been denounced by Senator Pearce, so far as concerns their treatment of Western Australia. He told us that the local ship-owners charged £7 for steerage passages from Fremantle to Adelaide, the price of which is now £2. Well, is the Bill likely to have the effect of protecting the local ship-owner or the seamen against the competition of foreign-going vessels which do a little Inter-State trade?
– Englishmen are foreigners under this Bill.
– I do not like to see Great Britain treated as a foreign nation. I do not pose as an Imperialist. I come of a race that cannot thank Great Britain for many favours. ‘ But we, as Australians, have no reason to complain against Great Britain, and I have no sympathy with Australia attempting to treat the grand old mother country - because she is that with all her faults - as a foreign nation.
– This Bill does not attempt to do so.
– Not directly, but in a round-about way it does.
– British ships will have the same advantages as our own ships.
– That is a very plausible way of putting, the matter, and I will refer to it in detail directly. Is this Bill likely to bring about the object in view ? We are all fond of ideals, and I am sure that the ideals of the Government a’re good. But those who have had experience know that in introducing legislation it is necessary to look to the practical side of things; and they know also how fallacious it is to attempt to do things which we cannot do. Are we likely to improve the relationship between seamen and their employers by means of this Bill ? Are we likely to improve the condition of the sailors on board the mail steamers? Does any honorable senator really believe that the big companies, like the Orient and P. and O. Companies, will, for the sake of the Australian Inter-State trade, bring their vessels, while they are in Australian waters, under the conditions which we lay down in this Bill ?
– Of course they will not.
– They will not because they cannot afford to do. so. Is it to be supposed that for the sake of a little Inter-State trade they will, directly they enter Australian waters, alter the conditions of employment of their crews ?
– We do not expect them to do it.
– Then why are we proposing such a law as this? If the object be to improve the condition of Australian sailors, I point out that, to a large extent, they have done that for themselves by trades unions and other combinations. I have never been a seaman, but for some years in my younger days I was engaged in a ship-building yard, and I know something of the conditions under which sailors were employed thirty-five or thirty-six years ago. I know that their condition is infinitely better now, both with regard to wages and treatment, than it was then.
– Not on some of the Tasmanian vessels.
– I know that the living conditions of the sailor are better than they were. If we cannot accomplish our object by such a Bill, what is the use of it? By passing it shall we not be doing what was described last night as cutting off one of our features to spite another? Is the object to keep out black labour ?
– We have another measure for that.
– I do not think that we have any measure which will accomplish it.
– This Bill proposes to pay black labour the same as white.
– ft cannot be brought about by such a Bill.
– It is unjust.
– Honorable senators when they talk of a White Australia, frequently confuse two things. A White Australia within the confines of the Commonwealth, for the purpose of protecting our own race and institutions, is one thing; but it is absurd for us to attempt to establish a White Australia beyond the sea. It is almost like telling the Almighty that he had no right to make a black man at all, or saying that black men have no right to engage even in menial labour. If we are logical, we shall soon, preclude the use of beasts of burden, because they do work which might be done by men. If we, by this legislation, do no good to those people whom I admit it is our duty to benefit - though I think it is almost a certainty that no benefit will result - what other effects will there be? One reason which is frequently given in support of such legislation., though it is a. reason with which I do not agree, is that similar laws are in operation in America. It appears to be thought that America and Australia are on one plane, whereas America is a much older country, and has features which Australia does not yet possess. Australia is not yet what America is frequently claimed to be : a self-contained country. Australia, unfortunately, has an enormous public debt, and, in order to meet the interest, has to provide each year exports to the amount of £8,000,000, or £9,000,000 more than is necessary to pay for the imports. That money, of course, does not return.
– That is a very unfortunate position.
– It is ; but the importance of the point lies in the class of goods which we have to send in order to meet the interest on the debt.
– I regret to say that some £330,000 worth of apples or other produce have to be sold before the interest on Tasmania’s debt is paid each year. But what is the character of our other exports ? We send away large quantities of goods of high bulk but low value, goods which require the most economical handling. I ask honorable senators, who are so careful in all that appertains to the working man, and properly so, whether they know what happens when lead comes down to something like £10 a ton? When that happens, hundreds of miners at Broken Hill are thrown out of employment. Can any legislation affect that economic law? How many tons of wheat do we send from Australia, and what is the margin ? Can we, by legislation, influence the price of wheat in Mark-lane?
– That has nothing to do with the question before us.
– It has a great deal to do with the question. If we harass and hamper the shipping here, shall we obtain the best and most economical transport for our goods ? In Tasmania the production of apples has been increased by 50 per cent, in one year, and while we are sending away hundreds of thousands of bushels now, we shall in the future send millions of bushels. Are we to tell the big steam-ship companies that they may carry our apples, but must not bring passengers to our shores - that they shall not carry a passenger to Melbourne, or a case of apples to Western Australia, although the people there may be famishing for fruit? We are asked to tell the’ great shipping companies that they shall not take any cargo from Tasmania except for ports outside the Commonwealth, unless they comply with conditions with which they will not, and cannot be expected to comply
– Those steamers will not be able to carry a few cases of apples for the miners on the Western Australian gold-fields.
– It is a wonder how New Zealand is able to send anything away.
- Senator McGregor seems to think that because this legislation does not interfere with the oversea trade, we are not altering the conditions under which the oversea steamers come to us. How would Senator McGregor like to be on a Tasmanian wharf on a Saturday morning, desiring to reach Melbourne on the Monday to attend to his senatorial duties, and be debarred from travelling in one of the magnificent mail boats on the point of leaving for this city ? I want to impress on honorable senators the importance of not hampering our shipping interests. By all means, let us improve the condition of our people, so far as legislation can do so, but do not attempt that which legislation cannot accomplish. The Federal Parliament has already had experience that legislation will not accomplish many things that are desired, and evidence in that direction ‘will be more plentiful in the future. This Par-, liament endeavoured to stop an institution known as “ Tattersalls,” in Tasmania.
– We did nothing of the kind ; we only prevented letters for “ Tattersall” going through the post-office.
– I am surprised at Senator Pearce being so wanting in ingenuousness, because it is well known what the object of that legislation was.
– It was Tasmania which prevented our shutting up “Tattersalls.”
– I do not intend to argue the “ Tattersall “ case, but wish simply to point out that we cannot accomplish everything by legislation. Attempts to meddle by legislation with some matters sometimes lead to results the very opposite to those intended.
– “ Tattersalls “ was suppressed in every one of the States.
– “ Tattersalls “ was carried on all the time, and is carried on to-day, all legislation having failed in -this connexion. Many such regulations as are proposed in this Bill are in existence now, and are not carried out; indeed, to carry them out would require an Inspector on every vessel. T shall be very pleased to assist in any endeavour to bring about uniform legislation, but I look on this measure as one calculated to assist the local ship-owners in forming a ring. That is more likely to be the result than that which labour representatives desire.
– There can be a clause to prevent the formation of rings.
– I venture- to say that rings of the kind cannot be prevented by legislation. With the desire to get all the information I could on the question, I approached, amongst several other people in Hobart connected with shipping, one man whose identity and position, if I disclosed them, might cause some amusement to honorable senators. I had some little difficulty in getting him to express an opinion, but I was successful at last. I asked him whether if a vessel from the Baltic, as frequently happens, landed a cargo of timber at Hobart, and wished to obtain a return cargo to, say, South Australia, where she would take on board grain, he would not desire to send by that vessel any cargo he might himself have destined for South Australia - whether he would like to be prevented from sending his goods by her, seeing that otherwise she would have to go in ballast? His reply was - “ Yes, undoubtedly ; I have a ship of my own.” That is the way in which some ship-owners will regard this legislation. They do not like any competition with their little interests.
– A foreign vessel would not be prevented from carrying cargo to South Australia under the circumstances, if it complied with the same conditions as an Australian ship would have to comply with. .
– But such a vessel would have to comply with conditions not contemplated in her original charter. It is an economic- blunder to send a vessel away in ballast when there is cargo to be carried. Honorable senators speak as if it would be the easiest thing in the world for foreign 1 vessels to comply with the proposed condi-tions.
– Under the circumstances mentioned such a vessel would in the future charge higher freights.
– That would be the result. If the vessels of the Orient and P. and O. companies are prevented from trading between States their profits will be reduced, and they will have to charge higher freights. I do not like the exemption of Western Australia or any other State, and, further, I. object to the association of the Inter-State railway with this legislation. We are indirectly asked to commit this Parliament, not perhaps to the construction, but to an affirmation of the . desirableness of such a means of communication, and to that I totally object. Let us deal with the question of the Inter-State railway when it comes before us, though I hope it will be long before that day arrives. When it is before us we can give it fair play, but I dissent from its finding a place in this measure.
– And “ fair play “ would, I suppose, be to delay its consideration as long as possible?
– I am intimating my present view, but, perhaps, when I hear the honorable senator’s eloquent arguments I may possibly be won over. At present I do not like to have the question of the Inter-State railway brought before us by a side-wind ; let us deal with both questions fairly and squarely on their merits!
Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.
– Before the Vice-President of the Executive Council moves the adjournment of the House, I beg to ask leave to revive a notice of motion which’ was inadvertently passed over during ray temporary absence from the Chamber.- The notice of motion deals with the military regulations, and I have the approval of the representatives of the Government in this Chamber for my present application-
– There is the adjourned debate on a motion submitted by myself, and I should like to know whether Senator Neild’s notice of motion, would take precedence over it. I object to my motion being given second place.
– I call attention to standing order 105 -
No notice of motion shall be given after the Senate shall have proceeded to the business of the day as set down on the Notice Paper, unless by leave of the Senate.
If Senator Neild obtains the leave of the Senate - and it must be leave given without a dissentient voice - he can give this notice of’ motion, and it will take precedence of an order of the day.
– r-It will riot take precedence of the motion proposed by Senator Pearce, which is on the paper.
– The debate on that motion has been adjourned, and its resumption made an order of the day.
– To what standing order do you refer, Mr. President?
– To standing order 105, under which Senator Neild has power to give notice of motion, by leave of the Senate. In answer to the question put to me by Senator Pearce, I called the honorable senator’s attention to the fact, that we have passed a sessional order providing that on alternate .Thursdays notices of motion are to have precedence, and on the other Thursdays orders of the day. Under that sessional order on Thursday in next week notices of motion will have precedence, and the orders of the day must be considered after the notices of motion have been dealt with.
– Did not notices of motion take precedence to-day?
– No, orders of the day.
– Then I repeat my objection.
– If the honorable senator objects the notice of motion cannot be given.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - May I be permitted to sug’gest to Senator Pearce that this is really only a matter of personal convenience to myself, because if I am prevented from giving this notice of motion to-day, I shall give it at the next sitting of the Senate, and it will then- take precedence of the order of the day, in which the honorable senator is interested.
– The question is: That Senator Neild have leave to give the notice of motion which he has read. There being no dissentient voice, leave is granted.
Notice of motion given accordingly.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday next.
– Why can we not sit tqmorrow ? We have come from all parts of Australia to attend to our duties in the Senate, and Senator Playford should give some reason why we should not meet tomorrow. Are we to have an enforced holiday ? There is important business for us to do, and if we cannot go on- with it, it says very little for the arrangement of Government business.
– There is no business on the paper for tomorrow. I will give the honorable and learned senator the reason why I did not ask honorable senators to meet to-morrow. A function, to which -half the members of the Senate have been invited, has been fixed for to-morrow. The majority of honorable senators have intimated to me that they would rather not meet to-morrow, and I have given way to their wishes, although, personally, I should very much like to have gone on with the business.
Question resolved in’ the affirmative.
Seriate adjourned at 9.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 April 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040414_senate_2_18/>.