2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if the Government have communicated with the Governments of the States of South Australia and Western Australia in reference to the. transAustralian railway, and, if So, has he any objection to informing the Senate as to the nature of the communications and the replies received ?
– The Prime Minister has communicated by telegram with, the Premier of Western Australia asking for information in connexion with the responsibilities of that State, and he has received a reply by telegram that, if the direction and gauge of the proposed trans-continental line is left to the discretion of the Commonwealth, the Government ‘ of Western Australia will be prepared to bear a substantial proportion of any loss which may occur for the first ten years, but “that at this stage they do not . think that thev could state exactly the amount I shall lay the- communications on the table presently.
Postage of Printed Matter
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the ExecutiveCouncil, without notice, the followingquestions : -
The number of post-offices in the State of Victoria which have been “farmed out” or let to -applicants at an annual rate of remuneration, fixed by the Department ?
– Are these questions being asked without notice?
– By arrangement.
– There is no arrangement about it.
– I also desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council these questions: -
– I desire to know, sir, whether the sixth question can be put in that way, seeing that it contains statements which are in conflict with the Standing Orders?
– The Standing Orders provide that in asking a question no facts shall be stated, except such as are necessary to explain the question, and that no argument or imputation shall be permitted. It is very difficult for me. from merely hearing them read, to say whether all these questions are in order or not. I think the bulk of them are in order. I understand that the honorable senator intends to alter one of them.
– I shall alter it in accordance with your suggestion, sir.
– I do not think that Senator Findley expects me to answer his questions straight away. With respect to the interjection that there was an arrangement for him to ask these questions, I desire to say that there was no such’ arrangement, as Senator- Findley will acknowledge.
– Hear, hear.
– In asking the honorable senator to give notice of the questions, I wish to point out what I think should have been pointed out here-long ago. When an honorable senator asks a question without notice, and he is asked to give notice of it, or even when he gives notice of a question, and the preparation of a reply involves a large amount of research, and perhaps communication with the Departments concerned in all the States of the Commonwealth, I think that, instead of giving notice of the question for tomorrow, the notice should be given for such a date as will allow a reasonable time in which to procure the answer. I ask my honorable friend to give notice of his questions.
– I am anxious to get an answer as soon as possible to the last question.
– The honorable senator can split up his questions if he likes.
– I beg to give notice of the last two questions for to-morrow, and of the others for Wednesday next.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of’ the Executive Council, without notice, if he will lay upon the table the report prepared by Sir John Forrest with regard to Lyndhurst as a Federal Capital site?
– I think that the honorable senator is aware that an attempt was made in another place to do the very same thing. The Government have no objection to hear the opinion of such an eminent authority as the Right Honorable Sir John Forrest ; but as that report was made by him as a private member, I do not think that it would be wise for the Government to establish a precedent which would allow any member to make a report on a proposed Capital site, and then to ask that it should be laid upon the table. I know that the honorable senator, or any one else, can move that such a course should be adopted ; but whether the motion would be carried or not is a different question. I think that the very extensive summary which has been published in the press to-day ought to satisfy the honorable senator.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper: -
Western Australian Railway - Telegraphic Correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Convention are received a careful examination of its provisions will be made to see whether the Commonwealth is in any way affected.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Minister take steps to lay upon the table of the Senate all papers relating to -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General will cause extracts of the papers in both instances to he prepared for the purpose of being placed on the table of the Senate.
– In asking the VicePresident of tha Executive Council, upon notice -
I desire to explain that I am following up a question which I previously asked in reference to the action of steam-ship companies’ trading round Australia in preventing blind persons from taking out a ticket from one port to another port, unless they will give them a guarantee that they will not become a charge on the State to which they desire to go. This was rendered necessary under the States laws, because a person afflicted with blindness might become a charge on the State, but since the Commonwealth has legislated in reference to this matter, it is not necessary, and the steam-ship companies are now under no liability in that regard.
– Oh, yes they are.
– I have very good legal advice to the effect that they are under no liability, but they are still compelling persons afflicted with blindness to provide a substantial guarantee that they will not become a charge on. the State. In the case of the Conference of Associations of the Blind, which met recently in - Melbourne, all the delegates who came from other States were compelled to furnish guarantees before the steam-ship companies would provide them with tickets, and in the case of a gentleman who is now touring South Australia as a lecturer on behalf of the Western Australian Government, the steam-ship company refused to take him as a passenger until the Government of Western Australia gave a guarantee that he would not become a charge on the State to which he was going.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– Marvellous as is the memory of my honorable colleague, the
Vice-President of the Executive Council, perhaps it is better that I should be allowed to read the answers to these questions, which are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to- ‘
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to determine the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 14th April (vide page 960), on motion by Senator de Largie -
That this Senate affirms the principle of iron works being established and owned by the Federal Government, for the purpose of manufac. turing pig-iron, and steel from native ore, believing this would be in the best interests of Australian industry, State rights, and Commonwealth prosperity.
Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia). Seeing that at a previous sitting this motion was very forcibly proposed by Senator de Largie, and that at that time almost the whole of the detailed evidence in connexion with the establishment of an iron industry for the Commonwealth was fairly well placed before the Senate, it is unnecessary for me to attempt to give details now. I want particularly to ask the Senate to bear in mind that in discussing a proposition of this character, we are face to face with one of those matters that a Royal Commission has emphasized as important, in a report that has been presented to Parliament. It appears that the Commission, having satisfied itself that the question to be dealt with was one involving great risk and great responsibility, took every care to produce such evidence as would make it clear to Parliament whether, first of all, there was the material required within the Commonwealth for the establishment of an iron industry ; and, secondly, whether, if the material was here, there was really sufficient importance attaching to the industry to permit of its establishment under a certain condition of things. The Commission was appointed, not with the intention that it should inquire whether the industry should be established under the regime of the Commonwealth Parliament, as is suggested by the motion, but for the purpose of ascertaining whether under a bonus system it would be likely to be successful, or to meet the requirements of this young and rising nation.
– Yes; the young nation has arisen. It appears from the whole of the evidence collected by the Royal Commission that there were just and reasonable grounds for reporting to Parliament that this is one of the most important questions that can be dealt with by_ the Commonwealth. At the same time, it is indicated that there is evidence sufficient to show that material of every description necessary for the purpose is to be found within the Commonwealth. The appointment of the Commission showed conclusively that public men connected with the high offices of the Commonwealth had had their attention drawn towards the importance of the industry. They thought it so important that they first of all proposed to give an amount of ^250,000 as a bonus for its establishment. My own opinion with respect to the matter, is that if we can afford to give the slightest consideration to the idea of spending ^£2 50,000 - or at least allowing some one else to spend it - for the purpose of establishing this industry, surely, in the face of the evidence taken, we can afford to spend the money in order that we may con- tral the business and utilize its product to the best advantage. The evidence goes to show practically that the industry can be established by the expenditure, once and for all, of the amount of money that was proposed to be paid as a bonus to some one else to establish it. That being so, it must appeal to every honorable senator who has read the Royal Commission’s report, that to do something that would practically give away the principle of establishing this industry by the Commonwealth, would be conduct for which we should, each and all, receive the direct and certainly the wellearned disapprobation of the people. The gentleman who advocated ‘ the bonus system for the establishment of the iron industry - as per evidence - showed that he was prepared to undertake to provide iron ready for use at a rate per ton which some of the members of the Commission were in a position to say at once put away the idea of any necessity for granting a bonus. But even if that be so, it does not alter the situation. It remains a fact that we have a nation that has been using, and will continue to use, iron and steel, and which, we believe, will use it in greater quantities in future than it has hitherto done. We also have to look forward to a time - and I presume that all the public men of Australia to-day are looking forward to that time - when our own ship-building yards will be established, and will be of such proportions as to supply very largely the requirements of Australia in the matter of her merchant shipping fleet. Therefore the’ establishment of an industry that is so much needed has much to recommend it. In my opinion the industry would employ not merely the. moderate number of hands estimated bv the mover of the motion. It is’ fair to say that he simply estimated those who would be directly employed within foundries for the purpose of producing iron. But we have also to remember that the iron industry employs a considerable number of men who never touch the iron itself. There are those who have to produce the material that is required, apart from the mining of the iron-stone.. The production of those other materials is a very’ considerable factor. There are probably a larger number of miners to be employed in producing the other material necessary for the making of iron than in extracting the iron ore. There is the coal and there is the flux. A considerable quantity of both of those factors is required to produce good iron. That being so, we see at once that, independently of the number of men who would be directly employed in the iron industry, there would be a possibility of the employment of many hundreds of others in industries which are primary to the production of iron. ‘ Surely, this motion should appeal to honorable senators as suggesting a method by which we might possibly employ the whole, or almost the whole, of our present surplus labour. There are a large number of unemployed in some of our States to-day. Whilst that is so, we are importing two of the most important materials used in Australia, iron and steel. We are importing practically everything that we, as a Commonwealth, coul’d produce of a quality fit for use by this nation. By making our own iron and steel we should not only be building up this nation’ in all the healthy requirements of national life, but also providing the bone and sinew of the population with work. Further than that, we should be extending the arts that are contingent to the operations carried on within the iron trade. Therefore, a motion the effect of which would certainly be to bring to this nation the importance that justly belongs- to it, and that would give it facilities for providing that which at present other people have to provide for us, and would do so without our trammelling ourselves with the giving of bonuses, is certainly worthy of adoption by this or any other Parliament. The question that was raised when the motion was tabled, with regard to whether the Constitution would permit the Commonwealth to adopt such a system as is involved in becoming an employer and the producer, apart from the sanction of the States, or from States rights, is one that I have no intention of entering into. But it appears to me that almost anything becomes a State right when the people of a State demand that it is essential to them, and to their civilization and humanity. We have the knowledge that during the last election the principle of the establishment of the iron industry under
Commonwealth control, and of providing for all our requirements in that direction, was very’ largely discussed throughout the whole Commonwealth. More than that, the number of members of Parliament returned on the advocacy of that principle showed unquestionably that the people of the Commonwealth are rising to the necessity of this policy. If there is any constitutional disability standing in their way, I am prepared to believe that they look on this matter as being of so much importance as affecting ‘ their welfare, that they will take the proper means to remodel or vary the Constitution so as to remove that disability to the advancement of the general welfare of the Commonwealth. Therefore I trust that the motion as submi.ted will not only meet with the hearty support of the Senate, and of another place, but that there will be that hearty co-operation in its principle . which will at once give an incentive to its immediate application to a question that demands the most candid consideration of every member of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– When this motion was under discussion before, Senator Playford gave us an opinion from the Attorney-General that the principle contained in it was ultra vires of the Constitution. I do not intend’ to enlarge on that subject, except to say that I am not a State Socialist, and that if the motion goes to a division I shall vote against it.
– I am in the position of having very little to reply to in this debate.
– There is the constitutional point.
– I replied to that very fully when I was introducing my motion. I simply desire to say that even if there is any necessity for the alteration of the Constitution - and I do not think that there is - seeing that the Prime Minister, in outlining his policy in another place yesterday, proposed in regard to another industry to do something similar to what I propose in connexion with the iron industry, I think the same principle might very well apply in this case. If there is any necessity to alter the Constitution- in order that the Commonwealth may take the matter in hand, that can be done. Having perused the opinion given bv Mr. Deakin, when he was Attorney-General, I am under the impression that no alteration of the Constitution is necessary. Be that as it may, the contention does not act against the merits . of the motion to any appreciable degree. I regard this as a question of very great significance to the Commonwealth, the iron trade being one of the most important in civilized countries ; and the wonder is that it has not been established in Australia before now. On a former occasion, I explained very fully the reasons why the iron industry was not established long ago in New South Wales. Those reasons were principally fiscal, and arose under the free-trade regime of that State. Had the policy of New South Wales been protectionist, I believe ah attempt would have been made years ago to establish the industry. Under all the circumstances, we cannot stand any longer in the way of the establishment of the. iron trade. Were the industry to be established in works owned by a State Government, or in works promoted by private enterprise, I feel quite sure that there would not result the same satisfaction and confidence as would follow the adoption of the proposal now before the Senate. We have to recognise that State rights may be affected. If a State-owned works was established, I should have the same objection, though, perhaps, to not quite so great a degree, as I should have to the manipulation of the trade by private individuals. Works owned by a State would place every other Government in Australia at the mercy of that State, which could charge what it liked for the iron required for the carrying on of various Government Departments, especially the Railway Departments. This is a monopoly which we should not lightly palce in the hands of even a State Government. It would be much more satisfactory if the industry were under the control of the Australian Government.
– The Australian Government, like a State Government, could charge what prices they chose.
– I do not think so.
– The difference is that each State would be part manager of the works.
– And if more were- charged to a particular State, that State would get a share of the profits. However,. I do not anticipate any such contingency.. I am not aware of any Government Department overcharging for services rendered ina public sense ; indeed, it is often said that the charges for the various functions performed by Governments are placed’ too low, and “that the Departments in consequence are not run on what are called commercial principles. For that reason I should not agree to any State Government having control of these important iron works. I have already pointed out that there is not room in Australia for more than one iron works; and, that being so, it is seen at- a glance that the industry must be a monopoly, whether it be in the hands of a State Government or in the hands of a private individual. Under the circumstances I think that, however strong may be the opinion of honorable senators as “ private enterprisers,” it will be conceded that such a monopoly would not be in the best interests of Australia. I hope that honorable senators, having viewed the matter from that stand-point, and being convinced of the necessity of having the trade established, will vote in support of the motion, as an indication to the present or some future Government that the matter should be taken up and’ legislated upon at the earliest possible date.
Question put. The Senate divided.
resolved in. the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) proposed -
That Order of the Day No. 2 be an Order of the Day for Thursday, 16th June.
– This order of the day relates to the compulsory drilling of youths. I desire to know whether the honorable and learned senator intends to proceed with the motion on the date he has mentioned, because I should like to have the matter settled.
– Quite so. I shall be prepared to proceed on the 16th June.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Old-age Pensions. Debate resumed from 17 th March (indi page 664), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, in order to provide the necessary money for the payment of old-age pensions and for other purposes, the Commonwealth Government should undertake the manufacture and sale pf tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.
That the foregoing resolution be referred to the House of Representatives, with a message requesting their concurrence therein.
That a Select Committee, consisting of six members of the Senate and the mover, be appointed with power to sit and confer with a similar number of members of the House of Representatives, to inquire into, and report on the best method of carrying the foregoing resolution into effect.
– I shall be very brief in my reply, because the Opposition has been conspicuous by its absence. The only conclusion that one can come to is that the opponents of the motion are waiting for a more convenient season, or exhibit a wonderful dearth of material.
– I asked for more information before action is taken.
– There was plenty of information at the disposal of honorable senators. I occupied five or six pages of Hansard, and I do not suppose the honorable senator desired me to monopolize that publication.
– What I said was that we had not sufficient information before us, seeing that nobody connected with the trade had been examined.
– The only objection raised - and I notice that it has been repeated by a newspaper in this city - was that in France the price of tobacco, under a monopoly, is high, and the quality poor.
– That is not true.
– It is an absolute misstatement of fact, seeing that the price in France is about one half the average price in Australia. In France the price is 3s. 9d. a pound, as compared’ with an average price in Australia of 6s.
– The higher price here is on account of the duty.
– The people of Fiance must be satisfied with the quality of the tobacco supplied to them, or they would not smoke such large quantities as to give the Government a revenue of ^15,000,000 annually.
– I am weaning myself off tobacco in view of the stuff that will be turned out of the Government factories.
– r-The weaning may be good for the honorable senator, but will certainly be bad for the revenue. I shall not take up time by putting forward arguments for the opponents of the motion; let them put forward their own arguments, and we shall bowl them over. It is a poor thing for my opponents to say to me, “ Having put your own case, put ours, and reply to it.” It is for the Opposition to show that the arguments which I put forward are not capable of proof.
Question put. The Senate divided.’ Ayes … …. … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The Senate will now proceed to ballot for a Select Committee, consisting of six honorable senators and the mover.
– According to our Standing Orders the mover for the appointment of a Select Committee is not necessarily included in’ the Committee.
– The resolution says that the mover shall be a member.
– Does the resolution override our Standing Orders?
– The Standing Orders provide that, “ unless otherwise ordered,” all Select Committees shall consist of seven members.
– I have no objection to the mover being a member of the Select Committee ; but I desire to know whether the motion can override our Standing Orders, which say that the mover shall not necessarily be appointed.
– But the resolution states that the mover shall be- a member of the Committee.
– - Before we proceed to the ballot, sir, I desire to know whether it is necessary to mark the name of the mover on the ballot-paper, seeing that he is necessarily a member of the. Select Committee.
– I cannot see anything in the Standing Orders which would prevent that from being done. Standing order 277 says -
Unless otherwise ordered, all Select Committees shall consist of seven senators.
That does not say that the Senate shall not be authorized to order that the mover of the motion be a member.
– Look at standing order 278.
– Iri South Australia the practice was to appoint the mover and six other members.
– We must be guided by our own Standing Orders. - I dp not think it is necessary for a senator to vote for the mover j he is required to vote for six other senators.
– - I do not rise, sir, to dispute your ruling, but to recall to your recollection the debate on that very point, in which, I think, Senator McGregor took part. We recognised that it was not desirable because a senator moved for a Select Committee that he should necessarily be on it. We decided that the Senate could if it chose, in making the selection by ballot,. leave out the name of- the mover.
– There is really no question before the Chair.
– I desire to know, sir, whether you rule that if by any chance the mover of this motion were excluded, trie ballot would be invalid on that ground.
– I do not say anything of the sort. What I do say is that the Senate has already ordered, that the mover be a member df the Select Com- >mittee.
– Can we vote for only six senators?
– I decline to take part in the ballot.
– As I have been referred to, I think that I might be allow’ed to point out to Senator Clemons that I thoroughly understand the .position. If a motion were moved by an honorable senator for the appointment of a Select Committee, and it were, not distinctly stated in’ the. motion that the mover be a member of the Select ‘Committee, his name could then be left out, but in this motion it is distinctly stated that the mover shall be on the Select Committee.
– I beg, sir, to draw your attention to standing order 278, which says that- -
The Senators to serve on a Select Committee shall bc nominated by the mover; but if one senator so demand, they shall be selected by ballot.
I desire to ask you, sir, whether any honorable senator has demanded that a ballot shall take place?
– If an honorable senator has not so demanded, will you call on Senator Pearce to nominate the senators whom he desires to serve on the Select Committee.
– No. What I understand the standing order to mean is that if an honorable senator moving a motion for a Select Committee wishes to nominate the members he can do so, but it is for the Senate to appoint them.
– Are we to strike out seven or six names on the ballot-paper?
– The honorable and learned senator can strike out seven names if he includes that of Senator Pearce, otherwise he must strike out six names.
A ballot having been taken,
– I have to announce that the Select Committee will consist of Senators Findley, Gray, Keating, Playford, Stewart, Styles, and the mover, Senator Pearce.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Select Committee have power to call for persons, papers, and records, and to report this day month.
The Order of the Day for the bringing up of the report of the Select Committee, on the case of Senator J-t.-Col. Neild, having been read; Motion (bv Senator Playford) agreed to - That the Committee have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to this day fortnight.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Senate adjourned at 3.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 May 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040519_senate_2_19/>.