2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m.., and read prayers.
Petition received and read.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral in a position to state the intentions of the Government concerning the refund of duty paid on China oil ?
– My h norable friend will remember that the answer to his previous question was that there were difficulties in connexion with the legality of refunding the money. I have not had an opportunity to further consider the matter, but I shall do so as early as I can, and communicate with my honorable friend.
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
D.A.G. and C.S.O.”?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows: -
In the absence of Major-General Hutton, it is not possible at present to satisfactorily answer this question. If the honorable senator desires, the Minister will communicate with the MajorGeneral on the subject.
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The inquiries made may be more conveniently and satisfactorily dealt with in the form of a return, and if the honorable senator will take an opportunity of moving accordingly for the information sought the Government will treat the motion as formal.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
The Attorney-General replied - “11. The names and tonnage of vessels cannot be given at present, as, until the contract is about to be made, the firm cannot determine what vessels now owned by them shall be employed in the services, or what other vessels shall be bought or chartered “-
How were the Government enabled to say in the memorandum concerning the proposed extension that “ the whole of the six (6) steamers employed in this service are ocean-going vessels,” if the names and tonnage of vessels cannot be given at present?
– With deference to the honorable senator, the matters referred to do not appear to me to be an appropriate subject for a question requiring an answer from the Government.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The inquiries made may be more conveniently and satisfactorily dealt with in the form of a return, and if the honorable senator will take an , opportunity of moving accordingly for the information sought the Government will treat the motion as formal.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Government introduce a Bill early next session with the object of bringing about uniformity of the marriage laws of the Commonwealth ?
– I cannot promise, but the matter will not be overlooked when the programme for next session is being considered.
Meteorology: Imperial Affairs
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice- -
If, .during the proposed meeting of State Premiers aiia the Prime Minister in Hobart next month, the Government will arrange for a conference of the State Meteorologists, with a view to the taking over of their different Departments by the Commonwealth ?
– The suggestion will be considered.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– Sir Frederick Pollock seems to contemplate the subject being first considered at the next Premiers’ Conference, to be held in London, but I shall take an early opportunity of bringing the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– I move -
That during the remainder of the present session Government business take precedence of all other business, except questions and formal business.
I shall endeavour to give Senator Pulsford an opportunity of moving his motion, in connexion with preferential trade, but, of course, I cannot say on what day the time will be available.
– It would have been infinitely more satisfactory to the Senate, and also to the public, if the Attorney-General had indicated the intentions of trie Government with reference to the business before each House of the Parliament. It is usual, when a Minister of the Crown asks either House of a Parliament to withdraw from private members the opportunity to introduce matters for discussion and legislation, to indicate what the Government’s proposals are. We have arrived at a time when, I suppose, every one of us is only too anxious to conclude a session which, with the exception of “ knocking off work to carry bricks ‘ ‘ in the form of a general election, has lasted since the beginning of May, 1903. But while we are quite willing to bring .our labours to a close in time to allow honorable senators, who live at a distance, to reach their homes before Christmas Day, I think that the Attorney-General might have extended his remarks sufficiently to indicate what the Government propose to ask the Senate to do, and when there is a probability of our labours terminating, I intend to vote against the motion, unless he is courteous enough to give us some information on those points. There is business of material public importance standing on the notice-paper in the names of private senators, and while if the sole object of the Ministry be to bring the session to a speedy conclusion, I am prepared to vote with them on the motion, I am not prepared to vote with them if the session is to be prolonged by the introduction of all kinds of matters which there is no hope of bringing to a termination. Suppose, for instance, that the Ministry desire to obtain Thursday afternoon, which is private business day,- for the purpose of discussing the Iron Bonus Bill. We know perfectly well that two or three Thursday afternoons would not provide sufficient time for such a contentious measure to be dealt with during the present session. The AttorneyGeneral tells us that he intends to endeavour to give Senator Pulsford time to submit a motion in connexion with preferential trade. That question cannot be settled by private members giving up their time. If the Government require to obtain a decision from the Senate, weeks of discussion will be necessary. If the debate is only to be a little bit of courteous byplay to a faithful supporter, I have no objection ; but if the session is to terminate this year, such questions ought not to be brought on.
– Is there any reason why the session should end?
– Apparently not, judging from what takes place in another branch of the Legislature. Apparently there is a possibility of the session going on for ever, like the brook. But the Senate at least has shown a reasonable brevity in its debates, a cogency of reasoning, and a promptitude in coming to divisions that reflects credit upon every one concerned. If the Federal Parliament is becoming rather notorious for long-winded discussions, that reflection does not apply to the members of the Senate. I hope that what I have said will not be taken by the leader of the Senate as inimical either to his own well-being or that of his colleagues, but that the honorable and learned senator will vouchsafe to the Chamber some explanation as to what the intentions of the Government are. If those intentions are reasonable I shall vote with him. If not, I shall vote against him. If private business is to be abolished in favour of a motion’ by Senator Pulsford that cannot possibly lead to anything definite, I shall certainly deem it to be mv duty to vote against the motion submitted by my honorable and learned friend.
– I think that the Attorney-General and his colleagues have been getting their business through the Senate .with sufficient rapidity to permit of our retaining Thursday afternoon for private business. I do not believe that when members of the Government have Iain awake at night considering the prospects, they ever expected, in their most hopeful moments, to get their business through as rapidly as has been the case in this Chamber. I am sure that the Attorney-General will be willing to admit that. I might have been prepared to support the motion had I received better treatment from ‘him this afternoon. But when I find that I cannot get information from the Government I must object to their desire to take away time from private senators. I have asked a series of questions as to whether a certain firm has carried out the provisions of its contract, and the AttorneyGeneral dismissed them with the reply that he thought they were proper subjects for a return.
– But he offered to treat such a motion as formal.
– I did not hear that. . I am somewhat mollified by that statement. But we who have previously moved for returns, know that sometimes they have not been forthcoming for several months. If t’he Attorney-General “ will be good enough- to add that he will see that the return is prepared before Parliament goes into recess, I shall waive any objection to private business being shelved. One of the matters ‘ to come before Parliament is a proposal to pay a subsidy of ^12,000 to a certain firm. I have serious objections to that, and if the Government can furnish me with sufficient information, I think that I shall be able to induce the Senate to support me in my objection. If I cannot get information from the Attorney-General in response to questions, I must adopt some other course, and one of the alternative* courses seems to be to object to a proposal that the Government shall have all the available time until the end of the session. Let me remind the Attorney-General that when he was leader of the Opposition, and when Senator Matheson asked a series of questions, the honorable and learned senator sympathized very deeply with him because he was treated similarly to what I have been treated this afternoon. He then said that an insult and an affront had been offered to Senator Matheson, whose questions were not answered. If Senator Neild calls for a division, I shall vote with him.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia - Attorney-General). - I am very glad indeed that when Senator Higgs’ attention was called to the fact that I had promised to treat a motion for a return as formal, he felt a little mollified. I do not recollect the occasion to which he refers, when Senator Matheson asked a series of questions, but I am perfectly satisfied that, if he was treated with the same courtesy and desire to give information as my honorable friend, Senator Higgs, has received, there was no occasion for sympathy.
– The questions were regarding some actions of Sir John Forrest, then Minister of Defence.
– There have been so many occasions when Senator Matheson has referred to Sir John Forrest, that I am unable at this moment to recall the particular incident, but I shall take an opportunity at a later period to refresh my memory. I am sure that Senator Higgs will not feel on reflection that there is any desire to withhold information. While, of course, I cannot undertake that the return shall be furnished at any particular period, I shall press for an early compliance with the motion. If the information is available, it will probably be furnished at once, and if it is not immediately available it will be furnished as soon as possible.
– It ought to be available.
– As to what Senator Neild has said, of course the object of the motion is to facilitate the .despatch of business. I did not take his remarks as inimical to myself or to the Government, nor was I able to discover any discourtesy in his criticism. I can assure him that the motion is not moved for the purpose of giving precedence to Senator Pulsford’s motion. But when that honorable senator gave notice of his motion, he asked for an opportunity to have it discussed, and I promised him that an opportunity would be afforded. I intend to carry out that promise, but I am unable to say on what day. the motion will be brought forward.
– What I desired to indicate was that the discussion on Senator Pulsford’s motion could not be brought to a close, but that there were other motions on the paper that might be finally dealt with.
– I have taken all these matters into consideration. Other motions on the paper have been there for a very long time, and might have been moved at an earlier date. But we cannot satisfy every one, and we must do the best we can.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable a motion to be moved, without notice, with reference to hours of sitting.
– In accordance with the intimation which I made on Friday, and to carry out the general wish expressed by honorable senators, I move -
That, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting on each sitting day during the remainder of the present session be half-past ten o’clock in the morning.
I do not think I need say a word in support of the motion. The general feeling is that we ought to meet in the morning. It will be noticed that the motion says, “unless otherwise ordered,” so that the time of meeting can be altered at any time.
– I should like to know the reason for this hurry at the present stage. The AttorneyGeneral has given no reason for submitting this motion. It would have been much better had he and those who support him paid a little more attention to work earlier in the session. If they had done so>, it would not now be necessary to resort to this as a kind of extreme step.
– Better late than never !
– I would point out that we have before us several Bills of great importance.
– All the more reason for meeting early.
– I, at any rate, am anxious to have some time to consider the attitude which I shall take up in regard to those measures. Under ordinary circumstances, I should devote the forenoon to such business, but the Attorney-General apparently desires us to come here at halfpast 10 o’clock in the morning, prepared to deal right off with whatever business is on the paper. I object to that method of transacting public business. We are responsible for legislation, though that responsibility seems to sit very lightly on some honorable senators. The Defence Bill is of great importance, and it is a measure on which I am sure we shall hear
Senator Matheson often, and at great length. I, too, desire to say something in regard to its provisions.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we should meet at 9 o’clock in the morning?
– I am not suggesting anything of t’he kind, my opinion being that if we meet at half -past 2 o’clock in the afternoon, as hitherto, we shall do very well. I know that our New South Wales friends are extremely anxious to “ shut up shop “ and get into recess ; that is all they care about. I am also aware that the Government are anxious to get away from the fire of opposition - to get out of range, so to speak.
– The honorable senator is mistaken; the Government are never so happy as when within range.
– The AttorneyGeneral protests too much. I observe that he is extremely glad .occasionally to get behind the ramparts, and the cover on this occasion means recess. It must not be forgotten that we have the Estimates to deal with.
-Col. Gould. - I suppose we shall swallow the Estimates straight away.
– Yes, bolt them without mastication ; but that is an extremely foolish proceeding.
– The Estimates might choke us.
– They might, but, what is of more consequence, they might choke the tax-payers; and if the AttorneyGeneral has no consideration for the latter, I have. The intention appears to be to close the session before Christmas. I have no objection to concluding the business a week before that season.
– What is the use of that to Western Australian senators, who would not then be able to get home by Christmas ?
– Western Australia is a very unimportant part of the Commonwealth, and we ought to consider Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales more than we do. Queensland and Western Australia are two of the outposts of the Commonwealth - sort of back-block distant relations, so to speak. Hitherto, those States have received very little consideration from either t’he Government or the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia.
– More money is spent per head in Western Australia and Queensland than in the other States.
– But those States contribute more per head of the taxation.
– There are not so many heads.
– This is a digression ; but Senator Playford ought to know that the cost of government is greater in the two States I have mentioned than in the more closely settled communities. I suppose that the Government, if we do meet at half -past 10 o’clock, will keep us sitting until late at night, so that we shall have no opportunity to look up information as to the Estimates, or to prepare ourselves for the ordinary business. Why not meet after Christmas if necessary? I should be quite ready to come here early in January.
– Why not sit straight on?
– I have no objection, but I suppose the honorable senator’s religious scruples would stand in the way of our meeting on Sundays.
– Would Senator Stewart be willing to attend on New Year’s Day?
– Yes, and even on Sunday. I trust the Senate will consult its own dignity by refusing to adopt an innovation of the character proposed.
-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I have not been able to obtain from the Attorney-General any idea as to what are the definite intentions of the Government, supposing there are any definite intentions, as to the course of business. If this motion has any meaning, it is that we are to meet on Wednesdays at half-past 10 o’clock in the morning. If that is so, the Government is- either going to run a risk, or ask senators from New South Wales to do something that is rather unreasonable.
– Can the honorable senator not stay in Melbourne for one week end, as other honorable senators have to do regularly?
.- I do not trouble myself about Senator McGregor’s personal arrangements : perhaps he has nothing to do in South Australia, while senators from’ New South Wales may have business to transact within their own State. If the Senate meets at half-past 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning, New South Wales senators will have to arrive here on the Tuesday, and spend the day and night doing nothing.
– What a hardship !
.- It would be much better to meet on the Tuesday instead of wasting the best part of twenty-four hours. On the other hand, if the AttorneyGeneral cares to risk divisions without the attendance of senators from New South Wales, that is his “concern, as responsible for the conduct of public business. The New South Wales senators are pretty regular in their attendance, and I again point out that the Attorney-General may have to take the risk of divisions on Wednesday morning without their presence.
– I am perfectly willing that the Senate should meet on Tuesday. The Senate has on many occasions considered the disabilities under which New South Wales senators labour, and the time has arrived when the latter may fairly return the courtesy extended to them.
– I agree with what Senator Pulsford has said. I suggest that there is no reason why we should not meet on Saturday this week.
– I can scarcely understand this new-born zeal on the part of honorable senators from New South Wales. Senator Neild might consent to sacrifice himself on the altar of duty for his country’s sake, and come to Melbourne a day earlier than he has been in the habit of doing. I ask Senator Neild to remember that at least eighteen of the thirty-six senators have, for the last three or four years, laboured under the inconvenience to which he is now objecting on his own account.
– I propose that we meet on Tuesdays.
– One honorable senator has suggested Saturday, and I suppose some one else will propose that we meet on Sunday. I am prepared to fall in with the proposal of the AttorneyGeneral. .
– I have entire confidence that the Government and the Attorney-General will do their best to bring the session to a close in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I support the motion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia - Attorney-General). - All of us who come from what I may call the near States have great, reason to be grateful to our fellow-senators from the more remote States, who have been unable to visit their homes from week to week. Personally, I feel ex’tremely; grateful to those honorable senators ; and the least we can do, when public business and the occasion demand it, is to follow their example without grumbling, or making a grievance. Let us sit right up to the week end, if necessary, in order to do our duty to the country. I care no more than any other honorable senator to be here more than is necessary.
– The honorable and learned senator has been away from the Senate in the past more than anybody else.
– But, perhaps, I may be more useful than some other honorable senator when I am here. I think that interjection is very unnecessary, and, if I may say so, not in accord with that courtesy for which the honorable senator is famous. I should be extremely sorry if any business of importance were transacted in the absence of senators from New South Wales. Senator Neild has thrown out hints - I do not say threats - as to what may happen if we sit at half-past ten o’clock. I should deeply deplore the absence of those honorable senators, but if they are not here, we must do our best to get through the business without them. We value their presence - I hope they will not consider this mere lip service - and the Government desire their support when that can- be given in accordance with their conscience. But if those honorable senators, as I say, cannot be here, we shall have to do without them. I am not submitting this motion with a view to bringing honorable senators here to “ kick their heels “ for an afternoon. I am prepared to sit on Mondays if the public business requires it, and also on Saturdays, for the matter of that. We are all anxious to get the business done, but I hope no such drastic arrangement as that I have indicated will be necessary. I need not assure every honorable senator that I shall consult their convenience as far as possible. We are not here to do business at the expense of our fellow-senators, or to make arrangements likely to cause trouble. We can only do our best ; but there must be time in which to transact the public business1. I cannot say when I shall ask honorable senators to sit, but if I should have to ask them to meet on Monday and Tuesday, I know I can rely on their cooperation. If we should sit on Monday or Tuesday, and it is found inconvenient to commence business at half-past 10 in the morning, I shall be glad to endeavour to arrange for an afternoon sitting on those days. I once more point out that the motion is conditional, the words used being, “unless otherwise ordered,” so that if the business does not require it, we need not meet in the morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 2 (Amendment of definition).
– It is a very serious omission on the part of the Government that copies of the principal Act have not been supplied to honorable senators.
– It will be found in the volume of Statutes.
– I want it here, and the fact that it is to be found in the volume of Statutes does not, ‘in my opinion, supply the omission on the part of the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appointment of InspectorGeneral “of Military Forces and Director of Naval Forces).
– This clause amends .section 8 of the principal Act, which provides -
The Governor-General may -
Appoint a Military Officer of the King’s
Regular Forces or of the Defence Force to be the General Officer Commanding the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
Forces, or of the Defence Force, to be the Officer Commanding the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth.
Those two sub-sections will by this clause be omitted, whilst the appointment of an InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces and a Director of the Naval Forces is proposed to be substituted. Section 8 of the principal Act further provides : - nr. Appoint any part of the Commonwealth to b» a Military district.
I move -
That the following words be added - “ and by adding the following paragraph : - vin. Appoint an officer or officers of the Defence Force to command the whole or any portion of the Defence Force in time of war.”
The policy is to appoint the InspectorGeneral. The appointment will be made by the Governor-General in the exercise of the royal prerogative, but the desire has been expressed that it should’ be stated in the Bill.
– The officer appointed to command will not necessarily be the InspectorGeneral ?
– He may or may not be, but it is contemplated that he shall be.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section eighteen of the Principal Act is hereby repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : -
Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and petty officers shall be appointed, and shall hold their offices as prescribed.
– Does this clause mean that these officers are to be appointed as prescribed under regulations to be framed under this Bill ?
– Does the AttorneyGeneral consider this clause an improvement upon the provision in the principal Act?
– I do.
– I find that section 18 of the principal Act provides that -
Warrant officers and non-commissioned officers in the Permanent Military Forces shall be appointed by the General Officer Commanding or by officers deputed by him in that behalf.
Warrant officers and non-commissioned officers in the Citizen Military Forces shall be appointed by Officers Commanding Regiments and Corps, subject to the approval of the District Commandant.
We should have some indication as to how these appointments are to be made in future, and some reason should be given for the proposed departure from section 18 of the principal Act.
-My honorable friend will see that under section 18 of the principal Act, to which he has referred, warrant and non-commissioned officers in the Permanent Military Forces are to be appointed by the General Officer Commanding in the Citizen Military Forces, by Officers Commanding Regi-ments and Corps, and in the Naval
Forces by the Naval Officer Commanding, whilst paragraph ‘ 4 of section 18 is practically identical with the section proposed to be substituted for section 18 by this Bill. It cannot be stated with certainty how the appointments and allotment of duties can be best made until we have the new scheme in operation. It is, therefore, felt that it is better that the whole matter should be dealt with by regulation, as well as the terms upon which the appointments are to be held. So far as regards the appointments, what is at present contemplated is that the regulations shall be framed in line with paragraph 2 of section 18 of the principal Act as it now stands; but the matter cannot be absolutely determined until this Bill is passed, and the new scheme is in operation. ‘Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section nineteen of the principal Act is hereby repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “ ro,. - (1) The seniority (other than the regimental seniority) of officers in the Active Forces in their respective ranks shall be regulated by the date of their appointments, and when appointments are of the same date, by their seniority immediately prior to their appointments, or, in the case of first appointments, by the order in which their names appear in the Gazette or Government Gazette of a State or of a Colony which has become a State in which their appointments are notified.
“The regimental seniority of officers shall be as prescribed.”
– Does this clause mean that in the event of the Gazette notices being arranged alphabetically an officer whose surname begins with “ B “ is to be considered senior to an officer whose surname begins with “ R “ ?
– Senator Stewart will see that the object of this clause is not to deal with general seniority. In that respect no change is made. The only change proposed is in connexion with what is called “ regimental seniority.” Sub-clause 1 of the proposed new section 19 leaves untouched existing seniority in the Active Forces. The only change is that word “ appointments “ is used instead of the word “ commissions.” It is1 simply a verbal change in order to secure uniformity with section 8 of the principal Act, which provides that the Governor-General shall appoint and promote officers. There is no alteration in substance, but the change which is made is in regard to regimental seniority, and that in future is to be as prescribed. The object is to get rid of an anomaly which has been the cause of very great inconvenience, and, naturally, of discontent. When an officer left his regiment, or was placed on the unattached list, and subsequently - it might be after an interval of years - went back to the regiment, he kept the old seniority, and a number of officers, who had been serving during his absence, and who naturally were up-to-date, lost the benefit of the intervening service. The usual practice in such cases is for the returning officer to take the position of junior to all those who have continued in active service. Take, for instance, the case of a captain who, having served with his regiment for years, was on the reserve list for ten years in another State, and wished to get back on the active list. Under the existing system he would be placed there with the old seniority, but under this provision he would have to take the position of junior to all those who had gone through the intervening service, that is, if the same ‘ rules be adopted as are adopted in the British Army.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section twenty-eight of the Principal Act is hereby repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “28. - (1) The Governor-General may constitute a Council of Defence, which shall have such powers and functions as are prescribed.
The Governor-General may ‘constitute a Board of Administration for the Military Forces, to be called the Military Board, and a Board of Administration for the Naval Forces, to be called the Naval Board.
The Military Board and the Naval Board shall respectively have such powers and functions as are prescribed.”
– I have given notice of my intention to move an amendment in sub-clause 1. This Council of Defence is to be simply an advisory body. It will advise certain members of the Ministry as to its professional views on various questions ; minutes of its discussions will be recorded, and the Cabinet will afterwards come to its decisions under the influence of the advice which has been received from this “quarter. This will not relieve the Ministry of its responsibilities. That is the description of the Council given in the famous report of Senator Dawson’s Committee. A great many of us feel that it is extremely desirable that the constitution of the Council should not be left en-. tirely to the Government of the day. If the clause were left exactly as it stands, that would be the result. At the present moment we know exactly what the Minister of Defence proposes, because it is set out with, more or less clearness in his memorandum. He proposes that the Council shall consist of the Minister of State for Defence, the Treasurer, the Inspector-General, the Naval Director, and the Chief of General Staff. I propose to adopt that list in the first place, and to move that the first sub-clause be amended by inserting the names of those gentlemen after the word “Defence.” That, I take it, can hardly be a contentious question. Most of us are agreed that Mr. McCay’s proposal is sound up to that point. Later on, if I am successful in carrying my first amendment, I propose to include the Prime Minister and two political members. At the present time, however, I wish, if possible, to deal with that portion of the amendment which is practically noncontentious. Therefore, I move -
That after the word “Defence,”line 5, the following words be inserted - “consisting of
The Minister of State for Defence;
The Inspector-General ;
The Naval Director;
The Chief of General Staff.”
– This is really a very inconvenient way of dealing with the subject. My honorable friend’s amendment, as printed, must be looked at as one and entire. He is not satisfied with putting in these words. His idea is to offer a new policy with regard to the constitution, and in some respects the functions and status of the Council of Defence and also the Military and Naval Boards. The present amendment involved the rejection of the proposals of Senator Dawson’s Committee, and of the proposals of the present Government. It invites the Committee to adopt the scheme of military defence which was advocated by my honorable friend here last year. It means the rejection of everything which has been done since the Deakin Government began to consider the subject. My honorable friend cannot, so to speak, blow hot and cold. He must either accept our policy or reject it. I could understand him saying that where the present Government has departed from the scheme suggested by Senator Dawson’s Committee, a mistake has been made, but he asks the Committee to condemn Senator Dawson’s proposals, as well as our own. To put in these words- would be to approve of our scheme, when his object is to condemn it.
– That is at a later stage.
– The present amendment is only a slice of the proposal which is in print. Does my honorable friend say that the amendment, as a whole, does not present his policy ?
– Not the one I have moved.
– Does my honorable friend say that he is not going to move any more of the amendment in print ?
– The Committee can reject the further amendment.
– We are not here to play skittles with the legislation of the country, but to’ carry out a policy.
– My amendment embodies the policy of the Government, as far as I have gone.
– It is an affirmance of a policy with which my honorable friend disagrees entirely. Does he think that he is treating the Committee quite fairly-; when he proceeds in this way ? It is being placed in an awkward position. I ask honorable senators to notice that this amendment is the first instalment of a policy which is diametrically opposed, in some essential features, to the policy of Senator Dawson’s Committee, and to the policy of the present Government. No responsible person has approved of my honorable friend’s scheme. He wishes the Council to include two political members, but in order to get in a member of either House, he has to reject the provision made for consultative members, in- the other proposals. If a member of each House were included in the Council, it would practically lessen that Ministerial responsibility which my honorable friend says underlies the whole scheme.
– It is simply consultative ; there is no responsibility connected with membership.
– It is not consultative. My honorable friend proposes that the Council shall include a member to be elected by the Senate, and a member to be elected by the House of Representatives. So long as that election continued, these two members would be a kind of offshoot - a kind of additional responsible government - responsible to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. The two Houses might vote “ no- confidence “ in them at some time or other. Such a system would naturally tend to lessen the responsibility of the Government of the day, because these two gentlemen might be merely scapegoats for anything to which exception was taken. Then I say that the consultative members are an essential feature of this scheme. My honorable friend himself, if I recollect rightly, at an earlier period of this session, approved of States Commandants, or States establishments, being represented when their services were required. There cannot be a doubt that it is infinitely to the advantage of the whole project that there should be an opportunity to call in the aid of representatives of the Citizen Forces, and of others who may be capable of giving valuable counsel in respect of matters upon which they are experts. I simply point out these things to the Senate, to illustrate (hat what my honorable friend is proposing to do in his very natural earnestness upon this matter - which we all appreciate - is to supersede the policy advocated by the last Government, and the policy laid before Parliament by the present Government. He proposes to reverse that policy. I venture to think that he would be wise not to press his proposal under the circumstances. In the formal part” of my honorable friend’s proposal he seeks to introduce into this Bill, which ought to be as elastic as possible, a rigid appointment by Act of Parliament of the Council of Defence, the Military Board, and the Naval Board. That would be absolutely fatal to the success of any defence scheme of this kind. If there is one object after which we ought to strive more than another - so long as we retain adequate parliamentary control - it is that the scheme should be elastic. It is impossible, when introducing a new scheme, to lay down everything with iron rigidity. For instance, suppose that when we came to carry out the scheme which has been approved of by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and which has my honorable friend’s approval, except in details, we found that it was necessary to introduce or to drop one or other of the officers proposed, or to make some other arrangement. That could not be done until Parliament met again, if my honorable friend’s proposal were carried. But, under the Bill, as it stands, we could dj it as part of the Government policy, for which we should be responsible. When Parliament met again it could express its opinion without any fresh Bill being passed, the change having been made in the meantime. We leave it to the Government of the day, whoever they may be, to make the appointments, and they are responsible to Parliament. We do everything by regulation, and these regulations, within fifteen days of the meeting of Parliament, may be challenged. If any change is sought to be made, without a fresh Act of Parliament, it may easily be done. And that is so in England. [There, as my honorable friend knows, these appointments are all made by Order in Council. We are following exactly the English method. Why should we in this country, where the Government is responsible, relieve them of responsibility, and shift it on to the shoulders of Parliament, when the Imperial Government with far greater responsibilities, and, of course, a far more extensive area of responsibility in regard to military and naval matters, do these things in an elastic way by Orders in Council ? It has never been suggested in England that it should be put in a Bill. To do so would be to relieve the Government of their just responsibility, and would at the same time make it difficult for them should any immediate change be necessary to carry it into effect. I have said sufficient on the question of substance - and this amendment is one of form, as well as of substance - to show that what my honorable friend proposes to introduce is contrary to the policy of Senator Dawson’s Committee, and to our policy. When I speak of this as a matter of form, I do not use that term in the sense that it is non-controversial, or amounts to nothing. On the contrary, I say that it would be a serious blot on the scheme if we did what my honorable friend desires. But it is a matter of form, in the sense that he desires to have a rigid provision in an Act of Parliament, appointing the individual members unchangably by the names of their offices. I say that that is contrary to the spirit of constitutional and responsible government. It is contrary to the policy adopted in England, in giving effect to what is generally known as the Esher scheme, and it will be a source of great inconvenience in carrying this desirable scheme into effect in the best possible way. Furthermore, it will shift responsibility from the shoulders of the Government, and on to the shoulders of Parliament. I hope, therefore^ that my honorable friend will not press his amendment, either as a matter of substance, or of seeking to make iron-bound appointments in place of what should be elastic. The scheme as it stands leaves the responsibility with the Government. and will enable the scheme to be carried into effect with such modifications as Ministers may be advised to carry out within the ambit of the Bill, of which Parliament will have approved.
-Col. GOULD (New South “Wales). - I have listened with close attention to the remarks of the Attorney-General in his reply to Senator Matheson.. I would remind the Committee that a great deal of the objection that has been raised by Senator Symon relates to a proposal which is not now before the Committee. Senator Matheson’s amendment, which is now under consideration, is that the five persons mentioned - the Minister, of Defence, the Treasurer, the Inspector-General, the Naval Director, and the Chief of the General Staff - shall be embodied in this Bill as forming part of the Council of Defence. I take it that the Government themselves recognise that these persons should be upon, the Council of Defence. If that be the case, then Senator Matheson’s amendment is not in any way contrary to the policy of the Government. When Senator Matheson moves that the other persons mentioned in his proposal shall be appointed, it will be admitted that his proposal will then run counter to that of the Government. It will then be open to the Com<mittee to reject or modify them. It will be open to the Senate to say that the five names mentioned shall form part of the Council of Defence, together with such other representatives’ as the Executive may see fit to appoint. My objection to the Bill has been that it is a bare frame-work upon which anything that the Government of the day may consider necessary may be hung. The Attorney-General, in speaking in opposition to Senator Matheson’s’ amendment, pointed out that there was a difference between the scheme of the late Minister of Defence, Senator Dawson, and the scheme of “the present Government. Does not that difference show at once that it is very possible that, as Governments come and go, changes may take place with regard to the constitution of the Council ?
– Governments are always responsible to Parliament.
– I am aware of that fact, but it is a mistake to put the defences of the country in such a position that there will be no certainty of continuity in regard to the constitution and policy of any body that Parliament may see fit to establish.
– There will be absolute continuity of policy on the Council of Defence.
– That Council may be composed of certain individuals one day and other individuals another day. This Bill may be passed, but there will be nothing to prevent the Government of the day appointing quite other persons to the Council. It is true that thev are responsible to Parliament for whatever they do, but the fact remains that they can substitute other persons if they see fit.’ Thereis nothing in the Bill to prevent them from, doing that. We ought to lay down definiteprinciples, and determine the persons who shall hold these offices by Act of Parliament. Weshall thus insure that our defence policy will be continuous, unless, of course, Parliament sees fit to make an alteration. But, as the Bill stands, the Government can appoint whom they think fit. Indeed, they need not appoint a Council of Defence at all, unless they choose. The clause is permissive.
– The honorable and learned senator knows perfectly well that this scheme has received the approval of the other House, and that its principles have been approved of bv the Senate.
.- I know that. But there is no provision in the Bill which names the individuals who are to form the Council.
– We have named them in this Chamber and in the other Chamber.
.- What legislative authority is that? Suppose the present Government went out of office the day after this Bill became law, does he mean to say that the next Government would be bound by this scheme? The next Government might say - “ We consider the scheme to be wrong, and that it ought to have been amended in such and such a way,” and they might decide to carr)’ out. their ideas. It is true that if they so decide it might brins about a Ministerial crisis, but we should have ourselves to blame for having put such a proposal in this Bill. I do not say that the whole of Senator Matheson’s proposal should be carried ; but so far as it now stands, it is in accord with the policy of the Government as placed before this Chamber. That policy, I admit, has been laid before us with perfect honesty of purpose, and I do not make any complaint in that connexion. In my opinion, however, it is desirable that we should determine how and by whom this Council of Defence is to be constituted. Not one word can be said against any of the gentlemen named here. The Government have said that those gentlemen will be placed on the Council of Defence, and all that is taken exception to is the further proposal which Senator Matheson intends to move at a later stage. I admit also that the Attorney-General has declared that this provision must be elastic, anr! not rigid; but that there should be liberty to substitute other persons, subject to Ministerial responsibility. This, and another place, will go into recess in the course of a week or two, and in the recess drastic changes may take place. This Parliament will have no control over the changes until we meet next session, when member’s may condemn the Government for adopting what is deemed to be an unwise scheme. But the mischief, if any, will probably have been done by that time.
– And the party whip may have been cracked.
.- That is so, and by that means, a scheme may be adopted which would otherwise not commend itself to us. I say, therefore, that if we set forth in the Act how this Council is to be constituted, we shall, at any rate, have some certainty as to who shall be the permanent members. While I recognise Ministerial responsibility, still, there are subjects which should be otherwise dealt with. We cannot say that the whole of the wisdom of Parliament is or is not centred in the Government of the day. We have had two schemes before us within the last few months - the scheme of the late Minister, Senator Dawson, and the scheme of the present Minister of Defence, and one departs from the other in certain particulars.
– The departures are of the slightest character; in one scheme -the Prime Minister is a member of the Council, and in the other scheme he is not a member
– It has also been pointed out that this is a scheme which is founded on one adopted in the old country, though in certain respects, the latter has been departed from.
– And why not? The honorable senator surely does not want us to slavishly follow the old country where the conditions are different?
.- But the Gorvernment appear to have been slavishly following the old country in framing a scheme providing for an absolute change of principle. This scheme has been formulated entirely in the teeth of the recommendations of the late General Officer Commanding, Sir Edward Hutton. The General Officer Commanding took exception to the scheme, and pointed out that there was a great difference -between a force of 2*5,000 and a force of some hundreds of thousands.
– I explained all about that.
.- We have not the benefit of the experience and knowledge which is at the command of England in military affairs. However much our own men may be determined to make themselves proficient, they cannot profess to have the same knowledge or skill which is to be found in the very heart of the Empire. I recognise that we are committed to a change of scheme, and I raise no question as to that just at present. But if we are committed to a change we ought to lav down such rules, in the matters of detail to which the Minister has referred, as will insure certainty in regard to the composition of this as well as of other councils.
– We can almost judge from the objections raised by the Attorney-General to the amendment that the scheme has not had that consideration from the Cabinet which its importance warrants.
– Yes, it has.
– If the Government have thoroughly convinced themselves, why hesitate to provide in’ the Bill for their own proposals? On page 7607 of Hansard the Attorney-General is reported as saying that the proposed Council of Defence will consist of the Minister of Defence, the Treasurer, the Inspector-General, the Naval Director, and the Chief of the General Staff. That is practically what Senator Matheson’s amendment proposes, and I do not see what objection there can be to such a provision. It seems to me that the Attorney-General confined his objection almost solely to the second portion of the amendment, and I am free to confess that there seems to be some force in the objection raised. I cannot agree with him as to the advisableness of having three Ministers on the Council, but it seems to me bad grace on the part of the Government to oppose the first portion of Senator Matheson’s proposal. As Senator
Gould pointed out, while we should have the Council of Defence as sketched by the Government, there would be no statutory force behind it.
– Nor is there in England.
– I do not know that legislation has ‘ reached this stage in England.
– Yes; the Council of Defence is established there.
– But no Defence Bill has been passed in England. -
– The scheme is adopted by Order-in-Council.
– Quite so, but here the circumstances are different. Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - That is merely because we have a Defence Act, and certain amendments have to be’ made to provide for an Inspector-General instead of a General Officer Commanding.
– The system is entirely different here from the system in England.
– Not in that respect.
– There was no necessity to amend the Defence Act in England.
Senator Sir Josiah Symon. ^Because the scheme is proclaimed by Order-in-Council.
– We are doing something, more by this Bill than give the Governor-General power to constitute a Council of Defence.
– That is all.
– Certain proposals were considered by the present and preceding Ministers of Defence, and a decision was arrived at. On that decision a memorandum has been circulated, and now we are asked, on the basis there set forth, to amend the Defence Act. It would be a perfectly fair proposition to say, “ We are prepared to make . the alteration, but we should prefer to see it provided for in the Bill - we should prefer to see the Council made a statutory Council. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to that course. There can be only one reason for objecting, namely, that the Government wish to have power to alter the composition of the Council without consulting Parliament. The Government always have power to make an alteration of the ‘kind by consulting Parliament - an amending Bill can always be introduced. Senator Gould has pointed out that nominally we have the power to criti cise the administration ‘of the Government during recess; but we know how much that power ‘ is shorn of all force, first of all, by the party system of government. In the Senate I admit that we can criticise the Government pretty freely from all sides of the House; but what is the effect ? We have not, or, at any rate, we have not shown that we have, power- over the life of the Government, and, therefore, the Government may disregard our criticism. In another branch of th? Legislature, criticism from Government supporters comes as a friendly act, with no force behind it. If the criticism is from the Opposition, and there is some force behind it, the Government may destroy that force, by making the question a party one. I trust the Committee will accept the amendment, so that the country may know what sort of Council we are constituting. That having been done, we may argue the point raised by the Attorney-General, as to whether we should alter the constitution of the Council, as proposed. I shall support the first portion of Senator Matheson’s amendment.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I should just like to say a word as to the Attorney-General’s remarks on the subject of the procedure in England. The Attorney-General is probably aware that in England there is no such Defence Act as we have. Prom the start we have adopted an entirely different system, and have thought it advisable to lay down by Act, which will have force until repealed, a number of rules in connexion with our Army. It seems to me perfectly logical that we should now go a step further, and adopt the Government scheme - -because that is all I propose at this stage - and provide for the constitution of the Council in the Bill. In England, there is an Act which used to be” called the Mutiny Act, but which is now called the Army Act, and which is passed each year. That Act determines the- size of the standing Army of Great Britain, and all else is left in the hands of the King - that is to say, the King-in-Council. Under that system it was perfectly natural that the Council of Defence should be constituted bv the Government without a Bill. But in Australia, as 1 have said, the circumstances are entirely different. We have adopted another principle from the start, and there is no reason why we should not continue to act on that principle. The other objections raised by the Attorney-General have been met by previous speakers, and, thefefore, I shall not take up any further time.
-I intend to support the Government in this matter.. I should like the AttorneyGeneral, however, to show some connexion between the Bill and the memorandum in which the scheme is set out. My impression is, that we may trust the Government to carry out what is laid down in the memorandum, and all I ask now is whether there is not some way in which a connexion can be shown between the two.
– I am much obliged to Senator Walker for calling my attention to that point. If he will allow me to say so, the honorable senator has made a perfectly legitimate and proper inquiry, which enables me to say that I am astonished at the view of constitutional government which has been put forward by Senator Gould. I confess that I was positively staggered at the opinions expressed by the honorable and learned senator. If the late Government had been in power, and Senator Dawson, as Minister, had had his scheme dealt with, first by this, or the other House, either on the Estimates, as in the other Chamber, or on a Defence Bill, which is the appropriate way in this Chamber, the passing of either the Estimates, or the second reading of the Bill, would have been an approval of the Government scheme of defence.
– An approval of the principle.
– Of course - that is, of the scheme, and of its details.
– What is the object of going into Committee?
– We are not in Committee on the scheme, which has been adopted in principle, and in detail.
– We have adopted the principle of a Council of Defence.
– What is the objection to providing for the details in the Bill?
– In the first place the Government proposes its scheme to Parliament. It is adopted, and it is proposed to give it effect by means of a Bill. That is necessary in order that different language may be substituted for that used in the principal Act to give effect to the new scheme. , The scheme in this instance is : No General Officer Commanding - instead, an Inspector-General, a
Council of Defence, and a Military Board; and, for Naval matters, the Council of Defence, a Naval Director, and a Naval Board. That is the scheme carried out by this Bill.
– Undoubtedly, and when the Government in their scheme say that the Council of Defence shall consist of five members, is it not just as easy to> put them in the Bill ?
– We provide for five members of the Council of Defence who may be referred to as permanent or official members, but there is no limit as regards the consultative members of the Council. The amendment which Senator Matheson desires to make in this Bill is the substitution of his own scheme, which differs altogether from ours. The honorable senator proposes to start with the insertion of the five permanent members of that Council, but does he propose to insert the names of the consultative members as well?
– The honorable senator can move in that direction.
– I donot propose to do anything of the kind.
– It is competent for the honorable senator to move such an amendment.
– That is so; but the responsibility will not be mine, and my honorable friend will be obliged to move that amendment if he succeeds in inducing the Committee to insert the names of the five permanent members of the Council.
– We shall come to that directly.
– My honorable friendis trying to delude the Committee.
– As a point of order, I ask whether the honorable senator is in order in saying that I am trying to delude the Committee?
– I shall not trouble the Chairman to give a ruling. 1 withdraw the delusion part of it, and T say that the effect of my honorable friend’s amendment would be to mislead the Committee. The honorable senator will permit me to say that he is not genuine in seeking to put these names in as a part of the Government scheme. He desires to put them in as a part of his own scheme, and if he is supported theComimittee will have mangled the Government scheme with out having substituted the scheme suggested by the honorable senator.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– That will be so, if the Committee does not carry the proposal to add the Prime Minister, a member of the Senate,, and a member of the House of Representatives to the Council of Defence.
– How will the Committee have mangled the Government’s scheme ?
– Because the Committee will have put in the five names of the permanent members of the Council, and will not have put in the names of the consultative members.
– Could not the honorable senator move that their names should be put in?
– No. because I am opposed to any names being put in. The responsibility for putting in the names of the consultative members would not be mine. Do not honorable senators see the illogical position in which they are invited to place themselves ? My honorable friend says in effect, “ We shall not trust the Government to carry out the policy which they have asked Parliament te approve, in regard to the personnel of the Council of Defence, but we are prepared to trust them as to the powers and functions of the members of the Council of Defence, which are to be prescribed by regulations.” I should have thought that it would have been considered of far more importance that we should put in the Bill the powers and functions of the Council of Defence, rather than that we should insert in- the Bill merely the personnel. But my honorable friend does not propose that. By the clause we propose that the Governor-General may constitute a Council of Defence, which shall have “ such powers and functions as are prescribed.” Senator Matheson proposes to trust the Government, on their responsibility, to confer upon the Council of Defence whatever powers and functions they -please, but the honorable senator will not trust them as to the personnel. The honorable senator would also deprive them of the right1 to call in consultative members when that might be thought necessary.
– Pardon me.
– I pardon my honorable friend, of course, but his offence still remains.
– The honorable senator’s statement is without any justification.
– We have my honorable friend’s amendment before us in print, and he eliminates the consultative members of the Council of Defence
– - Where do I say that?
– Of what use is it for my honorable friend to take up that attitude? We have the honorable senator’s proposal extant in beautiful English.
– I have never touched on the question.
– My honorable friend substitutes for the Council of Defence these five names, plus the Prime Minister, a member to be elected by the Senate, and a member to be elected by the House of Representatives, and eliminating the consultative members.
– I propose to move the addition of those gentlemen to the permanent . members of the Council, and not that they shall take the place of the consultative members.
– Does my honorable friend say that he did’ not intend to eliminate the consultative members ?
– - I shall deal with that later on. I have never said anything about that. I make no statement in advance.
– The honorable senator is prevaricating with the Court.
– I do not wish to say that. We are aware df the devoted attention which a hen with one chick pays to that one chick, and my honorable friend must be confined to what he has proposed. What the honorable . senator has proposed is a scheme which eliminates the consultative members of the Council of Defence, and substitutes the Prime Minister, a member of the Senate, and a member of the House of Representatives. I am sure that my honorable friend will not feel justified in putting his proposal before the Committee in any other way. Of course, if the Committee desired to put the whole of our scheme into a schedule to the’ Bill,’ that could be done. It is before us in print, it has been declared in Parliament, and as Senator Matheson admits, it has been ratified in principle by both Houses. It is perfectly competent for the Committee to put the scheme which has been approved into a schedule to this Bill, but would it not be absurd to do so?
– Hear, hear.
– Then why put in the personnel of the Council of Defence ?
– For very good reasons.
– My honorable and learned friend has not given one yet, though I suppose he has some to advance. If we put in the personnel of the Council of Defence, why should we stop there? Why Should we not also put in the powers and functions of the Council ? Why trust the Government with the powers and functions to be conferred upon the Council of Defence?
– That is more important.
– It is infinitely more important. The responsible Government, which in the six months before the Senate meets again is to do all this mischief, is to be trusted to govern the Army and Navy of Australia, and to confer whatever powers and functions it pleases upon the Council of Defence, but it is to be rigidly tied down to the names of the members of the Council which it is proposed shall be inserted in this Bill. The Imperial Government is trusted with far more responsibility.
– There is no Defence Act in the United Kingdom. There is the Army Act.
– What is the Army Act but a Defence Act?
– It contains but four sections, empowering the Government to raise troops. I have it here.
– My honorable friend has it beside him, but I have it all in my head- It provides for everything essential, so far as Army and Navy administration is concerned.
– It contains three sections and a schedule.
– Is not that sufficient? Honorable senators will see that the responsibility of the Minister of Defence is proportionately as great here as anywhere else ; but in the United Kingdom, > there is an Army intended to defend the Empire all .over the world - speaking of those parts where it is necessary that the Possessions of the Empire should be defended, and where no defence is locally provided for. So also with the Navy, and yet in Great Britain this particular matter of defining the personnel of the Council of Defence is dealt with in the same way as we propose. For their OrdersinCouncil, we substitute the GovernorGeneral’s regulations, which must be laid before Parliament, and the two things are identical. If we should not define the more important matter, and deal definitely in this Bill with the powers and functions of the Council of Defence - and the honorable senator does not propose to do so - we should not rigidly insert in this Bill the names of five of the members of the Council of Defence, when no mention is to be made of the consultative members who may be unlimited in number, and will be called in for their advice by the members of the Council.
– They might be very necessary at times.
– There is no doubt they will.
– Could we not add a short proviso to the effect’ that in addition to these members, consultative members might be called in ?
- Senator Matheson confines his proposal to five members of the Council, the Prime Minister, a member of the Senate, and a member of the House of Representatives, and if that proposal were accepted it would ruin this Bill.
– If we insert merely the words which are to be found in the printed statement of the Government scheme, what harm will there be in that ?
– I yield to Senator Gould on matters relating to military questions. I do not profess to have expert knowledge concerning them, but I am dealing with the matter from the point of view of having a scheme which is acceptable to Parliament, and which must be carried into effect at the earliest possible moment, otherwise we shall have a chaotic interregnum. If honorable senators trust Parliament and the Government, what is proposed is unnecessary, but if they say that they distrust the Government, and believe that it will go back upon the scheme which Parliament has approved, and we must, therefore, put in the names as Senator
Matheson proposes, we should also put in all the powers and functions.
– The honorable and learned senator has already pointed out that that could not be done.’
– That is the more important part of the matter. Senator Matheson’s proposal is not to trust the Government in one respect, but to leave to the Council of Defence the selection of the consultative members, the representatives of the Citizens Forces and expert officers.
– There is a good deal in having a good team, and knowing your horses.
– But under Senator Matheson’s proposal we cannot know the horses, because we can have no knowledge of the individuals.
– We shall know that certain members of the Council will be charged with certain duties.
– Still, Senator Matheson is leaving it to the Government to choose the individuals, and that must affect the essence of the efficiency of the Council. If the proposal were to put in the names of individuals, there might be some justification for it, but the honorable senator does not propose that. He has referred to Major-General Hutton’s objec-tions, and if he opposed the scheme altogether on the ground that hie agreed with Major-General Hutton’s criticism, I could understand him. The honorable senator proposes that we should put in the titles of those members of the Council of Defence, whilst he does not propose that’ we should state in the Bill, what is of greater importance, their powers and functions, and he further leaves it to the Government to choose the men who are to fill these offices.
– They might alter the whole Council.
– They might with that power alter the whole Council, and substitute another set of men. The titles of the persons holding these offices are of no importance. I hope it will not be supposed that I undervalue the suggestions which’ have been made, but I trust that, as it is imperative that we should have this Bill passed at the earliest possible moment, in order that the scheme put forward by the Government and approved by Parliament shall be carried into effect, we shall not seek to have some unimportant portion of the scheme put rigidly into the Bill, which cannot be altered until another session of Parliament is held, and which might embarrass the Government and interfere with the working of the entire scheme.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - The Attorney-General has endeavoured to make it appear that I suggest, or propose to suggest later on, two or three members to take the place of the consultative members. That is an entire delusion on his part.
– No ; I only say that my honorable friend has eliminated them from his proposed scheme.
– I have given no indication of my intention regarding them up to the present moment. The Attorney-General accuses me of an intention to eliminate the consultative members, and, to use his own words, to substitute others.
– I did not say “ substitute others.” I said that it eliminates the consultative members.
– I wrote down the honorable senator’s words at the moment. He may have forgotten -what he said.
– I have not forgotten what I said.
– I think that Hansard will bear out my statement. I protested at the moment against the use of the words. I interjected that I did not propose to substitute others.
– Does the honorable senator propose to put consultative members on the Council?
– I propose .’to move the addition of certain other permanent members to the board, but not in substitution of the consultative members. The honorable senator is well aware that when. I was dealing with the second reading of the Bill and the report, I carefully pointed out that the term “consultative members “ in this connexion was an entire misnomer. I pointed out that the consultative members would have no specific rights and duties, and that it would be absolutely in the option of the permanent members of the Council to call in them or any other members of the public. I wish the Committee to understand that the consultative members are merely persons who will be given honorary titles without possessing any rights. They will have no right to appear before the Council unless they are summoned ; and when they have been summoned they will have no right to vote. In fact, they will be in exactly the same position as any member of the public whom the Council wishes to consult. I am perfectly prepared to add to my amendment, if carried, a short paragraph, which the Attorney-General might draft, entitling the Council to secure all expert and professional advice at all times when that is deemed necessary. But I do protest against’ the Government trying to delude the public in the way in which they are now attempting to do, by pretending that the consultative members have any status.
– Order.! Did not the honorable senator object to the use of the word “ delude “ by the Attorney-General a little while _ago?
– I spoke of the Government attempting to delude the public.
– I forgive mi honorable .friend.
– If the AttorneyGeneral has any objection to the use of the term I am quite willing to follow his very bright example and withdraw it unconditionally. If I had my way 1 should vastly enlarge the scope of the proposed Council, in the matter of calling for evidence, both expert and otherwise. I protest strongly against the limitation which is contained in Mr. McCay’s memorandum. The AttorneyGeneral complains that we have not put forward any proposal for putting in the Bill the regulations under which the boards are to act. I frankly admit that I have not, because it is absolutely impossible.
– Does not my honorable friend think that they are very important ?
– They are most important.
– More important than merely putting in the offices.
– I shall not say that; but I shall retaliate on the honorable’’ senator, and ask him why. when he is” fully cognizant of the vast importance of these regulations, he has not given the Committee any opportunity to debate them.’
– The time has not yet arrived.
– The Government propose to constitute the Council immediately the Bill is passed, and to issue the regulations. As it- is desired that the session shall 1 close before Christmas, when will’ the time arrive for discussing the regula-. tions? Will it be after they have been in use for five or six months?
– Why not? If my honorable friend thinks otherwise, he should try to defeat the Bill.
– I approve of the Bill, except in minor details, and I should not dream of opposing it. In my second-reading speech, I pointed out that we should have no opportunity to discuss other matters: Where all things are equally important, the Bill, unfortunately, only admits of being amended in a few directions, and, being logical, I have moved in the first instance, that the very Council proposed by the Government should be defined in the Bill. At a later date, if the AttorneyGeneral will agree to draft an amendment which will give larger consultative powers to the Council, I shall be perfectly prepared to move it.
– No attempt is being made to interfere with the principles which were affirmed1 by the Senate when the Bill was read a second time. It cannot be fairly urged that any one who is supporting the present amendment should have opposed the Bill at .that stage. The Senate has determined that there shall be a Council of Defence, and the only question at issue now is whether its constitution shall be set out or the selection of the members left entirely to the Government. So far from showing distrust in the Government, the amendment shows confidence in their proposal to have these five officers on the Council of Defence.
– Would not the honorable senator allow us to change the name of one of them to the “ QuartermasterGeneral “ ?
– Possibly. Before asking each House to read this Bill a second time, the Government afforded its members an opportunity of- knowing what its scheme was. and Senator Matheson seeks ti embody it in this clause. We desire to lay down exactly how the Council of Defence is to be constituted, because the present Government may not last for ever.It is not fair to say that those who support the present amendment are bound to support any further proposal which may come from Senator Matheson. My only object is .to define the constitution of the Council.
– The amendment does not let my honorable friend know that.
.- It lets us know the names of the offices which will be represented on the Council. We could’ no more put in the names of the officers than we could insert the names of the Minister of State for Defence, and the Treasurer, because the holders of the offices will change from time to time. We are not illogical in supporting this amendment. It will be perfectly competent if it be carried, to include representatives of the Citizen Forces, expert advisers, and consultative members. When the further amendment which has been indicated by Senator Matheson is moved, I may be found taking very grave exception to one or two of the proposals which he will then submit.
– Senator Gould, whose .remarks as to the latter portion of the complete proposal I value very much, has been good enough to admit that the only effect of the present amendment is to put in the Bill the titles of the officers. But it does not pledge the Government in any way. They may appoint any persons they please to the offices. The only thing we should be doing by making this amendment would be to insert, so to speak, the shell, and leave the kernel untouched. I know the strong interest which Senator Matheson takes in military questions, but I feel that this is merely making an amendment for the sake of amending. Not merely would the Government have uncontrolled power as to the persons who should hold the offices, but if they wished for any reason to change the titles of the offices they could. Suppose that there was not a Chief of Ordnance, why should’ they not substitute the QuartermasterGeneral ?
– We are dealing with that now.
– And I am dealing with it. Is not the Chief of Ordnance mentioned in the honorable senator’s amendment?
– Not at the present moment. - Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- The Chief of the General Staff is mentioned.
– He is quite a separate man.
– Suppose that there was no Chief of the Staff, or it was desired to call him QuartermasterGeneral. Why should we not be able to do so without passing a fresh Act of Parliament?
– Why should it be done?
– What earthly good is to be done to the country by preventing it? By adopting this amendment, honorable senators will be passing a proposal which will be a mere form of words. I was astonished at the ingenuity which my honorable friend displayed in endeavouring to escape from the natural inference to be drawn from his own amendment, that he objected to having consultative members on the Council of Defence. He has made an ingenious attempt to escape from ‘his condemnation of these consultative members.
– I did not condemn them ; I simply objected to the title.
– I thought my honorable friend would have been perfectly satisfied to allow us to draw the natural inference from this amendment of his, which was complete in itself, that it would exclude the consultative members. When I refer to his speech on the second reading, I find that he not merely ridiculed the idea of having consultative members on the Council of Defence, but he denounced them in the most unmeasured terms.
– As such, under that title.
– I will read what he. said - i have already pointed out the ridiculous nature of the provision for consultative members of the Council of Defence. What i said there applies with equal force to the inclusion of representatives of the Citizen Force as consultative members of the Military and Naval Boards.
A wholesale condemnation !
– Read on further.
– I am going to read every word of it -
The titles, if they are conferred, will be simply figures of speech, because it is perfectly obvious that if it is necessary to consult any people, they will be called in, whether they are called consultative members or not.
Then, in reply to an interjection by Senator de Largie, Senator Matheson went on to say -
The honorable senator is mistaken. This is not an Advisory Board, but a certain number of citizen colonels are to be given the title of consultative members. They are to be told, “ You are consultative members, and if we want to consult you we shall send for you.” It is a mere farce to insert that provision in any scheme, because if the Board wished to consult any persons, they would send for them.
That is how he speaks of the officers pf the Citizen Force.
– No; of. this par:ticular title.
– The honorable senator further said -
This sop is put in to gain the support of a certain number of citizen colonels and majors in order to disarm criticism.
– Hear. hear. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- Then my honorable friend goes on to say that he is prepared to move that there be consultative members on the Council.
– No ; that the Council shall have fuller power to call for advice from other people.
– That is a modification of my honorable friend’s strong condemnation of the proposal that consultative members might be called in.
– Apparently, honorable members do not grasp the full importance ‘of the matter we are now discussing. I am in favour of Senator Matheson’s amendment, or at least of the further amendment which he proposes to move. The Attorney-General complains that Senator Matheson, having voted for the second reading of the Bill, is, on that account, bound to support the policy of the Government. But I do not think that that follows. He is endeavouring to improve upon the policy of the Government in detail. The Council of Defence’; according to the proposal of the Government, will consist of the Minister of State for Defence, the Treasurer, the Inspector-General, the Naval Director, and the Chief of the General Staff. I should like to know, before going further, whether the representatives of the Citizen Forces, and the expert advisers who are termed consultative members, are to have a standing on the Council of Defence, apart from the fact of their being summoned by what may be termed the permanent members of the Council? What is intended to foe their exact position ? Are they merely to be sent for when their presence is desired by the other members of the Council, or are they to be members with the same powers as the others?
– They have no powers under this scheme.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral said so? Are these representatives of the Citizen Forces to be real members of the Council of Defence?
– For consultative purposes, when called in to advise.
– They are to be members when invited, but they are not to be real members.
– They are not to be permanent.
– They cannot vote upon any question of policy? They cannot submit a policy to the Council? If that is the case, it is altogether wrong to label them as members of the Council of Defence. Senator Matheson wishes to improve the proposal of the Government. He wishes to add the Prime Minister, and two members to be elected by the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively. The objection of the Attorney-General to put the designations of the members of the Council into the Bill seems to be that it might be desirable on some future occasion to change them. If that were found to be necessary, he urges that a new Act of, Parliament would have to be passed. That seems to me to be a very flimsy objection. Our desire is to get the best possible Council of Defence. The addition of the Prime Minister, and a member from each House of the Parliament, would very largely increase the usefulness of the Council, and would on’ that account improve it. Members of Parliament, though not military experts, have no doubt their own ideas on the sub-
Iject of defence. The ultimate responsi- 1 bility for the defence of the country lies with Parliament, although the question may be handed over to a Council. If the arrangements for defence are inadequate, the people will blame their representatives in Parliament. Therefore, it is extremely desirable that Parliament should be directly represented. Such being the case, I shall certainly support the amendment. The statement in the memorandum issued by the Minister of Defence appears to me to be misleading. At any rate, it has misled me, because I was under the impression that the intention was to nominate certain members of the Citizen Forces, and certain experts as members of the Council. If that is not the intention, the Council will have the power to consult any one and every one in connexion with the defence of the country. Indeed, there appear to be only too good reason for Senator Matheson’s statement with reference to citizen colonels and majors. If representatives of the Citizen Forces and expert advisers are not to be members of the Council, what is meant by consultative members of the Council? It means members who may be consulted. A member of the Council of Defence, on the other hand, appears to be an individual who will have a voice in framing the defence policy. According to the AttorneyGeneral, the consultative members will have no voice in framing the policy, but will be sent for when their advice, or infomation is required. In short, the consultative members will be neither more nor less . than witnesses or experts, and they have been termed consultative precisely from some such motive as that which Senator Matheson has indicated. We ought to be quite clear on a matter of this importance. It may not have been the intention of the Government to mislead’, but I certainly have been- misled by this document. Why are volunteer officers bracketted here, unless it was intended . that they should be members of the Council. This seems to me a continuation of the jumbled condition in which defence matters have been ever since the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Whatever the Government intend should be made clear, so . that neither Parliament nor the country shall have the slightest difficulty in understanding the proposals.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 12 agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspendedto enable the Defence Bill 1904 to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 2nd December, vide page 7803) :
Postponed clause 20 (Power to grant land).
– The Attorney-General, when this clause was last in Committee, offered some criticism to the effect that it was hardly elastic enough. I asked the question whether it had been found by practical experience that a system entirely leasehold is sufficient to attract colonists from other parts of the world. It appears to me, from the trend of thought in NewZealand, that dissatisfaction is expressed with the leasehold system there ; and I am very doubtful myself whether, if freeholds are not obtainable in New Guinea, colonists will be attracted from Canada, England, and other parts of the world in the numbers we desire. It would, I think, be a good thing to offer some of the land to capitalists in England, who are desirous to promote the cottongrowing industry in British New Guinea.
– Will cotton not grow on leasehold land?
– Yes, but a leasehold system may stand in the way of the flotation of companies and the investment of capital. While we make leasehold the basis of the system, we should not tie the hands of the Government so as to prevent them, under any circumstances, from making a departure. I was under the impression that the Attorney-General proposed to make the clause elastic.
– I merely expressed a personal doubt as to whether or not a provision of this character would encourage or discourage settlement. I did not intimate any intention to deal with or modify the clause in any way.
– Will the Executive Council have absolute power to fix the terms of the leases?
– The. terms are to be fixed by ordinance ; that is, by an Act of the Legislative Council.
– The same sort of instrument which admitted the Chinese into South Africa.
– With the difference that the Acts of the Legislative Council of New Guinea will be under the control of the Governor-General.
– I do not approve of the clause, but as there does not seem to be the faintest hope of making any alteration, I shall not take up time by attempting to carry any amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 21 -
No intoxicants or opium shall be allowed to be imported into, or manufactured, or sold, or otherwise disposed of, in the Territory, except as hereinafter mentioned -
No intoxicants or opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory, except by written permission of a person duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed…..
– I move -
That the words “ No intoxicants or opium shall be allowed to be imported into, or manufactured, or sold, or otherwise disposed of, in the Territory, except as hereinafter mentioned,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ A poll of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory shall, within twelve months from the passing of this Act be taken in accordance with regulations to be made by the Lieutenant-Governor to ascertain whether or not intoxicants may be imported into, manufactured in, and sold in the Territory for commercial purposes generally.
Such regulations may prescribe the mode in which the poll shall be taken and the form in which the ballot-papers shall be framed, and may define the powers and duties of the officer and his deputies” conducting such poll, and may provide generally for all matters whatsoever relating to the taking of the poll.
No vote shall be disallowed by the officer appointed to conduct such poll for informality so long as the intention of the voter is expressed actually or by reasonable intendment. Provided that at any election one-third of the white inhabitants shall record their votes in order to constitute a poll. Before the taking of such poll a notice shall be inserted in the official Gazette by the Lieutenant-Governor, stating as correctly as possible the number of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory, and such number shall be taken as the number of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory for the purposes of the poll.
Intoxicants for the purposes of this section shall mean any wine, spirits, ale, beer, porter, cider, perry, or other spirituous or fermented liquor of an intoxicating nature.”
I propose afterwards to move the following as a separate clause -
If the determination of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory at the poll taken, as aforesaid, be that intoxicants may be imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory for commercial purposes generally, then intoxicants may be purchased, imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory only by the Lieutenant-Governor, or by officers duly appointed in that behalf, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the LieutenantGovernor relating to th< purchase, importation, manufacture, and sale thereof.
That is to say that I first of all wish to ascertain by a poll of the white inhabitants of the Territory, whether they wish liquor to be imported into, manufactured,’ or sold in the Territory; and if they do, I propose that it shall be imported, manufactured, and sold by the LieutenantGoverner, and that State control shall be substituted for the present system of private licences. I intend that these provisions shall take the place of the provision now in the Bill, providing for absolute prohibition, with the exception that liquor may be given on order for medicinal purposes only. In the event of the poll being against the importation and sale’ of liquor in the Territory, there will still be total prohibition as. provided in the Bill. As regards the existing system, first of all I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that we have very little vested interest with which to deal in this particular case. At the present time, there are very few licensed places, and very few hotels, in British New Guinea.
– There are seven hotels and thirteen licensed stores.
– That is so. I have photographs of the hotels, from which it will be seen that they are very flimsy erections - mere weather-board shells. Furthermore, the greater number of them are built on leased land, which is the property of the Government, and the leases of which have but a few years to run. I am informed that the largest of the hotels in British New Guinea is built upon land the lease of which .has but’ a very few years to run, and when it expires, the land and buildings will become the absolute property of the Government. I direct attention also to the ordinance which is to be found at page 99 of the British New Guinea Ordinances, and to the report by the Treasurer, Mr. Ballantine, to be found on page 13 of the Parliamentary Paper, No. 47, in which he refers to the fact that these licences were issued originally as quart-bottle licences only.
– The ordinance in force at the present time provides for that.
– That is so; but it is not observed. Mr. Ballantine, who has had fourteen years’ experience in New Guinea, states -
The “ Liquor Ordinance of 1891 “ only admits of not less quantity than quart bottles of liquor being sold on licensed premises, but it was found impossible to adhere to this, and a “bar traffic” has been tacitly allowed for years. I am of the opinion that section 4 of the Act should be modified to allow liquor to be retailed in hotels and in stores on a gold-field.
That is to say that these licensees have for years transgressed the law under which they have been licensed to sell liquor. The clause I now move deals with the question of local option as against prohibition, whilst the question of State control will be dealt “with “in the later clause. I wish honorable senators to bear in mind that if the local option poll is carried in favour of the general distribution of liquor, State control of the traffic would be provided for by the clause which I propose shall follow. With respect to prohibition, I wish to say, as a life-long teetotaller, that if I were given ;.the privilege - and I hope to see the day when I shall be given that privilege - of casting a vote for or against prohibition. I should vote for prohibition in Australia. That is to say, that’ if I could take part in a referendum on the question in Australia, 1 should vote for prohibition.
– After seeing its effect in America?
– Yes, because I believe that prohibition, if it could be enforced, is the best system. I practise it myself, and I find that I have derived no evil effects from it.
– The honorable senator has lost a lot of fun.
– That may be so, but I have seen a lot of fun which I should not have seen if I had not followed the teetotal principle. In this case we are not legislating for Australia. We are not proposing to impose this disability on ourselves or upon the electors who have returned us to this Parliament, and that seems to me to make a wonderful difference in dealing with the question. If we had the power to impose prohibition on Australia, I should lie prepared to give a different vote on this question, because I should then be dealing with electors who could hold me responsible for that vote. I should be dealing with electors who would have the power to reject me if I acted in a way contrary to their opinions. The spirit of democracy is that we should consult the people for whom we are legislating, and should give them the right to say whether the- laws which they are to observe shall be laws made with their consent.
– The native inhabitants of New Guinea should not object to prohibition, because they do not know what liquor is.
– The white population of the Territory say that they want it. and they are almost unanimously against prohibition. It will be found, from the parliamentary paper to which I have referred, that almost every letter and reply to queries on the subject of prohibition, including those from missionaries, who are well known to have no leaning to the liquor trade, are against prohibition. In this case, we are proposing to impose a law on people who, as they have never been consulted on the subject, have never given us authority to pass that law, and we are not proposing to impose it upon the electors to whom we are responsible. The overwhelming opinion is that liquor should be prohibited to the native inhabitants, and later clauses in the Bill make it a heinous crime to supply liquor to them. With that we are all agreed. But we have to deal with the white inhabitants of a tropical Territory, where it is admitted that, for medicinal purposes, intoxicating liquors are necessary. I say that we should first consult the white inhabitants of the Territory as to whether, in their opinion, there should be absolute prohibition of the liquor traffic. In the parliamentary paper to which I have referred, a number of replies on the question by civil servants, missionaries, miners, and traders are given, and it will be found that the consensus of opinion is that in that Territory liquor is absolutely necessary for medicinal purposes. I do not think there is a single dissentient voice on that point.
– The Bill permits the use of liquor for medicinal purposes.
– I point out to the honorable and learned senator tEat the. Bill permits its use for medicinal purposes only on certain conditions. It must be imported by written permission of a person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by him, including a condition that its importation or manufacture shall be for medicinal purposes only, and that no intoxicants shall be sold or otherwise disposed of in the Territory except for medicinal purposes, and then only on the order of a medical practitioner, or some person duly authorized by the LieutenantGovernor.
– There might not be a medical practitioner within 500 miles of a man requiring liquor.
– There might not be one within 300 miles, at any rate. I have been informed by a former resident of the Territory that there are three medical officers in British New Guinea, and that they reside some hundreds of miles away from some of the centres of population.
– It is not to be confined to medical officers only.
– No ; it may be given by persons appointed by the LieutenantGovernor.
– There might be as many of them as there are hotels as the present time.
– It is intended either that the provision shall be effective, or that it shall not. If it is intended that it shall be effective, I would ask whether a person appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, who will be the warden of a gold-field, a Customs officer, or some official of that kind, will be in a position to say when it is necessary to give liquor for medicinal purposes? How is such a person to know that “ John Jones,” a digger, should have liquor, and if he should, how much or how often he should have it? If any person in the Territory is to get liquor at any time he thinks he needs it, or says he needs it, for medicinal purposes, the provision will simply mean the substitution for the present licence system of a system of free-trade In drink, at the good-will of the officer in charge of a camp.
– That is exactly what would Be provided for by the system of State control which is advocated.
– Suppose that a miner who likes to have a glass of whisky says, “ In order to maintain good health, it is absolutely necessary that I should have a glass of whisky every day.” Is the officer to say “No; in my opinion you do not need the liquor,” or is he to say, “ I think that a glass of whisky every other day would suit your case “ ? Is St not manifest thaf one of the. two individuals will have to be the judge?
– Suppose that, as the result of the local option vote, it was decided to prohibit the sale of liquor, the honorable senator’s argument would come to naught.
– My argument would apply against prohibition in that case just as much as it does now. From these documents I feel pretty certain that the people of the Territory will not vote for prohibition.
– Then the local option provisions should not be in their present form.
– I think they should. I am prepared to give the people the right to say whether they want liquor or not, but if they say that they do, its sale should be subject to State control. This amendment is not moved in a spirit of hostility to the principle of prohibition. When it comes to the question of legislating for the Federal Capital, I am prepared to vote for prohibition, both at a poll of the inhabitants and in my place in Parliament. In this temperate climate, where doctors are almost as; plentiful as gooseberries, where medicine is cheap, and splendid hospitals are to be found, honorable senators will not try prohibition upon themselves, but they are willing to apply the principle to the residents in a tropical climate, where malarial fever is abundant. The missionaries belonging to almost all the denominations - and many of them with a long experience in the Territory - say that prohibition there is impossible. One man goes so far as to say that the presence of the Australian Squadron would be needed to prevent smuggling, and I can quite believe that it would. Look at the area of the Territory, with its long coast-line, which would have to be protected. In German New Guinea liquor is allowed to enter duty free. There are navigable rivers running partly through German territory and partly through British territory, and close to the goldfields, . too. It would be a very easy thing to run cargoes of grog down the rivers. An army of Customs officers would be needed to prevent constant smuggling from being carried on across the border.
– Why is it not done now?
– I do not know that it is done. Possibly there is not the inducement to smuggle now that there would be if prohibition were ad’opted. We ought to give considerable weight to the evidence of the missionaries. I believe that every section of the Church is now opposed to the liquor traffic. The missionaries have observed its effects upon the natives in other lands, and if they anticipated any danger existed in Papua from an improper regulation of the traffic, they would be the first to advocate entire prohibition. Almost every missionary is of opinion that prohibition is not asked for, that it is not the best system to adopt, and that if adopted it could not be enforced. If my proposal be adopted the sale of the liquor by Government officers only would overcome the difficulty in regard to the natives.
– It would be smuggled down the German rivers.
– I do not know that there would be any inducement to go to that trouble. When a supply could be obtained at a Government store, why should the residents go to the expense of smuggling.
– Because it could be obtained at a cheaper price.
– The cost of transport would have to be added to the price of the article. I think that rather than break the law, the residents would buy the liquor from the State store. It is pointed out by some of’ the witnesses, that at the present time the natives look upon the white man as the embodiment of the law, and that the major part of the white population is orderly and law-abiding. The native regards imprisonment from a very serious stand-point. The witnesses say that the white man on the island is impressed with the necessity of keeping up that observance of the law, and increasing the natives’ respect for the law. Introduce prohibition against the wish of the white settlers, and you give them an inducement to break the law. If public opinion looks upon a breach of the law as rather praiseworthy than otherwise, what will become of the natives’ veneration for the law ? “The white man, when, supported by public opinion, will be looked upon rather as a hero, or a jolly good fellow, when he breaks the law, and the respect for the law which now permeates the white population and re-acts upon the native population, will vanish.
– Quite right ; but what about the drunken orgies which now go on?
– That statement is made by only the Bishop of the Church of England Mission, who says -
The laws dealing with the sale of alcoholic liquor generally has been observed, so far as the authority and influence of the Government officers have extended, but there are stores on the gold-fields, and at least one township, where at times no officer is present, and then excessive drinking has been resorted to. . . It has led to unchecked orgies, which have disgraced and lowered the white race in the eyes of the native.
– He refers to scores oi miners.
– If my proposal were carried, in that place no liquor could be obtained, because there is no Government official stationed there. What .would happen in these little outposts, where disgraceful orgies have taken place? The diggers would have to go to the nearest settlement, where there was a Government official, who I take it would issue an instruction that only a certain quantity of liquor should be supplied to each person. It would not be sold without check or limitation. The orgies to which Senator Dobson has referred took place under what was practically a system of free-trade in liquor, because the licences were issued in a very promiscuous manner. When the officer was asked the question, he had to guess from memory how many had been issued. The very Bishop who deplored these disgraceful proceedings is an advocate of State control. What does he advocate as a remedy for the evil but the system I am prepared to adopt in the amendment? He recognises that the present system is faulty, but he does not propose prohibition as the remedy. He is opposed to prohibition. At page 12 of this paper he says -
The Government officers would have to be very largely increased in number, their salaries (which are now small) would have to be largely aug.mented, every” part of the 1,700 miles of British littoral, not to mention the numerous islands adjacent, would have to be constantly patrolled, and even then smuggling would be carried on successfully, and other articles, such as trade tobacco, the practical currency of the country, would also try and evade the Customs, whereas now the duty on them is collected with practically no difficulty.
I think I have said sufficient to show that a change from the existing system is necessary, but certainly it should not be in the direction of prohibition, unless local public opinion be at its back. Would it be wise to have prohibition in Australia before a majority of the people were in favour of its adoption? Of course it would not.
– The case is not analogous.
– It is. What has happened in the prohibition States in America? There has been a majority - in some cases a very narrow one - in favour of prohibition, and even with public opinion in its favour the authorities have experienced very great difficulty in checking the sale of liquor. If that result has occurred in a very closely settled country, with a big staff of Government officers, how can we expect prohibition to be a success in a Territory adjoining a country which allows free-trade in liquor?
– It would be a fine thing for the Germans and the Dutch ; they would drive a large trade in illicit liquor.
– The AttorneyGeneral, in introducing the Bill, and Senator Smith, in supporting it, stated that we are making our first experiment in colonizing. This is our first law to deal with a Territory outside our own borders. W’hat will be the opinion of the people of New Guinea if we press upon them a law to which they are entirely hostile? Far more, what will be the opinion of the natives concerning this Parliament if we pass a law which will be brought, into disrepute by being evaded by the white people? If t’hat is to be the effect of our. first legislation for a Dependency, we shall certainly fail to come up to the standard that those honorable senators said we should set before us. We should not, in this Bill, go against the wishes of the people, but should ascertain what t’heir wishes are, and with proper safeguards, give them what they desire.
– In dealing with this question, I think we can say that every honorable senator is actuated by one desire, and t’hat is, to keep liquor away from the native races of British New Guinea. Those honorable senators who oppose prohibition, and those who support it, are equally entitled to credit for an honest desire to do what is best in the interest of the natives. Senator Pearce, who is undoubtedly actuated by that desire, states that he ‘has been a lifelong teetotaller, and I am sure no one is more desirous of promoting temperance, in the community than he is. But he seems to me to have advanced a most extraordinary proposition, and one which on analysis is seen to be altogether untenable. It is a negation of the whole policy of government in British New Guinea, and an absolute negation of the system which we are laying down. We recognise under the system which we are introducing that the white people of British New Guinea have no right to govern the whole country. Respon sible government or representative government is not conceded to them. The most that has been suggested is that one or two representatives should be chosen for the purpose of giving advice. Senator Pearce seems to have forgotten that. He seems to think that in British New Guinea the people have the right to make their own laws, and that there should be no exception in respect to liquor. Now, there are only about 500 white people in British New Guinea, and there are about 400,000 Papuans. If there is one subject more than another which intimately affects the coloured races it is this question of liquor. Yet Senator Pearce proposes that that one question shall be taken away from Federal control, and from the local Legislature, -and be delegated to the white population, to whom we do not concede rights of self-government. That, I say again, is an absolute negation of the whole system and policy of government that we are laying down. I have always held? that if we do not impose prohibition the next best thing is State control, and that control should be directly imposed by the Federal authority. Senator Pearce urges that we should take a poll of the white people of British New Guinea, but in the very next breath he says that there is absolutely no doubt that the white people are opposed to prohibition. If that be so, what is the good of having a poll ? Will it not be a mere waste of money?
– That is only my opinion; I may be wrong.
– If the whole of the white people are opposed to prohibition, why hold a poll ? Why not say straight away; “ We will have State control, without the expense of a useless referendum.” Senator Pearce has fallen into two mistakes - one as to the proposal that the handful of whites in British New Guinea shall be allowed to legislate as they like with regard to a matter which is of the utmost importance to the coloured races ; and secondly that the result of that poll is already known, because the white people are opposed to any system of prohibition. I quite admit that the whole of the missionaries in British New Guinea are opposed to the prohibition of the liquor traffic.
– Not the whole of them.
– I never heard of one who was not. We cannot doubt the purity of their motives. These missionaries practically sacrifice their lives and their health by living in that climate for the purpose of benefiting and uplifting the native races. Having made that great sacrifice, they are not likely to advocate what in their opinion is injurious to the welfare of the natives.
– We know very well that liquor is very injurious to them.
– It is a question whether the means we propose are likely to be efficacious. I will go further, and say that from the information we have received, the whole of the official class in British New Guinea are opposed to prohibition. The colonists whom I met there are also opposed to it. But I would point this out : That those people seem to be seized with the idea that we were going to say that no liquor whatever shall be allowed to be dispensed except medicinally, and by the orders of one of the two medical practitioners in British New Guinea. The resolution passed by the public meeting held at Samarai on the 7th September, 1903, with Bishop Stone Wigg in the chair, reads as follows -
While fully realizing the grave dangers, both to the white settlers and to the native population, arising from the unrestricted sale of intoxicating liquors, we regard the proposed prohibition of all intoxicants in Papua, except under the order of a medical practitioner, as a danger to the health of the people, and an interference with reasonable liberty.
In that respect, the persons who attended the meeting were absolutely misled as to the intentions of the Federal Parliament. Now I come to a later date. The paper which has been placed in our hands contains a statement by Bishop Stone Wigg, written only a short time ago, in which he says -
Alcohol is used by all experienced missionaries and their trained nurses as a medicine. It is essential, and has had a most beneficial effect ; one of our most promising native evangelists was rescued from death by the administration of brandy every few minutes at a very critical stage of illness. There is no medical man in the northeast coast where our mission works.
There, the Bishop is labouring under the delusion that we are going to ‘ restrict the supplying of liquor to medical practitioners. The objections raised rest upon the absence of facilities to obtain medical assistance in some parts of British New Guinea. It will, therefore, be seen that the New Guinea residents have misconceived the whole intention of the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government. Bishop Stone Wigg favours State control. I think it will be rather alarming to some of our orthodox senators to observe that the Church is asso ciated with socialistic doctrines to the extent that the leader of the Church of England in British New Guinea is absolutely in favour of State control. Indeed, the clause contained in this Bill means State control. It imposes this limitation : That the State cannot sell liquor to a man when he only requires it as a luxury. The people who will sell liquor under this Bill will be Government officials, and the money received will be paid into the State coffers.
– Where does the honorable senator find the proposal that Government officials will sell liquor?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Liquor is to be sold by persons appointed by the Government.
– Not officials.
– It means that any duly authorized person may sell ; it may be a storekeeper.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The persons appointed will sell liquor on behalf of the Government.
– Not at all.
– They will sell liquor on their own behalf.
– Certain officials, such as resident magistrates or wardens, will be appointed to sell liquor for medicinal purposes, and the profits will go into the public exchequer, and not into private pockets.
– Who says that ?
– Common sense says so. It would be obviously absurd to give a private person authority to sell liquor medicinally. Such a course would be to flout the Federal Parliament - to adopt an unjustifiable course.
– Not so long as liquor was sold for medicinal purposes only
– It would be absurd, for instance, to give twenty storekeepers authority to sell liquor for medicinal purposes. Where private gain is permitted sales will be encouraged.
– It would be quite competent, under the Bill, for the LieutenantGovernor to confine the importation of liquor to one of his own officials.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is so. It is admitted that the rights of the Papuans in their native land have to be respected equally yith the rights of the white population - we are as solicitous for the welfare of the coloured people as for the welfare of the white people. Both races’ are equal before the law ; the punishment for offences is the same for each.
– Have the white people always been as kind as that to the aborigines in Western Australia? The honorable senator is enunciating a verv nice theory.
– I do not believe there is an honorable senator who would maintain that the rights of the Papuans are not equal to those of the ‘white men, or that we should adopt any policy which would be injurious to the former. What should we do in regard to the prohibition of liquor if there was not a white person in the Territory? If our dutywere merely to patrol the coast we should see that liquor was not permitted to enter to the detriment of the natives.
– There was no liquor before the white man went there.
– The Bill prevents the supply of liquor to the coloured men.
– If the rights of the two races be equal, then I say there are 400,000 reasons why drink should not be permitted, as against 500 reasons why it should.. We ought to remember that we are legislating not only for the white population, but for the whole of the inhabitants of British New Guinea.
– The missionaries say that the natives have no taste for liquor.
– We do not desire to subordinate the lives and interests of 400,000 natives to any desire to supply a luxury to 500 whites; and liquor is a luxury when it is not required for medicinal purposes.
– According to that reasoning the honorable senator’s ordinary food is a luxury !
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Food is required medicinally ; if a person is starving he requires food to restore his health. The highest authority we have on this subject is Sir William MacGregor, who is an M.D.. with twenty-five years’ experience of the tropics. Sir William MacGregor has discovered many remedies for tropical diseases, such as the “black water” ; and his opinion as to the value of stimulants in such regions is worth consideration. In his annual report for 1889, Sir William MacGregor says -
In the matter of regimen there are amongst Europeans in the Possession two distinct courses followed. In the one a fairly sufficient dietary is adopted, with an absolute exclusion of wine, beer, and all other forms of alcoholic stimulants whatever. In the other class a diet of inferior quality is taken, and it is supplemented by some stimulant containing probably a small quantity of alcohol in some form or other ; or the stimulant is taken in addition to a diet that is sufficient without it. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the former is by far the better course, and that the latter is a mistake. In my experience people that are total abstainers in the colony enjoy better health, and have a lower mortality than those that are not total abstainers. There is a widespread popular belief that some stimulant is required in the tropics, especially by people that have in a cooler climate been accustomed to it. This will not stand the test of experience. It is a matter that any one not a total abstainer can prove for himself in a month. I have not known a missionary that was of intemperate habits; but it is easy to see that the missionary that has no alcoholic stimulant with his meals is healthier than he that has. The principle applies to all residents in the country, but it is easier to see in the case of the missionaries than among other classes, because their habits, and practice are more regular and uniform. The missionaries that as a class are total abstainers are the healthier, and stand exposure better than others. The man that is a total abstainer bears very much better the onset of fever than the man that is not; and he is also less liable to other diseases. These stimulants are valuable in conditions of debility when they are administered in small quantity. They should be eschewed by healthy persons that wish to remain healthy in the climate of British New Guinea.
That is the dictum of the highest authority we have on British New Guinea.
– His testimony is out of touch with all the other evidence we have.
- Sir William MacGregor is speaking of the use of stimulants in countries which are practically under the equator. The conditions of a place like New Guinea are vastly dissimilar from those of a temperate country. I have here an extract from a statement by General Gallieni, the Governor of Madagascar, sent to the Paris Temperance Conference -
Until 1887 I drank wine anr! liquors, like all the world ; neither more nor less than my comrades. At the end of a very arduous campaign that I had just commanded in the Soudan against Marabout Mahmadonhamine, and which had left my stomach in such a bad condition that I could hardly retain any meat, I .renounced entirely wines, liquors, beer, coffee, &c, and put myself entirely on water. I never had a better idea in my life. Since then water has been my drink exclusively, and since then equally my stomach has been completely restored, and I have been able to carry out, in the best condition possible, arduous campaigns and journeys in Soudan, Tonquin, and Madagascar.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that statement?
– I do ; I believe that under the equator drink, used as a luxury, is absolutely injurious.
– Did the honorable senator have no drink when he was in New Guinea ?
– I do not profess to be a teetotaller, but I am a very abstemious man.
– Did the honorable senator indulge in no spirits at all in New Guinea ?
– I cannot remember having a single drink in New Guinea. I may say that I fancy I detected a flavour of sherry in some very nice turtle soup which I had at Government House, Port Moresby ; but with that exception, I do not remember tasting alcohol when I was in the Possession. I return to the proposition, that we are to penalize 400,000 natives for the sake of providing for 500 whites, a luxury which competent authorities declare to be injurious. It has been said that as the natives do not take liquor, there can be no danger in the importation ; but it is admitted by Bishop Stone Wigg, by the Acting LieutenantGovernor, and also by the Chief Justice, that natives do become fond of liquor. In a report from the laStmentioned official, there ‘is the following suggestive paragraph : -
The only natives of the Possession who are, to any extent, addicted to the use of liquor, are those of the Western Division, who have acquired a taste for it when engaged on the Queensland pearling fleet; but no licensed premises have been allowed to exist at Daru for that reason.
Since then there have been licensed premises opened in that district. At any rate, we have here ( an admission that the natives become fond of liquor.
– Where is it stated by Captain Barton, that the natives take liquor ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is mentioned at the beginning of his letter.
– The Bishop of New Guinea says that the natives have absolutely no taste for liquor.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There was a case in which a man was convicted in the Western Division for supplying drink to natives.
– Why should licences be granted in a district where the natives have acquired a taste for liquor?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITHI cannot say. There are about 200 pearling boats on the coast, and it may be that the licences are for the convenience of white men, or the Malays and Japanese who form the crews.
– The honorable senator has not mentioned the page of the report in which the statement is made as to the natives’ taste for liquor?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I have not the page in my mind, because I had not intended to quote the extract. I may say, however, that at Thursday Island I have seen Papuans and Malays drinking, and, further confirmation in this respect is to be found at Daru. Although the island of Saibai is only about a mile from the mainland of British New Guinea, it is within Queensland territory. Liquor and also arms and ammunition were being taken across from Saibai to the mainland by the natives, and Mr. Giles, the Resident Magistrate of the Western Division, found it necessary to impose Customs and quarantine regulations between Saibai and British New Guinea in order to stop the traffic. That was most injurious and harassing to the natives, because they lived on the mainland, and only went across to Saibai for a few weeks occasionally to fish. This, in my opinion, establishes the fact that if the natives are allowed to get liquor they will very soon become fond of it. I feel that if the present conditions are continuedthey will in time become addicted to drink. I am not aware of any place on this planet where native and1 white races have come together, and where even though prohibition has been nominally in force so far as the coloured races have been concerned, they have not managed to get liquor, and have not been materially injured by it. Is British New Guinea going to be the one solitary exception to this general rule in the world’s history? I do not think that it is. It is said that experience makes us wise after the event, whilst history makes us wise before the event. If we are guided by the history of the world in this matter we must admit that unless drink is prohibited in New Guinea the inevitable result will be what it has been elsewhere - that the black races will get it, and will go down. The question is whether it is desirable to keep liquor out of Papua, except when used1 for medicinal purposes, in order that the natives may not be able to get it, and a second and more difficult question is whether legal prohibition of the liquor traffic will effect our object or will aggravate the evil. This is a matter upon which there is a difference of opinion, and this is what is troubling Senator Pearce. The statement is made that if we attempt to prohibit the liquor traffic in New Guinea, the white people there who have been accustomed to the use of liquor will adopt every means in their power to obtain it, will break the law, and will set a bad example to the Papuans. I admit that that is a very strong argument, and it has actuated many people in opposing this proposal. I desire to be perfectly fair in dealing with the question. I have been to New Guinea, and have consulted the people there. I was told by every person to whom I spoke that he was opposed to prohibition. Though I speak strongly in favour of prohibition, I state the facts, and advocate certain proposals, with a knowledge of the facts. It is said that smuggling can be carried on in British New Guinea with the greatest possible ease. I do not believe that to be a fact.
– All the Customs officials in New Guinea say that they think smuggling would be easy there
– I remind honorable senators that there are only certain ports of entry. There are Daru, Moresby, and Samarai. I am unaware of any others.
– Those are the places which the smuggler would avoid.
– If the honorable senator will permit me to elaborate my argument, I will inform him that it is a penal offence for any one to land anything in British New Guinea, except at a port of entry.
– Is it proved that smuggling is going on now?
– I do not believe that it is.
– Why should it not be if it is so easy ?
– If we provide for prohibition it will be a penal offence for any person to have liquor on his premises, or in his camp, or to supply any liquor to any other person. If liquor is found on a boat trading to New Guinea, in New Guinea waters, the persons in charge will be guilty of an offence, and will be liable to punishment.
– T do not think it will go as far as that. The boat might be carrying the liquor free for use for medicinal purposes.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITHThat will only be done by an order from the Government, and the LieutenantGovernor will be the only person entitled to import liquor. I point out also that it will be illegal for any one to land liquor, except on an order from the Lieutenant-Governor.
– The Attorney-General is of opinion that the clause does not provide that the Government of New Guinea shall be the only authority entitled to import liquor.
– In my opinion, it will be absolutely absurd to give private persons the right to conduct this traffic.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that a mail boat going to Singapore may not call at New Guinea ports if she has liquor on board?
– No;. I am referring to coasting boats. But if those in charge of a mail boat attempted to land liquor at Samarai they would be liable to punishment. I contend that there would be less danger of smuggling under a law of prohibition than there is at the present time.
– The honorable senator has, so far, only dealt with the coasting trade. What about smuggling across the land borders?
– I point out that Senator Pearce was wrong in saying that there is one river that runs through British New Guinea into German New Guinea. The Gira River, which is the river to which the honorable senator no doubt referred, runs almost up to the boundary of German. New Guinea, but it is wholly within the territory of British New Guinea. ‘ I point out that there are practically no roads in New Guinea running parallel to the coast, and I believe it would be absolutely impossible for any persons to bring liquor across from German New Guinea through the dense scrub and mountainous country which would have to be crossed, into British New Guinea. When we come to consider the possibility of smuggling across the Dutch boundary. I may say that at Daru there are probably four or five white men, and with these exceptions there is not one white man to be found between the Dutch boundary and Orikolo, where there is a single missionary - a distance of 300 or 400 miles.
– Mr. Campbell, one of the resident magistrates of New Guinea, said it would be possible to obtain hundreds of natives as runners to smuggle liquor wholesale across the German and Dutch boundaries.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Mr. Campbell is one of the best resident magistrates in British New Guinea, but it is possible for a resident magistrate, no matter how good an officer he may be, to be unconsciously biased when discussing a matter which possibly personally affects himself, though I am aware that Mr. Campbell is a man of very sober habits. It is suggested that it is possible that prohibition would lead to ^ the establishment of illicit stills. I admit that that is a great danger. The country is so difficult of access, that if the white people could succeed in importing illicit stills, there would be grave danger that spirits would be manufactured illegally. I have no doubt that if that were done, there would be a feeling among the whites that no one should “give the show away.” This is a serious danger ; but I think there would be great difficulty in importing the necessary machinery, and materials for the illicit local manufacture of spirits. I think it would be found out, because the natives would give information to the officials. There cannot be the slightest doubt that it is extremely easy to give the natives liquor under existing conditions. A man might enter a bar at Samarai and order the storekeeper to put half-a-dozen cases of whisky on his boat. He might then go away to the Gulf country to a place like Orikolo, where there is not a single white man, except a missionary, and the nearest resident magistrate is over 100 miles away, and he could sell that liquor to the coloured people. At the present time, there is absolutely no check upon this kind of thing, and where there is no resident magistrate within 100 miles, this is a state of affairs which is fraught with extreme danger. The natives are naturally of an indolent nature. They will do an immense amount of work in a short time; but they work only by fits and starts. The great difficulty which the traders have, is to get them to do continuous work; but there is one way in which they might do so; and that is by creating an appetite in the natives which will be stronger than their natural indolence. If they are able to create in the natives a craving for liquor, they will be able to get continuous work out of them for the supply of mats, sago, copra, and the other things with which they trade with the white people; but it will be at the expense of the lives of the natives. There is, therefore, an absolute incentive to the white people to supply the natives with liquor, because it is the only means by which they can get continuous work out of them. Some honorable senators seem to be surprised at the fact that the LieutenantGovernor is unable to say exactly how many licensed premises there are in the Territory. According to its law, facilities must be given to the white community to obtain liquor if it is required. On the gold-fields at such places as Mambere and Gira, which are very remote from central government, it would be almost impossible to communicate with the central authority before granting a licence, because, while communication with Samarai is comparatively frequent, communication between those goldfields and Moresby has been exceedingly infrequent. When a new gold-field breaks out, and a number of miners arrive, according to the present law a hotel has to be established, so that the white people can purchase liquor if it is desired. Therefore, authority has had to be delegated to the Resident Magistrate or the Warden to grant licences in such cases, and possibly the authorities at the seat of government can not be informed of the fact for two or three months. It is for that reason I think that the Lieutenant-Governor is unable to state exactly how many licences have been issued. Some remarks have been made by the Anglican Bishop of New Guinea which I think - unintentionally, of course - reflect somewhat unfairly upon the miners, and are liable to give honorable senators .an impression as to their sobriety and morals which will have an inimical effect when we are considering whether they shall be given the right to elect certain members of the Legislative Council. At one place the right reverend gentleman speaks about -
Unchecked orgies which have disgraced and lowered the white race in the eyes of the natives.
In another place he speaks of a digger who boasted that he had drunk five bottles of whisky in two days. No doubt the intention of the right reverend gentleman was not to pass any aspersions on the miners generally. I met a great number of the miners, and. my experience is that there is not in the Commonwealth a finer body than those men. They are stalwart, enterprising, cleanliving men, but in a. community like that, as in all communities, there are a few “scallywag.,” who engage in beach-combing, and disgrace the country. They are the flotsam and jetsam of society which have drifted to the Pacific Islands. I suppose that these pariahs of society in the Territory could be counted on the fingers of one hand. In describing the action of these men, who not only disgrace the race they belong to, but set a bad example to the natives, we are, unfortunately, apt to consider that they represent the white population. The Commonwealth does not possess a more lawabiding or better class of white people than the miners and traders in the Territory. It is unfortunate that these reflections were made, though, of course, they were not expressed with any malicious intention, because they suggest that the white settlers are not fit to be intrusted with the suffrage. In the interests of the natives the best policy we can adopt is prohibition of drink except for medicinal purposes, and in the event of that policy not being adopted the next best policy is straight-out State control, because it would eliminate that sordid element which makes vendors of drink desire to sell as large a quantity as possible in order to enhance their profits. It is possible that they would endeavour to sell liquor illicitly to the natives. If the control of the traffic were placed in the hands of a State official, who would obtain no monetary advantage by selling an increased quantity, he would not be likely to try to push the sale of the article, and it is very improbable that he would supply the natives. If liquor be sold, certainly it should not be sold in large quantities. It should only be sold by the glass, by the State, except in special cases. If a man were allowed to buy a- case of whisky it would be possible for him to go beyond the reach of a resident magistrate and sell the liquor to the natives. I hope that the clause will remain as it is, but if it should not meet with the approval of the Committee I think it would be infinitely better to adopt the system of State control.
– My sympathy has always gone with efforts antagonistic to the drink traffic. For more years than I care to count I have been an abstainer. I dare say that if it were necessary I could read the Committee a lesson on the evils of the drink traffic. But there is something else we have to consider. On one occasion, Bishop- ‘afterwards Archbishop - Magee made use of an expression which became famous. He said, “ Better England free than sober,” not meaning to discount the advantages of sobriety, but suggesting that the great aim of statesmanship should be to secure the great principles of freedom, and that the best of social life would follow therefrom. That view will govern my vote on this occasion. I cannot bring myself to think that it would be wise to say to the British residents in this Territory “ We shall drink liquor when we choose in Australia, but you shall not drink liquor in British New Guinea.” I object to that plan, because it departs from the great principles which have made the British race what it is all the world over.
– Great “ boozers “ !
– I am afraid that we shall have great “ boozers “ for a long time to come, but how are we to get rid of them? I am convinced that the result will not be achieved by attempting to make people sober by Act of Parliament. In this matter we must treat the natives of the Territory like children. We can do them no greater harm than will ensue to them if we prohibit the sale of liquor. If we follow the plan which is laid down in the Bill, we shall create a huge system of smuggling, and do injury even to the coloured people. Once it was inaugurated it would proceed from the white to the coloured men, and lead to a greater deterioration of the natives than would be likely to result from a wellregulated law, which, whilst it allowed white people to procure liquor, would rigidly prohibit the coloured race from the use of it. I shall vote not only against the clause as it stands, but also against the proposals outlined by Senator Pearce, because it strikes me that they would fail to achieve the laudable object he has in view.
– It is not from any opposition to the cause of temperance that I rise to oppose the clauses dealing with the prohibition of intoxicants. There is no political party which should more ardently support the temperance cause than the Labour Party, because I believe that its triumph would be very speedy under a temperance regime. I consider that the drink traffic does more harm to the Labour Party than to any other political party. Perhaps, if I were considering only the advantages of the Labour Party, and we were asked to apply prohibition to the Commonwealth, I should look upon the proposal in a different light. I believe that when this clause was inserted in the Bill, the members of another place had not received the correspondence which is contained in the return which has been laid before us. Had they read ir. they could not have reconciled their votes in favour of prohibition in New Guinea with the opinions of the leading residents.
– The correspondence is nearly all reprinted in the speeches made in another place, so that honorable members must have read it.
– I am afraid that they have not had time to give this question the consideration which it deserves. The correspondence is very strong in condemnation) of this provision. It emanates from men who have lived in British New Guinea for many years, whose character is beyond reproach, and whose word will be taken by every one. They are men in all circumstances of life, including clergymen who are taking part in the missionary work, men representative of all the churches ; magistrates, medical men, and tradesmen. Every one of these men speaks strongly in condemnation of prohibition. I can only attribute the insertion of the clause to the fact that this Parliament has the reputation for being extremely sober. Whatever else the opponents of Federation can fire off at the Federal Parliament, they are obliged to admit our sobriety. A return printed by another place shows that the value of the drink consumed by the members of this Parliament amounts to something like 4d. per week per member. I think that the temperance zeal of members of another place got hold of them to such an extent that they determined to go to the utmost limit in compelling other people to do as they do.
– The amount mentioned included the liquor consumed in the buildings by persons who are not members of the Federal Parliament.
– I am afraid that those who are not members do not receive much encouragement to come to this building, seeing that the expenditure on liquor amounts only to 4d. per member per week. I have always been a temperance man myself. I have been as temperate in reference to drink as in everything else. But I have never been a total abstinence man. That is altogether distinct from being a temperance man. I regard this proposal as one of those teetotal attempts at tyranny which do the temperance movement more harm’ than good. It is this intemperance of the temperance party which retards its progress more than anything else. I recognise that the temperance party have a good cause. They are exceedingly earnest men and women. But very often they show a lack of judgment in dealing with questions of this kind. They overshoot the mark, with the result that they fail to do any good whatever in their movement for the promotion of temperance. I hold that it is efforts of this kind that have kept the temperance movement back. I cannot see how any man can advocate the application of the principle of prohibition to British New Guinea, of all parts of the world. If we attempted to carry out this provision, we should be unable to provide salaries for the number of police and officials who would be required. It is a totally unworkable en. deavour to foist the principles of the temperance party on to people who have very little power to benefit themselves in a legislative sense. If we must try these experiments in total abstinence, why do we begin with British New Guinea? Why not commence with the Commonwealth? If the country were in favour of it, we should, at all events, elicit an expression of opinion.
– Would the honorable member vote for it?
– I will wait until I see a definite proposal before I commit myself. But there would be more sense in proposing prohibition for the Commonwealth than in attempting to apply it in British New Guinea. I know something of gold-mining countries, having for some years lived in the back-block parts of Australia. I know that it is absolutely impossible to secure the total abolition of drink amongst a mining community ; and if there aro. any people in the world who are capable of defying the law upon such a question, miners are just the men. An attempt to abolish drinking habits amongst the miners would have the same effect as the attempts made in Western Australia, in the early gold-digging days, to take alluvial rights from the miners and to hand over the fields to big companies. There was such trouble about it that the Government were glad to get out of the whole affair and to let the miners do what they jolly well liked. The same thing would happen in connexion with prohibition in British New Guinea. The result would simply be that within a very few years we should have to repeal the law which we had placed upon the Statutebook. I am surprised to find that Senator Smith should endeavour to support his case for prohibition by quoting from Captain Barton, because I find that that gentleman speaks in quite the opposite direction. He speaks very strongly against any attempt at prohibition. He also points out that there is little or no danger of a love for alcohol extending to the Papuans.
– I think that the honorable senator will admit that I said that every Government official, as far as I know, was opposed to prohibition.
– But the honorable senator singled out Captain Barton for some reason or other.
– I was speaking as to whether the natives would drink liquor if they got possession of it, and I quoted Captain Barton in support of mv statement.
– The only passage in Captain Barton’s report which bears upon that point is a remark as to some Papuans who went to Thursday Island. Some of them took to drink, but Captain Barton said that they were not worth reckoning when it came to a question^ of applying prohibition to the whole Possession. I will quote from his report. He says -
I can speak from my own knowledge, that the coloured men at Thursday Island - Asiatics and Pacific Islanders - can, and do obtain, liquor in the public bars, and while this latitude is permitted, it will not be possible to prevent a few Papuans acquiring a taste for it. Natives in this employ are the only Papuans within my knowledge, who have any desire to drink intoxicating liquor. It might be found necessary, were this evil to show signs of increase, to debar Papuans from being employed in the Thursday Island shelling industry ; but at the present time there is nothing to warrant such a step being taken.
Further on in his remarks he points out the difficulty of trying to apply this law in British New Guinea. He says -
Speaking generally, the duties of the Resident Magistrates are made easier by the friendly cooperation of the miners, traders, and other white men in their divisions, but in the event of abolition being enforced by law, it is certain that a spirit, hostile to the Government, will be engendered among those people,, a spirit which will become more or less hostile the more or less conscientiously the Magistrates endeavour to enforce this law. But the matter, unfortunately, does not end here, for those natives who would be employed in the various ways of smuggling liquor into and about the country would also be forced into taking sides against the Government along with their white employers.
That passage shows the danger of attempting to introduce legislation which’ may promote feeling against the Government. Once the natives are made rebellious in one respect, it will be very easy to teach them to oppose the Government in everything else.
That is the greatest danger we should have to face in endeavouring ‘to enforce a law of this kind upon the whites, who are apparently the only people on which it could be -practised. The natives of the country, as is pointed out all through the report, have not acquired a taste for liquor. Hence there is no necessity to legislate for them. As to the white men, I hold that it would be cruel to compel them to exist in an inhospitable country like British New Guinea, especially upon the diggings, without the opportunity to have a glass of grog if they desired it. If there is any part of the world where it is justifiable for a man to have a drink occasionally if he pleases, it is in a country with a climate like that of British New Guinea. It would be foolish for us to endeavour to enforce a law of this kind upon the people, and it would be impossible to carry it out. Therefore I trust that the Committee will not agree to the prohibition of liquor.
– I intend to support Senator Pearce’s amendment. After full consideration, I think it is a very fair proposal indeed. In the first place, I am totally opposed to, prohibition. I do not believe that the clause as it stands in the Bill will work in the best interests either of the white residents of British New Guinea or. of the natives. If the white residents, after the question has been submitted to them, declare themselves opposed to prohibition, I shall certainly be in favour of Government control. I am surprised at the attitude taken up by some honorable senators, and by honorable members of another place. It seems to me that seme of them say that a thing is very good as long as it is tried on some other fellow. Senator Smith speaks with a certain amount of authority on New Guinea questions, because he spent some time in the country. But this afternoon he advocated prohibition, though he freely admits that the large majority of the white settlers with whom he came into contact said that they were opposed “to it.
– He said “without exception.”
– I wished to put both sides fairly.
– I am inclined to think that in this matter Senator Smith is not acting in that unselfish statesmanlike way that has generally characterized his attitude towards New Guinea questions. I do not suppose the honorable senator will object if I say I have good reason to believe that he had a case or two of liquor with him when he went to New Guinea.
– Medical comforts !
– Exactly ; I do not wish to infer anything to the contrary. Although there is no prohibition at present, the honorable senator doubtless knew that in out-of-the-way places the liquor is very often not too good, and is described in various ways as “chain lightning,” “snake juice,” “tanglefoot,” and so forth; and a traveller who thinks he may require liquor as a medicine, takes with him liquor of the best quality. I ask Senator Smith, and those who favour prohibition, to remember that the average man engaged in mining and other pioneering work is not in a position to take a stock of liquor with him for medicinal purposes.
– Such a man has to put up with “chain lightning.”
– And probably will have to put up with such liquor until the traffic is under Government control. That is a reasonable assumption from our experience of out-of-the-way places in Australia. “Under Government control, however, there would be no incentive to sell “ chain lightning,” and there is no doubt that a proposal in that direction presents the best method of removing the danger presented in the sale of poisonous liquor under private enterprise. I hope that a majority of the Senate will come to the conclusion that the proposal by Senator Pearce is a very fair one. Senator Pearce desires that matters shall remain as at present until we have obtained a fair idea of the opinion of the white residents of Papua. If those white residents express the opinion that in their own interests, or in the interests of the natives, prohibition is necessary, then by all means let there be prohibition. I would rather trust the majority opinion of the white .settlers than the opinion of our temperance friends in Australia, who, from the best of motives, are anxious for prohibition. Those white residents are in a much better position to decide what they require, and what may be dangerous to the black races, than are temperance advocates at a distance from the Possession ; and Senator Pearce’s proposal affords the foundation on which we may legislate with our eyes open. So far as our information at present goes, the white residents of New Guinea are against prohibition. There may, however, be a number of whites whose opinion has not been ascertained, and every effort should be made to meet the wishes of the majority. I have no doubt that most honorable senators wish to see this Bill become law, and we ought to consider what is likely to be the effect of our decision when the measure is returned to another place. I shall vote against prohibition, and for Government control, and I believe our proposals will find readier acceptance in the House of Representatives if we accept Senator Pearce’s amendment, instead of rejecting the clause. If we strike out the clause, and reject prohibition without condition or qualification, it is possible that some time may be wasted in parleying between the two Chambers. I take it that the leader of the Government in the Senate is anxious to see the Bill passed, and I suggest that the proposed amendment provides a very good compromise; at any rate, it upholds the old principle of majority rule.
– We have to take a practical rather than a theoretical view of this question. Like some honorable senators who have preceded me, I may say that, even before I became a member of Parliament, and ever since, I have been a supporter of every rational proposal in the direction of encouraging sobriety. But there is a great deal of difference between men who desire to promote temperance on lines which are practical, and men who advocate temperance on purely theoretical lines. I recognise fully and completely the earnestness and bona fides of workers in the cause of temperance, both men and women, in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. But in this particular instance I am swayed much more by the opinions of reliable persons on the spot than I am by the theoretical views of people who cannot have a knowledge of local conditions, such as that possessed by the various ministers of the Christian religion, many of whom have spent the time almost of a generation in the Possession. Then we have also the opinion of the Government officials as to the working of the present law, and the proposal submitted in the measure before us. It cannot be suggested that these persons living in New Guinea are desirous of encouraging any kind of traffic which would be injurious to the best interests of the people, white and coloured. We cannot suppose ihat men who have gone with their lives in their hands to preach the gospel to the natives, do not know what they are talking about, or are anxious for a drink traffic of an undesirable character. As I say, I am more swayed by the opinions of men who have lived in New Guinea for years, with the desire to benefit the dark races, than I am by the views of good people, who have never been in the Possession, and do not understand the conditions of the country. We have been told by Senator Smith that New Guinea is so large that a licence might be granted in one part, and the fact not be known at head-quarters for three months. If the means of communication are so utterly deficient, what check could there possibly be on the smuggling which would inevitably follow prohibition? I understand that in Dutch New Guinea, just alongside the British Possession, the liquor known as “ squareface” gin can be purchased at iod. and 11d. per quart. There are thousands of native canoes, which could be utilized to bring that stuff into British territory. The depth of water on the coast is such for hundreds of miles that canoes could easily sail where revenue vessels or steamers employed to check smuggling could not follow”.
– Smuggling would yield a good profit now.
.- But there is not the inducement to smuggle, when an article can be purchased at a reasonable price
– Liquor can now be obtained legally.
– People who desire drink, will not commit a crime for the sake of a few shillings. One of the evils of smuggling is that people obtain only intermittent supplies, and are inclined to go in for a “ big burst “ when opportunity offers.
– Is that so?
– I am speaking general lj’ - not with any particular application to New Guinea.
– Then I suppose that if boots were smuggled, men would wear a dozen or fifteen pairs instead of one.
– I do not know that a man could wear as many boots as. he could drink glasses of grog. I understand that there is abundance of material in New Guinea suitable for distilling purposes, and in this- connexion we should, under prohibition, certainly have the natives employed in what I suppose may be described as a crime. It would create in the native mind the idea that liquor was a very much more valuable commodity, if all the trouble I have indicated had to be gone to .to get it, than if it were supplied in the ordinary way of trade.
– They are prohibited from getting it now, and ‘should not that create the same impression?
– To some extent, the interjection is apposite, but at the same time I think the view which I put forward is entitled to some consideration. One or two speakers have suggested that in the light of our experience the efforts to control the liquor traffic in Australia have accomplished comparatively verylittle. That is the experience of New South Wales. There has been no alteration of the liquor law in .that State for a quarter of a century. There have been, in the meantime, most industrious and earnest efforts on the part of many good people to bring about an improvement, but I think they have gone about the reform in the wrong way, as this proposal does. Instead of devoting their energies to an improvement in the conditions of the trade, and particularly to the improvement of the liquor sold, there has been a strong and” almost unreasonable demand for the impossible, namely, prohibition. I feel convinced that if those who are so earnest in their efforts to deal with the drink traffic had devoted more consideration to its details, rather than to its wholesale abolition, more would have been accomplished. If they did something to bring about an improvement in t’he quality of the liquor sold, good results would follow.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it is the fellow who drinks it who ought to do that.
– Unfortunately, a very great many of those who take drink will not go to that trouble. A simple plan’ which is put in operation by a good many people who take liquor is that they will not visit hotels where the liquor sold is not sound. My honorable friend, even in his own experience, may possibly have some knowledge of that, and be none the worse for it. If such efforts as I have suggested had been made, the amount of good which might have been achieved during the last twenty-five years in New South Wales would have been marvellous. In New South Wales much good might have been accomplished in detail, whereas the efforts which have been devoted to the total abolition of the drink traffic have not been in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people of the State. I scarcely approve of the proposal that the 400 or 500 white residents of New Guinea should be the arbiters of this matter. It is possible that they might be arbiters in their own behalf, and might be indifferent . to the well-being of the natives of the Territory. I have not had a sufficient opportunity to study Senator Pearce’s proposal, but I understand that the honorable senator does not propose either to prohibit absolutely, or to allow the few white residents of the Territory to be arbiters of the fate of the whole community of the Territory in respect to its liquor laws. I understand . that the honorable senator’s proposal is of a very much more practical nature than is the provision contained in this Bill, and will be very much more likely if adopted toproduce good results. Whilst I say that I feel it my duty to vote against the proposed prohibition, I hope, on closer examination, to be able to support Senator Pearce’s amendment.
– The present amendment is local option, pure and simple.
– I did not so understand it. If that is the proposal, I do not think that it is at all satisfactory for the reason I have indicated. I think it is not right that a handful of white people should settle the question of the liquor supply for the great population of ignorant coloured folk in the Territory. That is not a proposal which I could support. But for the reasons I have given, I feel it to be my duty, with a full sense of the responsibility of giving a vote upon such a matter, to vote against the clause as it stands. I believe that to enact such a clause would bring about smuggling, or illicit distillation, or both, and that in the circumstancss the interests of the coloured inhabitants of the Territory would be jeopardized to a greater extent than by the continuance of the svstem which at present obtains, and which has the strong support of the whole of the clerical people on the spot, and apparently the full support of the officials charged with the government of the mixed population with which they have to deal in British New Guinea-
– I shall avail myself of this opportunity to state clearly that it is my intention to support the clause as it stand’s. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I shall not do so, because of the suggestion which has been made in this Chamber that, while we are prepared to try our hands at prohibition, as applied to the “ other fellow,” we are not prepared to apply the same principle to ourselves. I wish honorable senators to understand that if I were given the opportunity to-night, or at any early date, to vote for prohibition for the whole of Australia, I should vote for it.
– What would the honorable senator do for revenue?
– There are a thousand and one means by which revenue could be obtained without the besotting of men’s lives.
– What about Great Britain ?
– Great Britain has derived more ruin than revenue from the drinking habits of her people. The object of this Bill is the government of what we are pleased to term a new accession to the Commonwealth. I find that the Territory is already populated bv 300,000 or 400,000 native inhabitants, as compared with some 400 or 500 white people, who probably have no business there at all. The result is that it is admitted almost without dissent in this Committee, and in another place, that it is absolutely dangerous to allow strong drink to be used by the natives of this Territory. We have been given some examples from our own experience. It has been shown that the aborigines of Australia have been practically wiped out as the result of their contact with white civilization, and the drinking habits of white people. If possible, we wish to avoid any such calamity befalling the native population of New Guinea. If that is our desire, as honest and reasonable men, we should say so. If our purpose is to preserve this Territory for the people, who are its natural inhabitants, it is clearly our duty to prevent those people from committing social suicide, if it is within our power to do so. In my opinion, that is what the Bill aims at. We have been told that missionaries, who have spent some time in New Guinea and the adjacent islands, are agreed, for various reasons, which they set forth, that it would be unwise to enact prohibition. Whilst we may pay a very great deal of attention to the opinions of missionaries on such matters, we should not forget that the heads, of the churches have made very remarkable mistakes in connexion wilh the civilization of men. Some years ago, when the British people were endeavouring to free a certain number of slaves, the persons who most persistently endeavoured to prevent the freedom of those slaves were the bishops and heads of the church, who were unrepresentative of the people, and who sat in positions where they were able to exercise votes unassailed. We know that they expressed themselves in terms which, if they were given expression to by the heads of churches to-day, would secure but very little notice for those persons or their arguments. The missionaries may have experienced . very great trials in the course of their labours for the civilization of these people, but we should not forget that it has oftentimes been thrown in the teeth of Britishers that we have attempted to civilize men by means of the Bible, the gun, and the rum bottle. In this Territory we ‘have a people 400,000 strong, whom we all wish to preserve and guard against our liquor customs. Yet it is sought to annihilate 400,000 natives for the sake of conveniencing a few hundred white men.
– That is precisely the position. If t’he honorable senator thinks it is dangerous that the natives should be contaminated with our drinking habits, and he is prepared to allow a few hundred white men to introduce an article which would be inimical to the welfare of 400,000 natives, what else is he doing but legislating with a view to exterminate the native race ? Where have the native races of Australia gone, and what has been the cause of their disappearance?
– We have civilized the aborigines out of existence.
– Certainly. And now honorable senators are endeavouring to civilize out of existence 400,000 natives in British New Guinea - in order, I suppose, that the British Christian people may take t’h’eir belongings and bid them good-bye.
– Which has done the aborigines of Western Australia most harm, food or drink?
– The want of food may have done some harm, and probably the drink accomplished the rest.
– There is not much drinking amongst the aborigines of that State.
– Fortunately for us there is not. But nevertheless, we have to recognise that the race has practically been killed off by our customs.
– Not by drink.
– By drink and other things.
– Will the honorable senator kindly explain why the results which he now predicts in regard to the Papuans have not taken place in British India?
– The honorable senator is acquainted with the reason. If we prohibit the manufacture or importation of drink it will create the smuggling habit.When salt was smuggled into the British Isles, the Britisher’ did not use five pounds of the article per day. as has been suggested, because it was smuggled. When gloves and boots were being freely smuggled into the old country, the authorities made an effort to put down the habit. Each. State in the Commonwealth has passed :t criminal code. No one ever suggested that the passing of a code was destined to create criminals. On the contrary, it was passed in order that the authorities might be able, to deal with crime as it occurred. It is our duty to prohibit liquor from being imported, manufactured, or used for other than the prescribed purposes. . I do not intend to support a provision which would lead to the sacrifice of 400,000 natives in order that thd appetites of 400 or 500 white mert might be satisfied. In this new country there are no vested interests to contend, against. There is nothing whatever to prevent an experiment being made in this direction, and the opportunity to test the principle ought to be taken advantage of. If it should be found impossible to make men sober by Act of Parliament, we can: then proceed to regulate the traffic. My. opinion is that the traffic should be in the control of the State, but on this clause I intend to support the Government.
– We have had several very interesting speeches on this subject. I am pleased that honorable senators credit each other with a desire to do what they believe will best promote the welfare of the community for whom we are legislating. The last speaker when he was asked a question seemed to take it for granted that Senator Pulsford knew why it was that 300,000,000 people in India have mot been demoralized by drink. The reason is that about one-third of that number, if I. mistake not. are Mohammedans. Some persons seem to think that blacks will always act foolishly ; but the black races in India are quite able to protect themselves against drunkenness. Much of what has been said to-night would be very true if there were no legislation to prevent the very evil we are discussing. I have in my hand an ordinance by the Govern- ment of British New Guinea called the Arms Liquor and Opium Prohibition Ordinance, which, in section 2, says -
No person shall, except as hereinafter permitted, supply to any native by sale, gift, or in any other way, either directly or indirectly, any firearm, ammunition, explosive, intoxicating liquor, or opium; and any person offending against any provision of this section, shall, on conviction in a summary manner, be liable to a fine of not less than £20 and not exceeding £200, and to imprisonment for any term not less than one month and not-exceeding two years.
That ordinance was passed on the 17 th September, 1888, and has been effective. If we have effective legislation, why should we go in for over-legislation ?
– They must drink a larger quantity of liquor than any people in the world.
– In British. New Guinea, as well as in Western Australia, the white men- greatly outnumber the white women, and whenever that is the case, there is proportionately a larger consumption of spirituous liquors. It must be remembered that we possess only a third of New Guinea, and, as Senator Pearce pointed out, there is great danger of smuggling taking place if we are not careful in our legislation. Senator Smith seemed to think that there was great difficulty in importing spirits from German New Guinea. But I think I am right in saying that the Gira gold-field adjoins the border of the German Dependency. It would be a very serious matter to the Territory to lose the revenue which is obtained from the duty on spirits. It is all very well for some honorable senators to be altruistic; but they should be prepared to increase the allowance from the Commonwealth to the Territory by at least £5,000 a year. It is not fair that our fellow countrymen in the Possession should be handicapped in more ways than one.
– Is . £5,000 a year obtained from the duty on spirituous liquors?
– The revenue is between £3,000 and £4,000. and is increasing every year, owing to the growth of population.
– The 400 white men must consume a lot of liquor when they contribute £10 per headto the revenue.
– I strongly object to the suggestion that I wish to penalize 400,000 persons for the sake of benefiting about 500 persons. The natives are already protected by an ordinance, and nothing that we can do so far as I can see, will afford them a more thorough protection than they possess. An honorable senator seemed to make rather light of the unhealthiness of the Territory. Although Port Moresby is one of the most healthy parts, still1 Captain Barton, the present Administrator,, has intermittent attacks of malarial fever. I, myself, visited him in the Melbourne Club while he was suffering from a recurrence of the complaint, and he told me that he expected an attack about every sixweeks. It is nonsense to say that there is no danger. There is a terrible complaint known as “blackwater,” which I have reason to know, is most deadly.
– We are now dealing with firewater.
– Many honorable senators are not prepared to legislate for the Commonwealth as they wish to legislate for British New Guinea. What honorable senator who is prepared to vote for prohibition in the Possession is, at the same time, prepared to vote against the admission to, or sale of intoxicating liquors in, the Commonwealth, or against the use of spirituous liquors in the parliamentary refreshment room. Let us begin at our own place.
– We are not savages ; the honorable senator should not compare us with New Guinea natives.
– Miners are not savages, either.
– We have heard a great deal about the evidence of the missionaries. It is fair to say that that evidence goes to show that the missionaries are for the most part total abstainers. I propose to make two or three extracts from the evidence of the Acting-Governor, and also from the evidence of Mr. Anthony Musgrave, who has been chief secretary in New Guinea for fourteen or fifteen years. Captain Barton, in a despatch of 14th May last, writes very strongly upon the subject. This is not hearsav evidence, but the testimony of a man who is respected by every one who knows him, and who, at the time of his appointment, was the most popular official in British New Guinea. Honorable senators are aware that the late Prime Minister. Mr. Alfred Deakin, sent a despatch to the Lieutenant-Governor, and asked him to cause certain questions to be printed, and circulated amongst residents. Captain Barton, in his reply, says -
After the amendment clause to the Papua Bill for the total abolition of the sale of liquor had been proposed in the last Federal Parliament, a list of questions was made out by the then Minister of External Affairs, which was sent under cover of a despatch to the Acting Administrator of British New Guinea, with instructions that these questions should be printed in the Possession, and that a copy of them should be sent to every male white resident in the Possession. These questions had reference to the proposed abolition (and also to certain proposed changes in the Lands Ordinance), and the object in view was presumably to test the opinion of the local residents with regard to these matters. Copies of the document were circulated in accordance with instructions, and the answers received were duly forwarded to Melbourne.
Our proposed legislation has produced this additional evidence, and we should give heed to it before we act. Captain Barton says -
I believe I am correct in stating that the opinions thus gathered were unanimously opposed to the compulsory abolition of liquor consumption, and maintained that there was no reason for supposing that natives are able under present circumstances to obtain liquor.
That is the very object we wish to attain.
These opinions were equally unanimous in stating that the present law of the Possession (The Arms, Liquor, and Opium Prohibition Ordinance of 1S88) is fully sufficient to deal effectively with any breaches of it.
What more do we want than that?
The aim of the Administration has from its inception been most careful to conserve the welfare of the native population. The Government has ever had before its eyes the dire result of alcohol upon the native people of Australia and the Pacific, and in framing a measure to avert a similar fate overtaking Papuans has gone so far as to include in the “Arms, Liquor, and Opium Prohibition Ordinance” all inhabitants, not of European descent, as natives.
So that any coloured man is considered for the purpose of this ordinance as if he were a native of British New Guinea.
All such people, equally with natives, are debarred from obtaining liquor. Under this Ordinance white persons, convicted of giving or selling intoxicating liquor to any “ native,” are liable to a fine of ^200 and six weeks’ imprisonment, while the “ native,” who received the liquor, is liable to a fine of £10, or three months’ imprisonment.
We have already been told that the natives have a stimulant of their” own. On this subject Captain Barton says -
All Papuans in British New Guinea are betelnut chewers, with the exception of those in the Fly River District. The latter drink “ gamada “ - a decoction made from Piper Methysticum - which is identical,i as far as is known, with “ Kava “ as used in the Pacific Islands. The Fly River natives, however, when taken away from their district, readily acquire the betel-nut habit. This has the effect of a mild stimulant, and it is said on good authority to have a beneficial effect upon the users of it. The habit may be said to take the place of alcohol, inasmuch as it supplies the need of an artificial stimulant, which all the peoples of the world apparently require. I have myself frequently made use of it, and found it to have a soothing influence upon me. Papuans are as greedy for betel-nut as some white men - are for alcoholic liquor. In places where it is scarce, it is frequently an object of theft j and one of the most heinous of offences in a native’s eyes is a theft of betel-nut.
With regard to smuggling Captain Barton says-‘
One of the gravest objections to the proposed legislation is the inducement it will give to smuggling liquor into the Possession - a traffic which would become the more profitable the more strictly the law were enforced. With German New Guinea contiguous on the Northern boundary, and Dutch New Guinea contiguous on the Western boundary (into both of which countries liquor may be imported, I Believe, wholly or almost duty free) it will be impossible for the Administration efficiently to cope with a smuggling traffic. The -impossibility of doing so will be self-evident if the comparatively huge extent of country under each Resident Magistrate’s control is considered. For, apart .from 300 miles of land boundary on the Dutch side, and 500 miles on the German side, the actual coast line of British New Guinea itself is over 3,600 miles in length.
I can scarcely believe that statement myself, but 1 quote it on the authority of Captain Barton. -
To supervise all this there are but six Resident Magistrates, five of whom are provided with small sailing vessels, and the remaining one has nothing bigger than a whaleboat. It will br borne m mind that although the white men engaged in smuggling would be the chief gainers in the traffic, a large number of natives would undoubtedly be employed by them in order to make it successful. It is, moreover, quite conceivable that the more intelligent natives might become smugglers on their own account, and with that would arise the extreme danger of such men being in personal possession of large quantities of liquor.
It seems to me that this is a most valuable report. Captain Barton goes on -
The Administration has always been at pains to win the confidence of the natives, and to teach them that above all things it is scrupulously just. Natives are slow in distinguishing between one white man and another, and it is always a difficult matter to draw a distinction, which the native can understand, between a man who has the interests of the natives at heart, and one who is merely consulting his own interest. It is only by the exercise of extreme patience, tact, and unfaltering rectitude, that the native is gradually brought to understand that his best friends are the Government official;. A Magistrate is always associated in the native mind with the prison, and independent white men, if so disposed, could easily so take advantage of this horror in the native mind as to undo the work of years. It is, therefore, much to be feared that with a network of smuggling extending between the widelyscattered white residents, the incriminated natives first, and the bulk of the native population subsequently, will form a faction with the white non-official residents against the Government. Thus in a short time there would arise a spirit the very opposite of which it has for years been the constant object of the Administration to foster and develop. White men convicted of smuggling, or drinking prohibited liquor, would feel no sense of shame in going to prison. They would feel it to be, and their fellows would regard it as a martyrdom, an injustice. This notion would be readily imbibed by the natives, and the Government, which hitherto had been looked up to as an embodiment of justice, would come to be regarded as a persecuting bogy. Another objection to abolition is that it will have a demoralizing effect upon the civil servants. In the first place, it is hardly to be supposed that an officer without medical qualifications can properly dispense liquor for medicinal purposes. Such dispensing is more than likely to become a mere farce. .One does not see what is to happen when the Magistrate in charge of a division is travelling in his district - a duty which takes up more than half his time - whether’ he is to lock up the liquor medicine chest, and go away with the key in his pocket, or whether he should leave the key of the liquor dispensary in charge of the native lance-corporal of police, who remains meanwhile, perchance, in charge of the station?
With regard to Government control, he says -
The foregoing objections are urged against abolition; they apply in part also to the less radical suggestion that the liquor trade should be made a Government monopoly, more especially so where the question of revenue is concerned. Under the latter system there is certain to be a falling off of revenue, but this amount may, I conjecture, be approximately forecast.
I will next quote what Mr. Anthony” Musgrave says. He has been in British New Guinea for a very long time. I knew him when he was private secretary to one of the Governors of Queensland, before he went to the Possession. He says at page 6 of the correspondence -
After a personal and official knowledge of British New Guinea, which has been continuous for the past nineteen years, I confess that I feel quite at a loss to understand why the Possession should have been singled out for the imposition of an extreme measure, which prevails in no other parts of the Empire, and has never been held to be required or desirable by former Commissioners and Governors of the Territory. The demonstration surely is not intended as a reflection on the administrative prestige and character of experienced British New Guinea officials, deeply impressed with the need for guarding a large native population against indulgence in liquors or opium, &c, as well as the necessity to control excess on the part of thoughtless members of our white community. The first Special Commissioner, the late Major-General Sir Peter H. Scratchley, R.E., certainly did not regard any 12 r 2 such drastic prohibition as demanded by local conditions - nor did the second Special Commissioner, the Hon. j. Douglas, C.M.G., the highlyrespected Magistrate in charge at Thursday Island.
I am sorry to say that Mr. Douglas has since died. Mr. Musgrave goes on -
Other Administrators - Sir G. R. Le Hunte, the present Governor of South Australia, and Sir F. P. Winter, late C.j.O. for over fifteen years - never, to my knowledge, expressed the view that the existing law was insufficient in the present or might prove inadquate in the future. My own personal opinion is to the effect that our local law, while it continues to be strictly enforced, as has hitherto emphatically been the case, requires no radical amendment or alteration, and, above all, calls for no wholesale abrogation in favour of total prohibition. On the same day that Sir William McGregor proclaimed British New Guinea a part of His Majesty’s dominions, the Ordinance was gassed entitled “ The Amis Liquor and Opium Prohibition Ordinance of 1888,” and its provisions can be consulted in the file of the British New Guinea Government Gazette for that year. -The next Ordinance was “‘The Liquor Ordinance of 1891.” This is a somewhat elaborate measure, and dealt with the traffic in liquor in so far as the white contingent of the residents is concerned. It is largely modelled on the law in Queensland, and contains the same clause, enabling the police or friends of any person injuring himself, or herself, by the abuse of stimulants, “ in mind, body, or estate,” to publish a “ Prohibition Order “ from a Resident Magistrate, precluding such person from obtaining any liquor for a fixed period. This clause has been acted upon in one or two instances, and is not regarded as a “ dead letter “ by any means. This Ordinance also may be found in the Gazette. Finally, as the original Ordinance for interdicting the supply of liquor to natives, which includes “ all coloured persons not of European descent,” was deemed to deserve amendment, a supplementary Ordinance was added to our Statutes to penalize natives who accepted or otherwise procured liquor. The stringency of this last Ordinance is manifest to any one who cares to read its clauses. The local authorities and administrations have, therefore, from what I have stated, shown themselves most vigilant for twenty (20) years past in guarding against the evils and abuse that would undoubtedly follow the consumption of alcohol or opium by our Papuan fellow-subjects. Every step taken has likewise been taken with the full approval of the Queensland Government and H.M. Secretary of State for the Colonies, and it is not easy to see in consequence why the local Administration should be subjected to reflection on its previous policy and practice without any proof whatever of negligence or lack of due sense of responsibility in respect of legislation for the absolute prohibition of liquor for natives, and the due control of its disposal to white persons. The Lieutenant-Governor of the Possession is counselled by “ The Native Regulation Board,” his “ Executive Council,” and a “ Legislative Council,” and although it is true that some leading members belong to all these three bodies, they are not identical either in numbers or individuals. To deprive British New Guinea of powers that it has exerted for so long, without -any apparent reason therefor, is, apart from any reflection on its Administrators, a reflection on the officials, who are sworn to advise conscientiously as to deliberations on all public matters. I have not dwelt upon the comparatively heavy Joss to the British New Guinea revenue, since if the “ new departure “ advocated were plainly wise and right under all circumstances, it might be well, even at some public monetary sacrifice, to reconsider the economic side of the question. At the same time, I am unable to suggest an equivalent substitute for import duties, &c, on wines and spirits. That the attempt to suppress all traffic in liquor would create great temptation to smuggle and to illicit distillation is beyond a doubt. Not to mention others, the cocoanut palm, sugar-cane, and banana plants flourish everywhere, and will all produce fermented liquors, and unscrupulous white settlers would induce the natives to engage in such clandestine production. This would be, however, I think I have shown, an illicit trade on account of certain immigrants, for the Papuan aboriginal exhibits no taste or desire for fermented liquors, but is satisfied with the only mild stimulant that he knows and enjoys, viz., the chewing of betel-nut from the betel-nut palm, with lime. This has been a pleasure to his ancestors, and remains one in the present day. It has rather a stupefying effect, and after a long “ chew “ the mental powers seem dulled for a time, but the effect soon -disappears.
I am sorry to have occupied so much time, but I think that those expressions of opinion by officials of high honour and integrity should carry some weight. I feel it my duty to oppose the clause, but I shall be justified in supporting the first part of Senator Pearce’s amendment, to delete certain words.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- We are engaged in the discussion of an important question of considerable delicacy and intricacy ; but, notwithstanding the seriousness pf the- matter, the debate seems to have dragged somewhat. There are four questions presented to us : Are we in favour of local option, or do we prefer prohibition? Should we like to see Government control, or do we desire the present licensing system to be continued? The question of local option may be disposed of in a very few moments. When Senator Pearce was about to sit down I was on the point of interjecting that he had not done much to prove his case - that local option was in no degree applicable to the circumstances of Papua. But the interjection was not uttered, and Senator Pearce sat down without proving his case ; and, in my opinion, Senator Smith, in his admirable speech, absolutely disposed of all the arguments in favour of local option. How honorable senators opposite can think that this Parliament is justified, under the guise of democratic local option, in giving over to 500 whites, men, women, and children, the decision of this most complicated question, I cannot understand.
– Then why are we justified in enforcing prohibition?
– I cannot understand how men with common-sense can propose to apply the democratic principle of local option to a Territory under Crown Colony conditions, which contains only 400 white souls, as compared with 400,000 black subjects. I should have thought that nothing could have justified this Parliament in delegating, under any pretence whatever, the important duty which devolves upon us. Senator Pearce gave us another argument, which showed the folly of the local option proposal. I agree with Senator Pearce that the chances are that the white population of New Guinea would vote for the drink traffic as at present conducted. There are the thirteen licensed stores and the seven public houses, and Senator de Largie has told us that he cannot conceive of the miners carrying on their work without drink. I should say that 90 per cent, of the white population would vote for the present conditions.
– The alternative is prohibition or State control.
– I regard local option as absolutely inapplicable. The next proposal is that there should be prohibition. Senator Neild said that he desired to take a practical view, and my desire is the same; but I come to an exactly contrary conclusion from that expressed by the’ honorable senator. I admit that we have the evidence of the missionaries, of the Administrator, and of the Government officials, to the effect that prohibition will not do, and that matters ought to be allowed to go on as at present. I should be very loth to disagree with that evidence, but I have some very good arguments for the course I intend to pursue. As a guide, we have the teachings of history, and the experience of mankind. We have lessons from every quarter as to the result of the drink traffic in places where there are few whites and a large number of natives. It appears to me that the Bishop and the missionaries have altogether disregarded the teachings of history. They seem to imagine that the drink question has no existence outside of the 500 whites and the 400,000 blacks in British
I New Guinea. They have no suggestion to make, except that prohibition ought npt to be adopted. The good Bishop certainly makes a suggestion which I shall advocate if there is not prohibition, namely, that there should be Government control of the traffic. As to this, Senator Walker said that a great deal of the evidence is based on the fact that the laws in New Guinea are effective and properly administered. As the Attorney-General told us in his opening speech, such a state of things is. rather like a miracle. I never knew licensing laws that were ever well administered; I never knew of drink being kept from natives when it was used by white men who lived amongst them. We have heard from Senator Smith that Papuans get drink at Thursday Island, and that at another island drink is also obtained by natives who are brought into contact with miners and pearl-fishers. We have evidence in regard to four different cases where natives have been brought into contact with the vice of the white man. Yet I am told I must swallow the advice of the Bishop and missionaries, and disregard experience which is almost as old as the world.
– The honorable senator talks about the “vice.” of the white man. He takes drink; does he call himself vicious?
– I do not call myself vicious, but I call drunkenness one of the vices of the Anglo-Saxon race. I am afraid that the interjection of Senator Matheson does not help to elucidate this complicated problem.
– Is Senator Dobson moderately vicious?
– I am a very moderate drinker. If I could abolish drink from this earth I should do so ; that is where my democracy would lead me. Not only are all the teachings of history against the evidence of the missionaries, but we have evidence in New Guinea itself that some of the evils which are inseparable from the drink traffic are rampant in the Possession. I pointed out in my second-reading speech that there is absolutely no record of the licences issued. The Administrator seems to have forbidden licences in a certain locality, and then, on a little agitation, to have withdrawn his prohibition. Amongst the 500 white people are women and children, and the missionary teetotallers ; and yet there are thirteen store licences and seven public-houses, or one licensed place to every twenty-six of the white population. Such a ‘record could not be found in other places peopled by the Anglo-Saxon race. Senator Smith gave one explanation, but not a complete explanation, of this fact. He said that the white settlers, in New Guinea are so scattered that, in order to supply their wants, there must be a large number of licensed houses. If that be so, it only shows what a terrible place New Guinea will become if the present licensing system is permitted to continue. No doubt new mining fields will be discovered, new areas planted with cocoanuts, and other industries started, and there will be twentysix more public-houses required for the additional 500 of population. We have heard of the good ordinances in regard to the liquor’ traffic ; but what is the use of good laws if the administration is not effective? It is distinctly laid down that it is illegal to sell liquor in any less quantity than a quart ;’ but there is a bar trade developing, and the law is broken every day.
– Does the honorable and learned senator not think that it is erring on the right side to give a man a glass’ of liquor instead of a bottle ?
– The AttorneyGeneral is very good at interjecting, but his question does not dispose of my argument. We all know that hard drinkers want halfadozen glasses, and it is no doubt better for them to have half-a-dozen little nobblers than half-a-dozen bottles. Even the good ordinance on which the Bishop relies is being broken day by day. As to that, we did not want his evidence; we might have known the fact. Senator de Largie has told us that miners must have drink, and we know that two-thirds of the white population are miners. What will be the state of New Guinea if we allow our present licensing system, with all its evils - its vested interests and its greed - to grow up in the Territory? If we cannot devise a better scheme we ought to be whipped. All these considerations lead me to support the clause. If ever there was a case in which prohibition should be tried, it is that of our new Territory. Honorable senators seem to be absolutely unaware of what is going on in New Zealand. There the women’s vote has developed, as it will develop in Australia, and in many districts prohibition is enforced. In those districts the number of prosecutions for crime and drunkenness have fallen off, and we have before us an object lesson of the success of prohibition. Senator de Largie talks about the tyranny of the Labour Party, though I think that it was a wrong phrase for him to use. The honorable senator might as well talk about the tyranny of the women of New Zealand - the tyranny of the thousands of electors - who are sweeping away the temptation of drink from their white brothers and sisters. This is not a question of tyranny, but one of policy. With our temperance friends it is a matter of earnest conviction. Some of them have worked for a life-time in the temperance cause, but, of course, as this is one of the most complicated and delicate questions with which we have to deal, nearly every suggestion they make may be found fault with. The opportunity is now given for us to try prohibition in a new Territory. If it does not succeed it can be very easily altered. I venture to. suggest that the arguments against it are more arguments on paper than anything else. We are-told that illicit stills will be established, that spirits will be distilled from sugar-cane, and in other ways ; that the people in German and Dutch New Guinea will send canoes and ships with liquor ; and that smuggling will be carried on all along the coast. But in the same breath those who tell us these things admit that the natives of New Guinea have as yet acquired no taste for liquor, and do not like it.
– The .smugglers will soon teach it to them.
– If there is anything like good administration, and if there are good white and native police in British New Guinea, I do not think that smugglers will attempt to take drink to a place where, although there are 400,000 people scattered over’ thousands of square miles, they are people who have acquired no taste for drink, and absolutely dislike it. The two things will. not hang together. I Have no doubt that, although the persons who have been quoted have written sincerely and honestly of their ‘ fears of smuggling and illicit distillation, they have very grossly exaggerated the matter. If, as we are given to understand by Senator Smith, some of the natives who have been trained as constables have not acquired the taste for liquor, are doing good work, are taught the majesty of the law, that it is the boast of the Englishman that he abides by the law, and desires to follow that law-abiding example, they will very easily track out those who endeavour to smuggle hogsheads of beer and barrels of spirits into New Guinea. Senator Clemons is inclined to sneer at the idea of prohibition, and to suggest that prohibitive laws cannot be enforced. But I should like the honorable and learned senator to take into consideration the way in which various laws are carried out at our very door. Do we not know that we have laws here to put down gambling as well as drinking?
– There are laws in Tasmania to encourage gambling.
– We have tried to put down those evils, and we know that the law is not administered. Honorable senators may say thai there is no harm in the licensing of public houses when we regulate them, and when -it is impossible to get a drink on a Sunday, or after a certain hour at night ; but we know that every one of these laws are broken every hour. I believe that if we had prohibition in New Guinea to-morrow, with anything like the vigilant administration which should be possible in a new community, there would be far less violation of that strict law than, there is of the less strict licensing laws at our very doors in Melbourne, and in every capital of the (Commonwealth. Persons who are resident in New Guinea have pointed out that there is a strict law in force in the Territory, but it is nor properly administered. It has been pointed but that under the existing system natives are getting drink. We know that if thi; licensing system is continued, vested rights will be created, and when a wave of common-sense feeling later on demands the abolition of the old system, we shall probably ‘have to pay down ^50,000 to get rid of the licences. We know that millions of money will have to be paid to compensate licensees in Great Britain. We know, that ,£50,000 is required to compensate thirty-six hotel-keepers in North Melbourne, and the Victorian Government cannot find the money for the purpose. Is it wise that we should leave this matter to officials who at the present time are issuing licences without keeping any record of them? Surely things are bad enough, without our trying to make them worse ? We should endeavour to improve upon the existing state of things.
– Is the only unbreakable law a prohibition law, or is it as easily broken as are all the rest?
Senator DOBSON. It will be broken ~r but it will not be so easily broken as are other laws. That laws are broken is noargument why we should not pass them. My honorable and learned friend is aware that, although we know they are broken, we pass laws against gambling and to regu- late the drink traffic in the various States of the Commonwealth.
– I am endeavouring 4o point out that the proposed prohibition law will be broken.
– I know that it will. Laws are broken every hour in civilized Melbourne, but we do not on that account cease to make laws and to administer them, though I admit that the police are very slow to administer existing laws. I desire most earnestly that we should try to secure a better system.
– We do not prohibit the possession of property because people steal it.
– My honorable and learned friend is aware that, that is not a relevant interjection. The drink traffic stands alone, and we can compare nothing else to it. If we continue for much longer to leave the drink traffic in the hands of men whose every incentive is to make as many men drunk as they can, and to sell as much liquor as they can, we shall be very unwise legislators. If we cannot carry prohibition, I Hope we shall succeed in defeating the proposal for local option. If we cannot succeed in either of these matters, I shall certainly vote for Government control of the traffic. In this matter, I can honestly and conscientiously step forward and shake hands with my socialistic brothers. I do not desire to go too far with them-, to break economic laws, and disturb social arrangements, but if ever there was an opportunity to show what can be done by Government control, we surely have it here? It will be like everything else. It will be an experiment. We might have weak officials by whom the Government control might not be properly administered, but every honorable senator must admit that there is here a splendid opportunity afforded to try the experiment of Government control, and I should hope that the administration will never make any worse mess of it than they are making of the existing licensing system.
– Surely we should have local option before we come .to State control. Local option might stop, the traffic altogether.
– If we cannot carry prohibition, I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will support State control of this traffic. It appears to me that by proper administration of the system proposed, we should be able to keep the liquor traffic really under control. I admit that that is done in no other place. We should prevent the creation of vested rights, and whatever profit may be derived - and the less, the better - would go into the public Treasury, and not into the pockets of private individuals who get rich at the expense, sometimes of the lives, and of the health, of their fellow-men.
– Upon this question, I am perfectly free. I am not merely unmuzzled in regard to the expression of my own personal views ; but also unfettered as to the vote I shall give. This clause is the result of an amendment moved in the other branch of the Legislature by a private member, and it is therefore an open question. Senator Dobson has rather mixed up, the administration of the existing law - which- may _ be a perfectly good law, badly administered - with questions of principle involved in the clause as it stands, and in the amendment proposed by Senator Pearce.
– Does the honorable and learned senator call the present licensing system a good’ law?
– When my honorable and learned friend inveighed with so much eloquence and earnestness on the subject of maladministration he was entitled to’ this degree of sympathy, at any rate, that there is not one member of the Senate who would not be found standing shoulder to shoulder with him in endeavouring to secure the complete and thorough administration of the laws, as they stand on the statute-book. I do not think that maladministration to any serious extent has been proved. Careless administration does not condemn the laws under which it may have taken place, and’ when we are considering the necessity of improving the law, we should not be led away by reason of the fact that careless administration, which ought to be remedied, has taken place, into, perhaps, rashly changing the law as it stands. In the first place, it should be remembered that this is a Bill to establish a system of Government. This is a Bill for the purpose of framing a Constitution. I do not seek to influence any honorable senator by suggesting that this is a Government proposal, because it is not, nor does the opposition to it emanate from the Government, but in my view this is not a measure in which a provision of this kind should be introduced.
– I think that this is a detail of local administration.
– There was a proposal in the Government measure when submitted in another place dealing with the question.
– Nothing of the kind.
– There was a prohibition against supplying liquor to the native races, I think that was all.
– Not in the Bill as originally introduced. I wish to make clear my individual views on the matter. I think this is the wrong place in which to endeavour to deal with the liquor traffic.
– Does not the objection apply equally to the land legislation provided for?
– I am not prepared to deny that.
– The honorable and learned senator did’ not object to that.
– In moving the second reading of the Bill, I indicated pretty clearly what my views are. The honorable senator is taking me somewhat off the track, but I may inform him that the provision with regard to land legislation was inserted’ by a very large majority when .the Bill was before the House of Representatives last year. The Bill with thai provision in it was adopted by successive Governments, and it was adopted by the present Government in .the form in which it stood at the time they came into office. 1 take a s’trong view on the subject, but whatever view is taken with respect to the provision dealing with land legislation, it is not in the same position as the provision with regard to the liquor traffic. I say that this is no place for a provision of this kind. We are not entirely bound by precedents, but I am not aware of any precedent in a Bill establishing a Constitution for a Dependency such as this Territory is, for dealing with matters of detail in relation to the liquor traffic. We are creating a legislative body for the express purpose of dealing with all these matters that are really matters of local government.
– But the supreme Parliament can surely give a direction to the subordinate legislative body ?
– We have power to do it, but I point out that legislation on this, or any other subject of local interest should be left to the legislative body we are creating under this Bill.
– We have a perfect right to refuse to delegate this power to that body.
– We have a perfect right to legislate on this question in any way we choose.
– We may impose such limitations as we think proper.
– I am not suggesting that we may not, but I am contending that it is not customary .in framing a Constitution to tie the hands of the people to whom the Constitution is given, in the management of their local affairs.
– Yes, to some extent it is so.
– I know of no instance.
– The imposition of differential duties was prohibited by the State Constitutions. The principle is the same.
– When I come to think of it, honorable senators might as well establish an early-closing law.
– Our power to deal with the question of conciliation and arbitration is limited in the Constitution.
– Yes. Honorable senators can embody in this Constitution anything they like. They can make a provision in regard to sanitation or the clothing of the natives. They can say that no native shall be allowed to walk in the streets of Samarai without wearing a tall hat. Really, when we are dealing with the Constitution we should keep as well as we can within the limits of the purposes to which the Bill is devoted. There is a great deal more weight than perhaps honorable senators would otherwise think in the view that was strenuously put by Senator Pearce, namely, that it is a very serious thing to interfere with th’e social and ordinary life of the white residents by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament without any representation. I shall resist any attempt of that kind now and on any other occasion.
– Is it not a much more serious matter to delegate to white residents the power of dealing with 400.000 people?
– My honorable friend is mistaken.
– That is the proposition before the Chamber.
– With great respect to my honorable friend, it is not.
– The local option provision is before the Committee.
– My honorable friend is entirely mistaken. When Senator Smith states that we aTe legislating for the natives I beg leave, with the greatest respect, to deny his statement. The natives are protected by existing legislation in a most complete fashion.
– Which may be revoked by this Bill.
– My honorable friend is now shifting his ground with the greatest agility. What I am dealing with is the proposition which is put forward as a reason why we should agree to prohibition, and that is that we are legislating for the natives. ‘ We are not doing anything of the kind, because the natives are legislated for under the General Liquor Ordinance, and the Arms, Liquor, and Opium Prohibition Ordinance.
– We think we. can improve upon that legislation.
– I intend to point out how my honorable friends are going to improve upon it. Of course, if we are led away by the idea that we are legislating for- the natives, and that there is no existing legislation to protect them from the evils of strong drink, we may do a great wrong to the whites. Those for whom we are legislating under this prohibition clause are not the 400,000 natives, but the 400 or 50.0 white settlers. My honorable friends wish to bar the admission of “intoxicants,” whatever that term may mean.
– That does not affect the natives.
– Of course it does not.
– Exactly, and that is all that was said.
– My honorable friends have legislated in every possible way to protect them, and if they desire to legislate further I, for one, am willing to assist them. But the provision in the Bill is not intended in the interests of the natives. It is intended as a ban on the white settlers. It is a declaration by the Commonwealth Parliament, in which those men are not represented, that they are never to be trusted with the regulation of their liquor traffic. I hope that we shall be no party to anything of that kind.
– It is saying that they have not as much self-respect as the members of the Senate.
– It is saying a great deal more than that. It is saying that we intend to shut them up in the Territory, just as if they were in a gaol, where they are only to be fed on skilly and water, and they are not to have the opportunity which, as free men, they ought to have, of saying whether they want liquor or not. Senator Smith wound up his speech by saying, “The question is whether it is desirable to keep liquor from the natives.” We all say, “Amen, certainly”; but that is not the question we are dealing with. Then he asked, “Will the legal prohibition effect that end or aggravate it?” That is not the other question he ought to have put. He ought to have asked, “ Is it necessary to keep drink from the whites?”
– He was only arguing that prohibition limited the temptation to the natives.
– What my honorable friends are going to do is to prevent the intrusion of a single drop of liquor into the Territory for scientific or manufacturing purposes.
– What manufacturing purposes can it be wanted for?
– Oh, he knows that it will not be wanted for manufacturing purpose!.
– Has my honorable friend read the clause ?
– Does it not say that liquor can only be used for medicinal purposes? A man cannot preserve a snake, because the LieutenantGovernor has no power to authorize the sale of liquor to him.
– They will soon get round that part of the law.
– Perhaps the LieutenantGovernor might have a very liberal interpretation of the phrase “ medicinal purposes.”
– That is what is generally the case. It will be very easy, as honorable senators will see, for a man to go to some place where liquor is kept - under Government control, if they like - and say that he feels rather “ off colour,” and on the strength of that statement to get a drink, because there is no definition of a medical practitioner in the clause. There is no provision that a man is to drink the liquor in the presence of the Lieutenant-Governor ; he may take it home with him. Does Senator Dobson think that the. clause will . effect his desire to secure prohibition?
– Better than the present licensing system.
– Oh, no.
– Under proper regulations, it will go a very long way in that direction.
– The Attorney-General can put in the manufacturer and the snake if he wishes.
– Whoever drafted the provision was trying to make an experiment on the Parliament.
– Improve it for us.
– It is beyond possibility of improvement. It says-
No intoxicants or opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory -
What, are intoxicants ? There is no definition of the term.
– That- can be easily remedied.
– Then the clause as it stands will not do.
– Senator Pearce’s definition will answer very well. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON. - At any rate, neither intoxicants nor opium may be imported. If a man is feeling a ‘little sickly when he gets into the region of this malarial fever, he cannot take ashore with him a bottle of some beverage, nor can he manufacture a supply. The natives, I believe, manufacture a kind of spirit. Are they to be prevented from manufacturing a supply? A man is not to be permitted to manufacture intoxicants - except by written permission of a person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor, including a provision that such importation or manufacture shall be for medicinal purposes only.
There is no power to allow the manufacture of spirits in the Territory for the purposes of methylation. The Lieutenant-Governor has only power to allow its use for medicinal purposes. The whole atmosphere will be full of lies. A man will simply make a representation that he wants liquor “ for medicinal purposes, and it can only be supplied on the order of a medical practitioner.
– Accepting the honorable and learned senator’s argument to the fullest extent, is it not the duty of the Senate to make any amendment which it may deem necessary?
– It cannot be done.
– We can allow the use of liquor for scientific purposes.
– I am dealing with the clause which Senator Dobson says is first , rate.
– These two additions would be improvements. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- They would be improvements, but how would my honorable friend define “ medical practitioner “ ? Who is to give the order ?
-. - The clause says it may also be given by a “ person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor.”
– I did not notice -that it provided for any one but a medical practitioner giving an order.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator know that very often the storekeeper is the chemist and doctor too?
– To sum it all up,- what do my honorable friends propose to do at the end of this clause? They -propose to repeal - every ordinance passed before the commencement of this Act providing for or permitting the importation, manufacture, sale, or disposal of intoxicants or opium in New Guinea.
The effect will be to repeal all those ordinances in which there is any provision dealing with liquor, although they contain a number of absolutely essential provisions in regard to arms, ammunition^ and all that, kind of thing.
– The clause is as good as a bit of comic opera.
– It is. A man is to be allowed to have a bottle of liquor on the order of a medical practitioner. A friend is suddenly taken ill in his house, and cannot be given a glass of grog to put him right without the authority of the Lieu* tenant-Governor or a medical practitioner. That is the sort qf clause which some of my honorable friends think is worthy of a place in the Constitution of the Territory, and worthy of the assent of -the Commonwealth Parliament. .
– Which came from the other Chamber, where it was passed by a large majority, and which, therefore, ought not to be ridiculed. All- that is necessary is to amend it.
– It shows the earnestness - and sincerity of our teetotal friends.
– No one has found this out but the honorable and learned senator.
– It seems to me that “ he who runs may read.” At any rate, the object of the Bill is to keep liquor, not from the natives, but from the whites, and I shall vote for the amendment of Senator Pearce. I shall oppose this prohibition, whether there is anything substituted for it or not, because I think it would be a blemish on the Bill. The least we can do is to intrust legislation on these matters to the legislative body we are creating. Anything will be better than prohibition. I would ask Senator Pearce to consider whether it is desirable to introduce this system of local option. It would be exceedingly difficult to carry it out in a country with a scattered population. In the next place, we shall have practically local option to a certain extent, under this system of government, because we shall have it subject to the legislation of the Legislative Council. Then again, the legislation passed will be entirely under the control of the Commonwealth, so far as if concerns the exercise of the power of veto. It is not as though the Commonwealth was giving up its control over the Possession. In the next place, it would be very much better to leave the law as it stands for the present. It is a stringent law. Do not let us try to tinker with it. It is a complicated matter to arrange for a local option poll in a country li’:e New Guinea. The whole machinery will require careful manipulation. I am not prepared to leave the arrangements for such a poll to be governed by regulations made by the Lieutenant-Governor, when they ought to be under an ordinance, or embodied in some form of direct legislation.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator think that it would be done by ordinance if we left it to the Legislative Council?
– I ask my honorable friend to consider whether it would not be better at present to leave the stringent law now existing on the Statutebook, securing as I hope we shall do, a more efficient administration than there has been in the past. If that course be taken, everything that we desire will be secured. I thoroughly agree that legislation of this character would simply encourage illegal action and smuggling. Nothing could be stronger than the testimony of the resident magistrate, Mr. Campbell, on that subject. We cannot lay too much stress upon what he says. He deals with the question of revenue. That is a comparatively small matter. But he also says that - a law. totally prohibiting the importation of alcoholic liquor into the Possession would defeat the very object for which such law was made. . . . Liquor would be smuggled into the Possession or manufactured in an illicit manner, and the authorities would be utterly powerless to cope with the evil. The very nature of the country, its large population of natives as against its small number of whites, the innumerable small and hidden bays, rivers, and creeks, the deep and isolated ravines and gullies, would be all in favour of the offender as against the authorities.
It must also be remembered that the police are natives, and that they would be set to cope with this difficult question of liquor smuggling. Undoubtedly, attempts would be made to bribe them, or to drug them by administering liquor, and the difficulties in this direction would perhaps be too great to be overcome.
The dishonest European, so as to prevent discovery himself, would employ natives to run his boats, or employ them and their canoes to carry his cargo or contraband. He could obtain hundreds of natives as runners over the German and British boundary line on the one side, and the Dutch and British boundary on the other, over which- it would be impossible for a small army of officials to keep an efficient watch. He would probably teach the native to distil liquor in the ravines and gullies, and bring it to him at convenient times.
I do not believe that any one of us would hesitate to say that that is a true statement of the possibilities. So long as we have stringent laws preventing the natives from being brought under the evil influences of liquor, we may rest content, and may well abstain from inserting such a provision in the Constitution of the Possession.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I shall occupy a’ very few minutes in expressing my views upon this question. I intend to oppose the clause first of all, because it is hopelessly ill-drawn. The draftsmanship is execrable, and there are about one hundred holes through which to creep. One of the first criticisms I would offer is that as the clause stands at present, practically any person professing himself to.be a medical man, whether he was a quack or a duly qualified practitioner, could enter into an unholy alliance with a man who knew how to distill, or to smuggle liquor into New Guinea, and could sell as much of it as he liked. Excellent, opportunities for partnerships of. that kind would be offered by the clause. A medical man could import a hundred hogsheads of whisky per day, and sell it to whoever chose to purchase it. The clause would enable that to be done. My own opinion with regard to the liquor question in British New Guinea is this : First of all, there can be no penalty too great to enforce against any one who would
Supply natives with liquor. I am against allowing them to have it under any circumstances. There can be no legislation too drastic for me in that respect. I intend to vote to enable the white residents to decide for themselves whether they will allow drink in the Possession. If the white inhabitants do not desire to exclude liquor, I am not going to try to prevent them from having it. If, however, a local option poll is taken, and it is decided by the white people that liquor shall be . introduced, I would then go further and place the traffic entirely under State control.
– Where is the logic of agreeing to local option if prohibition cannot be enforced?
– I am in favour of prohibition if a majority of the white inhabitants say that they prefer that the importation of drink shall be prohibited.
– We can enforce prohibition, if the white inhabitants are favourable to it, but not otherwise.
– Precisely ; if the white people in British New Guinea are favorable to prohibition, there is no doubt that we can enforce it. In the first place, I intend to vote to reject this clause; secondly, to give local option to the white people of British New Guinea ;. thirdly, if the white people decide to have liquor, I shall vote to hand the traffic over to State control; and, fourthly, I will add, there can be no clause in this Bill too stringent, in my opinion, to prevent any liquor being supplied to the natives.
– We have a stringent provision already.
– But the law in that respect cannot be too stringent, and if any honorable senator proposes an amendment to make the penalty greater, I shall vote with him.
– Even if the 500,000 natives do not favour prohibition ?
– Yes, I shall do my best to prevent them from having a drop. The statement has been made that every missionary in British New Guinea, with the exception of one, is against prohibition.
– They do not say they are against it, but that it is impracticable.
– That is enough for me. I am not a man who wants to see impracticable things made law. I am quite satisfied if prohibition is impracticable to vote against it. And the missionaries agree that it is impracticable. . I also have several excellent examples to follow. One is Mr. Deakin. I mention him, not because he is Mr. Deakin, but because I find at the top of a circular sent to me by the temperance people, that he is the vice-president of the Temperance Association. I have been perusing Hansard, and I find that Mr. Deakin is strongly against this prohibition clause. I also have to recognise the fact that the honorable senator who has moved an amendment, with the object of destroying the prohibition clause, is himself as earnest a teetotaller as I have ever known. I hope he will not object to my introducing his personal affairs into this debate, but we all know that although Senator Pearce is a teetotaller, he earnestly and honestly objects to this prohibition clause. I also have to recognise the strange fact that those who are so keenly favorable to prohibition in British New Guinea are not by any means the sort of people who would endeavour to bring about prohibition in any shape or form by means of legislation in Australia. So that I am in very good company in being with a teetotaller who objects to prohibition for British New Guinea, and against people who are not teetotallers, but who support it.
– I have some knowledge of those who have spent many years in the Pacific Islands, who have had large experience, and who are likely to know a great deal as to the conditions which prevail not only in British New Guinea, but in the Pacific. I, therefore, feel that I may very well address a few words to the Committee upon this subject. I may add that the firm in which I am interested not only has a large connexion with British New Guinea and the Islands, but is increasing its trade very rapidly. If I felt that any vote of mine would materially injure the inhabitants and the traders, I should be the last to give it. But there appears to be some misunderstanding upon the question. First of all, British New Guinea is not malarial.
– Oh ! isn’t it ?
– There is malaria in New Guinea, but it is accidental. I do not think there is more malaria there than there was in Australia when it was discovered. There are swamps, valleys, and other places on the sea-shore where malaria exists, but the fever in New Guinea is not severe. In fact, many of the residents have told me that they would sooner have the fever than the influenza which we get.
– Black-water fever is very bad.
– Perhaps I may be somewhat biased in regard to the question at issue. Although not a teetotaller in the strict sense of the term, I have been able to do without spirituous liquors for over fifty years, and I do not think that my health has depreciated on that account. I have, however, had a large experience of those who do take liquor, and I am convinced that in New Guinea more people have suffered from drink than have been cured by its use. I congratulate the Government on their courage in taking over the administration of New Guinea, and I hope that in the future further opportunities will be taken to establish vested interests in other islands of the Pacific. We have a population in our new Possession of 400,000 coloured people, whose forefathers have for centuries lived in healthy conditions without the use of alcohol. Whilst I have, if anything, a greater admiration for the Attorney-General now than I had before I knew him personally, I must say that in connexion with this clause he has treated the Chamber with scant courtesy. At the eleventh hour he pulls this clause to pieces, and endeavours to show that it is inapplicable to New Guinea. The honorable and learned gentleman knew that the clause was passed by a majority of thirteen in another place, and yet he listened to all the speeches in this Chamber without placing us in possession of the facts. He should remember that business men are not lawyers, and that the two classes may come to diametrically opposite conclusions as to the interpretation to be given to any particular provision. I had hoped that the Commonwealth, in its initiation of a colonizing policy, would have made humanitarianism the first object - that the welfare of the black people would have been the first consideration. Not a single honorable senator has shown one reason why there should not be prohibition. It is suggested that the white people in New Guinea should be allowed to continue a habit which affords them pleasure, and with which I do not find fault so far as it affects them selves; but, if there be prohibition in the case of the blacks, the latter can scarcely help regarding the white people as humbugs, and any drunkenness they see they will regard as indecent. Those who have read Fenimore Cooper’s novels will remember how the old chiefs, with tears in their eyes, implored the white men to keep the liquor away from the Indians. If the figures we have heard quoted are true, the 400 white men in British New Guinea must be the most drunken set of men on the face of the earth. They absolutely consume thirty gallons per head in the course of a year ; indeed, they might have a bath every morning in the quantity of liquor which is imported. While we may not obtain prohibition, I hope we shall do so at some future time.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … . … … 9
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to say a few words with regard to the action of the German authorities in the Marshall Islands. When the British ship Ysabel. first called at the Marshall Islands, a fee of £225 was demanded for the first month, and another fee of £7 10s. per day after the expiration of that period, or at the rate of £2,727 per year. On a second visit, a similar fee was levied. When the Ysabel returned to Jaluit last month, the representative of the shipping company was informed that the fees had been doubled, and now an export duty of 30s. per ton has been imposed. Those facts are admitted by the’ representative of Germany in Australia. Those fees are in direct contravention of the treaty obligations entered into between the Governments of Great Britain and Germany. Extracts from the Treaty will show that the German authorities have no right to make any difference between British ships and their own ships trading to Marshall Islands. The following agreement ‘between Great Britain and Germany was entered into on the 10th April, 1886: -
Declaration relating to the reciprocal freedom of trade and commerce in the German and British possessions and protectorates in the Western Pacific : -
The Government df His Imperial Majesty, the German Emperor, and the Government of Her Majesty the “Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, having resolved to guarantee to each other, so soon as the German and British spheres of influence in the Western Pacific have been demarcated, reciprocal freedom of trade and commerce in- their possessions and protectorates within the limits specified in the present declaration, the undersigned, Count Herbert Bismarck, His Imperial Majesty’s Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Sir Edward ‘Baldwin Malet, Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, having been duly empowered to that effect, have agreed on behalf of their respective Governments to make the following declaration : -
– Is not the honorable senator debating the question dealt with in the following order of the day appearing on the paper: -
Australian Trade with German Pacific Islands. - Adjourned debate on the question - “ That, in the opinion of the Senate, the Government should take all steps possible to counteract the great injury that will result to Australian trade if the evident intention of the German Government to establish a monopoly for German traders in their Pacific Islands is carried into effect.”
If the honorable senator is debating that question he is not at liberty to do so.
– I submit that I am not doing so. That motion was framed on the supposition that Germany had the right to do what she is doing.
– It has seemed to me that the honorable senator is -discussing the same subject-matter.
– Since that motion was submitted documents have come into my possession which show that Germany has not the right to take the action referred to, and I am therefore now discussing a matter which is not dealt with in the order of the day.
-The. honorable senator must see that if, on a motion for the adjournment, it is competent for honorable senators to debate a matter which has previously been under discussion, and the debate on which has been adjourned, we might as well do away with our standing order altogether. If the honorable senator assures me that he is debating quite a different question, I must accept his assurance and allow him to continue, but it has seemed to me that he is debating the same matter.
– I contend that this is quite a different matter. I am dealing with the question of treaty obligations, whilst in the motion referred to I dealt with the question whether we should take certain action of a retaliatory nature, in order to counteract the action taken by German officials in regard to the Marshall Islands.
– I wish to raise a point of order. It is that the honorable senator is anticipating discussion on an order of the day which appears on the notice-paper. The subject-matter with which the honorable senator is now dealing refers to the Marshall Islands andi the action of the Jaluit Company in imposing certain restrictions upon Burns, Philp, and Co., which formed the basis of the order of the day to which I refer.
– I must confess that it appears to me that Senator Smith is discussing a motion which has already been partly discussed, and the debate on which has been adjourned. I cannot appreciate the distinction which the honorable senator draws.
– The matter dealt with in the “order .of the day is quite dissimilar from the matter which I desire to discuss.
– The question is whether the honorable senator is discussing the same subject-matter.
– I am now discussing - your suggested -ruling that I shall not be allowed to continue my remarks. The order of the day deals with the question whether we should. take certain retaliatory action in order to counteract the action taken by the German authorities, which is prohibitive of Australia shipping trade with the Marshall Islands. I am not now proposing to discuss that question. 1 merely desire to read a treaty which shows that the German authorities have in this matter done certain things illegally. The two subjects are quite dissimilar, and as the quotation which I wish to read is very short; I hope I shall he allowed to deal with it.
– If the honorable senator will confine himself to the reading of the treaty, I shall not interfere.
– The quotation I proposed to make proceeds -
The present declaration shall take effect from the date of its signature.
Declared and signed in duplicate at Berlin, this 10th day of April, 1886. (L.S.) Graf Bismarck. (L.S.) Edward B. Malet.
I should like to point out that the AngloGerman Convention, dated November, 1899, after reciting certain . islands, which are transferred from Germany to England, confirms the Agreement of 1886, in the following words : -
It is also understood that the stipulation of the declaration between the two Governments signed at Berlin on the loth April, 1886, respecting freedom of commerce in the Western Pacific, apply to the islands mentioned in the aforesaid Convention.
I do not know whether I shall be in order in asking the Government to take steps through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to see that the status quo ante is preserved, while’ this matter is being settled diplomatically, otherwise injury, will be done to Australian shipping, whilst the matter is the subject of diplomatic negotiation. I ask the Government to take steps to insure that Australian trading with these islands shall be allowed to continue . until the matter is. finally decided between the two Powers.
– I wish to say that it is somewhat unfortunate that Senator Smith should have raised this question at a time when there- is a proposal before this Parliament to grant a subsidy of£1 2,000 to Burns, Philp, and Company.
– The honorable senator cannot discuss the question of the payment of a subsidy to Burns, Philp, and Company. Senator Smith advisedly confined his remarks to the fact that . a certain treaty which he quoted had been made, and an assertion that its terms had been broken.
– I wish to point out that although no one can approve of the treatment meted out to Burns, Philp, and Company, by the Jaluit Company, the latter company has only been doing what Burns, Philp, and Company would do in similar circumstances.
– The only matter before the Senate is the treaty to which reference has been made by Senator Smith, and Senator Higgs must be aware that it has nothing to do with Burns, Philp, and Company, or any other company.
– The Jaluit Company will treat the vessels of other nations in the same way as they treat British vessels. GreatBritain has in this matter no right to demand more than the most favoured nation treatment, and I understand that the same treatment is meted out to all other nations alike by the Jaluit Company, which appears to have obtained control of the Marshall Islands. In their administration of the islands, they have tried to get at Burns, Philp, and Company.
– The honorable senator should not discuss that matter.
SenatorHIGGS. - I think that Senator Smith mentioned the treatment meted out to Burns, Philp, and Company.
– Only in reply to an interjection.
– The honorable senator quoted the licence-fees charged totheYsabel, and I wish to point out that Burns,, Philp, and Company do exactly the same kind of. thing when dealing with the smaller British traders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041207_senate_2_24/>.