2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and. read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether the Government will bring on as soon as possible the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, so that ample time may be available to honorable senators to discuss it, and vote upon it?
– The Bill is set down on the notice-paper for second reading. As soon as possible after the Appropriation Bill and the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill are disposed of, I hope to bring on the measure in question, and I trust that it will be dealt with.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, whether honorable senators are to be supplied with a copy of the papers which were laid upon the table in connexion with the proposed vote of£25,000 towards the erection of a memorial in honour of the late Queen?
– The papers, which are very short, have not been printed. But if my honorable friend desires to have a copy, I hope, through the courtesy of the officers of the Senate, to get one typed for him.
– I should like to have a copy.
– I shall endeavour to arrange for my honorable friend to have a copy.
– I think that the papers ought to be printed.
– In asking the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice-
I desire to explain that I do not expect the Attorney-General to be able to furnish an answer. If I had had more time at my disposal I might have given notice of a motion.
– I am very much obliged to my honorable friend or the explanation. I was going to suggest to him that it would be almost impossible for us to supply the information in answer to a question. If he will convert the question into a motion, I may be able to treat it as formal business.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the Sugar Bounty Act of 1905 expiring on 31st December, 1906, is it the intention of the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into and report on the sugar industry and as to the best means for insuring its continuance ; or failing appointment of such Royal Commission, will the Government instruct the Tariff Royal Commission to report very fully on the whole subject of the sugar industry ?
– The Government have the whole subject under their serious consideration, and hope in recess to determine the course they will take.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Walker) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the Table of the Senate showing -
The total area of land in British New Guinea that has been alienated by the Crown ?
The total purchase money received for the land so alienated?
The total area of land in British New Guinea that has been sold subject to conditions of improvement?
The average price per acre of land so conditionally alienated?
Under what conditions and price per acre can land be purchased in Dutch New Guinea, and what is the maximum area of land that any approved selector or person can purchase from the Crown?
Under what conditions and price per acre can land be purchased in German New Guinea, and what is the maximum area of land that any approved selector or person can purchase from the Crown?
What restrictions at present exist in British New Guinea on the sale or supply of alcoholic liquors to the aborigines of New Guinea?
Public Business : Sugar Industry : Case of Major Carroll : Naval Defence : Immigration Restriction Act : Insurance and Company Law : Public Service Re-classification : Premiers’ Conference : Survey of Western Australian Waters : Military School : Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill : Naval and Military Boards : Perth Post Office : Tariff Commission : Public Works.
Debate resumed from 8th December (vide page 8090), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– This is an exceedingly important Bill to grant supply to the end of the financial year, and if it is disposed of without full discussion the Government will be absolutely independent to the Parliament for six months, and can go into recess. They can drop all business if they choose, and the Senate will have no remedy.
– The honorable senator is not going to vote against the Bill.
– Of course, I am not.
– Would the honorable senator like the Parliament to sit in perpetuity ?
– It is our duty to continue to sit until the business of the people has been transacted. I have not the slightest desire to stop the granting of supply, but I desire the Senate to retain control of the public purse until certain measures to which it has devoted much time and attention have been placed on the statutebook. It is exceedingly important that we should have a full opportunity of discussing the Estimates of Expenditure; but it is more important that the Parliament should retain absolute control over public expenditure and the conduct of public events. It should not’ delegate its powers to any Ministry more than is absolutely necessary. The Appropriation Bill is generally withheld until the last moment, and then we are told that it is necessary that it should be passed straight away, in order that the session may be closed. In view of the fact that on various occasions during the session we have been called upon to wait for long periods upon the convenience of the members of the other House it is not too much to ask of them that they should give us a reasonable opportunity to discuss the Estimates. In its issue this morning the Melbourne Argus states that the Trade Marks Bill is to be dropped. The Free-trade organ, which is also to a large extent the organ of the Government, gives the case away when it says that the Trade Marks Bill is an exceedingly useful measure, to which no one would have any objection, which is necessary in the interests of the manufacturers, and which would be passed almost without discussion, but for the fact that it contains a provision in the interests of the trade unions of Australia. According to this sapient journal, the interests of the manufacturers as a whole are tobe sacrificed simply because wedesireto safeguard the interests of trade unions. Why should the interest of the manufacturers, who are in an exceedingly small minority as compared with the unionists, receive special attention while the interests of trade unionists are to be wholly ignored? It is only from such journals as the Argus that we can get an inkling of the intentions of the Government, and the reasons for them.
– The Prime Minister made that statementfive weeks ago.
– The Trade Marks Bill is acknowledged on all hands to be a very useful measure, and I fail to see why it should be dropped. I believe that if the
Senate were to give reasonable consideration to the Estimates honorable members in another place would find ample time in which to deal very effectively with that Bill. Again, the Senate has devoted considerable time and attention to the Fraudulent Marks Bill. There can be no measure more important than one to protect the public from fraud. This Bill would prevent goods of one. description from being palmed off on the public as goods of another description, yet we are told by the Government that it must be dropped on one pretext or another. It is urged that there is no time available for the consideration of the Bill, as it is the desire of almost every one to close the session. If we take a reasonable time to discuss the Estimates, as it is our duty to do, the members of another House would be afforded ample opportunity to deal with both the Trade Marks Bill arid the Fraudulent Marks Bill. It is not right that important legislation which has been passed in the Senate should be dropped, owing to the unwillingness of honorable members elsewhere to do their duty by the electors. On the firs’ reading of this Bill we are entitled to discuss almost any question. I wish to enter my protest against the session being closed prematurely. I -have no -greater desire than any other honorable senator to sit here all the year round, unless it is demanded in the interests of the people. I think that the public interests do demand that we should continue to sit until important business on the notice-paper in each House has been dealt with. There are several important questions before Parliament upon which the Senate has a right to express an opinion. There is, for instance, the question of preferential trade. An expression of opinion on that subject by another place will not be an expression of opinion by Parliament.
-Col. Neild. - There will be no expression of opinion by another place on the subject.
– It is desirable that there should be, though I do not presume to say what that opinion ought to be. If the matter is to be discussed in another place we also should be afforded an opportunity to debate it, because any expression from one House cannot, under our Constitution, be deemed to be an expression of opinion by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and therefore will not have the value, the importance, the force, and validity which would attach to it if it had the indorsement of both . Houses. Another point which I wish to make is that throughout the session the Senate has been ready to run away from its business and its duty.
– Order ! The honorable senator ought not to say that. He has no right to reflect on the Senate. He must withdraw the remark.
– I will withdraw that remark in deference to your ruling, sir; but I do say that honorable senators, as a whole, have not been disposed to sacrifice themselves or put themselves to any inconvenience in order to deal with the many important questions on the notice-paper. The Senate has adjourned on various occasions when important business demanded attention. Almost any reason that was put forward was deemed to be sufficient to induce the Senate to adjourn, and honorable senators who objected to these adjournment’s too frequently found that the interests of private business were sacrificed.
– Honorable senators who were responsible for private businesshave adjourned it time after time on their own motion.
– I have nothing to do with what individual senators may have done, but as one who had important private business on the notice-paper I have never adjourned it. I complain that, by the decision of the Senate I am deprived of an opportunity to deal with it. The Senate has no right to deprive me of that opportunity without sufficient cause ; and the only good cause would be that Government business demanded the whole attention of the Chamber. There would have been ample time to deal with all the Government business and all the private business if we had not been prepared to adjourn on every occasion when there was an opportunity for so doing.
-Col. Neild. - I rise to order. I think that, on reflection, it will be seen that the honorable member is discussing a motion that was debated and voted upon this week, namely, that for the remainder of the session Government business alone is to be considered, and that private business is to be deferred. My point is that the honorable .senator is discussing that question again, is arguing that the decision waswrong, and that we ought not to have given up to the Government the time allotted to private business.
– It is contrary to the Standing Orders, and to the practice of the Senate for any honorable senator to reflect upon a vote of the Senate or on any. decision unless he is moving that it be rescinded. I did not hear Senator Givens’ words, so I cannot say whether he said what is attributed to him or not; but certainly he ought not to reflect upon any decision of the Senate unless he moves to rescind it.
– I think, with all due respect to your ruling, and to Senator Neild, that I have not transgressed.
– I did not say that the honorable senator had done so.
– I have not reflected upon the decision of the Senate in any way. I have pointed out the effect of the decision, which is that I, and other honorable senators, have been deprived of the opportunity to deal with private business, which we consider to be important. If the Senate had been prepared to meet on the sitting days decided upon some time ago, it would not have been necessary torush business at this period. Even this week we did not avail ourselves of the opportunity to sit at the times we had formally decided upon. The result is that, at the close of the session, there seems to be a general consensus of opinion that we should rush everything through, holus bolus, without adequate discussion. I can see no necessity for so doing. If honorable senators wish to go home for the Christmas holidays, we can adjourn for a month, or for two months. We have adjourned on previous occasions for far less reason. If public business demand’s the attention of honorable senators, undoubtedly we ought to come back after the holidays.
– What is the use of protesting if the honorable senator will not back up his words by his vote?
– I will back them up by my vote.
– If there is a general desire, why should not the honorable senator bow to it?
– A general desire is not always right.
– This is democracy !
– While those who are in a minority might be prepared to bow to the general decision, it is incumbent upon them, if they think that that decision is not right, to point out in what respects it is wrong. There are one or two matters of general policy and administration to which I should like to call the attention of the Senate. The first question is a matter of very great importance indeed to the State which I represent. I refer to the policy which the Government intend to pursue in connexion with the sugar industry. That industry is in an unique position as compared with any other industry in the Commonwealth. Whilst other industries are being conducted under legislation which is, to a greater or lesser degree, permanent, the sugar industry is being conducted under legislation which is entirely tentative in character.
-Is there not a notice upon the paper dealing with that industry ?
– There is a notice of motion dealing with the sugar industry in a specific direction. I do not propose to discuss that aspect of the question.
– One of the rules of the Senate is that an honorable senator must not debate the same matter twice over. If Senator Givens is proceeding to debate notice of motion No. 2, he is anticipating debate on that motion.
– I do not propose to touch on that aspect of the question. The sugar industry in Queensland, I am pointing out, is being conducted under tentative legislation, which will expire within a limited period. That fact is a very serious bar to the progress of the industry. In fact, it acts as an entire prohibition to enterprise. Both the bonus on whitegrown sugar and the excise on sugar will cease in two years’ time; and as we have no declaration from the Government as to their intentions at the end of that period, all expansion and all efforts towards increasing the output in the industry have been entirely blocked. Honorable senators who understand the conditions of the sugar industry must be aware that it is scarcely possible for a person who invests capital in it to get any return for at least two years. Owing to the uncertainty as to what may be the law two years hence, enterprise is stayed. I do not think that that is in the interests of the Commonwealth. We have reasonable grounds for asking that the Government shall give us an indication as to their intentions. We wish to know whether they propose to continue the present legislation, or to ask Parliament to modify it, or to adopt some other course. As an illustration of what I say, I may mention that on the Johnston River, which is in Northern Queensland, a large number of land-owners were prepared to launch out in the industry by putting thousands of acres under cultivation, provided they had some assurance that the present conditions would obtain. The Queensland Government, in accordance with its policy for the erection of central mills, has promised those growers - has indeed pledged itself to them - to provide them with sufficient money to erect a central mill, costing, say, £40,000 or ,£50,000, if only the Commonwealth Government will assure them that the present conditions will obtain at the end of the time for which the legislation at present provides. In common with other honorable senators interested, I have been anxious to get an assurance from the Government as to the stability of the conditions, so that growers may be inspired with sufficient confidence to launch out in the industry. The land-owners to whom I refer are prepared to employ entirely white labour, and all they ask is to be allowed to conduct their business under present conditions. The silence of the Government, however, prevents those people from engaging in an enterprise which would have a great effect on the future prosperity of Queensland, and, indeed, on the future prosperity of the Commonwealth. It must be realized that the progress of Australia as a whole depends entirely on the vigour with which industries are carried on in the several States. Before the session closes - before we allow the control of the business to go out of our hands - we are entitled to ask, indeed, to demand, that the Government shall take Parliament and the country into their confidence. In all other industries the legislative conditions are practically permanent. At least two years must elapse before a grower can get a return from any new expansion of business, and:, under existing circumstances, those who are prepared at the present time to extend operations are not sure whether they will receive the reward of their exertions.’ It is absolutely unfair and unjust of the Government to adopt such an attitude. After a grower has cleared his land and planted the cane, he has, although he does not erect machinery, to wait two years before he can reap a crop. The present legislation expires in two years, and the growers have no assurance as to what conditions may then prevail. Men who engage in the industry to-day are taking a leap in the dark - a plunge into an unknown depth. Those are not conditions which should be imposed on the people of the Commonwealth. At present it is not known whether two years hence there will be either bonus or protection ; and it is not too much to require some assurance from the Government, who are practically asking us to sign a blank cheque, to use as they please. I should now liketo show how the present position of affairs affects growers who desire to erect machinery. Such men are willing to pledge their land, and everything they have with the State Government, in order to borrow sufficient money to erect mills. But the StateGovernment very prudently and properly say, “ We cannot afford to lend £40,000 or £50,000, unless we have some reasonable assurance that it will be repaid.”- Owing to the uncertainty which exists , as to Commonwealth legislation, the State Government are not prepared to advance money for this purpose without some assurance as to the intentions for the future. In the absence of any declaration from the Commonwealth Government, there will be prevented an expenditure of £50,000 on sugar mills»on the Johnston River, and, further, the planting and cultivation of many thousands of acres of fertile land will not be undertaken, with the result that many thousands of white people will be deprived of the opporunity to earn an honest living. In the interests of the State I represent, and of those engaged in the industry, I emphatically protest against our allowing the control of the finances of the Commonwealth to be taken out of our hands for the next six months, unless wehave some idea of the policy of the Government in regard to the sugar industry. I do not desire to trespass on the rules of the House, or on the patience of honorable senators, by referring to the notice of motion I have already given - that deals with an alternative scheme, which I do not desire to discuss now. Whether the scheme I have suggested, or some other scheme, is adopted, the vested interests bound up in the industry in Queensland, and, to a lesser extent, in New South Wales, should1 not be sacrificed owing to a fear of the Government that if ‘they declare their policy it may raise some little opposition ; and, to my mind, there can be no other reason. If the Government ask the people for a mandate to govern, the people are entitled to know the policy of the Government. The present uncertainty is causinga great deal of dissatisfaction from one . end to the other of Queensland, not tospeak of the loss in wealth production, caused by a disinclination, not only to launch out, but to maintain present activity in the industry. Whether the decision of the Government be adverse or favorable the people have the right to know what it is. Then I should like to refer to the kind of officers appointed under the Act, and to the manner in which the law is administered. Such a law, to insure success, require.s sympathetic administration, and the officers appointed should be men in whom we have the utmost confidence that they will prevent the law being evaded or discredited. In this connexion- 1 am not blaming the present Government particularly ; all the other’ Governments, including that of the Labour Party, have been equally guilty. The Government have not taken care that the officers appointed were in sympathy with the legislation, and could, therefore, be relied on for its proper administration. There are positions in connexion with such legislation which it is exceedingly important should be occupied by those in sympathy with its objects. Officers, who are called Cane Inspectors, are appointed for the season in order to see that no cane sent to the mills as white grown has been grown by coloured labour; that all the conditions are properly complied with, and that no evasion of the law or regulations takes place. At various times I, with other representatives of Queensland, recommended to the Government and heads of the Department that the officers should be in sympathy with the White Australia ideal, and with the Commonwealth legislation to that end. It is unreasonable to expect good results from officers who are not in sympathy with the legislation, but, as a matter of fact, are totally opposed to it. No man, in his private business, would allot to an employe duties, to the performance of which that employ^ was utterly opposed. I do not say that in every instance the men appointed were not the best for the position, but I have personal knowledge of the fact that in some cases they were not only not the best men for the positions to which they were appointed, but in many respects the very worst who could have been selected. The excuse put forward for these appointments by various Governments and heads of Departments is that they were not made by the Government, by the Public Service Commissioner, or by the Comptroller of Customs, but by the SubCollector of Customs at Brisbane, who was not interfered with in any way whatever. It has on several occasions been pointed out to the Government and to the Comptroller of Customs that the appointments to which I refer were not satisfactory, and that the men chosen were not the best for the position, yet no action has been taken, and men continue to be appointed to these positions who are totally opposed to the idea which is the foundation of our legislation. They are men who are not only passively, but actively, opposed to the White Australia legislation which has been passed by this Parliament. They are even the greatest enemies to that legislation that it is possible to find in the districts in which they live. How can we expect honest administration of that legislation when it is placed in the hands of men who are its bitterest opponents? It is curious to note that whereas almost the whole of the representatives of Queensland in the Federal Parliament have recommended men for these positions who were in every way suitable, so far as I know their recommendations have not been accepted: in a single instance. Yet the officers of the Department have had the unblushing effrontery to say that in one case they appointed a man on my recommendation. ‘riley have said that they would not appoint any man on the recommendation of a member of Parliament, and yet in this case they claim to have appointed this man on my recommendation.. As a matter of fact, they did not appoint him on my recommendation. I refer to the matter here in order that the methods pursued by the Department may be placed ‘ on record. One man appointed .to one of these positions - I shall not mention the name, because I have no desire to bring the man into undue prominence, or to do him injury in any way - was appointed over the heads of half-a-dozen first-class men, whose names were submitted to the Department by Mr. Bamford, the honorable member for Herbert, and by myself. We asked what it was that induced the Department to appoint men whom we knew to be totally opposed to the whole idea of our White Australia legislation ? Tot my intense surprise, I received a reply to the effect that the Department appointed a particular man on my recommendation. I demanded an explanation, and the officers of the Department had to climb down. They found, when they went into the matter, that instead of having recommended the man, I had given merely a certificate recording my impression with regard to his health, and that was given before I became a member of the Senate. The facts are these : This man came to me, and asked me to recommend him for the position. I absolutely refused tn do so. because I thought that he was unfit for this position, though he might be a first-class man for some other appointment. He pleaded with me, and begged that if I would not sign the general recommendation, I should sign the certificate with regard to his health. Honorable senators will find that persons desiring to enter the Commonwealth service are required to fill up a general statement with respect to their qualifications, character, health, and so on. I refused to sign the general recommendation for this man, but, in response to his pleading, I signed the statement with regard to his health.’ My recommendation as to his health could be of no great value, because I do not pretend to be a medicalman.
– What was his object in getting that recommendation from the honorable senator?
– I do not know.
– What was the honorable senator’s object in giving it?
– I do not think that I should have been justified in refusing to state my opinion in regard to his health. Let me inform the Senate of the use which was made of that health certificate, because that will give some indication of the man’s object in getting it from me. It was used by him, and subsequently by the Department, as though it were a general recommendation from me. It was only after the officers of the Department were forced to explain their position that they admitted that it was only a health certificate. They now admit that they made a mistake, and agree that I did not intend to give this man a general recommendation. The fact that I refused to sign any one of the paragraphs in the form of general statement, withthe exception of that dealing with the man’s health, should have been an indication to any intelligent official that I did not consider the man a fit and proper person for the position. The Department, after ignoring the strong representations made by Mr. Bamford and myself as to the best men for these positions, appointed a man in no way fitted for the position, and gave as an excuse the statement that he was recommended by me, when it was known that I had merely given him a certificate as to my impression of his health. Could anything have been more barefaced ? When this explanation was given to me, my indignation knew no bounds, because I saw that the certificate which I had signed was being used by the head of the Department to shelter himself. I must say that all Governments are equally guilty in this matter.
I have fault to find even with the Labour Government in this respect, because some of these appointments were made while the Labour Government was in office. What I complain of in this matter is that Governments allow the control of departmental business to get entirely out of their hands in order to save themselves trouble, and to escape responsibility. They allow these matters to be controlled by the heads of the Departments, but they are responsible for carrying out the express will of Parliament, and they cannot shelter themselves behind any departmental officer. It is their duty to see that the heads of Departments are in every way fitted to have charge of the matters intrusted to them, and if the head of any Department acts in a way which is inimical to the intentions of Parliament, the Government must be held responsible for informing that officer that he must do his duty, and that it is his duty to carry out the intention of the legislation passed by this Parliament. The appointment of the bitterest enemies of our White Australia legislation, to see that its regulations are carried out to secure the cultivation of sugar by white labour, is entirely inimical to the best results being obtained. I think there is reasonable ground for complaint in this matter, and I personally have reasonable ground for complaint, when the Department has sheltered itself behind the plea that one of these men was appointed on my recommendation.
– Is not the honorable senatormaking a great deal of that little incident?
– I am not making one whit too much of that little incident. The Department, as a matter of fact, ignored my strong recommendations in favour of men who were, in every way, qualified to carry out the law, and not my recommendations only, but those of Mr. Bamford and other representatives of Queensland. I do not blame the Department for passing over the recommendation of anymember of Parliament, provided that equally well qualified men are appointed to the positions. My object is to see that the men appointed to these positions are men whom the country can trust to see that the legislation of this Parliament is carried out in its entirety. We must appoint men who are in sympathy with our legislation, and notmen who are its bitterest opponents. I do not blame this Government more than any other. It has been a general mistake in administration, and I hope that as a result of my remarks to-day it will be rectified in the near future.
– I wish to bring an important matter under the notice of the Senate. The other day I asked the Attorney-General the following questions : -
I received the following reply : -
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.
That was not a very ingenuous reply, though it is possible that the AttorneyGeneral was not responsible for its wording. Perhaps it would have been better if I had asked the Minister of Defence, through him. I consider that the answer’ is an evasion, because, if the Minister of Defence had been acquainted with the evidence given by Major-General Hutton before the Select Committee on the case of Major Carroll, he would have known that the Major-General denied having instructed Colonel Hoad to write that letter.
– Where was the necessity for asking the question, then?
– This letter has an important bearing on the case of Major Carroll.
-The honorable senator has had the answer already.
– We had the answer from one side - that is, from Major-General Hutton. If Senator Drake will turn to page 38 of the report he will see the following evidence by Major-General Hutton : - 436. By Senator O’Keefe. - That report is dated 12th November, 1902? - Yes. 437. On the 27th May, 1903, a letter was sent to Major Carroll stating that you desired to know whether, in the event of his being placed on the unattached list, he would be willing to refund the gratuity which he had received. What have you to say regarding that matter ? - That communication was sent in reply to a letter from Major Carroll asking that he might be placed on the unattached list. 438. If an officer was so unfitted for his position, would it not be a strange proceeding to place him on the unattached list in consideration of his refunding a gratuity ? - The letter in question was not sent by me. The officers of the HeadQuarters Staff knew very well that it would be useless to lay such a communication before me until they had ascertained whether Major Carroll was willing to refund the gratuity. I repeat that the letter was not sent by me. It was forwarded without my knowledge, and to ascertain whether Major Carroll was prepared to hand back the gratuity which he had received.
The Major-General saw the hole he was in.
– Read the next question.
– 439. Then why does the letter read, “ I am desired by the General Officer Commanding,” &c. ? - That is the usual method adopted in the official correspondence at Head-Quarters. 440. You knew nothing at all about that communication ? - No. I had no intention of restoring Major Carroll to the unattached list, because that would have meant I contemplated his reemployment.
The question asked by Senator O’Keefe was a very pertinent one. Major-General Hutton was in a fix, and he took refuge in a most inaccurate statement. I have the best of reasons for believing that he did instruct Colonel Hoad to write the letter.
– Why did not the Select Committee examine Colonel Hoad on the point?
– Because he was . absent in Japan. The reason why I put that question to the Attorney-General was not to seek Major-General Hutton’s answer, because it was already available, but to get Colonel Hoad’s answer. I have given notice of a series of questions on the subject for Tuesday next. I hope the Minister of Defence will ask Colonel Hoad whether he wrote that letter under an instruction from Major-General Hutton, and also whether the latter knew of or saw the letter before it was sent to Major Carroll.
– Was not all the other evidence taken on oath?
– Then Colonel Hoad’s evidence ought to be taken on oath.
– I see every reason why Colonel Hoad should be called upon to make an affidavit. If he did write the letter, according to Major-General Hutton’s instruction, then the latter committed per- jury, and that fact ought to weigh very heavily with the Ministry when they are taking into consideration the resolution of the Senate in regard to Major Carroll. Owing to the late period of the session, it is not possible for me to defer the consideration of this matter. I have heard some honorable senators express a hope that the Parliament, will rise to-morrow night. I do not know whether there is very much hope of that being done, but I shall have very little opportunity of bringing this matter before the Senate again. I do not believe that Colonel Hoad would undertake to write such a letter without receiving an instruction from the General Officer Commanding. The whole military training and discipline of the Forces is contrary to such a proceeding. To say that this is the usual method adopted by officers in the Department when replying to a letter is to distort the practice. Perhaps in the case of a formal reply, an officer might write, “ I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter.” In this case, an important command was given by the General Officer Commanding to make inquiries of Major Carroll as to whether he was prepared to refund the gratuity, and if he had replied in the affirmative, I venture to think it would have devolved upon the General Officer Commanding to restore him to the Unattached List at once. Here was an invitation from the General Officer Commanding to Major Carroll.
– Is there not something more on that point in the evidence?
– There may be.
– I think it is stated somewhere that it was not to be implied that it was an actual promise to put him on the Unattached List if he was willing to hand back the £100. Clearly he could not have the gratuity and be on the Unattached List too.
– Major Carroll received £100 ; but he replied to this effect, that he would be willing to refund the gratuity if thev would restore his employment. The point is that MajorGeneral Hutton, who challenged the finding of the Select Committee, made a sworn statement that he did not give an instruction to an officer to write a certain letter. Colonel Hoad in his letter uses the words, “ I am desired.” If he wrote the letter without an instruction, he has no right to be continued in the service.
– Would the honorable senator make the punishment so severe?
– Does, not the honorable senator see the position it places the
Department in? The moment that Major Carroll agreed to refund the gratuity, he had a right to be restored to the Unattached List, and if he were restored to the Unattached List, that fact would go to prove that a long series of statements concerning him were inaccurate. I think I have said sufficient to show that the Ministry should not attempt to evade this question any longer, and should ask Colonel Hoad if he wrote the letter under an instruction. We have a right to be acquainted with his reply before the close of the session. I think he ought to be called upon to make an affidavit.
– Had Colonel Hoad any senior officer over him except the General Officer Commanding ? The phrase “ I am desired “ may refer to some other person than Major-General Hutton.
– As the letter states, Colonel Hoad was the Deputy AdjutantGeneral arid Chief Staff Officer. I do not think that there was any officer between Major-General Hutton and himself.
– The honorable senator does not think that the Minister might have desired Colonel Hoad to write the letter ?
– I do not think so. I hope that the Ministry will have this very important point concerning Major Carroll cleared up. I venture to think that it will largely influence them in determining when they will find a convenient date at which to favorably consider his case.
– There are several matters of great public importance .that the Ministry might with advantage consider during the recess. One is the Naval service. While J was one of those who voted for the increase of the sum paid to the British Government for Australian naval defence, I also expressed the opinion that we ought not to be content with that as the full extent of our effort towards the naval defence of Australia. I express the opinion - and I ask the Government to pay some attention to it during the recess - that it is desirable that something should be done to provide for the naval defence of Australia in case of war, and in the event of the taking away of the vessels towards which we at present contribute. Something should be clone in the direction of purchasing torpedo -or submarine vessels, or ships of a light character, the cost of which would not run into a heavy sum, while the ships would be able to dd a good deal to assist in the defence of
Australia if trouble arose, and the principal warships were removed to a distance. Then, I should like to say a few words with regard to the Immigration Restriction Act, and the Postal Act as it affects coloured crews. I am very glad that since the present Ministry came into office, . they have seen their way, within the limits of existing legislation, to lessen somewhat the extreme rigidity of the administration with regard to the admission into Australia of travellers and people from India and Japan engaged on business.
– Is not .the honorable senator now discussing his own notice of motion No. 4?
– I am afraid, sir, that you have caught me napping.
– These notices of motion are two-edged swords.
– I am afraid so. I shall have no opportunity- to move my motion, and I desired to make two or three remarks on ,the subject, but I will pass it by with the expression of the hope that the Government will be able during the recess to move a little bit further in the direction in which they have commenced. I also ask the Government to consider whether they cannot, with advantage to the public, when Parliament meets again, introduce measure’s with relation to insurance and company law. The laws of the various States require to be amalgamated. Discrepancies exist at present. It is difficult, for instance, for the head office of a company established in one State to be removed to another State. In that direction there is need for legislation. There is also need for legislation in regard to insurance. At present Australian companies are under a good deal of disability in competition with outside companies. Outside companies are able to establish agencies in Australia by the mere grant of a power of attorney to a representative or agent. Under such a power of attorney business is conducted. Several cases have occurred recently, in which, after a cover for risk has been given, and after a loss has taken place, payment has been refused on the ground that the risk was one which was excluded by the terms of the power of attorney held by the agent. I know of one case in particular in which that has taken place in regard to a risk of .-£2. 000, which, it was said was excluded by the terms of the power of attorney held -bv the agent. That repudiation has been held to be good, and I under stand that the company - which, I am sorry to say, is British - defies anybody to make public comment upon the facts by threats of actions for libel. There is another matter in connexion with insurance which ought 10 be considered. That is the position of foreign insurance concerns, and the way in which business has been pushed in connexion with what are known as assessment companies, principally Canadian ; the position of insurance business in this direction is in need of legislative treatment ; and there is also need for the amalgamation of the States laws in regard to insurance in the Commonwealth. Only two or three months ago a Queensland Judge spoke in very severe terms of the action of a company established in another State - I believe in New South Wales. - in repudiating some liability under a life policy, on the ground that their Queensland agent had gone beyond his instructions. Here, again, is an opportunity for some useful Commonwealth legislation. I trust that when Parliament resumes next year, we shall have before us some measures such as these, which perhaps may not be gaudy in appearance, but will yet serve a very useful purpose.
– I trust that the Government do not intend to try .to force the Appropriation Bill through to-day. The lint reading only should be taken, and then we should have time to look through the schedule. We have seen the schedule only to-day.
– Honorable senators have had .the Estimates for some time; and the schedule is based upon the Estimates.
– We have not had’ time to go into the items. The Government might very well postpone the Committee stage until next week to give us an opportunity to look through the schedule. The first question to which I wish to direct attention is .that referred to by Senator Pulsford. That is the decision of the- Government to weaken the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. I take quite the opposite view, and think that the Government are making a great mistake. It is proposed, under certificates, to allow Indian merchants and others to come into Australia, and remain for varying periods. I say that, whether the Asiatic is a merchant or a labourer, does not affect the question from my point of view. I object to him, not merely because he is a working man, or an employer, but because he comes of a race whose contact with the white race results in the deterioration of the latter.
– Will ithurt a white man to look at an Asiatic?
– The contactof Asiatic races with white races is inimical to the whites. If they are allowed to remain in the Commonwealth for twelve months, it will be a direct breach of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– The honorable senator will recollect that I stopped Senator Pulsford when he was referring to that subject.
– I understood you to stop him from discussing the question of coloured crews on mail steamers.
– No; what I stopped him from discussing was the question embodied in a motion which stands upon the paper to the effect that in the opinion of the Senate it is desirable to make an alteration in the Immigration Restriction Act, so as to make it less offensive to Asiatics.
– I am dealing with the administration of the existing law.
- Senator Pulsford gave way.
– He was discussing the advisableness of amending the law. I wish to deal with the administration of it without any regard to its amendment or repeal. I do not think that any honorable senator ought to be allowed to stop another from criticising the administration of the Government by putting a notice of motion on the business-paper.
– The standing, order says that an honorable senator cannot anticipate debate on a motion. This is rather a large question, because if honorable senators can discuss a notice of motion or an order of the day before it is called on, then Senator Neild can discuss the Parliamentary Evidence Bill or his charges against Major-General Hutton, and Senator Dawson can discuss the State of Ireland at this stage. If I permit the rule to be infringed, and allow notices of motion which are on the business-paper to be discussed on the Appropriation Bill, the whole of the questions which are on the paper might come under review at this time. I do not think that that would be a desirable state of affairs.
– Honorable senators ought not to be allowed to put notices of motion on the business-paper in order to prevent us from discussing questions of administration.
– If notices are put upon the paper, the presumption is that they will come on for discussion. I admit that the notices now on the paper have very little chance of being discussed during the present session, and that therefore the rule operates rather hardly. But still we have adopted Standing Orders, and I have to carry them out.
– A good deal of latitude is always allowed on the Appropriation Bill.
– Not to discuss matters which are on the notice-paper.
– I was not discussing Senator Pulsford’s motion.
– Perhaps the honorable senator may be right.
– I wish to discuss the administration of existing legislation by the Government. The spirit of that legislation is that it shall be administered in the direction of preventing Asiatics from coming to Australia. But the Government propose to administer it in such a way as not to stop Asiatics from coming here, providing they give an undertaking to leave Australia at a certain date.
– That applies to a very limited class.
– It was never contemplated by Parliament in passing the law that it was only to apply to workingclass Asiatics.
– It is a question of whether a man is going to stay here.
– Senator Drake refers “to a limited class.” What is that class? The merchant class.
– That is not the reason ; it is because they come and go.
– That is the effect; we have not to deal with reasons. A large class of merchants, traders, and students are to be exempt, and I protest against the exemption as a negation of our legislation. I know it may be said that a proposal of the kind was initiated by the Watson Government, but, if that be so, that Government is equally culpable and mistaken as to the meaning of the legislation. I have asked for a precis of the correspondence on the subject, and, pending its receipt, we cannot speak with accuracy, but I urge the Senate to insist on the legislation being carried out in its entiretyand its true spirit.
– Do not make Australia more black than she is in the eyes of others.
– It is the honorable senator, and others with him, who, by misrepresenting this legislation, paint Australia more black - who, in their public utterances, give quite an erroneous idea as to the meaning of the legislation and the intentions of the Commonwealth. Another matter I should like to deal with is that of the reclassification scheme of the Public Service. We have appointed a Public Service Commissioner with high powers, and he has drafted a scheme which affects the finances of the Commonwealth. I ask honorable senators to remember that to this officer we have practically handed over the spending power, so far as the Public Service salaries are concerned.
– That is what I said was a mistake when we were passing the Bill.
– That is so. I voted with Senator Playford against the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner, and I do not regret my action. In looking through the scheme, I notice a pertinent and significant fact. In a large number of cases increases of salaries have been granted, and in nearly all, the salaries of the higherpaid officers are those affected. I am not prepared to say that those increases are not justified, because, in my opinion, capable men ought to receive good remuneration. It is significant, however, that the increases are in the higher branches of the service. Another alteration of importance is in reference to the district or tropical allowances previously given to officers stationed in the more remote parts of the Commonwealth. The Public Service Commissioner has deemed it his duty to interfere with those allowances in a very arbitrary manner - so arbitrary that in Western Australia there has been evoked a very strong protest from the public servants. The Western Australian public servants do not ask to be placed in any better position than that they occupied prior to the inauguration of the Commonwealth, but they point out that the conditions of living have not changed since then, and urge that the allowances form part of their accrued rights as States servants. The Public Service Commissioner has not increased their salaries, but he has severely cut down the allowances in the distant parts of Western Australia, and, I believe, of other States. The Government, who are responsible for the adoption of the report of the Public Service Commissioner, should have very good reason before they allow the recommendations to be carried out. Every consideration should be shown to such officers, in order that they may be encouraged to take up duties in those remote districts.
– No doubt a great injustice has been done to many Western Australian public servants in this matter of allowances, especially in tropical and distant parts.
– I have here a letter dated 30th August, 1904, conveying the opinions expressed at a joint meeting of the Public Service Associations of Western Australia. This letter takes the form of a memorial, which has been presented to the Public Service Commissioner, and it contains the following: -
Perth, 13th August, 1904.
The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner,
This meeting of Commonwealth officers of the State of Western Australia (held in Perth on 30th July last, adjourned to the 6th inst., and again to the 13th inst.), desires to express its steadfast loyalty to the Government and people of the Commonwealth, and to draw attention to the dissatisfaction which exists in all Departments of the Public Service with the classification, as it affects officers in this State. In doing so, we readily admit that any scheme that may be proposed is bound to be unacceptable to some, but a scheme which causes dissatisfaction to all classes and grades of officers must, we respectfully submit, have some serious defect in it.
We claim that the duties we are called upon to perform are just as onerous, the responsibilities as great, and the amount of labour per officer as large as in any other State of the Commonwealth, and that the classification for similar work and responsibility in the higher positions should be the same. For example - certain Customs officers of similar designation are placed in higher classes in the Eastern States than in Western Australia.
We feel, notwithstanding the fact that allowances are made to officers outside the more settled districts, that you, sir, have not fully realized the exceptional conditions obtaining in Western Australia in regard to the cost of living. We are astounded at the recent reduction in the goldfields and kindred allowances. We submit that not merely is living on the goldfields and in the remote parts, reckoning in the allowances, not as desirable is in the metropolitan area, but that living in the central districts is not nearly so cheap as in the Eastern States. We estimate that the actual cost of living and rent in the cheapest part of Western Australia is 25 per cent, higher than in the Eastern cities. We understand that you have been supplied with evidence in support of this, but we undertake to produce further evidence if considered necessary.
The cost of living at the various mining, tropical, and remote stations is excessive, and as it has been stated in your report that these conditions would constitute the basis of allowances, we ask that further consideration should be given to this matter, and that all Western Australian officers should be brought under the operation of Regulation No. 168, recognising that as the conditions became more equal the allowances should be correspondingly reduced. Many officers here would gladly exchange ^200 per annum for j£i6o per annum in the Eastern States. Any facilities in this way which could be thrown open would be eagerly seized.
The imposition of uniform remuneration presses hard on officers under ^160 per annum, especially mci -lea men, A good percentage of lettercarriers, sorters, linemen, and assistants are married with families, and their condition on salaries of ^120 and upwards is one of poverty and suffering. High rents drive them to live a long distance from their work j dear food compels them almost to abstain from meat and fruit ; long irregular Hours and excessive heat in the summer make the conditions of employment very hard ; while the small salaries expose the wives and children to privations and risks injurious to health, even to the sacrifice of life for want of proper care and skill in emergencies.
It is recognised by the General Division that the lines of promotion as indicated in your diagram are satisfactory, but they wish to urge that the pay is loo low, and the prospects of advancement top slow under it. The salaries of artisans are lower than those paid by the State under its industrial agreement. The whole of the Mail .Branch is placed in the General Division, and, considering the importance and volume of the work performed, we consider that the highest salary obtainable is altogether inadequate, and the salaries i 1 the lower positions correspondingly low. We are also of opinion tlv.it the supervise ry positions should be open to the officers of the General Division.
The public servants of Western Australia urge, in conclusion, that the matters referred to should be inquired into by the Commissioner. I take this opportunity to lay this memorial before Parliament, because I do not think we ought to give up our right to deal with the finances of the country to any one individual, no matter how astute or clever he may be. Another matter to which I desire to refer is the proposed ‘Conference of States Premiers and Treasurers. I do not regard that proposal with the admiration, nor give it the commendation which a great many people extend to it. It seems to me that a tendency is growing up, largely fostered by the press of Australia, to believe that if a man is a member of the Federal Parliament, it is clear proof that he is incapable of dealing with public affairs, but that, if he is a member of a State Parliament, especially if he is a State Treasurer, it is equally clear that he is a heaven-born financier.
– They all think that of themselves, at any rate.
– That idea is largely fostered by the Federal authorities. For instance, I find that a number of the subjects suggested for discussion at the proposed Conference are subjects with which it is the duty of the Federal Parliament to deal - matters of legislation which were, by the Constitution, taken out of the hands of the States.
– There is no harm in those matters being talked over with the States representatives.
– There is harm, because it fosters the idea that the Federal Parliament is dependent in some way on those States Premiers and Treasurers. We know that those very men cover up their own delinquencies and short-comings, whenever public attention is directed to them, by hounding down Federation.
– Look at the way in which Gardiner, after the last Conference, abused Turner !
– He is only a type of all the officers. The Treasurer of South Australia, when face to face with a balancesheet which showed a deficit, commenced to abuse Federation, and to howl about the excessive cost of the Federal Government. Then we find the Premier of Victoria talking about what he would do with “ those Federal coves,” or “ those Federal chaps,” and using other language of not a very high intellectual order.
– Apparently “ the Federal chaps “ have not inspired confidence in the States.
– Let those men abuse Federation and the Federal Parliament as they like; but I object to give them prominence over members of this Legislature. I object, before action is taken on matters, in regard to which we are given powers to legislate, to go “ cap in hand “ to them and say, “ Do you think we can afford to pay old age pensions - will you permit us to use the money of Australia for that purpose ; and have you any objection to our establishing a Department of Agriculture?”
– We could not deal with old age pensions without consulting the States.
– We have absolute power to deal wit’h old age pensions.
– But how could we raise the money ?
– We have full powers of taxation.
– On land and houses, I suppose ?
– We have full power, and, of course, we could impose a land or income tax. I feel sure that Senator Fraser would welcome a further instalment of the income tax.
– It is understood that the Federal Parliament shall confine its powers of taxation to the Customs.
– That may be an understanding amongst certain gentlemen who do not desire direct taxation of any kind, but there is rib such understanding amongst the people, who, I hope, will take the first opportunity to see that some of those big financial institutions, with which the honorable senator is connected, pay their fair share of taxation - a share which at present they do not pay through the Customs House.
– That is, to see that those institutions pay a fair share along with every one else.
– Make the big institutions pay ! Never mind any one else !
SenatorPEARCE. - The big institutions ought to be called upon to pay their fair proportion, and, if they are, the New Zealand Loan Company will contribute substantially. In handing over a portion of the powers of this Parliament to the States’ Premiers and Treasurers, we are encouraging those gentlemen in their tirades against the Federal Legislature- we are encouraging the belief, already so sedulously fostered by the press of Australia, that only they can deal with questions involving financial considerations. I object to this or any other Federal Government consulting an unauthorized body on questions in regard to which this Parliament ought to be consulted. We must take the responsibility of financing such schemes as are suggested.
– But have we not encroached on the States domain?
SenatorPEARCE. - We have not, and could not do so.
– Did we not encroach when we placed railway servants under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– If we have encroached in that matter, the High Court will prevent any action being taken under the Bill. But they can encroach on our domain if by our action we hand over our powers to them. If the Government of the day, instead of consulting this Parliament, will consult the States Premiers and Treasurers, and be bound by their decisions, we shall be handing over our rights to them, and giving them the power to shape our legislation. I say that we should not consult the States Legislatures on subjects with which we have full power to deal. I wish to impress on the Government the necessity for proceeding as scon as possible with the survey of the north-west coast of Western Australia. I think we had a promise from the Attorney-General that the Government would place themselves in communication with the Admiralty on the subject. I understand that no reply has yet been received, but that a survey boat is now on the way out here, which could be made available. I, therefore, ask the Government to press upon the Admiralty the importance of getting this boat at an early date to conduct this survey. Our trade with the Far East is increasing, and at the termination of the war between Russia and Japan it is probable that itwill increase with great rapidity. This coast is practically unsurveyed, and as several wrecks have occurred, it is getting a bad name as being very dangerous, and high insurance risks are charged in consequence. I think that the Admiralty will need but very little pressure to send a boat to do this very necessary work. There is one other matter with which I desire to deal. I refer to the way in which this House is treated by the Government - I do not complain of the present Government in particular in this connexion. There is a very important subject which is now stirring the minds of people to some extent, that of Preferential Trade, and, as an indication of the way in which the Senate is treated, we find that whilst in another place an honorable gentleman has been given an opportunity to discuss the question, in the Senate no such opportunity is given. A motion on the subject has been given notice of here, but no promise has been made that an opportunity will be afforded to deal with the question. That is characteristic of the treatment meted out to the Senate on every occasion. We are unable to secure from the present, as we have been unable to secure from previous Governments, the same facilities for dealing with public questions as are given in another place. I contend that the Senate, as a legislative Chamber, can express the opinion of Australia on the important question to which I refer, as well as on other questions, and we should be given equal opportunities with another place for the discussion of matters of importance to the Commonwealth. I trust that the Government will endeavour to set a better example than has been previously set in this matter, and that on all these questions they will give, in this Chamber, equal opportunities to those given in another place for the discussion of questions of public importance.
– I wish to ask the Government to give due attention during the recess to two matters connected with the defence of the Commonwealth, which I consider to be of very great importance. I hope they will make all necessary inquiries as to the advisability of establishing a military school on similar lines to those established at Sandhurst, in England, at West Point in America, and in Japan. Every military authority emphatically indorses the view that these schools or universities for higher education in military subjects are of inestimable value to the military establishments of the various countries in which they are to be found. In England and in America, a practice has grown up of placing lads leaving school or college in these military institutions, with the object of fitting them for a military career, just as lads are apprenticed to any other profession or business. Families desiring that their sons shall follow a military career find in these schools the means of enabling them to acquire proficiency in their profession, and the result is found to be to greatly improve the morale of the MilitaryForces. I have no hesitation in saying that the establishment of these schools would be of great value to the military system of Australia. The second point to which I think attention should be directed is that every care should be taken to see that adequate provision is made for all repairs which may be necessary in connexion with the naval defence of the Commonwealth. I take, for example, a plant such as that at Mort’s Dock, in Sydney, and I suggest that there, or in similar works elsewhere, the Government should be assured that they will have at hand every appliance necessary for repairs required in connexion with our naval defence.
– The honorable senator suggests that those docks should be made available?
– I suggest that the Government should be assured that there are appliances in those docks which can be made available for all repairs required by the Naval Department. Considering that we are 13,000 miles away from Great Britain, and can never know from day to day what emergencies may arise, it would be absolute carelessness on the part of the Commonwealth Government if they did not assure themselves that adequate provision was at hand for the execution of naval repairs. In my opinion, the matters to which I have directed attention are essential for the defence of the Commonwealth.
– I wish first to touch upon the anxiety which honorable senators from Western Australia feel in connexion with the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. There has been a rumour - though whether it is well founded or not I cannot say - that as soon as the Appropriation Bill is passed, Parliament willbe prorogued, and we shall have no opportunity to discuss that Bill. Senator Smith has asked a question on the point this morning, and, so far as I could hear it, the Attorney-General’s answer did not convey any very definite assurance that this Bill would be taken up in the Senate this session. If the honorable senator can give us such an assurance, it will facilitate the passage of the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. At present we are debating the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, and on the second reading there will be an opportunity to say a good deal which perhaps might not be said if we were perfectly satisfied that before Parliament is prorogued we should have an opportunity to consider the Bill to which I have referred. On the matter of Defence, touched upon by Senator Gray, I must say that I cordially agree with all that that honorable senatorhas said on the subject. He has merely indorsed what Major-General Hutton has said year after year in his annual report. It is essential to the future safety of the Commonwealth that we should be provided with schools of instruction, arsenals - a matter on which Senator Gray did not touch- and with all necessary appliances for repairs. I do not intend to elaborate these matters, because Major-General Hutton has already done so, and presumably every honorable senator has read his report. A very large number of torpedoes have been ordered by the present Government, and rightly so I think. I am not aware that we have any provision for repairing these torpedoes in the Commonwealth if they get out of order. Honorable senators will agree that it is essential that some provision should be made for their repair locally. Nothing could be more easy than to provide appliances for the building of these torpedoes in the Commonwealth. They are not elaborate, and there would be no difficulty about building them if we had the necessary machinery, which, I understand, is not very costly. I strongly urge the Government during the recess to take into consideration whether it is not possible to make a start in the direction of an arsenal by providing the necessary machinery to build these torpedoes in the Commonwealth. I can see no reason why the money which would be expended as wages to artisans engaged in such a factory should not be spent in Australia rather than in England. We should have the most approved pattern of torpedo, and, I am informed by competent authorities, there would be no difficulty in building them here. Another matter on which I desire to touch very briefly is the very much debated defence scheme. In discussing the Defence Bill we were unable to touch upon the scheme on which it was based. Therefore nothing of a very definite nature has been said about the finance member of the Naval and Military Boards. I have before pointed out that Senator Dawson, in a special rider to the report .submitted by his departmental committee, states that in his opinion it is highly desirable that the permanent secretary of the Defence Department should be the finance member of both of these Boards. I wish again to emphasize my opinion - and I believe it is the opinion also of a great many members of the Senate - that that would be the most undesirable arrangement that could possibly be arrived at. I point out that the professional members of these Boards will retire every four years, and the political member, who. will be a member of the Government, will of course retire on the retirement of the Government of which he is a member. The result, if we are to have a permanent finance member, such as the permanent secretary of the Defence Department, will be that he will become the absolute master of the situation. He will live on there in control of each board, and its members will practically become his servants. He will be able to conduct the whole policy of a board ; he will have all its strings centred in his hands, and we shall be in the unfortunate position of having a civilian as a General Officer Commanding our Army and Navy instead of, as at present, a professional man. I do not wish to say any more on that subject. What I have said has been sufficiently definite, and the Attorney-General will gather from the applause with which my remarks have been received that a large number of honorable senators are fully in accord with them. In conclusion, I wish to touch, upon one purely local matter, and that is the General Post Office in Perth. I speak not in the interests of Western Australia solely, but in the interest of the whole Commonwealth, The building in which the postoffice is located forms part of the General Public Offices of the State. It is not in a separate building - it forms the centre of a large block of public offices, and the wings are in the possession of the State Government. The building is insufficient for the needs of the post-office. The arrangements, which were reported on at the instance of the State Government, when I was a member of the State Legislature, have been proved to be insufficient, and have been condemned. It is most essential that the Federal Government should take steps to secure a site on which to build a convenient post-office, suitable to the needs of the State for the next fifty years. There is no doubt that the population will go on increasing by leaps and bounds, as it has done during the last ten years, and that very shortly Perth will require, for the convenience of administration, quite as large a postoffice as that in Melbourne, Sydney, or Hobart. Such a post-office cannot possibly be provided on the site now available, and, therefore, I do impress upon the Government the urgent necessity, in the interests of the Commonwealth, of taking steps to secure a suitable site. This most important question is likely to be lost sight of, because there is a post-office in which the business is carried on under difficulties. I think that we ought to study the interests of those who will come after us. If the purchase of land were left to a later date probably a great deal more would have to be paid for it than at the present moment.
-! wish to protest against this unseemly method of dealing with the finances. It is a serious reflection on our system of govern.ment that one of the most important matters of national concern is brought in here during the last hours of the session, and that we are asked to deal with it without any examination of details. This Parliament has been sitting for a period of, I think, nine months. It has done very little useful work, as far as I can see. It has wasted a great deal of time on unimportant matters, and various Governments have assisted in that direction. At the very last moment the Government dumps down Estimates of expenditure amounting to between three millions and four millions, and covering the administration of the various Departments, and asks the Senate to- pass them at one sitting. I ask honorable senators to say whether we are entitled to the thanks of the community for looking after their affairs in this fashion, or whether we are not rather subjecting ourselves to the serious indictment of being grossly careless as to most important matters. On several occasions, I have been compelled to enter my protest against this method of dealing with financial matters. We are always told that finance is the most important of all considerations to a community. If that is true, and the Government have any sense of proportion, the time taken in dealing with financial matters ought to bear some adequate relation to their importance. But we find the very opposite to be the case. Here we are asked to pass the Estimates without any opportunity being afforded us of ascertaining and discussing whether the cost of our administration is extravagant or otherwise. I protest against this method of carrying on the business of the country. If we did our duty as senators responsible to the community for our actions here, and for their money, the discussion of the Estimates ought to occupy, at the very least, nine sittings. Instead of that, the Government has the assurance to send them up here at the last moment, and actually expects us to pass them without examination. It is all very well for the Government to take up that attitude. I have no doubt that every Government is actuated more or less by the desire that its Estimates shall be passed with a minimum of criticism. I am not particularly blaming this Government, but I do not think it praiseworthy. If it were doing its duty, it would give the Sen-“ ate every opportunity of examining the Estimates. We owe it to our constituents, as well as to ourselves, to insist that time shall be given us to look into the Estimates closely, and see whether some reduction in the cost of government cannot be effected, whether the serious burden of taxation cannot in some degree be lessened, and whether the efficiency of the various Departments cannot be increased. I desire to know whether honorable senators are prepared to insist upon doing their duty to their constituents, or whether they are not anxious to fall in with the views of the Government to get the Estimates hustled through as quickly as possible, and with as little examination as may be, or with no examination at all, and get into recess.
– Are not these really the Estimates of the late Watson Ministry ?
– That does not affect my position. Evidently the honorable senator is quite prepared to overlook any omissions or neglect on the part of the Government he supports, and he, therefore, concludes that every other senator takes up an exactly similar attitude. It does not matter two straws to me whether a Labour Government, or a Protectionist Government, or a Free- trade Government is in power.
– The honorable senator is “ agin “ the lot of them.
– I am not “ agin “ the lot of them. I shall support any Government if its legislation is in accordance with my views ; and I shall oppose any Government if its legislation is against my views. I take up a perfectly independent attitude so far as any Government is concerned. If a Labour Government were in power, and acted like this hybrid Government, this Government which is “neither fish, fowl, nor good red herring,” but a mixture of protectionists and free-traders–
– Like the Parliament.
– No. Although a great majority of the members of -this Parliament are protectionists, yet we have as Prime Minister a free-trader, or rather a revenue tariffist, who was defeated on every point when he appealed to the electors.
– Where was he defeated?
– The people of Australia would have none of the right honorable gentleman. They said “ Get thee behind us, Satan; we shall have nothing whatever to do with you.” Owing to parliamentary intrigue and parliamentary treachery we now find that the right honorable gentleman is at the head of affairs in Australia.
– Another case of the “survival of the fittest.”
– Mr. Reid was cheered like Lord Hopetoun at the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
– The people have found him out since then. In the future, the Senate should insist upon the Estimates being brought before us at such times as will enable them to be reasonably discussed. We do not get them until honorable senators are so weary of the session that they are actually panting to get away. It is our duty to examine the finances of the Commonwealth, in order to see whether economies can be effected and whether the efficiency of the Departments can be improved. The Attorney-General is anxious that this Bill shouldpass to-day.
– Not all of it, if honorable members wish to have a little longer time.
– I certainly wish to havemore time. I protest against this system of dealing with the finances. Then I object to the way in which the Bill is brought before us. When we have passed clause. 3 of the Bill we shall have voted £3,91 5,000. Then we go on to the schedule and, as far as I can see, it will be absolutely useless to suggest reductions. We are putting the cart before the horse. The Estimates ought to be examined before we pass the clauses.
– That is done in another place.
– Does the honorable senator think that this Senate is like an ordinary Legislative Council ? We have a certain responsibility in connexion with the expenditure of public money. In fact, our responsibility is greater than that of the House of Representatives, because we are elected by the States, whilst the members of another House are elected by small sections of States. That makes our individual responsibility greater. Whatever honorable senators think, my opinion is that we ought to deal with the Estimates in a decent fashion.I will reserve my further remarks until the schedule is before us.
– I wish to say a word or two before the Bill is read a first time. I see that a great discussion is going on as to whether the Chairman of the Tariff Commission shall have a casting vote. It appears to me to be little short of folly to think of giving the Chairman a casting vote. There are four free-traders on the one side and four protectionists on the other. If the Chairman has a casting vote it will go forth to the country that by a majority, the Commission has arrived at the opinion that a certain duty ought to be increased or decreased, when, as a matter of fact, the majority will have been obtained merely by one vote. A Royal Commission is appointed to ascertain the facts of the case. We do not want any nonsense like arriving at decisions by casting votes. I hope the Prime Minister will realize that it will be a perfect farce to give any member of the Commission two votes.
– What will happen if there is a dead-lock on the Commission ?
– I do not care whether there is a dead-lock or not. The Commission has to decide nothing. It has to make a report as to how the Tariff is affecting certain industries.
– But suppose there is a dead-lock as to precedure?
– I do not care two pence about that. I suppose that in matters of procedure - as to whether the Commission shall sit at 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock in the morning - the Chairman might be allowed to have a casting vote. I am looking after vital points.
– It will not make a bit of difference, because we shall be able to see how the votes were arrived at.
– As it will not make the slightest difference, I cannot see how any reasonable man can say that the Chairman ought to have a casting vote. I am told that Sir John Quick says that he will not be Chairman unless a casting vote is given to him.
– For machinery purposes, of course.
– Let him have a casting vote for such purposes, but not as to matters affecting the substance of the inquiry. Another point which I wish to make is that our expenditure on public works will become a scandal, as has been the case in some of the States, unless Parliament can exercise some control. In the little State from which I coma, we used to have a report from the Secretary of Roads and Bridges or the Government Architect, informing us what works were required, and what was the estimated cost. When postoffices are to be built we ought to know the number of people in each place to be served, so that we may form an opinion as to whether £1,500, or any other sum, is too much to spend. At present we have no information to guide us unless we have local knowledge. As we have a Public Works Department under the charge of a competent officer, the Inspector-General, it ought not to be difficult to give us a report on the public works which are to be undertaken. The Inspector-General should get a report from his officers in the States. We are aware that every township thinks it an advantage to have as many public buildings erected as it can induce a member of Parliament to ask for; and unless we can get some information, we shall certainly have scandals.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders besuspended to enable the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– I understand that the Attorney-General, in moving the second reading, asks leave to refer to matters not strictly relevant to the Bill. If that leave be given, I do not see how I can prevent other honorable senators from also referring to matters not strictly relevant. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that leave be given ?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In submitting this motion, I have to ask two indulgences from the Senate. One is that which you, sir, have already obtained for me, and which is merely to enable me to do what I should have done on the first reading, namely, make that courteous reference which is due from me to matters of grievance, and so forth, to which it is the privilege of honorable senators to call attention on the first reading of a Bill of this description. We know whatthat privilege means to us constitutionally. We know the care that was taken under the Standing Orders to place the Senate on a corresponding footing - indeed, I may almost say an equal footing - with the House of Representatives with regard to the privilege of ventilating grievances on going into Committee of Supply. It is a privilege to which the Senate is entitled under the Constitution, regulated by our Standing Orders, and one which none of us desire to see curtailed or diminished in any way. It was for that reason that, last night, the hour being very late, I readily agreed to the adjournment of the debate on the first reading, so that every honorable senator might have an opportunity to direct attention to general matters and to grievances - to use a familiar term - which he might wish to lay before the Government, or before this Chamber. But as it was desirable for the convenience of honorable senators that we should have the next stage of this Bill taken by means of a suspension of the Standing Orders, and as I had a wish, which I think was shared by all, not to unnecessarily inconvenience honorable senators by bringing them back immediately after the luncheon interval, I took the liberty to suggest to the President, who very readily acquiesced, that I might very briefly allude to some of those matters now. It is only to that extent that I shall deviate at all from the strict order in moving the second reading of the Bill. The other indulgence is asked because I am treading upon comparatively unfamiliar ground in explaining, however briefly, the financial position of the Commonwealth. In this matter I have two examples before me. One is the very excellent, and most recent example of my honorable friend, Senator Playford, who last year gave a short, most interesting, and lucid financial statement. I think I may say without flattery that that was just the statement we should expect from an honorable senator of such experience, not only as a parliamentarian, but as an ex-Prime Minister, an ex-Treasurer, and an ex-Agent-General representing South Australia in England. I do not hope myself to be able to emulate his effort. I have another example, that of my honorable friend, the present Justice O’Connor, who was brevity itself in the previous year when, in some three or four sentences, he moved the second reading of the Appropriation Bill . I hope to strike a happy mean between those two examples, and summarize the salient points- I do not think it necessary to go into elaborate details - which it may interest honorable senators to have under consideration. I say that particularly, because the more I can compress what I have to say, the sooner Senator Stewart will be able to reach the details of those Estimates which he is hungering and thirsting to devour.
– I thought it was not intended to go into Committee until next
– I think we should go into Committee to-day, if we , can.
– It would be better to do so next week.
– There are strong reasons urged by Senator Stewart why we should investigate those details as early as possible. The honorable senator made some remarks in regard to the Estimates coming up at this late period of the session ; but such observations I think we may regard as stereotyped. Year by year remarks of the same character are made, and very justly made; but, as Senator Stewart very frankly says, they do not apply to any particular Government, but to a state of things which is customary in parliamentary affairs, and which is due, not to the desires or proposed actions of any Government, but to the fact that under the Constitution the Appropriation Bill is first dealt with in another place. The other place having charge of the Appropriation Bill, after the Estimates have been gone through, is naturally, apt, in the exercise of its just rights, to keep the measure longer on its hands at some times than at others ; and, of course, until the other place parts with the Bill we cannot deal with it. But Senator Stewart contends that we should have ail opportunity to look into the Estimates minutely - to examine them with care. Of course, the minuteness of the examination depends on what there is to deal with, and it enables each of us to determine whether there is anything in the Estimates to require long debate. It does not follow that theEstimates, as Senator Stewart says, should have a rigid period, of three or four weeks allotted to their examination. We could not lay down such a rule, because there might be Estimates which any legislative assembly would put through in an hour ; and all that is necessary is opportunity for careful examination. I remind Senator Stewart of what was stated by way of - interjection, that these Estimates, together with the extremely full, carefullyprepared, and luminous Budget Papers, have been in the hands of honorable senators since 19th October. It cannot be said that each one of us has not had ample opportunity to scrutinize details in the most thorough manner, and to select such items as we think ought to be elaborately debated in this Chamber.
– The zeal for discussion has evaporated.
– That is not my fault ; I have plenty of zeal left, and so, I think, has Senator Stewart. I am quite sure that it would take a good deal more than the approaching close of the session to destroy Senator Stewart’s zeal. But the attractiveness of the serene atmosphere of recess is, I think, just as potent with him as with myself. Every one of us, after a year’s attention to public duty, feels that some kind of respite is necessary. Personally, I like a holiday, and I think the same feeling prevails amongst honorable senators generally; so that I hope we shall assist each other, while doing our public duty thoroughly, to secure a little vacation for ourselves. In this connexion Senator Pearce spoke of equal opportunity being given to this Chamber in regard to the discussion of public questions. I feel quite certain that the last Government, and also previous Governments, have been animated with a desire to give the fullest possible opportunity to this Chamber for the discussion of public questions. We all estimate differently the value of particular subjects, but I think that, consistently with the importance of those raised for debate, there is no desire on the part of the Government - I would include past, present, or any Government, of which honorable senators may form a portion in the future - to depreciate the position of this Senate, or to lessen in any degree the opportunity to discuss matters in which honorable senators take a deep interest. Senator Pearce also referred to the initiation of a discussion on the question of Preferential Trade. I need only remind the Senate that I promised, and I intend that the promise shall be carried out - though as I intimated it is impossible now to fix the hour or day - that the Senate should have the same opportunity in this connexion as has the other House. Senator Matheson made some remarks, and Senator Smith asked a question with regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. The former senator said that unless some assurance was given as to .this measure, there would be an opportunity presented to say a good deal more than might otherwise have been said on the Appropriation Bill. I do not know whether the honorable senator meant that as a very delicate hint that he is going to stonewall the Appropriation Bill. But if that is his meaning, it is not exactly the way to conciliate his fellow senators or the Government. I am sure it is not the way in which representatives of Western Australia would care to approach the Senate with a request that the measure referred to should be expedited. I think the honorable senator was unfortunate in the way he expressed himself, and he ought to have been satisfied with the answer I gave to Senator Smith, that it is my intention to move the second reading and proceed with that Bill. I ‘have said so all along; it is part of the policy of the Government. But the two Bills, one on defence, and the other giving a new Constitution to Papua, in connexion with which there are only one or two debatable matters still to be considered, are, if I may take leave to say so, of at least equal importance - and that has been recognised by Senator Matheson himself - with the other Bill which is looked upon as important, not only by the Government, but by the people of Western Australia My honorable friend has forgotten that the Defence Bill and the Papua Bill were the only two measures standing in front of the Kolgoorlie to Port Augusta RailwaySurvey Bill, and the honorable senator not only admitted the prior importance, certainly of the Defence Bill, but occupied a considerable - I shall not say an undue - time, in debating the second reading, and afterwards in Committee, in exhaustively discussing, from his point of view, the defence scheme and the measure proposed to give it effect. I must say that I anticipated an earlier disposal of the Defence Bill, and if that anticipation had been realized we should in all probability have reached the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill before this. The Estimates have yet to be dealt with, and I have promised honorable senators that the fullest possible opportunity will be afforded for their discussion. I should be breaking faith with the Senate, and violating the principles asserted by Senators Pearce and Stewart in regard to the rights of the Senate in respect of financial matters if I permitted anything to interfere with the fulfilment of my promise in that regard. The Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill shall be proceeded with as soon as we have disposed of the Appropriation Bill and the Papua Bill. Some matters of importance were referred to by Senator Gray, which, in accordance with (-he honorable senator’s request, will have the attention of the Government. ‘ Senator Pulsford alluded to the concession made by the mst Government, and also by the present’ Government,’ in connexion with the administration of the Alien Immigration Restriction Act. Thi® matter was also touched upon by Senator Pearce, though from a different stand-point. Whatever view we may take upon the main question, there can be no doubt that the public feeling of Australia is entirely at one as to the desirableness of the particular concession which has been made. Senator Higgs referred to my answer to a question put the other clay, and to a passage in the evidence submitted to the Select Committee that inquired into the case of Major Carroll bearing upon the matter. I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave my honorable friend. The honorable senator will see, even by the light of the passage which he quoted, that the Government would be taking up an awkward position in determining a matter such as was the subject of my honorable friend’s question, without communication with the person chiefly concerned. Even then, my honorable friend must see t’hat it would be a very difficult thing to sit in judgment as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of any particular statement such as that to which he has referred.
– It might be difficult, but I am afraid the honorable and learned senator will have to take the responsibility of deciding who is telling the truth in this matter.
– At any rate my honorable friend will not ask that that should be done without an opportunity to. hear all the parties. If, as I said in answer to his question, Senator Higgs desires that we should communicate with one of the parties who is not now in the Commonwealth we shall be most happy to do so.
– I am asking that the Minister of Defence shall communicate with Colonel Hoad. If, after hearing him, it should appear to be necessary to communicate with the late General Officer Commanding, consideration will, of course, be given to that.
– Apart from the quotation to which my honorable friend has referred, my present information is exactly the same as that which I had when I answered his question. Senator Givens referred to certain matters connected with the sugar industry. An important question of policy is involved, and, as I intimated to Senator Walker this morning, the matter has been and is under the serious consideration of the Government, and a determination will be arrived at during the recess. Senator Pulsford alluded to certain matters in connexion with insurance companies, local naval defence, and the consolidation of the insurance and company laws. I may tell my honorable friend that I have already had the last-mentioned matter under consideration. Of course, I can give no pledge until the Government has had an opportunity to consider a feasible pro- gramme for next session ; but I can assure the honorable senator that I have personally a very strong desire that there should be a Commonwealth companies law in order that these companies may be placed on an equal footing throughout :he Commonwealth. The laws affecting insurance are in the same category. Every consideration will be given, with a view to securing that uniformity which is so desirable. One important matter which I did not specially mention was Senator Gray’s suggestion in connexion with the establishment of military schools. Honorable senators will recollect that when I moved the second reading of the Defence Bill, I alluded to the subject, and pointed out that the question was one which could not receive immediate attention, because of the expense involved.
– It would be well spent money.
– I freely admit that, but it is a large question, the importance of which Senator Gray has not exaggerated in the slightest degree, and it will be considered in connexion with various other matters affecting the organization of the country for its own defence. Dealing with the Bill, my task is a good deal lightened by the fact that honorable senators have before them the Budget Papers prepared by the Treasurer, Sir George Turner. They are full of information, and it is not teo much for me to say that they are really illuminating, prepared, as they have been, with that care which Sir George Turner has always exercised in connexion with this particular Department. An examination of these Budget Papers will, in the light of the summary which I propose to give, enable honorable senators without much difficulty, to grasp the financial position of the Commonwealth. In dealing with matters of this kind, it is gratifying that, unlike some of the States at the present time, we have not to consider fresh taxation, but merely the revenue derived from existing Commonwealth taxation and from certain Departments of the Public Service, and the expenditure. .Revenue and Expenditure give us the two lines along which our investigation may proceed. The actual revenue last year was £11,631,056. That was in excess of the Treasurer’s estimate for the year to the extent of £64,881. The estimate of revenue for this year is £1:1,570,000 being £61,056 less than the actual revenue of last year. That is the anticipated falling off, if these figures alone be considered. But the deficiency must be increased by a sum of £50,000, which I shall explain in a moment, in respect of certain sugar duties collected in Victoria, and to be credited to this year’s revenue, and a sum of £34,000 actually received and paid into a trust fund last year, and not credited to revenue. The result is that the real falling off is the sum I have already mentioned, £61,056, plus these two sums, making a total actual falling off in the estimate for this year, as compared with the revenue actually received last year, of £145,056. The Treasurer described that £50,000 as a windfall to Victoria for this year. Let me explain how it arose. There was a dispute in Victoria between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the Government of the Commonwealth. There was also a similar dispute in Queensland which, parenthetically, I may say, may have the effect of aiding its revenue to the extent of £20,000. But the particular matter I am referring to applies to Victoria. The dispute was as to whether certain sugar made before Federation was liable to pay Federal Excise duty. The actual amount involved was only £11,000, but, with that care for the interests of the Commonwealth which the Department of Trade and Customs has always exercised, and I hope will continue to exercise, they insisted as a condition precedent to the dispute being investigated ‘and settled by a judicial tribunal - in fact the case is now under appeal to the Privy Council - that the total sum of £61,000 should be 1 deposited by the company, and the amount, I think, very prudently, was not brought into revenue, but was placed to a trust account pending further proceedings. Of that sum, £27,000 was paid in 1901-2 and 1902-3, and £34.000 was paid last year. By an arrangement made by the Treasurer with those acting on behalf of the company, £50,000 of the total sum is to be released and paid over to Victoria, leaving a balance of £11,000 - the amount required to meet any verdict which can possibly be given in favour of the company - in the trust fund. In any comparison, the £34,000 paid in last year, and not treated as revenue, has to be taken into account this year, and the £50,000. which is included in the Treasurer’s estimate this year, and which will be handed over as a windfall to Victoria, has to be taken into account in the way I have mentioned. That £50,000 has already been paid over to Victoria. That explanation will, I think, make it clear to honorable senators that, although the nominal difference between the’ estimate of revenue for this year and the actual receipts of last year is .£61,056, the real difference, if we take into consideration the other sums I have alluded to, is £145,056. Of course the great bulk of the revenue is made up, as honorable senators are aware, from that really prolific source of national income, Customs and Excise duties. The total collections from these sources last -year amounted to £9,105,758, or only ,£1,242 less then the Treasurer’s estimate. That is a very remarkable fact, but the Treasurer does not take all the credit for giving so near an estimate of Customs revenue as that represents, because he did not include the £34,000 collected on sugar in Victoria and paid into, the trust account. The estimate does not appear quite so close when we take that item into consideration. For the current year, the estimate of revenue is £8,980,000. That represents a decrease of £125,758 on last year’s revenue. In making that estimate the Treasurer - as I think I may appeal to honorable senators to say - is probably well within the mark. At all events, I feel sure that it will be conceded that in making an estimate of anticipated revenue it is not desirable to over-state. On the other hand, it is equally undesirable to under-state. Probably it is just as well, so long as there is some satisfactory basis, to take a fairly sanguine view, within limits, of the prosperity and consequent revenue of the country. I think we shall all agree that, happily, the prospects in Australia are excellent, and a good deal better than they were when the Treasurer delivered his Budget speech on the 18th October. I am not prepared as an expert to investigate that subject, or pronounce any particular opinion on it, but I think I may say that in my own State the expectations have become much j more sanguine within the last week or two than they were a month or six weeks ago. A time came when, owing to climatic conditions, the prospects of the crop in South Australia were extremely gloomy. All that has disappeared, and I am informed on excellent authority that while now the expectation is an eight-bushel harvest, at that particular time no one would have predicted, having regard to the existing conditions, more than a four-bushel harvest at the outside. Then we have our other staples to consider. In the wool market, prices have been excellent. Altogether we may look forward during the remainder of this year to a very fair condition of prosperity, and perhaps the existence of a spending power in the community which will act very favorably on the revenue. Another great source of both revenue and expenditure is the Postmaster-General’s Department. Last year, the estimated revenue was £2,450,000, and the actual revenue was £2,510,264, so that there was a surplus of £60,264 over the Treasurer’s estimate. That surplus neither depreciates from the credit due to my honorable colleague for his estimate, nor does it, when examined, show any abounding elasticity in the source of the revenue, because it is mainly accounted for by the inclusion of £41,514, being the arrears due to the Commonwealth for conducting the business of the States Savings Banks from the 1st March, 1901. It was not included in the estimate, and, therefore, it makes up a large part of the £60,264. The details will be found on page 3 of the Budget Papers. From the same source the Treasurer expects to ‘get this year about ,£45,000, representing the balance of the arrears, and also the current charges. The estimate of revenue for this year for the Department is ,£2,560,000, being an increase of £49,736 on last year’s revenue, and of £110,000 on last year’s estimate. The Postal revenue is steadily improving in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania. In Queensland, it is practically stationary. In South Australia and Western Australia there has been a considerable ‘fallingoff, in consequence of the Pacific Cable arrangement, and of alterations made in the agreement entered into with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company by the States before Federation. There are also to be considered, in that connexion, the reduced telegraph rates under the Post and Telegraph Act, and a decrease, so far as Victoria is concerned, owing to its penny -postage system. : I have mentioned that we have, on the other hand, the benefit of the s’avings banks payments. All I need say further in regard to the sources of revenue is that honorable senators will find on pages 2 and 3 particulars showing that the New South Wales estimate of revenue is £935,000, being £6,529 less than the receipts for 1903-4. The Victorian estimate is £660,000, an increase of £9,417. Honorable senators will take the Queensland figures in connexion with what I have said as to the sources of revenue. The estimated revenue for that State is £324,000, practically the same as last year. For South Australia the estimate is £273,000, being an increase of £14,529. For Western Australia the estimate is £258,000, an increase of £27,090. For Tasmania the estimate is , £110,000, being an increase of £5,238. The total increase shown in comparison with the revenue last year is £49,736. Two other sources of revenue which are comparatively small are, first, the Department of Defence–
– There is no real revenue from that source.
– But there is money which enters into receipts. There is a credit and debit account. The credit is infinitesimal - £3,896, arising from sales of various things which are enumerated. The estimated receipts in that Department are £11,200. Under the new Patents Act, the expenditure last year was in excess of receipts to the extent of £636. This year it is anticipated that there will be an excess of receipts over expenditure of £4,197. That summarizes all I need say in regard to revenue. With respect to expenditure, I think it is due to my honorable friends from Queensland that I should say a word or two with regard to the development of the sugar industry, pointing out the sugar production as compared with the consumption. It will not be necessary to go into many details under that head, because Senator Givens gave us an opportunity in connexion with a motion of his, which is still on the paper, to discuss it. It was very fully dealt with.
– I hope we shall have an opportunity to take a vote on the motion.
– I do not know whether my honorable friend really desires to take a vote upon it. It certainly is a very important question. Honorable senators will find some most interesting information on pages 6 and 7 of the Budget Papers. On page 6 details are given in parallel columns, as to the number of producers, the area under cultivation, the sugar produced, and the bounty paid. I only wish to say with respect to these figures that in considering the area under cultivation by white labour, I hope honorable senators will be good enough to remember that the figures may be a little misleading on account of the fact that it is not the actual area that is stated. Our figures are taken from the returns. In point of fact, they represent the area certified as probable to be brought under culti vation by white labour for the purpose of obtaining the bounty.
– That is not the whole explanation.
– It may not be; but I mention it in passing so that honorable senators, in referring to the matter, will not think that I am overlooking the point that these figures are obtained in that way, and are not actual statistics giving the exact acreage under white cultivation. The point to which I call attention is this - that, as our production overtakes our consumption, the revenue must diminish ; because, whilst on all sugar imported we receive £6 a ton import duty, we receive only £3 a ton on sugar produced in Australia. The question of the bounty does not enter into that calculation because all the sugar alluded to is produced in the Commonwealth. The result is that this year we shall have a loss of revenue on account of sugar to the extent of £100,000.
– It is a good thing for the Commonwealth that it is so.
– No one desires to depreciate the great advantage of local production. I merely point out that, in dealing with the subject, honorable senators must recollect that the revenue from this source is gradually fading away. On the other hand, we must remember that the amount paid in bounty is steadily increasing. So that there are two spigotholes in this cask - one allowing the revenue to escape, the other allowing the funds of the Commonwealth to escape. We expect that the Commonwealth will import 42,000 tons of sugar during the year. That will give a revenue of £252,000. We expect Australiangrown sugar to be brought into consumption to the extent of 145,000 tons. From that we shall receive excise to the extent of £435,000 making altogether a revenue of £687,000, or £100,000 less than last year. Honorable senators, of course, know how that arises. It is due to increasing production. There is another circumstance to which I must call attention, and that is that this year Queensland is expected to produce 31,000 tons of white-grown and 97,810 tons of black-grown sugar ; the result being that, while the quantity of sugar grown by white labour has increased from 24,406 tons to 31,190 tons, as compared with the precedingyear - an increase of 7.000 tons - the sugar grown by black labour has increased from 65,456 tons to 97,810 tons.
That is very nearly one-half more. Of course, that has been effected largely by the season’, to begin with, and it is not to be taken to establish any inference on that very debatable question of black labour. There is no doubt that, by comparison, the State which is deriving far and away the greatest benefit from the bonus is New South Wales, which has never produced sugar by. black labour to any extent. Only 2,000 tons out of a total production of 20,600 tons are produced by black labour in New South Wales. So that there is no doubt that this bounty is a perfect godsend to the sugargrowers of that State. That was inevitable, because there must be uniformity in the payment of the bounty. But it is a veryhandsome sum to put into the pockets of the New South Wales planters.
– The industry pays it.
– The taxpayers pay it. It is also the taxpayers who pay the excise on sugar.
– The taxpayers get their sugar cheaper now than before the bounty was introduced.
– That does not affect the question of paying the bounty. So far as regards expenditure, we are in the happy position of not having to pay interest on loans, and I may express the hope that for many years to come we shall continue to have no loans to float, and no expenditure to vote for interest. The actual expenditure last year was £4,252,562 which was under the estimate by £67,887. This brings me to a reference made by Senator Dobson to the re-voting of moneys voted in a previous year for works which are not carried out. The difference in the expenditure was due largely to the fact that a number of works were not carried out, and that an increased amount, owing to a circumstance to which I shall refer, was pr.id under the Naval Agreement. According to that agreement, we have to pay our contribution twelve months’ ill advance, which was done, the payment last year fulfilling our obligations in this respect up to the 1.1th November this year. But the Naval authorities desired that the payment should be made so as to accord with their financial year, which ends on the .31st March. The result is that the payment last year covered a period considerably in excess of that anticipated, extending from the 31st March to the nth November, and we are able to reduce the amount this year. Instead, therefore, of asking for the full amount of .£200,000 under the agreement, it is necesary to ask for only £148,000, which will enable us, not only to make the full payment required up to the 31 st March next, but also to pay £50,000, a quarterly- instalment due on the 1st April. In other words, we have this year to provide only for a payment from the 12th November to the 31st March, and thus we are enabled not only to carry out the Naval Agreement, but to meet the quarterly instalment which .1 have mentioned. In addition, the Treasurer has been able to effect a saving of about £1,000 a year in the exchange on the remittances of money to England, by arranging that payments shall be made to a representative of the Imperial authorities in Sydney. The estimated expenditure for the current year is £4,433,233, which represents an increase on the actual expenditure pf last year, of £180,671. Those figures may be found fully and clearly set out on page 17 of the Budget Papers; but it may assist honorable senators if I show how the amount is made up. Attributable to Defence expenditure is £77,800; Postal expenditure, £85,500, and “other “ expenditure £14,200, making a total of £177,500. One large item in the increased Defence expenditure is £20,400 for rifle clubs, and: that increase is due to the fact that the effective allowance has to be made for twelve months, instead of six months, and that there is also an increased grant for ammunition. The rifle clubs are estimated to cost £2 2s. 6d. per man, as against a considerable amount per head for militia; there is not exactly a saving, but a comparison shows that one branch costs less per head than does the other. Then there is an increase of £42,300 for the payment of the Forces. That is due to the fact that last year the ranks were not filled, the recruiting being kept back until last January, in an effort to effect savings in the interests of the States. I ought here to say that the Treasurer has always been desirous to effect savings, and ease the States in their financial operations. It- is this circumstance which explains the considerable re-voting referred to by Senator Dobson.
– The Treasurer has too much of a failing that way.
– Of course Senator Pearce is thinking of Western Australia; but still the States ask for economy, which has been specially necessary in the case of Queensland.
– Then, on the other hand, the States howl out about the Commonwealth not constructing necessary works.
– That is so; the fact of the matter is that the States want to “ eat their cake and have it.” As to the increase of £85,000 in the ‘ Post and Telegraph Department, honorable senators know that this is an expanding service; and expenditure is increasing, as one would expect, in a greater degree than is the revenue. More facilities are asked for in thinly populated places, and, of course, must be provided ; and the Railways Commissioners of the various States are demanding increased payments for mail services. The Victorian Railways Commissioners, for instance, used to transact telegraph business for 25 per cent, on the receipts for the telegrams transmitted through their agency ; but they now insist upon being paid 50 per cent. That, of itself, represents an increase of something like £3,000 per annum ; but I am informed that the heads of the Post and Telegraph Department do not consider the demand unfair. The increase of £ 1 4,000 in “ other “ expenditure is contributed to to the extent of £6,000 by the extended postal facilities between the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands. Then in the case of New Guinea there is an overdraft of £1,500 which has to be met, and, further, the expenditure is greater this year than last year on the High Court. Last year the High Court was in existence for only some seven or eight months, whereas this year a period of twelve months has to be provided for.
– What is the yearly expense of the High Court - £15,000?
– The total expense, including salaries, is £14,885 per annum, and the increase this year, compared with last year, is £4,500. There is one other item which I think I should explain, because it was the subject of a question asked by Senator Walker some time ago, as to the desirability of appointing a Commonwealth Statistician. For this purpose there is provided in the “ transferred “ expenditure a sum of £1,950. We all agree, I think, not only as to the desirability, but as to the necessity, of a Commonwealth Statistician, in order that we may have absolutely reliable statistics relating to the national affairs of the Commonwealth. I have now, I think dealt practically with all matters which call for comment. Additions, New Works, and Buildings represent an expenditure of £404,240; but the Senate has already had an opportunity to deal with that under the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill passed a week or two ago, and it is unnecessary to make any further reference to it. But, before concluding, there is one subject which cannot be referred to too often, with a view to dissipating a misapprehension very current, and very industriously made use of by, I was going to say, unthinking critics of Federal affairs. I refer to the alleged extravagance on the part of the Commonwealth. That charge has been answered over and over again, but it is well that the situation should be stated each year, so that it may be seen that the Commonwealth is careful in the interests of the States, and its own financial interests, to keep well within the limits of its financial resources as defined by the Constitution. Many people are not aware of the fact that the Commonwealth is limited to, and entitled to use. under the Braddon section, one-quarter of the net Customs and Excise revenue. That does not mean a quarter of the net Customs and Excise revenue of each State, but a quarter of the aggregate net Customs and Excise revenue of all the States. But that power has never been exercised to anything like the limit. During the four years since Federation was inaugurated, the Commonwealth has paid to the several States a great deal more than the three-fourths of the total revenue to which they are entitled under the Braddon section. The following figures show the amount which each State has been paid since 1st July, 1901, over and above the three-quarters: - New South Wales, £1,403,115; Victoria, £837,952; South Australia, £297,693 ; Western Australia, £794,402; Tasmania, £110,620; or a total during the four years of £3,379,583, all of which the Commonwealth might have spent had it so chosen. I do not say that the Commonwealth Government are entitled to any glory for acting as they have done in this connexion, but it ought to be made known that the Commonwealth is living well within its income, not only as a matter of honest national finance, but in the interests of the several States which have been fairly dealt with. The State which has been most unfortunate in this respect during these four years is the State of Queensland. But, after all, that State has not a great deal to complain of, as honorable senators will find if they take into consideration two or three figures which I propose, to mention. In 1901-2 Queensland was short of her proportion of her own revenue to the extent of £20,000. In 1903-4, in consequence of the Treasurer keeping back certain expenditure, as I have said, with a view to ease the position in the State, the encroachment upon her own revenue was only to the extent of some £2,000. In 1902-3 she received an excess of £15,000, so that if the three years are taken together it will be seen that Queensland has only been short to the extent of £7,500 of the three-fourths of her Customs revenue. In addition to that, in 1903-4 the expenditure in Queensland exceeded that of the previous year by only £3,452, so that really the loss was not owing to the expenditure not having been made, because the Treasurer was careful about that, but rather to the fact that for the time at least there was a reduced revenue. I have given honorable senators the figures for four years. This year the amount estimated to be returned to the States is £600,000 more than the Commonwealth is obliged to return under the strict terms of the Constitution, and which the Commonwealth might spend, but which we should not be justified in spending unless there was an object to which that expenditure might legitimately .be devoted. One consolation to be derived from that is that if elasticity in the prosperity of Australia continues, and the sources of revenue are buoyant, it leads us to hope that there will be ample provision, within the limits of the constitutional restriction, to enable us to do a good deal without even contemplating the possibility of having to borrow money.
– We could build the Western Australian railway in five or ten years.
– I am glad that my honorable friend has mentioned that, because I desire to say that no vote is provided for the expenditure involved, should the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill be passed. When that Bill is passed, as I hope it will be within a very few days, the money required for the survey will be authorized by that measure as a special appropriation. I think that I have said’ all . that it is necessary for me to say. I have endeavoured to compress into the briefest possible space a vast amount of material. I take the view which I think the Senate generally takes, and the view acted upon by Senator Playford last year, that the second reading of this Bill should not be treated as a mere off-hand, formal matter, and that it is obligatory upon those representing the Government in this Cham, ber to at least deal with the salient features of the financial statement, in order that the Budget Papers may be more easily understood, and the financial position more intelligently dealt with. I hope that, although the Treasurer anticipates a shortage in the Customs revenue for the current year, as compared with the revenue received last year, the actual results will be found to be of a different character. I trust that when we come to the end of the year, which will, I hope and believe, be one of prosperity, we shall find that the elasticity of the revenue has been more than is anticipated, that a shortage will not occur, and that from this year onwards we shall enjoy a measure of prosperity which will enable the Commonwealth to carry out all its high projects of national importance and national advantage without imposing undue burdens upon the people of this great country.
– I have a’ few remarks to offer, which it might be convenient to make at this stage. There is a proposal contained in the Appropriation Bill for the expenditure of a sum of £12,000, to which I take very serious exception. It is proposed to expend £12,000 on a subsidy for a proposed, increased service in the Pacific. Although this proposal has been before the Government since January, 1904, some eleven months, we have had the greatest difficulty in getting information as to its details. On many occasions the Government have been approached in the Senate and in another place by the medium of questions, to elicit information. The Prime Minister, for example, was asked whether he proposed to call for tenders, and he said -
No, because we think the present proposal the best possible.
The same reply was made by the AttorneyGeneral in the Senate on the 22nd November, in reply to a question put by myself. On the 18th November Mr. Bamford asked the Prime Minister -
Are the arrangements with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company likely to be completed at an early date? Is the service to commence on the 1st January next?
And the Prime Minister replied -
The Government have refrained from committing the Commonwealth to the proposed service until the money required for it has been voted by Parliament. The amount is included in the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs, so that the cost has not yet been finally agreed to, even by this House. Everything is ready for concluding the arrangements directly Parliament has voted the necessary money. I cannot say at what date the service will begin, because we shall have to come to an agreement with the company on that point after the money has been voted.
That reply goes to show that no agreement has yet been made with the company, and the details of the service do not appear to have been agreed upon. Although according to the Prime Minister everything is ready, it appears to be quite impossible to get from the Government a copy of the draft agreement with this company, which they propose to sign on behalf of the Commonwealth. I have various grounds of objection to the proposal. The first, and I think it is a very weighty objection, is that the proposal to pay Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company a subsidy of £12,000 is a breach of the Constitution.
– All that is asked for is £6,000.
– That £6,000 is additional. The honorable senator is aware that Burns, Philp, and Company will receive from the Commonwealth £12,000 a year if we agree to this appropriation.
– But they receive £6,000 under a former agreement, which must be carried out.
– The former agreement, as the honorable senator is no doubt aware, contains a clause to the effect that if at any time Parliament declines to pass the money the agreement shall be considered at an end. By sub-section111. of section 51 of the Constitution, it is provided that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, with respect to -
Bounties on the production or export of goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
I point out that this is not a proposal for a mail service, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has himself admitted. When this question was brought up in the Senate some two or three years ago, Senator Drake said that this subsidy could not be defended as a mail service.
– It is a mail service, like all our services.
– I shall quote the honorable and learned senator’s own words. He said -
As I said before, this cannot be justified as a postal service, because in the present undeveloped state of the islands there will be comparatively little postal business. But this service is subsidized for commercial purposes.
– Quite true; the same as the Vancouver service.
Senator HIGGS. If it is true that this is a subsidized service for purposes of commerce, it is a breach of the Constitution to give £12,000 to one firm and not to make the subsidy uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
– No other firm could do the work.
– Senator Gray must pardon me if I say that it is nonsense to suggest that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company are the only people in the Commonwealth who could carry out this service. A bonus for trade or commerce must under the Constitution be open to every individual in the Commonwealth. When we grant a bounty for the production of sugar, it is open to every individual, who cares to go on to sugar lands and grow sugar to secure that bounty. This is not a proposal to give every ship-owner, who is prepared to conduct a service to the New Hebrides a bounty for purposes of trade. It is a proposal to give a bounty to one firm only, and it is therefore a breach of the Constitution.
– The proposal ought to be carried out.
– I hope the honorable senator will let us hear from him on the subject later, and will tell the Senate to what extent Messrs. Lever Bros, are interested in this proposal.
– Not to the extent of a single, cent.
– They are getting their cocoanut oil brought over for them.
– They have fought Burns, Philp, and Company more than has any other firm.
– To call this a subsidy for the purpose of extending a mail service is but a subterfuge adopted to overcome the difficulty raised by the Constitution. The members of the present, as well as the members of previous, Governments know well that it cannot be defended unless by persuading the public that the subsidy is required for a mail service. To show that it is a travesty to describe this service as a mail service, the Government need only submit the return asked for as to the number of letters and postal articles carried to and from the New Hebrides by
Burns, Philp, and Company’s boats and by other British and foreign ships. If the Parliament will insist upon spending this money, it is right that tenders should be called for. So far as I am aware, tenders are invited for all our mail services, and all the details are set forth in the invitation. The Department always stipulates on what particular days the mails shall be carried, and at what particular places the contractors shall call. If the Ministry had to provide this money out of their own pockets, I venture to say that they would call for tenders for carrying the mails to and from the New Hebrides, and the Islands of the Pacific, at which they wish the steamers to call. No proposal of that kind is made. We have had a statement from the Prime Minister that the Government think it is the best possible service. I have here a letter from Messrs, J. Clunn and Sons, who have been running a boat to New Guinea from Cooktown for a considerable time without a subsidy.
– A boat?
– It is larger and more commodious than the boat which is run by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to the same place. Messrs. Clunn and Sons, through their agent, Mr. John R. Craig, addressed the following letter to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs: -
Adverting to my letter of even .date, by further telegraphic message, I am especially authorized by Messrs. J. Clunn and Sons, of Cooktown and Samarai, to act on their behalf in submitting to the Commonwealth Government the .following proposal with regard to the Papuan section 01 the proposed further extension of the Australian Pacific Shipping Service Subsidy.
Messrs. J. Clunn and Sons are prepared to run a monthly service between the ports of Cairns, Cooktown, Samarai, Woodlark Island, Samarai, Port Moresby, Cooktown, and Cairns, connecting with the present numerous Australian coastal shipping services at the ports of Cooktown and Cairns.
If specified in the contract that the crew shall consist of persons of European descent - white labour - only, tender hereby submitted for subsidy of nine hundred and fifty pounds (^950) per annum.
If specified in the contract that the crew may consist of a number of those of European descent - white labour - together with a portion of aboriginal Papuan natives - Papuan labour - tender hereby submitted for a subsidy of seven hundrid pounds (£700) per annum.
The vessel which would be employed by Messrs. J. Clunn and Sons in the proposed subsidized service, is their screw schooner Papuan, 160 tons register ; Union oil engine, 75 horsepower ; speed, nine (g) knots ; built at Sydney, New South Wales ; launched in April, 1903.
The screw schooner Papuan was specially constructed for the Papuan trade at a cost of j£5i3°0-‘ There ls a comfortable saloon, surrounded by six cabins, containing twenty-four (24) saloon berths, with special convenience for ladies. The steerage, in two divisions, contains twelve (12) berths, and there is a roomy poop for promenade, extending nearly half the length of the vessel.
The crew at present consists of six (6) Whites and ten (10) Papuans; the latter are aboriginal natives of the Territory of Papua, being neither Polynesians nor yet Asiatic Aliens.
Messrs. J. Clunn and Sons are agreeable to enter into a contract ‘with the ‘ Commonwealth Government, either annually or for a term of years, as may be desired by the Government, and to commence same on 1st January, 1905, or whenever deemed desirable.
Messrs. J. Clunn and Sons will be pleased to be permitted to peruse a copy of the Articles of Agreement of the proposed subsidized contract, or of any alternative scheme required in connexion with the Thursday Island, Daru, and Hall Sound route.
They will also be pleased to be permitted further conference with the Department upon the subject of the Papuan section generally of the proposed further extension of the Australian Pacific Subsidized Shipping Service.
Copies of excerpts from telegraphic messages from J. Clunn and Sons to J. R. Craig, authorizing him to act on their behalf, are annexed for your assurance.
I shall be pleased to supply at once any further information you may require. An early reply will oblige.
Not only are Clunn and Sons prepared to tender for the Papuan section of the proposed service, but Messrs. Kerr and Company, of Sydney, have protested against this subsidy being granted to a single firm, and asked the Department to allow tenders to be called for, se that they may have a chance ,to compete.
– Who are Kerr and Company ?
– They are a firm of Sydney ship-owners, who run a steamer to the New Hebrides. The reply which Messrs. Clunn and Sons received to their letter was that the subsidy had been allocated for one proposition only, namely that of Burns, Philp, and Company, that tenders would not be called for unless specially ordered by Parliament, and that Clunn’s proposal was merely received by the Department, but not as a tender, because tenders had not been called for. Burns, Philp, and Company, it appears, intend’ to rum the Parua, 106 tons, for the first six months, and then perhaps they will supply a new boat, or perhaps put on the Ysabel and, if necessity arises, include Cooktown as an alternative terminal point. The proposal that .tenders should be called, ought to specially appeal to free-trade members of the Senate, if it is insisted that we shall pay this increased subsidy for such a travesty as the proposed mail service.
– They are only freetraders when it suits their own particular ends.
– The protectionists in the Senate will be sufficiently logical to make the bounty apply to all persons who deem themselves competent to enter into the service. But the free-traders are abandoning their principle of free and unrestricted competition, because they do not propose to allow any one to tender for this service, which will cost £12,000, but wish to confine it to one firm which appears to have an extraordinary amount of support in various parts of the Commonwealth.
– It seems to receive an extraordinary amount of opposition from some quarters. That is the remarkable feature.
– No opposition would be offered if they were not receiving favours and concessions.
– Senator Pulsford believes in the doctrine of letting in a little fresh air concerning those who are engaged in certain industries. Does he not see that it is very justifiable for those who object to this proposal to ask that if this £12,000 is to be spent, public competition shall ‘be invited ?
– Not necessarily.
– I am appealing to the only real free-trader in the Senate. Not only has Senator Drake told us that this is a proposal to give a bounty for the extension of commerce, but he has led us to believe that it is a proposal to settle Australian emigrants on the lands in the New Hebrides belonging to Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. According to the schedule attached to the agreement of 12th March, 1902, the firm have blocks of land there numbered from 1 to 30. The total area is about 100,000 acres. But so little informationhave Burns, Philp, and Company about their own lands, that they have not described lot No. 3. Lot No. 1 is Hat Island. Lot No. 2 is described. But about lot No. 3 they give no information. They appear to have an idea that they have land there; but they certainly have not described that portion of their possessions. It is simply put down as “No. 3.” I consider that this proposal of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company that the Commonwealth Government shall take a share with them in the administration of these islands is a very ingenious move to get the Commonwealth to support them and their claims when the proposed Land Commission meets to decide the question of land titles in the New Hebrides. A great number of British settlers in Fiji had their titles disallowed, because they were not able to support them. Some of them had bought land in a genuine way. The method in the New Hebrides appears to be. to approach the natives, whom they believe to own the land, and to ask them if they will sell. The natives are paid certain amounts in money and kind for the land. But I am informed on good authority that one can get any native in the New Hebrides to sell him any land that hesees natives settled upon. These natives ask you if you “ want to make ‘em paper,” which means that they want to know whether you want to buy some land. The intending settler says “Yes.” Then the native says, “You can have that,” pointing to all the land comprised between where they are standing and the horizon - “ f rom here to yonder.”
– Where does the honorable senator get that information from?
– From a resident who has been in the New Hebrides for years.
Senat or HIGGS. - I must ask the honorable senator not to press for the name of my informant.
– Is there not a system of joint control between the French and the British?
– Yes; and I propose later on to deal with that matter. The system pursued seems to have been a very loose one - so loose that with regard to one of the islands named in the schedule, Hat Island, I am given to understand that there are at least half-a-dozen different titles.
– It is said that residents in Noumea hold titles for more land in the New Hebrides than there is in that group of islands.
– That is quite likely. I am informed that in the New Hebrides generally, there are titles for more land than exists. I understand that so many people have bought land on Hat Island, and there is such a doubt about the titles, that no one will put any improvements on the place. But mark the ingenuity of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. Fearing, I suppose, that owing to their title being challenged, there might be a doubt about their property in Hat Island, they askthe Government to be good enough to leave that island out of the list. Probably if some innocent Australian settler went down to Hat Island, and endeavoured to find a place to settle upon, he would be quickly informed of the state of affairs, and would complain to the Commonwealth Government. Then the titles of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company from No. 1 right up to No. 30, might be challenged. But see the position of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company if the Government undertake to share with them the responsibility for titles which the firm say they hold.
– I do not think the Government are doing that:
– I was unable to get information on the’ subject the other day. I asked whether . the Government had inspected the titles of these lands, and whether they had ordered Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company to hand over the titles. The Attorney-General said that these questions ought to be answered in a return. But the information ought to have been given by the Government. They should have told us whether they were ordering Burns, Philp, and Company to transfer titles to British settlers. If the Government support Burns, Philp, and Company in giving a title to certain settlers, no doubt that will weigh with the Land Commission to the great detriment of settlers, who have purchased the same land, but have not the same influence before the Court, and have not the Commonwealth Government behind them. I am given to understand that the native system of land tenure is what is described as the Matagali system, which extends from Fiji right throughout the Pacific Islands. The natives do not believe that they are selling their land in fee simple. They believe that they are selling it for use so long as the purchaser lives. They do not understand that they will not have any right to it again. There is great doubt about the so-called titles which Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company claim that they have to 100.000 acres.
– Does the honorable senator say that that has anything to do with the expenditure of £12,000?
– Yes, because it is part of the agreement. I am dealing not only with the ,£6,900, which we already pay, but with the £6,000 that is proposed in connexion with the increased .extension.
– What has that go’ to do with titles to land ?
– It is part of my case, because this agreement only lasts so long as this Parliament continues to vote the subsidy. As soon as Parliament is aware of the farcical nature of the whole affair, I venture to say that it will stop the subsidy.
– If Burns, Philp, and Company fulfil the conditions?
– If they fulfil all the conditions that are set out, I think that we ought not to pay £12,000, or ,£6,000 either. Part of that agreement with this firm involves the granting or the leasing of land to settlers from Australia for a term of fifty years at is. per acre per annum. The mail subsidy which we are about to pass carries with it an agreement in regard to 100,000 acres of land in the New Hebrides. How could the Vice-President of the Executive Council defend such a subsidy in any Court of law. if an endeavour were made to obtain an injunction against the spending of the money ?
– Did not Burns, Philp, and Company practically make a present of 100,000 acres to the Government ?
– That firm promised, if the Government liked, to hand over the whole of the 100,000 acres, which I dare say they would be glad to sell to-morrow, for ,£6,000.
– The firm said they were going to hand over the land in order to develop trade.
– It is the first time, I believe, in the history of this firm, that they have ever made an offer which appeared to be in the nature of giving something for nothing. Such an offer, at any rate, does not go to show that the land is of very high value. It is a mistake on the part of the Government to back this firm up in a matter of land titles, inasmuch as by doing so they may do an injustice to British or French settlers who may have titles to the same land.
– The firm did not buy the land from the natives, but fi om a company.
– Burns, Philp, and Company appear to have bought the land from the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company.
– They bought it from the New Hebrides Company.
– And the New Hebrides Company got it from Scott, Henderson, and Company.
– We want to trace the ownership of this land to the beginning. Senator Walker himself has told us, on apparently good authority, that there are many titles to land in the New ‘Hebrides.
– I was a director of the New Hebrides Company, and, therefore, can speak with authority. The company, of which Senator Fraser was also a director, was carried on for national purposes, and we never made, or looked for, a penny of profit. The company was formed and conducted in order to prevent the French monopolizing the trade.
– It is proposed to pay ^12,000 per annum for an increased mail service, while, at the present rime, a better service than that offered is provided by the Messageries Maritimes Company.
– That is a French company, and we desire a British company.
– The French company is heavily subsidized to the extent of 8s. 4d. a mile.
– I believe that has been denied. We have a free-trade Government, or rather a Government which is composed half of free-traders, and in this Chamber is supported almost entirely by staunch freetraders. It is those honorable senators who support a subsidy of £12,000 for a threemonthly service, when we already have a fortnightly service from the French company.
– To all these ports?
– I have in my hand a small pamphlet, entitled South Sea Island Cruises, issued by Thomas Cook and Company, the tourist agents, who, in its pages, announce a series of trips by Burns, Philp, and Company’s vessels. The trip described as No. 5 is to Vila and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, and, occupying about three months, the holiday costs £40. It is announced that for this trip t’he Ysabel will leave on the 1st April, 1st August, and 1st December. I have also with me a time table of the Messageries Maritimes Company, and from this it appears that their large over-sea boats of 4,000 and 5,000 tons run every month to Noumea, and thence to the New Hebrides, about 150 miles distant Two or three small steamers run.
– Give us the names of the ports at which the French Company’s boats touch.
– The mail steamer Pacifique runs direct to the islands, and the large over-sea boats of the monthly service run to Noumea, from whence, by the smaller boats, letters and postal articles from Sydney may be distributed to the New Hebrides. The Pacifique, which, I understand, receives a subsidy, goes to Noumea, Port Vila, Spiritu Santo, Port Sandwich, Epi, Mel6, Vila, Noumea again, and then to Sydney.
– That does not include the Gilbert and Elice groups.
– I understand that those islands are occupied by an American company, called the Pacific Islands Company, for whom Burns, Philp, and Company are the agents. In 1903, I am informed, the French Government placed a. postal official on the Pacifique, to attend to all postal work on board, including that relating to parcels which do not contain money or valuables. The official is also intrusted with postal orders, for all residents in the group, and vice versa, who may desire to make payments in New Caledonia. This movement for a subsidy is on the part of certain persons in Sydney. I suppose we cannot complain of the healthy competition between the business .men in the various States capitals, but we who represent Brisbane and other commercial centres, have a right to see that fair play is given to all parts. As the usual hour for adjournment hai now arrived, I ask leave to continue my remarks the next day of sitting.
Motion (by Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday next.
– I propose to refer to the matter dealt with in the motion of which I have given notice, relating to the compulsory military training of youths, on the Defence Estimates, and I therefore move -
That order of the day No. 3, Private Business, be read and discharged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.2 p.m.’
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041209_senate_2_24/>.