2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30. p.m., and read prayers.
We haveno objection to survey Western Australian railway, but desire to be consulted as to route. It must be understood that this in no way binds us to ultimate approval of policy.
I wish to ask my honorable friend whether, in view of that telegram, which imposes a condition on the consent even to the survey, he will not admit the advisability of postponing the consideration of the Bill.I desire to mention that I am asking this question in the friendliest possible way, and in order to suggest to the Ministerthe undesirability of handing over to the opponents
– The honorable and learned senator ought not to argue thequestion.
– I am merely explaining why I ask the question, and that is in order to suggest to my honorable friend the undesirability of handing over to the opponents of the Bill what might be a very strong argument that we are voting money for the survey of a route which nobody knows anything about.
– The honorable and learned senator must not argue the question.
– The position is precisely the same now as it was when the honorable and learned senator was leader of the Senate and a member of the Government. The conditions which are mentioned in the telegram referred to are the same as those which the previous Premier, Mr. Jenkins, had put in his telegrams to the Government of the day. Mr. Jenkins intimated that, although his Government were perfectly willing that the Commonwealth should make the survey, that would not bind them eventually, after the cost had been ascertained, to approve of the construction of the line over theirterritory.
– My honorable friend has misunderstood, quite unintentionally, I am sure, my question. The condition to which I referred is that the Government of South Australia have no objection to the survey, but desire to be consulted as to the route.
– There is no harm in their being consulted as to the route. The telegram does not say that the Government of South Australia would object to the survey, even supposing that the route which they believed to be the best were not actually adopted.They only wish to be consulted.
– Would it not be well to consult them before we spend £20,000 ?
– I must ask honorable senators not to argue the question.
– I consider that we are inexactly the same position as we were when Mr. Jenkins was Premier.
– What is the position?
– The position is that the Commonwealth is quite at liberty to make a survey, but that the State’ of South Australia will have the right, when all the information has been obtained, to say whether or not it will allow the Commonwealth to construct a line across its territory.
– Why should the Prime Minister express his great gratification at that telegram?
– I do not know anything about that.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister, when he was lead ing a previous Government, wrote to the Government of South Australia, asking them to pass a measure giving the consent of that State to our proceeding, with this survey, is it the intention of the Government to proceed now without such consent ?
– We are going to proceed now exactly as we were proceeding last year.
– Despite the fact that the Prime Minister says that consent is necessary ? It is monstrous.
– It was just as necessary last year.
– It is political burglary, as some one has said.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has any objection to secure for the information of the Senate the names of the nine cruisers which he stated yesterday are now in Australasian waters.
– I do not recollect whether I said nine cruisers ; but whatever the number is I am quite prepared to ascertain the names and give them to the honorable senator.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, a question arising out of a statement he made yesterday when I drew his attention to previous remarks of mine with reference to a notice posted in the steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Co. I wish to know whether his statement that certain things I alleged are denied, was to be considered as meaning that they were denied by the company, or by the Customs officials?
– I based the statement upon information I gained from a paper. As to whether it is accurate or not I cannot say. There was information contained in the paper to the effect that the. Peninsular and Oriental Company had denied that such a statement was ever posted.
– The Peninsular and Oriental Company absolutely deny it.
– The paper may, or may not, be accurate.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether the Senate will have an early opportunity, and if so, when, of dealing with the classification of the Public Service drawn up by the Commissioner.
– The Senate will have an opportunity] of dealing with the classification scheme, but if the honorable senator wishes to know, with any amount of precision, at what date, I would ask him to give notice of the question.
– Before the business of the day is called upon, I wish to make a personal explanation in connexion with some remarks I made last night concerning the New Hebrides.
– The honorable senator must first ask the leave of the Senate.
Leave having been granted,
– My remarks, I find, were made under a misapprehension. I think that if they had had a general application, they would, in many instances, be correct, but in this instance I unwittinglyi did to the officers of the Departments an injustice, which I regret. The Prime Minister informs me that the answers to the questions were not formulated by the clerks, but emanated directly from himself ; therefore, they were not in any way to blame. There was a misunderstanding as to the nature of the replies, and that arose probably through some ambiguity in my questions. When I asked what steps would be taken to carry out the terms of the Anglo-French agreement, I desired to elicit information with regard to what negotiations had actually taken place between the British and French Governments, in reference to the purchases that were to be granted in that agreement. I desired to know what was the cause of the delay of one year and four months which had taken place without any action being taken, and as to whether that delay was the fault of the British or French Government. The Prime Minister informs me that he understood, when I asked what steps had been taken, that I was anxious to know if any results had accrued with regard to the formation of the Commission that is to inquire as to land matters in the New Hebrides, and also with regard to some control over the natives. As nothing had been done, looking at it from that point of view, he was quite correct in answering in the negative, but he assures me that he misunderstood my intentions in the questions, and that therefore he gave a reply which he thought conveyed the information I desired.
– I desire to move that the Senate at its rising adjourn until to-morrow at 2.30 p.m. I do so with the object of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the sudden imposition by the Minister of Trade and Customs of practically double the amount of duty on agricultural machinery known as harvesters.
Four honorable senators having risenin their places,
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - There has been laid upon the table of the Library a considerable number of papers dealing with this subject, but I merely wish to draw the attention of the Senate to two or three salient and easily understood details in connexion with it. I should like in the first place to say that considerable correspondence seems to have taken place with regard to the duty on harvesters, and especially with regard to the valuationon which duty is being paid by the importers. Itmay be said that the consideration given to the subject by the Customs Department and by the Minister is pretty well summed up in a note writtenby Mr. Smart on the 6th October to the Comptroller-General : -
I am of opinion that the invoice values shownby the Massey-Harris Company for harvesters is correct. The value is about £12 in. excess of the International Harvester Company values for similar machines, which would be a reasonable profit. Previous analyses of Massey-Harris values for other machines have resulted satisfactorily for the firm.
– He wrote another letter contradicting that.
– In that document Mr. Smart sums up the position assatisfactory, and says that the declarationsnade by the Massey-Harris Company were honest.
– What is the date of that note?
– The 6th October, 1904. When the Tariff Commission was skiing in Melbourne a great deal of evidencewas . given by certain Victorian manufacurers.
– Name them.
– Mr. McKay was the chief one. I think there was another. I believe that the evidence, although very voluminous, was confined to those two gentlemen without any rebuttal of it being given by any other firm. I may say that the Svdney manager of the Massey-Harris Harvester Company told me in conversation three or four months ago. “ We are ready with an immense amount of evidence in rebuttal of what has been said when we have an opportunity of giving that evidence.” The matter remained pretty well in abeyance until the month of June, when Mr. McKay,, who seems to have very considerable access to the Customs authorities, appeared with a statement that some correspondence had passed between him and a gentleman in Italy, from whom he had received a statement respecting the MasseyHarris Company, stating that they quoted their harvesters in Italy at about ^65. This letter from Italy, which was produced by Mr. McKay, shows that Mr. De Haan was a gentleman in Milan. In his letter he acknowledged receipt of a cable message asking him to send over “Canadian letter quoting machines “ ; and he says -
I have pleasure in enclosing you a copy of the letter in question for your own private information.
I need not tell honorable senators that it is customary in business and even in political circles for a statement which is sent with an expressed declaration that it is private to be so considered by its recipient. Instead of treating that as a private communication Mr. McKay took it to the Customs House. When this information was given to the Customs authorities they at once proceeded - and they were quite justified in doing so - to make some inquiry into the matter; and I should like to read this draft of a letter to the manager of the Massey-Harris Company which may be seen amongst the papers in the Library. It is dated June 19th, and is as1 follows : -
Sir, - T have the honour to inform you that the Minister for Trade and Customs has under consideration the question of raising the assessment of harvesters from the present amount, namely, ^38 10s. iod., and I am to call upon your firm to show cause why this should not be done.
That is a very straightforward and proper course to be pursued. On the side of the letter, in pencil, appear these words -
Stand over till Mr. Smart has seen Mr. McKay.
The thing stood over.
– In whose writing is that ?
– That I do not know. The letter stood over, and was never sent to the Massey-Harris Company. They heard nothing on the subject until the receipt of a letter dated 24th July, which read as follows : -
Sir, - I have the honour, by direction of the Minister, to inform you that the value for duty of your company’s harvesters has been assessed under section 160 of the Customs Act, and instructions have been issued that in future duly is to bo charged on such harvesters on a valuation of ^”65 each, including the statutory addition of 10 pe» cent.
Now, the position is that the matter has been gone into very fully before the Tari fi Commission by local manufacturers and the Massey-Harris Comp;my have not been heard ; that a local manufacturer (Mr. McKay) went to the Customs House with this information from Italy; and that (he Massey-Harris Company, in spite of that letter, was not called upon to make any statement, or to give amy rebutting evidence. Then the Minister of Customs issues this order, and sends the Massey-Harris Company the letter which I have read, which is practically equivalent to branding the firm as fraudulent. I do not propose to detain the Senate at amy length. The remarks I am making are within a very small compass, and the point can easily be grasped by honorable senators. I received a letter yesterday from the Sydney manager of the Massey-Harris Company, and this morning I have seen the Melbourne manager of the company, who confirms his statements. The following is an extract from the letter of Mr. Grant, the Sydney manager. He says -
We have always invoiced at ,£38 odd, and paid duty just upon ^42 - that is 10 per cent, added to the invoice cost. This is an absolutely faithful cost -
– And they sell at
– I suppose they would sell at ^900 if they could get it. If honorable senators who interject are so afraid of hearing the truth they should walk out -
This is an absolutely faithful cost, which has allowed our factory a good working margin of profit.
Now I will proceed to give one or two item? of information. The harvesters are sold at about ;£8i each.
– ^95 in Western Australia.
– Out of the £&i the company pays its canvassers a commission of 10 per cent. . That leaves, upon the net price they get, ,£73. Then these machines, which are valued at ^38 at their factory, cost, laid down in Australia at the present time - the Customs duty at the old rate included - £58- So that the difference between ,£58 and ^73 is only £,15. When I tell honorable senators that the company in the ;£8i not only includes the cost of the machine, but also the cost of erection and maintenance, of looking after it, and instructing the farmer in its use during the first season, they will see that there is not much left. That is the statement which I have to make to’ the Senate. We are face to face with this most extraordinary position : The Government has issued an instruction for an immense advance in the valuation. If this advance is justified, then the Massey-Harris Companyhas been fraudulently presenting false invoices ; and if it has been fraudulently presenting false invoices it ought to be prosecuted. That is the position. There is no getting away from that.
– Why take the Agasseyharris Company?
– Because this is the company to which the Customs Department has sent its notification as to the increased valuation. If the action of the Government is justified, the Massey-Harris Company ought to be prosecuted. If the action of the Government is not justified, it ought to be withdrawn. I call the attention of the Government to these simple points, and 1 ask with all respect and all earnestness that some attention shall be (, given to them.
– The strongest point made by Senator Pulsford was that with which he closed his remarks. The honorable senator said that if the Government, who, through the Collector of Customs, had, under section 160 of the Customs Act, taken on themselves to raise the price at which these machines could be invoiced from £38 to ^65, it was an unmistakable sign that the company in question had previously been defrauding the revenue, and that, therefore, it was the duty of the Government to proceed against the firm for fraud. But the position is that evidence cannot be procured to prove fraud in a Court of law.
– The evidence is all the other way.
– These machines are made in Canada and the United States, where there is no local demand for them, and, as it is thus impossible to arrive at the selling price in the country of origin, the manufacturers are able to charge what they like on sending them to this country. At first the machines were invoiced at ,£28, but that price was raised by a previous Minister of Customs to ^38. When that step was taken, the same argument applied that has been used to-day by Senator Pulsford.
– What Government was in power then?
– I forget which Government it was, but, at all events, it was nob the Deakin Government. My point is that, at that time, the same argument applied, namely, that by raising the. invoice price the Government insinuated that the manufacturers had been making false entries. Yet no action was taken ; and why ? Because it could not be proved that there had been fraud, although there might be moral certainty that the goods had been undervalued. That is the reason, I suppose, why the head of the Customs Department at that time did not attempt to take any action, as I am sure he would have done if fraud could have been proved in a Court of law.
– Mr. McLean, the late Minister of Customs, does not say so.
– I do not know, and I do not care very much, what Mr. McLean says in regard to the matter. I am not sure whether it was Mr. McLean who raised the invoice price to .-£38, but whoever did so, doubtless had a suspicion of undervaluation. I did not know that this motion was to be submitted until five or ten minutes before the Senate met, and I have not had time to do more than to take an exceedingly hurried look through the papers. This is a matter which does not come within my Department, and I have no knowledge, except what I have gained from evidence given before the Tariff Commission. Senator Pulsford implied that the Minister of Customs should have waited until the other side had been heard : but the evidence given before the Tariff Commission has nothing to do with fixing invoice rates or duty. The local manufacturers in the Commonwealth, however, have something at stake ; and they pointed out, as they were justified in doing, that these machines were coming into the country, and unfairly competing with the Australian pro- duct. It was not for the Collector of Cus-toms to wait to hear what the other side said ; he has his own officers, and is supplied with information on which he can act. In regard to these harvesters, there has been a suspicion for many years that they were being introduced at too low a rate. As I have said, the machines were at first invoiced at ,£28 or ^29, and the company at that time represented that as a fair value.
– So it was at that time, but labour conditions have altered very materially since.
– Have the labour conditions altered so materially as to increase the value of the machines from ^28 to .£38 ? The labour conditions, if anything, have improved, and, in consequence of machinery, which now does work previously done by hand, the harvesters are turned out more cheaply.
– Mr. McKay will not tell us that.
– I do not much trouble about what Mr. McKay says in the matter. I heard that gentleman’s evidence on the subject before the Tariff Commission, when he said that, in his opinion, the harvesters could not be manufactured at anything less than tOO or * £70* Whether that be so or not, the position is as I have stated. The Collector of Customs, Mr. Smart by name, and a smart and intelligent officer by nature, was called upon to report on the subject. Inquiries were made in Argentine, and the singular fact was disclosed that the same machines were being invoiced’ there at -^”41. Under the circumstances, the Commissioner decided that ^38 would be a fair invoice price. Senator Pulsford has read what Mr. Smart reported on a particular date in October ; but Mr. Smart obtained further information, and found that he had made a mistake.
– What was the information ?
– Never mind what the information was; ‘honorable senators may find it all in the correspondence which, has been laid on the library table. It is evident that there is something in that correspondence which ought not to be there - that there is a letter which was written, but never sent. On the 3rd Jul v. which was considerably after the date of the minute which has’ been quoted, Mr. Smart reported -
The further documents now under consideration, however, lead me to believe that the Canadian information has been misleading -
Inquiries had been made in Canada,, and the Customs Department had received what they considered independant information, on which Mr. Smart was relying when he made the recommendation that the invoice price should be ^38. - not that the officer who inspected the books of the firm had any intention to mislead, but that the records examined all showed special prices to their own representatives, and as harvesters are not used or sold in Canada, there was consequently no real basis of comparison, ft is submitted that all harvesters imported be detained and dealt with as provided in the Customs Act.
The matter went on, and the Compt’rollerGeneral of Customs, Dr. Wollaston, went into the whole subject. Dr. Wollaston is a most careful officer, who would do no wrong, and he came to a conclusion on which he based a recommendation. The gist of Dr. Wollaston’s recommendation is in the following words: -
The instructions of the Minister are sought as to the future course to be pursued with regard to the assessment of these harvesters for duty, with the suggestion that such should be considerably increased, say to £6$.
What has the Minister of Customs done but act on the recommendation of the head of his Department after the most careful investigation into all the facts,” extending over a series of years ?
– Dr. Wollaston does not know what he is talking about.
– It might be said that the honorable senator who interjects, and others, do not know what they are talking about; and I dare say Dr. Wollaston, if here, would be able to retort. T-hat gentleman has had the matter under his consideration for years, and has reported on it to his Minister. All that Sir William Lyne has done is, as J say, to act on the recommendation of his chief officer, under section 160 of the Customs Act, which gives power, whenever it is difficult to determine the value of goods for duty, because the goods are not sold for use or consumption in the country of production - and that is exactly the case here - the Minister may assess the value at what he thinks a fair amount. I contend that Sir William Lyne is amply justified in the action he took, and I ask the Senate not to adopt the motion, although I know it is not proposed to be adopted, but merely to afford an opportunity for debate. The matter has received the attention of more Ministers of Customs than one, and they have all been, satisfied from the first that there was undervaluation. If honorable senators desi:re 1 to know the whole facts of the case they are disclosed in the papers which have been laid on the library table.
– Senator Pulsford has done a good service in bringing this matter under the notice of honorable senators. There is, I know, a feeling that we are talking protection versus free-trade, but I think we can rise above such considerations in dealing with this matter at the present moment. The whole question we have to consider is how far the Minister has been justified in his action ; and it is only fair that the matter should be reviewed with reference to the correspondence, and not only with reference to the position of this particular manufacturing company, .but also to the attitude taken up by gentlemen who are manufacturing a similar article within the Commonwealth.
– This motion should not have been sprung on us without notice.
– It appears strange, I admit, that a harvester should be introduced here invoiced at ,£38 or ^40, and sold at something like ,£85 or .£90. I have no doubt that that fact prejudices honorable senators in regard to the attitude they ought to assume on such an occasion. But I remind honorable senators that Mr. McKay, who manufactures a similar implement, sells them on the same terms as the imported harvesters are sold. We have, therefore, a trade jealousy, which gives rise to an endeavour to induce the Minister to increase the duty. The question arises whether it is an honest increase, or an increase for ulterior purposes. Mr. McLean, the predecessor of Sir William Lyne, was satisfied that he could not go beyond ^38, but directly the latter gentleman comes into office, Mr. McKay, who happens to be an important resident in the constituency of the Prime Minister, and to have something like 400 men in his employment, takes action.
– Is the honorable and learned senator in order in imputing motives for the action taken by saying that the invoiced price has been raised because a prominent elector in the Prime Minister’s constituency is interested in the matter ?
.- I only alluded to certain facts which appear to me to be remarkably, strange, and I submit that I was perfectly justified in doing so.
– It is undoubtedly out of order, according to our Standing
Orders, to impute improper motives, but I cannot see that that would debar an honorable senator from stating facts.
.- We have these facts before us. There is the further fact that one cannot buy the locallymade article at a cheaper rate than the imported article. Mr. McKay. or any one else, has a perfect right to charge the highest price he can get for the article which he has for sale, but in the same way the Canadian people have the right to charge the highest price which they can get for the implements they produce. I admit that there is an enormous difference between the invoice price of .£38 or ,£45 and the selling price of ,£85 or ,£90, but I do not know what circumstances require to be taken into consideration in that connexion. The Massey-Harris people may give from two to five years’ credit. The giving of credit in that way no doubt often results in the loss of money to the person giving it, and it is usual to make that up by charging a higher price to people who are good marks and pay well. I repeat that, in this instance, the power assumed by the Minister of Trade and Customs is a most dangerous one. That was pointed out when the Commonwealth Customs Bill was under consideration. We contended that the powers proposed to be given under that measure to the Minister of Trade and Customs for the time being were most dangerous, and that they should be safeguarded in some way or other. The reply we always got was that we could depend that the Minister, whoever he was, would exercise those powers with the utmost discretion. I am sorry to say that the history of the Commonwealth Customs administration has not justified that contention. The section of the Act under which the Minister of Trade and Customs is supposed to have taken action has been used to greatly increase the invoice valuation of a certain article, and why? Because. Mr. Smart says that the valuation previously agreed to, ,£38, is an undervaluation, and that the Customs officers, who previously investigated the matter, were misled. Mr. Smart does not give a single reason for making that statement. We are told that these machines are invoiced in the Argentine at ,£41, and that, according to a certain letter, they were invoiced at .£65 in Italy.
– According to what is only a copy of a letter.
– It is only a copy, and it comes from a gentleman who is personally interested in raising as high as he can the invoice valuation of imported harvesters, to reduce the margin of profit of a trade rival. In the circumstances, the Minister should have taken the greatest care before he .acted in the way in which he has done. Why could he not have made further inquiries from the Canadian authorities? He should have again communicated with the Canadian authorities, who could have no reason for deceiving him. He could have explained that these machines were invoiced at higher rates in other portions of the world, and suggested that the Canadian authorities must have been misled as to their proper valuation, and might, therefore, inquire further. If that had been done, and it had been shown, as alleged, that these implements really cost something like £65 to make, there is no member of the Senate who would not have been perfectly willing to. agree to the action which has been taken by the Minister of Trade and Customs. But the valuation of these harvesters has been jumped up so suddenly, and under such peculiar circumstances, that one is forced at once to the consideration of possible motives behind the action taken. Those motives may have been absolutely pure. I do not say that they were or were not, but in view of all the circumstances, the action taken looks very suspicious. Honorable senators should not forget that we have placed in the hands of the Minister of Trade and Customs the power to improperly increase the duties imposed upon every article imported into this country. The Minister may, if he pleases, under this section of the Customs Act, say that any article invoiced at £25 shall be invoiced at ^50, and it will be seen that the door is open to all sorts of corruption.
– What is the value of these harvesters in the honorable and learned senator’s opinion ?
.- How can I say ? They may cost £100, or 100 pence, for all I know.
– It is because the honorable and learned senator does not know, that he is saving these things.
– I know perfectly well that I. am entering a protest against what I regard as most unjust action on the part of a member of the Government, action taken without proper con- sideration of the merits of the question.
– If you get ^90 for a machine, is it wrong to pav duty on * £60* ?
.- If a manufacturer can get £go for an article which it costs him only £20 to produce, he is entitled to all the benefit he can derive from the transaction. I am glad that Senator Pulsford has brought this matter forward. I hope honorable senators will take care to protest every time action is taken which they consider improper in the administration, not only of the Customs Department, but of every Department of the Government, and will insist that full investigation shall be made, and that everything done shall be honest and aboveboard. Before I resume my seat, I should like to allude to the fact that certain papers relating to this case have been placed on a table in the Library, and access to them granted to honorable senators generally ; but in a case of this kind, the papers should be made official documents, and should be placed on record. It should not be left for a Minister to say, “ The papers in this case are so voluminous that I shall place them on the table in the Library, and any one can look at them.” When the particular matter dealt with is -settled, the papers are taken away, and later on members of Parliament, and the public generally may have no idea of the reasons for certain action. In this case, I believe that most extraordinary action has been taken bv the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I cannot understand the protest raised against Senator Pulsford bringing this matter forward.
– Who has raised sucha protest?
– Judging by the number of interjections during the honorable senator’s speech, there is very considerable protest. This is a question which can be dealt with apart altogether from considerations, either of free-trade, or of protection.
– It is an administra- . live act open to criticism.
– I remind protectionists in this chamber that the time might come when under a free-trade Minister, importers would be allowed to depreciate, the invoice valuation of their imports. Would they sit silent and permit a Minister of Trade and Customs to depreciate the invoice valuation of an article liable to duty ?
– Would he have power to reduce the valuation below the invoice price ?
– He would certainly have power, under the Customs Act, to do what I have suggested. While one can sympathize with Senator Pulsford in bringing this matter forward, one is not necessarily committed to a condemnation of what the Minister of Trade and Customs has done in this particular instance. I agree with what the Minister has done. I believe he has done rightly, and he has only exercised the power which the Federal Parliament gave him in passing the Commonwealth Customs Act. I point out that the Minister might have achieved the same end by another method. There is another section in the Customs Act, which’ was acted on by a previous Minister, under which he could have seized these goods and sold them.
– That would have been much better.
– That would have been sufficiently drastic to have brought the firm in question to its bearings at once, and it would have put them to the proof as to whether they were importing their goods at a proper valuation.
– Why any finnicking business? If a thing is right, why not do it?
– If Senator Dawson were the importer of goods at a valuation of£35, which he sold here at £90, he would have a very strong objection to their being seized at the invoice valuation. If the course I point out had been followed, the action of the Minister would have been free from any suggestion that it was taken because of his protectionist proclivities. I do not think any honorable senator believes for a moment that there is a member in either House of the Federal Parliament who would take this action because a local factory for harvesters happened to be in a particular electorate. I do not think that should have been mentioned. I do not believe that such a consideration actuated the Minister of Trade and Customs in the slightest degree. I know from actual experience that these imported harvesters are being sold in the Commonwealth at from£80to£90.
– No one disputes that.
– I have seen similar machines manufactured. I know the conditions under whichthey are manufactured. 1 know something of this kind of business, and I am certain that they could not be manufactured for anything approaching£35. From personal observation, therefore, I am satisfied that these goods are imported at very much below their true value. I think, therefore, that the Minister of Trade and’ Customs was justified in taking some action, but it would have been better if he had acted under section 161 of the Customs Act, under which the Customs may take goods on paying the declared value - that is, the invoice value plus 10 per cent. I am certain that if the company referred to has been doing as it seems they have beendoing, the Minister might have straightened them up in the manner I have suggested. Where a Minister of Trade and Customs takes action which has the result of doubling the invoice value of an article, this Senate should be very jealousof its powers of criticism, and should not hesitate to exercise them. If we allow such action to pass without comment weshall not be true to the interests of the’ people who have sent us here. We are here to represent, not only the interests of the manufacturers of this particular article, but the interests also of those whouse it. If such action as has been complained of in this case be allowed to pass without notice, honorable senators will see that a protectionist Minister of. Trade and Customs might revise the whole of the Tariff, and double the duties imposed in every case by taking like action in connexion with every other imported article. On the other hand, a free-trade Minister,, or one having revenue-tariff leanings, might by allowing importers to depreciate their invoice valuations, lower the Tariff rates by 50 or 100 per cent. We are therefore justified in criticising the actionof the Minister in this case. I think that in view of all the circumstances the Minister was justified in the action he took, because£65 is much more nearly the truevalue of these harvesters than the valuation stated by the importers.
– I agree with very much of what Senator Pearce has said as to theprinciple on which the Senate should takethese matters into consideration. Of course, the Customs Act is an extremely drasticmeasure. It necessarily contains a great many provisions which are absolutely essential in order to secure an effective administration of the law.
– Because of the swindles.
– No doubt the honorable senator knows a good deal about swindles, but it would be very much better if he did not interrupt at present. The Customs Act necessarily contains very drastic powers to be exercised by the Minister for the protection of the public revenue. But for that reason it is absolutely essential that a careful and strict watch to be kept on the Minister, so .that “these; powers of administration shall not be exercised unfairly or in furtherance of some particular political view which he may have, and to prevent the possibility even of a suspicion that he is favouring a local manufacturer or local competitor against some foreign manufacturer whose goods are imported1 here. For that reason Senator Pearce is perfectly right in putting the matter in the most effective way in which it could be put - that if the present Administration were permitted to increase invoice valuations we might one day have a protectionist Minister who would not be too scrupulous ; or on the other hand, a free-trade Minister who would be similarly wanting in scruple, and either of them might exercise the powers conferred by the Act for the purpose not of administering it fairly and justly, but of favoring the particular fiscal views which he entertained. The principle applies both ways. Therefore, this motion is a just exercise by us of our right of supervision and criticism over the operation of an Act which demands effective administration, and which because of that demands also keen scrutiny at every point when it comes under challenge. I part company, however, with my honorable friend when he says he thinks that, in this instance, the Minister has acted properly. I am not going to suggest for a moment - and the proposition does not involve a suggestion - that there has been any moral impropriety, obliquity, or anything of that kind, but there are higher principles that we seek to observe than the claims of free-trade on one hand, or protection on the other, of local industry on the one hand, or exotic industry on the other, and these are the principles of fair- play and justice. I am not dealing now with the allegation that these principles have not been brought into force in relation to the action which the Minister has taken in this case. It is a leading and elementary principle that when you are asked to pronounce judgment on what anybody does, you hear the other side. In this particular case, we have the fact that it was difficult to estimate the value of these goods, because, as Senator Playford has pointed out, there is no local market in the place of manufacture by which the Minister, as required by one section of the Act, can be guided. That being the case, it comes to be merely a question of first, an investigation as to what the cost of manufacture is, and, secondly, what would be a fair profit to charge in that country, adding any incidental expense of taking the goods to the sea-board or place of market, and on arrival here of the 10 per cent., which the Customs always” add. Some investigations have taken place, and, as a result, the late Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. McLean, for whom apparently Senator Playford expresses the greatest contempt-
– The Minister says he does not care anything about Mr. McLean.
– He did not say that.
– There is no other man in this Parliament who would make a statement of that kind seriously.
– I spoke of Mr. McKay
– The Minister spoke of Mr. McLean as well as Mr. McKay. Mr. McLean; a man who is held in honour in this Parliament and in this particular country of protection, was asked to intervene, and he assessed the value at .£38 odd - on what?
– On the recommendation of the State Collector.
– I sometimes question my honorable friend’s executive power at the table, but I now question his judicial faculty ; I do not think he has any. Mr. McLean assessed the value first of all on an inquiry made by competent and reliable Government officials in Canada - that is, officials of the Canadian Customs Department - against whom there is not the slightest imputation of unfairness or partiality. That was the basis of Mr. McLean’s estimate, concurred in. as Senator Playford says, by the State Collector.
– It was quite justified at the time, but it is not now.
– What has occurred to change it?
– New information has been obtained.
– What is the information?
– It would not hang a cat.
– A cat ! It would not hang the Minister at the table, who has never committed an offence of any sort or description. It would not cendemn anybody. What is it? Mr. McKay, the local competitor, who, of course, is perfectly justified in promoting his own interests, sends, in a copy of a letter from Italy. So far as I am aware, the original has never been seen.
– There may be no original.
-JOSIAH SYMON.- Exactly. The whole thing may have its origin in fraud ; it may or may not be a conspiracy. The evidence on which this last movement rests is not the original, but a copy of a letter supposed to have come from Italy, marked private, I believe.
– No, it has been printed and circulated.
– The Minister referred to one letter marked private.
– I saw a copy the other day.
– The sender intended the letter to be private.
– Like the Minister, I only know the facts which have been detailed here.
– I left the copy in Adelaide, otherwise I should have been only too glad to produce it.
– The evidence comes from what in legal circles is called a tainted source. Heaven knows where the original of the letter_ is, or whether it ever existed ; and yet it is upon that evidence that the value of these goods has been raised to ^65 in this market, and the duty increased by more than a third, with the 10 per cent, added. Is it fair or just that the present Minister should reverse the decision of his predecessor without further inquiry from official sources, and without giving manufacturers and importers an opportunity of being heard, and do so not upon an original letter emanating from a rival in trade, who, of course, is interested in prohibiting the importation of these machines. but upon a copy of a letter of which the Minister has never seen’ the original?
Surely that is not the kind of evidence on which this action ought to be taken, and I agree with Senator Pearce that it would be far better, and more in the direction of just administration of the Act, if section 161 had been put in force and the goods seized, so that this company could have had an opportunity of defending themselves from a. very serious aspersion upon their business character. In fact, it is a charge of fraud, but it is not made against them in a way which they can rebut.
– If we were to seize their machines, it would look very bad.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.It looks twice as bad to greatly increase the duty they have to nay without giving them an opportunity of being heard. My honorable friend said, “ How could we do such a thing ; we have no information ; we could not get the evidence.” What a confession that is to make? They have not the evidence to justify the seizure of the goods on the ground of fraud.
– I did not say that-
– My honorable friend said, “ We cannot get evidence to prosecute.”
– Not to prosecute ; T never said anything about seizing the goods.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Why do not the Government seize the goods, and give the men an opportunity of defending, themselves? Why can they not get evidence to prosecute? They prosecuted in the fish cases, and got a conviction, although the source of evidence was in New Zealand. They prosecuted in other cases, and had to get the evidence in London.
– How long, would that take?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.It does not matter how long it takes, justice has to be done. When we talk about the credit of the Commonwealth being affected abroad toy various pieces of legislation, that is a mere bagatelle compared with the stain which’ is left upon the reputation of the Commonwealth if it gets abroad that it fails to do justice. I hope that the Minister of Defence will forgive me - I do not know whether he felt annoyed by what I said in reference to Senator Gray’s remark that the evidence was net good enough to> hang a cat.
– If my honorable friend felt hurt, I withdraw the remark. I hope that this discussion will serve the purpose of placing the Senate in the position it ought to take, of seeing that justice is clone in the Commonwealth, and that if there is a suspicion of absence of fair play in the administration of the Customs Act, at any rate’ the Senate will not remain silent.
– So far the criticism of the action of the Minister of Customs has come from freetraders. I propose to / speak as a protectionist. When an extraordinary and arbitrary power is conferred upon the Minister of Trade and Customs, such as is conferred by section 160 of the Customs Act, he_ ought to take the greatest possible care not to allow his fiscal prejudice to overcome him. To me, as a business man, it would seem that there was justification for an- increase in the invoice price of these articles; but, in my opinion, the Minister, in making that increase, went to the other extreme. As regards an article which I understand is sold on terms of long credit at j£&5, one would think that between ^40 and £50 would be a fair invoice price in the country of manufacture. If the Minister will inquire as to the selling prices of articles which are sold under similar conditions, pianos, for instance, he will find just as great disparity between the selling and invoice prices. It seems to me that in raising the value by one jump from ^38 10s. to £65, he took a step which requires a great deal of justification on his part. Although my instincts are in a protectionist direction, still I can hardly consider that the Minister was well or fairly advised by his officer. I consider that, in acting as he did, he rather l courted criticism of this kind, and laid himself open to the accusation of trying, without consulting Parliament, to introduce a more extreme protectionist policy. I like everything to be done in a straightforward way, and if we are going to have a protectionist policy for Australia, let it be introduced by Act of Parliament, and not bv the whim, caprice, or prejudice of the Minister.
– The Minister of Defence, in addressing himself to this matter, seemed to lay some stress on the fact that a previous Minister had seen fit to raise the duty ; and he appeared to think that that was some jus tification for the action of his colleague in raising the valuation on the present occasion.
– No; but I said that the action of my colleague in not prosecuting the company for fraud was the same as the action of his predecessor in the Department.
– I understood the honorable senator to use the argument as a proof that the goods were under valued, because the previous Minister had seen fit to raise the valuation. To my mind’, the whole matter tests on this - whether the action of the Minister was justified on the evidence then before him. No one disputes the power conferred by the Customs Act. No one disputes that it is the duty of the Minister to carry out that Act, and to take any action which may be necessary for the protection- of the revenue. I start from- that. But what I do say, is that the obligation rests upon the Minister to getfull and sufficient facts before he takes any action, drastic or otherwise. The whole question seems to be as to whether the facts were sufficient to justify the action which the Minister took. We have an assurance from a gentleman, for whose smartness the Minister of Defence vouches, that up to the 6th of October last the valuation of these machines was considered to be sufficient and satisfactory. Only one thing happened after that date which could throwany doubt on the satisfactoriness of the valuation. That was the ‘appearance of Mr. McKay upon the scene. And it does appear to me that the evidence presented by that gentleman should absolutely have prevented any Minister from taking any action whatever. Mr. McKay presented a copy of a letter. The very fact that it was a copy would have barred it from being received anywhere else. Suppose there had been a Select Committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into a matter affecting any one’s interest. Would that Committee have received a copy of a letter, especially as it came from a man who was per.sonally interested? The Select Committee would have said, “ We cannot accept that ; if you wish to make us acquainted with the things contained in that letter, you must bring some substantial proof.” I do not impute that Mr. McKay’s motives were bad. No doubt he was interested, and people who are interested are generally biased - it may be unconsciously. It is reasonable to assume that Mr. McKay is also biased. In all good faith, no doubt he brought forward a copy of a letter, and that was the only thing the Minister had before him in determining to increase the valuation of the harvesters. I say that that was absolutely insufficient.
– That is not all ; there was plenty of correspondence between the manufacturers and the Collector of Customs.
– What manufacturers ?
– James, May, Martin.
– The only evidence disclosed is to the effect that a copy of a letter was presented, and that as a result of that the Department - moved by what I regard as absolutely fair and proper considerations - indited a’ letter to the Massey-Harris Company, containing certain statements. The Department said to the company, “ We ask you to show us reasons why we should not increase the value of your harvesters.” Here, I cannot help saying, comes in the element which I do not like about the whole transaction - the appearance of a growth of departmental lobbying. We have one of the papers marked with a note, to the effect that the letter from the Department to the Massey-Harris Company should “ stand over until Mr. McKay had seen Mr. Smart,” the Collector. It may have been a perfectly innocent interview which took place between those two persons, but it suggests the early stages of a practice of interested parties interviewing the Customs officials in a way which they should not do. Why should that letter have stood over until Mr. McKay saw Mr. Smart?
– No one ever interviews the Customs officers, except interested parties.
– That letter was a fair intimation to the Massey-Harris Company that they were to put their side of the case before the authorities. What had lhat to do with Mr. McKay? It was an action taken in accordance with every principle that I hold to be fair and right and just. An accusation has been made, and the company accused ought to have been given an opportunity to say what they had to say in reply.
– It was not Mr. McKay alone ; there were others.
– Does it make it any better if there was a perfect army of rivals to the Massey-Harris Company ? Whywas the opportunity to the Massey-Harris
Company to state their case to stand over until the officer had seen a rival manufacturer ?
– The Department gave the Massey-Harris Company an opportunity, as is shown by the correspondence.
– I come back to my starting point that it is an absolute obligation on the Minister whether he is a freetrader or a protectionist to exercise to the full all the powers conferred by the section of the Act, but he ought to see that there is sufficient evidence to justify his action, and, above all things, he ought to see that when he receives evidence from persons who are distinctly interested, other parties who are also interested have an opportunity to state their case. It seems to me that the Minister, in this instance - probably with the best of motives - has been moved by evidence quite insufficient to justify the drastic action which he has taken. Above all, the information placed before the Senate goes to show that it appears that the Minister has taken that action without extending to the Massey-Harris Company the ordinary - T will not say courtesy ; but absolutely the right to place their view before the Department, and to bring under notice the facts that they allege in justification of the value placed bv them upon their goods.
– I think we have had abundant evidence this afternoon to show that the Minister of Trade and Customs acted in the most arbitrary way in raising the price of harvesters.
– He has not raised their price.
– He “ has raised their price for purposes of Customs valuation. It is to be regretted that anything of that sort should be done out here at the present moment ; because just now in England, the place from which we have borrowed money, and from which we still propose to borrow money, there is a very strong prejudice against the way in which legislation is passed and administered in the Commonwealth. Numbers of cases have been put before the English public in an extremely exaggerated form, and have acted very largely to the prejudice of Australia.
– Acting honestly will not prejudice Australia.
– But acting hastily ‘and in an arbitrary manner, affecting the rights of individuals in their property - these things, when set out in England as things done in the Commonwealth, will redound to our prejudice. 1 again 97 tha.t an Australian Commonwealth Minister ought to be extremely careful in his action in these matters. The reason why it seems to me to be abundantly clear that the Minister was not sure of his ground when he acted in this way is to be found in the point suggested by Senator Pearce. Under section 161 of the Customs Act, the Minister had a right to seize these goods if he considered that they were under valued, to sell them for what they could bring in the market, and to appropriate for revenue purposes the proceeds of the sale above the amount of the valuation.
– That means selling them by a forced sale.
– Exactly ; and that would give the true market value of the machines, apart from what has to be charged when they are sold on terms of five or ten years’ credit. The Minister had a right to put these machines up for auction, and to pay the importers the price which they said they were worth, plus 10 per cent, for Customs purposes.
– The Minister need not even have sold them bv auction.
– No, he could have sold them in any way he chose. That has been done by the Customs Department in some other cases.
– And the Department has done very well out of it.
– It has done extremely well. The Customs officers obviously knew that the machines would not fetch on the market the price at which they were valued for Customs purposes.
– Does the honorable senator know of any harvesters that have been sold for less than ^90?
– I do not intend to debate that point. T. merely say that the Customs had a right to take the machines and sell them at a profit if they could. The honorable senator’s interjection accentuates my argument. If harvesters had not been sold for less than ^90, it makes it all the easier for the Customs Department to sell these machines at a profit. But the honorable senator knows as well as I do that he is not correct in his statement, and that the Customs do not dare to make a seizure because they think the goods will be sold at a loss. I will leave that point, and consider how this injustice can be remedied. I take it that that is the object of Senator Pulsford’s motion. I am glad to know that the injustice will remedy itself under the operation of the Customs Act. We can see for ourselves on which side justice lies, provided that we take good care that the Customs place no obstacles in the way of justice being done y and that 1 presume honorable senators on both sides will be prepared to do. Under section 158, the owner of property which has been valued for Customs purposes in excess of the amount, which he believes he ought to pay duty on, has a right to refuse the duty demanded. That, 1 presume, will be the action taken by the Massey-Harris Company. They will refuse to pay the duty, and the Customs Department will then be obliged to sell the goods. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that the Act itself provides a remedy for the grievance which has been, brought under our notice, very properly, by Senator Pulsford; and we should be wasting time if we proceeded with this debate any further.
– It is all very well for Senator Matheson to say that we are wasting time in proceeding with this debate, but the matter which has been brought under our notice is of considerable importance. It is not a matter of a day. Correspondence has been proceeding for the last eighteen months. I myself eighteen months ago called attention to the fa$t that the harvester was an Australian, invention, belonging to the workmenof Australia, not to any individual ; that copies of it were being bought in the Commonwealth, sent to America, and werethere absolutely being, pirated, sent back to Australia, and sold at a price that the Australian workman could not compete with.
– Was the invention patented ?
– Unfortunately it was not patented. As far back as t86o the South Australian Government offered’ a bonus of ^1,000 for the invention of a satisfactory harvester.
– It was in the fifties,. I believe, before the diggings broke out.
– At any rate, itwas about i860. The machines sent in were not perfect in any instance, but a number of them showed such merit that it was decided to give a bonus on each. Amongst the machines was the Ridley stripper, which has absolutely formed theground work for every similar machine subsequently invented in Australia. This- stripper is not applicable to many countries outside Australia; and it was the workmen, and not Mr. McKay, Mr. Martin, or any other employer, who invented the harvester, and brought it to its present perfection. At the present time there is a great attempt on the part of the Vanderbilts, the Standard Oil Company, and other American capitalists to exploit Australia with agricultural implements ; and I do not think that there is a single honorable senator, whether he be a free-trader or a protectionist, who is prepared to say that such a position tends to the benefit of Australian agriculturists. The Standard Oil Company, i who are really the harvester company, admit that they have command of 90 per cent, of the trade in agricultural implements in the United States and Canada.
– They claim to have 90 per cent, of the trade of the world.
– Whatever their position is, they are now attempting to capture the Australian market, and the question arises whether they can be said to be legitimately trading with the Commonwealth. The papers which have been laid on the Library table all go to show that certain people are presenting invoices which are not true. I asked the Collector of Customs some eighteen months ago to inform me as to the prices at which the goods sent by this combination of capitalists are placed on the wharfs of Australia. Personally, I went round to various retailers, and ascertained that harvesters, which are sold in the western districts of Victoria and South Australia at ^90. are paying duty on only £$8. Senator Pulsford will, I think, admit that, even considering the commission to agents and the cost of advertising, this is too much profit.
– What terms do the company give?
– Any terms; the Standard Oil Company, which is the harvester union of the United States, have several banks behind them.
– Has the profit made anything to do with levying the duty?
– Is profit no indication of value?
– Not always. Take pills, for instance.
– Or soap, for instance.
– I think Senator Pulsford makes a mistake in springing a question of this importance on the Senate. Notice of motion ought to have been given, so as to permit honorable senators to obtain the information necessary in a debate of the kind. The papers, which have been laid, not on the table of the House, but on the table of the .Library, include a number which I cannot decipher, though I am able to read the hand-writing of most people. My contention is that honorable senators ought not to be asked to come to a decision until they have fully grasped the whole of the facts. This is an Australian invention, and the workmen of Australia, if anybody, should have the benefit of it.
– Why ‘did they not patent the invention ?
– Patent be hanged ! Why does the honorable senator not copyright the chunks of wisdom of which he is the author, instead of allowing them to go freely abroad for the benefit of the community? This is not a question of the harvester alone; there has also to be considered the matter of the stump-jump plough, which no one, I think, will deny is also an Australian invention.
– Does the honorable senator think that the stump-jump plough has anything to do with the question before the Senate?
– I think we are now on the question of agricultural implements.
– The debate is confined to the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs in raising the valuation of harvesters.
– I believe that every honorable senator desires to assist the Australian farmer, and to remove any anomaly or injustice there may be in connexion with the supply of agricultural implements.
– We want the Australian farmer to get his implements as cheaply as possible.
– We want the farmer to get his implements as cheaply as possible consistent with the interests of the Commonwealth generally. The letter which has been referred to to-day, and which was sent from a gentleman in Italy to the makers of the harvester in Victoria, contains a lying paragraph that was published in the American press, and copied by the Italian press, to the effect that the Sunshine
Harvester Company had gone out of existence.
– I ask whether the honorable senator is in order in drawing attention to matters quite outside the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs. The honorable senator is now referring to reports which were spread as to the local works having been closed.
– I did not catch what Senator Guthrie said. The question before us, and the only question we can debate, is the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs in raising, the valuation of harvesters. I cannot say that Senator Guthrie is out of order. But the Standing Orders allow an honorable senator to occupy only fifteen minutes on a motion of this sort, and Senator Guthrie’s time has expired.
– I wish to raise a protest, seeing that other honorable senators have exceeded fifteen minutes with their remarks.
– I do not think so, because the clerks have recorded the time occupied by each speaker. The honorable senator alone has exceeded the limit.
.I should have liked more than a quarter of an hour to have my little say upon this matter, which I consider one of very great importance. It should be considered apart from the fiscal question altogether, but I am afraid that is impossible.
– I do not think the honorable senator ought to discuss the fiscal question.
– I do not propose to do so, but I shall try, so far as I can, to show that the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs has been arbitrary, and in my view, unfair. I feel sure that the real valuation of imported harvesters is not ,£40, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, and Mr. McKay, should have known that it is impossible that the cost could be ,£65. The nature of the business which Massey - Harris, and other importers of similar goods are conducting in the Commonwealth, is such that they cannot carry on such a business without a considerable margin of profit between manufacturing and selling price. Their system carries with it a great risk, a great interest charge, and a number of other expenses which amount to a very considerable sum. The Massey-Harris Company has planted their goods throughout Australia upon a system which I hope has been profitable to themselves, but which I know has certainly been profitable to the producers. They have distributed their goods on such conditions that often in the first instance no cash at all has been received, and in many cases they have not been paid any cash for two or three years, that is in bad seasons. They have run a very great risk in a plucky manner, and 1 believe the result of their enterprise has been that we have at present a larger area of land under cultivation than we should otherwise have had. Whilst they have taken this pluckyrisk, and assumed a heavy burden of interest on money for several years, they have had to face also a number of bad debts.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know what bad debts have to do with the increased valuation of imported harvesters ?
– As a matter of fact, I do not think that the price at which the article is sold has anything to do with the question, but it has already been refered to by a great many speakers.
– Then I can refer to it also?
– I suppose so. Other honorable senators have referred to it, but if the Standing Orders were strictly complied with, I do not think it could be held to have anything to do with the matter. The question really is as to the value of the article when it reaches our shores.
– I contend that it is impossible to arrive at a proper valuation of these articles unless we take into consideration the manner in which they are distributed. Some honorable senators have referred to the profit that is made upon them, and they contend that the difference between £90 the selling price, and £38 the invoice price, is so large as to make it improbable that these implements could have been manufactured for £38. I therefore contend that the conditions under which- the goods are sold have a material bearing upon the question. The Customs Department have based their valuation of ^65 on evidence secured in a secondhand way, and apparently on the ground that these goods are invoiced elsewhere at £65. If it can be shown that the valuation of £6$ is absolutely out of the question, in view of the charges which must be faced by those distributing the goods, that is clearly very pertinent to the question under consideration. I am certain that the Minister who has fixed the valuation at * £65* must have taken these matters into consideration. I cannot see how he could do otherwise. There is another question to be considered, and that is whether we are doing justice to important firms, who, in the days gone by, have, as we believe, conducted their business in the Commonwealth under fair conditions, and to the advantage of our producers. It must be remembered that Massey-Harris and other firms have a credit and good, name to sustain, and if the authorities 6T the Customs Department, on quite insufficient evidence, assert that these films have been deliberately invoicing their goods at from 50 to 60 per cent, below their true valuation, that is a serious charge to make against firms having a character to maintain.
– Did they not invoice these goods at ^29 ?
– There is some difference between ^29 and .£38; but there is a very much greater difference between .£38 and * £65.* Altered conditions of manufacture might, in a few years, materially decrease the cost of production ; but surely altered conditions in this case cannot account for an increase in cost of production from ^38 to” ^65 ? As I have already said, the valuation of .£65 has been arrived at on evidence on which it would not be safe to hang a cat. I consider the matter from a business point of view. We should do what we can to create a feeling of confidence in those who do business with us. If the Massey-Harris Company have been deliberately placing their goods upon this market at a valuation of 50 per cent, below their true value, they have knowingly and deliberately robbed the Commonwealth, and for that they deserve punishment. But if, on the other hand, they have not done that, it is cowardly on the part of the Government to deliberately brand them with dishonesty without affording them an opportunity to fully meet the charge. I say that it is cowardly on the part of the Minister, and also on the part of Mr. McKay. I have met Mr. McKay, and I know him to be an able man. He is not a fool by any means. He must know that these harvesters do not cost £65 to the Massey-Harris Company, as if they did they would have to increase their charges here, and could not carry on their business, as they are now doing, and have done in years gone bv. Mr. McLean, the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, has stated that he took every means in his power to find out the actual cost of these machines when landed in this market. He applied to the Government officials in Canada for information, and although he admits a strong bias as a protectionist, he has said that he feels .that the invoice price quoted by the importers is a fair price, and he could not see his way to increase their valuation. Yet almost at a moment’s notice and without any sufficient evidence, entirely different action is taken. Mr. McLean says that having read the further evidence on the subject, he still retains the opinion he previously held. If it is a question of believing Mr. McLean or Sir William Lyne, I can tell who the people of New South Wales will be prepared to believe.
– Another insinuation.
– It is a reflection upon Mr. McLean to say that, good protection ist as he is, his word should not be taken in this matter on the facts placed before him.
– The honorable senator means that the New South Wales people would prefer to believe Victorians.
– That is so honestly in this case, though, perhaps, I should not have said it if the honorable senator had not brought it out. This is not a question of free-trade or protection. Personally, I am a free-trader ; but I would prefer to see the manufacture of every article in Australia placed under fair and equitable conditions in the interests of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. We are here to do justice, and we are not here to consent to a false valuation being put upon these goods. 1. believe that the present Minister of Trade and Customs now knows that he has placed an unfair valuation upon them. Why has the honorable gentleman taken this action? I shall leave it to honorable senators to decide, because I am not allowed to draw the inference. I do ask honorable senators in future to be very careful not to allow the legislation of the Federal Parliament to be interfered with by any Minister under similar circumstances. It has been said that we might have a free-trade Minister who would do the same kind of thing. T can speak feelingly on this matter, because something similar took place in New South Wales as affecting the firm with which I am connected, and we should have lost £12,000 on goods on the water, if a protectionist, in the person of Sir Edmund Barton, had not come forward in a plucky manner to defend us against the New South Wales Minister of Customs of thatday.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss that matter.
– I do not wish to occupy any more time than is necessary to express my regret that any Minister should take it upon himself to neutralize the will of Parliament, not by increasing a valuation by 5, or 10, or 15 per cent., which might be done under certain conditions, but by charging a firm with robbery, and with knowingly placing on the market goods invoiced on a false basis.
– Have they not a redress at law if he is wrong?
– Have not the Customs a redress at law? Can they not seize the goods, and charge the firm with understating invoice prices for the last four years? Why have they not the courage to take that step, and let the firm have a chance to defend themselves ? I happen to know the firm,and I venture to say that there is not a more reputable one in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator has. now exceeded the time which is allowed by the standing order.
– Some of us have been placed in a rather unfair position by this discussion being sprung upon the Senate. We have not had an opportunity to look into this very important question. To my mind, it is really a motion of want of confidence in the Minister of Trade and Customs. It has been made quite clear that Mr. Kingston, when Minister of Customs, was not a bit too strict. Sometimes I thought he was, but now I consider that he was not It appears that these harvesters were imported at an invoice price of£29. The importers now say that they did not know their value, and they have agreed to accept the value of£38 10s., plus 10 per cent, without making a protest. The company were landing their harvesters in the Argentine Republic at a value of£41, although the distance to thatcountry from Canada was only a third of the distance to Australia.
– The freight is not lower.
– Did it cost£7 more to bring them here?
– Senator Millen, with his usual keenness, has pointed out that the Minister took the advice of Mr. McKay, and others, whom he called rivals in trade here. I wonder whom the Minister of Trade and Customs would consult but the man who makes the machines?
– I certainly should not go to a rival manufacturer and take an exparte statement.
– A man would not go to a boiler-maker, or a lawyer, or a journalist, but to the man who makes the machines. On a question relating to boots, the Minister would most likely consult a boot manufacturer. Even if men are manufacturers, they are not all liars. I have no doubt that some honest men can be found amongst manufacturers as well as amongst importers. The manufacturerscould not be very much worse than the Massey-Harrisi Company. It was also insinuated that Mr. McKay has a factory at Ballarat. This very unworthy insinuation was intended as a reflection upon the Prime Minister, who represents that city. The honorable senator who made the comment did not know what he was talking about, for Mr. McKay’s biggest factory is at Braybrook, about eight miles from Melbourne, where his head office is. At all events, this discussion has done some ‘good. It has opened the eyes of the public to whatthey have to pay for imported articles. We have heard that these harvesters have been invoiced at£29, and sold to the public at£89. Those of us who were not “in the know,” have been called upon to discuss this question at a great disadvantage. Other honorable senators, knowing that it was to be raised, have been reading the documents in the Library. The Minister said that it was only five minutes before the Senate met that he was made acquainted with the intention of Senator Pulsford. I shall vote against the motion which, I repeat, is really one of want of confidence in the Minister of Trade and Customs. This is, I think a very serious accusation to make against that honorable gentleman, and this is not the place to make it in. If he has been wrongly advised, he will have to put up with the consequences. I presume that the importers have aremedy.
– There is no remedy.
– If there is no remedy. there ought to be if the importers have been unjustly or unfairly treated. At the same time, I think they would not care about applying for a remedy. Although Senator Mulcahy, as a business man, has estimated (he fair invoice price of these machines at between£40and£50, yet the Massey-Harris Company have been invoicing them at£29, and did not open their lips when the value was increased by the late Minister to£3810s. They knew perfectly well that they had been undervaluing the goods.
– Swindling !
– It cannot be called anything else.
– They could not help themselves.
– They entered no protest.
– They did.
-Why are they protesting now if they cannot help themselves? They could have protested then in the same way as they are doing now - through honorable senators.
– And the moment we do the honorable senator says that it is sprung upon him.
– Because this is the wrong way of introducing the matter. I quite recognise that Senator Pulsford, and those who share his view, are acting within their rights, but I submit that an important matter, involving the action of the Minister, should have been given notice of, so that we could all have posted ourselves up in the facts before we began to speak and, what is still more to the purpose, to vote.
– The leader of the Free-trade Party on the other side accused the Minister of Trade and Customs of being guilty of the heinous crime of favoring the local manufacturer as against the foreign manufacturer. In the estimation of honorablesenators opposite, it is a heinous crime for any one to favour his own countryman.
– Does the honorable senator admit the favour?
– I do not admit anything. I do not want any favours to be granted to anybody, but when it becomes a question of favour, if it ever does, a man is to be commended for favoring his own countryman rather than the foreigner. In the estimation of honorable senators opposite, it is a heinous crime for any man to be guilty of such an extraordinary thing as looking with favour on the manufacturer in his own country. The Minister of Trade and Customs took action which was absolutely essential to carry out the law. What are the facts? For a very considerable time harvesters were being imported at an invoice price of£29, and sold from one end of Australia to the other at £90. That is an extraordinary state of affairs. If these people can get £90 for their harvesters they should not object to pay duty on an invoice price of£65, and to take a very reasonable profit. Senator Gould states that Mr. McKay and other colonial manufacturers sell their harvesters at the same price. Undoubtedly they do, but they do not contend that theirs cost them only£29, whereas the foreign manufacturers do, and claim that it is a very fair value. Mr. McKay says that the machines cannot be manufactured for less than from £60 to£65. He does not pretend that they can be manufactured for£29.
– He knows better than that.
– The honorable senator must allow Mr. McKay to be the best judge of his own business and to know what he is talking about. It has been urged by Senator Gould, and others on his side, that if the Minister were justified in taking this step he should have instituted a prosecution against the men who were formerly sending in these machines at an invoice value of £29. because they were guilty of fraud. Why did not their own pet Minister, Mr. McLean, take that course when he raised the invoice price from £29 to£3810s. ? Not one word did they say about his action, but as scon as a Minister comes in, who is not of their particular colour, they seize every opportunity to trv to heap obloquy upon him. What has he done? He has simply exercised the powers with which he was invested by Parliament for the protection of Australian manufacturers.
– For the protection of the revenue.
– And for the protection of the revenue.
– The power was not given to the Minister for that purpose, but to enable him to prevent fraud on the part of importers and others.
– I take it that as the Tariff was, to a certain extent, protectionist in its nature and incidence, the power was also given to the Minister for the purpose of seeing that the Australian manufacturer was not imposed upon by unfair competition. What is the evidence on which the Minister has acted ? It is said by honorable senators opposite that Mr. McLean, when Minister, was justified in increasing the invoice price. But they seem to have forgotten that a con- siderable amount of evidence has been gathered since Mr. McLean left office. Is not the present Minister of Trade and Customs justified in dealing with the facts placed before him, just as Mr. McLean was? Evidently not, according to honorable senators opposite. A Minister who is not in a Government which they support is to be tied hand and foot, but a Minister belonging to their Government is allowed to do as he pleases. What does the evidence show? Can we have better evidence than the statements of the firms themselves? Here is a letter written by the MasseyHarris Company to a gentleman at Milan, in Italy -
London, 3rd April, 1905.
Mr. W. De Haan, Milan.
We are in receipt of your favour of 1st inst., and are sending, under separate cover, copy of our English catalogue giving description of stripper-harvester. We have sold large numbers of this machine in Australia and South America. As you no doubt understand, this machine can only be used in warm, dry climates where the grain is ready to be threshed before or as soon as it is cut. So far, we have not introduced them in Europe, as, unless in the extreme south, we are doubtful if the climatic conditions would be suitable. We have, however, arranged for two or three to be tried this year in Algeria and Tunis, and there is also one at present on the way from the works for Italy. Messrs. DelPeloPardi and Co. have arranged for it to be tried in June next in the southern part of Italy. If you are interested in this machine, and would care to be present at these trials, we shall be pleased to advise you later as to exact date when they will take place. The machine is manufactured in two sizes, viz.,4½ comb and 5 comb. Prices would be as follows : -4½ comb stripper-harvester complete,£65; 5 comb ditto, £67; delivered in cases c.i.f., Genoa or Naples.
Yours truly, (Sgd.) Massey-Harris Co. Ltd.
Can anything be plainer than that? Remember that the Minister was entitled to take their own valuation, plus 10 per cent. But the Minister’s decision was that the machine should be valued at £65, including the 10 per cent. He has accepted a lower valuation than thefirm itself put upon the machine, although the£65 was their price quoted for delivery at a place -where the freight would be considerably less than to Australia. What could we have which more amply justifies the Minister’s action, than the fact that the firm itself valued the machine for delivery in another part of the world at exactly the price at which it is valued by the Customs for duty in Australia? I approve of what the Minister has done, and I shall also vote against the motion, because I believe that it is a veiled attempt to thrust a dagger into the present Government by honorable senators opposite. If we were to have a discussion of this nature on so important a matter, it should have been on a proper occasion, and not on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate. An honorable senator who desired to go into the subject fully could not do so in the limited time at his disposal, when the Senate is considering such a motion. For my own part, I believe that if the Minister were to pursue his inquires with regard to other imports of a similar nature, he would find cause to justify him in takingequally drastic action with’ regard to some other goods. I trust that the Customs authorities will be particularly vigilant in future to see that the revenue is not defrauded, and that Australian manufacturers are not subjected to unfair competition from people who have no conscience at all when they are sending goods to this country.
– I am glad that this opportunity has been afforded toplace before the public of Australia the true position with respect to the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs. We have heard to-day that the Minister took evidence from one side only. But it is clear that he had evidence from the importers, which showed him that the harvesters had previously been undervalued for Customs purposes. The evidence from Senator Pulsford’ s side was that the value was£38 10s. That was found to be absolutely unreliable. Senator Styles put the matter very clearly when he said, in justifying the action of the Minister in obtaining evidence, that he would not go to a tootmaker if he wanted to know the value of a clock, nor would Senator Gray go to a carpenter to find out the value of lifeboat soap. He wouldgo to a soapmaker or to a washerwoman. That is what the Minister did. He went to the people who knew something about the manufacture of this class of machinery.
– I should want to use my own judgment after I had heard the evidence.
– Has the Minister no judgment of his own? Is all the wisdom of Australia to be found in the admirable noddle of the honorable senator? Does he think that no one else has any judgment in this country but himself and Senator Pulsford? Let us inquire what Senator Pulsford did. According to his own admission, when he heard about this matter he hurried off in a secret manner - not telling any honorable senator what he was going to do - to the representative of the Massey-Harris Company, in Sydney. I do not know whether the meeting took place in the dusk of the evening, or whether it was quite dark. Certainly, the honorable senator did not advertise the fact. When he came to Melbourne he hurried off in an equally secret manner to the representative of the Massey-Harris Company in this city. Then he comes to the Senate, and talks about taking one-sided evidence from interested parties. Why did not Senator Pulsford give Senator Styles, Senator Trenwith, and myself, who are pronounced protectionists, fair warning that he intended to bring this matter forward? We could have gone to Mr. McKay, or to James Martin and Company, or to some other manufacturer, or to the Massey-Harris Company to get information of a similar character. But he has sprung the whole affair on us. I gather, from the statement of Senator Pearce, and from other honorable senators opposite, that in their opinion the Minister should have taken the same course of action with respect to these machines as he took with respect to some Japanese fancy goods that were suspected to be undervalued. But there is a vast difference between seizing a quantity of fancy good’s of that, description and seizing machinery like harvesters. Fancy goods can be sold anywhere at very little cost; but machinery and articles of high value require agencies in different parts of the country for their sale.
– That is what the Massey-Harris people say.
– If the Government are to do what the other implement makers are doing, and are to establish agencies for the sale of such machinery, I shall have no objection ; but otherwise they could not expect to secure a sale for the goods.
– If they were offered for sale the manufacturers would buy them and make a good profit.
– We know how these things are arranged. The honorable senator himself, who is a shrewd business, man, would know what to do in his owu business in such a matter. But if the Minister does not take action under section 161,. the aggrieved company, as has been pointed, out, can take action under section 158. If the Government are compelled to take these goods they will also have to be prepared to distribute them all over the country and. be in a position to get a proper price for them - something like the price that theMasseyHarris Company and other machine manufacturers obtain. If Senator Pulsford wishes to force the Government into that position I am with him all the time. Then the Government will be able to make as. handsome a profit as any importing company can do now. Did the Governmentseize the fish in the recent fish prosecution ? I should think not. But, as Senator Gray has said, whoever is Minister of Trade and Customs is subject to the advice of theofficers! acting under him, and if those officers think that the Commonwealth is going to make a good bargain, or do a right thing in following a certain course of action, the Minister would be very foolish in not taking their advice. I should like to point out to those who thiink thev are striking a blow at the Minister of Trade and Customs that thev are making a very great mistake. Thev are not striking at the Minister but at the Comptroller of Customs,. Dr. Wollaston. All over Australia, the integrity, the ability, and the honesty of that gentleman is recognised, and neither Senator Pulsford, Senator Gray, nor any oneelse will be prepared to throw doubts uponhis good qualities.
– No one tried to discredit him.
– They did what Senator Symon does sometimes. He said to-day that the evidence would not hang theleader of the Government, and then he added, in his nice manner, “ not that he did anything to deserve hanging.” That is theway with people who pretend they are going to do you a service, but who give you a slapon the ear, and then suggest that you takecastor oil to cure the hurt. I do not appreciate tactics of that description ; and, in my opinion, there is just as much honesty on this side of the House as on theother. I believe the Minister of Trade and Customs is acting in the interests of the revenue, and of the people of Australia;: and I, like other honorable senators, will certainly oppose the motion.,
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I should like to say a few words in reply. It has been suggested by Senator McGregor that I desire to depreciate the services of Dr. Wollaston ; but I can assure honorable senators that I have no such thought or intent. If honorable senators will refer to a statement which I made some time ago, when dealing with Customs matters, they will find that I there expressed a very high opinion of that gentleman. Since then I have had opportunities to see Dr. Wollaston on various’ occasions; and amongst my notes this evening, is one to remind me to say that I personally have the highest belief in his integrity, fairness, and ability.
– And the Minister of Trade and Customs appears to have a similar belief.
– I should be quite willing to trust Dr. Wollaston to deal with any matter pertaining to myself, always providing I was satisfied that he was fully seised of all the facts. Honorable senators, who have gone through the departmental papers, cannot fail to see that those from the hands of Dr. Wollaston have been written under great pressure; and it is impossible for a man to be Comptroller of Customs with a Tariff such as we possess, and not to have the greatest demands made upon his time and thought. I am certain that if any man in Australia is sick of the very name of harvester, it is Dr. Wollaston, I was verv) careful in introducing the motion, to bring my remarks up to the point at which Mr. McLean, the late Minister, fixed the duty on a basis of £38. Since that time, the letter already referred to has been received from somebody in Italy, and on that letter the whole of the action has been taken. I also pointed out that the local manufacturers were consulted, but that, although a letter was drafted to the Massey-Harris Company, asking them to show cause why the assessment should not be raised, the letter was never sent. The first time the Massey-Harris Company knew of the assessment being raised was when they received a letter informing them that in future duty would have to be paid on a valuation of £65 ; yet during several weeks preceding the officers of Customs had been in consultation with Mr. McKay. That is neither English nor Australian justice. The Massey-Harris Company ought to have been afforded an, opportunity to give evi dence, or make a statement, just as Mr. McKay was able to do ; and I am sure every honorable senator will agree with me in that view. We have heard some very remarkable statements this afternoon about the price of these harvesters. One or two honorable senators have talked about Americans and attempts to ruin *the Australian trade ; and yet, in the same breath, they have contended that extraordinary prices are obtained for imported harvesters. If those high prices have been obtained, the local manufacturers are not being unfairly competed with or having their businesses ruined. There is not a word of evidence that any attempt is being made by the Massey-Harris Company to use their great advantages for the purpose of ruining the local manufacturers. Senator Guthrie has several times interjected that imported harvesters are sold at £90; and I dare say some have been disposed of at that figure ; but the ordinary price is, I believe, £81. No doubt, when those implements have to go to far distant places, say, in Western Australia, where railway freights are heavy, the price may run up to £90.
– The price there is £108.
– I can imagine that that may be the price in the far interior of Western Australia.
– No. at Fremantle.
– The implements are sold generally at £81, and the return, after the canvassers’ commission is deducted, is reduced to £73. Then the firm keep a staff of men, whose duty it is to travel and keep the machines in order, and teach farmers how to use them. I believe that the firm undertake to keep the machines in order during the whole of one season ; and that, of course, involves considerable expense. The machines which are quoted as costing £38, reached, under the old duty, a price of £58; and the difference between that amount and £73 is only £15. When interest on delayed payments, and expenditure involved in sending inspectors and instructors around the country, are considered, there is very little margin. Everything goes to show that it would have been only right and proper to call on the MasseyHarris Company for a full and explicit statement before this wonderful change was made in the duty - a change so drastic as to amount to a charge of f fraud, which ought not to be disposed of in the way adopted by the Minister. I again suggest that the facts show reason why the decision of the
Minister of Trade and Customs requires reconsideration. The question having been debated, Iask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper : -
Pursuant to the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 - Statutory Rules 1904, No.81 ; Statutory Rules, 1905, Nos. 36, 37,38, 40, and 44.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
As the New Hebrides are under the joint control of Great Britain and France, is it the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill this session to place the British settlers in the New Hebrides in an equally advantageous position with their fellow French settlers, by allowing the importation of their produce into the Commonwealth on equally favorable terms with those grantedby the Government of New Caledonia to the importations of Island produce into that country by the French settlers of the New Hebrides ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The position of the New Hebrides and of British settlers there is now the subject of communications with the British Government.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Havethe Government any objection to laying upon the table of the Senate a copy of the agreement between the Commonwealth and Messrs. Burns,Philp, and Co., relative to the extension of the Pacific Island Mail Services?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
A draft agreement, covering the extension of the Pacific Island Mail Services, has been prepared by the Crown Solicitor, but its completion has been deferred pending the result of inquiries which the Secretary, Department External Affairs, has been instructed to make as to certain details connected with the British NewGuinea. portion of the service. When this information has been received, and the contract completed, a copy of the agreement will be laid upon the table.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
– Those are not answers to my questions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs -
In reference to the questions asked by Senator Hon. E. Millen re the notices posted on mail boats of the Peninsular and Oriental line in referenceto the duties on ships’ stores, will he also inquire how it is that the same companies charge two or three times the price of liquor of the same kinds on shore, and attribute the same to the action of the Commonwealth Parliament in imposing duties on ships’ stores?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s Question is as follows : -
The arrangements made by the Peninsular and Oriental Company for the conduct of business on board their vessels is not a matter coming’ within the jurisdiction of the Customs, and the information sought can only be obtained through, the personal courtesy of the manager of the company.
Under these circumstances it is considered that the Department should not place itself in the position of interfering with the ship’s arrangements over which it has no control.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will this session introduce a Bill to amend the Judiciary and High Court Procedure Acts in order to define and regulate the sittings of the High Court on the lines of the first draft of the Bill left in print by thelate Government, or on similar or other lines?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows “ -
The Government has not yet dealt with the matter, but it is improbable that a Bill of this character will bc introduced this session.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
When the next Colonial Conference will be held in London, and who will represent the Commonwealth at such Conference?
– -The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If he will table particulars of the fort or battery to be constructed near Hobart, particularly as to -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
Derwent as far south as the Shot Tower, and follow her up past the roadstead to the port of Hobart itself.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Not at all.
– Not at all. Captain Buckley’s report is very clear on the question, and that report will be laid on the table to-morrow.
Motion by Senator Givens (for Senator Higgs) agreed to -
That the Clerk of the Parliaments be authorized to return to the Department of Defence all departmental papers which were used .by the Select Committee of the Senate upon the case of Major Carroll, and to return to Major Carroll all the papers so used.
– I move -
That the evidence taken before a Select Committee of the Senate, which was appointed last session on the subject of the tobacco industry, be laid on the table of the Senate.
I take it that this will be considered almost a formal motion-, but I desire to explain that my object in moving it is that the evidence taken by the Select Committee appointed last session shall become an official paper of the Senate, and that in the event of this motion being carried, it may be referred to the Select Committee asked for in the other motion of which. I have given notice, so that the continuity of the evidence on the question may be preserved.
– One of the reasons stated by Senator Pearce for his motion has induced me to rise to speak to it. I do not think that it is desirable that, if, for any reason, the inquiry of a Select Committee has been stopped, the evidence adduced before it should be made a record of the Senate in the shape of any report. While I am desirous, as are probably other honorable senators, of seeing this evidence, I suggest that it might, be laid on the table without necessarily appearing as an official record of the Senate.
– I understand that all papers laid on the table become part of the records of the Senate. We have a standing order which says that any paper laid on the table shall be retained by the Clerk, and is not to be given up to any one else. We have already this session carried a motion to authorize the Clerk to hand back a paper laid on the table.
– But this need not necessarily be entered amongst the official papers.
– Not unless it is ordered to be printed.
– I Have no objection to Senator Pearce giving us an opportunity to see this evidence, but I have what I think is a proper objection to evidence which has been taken before a Select Committee which has lapsed, and of which we now have no official cognisance, being made a p;trt of the proceedings of the Senate. I think that would be an improperprocedure. Senator Pearce will understand that I have no hostility to his motion.
– I am willing to have the debate on this motion adjourned until the other motion is considered.
– If Senator Pearce does not object, and if I were in order, I should be prepared to move the adjournment of the debate.
-The honorable and learned senator cannot do that now.
– I was afraid that, having spoken. I could not do so.
– I am informed by Mr. Blackmore, the Clerk of the Parliaments, that what is proposed in the motion is in keeping with the invariable practice of the House of Commons. I do not say that that binds the Senate at all, but still it is the practice of the House of Commons in cases of similar nature.
– It appears to me that, if we revive this evidence, we might as well revive something which! occurred years ago. Are we going to adopt the principle that it is competent for us to revive anything which may have lapsed in this way, no matter how long ago ?
– The attitude taken by. honorable senators opposite seems to me to be most extraordinary.
– I object to the honorable senator speaking in that way. I am “ an honorable senator opposite,” and I do not take up the attitude to which he refers.
– I will say “some honorable senators opposite.” The Senate appointed a Select Committee last year to inquire into the question of the tobacco monopoly. The Committee sat upon a number of occasions, took a great deal of evidence, and incurred a considerable amount of expense, and now some honorable senators opposite wish to consign the whole of that evidence to the waste-paper basket, so that the money expended and the information which has been obtained may be wholly lost.
– We might as well go back for vears if we can do this.
– The Senate is entitled to have the results of the labours of its Select Committee placed upon its records. What is suggested appears to me to be a very sorry or doubtful kind of economy. I really do not know what motive is behind this opposition.
– It is a question of the adoption of a principle.
– Would the honorable senator apply the principle referred to in his ownbusiness ? Would he send a man away to one of his Queensland stations to look into his affairs-
-Why does not the honorable senator leave personal matters alone ?
– Pay his expenses, and when he came back refuse to receive any report from him.
– The honorable senator should show some decency. He is always saying something personal.
– Should I be in order in referring to actions of Senator Stewart, which might be creditable, or discreditable, to him?
– I did not refer to any particular action on the part of Senator Fraser. I merely asked a question.
– The honorable senator should avoid personal allusions. They bring discredit on the Chamber.
– I did not refer particularly to anybody.
– The honorable senator referred to Senator Eraser’s occupation outside the Senate.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Clemons has just referred to a statement made by Senator Stewart as being of such a character as to bring discredit on the whole Chamber.
– I gathered that what Senator Clemons said was that personal remarks concerning an honorable senator would bring discredit on the whole Chamber. I do not know that that is out of order. It would perhaps have been as well if it had not been said, but I am not prepared to ask the honorable and learned senator to withdraw it. It is, of course, advisable that honorable senators should make no personal allusions if they can possibly be avoided.
SenatorSTEWART. - I am extremely sorry if I have offended Senator Fraser.
– Not at all. I am on good terms with the honorable senator, and I wish to remain so.
– I had no intention when I spoke of Senator Fraser sending a person away to Queensland to look after his affairs to be in any way personal. I will put the matter in this way : Suppose any company appoints a number of men to look into a particular matter, and make a report upon it, and suppose those men incur expense, and secure evidence, and the company after all this refuses to receive a report from them, what should we say of the business capacity of those managing the company? That is just the position in which some honorable senators opposite are endeavouring to place the Senate, and it isa ridiculous position, but the opposition to the purpose of this motion is so keen, and so intense, that they are prepared tolosenoopportunity to do whatmay prove detrimental to it.
– I do not think there isany opposition. I may perhaps be permitted to refer to the practice of the House of Commons in this matter, because our Standing Orders dealing with Select Committees are almost identical with those of the House of Commons. This, according to May. is the practice of the House of Commons -
When a committee has not completed its inquiries before the end of the session, it is a frequent practice to re-appoint it at the next meeting of Parliament. A committee re-appointed cannot report the evidence taken before the committee in the previous session, except as a paper in the appendix. To obviate that difficulty, on the 29th April, 1852, the House ordered the evidence of the previous session to’ be laid before them ; and, when presented, it was referred to the committee, with leave to report it forthwith.
That is exactly the practice which Senator Pearce asks us to follow.
– And which some honorable senators would smother.
– I do not understand that it is objected to.
– I am strongly in favour of Senator Pearce’s motion, and I just as strongly object to honorable senators on this side being spoken of as though they were unanimous on everything.
– This is a matter in which I am personally very much interested. No member of the Senate has for a longer period taken an interest in the tobacco question
– That is not the question before the Senate. The question is that this evidence be. placed on the table.
– I understand the question is as to the desirability or otherwise of the printing of this evidence.
– There is no opposition to the motion.
– I am not saying whether there is opposition -or not, but I wish to speak to the question before the Senate.
– The question is that this evidence be laid before the Senate, and that has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether the control of the tobacco industry should be assumed by the State.
– I wish to speak in support of the motion, and to give reasons why I think this evidence should be printed. I have for avery long time believed that evidence should be collected on this subject, thatwe might know the merits of the case.
– We are all in favour of that.
- Senator Walker has no more right than has any other honorable senator to speak for all and according to the remarks we have already heard, there are some honorable senators whoare not in favour of that. I was not a member of this Select Committee, and I am particularly anxious to know what evidence was tendered to it. I understand that the
Committee collected a great deal of valuable evidence. And it should be printed and laid before the Senate, in order that we might have something on which to form an opinion on this very important question. For that reason, I hope it will be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with standing order No. 234, f°r proceedings on the Bill, intituled “ A Bill for an Act relating to Assurance on the Lives of Children by Life. Assurance Companies or Societies,” which were interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament on Thursday, the 15th day of December, 1904, be resumed at the stage then reached in connexion with the said “ Bill ; and that the Bill be read a second time this day week. 1 may say that the Bill had reached the first-reading stage in the Senate, but, of course, in another place, it had passed through all its stages. The advantage of reinstating the Bill, which I think is almost non-contentious, although very useful, is that, if it be passed here without amendment, it need not go back to another place. I take it that there will be no opposition to the motion. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Dawson) proposed -
That, in accordance with the most treasured traditions .of British Government and British justice, and for the cementing of the Empire into one harmonious whole, this Senate is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland.
– This seems to me a most extraordinary motion to bring before the Senate. I think that the mover and his seconder, Senator Henderson, might give us a definition of what “Home Rule for Ireland” means. There are several definitions of the term ; some portion of a definition perhaps we can approve of. I understand that it means that Ireland wishes to be a sovereign State, to have a Parliament practically independent of the Imperial Parliament, and to control its own Customs. I am not sure that many do not wish that it shall control even its own army.
– Certain Home Rulers. I have heard Home Rulers speak in a most extraordinary manner.
– Do we not control our own army ?
– Ireland is within twenty-two miles of Scotland, and probably within forty miles of England.
– Ireland wants Home Rule on the lines of Mr. Gladstone’s famous Bill.
– For goodness’ sake, do not feed the honorable senator, because I want to win.
– Senator Dawson will find that he will not win to-day. IfHome Rule simply meant the institution of provincial councils to look after the roads and- bridges, that would be all right. But we know perfectly well that that is not what is wanted. Talk about injustice to Ireland, why, I come from Scotland, which has a population just the same as that of Ireland. In the Imperial Parliament the Scotch have only seventy-two representatives, but the Irish have 105 members, and yet they are not satisfied.
– Nor are the Scotch.
– England is, .historically, merely an appanage of the Scottish Crown. If there is anything known to the world it is that ever since the famine - I think in 1848 - Ireland has had every reasonable treatment from the United Kingdom. The Irish are not troubled with an established church. They enjoy just the same freedom as we do. They have more liberal land laws than other parts of the United Kingdom. Speaking as the executor of a person who left property there, I can give an idea of what the Irish land laws are. For ten years no rent was received from the tenants. When I found that the Irish lawyers were afraid of their agents being shot, I employed’ my brother - a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh - to go over and employ new lawyers. We sent down a man with twenty-five persons, and as soon as we went to get our rent the priest came forward and offered to mediate with the tenants, who had not paid rent for ten years to a widow in Australia. What was done? They offered to pay us four years’ rent, but we have not been paid yet, as the money is still in the Irish Courts. Had we waited two years more before we made the demand, the Irish land laws are so liberal ihat the tenants could have kept the land for all time. That is an illustration of what the Irish land laws are. It is said that the Irish are not treated liberally. Why, in the British
Parliament a Bill was passed by which tenants can buy the landlords’ properties and get advances of money for that purpose. Ever since 1848 the annual receipts from Ireland by the United Kingdom have been less than the annual outlay thereon. We all know that the northern and southern parts of Ireland hold different views an the question of Home Rule. We have heard of Kilkenny cats fighting.
– And so we have of New South Wales and Victoria.
– -The late Lord Beaconsfield, when Mr. Disraeli, did not believe that there was any cure but one for Irish grievances. “ Sink Ireland! under the Atlantic Ocean for twenty-four hours,” lie said, “ and then we would have no more Irish grievances.” I do not agree with his plan. I have a great respect for the Irish people. Three years ago I went to Ireland, which is a most beautiful land, and I admired the people immensely. I may mention that I am married to an Irish lady, and I have good reason to speak well of the Irish ; but much as I love them, I think they are much better off as they, are than they would be under any kind of Home Rule.
– Does not the honorable senator think that they are the best judges o£ that?
– I am glad that the honorable senator has interjected. How would he like the British Parliament to say that we have no right to treat the kanakas as we are doing ? He would say, “ Let the British Parliament mind their own business.”
– The honorable senator wants to make slaves of the kanakas as he would make slaves of the Irish if he had the power.
– The honorable senator is only using a figure of speech’. The Irish are splendid orators, but we do not always believe everything they say. I had no intention to speak to this question, and I hope that some honorable senators will have some remarks to make. We ought, I submit, to be told what is meant by the term “ Home Rule.” Those of us who are married all believe in home rule. Is that the kind of home rule which Senator Dawson wants for Ireland? ?
– One adult, one vote.
– No one has a higher regard for the Irish than I have, but I would not let them go and fight as they would do if they were separated from the mother country. The effect would be to deprive the whole world of a fine fighting race - the very backbone of the ‘British army. Fighting is one of the things at which the Irish are good.
– Is that all they are good for?
– No. In every rank of life the Irish hold their own, but when a certain section of the people does not want Home Rule, how are we in a position to judge?
– What section?
– The people in Ulster, or “ the black north,” as it is called.
– lt is only the people in the north-eastern corner of Ulster who do not want Home Rule, and that is the very place which wished to prevent Queen Victoria from ascending the throne.
– The northern part of Ireland enjoys another great advantage. The population is increasing more rapidly in the north than in any other part. Elsewhere it is decreasing, but in Belfast it is going ahead greatly ; in fact, I am not sure whether Belfast is not as populous as Dublin.
– It is more populous.
– It will be seen that the north is going ahead. It is the people of that part who do not want separation from the old country. Am I not right in saying that it is the people in the least prosperous part of Ireland who want to have control of their own Customs, and to introduce a protectionist policy when the policy of the Home country is free-trade? I would recommend Senator Dawson to withdraw the motion. It would be a dignified thing to do. I believe that no one would be more annoyed than himself if the Home authorities were to question’ our right to treat the kanakas as we are doing.
– Surely we have a right to express an opinion on this subject?
– Yes, but I do not see any use in our expressing an opinion. What good would it do? It would only cause a row here. We are a peaceful community, and we can settle our differences without interfering with Ireland or any other place. I’ maintain that Ireland has no reason to say that she is not well treated by Great Britain, however she may have been treated in days gone by. What other country but Great Britain would allow such awfully disloyal organs to appear as do appear in Ireland? They can please themselves about what they write. They write in a most disloyal way, and speak with disrespect of .the Royal family. For a long while I have thought that it would be a good thing if the Royal family had a Royal residence in Ireland. I hope that His Majesty the King will go over to Ireland as often as he goes to Scotland, or more often. I do not intend to speak much longer, because I hear that an honorable senator is prepared to follow rae. I am glad to think that some person here is able to take up the cudgels for Great Britain. I happen to belong to the part of Great Britain north of the Tweed, and I abhor a, person who is disloyal to the great country we belong to. There is no other country in this world in which such great personal liberty is enjoyed, and I am very much afraid that if Home Rule were granted, it would be a case of God help Ireland.
– The honorable senator has a great compassion for that beautiful country.
– Undoubtedly. Ireland is a beautiful country, but a great many people leave its shores.
– They are_ driven out by the Government which the honorable senator supports.
– Scotchmen go abroad a good deal. Irishmen go to America, but unfortunately they do not become as loyal there as do the Scotch who go to Canada.
– There are not many Scotchmen who hold the same opinion as the honorable senator.
– I never heard a Scotchman whom I cared a straw for who held these views about Ireland. In Scotland, there is a large number of’ Irishmen. It is not to be supposed that the 100,000 Irishmen in Glasgow are to be considered as representing Scotland. A few persons can make a great noise, as we all know, and people living at a great distance are apt to think that those persons are very much more important than they really are. The Irish would be about the finest people in the world if they could only be taught to be loyal to the British Government. Somehow or other, a spirit of disloyalty runs through a portion of the land - I do not understand why it does.
On that point I can tell an Irish story which may please my honorable friends. When I was down in Killarney three years ago, in going over the mountains, my wife wasriding one horse and my daughter was riding ‘another. Noticing that the owner of the horses was very cheerful, I said to him, “ Are you very loyal down here”? “Oh,” he said, “ We are very loyal to one another, sir.” I laughed, because I thought it was a very good answer.
– The honorable senator said he married an Irish lady. Can? he tell us a story or two about his courting days?
– They were very happy days. And on that subject I may mention that my brother followed suit and married my wife’s sister. At this stage I should like to move the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable senator cannot make a speech and then move the adjournment.
– I hope I have not said anything to offend my Irish friends. I like them, and it is for that reason that I hope that Ireland will never be separated from the British Empire.
– I am not going to allow this motion to go to a division without speaking, although I have not much to say. At one time I was a “ white headed boy “ with certain parties, in this country. To this day some of my most intimate friends are Roman Catholics.
– Why should they not be?
– So I say. But I hold strong opinions, and have held them, for a considerable time. I do not hold them in consequence of theory or book reading, because I have been quite long, enough in the world- to have gained experience and knowledge of my own. Bookreading is very good sometimes, and it helps the knowledge which one acquires, otherwise. But it is in consequence of my own experience that I am speaking now. Twenty years ago, as honorable senators can find if they look up the records of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, I happened to second a motion proposed by thelate Sir James Patterson. At that time I represented Rodney. The motion was one censuring certain members of Parliament who had referred to Ireland under the British Crown as being “ Under the hoof of a foreign- despotism.” That is strong language it will be admitted. That was the sentence to which we took exception. I have always been on the side of loyalty to the throne and of the flag - that flag under which all countries and peoples on the face of this earth have been treated with the greatest consideration, moderation,! and fairness.
– How does the honorable senator connect those remarks with the motion ?
– I connect them with the motion because I urge that it would be a very unfortunate thing for the people of Ireland, and for the Roman Catholics of Ireland, if that country secured Home Rule.
– Should not they themselves be the best judges of that?
– Then let them judge for themselves, and let the British people judge for themselves. That is one of my objections to forcing a matter like this to the front in the Senate. If they are the “best judges I am quite willing to leave it to them if the honorable senator will consent to do so.
– It is a question for the Empire.
– But there are certain questions which we should do well to leave to the people at Home; and this is one of them.
– Why should we not express our opinion ?
– I appeal for your protection, Mr. President, against the i interjectorgeneral of the Senate. I do not object to one or two interjections, but a perfect flow of them drowns my voice altogether.
– I ask honorable senators not to interject.
– I say that Home Rule would be destructive of the interests of the very people who are asking for it. It must be remembered that there are two great sides in Ireland. There ought not to be two great sides on religious matters in any country. I say clearly that if I could be sure that there would be no aggression by the one side I could swear that there would be no aggression by the other.
– What has all this to do with Home Rule, which means self government for Ireland?
– Home Rule means - and I do not wish to be offensive in saying this - foreign rule.
– The honorable senator means Rome rule.
– The honorable senator has claimed the strict application of the standing order against interjections. I must ask honorable senators not to interrupt under those circumstances.
– About two-thirds of the people of Ireland are divided against the rest of the population as to religious convictions.
– What has that -to do with the question?
– It has a great deal to do with it, because if Home Rule were granted to Ireland there would be bloodshed ; and anything that would have that tendency ought not to be countenanced.
– Who would shed the blood ?
– The kind of persons who shed blood in past times would probably shed blood again if they were brought up in the same way. At any rate, the British people are the best judges of this matter, and let it be left to them. Another reason for opposing the motion - and I want this to be noted publicly - is that whenever England is in any trouble, whether it is in the Transvaal, or in the Orange Free State, or elsewhere, 90 per cent, of the advocates of Home Rule are opposed to England. I know that this is a serious statement to make, but I make it without any anger. I can prove to honorable senators opposite that I have befriended’ Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. I have made no distinctions.
– I rise to order.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is really discussing Home Rule at present.
– My point of order is that the question of religion has nothing to do with the motion now before the Senate. I ask for your ruling, as to whether the honorable senator is in order in continually referring to religious matters.
– I really do not profess to know exactly what is meant by Home Rule. It may mean a dozen different things, according to the interpretation put upon the term. But I think it would be far better if the honorable senator would not discuss religious matters. lt cannot do any good, and may leave angry feelings behind.
– I do not see how the question can be dealt with properly in any other way. However, the reason why I made that statement just now was because I overheard an interjection from Senator Dawson to the effect that I would not employ any Roman Catholics. That is absolutely false.
– I did not say that.
– The remark was made a few minutes ago, and I overheard it.
– I say that the statement made by Senator Fraser is_ an absolute untruth. I never made such” an interjection.
– I must ask Senator Fraser, according to the standing order-
– If Senator Fraser is going to lie, he will get all he wants.
– First of all Senator Fraser must withdraw the statement that Senator Dawson said something that was “absolutely false.”
– Quite so; I withdraw.
– Then I must ask Senator Dawson to withdraw his statement concerning Senator Fraser.
– Does Senator Fraser withdraw his scandalous remark about me?
– He has done so.
– Very well, I withdraw my protest.
– I think if would be far better for the dignity of the Senate if such statements were not made. They do not reflect credit upon the Senate.
– I certainly overheard the remark that I would not employ a Roman Catholic.
– Is the Honorable senator in order? I have already said that his statement is absolutely incorrect.
– I request Senator Fraser not to pursue this line of discussion. Really, what does it matter, and what has it to do with the question of Home Rule for Ireland, whether the interjection was made or not?
– It is an absolute mistake.
– Surely in all conscience if statements are made which are incorrect-
– The Honorable senator can say that they are incorrect, and there is an end of it.
– I repeat that the statement which I overheard is incorrect. Of course the language of the honorable senator is something- horrible.
– I rise to order !
– I must ask Senator Fraser not to make such statements.
– My point is that the honorable senator is not in order in saying that remarks made by any other honorable senator are “ horrible,” and further, I should like to point out that the honorable senator is not in order in not accepting the disclaimer made bv Senator Dawson.
– Senator Fraser ought to accept it. All personal allusions of that kind should be dropped. I must ask Senator Fraser once more not to continue this line of discussion any further.
– I am prepared to defend my own reputation and character. I have no wish to make personal accusations. I have never done it in my life, nor will I do it now. But when accusations are made about me that I cannot but overhear, I ought to be allowed to make allusion to them.
– The honorable senator has already done so, and there is an end of it.
– One of my reasons for my present attitude is that when the English flag was in trouble in the Transvaal, not one of the Home Rulers came to the rescue. When the people of Ireland unanimously appeal for Home Rule - that is for an extension of municipal government, or anything of that kind - I shall not have the remotest objection to see their wishes gratified. But it isnot within our province to express ourselves in favour of Ireland receiving full1 political self-government independent of England. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I do not see what political1 grievances the people of Ireland have, considering that they are so largely overrepresented in the British Parliament.
– That is after all the population have been driven out of the country.
– The honorable senator is not correct in that interjection. Honorable senators are laughing at my statement; shall I give them some statistics? The prosperity of Ireland has increased by leaps and bounds during the last fifty years. The prosperity of Belfast, in the north of Ireland, has ‘been one of the marvels of the world; during the last twenty years that city has progressed in everything that goes to make a people.
– Belfast is not Ireland.
– I know that Belfast is only part of Ireland ; but there are two Irelands, the north and the south, and one is as different from the other as chalk is from cheese.
– Why ?
– Because one is prosperous and the other is not ; and that has been acknowledged by even Roman Catholics. High dignitaries of the Catholic Church in the United States have complained that the education given to the unfortunate people in the south of Ireland tends to make them not fit, but unfit, for the affairs of life.
– Is the honorable senator a North of Ireland man ?
– I am an Australian just now.
– Then how does the honorable senator know the difference between the north and the south?
– I have travelled through Ireland, and I have read something about the country. I could refer Senator Givens to literary works which will give him all the information on the subject.
– I know the sort of works to which the honorable senator would refer me.
– I refer the honorable senator to works written on behalf of either side.
– Better give us the population statistics you mentioned.
– That would take too much time. I know that the population of ‘Scotland has increased beyond that of Ireland. At one time the population of Ireland was between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000.
– What is it now?
– Not much more than half that number.
– It is less than half.
– It is about half. Speaking from memory, I should say that the population of Scotland is about 40,000 above the population of Ireland, and yet Scotland is ruled in exactly the same way as Ireland.
– It is not.
– I say that Ireland has political and other advantages that Scotland never enjoyed, as is shown by the land legislation, the educational expenditure, and the number of Irish representatives in the Imperial Parliament. Although Scotland should have 105 members in the House of Commons, the representation is only seventy-two, whereas Ireland, which, on a population basis, is entitled to sixty-seven or sixty-eight members, has 105. I do not desire to prevent a vote being taken on this motion, but I am convinced that, if a poll were taken in Australia tomorrow, the people of the Commonwealth would declare that England, Ireland, and Scotland ought to be left to attend to their own political affairs, especially as it has been found that all Home Rulers are against the English flag when it is in danger. The latter is a statement I am able to- prove, or otherwise I should not make it. ‘ .
– That is a very great insult to Home Rulers.
– The statement is absolute nonsense ! It is an untruth.
– I beg to call attention to Senator Dawson’s last remark.
– I cannot allow language of that sort. Senator Dawson has no right, and he knows it, to accuse another honorable senator of stating an untruth, and the remark must be withdrawn. The honorable senator mav say, if he likes, that the statement is incorrect.
– I withdraw the remark, and say that the statement made by Senator Fraser is incorrect. Some of the most loyal people in the Empire are Irish.
– The honorable senator must not make a speech.
– I recognise that there are many, loyal Irishmen. It is not pleasant for me to take up the position I do on this question. I have suffered a great deal because of my honest convictions, but surely I am entitled to express those convictions’ on the floor of this Senate. I have no desire to be extreme, and I only wish I could destroy all aggressiveness on either side. I must say, however, that when it is even attempted to hold meetings on the other side in Victoria, those meetings are not allowed to proceed. Some reference has been made to Dill Mackay.
– Does the honorable senator think that meetings held in
Victoria have anything to do with the motion, which declares that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland?
– The “ Home Rule “ in the motion means full political rule ; otherwise the motion has no meaning.
– It does not mean full political rule.
– I say that that is the meaning of the motion-
– Then the honorable senator has not read recent utterances on the subject.
– I have, including the speeches of Mr. Redmond, whom I consider to be a very able and clever man.
– Then the honorable senator has not understood what he read.
– I do understand, but my contention is that this is not a proper motion for us to pass. I know full well that the vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth are opposed to granting to Ireland such Home Rule as is here meant. I have had to say some unpleasant things, but I have done so with justification.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulcahy) adjourned.
Order of the day read for the resumption of the debate adjourned from 2nd August (vide page 464), on motion by Senator Playford.
– For the convenience of honorable senators, I will put the motion in two parts.
Question - That, in accordance with standing order No. 234, the proceedings on the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act to authorize the Survey of Route for a Railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia,” which were interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament on Thursday, the 15th day of December,- 1904, be resumed at the stage then reached in connexion with the said Bill - resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr. President-
– The honorable senator is too late; the question has been put and passed.
– I rose from my seat before the President declared the motion carried.
– I am sorry that honorable senators should have a habit of waiting until the last moment or until it istoo late. In this case, I think I had declared the motion carried before the honorable and learned senator rose.
– I am positive the motion was not declared carried before I wason my feet. I insist on my right to speak to the motion, but I understand, Mr. President, that you insist that I shall not be permitted to speak.
– I think the honorable and learned senator is too late. After all, the resolution proposes only to resumethe proceedings on the Bill on which the honorable and learned senator will afterwards have an opportunity to speak.
– I wanted particularly to speak on this motion.
Question - And that the adjourned debate on the second reading be resume3 onWednesday next - resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to speak onthis question.
– The honorableand learned senator cannot do so.
– Well, I was on my feet before the first part of the motion was carried.
– I do not think so..
– I am positive I was.. You, Mr. President, were reading the motion when I rose.
– If Senator Dobson’ dissents from the ruling he should proceed in accordance with the standing order.
– I am positive I was on my feet before the motion was declared carried.
– Of course, I may be mistaken ; but I am clear in my own mind that I put the motion and declared it carried before the honorable and learned senator rose. That is what I thought then, and what I think now. The honorable and learned senator will see that this is a casein, which the debate takes place on the question as a whole, and I put the motion intwo parts, deeming it to be what is called a complicated question. 11,or example, some honorable senators might wish to resume the debate on some other day than Wednesday next, but the whole proceedings on the motion, except the voting, are concluded.
– Am I to .understand that I am forbidden to speak to either of these questions?
– Yes ; I think that the debate has concluded.
– We cannot have two Presidents in the Senate.
– I am sorry if Senator Dobson feels aggrieved, but I have had to give my decision.
– Then, on both these questions I am forbidden to sneak?
– The honorable and learned senator is not forbidden to speak, but he rose too late, and so lost his opportunity to speak.
– With all respect, I did not rise too late.
Senate adjourned at 6.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 August 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050803_senate_2_25/>.