2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Return to order of the Senate of 30th August, 1905.Tarcoola Post Office : Annual telegraphic revenue.
Provisional Regulationsunder the Defence Acts 1903-1904. - Statutory Rules 1905, No. 54.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I should like point out that that is not- a reply to my question.
– The honorable senator can ask another question, but he cannot debate the reply to his question.
– I askedwhe- ther Mr. Beale’s opinion represented a correct standard of commercial morality, and not whether Mr. Beale was commercially moral. I should like to have an answer to the question.
SenatorKeating. - That raises the whole question of what is moral and. immoral again.
Motion (by Senator Walker) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Lt.-Col. the Honorable John Cash Neild, on account of his serious illness.
– On behalf, and at the request, of Senator Neild, I desire to postpone, until9th November, the first notice of motion standing in his name, and relating to the sittings of the High Court.
– The honorable senator can postpone the notice of motion ; he does not need to ask leave.
– With some diffidence, sir, I rise to draw your attention to the fact that a measure dealing with this matter is likely to come before the Senate. May Isuggest to Senator Walker that he should postpone the notice of motion until next week, with a view to consulting Senator Neild, and asking his permission, either to move the motion on his behalf, or to allow it to drop off the notice-paper. Otherwise the Senate may be hampered at a later stage if the question is sought to be discussed in his absence.
– I think we shall have to make an alteration in our Standing Orders in reference to this matter. Under the Standing Orders of the House of- Commons no honorable member can give notice of a motion for. more than, four sitting days ahead, but our Standing Orders contain no such ‘ limitation, and an honorable senator can give notice of a motion for a date months ahead. That precludes the Senate from discussing the question, because to do so would be to anticipate the discussion on the motion. It is a state of affairs which, I think, ought not to continue, and I intend to ask the Standing Orders Committee to consider it. It is not right that one member of the Senate should be able to put a motion on the noticepaper, and thus, prevent any discussion of its subject-matter. Under the present Standing Orders, however, Senator Walker has merely to state that at the request of Senator Neild, he postpones this notice of motion to a certain date.
– Am I at liberty, sir, to withdraw the notice of motion on behalf of Senator Neild? He merely asked me to postpone the notice of motion until the 9th November.
– I shall give the honorable senator an opportunity of restating what he wishes to do.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I really do not know what to da I am sure that Senator Neild has no wish to interfere with the privileges of the Senate in regard to the subject-matter of the four notices of motion standing in. his name on the notice-paper to-day.
-The honorable senator can say that on behalf of Senator Neild he is not going to move the first notice of motion, or he can put it down for a future date.
– I am sure that Senator Neild does not wish to interfere with the transaction of any business here.
– The honorable senator can allow the notice of motion to drop off the notice-paper, and fresh notice may be given if desired.
– I shall do that, sir.
– I suppose it. is quite, understood by you, sir, and Senator Walker, that I in no sense suggested that Senator Neild put this motion on the notice-paper with a view to prevent the discussion of its subject-matter.: I regret that ill-health is the cause of his absence.
– The Senate, is indebted to you, sir, for the intimation you have given in regard to a position which might be embarrassing in relation to public business. We are also indebted to your efforts on a previous occasion in making the rule so elastic as to enable the transaction of public business to be facilitated. I think it is our duty to recognise that fact;
– There are three other notices of motion in the name of Senator Neild, sir.
– The time has not yet arrived for those notices of motion to be called on.
– But this is thetimeset apart for private business.
– Under the Standing Orders honorable, senators have a right at this stage to re-arrange the dates on which they will move, their notices of motion. I asked if any honorable senator wished to re-arrange his business, and Senator Walker said that on behalf and at the request of Senator Neild he wished to put down the first notice of motion for a future date:
– Then he intimated that he will not move the notice of motion.
– Yes, Not one of the other three notices of motion in the name of Senator Neild has yet been called on.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - Senator Neild also wishes to have notice of motion No. 2, standing in his name, postponed.
– The honorable senator must state the date to which he wishes to have the notice of motion postponed.
– I wish to have ;t postponed until 9th November, but I hope that I am at liberty to say that if it would be more convenient that the notice of motion should drop off the paper, I do not wish to inconvenience the Senate.
– Do I understand that Senator Neild wishes to have the notice of motion postponed until 9th November ?
– Then that is finished; the notice of motion is postponed- Notice of motion No. 3 also stands in the name of Senator Neild. What is to be done with that? Honorable senators will, I think, see the position. A notice of motion on the paper is the property of the mover, and no one else can move it, except at his request, and on his behalf. If it is called on and is not moved, either by the honorable senator who has put it on- the paper or by some one on his behalf, it falls off the paper. But the Senate cannot insist on discussing it, because it cannot be moved except by the senator who has given notice. Does Senator Walker, on behalf of Senator Neild, ask that notice of motion No. 3 shall be postponed until 9th November ?
– Then it is postponed.
– On Senator Neild’s behalf, I wish to move notice of motion No. 4.
– And at his request ?
– The honorable senator cannot move it except at Senator Neild’s request.
– Senator Neild asked me to get all his notices of motion postponed. He sent his son to my house, he himself being very ill.
– I move -
That the evidence taken before the Select Committee of the Senate last session on the subject of the Tobacco Industry, and laid upon the Table of the Senate 4th August ultimo, be referred to the Select Committee on Tobacco Monopoly appointed on 31st August, with leave to report it.
I thought that this motion would have been accepted as formal. The evidence taken by the Committee appointed last session has been laid upon , the table of the Senate, and my desire is that it shall be referred to the Select Committee which has been reconstituted. I’ do not know what reasons may animate Senator Mil len ‘in desiring to discuss the motion, but I shall have an opportunity to reply, and will avail myself of it.. At this stage I simply move the motion.
– Senator Pearce seems to resent very much my action in requiring this motion to be taken as not formal.
– I did not resent it, but I could not understand the honorable senator’s action.
– That is no justification for the honorable senator’s feeling about the matter.
– Why does the honorable senator say that I resented his action ?
– From the honorable senator’s attitude and his remarks about it. My reasons for preventing the motion going as formal were these: In the first place I desired to direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Committee originally appointed was directed to inquire into the question of old-age pensions. The Committee last .appointed was constituted for quite a different purpose. There was no direction to it to inquire into any matter connected with old-age pensions. As far as the evidence taken by the first Committee relates to the tobacco industry, I am quite in accord with its being referred to the second Committee. But we are asked to hand over to a Committee appointed solely to deal with the tobacco business, evidence upon the question of oldage pensions, with a direction to the Committee to report. To report upon what? Upon old-age pensions? The Senate has not sanctioned the appointment of a Committee for that purpose. By a side wind -I use the term without arty sinister meaning - we are asked to empower a Commit- tee to report upon a matter which has not been specifically referred to it. I hope I make my point quite clear, that the second Committee was authorized to inquire into the tobacco industry, and the existence of an alleged combination of tobacco manufacturers; and, if such combination exists, the effect upon the tobacco growing and manufacturing industries of Australia, and upon the Commonwealth itself. The first Committee, however, was appointed to inquire into the question of raising funds for old-age pensions. Seeing that this motion is not merely to hand over to the. second Committee, the evidence taken by the first Committee, but is a direction to report, I object to the procedure proposed. If it were merely a direction to hand over to the second Committee the evidence for what it is worth, well and good; but the Committee is specifically called upon to report on the evidence taken primarily with regard to old-age pensions.
– No, with regard to the tobacco monopoly.
– If that contention be correct, I cannot compliment my honorable friends opposite on the drafting of the motion. I can only assume that the motion means what it says. Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is this : I believe that honorable senators will quite understand that in what I am about to say, I speak with an entire absence of any personal feeling towards any of the members of the Committee. I think that it is desirable, with all the emphasis of which I am capable, to direct public attention to the fact that six out of seven of the members of the Committee to whom we are referring the gigantic proposal to create a public monopoly and to launch the Commonwealth upon a system of manufacturing, have declared themselves in favour of the proposal.
– Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in discussing the constitution of the Committee? It has been constituted by the Senate, and Senator Millen is objecting to the evidence taken by the first Committee being referred to the second because of its constitution.
– Surely on a proposal to refer a matter to a Committee, I have a right to question the competency of the Committee.
– Is the honorable senator in order in reflecting on the action of the Senate in appointing the Committee?
– The Senate has appointed a Select Committee to consider the alleged tobacco monopoly. I do not think that any honorable senator is in order in reflecting on that Committee. But I understand that Senator Millen contends that the Committee recently appointed is not the same as that which took evidence last year. It is differently constituted.
– It is a parliamentary Committee, all the same.
– But it is not the same Committee as was appointed last session. Senator Millen would be in order in pointing that out, but I do not think that he is in order in making a statement as to the competency of the Committee to inquire into the. subject, seeing that that Committee has been appointed by the Senate. He should have objected when the Committee was appointed.
– I do not challenge the competency of the Committee from a mental stand-point. I was merely directing the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Committee was constituted in a certain way, with a view to asking that the evidence taken by the first Committee should not be referred to the second, seeing that it is practically a packed jury.
– The honorable senator should not reflect on the action of the Senate. If he objected to the constitution of the Committee he should have urged his objection at the time it was appointed.
– I ask you, sir, to insist on the withdrawal of the words “ packed jury.”
– The words are not in order.
– I insist on their withdrawal, as being offensive.
– If the honorable senator had kept his seat for a moment I should have been the first to recognise vour ruling; but if he is going to “ insist,” it is another matter. I will accept no dictation from any one but the President.
-I do insist.
– The Senate has appointed a Committee, and I do not think that the honorable senator should reflect upon its constitution by saying that it is a “packed” Committee.
– A “packed jury” is what he said.
– The honorable senator should withdraw any expression reflecting upon the action of the Senate, because it is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I commenced by stating that, if Senator Pearce had waited a moment, he would have found that I was the first to recognise your ruling, not merely because it is your ruling, but because it appeals to my. sense of what is right.
– The honorable senator has not withdrawn the remark.
– I have withdrawn twice. Honorable senators opposite need not think that I fear any loss of dignity in withdrawing an unfortunate expression that has slipped out.
– Why did not the honorable senator withdraw it, then?
– Will the honorable senator hold his tongue? If not, I shall “ insist “ upon his doing so. Do I understand that it is not possible for me to object to this motion because of the constitution of the Committee?
– I do not say that. The honorable senator can object, if he chooses, to the evidence taken by the last Committee being referred to the new Committee, because it is a different body; but he cannot object on the ground that it is a “ packed “ Committee.
– I have listened carefully to every word that has been said, and I have not heard Senator Millen withdraw the wordsthat you ruled out of order.
– If it will allay any anxiety, I will withdraw them again. I find some little difficulty, in my desire to observe your ruling in determining how far I can discuss the matter from the point of view in which it presents itself to my mind. My objection to send this evidence to the Committee recently appointed is, as I have indicated, that it is not the same Committee as took the evidence on the previous occasion, and also because the latter Committee was appointed for a totally different purpose. My second objection - and here I fail to catch the exact scope of your ruling - is to the evidence going to the second Committee because of its composition. I do not reflect upon the action of the Senate in appointing the Committee, or upon its competency for the work. I point out - if I can say so without offending the rules of debate - that the members of the Committee have expressed themselves in favour of a certain course of action. For that reason I feel that whatever my own views may be, it is extremely undesirable to refer a debatable matter of such great public importance to a Select Committee, the members of which, with one exception, have declared themselves as holding a certain view.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is persisting in reflecting upon the personnel of the Committee. For instance, the honorable senator holds that this evidence should not be referred to the Committee, because members of that Committee have, expressed their opinion. That is distinctly reflecting upon the members of the Committee, and challenging their impartiality.
– I happen to be one of the “ packed jury “ referred to by Senator Millen.
– Those words have been withdrawn.
– I object to the expression being made use of. I cannot understand now on what ground Senator Millen is opposing this motion.
– I was not allowed to proceed.
– Senator Millen knows what, he is objecting to. Probably the honorable senator holds a brief in the matter.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Findley in order in saying that I probably hold a brief in this matter ?
– Possibly Senator Findlev thinks so.
– There is a point of order before the Committee now.
– My only opportunity to draw attention to objectionable words is the moment the words are uttered. I also object tothe suggestion of Senator Styles that Senator Findley probably has ground for his assertion.
– What I did say was that Senator Findley might think he had grounds.
– I am afraid nonorable senators are getting a little wan-i, and, perhaps, if I point out one matter, it may have the effect of limiting the discussion. The motion asks that the evidence taken before the Select Committee of the Senate last session “ on the subject of the tobacco industry,” shall be referred to the Select Committee on the Tobacco Monopoly “with leave to report it.” What is “it””? That word, I take it, means the evidence which was taken before the Select Committee appointed last session.
– It means the evidence on the Tobacco Monopoly.
-Will the honorable senator hold his tongue ? “ It “ is the evidence, which will be sent on to the Committee, but not for the Committee to comment on or discuss, except in so far as it comes within the purview of the power given to them, by the Senate, that power being to inquire into the alleged tobacco monopoly, and that only. The present Select Committee on the Tobacco Monopoly have nothing to do with the question of old-age pensions, but have been authorized to inquire into one matter, and one only. Certainly, it is proposed that certain evidence shall be referred to them, and that they shall be empowered to report that evidence, though they are not empowered to comment on it, or report concerning its value or otherwise; they are simply to send it up as an appendix to their report. In reference to the point of order, I do not think that Senator Findley was in order in making the interjectionthat an honorable senator “probably has a brief,” and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– I raised a point of order.
– Many points of order have been raised, and my desire is to deal with one at a time. What is the point of order?
– I contend that Senator Millen is out of order in persisting in challenging the action of the Senate in referring this evidence to the Select Committee, on the ground that the Committee are not fitted to deal with the matter impartially, having, according to that honorable senator, already expressed their opinion. I say that that is a reflection upon the Committee, in which the honorable senator is persisting, notwithstanding your ruling.
– The remark is to a certain extent a reflection upon the Committee, but the question is, may or may not an honorable senator state that members of a Select Committee have already expressed an opinion? I am not prepared to rule that an honorable senator may not do so.
– But Senator Millen goes further, and says that the Committee cannot be impartial.
– I did not say so.
– I did not understand Senator Millen to say that. Whether any good can arise out of this discussion I am not prepared to say, but I ask Senator Millen to be as brief as possible, and to try not to raise the ire of other honorable senators by referring to the personnel of the Committee more than is necessary. The question is whether this evidence ought or ought not to be referred to the Select Committee.
– Seeing that honorable senators are so very ticklish about the use of terms, I should like to know whether it is in accordance with parliamentary practice for the President of a dignified Chamber to tell an honorable senator to “ hold his tongue.”
– Perhaps not. But the Standing Orders provide that when the President is giving a ruling no other honorable senator shall speak. Perhaps it would have been better had I asked Senator Styles not to speak
– I never accused the Select Committee of want of fairness, but there is such a thing as unconscious bias, to which we are all subject on questions of race, religion, and so forth. No one, for instance, would think of appointing a committee of New South Welshmen to decide a matter in dispute between their State and Victoria. This is not a question of fairness; and on a matter of abstract justice I should be quite as willing to trust this Select Committee as any other Committee of the House. I should not have moved in this matter had I not felt it to be of sufficient public importance to justify me in directing attention to the fact that the Select Committee is constituted as I have indicated. I rose for that purpose, and to justify my action in declining to let the matter go as formal.
– I think Senator Millen has fallen into rather a mistake. The motion is that the evidence taken last session “ on the subject of the tobacco industry “ shall be referred to the Select Committee on the tobacco monopoly. There is nothing in the motion about oldage pensions, and I understand that only that portion of the evidence dealing with tobacco monopoly is contemplated by Senator Pearce, who, as Chairman of the Committee, submits this motion. T understand that Senator Millen has no objection to evidence dealing with the tobacco industrybeing sent on to the Committee, and, therefore, it is difficult to see why there should be all this noise.
Senate Millen. - The “noise” comes from the side on which the honorable senator sits.
– I do not know that it does, but, if so, it would not be surprising, considering the insinuations that have emanated from the other side. I am sure that Senator Millen did not intend to be offensive, but, undoubtedly he was unwittingly so; and I felt somewhat sore, as a member of the Committee. SenatorMillen says that six out of the seven members have already expressed an opinion on the matter.
– Senator Styles maybe that seventh.
– I do not think so, because I do not recollect ever saying a word about the matter. I cannot see how the motion could have been worded in any other way.
– Is the honorable senator contending that only a portion of the evidence will, on this motion, be referred to the Committee?
– Isay that only that evidence will be referred which deals with the tobacco industry.
– Asks the President whether he reads the motion in that way.
– I do not know how the President reads the motion, but I would accept his decision in the matter.
– Ask Senator Pearce if he reads the motion in that way.
– I ask Senator Millen to say that it is not so.
– Certainly it is not.
– I was a member of the Select Committee which took this evidence last session, and I may inform Senator Millen that, although we had power to report on the question of old-age pensions, we did not take one tittle of evidence regarding it. The whole of the evidence taken was on’ the question of the tobacco monopoly, and, as Senator Millen has no objection to such evidence being referred, no possible harm can arise from adopting the motion. Considerable good will result, because this motion will prevent the necessity of examining the same witnesses and of reprinting their evidence.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The Select Committee on the tobacco monopoly, as Senator Playford has pointed out, could, if they choose, recall all the witnesses who were examined last session, and put the country to the expense of reprinting the evidence. Undoubtedly, the Committee will take that course if this motion be blocked, as Senator Millen seems to desire.
– That is not correct.
– What is the reason for the opposition to the motion, the object of which is to save expense. Senator Millen said that the Select Committee of last session was appointed to inquire into the question of old-age pensions ; but I think that the honorable senator can scarcely have read the resolution under which that Select Committee was appointed. A semblance of force may be given to Senator Millen’s argument by the heading put to that resolution, not by the mover, but by the Clerks of the Senate. The heading is “ Old-Age Pensions - Provision for,” and the resolution is as follows: -
It will be seen that the Select Committee was not appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the question of old-age pensions, but to inquire as to how the profits of a tobacco monopoly could be best managed by the Commonwealth to provide funds for old-age pensions.
– And the motion today follows on that resolution.
– Yes; except that the motion to-day does not propose to earmark the money for the purpose of old-age pensions. Every tittle of the evidence taken last year deals directly with the question of the tobacco monopoly. Senator Gray, who is opposed to me on this question, knows that not a single witness was examined in any subject beyond that of the tobacco trade.
– Hear, hear.
– The whole of the evidence was incidental to the question of the existence or otherwise ofthe tobacco monopoly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Stewart) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the table of the Senate giving the following particulars : -
The number of officers in each division of the Post and Telegraph Department in each State when taken over by the Commonwealth, and at 30th June, 1905.
The number of officers in each division of the Department in each State receiving salaries as under, when taken over by the Commonwealth, and at 30th June, 1905; and the total amount paid per year under each heading : - £700 and over ;£600 and under£700 ; £500 and under£600;£400 and under£500;£300 and under£400; £250 and under£300 ;£200 and under £250;£180 and under£200;£150 and under£180;£130 and under£150 ; £120 and under £130; £110 and under £120;£100 and under ; £110; under £100.
The additional expenditure per annum in each State caused by the minimum wage clause of the Commonwealth Public Service Act; and the total to 30th June last.
The additional expenditure per annum caused by the operation of clause 19 of the Victorian Act No. 1721 ; and the total to 30th June last.
The amount which would have accrued up to 30th June, 1905, to the employes in the Brisbane General Post Office if the allowance known as “ English Mail Money “ had not been discontinued ; and the sum per man per annum . such allowance would have averaged.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 24th August, vide page 1410) :
Proposed new clause 8 (Resisting arrest),
– With a view to postpone the consideration of the Bill to a later date, on behalf of Senator Neild, I move -
That the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– I should like to have some reason given why this Bill should not be proceeded with.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable senator, but there can be no debate on a motion to report progress.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).. - It seems to me that it would be a pityto postpone the consideration of what is really the Bill suggested by the Standing Orders Committee, that introduced by Senator Neild having disappeared. In any case, this measure is now the property of the Committee, and we should go on with it, in order that as soon aspossible it may be sent to another place. A Select Committee has recently been appointed by the Senate, and if there is any doubt as to the powers of Select Committees to take evidence it is as well that it should be cleared up at once.
– When this Bill was last before the Committee Senator Neild wasin charge of it, and on the motion that the Committee have leave to sit again, the honorable senator fixed this date for the resumption of its consideration. Ministershave had no direct communication with Senator Neild as to his intentions, and donot know whether it is the wish of the honorable senator that any one else should” take his place in connexion with this measure. I suggest that the best plan toadopt would be to report progress, and make the further consideration of the Bill in Committee an order of the day for this, day week. In the meantime I will undertake to communicate with Senator Neild, and inform him that on Thursday next theBill will be definitely proceeded with. The honorable senator will be thus given an opportunity to consult with any other honorable senator he would like to take his place in connexion with the measureIt is true that the Bill is the property of the Committee, but in the circumstances, and in view of the fact that Senator Neild may have some amendments to suggest, we shall, I think, best conserve the rights of the Committee and of Senator Neild by adopting the course I have suggested.
-I would suggest that the further consideration of the Bill should be postponed for a fortnight. I am personally aware that Senator Neild ‘s illness is of so serious a nature that it is unlikely his medical attendant will permit him in so short a time to attend to his political duties.
– I understand that Senator Neild has been given two months’ leave of absence, and is seriously ill. It is not, therefore, at all likely that the honorable senator will be able to take up the Bill again this session. It is now the property of the Committee, and it is very desirable that it should be passed. We do not know when it will be necessary to invoke the provisions of a measure of this kind to enable Select Committees already appointed to obtain evidence.
– I quite indorse the views expressed by Senators Pearce and Stewart as to the desirability of placing on our statute-book some law relating to the taking of evidence by Select Committees. Honorable senators, however, must recognise the inconvenience of having a Bill before us without anybody in particular in charge of it. Whilst I very much regret that it is unlikely that Senator Neild will be able to conduct the further proceedings connected with the passing of the Bill, by postponing its further consideration for a week or a fortnight, Senator Keating will be enabled to do what he has undertaken to do - to look into the matter, and to communicate with Senator Neild. Senator Neild will also, in the meantime, be enabled, if he so desires, to place in the hands of any other honorable senator the data ion which the Bill is founded. The suggestion made by Senator Keating will, I believe, be found ultimately to expedite the passing of the measure.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 1736), on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith -
That the papers having reference to the administration of justice in British New Guinea, laid on the table of the Senate on 24th August, 1905, be taken into consideration, and that the Government be asked to institute further inquiries.
– Senator Smith, in bringing forward this motion, simply asked that the Government should make further inquiries respecting a letter which was published by the Acting Resident Magistrate in New Guinea, relating to the case of a man named O’Brien, who had escaped from custody after very seriously injuring the constable who was placed in charge of him. In this effusion, the Resident Magistrate says -
I am sending over four police, who will live in the police house on the field for four or five days, until I get definite news of O’Brien. In the event of any one having reliable news of
O’Brien’s whereabouts, close to the field, these police will be able to arrest him. Should O’Brien appear to any man of the field, such man is perfectly justified in ordering him to stand or go in front of him to police, and if O’Brien fails to do either of these things, he may be shot.
Senator Smith commented very strongly on this, and said that it practically outlawed O’Brien, and rendered him liable to be shot on sight. This man appears to be an unmistakably bad lot. He had given notice that if any persons attempted to arrest him he would shoot them.
– To whom did he give that notice - to a Government official ?
– That was the current report, and it is said that he threatened the lives of many men.
– There is no evidence of that.
– I have no desire to go into the question fully, but I refer to the character of this man, as some slight justification for the Resident Magistrate’s action. The Resident Magistrate in New Guinea says -
A man charged with murder, rape, arson, and so on must be a particularly bad character, that is, if there is any truth in the charges.
– That is a very different thing. Every man is held to be innocent until he is proved guilty, and, so far, O’Brien should be held innocent of these offences.
– Very possibly. He was proved guilty of ‘ certain charges and sent to gaol, where he attacked a constable with a tomahawk and very nearly killed him, taking away his rifle and clearing out.
– Was he a white constable ?
– I believe he; was not. All the statements made respecting this man are answered categorically by the Government Resident. The Government are not opposed to making further inquiry, because on looking through the papers no reference is made to the very outrageous letter which the Acting Government Resident wrote.
– That is the sinister part of it.
– It was) never made the subject of complaint on behalf of a number of miners. It is very singular that it is not alluded to in any of the papers. Only the facts of O’Brien’s career have been commented upon by the Government Resident.
– It was commented upon by twenty-three out of thirty-four miners, as the papers disclose.
– In the papers I did not see the slightest reference to the letter, and if there is such a reference I should like my honorable friend to point it out to me. That the whole of the miners are not of the opinion which he would lead us to believe they hold, is proved by the fact that seventeen of them wrote in the following terms : - Sir,
We, the undersigned residents of the Yodda fearing, from the fact of a meeting being held so soon after O’Brien’s escape, that you may be under the impression that the residents here condone his offences, and sympathize with the escaped prisoner O’Brien, we, as law.-abiding citizens of the ‘Yodda, consider it our duty to assure you we. neither condone his offences nor sympathize with escaped prisoner O’Brien, and, having every confidence in you, beg to assure you of our firm support in all your efforts to uphold law and order.
I have informed the honorable senator of what has been done, and no doubt that will satisfy him. I understood him to say, in his opening speech, that if the Government .would promise to ask Chief Justice Murray to furnish a report on the whole matter, especially with regard to the letter of the Acting Government Resident, dated the 18th May, the miners would be satisfied. The Administrator has been asked to make inquiry respecting the authority for Mr. Griffith’s letter, and to obtain a report from the chief judicial officer as to the sufficiency of that authority. When we get the report I shall take care that a copy of it is furnished to the honorable senator.
– After the promise of the Minister of Defence, I do not propose to take up much time. He has not referred to the request of the miners that they should have trial by jury, nor has he expressed any opinion as to the practice of putting Papuans as policemenover the white miner when he happens to be in gaol in fault. The miners have expressed very strong opinions about this practice. In a letter sent to me, as well as to Senator Smith, they have pointed out their objection, which is, I think, a sound one.
– Does not the honorable senator think that a Papuan has a right to be a policeman?
– I do not think a Papuan is sufficiently educated or advanced to be able. to act properly as a guardian over a white man.
– The white man is over the Papuan.
– Does not the honorable senator place himself in a little higher category than that of the Papuan?
– When the white man goes to the Papuan’s country, it is a different thing altogether.
– Those of us who objected to the taking over of British New Guinea are confirmed in our objection by this unfortunate business. By that act we landed ourselves in a sea of troubles. The Possession is not self-supporting. The Commonwealth appropriates ^20,000 a year to carry on the administration, but apparently that is not sufficient to enable the authorities to place white constablesover white prisoners. Those positions are held by one-fourth educated Papuans. The Minister of Defence took up a most extraordinary attitude when he said that, because a man has a number of charges alleged against him, such as arson, theft, and assault, he must be a bad character. I observe that persons who are brought up in the Possession have a list of offences against them as long as one’s arm, and” embracing all the crimes in the calendar. The officers who send down reports about persons like O’Brien, of having been guilty of so many offences, really brand themselves with incompetence. How is it that a man happens to Le at large in the Possession when he has been guilty of so many alleged offences? The Government ought to push on with the British New Guinea Bill, and allow the miners to have electoral representation in the Legislative Council. I believe that that reform in the system of government would very soon lead to the removal of a number of the grievances under which they now labour.
– The Government have undertaken to make further inquiry concerning one point. But I would like to emphasize the undesirability of appointing natives as constables in charge of white offenders.
– The Government Resident said that O’Brien was not in charge of a black man, but had white gaolers all the time.
– That interjection renders it unnecessary for me to continue my remarks, but I did not hear the honorable member make the statement previously.
– If O’Brien was under the control of white gaolers, how did he come to assault the kanaka constable?
– One mightreasonably ask how it is that any man could be at liberty Jong enough to commit the long series of offences which have been read against O’Brien. When I heard it read, I was not at all surprised that he did clear out, as it seemed to me the only sensible thing for him to do. I hope the Government will ascertain, not only whether O’Brien was under the control of a coloured constable, but also whether it is the practice to commit white offenders to the custody of Papuans. We have been asked by interjection why Papuans should not be placed in this position. The simple answer I would advance is that, not only in British New Guinea, but elsewhere, whites hold their position largely by prestige. It seems to me that that prestige will be undermined if the natives become familiarized to the fact that they occupy a position not nearly equal, but on certain occasions superior, to that of white men. It is not desirable that we should do anything to induce a feeling of that kind, for it is quite conceivable that if we whittle down the prestige which gives us. our main hold on the natives, it may lead to very serious trouble at a later date.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).The interjection I made may be misconstrued. I do not object to white men being constables over white men; but, as there are no white constables, I cannot see why a man, even though He is not white, should not have the necessary power given to him to uphold the law. In the circumstances, it is quite proper for the Adminis tration to employ men who, perhaps, have led as good lives as even miners, to repress crime.
– It appears to me that Senator Higgs has taken up a rather peculiar position. We have heard that a native constable has allowed himself to be nearly butchered instead of shooting his assailant dead, as a white constable would have done. But the sympathy of Senator Higgs is given to the white man who attempted the butchery, and not to the man who was nearly butchered. I do not understand his point of view at all. The whole circumstances of this case need further investigation, and I shall be very glad if it is undertaken.
– I have to thank the Government for agreeing to my request that a judicial inquiry should be held. I am sure that no better person could be selected for that duty - in the opinion of the. miners and of the Government - than the Chief Justice of the Possession. At the same time, I do not think Senator Playford adopted a judicial attitude and put the case in as unbiased a manner as he might have “done. He made a most violent attack on the alleged offences of O’Brien.
– I only wanted to put the other side of the question. The honorable senator’s statement was in favour of the prisoner.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I do not think so. I attempted neither to palliate nor to deny anything.
– The native constable was sitting down with a rifle in his hand when the other fellow sneaked up from behind and chopped him down with a tomahawk.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.According to the honorable senator, O’Brien must be a perfect fiend in human form, for that is the only inference which can be drawn from his remarks. He said that O’Brien murderously attacked his guard, presumably with the intention to kill him. Although that guard happened to be a coloured man, yet the honorable senator said a few minutes afterwards there were no coloured guards. That contradicts not only the magistrate’s statement but his own. Senator Playford did not state that the guard seriously injured O’Brien, but the evidence shows that he was wounded first.
– The guard said that O’Brien came on him sneakingly, and struck him with the sharp edge of a tomahawk.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The honorable senator read out a list of most atrocious crimes, alleged against this man. The charge of attempted murder refers to the fracas with the guard, who, it is stated, was nearly killed’, although it is interesting to know that he was able to walk to the station, and a few days afterwards he was giving evidence, so that he could not have been very badly injured. Putting aside the question .of the murderous attack, which was related in such a thrilling manner by Senator Playford, we have the charge of robbery of £1,000 The grounds of the charge were that O’Brien happened to be in the neighbourhood at the time of the robbery. But the owner of the gold publicly stated that he was satisfied that O’Brien was not the thief. Surely the owner would be the last man to acquit him, unless he was perfectly satisfied on the point. When we come to look into the charge of arson, we find that it amounts to the burning of a trumpery bush shed. It must have struck the Senate that Senator Playford adopted rather a biased attitude. I do not say whether O’Brien is, or is not, a decent member of society. He may be a despicable character if we take the’ version of the authorities, or a violent-tempered but good-hearted1 man, if we take the miners’ version.
– He stated, in effect, “I am fully armed and will shoot any man who tries to arrest me.”
– But we cannot take the evidence of a third party. That is merely the statement of a man who said that O’Brien used those words.
– From whom could we get evidence on that point then ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.From O’Brien himself, certainly, as well as the person who heard the words used. Senator Playford also alleged that there was a petition signed by seventeen men, who neither condoned1 the offences of O’Brien nor sympathized with him. I am not aware that any white man or any coloured man in British New Guinea did condone actual offences, or would sympathize with the man who committed them. But it is significant that of those seventeen men, four signed a petition to the Minister of External Affairs. With regard to the statement that white prisoners have white gaolers, I desire to say that, as a matter of fact, they do not. There are a resident magistrate and two assistant residents, one of whom may theoretically be regarded as a gaoler. But the man who actually watches the prisoners and looks after them, is one of the black constabulary; and when a white prisoner is put to a menial occupation like scrub-cutting, work which is never done in New Guinea except by a coloured man, and when the white man has a coloured gaoler standing over him, possibly insulting him - though I am sure that the Resident Magistrate would punish any gaoler who was guilty of doing that - he is subjected to treatment which is calculated to create resentment.
– Is that the evidence of O’Brien, or of a third party?
– I am stating what is possible. Our Government in British New Guinea rests on our prestige. The natives believe that a white man is very much more powerful than one of themselves, and that if they kill a white man his spirit is much more powerful than theirs. The reason of our success in British New Guinea up to the present - and it is a success of which we can be proud - is that the natives have always recognised the power of the white men, and have never risen against them. We have never had1 occasion to send one white soldier into British New Guinea. Although we have 400,000 natives, trained to arms, many of them cannibals, and some head hunters, we have had very little difficulty with them. That is largely due to the magnificent administration of Sir William McGregor and those appointed by him. But directly the natives begin to feel that they are equal or superior to white men, and can make white men work and do as they like, our prestige disappears. Up to the present we have had the loyal co-operation of the white miners in maintaining law and order.
– The honorable senator’s statement as to prestige is correct, but he wants to disparage the black man as compared with the white.
– I think that as a matter of policy no white man should ever be put in charge of a coloured gaoler. I saw O’Brien in New Guinea. I do not think I said half-a-dozen words to him, but certainly I was not led to believe that he was such a murderous ruffian as Senator Playford makes out.
– The honorable senator escaped, evidently !
– My presence here is proof of that.
– What has become of O’Brien?
– He may have been shot under the mandate of the Assistant Resident Magistrate who outlawed him. I trust, at any rate, that the Government will submit to the chief judicial officer or the Administrator the question of whether it is not inadvisable to have coloured gaolers placed in charge of white prisoners.
– They deny that there were any coloured gaolers in this case.
– It is simply idle to say that, when the honorable senator knows that the man who stood over O’Brien with a rifle was a native, and that O’Brien overcame him and took the weapon from him.
– Is there not clearly a discrepancy?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There is a number qf discrepancies. For instance, one of the miners is reported fo have stated to the magistrate that whatever he did .he should be careful to keep O’Brien safe, because he was such a dangerous man. A few paragraphs further on in the same letter it is stated” that this man was a great friend of O’Brien. Evidently that is a contradiction. There ls a white gaoler at Port Moresby, which is only seventy miles away from the field, though certainly it is over the gap, which is a very difficult climb. There is also a white gaoler at Woodlark Island. I think that the Government might ask the chief judicial officer or the Administrator if it would not be advisable to send white prisoners to one of those places. I am sure that would give satisfaction to the miners, and would not result in the loss of prestige which undoubtedly will occur if natives are put over white men’.
– We will refer the report of the debate to the Administrator, and direct attention to the honorable senator’s speech.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 3rd August (vide page 546), on motion by Senator Dawson -
That, in accordance with the most treasured traditions of British Governments and British justice, and for the cementing of the Empire intoone harmonious whole, this Senate is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland.
– In the absence of Senator Mulcahy, who moved the adjournment of the debate on this motion, I rise to support it. I consider that it is a great privilege to have an opportunity to say a word or two in support of the principle of Home RuleIt is in accordance with the fitness of thingsthat a democratic House of Legislature, such as the Senate undoubtedly is, should pass a motion of this nature. If there is any people in the world who can speak with authority on the advantages of selfgovernment, it is the Australians. From our long, experience of it, there can be but one conclusion - that self-government is beneficialto a people who have the making of their own laws in their own way. I cannot understand how any Australian can find” anything to say against this principle. I cannot understand how people who have the privileges and rights of self-government themselves should not desire to doeverything possible to extend those rights to other people, more especially in the case of a country like Ireland, where the lack of self-government has undoubtedly wrought more disaster than in any other country in the world.
– Not exceptingPoland ?
– I do not thinkthat even Poland or any country under the Government of Russia has suffered as Ireland has done from the absence of selfgovernment.
– The honorable senator’ does not believe that !
– I think I shall be able to prove that, notwithstanding all that has been said about Russian misrule in Poland and Finland, the population of those countries has increased j and that is more than can be said for unhappy Ireland, where the population has decreased by something like one-half during, the last fifty or sixty years. If the populations of Poland and Finland have increased - and I shall be able to show that they have - whilst the population of Ireland has decreased, then, whatever may be said about Russian misrule, there is clearly something to be said on the other side. Before going further, I wish to say that this motion would be improved if it were differently framed. Seeing that another place is moving in the same direction, it would, I think, have -been advisable to place this motion in the form of an address to the King, so as to make the action of both Chambers uniform. An address of this kind to His Majesty appears to me very fitting, because it is generally understood that the King is .very sympathetic in his attitude towards Ireland. That is an additional reason why it would be better if Senator Dawson- had consulted honorable members of another place with a view to unity of action. So far, the only argument that I have heard against the motion is that we in Australia ought not to interfere in the affairs of the Empire. It is rather too late in the day to take up such a position. So long as we are part and parcel of the Empire, we are entitled to take the responsibility of expressing our opinions an Imperial questions ; and this is a most important matter from the standpoint of the Empire. Indeed, I know of none more important, and therefore I claim that the Senate has every right to pass a motion of this kind.
– Will the honorable senator kindly define what he means by Home Rule?
– The Bill introduced in the Imperial Parliament by the late Mr. Gladstone has been the subject of debate for the last twenty years, so that there can be no doubt as to the meaning of Home Rule. That Bill laid down a scheme of government for Ireland, and it supplies me with the definition asked for bv Senator Walker.
– Under that Bill, Irish representatives in the British House of Commons were to be entitled to legislate on Imperial questions.
– I recognise that that was a flaw in the Bill, but considering the attitude of the Irish representatives and people .on the point, it is a flaw which could be removed without much difficulty. It is hard to understand how the House of Commons could be constituted with members having the right to legislate on Imperial matters, but excluded from dealing with the business connected with England* Scotland, and Wales. That would be a clumsy way to conduct parliamentary business; and certainly a Government would find itself iri a very strange position with members on whose support they could not count on domestic questions. but, as 1. say there have been numerous proposals made since then which point a way out of the difficulty. It is to be deeply regretted that a question of this kind cannot be discussed without the danger of insulting references to one’s political opinions. I am sorry that Senator Fraser is absent, because I am about to offer some criticisms of the attitude which he took up when this motion was first introduced. Senator Fraser then referred to Home Rulers as enemies of England. The honorable senator did not discriminate in any way, but classed all Home Rulers alike, and added that he made the’ charge advisedly and deliberately. The absurdity of the charge, however, is recognised when we consider the vast numbers of worthy subjects of the Empire who are in favour of Home Rule for Ireland; and I am satisfied that Senator Fraser was guilty of mere extravagance of language. Senator Fraser argued that because Irishmen were “against the flag,” more particularly in reference to the South African war, they were disloyal to the Empire. But if criticism of a war of the Empire constitutes disloyalty, then amongst the disloyal we must class Mr. CampbellBannerman, leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons, Mr. John Morley, one of the leading Liberals, the late Sir William Harcourt, and nearly all those who are or were the leading lights on the Liberal side of politics at home. Even if Senator Fraser’s remark was intended to apply only to Irishmen, it was quite uncalled for. Irish Home Rulers have as much right to criticise a British war as have any subjects of the Empire. We do not exempt Home Rulers from the responsibility of contributing to the cost of our wars, or from taking their fair share of the fighting, some of the hardest fighting regiments in the Boer war, from beginning to end, being Irish, more particularly the Dublin Fusiliers. These facts only show the utter unfairness of the charge of disloyalty made by Senator Fraser. If the charge was made deliberately, in the belief that it is true, I can only feel sorry for a gentleman who can hold such views, and regard any opinions from him on a question of this kind as of verv little value. It may Le, perhaps, that some allowance should be made for Senator Fraser in the use of extravagant language on a subject of this kind. Another remark made by the honorable senator was that there are two Irelands - one prosper- ous, and theother poverty-stricken and discontented. A great deal more is made of the minority opinion in Ireland than is quite justifiable. At least three of the four provinces are absolutely solid on the question of self-government. Every parliamentary representative returned for those three provinces goes to the House of Commons on the distinct understanding that he must endeavour to bring about Home Rule as early as possible, and at least onehalf of the representatives from the fourth province hold the same opinion. There are, therefore, no two Irelands, or, at all events, if there are, one is very small, and the feeling against Home Rule there is a diminishing quantity.
– In the event of Home Rule being granted, does the honorable senator favour the presence of Irish members in the House of Commons?
– I should not think that, with Home Rule, there would be Irish members in the House of Commons. I have already explained that several schemes have been propounded for getting over that difficulty. In any case, that and kindred questions are matters of detail, which I do not think it wise for us to debate. Several of the most prominent advocates of Home Rule have refused to go into detail, contending that all it is necessary to obtain at present is a recognition of the principle. There is no doubt that public opinion in Ireland is changing on this question, and an extract from a Glasgow newspaper, which I propose to read, will show that there are no two Irelands in the sense suggested by Senator Fraser. The Glasgow Observer of the 22nd July of this year contains the following : -
Remarkable Appeal by Orangemen.
The Press Association’s Belfast correspondent telegraphs : - A remarkable manifesto has been issued by the Independent Orange Order of Ireland. The manifesto, which is signed by Mr. T.H. Sloan, M.P., Mr. Lindsay Crawford, the Imperial Grand Master, and other officials of the institution, is addressed to all Irishmen, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, whose country stands first in their affection ; and, after dealing with land and labour, town tenants, the financial! position of the country, and redistribution of seats, concludes as follows : - “ Castle government stands self-condemned. We do not trust either of the English parties on any of the questions that divide Ireland, and we are satisfied that both Liberals and Tories will continue in the future, as they have done in the past, to play off Irish Protestants and Nationalists against each other to the prejudice of our country. This being so, we consider that it is high time that
Irish Protestants should consider their position, as Irish citizens and their attitude towards their Roman Catholic countrymen, and that the latter should choose once for all between nationality and sectarianism. In an Ireland in which Protestant and Roman Catholic stand sullen and discontented it is not too much to hope that both, will reconsider their positions, and in their common trials unite on a true basis of nationality. The higher claims of our distracted country have been too long neglected in the strife of party and of creed. There is room in Ireland for a patriotic party with a sound constructive policy that will devote itself to the task of freeing the country from the domination of impracticable creeds and organized tyrannies, and to. securing the urgent and legitimate redress of her many grievances.”
– I am reading, an extract, and I leave each honorable senator to take his own meaning from it. It is not for me to define terms for Senator Gray, who is old enough to be able to decide what an expression means, without any assistance from me.
– Is it an expression of loyalty ?
– What I have read is a manifesto published by an Orange Lodge, and signed by its leading men, Mr. Sloan, M.P., and Mr. Lindsay Crawford, Grand Master. It is stated here that the manifesto was also signed by others, but the names of two persons only are given.. It is the opinion of this organization that “Castle government” stands self condemned, and that political parties in England have all along been merely playing one section of the people in Ireland against the other. The people of the North of Ireland are showing a desire to bring this kind of thing to an end, and, in view of that fact, we, in this Senate, should have no doubt as to what our opinion on the question should be. If this manifesto is a true indication of the feelings of the people in the North of Ireland, I hail it as one of the most welcome documents which, has appeared for many years in connexion with Irish affairs.
– It really advocates separation.
– It does nothing of the kind. The word “ separation “ isnot mentioned in the document from beginning to end.
– Nor is there any reference to Home Rule.
– It merely says that two sections of the people in Ireland who have so long been fighting against each other in Kilkenny-cat fashion, should be brought into one party, and should be prepared to work together for the good of their country.
– As against the “ Castle “ party, which represents the King.
– Those who sign this manifesto say the “ Castle government “ stands condemned.
– That is the King.
– I have a higher opinion of the King than to imagine that he has any sympathy whatever with the form of government which is so well known in Ireland under the term of “ Castle government.”
– The King is represented in Ireland in just the same way as he is represented here in Australia.
– If Senator Gray had ever lived in Ireland, or had ever read anything of Irish history, he would not make such a statement. It is ridiculous to compare the government of the Commonwealth or of any of the States with the government in Ireland.
– I was not comparing them.
– They cannot be compared. In this document, signed by Orangemen of Ulster, it is clear that they are beginning to realize that they have been long enough made tools of, and are now endeavouring to bring about a better state of affairs. My opinion has long been that the opposition of different sections in the North of Ireland has been continued in existence and fostered for one purpose, and for one purpose only, and that is to keep the people apart. It has been fostered by the landlord class, whose interest it has been to keep the people apart, so that they may drag rents and the profits of the farmers’ work from this hard-working class. I take it that there are farmers amongst the Orangemen of Ulster as well as amongst the Catholic population of the province, and they are now evidently beginning to see that they have been made catspaws of in the past. It is now clear that they believe that an end should be put to such a condition of affairs, and that is a good sign. We have, from time to time, heard a very great deal about the prosperity of Ulster. We have been told1 that that part of Ireland is advancing in prosperity by leaps and bounds. I have endeavoured to find out if these statements are true. I have had a little experience in Ireland. When I nad reached the age of manhood, and was quite capable of forming an opinion, I visited the North of Ireland, and, later on, I made a visit to the South of Ireland. I worked for some time in the iron ore mines of Antrim, in the North of Ireland, and was sufficiently long in that part of the country to gain an insight into Irish affairs as presented by existing conditions in the North of Ireland. I am able to say that I found there was quite as much poverty and distress in the North of Ireland as I afterwards saw in the county of Wicklow, the part of the South of Ireland which I visited. In the light of my experience of the country, the continual references to the prosperity of the North of Ireland have come as a surprise to me. Senator Fraser, in making his statement on the subject, did not think it necessary to advance any proof. I propose to subject the honorable senator’s remarks to some criticism, and to give figures bearing on the question which will put a different complexion on them. Taking Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics as my authority, I find that according to the census returns, during a period of twenty years from 187 1 to 1 89 1, there was a loss of population in the’ province of Ulster of 220,000 ; and during the same period a smaller loss is shown by the figures for each of the other provinces. For Leinster the figures are 218,000, Munster 148,000, and Connaught 121,000. These figures relate to a period within that referred to by Senator Fraser, who told us that within the last fifty or sixty years the North of Ireland had been going ahead by leaps and bounds. If we take a longer period, and go back to the census year of 1841, and up to the latest census year of 1901, a period of sixty years, we shall find that Ulster lost something like 800,000 people. That is surely a marvellous proof of prosperity ! Here we have a province with a population of some 2,000,000, losing nearly half that number during a period of sixty years. If that is a sign of prosperity, God help the country afflicted with it. Such a loss of population, wherever it takes place, is a proof that there has been no prosperity. 1! have had great difficulty in getting information bearing on ‘the statement made bv Senator Fraser. I recognise that it is true that Belfast has, within the last fifty or sixty years, made great strides.
– Can the honorable senator favour us with the figures for Belfast ?
– I have not the figures for the city itself. The only figures I have been able to get cover the whole of the province. We must remember that Belfast is not Ulster any more than Ulster is Ireland, and the statistics of a city may give no indication of the condition of affairs over a whole province, like Ulster, in which there are nine counties. I quote now from a paper presented to the British Parliament by the Home Office, and, taking the figures relating to the income tax assessments in Ireland, I find’ that they do not place this much-belauded Ulster at the top of the list. It is nearer to the bottom of the list. According to this parliamentary paper, Leinster paid £,1.0 6s. 9d. per head of population in income tax, Munster paid £6 os. 7d., Ulster, (second last on the list) paid £,$ 14s. 5d., and Connaught £3 13s. 7d. These figures do not show any great prosperity in Ulster. In a table appearing in the same parliamentary paper, showing the income tax paid on profits made in professions and trades in the various provinces, I find Leinster again at the head of the list with £4. 2s. 6d. per head.
– Leinster includes the capital, Dublin.
– Ulster is second with £,1 9s. id., and honorable senators will admit that it is a poor second when they notice the difference between the amounts.
– “Castle” influence seems to have been of advantage for Leinster.
– There is “Castle” rule all over the island, as well as in Dublin. Munster paid.£,I 7s. id., and Connaught 6s. id. The figures which I have quoted will not prove Senator Fraser’s Statement as to the prosperity of Ulster. Thev show that it is far from being in a state of prosperity, and is not even the most prosperous of the provinces of Ireland. There can be no doubt, speaking generally, that there is very little prosperity in any of the provinces. This is not to be wondered at when we remember the way in which its industries have been destroyed. The commercial and industrial history of Ireland is indeed most dismal reading. That honorable senators may have the facts placed before them as concisely as possible, I propose to quote from a work, Modern Ireland: Its Vital Questions, Secret Societies, and Government, by an “ Ulsterman.”
– Who is the Ulsterman?Senator DE LARGIE.- I do not know,, but I have taken the book from the Library, and Senator Gray will be able to peruse it for himself. The author says - “ If we were to state to an Irish gentleman,,r wrote Mr. Eden, “ the 1 long continued poverty, and idleness which –’- prevailed over so large’ a proportion of his countrymen, he would probably answer : - ‘ All this may be very true, but the monopolizing spirit of our sister kingdom isthe cause of it ; that spirit exercising itself upon Ireland in a very early state of her civilization, nipped her disposition to industry, and, indeed, made it impossible for her to become industrious. In the very infancy of our country, and whilst we were contenting ourselves with the exportations and sale of our cattle, you made an Act to prohibit those exportations. We next gaveour attention to the increase of our sheep, inorder to export wool, but you forthwith prohibited the exportation of wool, and made it subject to forfeiture. We then endeavoured to employ and support ourselves by salting provisions for sale ; but you immediately refused themadmittance into England, in order to increasethe rents of your lands, though you thereby increased the wages of your labourers.’ “
– To what date was he referring ?
– I can give the dates of the various Acts to which he wasreferring.
– He was referring tothe sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and not to the nineteenth century.
– The same remarks would! apply to all other countries.
– One by one the writer takes the Acts which have been directed by the British Parliament against Irish industries. I do not wish to protract my remarks by citing their titles, but Senator Gray can see the book presently, and if he finds that it contains an incorrect statement, he will have an opportunity to supply a correction.
– I do not doubt the accuracy of the statements. I only wished’ to know what time the writer was referring to.
– The book was published in 1868. Continuing, the writersaid - “We next began the woollen manufacture;, but it was no sooner established then destroyed ; for you prohibited the exportation of manufactured woollens to any other place than England” and Wales, and this prohibition alone is reported to have forced 20,000 manufacturers outof the Kingdom.”
Surely, in the face of these statements as to want of prosperity, there is good reason? for me to urge that Home Rule should be- granted to Ireland. This want of prosperity was due to the Acts of a foreign Parliament, which stands condemned by these enumerations - “ The Navigation Act had unwittingly but kindly permitted all commodities to be imported into Ireland upon the same terms as into England; but, by an Act passed three years afterwards, the exportation of any goods from Ireland into any of the plantations was prohibited, and, as if that had not sufficiently crippled the benefits given fay the Navigation Act, we were soon afterwards forbid to import any of the enumerated commodities from the plantations into Ireland. This restriction, too, was much enforced by subsequent Acts, and the list of enumerated goods was much increased. I say nothing of your regulations respecting glass, hops, sail cloth, &c, and other inferior barriers and obstructions to our commerce.”
If Senator Gray will study this book he will obtain useful information. All the Acts are cited in’ the foot-notes, and the honorable senator can inform himself as to the operation of the provisions of any particular measure.
– They have all been repealed.
– I dare say they have, and I am inclined to think it was a, case of making fast the stable door after the steed had gone. But the bad effects of these laws have not been repealed, and never shall be repealed, until Ireland has the right to make her own laws, and work out her own destiny:
– There is no doubt that they produced bad results. -Senator DE LARGIE.- These laws so disheartened the population, that practically all spirit of reliance upon English law has vanished. I do not mean to say that Irish people have become so degenerate that they cannot, when the opportunity is presented, become quite as prosperous and industrious as any other people. In Australia we have very fair proof that the Irishman is quite equal to the Englishman or the Scotchman, that whenever he gets an opportunity he requires no advantages over others in order to make headway.
– Especially the North of Ireland man.
– Yes. With Scotch blood running in his veins, it would be hard for any man to surpass the North of Ireland man in thrift and industry. The same remark might be applied’ to all Irishmen. We know that a great many Irish people emigrate to the United States. When they are left untrammelled, and stand upon the same footing as other people, Irishmen display their inherent good qualities. I propose to read an extract showing what the American opinion of this race is.
– The honorable senator does not mean to assert that there are the same facilities and opportunities in Ireland as in America?
– Certainly not. The Irishman lives in poverty and distress in Ireland, but when he crosses the Atlantic he becomes industrious and prosperous. I cannot conceive that it is the mere passage across the ocean which changes his whole nature. In the new country he is buoyed up with some hope of becoming prosperous and contented.
– The same remarks apply to immigrants from other countries.
– I do not think that otherimmigrants are so successful in America as Irishmen.
– The Germans are.
– Well, I think I shall be able to demonstrate that even the German does not become as prosperous as the Irishman in the United States. But be that as it may, I propose to read an extract in order to show that the history of the Irishman is not a chapter of defeat and disaster, and that wherever he gets an opportunity he is quite able to take his part in the industrial life of a country, where the conditions are fair. The extract I propose to read is taken from a New York newspaper called the Evening Post, which was published on the 10th November, 1903. It reads as follows: -
A novel analysis of the last census returns has been made by the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labour to show the proportion of the different nationalities in the various industries. The result shows such a predominance of the Irish race that Massachusetts may almost be said to be New Ireland. Just where the old native stock of Massachusetts is left seems problematical, for the foreigners have an overwhelming majority in the industries- and the Irish are a large majority of them - while in the Government service the Irish are more than double all other of. foreign birth, and they are about a third more than those of Massachusetts birth or descent. . . . Nine classifications are made under the head of professional occupation, religion, law, medicine, literature, art, music, amusement, education, and science. In every one, except art, the Irish are the most numerous among foreign-born, and the distribution among the different professions in this State doubtless indicates what is probably true of the race in all other States. In science, next to art, the race shows the least relative lead, but under the head of education, which includes thousands of school teachers, they have 2,506 , out of 4,700 of foreign descent. So one turns to occupation after occupation and finds similar predominance of the Irish over all other foreignborn.
The census figures bear out the statements in the extract. This quotation ought to show that if a race which is often looked upon as rather thriftless, were granted the blessing of Home Rule, they would become as industrious and thrifty as any other race in the United Kingdom. Considering the awful state of poverty which has existed in Ireland for so many years, I do not think there should be two opinions as to what action shall be taken, if the desire be to restore prosperity to that part of the Empire. Although the population of Ireland is constantly decreasing, still the taxation is increasing. Let us contrast the figures for 1820 with the figures for 3904. In 1820 the annual taxation was only £5, 500.000, while the population was 6.800,000; but in 1904 the annual taxation had increased to .£9,750,000, while the population had decreased to 4,400,000.
– What inference does the honorable senator draw from that?
– From those figures I draw the inference that in Ireland there is the most disheartening state of affairs that perhaps has been witnessed in modern history. I do not think that it is rivalled in any part of Europe. When it is remembered that the annual taxation has increased, by 85 per cent., while the population has decreased by 35 per cent., I think it will be admitted that no other country in Europe presents such a depressing picture.
– Are the Irish people more prosperous now than they were?
– No; the Irish people are ground down by taxation.
– It has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they are. Ten years ago a Financial Committee was appointed: by the House of Commons to inquire into the question of taxation in Ireland, and its finding was to the effect that it was taxed to the extent of three millions sterling a year more than it ought to have been in comparison with other parts of the United Kingdom. Although Ireland is so poor, and so heavily taxed, and no ameliorative step has been taken, still, honorable senators seem to be astonished that the Irish people should ask for the right to make their own laws.
– Is the honorable senator aware that taxation in Great Britain has more than doubled in the same period ?
– I am confining my attention to Ireland.
– Great Britain is supposed to be more prosperous, but her taxation has increased.
– The conditions of union between England and Ireland prescribed that Ireland should pay a share of taxation according to her ability. There is no doubt that she has been paying more than she can afford. Her obligations have increased whilst her population has decreased. It is, therefore, high time that something was done in order that Irelandshould get a fair deal in the amount of taxation she has to pay.
– But on a population basis she has more than her share of representation in the Imperial Parliament.
– There is something in what Senator Walker has said. On a strict population basis, Ireland has more members of Parliament than Scotland has.
– She has thirty more members than her population entitles her to.
– She has not thirty more, but the over proportion probably approaches that figure.
– It is not a wrong that Ireland has more representation than she is entitled to.
– It is a very, great wrong, in view of the fact that it is owing to bad laws that Ireland has been depopulated. If she had retained the population she ought to have had, instead of her representation in the Imperial Parliament decreasing, we should have heard something of the necessity for increasing it. Why has her population decreased ? Through unjust laws. Why, therefore, should she be robbed of some of her members? And her decrease in population is not a matter of the past. It is -still going on. It might have been expected that there would be a loss of population during the years of famine. But even to-day there is a constant drain of people from Ireland. Surely something should be done to put an end to that state of affairs. . We have to remember that the loss to Ireland is a loss to the Empire. The great majority of people who leave that country do not come to Australia or go to Canada. The overwhelming majority emigrate to the United States, and the reasons which cause them to leave their own country harden them against the Empire. They use their opportunities whenever international questions arise for settlement. When arbitration treaties have been proposed between Great Britain and the United States, it has been admitted in both countries that the Irish-American influence has prevented their ratification. That is a direct result of misrule in Ireland. Are we content to allow that state of affairs to continue, or shall we do our best to remove one of the most deplorable factors that operate against the interests of the Empire? There is no country in the world that it would be so much to Great Britain’s advantage to have a good understanding with as the United States of America, but that is impossible so long as Ireland is denied the right of self-government. Senator Walker advanced a rather novel argument when he referred to Ireland as being so close to Great Britain that her very proximity should exclude her from self-government. I would remind him that the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are much nearer to Great Britain than Ireland is. Yet those little communities have self-government, and we never hear a word of suspicion as to its being dangerous.
– Have they the same form of Home Rule as Ireland wishes to have ?
– I do not enter into the question of the kind of selfgovernment that they enjoy. They have a form of Home Rule that satisfies them. I dare say the people of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man would, if they were discontented, make known their wishes. But if Senator Walker’s argument is a good one, I might remind him that the distance between Dover and Calais is only about twenty miles, If we say that the proximity of Ireland to England is an argument against self-government, we might as well object to self-government being enjoyed by “France and other countries of Europe. Why not say at once that England alone has a right to govern the earth, that all other nations are intruders ! When one hears an argument like that he is reminded of a remark by Mark Twain, that the British people are the only modern race who are singled out for reference in the Bible. He said that he could not but think that the passage, “ Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”’ must apply to the English. The objection to self-government in Ireland, because of its proximity to England, is really an instance of that proclivity for land-grabbing which, I am sorry to say, finds its defenders even in this Senate. Statistics which I have quoted from authorities which cannot be doubted, prove that the condition of any country cannot be worse than that of Ireland is.
– As it was, or as it is?
– As it is, and as it has been for many generations. I have shown how Ireland has lost her population. I have compared her in this respect with Finland and Poland under Russian rule. There cannot be other thanmisrule when one country governs another without its consent. Honorable senators may object to our passing this motion, but there is one thing of which they may be sure. Whether Home Rule is granted in this generation or the next, there will be no breaking down the determination of the Irish to win it. If there is one thing more than another that I admire in theIrish, it is the steadfastness and the patient endurance with which, for generation after generation,’ they have persisted” in their struggle for self-government. Every one who takes an interest in the affairs of the Empire must deplore that this open sore has, by bad government,, been kept from healing for so many generations. From an Imperial stand-point,, and from every stand-point, there is reason for supporting the motion which has beensubmitted by Senator Dawson, and I hopethat the Senate will carry it by such a majority as will show beyond any doubt the feeling of the Australian -Senate onthis important question.
– I donot propose to occupy any considerable time in discussing this motion. It doesnot seem to be necessary to debate it at length, because, its opponents are so barrenof argument that we have nothing to reply to. It is useless to try to convince peoplewho have no arguments to bring forward’ in support of the case which they profess to maintain. There are, however, one or two things that I should like to say in justification of our right to pass a motion of this character. It has been contended that it is altogether besideour duty and out of our provinceto discuss the question of Home Rule.
– Ireland does not interfere with us.
– I ask gentlemen who hold the view I have indicated whether it is not a fact that we in this Commonwealth are an integral portion of the Empire, and interested in the welfare of every part of the Empire?
– Was there not interference in South Africa?
– Of course, and a pretty mess we made of that ! It is .a matter of vital concern to us what takes place within the Empire, and we ought to do what we can to secure the Empire’s foundations.
– In South Africa ?
– Even in South Africa. The way to secure the foundation of the Empire, so as to make it enduring, is not to rely on injustice, which is the most unstable of all foundations; I shall not argue the South African question, but confine myself strictly to what relates to Home Rule for Ireland.
– The Imperial Parliament interferes in our legislation.
– That is so. As Senator Dawson pointed out, this motion merely asks for an expression of opinion. I have no hesitation, and I do not think the Senate will have any hesitation, in expressing an opinion on this question. But I go further, and give utterance to the hope that the opinion, when it is expressed, will have considerable weight with the Imperial authorities. We were told by Senator Fraser, and it was more than hinted by Senator Walker, that Home Rule, if granted, for Ireland would not really mean Home Rule, but something entirely different. There has been imported into the discussion a feeling of sectarian bitterness, which is very much to be deplored. I should have preferred to see the question discussed in its political aspect, entirely removed from any religious or social associations. But as the sectarian view has Deen touched on, <some reply should be given ; and although Ireland is the country where I was born, and where nearly all my friends and relatives at the present time live, I feel all the more free to offer some explanation, seeing that my religion “is not the religion which seems to be so much condemned bv Senator Walker and Senator Fraser. I belong to the Protestant religion, and I can say in the face of all the world that, although I was born in the middle of one of the southern coun ties of Ireland, where over three-fourths of the population were Roman Catholics, the utmost good feeling prevailed between the two bodies, and I never witnessed there one quarter of the sectarian bitterness that I have heard in Australia. If Home Rule would mean Rome rule, as those honorable senators would have us believe, it is curious that the strongest advocates of self-government .for Ireland during the last half-century have been members of the Protestant faith. Parnell, the great leader of the Home Rule movement in recent years, was a Protestant of Protestants ; and if we look at the roll of Irish patriots and agitators we shall find it almost monopolized by men of the Protestant faith.
– Robert Emmett vas a Protestant.
– Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone, and most of the Irish patriots during the last fifty years, have, with a few notable exceptions, been men of the Protestant faith. That fact disposes of the argument adduced by Senator Walker and Senator Fraser that Home Rule would practically mean Rome rule. .As a matter of fact, the most trusted leaders of the Irish party to-day in the old country, and outside the old country, are, the majority of them, of the Protestant faith. Those who are possessed, or profess to be possessed, with a fear that Home Rule would create sectarian bitterness in Ireland, and, leading to what they call a religious war, would bring about the usurpation of all power by a foreign religious potentate, have no ground for alarm. I am afraid such arguments are the result of the unconscious sectarian bitterness which lies at the back of the taunts which they utter. Home Rule really, means giving to Ireland exactly that measure of self-government which we in the Commonwealth possess - giving the right to the people to manage their own affairs in their own way, so far as they relate to Ireland only. Nobody has ever put forward a demand that Ireland should have the right to manage its own affairs, so far as Imperial interests are concerned. Ireland has always possessed the right to manage Irish affairs, notwithstanding that she has unjustly been deprived of the power to exercise that right. What I mean is that technically and legally Ireland has always possessed the right to manage her own affairs; and when the power to exercise that right was taken away in 1800, it was done in an illegal and corrupt fashion. If I appoint an agent to do a certain thing for me, that agent cannot destroy me in the process. A Parliament elected by the people to legislate for the people has no legal or technical authority to destroy itself, or take away from the people the right which they possess to govern themselves. When the Irish people gave the mandate to the Irish Parliament, which sat at that time, to legislate for Ireland, they did not give it any authority to divest itself of the power to legislate; and yet that is what the Irish Parliament corruptly did. As I say, the Irish people have always possessed1 the right to govern themselves, and it only need’s the assertion - which would probably have to be backed by force to be effective - to restore that right to them. The right to govern themselves is inherent in the Irish people; and to give them Home Rule now would be only restoring what should never have been taken from them. I am one who believes that Home Rule is needed, not only for Ireland but for every part of the British Empire. Home Rule is just as necessary for Scotland, Wales, and England as for Ireland.
– There is Home Rule in London, under the London County Council.
– That is only a small measure of Home Rule for one particular place. I maintain that the people of England would be better able to manage their own affairs if they were not partially governed by the people of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and the same may be said of each of those countries. What are the facts in relation to the British Parliament of today? That Parliament, as a machine for doing certain work, has grown unwieldy, incapable, and ineffective.
– It is overladen.
– As Senator Dawson interjects, the British Parliament is overladen with duties which do not properly belong to it. The Imperial Parliament should have to legislate only in regard to Imperial affairs. Like the Commonwealth Parliament in Australia, the British Parliament should have to deal only with affairs of purely national concern throughout the Empire, while the ‘local Parliaments should be left to deal with matters of purely local concern. If this idea were carried out in regard to the four countries which form the United Kingdom, the Imperial Parliament would be free from the enormous load of work with which it is incapable of dealing, and would be able to more effectively discharge the duties which properly come within its sphere. It must be recognised that Englishmen are more competent to deal with English affairs, Scotchmen more competent to deal with Scotch affairs, and Irishmen more competent to deal with Irish affairs than a whole conglomeration of them is to deal with matters belonging to all parts. As the motion, however, deals only with Home Rule for Ireland, I shall confine myself to that particular aspect of the question. I put forward my views on the general question, in order to show that it is not mere patriotic or partisan feeling as an Irishman which leads me to so strongly favour self-government for Ireland, but the firm conviction that it would be essentially good for every portion of the Empire to have the same absolute right, each in consonance with local conditions, knowledge, and needs. If Ireland were given Home Rule, the Imperial Parliament would, as I say, be relieved from the enormous load of detail local work, which it has at present to perform, and which all great authorities admit it is incapable of properly carrying out. For that reason alone, it would be exceedingly desirable to give self-government to Ireland. It must be remembered that the question of Home Rule for Ireland has been a constant thorn in the side of the British Parliament; it has led to the business being almost hung up time after time, and has made the House of Commons the scene of struggles and squabbles in no way creditable to that great assembly. To grant Home Rule to Ireland would remove a bone of contention from the arena of that House, and leave it free to deal with the great national questions which urgently call for attention. As to the right of Ireland to self-government, it is conceded by every democrat that peoples who form separate nations or communities have an inherent right to govern themselves. Undoubtedly a country such as Ireland, whose separate nationality goes back to the dim ages, of which we have but a very imperfect record, has a special claim to the right to govern itself in accordance with its own ideas. Ireland has one overwhelming claim, which I think cannot be denied or disputed by anybody, namely, that until the beginning of the last century, it absolutely possessed Home Rule, under the British Crown, and it has never given up that right.
– It is the only case in history of a constitution being auctioned off.
– England was the buyer, but the people from whom she bought had not the right to sell, and the transaction therefore would not stand in any court of law. It was not a binding transaction, and the Irish people were in no way pledged to acquiesce in it. I pointed out that the Irish people possessed the right of self-government, and they exercised that right. They elected certain representatives to legislate for them in the Parliament in College Green, in Dublin. But they did not give to those representatives the right to deprive the people of Ireland of their power to legislate for themselves. They told their representatives to legislate for them, and they did not give them any mandate to sell or to barter away their right to legislate for themselves. The Irish people have never parted with their right to self-government. It is inherent still, and it is only the barest justice that the British’ people should restore.it to them. It is admitted by all English historians who have dealt with the question at all, and even by those who have displayed the utmost antipathy to the Irish people in many respects, that the legislative Union of Ireland and England was effected by the most foul and corrupt methods, and that the members of the Irish Parliament who consented to the Union were bought wholesale by British gold. They sold, as I said before, something which was not theirs, and which they had no right to sell, and that which was so bought could not pass rightly or legally. The Irish people are therefore in as full possession of their right to self-government to-day as they were before the Union was effected.
– But they have not got it.
– They have not got it, but that does not in any way affect the right or wrong of the matter. They have the same right to-day as they had before the Union, because they never gave it up, and were never consulted in the matter. Before the Union they were never asked for a mandate to consent to it. It was never put to them at any election, and their right was filched from them by corrupt legislators and by a corrupt Government in England, that tried to purchase the liberties of the people in that way.
– I want a vote.
– Senator Dawson reminds me that the time at the disposal of private members for the discussion of motions of this kind is very short. It is not advisable, therefore, that any honorable senator should speak at such length as to deprive other honorable senators of an equal opportunity to speak, or to prevent a vote being taken on the motion. I have no desire to prevent any other honorable senator from speaking, and I am most anxious that a vote shall be taken on this great question. Therefore, the further remarks 1 have to make will be very much condensed.
– I hope the honorable senator will not misunderstand me. I am interested in what he is saying, but I desire to have a vote on the motion all the same.
– I am aware of that. A great many portions of the British Empire already possess self-government. Australia, New Zealand, and the South African Colonies enjoy that right. Even the Transvaal Colony, which was conquered only the other clay, is to be given a measure of selfgovernment. Canada possesses selfgovernment, and I ask every thinking man in this chamber whether the concession of the right of self-government to those portions of the British Empire has had the effect of weakening the Empire? On the contrary, we know that it has strengthened it. As a matter of fact, the only great- Possession which Great Britain ever lost was that portion of her Empire to which she refused the right of self-government - the United States of America. What has proved to be good for other parts of the Empire must of necessity prove to be equally good for Ireland. I am willing to admit at once that the English Government have endeavoured in a great many ways to do good for the Irish people. Of late years they have sought to settle the land question, which has been at the root of all the Irish trouble, but they are only now at this eleventh hour trying to repair the almost irreparable injury previously inflicted upon Ireland. The system of government which in half a century results in the depletion of the population of a country by one half, stands self-condemned. In the middle of last century the population of Ireland, in round figures, was 9,000,000 ; to-day, fifty years later, it is 4,000,000. That it is a fact with respect to Ireland, no one can deny, because it is recorded in the public statistics of the country. How was that depletion of population brought about? Senator Puis- ford and others who are advocates of the great system of free-trade established by Great Britain, may attempt to deny the facts I am going to recite, but they are facts all the same. England, by legislative enactments, absolutely destroyed some of the great industries which Ireland’ possessed.
– That was under protection ; surely the honorable senator knows that?
– I am happy to be able to agree with Senator Pulsford, and I am exceedingly pleased to have from the honorable senator the admission that England has built up her industries by protection. England built up her many industries by adopting the system of protection, and at the same time destroying the industries of other countries.
– As late as the reign of William III. there was an Act passed which prohibited the exportation of manufactured woollen goods from Ireland. Is that a fact or is it not?
– There were a number of Acts of that sort of a very brutal character.
– It was a brutal Act. Almost every industry that Ireland possessed at that time was destroyed by Acts of a similar nature. Whenever Ireland possessed an industry which gave promise of being a source of lucrative employment to her people, England came along and destroyed it. As a matter of fact, the only two great survivors of Irish industries in Ireland to-day are the linen industry of Belfast, and the manufacture of poplin in Dublin.
– And the shipping industry. “Senator GIVENS. - The shipping industry is of very little importance, with the exception of that of Belfast. Lecky, the historian, in his History of England in the Eighteenth Century, in dealing with the destruction of Irish trade, and the English navigation laws passed for the purpose of preventing exports from Ireland, says -
Protestants then began to find that they were as little thought of as the Catholics. The suppression ofthe woollen trade brought ruin upon 12,000 Protestant families in Dublin -
Yet we have the so-called champions of the Protestant religion on the other side getting, up to-day, and saying that “Home Rule would mean Rome Rule.” The quotation from Lecky continues - and 30,000 in other parts of Ireland.
That is to say, 42,000 families were ruined by this one act of the very generous British Government towards Ireland -
By her commercial laws, England deliberately crushed the prosperity of the Protestant Colony in Ireland -
This was one of the results of that Protes tant ascendancy which seems to be so dear to the hearts of Senators Walker and Fraser - drovethousands , ofthem into exile,’ arrested the influx of Protestant population from Great Britain, and inspired the Presbyterians of the North with a bitter hatred of her rule.
Yet we are told that the movement for Home Rule is a movement for Rome Rule. As a matter of fact, in the last little rebellion in Ireland, in 1867, it was an Orangeman, and a member of one of the Orange lodges of the North of Ireland, who fired the first and almost the only shot that was fired. I do not desire to deal at greater length with the way in which England, in order to build up her own industries, destroyed by legislative enactments the industries of Ireland, but the quotation I have read from Lecky, who is acknowledged to be one of the most unbiased historians who has dealt with the subject, places my statement beyond dispute.
– But that is ancient history. It has nothing to do with presentday conditions.
– Has not all this occurred since the Union was corruptly effected between Great Britain and Ireland in 1800?
– That is also ancient history.
– English industries were not in ahealthy condition at that time.
– Were English industries deliberately destroyed by enactments of the English Legislature?
– The point is whether there are any present-day grievances of that sort.
– There are, andI shall enumerate some of them before I sit down. In the first place, there is no freedom of public meeting in Ireland to-day. There is no freedom of speech in’ Ireland to-day.
Honorable Senators. - Oh, oh !
– I hear a chorus of disapproval from honorable senators opposite, yet what I have stated is an absolute fact. In Ireland to-day, on warrant signed by a magistrate, a man can be dragged along by any policeman, and put into gaol for six months, without a trial, simply because in the opinion of the magistrate he may be “ reasonably suspected of being a disaffected person.”
– A man may be sent to prison here if he is reasonably suspected of any offence.
– No man can be sent to prison in this Commonwealth, or in any other portion of . the British Empire, that I know of, without a trial.
– Do we not know that every week in the police courts persons suspected of having, no means of livelihood are sentenced ?
– Sentenced without trial ?
– They are punished, anyway.
– Every man in this Commonwealth, and in every other portion of the British Empire, that I know of, with the exception of Ireland, when arrested on any charge, must be brought before a magistrate. He has then the right to call a witness in his defence, to be represented by counsel, and he has the right to plead ; but in Ireland a man has no such right.
– Yes, he has.
– No, he has- not.
– I say he has.
– The Crimes Prevention Act was made perpetual not very long ago.
– It applies only to proclaimed! districts’.
– The Act applies to all Ireland, and it can be brought into operation in any portion ofl the country by a mere proclamation from Dublin Castle.
– That is a different thing.
– Power exists to bring the Act into force.
– The Act is always in existence. I have had a taste of this coercion, and therefore I know what I am talking about. It is useless for honorable senators opposite to talk to us about British justice and liberty, and to indulge in “ hifalutin.” I admit that in England an Englishman has perhaps more liberty, right, and justice meted out to him than the citizen of any other country. But when we come to examine the English government of Ireland, we find an entirelv different state of affairs existing. The English know that they purchased the self-government of Ireland cor- ruptly and wrongfully. They know they never had a title to the country, because they purchased it from people who had no right to sell it. The iniquity of tha crime has lain heavily on their conscience, and like most persons when they are in the wrong, they try. to buttress their wrong by all sorts of unjust and brutal acts. Ireland has been impoverished by the land question. It is well known, that over threefourths of the land-owners spent all their revenues from, the land in other countries. In the great famine of 1847, which decimated the country, and was the cause of untold misery and suffering1 to the people—
– Was Great Britain responsible for that famine?
– Very largely.
– In that year Ireland produced a crop of wheat more than sufficient to feed every person within its territory. What had to be done with the wheat ? It had to be sent away and sold, in order to pay rack-rents to Irish landlords living in England. When people in America and elsewhere, out of the charity of their hearts, sent in cargoes of Indian corn or maize to feed the starving people, the ships . passed wheat-laden ships going out of Ireland. That is a fact which even’ one ought to know. The result has been that Ireland has become almost depleted of her rural as well as her manufacturing population. In 1847 the population numbered very nearly 9,000.000, but to-day it numbers only 4,000.000. The government of a country which results in the depletion of its population by 50 per cent, in fifty years, stands condemned by the mere recital of that fact. In my young days, in the south of Ireland;, I saw helpless families evicted from their homes ; I saw helpless men and women brought out on mattresses, and laid down in the snow in the most heartless and brutal manner. The land question has been the root cause of all the trouble in that country. I am pleased to find that the English Government have at last recognised that fact, and are making efforts in the direction of settlement. I hone that the efforts will be successful, but if thev were successful tomorrow, there would still be an aspiration . to be satisfied before the Irish question could be held to be finally settled.
– But the land question is settled. Mr. Wyndham’s Act will bring prosperity to Ireland, for it places £100,000,000 at the disposal of the tenants.
– - I claim to have as good a knowledge of Irish affairs as any man in the Chamber, and speaking with a full sense of responsibility, I assert that the land question is not yet settled. Let me point out to Senator Dobson that the settlement of the land question which has been attempted, has one exceedingly grave defect. Although money will be provided to enable the tenants to buy land, the fact that the landlords are offered very large inducements to sell has increased the value of the land to them, and placed them in a position to exact a higher price from the tenants. The consequence is that as the tenant will be given along period in which to pay the price - it may be an excessive price - to the landlord, it will impose an exceedingly heavy burden upon him and his family for very many years.
– What nonsense ! The Act provides that the land shall be sold at the market price.
– The value of anything can be run up to an enormous price if you can “ corner” the market, and that is what the Irish landlords have been doing_pf late years. The fact that the English Government have provided money to buy them out has immediately enabled them to increase the price of their land.
– The honorable senator does not know the weak spot in the Act yet. The weak spot is that the money is not found except at the rate of ,£5,000,000 a year, but the Government are curing that and providing more money.
– At ‘that rate, it will take twenty years in which to effect the transfer.
– No; they are shortening the time and providing more money.
– It will take thirty years to begin all the transactions, and then twenty years to complete them.
– They began two years ago, and £9.000,000 has been spent.
– Then it will take eighteen years more to complete them.
– Evidently the honorable senator knows nothing about the matter.
– The honorable and learned senator claims to know everything.
– Does the honorable senator think it is another wrong to Irish men to give them £112,000,000 to buy out the landlords ?
– The English Government did not give £112,000,000 for that purpose. They made, as they admitted in the House of Commons, a present of ,£12,000,000 to the Irish landlords, as a bribe to induce them to sell their interest in the land. For the removal of the grievances of Ireland, not only is it necessary to settle the land question, but it is also necessary to satisfy the worthy, and I may say noble, aspiration of the Irish people to govern themselves. I think that a people are to be most highly commended for desiring to govern themselves. The Irish are a people with a strong national feeling. They have always desired to be allowed to govern themselves. I feel confident that the grant of Home Rule, instead of weakening, will strengthen the Empire. It will do good to England herself, and to every component part of the Empire. It will remove a festering sore from the very side of England ; it will enable her in time of difficulty and danger to draw upon at least half-a-million of the finest young manhood in the world in order to fight her battles, if necessary, whereas at the present time she could not claim perhaps one-fiftieth of that number to fight loyally by her side. These are the chief objects which may be attained by the granting of Home Rule. I believe that the people of the old country, who are intrusted with its destinies and management, will pay a great deal of deference to the opinion of this Senate. I feel absolutely certain that if England does accede to the request of Ireland, as expressed in this motion, it will enable Ireland to join the number of exceedingly prosperous countries which go to compose the great British Empire. I hope that the motion will be carried unanimously, and ‘that it will go a considerable way towards effecting the object which Senator Dawson has in view.
– I think that the moving of this motion in this Chamber was a mistake. I, as most persons know, am very heartily in sympathy with the claim of Ireland for Home Rule.
– Yet the honorable senator objects to expressing his opinion.
– I am now expressing my opinion; but the question is, What are the functions of this Parliament ? It is constituted to legislate, not to express opinions and pass motions which can have no effect. What I feel is that this procedure does not add to the power and dignity of the Senate
– In plain terms, the honorable senator is against the motion.
– No ; and I would ask the honorable senator to permit me to say what I have to because the position is rather a difficult one. When a similar motion was proposed in the State Parliament some years ago by Sir Bryan O’Loghlen, I then said something like what I propose to say now. It is not the function of this Parliament to legislate on the subject; it cannot do anything in connexion with the question which it could enforce; and to express an opinion is, it seems to me. to act childishly. I feel sorry to have to express an opinion on the question here. If a division be called for, undoubtedly I shall vote for the motion ; but I would strongly urge its withdrawal.
– The honorable senator would rather talk it out than vote for it.
– The honorable senator is not justified in making that remark.
– I know there are a number of honorable senators who would rather not vote.
– I am not one of that number, but I would rather not vote here. I am prepared atany time to vote on the question elsewhere, if my vote can be ofany real practical effect in favour of giving autonomy to every part of the British Dominions.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the motion ?
– Will the honorable senator permit me to speak?
– It is of no use humbugging us.
– Order !
– I should like to be permitted to say what I rose to say. I did not intend to occupy more than five minutes.
– I like a straight-out opponent.
– My reason for rising was to say again what I shall always say whenever a motion of this character is presented. It is lowering the dignity and effectiveness of the Senate to call upon it to discuss questions about which it can exercise no control. I do not imply, of course, that the subject-matter of this motion is an undignified one. I would ask
Senator Dawson to withdraw the motion, not because I am opposed to it, not because I desire to humbug, as he put it, but because this is not the place in which it should be moved. If it. is carried, it can do no possible good, and it may leave the Senate open to receive a snub. That is a position which I do not think it ought to be called upon to place itself in.
– The British Parliament might say, “ Mindyour own business.”
– If the British Parliament were to pass a resolution with reference to some legislation that we were considering, or upon some question as to which we had refused to legislate, what should we say? We should say that it was impertinence on their part.
– No, we should not.
– I should. This Commonwealth has powers of selfgovernment within its own limits. It has a perfect right to do what it thinks fit within those limits. Interference from outside would be resented by us. The same applies to interference by us in the affairs of other parts of the world. . I do not desire to discuss the main question. I say again that I am, and, ever since I have been able to think, have been, in favour of Ireland, as well as Australia, having the power to legislate in ‘relation to, and for the benefit of, its own people. But I do not think that this is a place where expression should be given to our feelings on that subject. I have always refused, if I could help it, to express an opinion in Parliament that could not be followed by an Act. It is the function of Parliament’ to make laws. That is why Ave are sent here.
– According to that argument, before a member of Parliament can express an opinion, he should be a Minister.
– I was elected to represent the people of Victoria in the Commonwealth Parliament, and to legislate in their interests. It may be that my opinion on this question is distinctly opposed to the opinion of those who elected me. Parliament is not justified in expressing an opinion in its representative character on a question as to which it cannot say that it hasbehind it the authority of the people by whom it is elected. I have no doubt for my own part that the majority of the people of this country are in favour of Home Rule. But the question was not ‘ discussed when the Federal elections were in progress. Certainly it was. not discussed by me as a candidate. It has often been discussed by me as a citizen of Victoria; and whatever weight attached to my opinion as a private citizen, I have always taken every opportunity to give to the side of this question in which I believe. But I urge honorable senators not to adopt the plan of initiating in the Senate . discussions of this character, that occupy our time, and prevent us from doing something that is our duty, and that we were elected to do. whilst at the same time they lead us to interfere with otherpeople’s business in a way that may lead to our receiving a snub that we ought not to call down upon ourselves.
– I trust that Senator Dawson will consent to an adjournment of the debate, as there are several honorable senators who desire to speak. I move -
That the debate be adjourned.
Question - That the debate be adjourned - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator BEST (Victoria).- I regret that my honorable friend Senator Dawson did not see his way to consent to the adjournment of the debate. I admit that one of the reasons which induced me to make the request was more or less personal. It was only an hour ago that I happened to hear that the motion was coming on for discussion to-day, and naturally I desired to ascertain exactly the character of the debate which has taken place. At the outset, I have to concur in the remarks of my honorable friend Senator Trenwith, who has expressed his regret that we should oc cupy our time with the discussion of an abstract question of this kind. The mere fact that we discuss it in an abstract way will not advance the cause of Home Rule in any “degree. But what is more regretable is that we should attempt to interfere inone of the most vexed of questions - one that is not viewed with that degree of calmness, either here or in those parts of the Empire more directly concerned, that we should desire. Personally, I have not the remotest intention of imparting the slightest heat to the discussion. What I protest against is that an abstract question which is calculated to generate heat, and to arouse feeling, while at the same time it does not immediately concern us, should occupy the attention of the Senate. I concur in the view that the question of granting Home Rule to Ireland does not come within our jurisdiction. It is a mistake for us to attempt to interfere in matters of Imperial concern, which are at the present moment, and have been for many years, giving the most serious difficulty and concern to the British Parliament.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 th August (vide page 1071), on motion by Senator Higgs -
– I listened to the remarks of the honorable senator who proposed the motion, and to those who followed him in support, and I must say that those gentlemen failed to convince me, at any rate, of the desirableness,, in this particular instance, of departing from a wellestablished procedure under responsible government. I do not think there is any disposition on the part of this Government, any more than there was on the part of any other Government, to seek to be relieved from their proper responsibility in connexion with a matter of this kind.
– Or of their patronage.
– Or of their patronage, if the honorable senator pleases, though I do not think that is the way to put the matter. One honorable senator on the other side expressed his general approval of the principle that such matters should be the subject of Executive responsibility, but, to my great surprise, that honorable senator, in order to express his want of confidence in the present Government decided to support this motion. I do not for a moment suggest or think that Senator Higgs is animated by the same consideration; but, as has been pointed out by Senator Playford - and I ask honorable senators to consider the point - this motion is, in a sense, not altogether a mere affirmation of an abstract principle, but an affirmation of a principle in connexion with a particular case. Senator Higgs emphasized this view himself, but he failed, I think, to show that there is likely to be any want of a sense of due responsibility to the Commonwealth on the part of the Government, when called on to discharge this duty, which will devolve on. them in the ordinary course.
– Senator Keating knows for whom the billet is wanted !
– If Senator Givens knows for whom the billet is wanted, he knows more than I do. The honorable senator may be in the inner circle of the Cabinet, and able to read the minds of the members of the Government, but, so far as I am concerned, I am not in a position to indicate to him, or any one else, who is likely to -be chosen to fill this important office. In the first place, it is absolutely necessary that a Bill, creating the office and defining the duties which will appertain to the office, shall pass both Houses of Parliament. Until such a Bill is passed, the powers of the High Commissioner defined, and the salary to attach to the position prescribed it will be impossible,I think, for any Government to take steps towards the selection of somebody to fill the position.
– The Government will not consider it, because they have considered it already.
– That is a very unjustifiable interjection. I understand and thoroughly appreciate the sentiments which actuate Senator Higgs. The honorable senator is of opinion that by following this course Australia will secure the benefit of the united wisdom of the members of both Houses of this Parliament in choosing somebody to represent the Commonwealth as High Commissioner in London. I remind honorable senators of an argument used by Senator Pulsford.I think it is important that it should be emphasized, not merely for the benefit of Senator Higgs, but of every honorable senator on this occasion, and on any other occasion when it is sought to bring the two Houses together to exercise any act which would ordinarily be an act of Executive responsibility. Under the Constitution, with certain exceptions, that are defined, in relation to money Bills, the Senate has practically . co-ordinate powers with the House of Representatives, but when honorable senators and honorable members of the House of Representatives are brought together to sit in joint conference to exercise a right of selection such as this, it must not be forgotten that the Senate will be represented by thirty-six units in that conference, and the House of Representativeswill be represented by seventy-five. So that in the determination of that choice the House of Representatives will exercise apower in proportion to that exercised by the Senate of two to one.
– If we leave the Government to make the choice we shall have no voice at all.
– Senator Givens is aware that a certain course may be followed to review any action taken by a Government.
– After the thingis done, we can throw out the Government.
– The same thing applies with respect to every action taken by the Government.
– We can throw out the Government, but we cannot throw out the High Commissioner.
– The same course might have been followed on the appointment of the Judges of the High Court, the selection of the first Public Service Commissioner, or the selection of the professional head of the ‘Defence Department. In the case of all such appointments in the Commonwealth and in the States, the invariable practice has been for the Government of theday to select the persons to fill the positions.
– Will the Government give the name of the gentleman selected to be High Commissioner before he is appointed, in order that the Senate may have an opportunity to discuss the selection?
– I am not in a position to speak as to that. I say that in similar cases in the States and in the Commonwealth that has been the practice in the past. I venture to say that Senator Higgs, and those who are supporting his motion,have not put forward any satisfactory reasons why in this particular instance that principle or policy should be departed from. If there were any exceptional circumstances connected with this case - and there are not, because, after all, it is analogous to the appointment of an AgentGeneral for the first time to represent a State - there might be some show of reason for adopting a new procedure. No reason has been shown in this case, and I venture to warn honorable senators who are disposed to vote for this mo tion, that they may be establishing a precedent which will be found to be very dangerous indeed, not merely in, connexion with this particular appointment, but in regard to the prestige, power, and position of the Senate as a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature of the Commonwealth. Senator Pulsford’s argument, it seems to me, has been absolutely unanswered. No honorable senator, who has addressed the Senate in support of the motion, has ventured to take any cognizance of that argument, for the simple reason that he would have found it absolutely impossible to give an effective answer to it.
– What argument is that?
– The . argument that if the two Houses of this Parliament act in conference in making this choice, or any other choice, the Senate practically places itself in the position of exercising in that conference only one-half of the power it ordinarily has. It will have only one-half of the voting power . in such a conference, inasmuch as the House of Representatives consists of seventy-five members, and the Senate consists of only thirtysix. As our powers are equal with those of the House of Representatives in every respect, with the exception of certain powers in connexion with money matters dealt with in certain sections of the Constitution, we should be practically derogating from our own power, prestige, and position under the Constitution in taking part in such a conference. That, it seems to me, is a very great difficulty which must present itself in the consideration of a motion of this character dealing with any appointment. I feel that honorable senators, having heard the arguments put forward, will see that it is not desirable that we should follow the procedure proposed. If honorable senators desire to exercise a choice in the selection of the first occupant of this office, and if honorable members in another place desire to exercise such a choice, there is an effective way by which they may do so. When the Bill comes before the Senate it will be competent for any honorable senator to move for the insertion of a clause which shall contain the name of the gentleman proposed as the first occupant of the office. ‘
– Will the Government permit that?
– I am not saying that the Government will permit it, but it will be competent for any honorable senator to move for the insertion of such a clause, and then it will be for the Senate to determine what shall be done. , Any honorable senator will be at liberty to move in that way for the appointment of a certain person as the first occupant of the office, . and if he can succeed in obtaining a majority of honorable senators to support him in such a motion the Government must be bound by it. ,
– Would not the Government withdraw the Bill ?
– I have indicated the action which can be taken by any honorable senator who wishes that Parliament should make this selection. The action I have referred to can be taken in the Senate or in another place; and if that procedure is followed it will have at least this advantage, that the Senate will not be surrendering one-half of the power which it at present enjoys under the Constitution.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Inasmuch as this is a measure which has. for its object to amend the Electoral Act in many particulars with reference to administration, I thought it would Be in the best interests of its proper consideration that I should move its second reading to-night, and agree to an adjournment of the debate, if that is desired, until next week. Such a course will afford honorable senators an opportunity to acquaint themselves with itsprovisions, and I hope by Saturday morning to have every one of them supplied with a printed memorandum which will not only give a reference to the sections of the Act sought to be amended, but point out concisely the effect of each amendment and the necessity or reason for its enactment. The Bill is largely framed on the resultsof the investigations of a Select Committee which was appointed by the House of Representatives on the 19th May, 1904. It included Mr. Batchelor and Mr. Poynton, from South Australia; Mr. Cameron and’ Mr. Starrer, from Tasmania ; Mr. Fowler, from Western Australia; Mr. Groom and” Mr. McDonald, from Queensland; Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Kelly, Mr. Brown, and” Sir William Lyne, from New South Wales ;: and Mr. Mauger, Mr. McCay, and Mr. McLean, from Victoria, so that it was; thoroughly representative of the States. It was brought into existence as the result of various complaints about the administration of the Act at the first elections thereunder. It conducted a series of inquiries in Melbourne and Sydney, examined witnesses concerning the various complaints and the administration of the Act generally ; and in October of last year it brought up a reportwhich was circulated amongst the members of each House. At the beginning of that report it is described as -
The Select Committee appointed to inquire into the unsatisfactory manner in which the last general elections were conducted throughout the Com- monwealth, : and the administration of the Electoral Act, and to report the results of such investigations.
In its very interesting report the Select Committee made many recommendations. ‘ It was more particularly interesting to persons who were directly connected with the Electoral Department. But apart from that fact, it contained some paragraphs which were of very great interest indeed. I think, to the general public in connexion with the electoral administration, the compilation of the rolls, the cost of the elections, and the possibility of reducing that cost by taking a certain course of action which is therein indicated. Paragraph 5 reads as follows : -
With respect to the administration by the Chief Electoral Office, no complaints of a serious nature were sustained, and your Committee find that strenuous efforts were made by the officers to bring into due operation the Electoral Act, and to secure the efficient conduct of the general election.
In the rest of the paragraph the Select Committee indicated that any little omissions or faults which might have occurred were occasioned by reason of the fact that all the officers were necessarily new to the duties thrust upon them by an Act which -for the first time was then put into operation. Paragraph 20 reads as follows : -
From the evidence given, it appears that the Commonwealth Electoral Act has met with strong approval. Yet the evidence has disclosed that, in certain respects, there is need of amendment to secure more efficient administration, and to give better effect to the intention of Parliament. Your Committee has considered the more important of the amendments suggested to them.
Then follow a number of the suggested amendments, some of which the Committee did not recommend, and others of which they did recommend. With one exception this Bill practically embodies their recommendations. The one exception is a suggested amendment of section 76 of the Act, and the reason why it has not been adopted is because in this Bill it is proposed to abolish the system of Revision Courts, and to provide that the work hitherto done by Revision Courts shall be done by the divisional returning -officer, with the right of appeal from his decision to a Court of summary jurisdiction. One very important suggestion of the Select Committee was that the assistant returning officers should be empowered to exercise the same functions in connexion with voting by post as the Act devolves upon the divisional returning officer. In very many instances it was found that the facilities we purported to grant for voting by post could not be availed of by reason of the fact that application had to be made to the divisional returning officer - that is, to the chief officer for the division. It is thought desirable that the assistant returning officers should be able to exercise similar powers, and that is provided for in clause 6. Another recommendation of the Select Committee was that it is desirable that claims to be enrolled to vote should be witnessed by a competent witness. I use the word competent to mean a witness such as an elector who may know or have some knowledge of the applicant. That alteration is endeavoured to be effected by clause 18.
– But he should also be an officer of some kind or other.
– =No. This clause deals with a case where an ordinary citizen who is not on the roll applies to’ be enrolled for a particular division in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Previously an application of this kind was not required to be witnessed in the way now proposed. If the applicant is at all known he should be able to get a resident in the locality to witness his form qf claim, and in some sense to substantiate the simple statements contained in it.
– Might that not be open to a great deal of abuse ?
– Not so much as the present system, under which no witness is required. Another recommendation of the Select Committee was that in cases where an elector desired to be .transferred from one division to another, the process should be simplified. According to the Act, if an elector is resident in a certain portion of a division, he goes to the assistant returning officer or the electoral registrar who ‘has charge of the polling list for the polling place he votes at, and applies for his transfer”. That transfer goes to the ‘divisional returning officer of the division to ‘which he wishes to be transferred, and from that officer to the electoral registrar at the particular polling place in such division. It was recommended bv the Select Committee that this process should be simplified, and that the transfer should go direct from one electoral registrar to the other, and the acknowledgment of it should go back by the same course, so that the polling list could be altered. It will avoid a considerable amount of circuity, and a good deal of what might almost be called red-tapism, and facilitate transfers.
That alteration is provided for in clause 20. Another very important recommendation of the Select Committee is endeavoured to be given effect to in paragraph 36 of clause 16, and that is that all the Commonwealth and State officers be required to furnish the Commonwealth Electoral Officer with any statistical information necessary to prepare the rolls. Of course that provision was in the original Act, in section 33, but it was only applicable to the case of the preparation of the original lists. Clause 16, paragraph 36, of this Bill makes the provision applicable for all time. Another very important recommendation of the Select Committee was in connexion with the issue of the postal ballot papers. Honorable senators will remember having read in connexion with some cases which came before the Court that there were many abusesorcharges of abuse of the privileges conferred by the Act in the way of facilities for postal voting. Clause ‘26 of this Bill makes, I think, adequate safeguards against the infringements of the principles of the Act.
– What is the real rea-. son for having a polling-place roll?
– It is essential in order that each person may know at what polling place he is expected to record his vote.
– He cannot vote, outside that place.
– He can of course get a transfer to any other polling place up to within a short time of an election.
Senator FINDLEY.It is not possible for a man to vote in an electoral district other than in the division in which he resides.
– Yes, it is, under the ordinary provisions of the Act. If he is absent from his usual place, the ordinary provisions of the Act, or in the case of the Senate the regulations will enable him to vote as one who is absent from his district.
– He votes on a Q form.
– I understand that at the last general election persons who were enrolled for a division in an electorate voted in another division thereof, and that no exception was taken to their act.
– That may be so, but in the Act there are provisions to enable that to be done. With reference to the provision of safeguards against the abuse of voting by post, clause 28 proposes to amend section 109 of the Act by replacing paragraph a by the following paragraph : -
Who has reason to believe that he will not on polling day be within ten’ miles of the polling place for which he is enrolled, or a prescribed polling place for the subdivision for which he is enrolled.
It extends the distance from five miles to ten, and also provides that, in addition to stating that he has reason to believe that he will be ten miles or more from his polling-place, the applicant must state concisely some grounds for his belief. In many instances these forms were signed some time before the election by persons who, as it turned out, were not absent from their polling-places by anythinglike five miles. There is reason to believe that in this way postal ballot-papers were abused as well as used. In some electorates, applications for postal ballotpapers were witnessed in blank in great numbers by authorized witnesses, and then taken round by parties interested in the election of one or other of the candidates, and signed by applicants. This Bill therefore provides that any person witnessing the application for a postal ballotpaper shall himself be present at the time, and that the applicant shall make out the form in his own handwriting. Of course, there is the usual provision in the event of his being illiterate. But, at any rate, the application must be signed there and then, in the presence of the witness, who must attest it and make all due and proper inquiries to satisfy himself that the statements contained in the application are correct. If he does not do that he is liable to a penalty. In many other ways this extraordinary privilege or facility which is conferred upon the elector by the Federal Act is safeguarded against many abuses which have crept in, and other abuses which may arise in the course of the development of parliamentary election tactics.
– What is the reason for the fine of£50, or one month’s imprisonment, for a false statement?
– If a person makes a false statement it is desirable that he should be subject to punishment. The penalty mentioned is a maximum. It is desirable also, I think, that a man who induces another to make a false statement should be liable to. a similarpenalty. In many such cases it is likely that the person who induces another is mote guilty than the man who makes the false statement, because he would be taking advantage of the other man’s ignorance.
– The term of imprisonment should be six months, not one month.
– That is a matter for settlement in Committee. With regard to the persons who are competent to witness applications for postal ballot-papers, and those who are competent to witness the recording of postal votes, although they do not, of course, see who is actually voted for, in the present Act the witnesses in both cases are not alike. Some classes of persons, like justices of the peace, are authorized to witness applications, but are not also authorized to witness the despatch of a vote. I think that the anomaly possibly arose when the Bill was going through Committee, through tHe inclusion in the clause authorizing the witnessing, of some other persons than those originally proposed as competent witnesses. But the persons authorized to witness the application for ballot-papers were mentioned in the schedule, which was not amended conformably. Probably that is the reason why there is a difference in the two cases. I am not sure, but think it probable that that is how the anomaly crept in. To remedy that defect, provision is made whereby persons who are competent to witness applications for postal ballot-papers shall be equally competent to witness the using and despatch of the papers. Clause 29 at the same time provides for additional persons as competent witnesses in both cases. It was found in many instances, especially in very large electorates - although perhaps we seemed to exhaust the list of persons who would be competent as witnesses - there was nobody within a reasonably convenient distance who came within the designation of competent witnesses under the Act. Consequently, the list of persons has been somewhat extended in this Bill. A difficulty that cropped up in connexion’ with the recording of votes was this : In addition to the despatch of the postal ballot-papers after the voter had recorded his vote, we provided that he should also send the certificate that was issued in connexion with his application form. In many instances, persons who endeavoured to vote by post sent forward’ in good faith their postal ballot-papers, but forgot to send the certificates. As a con sequence their votes were void, and could not be recognised by the returning officer To remedy that defect we propose that the ballot-paper shall have the certificate printed on the back, so that the two documents shall be inseparable. Consequently, there will be no possibility of a postal vote being void by reason of the separation of the two documents. That is provided for in clause 30.
– Does not that complicate the matter?
– No, it simplifies it. Instead of there being two documents we shall have the certificate printed on one of the folds of the ballot-paper; consequently, the voter cannot send one document without the other, and his vote cannot be lost by reason ‘of that defect. In forms in the schedule to the Bill we seek to give effect to these provisions. One difficulty that many candidates experienced in the first election, especially in the very large electorates, was in reference to the appointment of scrutineers. The Act provided that the appointment of a scrutineer could only take place on the divisional returning officer being notified. In a. large electorate like Maranoa or Coolgardie, a candidate might wish to appoint a certain scrutineer some hundreds of miles away from the centre where the returning officer was stationed, but could not appoint him because the returning officer could not be notified in time. We propose to remedy that by providing in clause 38 that assistant returning officers shall be competent to accept such notifications in the same way as returning officers. The words “ absent from one’s polling place “ are not very clear in the original Act. Honorable senators will recollect that in connexion with the Wimmera election petition, it came out before the High Court that at one polling place an adjournment of the poll from the ordinary election day to a subsequent day took place. ‘ When the poll was resumed, electors who were not on the roll to vote at that polling place, but some of whom had been absent from their own polling places on the day of the election, flocked to vote; and on the ground that they had not exercised their right to vote at the election they demanded the right. It was obvious that that was not the intention of the Legislature in connexion with the adjournment of a poll at one polling place. These electors had forfeited their right to vote through not voting at their proper polling places. In order to clear up some obscurity and doubt - and there was some obscurity, in the “opinion of the High Court - provision is made in clause 43.
– To allow those electors to vote?
– No, to give effect to what was the intention of the Legislature. Inconnexion with the Riverina election another difficulty arose. Honorable senators will remember that Mr. Chanter petitioned against the return of Mr. Blackwood, and during the hearing of the case it transpired that Mr. Chanter - or Mr. Blackwood, I forget which - at one polling-place had asked that there should be a re-count of the votes. The re-count was, I think, refused on the ground that there was no specific power given to the officer under the Act to permit a re-count on the application of any candidate, or under any circumstances. Provision is made in this Bill to grant a re-count if an application is made before the declaration of the poll by a candidate. The provisions dealing with that are contained in a part of the Bill by itself, consisting of clauses 44 and 45.
– A re-count at any polling-place?
– Not necessarily a general re-count. It is to avoid the necessity of a general re-count that these provisions are made. The new clause is as follows : -
At any time before the, declaration of the poll, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State may, if he thinks fit, on the request of any candidate, or of his own motion, direct a re-count of the ballot-papers from any division, or portion of a division, or of the ballot-papers contained in any parcel. ,
The re-count must be ordered by the Chief Electoral Officer for the State, on the application of a candidate, before the final declaration of the poll. In the event of any candidate being dissatisfied he may make his application ; and on making out a good case to the Chief Electoral Officer - that is to say, if it is not palpably a frivolous application - the officer may order a re-count of the parcel of papers in dispute. This obviates the necessity of a candidate having to invoke the intervention of the High Court.
– I suppose there is no appeal from the officer’s decision?
– There is no appeal.
– That would not, I suppose, apply to an application for a recount for a whole State?
– Does the honorable senator mean in the case of a Senate election ?
– Would it apply to a whole division in an electorate?
– Can a candidate ask that every parcel of votes shall be recounted ?
– I think he would be entitled to get such a re-count if he applied for it. It is a case in which, I think, a contrary intention not being expressed, the singular includes the plural. A new provision is inserted in clause 52, which, I think, is very desirable. That is to say, persons who are guilty of bribery, or of the exercise of undue influence in connexion with elections, are rendered incapable of being. chosen, or of sitting, as members of Parliament for a period of two years. In clause 51 provision is made to enable the Court of Disputed Returns to void an election, if illegal practices be proved. Honorable senators will remember that the High Court expressed its opinion that it had no power to void an election - that, although certain acts were declared by the Electoral Act to be illegal practices, and others were declared to amount to undue influence or bribery, Parliament had omitted to provide that the commission of any such acts should be ground for voiding an election. I do not remember whether the High Court expressed its doubt as to whether it could void an election, or whether it was its opinion that it could not do so ; but to clear up any uncertainty on the point, the provision is made not merely that these offences shall be grounds for voiding an election, but also that if any person has been convicted of bribery or of undue influence, or is found by the Court to have committed or attempted to commit bribery or undue influence, he shall be disqualified for a period of two years.
– That is a very short period.
– That, again, is a matter for Committee. I have now dealt with the recommendations which were made by the Select Committee. There are a few other matters which are also provided for in the Bill, but which are not dealt with in the report of the Select Committee. These consist of one or two slight amendments of the original Act with regard to details iri administration. For instance, under the principal Act, the GovernorGeneral is the person who appoints registrars and polling places, and carries out other functions of that character. This provision has been found, in many instances, to be somewhat cumbersome, and it is proposed that the Minister shall appoint the registrars, polling places, and polling areas.
– Does that not virtually mean the Cabinet?
– The Bill provides that the Minister may perform this duty without making it an Executive act. In many instances, polling places are fixed or officers appointed as an election is approaching, because there may have been since the last fixing of polling places, an alteration in the population ; and if it were necessary to wait for a fortnight or so, in order to call the Executive together, the opportunity might be lost to give greater facilities to numbers of electors.
– Why should the Chief Electoral Officer not appoint, the polling places ?
– No doubt’, in fact, this provision means the Chief Electoral Officer, because it is he who makes the recommendations to the Minister, who performs the duty as a responsible act. Under this Bill, the Chief Electoral Officer will be placed under the permanent head of the Electoral Department, whereas at present he is under the- control of the Minister of Home Affairs; and it is thought that the change will lend to greater discipline.
– Who is the permanent head of the Electoral Department?
– I do not know that anybody occupies that position at the present moment.
– I thought the Chief Electoral Officer was the head.
– I think that the permanent head of the Department is the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs.
– The provision in the Bill practically makes the Chief Electoral Officer the permanent head. I am now dealing with some previous clauses of the Bill, having first desired to place before honorable senators those based on recommendations of the Select Committee. In part 3. which deals with electoral divisions, provision is made in clause 9 to omit from section 15 of the principal Act the words “ a quota shall be ascertained in each
State,” and to insert in lieu the words, “ the Chief Electoral Officer shall, whenever necessary, ascertain a quota for each State.” In the original Act it is not exactly prescribed that the Chief Electoral Officer shall be responsible for this, though the presumption, of course, is that he is responsible, and the object of this clause is to make the position certain. In clause 12 it is provided that, in the event of a redistribution of seats taking place in any States, that redistribution shall not take effect in connexion with any by-election ; that is to say, it shall not take effect in connexion with any casual vacancy before the next election.
– I understand that a by-election will be conducted on the basis of the previous general election.
– That is so; and the redistribution will come into operation at the next ensuing general election.
– Necessarily, or there would be ‘a danger of the overlapping of electorates.
– Exactly. Clause 13 is intended to clear up a doubt. It is provided in section 22 of the principal Act that if both Houses of Parliament reject a redistribution scheme, the Minister may return it to the Commissioner, with a direction to provide a new one, but no further provision is made. Clause 13 amends this section of the principal Act by adding the following subsection : -
Clause 14 deals with matters connected with the quota. In section 23 of the principal Act it was simply provided -
A redistribution of any State into divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation.
There is no indication of the times or occasions on which such a proclamation shall issue, and, therefore, by clause 14, section 23 of the principal Act is amended by adding the following subsection : -
Such proclamation may be made -
whenever an alteration is made in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be elected for the State ; and
whenever in one-third of the divisions in the State the number of electors differs from a quota ascertained in the manner provided in this Part by a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less ; and
at such other times as the GovernorGeneral thinks fit.
Of course, these provisions merely indicate the occasions on which a proclamation shall issue. If those events occur, and a proclamation does not issue, obviously those who are responsible for the administration of the Act are guilty of neglect, and the responsibility is thrown upon them. Part IV., which is very important, makes new provisions in connexion with polling places and subdivisions. The clauses in this division repeal the whole of Part IV.. of the principal Act, which is very small, consisting of only three clauses. The sections in the principal Act are 24, 25, and 26. Section 24 provides for the Governor-General proclaiming polling places or the cessation of a place as a polling place: section 25 provides for a report as to the polling places by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, specifying what polling places are. required ; and section 26 provides where electors are to vote in case of a polling place having been abolished. Part IV. consists of one clause and paragraphs 24, 25, and 26. Paragraph 24 provides that the Governor-General may in any case in which he thinks fit to do so, by proclamation, divide any division into subdivisions. I shall deal . with this paragraph after I have giventhe purport of the other two. Paragraph 25 provides that the Minister may by notice in the Gazette -
Provided that no polling place shall be abolished or polling place area be established after the issue of the writ and before the time appointed for its return.
Substantially, paragraph 25 is a reenactment of the section in the original Act, only that the power is transferred from the Governor-General to the Minister, with the additional authority to establish a pollingplace area for any specified polling place, and fix the boundaries ; that is, to indicate what particular boundary around a polling place shall be the polling area, so that all the electors within that area may be able to recognise their particular polling place.
SenatorMillen. - Have we not that in the present Act?
– There is no provision for the polling-place area in the original Act.
– Is it not there under another name?
– But the provision in the principal Act is not altogether in regard to fixed or defined boundaries, and there may be the possibility of overlapping. The original provision was found, in some of the thickly-populated centres, to be inconvenient for electors; and it is thought that if these areas are established they will facilitate the collection of names for the lists, and enable the elector to know to which polling place he has to go..
– Will that not mean more expense?
– No; it is only a definition of the boundary of a polling place. Take, for instance, the city of Melbourne ; if a polling place is established, the boundary of it may not be particularly described, and this is only an optional power to facilitate the collection of names, and the reference on the part of the electors themselves to the lists.
– When making out the polling lists, there must be a polling area.
– Whatever provision there is in the principal Act, it has not been found to meet the case either for those who are responsible for the collection of the lists,, or for the electors themselves.
– An elector will be able to refer to a! geographical area, rather than to a list of names.
– In some places in the country thatwill be so : the elector may know the boundary, and he need not consult the list. Paragraph 26 is a provision consequential on the two previous paragraphs. The first paragraph in this part of the Bill, as I have already said, provides that the Governor-General may, in any case in which he thinks fit to do so. by proclamation, divide any division into sub-divisions. This looks a simple clause of little consequence, but it is one of great importance. Honorable senators will understand that many Commonwealth electorates in’ numerical strength may be equal to four or five State electorates, and it has been thought desirable to harmonize the State and Commonwealth electoral administration wherever practicable. If that can be done, it will result in great convenience and economy to both Commonwealth and States.
– The proposal is to make’ the electorates co-terminus as far as possible ?
– That is the proposal. For instance, there may be a Commonwealth electorate containing 30,000 electors, and the State authorities, in mapping out their divisions, may decide to divide that Commonwealth electorate into three State electorates. This provision, in such case, will enable the Governor-General to make each such State electorate a subdivision of the Commonwealth electoral division ; and ‘then the rolls used for the Commonwealth sub-division mav also be used as the rolls for it as a State division. This is simply a power given to the GovernorGeneral, which he may exercise, so that the same rolls and same officers may be utilized, and expense thus saved.
– The chances are that such a scheme will never work.
– At any rate, we can do no harm in endeavouring to bring about such a desirable state of things. It may also be found possible to make two parts of a State electoral district two subdivisions of two Commonwealth districts.
– There is more likely to be help in that way than in the other.
– In various ways it may be possible to map out our subdivisions in harmony with State divisions. It will’ interest honorable senators to know that, in the report of the Select Committee, reference is made to the expenditure involved in our elections, and also to the possibilities of reducing expenditure in the case of future elections. I find this statement in paragraph to of the report -
The Department is to be commended upon the considerable economies made in the conduct of the second general election. For the purpose of the Commonwealth elections of 1901 there were 974,504 electors enrolled, and the cost of the election was ^56,331 ns. rd. At the election held in December last there were 1,893,000 electors, and the cost of the election was about £45,000. Except, as elsewhere indicated in this report, your Committee do not see how any further reduction in the cost can be effected if the officers employed are’ to be paid in proportion to the services rendered.
– It was generally reported that the payments made to persons employed in connexion with the last elections were extremely small.
– How does the cost compare with the cost of State elections?
– I have not the figures for State elections.
– The honorable and learned senator has given the aggregate cost under the States’ system in giving the cost of the first Commonwealth election.
– The cost of the first election was £56,331 ns. id. The Committee say further -
The special franchise of the Commonwealth necessitated a .complete collection of the names of the persons entitled to be enrolled as electors. This task involved the collection of the names of nearly 2,000,000 persons. Your Committee consider no better scheme could have been devised than the house to house collection.
Then in paragraph 13 of their report they say -
The evidence reveals that a great saving to the Australian people could be effected By the adoption of a uniform franchise and electoral system. By the acceptance of the uniform franchise and polling-places in common, the one collection and revision of names, and the one set of rolls could be made to serve both the Commonwealth and States. In South Australia, by the utilization of the State roll, the cost of printing the Commonwealth roll for that State amounted to £500 instead of £1,800. In Victoria the Government Printer estimates that by being able lo use the State rolls a saving could be made to that State of ^2,500 per annum. Further economies would result if the same sets of officers could do the electoral duties for both Commonwealth and States.
– There cannot possibly be the same saving in Victoria as in South Australia, because there is adult suffrage in South Australia, and only adult male suffrage in Victoria.
– Where the State franchise is not in harmony with the Commonwealth franchise, it is thought that the rolls might be printed in such a way that where an elector is entitled to be only on the State roll or the Commonwealth roll, and not on both, there may be a certain column provided on the roll in which that can be indicated.
– That would be a most dangerous thing.
– That is one way in which to get over the difficulty. So. far as Senator Best’s interjection is concerned) we all know that Victoria now stands alone in denying the franchise to women, and possibly it will not be long before that State is in line with the other States in that regard. At any rate, economies can be exercised in this direction in all the States, excepting Victoria, and we. should not do well if we did not take advantage of the recommendation of the Select Committee to make such elastic -provisions in our Bill as will enable us, should the opportunity arise, to give being to such a very desirable state of things. I remind honorable senators that at the Premiers’ Conference held in Hobart, the matter was discussed, and on page 84 of the report of the Conference, honorable senators will find that Mr. Dugald Thomson moved, the Premier of Tasmania seconded, and the Conference agreed, to the following resolution: -
That this Conference agrees that the Commonwealth and State Government should consider the question of amending their electoral laws, with the object of making the qualification and disqualification of electors as nearly uniform as may be deemed possible and desirable, and that communications should be at once entered upon by the Electoral and Law Department of the Commonwealth and States, with the object of the nearest possible approach to uniformity in the mode of enrolment, mode of revision, establishment of polling-places, and other mechanism of an Electoral Act.
It is not stated whether that motion was agreed to unanimously, but there seems to have been no expression of dissent on the part of Victorian representatives to the suggested harmonization of the franchises, and that may be considered a hopeful sign that Victoria will shortly be brought into line with the other States in this matter. Part V. of the Bill repeals in toto sections 27 to 54 inclusive of the principal Act. It proposes the enactment of some new sections, and the re-enactment of some of the sections of the present Act, which are to be repealed, but for greater convenience it repeals the whole of the sections to which I have referred, so that those to be reenacted may be expressed’ in better verbiage, and with the advantage of the experience of their practical working. The main reasons why these sections are repealed is that they were largely framed to meet the peculiar circumstances attaching to the preparation of- the first rolls. By the preparation of those rolls the operation of most of these sections has been exhausted. I indicated in the course of my remarks that it was proposed to abolish, the Revision Courts, and to propose that divisional returning officers should do the work now done by those Courts. It will be interesting for honorable senators to learn that the Revision Court system, so far as the preparation of the rolls is concerned, has been found to be unworkable and unsatisfactory. Of course the system originated with Courts of Revision that were held in the old country, and charged with the responsibility of inquiring into the eligibility or title of individuals to the franchise. Where there were difficult and knotty questions to determine, that system was very likely a desirable piece of machinery for the purpose of solving them. We all know that revising barristers were appointed in connexion with those Courts to study the quali- fications or disqualifications of applicants for the position of an elector. But when we have the simple qualifications of adult age, and residence in Australia for a certain time, these nice and intricate questions cannot possibly arise, and in actual experience it is found that the public take the very slightest possible interest in the work of the Revision Courts. Th*e figures will no doubt interest honorable senators. During the months of March, April, and May of this year Revision Courts have been held at 327 centres throughout the seventy-five electorates of the Commonwealth, and not more than fifty alterations have been made in the rolls as the result of any action on the part of the public. At present no names can be removed from the rolls unless upon action by a Revision Court, by the death of an elector, or by the transfer of an elector from one roll to another. A curious anomaly arose in connexion with this. In the Riverina district there were a number of full-blooded aboriginals, who were on the New South Wales State roll, and by virtue of the operation of section 41 of the Constitution they were entitled to be placed, and were placed, on the Commonwealth electoral roll. I do not know whether they were subsequently disfranchised in New South Wales, but I am informed that for some reason or another they ceased to be qualified as electors for the State Parliament, and their qualification as electors for the Commonwealth Parliament also ceased. But they could not be removed from the Commonwealth roll. They were not dead, they had not been transferred, no Revision Court was held that could deal with their case, their names were allowed to remain on the roll, and they were allowed to exercise the franchise in violation of the whole spirit of the law dealing with the matter.
– Does that small instance justify the abolition of the Revision Courts ?
– I did not give only that instance. I pointed out that in three months of the year 327 Courts have been held throughout the seventy-five electorates of the Commonwealth, and that at those Courts there were not more than fifty alterations made in the rolls as the result of action taken by the public.
– That very fact might justify the continuation of the Revision Courts.
– A great majority of the alterations made are due to the fact that people have removed from one district to another without getting their names transferred, or are otherwise disqualified, and most of these cases are generally known to the returning officers.
– Do police magistrates do the work of the Revision Courts?
– It has usually been done, I think, by two justices of the peace.
– In Victoria the work is done by police magistrates. If the divisional returning officers are to do all this work they will be engaged in travelling about for weeks.
– I think not. The Revision Courts as a rule sit only at one place in each electorate.
– But Revision Courts are held at a number of places in large electorates.
– I think not, though I do not speak with any certainty.
– The proposal does not involve the employment of a number of new officials?
– No. It is provided in Part VII. of the Bill that any name on a roll may be objected to by objection in writing, lodged with or made by the returning officer. The form of the objection is provided for, and the duty is cast upon the returning officer and the registrar, if they know that the names ought not to be on the roll, to lodge the objection. They must lodge the objection themselves, and then it is provided that -
When the matter is determined either way, an appeal will lie to a Court of summary jurisdiction with, ample powers.
– Who will determine the matter in the first instance ?
– The returning officer for the district.
– There will be one officer for each electorate?
– It will never work.
– His own objection will not be overruled.
– The officer has to notify the person who is objected to that an objection has been lodged against him,, and the latter may, orally or in writing, answer it.
– It will never do.
– What does the work of a Revision. Court amount to in these times? When it sits the returning officer, tfr the registrar, or some other official, rises and says - “ These persons have left the district.” Practically you have all the machinery of the Revision Court doing in its name what these officers inspire them to do. The proposal is to say straight out that the electoral officer is to undertake this work.
– The difference is that the ,man who makes the objection is not the one who strikes the name off the roll.
– - The difference is that the man now has no right of appeal from the Revision Court, whereas under this Bill there is an electoral officer from whose decision an appeal will lie to a Court of summary jurisdiction. Sub-clause 6 of clause 73 says -
A police stipendiary, or special magistrate, or two justices of the peace, authorized as abovementioned, though not sitting as a Court of summary jurisdiction, shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be, and shall have all the powers of a Court of summary jurisdiction.
That provision gives the greatest possible facilities for making appeals. An appellant will not be required to wait a fortnight or a week for a Court of petty sessions to be held at a particular centre; but he can ask that two justices of the peace shall sit, not as a Court of summary jurisdiction, but to determine his appeal alone. I think that, on reflection, honorable senators will see that this system will work very much better in the interest of all parties, and will conduce to a far better administration of the. Electoral Act.
– Another argument in the Minister’s favour is that as property and educational qualifications have been done away with, the Revision Courts are not half so important as thev used to be.
– These qualifications were the origin of the Revision Courts. They mav do very well in countries where complicated and intricate questions of qualifications arse, but here, where the qualification depends upon adult suffrage, with residence in the Commonwealth for a certain period, the necessity for Revision
Courts and revising counsel has disappeared. Practically in all the States which have had an extended franchise, the Revision Courts have been working to a large extent only in name. What do justices of the peace know of the names on the roll? The public do not attend the Courts. The illustration I gave of 327 Revision Courts hav ing been held this year illustrates that fact, and any alterations on the rolls were made in this particular method. In addition to that, we are providing, a safeguard against the possibility of abuse, which is just as likely to creep in under one system as under the other.
– The trouble is that where the abuse does creep in, and the returning officer misuses his power, the elector finds out the fact too late - on the day of election.
– The same thing may happen under the present system, under which he has no right of appeal.
– Cannot the Minister supply us with” a copy of the principal Act. as well as the memorandum, showing the reason for each amendment thereof ?
– In order to facilitate the study of this Bill by honorable senators, I shall supply them as early as possible - perhaps to-morrow - with a- copy of the principal Act. and a memorandum which will clearly indicate, in concise form, the effect of each amendment, and the necessity or reason for its enactment.
– r- I suppose the Government considered the question of whether it was better to amend the Act than to introduce an entirely new Bill ?
– If an entirely new Bill were submitted, it would be very difficult for honorable senators to appreciate where an alteration was being made.
– Not unless it was shown in different type
– That method has been, adopted, but experience has shown that it is attended with some difficulties.
– This is only an amending Bill. It does not. affect a large portion of the principal Act.
– Exactly. The last clause provides that in future, when the Government Printer prints the main Act, he shall print it with all the necessary omissions and insertions occasioned by the passing of this or any other amending Bill. That has been the practice in Queensland. The present print of our ‘Defence Act is a print of the principal Act, with all the omissions and insertions occasioned by the passing of the amending Bill of last session. At first sight, it may appear to be a dangerous system, but with the exercise of care and caution, such as are invariably exhibited by the Clerks in connexion with our Bills, it will work very well, and greatly .conduce to the convenience of the public, and those who have to consult the Acts. I may say that the Government have considered whether it is not advisable to bring in a short Bill with a general provision of that kind.
– Has the Cabinet considered the question of compulsory voting?
– No . recommendation on that subject was made by the Select Committee, and this Bill simply deals with the administrative features of the Electoral Act, and the other matters to which I have referred. If honorable senators will apply themselves to the consideration of the memorandum I shall circulate, I think they will come here next week and find that the object of this Bill is to provide for the greatest possible facilities to be given to electors to record their votes, the simplification of the administrative machinery of the Act, and the guarding against any abuse or infringement of the law.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I do not intend to occupy the time of honorable senators very long in submitting this Bill for their consideration, lt makes a departure from the usual practice, and. I think, a very wise and proper one. The appropriations for the services of the year have been divided into two parts. The general Estimates of Expenditure will be embodied in the ordinary Appropriation Bill, which will come up to the Senate in due course. This Bill appropriates the money for new works which are required in various parts of the Commonwealth. Hitherto the Senate has had to wait for the Appropriation Bill until Parliament was on the eve of prorogation. Verv properly, a Parliament will not give up its hold upon the purse strings until .the last possible moment, because directly the annua! Appropriation Bill is passed, the
Ministry have .the whip-hand, and can prorogue at any moment. In the old country, as well as in the various States of the Commonwealth, the Parliament has very naturally delayed the appropriations for the vear until honorable members have been quite satisfied that it was time to prorogue. The result of that practice in this Parliament has been that a number of public works which were provided for in the annual Appropriation Act could not, in some instances, even be taken in hand, and in many instances could only be partly proceeded with in the financial year, with the consequence that a large re-vote was required in the next financial year. Usually the prorogation has not taken place until the warm weather has begun to affect honorable members, and as the Christmas holidays came immediately afterwards; the works could not be put in hand for some time. Consequently, the re-votes for this year are very large. It is certainly desirable that the construction of public works should be authorized as early as possible in the financial year, so that they may be taken in hand and the necessity for asking for large re-votes avoided. For that reason it was decided to appropriate the money for public works in a special Bill. This is really a measure for discussion in Committee rather than in the Senate. Of course 1 am supplied, with all the requisite information concerning each item, but sometimes it is difficult to pick out the information exactly as it is desired by honorable senators. In Committee I hope to be able to furnish satisfactory information concerning every item. The Bill provides for the appropriation of £418,911 for the construction of public works. Last year the appropriation for this purpose amounted to £404.240, of which £67,766 was unspent at the end of the financial year, and of which we require to re-vote ^£51,000. Under the head of Trade and Customs we are asked to vote only £2,164, of which £1.979 is a re-vote. The additions to the Sydney Custom House absorb -^”1,909. .We were not able to get on with that work last year, although the money was voted, and therefore a re-vote is required. On Defence works, we propose to expend ,£13.818 in New South Wales, £11,717 in Victoria. £7,577 in Queensland, ,£4,985 in South Australia, and ,£25,223 in Western Australia.
– Why did the Minister emphasize the figures for Western Australia ?
– Because it is a very large sum, about which I clare say honorable senators will want an explanation, which I shall be very happy to give in Committee. It is required for a fort at Fremantle, which is estimated to cost £80,000. As we know, in a great many instances the estimates are considerably exceeded, and I should not be surprised to find that the amount runs closer to £100.000 than £80,000 before the work is finished.
– Is there anything for the harbor at Esperance?
-No; we have nothing to do with Esperance or its harbor. The total Defence vote is £66,516, of which £26,245 is a re-vote, and £40,271 is for new service. As to Post and Telegraphs, we propose to spend in New South Wales, £21,250 ; in Victoria, £20,137; in Queensland, £7,145; in South Australia, £5,624; in Western Australia, £25,425. On telegraphs and telephones we propose to spend in New South Wales £63,000 ; in Victoria, £37,750; in Queensland, £17,000; in South Australia, £20,400; in Western Australia, £23,000; and in Tasmania, £8,000. That is a summary of the principal sums to be expended. Amongst the amounts I have enumerated are included items of which I shall be glad to give details in Committee. One of the principal votes for telephones is that for the construction of a line from Melbourne to Sydney. It is a work which is urgently required, and the Post Office officials consider that it will pav interest on the money from the start. Honorable senators will see on page 17 of the Bill details of expenditure under’ the control of the Department of Defence. Certain special defence material, costing, as estimated, £178,045, is detailed, and on the following page are other items making the total £181,060. of which we consider that £41,060 will not be required during the present year; leaving a total of £140,000 for defence purposes.
– What is the object of putting in “the larger amount if it is not all to be expended?
– We cannot take off particular amounts for particular works, but we take off a lump sum from the whole of the works, because we consider that that amount will not be spent by the end of the financial year. So much will be taken off one line, and so much off another. We do not know where the savings will be made, but we know from experience - or, rather, we can guess - the probable amount of the gross savings. ‘
– There is a further advantage in putting in the full amount - that we know what the total cost will be.
– There is that advantage also in showing the total cost, because, if we do not spend all the money this year, it will come up in the following year as a re-vote.
– It is not proposed to -spend” anything on mounting 8-inch breech-loading guns on the Cerberus, and yet £2,000 is included in the schedule for that purpose.
– If the honorable senator will restrain his impatience, I will come to that item a little further on. I wish to make an explanation in connexion with the vote for special defence material. I do not intend to make any general speech in regard to defence questions as a whole, but I trust that I shall be able to state briefly to the Senate, when the general Estimates come forward, the policy of the Government in respect of the defence of the country, showing exactly the position in which we stand, and what we consider necessary to be done in regard to guns, ammunition, and so forth. At the present time I need not go into these details, except so far as is necessary to explain matters connected with this Bill. Honorable senators will perhaps remember that in 1903-4 a statement was laid before Parliament in which an expenditure was proposed of some , £524,683, to be distributed over four years, for warlike stores to place our land forces on a war footing. In 1903-4, we spent £96,000, and in 1904-5’, £169,000 was voted, of which we spent only £138,000. We are now providing for the year 1905-6 a sum of £154,000. The vote of £24,000 for two7.5 guns and ammunition is for the Fremantle fort in Western Australia. With the expenditure of £154,000 this year, there will be left a balance of £135,000 in round figures to be voted next year. When I took office the Estimates had to be laid upon the table within a very short time. I wentverycarefully through the proposals contained in them with regard to the expenditure on the ordinary Military Forces for the year, but I did not see the details of this special proposed expenditure. . I went through’ the items and cut down the expenditure somewhat, but not so as to destroy efficiency. I was in a better position to do so than the late Minister of Defence was, because I had an opportunity not only of seeing what was proposed for the year, but also what was expended in the previous year. I could, therefore, form an opinion as to where there would be a chance of a saving being made. I cut down, the Estimates by £10,000 or £13,000. But, as I have said, I did not see these special items at that time. A sum of £32,500 is set down for accoutrements of one sort and another, such as great coats, straps, and a variety of things that are necessary for military purposes. There is also a sum of £10,000 for saddle-trees, stirrups, and bits; £22,500 for making saddles; £5,653 for medical equipment; £4,000 for tools and miscellaneous materials, and other items. When I came to be Minister of Defence, my attention was called to the fact that we had very little cordite in stock. I noticed that an honorable member of another place asked a question as to how it was that certain guns could not be- used by the artillerymen on account of the scarcity of cordite. I made inquiries, and found that we had such a small quantity that we could not afford to fire it away in practice. Consequently, we were not able to give our artillerymen the opportunities for practice that they require. They could’ have used ordinary black powder, but suchpractice is not considered so good as is that with the ammunition that would be used in actual warfare.
– The artillerymen are made to use black powder for similar guns at Albany.
– We do treat Western Australia rather badly sometimes,, do we not? No doubt the artillerymen in some places are firing with black powder, and it gives them a certain amount of practice, but it is not desirable to use it more than can be avoided. . As I have explained. I found that we were very short of cordite, and were also very short in our number of improved rifles. I came to the conclusion that saddle-trees, saddles, and other accoutrements were not quite so necessary to have in stock as was cordite; because such accoutrements would be put in store ready for time of war, and very possibly would rot before they would be required. The conclusion that I came to was that if war took place, what we shouldcertainly require most was proper arms and ammuni- tion. Such warlike stores, it seemed to me, were of much greater consequence than great coats, saddle-trees, saddles, and waggons. We can commandeer any number of waggons if necessary, and we can make saddles, or can use those we have been using in the past. But we could not do without ammunition, and we could not do without the most improved rifles. In reference to rifles we are in this position. It has been decided by the Council of Defence, on the advice of MajorGeneral Hutton, that on a peace footing we should have something like 25,000 men. We are providing on the general Estimates of the year for something like 23,000 men, which is very close to the number considered desirable. On a war footing we are supposed to have 39,000 men. We must also arm them with the mosfimproved rifles. The weapon with which our service is armed is the Lee-Enfield magazine rifle. I have a statement here showing that we have something like 4,000 more rifles than are absolutely necessary to arm our forces on a peace footing. Of course our artillery and some other members of the forces do not require to be armed with rifles. In addition we have. about 30,000 men belonging to rifle clubs who are armed with Martini-Enfield rifles. The MartiniEnfield is a single-loader, and although it is a most excellent arm, it is not so good as a magazine rifle, which contains ten cartridges, that a man can fire very quickly. In actual war, as honorable senators can well imagine, troops armed with single loaders are placed at a great disadvantage when engaged against troops armed with magazine rifles, and the moral effect of having an inferior weapon must be considered. Therefore we ought to get the most improved rifles to arm our forces at their full strength. I do not say that we can attain that object at once, but we should vote for the purpose so much money every year until all our men are armed with magazine rifles. We can already arm in that way our troops on a peace footing ; but our reserve-list contains a large number of elderly men who are, perhaps, not as fit as they once were. It is necessary, however, to arm them also.
– We are told by the Colonial Council of Defence that we ought to have 50 per cent, more rifles than men.
– I am in possession of the statement made by the Colonial Council of Defence.
– At what date - 1901 ?
– It was either 1901 or 1902, and the statement was that the States, as they then were, ought to possess sufficient up-to-date rifles to keep the whole of the forces, and the whole of the reserves, up to war strength, with 50 per cent, in addition-. When I saw that statement, I at once came to the conclusion that the expenditure on accoutrements, saddle-trees, the making of saddles, camp equipment, medical equipment, and so forth might be reduced, and attention devoted to what is absolutely required in case of war.
– No provision is made for the 50 per cent, extra recommended by the Colonial Council of Defence.
– No, nor will there be for a long time to come.
– Because we have not the money, and I do not think we should be justified in undertaking the expenditure.
– I think it would be very well spent money.
– In my opinion, it would be better to gradually increase the number of rifles and the arms we require for defence purposes year by year, aswehave done in the past, spending just what money we can afford. Of course, I know that it has been advocated by the ex-Minister of Defence, Mr. McCay, that the Commonwealth should) borrow £800,000 in order to obtain accoutrements, arms and ammunition, big guns for the forts, and so forth, and to keep the forces up to war strength. I have, however, had a statement prepared by the officers of the Department, who informed me that it would cost over £1,000,000 to carry out the idea of the ex-Minister. When I address the Senate on the whole question of defence, I shall go into the details of all these matters.
– What up-to-date rifles have we at the present time?
– Some 35,000.
– Is provision made for any additional rifles?
– No. I propose that, instead of expending so much, as is proposed, for saddles, accoutrements, and so forth, we should devote the money to other more useful purposes.
– Will the Minister of Defence move an amendment to that effect ?
– Not at the present time, because I am not in a position to say exactly how these appropriations should be altered. Following the example of the Prime Minister in another place, I ask the Senate to allow the appropriations to stand. When the Council of Defence has decided as to what alterations of the items are desirable, I shall cause a statement to be laid upon the table of both Chambers, so that the fullest information and opportunity -for discussion may be afforded.
– There will have to be a new Bill.
– Not necessarily.
– But these moneys are now being appropriated for the special purposes set down.
– It is a bad system on which the Minister proposes to act.
– It is quite common for Ministers to deduct so much from one item, and make an addition to some other item.
– That system was the curse of Western Australia.
– It may be considered a bad practice, but it is commonly followed. The Government do not propose to take any action behind the scenes, but to lay before Parliament a full statement of how it is proposed to spend the money.
– Not after tha money has been spent, I hope?
– No, before a half-penny is spent.
– Why not embody the new proposals in the Bill next week?
– I have not yet the information, and I cannot obtain it in a moment.
– The officers of the Department ought to be’ able to obtain the information for the Minister.
– They cannot do so at a moment’s notice.
– It is not a moment’s notice.
– I do. not think it could be done on a notice of a week or two. I called a meeting of the Council of Defence to consider the question, and the following is an account of what took place : -
At a meeting of the Council of Defence, held on the 24th August, 1905, it was decided that the Chief of Intelligence should confer with the Chief of Ordnance, and submit proposals for a variation of certain items included in the Estimates for 1905-6, as laid before Parliament, viz., in division No. 6, subdivision No. 1, “ Special Defence Material,” to make provision for the supply of 5,000 rifles and ^£10,000 worth of cordite charges for guns.
– And to reduce other items.
– Those proposals ought to be here before the Bill is passed.
– Another place has consented to the arrangement I suggest, and surely honorable senators are able to trust the Government?
– What is the good of the Council of Defence? They had these Estimates before them for weeks.
– They had the Estimates before them only on the 24th August, and, as the officers mentioned have not reported to me, I am unable to call another meeting of the Council of Defence. *
– Surely that could be done within a week?
– I do not know that it could ; at any rate, it has not been done up to the present.
– Colonel Bridges is away, so that there cannot be a meeting.
– One or two of the officers are away, and it is impossible for me to get the information. I intend to preserve to Parliament all the powers which are necessary in a matter of this sort. I cannot at present indicate the exact variations which I shall propose, because I have no special knowledge, and must trust to officers who have. It ii’s not proposed1’ to decrease or increase these items by a single pound in the lump, but merely to vary them, and, as I say, a statement will be laid before Parliament giving full details of the proposed expenditure.
– Could not the officers of the Department prepare the information bv next Wednesday, and show whether £10,000, £20,000, or £30.000 can bestruck off the proposed expenditure on accoutrements and so forth?
– I do not intend that any proposed expenditure shall be struck off until I know exactly how I shall spend the money in other directions; and I cannot come to a decision without consulting the Chief of Ordnance and the Chief of Intelligence. When I get their report I shall call a meeting of the Council of Defence, and ascertain what they propose.
– Is it not stultifying Parliament to pass items for particular1 purposes, when the Minister tells us that the money will not be spent for those purposes ?
– There will be no stultification.
– The Minister used to laugh at the idea of buying great coats when wewanted ammunition and rifles, and yet that apparently is what the Minister himself purposes to do now.
– I am not going to do anything of the sort.
– We are being asked to vote for certain expenditure, which we are told will not be undertaken.
– In one sense that is so. but it is under the most straightforward circumstances, and I again point out that the other branch of the Legislature did not raise the slightest objection. One line in the Estimates, for which I am not responsible, makes provision for mounting 8-inch breech-loadingguns on the Cerberus. That item appeared in the Estimates of my predecessor.
– But’ the present Minister is responsible for it.
– Perhaps I am in one sense, though I did not know the item was in existence. At any rate, it is not proposed to mount those guns. It was intended that the Cerberus should be thoroughly overhauled, and converted into something like a decent fighting ship; but a careful survey showed that the vessel was beyond repair, and Captain Creswell thinks that she will have to be condemned and thrown to the scrap-heap. The gyroscopes are wanted for the torpedoes, and the service of shell is also necessary; and the total amount for special defence material is , £140,000.
– What is a gyroscope?
– It is an apparatus placed inside a torpedo so that if the torpedo deflects in any way, it is at once brought into a straight line.
– Can the Minister tell us the reason why the expenditureon public works generally is now debited per capita instead of to the individual States?
-No ; I am not responsible for that arrangement.
– But the honorable gentleman is responsible.
– That arranger ment was made by the late Government at the instance, I believe, of the then Treasurer,: Sir George Turner. I do not know when or why it wasmade, and I am. not at the present moment prepared to argue whether it is right and proper or. otherwise.
– What is proposed to be done in respect of the money charged, not per capita, but to the individual States during the first year or two?
– I think that, all along, defence works have been charged per capita.
-All public works were charged to the individual States previously. The alteration was made last year.
– I am not responsible for the arrangement, and it is a matter which I have not looked into.. But I have no doubt Sir George Turner had very good reasons for the action he took. It is true that one or two of the States may suffer, and be able to offer good reasons why the arrangement should not be continued. However., the arrangement has been agreed to. and I do not know that any alteration can be made
Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether be has any intimation to make to the Senate with regard to the treaty of peace proposed between Russia and Japan. We have so far heard nothing officially as to the. conclusion of peace between these countries.
– Any official communication on the subject would, of course, be sent to the Prime Minister. I have no offical information on the subject.
– In view of the explicit promise given to the Senate that the fullest possible opportunity would be afforded to senators to discuss the Public Service classification scheme, and in view pf possible loss arising under the scheme I should like to ask the honorary Minister when be proposes to redeem the promise given ?
– Some little time ago a Friday sifting was set aside for the discusmon of the scheme by the Senate. At the conclusion of the day’s sitting it appeared that there were one or two honorable senators who had not had an opportunity to take part in the discussion of the scheme. I then, stated that it was not the desire of the Government to block discussion of the matter, but that we were prepared to hear any discussion considered necessary, and to see that any representations made touching the policy and principle qf the Act and the classification scheme’ would receive proper recognition. Subsequently, owing to an honorable senator having placed a notice of motion oh the business-paper, I was prevented from in any way affording an opportunity for further discussion. The motion to which I refer was to have been discussed to-day, and I understand it- has been postponed.
– It has dropped off the paper, but notice of motion No. 4, dealing with the transference of officers from the clerical to the general division still remains on the paper.
– That also touches the question of the Public Service classification. I can say this at present:’ That should the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill be disposed pf to-morrow.1, no further Government business will be taken, and on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, any honorable senator who has .not already addressed himself to the classification scheme may take advantage of that motion to do so.
– No motion on the subject can then be proposed*
– No, the discussion will be taken in the same way as the previous discussion on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9:33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050914_senate_2_26/>.