2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether, in the event of the Senate ratifying the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, the Government intend to terminate it, and, if so, at what date the notice will be given, and the contract will be terminated?
– Six weeks ago the Government decided to give notice to that effect when the contract was iratified. We intend to give that notice, and in that case the contract will terminate on the 31st January, 1908. .
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has observed in the report of Colonel Bridges that the North Fremantle Fort has been called Fort Forrest, and, if: so, who was Minister of Defence when that name was given ?
– I have noticed the report, and from the information that has been supplied to me, I believe it was the late General Officer Commanding who first suggested the name of Fort Forrest.
That suggestion was submitted to the Minister of Defence, Sir John Forrest, and approved of.
– Am I to understand from the answer that Sir john Forrest has called the fort after himself?
– I stated the facts so far as I have been informed, and the honorable senator can make his own deductions.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer, without notice, whether, in view of the possi? bility of another Supply Bill being required, and of eventualities which may arise therefrom, he is able to give any information as to when the Estimates of expenditure are likely to be submitted to the Senate?
– That, will entirely depend upon the progress made in another branch of the Parliament. On the last occasion, two months’ supply was voted, and we hardly anticipated then that it would be necessary to bring down another Supply Bill.
– Some weeks ago, the Treasurer promised me that the Senate should have an earlier opportunity than usual to consider the Estimates, and I desire to know whether the Ministerof Defence has consultedthe Treasurer or the Prime Minister with a view to coming to some arrangement by which that opportunity can be given?
– Some time ago I informed the Senate that I would inquire whether We could not expedite the matter, and I found that we could not. The submission of the Estimates to the Senate will depend entirely upon the action of the other House.
– Will it not be possible to bring up the Estimates for the consideration of the Senate in some way associated with the ‘Supply Bill to which the Minister referred, or is he aware of any constitutional or parliamentary difficulty in the way of that course being adopted ?
– I do not think that the Estimates can be considered by the Senate at the same time as they are being considered in another place. The confusion which would arise from the adoption of that plan would be intolerable.
Motion (by Senator Matheson) agreed to-
That a return be laid on the Table of the Senate similar to “ Table C “ of Parliamentary Paper 15,1904. showing the postal matter, carried by the Sydney-Vancouver Mail Service in 1904-5, together with a supplementary return showing the amount of postal matter carried by the same service for the same period for Europe and Australia; and for America and Australia respectively..
Debate resumed from 14th September (vide page 2272) 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 into one harmonious whole, this Senate is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted’ to Ireland.
– The motion practically calls upon us to interfere in a matter with which we are not immediately concerned. I desire to ask whether, under similar circumstances, an Australian Legislature would care to be interfered with in this way ? I think not. I also observe that the motion suggests, as a possible result of this interference, that the Empire would be cemented into ohe harmonious whole. I venture to disagree with that view. I think that the introduction of any element of irritation between the various parts of the Empire is not likely to assist in that process. I further observe that we are called upon to express an opinion in favour of a matter of which we know very little. The motion speaks of “ Home Rule,” but it does not define the term. It does not indicate whether it means a simple measureof local government or something which was indicated by the late Mr. Parnell’ in his famous “ last link speech.” The remark whichhe made in Cincinnati in 1880 was as follows : -
Let us not forget the ultimate goal at which all we Irishmen aim. None of us, whether we are in’ America or in Ireland or wherever we may be, will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which binds Ireland to England.
That is the form of Home Rule which, on more than one occasion, was suggested by the most eminent representative of the Home Rule Party that Ireland ever possessed. Does the motion mean that kind of Home Rule, or does it mean, as I asked, a simple form of local government ?
– Does not the honorable senator know that Parnell accepted Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill ?
– Yes, but I also know that to-day there is a crowd of Home Rule advocates who go to the full extreme from which it is highly probable that the late Mr. Parnell receded. This motion does not repudiate the construction put upon the term “ Home Rule,” by Mr. Parnell in 1880. It does not indicate what extent of separation from the home country is meant, or whether there is to be any separation.
– There is no suggestion of separation.
– I know that there is ‘no suggestion of separation in the motion as it is worded, except such as may be hidden under the words “ Home Rule.” If it is to be granted then Home Rule means something. The fact that no meaning of the term is given led me to consider the whole position, and 1 decided to move, as I do now -
That all the words after the word “ That” be left out, with the view to insert in lieu thereof the following words, “ any subject of dispute between different parts of the United Kingdom should be left to the decision of the people and the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”
That suggests itself to me as a very proper solution of the question which has been brought before us. I admit that in excising the whole of the motion, except the word “ That,” we lose certain very nice expressions, but the amendment which I propose is, at any rate, clear and distinct. There is no possibility of mistaking its meaning. I submit it to the Senate as a fair and reasonable settlement.
– I rise to a point of order. Is not the amendment a direct negative ?
– No ; I do not think it is.
– I myself love Ireland and I love the Irish people. As an Englishman I regret that there is so much in past history that is not pleasant to look back upon. I recognise that fully. I also recognise that the Irish as component parts of the Empire have done possibly more than their share in its preservation a-nd perpetuation, and in winning for it those glorious victories which we look back upon with pride. Wherever our history has turned on great victories, Irish blood has been shed in plenty. Wherever skill has been needed to carry forward1, the arms of Great Britain, the Irish have come to the front. Irish blood, Irish skill, and Irish loyalty have done a great deal for the British Empire. I recognise all that, and my love and gratitude always go forth to the people of Ireland. I never allow myself to forget what we owe to them. But I am not to be led aside from what seems to me to be the clear path of. duty on this occasion by those considerations. I think that I may also ask the Senate to remember that there is such a thing as British justice. Whether it was more or less under a cloud in the past I do not say; but to-day I am convinced there is an honest desire on the part of the people of England, of Scotland, and of Wales, to do all that is just, fair and right to remove everything of an irritative character that lies between them and the people of Ireland, so that the people of all parts of the Empire may live together in happiness, and the Empire continue its career of justice and glory.
– The motion before the Senate is one of a deeply important character. A motion similar to this has already been adopted in the Parliament of another Federation. The question now being dealt with in the Australian Parliament is awakening interest not only amongst people who believe in Home Rule, but amongst those who are opponents of that principle. It is particularly a subject of interest for many millions of .people of the Irish race in the old country,* and for an even greater number who are kith’ and kin of the Irish race, but who are no longer subjects of Great Britain. It is a subject upon which there are strong ‘differences of opinion. Contrary views are honestly hel’d on each side. We can respect those differences. For myself, I go further and say frankly that I respect honest prejudices on this subject, where the holder of them has not had opportunities, perhaps, to acquire a full knowledge of the subject so as to enable him to hold more impartial views. In the Australian Parliament the subject ought to be discussed dispassionately. We should, as far as possible, put aside traditional animosities, and should especially, refrain from raising that particularly objectionable evil sectarian feeling. It may be necessary for me to make some references that “might, except for this explanation, be construed as indicating a desire on my part to arouse those old world feelings. But I have no wish to do that. I assure the
Senate that I shall try to deal with the subject without .wounding susceptibilities, whether national or religious, in the slightest degree. I shall have to answer some charges that have been made, but I shall do so if I can without giving offence. On the face of it the motion appears to involve merely an expression of opinion.
– I do not quite agree with the honorable senator. Though on the face of it the motion will, if carried, be an affirmation that the Senate believes that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland, it would not be ingenuous if I were not to say that we give a more extended meaning to it. Our sole object is not merely to affirm a principle. We have something beyond that in view. We desire that that affirmation shall be made for what purpose? In the hope that it will have a moral effect upon the people in whose hands the granting or refusal of Home Rule to Ireland remains - that is, the British Parliament and the British Government.
– We cannot make a demand upon the Imperial Parliament; we can only express an opinion.
– In the other branch of the Legislature, something” more has been done. I regret that the same terms were not adopted for the motion in both Houses. The honorable senator who has introduced- the question in the Senate may consider me ungracious - though I am thankful to him for bringing it forward - but nevertheless, I must say that the Senate had a right to expect from him some reasons why Home Rule for Ireland was, in his opinion, desirable, and why we in Australia should express an opinion concerning it.
– I did not want to have a long discussion, I wanted to see the motion carried without so much talk.
– The honorable senator had no ; reason to expect that the Senate would affirm such a motion without discussion. I should very much prefer the Senate to come to a vote after deliberation, than to see it pass the motion with the prospect of it being afterwards asserted that it was carried accidentally by a snatch vote. There are two sets of arguments in favour of the motion. First of all, it approves of the principle of granting Home Rule to Ireland. Next, it affirms that it is expedient for the Parliament of Australia to express an opinion to that effect. I trust that I shall not be considered to be going out of my way in dividing the motion in that manner so that it may be more clearly dealt with. Before proceeding further with the question, I should like to refer to the speeches of some honorable senators who have already spoken, and declared themselves as not in favour of the motion. Senators Walker and Fraser represent two distinct types of the opponents of Home Rule. Senator Walker did not expect to be called upon to speak so early, and I think I may say, without being uncomplimentary, that ‘he was not quite prepared to deal with the question. Although a Scotchman, he represents a type of Englishmen who have strong prejudices against the claims of Ireland, and who, I am sorry to say, are not so well informed on Irish history and Irish affairs as they ought to be when they take part in a discussion of the kind. The honorable senator seems to imagine that a great many concessions have already been made to Ireland, and, in effect, he asks - What more does Ireland want ? Exactly the same, question was asked no years ago by Mr. Pitt of Henry Grattan, the Irish patriot - “ What does Ireland want?” What has since been given to Ireland and that Ireland did not then possess? How many measures of freedom have been given to her - measures which ought not to be called concessions, because, in reality, they meant only the restorations of rights? Senator Walker did not, to -my mind, make an effective speech against Home Rule, although he tried to express, as Senator Pulsford did just now, his great love for the Irish, a love which seems to have actually led him to marry an Irish lady. I should like to say something nice about the honorable senator’s speech if I could ; but I am afraid I can only do so in a somewhat indirect way. I am reminded of rather a witty saying, by, I believe, an Englishman, that it is rather respectable to go to gaol for debt, because it shows that a man has once possessed credit. And so, whatever I might deduce from the honorable senator’s observations, I am satisfied that he, at one time, at any rate, possessed not only good sense, but good taste, in that he married an Irish lady. Senator Fraser, who followed Senator Walker, is altogether of another type. He is a man who does know something of Irish history and Irish affairs. I should here like to say that I am sorry Senator Fraser is not in his place, and my sorrow iS not purely selfish, arising from the hope that I might convert him, but is owing tq. the fact that he is absent on account of severe illness. Although it may surprise some of those Christian gentlemen, who are prone to associate the message of peace and good-will to man with a drawn sword, I may say that Senator Fraser and myself sat side by side during the whole of last session, and the earlier portion of this, and that nothing very serious happened between us. And I hope that at the end of my speech nothing I shall say will be regarded as a reflection on the honorable senator, although I wish he were present to hear the reply to some charges which certainly wounded my feelings.
– Not intentionally on the part of Senator Fraser.
– Senator Fraser has taken an interest in Irish politics, and he is so extremely loyal to the British Constitution and Throne, and everything British - to the flag particularly - that, in his opinion, any one who criticises adversely any action of Great Britain is disloyal. The honorable senator seems to think that Home Rulers are a particularly disloyal set of men ; and I am sorry that he gave utterance to such an opinion, which I will deal with later on. I ask the honorable senator and others who have made themselves familiar with the history of Ireland, especially since the time of the Union - who have traced the various Coercion Acts, and know the circumstances attending Catholic emancipation, the removal of the penal laws, Church disestablishment, and the liberalizing of the land laws from time to time - at what particular time has it ever been recognised that Ireland had a real grievance ? At ‘what time, in the estimation of those who think with Senator Fraser, were all the grievances of Ireland removed? Had Senator Fraser lived in 1829, and in addition to being a member of Parliament had been associated with the organization of which he is a prominent member, I wonder what action he would have taken in regard to Catholic emancipation.
– He would have been in favour of it.
– I believe that if such a Bill were introduced into this Parliament now, Senator Fraser would vote for it, but I doubt whether he would have supported Catholic emancipation in. 1829.
– I certainly should if I had been alive.
– The honorable senator may answer for himself ; I am now dealing with Senator Fraser. I ask Senator Fraser and others who oppose Home Rule, whether they regard the disaffections and upheavals which have occurred in Ireland from time to time, as the result of “ pure cussedness “ on the part of the Irish people? Have those gentlemen ever thought that there was any other better and higher motive than simply a desire to prevent the proper establishment of law and order? Have they ever thought that the various upheavals were the promptings of an ancient race, a liberty-loving people, who assert the God-given right, which every nation on earth has, to manage its own institutions in its own way? No; that is the last motive for which Ireland is given credit. Ireland is always regarded as anti-English. She was regarded as anti-English when she demanded Catholic emancipation, and also when she desired to have her land laws liberalized. Ireland has ever been anti-English and disloyal, in the minds of some people ; and simply because England has failed to govern her properly.In dealing with this question, I have necessarily to make some historic references, and to speak at some little length. My desire is to prove that even in the Australian Parliament we may set aside our prejudices, and discuss this question impartially, from the proper point of view. I first ask, is Ireland entitled to Home Rule?
– Will the honorable senator give a definition of Home Rule?
– I cannot do a hundred things in one sentence, but I shall be prepared, before I sit down, to give a definition of Home Rule, though it is somewhat unreasonable to ask any individual to do so.
– We are asked to vote for Home Rule.
SenatorMULCAHY. - I shall give a definition of Home Rule, not only by myself, but by Protestant statesmen.
– Gladstone, for instance.
– Yes, and others ; but I do not want to anticipate. The first and highest reason why Ireland is entitled to Home Rule is that she is a separate country and distinct people - a race and a nation - which has the God-given right that every nation possesses togovern itself. I wonder whether it is generally known that
Ireland for two centuries enjoyed a Parliament, which some historians say had powers almost co-ordinate with those exercised by the British Parliament.
– Could Ireland make war then?
– No ; and she does not want to make war now.
– A separate country is entitled to make war.
– From 1295 to 1495 Ireland had a Parliament, the powers of which were taken away, to be restored in 1782 to what is known as Grattan’s Parliament, which was destroyed by the Union in 1800. This is what Sir Charles Gavan Duffy said upon Ireland’s fitness and inherent right to govern herself, in dealing with O’Connell’s case -
Dean Swift, a Protestant authority - and I shall abound in Protestant authorities today, because I have been practically challenged to do so - said - “ It is true indeed that within the memory of man the English Parliaments have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom by laws enacted there. Nevertheless, by the laws of God, of nature, and of nations, and of your country, you are, and you ought to be, as free a people as your brethren of England.”
In 1495, the powers of the Irish Parliament were largely curtailed. In 1782, the Irish volunteers, both Catholic and Protestant, to the number of about 60,000, had, in the most loyal way. taken up arms for the defence of Great Britain and Ireland, and when the danger of war from outside had passed over, they demanded the restoration of those powers. Their demand was granted, and we read in. the English Act of the 23 George III., chapter 28- “ Be it enacted that the right claimed by the people of Ireland to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty and the Parlia ment of that kingdom in all cases whatsoever, and to have all actions and suits at law and in equity which may be instituted in that kingdom, decided in His Majesty’s courts therein finally and without appeal thence, shall be and is hereby declared and ascertained for ever, and shall at no time hereafter be questioned or questionable.”
History tells us what happened eighteen years later. This is rather an interesting question in regard to which there is much want of knowledge, at any rate amongst the general public. Why is Ireland so anxious to govern herself? Because - and I say this in plain, frank language - the government of Ireland by England has been an absolute failure ; because England does not understand the Irish people, and her policy in Ireland throughout has, unfortunately, been a policy of absolute distrust. John Stuart Mill, another English and Protestant authority, says in this regard -
More than a generation has elapsed since we renounced the desire to govern Ireland foT the English ; if at that epoch we had begun to know how to govern her for herself, the two nations would by this time have been one. But we neither knew, nor knew that we did not know.
In another place he says -
But what, it will be asked, is the provocation that England is giving Ireland, now that she has left off crushing her commerce, and persecuting her religion? What harm to Ireland does England intend or knowingly inflict? What good that she knows how to give would she not willingly bestow? Unhappily, her offence, is precisely that she does not know, and is so well contented with not knowing that Irishmen who are not hostile to her are coming to believe that she will not and cannot learn.
Very few Irishmen could express themselves in language more strongly condemnatory of English misgovernment. Again, referring to the failure of England to govern Ireland well, he says the reasons are these -
First, there is no other civilized nation which is so conceited of its own institutions, and of all itsmodes of public action, as England is.
That is a little wholesome criticism of Englishmen from one of themselves.
And secondly, there is no other civilized nation which is so far apart from Ireland in the character of its history, or so unlike it in the whole constitution of its social economy ; and none, therefore, which, if it applies to Ireland the modes of thinking and maxims of government which have grown up within itself, is so certain to go wrong.
I quote now from another authority, who is known as the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain. I admit that he is a man who sometimes changes his opinions.
– And sometimes stands to them.
– He also sometimes stands to them, and is, therefore, occasionally right. Mr. Chamberlain, in 1885, made use of these words -
I do not believe that the great .majority of Englishmen have the slightest conception of the system under which this free nation attempts to rule the sister country. It is a system which is founded on the bayonets of 30,000 soldiers encamped permanently as in a hostile country. It is a system as completely centralized and bureaucratic as that with which Russia governs Poland, or as that which prevailed in Venice under the Austrian rule. An Irishman at this moment cannot move a step - he cannot lift a finger in any parochial, municipal, or educational work without being confronted wilh, interfered with, controlled by an English official appointed by a foreign Government.
– Is that the case now ?
– Very largely. I shall not anticipate, but I shall deal with the present condition of Ireland in due course. Mr. Lecky is another authority who is not an Irishman, and not a Roman Catholic.
– It should not be necessary to emphasize the religion of an authority.
– I should not do it but for the fact that in the course of the debate certain references have been made, and I hope I shall not do it offensively. Mr. Lecky says -
Everything connected with this history corroborates the assertion of Burke that all the penal laws of the unparalleled code of oppression were manifestly the effects of national hatred and scorn towards a conquered people, whom the victors delighted to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to provoke.
– To what period was he referring?
– If the honorable senator had been listening he would know that I am dealing with the question whether Ireland desires Home Rule. I am obliged to review history to some extent, not only because history repeats itself, but because a great deal of even present ill-feeling in Ireland is the result of past misgovernment by England. How can it be expected that a nation that has not been able to govern Ireland well in the past will be likely to govern that country well in the future?
– It is not unreasonable for an honorable senator to ask -the period to which a quotation applies.
– That is so, and if honorable senators will listen they will learn that the reference was to the earlier part of last century, and to times to which Mr. Lecky refers as “ within our own recollection.” He further says -
They were not the effect of their fears, but of their security. Whilst that temper prevailed, and it prevailed in all its force to a time within our memory, every measure was pleasing and popular, just in proportion as it tended to harass and ruin a set of people who were looked upon as enemies to God and man, and indeed as a race of savages, who were a disgrace to human nature itself.
Those are not my words. They are the words of an impartial historian. I will now quote from another authority, who has been known to many members of the Federal Parliament. I refer to Lord Brassey, a former Governor of Victoria. In a speech delivered in the House of Lords in 1893 he said -
If you fail to win the hearts of the people, how is such a system to be reconciled with the democratic institutions, which you are not prepared to give up even in Ireland ? With a free press, with a full, nay, an excessive representation in Parliament, and household suffrage, how can .you reasonably hope to maintain through % long period of years a mode of government which finds no support in the local opinion and sentiment, to which you allow full and unchecked liberty of expression? It is not consistent to give Ireland representative institutions, and yet to act in total disregard of the wishes of the people constitutionally expressed. We may wish that the Irish had been content to govern themselves through the Imperial Parliament j but there is wisdom in the saying of Marcus Aurelius : “ A prudent ruler will not offend the prejudices of his people. He may wish that they were wiser.”
I dare say that a good many of our wellmeaning friends, standing on their very high pedestal, often do wish that we Irish were a little wiser. Lord Brassey went on to say -
There have been occasions when this saying might have found its application near at hand. The main objection to any scheme of home rule lies in a deep-rooted distrust of the political capacity of the Irish people.
I suppose it will not be questioned as a matter of history that nearly every reform granted in Ireland has been wrung from England under very extreme pressure. I have authorities to quote in support of that statement, although, perhaps, it is only too well known to be true. I referred a little time ago to the fact- that Grattan’s Parliament was the result of the arming of 60, 000 volunteers in Ireland, who took up arms in the cause, not of Ireland, but of Great Britain. When those men turned round and demanded it, Grattan’s Parliament was granted readily enough. It is a well-known historical fact that Catholic
Emancipation was promised to the people of Ireland at the time of the Union. The promise was most shamefully broken, and it was twenty-nine years later before Catholic Emancipation was brought into force by the energy of Daniel O’Connell and the agitation of the Irish people. So far as public agitation was concerned, this reform again may be said to have been achieved at the point of the bayonet. I should like here to refer to some of the forebodings to which expression was given in connexion with Catholic E mancipation -
Men sagely pointed out that emancipation was inconsistent with the Coronation oath, was incompatable with the British Constitution, that it involved the severance of the countries, the dismemberment of the Empire, and that England would spend her last shilling and her last man rather than grant it.
That is Catholic Emancipation, which all of us would now be so eager to vote for -
Others equally profound declared that in a week after emancipation Irish Catholics and Protestants would be cutting each other’s throats, that there would be a massacre of Protestants all over the island, and that it was England’s duty, in the interests of good order, civilization, and humanity, not to afford an opportunity for such anarchy.
Three-quarters of a century later one occasionally hears some hints of this kind of thing, even with regard to Home Rule. The disestablishment of the Church in Ireland was brought about by Fenianism. Mr. Gladstone, quoting a question to which he replies, said -
The right honorable gentleman says : “ Why did you not deal with the Irish Church in 1866, when you asked for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act?” My answer is, for a perfectly plain and simple reason. In the first place, circumstances were not ripe then as they are now. Circumstances, I repeat, were not ripe, in so far as we did not then know so much as we know now with respect to the intensity of Fenianism
Lord Dufferin said -
I entirely agree with the noble earl (Earl Granville), and with the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Lord Kimberley) that the attention of this country, and the conscience of England with respect to this question (the Church) were much stimulated, if not altogether awakened, by the fact of Fenianism. ‘
Lord Derby, writing in the Nineteenth Century, in 1881, expressed these views -
A few desperate men, applauded by the whole body of the Irish people for their daring, showed England what Irish feeling really was, made plain to us the depth of a discontent whose existence we had scarcely suspected, and the rest followed of course.
I am dealing now with the way in which reforms have from time to time been won from the British Government. In respect to land reform, Mr. Gladstone said - “ I must make one admission, and that is that without the Land League the Act of 1881 would not at this moment be on the statute-book.”
On that point I have another authority which is of very considerable interest at this time, and which makes me regret more ‘ than ever that Senator Fraser is not here. Some quotations have been made from a remarkable Orange manifesto - I think by Senator de Largie - which was issued recently in Ireland by the Independent Order of Orangemen. Under the heading of “Land and Labour,” I find this statement, showing how reform was thrust upon England -
It is one of the cruel ironies of the Irish agitation that a Unionist Government has been compelled to swallow the original programme of the Land League. Our country might have been saved the horrors of the land war had our rulers understood the wants of the Irish people, and been able to discriminate between the true and the false - between the real Irish grievances and the spurious demands of the blatant politicians. The responsibility for this lies at the door of the Irish landlords and their representatives in Parliament. The landlords have used Protestant Ulster for generations for their own selfish ends, and have made the Orange institution a stepping-stone to place an emolument for themselves and their families.
I have already referred to the general misgovernment of Ireland. A description of Ireland by one of her greatest orators, Richard Lalor Sheil, who, I may mention, was not a Roman Catholic, shows the effect of it on his view. He speaks of Ireland as -
A country indented with havens, watered by deep and numerous rivers, with a fortunate climate, and a soil teeming with easy fertility, and inhabited by a bold, intrepid, and (with all their faults) a generous and enthusiastic people. . . . Such is natural Ireland; what is artificial Ireland? Such is Ireland as God made her ; what is Ireland as England made her? This fine country is laden with a population the most miserable in Europe. Your domestic swine are housed better than the people. Harvests the most abundant are reaped by men with starvation in their faces; famine covers a fruitful soil, and disease inhales a pure atmosphere ; all the great commercial facilities of the country are lost; the deep rivers that should circulate opulence, and turn the machinery of a thousand manufactures, flow to the ocean without wafting a boat or turning a wheel, and the wave breaks in solitude in the silent magnificence of deserted and shipless harbors. I do not wish to prolong my speech by referring at too great length to acts of mis- government, and to treatment of Ireland, which indicated very great incapacity. The treatment of the Irish people during the famine of 1848 was a wretched example of most gross incapacity. While I would not for a moment accuse the English people of being heartless, there is no doubt that the greatest heartlessness which was ever witnessed was shown in Ireland during that time. Ships leaving Ireland with food, products -were met by ships sent with food from America by Irish people to feed their starving relatives. But even this succour, owing to the wretched mode of distribution, could not be conveyed to the starving people.
– In that year Ireland produced more than sufficient of the best of food to feed her whole population.
– Yes. In 1848 Ireland possessed ,£23,000,000 worth of stock and exported 2,000,000 quarters - that is, over 500,000 tons - of food products. I have now to refer to the somewhat delicate question of religious inequality and the maintenance of the Protestant ascendency. I hold that the Irish question is not a religious question, but, unfortunately, it has been made one - I do not mean in this debate - through the minority in Ireland being practically the dominant class. Impartial historians like Lecky and others say that it is through the upholding of Protestant ascendency that a great deal of trouble has been brought to Ireland. I wonder what the Rev. Woolls Rutledge would have thought, had he lived in the time of O’Connell.
– He would have been a Fenian if he had been in the midst of the trouble.
– I believe that for his own good credit he would have been. Reference is made to O’Connell’s trial by Sir Charles Gavan Duffy in these terms - .
O’Connell’s trial was the scandal of the age. “ The most eminent Catholic in the Empire,” says Sir Gavan Duffy., “ a man whose name was familiar to every Catholic in the world, was placed upon his trial in the Catholic metropolis of a Catholic country before four Judges and twelve jurors, among ‘ whom there was not a single Catholic.”
What would the Rev. Woolls Rutledge have said if the position had been inverted here in Australia? Mr. Lecky says, referring to the matter -
In 1833 - four years after Catholic emancipation - there was not in Ireland a single Catholic Judge or stipendiary magistrate. All the high sheriffs; with one exception, the over- whelming majority of the unpaid magistrates, and of the grand jurors, the four inspectorsgeneral, and the thirty-two sub-inspectors of police, were Protestant. The chief towns were in the hands of narrow, corrupt, and, for the most part, intensely bigoted corporations. Even in a Whig Government not a single Irishman had a seat in the Cabinet. For many years promotion had been steadily withheld from those who advocated Catholic emancipation, and the majority of the people thus found their bitterest enemies in the foremost places.
The question has been asked whether these things are being perpetuated. Thank God, a great many of them are not, but to a certain extent th’is” disparity is. I have here a return, published no later thani the nth July last, showing the religious denominations, professions, and occupations of persons holding the commission of the peace in Ireland - a country in which threefourths of the people belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The justices of the peace are divided as follows : - Episcopalians, 332 ; Presbyterians, 44 ; Methodists, 6 ; Society of Friends, 5 ; and. Unitarians, 4. Out of 413 justices of the peace, there are 291 Protestants, as against 121 Roman Catholics.
– Does the table from which the honorable senator is quoting refer to persons who are on the commission of the peace, or to only paid magistrates?
– It must refer to paid magistrates, because there are far more than. 413 justices of the peace in Ireland. I really do not wish to deal more fully with this question, because I think that every fair-minded man must know that there is a very great disparity in Ireland in that particular relationship. It is not a mere matter of assertion, but a matter of actual figures, which can be easily verified. The next question I wish to put is : Will Home Rule be what Senator Fraser implied, although he did not use the words - Rome Rule? It is very nearly time that we heard the last of that suggestion. I suppose that honorable senators know that the Roman Catholic Church contains in its ranks some of the most staunch anti-Home Rulers. If you want a specimen of a very extreme anti-Home Ruler, you must go to a member of the Roman Catholic Church in England ; the chance is that he will be quickly found. Speaking in a political sense, English Roman Catholics are the most bigoted anti-Home Rulers. It is a curious fact that, although this statement is made: over and over again, it is not borne out by past history. It is a matter of record that the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of lireland were not strongly in support of Roman Catholic emancipation. Says Mr. A. M. Sullivan -
Nor was it the Catholic nobility and gentry alone whose unexampled pusillanimity long thwarted and retarded O’Connell. The Catholic bishops for a long time received him and the advanced school of emancipationists with unconcealed dislike and alarm. They had seen the terrors and rigours of the penal times, and leave to live even by mere connivance seemed to them a great boon. The extreme ideas of this young O’Connell and his party could only result in mischief. Could he not go on in the old slow and prudent way? What could he gain by extreme and impracticable demands?
The last part of this ought to commend itself to Senator Walker.
-i think the honorable senator will acquit me of having made any allusion to Home Rule being Rome Rule.
– I was referring to something quite different. O’Connell was asked could he notgo on in the old slow and prudent way, and that, I said, was something which would commend itself to the honorable senator.
– I happen to belong to the Liberal Party in Great Britain. I was a great believer in Mr. Gladstone, amongst others.
– The honorable senator does not seem to be able to accept the compliment I was desirous of paying him. O’Connell was asked what he could gain by extreme and impracticable demands, and urged to go on in the old slow way which Senator Walker likes. The Orange manifesto I have quoted contains another passage in these terms -
No greater fallacy underlies Irish political controversy than the oft-repeated assertion that the Church of Rome has been the traditional friend of Irish nationality.
That is an Orange pronouncement. I remember the time when Monsignor Persico was sent to Ireland to inquire into Irish grievances. He was one of the most unpopular men there, because it was known that he was going to take back to Rome a report unfavorable to Ireland’s aspiration for self-government. In this connexion, I may fittingly refer to the number of Protestants who have taken the part of Ireland and have given up their liberty or shed their blood for her sake. Robert Emmett died upon the gallows, while Lord Edward Fitzgerald was practically assassinated. T may also mention the name of Wolfe Tone, who died for Ireland, and the names of Mitchel, John Martin, Smith O’Brien, Thomas Davis, and others of the Protestant faith, who suffered imprisonment and cruel exile for their devotion to their country. In more recent times, such men as Butt, Parnell, Biggar, Webb, and a host of other illustrious Protestants are found advocating Home Rule. But is Ireland fit to govern herself ? Here I should like to make a few remarks in connexion with the opinion which I have heard expressed toy many liberal-minded men, who, while not entertaining any positive prejudice, have shown a misunderstandingof the Irish character. An Irish writer, who knows the Irish people better than Senator Walker or Senator Fraser, says this of them ; and I believe it to be absolutely a fair description -
In plain truth the Irish are, of all people, the most disposed to respect constituted authority where it is entitled to respect, and the most ready to repay even the smallest measure of justice on the part of the sovereign by generous patient enduring and self-sacrificing loyalty. They are a law-abiding people, or, rather, a justiceloving people, but their contempt for law becomes extreme when it is made the antithesis of justice. Nothing but terrible provocation could drive such a people into rebellion.
The author of that passage is Mr. A. M. Sullivan. The Irish have one splendid characteristic - they are grateful people. They are warm-hearted. They do not forget a good deed done for them. The granting of their rights to them by Great Britain would not be forgotten by the Irish.
– They do not forget the other kind of treatment either.
– Why should they ?
– We should return good for evil.
– It has been said thatsome of the events that I have related are matters of long past history. But it is unreasonable to expect a nation to forget such history. The Irish have suffered from a series of bad laws for over a century. It is impossible for them to forget, though itmay be easy and convenient for Englishmen to do so. But I venture to say that the Irish would be ready to forget if allowed to do so by the remedy of their grievances and the giving of their government into their own hands. They are not so revolutionary a people as is sometimes imagined. Indeed, the Irish are one of the most conservative races under heaven. Their devotion to their church in all its vicissitudes is sufficient evidence of ‘how they cling to whatever is good. It cannot be said that they have never given satisfactory evidence that they know how to govern themselves, because the country was never more prosperous than under the regime’ ‘of the Irish Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator think that Ireland has not her fair share of representation in the English Parliament now ?
– Certainly, Ireland has more than her proportionate share of representation at present. But what is the reason for that? Because her people have been driven away. Does the history of any other country contain the record of such an exodus as has1 taken place from Ireland? It was not because there was not room for the people at home. There was plenty of land to feed them, and the Irish are the most country-loving people in the whole world. They leave their native land with the keenest regret, and maintain the greatest affection for it while they are away.
– They are the most generous in sending remittances to their friends at home ; I will say that for them.
– They are. There is a general idea that Ireland would claim separation from Great Britain if she had an opportunuity. No true friend of Ireland would support that opinion. Of course, there are extremists in every party. There are national extremists as well as labour extremists and religious extremists. But we should not take the utterances of extremists as the expression of the opinion of a whole people. There are men in Ireland who are actuated by deep animosities. They may be pardoned for that, though they are really about the worst enemies of Ireland’s cause. The geographical relationship of Ireland to Great Britain must associate the two countries together for, all time. Their true interests must bring them together. They will be far stronger as a united nation than divided in sympathies, as at present. But no true friend of Ireland would argue that she should be absolutely separated from Great Britain.
– Why speak of two nations?
– The English and the Irish are not one people, and it is not possible to make them one nation in the sense in which we usually understand the word. Why should not Ireland enjoy in the British Federation the same privileges as little Tasmania enjoys in the Commonwealth? It has to be admitted, however, that there are serious difficulties in connexion with the granting of Home Rule. The question of representation at Westminster is one of them. But they are not insurmountable difficulties. The formation of this Federation of British-speaking communities seems to me to have paved the way for recognising Ireland’s true relationship to Great Britain. In reference to her present disproportionate representation in the Imperial Parliament, I would say that, if Ireland had equality of representation in the House of Lords, as Tasmania has equality of representation in the Senate of Australia, there might be good grounds for reducing her number of members in the House of Commons.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is not aware that Ireland has more representative peers in the House of Lords than Scotland has?
– The conditions of Scotland and Ireland are not parallel, as men like John Bright pointed out over and over again.
– Scotland has only sixteen representative peers.
– Possibly, when the honorable senator goes to England again, the Government may make him one, and alter the disparity. Sir Charles Russel, an authority to whom respect must be paid, made reference to what would happen in the event of Home Rule being granted to Ireland. He expressed the belief that-
When this question of local self-government is settled in 1 1 eland, you would find emerging from places where you know them not now, men who, by their education and ability, would be looked to in a normal condition of society as natural leaders of the community. It is a great principle of statesmanship, that if you wish to make men worthy to bear responsibility you must put responsibility upon them. The degradation of Irish politics is largely due to English distrust.
I have been asked to refer to what is really intended by Home Rule. It may be remembered that Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill of 1893 was practically accepted - with some little reservations - by the Irish party. What did that Bill provide? It contained this provision -
With the exceptions, and subject to, the restrictions in this Act mentioned, there shall be granted to the Irish Legislature power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland in respect of matters exclusively relating to Ireland or some part thereof.
The Bill went on to set out first, curiously enough, what the Irish Legislature should not do. It was provided that it - shall not have power to make laws in respect of the following matters or any of them.
Several other subjects, with which the Irish Legislature might not deal, are mentioned, and then we read further -
The powers of the Irish Legislature shall not extend to the making of any law -
Respecting the establishment or endowment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; or
Imposing any disability or conferring any privilege on account of religious belief; or
Abrogating or prejudicially affecting the right to establish or maintain any place of denominational education, or any denominational institution or charity ; or
Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money, without attending the religious instruction at that school; ….
– Can the honorable senator tell us how many Irish members there were to be at Westminster ?
– There were to be eighty Irish members in the British Parliament.
– It was regarded as one of the great blots of the Bill that it permitted Irish members to control the business of England and Scotland in Imperial matters, while English and Scottish members had no voice in Irish affairs.
– As I said before, I recognise that there were many difficulties to overcome. The Irish people under that Bill were not to have the power, which we possess in Australia, to control the Customs, or even the Customs revenue, the whole of which went to Great Britain.
– In that connexion there was to Le something like our book keeping system. The revenue ultimately was to go to Ireland, but was to be corlected under Imperial enactment.
– That was to prevent Ireland imposing high protective, duties as against England.
– That is so. I shall not dwell further on that phase of the question, because Senator Walker, who” was the only one who made inquiries regarding it, has left the Chamber. A measure of Home Rule, such as Mr. Gladstone proposed, would foe satisfactory to Ireland at the present time.
– Why make that reservation ?
– All that the Irish people desire is to govern themselves in regard to matters which are really of domestic concern. They want the power to ap- » point their own officials, and to have none of that disparity in denominational matterswhich existed for so many years. Whether the Irish people will be able to govern themselves well, is surely a matter for themselves.
– The great difficulty is that the constituencies of Great Britain pronounced emphatically against that Bill.
– Speaking in all candour, I foresee that Home Rule for Ireland must be part and parcel of Imperial Federation.
– That is distinct from Home Rule.
– Mr. Parkin, ar» Imperial federationist, who was in Australia, was challenged on the platform on this particular issue, and he, with all the prejudice of many of his class against Home Rule, was obliged, by the stern logic of facts, to admit that, under any scheme of Imperial Federation, Ireland could not be denied the right to govern herself. I cannot understand why ardent Imperial federationists cannot see the inconsistency of” advocating a scheme of the kind, while they deny to Ireland that principle of Home Rule enjoyed by Australia and Canada. There have been somereferences to the disloyalty of Home Rulers which I wish had never been uttered, and which I feel very keenly. I give way to no one in my admiration of all that is good in the British Government and British institutions. Any Australian who finds fault with the rights we enjoy under the British Crown, is not able to appreciate the best form of government that any country in the world has ever possessed. I resent the imputation made by Senator Fraser that 95 per cent, of Home Rulers are absolutely disloyal. That honorable senator asserted that he could prove his statement, but we know that he could not - that he was only employing a figure of speech. I should like to know what Senator Fraser means by “ disloyalty “ ? Disloyalty to whom? Does he mean that the Irish people, or Home Rulers, are disloyal to the person of His Majesty the King? If so, I tell him, and other honorable senators who venture such an assertion, that they know very little of the Irish people. King Edward, to-day, could go through the most lonesome part of Ireland alone, with much greater safety than he could traverse a street in London. In Ireland, His Majesty would not need to be attended by a body of Life Guards. If the King were in Ireland, and there was the slightest idea that a hair of his head would be touched, ‘he would have no more devoted protectors than his Irish subjects, who have something more than respect for him. Does Senator Fraser mean disloyalty to the free institutions that we enjoy? If so, the idea is absurd. What the Irish want is an extension of those free institutions to Ireland. What is meant by “disloyalty”? I should like Senator Fraser, or any other honorable senator who thinks with, him, to give a definition of the word. In my mind, true loyalty is akin to true patriotism - a proper pride in everything good in our country and our nation. Loyalty should arise from a proper love and veneration for all that is good and great in our country. Some time ago, when there were mad freaks here in connexion with the South African war, we had some curious definitions of loyalty. If a man did not take off his hat, cheer, and drink plenty of whisky he was for the time regarded as disloyal. One of the greatest privileges in the British Empire is the absolute freedom to criticise adversely even the institutions of our country. According to some people, Sir Henry CampbellBannerman and John Redmond were disloyal in connexion with the South African war ; yet I venture to say that if the Government of Great Britain had then fallen into the hands of either of those gentlemen as Prime Minister, that war would have been carried out with just as much honour to the Empire -as it was under Mr. Balfour.
– In spite of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s denunciation of the war?
– A good deal has to be allowed for.
– In party politics - the honorable senator is quite right.
– In conclusion, I should like to say why I think we in Australia are justified in expressing an opinion on this question, though my remarks on this aspect of the matter have been anticipated largely by Senator De Largie. If we are asked why we should affirm that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland, and that Home Rule is consistent with the best traditions of Great Britain, I, in return, ask why not make the affirmation? Are we not part and parcel of the British Empire ? Are we not, every one of us, proud to belong to that Empire, and deeply interested in its welfare? Are not many of us looking forward to a greater and even more extended Federation - the federation of the Empire, and, possibly, the federation of the British- speaking race? Shall we not take an interest, ‘to the small extent of expressing an opinion, in the mode of government of one particular portion of the Empire, which, be it said to the credit and the discredit, at the same time, of the. Empire, is the only portion which is dissatisfied, and has reason to be dissatisfied, with its government? What effect would such an expression of opinion have? If there is any. question as to the ability of the Irish people to govern themselves, we may point to every one of the British Possessions, where, when there has been no bar of creed or country, the Irish people, in proportion’ to their numbers, have been able to take a place equal to the highest in the political world. What possible harm can there be in the people of Australia, who enjoy the greatest plenitude of freedom, recording through their Parliament their appreciation of their institutions, and endeavouring to have them adopted in a portion of the Empire, for which’ many of us have sincere affection? I trust that the majority of honorable senators will see their- way to approve of this motion, and that the moral effect will be such that the granting of Home Rule to Ireland may be hastened.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).In common with Senator Mulcahy, to whose address I have listened with considerable interest, I regret that the honorable senator who introduced the motion did not consider it an obligation on him to justify either its introduction or the proposal itself. Senator Dawson, having omitted to afford us that justification, can hardly take exception to the attitude of those who, like myself, intend to oppose the motion, and are left, as it were, to their own resources in summing up what they deem to be the underlying arguments. I propose to approach the question from two stand-points. I am not prepared to discuss the merits or demerits of Home Rule, for the very reason that my first objection to the motion would seem to disqualify me from undertaking such a task. The first stand-point is as to the propriety of our discussing a matter which purely concerns the internal affairs of another self-governing portion of the Empire, and the second is found in the arguments which, judging from their frequent use in Australia, are chiefly relied upon to support the claims of Home Rule. In considering the propriety of introducing the motion, 1 turn to its terms, and there read that, “ in accordance with the most treasured traditions of British Governments,” and so forth. What are those traditions.
– Justice, liberty, and peace.
– Let me continue where the Honorable senator leaves off. I venture to say that one of the most treasured traditions of the British Government is the right of every self-governing unit to control its own affairs, and that right must surely carry with it the duty of each selfgoverning unit to mind its own business.
– That is the reason for the motion.
– The obligation on us to mind our own business?
– No, to let the people of Ireland mind their own business.
– I think that I now have the honorable senator on the horns of a dilemma. I am endeavouring to show that it is one of the traditions of’ the British Empire that every independent unit of that great Empire possessing the machinery of government shall be allowed to govern itself, and that carries with it, as a natural consequence, the obligation to mind its own business. That being so, I naturally ask, have we the right - and I use the word, not in its legislative sense, because we can, if we please, pass a motion expressing an opinion on the conduct of government in any country - I might ask should we, as a matter of propriety, deal with a . question of this ‘ kind, affecting a matter so absolutely, within the functions of another sovereign Parliament? This can be tested in a way which it seems to me is extremely simple. Those who support the motion take us the position that we have a right to express opinions on matters which are within the province of the Imperial Parliament. If that is so, the Imperial Parliament must have a corresponding right to pass motions dealing with affairs here. I wonder what Senator Henderson would have said, if, during the passage of the Alien Immigration Restriction Bill through this Chamber, the Imperial Parliament had passed a motion expressing its opinion as to the way in which we should conduct ourselves. The honorable senator, and those who support this motion, would justly and rightly have denounced the impropriety of the Imperial Parliament attempting to interfere with a matter, the settlement of which belongs to us.
– The cases are not parallel. In passing that Bill, we were preserving and protecting Home Rule, and in this motion we express the wish that it should be extended to others.
– Surely the honorable senator can see that, whether the question is Home Rule, or anything else, there is a principle involved as to the right ofa self-governing unit of the Empire and a sovereign Parliament to deal with its own affairs ? I say that we have a right to deal with the question of alien immigration, but I claim that if we have the right to pass a motion dealingwith a matter of Imperial affairs, the Imperial Parliament has a corresponding right to pass motions dealing with our affairs. I ask Senator Henderson again, whether he would not have resented, as I should have done, any attempt on the part of the Imperial Parliament to take such action with a view to influence the course of legislation here? I instance the matter involved in the Tariff, a question on which Australians are very widely divided. Would it be thought a proper thing for the Imperial Parliament to pass a motion intended to influence our action in dealing with that matter ? If we can interfere in the matter of Home Rule, which divides opinion in Great Britain, as the Tariff divides Australian opinion, the Imperial Parliament wouldbe equally within its rights in passing a motion in the terms here adopted that, in accordance with the most treasured traditions of the British Empire, the Australian people ought to adopt a free-trade policy. If it is a proper thing for us to thus deal with any matter of Imperial concern, it is equally right for the Imperial Parliament to so deal with any matter of Colonial concern. I lay down that principle. I say that, if the Imperial Parliament attempted to do whatwe are now asked to do, there would be at once, from one end of Australia to the other, a protest so loud and indignant that it would not be twenty-four hours before such action would be stopped in the Imperial Parliament. Take another matter, which, though it does not differ in any way in principle, to my mind comes a little closer in detail to the motion now before us. I refer to the movement for Federation. That was a movement to distinctly alter the form of government prevailing in Australia. The motion we are asked to adopt h’ere proposes a radical alteration in the form of government that prevails in Ireland.
SenatorHenderson. - Hear, hear.
– Even Senator Henderson agrees that there is a parallel between these two cases. Suppose the Imperial Parliament had passed a motion urging us to adopt the Commonwealth Bill, what would have been said by a large section of the Labour Party opposed to that Bill in the various States? They would have been justly indignant. They would have felt that all their rights as citizens of Australia were being absolutely outraged, and they would have had no stronger argument in urging the electors to reject the Bill than the fact that the Imperial Parliament had so interfered. Still dealing with Federation, though I do not know whether we ought to take it seriously or not, we have heard some rather war-like utterances from Western Australia, in which the term secession has been used with some freedom.
– It was used also in New South Wales.
– That is so; and in that case, as no doubt Senator Givens will recognise, with a great measure of justice. I am not dealing now with the wisdom or otherwise of the talk about secession, or of the measure of real or imaginary injustice which may underlie it. Suppose some one of those who, in the name of democracy, speak in the Imperial Parliament, proposed a motion couched in similar terms to this, tothe effect that the Federal Constitution ought to provide machinery to enable the dissatisfied States to withdraw from the Union. What would happen then ? Would we pay any attention to it in the first place? The only attentionwe should pay would be to express our strong disapprobation of any attempt on the part of the Imperial Government to interfere with affairs which are peculiarly our own. That brings me back to my starting point, that the right of any individual unit of the Empire to manage its own affairs must necessarily carry with it a corresponding obligation not to interfere with any other similarly constituted unit. It appears to me that in this motion we are departing from the principle which I have sought to lay down. It may be said that there are matters in connexion with which, as in the case of the South African war, Australia has expressed an opinion, not only by resolutions in various forms, but by practical action. But I draw a very marked distinction between a portion of the Empire expressing an opinion when the whole of the Empire is beset by some foreign enemy, and a case in which there happens to Le an internal dispute in connexion with the management of the affairs of a particular portion of the Empire. There is a very big difference between the two cases. While I think it is an entirely proper, and absolutely natural thing, that when the Empire as a whole is faced with a crisis, every portion of it should be at liberty to express an opinion on the matter, the position is very different when only the local affairs of a section of the great Empire are involved. I have endeavoured to deal with the question from the point of view of whether it is right for an Australian Parliament to deal with this matter, and I come row to our individual right to express ourselves on it in our representative capacity. This motion is brought forward in order that we may register in respect of it something more than the opinions of the thirtysix persons who constitute the Senate. It is not merely a proposal that thirty -six citizens of Australia shall express a certain opinion, but that the passing of this motion shall have behind it the fact that a body of honorable senators representing the constituencies of Australia have voiced the opinion it expresses. I ask what right have we to affirm that our constituents are either in favour of or against this motion? In common with every other member of the Senate, I represent the State from which I come in its entirety, but I am not prepared to say what are the views of the people of New South Wales on this matter. I have had no mandate from them and no intimation as to what their wishes are, though I may reasonably assume that they are divided on this question. It is entirely unreasonable, therefore, to ask me to affirm, as a representative of New South Wales, that the people of that State are in favour of this motion.
– The honorable senator has not. a mandate on every question that comes up for consideration in the Senate.
– Senator Turley is perfectly right.
– What will Dill Mackay say to the honorable senator?
– I am sure I do not know. I have not the pleasure of that gentleman’s acquaintance. I can go further, and say that I am not sure that I should know him if I met him.
– The honorable senator will know his criticism when he sees it in the Watchman.
– The honorable senator will not see it.
– Probably, if the criticism is unkind, some friend will send it to me with a blue pencil mark around it. However, I am considering the question of the right we have as representative men to speak on behalf of those whom we represent, without any! intimation from them as to how they would deal with this matter or as to their wishes in connexion with the question.
– The honorable senator does not propose to go to the country on this question?
– I do not think that it is a question that ought to be before us at all.
– It is before us, and if the honorable senator does not believe that it should be, why is he speaking to the motion?
– I have already said that I do not intend to discuss the merits of the question. I come now to an argument generally used in Australia, and to which I take considerable exception. It is that because Home Rule prevails in this ;Commonwealth, Australians are under some obligation to support it elsewhere, and that it is necessarily democratic to support a demand for Home Rule.
– It is a democratic principle, certainly.
– But how far does the honorable senator intend to push the principle? If it is pushed to its last extreme, it means anarchy. If every section of a self-governing country is entitled tohave its own form of government, it is only necessary to continue the subdivisions to get to the individual. That is the logical extreme of the proposition.
– We are dealing here not with a section of the people of a country, but with a country, a nation, and a separate race of people.
– We will admit that. It does not matter that a country is separate geographically. I am not now saying whether the people of Ireland are entitled to self-government or not. I am raising the question of whether it absolutely and necessarily follows that men, having democratic leanings, shall support the claim of any section of the people of a country to self-government. If that be so, it follows that, quite apart from Ireland, when any section of the people of any country ask for separate legislative machinery, it ought to be granted them. Are those who support this motion prepared to say that?
– No; and it is not logical of the honorable senator to argue in that way.
– It appears to me that it is. I direct the attention of honorable senators to an instance that occurred not long ago in Queensland. There was a demand in Queensland for the separation of that Colony into three separate Colonies, and I may say that I know of no argument put forward in support of the demand for Home Rule, and in support of the general contention that it is democratic to support a proposal for local self-government, which could not have been used in support of the demand’ made by Northern and Central Queensland for separate forms of government. What happened in that case? Did the democrats of Queensland support those demands? I ask Senator Givens to say what was the attitude of the staunch’ democracy of Queensland on the proposal made to divide that Colony into three Colonies.
– A large number supported it, and I supported it for one.
– Exactly. Senator Stewart, I am sure, will admit at once that, while there are a certain number of labour men who supported the demand, there were others who opposed it. I mention the instance as showing that it does not follow necessarily that because a section of the people of 1 a country enjoying legislative sovereignty desires separate legislative; machinery, every friend of democratic institution is bound to support such a demand. No doubt those who supported the proposition had good reasons for their action, but I think that its opponents had stronger and better ones for their opposition. The principal reason which animated a great number of Senator Stewart’s friends was that they feared, at any rate at one time during the negotiations, that if selfgovernment were conferred upon the northern, and perhaps the central, divisions, it would result in black labour States being formed. That fear animated very many of the democrats when they opposed the proposal.
– That fear was expressed very early in the movement.
– Nevertheless, it was a fact.
– The demand for separation was not put forward by the main body of the people, but by a small, interested class.
– Was Senator Stewart “a small interested class” when he supported the movement?
– I am speaking; of North Queensland. Senator Stewart represented a constituency in Central Queensland.
– The demand was made, and it was supported by Senator Stewart for very good reasons. My point is that the mere fact that a demand is put forward by a section of the people to have self-government does not necessarily imply that it should be granted. This doctrine must not be carried too far. As Senator Stewart did not absolutely deny my statement just now-
– The honorable senator was quite correct in what he said.
– Otherwise I intended to read a statement by Mr. Dutton on a Bill which proposed to separate the State under some form of financial readjustment. It practically confirms what I have just said, and what the honorable member admits. It would have been an absolutely sound reason for the strongest democrats to oppose the gift of self- government to North Queensland if they feared that, as a result of its being granted, the action of the new State would have been such as to jeopardize the social, economical, and political interests of the State. Therefore’ it does not follow that every section of the community, when it so desires, is entitled to have separate legislative and administrative machinery. We have to consider the interests of the remainder of the original political unit. The same principle might have been applied with regard to the American Union, and the unfortunate events which led up to the civil war. There was a demand made by a number of the States that they were entitled to absolute self-government. What answer did the Union give? “We cannot,” the Union replied, “concede that right. We have to consider the interests of the whole country, and the secession of so many States therefrom would, in our opinion, seriously jeopardize not only the immediate but the permanent interests of the Republic.” Consequently the demand was refused. Every argument which has been put forward here in favour of the mere contention that any section of the people has the right to selfgovernment could have been applied then ; but the ‘ Americans, at an enormous cost of blood and treasure, disputed the contention, and fortunately, in the interests of the world, they were successful. I suppose that there is hardly an American to-day who is not congratulating himself, at any rate in his mind’, on the result” of the civil war.
– Do not confuse secession with decentralization.
– No; but if Home Rule is, as the honorable senator said, the heaven-sent gift of self-government, I cannot understand him being content with the Bill that was introduced by Mr. Gladstone, because it made only a partial recognition of the principle. It denied to Ireland the right to manage her fiscal affairs, to control her constabulary, or to deal with her coinage and legal tender. It did not even hand over the control of the Post Office, although it provided machinery by which at a later date it could be transferred. The original Bill contained a distinct provision for the protection of the minority. All these were absolute inroad’s upon the principle which the honorable senator is seeking to substitute in its place. Either he does not believe in this heaven-sent gift of selfgovernment, or he is not satisfied with the
Home Rule Bill which Mr. Gladstone proposed. I have been drawn by the interjection from the course which I laid down for myself - not to deal with the merits of this question, but to “discuss the propriety of the motion being moved. Like Senator Mulcahy, I earnestly desire to see the continued unity of the British Empire. He is, I am sure, entirely with me in that matter.
– I want to see. it made a reality, and not a mere name.
– I am entirely with the honorable senator, except as to the method by which it should be done. In that memorable speech with which Mr. Gladstone introduced his first Home Rule Bill he indulged in prophecy, which is at all times dangerous, even for so able a statesman as he was. Looking to history for an illustration with which to support his argument, and referring to Sweden and Norway, he used; these words -
And yet with two countries so united what has been the effect? Not discord, not convulsions, not danger to peace, not hatred, not aversion, but a constantly growing sympathy ; and every man who knows their condition knows that I speak the truth when I say that in every year that passes the Norwegians and Swedes are more and more feeling themselves to be the children of a common country, united by a tie which never is to be broken.
To-day we who speak with a knowledge of late events can see how mistaken he was. in his prediction as to what would take place.
– We see the first step taken towards a Scandinavian Federation.
– Undeterred by the fate which overtook that prediction, the honorable senator rushes in to make another one. I hope to be available at a later period to show that he took up the role of a false prophet. In conclusion, I repeat, first, that we have no more right to deal with the internal affairs of another portion of the Empire than any other portion would have to interfere with our affairs; and, secondly, that it is not necessarily a democratic act to support every demand which may be put forward by any section of the people for self-government.
– After the lengthy and interesting speech made by Senator Mulcahy, I think it would be unwise on my part to deal at any length with the subject-matter of the motion. I certainly disagree with those who consider that because Austra.Ua is distant so many thousands of miles from England, and that Ireland is in such close proximity to England, we ought to allow this question to remain absolutely in the hands of the English people, and to take no part either one way or the other in the endeavour to influence the decision on a question which appears to rest absolutely with the Imperial Parliament. As a part of the British Empire, we have no right to bind ourselves to anything which we may consider to be a living wrong. We may love England very dearly, and we may feel all the pride that is the stock-in-trade of the average patriot, but it would be unwise on our part to shut our eyes to the wrongs which other people are receiving at the hands of England. It is for this reason that I have advocated Home Rule for Ireland for many long years. With me it is not a question of yesterday, ‘ or of ten or twelve years ago. For the last twenty-five years, I. have been convinced that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland. I feel that I ought to support this motion, because I believe’ that when it has been passed - by a very large majority, I hope - it will have some influence with the British Parliament. I believe that our voice will at least be listened to, and that the fact that Englishmen and Irishmen are associated in this movement, will induce the British Parliament to incline its ear to the request for Home Rule. By this motion, -we are not, as Senator Millen suggested, endeavouring to demand something from England. We are merely asking that for the love of British traditions, for the love of liberty and justice, England shall listen to our appeal, and concede the right which has so long been withheld from Ireland. I had a few quotations to read ; but seeing that so much of the time at our disposal has been consumed, and that such a lengthy speech has been delivered this afternoon, I shall abandon most of them. In the early part of the debate, one or two questions were asked which I desire to answer. In leading the opposition to the motion, Senator Walker, who, unfortunately, is not in the Chamber at present, said -
I think that the mover and his seconder, Senator Henderson, might give us a definition of what Home Rule for Ireland means.
That was a very fair request on his part, and I intend to state what I mean by Home Rule for Ireland. I have read most of the principal speeches on the occasion of the introduction of Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill. Quite recently I have had the plea- sure of reading the Bill itself. But I have also had the pleasure of realizing what it is to live under a form of self-government in Australia ; and the meaning which’ I attach to Home Rule is this - that every vestige of liberty which we, as citizens, enjoyin Australia ought to be conceded to Ireland. She ought to enjoy as great a measure of Home Rule as we do. Her people have proved in all the walks of life that they are capable. Her sons in every part of the world have proved their capacity to fill literary positions, to ornament thelegal profession, and to distinguish themselves in every trade or calling. Why should not Ireland be permitted to exercise her will by making the laws by which she is to be governed? I may inform Senator Walker that I believe that there ought always to be a form of union between England and Ireland, and I do not think that the ultimate granting of Home Rule will interfere with our desire in that respect. But I have never yet known a man: who liked to be flogged into submission. I have never known a man who enjoyed hi® position after being flogged. He would not be a man if he did. Those who prattle about their love for Ireland and their loyalty to England should bearin mind that a country should make her citizens love her if she wants them to be loyal ; whereas a country that makes her citizens despise her will make them disloyal in a very short time. I believe in a higher and better union between England and Ireland than that which exists to-day. I believe in the kind of union expressed, not by an Irishman or a Roman Catholic, but by a Protestant and a great man, who made use of the words which I shall quote. I refer to Mr. Grey, who ultimately became Earl Grey. In the year 1800 he stood up in the House of Commons and protested against the bartering away of Ireland’s rights, and defended her cause in the following terms : -
What I most heartily wish for is a union between the countries, but by a union I mean something more than mere word union - not of Parliaments, but of hearts, affections, and interests, a union of vigour, of ardour, of zeal for the general welfare of the British Empire. It is this species of union, and this only, that can tend to increase the real strength of the Empire, and give to , it security against any danger.
It is that kind of union which I believe will be the outcome of the extension of Home Rule to Ireland. Senator Walker interjected, while Senator Mulcahy was speaking, “ I come from Scotland, which has a smaller proportion of representation, than Ireland has in the Imperial Parliament. The Scotch have only 72 representatives, whilst the Irish have 105, and yet they are not satisfied.” There is a verv good reason for that. There is even a better justification for the case of the Irish people than that given by Senator Mulcahy to-day. Senator Walker simply had regard to numbers of representation,’ without remembering that, throughout the history of the relationship between Scotland and England, Scotch laws have been as clearly Scotch as it is possible to make them, and English laws as clearly English as possible, whilst Irish laws contained no trace of Irish sentiment or Irish aspirations. In other words, Scotch Jaws passed by the British Parliament have always expressed the will of Scottish people.
– Not always.
– Generallyspeaking. There may have been one or two cases in which that expression has been retarded, but ultimately the Scottish mind has been imprinted upon the Statutes relating to Scotland. The same may be said in reference to English law. But in the case of Ireland we must candidly admit that there is scarcely an impression of Irish sentiment upon the Statutes that have been passed for her government. What did Mr. Gladstone himself say in reference to that point? Speaking in the House of Commons on the 8th April, 1886, he said -
Scotland, wisely recognised by England, has been allowed and encouraged in this House to make her own laws as freely and as effectually as if she had a representation six times as strong. The consequence is that the mainspring of law in England is felt to be English, the main-spring of law in Scotland is felt by the people to be Scotch, but the main-spring of law in Ireland is not felt by the Irish people to be Irish. I am bound to say - truth extorts from me the avowal - that it cannot be felt to be Irish in the same sense as it is English and Scotch.
In endeavouring to use some influence whereby Home Rule may be extended to Ireland, we are simply showing reasons why Ireland as well as England and Scotland should have her mind, her aspirations, and her sentiments reflected in the laws that govern her. Does not every country endeavour to do that? The country that fails to express in its laws the sentiments of its people fails ultimately in the great end of all government, namely, the promotion of progress, the liberty, and the civil life of its citizens. We ask in this motion that civil liberty may be given back to Ireland. Senator Walker used these words -
The Irish would be about the finest people in the world if they could only be taught to be loyal to the ‘British Government. Somehow or other a spirit of disloyalty runs through the land.
The very best .way to make this people loyal is, in my opinion, to give them the right of all free men, all intelligent men, and all right-thinking men, namely, the right to govern their own country. I believe that I am> as loyal a British subject as there is in Australia to-day. But I am only loyal to that which is good and noble in our English customs and systems. I am only loyal to anything that I can honour, and which I feel that I can open my heart and conscience to. But I. am disloyal to everything that is unmistakably bad in the institutions of my own country, and it is that disloyalty which prompts me, in my love for my country, to advocate reforms. That is the feeling with which we ought to credit Irishmen. If an Irishman is disloyal, though, of course, he is not, his disloyalty is simply the reflection of a man - it is his manhood that makes him disloyal. I know that an Irishman is disloyal to all that is bad, but I am absolutely satisfied that he is loyal to everything that is good and noble. I wish to see the day dawn in’ my time when Ireland shall have the Home Rule which her sons now demand. I shall not recount the circumstances under which the Union, of Great Britain and Ireland was effected. Home Rule was taken from Ireland by means which, under our present laws, would have landed all concerned in durance vile. It is because of the unhallowedness of that ghastly transaction that I refuse to turn back the pages of history. I trust that the Senate, by a substantial majority, will carry the motion’, and thus place on record an attempt, at least, to influence a movement which we sincerely believe represents the true sense of patriotic manhood Loth in England and Ireland.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I seconded the amendment, on the broad ground that I do not regard this as a proper subject on which to ask the Senate to give an expression of opinion. I should have been quite well satisfied if the previous question had been moved, and a vote evaded ; because it is not desirable that the Senate should place on record its views on such an issue as that of Home Rule. Our duties are ‘distinctly laid down, and it is not wise for the Senate to unnecessarily meddle with matters of British legislation. As a Parliament, we are in no way concerned with any action that may be taken by the British Government in regard to Home Rule, and I object to be called upon to cast a vote when we may be told subsequently that it was consummate impudence on our part to interfere. Some time ago the question of the employment of Chinese on the Rand was before both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. What has been the effect of the resolution then passed ? The Imperial authorities courteously acknowledged the receipt of the resolution, and that is all that has happened. I dare say that if the Imperial authorities had expressed an opinion we should have been told that that was a matter in which we were not entitled to intermeddle. At that time it was urged that there were strong reasons why Australia should express an opinion. We were reminded of the assistance, whether great or “Small, which Australia had given in the South African war. Here, we were told, was an evidence of the unity of the Empire ; and the claim was set up that, as Australia had taken part in that war, there was some right on the part of the people of the Commonwealth to express their views on a question prt which they had some strong feeling. Our representations, however, had no effect, and I feel quite sure that the motion under discussion, if carried, will be equally futile. This Parliament has no mandate whatever to deal with this matter of British domestic legislation. It is perfectly competent for those who favour Home Rule to organize public meetings, as has been done over .and over again, and there get expressions of opinion from men free from the trammels of legislative duty. The opinions thus expressed might not carry much weight, except as demonstrating the view of certain citizens who happen to reside in Australia, instead of in the old world. But I decline to recognise any right on the part of this Chamber to express an opinion on the question of Home Rule. Senator Mulcahy gave a very interesting, well thought out address, from his standpoint, and I respect the opinion of gentlemen who hold strong views on this question. I have the greatest sympathy with people who desire the fullest measure of local selfgovernment consistent with the integrity of the Empire. I ask honorable senators whether they believe that if such a mea- sure of Home Rule as Mr. Gladstone proposed were granted, the aspirations of those who take part in this movement at home would be satisfied?
– Most decidedly.
.- The objective which has been put forward’ by the principal Home Rule agitators is entire separation.
– Who are those principal agitators?
– Senator Pulsford to-day read an extract from a speech delivered by one of the champions of Home Rule. .
– A speech delivered twenty-five years ago, in 1880.
– What was John Redmond’s or Parnell’s objective?
– Parnell accepted Mr. Gladstone’s Bill.
.- Personally, I should give Ireland the largest possible measure of local self-government, retaining all international powers with the Imperial Parliament. I dare say that If 1 had an opportunity to raise my voice in the House of Commons on this question, 1 should be found prepared to concede a great deal to Ireland, for which country I have much respect and regard. I should, however, not favour the granting of more than a large measure of self-government. For instance, I know that a claim has been made on behalf of the Irish people to have entire control of the Customs - to have the power to make their own Tariff.
– The Irish people have not demanded, and do not desire that power. $
.- I should never grant such a power, because I think it absolutely inconsistent with the relative positions of Great Britain and Ireland.
– Do not refuse the Irish people what they are not asking for.
.- Possibly the claims are more limited now than they were in years gone by, but we have not yet heard, and do not yet know, what is demanded by the people of Ireland’, or by men at the head of the movement, under the term of Home Rule. If all that is desired are full powers of selfgovernment in local affairs, within their own boundaries, I do not see there could be any great harm in granting such a reform. Senator Mulcahy has said that the Irish people want the same sort of Home Rule as we enjoy in Australia.
.- But in Australia, under our form of self-government, we have entire management of the Customs, raising or lowering duties against Great Britain as we like; and we also have control of the Defence Forces. Is it proposed to give Ireland control of the Defence Forces? Would that not be conceding a principle of nationality that cannot be justified, in view of the close connexion of Great Britain and Ireland? We must remember that Australia is 12,000 or 14,000 miles from the old country, and has no representation in the British Parliament, whereas Ireland is within a few hours’ sail of England, and returns a large number of representatives to both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The positions of the two countries are altogether different. If we were to concede to Ireland the same measure of self-government that is enjoyed in Australia, we might possibly be confronted with similar claims by the people of Scotland and of Wales. However, we do not find either Scotland or Wales clamouring for any large measure of selfgovernment under a form of Home Rule. I should like honorable senators to picture to themselves the state of Great Britain with three or four Houses of Parliament, all passing legislation which would possibly conflict when once the local boundaries were passed. The strength and power of the United Kingdom lies in the fact that whenever matters of Imperial moment are at stake there is but one Parliament to speak with, presumably, a united voice. In our own case, we find the powers of the Commonwealth and pf the States carefully mapped out ; and a similar arrangement prevails in Canada. What would be the position, if any one of the States Parliaments could pass effective legislation, interfering with that of the Commonwealth Parliament, which has to deal with questions effecting the whole of the States? The Parliament of each State is supreme within its own boundary, but the moment the border is crossed the Commonwealth Parliament has absolute power, or the right to acquire power as time goes on. Such a system as that is all very well ; but Senator Mulcahy contends that the Irish are a distinct race and people, and that, therefore, they have the right to govern themselves. In advancing that argument, Senator
Mulcahy is on dangerous ground. If the Irish are to be regarded as a distinct race and people, so must the Scotch and the Welsh. They may just as truly be said to be separate nations and separate races. We should then have sovereign powers in four different instances within the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Senator Millen has referred to what has happened in Sweden and Norway. There we were told that they were a united people, but distinct races. But to-day we find that the people of each of those distinct races desire to stand alone, and the fostering of the idea of distinction of race has tended, not to concentration,’ but to disintegration. I could wish that honorable senators, and indeed the people of the old country, would try and realize that what is really wanted is to make the people of the United Kingdom one people and one nation, that they should be fused together ; and that for the future an effort should be made to counteract the idea that they form separate nations, and should therefore be given separate powers which may render them antagonistic one to the other.
– Did not Mr. Gladstone challenge contradiction of the statement that where self-government was refused the tendency was to disintegration of the Empire, and that where it had been granted the tendency was to cement the Empire?
.- He may- pi may not have made, such a speech, but I am not responsible for what Mr. Gladstone said. I am, I think, expressing the views which are held by the leading authorities at the present time, when I say that what is required is a greater measure of fusion of the peoples rather than the adoption of any proposal which will tend to disintegration. What has been the history of Australia? Before Federation one Colony was jealous of another, and we know that such feelings were in the past a hindrance to the! prosperity of Australia. We felt that by the establishment of Federation and a Commonwealth Parliament we should do away with the jealousies of the past, and make Australians one nation and one people. So J say with regard to Great Britain and Ireland, that, in my opinion, the truest friends of both and the most earnest British patriots are the men who will endeavour to, as far as possible, combat the feeling that there is distinct nationhood and distinct rights which should be exercised by the people of the one country as against those of the other. I have not gone into the historical aspect of the question as Senator Mulcahy has done. Credit is due to that honorable senator for the delivery of a most interesting speech, containing a great deal of information which I have no doubt will have put thoughts on this great question into the minds of honorable senators which they would not otherwise have had. While I seconded the amendment moved by Senator Pulsford, and hope to see it passed, honorable senators supporting the motion must not think I am taking up a position of antagonism to, or have any want of ! regard for or sympathy with, the Irish race. No man can study history and’ learn what Ireland has done to assist the United Kingdom in the defence and maintenance of her rights) and of the rights of others, or call to mind the great men in every walk of life whom Ireland has produced, without having the fullest and most profound respect far that country. But I say that it is not good policy to do anything in connexion with this question which will tend to the disintegration of the United Kingdom. I say that the people of Ireland should be given the fullest measure of selfgovernment, compatible with Imperial rights and Imperial sovereignty, and compatible with the welding together of the British nation. I have said that I have no definition of what Senator Dawson means by Home Rule. Even if I had, I would not know what is meant by those who are claiming Home Rule in Ireland. We who are 12,000 or 14,000 miles away from the scene cannot understand as weil, and cannot have as full a knowledge of, the feelings, aspirations, desires, and inten-tions of those men as those on the spot, who have an opportunity of hearing them; of mixing with them, and of knowing exactly what their wishes are. Again, I say, it is better that we in Australia, who, whether Irishmen or Englishmen, desire to live in the utmost amity one with the other, should leave this matter, as Senator Pulsford’s amendment suggests, to be decided by the good sense and justice of the British nation, which in our day will, I believe, never be looked to in vain.
– I do not propose to speak for more than two or three minutes, because I believe it is the wish of the majority of honorable senators, if not the unanimous wish of the Senate, that we should come to a vote on this question to-day. The subject of the motion is certainly a very tempting one on which to make long speeches, and some honorable senators have yielded to the temptation. It should be unnecessary for me to tell those who have noticed the big round ring in the fore part of my name that I intend to vote for the motion. I’ think that any one of my name who is not prepared to support such’ a motion should not continue to retain the name. If it were not for the strong desire on the part of honorable senators to take a. vote on the question, I should probably be disposed to go into history, and, as some honorable senators have done, to give my reasons at some length for supporting the motion. In a long and interesting speech Senator Mulcahy has referred to the earnest and enthusiastic work done and the speeches made in the cause of Home Rule by many great members of the House of Commons and men who have been great in other walks of public life during the last century. Seeing that numerous quotations from recent utterances of authorities on the question have been read in this Chamber and in another place, and knowing that during the last century leading public men in Great Britain, in Ireland, and in other parts of the world, have expressed themselves strongly in favour of the proposal that Ireland should be granted autonomy, it is unnecessary for me to detain the Senate with further references to what has been said so many times. There are just two phases of the question to which I wish to address myself. One was introduced very early in the debate, but I am very pleased to have noticed that it was not re-introduced this afternoon. However, I think it is my duty to refer to it. We know that the first’ loud note of opposition to this motion came from Senator Fraser, and I wish the honorable senator were present this afternoon.
– The honorable senator is very ill.
– I suppose if he were not ill he would be here. It would be far more satisfactory to me to be able to say what I intend to say in the honorable senator’s presence, but I cannot help his absence. I. regret extremely that Senator Fraser, or any other member of the Senate, should have attempted to mix this question up with that of sectarianism. Throughout Senator Fraser’s speech in op position to the motion there was nothing but rampant sectarianism. It is deplorable that in this young country of Australia any public man should bring the element of sectarianism into the discussion of a motion of this kind when all the evidence before him goes to show that it has no relation whatever to such a question. I am very glad indeed that in the speeches made this afternoon for and against the motion this slimy serpent of sectarianism has been allowed to remain where it should have remained all along. As an adherent of the Roman Catholic faith I have always repudiated, as I do now, the suggestion that the question of religion has anything to do with my opinion as to whether Ireland should be granted autonomy or not.
– No -one suggested that it had.
– Luckily this afternoon no such suggestion has been made, but I deeply regret that it should have gone forth to Australians in the pages of Hansard that any member of the Senate should have gone out of his way to say that this was chiefly a religious question, and that it was only because Home Rule meant Rome Rule that certain public men in Australia were supporters of the proposal. So much for that phase of the question. The second phase on which I desire to say a word has just been referred to by Senator Gould. The honorable senator and Senator Pulsford, who has moved the amendment, in speaking in oppo- .sition to the motion, took up the position that no House of Parliament in Australia has any right to interfere in the concerns of the Imperial Parliament. I say that if is altogether too late for the Senate or the Federal Parliament to take up that attitude. We have interfered on former occasions, and we have just the same right to interfere now. After all, I look on this motion as no unwarrantable interference. It is surely no unwarrantable interference for the Parliament of any self-governing portion of the Empire to respectfully lay before the Imperial Parliament at the heart of the Empire an expression of its opinion on the right of people in any other portion of it to govern themselves. That is all we shall do if we pass this motion, as I Hope we will. As we know perfectly well, Australia has already taken a pretty active part in interfering with the concerns of the Imperial Parliament. Although the South African war was a matter which affected the whole of the British Empire, it was the Imperial Government that was primarily responsible for that war. This Commonwealth, following up the action taken by the various States Governments’ before Federation, in despatching, contingents to assist the Empire, sent a Federal contingent to take part in the war, and in that way the Federal Parliament interfered in a most emphatic and practical manner in the important concerns of the Empire. It seems to me that any interference involved in this motion must be very small as compared with that. On another occasion, also, we thought we were justified in interfering in the concerns of the Empire. This Parliament passed a motion addressed to the Imperial Government, and expressing the opinion of the people of Australia on the employment of Chinese in South African mines.
– What answer did they get?
– I do not think it was altogether a snub, as has been said, and the Imperial Parliament did not say thai we had no right to express an opinion on that occasion. I make bold to assert that if the motion be passed - and I am glad to learn that a similar motion was passed in the other House this afternoon by a majority of twelve - it will receive favorable consideration at the hands of the Imperial Parliament. I have no desire to speak at length, tempting as the subject is to me. I could not allow a vote to be taken without expressing my opinion, even in these few words. Had it not been for the deplorable introduction of the sectarian element into the consideration of this question, which is absolutely outside sectarianism, I should not have spoken. I trust, sir, that the motion will be carried.
– As a division is to be taken on the motion, to-day, I should be sorry to record my vote without, in a few sentences, stating the position I take up. I think that we all agree with what Senator O’Keefe has said in respect of the element of sectarianism. My stand-point is exactly the same as his - that the element of sectarianism has nothing to do with this question - and whatever view we may take of the motion or the question itself on its merits, I feel perfectly certain that we shall all eliminate from our consideration any such influence. Although we know that our ex cellent friend, Senator Fraser, who, unfortunately, is absent, owing to a severe illness, is vehement in the expression of his views, still I am sure that he did not intend to rest his opposition to this motion on that ground.
– His whole speech showed that he did.
– I read a little between the lines, and I am perfectly certain that my honorable friend did not intend to rest his objection entirely on that ground. The most vehement advocate, and the most strenuous leader of the Home Rule movement of recent years, Mr. Parnell, was a Protestant. Senator O’Keefe has referred to the conditions which affect his mind. I yield to no one in desiring to see the true genuine aspirations of every portion of the British Dominions for freedom, and for a share in its own self-government, thoroughly satisfied. But I do not agree with my honorable friend, when he uses the term autonomy to describe that species of Home Rule, which, in his judgment this motion contemplates. .We have had it disclaimed by several honorable senators. Autonomy means absolute self-government. Senator Mulcahy expresses the view that the Home Rule desired is not autonomy in the sense of complete self-government, but something short of that, such as was indicated by the second Home Rule Bill which Mr. Gladstone introduced a considerable time after the first one was defeated. We must all remember, too, when illustrations are given, in respect of what is meant by Home Rule, from the self-government of the British self-governing Colonies, that our home rule is practically independence. If we were to discuss this matter on. its merits, does any one contend that the same measure of self-government ought to be granted to any portion of the United Kingdom? The home rule that we possess is of such a character that, as Senator Gould has pointed out, we have absolute control of every department, and all the equipment of government. We are a self governing nation in the widest, broadest, and deepest sense of the term, and one ground on which I feel that wa ought to discourage, and, if necessary, to vote against, motions of this character, is that, regarding ourselves as possessing a self-government which amounts practically to independence, we should resent any interference with the exercise of that power by our own Parliament. Ever since the Commonwealth has been established, I have regarded Australia as a nation. I am a most devoted adherent to and advocate of Australian nationality, and upon all occasions I shall resent any attempt - under cover of the expression of an opinion, or of any other form of dictation, however courteous - on the pant of the Imperial Parliament to interfere with or to direct the Commonwealth Parliament as to how it should discharge its duties. I deny its competency to interfere with us, just as I deny the competency of this Parliament to interfere, even by a motion of this description, with the discretion, the judgment, and the sense of justice of the Imperial Parliament and the people who are behind it. We know quite well that measures of Home Rule involve keen issues1, raising, as they have certainly raised, party passions to a degree of which, perhaps, we have no conception in this country. On the one hand, we have no right to make suggestions as to how the Imperial Parliament should deal With the government or administration of any portion of the British Isles ; and, on the other hand, it would be a great mistake on our part, by means of a motion, even of this description, to add fuel to the flames of party strife when, as we know quite well, a general election is imminent in Great Britain and Ireland.
– That has nothing at all to do with the motion.
– I feel that it has everything to do with the motion.
– There is absolutely no object in that regard.
– I am certain that my honorable friend has no intention of that sort. But I ask him what the object is?
– Merely to express an opinion.
– I am perfectly certain that my honorable friend merely desires that this Parliament should express the opinion which he has embodied in the motion. If it went forth merely as a resolution of the Senate, it would amount to nothing ; but it is to be communicated to the British Parliament, to the politicians who will go before their constituents, possibly next year.
– My honorable friend, naturally and rightly, expects that it will have an influence with both the Imperial Parliament and the constituencies. On the one hand, we are seeking to influence a Parliament which is perfectly competent, as the motion itself says, to deal with the subject; and, on .the other hand, be adding fuel to the flames of partystrife in the consideration of this issue, when it comes before the electors next year. I therefore decline to express any opinion on the merits of the question. We, as a Parliament, have enough to do to govern our own great country. We have enough to do in determining how its different component parts - differing, as they do, in climate, production, and other , respects - shall be dealt with. And I positively decline to express anopinion as to whether Home Rule for Ireland, which does not concern us here in the slightest degree, should or should not be granted by the Imperial Parliament. My honorable friends put it that we are entitled to speak. Of course, we are entitled to discuss any question in this Parliament ; but is it wise to enter upon a discussion of this character .in respect of matters which are in the scope and jurisdiction of other Parliaments and other people? Is it wise for us to set a precedent which, perhaps, the Imperial Parliament .may follow in seeking to interfere with our doings ? How should we treat a resolution, come to after a lengthy debate in the Imperial Parliament, with regard to black labour? Or how should we treat a debate there as to the sugar bounty ? It would be probably courteous, but we should resent it all the same. I ask honorable senators to place themselves in the position of the authorities, and of the members of Parliament in the United Kingdom, when they receive such a communication as is embodied in this motion. To my mind, it is foolish, and certainly it will be futile. Reference was made by Senator O’ Keefe to the position in respect of the South African war. That was no interference with the control of the British Parliament over the immediate defence of “those committed to its care. That was an offer of material assistance, which was given by Australia from patriotic motives, but without any interference in the policy which led to the war.
– But the Imperial Parliament alone had the right to say whether there should be war or not.
– The Imperial Parliament said: that there should be war, and we acquiesced in its action, and sent material assistance with a view to carry out the war.
– We expressed our opinion emphatically by sending contingents.
– But we did not interfere in any way to express our opinion that the Imperial Government were doing a wrong thing.
– Did not Tasmania and New South Wales ask the Imperial authorities not to conclude peace with the Boers unless they unconditionally surrendered? Was not that dictating Imperial policy?
– I am not saying for a moment that a course of action such as that has not been taken. Honorable senators have referred to what was done in the case of the importation of Chinese into the Rand. We know how that was received. It was received with courtesy, but rejected, and probably if it were repeated often enough it might be rejected without quite the same degree of courtesy as on the former occasion. But we must remember that it is not those high in authority who may deal with this motion. It may be dealt with by strong anti-Home Rulers on the platform during the coming election, and certainly they will not be so careful as to the language they employ in criticising our interference as would be the Colonial Office, or the Imperial Government, or perhaps the Imperial Parliament itself. I ask honorable senators to consider all these things before committing themselves to one more instance - Senator Smith has referredto one - of our desire practically to exercise a kind of patronizing control over the doings of the Imperial Parliament. I take the words which Senator Dawson has put into his motion to heart and in respect of Ireland. They appeal to my sympathy. I belong to a different portion of the British Isles. I belong to Scotland, which has no greater degree of freedom than Kas Ireland. She has fought for her freedom in the past, but is perfectly content with the existing state ofthings, and, so far as I know, has no desire to have even the limited powers of Home Rule favoured by some of the supporters of this motion. At the same time, no one can complain of the desire of the Irish people to secure local selfgovernment, or any other form of accession to the freedom to control their own affairs which they already enjoy. No one can. complain of that for a moment. That, however, is an issue between their people and the Imperial Parliament itself. The people of England, Ireland, and Scotland form one nation, just as the component parts of this Commonwealth of Australia now constitute one nation. And I take to heart the words of the motion - “ In accordance with the most treasured traditions of British government and British justice.” I say that I have complete confidence in those treasured traditions of British government and British justice, and I am perfectly willing - it is my duty, in fact, and it is the duty of this Parliament, if I may say so with great submission - to trust to those traditions. I have confidence that Home Rule will be granted to Ireland if it is considered that Home Rule is consistent with those traditions ; but it will be given without our interference. For those reasons, and without expressing any opinion upon the merits or demerits of Home Rule itself, I shall be found recording my vote against this motion.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put.. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative
Question - That the motion be agreed to -put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the motion for the second reading of this Bill be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, 2nd November.
In moving the postponement of this Order of the Day, perhaps I may be allowed to thank the leader of the Senate for his courtesy in agreeing to give me a portion of Government time if necessary on the day that I have named, to deal with what is really a semi-public Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 3211), on motion by Senator Dobson -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, the Defence Act 1903 should be amended so as to provide for a system of Compulsory Military Drill, including rifle practice, of all youths in the Commonwealth between the ages of twelve and eighteen years, and also for the universal military training of all male persons of nineteen years of age for a period of five years thereafter, on such other terms as may be deemed necessary so as to secure the services of a Citizen Army, efficiently trained, in times of emergency.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).This is no doubt a very important motion. I do not think there can be any question of greater importance to a country than its defence. But while agreeing with Senator Dobson as to the necessity of doing something tangible in the way of training our people for defensive purposes, I am not quite sure that he has hit upon just the right scheme. I take it that his intention is that military drill shall be a portion of the common school curriculum. I am not sure that it is desirable that military drill in the commonly accepted sense of the term should be introduced in our schools. In the first place, what is the purpose of this military drill ? Is it to teach boys how to turn to the right or the left, to form fours, and stand erect, or, perhaps, the “ goose step “ ? So far as I understand the matter, that is the common idea of military” drill. What we ought to do with boys of twelve who are at school, is to ground them in education, so as to make them as fit as possible to play their part in life, while cultivating, so far as we can in their school time, their physical powers. In my opinion, the ordinary rough and tumble sports of the play-ground do much more to develop boys physically than any military drill we could establish.
– I have seen very few boys who do not. In different parts of Australia I have had opportunity to see boys drill at various schools, and I must say that on many occasions I have felt sorry for them. There they were, standing stiff in one position, with the school-master as drill sergeant, the latter issuing his orders, as the boys cast longing glances in the direction of the play-ground, where others were engaged enjoying ordinary sports with all the exuberance of youth. Surely those boys would be much better engaged in sports, than stuck against a wall in order to learn a number of socalled military evolutions. What we want in our Defence Force is not so much drill as physique. We desire to make the people physically strong and healthy ; and to do that we must begin at the very beginning. Every young man and young woman should be well fed, well clothed, and comfortably housed; because if we have lusty men and women, the drill may come afterwards. I suppose that Senator Dobson, being a close military student, has read accounts of all the principal campaigns in ancient and modern times. If he has, he must have been compelled to come to one conclusion, namely, that it is not so much drill that tells in a, war as endurance - the power to march long distances, and bear hunger, thirst, and all the fatigues of the flesh. Military drill is very good in its place, although the English form of it is speedily becoming obsolete, as we found to our cost in the South African war. Then as to shooting, I am not sure it would be wise to trust a number of lads with rifles. We can scarcely look at a newspaper without seeing an account of one boy shooting another with a pea rifle.
-Col. Gould. - That is, perhaps, because the boys do not know how to use rifles.
– A large number of boys know very much better how to shoot than do men. The fact is, that boys become too familiar with the weapon, and grow careless.
– Can the honorable senator point to any accident of the kind in the Cadet Force?
– I cannot say that there are accidents in the Cadet Force, but I do know that accidents of the kind occur all over the country. I am bound! to come to the conclusion that these occurrences are not the result of ignorance, because if boys were altogether unacquainted with the weapons they would not be allowed to use them. The lads become, as I say, too familiar with the pea-rifle, or whatever it is called, and their parents or guardians permit them to use it without restraint, with the results I have described. This has become so much of a scandal in Queensland that the State Government have seriously thought of imposing a special tax on these small rifles.
– Is that not in order to raise revenue?
– That may be so j but another object is to put down the use of these weapons. My objection to the first part of the motion is that” these boys would be better engaged in the ordinary sports of the playground, so far as their physical education is concerned. If military drill is made a prominent portion of the school routine, if’ will have the effect of diverting the attention of the pupils from their ordinary education, and that in itself would be most serious. However important defence may be to a country, education is of much more value. After all, a country is engaged in a war only once or twice in a century, whereas the people have to earn their living every day of every year of the century. The second portion “of the motion means that for some portion of a youth’s life, from the age of nineteen to twenty-four, he would be engaged exclusively in military training for a certain portion of each y_ear.
– In Switzerland the training is for about forty-five clays the first year, but very few days in each succeeding year.
– It is futile to compare Switzerland with Australia.
– No two countries show greater antithesis than do Switzerland and Australia.
– Switzerland is a very compact country, and the people live in a very limited area, and probably it is possible there to spare the young men for a certain period every year. Then Switzerland is situated in the very heart of an armed camp. No doubt the independence of Switzerland has been guaranteed by several of the great powers, but that guarantee may be torn up at any moment. The people live in constant fear of invasion, and they are compelled, by the very circumstances of their case, to make some serious sacrifice for the purpose of defence. In Australia the situation is altogether different. We are _ 4,000,000 of people spread over nearly 4,000,000 square miles, and it would be very inconvenient for a large number of our young men, who live in the bush districts, to set apart any portion of the year for compulsory military drill.
– They would be required to drill only on Saturdays and holidays.
– It is not always convenient to attend the drill in the country, though it might be all right in the town. T should like to see a larger number of our young men take an interest in shooting and defence operations generally. But there is a great difference between voluntary service and compulsory service. If a man is compelled to serve, the country must pay at least some share of the cost of his service. Considering the number of young men in Australia between the “ages of nineteen and twenty-four the cost of carrying out a policy of the kind proposed would probably be so great as to impose a serious burden on the taxpayer.
Even if this motion were passed as an Act of Parliament, I do not believe it would be possible to carry it into effect on the lines suggested. No doubt we are suffering at present from a kind of defence mania. We have read of the war between Russia and Japan, and we are afraid that it may be our turn before long to be attacked by some foreign power.
– We have scared ourselves into hysterics.
– As the honorable senator says, we have scared ourselves into a silly, hysterical frame of mind. I have no .doubt that, in time, this, mania will evaporate - -that it is merely ephemeral. We ought not to rush the Commonwealth into a scheme which may be found not only expensive and cumbersome, but ultimately unnecessary. We cannot lose much by delaying to take action in a matter of this kind ; because, so far as I can see, there is little danger of Australia being attacked by any outside power within the next fifty years. Australia, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult countries in the world to attack. Notwithstanding that fact, we ought not to leave everything to chance, but ought to be prepared.
– Therefore our youths ought to be trained, so that they may take their part when necessary.
– No doubt we ought to be prepared to defend our country, but something far short of the scheme advocated by Senator Dobson would meet the situation. Suppose we were to encourage the Volunteer Forces and rifle clubs a little more than we do, would not they provide a sufficient home defence? If we enter upon a scheme of this character, we shall find that it will land us in an enormous expenditure. That cannot be avoided. In the first place we shall have to introduce drill into every school of the Commonwealth, and in order to do that our schoolmasters must all be taught drill.
– Some of them have been drilled already, I presume.
– Very probably Drill instructors will have to be engaged and paid for this purpose. As I have already pointed out, when we come to deal with young men from nineteen to twentyfour years of age, they are asked by this motion to give up a certain portion of their time each year for five years. We must pay them for that. If we do not pay them an equivalent or their wages during the time they are employed in compulsory drill, we must at least pay their expenses, and that will amount to a very large sum indeed, a sum so large that, in existing circumstances, I am- afraid the Commonwealth would be unable and unwilling to stand it. We may very well be contented with encouraging our Volunteer. Forces and our rifle clubs, as well as the cadet corps already in existence, without going to the extreme suggested by this motion. This is practically conscription. If the people of Great Britain, who ‘are separated from that armed camp, Europe, by a narrow strip of sea, can live without conscription, I do not see why we should -trouble ourselves . to adopt such a system. I would like to know if Senator Dobson has considered this aspect of the question : whether it is wise that we should interfere with our industrial system? Let honorable senators consider the number of young men who would be drawn away from their ordinary avocations every year under this proposal. The thing would go on continuously, and every year the ordinary operations of trade and industry in the Commonwealth would be dislocated, as the young men employed would be compelled to hurry away to engage in drill. I hope I am as sensible as are other honorable senators of the necessity for defence, but I really do not think the case is so urgent as to require that we should go to extremes of this character. As the motion is framed, I am unable to vote for it, for the reasons I have given, and in the interests of our defence itself, as well as in the interests of economy, I hope it will not be adopted.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 18th October (vide page 3705), on motion by Senator Keating -
That the Senate .accepts the agreement, made and entered into on the 25th day of April, 1905, between the Postmaster-General, in and for the Commonwealth, of the first part; the Orient Steam Navigation Company Limited, of the second part; and the Law, Guarantee, and Trust Society, of the third part, for the carriage of mails between Naples and Adelaide, anr] other ports; but is of the opinion that, without varying the original contract with the Commonwealth Government, arrangements should be made by which, during the continuance -of its present contract with the Queensland Government, the company, in consideration of the payment of a sum of 3s. 8d. per mile by the Commonwealth, shall agree to carry postal matter between the ports of Sydney and Brisbane, and shall reduce the payment made by the Queensland Government by a corresponding amount, and also that arrangements shall hi. made for making a similar provision in the case of Tasmania.
– I share in the general dissatisfaction which has been expressed here with regard to this mail contract. I make that statement quits frankly, although I am well aware that the contract was entered into by the late Government. At the same time, I recognise that the late Postmaster-General .was very considerably hampered in carrying on the negotiations. He found himself confronted with a position of very great difficulty, and no doubt he made every possible effort to secure the best terms he could for the Commonwealth. But, while I use the word “ dissatisfaction “ with regard to the contract, I am compelled to use a very much stronger term with regard to the Orient Steam Navigation Company. The information made public regarding the negotiations with the company was quite sufficient to raise in the mind of any ordinary man absolute disgust with their methods and tactics. I cannot forget that they threatened - and I believe that in one case they carried out their threat - to omit Adelaide as a port of call. I also know that they resorted to such unworthy tactics as to refuse to give information, not only to the Commonwealth, but to the people of South Australia, as to the time when their boats would leave. I remember an incident of a very ugly aspect indeed which occurred at Marseilles. I do not wish to blame the company where blame is not thoroughly deserved, as I think it has been in. many other cases. But that incident has never been quite cleared up to mv satisfaction. I believe that the impression 1 -Vhich it made upon the minds of us all was that the company had again been carrying out the policy which they had made very evident in the waters near Australia. If the Government of the day had intimated clearly that they would have nothing to do with the company any longer, I should have welcomed the intimation most heartily. Feeling, as I do, that it is the proper thing to give immediate notice to the company, I move -
That the following words be added - “ And the Senate w further of the opinion that immediately upon the ratification of the contract, notice should be given to the company of the intention of the Commonwealth to terminate such contract, and that tenders should be immediately invited for a service commencing on the ist day of February, 1908.”
The present contract will expire on the 31st January, 1908, and immediately it is1 ratified we should say to. the company, “ We intend to have nothing more to do with you;” or, “Under no circumstances are we going to induce you to believe that the contract will be renewed;” or, “We have determined to take every possible step to give other shipping companies an opportunity for carrying on this service.” We ought to add these words to the motion, in order that we may unmistakably convey to the Orient Steam Navigation Company what I believe is the view of a majority in the Senate - that they treated us badly, that they do not deserve any further consideration, and that, if possible, we shall give them no further consideration. A great many of the difficulties which confronted the late Government in .arranging the present contract arose from the fact that the time at their disposal was very short. It is practically a truism to say that if we give two years’ notice to companies who may desire to tender for the carriage of our mails, we shall have every reason to expect a better competition, a better price from our point of view, and a better service.
– We had to give the contractors two years’ notice before, and when we called for tenders we got no response.
– While certain steps were taken by a preceding Government, the negotiations had to be, to a cer-. tain extent, interrupted, and the late Government had to take up work which had been begun by their predecessors. There was not a continuity of effort to obtain tenders. Seeing that nearly two years’ notice was given on that occasion, it is eminently desirable that, immediately the present contract is ratified, we should call for fresh tenders. Obviously, there is not a day to be lost. Otherwise we shall be in just as bad a position as we were in before, and that is a contingency which I believe we all wish to avoid. That is the reason why I propose the second part of my amendment.
– Would not the best way of giving notice be to refuse to ratify this contract?
– Time is very much” of the essence of the notice. The best course is to give the notice as soon as possible, and that is why I use the word immediately. I do not think, especially after what we heard this afternoon, that it is necessary for me to enlarge upon the desirability of adding these words to the motion, because we all heard Senator Pearce - shall I say in a threatening tone - ask the Ministry if they would be prepared to do just what my amendment intimates.
– Almost as soon as the Ministry was formed it was decided to give notice to terminate the contract.
– Nothing could please me better than that announcement, because I believe we are all animated by a desire to do the best we can for the Commonwealth. This question has to be considered irrespective of any Ministry. Senator Playford will recognise that time is pressing, and that if the Government wish to secure, as I aim sure they do, the benefit of a good contract to Australia, no time can be lost. I must also recognise the fact that in Senator Pearce’ s question this afternoon there was nothing suggestive of premeditation or an agreement that it should be asked. Apart from the method in which it was asked, and the circumstances by which it was surrounded, I was very glad indeed to hear the answer. It is true that my amendment was in print at the time, but I do not suppose that that fact had anything to do with the question. The motion before the Senate is divided into two parts. The first part represents merely ,a desire to ratify the arrangement which, unfortunately, was entered into by the last Government. The second part is an addition by the present Government, and, in my opinion, it contains an absolutely false consideration, It says that the Senate is of the opinion that, without varying the original contract with the Commonwealth Government, arrangements should be made by which, during the continuance of its present contract with the Queensland Government, the company, in consideration of the payment of a sum of 3s. Sd. per mile by the Commonwealth, shall agree to carry postal matter between the ports of Sydney and Brisbane.
That, as we all know, is not the consideration. On its face it is a false consideration. If we offered to the company 3s. 8d. a mile to carry our postal matter between Sydney and Brisbane, the offer would be promptly refused. It is quite certain that the company are not going to carry postal matter between those ports simply because they get, if they do get, 3s. 8d. per mile. We all know that they are going to carry the postal matter because they are to be paid a large sum by the Queensland Government. It is a great pity that the motion, is submitted in this form. The concluding words of the second part of the motion are - and also that arrangements shall be made for making a similar provision in the case of Tasmania.
– So much per mile !
– If it is going to be a similar provision- -
– To carry the mails.
– Then the boats must run to Hobart or Launceston. We do not intend that they shall run to either of those two ports. What is intended to be accomplished is that on every outward trip the boats, instead of stopping at Sydney, shall go on to Brisbane. But we all know that there is not going to be any similar provision in the case of Tasmania, and that the boats will not run to Hobart or Launceston. I shall not vote for that portion of the motion.
– A similar provision with regard to the mileage.
– It is a false hypocritical statement in regard to the mileage and the payment. The assumption is that the Commonwealth is going to pay a little under £5,000 to Queensland, and I believe a sum of £2,000 to Tasmania. I ask what these sums are going to be compensation for? Upon what estimate are they based? I ask Senator Playford if his estimate of the cost of carrying .mail-matter between Sydney and Brisbane is .£5,000. or if his estimate of the cost of carrying mail-matter between Melbourne and Tasmania is £2,600, or whether it is not a fact that those sums have no relation to the cost of carrying the mails ? That- being so, is it not hypocrisy on the face of it?
– If it is hypocrisy in the case of Queensland it is hypocrisy in the case of Tasmania.
– I am, glad to have the admission from the Minister that, this Government is not going to be partial in its hypocrisy, and that it recognises the desirableness of uniformity when humbugging the people.
– There is no humbug about it; we are paying a similar amount per mile in each case.
– It is made clear that the sum to be paid has no relation to the services rendered. I presume that I am correct in saying that the amount to be paid in the case of Tasmania is about £2, 600. What relation does that sum bear to the actual estimated cost of carrying mail-matter between Melbourne and Tasmania.
– We make no pretention that it does bear any relation.
– I know why the latter part of the motion was added. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it is an attempt to bribe and corrupt members from Tasmania and Queensland in both Chambers of this Legislature.
– It is a sop.
– It is absolutely a sop, and nothing will induce me to vote for it.
– It was effective.
– It is not effective, so far as T am concerned. If this motion had been put before us containing the first part only, I should have said, as I say now, that the arrangement made was very unsatisfactory. But I should have had to vote for it. Now, however, since the second part of the motion has been added, which represents an attempt to bribe members from Tasmania and Queensland, nothing will induce me to vote for it. After my amendment is disposed of I shall leave the chamber. I shall take no part whatever in assenting to an obvious, but clumsy, attempt to bribe members from two States. If I could reconcile myself to put the whole of Australia to very great inconvenience, and to punish” persons who are in no way guilty in regard to this arrangement, I should certainly vote against the whole motion. But I do not consider myself justified in adopting that attitude. I think I am bound, however, to enter my protest against such a provision as we find included in the motion. That is my attitude regarding the whole matter. I am very glad to find that, so far as I know, the Ministry intends to support my amendment ; and seeing that I have satisfied myself in entering my protest against the arrangement, and especially in criticising the latter part of the motion, I do not intend to pursue the question any further. I hope that the carrying of my amendment will enable the Government to have an opportunity, at any rate, to obtain a better service than we have by depending upon the Orient Steam Navigation Company. I have in the amendment, and I think rightly, only suggested to the Executive what should be done. Its duty is to frame the conditions of the tenders. But I should like to make this suggestion - and it is merely a suggestion - that we put to the test the question with regard to the employment of black labour or white labour on these mail boats. It has been stated that Mr. Anderson, the manager of the Orient Steam Navigation Company., said that the employment of white labour did not add to the cost. But I think that honorable senators opposite would be extremely reluctant to take the word of Mr. Anderson of the Orient Steam Navigation Company on anything.
– Oh, no.
– I admit that I should be.
– I have no hesitation in saying that much., but I will modify the statement to suit Senator Guthrie’s more sensitive temperament. If he were engaged in a business controversy with the manager of th’e Orient Steam Navigation Company, he would be very conscious of the fact that he would have to be perpetually on his guard, and extremely careful about accepting as ‘ absolutely true the statements made in the course of any negotiations. Seeing that even Senator Guthrie would admit that his attitude towards Mr. Anderson would have to be of the nature I have described, it is singular that honorable senators opposite, with the greatest eagerness, and without the slightest hesitation, accept Mr. Anderson’s dictum that the cost of running the mail service with white labour would not be more expensive than that of running it with black labour; or. to put it in other words, that this contract would not have been obtained on cheaper terms if the em’ployment of black labour had been permissible. As honorable senators opposite accept that dictum, I would ask them to assent to alternative tenders being called for. I am perfectly willing to put this matter to the test. I do not suppose that my honorable friends, who are so very confident that the cost of carrying our mails is not increased by the white labour section of the Post and Telegraph Act, can have any objection to such a test.
– We do not object to black labour on the ground of cost only, but on higher grounds.
– I admit that, but nevertheless it has been repeatedly urged that the question of white labour has added nothing to the cost.
– We have no power to call for tenders for a black labour service while the Act remains as it is.
– We have no power to accept such a tender, but we have power to call, for tenders on that condition.
– They would be bogus tenders.
– Surely it would be a fair test.
– No, because the tenderers would know that we had no power to accept a tender of that kind. Senator Playford. - That could put in tenders at as low a figure as they liked, because they would know that we could not accept any one of them.
– They would not be able to do that, because they would recognise that there was no certainty that the white labour section would not be repealed. I am looking forward anxiously to the time when it will be repealed. It is even possible in this Parliament to have it repealed.
– Not in this Parliament, certainly.
– Even if it is hopeless in this Parliament, it may be possible in the course of the next.
– We shall be stronger in the next Parliament.
– The honorable, senator may anticipate, with all the pleasure possible, an enormous majority in favour of legislation of that character in the next Parliament. But that is rather beside the question, which is, that it is not possible to accept tenders for a black labour service, but quite possible to call for them. I certainly hope that the matter will be put to the test in that way.
– It would be a piece of humbug.
– Senator Givens is at liberty to use harsh words if he likes, but, nevertheless, I suggest this as a fair test; and if honorable senators opposite do not like it they can put some obstruction in the way of its being brought about. I, at any rate, should like to see it tried. I do not think it will be denied that in consequence of the white labour section in the Post and Telegraph Act we have had to pay more for this service - not because white labour in itself is so much dearer than black, perhaps, but because the section prevents the Imperial Government from opening negotiations for the service. It is quite certain that if the Imperial Government had been unhampered in calling for tenders for the carriage of mails between England and Australia, we should have had our service at a cheaper rate.
– What earthly reason has the honorable senator for saying that?
– Mv grounds are quite earthly ; by no means ethereal or heavenly. They are these: If the Imperial Government had had the opportunity and the power to enter into negotiations for the whole of this sendee, to and fro, it would have been in such a commanding position that undoubtedly it could have secured a ‘cheaper service than the present one.
– It is all “ undoubtedly “ ; it is pure assumption.
– At any rate, it is my opinion.
– The honorable senator is welcome to his opinion ; but that is not a fact.
– It is a business presumption that the Imperial Government could have secured a cheaper service. Perhaps Senator Matheson will also allow me to remind him that the present contract costs £45,000 per annum more than was -paid when we passed the section in the Post and Telegraph Act to which I have referred. The mere reminder, of such a fact ought to be sufficient to satisfy Senator Matheson that, at any rate, there is some plausibility, if nothing else, in what I have said.
– It does not satisfy me.
– So long as that section remains part of our Act, it will be impossible for the British Government to take full control of the negotiations for the service. That being so. no test can be secured, so far as the English Government is concerned. We shall never be able to put side by side a comparison of the cost of carrying our mails with black labour and with white. But we shall be able - and I should welcome it - to call for tenders in’ the form I have suggested ; and I cannot see how, fairly and reasonably, honorable senators opposite who support the section can object to it. Surely they are not afraid of the test. Surely, from their point of view, we run no great risk, and the Government, helped by those who keep them in office, should be bold enough, to take the step.
– Propose that in the amendment.
– - I have already explained that I think that would be- an improper course, especially as Parliament has been invited to ratifv the contract. It would be fit and proper for the Senate to give the expression of opinion contained in my amendment, but, at the same time, it would be rather improper to direct this or any other Ministry to so frame their tenders as to embody in them all the conditions which have been suggested. That is purely an administrative act of the Executive.
– Do you not think that the proposal in the amendment is an administrative matter ?
– No; I think it is essentially part and parcel of the subjectmatter of the motion. I intend the amendment to convey to the Orient Steam Navigation Company a clear indication of the views of the Senate in regard to the present contract. I have no desire to hurt the feelings of the Government, nor can Ministers assume or pretend that there is anything in the amendment they cannot properly accept.
– An intimation was given days ago that the Government intended to give notice to terminate the contract.
– That may be so, but Senator Playford has sat in Opposition. and he knows the value of such intimations. If the Minister thinks my amendment is a good one, what harm can there be in his consenting to insert it ?
– - It is part of the Government’s policy.
– The Minister is quite entitled to his policy ; but I think that my amendment is a proper one, and, if it happens to coincide with the wishes and desires of the Government, why should it not be accepted?
– - There is no necessity for the amendment.
– I think there is a great deal of necessity. It is desirable, not merely (hat the Ministry should express the desirability of securing a fresh tender at the conclusion of the present one, but that the Senate should unanimously express their approval of such a course. If there is any hitch- in the division, it will not be because the majority of honorable senators are not in accord with every word of the amendment.
– The amendment will strengthen the hands of the Ministry.
– The amendment is in agreement with the Ministerial policy, and, as ‘ Senator Smith says, it will strengthen the hands of the Government.
– The late PostmasterGeneral intimated that he would not give a subsidy of more than ,£100,000, and yet we are asked to ratify a contract for £120,000.
– I do not desire to embitter the discussion by quoting in- numerable other instances in which Ministries, after making declarations, which had a binding effect of a purely limited character, have subsequently found it convenient to act otherwise. Under the circumstances, I hope that Senator Playford will accept the amendment, as indicating to the Government that the procedure which they are likely to adopt, meets with the unanimous approval of the Senate. I can imagine no happier position for a Ministry.
– The Government ought to accept the amendment without a division.
– No fear !
– I am astonished at this wholly unexpected attitude of Senator Playford, especially after the intimation which was given this afternoon ; and I shall consider it my duty to press the amendment to a division. So that Senator Playford shall have no opportunity to misrepresent my attitude or misquote me, I say distinctly and deliberately that there was not the faintest suggestion in my mind when I submitted the amendment, nor is there now, of any intended slight on the Government. I submit the amendment because I think it to be in accord with the unanimous feeling of the Senate; and there is the additional reason suggested by Senator Smith, namely, that it will strengthen the hands of the Government.
– We do not want our hands strengthening.
– I think the Government do Want their hands strengthening. Every Government should welcome the opportunity to have a previous ratification of the policy it is intended to pursue. Every honorable senator, irre- spective of party feeling, ought to make it absolutely certain by resolution that a certain course of procedure, which they regard as eminently desirable, shall be carried out.
– I am very glad to hear that the Government intend to notify the Orient Steam Navigation Company that the present contract will not be renewed, and that, as proposed in Senator Clemons’ amendment, it is intended to show that even a shipping combine may not continue to dictate to a Continent as in the past. I agree with Senator Clemons that on the next occasion alternative tenders should be called for ; but the alternative tenders I should favour would not be as to whether white labour or coloured labour should be employed, but as to whether the contract should be for mails pure and simple or be a mail-cum-commercial contract. I hope a special effort will be made by the Commonwealth Government to so arrange the conditions that some Australian shipping; companies may have an opportunity to tender. There are in Australia and New Zealand many shipping companies which have largely extended their fleets by the addition of some most excellent fast vessels.
– It is said there is also a combine amongst the Australian shipping companies.
– Of two evils choose the lesser. I feel sure that in Australia there is sufficient enterprise to tender for mails, carried in fast vessels manned by white British subjects.
– By Australians.
– I do not say Australians, but white British subjects. And there are, I believe, fastvessels in Australian waters which could be utilised for this service, and in time of war sent out as armoured cruisers. In that way the expense could be divided between the Defence Department and the Post and Telegraph Department. It has been suggested that we should vote against the ratification of the present contract; but I cannot support that view.
-Is it a good contract or a bad contract?
– It is a bad contract.
– Then vote against it.
– I shall not vote against the ratification of the present contract, because, in my opinion, that would only lead to a worse state of affairs. When the previous Government came into office, there was verylittle time to lose in arranging this contract. The commercial and banking community, and a certain section of the press, went into hysterics, and declared that Australia was being ruined. Deputations frantically waited on the Postmaster-General, Mr. Sydney Smith, and implored him to pay £1 50,000 per annum for the mail service.
– They would have pressed him to pay a quarter of a million.
- Mr. Sydney Smith deserves credit for holding out until he was able to save the Commonwealth £30,000 per annum, in spite of the storm of protest and abuse from certain quarters. In fact, I believe that the first sum demanded by the OrientSteam Navigation Company was £170,000, and, although, in my opinion, £120,000 is far too much, the time was so short, and there was such a fear that our mail arrangements would be dislocated, that it was necessary to come to some terms. The contract cannot be determined until two years after 1st January next, and if we now bestir ourselves we can so arrange as to be independent of the Orient SteamNavigation Company, which has treated the Commonwealth in a most shameful manner.
– Question !
– There is no question that the Commonwealth was placed in a most humiliating position, the whole continent being dictated to by a shipping combine.
– The honorable senator has not proved that there is a combine.
– That statement has been reiterated by Senator Gray during the course of every speech on this motion.
– No one has yet proved that there is a combine.
– I do not know what special reasons Senator Gray has for making that statement, because it is a fact that the shipping companies have combined, and that they regulate the running of the ships, freights, and contracts.
– There is no more regulation than in anv other business concern.
– The consequence was that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company arranged for a renewal of a contract with the
British Government. When the tenders were called for by the Commonwealth, I casually said to a very prominent business man in Australia, whose name I shall not mention, that I hoped there would be some good offers, and the reply he gave was that I need not trouble my head, because there would be only one tender, and that from the Orient Steam Navigation Company - that the other shipping companies dare not tender. Senator Pulsford, when: speaking last night, tried to buttress his case by saying that there were comparatively few British ships fast enough to compete for this service. That, to my mind, enormously strengthened the allegation that there is a combine, because, under the circumstances, it is much easier to make an agreement under which it is possible, practically, to dictate to Australia what shall be paid for the carriage of the mails. Australia has been made the sport of this shipping combine - has been made the subject of a gigantic squeeze. The first demand of the Orient Steam Navigation Company was, as I say, for .£170,000, or considerable more than double the previous subsidy of £72,000, and more than double the sum paid to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for a very much quicker service. The only possible threat that Australia was able to hold out was that we would resort to poundage rates if the demands were absolutely extortionate. Then they came down to ,£150,000. They published a lot of alleged facts with regard to the losses they were making.
– Why say “alleged”?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Because I do not believe them. When Mr. Sydney’ Smith held out they came down to £120,000. Previously we were paying them ,£72,000, and as I have said, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company are being paid about that sum at the present time for a quicker service with superior boats. The cost of the service at poundage rates would have run to £10,000 a year, and if the mails were carried in bulk under the Berne Convention, the cost would be .£15,000 a year. That being so, we are paying ,£110,000 a year extra to secure a little more regularity and celerity under the mail contract. As Senator Clemons has pointed out, the company in their negotiations resorted to all kinds of threats. They first tried to intimidate South Australia by saying that their boats would not call at Adelaide. Then they stated that in the off-season they would run their ships only once a month. I presume they proposed to lay up half of their fleet, so that it might not be earning anything at all, in order to spite Australia.
– It is beautiful to hear these theories propounded.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Senator Gray, who is the champion apologist for the shipping combine that has endeavoured to humiliate Australia, will have his opportunity to speak on the question, and it is therefore unnecessary for the honorable senator to be continually interrupting me.
– The honorable senator is libelling the company.
– I have a right to say what I please in this Chamber, and I shall not take instructions from Senator Gray, or from any one else, as to the remarks I shall make. The only possible excuse which the .company could have for demanding an increased subsidy lies in the conditions other than those connected with a purely mail service imposed on them under the contract. We said that they must have a certain, space for cold storage, and matters of that kind. That may have involved increased expense to the company to meet which an increase in the subsidy might have been necessary. 1 I think there was some correspondence to the effect that the conditions advertised were so stringent, and the penalties proposed so great, that an increased subsidy was necessary on that account.
– The contract was not made on those conditions. They were ignored eventually.
– I believe the conditions were made less stringent. We made an initial mistake in mixing up the commercial service with the mail service.
– It was open, to the tenderers to tender without any conditions other than the white labour condition.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is so. Senator Pulsford, and, I think, Senator Givens, stated that Western Australia receives the chief benefit from this mail contract. That is incorrect. Western Australia gains no greater benefit than any of the other States, and she has to pay a per capita contribution to the cost of the service in the same way as the other States.
There appears, to be equality between the States, so far as the purely mail service is concerned. But when we come to consider the commercial aspect of the service involved in the conditions requiring cold storage and accommodation for cargo, Western Australia is not so well placed. It is well known that that State does not export anything but timber and gold. As the timber is exported in sailing ships, it is clear that Western Australia receives no benefit whatever from the increased subsidy paid as the result of the commercial conditions of the contract. In this respect Western Australia is worse off under this contract than is any other State in the Commonwealth. We should call for tenders for a mail service only, running between Adelaide and Naples, with the right given to the companies tendering, if they care to avail themselves of it, to run their boats round to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. All that we should stipulate and pay for is a purely mail service. That is the attitude which is always adopted by the Imperial Government. It was stated v one of the speakers that when the question of cold storage was mentioned in connexion with the contract between the Imperial Government and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the Imperial Government said they would make a contract purely and simply for a mail service. We should call for tenders for a mail service, and for alternative tenders for a mail and commercial service combined, when we could learn the extra amount required to be paid for imposing commercial conditions. Senator Clemons expressed the hope that for the next contract alternative tenders would be called for a mail service conducted with white crews and for a service conducted with coloured crews. Australia has suffered a great deal in consequence of the statements made as to the object of the Federal Parliament in insisting on the condition requiring that ships under the contract should be manned with white crews. The attitude of Australia in this matter has been misrepresented to the people of the world, and she has been defamed by certain persons with the object of securing a party triumph over their political opponents. The statement has been made that a certain party in the Federal Parliament desires not only that there shall be a White Australia, but that the coloured peoples of the world shall not be allowed on the high seas. No party in the Federal Parliament has ever said or thought such, a thing. Senator Dobson has told us that the general opinion in England is that we advocate not only a White Australia, but a White Ocean policy. We have been told that we have adopted a dog-in-the-manger policy in saying that we shall not allow coloured people to come to this huge, continent. I do not suppose that one per cent, of the people of Australia would’ be so recreant’ to its best interests as to consent to allow coloured people to come here. We are, however, told that the White Ocean policy is but a part of the White Australia policy. I have never subscribed to that doctrine. As I understand the White Australia policy, it is that, for national, racial, and industrial reasons, we say - and we have crystallized our decision in an Act of Parliament - that for all time people of the coloured races shall not be allowed to reside in Australia. This question of white crews on ‘vessels subsidized bv the Commonwealth has with me no necessary relation to that policy. Is have always supported the proposal chiefly for reasons of defence..
– Is it not as necessary that we should have our ships manned by white men as that we should have our land industries carried on bv them ?
– I clearly defined my attitude in this connexion during the first discussion that ever took place in this Parliament on the subject. On the 12th June, 1901, when we were discussing the Post and Telegraph Bill, speaking of coloured crews, I said : -
I look at this matter more on patriotic grounds. We are told that the British Navy is the bulwark of our liberties ; that it is our safeguard against foreign attacks, and that we must rely on our sailors for the continuity and the safety of our Empire. And the very first thing they will tell you in case of attack is that, with the rapid creation of ironclads and battle-ships, we must draw on the mercantile marine for our sailors. If our sailors are to be lascars, it is perfectly plain that we cannot man our men-of-war except with coloured Asiatics. Therefore, the very strength of the British Navy is sapped by this intrusion of coloured people.
That, in my opinion, is the dominating factor which induced the Federal Parliament to insist on white crews being employed on our mail vessels.
– Is that the dominating factor with the party with whom the honorable senator generally votes?
– It is the dominating factor with me. The basic principle of my action in the matter is that of protection and defence. With this ever-increasing intrusion of coloured non-fighting races in our mercantile marine, and the practical destruction of the British Jack Tar-
– What nonsense !
– I say that the number of British sailors is decreasing, whilst the number of those required in the Navy is increasing, and the policy of displacing British sailors with coloured crews strikes at the maritime supremacy of Great Britain. I have not the temerity to make such a statement on my own account. I am fortified in the view I hold by the opinions expressed by some of the ablest and most patriotic men in Great Britain, who can claim to have an intimate knowledge of the subject, such as Admiral BowdenSmith, Admiral Hopkins, the members of the Navy League, Lord Brassey, and other eminent authorities. These have all pointed to the danger threatening Great Britain in her naval policy. If it had not been for the defence aspect of the question, the section of the Post and Telegraph Act to which so much exception has been taken would not have been carried by the Federal Parliament. Those who have been our most virulent critics with regard to the White Ocean policy, as it is unfairly called, have altogether overlooked the aspect of defence. Their misrepresentations have undoubtedly injured Australia. They have held up the Commonwealth Parliament to. the world as a laughing stock, and have suggested that Australian legislators, not content with insisting on a White Australia, propose to make the oceans white by sweeping the coloured races from them. That statement is not warranted by the facts, and it has done a great deal of injury to Australia. I venture to think it would be an excellent thing if not only Great Britain, but all the self-governing nations of the Empire, would lay it down as a broad principle that thev will not grant any subsidy to a steam-ship company unless its vessels are manned by white British subjects.
– Would the honorable senator debar Norwegians!, Swedes, and Danes ?
– Yes. I would go even further, and say that they must be white and British crews.
– The honorable senator would debar’ the best sailors in the world ! ,
– My object is to promote defence, because I hope we are not going to subsidize any vessels which are not capable of being turned into fast cruisers. If that policy were adopted throughout the Empire, we should have a fleet manned by British white people, who, in time of war, would serve excellently as, not only a ground from which the Navy could be recruited, but also as a large fleet of fast-armed cruisers which are absolutely necessary to protect the Empire’s enormous commerce floating upon every sea. When I contend that the lascars are unsuitable, and should not be employed on these fast vessels, it is not upon ethnic grounds that I base my objections, but simply because they are not fighting men. We would not employ the lascars in the Navy, and we should not employ them in the recruiting ground therefor - the mercantile marine. A general laugh was raised on one side just n©w, when I said that we were destroying the British Jack-Tar ; but let me quote a table from the British Year Book for 1903 -
Instead of a continual increase of British sailors in the mercantile marine, their number has steadily decreased, whilst the number of foreign and Iascar sailors, especially the latter, has continually increased.
– What about the number in the Imperial Navy?
– My point is that we should have white crews in the mercantile marine. A great number of British warships have been laid aside lately, and one of the reasons given by Admiral Fisher, who so splendidly reorganized the British Navy, was that by laying up ships which were obsolete or semi-obsolete, full crews were being provided for the effective warships.
– What has been the increase in the number of sailors in the Imperial Navy?
– I have not the figures at hand, but I dare say that there has been a material increase. I am now speaking of the recruiting ground for the British Navy, and pointing out that there has been a continual decrease of British sailors, a considerable increase of foreign sailors, and an enormous increase of lascars.
– In 1903-4 the number of officers and men in the British Navy was 172,100.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Lord Brassey estimates that in a quarter of a century the British seamen have decreased in number from 200,000 to 100,000. Admiral Bowden Smith says -
In the event of war the foreign seamen would certainly be a danger, and it was a great discredit to the nation that we should have so large a number of foreign seamen in our mercantile marine when we had thousands of our own people unemployed.
I have made that quotation simply to show that, from the defence point of view, one of the greatest dangers to British naval supremacy is the fact that our recruiting ground has become depleted through British sailors being displaced by foreigners and lascars. Senator Walker asked, why should we insult the Hindoos when they have been fighting so magnificently for the Empire, by: saying that they are not good enough to man our mercantile ships? Surely the honorable senator ought to know that the lascars are a different class from the Hindoos who have fought for the Empire. The very word “Iascar” means a servile people. It is taken from the Persian word lashkar, which means a noncombatant, a public follower in the ordnance department, a supernumerary or a native sailor. In fact, the lascars are a seafaring population, who are scattered along the southern, littoral of India, and are derived principally from the aboriginal races, which never have been and never will be fighting men. You could not level a greater insult at the autocratic Brahmin princely Rajput, the valiant Sikh, and the fighting Ghoorka than to tell them that they are of the same class as the original inhabitants, the lascars, who are employed in our fleets.
– These people must be depreciating the standard of the British Army .
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Not at all. The fighting races I have mentioned are not seafaring people. They live in the north of India, and do not seek for employment in our mercantile marine.
– Would the honorable senator admit them if thev did?
– I believe in keeping the coloured armies separate from the white armies, and, as regards naval defence, the coloured people separate from the white people.
– If the lascars were a fighting race, would the honorable senator allow them to be employed on the ships ?
– The honorable senator says, if the lascars were white, or Christian, or something that they are not, anything might be possible. But I am trying to argue that it is not advisable to employ them on the ships, which are not only a recruiting ground for the Navy, but are capable of being turned into fast cruisers for our defence. You could not level a greater insult at the fighting races of Northern India than to class them with the Iascar race. It would be equivalent to saying that the aborigines of Australia are of the same race as ourselves.
Senator- Gray. - The honorable senator will not have the Japanese here. Although they are a fighting race, still he will not allow them on our ships.
– I have already said that on subsidized ships we should have British white subjects, because we require them for fighters. If we desire to subsidize steamers for the carrying of produce - and it may be advisable for us to do so - we should consider that question separately from the mail contract. If Ave insist that for commercial reasons the vessels shall call at Sydney and Melbourne, I do not see how we can logically refuse to include in the contract a provision for them to call at other State capitals. It is against the intention of the Constitution that We should expend Commonwealth’ money to benefit certain States when we do not afford the same privileges to other States. In common fairness, these vessels should also call at Brisbane. At the present time, Queensland pays £15,000 a year towards the Commonwealth subsidy to the Orient Steam Navigation Company. In other words, that State pays exactly the same as any other State for the service, and is, therefore, entitled to equal privileges. But Queensland, in order to reap the same advantage as New South Wales and Victoria - an advantage to which she is equally entitled - has had to pay £26,000 a year, and we have relieved her.- of the payment of £4.766. As a matter of common fairness that State is entitled to object to the conditions which she has had to bring about in order to gain the same privileges as Melbourne and Svdney, when all the States are paying equally for that service. If we pay a steam-ship service for the carriage of mails and produce between Great Britain and Australia, they must go to all the States, if it is to be a fair arrangement. We are paying ^26,000 a year for the Vancouver mail service and getting very little advantage from it. Our exports and imports by the vessels are very small, and so also is the mail matter. If the contracting company is going to call at other ports than the one for the delivery of the mails - the nearest port to Vancouver - then undoubtedly on the same line of reasoning every State should benefit equally from the expenditure. VVhy should not Western Australia be able to send her timber to Canada?
– That would be like sending coals to Newcastle.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The timber of Canada is pine, whereas the timber of Western Australia is hardwood. If, for commercial reasons, we are going to subsidize a steam line between an outside nation and Australia, then every State should benefit equally by the service. The Vancouver mail contract should simply provide for the carriage of mails between Vancouver and the nearest port, whether it be Brisbane or Sydney. We should not compel the vessels to go anywhere else. The mails can be sent by train to the other States. The contract with the Orient Steam ^Navigation Company should be for a service between Naples and Adelaide, and no further. If the company likes to run its vessels beyond Adelaide it can do so, but we should1 pay nothing extra on that account.
– How would the vessels be repaired if an accident happened at Adelaide ?
– It would be for the; company to arrange for such contingencies. I trust that when the new tenders are called for, if the Government does not confine itself to calling for tenders between Naples and Adelaide, it will, at any rate, call for alternative tenders, so that we can see what extra amount we are paying for the commercial considerations which we impose. I hope that the Government will endeavour to have such provisions inserted in the contract that it will pay some of the enterprising Australian shipping companies - say trie A.U.S.N. Company - or a combination of them, to put on steam-ships to carry our mails between Naples and Adelaide.
– They have not got the steamers.
– We are calling for tenders which will be due in about two years’ time. The companies will have plenty of time to obtain steamers if they desire to enter the trade. One of the great advantages in notifying the Orient Steam Navigation Company that we do not intend to continue the contract after January, 1908, is that it gives time for the Australian companies to prepare tenders for the service. I also trust that there will not be alternative tenders with regard to white and coloured labour, and that we shall see that the vessels are of such a nature that they can be used as fast armoured cruisers in time of war, and manned exclusively by white British subjects. Then we shall have done something towards the defence of Australian commerce, and shall not be the sport of a shipping combine which dictates to us whatever terms it likes.
– Senator .Clemons has endeavoured to show that this ought not to be looked upon as a party question. I should have thought that if he considered it to be a non-party question he would not have adopted the role which oppositionists are supposed to assume - that of pitching into the Government. The Government has been charged with making a hypocritical proposal for the purpose of bribing members from Tasmania and Queensland. But Senator Clemons took precious good care, before he uttered that statement, and objected to the latter part of the motion, to make the reservation that he would not put his own views to the test by voting on the question. And how was it that when Senator Pearce proposed to omit the provisions to which he objects, Senator Clemons did not vote for the amendment ? If he was so strongly opposed to the provision relating to Tasmania and Queensland, why did he not give expression to his view ? Was he, as a Tasmanian senator, bribed bv the Government? It is a very singular thing that, although the honorable senator says that he disapproves of the latter part of the motion, believes that the Government are hypocritical in bringing it forward, and that they have done it to bribe members of Parliament, he did not vote against it when he had the opportunity.
– I do not intend to vote for a line of the motion.
– But the honorable senator knows perfectly well that the Senate has agreed that the words to which he says he objects shall stand part of the question. Therefore his is a very cheap and very easy way of abusing the Government.
– The Government will not carry the latter part of the motion with my help.
– The Government was not hypocritical in the matter. The amended motion was not brought forward to obtain, the votes of the Queensland and Tasmanian members. It was brought forward as an act of justice to those two States. If Senator Clemons had been here when my colleague proposed the motion, he would have heard the reasons why these provisions were included.
– Why were they not included when the motion was first tabled in the House of Representatives?
– Simply because it was a very difficult question to approach, and the principle upon which the act of justice should be founded was nor. ascertained. It was determined after consultation with members of another place how we should do this act of justice to the rest of the Commonwealth.
– I can quite understand the consultation.
– Queensland for a very long time has urged that the mail contract should include a provision to enable the steamers to call at Brisbane, in common fairness to her. She has shown her determination by actually agreeing to pay £26,000 per annum for the purpose of giving effect to her wishes. She has asked the Commonwealth all through to assist her.
– And the Government refused in the first instance.
– In the first instance we refused because we could not see our way to agree to it at the time.
– Was the consultation afterwards satisfactory ?
– The ]ate Government also refused. But a fair and satisfactory method was afterwards agreed upon. As Queensland was paying for the steamers to go to Brisbane, it was only fair that the Commonwealth should pay a certain rate per mile on the scale paid for carrying the mails from London to Sydney. Having granted that concession to Queens- land, we were bound, in common fairness, to grant the same privilege to Tasmania. Tasmania was carrying her mails from Melbourne to her own ports at her own expense. ,
– Does the honorable senator know what that expense was?
– Was it anything approaching £2,000 a year?
– I do not know. I only say that the principle upon which we agreed to pay to Queensland a certain sum applies equally to Tasmania. That appears to me to be absolutely fair. The reason why we cannot actually estimate the amount in the case of Tasmania is that sometimes the steamers go to Burnie, and at other times they go to Launceston, which is a longer journey. They are to be paid for the actual mileage run.
– And Tasmania pays the subsidy.
– She pays her share, but we are giving her something to help her. Does the honorable senator object to Tasmania being treated as Queensland is being treated?
– The Government is paying enormously in excess of the actual cost, and bribing Tasmania in the bargain.
– Surely it is only fair that she should get this service. She already pays her share for bringing out the mails from England by the Orient Steam Navigation Company in common with the rest of the Commonwealth. If we make this concession to Queensland, we are bound to make it also to Tasmania, and to give her a corresponding sum, even if the amount is in excess of what she now has to pay.
– I do .not approve of that.
– It is not likely that the honorable senator- would approve of anything that the present Government did, and we do not expect any other treatment from him. There is not the slightest necessity for the amendment which Senator Clemons has moved. The Government has already announced in another place that it intends to do what Senator Clemons proposes shall be done.
– That has nothing to do with us.
– That was agreed to immediately after the Government was formed, and even before it met Parliament and announced its policy. The subject was brought up by the Postmaster-General, with »a strong recommendation that we should, immediately after the ratification of the contract, and before the ist January next, give notice to the Orient Steam Navigation Company to terminate the agreement, .so that there might be as long a period as possible in which to call for tenders, and to enable companies that desired to tender to obtain the necessary ships to carry out the contract if accepted.
– Did the Government announce the intention of calling for tenders immediately after the contract was ratified ?
– Yes, and my colleague informed the Senate that we were going to do it.
– After this amendment was in print.
– Certainly not. The’ announcement was made in another place before, and it was known to be a part of our policy. And although Senator Clemons intimated that most likely we had adopted his policy because his amendment was in print,
– I never intimated anything of the sort.
– The honorable senator insinuated that the Government had stolen his idea.
– Is it an insinuation that the Minister of Defence put up Senator Pearce to ask this question?
– It is an unmistakable insinuation.
– Does the Minister say that he had nothing to do with that arrangement ?
– I do not say that ; but I say that the honorable senator has made an insinuation. Even if I had anything to do with the arrangement, is any harm done?
– Why not admit it?
– Why admit it? Honorable senators may have a suspicion in their minds, and make .all sorts of insinuations ; but they are not quite sure, and I do not intend to enlighten them. The position I take is that the proposal made is our policy, which we intend to carry out; and surely the Senate may trust the Government in the matter. Why should we not carry the motion in the same terms as were agreed to in another place? I ask Senator Clemons to withdraw the amendment.
– I do not think it would be fair to the Senate to withdraw the amendment.
– We have promised to do what is proposed, and I do not think it would be fair, even to one’s biggest enemy, to seek to bind him to a particular course which he had already publicly promised to follow.
– The amendment is intended to back up the Government.
– It will not in any way strengthen the Government, who have resolved to do exactly what is proposed.
– Does the Minister say that the Government is not strengthened by unanimous support?
– Not when the Government have promised to take the very action that is proposed.
– There was no promise made before my amendment appeared in print.
– I have seen several members of another place, who tell me that it was well understood that what I have indicated was the intention of the Government; and I ask Senator Clemons, once more, to withdraw his amendment. As to the White Australia policy, the Commonwealth has been grossly and unfairly blamed for what has occurred in connexion with the mail service. In 1894 the Premiers and the Postmasters-General of the various Colonies unanimously requested the postal authorities in England, when tenders were called for, to secure a provision for the employment of none but white crews. At that time, I believe, Mr. Reid was Premier, and Mr. Joseph Cook was Postmaster-General, of New South Wales. But the Commonwealth Government received nothing but blame when, at the first opportunity which presented itself, they endeavoured to carry out the policy unanimously approved by the Colonies in 1894.
– As a matter of fact, the Labour Party forced the Government into the adoption of the White Australia policy.
– I am not defending any Government, but speaking in favour of a resolution arrived at by Parliament.
– Is the Minister referring to the section of the Act which the present Treasurer, Sir John Forrest, described as “ foolish and dishonest “ ?
– I know that the section has been called all sorts of names, but I did not know that it had’ been described as dishonest; and I do not see the necessity for introducing the name of Sir John Forrest into the discussion.
– Is it the intention of the Government to call for alternative tenders regarding white labour and black labour ?
– Certainly not. That is an absurd suggestion, seeing that until the section of the Act is repealed, it would be impossible to accept any tender which involved the employment of black labour.
– Mr. Reid announced that both he and Mr. Deakin were agreed that the section should be altered.
– The honorable senator is referring to the contract-labour section of the Immigration Restriction Act. I am sure that there is no intention to alter the section in the Post and Telegraph Act. I ask honorable senators not to vote for the amendment, not because we do not approve of the proposal, or because the Government do not intend to give effect to it, but because, under the circumstances, it is unnecessary, and, if carried, t would be a slur on the Government.
– I have nothing to do with the quarrels of the Government or the Opposition, but regard the question purely from the stand-point of a senator who is desirous to uphold the rights and privileges of the Senate. I shall not refer to some of the ugly words used in the course of the debate, except to say that, although Queensland is supposed to be unduly influenced in the matter, the probability is that if a vote were taken for or against the contract more senators from Queensland than from any other State, would be found voting against it. If Senator Clemons had deliberately said that his motive in moving this amendment was to cast a reflection on the Government, or express a want of confidence in their administration, I should still feel it my duty to vote with him. But Senator Clemons has distinctly stated that he has no such desire, and I cannot see why the Government, if the amendment be carried, should regard that as a reflection on their administration. Whatever may have been the intentions of the Minister in another place, he did not say that the Government were going to give notice to terminate the contract, but that, while he asked the House to agree to the ratification, he thought they ought to give early notice, so that there might be sufficient time in which to obtain tenders.
– The Minister said he thought they would be acting wisely to do so.
– That was merely an expression of opinion on the part of the Minister. The late Postmaster-General, Mr. Sydney Smith, held out longer than any one else against this contract, but he was forced to subordinate his opinions.
– Because his chief “ went back “ on him.
– There might be such changes in the political atmosphere as would place it within the bounds of possibility that notice would not be given in connexion with this particular contract. It will be observed that the Orient Steam Navigation Company has so arranged matters that two years’ notice must be given within the next two months and a half. It will certainly strengthen the hands of the Government, and of Parliament, if this Senate speaks with ‘ a unanimous voice, but, if not, by the voice of a majority, in favour of notice being given as soon as the contract is ratified. Many people endeavour to cast reflections on the Senate, one section holding that the Senate has no right to interfere in matters of this kind, and the other section taking the view that no one cares what the Senate does’. I desire to show both sections, whenever the opportunity arises, that the Senate considers that it has a right to express an opinion as to the expenditure of the money of the Commonwealth. If another place has been so short-sighted as to accept an expression of opinion on the part of a Minister as something binding on the Government, it is our duty to place it on record that we do not take the same view. Senator Keating, when submitting this motion, said, “ I think that, if it is the wish of the people of the Commonwealth that the contract should be terminated, notice should be given early.” When I asked him, by interjection., how he proposed to ascertain the wish of the people between now and January, he gave no reply. I then asked him what his own opinion was, and he then said, “ I have not stated that I am not in favour of giving immediate notice, and I have not said that the Government are not in favour of that course.” The -representatives of the Government said nothing of a definite character until the reply to the question this afternoon ; and, without doubt, that reply was given after notice of the amendment .
– The reply was given bv arrangement.
– It does not matter whether the reply was by arrangement or not. When Senator Clemons moved the amendment, the Government, seeing the attitude of the Senate, ought to have gracefully accepted it at once. I trust, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that the Government will not call for a division, and thus compel some of their supporters to vote against the amendment. We desire to show the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and any other shipping combine, that the Senate is, fully seized of the position, and that objection is taken to the levy made on the Commonwealth in the shape of the exorbitant charge for the mail service. I intend to vote for the amendment if a division be called.
– This matter has developed so much that, as one who was associated with the late Government in. the earlier stages of the negotiations, I think I may fairly take a hand in the discussion. I am disappointed that Senator Playford did not conclude his speech with an intimation that he accepted the amendment!. It seems to me that if anybody has reason- to complain of lack of courtesy, it is Senator Clemons, who gave notice of his amendment, I understood, last evening, and had it put in print. Instead of adopting a perfectly legitimate, but adroit arrangement, which was expected to have the effect of forestalling the amendment by means of a question, Senator Playford’s proper course would have been to intimate privately to Senator Clemons that the amendment would be accepted.
– One does not accept amendments from persons who call him a hypocrite.
– The honorable senator was not called a hypocrite yesterday.
– He was to-day.
– The honorable senator would not have been called a hypocrite to-day if he had accepted the amendment. I beseech him to forget the appellation applied to him. It must have been applied in the heat of debate. I am quite sure that Senator Clemons will say that Senator Playford is not a hypocrite.
– Senator Clemons cannot withdraw it.
– If that is the reason, and it is suggested that there is some wounded feeling on the part of Senator Playford, I am sure the honorable senator is too big a man, I mean toolargeminded, to allow a little thing like that to interfere with the proper conduct of the business of the Senate.
– A little thing to the honorable and learned senator, I suppose.
– It would not fit me at all and I should disregard it. For a similar reason I expect Senator Playford to disregard it, and not to permit the use of an expression of that kind, in the heat of debate, to induce him to oppose an amendment, which would giveeffect, as the honorable senator admits, io> the intentions of the Government as they are not given effect to in the motion as it stands, an3 which would insure the support of tEe Senate. There are one or two other matters to which I desire to call attention. It has been said, as a reason why the motion should be carried at an- early date, that there is a large amount of money payable to the Orient Steam Navigation Company, which cannot be paid until the contract is ratified. We areentitled to complain, and certainly those of us who were associated with the late Government are entitled to complain, that the motion for the ratification of the contract was not brought forward three months ago. It is a monstrous thing that this Parliament should have been called upon to deal, for instance, with the wretched Commerce Bill, and that its time should be occupied with such a measure when the Orient contract might have been brought up for debate. It is three months since the present Government came into office, and if. as Senator Playford has said, they had this matter under consideration immediately they they took office, it ill-became them towithhold it from the consideration of Parliament for so long. In connexion with the statement made as to the arrangement with Queensland, I wish to- say that the late Government were never asked to give their assent to what is now submitted to Parliament. The agreement between Queensland and the Orient Steam Navigation Company was not entered into until the j st September, some two months after the late Government left office. Senator Playford was mistaken, I am sure inadvertently, in saying that the late Government had at first refused the .request of Queensland to contribute to what she was paying under her contract, and that, therefore, the present Government were in exactly the same boat as their predecessors. There is no foundation for that statement.
– What Senator Playford meant was that the, late Government refused to make it a condition of the contract that Brisbane should be a port of call.
– That is a very different thing, and, as Senator Drake reminds me, the reason for that was that the Orient Steam Navigation Company raised difficulties, and would not consent to go to Brisbane for any sum whatever.
– They said they would require to put on another boat.
– They would not entertain the proposal.
– Surely they could not dictate the whole of the terms of the contract ?
– I am not discussing what they could dictate, but correcting Senator Playford’s erroneous impression as to the present Government being in the same boat as the late Government in refusing the request of Queensland to contribute to the subsidy they were going to pay the Orient Steam Navigation Company. In this connexion, there is a statement in the late Postmaster-General’s minute to this effect -
I strongly urged Mr. Anderson to arrange for the vessels of the Orient line to journey from and to Sydney and Brisbane on each trip, but he informed me that such an arrangement would necessitate the employment of an additional vessel, which the company could not undertake at the present juncture to employ.
So that it was not a question of money, but of refusing to do it at all. That was only one of the many difficulties confronting trie late Government in coming to an arrangement with the Orient Steam
Navigation Company. I am, of course, bound to support the ratification of this contract. Although I am entitled’ to discuss the details of the whole motion, as well as the amendment, I do not propose to enter into details, further than to say that with regard to the contract I am’ bound to join in a vote to give it parliamentary ratification. But I do make this confession to the Senate, without any reservation whatever - that I never in my life agreed to anything with more reluctance than to pay that £120,000 a year. I consider - and I say; it advisedly - that it was an exaction.
– An act of spoliation.
– I do not know that, in the circumstances, any terms are too strong to apply to it. But whatever criticism may be passed on the late Government in connexion with this or any other matter, they are entitled to credit for the resistance they offered to demands, first for £170,000, and then for £150,000, which amount was for weeks and weeks held out as the ultimatum. All honour and credit are due to the late PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Sydney Smith, who exhibited great skill, firmness, and fairness in carrying on the negotiations which led to this contract. Honorable senators will remember the disturbance that was set up, and they know how easy it is to get up an agitation in business circles.
– An attack of hysterics.
– I will not say whether it was hysterical or not. There may have been good grounds for a great deal of it. We know how sensitive commercial people are, and how easy it is for an agitation to swell and increase until it becomes almost irresistible, and one feels that the whole commercial enterprise of the country is being interfered with. The pressure which was brought to bear was such as to threaten to involve more or less of a collapse in commercial matters unless something were done, and in point of fact the late Government were absolutely driven to make the best arrangement they could. I say here, fearlessly, that this contract with the subsidy of £120,000, although I consider it was an exaction, was the best arrangement which the late Government, or any other Government, could have made at the time. I suppose that, owing to the fact that a vote was taken, yesterday, it will be impossible to have the questions involved in the motion divided ; but I should like to have been able to have voted separately on the two proposals associated here with the ratification of the contract. I deeply regret that this provision with regard to Queensland is tacked on to the ratification of the contract. I shall not deal withthe question of black labour, or any other kind of labour, or whether “lascar’’ is a word which comes from the Persian. It does seem to me that this proposal in relation to Queensland, whetherit is just that a contribution should be made or not, is framed in such a way, that we shall be giving parliamentary ratification to what is absolutely a false pretence. For the sum of 3s. 8d. per mile the Orient Steam Navigation Com. pany is to agree to carry postal matter between the ports of Sydney and Brisbane. What a farce that is ! We know that the company will not carry a letter or a postcard.
– They will carry some postal matter.
– Verylittle. Will the carriage of it be worth 3s. 8d. per mile ? I am aware that in legal matters the amount of consideration “is nothing; however insignificant it is, it may support the promise. But to suggest that any one should assent to this motion as a true representation of an honest business arrangement is asking us to believe something which no one in his saner moments, and outside of politics, would believe for a moment. I am equally against this - I do not wish to call it a bribe, because my honorable friends from Tasmania are, I know, incapableof being bribed - this verbal sop proposed to be given to Tasmania. What does it mean? The motion tells us nothing. We are informed that arrangements are to be made “ to make a similar provision.” What provision? What are the Government to be bound to? What do they propose to give Tasmania? What is to be the postal arrangement made with Tasmania? What does Tasmania desire? We have no information on these points; but Parliament is solemnly asked to put a vague phrase into the motion as a sop to Tasmania. I observe with some pleasure that there is a total absence in this motion of anything in the nature of a sop to South Australia. I have said that it is with the greatest reluctance that I agreed to the payment of £120,000 under this contract, and it is with the greatest regret that I feel myself obliged to vote for its ratifi cation. I have a very vivid recollection of the kind of strategy to which the Orient Steam Navigation Company resorted, and the petty shifts adopted at Largs Bay, for instance, in anchoring steamers a mile or two further out, in. order to make it inconvenient to reach . them, appointing an early hour in the morning, instead of mid-day, for the embarkation of mails and passengers, in order to prevent the ordinary express from Melbourne carrying the mails to Adelaide in the usual way, and com pelling the people of Australia to pay for a special train for the purpose.
– It was all a part of the policy of coercion.
– Undoubtedly it was; and Senator Givens will accept my definition that it was petty and contemptible on the part of a great company. I say that the’ company should have been above that kind of thing.
– So much the more reason why the late Government should not have entered into the contract.
– I have told Senator O’Keefe the arrangements that were made - that commercial interests were suffering, and that we were obliged to enter into the contract, and we were obliged to enter into it. It is not that the late Government entered into the contract, but it is that we should take the earliest opportunity to put it on record that we are determined that it shall be brought to an end at the earliest possible moment.
– The best way to do that is by refusing to ratifv the contract.
– No. If wewere to refuse to ratify the contract, look at the position in Avhich Ave should be landed. Why should we cut off our noses to spite our faces? Why should Ave not give a notice Avhich AA’ill allow us ample time for making our OAvn arrangements? Why should Ave inconvenience ourselves for the purpose of doing all we can do, in another way, to give effect to our contention?
– We shall not inconvenience ourselves; because we shall be just aswell off, and save £80,000 a year.
– I am not so sure about that. Without entering into the matter at further length, there are two reasons why I support the amendment,
Avhich I should have gladly Avelcomed if I had been at the table submitting the contract for ratification. The first reason is that it gives effect to the unanimous desire of the Parliament, I believe, and the intention of the Ministry to give this notice; and the second reason is that it enables those of us who feel that way to vote for an amendment which will indicate to the Orient Steam Navigation Company our displeasure, to say the least of it, at the injudicious proceedings by which they brought about the contract. I appeal to Senator Playford to look at the amendment from the same point of view. Senator Clemons has disclaimed anything in the nature of a reflection upon the Government; at any rate, I have no such intention. We shall be abdicating our function as a Senate unless we put on record our opinion of the matter by an intimation to the Government that we desire a contract brought about in that fashion, and so unjust in its terms, to be terminated.
– I am glad that Senator Clemons has moved this amendment, because it will give the Senate an opportunity of affirming another principle to which nearly every speaker has given vent during the debate, but which the amendment does not touch, and that is the question of the carriage of mail matter only, so far as the main contract is concerned. I move -
That the amendment be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ for the carriage of mail matter only.”
The speakers, almost without exception, have pointed out the drawbacks and mis.construction which have arisen from the fact that there is a clause in the contract for refrigerating space. I think it is most essential that when tenders are invited they should not be made intricate, or be hampered by a clause referring to a refrigerating apparatus, which, as Sir John Forrest has pointed out, all these vessels are provided with.
– The honorable senator has already spoken to the main question, and I do not think that under the rules we have adopted he can move an amendment. One of the rules is* -
A senator who has spoken on the original question (or on the original question and an amendment), may not afterwards move another amendment.
The honorable senator can speak to the amendment of Senator Clemons, but I do not think that he can move another amendment.
– What is the number of the standing order?
– It is a rule which will be found in the report made by me to the Senate. It will be recollected that when rule 393 was first introduced - it was different from the one that we had before - we obtained information from Senator Gould, and from other sources, as to the subsidiary standing orders which would have to be made to carry it into effect. We got standing orders from New South Wales ; they were formulated by me, and approved of by the Senate.
– Where are they, sir ?
– They are contained in the report I made.
– It is most desirable that some honorable senator should move the amendment which I am unable to move. Members of the Ministry have pointed out - and they obviously speak with an authority which will be recognised by Senator Playford - that refrigerating apparatus was provided on these mail-ships long before there was any question of inserting such a clause in the agreement.
– As the honorable senator has already spoken to the original question, he can now speak only to the amendment.
– I am pointing out that the amendment is deficient in that it does not go far enough, and that it should include:-
– The amendment deals with only the question of giving notice to terminate the contract, and I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to that question.
– I submit, sir, that Senator Matheson is entitled to give his reasons for opposing the amendment. He is only pointing out that the amendment is defective because it does not provide for tenders to be limited to the carriage of mails only.
– The amendment has nothing to do with inviting fresh tenders, but with only the question of giving notice of the annulment of the contract.
– The second part of my amendment deals with the question of calling for fresh tenders.
– I had overlooked that fact. Senator Matheson is entitled to speak to the amendment.
– The amendment does not go far enough. In order to be effective, it should contain a clause stipulating that the Government should not ask for tenders for a refrigerating service, because that has been provided by all these ships without any- such clause being in the contract. The effect of inserting that condition in the mail contract has been to give Queensland very grave cause for discontent. On that point, the Brisbane Courier writes as follows : -
Queensland, under the Commonwealth contract, has to pay about £18,000 a year to secure the conveyance of her own mails ; and a service, to be of up-to-date refrigerated (?) steamers, for Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, and in addition she has to pay £26,000 a year to secure the latter privilege for her own producers.
Under the mail contract the Commonwealth does not pay a single penny to secure a refrigerating service, but the insertion of that clause in the contract gives Queensland an absolutely absurd opportunity of saying that the Commonwealth does pay for it for the benefit of other States. I therefore most strongly urge an honorable senator who is not debarred, by reason of the fact that he has spoken to the main question, to move an addition to the amendment. Unless that is done, I really do not think that it is worth while supporting it.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I had not intended to speak, but finding that Senator Matheson is prevented ‘from moving an amendment, which I agree is a very necessary one, I move -
That the amendment be amended .by the addition of the words “ for the carriage of mail matter only.”
It will be remembered that I voted for Senator Pearce’s amendment to strike out that portion of the motion which deals with the allowance to Queensland, and possibly to Tasmania. I am satisfied that it was the conditions under which the tender was accepted which has caused us to make that allowance. I believe that if it were a contract for the carriage of mails only we should not dream of making an allowance to Queensland ; in fact it would not be necessary. I believe that the mixing up of commercial arrangements with the necessity for carrying mails has landed us in the peculiar position of making an allowance to Queensland for a purpose which is not apparent to me. It- will be a hard thing for me to explain in Western Australia how it is that this amount is paid to Queensland when there are no mails to be carried by the steamers which’ are engaged to go to Brisbane. I think it is a scandal and a disgrace that the Commonwealth has beers called upon to pay the subsidy of ,£120,000 to the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
– Then vote against the ratification of the contract.
– The Government were forced into the position of making the contract, and consequently I shall vote for its ratification. I should be with Senator Givens if I could see a way of getting out of that obligation. I can well recall the feeling which the newspapers of Australia worked up over the complaints of business men.
– Are we going to allow ourselves to be bounced in that way ?
– The shipping ring, by their action, squeezed the business people so hard that they got into a state of funk, started the agitation which they so successfully carried through, and eventually squeezed the Government into entering into this contract. In the circumstances, we might as well accept the position, and treat them as they deserve on a future occasion. If the amendment of Senator Clemons is accepted, the best thing we can do is to ratify the contract, and at the first opportunity get even with the shipping company against which we believe we have a genuine grievance.
– I shall support Senator Clemons’ amendment, but I cannot vote for that proposed by Senator Croft. It appears to me to be a silly and unbusinesslike thing to bind the hand’s of the Government two or three years before the event. Senator Croft does not put it as an alternative, but absolutely binds the Government to ask simply for a mail contract, leaving out altogether the question of the carriage of produce and of cool storage accommodation. No one can tell how our trade will increase, or what the exports of Australia will be two years hence. No one can tell what the inventions of science may provide for us. It may be of the greatest importance that our mail steamers should be provided with cool chambers, in addition to hold’s for the carriage of mails. The whole of our producers and merchants would be against this amendment. I have been perfectly astounded at the way in which some honorable senators talk about the commercial community consisting of a handful of people. That is arrant nonsense. Every consumer in Australia is interested in the commercial community. I see no reason to hurl epithets at the heads of the gentlemen who manage the Orient Steam Navigation Company. They have done nothing dishonorable - nothing which honorable senators in their own business would consider to be unfair. I believe them to be just as honorable as any commercial nien in the world. It is monstrous to condemn them simply because they would not furnish our Government with time-tables or guarantee to call at Adelaide when we insisted on their taking our mail matter at a poundage rate of 3s. 8d. per lb. There is a unanimous feeling among commercial people that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company have rendered enormous services to Australia. If, as some advocate, we nationalize the shipping business, it would be as great an act of folly as we could be guilty of. We surely ought to remember that this company has carried on business year after year at an absolute loss.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).By leave, I wish to amend my amendment by adding the words “ and alternatively, “ so that it will read “ and alternatively for the carriage of mail matter only.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I only rise for the purpose of endeavouring to bring this debate to a happy conclusion. Last night Senator Clemons gave notice of an amendment for a certain purpose. Today the Government, in reply to Senator Pearce, stated that what was proposed in that amendment was already part of its policy. In fact, the Government says that it intended to do exactly what Senator Clemons says it should do. We have this extraordinary position now : that the very thing which every one wants the Government to do is opposed by one side, and is being forced unnecessarily by the other side. I do not believe in the Senate being a party House, and I should not like to see any step that would take the conduct of business out of the hands of the Government. But Senator Croft’s amendment seems to me to remove the whole difficulty. It proposes that alternative tenders shall be called for. By accepting his amendment the Government might obviate a difficulty.
– We cannot accept it.
– I wish to make it clear that, before the Government had divulged its intention of giving immediate notice to the Orient Steam
Navigation Company, I had promised Senator Clemons to support his amendment. I must confess that I have very little sympathy with the attitude taken up by the Government. One would have thought that it would be glad to be fortified by the unanimous vote of the Senate. Instead of that, the Minister of Defence seems to hold the same opinion as Senator Mulcahy, that if this amendment is pressed to a division, it will be tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the Ministry. Senator Playford is not justified in taking that view. In any case, the Senate has the conduct of this business in its own hands. It is entitled to insist if it likes upon immediate notice being given of the termination of the contract. If we believe in doing that, it will be exceedingly unwise to put our trust in the Government. We know how unreliable almost all Governments are. A Government’s tenure of office is very uncertain. Before notice is given of the termination of the contract, the present Ministry may be out of power, and their successors might not feel bound to carry out a promise made casually, in answer to a question which some people say was prompted. I shall support Senator demons’ amendment, not because I wish to humiliate the Government, or to take the conduct of business out of their hands, but because I wish to place it on record that in the opinion of the Senate notice of the termination of the contract should be given at the earliest possible moment. I intend also to support the addition proposed by Senator Croft. I think the Government should confine themselves strictly to Commonwealth business, and that, in this instance, is the carriage of mails. If the Government were to propose rates for the carriage of goods over the railways of the various States, it would become at once apparent that they were interfering with business which did not concern them. It seems, however, that when a similar course is taken when arranging for the Inter-State carriage of oversea mails, no objection is taken. I must not be held as being opposed to cold storage, cheap transit of goods, or all the facilities possible being provided for the transit of goods ; but I hold that these are the business of the States. If the States choose to make the Commonwealth their agent, that is a different matter. I am sure the Commonwealth Government would be quite willing to make the best terms possible, on behalf of the States, with the steam-ship companies, always on the understanding that each State paid its proportion of the additional cost, and that that should not be reckoned as part of the cost of the carriage of the mails. I understand that the Secretary to the Post and Telegraph Department strongly objects to the conveyance of mails being connected in this way with the transit of produce. 1 do not wonder at that attitude, because the method simply loads that Department with expenditure which it ought not to be called upon to bear. I can easily understand, on the other hand, that the States wish to heap all the burden possible on the Commonwealth.
– And then charge the Commonwealth with extravagance.
– That is so. If the States wish the Commonwealth to ar-‘ range with the steam-ship companies for the transit of goods and produce to the European market, the Commonwealth Government will no doubt be glad to accede to their request, but only on the States’ responsibility. I shall vote for the amendment proposed by Senator Clemons, and also for that proposed by Senator Croft.
– When speaking on the motion last night I expressed the firm’ opinion that a contract of this kind should be for the carriage of mails, and the carriage of mails only. The amendment proposed by Senator Croft provides that any contract called in the future shall be of an alternative character, and I cannot, neither do I wish to, avoid voting for that amendment. But I most emphatically state that I am just as much in favour as can be any other honorable senator of giving the producers of the Commonwealth every possible facility for the exportation of their goods. There is, however, a right way and a wrong way of attaining that end; and, as I say, we ought not to mix up the encouragement of the exporting business with the arrangements for the carriage of the mails. The reception given to the more important amendment submitted by Senator Clemons would appear to indicate that we have arrived at a peculiar stage in our system of Government, when party feeling enters into our calculations more than I think is desirable. Last night, several honorable senators, including myself, expressed the belief that the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company is a bad one, and ought not to be ratified, and that Australia was being fairly well served under the poundage system at a saving of ,£38,000 or ,£40,000 per annum. However, I added, if the motion for the ratification were carried, the very earliest opportunity should be taken to terminate the contract.
– The Government, have agreed to that.
– Before I made that statement last night, I was informed by Senator Clemons that he intended resubmit the amendment which has givenrise to the present position in the Chamber. It was my own. fault that I had not the pleasure of being .present when the Honorary Minister proposed the motion for the ratification of the contract ; but I am given to understand that he then said that it was the intention of the Government to give notice to terminate it at the earliest opportunity. I certainly thought I was doing right in saying I would support an amendment which I regarded as a proper one; and I am sorry that the Government, in submitting .the motion for ratification, “aid* not give honorable senators some intimation of the fact that they intended to terminate it at the. earliest opportunity. Had that course been taken, I and other supporters of the Government would not have been placed in a false position. I am a general supporter o’f the Government, and it is no use blinking the fact that a good deal of party capital is going to be made out of this question. The Minister of Defence has said distinctly that, if Senator Clemons’ amendment be carried, the Government will regard it as tantamount to an expression of want of confidence in the promise they have made.
– The Government made this a party question by that declaration.
– Members on the Opposition side made it a party question by abusing the Government.
– It was remarks of the kind that led me to express the opinion at the outset that party feeling is sometimes carried a little too ‘far. It is, without doubt, a great pity that this should be made a question of party tactics. On the one hand, we have the Government declaring their belief in the policy of terminating the contract at the earliest moment, and, on the other hand, we have Senator Clemons, a prominent member of the Opposition, submitting an amendment, notice of which was given before a number of honorable senators knew the intentions of the Government. If the Government regard this amendment as a “ slap in the face,” or as an attempt to defeat them in this Chamber, then, naturally, they desire to have as many supporters as possible. But the amendment contains a proposal of which I approve, and, although it is moved by a member on the Opposition side of the Chamber, I feel absolutely free to vote for it. Had I known the intention of the Government to terminate the contract, I should have declared my intention to vote against the amendment, because I absolutely believe that the Government will carry out their promise. If I had not confidence enough in the Government to believe that they will carry out any promise they make, I should not be found giving them general support, and I am certain that, whether the amendment be carried or not, they will take the earliest opportunity to terminate the contract. However that may be, I do not feel compelled to vote against the amendment - an amendment which will carry into effect a principle in which I believe - simply because it is proposed by an honorable senator on the Opposition side. I repeat that it is a pity the leader of the Government in this Chamber has made this a party question.
-. - How can we help making it a party question when an honorable senator on the other side accuses us of hypocrisy?
– I have more sympathy with the policy enunciated by the Government than I have with’ the policy which Senator Clemons is generally found supporting in this Chamber. If such a term as that indicated by the Minister of Defence was used it is regrettable ; but I am not responsible for the sins of Senator Clemons. Under the peculiar circumstances, I feel reluctantly compelled to record my vote in the way I indicated last night. I believe the contract should not have been entered into ; but, as the position now is, the next best course is to take the earliest possible opportunity to terminate it. I accept the assurance given by the representatives of the Government that the Government intend to give notice to the Orient Steam Navigation Company at once that it is their intention to terminate the contract. At the same time, if Senator Clemons insists on carrying his amendment to a division, I shall have to support him.
– I cannot understand the position of affairs, or how this quick change has come about. This is a question which, of all others discussed in the Senate, ought to be free from party influences, and it is difficult to appreciate the attitude of the Government in the face of such a general agreement as to the desirability of terminating the contract, in making it a party question. We all recognise that the Government were powerless to do anything else than enter into this contract. It has been recognised that, no matter what Government had been in power, they would have had to deal with the same state of affairs. Iri the circumstances, I cannot understand why the Government should make this a party question.
– I did not make it a party question. When an honorable senator abuses the Government, and refers to one as a hypocrite, he makes- it a party question.
– The remarks to which the Minister refers were very little heeded. I advise the Government to accept the amendment. They have announced that they are in accord with what it proposes, and they will lose no dignity in accepting it. I intend to support it.
– I desire to say one or .two words with regard to the amendment moved by Senator Croft. It is quite unnecessary, and it has not the merit of any novelty , because, in cai ling for tenders before we have called for them in the alternative form.
– Honorable senators did not know much about that ; this is the- first I have heard of it.
– If the honorable senator will look at page 4 of the correspondence he will see that the last paragraph of the advertisement calling for tenders reads in this way : -
Tenders will be received and considered that An not comply with the above conditions (except as to white labour, which is essential), but which set forth the route, frequency of service, time, and any other provisions proposed by the tenderer.
– Still, it is the custom to encourage tenders for a combined commercial and mail service.
– Not at all. After waiting eighteen months, there was really only one practical tender received, and that was the tender pf the Orient Steam Navigation Company, who had steamers fitted wilh refrigerating machinery and chambers, which they had for carrying on a commercial service under another contract which did not require them to make that provision at all. There cannot be the slightest doubt that tenders will be called for on the same lines as have been adopted in the past, so that any company that pleases can forward a tender for a purely postal service. Senator Croft’s amendment is therefore surplusage.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051019_senate_2_27/>.