2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
GUNS AT FORT LARGS.
Senator GUTHRIE. - I desire to draw the attention of the Minister of Defence to a report in to-day’s newspapers of a question which was asked in the House of Assembly of South Australia by the Honorable Alfred Catt, and in which he states that he has been informed “on excellent authority that you might as well stick up an umbrella as the present guns at Fort Largs, and to ask if he can state why guns so inefficient are being mounted while effective ones are available.
Senator PLAYFORD. - The statement of the Honorable Mr. Catt is incorrect. The gunswhich are being mounted are effective, and the Premier of South Australia has been informed accordingly.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the replies, I desire to ask Senator Keating whether a shadow of ground exists for the insinuation contained in Senator Higgs’ question, that the firm referred to have been in any way guilty of fraud or even sharp practice.
– I understand, sir, that you are the judge as to whether a question insinuates fraud, and I desire to know whether Senator Pulsford is in order in stating that Senator Higgs’ does.
– I do not think that fraud is insinuated.
– Not in part 7 of the question ?
– I do not think so. Surely Reuter’s Telegram Company can charge for a message, and then code the words !
– Does Senator Higgs disclaim an intention to cast a slur upon the firm?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of that question.
– I asked you, sir, whether the question of Senator Pulsford was a proper one to ask, in that it charges Senator Higgs with making an insinuation of fraud or sharp practice against this firm.
– I do not see that Senator Higgs has made such an insinuation, and, therefore.. I do not think that the question of Senator Pulsford was correctly put.
– Is Senator Keating aware that Reuter’s Telegram Company code words for customers, and translate them?
– I believe that is so.
asked the Minister of
Defence,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
I understand that an opinion was given some time ago by the Attorney-General and the Crown Law officers that, as the police take an oath to serve the State, they cannot very well take an oath to ako serve the Commonwealth, because they, would be serving two masters. The difficulty of serving two masters is very great, and that is why the police are only called honorary members.
– May they receive the advantages ?
– They receive the rounds of ammunition., and all other advantages which are enjoyed by active members.
– In the statement I gave the Minister it was denied that thev did.
– I cannot help what the author of that statement denied. I am informed by my officers that the honorary members do receive all the advantages of the rifle clubs, and that is the only answer I can give.
– A policeman by any other name would shoot as straight.
– Yes; but he could not very well serve two masters. If on any occasion the State said to a policeman, “You must perform a certain duty for us,” and the Commonwealth said to him, as a member of a rifle club, “ You are required to perform a certain duty,” the orders might clash, and therefore these men are not called active members.
– Does the honorable senator think that he would be serving two masters under those circumstances?
– Undoubtedly. 3- No.
– Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask whether the Minister seriously intends the Senate to understand that a policeman takes an oath to serve the State, and may be asked to take a separate oath to serve the Commonwealth? In other words, is it not a fact that he takes an oath in either case to serve the King, and under these circumstances how does any question of serving two masters arise in connexion with the oath?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of that question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Referring to the number of dutiable ingredients enumerated by the Minister for Defence on Wednesday as being delivered free Fo the tobacco manufacturers of the Commonwealth last financial year, will the Minister obtain a report from a qualified analyst as to whether any of these ingredients placed in the tobacco is injurious to the health of smokers?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “Yes.”
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th October, vide page 4147) :
Postponed clause 12 -
Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following words : - “ Provided that, until the then next ensuing dissolution or expiration of the House of Representatives, the redistribution shall not affect the election of a new member to fill a vacancy happening in the House of Representatives ; but for the purposes of any such election the Electoral Divisions as theretofore existing, and the Rolls in respect of those Divisions, shall continue to have full force and effect, notwithstanding that new Rolls for the new Divisions have been prepared.”
– Since the previous sitting of the Committee, I have decided to submit my proposal, not as a new clause - as I originally intended - but as an amendment to this clause. In. view of a discussion which has taken place on matters which are fresh in the memory of some honorable senators, I do not propose to discuss my proposal at this stage. I move -
That the words “ Section twenty-one of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following words “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof : - “ Sections twenty, twenty-one, and twenty-two of the Principal Act are repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “ The Governor-General shall thereupon by proclamation declare the names and boundaries of the divisions and those divisions shall until altered in accordance with this Act be the electoral divisions for the State.’ “
– I contend that Senator Millen asks the Committee to repeal sections to the principal Act, which, not being before us in the Bill under consideration, we have no right to appeal. Those sections briefly provide as follows : - That a Commissioner shall be appointed for the purpose of dividing the States into electoral divisions ; that he shall divide them ; that he shall supply a report, with maps, to Parliament within seven days after the .commencement of the following session ; and that Parliament may or may not adopt the divisions submitted by the Commissioner. Parliament has the supreme control as to whether his recommendations shall be accepted or not. Parliament has power absolutely to reject the proposed divisions. Senator Millen proposes that we shall have three Commissioners ; that they shall have the power to cut up the States into electorates or divisions ; and that those divisions shall stand without reference to Parliament. I contend that that is a new principle, and that, in accordance with the rulings of the President with respect to the amendments of Senator Mulcahy and Senator O’Keefe. it is not competent for this Committee to insert provisions embodying a new principle in that way. I should like to quote briefly from the ruling of the President with reference to Senator O’Keefe’s amendment. In that case fie said -
But I do say this - that when this Bill was read a second time, it did not contain the important principle that is now sought to be enunciated in it. There was no discussion on that principle. Although Senator O’Keefe mentioned the matter, there was not, I say, any discussion on the principle of his proposed amendment at the secondreading stage.
– Senator Symon mentioned it also, and spoke at length regarding it.
– That may be so; but if we adopt the principle which is attempted to be laid down, and allow an amendment like this, to be inserted in the Bill in Committee, where are we going to land ourselves.
Further on the President said -
What is the test by which a proper practice^ can be arrived at? It is - what was contained in the Bill when the Bill was read a second time. The Bill having been read a second time, can it then be radically altered in Committee by putting in some great principle of far-reaching importance, not contained in the original Act itself? It appears to me that we ought not to adopt any such practice. If we did, no one would know what was going to happen. No one would know, after a Bill had been read a second time, what novel principle might be introduced into it in Committee.
Every word uttered by the President on that occasion is distinctly applicable to the present case. Senator Millen’s proposed amendment was not before the Senate when the Bill was read a second time. It was not proposed to take away from Parliament the final power of review. The question was never discussed, except by Senator Millen himself ; and the President has ruled that 110 matter how many senators discuss a question on the second reading, so long as it is not contained in the Bill, it is not competent to introduce such a principle in Committee. I maintain that, in accordance with that practice, this amendment must be ruled out of order.
– In view of the ruling given by the President in regard to Senator O’Keefe’s proposed amendment - a ruling which was sustained by the Senate - 1 must rule Senator Millen’s amendment out of order. I think it is a far-reaching proposal ; and if the amendment of Senator O’Keefe did not come within the scope of the amending Bill, Senator Millen’s amendment would appear to me to be outside its scope, as not Being relevant to the subject-matter of the amending Bill. Take, for example, section 20 of the principal. Act, which Senator Millen proposes to repeal. That section provides that the report of the Commissioner, together with the map - shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament within seven days after its receipt, if the Parliament is in session, and if not, then within seven days after the commencement of the next session.
It is also proposed to repeal section 22, which gives both Houses of the Parliament power by resolution to approve or disapprove of any proposed distribution. I consider that Senator Millen’s amendment does not come within the scope of the work of this Committee - that is to say, provided that The practice of the Senate is to remain in accord with the principle of taking out of the hands of the Committee any proposal similar to that moved by Senator O’Keefe some days ago. Therefore I rule the proposed amendment out of order.
– I beg to intimate that I dissent from your ruling.
– My ruling having been dissented from, I shall report to the President.
In the Senate.
The Chairman of Committees. - When clause 12 of the .Bill to amend the Electoral Act was under consideration in “Committee, Senator Millen proposed to insert certain words, and to repeal certain sections, of the principal Act. The sections affected are Nos. 20, 21, and 22, which give to the Houses of Parliament certain powers.. Senator Millen’s proposal takes away from Parliament those powers which it now possesses. It seems to me that the amendment is outside trie, scope of the Bill. I ruled in that way, and Senator Millen has intimated his dissent from my ruling, as follows : -
I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that an amendment of section 12 of the Bill providing for an amendment of sections 20, 21, and 22 of the Act, so as to make the report of the Commissioners appointed to divide a State into electorates final, instead of being subject fo Parliamentary veto, is not in order, on account of such clause not being within the scope and purpose of the Bill.
– I wish to point out what appears to me to be the vital difference between the amendment which I have submitted and the amendment upon which you have previously ruled. So far as I understand your ruling, it laid down this broad line of demarcation - that the Bill with which we are now dealing was exclusively a machinery Bill. I wish to point out wherein the amendment which I have moved is of a character entitling it to be incorporated in the Bill, if the Committee sees fit to pass it. If you will refer to the sections of the Act which I propose to amend you will notice that Part III. is headed “ Electoral Divisions.” You will find that, so far as there is a principle in that part of the Act, it is embodied in Mie first section. Section 12 states - each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions equal in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen therein, and one member of the House of Representatives shall be chosen in each division.
I say that it is entirely a matter of machinery as to how the principle is to be given effect to. What is that machinery? Having laid it down first of all that ai State shall be divided into equal electoral divisions, the! Act goes on to provide by whom that division shall be carried out, and the principles which are to guide the Commissioner intrusted with the task of designing, the subdivisions. All that I seek to do is to alter the constitution of the body empowered to design that scheme. The mere question of whether my amendment takes away some power of Parliament is altogether outside the issue. For this reason: that already Parliament has parted with some portion of its power in appointing one Commissioner under the Act to divide the States into electorates.
– Subject to parliamentary veto.
– Subject to parliamentary veto, it is true. But still, under the law as it stands to-day, Parliament delegates a portion of that work to somebody outside Parliament. All I am seeking to do is to provide that Parliament shall delegate, not a portion of its work, but the whole of it. (
– And leave it to a body outside Parliament. Surely that is a principle?
– How can it be held to be a principle whether Parliament delegates a portion of its work or the whole of its work? It appears to me to be wholly a question of machinery as to whether Parliament will intrust a man to do certain work, and accept his work, or say that it will not necessarily accept his work. It is simply a question of the extent to which Parliament will delegate its duty to somebody outside. If you, sir, will turn to clause 14 of the Bill, you will find that that is an attempt to disturb the machinery by which the States are divided into electorates. In’ clause 12 also there is a direction disturbing the machinery as it now exists.
– But not taking away the power of Parliament.
– I have pointed out that Parliament has already decided to delegate a! portion of its work to an outside Commissioner, and all that I am proposing to do is to go a little further and delegate the whole .of the work. It is not a question of principle, but of degree.
– It is a question of principle whether Parliament shall or shall not have a right of review.
– I think that where Parliament has already delegated a portion of the work to somebody outside, it can only be said to be a question of degree, and not of principle, whether it delegates more or less of that work. Clause 12, you will see that it adds additional provisions to the machinery by which this work is to be carried out. Clause 14 distinctly does so by indicating the conditions which shall necessarily exist prior to the issuing of a proclamation ordering a fresh distribution. The whole of
Part III. of the Bill, while in no sense disturbing the principle of Part. III. of the Act, which provides for equal electoral districts, opens up the question of machinery ; and I submit that my amendment is simply a variation, not of the principle of section 12 of the Act, but of the machinery by which the’ principle is sought to be given effect to.
– Senator Millen contends that there is a vital difference between the amendment he now proposes and the amendment of Senator O’Keefe, which was yesterday ruled out of order. Personally, I cannot see any such vital difference. A matter of principle is involved in both cases, and, in accordance with the President’s ruling, the amendments are not in or[der, because neither principle was contained in the Bill on the second reading. Senator Millen says that his amendment is merely a question whether a part or the whole of our powers ought to be delegated to a body outside Parliament. The honorable senator’s argument cannot possibly stand if we view it in the light of other powers which Parliament delegates. Is it not a fact that Parliament does not draft its own Bills, but delegates that power to the parliamentary draftsman ? But will it be contended that we ought to give the parliamentary draftsman power to, in effect, pass those Bills and make them legal enactments? Such an argument is ridiculous on the face of it. What will be the effect of Senator Millen’s amendment if it be ruled in order, and carried? The effect will be to take away certain powers of review which Parliament already possesses, and to place in the hands of an outside body the power to say whether or not a redistribution scheme shall stand. That is an exceedingly important principle which was not in the Bill on its second reading. Such a proposal was not discussed on that occasion, save by Senator Millen himself, and, therefore, in accordance with the ruling already given, I respectfully submit that the honorable senator’s amendment is out of order.
– Senator Millen’s argument that this amendment merely deals with machinery is, in my opinion, straining the position. The Act practically declares that, as it is inconvenient for Parliament to map out boundaries, the work shall be given to a Commissioner, retaining the power to Parliament to determine the boundaries. The amendment of Senator Millen, on the other hand, declares that the power to map and determine boundaries shall be exercised by Commissioners ? Surely there is a principle involved in such a proposal ? One of Senator Millen’s own arguments was that Parliament could exercise the power in a way not in the best interests of the country.
– The honorable senator admits that it is inconvenient for Parliament to map out electoral boundaries, and I have endeavoured to show that it is equally inconvenient for Parliament to revise boundaries.
– Parliament would not be inconvenienced in the slightest in accepting or rejecting, a distribution scheme; but it is unwise that Parliament should have the power to map out the .boundaries. Surely Senator O’Keefe’s amendment, on which the President’s first ruling was given, involved a question of degree ? The vote of an elector was not proposed to be taken away ; it was a question as to the degree in which the voter should exercise his power. There was no proposal to disfranchise or to confer additional voting power on anybody, and that amendment might well have been regarded as involving only a matter of degree. The amendment before us involves what is essentially a question (of principle, and it is a principle which I favour. If the ruling is to be that questions of principle not embodied in the Bill before its second reading cannot be dealt with in Committee, surely this is a question of the kind.
– Senator Millen, in moving this amendment, has, I think, been prompted by the consideration that there is a principle involved in the parliamentary power to review the work of the Commissioner. The honorable senator and those who support him think that the question of electoral boundaries should be left to a body entirely outside Parliament, and that opinion is based simply on a question of principle. They contend that it is a bad principle that members of Parliament should be allowed to review, and either reject or accept, the work of the Commissioner, because members of Parliament themselves are personally interested. It is entirely because Senator Millen does not agree with the principle of parliamentary review that he submits the amendment ; and for him to contend that we are concerned merely .with’ the question of machinery savours of the farcical. Senator Pearce has emphasized very strongly the point to which I myself had intended to call attention. It the amendment is to be considered merely a matter of degree, surely the amendment which I desired to submit, but which was ruled out of order - and thereby made the means of creating a precedent - was far more a question of degree. In disputing the
President’s ruling yesterday, I said-
– It is not desirable that the honorable senator should discuss that matter now.
– If that is your opinion, sir, I shall, of course, bow to your ruling.
– I feel that in this case I may permit the honorable senator to refer to the amendment on which the ruling was given yesterday.
– I have no desire, sir, to question the ruling which lias already been given, except in so far as to institute a comparison with the present case. I yesterday pointed out that my amendment simply raised the question of whether an elector should have the power to vote for three candidates or one; and surely it is a question of degree, whether a voter shall exercise the power conferred on him under the Electoral Act, in whole or only in part. If the English language has any meaning, it must be evident to every honorable senator that my amendment involved a question of degree.’ But that the amendment now under discussion is merely a matter of degree, I cannot accept for a moment. We have before us two alternative propositions. It is provided that the redistribution or revision of electoral boundaries shall be left in the hands of a Commissioner. But yesterday we decided that there shall be three Commissioners instead of one; but the Act still contains the principle that whatever schemes may be prepared shall be subject to revision by Parliament - they must run the gauntlet for acceptance or rejection by members of Parliament before they become law. I cannot conceive of a greater question of principle than whether Parliament itself shall have the power to review the work of its servants, or that the work of those servants, whether Parliament thinks it to be bad or good, shall become law. The question is whether Parliament shall definitely and finally place the whole of the power in the hands of Commissioners, or whether the right to review shall lie retained. Senator Millen can scarcely be serious in asserting that his amendment does not involve a question of principle.
– I was never more serious in my life.
– We are now creating our own precedents, instead of relying, on precedents created a century or a century and a half ago; and in view of the ruling given yesterday, I trust that consistency will be observed, and this amendment ruled out of order. I do not take that stand because I object to the amendment - that is not a matter for discussion just now - but merely because I am of opinion that, in the light of the ruling already given, this amendment cannot properly be discussed by the Committee.
– Thecontention that it is not competent for Senator Millen to submit this amendment is based on the ruling previously given, and the question to be decided is whether the present amendment is analogous to that previously moved by Senator O’Keefe. It seems to me that the two amendments arenot in the same category. The amendment of Senator O’Keefe involved a question of supreme importance, namely, whether an elector should, where six members had to be elected, give six voiles, or one, two, or three votes, as he deemed fit. That amendment struck at the very basis of our parliamentary representation, and I contend that it involved a great principle. I can quite understand the ruling that it was not competent for the Committee to discuss at that stage so drastic an amendment in our franchise. I contend, however, that the amendment now before us is in a. different category. This, as the President has stated, is a machinery Bill, and what is the purpose of the amendment? The Constitution lays down the quota, and provides that the electorates shall be numerically equal. The question raised by the amendment is not as to the size of the electorates, or the number of electors, but as to the conformation of the electorates. That is purely a matter of detail, and it cannot be elevated into a question of great principle. It is said that it is proposed that Parliament shall give away its right of veto, but I have shown that the question involved is merely one as to the boundaries of electorates, and there is no proposal to increase or decrease them numerically.
– They might be increased or decreased numerically.
– That might be done in either case, by Par- liament or by the Commissioners. The amendment on which the President previously ruled certainly involved a fundamental principle, but in my opinion it is quite competent for Parliament to delegate to three Commissioners plenary powers or advisory powers, asit pleases, in connexion with the distribution of a State into divisions.
– I do not base my objection to the amendment on the ruling given by the President on. a previous amendment. I do not agree with that ruling.
– The Senate accepted the ruling, and it is now the Senate’s ruling.
– I recognise that the Senate having accepted the ruling, it is now the Senate’s ruling, and I am sorry that it is. I do not base my objection to the amendment on that ruling, but on the ground that constitutionally we have not the power to delegate to Commissioners any of the powers of Parliament. We are here being asked to delegate to three Commissioners work that this Parliament was called into existence to do.
-The honorable senator is now discussing the merits of the amendment. We have not at this stage anything to do with the merits of the amendment, but with whether it is in order or not.
– I am pointing out that, in my opinion, we cannot constitutionally hand over powers vested in us, as senators elected by the people, to any body outside of Parliament. We are not by the Constitution authorized to hand over any power of legislation to any other body, and it is on that fact I base my objection to the amendment.
– I regret that I was prevented from hearing the President’s ruling on a previous amendment, which I understand is taken as the basis of the present objection to the Chairman’s decision. I have, however, done my best to ascertain what the ruling was, arid if I had been present I should have supported it. I recognise that it is based on the very broad distinction between principle and machinery. In discussing the present amendment we have nothing to consider but this question of principle versus machinery. The objection urged to Senator Millen’s amendment being regarded as a machinery provision is that the moment rights interfered with are the rights of Parliament a question of principle is involved. It is apparently assumed that, because the functions and powers of Parliament are in question, a matter of principle is directly and necessarily involved. I cannot agree with that reasoning. I agree entirely with Senator Millen, who has pointed out that the principle involved in this case is contained in section 1 2 of the original Act, which provides that each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions. The succeeding sections of Part III. of the Act indicate alternately principles and machinery provisions. The sections which the amendment affects, sections 20, 21, 22, and 23, really indicate that Parliament has decided that it shall itself be part of the machinery for giving effect to the principle contained in section 12. I can see no reason why Parliament should not be a part of the machinery established to carry out a law. In placing upon itself the responsibility of taking a part in carrying out the principles contained in section 12, Parliament, if it had chosen, might have adopted an alternative course, and delegated this power, for instance, to the High Court. If, instead of sections 20, 21, 22, and 23, as they now appear in the principal Act, there had been sections delegating to the High Court the final task and thereby employing it as a part of the machinery for carrying out completely the principle embodied in section 12, no one would have denied that Senator Millen’s amendment was perfectly in order. In the very Bill which we have been discussing, we have in almost innumerable instances recognised that the functions of certain parts of the machinery provided for might be added to, or subtracted from. I remind honorable senators, for instance, of the duties assigned to assistant returning officers in giving effect to the principle of postal voting. In the original Act we decided, as a matter of principle, that postal voting should be allowed, and in. providing machinery to carry out that principle we invested assistant returning officers with certain powers. In the amending Bill while adhering to the principle of postal’ voting, we have deliberately decided to add largely to the powers of the assistant returning officers as a part of the machinery provided to give effect to the principle. That is but one of many instances in which we have recognised that the machinery provided to give effect to the principles of our electoral law might be modified or altered in one form or another. I can see in the case before us no difference’ whatever. The question of principle does not arise because section 12 of the original Act still remains. The onlyargument which we have heard on the other side is, that because Parliament is involved, principle necessarily .is affected, and that argument is not a sound one. I am unable to understand how honorable senators can take up the position that . the functions of Parliament as part of the machinery for carrying out the law involve a principle, and that we cannot in any circumstances convert Parliament into part of the machinery provided) to give effect to the law. Nothing seems to me to be further from the truth, and in innumerable instances in connexion with other Acts that has been done.
– My opinion is just as strong in the other direction.
– I point out to ^Senator O’Keefe that in many other measures which we have passed, we have reserved to Parliament purely machinery rights. Nothing could be a greater travesty of the meaning of the word “ principle” than to say that the moment Parliament has duties imposed upon it by a law, no matter what the scope of those duties may be a question of principle immediately arises.
– We might just as well have reserved to Parliament the revision of the electoral rolls, and have called that a principle.
– We certainly might. Honorable senators must agree that there are innumerable instances in which Parliament is made a part of the machinery to give effect to a law. If that has been recognised in the case of other legislative measures, why it should not be recognised in this case. We can regard Parliament in this matter as intrusted with a certain duty, and in the performance of that duty it is nothing else but a part of the machinery to give effect to the principles of the law. If the President rules in this way he will rule in accordance with the ruling which he has already given, and will again assert the important distinction between principle and machinery.
– I am afraid that the rulings I have given concerning cognate matters to this are still misunderstood. They certainly have been misquoted. It has been stated that, according to my ruling, no principle can be moved as an amendment which is not embodied in the Bill. I never said or thought anything of the sort. It has also been stated that according to my ruling no novel principle can be introduced into a Bill. What I said was -
There can be no doubt as to what the test is. Standing order No. 194 says : - “Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the. subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise iri conformity with the rules and standing orders of the Senate.”
That is quite clear. We cannot get away from it. Therefore, we must consider the subjectmatter of the Bill, and whether Senator O’Keefe’s amendment is relative to that subject-matter.
Those words govern everything I subsequently said, and it was not necessary that I should repeat them three times or four times. The test which is laid down by the Standing Orders, which bind me as they bind the Senate until they are altered, is that when’ a Bill is before a Committee and an amendment is moved on it, the question to be considered shall be whether the amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. There is no other test. The Standing Orders do not say anything about the title of a Bill, or about an amendment being relative to any Act of Parliament, or any other document. It must be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and to that only. Any amendment relevant to the subjectmatter of this Bill can be moved, whether it contains a new principle, or whether it does not, and whether it refers to a clause in the principal Act proposed to be amended by this Bill, or does not. I can see no difference whatever between a Bill to amend, and a Bill dealing with a certain subject .for the first time.
– Will you, sir, permit me to ask whether Senator O’Keefe could have moved his amendment on a Bill dealing with this subject for the first time?
– No, I do not think he could. The. reason which guided me in the ruling I gave was that I did not consider the amendment proposed by Senator O’Keefe to be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. I consider it a different subject-matter altogether. The question of voting is not dealt with by the Bill. By altering the method of the exercise of a power or right you can practically alter that power or right. Therefore I .-consider that trie amendment which was moved by SenatorO’Keefe did not come within the meaning of the words of the standing order, because it was not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– May I ask a question, sir?
– I think that I ought to be permitted to finish what I have to say.
– This is the only opportunity I have to say that I think you have inadvertently made a misstatement.
– I am not conscious that I have made any misstatement. An amendment may be of vast importance, or it may be of no importance, but in either case it can be moved, provided that it is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. To hold that an amendment was out of order, because the principle it contained was not embodied in the Bill would be to destroy the value of the Committee. It could do nothing, because almost every amendment introduces a principle, of smaller or greater importance.
– If you will excuse me for interrupting you, sir, in your ruling on Senator O’Keefe’s amendment, you said that the proper test was “ what was contained in the Bill when it was read a second time.”
– Undoubtedly, but I read the standing order - and that governed all my remarks - that any amendment which was relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill was admissible. I do not see that it binds us in any way, but perhaps it will not be amiss if, having already referred to the practice in the British House of Commons, I refer to the practice in the United States. Its House of Representatives has a standing order which, although not word for word the same as ours, in my opinion means exactly the same thing -
No amendment can be moved to a Bill in Committee unless it is germane to its subject-matter.
Here is a case which happened there, and which seems to me to be on all-fours with the case of Senator O’Keefe’s proposed motion : -
A proposition to amend the Constitution by providing for the election of senators by popular vote is not germane as an amendment to a joint resolution to amend the Constitution by changing the date of the commencement and termination of the terms of senators and members.
In that case it was proposed to amend what we should call an Act of Parliament. The Constitution of the United States provides for the method of electing senators, and the period for which they shall sit. In a Bill to amend the period for which they can sit it was proposed to put in a clause referring to their election, and it was held to be not germane, and therefore not in order. I could not find a case in point in England, but here is a case where, on a proposal to amend an Act in a certain particular, it was ruled out of order to move to amend that Act in another particular, because the amendment was not germane to the subjectmatter of the Bill. I cannot see that anything can be clearer than that the practice of the Senate must be governed by the standing order. Now we come to the particular case : Is the amendment proposed by Senator Millen relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill now before us. As I have said over and over again, in my opinion the subject-matter of the Bill is to amend the electoral machinery. It contains a clause relative to electoral divisions. The whole question of electoral divisions is brought up for consideration, and two of the very sections of the Act which Senator Millen proposes to repeal are proposed to be amended by the Bill. How can it be said that this amendment is not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill? That it contains an alteration of great importance I am quite willing to admit ; but that is not the point. If the matter of great importance which is proposed to be inserted in the amendment were not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, then undoubtedly I should rule itout of order. But it seems to me that it is in order. I think that honorable senators will see that, although there can be no doubt as to what our test is, as to what our practice is, as laid down by, the standing order, still in a great many cases of this nature it must be almost a matter of opinion as to whether a proposed amendment is or is not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. Cases will arise on both sides in which it must be quite clear that the amendment either is or is not relevant, but there must be always a border-line : there must be always some amendments which are capable of beingsuggested, where it is difficult to arrive at a conclusion as to whether they are or are not relevant “ to the subject-matter of the Bill. In this case I consider that the Bill is one to alter the electoral machinery, that part of the electoral machinery proposed to be altered relates to electoral divisions, and that this amendment, although it is of great importance, is relevant to the subject-matter and can therefore be moved.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I object to your ruling, sir, and I, therefore, move -
That the President’s Ruling, on amendment proposed in the Electoral Bill, by Senator Millen, be disagreed with on the ground that it is inconsistent with previous rulings given by the President on other amendments moved in the same Bill.
– The debate stands adjourned until the next day of sitting.
– I would appeal to Senator Givens to reconsider the matter.
– The honorable senator can appeal as much as he pleases.
– It is too late now to do anything.
– Was not this point decided before, sir?
– No. I think that each ruling has been given on a different case and on a different set of facts.
In Committee :
Debate resumed from 25 th October (vide page 4043), on motion by Senator Keating -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When, by the courtesy of the Senate on Wednesday night, I was given leave to continue my speech, which, by the grace of the Government, I was required to commence at a somewhat late hour, I was endeavouring to point out that this Bill is complete so far as it provides the machinery by which the enumeration of the people shall be ascertained and adopted; but that it is incomplete in what should be the most vital part, in that it does- not state when and bv whom the quota - the determining factor which is to decide the number of members to which a State is entitled - shall be ascertained. I do not intend to do more than briefly touch upon one or two arguments to which I then referred. I am rather afraid that the principles of the Bill are likely to be obscured by its immediate effect. I have not approached the consideration of this subject from that point of view. I have endeavoured to deal with the principles of the Bill. It appears tome that if we were to take into consideration the immediate results the discussion would be most misleading, because they must be totally different from the results at the second enumeration. Whether a State will gain or lose a member at the first enumeration is not a factor which ought to determine our judgment. It is inevitable that readjustments must take place. If honorable senators will only look at the history of our own electorates, or of electorates in other countries, particularly the United States, they will find that population has never increased uniformly, but that certain portions of the country have shown a relatively greater increase than other portions. As the matter stands to-day, the various States of the Union are increasing in population at rates which show anything but uniformity. New South Wales is increasing at the rate of 1.87 per cent., whereas Western< Australia is increasing at the rate of nearly 9 per cent. While there ite a necessity for making provision for a redistribution, which is, from the natural order of things, inevitable, there is another reason, in addition to the varying rates of increase in ‘the population, why .we must provide for this redistribution scheme. Strange though it may seem, for the first few years of the Federation at any rate, as the population increases the number of representatives must go clown. That arises from the fact that in two States the number of members returned to the House of Representatives is in excess of the number to which they would be- entitled upon their bare quota. As those States increasein population, and can claim their representation upon their numbers, the House of Representatives, instead of, as to-day, consisting of seventy-five members, will’ have a tendency to come down to its proper numerical strength of seventy-two; always subject to the fact that an individual State may, by reason of its possessing more than half a quota, be entitled to an additional member, without depriving another State of one. For those reasons it is so utterly impossible to determine what State is to gain or lose a member that I ask honorable senators to consider the machinery which it is proposed to adopt quite apart from the immediate effect it may have upon the apportionment of representation. This Bill provides for two things, and two only, whereas I think it ought to- ‘ provide for three. It- provides a period’ of enumeration, and it determines what shall constitute an enumeration ; but it does not, though it ought to, provide for the redistribution of representation consequent upon that enumeration. Regarding the first - that is, the period of enumeration - I presume that honorable senators will agree -with me when I state that the period which shall intervene between one enumeration and another is not a matter of principle. It is a matter of detail. There can be no objection to making the census the factor determining a redistribution of representation. By keeping to the census it would mean that we should have a redistribution every ten years. The only difference between that and having a redistribution every five years is, I submit, not at all a matter of principle; it is a matter of expediency. It may be a matter as to which there may be many practical considerations for and against, but I cannot regard it as a vital principleof the Bill whetherwe shall have a redistribution every five or every ten years,’ or at any other reasonable period. I am not at all wedded to a particular period, and do not regard1 that as a prime factor in this Bill. The method of enumeration is hardly a matter of principle either. It is a matter of expediency to say how we shall determine these figures. I will only point out that if, as the Minister introducing the Bill indicated, we were to leave the redistribution to follow every census only, it would mean that many States would find that they were being deprived for a time of representation to which, under the Constitution, they were entitled.
– Others might get more representation than they were entitled to.
– That is assuming that the enumeration were not perfect. Neither the question of a five years as against a ten years’ redistribution, nor the method by which we determine the redistribution is, to my mind, a matter of principle. The question which should determine our decision should be a practical consideration of factors with which we are familiar. The only thing that I want to point out is that, if it were determined that we should have a census more frequently than every ten years, the cost would be rather appalling: A census, I understand, costs something like£120,000. If we do not have a redistribution more frequently than every ten years, if is questionable whether we shall not violate that provision of the Constitution which says that a redistribution shall take place “ whenever necessary.” That must be interpreted with some regard to the provision of the Constitution which sets out that the States shall be represented according to the numbers of their population. We should surely be ignoring that provision of the Constitution if we knew that a State was entitled to an additional member, and yet we delayed ascertaining the number of the people and the quota, or the determination and redistribution of representation, so long as to tide over an election, and thereby deprive the State of one of the representatives to which it. was entitled. The object of this Bill should be to reconcile those two conflicting points - the one requiring that redistribution shall be proportionate to numbers, and the other the overcoming of the practical difficulties, whether in the way of having a triennial readjustment, or an’ adjustment after each census, or at any other period. As to the figures; although objection has been taken to them, I may point out that the latest statistics have been regarded as good enough to determine the per capita basis of apportioning the cost of the Commonwealth amongst the various States, and the representation of each at the first election for this Parliament, ‘ and they should, therefore, be good enough for thepurpose of determining the representation to which the several States are entitled. When I made that statement previously, I was met with an interjection that they were the only figures available at the time of the passing of the Constitution. That is not correct. The figures which were then available were exactly the same as are available now.
– The figures embodied in the Constitution were prepared before the census of 1901. They were arrived at by a special conference of Statisticians, nine months before the census was taken.
– I do not follow the honorable senator. The census was taken in 1901.
– Nine months after the Constitution Bill was signed by her late Majesty.
– What was there to prevent the f ramers of the Constitution from putting in, not the statistics then put forward by the Statisticians, but the figures of the previous census? My honorable friend asks us to adopt the figures of the last census, and not disturb them until the next census is taken.
– Or have a new census.
– That is so. The same course was open to the framers of the Constitution. They were not bound to take the figures provided for them by the Statisticians. They could have taken the figures of the last census. But it was recognised that, owing to the varying rates of increase in the several States, that would have been an inequitable thing to do. I should like to draw attention to what was said at the Convention on this particular point. As reported at page 1838 of the debates of the Melbourne Convention, Mr. Higgins drew attention to the fact that a gap was left in the Constitution. That gap was left in order that at a later date the number of representatives allotted to each State might be filled in. Mr. Higgins asked whether the gap was to be filled up before the Bill was sent Home, or afterwards. The following is a quotation from the report : - .
Mr. O’CONNOR It is to be rilled up according to the latest statistical returns, at the date of the passing of the Act, by the Imperial Parliament.
Mr. Higgins. You leave it for the Imperial Parliament to fill in the gap?
Mr. O’CONNOR. Undoubtedly. The figures may change in the meantime.
Showing clearly that this, the first Parliament, was elected not upon the basis of the census figures, but upon those statistics and certain additions and subtractions made by the Statisticians.
– That is correct
– But the figures of the previous census could have been taken. Those figures were available. The framers’ of the Constitution had exactly the alternative that offers itself to us - the latest census statistics, or statistics brought down to date. But no one cavilled at the figures which were adopted, and those same figures have been taken as -the basis for the distribution of the expenditure of the Commonwealth over the various States.
– Every one knew that the census would be taken within nine months, and that the figures could then be corrected, if necessary.
– We have the same opportunity here. The alternative before the framers of the Constitution was to accept the actual statistics of the previous census, or revised figures ascertained by means of additions and deductions. That is exactly the alternative before us to-day.
I am not saying that it is better to take one set of figures or the other, but that the framers of the Constitution had the same option as we have. They selected the latest statistics, as this Bill does ; and to this extent the Bill is’ in good company. We have never heard any one, in this Chamber or out of it, protest against using those statistics for the purpose of ascertaining the per capita basis for the apportionment of the Commonwealth expenditure.
– That is a matter of very little importance compared with the other.
– A matter of very little importance to the honorable senator’s State; but if we are going to reject the latest statistics for the enumeration of representation, they are going to be rejected for the purpose of distributing the taxation of the Commonwealth. Taxation and representation should go hand in hand, and if the States are not to be represented according to the latest figures, they are not going to be taxed according to those figures. If we are going to reject the latest figures-
– The AttorneyGeneral of the Government which Senator Styles supports said they were guesses ‘ a little while ago. But while the Attorney-General denounced them in that way, he, absolutely found, when he had to bear the responsibilities of office, and was brought face to face with’ the problem, that there was no other alternative but to accept those figures vor have a fresh census. I wish to impress upon honorable senators this fact - that, if we do not accept the statistics provided for in this Bill, and if the Senate is not prepared for a quinquennial census, there must be a re-adjustment of our financial relationships. I decline to see the charges upon the State of ‘New .South’ Wales distributed upon one set of figures, and her representation based upon another set. The two have to go hand in hand. I invite honorable senators who think that the representation of their States may be affected by this Bill to consider whether I am not putting an equitable proposition before them when I say that if the statistics upon which expenditure is apportioned to-day are not sufficiently reliable to determine the representation of the States, they are not sufficiently reliable to determine the relationships of the States towards the Federal Treasury. I have said that I regard both the period of enumeration and the method by which ihe enumeration is to be obtained as largely matters of expediency, rather; than of principle. I now come to what to my mind is the over-shadowing principle which ought to be incorporated in the Bill - I refer to the automatic working of the. measure. Down to? clause 8, the Bill very clearly provides for the periods at which the enumeration is to take place, and indicates the officer who is charged with the responsibility of certifying to the enumeration, and what he is to do when, having obtained his information from the Statisticians, he is in a position to issue certificates. But all that is preliminary to what ought to be the main purpose of the Bill, which is really to determine the number of representatives to which each State is entitled. But what happens when we come to clause 8 - when we have placed the Chief Electoral Officer in a position to certify as to the number of people *in each State? That brings us to the point at which we are, as it were, in a position to determine the number of members to which each State is entitled; but on this very crucial point the Bill leaves everything just as it is provided in the Constitution. Clause 9 merely indicates the way in which the quota! shall be ascertained - it gives no indication as to when or by whom it shall be ascertained. I know; ‘that I am not entitled to refer to the proceedings elsewhere, bub I invite honorable senators to read the remarks which were made by the Minister in charge of the measure. It has been affirmed bv the sponsors of the Bill elsewhere, though certainly with less emphasis than in this Chamber, that this Bill does take away from, the Executive the very power to which I refer. I can only assume that those who made the statement were not familiar with the contents of the Bill. If honorable senators compare clause 9 with section 24 of the Constitution, they will find that the two are word for word, with the exception of a reference to the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer. Otherwise, the position is left entirely as laid down in section 24; and no one disputes that -under that section the whole power is in the hands of the Executive. I should like to remind the Senate of the statements made by Senator Keating on this very point when he introduced this Bill, in order to show that he recognised at once the desirability of taking this power out of the hands of the Executive. I think I have already shown that the Bil] leaves the matter in the hands of the Government. Senator Keating, when introducing the Bill, quoted the second paragraph of section 24 of the Constitution, a? follows : -
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner.
The! Minister went on to say -
The question naturally arises as to how the words “be determined” shall be understoodthat is to say, by whom the determination shall be made.
That is the very question I now ask in regard to this Bill. By, whom is the determination, to be made? The Minister’ went on to say that the defect of the Constitution is that it leaves the matter to the Executive ; and I say that the Bill does the same. There is no direction as to when or by whom the quota is to be ascertained ; the same indefiniteness which necessarily marks the Constitution, now marks and mars the Bill I propose to ask the Senate to so amend the measure as to make it quite clear whether the period shall, be five years, or ten. I am not particular as to which period is decided upon, but, whatever period or figures we adopt, the Bill ought to work automatically, some official being charged with the responsibility of ascertaining a quota, and determining the number of representatives to which each State is entitled.
– The quota cannot be determined unless the accurate, population is known, though a guess may be made.
– We must either adopt an actual count or a guess; but whichever it may be - whether the figures be good, bad, or indifferent is immaterial to the argument - it is necessary to determine the quota, and say what number of representatives each State is entitled to. Having once adopted certain figures as showing the population of the several States, it ought to be placed beyond the power of the Executive, or any Ministry, to delay a re-apportionment of the representation. The Minister in another portion of the speech he made when introducing the Bill, said-
The question arises how we are to determine the number of - members ; that is to say, who is to be responsible for the determination of the number.
It will be seen that the Minister himself asked the question, who is to be responsible for the determination of the number of members. I now ask the Minister to tell me who is to be responsible under this Bill?
– The Chief Electoral Officer.
– Is it so provided in the Bill? If the Minister intends that the Chief Electoral Officer shall be responsible, I ask why, while one portion of the Bill sets out that the Chief Electoral Officer is to ascertain from the Statisticians the number of the people of the several States, and that he is to issue a certificate showing the result of his inquiries, there is no mention of that officer being charged with the duties of ascertaining the quota? If the Minister says that under the Bill the Chief Electoral Officer is to be responsible for the duty, who is responsible under the Constitution, in which exactly the same words are used?
– The Chief Electoral Officer, under the control of the Minister of the Department.
– Will the Minister agree to an amendment providing that the Chief Electoral Officer shall be responsible ?
– I do not think that such an amendment is necessary.
– If the Minister will accept such an amendment I shall resume my seat at once, but if he refuses to act on the suggestion I wish to confront him with the position. In view of section 24 of the Constitution, which, as the Minister said in his introductory speech, leaves the matter absolutely to the Executive, I ask him now how he can read into the same words in the Bill an indication that the Chief Electoral Officer is to be responsible for carrying out the work therein indicated ? As I have already pointed out, section 24 contains exactly the same words that have been introduced into the Bill, with the difference that the Bill, instead of speaking of the “ latest statistics of the Commonwealth “ speaks of “ the number of people of the Commonwealth, as shown by the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer.” Neither in the Constitution, nor in the Bill, is there any provision as to by whom the quota shall be determined. It was clearly impossible, of course, to make such a provision in the Constitution, because the matter had to be left to’ the Executive until Parliament should otherwise provide. Parliament is now asked to make provision, and I ask whether we are prepared to give this power to the Executive? The danger of that course has been indicated by Ministers themselves, who have pointed out that the Executive might be asked to postpone a re-apportionment of members, if an election were coming on. However wellintentioned a Ministry might be, it is quite understandable that pressure could be so exercised as to cause a delay in redistribution. I do not wish to point out the many ways in which leaving a power of this kind to the Executive is to subject the Executive to unwholesome pressure. But the honorable member who introduced the Bill elsewhere was eloquent on the point, and clearly showed that, in his opinion, it is undesirable to leave such a matter to the Ministry ; indeed, he indicated a belief that the Bill did take away this power. The Bill, however, does nothing of the kind; and I am surprised that Senator Keating, after his admission that the Chief Electoral Officer will be charged with the duty, should resent the amendment suggested by me. I remind the Minister that in introducing this measure he said -
So soon, then, as these figures are ascertained -
That is, the figures either of the census or of the enumeration - the effect of this Bill will be to adopt them as the latest statistics of the Commonwealth for the purposes of section 24 of the Constitution. Proceedings can thereupon be taken in accordance with that section and clause 9 of the Bill for the re-apportionment of representation.
Mark the cautious words of the Minister - “ Proceedings can thereupon be taken.” It was only just that I should ask the Minister what he meant by the word “can,” and he replied -
Steps will be taken. I think there need be no doubt whatever about that.
Does the Minister mean to say that he can “ forecast what a future Ministry may do? I fancy the honorable gentleman would hesitate to predict the future action of his own Government, much less the action of any future Government, under a given set of circumstances. One of two positions arises - either the Ministry desire to keep this power within their” own hands, or they do not. If they do desire to retain the power, that opens up a clear-cut issue, and I shall certainly invite honorable senators to say that it is not a- power which ought to be, or can safely be, left in the hands of the Executive. On the other hand, if the Ministry do not desire to re- tain the power, they can have no objection to an amendment setting out that it shall be part of the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to ascertain the quota and issue a certificate, showing the number of members to which each State is entitled. Of what use is the Bill unless a provision of the kind is inserted, seeing that exactly the same words are used in the Constitution ? I maintain that the proposition in the Bill is exactly that which was made by the previous Government, and which present Ministers condemned. The previous Government proposed to do by Executive act what this Bill pretends to do by legislative act, but what it only in part does. The Minister, in another place, when introducing this Bill, quoted from the report of the Select Committee on electoral matters, but, as it seems to me, he failed to recognise the point of the quotation he made. The report of the Committee contained the following:
The returns of the population of the Commonwealth, upon which the determination of the “number of members of the House of Representatives were made, have been questioned. Your Committee recommend that in future it should be made certain that a uniform system for the determination of the population be adopted by the Statisticians of the States. In the absence of any definite rule under section 24 of the Constitution, your Committee are of opinion that Parliament should at an early date take into consideration -
What? Not the question of determining the number of people in the Commonwealth only, but - the question of fixing periods for the determination of the number of representatives of the several States.
The essence of that quotation is that Parliament should, at any rate, have fixed periods for the determination of the number of the representatives of the various States. But this Bill does nothing of the kind ; all it does is to fix the period for determining the number of people in the several States. I admit that we must ascertain the population before we can determine the representation, but it does not follow that, having determined the population, we shall go on and determine the number of representatives to which each State is entitled. The Committee laid it down as a principle, with which I have no doubt honorable senators will agree, that the Act of Parliament should provide not only for the method of determining the population but also, as a consequence, the number of representatives to which each State is en titled. The same remarks apply to the quotation ‘which the Minister made from Quick and. Garran. The honorable and learne’d senator used it as a justification for he Bill, but it really amounts to a condemnation of it, because Quick and Garran, in the quotation referred to, speaking of section 24 of the Constitution, say -
As the statistics are at the root of the representative system, it is important that they should be clearly recognised and identified by Act of Parliament -
This Bill does that, I admit ; but Quick and Garran go on to say - and even when that has been done it would be most undesirable that the Executive should be left to decide for itself whether a reapportionment were necessary.
I say that is exactly the point which this Bill fails to recognise, and which the Minister failed to recognise when he made use of the quotation. This Bill absolutely does leave this matter to the Executive; and, further, it gives no indication or direction as to when the Executive shall act, or whether they shall act at all. On this point we have the condemnation of Quick and Garran quoted by the Minister, the condemnation of the Committee, and the condemnation of the Minister’s own. remarks, when referring to the defect in the Constitution, in that it left these matters in the hands of the Executive, for that is exactly what this Bill does. I ask honorable senators not to confuse the two points involved in this Bill - the question with which I am now dealing, as to whether the apportionment Pt representation ought to Le automatic and free from parliamentary or Ministerial control, and the other question as to the methods and date of determining the number of the population. The methods and date on which we shall determine the number of the population are quite distinct from the question that, once having determined the number of the population, there ought to be a reapportionment of representation. The two former matters, on which my honorable and learned friend feels strongly, I do not regard as Vital principles, but I do regard it as absolutely- essential to the clean and effective working of our political machinery that these matters should be taken out of the hands of the Executive. It should be declared as emphatically and as definitely as we can declare it in an Act of Parliament that every portion of the Commonwealth shall automatically obtain the representation to which it is entitled under the
Constitution. The Minister does not venture to dispute that that representation ought to be apportioned immediately on the taking of the enumeration, but he seems to think that it is undesirable to declare in this Bill that that should be done, or by whom it should be done. I ask the Minister, when he replies, if he pays me the compliment of noting my objection, to say what possible harm can result from stating in the Bill that the Chief Electoral Officer shall ascertain the quota. That is all that I desire. If that is done the matter will then be left altogether beyond the possibility of being tampered with. The Minister says that it is unnecessary to put in the Chief Electoral Officer. Why is ,it necessary to state in the Bill that there shall be an officer to collect from the Statisticians the latest statistics? Why could not the Bill have said, as it does in clause 9., that these figures ^ shall be collected,” leaving 5t open as to who shall collect them ? The argument for- declaring that an officer shall ascertain the quota applies with double force. If it is necessary to indicate that it is the Chief Electoral Officer who shall ascertain from the Statisticians the latest figures and issue a certificate surely it is equally important to indicate the officer who shall ascertain the quota and determine the number of members to which each State is entitled? I propose when the Bill is in Committee to move amendments which will have the effect of charging the Chief Electoral Officer with the duty of determining the quota and the issuing of a certificate as to the number of representatives to which each State is entitled in exactly the same way as the Bill proposes he shall” issue a certificate as to the number of people in each of the States.
– That would be an amendment to clause 6.
– I feel a difficulty about making an amendment in clause 6. What I proposed to do was to suggest the insertion of two new clauses. I quite recognise that an amendment might be introduced into clause 6, which would carry out what I desire. I am merely indicating the amendments I shall propose now. I am not wedded to their form or the place in which they shall be introduced. If it is thought better to introduce them as amendments to clause 6, I shall be willing to fall in with that suggestion, but at present I think it better that they should be introduced as two separate clauses, the first of which would read as follows :-r-
The Chief Electoral Officer shall,, immediately upon the issue of the foregoing certificate -
That is the certificate as to the number of the population in each State - determine the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the several States in the following manner -
Then would follow clause 9 of the Bill, which indicates the manner in which the quota is to be determined. I suggest, then, the insertion of another new clause to follow clause 9 reading as follows: -
The Chief Electoral Officer shall forthwith, after he has determined the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the several States in accordance with this Act, make and forward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the number of such members.
I have followed the language of the corresponding clause dealing with the issue of a certificate by the Chief Electoral Officer as to the population of the different States. If these amendments are adopted it may be necessary to provide an additional schedule setting out the form of certificate to be issued by the Chief Electoral Officer stating the number of members to which each State is entitled. That, however, is a matter of detail. I have indicated the serious defect which’ seems to me to mar the whole purpose of this Bill, inasmuch as it leaves the really vital point entirely in the hands of the Executive. I again ask honorable senators to consider the marked difference between the two portions of the Bill. I do not regard as of much importance that which sets out the date and methods of determining the population. I do not regard it as vital whether we shall have a redistribution every five or ten years ; but it does appear to me that after we have ascertained the population and approved of the date on which it shall be ascertained, it is essential that, without any possibility of Executive manipulation, procrastination, or tampering in any form, the States shall receive as expeditiously as possible that fair measure of representation to which they are entitled by reason of their numbers”, and which the Constitution insures to them.
-.! wish to compliment Senator Millen on having covered a great deal of ground in connexion with this Bill. For ray part, I shall devote my whole attention to showing that the population returns submitted are absolutely unreliable, and that the men who have prepared them say that they axe, and have advised Parliament not to accept them. That is rather a sweeping statement.
– They have been ac- 1cepted as Commonwealth statistics for the purpose of apportioning expenditure.
– I am well aware that that has been stated time after time. Let me say that I hope honorable senators will accept my assurance that if Queensland were in the same position as Victoria is in to-day in regard to this matter, I should take the same stand. Let me add that Queensland will be in the same position as Victoria is in to-day within another year or so.
– Queensland will gain in population.
– If honorable senators are going to contradict me, I may as well give them the exact figures. I point out how the matter stands with’ reference to Queensland. Any one can test it for himself. The last figures, ascertained by the census, showed that Queensland had a population that would give her 9.48, or close upon ten representatives. I have here the Gazette published on the 29th April last, which shows that she is entitled only to 9.09, or slightly over nine representatives. That is an enormous difference shown by the return. The census is, of course, an actual count. That is one distinction to be borne in mind. I mention the matter only to show that the question may yet be raised as to whether Queensland should have nine members. South Australia, I find, is gravitating in the same direction. As this Bill affects States rights, I think it is a matter for regret that it was not introduced in the States’ House. Members of the Senate could have discussed it dispassionately, and without being open to the charge of looking after their own seats. It does not affect the Senate directly, and this would have been the proper place in which to have the Bill threshed out. At the same time, the Government, in my opinion, are deserving of credit for bringing the measure before Parliament, instead of dealing with the question by an Executive act. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill, and I shall give honorable senators my reasons. It has become almost a confirmed belief with many that Victoria has never been entitled to twenty-three members, and that New South’ Wales has always been entitled to more than twenty- six members. That has been constantly repeated to the public of Australia, in season and out of season. The Right Honorable G. H. Reid, with that astuteness for which I give him credit, delivered a policy speech at Hawthorn on the 22nd July last - a perfectly proper thing, no doubt, for a Prime Minister to do. His words carried great weight; they were addressed not merely to the people assembled an the Town Hall at Hawthorn, or to Victoria, but to all Australia. His references to this question were published in most of the principal newspapers of the Commonwealth, and were accepted as gospel. This is what the right honorable gentleman said -
At the first division Victoria had 1,100 over the half quota -
Of course, the right honorable gentleman meant “ under “ - for which it got a full member.
There is “no necessity to comment upon that. He went on to say -
In 1903 it had 2,200 over the half, for which it got the same extra member.
What the right honorable gentleman meant, of course, was that Victoria had 2,200 “ under “ the half quota. He further said -
New South Wales had always had the population for twenty-six members. They did not get a member because they had over half a quota, but because they had the full number for twenty-six.
– New South Wales has always been entitled to twenty-six.
– I propose to deal with Senator Pulsford presently. I could not let the honorable senator pass, and no doubt he knows what is coming. The peculiar thing about Mr. Reid’s remarks is that he does not make the slightest reference to the census. He jumps from his first division, by which he says Victoria had not a sufficient population to justify twenty-three members by 1,100. At one jump he passed on to the second conference of Statisticians which was held in September, 1903. The figures referring to the “first division” were framed by a conference held specially for the purpose, tout that fact he did- not prefer to. No advocates of this change will mention where the figures have come from ; they were so discredited bv the census that thev have disappeared from all works issued since that time. These conferences were not worth a rush. I do not desire to reflect upon the Statisticians, whom I believe to be very capable men, but they cannot do impossibilities. The Victorian Year Book for 1902 contains this record - 1900, February 22nd. Conference of statisticians of the six Federating States in Sydney to estimate on a uniform basis the population of the different States, so as to decide the number of members of the House of Representatives to be allotted to each State in the first Federal Parliament.
That was a very proper thing to do. These are the figures, to which Mr. Reid referred, which were sent to England, and on which the first allotment of members was made. The fact of the matter is that New South Wales was shown to have a population equal to returning 26.21 members, while Victoria was shown to have a population equal to returning 22.48 members, or 1,133 persons less than the half-quota. These figures were published in Coghlan’s Seven Colonies, issued in December, 1900, that is, within three and a half months from the” taking of the census, but they have never appeared in any work published since that time. The explanation is very simple.
– The facts were obtained afterwards, and I suppose replaced the estimates.
– Having these figures before him, and being desirous of showing that Victoria - a protectionist State - was over-represented, the honorable senator asked for a. return, which was such a curious document that I could not help keeping it. Within eleven weeks from the swearing-in of the first Parliament, he asked for this return. Perhaps I might have done the same thing if I had been a free-trader and mad on free-trade. He wanted, of course, to see that New South Wales got as many representatives as possible.
– Was the honorable senatora free-trader once?
– No; I have always been sane. Apparently, Senator Pulsford anticipated that the return, when produced, would create some surprise, but the only man who was surprised was, himself. On the 26th July, 1901, he moved -
That a return be prepared and laid on the table of this House, showing the population of each State as at the end of 1899,
He wanted to know whether the census would disclose that Victoria was not entitled to twenty-three members, and that
New South Wales was entitled to more than had been allotted to her, such return to be based on the census results, the natural increase for the preceding fifteen months being deducted, together with the needful allowance for increase or decrease by immigration or emigration. Such return to include a calculation showing the quota and the number of members which each State would be entitled to send to the House of Representatives on such basis.
The honorable senator has not opened his. lips about the return since it was produced.
– If the honorable senator will refer to the report of my speech in Hansard, he will find that the return I asked for, and obtained, was entirely with reference to Queensland. I expressed the opinion in the Senate that that State was really entitled to ten members, and it was on its behalf that the information I asked for was obtained. I had no thought in my mind about Victoria or New South Wales.
– At the time Queensland was almost entitled to ten members ; but according tothe return for December, 1904, the Statisticians have reduced the number to the bare nine. Had her population been 2,000 more at the census, she would have been entitled to another member. But this guess-work return, prepared as for the 31st December, 1904, would reduce her representation to a fraction over nine members. I do not imply that Mr. Reid would deliberately state what he did not believe to be true. I suppose that some person - probably Senator Pulsford - prepared for him figures which were not reliable, and then, of course, he was accused of making misstatements. Instead of showing that New South Wales was better entitled to twenty-six members than was Victoria to twenty-three members, Senator Pulsford’s return showed just the contrary.
– He has already told the honorable senator that he did not ask for the return with any object of that kind.
– I accept the disclaimer; but the return is signed by Mr. Coghlan, and it shows that on the first division, and despite Mr. Reid’s statement to the contrary, New South Wales had a population which entitled her to 25.96 members, while Victoria had a population which entitled her to 23.05 members, so that the position of the latter in this regard was slightly better than that of New South Wales. My only desire is to point out how unreliable these guess-work statements are. The census showed that on the first division the population of New South Wales had been over-estimated by 17,022, and the population of Victoria underestimated by 25,884. The sum total of the two errors was 42,906.
– The honorable senator means that Victoria had a little more than its quota, and now has a little less.
– What I contend is that Victoria had more than the population to entitle her to twenty-three members, while New South Wales had not the population to entitle her to twenty-six full quotas. I was always under the impression that “ statistics “ meant a collection of facts. According to the wayin which the word is used in this Bill, it means a collection of facts and fictions or guesses. Like Senator Millen, Ido not care two straws whether the question of altering the representation of any of the States is considered every three, or five, or ten years. But I contend thatwe should have an accurate count of the population before any alteration is made. He took the words out of my mouth the other day when he said that forthe last 100 years, in the United States they have been guided by the census, and. nothing else. In Canada, too, there is an actual count of the people before an alteration is made. In that mighty country - the United States - the movements of population have been quite as marked as in. Australia, but it has not been thought necessaryto alter the representation between one census and another. Senator Pulsford’s return, furnished by Mr. Coghlan, shows that on census day, the 31st March, 1901, New South Wales was entitled to 25.88 members, and Victoria to 22.92 members ; and a subsequent publication of Coghlan’s dated December, 1902, shows that in this regard Victoria had a slight advantage over New South Wales. Senator Millen said that either the census or an estimate based on the latest statistics had to be taken before the figures were sent to England. The Statisticians took guess-work returns, and made the best job they could of them. But at that time they knew that the census would be taken within ten or twelve months, and assumed that the Commonwealth Parliament would rectify any wrong whichit might disclose. The present
Government have taken up this matter, at which they laughed when the Reid Government was in office. If I could refer to private conversations, Icould surprise honorable senators a little more; but certainlyI was never more surprised in my life than when I found that the present Government were going to deal with this question without first taking a census of the people. Mr. Reid spread this statement broadcast over Australia - I shall say in good faith, if honorable senators like- and I can easily understand that the incoming Government could hardly allow his statement to pass, because, if they had, their New South Wales supporters would have said, “If Mr. Reid had remained in power, our State would have had another member.” So the Government took up the question, and the Minister of Home Affairs brought in a Bill without, so far as I can see, making the slightest reference to a census when he was moving its second reading. We have heard a great many statements about the conferences of Statisticians. There have been two conferences held, and that is why I asked Senator Millen the other day which conference he was referring, to.
– To that held in September, 1903.
– It does not seem to be generally known that in September, 1903, a conference of Statisticians was held, not for the purpose of dealing with the census, but for the purpose of considering a uniform basis of estimating the population. The report contains these recommendations -
We know that the frontier line of New South Wales is about 1,500 miles long. Queensland also has a long border-line : and Victoria has a border line of 800 or 900 miles in length. I should like to know how the Statists are to form the slightest idea as to the number of people who travel backwards and forwards across those borders. They can ascertain the departures by rail, but I cannot understand how any one can accept such a piece of guesswork as a method of dealing with such an important subject, as is dealt with in this Bill. The document proceeds -
I should like to make it quite clear that a misunderstanding exists on the minds of a good many members of Parliament, and a good many writers, as to how the total population of Australia is arrived at. At first sight it might appear that the six Government Statists prepare a return of the total population, and that the result must be something near correct, as each of the six men checks the others. But that is not so at all. Each Statist estimates the population of his own State, and the results are simply added together, as any school boy might add them. Each Statist is responsible only for the figures relating to his own State. He gets as near to accuracy as he can. He may be nearly correct, or he may be very wide of the mark. Although they may estimate on a uniform basis, if that basis happens to be wrong the error is not multiplied six times over, but every one of the six States makes a miscalculation, and the greater the mistake in the basis the further the calculation is wrong in the end. I intend to refer to a couple of documents which have not been made public. I have to thank the Premier of Victoria for having placed at my disposal copies of these, letters, which were addressed by the Victorian Statistician, Mr. McLean, to the Commonwealth Treasurer in the Reid-McLean Government, Sir George Turner. I think that if honorable senators pay attention to these documents they will alter their opinion considerably as to the value ‘of the Statists’ returns. Mr. McLean was the chairman of the conference held .in Melbourne two years ago last month. The letters which he wrote to Sir George Turner have neither been published, nor have they been referred to by members of the present Government. I absolve the Government from any blame on that account. I do not suppose that they knew of the existence of the letters. But I happened to hear of ‘them, and asked Mr. Bent to give me copies. I must admit that they rather surprised me. I thought there was something behind, because I noticed that an honorable member in another place referred to a small paragraph in one letter. That is the; only reference I can find to any of these letters, one of which is equal in length to a column of the Age. The chairman of the conference wrote to Sir George Turner on 4th March last, and in his letter he refers to the report of the Statists. He says -
The only direction in which serious error” can lie is in the allowance that has been made for the unrecorded arrivals and departures. This allowance for “all” the States is now on the basis of the error of estimate which occurred during the ten years 1891-1901, and it may or may not be correct ; but this cannot be ascertained until a further census is taken in all the States.
Remember that this letter is written by the chairman of the conference, who tells us that the figures may or may not be correct.
– They are founded on the experience of the previous ten years.
– They show how unreliable these estimates are. Here is another extract from the letter. I was staggered when I saw this -
During ten years 1S91-1901 in New South Wales the excess of immigration over emigration, according to census returns, which must be taken as accurate, was only 223, and during the three and three-quarter years, 1901, 1902, igo3, and 1904, since the last census the estimated excess of immigration was 22,127.
– That included thousands who went to South Africa.
– A printed return with Mr. Coghlan’s name appended to it was furnished to the conference, which shows that, during the ten years mentioned, from one census period to another, the actual increase of the population of New South Wales by migration was only 223 persons. Yet the estimate now is that during the first three and three-quarter years since last census day, there has been an excess of immigration of over 22,000.’ In order to emphasize the unreliability of these guesswork figures, the chairman of the conference, on the 20th March last, wrote -
I do not see that any guarantee can be given that, although the estimated population of all the States has been placed on a uniform basis, the liability to error has been lessened. Allowances have always been made in all the States for unrecorded departures, and speaking for Victoria, I am of opinion that our estimates for 1901-1911 will not be more free from error than those of the period 1S91-1901.
When we get a statement like that from the chairman of the conference, surely honorable senators should pause before interfering with the representation of a State. If a State is unjustly deprived of a member, a wrong is done to her. If another State gets a member apportioned to her to which she has no right, that is a wrong done, to the other five States. This appears to me to be a much more important matter than the mere apportionment of expenditure amongst the people according to population. That is not of very great consequence, and as soon as the bookkeeping period ends it will not matter what the population of the States is from that point of view. Mr. McLean, in his second letter also says -
In New South Wales the probabilities are that the allowance will be found to be too low, and the estimated population too high, and I Ease this opinion on the following grounds : - (1) The actual increase in population by migration in New South Wales in 1891-1901 was 223. (2) During the nine months ended 31st December, 1901, the estimated increased by migration was 4,058; during1902 it was 6,903; during 1903 it was 4,539 ; during 1904 it was 6,627.
Although during the ten years from census to census there was only an increase of 223 in New South Wales, or 22 per annum, according to the estimated figures there was, between the 31st March, 1901, and the end of 1904, an increase from the same cause of 22,127. Surely there must be something wrong somewhere. [Debate interrupted.]
– I beg to announce that the Governor of Western Australia, Admiral Sir Frederick. Bedford, desires to attend’ the ‘meeting of the Senate this afternoon, and that, with the consent of honorable senators, I propose to ask His Excellency to take a seat on the floor of the Chamber.
Honorable Senators.- Hear, hear.
Debate resumed -
– I have here the report of the Select Committee which was appointed to inquire into electoral matters, and was presided over by Mr. L. E. Groom, the present Minister of Home Affairs. The report is dated 28th October, 1904, and it contains the following paragraph : -
The returns of the population of the Commonwealth,upon which the determination of the number of members of the House of Representatives was made, have been questioned. Your Committee recommend that in future it should be, made certain that a uniform system for the determination of the population be adopted by the Statisticians of the States.
That report was prepared thirteen months after there had been a conference of Statisticians in Melbourne, with the object of devising a uniform basis of estimating the population.; and I think that it is only fair to assume that the Select Committee were dissatisfied with the result of that conference. Yet we now find Mr. Groom, as Minister, adopting in the Bill before us the very methods recommended by the conference. A little while ago I drew attention to the great discrepancy there was between the population of New South Wales on the 31st December, 1899, as estimated by the conference of Statisticians in February, 1900, and the actual figures as disclosed by the census of 1901. Senator Millen fell into the same mistake that was made in another place when he estimated the mistake in the figures at 12,000; because in December, 1899, the population of New South Wales, as published, was 1,356,650, whereas the census, taken fifteen months later, showed that the population of New South Wales was not so large by 1,804. A number of persons equal to the net natural increase must, in addition to the 1,804, have left the State; so, that the total loss, according tothe figures, was 30,582 in fifteen months. But I do not believe that New South Wales lost anything like that number of people; indeed, probably the State lost no population. These estimates made by conferences are very wide of the mark, and certainly not sufficiently accurate on which to alter the representation of one State, much less the representation of all the States. In regard to Victoria over the same period, the population of the State, as estimated by the same conference, and laid before the British Parliament, was 1,163,400, whereas, the figures, as disclosed by the census, were 1,201,070, or nearly 38,000 more than the conference estimate. The sum total of the errors made in the two States must, therefore, have exceeded 68,000. I have referred on two or three occasions to a long letter written by Mr. McLean, the Government Statist of Victoria, and chairman of the conference of Statisticians, which was held in 1903 for the very purpose of arriving at some uniform basis for estimating the population. Mr. McLean wrote this letter on the 4th March of this year to Sir George Turner, and in it he refers to the estimates, on which the ReidMcLean Government were going to act had they remained in power. In that letter, the “Victorian Government Statist said: -
These estimates, brought forward from the census of 10,01, to the end of 1904, although prepared on a uniform basis for each State, are not necessarily more accurate than those estimates which were published during the decennial period 1891-1901.
A uniform basis was recommended by the Select Committee presided over by Mr. Groom ; but I have just read what Mr. McLean said on the matter. The letter went on to give some figures which, to my mind, are rather curious, showing, as they do, that the population of New South Wales in 1894 was over-estimated to the extent of 12,202. I have previously pointed out that, according to the Victorian Government Statist, New South Wales, in order to possess the population she is now assumed to have, must have experienced a net increase by migration alone of 22,000 persons in three years and three-quarters, although during the whole ten years previously, from one census to another, the increase had been only 232 persons. In his letter, the Victorian Government Statist adds : -
If the population of New South Wales be over estimated only to the extent of a little more than 1,000, that State would only be entitled to twenty-six representatives.
Does any one of common sense, either in this Chamber or outside, believe that any man can estimate a population of nearly 1,500,000 within 1,000, or even 5,000 ? And this difficulty is recognised, because the estimate makes a certain allowance for unrecorded arrivals and departures by road, rail, and sea. I am now going to read a quotation which may appear to be rather against my own State, but I desire to place the question as fairly as possible before honorable senators. The Victorian Government Statist, in a second letter to Sir” George Turner on the 20th March, said: -
I do not think that any error which may have occurred will entitle Victoria to twenty-three members.
It is a curious thing that in the debate in another place these are the only lines quoted from two important letters which covered six foolscap pages of closely-typed matter, giving reasons why no alteration should be made. The letter proceeded : -
From these estimates it will be seen that Victoria is only entitled to twenty-two members, and that New” South Wales is entitled to twentyseven, although the ratio of population in the latter case to the quota is 26,512, being only 012 in excess of the number warranting an extra member. To my mind, in view of all the facts that I have placed before the honorable the Treasurer, tins is an advantage altogether too small to justify the change contemplated.
Senator ‘Millen, in speaking on the Electoral Bill this morning, referred to the number of electors that each member ought to represent. I am perfectly well aware that in the Constitution the number of electors is not considered at all, and that is rather curious, because, when there is an outcry about a distribution, it is because one member has to represent a great many more, not people, but electors, than appears reasonable. I shall not discuss the question whether or not population or electors ought to form the basis, but merely point out that New South Wales seems to have a weakness for over-estimating. I believe in one vote one value as a proper principle. The enrolment of electors in New South Wales in 1903 was 687,049 ; the police canvass in 1904 showed 669,425, or a decrease of 17,624; while the Revision Court proceedings this year showed 665,978 electors, or a further decrease of 3,447 - a total decrease of 21,071.
– That was the result of corrections in the case of people who had moved to new electorates, and had not had their names taken off the roll for their old electorate.
– And that is how population is over-estimated, and has to be reduced. In Victoria the enrolment of electors in 1903 showed 612,472 and the result of the police canvass in 1904 was 617,120, or an increase of 4,648. When the Revision Courts were held in Victoria this year it was found that the enrolment was 614,732, or a decrease of 2,388; but the net increase on the 1903 rolls was 2,260, as against 21,071 names which had to be removed from the rolls in New South Wales. If New South Wales were to have twenty-seven members, each member under this Bill would represent 24,666 electors, while in Victoria each member would represent 27,942. At present in Victoria each member represents 26,727 electors, while in New South Wales each member represents 25,612, showing that in Victoria each member represents 1,116 more electors than does each member in New South Wales. But if the alteration in the law is sanctioned by Parliament, each member in Victoria will represent 3,276 electors more than will each member in New South Wales. Surely one vote one value ought to have some weight, if that has to be our guiding principle.
– The distribution between States is on a population basis.
– I think I have made it quite clear that I understand that point.
– Then surely there is nothing in the honorable senator’s argument ?
– It seems to me that the electors ought to be considered, although, perhaps, strictly speaking, from a legal point of view, that is not the position. At any rate, the “ man in the street “ regards divisions as being mapped out, not on a basis of population, but on the basis of the number of electors. However, what I desire to emphasize is that there must have been a large bungle in New South Wales, where the population was over-estimated in 1900 to the extent of 30,582, as contrasted with the bungle in Victoria, where there was an underestimation,’ to the extent of 37,676. In the two States, the error amounted in the aggregate to 68,000 names. I propose to lay before honorable senators some warnings which have been given by the men who have prepared these figures, and who have advised that they should not be accepted as accurate. I shall, however, first read a passage from Quick and Garran -
The only reliable basis of population is a census ; and it may be presumed that the Parliament will provide for a periodical - probably a decennial - census, and will require that after each census the number of members of each State shall be determined afresh.
That seems to me to be sound, commonsense and fair play, and anything short of that is not. Now we shall hear what- the chairman of the 1903 conference of Statisticians has to say. I commend these warn ings to honorable senators who do not care about dealing with figures. Of course I could not deal with the matter to which I have addressed myself in any other way, and I admit freely that figures are usually considered very dry and uninteresting, except by persons like Senator Pulsford, who revels in all sorts of intricate calculations. The Victorian Government Statist, in the letter to Sir George Turner, dated 4th March. 19,05. makes the following observation - and this is another matter which has not been made generally public. I trust the press will publish the two letters to which I have referred -
Under the circumstances can estimates, which are as liable to error at the present time as they have been in the past, be accepted as the statistics of the Commonwealth, under section 24 of the Constitution Act, for the purpose of determining so important a point as the number of representatives of a State? Estimates are simply estimates more or less inaccurate ; statistics of population are, I take it, ascertained numerical facts, which can only be procured by a census enumeration.
I shall now give honorable senators the benefit of the statement made by a Statistician who tells us in effect that we should not accept his figures, or those pf any one else. This gentleman was a prominent member of the Statisticians’ Conference of 1903. I refer to Mr. Coghlan. He warns us against accepting even his figures. Surely nothing, could be much stronger than that. I apprehend that the gentlemen I am quoting, the chairman of the Statisticians’ Conference, and Mr. Coghlan, who is, if not the leading Statist, one of the leading Statists, of Australia, will be admitted to have been leading men at the conference. Mr. Coghlan says -
In any case it would seem desirable that the representation of the States should not depend upon mere estimates of population, however carefully such estimates may have been made. A more scientific basis of representation would doubtless be obtained from a census taken under the authority of the Commonwealth.
Mr. Coghlan’s estimates were, no doubt, as carefully prepared as they could be, but he warns us that we ought not to take his estimates, or those of any one else. If the Senate is determined that the representation of the States shall be altered, I believe it will not consent to any alteration on any less sure foundation than an actual count of the people. The references 1 have given honorable senators are all accessible to any one who cares to look into the matter, and they should be sufficient to convince the Senate, which is the States’. House, that no alteration should be made unless on an actual count of the people, as is done, and has been done, in America for the last no or 120 years, and as is done and has been done in Canada since the Provinces of the Dominion federated. I do not care two straws when the census is taken, whether every three, live, or ten years. All I contend is that no other method of ascertaining the population of the various States is sufficiently accurate to justify any alteration of the representation of any State. Nothing short of that will satisfy me.
– 1 should like, in the first- instance, to refer to a return laid on the table of the Senate at my instance in 1901, because of the use made of it by Senator Styles. The honorable senator was under the impression that I could not live without “digging” at Victoria, and that I had moved for that return for some purpose of an unfriendly nature towards Victoria.
– Of a friendly nature towards New South Wales, and not necessarily of a hostile nature to Victoria.
– I interjected at the time that I had moved for the return in the interests of Queensland.
– I accepted that.
– To wipe away the least slur, I should like to refer to what I said when I moved for the return on the 26th July-
I may say at once that the underlying motive of this motion for a return is a suspicion - and something more than a suspicion - in my mind ; that by a mistake made by the-committee of Statisticians some twelve or fifteen months ago the State of Queensland has been deprived of one member in the House of Representatives. But for that mistake, Queensland would now have ten members, whereas it has only nine.
I drew attention to the very, return to which Senator Styles has referred, and I said -
In the first place, I will refer to a return which was laid on the table of the Senate at my request about a fortnight ago, and which was the first official publication of the details under which the membership of the House of Representatives was arranged. The first State mentioned in the return is Victoria. According to the calculation of the committee of Statists, the number of members to winch Victoria was entitled was 22.52. . . By the fraction over the half Victoria got another member, but I may say that the census returns which have since come out show that the Victorian population was understated at that time by something like 20,000, so that this State is fully entitled to 23 members.
That was a fair, if not a handsome way in which to refer to Victoria and the general position. I was using the figures which had been brought forward in the investigation of a case which it appeared to me to be desirable to investigate, as: ‘to whether Queensland had not erroneously had the number of members to which she was entitled reduced from ten to nine.
– Is the honorable senator now satisfied that that was a misapprehension ?
– I am ‘not quite satisfied as to the exact settlement ‘ at the time, but the Queensland quota in existence to-day is evidently rather smaller than it was then, and I am afraid that Queensland to-day cannot be considered to be entitled to more representation than she actually possesses. With regard to statistics generally, I may point out that the only sure way of arriving at a satisfactory estimate is to have prepared a table, which might be called a “reconciliation table “ - that is to say, a table which would reconcile the returns of the Statists of the whole six States. It is not quite satisfactory that the Statists of the different States should each prepare his estimate of the population of his State, and that the six sets of figures thus obtained should be added up and the total accepted as the total population of Australia. What could be done is this : In each State the excess of births over deaths could be ascertained, and, by adding the excess in. each State .to the total population of the Commonwealth, as shown by the returns for the census year, we could determine approximately the population of the Commonwealth, subject to some additions for oversea immigration, if there has been any. Oversea immigration is generally fairly easy to find out. We can generally tell how many thousand people have arrived from abroad, and, by adding these to the natural increase, we could tell with fair accuracy what the population of Australia is at any given time.
– Would the honorable senator discard .’altogether the movements of people from one State to another ?
– I am showing that if we get the returns of increases in the way I have said, we could ascertain the correct figure for the whole of Australia, and the returns given by the Statists of the individual States, when added up, should come within measurable distance to the Commonwealth return arrived at in the way I have indicated. If they do, we can accept those estimates as accurate. If they do not add up to the Commonwealth total, prepared in the way I have indicated, there is room for doubt as to their accuracy. During the last week
I have been trying very hard to secure details of figures from the acting-Statist in New South Wales, Mr. Hall. Two days ago I received from that gentleman a big sheet of details, but I really place very little value on them, because they are too much in the nature of pure estimates, and I require figures which will be absolutely reliable. I telegraphed to Mr. Hall for further figures, ‘and further information may be sent to me to-day. What I desire to find out is how the figures for the six different States add up, in the light of Commonwealth returns of increase of population shown by the excess of births over deaths. Looked at in amy light, it appears to me that no one can contend for a moment that to-day Victoria can expect to have more than twenty-two members. I notice that the last’ returns published, though I admit all along that they are subject to some slight doubt on the score I have mentioned, show that Victoria is entitled to twenty-one members, with 49,535 of population over - the full number required to give one member being 55,000. According to these figures, Victoria is within about 6,000 of the number which would fully entitle her to twenty-two members. There cannot, therefore, be the shadow of a possibility that: she is entitled to twentythree members.
– The figures give Victoria twenty-two members and a large remainder.
– They give Victoria twenty-two members with a shortage of nearly 6,000.
– The last figures published show that Victoria is entitled to twenty-one members, with a balance of 49)535 °f population over.
– What is the half quota? That will give twenty-two members.
– I am telling the honorable senator that the figures are over 5,000 short of the full quota to give twentytwo members.
– That is not what the honorable senator’s remarks conveyed to me.
– Then the honorable senator must have misunderstood me. What I say is that, allowing a very large margin for possible errors, it is not possible to contend that Victoria is entitled to twenty-three members. I dare not assert as an absolute fact that to-day New South Wales is entitled to twenty-seven members, but that her population has exceeded the quota twenty-six times has from the first been evident. That it to-day sufficiently exceeds the half quota beyond the population required for twenty-six members, which would entitle the State to an additional member, is not absolutely certain. I do not suppose that any representative of New South Wales desires that another member should be given to that State if she is not absolutely entitled to the additional representation. This is one reason why I am so anxious that we should have figures presented to us to reconcile the statistics of the Statists of the different States. When these figures are supplied, I shall be very glad if they show that New South Wales is entitled to an extra member. Naturally, we may look for considerable changes to take place from time to time throughout Australia. I have here a book of the last American census, from which it is shown that in America statements are published from time to time showing the relative rank in population, of the different States. These returns are very interesting. As honorable senators are aware, there are some fifty States in the American Union, and some of the States which many years ago ranked as thirtieth or fortieth in point of population now rank much higher. In the book I have before me some comparisons are given between the census returns of 1900 and 1890. I find from these figures that, for instance; Alabama receded in rank from seventeenth to eighteenth; Arizona from forty-eighth to forty-ninth; Arkansas from twenty-fourth to twenty-fifth; whilst California rose in rank from twenty-second to twenty-first. Delaware in 1890 ranked as forty-second, and in 1900 that State had receded to forty-sixth - a very material fall. We may naturally look from time to time for these changes in the different States of Australia. The time will come when Western Australia will no longer require to rely upon a sub-section of the Constitution to give her five representatives, but will be able to secure that number by reason of a full quota of population. I believe that to-day she is entitled to a little over four and a half members, which would be reckoned ais five, and no doubt the time will arrive when her population will increase considerably, I suppose, at the expense of New South! Wales, and perhaps Victoria. The latter got most rapidly the largest population per square mile, therefore it is natural that as the population of other States increases per square mile, their representation will also increase, and that while Victoria’s population may still continue to increase her share of the aggregate of the Commonwealth population and representation may decrease.
– Western Australia is entitled to four,_ with a remainder over of 15,470, and the quota is 54,000.
– The figures at which the Minister is looking may be late and accurate; but not long since, I was looking at figures which indicated what I have said. The corresponding section in the Constitution of the United States pro- vides that representation and direct taxation shall be apportioned in the States according to population. That is a factor which should be remembered here. The right of the States to have the representation and taxation equally distributed is beyond question, and it is the duty of Parliament, so far as it is possible, to see that those points are carried out. I think it is very necessary to insert in this Bill some amendments which will secure a greater certainty of the earlier carrying out of its requirements. I noticed that, when moving the second reading of the Bill in the other House. Mr. Groom stated that if it became law in. September, the first enumeration would be made in October. Time is passing, and it is clear that the Bill cannot become law, at any rate, before November. I wish the Government to make it quite clear that there will be due time to take the enumeration, and to fix the quota for the next general election. I am afraid that if the matter be left to the play of circumstances we may arrive near the middle of next year, and find that we have to prepare for the general election without the new arrangements which the Bill is supposed to bring into force. I am anxious not only to see the Bill passed, but to see amendments inserted which will compel the carrying out of its arrangements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed’ to.
Clause 3 -
– It appears to me that the) clause is not quite distinct enough. Sub-clause 2 says that the Chief Electoral Officer “ shall appoint other enumeration days.” But, so far as I can see, there is nothing in this or any other’ clause, which will compel him to do more than that. I think it should be made a condition that he shall not only appoint, but hold other enumeration days. Therefore, I move -
That the words “ and hold “ be inserted after the word “ appoint.”
– I think that Senator Pulsford will recognise that there is no necessity to insert the words “ and hold “ in subclause 2, when I point out that the following clause provides what shall happen on those enumeration days. It says -
The numbers of the people shall be ascertained as on enumeration day, in accordance with the following provisions :
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 8 agreed to.
– It will be remembered that in the earlier portion of this sitting I indicated my intention to submit an amendment to remedy what I regard as a grave defect in the Bill. Down to clause 8 the machinery of the Bill clearly indicates that it shall be the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to ascertain on certain days the number of people in the Commonwealth and in the several States, and to issue his certificate as to the numbers. The next clause, adopting the words of the Constitution, indicates the manner in which the quota shall be ascertained, but gives no direction as to when or by whom it shall be ascertained. I propose to throw upon the Chief Electoral Officer the duty of working out the simple sum in arithmetic which is therein set out. Therefore I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “8a. The Chief Electoral Officer shall immediately after the issue of the certificate determine the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States in the following manner.”
That manner is of course set out in clause 9. If that amendment be adopted I shall propose an amendment, to follow clause 9, to the effect that the Chief Electoral Officer, after having determined the number of members to which each State is entitled, shall issue his certificate accordingly, just as in clause 6 he is required to issue a certificate as to the number of the population in the several States. This morning the Minister admitted that it would “<be the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to ascertain the quota, and practically determine the number of members to which each State is entitled. If that be his duty, I cannot conceive of any objection to setting it out clearly in the Bill. On the other hand, if it be not set out in the Bill, it will clearly be an Executive act, and concerning the danger of leaving to the Executive the working of our electoral machinery I need hardly add anything to ‘what I said this morning.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I have no objection to the insertion of this amendment. As I interjected when Senator Millen was discussing the second reading of the Bill this morning, it certainly will be the function of the Chief Electoral Officer to determine, in accordance with the Bill, the representation to be accorded to the several States, and if it will make the matter more certain than it otherwise would be, I see no objection to the insertion of this new clause, or, so far as I can see now, to the insertion of the subsequent amendment which the honorable senator has indicated.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Determination of representation of the States).
– I do not know what Senator Millen proposes to do, or whether he is ready to do what I think he should, but after inserting new clause 8A it seems to me that it will not be proper to allow the preamble to clause 9 to remain. Instead of improving the Bill, it will create confusion if it is not altered.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I fail to see how any confusion can arise. Clause 9 says -
For the purpose of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States, the following procedure shall be followed :
The new clause which has just been inserted simply affirms that the Chief Electoral Officer shall ascertain the quota, in the manner afterwards set out.
– I thought that the honorable senator intended to attach paragraphs a and b of clause 9 to his new clause.
– Clause 9 sets out the manner in which the quota is to be ascertained, while the new clause simply indicates the officer by whom it shall be- ascertained.
– In view of the fact that the procedure is set out in paragraphs a and b of clause 9, would it not be better to leave out the preamble?
– The words of the preamble may be surplusage to that extent, but certainly their retention will do no harm.
Clause agreed to.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - We have provided that the Chief Electoral Officer shall determine the quota, and created the machinery by which it shall be determined. I want the Committee to insert a clause which will require that officer, after he has determined the quota and the number of members to which each State is entitled, to issue his certificate to that effect. Therefore I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - ,, The Chief Electoral Officer shall forthwith, after he has determined the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States, in accordance with this Act, make and forward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States.”
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Power to make regulations).
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - This clause gives too much power to the Executive in so important a matter as the conduct of elections. For some time Parliament has been delegating a great many of its powers to Ministers, and we ought to be very careful in this connexion. It ought [not ‘to- be open to ‘Ministers, without the control of Parliament, to issue regulations within a certain period of a general election, if such action may have party results. It would be well to provide that no regulations shall come into force except those approved by Parliament.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - It is absolutely necessary for the proper working of a Bill of this kind that there should- be very adequate provision for the making of regulations. The difficulties and dangers which Senator Pulsford foresees are obviated by subsequent clauses. Instead of the usual safeguards provided by the Acts Interpretation Act in the matter of regulations, it is provided in this Bill that no regulations shall have any force until they shall have been laid before both Houses of Parliament for thirty days, and that they shall be inoperative if within that time a resolution shall have been passed disapproving oT them, or until such resolution shall have been disposed of. Ordinary regulations take effect if no resolution to the contrary be passed, but in the present instance, the absolute duty of approving is thrown upon Parliament. Regulations are necessary in order to deal with matters which only experience can disclose, and their operation will be practically dependent upon the approval of both Houses.
Clause agreed to. Schedule A.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- Provision is here made for adding certain percentages to the number of recorded departures, and the percentage in the case of Tasmania is largest of all, though no provision is made for any addition to the number of unrecorded arrivals. The percentage in trie case of Tasmania is 12 , and I am at a loss to understand why there should Be such a great distinction made between that and’ the other States. In the case of Western Australia, the percentage to be added is 5, and I am afraid that I cannot agree with the proposed arrangements, even though thev are submitted on the authority of eminent Statisticians.
– Has the number of ports of departure nothing to do with the matter ?
– The number of ports of departure are necessarily identical with the number of ports of arrival. Why are we to assume that the recorded list of arrivals is correct, while the ascertained list of departures is faulty? I also desire to know why there is the proposed discrimination between the States. In the case of New South Wales and Victoria, 9 per cent, is added, while the percentage in the case of Queensland is 10, 7 in South Australia, 5 in Western Australia, and 12^ in Tasmania. I cannot consent to this schedule unless some clear explanation is forthcoming.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - When I first read the schedule the same considerations appealed to me as now appeal to Senator Clemons, but on making inquiry I ascertained that it had been drawn up in accordance with a scale agreed upon at a conference of the Statists of the six States. I presume that the Government Statist for Tasmania, who is an eminent authority, knew well what he was doing when he agreed that .12 J per cent, should be added to the recorded departures from that State. I cannot say why no provision is. made for some addition to the recorded arrivals. I have not gone behind the findings of the Statisticians, who were charged with the responsibility of preparing a scale of the kind ; and I think we shall be well advised in acting upon their suggestion. So far as I know, there is no other body of experts in the Commonwealth to whom we could appeal for any revision of the scale; and unless some honorable senator can show solid reasons to the contrary, we ought to hesitate before rejecting the findings of a body of specialists.
– Has the Minister any report on which this schedule was founded ?
– There is a report, but I have not got it by me.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - The Minister asks us to bow to authority rather than be swayed by fact or reason, and has not disclosed a single fact to remove the doubts expressed by Senator Clemons.
– These Government Statists are experts. »
– Is Senator Playford prepared to take the word of experts on any and every subject? It is possible, however, to suggest an explanation why an allowance is made for departures and not for arrivals. We know that the arrivals at all the ports of Australia exceed the departures, and it is clear, that if there be leakage on both sides the leakage in departures will exceed that in arrivals! If there were 100 recorded arrivals and only 90 departures, it is clear that the difference- of 10 per cent, must be allowed on one side only, because, if allowed on both sides, the discrepancy would remain. At the same time, the Committee is entitled to definite information before agreeing to a schedule which is to determine the proportionate representation of the States. Perhaps it would be advisable to postpone the consideration of schedule A.
– Do I understand Senator Millen to say that the allowance should not be made in regard to both arrivals and departures, because one would counterbalance the other?
– I merely suggested that as a possible solution.
– I cannot see the reason for the discrepancies between the allowances ; and I have so little confidence in the figures as they appear in the Bill that I pay no attention to them.
– I have to state to the Senate that a former Governor of New South Wales, the Earl of Jersey, has intimated his intention to visit the Senate this afternoon, and that I propose, with the concurrence of honorable senators, to offer him a seat within the Chamber.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
In Committee (Consideration resumed) :
– I have here the report of the conference of Statisticians held at Melbourne in September, 1903. It is addressed to the Honorable Sir John See, K.C.M.G., Premier of New South Wales, and is dated from the office of the Government Statist, Melbourne, 25th September, 1903. Amongst other things, it states -
The following are the names of the various representatives : - T. A. Coghlan, Government Statistician, New South Wales, J. Hughes, RegistrarGeneral of Queensland, L. H. Sholl, UnderSecretary and Government Statist, South Australia, R. M. Johnston,Registrar-General and Government Statistician, Tasmania, W. McLean, Government Statist, Victoria, and E. G. Stenberg, Chief Compiler of Statistics, Western Australia.
As a result of the deliberations of the members of the Conference, the recommendations embraced in this report were finally adopted.
Uniform Basis of Estimating Population.
That the census of 1901 be taken as the starting point, and future estimates of population be published from that basis.
That the Registrar-General’s returns of births and deaths, and the Customs and Railway Departments certificates of arrivals and departures, be accepted for the compilation.
That 10 per cent. be added to the railway returns of arrivals and departures by land for New South Wales,Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia, to allow for unrecorded traffic by rail and road.
That the following percentages on recorded departures by sea be added thereto for the unrecorded departures : -
As a part of this report, we find that these figures relate to the population statistics of the various States. So far as the population of Tasmania is concerned, the principle upon which the Statistical Department of that State is worked, and has worked in the past, is to allow 12.5 per cent. for unrecorded departures.
– How is that arrived at?
– I could not say. I am not an expert in these matters, but I should say that the experience of the Department in Tasmania, and of the head of the Department, Mr. R. M. Johnston, convinces him that in order to get a correct estimate of the population of the State for the periods intervening between censuses, he must allow for 121/2 per cent. over and above the recorded departures.
– Is there no explanation given of this?
– No; that is the. system upon which the Department in Tasmania, of which Senator Dobson knows something, is working, and has been working. Surely these gentlemen did not do this as a rule of thumb, or as a matter of guesswork. I presume that the authorities of the Department knew what they were doing, and adopted this percentage after a considerable amount of experience, and with the advantage of the checks supplied by the census from time to time. The fact remains that121/2 per cent. was agreed upon as a percentage to be added to the recorded departures.
– Is that based on the last census of 1901 ?
– It is the percentage apparently invariably adopted in Tasmania. For instance, in estimating the population of Tasmania at the time of the report issued by the conference of Statisticians, it will be seen at page 9 of the report that Mr. Johnston gives the population for 1901 as 172,475. Then he adds for birth from 1st April to 31st December, 1901, 3,703. He deducts for deaths during the same period 1,350, giving the natural increase at 2,353. Then, he deals with the figures for .migration by sea during the same period in this way -
This loss, he, of course, deducts from the total. Honorable senators will see that this is the percentage which the Statistical Department adopts in estimating the population at periods between the censuses. These Statisticians met in conference to decide on the best method of estimating the population of the federated States of Australia. They agreed that these particular percentages should be adopted in the case of each State as the percentages to be added to the recorded departures. There is some principle in it. It will surely be admitted that they have been adopted by .gentlemen charged with the responsibility of this work, and whose daily occupation it is. It will be agreed that they would approach the matter with some consideration of their responsibility, and we must recognise that when the Tasmanian Statistical Department invariably takes 12.5 as the percentage to be added to its recorded1 departures in estimating the fluctuations of population, that is not done without rhyme or reason. The percentages adopted by the various States are set out in this schedule, and they are those which are used by the States Statisticians in making their own estimates of the population of their States. Before we depart from the principles which the States Statisticians apply in preparing their own estimates, we should have some definite information that they have been adopting wrong principles and methods of calculation. We are only providing in this case for enumeration days other than census days. Where the enumeration and1 census days synchronize the census will of course give an actual record of the number of persons in each State. It is only fct estimating the population at periods intervening between census days that these percentages will need to be brought into opera- tion. I point out that, even if there were errors as the result of the adoption of the course proposed, to the extent of 2 or 3 per cent, on recorded departures, the numbers for which they would account could not possibly influence the representation of a State so largely as to affect the quota.
– Nothing I have heard from the Minister has induced me to alter my opinion, but, having gone into the matter a little more closely, I think that I am now able to suggest why we see this table in the schedule. It is quite clear to me that these very eminent Statisticians have found, after the census figures have been ascertained, that they have not corresponded with their estimate of arrivals and departures. To put it in other words, they have discovered that there were more people in a State than there ought to be. Having made that discovery, they have said : “ Some of these people ought not to be here ; there must be some error.”
– It was the other way round in Tasmania at the last census.
– What I suggest is the only possible explanation. They found that there were more people according to the census than there were in the island, and that some of the people must have gone away. Then they said : “ More people must have gone away by sea than we gave credit for.” They are silent on the question of arrivals. They do not say that more people must have arrived than they have accounted for. They see their error, and they put it right by assuming that they have not fully accounted for all the departures. In the case of Tasmania they add 12^ per cent, -to the total number of recorded departures. Although these persons are eminent Statisticians, and one of them, Mr. Johnston, of Tasmania, a Statistician for whom I have the greatest regard, I am not prepared to accept such a proposal. I point out that’ at’ the conference one or two interesting things occurred. I find, from the minutes of the conference for Wednesday. 23rd September, that -
The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed. The’ figures for Queensland were supplied by Mr. Hughes, and the tabulated returns of the various States presented by the Chairman, 10 per cent, being added to recorded arrivals and departures by land.
The minutes then record the percentages of unrecorded departures to recorded departures by sea, and I find there was no method whatever of arriving at unrecorded departures except by ascertaining the original extent of their errors. I am not prepared to accept that. It is somewhat significant that later on Mr. Hughes stated that -
He had given further consideration to the percentage to be added to the Queensland departures by sea for the unrecorded departures, and concluded that nine was too low.
– Mr. McLean, the Victorian Statistician - expressed the opinion that the percentage for Victoria was possibly too low, but being a very good State’s.man, he did not suggest an increase, “ not having sufficient information at present.” The candid and frank Mr. Hughes expressed the opinion that the population of Queensland was slightly over-estimated, and he was prepared to admit that the percentage adopted for that State was too low. Mr. McLean, while admitting that the “Victorian population was over-estimated in the same way, was not prepared to admit that the percentage adopted in Victoria should be increased. That is the way in which these eminent Statisticians have arrived at their calculation, and we are asked to adopt a similar plan. I am not prepared to do so, and while I do not wish to interfere with schedule A in other respects, I move -
That paragraph 5 be left out.
– The result will be that we shall have our enumeration different from the estimates of the States from year to year.
– Before I sit down, I again direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Statisticians say that they must add something to their estimates of unrecorded departures, and I really cart see no reason whatever why they should adopt that course in the case of departures and not in the case of .arrivals. Why should there be a percentage added to the estimate of unrecorded departures by sea, whilst the estimate of arrivals is taken to be absolutely accurate? I am perfectly certain that the course adopted was agreed to as a rough and ready way of balancing their account. I ask the Committee to help me in refusing to adopt such a rough and ready method of calculation.
– I have here the report of the ‘Select Committee of the House of Representatives on the administration of the Electoral Act, published thirteen months after the report of the Statisticians’ Conference. I find that the chairman of the Committee was Mr. L. E. Groom, who, as Minister of Home Affairs, embodies in this Bill the figures that were given in the Statisticians’ Report published two years ago last September, and yet the Committee say in their report -
The returns of the population of the Commonwealth, upon which the determination of the number of members of the House of Representatives was made, have been questioned.
That is a statement made thirteen months after the publication of the report of the Statisticians’ Conference. The Committee go on to say - *our Committee recommend that in future it should be made certain that an uniform system for the determination of the population be adopted by the Statisticians of the States.
It is clear, therefore, that the Select Committee were not satisfied with the report of the Statisticians’ Conference.
– That is a recommendation which had not been acted upon at the time the report of the Select Committee was published.
– The report of the Statisticians’ Conference had been issued and published, and was available to every one.
– It was a recommendation which had not been acted upon.
– Then why refer to it at all ? It appears to me somewhat odd that the Committee should recommend that some special steps should be taken to secure an uniform system when the report of the Statisticians’ Conference is presumed to suggest an uniform system for the Commonwealth.
– It seems to me that the statement which Senator Styles has quoted from the report of the Select Committee of the House of Representatives merely shows that prior to the meeting of the Committee there was no uniformity of action on the part of the States’ Statisticians. They had met in conference to discover a basis for uniform action, and the Select Committee, in recommending that uniform action, should be taken by the Statisticians, did not in any way reflect on the report of the conference, but rather, having, it before them, recommended that it should be acted upon. How could it be acted upon, except in the way now proposed, by including it in a Representation Bill, or in a Census and Statistics Bill ? T think there is some force in what Senator Clemons has said, in suggesting that some improvement might be made in this schedule. In regard to departures, first by land, and secondly by sea, manifestly the greatest amount of leakage will occur in the case of those States with the largest number of ports from which departures can be made. In the case of Western Australia, Fremantle is practically the port of departure to the Eastern States. The port of Albany is generally visited by vessels for the purpose of taking in cargo and coal. They do not pick up many .passengers there. So far as Western Australia is concerned, there is very little prospect of any great number of departures not being recorded. But when we come to a State like Tasmania, with a large number of small ports, the case is different. At some ports the Customs officer may have to carry out other duties.
– At Strahan the post; master does the Customs work.
– We can easily imagine that in the case of small ports, from which small schooners or steamers take away cargo, a large number of departures are not recorded.
– That applies with absolute equality and force to arrivals.
– I shall indicate presently the reason why there is net a similar table for arrivals by sea. At the present time there is no inducement for a person to leave Western Australia to look for employment in the other States. In the case of the class who -would be likely to leave, and who, of course, would be the most hard pressed, their departures would probably not be recorded. Many of them would go on a vessel and offer to work their passage, or to look after stock. They would not be put on the ship’s articles, or be recorded as passengers, because they would go on board at the last minute. It is manifest that there are not many persons leaving Western, Australia in that way at the present time, though there may be in the future. But in the case of Tasmania there are boats leaving Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, and. Launceston, and a number of small ports. It is easy to imagine that men will get on board of a boat, perhaps a cargo boat, promise to do a little work, and offer a few shillings for a passage across the Strait, and will not be entered by the captain as part of the crew or pas.sengers. That, I think, explains the rea son why a greater percentage is needed for Tasmania than for other States. Senator Clemons has asked why arrivals should not be allowed for, as well as departures. The boats which carry unrecorded departures are not in the same position at the port of destination as at the port of departure. At the port of arrival there is an officer who has to note the number of passengers on the ship, and, of course, during the passage their names have been recorded. Owing to the peculiar way in which such men leave, it is impossible for the proper officer to give to the Custom* authorities the exact number of passengers to be taken by a ship, but before arriving at the port of destination he is in possession of that information.
– Why should he neglect his duty in the case of departures?
– He may not have the information.
– But the ship would.
– Take the case of some men whom I have known to leave Melbourne for Western Australia. They have gone to the head steward and said, “I will help you in the saloon or the steerage if you will give me a trip across.” Without consulting any one on the steamer, the head .steward has taken the men on board and given them a trip over. After the tickets have been collected at sea, the steward has, had to explain to the purser how the men come to be on board, and therefore, before the steamer arrived at her port of destination, the purser knew the exact number of persons whom she was carrying. It can easily be seen that in one case he can make a correct return, but not in the other. From my experience in travelling between the States by sea,’ I can readily understand why this provision is made in schedule A.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - This paragraph is an indication of the percentages which, according to the decision arrived at in their conference, the Statists of the several States intend hereafter to apply to the cases of departures in estimating from quarter to quarter of each year the population of their States.
– No; it will mean to balance their accounts.
– I do not care for what reason it is done.
– It is not going to alter their census.
– I do not care what motives are influencing the Statists in that direction. For the purpose of my argument, I am pointing out that they intend to apply that principle every quarter in estimating their population for State purposes.
– To use the principle in order to explain a total which they could not otherwise explain.
– From quarter to quarter the population statistics of each State will be based on that principle. At the end of every five years the Commonwealth will, through the Chief Electoral Officer, ask the Statists, as, provided in clause 5 of this Bill, to state the population of their respective States, using the last preceding census as a basis, and following out all the conditions contained in schedule A, including those which Senator Clemons wishes to excise; but if his amendment be adopted they would have to estimate the population on a totally different basis from that on which theyhad acted for the purposes of their States ; and we should find a. large discrepancy in the case of each State’s population. There would be confusion, doubt, and intense dissatisfaction. The population of New South Wales as certified to by its own Statistical Department would differ from that which would be returned under the provisions of this Bill, and the same in the case of every other State. It may be that this is an arbitrary principle to adopt, but we cannot get away from the fact that it will be adopted by the Statists in carrying out, the duties for which they are primarily appointed. If we had such discrepancies as I have indicated, then one of the estimates must be a very artificial one. The estimates would not only be very unsatisfactory for Commonwealth purposes, but there would be intense dissatisfaction in a State if the discrepancy were very much against its interests. Seeing that we have adopted the principle of applying on every enumeration day to the Statisticians to estimate the population in their States, talcing the last census returns as a basis, and applying the principles contained in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, we should also ask them to apply the principles contained in paragraph 5, because we know that they will be applied by them when estimating the population for State purposes.
Question - That paragraph 5 proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Schedule A agreed to.
Schedule B agreed to.,.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether he considers it necessary to have an additional schedule setting out the form of the certificate which the Chief Electoral Officer has to give, as regards the number of members to which each State is entitled ? I do not think it is necessary.
– All that is necessary, can be done under clause 11.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 3.57, p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 October 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051027_senate_2_28/>.