2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the
Minister of Defence, without notice, whether it is true, as reported in the Age of this morning, that the Government do not intend to proceed with the Bill dealing with the representation of the States in the Commonwealth Parliament ?
– I saw a report to that effect in the newspaper, and that is all I know about the matter. I cannot answer the question until I have consulted my colleagues.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he can give the Senate any idea as to why the Government do not propose to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill this session?
– If the honorable senator will give notice I shall get the information.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whetherhewill send an officer to Hobart, not only to inspect such sites for a rifle range as can be pointed out to him, but to join with the local officers in selecting the best possible site which can be obtained, and whether in the meantime he will give instructions) to stay the taking of extra land at the Sandy Bay rifle range?
– So many officers have gone over to Hobart, and reported, and the subject has been so carefully considered, that I have come to a decision in favour of the site at Sandy Bay, and given adirection for the resumption of the necessary land. I do not see the slightest necessity to go to the expense of sending over another officer for the purpose of inspecting sites. It is only a week or two since I sent over a special officer who inspected the sites, and on whose report I have acted.
– What I wish to know is whether the Minister will send over an officer to join with the local officers ih selecting the most suitable site which can be obtained?
– That has been done. Every possible information has been obtained. The selection of a site was delayed for months at the request of the honorable and learned senator and his, colleagues. I have looked into the matter with the greatest care, and there is not the slightest necessity to send over an officer, because it has been considered with the local officers’, and they are all of one opinion.
– We cannot allow the Department to take the land.
– That has been authorized, and I do not think it can be stopped.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether it is true that he has abandoned his intention of placing before the Senate a defence policy this session ?
– I have never said that I would bring a defence policy before the Senate this session, and I cannot be said to have abandoned an intention which I have not expressed. I shall make a statement to the Senate.
– I think that it arose out of a statement made by a colleague of the Minister.
– Yes ; my colleague was under a misapprehension at the time. I told the Senate only a very short time ago that the problem of the defences of the Commonwealth was one which I was not prepared to face on so short a notice, but that I would take the opportunity of making a statement on the question of the defences and giving all the information I possibly could. I am not in a position to submit a special scheme of defence this, session, but I hope to be able, during the recess, to look into the subject with sufficient care, todecide upon a policy which I shall recommend for adoption to my colleagues, and with their consent submit it to Parliament next session. At the present time we have no policy of any sort; we never had one.
– Arising out of the answer, I wish to remind the Minister of Defence that he promised the Senate a report from either the Army Board or the Council of Defence, and to , ask him whether an annual report, such as Major-General Hutton used to submit prior to the consideration of the Estimates, is being prepared by either of those two bodies?
– I am not quite sure whether a report is being prepared at the present time. I hare, I think, given an instruction for a yearly report to be compiler!.
-Col. GOULD. -I should like to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he has formed any opinion as to the value or efficacy of the change which has been made in the administration ot the Defence Forces by substituting a Council of Defence for a General Officer Commanding?
– I have not had sufficient experience of the present system to be able to say whether it is preferable to the former one. I know that there are Boards in Great Britain and the United States. That wonderful little nation, Japan, never appoints a Commander-in-Chief except in time of war, and manages by boards. So far I have been able to work with the boards in a highly satisfactory manner.
– I am not sufficiently well acquainted with the subject to be able to answer the honorable and learned senator; but if he will give notice I shall be pleased to get the information.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, without notice, whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies has sent a communication, asking the Government to alter the Immigration Restriction Act with a view to making a special arrangement with Japan, in order to overcome its alleged susceptibilities?
– I have heard of no communication of that character, but if the honorable senator will give notice I shall ascertain whether one has been received.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Provisional regulations under the Defence Acts - Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 69.
Letter from the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister about the Federal Capital Site.
Ordered to be printed.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Provisional regulations under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 70, and Rules of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 71.
– I desire, upon notice, to call the attention of the Minister of Defence to an article which appeared in the Age of 6th November, 1905, and which reads as follows : -
It is stated that the Premier has received a despatch from the Colonial Office, intimating that the clauses in the Amended Factories Act relating to Asiatics are repugnant to the feelings of nations with which Great Britain is at peace, and must be repealed. The despatch is said to be peremptory in tone, and to leave the Premier no alternative but to comply with the demand. The Cabinet has observed the utmost reticence regarding the matter, but it is believed the Premier has cabled for permission to make the despatch public, or to lay it on the table of Parliament. and to ask the honorable senator - in view of the very important national issues which may be involved, will the Ministry request the Premier of Western Australia to supply copies of the despatch mentioned, and such other information as may be available in order that the Commonwealth Legislature may be accurately informed in respect to the matter?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The statement has since been modified as to the character of the despatch, but as in any case the question involved is important, full information regarding it will be sought and laid before Parliament when obtained.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Returns to the Order of the Senate, laid on the table 31st October, 1905, relative to Ironworkers’ Wages, and Imports of Machinery, Nos. 1 and 2, be printed.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, members of the Commonwealth Public Service should be permitted to hold elected positions on municipal and other local governing bodies, so long as such positions do not interfere with the proper performance of their duties as public servants.
I trust that honorable senators will assist me to get a vote on this question to-day. It will be observed that I propose that public officers shall only be allowed to hoi’ these positions so long as it does not interfere with the proper performance of their official duties. The public officers of Western Australia Have always had the right to sit on local governing bodies. It was only when their Departments were transferred to the Commonwealth that the US- toms and Post and Telegraph officers lost that right in virtue of a regulation, and an instruction issued by the Government in 1902. The Public; Service Act of that State is almost a copy of our Public Service Act. Prior to his appointment as Public Service Commissioner, Mr. Jull was Under-Secretary for Works, a position which is practically next to that of Minister of Works. He was a land-owner in a suburban road board district, andi was a member of that body for many years, and I believe its chairman at one time. Although his official position brought him into touch with the roads board, yet on no occasion did I ever hear of any complaint being received from either a road board or an individual as to his occupancy of the civic position.
– Probably no conflict of interest arose during his term of office.
– Probably not; I do not see why any conflict of interest should arise. His was not a singular case. Mr. G. T. Poole, the chief officer in the architectural branch of the Public Works Department, was a member of a municipal council. A number of public officers, in various grades, have been members of road boards and municipal councils, and in no instance, I am pleased to say, have these positions been held by the officers to the detriment of the Public Service or the country. In fact, many of these men are specially fitted to occupy civic positions. They are all interested in the municipalities or road boards in which they live, and it seems to me to be quite reasonable that they should be allowed the same facilities to protect their interests as other citizens, unless, of course, it can be shown that it would interfere with the performance of their official duties. In South Australia, too, I believe public officers enjoyed a similar right until it was taken away by the Jenkins Government. Those facilities have been restored by the ‘ Price Government, so that the public servants of South Australia have the right to become members of district councils, or other municipal bodies. I am not aware of what the practice is in other States, but I am satisfied, from my experience in Western Australia, that no harm could come to the Public Service by the adoption of this motion. In many cases, the motion, if carried, would be an advantage to the local government bodies themselves; and with these few words I ask honorable senators to adopt the proposal.
– As Senator Pearce pointed out in his opening remarks, he does not wish any action to be taken which would cause the public servants of the Commonwealth to neglect their duties - he does not wish them to be placed in such a position that they could not give proper attention to the discharge of those duties.
– That is simply impossible !
– The motion provides that the public servants of the Commonwealth shall be allowed to hold these municipal positions, so long as their doing so does not interfere with the proper performance of their duties.
– Who is. the judge of that?
– Exactly. Both the motion and the proviso are in verv general terms, and they practically affirm the right of every public servant to occupy positions of the character indicated. Section 79 of the Public Service Act provides -
Except with the express, permission cif the Governor-General, which permission may at any time, by Order in Council, be withdrawn, no officer shall -
accept or continue to hold an office in or under the Government of any State, or in or under any public or municipal corporation.
It must be obvious to every honorable senator that there are a large number of cases in which it is quite possible for a public servant of the Commonwealth to hold a public position in such ai way that the duties of that position and his duties as a public servant shall not come in conflict. In all such cases, the practice of this and previous Governments goes to show that an officer has very little difficulty in getting the consent of the Governor-General to allow nomination.
– The Minister’s previous answer is in direct contradiction to the statement he makes now.
– I say that a public servant may occupy a public office with the permission of the Governor-General. Section 79 of the Public Service Act also provides that a public servant shall- not, without the express permission of the Governor-General, “ engage or continue in the private practice of any profession or accept or engage in any employment other than in connexion with the duties of his office or officers under the Commonwealth.” Scarcely a week goes by in which express leave is not given by the Governor-General to a number of public servants to accept positions of the kind indicated, and to take fees and emoluments in connexion therewith, particularly as secretaries of lodges and similar organizations. When leave is asked the individual case at once comes under notice, and opportunity is afforded to ascertain whether the duties are likely to conflict. But to lay it down as a general principle that public servants may occupy public positions of the kind contemplated by the motion is, I think, very dangerous. A public servant might be a member of a municipal council which was in conflict in interest, or in a matter of opinion, with the Commonwealth, and that officer, as a councillor, might have to take a certain stand which would be absolutely adverse to his duties as a public servant. Then, again, a public servant, as a member of a roads board, or other municipal” body, in the country, might find it incumbent upon him to take a stand which would give a good deal of offence to a large section of the public, and, under such circumstances, both the Commonwealth officer and the public would be severely handicapped. I could enlarge on the subject, but I do not think it is necessary, because honorable senators will see the danger of affirming such a principle in the general terms of the motion.
– Do not municipal bodies often meet during Public Service office hours?
– In such case a public servant could’ not be a member of a municipal body, because that would lead to the neglect of his duties.
– There are a number of ways in which conflict may arise.
-Col. Gould. - What is the value of the motion in the face of section 79 of the Public Service Act?
– I think that in that Act adequate provision is made to meet all cases of the kind. Section 79 deals with five different classes of cases in respect of which! it is competent for a public servant to obtain .the express permission of the Governor-General to take part in business other than that of his public office. Under the circumstances, I think that Senator Pearce, after he has heard expressions of opinion from honorable senators, might rest satisfied to leave the discussion to attain the object he has in view.
– I really believe that if we had it in our power, as members of Parliament, we would say that none but ourselves should take any part in public affairs. We showed that tendency when we decided that no member of a State Parliament should be permitted to become a candidate for the Federal Parliament until he had resigned the former position.
– The States took the initiative in that matter.
– We all know what the tendency is.
– The tendency is to leave everything to regulations.
– That does not come within the subject-matter of the motion. The tendency is to make public servants a sort of serf class.
– Come, come !
– I am afraid that is the tendency.
– Are Judges of the serf class?
– Judges are in an entirely different position. We cannot dismiss a Judge without a procedure with which the honorable senator is well acquainted, but we know what may be done in the case of public servants by Ministers in charge of a Department. Senator Keating has stated that a public servant may obtain permission from the GovernorGeneral to hold certain public offices, but on the 1 st November Senator Pearce asked the Honorary Minister the following question : -
Do the regulations of the Public Service prohibit members of the Commonwealth Public Service from becoming candidates or accepting positions on municipal councils or roads boards in any of the States?
To that, Senator Keating replied -
Section 79A of the Public Service Act provides that members of the Commonwealth Public Service cannot accept or continue tohold office in any public or municipal corporation without the express permission of the GovernorGeneral.
A second clause of Senator Pearce’s question was -
If not, are any instructions issued by the heads of Departments forbidding public servants from accepting such positions.
The Minister’s reply was -
Instructions have been given that it is not considered desirable that public officers should hold positions of this kind.
What public officer would venture to bring himself into conflict with the Government in face of that instruction, by asking leave to hold a public office? Any one who has conversed with public servants knows very well that, for some reason or other, they donot care to bring themselves in any way into conflict with Ministers. I have not heard one argument advanced by Senator Keating against the motion. The Minister cited certain cases in which public servants might find their duties, as members of public bodies, in conflict with their duties as public servants ; but the motion makes provision for such cases. A public servant who is capable of securing the votes of the ratepayers is likely to be sufficiently intelligent to know when the duties will come into conflict; and he would either refrain from taking a public office, or retire from his position in the service, if he found it necessary to take such a stand. There are many duties in connexion with local government, which public servants might very well undertake. The fault I see in the position of many of the public servants is the dreadful monotony of their duties, which become largely mechanical, while they are prohibited, by all kinds of regulations, from taking part in public life. Amongst the public servants there are doubtless many who could do good work in the regulation of sanitation, public parks, and other departments of local government ; and I do not think they ought to be prohibited from so making themselves useful. Public servants will, doubtless, be careful to do nothing likely to bring themselves into conflict with their superior officers, or with Ministers.
– What about the exception that proves the rule?
– If there are exceptions, the Minister or the head qf the Department may easily draw the attention of the officers to the position.
-Col. Gould. - Who is to be the judge?
– The officer, on the one hand ; and if the duties do conflict. I think the Minister at the head of the Department would promptly interfere.
– And when he did so, a motion would be tabled here.
– I do not think that would be so.
– It is a fact.
– Is it a fact? Outside the Parliament of New South Wales, I do not think motions of the kind have been submitted; at any rate, none have been submitted in this Parliament, which trusts to the Ministers and the heads of Departments.
– The Government are to be congratulated on the stand they have taken in the interests both of the public, and the public servants as a class. Senator Higgs would lay down a general rule that every member of the Public Service shall have the right to accept positions on. municipal bodies, unless prohibited by ‘ his superior officers, whereas the Government, by their regulations, provide that if a public servant desires to hold such a position he shall first obtain permission. I cannot help thinking that all the advantage is on the side of the course adopted bv the Government. What would happen if the proposal were given effect to would be that every public servant would be at liberty to aspire to, and to attain one of these public positions, and every now and again it would be the duty of the Public Service Commissioner, or of the Minister, to call upon him to resign it. It would at once set up invidious distinctions, because it would be said that while some were allowed to continue to hold suchpositions, others were prohibited from holding them. The proposal would throw upon the heads of Departments a very unpleasant task. No possible injury can be done to the public servants by refusing to accept the proposal, because if any member of the service desires to enter a municipal council, he can obtain permission to do so it the public interests are not likely to be jeopardized.
– Instructions have been issued to discountenance that.
– And very wisely so, in my opinion, but it is not prohibited. I desire to show why it is desirable that it should be discountenanced. If I can judge public movements at all, there is a growing sympathy and connexion between municipal and general politics. It has become, perhaps, more apparent in Great Britain than it is here, but it is growing here.
– Let us Hope so.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is an assent to my general proposition. Let us assume that a public servant takes an active part in such a centre as Broken Hill, where municipal politics are ‘fought out on the labour ticket. We may suppose that the public servant is postmaster of the town, and also electoral’ registrar. He takes an active part in a bitter municipal contest, and is immediately afterwards called upon, under the Electoral Act, to administer a law affecting Federal Politics. It is only human nature to suppose that in such circumstances a large number of people at Broken Hill would assume that this postmaster would be a partisan in the discharge of his duties under the Electoral 0Act. It is impossible to avoid such a conclusion. If there is one thing which makes me appreciate the basis of the Public Service of Australia and of Great Britain, as compared with that of the United States of America, it is the fact that our public servants, partly as the result of their own volition, and parti v because their participation in public affairs has been discountenanced, have stood apart from politics, with’ the result that we hear nothing of the system prevailing in America of “ the spoils to the victors.” The evils of that system arise distinctly from the association of public servants in the United States with electoral matters, and the same evils might be expected to follow the adoption of a similar system here.
– What spoils?
– I leave Senator Stewart to determine that. I admit that I have not seen any. I say that it is impossible to avoid the suspicion that a public servant taking an active part in support of a particular party at an election would not to some extent, Chough perhaps, unconsciously, influence the feeling of the elected candidate towards him. In the interests of the public servants themselves, it is desirable that they should stand altogether outside of* the conflict and turmoil- of politics in which we are necessarily engaged. It is in the interests of the public servants particularly, as well as in the interests of the general community, that I feel called upon to oppose the motion.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).This is a very important subject, and deserves a good deal more consi’deration than it is likely to receive this afternoon.. I hold the opinion that it is high time we applied1 a little common sense to our treatment of the public servants in regard to elections generally. Honorable senators appear to forget one important consideration which, to my mind, stands out prominently before all others, so far as the civil servant is concerned : He is a citizen of the State before he ?s a public servant. He i.°. a citizen of the municipality of the local division, in which he lives before he is a public servant. He lives that life apart altogether from his life as a public servant. I should very much like to hear some of our constitutional authorities on the point of whether it is competent for Parliament to deprive a man- of rights which’ have been conferred upon him by the Constitution. I do not know whether that point has ever been discussed. “
– Parliament has done it.
– It has done it for the reason for which many other things have been done, because its authority has never been called into question. The point, so far as I know, has never been disputed. Here is the position : A civil servant is a ratepayer of a municipality. The constitution of that municipality gives every ratepayer of it the right to stand for the position of councillor. He is a shareholder to all intents and purposes in the business of the municipality. Is it right, proper, just, or expedient that we should seek to deprive him of his right to sit as a member of the local council, to take a part in the management of the town ih which- he “lives, and to oversee the expenditure of his own money, for that is practically what he would be doing? I have always thought that, not only the ‘ Federal Parliament, but the
States Parliaments, act very wrongly in treating the public servants not as slaves, as Senator Higgs suggested, but as political eunuchs. What is or ought to be the political aspiration of every man or woman in Australia? Is it not the right to avail themselves to the fullest possible extent of all the activities of citizenship? Yet here we presume to deprive certain of our citizens of their rights and privileges, and merely because they happen to be public servants.
– If the honorable senator were logical, he would permit them to become members of Parliament.
– I certainly would, but I should be still more logical, and I should say “One man one billet.” If a man were a member of Parliament, he should not at the same time be a public servant.
– That is where the honorable senator is illogical.
-If a man is appointed a postmaster, he is not asked at the same time to fill some other position, and one position in the Public Service is enough for any individual at a time. Senator Millen talked about “ the spoils to the victors,” Americanizing our institutions, and that sort of thing. I have heard that before, here and elsewhere, but I never could see that as applied to Australia there was any force in it. Where are the spoils in the position of a municipal councillor? I have been a municipal councillor, but I never shared any spoils. I may tell honorable senators that I got more kicks than halfpennies. If we consider the work of any local authority whatever, it will be admitted that the conductofits business would not interfere in the slightest degree with a man’s duties as a public servant.
– He would have to give about an hour a month to it.
– Or less. It would not interfere in principle or in practice. Senator Millen conjured up some imaginary conflict between local and general politics in connexion with persons living in a certain locality, and he asked what would be the position of a civil servant in that case if he were a member of the local authority ? If the honorable senator had stated some example to show how such a position could arise there might have been some force in his contention.
– I think I did.
– The honorable senator merely drew upon his imagination. He mentioned Broken Hill, where local politics are fought out on labour principles ; but I do not think that even at Broken Hill what Senator Millen imagined would apply. A man might very well be an ardent partisan in municipal politics, might take a very active and keen interest in the way in which the money he contributes to the rates is spent, and how the municipality in which he lives is governed, and at the same time be a perfectly honest electoral registrar for the Commonwealth. Senator Millen has had the misfortune to live in New South Wales-
– I do not regard it as such. I am battling along under it.
– Where so many people have been convicted of corruption, and every man suspects his neighbour of being more or less off the straight. It is high time we applied some robust common sense to questions of this character. Either the public servants of the Commonwealth are citizens of Australia and of the local divisions in which they live, or they are not. If they are citizens they are entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship. I question very much whether we can deprive them of those rights. I say that we certainly ought not to attempt to do so. What should we say of the conduct of those controlling a private company if they expressly prohibited their employes from taking any part whatever in public matters? We should say that the shareholders of that company were tyrants, unfit to live in a free country, and that administration of that kind was a blot upon our free institutions. And we should be right in saying so. Yet here deliberately, and of set purpose, we maim men’s citizenship and deprive them of a portion of their rights as citizens.
– That is not the proposal.
– We relegate them to an inferior position so far as their citizenship is concerned. Senator Mulcahy says that that is not the proposal. The proposal is that they shouldbe permitted to hold elected positions on municipal and other local-governing bodies. Does the honorable senator object to that?
– Yes, I do.
– Does the honorable senator think that any man should be degraded from his citizenship, and here is where the iniquity of the thing comes in according to Senator Mulcahy–
– That “no” is very cheap. We shall see what the honorable senator’s “no” is worth when it comes to a vote. I say that here is where the iniquity of the thing comes in. THese men are not to be permitted to occupy these positions not because of anything they have done, but simply because they are public servants. For that reason they are to be prevented from holding any public position. An idea of this kind is out of harmony with our Australian institutions. No man who holds such ideas is fitted for Australian citizenship. He ought to go home to the old country, and serve a period of probation under a semi-despotism, and then come back and live here in free Australia. Some honorable senators do not appreciate the liberties they enjoy in this country. Honorable senators ought not, considering the position in which they find themselves,, to try to deprive other men of their rights. I trust that an overwhelming majority of the Senate will support the principles of liberty and full citizenship by passing the motion.
– If there were anything in the law which absolutely forbade public servants, under any circumstances, from taking upon themselves other public duties I should be strongly opposed to it. But my experience shows me that it is not desirable that civil servants as a class should interfere in matters of public concern outside their own duties. I know of cases where such interference has been mischievous. Civil servants have held positions as secretaries of local bodies with which their relatives or connexions by marriage have been associated, and there has been a considerable amount of feeling on the part of the public to whose interests we all desire to attend. The public have cried out, “ We pay sp-and-so to do certain work, and we wish he would confine himself to that work.” In nearly all local bodies demands are made upon members which render such positions impossible, as a rule, for public servants who properly attend to the duties for which they are paid. I know of cases where it has been necessary to remind certain public servants in Tasmania (hat they could be much more beneficially occupied than in discharging certain extra duties which they have taken upon’ themselves - sometimes elective duties and sometimes those with which1 payment was, associated. As a rule, public servants have enough to do to discharge the duties for which they are paid.
– They have their evenings just as other workmen have.
– The duties of persons who fill municipal positions are not always discharged in the evenings. I admit that there are circumstances when, on account of public servants possessing particular qualifications, or there being a scarcity of those qualifications on the part of other people, they might be permitted to hold municipal offices. Our law therefore provides that the GovernorGeneral in Council shall have power, under such circumstances to permit public servants to take upon themselves such duties. That is a fair compromise. We are not absolutely depriving public servants of their rights as citizens.
– Instructions have been issued that practically say that public servants are not to apply.
– It may be desirable that those instructions should be withdrawn ; but, as a general rule, it should be recognised that we pay our public servants to discharge certain public duties - and I have always been in favour of paying them fairly - and we should expect them not to undertake other duties which may at times come into conflict with the duties they are discharging for the Commonwealth. They should recognise that their first duty is to those who employ them.
– I am astonished at some of the arguments that have been advanced against Senator Pearce’s motion. I am led to ask myself the question - what do some honorable senators desire to make of our public servants ? Our Constitution and our Public Service law seem to imply that no matter what position a man holds in the Public Service, he shall be qualified to discharge the duties intrusted to him, an honorable citizen, and one whose general life is such as to cause him to be appreciated by all with whom he comes in contact. Yet, although we pass laws that seem to require that a public servant shall almost embody the idea of the old Apostle, and be a perfect man, we try to make him the greatest mummy in creation. We seem to regard him as nothing more than a mere human machine, to be set to work at the dictation of the overseers of the service every day of his lifetime. Such’ a position as that is, as Senator Stewart has well characterized it, degrading. It certainly reduces the dignity and the manly spirit of our public servants. It has been urged by some honorable senators that if public servants take upon themselves functions in connexion with local institutions, their services may be required in those capacities at any time. The best answer to that is that a man, knowing the occupation that he follows, and understanding precisely what his duties are, would himself be best fitted to decide whether he could fill a vacant position in connexion with a municipality, or whether its duties would conflict with the duties he owes to the State. Surely it is reasonable to ask that a public servant shall be allowed to be a free agent so far as that is concerned - that he shall be the sole judge as to whether his public duties will bring him into conflict with municipal duties.
– Would the honorable senator leave the officer to be the judge ?
– The sole judge. What harm is there in that ? If I were a public servant, and took it upon myself to undertake municipal duties, surely sufficient intelligence ought to be attributed to me to enable me to know whether my municipal duties would bring me into conflict with my duties as a public officer. I ought not to ask other people to take that responsibility off my shoulders. Why should we, by hedging round public servants with restrictions and regulations, prevent them from moving about as ordinary independent men? Our law absolutely shuts a man’s mouth when he becomes a public servant. We practically say to them, “You must not speak above your breath.” That is rather a ridiculous position in this enlightened age. The answer given by the Minister was, whether intended or not, one that practically told the civil servants that they must not apply even for the consent of the Governor-General ; that they must remain without the full rights of citizenship, and must not make an attempt to obtain them. It is high time that we began to recognise that public servants have a right to be regarded as citizens in the full sense of the term. So far as concerns American institutions, we have no reasonable ground to fear that any party in Australia is likely to favor any such system as has been described. In Western Australia
Ave have had ample proof that public servants, when allowed to take up municipal positions, have been towers of strength. Their capacity in business matters, and their superior knowledge of municipal questions, were asserted in such a way as to render them extremely valuable citizens. I trust that the motion will be carried.
– The last speaker, I dare say, will call to mind a very old saying that a man cannot serve two masters. My impression is that when a person accepts a position as a civil servant he does so on the distinct understanding that he is to give his services to his employer. I myself have been connected with a banking institution for many years, and the rule which applies to the Commonwealth, civil servants always applied to us. I do not see that it did any harm. We -may be quite sure that if a man serves his master faithfully he has no lime to attend to municipal matters. If a man accepts a position as an alderman, and does his duty properly, he has to make himself acquainted with all the public works of the municipality. He must do that in the day time, because public works cannot be properly inspected at night. Again, many municipal councils hold their meetings in the afternoons. There is no hardship in adhering to the present rule. I am rather surprised that Senator Stewart, at this, time of day, should speak of the degradation of a public servant by his being deprived of the so-called right to serve on a municipal council. It seems to me to be undesirable for a person to be at the same time a servant of the public and a .representative elected by the public. Many banks do not permit their officers to accept positions as justices of the peace unless they can discharge the duties without interfering with their banking work. I know of an instance where a bank manager, who was a justice of the peace, was so frequently on the bench, and so seldom attended to his duties during banking hours, that a rule had to be made that in future the servants of the bank should not accept such a position, except with the permission of the board.
– The duties we are referring to would not be discharged in office hours.
– How can a man be a member of a municipal council and be sure that he will not have to attend to some of its duties during office hours?
– Hundreds of them do.
– Take the case of a postmaster of a town. What time has he to space for municipal duties?
– If he had not the time he could not take the position.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well tha’t many persons have such a large bump of vanity that they like to belong to all kinds of institutions. They are not content with doing their duty to one or two institutions, but wish to belong to a dozen. In the interests of the public servants, I shall vote against the motion. When they retire, either voluntarily or on a pension, let them offer their services to outside institutions, but not before.
– I think that Senator Walker began his speech from a false stand-point in saying that when we gave employment to a person in the Public Service we bargained with him to forego a portion of his citizen rights. I hold that a public servant is paid for the work which he performs for the Commonwealth, and not for some rights which he has foregone. If Senator Walker will look at the matter from that standpoint, I think he will see that he has argued on wrong premises. I cannot understand how any reason can be urged against a public officer taking part in municipal life like an ordinary citizen. Take an alderman, who is a miner, or a carpenter, or a shopkeeper, he follows his ordinary avocation during the day, and serves the municipali>” in the evening. A public officer does his official work during prescribed hours, and. in the evening he could attend municipal meetings. Certainly Senator Keating his changed his attitude very considerably sine; this question was discussed here in connexion with the Public Service Bill.
-Col. Gould.. - He has to accept the law as it stands, whatever view he may have expressed prior to its enactment.
– I do not know that Senator Keating is accepting the law. I think he is assisting to make it utterly impossible for any good to come out of the law, because, in my opinion, it is ridiculous to urge that if a public officer can obtain the consent of the head of his Department he may take part in municipal life, when at the same time he is practically told that an application to that effect would be ignored. Apparently Ministerial respon sibility is resting very heavily upon Senator Keating when we find that so early in his official career he is turning a somersault of this kind. I find that, in regard to not only municipal affairs, but party politics, the honorable and learned senator took up a very decided stand when the question was being discussed here. If any reason can be urged against a public officer taking an active part in municipal politics, surely a stronger objection could be offered to him becoming a member ot the National Association, or the Political Labour League, or any other political organization. On that occasion Senator Keating was a champion of public officers being permitted to have full political rights. But now he finds fault with public officers being members of municipal councils.
– The Act provides for every case which may arise to be dealt with on its individual merits.
– It is all very well for the Minister to say that the Act provides for every case to be dealt with on its merits; when, at the same time, the Ministry issue an instruction which practically prevents public officers from making an application to the heads of their Departments. They really have no opportunity of presenting the merits of their cases. The instruction takes, away ,f rom . public officers any little liberty in this re,gard which is allowed by the Act. In order to give the Seriate an idea of the attitude which Senator Keating took up when the Public Service Bill was under consideration, I propose to read the following quotation : -
I am entirely in accord with the principle cf the amendment -
-Col. Gould.- What was the nature of the amendment?
– The object of the amendment was to allow the .full exercise of political rights by public officers.
-Col. Gould. - Was this speech made on clause 79 of the Bill ?
– I am unable to tell the honorable and learned senator, because the passage I am reading was quoted by an honorable senator during a debate on Public Service Regulation No. 1 on-the 12th June, 1903 -
I am entirely in accord with the principle of the amendment, that there is nothing in the Bill which denies to civil servants the right to band themselves together, to associate as members of a civil service association, or to join one or the other of the many political tor semi-political organizations, or the national or semi-national organizations, which permeate the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– What was the amendment?
– I take it that the political provisions of the Public Service Act were under discussion.
– Is it not necessary to know the nature of the amendment in order to understand the meaning of Senator Keating’s words?
– The amendment related to the right of public officers to join ordinary organizations.
– The political rights of public officers was the subject under discussion.
– This motion does not deal with a political right, but with a social right.
– Does the Minister mean to tell me that municipal business is social, not political?
– The object of this motion is to give public officers the right to serve two or three masters df they wish.
– If a public officer were allowed to be a member of a political organization, as a Minister advocated, he would be serving another master.
– I still believe that public officers ought to be allowed to join any political organization.
– If a public officer is allowed to be a member of a municipal political organization, why should he not be permitted to hold any office therein ?
– He will be permitted by the Government to do so, if his duties as a municipal councillor do not come into conflict with his duties as a public officer.
– Under the instruction to which I have referred, a public officer is really prevented from presenting the merits of his application. When it was agreed in the Senate, as a sort of compromise I suppose, that public officers were to be permitted to hold civic positions if thev could get the consent of the heads of their Departments, we did not expect that a regulation would be issued which would take away theft right to make an application. The position, of Senator Keating is quite inconsistent with the strong attitude he took up while the Public Service Bill was under consideration
– As I intend to vote against the motion, I desire to explain my position, because otherwise it might be urged1 that I was not ki sympathy with what is desired by Senator Pearce. Senator de Largie has altogether misunderstood the remarks; of m-v colleague, Senator Keating, on the occasion to which he has referred. The amendment before the Senate at the time related to political organizations, and not to corporations or district councils, or roads boards.
– Does the Minister still insist that municipal bodies are not political ?
– Undoubtedly. I should be very sorry indeed to see a district or municipal council in South Australia become a political institution. I know; that it has been done in some parts of the world. In. New York, for instance, it led to the institution’ of Tammany Hall, and to the commission of various crimes by that .body. Even in England, to a certain extent, municipal candidates are ticketed as either conservative, or liberal, or radical. It is a very great mistake to introduce party politics into municipal life. The views which .Senator Keating expressed on a totally different subject cannot be held to apply to a motion in favour of public officers being allowed to join municipal institutions. In South Australia, when I first entered’ public life, public officers did not possess that right. I was in favour of the right being granted to public officers, so long, as this motion says - such positions do cot interfere with the proper performance of their duties as public servants.
The regulations were altered, and for many years public servants were allowed to be members of corporations or district councils, our only two local governing bodies. So far as I know, it worked very well. The right was taken away by) the jenkins Government, and restored by the present Government. I believe that no harm ever resulted, or is likely to result, from: the exercise of the night. Therefore, I am in full sympathy with the motion. I think a mistake was made by the Government who told the heads of Departments that they disapproved of public officers applying for leave under section 79 of the Act, to occupy municipal positions. The Act should have been allowed to take its course, and each case dealt with on its merits. There are ambitious public servants who desire to become members of local bodies, but the nature of their duties may be such as to justify the Governor-General in Council - which, of course, means the Ministry - in refusing to allow them to enter public life. It is quite conceivable that the functions of a member of a local governing body, if exercised by a public servant, might clash with the duties of his office. There are, however, hundreds of cases in which I can see not the slightest objection to public servants being allowed to become members of district or municipal councils. I certainly, would not permit an officer to become a member of a district council which met at three o’clock in the afternoon, when he should be attending to his public duties ; nor would I allow an officer to become a member of a local body which met, for instance, directly after lunch. Where, however, these bodies meet in the evening, as the great majority do, I see not the slightest objection to a public servant becoming a member, and thus, as it were, obtaining a little recreation. We all know that a change of occupation is as good as a rest to many men. I cannot see how allowing a public servant to become a member of a district council, or similar body, will make him in the slightest degree less able to serve either Commonwealth or State. I therefore think that the instruction to which I have referred should be withdrawn, and that we should rely on the Act of Parliament which, under certain circumstances, gives public servants the right to take part in public life. The motion distinctly makes the proviso that the occupancy of a position on a local body shall not be permitted to interfere with the performance of duties in the Public Service. The question, however, arises : Who is to decide whether there is any interference? It is clear that the decision cannot be left to the public servant himself, but must remain with the Minister of the day, to be dealt with under regulation. The public servants throughout the Commonwealth should mot, by any instruction which has been issued, be deprived of any right conferred upon them by the Act. I ask Senator Pearce to withdraw the motion, which, if carried, cannot possibly have any effect. No motion of the Senate can override an Act of Parliament, the administration of which lies with the Government. If the Government do not administer the Act to the satisfaction of honorable sena- tors, or of members of another place, the remedy is in the hands of Parliament.
– The motion merely re-asserts the right conferred by the Act.
– The matter will be reconsidered by the Government, and, if I have my way, the instruction will be withdrawn, and the public servants left with the right conferred by the Act. As to whether membership of local governing bodies interferes with the proper performance of duties in the Public Service, the Government will have to take the responsibility placed upon them by the Act, and deal with every case on its merits.
– Had the instruction referred to not been issued by the Government, there would have been no necessity to submit the motion now under discussion. The information conveyed in the answer given by Senator Keating to Senator Pearce’s question, on the 1 st November, has given rise to the present proposal, which, I think, is misunderstood by Senator Walker, when he says he would not be inclined to favour public servants being allowed to take part in the business of local bodies if, by their so doing, their working hours in the Public Service would be interfered with. The honorable senator instanced postmasters, many of whom, we know, are engaged at al! hours. But the motion provides for all such cases ; and- if there be any interference with official duties, a public servant will refrain from taking any part in public life.
– Who is to be the judge as, to the interference with official duties ?
– The officers themselves will know whether there is likely to be any interference.
– Then public servants are to be a law unto themselves.
– Not at all. If a public servant is engaged officially until 6 o’clock in the evening, it is, clear that he cannot attend a meeting of a local body at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, however, afternoon meetings are, in a great number of cases, discountenanced by the ratepayers, who prefer that the business .shall be transacted in the evening, when they may be present. At the present moment, in Queensland, there is an agitation to have meetings of all bodies of this kind held in the evening. I ask Senator Walker where he proposes, to draw the line in the case of the public servants ? In many places there are schools of arts and schools of mines, maintained by public subscription, assisted by grants from the Government. Are public servants to be debarred from membership on the committee of such institutions, to which, it must not be forgotten, they subscribe?
– A school of arts is not a local governing body.
– A school of arts is, part and parcel of our system of local government.
– Cannot public servants be on the committees of schools of arts?
– Most decidedly they can.
– And there has never been anv interference with them on that account.
– But these are elective positionsand I desire to know where Senator Walker draws the line.
– Local governing bodies mean municipal councils, shire councils, and roads boards, and not schools of arts.
– But there are boards of water supplyand committees, for the management of hospitals. In Queensland a number of the hospitals have been placed altogether under the control of local residents,; and I should like to know whether public servants are to be debarred from being elected to the committees in such cases?
– Local government means local government.
– All the institutions I have mentioned are part and parcel of our system of local government. In every case the funds, in the first place, are obtained from the people, and, subsidized by the State, are spent for the benefit of the residents.
– Does the honorable senator regard a local cricket club as a local governing body ?
– A local cricket club only embraces a small portion of the people, whereas the maintenance of schools of art, hospitals, and s.o forth is contributed to by every one.
-Col. Gould. - But the subscriptions are purely voluntary.
– In many parts of Australia the subscriptions are not regarded altogether as voluntary, but more as representing a duty to contribute a fair share to institutions for the benefit of the district. In Brisbane the secretary of the Water Board is the Clerk of the State Parliament, and he was appointed to the position by the State Government. There was some objection raised to this gentleman holding the office, but solely on the ground that he thereby enjoyed a second salary; there was no objection to his being a member of the board. This board controls a large revenue and expenditure, and employs a considerable number of servants.
– Has the board the power of rating?
– Undoubtedly, whether the water be used or not.
– I know that a number of members of Parliament in Queensland did object to this gentleman holding the office of secretary to the board.
– That objection, as I say, was entirely based on the fact that he drew two salaries. I am surprised that Senator Walker and others should trench on what they regard as the rights of property by prohibiting a public servant, who may have considerable interests in a district, from taking an active interest in the improvement of the district. In many places there are ratepayers’ associations, and I should like to know whether Senator Walker would object to public servants becoming members? A public servant, as I say, may own property., and the health of his wife and children is just as important to him as the health of the wife and family next door is to his neighbour.
– A ratepayers’ association is not a governing body.
– It is an association formed with the object of electing desirable people as members of the local governing body.
– It is more with the object of looking after members when they are elected.
– Probably ; but the first consideration is to get the men who are regarded as best qualified, and I should say that Senator Walker, to be logical, must object to public servants becoming members of such associations. In my opinion, public servants should be permitted to accept positions of the kind if they do not interfere with their official duties. A public servant may be the owner of a considerable amount of property in a district, and as such he will be interested in seeing that good roads are made, that the best possible means of communication are provided, and that schools and such other institutions are established. We know that local bodies are often in a position to satisfy such requirements, but the opponentsof the motion contend that, while the public servant holding property in a district may be interested in its improvement and progress, and may be the Best qualified resident of the district for a position on thelocal authority, he should be prevented from taking part in the local government of that district. I ask honorable senators who would be the best men to have as members of local bodies in the back country? In seven cases out of ten it will be found that officials of the Lands Department are the best men in outside districts to occupy positions as members of a local authority. They knowtheir district as a rule better than any one else in it, and understand its requirements. They know where bridges should be constructed, and where, in the interests of the travelling public, tanks should be provided. It cannot be denied that such men could render far more service as members of the local authority than a business man in the town, who from one year’s end to the other may not travel five miles from his own door in any direction. Senator Millen must admit that in outside districts public officers, especially of the Lands Department, are the persons best fitted to occupy positions as members of a local authority.
– I know of a case where a district surveyor, as mayor of a town, came into violent conflict with the Lands Department in connexion with the very matters to which the honorable member has referred.
– The public servant could only take office with the approval of the head of his Department.
– That is the law today.
– That is the law to- day, but a notice has been issued to the head’s of Departments, instructing, them to discountenance any such thing. I have pointed out that public servants are in many cases the most suitable men in a district to occupy seats on local boards.
– I interjected merely because the honorablesenator appealed to me for support.
- Senator Millen has a particularcase in his mind, but broadly speaking, the honorable senator must admit that in many districts public officers from the experience and information gained in the discharge of their duties as such, are better qualified to occupy positions as members of local” authorities than townsmen who may never leave the street in which they live from one year’s end to the other. I do not think we should interfere with the citizen rights of public servants. I know of many cases in which public servants elected as members of local authorities have been able to render most valuable service to the people who elected them, and they have at the same time taken care that their duties as members of local governing bodies have not interfered with their duties as public servants. I shall certainly support the motion.
- Senator Playford has given very strong reasons why this motion should be carried.The honorable senator explained that he has had experience of the operation of such a provision as is here proposed, that no ill effects resulted from it, and that when there was a departure from that provision experience in his own State had shown that it was wise to revert to it. The honorable senator further undertook, so far as he is personally concerned, to withdraw the obnoxious instruction to which reference has been made. I believe “ obnoxious “ to be the correct term to apply to it. Under the law as it stands, civil servant’s may, under proper conditions, and where their duties as municipal councillors will not conflict with their duties as publicservants, enter municipal councils or other local bodies. But the Government, beyond the law, and outside its provisions, have directed that the desire to enter public bodies shall be discouraged as much as possible. That instruction, of course, is an absolute bar. Whenever a civil servant who might be a very desirable member of a local body, and whose fulfilment of the duties of that position would not in any way conflict with his service to the Commonwealth, applies for leave to accept such a position he must do so through the head of his Department, and, of course, he will at once be confronted with a copy of the instructions. In the circumstances he would be a very foolhardy man who would persevere with his desire to take a part in local government. The Minister was perfectly correct in saying that the motion can have no actual effect, but there can cer- tainly be no harm in the Senate declaring its opinion that the instruction which has been issued is undesirable. “The wisdom and, indeed, the necessity, in some instances, of permitting public servants to enter local bodies must be apparent to any person who has lived in the outside dis.tricts. Very often in such districts the number of persons qualified to occupy such positions is small. From various causes the general information of the majority of the residents is limited. The public servant is very often, in such cases, one of very few who are readily in touch with current history, and that renders it extremely desirable that he should be permitted to fulfil the duties of a member of the local governing body. I shall vote for the motion.
– The leader of the Government in the Senate has assumed a very fair attitude in connexion with this motion. It is not wise to pass a general motion on a subject of this kind.
– But we have passed a law to this effect, and by the motion we simply say that, in our opinion, the Government should carry out that law.
– There cannot be the slightest doubt that in some localities men occupying Government positions would be amongst the most desirable men to have as members of municipal bodies. But, at the same time,, it should not be forgotten that there are many municipal institutions in and around Melbourne, and the other large cities of the Commonwealth, that have, unfortunately, and unjustifiably, I think, constituted themselves quasi -political institutions. If there was one matter concerning which the opinion of Parliament was strong when the question was before us, it was that it was desirable in the interests of the service itself that public servants should keep themselves free from party politics. The law we passed on that subject had that object in view. When a motion for its modification was brought before us, it was still provided that public servants should, as far as possible, keep themselves free from party politics. The difficulty I see in the matter is that which I have already indicated. It cannot be denied that many municipal councils are quasipolitical institutions.
– They have imprudently interfered with matters outside their jurisdiction.
– That may be, but the fact still remains.
– A sufficient leaven of public servants would probably mend that.
– I have not a word to say against them, but I have indicated the practical difficulty in the way. Senator Playford has said that he is more or less in sympathy with the motion, and that he does not agree with the minute to which so much exception has been taken. I think the Senate is entitled to some undertaking that each case will be dealt with on its merits, and no doubt the minute which has proved an obstruction in the past will be withdrawn with that object.
– We cannot get that undertaking. One Minister has said that he disapproves of the instruction, whilst the other has said that it will not be withdrawn.
– So far as I can judge from Senator Keating’s approval of my remarks, the honorable and learned .senator will have no objection to the withdrawal of the minute in order that each case may be dealt with on its merits. Senator Pearce has stated that in Western Australia! public servants have rendered very important service as members of road boards and such bodies. We have a right, first of all, to see that their duties as public servants are carried out, and that nothing shall be allowed to interfere with them, and where the meetings of local authorities are held at night time, there is very little difficulty about that, but where they are held during the day it is, of course, out of the question that public servants should be members of those bodies. If a strong opinion on the point is expressed it cannot very well be disregarded, and the Senate has a right to press its desire that the minute referred to should be withdrawn. I consider the motion, far too strong, as I believe the whole case will be met by a reconsideration of the minute. To carry such a motion as that submitted to the Senate might prove more or less embarrassing bv reason of its general terms. T cordially approve of the attitude of the leader of the Senate on the question, and after his* promise I think we have a right to be satisfied. I feel quite certain tha’: in view of the expression of opinion we have had the Government will be prepared to reconsider the instruction, and thus all that I think is desired will be attained.
– I agree with a good many of the remarks of Senator Best. At first, I was under the impression that an attempt was being made to interfere with the regulations under the Public Service Act. But I find that ,the difficulty with which Senator Pearce is confronted, is that a minute has been issued by a Government, discountenancing any applications from public servants to serve as members of municipalities. I quite agree that it is not reasonable to take away from the public servants any rights which Parliament has expressly given to them. The Public Service Act provides that public servants shall not occupy certain positions without obtaining the consent of the Governor-General in Council. I do not think that any minute should be issued to discourage or prevent any public servant from making his application to occupy a position of that character if he so desires. But the words of the motion are that the Senate expresses the opinion that public servants “ should be permitted “ to hold elected positions. I admit that there is a qualification - so long as such positions do not interfere with the proper performance of their duties as public servants.
The Commonwealth Public- Service Act provides that except with the express permission of the Governor-General in Council, which permission may at any time by Order in Council’ be withdrawn, no public servant shall accept or continue to hold an office under the Government of any State or under ,a municipal corporation. An offi-cer is expressly authorized by the section to make his application to the Government. There seems to be some doubt as to whether the Government will withdraw the minute of which complaint has been made. I think that it is a fair thing that the minute should be withdrawn. An assurance has been given that the Government will consider the question. I feel satisfied that if the Government are assured that the withdrawal of the minute meets with the concurrence of the Senate, they will withdraw it ; unless, of course, they have some strong opinions of their own on the subject. In view of the assurance of the Minister, I appeal to Senator Pearce not to try to force a division on this very drastic motion. Suppose that he was successful in carrying it, and that a similar motion were to be brought before the other House, and to be negatived. The Government would then be confronted with opinions expressed by the two Houses in contrary directions. That shows how undesirable it is to issue regulations, except when they are in accordance with the law, or have been approved by Parliament. I think that, under the circumstances, Senator Pearce would be well advised if he withdrew his motion. He may rest assured that the object which he desires to attain has the sympathy of the Senate, and that the Government, who have already promised that the subject will be considered, will deal with it very much in accordance with his own desires. I do not feel inclined to take exception to Senator Pearce having brought forward the matter. He has done a good service to the public servants” and to the community generally, and what has taken place emphasizes the fact that the Senate is always willing to protect interests that are conferred upon individuals by law. While, strictly speaking, the Public Service Act itself would preclude public servants from occupying positions as committeemen of hospitals, schools1, of art. cricket clubs.
Or similar bodies, I should be very sorry to see it carried out in that way ; because I recognise that very often public servants render very valuable service in such capacities.. I should be extremely sorry to see anything done that would interfere with such work as they are able to do for the public in many country towns.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I have been very pleased to see that even those honorable senators who are opposed to the terms of my motion are against the action that was taken by a past Ministry. I do not wish to place honorable senators in a false position by calling upon them to vote for or against this, motion, or to make it appear as though they condoned the minute to which reference has been made. The Minister of Defence has made a very definite statement, but I cannot overlook the fact that the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, with whose Department the Public Service Act has, to do, did not go so far as did the Minister of Defence. If the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs will adopt the same attitude as his colleague, and say that, in the light of the expression of opinion in the Senate, the Cabinet will take into consideration- the question of the withdrawal of the minute, I shall be prepared to withdraw the motion.
– I can promise that both my colleague and myself will bring the subject before the Cabinet. It must be remembered, however, that this matter has been dealt with by two previous Governments.
– It has been condoned by all the Governments since 1902.
– Personally, I rely upon the Act entirely, and think that everything necessary is therein provided for.
– I understand that the position of Ministers is that they are prepared to go back to what is laid down in the Public Service Act.
– Hear, hear; that is my view.
– In the light of that statement. I do not feel justified in pressing the motion to a division, and I ask leave to withdraw it.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I beg to call attention, to the Journals of the Senate of the 19th October, by which it appears that the following resolution was passed by the Senate : -
That in accordance with the most treasured traditions of British Governments and British justice, and for the cementing of the Empire into one harmonious whole, this Senate is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland.; and to move -
That the President be requested to take the necessary steps in order that this resolution of the Senate may be communicated to His Majesty the King, with the hope that effect may be given thereto.
In asking the Senate to accept this motion, r have no intention of occupying any time; in fact, if I were inclined to do so, I am not physically fit.It may appear strange that Ishould propose a motion of this kind. Theexplanation is a very simple one. As honorable senators are aware, a motion was carried by a substantial majority, expressing an opinion in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. By an oversight a formal provision was omitted from the motion. The matter entirely escaped my notice at the time. In fact, sir, until you yourself sent for me, and pointed out the omission, I had not noticed it. If Iunderstood you correctly, you said that it was very necessary that something should be added, and that seeing that the substance has been carried, a motion of this character would undoubtedlygo as purely formal.
– I could not have said that.
– I understood that that was your view ; and it was under your advice that I brought the matter on again. After consulting the Clerk as to what would be, the proper! form in which what I desired should be framed, the present motion was hit upon. I do not intend to argue the subject, but simply to put it in its proper light in order that steps may be taken to deal with the substantive motion carried by the Senate in a proper way. That is all the explanation I have to make.
Debate (on motion by Senator Croft) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Select Committee on the Tobacco Monopoly have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to this day fortnight.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 4127) on motion by Senator Pulsford -
That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races, this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged. This Senate further expressesits earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage and to the well-being of the whole world.
– A fortnight ago to-day, I had the honor to introduce this motion to the notice of the Senate. I commenced my speech late in the afternoon, and as halfpast six o’clock arrived before I had concluded, the Senate granted me leave to resume to-day. When I last spoke. I gave the Senate the gist of a considerable quantity of correspondence that had taken place in past years between the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the representatives of Japan in Australia, and the Commonwealth, and also correspondence in which the Japanese Ambassador in London was concerned ; the whole of it showing the feeling which existed in Japan regarding the character of the Australian legislation embodied in our Immigration Restriction Act. I desire now to continue the consideration of the whole subject. In the first place, I would ask the very careful attention of honorable senators while I direct their thoughts to the position now occupied in the great family’ of nations by the Empire of Japan. I desire them to realize what Ju pan has become, and with that object in view, I propose to give the Senate the benefit of information which I have gathered. In the early part of last year, great efforts were being made by both Russia and Germany to discredit Japan, and to produce throughout the civilized world a feeling that her success meant danger to civilization. In dealing with that proceeding, Dr. Morrison, the well-known and muchesteemed correspondent of the London Times, sent a very important communication, which was published in that newspaper last year. He wrote as follows : -
One can easily detect that Japanese publicists find difficulty in treating such a chimera seriously. Their country has associated herself so closely with the West during the past halfcentury, and has developed so many cardinal interests which, while thev lie at the very root of her present and future prosperity, plainly depend for their growth and security upon the preservation of good relations with Europe and America, that a racial conflict between Occident and Orient seems to them a detestable and unthinkable outlook. Thus, hard as it is to be treated with distrust ‘where tone reposes confidence, and with enmity where ‘one .tenders amity, the Japanese wisely keep their temper. It is useless, they perceive, to gird at a state sf affairs which can be mended only bv patient and good-humoured effort. Here and there, indeed, a growing fear can be detected that if Europe, falling under the influence of the spectre conjured up originally by the German Emperor from some realm of nightmares and bogics and now materialised by Russia in the cause of her own selfish aggressions, insists upon excluding the Japanese from Occidental society, they may ultimately be forced into actin” the part now most 11 n l u s t 1 v and unwarrantably assigned to them ; mav be compelled to organize a yellow-race resistance to this uncivilized ostracism.
He then dealt with the objects of the war, and in doing so he reproduced a statement made by Count Katsura, which was published in the United States, through the agency of the Rev. W. Imbrice, a prominent United States missionary. This is what Dr. Morrison wrote: - ‘
Much of Count Katsura’s explanation is intended to prove what the public have already agreed to admit - namely, that the object of the war is the security of the Japanese Empire and the permanent peace of the East. But he is particularly strong in declaring that the contest has nothing whatever to do with differences of race or religion - concerning which latter point his choice of a Christian missionary for mouthpiece is significant - and that it is a war carried on in the interests of justice, humanity, and the commerce and civilization of the world. His Excellency believes that no other Government ever look such, pains as Japan took at the outbreak of the war to inculcate “ the duty of conducting it in strict accord wilh the principles of humanity and the usages of international law.” Three precautions were adopted - first local officials were everywhere reminded that the fullest protection must be accorded to all Russians residing within their jurisdiction ; secondly, faculties of educational institutions, whatever their grade, were warned to instruct the students under their charge that foreigners must be treated with the utmost courtesy ; thirdly, to recognised representatives pf religious bodies, Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian alike, communications were addressed, asking them to teach their co-religionists that the war being solely between State and State, individuals had no concern in it, and that whatever a man’s nationality, he should be secure against molestation or annoyance so long as he ittended to his business peacefully.
Turning to the imputation that if Japan emerged victorious from the struggle, she would stir up the anti-foreign spirit now latent among the Chinese, and use it to serve her own ends, the Premier made two comments - one was that Japan’s conduct during the Boxer trouble should protect her against such suspicions ; the other that precisely in order to keep China beyond the range of exciting factors, Japan had never ceased to impress upon her the expediency of observing strict neutrality. If, again, the question Df religion were introduced, if it were suggested that whereas the West stands for Christianity, Japan is for Buddhism or for Shinto, then the answer is that absolute freedom of conscience exists in Japan; that in every town throughout the Empire Christianity is openly preached, and Christian schools are organized ; that to such schools the same privileges are extended as to Government schools of corresponding grade; that Christian newspapers and magazines circulate everywhere; that Christian associations are allowed to own land, buildings, and other property “ for the extension of Christianity, the “carrying on of Christian education, and the performance ;of works of charity and benevolence;” that such associations are incorporated under the article of the Civil Code which deals- with bodies founded for “purposes beneficial to the public;” that professing Christians are to be found among members of the Diet, Judges on the Bench, professors in the Universities, editors of leading papers, and officers in the army and navy ; that Christian chaplains are permitted to accompany the troops at public charges, and that, in view of Russia’s very different record, the argument that she stands for Christianity and Japan for Buddhism or Shinto will not hold for one instant.
Finally, with regard to the contention that Japan has taken only the superficial elements of Occidental civilization, and that since at heart she fosters the spirit of the East, her defeat by Russia in this contest, would make for the best interests of humanity, Count Katsura risks whether an educational system modelled on Occidental lines, laws drafted in conformity with the best principles of Occidental jurisprudence, a judiciary which in theory, at all events, satisfies Occidental standards, and a Constitution in accordance with those of the most: advanced Occidental nations - whether all these things can be called products of the spirit of the East or reconciled with superficial adherence t to the civilization of the West. Should Japan ever become the leader of the Orient, her influence will be exercised to turn her neighbours’ feet into the path she has herself irrevocably chosen - the path of close community with the Occident. (
In the same letter, Dr. Morrison quoted, as equally strong and convincing, a resolution which was unanimously passed on the 28th May of last year, at a meeting of the three Universities and all the principal educational institutions of Tokio. The principal clause of the resolution .runs as follows : -
That we confirm the statement that Japan has not entered the present struggle for aggrandisement or conquest, but has been forced into it for the security of the empire, for the permanent peace of the East, and for the progress of that beneficent and enlightened civilization which Japan herself has imbibed from the nations of the West, and which she has made her own.
Dr. Morrison then quoted from the manifesto which was issued by General Oku to the Chinese of the Liau-tung peninsula, and which, after stating the reasons which compelled Japan to enter upon the war, continues as follows : -
Twice in previous wars it has been proved that the discipline of our- troops, is strict and -that they are never guilty of excesses. You, people of China, have seen it with your eyes and heard it with your ears. This war is not inspired by the smallest enmity to the Chinese nation; on the contrary, its aim is to save your nation from the fire and the flood. You Lave no reason to be alarmed. Every one may pursue his avocation confidently. Our forces operate for your benefit and seek to secure your advantage.
Such being the motives that direct our arms, we have the world’s approval. Were there any doubts as to the chivalry of our country they should be dispelled by the provision we have made for the sick and wounded of our own and our enemy’s forces, by the presence of our women to tend them. The facts are selfevident. But, unfortunately, it is inevitable *hat the inhabitants of (he belligerent area should find their industry interrupted, should lie required to give their houses for the accommodation of troops should have their goods and their cattle requisitioned. Endeavour to submit to these things. And be persuaded, on the other hand, that our men will behave with strict discipline, and will never resort to intimidation or pillage. But if any of you, for the sake of personal profit, enter into collusion with the enemy to place obstacles in the way of our army, be assured that punishment will fc: inflicted without relenting.
In concluding his letter, Dr. Morrison referred to the words addressed by Captain Shiina, of the Japanese transport Kinshiu Maru, at the moment when she was about to be torpedoed by the Russians of the Vladivostock squadron : -
Our’ ship has fallen in with the enemy’s war vessels, and our fate is sealed. Our lot is to sink with our ship. But after we have perished, it will not be long before our foes meet the same fate, for our fleet is at hand. When the moment for death comes it is but the flash of a rifle. You and I together will show our barbarous enemy how soldiers of the Empire ought to die. Loyal comrades, remain quietly below until I give> you the last order. If any survive remember that the land is in that direction (pointing to the west). And remember to tell the people at home of the fate of our ship, and how her freight of soldier friends died for their country. Good-bye.
When the Birkenhead went down off the Cape of Good Hope, long years ago, with the soldiers on board ail standing at attention, the people of the British Empire were proud of the discipline and selfcontrol exhibited by their countrymen. Japan has an equal right to be proud of that and the many other incidents of the supreme self-control of her sons when faced with death. On the 14th May, in a very powerful article dealing with’ Japan, and the wonderful effect she was having upon the world, and entitled “ The Surprise of the Continent,” the London Spectator wrote in these terms : -
The Japanese display’ a_ quality and kind of courage of which there are’ but few instances in history. Contempt of death like theirs has hardly been recorded, and they combine with it the rushing daring which makes a charge so overwhelming to any but the picked troops of the world. That offer of twenty thousand volunteers to assist in sinking the steamers in the entrance to the harbour of Port Arthur, which involved to each man almost the certainty of death by bullet or by drowning, was an incident which will live for ever in the future history of Japan. When an army is composed of the men who fill up forlorn hopes, that army will go far. Even the British, though they understood much more of the facts, scarcely expected such splendid purposeful valour as the Japanese have exhibited, in their recent engagements.
It is not, however, their daring which is the really wonderful quality displayed by the Jap anese in their recent actions, by land as well as by sea. Two other qualities, each manifested in an extraordinary degree, differentiate them from all other Asiatics. One is the apparent motive which, so far as the outside world can perceive, supplies strength to their soldiery and seamen. They are patriots in a degree rare even in Europe, and, so far as we are aware unknown in Asia, except among the men who defended Jerusalem against Titus. Patriotism, acute observers have declared, does not exist in Asia, and until this year the vast generalization appeared to be at least superficially true. Asiatics, from time to time, have fought magnificently for a creed, for a Sovereign, for a favorite leader, but of love for their land in the broad sense, as distinguished from every other land, it is difficult to rind clear traces. The Chinaman, it is true, boasts of the “ Flowery Land “ ; the Arab goes back to his secluded peninsula of oasis and desert with a feeling not easily distinguishable from that of the Scotsman ; and the writer has heard great Indians speak of their fertile and varied peninsula, with its original cities and its ancient civilization, with proprietary pride. None of these races, however, will die for their country only, or feel its repute and its beauty as possessions surpassing in intimate value any other. The men who offered to sink the steamers in order to seal up what strategy required should be sealed, offered to die for their country as readily as any British or German or French leader of a forlorn hope. The dominance of this feeling gives the Japanese a coherence and a perseverance which of themselves make them among the most effective of peoples. We speak of them as a little people, but they have more millions than France; and when grandeur or the interests of Japan are concerned they act and feel as one man. That is a source of strength which, when they are once in motion, it is impossible to exaggerate.
The second quality is a great, we should not hesitate to say an unequalled, power of foresight. They ‘prepare everything for their enterprises with an exact and scientific prevision which rivals that of the German staff in its best years. They waited through ten years of steady preparation to regain the prizes of their war with China, of which they_ had been unfairly deprived. They learnt, the difficult secret of transporting masses of soldiers by sea and landing them without .serious loss ; and as they move forward over the vast regions they have entered, their supplies,’ their munitions, their maps are as perfect as if their regiments were composed of sappers assisting at a geographical survey. Just compare for one instant their readiness with that of Napoleon III. when he declared war on Prussia, of ourselves when we received the ultimatum from President Kruger, or, to take a more recent instance still, of the great Military Monarchy of Russia, when the first shell fell in Port Arthur. To us, we confess, this is the feature of their recent history which most decisively separates them from all Asiatic peoples, who as a rule have moved forward, even in successful wars, without commissariat, with insufficient reserves of weapons, and dropping the wounded and exhausted by thousands as they marched on.
And this leads us to the final thought which we have to put forward to-day, the doubt whether in calling Japanese Asiatics we are not concealing the truth with words. That they are Asiatics by origin is certain ; but they have stood apart in their islands for centuries, during which time they have developed, and have grown up under the pressure of a civilization of their own. They have imbibed, like all other islanders, some, thing from all the forces with which they came in contact. They have passed, like Europeans, through a lengthened feudal period, and feudalism breeds at least courage and the habit of obedience to accepted leaders. They have developed an art of their own, a folk-lore of their own, a habit of political thinking widely distinct in kind irony that of any other Asiatic people. What they exactly are is still in many respects a mystery to European observers ; but it is quite possiblethat the broad generalizations by. which we describe continents do not fully apply to them - that they have become in the process of thecenturies during which they have remained ina seclusion without a parallel, a distinctly separatepeople, deriving their’ strength and their weakness from original sources, and no more Asiaticthan they are European.
The extracts which I have read are wellworthy of the close attention of honorablesenators. The Spectator is known throughout the world as one of the most intellectualof organs, the views of which are put forward with an ability acceptable “to every reader. During the war, Mr. Bennett Burleigh, correspondent of the LondonDaily Telegraph, sent to his newspaper anaccount of a remarkable religious gathering, recently held at Tokio.
– Does the honorable senator know anything about Bennett Burleigh ?
– I know a good’ deal about him.
– Does the honorablesenator think that Bennett Burleigh is an authority on religious questions?
– The statementsmade in the description I am about to read! are worthy of close notice, quite irrespectiveof what may happen to be Mr. Bennett Burleigh’s private character. The account is as follows: -
I have in my time seen something of religiousgatherings, from convocations 10 Exeter Hall,, and the Salvation Army at the Crystal Palace. Nay, more. I have witnessed in strange landsthe meetings of the representatives of other creeds than that of out own Christian Church. But never have I seen anything so extraordinary, so provocative of sane thought and reflection, asthat which was held in the “ Chukon Shido Kaikwan,” a large hall in this wide-spreading Tokio, upon the afternoon of the 16th June. In that hall there were gathered for serious purpose over 1,000 priests and teachers of all the chief beliefs and hopes of mankind. The East and theWest of the great brotherhood of religion, of theseeking and the doing of good, had met in. amity. And by far the larger number belonged-‘ to a form of worship that was old when thePentateuch was written. There were priests and professors of Shintoism, Buddhism, Israelites,. Mohammedans, and Christians of many churches. In that strange assemblage, even woman, nativeand foreign, was in evidence.; but are we not air their children? There were more shaven headsthan those tonsured after any pattern. Somewere covered by birettas others by more familiar clerical caps. And the vestments, they were of purple and other colours, white, yellow, gold1- embroidered, and what not, with stoles, &c, to plain black Geneva gowns. Where have I not set eyes upon nil those fashions of garb? If the meeting opened with prayer I did not hear it ; the invocation must have been made in silence. But there was a tinkling of something that sounded as an ancient spinnet, and a perilous scratching of a dubious violin for introduction. Thereupon, of one accord, the Japanese, Shintoists, Buddhists, and others sang very creditably an august hymn in their own language. Then a very venerable, gorgeously-clad Shinto magnate was duly proposed and took the chair,
And the proceedings began, and were conducted after our own orderly manner. The speakers made their points, and the audience caught them, applauding by clapping hands and crying something very like “Hear, hear !” And I noted that these, to me, strange priests were not lugubriousminded, but whimsical and humorous, telling quaint things that sent their audience into audible smiles and roars of laughter. There was a resolution proposed, supported, and carried unanimously, setting forth that the war is being carried on in “ the interests of justice, humanity, and the civilization of the world,” and expressing “ a most earnest desire for the speedy accomplishment of an honorable peace.”
And, to heighten the singular character of the whole proceeding, in the vestibule and lower reception-rooms - for it was a large upstairs hall, well lit and lofty - were spread Japanese tea service, with sweet’ biscuits, for refreshments. Attendants stood by to receive their foot-wear - pattens and sandals - and to light cigarettes for those who sought a turn in the garden to get a breath of cooler air after being in the hall. All very curious I found it, and to me interesting. I have found absolutely no creed bitterness amongst the natives of this wonderful land. There is a tolerance that might be thought to spring from indifference, but such is not the case. The apparently stolid Japanese is in reality a high-strung, sensitive being - yea, fanciful, and sentimental to a degree consonant with an artistic nature and training. I wired you about a meeting to discuss the founding of a new State Church or creed upon pro-Christian and Western lines. Such a movement is once again in the air. The old beliefs are passing into decrepitude. They fail to supply Japan’s modern requirements, and it is again coming within the bounds of probability that an Imperial edict may issue, as centuries ago did Constantine’s, and change the creed of this active Eastern world with a stroke of the pen. But all this is another story. Yet, anyhow, the new order is on the road. What will this latest State Church profess and teach? I am assured it is to be a “simple, clear doctrine, which shall appeal alike to philosophers and fools.
From whatever quarter it comes, the evidence all shows the wonderful mental activity of the Japanese. It points to a great development in the past, and to a probably greater development in the near future. The following is some account of the sufferings of the women of Japan during the war : -
A recent writer in the Japan Mail, says : - “ If <4he Japanese soldier is a hero, his wife is no less a heroine. The world has been hearing his praises sung so loudly of late that they hardly stop to inquire about his wife. In fact, they may have doubted whether he was married at all , and the truth is that the first batch were not; but owing to the long continuance- of the war the later batches have consisted of his elder brother, and his father, even, who, of course, were married. And it is of these poor wives and children left at home that a word needs to be said lest they be forgotten. It is in the quiet of the humble home that calls for the splendid exhibition of a heroism as unconscious as it is steadfast.
And yet, in the face of all this distress, the Japanese authorities in one town which had received 2,000 prisoners to keep, finding that more than one-half had received no school education, and that upwards of 37 per cent, were wholly illiterate, undertook to organize these into classes, and the educated officers were commissioned as instructors under the direct supervision of a Japanese officer who understood the Russian language, and such results have been already reached that men unable to sign their own names when captured have written to their friends and families in Russia after three hours’ daily instruction.” Of this action on the part of victorious Japan, the Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Press- comments as follows : - “ But this is not all. The prisoners are well housed, well clad, and well fed. They are given outings three times a month. Entertainments are given for them in the prison buildings, and, oh the whole, these Russians have been treated more as guests than as enemies and prisoners of war. Such treatment is unprecedented. No nation ever accorded anything” like it to its enemies, and yet there is no reason why all civilized people should not have done as Japan has done in the present instance. The effects will be farreaching, not only in Russia, but on the whole world, which has been given a higher standard of humanity. And the wonderful part of it is that Japan should have taught the world so great a lesson.”
From these facts there is much for us to learn. I notice that the last issue of the National Review contains an article on “ Japanese Education and Character.” It is there shown that in the summer time the schools in Japan open at 7 o’clock in the morning, and are continued until 12 o’clock, and that the children, in order to attend, have to rise between 5 and 6 o’clock. Here is one extract : -
The pupils’ mental attitude is earnestness. They are, above all, anxious to learn. Nowhere in Japan is it a point of honour to look on lessons as tomfoolery, and the teacher as an enemy to be defeated if possible. The Government, knowing this, has abolished all corporal punishment.
A further extract from the same article refers to the general character of the Japanese -
Anger is prohibited, for it is self-assertive ; courage is hardly reckoned as a virtue. He who would choose his own ease rather than perform a customary virtue, no matter how hazardous, would be counted infamous. Hence the Japanese soldier simply does whatever he may be ordered, never considering the consequences to himself. This tremendous moral force of selfcontrol, and self-effacement has then, at its root, public opinion, habit, and patriotism.
The evidence that accumulates from all quarters of the power and character of the Japanese as individuals and as a nation is truly of a startling kind. In the pamphlet which I published sometime ago I ventured to affirm that the people of Australia as a whole were not in sympathy with the legislation embodied in, our Statutes.
-Col. Gould. - I- call attention to the state of the Senate. It is really too bad that we should not have a better attendance. [Quorum formed.]
– The feeling of the people of Australia is of a more generous character than our laws would indicate. A singular evidence that this is so is now before us. Some three weeks ago the Synod of the Anglican Church met in Sydney, and on the motion of the Bishop of Carpentaria a resolution which might have been drafted by myself was proposed and unanimously agreed to. It was as follows : -
-Col. Gould. - After a veryinteresting speech by the Bishop that motion was carried on the voices.
– What does it amount to? It does not mean an unrestricted immigration of the yellow races?
– I read with very great pleasure the brief report that appeared in the newspapers of the speech made by the Bishop of Carpentaria. I wrote to him and asked him if I might accept the report appearing in the news papers as correct. In reply he was good enough to forward me his manuscript. It is so thoroughly to the point, so able, and so far agrees with my own views, that I have no hesitation in submitting it to theSenate. This is what the Bishop of Carpentaria said in connexion with his motion : -
In the first place, let me answer this question z. Has the Church a right to take up such a subject as this? I reply, emphatically, yes. The Church has a right to take up any subject which involvesthe welfare and happiness of the people, except only such subjects as are distinctly matters of party politics. In this matter, we have, I believe, nothing of this sort to fear. Our Church has not identified itself with any politicalparty. If any one says it has, let them say what . party. I, for one, am absolutely unable to say. I claim for the Church the full right of ‘ free speech on all that touches the happiness of the people. If there be any such matter on which, a church dare not speak for fear of men, from dread of consequences, then that church would be already stricken with incipient paralysis;, she would be upon the path which does, and must, end in death.
My motion has been represented as an attack, upon White Australia. This is by no means the case. In a very real sense, I believe in a WhiteAustralia ; that is to say, I believe that the whiteraces have a message to bring and an example to set to the world ; but I believe in a White- Australia founded upon justice; brotherly love, and high aims. I do not believe in a White Australia, were there such a thing, founded upon prejudice, injustice, and selfish isolation. I believe in” whiteness,” when it is an expression of the grand old motto, noblesse oblige. I do not believe in “whiteness” as a survival of casteand prejudice. To turn now to the words of my motion, I believe that it is lawful for a people to strive to prevent such an immigration of a foreign race, whether in peace or war, asmay threaten to upset the balance of their national life. I believe that national life is . ? factor of great importance in the history of the world, that it is a distinctiongiven and implanted by God Himself, and that it cannot besuddenly disturbed without grave loss to all concerned.
Take the parallel case of the individual. Of what great benefit to society is a man’s own personality and individuality, and how disastrous is it to more than himself if the balance of hismind and the clearness of his judgment is upset by the too sudden inrush of new ideas. So with the nation. We may admit, indeed, that at certain times of national degeneracy an alien people has occasionally come as a “ scourge of God,” a call to a new and more strenuous life, but, speaking generally, nationality is a factor with which the world cannot lightly dispense and who does not feel that the10,000Athenian hoplites who faced the hosts of Asia on thefield of Marathon, were representatives of a national life, the extinction of which would have left the world inexpressibly the poorer. This fact has been recognised in the old country by the recent Aliens Restriction Act, and in Japan by the law which forbids foreigners to hold property in Japan. May we not illustrate the point by the right of private property. It is capable of the most gross and cruel abuse. It may result in most monstrous wrongs, and yet, for all that, we all recognise that the right of private property is in itself just and right, and it forms the basis of one of the Ten Commandments. So, however, the principle of nationality may have been degraded into selfishness and exclusive pride, yet we recognise that there is in it a principle which cannot be lightly neglected or despised.
Now, it is true, generally speaking, that Europeans have shown themselves superior to the Asiatic or coloured races in the practical affairs of life, because while the latter have been content to rest on the successes they, have achieved, the Europeans have, for the most part, been moved by a kind of “divine discontent” to always aim at something more, and usually something higher. It would, however, be very rash to assert that this superiority is owing to their colour, lt is more probably due partly to the fact of their living in a cooler and more stimulating climate, partly to their immense seaboard, with its possibilities of intercourse and adventure, and very largely also to that salt of Christianity which has preserved them from that decay which overlook their earlier manifestations in the civilizations of Greece and Rome. We must remember, however, that there is much to be said on the other side. If war be the test, we must remember that the Huns, a Mongolian tribe, nearly overran Europe; that the Arabs actually conquered, and long held, a great part of Spain; that the Turks still hold part of Europe; and that they, with the Sihks, Goorkhas, and other Asiatics, are probably the best soldiers in the world.
If civilization be the test, we must remember that we have little, if anything, to learn from the East in agriculture ; while in architecture we have not yet rivalled it. In art it is only in certain branches that we can compete, and- writing and arithmetic we learnt from it. If the realm of thought be the test we may profitably remember that all the great religions of the world, without exception, came from the East. Lest we should lightly and ignorantly despise, we have a living example in Japan, which has shown to an astonished world a high example of patriotism, of intelligence in planning, and of skill in execution, of forbearance, and of courtesy.
May not the difference between East and West be something like the difference between man and woman. There was a time when we all thought man was superior to woman. Now we understand that it is a difference of type and not of degree; that the excellencies of the one are complementary to those of the other, and that both are equally needed for the perfection of humanity.
I believe that we have come to the parting of the ways. The East is awakening, and to many that ‘awakening seems fraught with nameless terror. Yet why, after all, should we fear? Were it the awakening of a rival faith, a new religion which was not ours, we might, indeed, have cause for dread ; but it is not so. The awakening is undoubtedly a result, though an indirect result, of Christianity and Christian civilization, and we do not well to fear it.
There are two possible attitudes - one is that of the German Emperor, with his yellow peril, the other is that of the new Japanese alliance. I venture to think that the latter is alike the wiser and more Christian attitude. I ask only for the extension of courtesy and consideration. I do not advocate any admixture of ‘races; that is a different question altogether, and one of extreme difficult)’. It does not come within the scope of my present motion. I ask that we should treat those of another race and colour with respect and consideration, and that we should extend every aid and encouragement to those who are striving to rise to the level of our own civilization.
With regard to the less-advanced races, we surely owe them both protection and e’ducation. I may cite, as an example, the action of the Queensland Government, which has not only passed a most admirable Act for the protection of the aborigines, but provides schools for the natives of the islands, and encourages and aids those on mission stations.
I believe that this recognition of our duty to the lower races provides the only Christian grounds for our exclusion of some lest unrestricted immigration and competition should lower the general standard of life, and lower the ideals of the world. We can only justify our action by being willing to take up “ the white man’s burden,” and living, not merely for ourselves, but for others.
The object of my motion is to remove colour prejudice and race’ hatred, anc! to assert that, other things being equal, we owe to a coloured race just the same respect as we owe to a white race. My motion does not even assert that any coloured race is at the present moment equal to any white race, but it does recognise that it may be, or may become so. It admits fully the possibility. Even this may be a shock to our pride, but if so it is honest to admit mistakes, and it is the true spirit of Christianity.
It is easy to wreck my motion by bringing in side issues, but I appeal to the House to confine itself merely to the issues I have put before it, namely, that the white man must not claim superiority on the mere. grounds of colour alone, and that courtesy and consideration on the one hand, and protection and training on the other, are due to the coloured races with whom we have, to deal.
It may be said that my motion is one of mere sentiment. I reply that the greatest issues in the world’s history have hung on sentiment, and that many a time generous actions and generous admissions have turned foes into friends. We have a great opportunity. God forgive us if we cast it away.
Let East and West work out their own problems in their own way, only let it be unhampered by needless jealousy, mistrust, and prejudice. I appeal to the House to pass the motion which stands in my name.
– There is nothing practical in that.
– I thoroughly indorse the remarks made by the Bishop, and think I am amply justified in taking up the time of the Senate in reading them with a view to their appearance and preservation in. the pages of *Hansard. * It is very desirable that we should take notice of the gradual - perhaps I might say rapid - awakening that is taking place in other parts of the East. China and India are every day becoming more alive. They are every day becoming more active. Political movement is taking the place of apathy.
– That may be a bad job for us.
– It may be if we do not awaken to our opportunities. It is for us to behave ourselves - to lead, not to oppress.” Only the other day the following cablegram from London was published : -
Reuters’ Lahore correspondent reports that the ruling chiefs, nobility, and gentry of India are demanding with increased vigour that a Prince of the British Royal House should rule in India with the advice of a Ministry, the Viceroy being Prime Minister, and the leading chiefs counsellors.
That is a very natural movement in India. And is there any European who has in him the instinct of freedom who will say no to it? Shall we not all as a people rejoice to see the men of India gradually uplifting themselves and becoming capable of self-government? Are we likely to wish to prevent that ? Is it not wise for us to be true to our trust, and to our instincts and aspirations. About three weeks ago an article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading of “ The Awakening of China.” It’ says -
A private letter was received on Tuesday from ‘ the Rev. “T. Howard Smith, of the London Mission, Peking, North China, containing an interesting reference to the change which is taking place in Chinese ideas, and the forward movement, of which we have heard so much of late. He indites his letter from Pei-ta-ho, a watering place on the shores of the Gulf of Pechili (the “ Manly “ of North China, as it may be termed), which is becoming the rendezvous of Europeans in search of rest and the picturesque in the way of natural scenery. Mr. Howard Smith writes : - “ Pei-ta-ho is changing somewhat, inasmuch as people now come looking for something else besides physical building up. The place is being used also as a centre for Christian workers’ conventions, &c, and its opportunities are quite unique, since missionaries from Manchuria, Chihli, Shantung, Shansi, Shensi, Honan, Shanghi, and other places come here for some part of the summer. For the last three years a convention of Chinese Christian workers “ has been held here, the number of workers growing from 40 odd to over a hundred this year. The general opinion expressed this year by many missionaries from places very far apart is that China has certainly entered upon a new era this new century, and that everywhere there are signs of an awakening and growth. Schools are being established wholesale in every province. Education on Western principles is decidedly in, the air ; and, remarkable of remarkables, a system (known as the Government system) of new characters, 50 in number, based on phonetic principles, is being inaugurated and taught in thesenorthern Mandarin speaking provinces, which, it is hoped, will enable the illiterate to get a grounding in general knowledge without the difficulties associated with the present Chinesecharacters. In the south the Romanised system has been largely adopted ; but to the use of thisthere are many objections, since it is, among, other things, of foreign origin. This new system is an adaptation of the more elementary strokes in Chinese character, and will alwaysmuch resemble Chinese without its attendant difficulties; hence it is thought that it will be trieone generally adopted, and if so it will play alarge part in the awakening of China. The unity of the Chinese on the boycott of Americangoods question has shown some of the possibilities lying dormant in the great mass of Chinese, but which are on the point of being awakened. Although the movement is a misguided one, seeing that America has already under consideration a new treaty, it nevertheless shows that the younger Chinese v/ho have been, or are now, abroad are beginning to realize that their country does not enjoy the privileges of other countries, and are intending to do what they can to winthose privileges for themselves and other Chinese. In one of the Peking Gazettes a few weeks ago the worst kinds of torture associated with death penalties were declared by edict to be abolished for ever; and for months past the Empress Dowager has been abolishing useless offices, of which there are thousands in China. Many of these actions of hers are quite puerile, as in some cases she has abolished offices without making provision for the work supposed to be associated with tEem ; but, in spite of all this, there is very much to encourage one, and make one feel that China can never go back to her former exclusiveness, and that a new era is really dawning for her. The old Empress Dowager has abolished, as the Emperor did before the coup d’ état, the bow and arrow as being an obsolete weapon, and in other ways has done things which helped to bring about the downfall of the Emperor seven years ago ; but the time is more ripe now for them, and her action does not arouse the same bitter and fierce opposition that his then did.”
That is one of the best evidences that could be given of the awakening that is taking place in the East. I will next read a quotation from the Westminster Review relating to India. It mentions that in the opinion of the writer the example of Japan in recent years will lead to the awakening of other Oriental nations. Among other things., the writer quotes an article from one of the Indian vernacular journals, calling upon the people to profit by the example of Japan, and concluding with the following remarkable passage: - “ The present struggle, whether it ends in defeat or in victory for the Japanese, has proved unmistakably that no nation in the world can beat (hem in self-sacrifice, 5n patriotism, in courage, and in equipment for modern warfare. We have observed for years signs in our own country of an awakening from a slumber of centuries, owing to our contact with the West and the spread of Western ideas in our land, but a death-like despair has clamped our national energy. Now fortunately we have, to revive ourselves, a breath from the Far East - like the life-giving breath of Jesus - and the progress of Japan is a voice that cannot fail to be heard. It is stirring our lethargic limbs and bidding us come to life. My countrymen ! rise and share with other nations the good things of the world like a living people !” This appeal may be taken as fairly typical of the sentiments which the brilliant successes of Japan against a giant Power like Russia have evoked in India and in other Asiatic countries. A Persian patriot, for instance, writing to the Habl-ul-Matin of Calcutta, a well-known “Persian newspaper that received some time ago the patronage of the Shah, suggests to his countrymen the advantages of a commercial alliance between Japan and Persia: of making their military purchases in Japan, if possible; of sending Persian youths to Japan for military, naval, and other kinds of_ education ; and of requisitioning the services of Japanese officers for the training of Persian troops in the arts of modern warfare.
One phase of the expansion that is taking place in the East has relation to the increase in trade. I should be very sorry to ask the Senate to base its reasons for doing justice to other nations on trade considerations. That is a low ground to take; but it is not altogether a ground which can be ignored. I dare say that honorable senators have noticed the fact within the last few days that silver has been rising in price. Now, silver is a great Australian product. The steady rise in the value of silver within the fast few months is a sign of advancing prosperity and of an increase of commerce in the East. It ls as well for us to remember, in passing, that almost the entire prosperity of Broken Hill during all these years has been dependent upon the East.
– Are not some Eastern countries considering the adoption of a. gold standard?
– I am talking of the past and of the present. If it had n6t been for the demand for silver from the East broken Hill would -never have existed as a great employer of labour. During the last quarter of a century silver has been- demonetised in country after country. There has been great difficulty in getting rid of the stacks of silver in Europe and America. But, in. addition to that, there have been immense new supplies, and the great outlets for those sup plies have been India, China, and Japan. Those countries have really kept alive the industry in Broken Hill. There are thousands of Australians who are earning their bread by producing silver for the East, showing that already Australia is very greatly bound up in the prosperity of the Eastern countries. The following paragraph appeared in the “trade and commerce” column of the Age only a few days ago.
Japan is making efforts to extend her trade re%lations in unexpected quarters, doubtless with a view of supplying her wants direct from the producer. For instance, a line of steamers is to be established to develop a trade with South America. The initial purpose is to obtain from Argentina cheap wheat, and to this will be added later on dairy produce and frozen meat. It will be seen that this to a certain extent influences Australian expectations to supply our ally’s wants of this character. Those who desire to follow the argument cannot fail to arrive at a conclusion that may not be pleasant, but suggestive of unsatisfactory results to our hopes of trade expanding in the direction indicated. No Australian can desire an outflow on this continent of the “ Golden Horde,” but what we want are legislators who have Eastern tact in dealing with questions that behind all are racial.
The Age talks very (loudly, very arrogantly, and very unwisely generally, from the political point of view, on the subject of immigration, but in its commercial columns it speaks of tact being required “in dealing with questions, that behind all are racial.” The development in shipping which has taken place in. Japan during recent years is of a remarkable character. In 1894 her steam tonnage amounted to 273,419 tons ; last . year it amounted to 797,674 tons ; and I dare, say that before the close of thi= year it will have reached 1.000,000 tons. Her sailing tonnage has advanced from 46,959 tons in 1894 to 329,234 tons in 1904. So that, as a shipping nation, Japan has already taken rapidly a very high place. It is a singular thing,, when we come to think. of it, that one of the grounds upon which the’ Chinese have spoken of Europeans as being barbarians have been their dishonesty in trade. The Chinese, who have been noted from long antiquity for their honesty in trade, found so much dishonesty in, dealing- with the white races that they came to view them with great distrust, though I am happy to say that it was felt * less with regard to the Anglo-Saxon people than with regard to other people. It is only a few days ago that I noticed in a Sydney newspaper a letter from Captain
Green, master of a steamer trading from Australia to China, in which he wrote very strongly about the possibility of the present boycott of American goods ultimately being replaced by a boycott of British goods. I do not think that any honorable senator could view with equanimity a Chinese boycott directed against British trade, just because Australia - one small part of the Empire - was acting an unwise and unkind part.-
– In what way have we acted an unkind part?
– I should be very sorry to think that the Minister is so obtuse as he would wish to represent himself to_be. I believe that he seep, a great deal further, and knows a good deal more than he is willing to admit.
– I should like to know where the unfairness comes in.
– After I have been telling the honorable senator for a long time what opinion the people of China and Japan have of Australian legislation, and how it acts, it is rather too much for the Minister to represent that the ill-feeling is non-existent, and that they are all happy and satisfied.
– The Japanese s.ay that they do not want to come here.
– I should like to refer briefly to the position in Great Britain. I believe that in that country public feeling is being educated, and that the people are beginning to understand a little of our difficulties. Although there are a number of politicians who speak very loudly and angrily of what I have done, and am doing, from time to time, yet I_ believe that there is no one who has put in a clearer light than I have, the necessity for the proper regulation of immigration. In my pamphlet, I put the figures relating to the immigration from China in a way which I think is more striking x and more calculated to attract attention than any figures which have appeared in the statistics of Australia. I did not make a comparison between the number of Chinese who had arrived and the total population of Australia. Recognising the fact that the Chinese who were here were all adult males, I compared the total number of the Chinese with the total number of Australian adults, and by that means I showed that Australia was driven some time ago to consider this matter. I have some reason to believe that my representations have been assisting to educate public men in the United Kingdom. According to a recent cable message,, which quoted an article from the London Times, it is evident that that newspaper is beginning to see things plainly,, is not asking Australia to open wide her doors, but is beginning to recognise the all-round difficulties which exist. While it admits that the Empirehas to recognise Australia’s position, it points out that Australia has. to recognise the position of the Empire. That is ‘alt I ask. Let us be united in recognising the wants of the Empire, and the wants of each component part. In its article, the Times says -
It is certain- that absolute laissez-faire as, regards coloured races would make Australia” thehome of a preponderatingly yellow and brownpopulation.
While England recognises that she will be fair to us, so let us be fair to her -
The existence of a British race demands restriction and regulation, which, however, ought to be as little invidious as possible. … . The growth of Imperial unity must be based on compromise and not on verbal subterfuge.
Verbal subterfuge is the basis of the Immigration Restriction Act, and the cause of the present unpleasantness and ill-feeling.
– And that was put in. at the instigation of the Colonial Office.
– Not in this exact form -
The mother country must realize the nature o£ Australia’s problems, and modify preconceived, theories to suit them. Australia, in the interestsof the Empire and of her own progress, must learn to separate what is essential to the development of a white race, and the maintenance of her standard of living from what is unessential. She must retain the former and discard the la’tter.
My object is to induce Australia to discard that which is not essential to the maintenance of that which, I admit, is essential. I think that the position of affairs in theEast is that, if we were in any sort of political danger, it is rather from Germany than from any other part of the world that it would come. It is wise that we shouldbear that possibility in mind, and should riot thwart or offend those who, in a great crisis of the Empire, might aid in repealing’ German aggression. I desire to make an earnest appeal to honorable senatorsto deal with this as an important!’ matter. On one occasion I said I felt that this matter of arrangement’ between Australia and the countriesof the East overshadowed in importance any other political matter with which it has to deal. I feel that that is increasingly true. I consider that it would be a very regrettable circumstance if this session were to close without some step having been taken, without at least some expression of opinion having been given, to indicate that we are’ awake to our duties, and intend to fulfil them. Some time ago a cablegram contained a reference to a remark made by President Roosevelt, who, happily for America, is a man of high and fine character, and most outspoken utterance. He said -
America was bound to play a great part in the world, and she must raise her voice for righteousness and peace.
May I not say that Australia must raise her voice for righteousness and peace ! May I not claim that we, who are of the same Anglo-Saxon race as President Roosevelt, have our work in the world to do, and ought to be ready and willing to do all that we can to promote its welfare and well-being. There are efforts being made in all sorts of directions to draw nations together, and to bring about a more peaceful future than some time ago seemed likely. And it is in the interests of peace, of a greater and more prosperous future, of humanity at ‘ large that I do most earnestly ask the Senate to consider what lies at the bottom of my motion, and to meet not only Japan, but, from time to time, the other great nations of the East, so that we with them may march together in a career of prosperity and happiness.
– The Senate is indebted to Senator Pulsford for his well thought-out speech. Many subjects on which the honorable senator touched are very, interesting, and we have now embodied in Hansard a great deal of the bibliography of the East, and many newspaper cuttings of the last year or two. There will also appear in Hansard the address delivered by the Bishop of Carpentaria at the last Anglican Synod. I agree with the opinions of Senator Pulsford on many of the topics with which he dealt. We all admit that Japan is a great and powerful nation, with which we desire to be on terms of the greatest friendliness. We have no wish to do anythink to hurt the susceptibilities of the Japanese, whom we acknowledge to possess every element which goes to make a great people. They are distinguished for their patriotism, intelligence, and homogeneity; and we all admit their bravery and their humanity. We have no quarrel whatever with the Japanese people. We recognise, as one nation recognises the good points in another, the immense progress and civilization they have achieved in a short space of time. As to the Immigration Restriction ‘ Act, we have to ask ourselves whether Japan has ever officially objected to it, or asked that the legislation should be altered.
– Of course, Japan has done so. The honorable senator must be deaf, dumb, and blind.
– The honorable senator is accusing me of many physical infirmities, which, however, I do not think I exhibit as I stand on the floor of the Chamber. I am not aware that Australia has received any official communication from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the effect that the Japanese people desire us to alter the Immigration Restriction Act.
– That is rather an audacious statement.
– We can discuss only official communications sent by people of official standing, through official channels.
– Does the honorable senator not call the Japanese Consul in Australia an official ?
– The Consul, Mr. Eitaki, is, no doubt, a most estimable gentleman, but he communicated directly with the Prime Minister, and, therefore, presumably, not officially.
-Col. Gould. - Mr. Eitaki sent his communication as Consul.
– The communication was presumably sent without the authority of the Japanese people.
– In the pamphlet from which I quoted, I show that Mr. Eitaki received cable ‘instructions from his Government.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The Japanese Government surely must know better than to communicate directly with the Prime Minister of Australia. We are a portion of the British Empire, and official communications of the kind must be sent, in the first place, to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and then be forwarded to us by means of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Japanese Government fell into a mistake in national etiquette, if they sent an official communication to the Australian Prime Minister direct.
– The Japanese Ambassador in London made repeated representations to the British Government, and I read his statements to the Senate. The honorable senator, unless he is aware of that fact, is not in a position to reply to my speech.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I am in as good a position as even Senator Pulsford to speak on the question. In my own small way I have endeavoured to keep myself au fait with the changing conditions, in all external affairs affecting Australia.
– Senator Pulsford read us extracts from the cables to show that representations had been made to the British Government.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I endeavoured to get the information when I askedthe Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs whether any official communication had been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, asking us to alter the Immigration Restriction Act, so as not to offend the alleged susceptibilities of Japan. In my belief no such communication has been received, and therefore we know nothing officially of anydesireonthe part of Japan to alter the present conditions. Senator Pulsford. - That is not at all a correct way ‘to put the matter. Has the honorable senator read what the Japanese Ambassador said in London within the last fortnight?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No. I have not seen that.
– The honorable senator is playing with the subject.
– I am not. I am simply saying that we should not be asked to alter our legislation, because of some newspaper report of some alleged statements, made elsewhere.
– If the honorable senator thinks that Japan is coming cap in hand to Australia, he is very much mistaken ; he does not understand Japan.
– Japan is, a nation and an Empire ; and if she desires us to alter our legislation, there is only one course to be taken. The Japanese Ambassador should communicate with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in England, and the information should reach us through the Secretary of
State for Colonial Affairs. Officially, we / have no cognisance whatever of any desire on the part of Japan to have the present conditions altered. I have indicated the only way in which Japan can officially approach Australia.
– What would the honorable senator have said had Japan adopted that course?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I should have said that Japan was perfectly right to make any representation that might be deemed advisable; and it would be for us to decide the matter purely from the point of view of what is best for the Commonwealth.
– Is that the usual course taken as between nations?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.It is the invariable course, as the honorable senator ought to know.
– Any representations on the part of Australia on the subject would have to be made through the Imperial Government.
– Of course. Senator Pulsford took exception to the Immigration Restriction Act, but is he aware that at the Colonial Conference Mr. Chamberlain, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, expressly requested the various representatives of the self-governing Colonies to apply the language test, . so as not to hurt the susceptibilities of coloured people? It was pointed out that the language test was applied in Natal, and Australia was asked to adopt a similar provision. Indeed, before the Commonwealth was brought into “existence three of the States of Australia had already taken that step, and the Commonwealth Parliamentsimply completed the work initiated at the request of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We must admit that we have been largely guidedby the question of colour inapplying the educationtest ; but colour issimply a rough way of deciding between- extreme race divergence. Australian sentiment favours the building up of a nation, and we have declared for one nation and one flag. It is evident that if we admit those races, who may be-
– Our equals.
– Yes, if we admit those races, who, in every respect, may be our equals, but who, on account of their great racial divergence, cannot amalgamate with us, we shall build up not one nation under one flag, but two separate peoples.
– We shall have South America over again.
– We in Australia, for national and racial reasons, say that, while we will not allow those people to enter Australia, we will throw our doors open wide to all the white races’ of the world if they desire to settle here.
– Provided they do not come under contract.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Provided they do not come under contract, which is injurious, and, further, provided they have no physical or mental infirmity. I am speaking now not from a point of view of race prejudice, but from a scientific point of view. If we refer to the writings of leading biologists, we find it set forth that, if races extremely divergent be mixed, the progeny is inferior, either mentally or physically. We can see that as an actual result in the case of Eurasians, mullattosand people of that sort. The most extreme divergence in the human family is between the northern Teutonic races of Europe, and the negro and Turanian races, which, of course, embrace the Japanese. Those latter races cannot mingle with us to the advantage of either them or ourselves. We might put the case conversely, and say that if a million Europeans settle in Japan, and the races became mixed, the result would be an inferior type of Japanese.
– That settles it !
– I am merely expressing my own opinion. If the intention of Australia is understood, no insult is offered to the Japanese. We are simply acting upon a scientific fact. The Japanese may have misunderstood1 our attitude, because of the misrepresentations made as to the intentions and desires of the people of Australia in formulating this legislation. They have been told on the one hand that the legislation is purely a matter of wages, and, on the other hand, that it is purely a matter of prejudice against the coloured races. In my belief the correct view is neither one nor the other. This is a racial question. We in Australia do not desire to have races here which cannot blend with us, and whose presence could not, therefore, result . in our having one people on the continent.
– The honorable senator is evading the vital point, when he says that there is no insult. The Japanese are insulted.
– The Japanese may have been insulted by misrepresentations made for party purposes.
– If the honorable senator says there is no insult he misses the whole point.
– My opinion is that the misrepresentations made by certain parties in regard to the White Australia policy have hurt the susceptibilities of certain nations, and that, if the full intent of the legislation was known, it would be recognised that we were simply doing what is best in the interest of Australia. I think that if the Japanese people were informed, through the proper channels, as to the real facts of the case, thev would realize that there is no slight, or intention of slight, to the people of Japan, China, or India.
– The facts absolutely show the contrary
– I have already shown that, at the Colonial Conference, Mr. Chamberlain emphasized the necessity of Australia keeping out those coloured races.
– How can we keep them but?
– Only. bv the assistance of the British Navy.
– The honorable senator insults Japan again when he talks of “ those coloured races.”
– I am dealing with’ coloured races. Is there any insult in a reference to the colour? Mr. Chamberlain pointed to the absolute necessity for such legislation.
– Is there any proposal to let Japanese into Australia?
– Senator Pulsford proposes to allow those people to enter Australia.
– I do not read his motion so.
– It is not proposed to flood the place with them, but to permit them to come in.
– The object of the motion is to remove a stigma which has been undeservedly cast upon the Japanese.
– Surely the Imperial Parliament is alive to the interests of the Empire, and the interests of Britain’s ally, Japan. So far as
I am aware, they have never, in any communication, asked us to alter our immigration laws.
– Hear, hear.
– There would be a great outcry in certain quarters if they did.
– All that we require in this matter is an arrangement with the Japanese by which it will be understood that they cannot come and reside in Australia.
– That they cannot come here except on passports to go through the country.
– There is no reason why distinguished Japanese visitors, scientists, and persons of that kind, should not be allowed to come here as a matter of courtesy.
– They can come now.
– There is nothing to prevent them coming now, but a narrow interpretation of the existing law.
– Would the honorable senator allow them to come to our universities ?
– In answer to Senator Millen’s interjection, I might say that Senator Pulsford’s proposal is that we should put the Japanese in a different category to other coloured races.
– That is the point.
– We should do nothing of the sort.
– Undoubtedly, there would be very great danger in doing that.
– Unless we do so, we shall be unjust in every sense of the word according to the comity of nations.
– I direct attention to the fact that recently the Chinese have been boycotting American goods, and refusing to permit American productions, to the value of millions of pounds, to be sold in China.
– I read in the Times that that matter has been greatly exaggerated.
– I ask honorable senators to consider the reasons given by the Chinese for that boycott. They have stated that it was enforced be cause the people of the United States were singling out the Chinese, and refusing to allow them, of all the coloured races,- to enter the United States. When asked their view of the action of Australia, the reply was that Australians made no distinction, that they said, “ We will not allow coolies of any coloured race to enter Australia;” and the Chinese had no reason to feel offended, because all the coloured races were treated alike by Australia. What I would say to Senator Pulsford and to those who are supporting what he has said, is that if we begin to make a distinction in favour of the Japanese-
– We shall weaken our position.
– We shall undoubtedly excite the enmity of China, because the Japanese will be given a privilege denied to the Chinese and the people of India. I dare say the time will come when the Chinese Empire will be as important and as powerful as we all recognise the Japanese Empire to be to-day. If by one law we say that we shall keep out of Australia the people of all races who cannot blend with us, we shall occupy a sound position; but if we begin to make distinctions, and decide to have special legislation with regard to the Japanese, we shall only excite the enmity and hastility of the Chinese, and undoubtedly of the Hindoos. Many of the northern races of India have sprung from the same race as ourselves, the Aryan race, and they would certainly feel insulted if we extended privileges to the Japanese people which we refused to the inhabitants of Northern India. Therefore I say that, while no doubt Senator Pulsford has brought forward his motion with the best intentions, if it were carried into effect it would raise difficulties and create serious enmities between other coloured nations and ourselves.
– Much would depend on the manner in which it was done.
– The Japanese have not prevented us from landing in Japan ; but it should not be forgotten that Japan is a small country, with a very large population, whilst we have a very large country with a very small population.
– We cannot use it ourselves, and we will not let any one else use it. .
– I should welcome to Australia people of all the white races in the world. Whilst in Japan there can be no fear of a racial alteration by reason of the immigration of white people to that country, there would be the greatest danger of a racial alteration in Australia if we permitted the unrestricted immigration of coloured people to the Commonwealth. While our Alien Immigration Restriction Act remains in force I admit that the Japanese have a perfect right to say, “ We wall apply a similar law to Australia.” We could not logically raise any objection to that. The Japanese allow Australians to enter Japan at the present time, but they impose restrictions upon white immigrants to their country which are more severe probably than those imposed on foreigners by any other nation in the world. To the coloured people who have come to Australia we have extended* practically the same rights, and privileges we have enjoyed ourselves; but white people residing in Japan are not permitted to own a foot of .land, or a mine. I read in a newspaper recently that they are not allowed to conduct a business, unless in conjunction with Japanese, “except under very serious restrictions. This being so, the Japanese practically say that people of white races shall not reside in their country, because, although they can go to Japan, they cannot carry on their ordinary avocations there unless in conjunction with Japanese, anr. under Japanese guidance. In the circumstances it will be admitted that the Japanese nation imposes very severe restrictions not specifically upon Australians, but upon people of any white race entering their country. I desire to mention another matter, which, although it has received no official cognizance, appears to me to be somewhat significant, in view of the fact that it has never been contradicted. We appreciate Japanese friendship for the British Empire, including Australia; but honorable senators will agree that the following paragraph which appeared on the 12th or 13th September last, in the Melbourne daily newspapers, is at least peculiar: -
The literary supplement of the Times (weekly edition) of nth August (just to hand) gives the following in its list of new publications : - “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.” Appointed-Tor use in the National School of Japan. Oxford : Alden., London : Simkin, -fid.
I have never seen that contradicted.
– It is a cockandbull story.
– The statement made may not be correct, but I have seen no contradiction of it.
– Is it not rather suggestive of a joke?
– The paragraph appeared in the Age, Argus, and Herald, and has not been contradicted.
– I will admit that they are not comic papers.
– V quote the statement for what it is worth.
– The honorable senator does ‘not believe it himself.
– It is almost incredible. I admit that it has appeared in the daily press, and I have seen no contradiction of it. Possibly the Minister of Defence may be in a position to contradict it. The paragraph goes on to say -
The writer is “ looking backward “ in Tokio in A.D. 2005, and reviews the causes from which “ India has fallen to Russia, South Africa to Germany, Egypt to the Sultan, while Canada has taken shelter beneath the wings of the American eagle, and Australia has become a protectorate of the Mikado.” In spite of its extravagance the pamphlet contains some sound ideas.
– Does the honorable senator expect to live to see the day when the statement will be realized?
– No, I do not. If it were true that a work dealing with the gradual dismemberment of the British Empire, and the division of the Colonies of Great Britain between Russia, Germany, America, the Sultan of Turkey, and the Mikado of Japan, is to be used as* a text-book to inform Japanese youth as to the possibilities of the future, that would seem to be an extraordinary course for an ally of Great Britain to adopt.
– It is an insult to Japan to suggest it.
– I quote the statement for what it is worth. Personally, I find myself largely in sympathy with what Senator Pulsford has said. We must recognise that the Japanese nation possesses every characteristic that goes to make a. great people. I feel sure that we have none of the race prejudice which would lead us to consider the Japanese an inferior type of people to ourselves. We desire to live on terms of the greatest friendship with them, as with all the nations of the world. Anything we can do to avoid wounding their susceptibilities we should do, so long as we do not abrogate the great principles which we have laid down for our national guidance. It is premature to talk of altering our Alien Immigration
Restriction Act, when we have received no request from the British Government that we should make any alteration of the conditions affecting Japanese immigration. The Government would be well advised if they let it be publicly known that distinguished Japanese visitors can come to Australia. The knowledge might serve to remove illfeeling. But if we attempt to adopt Senator Pulsford’s proposal, and make any exception in favour of the Japanese, we shall undoubtedly incur the hostility of the Chinese, and of the people of India; and we shall find that we will have launched ourselves on a sea of difficulties in the furtherance of a desire to do something which even the British Government has not yet asked us to do.
– I am unable to support the motion submitted to the Senate. I should like to say a word or two as to the reason why I take up this position. I do not intend to deal with the very many matters involved in what is known as the White Australia question. For me, at any rate, that is settled. I can imagine no advantage to myself, to the Senate, or the country at large, from discussing it until, at any rate there is some indication of the great change in public opinion, which might throw upon those who believe in that policy the obligation to defend it. At present I do not see any indication of such a change, and therefore in the few minutes during which I shall occupy the attention of the Senate, I shall address myself to a course of action which I think we might reasonably take. I do not think any one can deny that Japan does feel that an invidious distinction has been made as against her people. Whilst I desire as strongly as do other honorable senators to keep out, not merely the Japanese, but the people of any race whom we could not welcome here, and to whom we should hesitate ‘to extend the full rights of citizenship, I still think there is an obligation upon us to so frame our laws as. tc give as little offence .as possible to the people of other nations. Senator Smith, in speaking just now, said that if we were to make special arrangements with Japan, the people of other nations whom we desire to keep out would feel that an invidious distinction had been, made so far as they were concerned, and would resent it. I admit that at once, but there does appear to me to be a way in which we could meet what I regard as the reasonable requirements of Japan, without setting up a distinction which might be deemed to be invidious by the people of other nations. That would be by a very slight amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act. The provision under which were included practically all those people whom, on account of colour or for other reasons, we did not regard as desirable immigrants, is the first sub-section of section 3 -
Any person who when asked to do so by an officer fails to write out at dictation and sign in the presence of the officer a passage of fifty words in length in an European language dictated by the officer.
That is the only provision in the Act, so far as I understand, to which any exception can be taken by any person or any nation. It does make a distinction between an Asiatic people and an European people. But if we were to strike out the word “European,” no single community in the world could complain of our meting out any different treatment to them as compared with that we meted out to other people.
– It would be a distinction without a difference.
– No; at present the people of Asiatic countries can say that we do distinguish against them. If we were to strike out the word “ European “ we should not be lessening, but rather widening, our powers of exclusion by making the Act operative against any section of the human family whom we did not desire to receive.
– Still we should go on giving Asiatic peoples the cold shoulder.
– Yes, and we intend to give them the cold shoulder. But at present the Japanese people feel - and I can understand a proud and high-spirited race entertaining such a feeling - that under our law they are put in the same group with a section of people whom they, and we, agree to be inferior. Strike out that word “ European,” and we make no distinction between a Japanese and an. European, so far as our legislation is concerned. There is a good reason for our doing that, if only in the interests of the good, feeling that exists between Japan and Great Britain, and between Japan and ourselves. They know, and we have told them frequently, that we are not prepared to leave our doors open to them. While I have no wish to see the Act weakened in any way, it does appear to me that, by eliminating that single word, we shall have done as. much as the Japanese Government could reasonably ask us to do, and shall have taken away the only point in our legislation which they can regard as a sting, and as a direct insult, levelled at them. Whilst doing so, we should still leave ourselves with the same power as we have to-day. Indeed, as I have said, we should have aim enlarged power. It might happen that some undesirable European would come along who was a splendid linguist, and knew every European language. As the Immigration Restriction Act stands to-day, he would be able to come in. But strike out the word “ European,” and it would be possible to test him in an Asiatic language. Our powers would not be limited but enlarged ; an invidious distinction set up by the Act against which Japan can reasonably complain would be removed ; and at the same time we should not have wavered in a single particular, or shifted one iota from the position we have taken up - that we mean to keep this country for our own race or for those who can assimilate with us.
– I have b’een somewhat surprised to observe that almost every time a question of this sort arises for discussion in the Senate, Senator Pulsford should be on the side of the foreigner against his own countrymen. The whole tenor of his remarks this afternoon was a constant reflection on Australians and the views of Australians, in regard to such questions. I gather that the honorable senator is extremely friendly to the Asiatic, but has verv little sympathy indeed for the Australian.
– I think he made an admirable speech.
– He made a very lengthy one, in the course of which he cited copious extracts. But it struck me as singular that he should have omitted to quote from one of the most remarkable documents, that has been published in recent years as affecting this question, especially as it was written bv Herbert Spencer, a freetrader and an individualist who in many respects belonged to the same school of political thought as does, Senator Pulsford. We might have expected that he would have given us the benefit of the opinions of that great philosopher on a question of this kind. Now, what was Herbert Spencer’s opinion as to what the
Japanese ought to do in relation to immigration ? His, views are much more drastic and extreme in the direction of keeping foreigners out of the country than are any of the views to which we have sought to give legislative expression in Australia. lt will be seen from the letter which I am about to read that Herbert Spencer practically advised the Japanese to carry out a policy similar to our White Australia policy for themselves. In fact, he advised them to set up a cry of Japan for the Japanese, just as some of us declare for the policy of Australia for the Australians. I may state that I take this extract from the Melbourne Herald of 2nd February of last year. Herbert Spencer wrote to a Japanese who had communicated with him the following remarkable letter : -
My Dear Sir - Your proposal to send translations of my two letters to Count Ito, the newlyappointed Prime Minister, is quite satisfactory. I very willingly give my assent. Respecting the further questions you ask, let me, in the first place, answer generally that the Japanese policy should, I think, be that of keeping Americans and Europeans as much as possible at arms’ length. In presence of the more powerful races your position is one of chronic danger, and you should take every precaution to. give as little foothold as possible to foreigners.
Just” as we have’ been saying that the position cif Asiatics in regard to Australia is one of chronic danger to us, the Japanese are advised by Herbert Spencer to keep out Americans and Europeans. He goes on to say -
It seems to me that the only forms of intercourse which you may with advantage permit are those which are indispensable and exportation of physical and mental products. No further privileges should be allowed to people of other races, and especially to people of the more powerful races, than is absolutely needful for the achievement of these ends. Apparently you are proposing by revision of the treaty with the powers of Europe and America “ to open the whole Empire to foreigners and foreign capital.” I regret this as a fatal policy.
– What was the date of that letter?
– It was written some years before Herbert Spencer died ; but. singularly enough, the condition was attached that it should not be published until after his death. It was a strange thing for a philosopher of his character to try and conceal his opinion from his countrymen on such a matter.
– Is it twenty years old ?
-No, nor anything like that.
– He might have changed his opinion.
– Then why did he not revoke it?
– The conditions have entirely changed since then.
– The letter goes on -
If youwish to see what is likely to happen, Study the history of India. Once let one of the more powerful races gain a point d’appui, and there will inevitably in course of time grow up an aggressive policy which will lead to collisions with the Japanese; these collisions will be represented as attacks by the Japanese which must be avenged, as the case may be ; a portion of territory will be seized, and required to be made over as a foreign settlement; and from this there will grow . eventually subjugation of the entire Japanese Empire. I believe that you will have great difficulty in avoiding this fate in any case, but you will make the process easy if you allow of any privileges to foreigners beyond those which I have indicated.
In pursuance of the advice thus generally indicated I should say, in answer to your first question, that there should be, not only a. prohibition of foreign persons to hold property in land, but also a refusal to give them leases, and a permission only to reside as annual tenants. To the second question I should say decidedly prohibit to foreigners the working of the mines owned or worked by Government. Here there would be obviously liable to arise grounds of difference between the Europeans and Americans who work them and the Government, and these grounds of quarrel would be followed by invocations to the English or American Governments or other powers to send forces to insist on whatever the European workers claim, for always the habit here and elsewhere among civilized peoples is to believe what their agents or sellers abroad represent to them. In the third place, in pursuance of the policy I have indicated, you ought also to keep the coasting trade in your own hands, and forbid foreigners to engage in it.
That is a peculiar view for a free-trader to express.
– The honorable senator agrees with it. does he not?
– I agree with it as a protectionist, but I cannot understand how a free-trader such as HerbertSpencer was should give expression to views of that kind.
– He was not a true prophet in regard to the future of Japan.
– He certainly seems to me to be inconsistent. But, as the time has arrived when private business gives way to Government business. I ask leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from8th November (vide page 4738) on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is an exceedingly important measure which of all others, I think ought to have been submitted in some way for the advice of experts in the various branches of industry which it is likely to affect. It affects the importers, and on that point I do not propose to say very much. Imports affect consumers, and I know that if anything is clone by the Bill which affects the whole com- . munity, it will very soon be altered. I am very much more concerned with the effect which the Bill may have on our exports. I do not believe in the cry of “Who is askingforthislegislation ?” which is heard so often when a new measure is introduced. If we were to wait for any section of the public to ask for special legislation, we should probably have very few Bills to consider. When special legislation is asked for it is often enough desired for a selfish and not altogether good purpose. At the same time, when we are dealing with a section of the community which is numerically smallI refer to the producers, manufacturers, and* exporters - we might very reasonably try to ascertain whether it desires such protection, as, apparently, we wish to force upon them by this Bill. In Tasmania we have had some experience of this legislation in a modified form. The principle underlying our Exported Products Act is the same as the principle which underlies this Bill. We must admit that it is a proper thing for the State to interfere for the protection of thehonest exporter against the dishonest exporter, and to see that the imports are what they profess to be - sound and wholesome, whether in the nature of food or medicine.
– I do not think that any one objects to that portion of this Bill.
– No. The only question is. how far is it desirable and practicableto interfere? It is not a question of what we may desire to do, but a question of what we can accomplish, and very often in attempting to do a right and most desirable thing we run the risk of doing the very opposite. It seems to methat by passing a measure contain- ing extreme provisions such as have been advocated here we may run the risk of doing very serious mischief. It may be interesting to honorable senators to learn why the apple producers of Tasmania approached the Government of the day about four years ago. A dishonest practice had grown up with some shippers of exporting inferior fruit and placing the best apples on the top of the case, and sending to England the shipment each year under a different name. On one or two occasions the Agent-General reported that whole shipments of fruit had been more or less depreciated in value by the dishonest actions of some persons, who took care in the following season to conceal their identity by assuming another name or brand. The position became sp serious that the fruit-growers asked the Government to devise legislation for the purpose of putting down this dishonest practice, and, naturally, their first suggestion was an inspection of the fruit prior to shipment. We wisely discussed the matter with those who knew what they were talking about, and what was practicable. But every time we attempted to provide for compulsory inspection, we found ourselves confronted with insuperable difficulties. The persons who approached us in the first instance had in the end to admit the impracticability of so legislating as to prevent the mischief in the way which they had suggested. What followed? The Exported Products Act, which was passed in 1901, was largely of a permissive character, but it did one good thing. It provided a means of identifying every case of fruit which left the State. It required persons who shipped under any brand or mark, or under any assumed name, to register that brand, or mark, or name. Persons who shipped under their own name were easily identifiable each year. Consequently, if there was a bad parcel of fruit in a shipment, the shipper could always be easily traced. But as regards inspection, we found that all we could do was to provide means for the inspection of fruit by those persons who not only desired it, but were able to avail themselves of it. That fact is not quite fully appreciated, at any rate, in connexion with the export of apples. In trying to bring about uniformity of legislation, we have to remember that sometimes the conditions are not uniform. With regard to fruit-growing Tasmania is behind the other States a week or a fortnight, or three weeks, as the case may be. Under these circumstances, economy of time from the picking of the fruit until it is placed in the hands of the purchaser in England is of the greatest moment. The growers naturally desire to get their fruit sent away as early as possible, so that they may secure the good prices which prevail at the opening of the season. What happens? The fruit is not picked promiscuously or at random, as some honorable senators seem to think. It is carefully picked, and graded by the growers, who understand the necessity and the value of grading. In most cases, however, there is no time for making a proper inspection. The fruit is picked, sent to the river-side, and taken away by barges or steamers to be carried to the port, and placed in the ship’s hold. Sometimes not more than twenty-four or thirty hours elapse from the time the fruit is picked until it is placed in the ship’s hold.
– The Tasmanian Act provides for. local inspectors.
– Yes, if the growers wish to put the Government brand of superiority on their fruit, but not otherwise. If they wish their fruit to be inspected, and to have it declared that at that time it was of first-class quality and well graded, they can obtain inspection. It is voluntary, not compulsory.
– The Act absolutely prohibits the exportation unless the fruit is marked.
– The Minister is. I think, speaking from’ memory. The Act compels the exporter to so mark his fruit that it may be identified, and it also provides that if a man marks his fruit as first-class, it shall be first-class fruit, and provides penalties if it is not of that quality.
– Section 6 says -
No product shall be shipped or placed on board any vessel for exportation from Tasmania unless the package containing such product is clearly branded in the prescribed manner with a registered brand of the consignor, and withthe registered brand or the initials and surname of the producer.
– That provision is for the purpose of identification, and has nothing to d’o with the grading or classification of the fruit.
– No regulations have been issued under the section.
– There are subsequent provisions for dealing with the grading and other matters.
– The section was never carried out.
– From want of funds, according to the Government.
– As a rule, the greater proportion of our fruit is shipped from Hobart, but when the Act was passed it was being shipped from different parts of the State, and we could not afford to provide for inspection at every port. There is no provision in the Act for compulsory inspection. Section 6, to which Senator Keating has referred, merely provides for a method of identification. Section 7 says -
Any consignor may brand any package containing any product with the words “ First Grade “ or “ No. 1,” or any other prescribed word or mark signifying “First Grade” or “No. 1,” if the contents of such package comply in all respects with such conditions as may be prescribed by Regulations to be made hereunder for such purpose.
The consignor may brand the packages, but if he does, the fruit must correspond with the conditions laid down. He is not obliged to brand it. Section 8 says -
The inspector shall have full power and Authority to open any package branded with the words “ First Grade” or “ No. i,” or any other prescribed word or mark, indicating “ First Grade “ or “ No. 1 “ and to inspect and examine its contents, and’ to prevent any package marked as aforesaid from being shipped or placed on board any vessel, if the contents of such package sire not in accordance with the provisions of this Act and of any Regulations made hereunder.
– Then the inspector had a general power to forbid the exportation of fruit under certain conditions.
– That was only when the shipper took the responsibility of declaring that it was first-grade or firstclass fruit.
– Oh, no.
– He has to mark his fruit.
– For the purpose of identification, not classification.
– Under section 9 -
The ‘inspector mav forbid the export of any product other than ‘ fruit intended for human consumption which he may consider unfit for such purpose.
– Surely the Minister can see that that section deals with quite a different phase from that .which I am discussing. I am confining my remarks principally to our experience in the exportation! of apples, and pointing out the possi– bility of very serious trouble arising if a Minister, no doubt with the best intentions in the world, desires to interfere, and tell the people of Tasmania or any other State how they should deal with a trade about which they know a great deal more than hu does. To my mind, one very serious feature of this Bill is that it is ‘really an addendum to the Customs Act. I belie,e that we cannot rightly estimate the complications which it may bring about. For that reason I should have been pleased if any supporter of the Government had proposed that the measure be referred to a Select Committee. I know that in the other Chamber a similar proposition - a most common-sense one, T think - was rejected, and that the Government are anxious to bring the session to a close. Therefore I do not wish to be the cause of any delay. But the effects of the Bill will be so serious that I think it would be almost better if its consideration were postponed until next session, so that in the meantime necessary information might be obtained for our guidance, especially in regard to an industry .like our apple industry, which is assuming national proportions. However,” if the Bill is to go into Committee, ,as I have no doubt it will, I think we ‘might make an effort to improve its provisions’, arid take away a little of the power which it gives to the Minister to prescribe regulations.
– I am sure we must all be in sympathy with’ the special representations made on behalf of Tasmania by honorable senators from that State. I think, however, that those who are opposed to this measure proceed on a wrong hypothesis. %They take it for granted that some Minister is going to act detrimentally to Australian trades and industries.
– I never suggested anything of the kind.
– The very object of the Bill is in the opposite direction. Any Minister who attempts t© deal with any of the industries coming within clause 15 must necessarily do so on the advice of those who are experts in the particular industry affected. The responsibility of the administration of this Bill will be felt very keenly, and the Minister will act with the greatest care and circumspection, with the knowledge that any mistake on his part may result in injury to our most flourishing industries. Unless there is suggested some mala fides on the part of Ministers, we may rely that every representation made in the interests of an industry, with a view to its encouragement, will receive full consideration.
– The honorable senator’s faith is very great!
– I am only laying down general principles, in the full belief that those responsible for the administration of the Bill will feel the greatest anxiety not to injure trade.
– How can it be said that Ministers will listen to representations when in the harvester case a decision was given on the statements of Mr. McKay, without waiting for the rejoinder of the Massey-Harris Company ?
– That is a temporary decision, which, in my opinion, meets with the concurrence of the majority of the people of Australia.
– That does not answer my question.
– I am not in a position to say what inquiries were made by the Minister in that particular case, but I think that what he determined was in accordance with the public opinion, not only of Australia, but of Australasia.
– Then the honorable senator would condemn a man without hearing what he has to say ?
– Nothing of. the kind. The manner in which this Bill has been received strikes me as very extraordinary. There appears to be something underlying the strenuous opposition from a certain quarter thatis known to adhere to a fiscal faith. of the remote ages. It seems to be forgotten that the larger number of the provisions of the Bill are founded on English experience and legislation, having been taken almost verbatim from the Merchandise Marks Act, and altered only when found to be defective. These provisions of the English Act have specific objects in view, namely, the protection of honest trading, the protection of the consumer, and securing and maintaining the high reputation of English products. These, too, are the objects of the Bill nowbeforeus, as applied to Australia, and they are sought to be enforced by more severe penalties than are provided for in the Merchandise Marks Act of Great Britain.
– The English Act is permissive, and does not compel a man to brand his goods.
– The honorable senator is very restive under my remarks.
– I do notwant the honorable senator to mislead the Chamber.
– My honorable friend is not speaking generously, nor is he justified in what hesays. I am now referring, as he well knows, to those provisions of the Bill which are founded on English legislation, and I am inquiring why they are met with such strenuous opposition. I am all the more surprised at the criticisms advanced against the Bill, when I remember that more than half of its provisions were discussed by this Chamber, and, after the utmost care and thoughtful deliberation, embodied in a Bill and transmitted to another place. These questions were all discussed in connexion’ with that other measure, and we, therefore, have the same foundation for the Bill now before us. It was on a former occasion argued that a number of matters could not be completely and successfully dealt with in the Merchandise Marks Bill, which we were then discussing. It was pointed out that assistance might be received in this connexion under the Customs Act, but even that measure has been found to be insufficient for the purpose. The Government, yielding to the expression of opinion of the majority in this Chamber, have introduced the Commerce Bill, with a view to curing the defects complained of by honorable senators. That seems to be the genesis of the measure; and if the objects be those I have indicated, it is for honorable senators to work together to secure their most efficient accomplishment. None of us candeny for a moment that the objects are desirable. Is there an honorable senator who will say that it is undesirable that those objects should be accomplished?
– Does the honorable senator mean the objects stated by himself, or the objects set forth in the Bill ?
– The objects stated by me.
– Then I am with the honorable senator.
– No one can deny that those objects are most desirable. It is recognised by legislation of this character that the purchaser is to a large extent at the mercy of the seller. For instance, it is quite impossible for a woman, on visiting a draper’s shop, to carry a microscope in order to ascertain whether the goods she purchases are cotton, or wool, or linen, as the case may be.
– Does the honorable senator think that this Bill will help such a purchaser?
– I am certain it will.
– I am now speaking of my own business, and I am certain that the Bill will not help in the least degree.
– I quite admit that, devise what legislation we may, there will always be found means of evading it to some extent. Our anxiety, however, is to modify the evils which occur, and that is the object of all English legislation of this character. All we can hope to do is to mitigate the evils ; no more than mitigation can be accomplished by the Bill. In order to show what takes place in every-day life, I shall give only oneillustration. We have a particularly capable analyst in Victoria - Mr. Percy Wilkinson - who induced the head of the Health Department to send round persons to purchase goods in the ordinary way, for the purpose of analysis. One purchase was of certain handkerchiefs, collars, and serviettes, and in each case linen goods were asked for. In the case of five collars purchased, every one was cotton, while of the handkerchiefs, two were cotton and one was flax.
– Does the honorable senator contend that under the Bill it will be possible to brand every handkerchief with the Government mark?
– Certainly not.
– Then what the honorable senator is describing cannot be stopped.
– The honorable senator fails to realize that every precaution will be taken “at the gate,” so that only goods which are what they purport to be shall be admitted. No doubt inferior articles may slip in, but the object is to have inspection on their entrance to the Commonwealth.
– And there will always be the penalty hanging over the head of an offender.
– Such articles will still be imported.
– Of course, but not to the same extent or volume as they otherwise would.
– We cannot stop ships from coming in.
– Of course not; we only seek to get control over the goods.
– Those collars of which the honorable senator speaks were made up in Melbourne.
– That is immaterial.
– But the Bill does not affect such goods.
– But the Bill will affect goods which are imported. We do our duty as the Federal body, and expect the Statesto do their duty.
– It is very likely !
– The honorable senator suggests that the States will not do their duty ; but we must not forget that, at this very moment, the Victorian Parliament is enacting a complementary measure to this Bill. As tothe serviettes, two were cotton and flax, and the third was flax. In regard to woollens, it was stated by the inspectors that the articles were sold in response to demands for woollen clothing, including, amongst twenty-five samples, socks, sweaters, under-shirts, under-pants, tweeds, and flannels. The result of the analysis was that seven of the twenty-five articles consisted entirely of wool, while the other eighteen contained cotton- in amounts varying from 5 to 66 per cent., the average being 44 per cent.
– How would it be possible to discriminate between those varying grades in -mixed goods?
– I am merely giving an illustration of commercial or trading conditions prevailing in our every-day life. It will be admitted that the percentages shown in connexion with these purchases are alarmingly serious.
– Does it not show that this is an impracticable Bill ?
– No; it shows that our former legislation on this subjecthas not been sufficiently drastic and that it is necessary to do something more to protect the purchaser from the avarice and greed of unscrupulous traders.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that all these are unscrupuloustraders?
– I say that every trader who sells an article by means of a misrepresentation is an unscrupulous trader.
SenatorGray. - Knowingly.
– I remind the honorable senator that, so far as the purchaser is concerned, the result is the same. If I enter a shop, and ask for linen handkerchiefs, and pay the price for them, and the proprietor of the shop sells me cotton handkerchiefs, he takes my money under false pretences. The question we have to consider is whether by thisBill we make a substantial advance towards the achievement of the object to which I have referred.
There is bound to be a difference of opinion on that point; but how can any reasonable exception be taken to clause 3, which but for a few verbal alterations is taken- bodily from the British Act passed to accomplish the objects I have referred 16?
– With the exception of three or four words, the whole clause is taken from the British Act.
– I have said that it is taken almost verbatim from the British Act, and I believe it is actually a verbatim copy of a clause already passed by the Senate, and, consequently, no reasonable objection can be taken to it. That applies also to clause 4. Then there is to be a power of inspection of imports and exports, and T may have a word to say about that later on. The most serious opposition is raised with respect to the terms embodied in clause 7. I have already urged the point that whilst the British legislation and ours is directed towards the same object, it must not be taken for granted that because we prefer to adopt somewhat more drastic provisions to achieve the same object we are therefore wrong. The Senate must take the responsibility of deciding whether the means suggested in this Bill will lead to the more effectual accomplishment of the object aimed at. Regulations may prohibit the importation or introduction info Australia of anyspecified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such a character relating to such matters, and applied in such manner as is prescribed. I am aware that strong exception is taken to this clause, and I therefore point out that a trade description has a very definite meaning in this Bill, and, as has already been urged by Senator Pearce, it will not lae competent for the Minister to go outside of that meaning. It will not be suggested for a moment that the whole of the definition in clause 3 of a trade description must necessarily be applied to every article. The idea is that a trade description has a certain- meaning, and the Minister must ascertain which of the characteristics set forth in clause 3 is applicable to the particular article to be dealt w”ith, and he must apply them accordingly in preparing a description’” as prescribed.” He has a wide range of discretion in this direction. As regards the object of this particular clause, it may be said generally that it purports to protect the purchaser from fraud, and to compel vendors of goods to sell according to the trade description of the goods. It provides that, as far as possible, it shall be insisted on that, as regards quantity, purity, measurement, and so on. goods sold shall be as represented. That is the aim and object of the clause, and I contend that it is most desirable. If any one attempts the importation of goods in contravention of the provisions of the Bill, such goods may be detained.
– Suppose a man imports a roll of tweed ?
– If it is discovered that it is not as represented, it will be competent for the Comptroller to say that the tweed may be exported elsewhere, or must be branded with its true description.
– Branded all over?
– No, not branded alf over, but branded at the port before it’ is put into consumption ?
– Branded what?
– Branded as to its quality.
– What is tweed?
– How can it be branded as to its quality ?
– Senator Mulcahy wi 1 know that an invoice is sent with goods, and that under the Customs Act, the Customs entry must truly describe the particular goods.
– So it will.
– So far as we are concerned “ at the ‘gate,” we insist that goods shall be in accordance with the Customs entry passed for them.
– “ Wool “ or “’ shoddy “ ?
– Exactly. Then when it gets into the State, as I have already pointed out, -it wilt be the subject of complementary legislation to secure internal protection. We take the precaution at the very outset to have only truly branded goods introduced into the Commonwealth. Surely nothing could be more reasonable? As to the suggestion that this is most tyrannical, provision is made that the goods may be branded, while- here, in accordance with a prescribed description, or may be exported elsewhere, so that’ the importer need not suffer unduly. So far as imports are concerned, it is provided that they shall not bear a false trade description. Could anything be move fair or reasonable? Could anything be more fair than to provide that the trade description affixed to goods shall not be calculated to mislead in a material respect as regards the goods to which it is applied, and that every alteration of a trade description, whether by way of addition, effacement, or otherwise, which makes the description false or likely to mislead in a material respect, shall be prevented so far as it is possible to prevent it? These, in my opinion, are desirable objects. In connexion with exports, the same provisions apply. By clause 11, it is proposed, so far as we can do so, to protect the reputation of our products. In this connexion I need give but one example. Our exports last year of eucalyptus oil amounted in value to something like £18,000, or double the value of the export for the previous year. The oil has become very popular in the English market, but it has latterly been found that since it became so popular inferior, stuff is being placed on the market, with the result that the standard of our export has been alarmingly depreciated, and, what is worse, by reason of that depreciation, we cannot hope for any considerable increase in the export of this product. What might be urged in connexion with this example could be repeated in regard to butter, cheese, poultry, and food-stuffs generally. As regards exports we enact a similar provision prohibiting the application of false trade descrip-tions. It may be said that we shall fail to achieve the great things we are attempting to accomplish by this Bill, but that should not discourage us from making the attempt. It is only by experience in this direction that we can hope to learn the defects of our system which require to be remedied. It may be taken for granted that if we made no attempt in this direction we should never acquire the experience necessary to enable us to remedy the evils to which I have referred. Great exception is taken to clause 14, which provides that -
Any goods intended for export which have been inspected in pursuance of this Act may in manner prescribed be marked with the prescribed trade description. <
It has been said that this clause is unjust and tyrannical, but I pointed out that nothing novel is proposed. It is well known that all goods in the form of carcasses of cattle and hogs, and portions of those animals, which are introduced -into Great Britain from the United States are most carefully branded by the United States Department of Agriculture, which is one of the most useful institutions of that country. In this connexion I may say that a report was made in 1901 by a commercial agent, Mr. Sinclair, who represented Victoria in London.
– A good man.
– A very good man indeed. In the interests of Victoria he visited America, with a view to ascertain the means adopted by the Agricultural Department there in dealing with meat inspection. He furnished a report on this subject, and I will trouble the Senate with a few extracts from it. If honorable senators desire to peruse the report it will be at their disposal. Mr. Sinclair says -
A conversation with Dr. Salmon on the work of meat and live slock inspection by his division soon revealed its great extent, thoroughness, and value to the United States. He told me that their trade in animal products and live stock could never have been built up on the sound commercial basis on which it now stands, or have made such progress, had it not been for the existence of their State system of inspection, which being thorough in character, gave absolute confidence to foreign buyers and consumers.
– Have not buyers confidence in Australian meat?
– They would have greater confidence if it were branded, as the experience of the United States has shown. Mr. Sinclair further says -
An Act of Congress, approved 30th August, 1890, provided for the inspection of meat for exportation, but this was supplemented on 31st March, 1891, by an Act “ For the inspection of live cattle, hogs, and the carcases and products thereof, which are the subject of inter-State commerce, and for other purposes.”
Mr. Sinclair visited the vast establishment of Mr. Armour in Chicago, and later on in his report, he says -
So that I should have better evidence of the results of this inspection, the Doctor took me into the “ condemned chamber,” which was adjoining the large one in which they were then at work. . . . There were thirty-two carcases of cattle, each bearing the yellow condemnation tag, the majority being animals affected with tuberculosis, some to a slight extent, others very bad indeed. One animal was condemned for emaciation. The wisdom of the inspection as a safeguard to the consumer was apparent at a glance, and the possibility of any of these animals being sent out for food, or canned for that purpose would contribute towards destroying any oversea trade being largely developed.
This is particularly interesting, as it gives hopes that in Queensland and New South Wales in particular - as well as. perhaps, in Victoria - there is a possibility of a large trade ultimately being done in live and dead cattle.
– In live cattle? It has been tried, and has failed.
– To some extent in live cattle, but particularly in dead cattle. Later on he says -
With a desire of obtaining an expression of opinion from Armour and Company’s superintendent as to the action of the States Government in carrying out this system of meat inspection in their establishment, I asked him how they like this procedure, and the presence of so many officials in their killing and packing houses. His reply was that they could not but regard it with favour, as it enabled them to furnish a Government guarantee as to the sound condition of their meat and meat products exported to foreign countries ; further, that they took care to advertise the fact…..
This system of inspection of meat, which I saw in operation in Chicago, is carried on throughout the United States, the Federal Government dealing with the whole question as a matter affecting the interests of the whole nation. Had it been left to the various individual States to deal with, it could not possibly have been made so thorough and effective, and would have lacked uniformity, and in consequence would have failed in benefiting in such a marked degree their foreign export trade in meat products.
Further oni he says -
In regard ‘to the exportation of meat and meat products from Austrafia, now one of the Commonwealth chief sources of wealth, and a trade in the further development of which many thousands of its pastoralists and farmers have to depend so much upon, considering that the United ‘States is one of our great rivals in supplying the requirements of Great Britain and foreign countries, and can furnish such a perfect State guarantee of the quality and conditions of its products, I think its action in reference to system of federal meat inspection should be adopted by the Commonwealth of Australia.
There is recorded the opinion of a man who has given close attention to our export trade, and, indeed, to the encouragement of the various industries of the State of Victoria. I refer especially to food exports. This is the result of his examination of the United States system.
– Has the honorable and learned senator any proof that the meat imported from the United States is any better than that imported from Australia?
– Undoubtedly. First of all there is the testimony of Mr. Sinclair, and there is also the fact that the American exporters take care to advertise that their meat has been inspected. In Smithfield, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and all the leading meat markets of Great Britain that fact is advertised, and is a source of the greatest confidence to the consumers. Violent objection has been taken to this grading system. But honorable senators have ignored the fact that the system has been adopted in several of the States at the instance of the producers themselves, and for their protection. It would be idle for me to attempt to deal at length with this matter, but I would draw attention to one or two facts . The branding of rabbits for export . has been a splendid success in Victoria.. Rabbits are packed in crates, and affixed to every crate is the Government stamp, “Approver! for export.” They are graded into the classes, “large,” “young,” “small,” “size 1,” “size 2,” “size 3.” The rejects are picked out and put together, as well as those which are unwholesome.
– How do they stamp the crates?
– It would not interest honorable senators if I were to read a report on the subject, but I will hand a copy of it to’ my honorable friend. The report which I have here is by Mr. R. Crowe, on “The Grading of Rabbits for Export”; and if Senator Walker wall look over it, he will see exactly the process that is followed.
– There is no grading of rabbits as to quality ; they are simply graded according to size, and as to whether they are sound and healthy.
– Suppose that what the honorable senator says is true ; and I do no doubt it, still, there is a process of inspection, for the benefit of the producer, and for the protection of the consumer. The principle which is embodied in this Bill is the recognised principle of inspection and grading. But what is more interesting, is what has been done in regard to other products. Let . me refer particularly to the grading of butter. Some time ago an expert was sent from Victoria to New Zealand to see if any of the processes followed there were different from our own. He furnished a report on the subject. He states that though he met hundreds of buyers, agents, and producers, he found only three who objected to the grading system, and one of them qualified his objection. But the general public opinion was favorable. He says -
Although a great number of dairymen, butter factory managers, secretaries, and directors were either much averse to the innovation at first, or looked upon it with a good deal of misgiving and doubt, now there is not one to be found who does not admit the pronounced success of the grading system.
Agents and buyers say, “Why, we simply Base all our bargains on it; we could not do without grading now. It acts on the managers just the same as giving marks to boys at school.” Dairymen state, “ We would be nowhere but for our grading system.” “ The best thing that ever happened for our dairy industry.” Managers usually answer, “ I know that if any one else is higher, I never rest till I get up to him.” “My word, it keeps us up to the tick all right.” Directors say, “ The grading system is acknowledged by banksand buyers in London, and advances are made, according to grade, on bills of lading with grade certificates attached.” “ The great advantage we find is in selling; it prevents disputes, and there is never any question as to the quality or standard, the Government graders’ verdict and stamp being final and binding.” “ If the grading system were dropped to-morrow, the quality would drop also.”
Experts assert, “They all like it now; it used not to be so ; people were frightened at first, but they quickly recognised the advantages once it got started.”
The Produce Exchange in England has recently embodied in its rules that the Government grade certificate shall be accepted by them as final in regard to quality ; and another that Government certificates of weights shall be binding. Such an acknowledgment, coming as it does from perhaps the most conservative element of the trade, should be convincing.
I will read a few lines from the report upon the grading system in Victoria. I am quoting from page 915 of Vol. II., part 9, of the. Victorian Journal of Agriculture - At the commencement of the season some of the butter factories requested the Department to grade and stamp their export butter as either “approved for export,1st grade,” or “approved for export, 2nd grade,” and so on. As some exporters appeared unaware that the Department would undertake to grade in the absence of legislation a circular was sent to all shippers informing them that it would be done whenever it was desired. Twenty-two factories applied to have their consignments graded and stamped prior to shipment. This was done, and certificates sent to the companies weekly showing the result, many factories expressing themselves as highly pleased with the value of these detailed reports, and all requesting that the grading should be continued.
– This season sixtyseven factories applied to have their butter graded in Victoria, as against twentyseven last year.
– I am thankful to the honorable senator for the information. This system of grading, which has been objected to so violently, has been proved by experts to have produced magnificent results in the interests of both producers and consumers. Surely it may be relied upon to be of the same advantage in regard to other producing interests.
– In Victoria, it is only the first grade that is marked.
– It does not matter whether it is the first or second grade. I am contending for a principle. It will be for the Minister to frame regulations to accommodate the circumstances of the trade. Senator Pulsford and others declared in very strong terms that certain of the provisions of this Bill were most tyrannical, and that no Minister ought to be intrusted with the administration of them. Reference ‘has been made to clause 5 of the Bill, which provides that it will be competent to make an inspection of imports and exports ; and sub-clause 3 says that for the purposes of the section, the officer may enter any ship, wharf, or place, and open anypackages to enable him to carry out his powers and duties. We are enacting nothing new in this connexion. The provision is simply a repetition of a principle which we have already adopted. Let me draw attention to section 186 of the Customs Act, which provides that - any officer may open packages and examine weigh mark and seal any goods, subject to the control of the Customs, and the expense of the examination, including the cost of removal to the place of examination,shall be borne by the owner.
Therefore, the provision of this Bill, which is objected to, is not novel in any sense. The same power is contained in the Customs Act.
– In connexion with protecting the revenue - quite a different thing.
– It is immaterial whether it is for the purpose of protecting the revenue or of protecting the purchaser. There is the fact that this alleged tyrannical power is one which is embodied in every Customs Act throughout the British dominions.
– Yes, after they have got through the gate. The honorable and learned senator wants to stop them from coming through the gate.
– We wish to make quite sure that only honestly-branded goods shall pass through the gate.
– The importers cannot be stopped from dishonestly branding them afterwards and sending “them to other States.
– Honorable senators complain that the Bill empowers the GovernorGeneral in Council to make regulations for all sorts of purposes; but it has already been pointed’ out that the regulations must come strictly within the four cor- tiers of the Bill. We are only re-enacting a principle which is contained in the Customs Act.
– Why should it be reenacted then?
– For the purposes of the Bill, the draftsman has deemed it necessary that the principle should be re-enacted, and no doubt he is right. Section 52 of the Customs Act says: -
The following are prohibited imports : -
– Read paragraphh.
The same object as we have in view in this Bill.
– It isnot the same legislation.
– It is not exactly the same legislation. The principle is embodied in the Customs Act, and is simplybeing effectively carried out in this Bill.
– In the Customs Act we only prohibit imports, but in this Bill we penalize those who endeavour to bring in prohibited imports.
– That is the distinction. Section 56 says: -
The power of prohibiting importation of goods shall authorize prohibition subject to any specified condition or restriction, and goods imported contrary to any such condition or restriction shall be prohibited imports.
In the face of those provisions involving, precisely the same principle, is it a reasonable criticism of this measure to say that it is tyrannical and dangerous in the extreme? I think not. I had not the pleasure of’ being present when the report of the interview with Mr. Wade by a Sydney newspaper was read; but I took an opportunity to glance down the report, and I trunkthatMr. Wade would be very sorry to stake his reputation as a lawyer on the light and airy opinions which he then expressed.
– He shifted his ground in the interview from that which he took up in his first letter to the newspapers.
– I should think he would. I could not help being amused when I learned that he invited the Sydney public to realize what was going on in far- off Melbourne. Amongst other things, he charged this Parliament with infringing State rights. He said that we were prescribing how goods should be made, that that was essentially the duty of the States, and that we had no right to interfere. There is only one answer to his allegation, and that is that we are not attempting to infringe States rights in any possible form. What we say is that the transportation of imports and exports shall be done in a particular way, and subject to certain conditions and restrictions. We are not attempting to prescribe how the goods shall be manufactured. Then Mr. Wade said that the duty of the State is to protect the safety, the health, and the morals of the people. Am I to understand from this remark that he is jealous of the Federal Parliament attempting to legislate, so far as its jurisdiction extends ? He knows as well as we do that the Federal Parliament has not the power to go beyond a certain point. All we can do is to legislate to the extent of our jurisdiction, because, if we were to exceed our powers our legislation on appeal would at once be declared ultra vires by the High Court. We propose to protect the people, so far as our Federal power will permit us, and we expect the States to pass the complementary legislation. We are acting in this way because we are anxious to secure uniform legislation throughout Australia. The misfortune is that in one State there is one class of legislation concerning the component parts of certain products and manufactured articles, and that in other States there is either no legislation on the subject or different legislation. We are proposing to lay down certain restrictions in regard to the importation and exportation of manufactured articles,and thus protect the safety, the health, and the morals of the people to the utmost of our power. We desire to protect the honest trader, the innocent consumer, and, what is more, to build up the highest possible standard for our industries, for by that means alone can we hope to succeed.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).With all due deference to you, sir, I feel disposed to express the opinion that it is time we discussed the Commerce Bill. I have listened to the discussion for two nights, and I have heard a great deal about some very nicely sounding principles, to all of which I subscribe. But every honorable senator, who has spoken in support of the measure, seemed to me to purposely abstain from addressing his arguments to its crucial points.
– The honorable senator asked them, often enough, to deal with clause 7.
– Yes, and I admired the ingenuity with which they said they would come to that clause later on. I propose to deal with the clause at once.
– Senator Best dealt with it.
– I am glad that he is present to hear me say that- -of course quite unconsciously - he has misled the Senate 111 his affirmation that the Bill is founded upon principles embodied in legislation elsewhere. I shall come to that point later on.
Honorable Senators. - Oh !
– I shall come to the point now, as honorable senators ( seem to wish me to do, because it does not make very much difference to me whether I quote the English Act now or later on. We have been told that the Bill is founded on the English Act.
– I said that most of its provisions are.
– In the first place, the Bill contains the principle of absolute compulsion, but in the English Act there is not a word about compulsion. The very title of the Act is -
An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to fraudulent marks on merchandise.
It imposes no obligation upon a man to mark his goods.
– What has been the interpretation of the Act by judicial decision. ?
– The Minister had better obtain the judicial decision, because I cannot tell him what it is.
– If the honorable senator intends to discuss the effect of the Act, he must not only take the Act as it was drawn in 1862. but the judicial decisions given thereunder.
– The Minister can deny what I am going to state if he dares to do so.
– I cannot, because I do not know what the honorable senator is going to say ; but there is more in that Act than appears on its face.
– Of course there is. When a lawyer gets hold of an Act he will soon find more than appears on its face. If there is not a ‘brief on its face he will soon get one. What I said was that there was not a word of compulsion in the English Act.
– -Nobody said there was.
– Honorable senators come here and ask “ What is there extraordinary in this Bill when it is founded on the English Act?” The sole effect- -I shall not say the sole purpose - of a statement of that kind is to instil into the minds of other honorable senators the fact that the Bill corresponds with the English Act. It does nothing of the kind.
– Most distinctly it does as regards most of its provisions.
– If Senator Best will repeat the assertion that the Bill corresponds in principle with the English Act, I can only say that I am absolutely amazed.
– I never said so. What I said was that, as regards most of its provisions, it is founded on the English Act.
– What was the purpose of the honorable and learned senator in referring to the Act?
– He said it was based on the English Act.
– The sole purpose of that observation was to convey the idea that in principle it corresponds with the English Act, and that, as that Act had been worked, there could not be anything very extraordinary in this Bill. We had a statement by Senator Best that, with the exception of one or two words, the interpretation clause corresponds with that in the English Act, and in lids genial way Senator Playford went a little -‘further, and I think made am interjection which, at any rate, confirmed that statement.
– What I said was that the Act was amended where it had been found to be defective.
– In England, it is necessary to turn to more than one Act.
– I am aware of that fact; but I ask Senator Best or Senator Playford to tell me in what English Act he will find a provision corresponding with paragraph’ c of clause 3 of this Bill ?
– It is to be found word for word in one of the Acts.
– Will the Minister quote me the Act?
– I cannot quote the Act; I am informed by my secretary that the provision corresponds word for word with a provision in an English Act,and I believe his statement to be true.
– While the Minister is consulting his secretaryon the point, I wish to impress upon honorable senatorsthat the purpose of the English Act was merely to leave it optional with the owner of the goods to brand them or not. It says to a man : “ If you put on your goods a mark indicative of quality, contents, size, or weight it shall be a truthful one, but we do not compel you to do so, much less do we give any Minister the right to say what description you shall put on your goods.” We have heard generally that this Bill is going to stop fraud, to protect the consumer and the honest trader, and to help the. trade of Australia.
– That is the object of the Bill.
– The honorable and learned senator now says “ that is the object of the Bill.” All I can say is that, if that is so, it is a monumental failure. I wish to traverse the several arguments, and see whether or not the clauses to which I object - I am not objecting to the entire Bill - have anything to do with the reasons which honorable senators put forward for supporting the second reading. I want to stop fraud, to protect the honest trader, to help the trade of Australia, but I wish to see how far the provisions of the Bill are necessary or useful for this purpose, and how far they go beyond it. If that be their desire, what do honorable senators want more than clauses 5, 9, and 13 ? Of course, I do not mean the clauses complementary to them. Clause 5 gives the power of inspection. Clause 9 says -
No person shall import any goods to which a false trade description is applied.
Clause 13 says -
All goods to which any false trade description is applied are hereby prohibited to be exported.
If it is merely honest trading which honorable senators wish to secure, those three provisions say that any goods coming in or going out shall be honestly described. If the Bill commenced there and ended there it would give honorable senators what they say they want - protection against fraud, and I would support it. I am prepared to support those provisions now, but it is clear that that does not satisfy honorable senators. They want something more, and I want to see what underlies the support given to these additional and extraordinary provisions in the Bill. That brings me to clause 7. I have already pointed out that in other clauses there is ample provision to see that all goods are correctly described. What further protection do honorable senators want who say that they wish to stop fraud, to protect the honest trader and the importer, and to help the trade of Australia. What more can be wanted than that goods imported or exported shall be honestly described. Those clauses embody the principle of which we have heard so much, and which nobody desires to dispute; but not one of the honorable senators who have advocated those sound and high principles of commercial morality have attempted to justify clause 7, which contains a provision very different from those with which I have just said I agree. Clause7 is not a mere request that a man shall correctly describe his goods - it is something far more. If honest description is all that is wanted, I call on honorable senators to help me to strike out clause 7. What clause 7 provides for is a description which need not necessarily be a true one, but which may, on the other hand, be absolutely false.
– Then it may be a description that is absolutely incorrect, though it is one which the Minister has to approve, and which he may by regulation ordain. I ask the honorable senator if that clause is necessary for the protection of the honest trader or of the consumer? Surely it is sufficient to say that when goods are exported or imported they shall be honestly branded, without providing that the Minister may issue a mandate as to the particular description which the goods shall carry.
– The object is to have a standard, so that goods of the same quality may bear the same marks.
– These latter-day assurances that the Bill is intended for grading reminds me of the simplicity and ease with which in the early days the measure was understood by the members of the Cabinet, as shown by the fact that three different Ministers made three different statements on this very point. The VicePresident of the Executive Council then said that no sane man could call this a grading measure. I do not know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council desired to reflect on the sanity of
– I am sure I do not - but it is quite evident that the criticisms which greeted the first appearance of the measure were justified by the fact that the Ministers themselves did not understand the extent of the powers they were seeking. I have already pointed out that the English Act is optional in its operation. Senator Best, in reply to a question interjected by me as to whether he could point to any parallel provision elsewhere, referred me to the English Act, and then went on to speak of Victorian grading. So far as i have been able to ascertain, there is no parallel to clause . 7 to be found anywhere in English legislation. There is no section in the English Act which gives the Minister power to decree the full particulars which are to be supplied on a multiplicity of points, and shown on every package of goods which is imported or exported. A statement was made last evening that under this extraordinary power it would be possible for the Minister to require particulars equivalent to a union label. Senator Pearce instantly denied the statement, but I ask his attention now while I refer him to the interpretation clause. Clause 7 is as follows: -
The regulations may prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any specified goods, unless there is applied to them a trade description of such a character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner, as is prescribed.
To ascertain the meaning of “ trade description “ I have to turn to the interpretation clause, where I find that amongst other things, according to paragraph c, it means particulars - as to the manufacturer or producer of the goods, or the person by whom they were selected, or in any way prepared for the market.
Under that interpretation, in conjunction with clause 7, it would be possible for the Minister to demand particulars of the widest possible character. He might demand to know whether the manufacturer employed union labour, or whether the packer was a member of a union.
– Can the Minister deny that the Minister is empowered by these clauses to ask for particulars as to the manufacturer? There is no limit to the particulars whichmay be asked. The Minister may go so far as to ask whether the manufacturer is married or single.
– The Minister is just as likely to ask for that particular as for the other particulars suggested.
– The honorable senator may have a more modest opinion than I have of the power that may be exercised by his party under certain circumstances.
– The English Act asks for particulars as to the mode of manufacture or production of the goods.
– That is the section of the English Act which the Minister saysisword for word with the clause in the Bill. But in the Bill “ mode of production” becomes “manufacturer,” and “ production” becomes “producer.” The Bill asks for particulars about the persons, which is a very different matter from asking for particulars about the mode of production.
– The Bill uses practically the same words as the English Act. in sub-clause d of the interpretation clause, which provides for particulars - as to the mode of manufacturing, producing, selecting, packing, or otherwise preparing the goods.
– Any one with the most rudimentary knowledge of language must see the wide distinction between the English section, and the clause of the Bill ; and I have a right to ask why the difference has been made. Surely it is not accidental. If there is any intention at all, it is to give the Bill a wider scope, and confer a power which is not conferred in England, and which the Minister is not “game “ tosay he seeks to obtain. If the Minister, who is responsible for this Bill - I do not mean merely in this Chamber - does not want the power which this clause confers, why not accept the words of the English Act? I say that there was an object when’ it wasdecided to ask for particulars as to persons.
– Hear. hear.
– And the object is clear enough.
– The provision is the result of the eighteen years’ experience in England since the passing of the Act.
– It is the result of the Minister’s eighteen weeks’ experience of office.
– There is a Bill containing similar provisions before the English Legislature.
– In the face of thismarked difference between the Act and the Bill, we were assured that there had been only one or two slight departures from the wording of the English section. Will anybody but a Minister say that the alteration is slight? The sole purpose of the clause is clear to my mind ; it is that the Government, if they desire, shall have the power to insist on a stamp showing whether or not goods are the product of union labour.
– A very useful provision!
– The honorable senator is honest. Why is the Bill not equally honest ? I am not now discussing whether or not it is desirable that goods shall bear a stamp indicating the class of labour by which they are produced : but when we are asked to sanction a Bill, we ought to know what we are doing. If the intention is what I have indicated, it ought to be clearly shown in the clause, and not presented in a form apparently harmless, but conferring a most pernicious power. There is another matter in connexion with the interpretation clause, and clause 7, to which I desire to call attention. It is claimed that under the Bill the Minister will have power to determine the sizes of the cases to be used forthe carriage of fruit. I am not allowed by the rules of the Senate to refer to the debates in another place, but as the authority for my statement I refer honorable senators to page 2424 of Hansard, where they will see that claim made by the Minister responsible for the Bill. Are honorable senators prepared to go that length? Surely it is reasonable to leave the grower of particular classes of fruit at liberty to use the kind of cases which he deems most suitable tohis business. But the Minister claims a power which would enable him to compel a producerto order fresh cases. I am so clear on this point that I remember one remark made by the Minister in another place on this very subject, when he said that if importers or exporters declined to use cases of the regulation size they could be “dealt with.”
– I understand the desire to he to prevent the use of fraudulent cases.
– What has such a claim as I have described to do with the protection of the honest trader, helping the trade of Australia, or all those fine objects we have heard so much about? Honorable senators will understand that I am entirely with them in the lofty principles they have enunciated ; but I object to a Bill which places in the hands of the Minister a power so great and injurious.
– Who fixes the size of the cases now?
– I should imagine those in the trade.
– It is necessary for the purpose of freight charges to have a uniform size.
– A uniform size is all right, but I think that the fruit-growers might be left to decide the size of case best suited to their requirements.
– A few fruit-growers might upset the arrangements of all the others.
– A few could not do that.
– The fruit-growers voluntarily adopted a differently-shaped case in Tasmania recently.
– The size of the case has been fixed by Statute in Tasmania.
– That was done afterwards.
– When it is proposed to confer these enormous, and yet vague, powers on the Minister, it is not unreasonable to ask from the Government a statement as to what they propose to do under the Bill, and how they propose to do it. At present they simply ask us to pass the Bill and to trust to them to administer if. To what extent do the Government propose to exercisethe powers they seek? In spite of the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, there is no doubt this Bill does provide for grading, but I want to know to what extent the Government propose to grade. Is it proposed to set up departments throughout Australia in order that there may be grading at every port? And what articles is it proposed to grade? As pointed out by Senator Pulsford yesterday, although ‘there appears to be a limitation in clause 15 as to the articles which come within the scope of clauses 7 and 11, that limitation is nominal rather han real. Before I agree to legislation of this kind I wish to know to what extent the Government propose to exercise their powers. Do they propose to have a perfect army of expert graders inevery particular line at every port in Australia?
– If the Government do not propose to carry out the Act in that whole-hearted way, what limits are they going to place upon themselves in its administration? What do they propose to do? The Minister is silent; and obviously so.
– Because it would take me too long to reply.
- Senator Playford has not gained his parliamentary experience without knowing that an certain circumstances “silence is golden.” I commend him foi it, but whilst it may be wisdom on the part of the Minister to keep silent it is not the duty of the Senate to assent to legislation conferring drastic powers without some idea of the extent to which they are to be exercised ? Are we to have a numerous army of experts at every port for the purpose of grading every article which can be brought within clauses 7 and 11? The Minister shakes his head; and I therefore ask which articles are to be left out and which are to be dealt with ? Is it to be one article to-day and another to-morrow? Is the selection to be determined by Ministerial caprice? Is it to be because some Mr. H. V. McKay, in a particular industry, comes along and lobbies the Minister ? These are questions which occur to my mind, and which I think should be answered. Without some definite statement as to the lines on which, in this respect, the Bill is to be administered, we should never be asked to consent to pass clauses 7 and 11.
– It might be spirit importers who would lobby somebody.
– Exactly ; but I wish to know the lines on which the Bill is to be administered. What I object to, and what 1 fear, is that when any particular individual, or combination of individuals, find some trade rival interfering with their business they may bring a little pressure to bear upon the. Minister - and how successfully that can be done we have had recent instances to show - with the result that whilst to-day an article may not be graded, the Minister may see fit to grade it tomorrow, and for all I know not to grade it the day after.
– If the men seeking the Minister are in the same business their goods will be graded also.
– Is there no difference between the local manufacturer and the importer? The goods of the local manufacturer are not graded.
– We cannot grade the goods of the importer.
– It is the importer I am speaking ot.
– We can grade exports, not imports.
– I point out that the Minister can exercise his powers under clauses 7 and 11 in such a way as to affect imports as well as exports. He can prescribe a trade description which will have the effect of restraining imports. If we are to have limited grading we should be given some idea as to the extent of the limitation within which the powers conferred by this Bill are to be exercised, and as to the lines on which it is to be administered. This is one of the particulars wherein this Bill differs from any of the legislation to which reference has been made. If we consider the Tasmanian Act, to which Senator Mulcahy has referred, the Victorian Grading Act, or the New Zealand Act, we shall find that they are definite as to their purpose. They do not simply provide that !the Minister may grade under regulation anything and everything he pleases. They . definitely set out the articles to be dealt with, and the way in which they are to be dealt with.
– The South Australian Act is absolutely voluntary.
– So is the Victorian Act.
– There happens to be no Act dealing with the subject in South Australia.
– I refer to the system adopted in that State.
– The Victorian Act is entirely voluntary.
– So far as grading is concerned, that is so.
– And it is a fact that Senator Best carefully lost sight of.
– I do not suppose we should make it compulsory in very many cases.
– Here is another admission. The Minister says : “ I do not suppose we should make it compulsory.”
– No; what I said was that I did not suppose we should make it compulsory in verv many cases. There is no necessity to duplicate work, and we could accept the grading of a State.
– Does not this make it abundantly clear that the Senate should be informed of the intentions of the Government in this matter? I cannot claim a long parliamentary experience, but in the ten years during which I have had the honour of a seat in Parliament somewhere, I can remember no instance in which a Bill was ever passed through a Legislative Assembly with such scanty information as to what is to be done.
– By regulation.
– I have known a great deal of power to be asked for under regulations, but always with some guide and information as to the purposes for which regulations are to be used. We have absolutely no guide here, and the Minister declines to give any information. All we know is that the Bill gives the Minister the right to exercise powers of inspection and grading over an enormous number of articles, involving the greater portion of the commerce inwards and outwards of the Commonwealth. The Minister has admitted that the Government are not likely to make grading compulsory in very many cases. Where do we stand? Is there going to be favoritism?
– I told the honorable senator, in moving the second reading of the Bill, as he will find if he takes the trouble to read my speech.
– I have troubled to read it, and it did not take me long. I also listened to the speech, and the idea in my mind when the honorable senator resumed his seat was that it was a case of “ least said, soonest mended.?’ I never remember a Bill which has excited so much public attention throughout Australia, and which has given rise .to fierce controversy elsewhere, introduced and thrown on the table of a legislative chamber with such a scanty introduction as this one received at the hands of Senator Playford.
– The only matter the honorable senator referred to was apples.
– The honorable senator drew an interesting picture of the little apples of Tasmania grading themselves, and I do not know that he told us verv much more on the subject. In view of the indefini’teness of clauses 7 and 11, and the Ministerial attitude, it is instructive to remember the history of those clauses. When the Bill was first introduced, it was intended that those two clauses should cover everything under the sun.
– That was in the original Bill which we found in the pigeonhole.
– I have been waiting for that explanation all the evening. We have here another of those statements which can be made only with the one object of conveying to the minds of honorable senators something , other than the facts. We know that last’ evening Senator Playford dramatically waved the Bill about! and suggested that it came to the present Government from their predecessors. What are the facts of the case? It has been stated by Mr. Allan McLean, the mention of whose name will carry weight with it, that the Bill found in the office which he vacated had been prepared by officers of the Department, but had never been revised by him as an individual Minister, much less submitted to the Cabinet. Who prepared the Bill ? Was it not the very same officers who are advising the present Government ? Is there anything very extraordinary in the fact that, having the same advisers, the present Government take up the same pernicious measure ?
– We do not.
– I am not saying that the Bill would be better or worse on that account; but it is utterly wrong for Ministers to attempt to convey to the minds of honorable senators that this measure has had the sanction of the previous Government, when the members of the previous Government have stated time and again that it never had the sanction even of the Minister who had charge of it.
– I did not say it had their sanction ; I said it was found in the pigeon-hole.
– Last evening the honorable senator waved the Bill about like some flag of a forlorn hope, and said, “ This is the Bill- of the previous Government - of our predecessors.”
– The honorable senator only applied a false description to it.
– I think that the honorable senator should be brought under clause 7 of this Bill.
– We found it in the pigeon-hole. I do not know how it came to be drafted, unless it was at the instigation of previous Ministers.
– I propose to trace the history of clauses 7 and n. The Bill as originally brought forward by the previous Government provided that clauses 71 and 11 should cover everything - that is. to say, that the Minister should have power to declare what description should be placed upon imports and exports of every kind.
– That was in the original Bill.
– In the Bill as originally introduced by the present Government?
– In the Bill which we found in the pigeon-hole.
– I am beginning to understand the reason for the loose character of the legislationintroduced by the present Government. It is evidently not the product of Ministerial wisdom, but something which Ministers have found in the departmental pigeon-holes. The source of their inspiration has been the pigeon-holes of the Departments. However, I am inclined to think that the Bills which they take out of the pigeon-holes of the Departments may be very much better than anything which they could be expected to hatch out of their own inner consciousness. I make a third effort to trace the history of these pernicious clauses 7 and 11. I have stated that, as the Bill was originally introduced by the present Government, clauses 7 and11 applied to everything. A little later, when those largely concerned in the matter, the representatives of trade and commerce, interviewed Sir William Lyne, that honorable gentleman promised to limit their application to foods,, medicines, and manures. That largely disarmed the criticisms directed against the Bill, and tended to allay the alarm which its appearance had excited. When it got on its legislative way again the Minister in charge of it agreed to include apparel, but said that that was not to include piecegoods.A little later it was made to include piece-goods and material generally. It is evident, from the various changes which have come over these clauses, that even those who drafted the Bill have hardly understood its scope. All through the course of the Bill there has been evident a measure of doubt, even in the minds of its sponsors, as to how far the Bill will go. In view of that doubt, there is an obligation cast on the Senate to ascertain to what extent the Government propose to exercise the powers conferred by clauses 7 and 11. I come now to deal with the contention - I cannotcall it an argument - of which we have heard a great deal, to the effect that this Bill is necessary to protect the consumer. I am glad that Senator Best is present, because he had a great deal to say upon this subject. We all desire to protect the consumer, but when
I put the question to those who have raised this cry as to how this Bill is going to do it, no one so far has given a satisfactory answer. I take Senator Best upon the very goods he mentioned, and the particulars of which he furnished to the Senate. The honorable and learned senator related the history of the purchase of certain articles supposed to contain linen, and found upon analysis to contain less costly materials. I ask the honorable senator now how this Bill is going to stop the importation and sale of those goods ?
– I explained that it would diminish it.
– We do not desire to stop their importation or sale, but we do desire that they shall be properly described.
- Senator Playford has given Senator Best his answer. The honorable senator says that it is not desired to stop the importation and sale of these articles. That is lucky for the honorable senator, because by this Bill it could not be done. Unlessa trade description is applied to every particular article - a manifest absurdity - there can be no protection for the consumer under this Bill. The articles which Senator Best mentioned would be imported in bulk, and the only trade description required would be affixed to the outer package.
– Every collar might be branded “linen,” “cotton,” or “union,” as the case might be. As a matter of fact, in many cases they are so branded.
– The honorable senator now shifts his ground. While he was speaking I asked him whether he proposed that every article should be branded. He replied, “ No,” and not without some scorn. Are we to have every table-napkin - one of the articles referred to by Senator Best - branded with the full trade description which the Minister by regulation may prescribe? It might cover the whole article, and possibly children at table might learn their alphabet from it. What protection will the consumer get in this case? The man who sells these articles in Melbourne is not taken in with what he buys. He is the importer. He imports these goods from abroad in bulk, with a correct trade description attached, and then breaks up the bulk and sells the articles in detail, under any description he pleases, to persons like Senator Best.
– What about the case which I quoted last night, of the company that imported condensed milk, and was fined for selling it?
– Would this Bill help the honorable senator in reference to such a case as that? It would not prohibit the milk from being brought into the country. The honorable senator himself said that it was good, wholesome stuff when used in a certain way, though not when used for infant food. There is nothing whatever in this Bill to interfere with the importation of such an article.
– It was not milk, and therefore was not food of the quality demanded.
– It does not matter whether it was milk or not. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent its importation.
– It should be properly described.
– So it could be. If there is to be milk of that kind imported and sold at a lower rate than a higher class article, that stuff will find purchasers as long as the State laws allow it to be sold ; and nothing in this Bill is going to stop it. I will take a few of the articles which have been referred to in the course of the debate, as to which the consumer ought, it is said, to be protected. Take, first, the case of adulterated leather. It has been said that a great deal of shoddy leather has been imported into Australia, and that a great deal has been exported. Both statements are correct. Recently samples of very wretched stuff which had been imported into Australia have been exhibited in the precincts of Parliament House. It was nothing better than brown paper. But there is nothing in this Bill to prevent its importation, and nothing to prevent its being made up into boots which could be sold to_ the public as leather boots. All that it would be necessary for the importers to do, would be correctly to describe the stuff for what it really was at the Customs. So that, for the few minutes while it was passing through the Customs, that shoddy leather would bear an honest appearance. But as soon as that was done, what would happen? It goes into the hands of the manufacturer, arid is afterwards sold to the consumer. There is nothing in this Bill to stop it. Now take tobacco. Senator Pearce referred to an answer to a question put by Senator Pulsford, which illustrated the fact that some rather curious ingredients were apparently employed by the tobacco manufacturers of this country. The revelations were enough to make a less hardened smoker than myself pause and consider his ways. But there is nothing in this Bill to prevent that stuff from being sold as good tobacco. Suppose that alleged tobacco, made of the most rubbishy stuff that one can imagine, comes to the Custom House and is correctly described. It comes in, not in individual tins and cakes, but in bulk, and is afterwards made up and sold anyhow the importers like. It is there that the deception on the public is practised, not at the Customs-house, where the importer knows very well what he is doing. He is not taken in ; he is the one man who is well able to look after himself. There is a case before the Law Courts at the present time which supports my contention. The evidence has disclosed that the ingredients used in the manufacture of certain pills are brought out to Australia in barrels of considerable size. The pills are put up and bottled here. The ingredients may be of the most injurious character you like, but if they are properly described they may pass the Customs. After they have been honestly described there, they leave the control of the Customs officers’, and there is nothing to prevent their being circulated and sold to the public. What protection does this Bill give to the consumer there? Take wine. Senator Pearce referred to the fact that Australian wine was exported in bulk to Great Britain or France, matured - probably blended - and sent back to Australia again. There is nothing in this Bill to stop that. The thing can go oni just as merrily as ever. All the Bill says is that, if the wine comes back to Australia, the country of origin must be described. Is it supposed by the framers of this Bill that it is possible to earmark wine that goes out of Australia in a cask and comes back im a bottle? While I can see no protection to the consumer in this Bill, I can, however, see a considerable amount of protection to the manufacturer. And it is just here that I view this Bill with suspicion, in view of the fact that the Government has never given any definite information as to the extent to which it proposes to use the powers contained in clauses 7 and 1:1. The Government has not told us what particular articles it is proposed to bring within the purview of those clauses. In view of that ominous silence - and when the members of the Government are not silent they are speaking with divided tongues - I cannot resist the conclusion that this Bill is being introduced and pushed through with the sole object of securing, not directly, openly, and above board, but far otherwise, an additional measure of protection, and an additional weapon by which the local manufacturer can be assisted at the expense of the importers.
– It is a great crime to assist the local manufacturer, is it not?
– It is a crime if, instead of doing it openly, the Government does it in an under-handed way.
SenatorPlayford. - If we did anything of the sort, we should have to do it by regulation. The Bill cannot work without regulations.
– I have heard of this matter of regulations before, and I know, as every honorable senator learnt before he had been in Parliament six weeks, that when it becomes a question: of dealing with regulations, and the fate of aGovernment is wrapped up in them, members of Parliament stand a great deal. It will never be possible to secure a fair and honest vote on such a thing as a regulation when the fate of a Government hangs upon it.
– What an awful opinion of human nature the honorable senator must have.
– The opinion which I have of human nature is probably no worse than that entertained ‘by the Minister. But we know perfectly well that when an act of a Government is. brought forward for censure, members of Parliament consider not merely the particular question on which they are called upon to vote, but the ultimate effect of their votes. If I were supporting a Government, it would be an idle thing for me to record a vote which might turn: them out of office because they had made some mistake - not, perhaps, in a matter of first-class magnitude - when theresult of so doing might be to bring into office another Government that would be ten times worse than the one which Ihelped to displace. I say that, when Parliament comes to deal with the regulations, we know perfectly well that we shall never be able to get a fair and clear-cut vote upon them. I have not to go very far for an illustration. See what happened in regard to the harvester matter.
– There was no regulation affecting that affair.
– There was a regulation, and the Minister of Trade and Customs acted upon it. There was an act of Ministerial power. The particular point in regard to that matter is, not that the Minister raised the duty; I am taking no exception to that, but that the papers- laid upon the Library table disclosed the fact that a rival in trade, or a number of rivals, entered into communication with the Minister with regard tothe value at which imported harvesters paid duty. It was suggested that a letter should be written, calling upon the importers - the Massey-Harris Company - to show cause why action should not be taken. That letter was never sent. The official papers disclose that no further facts were brought to light, but that the Minister acted upon the information supplied by these trade rivals, without calling upon the importers to explain. I am not saying whether the Minister was right or wrong, or whether the increase of theduty was right or wrong. But I do say that if there is one principle which, more than another, is supposed to bedear to those who speak the AngloSaxontongue, it is that no one shall be condemned before he has been heard. The papersshow that although at first it was intended to send a letter calling upon the MasseyHarris Company to show cause why action should not be taken, that letter wasnever sent, but, instead, the Minister came along and absolutely increased the price for duty purposes. In view of that, I have a right to know what is intended by this Bill. It gives us some justification for suspecting that the same sort of thingwill happen here, and that this Bill will be made the means and the instrument of carrying out without a direct mandate from Parliament an increase of protective duties. I shall have no possible objection to a higher measure of protection being conferred upon this country,if the thing is constitutionally ordered, and Parliament approves of it. But I do object to it being sneaked in. The first protectionist Minister we had in New South Wales, by a slip of the tongue, described protection as being sneaked in like a thief in the night.” We do not want to see protective duties increased in that way. We have a Parliament elected by the vote of the people. If we are to have the protective policy of this country increased, added to, solidified, it ought to be done in the regular constitutional way, and not by means of machinery Bills of this kind, which place it in the power of the Minister to repeat ad infinitum his action in regard to the harvester business. I have just one other matter to refer to, and it is this : One defect of this Bill, to my mind, amounts to an absurdity- Whilst it pretends to protect the consumer, it fails in that it is inapplicable to the Inter-State trade. The very omission to which I have referred, how.ever, strengthens the suspicion which I have previously expressed. It ‘is quite obvious that if the consumer’s interest were held in view, the Inter-State trade would have been brought within the four corners of the Bill. If the Bill had been designed, as we have been told, to protect the consumer, it certainly ought to have included Inter-State traffic. Then the goods would have been followed into the country ; and not only that, but the manufactures of one State would have been followed to the consumers of another State. But the Bill does nothing of the kind ; and that omission. I say, adds to my suspicion that the Bill is intended to be used as a complement to the protective policy of the present Government. It is obvious that the omission of all Inter-State provisions in no sense detracts from the value of the measure, if it is sought to make it a protective one, because the only purpose for which the Bill is useful is at the Customs House, as a measure of protection. It will be inoperative upon the borderline of the several States ; and it is that, again, which makes me view the Bill as being not a measure for the regulation of commerce, not a Bill for securing honest trading and the prevention of fraud, but as primarily intended still further to hamper the importation of goods into this country. Whilst I, as a free-trader, object to that, still, if the opinion of the country is in favour of protection as a policy, I shall accept it; but if we” are to have any further instalment of protection it ought to be as the result of an appeal to the ballot-box by means of which the country can speak through its representatives in the other Chamber and here; and until such a mandate has been given, I consider it to be my duty, and that of every one who holds the views* that I do, to resist as far as parliamentary procedure will allow the placing upon our statute-book pf a measure of this kind, which, while purporting to do one thing, is obviously aimed at another.
– When the honorable senator, who has just resumed his seat, rose, he intimated in his opening remarks that he was going to be at once brief and to the point. I listened to him with a great deal of interest, but I think that in respect of irrelevance he has been more guilty than any other honorable senator who has addressed himself to this motion. I hope to emulate the example of brevity which he set himself if he did not follow it. It is well for us to remember in connexion with the Bill what exactly is the limit of our legislative authority. We have no jurisdiction over matters which might possibly come within the purview of provisions of this kind, except they be the subjects of either external commerce or Inter-State trade and commerce. It appears to me that the main burden of the criticism which has been levelled against the Bill by Senator Millen and other honorable senators opposite, as well as by those in another place, and outside, who are opposed to its enactment, may be summed up in four statements. First, that the Bill does not protect the consumer as is claimed to be one of its objects ; secondly, that it is not similar to the English Act; thirdly, that the branding or marking of goods under its provisions is not optional; and, fourthly, that its more important provisions are vague and indefinite. This Parliament has no legislative authority over the method or mode of the manufacture of goods in the Commonwealth. The moment that goods become the subject of external or Inter-State commerce, the jurisdiction of this Parliament arises. As soon as goods are, so to speak, incorporated in the general body of property in a State, our legislative authority over them ceases completely, and that of the State arises. So fas then, as the protection of our consumer is concerned, we can do nothing further than affect imports by our legislation, but once the goods have passed beyond the barrier of the Customs, and have become part and parcel of the general stock of property in a State, the legislative authority of this Parliament absolutely ceases, and it cannot prescribe that those goods in passing between two residents of the State shall bear any particular brand which we may, either by legislation or regulation thereunder, prescribe.
– Does any one affirm the contrary?
– No; but the whole burden of the complaint against the Bill - that it does not protect the consumer - has been based on that alleged defect.
– -The honorable senator has just pointed out to Senator Best that he could not have the handkerchiefs or the serviettes or the collars labelled in every individual instance.
– We can prescribe that the packages shall bear certain brands when they are passing from the trader abroad into the hands, of the trader in this community, who may be either a wholesale trader, or both a wholesale and retail trader. But so far as distribution amongst the general body of the public here is concerned, it is the duty of the State to supplement our legislation.
– The Minister cannot say that we can protect the consumer then?
– We cannot absolutely do that.
– Then do not say that we can.
– So far as the limit of our legislative authority goes, we do everything in our power to protect the consumer.
– It does not go very far.
– That is not our fault. Surely the honorable senator does not object to the Bill because it does not go far enough in that direction. If he does, let him use his well-known influence in connexion with the State Parliament to supplement our legislation, and let other honorable senators opposite who criticise the Bill because it is defective in that respect follow his example, and then they will get all they profess to desire, and all that we do desire in. that regard. We are told that the Bill is not similar to the English Act. It is not similar to that Act in every respect; it is an improvement on that Act, and is based on the experience which the English, and Australian public have gone through since it was enacted. As honorable senators know, the main Act in the Imperial statute-book dates back as far as 1862, and then we have the Act of 1887. When Senator Millen rose with a large volume in his hand I was quite prepared to hear a very lengthy and ex haustive criticism of the Bill in contrast: with the provisions of that English Act. What do we find? We are told that theBilll goes further than the English Act by making provision in regard to trade descriptions which do not appear therein. Kerly is, I suppose, the highest standard, authority as a text-book writer on the subject of trade marks. At page 570 of thesecond edition of his work on trade marks he deads with the term “ trade description,”” and a note on his commentary on the sections of the Merchandise Marks Act dealing with “trade descriptions” has a. particular significance in respect to an interjection made by my honorable colleagueto the effect that many English Acts had to be considered in this regard, and not one. Kerly says -
Adulteration, or the sale of goods not of tlienature or quality demanded, or pretended, is. made a criminal offence by other statutes in. many special instances.
The reason why it does not come into the English Merchandise Marks A~ct is because it is dealt with in so many other Statutes. We have no provisions on this subject, except in the Customs Act, to which I shall refer directly. Kerly goes on to say -
By far the most important of these statutes, are the sale of Food and Drugs Acts, 1875, 1879, an£l ‘899, by which it is an offence to mix injurious ingredients with any article of food, or any drug, with intent that the same may besold, or to sell the article of food or drug somixed ; to sell articles of food or drugs not of the nature, substance, and quality demanded by the purchaser; to abstract from an article of food, with intent that the same may be sold without notice, any part of it so as injuriously to. affect its quality, substance, or nature, or to sell (without notice) the article so altered, and to ‘import margarine and other foods insufficiently described upon their containers. For cases under these Acts, see the Law ReportsDigest, Adulteration.
He enumerates a number of Statutes - for instance, a Statute dealing with bread, a Statute dealing with tea, a Statute dealingwith coffee, a Statute dealing with beer, a. Statute dealing with seeds, a Statute dealing with agricultural fertilizers, a Statute dealing with feed stuffs, and the Margarine Act. When there is Imperial legislation! dealing specifically with all these cases,, obviously it is not necessary that the definition of “ trade description “ should be as. comprehensive in their Merchandise Marks: Act as is necessary in a Bill which, so far as we are concerned, proposes to deal once for all with the subject. It is urged that itis not optional in the measure to take ad- vantage of the provisions for marking and branding in contrast with the provisions in the English Act. Honorable senators opposite would have the Senate believe that, so far as the English Jaw is concerned, a man is punishable only for (riving .a false trade description upon the goods.
– I said nothing to lead to that view.
– That it is not. punishable to have a false trade description unless it is under the Merchandise Marks Act.
– Is the Minister supposed to be quoting what I said?
– I am quoting the effect of the contention ot nearly every honorable senator opposite.
– Nothing of the kind. The statement made on this side :was that it was not compulsory for a man to put a mark upon his goods, but that if he did, it would have to be an honest one.
– The object of the contention of honorable senators was to influence the mind of the Senate in the direction that the English Act makes it punishable for a man to put a false trade description on goods only in the way in which the Merchandise Marks Act on its face clearly contemplated. As I interjected to the honorable senator at the time, it is not absolutely necessary, in order to get the proper interpretation of the scope and value of that Act, to confine one’s self to the words of it, and he replied to me, “ Oh, a lawyer can practically get any interpretation out of an Act. There is no brief on the Act.” There was a case decided recently, in which, without any mark being on the goods, a conviction was sustained under the Merchandise Marks Act.
– The mark was vised in the invoice.
– The mark was used in the invoice, but not on the goods. In Co-p-pen v. Moore, L.R., 2 Q.B.D., 300, it was held -
The provisions of section 2, sub-section 2, of the Merchandise Marks Act 1887, which make it an offence to sell goods to which a false trade description is applied, do not apply where the description is entirely oral.
The respondent asked a salesman in the appellant’s shop for a small English ham; the salesman pointed to some American hams on a shelf, and said, “These are Scotch hams”; the respondent chose one, which was weighed, and an invoice which did not contain the word “ Scotch “ was handed to the respondent by another assistant. The respondent told the assistant to put the word “ Scotch “ on the in voice, as he had bought the ham as such; the assistant did so,’ and handed the invoice to the respondent, who then paid the amount.
It was held that the description in the invoice was a false trade description, sufficient to satisfy the terms of the Statute - that is the Merchandise Marks Act - and the man was convicted. It shows the extensive interpretation to which the provisions of the Act lend themselves when they can be applied to the facts of concrete cases.
– Section 17 of the Act distinctly provides that a document in connexion with goods must contain a true description.
– Exactly ; but in this case the man was not charged under that section.
– The invoice set out that it was a Scotch ham.
– The decision does not rest on that section. If the honorable senator will read the decision he will find that it does not rest on that section, that it is a sufficient conviction within the provisions of sub-section 2 of section 2 of the Act, and that is where the value and importance of the decision lies in interpreting that particular provision.
– The other section is not brought into the decision.
– The other section is not brought into the argument or the decision.
– I do not care whether it is brought into the argument or not.
– Surely no one knows better than Senator Drake that if a Statute creates half-a-dozen different offences, and proceedings are taken tinder one section, and a conviction is obtained and appealed against, it is impossible to ask that it shall be sustained because another sectionunder which proceedings were not taken constitutes the facts, as shown in the prosecution, an offence. He cannot rely on that section.
– Was it a prosecution on behalf of the Government?
– No; it was a prosecution by John Moore, an inspector of the Bacon Curers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland.
– Can the Minister give an instance of a prosecution by the Government ?
– I am not dealing with that point at all. I am simply showing that the Act has not the narrow signi- fication and scope which honorable senators opposite would have us believe when after instituting a comparison they say that this Bill is too wide and extensive.
– Last night the Minister distinctly declared over and over again that the Government had prosecuted parties for selling York hams. Has he any decision on that subject?
– No ; I only know that the honorable senator dealt rather extensively with the subject. I had not the pleasure or the profit of being here at the time, but he can have all these particulars during the courseof the passage of the Bill if he desires to have them. We are told that the Bill, in its main provisions, is very vague, and Senator Millen has referred to clause 7, to which he says all speakers have evaded1 making any reference. The clause is necessarily wide. It is as elastic as possible, and for very obvious reasons. It says -
The regulations may prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any specified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner, as is prescribed.
The clause goes on to provide that, subject to regulations - the Comptroller-General, or on appeal from him the Minister, may in any case, and if in his opinion, the contravention has not occurred either knowingly or negligently, shall permit any goods which are liable to be or have been seized as forfeited under this section to be delivered to the owner or importer upon security being given to the satisfaction of the ComptrollerGeneral that the prescribed trade description will be applied to the goods, or that they will be forthwith exported
It is contended by honorable senators who oppose this provision, that it is too extensive, and not sufficiently explicit. But if honorable senators refer to clause 15 they will see there provided that clauses 7 and 11 shall not apply to any goods other than -
It will be seen that clauses 7 and 11 extend, in the main, to articles whichmay injuriously affect the health of indivi- duals,and the Minister has power by regulation to prohibit their importation or introduction into Australia unless they bear a trade description. It is highly important, particularly in relation to food and medicines, that the health of the community should, as far as possible, be guarded against the danger towhich it may be exposed owing to the avarice or greed of those engaged in trade.
– Are the people not safeguarded already by the States laws ?
– The Public Health Acts of the States do something in that direction, but the Commonwealth may assist by prohibiting, in the first instance, the importation of deleterious food-stuffs or medicines, or classes of clothing and apparel which mayaffect the health of the community.
– The Bill will not stop such importations.
– We are endeavouring to stop them.
– The greatest rubbish can be brought in if it be properly described.
-Then let us have it properly described. The development of trade operations, not only in England and Australia, but all over the world, has, for some time, disclosed great scandals. I have here the last number of the National Review, which contains an article by Dr. Adderley, a Bishop of the Established Church of England, on the subject of “ Clergy and Commercial Morality.”
– I doubt whether a clergyman knows anything about the subject.
– The author of the article has the modesty to admit that he may be open to the soft impeachment of knowing very little of the subject; but he, at the same time, states that he has taken the fullest possible precautions against being misled. He makes himself responsible for only three different classes of statements, namely, those made publicly, and more or less admitted; those made to him by individuals on whom he can thoroughly rely ; and a third class the designation of which has escaped my memory for the moment. He deals with various complaints, and goes on to say : -
The greatest indictment of modern commerce came from Mr. Herbert Spencer in his “ Morals of Trade,” an essay published in pamphlet form, together with a sermon by the late Canon Lyttleton on 11 Sins of Trade and Business,” but now out of print. Two sentences from this pamphlet will be enough for our purpose.
I do not say that 1 indorse the whole of what is stated by the writer of the article, but when a gentleman occupying this high position, publishes an article of the kind in a production like the National Review, there must be very grave cause for the criticism. The article proceeds: -
It has been said that the law of the animal creation is, “ Eat and be eaten “ ; and of our trading community it may be similarly said that its law is, “ Cheat and be cheated.” A system of keen competition, carried on, as it is, without adequate moral restraint, is very much a system of commercial cannibalism. Its alternatives are “ Use the same weapons as your antagonist, or be conquered and devoured.” It is not true, as many suppose, that only the lower classes of the commercial world are guilty of fraudulent dealing; those above them are to a great extent blameworthy. On the average, men who deal in bales and tons differ but little in morality from men who deal in yards and pounds. Illicit practices of every form and shade, from venial deception up to all but direct theft, may be brought home to the higher grades of our commercial world. Tricks innumerable, lies acted or uttered, elaborately devised frauds, are prevalent - many of them established as “ customs of the trade,” nay, not only established, but defended.
Now for the grocery trade. One person who likes is. 8d. tea says that he expected the reduction of tea duty would benefit him. But, apparently, he gets the same tea as before, and pays as much, being told (hat the grocer is out of the old quality, and can only supply a better kind at is. 8d., which used to be is. lod. A grocer’s assistant tells us that he had to turn out large tubs of the same butter, and put is. tickets on one half, and is. 4d. on the other. Currants, he says, were sold at three’ prices. A man employed by a wealthy grocer in the country had orders for is. butter, which he supplied with margarine at 8d., without a label. “ My attitude,” he says, “ towards this practice resulted in my having a week’s notice.” A “ manager “ says he had to ask two prices for is. butter, the same for sugar, and three prices for tea, if possible. This he was forced to do to make his stock account show a profit.
The writer then goes on to deal with the milk trade and various other trades.
An iron and brass founder writes to me : “ The contention of the bishop is practically true. The picture is not painted bad enough. Trade is only another name for theft. I have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely impossible to be a business man, and at the same time a Christian.”
– Surely the Minister does not believe that?
– I have said that I do not indorse everything said in the article, but when a man of the attainments, experience, and character of the writer thinks it incumbent upon him to publish utterances of the kind there must be grave causes for his action. The article goes on : -
Now for more grocery frauds. Vinegar is watered, although even pure vinegar can be sold at an enormous profit. . . .
To sum up, one is struck by the ominous silence of some trades when accusations like these are made in public. No doubt many traders can defend themselves easily and truthfully. But others apparently cannot. We clergy are supposed to want to get at the dishonest trader in order to brand him. This is not the case. It is the honest ones we desire to exhibit in our crusade. We are convinced that there are enough honest traders and honest customers in this country to make falsehood impossible in business.
This Bill is for the protection of honest traders, who are the majority of those engaged in business enterprise. The desire is to prevent the dishonest trader injuring the health or prosperity of the community. Honorable senators contend that the Bill does not meet cases of the kind to which I have just referred; but I point to the article in the National Review in order that they may realize the ingenuity and resourcefulness which characterize different traders in perpetrating fraud.
– These things have been going on for a thousand years.
– We know they have. If the honorable senator will refer to some of the ancient records of the time when it was proposed to make highway robbery an offence, he will doubtless find that there were people who justified it, on the ground that it had been carried on for years. Highway robbery, however, has been stopped; and there never was an offence proposed to be made punishable that some people were not retrograde enough to defend on the ground that it had been perpetrated for years. The article from which I quoted spoke of frauds which have not only become established as customs, but are actually as such defended. Surely Senator Gray would not defend tricks which amount to fraud simply because they have been perpetrated for years? The object of the Bill is to prevent such tricks so far as our legislation can prevent them. It is necessary in many respects for this Bill to differ from the English Act, owing to the experience under the administration of that Act. That Act was passed in 1887, and since then inquiries and articles have revealed many evils not provided for by legislation. Senator Millen would have us confine the Bill to clauses 5, 9, and 13. I pointed out by way of interjection that, although there are almost the same powers under the Customs Act as are proposed to be given the Minister under the Bill, an essential difference is that, whereas the Customs Act only prohibits the importation of certain classes of goods, the Bill goes one step further, and provides that those responsible for the endeavour to import such goods shall be guilty of an offence, and liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty in addition to the forfeiture of the goods. Clause 5 provides for the inspection of imports and exports, and empowers an inspector to examine, take samples, and for these purposes to enter a ship, and so forth. Clause g provides that no person shall import any goods to which a false trade description is applied under a penalty of £100, and want of knowledge is made a defence. Then so far as clause 13 is concerned there is provision made.
– The honorable senator will pardon me, clause 12 is the corresponding clause to clause 9.
– Clause 12 provides that -
No person shall -
These are the only provisions of the Bill to which Senator Millen says he is ready to subscribe. They would still leave us with a very limited definition of a false trade description. It is essential that we should provide that the term “ trade description “ shall cover as far as possible everything which might come within some of these tricks or fraudulent practices to which reference is made in that article, and of which we have had experience here and elsewhere. I say so, because I think, and honorable senators will agree with me, that the ingenuity of those who are engaged in trade, if they wish to be criminal - as certainly only a minority of them do, to the great prejudice of their fellow-traders - is unbounded. For that reason we musthave very elastic provisions. We must be prepared to meet any case that may arise. We must be prepared to meet the case of dishonest practices arising here and now, even though Parliament might not be ready to sit for another six months. Otherwise the evil willgo unchecked. It is for this reason that extensive powers are given to the Minister by this Bill, under regulation to prescribe that certain classes of goods coming only within those referred to in clause 15shall not be imported unless they bear a certain description. It may be that foods for infants or invalids are being imported, and it may suddenly be discovered that a classof these goods is being introduced containing very deleterious ingredients, which may seriously affect the health and may endanger the lives of the people who ultimately consume them.
– What better means are provided under this Bill to prevent that than the action which at the present time the States can put into operation.
– We have the means to take steps antecedent to what the States Governments may do.
– By preventing thegoods from coming into the Commonwealth. As I have pointed out, if Senator Gray had done me the courtesy to listen to my opening remarks, once goods are brought into the Commonwealth and get into the general body of the property of a State, our jurisdiction with respect to them ceases. It will then be for the Stateauthorities, if it is thought desirable, to. prevent those goods passing from seller to purchaser. Our jurisdiction is applied to goods entering the Commonwealth from abroad, or being sent from Australia’ abroad, or from one State of Australia to another. I intended to make some littlereference to the opinion quoted from the Attorney-General of New South Wales. By interjection last night, I asked some honorable senator, who was speaking in regard to that opinion, whether Mr. Wade at the time he gaveit had read the Bill. After carefully perusing his opinion, I am inclined to think that I should be doing Mr. Wade a greater act of justice if I were to assume that he had not read the Bill when he gave his first opinion. I am not referring now to the views he expressed in an interview with the representative of one of the Sydney newspapers, in which he replied to some of Mr. Bavin’s criticisms of his opinion. If any honorable senator will read the opinion first given by Mr. Wade, and then that reply to Mr. Bavin’s criticism of that opinion, he will see that the ground Mr. Wade took up on the two occasions was entirely distinct. From the views he expressed on the second occasion, it would seem that he had perused the Bill, at any rate, with some more care, and he carefully avoided dealing with the main principles of his first criticism. However, Senator Best dealt very effectively with the main contentions raised by Mr. Wade in the first instance. The honorable senator has pointed out that Mr. Wade assumed that we were legislating with respect to the conditions under which goods should be manufactured. Nothing is further -from the object of this Bill. There is not a. line in it which would suggest for a moment that it is conceived that the Federal Parliament has any jurisdiction whatever to legislate with regard to the mode of manufacture or production of goods. We claim only the jurisdiction which we have under the Constitution to prescribe conditions regarding, importation, exportation, or Inter-State transfer of goods. We could undoubtedly make the conditions which we prescribe with regard to these three matters relate to matters antecedent to the actual transport of the goods. That is, to matters connected with their manufacture or production. We all know that it is very desirable that in this regard throughout all the States there should be some uniformity of principle. If the Federal Parliament is not going to legislate upon this matter, what uniformity can we expect from the States? Reference has been made during the course of the debate to the Tasmanian Act, but I do not intend to dwell upon that at length. However, I have here an extract from reports appearing in the Hobart Mercury of 27 th September, 1901, of the debate on the Exported Products Bill, in Committee of the Tasmanian Assembly. If honorable senators will peruse these reports they will see that at the time this matter was before the Tasmanian Parliament the subject of fruit in its relation to the Bill was very fully discussed. And there was some doubt expressed as to the desirableness of the application of the provisions of the Bill in all their strictness to fruit.
– Hear, hear.
– But honorable senators, opposite would have us believe that fruit should not be made a matter dealt with by this Bill at all. I think that the great majority of those who spoke upon the subject in the Tasmanian Parliament, so far as I can gather from the reports - and we must assume that they were armed with a good deal of information collected at the time - spoke in favour of the Bill being applied to fruit. Im fact, it might almost be assumed from the report of the debate that the Bill was expressly intended to apply to fruit above all other products. Reference has been made to the Merchandise Marks Act. We have been told that this Bill does not follow that Act, that it is more comprehensive, and that we should adhere to the provisions of that Act. I point out that, although we provide pen allies in this Bill, as I said before, to supplement the legislation embodied in ‘the Customs Act, they are not, comparatively speaking, very heavy. As honorable senators will see, they run up to a. maximum fine of £100. The Merchandise Marks Act, on the other hand, in the case of the application of false trade descriptions, which admittedly are of less importance than some of the trade descriptions under this Bill, prescribes penalties the maximum of which is two years’ imprisonment. There is no provision for imprisonment in this Bill. If, when honorable senators ask us to adhere to the Merchandise Marks Act, and to confine our definition of a trade description to what was considered “adequate eighteen years a,go, we might not unfairly ask. them if they desire us to adhere to that Act, to assist us in making the provision for penalties in: this Bill much more severe than those proposed.
– The Bill is to he read with a Customs Act, and that gives a power of imprisonment.
– Not in regard to these particular matters. In. the Customs Act, section 52 deals with prohibited imports, and in section 56 it is provided that the power of prohibiting importation of goods shall authorize prohibition, subject to any specified condition or restriction ; but in those sections we do not provide for penalties. In this Bill the attempt to import goods knowingly to the injury of the health or prosperity of the community, in contravention of this measure, is made a penal offence so far as the individual is concerned, and he is liable to a penalty running tip to £100. In the Act to which honorable senators opposite seem to be so devotedly attached, the penalty for doing what they recognise is a much- less serious offence ma”y be two years’ imprisonment. I hope that honorable members will cease to complain; of this Bill as not going far enough. It goes as far as we can possibly go within the limits of our constitutional jurisdiction.
– No; it t might be extended to Inter-State commerce.
– That is so; but there is a very palpable reason why we have not at this juncture submitted a Bill which would apply to Inter State commerce.
– I think I stated that.
-The honorable senator did. So far as State trade is concerned, it is impossible to apply this Bill to goods manufactured in or .the production of any State. So far as the goods which come within the purview of this Bill are concerned, they will be goods which come from or are going abroad. They will l>e dealt with once when they come into the Commonwealth, and, having passed into a State, they wall have run the gauntlet of our jurisdiction, and may pass from State to State. There might be a class of goods produced or manufactured in the State which might be the subject of Inter-State commerce’. So far as those are concerned, in connexion with their manufacture and production, the States Parliaments have the fullest legislative authority at the present time. I take it that if the States legislative authority is exercised in that direction, in conformity with the principle of this Bill, there will never be any necessity for Federal interference in that regard. If, on the other hand, the legislative authority of the States is not exercised, or is -not exercised in all the States, or uniformly, or conformably with the requirements of the people of the whole Commonwealth, there will be a just cause for the Commonwealth Parliament to supplement the legislation at present proposed by the passing of an amending measure to make the provisions! of this Bill apply to Inter-State as well as to external commerce. I hope that the Bill will pass its’ second reading, and will be mad’e as perfect as possible in the Committee of the Senate.
– I have listened with considerable interest to many of the speeches made on this Bill.
Although I am not strictly a commercial man, I am beginning to understand rather more of the subject than I did at first. I understand now that this Bill is really introduced on account of the revelations of the Butter Commission that sat in Victoria. It appears to me that perhaps the proper name for a Bill of this kind would be “ Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill,” instead of what it is called - “ Commerce Bill.” I see that it is to be incorporated and read as one with the Customs Act of 1901. It may, therefore, be considered aa am addition to the Customs Act. I fear that this is another instance of over-legislation. Unfortunately, during the last year or two Australia has earned a somewhat uncomplimentary character from the nature of the legislation which we have passed1. I fear that not a few will consider that we are really filling up the cup of legislative iniquity by proposing to pass some of the meddlesome, inquisitorial, and arbitrary clauses of this Bill. I mention particularly clauses 5, 6, 7, 11, and 14. It seems to me that in all these clauses there is much with which fault oan be found in the interests of freedom of trade. It was observed by Senator Gray that under this Bill opportunities would present themselves to officials for dabbling in what might be called blackmailing. I fear there can be no doubt about that. A dishonest trader may think it worth his while to contrive that officials who. have to examine his exports or imports may become sufficiently blind to let things pass. The Minister under this Bill ought to be an Admirable Crichton. Unfortunately, very few Ministers are. Also, unfortunately, it is quite possible that we might have a Minister administering this Bill who will be the very embodiment of crass stupidity and pig-headedness. Some of us have a very clear recollection of the passing of the Customs Act, and the manner in which it was for a time administered!. Those of us who live in New South Wales will never forget the consternation created by the extraordinary manner in which that Act was at first administered. My honorable friend, Senator Givens, spoke very vigorously last night with regard to this measure. He adorned his remarks by making a quotation from Heinrich Heine, a gentleman whom he called “ Héeney.’ I began to wonder whether the honorable senator was about to quote an Irishman ; but when my honorable friend called this man a moral philosopher, I wondered whether he knew that morality certainly was not a strong point in Heine’s life. He was certainly a lyric poet, a critic, and’ a satirist, but as for being a “ moral philosopher,” that he certainly was not. This man had the audacity to imagine that Mercury - or Hermes, as we used to call him, and whom we always considered to be the messenger of the gods - was practically a thief, or, as he put it, assumed the garb of a merchant. It was represented that a merchant was a sort of glorified thief. While going along Collins-street today, my attention was directed to a statue of Mercury over the office of a leading newspaper, and I began to wonder whether that journal chose the emblem of Mercury on account of his being the messenger of the gods, or because he was described as the prince of thieves.
– What newspaper was that?
– I believe it is called the Age. I began to wonder whether that was a newspaper that stole the reputation of people; whether it reported speeches properly; and there was brought to my mind a certain occasion when an action was brought-
– Does the honorable senator think that is relevant?
– Well, the debate has not been so lively that we may not have a little pleasantry about the matter. Reference has been made to Mr. Wade,, the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales. It must be remembered that honorable senators from New South Wales represent a population equal to three-eighths of the whole population of the Commonwealth - 1,500,000 out of 4,000,000.
– We do not want a second edition of Carruthers.
– Honorable senators should speak respectfully of a man like the Attorney-General of New South Wales, who has taken the trouble to go through the Bill and has pointed out the objections that he sees in it. I need not repeat what Senator Gould and Senator Pulsford have said as to Mr. Wade’s opinion. It has often been said that it is not possible to make people honest by Act of Parliament. I certainly do not think that this Bill will make people honest. Judging from his very forcible remarks, I should say that Senator Givens would make an admirable “ hanging Judge.” From the awful way in which he spoke of every little offence which might be committed, he reminded me of the play in which the principal character shouts “ Off with his head !” With Senator Givens, if any man does anything wrong, it is a case of “ Off with his head.” He reminded me of Judge Jeffries, who was not, I think, very much troubled by a conscience. In business, it is a well-known fact that the buyer is supposed to look after his own interests. Is not that idea expressed in the old phrase, Caveat emptor? But apparently that principle is to be set aside by this Bill. I think the proper way to treat it would be to negative the motion for the second reading, and to carry an amendment that the measure be read a second time this day six months. I do not profess to be very well up in the parliamentary forms, but if another honorable senator will move to that effect I shall have much pleasure in voting with him.
– The intention of this Bill is to apply the principles of the British Merchandise Marks Act to imports and exports. That fact may give us an idea of about the time when the Bill was drafted. I do not know when it was, but the Minister has informed us that the draft was found in the pigeonhole of the Department. He went further, and spoke of it as not having received the final revision of the late Government, That expression - not having received final revision - implies that it had been adopted by the Government up to a certain point. But, as a matter of fact, it never received the approval of the late Government at all. It was never in any sense a Government measure, and the first. time I heard of it was when it was introduced here. But I believe that even the draft has undergone some alteration. In any case, even if it had been adopted by the previous Government, it would hardly become a member of the present Government to deprecate criticism of the Bill on the ground that it was prepared by his predecessors.
– We do not ; we take the full responsibility on our own shoulders.
– I intend to express my own opinion of it. I believe that while it contains some good provisions, it also contains others that are very dangerous. When the Bill which was afterwards called the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill was under discussion here, a proposal was made to extend its provisions to imports, and was rejected. I think it is not improbable that it was from that circumstance that a Bill was drafted making the principles of the Merchandise Marks Act applicable to imports and exports. The Merchandise Marks Bill, introduced in the Senate, was practically a transcript, made applicable to our circumstances, of the British Merchandise Marks Act, and the expression that was used for a mark put upon goods was “ False trade description.” Some doubt was raised as to whether it was competent for us, under our Constitution, to pass such a Bill-. I, my_self , raised the question, and expressed considerable doubt as to our power. The Ministry which preceded the last Government, that headed by Mr. Watson, brought forward the Bill again, but changed the title from Merchandise Marks Bill to Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, and called a “ false description,” a “ trade mark.” They contended that, having changed “ false description “ into “trade mark,” they had brought the measure within our constitutional powers. It appeared to me, however, to be almost an absurdity to suppose that, having only a certain limited power under the Constitution, we could’, by calling a thing by another name, extend our power. If that argument be correct, and the term “ false description “ in this Commerce Bill, which is also derived from the Merchandise Marks Bill, were changed to “trade mark,” then by exactly the same reasoning, “the argument of Senator Keating with regard to our limited jurisdiction would be destroyed. He said distinctly that, in his opinion, under the Constitution, we could only in this measure apply the principles of the Merchandise Marks Act to external commerce. He admitted afterwards that it might, perhaps, be applicable to commerce between State and State, but he said that it would not be applicable to commerce within a State; and, therefore, manufactures would not be touched. If the argument was right that it was possible to touch manufactures in the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, which was a copy of the Merchandise Marks Act, then Parliament. would actually take power to interfere with trade within a State. The trading operations that go on in a shop in Bourke-street could be affected by an Act of this Parliament, which, I think, would be entirely wrong. And bv calling “ false description “ in this Bill, “trade mark,” Ministers could take the power to interfere with trade within a State. If one thing is correct, the other must be, because it was only by altering the term “false description” to “trade mark,” and the title from Merchandise Marks Bill to Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, that it was contended we could legislate as Parliament has done up to a certain point in connexion with a measure which has not yet been passed. Senator Keating has also .said that the principles of the Merchandise Marks Act have been extended by judicial decision. 1 think the honorable senator was incorrect. The case affecting the York hams, that was mentioned by Senator Gray, was one that was quoted by myself when the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill was going through. The decision in that case is very clear. It affects the sub-section 2 of section 2 of the Merchandise Marks Act, which creates the offence. The other section referred to, in which mention is made of the invoice, has nothing to do with the offence. The offence is created in the second section, and the fifth section describes the circumstances under which a trade mark shall be held to be applied to goods - that is, when it is put upon or wrapped round, or in any way attached to goods, or annexed to them ; The case referred to came under the provisions of sub-section 2 of section 2 - and* not section 5 - and it was held that the description in the invoice was a false trade description sufficient to satisfy the Statute. Of course section 5 made it an offence under the second section, so that I think there has been no extension of the provisions of the Act. I take the same position with regard to this Bill as I took with regard to the Fraudulent Marks Bill, and that is that Ave should not go further than to insist that when a trade description is put upon goods it shall be a truthful one. We are asked to go a very long step beyond that, and how far we are going, when we give power to a Minister to insist that a certain description shall be put upon all goods, it is difficult to say. Let me first show how in the case of exports it may operate. It is evident that even Ministers are -really not aware of what is the scope of the Bill. Not one of them seems to be able to say exactly what would be the extent of the power of the Minister in making regulations thereunder. The provisions are very vague, and in introducing the measure, Senator Playford told us again and again, “ we may do this “ or “ we may do that” “perhaps we shall not do this,” or “perhaps we shall do that.” That is not a very satisfactory attitude for a Minister to take up in asking the Senate to pass a Bill which undoubtedly will give very great powers. Take the case of the exportation of butter. If I understand the Minister correctly, the Bill will operate very differently in different States, and that is why the representatives of the States do not stand exactly on the same footing. Victoria has legislation on this subject. If I am correctly informed, the grading is entirely voluntary, not compulsory. There is a certain system of grading, and certain marks for the various grades. The Minister says: “We shall accept them as they are.” That is to say, there will be first class, second class, and so on, according to the practice which Has hitherto obtained here.
– We shall accept the State certificates.
– The honorable sen.atm, if I understood him correctly, also said that there is to be a uniform system throughout Australia.
– We are trying to aim at a uniform system, but we shall not be able to get it all at once.
– In this Bill, the Government are taking power to compel the exporters in other States to adopt a system which is going to be uniform throughout Australia, and the marks which are “already adopted in Victoria are to Be adopted by the Commonwealth Government. It would seem that in the action which they are taking to obtain uniformity they will have to compel the other States to come Into line with Victoria. That will be no hardship to the Victorians or the .South Australians, because the larger the volume of exports branded in the same way the greater will be the advantage to them. ‘But it seems to me that a hardship will be inflicted in the’ case of the States in which there has been no grading or branding done.
– In Queensland, it is compulsory.
– What marks have they in that State?
– I do not say that they are exactly similar, but for exportation branding is compulsory.
– There cannot be any uniformity if each State has a different system.
– I do not think they have.
– In Victoria the system is optional, and it has not been universally adopted. If the system is to be made uniform it must be made compulsory all round. Is it desirable to insist upon all producers of an article branding their goods in the same way so as to indicate the quality of them? Why should not a cooperative dairy export their goods under their own brand if they choose?
– I do not think we should prevent them.
– I still do not understand the Bill, ‘because it appears to me that it empowers the Minister to insist upon butter being graded and marked uniformly throughout the States.
– Yes; but the question whether we should exercise the power is another thing.
– That is, I think, rather an objectionable way of legislating.
– Could not they have a private mark in addition to the Government mark?
– I think they could, but a man might wish to continue to export his butter, in exactly the same form as previously, without the addition of another mark. This is not a matter of protecting the honest against the dishonest trader, or penalizing a trader who is dishonest, because there is no doubt that in a great many cases the goods which have been exported to the English market under certain recognised marks have been of a higher quality than similar goods which have been sent after Government inspection. I am not speaking particularly of butter, but I know that there are certain kinds of produce sent to the English market which bear a certain brand, and the quality of which is better than that of any of the articles sent, after Government inspection, and marked as fine or superfine or double superfine. They have built up a reputation by the careful maintenance of a very high standard. Their goods are sold on the market, and bought in preference to goods which bear a Government brand. Therefore there may be cases where the exporter of a really first-class article would be prejudiced by being compelled to put on it a mark which, after all,, would only be an indication of an average quality.
– I do not think we should ever do anything of the sort. We would never try to injure a man who wished to export produce.
– When we are giving great powers to the Government we have to consider, not what they think they will do, but what they may do.
– If they did anything wrong it could only be done for a very short time, because the regulations have to be laid before each House.
– In the meantime the Government might do a lot of mischief. Clause 7 provides that the regulations must be published in the Gazette for three months before they come into operation but there is nothing to prevent them being published in the Gazette when Parliament was not sitting. Some honorable senators seem to think that in consequence of that clause being in the Bill each House will have an opportunity of discussing the regulations. They might have an opportunity if the regulations were issued when Parliament happened to be sitting, but no opportunity would be afforded if they were gazetted during recess.
– The regulations have to be gazetted for three months before they come into operation, and as there is not usually more than a six months’ recess, there should bc no great delay
– But a great deal of mischief might be caused in the meantime.
– How much more mischief might there not be occasioned, if the Bill could not be put into operation before the Parliament met?
– I should like to point out to Senator Keating that if the reasoning that was adopted in regard to the Fradulent Trade Marks Bill was right, we should only require to call a false description as referred to in the Bill before us a trade mark, to enable the Government to make the Bill apply within a State.
– That was never my contention.
– I should now like to consider how this Bill is likely to work in regard to imports. Preserved milk has been mentioned in the course of the discussion, and! I should imagine that Nestles, from the extent of their advertising, have an enormous output and trade connexions with every part of the world. That milk ils made up to a certain quality, and I suppose the people know what the quality is, and buy it for what it is worth. How could the Bill be applied to a trade of that character ? If by regulations we provide that the milk on being imported toAustralia must bear a certain brand, how long would it take the firm to make the necessary changes in order to comply with the requirements of- the Bill? If the Go,vernment claim that under this Bill they may tell manufacturers in any part of the world who dfc) trade with Australia, that they shall not be allowed to send in goods unless they are marked in a certain way, or bear a particular trade description, I think k will be found impossible to comply with the conditions. So far as the Bill applies the principles of the Merchandise Marks Act, and provides that if a mark be used it must be a true one, well and good, but the Bill, as a matter of fact, very unnecessarily goes a great deal further. Then, again, the measure to a great extent does work that could be done bv the States, an’di at this time I do not think it would be advisable to undertake legislation which the; States could just as well administer. There vet remains a good deal of work that is quite within our constitutional powers, and work much more urgent than that represented by this Bill. There is, for instance, the question of quarantine.
– Why did the Government of which the honorable senator was a member, not pass the legislation to which he refers?
– Of the large range of Federal work which then faced us that Government did a great amount.
– The Government which immediately preceded the present Government proposed to do no work.
– Nothing of the kind ; that is a most unkind statement.
– That Government brought down a blank sheet.
– That Government proposed to go to the country, but it had prepared a Government speech, dealing with about twenty different topics.
– Does the honorable senator think he is discussing the Bill ?
– I was drawn away by an interjection. It would.1 be much better for this Parliament to do work which lies undoubtedly within its province, than to deal with a Bill of this kind, which will lead to a great many difficulties, and not improve the relations between States and Commonwealth.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire, by leave of the Senate, to make an explanation regarding the vote I have just given. I had arranged to pair with Senator Clemons, and, as that honorable senator was not present, I should not have .taken part in the division-. However, I was engaged entering pairs in the pair-book, and inadvertently I remained in the Chamber until the doors were closed. However, the majority was large enough to carry the second reading without mv vote, so the result is not affected.
– The Senate fakes no cognizance of pairs.
– We willingly recognise that the honorable senator’s mistake was entirely inadvertent.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro io,ma
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Higgs) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message, intimating agreement with the amendments made by the Senate.
Senate adjourned at 11. 15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051109_senate_2_28/>.