2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
INSTRUCTIONS TO COMMITTEES.
Senator PEARCE. - I desire to ask you, sir, whether you will inform the Senate at what stage an instruction to a Committee can be moved, and also what are the “ matters “ referred to in standing order 316, which reads : -
An instruction empowers a Committee to consider matters not otherwise referred to it.
The PRESIDENT.- Strictly speaking, I ought not to answer hypothetical questions, and ought only to decide points of order as they arise, but I haveno hesitation in answering the first part of the question. An instruction to a Committee is an original motion, of which notice has to be given, and it can be moved before the President leaves the chair after the second reading of the Bill has been passed. It is very difficult to say what instructions can be given to a Committee. I do not know that I am prepared to answer the question. It must be recollected that there are other Committees besides Committees of the whole Senate. Instructions which may be given to Select Committees are quite different in their nature from those which may be given to a Committee of the whole Senate. I have been trying for the last fifteen years to find out what instructions can be given to a Committee on a Sill, and I am not prepared to answer the question. Perhaps, if it be considered historically from the House of Commons point of view, some light may be thrown upon the question. If old editions of May’s Parliamentary Prac tice are referred to, it will be found that it is laid down as the practice of the House of Commons that instructions can be given to a Committee to deal with matters not relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill. That practice has been abandoned, I presume, for very good reasons, and the new practice, which has been referred to often in the Senate, has been initiated. The honorable senator must ask me a more specific question than that before I can give a definite answer.
Senator. PEARCE. - I beg to give notice that, contingent on the consideration of any report of the Standing Orders Committee, I shall move -
That the following new standing order be adopted, viz. : -
In Chapter XXIV., page 114, insert a new Standing Order, 319A, to follow 319, viz. : - “319A. On a Bill to amend an existing Act an
Instruction can be given to a Committee to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, provided that such amendments are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act which it is proposed to amend.”
And in the event of this being agreed to, to add another new standing order, viz. : - “An Instruction to a Committee of the Whole requires notice, and can be moved before going into Committee on any question.”
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD.- Referring to the contingent notice of motion just given by Senator Pearce, I desire to ask you, sir, whether its subject-matter has been referred to and considered by the Standing Orders Committee ?
The PRESIDENT. - I do not think that the honorable and learned senator is in order in asking a question concerning a notice of motion.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to the answer given to a question by Senator Staniforth Smith on 14th November -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
How much has been expended in each of the financial years ending 30th June, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904,1905, in the purchase of (a) New Rifles; (b) Maxim Guns; (c) Field Artillery?
In what proportion have these Rifles, Maxim Guns, and Field Artillery been distributed among the several States of the Commonwealth?
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I would ask the honorable and learned senator to move for a return in this case too.
– Perhaps the Minister will kindly place a return upon the table as early as possible?
– The second part of the question cannot form the subject of a return.
– I shall show that in the return.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 2903) on motion by Senator Givens-
That, in the opinion of this Senate, the refining and wholesale distribution of sugar within the Commonwealth being almost entirely controlled by one large business corporation, constitutes a monopoly which is inimical to the best interests of those engaged in the production of raw sugars, and the citizens of the Commonwealth generally ; and this Senate affirms the desirableness of nationalizing the said monopoly, so as to secure to the people of the Commonwealth the whole of the benefits accruing therefrom.
– This motion is of a character which will, I suppose, provoke a great deal of discussion. The principle underlying the proposal has caused considerable discussion outside the walls of Parliament, and I hope that before this debate is closed it will be opposed on the floor of the Senate, so that the arguments of its opponents may be refuted. I notice that many opponents of Socialism - and it must be admitted that the socialistic principle is involved in this motion - are very bold indeed in the presence of anti-Socialists, and give expression to all kinds of wild statements which bear no resemblance to the truth. Knowing that they are quite safe in the company of their friends they take all kinds of liberty with the subject. I hope that the champions of Individualism will be equally courageous on the floor of the Senate, where advocates of Socialism can meet them on a footing of equality, which we cannot get elsewhere. We know how the press buttresses the cause of Individualism and suppresses or misrepresents the cause of Socialism. We are not on a footing of equality with individualists when we appeal to the public through that channel, but here the position is different’; we are all on a footing of equality here. We can rely on a truthful report of our speeches being sent out to the public through the pages of Hansard, and that is a great deal more than we can hope toget from the capitalistic press. By his speech, Senator Givens has shown that he is thoroughly familiar with the phase of this question. I think that the Senate is under a debt of gratitude to him for the masterly manner in which he submitted his case. It has been submitted in so complete a form that there is really very little left for others to say on his side of the question..
– How are we going to pay that debt?
– Whether Senator Walker agrees with the conclusions of Senator Givens or not, I think that in fairness he must admit , that my honorable friend displayed a thorough grasp of the subject in moving the motion. I am not so optimistic as to think that the principle of the motion will be adopted straight away. I dare say that a considerable time will elapse before the people of Australia shall have become sufficiently alive to their interests to perceive the road in which they should travel, and the way in which legislation should be shaped. I dare say that we shall have a great deal of tinkering legislation in this regard, and that the people of Australia will act in the same stupid way as they have done for many years past in granting bounties, protection, and financial assistance in other ways to the sugar industry as at present conducted.
– What bounty has the Colonial Sugar Refining Company received ?
– I am sorry to say that it receives practically the greater portion of the benefit from the bounties that the people of Australia have provided.
– It gets about £20,000 a year from Tasmania.
– By the complete way in which this company has obtained control of the refining of sugar in Australia, the bounties granted by the people of this country have, for the most part, ultimately fallen into its coffers. From the growing of the cane until the sugar becomes a finished atricle, ready to be put into the hands of the grocer for sale to the consumer, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company maintains a monopoly of the trade.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what constitutes a monopoly?
– If the honorable senator requires instructions as to what constitutes a monopoly, I shall have to commence with the A B C of political economy.
– How can the company’s business be a monopoly when there are three or four other concerns conducting the same kind of business?
– They can only conduct it under the terms which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company dictates.
– If Senator Walker had been paying attention to Senator
Givens when he submitted this motion, and had taken a note of the figures presented, he would have seen that it was true, beyond a shadow of doubt, that nearly 90 per cent, of the sugar trade of Australia is in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Senator Givens said 80 per cent. ; that is not 90 per cent.
– It is near enough, at all events, to show that the company has practically a monopoly of the sugar-refining business of Australia. Not only has it a monopoly in refining, but also in the Central Mills, which crush the cane and produce the raw sugar. It, like? wise, has a tight grip upon the sugar lands of Austrafia.
– Mere assertion.
– If we recognise these facts - and there can be no manner of doubt about them - it cannot be disputed that the company exercises practically a monopoly from the growing of the cane until me sugar becomes a refined article. But, while I refer to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, I do not wish it to be understood that I am treating this matter from a personal stand-point. I do not happen to know any individual who is interested in the company. I only know, by name, the Knox family, which has the principal interest in the monopoly. I have heard th[at Senator Walker is a shareholder in the concern ; and I am quite sure that he could, in the light of his long acquaintance with Queensland affairs,, let us into a great many secrets which are at present excluded from the public. The company does not allow the public to know all the facts concerning its monopoly of the sugar market, and if Senator Walker chose to enlighten us, I am quite sure that, exhaustive as was the statement of Senator Givens, the honorable senator’s pronouncement would be much more interesting and valuable. I wish, however, to discuss the question purely on the basis of principle. The persons interested in the monopolyshould not be considered for a moment. It is our duty to look at this, and similar questions, from a broader standpoint. The question of the nationalization of the sugar industry is altogether too great to be considered from a personal aspect. Therefore, I trust that we shall discuss it as an affair of measures, not of men. I think it will be admitted’ that in view of the financial assistance that the sugar in dustry has received from the taxpayers of Australia, the results have not been such as to give us an equivalent return for the money spent.
– I quite agree” with the honorable senator there.
– It should also be remembered that Australia, at two general elections, has declared for the principle of a White Australia. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been able to direct its operations in such a way as to defeat that great national principle. We have passed legislation with the object of making Queensland1 a white man’s country, as it may reasonably become. But notwithstanding all our legislation to attain that national ideal, I venture to say that it has, up to the present, been defeated principally through the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. When I was in Queensland a few months ago. I had a splendid opportunity to study the question on the spot. I visited many sugar plantations in common with other members of this Parliament. But the one fact borne in upon us was that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s policy was to employ black labour, and to do everything, possible to throw obstacles in the way of white men establishing a footing in the industry.
– Quite the contrary.
– Has the honorable senator been in Queensland and studied the question?
– Three or four years ago.
– The legislation to which I refer has been passed since that time. Therefore, the honorable senator is not in a position to express an opinion. I have visited Queensland within the _past few months, and I repeat that the legislation that has been passed by this Parliament during the last three years has been defeated by the company, backed up by the rich planters, who are practically part and parcel of it. Every obstacle that could possibly be thrown in the way of white people being engaged in the industry - everything that could possibly be done to retain the. services of the coloured individual - has been done by these people.
– Quite the contrary.
– How does Senator Macfarlane know?
– I know from the company itself.
– I hope that the honorable senator, and those who agree with him, will study the figures that have been collected, both by the Federal Government and the Government of Queensland, as to the employment of coloured and white labour. He will then see that a greater number of coloured people are engaged in the industry to-day than was the case before the White Australia legislation was passed.
– That is not the fault of the company.
- Senator Macfarlane just said that what I stated about the persons employed in the industry was wrong. Now he says that the fault is due to some one else. He admits that a larger number of coloured people is employed in the industry than was the case formerly.
– I do not dispute that at all.
– I wish to prove that the Colonial’ Sugar Refining Company is to blame for this state of affairs. In several districts which I visited1 in Queensland, white men had been refused jobs by the company, coloured individuals being preferred. A notable instance was brought to my notice at Green Hills, near Cairns. That is one of the finest districts for cane culture that we saw during the whole of our journey in Queensland, though we were taken to the principal sugar-growing localities. At Green Hills, which consists of something like 5,000 acres, we found1 that the plantations were in the ‘hands of the Chinese. By whom was the land leased to them ? By the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. We had the statement made in public - not in a private underhand way - that white farmers had tendered for this land, and1 that their tenders had been refused, notwithstanding that they had made the same offer as the Chinese. The Chinaman was. given the preference. There is a concrete case.
– Did the honorable senator visit the Johnson River district?
– I hope that Senator Macfarlane, who has Questioned my statement, will refute it. I challenge him to do so, and not to try to evade it by a subterfuge.
– I do not know anything about that case.
– It is an easy matter for honorable senators opposite to make interjections, which aire absolutely wrong. I have given a concrete instance.
– I simply asked whether the honorable senator bad visited the Johnson River district. There is nothing wrong in that.
– I did visit that district, and had ample opportunities for studying the conditions of the industry there. I found that the same conditions obtained as was the case in every other district. A preference was shown for the Asiatic by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I have not given an isolated case. At Lucinda Point, which is the port for Halifax and Ingham, I saw Chinamen employed as lengthsmen on the tramways owned1 by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which paid them 15s. per week.
– That is quite common.
– Senator Givens, who has resided in the district for years, tells us that that is quite common.
– What is there wrongabout it?
– Surely if Senator Walker has any consideration at all for white men he cannot expect them to work for 15s. a week in Queensland?
– We have the Chinese in Australia; will not the honorable senator let them earn a living?
– If Senator Walker’s policy is to give the work of Australia to Chinese, what are we to say of the constant cry about the necessity for increasing our white population ?
– Does the honorable senator desire that the Chinese should be mere beggars ?
– It strikes me forcibly that the cry that we require a larger white population in Australia is downright hypocrisy. It is a political cry without any honesty- behind it. When the Chinaman’ is given the preference, of what use is it to say that we want more white men ? Queensland for years pursued a policy of assisted immigration, but when immigrants landed in that State what became of them? Thev had eventually to go away to the south in order to find employment. This cannot be wondered at when we learn that the Chinese are given the preference, the kanaka is employed in the fields, Japanese carpenters in the mills, and Chinese farmers at Green Hills and elsewhere in that State. I wonder that any one can have any doubt as to why the Queensland immigration policy was a failure.
– I had to walk for half-an-hour in Cairns to find a white man.
– In most of the other towns of the sugar districts many more coloured men will be seen. It was a perfect disgrace to be obliged to note the number of kanakas walking the streets of Bundaberg as compared with the few white men to be seen there. What I have complained of is to be attributed more to the operations of this company than to anything else. I hope that honorable senators will view the matter from a common-sense standpoint,, and, even if they do not agree with the principle of the motion, will still be prepared to try if something cannot be done to free the sugar industry from the curseof black labour. I have no special prejudice against the coloured man, but if we are to populate Australia with white men, means by which they can earn a livelihood must be provided for them. We cannot possibly develop Australia with black labour, though we may exploit the country, and the unsophisticated kanakas and Chinese. I have seen Japanese carpenters working in the mills belonging to this company, and Chinese working on their tramways. If all the employers of Queensland pursued a similar policy, there would be no room for a white man in the country. I can mention the wages paid in mills controlled by the company, and honorable senators will be able to say whether white men are likely to accept such wages. Some unfortunate men, driven by hunger and want, may accept the conditions forced upon them by this rich corporation, but it will only be for a time, and until they are able to go elsewhere. At all the mills I visited in Queensland I was particularly careful to collect facts concerning the wages paid, and when I mention the rates of wages paid by mills controlled by the company,I hope that Senator Macfarlane will have some more substantial answer to give them than a mere contradiction. I find that the rates of wages paid in many of the mills controlled by the company to white men ranged from 20s. to 25s. per week. What white man could live in Australia on such a wage? Of course there are rations thrown “in to the value of 5s. or 6s. a week, but a man’s stomach would have to be in good order to digest the food with which he is supplied at these places. What are the hours of work for which these wages are paid? Honorable senators will perhaps be surprised to learn that the men receiving these wages have to work twelve hours a day. They start at 6 o’clock in the morning, have an hour for dinner between 12 and1o’clock, and knock off at 6 o’clock at night. A second shift goes on then, and works until 6 o’clock next morning. We are sometimes told that the eight hours day is established in Australia, but we are a long way off that yet. We have had some people declaring that in order to provide work for the unemployed, the hours of labour should be reduced to six per day - a very sensible proposal - but here in Queensland men have to work twelve hours per clay.
– In acountryin which we are told white men cannot work at all.
– In a country in which we have been told it is barbarous and cruel to ask white men to work.
– The honorable senator is not referring to work in the fields?
– No; but to work alongside boilers and furnaces and under worse conditions than work in the fields. I consider the work in the cane-fields, as I saw it. light labour as compared with the workperformed by many white men in Northern Queensland. I saw white men loading bags of sugar on the wharfs in Northern Queensland - work which no coloured man could do. I do not think that any white man should be asked to work for twelve hours a day in the mills for 25s. a week.
– They get rations in addition, do they not ?
– They do; and rations is the proper name for them. I have only to add that the motion submitted by Senator Givens is in accord with the opinion of the white workers of Northern Queensland. At a white labour conference held at Townsville in the beginning of this year, the following resolution was carried unanimously : -
That a State refinery should be established as a consummation of the central mills system.
That was carried at a conference at which white workers were represented by their delegates. These people recognise the fact that so long as the refining of sugar is in the hands of this rich corporation, they will reap very nearly one-half of the profit* of the industry. Honorable senators will have observed from the speech made by Senator Givens in introducing the motion that the company are not content with an ordinary dividend of 10 per cent., but. must have a jubilee dividend over and above, and this is quite apart from the huge salaries drawn by the Knox families and their relatives.
– How often does a jubilee dividend come round?
– The pity is that it should come round at all for these people, who have secured it by sweating white men at 25s. a week. Instead of being called a jubilee .dividend, it should have been called blood-money for it was blood-money drawn from the white men working in the industry. Senator Pulsford extends his sympathy to everything Asiatic, but I wish to God the honorable senator had a little more sympathy for the white Australian, and would give a little more attention to this question. A Mr. Kenna, at the conference to which I have referred, stated that -
The Colonial Sugar Refining Company had a big monopoly of sugar grown in Queensland, and whilst the farmer only got £10 per ton for his. sugar, (he Colonial Sugar Refining Company got £22 a ton for refined sugar.
That will give some idea of the profits secured by the company.
– For a number of years the producer got 54 per cent, of the total price, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company 42 per cent.
– Practically onehalf of the price. . Still, we are told that this is an industry which cannot employ white labour, and that we must recruit kanakas to keep it going. A Mr. Milroy stated -
At Aloomba a number of Chinese grew cane for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. At Green Hills the Chinese were in possession of that place, put there by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
A cane-cutter from the Johnstone River district said that -
White labour has not been given a fair trial in that district. In a few cases, in which it had been tried, it had proved successful. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company and their farmers were against them.
Still we are told that white men have failed in the industry, in face of the fact that they have never been given a fair trial, and every influence that can possibly be brought to bear is exercised to oust them from the industry. A Mr. Niven, a cane-worker from the Mulgrave district, said -
I think farmers who grow cane for the central mills ought to urge the Government to erect a central refinery -
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to hear Senator Walker cheer that statement. I hope we shall find the honorable senator voting in support of the motion.
– What Government is referred to ?
– I do not know whether it is the Commonwealth or the State Government, but the principle is the same. He went on to say - so that they would get every penny of profit there was in sugar,* in place of the present system of sailing raw sugar to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. If they had a central refinery to treat their sugar, the farmers would be able to pay good wages to white workers.
There is a solution of the problem of populating Queensland with white men, and of getting rid of the black man. All that is necessary is that we should provide work a,t rates of wages something like those which a white man requires. It will be impossible to settle a white population in the sugar districts of Queensland if white men are expected to work twelve hours a day for from 20s. to 25s. a week, and in competition with coloured men. It must be clear to honorable senators that the only remedy which will strike at the root of the evil is that provided for in the motion. The nationalization of the indus- try is, I hold, the only cure for the evil. With the nationalization of the industry, those who have to bear the heat and burden of the day will be able to reap the profit which is now secured by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. At the present time there is no inducement for white men to follow this occupation, unless they can find no better employment ; and the only way to induce them to take up the work is to nationalize the industry and give him adequate remuneration. I suppose that before long a Bill will be presented proposing that further financial support shall be given to the industry ; but unless that proposal is accompanied with some provision for a minimum wage, and proper safeguards for the interests of the white workers, I shall refuse to sanction any further bonus. We have already passed legislation with the object of making this a white man’s industry, but that legislation has proved a miserable failure; and it would be the height of folly to any longer continue that policy. Queensland, in respect of its climate, soil, and rainfall, is well adapted for the growing of sugar; but if only coloured labour is to be employed no advantage can follow to Australia. The industry ought to be one of great importance to the Commonwealth as a whole, but at present it is profitable only to a few who prefer to obtain cheap labour from the South Seas, or from some Asiatic country. If the industry is worth conserving, it ought to be placed on a satisfactory basis, and to that end the proper means is nationalization.
– Senator de Largie has drawn a clear line of demarcation between the views which he and his colleagues favour, and the views held by, I believe, the majority of honorable senators. As a Socialist belonging to a party which believes in Socialism, Senator de Largie takes up his present attitude.
– Socialism is the underlying principle.
– I do not want to misrepresent the honorable senator. It appears that the real contest is between those who favour Socialism and those who do not favour that principle, as understood by the Labour Party of Australia. That party has taken great pains, by means of outside organizations, to lay down a clear and definite rule as to what shall be done with all great industries; and their object is to have collective ownership under the Government.
– Does the honorable senator not think that he is incorrectly stating the case?
.- As I said before, I have no wish to misrepresent the views of honorable senators opposite, and am now simply stating what I believe to be the object of those who, like the Labour Party, favour Socialism.
– The honorable senator’s mistake is in saying that the desire is to nationalize all industries.
– I said that the desire is to nationalize all great industries.
– All monopolies.
– I understand that what I have stated is the object of the Labour Party, not perhaps as represented by the individual members of this party in this Parliament, but as represented by outside organizations, under theagis of which the party work. However, that may be, my view is. entirely different from those which I have just indicated. I think that the conduct of industries by individuals produces greater benefit to the community at large than would the system advocated by honorable senators opposite.
– It results in far larger profits to the individuals who happen to be members of those wealthy corporations.
D- After all, men of energy and perseverance are entitled to the legitimate rewards which follow the exercise of those virtues.
– But they are not entitled to other people’s earnings.
– Persons who are not prepared to display energy and wisdom in the conduct of their own affairs naturally go to the wall ; and it would be a great mistake, particularly in a young, growing and healthy community, to discourage people from undertaking industrial enterprises. Private ownership and management is incomparably better than State management.
– No Government stroke !
– Privately owned railways, for instance, as compared with Government-owned rail wa y s .
.-I am dealing with general principles. If the honorable senator is referring to railways, and the Post and Telegraph Department, then I think I am as much a Socialist as he is; but the effects of State interference in these matters is not followed with the results which would inevitably be experienced if, forinstance, the sugar industry were nationalized. This industry is only one of a large number which I know honorable senators opposite would like to see treated in this way. Those honorable senators, of course, have a perfect right to their views and opinions ; but we have to consider which policy we shall adopt as best in the interests of the community - whether we shall encourage individual effort and organization, or whether, on the other hand, private enterprise shall be retarded by Government interference.
What is the object of the motion? Senator Givens declares that this industry has become what he terms a monopoly - that it has swallowed up all the smaller similar industries. We must, however, recognise that before this was a great industry it was a small one. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company commenced operations in a comparatively humble way in competition with other companies, and it would never have attained its present position but for the enterprise and energy of those whowere responsible for the management. Individual judgment and skill have placed this company in a wealthy and influential position, and because of that it as proposed to hand over the whole enterprise to the Government. Such a policy will remove the incentive to individual exertion, and reduce the community generally to a position little better than that of “ hewersof wood and drawers of water.” Under such a system it would be treading on dangerous ground to enter into an enterprise for one’s own personal and pecuniary interest, because the moment a certain measure of success was reached, the Government would step in and reap the benefit of our energy and perseverance. I admit that Senator Givens advocates compensation to the value of the property at the present time; but the incentive with most men is the opportunity afforded to acquire and increase their capital. If the incentive to individual enterprise be removed then no one will seek to better himself, and therefore the community as a whole cannot be bettered. A question like this should not be discussed in the light of the great profits made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. We ought to work on a broader basis, and proceed in the way which we deem best in the interests of the people at large. If Senator Givens, instead of devoting himself to parliamentary work, had accumulated wealth in some industry, would he sot regard it as a cruel shame if the Government stepped in and deprived him of the results of his labour, when, if he had been unsuccessful, they would have left him alone? Senator Givens complains that the bounty, to a much greater extent than he approves, has found its way into the coffers of the company, and he quoted statistics showing the dividends paid and the amounts carried to reserve.
– Does the honorable senator think that I quoted the figures incorrectly ?
– I accept the honorable senator’s statistics as honest and bond fide. It has been pointed out that the capital represented by the company amounts to about £3,000,000 ; and, even if that sum were paid in compensation, an injustice would still be done to the shareholders.
– The capital is £2,127,000, or thereabouts, and the main reserve amounts to £483,000 odd.
– I make it out to be £329,000.
.- I will take the figures which are before me, and say that in March, 1905, the reserves were £414,000, and that dividends of 10 per cent. were paidon the capital of £2,200,000. In March, 1899, the reserves amounted to £419,757, or, in other words, to about £5,000 more than in 1905. In 1899 the company were paying dividends at the rate of 10 per cent. and adding a comparatively small amount to their reserves. This dividend of 10 per cent. was paid continuously up to September, 1904 ; but in 1905 there was a jubilee bonus, which amounted to per cent. on the year’s operations.
– That bonus amounted to£54,960.
– Notwithstandingthe sugar bonus from which the honorable senator says the company have obtained such great assistance, they have not been able to increase their dividends. According to the figures given by the honorable senator, the company have been continually paying a 10 per cent. dividend. In order to earn that dividend, not only have they had to utilize the capital and the reserves, but to borrow large sums on debentures.
– How much ?
– I am not aware.
– If the honorable and learned senator will refer to the balancesheet, he will find that instead of borrowing money since the bounty system was introduced, the company have considerably reduced the amount of their debentures.
.- The company, I learn, have reduced the amount of their debentures to £65,000. With the exception of this sum, the debentures were turned into capital, on which dividends had to be paid. Do not honorable senators realize that a company with a capital of £2,250,000 must have an innumerable number of persons on their share-list? The shareholders are not always wealthy men. I know persons who have £200 or £300 invested in shares, and who, of course, are getting the benefit of the 10 per cent, dividends. But they are only small people. I admit that ‘ the share-list includes the names of wealthy shareholders, but it also includes the names of many poor persons, who are distributing their dividends amongst the public generally in the ordinary way. Honorable senators must realize that this company cannot be said to be a monopoly of a serious or dangerous character. I agree with Senator de Largie that it would be a dangerous tiling for the Commonwealth to increase the bounty. Surely the shareholders in this company, as business men. are entitled to benefit in whatever ‘legislation a very liberal Parliament may see fit to pass. It is well known that a large sum had to be distributed for the purpose of >enabling sugar to be grown under conditions which are not natural.
– What are natural conditions ?
.- I refer to the people who naturally would do the work required to be done.
– It is not natural to have South Sea Islanders here.
– With all due respect to Senator de Largie, I submit that it is bad for the white men of this community to be employed in the climate of the northern coastal portions of Queensland. I am sure that white men can do the work in the mills very much better than in the cane-field, and I would far sooner see them so employed.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to allow coloured labour in Northern Australia?
.- If coloured labour is more suitable than white labour for the industry, it is very much better that the former should be employed.
– The honorable and learned senator says “if.” What is his opinion ?
.- I shall discuss that question with the honorable sena tor at another time. He knows my views with regard to the employment of kanakas in the cane-fields; while I also believe in keeping our country racially pure.
– When we were at Townsville, we heard a statement made by Dr. Macdonald, of Johnstone River, that Northern Queensland had not only a good climate, but absolutely the best climate in the world.
– In the coastal districts?
– Yes; and that is where the cane is grown.
.- I admit that a man could not get a much better climate than is to be found on: the higher land.
– On the very land where the industry is carried on.
– However, that is by the way. As a New South Welshman, I should not complain about the bounty system, when I know how beneficial it has been to the farmers in its northern districts, who have never required to employ black labour, and who under the bounty system are getting a subsidy of £2 or £3 per ton from the pockets of the taxpayers. If we desire individual enterprise to embark upon great undertakings, we must be prepared to let the rewards which flow from the expenditure of their money to be reaped by them, unless, of course, we intend to say ‘ to enterprising men, “You may go into these great industries. If they are successful, we shall get Parliament to relieve you of the benefit of your enterprise, but we shall not accept any loss which it may have brought about.” Suppose that an industry in which £2.000,000 or .,£3,000,000 was invested had absolutely failed, I can well imagine the speeches which would come from honorable senators opposite if we were to approach Parliament and say : “ These men cannot carry on the industry under reasonable conditions, and we want you to give them £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 straight away.”
– That is what we are doing.
-Col. GOULD, - Possibly by means of the protectionist system we are saying to these men, “You cannot hold your own in open competition, therefore we shall bolster you up.”
– Why should not the country get the profit as well as foot the bill ? We have to pay through the nose at the present time.
.- In what way have we to pay through the nose, unless it be in consequence of the grant of bounties ? Senator Givens has said that there is a great difference between the Colonial Sugar Company’s buying and selling prices. Here is a quotation which he made from the
The estimated yield to the grower is given by the officials as averaging, say, £y 10s. per ton o£ sugar for the equivalent quantity of cane. The cost of refining, excise duty, bagging, wharfage, freight, and other charges, it is claimed, brings the total up to £18 per ton. The company’s charges, not to consumers, but to merchants and large distributing firms, are as follow : - Brewers’, £21 15s. ; No. iX and No. iA, £21 ; No. 1 ordinary, £20 15s. ; No. 2, ^20 5s. ; No. 3j ros.
– I did not rely on those figures at all. In another part of my speech I quoted the official figures. Roughly speaking, the producers of raws get 58 per cent, of the prices, and the company get 42 per cent.
.- It must be remembered that the difference between these prices has to cover not only the cost of manufacture, but also excise, carriage, and disccunts, while the company have to incur considerable expense in refining the raw sugar, and to compete with the men outside the Commonwealth who produce sugar, with the cheapest possible labour. The import duty °f £6 per ton is imposed upon foreign sugar either to protect the local grower, or to obtain revenue, possibly for both purposes. Unfortunately, the revenue is gradually declining, but that is owing to the policy of the Commonwealth. The price of sugar to the consumer in Australia is not by any means excessive when compared with” the price which is charged to the consumer who lives outside the Commonwealth, and has not to make up the bounty and excise charges, It will thus be seen that the whole concern is being conducted upon fair and equitable terms. Although the company is a large one - a Triton among minnows - nevertheless there are other concerns which are interested in - the same industry. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that honorable senators not only carry this motion, but that the Government succeed in passing an Act to nationalize the sugar industry. How is the industry to be carried on? Is it proposed to extend to the persons/ employed in the industry more generous terms than they have hitherto been receiving? Is it proposed to increase the wages now paid to the employes ? I understand from Senator 3e Largie that, in some cases, for certain classes of labour, from 20s. to 25s. a week is paid. Is it proposed to increase these wages, and reduce the hours of labour, and at the same time benefit the consumers?
– I think that the consumers would be quite content to pay the present price, if better wages were paid.
.- Do honorable senators really believe that it would be wise to conduct an industry of this character in such a way that political’ influence might be exercised in regard to wages and conditions of employment ?
– Political considerations extend to the industry now.
.- Cannot the honorable senator see the difference between political control and the influence of a number of shareholders in their own industry? If honorable senators opposite engage in a particular industry, would it not be a fair thing if they had friends whom they wished to have employed in it to try to secure appointments for them when vacancies occurred? There is nothing wrong in that. But what I do object to is, that if the industry became a Government monopoly, political pressure would be brought to bear upon members of Parliament to increase employment unnecessarily, and the selection of suitable men would not be left to those responsible. Advantage would be taken of the position to secure appointments for persons without regard to their fitness. We had an example of that in connexion with the railways of these States. Some years ago political influence was exercised in connexion with those great undertakings. They were extravagantly managed, and often incompetent people were employed. Men who were incapable of giving a fair day’s work had their billets retained to them by means of political influence. Then came a change. Commissioners were appointed to manage the railways. While that change has been very beneficial, and has secured an important reform, I know that in its early stages it was most difficult to withstand the demands constantly made upon members of Parliament to exercise the old kind of influence that they had been in the habit of using. The greatest difficulty in the world was experienced in killing that system. Indeed, I fear that it has not been absolutely killed yet. That is one . of the evils, which we always find in connexion with anything that is under Government control. I am not blaming members of Parliament or Governments. The evil is inseparable from the system.
– Does not the same evil exist in connexion with large companies privately managed? Consider the Knox family, for instance, in connexion with the sugar industry.
.- The Colonial Sugar Refining Company stands in an entirely different relation. The late Sir Edward Knox was for many years the general manager. of the company, and his son was a clerk in the office. He worked himself up to the position he holds to-day, and I do not believe that he would have kept it unless the directors and shareholders had been satisfied that they had in him a thoroughly competent man.
– He is a man of brilliant ability.
.- I venture to say that if the sugar industry were placed under the control, of the Government, Senator de Largie himself would have no objection to that gentleman continuing to occupy his position. Honorable senators cannot reasonably complain because a man whose father held a prominent position in a company at length succeeds to the same position, if he has brains, ability, and energy. . We all recognise, whatever we may think of the methods of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that t is an eminently well-managed concern, and has been splendidly successful. I do not quarrel with the company one bit. I only wish that I had had the good luck to have a large number of shares in a company so successfully conducted. But I object to this motion upon the very much broader ground that it is to the interest of the community that we should encourage every individual to exercise the faculties and powers he possesses in his own interest, recognising that at the same time he will be using them in the best interests of the community in which he lives. If we find that big trusts are established it* will be our duty to step in and see that the public generally are not victimized by them. A great trust may be useful, so long as it does not victimize the public. When it does that, Parliament has a perfect right to step in and say that the public good is supreme.
– We are all agreed on that, but we think that the only thorough remedy is nationalization.
.- Has it been shown that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has become a vicious trust that is doing injury to the community at large? Has it been shown that the company has conducted its business unfairly and unjustly ? Has not Senator de Largie ‘ himself admitted that the consumer has no ground for complaint on account of the price which he is called upon to pay for his sugar ? The honorable senator contends that in some cases employes of the company have been very poorly paid. In the first place, I wish to point out that positions in the employment of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are eagerly sought after. Clerkships in the office, and posts as refiners are much coveted. I believe that the employe’s of the company are as liberally, if not more liberally, paid than are employes in a majority of other industries in the Commonwealth. Therefore, these men have no reason to complain about the company. Many of the employes may be relatives or friends of the directors or shareholders. But thev obtain their positions fairly. A person concerned in the management of a company is not bound to put an outside person into a position if there is some one well known to him who is as well qualified for it. I know that the service of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is regarded as one of the best which a young - man can enter. It is admitted that those who are employed in the mills of the company are libera My paid. Then we come to the men to whom Senator de Largie has referred more particularly, and who, he says, are very poorly paid. I do not doubt the correctness of his statements. But there is always to be faced the question about supply and demand. I am under the impression that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has experienced a dearth of white men to do its work on the plantations, and has been compelled to employ coloured labour. Perhaps that labour has been employed at the small rates mentioned by the honorable senator. But there must be some cause for it, apart altogether from the company. Let me point out also that if we do not encourage people who have enterprise and ability to concern themselves in businesses of this character, we shall rob the working classes of the opportunity to obtain situations and earn a respectable livelihood. The more we can establish great industries like this the better for the community, because it means more employment for the working classes, a larger population, and a greater spending power for the people. No man realizes more fully than I do what a great advantage it is to have a large population well employed, with a fair amount of spending power.
– We are all agreed as to that ; the difference is as to which is the better method of control.
.- I think I have made my position perfectly clear i« pointing out that no injury is done to the community by the work of this company, and that, in “fact, it absolutely benefits the” country.
– Does the honorable senator think that the company does not go in for unfair competition ?
-Col’. GOULD. - I do not think so.
– I will prove it directly.
– I -think that it would be perfectly possible for a man to invest money in sugar refining, and to carry on business in competition with the company. I admit, however, that it would require a very large capital and that it would be difficult to obtain a footing. But the position of the company in that respect is due to the industry and enterprise of its conductors. It has built up its business.
– Does the honorable senator think that the company never enters into any contract which restrains freedom in industry ?
– It grants rebates.
– I do not know the inner workings of the company. I have had no communication with any member of it in regard, to its methods. I simply speak from’ a knowledge which I have gained outside. I am not aware that the company has done any harm. I hold that we are ‘not justified in interfering with it on the broad grounds of the welfare of the sugar industry, and the desirability of securing to every man the reward of his own labour and ability. I think that Parliament should only step in to interfere with such enterprises when they are conducted in such a way as to be injurious to public interests.
– I think that the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has laid down a proper dictum - that the public weal is the supreme law. It is from that point of view that I propose to discuss this motion.. It declares to start with - an indisputable fact - that the sugar business is mainly in the hands of one large company. Consequently, whether -it is baneful or not - and I do not propose to discuss that question - there is a monopoly. It is generally admitted that the tendency of any monopoly is to grow into a public bane - to grow into something which is prejudicial to the common weal. There are two ways in which the public are likely to suffer, and I do not think that we are compelled to prove actual suffering in order to show the banefulness of a condition that prevails, because any condition that is conducive to suffering should be avoided. If there is a monopoly, that, monopoly can absolutely control the selling price of an article. If it control’s the selling price beyond what is necessary for securing a legitimate profit to the seller, it means a very large profit to the monopoly, and a very large aggregate cost to the community. But I do not look upon that as the greatest’ evil in connexion with a trading monopoly. I think a greater evil is the hardship entailed upon the primary producers, the suppliers of the raw material. We have in Victoria at the present time a very striking instance of the evil to the producer of having only one outlet for his produce. We have in the tobacco industry an extremely lucrative business for the very few wealthy men engaged in the financial part of it. Tobacco grown in Victoria can be sold practically to but one buyer, though a number of persons are involved. The grower of tobacco is given no say in determining the price to be paid for it. The buyer, the monopolists - and I do not use the term offensively, because I have no desire to speak offensively of the gentlemen connected with the business - the persons who have the monopoly simply say, “We are prepared to give is., nd., rod.,. 9<3. per lb.,” or whatever they choose, and the producer is absolutely at their mercy. It has been declared by competent experts that in the King River district, a part of Victoria which I know very well, very good tobacco can be grown.
– I have smoke’d tobacco grown there, and it was very good tobacco.
– I have seen tobacco growing there, and the plants were luxuriant and beautiful. I am not competent to say whether it was good tobacco ; but persons who are tobacco experts have declared that it is excellent. Yet, in consequence of the monopoly that exists, those engaged in the growing of the tobacco have never been able to get a price that will pay them.
– Did it pay to grow it before? I believe that a large quantity was grown in Victoria years ago, before the establishment of the so-called combine.
– A considerable quantity of tobacco was grown, but never what might be called a large quantity, in view of the total consumption of tobacco. It was grown because those who started the industry, were sanguine, when they knew they could grow good tobacco, that they would be able to sell their crop. But experience has proved that it has been a dwindling industry, and for no other, reason than that tb which I have referred. I therefore say that a monopoly is extremely baneful to the producer, who is an important, if not the most important, factor in the consideration of every commercial concern. There is also another evil, and a very great one, and that is the manner in which a monopoly, by its character, is enabled to treat its servants. The common weal, the public good, which, as Senator Gould has properly’ stated, is the supreme law, surely involves the consideration of the interests of all members of the public, and not merely of persons who have invested their capital in, and who are engineering an enterprise. A monopoly of this character has the power - and I do not say that this company has used the power, because I confess extreme ignorance with- reference to this particular company - to absolutely dictate terms to ‘ the people who work for it. because there is no question of supply and demand in the ordinary sense, as they cannot find work at their occupation elsewhere. ‘
– Would there be any difference in the case of a State monopoly ?
– I .propose’ to show that there would. Senator Gould has said that experience has taught that enterprises conducted by the ingenuity of private individuals of skill and knowledge are invariably better managed than those conducted by State or other large corporations. I propose to quote at least one instance in connexion with which that statement is not borne out. The honorable senator will know something of a village in the old world called Glasgow. Glasgow had tramways that were run from 1871 to 1894 by a private company. They were owned by the Glasgow citizens, but with a perfect faith in the doctrine enunciated by Senator Gould that large corporations cannot manage a business as well as can intelligent private persons, the citizens of Glasgow leased the tramways they had made to a private firm-. Abuses grew up under the management of that firm. The people’s interests were not considered, and honorable senators will remember that the commonweal involves the consideration of the interests of all the people. The only consideration attended to in connexion with the working of the Glasgow tramways was that of dividends for the shareholders in the company that had leased the lines from the Glasgow Corporation. To such a pass had matters arrived that men with wives and families to maintain were working for the company for 18s. per .week. They were so poor that they could not clothe themselves decently, not to say comfortably. The reflection rested upon the city of Glasgow that the men employed on its public means of locomotion were actually in a condition of indecency, their flesh showing through their clothes, because they . could not afford to buy new ones.
– Perhaps they wore kilts.
– No; they had not even decent kilts. If they had been kilted they would have been all right. The public of Glasgow complained most strenuously that the corporation sought to impose i conditions on the company. I believe that one of the most important conditions which they sought to impose was that tlie company should furnish their employes with uniforms. The company! considered that the belief in the success of intelligent private enterprise was so embedded in the minds of the people that they would never dream of running the concern through the city corporation. They refused to make any concession at all. They said they were running the business for their profit, not for fun, or for philanthropy, and they would run it as they liked. Incensed at this, the Glasgow Corporation determined to run the trams themselves. I forget the exact date, but I believe it was some day in July, 1894, that the company’s lease expired. When they understood that it was not to be renewed, the company refused the corporation any facility for making ready to run the trams themselves. The road belonged to the corporation, but they were not allowed to get at it to make necessary repairs, and the company would not sell the corporation their plant. In the face of these disadvantages, the corporation had to buy nearly 3,000 horses in advance, and to be at the expense of maintaining and training them. They had to buy a completely new set of rolling-stock and to be ready to resume the work of running the trams at 6 o’clock on the morning after the day on which the company’s lease expired. Then the company met them with every possible opposition. They flooded the streets withbuses to prevent the trams making a profit, and yet, in the face of all these difficulties, the Glasgow Corporation in the first eleven months of their working of the trams made £34,000 profit. In addition to this, they extended the length of the penny sections, they introduced halfpenny sections where they had not previously existed, and in one month they carried over 2.000,000 more passengers than the private company had done in the corresponding period of the year before.
– What rental had they received from the company? That is The crux of the whole matter.
– I do not care what the rental was. What I propose to show is that in this instance corporation management worked immensely better than private management for the commonweal, though not for the company or its shareholders.
– One swallow does not make a summer.
– When the honorable senator has swallowed this instance, I may be able to supply him with another. I am’ proving, at any rate, that it is not an invariable rule that private enterprise works better for the commonweal than does corporate enterprise. However, I have vet to deal with the most important aspect of the change. I pointed out that the working people under the rule of the company received 1 8s. per week in wages, and were so poor that they could not clothe themselves decently, and a public outrage was created of which the people complained. The corporation reduced the working hours of the employes from sixteen to twelve. That meant that where three men were required to do a certain amount of work under the company, four men were necessary to perform the work under the corporation. That must have done something in the direction of removing the unemployed difficulty. If the result had been a great loss, honorable senators might say that- there was compensation in other ways, but I have explained that the corporation made a profit of £24,000 in the first eleven months. In the face of all the disadvantages with which they had to contend, they employed four men where only three were previously employed, they paid 25s. a week wages instead of18s., and they supplieduniforms, where the company supplied no uniforms at all. In this instance, at all events, it will be admitted that corporate enterprise operated with enormously more benefit to the commonweal than did the private enterprise that preceded it.
– What about the poor capitalist?
– I am not so much concerned about the poor capitalist, but I will say that if the poor capitalist was thrown out of employment he had at least a chance of getting one of the jobs created by the employment of four men where three had previously been employed to do the work. So that even the poor capitalist was assured to a greater extent than he could have been before, that he would not need to go hungry for want of employment, since vacancies at more lucrative wages were created for hundreds of men as one of the results of the change.
– The corporation, to have done all that, must have previously sweated the lessees.
– The difference was that the lessees managed, without any regard to the public interest, and the result of their grasping desire for dividends was to restrict the traffic on the tramways. The corporation worked the trams with regard to the public interest only: They increased the journeys which could be made for id., and instituted half-penny sections, with the result that there was an enormous increase in the traffic. The consumers, as represented by the travelling public, got an immense advantage, and the producers, if I may use the term, who worked the trams, and were themselves a portion of the Commonwealth, enjoyed immensely more comfortable conditions. I refer to the first eleven months, because I had an opportunity then of looking into the question. I happened to be “in Glasgow in the early part of 1896, and, through the courtesy of the public officials there, I had a long interview with Mr. Young, the general manager.
– Can the honorable senator give the amount of rent paid by the corporations, because that is the crux of the whole question?
– I have not that information. Senator Zeal is apparently in the habit of regarding everything from the point of view of rent.
– If a profit is made, and all those advantages enjoyed, surely we ought to consider the conditions under which the corporation took over the trams ?
– I confess that it would be better for the complete discussion of the question if we knew the amount of rent, but I regard it as a. comparatively unimportant consideration. I think it highly probable that the rent is very little in excess, if at all, of the interest on the cost of construction. I have shown how the travelling public, as representing the commonweal, ]en joyed enormous advantages immediately the management was taken over by the corporation.
– There is- jno doubt about that.
– I have also shown that the people who worked the trams also received enormous advantages im. mediately, so that the whole area of the commonweal was covered. I have learned that the Glasgow corporation are continuing the management of the trams on the lilies initiated, and that they are making large profits, in spite of the fact that the people have received concessions in fares representing from 30 per cent, to 50 per cent. Part of that profit goes to what is known in Glasgow as the “Common Good Account” - a term with which I am delighted. This “ Common Good Account” is used to provide, amongst other things, rea sonably healthy, decent habitations for people who are too poor, under the competitive, private-enterprise system, to provide such homes for themselves. That is not called charity to the poor. It is called the “common good,” and is good for the man who does not use these habitations, as it is good for the man who does - it is good for the whole community.
– Private firms have done the same thing over and over again.
– Good private firms have ; and God bless them ! But private firms have failed to do this over and over again - they have done the converse very much more frequently. As Senator Gray said, “ One swallow does not make a summer.” But I am quoting an instance which may be multiplied by hundreds in the United Kingdom. I take Glasgow because it affords a striking example, situated as it is in a part of the United Kingdom not celebrated for wealth.
– The honorable senator would have some trouble in finding a richer place than Glasgow.
– It is the richest city in the world! for its size.
– I believe there are in Scotland a very large number of financiers, and a great deal of loan money goes from there to other parts of the world. But I am speaking of the people generally.
– I ask the honorable senator not to be led away from the question by interjections.
– I am developing what is to me an exceedingly interesting argument, which, in my opinion, is perfectly germane to the question at issue. I see at once that in speaking of Glasgow as a poor city, in the generally accepted sense of the term, I was in error; but a country or town cannot be called rich in which a very large percentage of the population have to work under conditions that are extremely irksome.
– I did not stop the honorable senator when he was elaborating his illustration, but I do not think that the wealth of Scotland has anything to do with the question before us.
– I admit that it is somewhat remote from the question. The corporate management of the Glasgow trams results in - a substantial sum to the “ Common _Good Fund” every year. An adequate amount also is laid by for renewals, so that these tramways, a thousand years from now, if they are not superseded, will be in as good a condition as they are in to-day. In addition, a substantial sum is paid into a sinking fund, so that in thirtythree years from 1899, after bestowing all the benefits I have enumerated, the trams will be handed to the people of Glasgow, absolutely as a free gift, the cost having been paid out of the daily profits.
– The honorable senator admits that this is municipalization, and1 not nationalization?
– What is the difference ?
– There is a great deal of difference.
– Senator Walker is, of course, at perfect liberty, to advance that argument, but my great regard for him would lead me to be very sorry if he has not a better one.
– There are arguments in favour of municipalization, which are not applicable to nationalization.
– Possibly ; and the honorable senator may point out how it is that municipalization is an excellent institution, while nationalization must be disastrous. At present, I am not able to see any difference, except in degree. There are some nations not so populous as Glasgow. There was a time when Victoria bad not as many people as there now are in the Scottish city. Victoria might have become a separate nation ; and then nationalization here would have been very much akin to municipalization in Glasgow. In the United Kingdom at the present time there are, roughly speaking. 900 enterprises of the kind being carried on. The London County Council affords a striking instance, in a city which may be described as certainly one of the richest, and1, at the same time, one of the poorest in the world, where extraordinary wealth is cheek by jowl with poverty - a state of affairs that has properly been described as a disgrace to civilization.
– Is that not so all the world over?
– I regret that it is ; and I do not think that a better argument could be advanced in favour of the motion than that such conditions are “all the world over.” Unfortunately, “ all the world over “ the worship of the god of private enterprise prevails, and whenever nationalization, or municipalization, or. any collective system of management is advocated, the god is trotted out, and “ the
Government stroke “ held up as a warning. Consequently, these dreadful conditions remain “ all the world over.” But conditions have improved since Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Leeds, and many other places departed, in some respect, from theworship of the god of private enterprise. In Battersea, one of the municipalities in London, there has been taken a step towards solving a most difficult problem. Both Senator Gray and Senator Walker know that there are avocations in life for which a grey hair, or the least (indication of a bald patch, will disqualify a man. The municipality of Battersea, while saving money for the ratepayers, have in some measure found ‘a remedy.-. It has been declared that no man shall be employed by the corporation of Battersea who is under forty years of age, thus affording the old chaps a chance to live out their lives under reasonably fair conditions. The young men, full of life and vigour are allowed to take their part in the rough-and-tumble of the world.
– Surely the honorable senator does not advocate that ?
– I think that the Battersea Municipal Council has set an example which deserves the admiration and approval of the world.
– That plan could not be universally adopted.
– Of course, I do not think it would be feasible to prevent any man from working until he was forty.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the difficulty might be met by other means?
– I do. There is an age, and that not far in advance of forty, when, if we had municipalization and nationalization, men and women who had worked faithfully and well for the community would be entitled to live comfortably - not as paupers, but as persons to whom the community1 owed a great deal, and for the evening of whose life it makes provision. In France, the tobacco industry is a national monopoly. There is a good deal said for and against it. I found French tobacco very hard to smoke, but the Frenchman found it delightful. After all, it was for him that it was made. He coul’d not smoke the tobacco I smoked. It is all a mutter of taste. It is alleged that tobacco gives a very large revenue to the French Government. That operates for the commonweal, because it admits of taxation being reduced in other ways, which, so far as it goes, is an immense advantage, unless it can be shown that the charge to the French user is inordinately high. The price is about the same in France as in England French tobacco is said by the Englishman not to be of such good quality as the English tobacco, but, after all, the latter is said by the Frenchman to be quite unsmokable. Municipalization or nationalization, or any form of collective management of industries meets another difficulty which is growing in our advancing civilization, and that is the displacement of labour by the introduction of improved methods of management. I do not think that any one will argue that we should attempt to stem the advancing tide of science in the region of mechanical improvement, as applied to manufactures and production. We must all admit that in the end the world is a gainer. But bitter experience teaches us that very few such improvements are introduced without entailing, not merely trouble and hardship, but painful, cruelly drawn-out death to hundreds of persons- Of course, if it be inevitable, the world must have these advantages, even if pain arid death be the consequence to some persons. But if it were possible to have all these advantages, and more of them, without pain and death to anybody, would_ it be contended that that was not in the interest of the commonweal ? Take the tobacco industry in France. I remember that some years ago there were remarkable improvements in th’a process of making cigarettes. Highly improved machinery was introduced for the purpose. The French Government elected to use these machines, and the inevitable consequence they knew would be to displace a considerable number of public servants, who were engaged in the manufacture of cigarettes. A vigorous, up-to-date captain of industry would say : “I am sorry that these people have to go. We shall give them a fiver or a £io-note when they do go. but we cannot carry on our business unless we ‘have the best methods.”
– Does the honorable senator think that a captain of industry would give a £5-note?
– I know of an instance in Australia where eighty men, who were displaced bv the introduction of a machine, received several hundred pounds each in consideration of the services which they had rendered in past years, with an affectionate and, I think, manly expression of regret from the employer that it was not possible to keep them. I am glad to pay this tribute to private enterprise. I do not say that the men engaged in private enterprise are necessarily bad men, but that, the work in which they are engaged has a tendency to make then,’ callous. The French Government immediately wrote to all the men, whom they knew would be displaced, telling them that on a certain date they would have to leave their present occupations, and asking them to look about the various departments of the Public Service for positions which they thought they would be capable of filling, and which they would like to fill. When the Government had all these requests in their possession, they looked about and managed without additional cost to find in the Public Service suitable berths for the displaced men. Thus the French people had all the advantage which came from getting the improved machines, and the men whom the machines displaced did not suffer a single day’s pain or hardship in consequence of their introduction. Would it not be a good thing if, when men who have been trained to a special avocation, and squeezed out by the satisfactory and useful advance of scientific knowledge, they did no’t suffer, but on the contrary participated in the advantages, thus brought about with the rest of their fellow citizens? I would strongly urge honorable senators not to view this question through the light of highlycrystallized prejudice, but rather1 to use the light of past experience to guide them as a lamp, so to speak, to direct their steps into better, wiser, and more humane paths in the times which are to come.
– To me the speech of Senator Trenwith was an intellectual pleasure, and I congratulate him upon having given the Senate much interesting information. He seems to think that municipalization and nationalization are equivalent. Each, I admit, is a system of collectivism, but I am sure that the honorable senator would not like to see all the municipal arrangements for Great Britain placed under one control. Glasgowis a municipality which manages its municipal business much better than the nation could do. It is in that sense that I refer to the great difference between municipalization and nationalization. I am rather in favour of municipalities having control nf the tramways, because they control the roads. But that does not affect the question of nationalization. Where does the Constitution permit us ‘to nationalize an industry? I have not yet met a single lawyer who could point to any provision, of that kind.
– It cannot be done, according to Mr. Deakin.
– Senator Givens admits that it cannot be done; but, in that airy manner of his, he says: ‘! We shall manage all that.” I do not think ‘that the Socialists will find it an easy matter to get the Constitution amended.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of amending the Constitution in that direction ?
– I am not in favour of amending the Constitution to nationalize any industry. The Senate is supposed to be the States’ House. Queensland has a great interest in the sugar industry. It has £”500,000, if not more, invested in central sugar mills. There is no reason why it should not have its own refinery. I am really surprised that it has not.
– The honorable senator’s company opposed a similar motion in the Parliament of Queensland.
– I am not an apologist for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ; I am only a small shareholder, as I have already told the honorable senator, and that does not affect my judgment one iota. I think of the good of the whole community perhaps just as much as any honorable senator does. I have no wish for the company to be a monopoly. Senator de Largie ‘seems to think that because coloured labour is being employed Queensland is being depopulated. In 1859, when the separation from New South Wales was granted, Queensland’s population was 23,000. Bv the time Sir George Bowen came out it had increased to 27,000. I went to Queensland when its population was about 35,000, and to-day it is over 500,000. What led to that great increase ? European immigration.
– Does not the honorable senator think that, for a period of about fifty years, that is a comparatively small increase ?
– If in forty-six years the population has multiplied from 27,000 to 500,000, the probability is that at the end of the next forty-six years,, if it increases at the same rate, the population will be about 10,000,000. Some time since, the Age published an interesting article on the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in which it seemed to favour nationalization. If nationalization is good for one industry, I suppose it is also good for another industry. I wonder if the Age will come out with a leading article advocating the nationalization of all newspapers ?
– Suppose that it will not, does that vitiate its other argument?
– I am not saying that it does; but I do like persons to be consistent.
– It would be better for the journalistic hacks on the Age to be public servants.
– I cannot help thinking that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; but I am not sure whether the Age is a goose or a gander. I am not, I repeat, an apologist for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The arguments in favour of this motion have been based largely on the supposition that *t is a monopoly. If the premises of a speaker are wrong, the probability is that his conclusions are wrong. I maintain that the company is not a monopoly. Sugar refining is not even a protected industry. Take the large sugar refinery of Messrs. Poolman and Company. What do they refine?
– A very small quantity of sugar.
– Messrs. Poolman and Company import Java sugar, refine it in bond, and pay duty on the refined article. There is no protection, so far as the refining part of the business is concerned. As a free-trader, I am totally opposed to protection, and there is a great deal to be said against the long-continued bounties given to the sugar planters. I hope the day will come when we shall have a sliding scale by means of which we can reduce them. I am satisfied that that policy will be greatly to the benefit of the public.
– The Government subsidizes the production of raw sugar by bounties, and by that means gives a preference to the Australian refiners.
– But the refiner has to pay full prices for his sugar. It is absolutely untrue that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is in any way interested in the Milliquin Refinery in Queensland.
– Did any one allege that it was?
– If it is not, where is the monopoly?
– The company controls both the growing and the prices.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is both a grower and a refiner. It makes its profits partly from growing and partly from refining. I asked the manager of the company the other day how it was that so good a profit was made in a particular year, and he explained it by the fact that in that year there was a rise in the price of sugar throughout the world, and that consequently his company shared in that advantage. I may also mention, as proving that there is no monopoly, that I have heard that Poolman and Company, who at present carry on business in Melbourne, are also about to establish a Sydney refinery. There is no connexion’ between that refinery and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– But the company practically controls the Australian trade, and could crush the other little companies out of existence.
– I do not admit that at all. The statement that the company controls prices is absolutely untrue. It exercises no control whatever over the retailers. Once a purchaser has bought his sugar he can do with it whatever he likes.
– Can he buy sugar from any otherrefinery ?
– And still get the rebate from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ?
– I presume so. Senator Givens. - I will show that that is not so, directly.
– Senator Givens was quite wrong in the statements which he made about the cost of refining. It has to be remembered that large discounts come off the published selling price.
– Does not the company give rebates on the condition that a purchaser deals exclusively with it?
– These are merely statements. The honorable senator cannot prove them.
– Here it is in black and white - in the company’s own agreement.
– Senator Givens was under the impression that the freight on sugar was only 9s. per ton. As a matter of fact, it averages more than double that amount. There is a mistake to begin with. Add to this the cost of sacks, harbor dues, insurance, exchange, &c, . and the total reaches more than three times the amount that Senator Givens mentioned. When alleged facts are given that are shown to be absolutely wrong, honorable senators are - unintentionally, of course - misled, and draw wrong conclusions.
– How much does the company pay to the Adelaide Steamship Company for carrying sugar?
– I do not know. I am not. behind the scenes.
– Then how dares the honorable senator to contradict my statement ?
– Because I have obtained my information from the manager of the company. Senator Givens has merely obtained his information from some newspapers.
– I am speaking of what I know.
- Senator Givens is a very excellent man in his own estimation -and in that of others, of course - but he is notaccurately informed. My informant saysthat the total price mentioned by Senator Givens has no reference to the sales to manufacturers, and that, as a matter of fact, the manufacturers obtained their pure sugar for the year ending 30th June, 1905, at a rate which left the company a loss on the transaction. There is no reason why the central mills in Queensland should not have had their own refinery.Whydothey not ? It is not the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s fault that they do not.
– They would have to compete against a company which has a very strong monopoly.
– The honorable senator would find it a very hard task to prove that there is a monopoly. I have shown that there are three refineries in existence; possibly four. There is the Millequin Refinery. Poolman and Co., and there is also, I believe, another in the Bundaberg district.
– I do not think there is.
– I quoted my information from the Customs returns, which cannot be disputed.
– My informant says that there are two large mills in the Bundaberg district, with refineries.
– The Gibson Brothers have a large mill, but they are not refiners.
– It is a fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has invested more money in Fiji and NewZealand in the manufacture of sugar than in Queensland and New South Wales; and it enjoys no preference or protection for its refined sugar in New Zealand, having tofight for the trade there just as it does here, and getting it just in proportion to the ability shown to sell a good sugar cheaper than other people. This industry has been built up by specialists after fifty years of hard work. They had hard times in the early portion of their career.
– For how long has the company been paying 10 per cent. dividends ?
– For a good many years. But, as Senator Pulsford has told the Senate, it is not an easy matter to work up a business on a capital of over £2,000,000. The capital of the company now amounts to £2,200,000. It has a reserve fund of £100,000, and a reserve for the equalization of dividends of , £165,000. It is carrying forward £87,000 of undivided profits. That makes, altogether, £2,552,000. I do not include the guarantee and insurance fund, because that, I presume, belongs to the officers. If honorable senators work out those figures, they will find that on its total resources the company is barely earning per cent. And, after all, is that a very -large dividend, considering the risk that the company runs? It has at the present time no less than £2,474,000 invested in refineries and sugar mills, a large amount of which represents plant and rolling-stock. It is quite true that the company goes on writing this amount down, butevery one who has any knowledge of machinery knows that that which may be up to date now may. owing to new inventions, be simply old iron a few years hence. The company is. therefore, bound, in common prudence, to write off considerably from the book-value of such assets as machinery. Furthermore, those who know anything about Queensland are aware that sugar properties have fallen very much in value.
– Nonsense !
– I am interested in land in the Herbert River district, which can be bought to-day for £1 an acre, but which was mortgaged for£3 an acre. The mortgagor valued it at , £12 an acre, and actually refused £8 an acre for it. It is of no use for the honorable senator to tell methat sugar properties have not depreciated, because, unfortunately, I represent persons who have lost money in such investments.
SenatorFindley. - I expect that the monopoly has depreciated the value of the land.
– No, the cause is the dearthof black labour. At present, it is estimated that capital to the amount of £7,000,000 is represented in the sugar industry in Queensland. As the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has only about £2,500.000 invested in Queensland, New South Wales, New Zealand, and Fiji, it is evident that upwards of £4,500,000 belongs to other people. Why do not the owners of that capital start a refinery of their own, if they are dissatisfied with the present system? It has been said that the company has issued its own shares at a premium, but I find this is incorrect. Let me tell Senator Givens that the articles of association of another large concern in which I am interested compel the premium on shares to be put to profit and loss account, but the board always transfers the equivalent to the reserve fund. It is considered that this premium is paidby new shareholders who come into the concern, and that it may legitimately be regarded as the property of the old shareholders.
– Does the honorable senator say that it is legitimate to pay dividends outof capital?
– It would not be doing that. A person pays a premium to come into a company. That premium may legitimately be regarded as theproperty of the previous shareholders. There is nothing wrong in that. The honorable senator also told us that the percentage of refined sugar manufactured by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was 80.6 per cent. Therefore, other refineries are responsible for 19.4 per cent. That is to say, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company manufactures about four-fifths of the whole. But I never heard that 80 per cent. constitutes a monopoly. Surely acompany would require to have 100 per cent. of a certain business to enjoy a monopoly. This company has been one of the very best employers of labour in Australia. It has been in existence for upwards of fifty years. A few years ago Sir Edward Knox completed the jubilee of his marriage, and the whole of the employes of the company subscribed towards a handsome testimonial to signify their deep regard for him.
– We know How those things are worked up.
– The honorable senator might be just to a good man.
– I think the honorable senator must be a Calvinist, because he seems to believe in the utter depravity of human nature. Does he mean to saythat there can be no kindness between an employer and his employes? As an individualist, I do not believe in the Government control of industries, and, therefore, I am totally opposed to nationalizing the sugar industry, though I do not object to the municipalization of certain enterprises. Before I conclude, I wish to say a word or two about the terms of the motion itself. It commences by saying that a monopoly exists. That is not in accordance with fact. It cannot be said that a company that has 80 per cent, of a certain business has the entire control over it. It is also asserted’ that the existence of the company has been inimical to the Commonwealth’. As a matter of fact, it has been the means of assisting many persons in the industry. I know how largely it has rendered assistance in the Mackay district, for instance. There is no compulsion. A person taking a lease is aware of the conditions, and if he takes it on certain conditions, what right has he to find fault ? If I believed that the nationalization of this industry would be for the advantage of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding my individualistic opinions, I should not greatly object to it. I am satisfied, however, that it is a great mistake to interfere unduly with private enterprise. The British Empire has been’ buil’t up by private enterprise. It is all very well when they see a business going on successfully for persons to come in and say to those conducting it, “ We wall take this business from you.” Those who have borne the heat and burden of the day in building up a business are entitled to the benefit to be derived from it. I have no doubt that many a young mam is only too glad to come into the business built up by his father or grandfather. It is all downTight selfishness, and this is a clear case of the “Have-nots” desiring to “get at” the “Haves.”
– The Senate is under an, obligation to Senator Givens for the very able and informative speech he delivered on the difficult sugar question. No doubt the honorable senator has studied the matter carefully, and the valuable information he has supplied will aid us in coming to a decision, not only on the motion under review, but in dealing with the question of the continuation of the bounties to Queensland sugar-growers. Senator Walker has received his information from the manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and therefore, of course, from an impartial source.
– From an authoritative source.
– In spite of that, I venture to think that the evidence we have had shows that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a monopoly. In the first place, it is admitted that they refine 80.6 per cent, of the sugar produced in Australia. It is an undoubted fact that they not only fix the price at which sugar is sold, but the prices at which sugar-cane is bought, and therefore rule the whole sugar industry of Australia. To give a little illustration in opposition to the statement made by Senator Walker, I am able to inform the Senate that when the Tariff was under discussion, certain storekeepers in Western Australia wrote in the ordinary way to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to forward their half-yearly supplies of sugar. The company wrote back to say that at the time their stocks were very low, and though they could let the storekeepers have a little to go on with, they could not forward their ordinary half-yearly supplies. Directly the Tariff was passed, the company put up the price of sugar -£1 01 £2 P61 ton, and wrote these storekeepers to explain that they now had stocks of sugar on hand, and could let them have all they required.
– The honorable senator will admit that if he knows a duty is going to be imposed on a certain article he has for sale, if he is a sensible man, he will keep his goods in stock, until he learns what the duty is to be.
– I do not say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company were not justified in taking that advantage if the laws of the Commonwealth permitted them to do so, but I do say that my illustration is a proof of the fact that they do fix the price of sugar. I have said that they refine 80.6 per cent, of the total sugar production of Australia, and they are able to control not only the buying price, but the selling price of refined sugar. At present the price of sugar in Australia is something like £”20 15s. pelton. From the Times of last month I find that the price of sugar in England is £”17 10s. per ton for the best white Indian sugar, and for beet sugar, 83 per cent., undefined, £”8 1 8s. per ton. We may fairly say that the present price of sugar in Australia is £3 ios. per ton above the world’s price. That is unfortunate, not only for the ordinary consumers of sugar, but for the jam, fruit- preserving, confectionery, and biscuit industries which are springing up and expanding in the Commonwealth. The annual consumption of Australia is approximately 170,000 tons, and our people have to pay for that sugar something like .£595,000 more than they would have to pay if they could buy it at the world’s price. Members of the Federal Parliament do not object to ask the people to make some sacrifices in order to assist the growers of sugar. But it seems to me that the money which the people are paying in this way is going into the pockets of only two classes of persons. First of all, the landlord who rents land to the sugar-growers - and, as Senator Walker has pointed out, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are large land-holders - and in the second place the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. We know that the company have paid 10 per cent, dividends, but my experience of these companies is that very often their declared dividend does not indicate the enormous profits they make. I had occasion to investigate the balancesheet of the Eastern Extension Company very thoroughly. I pointed out the enormous profits they made. They had watered their stock, had bought repairing boats, and built up huge reserves, and their profits were enormous, although their declared profit, expressed in percentages may have been only from 8 to 10 per cent, per annum. The bounties which we are paying go into the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the landlords, to too great an extent’ by far. When I was in Bundaberg I found that there were landlords there who had bought land for £”i per acre, and were actually renting it to the sugar-growers at £”i per acre per annum.
– Was it cleared land?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes.
– What did it cost per acre to clear it ?
– For growing sugar I would pay more for land with the scrub on than for cleared land.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Land that had been bought for £1 per acre was being leased for £”i per acre per annum. That appreciation in price had been brought- about largely by the bounties which the people of the whole of Australia are contributing for the assistance of the sugar industry. As an illustration of what might happen in the future in- connexion with the development of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, I should like to give the Senate some information about the Cartel system which obtains in Germany and Austria. That huge combine is composed of sugar-growers, sugar-millers, and refiners. In Germany, previous to the last Tariff, there was an import duty of £20 per ton and an excise duty of £”io per ton on sugar. The people represented in the Cartel came together; and they said : “ We have £”10 per ton to work upon - the difference between the excise and the import duty - and if we can only control the whole supply we can raise the price of sugar in Germany by £8 per ton.” That is what they actually did. That Cartel - and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is assuming similar proportions in Australia - was able to increase the price of sugar in Germany by £”8 per ton, to the injury of a great many manufacturers and of the poorer people, who look upon sugar as one of the necessaries of life. The action they took made it necessary that they should throw upon the world’s market all their surplus sugar. While thev were able to sell their sugar in “Germany at £8 per ton above the real market price they sold it at less than cost price outside. Beet sugar. 88 per cent., at Hamburg was sold as low as from £6 to £7 per ton, and the action of the Cartel had the effect of practically ruining every unprotected cane-sugar industry outside. We know that the British Government had to vote ,£250,000 to assist the starving sugar-growers in the West Indies. In India, the United States, Canada, and Australia countervailing duties were put on to prevent the introduction of sugar at the extremely low price brought about by the action of those interested in the industry in Germany. We .know that as a result of the Brussels Convention the bounties, which I think amounted to 30s. per ton, were removed. I believe that by the new Tariff in Germany, if the import duty on sugar is not reduced, the excise duty is increased, and consequently the Cartel has to some extent been broken up, and the price of sugar is lower in Germany than it has beensince its institution. This has been followed by an increased consumption of sugar. Whilst the consumption in Germany was previously something like 40 lbs. per head, and in Great Britain 1.00 lbs. per head, now that sugar is cheaper the consumption per head in Germany has greatly increased. There is less German sugar thrown on the markets of the world, and that fact has had the effect of increasing the world’s price for sugar. My reason for mentioning these facts is to suggest that in dealing with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company we should do well to take a warning from the operations of the Cartel system in Germany and Austria. Exactly the same conditions prevailed in Germany as are growing up in Australia, where, as I have said, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company now regulate the buying and selling price of sugar. If tlie increased price which we are paying for sugar at the present time were directed into proper channels, so that the growers might receive the major portion of it, there would not be so much to object to. What we have to fear is not the present conditions, but the conditions likely to arise when we have renewed our bounty obligations for another five years. I have pointed out that the price of sugar in London is £17 ros. per ton, and in Australia £20 15s. per ton. We have imposed an import duty of £6 per ton on ‘sugar, and as soon as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are guaranteed another five years of their present monopoly it will be possible for them to immediately raise the price of sugar by £2 per ton throughout Australia without bringing it up to the price at which foreign sugars can compete in this country. The great danger does not lie in the prices we are paying at present, because the company will be careful not to show their hand until the agreement is renewed. Then, however, the company, composed, as it is, of business men, will undoubtedly take advantage of the opportunity to immediately raise the price to the highest point at which they can sell to the Australian people. We have nationalized! the railways, post and telegraph, and similar services, and in every case the administration has redounded to the credit of the community. We have not, however, nationalized any industries, unless it may be a gold-mine in South Australia, and two or three hotels in Western Australia.
– Have the Government or the municipalities taken over the hotels in Western Australia?
– The Government. The position I take up is that if we find we have exhausted all legislative means to control an industrial monopoly, so as to prevent it becoming oppressive to the people, we are justified in considering the advisableners of nationalization.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Constitution permits us to nationalize any industry ?
– I do not wish to enter into any discussion on the Constitution, the difficult points of which I do not feel myself competent to decide. This is an abstract motion, which I shall support. It might be advisable, though not, perhaps, absolutely necessary, for the Queensland Government, if they would consent to do so, to buy out the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. But the less expensive way, perhaps, would be for the State Government, who finance the Central Mills, to establish refineries at one or two of the big centres, and there have a fixed price which would, doubtless, govern the trade price in Australia. We must, in some way, renew the agreement with Queensland in regard to the sugar bonus. The time will come when we must decide one way or another whether the contract shall be renewed, s.ay, for five years. I do not object’ to the renewal, which means the payment of thousands of pounds by my constituents in Western Australia, if we are sure that the money finds its way to the growers who are producing the cane. But I have been looking into this matter somewhat carefully, and I observe that the tendency is to appreciate the value of sugarcane lands in Queensland, and increase the rents claimed by the landlords, or, on the other hand’, to increase the profits of the company. I think I am correct in saying that the money taken from the various States, and handed1 over in the shape of a bonus, goes principally into the pockets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and of the landlords. If we renew the agreement for five years, without imposing legislative safeguards, there will be nothing to prevent the company from immediately raising the price of sugar by ,£2 per ton, and thus imposing a hardship, not only on the poorer classes, who use sugar daily, but also on jam-makers, fruit-preservers, confectioners,, and others. The object and intent of the bonus is to benefit the sugar-growers, and not the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, or the owners of the cane lands.
– This motion represents an attempt to deal with a question which has recently given me a great deal of trouble, and in connexion with which I have for a long time advocated that something should be done. The difficulty, so far as I can see, is that there is “no business” in the motion, which, even if carried, will leave the sugar industry in exactly the same position it is in at the present moment. I am tired of passing abstract propositions, and in my opinion the time has come when, action should in every case follow resolution. I am extremely anxious that something should be done to place the sugar industry on a sound business footing, because, otherwise, the Commonwealth, within a very short period, will become tired of bolstering the industry up, with the consequence that confusion will become worse confounded, and that a departure in a direction which may not be agreeable to some of us will be advocated in certain quarters. Therefore I think that it is of the very highest importance that some business proposition, which can not only be voted on, but carried into effect, ought to be placed before the country. The purport of the motion is that the refining and distribution of sugar ought to be made a Government monopoly ; and, if it be carried, the first step will be to buy out the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Not necessarily; if the company refused to sell, the Commonwealth could not buy.
– But if the Commonwealth Parliament passed an Act nationalizing the industry, the company would be compelled to sell.
– Not necessarily; the Commonwealth could establish sugar works.
– It is apparent to me that Senator de Largie has not grasped the scope of the motion,, and I question very much whether Senator Givens has. The motion declares for an Australian monopoly in sugar refining.
– That is different from buying out the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– We must buy out the company. Does the honorable senator advocate that the Commonwealth should shut up the company’s works by force, and’ give no compensation ?
– That is a different matter. The honorable senator .said that the Commonwealth must buy out the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Although Senator de Largie has evidently given the matter some consideration, he does not appear to understand it yet.
– Would the Com- . monwealth have to give the company any price the company liked to fix ?
– I never hinted that the Commonwealth, would have to do so.
– Then where does the word “ must “ come in?
– We must compensate the company if we forcibly stop their operations. It is of no use discussing’ questions of this kind in a loose, airy, profitless fashion. There has’ been too much ‘ of that in the past, and, so far as I amconcerned, there will be less of it in thefuture. Let us suppose that the Commonwealth pass an Act nationalizing the industry, and, in fact, telling the company that they must stop business. The company would at once, of course, demand compensation, and the matter would be referred to arbitration. I shall not attempt to say what would be a fair sum, but I have a very shrewd idea as to what claim thecompany would be likely to submit. The capital of the company is £2,200,000, and’ the dividends, roughly speaking, amount to- £200,000, or 10 per cent. If the Government go to any private individual, and for thecommon good nationalize the industry inwhich he is engaged, the community must in .fairness compensate that individual. That is a principle with which I thinkeven the most advanced advocate of” nationalization will agree. .If we take a man’s business or land for the good of the public, justice demand’s that he shall not’ suffer, but shall be given reasonable compensation. I should not like to say what reasonable compensation would be; but if I were a large shareholder in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, I should say to the Commonwealth, “You have decided to take this business out of our hands. I have shares which now yield me an annual income of £2,000, and I expect that you will make such arrangements with me as will secure to me an equal income.”
– That would be impossible.
– Capitalize their right to fleece the public !
– I am simply pointing out that most likely that claim would be advanced by the shareholders. I do not say that the company either would or should agree to these terms.
– That would make eternal the monopolistic right which they now have.
– It is not eternal.
– But the honorable senator would make it eternal.
– I hope the honorable senator will realize that I am not saying ;what the company should get, but simply stating the claim which they would be likely to make. If we were to compensate them to that extent the Commonwealth would immediatetly require to raise a loan of about £7,000,000, which, at 3 per cent., would give the shareholders in the company their £200,000 a year. I do not think that the Commonwealth would be likely to agree to such terms. The capital now invested in the industry is about £2,000,000, and I estimate that the lowest compensation that the company would be awarded by any Arbitration Court would be £3,000,000.
– According to the company, £2,000,000 is invested in the Fiji and New Zealand business, and a considerable portion is invested in plantations and landed property which my motion does not propose to touch. Where is the honorable senator’s business acumen now?
– Take it at even one-half. I am not sure of the figures; but I know that a very considerable proportion of the company’s capital is invested in works outside Australia. But if Senator Givens will turn up the article which appeared in the Age of 7th September last, he will find that the profits of the company were at the rate of £2 a ton for re fining, or almost equivalent to the value of the Australian consumption of sugar, ?f> that really the largest proportion of their revenues is derived from their Australian business. In any case, at the lowest estimation, even taking the honorable senator’s last estimate, between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 would be required to buy out the company’s rights. Apart altogether from the constitutional aspect of the question, I ask honorable senators whether it is likely that the Parliament, as it is constituted, would’ agree to go upon the market for the purpose of borrowing either £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to embark in this industry?
– According to the . honorable senator’s figures the Common-‘ wealth would make a big profit, because it would borrow at the rate of 3 per cent., and get a profit of 10 per cent.
– I do not think that the profit to be made by the Government would be at all equal to the profit made by the present company, because I recognise that the former would have to pay very much higher wages than have been paid by the latter.
– Will the honorable senator say for a moment that” cheap wages insure a greater profit?
– I do not know. “The company get their labour as cheaply as they possibly can.
– They could still pay bigger wages and leave a margin of profit.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator that the company could! still pay bigger wages, and leave a very handsome margin. But I began by asking whether this is a business proposition, whether, if the motion be carried, the Parliament is prepared1 to carry it into effect. As, it is now constituted, I think there is just as much hope of the Parliament talcing up this question in a practical fashion as there is of it making a railway to the moon. I am anxious that something should be done in connexion with the sugar industry. One disadvantage attaching to the acceptance of this motion is that when I go to Queensland and advocate, as I have done for years pas.t, that its Government should establish State refineries, seeing that it has invested about £750,000 in the industry, I shall be met with the objection that there is a resolution of the Senate in favour of nationalization. I shall know that there is not the slightest hope of the Common- wealth Parliament doing anything in the matter. and that, because of the Senate’s resolution, the State Parliament will not do anything. Like Mahomet’s coffin, the whole question will be hung up between heaven and earth. I have no doubt that Senator Givens moved this motion with the best intentions, and, as an abstract proposition, I have nothing to say against it. I am in favour of nationalizing monopolies every time. The need for something to be done in connexion with the sugar industry is of a most urgent character. Some action must be taken in this direction. Either the Commonwealth must take the matter up, and I do not believe that it will-
– It cannot without an alteration of the Constitution being made.
– That is a point on which I do not wish to give an opinion. But if the honorable senator’s view be correct, that is all the more reason why we should not pass this motion. I conceive that it is the duty of Queensland to. carry out its policy of central mills to a logical conclusion, bv establishing central refineries, as it could easily do. It has, I repeat, about £”750,000 invested in the industry, and for £”200,000 or £300,000 it could establish one or two refineries which would be in a position to refine all the sugar grown in that State and New South Wales. Let us look at another aspect of the question. Suppose that we did not establish an Australian monopoly, t»ut started a refinery or refineries in opposition to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company : where should we get our- raw sugar? There would be immediately a struggle between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, if I may use the term, the Commonwealth Refining Company. We should have exactly the same position with regard to sugar that we now have in the case of the Eastern Extension Company and the Pacific Company. For a time they would, probably cut each other’s throat, and end up by “pooling.” So far as I can see, the Commonwealth Refining Company would be compelled to enter the market in competition with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, as the latter has, a number of sugar plantations, the former would have no sure supply of raw product. The Queensland central mills would get their refining done by one company, or the other, just as it suited them.
– They do not get their refining done that way now. They simply sell the raw sugar.
– It comes to the same thing. The Queensland central mills would send their raw sugar to the company which was paying the higher price. It would be very undesirable for the Commonwealth Refining Company to be placed in the position of a competitor with a private company.
– It might be a very good thing for the success of the State refineries.
– It might be a very good thing for the growers of cane, but my impression is that it would be a very bad thing ultimately for the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, and certainly it would not be a very good object-lesson in the nationalistic idea. While I s.hall vote for the motion as an abstract proposition I think it is high time that we tried to do something practical.
– Can the honorable senator suggest an amendment?
– No; because I rea l.ize that if the resolution of the Senate involves the expenditure of money the Commonwealth will not move hand or foot. It is absolutely necessary if the sugar industry is to be placed upon a proper basis that the immense profits which now go into the pockets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - or a portion of those profits - should go to the growers. Otherwise the men in the fields cannot be properly remunerated ; nor can the men in the mills, nor the farmers, nor, indeed, any one in connexion with the industry. As I have pointed out dozens and dozens of times during the last few years in Queensland, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company takes the cream of the industry. But this motion does not strike at the monopoly at all. It does nothing that is practicable. Even if we carry it, the effect will merely be as if we stood in the middle of a street, and waved a. flag. It may, as I have pointed out, even have this bad effect - that it will divert the attention of the people of Queensland to the Commonwealth, instead of inducing them to put pressure upon the State Parliament to take some action in the way of establishing State refineries.
– Why does the honorable senator propose to vote for the motion if it will have a bad effect?
-I think that Senator Givens must see that it may, and probably will, have the effect which I have suggested.
– If it probably will have that effect, the honorable senator certainly ought not to vote for it.
– Does any one expect that the Commonwealth Government will take immediate action in this matter as the result of the carrying of this motion? If not, what is the use of carrying it? It will be one of those harmless motions which are very nice to read, and ail that sort of thing, but which do not take us any further forward. That is my objection to it. The Commonwealth is not prepared to embark in an industry of this kind.’ Some people .raise the constitutional objection, but even if that disappears there remains this other objection - that -a large number of the members of the present Parliament object to borrowing money for any purpose whatever.
– If both Houses ofthis Parliament carried such a motion, does the honorable senator think that the Commonwealth Government would take over the industry?
– I do not think so.
– The honorable senator thinks that the Commonwealth Parliament would not insist on something being done. He used the same argument in connexion with the iron industry.
-The honorable senator does not know what I think on this or any other subject, except so far as I express my thoughts. I am not fond of passing airy resolutions which mean nothing, which can end in nothing, which cannot be fruitful. I want to see some real progress made. What is the use of talking about Socialism and nationalization, if we do not do anything?
– That is very just criticism, if we do nothing ; but the honorable senator wants to do something. Let him tell us what he wants to do.
– I want the State Government to take this matter in hand. I have for years advocated the establishment of State refineries.
– I moved a similar motion to this over four years ago, but could not induce the State Parliament to accept it.
– If it* is difficult to induce the State Parliament to do it, it will be much more difficult to induce the Commonwealth Parliament. I have pointed out some of the difficulties. Senator Givens smiles. I know that with his bright optimistic temperament, he sees no obstacles in his path.
– I have stumbled over the honorable senator as an obstacle.
– I told the honorable senator the very day he put this motion on the paper what I thought of it. ‘
– Though Senator Stewart thinks it is bad, he will vote for it.
– I do not think that it is so much bad as useless. It is a mere pious expression of opinion to which I .ha ve no objection. Indeed, I believe in nationalization. Every man who knows me. if he speaks the honest truth, knows that I have always during my career as a politician advocated the nationalization of monopolies.
– By throwing cold water on definite proposals.
– There are some people who are so narrow-minded that if any other person does not see exactly as the)’ see, they call motives in question. I am content to bear all that. But I wish’ Senator de Largie to know that I have given much more attention to this question than he has ever been called upon to give to it. I advocated that the State should establish refineries from dozens of platforms in Queensland, as Senator Givens knows.
– Hear, hear.
– I am merely criticising this motion, because I consider it to be nothing, more nor less than fireworks.
– What does the honorable senator call platform orations?
– They are not fireworks with me. -
– Efforts to catch votes.
– t am not a votecatcher. I never concealed my real opinions to get votes. I do not know whether* the honorable senator has done that. I hope he has not. It is a most immoral thing to do, and one that no honest man would dream of doing. I am sure that I have never attempted it, and I think that, no matter how long mv connexion with politics may last, though they say that after a man has been a considerable time in politics he becomes demoralized, if I feel like doing anything in the nature of cadging for votes I shall come to the conclusion that it is time I got out of politics. I have said several times, and I repeat, that I really wish to see something, done - something substantial - in connexion with the sugar industry, and that I consider that it is almost a pity that a motion of this character has been submitted to the Senate.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).It seems to me .that both the mover of this motion and Senator de Largie have approached it entirely from the socialistic stand-point. As they are Socialists we might naturally expect them to do so.
– We are practical Socialists at that.
-The last speaker has shown the practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the aspirations of the supporters of the motion. Fm myself, I conceive that there is no possibility of the Federal Government entering into such a risky undertaking as trading in sugar. It is all very well to say that the sugar industry produces large profits. Sometimes it does.
– There is an artificial price just now.
– Any industry which is very risky must occasionally produce large profits in order to recoup itself for bad years. But if this Commonwealth were to put itself in the position of incurring heavy risks by investing a very large amount of capital in sugar, the people would have a very severe loss staring them in the face in a very few years. Senator de Largie has accused the Colonial Sugar* Refining Company of encouraging1 the employment of coloured aliens to the exclusion of whites. I took exception to that statement, and I do so still. The company is not a cultivator of cane, except to a very small extent.
– It is a land-owner.
-r-The company owns a considerable amount of land, much of which is leased to white people. Take Dr. Maxwell’s recent report. He shows that in 1902 there were 1,521 white growers of sugar. In 1905 there were 2.681, showing an increase of upwards of 1,000.
– That increase did pot take place on the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s plantations.
– I think that it is largely due to the company’s influ ence), and to the production by white people on its land on the Isis and elsewhere.
– Has that increase kept pace with the output of sugar in Queensland ?
– It is extremely difficult to make a calculation of that kind. With regard to the production of sugar, the latest report issued by the company, pf which I have a copy, states -
We anticipate that the large beet crop now being taken off in Europe will make itself felt in the price of sugar throughout the world, but the markets there are now steadied greatly by the increase of domestic consumption which has followed the abolition of bounties on the Continent.
Senator Smith has told us something about the cultivation of sugar on the Continent of Europe. I wrote a long letter on this subject to the Launceston Ex aminer some three years ago, giving full particulars. Germany alone produces 2,300,000 tons of sugar, and only consumes 700,000 tons, so that she has a very large amount of sugar available for export. In the face of that large quantity, which is partly available for export to this country, it is manifestly impossible, with the low duty of £,6 per ton, for the Colonial Sugar Refining- Company to raise the price of sugar in Australia ,£3 per ton as stated above the cost of imported sugar, or anything, like it. The price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s sugar is based upon the price in the world’s markets, and nothing, else. As business men, of course they go as near to the world’s price as they possibly can, as we might naturally expect them to do. If we were to raise the duty to £9, the simple effect would be to increase the price to the consumer. It is very clear that some honorable senators who have spoken on this matter seem to think that they are going to heLp the worker by abolishing one of the best labour-employing institutions in the country. The company has available a very large capital, and it employs labour at fair prices. The company bases its price for juice on the price of the sugar which it sells. Is not that fair? There is no attempt to create a monopoly. It is clear that if we injure the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, by taking away its refinery, we must in the first instance injure the small producer by taking away his best buyer. Honorable senators opposite say that (he company having a monopoly can pay whatever price it chooses.
That is not so. There are other refineries which purchase raw sugar. The growers in Queensland can, if they choose, establish their own refineries. They tried the experiment, but could not make it pay ; and they have no right now to turn round upon a company that does make the business pay, and say, “ This is a monopoly, and therefore we must take your property. “ Senator Stewart has very thoughtfully pointed out what will be the result to the country of nationalizing the industry. Honorable senators opposite advocate a non-borrowing policy. Is it likely that it will be possible to obtain several millions of money locally for the purpose of purchasing the property of the company? The thing is a chimera. Honorable senators tell us that we are not to borrow money in Great Britain or other countries abroad. Are we likely to be able to borrow it here for such a purpose as going into the sugar industry ? I know something of the trade in sugar. I have been shown, by the courtesy of Senator Givens, a selling contract carried out in Adelaide. I know that in Tasmania the Colonial Sugar Refining- Company sell their sugar, except to the manufacturers, month bymonth, in such a way that the purchasers may, any month or any day, purchase where they like. But, according to the quantities they buy, so they get their discount for cash. There is no monopoly about that. There is no attempt to force the buyer to buy from this particular company. The buyer only buys from this company because it pays him to do so. We have Poolman and Company making a very good sugar, almost as good as that supplied by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and selling it at a slightly lower price than that charged for the company’s sugar. Buyers can buy from Poolman and Company if they please. I find from the report before me that-
Messrs. Poolman and Company have for many years been engaged in sugar refining in Melbourne, but are now about to erect a small refinery in Sydney, and will commence work some time next year.
That discloses no monopoly. If it will pay Poolman’ and Company to import sugars and refine them, it will pay others to do the same. As a matter of fact, the industry is carried on so admirably, and on such a very small scale of profit, that it is verydifficult to .induce capitalists to embark further in it. Before they will do so, they must see their way to run great risks, and must have a large! trade balance to keep them going. Naturally they must expect, in some years, to make a heavy loss. I understand that last ‘year the Colonial Sugar Refining Company made some low contracts, and in consequence of the very high prices (ruling for Java and other sugars, they had to sell their sugar at an actual loss. They raised their prices it is true month by month to the ordinary customer ; but recently they have been reducing the price month by month. So they will continue to- be guided by the markets of the world in the price they charge to the consumer here. That is a perfectly legitimate business, honestly carried out, and possibly profitably carried out also; but it is certainly a first-class business for the consumer.
– They pay only £9 7s. 6d. on the capital invested.
– I understand from Senator Walker that the company do not get a return of even 10 per cent, on the capital invested. Not very many years ago the company were not carrying on at a profit at all. Perhaps I ought not to refer to that, as it is no concern of the Senate. It is sufficient to say that the business is extremely risky. Some friends of my own in Queensland entered into the! business of refining sugar, and very soon lost from £60,000 to £80,000. That is an indication of what the Government may expect if th’ey take up an industry of this kind, and attempt to work it in competition with the world. This is a very different matter from that to which Senator Trenwith referred. The honorable senator explained at great length the wonderful benefit which followed from the taking over of the Glasgow tramways by the corporation of that city. There were particular reasons accounting for the benefits arising in that case. The business was commenced with horse trams, and the introduction of electricity has made a wonderful difference. It must not be forgotten that Senator Givens is asking that the Government should undertake a manufacturing business, and it will not be found to be a business in which there are all profits and no returns. Senator de Largie admitted that cultivation bv white labour is decreasing rather than increasing.
– What I said was that cultivation by black labour is increasing.
– Cultivation by white labour is not increasing in proportion.
– Yes, it is.
– Whitegrown sugar represents one-third of the total production, leaving two-thirds to be produced bv black labour. If honorable senators will read Dr. Maxwell’s report, quite recently issued, they will find* that he says that white labour progresses almost wholly within the southern and central districts. The black sugar areas are in the hands of 750 large growers, or farmers, in the northern, and of plantation owners in the district of Bundaberg and southern districts. His statement is to this effect -
If the bonus is continued for seven years more without increase, it would tend to fall below not to exceed the cost of substituting white labour for black, because it was based on the cost of labour and conditions existing when the bonus was first fixed. With the progress of white production, white labour must increase in cost, and therefore 1o terminate the present bonus on the sliding scale would be to assume the great experiment approaching maturity, and confirm the larger growers to hold lo the employment of aliens.s I would suggest that the duty of £6 per ton should not be increased, as-it would tend to encourage stagnation and slovenly ways of production, but I would suggest the raising of the excise to £4.
He says that the production of sugar by black labour in the north is increasing, or is not being taken up by white people, as we anticipated. In certain of the districts it is found that some of the small white farmers will not work themselves, but will employ white labour. In the northern districts, they cannot obtain white labour, and they have to employ black labour.
– Who cannot obtain white labour? Why does not the honor - n DIe senator speak about matters of which he knows something?
– White farmers cannot obtain white labour in the northern districts.
– They can get any amount of white labour.
– Is the honorable senator a better authority than Dr. Maxwell ?
– He does not say that thev cannot get white labour.
– Yes. he does. He says that white labourers do not return the second year. In a report before me, I find this statement made -
At some of the mills it was not possible, owing to the crushing finishing early, to judge of the effect of the increasing heat upon the steadiness of the men, and upon their daily output, but in every case (excepting at Hambledon, where the white men work in short spells in the hot weather), in which the season extended well into December, there was a falling off in the tonnage delivered. From Macknade it was reported that the white men presented a pitiful sight after the season’s cutting, and it is recommended in the event of white men only being employed, that the harvesting should be so regulated that crushing will be completed by the end of November at the latest.
I commend that to Senator Givens as the recommendation of one of the mill managers. Further -
The experience generally in 1903 was anything but promising for an increase in the area of white grown and harvested cane. The only locality in which the employment of the white labourer in the canefields is looked upon with favour is the Isis and it is reasonable to assume after the experience in ‘95 and ‘96 seasons that this class of labour can be successfully worked there - despite the poor results of last year - provided the men are controlled. Another point in favour of white men in this district is the large number of local people who undertake work in the canefields. This advantage is also possessed by Homebush.
One of the greatest drawbacks to the employment of white labour experienced at Macknade, is the great difficulty in keeping men for more than two or three weeks at ordinary cane cultivation work - especially weeding and thrashing - during the early months of the year, when the weather is very trying. Other features noticeable last year which tell against the white men were their absolute refusal to cut light crops, excepting at exorbitant rates, and the indifferent quality of the work performed, especially the thrashing.
From all this it is very clear that we are being asked to attempt something against nature in forcing white men into this industry to undertake work in the tropical north which can only be accomplished by natives of the tropics.
– I rise to a point of order. My motion has no reference whatever to the cultivation of sugar-cane in Northern Queensland. I ask whether the honorable senator’s continued references to this subject are in order?
– I cannot say that they are out of order. I think that several honorable senators have made such references.
Senator- Givens. - With all respect, I think they were all out of order.
– I called honorable senators to order, but they did not .seem inclined to obey me. I do not think that Senator Macfarlane is. out of order. In discussing a motion which suggests that the Commonwealth should undertake a work iia connexion with the sugar industry an argument as to the way in which sugar-cane can best be grown is, I think, a relevant argument.
– I was endeavouring to show that if the Government took over the sugar refineries, there would be difficulty in obtaining sufficient sugar produced by white labour. If Senator Givens had shown that it was possible to get sufficient sugar of the kind1 for the purposes of a large refining business, he would have done good service to this country ; but, so far as I can see, there is no prospect of such a desirable achievement. Nature is against the production of sugar by white labour ; and1 in this connexion, the figures of Dr. Maxwell are very valuable. The employment of white labour decreases the further north the industry is carried on. I do not know that I have anything further to say, except to emphasize the fact that the price of sugar is entirely dependent on the price prevailing throughout the world. In the report from which I have already quoted, it is stated that the large beet crop in Europe will make itself felt in the price of sugar throughout the world. There is no monopoly on the part of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company) and no effort to fleece the small consumer or any consumer. A perfectly legitimate business is carried on. and I am perfectly sure that the Commonwealth could not conduct the enterprise bv any means as cheaply as it is conducted by the company.
– Do the company not keep the price up to the highest limit?
– I ‘know that the company do not go beyond what is fair, compared with prices elsewhere. I ask leave to continue my remarks on another occasion.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Order of the Day called on for the resumption of the debate (adjourned from 2nd November, vide page 4492) on motion by Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question put, and resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ Message on amendments recommended by the Governor-General) :
Clause 1 (Interpretation) -
Amendments recommended. No. 1. - After the words “body of persons” insert tlie words “‘corporate or unincorporate.”
No. 2. - Omit the words “ incorporated or regulated or enabled to sue and be sued by any charter or Act and.”
House of Representatives’ Message. -
Amendment No. 1 agreed to with the following amendments : - Add to the words “ corporate or unincorporate “ the following words : - “ associated together with the object either solely or amongst others of carrying on and in fact lawfully under the laws of the State carrying on the business of granting policies upon lives or entering into contracts for future endowments by way of annuity or otherwise,” and then insert the words as so amended, after the word “ society,” in line 7, instead of after the words “body of persons.”
Amendment No. 2 agreed to, and, as a consequential amendment on the amendments made, all the remaining words in lines 9 to 12 omitted.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The amendments are purely formal. The Bill was not drafted by the parliamentary draftsman, but by counsel in Sydney, and in another place was introduced as a private measure by Mr. Groom, who asked me to take charge of it in the Senate. After the Bill had passed both Houses, practically without opposition, it was discovered that certain alterations in the drafting were needed, and a Message from the GovernorGeneral - which, of course, means the Executive - recommending certain amendments was received by another place. Those amendments were agreed to, with certain additions, as shown in the schedule.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– Before the Bill passes from the Senate, I wish to make a few remarks. It naturally divides itself into two parts. Clause 9 provides that no person shall import any goods to which a false trade description applies, and clause 13 contains a similar provision in regard to falselymarked exports. With those clauses every honorable senator is in accord, because he desires to stop fraud. So far the Bill commands the support of every one. But it brings into play other provisions which, in my judgment, are as bad as those clauses are good. I refer to the clauses which require that goods shall be branded as prescribed. These requirements are an undue interference with trade, and so far they are unwise. The regulations which under the Act must be brought into play will be very numerous. The penalties which, through the incorporation of the Bill with the Customs Act, will be brought into force, are very severe, and liable to do a great deal of harm. I ask the attention of honorable senators to the mass of material called Customs decisions, which I hold in my hand. It is almost impossible for dealers in goods to keep up with all the decisions. Here is a book which is kept in the Library, and in which new decisions have been pasted. We were told, in reply to a question I asked some time ago, that the decisions in regard to descriptions of goods totalled 10,000. To give one instance of the possibilities which are being created, I shall refer to cotton socks. If cotton socks are imported, and they have on the side a “ clock “ of silk, then, under the Customs Act, they have to be entered as silk goods, and pay duty as such. To that extent the Customs Act requires the importer to make a false description, and to declare as. silk goods articles which he will sell as cotton goods. There is no mistake about the possibility of errors of this description ; there is no mistake about the possibility of trouble occurring to our traders. Those who knew more about the requirements, possibilities, and conditions of trade than others did, felt themselves called upon, by every consideration of duty, to press their views upon the Senate. In my second-reading speech, I referred to commerce as being by this Bill put under the heel of the Minister. How correctly I stated the real truth of the case has since been shown, because honorable senators are well aware that time after time when asked, the Minister could not give an explanation. He could not point to what was likely to be done in regard to the grading of goods. He could not tell us what goods the Government intended to order to be graded ; he could not tell us what the expenditure was likely to be in carrying out this important measure, if it is to be carried out with that fulness which he led us to believe was necessary. We could get no information as to the fees which were contemplated to be charged to importers or exporters. On all these points we could get no information. We saw that the Bill was being pushed rapidly along. To adopt the phrase of Senator Givens, we saw that the Bill was being “belted” through its second-reading stage after a debate which occupied only a day and a-half. I shall not refer to what occurred during the Committe: stage. But when the matter was referred to yesterday, what did we hear ? We heard Senator Givens talk about the “belting” ‘ and Senator Stewart talk about the “gag.” These are the necessary consequences of Bills which unduly and improperly interfere with trade, and put heavy burdens upon traders, regardless of their rights and liberties. When the rights and liberties of traders are attacked in the way in which they are attacked by this Bill, then it is the most natural thing in the world to hear one honorable senator talking about the Opposition ‘being “belted,” and another honorable senator talking about the “gag” being applied. It shows where the legislation of Australia is drifting to. If at any time it were desirable that the Federal Parliament should be careful in what it was doing; if at any time it was necessary for Australia to rise to a higher level, this was the time. We ought to ha.ve passed the Bill with its good clauses, designed to attack fraudulent trading, and let alone this attempt to compel unnecessary things to be done. I have not risen to-night to go into this matter again fully. I shall content myself with a very earnest appeal to all those engaged in the administration of the measure to fully, faithfully, and earnestly car-ry ‘out the clauses which deal with actual fraud in matters of imports or exports, and to act with the greatest care, caution, and hesitancy in bringing about those new conditions which are likely to hamper our trade and commerce.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– For the purpose of making a verbal amendment, I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3.
As the clause came to the Senate it contained a redundancy providing that with regard to all copies of Acts which have been amended, a reference should appear on the face of each copy to the amendments which have been inserted therein [by subsequent legislation. In order to overcome that difficulty, the -clause was amended last night to read as follows: -
There shall be printed upon the first page of every copy issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement been amended a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended.
I desire the clause to be recommitted in order to substitute the word “ reprint “ for the word “copy.” In its present form the clause would prevent the Government Printer from selling or issuing a print of an original Act after it had been amended. It would make it absolutely necessary that every copy of an original Act should1 bear in print the reference mentioned in the section. Obviously the object of the amendment which was made here last night was only to make every reprint of an Act after it had been amended bear that indication.
– Why should the Government Printer issue an original Act after it has been amended ?
– There may be a necessity for so doing. Last night I pointed out that a reprint, with the date of the amendment, will contain, the law as it stands, and there will be a reference either by marginal note or bv foot-note to the source of each section. If any person wishes to get all the enactments separately he may do so. For instance, after getting the reprint of an Act he mav want to get the original Act in its entirety, but under the- clause as it stands the Government Printer would be absolutely prevented from selling him a copy of it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 3 -
There shall be printed upon the first page of every copy issued by the Government Printer of any Act which has before or after the commencement of this Act been amended a short reference to every Act by which it has been amended.
Amendment “(by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the word “ copy” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ reprint.”
– This is a most extraordinary situation. Although this clause was amended last night at the Minister’s instigation., yet within the short space of twenty-four hours he is endeavouring to redraft it because it is entirely wrong.
– Ought he to leave it wrong?
– The Minister ought to have studied the subject before he addressed the Senate last night. It is making a laughing-stock of the Senate for him to come along one night with carefully studied amendments, and ask us to agree to them, and then on the following evening come here, and state that those amendments are useless. Whilst he has accused honorable senators on this side of obstruction, he has himself wasted the time of the Senate by proposing useless amendments. Is there to be any finality to the amendment of clause 3 of this Bill f I know what will happen ‘ next week. We shall have the measure returned with a message from the GovernorGeneral suggesting that we should again reconsider the Bill to adopt some further amendments, simply because the honorable senator does not take the trouble to ascertain the effect of the amendments he submits to the Senate. In an experience of the business of the Senate since its inauguration, I have never had occasion to comment upon a more slovenly piece of work. The Senate will pass the amendments now proposed, and we shall go home satisfied that, although we have been unable to suggest amendments upon, them, they will be entirely ineffectual for the purpose for which they have been submitted. .
– Before the amendment is put, I should like to say that I had not the Bill before me, and the amendment as submitted is not correct. What I desire to propose is that the words “ upon the first page of every copy “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ on every reprint.” Last night, when I moved the amendment to the clause, and when Senator Matheson was not present, I indicated that the object then was to prevent redundancy. It was only a question of drafting. I point out, and I think it is a representation entitled to some consideration, that this clause was inserted in the Bill in another place. I moved an amendment which affected the drafting, made it more concise, and prevented repetition. Since that amendment was agreed to a representation has been made to the Government, through the Government Printing Office, that if the clause were passed as it stands at present, it would absolutely prevent the Government
Printer from issuing even bound volumes of Statutes. For instance, bound copies of our Statutes, including the original Defence Act and Electoral Act, have already been issued, and to issue any of these copies hereafter it would be necessary, under this clause, to print upon the first page of such Acts the matters required by the clause. It is therefore necessary to limit the operation of the clause to reprints. I therefore move -
That the words “ upon the first page of every copy” be left out, with a view to insert in Heu thereof the words “ on every reprint.”
– So far from blaming the Honorary Minister, I think we should thank him for having noticed the defect in the Bill so quickly. The honorable senator’s explanation reminds me of the modern definition of an apology - that it is a confession that you are wiser now than you were on a former occasion. In that sense I think we can accept the honorable senator’s apology.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - If any justification were needed for my remarks, it is supplied bv the fact that Senator Keating has already, within fiveminutes, had to withdraw his first amendment, with a view to submit another. We are obliged blindly to follow the advice given us by the honorable senator, who has so admirably displayed his intelligence and his mastery of this important measure and his amendments.
– It is necessary that the first amendment moved should be withdrawn before I can put the amendment last submitted by the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator MATHESON (Western Australia). - I should like to add my comment on the situation that the honorable senator shows such a mastery of parliamentary methods and practice that he forgets to withdraw his first amendment before submitting a second one. This is treating the Senate with the most unbounded contempt.
Amendment (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That the words “ upon the first page of every copy” be left out, with a view toinsert in lieu thereof “ on every reprint.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported, with a further amendment.
High Commissioner Bill - Western
Australia : Asiatics - Immigration Restriction Act : Contract Labour - Defence Forces - Rifle and Artillery Ranges - Defence Policy.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 4859), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I desire to make a few remarks on the first reading of this Bill, under standing order 182, which permits us to discuss on the first reading of Bills which the Senate may not amend, matters not relevant to the subjectmatter of those Bills. This opportunity takes the place of what is called “ Grievance day “ in other Legislative Assemblies, My particular grievance is the dropping from the notice-paper of another place of the ‘High Commissioner Bill.I cannot understand why that measure should have been taken off the notice-paper and other measures put there, which the Government cannot possibly hope to have carried this session. We have heard a great deal about the necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner. Nearly every. Government except the Reid Government made a point of putting in the forefront of its programme the appointment of such an official to represent the Commonwealth in London. Mr. Reid said that he did cot think the time was opportune; but all the other Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth - Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Deakin again - have dwelt at some length on the necessity for the appointment of a representative of the Commonwealth, who would be able to reply to the slanders circulated throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales by opponents of Australian legislation and by interested parties at the other end of the world. It is difficult to account for the change of front on the part of the present Prime Minister unless we may assume that the decision of the Senate in favour oftaking a ballot in reference to the appointment of the High Commissioner has led to his action.
– Can any one doubt that ?
– I do not doubt it at all. It is my firm conviction that the reason why the Government have dropped the Bill is that the Senate passed a resolution providing that the High Commissioner, whoever he may be, should be selected by a ballot of the two Houses. I was told, as soon as we adopted that resolution by 15 votes to 10, “ The Government will shelve the Bill.”
– The honorable senator was a prophet.
– Those who told me so were the prophets. The action of the Government has confirmed that opinion. I also believe that the Government, in bringing forward the High Commissioner Bill, had in view the appointment to that position of a member of the Cabinet.
– That was wrong.
– Some strong supporters of the Government have said that it was thought that they were going to appoint Sir John Forrest. But others, when it was suggested that Sir John Forrest was the prominent member of the Government referred to. and that he had considerable influence, pooh-poohed the idea.
– Some people have said that the honorable senator himself is willing to take the position.
– T endeavoured to disarm any criticism or suspicion on that ground when I submitted the motion, by saying that it was absolutely certain that I was not a candidate for the post. That assurance ought to have been satisfactory. But I held the opinion that Sir John Forrest was the gentleman who was to receive the appointment. Now, although I hold the opinion that Sir John is a very genial, breezy, public man, in whose character there is much to admire, I nevertheless believe that he is the last man in this Commonwealth who should occupy the position of High Commissioner. He is about the last of the eligible public men who should be appointed. I can say that without wishing to be too severe. There is not a member of this Senate for whom I would not sooner cast my vote. I believe that the Government are dropping the Bill because they anticipate one of those changes which so frequently take place in public opinion, and even in Parliament itself, and hope that the time may come when they will have a better opportunity to make the appointment. At any rate, time for them is the essence of the contract. Thev want to postpone the day when the High Commissioner will be appointed.
– Does the honorable senator think that there was a contract?
– Senator Gray may have his own opinion about that. He was, and is, a member of a party to which Sir John Forrest at one time belonged. Therefore he ought to know. When Sir John Forrest found that the restraints, as he called them, of the supporters of the Deakin Government were intolerable, and when he himself was turned out of office - when, as he put it, for the first time for twenty years he found himself walking about without a portfolio as a Minister of the Crown, but as an ordinary Member of Parliament - he joined Mr. Reid. A number of people who have the unfortunate characteristic of being suspicious thought that he did that with the view of securing the High Commissionership from that gentleman. It was reported in the public press that, as Sir John found that Mr. Reid himself was likely to be the High Commissioner, he was contemplating a return to State politics,. But one of those changes to which I have referred took place, and Mr. Reid went out of officeprobably to some extent owing to the actions of the very gentleman I have mentioned. Whatever may be the opinion of the man in the street as to the intention of the present Government to appoint Sir John Forrest to the office of High Commissioner, it is supported by the action of the Government in dropping the Bill. They have continually impressed upon the people of Australia the necessity for the appointment. What reason can. they* have for dropping the Bill ? It cannot be the opposition nf Members of Parliament like Senator Dobson, who will oppose such a measure on the ground of economy. Opponents of that class are not numerous. Nearly every Member of Parliament recognises that it is in the interests of Australia that there should be a High Commissioner in London to take the place of the number of AgentsGeneral there now.
– Did the honorable senator see the report which Mr. Deakin received from the Agents-General?
– I. did, and I could not help thinking of the ridiculous idea which prompted the. Prime Minister to apply to the Agents-General for their opinion. It was very much like asking a member of the Senate what he would think of reducing the number of members of this Chamber to twentyfour. We should all with one accord assert that it was in the interests of the country that the number of senators should be main- rained at’ thirty-six. We remember that when, upon the establishment of the Commonwealth Parliament, it was proposed to reduce the number of members of the States Parliaments, they very naturally said that they did not think such a reduction was desirable. Similarly, when any proposal is made to the municipal council of a suburb to participate in a movement for the establishment of a Greater Melbourne, a Greater Brisbane, or a Greater Sydney, its members say to themselves that if that reform takes place they willi no longer be aldermen, and naturally they oppose it. The Agents-General know that if a High Commissioner is appointed their services, and the expensive Departments over which they preside, will no longer be necessary. The High Commissioner will have his own staff of clerks and other officers,, who will do all their work, and instead of having six bosses or superintendents we shall have one. Therefore I think that it was a useless proceeding to ask for the opinions of the AgentsGeneral on the question of the appointment of a High Commissioner. Now, the Senate carried a resolution declaring that it is desirable “ that the representatives of the Commonwealth should have a voice iti the appointment of the first High Commissioner, whoever he may be. I do not at all agree with the modern tendency to place everything in the hands of a Government. We sometimes hear of Government responsibility. I think that Governments have, and are, assuming too much responsibility. They take it as a personal affront if we, as representatives of the people of Australia, want to have a voice in what are considered to be Executive acts. I refer to this matter on the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, with a view to voice what I think is the opinion of the majority of members of the Senate, that if the Government ignores the vote cast by us in favour of a joint selection of a High Commissioner, and a Bill comes to us in the future in which no provision is made for a ballot, we shall insert in it either a provision for the election of the High Commissioner by ballot, or a name for the purpose of indicating the man of our own choice.
– We might put thirtysix names in.
– That observation is hardly worthy of a Tasmanian ex- Minister of the Crown.
– I want us all to have a “ show.”
– We want to have a ballot. That is the idea. I had almostforgotten to mention another reason why the Government appointment that is contemplated should not be made, and that is that Sir John Forrest holds utterly erroneous ideas as to Australian legislation. According to the letter of the London correspondent of the Melbourne Herald, of the 13th August, 1902, Sir John Forrest responded to the toast of “ His Majesty’s Ministers,’” at a dinner given by the Constitutional Club in London. He is reported as saying that the time had come when the Colonies would have to bear their share of the burden of the British Navy, and parenthetically he embellished his remarks with the words, “ And I do not care a snap of the finger what the opinion of Canada or Australia is.” The High Commissioner whom we wish to have in the old country, must be a gentleman, .who has the utmost respect for Australian public opinion ; he must hot go to Great Britain to voice his own opinion. Once he takes the position he must endeavour to give expression to the opinions of the majority of the people of the Commonwealth ; in short, he must be the .representative of Australian public opinion.
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect that Sir John Forrest will ever be that?
– If I am right in inferring from the reported utterances of the right honorable gentleman that he would advocate what he considered to be right in his own opinion, irrespective of the opinion of the people of Australia, then he certainly will never be a representative of the Commonwealth.
– We must not take too much notice of after-dinner speeches.
– The fear I have in my mind, and the reason I advocate the selection of the High Commissioner by the joint Houses, is that any appointment made by the Government will be that of some gentleman, whose chief qualification is his ability to make after-dinner speeches calculated to charm the particular audience at the time.
– Sir John Forrest is a charming character !
– No doubt, Sir John Forrest is “hail fellow well met to every- body,” but we want a “grafter” for this appointment - a man, not to attend social functions specially, but who will undertake to work. If the High Commissioner does his duty, he will have very little time to attend the thousand and one public functions to which he will be invited’. I remember Sir Horace Tozer, Agent-General for Queensland, sending out a list two or three columns long, of public functions, consisting of dinner parties, garden parties, and so forth, which he had to attend as part of his work. But the man who is High Commissioner for Australia will have to take up the work as Mr. Coghlan has done on behalf of New South Wales. I do not wish to say anything further on this matter, except to reiterate what I think is a fair warning, that if another place and the Government ignore the wishes of the Senate, then I hope that, when the High Commissioner Bill comes before us, we shall either insert a clause providing for a ballot, or the name of the gentleman who, in our opinion, ought to represent the Commonwealth.
– I propose to say a few words on various subjects which are outside the scope of the Bill, and I understand that this is my opportunity. First of all. I desire to call attention to the action which the British Government are reported to have taken in connexion with the Factories Act passed last year by the Parliament of Western Australia. This is a matter of the very gravest importance, not only to the State of Western Australia, but to- the whole Commonwealth.
– Are we in any way, as a Commonwealth, immediately associated with’ the matter?
– I shall explain. The British Government, if we may judge from the reports in the newspapers, are endeavouring to obtain the repeal of certain sections of that Act which deal wit : the employment of Chinese and Asiatics in factories. There can be no doubt on the part of honorable senators who reflect on the subject, that, by allowing the British’ Government to interfere with those questions in the case of the States, we shall be allowing the insertion, of the thin end of the wedge for interference later on with our own legislation. Acts which we pass at some later date may fail to give satisfaction to the British Govern. ment, and one of the justifications which’ will be put forward for declining to recognise those Acts, will be that similar legislation has been disallowed in the case of the States. It is impossible to ignore the gravity of the situation which is developing in connexion with British India and Japan in reference to labour in Australia. That is why I desire, in as temperate a way as possible, to call the attention of the Senate to the position of affairs, in order that there may be no misapprehension on the part of anybody who reads Hansard. That is a fair proceeding, even though, as Senator Mulcahy has suggested, the matter may be one of State legislation only. In the session of 3904, the Western Australian Parliament passed a Factories Act dealing with the employment both of Europeans and Asiatics. It is a most up-to-date measure, founded, to a large extent, on legislation which has already been passed in New Zealand, Queensland, and other States of Australasia.’ But the Western Australian Act goes a little further than any of these in dealing with’ Chinese and Asiatics ; and I propose to quote as shortly as possible a. few of the sections which refer to Asiatic labour, in order that the Senate may be thoroughly posted as to what is really taking place. Subsection. 2 of the interpretation section defines a factory as -
Any building, premises, or place in which a person or persons of the Chinese or other Asiatic race is or are so engaged.
Section 15 is as follows: - .
Where the occupier or intended occupier of a factory, or any person engaged in or about a factory is a person of the Chinese or other Asiatic race, the registration shall continue in force for one year only, but such registration shall be renewable from time to tune.
That is a more stringent section than the one which deals with the regulation of factories in which Europeans only are employed ; and I understand, from reading the Western. Australian Hansard, that it was deliberately inserted with a view to placing impediments in the way of the employment of Chinese and other Asiatics. I desire to be absolutely candid, and place the clearest construction on the intention of the Western Australian Parliament, in order that there may be no misunderstanding. Section 20, which provides for the hours of employment of women and boys, is as follows : -
Subject to the provisions of this Act, a woman or boy shall not be employed in or about a factory -
for more than forty-eight hours, excluding meal times, in any one week, nor
for more than eight hours and three quarters, excluding meal times, in any one day, nor
for more than five hours continuously without an interval of at least threequarters of an hour for a meal, nor
at any time after one o’clock in the afternoon of one working day in each week, nor
in the case of women at any time between the hours of six o’clock in the evening and eight o’clock in the morning following, nor
in the case of boys at any time between the hours of six o’clock in the evening and a quarter to eight in the morning following.
Then section. 23, which deals with Chinese and other Asiatics, is as follows: -
No person of the Chinese or other Asiatic race shall be employed in any factory for longer hours than women may be employed therein under this Act, nor shall he be employed before8 o’clock in the morning, or after 5 in the evening.
For the purposes of factory employment Chinese and other Asiatics have been deliberately put on the same basis as women and boys of European extraction.
SenatorMulcahy. - But on a. different basis from that of European men?
– Yes. Section 46 is the next I wish to quote -
No person of the Chinese or other Asiatic race shall be -
registered as the owner Or occupier of a factory unless he satisfies the Minister that he carried on the business which he proposes to carry on in such factory before the 1st day of November,1903, or
employed or engaged by the occupier of a factory in or about the factory unless the occupier satisfies the inspector that such persons was so employed or engaged in a factory, on or immediately before the date last aforesaid.
Section 47 is thus worded -
Every cabinet-maker and dealer in furniture who sells or offers for sale goods manufactured wholly or partly by Asiatic labour, and whether imported or manufactured in Western Australia, shall stamp such goods in the prescribed manner with the words “ Asiatic labour.”
Then section 48 is as follows: -
In any proceedings against the occupier of a factory for employing any person in breach of this Act-
Proof of a person being found in any part of a factory in which the work of the. factory is going on shall bePrima facie evidence that the person was then being employed in the factory, and
When a person employed is, in the opinion of the justices, apparently of the age, alleged by the complainant,it shall lie on the defendant to prove that such person is not of that age.
When any person apparently of the Chinese or other Asiatic race is found in a factory, it shall be deemed that he was employed therein, and it shall lie on the defendant to prove that such person was not employed therein.
The final section dealing with Asiatics, as distinct from Europeans, has reference to the fees payable on the registration of a factory, and reads thus -
Where the maximum number of persons be engaged in the factory does not exceed 7, 5s. ; exceed 7, but does not exceed 15, 10s. ; exceeds 15, but does not exceed 30, £11s. ; exceeds 30, £2 10s.
That applies to European factories.
Where the occupier or intending occupier of a factory or any person employed in or about a factory, is of the Chinese or other Asiatic race, there Shall be paid a fee of five pounds, and the registration of every such factory shall be renewed and such fee be paid annually.
– That was special legislation.
– That was very drastic special legislation to curtail the employment of Chinese and other Asiatics in Western Australia.
– I suppose the honorable senator thinks it is a sin for a man to have any colour but white?
– The legislation meets with my most hearty sympathy. It does not go too far ; it is extremely practicable. It can be put in force without the least difficulty, and is absolutely straightforward. It is not like our finnicky Act for prohibiting alien immigrants, which says one thing and means another, and which is practically a fraud - I withdraw that-
– The honorable senator must not say that.
– I was withdrawing the remark, sir, when you intervened, because I recognised directly that I had no right to use it. The Act says what it does not mean, and I leave the Senate to apply an adjective to Acts which say what they do not mean.
– It is said that language was given to us to conceal our thoughts.
– Evidently the honorable senator does not suffer from that complaint, for he is one of the most straightforward men I have ever met. The Act of Western Australia was not disallowed by the British Government. Not very long ago proceedings were taken under the Act against certain employers of Chinese, and Mr. Justice Parker did what apparently Judges consider themselves entitled to do nowadays, but what was not done in times gone by : he took it upon himself to criticise the Act. To my mind, it was extremely illadvised for a gentleman sitting in a judicial position to express an opinion as to the
Tightness or wrongness of the legislation of the State which he serves as a servant. He may be in the very highest rank of the Civil Service, but still he is a civil servant who is paid by the State to carry out the wishes of its Legislature.
– The honorable senator forgets that he is one of the six families.
– I want to be as cool and collected as possible, and not to prejudice my case by bringing in any outside criticism.
– Let us have the judicial utterance.
– In answer to Senator Dobson, I shall read to the Senate the following cutting from the Argus of the 30th September : -
The Full Court, consisting of Mr. Justice Parker and Mr. Justice McMillan, delivered judgment to-day in connexion willi four appeals from convictions recorded in the police court against Chinese for alleged breaches of the Factories Act. The appellants were charged with having allowed six persons of Chinese or other Asiatic races to work in their laundries longer hours than those allowed by the Act.
Mr. Le Mesurier, counsel for the appellants,, contended that the Act was repugnant to existing treaties between the United Kingdom and Asiatic powers.
The appeals were upheld on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove that the persons employed after hours by the appellants were Chinese -
There we have a specimen of legal subtlety ; there we have men brought into Court with pig-tails and conspicuous for Caucasian features, which you, sir, and I would know perfectly well were Chinese. But the Court and lawyers - gentlemen like Senator Keating - draw a subtle distinction. They say, “ You must prove to the Court that these men are Chinese.” I can imagine that I hear Senator Keating making that remark.
– I should not call them Caucasians, anyway.
– Quite right. No matter what they were called, they were Chinese.
07 5J- 2
– In a Court it is necessary to prove the most obvious facts.
– The honorable senator is right. On this ground the appeals were upheld.
The Judges declined to express an opinion on the constitutional point raised.
Mr. Justice Parker said it seemed to him that this Factories Act was a most extraordinary piece of legislation -
I wish to say, in parenthesis, that he had dealt with the case upon the basis of the legal’ subtlety, and that therefore there was no call for him, while sitting on the bench,, to express an opinion about the Act.
– Except that he knew that the law was in violation of the treaties between the two nations !
– Does a State or the Commonwealth pay Judges to express on the bench what I may call afterdinner opinions ? I submit that, while Mr. Justice Parker is perfectly entitled to share with Senator Dobson any opinions on- the question of Chinese tba.t he may think fit, and to express them at any public meeting, in the privacy of his own room, in a park,, on tha Yarra) bank, or anywhere where Senator Dobson and he may care to address the people - even at a meeting of the Ladies’ Political League - I submit that the bench is not a proper place from which His Honour should address the country.
– Thank God that the honorable senator cannot silence the Judges ! When you break a’ treaty, violate freedom, and treat men cruelly because they are coloured - the truth should be told-
– Let us hear what the Judge said.
- Mr. Justice Parker went on to say - and he was astonished that objection had not been taken to it by the Imperial authorities. It was adapted in parts from Queensland and New Zealand statutes. Apparently the most stringent clause referring to the employment of Chinese and persons Of other Asiatic races were original. For instance, he could find nothing in the Queensland Act analogous to section 23 of the local Act, or to section 46, which absolutely debarred a Chinese or any person of Asiatic races from being employed in a factory unless he were employed there on November rst, 1903.
So much for Mr. Justice Parker. Apparently the result of his remarks, or of some representation made to the Colonial Secretary in England, has been that a communication has been addressed to the State Government; taking exception to these sections. I cannot Quote the exact terms of the -objections, because they have not been made public, but the Premier has admitted that representations have been received from the British Government dealing with the sections, and it is stated in the press that they will be the subject of debate when the State Parliament meets towards the end of this month. But the grounds on which the objections are taken have been set out. The first ground is that it is illadvised and undesirable that ail Asiatics should be grouped together. It has been pointed out on previous occasions that Indians are subjects of the British Empire, that the Japanese are allies of the British, and should not be classed in legislation by one embracing term with savages, such as the people who inhabit Borneo, the Pacific Islands, and even parts of Asia. They in fact claim to be on a higher scale of humanity, and I notice that the Prime Minister,, when speaking from time to time in public, has alluded to them as being very highly intellectual, as a race of very great antiquity - in fact, of f,mr greater antiquity than what we can claim for our race. The second basis of the objection is that we have no right to differentiate in our legislation between white adults and Asiatic adults. That, I fancy, is the point which Senator Mulcahy wished to raise a little while ago. I took some trouble to look into the question of what the British Government have done in the direction of differentiation. My attention was called to a very well-known Act, and that is the one under which the Transvaal Government are importing Chinese slaves into the Transvaal.
– The honorable senator should not spoil his case by calling these men slaves. They have gone to the Transvaal of their own free will, and under the supervision of Chinese officials. They are no more slaves than he is.
– The honorable senator is perfectly entitled .to call them free men, if he thinks that the terms of their servitude or employment justify the use of that word. I prefer to call them slaves, because I have looked most carefull v into the terms of their employment. J. have here the Ordnance under which they are employed.
– We have seen it in print over and over again.
– From my point of view these people are undoubtedly slaves, subject to the lash at the will of their employer, without any pretence of going before a magistrate.
– What nonsense !
– It has been admitted by Ministers of the Crown, in that great body which Senator Dobson is so fond of quoting - the House of Commons - that the lash has been employed most improperly.
– Quite so.
– The honorable senator now says “ Quite so,” but a minute ago he said “What nonsense.”
– Because the honorable senator said they were slaves, and subject to the lash.
– The honorable senator has admitted that they are subject to the lash.
– From a mining manager in the Transvaal I have received a letter in which he says distinctly that he has the power to whip these men. It is connived at bv the mine-owners.
- Senator Dobson is a little behind the times. If he would read the files of English’ newspapers, and study the proceedings of the British Parliament, he would find not only disgusting and loathsome details of what Chinese have to put up with, but that cruelties and atrocities are admitted to have taken place.
– Atrocities have been committed upon Chinese in Australia, but that does not prove that they are permitted by the law.
– The honorable senator will find that I never said that the law gave any one the right to treat the Chinese in that way.
– The honorable senator said they were slaves.
– I repeat that the Chinese in the Transvaal h’ave been and are slaves, and have been and are being flogged. They have been and are being put in the cangue and tortured.
– The Kaffirs were illused by the Boers for years.
– Does that justify the ill-usage of the Chinese?
– No, but’ there is no proof that the law permits that ill-usage.
– I have never said that the law gives any one the right to commit atrocities,, but the custom is such that these men are subject to atrocities, and they have to put up with them. They are slaves under indenture, and they have no power of effective appeal against ill-usage. They must submit, and I, therefore, consider that I am justified in alluding to them as n slaves.” When I was interrupted, I wa’s going to prove first of all that the British Government have thoroughly recognised the practice of grouping all Asiatics together as non- Europeans, This Transvaal Ordinance, No. 17, of 1904, in the Transvaal Code, was assented to on nth February, 1904, and in the Government Gazette of 14th March, 1904, the Government proclaim His Majesty’s pleasure “ not to disallow the Ordinance.” That is to say, that it received thorough investigation at the hands of the British Government, and His Majesty the King was advised that it was a proper piece of legislation. The Ordinance is one “ to regulate the introduction to the Transvaal of unskilled non-European labourers.” That is the title, and we have the following definition of “ labourer “ in the first clause of the Ordinance - “ Labourer “ means a male person belonging to a non-European race other than one of the races indigenous to Africa South of 12 degrees north of the Equator, introduced into this Colony under contract of service.
There we have a definition far more sweeping than anything in the Western Australian Act, which simply alludes to Chinese and other Asiatics. In this Ordinance we have a reference to “ non-Europeans.” They are set on one side as distinct from Europeans. Non-Europeans, I need hardly point out, include all the savage inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean, all the inhabitants of Asia, and all the bushmen and savages in the interior of Africa, who are the lowest known specimens of humanity. These are all included in the one category as people of “ non-European races.” Clause 5 of the Ordinance goes on’ to define how these non-European races may be treated -
It shall not be lawful for any labourer to enter be or reside, or to be introduced into this Colony unless he shall previously have entered into the contract referred to in section 8, and until such contract has been registered in the office of the Superintendent.
What is the position? Any labourer of European race may enter the Transvaal under contract ; he is a free agent ; but no adult of a non-European race may enter the Transvaal under any contract, except a contract which ties him down to slavery - the contract which is at the back of this Ordinance. Here we have the British Government distinctly recognising in the first place that all non-European races are to be placed in a different category to the European races, and, in the second place, the complete right of the Transvaal to differentiate in the treatment of these races, and to say that while any European may enter the Transvaal under a contract with the greatest freedom, the adult, if he happens to be a non-European, must enter the Colony under the specific contract which is set out at the end of the Ordinance.
– The honorable senator is trying to show that this is similar to the Western Australian Factories Act, though one measure deals with alien immigration and the other with residents of a State.
– I say that the analogy between the two is complete, although they are not exactly similar. The point I desire to elaborate is that the difference in treatment meted out to the Asiatic under the Transvaal Act is absolutely inhuman when it is compared with the slight difference in treatment dealt out to the Asiatic under the Western Australian Act. Under the Western Australian Act, things are made a little more difficult for the Asiatic than for the white man, in order, if possible, to balance the disparity in their standards of living, and the Asiatic adult is placed for employment on the basis of the European woman or male child.
– Can the honorable senator tell us whether Chinese naturalized in Western Australia are treated on the same lines?
– The honorable senator has asked me a question which I am not ^prepared to answer. That is a side issue, and does not affect the broad matter with which I am dealing. As Senator Dobson seems to doubt that these people are slaves, I should like to refer to the draw backs to which they are subject.
– The honorable senator must first prove that they are slaves.
– There is one point which I have overlooked. Mr. Le Mesurier has contended that the Western Australian Act is repugnant to existing treaties between the United Kingdom and Asiatic powers. But what do we find?
The Transvaal Act deliberately overrides the common law of Great Britain, because, as I understand the matter, under the common law of Great Britain every: child born of parents, of no matter what race, in a British Colony or in Great Britain, becomes a British subject, and free.
– Hear, hear.
- Senator Dobson cheers that statement.
– Does not the honorable senator see that these men have made a certain contract?
– I am not now dealing with the contract. Senator Dobson will probably be surprised to learn that section 33, sub-section 2, of the Transvaal Ordinance provides that any children, born to the labourer in the British Colony of the Transvaal are to be returned to the country of origin of the parents along with the parents at the expiration of the parents’ term of service.
– A very proper provision.
– What about the kanakas ?
– I agree with Senator Dobson that that is a very proper provision ; but what becomes of the boasted British liberty of the subject of which the honorable senator is so proud? What becomes of the inalienable right of any one born on British soil to become a British subject and be as good as ourselves, although he should be as black as one’s boot ?
– The honorable senator is mixing up the whole thing.
– Lawyer-like, the honorable senator would like to break down my argument.
– Is the reference to natural children or to legal children?
– The Act does not draw any such distinction, and I do not know that there is such distinction in the Chinese mind.
– Would the honorable senator have the parents sent back to China, and their infant children left in the Transvaal?
– Certainly not. I have said that I quite approve of this provision; but when the Western Australian Act is objected to on the ground that it overrides treaties between Great Britain and Asiatic Powers, I point out that the Transvaal Act overrides the inalienable right of a child bom, on British territory to be a British subject, and free.
– Because these men, as the honorable senator knows, have entered into a contract.
– Then Senator Dobson is prepared to maintain that a parent can contract his child out of a prescriptive right. That is what the honorable senator’s interjection means when put into the English language.
– The honorable senator now recognises that thev are slaves.
– That is so.
– I do not do anything of the kind. I am waiting, to near the honorable senator’s proof.
– Proof of what?
– Proof that the contract involves slavery. It is a contract of labour under far better terms than the Chinese get in their own country.
– I had not intended to allude to the matter, but I shall make the digression for the purpose of convincing the honorable senator. These men are bound to remain at the place where they are employed, unless they are let out on ticket-of- leave. They are only given forty-eight hours’ leave, and if they are away beyond that time a reward of £1 per head is offered by the Government to an person who will bring them back.
– Quite right.
– Yet the honorable senator says they are not slaves.
– At the present time one of the most amusing occupations amongst people in Johannesburg is to join in a Chinese drive. I have seen pictures of them m the Morning Leader. The object is to get together so many head of Chinamen, and to secure £i a head for driving them back to the places at which they have been employed. As we go to a football match here, people in Johannesburg, on the Saturday afternoon, go to a “Chinaman drive.” In addition to the restrictions to which I have referred, these men are debarred from engaging in any skilled labour. They may not be employed in skilled labour ; they may not own property-
– That is the Australian law. We will not permit a kanaka to drive a horse or to plant a cabbage.
– They cannot be interested in any business ; they are obliged to return to the country of- their origin at the expiration of their term of service; and, as I have already pointed out, they are liable at the will of their employers to be flogged at a moment’s notice.
– Will the honorable senator turn to the schedule, and say where he finds that?
– It is not in the schedule.
– What about the man here who sold his wife the other day for £5. The honorable senator might as well say that is the custom in Australia.
– The honorable and learned senator is playing with the matter. 1 sincerely trust that the Federal Government will take this matter up, and, if possible, prevent any unwarrantable interference with Western Australian legislation. Western Australia is a small, and, I gather, in the opinion of most members of the Senate, an unimportant State. It is invariably treated as if its interests were not parallel with the interests of the rest of Australia. I do not think that I stretch the point when I say that that is the feeling about Western Australia - that it is outside the live interests which honorable senators generally feel for the Eastern States.
– Is the Premier of Western Australia going tq invoke the assistance of the Commonwealth Government?
– I cannot say. I think it is desirable that he should. I hope that the Federal Government will lend all the assistance it can, not only in the interests of Western Australia, but of all Australia, because that is the point. This is the first attack made upon this class of legislation since the Commonwealth was inaugurated.
– We have asked the Premier of Western Australia to send us all the information he has, so that we may know exactly what the Imperial Government asks.
– I am glad of that. I hope that the Government will consider this matter as one affecting the whole Commonwealth, and not merely as affecting Western Australia.
– Suppose that one of the clauses of a treaty between Great Britain and China is violated by the Western Australian law?
– That is the point, and that, is the reason why the matter should be dealt with as Federal, and not merely as affecting a State. We do not desire that a precedent shall be set up.
– Would not the honorable senator be loyal to treaties between the two nations?
– It is extremely unlikely that any section of the Western Australian Act infringes any treaty between Great Britain and China.
– I should say that if the Act provides that a white man may work eight hours, and a Chinaman only seven, it is exceedingly probable that it does violate some clause in a treaty.
– The point I have been, trying to make has been lost sight of by Senator Dobson. I ask him to bear in mind that if a treaty is infringed by the Western Australian Act it must be still more infringed by the terms of the Transvaal Labour Ordinance.
– Chinese enter into a contract willingly, under the advice of their own officers, to. work in the Transvaal. The Ordinance cannot be compared with the Western Australian Act.
– I fail to see the point which the honorable senator wishes to make.
– It is an obvious point, I think.
– The point is that these labourers are absolutely ‘debarred, as persons of a non-European race, from entering the Transvaal unless thev do sign this agreement.
– When they sign that contract they are not alien immigrants, but people emigrating to South Africa under contract to earn wages which are double what they can earn in their own country.
- Senator Dobson’s argument is that there may be a treaty with China, which gives a Chinese adult the same rights as a European adult in Australia. What I wish to point out is that this Transvaal Ordinance makes a distinct difference between a Chinese and an European. It enables an European to go into the Transvaal under any contract, but no Asiatic may enter the Transvaal under any contract to labour except one which confines him to slavery. Passing from that point, I wish to touch upon two Bills which the Government have had printed, and which have reached my hands as advance copies. Though they are not yet ‘before the Senate, I believe I have a perfect right to comment on them.
– On that point I am sorry that I misinformed the honorable senator privately. He asked me a question, which I answered without due consideration., But, after considering it, I have come to the conclusion! that, although, on the first reading of- the Appropriation Bill, honorable senators are entitled to discuss matters not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, that freedom does not go further than the standing order states. It does not enable us to discuss other questions which by other rules of the Senate we are not entitled to discuss. Can we, or ought we, to discuss the details of a Bill which is before another branch of the Legislature, and which has not yet come up to the Senate? That is the point. I find that that practice would not be allowed in the House of Commons. In May’s Parliamentary Practice^ page 311, St is stated -
In like manner on an amendment to a Bill in Committee, which referred to the provisions of a Bill before the Lords, debate on the details of that Bill was not permitted, and a member was, on another occasion, restrained by the Speaker from commenting on the provisions of a Bill which was then before the House of Lords.
So that the rule of the House of Commons is quite clear. That does not bind us. But the question is : Ought we to make a rule to permit the details of a Bill which has not come before the Senate, and may never come before us at all - because it may not be passed by the other House - to be discussed ? I think we ought to wait until the Bills to which Senator Matheson desires to refer come up to the1 Senate. It appears to me that it would be establishing a very inadvisable precedent if we were to permit Bills of that nature to be discussed. I do not say that they are not to be alluded to, but I think that the honorable senator should allude to them only in general terms I do not think that he ought to discuss the details.
– Cam you, sir, refer me to a standing order which deprives me of the right to do so?
– Standing order 402 provides -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or to any measure impending therein.
Certain measures are impending in the House of Representatives. It would be very inadvisable to discuss them at this stage. If the honorable senator were allowed to do so on this occasion, other hon orable senators would claim a similar right on other occasions.
– If “ any measure impending therein “ is held to apply to Bills on the notice-paper of the House of Representatives-
– Certainly; that is what it means.
– It seems that I cannot allude to those Bills.
– Strictly speaking, the honorable senator cannot allude to them, but I do not wish to tie’ him too strictly to the terms of the standing order. I do not think, however, that he ought to allude to the details of the Bills.
-I may, however, allude to the principal Act, which is in our statute-book - the Immigration Restriction Act 1 goi ?
– In that Act, as honorable senators know, there is a section dealing with contract immigration. It is section 11, and provides that no immigrant shall be allowed to come into the Commonwealth under contract unless certain specific grounds are proved to the satisfaction! of the Minister, which justify him in relaxing the section. I should most strongly deprecate any attempt on the part of the Commonwealth Government to alter that section in such a way as to allow the least scope for any Asiatic contract labour to come into this Commonwealth.
– That is not proposed.
– I have no knowledge, under the President’s ruling, of what the Government proposes. My mind is a blank upon that subject, as, no doubt, the honorable sanator’s mind is also. It may be advisable to alter the section in such a way as to admit of European labour coming into Australia under contract in certain circumstances. Amendments of the principal Act having that object in view, if properly drafted, would probably secure my adherence. But there must be no possible loop-hole for any Government to be able to admit Asiatic contract labour on any terms whatever. There must be a most absolute and complete prohibition. I can give the Senate a most excellent reason why we should be most determined to keep the Commonwealth free from contract Asiatic labour.
– The Commonwealth is going to be- kept free of it, I understand.
– We do not know what is going to be done. In England repeated attempts have been made to obtain money on the land-grant system for building a railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin, and invariably the promoters of that scheme have held out as an inducement to capitalists the promise that the Federal Government .will allow coloured labour to be employed for that purpose. If the least suggestion appears in any Act of the Commonwealth that it is a matter of option with the Government whether those labourers shall be admitted or not, those promoters will take advantage of the section, and later on this is what will happen : We, as a Federal Parliament, will be face to face with the statement that some Minister or other has held out the inducement and hope that these restrictions will be waived. There is no doubt that we might then, be saddled with an obligation in exactly the same way as we were saddled by Sir Edmund Barton with the naval subsidy, and have been saddled time after time with other pieces of legislation, which we would willingly have avoided if we had been left to ourselves, or had been consulted. That is the point on which I desire to lay special stress in connexion with Asiatic labour and interference by the British Government. I am convinced that any amendment of the existing Act, which satisfies members of the Federal Parliament, is bound, by that very fact, to fail to satisfy the requirements of the British Cabinet. That is why we must take the very greatest care in our amending legislation. There is another matter on which I desire to touch very briefly. I have a feeling of very great distrust in regard to an answer which I received some time back to a question I put to the Minister of Defence. I inquired as to the medals for long service which were to be given to members of rifle clubs. I had seen a paragraph in the Melbourne Age of 21st August, 1905, to the effect that the British Government had declined to advise the King to make his warrant governing the issue of auxiliary service long-service medals extend to members of rifle clubs. I asked the Minister whether it was a fact that the application for medals had been refused, and the reply I received was “ No.” I desire to place on record in Hansard the fact that I took- steps to inquire from a representative of the Age in the- galleries here how it came about that the statement made in his usually reliable paper had met with direct contradiction on the part of the Minister. I was told that the information had been derived personally from Mr. Chapman, PostmasterGeneral in the present Government. I wrote to Mr. Chapman, asking him if he could explain how the mistake could have arisen, and I received several communications’ from him, all of a very unsatisfactory nature, so far as my queries were concerned. His final letter to me, dated 21st October, 1905, was as follows: -
In reply to yours of the 20th instant, respecting long service medals for riflemen, I desire to inform you that this is a matter beyond the province of my department. If you wish to obtain any information respecting any action taken, I feel sure Senator Playford, the Minister for Defence, will be pleased to afford same.
I feel I have no redress, and I merely call attention to the fact that, while Mr. Chapman was perfectly prepared to discuss this question with the representative of the Age, and to give information which, so far as one can see, must have been invented, he’, on a plea that it. does not come within his Department, withholds information from a fellow member of Parliament. I really think his excuse the most extraordinary I ever heard for declining to give information. I did expect Mr. Chapman to say, either that the Age correspondent had unwittingly taken away a false impression, or that he himself had been mistaken. As the case now stands, I, as a member of Parliament, endeavouring to do my duty, am left without any redress from either party ; and I shall be very much obliged if the Minister of Defence will’ investigate the matter further. I am satisfied that no smoke ever arises without there being a certain amount of fire, and I am satisfied also that the answer to my question was based on some subtlety I ““am not quite able to follow. The answer may be ‘absolutely true, but I cannot help thinking -that if I had put my question in some other form, though I cannot guess what that form ought to have been,. I should have got a different answer.
– I merely gave the answer which was handed to me by my officers ; I know nothing of the matter personally.
– I quite understand that, and I have no doubt that literally the answer was perfectly true. However. I should like to have the matter investigated further, because it seems most extraordinary that we should make such an application to His Majesty’s Government, and be met with a rebuff. I now propose to deal/ with a question which will be of more interest to the Minister of Defence, namely, the question of the organization of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator may do that on the second reading.
– The Minister is quite right. But if I deal with the matter on the first reading, the Minister will be able to reply to my remarks when he moves the second reading of the Bill.
– I have my second reading speech ready, and’ I cannot interlard it with* fresh matter.
– I regret to hear from the Minister that he means to ignore my remarks, because he has his whole speech cut and dried. In any case, my object in dealing with the matter now is that the honorable gentleman’ may reply, either at the end of the present debate, or when he moves the second reading. I shall then have an opportunity to reply in turn to the Minister when I speak on the second reading, so that I shall get shot for shot with him. instead of only one shot to his two. I should like to recapitulate the views which have been expressed by the Minister of D’efence, and also by the Prime Minister, not in Parliament, but in a pamphlet which’ has teen published. First of all. Senator Playford has told us that we have no policy, and that we never had one.
– Not a complete defence policy.
– The Minister of Defence has also told us that there is no report.
– What report?
– The annual report for which I asked in . August last. I say, on my own authority, that there is absolutely no organization. Mr. Deakin, in his pamphlet, has said that there is no efficiency, and that we have no naval side to our defence, or only a naval side which is so insignificant that it is not worth speaking of. Mr. Deakin has also stated that there is no efficient harbor defence; and. in addition, I may say that the Common wealth is most lamentably supplied with an absolute necessity - rifle ranges..
– In the Works Appropr ration Bill we passed a few weeks ago we provided for several sites for’ rifle ranges.
– The honorable senator is quite right, but I am taking rather a different point. I desire to call the attention of Parliament to this matter once and for all, and it will then be for Parliament and the Minister to deal with the question in the future, because it is not one which . can be settled in a hasty manner. The Minister of Defence has been kind enough to allow me to see the reports which Major-General Finn has been making since he was appointed InspectorGeneral ; and I am struck by the fact that Major-General Finn repeatedly mentions that the rifle ranges he visited are simply used by the Commonwealth on sufferance. That is to say, public-spirited land-owners, while only too pleased to allow their land to be used for the time being, are unable to give the clubs any tenure whatever. I regarded the matter of such importance that I went to the barracks, and inquired whether there was any report on the subject of rifle ranges. I ascertained that there is no schedule of the rifle ranges throughout the Commonwealth, and the tenure on which they are held. I do not wish to speak harshly; but I must say that, in my opinion, this is a most disgraceful state of affairs. We have been in existence as a Commonwealth, and have had a Defence Department, for over four years, and that Department should have been thoroughly well aware of the importance to the Commonwealth pf accurate knowledge in this connexion. Yet, in spite of the boasted Chief of Staff who was supposed to look after the Intelligence Department, under Major-General Hutton, and in spite of the boasted Intelligence Department, now under the direction of the Minister of Defence, there is no scheduled knowledge of the rifle ranges throughout the Commonwealth. I hope honorable senators realize the importance to the Commonwealth of acquiring the freehold of these ranges.
– Is that necessary, if the rifle clubs have actual occupation ?
– Most of the rifle ranges are used in connexion with clubs, which are formed to-day, and may not be in existence to-morrow.
– I am speaking on this matter with some small experience which I gained in England1.
– Look at the difference in ‘population !
– I may be of a sanguine nature, but I look forward to a large increase in the population in Australia. I am not content merely to sit down and look ahead only ten years or so ; I desire to look forward fifty years, or even a hundred years.
– It ismostly in small country places that there is trouble about rifle ranges.
– That is quite right. What I complain of is that there is no foresight whatever shown in connexion with these matters.
– What does it “matter what the tenure ie., so long as there is a range ?
– But the owner may get annoyed or he may die, and then the chances are that the rifle clubs will have to give up occupation.
– Then get another site.
– But it is not always possible to get another site.
– Then a site may be taken compulsorily.
– There were at least ten items of expenditure for rifle ranges in the Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill which we recently passed.
– That may be so, but I complain that the matter has. not been treated with any system. The Minister of Defence shakes his head, but he must admit that there has been no system.
– There may not be a tabulated statement in the office.
– If the Minister goes to his office, and asks his subordinates what rifle ranges there are in Victoria, and on what tenure they are held, he will not be able to get the information until communications have been addressed to the various centres.
– If that be so, it is ridiculous.
- Senator Playford will also admit that that is not a proper state of affairs.
– It ought not to be later on. We cannot have anything perfect at once.
– I know that the Minister is doing his best; but; judgingby their interjections, I do not think that honorable senators realize the importance of these ranges being acquired in fee simple by the Commonwealth Go vernment.
– I have never seen the necessity for acquiring the fee-simple of a range which is held by a rifle club from a man, and spending money in that way now, because if he were to stop them from practising, and there was no other suitable site in the neighbourhood, I could take his land.
– There is something in what the Minister says.
– Why should we throw money away when a land-owner is quite willing that riflemen should shoot on his property? In all probability he is a member of the rifle club, and willing to give a subscription towards the range.
– The Minister misunderstands me. I do not advocate immediate purchase. I only ask that the matter be placed on a business footing, so that as, opportunity offers ranges may be acquired in fee simple.
– We are doing so gradually.
– I think the Minister will admit that rifle shooting is going to be one of the most important branches in the education of our Defence Force. It is an absolute essential, and unless we have ranges it cannot be carried on. Take the case of the guns for the Field Artillery, which have recently been ordered. In the Commonwealth there is no range on which they can be used in practice.
– It would require an enormous sum of money to get such ranges, because they must be ten miles long, and so many miles broad.
– That is a point on which I differ from the Minister, because there is no necessity for these ranges to be in the more desirable parts of Australia. In England the authorities choose wild districts - on heath and mountain - which have very little intrinsic value for the purposes of cultivation. Surely in Australia, with its enormous tracts of third or fourth or fifth’ class land, which cannot be profitably used for cultivation, it should be much easier to get vast areas for practically a bagatelle.
– Not a bagatelle, because it is all purchased land, unless you go a long way back.
-It may be purchased land, but fits value is small unless it is fit for cultivation. I would impress upon the Minister that theartil- leryissentout for its training for a period of a week or so, and can be sent to any distance by train. The distance of a range from the capital is not material to the question at all. The range may be in any wild part of Victoria or New South Wales or Western. Australia or Queensland. I now come to the question of policy. How is it possible to imagine any’ policy in our military defence system, so long as the Cabinet is hopelessly divided on the question as it is at present? That is really why we have had no policy so far. Every Government has contained members who were biased in favour of the Imperialistic sentiment, and members who were just as strongly biased in favour of the Australian sentiment. Under these circumstances defence will probably be shelved until we get a Government which is wholly Australian in spirit. How can we expect Mr. Ewing, or Sir John Forrest, to concur in their military policy with Mr. Deakin or Senator Playford? What do we know about Sir John Forrest? This evening, Senator Higgs quoted the point of view from which Sir John Forrest felt bound to speak of Australia and Australian sentiment, when he left this Continent. He pointed out that in addressing a large and influential meeting in London, Sir John Forrest told his audience that he did not care a snap of his fingers for an opinion of Australians on matters of defence. It was on this very matter of defence that he made use of these expressions. What did1 he point out ? He drew up a memorandum, in which he pointed out that with her population, the amount which Australia should contribute to the Naval Defence of the Empire might run into millions.
– He mav have been arguing that according to population and trade, we ought to contribute ^3,000^000 or ,£4,000,000, and so we ought.
– The honorable senator, I know, agrees with Sir John Forrest, and it is a great pity that he, Sir John Forrest, and Mr. Ewing cannot form a party of their own, quite apart from those other gentlemen who are Australians?
– And1 get a Parliament of their own ?
– I do not care whether they get a Parliament of their own. They may sit anywhere they like, a contemptible minority, as they would be in this House of Australians.
– Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in talking of myself and two other members of this Parliament as a “ contemptible minority. ‘ ‘
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- If Senator Dobson takes exception to the expression, I hope that it will be withdrawn by Senator Matheson.
– With pleasure, sir. I did not use the word1 contemptible in the sense that I had contempt for the three gentlemen, but in the sense that they are a negligible minority.
– Cannot the honorable senator grasp the fact that according to population and revenue our contribution would, on that basis, >run into ^3,000,000 or ,£4,000,000 ?
– There are no possible figures that Senator Dobson can adduce in connexion with what he is pleased to call the British Empire, which can justify that conclusion. If the population of the so-called British Empire be taken into account, our proportion, as Australians, would, according to the last statistics, amount to about ,£280,000.
– The honorable senator is counting in 300,000,000 black men.
– To please Senator Dobson, the black men are to be admitted to Australia on equal terms with white men, but when we attempt to count them with white men we are told that we cannot expect these poor inferior races to contribute. Senator Dobson must take his choice. He cannot blow hot on one side and blow cold on the other.
– Surely poor devils who are not allowed! to work cannot be counted for taxation purposes?
– For fear any doubt should exist as to Mr. E wing’s attitude in this matter, I would refer honorable senators to a most remarkable letter which appeared from his pen in the Argus of 8th April, 1903, and in which, covering nearly two columns, he dealt most scathingly with the project of an Australian Navy. He said that such a thing was impossible, and, like Senator Dobson, he went into a calculation. They appear to have shared the same actuary or statistician between them. Using almost the words of Senator Dobson, Mr. Ewing wrote: -
It is a simple proportion sum that, if 41,000,000 people provide ^35,000,000 a year, 4,000,000, if they belong to the same nation, and have all the benefits therefrom accruing^ and the same responsibilities, should provide ^3,500,000 ; the- population being one-tenth, the obligation should be one-tenth. . . . The inhabitants of Australia can find no excuse on the score of comparative poverty, for the average wealth per head in the United Kingdom is ^’247 per inhabitant; that set down for Australia being ^’243 per inhabitant.
How is it possible for the Commonwealth ever to have a defence policy so long as those two gentlemen are retained in the Cabinet? 1 put it to my honorable friends who are deluded enough to. sit behind the Government that they are primarily responsible to the whole of Australia for the fact that we have no defence policy to-day. Every one of these honorable gentlemen who are subordinating their convictions of what is right and what is wrong to a desire to keep in office a Government ruled by Mr. Deakin, supported by Senator Playford and Senator Keating, are doing a criminal injustice to the whole of Australia. Senator Playford has been in office since 6th July, that is, for nearly four months, and yet he has candidly admitted that he has no policy of defence to enunciate.
– He has not had time to develop a policy.
– It is not a question of time, but a question of the absolute impossibility of getting the Cabinet to agree on any policy of defence.
– He says that he has not had time to submit a policy to the Cabinet.
– What would be the good of Senator Playford submitting a policy for the initiation, even on a small scale, of an Australian Navy to a Cabinet which contains either Sir John Forrest or Mr. Ewing? The Minister shakes his head, because he knows that it is absolutely hopeless, and I quite agree with him.
– If . the honorable senator had waited until he had heard my speech, he would not say what he is saying. That is the unfortunate result of discussing on the first reading of the Bill questions which could be debated much better at the next stage, and after I had spoken.
– It is with no desire to be pessimistic on these matters that I am speaking in this way. I feel it my duty to call attention to the absolute impossibility of the members of the Cabinet ever agreeing on matters of Defence so long as they adhere to the opinions which they have expressed in public and not withdrawn. Sir John Forrest was in power up to 23rd September. 1903, that is for over two years, and yet he never had the ability to frame a defence policy. Mr. Chapman was in power from 24th September to 26th April, 1904, and during that time he made no attempt to evolve a policy. Senator Dawson was in power from 27th April to 17th August, 1904. .To my certain knowledge, he did his best to” frame a policy, but, unfortunately, he fell foul of the General Officer Commanding over a question of revolvers or pistols, and I am afraid that that incident materiallyinterfered with the evolution of a defence policy. Then we have had Mr. McCay as Minister of Defence.
– What about Senator Drake?
– I thought that Senator Drake was Minister of Defence, but I could not find his name when I searched Hansard.
– I was Minister of Defence for six or seven weeks.
– I am afraid that I did not strike the Hansard for that period.
– Hansard was not the proper book in which to look.
– That is the book to which I go for everything which is accurate. I prefer Hansard to any other handbook. In six weeks, of course, Senator Drake could not be expected to form a defence policy. Then we had Mr. McCay,
– “ Lt.-Col. McCay.”
– For parliamentary purposes, “Mr. McCay,” “Lt.-Col.” is all very well on the field of battle, or at a review. Just as I should say “ Senator Playford “ rather than “ the Minister of Defence,” so I say “ Mr. McCay,” and I mean no discourtesy bv leaving out the “ Lt.-Col.” I believe “that Mr. McCay did evolve a defence policy, which he was about to place before Parliament, but the Government of which Senator Playford is a member came into power before he did so.
– I could not find it. It was not in the pigeon-hole.
– The honorable senator found a policy with respect to the cadets.
– -That is a very small branch of the Defence Force:
– I suppose that it was not Mr. McCay’s intention that Senator Playford should plough with his heifer, and he., therefore, very properly, took his policy away. That brings us to the present day. Senator Playford seems pleased, but the matter is one of grave concern to the
Commonwealth. All these years have gone by without any defence policy being proposed. The next question is with reference to the report on the Defence Force. On the 31st August last I called the Minister’s attention to the fact that M ajorGeneral Hutton had been in the habit of providing an annual report, which was presented in May or June, and I asked whether he would take steps to have a report framed up to date by those in authority. I am not certain what particular office or board is now in authority; but I presume there is some responsible authority who should furnish a report. The honorable senator promised to have the matter looked into. Three months passed, and I asked him how the report was progressing. His reply was that he. was not quite sure whether a report was being prepared at the present time; and he thought he had given instructions that a report should be compiled. The honorable senator was not only: in doubt as to whether he had given instructions, but also as to whether if any had been given his subordinates intended to carry them out. Tomorrow we shall commence to discuss the Appropriation Bill itself, and we shall have no report on the Defence Force before us. How is it possible for us to discuss the Defence Estimates intelligently without such a report?
– If the honorable senator had a report, he would not be much wiser. He was not much wiser when he had Major-General Hutton’s reports.
– Major-General Hutton’s reports were very valuable, because they supplied us with lots of matter to talk about. That, after all, is the main object in the debate on an Appropriation Bill, because we invariably pass the items of the Estimates as they stand. The question is how long the system of drift is going to be allowed to continue. I understand from Senator Playford that he proposes to make an interesting statement this evening or to-morrow morning.
– I wished to give the reporters a chance, and I hoped that we should adjourn at 10 o’clock, after passing the first reading of the Bill.
– If I had known that I should have been prepared to move the adjournment of the debate.
– I wish to make my speech in moving the second reading tomorrow.
– If the honorable senator desires to adjourn now, I am prepared to ask the leave of the Senate to continue my remarks to-morrow.
– That will not suit me. I wish to have the first reading, passed to-night.
– The honorable senator cannot expect that.
– When Senator Matheson concludes his speech, I have something to say which can only be said on the first reading.
– Then we must go on until 11 o’clock.
– Honorable senators will acquit me of “ stone-walling.” but I have material for a speech which will occupy another hour. I desire now to touch upon the existing organization of tlie Military Forces. In his report, of 7th April, 1902, Major-General Hutton was perfectly candid as to the objects he had in view. He advocated the constitution of a Defence Force able to operate in any part of the world. Its principal feature was to te a mobile field force capable of undertaking military operations in whatever part of the world it might be the desire of Australia to employ it. It was to consist of six brigades of Light Horse and three brigades of Infantry, with a proper proportion of Artillery. He said -
The large proportion of mounted troops to infantry will necessitate a partial reconstruction of infantry into mounted troops. This change provides exactly that description of fighting man which has proved so valuable in South Africa, and which without doubt would constitute a most powerful if not a controlling factor in any campaign in which Australian troops might be engaged.
With this fixed object in view, MajorGeneral Hutton drafted his complete plan of organization which may be gathered by any person who cares to read the report. However, Parliament, as honorable senators will, no doubt; recollect, became alarmed, and protested against what appeared to them to be the exteremely lavish expenditure proposed under the scheme, and the formation of an organization which was openly and avowedly to be used for foreign raids. The Minister of Defence at the time was Sir John Forrest. The right honorable gentleman was anxious to leave Australia to attend certain festivities in England, and in the freest waypossible he gave assurances to Parliament, that nothing of the sort was contemplated, and that, so far as he could make it so, the Defence organization should be one solely adapted for the defence of the Commonwealth and of the various States, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. I desire to show how little Sir John Forrest adhered to his pledges, or how little Major-General Hutton allowed himself to be influenced by the pledges which Sir John Forrest gave to Parliament. The proposed new establishment for 1902 - the original establishment for making the raids which Major-General Hutton advocated - was to consist of six brigades of Light Horse, 10,458 men ; three brigades of Infantry, 12,120 men; and Artillery, 2,756 men; making 25,334 men in all. By comparing the military establishment to-day with that which Major-General Hutton advocated before his scheme came before Parliament we can judge how far Sir John Forrest carried out his pledges. . This is the establishment on a war footing to-day - Light Horse, 12,996 men; Infantry, 14,733 men; making in all 27,729 men. That is to say, the field force to-day on a war. footing is abso- lutely stronger by 2,395men than that proposed under Major-General Hutton’s original scheme. That field force is the force which Major-General Hutton intended for the purpose of making raids in foreign countries. Now we turn to the troops for garrison purposes. It was never intended that they should leave Australia, but that they should be employed for the defence of Brisbane. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Albany, and, I believe, Hobart. In 1902 Major-General Hutton provided for 15,470 troops for garrison purposes. In 1904, according to the latest figures I can get, the war establishment provides for only 11,752 garrison troops, an absolute shrinkage in the number of that class of troops for which we have the greatest need, ifwe have need for any at all, of 3,718 men. So much for Ministerial responsibility and the control exercised by Ministers over the Defence Department. Yet that Ministerial responsibility and control is what was thrown at my head time after time when I was advocating the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee to deal with these military matters. I was told that such a proposal would override Ministerial responsibility. What Ministerial responsibility is there? Here we have these pledges givenbysirJohn Forrest to Parliament, and repeated by successive Ministers of Defence, and yet when we come to analyze the figures we find; that the pledges have been no more than empty breath blown across the Legislative Chamber in order to get theDefence Estimates passed. That was the groundwork upon which the scheme was to be built up. We have now to deal with what would happen in time of war. The Defence Act provides that the Governor-General maydeclare that a state of war exists, and when that proclamation has been issued, the troops must forthwith be mobilized. That is to say, the organization is made available for purposes of war by bringing together the various scattered units, and making them into a cohesive force. This is what happens,; and it is really most interesting. The sixth light horse brigade consists of two regiments in South Australia, one regiment in Western Australia, a battery of South Australian field artillery, three South Australian doctors, one Western Australian doctor, fifteen men of the South Australian field hospital. All these men have to be massed together in one brigade to be an effective unit, and as the head-quarters of the brigade happen to be in Adelaide what happens is that Western Australia, when mobilization is ordered, becomes deprived of her only regiment of light horse, which has to take ship and go round to Adelaide.
– I think there is one case in which a Western Australian unit, a Queensland unit, and a South Australian unit, are united to make up a brigade.
– It has even struck the Minister of Defence that this arrangement is peculiar. Yet it is an arrangement on the top of which successive Ministers of Defence have sat without finding out the absurdity of it. Not one of the Ministers of Defence, until the present Minister came into office, was aware of the ridiculousness of it. We come to one infantry brigade. It consists, of a regiment from Western Australia, a regiment from South Australia, a regiment from Queensland, and a regiment from Tasmania. All hese regiments have to be mobilized and brought together in one State to become an effective military unit under one brigadiergeneral. In addition, there is one battery of artillery from Queensland, one from West- ern Australia, one from Tasmania, two Queensland doctors, one South Australian doctor, one Western Australian doctor, and one Tasmanian doctor ; forty men of the Queensland field hospital, and fifteen from
South) Australia. All these men have to be brought together and massed in one brigade to make up an effective military organization. And this is the great scheme of defence that was elaborated by MajorGeneral Hutton ! Western, Australia has to send one regiment of infantry, and one battery of artillery all the way round the coast to Brisbane, because Brisbane happens to be the head-quarters of the brigade; and her mounted infantry go to South Australia, so that Western Australia is left for defensive purposes with 804 men in time of war. Can any one conceive of a more ridiculous arrangement on the face of it than that which is solemnly set out in a beautiful red book which is called the Aust,alien Army List? But what happens to Tasmania? Honorable, senators from that State may be prepared for most harrowing revelations. Poor little Tasmania has my hearty sympathy in her unfortunate plight. She has to send a regiment of light horse to Victoria, a regiment of volunteers to Queensland, and a battery of field artillery to the same State. She is left with 698 men for the complete protection of Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, and all those other charming health resorts which Senator Dobson has taken under his .special patronage. Western Australia is left with no engineers, and no column of army service corps at all !
– It is a funny affair !
– If the Minister of Defence lived in Western Australia he would not think it very funny. His State is all right !
– We have the headquarters of the brigade in South Australia !
– Just consider the relative positions in which this magnificent scheme of organization will leave the different States. Here, we have Queensland with 1,671 garrison troops of her own, and with 870 light horse of her own. She retains those troops within her own borders. But she! receives from the other poor little States that cannot afford to part with their men 633 troops to contribute to her defence - troops for which, under this ridiculous per capita basis, Western Australia has been paying.
– The Military Forces are not paid for on a per capita basis.
– It works out on a per capita basis in some respects, and very much to the detriment of Western Australia and Tasmania, as I shall show. I have the figures here.
– Some portion of the military expenditure is on a per capita basis, but the greater portion is not. New works are on a per capita basis, and Western Australia gets the greater share by that arrangement.
– Queensland in this way gets a force in time of war of 3,174 men. I have already shown what force Western Australia will retain - 804 men; whilst Tasmania retains 698. Both of those States are denuded of their troops, in order that Queensland may have a couple of brigades to defend her. The summary is as follows: - When all these brigades are constituted or mobilized for War, New South Wales ‘has 7,709 troops, light horse, infantry, and garrison ; Victoria has 6,075 troops; Queensland, 4,777-; South Australia, 1,747 ; Western Australia, 804; and Tasmania, 698. I submit to the Minister that the sooner he pays attention to this question of brigades, and the sooner he deals with’ the* question of the general defence organization of the country, and arranges matters in such a way that the troops in each district are; available for the defence of that district without being carried round the whole of the coast of Australia, in order that their services may be effective,, the sooner we are likely- to get a force which mav be relied upon in time of war. The unfairness of the method by which the defence question is dealt with has been shown in some figures which I have worked out. The average cost per head of our Defence Forces is £22 16s. 8d.
– That entirely depends upon what the honorable senator means by cost. As I have it worked out, the highest cost is ^£17 per head.
– I cam give the exact figures. I like to ‘be perfectly correct in these matters. They are contained in a pamphlet dated 29th August, 1905. issued bv the Department of Defence, and called Memorandum by the Minister of State for Defence on the Estimates of the Defence Department. It is a memorandum which emanated from the honorable senator’s own office. In Appendix C of the pamphlet he will find that an estimate of the strength of the Forces for 1905-6 is given for each State. On another page, Appendix A., he will find the expenditure for each State for 1904-5. I have arrived at the figure which I have mentioned by dividing the estimate of expenditure in each State for that year by. the estimated number of inert on the roll. They are official figures, and I have merely applied simple division.
– I asked my officers, to give me a statement showing what a volunteer would cost, and what a militiaman, an engineer, and a permanent man would cost per annum. The estimate in no case exceeded ^17. even f°r the permanent men. An ordinary militiaman costs not more than £,12 or
– I am sorry if the figures given in the official pamphlet are wrong. The estimate for 1905-6 shows that there were 23,750 men on the rolls, and that the total expenditure was £542,372. If the Minister, before he goes to bed to-night, will work out a little sum in simple division over his supper, he will find that it comes to ,£22 16s. 8d. per man per annum. Now, let me show the cost in each State. New South Wales receives an expenditure of £20 16s. 3d. per head; Victoria receives an expenditure of £24 19s. 6d. per head ; Queensland receives an expenditure of £21 lis. 6d. per head ; South Australia receives an expenditure of £21 3s. rod’, per head ; poor Western Australia only receives £16 19s. 3d. per head ; and Tasmania, worse off still, only receives £12 15s. per head.
– And she grumbles, about paying that?
– It is« not the injustice to Tasmania that I am complaining about, but the injustice to the whole Commonwealth. These are Commonwealth Forces. If you starve the Forces in one State, you are depriving the whole of the States of efficient defence. I want to get the Senate to look at this matter from the point of view of Australia, not of any particular State. The States boundaries were swept away as far as defences are concerned when the Commonwealth took over the Defence Department. It is important that we should look at these things, not as they affect State interests, but as they affect the problem of defence for Australia generally.
– I thought the honorable senator was trying to show that certain States were being badly treated.
-I say that the defence of Western Australia and Tasmania is being starved ; but, nevertheless, I am not looking at it from a State point of view. The point is. that the Defence Forces are being starved, and that is the only way in which I can get figures or proof to put the matter before the Senate. This is no new thing. Major-General Hutton himself alluded to it. fie has complained bitterly of the way in which Ministers treated Western Australia and Tasmania. The following extract is from a speech delivered by MajorGeneral Hutton, at Fremantle, on the 2nd August, 1904, as reported in the West Australian : -
He most sincerely sympathized with the military forces of Western Australia in that financial distress which had existed, and had prevented the State from being placed on the same footing as the larger. States. He had endeavoured, perhaps to a greater extent than became him, as General’’ Officer Commanding, to urge the claims of Western Australia and Tasmania to be placed on exactly the same basis as the four larger States. He yet hoped that before he left Australia he would be successful in that matter.
We see from the Estimates that MajorGeneral’ Hutton was not successful. It has been recognised from the first that the defences in the two States mentioned are being starved. I remember that not so many years ago, on returning to Western Australis., I found to my amazement that, under the regime of the great Sir John Forrest - the saviour, the inventor, the discoverer of Western Australia - there were only five effective men in the forts at Albany, on the average, over a week. When I called attention to the fact in the press, men were actually rushed on board a steamer at Queenscliff, and sent to Albany to fill up the gaps. I appeal to the Minister of Defence to correct those deficiencies to the best of his ability; at all events, he cannot now say that his attention has not been called to the matter. I believe and trust that when he moves- the second reading he will, although he has prepared his speech, deal to some extent with the points I have raised. I should like to refer to the Naval Agreement. I am most anxious that the Government should remember that New Zealand is the partner of Australia in this agreement with the British Government, and should be placed in possession of all the information which we have in regard to the strength of the squadron it is proposed to send out. The Minister has received from Captain Creswell a report which he is treating as confidential, and which he considers he should not reveal to the Senate. The honorable gentleman has certainly told us that, to a certain extent, the report is unsatisfactory ; in fact, he has said that, owing to Captain Greswell’s report, the Government do not propose to proceed with the Naval Agreement Act Amendment Bill, which was promised at the commencement of the session, until they receive from London replies to the points which have been raised. I appeal to the honorable gentleman to place that report in the hands of the Government of New Zealand. We were informed by the Minister yesterday that he intended to consult with the Prime Minister on the point, and I emphasize the essential necessity for letting our partner know all that we know. In New Zealand there appears to have been passed an Act to enable the Government to confirm an amended agreement with Great Britain, but in New Zealand the Government are “going blind,” not having had the advantage of reports of experts;, and no doubt that Government will, in all good faith, ratify some agreement which is not of advantage’ to Australasia at large. The Commonwealth will then be left in the invidious position of standing alone, and may appear to the British public to be raising factious objection to a proposal which New Zealand has freely accepted. We should take every step to avoid being placed in thatposition, and I hope that the Minister,, when he speaks to-morrow-
– I shall certainly not occupy so much time as the honorable senator has occupied to-night.
-The Minister of Defence is probably not so enthusiastic in the matter as I am, and he is overwhelmed with the difficulties encountered in the administration of his Department.
– Difficulties which the honorable senator has not to meet.
– I am free from all those difficulties and responsibilities, and I have not two wretched colleagues - I withdraw the word “wretched” - clinging like an octopus roundmy throat. If we relied on the Minister of Defence alone, or on the Prime Minister, we should doubtless get a satisfactory defence policy. But I return to the point with which I began my address; I repeat that it will be. absolutely impossible to get an efficient administration of the Defence Department so long as the Government includes Sir John Forrest and Mr. Swing.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
– I would remind honorable senators that it is unusual to make Song speeches on the first reading of a Bill of this character, and last year was the only occasion on which that course has been adopted in the history of the Commonwealth. The speeches then made were, confined to subjects that could not be dealt with in the discussion of the Appropriation Bill itself. That rule has not been observed this evening, at all events by Senator Matheson. However, my desire is to move the second reading of the Appropriation Bill some time tomorrow, and, if I am allowed to do so immediately after the lunch hour., I think I shall be able to conclude in time for the Inter-State trains. Considering the amount of work which we have done this week, I think I may be able, if I am permitted, to move the second reading of theBill to-morrow, to say it will not be. necessary to call honorable senators together next Tuesday.
-Would it be possible to get a report of Senator Slay ford’s second-reading speech during this week? The report of the Friday’s proceedings do not appear until the issue of Hansard of the following week.
– An arrangement has been made by which any honorable senator who desires may obtain, on the following Monday or Tuesday, an uncorrectedproof of a speech made on the Friday. I would point out to the Minister of Defence that strictly speaking, he ought not to make a. speech at this stage, but as, he was merely explaining the course he proposes to take in regard to the business, this will not be regarded as a precedent.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051116_senate_2_29/>.