2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to call the attention of the Minister of Defence to a paragraph in this morning’s Age about the motion of which Senator Walker gave notice, relative to steamer and railway passes, and which he withdrew. It states -
On Wednesday, however, Senator Walker withdrew his amendment, no doubt to the relief of many senators who plead so ostentatiously for economic administration of Commonwealth affairs.
It goes on to say that a reply which the Minister gave toa questionby Senator Mulcahy was not a complete one, and that he promised to put himself in a position to say whether honorable senators were in the habit of getting passes fortheir friends. I desire to ask him whether any honorable senators have ever received passes for the use of their friends?
– I promised, in answer to an interjection by Senator Mulcahy, to make inquiries into this matter. I have done so, and I find that no such passes have ever been given.
– I desire, to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether there is any truth in the report in this morning’s Argus that the prorogation of Parliament will take place on Wednesday next? I may say that I was in hopes that itwouldtake place earlier.
– The date of prorogation will depend entirely upon the progress of business in the two Houses. I expect that it will take place on Wednesday or Thursday next.
– Shall we adjourn today at the usual time?
– I propose to ask the Senate to meet on Monday.
– At what hour ?
– I am in the hands of honorable senators as to the hour, but I would suggest that, in order to have plenty of time in which to complete our work, we should meet at half-past 10 o’clock.
– Not earlier than half-past 2 o’clock.
– As there is an objection to our meeting on Monday at half-past 10 o’clock, I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next, at half-past two o’clock p.m.
– I believe that I can take advantage of this motion to call the attention of the Minister of Defence to the question of the promotion of Colonel Lyster.
– On a motion that the Senate at its rising adjourn till an unusual hour or day, not moved under standing order 60, the debate must be confined to that question. But on the motion to adjourn the Senate at the close of this sitting Senator Matheson may bring forward the matter.
– If Senator Playford thinks that there is any chance of the prorogation not taking place until Thursday next, I think that he might ask the Senate to meet on Monday at halfpast 10 o’clock, if by doing so it would save a day. I booked my passage first for today, and then for Wednesday next, because there is always very great difficulty in getting a comfortable passage to Tasmaniaat this period of the year.
– I cannot please every honorable senator.
– Exactly ; but if, as I understand, the senatorsfrom New South Wales do not propose to return to Sydney at the week end, what object can be served by fixing the hour of meeting at half-past 2 o’clock?
– Why not move an amendment’ to meet at half -past 10 o’clock?
– I move-
That the word “ two “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
– I shall not oppose the amendment, because it is entirely for the Senate to fix the hour.
– Is it the intention of the Minister to ask the Senate to sit tonight?
– No, not unless that is generally desired.
– I shall be very glad if honorable senators can see their way to meet at halfpast 2 o’clock on Monday. It will be impossible for Senator Gould, who is now in Sydney, to be here on Monday at halfpast 10 o’clock, but he could be here at half-past 2 o’clock. I was most anxious to go to Sydney to-night, but, of course, I could not get back by Monday morning. At the same time, I recognise that the convenience of the majority should be considered.
– The majority wish to meet at half-past ten o’clock, because it is an exceptional time.
– I admit that it is an exceptional time, and if the majority feel that we ought to meet on Monday morning, I cannot press the interests of three or four senators.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether he is now prepared to answer the following questions which he was unable to answer yesterday: -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether a Promotion Board has been appointed, whether the Inspector-General is its chairman, and how it comes that Colonel Lyster has been made temporarily Commandant in Queensland without the matter coming before the Board for its approval ?
– A Promotion Board has been appointed, with the InspectorGeneral as its chairman. During the absence of Colonel Plomer on leave for three months, Colonel Lyster has been appointed temporarily to take charge of the forces in Queensland. He has not been promoted to any higher rank; he will retain his present position at the same salary, and will only do the work of an officer who is on leave of absence.
– Is it not a fact that Colonel Plomer is on three months’ leave of absence pending his retirement, and is the Senate to understand that an appointment to the position of Commandant is not promotion to an officer who does not hold that office?
– Colonel Lyster has not been promoted to the position of Commandant of a State, but has only been asked to take charge of the forces of Queensland while its Commandant is on leave of absence. If eventually he is to be promoted to the position of a Commandant, and it is necessary that the matter should go before the Promotion Board, of course it will.
– Is it not a fact that Colonel Plomer has practically retired; that he will not return to Queensland after the three months’ leave has expired ?
– Undoubtedly. Colonel Lyster will fill the position of Commandant in Queensland during Colonel Plomer’s leave of absence, without increase of pay, without any promotion, and without any promise of getting promotion, when the position falls vacant upon the retirement of Colonel Plomer.
Appointment of Administrator
– The Cabinet have not considered this question. I expect that the Minister of External Affairs, who deals with the affairs of the Possession, has considered it, and no doubt it will be brought before the Cabinet in due course, when every attention will be given to the expressed wishes of members of the Senate.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether in regard to the question of calling for tenders for a mail contract in lieu of the Orient contract, he isthis morning in a better position to give a clear recognition on behalf of the Government to the word “ immediately “ in the resolution passed by the Senate on that subject more than two months ago?
– Yesterday I made inquiries as to the progress made, and’, on behalf of the Postmaster-General, I have to say that when he set out to consider the conditions of tender, he found that inquiries would have to be instituted into a variety of matters arising out of the developments of ocean communication, that those inquiries have been set on foot and that he does no) expect to receive the necessary information to enable him to frame the conditions before at least the end, of this month. He is not in a position at the present time to state the conditions on which tenders will be called. Inquiries will have to be made outside Australia, and the information which is desired is not expected to be to hand until at least about the end of the year. Under these circumstances, it will be impossible to lay upon the table of either House at this time any set of conditions which could be said to be the conditions on which tenders will be invited.
– Arising out of that answer of the Minister, I should like to ask if the result will probably be that the tender will be accepted before Parliament meets again ? I understand that tenders are now being called for. Will they be so framed that Parliament will not have an opportunity of seeing them until they have been dealt with?
– I am not in a position to answer thatqueston. I do not know when the call for tenders will go out, nor do I know what time will be allotted for the receipt of them.
Pacific Islands Mail Services : New Guinea : Case of Mr. Richmond.
– In accordance with standing order 60, for the purpose of calling attention to a matter of urgency, I desire to move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 o’clock to-morrow.
– There is a difficulty About this motion. The Senate has already decided that, at its rising, it shall adjourn until Monday. I quite understand that these formal motions for the adjournment of the Senate are simply moved to enable a senator to bring forward some matter of urgent public importance. But seeing that the Senate has already decided to adjourn until half-past 10 o’clock on Monday morning - and the significance of that as affecting formal motions never struck me until this moment - it is difficult to meet the objection.
– Will you permit me to read the first few words ofstanding order No. 60 -
A motion, without notice, that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency.
The matter of urgency in this case is -
The want of due attention shown by the Secretary of External Affairs in regard to motions carried by the Senate, and requests for information by honorable senators; and the disadvantage and possible injury likely to result from this want of attention.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– The particular matters concerning which the Senate has cause for . complaint affect the alleged mail contract for the Pacific Islands mail services, and the case of Mr. Richmond in New Guinea. Honorable senators will remember that last year some of us took great exception to the expenditure of j£i 2,000 for the purposes of mail services for New Guinea. One of the grounds of exception was that, if there were to be increases of expenditure in these directions, tenders ought to be called for. There was placed before the Senate at the time a memorandum of a proposed agreement between Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company, and the Commonwealth Government. We understood that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company were ‘ to sign the proposel contract on the one hand, and that the Commonwealth Government was to sign it on the other, after some alterations had been made. Those alterations were communicated in some Ministerial replies given in the Senate last year. They were to the effect that in the new contract with. Messrs. Bums, Philp, and Company, there would be stated the passenger fares to be charged to and from the Islands, and the rates for freight - two very important alterations, in view of the fact that we were subsidizing a company which would compete with other steam-ship owners. Believing that the Department of External Affairs would see that those alterations were made in the contract, and that everything would proceed in an ordinary business-like way, nothing was done to raise the question again until some time this year. While taking exception to the expenditure of the .£12.000, in view of the approach of the discussion on the Appropriation Bill. I sought for information concerning this particular contract. At first I gave notice of a motion that there should be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the contract, or a copy of the agreement - I am not sure which word I used - with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company. I thought that that would be taken as a purely formal motion. But when it was called on, the Minister at the table said “not formal.” At the time I thought he did so under a misapprehension.
– What were the words of the honorable senator’s motion ?
– They were-
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the agreement between the Government and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., having reference to Pacific Island Mail Services.
The Minister having said “ not formal,” I asked him at a later stage whether he had done so under a misapprehension. I asked the Minister of Defence whether he would make inquiries into the matter. I said that I understood that there was no such agreement in existence, and that there was a rumour to that effect. I asked him if he would make inquiries, because if no such agreement was in existence, it was useless to move that a copy of it be laid on the table of the Senate. The time for the consideration of the Appropriation Bill was approaching, and we wanted this information. We could not get it. The Appropriation Bill was brought before the Senate, and in Committee the matter was brought up again. Senator Playford had a message sent over to the Department of External Affairs, asking the Secretary to attend here, a message which should have been unnecessary, as the Secretary should” have been present in the Senate when his Estimates were under discussion. When the Secretary for External Affairs put in an appearance the Minister was furnished with a memorandum concerning the Pacific Islands mail services. The Minister told us, acting under information from Mr. Atlee Hunt, that it was a ten years’ contract. I call attention to those words, “ a ten years’ contract,” because I wish to show later on that there has been a great deal of quibbling about the use of words. That information was entirely misleading. The information which the Minister quoted was. signed bv Mr. Atlee Hunt, and appears in Hansard at page 5747. At the conclusion of it appeared these words -
Pending inquiries by me into the New . Guinea services, the formal contract was not completed. As a result of these inquiries changes were made, and the draft contract has now been forwarded to the contractors for signature.
That was on the 24th November - about three weeks ago. The draft contract, we were informed, had been sent on to the contractors for signature. Very shortly afterwards, my motion was carried. On 8th December, finding that no copy of the contract was forthcoming, I moved in the Senate -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the proposed agreement between the Government and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, having reference to the Pacific Island Mail Services, and stated by the Honorary Minister (Senator Keating) in a speech on the 23rd November last to have been “completed though not yet signed.”
Five days later I asked the Minister why a copy of the agreement had not been laid before the Senate. The honorable senator said -
The Prime Minister informs me that he does not think it well to lay the proposed agreement on the table. It has been forwarded for signature, and it is expected that it will shortly be signed.
I asked a question arising out of that answer -
Whether the Prime Minister is aware that the Senate has ordered that this proposed draft agreement shall be laid on the table?
The Minister replied -
I think it was the agreement, and not the draft agreement, that was ordered to be laid upon the table.
I do not blame the Prime Minister in this matter. I do not blame the Minister of Defence. No one can accuse the Prime Minister of want of energy. He is a most enthusiastic and energetic Cabinet Minister. I can well believe that Senator Playford is not to blame either. Both he and the Prime Minister had to look to the Secretary of External Affairs for information. It was from the Secretary of External Affairs that the Minister of Defence received the replies given in the Senate. I do not think that the Prime Minister would have undertaken to say - given a full knowledge of the fact, that the Senate had ordered a copy of this contract to be laid on the table - that he did not “ think it well to lay it on the table until it was signed.
– Why should the Secretary have opinions of his own ?
– That I suppose is due to the fact that there have been so many changes of Government, and the Secretary of the Department has got either an exaggerated view of his rights and responsibilities, or thinks, “ Well, there is no occasion to be particular; it will be all right; there will be a change of Ministry in a few days, and nothing need happen.” There is no good reason for concealment. I state candidly that the reason why I am anxious to get this information is that I desire to find out what the particulars of the contract are, and whether the terms promised by a former Government would be included in it, namely, that the rates for passengers’ fares and freights would be specified. I think that the Senate will support me in the view that I am right in calling attention to the neglect of the Secretary of External Affairs to have’ this contract prepared in time, and his failure to bring under the notice of the proper authorities that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company either will not sign the contract, or have neglected to sign it. In so doing, his conduct is likely to prove injurious to the Commonwealth. And there is this additional disadvantage - that, whereas all other mail contractors are under a penalty for failure to adhere to the terms of their contracts, in the absence of any signed contract Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company can do exactly as they please.
– It appears to me that by going behind the Minister’s reply the honorable senator is taking a very dangerous course in blaming the Secretary of External Affairs. He may prove to be misinformed.
– Both the Ministers with whom we have had to deal in regard to this matter - the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence -have had to rely upon the Secretary of External Affairs. The Minister of Defence has had to cope with a most difficult Department, and has coped with it well. He has explained the difficulties, and we know what they are. It has taken him all his time to attend to his Department. The Prime Minister, we are aware, has been in office only a few months, and has had his hands sufficiently full in regard to Bills and affairs in the other House, without concerning himself very much with matters that had already been attended to by his Department.
– The reply we have had apparently disposes of what the Secretary has done.
– The replies we have received do not justify the conduct of the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. We voted £12,000 a year ago, and we understood that the contract was to be entered into and signed, with certain terms and conditions stated therein. Now we are informed that no contract has been signed, and we have voted another £1 2,000 in the Appropriation Bill.
– Has the money been expended ?
– The first £12,000 is expended, and, no doubt, also a portion of the second £12,000. Is that a businesslike method?
– Have the routes laid down when we voted the money been varied?
– That is another point. According to a statement in the press, the routes laid down in the memorandum of agreement have been varied. The vessels were to call at certain islands about New Guinea, but were not to call at or depart from ports such as Cooktown, from whence a vessel owned by Clunn and Son sails. Now, Mr. Hunt, the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, has evidently, on his own authority, undertaken to vary the route, and we find a company, subsidized to the extent of £12,000, starting from Cooktown, in opposition to a vessel owned by Clunn and Sons, who receive no subsidy.
– We ought to blame the Ministers, who are responsible to us, and let them deal with the officials.
– The case of Mr. Richmond, like the other to which I have referred, is urgent, seeing that, according to the Minister, we shall go into recess not later than Wednesday or Thursday next. When Parliament is prorogued, the Senate will have no opportunity to discuss these matters, and their control will again be surrendered to the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. The case of Mr. Richmond is said to be under inquiry ; but I point out that he first complained about his suspension, in a letter dated the 27th August last, which reached us on the 26th September. If will be seen that three months and a halfhave elapsed since Mr. Richmond was suspended ; and, during the whole of that time, he has been under a cloud of disgrace, and, probably, receiving no salary. If, owing to our going into recess, there is further delay, Mr. Richmond’s funds may become exhausted, and he may have to leave New Guinea, and thus deprived of any redress.
– Such a case ought to be promptly dealt with.
– In my opinion, the case has not. been promptly dealt with, owing to the failure of the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. Accord ing to information which appeared in. the daily press of 10th October, reporting an interview with the Prime Minister -
An extraordinary situation has arisen in British New Guinea in consequence of Mr. Richmond, the head of the Lands Department, having got at loggerheads with the Administrator, Captain Barton, over a matter which the Prime Minister described yesterdayas -
I draw particular attention to these words - so trifling that it is rather embarrassing.
That information could come from no one else but the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, who had lately been to New Guinea. This, matter, which is described as “trifling,” has, owing to the questions asked in the Senate, proved to be an apparently gross case of injustice - a case which shows either dereliction of duty on the part of a high officer, or de famation of character by the chief of the Lands Department in New Guinea. The questions which I asked on this matter were set out in detail, as I have frequently to set out questions, in order to get the desired information. If a question be asked in a general way, the facts cannot always be obtained, and it is necessary to so arrange them as, to elicit definite replies. The first questions were evaded by the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, and I had to ask the Minister next day whether he noticed that they had not been replied to. The Minister, I suppose, in his usual whole-hearted way, asked for definite and straight replies, which we then got. The questions had reference to the composition of the Council in New Guinea which suspended Mr. Richmond. We then discovered that the Council was composed of very few men, and that Captain Barton, who was accused, voted to suspend Mr. Richmond for disloyalty.
– I think Mr. Richmond got off very cheaply considering who were his judges !
– Mr. Richmond has been deprived of his good name, and no doubt of his livelihood ; at any rate, we can get no information as to whether he is being paid his salary. No doubt Ministers are fully engaged with business, but they ought to demand from the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs definite replies when questions are asked. And when a motion is carried by the Senate that a copy of a certain agreement, or proposed agreement, be laid on the table, the Government ought to ascertain from the secretary why he is not prepared to comply with the request, and why he has neglected his duty, if it appear that he has done so.
– The secretary is the boss of the whole affair.
– Where there are so many Ministerial changes, it frequently happens that the secretary of a Department is the boss, and that Ministers are at his mercy. I call attention to these matters, because the session is likely to close soon, and there is the possibility of loss through the expenditure of £12,000 in an irregular way. Perhaps I ought not to use the word “irregular,” seeing that it may be construed as a reflection on a vote of the Senate, but, at any rate, I may describe the position as unsatisfactory. There is a fear that the gravest injustice may be done to Mr. Richmond, owing to the fact that in New Guinea there are a number of officials who have no sympathy whatever with Australian sentiment. The facts of this case, and the failure to furnish definite replies, show that the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs is in sympathy with those who compose the Executive Council in New Guinea.
– I am in somewhat of a difficulty as to how to put this motion, seeing that we have already decided that the Senate, at its rising, shall adjourn until 10.30 o’clock on Monday next. One of the rules of the Senate is that we cannot rescind an order unless a certain course of procedure is adopted. Under the circumstances, the only way out of the difficulty - although that way is not strictly in accordance with the Standing Orders - is simply to put the question again -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until halfpast ten o’clock a.m. on Monday.
– There can be no harm in a little duplication. The object of Senator Higgs is to ventilate the two matters to which he has called attention. These affairs, however, are not in my Department, and I cannot be expected to have a complete knowledge of the facts. Under ordinary circumstances, I should have asked that the debate be adjourned, so as to enable me to obtain the necessary information for honorable senators. It will, I think, satisfy honorable senators, and also Senator Higgs, to know that I am definitely promised by the Prime Minister that this paper will be laid before Parliament next Tuesday, when, of course, both
Houses will be sitting. Senator Higgs has thought fitto criticise very severely the Secretary to the Minister of External Affairs. I can assure the honorable senator that the Prime Minister will not shelter himself behind the secretary in any matter of this sort.
– I know that.
– The Prime Minister will take full responsibility, just as I would in a matter affecting my own Department. It is only fair to the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs, to say that, in my belief, he has been acting all through with the unmistakable approval of his Minister.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- Before I ask leave to withdraw the motion, I must express regret that the Minister has not given some promise on his own behalf, if he cannot do so on behalf of the Government, that speedy justice will be done to Mr. Richmond. This gentleman has been, as I say, under suspension for three and a half months, and, as all the papers are here, there can be no just reason for any delay.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - In reply to a question asked the other day,’ I said that the Board appointed to investigate the case had not been able to meet in consequence of the absence of the Public Service Commissioner; and that is one of the reasons for the delay.
– I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I lay upon the table the following papers : -
Public Service Act1902. - Copies of recommendations and Executive approval in connexion with the promotion of W. C. Harris, postmaster at Guildford, Western Australia.
Correspondence between National Political League, Fremantle, and Commonwealth electoral officials respecting names which appeared on Commonwealth electoral rolls, and were not enrolled on State electoral roll.
By way of explanation, I may say that the file of papers in connexion with the last- mentioned matter is not complete, but consists only of what is essential for the information of Senator Henderson, who asked for their production, and of other honorable senators who are interested. The other infor- mation is not included, because it was regarded as not essential, and as likely to make the file too bulky. If however, Senator Henderson, or any other honorable senator, wishes to see the complete . file, the Department will be very glad to afford an opportunity.
Ordered to be printed.
Cheques on Public Accounts.
asked the Minis ter of Defence, upon notice -
In view of certain defalcations that have lately occurred in the Federal Public Offices, will the Treasurer consider the desirability of issuing instructions that all cheques issued in payment of public accounts be made payable to “ Order “ instead of to “ Bearer.”
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Treasurer has had this matter under consideration. The subject is a difficult one, and will be very closely inquired into so as to protect the revenue without unduly inconveniencing the public creditor.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 14th December, vide page 6972) :
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) further considered -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 8 : - “8a. (1) Any employer who in the contract makes any untrue representation, by which the contract immigrant is, or is likely to be misled to his detriment, as to the wages, hours, or conditions of labour at the placewhere the contract is to be performed, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.
The Court may in its discretion order that the penalty or any part thereof be paid tothe contract immigrant, and in that case the same shall be so paid.”
– I have given this clause some additional consideration, with a view to making it effective without reflecting upon other provisions in the Bill. I regard this clause as likely to be more effective than most of the provisions of the Bill. It would be an abominable thing if people were to be brought here under what would be false pretences. I mentioned with very strong approval a provision which we have in South Australia, though it is not quite so good as this, affecting mas ters and servants. Last night I suggested the insertion of the word “ knowingly “ after the word “contract,” where it first appears in the clause, and I admit that in the hands of lay magistrates its use might be open to the objections urged against it. I think that perhaps it would be better to use the word “ wilfully.” Senator Playford has indicated his intention to move that the words “ or is likely to be” be left out, and there is no doubt that would be an improvement on the clause. I believe that it is not desirable to include sub-clause 2. I know from experience how these provisions work in a Court, and the effect of this sub-clause would be to put the immigrant into the witness-box with a stain on his character,because the first question asked him by the opposing counsel would be, “ Of course, you expect to share in any penalty imposed in this case.”
– Would not that argument apply in every case where a man sues another for money?
- Senator Givens refers to a civil action, but the honorable senator knows the stigma which attaches to an informer.
– The contract immigrant would not be an informer.
– He would under this sub-clause profit by the punishment inflicted for a criminal offence. The magistrate might impose a fine of only 1s., but the man fined would have a conviction recorded against him for what is really false pretences. Under this subclause there is no doubt that the contract immigrant would go into the witness-box tainted with the expectation of profit from the penalty, and that would affect the weight which would attach to his evidence. The tendency of modern times in all British countries is to do away with the practice which is involved in this clause as rendering awitness amenable to the suggestion that he may be influenced by the possibility of participating in the proceeds of a penalty for a criminal offence. It should also be borne in mind, as has already been pointed out, that the contract immigrant’s right of action where there is damage is left quite untouched, and, under other provisions of the Bill, the Minister will have power to awardthe immigrant, in certain circumstances, upto, I think, £50, to enable him to return to the place from which he was brought, or to compensate him should he remain here for loss suffered while he is waiting until he gets other employment. I move -
That after the word “contract,” line 3, the word “ wilfully “ be inserted.
– I hope that Senator Pearce will not accept the whole of the amendments suggested. I have no objection to the elimination of the words “or is likely to be,” or to the omission of the second sub-clause, but, in my opinion, the amendment now moved for the insertion of the word “wilfully” vitiates the whole clause. It should be necessary to prove merely that what is set out in the clause was done. The injury is done to the intending immigrant, whether it is done wilfully or not, and it is “right that employers should have some reason to fear the consequences if they make any misrepresentations of the kind suggested.
– The contract immigrant would have a civil remedy.
– I am aware of that. Presumably, the contract immigrant would not have enough money to pav his passage out and to maintain him while he was looking for work, and that would be the reason why he was willing to come out as a contract immigrant. In the circumstances, of what use to him would a civil remedy be? He would land unknown in this country; he might be opposed by a powerful combination of employers-we know the proverbial law’s delays -and he would have no means to engage counsel, or to fight the powers pitted against him by the other side. It is, therefore, idle to talk of his civil remedy. The amendment, if accepted, will render the clause useless.
– If I thought that the word “wilfully” wouldhave the same effect as the word “knowingly,” I should not be prepared to accept the amendment. I am satisfied that Senator Symon would not mislead me, and, in conversation with the honorable senator, I asked his advice on a concrete case. The case I put was this: An employer makes a contract with an immigrant, and gives him to understand that the wages ruling in the place in which he is to be employed are 10s. per day. When he arrives at his destination, he finds they are11s. per day. He lays an information against the employer for misrepresentation. When the case is heard the employer says, I did not know that the wages were us. per day.” The contract immigrant’s counsel would say, “ Did you inquire or take any steps to find out what was the rate of wages,” and, if the answer to that is “no,” a conviction would lie under the use of the word wilfully in this clause. I am assured by Senator Symon that a conviction would lie if it were possible for the employer to know the rate of wages, and he did not take the trouble to find out what it was.
Senate Sir Josiah Symon. - Or was careless whether the statement, he made was true or not.
– If, on the other hand, he took all reasonable precautions to find out the ruling conditions, and yet in some minor matters an inaccurate statement was made in the contract, a conviction would not lie, and I do not think that it should in such a case. Senator Findley puts the case: Suppose the trade union rate is us. a day, and the employer does not employ union men. But the answer to that, I think, is that the Court will decide every case on its merits, and, though the employer may pay a lower rate than the union rate, it will not necessarily be the ruling rate in the district in which the contract immigrant is employed, and the Court will be guided bv what is the ruling rate of wages in the district. If it were a representative trade union, and it recognised the standard wage for the district, the Court would observe that fact.
– Does the honorable senator think that so much trust in the Court is justified?
– We shall have to trust the Court, no matter how we may shape the clause. Moreover, the immigrant will have, not only a civil, but also a Ministerial remedy: If the position put to me by Senator Symon be correct, I cannot see that by accepting the amendment we shall not accomplish our object. We want to prevent misrepresentation, but not to penalize an employer for making a statement which he had no means of testing.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendments of the amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the words “or is likely To be,” lines 5 and 6, and sub-clause2 be left out.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 9A. The Minister shall lay on the table of each House of the Parliament annually a printed return prepared up to the 30th day of June of each year showing -
The names and addresses of employes who have entered into contracts or agreements under the provisions of this Act ;
the number of contract immigrants engaged by each employer and brought into the Commonwealth ;
the places at which the contract immigrants have agreed to work;
the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment, i.e., rates of wages, number of working hours, class of manual labour.”
I think it is very necessary to provide for the production of an annual return, in order to show the Parliament and the people how the law is working. We shall all be in a position then to see whether it has had any effect in reducing wages or making worse the conditions of labour. Senator Pearce has given notice of his intention to move the insertion of a new clause, containing a valuable provision, which I had overlooked, and which I shall be very pleased indeed to embody in my amendment. If that portion of paragraph a of his proposal which provides for an annual return showing the nationality and occupation of contract immigrants were embodied in my proposal, there would be no necessity for him to move an amendment.
– I prefer the proposal of Senator Pearce to that of the honorable senator.
– At any rate, Iintend to test the feeling of the Committee on the subject. I cannot understand how the Minister can possibly object to my amendment, because it does not affect either the principle or the working of the Act, but only enables the country, through Parliament, to know how it is working. Without a provision of this kind, Parliament will have no means of judging accurately whether the Act has had the effect of reducing wages or making the conditions of labour worse.
– I am quite in accord with the object which Senator Givens and “Senator Pearce have in view, and that is to provide for the production of an annual return on this subject, but I think that Senator Givens has gone a little too far in asking that the return shall include the names and addresses of each employer, the rate of wages, number of working hours, and class, of labour. The law provides that the Minister shall not allow a contract to be entered into, or a contract immigrant to land unless the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment are at least equal to those which are current here in that occupation. It is not necessary to provide for a return to contain all that information, because, at any time a member of Parliament could see a copy of any contract if he wished. I prefer to accept the proposal of Senator Pearce, because I think it quite right that the Parliament should be provided with a return showing the number of contract immigrants, with their nationality and occupations, the number of contracts disapproved, and the number of contract immigrants refused admission.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that the Minister has adopted a very wise course, and I would ask Senator Givens to withdraw his amendment in favour of the one to be moved by Senator Pearce. What we want to know is the number of persons who have availed themselves of the provisions of the Act, and have been able to get through under the conditions. Any other detailed information which might be needed could be obtained either in statistics or by inquiry at the office of the Minister.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - In view of the fact that the two proposals are somewhat similar, except that Senator Givens is asking for the supply of some particulars which’ are not included in my proposal, it might be convenient, sir, if you were to put each paragraph of his amendment separately, so that I might have an opportunity to introduce my proposal.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - That will be a very complicated way of proceeding. It would be very much better for Senator Pearce to relyupon the assurance of the Minister, that he will accept his proposal, and to deal with this proposal en bloc, than to have halfadozen divisions, because we might wish to move other amendments from this side.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I ask you, sir, in the exercise of your discretion, to take the course which has been suggested by Senator Pearce.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I move -
That the following words be leftout : - “ prepared up to the 30th day of June of each year.”
In the principal Act the word month’ is mentioned, and without this amendment we should have the presentation of two returns covering different periods. For statistical purposes it would be very useful indeed to have the returns prepared fora similar period.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Question - That paragraph a be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Paragraph a negatived.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “ (a) The number of contract immigrants admitted intothe Commonwealth, the nationality and occupation of such immigrants.”
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - In regard to paragraph b, I wish to impress upon the Committee the necessity for obtaining this information. We may find employers bringing out contract immigrants wholesale.
– If Senator Givens intends to insist on his amendment it would be better to make it read somewhat as follows : -
The number of employers engaging such contract immigrants and the number of contract immigrants engaged by each such employer.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - What is the use of putting in this provision? It is quite superfluous. Of course, every return furnished to Parliament furnishes some information, but many returns furnish perfectly useless information. The proposal that we should have information as to the number of immigrants admitted commends itself to every one; but why ask for these further particulars? The information can always be obtained from the office. It appears that some honorable senators desire to pillory employers who bring in contract immigrants. They are making our legislation as offensive as possible.
– It is quite right that Parliament should be in a position to know if employers are bringing in a large number of contract immigrants. Some of us would also like to know whether particular employers bring in immigrants possessed of special skill for special trades, or whether hundreds of people are imported to work in the canefields of Queensland. If Senator Givens’ amendment is carried, we shall have that information. I hope it will be agreed to.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- I have no objection to amending the amendment, as suggested by Senator Keating. I, therefore, ask leave to amend paragraph b as I have moved it, and to make it read as follows : -
Paragraph b amended accordingly.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I do not think this amendment ought to be adopted without discussion. It appears to me that Senator Pearce’s amendment, which is very carefully framed, and which the Government have accepted, gives all the information one can desire. We have already struck out paragraph a, of which paragraph b is merely consequential, and, therefore, to retain the latter would be useless. There is not much harm in supplying information as to the number of employers engaged in contract labour, but the paragraph goes on to provide that the returns shall show the number of contract immigrants engaged by each employer.
– Surely that is useful information.
– I differ from the honorable senator in that respect, and suggest that all that is necessary is to accept the concession of the Government.
Paragraph b, as amended, agreed to.
Question - That paragraph c be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Paragraph c agreed to.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- In regard to paragraph d, it is highly important that Parliament should have this information each year. Honorable senators have expressed a desire that the wages and other conditions of labour in Australia shall not be lowered or altered in any way, and to that end it is necessary to know how the Act is working.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I suggest to Senator Givens that he should not press paragraph d. No doubt the information would be valuable, but it can be obtained by moving for a return, when necessary. An annual return might prove as bulky as Hansard, seeing that, as all contracts differ, each would have to be shown separately. What would be the value of such a return ? Immigrants would be working under the contracts, and I cannot see in what way Parliament could take any action.
– I, too, would prefer Senator Givens to withdraw paragraph d, but not for the same reason as that advanced by Senator Pearce. I do not anticipate that there will be so many contract labourers introduced into Australia as to make the annual return so very bulky ; otherwise I should certainly not have supported the Bill.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).The paragraph might be amended so as to secure that the return would not be so bulky as anticipated by Senator Pearce. There is no doubt, however, that this information ought to be submitted to us annually. Statements and counter-statements are made as to what really occurred in the case of the six hatters, in connexion with which there is no official document, other than that read by Senator Henderson yesterday. We ought to have some official information from time to time as to the treatment of contract immigrants.
– As to their treat ment ?
– I mean as to wages and conditions.
– Immigrants are not children to be nursed !
– That may be so, but I shall always raise my voice against immigrants being made slaves. If the Minister is opposed to the wording of the paragraph, I ask him to suggest some other means ofobtaining the information desired.
– A return may be moved for at any time.
– That means making a special case of one employer, and we should be accused of holding him up to scorn, and exposing his business. That would be most unfair, if it should turn out that the employer had not been treating his men badly.
– A return might be called for in regard to a particular industry.
– But it would be known which employer was meant, because no action would be taken unless there was some publicoutcry. Unless the Minister makes some suggestion, I shall vote with Senator Givens.
– I agree with the remarks of Senator McGregor. In my opinion, there will be precious few immigrants under contract, and, therefore, I do not think more time should be wasted over this matter.
– If there is a reason why I should support this proposal of Senator Givens, it is that urged by Senator Pearce against its adoption. Senator Pearce evidently anticipates the influx of a large number of persons under contract - so many that the return will probably be as bulky as Hansard.
Question - That paragraph d be agreed to - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … 9
Majority … 6
Question resolved in the negative. .
Paragraph d negatived.
Amendment of the amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the following new paragraphs be added : -
Number of contracts disapproved.
Number of contract immigrants refused admission and reasons for such refusal.
Proposed new clause, asamended, agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
This Act shall not be construed to apply to domestic servants or personal attendants accompanying their employer to Australia.
– I ask the Minister whether a man sent out here in charge of stud stock with the intention that after remaining here for a short time,he should go back again to the country from which he came, could be prevented from landing under this clause?
– I cannot say whether he would be a domestic servant or personal attendant ; but there need be no fear that such persons will have any difficulty in landing.
– When we were considering this material question, one point raised was not satisfactorily settled. From the use of the words “ accompanying their employer to Australia,’’ it would appear that domestic servants or personal attendants may be excluded under the operation of this Bill unless they are accompanying their employers.
– Quite right, too ; otherwise we might have people coming in here in thousands, as domestic servants or personal attendants.
– I do not believe that any member of the Labour Partywould object to domestic servants being allowed to come here under contract.
– Yes, there are plenty of them in Australia.
– I have no wish to raise a long debate on the matter, and if there is much objection to a suggestion that these words might be omitted I shall not press it.
– I am still in need of some information as to what is a domestic servant ? A man was engaged at good wages to bring out stud stock, and it was only after a great deal of trouble that he was permitted to land. How are people in England to know what todo in such cases?
– They will know what to do under this Bill. They have only to enter into a contract with such persons, and send in the necessary papers.
– Surely we do not wish to prevent the introduction of stud stock, and a man engaged in London cannot acompany them, unless with the leave of the Minister here.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - There will be no difficulty about that. The honorable senator could only accomplish what he desires by striking out the words “ accompanying their employer to Australia,” and to do so would be to open the door to any one who chose to call himself or herself a domestic servant or personal attendant, to come in without let or hindrance.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (bv Senator Playford) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Motion by Senator Playford proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– The Bill has now been fully considered, and honorable senators are in a position to make up their minds whether, as a whole, it is a good or a bad Bill. Certainhonorable senators voted for the second reading in the hope that provisions in the measure to which they objected would be struck out in Committee. Certainly from my point of view none of the objectionable provisions of the Bill have been struck out in Committee. We have it on the authority of some honorable senators that the effect of the. Bill will be that there will be so many contract immigrants introduced under it that the annual return giving particulars of their contracts will be as bulky as Hansard. That may be an exaggeration, but it shows that the hopes which some honorable senators had in supporting the second reading of the Bill have not been realized. In order to give those honorable senators an opportunity to decide whether the Bill as amended meets with their approval, I intend to call for a division on the motion for the third reading.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I propose to follow the example of Senator Givens. After having carefully watched the proceedings and taken very little part in the discussions on the two Bills which have recently engaged our attention, I am satisfied that in the Senate there is a certain section who are so well pleased with these measures that I cannot but view them with suspicion.
– Do not use that silly argument !
– Having made a statement which may reflect upon some honorable senators, I shall illustrate what I mean by pointing to the sequel - which may be seen from the notice-paper - to the passing of the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill. Senator Pulsford, when referring to the clauses of the Bill sanctioning arrangements being made with foreign countries, has already asked -
Will the Department of External Affairs intimate to the Governments of India, Japan, and China that the Commonwealth of Australia is now prepared to consider such arrangements.
– That has nothing to do with the Contract Immigrants Bill.
– No ; but having made astatement, and having been encouraged either to supply proof of its accuracy or to withdraw it, I point out that, having passed one Bill, Senator Pulsford is desirous of inviting the whole of the inhabitants of China and Japan who desire to come here to come.
– That is a most unwarranted statement.
– Does Senator Croft think that that has anything to do with the third reading of this Bill?
– I have been led into giving this illustration of my meaning. Having seen the sequel to one Bill, I believe that very quickly after the passing of this Bill, although I cannot put my finger on the point, we shall find a sequel provided for us. Fearing that something may happen, and believing that the principal Act is sufficiently good, I shall vote against the third reading.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I listened with a little astonishment to the remarks of Senator Croft, because I think he must know, as probably every other senator knows, that for many months I have had on the notice-paper a motion which has been discussed on several occasions, and on which I have advocated that an arrangement should be made with Japan.
– It has nothing to do with this Bill, and therefore the honorable senator has no right to refer to it.
– Why did the Minister hold his tongue when Senator Croft was speaking ?
– I was drawn into it.
– The honorable senator was not drawn into it. Having made the statement which he did, I cannot prevent Senator Pulsford from replying to it. But, really, these remarks have nothing to do with this Bill.
-Senator Croft said that my question is the sequel to the passing of the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill, but it is quite consistent with the attitude I have adopted here for years, and therefore I cannot understand his remarks.
– I regret that honorable senators have not provided in the Bill for the preparation of a return showing the rate of wages and the number of hours to be worked by contract immigrants. I believe Senator Croft is right in thinking that the attitude of the Opposition is very significant. The Oppoposition, who voted for the second reading of the measure, refused to agree to an amendment to the effect that an employer should advertise that he could not get men locally. .
– Is the honorable senator speaking of the opposition to that proposal, or to the party sitting on this side of the Chamber?
– Of the official Opposition.
– Yes, I am speaking of the Opposition to the Executive.
– J would advise the honorable senator to refer to the division lists before he speaks in that way.
– I shall put the position in another way. Senator Fraser, Senator Symon, Senator Millen-
– And some of the honorable senator’s friends on the other side.
– I do not remember how they voted, but if they did vote in that way, I think that they made a mistake. I do not know that they did vote against an employer being compelled to advertise that he could not get men.
– Some of them did.
– We have a right to know when an employer has stated that he could not get men in a given locality in the” Commonwealth, and also the names and addresses of employers who have brought in contract labour. That information would be very valuable to those’ who object to the Bill.
– There is nothing in that remark, because the honorable senator could get the information easily-
– Probably we should not be able to get it.
– In view of that vote, we should have a difficulty in getting it.
– Suppose that a member of the Labour Party were to move for a return showing the particulars mentioned in the amendment of Senator Givens, we should have great difficulty in carrying the motion.
– No one would oppose it.
– It would be very useful, indeed, to have an annual return containing those particulars. Suppose, for example, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had imported 1,000 labourers from Europe. It would be useful to have that information. In my opinion, an annual return ought to be supplied. I intend to vote with Senator Givens against the third reading of the Bill.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The Minister of Defence ought to have shaken his head, as he is doing now, before honorable senators delivered their little lectures to the Opposition.
– So l did. I tried to stop them, but I could not.
– I object to such statements as those which have been made by Senator Higgs. He has attempted to show to the people of Australia that the official Opposition have done some things which’ he deprecates, and to which, no doubt, he will refer in public addresses. Why did he not tell the truth about the matter, and say that the opposition to the proposal to which he referred was composed partly of honorable senators sitting on this side, and partly of honorable senators with whom he is in political alliance?
– Only a few.
– That does not matter. If it was a- wrong thing, done with a sinister purpose, for some honorable senators to move in a certain direction, it was an equally wrong thing, done with a sinister purpose, for other honorable senators to support their action.
– I do not suggest that it was done with a sinister purpose. I believe that it was done from a right motive.
– The honorable senator drew attention to a proposal made in Committee, and wished to saddle the responsibility for its rejection upon the official Opposition. If the official Opposition did something which justified the honorable senator in delivering his little moral lecture, he ought not to have referred specifically to only one section of those who voted in. that way. The circumstance justifies the prophecy in which J indulged last night - that if any particular section of the community objects to what we have done they will say that it was all the fault of the wicked Opposition; but that if they find any good in the Bill, they will take credit to themselves as, being responsible for its introduction and its good provisions.
– I cannot permit the Bill to pass this stage without entering a final protest agains,t its enactment, because I believe that a great mistake is being made by the Senate. I am sorry to think that it has gone back upon the policy which it laid down in 1901. That the Opposition has supported the measure ought not, I think, to excite any surprise.
– Part of the Opposition !
– An urgent “ whip “ was sent out to the members, of the Opposition in connexion with the Bill, and they responded to a man.
– No; on this side of the chamber a “ whip “ was not necessary.
– At any rate, a journalistic “ whip “ of a very urgent description was cracked the other day, and honorable senators on the other side responded very heartily to the crack. That fact ought not to excite any surprise. I do not join with Senator Higgs in his references to the Opposition, because they have only done what I should naturally expect them to do. They belong to a political school which approves of what has been done in connexion with the Bill.
– Does the honorable senator think that we have done wrong?
– From my standpoint, I think that the Oppositbn have done wrong.
– Then the remarks of the honorable senator apply equally to Senator McGregor and Senator Pearce.
– In the meantime, my remarks are applied to the Opposition, and those who belong to their school of thought.
– Including Senator McGregor and Senator Pearce.
– That Senator Fraser, Senator Millen, Senator Walker, Senator Pulsford, and Senator Gray, who all believe in the open door policy, should approve of what has been done should excite no surprise.
– Do not rob Senator Pearce and Senator McGregor of that which is their due.
– From time to time we are told about the politics of the Labour Party. Sometimes we are not even dignified with that appellation, but are referred to as the “caucus party.”
– Is not the honorable senator proud of belonging to the caucus party ?
– I am proud of belonging to the Labour Party, but “caucus party “ is not a phrase by which it should be referred to.
– We deny that the honorable member and his friends, represent the Labour Party in the Commonwealth.
– I could just as well retort to Senator Gray that he belongs to the coloured labour party, or the cheap labour party. I belong to the white labour party, and I am proudof it.
– I would ask the honorable senator to discuss the third reading of the Bill.
– I am sorry that the measure is being passed in this form. I am quite satisfied that the Senate is making a great blunder.
– To what clause of the Bill is the honorable senator referring?
– I am sorry that an alteration has been made in the contract section of the Act. I think it would have been much better to allow the law to stand as it is. It was working satisfactorily, and, so far as I can judge, it has not inflicted any hardship.
– It has never kept out any person.
– It has kept out no white man who was fit to enter, as any one may see who refers to the statistics. It has kept out no desirable immigrants. How this Bill will operate, time alone will show. I am inclined to think that it will disappoint some of its supporters.
– I think that Senator de Largie has made a mistake in referring to this as a party measure. If he will refer to the division lists he will find that the members of the three parties have voted in different directions.
– The honorable senator is honest in trying not to attach any party significance to the votes.
– It is a mistake for any honorable senator to suggest that the measure has been treated from a party stand-point.
– I recollect the division lists too well to make such an assertion.
– It is possible for that inference to be drawn from the remarks of the honorable senator, but the division lists will show that the members of each party have voted in different ways. If the measure had been treated from a party stand-point that fact would show that some honorable senators had deserted their party. I am glad to hear Senator de Largie’s statement that he does not wish to make it appear that this is a party Bill. The majority of the members of the Labour Party voted against the second reading. Some of them voted in favour of it.
– What has this to do with the third reading?
– I think it has much to do with it. Senator Dobson should hold his tongue. On the main clause of the Bill, in Committee, two members of the Labour Party voted in one direction, and the others in the contrary direction.
– Does the honorable senator think that has anything to do with the matter?
– I will take your ruling as to whether I am in order. I should not be saying what I am unless I thought it was relevant. It is necessary in the light of what has been said that some of us who have been attacked should make an explanation. I shall support the third reading for the same reasons as induced me to VOte for the second reading. I believe that” this will be a useful Bill, and that in many respects it will do more to keep contract immigrants out of Australia than the original Act did.
– Of course, that is why honorable members opposite are voting for it!
– It will not only keep contract immigrants out of Australia, but will make it sure that those who come in shall work under absolutely fair conditions.
– I shall vote against the third reading of this Bill, because I have been consistently opposed to it right through. It is a great mistake that the Federal Parliament is,_to a great extent, going back on the legislation passed in 1901. I quite agree that this has not been a party measure. But if there has been one party in this country that has taken kudos for our immigration laws, and has claimed that it has acted in the interests of those who have to earn their living by manual labour, it is the Labour Party, of which I am a member. We have pointed out from one end of Queensland to the other that, by passing the contract immigration sections, the Federal Parliament has taken out of the hands of those who are employing large numbers of men the power to lower the conditions of labour in Australia, and to reduce wages. Let us suppose that last year Senator Symon had introduced this Bill as a member of the Reid Government. Does anybody think that he would have been able to get it through in a day and a half? I am perfectly satisfied that there is not an honorable senator on this side of the Chamber who does not think that it would have taken a week or two to get the Bill through. In my opinion, no matter whether the Bill was introduced by Senator Symon, on behalf of the Reid Government, or by Senator Playford, on behalf of the Deakin Government, it would be absolutely wrong. Had it been proposed by the late Government, I am satisfied that my own party would have been solid against it. I am prepared to make -this statement anywhere, because I realize that if there is one thing in con,nexion with immigration for which my party has claimed credit, it is that we have put very big obstacles in the way of men being imported under contract. I believe that this measure considerably weakens the law and puts a weapon into the hands of associated employers to lower wages and alter the conditions of employment of the workmen of Australia whenever they deem it .wise or in their own interests to take advantage of it.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I should not have risen except for the remarks of an honorable senator, who has said that in a few months’ time honorable senators on this side of the Chamber will be claiming credit for what has been done. From my reading, of the Bill, it will be a two-edged sword. I do not wish to claim credit for any part of the Bill. L opposed it on the second reading, and I oppose it still. But I believe that very .soon the honorable senator who made the statement to which I have referred will be trying to sneak out of all share in it. It will be remembered that when we were
Healing with paragraph g of section 3 of the original Act, honorable senators opposite did not even call for a division against it. Yet they have stated that they never approved of that provision.
– Isay so now.
– They had not the manliness to vote against it in 1901. But the provision contained in paragraph g has now been made stronger. I will admit that the law has been modified in respect of contract labour, but in regard to menwho are under agreement to serve on particular ships honorable senators have “ given the show away “ absolutely. My opinion is that a Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s boat cannot now carry a passenger between two InterState ports unless a contract is submitted to the Minister and his approval is obtained.
– Bunkum !
– All right; I have had my say. Honorable senators can vote as they like.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
When the Customs Tariff Act was before Parliament, the question of the desirability of giving some encouragement to the manufacture of iron and steel from local ores was seriously considered ; and it was, I think, the opinion of the majority that some assistance was advisable, and that the best method was that of bonuses. Accordingly, there was inserted in the Customs Tariff Act what is known as “ Division VI. a - Metals and Machinery,” which had for its object the granting of bonuses. Throughout the Commonwealth there are extensive and valuable deposits of both coal and iron ore. In New South Wales the deposits of coal and iron are in close proximity, and in Tasmania and South Australia there are also large deposits. At the present time the Broken Hill Proprietary are using iron ore flux in connexion with their operations at a place called Iron Knob, where there is a perfect mountain of ore of high percentage. I am not aware at this moment whether there are any deposits in Queensland.
– There are large deposits in Queensland.
– I know that iron ore is found in Western Australia, and, indeed, in every other State of the Commonwealth. All communities which have reached a high state of prosperity by means of manufactures have possessed) the advantages of large supplies of native iron and coal. England herself owes her manufacturing supremacy and her prosperity mainly to her wealth of resource in thatrespect, and the same may be said of Belgium and that part of Germany known as Westphalia, where the chief centres of industry are Dusseldorff and Essen. We have similar examples in Pennsylvania and other places in America. At the beginning of Federation it was, as I say, considered that the development of the iron industry could be best assisted by means of bonuses, and!, therefore, when the Customs Tariff Act was before Parliament, Division VI. a, to which I have referred, was inserted. The division reads -
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime, except as to iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet. Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses for the encouragement of manufactures or to the establishment of manufactures under the direct control of the Commonwealth or State Governments, but no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministersby both Houses of Parliament, stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
When the division should come into operation, a variety of iron products, including scrap iron and steel, pig-iron, ingots, blooms, slabs, billets, puddled bars, anc? so forth, had to bear a duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem; but in the meantime, however, all these articles had to be admitted free of duty. Until the manufacture is established so as to supply all the requirements of the Commonwealth, it would be a hardship on manufacturers of machinery to impose a protective duty. A Bill,, known as the Bonus for Manufactures Bill, was introduced by Mr. Kingston, as Minister of Trade and Customs, and read a first time in the session of 1901-2, and a report of Mr. Kingston’s speech, in moving the second reading, may be found in Hansard for 27 th May, 1902. On the vote on the second reading, there was twenty-four for, and eighteen against, or a majority of six in favour of the measure. On the motion of Mr. Watson, the Bill was referred to a Select Committee?, consisting of, in addition to the mover, Sir Edward Braddon, Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Winter Cooke, Mr. L. E. Groom, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Watkins, Mr. McCay, and Mr. Fuller. That Committee was appointed on the 2nd September 1902, ,and, if I remember rightly, their report showed that the Committee were divided - four members being in favour of the Bill, and four preferring that the manufacture of iron should be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government, or by the States Governments. The Bill was further considered on the 1 8th October, 1904 - when Mr. Chapman, who was then in charge, related its history. The second reading on that occasion, 9th December, 1904. was carried by twenty-seven votes to six. That was immediately before the prorogation, and the Bill was practically dropped. The trouble was that while some honorable members were of opinion that the bonus should be given without any condition, to either States or private individuals, others confended that the assistance should be confined to a Commonwealth or State enterprise. But there is a section of the Constitution which prevents any enterprise of the kind being entered upon by the Commonwealth; and that, I think, is most unfortunate.
– The present Prime Minister, when Attorney-General, was of opinion that the Commonwealth Government could undertake the industry for its own purposes.
– It was, unmistakably, the present Prime Minister’s opinion that the Commonwealth had not power to establish’ and conduct such industries. It was in regard to the Bonus Bill that Mr. Kingston, the Chairman of the Select Committee, sought the opinion of Mr. Deakin, who was then Attorney-General, and the opinion he gave was to the effect I have indicated, and may be found attached to the report of the Select Committee.
– I understand that Mr. Deakin expressed some doubts about the matter.
– The opinion given by Mr. Deakin was that the Commonwealth’ Government could not undertake the industry except for the supply of Commonwealth requirements.
– Well, is that not what I said?
– But is it suggested that the Commonwealth Government should establish ironworks, simply in order to supply the little iron material the Commonwealth, may require?
– Do not the Governments of Australia consume nine-tenths of the iron used in the Commonwealth ?
– I am now speaking of the Commonwealth Government, and not of the States Governments. There would be no difficulty about the States Governments entering into such an enterprise; indeed, they have been requested to do so, but have declined.
– It would be utterly impracticable for any one State to inaugurate the industry, whereas that could easily be done by the Commonwealth Government.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that it would be totally impracticable for the Government of New South Wales to inaugurate this industry ? In my opinion, the New South Wales Government could undertake this work without any trouble. However, I do not wish to be drawn into an argument on that phase of the question, but merely desire to explain the principles on which this Bill is based. The ‘Government are of opinion that it is utterly futile to attempt the encouragement of the manufacture of iron by means of a bonus ; an attempt to pass a measure with that object not having met with sue- cess. It so happens that at the present time the New South’ Wales Government have entered . into an arrangement with a gentleman, Mr. Sandford’, to supply all the requirements of, at all events, that State, so far as iron is concerned!. Sir William Lyne has, I believe, had conversations with Mr. Sandiford, and is of opinion that if that division of the Customs Tariff Act, to which I have already called attention, were amended by means of a measure, which, without any reference to a bonus, provided for the imposition of duties under certain conditions, the object we have in view, namely, the encouragement of the industry, could be attained. The duties are to come into operation only when the Minister for Trade and Customs certifies that the manufacture from Australian ore or material is sufficiently established, “ and the certificate has been affirmed by joint addresses passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament.””’
– Why should we not wait until Mr. Sandford makes application for this assistance ?
– Is there any harm in altering the law in such a way as to encourage people to manufacture iron and steel sufficient to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth ? Will not a Bill of this kind encourage investment in the establishment of iron works?
– Why should we trust the Minister, and not the Parliament, to be the judge as to the imposition of the duties.
– The Bill provides that Parliament shall be the judge,, as shown by the words which I have just quoted! from clause 2. To leave such a matter to the judgment of the Minister would be unwise, and, therefore, it is provided that the certificate of the Minister must be affirmed by both Houses of Parliament. As I have said, all reference to a bonus has been omitted, and the whole matter left to either private enterprise or State enterprise. Parliament will desire to be satisfied that the works have been sufficiently established, and that the output is sufficiently large to supply the wants of the Commonwealth? *
– I understand that the only material alteration in the present law, which is proposed in this Bill, is the omission of all reference to the bonus.
– That is the material alteration. The Bill contains only two clauses, and provides merely for the repeal of that part of the Customs Tariff
Act which has reference to laws relating, to bonuses ‘for the manufacture of iron. It provides that if a State or private individual can prove the establishment of iron works, the output of which is sufficiently large to provide for the wants of the Commonwealth, then, on a motion passed in both Houses, the provisions of Part VI.a of the Tariff can be brought into operation.
– I do not know that there is any very great scope for debate or comment of any sort on this Bill. As the Minister has said, by the Customs Tariff Act, the operation of a part of the Tariff is suspended until it is put in force by proclamation, when certain industries are sufficiently established under any Act authorizing the payment of bonuses. This Bill repeals the reference to bonuses in the introductory words of the part of the Tariff referred to. When the measure was first introduced it was proposed by a certain strong-willed Minister-
– The honorable and learned senator is not referring to Sir William Lyne?
– I make no personal references. As at first introduced, the measure left the proclamation to the Minister, and now the original provision leaving the matter to Parliament is also re-enacted. The Bill will render the bringing into operation of the part of the Tariff referred to in no way dependent on bonus legislation, or upon the will of the Minister, to whatever fiscal faith he may belong, but will leave to Parliament, as it should do, an opportunity to deal with the whole matter when” the time arrives for action to be taken. This Bill of itself is of no particular advantage to anybody, nor is it calculated, as far as I can judge, to do a.nv harm to anybodyIt amounts to a little more, but only a very little more, than the addition’ of another page to the printed matter in our statute-book. The only criticism I can offer to the measure is that it is one of those Bills which illustrates the strong tendency displayed bv some members of the Government - and Senator Playford isnot one of them, because the honorable senator always calls a spade a spade - to apply a verv large name to a very small thing. We had an instance of the kind in the Commerce Bill. Senator Playford agreed with us on that subject, and* the Government subsequently adopted an amendment which, to some extent, limited the expresion used in that case. Here we have a Bill “for an Act to encourage manufactures in Australia.”
– It is the greatest humbug in the world.
– It reminds one of the frog in the fable, who blew himself out with the idea that he was giving himself the appearance of an ox. We have recently had a good deal of make-believe, but I do think that the policy of make-believe-and Senator Playford smiles in sympathy - is being carried a little too far. The titles of our Bills should. at least correspond in some way to their importance and utility. Still, if the Government prefer to dress this small matter up in peacock’s feathers in this way, I do not grudge them the indulgence of that vanity, and I shall not move any amendment on the title. But I commend my observations on the point to Senator Playford.
– I rise, as a moderate protectionist, to say that if this is a sample of the encouragement to be given to local industries by a protectionist Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Customs, I am heartily disappointed with it.
– Is it not moderate protection ?
– It is exceedingly moderate. We are asked to say in this Bill that if Parliament pleases it may, at some future time, when an industry has been established, give that industry some encouragement so that it may be established. If ever there was an illustration in legislation of putting the cart before the horse, this measure is one. In connexion with one measure introduced this session, the Minister of Defence was frank enough to admit that it was a sham and a fraud, and I think that the same terms might be appropriately applied to the Bill we are now asked to deal with. I quite agree with Senator Symon, that it will do neither harm nor good. The only qualification of the statement which I would make is that it may do some little harm by deceiving people. It will, certainly not add to the reputation of Mr. Deakin and Sir William Lyne as solid protectionists anxious to encourage the industries of Australia.
– This Bill is short, but I cannot say that it is also sweet. It opens up the flood-gates of debate if honorable senators chose to take advantage of it. I am amazed at the audacit or shall I say the foolishness, of the Minister in submitting such a Bill at a time when the life of the session is beginning to be counted by hours. It might lead to prolonged debate, and might even encourage one like myself to deal with the subject for a few hours. If I were not strongminded I should be drawn into the vortex; but I propose to avoid it, and I hope other senators will do the same. I do not propose to discuss the matter from Dan to Beersheba. I shall not dwell, as I might do, on the iniquities brought to light in the attempts to prevent the importations of harvesters. I shall not permit: myself to be dragged into a discussion of the threats against the consumers of Australia in favour of certain manufacturers. I shall not take advantage of the opportunity to point out the efforts made to increase the burden of taxation without benefit to the Treasury.
– The honorable senator will see that this Bill has reference to the pro3uction of iron only.
– The Minister of Defence has pointed out that iron is the basis of a great many manufacturing industries, and on a measure dealing with iron we should be able to discuss a vast number of subjects were we so inclined. I congratulate the Ministry on having had the wisdom to forego the attempt made” in the first instance to put the power to bring this wretched little Bill into operation at the pleasure of a single Minister, and I congratulate honorable senators that it is still in the hands of the Parliament of the Commonwealth to deal with the matter in its due time.
– It is only on the assumption that the Government are laying down a new rule, under which it is to be usual to introduce legislation of a kind to which all sorts of ugly names can be given, that I can understand why such a piece of sham legislation as this is should be trotted out in the last days of the session. It would not require a very powerful microscope to show that there is no appearance of genuineness about this measure. I speak, not so much as a protectionist, but as one able to take a sober view of fiscalism at all times, when I say that I am unable to understand why this measure should be introduced at this stage, when we have a Tariff Commission at present engaged upon an inquiry into the question dealt with in this measure and similar questions. The Government should certainly have waited until the report of the Tariff Commission was before us before they introduced legislation dealing with this subject. Surely we ought not to pass the Bill until we receive the later information which will be contained in the report of the Tariff Commission. To introduce the Bill at this time is neither more nor less than to offer an insult to that body. No immediate good could be done by its enactment. Blast furnaces could not be erected, and pig-iron produced and converted into steel, in practically a day. Even if the furnaces were now in process of erection, considerable time would elapse before pig iron and steel could be produced. Not only have the ironworks to produce iron, but to produce it in sufficient quantity before division VI. a of the Tariff can be brought into operation. In view of that fact, what necessity is there for passing this measure? Really it is the greatest of the farces to which we have been subjected during the last week. The Government will act most fittingly by withdrawing the Bill, because it is only a laughing-stock. It must be remembered that the Senate is pledged to a policy quite opposed to that which it seeks to enact. After a calm and protracted discussion, it affirmed the principle of establishing national ironworks. To introduce a measure of this kind, therefore, is to fly in the face of that affirmation. I protest against the measure being sneaked in in this manner. Does the Minister wish to defy the Senate or to work in accord with its deliberate opinion? If he wishes to defy the Senate, what interest is now actuating him? He certainly is not urged forward by any public interest. He may be influenced by underhand reasons; there may be wire-pulling which is not apparent to us. I am fully satisfied that there is no public demand for the measure. That proof has been furnished very recently in the State which possesses the most natural advantages for the production of iron by Mr. Sandford - a gentleman who, I supposey knows more about the iron trade than does any other person in Australia - who has undertaken the establishment of ironworks without waiting for this Bill to be enacted. When a bonus was asked for, undoubtedly his evidence went to prove to the Royal Commission that it was not necessary. Since Parliament is not prepared to grant a bonus to privately-owned ironworks, another means is being taken to attain the same end. To me this Bill is neither more nor less than an attempt to place the Senate in a position from which it could not very well recede. If we were to give our countenance to this measure, it would be alleged by-and-by that by our action we had encouraged certain persons to invest their money in the iron industry. After iron works had been established, and it had been found that there was not sufficient work to occupy the men, the ironmaster would come along and say, “Here are a certain number of men who are out of employment. Are you going to see these fine works, this fine industry, closed from want of protection ? Give us the protection that we want, and these men will all be fully employed, and the country will be prosperous.” That, apparently,, is the little, game which the Government are playing, but if that be not their object, this proposal is a piece of hypocrisy from beginning to end. Protectionist as I am, I am not going to give my assent to a hypocritical measure of this kind, and to the placing of the Parliament in a position from which it could not very well recede, especially when it might be pointed out that there were many unemployed workmen in the community. There is only’ one thing I submit for the Senate to .do, and “that is to clearly indicate that it adheres to its decision that if the industry is to be worthy of the financial support which it will require it should be a national one. I hold that the Senate will be best conserving the interests of the States by supporting the establishment of national ironworks instead of allowing them to be established in any one State, either by a State Government or by a private company. If the ironworks were established and controlled by the Commonwealth Government, the interests of all the States would be equally conserved; but if they were” established by a State Government, and were to be kept going,, they would exercise’ a controlling influence over the Government railways throughout the Commonwealth, because the Australian market is only sufficient to keep one really up-to-date blast furnace going all the year round. I am glad that the States Governments have announced that they do not intend to start State ironworks, because if they did we should lind ourselves in the same predicament as we should if they were started by Mr. Sandford or any one else. To allow the ironworks to be in the hands of a State Government would be to create a monopoly which could control the price of the iron which would be required for the railways of the different States. How much greater evil would it be if the ironworks were controlled by a private company ! I . do not wish it to be understood that I am making any reflection upon Mr. Sandford, because I believe that he is a good citizen, deserving of every reasonable encouragement which/ can be given to him to establish iron-works in New South Wales. What we have to consider is the interest of the whole Commonwealth, and that, I submit, can best be conserved by the establishment of Commonwealth ironworks. Senator Playford has stated that the Prime Minister, when he was AttorneyGeneral Jil “the Barton Government, expressed an opinion which is quite opposed to that view. I interjected that he was wrong in making that statement, and I now propose to read the opinion which Mr. Deakin gave on the 18th July, 1903, at the request- of Mr. Kingston, the Chairman of the Bonus Commission.
You ask for my opinion, for the information of the Bonus Commission, as to the powers, if any, of Hie Commonwealth to establish ironworks.
In my opinion no such power is included in the express gift of legislative power to the Federal Parliament.
The trade and commerce power, vast though it is, does not appear to extend to production and manufacture - which are not commerce. Commerce only begins, where production land manufacture end. See Kidd. v. Pearson, 12S U.S. 1, 20. Moreover, the fact that the trade and commerce power is limited to external and InterState trade and commerce indicates that the power which the States undoubtedly possess to undertake Government industries within .their own limits is not shared by the Commonwealth under this sub-section.
Under sub-sections (I.), (II-), and (III-), taken together (trade and commerce, taxation, and bounties), the authority of the Commonwealth over industrial development is of the largest; but though it allows of control, regulation, and guidance, it in no respect points to direct establishment or management of any industries.
Nor can I find in any other part of the Constitution any express authority for the course suggested.
The implied powers of legislation remain to be determined, but include (under sub-section (39) of section 5r) matters “ incidental “ to the exercise of the express powers.
The manufacture of iron may be incidental to the execution of many such powers, e.g., defence or the construction of railways. The Commonwealth might clearly undertake the manufacture of any goods for its own use; and probably if it did so, and it were incidentally advantageous to the interests of the economical working of the undertaking that it should also manufacture for other consumers, such manufacture would also come within its implied powers. Except as above, it does not appear that any power to establish and conduct manufactures can be implied from the Constitution.
In view of tha last paragraph in the opinion, I hold that the Commonwealth has power under the Constitution to establish national ironworks, and that until that Course is taken there will be no satisfactory settlement of this question. In Australia, the principal consumers of iron are the States Governments, because their railways consume practically nine-tenths of the raw iron imported. If the ironworks were established by a private company, the States railways would be at the mercy of a monopoly. If the works were to be kept going, and we were to see that they had sufficient trade, we should have to give them practically whatever price they might choose to demand for pig iron, steel rails, or other raw iron material which might be required for the States railways. Apart from that, there is another interest to be considered, which should appeal to the Victorian and South Australian senators more than to those representing,” my own State. We know that the interests of manufacturers who use iron - such as ironfounders, engineers, and boiler-makers - would undoubtedly be best conserved if the iron-works to be established were a Commonwealth concern. It would be in the interest of Australia to supply raw material to those iron-works as cheaply as possible. I have “had the opinion of one of the principal manufacturers of Australia on this point. He, seeing the clanger of his raw material being considerably enhanced in price if the iron industry gets into the hands of private monopolists, said that it would be better for the manufacturers that it should be under the control of the Commonwealth Government rather than of a private company. Considering the present stage of the session - that this is almost the last day - I think it is unwise to pass a measure which cannot possibly affect the industries concerned in less than twelve months. Inasmuch as the Senate has already come to a decision on this question after a very extensive debate, it would, I think, be very wrong indeed to pass the Bill. I hope that, no matter what our fiscal opinions may be, we shall set them aside for the present, in face of the fact that we have a. Commission inquiring into the whole question. Tq go behind that Commission would be a mistake. We can best deal with the question by throwing out this Bill. If we pass the measure a crop of misery may have to be faced, which we shall be sorry for having brought about.
– lt is not unreasonable to say that the obligation rests upon those who criticise a measure to submit some suggestions for its improvement. I listened attentively to the statement of Senator Symon, in which he criticised the title of this BilL I naturally expected that he would follow up his criticism by offering suggestions for removing the defect to which he drew attention. I- was surprised that he did not do so. Naturally, I commenced to study the title, and I recognised at once the wisdom which had marked the abstention of my honorable friend from making any suggestion. I invite honorable senators to consider whether they can conceive of any effort of draftsmanship which could devise a title adequately expressive of the purpose of this Bill. What is it for?
– Then we might call it “ a Bill for an Act for the Encouragement of Humbug.” That might be a truthful and expressive way of stating a fact. But if I were to be asked to suggest a title I should call it “ a Bill for an Act to Save the Face of the Government.” Many suggestions could be made, but every one would be a novelty, inasmuch as it had never appeared upon the statutebook before. This is a Bill to tell us that Parliament may, at some future time, do something which it has power to do, whenever it thinks fit to do it. We are reducing the proceedings of Parliament to a farce when we, deliberately meeting here’ - two Houses of the Legislature, with all the dignity which surrounds them ; occupying time which might be devoted to more important matters, and involving the country in some measure of expense- are asked to place upon the statute-book a declaration, a placard, a proclamation that at some future time this sovereign Parliament may please itself as to what it does ! What an utter absurdity ! Surely we might as well have been asked to take one bite at the cherry, and at once do the thing which this Bill declares that we may do at some time. Why has the measure been brought in? When we narrow the question down to that, we get a little side-light on the real purpose of the Government.
– - It is easier to pass a resolution through Parliament than a Bill.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that we are putting through a Bill now, and that a resolution will afterwards be required under it, if it is to have any effect. Surely it would be easier to put a Bill through now, without the necessity for a resolution at a later date, than to pass this Bill requiring a subsequent resolution.
– Why argue against a chip in porridge?
– I do not believe that the Government has brought in the Bill without an object; and that object is sufficiently explained by the provisions of the Bill as originally introduced. There was some purpose in that. It proposed - instead of proclaiming that Parliament might at some future date please itself - that Parliament should divest itself of its sovereign powers, and intrust them to one Sir William Lyne. The other branch of the Legislature having thrown- that out, one may well ask, “Why does the Government proceed with it in this form?” There again it is not difficult to find the true explanation. We know that for some months past the Government has been proclaiming its honest desire to assist the so-called crippled trades and struggling industries of Australia. Not long since, the Prime Minister addressed a communication to the ‘ Chairman of the Tariff Commission, urging him to expedite matters, as much as possible. On another occasion we had the interesting spectacle of Sir William Lyne and Mr. Chapman, two members of the present Ministry, struggling with one another as to who .should have the credit of launching an Iron. Bonus Committee. All these were evidences of the earnest desire of the Government to assist the industries of the country. And having taken up this stand, having declared its intention to do something, I presume that the Government thought it necessary to introduce this measure as a justification for those declarations. But, really, is it worth while to pass a Bill which means nothing? Would it not be just as well to tear a page out of a newspaper, or a chapter out of some wellknown work, and order that to be printed in the statute-book? It would mean just as much - or just as little. If we pass the Bill we shall merely be making an empty declaration that Parliament, having sovereign powers., may at some future time do something which it has always had the power to do. Is it worth while toencumber the statute-book with a measure like this?
– He would be an extraordinary man who could work up any enthusiasm in support of a measure of this kind. I do not know that there is sufficient grit in it even to justify indignation. I could neither be enthusiastic nor indignant about it. It is so small, it is so insignificant, it is so absolutely useless and absurd, that the sooner we go to a division upon it the better. I merely rose to say that I shall assist my honorable friend Senator de Largie to wipe the Bill out of existence. That is the best thing we can do with it.
– There may be some truth in what has been said about this being a comparatively harmless measure, but, as a protectionist, I am going to vote for a Bill which, if it does not do any good, certainly will not do any harm to a cause in which I believe.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators have received a vast amount of literature in connexion with the matters dealt with in this Bill - matters which have been under consideration for a long while, and have been discussed on many occasions. The period covered by the Sugar Bounty Act of 1903 expires on the 31st December, 1906. In the paper laid before Parliament on the 18th October, 1904, containing a communication from the Premier of Queensland, together with a memorandum from Dr. Maxwell, the director of the Government Sugar Experimental Station, it is shown how exceedingly important this industry is to that State. The Premier of Queensland in that letter wrote -
You will admit the importance of the industry when I inform you that one-fifth of the cultivated soil of Queensland is under sugar cane, that two-thirds of the value of her agricultural exports must be credited to sugar, and that about one-twentieth of her white population are dependent for their livelihood on the cultivation and manufacture of sugar. The State Treasury has also a large direct interest in the question, for no less than half-a-million of public money has been invested in the erection of central sugar mills.
These were the statements made by the Premier of Queensland when he was expressing a desire that the operation of the original Act should be extended for a period beyond December, 1906. Honorable senators are doubtless aware why that Act was passed. The sugar industry in Queensland has always to a large extent been carried on by means of kanaka labour, and the object of the legislation was to assist in the realization of a White Australia by the deportation of these coloured workers at the earliest possible moment. To that end, Parliament felt it to be its duty to encourage to the utmost the carrying on of the industry, not only in Queensland, but in New South Wales, by means of white labour. Section 2 of the Sugar Bounty Act 1903 provides that there shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a bounty on sugar-cane delivered after the commencement of the Act in July, 1903, and before the 1st January, 1907, in the production of which white labour only has been employed, after the 28th February, 1903, or employed for a period of twelve months immediately preceding delivery for manufacture. Section 3 of that Act provides for a bounty of 4s. to 5s. per ton of cane, calculated according to its sugar contents. This is equal to a bounty of £2 per ton of sugar. By the
Customs Tariff Act of 1902, the duty on imported sugar-cane is £fi per ton, while, according to the Excise Tariff Act of the same year, the Excise duty is fixed at £3 per ton. The employment of white labour against black labour is thus protected to the extent of £2 per ton of sugar equal to about 4s. 5d. per ton of cane. Section 3 of the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1 901 provides that no Pacific Island labourer is to enter Australia after 31st March, 1904, and by section 4, that no such labourer is to enter Australia before 31st March, 1904, except under licence. AH agreements for the employment of coloured labour terminate on the 31st December, 1906, and bv section 8 of the Act just mentioned, the Minister may cause a Pacific-Island labourer found in Aus.tralia after that date to be deported. I do not suppose that these kanakas will be deported all in one batch ; but the operation will be carried out as speedily as possible twelve months hence. I think I can best explain to honorable senators the position in regard to the sugar bonus if I read the report of Dr. Maxwell, in answer to a series of questions put to him by Sir William Lyne. Before I proceed to do that, however, I may say that in 1904 the whole question was laid before the Government, and a request made, as I have said,’ for a continuance of the bonus after the end of next year. The letter of the Premier of Queensland, an extract from which I have already read, also contains the folowing : -
But it was held by those best acquainted with the Queensland sugar industry that the term during which the bonus would be payable was too short, and that it should be extended to at least ten years, in order that the industry might accommodate itself to the altered conditions. The experience of three years has proved the wisdom of this view. There is no hope tha-t two years hence the industry will be independent at once of coloured labour, and of the bonus granted for white-grown cane. There is no hope that within the next two years it will be so firmly established as a white labour industry, a-s to bc able, without the bonus, to pay the wages which white labour has a right to expect for such work. Such being the case, nothing can be more reasonable than the contention of the cane farmer that, as the Commonwealth Parliament has decided that, after igo6, sugar must not be grown by kanaka labour, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to provide a means by which sugar can be profitably grown, after that date, without the aid of the kanaka. And the only means consistent with the policy of excluding coloured aliens, and of finding sufficiently remunerative employment ‘ for our own race, is the continuance of the bonus now given for white grown cane. Unless this action is taken, there appears to be little hope for the sugar industry of this State. In view of the fact that no bonus may be granted after 1906, cane growers are restricting rather than extending their operations, and, indeed, it is probable that large areas now under sugar cane will soon pass out of cultivation. So far as Queensland is concerned, this result, harmful in any circumstances, would be disastrous in existing circumstances.
That letter was supplemented by a memorandum from Dr. Maxwell, who has, perhaps, a more intimate knowledge of this industry than any other man within the Commonwealth. Dr. Maxwell said -
An extension of time of not less than five years from 31st December, 1906, for the continued payment of bonus on white grown cane, is advised as necessary in order that the sugar industry, at its present dimensions, may continue to exist.
That means that after a certain period, unless we are prepared to continue the bonus for a further term, the effect on sugar cultivation in Queensland will be most disastrous. I have statistics showing that in Queensland the number of persons who grow sugar by means of white labour has very considerably increased.
– And so has the sugar grown by black labour.
– The quantity of sugar grown by white labour has consider-, ably increased, though there has also been an increase in the sugar grown by black labour. The owners of plantations and the number of persons employed in connexion .with white-grown sugar have increased year by year since the bonus has been in operation. In the larger plantations in the north, which employ many people, there has been an increase in the output of sugar, partly due to better seasons. There has also been a considerable increase in the number. of owners and cultivators of small plantations; and this is a branch of the industry we desire to encourage as “far as possible. The following is an extract from the report showing the first question asked by Sir William Lyne, and the answer given by Dr. Maxwell : -
Question 1. - For what further period does it appear necessary to extend the system of paying bonus on white grown cane?
Answer. - In order to estimate this question, it is necessary to briefly review the results of the operations of the bonus legislation from its enactment to this date. Three years of the first period of five years ‘have matured, and the fourth year is close to completion. The results are indicated, in the first place, by the increases during, those years in the number of white canegrowers, and in the areas registered to earn the bonus, in the several districts of the State of Queensland, as shown by the official figures.
Then Df. Maxwell gives a table showing the areas registered for bonus, and the number of white cane-growers. According to this table, the number of growers in 1902 was 1,521, as compared with 2,048 in 1903, a considerable increase. In 1904 the number of growers had increased to 2,429, a further increase of nearly 500, and in 1905 the number had increased to 2,681.
– Can the honorable senator give the increase in the number of growers by black labour?
– Those figures are not given in the report, but I should point out that the increase in the production of sugar by black labour does not represent a proportionate increase in the number of black labourers employed but is due to the larger area brought under cultivation, and the good seasons experienced. Dr. Maxwell goes on to say : -
It is seen that very notable increases have been made in the total number of white growers, and in the gross areas registered to earn the bonus.
I have not given the areas, but they are as follows: - In 1902, the number of acres cultivated by white growers was 36,538 ; in 1903, 53,571 acres; in 1904, 63,277 acres; and in 1905, 72,606 acres. So that there has been a gradual and steady increase, first of all in the number of white growers, and secondly, in the area of land they have cultivated. Dr. Maxwell goes on to say -
The full results of the operations of1905 are not yet to hand, but the figures given under this year in the table indicate that these increases are steadily progressing. The table shows further that the increases in the number of white growers and of registered areas have transpired mainly in the Southern and Central Districts, and that a small relative progress has been made in the tropical north.
It is but natural that the number of white growers should increase in the colder districts rather than in the tropical districts of the north. The report continues - “The total number of all cane growers in Queensland at the beginning of this year was 3,422. The number of white growers according to the latest official figures is 2,681, or 78 per cent. of, the whole.
When the figures are analyzed it will be seen that, although 78 per cent. of the total number of growers are white growers those who cultivate with black labour are those who own the larger plantations and cultivate the larger areas. That accounts for the fact that the total output of sugar grown by black labour is greater than that grown by white labour. Dr. Maxwell says further -
The increases in the number of white growers, and in registered areas, do not necessarily convey a correct indication of the actual progress that white cane production has made, relative to the whole. At the close of the third year of the current period of the bonus operation the crop of 1904 comprised as follows : -
So that, although 78 per cent. of the total number of growers cultivate sugar with white labour, they produce only about onehalf of the quantity produced by black labour. The report continues : -
These figures show that, at the end of the third year’s operations of the bonus legislation, less than one-third of the sugar production of Queensland was eligible for the bonus. Something more than two-thirds of the whole was black grown. The figures covering the crop of 1905 will not be fully available for some three months, lt is estimated, however, that the proportion of current year’s crop that is earning the bonus will be at least one-third, and may amount to, or exceed, 35 per cent. of the whole.
The actual situation is, therefore, that after four years operation of the bonus, approximately one-third of the sugar crop of Queensland is produced by white labour. In connexion with this summary result, it has to be repeated that the progress has taken place almost wholly within the Southern and Central Districts, which are the districts of densest settlement, and of the more temperate climatic conditions. The figure in Table “ A “ shows that in the first year of operation of the bonus,1,485 growers were registered in these districts, and only thirty -six in the districts of the north. These numbers show that more than one-half of the total number of white growers registered at this date were prepared for and actually entered upon production solely by white labour the moment that the legislation was enacted. These early registrations included farmers upon the smallest areas.
– Can the honorable senator tell us the number of white growers just before the bonus was granted, that we may know the extent of the increase.
– I am unable to say, but perhaps honorable senators representing Queensland can give that information.
– The number of persons producing sugar by white labour before the bonus was established was so small that it might be ignored.
– Then almost onethird of the total production of sugar is due to the establishment of the bonus?
– To go back to the question put by Sir William Lyne -
For what further does it appear necessary to extend the system of paying bonuses on white grown cane?
Dr. Maxwell sums up the answer in this way : -
An extension of the bonus for a period of seven years can claim the greatest measure of support; providing as it appears the highest mean of security and advantage to all interests concerned. On the maturing of such further period, the situation would again come under consideration.
We provide in this Bill for an extension of the present system for a further period of five years, and Dr. Maxwell does not quite know what the position will be at the end of that period.
– When will that period of five years commence?
– In 1906, and it will extend to 191.1:.
– Why have not the Government adopted a sliding scale?
– Because they do not believe in it at the present time.
– Is the Minister certain that Parliament will not be asked to continue the system after that period?
– I make no pretensions as to that. I have quoted what the expert says on the subject; and honorable senators are now aware that he believes that the extension of the bonus for a period of seven years can claim the greatest measure of support, and he adds that on’ the maturing of that period the situation will again come under consideration.
– Is it not fair to us that there should be a sliding scale proposed ?
– It is not fair to me that I should be so frequently interrupted by questions in the middle of my speech, as I am thus prevented from making a consecutive statement. The honorable senator will be able to discuss all these matters in debating the second reading of the Bill. I have no desire to lead honorable senators to believe that by consenting to continue the bonus for another period of live years, we shall put an end to the trouble.
– We should do so.
– Dr. Maxwell will not commit himself to the statement that that will put an end to the trouble. Whether the system shall come to an end at that period will be for Parliament to say.
This industry is of vast importance to Queensland, and we believe that the proposal now made is in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Those concerned in the industry must pass through an exceedingly trying time when the deportation of the kanakas commences, as it will do next year. In the circumstances, unless we give them encouragement, and pass a measure under which the bonus will be continued to them, there is great danger that large areas of country will go out of cultivation by sugar, because those now engaged in the industry will not know whether they will be able to carry on at a profit. I repeat that Dr. Maxwell says that an extension of the bonus for a period of seven years can claim the greatest measure of support, and that on the maturing of such further period, the situation will again come under consideration. That is exactly the position.
– How long is it to go on?
– Here are these questions again. How can I tell how long it must go on ? I can only say that in the interests of the industry, and of the whole community, it should be continued for another five years, and honorable senators will find that in this Bill we are proposing an increased Excise duty and an increased bonus.
– And the Government are not proposing to put an end to it at any time.
– So far as we are concerned, it will end at the close of the five years’ period provided for in this Bill, and it will then be for Parliament to say what should be done in the circumstances. We are doing now what was done four years ago. We are proposing the passing of a Bill to continue the system of bonuses for a period of five years, and we leave it to Parliament then to again review the situation. In five years’ time Parliament will be in precisely the same situation, and must again review the whole matter. The question for Parliament to consider now is whether the bonus should cease at the end of the term already provided for, and we should run the risk of inflicting enormous injury upon one of the chief industries of Queensland. It must be ‘borne in mind that people who have been cultivating sugar in Queensland for many years past with black labour are being compelled to give up that labour. They must be given time to prepare for the altered conditions under which the industry is to be carried on, if it is to be continued, and what honorable senators are now asked to consider is whether, in the circumstances, it is proper to continue the bonus, at all events for another five, years. We must do it. We cannot get away from it, unless we are prepared to destroy the industry. I am a believer in the White Australia policy, the majority of the community believe in it, and surely we are not going to say that the State of Queensland shall suffer immense loss in consequence of the action we have taken in compelling the deportation of kanakas ?
SenatorMulcahy. - Have not the sugar planters been aware for several years that the kanakas must be deported? Was not that provided for under the State law?
SenatorPLAYFORD. - The sugar planters are aware that the Queensland Parliament passed a law providing for the deportation of the kanakas many years ago, but when they were brought face to face with the question, they were afraid to give effect to the law. They found that they could not do so without the risk of fearful loss, and the result was that Sir Samuel Griffith, and others, who had been instrumental in passing a law to provide that the kanakas should go at a certain date, turned round and passed another law tosay that they should not go. That was the position when Queensland became a part of the Commonwealth. I have given honorable senators Dr. Maxwell’s answer to the question as to the period for which it appears necessary to extend the system of paying a bonus on white grown cane. The second question was -
Should the bonus continue to be paid in its present amount, or are there reasons for a revision ?
That was a very intelligent question, to which the expert furnished the following answer : -
The purpose of the bonus is to substitute white for coloured labour, making it thus, in the first place, a matter of cost. In a report furnished by me to the first Federal Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, in1901, it was shown that the relative costs of labour were : -
The present schedule of bonus was based upon the cost of labour, and upon other considerations, existing when the legislation was enacted. With the progress of white production, white labour must continue to command a higher compensation in the form of wage, and of better domestic provision for workmen. The existing measure of bonus must, therefore, tend to fall below, and not to exceed the cost of substituting white for coloured labour. It is the possibility of failure of the present measure of bonus to meet the difference in cost between coloured and white labour which is, in part, confirming the larger employers of wage-earning labour in holding to the use of aliens.
This question can be understood as also relating to the relation between the excise and bonus, the arrangement enacted being that the bonus shall not exceed two-thirds of the excise. If the results of each year are considered separately, it will be found that in some years the bonus is less, and in others more, than twothirds of the excise. In the average of years it is indicated that the mean of the bonus paid in the several districts will be almost exactly two-thirds, or a fraction less.
Dr., Maxwell does not give a very definite answer to the question. The third question was -
Should a reducing scale be adopted with a view to the gradual diminution and extinction of the bonus?
Inreply, Dr. Maxwell wrote -
To propose a reducing scale at this time would be to assume that this great experiment of substituting a white labour power for a coloured labour power, in a tropical industry, that is in its course of trial, were approaching maturity; that its purpose is already successfully established, and that it is at oncetime to begin the removal of the machinery by which it is being conducted. The experiment has made a very notable progress; the results set forth under Question No.1 show, however, that the present measure of accomplishment covers only one-third of its purpose. There are still two-thirds of the total sugar crop of Queensland being produced bya coloured alien labour power.
The measure of achievement has not yet been reached that would render the adoption of a “ reducing scale “ applicable to the situation at this time. To enforce its adoption prematurely can undo the present success, and threaten the future promise that waits upon the experiment.
I may inform honorable senators, as no doubt they already know, that in another place it was moved that there should be a sliding scale, to commence at a certain rate, and to gradually taper off until it terminated at a given time. The proposal was, of course, defeated, because the Government took the view of Dr. Maxwell as one which they could safely follow.
– Is it not clear that, if, during the first period of ten years, we cannot even reduce the bonus by a sliding scale, at the end of the second period of ten years we shall be bound to. continue the bonus?
– That appears to me to be an argument which the honorable senator can very well usein his speech.
– It is all very fine for the Minister to make that sort of remark; but this is no laughing matter with some States.
– It is not for me to answer a question of that kind, but for the honorable senator to criticise my statements. I am making the situation absolutely plain to honorable senators ; I am not deceiving any one.’ At the end of ten years, so far as I can see, the question is very likely to come up for further consideration.
– It ought not to come up again.
– After the lapse of ten years we shall be in the position I have indicated.
– I believe that we shall be in exactly “the same position then as now. This is perfectly cruel to the States which’ cannot afford to pay the money.
– Why does not the honorable senator make these remarks when he is discussing the second reading of the Bill, and not interrupt me when I wish to make my statement as intelligible as possible, and to give the reasons why the Government have adopted this course ?
– The Minister is not giving us anything of his own. He is only giving us what we have already read.
– Does the honorable senator think that I am an expert? Does he think that I could say anything, that would be worth very much?
– But we have all read Dr. Maxwell’s report on the sugar bonus.
– If my honorable friends do not wish me to read any more extracts, I shall pass on.
– We do not wish the Minister to read the report line by line.
– I have not read the report line by line, because I have skipped over a considerable portion of it.
– Will the Minister give us the policy of the Government, if they have any?
– The policy of the Government is embodied in the Bill. The fourth question was -
Are there reasons for a revision of the present rate of duty?
The concluding paragraph of Dr. Maxwell’s answer read -
The present rate of import duty is £6 per ton, as compared with a duty of approximately £3 per ton upon foreign sugars entering the United States of America, in which country no excise upon home-grown sugars exists.
The present import duty of £6 on foreign produced sugars entering Australia, although low when compared with rates of duty operating in some other countries, appears to be adequate for its purpose.
He makes a long statement, which I shall not read, but in which he shows what has been paid for sugar in various parts of the world, including the United States, and sums up the position in the paragraphs which I have just read. The fifth question was -
What are the foreseen effects of an increase of the duty?
In reply, Dr. Maxwell wrote a long statement, which concludes with these paragraphs -
Therefore, if an increase of excise, with a corresponding increase of bonus, is made, it is likely to induce or force an immediate substitution of white for coloured production in those districts where the natural and economic conditions allow at once of the change.
If the amount of the increase of excise should be such as to lower the protection below a given sum, then, in those districts where white production is far from being fully and immediately practicable, the result will be the handing over of that proportion of the present production of sugar by British farmers using alien labour in Queensland to the producers of black sugar by the cheapest labour, in other countries, for consumption by the Australian Commonwealth.
That is to say, that if we lower the “duties too much, and do not1 give a certain protection, we shall have Fijian black labour competing against our white labour, and competing with success, too. The sixth question is -
What are the main factors which govern the cost of sugar to the consumer, and what modifications are possible that can lower the cost?
That is a practical question, and no doubt honorable senators have read the reply, in which Dr. Maxwell looks upon the refining as a factor that adds to the cost, and points out that, by reason of having a monopoly with regard to the production of sugar, the company, so long as they do not go beyond a certain limit, appear to be able to regulate the price. Of course, they cannot regulate the price wholly, because if it were made too high black-grown sugar would come in from Fiji and other countries, and compete with their article. Within tha* limit, however, the company can raise the price at their own sweet will and pleasure. The seventh question reads -
Can any leading modification be made in the regulations governing the administration of the bonus legislation, which could contribute to its adoption more rapidly, and upon a more extensive scale?
To that question Dr. Maxwell replied -
It is required that the fundamental regulation governing the eligibility of land to register to earn bounty shall be modified and broadened. It is necessary that areas that have not been yet brought under white conditions shall not be at any time prevented from doing so by restrictive regulations. It is also to be advised that provision shall be made for the re-registration of areas which were placed under white conditions, but which have lapsed, and become again ineligible for earning bonus. These primary registrations were made in good faith, and the lapses have been due, in the most part, to the unripeness of the conditions necessary to the change from black to white production. Unless such modifications in the administration are made, the progress of the bonus legislation will be blocked by its own provisions.
That is to say, a man registered to grow cane under white conditions, but in course of time he reverted to black labour, and therefore he could not get the bonus simply because the conditions for the time were such as would not enable him to profitably grow cane. Dr. Maxwell says, “Let the man go back to the white conditions, and when he goes back do not be toohard upon him ; make your registration a little elastic.” The eighth question reads as follows -
What are summarily the lines upon which the substitution of while for coloured labour can be induced, and sugar production in Australia be placed the most expeditiously and permanently upon a white basis, without risk or diminution of the industry?
In his reply, Dr. Maxwell discusses the question at some length, and sums up by referring to the conditions which prevail in the more temperate parts of Queensland and New South Wales, the conditions which would prevail in less temperate parts like the central district of Queensland, and the conditions which prevail in theCairns district. Honorable senators have read the reply, no doubt, and therefore I need not weary them by doing so.
– The Minister has already done so.
– No ; I have skipped passage after passage.
– Before the Minister resumes his seat, will he give us some information as to the financial aspect of this proposal ?
– Will he tell us what we have paid away under the Act, and what we are going to pay away under this Bill?
– It may be interesting to honorable senators if I read the following return, showing the amount of bounty which has been paid away in each year: -
From this return it will be seen that, while there has been a decrease in New South Wales, there has been a very considerable increase in Queensland, and, therefore, a largely increased production of sugar under white conditions in that State. It may be said that the bounty has increased annually at the rate of about . £30,000. Sir William Lyne has supplied me with a memorandum, in which he says -
I have bad prepared in the form of a table an estimate of the quantity of white grown sugar that will be produced from 1907 onwards. The estimate is based upon an excise duty of £4 per ton, and upon a bounty of£3 per ton. From 1907, until 1911, it is estimated that the annual consumption of sugar within the Commonwealth will be approximately 200,000 tons. This will represent, by way of excise, a sum of £800,000 per annum. The estimated production of white grown sugar in 1907 is set down at 107,000 tons; in 1908, at 122,500 tons; in 1909, at 138,000 tons; in 1910, at 153,500 tons; and, in 1911, at 169,000 tons.
– Are those official figures ?
– Yes. Directly the Bill comes into operation the excise receipts will increase considerably ; but so soon as the production of white-grown sugar increases the amount of excise received will decrease. I believe that the amount of excise we shall gain in the first year is £300,000.
– That is impossible.
– I understand that the bounty for white-grown sugar is to be in- creased?
– Yes, and the excise is increased from £3 to £4 per ton. The increase of excise will result in a large increase of receipts from black-grown sugar, and will make no difference in respect of white-grown sugar.
– What will be the loss of revenue for the first five years?
– I cannot say now, but I shall be. able to give the information when we get into Committee. Honorable senators will, of course, understand that I have had so many Bills to master within the past few days that I have not been able to obtain full details concerning them all. But by the time we get into Committee, I hope to have obtained all the information that can be desired. As to the Bill itself, it provides for the extension of the bounty from 1906 to 1 91 1. The amount of the bounty is to be altered, so that instead of£2 being repaid to those who grow sugar by white labour, we shall give them £3 ; and, instead of the excise being £3 perton, it will be £4. There is nothing more in the Bill, except machinery provisions to give effect to what I have outlined.
– I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister, and to, the Senate. Those honorable senators who have studied the Bill will recognise that there is really only one point to discuss. That being so, it will be quite competent to take the debate in Committee. The Minister has told us that he has not available the figures which it will be recognised are essential to a proper understanding of the subject. As he has promised to obtain all the necessary information, I suggest that we should allow the Bill to go into Committeepro forma, and discuss the important features of it on Monday.
– I should be glad if we could have an understanding that before the Senate parts with this Bill we shall have the Excise Bill before us. I do not think we ought finally to agree to the payment of the bounty until we have that measure under our consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 - “ White-grown cane or beet “ means sugarcane or beet produced on a white plantation and in the production of which white labour only has been employed after the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and seven, or for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the delivery thereof for manufacture or (in respect of the cane crop which will be cut in the year 1906) from the commencement of this Act to the delivery of the cane crop for manufacture.
Clause verbally amended.
– I intend to move -
That the words “ in respect of the cane crop which will be cut in the year 1906” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ in the case of cane cut in the year 1906, after the expiration of one monthafter the commencement of this Act.”
We wanttogive the growers a little time to get ready. This amendment will give them a month.
– There are some matters of importance connected with this clause, and I suggest that progress should be reported.
Attendanceof Senators : Public Servants in Civic Positions : Federal Capital.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– It has been the custom at the close of every session for Ministers to compile a return showing the attendance of honorable senators.
– Ministers have nothing todo with that. It is done by the Clerks.
– Will they see that it is done this session ?
– It is always done.
– We might also havewhat would be more valuable - a return showing the attendance of honorable senators at divisions, including the pairs.
– I think that is also done.
– The information is given in Hansard. The ordinary return is misleading, because it does not show the actual attendance of honorable senators. It ought to show the number of divisions taken, and the names of those honorable senators who have taken part in divisions, including pairs.
– Pairs are not recognised.
– They are recognised in Hansard.
– Honorable senators are supposed to be here. We cannot recognise pairs.
– I trust, at any rate, that you will instruct the Clerks to prepare a record of those who have taken part in divisions. I also desire to ask whether
Ministers have taken steps to give effect to the promise which they gave, to take into consideration the advisableness of withdrawing the minute under which public servants are prevented from holding positions on local government bodies. So far as I can learn, nothing whatever has been done. Will Ministers undertake to bring the matter under the notice of the Cabinet?
– I do not “desire to delay the Senate, but I urge upon honorable senators the necessity for remaining at their posts until Parliament actually goes into recess. I understand that there is a movement on the boards to try to substitute Lake George for Dalgety in the Act of Parliament fixing the Capital site. If honorable senators stay away, it is very likely that that movement may succeed. I urge them to post themselves up in the reports of the Commissioners on the various sites, in view of the suggested substitution of Lake George for Dalgety in the Bill which is coming from another place.
– The honorable senator has no right to discuss that Bill before it comes here.
– I have simply said “another place.” That may mean anywhere.
– I do not think that the substitution of “ another place “ for n House of Representatives “ makes any difference; but the honorable senator is not out of order in what he has said.
– If honorable senators are satisfied that Lake George is the site that ought to be selected in preference to Dalgety, by all means let them vote, for it. But Knowing that this movement was on foot, I looked up the Commissioners’ reports, and found that though, when Lake George is full of water, it presents a very beautiful aspect, it is only full occasionally, and sometimes it is absolutelydry. 1 ask honorable senators whether they are going to vote for building a Federal Capital which is to last for all time, on the borders of a stagnant sheet of water, which will give rise to all kinds of diseases, including typhoid.
– That is an absolutely incorrect statement.
– The Senate has already made a selection. I favoured Lyndhurst as against Dalgety ; but I hope the Senate will adhere to its decision, and not give way to any pressure which may be brought to Dear by the New South
Wales Government, led by Mr. Carruthers. Some honorable senators seem to think that it will be an advantage to them politically to make this suggested change. But if any change is made after what has taken place lately, Mr. Carruthers will get the credit of it.
– Is this a debate on the Federal Capital question”?
– We have a standing order which permits irrelevant matters to be discussed on the motion “ That the Senate do now adjourn.” and Senator Higgs is quite in order. I do not think that the rule is a good one, and it was not amongst the original Standing Orders, but the Senate insisted oh its incorporation.
– I think the standing order was adopted at the instance of New South Wales senators. However, we have been shown a photograph of a beautiful city on a beautiful lake - Lake George.
– The honorable senator is casting a reflection on the value of the report, and on the integrity of the man who made it.
– Instead of a beautiful lake we shall have only one partiallyfilled with water, exposing all the dead cats, dead dogs, and other refuse similar to that which finds its way into the stagnant waters at Balmain and elsewhere in Port Jackson. That is not the sort of place we want for a Capital site. I hope honorable senators will bear in mind the urgent necessity there is to adhere to our original selection, and not allow ourselves to be led to depart from it by reason of any political move.
– Senator Higgs began to-day’s proceedings with a motion for a special adjournment, and he concludes the 3ay by taking advantage of the motion for the ordinary adjournment. I shall not follow the honorable senator into an examination of the merits of any of the proposed sites, but simply join with him in suggesting that honorable senators try to be present next week, with a determination to do what they believe to be right.
– Senator Pearce has asked me what has been done in regard to the- promise I made relating to public servants who are hot allowed, in certain cases, to take positions on municipal bodies, and so forth. T may inform the honorable senator that the matter has not been lost sight of. It has been brought under the notice of the Government, and submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs, who will call attention to it in Cabinet at an early date. The record of. the attendance of honorable senators is always printed, but I agree with Senator Pearce that it would be far more interesting and useful if a printed list showing the attendance at divisions were issued. Under the present method, an honorable senator may attend for only a few minutes, and yet he is recorded as having remained for the entire sitting. This affords no real criterion as to the amount of attention any honorable senator may give to his parliamentary duties; and a return of the attendance at divisions would afford more information.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.21 p m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 December 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051215_senate_2_30/>.