2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Amendments of Public Service Regulations 102, 104, and 149; Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 46.
Repeal of Money Order regulation 4, and substitution of new regulation ; Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 40.
Paper relating to the steam service to British New Guinea.
Telegraphic correspondence, dated 7th and 9th July, relating to the canned meat trade.
Treasury regulations; Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 19.
Transfers in connexion withaccounts of the financial year 1905-6, dated 26th June.
Amendment of paragraph 49 of the financial and allowance regulations for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth ; Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 45.
Addition to paragraph98 of the financial and allowance regulations, for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth ; Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 47.
Regulations governing (a) the landing of foreign troops and crews of warships; (b) the use of search lights on board foreign warships; and (c) the surveying of shoreline by boats from foreign ships (Statutory Rules, 1905, No.80), Statutory Rules, 1906, No. 48.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Returns to orders of the Senate, dated 15th June, relating to a proposed building for military purposes, CentennialPark, Sydney ; and an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales for the conveyance of members of the Parliament.
Returns to orders of the Senate, dated 21st June, relating to the rentals of Federal offices in Melbourne; the case of Mr. J. R. Craig and the New Guinea Government ; and a claim of Major-General Hutton in respect to a cable message.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he will have prepared and lay upon the table of the Senate a precis of the correspondence, if any, between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Australia on the subject of thecoinage of silver in Australia ?
– I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, if he does not consider that it is an act of discourtesy to the Governor-General to proceed with public business before the AddressinReply has been presented to His Excellency ?
– I am not aware that there is any standing order whichprevents us from proceeding with business until the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech has been presented.
– I did not ask if there was a standing order to that effect, but whether in the opinion of the leader of the Senate it is not an act of discourtesy to the Governor-General to proceed with public business before the AddressinReply has been presented to His Excellency.
– For how long would the honorable senator like us to adjourn ?
– I do not care In my opinion-
– The honorable senator must not argue the matter.
– I shall not argue it, sir. Possibly the leader of the Senate will say that the Governor-General is not here. That is not a matter which we have to consider. His Excellency ought to be here.
– I do not think that any discourtesy is shown to the GovernorGeneral in proceeding with business. I feel quite certain that His Excellency will not think so.
– In future we can proceed with public business even when the Address-in-Reply has not been agreed to?
– Why ?
– Because there is a standing order which will prevent that from being done.
At a later stage,
– Under standing order 12, I beg to give just notice of my intention to move to-morrow the following motion : -
That the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Opening Speech be presented to His Excellency by the President and such Senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I desire to ask the leader of the Senate to state when it is intended to present the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech?
– I have just given notice of a motion, under standing order 12, which reads as follows: -
A motion will then be made that the Address be presentedto His Excellency the Governor- General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him. [ understand, sir, that when that motion is carried it will be for you to communicate with His Excellency as to the most convenient place where he will receive the Address-in-Reply from the Senate.
– May I ask the Minister of Defence whether there is any reason why that motion should not have been made four or five weeks ago? Had that been done no suggestion could have been made as to an act of discourtesy to or the absence of the Governor-General.
– I do not know that there is any reason why the motion was not moved. My attention was not called to the matter until lately.
– Personally, I see no reason why the city of Adelaide and suburbs should stand in a different position from other capital cities in the Commonwealth. The whole question of an approximation to more uniform rates of postage has been under the consideration of the Cabinet for some time, and very shortly I shall be able to bring the result of our deliberations before the Parliament and the public.
– Will the Minister make a special point of inquiring as to the desirability of giving, at an. early date, if possible, this concession to Adelaide in common with the other capital cities?
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the following statement, which appeared in the Age on Saturday last, is correct : -
The following statement was issued yesterday by the Minister of Defence on the question of the prices charged to officers and men at the Queenscliff military canteen.
Then follow certain remarks upon the minority report, which I had the honour to present to the Minister. I desire to know whether he indorses the statement as it appeared in the press.
– Which newspaper?
– I mentioned the Age; but the same statement, although not headed in exactly the same way, appeared in the Argus, too.
– This statement was drawn up by officers connected with the Commandant of Victoria. I cannot indorse it. I only know that it was mentioned to me that the statements therein contained are accurate. I shall make further inquiry into the matter. I should imagine, however, that the head of the Department in Victoria would not have put forward the statement unless he knew that it was substantially accurate. I cannot say whether it is true or untrue.
– What I wanted to know was whether this announcement is true -
The following statement was issued yesterday by the Minister of Defence.
– I issued the statement upon’ the information supplied to me by the head of the Department in Victoria. I cannot say, that I indorse it any further than that.
– I beg to lay upon the table letters from Mrs. Seddon and the Acting Prime Minister of New Zealand, in reply to letters forwarded to them by the Prime Minister, transmitting memorial copies of the report of the debates of the Commonwealth Parliament in passing resolutions of regret at the death of the Right Honorable Richard J. Seddon, and to ask that they be read by the Clerk.
Letters read by the Clerk (vide page 1294).
– I beg to lay upon the table -
A letter to the Prime Minister from the Premier of New South Wales, dated 4th July, inviting members of the Federal Parliament to visit certain proposed Federal Capital Sites.
Perhaps it would be well, sir, if the letter were read by the Clerk, although I daresay that it has come under the notice of honorable senators in the press. The Minister of Home Affairs has the matter in hand, and if honorable senators will communicate with him he will be able to give them information about the time when the proposed visit is to take place.
Letter read by the Clerk as follows : -
With reference to the Federal Capitalquestion, I have the honour to suggest that members of the Federal Parliament be given another opportunity of inspecting suitable sites in the YassLake George district, and also the Dalgety site, beforeany further steps are taken with regard to the matter. From reports that have been furnished by State officers, it would appear that Mahkoolind, near Yass, possesses great natural advantages as a site for a city, and it would,I think, be advisable to give Federal members an opportunity of seeing the country in that locality.
I have, therefore, much pleasure in extending an invitation to the Comonwealth Parliament to visit Mahkoolind and other desirable areas in the Yass-Lake George district, at such time as may be found convenient.
If the suggestion commends itself to you, it may perhaps be possible to arrange a tour, embracing the Mahkoolind, Hall, Canberrd, Lake George, Molonglo, and Dalgety sites, but if the exigencies of Parliament will not permit of a special adjournment, arrangements could doubtless be made to carry out two week-end tours, one to the sites in the vicinity of Yass and one to the Queanbeyan district, and to Dalgety. Mahkoolind is distant some 29 miles from the town of Yass, and it may be necessary to provide camps under canvas in the neighbouring valley for the accommodation of visitors, but the climate is mild, and no inconvenience would be entailed.
With regard to the expense incidental to the proposed inspections, the State Government,on further consideration, has decided to bear the whole cost ; and Federal members will be asked to become the guests of the State.
I would, therefore, be glad if you would give the matter your favorable consideration, and advise me as to the time that could be made available for the purpose, the dates that would best suit the convenience of members, and the probable number of visitors for whom accommodation and means of transit will be required.
I have, &c.,
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In moving that this Bill be now read a second time, I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that it is, shortly stated, in the main, a re-statement of the principles that Parliament affirmed in the first session, whenwe provided legislation by which the Commonwealth was enabled to acquire property for any of the purposes in respect of which it had power to legislate. It was, I think, fairly early in the session’ of 1901-2 that a Bill to provide for the acquisition of property for public purposes was introduced in the Senate. After a considerable amount of discussion, it was passed on to another place, and eventually became law. Since then ;t’he Commonwealth has been working under the provisions of that Act. It was drawn with the experience of the different States to guide the draftsmen. Those experiences were crystallized in legislative form in the statute-books of the different States, in the shape of Acts founded on precedents adopted from Great Britain. As many honorable senators are doubtless aware, about the twenty-ninth year of the reign of her late Majesty, a very important Statute found its place upon the Imperial Statute-book. It is .known as the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. By means of its provisions, private corporations and others carrying out undertakings that necessitated their requiring the property of individuals, were empowered, after fulfilling certain formalities, to acquire from individuals the properties required for such corporate undertakings. In giving such a large power to private corporations, it was absolutely essential that the private individual who must sacrifice some of his property rights to them should be most amply and fully safeguarded. He should be protected from any aggressive action on the part of corporations, and he should also be assured of receiving from them a very liberal compensation when they do acquire his property for the actual property transferred to them. In addition . to that, he should also be assured, by legislation, of receiving substantial compensation for any incidental damage that might be occasioned to the remainder of his property, either by the severance caused bv the acquisition by the corporation, or incidentally in any other way through the corporation carrying out its works. To that end, the Legislature of the United Kingdom amply protected the individual in every instance. We recognise the same principle in Australia; and. although, many undertakings that properly fall within the domain of private enterprise in the United Kingdom aTe carried out in Australia by public bodies - either bv the Government of the State itself or by municipal corporations - still, it has always been recognised that the private individual whose interest and whose pro- perty rights must, in many instances, be subordinated to these great public enterprises, should be amply compensated for any land of which he may be deprived, or for any property which may be taken from him, and should also be liberally compensated for any damage which may be occasioned to him. In all the States, therefore, we have had legislation enabling the different -States Governments to acquire property for public purposes. In my own State of Tasmania we operated, to a very great extent - at any rate, for the construction of railways - under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts. We also had, auxiliary to that, important provisions which specifically dealt with railway construction ; and for other purposes we had other Acts, such as The Lands Vesting and Lands Resumption Acts, which enabled the State, by virtue of a proclamation published in the Gazette, to resume land for different purposes.
– What is meant by “ public purposes “ ?
– The term is defined in this Bill.
– What is meant by the term in Tasmania?
– They were analogous to the “ public purposes “ defined here. In- this Bill they are specifically defined, always securing to the individual that full, measure of compensation to which he is entitled for being dispossessed of land, or for any incidental damage that may be occasioned by the dispossession. When the draftsmen originally attempted to provide a corresponding Bill, for the Commonwealth in the early days of the first session of this Parliament, he naturally drew, to a very large extent, upon the existing State enactments, and some of those enactments, as I have said, were based upon precedents which are a good many years old. Though, of course, I do not mean to suggest that they lack any virtue by reason of their antiquity, yet the drafting in itself is totally different from the style or system of drafting to which we have been accustomed in more recent years, at least in connexion with our Commonwealth legislation. That newer style of drafting, I think honorable senators will admit, permits of a more ready perception on the part of the ordinary reader of the principles that are embodied in the different sections; and, apart altogether from the fact that the drafting of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act was not . what we may call up-to-date, and did not permit the ordinary reader to grasp the principles of the measure as readily as we should like, it has been found in actual practice that the working of the Act has effected very many inconveniences. It was the intention of the Government, therefore, in the light of the experience that they and previous Governments have had in the working of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, to introduce into this Parliament a Bill which, whilst not radically departing from any of the principles of that measure, will supplement those principles by new provisions of which experience has dictated the necessity. Honorable senators who were not present in the first session of the Federal Parliament, when we passed our Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, have doubtless made themselves familiar with it, if not before the introduction of this Bill, at any rate since the 03111 has. been before the Senate. For their benefit, I should like to indicate in a few words, without going into details, what are the main provisions of that Act. In the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act we provided that the States might dispose bv sale or lease to the Commonwealth of any State lands for the public purposes of the Commonwealth. We provided also that an individual who had the title to lands might likewise sell them or lease them to the Commonwealth for public purposes. Very often an individual holds lands under a title which casts upon him certain obligations, or certain trusts, on behalf of particular persons. It may be that lands are held on behalf of an infant, or of a married woman, or of some other person who is under certain legal disabilities in connexion with the disposition of lands. Our Act accordingly provided that such a person having the legal1 title to land, would be enabled to dispose of it to the Commonwealth, under the provisions of the Act, for the public purposes of the Commonwealth. Provision was also made with regard to the purchase money paid in cases such as those of which I have given illustration. It should be applied in such a way that those who were properly entitled to the interest in the land should receive that purchase money. Then there were provisions, not extensive, but sufficient, to enable the Commonwealth to acquire lands. Power was given to acquire land for public purposes, either from an individual or from a State, and we inserted provisions enabling those lands to be acquired either by private agreement or by compulsory process. So far as the former method is concerned, when the Commonwealth did enter into a private agreement with a State or an individual for the acquisition of land, the Act was practically no longer needed, because all the details as to compensation - when and to whom compensation had to be paid, and everything of that kind - would naturally form part of the agreement that the Commonwealth and the other party entered into. But so far as compulsory purchase or compulsory acquisition was concerned, provision was made, and the system established by the Bill was that the Commonwealth should acquire the lands on publishing a notice in the Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the district where the lands were situated. Further, it was) provided, if I remember rightly, by an amendment introduced in the Senate, that the owner himself, immediately after the publication of the proclamation in the Gazette, should receive a notice directing his attention to the fact that the Commonwealth was about to acquire the land. Provision was also made to enable Parliament, in the next succeeding session after any such acquisition, to avoid the acquisition within a certain period - that is, to declare that- the acquisition should not take place, when, of course, the land would go back to the person from whom it had been sought to acquire it. The ordinary provisions were made for registering any such acquisition, so that the Commonwealth should gel: the title registered in its name, like any ordinary purchaser in the case of conveyance or transfer. Provision was made enabling the Commonwealth, in connexion with the compulsory powers of purchase, to enter on land to inspect, and to ascertain’ if it was suitable for the purpose under consideration) at the time. The Commonwealth was also empowered to take materials from the land under certain circumstances, always subject to a provision that the owner should be compensated by way of rent for such temporary occupation, and also directly for the materials removed. There was a chapter in the Act in which the whole question of compensation was dealt with very extensively. Provision was made for the person who was entitled to compensation to forward his claim to the Minister of the particular Department acquiring the land, and also to the Attorney-General. Then, if the Commonwealth did not acquiesce in the amount claimed, provision was made for the determination of the question. We decided, after considerable discussion, that the tribunal should be a Judge, without_a jury or assessors. It is needless for me to enter into all the reasons which animated honorable senators on that occasion in providing that a Judge of the High Court, or, until the High Court was established, a Justice of a Supreme Court should be the tribunal. It is sufficient for me to say that, after the little experience I have had in such matters, it was a decision which had, at any rate, my hearty concurrence. We also made provision for the payment of compensation when determined, and for the investment or the deposit of compensation in the Treasury, when it had not been taken up by the claimant, and for the right of the claimant to the interest that would accrue on the amount determined in his favour and unpaid.
– I see that the time limit within which the compensation had to be paid is absent from the Bill, although provided for in the original Act.
– I think I shall be able, in Committee, to explain that to the satisfaction of the honorable senator, who, I think, will see that the Bill as it stands is much preferable to the provision of a time limit. We also placed in the Act the necessary provisions as to the claimant executing all necessary conveyances and transfers, the costs in connexion with the same being charged to the Commonwealth. A chapter in the Act dealt with the different interests that would arise in cases where the lands transferred were subject to mortgage, lease, or any incumbrance. Those, in -general terms, are the particular matters with which the existing Act deals. Honorable senators, who have had the Bill in their hands for some time, are naturally anxious to know to what extent this Bill affects the existing Act. At the outset, I may say that in the main the Bill is a redraft or re-casting of the existing Act. The Bill is, I think, drafted in better form, making the law more easily understood bv all who may have recourse to it. It is well for us to remember that this legislation does not merely concern the Departments of the Commonwealth, but may affect at different times quite a large number of persons of all ranks, and classes in the community. The Bill empowers the Common wealth, under certain circumstances, when it requires property for public purposes, to acquire that property, and therefore the Bill is one to which recourse may not improbably be very often had by quite a number of private individuals. It is essential that, complicated as the subject may be, the law should be as easily understandable as possible by every one. The Bill, therefore, is to a large extent a re-cast of the original Act. There has been no radial interference with the principles of the Act, but. as I said before, some supplementary provisions have been included, which the experience of the different Departments of the Commonwealth have shown to be necessary. There have been some amendments of the existing provisions ; and I propose now to point out what these amendments are, and to indicate shortly some of the reasons why they have been introduced. If I take that course it may possibly bring more directly home to the minds of honorable senators what is, in effect, the alteration in the law that the Bill proposes to bring about.
– Under the Bill, is there a right to enter on and survey land it mav be desired to acquire?
– Is there that right under existing legislation?
– Yes; and we have the power to remove certain materials under the existing legislation. But we shall have to deal with all these matters in Committee, when I shall be very pleased to help honorable senators as far as I possibly can to a proper understanding of the differences which exist between the clauses of the Bill and the sections of the present Act. A few alterations have been made in the definition clause, and amongst these is a re-definition of “Crown lands.” Previously we had a definition of “ Crown lands,” which excluded from its scope land in respect to which what might be called a bargain was going on between the Crown and a private individual. By the definition of “Crown lands” in the Bill we mean any land, the property of a State, whether reserved or dedicated for any public purpose or not. Previously if there were negotiations going on for the purchase of the land, and an individual in the community had some interest or modified title in it, the land ceased to be under the Statute Crown land.- Under the Act, the Commonwealth could not deal with the
State as proprietor, but was compelled to enter into arrangements with the person who had a modified interest in the land, and also with the State. Under this Bill, the Commonwealth will deal directly with the Slate in respect of such lands; and the relations of the State and the individual, who may have what might be called an incohate title, will be determined as between those parties themselves.
– That is nice for the conditional purchasers of New South Wales !
– I am perfectly satisfied that the conditional purchasers of New South Wales, or of any other State, can very well trust* to the State with whom they are dealing, and with whom they find themselves in contractual relation. But hitherto the experience of the Commonwealth is that in such cases negotiations have beer considerably hampered through the Commonwealth having to deal with two parties. It is obviously to our advantage to narrow down our negotiations to as few as possible. I am now indicating what is the nature and scope of the amendments. We have in the Bill a definition of “ land “ which does not appear in the original Act. There is a definition of “land “ in the Acts Interpretation] Act, but that is intended to cover a wide variety of Statutes, and it is not a comprehensive definition. This Bill deals peculiarly, and, I might say, almost exclusively, with land, and it is essential that there should be a much more comprehensive definition than the ordinary bald definition in the Acts Interpretation Act, which, though very suitable for general purposes, is scarcely applicable to a measure which deals specifically with land. Clause 6 is a new provision, the object of .which is to make it abundantly clear that when the Governor of a State on behalf of the State exercises the power of disposing of the lands of that State to the Commonwealth for public purposes, he exercises that power directly under the authority of this Act. As honorable senators know, our legislation on all these subjects within our legitimate domain is supreme. If there is any repugnance between our legislation and that’ of a State on a subject in the common domain, of both State and Commonwealth, the legislation of the State is void to the extent of the repugnance. Under the existing legislation, there is some doubt in the minds, at any rate of some persons in the States, whether, when the Governor exercises the power of alienation to the ‘Commonwealth, he does so subject to the limitations of the State law. I have been assured that there is no doubt that a State Governor is not, in such cases, subject to the limitations of the State -law. But to set at rest any such doubts, the new clause 6 provides that the Governor of a State, when acting, does so “ by force of the Act, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the law of any State.”
– Is that the whole difference ?
– That is the whole substantial difference, though I do not say it is the whole verbal difference.
– I mean the whole substantial difference. The original Act gives the Governor power to execute conveyance, ‘ whereas the Bill seems to give him power to sell, and that surely is a wide difference.
– I think the honorable senator will fmd that there is no difference.
– The only power under the original Act was to enable the Governor of a State to execute an instrument, whereas the Bill enables the Governor of a State by Executive act to repeal the laws of a State.
– I can assure honorable senators opposite that I am indicating to the fullest extent the object of the different alterations. There is no intention on the part of the Government of the Commonwealth, or, so far as I now, of the States, to alter the procedure at present in vogue on the point indicated. The idea is to rest the authority of the Governor of a State, in whatever he does, entirely on this Bill, so that there shall be no doub’t as to whether, in the exercise of the powers thus vested in him, he is limited by any State legislation. That is the only object of the clause. I am particularizing these amendments so that I may indicate what their object is; I do not particularize them now for the purpose of entering into any discussion, which would only be anticipating, so to speak, our deliberations in Committee.
-Col. Gould. - I presume the Minister will not simply indicate the alterations, but will give some reasons for their having been made?
– That is what I purpose doing, and the course I am taking will, I think, simplify the matter for all honorable senators. If by any chance any clause goes further, or does not go as far as the particular object intended, honorable senators will have an opportunity, if they agree with the object, to bring that fact under consideration in Committee. A corresponding addition is made in clause 8 ofl this Bill. Honorable senators will see in that clause certain words included within parenthesis which ‘are introduced from the original English legislation upon the subject, and do not find a place in the existing Act. They will serve to rest the authority of a private individual disposing of land under this Bill purely on this Bill, and he will not be hampered in any way by any consideration of State legislation. Such a person as an executor or administrator, a lessee for life, or for a number of years, a guardian, or committee for* a lunatic or idiot, and other persons referred to in the paragraphs of the clause, in exercising the power given by this Bill will have their authority resting upon this Bill alone, and not subject to the limitations df any State law. That is the object of the inclusion of the words referred to.
– Is there not the same power under the existing Act?
– There may be. I am not certain as to that, but this is to make it abundantly clear. Questions have arisen with regard to the point, and different views have been taken of it by different persons, and, I understand, in different States.,
– Will the honorable and learned senator mention some of the views which render this amendment necessary ?
– I have not the details, but I have been informed by the Department that persons have raised the question whether they can, under the authority df the existing Act, execute transfers, assignments, or sales, seeing that they are limited, by reason of State legislation, on account of the peculiar position in which they stand with regard to the land. It is eminently desirable that every scintilla of doubt in the matter should be removed in order that the Commonwealth mav as expeditiously and as reasonably as possible effect the acquisition of any land which may be required for public purposes. In different parts of the Bill, honorable senators will find references made to the Supreme Court. Generally speaking, when in the existing Act reference is made to the Court, it is the High Court of. the Commonwealth, or a Justice -thereof, or, pending the establishment of the High Court, the Supreme Court, or a Justice of the Supreme Court of a State .that is meant. In many instances, since the establishment df the High Court, it has been found that work in connexion with the acquisition of land for public purposes has had to be taken to the High Court, which might much more easily and equally advantageously to all concerned, and’ with much more expedition, have been dealt with by the Supreme Court df a State, or a Justice of the Supreme Court of a State. Consequently, honorable senators will find in more than one place in this Bill that the Supreme Court of a State is invested with co-ordinate powers with the High Court in connexion with various matters affecting the acquisition of land for public purposes. For instance, in clause 11, dealing with the application of the purchase money when paid to persons having partial interest, it is provided in paragraph d that it shall be applied -
In such a manner as the High Court or the Supreme Court directs.
At present, and since the establishment of the High Court, the Supreme Court of a State has no jurisdiction to make such a direction. Again, there is a corresponding re-introduction of the Supreme Court in the first line of clause 12, dealing with the power df the Court to make order’s ‘as to purchase money, and it is provided that -
The High Court or the Supreme Court may, on the application of any person interested, order that any purchase money - and so on. Later on. in clause 38, which deals with actions for compensation, it is provided that - ‘
An action for compensation may be instituted by the claimant against the Commonwealth in the High Court, or in any State Court of competent jurisdiction.
Under the existing law, the High Court alone can entertain suits of this character. In some instances where the amount of compensation is verv small, the claimant can, though honorable senators may think it somewhat strange, practically hold the High Court, so to speak, over the Commonwealth, and force the Hands of the Commonwealth. The provisions as to the payment of costs in connexion with these compensation cases, as honorable senators are aware, are in our existing legislation, as well as in most corresponding legislation elsewhere, very favorable indeed to claimants. It is only in very special instances that costs are awarded against, them. Therefore, where a claimant has a very small claim, he knows that if the Commonwealth authorities do not come to terms with him, he can take them to the High Court, and he may do so in a case in which the costs would be altogether disproportionate to the amount of compensation to which he is entitled. As a consequence, claimants, recognising this, have not been slow, in some instances, to take advantage of the situation, and to refuse to come to terms with the Commonwealth. They have been able to say, “ If you do not come to terms with us quickly, we will have to institute an action, which must be heard in the High Court, and the odds are that you will have to pay your own costs and ours as well.”
– That is not effectively met in this Bill, because it gives the alternative of a State Supreme Court or the High Court
– But there is, later on, a provision that the Court may, in its discretion, award costs against the party claiming, if it be thought that the action should have been brought in another Court of competent jurisdiction.
– That might be so under the existing Act, because costs under that Act are in the discretion of the Court.
– I think not. I think that costs are differently provided for. If the honorable and learned senator can strengthen the provision here sought to be made, without doing injustice to the Commonwealth or the individual claimant, his efforts in that direction will be welcomed.
– Has the honorable and learned senator passed clause 15 in his consideration of the Bill?
– [I have’ not yet referred to it. We have made an amendment in clause 13, the marginal note to which reads - “ Person in possession to be deemed the owner.” Previously, that provision was limited to cases where compensation was actually paid or deposited. Under this Bill the provision applies, to all cases where compensation is merely payable, and, further, it is not necessary that a person should make out what is called a prima facie title before he shall be deemed to be the owner. ‘ That provision in the corresponding section of the existing Act is practically inoperative, because the effect of it is that a person shall be deemed to be the owner who is prima facie proved to be the owner. There have not been many alterations made in .Part II. of the Bill, which deals with the acquisition of land. The provisions of the existing Act have been re-arranged, and I think honorable senators will find that they have been made more clear to the intelligence as well as to the eye. The clauses in this part of the Bill set out succinctly and in small paragraphs the effect of what is contained in very_ lengthy and cumbersome sections of the existing law.
– Why are the words “required for public purposes” omitted after the word “ land “ in sub-clause 1 of clause 15? These words appear in section 3 of the existing Act.
– The only object is to shorten the drafting of the clause.
– But as the clause stands it does not limit the acquisition to public purposes.
– The Bill itself does that.
– No. Where?
– It is a Bill for an Act relating to the acquisition by the Com’monwealth of land required for public purposes.
– Does the honorable and learned senator rely entirely upon the title?
– Yes. The omission of the words referred to is merely to shorten the section of the existing Act - there is no other design in it.
-Gol. Gould. - It would be much safer to have the words in.
– The existing Act has practically the same title, but it repeats these words in section 3.
– Many of the superfluous words in the drafting of the existing Act have been omitted in the draft.ing of this Bill. As no doubt Senator Clemons has noticed more than once, the existing Act in many of its sections has been drafted on what might be called the old system of conveyancing. Many of the old conveyancers were abundantly cautious, and very often unnecessarily extended the clauses of documents drafted by them. There is no object in the omission of the words referred to in clause 15. other than that of shortening the section.
-Col. Gould.– Brevity is sometimes dangerous.
– Quite so; but I think that honorable senators will find that certainty has not been subordinated to brevity in this case. It .has been possible to reduce the verbiage of the sections of the original Act. The corresponding clause in the existing Act reads -
The Governor-General may agree with the owners of any land which is required for any public purpose, and with any State where such land is Crown land of the State - and so on. In the definitions in the Bill before honorable senators the word “land” will include the Crown land of a State, and a reference to the Crown land of a State in the various clauses becomes unnecessary. This enables us to considerably reduce the verbiage of sub-clause i of clause 15 in comparison with that of section 3 of the existing Act.
– That reduction is arrived at by the definitions, but I have referred to what is a very significant omission.
– In the same part of the Bill dealing with the acquisition bycompulsory process we take advantage again of the fact that the word “owner” under this Bill includes a State by providing in sub-clause 1 of clause 16 that -
The Governor-General may direct that any land may be acquired by the Commonwealth from the owner by compulsory process.
In sub-cluase 2 of this clause there is an alteration. According to the existing law, it was necessary that the notification should only be published in the Gazette, but that it should also be published in a newspaper published or circulated in the State or part of the Commonwealth wherein the land is situated. That portion of the original provision has been eliminated, and the publication under this Bill would only appear in the Gazette. If I recollect rightly, when the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Bill was first introduced in the early part of the first session, the notification was required to be published in the Gazette, and by advertisement in a newspaper in or circulated in the State or district. Subsequently to that, I think on the motion or suggestion of Senator Symon, additional provision was made for notice, and we find that in a subsequent section of the existing Act the obligation is thrown upon the Commonwealth of sending notice to the person whose land is to be acquired. At any rate, we have, in addition to the Gazette notice, provision that the person concerned’ must receivenotice if he is reasonably getatableLater on, we shall come to a clause in which an amendment has been made in regard to that matter, and which, providesfor still further precaution in the case of an owner of land who may be absent from, the Commonwealth. The next amendment of any consequence is contained in. sub-clause 2 of clause 17. It really makesprovision as to the effect of the notification of resumption or acquisition in thecase of Crown lands. It deals with the effect of it, so far as the dedication or reservation is concerned. Clause 19 dealswith the subject of giving notice directly to the owner of the intention to acquirehis land. Sub-clause 2 says -
If the owner cannot after diligent inquiry befound, a copy of the notification, together witha plan of the land, shall be left with the occupier of the land, or if there is no occupier, shall be affixed upon some conspicuous part of the land.
– Substantially, it is the same as sub-section 1 of section 13 of the present Act.
– The effect of thealteration is that if the owner is out of the Commonwealth, we still must serve him,, or send him a notice. Under the existing Act it is not necessary to send? him a notice; a copy need only be left with the occupier of ‘the land. So far when owners are out of the Commonwealth that apparently is the only procedure adopted. Under the proposed’ amendment, if the owner is out’ of the Commonwealth it will still be necessary tosend him a notice bv registered- letter. But if it is not get-at-able by post or otherwise, then and then only can recourse behad to the method of serving the occupier with a notice, or posting it upon a conspicuous part of the land. In clause 27 we find a corollary to the definition, of” Crown land, which, as I said before, results in placing the Commonwealth in thisposition, that iri connexion with these landsit will deal with one party only, and that is the State. There are’ no other substantial amendments of the existing law until we come to Division 2 of this part of theBill, headed “ Claims for Compensation.”” Clause 33 deals with the question of claims being served upon the Minister. As I said previously, a claimant will r.o longer be under the necessity of serving a duplicate notice of his claim, that is to say. one- upon the Minister affected by the acquisition, and another upon the AttorneyGeneral. A claim to the Attorney-General will be absolutely unnecessary. Then provision is made in the clause for prescribing the forms in which claims shall be sent in. At present there is a lengthy provision dealing with the question of claims, which is somewhat complicated, and not very readily intelligible, at any rate, to the lay mind. In clause 34 we have effected a substantial alteration, which is rendered necessary through what must have been an oversight in the drafting of the present Act. In paragraph b we provide that in a claim for damage suffered by reason of the exercise of any powers under Part III., the notice of the claim shall be given within 120 days after the completion of the acts in respect of which compensation is claimed. In the corresponding section of the present Act we placed together, and dealt with jointly in this connexion, a claim for compensation for the land itself, and a claim for incidental damage. We provided that in each case the claim should be forwarded within 120 days after the acquisition, or after the notification. Obviously the matters of incidental damage and compensation for land actually acquired need not necessarily date from the same moment. The lands may have been gazetted as acquired ; they may have been entered upon 100 days afterwards, and on the tenth day after they had been entered upon the incidental damage may have been occasioned. Under the present law, the claim for that damage will have to be served upon the Minister within 120 days from the acquisition. By this Bill it is made 120 days from the acts complained of occasioning the damage. It puts these cases of compensation not upon the same but upon an exactly parallel plane to a case of compensation for land actually acquired. Sub-clause 2 of this clause enables the Minister to extend the time for putting in a claim. At present the time may be extended, but in order to get an extension the claimant has to apply to the High Court. In clause 35 we re-enact, in effect, the existing legislation; but we do not tie the Minister down to any particular time within which he must forward the claim on for report, nor do we tie down the officers to whom he sends for a report to any particular time within which they may furnish it. It makes the existing provision much more elastic. In future, after the Minister has obtained a report as to the valuation which the Commonwealth should set upon the land, he will not be bound to communicate it to the claimant.
– But will the claimant be able to get compensation if the Minister does not want to give him any?
– There is a time within which the claimant may sue the Minister after the notification of the acquisition. Sub-clause 3 of clause 35 is a new and very important provision. It casts upon the claimant the onus of accepting or rejecting by notice in writing the offer that the Minister may make to him to compensate him. There is no similar provision in the present law, and the consequence is that, when the Minister has the claim examined, he may obtain a valuation which is utterly disproportionate to the amount of the claim. He may notify the claimant of that fact, and of how much he is going to pay him, and the claimant can simply sit idly back and do nothing. He, so to speak, is upon velvet. The Minister cannot force him to take the money, and the claimant need not take it.
– As the Minister has the land, why need he bother?
SenatorKEATING. - The claimant knows that his money is bearing interest all the time. Practically, he can hang the matter up. I am sure that my honorable and learned friend would not like to have a lot of moneys in connexion with different lands hung up.
– They are not the Minister’s moneys. . He pays in the smallest sum which he is advised to pay in respect of the land. That belongs to the owner of the land, and why should he not leave the money there at interest, if he likes ?
– Quite so. No Minister wants to have the public accounts hampered by a number of accounts such as these, which require acertain amount of attention and watching. Under this provision, it is proposed that the claimant shall, within sixty days, notify his acceptance or rejection of the offer.
– But the money can remain there, all the same?
– Quite so.
– It is not proposed that, if the claimant should not notify within sixty days, the Minister shall take out the money, and the land-owner forfeit it?
– Certainly not. In a later part of the Bill there are provisions dealing with, money so left with the Government, and other steps are taken to induce a claimant to lift his money as speedily as possible. In Division 3 of Part IV. of the Bill, provision is made for the methods by which any dispute or difference as to compensation shall be determined - agreement, action for compensation, or by a proceeding in the Federal or a State Court on the application of the Minister. Paragraph c of clause 37 is entirely new. The Departments have found that sometimes a claim has been put in, the Minister has notified the amount which he will pay to the claimant, and the claim is one in dispute. The onus now is upon the claimant to take an action for compensation, and unless he does, the matter remains absolutely hung up. In order that it shall be expedited, if the claimant shows an indisposition to take proceedings in a Court, we now empower the Minister to initiate proceedings to prevent the whole matter from being hung up indefinitely. That, I repeat, is a new provision. I have already made a reference to clause 38, which gives to the States’ Courts jurisdiction, or enables them to share juris- diction, which at present is exclusively enjoyed by the High Court. In paragraph c, Senator Symon will see more particularly the matter to which I referred, when he raised the question as to the alternative still being open to a claimant to go to the High Court, or to any other Court. It says -
If the Court is of opinion that the action might have been brought in a lower Court, costs, if awarded to the claimant, shall only be allowed on the scale applicable to costs in the lower Court, unless the Court certifies that special circumstances existed which made it proper to institute the action in the higher Court.
That is a provision which I have no doubt > has its analogy in the legislation in many qf the States. In Tasmania, we have a similar provision in connexion with actions which are maintainable, both in the Supreme Court and in -inferior Courts of statutory jurisdiction.
– Is there any definition or indication of the proceeding which the Minister may take, under paragraph c of clause 37?
– Yes, in later provisions, to which I shall, refer presently. Clause 39 is another provision which is designed as far as possible to prevent matters from being hung up as they have been in many instances. That is, if within six months the claim has not been determined, and no proceeding has been taken, then the Minister may apply to the High Court, or to a State Court, in which an action for compensation may be instituted, to determine the claim, and1 the Court shall, after notice to such persons as it directs, hear the application and determine the amount of compensation. It is also provided that the determination of the Court shall be final and conclusive, and that the Court may make such an order for costs as it thinks fit. That is a provision which enables the Minister to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court in such cases. As I have said, the object of this is to prevent matters being hung up. I understand that some of the Departments have been considerably hampered, under existing legislation, by reason of the indisposition of claimants to pursue their claims. In other instances where money has been determined’ upon as the compensation to be paid toclaimants, that money has not been takenup by them. The ultimate responsibility to hand it over to the claimants, and to guard it in the meantime, rests with theGovernment, and the Government does not welcome any responsibility other than that which it owes generally to the public. Consequently, this legislation is designed to induce claimants, when their compensation has been fixed, to lift it as early aspossible.
-Col. Gould. - They get no interest after it Kas been paid into the Treasury.
– We have a provision as to when payment of interest shall cease. That is contained in clause 41 of this Bill. Clause 40 is analogous, in somerespects, to the- preceding clause. But, whereas the latter provides that where the party does not go on with his proceedings for compensation, this is to deal .with a case where no application for compensation is made at all - where the acquisition has taken place, where the owner, so far as was possible, has been notified, and where noclaim has been put forward1. I may mention here a matter that I overlooked in dealing with another part of the Bill - that this measure abolishes the right at present enjoyed by claimants in respect of claims not exceeding ,£1,000, to have recourse to arbitration. Under the existing legislation -I think it is embodied in section 18, subsection 1, of the Act - the claimant has the option, without the consent of the other party, of having the matter determined by arbitration. This Bill abolishes that right.
– Why take away the power to arbitrate in small cases?
– The reasons why arbitration was dispensed with in the larger cases over£1,000 apply, we think, equally to cases in which the amount involved is less than that amount. I have no doubt that my honorable friend has had some experience of arbitration proceedings, and I think that, with all due deference to those who generally take part in those proceedings, it must be admitted that the superiority of the tribunal that is proposed by this Bill - namely, a Judge - is very considerable.
– But why abolish the right in small cases?
– I do not care to pit my own personal opinion against the judgment of my honorable friend, who has been the administrator of the Lands Department of one of the States, but, so far as I have seen, in cases where arbitration has been the method of determining disputed amounts, it has been peculiarly inappropriate, more especially where the Government had to pay the costs in every instance where the claimant received more than the amount which he claimed. We know, for instance, that such cases as the following have occurred where there have been many small properties to be acquired. A person who is a claimant appoints his arbitrator. Does he go round looking for a man of a judicial turn of mind? No. He naturally selects his best friend. His best friend in such cases often happens to be his next-door neighbour, who, indeed, himself happens very often to be closely interested in the transaction. It may be that next day the next-door neighbour himself will be a claimant. So that Mr. A., the claimant of to-day, appoints Mr. B., his nextdoor neighbour, who may be a claimant to-morrow, as his arbitrator ; and when Mr. B. claims against the Government he appoints Mr. A. to arbitrate for him. That is by no means a hypothetical case.
– Then the Government appoints its own man, and the two arbitrators appoint an umpire.
– In many instances the great battle takes place over the appointment of the umpire. Each arbitrator naturally endeavours to secure the appointment of one who will take his own view of things. I do not think that arbitration, especially in small matters, is the best method of procedure. As a matter of fact, a man who is appointed an arbitrator can very rarely escape the knowledge of nearly all the evidence relating to the transaction long before it is officially brought before him.
– And arbitration is not very cheap either.
– No; in small matters the costs of arbitration are usually disproportionate to the results. In clause 41provision is made with the object of discouraging the indisposition on the part of claimants to terminate their transactions with the Government. Where the compensation is not more than the amount offered by the Government in satisfaction of the claim it is provided that the claimant shall only receive interest up to the date when the offer of the Minister was made. Under the existing law the interest runs from the time of the acquisition until the payment of the money to the claimant, or until the deposit of the compensation in the Treasury. A claimant claims from the Government, say,£1,500 for certain land which has been acquired for defence purposes, or for the Post Office, or for a Customs building. Say that he is granted or offered£850. He declines to take that sum. When he finds that he has to take it, he lets it lie, and gets 3 per cent. interest on it from the time when, the land was acquired - not from the time when the amount was awarded to him - until the amount is paid over to him. He says, “ I am not going to take it away; let it lie with the Government, who will pay me 3 per cent.interest upon it.” The transaction is completed, so far as the Government is concerned, and why should the Government be compelled to keep accounts for people who want investments for their money or who cannot find a better means of investing it? They want the Govern ment to take the responsibility of holding their money for them, and to pay it over to them whenever it suits their convenience to take it. Of course, that interest would cease if the amount were deposited in the Treasury ; but under this provision, where the claimant gets less money when the compensation is determined than he was offered by the Minister, the interest is only to run from the time of the acquisition of the land until the time when the money was actually offered to him. In clause 43 there is an alteration, to which Senator Millen has referred. It also belongs to the time limit provision, and it says -
Any claimant or person entitled to any compensation shall, upon application to the Minister and upon making out, lo the satisfaction of the Attorney-General, a title to the land in respect nf which the compensation is payable, and upon executing such conveyances or assurances as the Attorney-General directs, be entitled to receive payment of the compensation.
The section of the Acf which that clause amends is, I think, section 20. The reason why the time in which to pay is proposed to be abolished is because it is provided that the claimant shall be entitled to his payment forthwith.
– But we know what “ forthwith “ means in the eyes of a public Department when it has to pay money.
– The provision as to payment within one month was more directory than anything else.
– If it is only directory there is no objection to retaining it.
– The whole object of this Bill is to insure expedition in disposing of claims of this character. The Government wants to get these matters out of hand as quickly as possible.
– Does not the Minister think that an effectual means of doing that is to stop the claimant’s interest? He will pretty quickly take his money when his land is gone.
– If he succeeds in. getting by way of compensation more than the Minister offered to him, of course his interest does not cease to run. His interest runs from the time of acquisition to the time of the deposit of the money in the Treasury; and this Bill would enable the Treasurer to invest such deposits in the Government securities of any State.
– Where a man’s land has been acquired by the Crown, and his claim has been adjusted, and he is entitled to a certain sum, the existing Act says that that sum shall be paid within the month. This Bill leaves it optional for the Minister to hang on to it for twelve months.
– The Act has not been altered with the view to enable the Government to hang on. to the money.
– There seem to be so many provisions which increase the power. of the Government as against the owners of property that I am a little bit suspicious.
– No alterations are made in the original Act, except such as are justifiable in the public interest. Although I have explained that many claimants have not taken the compensation awarded to them, yet this Bill is not put forward in any spirit of revenge, but simply to enable the Departments in future to get these bothering claims out of the way as speedily as possible. There are some honorable senators present who have been Ministers of the Crown in various States, and I am sure that they will agree with me that the determination and dealing with these claims takes up a considerable amount of the Minister’s time, especially in connexion with the acquisition of lands for public purposes. Under clause 44 it is provided that the amount awarded as compensation is to be deposited in the Treasury, and that the Minister shall also deposit in the Treasury a memorandum setting out the proceedings in connexion with which the money has been deposited. That is a new provision. Under clause 45 the Treasurer is empowered to invest the compensation deposited in the Treasury in the Government securities pf any State. One condition is that the investment is at the risk of the person entitled to the compensation, and another is the power to make a small charge for the supervision of the account. Honorable senators will observe that once the compensation has been awarded, it becomes in effect the property, of the claimant. If he does not take it up, the Minister may deposit the amount in the Treasury ; and if the Government choose to invest the compensation in Government securities for the benefit of the claimant, it should be at his risk - the compensation is waiting there, and the Government do not wish it to remain - and there should be a small charge for supervision.
– Will the Commonwealth keep the security in which they invest the money?
– The Commonwealth will invest the money, and hold the security until the claimant takes the compensation.
– What possible risk can there be in the Commonwealth, on behalf of the claimant, investing in Commonwealth security?
– I do not know that there would be any risk; but at present there are no Commonwealth securities.
– The Minister does not mean to reflect on the States securities ?
– Certainly not ; but it is a trouble and an annoyance to have to look after such accounts. If a number of people take advantage of the law providing that the money may be paid into the Treasury, and of the fact that the Minister may invest the money in State securities, and that, I think, is highly desirable, then the persons who will ultimately receive the interest ought to pay something for supervision. A claimant ought to be prepared to incur some risk, and pay a small chargefor a desirable investment, in which both principal and interest are looked after.
– That only applies to a case where a claimant is entitled to interest.
– The Commonwealth say, “We will pay the interest, but as we have so much money, it is only fair we should have leave to invest.”
– Quite so.
– Why. should the risk be taken by a person to whom the Commonwealth is liable?
– The claimant is at liberty to take the money and invest it for himself.
– A claimant has no right to force a loan on the Commonwealth.
– A claimant has no right to force money on the Commonwealth.
– But the Commonwealth will have the claimants land. Does the Minister think that many will leave their money in the Treasury?
– We are not liable to pay the claimant interest after the amount is deposited in the Treasury ; but, if the money is lying there, and he is not likely to take it up for two years or, possibly, twenty year’s, is it not as well that it should be invested in the Government securities of the States?
SenatorSir Josiah Symon. - But why at the claimant’s risk? The claimant is not entitled to interest, and the Commonwealth is under no obligation to invest. Why not avoid risk by not investing the money ?
– This is the power for which the Treasurer asks, though he does not say he is going to exercise it. If the optional course of investing the money is taken, it is quite right that those who will reap the benefit should take the risk and pay a small charge. By clause 46 we, for the first time, provide for a certificate from the Attorney-General to the effect that the claimant has executed all the necessary conveyances, transfers, and other documents before being entitled to compensation. By clause 50, we enable a mortgagee to have his interest represented, and his amount of compensation determined in cases of compulsory acquisition,. There is no similar provision in the existing legislation. The clause enables the mortgagee to join with the mortgagor, or to make an independent claim ; or if the mortgagee is generous enough, or the circumstances warrant it, he is enabled to waive his rights altogether to any compensation. There are only two other important amendments of the law made by the Bill. One amendment is dealt with in clause 63, which is entirely new, and the other is dealt with in clause 66. The latter is a small clause, which, in some circumstances, might or might not be important. It simply empowers persons dealing with the Minister to serve notices on him by sending them through the post. The Minister already has power to deal in that way with persons who are affected by the compulsory acquisition of land ; and the clause gives a corresponding right to the other parties. Clause 63, which is more important, enables the Governor-General to authorize the grant of mining leases and licences, and provides as to the law which shall operate in connexion with the exercise of any rights so conferred. I shall give some concrete illustrations of the necessity for this clause. The Commonwealth, in various States, possesses, in and around mining districts, properties occupied for rifle ranges, postoffices, and so forth. In some instances, it has been found that the mining operations bring those engaged right up against what may be called the boundary line between Commonwealth and State; and the question has arisen, if those mining operations are continued, and extend over the Commonwealth boundary, what particular law is applicable. Applications have been made to the Commonwealth Government for the right to mine under rifle ranges in different parts of the Commonwealth; and, seeing that the Commonwealth has jurisdiction over its territory independently of any State authority, the question arises what law shall operate in relation to such mining. To get over that difficulty, provision is made in clause 63 that, subject to the regulations, the laws of the States in which the land is situated, relating to mining, shall, as far as applicable, apply to leases and licences granted under the clause.
– Is it proposed to start a Mines Department under the Commonwealth?
– Certainly not; we propose to take full advantage of the laws relating to the several States Departments of Mines. It is simply provided that if a mining lease or licence be granted by the Governor-General to carry on mining on Commonwealth property, say, in Victoria, the mining laws of Victoria shall apply.
– But preliminary to that you take away from the States, and hand over to the Common-‘ wealth, the mining rights under the surface. Supposing that in York Peninsula an area is devoted to a drill ground, then all the mining rights vested in any company pass to the Commonwealth, and the Governor-General has to grant them anew.
– The Commonwealth will own the whole of the land, and all the mining rights, amongst other rights.
– By the first paragraph of the clause all these rights are taken away from the States.
– They are not taken away from the States.
– Yes, because the lease must be granted by the Commonwealth.
– But at present the State cannot grant a lease in respect of the land.
– The State can do so for mining, because the Commonwealth only wants the surface.
– When the Commonwealth acquires land, it does not simply acquire the surface right.
– That may or may not be.
– That is one of the questions which arose betweenthe States and the Commonwealth, and which is determined by section 6 of the Act.
– It is a question, is it not, of what is acquired? If the Commonwealth simply acquires ah area for a drill ground, the existing mining rights will not pass without some express arrangement.
– That may or may not be, but, in most of the cases, property comes to the Commonwealth direct from the Crown in the States. There was no reservation, as against the Commonwealth, when the properties were transferred; they came over bodily by operation of the Constitution.
– Some of them.
– The great majority of them, in connexion with which difficulty has arisen.
– Other lands may be acquired by the Commonwealth in the future.
– Quite so, and from a private individual, who has already acquired the land from the Crown in the State subject to a reservation. That reservation in those other cases might still be operative against the Commonwealth.
– In some places there always is, or was, a reservation in regard to mining.
– That is the case in Tasmania.
– And it is most desirable that there should be the reservation in the other States.
– That is so, and the clause to which I am referring clears up the whole question.
– Does it?
– It does.
– The States ought to be consulted.
– I know some cases in which the States have declined to deal in any way in relation to mining on properties that have been transferred to the Commonwealth. I think honorable senators will find that this clause solves the difficulty ; and there is no intention on the part of the Commonwealth to establish a Mines Department. Let us take, for instance, the barracks reserves throughout the Commonwealth, which, at the time of Federation, were transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. These reserves, from the surface right down to the centre of the earth, so to speak, were transferred - there was no reservation as against the States as to a higher authority in relation to mining rights. These properties, exactly as they stood, were bodily transferred to the Commonwealth by the operation of the Constitution.
.- Were they? They were not all occupied by the Crown for public purposes.
– I am speaking of lands that were exclusively used in connexion with the transferred Departments.
– The transfer of a drill ground does not mean the transfer of the minerals.
– But I am pointing out that there are many properties in the Commonwealth formerly exclusively used by the States in connexion with the transferred Departments, and these were handed over.
– The surface rights.
– More than the surface rights.
– Does not the feesimple of a rifle range become the property of the Commonwealth?
– That may or may not be ; there may be only the right to shoot over a strip.
– In all grants the minerals are reserved.
– In many instances, those properties had not been dedicated, but were held without any express proclamation. To solve the difficulty, it is proposed that the Governor-General may authorize the granting of licences or leases to mine in respect of such lands. I know one instance in which an application was made by a person for a quarrying licence in connexion with property that had come over to the Commonwealth under the Constitution. The Mines Department of the particular State declared that it had no jurisdiction; and the applicant then came to the Commonwealth Government, which was naturally very loth to grant, under any terms, a quarrying right. For some time it was considered what course should be followed - whether the applicant should be allowed to enter into a private arrangement with the Commonwealth to exercise a quarrying right, or whether the Commonwealth should notify that it would grant such a right to any successful tenderer. Eventually, the matter was hung up, it being concluded that nothing should be done until some uniform practice, sanctioned by Parliament, had been adopted. To that end, this clause has beer introduced; and it is a fair and reasonable proposal, to which I invite the consideration of honorable senators. I think I have finished outlining all the provisions in this Bill which affect the existing law. I may have departed to some extent from the traditional second-reading speech, but it has been with the object of bringing clearly to the minds of all honorable senators the important bearings of the new provisions which we invite them to pass. This Bill deals with a subject which in many respects is complicated and intricate, and rather than indicate in a general fashion what is the proposed alteration of the law, I thought it would be better for honorable senators if I dealt seriatim, and as they occur in the Bill, with the different amendments of the existing law which the Government are asking honorable senators to consider. I trust that, with the explanation I have given of those amendments, as complete an explanation as I could possibly give, honorable senators will be enabled to approach the consideration of the Bill with perhaps a little more advantageous attention than if they had had to study it through clause by clause with the existing legislation. As I said at the outset, it is a recast, so to speak, of our existing law, but a recast, as I anticipate honorable senators will agree, in a far better form for Parliament, the public, and all who will be directly or indirectly affected by the law. The new provisions, the reasons’ for which I have sought to indicate as clearly as I could at this stage, have been decided upon only after four or five years’ experience of the working of the existing law. While they will enable the Commonwealth Government to carry on its functions, and to acquire property which may be required for the discharge of those functions as expeditiously as possible, it will, I think, be found that there is in them no derogation from the rights of the individual. The individual will be amply protected by the provisions of this Bill, and will have insured to him the fullest measure of compensation for whatever sacrifices he may be called upon to make to the Commonwealth’. He will also be liberally compensated for any incidental damage that may be occasioned to him. In these circumstances, I have very much pleasure in submitting to the kindly and generous consideration of honorable senators the Bill the second reading of which I have moved.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) adjourned.
– I ask leave of the Senate to add a paragraph to my motion, and I move -
I am in hope that this motion will have the sympathy, and perhaps the cordial support, of most honorable senators. The first portion of it is rendered necessary by the unaccountable delay on the part of our friends in the Government in issuing the proclamation bringing the Papua Act into force. The second part is due to the action of some member of the Government in casting about outside Australia for an Administrator for the Possession. The legislation embodied in the Papua Act, which we passed last year, found a place in the Governor-General’s Speech issued by almost every Federal Cabinet. It was, I think, brought before Parliament during each session that had, up to the time of its passing, been held. It was delayed because we endeavoured to amend certain provisions affecting the liquor and land questions. Finally we arrived at a compromise, and, with all its faults, I think that the measure as passed is a very good one for the Possession. The Government were to bring the Act into force by a proclamation, which for some reason has not been issued, though it is nine months or more since the Act was passed. What has been the state of affairs for several years, and in fact ever since we talked of taking over the Territory ? I suppose it would be impossible to point to a single publication, article, or letter, including private correspondence, having reference to British New Guinea, that has not been in disparagement of the administration. Every year we have had complaints about the administration in regard to the lands of the Territory, and as to the manner in which the white miners have been treated. Every one is agreed that the condition of affairs in New Guinea was, and is, chaotic. A great deal of the trouble has been placed at the door of the Federal Parliament, because it was said that we had neglected to pass the Papua Act to meet the requirements of the Territory. I am in hopes that the leader of the Government in the Senate will be able to give us some reason why there has been so much delay in proclaiming the Act. The honorable senator may tell us, as we have been informed in the press, that the proclamation has been delayed because certain new ordinances are in course of preparation, and that when these have been adopted the Act will be proclaimed. It would appear to be a very unbusinesslike way of proceeding to ask the gentleman or gentlemen who are responsible for the mismanagement of New Guinea to draw up new ordinances. Surely it would* have been better to proclaim the Papua Act, to appoint a new Administrator, and’ a Legislative Council, and to ask the Legislative Council to draw up the ordinances under which the Territory is to be governed ? We are informed by the press that an endeavour is being made to obtain the services of Sir William McGregor, who was at one time Administrator of the Possession.
– A good man.
– I should be one of the last to say a word against Sir William McGregor, except on the ground that he does not happen to be an Australian.
– Poor fellow !
– He did very good work in New Guinea, as we all know ; but Senator Walker, who ironically cheers my remarks, will remember that when Sir William McGregor first went to New Guinea he was about forty-one years of age, and is now approaching sixty years of age.
– The prime of life.
– In these days, when we take a great deal more care of our physical bodies than our forefathers used to do, I am not prepared to say that a man who is sixty years of age is not eminently fitted to carry out most of the duties of life. I do not propose for a moment to disparage Sir William McGregor on the score of his age. But he is now Governor of Newfoundland.
– A rather cold country.
– It is a very cold country, and it would seem to be cruelty to Sir William McGregor to bring him back from those icebound regions and place him in the tropics, where there is a very great deal of work to be done - work which was neglected from the moment he left the Possession and accepted a position elsewhere. He is now Governor of Newfoundland, and is in receipt of a salary of £2,000 a year. The salary proposed for the Administrator of the Territory under the Papua Act is £,”1,250 a year, and it is very unlikely that Sir William McGregor would accept the position of Administrator of New Guinea at a-> salary lower than that which he is now receiving. If he is to accept the position, no doubt the Government will come forward in this Parliament with some proposition to increase the salary of the Administrator of New Guinea. I take the view that the Government will have some difficulty in passing through this Parliament any proposal to increase the salary of the position for anybody who is not an Australian. Even if an Australian should be appointed, I think the Administrator, whoever he may be, should try to make the Possession self-supporting before any increase in the salary of the office is asked for. The Commonwealth is at the present time contributing some £20,001- per annum towards the expenses of the administration of the Territory. Although Sir William McGregor may be perfectly competent to fill the position of Governor of Newfoundland, it is a question whether he is physically able to perform the work required of the Administrator of New Guinea. In the last annual report of British New Guinea, I saw that the Administrator in carrying out his duties had to leave a place called Bailala. and go out to meet a vessel in a whale-boat. On board the whale-boat were the LieutenantGovernor, the Judge, and several of the police. In crossing, the bar, it was upset, and another whale-boat put off from the steamer, and arrived just in time to save the Lieutenant-Governor and the Judge from being drowned. The Administrator of Papua has to travel about the islands in severe weather, and to undergo a very trying experience - one which T very much doubt whether Sir William McGregor, at his age, would be able to undergo. The man * who goes to Papua as Administrator will need to be of about the same age as Sir William McGregor was when he first went there. In nw opinion, he ought to be an Australian. I cannot understand why the Government have delayed for eight or nine months making a selection, and have gone outside the Commonwealth for a man, considering’ that the present Treasurer proposed to the Federal Convention, which sat in Melbourne in 1898, that the Governors of the States should be Australians, and that he quoted with approval Senator Symon as having said -
I understand that we are creating a nation which is to be self-contained and self-sufficing in every possible respect.
This quotation was taken from a speech of the honorable and learned senator as to the. High Court.
– Did Sir John Forrest quote that with approval or with disapproval?
- Sir John Forrest quoted the remark with approval. He said that he was hoping to get the support of the honorable and learned senator for his proposal that the Governors of the States should be appointed by the Federal Government, and should be Australians.
– Suppose that we begin here before we start with New Guinea?
– I agree with Huxley, who says, in effect, “ You want to do the duty which lies nearest at hand.” This is the duty which lies’ nearest to the hand of the Federal Government in that respect. I find that when a vote was taken, Sir John Forrest was supported in his view by Mr. Deakin.
– That was to bring our Constitution into line with the Canadian Constitution, which provides for the appointment of the LieutenantGovernors by the Governor-General.
– With one exception, the members of the Ministry are nativeborn Australians, and that exception is Senator Playford, who arrived here, I believe, when, he was six years of age. The duties of the members of the Federal Ministry are more onerous and responsible in many respects than will be the duties of the Administrator of Papua. What an amount of ridicule would be heaped upon the members of the Cabinet if thev were to seek outside Australia for a person to fill a vacancy ! When we come to deal with the Judiciary Bill, which provides for the appointment of two additional Justices. will there be a proposal made to bring a Justice from outside Australia. We “hall yet an idea then as to what are the opinions of the members of the Federal Parliament in regard to all these positions being open to
Australians. I believe that our friends on the other side of the Chamber, though they might object to the passage of a Bill creating two additional Justiceships, would object to a selection being made outside Australia. Already the Government have appointed an Australian to a very important position in Papua. The Chief Judicial Officer - Judge Murray - is an Australian native. If it was necessary to go outside Australia for an Administrator, why did not the Government seek elsewhere for a man” to fill the position of Chief Judicial Officer in the Possession?
– Can the honorable senator mention any Australian who, in his opinion, is qualified for the position of Administrator ?
– I do not intend to follow the example which the honorable senator set us the other day, when he named various persons who in his opinion are suitable for the position of High Commissioner. I cannot fall in with the view of the Government that an outside person should be selected for this post. Look at the men who are at the head of a number of the commercial enterprises in Australia - our captains of industry. Look at the Australian Mutual Provident Society, of which Senator Walker is’ such an ornament. That institution, which I suppose is equal, perhaps superior, to most of the insurance companies throughout the world, is run by Australians.
– The second officer on the staff is an Irishman.
– Right throughout the gamut of industry in Australia we find Australians at the head of affairs, and they show themselves to be men of considerable capacity. I have been informed bv the Postmaster-General that on his visit to London he found that Australians were competing successfully in intellect with British residents.
– A long way ahead of them !
– That is a sarcastic observation which may suit the honorable senator, who, perhaps, supports Mr. Reid in his view that the cry of “ Australia for the Australians “ is unpatriotic.
– Nobody says that the Australian brain is not a good one.
– If my honorable friends take that view, why do they not support this motion ?
– How does the honorable senator know what we are going to do?
– I should be very glad to go to a vote at once, but I have a kind of intuition that honorable senators will not support the motion. The LieutenantGovernor, who is appointed under the Papua Act, will not only have °the assistance of the Chief Judicial Officer, the Chief Land Surveyor, and sixteen or seventeen resident and assistant resident Magistrates ; but any ordinance which he consents to, or which the Governor-General consents to, must toe placed, as soon as may be, before both Houses of the Federal Parliament. If at any time a Lieutenant-Go-‘ vernor issues a regulation with regard to administration which is unwise or unjust, it will be within the power of this Parliament to remedy it by way of resolution. I cannot understand the action of the Government, nor can I understand the action of the Prime Minister, who very recently said, in Sydney -
The one watchword which naturally belongs to those who sympathise wilh us is “ Australia for the Australians.” The three most potent nations among the young nations are America, Germany, and Japan. The genesis of their greatness was their adoption of a national policy. . . We have material in Australia to-day, fine material for soldiers as well as sailors, men and officers as good as any in the world.
If in Australia we have men who are as good as any men in the world to take charge of our military system, to have the care of the lives and properties of the people, surely, in our population of 4,000,000, we can find ai man who is fitted to govern Papua ! I sincerely hope that honorable senators will vote for the motion. It may meet with the same fate as a number of motions which we have passed herewith the object of giving expression to our views. It may be ignored bv the Government ; but I am in hopes that, if it will have no effect upon them, it will have someeffect upon the electors, who in time may endeavour to bring pressure upon membersof the Federal Parliament to see that all these positions are thrown open to thecitizens of the Commonwealth.
– I second the motion with pleasure, because I consider that to do otherwisethan is suggested in its second part would be to express a want df confidence in the ability of Australians, who are fitted, not only for this particular post, but for higher posts. I am certainly surprised” that a Government which professes to be representative of the Australian Party, and which is forming branches of an organization under that name throughout Australia, should, in the case of a very secondary position such as this, say that in Australia there is no person in whom they have sufficient confidence, and that therefore they must go, not only outside Australia, but to the Northern Hemisphere, to find a man who is fitted to fill the position.
– Surely there is no one who is saying that now ?
– Practically, that is what is being said. The appointment of Sir William McGregor indicates that point of view, if it indicates anything.
– It does not say that there is no one here suited for the post, but that elsewhere there is a man who stands out with particular qualifications for the. post.
– If the Ministry admit that in Australia there are men suitable for the position, why do they go outside to make the appointment? Is it because they have a want of cofidence in Australians? Is it because they are afraid that, if an Australian were placed’ in the position> he would fail, and that his administration would be fatal to the progress of Papua? If that is not so, then Ministers stand absolutely without a defence. They place themselves in a hypocritical position, and their battle-cry, “ Australia for the Australians,” is so much political hypocrisy - an empty phrase. If it means anything, it means that Australians should have a preference in regard to appointments for which they are suited. The Government say that we should give a preference to Australian manufacturers, not only over foreign manufacturers, but over British manufacturers. /If that is their view, then, in making any appointments, we should give a preference to Australian citizens, even over British citizens. That seems to be only logical. I admit that special Qualifications are required for the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. I admit that we need to be very careful in the appointment of an individual, because he will be practically an autocrat. The occupant of the office will need to possess special qualifications, but I believe that within the Commonwealth there are many Australians who possess such qualifications as, for instance, sober judgment and a knowledge of the treatment of coloured races. Many Australians have been brought into touch with the coloured’ races, and have shown their ability to deal successfully with them. Furthermore, there are many Australians who have that knowledge of tropical conditions which is necessary for this post. I think that, as Senator Higgs has said, the Government would strongly oppose any proposal to go outside Australia to make appointments to the High Court Bench. Yet it might be said that Ave have ‘not in Australia lawyers who possess the necessary knowledge for dealing Avith the class of cases that formerly went to the Privy Council. It might, therefore, be argued that we should go to England to get the benefit of the decisions of the Privy Council, composed of lawyers who .have been specially trained to deal with this class of work.
– Sir William McGregor has been specially trained, and has administered the Possession of Papua Avith a great deal of ability.
– So have some of the lawyers on the Privy Council been specially trained to deal Avith Australian cases. They dealt with them ‘for man years.
– In some cases not satisfactorily.
– Who are likely to be the best judges of Australian cases, those who are living here, and are dealing with Australian cases every day, or those who only deal with them occasionally ?
– We hear much about Sir William McGregor’s experience.
– There is no man in Australia who possesses the experience that Sif William McGregor has had. or the recognised ability which he has for the work.
– And there never will be an Australian Avith that experience unless the Government give our own people a chance.
– Until Sir William McGregor dies, it appears Ave shall never have any one Avith his experience of Papua ; and when he dies Ave shall be in the same position as Ave are to-day - that is to say,
Ave shall then have to appoint an Australian and that Australian will have had no previous experience in governing Papua. We shall be no better off when Sir William McGregor dies, or retires, than Ave are to-day. Why then, does not the Government tackle the question now 7 It is said that Sir William
McGregor has all the necessary qualifications for the post. He wasfor some time Administrator of the Territory ; and, so far as concerns methods of dealing with the natives, and keeping them peaceful and in order, my reading teaches me that he was a thorough success. But so far as concerns the development of the Territory, I am not sure that we can say that Sir William McGregor was an unqualified success. I have yet to learn that during his term of office there was any great development of the Territory.
– The honorable senator will admit that he was not allowed to carry out the. suggestions which he made.
– I am not in a position to say that.
– The public records show that he was not allowed to give effect to many of his recommendations.
– I do know that during the same period the Possessions of foreign powers and the Malay States, under British rule, progressed, and were developed to a considerable degree, whereas the Territory of Papua showed no such development. Seeing that Sir William McGregor was under the control off the same Government as controlled the Malay States, it seems to me to be singular that he was not able to show some development at any rate. Furthermore, I have seen during the last week a letter from one of the principal storekeepers in Papua, in which reference is made in the most hostile terms to the suggested appointment of Sir William McGregor. He and others protest against the appointment.
– On what grounds ?
– They give the grounds of general dissatisfaction - because of Sir William McGregor’s treatment of them, and his dealings with the white population generally. They express the hope that he will not receive the appointment. This letter is from a firm which has the principal storekeeping business in the most important settlements in Papua.
– I suppose that the honorable senator has a very fair suspicion of the reason for their protest.
– I have no suspicion. I only know what they say in their letter - that they are not satisfied with Sir William McGregor’s treatment off them, and hope that he will not be reappointed. That is the statement which I have seen, and I repeat it for what it is worth.
– Has the letter been published?
– No; it has not. I believe that there is a number of Australians who, with that adaptability which most Australians have, and with the knowledge of tropical cultivation which some Australians possess, would be a thorough success in this position. There is a feeling that a democracy cannot carry on the work of colonization - that to have successful colonization you must have control by an autocracy, or some form of government very nearly approaching it. There is a tendency to sneer at the efforts of a democracy to deal with the coloured races, and with the work of expansion. What will be said of Australia - this young democracy - if, the first time she has the opportunity to fellow in the footsteps of the mother country, she has not the confidence which the mother country has always had in her sons? Men have been sent from the cold climate of England, with an absolute want of knowledge of tropical conditions, info the most tropical climates, where they have carried on the work of colonization and settlement. What will be said of Australia if, when this young democracy is intrusted with the work of colonization, she does not select one of her own sons, but secures the services of a man who was sent out from England when he was young, with absolutely no experience, and who proved himself, although at first devoid of experience, to be a success? I maintain that if Englishmen have been successful in governing tropical countries, and coloured races, Australians can do the same ; and any honorable senator who says that there are no Australians fitted for this position are placing their country in a secondary position, and have a much poorer opinion of their fellow countrymen than the English Government has of its people. I trust that the Government will do exactly what England has done in the past, and will declare that we can carry on the government of this settlement, that we can develop it, that we can treat the natives as they ought to be treated, making life tolerable for them, and at the same time improve the condition of the country - and that we can do all that with the aid of Australians and under Australian guidance. I trust that we shall declare cur opinion that we have men in this country who are wellfitted for this post.
Senator Sir JO SI AH SYMON (South Australia) [4.55]. - I should like, before this matter goes much further, to say a word or two about it, particularly as my honorable friend, Senator Higgs, did me the honour to make a quotation from a speech of mine, which seems also to have met with the approval of so distinguished a public man as the right honorable member for Swan, Sir John Forrest. I asked my honorable friend’ whether the passage was quoted by Sir John Forrest approvingly, and he assured me that it was. That fact raised the already high estimate which I had of that right honorable gentleman. I do not withdraw or qualify one syllable of the language which my honorable friend quoted, nor do I in any way seek to weaken the sentiment which I then endeavoured to express - a sentiment which I still he-Id, perhaps more strongly than ever - that Australia should be. now that she has entered upon the path, of nationhood, self-sufficing and self-contained in the. largest and best sense, and in every way possible. I most strongly hold to that view still. I think I may say also that I respond to the feeling expressed by Senator Pearce in respect of the capacity of democracies. I do not think that any man has ever taken a line more strongly in favour of the great democratic Constitution which we possess, and of the power and capacity of a democracy, than I have done on all occasions, in season and out of season. But that is not exactly the whole question. I do myself believe that we have in Australia men of equal competence, I will say, to those in any other part of the world. But, in saying that, it seems to me that we cannot forget that in many walks of public life and government - in the control it may >;be, to come to this important instance, of what is really a Crown Colony, a coloured Possession, acquired in the way New Guinea has been - Australians have not had the opportunities of acquiring the special training which is necessary : and although they may have mental powers of a very high order, still they do hot present themselves as possessing immediately that degree of qualification which a Government exercising its responsibilities might think ought to exist before making an appointment. Mv objection to this motion does not rest upon the grounds that my honorable friends have dealt with ; because, so far as I understand the position, the Government has not raised the issue that there is no Australian qualified. The Government has not raised that issue in such a formas to entitle us to pronounce judgment one way or the other. Even if the Government had raised that issue, I should say that I objected to any motion, dealing with an appointment of this kind, before the appointment was made, in a form- which might embarrass the Government in selecting, not an Australian because ‘he is an Australian, but the most suitable man for the post. That is what I say the Government ought to consider.
– But other things being equal, giving the preference to an Australian.
– I will say a word about that in a moment. The Government ought to endeavour to obtain the most suitable man for the post. That is the great and grand condition. But in doing that, the Government should consider those who have had many years’ experience of the kind of work to be done, not mere theorists, not persons who have - as I have done - visited India, or similar countries, and written reports upon them, and seen how the dark races are managed in those portions of the Empire, and have expressed sympathy with them, and so forth. I should not say- that because I have done those things, I am for that reason fit to be Governor-General of India. Of course, on that point the matter would not bear examination. This motion is anticipatory, and in the nature of a direction ; and I should be sorry to assent to any proposal of the kind that would embarrass this or any other Government. I cannot understand how a Government could tolerate a motion of the kind, much as I desire that resolutions of the Senate shall have the fullest possible .effect - how a Government, with any self-respect,, could accept such a direction before an appointment was made. Senator Pearce hasused some hard words, and I am not sure that some of his remarks mav not be justified asto the hypocritical position the Governmenttake up. I do not believe in the expression”Australia for the Australians,” if itmeans that when we want a good public servant to fill a Judgeship or- any other office, we may not go outside the limits of the Commonwealth for him. The position of a Judge, however, is very different from that now under discussion, inasmuch asthose appointed to the judicial office havehad their special training in Australia. I am not saying whether the men thus trained7 are well or ill qualified, or whether or not better Judges could be obtained from outside Australia; but when they are selected they are not selected1 because they happen to be Australians, but because, by a long course of training, study, and experience, they are, or ought to be, competent to administer the laws with which they have been dealing during their whole lives. No one suggests that a suitable man to administer New Guinea might not be found in Australia, though I do not at present know where the Australian is who has had all the training and experience necessary to enable him to deal with the native races, and further the development of what we believe will be a great dependency of the ‘Commonwealth. I understand that to constitute an “ Australian,” it is not necessary that a man shall have been born here ; I take it that within the terms of the motion a man would be eligible for this office if he had been in Australia or New Guinea for four or five years, and had during that time undergone the necessary training to make him acceptable. But there are other reasons I should like to advance against the motion. In the first place, I do not think it is proper for the Senate to give a direction which, before the making of the appointment, could not be accepted by any self-respecting Government. We might pass a motion excluding some man by name - that would be a very different matter, but to pass a motion, which amounts to a direction as to one particular qualification, is to offer what, as I say, no self-respecting Government could accept or act on for a moment, unless, as Senator Mulcahy suggested, the other qualifications of the gentleman appointed were equal. My second ground is that, bv assenting to a motion of this character, framed in vague, general rhetorical terms, we mav do an injustice to persons otherwise qualified for the position. One name has certainly been mentioned in this connexion ; and under the circumstances the motion is, in my opinion, most improper. We are indirectly sitting in judgment on, at any rate, one gentleman who, I may say, I have never seen to my knowledge, and whom I should not know from any other man in the wide world. I allude to Sir William McGregor. A third reason is that if the Government give any attention to the vague form of words used they mav be led astray, and appoint some one whom’ we could not regard as competent. All these are very strong reasons why we should not at this stage deal with a vague indeterminate motion of the kind. I shall not refer to the first part of the motion, which I regard as merely preliminary to the second and important part. The second paragraph declares t’hat there ought to be appointed to the position “ an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth. ‘ ‘
– Does not the first part of the motion also interfere with the action of the Government?
– Yes. but I think I am right in understanding from Senator Higgs that the first paragraph is really introductory, and I do not think it worth while troubling the Senate with arguments as to whether it should or should not be agreed to. The essence of the motion is in paragraph 2, and the first point which strikes me is that we are asking the Government to appoint a Lieutenant-Governor on one ground of qualification only - that he shall be “an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth,” whatever that may mean. Is there an honorable senator who can vote for that motion? It does not declare that the Lieutenant-Governor must have been born in Australia ; and I suppose that a residence of a year or two would qualify.
– He must be an Australian citizen,
– Quite so ; the Lieutenant-Governor need not be an Australian native, but he must be “ an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth.” First of all, it would be wrong to appoint a man simply for that reason. He might be a person who would “ play ducks and drakes “ with New Guinea in a month.
– Is it the aspiration of Australia to “ play ducks and drakes “ with anything?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the words in the motion are merely rhetorical. What are the “ aspirations of the Commonwealth “ ? Our aspiration is to be a great nation, and to do justice in New Guinea. Are we to say that Sir William McGregor would not do justice in New Guinea ?
– Or a Chinaman.
– Really, I think this question ought to be seriously dealt with. The Government are not suggesting that a Chinaman should be appointed.
– We do not know that.
– The motion declares that honorable senators will be content if the Ministry appoint”an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth,” although the man appointed might possess none of the other qualities so indispensable to the position - none of the qualities necessary in a successful administrator of this Dependency.
– The honorable senator is more solicitous for the Government than I haveeverknownhimtobebefore !
- Senator Pearce, in the course of his remarks, said very properly that there are many other qualifications necessary besides the special qualification of Australian citizenship. Where are those other qualifications referred to in the motion? Are we to ask the Government to appoint an “Australian citizen,” although the latter may not be possessed of the many special qualifications that are necessary ? We have been told by Senator Pearce that the Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea must be a man of sober judgment; and we may all agree as to that. Has it been suggested that there may be appointed a man who has not sobriety of judgment - a man possessed, for instance, of no judicial faculty, and not imbued with that common sense and fairness that are so indispensable? We all know that, as Senator Pearce says, the Administrator of New Guinea must have the capacity to deal with coloured races. In this connexion, capacity to deal withcoloured races does not merely mean the result of a visit ‘paid’ to the Dependency, or even of coming into contact, in a more or less intimate way, with such races. It implies the employment of a man who, if possible - though I do not say this can always be - may be judged and tested by his experience in this particular department of public affairs. It is one of the glories of British administration in India that many of the men who go from England seem to possess, by a kind of instinct, the power to successfully join in the government of that great Dependency.
– Although they have not had previous experience?
– What about the Viceroy of India ?
– The Viceroy of India is in a very different position from that of the Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea. The Indian Civil Service is the finest the world ever saw, and most of the members of that service begin at the bottom of the ladder. In the military branch of the service in India the rule is much the same, though there is an exception in the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener.
– In India the Viceroy, whose position approximates to that of the Administrator in New Guinea, goes straight from England as a raw new-chum.
– Does the honorable senator say that the position of theViceroy approximates to that of a LieutenantGovernor of a small Crown Colony? The positions and duties are entirely different. In any case, the Viceroy, for intellect, and for knowledge and experience of public affairs, is generally one of the foremost men in the Empire, and the possession of those high qualities make up for his lack of training in detail.
– Are no men in Australia likely to have similar capacity?
– The Government have not stated that they will not appoint an Australian. The whole point of the motion is that the foundation of the qualification of the gentleman appointed is to be Australian citizenship.
– If it were passed, the Government would not be able to go outside Australia for a LieutenantGovernor.
– That is so; the motion, as framed, excludes every other person. The Government are not merely asked to appoint an Australian if they can get the right man here, but all except Australians are excluded. Although outside the qualification insisted on in the motion, there might be found men fitted by knowledge and experience in similar Dependencies, the Government are to exclude them from consideration. That is not the way to govern this Dependency. It will be a very bad omen and beginning if, in dealing with New Guinea, we first select a LieutenantGovernor simply on the ground that he is an Australian. Senator Higgs spoke of Sir William McGregor, and made remarks by way of disqualifying that gentleman. Senator Higgs referred to Sir William McGregor as nearing sixty years of age.
– He is fifty-nine years of age.
– I should say that to have attained the age of fiftynine or sixty is not a disqualification in a man who has previously administered the Dependency, and has its affairs at his fingers’ ends. But Senator Higgs went on to say that Sir William McGregor could not swim, and that he would have been drowned had he been in the whale-boat accident referred to. Really, the inability to swim does not appear to me to be a. disqualification in the Administrator of New Guinea.
– The honorable senator is exaggerating. I referred to the whale boat accident merely as an incident in travelling.
– Quite so. I am sorry to discuss a name. Senator Walker, I think, interjected, “ Why do you not put in the name of the eligible person?” My honorable friend opposite confines himself to discussing those who are to be excluded, but I think it would be only fair to the Senate that we should be able also to discuss the names of those who are to be included. That would make this a sensible motion.
– The honorable and learned senator surely does not wish me to do as a member of the Senate once did, and refer to “ My honorable and personal friend Senator Sir Richard Baker,” “ My honorable friend Senator Sir Josiah Symon,” and so go through the members of the Senate as likely candidates for this position ?
– No, we do not wish the honorable senator to do that. But will he name the one who stands preeminently out as the person to be included?
– Senator Higgs does not say that Sir William McGregor is the only one to be excluded.
– Yes, the honorable senator says that Sir William McGregor is to be excluded.
– Senator Higgs did not say that he is the only one to be excluded.
- Senator Higgs goes through a process of exhaustion, and, beginning with Sir William McGregor, he says that he, at any rate, is not fitted for the position, because he is fifty-nineor sixty years of age. Might we not be favoured with the name of the Australian gentleman “ in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth,” who is so peculiarly fitted for the position?
– There might be halfadozen of them.
– There might, and if there are, let us have their names. I am one of those who think that it would have been a good thing if the Senate had been given the power vested in the Senate of the United’ States, which enables that body to exercise a veto at least upon appointments. I think that would have been an excellent thing for the Senate, and, therefore, if Senator Higgs seeks to introduce that principle, even in his way, I am one of those who should very much like an opportunity to discuss it. We should then have a tangible and sensible motion and a direction from the Senate that “ So-and-so, an Australian in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth,” should be appointed.
– State the salary, and we will give the honorable and learned senator a name.
– I do not know what the salary is to be.
– It is to be £1,250 a year.
– It is worth a good deal more It is really an idle thing for us to propose to deal with the matter in this way. If the intention is merely to enable us to say that a certain person is to be excluded - that Sir William McGregor is not eligible - it is neither fair nor just. If, on the other hand, it is intended, in some mysterious, indirect way, to pledge the Senate to the appointment of some one else, then I say that that person ought to be named, and we should have an opportunity to debate his proposed appointment.
– Why should we not do as we did in connexion with the appointment of the High Commissioner?
– That was done in a different way. I was not here when Senator Higg’s motion with respect to the appointment of the High Commissioner was debated, and I did not speak or vote upon it.
– I voted against it.
– Senator Symon agreed with it.
– I was not here when it was discussed. But in that motion, i think I am correct in saying that Senator Higgs left the choice to Parliament. The honorable senator does not adopt that course in the present motion. A man complying with the terms of this motion might, in respect of other qualifications, be the most incompetent man in Australia for such a position.
– Surely the Government would not appoint an incompetent man?
– The Government are not like the Rontgen rays. They cannot see into a man’s mind, and discover there his capacity for dealing with a particular and specific duty, which requires the possession of special qualifications.
– Neither can a Parliament.
– The honorable and learned senator thinks that the Government could not find an Australian competent for the position.
– I do not know. I have not examined the matter.
– The honorable and learned senator is saying that no Australian is competent.
– I have not said so. I say that the fact that a man is an Australian should not be the only qualification for such a position.
– The honorable and learned senator will take good care that an Australian will not have a chance for the position.
– I will say that, quite apart from Sir William McGregor, whose name has been mentioned, this motion, if it were carried, would involve the dismissal, without a hearing, of the present Acting Administrator, Captain Barton. That ought not to be done. It would be unfair. If the Executive, in the exercise of their powers, and their responsibility, choose to say that that officer, who has had experience, is not qualified to be raised from the Acting Administratorship to the actual Lieutenant-Governorship, that is their business, and we could deal with such adetermination when the proper time arrived. I am a believer in promotion. I do not know Captain Barton, but I have criticised him in the Senate on information supplied in connexion, at any rate, with one matter brought forward by Senator Higgs, than whom no one is more astute in discovering whether any injustices, real or apparent, are taking place.
– Would not Captain Parton be regarded as an Australian citizen?
– I was going to say that he should. He has been five or six years in the Territory, and has had considerable experience there. I do not know whether he was there in Sir William McGregor’s time, but from his reports, some of which I have read, I know that he was there in Sir George LeHunte’s time. He was there under the Acting Administrator Chief Justice Winter, and also under the unfortunate Judge Robinson. I am not discussing the relative claims of Sir William McGregor and Captain Barton; but if Sir William McGregor is sought for and is not available, or if he is not sought for, and Captain Barton is there, some substantial reason should be given to Parliament by the Government for passing him over and refusing him that just promotion to which, in my judgment, he is entitled. I have read some of his reports, and I entirely agree with Senator Higgs that there is a great deal of travelling to be done, and a great deal of arduous pioneering work, in connexion with the administration of the Territory. We require for the position an active man. I do not say thata man fifty-nine or sixty years of age is not sufficiently active, if in good health. Such a man might be quite active enough; but, whatever might be said on that score, I know from Captain Barton’s reports, some of which I read only this morning, that that gentleman, in connexion with his magistracy, and subsequently, has shown that he is an active man, familiar with the matters with which the Administrator of the Territory must deal, and thoroughly familiar with the country and the natives. He is not above criticism, perhaps, but in. many respects is possessed of all the qualifications to which Senator Pearce has referred. I am not saying that he ought to be appointed, or that Sir William McGregor ought to be appointed. All I say is that “ an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth “ should not be the sole qualification, and that, if we reduce the question of the appointment to Captain Barton, I say that he, a man who is really, in substance and in fact, an Australian citizen, and who has had experience in the very government to be administered, is to be preferred to an uninitiated individual, no matter to what extent his travels to the Northern Territory, or anywhere else, but merely amongst the natives, may have endowed him with a certain sympathy and with a great deal of instructive information, which do not, however, in themselves constitute qualification for actual .administration. We might find a dozen men in Australia qualified for the position, and, if so, one of them might be appointed ; but I do say that, unless some cogent reason to the contrary is shown, Ave should look first to those, if we can get them, who have already been concerned in the administration of the affairs of this particular country. This motion does not say who is to be appointed, except that it hampers the Government by insistence upon a single qualification ; but it does say inferentially who are not to be appointed, and for that reason I say that it is unfair. It would be unfair of us to do anything which would amount to directing the Government to dismiss Captain Barton without a hearing. That would not be British fair play. Sir William McGregor is not now here, but he is, I believe, the Governor .of Newfoundland. These remarks, therefore, do not apply to him. His qualifications are, I was going to say, so overwhelming, or, at all events, are so great, because of his previous successful administration tin New Guinea, that the negotiations of. the Government with him rest on a totally different foundation. But as to Captain Barton, I say that his claims should not be overlooked ; and, on the principle that Ave should promote a man already doing good work, his qualifications should be considered before he is discarded. If he is discarded, it is only British fair play that some sound reason should be given why he should not be appointed, and why he should be branded as incompetent, or unequal to the position he has filled so long. With these observations, strongly in. sympathy as I am with Senator Higgs’ views as to Australian nationhood, and the opportunity whiCh every Australian is entitled to, and must have, to show the stuff that is in him. I am unable to support the motion. I am unable to support it for the reasons I have given., and chiefly because I do not regard, particularly in respect to appointments of this character, the mere fact that a man is an Australian, even although, in that vague rhetorical phrase used in the motion, he is supposed to be “ in touch with the aspirations of the Com- monwealth,” as the only qualification which would justify the appointment of a person to such an office. I think that that is not the only qualification, and Ave should not pass a motion, which might have the effect of doing, injustice either to those who are to be excluded, or of imposing upon New Guinea some gentleman who, although possessed of this particular qualification, may not possess others, I will not say more important, but quite as important, in the circumstances.
– I do not like the motion as proposed, and I do not care, by voting against it, to place myself apparently in a false position. I have therefore drafted an amendment, which I will read, and which will express my views without the necessity for a lengthy speech on the question as to what preference should be given, and under what conditions Ave should give preference, to Australians in appointments to- positions of this kind. I propose to leave out all the words after the Awd “ that,” in the second paragraph of the motion, with a view to insert other words. which Would -make that paragraph read as follows : -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is also desirable that the Lieutenant-Governor of the Territory, should be appointed at an earl)’ date, and that in making such appointment an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth should receive preference, provided his qualifications and claims to the position are judged to be on a level with those of other eligible British persons.
– Is a motion necessary for that? Does that not go without saying?
– The honorable senator refers to the use of the word “British”?
– No; but to the fact that
What the honorable senator has expressed in his proposed amendment might be assumed.
– I throw the responsibility upon the Government. I am not entirely in sympathy Avith a motion of this kind.
– Then the honorable senator need not vote for the motion.
– I shall not vote against a motion which partly expresses my view as to the desirability of giving preference to Australians.
– Why should the honorable senator desire to direct the Government on that point? They will select the most suitable man.
– And if they do not they will be made to answer for their act.
– At any rate, the Government should try to encourage Australians to aspire to any positions which are within their gift. I do not know anything about the qualifications of Captain Barton or Sir William McGregor, or any one else. In my remarks I have no person in view. I merely think that it is desirable for the Senate to express the general principle that where a position in the service of the Commonwealth is available, then, other things being equal, preference should be given to an Australian.
– Have not the Government said that in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech?
– We come now to matters of action.
– There has been action already.
– The amendment will not relieve the Government of their responsibility to appoint the best man, whoever he may be. The Senate is simply asked to express the opinion that it is desirable that an Australian possessing the necessary qualifications should get preference over an outsider.
– But who is disputing that proposition? The Government are not.
– We are laying it down as a direction to them.
– What occasion is there to do so?
– If Senator Higgs will accept the amendment I think I shall have to support his proposition. At any rate, it very much more nearly expresses my view on the question than does the motion. I cannot support the latter in its present form, because apparently it is intended to ‘exclude certain persons from appointment. I do not wish to exclude any one in that respect.
– The amendment is really a negative of the motion.
– No ; I think it is rather an elaboration of the motion, and, omitting the word “ British,” I will leave it to the judgment of the Senate. I beg now formally to move -
That all the words after “ That,” in paragraph 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : - “ in the opinion of the Senate it is also desirable that a LieutenantGovernor of the Territory should be appointed at an early date, and that in making such appointment an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth should receive preference, provided that his qualifications and claims to the position are adjudged to be on a level with those of other eligible persons.”
– I can quite understand the amendment, and I certainly think that it does go further than honorable members opposite have signified their intention of going. At all events, it would inform the Government that, in the opinion of the Senate, an Australian should be appointed, other things being equal. I cannot support it, however, because I intend to vote for the motion. But if the motion is lost I certainly would like to have an opportunity of voting for the amendment.
– The amendment will have to be put before the motion.
– Then I cannot support the amendment. In his interesting speech Senator Symon missed a number of points. He elaborated his arguments at undue length, and he strained his points considerably. He said that if the motion were carried in its present form it might place the Government in the position of having to appoint an incompetent person. Surely that is a serious reflection upon the capacity of 4,000,000 persons.
– The motion shuts out men who may be much better than Australians.
– If the honorable and learned senator retains that feeling of Australian patriotism which in his early speeches here was so much admired, I am satisfied that in his inmost heart he is sure that there are Australians who are fit for appointment to this position.
– I am not so sure ; at all events, I do not know.
– Out of a population of 4,000,000 there should be.
– There may be, but I do not know.
– I believe that, even if the motion or amendment be not carried, the Government will be sufficiently Australian in sentiment to appoint an Australian if they are satisfied that they can get the best man here.
– Why does the honorable senator wish the Senateto pass the motion? He will not trust the Government.
– It is not a question of placing the Government in an embarrassing position. We are simply saying to them, “ Surely in Australia there should be one citizen - not necessarily Australian born - who is eminently qualified in all respects to fill this position.”
– Can the honorable senator name one now ?
– I am not going to be drawn off the track in that way. I could name more than one Australian citizen who, in my humble judgment, is eminently fitted to hold the position.
– Then put a name in the motion.
-I think it would be a good thing if the Senate, as part of the national Parliament, were to lay down, on every possible occasion, the rule that wherever it could be done an Australian appointment should be made. I do not think that there is anything unpatriotic in the cry of “ Australia for the Australians,” because, necessarily, it has its limitations, and we recognise them. But, surely, where the work to be done is not beyond the capacity of a large number of Australians, we ought to hold out an inducement to our citizens by letting it become generally known that, in our view, these appointments should be given to Australians whenever the opportunity arises. I do not think that we need worry ourselves about Sir William McGregor, whose name has been used frequently in this discussion. Admittedly, he did good work in British New Guinea. If he were an Australian citizen to-day, and it were likely that he would accept the salary which has been fixed, probably neither the Government nor any honorable senator would look beyond that gentleman for an Administrator. But it is stated on good authority that he is filling a position which carries nearly double the salary which is attached to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Papua. I do not see why his name should have been introduced, because, in the first place, it is hardly likely that he would accept the position at the salary proposed.
– It was necessary to introduce his name.
– There is no objection to the introduction of the name.
– No;But why should we worry ourselves about Sir William McGregor, when it hasbeenlaid down by the Parliament that the salary for the position shall be £1,250?
– Why should not the honorable senator leave the matter alone? If the Government proposed to appoint Sir
William McGregor, and he wanted more than £1,250, the honorable senator would have an opportunity to express his opinion when the Bill came before the Senate.
– Perhaps the Minister of Defence, when he speaks, will tell us why the salary for this office was fixed at £1,250. Presumably, it was thought to be fair remuneration for the work to be done.
– The honorable senator said that if Sir William McGregor would accept £1,250, he should be appointed.
– No. I said that if Sir William McGregor were an Australian citizen to-day he would have a far better chance of getting the appointment than any other Australian citizen, because of his experience in Papua. If it is necessary to increase the salary in order to get the services of Sir William McGregor - some newspapers have gone the length of saying, and I do not know whether some members of Parliament have not said, that if we could it would be better to increase the salary - we should immediately have those who have always been crying out about Federal extravagance saying, “ You are giving more for the work than it is necessary to give.” Sir William McGregor is, however, worth more than £1,250 a year, because he is now receiving nearly double that salary in another place, and, therefore, I should think that he is out of court. I contend that that salary is fair remuneration for the work which is to be performed inPapua. Surely it is not necessary to go outside Australia in order to get a man who is fit to perform services which are valued at £1,250 a year ! In view of the fact that, in different portions of Australia, with a semi-tropical climate, some Australian citizens have had experience of work such as is to be done in Papua, it seems absurd to think that the Government cannot place their hands upon an Australian citizen who possesses, to the utmost degree, all the necessary qualifications for the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. I do think that it will be a pity if this opportunity is lost of giving the Government a direction upon this subject. It may, of course, be said that if that is done, it will take from the Government some of its independence. But we have a right to let the Government know the opinion of this branch of the Legislature in respect to the appointment that has to be made. Senator Symon has told us that he believes in the principle of promotion. So do I. Probably there are many citizens of Australia in the Public Service who have qualifications which eminently fit themfor this position.
– Does this motion mean that a man should be selected from the Public Service?
– The motion does not say so, nor does it mean the reverse.
– Does the honorable senator think that Captain Barton would be eligible?
– I do not know whether he would be shut out under the terms of this motion. I do not know whether he would be considered to be an Australian citizen by reason of his having been so long in Papua, which is an Australian Dependency.
– Would the honorable senator give him a preference?
– I am not going to mention any individual. I may have in my mind’s eye individuals whom I may consider to be well fitted for this position, tout I shall not mention them. I shall vote for the motion, but if it is defeated, I should like to have an opportunity afterwards of voting for the amendment submitted by Senator Mulcahy. Perhaps we shall be able to get over the difficulty in some way so as to be able to meet the views of those honorable senators who, if they cannot secure the passage of the motion in its present form, would like to vote for the amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I shall support the motion. I wish to take this opportunity to remark that during my speech on the Address-in-Reply I made some reference to the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. I was not aware when I referred to ex-military officers that at present an ex-military officer is administering the Dependency. I have since been asked what dislike I had to Captain Barton. I wish to say that I intended to make no reference to Captain Barton. I was not aware that he was there. In fact, I never heard of him before making my allusion to the subject. Certainly, I did not make it with Captain Barton in my mind.
– I think it is rather unkind for the majority of the Senate not to give me the opportunity which I requested of adjourning the debate.
– The motion has been on the notice-paper for four weeks.
– It is not a question of whether it has been on the noticepaper for four weeks or not. I do not load my brain with material affecting questions which may at some time arise in the Senate until I know that I have to use the information. I did not know that I should have to speak upon this question to-day. I did not expect that the motion would be reached to-day. As it was reached, I thought I should be allowed the ordinary courtesy that is always extended to the leader of a legislative chamber, andbe afforded an opportunity to obtain the necessary information to explain the position fully to theSenate. At the present moment, I cannot answer the very first question that was put to me - that is to say, how it is that ten months have elapsed, and that the Papua Act has not been put into operation. It is only due to the Government, and to the Senate, that I should be in a position to answer a question of that kind. Here is a charge against the Government, that it has, apparently, neglected its duty in not bringing the Papua Act into operation, although some ten months have passed ; and the leader of the Government in this Chamber is not allowed an opportunity to obtain information to enable him to answer it. The administration of Papua is not a concern of my Department. I do not profess to be fully acquainted with it. Yet honorable senators do not allow me to have an opportunity to obtain the necessary information from my colleagues, so as to be able to satisfy the Senate if I can, or, at any rate, to give them some reasons for this apparently unaccountable delay. I say that that is hardly fair to me. .
– The honorable senator’s supporters on the Opposition side are cheering him.
– So far as they are concerned, they have the instincts of those who would like ‘to deal out fair play all round. I can thoroughly understand the position which my honorable friend, Senator Symon, takes up. He has -done what is always done bv the leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. The leader of the Opposition there always restrains his followers when any particular question comes up as to which he sees that if Be were to vote in a certain way he might be faced with the same position, and have the same difficulty to encounter, if he occupied the position of leader of the” House. Senator Symon knows what carrying on executive government means.
– I rise to order. The question of the adjournment having been decided, is the Minister in order in discussing it?
– I am not discussing it. I am discussing the sneer that was launched at me because Senator Symon supported my motion for the adjournment of the debate, and I am showing why I should imagine he took up that position. I should certainly do the same if I were in his place. This is a question of interference by Parliament with the duties of the Executive. That is the real point at issue. I am sorry “to notice that there are many members of the Senate who appear to think that it is right and proper for Parliament practically to do the work which the Government ought to do, and ought to take the responsibility for doing. If we are going to carry on responsible government, and are to pass Acts of Parliament which give certain patronage to the Ministry of the day - give them the right to make certain appointments - the Government should be left to carry out those Acts of Parliament and make those appointments. I believe that it is very unwise for a Parliament to take upon itself the duties of the Executive.
– This is instructing the Executive, which is worse. Besides, no leader of an Opposition ever refuses the request of the leader of the Government for the adjournment of a debate in such circumstances.
– I will not discuss that point any more, but will say a word or two about the motion itself. The gist of it lies in the second paragraph. So far as this paragraph is concerned, honorable senators know that T am in favour of appointing Australian citizens wherever possible. In spite of considerable opposition .’from a number of people connected with the Department over which I have the honour to preside, I determined, in the appointment of officers, to give the positions to Australians in preference to inviting the assistance of imperial officers. To show my determination in this connexion, it has been made plain and unmistakable, by means of a paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech, that in the future the Government intend to give preference to Australian officers, other things being equal. I do not mean to say that we shall not occasionally go outside ‘for information. There may be times at which some specially qualified Imperial officer might with advantage be called in to report and advise as to the best methods to be adopted in the administration of the Military Forces ; but in order to encourage our own men we ought not to appoint outsiders so long as we can obtain officers of equal ability and experience within the borders of the Commonwealth. I believe that we have such officers in Australia; but there may be- exceptional circumstances. All I know about Sir William McGregor is that I was informed by the Prime Minister that he had communicated by telegraph with that gentleman, and that the latter1 felt inclined to take the position.
– That is not giving encouragement to Australians.
– A general rule may have exceptions at times. The position is that we require some one as LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea, where, we know, there is some trouble. Charges have been brought against the present Administrator by a certain officer, and there has been an inquiry, the result of which has been placed before honorable senators in the form of a report. No doubt, there is a little disorganization amongst the officials of the Dependency, and we want, if pos- sible, to get the very best man as LieutenantGovernor. We have had inquiries made, and standing head and shoulders above every likely man is Sir William McGregor. The affairs of New Guinea have been specially noted by an honorable senator who has visited the Dependency, and has expressed his views in writing; and he points to Sir William McGregor as the Governor par excellence in years past. If the position be that the affairs of New Guinea are crooked and require straightening, the man most likely to carry out the work is one who knows the place, and has already been a successful Administrator there. By such an appointment, we shall be more likely to get a good result than by selecting a man within the Commonwealth, who, although he may be possessed of all the necessary brains, may not have the required experience. We want the best man possible under the special circumstances ; and what I have indicated is the position the Government assume. I believe the Prime Minister is actuated only by the one motive of obtaining the best LieutenantGovernor at this particular troublesome juncture in the history of the Dependency ; and he is perfectly justified in seeking the services of a man who is in the prime of life, and whose past experience will be invaluable. We want the best man ; and, under the circumstances, that man appears to be Sir William McGregor. I should have liked to be able to tell honorable senators the exact position - how far the negotiations have progressed, and so forth.
– The Minister ought to ask to be permitted to continue his remarks on another occasion.
– What would Senator Higgs say to that suggestion?
– I say that the Minister of Defence could not make a better speech than he is making now, if he postponed his remarks for three weeks.
– Does the honorable senator desire information, or does he not?
– We do not require any further information.
– Then I shall conclude my remarks by saying that the Government have no option but to oppose the motion. I do not suppose that the amendment will be insisted on, seeing that it suggests what the Government are really doing, now. All things being equal, of course, appoint an Australian.
– If an Australian is good enough to control the Military Forces, an Australian is good enough to administer New Guinea.
– That may be, but we must have an Australian equal in experience to Sir William McGregor.
– According to reports, New Guinea is a back number, anyhow.
– I take the amendment to mean simply that if we can get an Australian of equal ability, an Australian shall be appointed ; and, therefore. I ask Senator Mulcahy to vote against the motion. An amusing point about the motion is that the Australian citizen to be appointed must be “in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth.” What does that mean?
– He has to have national sentiment and spirit.
– How can it be ascertained whether an otherwise eligible person is “in touch with the aspirationsof the Commonwealth “ ? He may be in touch with Senator Findley’s aspirations, but not in touch with mine - we all have different aspirations. Can anybody define the “aspirations of the Commonwealth”? Would it not be a great deal better to say straight out, without any padding, that an Australian citizen shall be appointed? Any Government, even a Labour Government, would be bound to oppose a motionofthis character, which seeks to take away their rightful executive duty.
– And their responsibility.
– And their responsibilty. I hope Senator Higgs will not press the motion to a division.
– This matter is of greater importance than some honorable senators seem to imagine. We require somebody to administer British New Guinea. The island does not belong entirely to Great Britain, but is divided amongst three nationalities, and the British power should be represented by a man with a full knowledge of international law. There is the German Possession in the north, and the Dutch Possession on the west : and in the present political condition of the world, we might easily, at any time, have trouble with Germany on the north or on the coast, German islands being not far away. The present is a time of great difficulty, there being more than one troublesome question unsettled between Great Britain and Germany. To bind ourselves not to accept the services of a man who, in the judgment of those most fitted to decide, is the best able to maintain the power of Great Britain, and the power of Australia - I imagine the two are the same - would surely be a great mistake. I ask honorable senators to pause before they pledge themselves to the recommendations in the motion. There is another, and a very strong, reason why honorable senators should hesitate. A proposal such as this, if carried by a snatch majority, would not be a fair representation of the opinion of the Senate.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a “ snatch majority”? Senator PULSFORD. - I mean a majority on a division, when there are absent a number of honorable senators who would undoubtedly vote against the motion.
– There may be some honorable senators absent who would vote for the motion.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the majority of the Senate are against the motion, which, under the circumstances, ought not to be pressed to a division. We have had a great responsibility handed over to us by the motherland ; and are we or the first occasion to declare that we shall not accept the assistance of any one from the old country - that we will choose a LieutenantGovernor, whether competent or otherwise, from Australia, and will risk all complications and dangers? I do not think that the Senate is prepared, and I am certain that Australia is not prepared, to indorse such a motion.
– I hope Senator Mulcahy will withdraw his amendment, and let us get to business and support the Government.
– With the consent of the Senate, I shall be glad to withdraw the amendment, in view of the fact that the Minister of Defence has given an undertaking that what I desire shall be carried out.
Amendment,by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col. Gould) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am in rather a difficult position in regard to this motion. I have recently visited the north of Queensland, where I came in contact with a number of men who for years past have been living in New Guinea, and have taken an active interest in the management of affairs there. The opinion they expressed to me with regard to the proclamation of the Papua Act was that the majority of the white men resident in the Territory are opposed to that proclamation under existing conditions. Their objection is that elective representation has not been provided for in the Constitution, and they are opposed to the proclamation of the Act until provision for it has been made. I was asked to bring the matter before Parliament as soon as I possibly could. If I vote for this motion, and it is carried, and if the Government follow the instructions of the Senate in the terms of this motion, the proclamation of the Act will take place at once. I am, however, anxious to see the matter settled now, and I do not see why there should not be a settlement of it. I think we are in a position to express our views. I have given a very good reason why I should vote against the motion. As I have pointed out, I have, I will not say received instructions, but I have been asked by residents of New Guinea to state their opinion of the Constitution which has been passed for the government of the Territory.
– What action does the honorable senator propose to take to amend the Constitution?
– That is a matter for the Government.
– The honorable senator might ask that in being submitted to the Senate, the motion be divided, because it is a complicated one.
– With respect to the second portion of the motion, I might say that probably no matter df greater importance has ever come before the Senate than the appointment of a LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea. I say without fear of contradiction that in the Government of New Guinea we have a problem to solve that has not been solved successfully by any Government I know of. No Government has so far ever succeeded in ruling the native races of any country as they should be ruled. Senator Playford desired to know what the Australian sentiment is. So far as I have been able to discover it, the Australian sentiment with regard to New Guinea is that the rights of the natives of that Territory must be jealously conserved. We must try to succeed in governing that country without demoralizing the natives. That is the object which, I think, every true Australian has in mind with regard to New Guinea. If that be taken for granted, then I say that we should get the very best possible man obtainable as LieutenantGovernor of the Territory. In the circumstances, I do not know that I should be prepared to vote for the appointment of an Australian before any other man merely because he is an Australian. I have heard the name of an Australian mentioned in connexion with the position. I have the very highest respect for the gentleman, and for his ability, but I can assure the Senate that his appointment would not be heralded very, heartily by a large number of the inhabitants of New Guinea.
– I ‘am not going to enter into the reasons. If we are to appoint an Australian as LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea, we should appoint a man who has had some acquaintance with tropical conditions - a man who has lived in the tropical portion o’f Australia, and not a man whose whole experience has been gained in the southern quarter’ of the continent. That is all I need say on. that point. Now, with regard to Sir William McGregor, if the Government can secure his sendees, I think they ought to do so. No man who has ever governed New Guinea has done so successfully as did Sir William McGregor. He gained the confidence of the natives, and enjoyed the re- spect of the Europeans, and every person of the Island was exceedingly sorry when he left it. Holding these opinions, I regret extremely that I shall be compelled to vote against the motion.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [6.25]. - A little time ago I moved the adjournment of the debate, believing that after the statement of the Minister of Defence that he desired an opportunity to post himself up with information on the subject, honorable senators, even if they had no respect for the Government, would record their votes in. favour of the motion. Although Senator Playford had spoken, Senator Keating could very well have given us the information, when it had been obtained. The Government find themselves in a most peculiar position in connexion with this motion. Honorable senators who usually support them have on this question turned their backs upon them, and those who are conscientiously opposed to them on general policy haw voted with them because they thought that it was only fair and reasonable that the debate should be adjourned.
– That only shows that honorable senators opposite are always in the wrong.
-Col. GOULD.- Perhaps so. Apart from the way in which the Government have been treated in regard to the proposed adjournment of the debate, honorable senators should be satisfied from what has already been stated that it would be a very grave mistake to insist upon carrying such a motion. Before entering upon the merits of the question, I will assume, for the sake of argument, that by a majority of one or two the Senate determines to accept the motion. Does Senator Higgs, or any other honorable senator, believe fdr. a moment that the Government would feel themselves bound bv it? Dr> they think’ that unless the other House, after a full and fair debate, arrived at a similar determination, there would be the slightest hope that the Government would adopt the course they suggest? What would be thf position of the Senate if this motion were carried? It would be held up to ridicule as a body that passes motions at which the Government snap their fingers. We all desire that the Senate should carry considerableweight in the legislation of the Commonwealth, but I ask whether the passing of such a motion is likely to place the Senate in that position? I ask honorable senators whether they do not recognise that it would, on the contrary, be calculated to place the Senate in a position which would lessen the influence and power which we desire it should exercise in connexion with Commonwealth matters? If, after full debate, Senator Higgs can secure a substantial majority for his motion well and good, but what is now desired is that a snatch majority may be secured without sufficient debate and without sufficient knowledge of the question. I think that Senator Higgs interjected that he did not desire any more information, but, as a member of the Senate, I say that I do desire more information before dealing with so important a matter. It is utterly absurd to submit such a motion, and then say that we are prepared to vote upon it without any further information.
– If we were to adjourn the debate now, the next thing we would hear might be that Sir William McGregor had been appointed.
.- If Sir William McGregor is appointed, and his appointment is not considered a suitable one, honorable senators who object to it will have a means of dealing with the Government who make the appointment. If this motion has been introduced merely in order to oppose the appointment of Sir William McGregor, whether he is the best man or not, every honorable senator who desires that we shall adopt a reasonable course will be justified in voting against it. During the debate, it has been shown, I think, that Sir William McGregor is not likely to accept the appointment, and is not in the running for it, and if that be so, the gentleman who is administering the Government of the Territory to-day, and who, so far as I know, is administering it fairly well, should receive proper consideration.
– The Minister admits that there is any amount of trouble arising out of the present administration.
– I dare say thatfor many years to come there will be trouble arising out of the administration of New Guinea, but it is not shown that any of the trouble existing at present is due to the gentleman who is now administering the government of the Territory. If that gentleman has proved himself to be incompetent, the duty of the Government is clear.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– In his speech Senator Stewart pointed out that there is a very strong feeling amongst residents in Papua against the Act which this Parliament passed a few months ago being brought into operation. Whether their reasons are good or not it means that there are a number of persons in the Possession who are dissatisfied with the Act, in consequence of what they consider to be grave defects. In these circumstances it is well that the Senate should pause while defects of that character are being fairly considered by those who are responsible - the Government.
-Thehonorablesenator knows its defect. Would he vote for electoral representation?
.- The present question is not whether I would vote for electoral representation or not. Senator Stewart has pointed out that that is the reason which is operating in the minds of some persons, but there may be other reasons for their holding the view that the Act should not be brought into force. I feel quite satisfied that the Parliament held the belief that it was the best Act which it could pass for the government of the Dependency, and yet there may be reasons for its reconsideration in some important particulars. But, putting that matter on one side, we have to look at the second para graph of this motion, in which we are really asked to dictate to the Government the way in which they are to select a LieutenantGovernor. I am not going to relieve any Government of the duties and responsibilities which are cast upon them. It would be a monstrous thing if the Senate were to attempt to set up a doctrine of that character. We might just as well say to the Government, “ Whenever you want to make important appointments, submit the names of those whomyou wish to appoint. We shall submit other names, go to a ballot, and see which would be the more popular appointments.” Honorable senators will see at once that that would put an end to our system of responsible government. We know what the views of the Government of the day are in regard toany appointments within their gift. And we may safely conclude that every member of the present Government would be prepared to appoint an Australian citizen to any position within their gift if he felt sure that he was the most suitable man available. While I have a. strong belief in the rights of Australian citizenship, having lived in the Commonwealth all my life, I contend that if an Australian wants to get a position of an important character which is in the gift of the Government, he should get it upon his merits, and not merely because of his place of birth. And if a man. from the other end of the world is more suited to fill a position under the Commonwealth than any man who can be found in Australia, it is a fair thing to appoint him.
– Every one would say that.
.-Iamvery glad to hear that interjection, but from the way in which the debate has been carried on it would seem that we are to look upon Australians as the only persons who are entitled to get any positions within the gift of the Commonwealth Government.
– But that is because we believe that they are as good as, any other persons.
– Other things being equal.
.-Thenwhat is the good of supporting the motion? Even if honorable senators on the other side were to submit a motion to the effect that other things being equal an Australian should be appointed what would it come to? Do they think that any Government would go out of the way to appoint a person who was altogether dissociated from Australia in preference to a person who was resident here, and cognisant of the interests of Australia? It is an absurdity to believe for a moment that any Government would do anything of that kind. The Government are entrusted with a responsibility. We desire the affairs of the public to be properly administered, and we expect the Government to make the best possible appointment in order to carry out that wish. Whether the person appointed is an Australian or an Englishman matters not to my mind. I want the best man for the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, as I want the best man for every other position. We should leave to the Government the responsibility of making this appointment. I would appeal to Senator Dawson as an exMinister whether it is not a reasonable thing to leave the Government to make a selection free and unfettered. If the members of the Labour Party have confidence in the Government cannot they trust Ministers to make an appointment of this character? But if they have no confidence in Ministers why do they support them?
– We did not.
– Not on the question of adjourning the debate.
– But the honorable senator did.
– The honorable senator and his friends did not support Ministers when they asked for an adjournment of the debate in order to give more information to the Senate than is now in their possession. What was their object in doing that? The object was transparent. They thought that they had a majority in favour of the motion. They did not care about any reasons which might be offered against it. They only wanted to get to a vote. I congratulate the Government upon having a band of supporters such as these honorable senators, who have shown on many occasions that they are prepared to kick them from pillar to post when it suits their sweet will.
– Senator Playford is happy now, because he has a majority.
– Whether Senator Playford has a majority or not, I submit that honorable senators who profess to support the Government, ought, at any rate, to trust them when they ask for an adjournment of the debate on an important question of this character without kicking them and declining to accede to their request. These honorable senators know perfectly well that if a vote on a question of this kind had been carried in the other House it would possibly have brought about a crisis, unless the House had been prepared to go back upon its decision. I know of cases where Governments have gone out of office on a vote of this kind, and they did quite right too. If Ministers want to exercise their independence of character, and say “ We will lead. If we remain in office we shall not follow the dictates of a number of men who only care for what they can get out of us– “
– If such a crisis were to happen here the honorable senator would vote with us?
– No, he would not, because the honorable senator would vote the other way then.
.- Of course, Senator Higgs would, and therein lies the safety of the Government at the present time. I trust that the motion will not be carried, because, in my opinion, it would be aiming a serious blow at constitutional government, and would be absolutely unfair to the great Dependency of Papua, which we desire to see legitimately administered.
– From the discussion, it would appear that those who are opposing the motion desire to impute to its supporters an intention to fill a high and honorable position with a perfect nonentity. I think that that is the impression which the last speaker tried to convey to the Chamber. I intend to support the motion, but in doing so I am anxious that any high and honorable position which may fall within the gift of the Commonwealth shall be given to a man who is amply qualified in every respect to honorably adornit.
– Whether we have him or not?
– We have the man.
– Who is he?
– Not the honorable senator who is interjecting.
– Nor the honorable senator who is speaking.
– Where have my honorable friends got the man shut up ?
– We have suitable men in dozens, it may be in hundreds, of places within thearea of this great Commonwealth. Hitherto, if a man was required to do any great work, or to discharge any great responsibility, the only thing to be done was to send to the old country for him.
– Get a fossil.
– Yes, that practically is the usage which has fixed itself almost indelibly upon the minds of very many of our leading citizens. I do not read the motion, and I do not think that many persons read the motion, as it was interpreted for us by Senator Symon this afternoon. The sum total of his conclusions was that what we are seeking by the motion is that the LieutenantGovernor shall be a citizen of the Commonwealth in touch with Australian aspirations.
– That is all the motion says.
– Surely honorable senators on the other side do not wish us to specify in a motion which has relation to an appointment here that the appointee shall be black, shall be 6 ft. 4½ in. high, shall weigh 16 stone 10 lbs., and shall be able to run, swim, and fight, if need be, on every occasion when he may be called upon ! Surely they do not require so much detail, when, after all, we are only trying to establish a principle which we regard as. right. I support the motion very largely on the ground that we, as a Commonwealth, have taken upon ourselves the responsibilities of colonization. Whenever high and honorable positions have to be filled in connexion therewith, I hold that Australian citizens should be appointed to them.
– We should follow the example of the Minister of Defence.
– Yes. Senator Playford, as well as several honorable senators on the other side, have told us to-day that what we require is a man of great capacity and experience. Unless we obtain an experienced man we shall never be able to govern the Possession. But if men had to have experience for every walk of life before they enter into it, there would be no soldiers to go to the field of battle - and that would be a blessing ! - and there would be no senators; to come to this House.
– That would be a; blessing, too !
– It would be a blessing, in many instances ! It is an evident fact that men can only gain experience by practice, and if we want to have experienced citizens in Australia who are able to govern as we colonize, we shall have to start somewhere. If men can never enter upon a task before they have acquired experience, we shall, I suppose, have to train up a race of Governors, as well as a race of Judges and bankers. Even then, asthe experienced men died out, we should, after all, have to enlist the services of those who were not experienced. I hold that this is a most opportune time for bringing forward this subject. I do not think that the carrying of the motion would be such, a very severe blow to the Government. Even if it were a little bit of a knock to them, it would not injure them much. Why should the members of the Government go on to the public platform, and put themselves forth as the champions of Australia for the Australians, and then, at the first opportunity, when they could show theirfaith in that principle, turn round and give the Australians a slap in the face, and tell them that they are not capable of doing anything in connexion with the government of New
Guinea- that their place is at home, bowing in quiet submission to a man brought from the hills of Scotland, or some other part of the British Dominion? That is not the position which I take up. I say nothing against either Sir William McGregor, or any other man who has “been doing such work as he has been doing. But I am one of those who believe that we have men in Western Australia, and in the ether States of this country, who will be equally competent to perform as great services to the Commonwealth when the opportunity is presented to them, as will either Sir William McGregor, or any other mar. who may have been as fortunate as he in rising to a high position.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) $.$. - Since the leader of the Senate spoke this afternoon this question has been presented to us in a new aspect. “When Senator Playford was giving us his fiery oration, which he told us was altogether unprepared, he made the declaration that the Government had under consideration the appointment of Sir William McGregor to the position of Lieutenant-Governor of the Possession of Papua. While I agreed with all that he said about Sir William McGregor, and the fine services which that gentleman rendered in British New Guinea, nevertheless, if we remember his advanced age, and the fact that he has been residing for some years in Newfoundland - the climatic conditions of which are exactly the opposite of those which prevail in Papua - it will be realized that his appointment would be in the opinion of most people a very unfortunate one. His mental faculties may be as vigorous as ever, but it cannot be expected that a man or. the verge of sixty years of age can be at all well-fitted for life in the tropics, and such hard and vigorous work as he would be called upon to do in Papua. For these reasons I do not agree that Sir William McGregor’s appointment would toe a suitable one under present circumstances.
– Any McGregor would be suitable at any acre.
– I have no fault to find’ with the McGregor clan. I showed my appreciation of its qualities some years ago by marrying a McGregor; though at the same time I do not share the Caledonian proclivities that my honorable friend, Senator Stewart, has exhibited, fie has turned a complete somersault in regard to this question. If there is one member of this Senate who more than another has on all occasions stood out for giving a vote on the merits of a question, it is Senator Stewart. He is never tired of declaring that every question ought to be settled on its own merits.
– That is what he is doing now.
– He is doing the verv opposite. Senator Stewart tells us that he is quite in accord with the terms of the motion that Senator Higgs has moved - that, in fact, he is so much in accord with it that he intends to vote against it, simply because he met a man in North Queensland who had an objection to the Constitution which we have passed for Papua ! That is a remarkable point of view !
– What Senator Stewart said was that we ought to get the best man for the position.
– That opinion has been expressed so often that there is no novelty in it. My answer is that the best possible man for the position is more likely to be found in Australia than elsewhere.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– I am satisfied that a man from the other side of the world cannot be as well acquainted with Australian sentiment as a man living in ‘ this country. The conditions that obtain in Australia are entirely different from those that obtain in the old country. A man brought from the official classes there has much to learn - or rather much to unlearn - before he gets in touch with Australian sentiment.
– No doubt, but in Sir William McGregor we shall have a man who has been here before, and knows all about us.
– He has never served under the Commonwealth.
– I am afraid that we shall not be able to avail ourselves of his assistance for very long, even if he is brought here. The best mar. we can have for this position is an Australian, young and vigorous, not .only in mind, but in body, and well able to stand the rigorous climate which we are always told obtains in those latitudes. It would be foolish - almost suicidal - to invite a man of Sir Willian McGregor’s advanced age to come here to resume the Lieutenant-Governorship of
Papua. I should like to ask my honorable friend Senator Stewart if he thinks he is going to advance the cause of which he says he is in favour - because I understood him to be a supporter of the principle that, where an Australian shows capacity for filling an office, he should be appointed to it in preference to an outsider - if every time he meets a man from North Queensland who is opposed to something which we have done, he votes against a motion which seeks to advance that cause? He might as well vote against protection! for some Australian industry because our Federal Constitution is not all that some man in North Queensland thinks it ought to be.
– Give us the real reason for all this flurry and humbug.
– The real reason is that we wish to appoint an Australian citizen to the Lieutenant-Governorship of Papua.
– I could put a different complexion on all this talk.
– I hope that my honorable friend will give us the advantage of his opinion.
– I could do it, and quickly, too.
– I hope that in doing it the honorable senator will not wander away to North Queensland, and give us the opinion of a man who does not like the New Guinea Constitution.
– I should not run to Western Australia for an opinion on the subject, anyway.
– I am quite satisfied that the sentiment to which expression is given in this motion is one that no member of the Senate ought to be found voting against. The time has come when we should lay down the principle that Australians should be appointed to positions of this character ; and I hope that, when the vote is taken, honorable senators will stand by that principle, and that even Senator Stewart will forget the man he met in North Queensland who is not in favour of the New Guinea Constitution.
– I must confess, in the first place, that I am at a loss to understand why there has been so much heat in connexion with this matter ; and, secondly, that I am’ at a loss to understand its urgency. To my mind, at the very root of it there is implied a want of confidence in the Government. The motion can be construed in no other way. Some of my honorable friends who have spoken have indicated very clearly that they think, that the Senate must have a word in the making of the appointment under review. But, so far as my experience of parliamentary affairs goes, this is an appointment which is essentially one for which the Government must take the responsibility. It. is essentially an Executive act, and I, for one, disclaim the idea that we should relieve the Government from its most important responsibility in this regard. We have in office a Government which has declared that one of the leading planks in its policy is the principle of “Australia for the Australians.” Under these circumstances, I inquire why, if there is any reasonable confidence in the Government, this motion is necessary at all ? Do my honorable friends who support it suggest for a moment that, given equal capacity , on the part of an Australian, as compared with any person from any other part of the ‘British Empire, preference would not be given to the Australian? I am absolutely certain that preference would be given to him, and there is not a member of this Senate who would deny that assertion. But are my honorable friends going to say that experience is to be placed at a discount, and is not to be taken into consideration in an appointment of this character? Do they say that experience is to be a disqualification ?
– How is an Australian to get the necessary experience?
– The business of this Parliament, it seems to me, is to ascertain who is the most capable man for the position. To do that we have to ascertain who is the man who has had the finest and best experience. That should always be our first consideration.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator regard old age as a disqualification?
– I do not consider that a man is too old at fifty-nine.
– Why, I am fiftynine.
– Would any one refer to my honorable friend Senator Trenwith, as being an example of decrepitude, or as incapable of filling intelligently any position for which his experience qualifies him? So that the point comes to this: that my honorable friends who are supporting this motion must say that experience is not to count, but that the first consideration must be to give the appointment to an Australian citizen.
– What does the honorable senator call “experience”?
Old experience doth attain
To something like prophetic strain.
If Sir William McGregor has qualified himself by reason of residence, and by his very intimate knowledge of the affairs of this particular Territory, and if the Government, in their anxious desire to promote an Australian if they can, take the responsibility of selecting some one else, they must satisfy themselves that he has special qualifications which entitle him to the position. To my mind, it will be rather a serious reflection on Australians if we support what the motion seems to affirm, namely, that an Australian must have preference, simply because he is an Australian, and without any regard whatever to his qualifications.
– It is the honorable senator who is reflecting on Australians.
– No; I trust the Government, because I know they will give preference to an Australian, all other things being equal.
– Then why does the honorable senator sit in Opposition?
– Because I do not want to do Australians an injustice. Honorable senators may cry “ oh “ !
– The honorable senator trusts the Government, and votes against the Government.
– I am voting, with the Government. It is Senator Dawson, and others, who sit with, and vote against, the Government.
– The Government have opened negotiations with a man outside Australia.
– Then the Government must take the responsibility of their action.
– The man outside may be the best available.
– If he is the best man available, he is entitled to the position. We are, in this connexion, doing ourselves an injustice. If we want the very best administration of this new Territory, we must take care to get a Lieutenant-Governor who will fulfil our expectations, and not give the position to, perhaps, a tyro without experience, who may or may not be a failure. I think my honorable friends opposite are making a great mistake in pressing this motion - in regarding it as a matter of urgency - and I ask time for consideration in order to prevent the reflection on Australians which is embodied in it.
– I feel that in this matter some honorable senators are taking a wrong view in assuming that in expressing an opinion on a principle, we are in any way reflecting on the Government. As to Sir William McGregor, I should like to know to what extent the Government are pledged.
– I do not know that the Government are pledged at all. Honorable senators would not give me an opportunity to explain.
– If the Government are not pledged, I think we are justified in expressing an opinion.
– The Government are pledged.
– I understand the leader of the Senate to assure me that the Government are not pledged.
– I do not know whether the Government are pledged or not; and honorable senators would not give me an opportunity to ascertain.
– We are discussing a matter of very considerable importance. For instance, the Government have gone the length of asking Sir William McGregor whether, if appointed, he would accept the post.
– That appears to be the position.
– I do not think that that inquiry pledges the Government sufficiently to prevent us from expressing an opinion on an important question. I shall resist, as far as I am able, any interference by this or another Chamber with the actual appointment - that is the selection of the man. That must be an Executive act, for which the Government must be responsible.
– Would the honorable senator not respect an offer?
– I think it is hardly an offer, though, of course, I do not know.
– The honorable senator admits the difficulty of discussing this matter in the absence of information as to the exact stage of the negotiations?
– I wished to have an adjournment of the debate, in order to ascertain whether or not the Government are committed.
– Is it not possible to have an adjournment of the debate now in order to ascertain?
– An adjournment of the debate has been twice refused.
– The principle embodied in the motion is one that I indorse most heartily. But if, before the motion was presented, the Government had reached such a stage in the negotiations that the honour of the Commonwealth was pledged, I should vote against the proposal. Therefore, for the purpose of ascertaining definitely what is the position, I desire to move that the debate be adjourned.
– The honorable senator cannot submit that motion, as he has spoken to the original question, but some other honorable senator may move the adjournment of the debate.
-Iurgethose who agree with me as to the principle involved, to consent to an adjournment. We ought not to be forced to a vote without the fullest information on so important an issue. The spirit of the motion is in accordance with the policy of Australia in connexion with other matters ; and those who say that we cannot be sure of getting the best man in Australia, do not, to my mind, present a sufficient argument. The time has arrived when we should say that, for all purposes, Australians are good enough.
– As a general principle, yes; but we may have exceptions.
– As a general principle. It may, and certainly will, happen that for many positions-
– We should like to know how much search the Government have made in Australia for a man.
– I am not at present making even that inquiry, but simply affirming my belief in the principle that for all purposes we ought to feel, and to act as if we felt, that Australians are good enough.
– No exceptions at all?
– No exceptions at all.
– There is no rule without an exception.
– I am going to urge that there should be a rule without any exception. It certainly willhappen that, for some positions, it will be possible to obtain better men abroad than here, but it as certainly will happen, and it has happened, that for some positions we can get the very best talent in the world in Australia. In connexion withany scheme of colonization we adopt, we must be sure that it shall be carried out on lines in accord with Australian sentiment and Australian policy. Although we may not in every possible circumstance be sure of getting in Australia the very best men the world can supply, I think we may be reasonably sure of getting men extremely good, and good enough for all purposes. Therefore, if a vote is forced - though I hope it will not be, because I do not think it is fair that it should - before we are sufficiently informed, I shall simply have to affirm the principle in which I believe. The principle involved is an important one, but, as Senator Best has pointed out, there is no great urgency. We all desire to do what is fair and honorable ; and none of us - certainly not I - desire to put the Government in any ignominious: position. I have no desire to unduly affront the Government ; and it must be remembered that until we express an opinion,, they are justified in doing whatever seems to them desirable. If before we express an opinion the Government have gone so far as, in some measure, to have pledged the honour of the Commonwealth, we must support the Government, and’ afterwards declare our views on the general’ principle.
– We would all do that, if the honour of the Commonwealth were pledged.
– We do not know at present whether the motion, if carried, would put the Government in a position that would appear to the worldto imply a breach of faith, and I do notthink that Senator Higgs, or any other honorable senator, merely for the sake of a single appointment, would like to take a step which would have any such result.I ask honorable senators who agree with me as to the principle, to join with those who desire further information, and to consent to an adjournment of the debate.
Motion (by Senator Croft) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided: -
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I intend to support the motion submitted by Senator Higgs. The first paragraph reads -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable, in the interests of good government and the effective development of British New Guinea, that a proclamation should be at once issued, bringing the Papua Act into force.
Various honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this part of the motion have admittedthat at the present time, and for some time past there has been a great amount of trouble in connexion with the administration of the Territory. From recent reports which have been submitted, we know that there has been little or no development in the country. Various reasons have been assigned for this, but in my opinion the true reason is that the existing administration of the territory is not as satisfactory as most people in the Commonwealth desire that it should be. The second paragraph of the motion reads -
That an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth should, without delay, be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Territory.
Most honorable senators who have spoken have expressed some sympathy with this part of the motion, but some of the reasons urged why it should not be carried seem to me to be extraordinary. Up to tonight I considered Senator Stewart an outandout Australian, imbued with the na tionalspiritandthenationalsentiment, but the honorable senator has gone so far as tosay that this Commonwealth, with a population of 4,000,000, does not contain a man with sufficient intelligence, business capacity, and administrative ability to fill he post of Lieutenant-Governor of New Guinea. The honorable senator urged that only a man accustomed to the conditions of life in a tropical climate should be appointed to the office. He paid a high, and probably well -deserved, compliment to Sir William McGregor, but that gentleman, like Senator Stewart himself, was not born in a tropical climate. The honorable senator, as well as Sir WilliamMcGregor, has nevertheless thriven well in a tropical climate. Senator Stewart contended that Sir William McGregor is a man possessing exceptional qualifications, but I was surprised to hear from Senator de Largie that he is just about sixty years of age.
– That is the prime of life.
– It is not considered so by any State Government; or by the Government of the Commonwealth. So far as the Public Service is concerned, sixty years of age is held to be the age at which public servants should retire. If that be a good rule to adopt in connexion with the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of the States, surely it cannot be a bad rule to apply to the LieutenantGovernor of New Guinea. I am personally unable to understand the antiAustralian spirit which apparently seems teammate certain gentlemen connected with the administration of the Commonwealth. Surelyno one will have the courage to say thatAustralia is destitute of any man who could ably and faithfully represent Australian interests in New Guinea? I hold no such view, and it is because, on the contrary. I believe that every encouragement should be held out to Australians in connexion with the filling of vacant posts of this kind that I desire to see the motion carried. It would appear that now. by reason of some additions, to their strength, the Government are in a position to defeat the motion; but even if that should be so the division upon it will supply a good indication of the opinions which certain honorable senators hold in regard to the fitness or otherwise of Australians to fill the vacant position in New Guinea. I intend to vote for the motion if it goes to a division.
.- I rise to say a few words in regard to the vote I propose to give on this motion. I am as anxious as any honorable senator can be that Australians shall be given fair play, but I am not prepared, in order to place Australians in certain positions, to deprive others of their just rights.
– Who, in or out of Australia, has any right to this position?
– If a man is already in a position under the British Crown, is a British subject, and has acted his part well, I say that even an Australian has no right to put him out.
– To put who out?
– If a man is acting for the British Crown in any official capacity, and if he were not a British subject I presume he would not hold such a post, I say that it would be; - I was going to say; contemptible, but that would not be polite, and I have no wish to be otherwise - it would be verv extraordinary if honorable senators should, by such a ‘motion as that before the Senate, direct the Government to pass him by and to do what they probably would do in any case, and that is to give a preference to an Australian, all other things being equal.
– The honorable senator is contending that merely because a man is a British official he should have preference to an Australian.
– No; I say that if a British subject is already in possession of a post we should not take the bread out of his mouth in order to replace him by another man. I say that a man already in a position, and doing justice to it, and to the flag under which he serves, ought not to be displaced for the sake of an outsider.
– Is not Sir William McGregor an outsider?
– I am not referring to Sir William McGregor, but to the man whose position must be rendered vacant if this motion be passed.
– Does the honorable senator call Australians outsiders?
– I do not. I never said that they were, and never meant that they were. I say quite the contrary, that Australians have a right to preference, other things being equal, but I also say that, the man already occupying the position being a British subject, the members of this Parliament have no right to expect the Government to do him any injustice.
– The motion will not affect the man at present occupying the position because the Government are committed) to his removal in any case.
– As it appears that honorable senators are adopting the extraordinary course of trying to secure the appointment of a member of the Senate-
– That is very unfair.
– That has never beer* suggested.
– I do not say that it has, but I have heard it whispered. I am not saying what are the facts, but if it be so it is all the more unseemly that the Senate should be asked to go out of its way to do an injustice to other British subjects. Are we to have billet-hunting in the Senate? If so, how can the Commonwealth be wisely and properly ruled ? I saythat an extraordinary course is being followed, and it reflects no credit upon the Senate that an attempt should be made to force the Government to do what they might do without any such forcing. This motion has the appearance to me of an attempt tocoerce the Government to do their duty, and I should hope that they do not require any coercion to induce them to dothat.
– I desire to support the motion. I cannot understand why the representatives of the Government in the Senate are opposing it. We have the assurance of theMinister of Defence that he has adopted’ the principle which the motion affirms.
– I asked honorable senators to adjourn the debate, in order to enable me to get necessary information, and they would not agree to do so.
– The honorable senator has said that he believes in the principle of the motion, and applies it where he can, but he is not prepared to allow us to show that we also believe in that principle. If any one is to blame for Senator Higgs having brought forward this motion, it is theGovernment who have for so long delayed’ bringing the Papua Act into operation. When the Minister first asked for an adjournment of the debate. I thought that it would have been wise to grant it, becausethe honorable senator explained that he desired to obtain information.
.- -But the honorable senator voted against the adjournment.
– I propose to say what 1 did, and also what the Minister did.
– The honorable senator voted twice against the adjournment of the debate.
– That will appear on the records, and it is therefore unnecessary for Senator Gould to refer to it.
– Yet the honorable senator now says that he was in favour of the adjournment !
– I did not say that I was in favour of it, but that I thought it would have been a good thing to give the Minister the adjournment he asked for.
– Yet the hon- 01 able senator voted against it !
– Before the first division took place I had not said a word beyond moving the adjournment of the debate, and the honorable senator voted against me in that division.
– Then the honorable senator protested that there should be an adjournment of the debate in order that he might be enabled to prepare himself on the question.
– The honorable senator voted against me before that.
– I did, but when Senator Trenwith showed how little he also knew of the question I began to see that it was possible that the Minister might be able, if an adjournment of the debate were allowed, to secure some valuable information.
– A very convenient conversion.
– I will show where the convenience was. When the Minister found that he could defeat the motion he refused to get the information for himself or for the Senate.
– That was the force of bad example.
– I am showing the insincerity of the Minister in the matter.
– The honorable senator’s insincerity was quite as bad, because he voted against the adjournment of the debate when he believed that it should be adjourned.
– I remind the honorable senator of the fact that we desired an adjournment of the debate before dinner, in order that we might not be brought back, and having been brought back we are entitled to go on with the business.
– There was no suggestion that honorable senators should not come back after the dinner adjournment.
There has been a strong prejudice against Australian-made goods’, Australian foods, and the appointment of Australian’s” to public positions, and if this motion is not carried I shall be disposed to regard those who vote against it as being just as prejudiced as people we’re ten or twelve years ago against everything Australian. In the circumstances, the attitude of the Government is, I think, a remarkable one. The Minister says that he believes in the principle of the’ motion, tout he will not allow us to say that we believe in it in its wording.
.- I desire to say a few words in reply to several speakers. Senator Symon wants to know what is the meaning of the words “ in touch with Hie aspirations of the Commonwealth.” If he does not know, I may tell him that throughout Australia, as has been shown by the votes of the majority of the members of the Senate, there is an opinion that the lands in Papua ought to be administered in a way somewhat different from that in which the lands in Australia have been administered. In the Papua Act we inserted a provision that’ no lands in the Possession shall be alienated, but shall be administered as ‘Crown lands. When we say that we want an Australian to go there to administer the land ordinances, we mean that we want a. person who is in sympathy with our views regarding the alienation of land. It would be quite possible for an Administrator to refuse to administer the Papua Act in the spirit in which it was passed. It would be quite possible for him to so frame the regulations as to nullify the Act in that regard. There is also a feeling throughout Australia, as stated by another honorable senator, that the natives should be well treated. Thereis, I venture to think, no sympathy with the suggestion of the Secretary for’ External’ Affairs, that we should force the natives; of Papua to work as natives are forced to do in other parts of the world. The sympathies and the aspirations of Australians are in the direction of treating natives as human beings.
– But human beings ought to work.
– Not in slaverythough. ,
– Apparently the Government are in favour of forced labour being used in Papua. That is what the interjection means, if it means anything.
– Not necessarily; but the natives ought to work.
– I cannot see very rauch harm in it.
– Then the honorable senator ought to read of the abuses which have marked the use of forced labour in other parts of the world.
– It is not necessary to go to other parts of the world.
– No; we might go to some States.
– To Queensland, for instance.
– Perhaps so. Contrary to his usual desire to be concise and precise, Senator Symon wants a great deal of elaboration in the motion. Now, when the Government brought down the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, he objected to the title.
– It has only come here to-day-
– The honorable and learned senator heard about the Bill, because he mentioned the fact. He objected to the use of the words in the title, because, apparently, there was too much detail given.
– That was not the reason.
– The honorable and learned senator knows well enough what is meant when we ask for the appointment of an Australian. When we use those words, the common-sense construction is that we want a man with sufficient ability in the way of education, and in the way of natural temperament and character.
– And with a knowledge of Australian conditions.
– Yes. We have been charged with want of loyalty to the Government in voting as we did this afternoon. It was a most singular thing that the leader of the Opposition should, for the first time, I think, since he entered the Senate, have been found supporting the Government, and endeavouring to save them from what he called humiliation.
– I always do it when they are right.
– Within my recollection there has never been a’ chance of humiliating the Government which the honorable senator has not availed himself of if he could.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not quite just.
– Did not the honorable senator use his eloquence to scarify the present leader of the Senate ?
– I do not think that his scarification was very deep.
– I know that the Minister has had too long an experience in politics to be much hurt by Senator Symon’s skilful attacks. But let us come to the Minister himself, who pleaded with us. He said, “ I want information,” and when I asked what information he wanted, no one thought for a moment that I expected a reply. I knew that I could not get a reply, because it was obvious. The Government have waited for nine months before proclaiming the Papua Act. They have forgotten that they have raised the cry of “Australia for the Australians,” and they are now trying to find a person outside Australia to fill this position.
– Why did the honorable senator vote for an adjournment of the debate just now?
– Because I knew from the Minister’s statement that he had the numbers behind him. Let us be candid. What is the use of beating about the bush ?
– Let us get to a vote, then.
– We know very well that this afternoon the Minister wanted an adjournment because he had not the votes.
– He said that he would get the votes after the dinner adjournment.
– It is of no use for honorable senators to try to indulge in bluff.
– The honorable senator tried to get a snatch vote, although he knew that the majority of the senators were against him.
– And honorable senators set the telephones to work, and beat us off.
– -Quite right, too.
– This afternoon some veiled attacks were made by certain speakers which I thought were unworthy of them. An, honorable senator said that because he had paid a visit to India, and written an article about his trip, he was not necessarily qualified to occupy the position of Lieutenant-Governor.
– No, GovernorGeneral.
– The honorable senator might have used that expression, but it does not make any difference if he did. We know whom he was aiming at.
Those who know the honorable senator aimed at, will, I think, admit that he would vote for the motion on its merits, believing that an Australian should be appointed. If a particular gentleman has been mentioned by some persons as being qualified for the position, that is no reason why he should be made the butt of sarcasm.
– The honorable senator mentioned the name.
– Where did I mention it?
– Two or three weeks ago inthe Senate.
– I do not believe that I did; at all events, I do not remember doing so.
– Either the honorable senator or Senator Styles did.
– Yes, I was the first to mention the name.
– I took the view that I should not advance the candidature of any gentleman by mentioning his name in public.
– Quite right.
– With regard to Captain Barton, whose name has been dragged into the debate, he has made a thorough failure of the administration of Papua.
– I know that from high authority in Papua.
– In the circumstances, the honorable senator ought not to say that or to discuss him.
– The matter was brought up by the opponents of the motion.
– Did we mention the name of Captain Barton ?
– What I said was that honorable senators ought not to condemn Captain Barton unheard. The motion passes him oven.
– The very act of the Government in going beyond Captain Barton, and seeking an administrator outside the Commonwealth, shows that they have no confidence in that gentleman. Why should he get the position? He was head of the police, a position which I suppose is filled in Australia by a sergeant of police.
– He had a district to himself.
– Captain Barton had Co direct the police, and his position was no higher than some of the important positions in the Police Force throughout the various
States. From information I have received and read in corespondence, I can assure you, sir, that the administration of: Papua is in a state of chaos, and that the hand of every man appears to be against his neighbour. It is even said that letters in the post-office are tampered with.
– The honorable senator ought not to say that.
– I refer to the chaotic state of the administration because the honorable senator suggests that Captain Barton should get the position.
– I do not suggest that.
– We know very well that a good deal of vice-regal influence is being used to get Captain Barton into the position, and if honorable senators start to advocate his claims, it will be necessary for us to mention these matters.
– No one did.
– Senator Fraser did.
– This evening, Senator Frasersaid that there was an attempt being made by the motion to secure the position of Lieutenant-Governor for a member of the Senate.
– To oust the man who was in it:
– Everybody tells me so.
– Suppose that such an attempt was being made, may I quote the words of certain honorable senators who, when I moved a motion that no member of the Federal Parliament should accept a position on the Bench of the High Court, utterly repelled such an idea? They knew that the Justices would be chosen from amongst the members of this Parliament, and yet they opposed the motion. If it is reasonable that a member of this Parliament should occupy a position on the bench of the High Court, what objection can there be to a member of this Parliament being appointed, if he is sufficiently capable, to the office of Administrator of Papua?
– No one disputes that.
– It would be far safer to appoint an outsider though, because then there could be no question of partiality.
– In conclusion, I wish to refer to a remark made by Senator Best to the effect that the motion will be regarded as expressing a want of confidence in the Government. If Ithought that the motion, if carried, would have the effect of displacing the Government, and putting in office our honorable friends opposite, I would not think of pressing it. We are supporting the Government because we believe that they will endeavour to pass legislation which is in accordance with ourviews, and with what we believe to be the views of our constituents.
– The caucus.
– I hope that the honorable senator will not talk about the caucus after what has happened to-day. He has seen instance upon instance in which honorable senators belonging to the Labour Party have exercised their vote according to their conviction.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator admit that.
– Must we suppress an opinion because members of the Government take exception to being directed, as they call it? What becomes of the gratitude of the members of the Cabinet and their supporters for the manner in which our party has supported them during the past six or eight months?
– That is nothing; it is not taken into consideration. The honorable senator ought to be thankful to follow them.
– I submit that in these matters we have a right to give a hint to the Government as to what our views are.
– Not to give a hint, but to take the management of public affairs out of their hands.
– I think that the Government ought to be very thankful to the party here for giving them an expression of their views on this question, because otherwise they might be under the impression that if they appointed an Australian they would not have the support of the people of Australia. By our votes we will assure Ministers that in Australia there is a great body of public opinion which is favorable to such an appointment. Senator Playford said that he is desirous of getting information on this subject. Are we to understand, as we might assume from his professed utter want of knowledge, that the Prime Minister did not inform the members of the Cabinet when heentered upon the negotiations to get a gentleman to fill the position? Are we to understand that, although the Papua Act was passed nine or ten months ago, the question of appointing an Administrator of the Possession never came up in Cabinet? Who have been transacting the business? Has it been transacted by the Prime Minister only, or by the Prime Minister and the Secretary for External Affairs, who, I am given to understand, is a friend of Captain Barton, and who is said to have made a royal progress through the Territory? I trust that everybody who is in favour of the shibboleth of the Prime Minister, “Australia for the Australians,” will cast a vote-
– Against the Government.
– No; the honorable and learned senator knows that that is not so. I hope that we shall show by our actions that we believe in the principle to which wegive expression.
– It will meet the convenience of honorable senators if I put the paragraphs of the motion separately.
Question - “ That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable, in the interestsof good government and the effective development of British New Guinea, a proclamation should be at once issued bringing the Papua Act into force “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - “ That an Australian citizen in touch with the aspirations of the Commonwealth should, without delay, be appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Territory “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing respectively, in those States in which returns are available, and in others, an estimate of the unimproved value of the privately owned lands of the following values : -
Further showing the value of such estates owned by persons and companies absent from the Commonwealth.
I understand that there is no desire to debate this motion, but that the intention is to amplify it in some way.
– We intend to debate it.
– If the honorable senator moves the motion we can secure an adjournment.
– I understand that it may not be possible to obtain the information which I desire for the whole of Australia; but there are three States, at any rate - New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland - from which it should be possible to ascertain what I wish to know. In New South Wales the information can be obtained, because in that State there is a general tax on the unimproved value of privately-owned lands, and the information collected for the purposes of that tax would furnish the material for an answer. A record is kept in the Lands Office of all the assessments. In Queensland, although there is no State tax on the unimproved value of land, there is a land tax for local government purposes, based upon the unimproved value. In that State the local governing bodies would be able to furnish the necessary information. In South Australia there is a progressive land tax, based upon the unimproved value, and the assessments will be in the Land Tax Office there.
– There will be no difficulty in regard to South Australia.
– The information that will be obtained from Queensland will not be of much use.
– It will be an approximate guide. I quite agree that it may not be possible to get full returns in some of the States, but we should be able to obtain returns which will be of some value from them, whilst from other States we should get returns which will be of considerable value in enabling us to form an estimate, first, as to the extent of large estates, and, secondly, as to the operation of a land values tax on those estates.
– Before the motion is further discussed, I should like to say that, since it was placed upon the notice-paper, inquiries have been instituted as to the possibility of obtaining returns which would supply the information required by Senator Pearce. I fear very much that there is little possibility of getting anything like a satisfactory return, which would show clearly, so far as the different States are concerned, and comparable as between State and State, the details set out under these nine headings.
– From whom is it proposed to get the information?
– I shall deal with that point. Since this motion appeared on the notice-paper, the Commonwealth Statistician has been communicated with. That gentleman at present is rather awkwardly circumstanced in making any inquiry necessary to supply himself with information to furnish to the Senate in this connexion. I am not certain, but I believe that reference has been made to the Victorian Statistical Department, and it has been found that some difficulty will be experienced in getting this information in’ detail.
– In Victoria, information could only be got, speaking roughly, in regard to what is known as the Mallee Province, and a very small area outside that part of the State.
– I am not familiar with the particular causes which make it difficult to get the information in detail.
– It could not be got in detail.
– Such information can only be got in, detail in States where there is an unimproved land tax.
– There is no desire on the part of the Government to prevent the information being obtained and furnished, if the motion is passed. Senator Pearce will understand, however, that in the endeavour to get this information the Government will be confronted with considerable difficulty, and the result may not be anything like so valuable or so adequate as the honorable senator may desire, nor may it be sufficient to be of value for the purpose of comparison between State and State. The Government, it will be seen, have endeavoured to get this information in anticipation, but have met with the difficulties referred to. We have not yet a properly organized, working Commonwealth Statistical Department, and our responsible officer informs us that there are insurmountable difficulties in the case of some of the States. In the States where information may be obtained, I am afraid it will be incomplete and inadequate, and Senator Pearce must look these circumstances fairly in the face, and not expect the full return that he desires.
– I am quite certain that the return which Senator Pearce asks for, will, when prepared, be of a very misleading character.
– Misleading !
– -Say unreliable.
– State by State the .returns may be fairly accurate, but from a Commonwealth point of view, we desire to know what are the individual ownings throughout Australia. A large number of people in the Commonwealth own property in two, three, or more States, and the return asked for would only show the estates owned in each State, and would not give, an accurate idea of the number of aggregate estates held bv persons throughout the Commonwealth.- To that extent, the return may be misleading, and it is aswell that fact should be known. Of course, we all know why the return is asked for. A certain number of people are quite prepared to transgress the command “ Thou, shalt not steal “ ; and this motion is one of the steps taken to help them on in what they deem to be a desirable scheme.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales> [9.20]. - The last speaker has pointed out that the information which it may be possible to collect, should the motion be adopted, will be unreliable in many details. It is impossible to deny that that anticipation is likely to be borne out but at the same time, in view of the fact that one of the matters to be submitted to the electors at the forthcoming electionis a proposed1 land tax, it seems highly desirable that not only for ourselves’, but for the electors, there should be made available the utmost information it is possible to obtain. Both those who support the proposal for a land tax, and those who, like myself. are utterly opposed to it, ought, first, to be in possession of all the facts. For that reason, while supporting the motion, I shall propose an amendment in order te make it a little wider. It seems to me insufficient to have a return showing only the unimproved value of the privately-owned lands dealt with in the motion ; we ought also to have a knowledge of the number of separate holdings and their areas. It would be much more useful to know whether a particular holding worth 1^5,000 is an allotment in George-street, Sydney, or 5,000 acres in the western plains of New South Wales.
– The return will be troublesome to collect.
– I admit that the information, will, be troublesome to collect, but seeing that the question is to be placed in a perfectly constitutional way before the electors bv honorable senators opposite, it is desirable that every effort should be made, by means of the machinery at the disposal of the Government, to ascertain all the facts. For that reason, I move -
That after the word “ the,” where first occurring in line 4, the words “number and area of the separate holdings and the “ be inserted.
I understand from Senator Pearce privately that he proposes to submit anamendment defining “ absence.”
– That amendment will be moved by another honorable senator.
– I propose to still further amend the motion so as to obtain information in reference to holdings valued at from £1,000 to £5,000.
– Say from £1 to £5,000.
– The honorable senator may, by interjections of that kind, attempt to decry the efforts I am making to assist the mover of the motion to get all the information available ; but if Senator McGregor, for obvious reasons, desires to keep out of sight the number of small holdings, I do not.
– I say, take them all in.
– What I propose to do is to amend the motion so as to provide for a return as to the unimproved value of privately-owned lands of the values under £1,000, under £2,000, under £3,000, and under £4,000.
– I agree with that suggestion.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That after the word “values,” line 5, the following words be inserted : - “ Under £1,000.
– I desire to move that there be added to the motion the words “absence to mean continuous residence outside the Commonwealth for the preceding twelve months.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.27]. - What is desired is not information as to the absence of proprietors for merely twelve months, because it is quite possible for a man and his family to be away for that period, or even two years, on a holiday. The information desired is as to that particular class who are known as absentees.
– Who permanently reside abroad.
– I mean those who have withdrawn what lawyers call their “ domicile “ from Australia, With that end in view, I suggest that the words to be added to the clause should be, “and the duration in each case of such absence.” When the return is prepared, honorable senators can place their own construction on the information.
– I accept the suggestion of thehonorable senator.
– I make this suggestion with the same view as that expressed by Senator Millen, namely, that if weare getting information, the object of which is plain, it is desirable that we should have the facts as applicableto both sides. The more such information is brought forward and placed on record, the plainer will the issue be in the eyes of the people. It is desirable to cover all the ground likely to be covered by the controversy as to the land tax.
– I do not think I can support the motion, which will impose on some one an extraordinary amount of work.
– Does the honorable senator think that we should act in the dark?
– I do not desire the honorable senator to act in the dark. In the absence of any Government machinery, we shall be imposing on some one the duty of furnishing a return, the information necessary to which does not exist in three States out of the six, and which cannot be obtained except at great cost.At the present time there is an Assessment Bill before the Tasmanian Parliament, involving an expenditure of £7,000 or £8,000, in order to obtain this information; and when that Bill is passed - if it is passed at all, a similar measure having been several times rejected - months, and probably years, will be required to gather the facts. All the Statisticians will give us will be an approximation of the relative value of the whole of the property in Tasmania, as distinguished between the capital value and the unimproved capital value.
– The motion will not impose any expenditure on Tasmania.
– I am pointing out to Senator Pearce the difficulty there will be in getting the information.
– If the honorable senator will read the motion he will see that I recognise that, because I use the words “ in those States in which returns are available.”
– I have pointed out that in the case of three States only these returns will be available.
– I recognise that.
– It is possible to get from the Statisticians the whole capital value of private property, but they may give an estimate which will only amount to a guess of the relative proportions of the value of that property which exists in land. When the honorable senator asks the Statisticians to give this information in detailhe asks them to do what is impossible.
– We are asking them to give only what they can give.
– No, the motion asks them to give something which they cannot give unless a detailed assessment is made. Honorable senators must surely see that?
– That does not apply in all the States; to New South Wales, for instance.
– If he has net sufficient data to supply a return, he is asked to give an estimate.
– In New South Wales there is an unimproved capital value tax.
– Apart from that, it would be possible to obtain the number of different holdings in all the States.
– That is quite so. There is no doubt that we could get the number and areas of the different holdings. I presume thatthat information could be obtained, even with respect to Victoria, although in a place like Melbourne blocks of land insignificant in area are of immense value. Of what use is it to know the areas of blocks when We know that land has been sold in Melbourne at £2,000 per foot? I point out that it will be impossible to obtainany returns under this motion within the next twelve months or two years that will be ofanyvalue to the party who wish to use the information. I know the purpose for which this information is desired, and I do not approve of it. I shall from the first do my best to prevent its accomplishment, and shall therefore vote against the motion.
Amendment (by Senator O’Keefe) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ and the duration in each case of such absence.”
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Thatthere be laid upon thetable of the Senate a return showing respectively, in those States in which returns are available, and in others an estimate of, the number and area of the separate holdings, and the unimproved value of the privately-owned lands of the following values : -
Over £5,000 and under £10,000.
Over £10,000 and under £15,000.
Over £15,000 and under £30,000.
Over £20,000 and under £30,000.
Over £30,000 and under £40,000.
Over £40,000 and under £50,000.
Over £50,000 and under £60,000.
Further showing the value of such estates owned by persons and companies absent from the Commonwealth, and the duration in each case of such absence.
Senate adjourned at 9.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 July 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060718_senate_2_32/>.