2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he is prepared to consult the Cabinet and inform the Senate what scheme, if any, they are prepared to adopt for subsidizing rifle teams proceeding to Great Britain or other places in order to compete at rifle matches?
– If a definite scheme is placed before me I shall consider it, but as regards paying the whole expense of sending teams to Bisley and other places-
– I did not ask whether the Government would pay all the expenses, but whether they would subsidize rifle teams.
– If the honorable senator will submit to me a definite pro posal, I shall give him an answer. I am not prepared to say off-hand whether we shall subsidize any rifle teams. It will entirely depend upon whether we think that a scheme, when placed before us, is worth subsidizing or not.
– Does the Minister prefer that we should formulate a scheme?
– Let the honorable senator formulate a scheme, make a proposal, and ask us to give a subsidy, and then we shall give him an answer. That is the straightforward way of proceeding.
– I have to intimate that from Lord Castlereagh, who is Chairman of a number of members of the House of Commons, who have formed themselves into a committee for the purpose of meet ing members of other Parliaments, I have received a communication requesting the attendance of members of the Senate at a conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Arbitration Union at Westminster on the 23rd July. The invitation is a little belated, but I only received it the day before yesterday.
– Is it for the 23rd July of this vear ?
– Yes. Of course, it is impossible, as the writer states, for the members of the Senate to attend, and why the communication was sent I do not know.
Rights of the Senate.
Report presented by Senator Hender son, and read by the Clerk as follows: -
The Printing Committee, having had before it a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Committee by Mr. Atlee Hunt forwarding, by direction of the Prime Minister, a communication addressed to the Prime Minister bv the Chairman of the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives, calling “ attention to the unnecessary printing andextra expenseincurred by the Senate in printing Regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act1901, as set out in thr Journals forwarded herewith,” and reciting the following resolution passed by the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives : - “That the attention of the Honorable the Prime Minister be again called to the fact that these Regulations (see p. 11 of the Journals of the Senate) are published under the Rules Publication Act, and that there is no necessity for their being printed as Parliamentary Papers”- have come to the following resolutions: -
That it is the right of the Senate to order the printing of any paper laid on the table of the Senate.
That the action of the Senate in ordering any paper to be printed is not open to review by’ the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives.
That it is not proper that the action of the Senate should be brought by the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives under the attention of the Prime Minister.
That the Chairman of the Printing Committee of the Senate make report to the Senate accordingly.
Henderson, Chairman. 19th July, 1906.
– I desire to move that a copy of the report be transmitted to the Prime Minister.
– The report has not yet been adopted by the Senate.
– It is only open to the honorable’ senator to move that the report be printed and taken into consideration on another day.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report be printed, and taken into consideration to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Minister apply to the State Government of Western Australia for copies of the reports tabled in the House of Assembly, compiled by Government officials of that State, showing the operations of the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution’, and the probable effect on the revenue of that State if they were abolished ?
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Matheson on account of urgent private business
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given . to bring in a Bill to amend the law relating to parliamentary elections.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator PLAYFORD) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to quarantine.
– I move -
That, in ihe opinion of this Senate, a limited number of press, messages on matters of public interest should bc carried free over the Pacific Cable in order to increase the knowledge and community of interests between the various portions of the Empire linked together by the cable.
I objected to the motion being taken as ‘ formal “ because my object is not so much to carry a motion as to initiate a discussion upon what I conceive to be a matter of considerable importance.’ .The Pacific Cable Company is, so far, the greatest commercial enterprise undertaken by the various portions of the British Empire. It is one which I believe has resulted in great benefit to the four portions of the Empire, which are linked together by this submarine cable. The total expenditure up to the 31st March was £1,993.993 - practically ,£2,000,000 sterling. Working expenses, the cost of the repairing steamer, salaries, and matters of that kind, amounted to £51,000 for the year ending the 31st March last, and the total receipts came to ,£82,000, showing a net profit of £31,000. The annual contributions to the sinking funds - and there are various sinking funds - necessitated a payment by the partners in the cable of £75,849; and the Commonwealth share of that, which is one-third, amounted to £25,283. I might say here that the Pacific Cable is paying better than the cable owned by the Eastern Extension Company, which’ communicates with the the Commonwealth of Australia, because that company’s cable, at the present time, I learn’ on the best authority, does not pay much more than working expenses. It is an undoubted fact that the Pacific Cable has reduced the cost of cabling for ordinary private message from 9s. .(.d. to 3s. a word. The saving thus effected to the commercial community of Australia has been enormous. Eliminating press and Government messages, about 2,000,000 words are sent every year over the various cables connected with Australia. The difference in cost between ps. 4d. and 3s. a word means an annual saving to Australia of ,£600,000 per annum. The people of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with their brethren in New Zealand, Canada, and Great Britain, have assumed this liability, and have brought into existence this great Inter-Empire ser- vice. The service was created for the common good of the inhabitants of the countries which are thus linked together. But, as a matter of fact, the cable up to the present has been of special benefit only to a few thousands of people in the Commonwealth - those who use it for commercial and other purposes. While I approve of that advantage, and while I believe that there has been an indirect advantage to the whole Commonwealth, I yet think that it would be possible to add to the beneficent effects of the cable by enlarging the ambit of its usefulness. Sir Sandford Fleming, in a communication published in pamphlet form, and issued by the Board of Trade of Canada, laid down the object of this InterEmpire Cable. He said -
It is held that the Empire cables should be Stale-owned for the following and other reasons, namely : -
In order that they may be wholly removed from the control of companies, whose chief object is to make profits by maintaining as high rates as possible on messages.
That was the object for which the cable was laid d’own. The proposal now before the Senate is that we should enlarge the usefulness of the cable service by carrying over the line certain press messages of national interest free of cost. The messages which I have in mind would relate to the national development of the countries concerned, and the industrial and commercial development of the Empire, as well ais to matters which are of general interest to the public. If those messages were supplied to every newspaper throughout the Commonwealth it would give us a better and fuller knowledge of the conditions that obtain in other parts of the Empire, and would consequently be of great advantage lo tHe communities represented within the Empire. This proposal of mine is no novelty. Tt was proposed by that great statesman, Sir Sandford Fleming, the man who inspired the construction of the Pacific Cable, and who, for many years, fought strenuously until he brought the scheme to a successful issue. He urged that the co-operation of the press would be an immensely beneficial factor in relation to the cable. He said, in his report on “ State Cables and cheap Telegraphy “ - 1
It has been suggested that for high Imperial reasons the co-operation of the press should be sought. The press has much in its power to promote unity and progress; its highest functions are to spread knowledge, enlighten the people and mould their destiny. But the press must have freedom, and it should enjoy advantage in performing its beneficent work which science can. devise.
Further on he said -
I am thoroughly satisfied that the cable, dur. ing a portion of each day could not be turned to any better account. Two hours a day would easily admit of 10,000 or 12,000 words being transmitted each week. This full volume of news published simultaneously in the chief centres of the Empire would have a wonderful influence. The good to result from a mutual interchange of information and sentiment is beyond calculation.
– When was that published ?
– In July, 1905. With regard to the time that is at present occupied by the ordinary press, Government, and private messages sent over the Pacific Cable, I will read another extract from a letter by Sir Sandford Fleming. He wrote -
The Stale-owned cable across the Pacific is engaged in transmitting ordinary traffic only a few hours each day, and lies idle at the bottom of the ocean not less than twenty hours in every twenty-four. It is shown to a demonstration that a free press service can be established during a portion of the idle hours of the cable without adding in the least to working expenses.
He went on to say -
To accelerate the process of evolution, I am satisfied that the most certain course is to begin by utilizing to the fullest extent that heavensent means of transmitting human words across the ocean, and by cultivating the freest and most friendly intercourse between all those people who go to make up the Empire.
He added -
An Intelligence Department controlling the circle of State telegraph cables known as the “ Empire Cables,” during a portion of each clay for the exchange and transmission of mutual knowledge between all the great political groups of British people would prove, as I have elsewhere pointed out, to be of the highest practical value. By such means, information of common interest collected in all parts of the Empire would be published simultaneously in the daily newspapers of each country. The effect would soon be to remove much of the ignorance which prevails, and gradual lv bring the whole British people in both hemispheres to a good understanding of each other through an intimacy heretofore quite impossible, of attainment.
With regard to the number of words that can be sent over the Pacific Cable, I will read a further extract from this communication of Sir Sandford Fleming. He stated -
The cable, with duplex and curb automatic working, attains a speed of 16S letters per minute, and I have heard of no good reason why this working speed should not be maintained in transmitting a continuous stream of telegraph matter. On this basis, taking the words at eight letters, the transmitting power of the cable is 30,000 words per day of twentyfour hours. Excluding Sundays, that is equal to more than 9,000,000 words per annum.
I have mentioned that the total number of words, apart from press and Government messages, sent over the whole of the cables from Australia at present amounts to 2,000,000 per annum; whereas the Pacific Cable is capable of transmitting 9,000,000 words by itself.
– Continuously ?
After making due allowance in ordinary traffic for all necessary service messages, the line is quite capable of carrying 25,000 paying words per day without to any appreciable extent adding to the present working expenses.
The whole of our partners in the Pacific Cable - Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand - are anxious that the system that I advocate should be inaugurated. But it was opposed by the Commonwealth - for what reason I am unable to ascertain - and by the Pacific Cable Board. There is only one objection to the inauguration of the scheme in its entirety, and that is the fact that from the Pacific across Canada to Great Britain the telegraph lines are owned by private individuals. But that is an objection which I believe will be rectified by the Government purchasing the lines or laying down a line of its own.
– The honorable senator is looking a long way ahead if he expects that to happen in Canada.
– I do not know that I ami. It is stated in a circular issued’ by the Canadian Board of Trade, which is an exceedingly important body -
The proposal to establish the first of these four divisions (United Kingdom to Pacific) has for some time been before the Canadian public, and I feel warranted in saying that it is regarded with much favour. It cannot be doubted that in the event of the Canadian Government proceeding to nationalize the telegraph service between London and Vancouver it would be accepted with general satisfaction throughout the Dominion.
So that we have every reason to believe that that continuation will be completed before many years.
– Canada is going to allow another private company to construct the, Grand Trunk line.
– It is possible that the Government will purchase one of the lines.
– The big fight has been over the question of purchase, and the people who wanted to grant a franchise to the Grand Trunk Company have triumphed.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITHOpinions on such matters change in democratic countries, and it is quite possible that after another election the decision of the people will lead to the reversal of what has been done. In the meantime my proposal is of a more practical nature - that we should at present- inaugurate a partial application of the system which I advocate between Vancouver in Canada and Southport in Queensland. That is the object of the motion, because I deal only with State-owned Empire cables. I understand that England, Canada, and New Zealand are favorable to the idea, and it only remains for Australia to express approval in order to enable the scheme I have suggested to be carried out. lt is a matter of very serious regreat that at the present time we in Australia receive practically no cable news from Canada. The Dominion is an immense territory, inhabited1 by people who are amongst the most progressive in the world, and whose ideals are very much the same as our own. The same remark may be applied to New Zealand ; and we have much to learn from both countries in connexion with political problems and industrial and trad’e development. At present we receive cable news from Canada only about once a month, and we are not kept as fully informed as is desirable on matters of national interest in the sister Colony of New Zealand. As Sir Sandford Fleming has pointed out, the Pacific Cable is not in use for twenty hours out of the twenty-four; and, seeing that the cable was inaugurated for the benefit of the portions of the Empire which it serves, there is no reason why, during those idle hours, when the operators are merely waiting for any messages which, may come to hand’, informative press messages should not be conveyed without expense. Of course, if a scheme of free press messages be devised and carried out, they must be despatched from an unbiased source in each country. I admit that there is possible difficulty in the creation of a body or tribunal which would not only be unbiased, but fully informed in matters of great public interest. However, this seems to me to be a difficulty of detail which is not insuperable - a difficulty which could be got over by those who have an intimate knowledge of cable matters in connexion with the press. It is probable that the various Agents-General would be the tribunal chosen to decide on. the messages to be sent from England to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and to receive in return cables for circulation to the British” press. The messages from Australia might!, of course, be sent to a press agency in England for distribution there. As to Canada and New Zealand, I think it probable that the Commonwealth Government will find it necessary to appoint commercial agents in the two latter countries; and these gentlemen might form the nucleus of a body to supervise the transmission of free press messages dealing with trade, the opening of new markets, the state of industries, and so forth. However, at present mv only desire is to give some broad idea of a scheme which would prove of immense advantage to the Empire, and be attended with very little cost. I do not even desire to press the motion to a division, if honorable senators should think such a course inadvisable. I think, however, that free press messages of the kind would prove of great benefit in relation to our trade and commerce, our industrial progress, legislation, and1 general development, and I suggest to the Government the advisability of referring the matter to the Pacific Cable Board and the Board’s representative here, in order that, if possible, some arrangement of the kind may be made.
– Would the Pacific Cable Board now agree to such a proposal, seeing that they have previously declined to db so?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The Pacific Cable Board is composed of the representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and three of the partners are already favorable to the idea. It follows, therefore, that if Australia consents, the Board will be in favour of the scheme. I further suggest that this question should! be brought forward at the Imperial Conference to be held in London next April, when other matters connected with the general welfare of the Empire will be discussed. Some decision might then be arrived at, not only as to the desirability of free press .messages, but as to the method to be adopted.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the obligation rests on him to show that such a scheme is practicable ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I am quite incompetent to .go into the details, although I do know something technically about ocean telegraphy. The details will have to be worked out, but it appears to me, as I have already said, that there are no insuperable difficulties. The chief difficulty is the appointment of somebody in each country affected, to form an impartial tribunal to decide on the information to be distributed, but here again I think a satisfactory arrangement could be made.
– If the Pacific Cable were earning a profit, would the honorable senator still expect press messages to be carried for nothing?
– We are the Cable Company.
– Yes, in a way
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Australia owns one third of the cable, Great Britain and Canada four-fifteenths each, and New Zealand two-fifteenths; and these countries are, therefore, the owners of the cable. If a system of free messages can be inaugurated without cost,, and yet will result in great benefit by the diffusion of knowledge, there should be no objection, or any difficulty in a scheme being carried out by experts. I am sure that a man like Sir Sandford Fleming, who has spent a lifetime in improving the cable services, could give material assistance in overcoming all difficulty.
– What would be done with the cables when received?
– I am glad that the honorable senator has asked the question. In regard to Australia, I suggest that 2,000 or 3,000 words per day should be received at Southport in Queensland, and that then the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government should absolutely cease. The hundreds of newspapers of Australia might have a press agency or representative at Southport, who would distribute the messages in the same way as private cable news is distributed at the present time. Instead, however, of sending the information to only certain newspapers, all the newspapers of the
Commonwealth, who cared to pay the cost of the internal telegrams, would be supplied. This would be done, not with the object of benefiting the newspapers, but in order to supply important information to the community generally, who are the owners of the cable.
– Is there not a difference between being a .guarantor and being an owner?
– We are practically the owners, because we take the responsibility in regard to interest and sinking fund. The British Government supplied’ the .£2,000,000, and Australia practically appropriated one -third by undertaking an obligation, which, if necessary, we shall have to liquidate.
– I am trying to ascertain whether we have the right to suggest that the Cable Board should carry these messages free of expense.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The whole of the money necessary for the, cable was raised in Great Britain ; but Senator F’raser, who was at the first Conference held in connexion with this service, could probably inform us fully on the matter.
– But was it not private capital ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There was no private capital. The money was raised by the British Government, and, although Australia did not assist in that, we became liable for one-third, on which we have to pay interest and sinking fund if these be not provided by the profits. If the messages were received at Southport, as I have suggested, any newspaper in any of the States, except Tasmania, where, I think, there are special rates, could receive the telegrams at the internal cost of 3s. ,’for the first 100 words, and is. for every subsequent fifty words. I do not believe there is any daily paper, however small, that would not take advantage of the opportunity to obtain such valuable information at so cheap a rate.
– Is it quite logical to propose to bring the information from Europe for nothing, and to charge for transmitting it in Australia?
– Australia would assist so ‘far as it did not mean any expense to the Commonwealth. As I have already said, England, Canada, and New. Zealand are favourable to the scheme ; but a year or two ago when I was discussing this matter, Senator Playford interjected that not only the Commonwealth, but the Pacific Cable Board objected.
– So I have been informed.
– In what way has England given an expression of opinion - through the Government ?
– I cannot say ; I am relying on the statement made by a reliable authority that the only person on the Board who objected was the representative of Australia. I am now merely making the broad suggestion that the Government should obtain from the Pacific Cable Board, through its representative here, an expression of opinion as to the practicability of the scheme - as to whether the difficulties which have been suggested by myself, aand by others in interjection, can be overcome. I further ask the Government to consider the advisability of making this a subject for discussion at the Imperial Conference to be held next April.
– The proposals made by Senator Smith are in many respects alluring, but, like many other alluring proposals, they may probably lead to a good deal of disappointment. The honorable senator talks about the free transmission of 2,000 or 3,000 words every day; and that number I believe, represents about two columns of any of our great daily newspapers.
– It all depends upon which newspapers; some would make a whole newspaper of that number of words.
– The conductors of any of our great daily newspapers will tell us that the pressure on their pages is so great that they have the utmost difficulty in using the information that now comes to hand. I halve much doubt whether, if this mass of matter were brought to their doors day by day, it would be used by the editors.
– Then the quantity could be reduced.
– I am quite certain that the great bulk would not be used at all.
– A - All would be used if it was o’f sufficient interest.
– I say that the great bulk would not be used.
– Why say that?
– I - It would be used in place of the cables which are now paid for.
– They pay for a certain amount of matter; that payment they would cease to make, and the revenue of Australia would be correspondingly decreased. If they are to be presented with messages which they receive from Europe at the present time, we shall have a greater amount of loss to make up on the operations of the Pacific Cable. That does not seem to me to bc a very good move to start with. From my experience of the press - and I know a great deal about press matters in Sydney and elsewhere - I am certain that the pressure on the space of the great newspapers is so great that those conducting them watch very closely everything that is put into them, and they put in only what their readers desire. I am very sorry to have to confess that newspaper proprietors say that a very great deal of matter of first importance is sacrificed for matter of secondary importance, because their readers look for the latter. I feel sure that very little of the mass of matter which the honorable senator suggests should be collected from all parts of the Empire would find a place in our newspapers.
– Would they not publish information from Canada?
– They would publish a little, no doubt. But if information from Canada were published and were not read, the proprietors of the newspapers would say, “ Why should we continue to insert this matter?” If there is anything damned as a matter of news it is that which costs nothing. If we could afford to do so it would be very wise to considerably reduce the cost of cabling, so that whenever any event of importance were transpiring the press could supply their readers with information concerning it at much less cost than they are able to do now. But to arrange for a certain mass of telegraphic matter dayby day, whether there is anvthing of vital importance transpiring or not, is not a course which commends itself to my judgment. I thinkthat we are indebted to Senator Smith for ventilating the subject. It is one which might very well be further considered, not only in the light of the information the honorable senator has supplied, but from the points of view I have mentioned. I should be delighted to see a greater ventilation of the affairs of the Empire. Nothing would Dlease me better than to see a great public demand for it. But I apprehend that the true course for us to adopt is to try to reduce the cost of cables to the lowest possible point. Senator Smith made some reference to a body with whom would rest the exercise of discrimination as to the news which was to be forwarded. This is reallv a verv grave matter. If certain people are to select the matter which is to be sent, it may well be that their selection will not be considered suitable, and that news which many people here would desire to obtain may be overlooked. Even from this point of view I very much doubt whether the proposal would be likely to eventuate successfully. The matter is one which may very well be debated at the Conference to be held in London next year, and if anything can be done to draw the various parts of the Empire more closely together by an easier and cheaper promulgation of news, a step in advance will have been taken. However, I do not think that is to be secured by the circulation of a huge mass of telegraphic matter day by day, absolutely free of cost to the newspapers.
– I take it that the honorable senator who is responsible for the introduction of this motion has now fairlv achieved the object with which he set out when he put it on the notice-paper. We may take it from the honorable senator’s concluding remarks that what he really aimed at was to bring under the notice of the existing Government the necessity for establishing closer communication than already exists between. Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The honorable senator’s concluding remarks would lead us to believe, at any rate, that all he desires is that this matter shall be further considered, and, if possible, shall form a subject of consideration and debate at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
– Hear, hear.
– As his remarks have shown, Senator Smith is aware that this matter has been already considered. Not only recently, but some years ago; it was brought under the notice of the Pacific Cable Board. Whether it was on account of the particular difficulty suggested bv the honorable senator, or other difficulties suggested by the interjections of honorable senators during the course of his speech, the Pacific Cable Board, at any rate, has been averse to the establishment of any such system as is contained in this motion. Senator Smith has said that our partners in the Pacific Cable enterprise - Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom - are agreeable to the establishment of some such scheme. He was pertinently asked by Senator Millen in what particular way the United Kingdom, for instance, had indicated agreeableness. I am at a loss to understand in what way the United Kingdom has signified its willingness to accept such a scheme.
– I assume that the Imperial Government empowered their representative on the Board to express agreement with it.
– I do not know, either, how agreement with such a scheme has been expressed by New Zealand or Canada. Senator Smith has stated that the representatives of those countries on the Pacific Cable Board have favoured the scheme. What evidence the honorable senator has of that I do not know. So far as I have been able to ascertain by looking through the papers on the subject in the possession of the Government, they contain no evidence to that effect. So far as Canada is concerned, she occupies a position with regard to the Pacific Cable totally different from that occupied by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth owns and operates the whole of the telegraphic systems throughout the States - that is to say, all the land wires. That is not the position of the Canadian Government. Although Senator Smith may fancy that the Canadian people at an early general election will reverse the established policy of the Dominion in this respect, much as I should like to agree with the honorable senator, I feel that the facts do not warrant any such assumption.
– The honorable and learned senator does not desire that the present Canadian Government shall be opposed.
– The present Government of Canada, at any Tate, are not in favour of the establishment of Stateow:nea means of telegraphy or of transit. As a matter of fact, the most violent opposition offered to the existing Government of Canada during the whole course of their existence was that evoked by their proposals to grant the concessions enjoyed by the Grand Trunk Railway Company.
– That is what I say ; there is a very strong feeling in favour of it.
– The whole of the telegraphic communication across the Dominion of Canada is operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. I do not say that that is a very desirable state of things, but it is the state of things existing at present in Canada, and I mention it now to point some remarks which I propose to address to the Senate iri a few moments. Again, the ‘connexion between Canada and the United Kingdom is held by one or more of the Atlantic Cable companies. So that, so far as messages from the United Kingdom via the Pacific are concerned, the press rates of is. per word contribute to. the revenue of a number of distinct bodies - the Atlantic Cable Company, that takes the message; the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, that transmits it across the Dominion; the Pacific Cable Board, who transmit the ,message from Vancouver to Southport ; and then the Commonwealth Government. These messages, aS I have said, cost is. per word, and that cost is distributed as follows: - Of the is., Australia receives 2d., the Pacific Cable Board 4d., the Canadian Pacific Railway Company id., and the Atlantic Cable Company and Great Britain receive sd. So that, in fact, if we were to ask the Pacific Cable Board to remit their charges in respect of press telegraphic messages, they would still have to pay 8d. per word, because we could not induce private corporations like the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to remit their charges.
– I am not proposing to include’ England ‘until the line is taken over by the Government.
– I am dealing with messages coming from Great Britain, and, so far as thev are concerned, 8d. out of every is. per word charged ora those messages) is contributed to administrations other than that of the Pacific Cable Board. If it is proposed to load the Pacific Cable, quiet though it may be during certain hours of the daw with an extra 2,000 words per day, and if the Pacific Cable Board is to transmit these messages for nothing, they will derive no benefit, while the auxiliary corporations with which it must work in the transmission of -these messages will continue to derive considerable benefit. In other words, the proposal would increase the revenue of the Canadian Pacific Rail-. way Company and the Atlantic Cable Company, and, of course, the revenue of the Commonwealth Telegraphic Department ; while the Pacific Cable Board will be the one administration of them all that will get nothing out of the proposal.
– Indirectly they will. -Senator KEATING. - No; not even indirectly.
– There will be the advertisement.
– I do not know that) that would be sufficient to induce them to send 2,000 words a day over their cable for nothing.
– Then say 1,000 words. It is merely an arbitrary number.
– The advertisement would be no more an advertisement for the Pacific Cable Board than for the other administrations, who would continue to be paid.
– The others would get the traffic, the advertisement, and also the revenue. I am not saying that the matter is one which should not be discussed ; but I merely direct the attention of honorable senators to these circumstances connected with it. Perhaps no one in this Parliament knows better than does Senator Smith that the Pacific Cable Board, since the cable has been established, has laid down for its- adoption solid business lines.
– I do not know that it has.
– It has always determined that its administration shall be characterized by business methods. Senator Smith has given to the Senate the figures in connexion with the revenue, expenditure, and appropriations towards sinking funds. The honorable senator knows, as do other honorable senators, that in the controversy that has taken place between the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and the Pacific -Cable Board - if such” can be said to have taken place between the parties - the Pacific Cable Board has been referred to on different occasions as carrying on an enterprise which is not paying.
– It is paying if we consider the sinking fund.
– Exactly ; that is just what I. am coming to. In a paper sense, it may not be paying in comparison with similar undertakings in other parts of the world ; but the defence of the Pacific Cable Board - and it is a legitimate defence - is that they provide sinking and amortization funds, which do not find a parallel in the management of other corporations. That is the point, and it is therefore correct to say that the Pacific Cable Board is run on business lines, and should continue to be run on business lines. If there is one thing which will ever sap the foundation, of such a huge public enterprise as that which has been entered into by Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, it will be when it is conducted! on unbusinesslike lines. We all agree that many advantages would be gained. If we could get increased traffic over the line it would bring us closer to our brothers in Canada, and to our cousins in the United States of America. But we cannot afford to sacrifice the interest of this huge enterprise, and at the same time to give private undertakings which are carried on conjointly with it, so to speak, a considerable increase in their revenue, which would . make the contrast between the two classes of enterprises all the more striking, and all the more disadvantageous to the Pacific Cable Board. When Senator Smith referred to Sir Sandford Fleming’s statement as to the possibility of using this line for such a purpose as indicated in his motion, I asked what was the date of the representation, a:nd he said that’ it was made in 1905. I asked the question for a purpose, because so far back as 1903 this matter was considered by the Pacific Cable Board. That will go to show that) so far as the partners in this enterprise are concerned, it has not escaped their notice and consideration. The Pacific Cable Board! then decided that it would be inopportune and inexpedient to adopt such a system as is indicated in the motion. I do not know’ how that came to be considered by the Board, but if I remember rightly, Mr. Seddon contemplated a project of this sort, or at any rate the newspapers announced that he did. He may have communicated directly with the Board, or his intentions may have been communicated in another manner, and the Board mav have considered the practicability of carrying out such a proposal ; at any rate, so far back as 1903 they decided that it was inopportune and inexpedient. Since then we have the testimony of Sir Sandford Fleming, who was, I believe, a projector1 of this cable, quoted bv Senator
Smith. But quite recently the Board have been approached, and they have adhered to their former attitude. I think it is only due to honorable senators that I should communicate to them a portion of a letter on this very subject, which was addressed by the Board on the 31st March, 1906, to the Colonial Office, London -
With respect to the suggested transmission of 10,000 to 12,000 words for simultaneous publication in the chief centres of the Empire, 1 am to state that it seems unnecessary to deal with a proposal for the gratuitous transmission of a mass of business over a costly cable.
The fact is, as I have pointed out, that the Pacific Cable Board, by increasing the traffic over their line from which they would get no revenue, would at the same time be considerably increasing the traffic over privately-owned lines, which would receive the ordinary revenue for that increased traffic, and would thereby be placed in a position which would be very disadvantageous to a very great public enterprise. It cannot be forgotten that, so far back as 1903, when this matter was first mooted, the Pacific Cable Board urged, as one of the reasons why they could not fall in with such a scheme, that by one of its rules the International Telegraph Union prohibited the differential treatment of messages over the same line, and that objection was alleged to be insurmountable. 1 mention these facts in order that honorable senators mav see the difficulties which confront this enterprise in carrying out such a scheme as is suggested in the motion. They will see that it has been under consideration, and that it is open to objections, some of “which are said to be insurmountable, and others of which fend to show that it would be very disadvantageous for the Pacific Cable Board to carry out the scheme unless in conjunction with private corporations. I feel sure that Senator Smith, ifter having ascertained the view of the Senate generally, will see the wisdom of adhering to the course which he indicated that he might follow, and that is asking leave to withdraw the motion.
– I should be verv glad if the road were clear to comply with Senator Smith’s wish ; but I must confess that the statement of Sena-! tor Keating has great force. From a national aspect, it is possible that the land lines of Canada might agree to carry the messages free. I do not know whether they would, but I should imagine that they might do so, for the sake of the nation, and in the hope of increasing the trade between Australia and Canada. But the cable between Canada and London is on a very different footing.
– I do not propose that that should be brought in until there is an Empire line.
– If that line be left out there will be less objection” to the motion, because undoubtedly the owners of the cable between Canada and England would not give their consent. They look upon the transmission of messages as a business transaction, and it would interfere with their other work if they were to render a free service. I doubt whether the. lines in Canada would transmit free messages. Evidently there is not much trade between Canada and Australia. If there was much trade between the two countries there would be plenty of cabling done. No doubt in the Empire sense there is a strong community of interest. Of course, if there were a British-owned cable from Australia to Canada it would be a very proper service to render, and could not be objected to. But there are difficulties in the way at the present time.
– The Canadians do not approve of sending much money to Australia.
– If there was trade to be done, the Canadians would act in the same way as we would act. There is only trade in timber, and_, perhaps, a little fish. Between New Zealand and Canada, however, there is considerable traffic, because the boats are running constantly. I do not see much hope of the trade between Australia and Canada increasing. It will be remembered that if a cable is sent to Canada via London the cost is greatly increased. I do not suppose that there is any traffic of that kind. Of course in times of stress or in times of Empire trouble it would be very advisable to send free cablegrams. If the Empire owned cables extending round the world we could do what we liked, but commercial interests exist, and I am afraid that we cannot interfere with them
– - -I feel that something might be done along the lines indicated by Senator Smith. I am sure that we have all felt the inadequacy of the present cable service, as it affects Australia, other portions of the Empire, and the rest of the world.
The news we get is very limited. Very often it is of no consequence to the ordinary citizen at this end, and so far as I have been able to discover, the Australian news published in the British press is absolutely next to nothing. Take, for instance, the cablegrams in to-day’s Argus. To begin with, we have three long cablegrams, namely, one about the King, one about .the German Emperor, and one about a late South African millionaire. No doubt the King is a most interesting personage, and the people of Australia are waiting with bated breath to know that he has received an invitation to visit Canada, and that he has declined. I have no doubt that very soon we shall have Senator Dobson moving that His Majesty be invited to visit Australia.
– -I wish he would.
– Why should he not ?
– There is no earthly reason why he should not, and I expect that within a very limited period a motion will be placed upon the noticepaper. It gave me quite a shock when I discovered -from the press that His August Majesty the German Emperor has become a grandfather.
– The honorable senator had better be civil to His Majesty, because he is a great fighting man.
– I am at a great distance from the German Emperor, and can afford to talk somewhat disrespectfully about him, or to talk very much more freely about him than I -could if I happened to live in Germany, Itappears that he has not granted an amnesty to certain prisoners. No doubt that is a very important fact to the prisoners, but I do not see how it affects the people of Australia. Then we have a cablegram about the death of the late Mr. Beit - I suppose one of those poor, miserable, down-trodden South African millionaires who were ruined by Kruger. It appears that this gentleman has left a fortune of between .£25,000,000 and £30,000,000. I do not know why that fact was cabled to Australia, unless it were to make us envious of the riches which, unfortunately, he could not take away, perhaps on account of the climate to which he was going.
– That statement has been already contradicted. It is said that he left £9,000,000.
– Then . we have a cablegram about a Native Rising in Natal, Musical Copyright, and Charlemagne. I do not know if many of the people of Australia know who Charlemagne was, and I suppose that a great many more do not care. Then we have a cablegram which is of a little interest - about the Education Bill and Welsh Home Rule. There is a cable about the canning of meat. It appears that Sir Thomas Lipton, that great bacon curer and tea merchant, is about to enter into the meat-canning business. Then we have cables about some fighting republics in South America, about amateur cricketers, gipsies in England, and so on, and so on. I think it must be clear to all of us that the cables that are sent out to Australia day by day are lacking in interest to the people of this Continent.
– They are not selected by a Socialist.
– They are not the kind of cables that the people of- Australia require. They are not selected by a Socialist, as Senator McGregor interjects. I suppose that the news is sent out by some gentleman who moves in select aristocratic circles in London, and Ave in Australia are. supposed to read it with awe and reverence. If .the cable service is unsatisfactory at our end, I submit that it is much more so at the other end. The people of Great Britain get very little reliable information about Australia. What they do get, if we can believe what we hear, is poisoned bv the enmity of the people who send it from this end of the cable.
– The English people get stinking meat from America, and “ stinking fish” from Australia.
– We have what is known as a “ stinking fish “ party in Australia, and the members of that party send distorted information about Australia over the cables day by day. The effect is that Australia is depreciated in the eyes of the British people, and that, instead of there being a friendly feeling existing towards us, there is an attitude of semi-hostility. In short, nothing like the truth is known about us or told about us. If Senator Smith’s proposal were adopted, and if we had a good editor at this end, we could daily send to Great Britain, Canada, and Europe, news of an important character regarding Australia. We could send news as to our industrial developments, mining, squatting, agricultural, and as to our various commercial activities. We could also keep the people in Europe well posted with regard to social and political matters. In that way we could present to them day by day a comparatively honest picture of life as it at present is in Australia.
– We might let them know that Mr. Reid is in Rockhampton.
– I think it would be a most important fact to telegraph to the other end of the world that Mr. Reid, the great anti-Socialist champion, was holding meetings in Queensland, and that large numbers of people attended those meetings, and cheered him to the echo.
– We might also tell them that some nervous people in another place wanted to object to Mr. Reid getting lea.ve of absence.
– I do .not know that I ought to refer to that subject ; but I’ can remember when just such another exhibition of bad taste - for I call it that - was made in this Chamber. If Senator Millen does not recollect it-
– I do not.
– Well, I do. In any case, I have no doubt that the people of Great Britain would be very much interested to know that St.’ George had set out to assail the dragon of Socialism in Australia, and was surrounded by great gatherings of people, who came from afar, if not to laugh with him, at least to laugh at him, in his extraordinary endeavours to slay that dreadful monster. In short, 1 believe that probably the best way to develop Australian interests would be to adopt the suggestion thrown out by Senator Smith.
– Who is to control these telegrams? Who is to be the author of them?
– That is a matter for the Government of the day. Senator Keating has pointed out that the Pacific Cable Board has raised certain objections. Of course,, every one would expect the Pacific Cable Board to object to a proposal of this kind. But we ought to remember that we are shareholders in the Pacific Cable, and that our contribution towards the loss in carrying on the business is about ^27,000 per annum. We ought to have something for our money. Senator Smith has told us that the cable is idle for about twenty hours out of every twentyfour. Ought we not to insist upon getting something for the ^27,000 that we pay? It would not add to the cost of running the business to send through a thousand, or a couple of thousand words per day.
– Would it not reduce the revenue? If messages were sent free, the same number of messages would not require to be paid for.
– The messages to be sent free would not be in connexion with business or private concerns.
– Press messages are now paid for. If they were sent for nothing they would not be paid for.
– Even if that were the case, I think that the profit to Australia would be very much more than it is at present. We should have all the advantage of the additional information with regard to the Continent of Europe being circulated in this country, and we should have the advantage of information regarding Australia being circulated in Europe and America. That information would be much fuller, much clearer, and much more honest than it is at present. Surely, that advantage would be sufficient to balance any loss of private business that might occur. Looking at the whole matter broadly, I think that the adoption of the proposal would be advantageous to Australia. It is a highly .socialistic proposal, and for that reason it commends itself to me. Then, as I pointed’ out at the beginning, it would insure messages of greater interest to the great mass of the community being - transmitted If rom our end of the cable. The information would be unbiased from both ends, and that is more than can be said at present.
– What guarantee’ is there that the information would be unbiased ?
– That is the danger, I think. For instance, if the Reid Government were in charge, and were sending its messages over the cable, does the honorable senator think that they would be just what he would like?
– I do not think that the person in charge should be under the control of any particular Government. With the rapid communication that exists nowadays between countries, I am of opinion that no man could continue to send unfair or untrue messages for any length of time. He would very soon be found out, and, if he did not do his duty honestly and ‘fairly, would probably be speedily dismissed.
– Dismissed by whom?
– Dismissed by his employers - the Government. We have no guarantee now. We are absolutely in the hands of private individuals. The messages, we know, are coloured every day. How does it happen that the various Agents-General have continually to be writing to the press in London denying slanderous lies circulated about Australia by pressmen from this end of the cable? That is the case at present. I do not say that the system proposed by Senator Smith would be perfect, or that absolutely perfect results would be achieved by it, but we should have some control over the news sent over the cables from both ends. The advantages appear to me to be so abundant that the Government ought to do everything in its power to persuade the other partners to the Pacific Cable to do something on the lines suggested by Senator Smith.
– What about the privately-owned lines connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific?
– I think that arrangements might be made with them.
– We could only make arrangements to pay them. We could not get messages sent free over those lines.
– We might, in time, persuade the people of Canada that it would be verv much better for them if the telegraph lines were owned by the States rather than by private individuals, as at present.
– So long as they get their present payment for each telegram” they will not see matters in that light.
– There are obstacles in the way which would have to be overcome, but I have not the slightest doubt that they could be overcome. In any case, the better knowledge that would be obtained by different peoples of each Other by this means would be productive of general good, not only to the people of Australia, but also to Europe and America. For that reason, .1 think that we ought to do everything in our power to help forward the object of. the motion.
– The last speaker has expressed the confident opinion that the important and practical difficulties pointed out by Senator Keating could be overcome if those upon whom the obligation rests addressed themselves to the task. I am forced to an entirely different conclusion. It seems to me that the statement of the Minister, pointing out the actual facts of the case, leaves very little room _ for hope that a practical working scheme can be devised by which we can give effect to this motion. But I am not going to point to those difficulties again.’ The Minister dealt with them very ‘fully and very lucidly. But I do wish to affirm this - that even if we could overcome those commercial and practical difficulties, we should only be face to face with what, after all, would be our grave danger and our great difficulty, and that is as to the messages to be sent, and the control over them. I have always held, and I do not think that there is any one in this Chamber who will dispute the opinion - that one of the greatest privileges enjoyed by a free people is the possession of an absolutely free press. We have only to contrast our press with the official organs to be found in most of the continental capitals of Europe; to see that the advantage we have is no visionary one. What will happen if we start with official cablegrams ?
– Our official organ, the Government Gazette, is not biased.
– I am reminded that we have one official journal ; and I am not aware that there is any wild rush on the part of the public to secure copies. But let it be decided that we are to have official cable messages; and some one will have to be appointed by the Government, I presume, to collect and send them.b I cannot conceive of honorable senators sitting quietly in their places if the messages happened to come in conflict with their political views. That is the first danger I see. The cable messages received consist, not only of a recital of facts, but very often of expressions of opinion ; and it is most desirable to know, in regard to a public matter, what is the public sentim’ent. Some event, for instance, happens in Australia, and the chronicler or reporter, whose duty it is to record it, is frequently also called upon to suite what is the public view- in the locality. Supposing that an official sent to England a report of some fact, and also stated that the public opinion in Melbourne or Sydney was so and so; I venture to. say there would be two opinions in this Chamber - probably more, but certainly two- as to whether he had accurately represented the public view.
– If a reporter did not send all details, that might alter the whole complexion of the message.
– Exactly. Senator Findley supports my contention that there would be great difficulty in employing any one to send messages under official control, without there always being a suspicion of colour or bias. As Senator Trenwith interjected, it is quite conceivable that an appointment which would commend itself to one Government might seem obnoxious to another Government. I hardly think, for instance, that if the members of the Labour Part)’, as members of a Government, had to make an appointment of the kind, their choice would fall on the sarnie gentleman that I should select. We see at once the difficulties which would present themselves when we started to depart from the golden rule of an absolutely free press. Senator Stewart has referred to misrepresentations which frequently take place in the private cable messages now sent, and to the fact that the Agents-General have frequently been called upon to correct those misrepresentations. Let me remind honorable senators that not long since it became the duty of the Government of New South Wales to restrain its Agent-General from presenting too florid a view of conditions in that State. Mr. Coghlan, undoubtedly with the best of intentions, allowed his zeal to outrun his discretion, and made such representations in the public prints regarding certain matters in New South Wales, particularlyrelating, to land settlement, that the Government were called upon to intimate to him that’ they did not desire him to go to such advertising lengths as he appeared inclined to go. There is a danger illustrated in a very simple way. I feel that if we had State cable messages sent by an official under the control of the Government, there would always be a tendency to, and ground for, very strong suspicion that they were largely coloured, not by the political views of the individual sending them, but by the. views of the Government to whom he was responsible.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia [4.5]- - The Honorary Minister has referred to difficulties connected with the private ownership of the cable between Great Britain and Canada. I remind the honorable gentleman, however, that that matter does not come within the scope of my proposal, which is that those portions of the Empire, already linked by cable, should be able to communicate with each other on matters of national, commercial, and industrial importance. The honorable gentleman also pointed out that great difficulty would arise in sending messages over the privately-owned land telegraph lines of Canada; and I do not attempt to deny the fact. I believe, however, that the difficulty would not be insuperable, in view of the fact that the cost of press messages is very small. What would be the cost, for instance, of sending 2,000 words across Canada? Without possessing exact knowledge, I venture to think that the cost would be no larger than that of sending a similar message across. Australia.
– It would be much larger; private messages in Canada are charged double the rates that prevail in Australia.
– Private telegraph companies always make the press rates as low as possible, because they do not desire, as private monopolies,, to lose the support of the press.
– As a general rule press, messages are charged much lower rates than are private messages.
– The cost of sending messages over the land lines, if borne by the Government of Canada, would be very small. Canada has adopted a very different outside policy from that of Australia. The Dominion pushes trade in every quarter, and, unlike Australia, appoints commercial agents in various parts of the Empire. Therefore, there is ground for belief that the Canadian Government would be willing to pay the cost of sending the messages over the land lines, if these messages were free from Vancouver to New Zealand and Australia. However, that is a matter which requires consideration, and in regard to it I am not able to express more than an opinion. As to the nature of the information to be sent, I think Senator Millen has mentioned an undoubted difficul tv - namely, the difficulty in creating some body which, in the first place, would be absolutely unbiased, and, in the second place, would be possessed of sufficient knowledge to supply national information of real importance to the various portions; of the Empire. But I do not think the formation of such a body presents an insurmountable obstacle. At the present time, the press supplies special cable messages- relating to political, commercial, industrial, and sporting matters. These messages are sent out every day, and are distributed lo press organs of diametrically opposite views. Yet I have not heard any complaint that the cable news is biased.
– There hare been frequent complaints as lo cable news.
– I read the files of the English newspapers, and I think that usually the information cabled out is fairly good. If private individuals, who are paid salaries by newspapers, can collect and send out information without laying themselves open to any serious charge of l>ias, surely it is not impossible for the Government to do likewise in connexion with official bodies. The Agents-General in London have their offices, I believe, close together, and they could send out information regarding trade and commerce day by day. Of cour.se, on some days it might be necessary to send only a few hundred words, whereas on other days thousands of words might be of advantage. That suggestion could be carried out only when the Government line was extended from the Pacific to Great Britain ; but with regard to New Zealand, the Government have already considered the question of appointing commercial agents, and these gentlemen could cable useful information. As to political news, no question could be raised in regard to matters of fact, and as to matters of opinion, any difficulty could be overcome in exactly the same way as by the press of Australia.
– There is often a very strong difference of opinion as to the presentation of matters of fact.
– For instance, is a meeting large or small, successful or not successful ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Those difficulties are overcome daily by private individuals. The men who send the information to the press may personally be conservatives or liberals, free-traders or protectionists, but it appears lo me that the messages they send are usually unbiased.
– The honorable senator means that the newspapers supply the bias when the messages arrive?
– So far as cable news is concerned, I do not think that it is biased, but that it is generally a correct representation, in very limited language, of’ events in various parts of the world. Our trade with Canada, is exceedingly small. Last year our imports from the Dominion were represented by £231.000, and our exports to Canada reached the wretched value of only £43,000. Canada is as large as’ Australia, and is situated in another hemisphere, with seasons differing from ours ; and there ought to be an immensely larger trade. One reason for the small trade is, I believe, the absence of information likely to stimulate inquiry ; and if there were a free press service on matters of general importance, and a Commonwealth Commercial Agent in Canada, the trade would, in my opinion, be increased fourfold. The general tendency of nations to-day - especially progressive nations like Germany - is to use every possible agency in finding markets. Some of the Australian States have been taking steps in that direction recently in connexion with Oriental countries, but there has been no general effort to find markets for surplus products and manufactures.
– The Commonwealth would not allow surplus manufactures to be sent here.
– We have a protective Tariff.
– And an Anti-Trust Bill.
– Only less important than creating and developing industries is the finding of suitable markets; and I believe that free press messages would greatly increase knowledge and stimulate community of interest with most beneficial results commercially. I hope this matter will not be allowed to drop, but will be brought up either bv Australia or Canada at the Imperial Conference; in any case, I intend to give a reminder to Sir Sandford Fleming. I hope the Commonwealth Government will not take up the attitude that the question is settled, and no further inquiry need be made, but, on the other hand, will see whether the difficulties which have been foreshadowed cannot be overcome. In conformity with the suggestion of Senator Keating, I now ask permission to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
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.
Debate resumed from 18th July (vide page 1393), on motion by Senator Keating -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.15] - In moving the second reading of thi s Bill, the Honorary Minister, Senator Keating, said that it is very complicated and intricate. I do not think that that was an exaggeration in describing the nature of the Bill. It was certainly no exaggeration in that it sufficiently described a measure which requires in its preparation care and experience, and in its consideration at the hands of honorable senators, patience and judgment. I think we may all feel that it is a merit of this Parliament, as it is of most English Parliaments, that measures of this description - and, indeed, all measures of important public concern - are proceeded with with a great deal of care and patience, and that as a general rule very few are passed as the result of mere impulse. Very often, . where that does happen, as no doubt it sometimes does, the result is unsatisfactory, and we find undone in one session what was done in another We have in this particular Bill an example and a warning. It is barelv four years since a Bill for exactly the same purpose, so I understand, was placed on the statute-book as one of the machinery Bills required to be passed for the purpose of enabling the Commonwealth engine to work satisfactorily and promptly. If there are defects in that measure I dare say that some, if not all, are due to the fact that most of us treated it as largely a machinerv Bill, and relied largely upon the care which we supposed had been devoted’ to its preparation by the Parliamentary Draftsman, and to the care and consideration, which we assumed had been given to the scheme embodied in it by the Government of the day. This particular Bill. Senator Keating says, is in substitution of that measure of 1901, on two grounds - one, that the drafting of the earlier measure was not so up-to-date that the ordinary reader couldeasily understand its provisions ; and, secondly, that it had been found that in operation it inflicted many hardships. I really have some difficulty in understanding why this Bill has been introduced. I am not complaining of its introduction. If it is necessary that a Bill passed even last session should be revised from top to bottom in this session, whilst that may not be exactly reasonable or a precedent that should be encouraged, it is right that it should be done in order that the statute-book may be purged of defects, inaccuracies, and inconvenient enactments inadvertently made. But the mere inartistic drafting of a Bill in one session would scarcely justify the introduction in the next session of a long measure of similar purport and enacting a similar scheme. If t’here were hardships inflicted under the original measure, they should be redressed, but Senator Keating did not refer us to any of the hardships that he might have had in mind as inflicted upon the citizens of the Commonwealth under the existing measure. There may be such, but the honorable and learned senator did notpoint them out in moving the second reading of this Bill. It may be that when we get into Committee some of them will be brought under our notice. It is, however, remarkable, that, so far as the Senate is concerned, no particular instances of hardship arising under the existing measure, and towards which any new provisions of this Bill are directed have been brought before us. It is therefore difficult to understand for what particular reason this Bill has been introduced. I have a sort of feeling that there is some purpose, which at the moment mav not be very apparent, in some of the provisions of this Bill, which is the moving reason for its introduction. So far as hardships are concerned, there are two things observable aboutthis Bill. In the first place, I am afraid I must say that the marginal notes exhibit a considerable degree of carelessness in their insertion. A large number of them do not accurately describe the provisions of the Bill from which they purport to be taken. I propose to mention a few, not in any spirit of mere criticism, but because, relying upon the information that we receive, we are in the habit of asking that marginal references shall be placed’ in Bills in order to facilitate their considera- tion. It is extremely important that this should be done, but it ig of still greater importance that ‘the marginal references when they are supplied shall be accurate. I particularly desire to direct the attention of Senator Keating and other honorable senators to a few of the marginal references in this Bill, in order that in future greater care may be taken to see that such notes are accurate and not misleading. I refer honorable senators first of all 10 clause 5 - the definition clause. The marginal note to that clause is “Of . 1, No. 13, 1901, s. 2.” That is to say, “ Compare section 2 of the Act of 1 90 1.” That does not assume that every one of the definitions in this clause are the same as those in section 2 of the Act of 1:901. The greater number of these definitions are new. The definition of “owner” and of “land” are altogether new, and the definition of “land”’ extends beyond and emphasizes, what honorable senators will see, when I come to refer to one or two of the other clauses, is at least a very important portion of this measure. Clause 6 is said to be identical with section 5 of the Act of .1901. That is misleading, because it is very greatly different from that section. Clause 8 is said to be identical with section 4 of the Act of 1901, but it is different.
There is a considerable alteration there from the wording of the provision in the existing Act.
Of course, that means at the moment when the power has got to be exercised.
Provided that no stone or slate quarry, brickfield, or other like place which, at the commencement of this Act, is commonly worked or used for getting materials therefrom for the purpose of selling or disposing of the same, shall be taken or used by the Minister for any purposes lastly hereinbefore mentioned.
That is not a very adequate provision. It is new, and it departs from existing provisions of this description. The existing provisions require that the occupier shall be paid the value of any crop or dressing that may then be on the land. That is omitted in the present Bill, and it is simply provided that the Commonwealth shall pay to the owner or occupier a rent for the occupation of the land. There is another provision to which I will draw attention - that
Nothing in this section shall take away the right of any person to compensation for damage sustained by reason of the exercise of any power under this part of this Aci.
How far that is a sufficient provision for the protection of the individual owner is very obscure. I hope that in Committee we may have it elucidated. Let us look at the substance of the Bill. I quite agree, and we must all agree, with what the Minister said, that a measure of this description is essential for the good government of every State. The rights of the individual proprietor must, when necessary, be subordinated to the interests of the community as a whole. It is in order to give effect to that principle that we have Acts of this description existing, I think, in every State of Australia, and in every country where there is government upon the “British model.
Section 51 of the Constitution provides in paragraph 31 for the making of laws with respect to the acquisition of property “ on just terms ‘ ‘ - following in that respect the American Constitution - from any State or person, for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
The title of this Bill describes it as a Bill- relating to the acquisition by the Commonwealth of land required for public purposes, and for dealing with land so acquired, and for other purposes connected therewith.
Then there is a short title to which I take very grave exception. It is called “The Eminent Domain Act 1906.” .The expression “ Eminent Domain” is one which is not known to English municipal law. It is a term which is known to international public law as expressing in theoretical terms the sovereignty of an independent sovereign over his own territory in which no other sovereign has jurisdiction. The term has been applied in the United1 States to the theoretical source of the power of the Government of that country to take land for public purposes within its particular territory. The origin of its use in the United States was due to die fact that in that country there is no sovereign. The phrase was adopted to express the power of the United States, not merely to take land, but to take every kind of property, from the individual. The expression in this Bill is misleading because it is altogether inconsistent with the long title. This is not an Eminent Domain Bill, because it is confined to a certain portion of the subject-matter of that which is affected by the power that theoretically has its source in the United States in the doctrine of “ Eminent Domain.” In the next place, the use of the term is complicated here by the mixing 110 of State lands and the lands of individual owners - a condition of things that does not exist, as honorable senators are aware, in the United States. The difference between territorial ownership and jurisdiction in the United States of America and in the Commonwealth of Australia, is, that here the public lands are owned by the States, whereas in America it is otherwise. Here, by virtue of our Constitution, Ave have a new departure which does not exist in America. It is extreme v doubtful how far the term applies in Australia, and whether it does’ apply at all to lands which are owned by the States. As I have said, there is no reason why Ave should use the term “ Eminent Domain,” which even. to the initiated, who have subjected this matter to study, is new tangled; whilst by the uninitiated, to whom the short title of a Bill is of importance - the object of a short title being to guide the’ eye and1 the understanding of the casual reader - it would certainly not toe understood. It does not express even as applied in its technical meaning what this Bill is intended to carry out. There is a long title which expresses the object of the Bill, and I suggest that we should not introduce these Yankee notions into our legislation.
– If Ave have the Bill
A’e can take material off the land.
– As the honorable senator knows, earth is part of the land, but when it is severed, it ceases to be land. Under the law of Eminent Domain, the Government may take a man’s personal property - everything he possesses - if the exigencies of the State demand such a step.
– Why should not the Commonwealth have that power ? Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- I have no objection to the Commonwealth having that power. .But here Ave have a title which imports, even from, the point of view of the jurist in America, that Ave are exhaustively dealing Avith the subject of Eminent Domain, whereas, in reality, Ave are dealing only Avith the acquisition of land. The title is misleading, even to the technical lawyer, and, therefore, must be much more misleadin’g to the uninitiated. I shall. favour an amendment of the kind I have suggested when we reach the Committee stage.
– When land is taken are not ail improvements and everything on the land also taken ?
– They are part of the land ; whatever is affixed to the freehold is part of the land. But if there were 1,000 bushels of wheat in a bam, this Bill would not enable the Government to take; that wheat. Under the American law of Eminent Domain, however, the Government, in case of public necessity, could take that wheat as well as the land. The law of Eminent Domain is altogether inapplicable in Australia, where the inherent right lies in the Crown ; and the reason it was imported into the United States was, in the absence of the sovereign, to attribute the power to the sovereign people- I should also add, for the information of honorable senators, that even in America the law of Eminent Domain has only become a subject of treatises, and so forth, within the last twenty or twenty-five years. It is not an expression known in our law, and it would be better for us not to use outside terms unless for very excellent reasons. There are three aspects of the Bill which, it seems to me, require the consideration of honorable senators. First, the Bill combines the power to take land with the machinery necessary to the taking. The present Act was similarly drawn ; and it is worth discussing whether it is- desirable to continue the system. Secondly, the Bill provides for the compulsory taking of Crown lands from the States ; and. thirdly, it provides for the taking of land from private individuals. It is a pity, in my opinion, that we have not followed the example of England where there is the Land Clauses Consolidation (Act; - one of the (best [drawn Acts ever placed on any statute-book. It is confined entirely to the machinery for acquiring land. In England the power to take lands is, of course, conferred and regulated ‘by special Acts; and the great advantage of that method is that Parliament never loses control of the talking of land, or of the public purposes for which it is to be taken. Under this Bill, the power of taking land is sought to be conferred, so that unless Parliament interferes after the notification is published in the Gazette, or, if Parliament is not sitting, within fourteen days after it meets, there is no direct control by Parliament of the public purpose for which the land is to be acquired. I submit for serious consider.ation the fact that under the Bill the power of the Commonwealth to take land may be construed to confer that power on any delegated authority. In England, the power all emanates from the sovereign, as the theoretical source, and is conferred by special Acts on companies, and public -bodies ; and the same power might be conferred under this Bil] in cases where the Commonwealth Parliament deals with company law. It may be unnecessary to confer the power by any special Act, if under this Bill, when it becomes law, the authority given to the Commonwealth is construed to include an authority delegated to certain persons or bodies. It would have been very desirable if the Bill were confined entirely to machinery and made a Commonwealth Lands, Clauses Consolidation Act. The power to take land for public purposes, such as railways and so forth, would then be conferred by special Act; but the moment the special Act was passed the machinery Act would come into play. It would be much better for the Common- wealth, and the law would be much more easily understood if that plan were adopted. It would be a pity if the Bill, with all the machinery embodied, were to be construed as not applicable to delegated bodies, but confined merely to the taking of land by the Commonwealth for Commonwealth purposes. Of course, the Bill might be recast, and, in my opinion, time would be well spent with that object, so that the power to take land might be eliminated, to be specifically conferred, in every instance, by the assent of the Legislature.
– Can the honorable senator suggest any companies or bodies beyond municipalities which could or would require public land in Australia?
– There might conceivably be other companies or bodies, but, of course, fewer conceivable instances in the case of the Commonwealth than in the case of a State.
– Railways and water conservation are in the hands ofthe States.
-No all. In connexion with the River Mur- ray, for instance, an example may arise at any moment. The Commonwealth has control of the navigation of the Murray.
– The Commonwealth has only a limited control of the river.
– There is full control for all purposes of navigation.
– Except that the Commonwealth must allow a reasonable quantity of the water for irrigation.
- Senator Trenwith is substantially quoting the Constitution on the point. I do not anticipate it would, but the power v might be conferred and exercised in the way suggested by Senator McGregor; though, of course, all this is more or less speculative. I am not alluding to matters such as those dealt with under the Postal Act, the Defence Act, and so forth, in connexion with which there is, and ought to be, some general provision for the taking of lands, without the necessity for a special Act in each case. I am making these suggestions’; with no intent whatever to embarrass the Government, but merely, to show the desirability for a simplification of the measure - for making it merely a machinery Bill, leaving the taking of land to be dealt with in general Acts relating to defence or postal matters, or in special Acts relating to special purposes. _ The second aspect to which I draw attention is far more important. We in Australia are in a very different position from the people of the United States, or the people in England. The States which constitute the Commonwealth retain all their powers not expressly delegated to the Commonwealth, and to that extent are sovereign States with the entire ownership of the public lands of Australia. The Bill is a new departure not covered by any precedent or practice elsewhere, and, therefore, it behoves us, in order to keep in harmony with the States, to walk very warily indeed. Whatever justification there may be for taking drastic powers as to private land for public purposes - and private lands are protected by the Constitution, inasmuch as thev must be taken on just terms - it seems to me to be unwise and a fatal mis’ take to apply to the States the same compulsory and drastic method that is applied to the owners of private land. I shall show honorable senators how very serious this is. It strikes me that it is due to the States that provision should at least be made for the taking of Crown lands by a separate Bill. It would be only fair that they should be, I will not say consulted, but apprised of what the Commonwealth contemplates doing.
– Clearly we must take the power to acquire for public purposes the lands of either States or individuals. It is difficult to suppose a State refusing to give us land; but if we required land for defence purposes, and such an attitude were adopted by a State towards the Commonwealth, we would have to take the necessary power to acquire the land.
– Yes ; but I propose to show the honorable senator the way in which it is provided that we shall take it under this Bill. With every word that Senator Trenwith has said I thoroughly agree. In every other country enactments of this description deal only with the lands of private individuals. Australia is the first country to establish a precedent and rule of procedure in this matter, and it has occurred to me that, to prevent irritation and friction with the States, it would be well that they should be communicated with as to the best or smoothest methods by’ which the compulsory taking of land, if it should become inevitable, shall take place. ‘Being an entirely separate matter, it would be a good thing if it were dealt with in a separate Bill. There is no reason for mixing it up with this. What I plead for, as a State representative, is that, where the Crown lands of a State are required, the State should be, I will say, consulted.
– That would be dangerous.
– No, I think not. We shall have the right, but I speak merely as to the method. Whether the States are consulted or not, we should, at any rate, carry out the transaction in some more pleasant way than by merely putting a notice in our Gazette, and giving notice to the States that we are going to take a certain portion of their land.
– Is any limit put upon the area which may be taken ?
– I shall come to that presently.
– The clause would never be applied until negotiations had been resorted to.
– My honorable friend must see what a dangerous thing it is to put on the statute-book a provision which would, in its operation, be equivalent to suspending a drawn sword over the head of some person with whom we were going to negotiate.
– But we must do that; we must have the necessary power.
– We should certainly do it as nicely as possible.
– Exactly ; and I wish to show my honorable friend the way in which it is proposed to be done by this Bill. The. situation is unique. It is the Crown, represented by the Commonwealth, compulsorily taking land from the Crown, represented by the State. That is an anomalous position.
– It is due to the peculiar character of our Constitution. We form a sovereign Federation composed of sovereign States.
– Of course ; and, naturally, there must be the necessary power in the Commonwealth.
– Either the States or the Commonwealth must be subordinate.
– Of course, the public interests of the Commonwealth must be provided for effectively, but I am pointing out that there are different ways of doing it. I wish, from my place here, to make the States understand, and my own State in particular, the kind of measure which is being put upon the statute-book, under which, by means merely of a notification: in the Commonwealth Gazette, and a notice to the States that it is to be done, the Commonwealth Government can take land without consultation with a State, and irrespective of what the authorities of that State may or may not desire. Let honorable senators look at what it will involve. I ask their attention to clause 6. Of course, it may all be very proper with regard to individuals; but surely some courtesy must be shown to the sovereign States who own the lands, and have the sole power of dealing with their lands, except in so far as it may be necessary that part of them shall be taken for the public purposes of the Commonwealth. I do not think that the States are likely to approve of clause 6, which provides that -
The Governor of ,i Slate, acting with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, may (byforce of this Act, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the law of any State), sell or lease to the Commonwealth any Crown land of the State which is required for any public purpose.
The provision in the existing Act merely enables the Governor of a State to execute the grant, and that is all that is necessary. This is a new provision introduced into this Bill, which practically enables the Executive of a State to override any existing law of the State, and makes that authority responsible to the Commonwealth, instead of to its own Parliament.
– Only with regard to certain properties required by the Commonwealth.
– But my honorable friend must see that, while we should make provision for the acquisition of land that is required for the public purposes of the Commonwealth, we have no right to legislate in such a way as to say that the Governor and Executive Council of a State may do certain things, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law ‘ of the State. That takes away the responsibility of the Executive of the State to their own Parliament and laws.
– Is not every Executive responsible to its Parliament for every Executive act?
– But the Executive of a State, under this provision, would not be responsible to its Parliament. No one denies that the Commonwealth can compulsorily acquire land from a State.
– Does not this provision remove any doubt which might arise as to the power of a State Executive to transfer land to the Commonwealth ?
– No; because there can be no doubt that the Commonwealth can acquire the land. It becomes vested in ft upon the publication of the notice.
– But this is in connexion with negotiations.
– Exactly; and if it is in connexion with negotiations, and an agreement, I say that the Government and the Executive Council of a State have no right to enter into an agreement to part with land to the Commonwealth without the approval of their Parliament.
– They would not do it.
– This is to take away the necessity for that approval.
– It seems to me rather to do away with the necessity for having the approval of a State law which might possibly not be in accord with the proposal made.
– If a State Parliament, by passing an Act, expressed its disapproval of the acquisition of certain land by the Commonwealth, clause 6 would enable the Government and the Executive Council of that State to act in defiance of that Parliament.
– And then that Parliament would put the Executive out of power very quickly.
– And the Commonwealth would put them into gaol if they did.
– No ; we should have the compulsory power of acquisition
– What Senator Keating has said shows that this point has not been considered. This is in the nature of an agreement; and the Bill provides a power to enable the Executive of a State, bv force of this measure, and in defiance of any existing State Act, or State Parliament, it may be, to enter into an agreement and convey lands to the Commonwealth. I say that no Executive has the right to do that without the authority df its Parliament. It may be that the Commonwealth, if there were any trouble, should exercise these compulsory powers, but this is intended to have effect, as the Minister says, in cases of mutual agreement, and clause 6 is a declaration that by a Commonwealth Act a State Executive may give the go-by to its State Parliament.
– They would not do so unless they knew that their Parliament would approve.
– But I am pointing out that this provision is wholly unnecessary. Why should the Commonwealth Parliament empower the Executive of a State to enter into an agreement to convey State lands in defiance of a State Act of Parliament or of the State Parliament itself? What right have we to do that?
– We could not # force them to come to an agreement, anyhow
– Eit Either the provision is altogether useless, or it is merely a rock of offence to the States and the States Parliaments.
– Would the honorable and learned senator mind reading the corresponding section of the existing Act?
– Certainly ; section 5 of the existing Act is the corresponding section, and it is sensible and right. It provides that -
In the case of any Crown lands of any State purchased under this Act, the Governor of the State may grant such land, in the name of the King, to the Commonwealth.
That is to say, he may execute the conveyance. That is a perfectly proper provision, but why has it been expanded in the way it has been in this Bill? I propose to ask the Minister a question, and perhaps the honorable and learned senator will tell me now whether this Bill or any of the provisions contained in it is intended to deal with the Federal Capital Site.
– No; nob so far as I know.
– I am very glad to have that assurance.
– -The Minister says “Not so far as I know.”
– I think I am able to give honorable senators an absolute assurance to that effect.
– It would be very comforting if the honorable and learned senator could.
– Honorable senators will perhaps remember that when the existing Act was introduced it was stated that it would not be used for such a purpose, and that a special Act would be required for the acquisition of the necessary lands for the Federal Capital “Site.
– Would not this Bill cover the acquisition of the lands necessary for the Federal Capital Site?
– Probably it would.
– I am. sure the Minister will forgive me for being a little suspicious on the point. If there is one thing more than another in connexion with which the power to acquire should be dealt with by a special Act it is certainly the acquisition of the Federal Capital Site. If we are to remain an harmonious Commonwealth, it would never do to seek, insidiously, by some expressions introduced into a B il,1 such as this, the power to take that land bv riding roughshod over New South Wales. I have no sympathy with many things which have been done in connexion with this matter, but it would be intolerable to most of us that anything of that kind should be done. It is for this reason that I put the question to the Minister, and I am glad to hear that he will be able to give the Senate an assurance upon the point.
– When I say “ so far as I know,” it is because it is only within the last two minutes, when Senator Dobson mentioned the matter to me, that I have heard such a thing suggested.
– I am merely repeating what was talked about out of doors when I say that it was stated that the present Attorney-General, in reference to this matter, said last year that he would have an easy way of overcoming any difficulty on the score of acquiring the land. I certainly entertained a. fear lest, in the expanded phraseology of this Bill, it might be intended to cover anything of that kind. I hope we shall have a positive assurance to the contrary from the Government. In any case, the matter could easily be put beyond doubt by the insertion of two or three words in the Bill. That was ‘one of the first clauses which attracted my attention in that regard, because it says, “ Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the law of any State.” In Part II., there are only two provisions to .which I wish to call attention. Clause 16 provides what does not appear to me to be a very nice method of compulsorily taking lands from a State. It says -
It will be borne in mind by honorable senators that the word “owner” includes a State-
It will be seen first of all that even the Parliament has no control over that public purpose. It is determined, in the first instance by the Governor-General, that is to say, the Executive. He determines that the notification shall be published, and then he determines that the land by that notification has been acquired under this Act for the public purpose therein mentioned. Do honorable senators think that the States would like so summary and drastic a method of taking away their public lands., to be brought into operation’ If is true that under sub-clause 3, the notification has to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament - within fourteen days after its publication in the Gazette, if the Parliament is then sitting, and if not, then with fourteen days after the next ‘ meeting of the Parliament.
We all know how unsatisfactory it is to have that method of obtaining parliamentary control. It brings about that state of things in which everybody’s business is nobody’s business. In important matters of this kind, there is nothing so desirable as a direct application to Parliament for its sanction. I think that before the Crown lands of a State are taken for any public purpose, the direct sanction of the Parliament should first be obtained.
– See how difficult if would be if we wanted the land hurriedly for defence purposes.
– The Commonwealth would not want the land so* hurriedly as the honorable senator suggests.
– That just occurred’ to me.
– How could we ? “ For defence purposes “ means,, an area for drill or barracks, or a fort.
– Or for a camp.
– A camp would not be permanent; it is not likely that the Commonwealth would require abig area for that purpose. I merely ask each honorable senator whether he thinks that his State would like this particular method to be applied. In America thereis a proceeding that takes place, and’ certainly it might be applied to State lands.. Whether it ought to be applied to individuals or not, I do not know. The proceeding is that an application is made uponpetition to have what is called an order of condemnation, that is an order declaring that the land is wanted for a public purpose, and that it ought to be withdrawn-‘ for that purpose, and then there is an opportunity for the State to be heard uponapplication before a Court, showing that that area was subject already ‘ to public interests or public requirements, and that there was other land’ adjoining, or somewhere else convenient which . might be adapted to the requirements of the Federation. It is only proper that there should be an opportunity afforded to two sovereign bodies - each sovereign within its own sphere - to discuss and, settle a matter of that kind. If they could’ not settle it between themselves, then some body, as in America, might be called upon to intervene, and judicially determine the point at issue. I do not pretend to have thought out carefully the proper course which might be adopted. But whatever method is adopted, certainly it is not very courteous to the States that this method should be embodied in our legislation, intimating to them that at any moment the Governor-General can notify in the Gazette that a certain area of land, without limitation, may be taken for some particular public purpose, that by means of that notification it will be taken, and that the State will be merely in the position of a claimant for compensation. If we refer to clause 17, what is the result ?
Upon the publication of the notification in theGazette, the land described therein shall, by force of this Act -
The State cannot say aye or no, because no opportunity is afforded.
– The State certainly will have an opportunity.
– There may or may not be negotiation.
– Oh, there will be.
– We are framing an Act of Parliament, and I ask my honorable friend whether it is desirble or prudent to enact a provision of that character in regard to the Crown land of a State without endeavouring to mitigate it, or, to use his own expression!, make it nicer than it appears to be. But, taking the next sub-clause, what is to happen? -
– That follows as a matter of course.
– In Adelaide we have some park lands dedicated to the public use. Is the Commonwealth to have the right compulsorily to take a portion of the park lands and to cancel the dedication?
– I should say so.
– Solong as I represent South Australia I shall resist any act of the kind. The power ought not to be taken in this shape - that upon the publication of the notification in the
Gazette, if a hasty Minister on ‘one side and a hasty Minister on the other were to fall out in a negotiation, the Commonwealth Minister could ride the high horse, and say, “I am going to take that land,” when an area of our park lands, with the dedi-. cation of them, would be swept away.
– The honorable senator is supposing a highly improbable contingency, but it is a right which should be exercised if the public interest so required.
– The people of Adelaide are so sensitive on this subject that they would resent the appearance in a Commonwealth Act of a power which would enable that to be done.
– It must be there.
– Can; Senator Trenwith suggest any objection to the course which Senator Symon is advocating, and which would lead to the same point? In other words, is there any objection to doing the thing in a nicer way?
– No. I agree with Senator Symon that the Commonwealth must have this power, but it must be exercised as agreeably as possible.
– Certainly. If I were a State Minister, I should resent most strongly and constantly a Commonwealth Act being passed in this particular shape, so that, without a hearing, if they chose, the Commonwealth could take State lands and sweep into oblivion dedications to which they had been subject. But that is not all.
– We might want land upon which to erect a fort.
– We might soften the provision. Everyone knows that the land will not be acquired by the mere notice in the Gazette.
– The Minister of Defence has remarked that land might be wanted for the erection of a fort; but the vice of the Bill is that the Commonwealth might take the land for any purpose. I have no objection if, in the Defence Act, the Minister has power to take lands and cancel dedications, if necessary.
– I do not think that I have.
– If the Act does not contain a power of that kind, it ought to do so. If, however, it does contain such a power, and it is limited in thai! way, and exercised fairly, the States must submit. I mean that on a critical occasion it might become necessary to take even a part of our park lands for the purpose of a fortification.
– -Highly improbable.
– I hope not. But if that is so, it emphasizes the desirability of taking the power in a Defence Bill, if) you like. In this Bill, we ought not to take the power to the Commonwealth to take lands for any purpose, and, ¥ or whatever purpose it may be, to absolutely cancel - any dedication or reservation to which the land was subject at the date of the publication of the notification.
– If public covenience required’ it.
– Not generally. Why should the liability be taken to exist in relation to a post-office? We might have an honorable senator saying that it would be desirable to have a post-office in the middle of our park lands in Adelaide - I admit that it is not likely - and there might be pressure brought to bear. Why should that be done? In clause 28, there is an expression which made me very suspicious as to whether it was not likely to be applied to the taking of the Capital Site. It says -
Where any Crown land of a State is acquired by a compulsory process, the State shall, subject to the Constitution, be entitled to compensation under this Act.
So far as I am aware, the Constitution excludes nothing from compensation except Crown land for the Capital Site. It looked as if the. land were to be taken, but, of course, the Constitution provides that no money shall be paid for Crown land. However/ 1 hope that that will be put right. The third sub-clause is the one to which I invite attention -
The State shall not be entitled to compensation in respect of the loss of any rights of dominion, taxation, or revenue, or in respect of the severance of the land acquired from any other land of the State, or in respect of any injury to any other land of the State.
That is quite different from the law in the United States, where, of course, so far as lands are taken - not lands that are ceded, but lands that are compulsorily acquired - the jurisdiction and law of the State prevails just as much as it does in regard to other private land’s therein. In this sub-clause it is assumed that the rights ‘df dominion taxation, or revenue, are to be taken away. If that is ,so, surely there ought to be some compensation to the State in that respect. We do not know what the area is. Why should the State be excluded from compensation ? And, again, why should it be deprived of the right which an individual has to damage in respect of severance? Surely, the State, as well as an individual, ought to be entitled to compensation in respect of these things ?. They are matters that can be estimated, and it is only just that the State should be paid. But the main point in this connexion is that the Bill seems impliedly to say - and, whether it is right or not. it is a matter ‘ that requires very careful discussion, and may involve difference of opinion - that the rights of dominion of the States, and their rights of taxation, are to be taken away the moment the area of land is made Commonwealth property. I think that ought not to be. I hold a very strong opinion with regard to the income tax - that there ought to be no Federal immunity from the payment of it ; and, unless there is some very cogent and strong reason, to the contrary, I hold that the States ought not to be deprived of their revenueearning rights, or of their control, so far as their’ local laws are concerned, in respect of lands, even when they pass into the hands of the Commonwealth.
– Except in the case of the Federal Capital.
– No doubt. That is specially provided for in the Constitution. Of course, it may be, when the matter comes to be argued and decided before the tribunal which takes cognizance of these matters, that this extraordinary sort of condominium, or Imperium “in imperio, may exist, and that, if the offence is committed upon Commonwealth property - say in the rooms of a post-office - it will not be cognisable by the State law. Although a position of’ that kind is possible, we ought not to countenance the idea that a local law should’ not run throughout the territory of a State quite irrespective of the ownership of a particular piece of land, or particular premises.
– How would thehonorable senator’s argument apply in casethe Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory ?
– It would not apply in, that case. The Northern Territory would then become a Territory of the Commonwealth, to which spe- cial laws would, of course, be applicable. It would be Territory of the Commonwealth until it was created an additional State. I am very glad that my honorable friend made that interjection. I hope that some method will be devised before very long by which the Federal Parliament may exercise control over that very valuable part of Australia. So far as regards the last aspect of the question, in relation to individuals, honorable senators may well take exception to the very drastic manner in which private land is proposed to be taken Under the Lands Clauses Acts, the procedure was commenced in a much nicer way than is here proposed. The owner of the land was served with a notice to treat. He then sent in particulars of his claim, stating what he estimated his property to be worth. Then came am offer from the promoter, who might be a Minister of the Crown, or might be a company undertaking the construction of a railway, or whatever the work . might bc. Then came an offer to the owner of the property. That offer was either accepted or declined. If it were declined, the claimant had to take proceedings to get his compensation assessed. Modern developments of the law in that respect were conceived in the best possible spirit. I quite agree with what the Minister said with regard to arbitrations. The arbitrations which used to take place were simply the arbitrations of par.tizans, and they led on very many occasions, in my judgment, to absolute unfairness. It was for that reason that, in South Australia, and in some other States also, I believe, provision was made that these claims for compensation should be settled by a Judge, or by a Judge and jury, if the Judge so decided ; but it was left for him to say whether he would invoke the assistance of a jury or settle the claims himself. I am bound to say that the settlements of claims for compensation in cases of this kind which have taken place under the new procedure have, generally speaking, given satisfaction. Therefore, I think that the old method night very well have been followed in this Bill. By that method, there was an element of fairness in the adjustment between the two parties, before there was an absolute compulsory taking of the property. The method of this Bill is certainly short, sharp, and decisive. The notification goes into the Gazette, and the land is then taken and is vested in the Commonwealth.
– It would only happen in that way in the case of some terrible emergency, and surely it is as well to have the power for use in an emergency.
– Whyshould it not be done in the old way? 1 do not like this high-handed way of dealing. Why should there not be an element of conciliation as between the Commonwealth and a citizen, or between the Commonwealth and a State? I have thought it necessary to direct attention to these points. The main point, to my mind is, that we ought, if possible, to have a Bill dealing with what is a requirement under our Constitution, the compulsory taking of land from the States or from an individual, and we ought if possible, in doing that, to conciliate the States - to meet their prejudices if honorable senators like. It is very advisable that that should be clone. Certainly some of the provisions to which I have called attention require softening - very great softening - in order that every source of possible irritation may be removed, and that the States may not look- w:ion the Commonwealth when it is undertaking such a thing as this, as holding a pistol at their heads. I shall, on these lines, assist my honorable friend the Minister in charge of the Bill, as much as I can in dealing with the details when we get into Committee; but I would ask him, in the meantime, to consider the matters to which I have directed attention, in order that if possible, that consideration mav lead “to some useful recasting of the Bill, which will not destroy or weaken in any way its efficiency, but may make it more palatable to those who are immediately concerned.
– After the interesting and informative speech to which we have just listened, I do not propose to detain the Senate very long ; but there are one or two matters that were not touched upon by Senator Symon, to which I desire to direct the attention of the Minister and of the Senate. I should like, before doing so, to emphasize particularly one point which Senator Symon raised, and as to which the evidence presented by the Bill shows a strong desire - I presume on the part of the Department, rather than of the Minister - to secure more autocratic powers as against private owners. Whatever mav be said on behalf of those who framed this Bill, there is manifest a desire in many ways - little ways, I admit, though taken together they represent a clear indication - on the part of those who control the matters touched by the Bill, to secure larger and more autocratic powers, as against private individuals. I do not propose to enumerate those particulars. Senator Symon referred to some of them, but he did not exhaust the list; and in Committee, I shall take the opportunity to point out various clauses in which these enlarged powers are sought to be obtained. One other matter to which the previous speaker referred, was the many instances in which this Parliament has had to amend Bills passed in previous sessions. It may interest honorable senators to know that, whilst the Federation is only six years old, and whilst many of the Bills which we have passed were of a machinery character - which I should have thought ought not so soon to have required revision - we have already had to direct our attention to twelve amending Bills. This one will make the thirteenth. There is something ominous in that number ! Senator Symon has referred to this point somewhat in a tone of rebuke. I am not addressing my remarks particular »- to the Minister, because the Senate itself must take its share of responsibility for the necessity for the introduction “of amending legislation, which is due to faulty work. I rather - think, if I may say so, that the tendency is. very often to view a measure from the point of view of the side of the Senate from which it emanates. That remark -applies to both sides. I should also like to say to the Minister, if I can do so without offence, that there is likewise a tendency or. the part of all Ministers to resent suggestions for the alteration of their Bills. Thev have, perhaps, had to do with shaping them in the form in which thev appp.tr before us, and think that they should be passed as a complete whole. They view with suspicion and resentment any proposal for the alteration of their measures; but I think that it is incumbent upon honorable senators to criticise Bills with a view to improve them, and the Minister should he willing to receive an- suggestions made for that purpose. I hope that in connexion with a Bill of this kind any suggestions that are made will be received 1,v the Minister- irrespective of the side from which they come - not as attempts to harass him in any way. but as indicating a desire to make what is really a machinery Bill a perfect measure, which will not require alteration again within SC short a time. I now wish to direct attention -to the definition clause of this Bill. When the Minister was speaking I pointed out by interjection that a material alteration has been made in the definition of Crown lands. Instead of Crown land being defined as - “the property of the Crown, whether dedicated to any public purpose or not, which has not been granted or contracted to be granted for an estate in fee simple,” this Bill leaves out the words - which has not been granted or contracted to be granted for an estate in fee simple.
The significance of that alteration will be seen when I remind honorable senators that in most of the States there are in the land laws provisions whereby an alienation may, be preceded by a conditonal lease. I know that that system prevails in New South Wales, and I think that a parallel provision is to be found in the Lands Acts of some of the other States. In New South Wales we have our conditional purchase system, and our conditional lease system. A man who obtains land on the conditional-purchase system pays a small deposit and a series of subsequent annual payments until the land becomes freehold ; and- it never becomes freehold until he has paid up the last shilling to the State. A man who obtains land on a conditional lease obtains it for a certain period, but he has the right to pay for the price of the land in order to convert it into freehold. Under the law as it stands in New South Wales that land is regarded as belonging to the man in occupation of it; but under the Bill which is now presented to us it is to be regarded as Crown land. I asked the Minister yesterday for a reason for the alteration ; and, if I understood his reply aright, it was that it had been deemed desirable by the framers of this measure that the Commonwealth, in resuming land, should deal only with the State Government, leaving the selector to look to the State Government for his share of the compensation. That, I think, is hardly desirable or equitable. In the case of a conditional lessee, whose land was resumed, the Commonwealth would ignore the lessee altogether; and the State Government, having nr great or direct interest, would probably not present as insistently or successfully as the lessee, the factors which determine the value of land. But even supposing the State Government did press the matter, and agreed that the
Commonwealth should take over the land at the market value of, say, 15s. per acre, the owner of the land might feel absolutely confident that he could have made a better bargain privately. But the State would reply that only 15s. per acre had been received, and that that was all the compensation that could be paid. It would be far better for the Commonwealth to deal directly with the man, who, although not strictly the legal owner of the land, is, to all intents and purposes, the owner, and is so recognised under the Act we passed five years ago. I ask the Minister to seriously consider the advisability of retaining the principle which obtains in the existing law. It is rather significant that, although Senator Keating explained that it is desirable for the Commonwealt h to treat with only one party, that principle is not adhered to in dealings with private lessees. In the case of the latter what 1 am advocating is done, clause 17 providing that, as between lessor and lessee, the apportionment of the rent shall be adjusted mutually by the three parties - showing that the Commonwealth takes an interest in those subsequent proceedings - and that, if a settlement is not thus arrived at, a reference shall be made to the ordinary machinery of the Court. That is only right and proper.
– The exception in the original definition of “Crown land” applies to persons in contract for the purchase.
– Those are the very persons of whom I am speaking.
– Would they not come in as lessees ?
– I would further point out that there is a clause dealing with tenants other than tenants at will; and in both cases it is provided that the Commonwealth shall deal with two parties, so that the explanation of the Minister seems to lose its force. If it is desirable in the case of an ordinary lessee to deal with both the lessee and the lessor, surely a Crown lessee may reasonably hope to be consulted.
– Why should a Crown lessee not be held responsible to the authorities with” whom he has made his earlier arrangement?
– That is exactly what the Minister says should be done.
– And it should.
– If so, should not the same principle apply to the lessee of a private person?
– It will apply.
– No, as the Minister will see if he turns to clause 31. If the Commonwealth resumes a portion of Crownland, of which an individual has a lease, surely the lessee has a right to compensation for the lease which is taken away from him.
– That is a question between the State and the lessee Of the State’s property.
– It is a. question between the owner of the fee-simple and the tenant.
– But that is exactly what the Bill does not do in certain cases. That principle is followed in the case of a Crown lessee, but not in the case of a private lessee. If Senator Henderson’s interjection has any force, the private lessee ought to be left to deal with his landlord, in the same way as a Crown lessee is left to deal with the State.
– My interjection was in reference to Crown lessees.
– If the interjection has any force, the same principle ought to apply to the lessee of private lands, who should be told to apply to the private landlord for his share of the compensation.
– Clause 31 only compels the production of the lease.
– Clause 31 provides -
If any person having a greater interest than as a tenant at will of any land acquired by compulsory process, makes a claim for compensation in respect of any unexpired term or interest under any lease, the Attorney-General may, by demand in writing, require him to produce the lease in respect of which the claim is made, or the best evidence thereof inh is power.
This clause clearly and rightly shows the intention of the Government to compensate any man whose interests may have been disturbed, minimized, or destroyed by the resumption of land. It is very common for a person to take a lease of land for business purposes ; and it might happen that as soon as such a person had entered into possession, and spent money in fittings, advertising, and incurred other dead expenditure necessary at the initiation of every enterprise, his land was resumed by the Commonwealth. In such cases, in addition to compensation paid for the land and buildings, there ought, as was clearly intended, to be compensation to the tenant for his displacement.
– Would the State barefacedly rob a man of his interests?
– What has that to do with the case?
– The honorable senator is practically making an accusation against the State.
– I have no patience with interjections of that kind ; I have made accusations against no one.
– The inference is clear enough.
– The inference mav be clear enough to Senator Henderson, but I leave it to other honorable senators, who. I think, will find it sufficiently obscure. If the contention of Senator Henderson is sound with reference to one class of lessees then it ought to be sound in regard to the other class. If one method is better than the other, which is the better one? I am not saving that any State is likely to do harm ; but I do say that there is a possibility of great danger to a lessee of a State, or to any individual who is debarred from urging his own claim. Would Senator Henderson, under the circumstances, not rather represent his own claim than have it represented by the State?
– I would rather have it represented by myself.
– Ali I ask is that the rights extended to the private tenant, shall be extended to the Crown tenant.
– I do not think the positions are at all parallel.
– A similar question arises in connexion with mortgagee anc! mortgagor. In regard to these, the Commonwealth is prepared to meet both, and endeavour to arrive at an adjustment; and that is a very fair proceeding. I only ask that the same principles shall apply to conditional purchasers, lessees, or tenants of the Crown. To leave a tenant’s case to be represented by, probably, a State official is to deny the tenant the right of showing to what extent he is damaged by the resumption. I shall await with interest the Committee stage, when I trust the Minister will he able to give some better explanation than he offered yesterday, or be prepared to accept an amendment which will bring the provision relating to Crown lessees into conformity with the existing law, or with the clauses which deal with private lessees and mortgagees and mortgagors. Knowing the many complications in tenure under the land laws in New South Wales - complications which are largely duplicated else where - I am certain there will be much trouble, litigation, and heart-burnings if operations under the Bill become numerous, and the States Governments are permitted to negotiate the amount of compensation to be paid to a third party not interested in any way. “Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) [6.12]. - No doubt” the provisions of this Bill can more effectively be dealt with in Committee, but I should like to call attention to the necessity for more ample means than exist at present for dealing with Commonwealth property. Whether this Bill, presents an opportunity for such legislation I do not know ; but by the Constitution itself all the various properties associated with the transferred Departments passed over ipso facto. No doubt a great deal of property hao since been acquired by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the Postal Department and the Defence Department, and I do not know that there is power to deal with that property in any way except by sale; indeed, I am not sure even as to the power tol sell. In the Act which this Bill repeals power is conferred on the Minister to dispose of property in excess of requirements, and it seems to me that there should be the power of exchange. A post-office, for instance, may not be in a very convenient situation, and, instead of requiring the process of selling, and acquiring another site, the Minister should be able to exchange without any money transaction.
– I think there is that power in the Act.
– Then the Bill provides that the Supreme Court shall determine disputes. That appears to me a very expensive and cumbersome method of settling what may be only small cases.
– It is a more satisfactory method than arbitration.
– And cheaper.
– The Bill provides that in cases involving under ^500 reference may be made to the local Court.
– In connexion with the acquisition of small areas of land required for railway and road purposes, there is often a determined disposition shown on the part of the owners to bleed the Government in every way, and in Tasmania a very advantageous method of dealing with such cases has been adopted by the appointment of a single arbitrator. As a rule, arbitration cases are settled by an umpire and two arbitrators. The person desiring to acquire the property and the owner of it will not agree as to terras, and they appoint a single arbitrator or umpire, who finally decides the terms. We found the appointment of a single arbitrator in such cases to be a cheap, effective, and expeditious way of determining disputes as to the value of land required for public purposes. There will no doubt be cases in which it will be necessary that the Commonwealth should acquire a small area of land in a country town, on which to erect a post-office, or for some similar publice purpose, and it seems to me that by confining the determination in such cases to the Courts, we shall be compelling people to resort to a most expensive means for the settlement of comparatively trivial disputes. With regard to the very effective remarks made by Senator Symon as to the friction which might arise between the States and the Commonwealth, I must say that I have a, very great deal of sympathy with what the honorable and learned senator said upon the subject. If we go, so to speak, sword in hand, to a State and’ demand land in that way, especially at a time when there may be some friction existing between that State and the Commonwealth Government, we shall be likely to create unnecessary trouble.
– It is not proposed that we should go sword in hand to the States any more than to private individuals.
– Senator Symon was advocating the adoption of some more courteous method of approaching a State than that provided for dealing with private individuals. I think that it should go without saying that such a course should be adopted But there can be no doubt that the Commonwealth must possess arbitrary powers in this matter in dealing with a State Government, as well as with an individual.
– It is only a question of the method, and in dealing with a State I think we should adopt the suaviter in tnodo.
– The suggestion is that we should approach one sword in hand, and the other with the sword behind our backs.
– No, the sword in the scabbard.
– I think that any further observations I have to make can be best submitted in Committee. I shall support the second reading of the Bill.
– I am very glad to have had an opportunity to listen to the criticisms levelled against this Bill. I feel certain that honora’ble senators who have addressed themselves to it have given a great deal of consideration to its various clauses, and have looked very closely into the alterations which it: purports to effect in the existing law. I should like, before the debate closes, to say a few words in reply to some of the criticism that has been offered. At this hour I shall not delay the Senate at any great length. The first criticism indulged in by Senator Symon was that the marginal notes attached to the clauses of this Bill are calculated to mislead those who may be disposed to rely upon them.
– The honorand learned senator put that right.
– I pointed out yesterday that this Bill is in many of its provisions really a re-cast of the existing Act. Though the verbiage has been altered the substance in many instances remains the same. I went through the clauses seriatim in which any substantial alterations of the existing Act are contained, and explained them to the Senate as clearly and as fully as I could. I thought that honorable senators might, therefore, understand that they need not necessarily take the marginal notes as indicating that certain clauses had been taken bodily from the existing Act. Senator Symon also referred to the fact that I gave no instances of hardships to the individual which have been disclosed in the operation of the present Act, and the honorable and learned senator suggested, therefore, that this Bill is not designed to remedy any of them.
– The honorable senator pointed out that he meant hardships to the Commonwealth.
– There have been hardships; to the Commonwealth because matters have been hung up in many instances owing to the difficulties in the way of coming to a termination of negotiations with persons whose lands were to be acquired. Apart from that, however, I mayrecount some of the benefits which the Bill purports to afford to individuals. In the first instance it provides that wherever land is being occupied temporarily, that is to say land other than that which is being actually acquired - it may be adjacent land - payment of rent shall be made to the individual for the period of the temporary occupation.
– That is in the existing Act.
– No, there is a different provision dealing with surface crops only.
– It also provides for rent, and the time within which it shall be paid.
– We have, in addition, in this Bill given facilities for resort to the States Courts instead of to the High Court, in many instances in which under the existing Act it would be necessary to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court.
– That is more of an advantage to the Commonwealth than to the individual.
– It may also be of advantage to the individual in many instances to have matters settled by the States Courts. Then, provision is made in the Bill to enable an individual to obtain an extension of time for putting in a claim without the necessity of invoking the jurisdiction of the High. Court. He may apply to the Minister for an extension of time.
– The Bill does away with the right of arbitration.
– I explained the reason for that yesterday, and Senator Symon, in his criticism, has agreed with me in that.
– I understood the Minister to say that, under the existing Act, no provision is made for the payment of rent for the temporary occupation of land, and that provision is made only for compensation for crops that may be damaged. If the honorable and learned senator will look at paragraphb of section 55 of the existing Act, he will find that not only has rent to be paid, but it has to be paid at specified times. Under this Bill it has to be paid, but the time is not specified.
– I have not a copy of the existing Act before me. I was enumerating from memory some of the benefits to the individual which are provided for by this Bill. We make provision for adjusting mortgagees’ and mortgagors’ rights in the case of compulsory acquisition. We enable the individual who has to serve notices upon the Minister in connexion with the measure to do so by post, without having to incur the expense of personal service, either by himself or by paying some one else to serve the notices. These are only a few of the instances which occur to me in which provisions are inserted for the benefit of the individual.
– Is it provided that, where the valuation is under£250, the matter between the parties can be settled by a police magistrate?
– It can be referred to a Court of competent jurisdiction in a State.
SenatorBest. - That might mean a County Court, which would be far more expensive.
– That is what it does mean.
– We also provide that, where proceedings are taken in the higher Court, it shall be competent for that Court to declare that the costs shall be only the costs on the lower scale, or the costs of the Court of lower jurisdiction, unless it is certified that the case should have been taken in the Court of higher jurisdiction.
– I was referring to the advantage conferred by the Victorian Act in enabling these cases to be dealt with in the simplest possible way, where the valuation is under£250.
– With regard to the other criticism offered by Senator Symon, I think I may deal with it better in Committee. I agree with the honorable and learned senator that there is no neessity on the part of the Commonwealth to impose any such conditions upon the States as might interfere with the harmonious relations which should always exist between them and the Commonwealth. I feel certain that this Bill does not do that, and we shall find that the words used are such as appear in the existing Act. With regard to the remarks of Senator Millen, the honorable senator will find, when we get into Committee, that a conditional lessee of Crown land will stand in. the same position as lessees from private individuals. This is dealt with in clause 57, which deals with the acquisition of land subject to a lease. Although we have defined “Crown land” in the definition clause, as any land the property of a State, we have also defined “ land “ generally, and have so defined it as to include, amongst other things, “ Crown land “ that is leased by any contract from the Crown. Lessees from the Crown are therefore entitled to all the ordinary privileges and rights accorded to lessees of land generally under clause 57. This is a matter with which we can deal more fully in Committee, as is also the matter referred to by Senator Mulcahy. It is desirable that the Commonwealth should have power, not merely to sell or dispose of land itself, by way of sale or lease, but also that it should have a direct power to effect exchanges, perhaps with the States, for other land which may be occupied by the States for other purposes. It is desirable that we should have that power directly under this Bill, in order that the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States may rest on some sure foundation, and may be expedited to the advantage of both. I think that Senator Mulcahy is mindful of some transactions of the character which have taken place in the past between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Tasmania. After what has been a fairly exhaustive criticism of the details of a somewhat intricate measure, I think we should now be able to approach its consideration in Committee with a prospect of some very satisfactory results.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford), read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 6.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 July 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060719_senate_2_32/>.