2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to lay upon the table the following paper: -
Correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland, togetherwith a departmental memorandum, relating to the deportation of kanakas, dated 23rd July to 6th August.
– Will it be printed ?
– I believe that the paperis in print, but if’ it is not, then in order to make sure I shall move thatit be printed. The Printing Committee will meet and arrange. I also lay upon the table the following paper : -
Precis and copy of correspondence between the Imperial Government and the Commonwealth on the question of the coinage of silver for the Commonwealth, dated 13th December, 1904, to 2nd November, 1905.
– Is it in print?
– It will be referred to the Printing Committee.
– Does the Minister refer to the Printing Committee of the Senate, or to the Printing Committee of both Houses?
– Of the Senate.
– The Minister cannot refer the paper to the Printing Committee.
– No; it will be referred automatically to that body.
– Shall I be in order in moving that the paper relating to the deportation of kanakas be printed ?
– It is too late for the honorable senator to move that the first paper be printed.
– I feel quite certain, sir, that immediately the Minister made a reference to the kanaka question, Senator Walker took the earliest opportunity of asking whether the paper would be printed. The Minister proceeded to lay another paper upon the table, but Senator Walker certainly lost no time in taking; action.
– The Minister said he believed that the paper was in print, and that misled honorable senators.
– If there is any question of the Senate having been misled, I shall permit, a motion to be moved, although it is certainly irregular.
– I had no intention to mislead the Senate. I believed that the paper was in print, but I was not absolurely sure.
– I move -
That the paper relating to the deportation of kanakas be printed.
On a previous occasion I spoke on this- subject, and asked when the return would be tabled. Consequently Idesire that it shall be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return to an Older of the Senate, dated 3rd August, relating torevenue from Customs and Excise duties on sugar, &c.
Ordered to be printed.
– I beg to lay upon the table a report of the Joint House Committee as to the working of the Refreshmentroom. I do not know whether the Senate wishes that it should be printed or not ; but, as it is very short, I shall ask the Clerk to read it.
Report readby the Clerk.
– Does any honorable senator move that the report be printed ?
– I should like to ask a question.
-I do not know that the honorable senator will be in order, but I shall answer the question if I can.
– The question I desire to ask is whether there are any persons on the free list of the refreshmentroom ?
– Not to my knowledge.
– It is an extraordinary thing that there should be a deficit.
– I amquite sure that there is no Member of Parliament or other persons on the free list.
– I move -
That the report be printed.
– I would remind the honorable senator that on this motion he ought not to discuss the question.
– I am submitting reasons why the report should be printed, so that the public may know what is being done.
– I do not think that on this motion the honorable senator’ ought to go into the merits of the case. A paper is only printed in order to afford an opportunity to the Senate to discuss it later on.
– I shall content myself with these few remarks.
– I understand that the report under consideration merely deals with the existing state of things, and does not contain a balance-sheet or statement of accounts?
– I suggest that a statement of accounts might accompany the report when printed, so that honorable senators might be able to see what the details are in connexion with the refreshmentroom, and understand why it does notpay itsway.
– I will obtain the accounts, and annex them to the report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner reports as follows in answer to the questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
SenatorPULSFORD asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Are the estimated financial results of the Tariff changes which have been proposed, or are intended to be proposed, embodied in the Budget Estimates for the current year?
– The answer tothe honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It has not been possible to include the financial results of the proposed Tariff changes in the Budget Estimates.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the estimated increases or decreases of revenue in each State for the current year, consequent on the proposed changes in the Customs and Excise duties on spirit’s?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It is estimated that the revenue will not be increased or decreased to any notable extent by the proposed changes.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will the Government explain how the estimates of revenue for the current year, especially those for Customs and Excise, have been framed? Do the figures of such States represent the estimates of the Commonwealth Officers in each State, or are the estimates wholly framed in Melbourne, and, if so, by whom ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
First framed by Commonwealth officers in the State, then inquired into by the Central Staff, and then finally revised by the Treasurer.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he take steps to lay on the table a statement showing where canteens are established ; the receipt from the sale of alcoholic drink at each canteen, and the number of men attached to each barrack or fort where a canteen exists?
SenatorPULSFORD asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the estimate of the loss of revenue on the sale of postage stamps, in each State, during the current year, consequent on the proposed adoption of penny postage?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
SenatorPULSFORD asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Referring to the reply given on Wednesday last to Senator Pulsford’s question respecting the charges made for telegraphing in connexion with the recent telegraphic chess match between New South Wales and Victoria, is the Minister now prepared to order a refund to be made to the New South Wales Association of the amount in excess of that paid by the Victorian Association ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General is not prepared, on the information at present before him, to order a refund of any of the charges paid in Sydney on account of the Chess Match referred to, because it appears that the messages in connexion therewith did not comply with the requirements of the regulation governing press messages, but were sent by one of the players, and paid for by the Secretary to the Chess Club.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Message received from House of Representatives intimating that it had concurred in the resolution as amended by the Senate in reference to the contract between the Postmaster-General and Sir James Laing and Sons Limited.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1st August, vide page 2 131).
Postponed clause 16 (Approval of acquisition).
– This clause was postponed because of considerations urged by certain honorable senators that as it stood it made it appear that the provisions of this Bill might be used in connexion with the acquisition of territory for the Federal Capital. Since our last discussion of the measure an amendment has been drafted and circulated. We consider that it is better not to make that amendment in clause 16, but to insert a separate clause. We propose that it shall follow immediately after the definition clause, and be practically the first operative clause in the Bill. The suggested amendment reads as follows : - 5A. This Act shall not be construed to autho rize the acquisition of the territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
If placed where we intend to place it, the proposed new clause will be on the very forehead of the Bill, and any one looking through the measure would see at a glance that it was not applicable to territory acquired for purposes of the Federal Capital. I think that the proposal will meet the wishes of those honorable senators better than if an amendment were made in clause 16. We may leave clause 16 as it stands.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.57]. - The Minister has been well advised in making it distinct and clear that this Bill is not designed to apply to the acquisition of the Federal territory, but I suggest for his consideration, whether the object which he desires to achieve could not be attained in a simpler way. If honorable senators will turn to clause 5 they will see that the suggestion I am about to make has a good deal to commend it The definition clause contains the paragraph - “ Public purpose” means any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
Those words are taken from the Constitution; rightly taken from it in my opinion, so as to define the public purpose for which property may be secured in the terms used in the “Constitution. I suggest that we should add to that paragraph some such words as these -
But shall not include the acquisition of the Federal territory.
That provision would expressly exclude the acquisition of any portion of the Federal territory. If a clause like that proposed by the Minister were inserted it would certainly be precise and distinct, but it would be inconsistent with the definition. There would be a definition of “ public purpose,” and then a clause negativing its application. But if some such words as I have suggested were inserted after the defini tion of “ public purpose “ there would be a provision . governing the whole measure. Ai to clause 16 itself, I should have been glad to see it modified in respect of the acquisition of land from a State. Some honorable senators have argued that there is no reason why a State should be treated with any more consideration than a private individual. I thoroughly agree with that view, to a certain extent. But in relation to a Federation, we cannot place a sovereign State, whose interests and particular sentiments we are all anxious to consider, in the same position as an individual. The object of the Bill is to give power to acquire land, whether from an individual, a corporation, or a sovereign State, and, intrinsically, looking at the matterasmerely one of morals, the question is whether the superior power or right of eminentdomain, according to the. American phrase, shouldor should not be exercised with a high hand. Of course, if it comes to the pinch, the Commonwealth must exercise it with a high hand ; but when dealing with a sovereign State, there is a kind of courtesy which ought to be exhibited, particularly to a State which forms part of the same Federation. If I may use the expression, it is rather unmannerly to provide thatby a mere notice in the Government Gazette, we shall take whatever land we choose, quite irrespective of the feelings of the State which owns the land. I do not take the ground that if land is necessary it should not be taker from a State, just as it is from an individual ; but we ought to have some regard to the position of a State as it was before Federation, and only exercise the powers, legislative and otherwise, which have been transferred to the Commonwealth. I should, therefore, have been glad to seethe power stated not quite so baldly asit is in this clause, and to have had a provision similar to that in the English Act prescribing a notice to treat, or somethingof that kind. If it were thoughtbetter to adopt the shorter cut in regard to individuals, we might retain the old-fashioned and more mannerly method in dealing with the States. This clause might be further postponed in order to give the Government an opportunity to consider some method more consonant with the position of the States. I do not mean that if it comes to an absolute insistence on the rights of the Commonwealth, the States will beentitled to any more consideration than individuals ; but if my suggestion were acted upon it would be, as it were, a little more delicate method of achieving the end. -Whichever way we adopt, that end would be achieved, and the land would be taken compulsorily ; but a notice to treat would be an intimation to the States, and any suggestions made on their behalf might be considered. Subclause 3, as I pointed out before, does not contain much of a safeguard to the control of Parliament. It is provided that: a copy of the notification shall be laid before Parliament within fourteen days after its publication in the Gazette if the Parliament is then sitting, and, if not, then within fourteen days after the next meeting of Parliament ; but, in the meantime, the process of acquisition may- have gone too far to permit of successful or prudent interference on the part of Parliament. It is, of course, for Parliament to say whether that is sufficient control. However, I draw attention to sub-clause 3, and shall be glad to hear from the Minister whether, in his opinion, it might be modified in regard to the acquisition of State lands.
– If the only provision we had for the acquisition of land was that in clause :i6, there might be some force in the remarks of Senator Symon, but I fail to see that those remarks have much application when we consider that, first of all, we provide for acquisition by agreement. I do not think it at all likely that the compulsory powers of acquisition will ever be exercised in regard to States lands until the opportunities for peaceful negotiation have been exhausted in vain. Senator Symon has suggested that we might consider the advisableness, in regard to the States lands, of adopting principles parallel with, or similar to, those in the British Act. In- my opinion, the principles on which we propose to act under this Bill are still better than those in the British Act. We provide, first of all, that whether the land be the property of a State, or of a private individual, the Commonwealth shall be able to acquire it by agreement. The desire is to exercise the power to acquire by agreement as often as possible. As I pointed out on a previous occasion, the difficulty is that some of the States do not think that the agreement sections in the present Act are strong enough to warrant” their parting with land under their operation. That fact, I should think, ought to clearly indicate to honorable senators the desire of the Commonwealth Government to exercise, wherever possible, the power of acquisition by agreement. We must, however, have some ultimate power in the event of a State not agreeing to part with the land; and it is, therefore, provided that, whether in the - case of a State or a private individual, land may be compulsorily acquired. I shall ask Honorable senators to agree to clause 5a as circulated.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 5.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “Crown land” means any land the pro,perty of a State, whether reserved or dedicated- for any ‘ public purpose or not……
Land “ includes any estate or interest in land (legal or equitable), and any easement, right, power, or privilege over, in, or in connexion with land, and also includes Crown land. “Public purpose” means any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
– I move -
That after the word “not,” line 6, the following words be inserted, “but does not include any estate or interest granted by the State to any person.”
This amendment is proposed in order to meet the criticism raised by Senator Millen as to the definition of “ Crown land.” The honorable senator referred to the case of selectors in New South Wales who had acquired some rights to land, but had not obtained the title deeds, and who, therefore, might possibly not have rights included in the definition. As I pointed out on a previous occasion, the definitions are, in my opinion, sufficient to cover all classes of cases which would arise under the Bill. I am still of that opinion; but honorable senators opposite seem to think that the definitions as they stand do not sufficiently protect the rights of the persons I have mentioned. Rather than that there should be any doubt. ‘ I am perfectly willing to submit the amendment, which will ensure that the possessor of such an estate or interest shall be able to exercise, in regard to compensation, the rights of a full and unencumbered owner of land.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.14]. - The only effect of the clause is to say that it covers land, subsequently defined, of which the State is the owner. That being the case, all that the State owns is, as subsequently defined, the estate or interest in the land which belongs to the owner. Therefore, if the land were acquired, there might be two owners, namely, the State and the owner of the lesser interest ; and I am not sure that the additional words proposed may not cause difficulty. All Crown land is defined to be land of which a State is the owner, but that can refer only to the estate or interest in the land of which the State is possessed ; the remaining interest, if any, being that held by the individual. I do not know whether Senator Keating is satisfied that the proposed amendment fully meets the objection raised.
– I think that the Bill as it stands is sufficient.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.36]. - In order to carry out our intention to exclude from the operation of this Bill the acquisition of the Federal Territory, I move -
That after the word “laws,” the following words be inserted : - “ but shall not include the acquisition of territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth under the Constitution.” “ Seat of Government “ is the expression used in section 125 of the Constitution, which deals with the matter. No land can be acquired under the provisions of this Bill except for a public purpose, and a public purpose under the Constitution means a purpose in respect to which Parliament has thepower to make laws. The doubt suggested in connexion with this Bill was that it might be construed to cover the acquisition of territory for the purpose of the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, because under the Constitution Parliament has the power to make laws in respect to that territory. I think that the amendment I have moved will be effectual in preventing that.
.- I should like to ask Senator Symon whether, when we come to acquire. land for the purpose of the Federal Capital, and havearranged with New South Wales for the Crown land required, the amendment he has moved, if carried, would prevent the incorporation of the provisions of this Bill in the Act passed for the acquisition of the land required for the Federal Territory, for the purpose of acquiring private- lands.
-I do not think it would.
– No, it would not.
– It seems to me that the effect of the amendment will be the same as, that of the amendment of which notice has been given in the printed papers. I think, however, that the amendment I have circulated to stand as clause 5A is preferable. If it were adopted the provision would stand out distinctly from the definition clause, and any person reading the Bill would see that in the forefront of the measure, immediately after the definition’ clause, practically the first operative clause of the measure.
This Act shall not be construed to authorize the acquisition of the Territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth.
I think that would be a much more effectiveway of stating that this Bill is not to ‘be used for the purpose indicated, than to put it in the form of what might be called a limitation of a definition. Honorable senators are no doubt aware that the definition section of an Act is not often looked at unless it is believed that some pointmay be involved in a particular definition of a term used in: a section. With regard to what Senator Dobson has said, I presume that if the clause I have given notice of, or Senator Symon’ s amendment were accepted, the procedure would-probably be that, when it became necessary to acquire territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, Parliament, in exercising the powers given under the Constitution, would prescribe what the particular territory should be, and would indicate the methods by which it “was to be acquired. It would be perfectly competent for Parliament when doing so to decide that, so far as private lands within the proposed territory were concerned, a certain procedure should be followed, or that certain provisions of this Bill should be incorporated to deal with those lands.
– Is the honorable senator satisfied that the adoption of the clause he has circulated, or of Senator Symon’s amendment, would not prevent that?
– Yes.By adopting either of the amendments suggested we should decide that this Bill, of its own force, is to have no application to the acquisition’ of territory for the Seat of Government. Parliament has supreme power to describe how that territory shall be acquired, arid might adopt for certain portions of that territory the method of acquisition prescribed under this Bill, but which this Bill of itself would not bring into force in respect of those acquisitions.
– I should like Senator Symon or Senator Keating to say what would be the effect of either of the amendments suggested in circumstances I propose to describe. I believe that Parliament, under the Constitution, has full power in connexion with the selection and acquisition of the Federal Capital Site, but if, when all these powers had been put into operation, and we had acquired the Federal Ter- ritory, it was found necessary some few years afterwards to acquire more land in connexion with that territory, would the adoption of either of the amendments suggested compel us to come again to Parliament for a special Act for the purpose, or should we be able to proceed1 under this Bill?
– As a layman, it seems to me that the difference in this case between Senators Symon and Keating is that between tweedledum and tweedledee. Both honorable and learned senators desire to do the same thing, and I prefer the amendment proposed by Senator Symon. I hope that Senator Keating will accept it.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.25]. - The case submitted by Senator McGregor is mixed up with the difficulty suggested by Senator Dobson, and it may be convenient to deal with both together. We are now in a stage, and I hope we shall shortly come to the end of it, in our negotiations for the acquisition of territory for the Federal Seat of Government. The. object of my amendment .is to prevent this mere machinery Bill, when it becomes an Act, being used’ for that purpose. We desire that it should not be said that the drastic provisions of this measure have been introduced for the purpose of taking land from New South Wales in the event - I hope a highly improbable event - of no friendly arrangement being come to between New South Wales and the Commonwealth. Should the amendment be carried, when the Federal Territory is determined on, an
Act will have to be ‘passed by the Commonwealth Parliament for the special purpose of acquiring it, and it might include a clause incorporating the whole of the provisions of this measure, and providing that they should apply to the acquisition of further territory. This measure would then apply to the acquisition of any additional land that might be required. A Bill -must be passed by the Federal Parliament to establish the Seat of Government, and in that measure a clause of a few lines would be all that would be necessary to meet the objections raised. I should like to saw with regard to making this provision in the definition clause-
– The honorable and learned senator will not press the amendment as to place.
– It is not as to place merely. I like the honorable and learned senator’s term- the forefront of the Bill. The definition clause is absolutely in the forefront - it is on the forehead of the Bill. “ Public purpose” is that which gives the key to the power taken under this measure to’ acquire land, and “ public purpose “ means any purpose in respect to which Parliament has power to make laws. It is right that we should exempt the public purpose which we do not intend to include in this measure, and that is the public purpose of acquiring territory for’ the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth. If we do that, as I propose, we shall put in one passage the whole scope of the Bill, and it will not be necessary to go to some other clause to see how the Act is to be construed. It is very undesirable to insert what lawyers call a non obstanti clause, to say that a Bill is not to be used in a particular way. All that we require to do is to show that under this Bill “ public purpose “ means every purpose in respect to which Parliament has power to make laws, except one. I think that Senator Keating will agree that that should be put in the forefront of the Bill, and attached to the words which’ are the key to the object of the measure. Then every one reading the Bill will beable ‘to see that there is one public purpose which is not dealt with by the measure, and that is a public purpose which must be dealt with by the Parliament of the Commonwealth pass’ing a separate and independent Act for the acquisition of the Federal Territory.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Motion(by Senator Playford) proposed.
That theBill be reported with amendments.
– I desire to move that clause 20 be reconsidered. I desire the reconsideration of this clause, in order to deal with the class of cases referred to by Senator Mulcahy, when he was discussing his amendment. The clause declares the exceptions to the cases in which the Parliament may declare the notification of the acquisition of land to be void. I intend to move the omission of the words “ except in the following cases,” and to insert in lieu thereof these words : -
Where the land is Crown land of a State which is dedicated for a public park, or for the recreation or amusement of the public, and in all other cases except the following : -
Then follow the present provisions of the Bill, and the substantive portion of the clause comes into operation -
Either House of the Parliament may within thirty days…… pass a resolution that the notification shall be void and of no effect.
I believe that my amendment will give effect to the generally expressed desire in the debate on Senator Mulcahy’s amendment, and that was that in cases where parks or reserves, or any portion thereof, had been resumed the fullest opportunity should be given to the Parliament at the earliest time after its assembling to discuss, if necessary, the desirableness of annulling the acquisition.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.33] - I have no objection to the reconsideration of clause 20. There are one or two other clauses which I desire to have reconsidered. I should like to give the Committee another opportunity’ of eliminating that misleading title “ Eminent Domain Act,” and substituting the title “Lands Acquisition Act.” Since the point was previously discussed same persons have got the impression that the Sydney Domain is dealt with by the Bill. Perhaps, after consideration, the Minister may adopt my suggestion. “ Eminent Domain “ is merely the source of the power to which we give effect. The Bill does not deal with that subject at all, but with, the acquisition of lands. Therefore, the short title which tells what a Bill is should be the Lands Acquisition Act. I also desire that clause 6 be reconsidered. It gave rise to a considerable amount of debate. The gist of trie contention was that we ought 10 keepthe provision as it stands in the existing Act, namely, to empower the GovernorGeneral to enter into an agreement, on the ground that we by this measure cannot give, and ought not to pretend or profess to give, to the Governor of a State, a power which must be conferred upon him, if at all, by the Parliament of his own State. We cannot give powers to Governors of States in relation to dealing or parting with State land. I am sure that, on reflection, the Minister will see that it is a blot on the Bill to put in words which affect to give such power to a State Governor. I also wish to draw his attention to clause 35, with a suggestion that in the interests of every person whose land is taken, there should be a time limit in which the Minister shall cause the claim for compensation to be examined. In previous clauses, as well as in clause 36, great care is taken, and rightly taken, to put in a time limit within which a person shall make a claim for compensation. Under clause 34 he has to make the claim within 120 days, and then, after the Minister has communicated to him the result of his consideration, he has to say within sixty days whether he accepts the decision or not. It is a little hard upon the claimant that there should be no time limit within which the Minister, who is the purchasing party, shouldbe obliged to cause the claim to be examined. The clause merely says -
As soon as practicable after a claim for compensation has been made, the Minister shall cause the claim to be examined.
That is not quite just, because, as we know, the Minister, as well as the Department, is greatly occupied. If an unfortunate individual had his claim held up for a long while, he would have no remedy of any sort. He would be literally paralyzed. Having regard to. the multifarious duties of the Minister, and the Department, I suggest that a time limit of 120 days should be prescribed. I have had considerable experience in these matters, and the smaller a claim the more likely it is to be overlooked by a subordinate officer. Although the amount of compensation might be£100or£200, still, the claimant might have the greatest difficulty in getting the matter brought to a head. The last clause which I desire to have re- considered is clause 63. It is a pity that it should be put into a measure dealing with the acquisition of land, and I ask you, sir, to say whether it comes within the title or scope of this Bill. This is not a Bill for the purpose of authorizing the Governor-General or the Commonwealth to dispose of land or to grant leases of land. If it is intended either now or at any time to empower the Governor-General to deal with the land of the Commonwealth, and grant mining or pastoral or agricultural or other leases, that should be dealt with by a separate measure. After we come to acquire Federal territory we all contemplate that there shall be some reform in the method of disposing of our Crown land. The subject ought to be dealt with in one measure. But if, sir, you should think that the clause is within the scope of the Bill, I would still appeal to the Government to delete it. Nobody would expect to go to an Act for the acquisition of Crown lands for a provision as to how the Commonwealth shall dispose of Crown lands or lease them for mineral purposes. I do not know an, Act in which such a provision is contained. This clause gives substantive power to the Governor-General to grant- mineral leases. It ought to appear in a special -Bill, with, which we could deal, because, in the interests of the community, we might wish to impose conditions to provide for the better working of the mines. But the clause is certainly inadvisable. We are incorporating the laws of the States affecting mineral leases. I am not prepared to say that State mineral laws in regard to what might be Commonwealth lands in South Australia should apply. We are legislating . in the clark. We are asked to shut our eyes and open our mouths. The laws of the States with respect to mineral leases may differ. Probably they do differ in each State. Hut by one stroke of the pen we are practically re-enacting all the mineral laws of all the States, and making them apply to Commonwealth lands. The question is whether we are prepared to legislate in that fashion.
– How could Ave do otherwise ?
– Why should we not legislate with regard to our own mineral rights?
– This is only a temporary provision.
– But it is a very definite provision.
– If there were mining on Commonwealth land in Victoria., it would be very inconvenient if the Victorian law as to mining did not apply to it.
– Why should not the Commonwealth law apply ?
– We have no Commonwealth mining law.
– We are absolutely .re-enacting the mineral laws of the States without knowing what they a.e
– There may be a mineral lease which is partly on Common- wealth land and partly on State land. It would be very complicated indeed to have two mining laws applying.
– -The land ceases to be under State control themoment’ it becomes Commonwealth property. If a Commonwealth lease is granted, it must be granted under Commonwealth law, and we should have an opportunity of deciding the conditions under which Common wealth leases are granted. The question is whether thisprovision for the alienation of Common wealth land is within the title or scope nf the Bill, which is intended to provide for the acquisition of land. If it is. the words to which I have referred are sub.ject to further consideration. If it is not. the’ provision ought to be the subject of a separate Bill.
– It appears to me that the title does cover the clause referred to. The title describes this as a Bill for an Act - relating to the acquisition by the Commonwealth of lands required for public purposes, and for dealing with lands so acquired, and for other purposes connected therewith.
The clause appears to me to be in order. It might, however, be improved. The first provision of it reads -
The Governor-General may authorize the grant of a lease or licence to any person to mine for any metals or minerals on any land the property of the Commonwealth.
That might be improved by words to the effect that the properties referred to are properties under this Bill ; because the Commonwealth Government already owns land which might be held to be dealt with bv the clause in question. Such is not the intention. The intention of the clause is to deal with lands acquired under the Bill, and not with lands already the property of the Commonwealth.
That clauses1, 6, 20, 35, and 63 be reconsidered.
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Eminent Domain Act 1906.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the words “ Eminent Domain “ be left out, with a View to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Lands Acquisition.”
– The Minister might very well give way on this point. I feel certain that if he does he will save himself the trouble of having to deal with the clause again when the Bill returns from the other House. The present title is misleading. It does not help people who may be searching for information on the subject of lands acquisition.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The Governor of a State, acting with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, may (by force 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, and execute any instrument or assurance for the purpose of granting, conveying or leasing the land to the Commonwealth.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South, Australia) [3.56]. - This is a clause in which we profess to assume the right togive power to the Governor of a State to deal with the Crown lands of the State. I venture to point out that we have no right to do by legislation anything of the kind. It will be a blot upon our statute-book if we attempt to do it. The words of the existing Act express the power that we have exactly, and are much better to the point. Those words empower the GovernorGeneratl to enter into arrangements or make an agreement with any State. That is an intelligible and proper enactment. We have no more right tosay that the Governor of a State shall have power to dispose of the Crown lands of the State than to order that I shall do so. The Governor of a State takes his power from the Parliament of the State. The only possible suggestion that can be made in favour of the clause is that it would be nugatory, and that it would do neither good nor harm. But there it would be on the face of our statute-book. It would be an attempt by us to vest in the Governor of a State apower which it is for the Parliament of the State alone to exercise. There is a subsequent clause 15, which is intended to have the same effect, except that instead of the GovernorGeneral executing an agreement, the AttorneyGeneral is to have that power delegated to him. Therefore, it is unnecessary to insert clause 6. For these reasons I ask that it be negatived.
– I hope that honorable senators will not agree to the suggested’ amendment. AsSenator Symon said, this question was previously discussed very fully, both when we were dealing with the clause itself, and when we were dealing with other parts of the Bill. If the clause is struck out, every one of the Departments of the Commonwealth, which is called upon to acquire land from a State, will remain in its present paralyzed position.
– Nonsense !
– There is no nonsense about it. Every time the Commonwealth desires to acquire one foot of land from New South Wales, for instance, we are unable, as the law stands, to take the land by any ordinary negotiation. There has been no opposition raised in New South Wales, or in any other State, to the compulsory powers under the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act; but we are confronted with the position that in every transaction, involving, it may be, only £5 or £10, with a State, our law is said not to be strong enough to enable a State Governor to dispose of land amicably and peaceably. In each case we are told that we had better exercise our compulsory powers; and to this course we are forced in every instance.
– At great expense.
– At great expense, and in a round-about method, which involves considerable delay, and which may hereafter, as I said previously, be made the subject of attack on the Commonwealth by persons who are not fully seized of the circumstances which necessitate the use of compulsory powers as against the States. Does it not seem scandalous that we should be so paralyzed in connexion with the acquisition of land, that, in the case of two 5-acre adjoining blocks, one belonging to a private individual, and the other belonging; to a State, we can obtain the one by peaceful negotiations and arrangement, while in regard to the other we are compelled to use our compulsory powers? .
– Nothing of the kind.
– In the case of a State, we are, in every single instance, compelled to exercise our compulsory powers. And why? Because the Crown Law authorities of the States say that the Commonwealth Act does not go far enough - that it only empowers the Governor of a State to dispose of State lands subject to the limitation of the laws of the State. The States do not object to the States Governors disposing of lands in the way we desire, but they point out that at present there is not the power to do so; and, that being so, all lands disposed of to the Commonwealth by States are subject to certain conditions. For instance, in some States the lands must be submitted to auction or selection, and the Commonwealth must acquire the land as a selector or bid at auction. There is no aggressiveness on the part of the Commonwealth in seeking the powers conferred vt the Bill. We are empowered under the Constitution to exercise to the fullest extent all legislative powers incidental to the execution of the trusts reposed in us ; and this is one of the powers contemplated. BI OW is the Post and Telegraph Department to be administered, or the defences of the country to be looked .after, if the Commonwealth is not empowered, under any circumstances, to acquire lands which may be absolutely necessary ?
– We have that power now, but in a round-about way.
– Under the existing law, we have power to acquire State lands by compulsory process.
– And- by agreement.
– And by agreement. We have power under the existing law to acquire land by compulsory process, either from private individuals or from a State, but, 1 unfortunately, as I said before, the Crown Law authorities in some of the States hold the opinion that our provisions for acquiring land bv agreement are not sufficiently strong to warrant the States disposing of lands, unless subject to the ordinary conditions which apply in the State itself.
– The Minister means that, in the opinion ‘of the States Crown Law authorities, the powers of the Commonwealth are not sufficiently strong?
– Yes; and that is one of the main reasons for the introduction of this Bill. -I laid particular stress 011 this point when J moved the second reading of the measure, and I then gave a striking instance. The Commonwealth entered into negotiations under the Act with the Government of Western Australia for the acquisition of land for public purposes, and, as in the case of a private individual, we came to terms, and a deed was prepared and forwarded transferring the land to the Commonwealth. But this deed contained a condition that the State Government could resume the land unless certain improvements were made within twenty-one years. The Commonwealth held that it was not in the position of a private individual ; but the Western Australian: Government pointed out that, according to the law of the State, the deed must contain a condition of the kind, 01 the Commonwealth must exercise its compulsory powers. Are we always to be forced to use our compulsory powers, as we should be if this amendment were adopted? I. ask honorable senators to assist the Government in the endeavour to so legislate that hereafter, in all transactions between the Commonwealth and a State, we shall be able to precede any compulsory acquisition by the fullest negotiation for a satisfactory settlement. Clause 6 is intended to effect that object, and if the clause be removed the conditions will have to remain as at present. New South Wales and Western Australia do not afford the only instances of difficulty in this connexion. In New South Wales Commonwealth action is very often likely to be misunderstood or misrepresented to the prejudice of those responsible for Commonwealth administration, and I again point out that in that State we cannot obtain a foot of land by ordinary negotiations with the State Government. It is to remedy this condition of affairs, and to enable us to deal with States as with private individuals, that I ask honorable senators to retain clause 6.
– Would not the objections urged be met by re-enacting section 3 of the present Act, with an addition? The Minister points out that when it is sought to acquire land from New South Wales, or any of the other States, we are informed that the Commonwealth has not sufficient power to free that land from the obligations imposed by the State law. What was suggested previously in the debate - and I cannot see that the Minister has met the arguments then advanced - was that section 3 of the present Act should be re-enacted, with the addition of certain words. Section .3 of the present Act is as follows: -
The Governor-General may agree- with the owners of any land which is required for any public purpose, and with any State where such land is Crown land of the State, for the absolute purchase by the Commonwealth for a consideration in money or its equivalent of such land, or for the exchange of such land for any land of the Co’mmonwealth.
To those words might be added the words of clause 17 of the Bill, as follows: -
The lands so acquired shall be freed and discharged from all trusts, obligations, estates, interests, contracts, licences, charges, rates, and easements.-
Such a provision would give all the power that is required, and I think that the Minister might have addressed himself to this particular phase of the question. What troubles a great number of honorable senators is, not so much the substance of the clause as the manner in which it is expressed, which might give unnecessary umbrage to the States from which land is acquired. The amendment .1 suggest would free us from the difficulty of apparently instructing the Governor of a State as to what his duties are.
– The clause empowers a State Governor to act in defiance of the State law.
– The clause purports to confer certain powers on the Governor of a State quite apart from the powers he derives from the laws of the State. I do not think that such a clause is desirable, if it can be avoided; and I ask the Minister to consider whether all the powers he is seeking could not be obtained by the amendment 1 have suggested. The law at present empowers the Governor-General to do certain things, and to enter into certain agreements, while the clause before us purports to tell the Governor of a State what he can or ought to do, although the laws of his State may, apparently, provide to the contrary.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.13]. - We have listened to an extremely vehement and heated speech in opposition to the- suggestion I made to omit clause 6 ; but I scarcely think that vehemence and heat are likely to assist very much in the determination of this question. The Honorary Minister drew a picture of the defences of Australia being paralyzed by the striking out of the clause, and various other pictures, which are altogether creations of his imagination, and do not help to any end. other than, T am quite sure unintentionally, misleading honorable senators and drawing attention away from the real meaning of the provision, and the suggestion made regarding it. I do not think there is any honorable senator who is not desirous to facilitate in every way possible the exercise of the powers cf the Commonwealth. It is our duty to see that those powers are large, and that they are carried out in order to effect the public purposes the Commonwealth has in view. But the clause in its present shape does not bear in any way on the powers of the Commonwealth. The Minister has told us how the States arts unable to enter Into’ agreement for the disposal of lands which are subject to restrictions. But the remedy for that is for a. States Parliament to remove the restriction. We have no power to repeal a State law, but we have power to acquire land for Commonwealth purposes by virtue of our superior authority under the Constitution ; and when we take land in that way the effect under subsequent provisions is to sweep away any reservation or dedication. I think there ought to be some limitation in this connexion, but that is not now the question before us. Senator Drake has pointed out that the remedy is to put at the end of the corresponding section in the existing Act the words that on such acquisition the land shall be held by the Commonwealth free from those limitations or reservations. Whether we could do that might or might not be problematical, but, atany rate, that would be a way of doing what is desired, which would not, on the face of it, assume on the part of the Commonwealth the right to give power to the Governor of a State to sell or lease the Crown lands of that State, notwithstanding anything contained in the laws of the State. That is a most preposterous provision; to put into any Commonwealth law. The clause provides that -
The Governor of a Stale, acting with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, may (by force 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.
I say that we have no right to confer upon the Governor of any State a power to negotiate voluntarily for the sale or lease of Crown lands of the State in defiance of the laws of the State. In addition to that, this clause, as it stands, does not contain any provision for doing away with dedications and reservations. There may be dedications and reservations quite irrespective of the laws of a State, and the clause is defective from that point of view. The main question, however, is this: Is this Parliament entitled to enact that the Governor of a State may sell or lease Crown lands of that State in defiance of any law of the State? I say we have no power of that kind, and should not insert a provision which is altogether unnecessary, as this certainly is, to effect any such purpose. Senator Keating says that the acquisition of land, the property of a State, is paralyzed under the existing conditions. I venture to say that that is sheer nonsense. The power of the Commonwealth to acquire the land exists at this moment, and might be carried into effect under this measure. Even if it were to be by compulsory taking, it would be by arrangement with the States Government. What is the great expense involved? Merely the cost of the notification in the Gazette.
That can be agreed upon in a friendly way with the State Government. What other expense is there?
– The preparation of plans and all sorts of things.
– The preparation of plans would be necessary in any case. No more plans would be required for the acquisition of land by the publication of a notice in the Gazette than would be required in the case of the acquisition of land by mutual agreement. But in the one case it would be necessary to write out a long and formal agreement, whilst in the other it would be necessary only to publish a notification in the Gazette, and if there is a mutual,understanding between the Commonwealth and the States Governments there should be absolutely less expense involved in that course, unless it is desired to introduce some conditions irrespective of the notice in the Gazette. Really, this reference to the paralyzation of the acquisition of land is merely extravagant language. It is making a mountain out of a mole-hill. I do not know what New South Wales people may have said. I accept Senator Keating’s statement as to that. They may have been unwilling in a particular case.
– It is not a single case; the difficulty arises inevery. case.
– Then I say that I should like to have an opportunity to bring this particular clause before the States Parliament, and to ask them whether they are prepared to see the Commonwealth in one of its Acts assume to confer powers on the Governor of a State to deal with the Crown lands of the State. I do not believe that a single one of them would approve of it for a moment. We could overcome the difficulty in some other way, and I do not believe that any State Parliament would agree to the Commonwealth Parliament conferring powers upon the Governor of the State to sell or lease the lands of the Stateby mutual agreement with the Commonwealth Government, and in defiance of the laws of the State.
.- Until I read the clause carefully, and had considered section 3 of the existing Act, I was inclined to agree with Senator Keating, but I must now admit that this clause is very unsatisfactorily worded. We propose to enact that the Governor of a State may do certain things with the advice of his Executive Council. We. are here asked to insert a clause revoking States laws, but we have nothing to do with States laws in regard to land matters. I think the Minister must agree that to ad’d the few words which have been suggested to section 3 of the existing Act would be a much nicer way of doing what we desire than by forcing a provision like this upon the States Parliaments.
– We do not force anything on the States Parliaments.
– I think that we do, because we direct the State Governor as to what he may do.
– We are in this position, that if he will not do what is proposed, we must take the land compulsorily. Why should we not come to a friendly arrangement rather than exercise compulsion?
– There is an agreeable as well as a disagreeable way of exercising compulsion. The object sought to be attained’ by the clause is all right, but the provision is worded in an extraordinary way. Surely the Minister can have no objection to follow the advice given by Senator Drake in this matter? If that honorable and learned senator’s suggestion were adopted, no one could object to it.
– We can all claim that in any matter in. which States rights are seriously threatened we would be prepared to do our duty. We would not stand by and’ see the Federal Parliament usurp powers which belong legitimately to the Parliaments of the States. But, as Senator Keating has pointed out, the obligation is imposed upon us to carry out our powers to the fullest extent. The Government have had five years’ experience of the working of the existing Act, and they find that, not because of any opposition, on the part of the States authorities, or any opposition intended by the States laws, but simply because of the operation of those laws, and the fact that the States Governments are powerless to set - them aside, conditions have arisen which render the provisions of the existing law exceedingly cumbersome. The Government of a State for the time being is charged’ with the administration of the laws of the State. They can by lax administration set aside any law, or render it a dead letter, but they are responsible to the Parliament of the State whose duty it is to see that they do administer the law. In this clause we do not lay any obligation upon the State Governor. We do not interfere with his duties, or with the control exercised over him by the State Parliament. All that we say is that on the advice of the State Executive, that is to say, the State Government charged with the administration of the State laws, and responsible to Parliament, he may say, in certain circumstances, “ We are willing that laws of the State which hinder the transfer of this land to the Federal authorities shall be set aside in order that the transfer may be speedily made. ‘ ‘
– Does the honorable senator think that the Commonwealth Parliament has power to say that the Governor of a State may dispense with State laws ?
– I would not give an opinion on that question ; but, from a layman’s point of view, it appears to me that, if it is necessary for the purpose of carrying out effectively our responsibility to defend Australia, or to conduct the business of the Post and Telegraph Department, to set aside a State law which stands in the way of our. acquiring a piece of land which is necessary to us. in order to carry out those transferred services, we oha-e the power to set- it aside.
– We have the power of compulsory acquisition.
– We have the power also under the Constitution, which provides that our laws shall be paramount where they conflict with those of a State.
– Is not that made quite clear by the amendment I have suggested ?
– It is the same thing.
– The Minister admits that it is the same thing ; but it is put in a much better way.
– I do not pretend to say whether the reference to “ trusts, obligations, estates, interests, assurances, licences, charges, rates, and easements “ cover all the scope of the States laws. In Western Australia certain lands have been set aside by the land laws of the State as agricultural areas, and definite conditions have been attached to the sale or lease of those lands. It might be held that, in order to enable the Commonwealth to acquire any of those lands, it must be put in the same position as any other applicant for them, and must comply with the same conditions.
– The State has no power to dispose of land otherwise than in accordance with the laws of the State.
– But where there is a mutual agreement between the Commonwealth and the State Government, all that the Commonwealth requires to do is to put a notification in the Gazette.
– To take the land compulsorily.
– It would not be compulsorily ; it would be by arrangement with the State Government.
– I should like to ask Senator Symon whether, in the case of the acquisition of land set aside under a State Act for a certain purpose, it would not be necessary for the State Government, in consenting to the acquisition of that land,’ to ignore or set aside that purpose in order to transfer the land to the Commonwealth Government ?
– The Commonwealth Government would take it by arrangement with the State Government by the insertion of a notice, in the Gazette.
– The honorable and learned senator asks them to do by compulsion, or collusion, what they could not do by agreement.
– It would be clone simply by putting a notification in the Commonwealth Gazette.
– The question as to the method by which the acquisition of the land is carried out does not affect the question whether this provision is an infringement of States rights. That it is an infringement of States rights is Senator Symon’s main reason for endeavouring to secure an amendment of the clause. My reply to that is that I do not think it is an infringement of States rights, because it lays no obligation upon the Governor of a State. It provides that he may take certain action, with the advice of his Executive Council, who are responsible to the State Parliament for the administration not only of the particular law affected, but of all the laws of the State. I cannot contemplate a State Executive Council going out of their way to set aside laws of the State in order to suit the convenience of the Commonwealth Government, if in doing sothey would bring upon themselves the censure of the State Parliament. They would take very good care to retain the good- will of the State Parliament. I think that no infringement of States rights is involved, and I shall support the clause as it stands.
– I cannot forget that we are here, amongst other things, to protect the rights of the States. I believe that in New South Wales there is likely to be a considerable outcry against the wording of this clause, because, as Senator Symon’ has already said, it looks as though we were endeavouring to teach the Governor of a State what his duty is, or that we were endeavouring to supersede the laws of a State. I have throughout believed that the proper course would be for the State Parliament to authorize the Governor in Council of the State to negotiate with the Commonwealth Government with respect to State, lands. We should at all events endeavour to do the thing in such a way as not to cause unpleasantness. Rightly or wrongly, there is a feeling growing in New South Wales that the Commonwealth is encroaching rather too much upon its rights. It is the duty of the Senate, as the States House, to see that States rights are not injured. This clause seems to me to be an interference with States laws.
– It seems to me that the clause does not invest the Commonwealth with new powers. It merely provides that with the consent of the Governor of a State acting with the advice of his Executive Council, the Commonwealth may exercise in another way the power which it already possesses under the compulsory provisions of the measure. Senator Symon, I think, said that that difficulty could be overcome. He mentioned that we should not necessarily resort to those provisions if each State were to alter its Act in so far as it related to lands transferred to the Commonwealth. But that seems to me to be rather a cumbrous way of proceeding.
– I have, not made that suggestion.
– I agree with the honorable and learned senator that the States might complain if we authorized a tribunal inferior to a State Parliament to override its Acts. That is an inference which may be drawn from the wording of the clause. I ask the
Government to consider the advisability of accepting the suggestion made by Senator Drake, and that is to re-enact section 3 of the existing Act with the addition of certain words which would enable State lands to be transferred to the Commonwealth without any of the conditions that would apply if they were transferred to private individuals.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia [4.35]. - Perhaps the better plan to adopt in the first instance would be to move the omission of the words “ Governor of a State “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ GovernorGeneral.” That would bring prominently before the minds of honorable senators what the real point is. It is quite true, as Senator Pearce says, that there is no obligation imposed upon a State Governor, but this clausepurports to give him a power which can only be given to him by the Parliament of his State, and that is the power to deal with its lands in any form. The Commonwealth Parliament can override the State law by taking any lands compulsorily, but it cannot empower the Governor of a State to deal with its lands in any shape or form. That must be done by the State Parliament alone, and the point is apparent in the use of the words “the Governor of a State.” Senator Pearce said quite truly - and so did Senator Keating too - that when we are dealing with an owner of land we have no trouble. Why ? Because the owner can do what he likes with his own. If, however, the ownership of a State is limited, the Commonwealth Government cannot increase the extent of that ownership. That must be done by the Parliament of the State.
– But sometimes a State Parliament fetters the State Government as to themethod of disposing of Crown land’s.
– The remedy for that position is for the State Parliament to pass an Act empowering the Governor, with the consent of the Executive Council, to dispose of Crown lands. If it will not free the Governor from all restrictions and limitations we cannot do so. Our only method is to take the lands compulsorily. Instead of having an agreement drawn out, it willonly be necessary for the Commonwealth to arrange with the State to take a certainpiece of land, and for the State to say “ Very well, put your notice in the Gazette,” and the thing will be done.
– Where in a special Act the Parliament of a State has laid down the procedure in regard to dealing with certain Crown lands, could the State Government take that step without getting the law amended ?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Neither the StateGovernor nor the State Executive could deal with the lands of a State by sale, or lease, in opposition to the local law, nor could the Commonwealth Parliament enable them to do so. But the Commonwealth Government, as the superior sovereignty, might take the land, and, when a price was agreed upon, the State Government if it had no power to enter into an agreement could say, “ Now that we are agreed upon the price, put the notice in the Gazette,” and the thing would be done. All I desire to accomplish is to preserve this Parliament from taking, in form, at least, if not in substance, a false step. and that is to assume to vest in the Governor of a State the power to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of its lands in defiance of State law. That is not theway to get over any difficulty which may ‘have arisen in respect of agreements in connexion with the taking of land without compulsion. The compulsion is a mere myth. If an owner of land agrees with the Commonwealth Government to hand over his land, but owing to some difficulty, he is unable togiveatitle,there is no compulsion if hesays to the Commonwealth Government, “Now that we have agreed about the price, put the notice in your Gazette.” I move -
That the words “ Governor of a State,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Governor-General.”
.- This Parliament has no power to revoke the Act of a State Parliament relating to land.
– Only so far as it applies to a particular piece of land.
– Suppose that an honorable senator owns a piece of land in a State, and has to comply with certain conditions in its land laws. By this clause we are askedto revoke the conditions with which he has to comply.
– No; because this clause applies to only Crown lands.
– There are certain lands which are only partly owned by the State, because the conditions of the land law have not been fully complied with. In New South Wales, for instance, there are millions of acres which are not freehold. To these lands are attached conditions regarding cultivation, fencing, and improvements. Yet, it is proposed by this clause to revoke such conditions. The Parliament of a State is the proper authority to pass a law to the effect that in the case of any land being sold to the Federal Government its Governor may complete the business without regard to any other State law.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [4.43]- - It seems to me that this is purely a question of what are our powers under the Constitution. By the clause as it is printed, I understand that it is proposed to alter the laws of the States. Can we make a law for a State? What right have we to empower the Governor of a Statu over whom we have no jurisdiction to act contrary to its laws? Undoubtedly we have power to override the laws of a. State, if we keep within the limits of the Constitution. But have we power to make a fresh law for a State, and if so, in what section of the Constitution is it given? All it comes to, I admit, is a question of doing the same thing bv a different wording. We ought to adopt such a wording as would undoubtedly place the provisions of the measure within the limits and terms of the Constitution.
– I feel very keenly about this clause. Never before has a proposal so offensive and insulting to the States been submitted to this Parliament. Am I expected to join in giving power to any one to abrogate the laws cf the State1 which I am here to represent?
– That is done when land is taken compulsorily.
– An act may _ be done properly, and without offering an insult. A most offensive way of doing a simple thing is proposed, and I ask the Committee not to carry the provision as it stands. We do not know what developments may take place in the future. The Commonwealth may follow the advice of many people and arrange to take over the railways of the States. In that case it would frequently be necessary to acquire property and lands; and I can imagine that cases would arise when the power sought to be given under this clause might be used in a manner detrimental to a State.
– The arguments used against this clause seem to me to be somewhat confusing. It is admitted that the Federal authority has power to take land from anyState, in spite of State laws. The States already know that the Federal Government has such power. In what way would there be an insult inflicted upon a State, simply by enforcing the power that the Con.stitition gives? It would appear from the arguments of some honorable members that the Constitution itself has inflicted a severe insult upon the States, inasmuch as it has given to the Federal Government power to take, at its free will, for certain purposes, such lands as it may require. Honorable senators who are opposing the clause are endeavouring, I understand, to take the sting out of it. Where that sting is I candidly confess that I have not been able to discover. The Government has submitted a Bill to Parliament in which certain machinery is formulated to enable it to attain in an easy manner the position which it is desired to attain. The Minister has given us a good illustration in the case of Western Australia. The Land Act of that State certainly provides that the Government shall have power to resume within twenty-one years, but no difference can be made so far as the land law is concerned between the representative of the Commonwealth Government and some private individual. If the Westtern Australian Government wished to make the acquisition of land easier for the Commonwealth, it would have to alter the law now applying generally in that State. The simplest way to attain the object sought is for the Commonwealth Parliament to express in its own Act its’ own way of doing what it wants to do. I shall support the Government in maintaining the clause as it stands, because I have not yet heard sufficient reasons why we should vote against it.
– I am rather surprised at the turn affairs have taken in reference to this clause. I thought the matter in dispute was settled a week ago, and that we should not again hear the old arguments repeated. I cannot see what difference a reversal of what we did on a previous occasion would make to the States. Senator Fraser does not think that, where there is a reservation of land of any description, theCommonwealth has any right to take that land, even compulsorily. But every one admits that our compulsory powers in relation to the lands of the States are paramount. Some honorable members contend that we have no right to empower the Governor of a State to do anything. This Bill does not give to the Governor of a State any powers. It only says that he may do certain things.
– That is giving him power.
– If we desire to give powers to the Governor of a State; this is not the way we should do it. The GovernorGeneral is the head of the Executive authority of the Commonwealth. Seeing that he has vested in him all the powers that are given to the Commonwealth Government by any Commonwealth Act, there is no reason to mention again that he is clothed with those powers. Now what does this clause do? It says that the Governor of a State, with the consent of the Executive Council of the State - that is, with the consent of his advisers - may make an agreement with the Commonwealth, which, if we like to strain the provision to its ultimate effect, means that the GovernorGeneral, notwithstanding any law of a State, may cause any piece of land in that State to be transferred by agreement, thus avoiding the necessity of using compulsion. When an agreement is made, all that has to be done is to insert in the Gazette a notification that it has been arrived at, and that it does away with the law of the State in that respect. Is it not more honest and above-board to say that the Governor of a State, with the consent of his Executive Council, may make an agreement with the Commonwealth, notwithstanding any State law, than to attain that end by a round-about method ? The object is to avoid the necessity of going to the trouble of compulsory acquisition, with probably the recriminations that might arise from taking that step. Say that the Government of New South Wales has reserved Tickell Bay, and that a State law provides that a house shall not be erected on the foreshore ; so that in perpetuity the people may go to gather whelks there. Suppose that suddenly it is discovered that Tickell Bay is one of the most vulnerable points in the Common wealth, and that it is necessary to erect a fort there. The Government of the State could not order the revocation of that reserve without repealing the State Act. But the Commonwealth Government, notwithstanding the reservation, might say to the Governor of the State, “ If you, with the concurrence of your advisers, are prepared to enter into an arrangement with the Commonwealth to transfer this land, notwithstanding your State law, we are prepared to take it. If you are not prepared to make an arrangement we shall have to take it compulsorily.” The same would apply if a reservation had been made by a State of a piece of coast, on account of the drainage of a city being emptied into the sea at that point. In the event of the Commonwealth Government requiring that piece of coast for some public purpose, it could take what it wanted. Many illustrations might be given of the advantage of giving facilities for the making of an amicable agreement, and thereby avoiding the use of compulsory powers. The method adopted in this Bill gets over the difficulties in an opera and above-board manner, which is better than that suggested by Senator Symon and Senator Drake. That, is my opinion, and it is the opinion that was expressed by a majority of honorable senators on a previous occasion. I hope that honorable senators will adhere to their determination.
– The only suggestion which seems to come from those who are opposed to the clause is that submitted by Senator Drake.
– That suggestion was previously madeby Senator Best.
– That is so; and Senator Drake asked why I had not directed my attention to this particular amendment. I may remind Senator Drake that I referred to this suggestion by Senator Best when addressing the Committee on a previous occasion. I cannot be expected to be constantly repeating arguments, simply because the attention of honorable senators may be called elsewhere when I am dealing with particular matters. I pointed out that the Commonwealth does not always desire to acquire the whole of the rights attaching to lands which are transferred. It may happen that, when negotiating with a State for certain lands, there are attached rights which the Commonwealth would rather be without. For instance, in connexion with a large area, there may be certain underground mining rights, and the Commonwealth would not desire to be burdened with the obligation and duty to make mining laws and regulations. Later on in the Bill we deal with cases where such rights have passed over to the Commonwealth, and it is proposed, under such circumstances, to make the law of the particular State applicable. Honorable senators can see, however, that in many instances no more than the surface rights are desired by the Commonwealth; and if a hard-and-fast line is laid down, and certain consequences must follow acquisitions, the Commonwealth may obtain more than it wants, and be saddled with undesirable duties and obligations. It is proposed to enable the Governor of a State, with the advice of the Executive Council - in other words, to enable the Government of the State - to dispose of land to the Commonwealth. As I said before, we may, under the Constitution, legislate with respect to all matters incidental to the exercise of any of our powers Section 51, sub-section xxxi., of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to acquire property on just terms from any State or person ; and the same section later enables the Commonwealth to legislate for matters incidental to the execution nf any powers vested by the Constitution in this Parliament. Having those powers, we find we are confronted with a practical difficulty. Even honorable senators who are opposed to the clause do not, I think ignore the fact that there is a practical difficulty in the way of acquiring Crown lands, more particularly in the case of New South Wales, though also in other States. It is proposed by the Bill to empower - not to command or order - the States Governments to transfer, by agreement, lands for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
– And to annul Statutes of their own Parliaments.
– No; we propose to finable the States to transfer lands, despite the fact that there may be some particular State Statutes applying to land ; but, so far as the general operation of such Statutes is concerned in other matters, we do not interfere, directly or indirectly. The suggestion of Senator Best, if acted upon, would, in many instances, carry us rauch further than we desire to go. We should get more than the actual land we require, with attending extra obligations and duties, which we know can, in most instances, be better discharged in the interests of all by the States.
– Is that the only objection to Senator Best’s suggestion ?
– Thai: is one objection.
– I do not see that it is an objection.
– If Senator Best were in the position of those who have had practical experience of the working of the present Act, the objection might appeal more strongly to him. I have been in conference with those who have been associated with ‘the operation of the existing law, and in connexion with some of the properties we occupy there are conditions which necessitate the subsequent clause in the Bill dealing with mining leases and so forth. At this stage of the Commonwealth’s history we do not desire to have ‘ cast upon us the obligation to make mining regulations, and probably to establish within a State a separate code of mining laws, applicable to Commonwealth properties. For that reason provision is made in the Bill for State laws to apply under such circumstances. There are other conditions and reservations in regard to which similar reasons would hold force as against Senator Best’s suggestion. The only other alternative that seems to be offered is that we should wait until the States severally make provision that, . notwithstanding any limitations there may be imposed on the Lands Departments in connexion with the disposal of lands to private persons, such limitations shall not apply to land disposed of to the Commonwealth. Is it reasonable to ask the Commonwealth Government to wait until the several States legislate to that effect? What hope or what immediate prospect have we of any one, not to say all. of the States legislating in that direction? What guarantee have we that the States would legislate uniformly? Another suggestion which seems to be offered is that the present procedure in the case of New South Wales might be persevered in.
– Whoever suggested that? I never heard such a. suggestion.
– Senator Symon pointed out that it would be a verv easy matter-
– I made no such suggestion.
– Senator Symon pointed out that there would be no trouble whatever - that it was only a matter of coming to an arrangement with a State, and inserting a Gazette notice acquiring the land compulsorily.
– The land would not be acquired compulsorily, but by agreement.
– Exactly, by mutual agreement in fact, but by compulsion in form. We have power under the present Act to compulsorily acquire land by Gazette notice, whether the owner be a State or a private individual. It is suggested that it would be easy to come to an arrangement with a State to have the necessary notice gazetted. Legally and strictly, if there were any dispute as to the Commonwealth having properly acquired the land, the High Court, orany other Court having jurisdiction, would have to decide that it had been acquired compulsorily.
– That it had been acquired properly and effectively.
-That it had been acquired effectively by the compulsory powers vested in the Commonwealth. In other words, the Commonwealth would be shown to the citizens of New South Wales, and the Commonwealth generally, as always acquiring land compulsorily, whereas, in fact, we should be acquiring the land in agreement, or in collusion with the States.
– That is what I maintain - collusion, neither more nor less. I ask honorable senators whether they would not prefer to enact straight out that the Governor of a State, with the advice of his Executive Council, may - not “must” or “shall” - dispose of land to the Commonwealth, notwithstanding any limitations imposed by State Statute.
– The question is really how far that provision goes; it is not at all clear to my. mind.
– It may not be clear to the honorable senator’s mind, but the present Act already provides that the Governor of a State “ may grant land in the name of the King to the Commonwealth.” We have already, by a law on our statute-book, conferred a power on the Governor of a State. But the provisionto which I have referred has been construed to mean that a State Governor must grant the land subject to the laws of the State.
The Governor of a State already has the power with which he has been invested by the legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament; but the extent of that power is the matter that is in dispute at present- between the Commonwealth and the States. It is proposed to overcome the difficulty by enacting that the power may be exercised by the State Governor, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law of the State. Under the Constitution, we have power, when legislating in all matters entrusted to us, to override the laws of the State. According to section 109 of the Constitution, when a law of a State is inconsistent with the law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail.
– That does not give us power to override the States laws?
– It gives us power to make a law inconsistent with that of a State, and, to the extent of the inconsistency, to render the law of the State inoperative.
– If the Minister relies on that, where is the necessity to legislate affirmatively that the Governor of a Statemay do something contrary to an Act of Parliament of the State ?
– As I have already pointed out, the Crown law authorities of the Commonwealth hold that the Governor of a State possesses the power under the existing law. The question has been raised, however, in one or more of the States as to whether a State Governor has the power. T. am not sure, but I believe that in some of the States the Governors already exercise the power we propose to confer.
– I do not doubt for a moment that the States Governors have the power to do what the Bill proposes to offensively authorize them to do now.
– The States Governors, I believe, exercise the power in some of the States now ; and although the point has been raised, the Commonwealth Crown law officershold the opinion that this Parliament has already invested the several Governors with the amplest power to transfer land to the Commonwealth altogether apart from any of the restrictions which would apply to the granting of land in the case of a private individual. The object of the clause is not to invest the States Governors with any new power, but to set aside all doubt, and make it abundantly clear that in the future we shall not be compelled, in every instance, to reso.t to the unpleasant compulsory method. Surely there is nothing offensive ii! the words of the clause or aggressive on the part of the Commonwealth? That is a fair, honest, and straightforward way of conducting these negotiations with the States. I indicated, when discussing the matter previously in Committee, that, in many instances, under the existing law, when the State of New South Wales actually agree to the compensation to be given in respect of certain lands, and when everything necessary for its acquisition has been arranged, the State authorities find themselves obliged to say, for instance, in, such a case as that cited by Senator Symon by way of illustration, “ We are agreeable to accept ^75 for this land, but we cannot transfer it to you. You require the land, and we wish to get rid of it; but our law compels us to dispose of it by public auction or by methods of selection!. “ The Commonwealth has the power under the existing law, and will have the power under this Bill, if it be passed, to compulsorily acquire the land. So we have had to fall back in every such instance on our power to acquire the land compulsorily. It is proposed that we should do what is desired neither more nor less than in connivance with, or in collusion with, the States.
– By “ agreement “ with the States. The honorable and learned senator should not use an unpleasant word if he may use a pleasant one.
– It might be by agreement, but it would amount, in a sense, to connivance or collusion. The outsider would know nothing of the agreement made, and, reading, the Gazette notice, would come to the conclusion that the Commonwealth was acquiring the land by, so to speak, “ force of arms.”
– Senator Best has indicated how the difficulty with respect to the outsider might be overcome.
– Senator Best’s amendment would take us further than we desire to go in some instances, and in other instances it would not be found to be a satisfactory provision.
– The honorable and learned senator does not’ desire that we should restrict our powers?
– No; but we do not wish to be burdened with all kinds of obligations in respect to something more than the land itself.
– The amendment would not put any burden upon us.
– It might, because it is proposed that we should acquire land free from all kinds of reservations and dedications. We might desire to obtain a considerable strip of land from a State for the purpose of a rifle range. If we were going to take that land by agreement, and the provisions with regard to acquisition byagreement would exempt that land from all reservations and dedications, we should not only acquire the surface, which might be all that we would require, but also the minerals beneath, and would either have to prevent persons mining on adjoining land from extending their operations to the land acquired, or to pass some legislation to control their operations in respect of that land. We might not desire to have to do that. There might be reservations of another character in connexion with fore -shores with respect to fisheries;, and so on, where we might desire to acquire no more than the surface rights of the land.
– That objection is met by the amendment I have suggested.
– If we make arrangements with the Governor of a State that he can dispose of the land, these difficulties can be met by agreement in every instance. In almost every instance in the past it might be said that we have- acquired land bv the system of compulsory acquisition. We introduce compulsory acquisition in the existing law as. a method which it was contemplated would be used only as a last resort, because we had made provision earlier in the Statute for acquisition by agreement. I am certain that every honorable senator who took part in the discussion of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act believed that the compulsory method would be resorted to only after all effort at acquisition by agreement had failed. I think that was in every honorable senator’s mind. I have just had an opportunity to inform honorable senators how the existing Act was worked. We have had to use the compulsory method in cases in which we least desired to do so, and in such circumstances as would warrant a belief in the minds of ordinary individuals that the attitude of the Commonwealth towards the States, and towards one State in particular, was very aggressive. I cannot help thinking that citizens of New South Wales, learning that every time we acquired land from that State we did so compulsorily, would imagine that the Commonwealth Government were proceeding in . a very high-handed way with what ordinarily, as between the Commonwealth and individuals, or other States, would be transactions settled by agreement. I point out to honorable senators that, inasmuch as we are not imposing any duty or purporting, to cast any obligation upon the Governor of a State, and are not making it any personal matter so far as the Governor is concerned, but a matter to be dealt with by him with the advice of’ his Executive Council, we are proceeding in a proper way in empowering that entity, which might be called the Government of the day, for the public purposes of the, Commonwealth, to grant or transfer the lands of a State.
– If it were only a matter of method, and we could do it in a pleasanter way, would it not be better to adopt that course?
– I see nothing at all unpleasant in the method proposed.
– Unconstitutional, I should say.
– I think that it is constitutional. We discussed the matter fully on the proposed amendment to clause 6, and on the second reading, or elsewhere. I think honorable senators must realize that there is nothing unpleasant or offensive in the words used in this clause, that they are calculated to be effectual in the direction desired, and to overcome the difficulties presented to the Commonwealth in the past by enabling the Commonwealth Government in transactions with the States to deal with them in precisely the same wa.y as they can deal with individuals.
.- I confess that I feel somewhat disappointed that Senator Keating should have so carefully ignored the complete answers which other honorable senators and myself have from time to’ time given to the’ objections which he makes. If those objections were not absolutely and completely met by the words of the proposed amendment, I should be the very last to urge its acceptance upon him. First of all, it is contended by myself and other honorable senators that the clause in its present form is offensive to the States, and that it is a departure from the precedent already established by the Commonwealth as to the way in which we should deal with the States, namely, by empowering the GovernorGeneral to do certain things with the Governor of a State, and not, as in this case, making laws for the guidance and assistance of the Governor of a State. I contend, and I hope I . shall do so incontestably, that everything that Senator Keating seeks to do can be inoffensively done in another way. The present law dealing with this particular subject is embodied in sections 3 and 5 of the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act. The fo:!m of words used in section 3 is as follows : -
The Governor-Gener.il may agree with the owners of any land which is required for any public purpose, and with any State where such land is Crown land of the State, for the absolute purchase by the Commonwealth for a consideration in money or its equivalent of such lands, or for the exchange of such lands for any land of the Commonwealth - and, subsequently, by way of administrative process, it is provided in section 5 that-
In tha case of any Crown land 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.
I frankly admit that if that section were at present before us, I might have some objections to take to the form in which it is stated. In my opinion, the law as it stands is sufficient for all the purposes sought by Senator Keating, but as the honorable and learned senator has stated that there are certain doubts in regard to it, I am entirely with him in the desire to meet the difficulty which he says has from time to time arisen, particularly in regard to the acquisition of lands in New South Wales. For this purpose. I have proposed, though I do not for a moment claim, that the words I have suggested are complete in themselves, that we should add words to the effect that upon the publication of an agreement in the Government Gazette, the land which is the subject of the agreement should vest in the Commonwealth according to the terms of the agreement, or that, if the Government desire absolutely to acquire the land free from all encumbrances, then it should vest in the Commonwealth free from all such encumbrances. I desire “to deal with the Minister’s objections to the amendment. The first objection the honorable and learned senator takes is that it would not answer the present undesirable features of the law, which he says exist, that if. he were to negotiate with New South Wales, and had a mutual arrangement with the Government of that State to acquire a certain piece of land, it would be- necessary to go through the compulsory process. If such an objection arises under the existing law, the purpose of the amendment is to do away with it once and for all. So that once a mutual agreement has been made with the Government of New South Wales, or of any other State, upon the publication or notification of that agreement in the Commonwealth Gazette, the land shall vest in the Commonwealth. In these circumstances, and with the words I have suggested in the Bill, there would be no necessity whatever to resort to the compulsory process. I challenge the honorable and learned senator to say whether that is not a complete answer to his first objection. I challenge him to say that there is any doubt or . uncertainty that with the words I have suggested added to section 3 of the .existing Act, it would he necessary to resort to any compulsory process. I come now to his second objection. The Minister says that the insertion of the amendment would mean that the Commonwealth would be obliged to take more than it intended to take. That is entirely wrong. The honorable and learned senator claims that if the Commonwealth desired to acquire land for a rifle range, and required only the surface according to the proposed amendment it would be necessary that we should acquire the land completely.
– Has the honorable and learned senator before him the words which Senator Drake read out?
– They are the words of clause 17, but we are not bound to them.
– I was going to meet that objection. I originally suggestedthe use of words taken from clause 17, but honorable senators will remember that by saying; that the property should vest in the Commonwealth free from all encumbrances, I have overcome the necessity for the introduction of those words. I wish now to deal with the objection which Senator Keating sought to drive home that, according to the amendment, in the event of the Commonwealth seeking to acquire surface rights in respect to an area of land required for a rifle range, it would be essential that we should acquire the land completely. I wish to show how absolutely fallacious such a suggestion is. The terms of the agreement might be to acquire either the surface of or other interest in the land, because, under the clause “land” includes “”’ any interest in land.” The agreement in its terms would be to acquire the surface of the land, and consequently there would be only compensation therefor. My amendment proposes that upon the publication of that agreement in the Gazette, the land shall be held subject to its terms.
– The difficulty is that the honorable senator is the only one who knows what his amendment is. When he was absent, Senator Drake read these words -
The lands so acquired shall be freed and discharged from all trusts, obligations, estates, interests, contracts, licences, charges, rates, and easements.
He indicated that that was the honorable senator’s amendment. Now the honorable senator is telling us what his amendment would provide, but no one has seen it in print.
– It is of no use for my honorable friend to attempt to get away from the point in that way. I do not doubt for a moment that Senator Drake read an amendment.
– And he said that it was the honorable senator’s amendment.
– When this matter was first discussed, my honorable friend raised certain objections, and on the spur of the moment, I said, “ Here is a reply within the four corners of the Bill.” On the second’ occasion, I pointed out how it was possible even to reduce those words by the use of four or five other words, and my honorable friend will see that my suggested amendment will achieve, in an inoffensive way, what he wishes to achieve by the Bill.
– I should like to see the proposed amendment.
– I have already stated that I propose to insert in this Bill section 3 of the existing Act, and to add words to the following effect: -
Upon the publication of a notification of the agreement in the Government Gazette, such land shall vest in the Commonwealth, subject to the terms of the agreement.
If the Commonwealth desired to acquire only the surface of the- land, the agreement would contain that statement, and the surface of the land alone would vest in the Commonwealth. Most elaborately, my honorable friend’ illustrated to us the restrictive laws of the various States, and the processes which might have to be gone through in order to acquire any land, and the reservations and the encumbrances which would naturally follow if the amendment were adopted. But the use of these words completely overcome that objection : -
Or the said land shall vest in the Commonwealth absolutely.
When entering into an agreement, the Commonwealth would have to state therein whether it wanted the land absolutely free from all encumbrances, and accordingly it would belong to the Commonwealth free from all encumbrances. If, on the other hand, the Commonwealth wanted to acquire only an interest in the land that statement would be made in the agreement, and that interest alone would vest in the Commonwealth. If it wanted a right of easement over a particular piece of land, the agreement would contain that statement, and then that right of easement alone would vest in the Commonwealth ; and, what is more, the compensation would be regulated accordingly. If the Minister could successfully substantiate any of the objections which he raised this afternoon, I would ask leave at once to withdraw my amendment.
– The honorable senator desires to give the Minister all the power that is asked for.
– Yes, but in an inoffensive way. I would urge the Committee to adhere to the precedent which it has established. The Bill makes a departure from the existing Act when it proposes to enact what the Governor of a State may or mav not do. It would be a waste of time on my part to attempt to deal with the other objections which were made by my honorable friend. In the circumstances, T think that the proper course for the Committee to adopt is to reject the clause, and thereupon I shall propose a new clause, which will be section 3 of the existing Act, with the addition of the words I have indicated.
– Before honorable senators proceed to deal with the amendment of Senator Symon, I desire to point out that in effect thev are being asked to strike out the clause, without being told what provision is going to be substituted therefor.
– I have stated what my amendment will be.
– In a moment I shall deal with what my honorable friend has just said. Previously this question was discussed in all its bearings once, if not twice, and this afternoon it has been discussed again. Senator Drake suggested the adoption of Senator Best’s amendment, and asked why I did not give some consideration to it in my remarks. Previously I had pointed out that I had dealt with that amendment at a previous sitting. Senator Best entered the Chamber immediately after that incident. He did not repudiate Senator Drake, so to speak, but he began to tell us of a new amendment which he intended to move.
– No; the honorable senator should not make that statement, because he knows that I have read the amendment I suggested on the last occasion, when this question was discussed.
– The amendment to which Senator Best has just referred is entirely distinct from the one read this afternoon by Senator Drake. That is the amendment with which I was Sealing; and at that stage Senator Best had not addressed himself to the matter. Why does he object to clause 6? Does he say that we ought not to empower the Governor of a State to dispose of these lands?
– It will not be necessary if the words of mv amendment be adopted.
– Section % of the existing Act empowers the GovernorGeneral to deal with the States. It says -
The Governor-General may agree with the owners of any land which is required for any public purpose, and with any State where such land is Crown land of the State, for the absolute purchase by the Commonwealth for a consideration in money or its equivalent of such land, or for the exchange of such land for any land of the Commonwealth.
My honorable” friend proposes to re-enact that provision, and to add some words to the effect that it shall be necessary to publish the notification of the agreement in the Gazette. In the case of an acquisition of Crown land of a State, why should there be any necessity for the publication of such notification? In this clause we deal with the Crown in connexion with the acquisition of Crown land of a State, in exactly the same way as we deal with a private individual. Mv honorable friend has admitted that he does not think that there is any necessity .for inserting in the clause the words to which so much objec tion has been taken, because they are alleged to be offensive.
– I do not believe in the clause at all. I think it is all wrong.
– Does not my honorable friend admit that under the existing Act the State Governors have sufficient power in respect to these transactions ?
– As a matter of fact, I think so, but I do not approve of section 5 at all. I approve of section 3, plus my words.
– We have there a clause which purports to empower the Governor of a State to grant land to the Commonwealth. My honorable friend holds the opinion, which I and others hold, that that sufficiently empowers the Governor of a State to dispose of State lands to the Commonwealth, and that the whole force of his authority is derived from the Commonwealth Act. We propose to make that abundantly clear; that is all.
– So do I.
– There has not been a single instance where a State Government, or a State Parliament, or anybody outside this Parliament speaking on behalf of the States, has objected to section 5 of the Act. Under that section, we can do what we are doing by the clause under consideration - simply empower the Governor of a State of transfer land to the Commonwealth. Certainly wedoadd some other words to this clause, but we do not assert any right other than we have previously asserted, but simply endeavour to make it absolutely clear that State authorities can rest upon this measure in respect of any transfer that they purport to make to the Commonwealth. We are not assuming any new power, nor are we proposing any new application of it, nor imposing any fresh duty upon a State Governor other than we have already given power to exercise. But we endeavour to make it clear that the power rests upon Commonwealth legislation.
– Will the honorable senator show in what respect my amendment does not cover the ground?
– My honorable friend has not submitted an amendment.
– I have explained what my amendment is intended to do.
– He has indicated what the nature of it will be. But are we going to sacrifice the certainty of this clause in order to take something else which my honorable friend admits is not yet drafted ?
– I have already told the Committee what I propose to do.
– My honorable friend has told us what his ideas are, but what are we to do? Are we to strike out this clause without knowing exactly what new proposal is to be submitted? My honorable friend’s principle may be perfectly correct, but he mayseek to give effect to it by words which may prove, in actual practice, to be very defective. The supposed remedy may be worse than what the words set out to cure.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.50]. - Curious transformations sometimes take place in arguments in this Chamber, but I do not remember any volte face that excels that to which we have just listened from the Minister at the table. Apparently his objection now is that Senator Best has not put his amendment in writing, but has merely indicated what he desires to accomplish. I take the ground that the clause as it stands is unconstitutional in substance, and is equally unconstitutional and disagreeable in form. But I have no objection to some such amendment as Senator Best has, outlined. I gather from Senator. Drake that his amendment was to be exactly the same as Senator Best suggested on a previous occasion. Whether he expressed the meaning in the same words, I do not know.
– The object was to give the Minister everything he wanted.
– The object at any rate was not to attempt any interference with the powers of the States in regard to the functions of their own Governors. Probably if Senator Best puts in writing the amendment which he has explained’,my honorable friend Senator Keating’s objections will be removed, especially if it carries out what the Government desire, namely, that when land is taken from a State the limitations upon its sale or lease, and restrictions under local laws, shall ipso facto disappear upon the publication of a notification of the agreement in the Gazette. If that purpose is accomplished I am sure that Senator Keating, on reflection, will see that his objection to Senator Best’s proposal disappears.
.- I amperfectly prepared to accept the amendment which has been suggested by Senator Best. My object was to recall to the mind of the Minister the fact that an amendment of this character had been suggested when the matter was under discussion before. I thought that Senator Keating would take some notice of the objections then made. In regard to the words to be added to section 3 of the existing Act, I am not at all particular as to the form, so long as they give to the Minister the power he has claimed to have under this Bill. No one has objected to the Minister having all the power that he wants. The objection is to the offensive way in which the power is expressed in the present clause. The Minister wishes to get rid of all obligations and encumbrances upon land that is compulsorily taken.
– We anticipate that’ the compulsory process will be exceptional rather than general under this Bill.
– Quite so; and in the case of compulsory acquisition the Minister desires to have words inserted, so that the land acquired will be free of all encumbrance. The Minister’s objection is, however, that what is now proposed gives him too much power - more than he wants ; that he would be embarrassed ‘bv having the land so entirely free from all encumbrance, and would prefer a provision under which some obligation might still attach to it. Senator Best’s* amendment is now drawn in such a. form that the actual terms of the agreement will go into the notification, and the land will be acquired exactly in the terms of the agreement. I think that the Minister will admit that that’ amendment will give him every power that he desires to have. If that be so, I think there can be no question as to the desirableness of putting the power in an inoffensive form.
– My honorable friend, Senator Keating, has asked me to write out mv amendment. 1. have done so. But I did not think that I should receive an objection at this stage, because the Minister knows that I could not move the amendment now. I propose to add to section 3 of the existing Act the words - and upon notification of the agreement in the Government Gazette all such land shall vest in the Commonwealth, according to the terms of such agreement, or if it is proposed to acquire the land free from all encumbrances, then upon such notification of the said agreement the land shall vest in the Commonwealth accordingly.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) amendment is practically the clause as it stands, except that it does not say that what the clause expresses shall happen notwithstanding anything in the laws of the States. If there is a law of a State that makes that declaration necessary, will not this amendment set that law aside?
– In terms of the Constitution, yes. But by the amendment we do not attempt to give power to the Governor of a State or to legislate as to what the Governor of a State may do.
– The clause in its present form allows the Governor of a State to .transfer land to the Commonwealth notwithstanding any State law which would make that transfer illegal. If that is objectionable, it is equally objectionable in Senator Best’s amendment, because the amendment accomplishes the same thing without stating that the State laws are set aside.
– The objection to the present clause is that in it we propose to legislate as to what the Governor .of a State may do. My amendment does nothing of the kind’.
– In the” clause as it stands we propose to legislate as to what the Governor of a State may do in pursuance of this measure; and Senator Best says that where an agreement is entered into between the Governor of a State and the Commonwealth Government State Acts shall be set aside. Is not that another way of saying the same thing? Are we to suppose that the States will not know what is intended ? Is it supposed that they will be mollified because we do not say openly what their legal advisers will tell them is the meaning of the clause? It seems to me that we are fighting shadows. The only objection to the clause can be either that it is unconstitutional or that it is unnecessary. The legal .gentlemen opposite do not argue either of these points.
– Yes, we do.
– If it is unconstitutional to say, on the face of the clause, that States Acts shall be set aside, or that a State Governor “may,” not “shall,” do certain things, it is equally unconstitutional to say so in more agreeable terms.
– Both mean the same.
– Not at all.
– According to Senator Best’s proposal, a State Governor may enter into an agreement, and certain’ results shall follow, while the clause provides that a State Governor may by agreement hand over lands to the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the State law. So far as I see, this is simply a reversal of the order of agreement.
– No ; one is affirmative legislation.
– The most that could be said is that, although we have an undoubted right to legislate as to the Governor-General, we may have no power to legislate as to the Governor of a State. That argument, I think, has no force, because the provision is not mandatory, but permissive ; and no objection could be raised by the States on that score. If the States did object they could render the provision valueless by refusing to enter into any agreement ; and, under the circumstances, I think the clause might be allowed to pass.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Best) proposed
That after the words “ Governor-General,” the following words be inserted : - “ may agree with the owners of any land which is required for any public purpose, and with any State where such land is Crown land of the State, for the absolute purchase by the Commonwealth for a consideration in money or its equivalent of such land, or for the exchange of such land for any land of the Commonwealth, and upon notification of the agreement in the Government Gazette such land shall vest in the Commonwealth according to the terms of such agreement ; or if it is proposed to acquire the land free from all encumbrances, then, upon such notification of the said agreement, the land shall vest in the Commonwealth accordingly.”
– I cannotsay that I consent to the amendment in its terms.
– The amendment ought to be subject to revision by the Minister.
– There is no objection to that.
– -It is not a question of draftsmanship merely. As I pointed out before, this may be said to be one of the main impelling causes to the submission of this Bill - that is, the whole question of the arrangement and settlement of matters between the States and the Commonwealth.
– It may be necessary to recast the form of the amendment.
– It may be necessary to do more than that. In the meantime, I point out to Senator Best that in the Bill there are definitions which are not to be found in the original Act. In the Bill the word “owner” includes a State in respect of Crown lands; and to that extent the words of the amendment, “ and with any State where such land is Crown land,” are unnecessary.
– Undoubtedly verbal alterations may be necessary.
– According to clause 15 of the Bill, the Governor-General may approve of the acquisition by the Commonwealth of any land “ by agreement with the owner.” In that case “ owner “ includes a State where Crown lands are in question ; and, therefore, the words of the amendment which deal expressly with a State are redundant.
– That is purely verbal ; the amendment says more conclusively what we mean.
– This is not merely a question of draftsmanship; it may be a question ofpolicy as affecting the acquisition of lands from the States. I am not in a position, standing here as a Minister, to give the Committee any guidance as to what words might prove to be dangers in the present amendment. I do not say there are dangers, but there may be some difficulty and danger attending the amendment. Personally, as a Minister, I am not in the position to give any information at this stage, and I shall have to consult with those who carry out these negotiations with the Stales, before I am able to say what may be the exact effect of the amendment.
– We have voted on the principle.
– Ofcourse, but the Government have not accepted the principle.
– The Senate has.
– Yes, by a majority of one vote; but on a previous occasion the Senate accepted the principle as presented in the Bill.
– Also by a majority of one vote.
– -That is so, and I am not assenting to the adoption of the amendment at this stage.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.14]. - It is perfectly reasonable that the Minister should have an opportunity to recast the amendment, because there are verbal expressions to which we may not assent. Indeed, we have a right to expect that amendments of this character shall be revised by the draftsman in consultation with the Minister. Nor is it unreasonable for theMinister to say that he reserves to himself the right to consider the substance of the clause, and whether some alteration in this respect may not be necessary after consultation. The proper course is to adopt the amendment, so to speak, fro forma, subject to revision by the Minister, and, if desired, by the Senate at a later stage.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Best) agreed to-
That the remaining words of the clause be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 20 -
Except in the following cases : -
where moneys have been appropriated out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for or towards the purpose for which the land was acquired ; or
where the Governor -General has sanc tioned the construction or carrying out of the work or undertaking in respect of whichthe land was acquired, and public funds are legally available for the purpose; or
where the Minister certifies under his hand that the estimated value of the land does not exceed One hundred pounds, either House of the Parliament may, within thirty days after a copy of the notification has been laid before it, pass a resolution that the notification shall be void and of no effect, and thereupon the notification shall be void and of no effect, and the land shall be deemed not to have been vested in the Commonwealth.
– In accordance with notice, I move -
That the words “ Except in the following cases,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “Where the land is Crown land of a State which is dedicated for a public park or for the recreation or amusement of the public, and in all other cases except the following - “
The object of the amendment is to insure that in every case in which the Commonwealth exercises its powers for the acquisition of land used for a park or recreation ground, or dedicated to the public, the Commonwealth Parliament shall be given an opportunity at the earliest possible moment to consider the desirableness of sustaining or annulling the acquisition. Senator Mulcahy proposed to prevent the Commonwealth having the power to acquire for public purposes any lands dedicated to the public for the purpose of health or recreation. The honorable senator’s amendment was negatived, but a strong feeling was exhibited by honorable senators who voted both for and against that amendment, that in all such cases, the Commonwealth should exercise its powers with due regard to the requirements of the public. If the amendmentbe agreed to, in such cases, and in all other cases except those referred to in paragraphs a, b, and c, of the clause - either House of Parliament may, within thirty days after a copy of the notification has been laid before it, pass a resolution that the notification shall be void and of no effect.
– No provision is made in case Parliament is not sitting.
- Senator Guthrie will see that under sub-clause 3 of clause 16, it is provided that -
A copy of the notification shall 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 within fourteen days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
WhatI now propose is to provide that in every case where the lands proposed to be acquired have been dedicated to the public, it shall be competent for Parliament to annul their acquisition.
– The effect of the amendment will be to delay the completion of the acquisition until Parliament approves of it.
– Exactly ; and that, I think, will meet the object which Senator Mulcahy had in submitting his amendment.
– Very largely.
– When this matter was previously before the Committee, I strongly objected to park lands dedicated to the public for purposes of health and recreation, being acquired for the Commonwealth for any purpose whatever. The amendment now proposed merely puts the power to which I objected in a somewhat milder form, and enables the Commonwealth Government, if the course proposed is approved by Parliament, to acquire any of these lands. I hold the view that the people to whom these lands have been dedicated have a greater interest in the matter than has either House of the Commonwealth Parliament. I am being placed in the position of having to accept what the Government now propose or nothing, but I do enter my protest against the Commonwealth making any inroad upon lands dedicated to the public in the different States, for any purpose whatever.
– Suppose it were necessary for defence purposes to resume such land?
– The Commonwealth will always have the power to resume these lands.
– I cannot imagine that any lands which have been dedicated to the public for purposes of health and recreation, should be required for the defence of the Commonwealth. They might be desired for the erection of drill sheds, or the establishment of parade grounds, but. in my opinion, we would not be justified in robbing the public of their heritage in these lands which the States Parliaments have in their wisdom granted to them, merely because we require land for a rifle range. I. know many of the public parks and recreation reserves throughout the Commonwealth, but I do not call to mind any on which it would be necessary to erect a fort for the defence of the Commonwealth.
– What about the reserve overlooking Newcastle ?
– I think that we could sufficiently protect Newcastle without making any inroad on the parks granted for the use of the people of that place. In the near future it will probably be necessary in South Australia to secure a range forartillery practice. I can quite imagine that the Minister of Defence will say, “ It would involve a very large sum if we had to purchase the land required from private individuals, and there is no reason why we should not take land for a range from the National Park.”
– A range for artillery practice would require to be ten miles long, and we could not get a range four miles long in the National Park.
– Then I take another case. The Minister will admit that we could get a range of ten miles along the beach. I think it is absolutely necessary that the people should be given every possible means of access to the beaches. The Government might propose to acquire the beach from Marina for ten miles southward, and might refuse to allow any person to have access to it.
– The range would only be used a few times in each year.
– It would be used every Saturday afternoon, and that would be just the time when the public would desire to use the land.
– We should not be firing live shells every Saturday afternoon.
– I know something about the artillery practice in South Australia at the present time. The Minister of Defence knows as well as I do that at present in practising from Largs Fort and Glanville the men fire out to sea.
– The honorable senator is not referring to the field artillery ?
– No, to garrison artillery.
– We could not shift the guns from Fort Largs to Marina, and blaze away with them 011 the sand there. It would be for field artillery that we would require a range.
– The field artillery could fire out to sea, just as the garrison artillery do. Last year the Minister said that it would be necessary for the artillery in Tasmania to shoot out to sea as they do in South Australia.
– That is what they are going to do.
– I hope that that will be done, as it will probably lead to a saving of a considerable sum of money to the Commonwealth’.
– It is not usual in actual warfare for field artillery to shoot out to sea.
– It might be necessary that they should do so.- It is all a question of the nature of the attack to be made upon,’ us. The first attack we know must be from the sea, and we shall require to be able to concentrate every available man of the field, as well as of the garrison, artillery on the coast.
– What could we do with field guns against the guns of a cruiser?
– I recognise that, as an ironclad could not get very near to any part of the coast, a hostile attack or any attempt to land a hostile force would have to be made by a smaller vessel, and in that event the field artillery would be useful for defence purposes. 1 am afraid that we are getting away from the subject, and I repeat that I hold a very strong opinion that land dedicated to the public) should mot be taken from them under any condition whatever.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45 p.m.
– The amendment, although it is an improvement upon the original provision, does not meet my objections, and therefore I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ Where,” line 1, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words, “ The provisions of this Act shall not apply if.”
– From time to time the Committee divided on this question, and this amendment is a concession.
– On a previous occasion, the Committee supported a provision empowering the Government to take over public parks and reserves ; but out of deference to the wishes of those who voted against them, the Government said “ Do not shoot ; we will come down.” They have come down a little, but not far enough to suit me. My contention is that the Commonwealth should net be empowered to impinge upon any lands which have been dedicated in a State for the purpose of amusement and recreation.
– The honorable senator does not place the Commonwealth’s affairs before anything else?
– The Commonwealth is not the Minister of Defence, but the people who occupy this great Continent. In their wisdom, our predecessors said, “ In Australia we are not going to permit that overcrowding which has taken place in older countries,” and, therefore, they set aside certain areas of land for the use of the people.
– This provision merely says that the public needs must first be respected.
– What is the first public need, but to preserve the health of the people?
– Does the honorable senator think that the West Cemetery preserves the public health?
– The honorable senator reminds me that a portion of the park lands of Adelaide has been filched by the State Government for the purpose of a cemetery. Other parts have been filched for the purpose of erecting a store for water-pipes.
– The cemetery reserve was made at the time when the park land was dedicated. It was dedicated for the purpose of a cemetery, and it was not filched.
– Perhaps the Minister’s reading cf the history of these park lands is different from mine. On looking into the question pretty closely, I found that the park lands of Adelaide were laid out by Colonel Light, and dedicated by the Imperial Parliament, but no provision was made for the reservation of a site for the purpose of a cemetery, or a store for water-pipes, or markets. The only reservation which was made in the dedication was for the purpose of military drill. The site of our present cattle market wastaken for the purpose of erecting a barracks. When it was abandoned by the military, it was taken by the corporation, only a short time ago. for the purpose of a cattle market. When they applied for some space there, the citizens spoke with no uncertain sound with regard to taking any more of the park lands. The result was that the Government of the day abandoned the position thev had taken up, and so did the corporation, who are looking for land elsewhere. Every one in South Australia is proud that these park lands have been set aside for the purpose of healthful recreation. Under the dedication, the Minister of Defence has the right to drill the Commonwealth troops in the park lands. What more does he want?
– Would the honorable senator argue that if the Commonwealth required land for a national purpose, it should not have the power to take it even if dedicated for the purpose of recreation or amusement?
– That is my sole contention.
– The honorable senator cannot lose sight of the Adelaide park lands.
– A little time ago Senator McGregor complained very much about the action of New South Wales in restricting the Commonwealth to a certain area for the purpose of the Federal Capital. What argument did he use then? He said that in Sydney more land was dedicated for the purpose of public recreation than the representatives of New South Wales proposed’ to let the Commonwealth have for the site of the Federal Capital. Let the representatives of that State hold on to every inch of land which they possess for recreative purposes, because it will be wanted by-and-by. People will desire to get out of narrow streets like Georgestreet, and go to a place where they will have elbow room. I hope that in Australia cities as large as any in Europe will be built up. Are we not going to leave the citizens with breathing spaces ? Are we going to take their breathing spaces for the purpose of drill sheds or any other purpose? Under this measure park lands can be taken not only for defence purposes, but for any purpose within the scope of the Constitution. Who will say that the Constitution will always be confined to its present narrow limits? There are some members of this Parliament who think that constitutional means should be taken to broaden the Constitution. I hope that in the near future it will be broadened, at any rate in some directions. There are many members of this Parliament who think that it ought to take legislative power to deal with industrial matters. Under this measure a public purpose might be the erection of a soap factory on lands which have been dedicated to the public for the purpose of health. The Minister of Defence also contemplates the starting of a small arms factory. He knows as well as I do that there are many persons who think that coal is contained in the Adelaide park lands, and that on several occasions they have- been tested. It is well known, too, that iron abounds in South Australia. I feel so strongly on this question that I intend to press for a division. If I am- defeated, I shall have done my duty.
– Does the honorable senator propose to exempt all Crown lands?
– No; I only propose to exempt Crown lands which have been dedicated for the purpose of a public park or for the recreation and amusement of the people. I admit that the Commonwealth .ought to have the power to take whatever Crown or private lands it may require on paying fair compensation therefor. It would be impossible to recompense the citizens for any park lands which might be taken.
– The country might be taken from the public if the honorable senator’s ideas were carried out.
– The country will always be able to protect itself without robbing the poor citizens. The rich man can always get plenty of breathing space, but why should we empower the Commonwealth to take breathing spaces away from those who are shut up in small cottages in the cities? There is no proposal on the part of the Government to recompense the citizens for any park lands which might be required by the Commonwealth. If they had said that, where it was absolutely necessary to resume a portion of parklands the Commonwealth would provide an equal area convenient to the city, the position would have been different. But they ask for power to take away from the citizens a great privilege which thev have long enjoyed, without’ compensating them for the loss of it.
– They must be compensated under the measure.
– The compensation which the State Government will receive for the lands will be used in the general interests of the State, and distributed amongst people who have never used the resumed lands.
– The money will be utilized in most instances to acquire other lands for public purposes.
– The public reserves in Victoria are gradually being encroached upon, and the people are getting nothing in return.
– They are not being encroached upon in Victoria.
– They are. I could give instances where they have been encroached upon in several places.
– Name one.
– Only a little while ago a deputation waited upon the Premier of Victoria in reference to encroachments in one or two up-country towns. It is easier for the Government, if it wants land for the purposes of this Bill, to obtain it from a State Government than from private individuals. I have seen a good deal of encroachments upon public reserves. In the old country people have absolutely had to take up cudgels to protect their commons. I trust that the Committee will insist that public lands shall be kept sacred, and that no one, not even the Commonwealth Government, shall have a right to filch them from the people.
.- One cannot but sympathize with the sentiments of mv honorable friend who has just resumed his seat in his insistence upon the preservation of lands reserved for the recreation and amusement of the public. But while the honorable senator is quite right ag to the duty of the Parliament to preserve public rights and interests, all that is contemplated by this Bill is that where national interests are greater than the limited interests of the public -of a locality in respect of dedicated land, the greater public interest shall prevail. That is a fundamental principle that not only underlies this measure, but has been recognised during the last century in connexion with the resumption of land in the public interest. I fear that my honorable friend has taken rather a limited view, and has practically confined himself to grievances and hardships of a somewhat provincial character. I am not disputing for a moment the great value of the Adelaide park lands, and the duty that is cast upon public men to conserve them fully. What he has said in that regard also obtains in reference to many other recreation reserves. But .the fact remains that if the interests of Australia are so pressing that even the park lands of Adelaide should be taken, say, for purposes of defence, the greater interests of the Commonwealth must necessarily prevail. The honorable senator overlooks the fact that, this principle is at present the established law of the Commonwealth. He forgets that since the year 1845 there have been consistent provisions in the Acts of the various States, as well as of other portions of the -Empire, enabling public lands to be taken for public purposes. That principle has been recognised almost ever since we had responsible government in Australia. The Parliaments of the States have, not improperly and unfairly exercised their powers.
– Is it not necessary in Victoria to pass a special Act to resume reserved lands ?
– The law in Victoria is that it shall be competent for the Minister to reserve permanently certain lands. The purposes for which they may be reserved are set out in the tenth section of the Land Act. If it should be found that it is necessary to revoke a reservation for certain public purposes, it is necessary to pass a special Act of Parliament. But my honorable friend forgets that we have to deal with different circumstances. We are dealing with what may be done by the Commonwealth, the laws ‘ of which’ are superior to States laws, and the interests of which in certain matters are superior to local interests. If the Commonwealth interest demands that local interests shall - to put it baldly - be sacrificed, the fundamental principle is that the lesser Interest must give way to the greater.
– Why not have a special Act to do it?
– It would be idle, and would increase the difficulties to have to resort to the formidable machinery of a special Act of Parliament for the purpose of doing something of this kind. Mv honorable friend appears to possess but little confidence in the judgment and public spirit of honorable senators when he objects to the clause as it stands. May I assure him that in my opinion there is not a single honorable senator present who d’oes not feel as keenly as he does that recreation reserves should be preserved for the public as far as possible. This clause ‘provides that if the Government conceives that in the public interest of the Commonwealth a certain area dedicated for the amusement and recreation of the people should! be (resumed, before the actual resumption can be consummated it shall be necessary to come to Parliament. If honorable senators aire animated by the same views as is my honorable friend, and the circumstances of a particular case brought before Parliament by the Government are such that the land in question should not be resumed, my honorable friend and others would be able to make such representations as would prevent injustice being done. Nothing could be more reasonable and fair, and nothing could give Parliament a better opportunity to assert its views and insist on regard being paid to its wishes.
– We shall have that power if a special Act has to be passed.
– The machinery of passing a special Act would be more cumbersome, but the same deliberation can be exercised in regard to a motion, which, however, is not so dilatory. One House can prevent a reservation being revoked if a motio.ni has to be passed. It will be competent for the Senate, for instance, to object to pass such a motion, no matter what the other House may do.
– Within a limited time.
– Let the period be made as reasonable as my honorable friend may desire. Thirty days appears to me to be a most reasonable time. I can state, from experience, that in Victoria there have been reservations of areas of land which have been dedicated to the public in the expectation of settlement springing up in a certain district. In a number of cases it has been found that those reservations are not required for recreation and amusement purposes, and never can be so required within reasonable limits of time. Reservations have been lavishly made, but the expectations originally entertained have not been consummated, with the result that, in session after session, Acts have had to l>e passed revoking them, and even going so far as to sell the reserved areas for the purpose of enabling other land to be purchased in a more convenient position. My honorable friend need not be at all fearful, because, if he is satisfied that honorable senators are as fully alive as he is to maintaining reservations for public purposes, he mas- be sure that the public interest will be respected, and that only the greater public interest of the Commonwealth will justify the resumption of land. The question has been fully debated. Senator Mulcahy and myself spoke prominently on the matter ; and made the suggestion that this particular clause should be introduced. The Government have seen fit to submit the clause under consideration ;. and. in my judgment, if I may be permitted to say so. it really answers all the purposes which Senator Guthrie desires, and will conserve the best interests of the public.
– I merely desire to explain why I cannot support the amendment of Senator Guthrie. That amendment goes much further than I ever intended to go. We all recognise the sovereign right of the Commonwealth to take such lands as may ba necessary ; and it would not be proper to interfere with that right so decisively as Senator Guthrie proposes. My idea. was to cause delay - to put a break on the acquisition of certain lands used for public recreation or amusement; and that object has, to a great extent, been accomplished, though not quite so completely as I would desire, by the proposal of the Government. If there is a public outcry after the taking over of lands without due consideration for the- wishes and the welfare of the people - as might verv likely happen, especially in the Defence Department - there will be a’n opportunity for either House to veto any action the Government may contemplate.
– In view of the reasonable proposal m aide by the Government, I think that Senator Guthrie ought to see his way to withdraw his amendment. Every safeguard now appears to be provided in the Bill ; and to me it is inconceivable that any Government would go out of its way to acquire public lands which were not really necessary for some more useful purpose. In several parts of the Commonwealth, especial lv in the neighbourhood of seme of the cities, there are hills, or, it may be, mountains, which at present are used as pleasure resorts, but which might be the very best sites possible for a fort or some other defence structure; and yet, according to Senator Guthrie, the Federal Government, before they could acquire a foot of that land, would have to pass an Act of Parliament.
– What would be done if it were a matter of urgency, and Parliament was not in session ?
– That is a very important consideration ; and, really, f think that Senator Guthrie is submitting a proposal which I may, without offence, describe as unreasonable.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.19]. - I expressed the opinion very strongly that the Bill, as originally framed, might operate very unjustly in respect to dedicated lands. As an illustration, I pointed to the park lands of Adelaide, in regard to which the citizens entertain very strong feelings, and on the preservation of which they lay very great stress. I do not agree with Senator Guthrie, however, when he seeks to introduce into the Bill an absolute prohibition against the Commonwealth Government acquiring any such lands whatever.
– What I propose is that the provisions of the Bill shall not apply to such lands.
– That is the same thing. When the honorable senator says that the Commonwealth Government are taking something away from the people, that is true in a sense, because they are diverting the land from one use by the people to another use by the same people. We may believe that no Commonwealth Government would plank down in the middle of the park lands of Adelaide, even a fort, unless such a work were absolutely essential.
– The Adelaide Corporation wishes to erect a rubbish destructer in the park lands.
– The City Corporation is different from the Commonwealth Government. The Corporation have not the power to do that which the Commonwealth Government have the power to do, so long as their action is approved by Parliament. I think that Senator Guthrie may’ be very well satisfied with the provision offered by the Government. I quite agree with Senator Guthrie that the more direct way would probably be by Bill, setting forth the particular purpose for which land was sought to be acquired; but, with the provision offered by the Government, I think we may trust each other to be very keen about States interests in regard to lands dedicated to amusement and recreation, and to be very prompt to submit a motion should such reserves be in danger. The interval of thirty days after the notification is laid before the Senate, affords a distinct opportunity for control, in view of the fact that either House may interpose. Senator Guthrie will, I think, see that the object he has in view will be accomplished by the Government proposal.
. -I am astonished at the small measure of support which Senator Guthrie has hitherto received for his very reasonable amendment. It appears to me that honorable senators have not been keeping their eyes very closely on the action of our various States Governments, or otherwise they would have seen that wherever an area of land, big or little, is required for any public purpose, a portion of a reserve is immediately seized on. That has been consistently the conduct of every one of our States Governments ; and the presumption is that the Commonwealth Government, instead of making a new departure, will follow that extremely bad example. That is a point which, apparently, has not occurred to honorable senators. The Committee, in. my opinion, seem disposed to do what may prove to be an act, or a series of acts, of vandalism. Senator Best professed to be deeply sympathetic with the amendment proposed by Senator Guthrie; but of what earthly good is the sympathy of the honorable senator? In effect, Senator Best, says that the amendment is perfectly just and that he believes in it, but he will not vote for it. The honorable senator contends; that the Commonwealth must be supreme; and in that regard we all agree with him. Bearing in mind the tendency of the States. Governments - and I have no doubt the Commonwealth Government will develop exactly the same tendency - to nibble at public reserves, the honorable senator is. perfectly justified in his endeavour to introduce a safeguard. Do honorable senators realize that our city reserves are the lungs of our huge centres of population? What would happen to a man if his lungs were taken out ? He could not breathe, and he would be no longer of any earthly use as a member of Parliament. Take the wind out of a man, and he is of no use here. If we deprive the cities of their lungs they will breed a feeble and degenerate people. I have not the slightest doubt that if the Commonwealth Government wanted land they would seize some of the people’s reserves without any scruple. The probability is that the act would be committed before Parliament would have an opportunity to express an opinion upon it. I again point out that the public reserves all over the Common wealth are every day becoming smaller in area, and fewer in number, and when it is remembered that at the same time our population is increasing, and is likely to continue to increase, the necessity for maintaining the reserves we have must become apparent to every member of the Committee. Senator Guthrie does not intend to deprive the
Commonwealth Government of the power to take any land which may be required. His object is merely to provide a sufficient brake to prevent precipitate action on the part of the Commonwealth authorities. I think that every member of the Committee should assist the honorable senator to give effect to his most laudible desire.
– The brake will be afforded by the Minister’s amendment.
– I do not know whether that is a legal opinion or not, or whether if it is, it is worth much. We find that legal gentlemen in this Senate are so continually at sixes and sevens with each other that we laymen can only sit afar off, and wonder that lawyers should possess so little knowledge of law. Senator Guthrie’s desire in this matter is one that should appeal to every patriotic Australian. We have a huge continent, and there is no earthly reason why the States Governments or the Commonwealth Government should ever seize a single acre of a. public reserve. We have over 3,000,000 square miles of country, or about a square mile to every inhabitant of the Commonwealth, and most of it vacant, and that being so, I do not see why we should be nibbling at the reserves’ which have been set apart for the health of the people.
– Does the honorable senator think that any Government that has any regard for its position or continuance in office would be likely to do what is suggested?
– I should not be supporting Senator Guthrie’s amendment if I did not think that it was likely that Governments would do that. I have never known Governments to have any regard for the health or convenience of the. people. If they have wanted a piece of one of these reserves they have taken it without scruple, and without any regard for the public health or convenience.
– Then under the Minister’s amendment we could block them in the Senate.
– I have heard that phrase a hundred times, but when the Government perform an administrative act it is only in one case out of a hundred that either House of the Parliament goes back or. them. I may say frankly that I have very little confidence in any Government. They are all inclined to go wrong, unless they are watched very carefully.
– Man is prone to evil.
– No doubt man is prone to evil, and Governments are especially prone to evil, but members of Parliament are elected to see that Governments do not go further wrong than is necessary or desirable. The arguments adduced by Senator Guthrie should have some weight with the Committee. The honorable senator has laid it down as an axiom, and it is one with which I agree, that every public reserve should be looked upon as sacred, and should not be invaded, except in case of extreme necessity. These reserves should not be nibbled’ at and destroyed as they have been by the various States Governments. We should set a good example to the Governments of the States ; an example of self sacrifice. We should say to them, “ We have abandoned our claim to these public reserves, go thou and do likewise. We are the mentors, and you should follow our good example.” Instead of that, I am afraid we are likely to follow their bad example, and so lead the Commonwealth into exactly the same labyrinth of difficulty as that into which the States have been led by the action of the States Governments. I hope that honorable senators will reconsider this matter, and will assist Senator Guthrie to place the amendment he has moved in the Bill.
– I hope that Senator Guthrie will not press his amendment to a division. If he does, I believe he will have the support only of Senator Stewart, who has admitted that he does not understand it. and perhaps that may be the honorable senator’s reason for supporting it.
– No; I understand it now.
– I should like to say that I have quite asgreat a regard for the Adelaide park lands as Senator Guthrie has. I agree with the honorable senator, and, indeed, with every other member of the Committee that lands dedicated to the public should be held sacred to the use of the public. I am satisfied that neither the Commonwealth nor any State Government will ever dare to takeany lands dedicated to the public unless it is impossible to secure other land that will answer the purpose as well. Senator Stewart has said that in Australia we have over 3,000,000 square miles of land, but that should be a proof that the Government will have no desire to acquire land of such value as the lands of a public reserve unless it is absolutely impossible to get other land any where in the neighbourhood that will answer the purpose as well. If it became absolutely necessary that the Commonwealth Government should acquire any part of the Adelaide park lands for public purposes, ample compensation would be paid to the citizens of Adelaide for the land taken, and it could be devoted to securing land in some other part of the State for the use of the people. I am certain that Senator Guthrie does not mean to suggest that the interests of the people of Adelaide should be placed above the interests of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Purely local interests should not be allowed to’ outweigh the interests of the whole of the people of Australia.
– If I can secure the support of another honorable senator, it is my intention to press my amendment to a division. Every member of the Committee who has spoken has expressed sympathy with my amendment, but honorable senators have said that we should not carry it now, but should leave the matter with which it deals to be decided, in particular instances, byandby. Honorable senators desire to delegate to others something which they ought to do themselves to-night. If the Commonwealth Government proposed to acquire some of these lands, a motion might be brought forward in opposition to the proposal, and some honorable senators present might vote against it. Others might not be here to vote at all. I say that any such proposal should be given effect to only by fresh legislation, and Senator Symon has agreed with me that that would be the better way in which to deal with the acquisition of these lands. If it is in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth that some of these lands should be acquired by the Commonwealth Government, it should not be done merely by laying a motion on the table.
– The motion would be tabled to prevent it.
– That is so; but I remind honorable senators that the negotiations for the acquisition of the land would be carried on between the Commonwealth and the State Government concerned in private, and the people of the State would have no inkling of what was being proposed.
– The people of the State would very soon let us know what was proposed.
– Honorable senators are aware that they had no inkling whatever of the elaborate negotiations which were carried on for months between the Commonwealth Government and Mr. Croker in connexion with the mail contract.
– In the event of any objection to part with the lands, they would have to be acquired compulsorily, and so the people would know what was being done.
– They would know nothing of it until the matter was submitted to Parliament. On the other hand, a Bill would have to pass through its various stages in each House, and the people would be fully alive to what was taking place, and would have an opportunity to express their opinions. The clause is entirely inadequate to the importance of the question with which it deals. I feel that I should be neglecting my duty if I did not call for a division.
Question - That the words “ Except in the following cases “ be left out of the clause - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the word “Where,” proposed to be left out of the amendment, be left out - put. The Committee “divided.
Ayes … … … 3
Noes … … …21
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 35 -
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.52]. -I move -
That the words “ As soon as practicable,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Within one hundred and twenty days.”
The object of the amendment is to put the same time limit upon the consideration of a claim by the Department, and the making of an offer, as is put upon the sending in of the claim by the individual owner.
– The provision in the existing law is that within sixty days after the receipt of the notice by the AttorneyGeneral he shall forward the same, together with his? report thereon, to the Minister. It is proposed by this clause to substitute this provision -
As soon as practicable after a claim for compensation has been made, the Minister shall cause the claim to be examined, and a report made to him, &c.
The idea in cutting out the period of time was to meet every conceivable class of case. In some cases a considerable amount of time has to elapse before the claim can be properly dealt with. Sometimes the notice is received, and fresh information is required before the claim can be sent on. Section 14 of the existing Act provides a time limit of sixty days, within which the claim has to be forwarded for examination. Many claims, however, are of such a character that they can be dealt with in six days. In one sense I have no opposition to offer to the amendment, but it seems to me that in many instances it might be construed by the officers in the Department to mean that they were to have the opportunity, if they thought fit, to wait for something approaching sixty days before they pushed on with a claim. We thought that by taking out the time limit, and substituting the expression “ as soon as practicable,” it would expedite all claims in every instance in which they could be dealt with in a very much shorter space of time. If, however, it be the desire of the Committee to introduce a time limit, I shall offer no objection. At the same time. I believe that the introduction of the words, “as soon as practicable” would be calculated to lead to much greater expedition in dealing with every claim.
– But the greater includes the less.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 63 (Mining leases and licences).
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.57]. - I still think that the question of letting the lands of the Commonwealth under mining leases would be very much better dealt with in a separate measure. It seems to me that the clause is rather out of place in this Bill. But as you, sir, have ruled that it can be considered within the title of the Bill, of course I do not place the view that I expressed before against your ruling. Still, I would submit that unless there is some special cause, the question would be much more conveniently dealt with in a separate Bill. Perhaps the Minister knows of some cases in which difficulties have arisen.
– There is a great number of cases, more particularly in connexion with rifle ranges in mining districts.
– If the Minister says that there are cases which require to be immediately met by the clause, of course I shall offer no amendment, because in that view it is really for a temporary and immediately pressing purpose. That is a matter of Executive administration, which, of course, I do not wish in any way to embarrass.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be reported with amendments.
– I move -
That clauses 1 and 6 be reconsidered.
Clause 1, which relates to the short title, has already been dealt with twice, and so has clause 6, which empowers the Governor of a State to sell or lease land to the Commonwealth.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia.) [8.59]. - Is it worth while to ask the Committee to reconsider clause 1 ?
– Certainly. I offered no objection when the honorable senator asked for a reconsideration of it.
– There was a majority of three for putting in an intelligible, plain, common-sense title, describing what the measure is, namely a Lands Acquisition Act.
– To-day there was only a majority of two for that title, whereas, on the first occasion, there was a majority of three for the original title.
– Why should not the short title of the Bill stay as it is? It is really absurd to ask for a reconsideration of the clause, because on the third reading of the Bill the question will be dealt with again. If my honorable friend thinks that there are some supporters of the original clause away - I do not know whether there are or not - let him take a division on the third reading.
– Perhaps there are present some honorable senators who were absent previously.
– Whichever way it is, let a division be taken on the third reading.
– I offered no objection to the reconsideration of the clause on the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– That was a first reconsideration of the clause.
– Probably the Minister thought then that he was all right.
– I did.
– Is there anything to be gained by taking this course? Suppose that my honorable friend prefers as a matter of music “ Eminent Domain “ to “ Lands Acquisition,”-
– Perhaps it may save time if I remind the Minister that standing order 195 says -
No new clause or amendment shall be at any time proposed which is substantially the sameas one already negatived by the Committee, or which is inconsistent with one that has already been agreed to bythe Committee, unless a recommittal of the Bill shall have intervened.
We are still in the same Committee.
– It must be done at the third-reading stage.
– The clause which we propose to insert will read as follows : -
Where the Governor of a State agreeswith the Governor-General for the sale or lease of any Crown land to the Commonwealth any instrument, conveyance, or assurance included by the Governor for granting, conveying, or leasing the lands of the Commonwealth accordingly, shall by virtue of this Act, and notwithstanding anything in the laws of the State, be valid and effectual to vest the land in the Commonwealth according to the tenor thereof.
If it is held that this is substantially the same as the clause negatived by the Committee, I presume that the standing order referred to by the Chairman would apply.
– I shall have to rule the Minister’s proposal to be inconsistent with the decision come to by this Committee.
– It has the same object in view.
– It seems to me that if the words “notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the laws of a State” were eliminated, the proposal quoted by the Minister would be consistent with Senator Best’s amendment. The words are not necessary, because the provision declares that the land becomes vested in the Commonwealth according to the tenor of the conveyance.
– I agree with that, and the Crown law officers of the Commonwealth agree; but, unfortunately, the Crown law officers of the States do not.
– Do not the Crown law officers of the States agree with the proposal in the form in which the Minister submits it? It is an excellent form. It declares that where an agreement has been come to upon the execution of a conveyance by the Governor of a State, the land shall vest in the Commonwealth, according to the tenor of the conveyance.’ If the tenor of the conveyance is that the land shall vest in the Commonwealth unencumbered there is no need to put in the words “ notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the laws of the State.” That is the only element of inconsistency that I can see between the Minister’s proposal and Senator Best’s amendment.
– We have come to a decision, and have struck out of clause 6 the words “ by force of this Act and notwithstanding anything ‘to the contrary in the law of any State.” It is proposed by the Minister’s amendment to reinsert those or similar words. That proposal in the same Committee would be inconsistent with the decision already come to.
– Is there any value in the words “ notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the laws of a State “ ?
– I have said all along that I do not think those words are essential, but State law officers, it seems, refuse to recognise the authority of this Bill unless there are some such words in it. I desire to expedite the passage of this measure, which has been a long time before us. I should like to have the clause reconsidered, so that we might reach the reporting stage to-morrow. I will take it that, if we report the Bill now, honorable senators will assist me to expedite the Bill through its later stages, in order that it may go to another place as soon as possible.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.10]. - Whatever course is taken, certainly I think I can say for myself that there will not be the slightest objection to facilitate the adoption of the report on the same day as the Bill is reconsidered in Committee. I should not like to pledge myself as to the third reading, but I think we can get through with the Bill on Friday.
Question - That the Bill be reported with amendments - resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment) :
New clause 5A -
The Governor-General may enter into an arrangement with the Governments of other countries, or any of them, for the interchange of meteorological information, and any matter incidental thereto, between such Governments and the Commonwealth.
– The new clause which has been inserted by the House of Representatives simply enables arrangements to be made, in connexion with the meteorological work that may be conducted in Australia, with the Governments of other countries that carry on similar work, for the interchange of information. When the Bill was introduced in the Senate reference was made by me to the fact that it was probable that proposals would be made for the interchange of such information with India. I had not amongst the papers then in mv possession any official document conveying such an intimation, but some quotations which I then submitted to the Senate from a Sydney newspaper were to the effect that an offer was to be made to the Government of the Commonwealth on behalf of the Government of India. Honorable senators. I think, appreciate the importance of an interchange of such information. There is nothing novel in principle in the new clause. It simply enables us, in connexion with our own meteorological service, to carry out our work with the advantage of the latest information that can be supplied to us from other sources, in return for which, of course, Ave may be expected to reciprocate by furnishing information to those who give us advantages in th at respect. I think that there can be no objection to the amendment, and I therefore move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
ThisBill has been before Parliament for a number of years, and, therefore, the remarks I have to make, in moving the second reading, will not occupy much time. Honorable senators will recollect that when Federation was under discussion the people of Western Australia showed some anxiety to have their State joined with the eastern States by means of a railway, if they consented to join the Union. The Government of Western Australia made inquiries as to whether the adjoining State of South Australia would be prepared to assist in the furtherance of such a project.
– Have the Commonwealth Government yet got the consent of the South Australian Government?
– We have the consent of the South Australian Government to the making of a survey.
– Has that consent been given by Act of Parliament?
– No ; there is no necessity for , an Act of Parliament, because we think that we may take the word of the Premier of South Australia.
– It is not a matter of accepting the Premier’s word, but a matter of obtaining official consent.
– Perhapsthe honorable senator will permit me to proceed, because, in the natural order of things, I shall have to deal with that particular point, and refer to the time when the Senate disagreed, by a majority of one, to the proposal for a survey, unless the consent of South Australia, by Act of Parliament, was obtained, not only to the making of a survey, but to the construction of the line. The following letter was addressed to Sir John Forrest, who was then Premier of Western Australia, by the Premier of South Australia, on the1st February, 1900 : -
Chief Secretary’s Office,
Adelaide, 1st February, 1900.
Sir, - Following our conversation as to the possible blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal Authority, by South Australia refusing consent rendered necessary by Section 34 of Clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill, to the construction of the line through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing, in fact, quite out of the question.
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established (Western and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth) to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal Authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) F. W.holder.
The Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, Premier,
– What is the use of that letter, when the South Australian Government have declined to do what they promised ?
– I am at present merely giving the history of the events in connexion with the proposal to construct a transcontinental line, and I do not see why I should be subject to these unnecessary interjections. Senator Dobson will have an opportunity later on to express his own peculiar views, which I have no doubt he will do in that extremely forcible and unique style of which he is master. That letter, of course, was written before South Australia and Western Australia had joined the Commonwealth, and there is no doubt as to the anxiety of the people of Western Australia to ascertain whether they would experience any difficulty or opposition at the hands of their neighbour. Such a line would, of course, have to go through South Australian territory, and without the consent of that State neither survey nor construction could be undertaken by the Federal power. It was mainly on the assurance contained in the letter that I have read, and in the belief - which was shared by the principal politicians at the time - that no trouble would be experienced so far as South Australia was concerned, that the people of Western Australia were induced to join the Union. In my opinion, if that assurance had not been given, Western Australia would not have formed part of the Commonwealth.
– Does that not show that the letter is useless, and that an Act of Parliament is the only thing on which we can rely ?
– Surely the honorable senator has lived long enough to know better than to subject me to this constant interruption. Western Australia joined the Commonwealth believing that she would receive no opposition from South Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth in the matter of a transcontinental line, without which it was felt by the people in the West they could never be regarded as forming an indissoluble part of the Federation.
– At whose expense had the railway to be built?
– It is extremely strange that all the interjections come from the representatives of the little State of Tasmania. Of course, Western Australia anticipated that she, with the other States of the Union, would pay her share of the cost of what was regarded as a national undertaking. There is not the slightest doubt that unless we have a transcontinental railway, the western State cannot be said to be properly defended. Of course, we are secure so long as Great Britain has command of the sea; but if at any time that command should be lost, we should, in the absence of railway communication, be unable to go to the assistance of Western Australia in time of invasion or stress. Under such circumstances, Western Australia would be completely isolated, bearing in mind that the deserted, waterless country which lies between east and west would prevent anything in the nature of the marching of troops.
– Is such a state of things imminent now?
– I should like to be permitted to proceed with my argument. At present, I am merely pointing out that for strategic and defence purposes a transcontinental line is absolutely necessary ; and I base the justification of the present proposal on no other ground. Personally, I do not believe that such a railway would pav for a good number of years, but it would certainly pay indirectly by affording an assured means of rendering assistance to the western State should the necessity arise. In the absence of the railway, it can easily be conceived how foreign troops could conquer and hold the western State, always supposing, of course, that Great Britain had lost command of the sea.
– Is this Bill for the construction of a railway, or for a survey only ?
– It is a preliminary Bill for the construction of the line.
– In order to just i 1 v the proposed expenditure on a survey, it must be shown that a railway is necessary. I do not contend, of course, that a line to the west should be constructed at once, but there is no doubt that in the immediate future it will be necessary. I have to put forward the strongest arguments possible in order to show that a transcontinental line is required for defence purposes, and then to deal with the proposal that a survey shall be made. Amongst the papers circulated in connexion with this Bill, is a report by Mr. John Muir. Departmental Surveyor of Western Australia, who, with a number of other experts, examined a portion of the country over which this line would be taken from Kalgoorlie to the borders of South Australia. The report, which is lengthy, points out that one of the difficulties would be that of water supply. The line which they suggest would be from Kalgoorlie to Eucla, and thence to Tarcoola; and they furnish an estimate of the cost of the construction of the line within the borders of Western Australia. There has been no real examination of the country from Port Augusta northwards, but its nature is known, as far as Tarcoola, and a little beyond. There is also information as to the country in the neighbourhood of Lake Gardiner, should it be decided that the transcontinental line, instead of going via Tarcoola, should take the more direct route on the western side of the lake, instead of the eastern side. From the border of Western Australia to a point net far from Tarcoola, on the South Australian side, we know little or nothing of the country. We are informed that a considerable area consists of rolling sandhills, and that in some parts water is found at the foot of those hills. There is a very fair supply of what is known as pot-hole water nearer Tarcoola, and, until the drought drove him away, a squatter occupied a portion of that country with sheep. Honorable senators will recollect that a Conference of the EngineersinChief of the States was held in Melbourne in March, 1903, and issued a report in which they pointed out what they believed would be the cost of a transcontinental line. I desire, by reference to this report, to emphasize the necessity for a survey before proposals are introduced for the construction of a line. Parliament ought to be placed in possession of all possible information of a definite and unmistakable kind, so as to be able to come to a conclusion as to whether or not a line is necessary. I am quite certain that a transcontinental line must be constructed sooner or later, so that in any case the money spent on the survey will not be thrown away ; but, of course, if the information does not warrant the construction now, then the matter may be allowed to rest. The points on which they were asked to submit a report were the probable expenditure in construction ; the probable annual revenue on construction, and for ten years after; the probable annual expenditure in working the line and its maintenance ; the route recommended; the gauge proposed; the probable time which would be occupied in its construction ; the probable present and prospective effect of such railway if constructed; the advisability of constructing the line, and any other matters in connexion with the scheme which they thought should be brought under notice. I do not desire to go into all these matters, because I am not concerned with them in submitting this Bill, but I wish to emphasize the fact that these .gentlemen! admitted that thev had not the necessary information to enable them to make a reliable estimate of the probable cost of constructing the line. Thev say-
The information to hand is not sufficient to enable us to speak with certainty and accuracy on all points. For instance, the particulars as to possible sources of water supply, both for construction purposes and for locomotive use, are extremely meagre.
In what is certainly very dry country, that is unquestionably a most important consideration’. There must be a sufficient simply of fresh water for the working of the locomotives used on the line, and if” a sufficient supply of brackish water could Le secured it could by condensation be rendered suitable for the purpose. It is, however, necessary that we should know whether a sufficient supply of suitable water can be secured, and the probable cost of providing such a supply. They say further -
And the best route cannot be determined without further data, the obtaining of which will affect both the length of the line and its cost.
This report is drawn up by the Engineers’inChief of the various States Railway Departments, and it is signed by H. Deane, New South Wales ; William Pagan, Queensland ; Alex. B. Moncrieff, South Australia ; Maurice E. Kernot, Victoria ; and < C. S. R. Palmer, Western Australia. Honorable senators will see from the portion of the report which I have read, that these gentlemen had not sufficient data on which to make any reliable estimate of the cost of the line. They further say in their report -
From the information at our disposal, we formed the opinion that the line can be constructed for the above amount (£5,090,183). The estimate may appear large, but, as already pointed out, many of the data are uncertain - no survey has been made, the waterways have not been fixed, and the cost of water supply is indeterminate. We are strongly of opinion that further and closer examination and partial survey will show that the line can be constructed for a less sum than that named.
From that, honorable senators will see that before we can get the necessary data on which to form a reliable estimate of the exepnditure necessary for the construction of the line, we must have a survey of the route, and this Bill proposes that that survey shall be made. Honorable senators are aware that the matter was previously before Parliament, and they are familiar with the whole subject. I submit the Bill for the purpose of asking the Senate to authorize the survey, and I believe that when it is made it will possibly be found that the. estimate of the cost submitted in the report of the States Engineers’in.Chief can be considerably modified.
– It will grow up to about -£9.000,000; thai will be the modification.
– It will be reduced to £4. 000, 000.
– Verv possibly it will be reduced1 to ,£4,000,000. But whether it is reduced in that way or remains at ,£5,000,000, or is fixed at more than that sum, before Parliament can fairly consider the construction of the line, we must have an accurate survey of the route. I point out to honorable senators that the money expended in the survey proposed will certainly not be thrown away.. The only objection which any honorable senator can offer to the Bill is that the survey is not necessary at the present time. But I contend that it is necessary and advisable that the survey should bo commenced at the present time, because it will take a year or two to complete it, and to procure and lay before Parliament the necessary data. ‘ The money will not be wasted, because the survey is an absolute necessity. No .honorable senator car* say truthfully that the line will never be required. It must be admitted that sooner or later it will have to be con- structed, and, that being so, why should we not set to work as early as possible to secure the data necessary to place us in a; position to say what the cost of its construction will be? That is- all that honorable senators are asked by this Bill to do. When the matter was under discussion in the Senate last year, an amendment was moved to the. effect that the Bill should not be proceeded with until, by an Act of the State Parliament, South Australia had agreed to the construction of the line. The present Premier of that State has given a direct assurance, in unmistakable language, that he agrees to the survey. All that he desires is that South Australia shall be consulted as to the route and the gauge.
– The amendment carried last year did not refer to the survey, but to the building of the line.
– I am aware of that. Some honorable senators asked last year that South Australia should give a. distinct assurance in favour of the construction of the line. /I can quite understand that before the Parliament of South Australia would be prepared to agree to the building of the. line they would requireto be assured of two things - the route to be taken, and the gauge to be .adopted’ for the railway. The route is a most important consideration, for the State of South Australia, because if the line goesin one direction it will be of very little use- to that State, whilst if it goes in another direction it will be of use. If theline does not traverse the mineral country in .South Australia, it will’ not be of as .much use to that State as itwill be if it is taken bv way of Tarcoola,, and thus opens up the mineral country/’ If, on the other hand, it is decided that the line shall be built on the 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge, South Australia might very well say, “ No, thank you,” because that would mean the alteration of the gauge of the existing railway from Port Augusta, and the State of South Australia could not afford to make that alteration.
– And yet, in view of all these difficulties, the honorable senator is asking the Senate to vote ,£20,000 for the survey of the line.
– I am asking that because the line must be constructed sooner or later.
– Not necessarily by as.
– And because it will be absolutely impossible for the question of the construction of the line to be submitted to Parliament without a reliable estimate of the cost. That cannot be provided until the survey is made, and I repeat that in any circumstances the money expended on the survey will not be thrown away.
– What gauge will South Australia demand? lj?
-South Australia will demand the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. She could not afford any other. >“‘I observe that the Parliament of Western Australia has expressed a willingness to alter the gauge of the existing line from Kalgoorlie to Perth to the 4 ft. in. gauge, but I say that thev will be only throwing their money . away if thev do that.
– What is the distance from Adelaide to Port Augusta?
– From 180 to 200 miles; but I remind honorable senators that the proposal is for an alteration of the gauge on the line through South Australia to the border of Victoria, and through Victoria to the border of New South Wales. The idea is preposterous. Yet the EngineersinChief recommend the adoption of the 4 ft. 8J in. gauge. That is a proposal to which I do not think South Australia or Victoria will agree. Possibly the only State that would be prepared to agree to that would be New South Wales, where ‘ thev already have the 4 ft. 8J in. gauge.
– So that the recommendation of the Conference, of EngineersinChief is altogether discounted.
– Only so far as the gauge to be adopted is concerned. I have already pointed out that the recom mendations of the Engineers-in-Chief were made, on their own showing, upon insufficient data, and the object of this Bill is to provide sufficient data on which to make reliable estimates.
– Not with regard to the gauge to be adopted.
– The solution of that problem has nothing whatever to do with’ this Bill.
– The honorablesenator is quite right. It has nothing whatever to do with this Bill. I am satisfied that honorable senators generally are thoroughly acquainted with the whole of the facts connected with this measure. It was previously before them for consideration, and it has passed the other branch of the Federal Legislature by lange majorities on two occasions. Tt was lost here last year by a majority of only one, and I do ask the Senate on the present occasion to agreeto the expenditure of the moderate sum proposer! tor such a survey as will enable proper plans and estimates to be supplied, on which a reliable estimate of the cost of the line can be made when any proposal is submitted for its construction. ‘
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060808_senate_2_32/>.