2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) agreed to -
That Senator Dawson be granted one month’s leave of absence on the ground of ill-health.
Motion (by Senator Stewart) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Papua Act1905.
– With the leave of the Senate, I wish to withdraw the motion standing in my name, and asking for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Post and Telegraph Rates Act.
– That is not necessary. If the honorable senator does not move the motion, it will lapse.
– The Government has introduced a Bill to do that which I desired to effect.
– The honorable senator need not move the motion.
Debate resumed from 2nd August (vide page 2200), on motion by Senator O’Keefe -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, the true Federal spirit will not be created among the people of Australia until the present unfederal system of dealing with Commonwealth revenue and expenditure is abolished.
In pursuance of such purpose, all revenue and all expenditure should be shared by all the people of Australia on the basis of population ; and under clause 93 of the Constitution the bookkeeping system should terminate at the end of five years from the passing of the Uniform Tariff.
– The bookkeeping system under whichthe finances have been managed, is one which more or less successfully thwarts the section of the Con stitution which, above all others, is most strongly worded, and which reads as follows: -
On the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
I believe that there is no other section of the Constitution worded with that strength, and certainly there is no section of it which is so slow in coming into full effect. I fancy that very few persons are aware of what is at the bottom of the bookkeeping system, or how greatly it interferes with the business life of Australia, and how muchit retards the development which otherwise would take place. Trade between the States is supposed to be free; but it is not free, because Customs entries have to be passed, and a great deal of work has to be done in connexion with them. A few weeks ago, I asked the Collector of Customs in New South Wales how many entries for inter- State business were passed through theSydney Customs House last year. He told me that the total number was 90,628, exclusive of Victorian transfers, the number of which I do not know. I think it is pretty safe to say that, throughout Australia last year, at the very least, 300,000 entries were passed for goods relating to inter-State trade. Naturally, that is a great tax on the trade. It takesup a good deal of time, and involves a great deal of work. It must be remembered that it is essential that all these entries’ should be prepared with very much the same degree of accuracy as is required with regard to the entries of oversea goods, otherwise those who make the entries are liable to prosecution. The requirement of accuracy is essential, because on the accurate wording of the entries depends the proper adjustment of the revenue between the States. When Federation came about, and this system first began, the financial position in Australia was a very strange ‘one. In the earlieryears of Federation there was a great deal of trouble. I think that in 1901 and 1902 there was a deficit in each State; in some States itran up to £300,000 and £400,000; and the total deficit, I believe, was considerably over £1,000,000. The position meant that those in charge of the finances of the States were more or less in doubt as to what effect the Federation would have upon their finances. All of them felt the necessity of obtaining through the Commonwealth as large an amount of revenue as they possibly could, and all of them, I think, were more or less suspicious each of the others, and feared that the arrangement of a joint purse might not be to their advantage. I am glad to notice that Mr. Harper, with many of whose conclusions and statements I have not been able to agree, thinks that the bookkeeping system ought to be abolished at an early date. In his memorandum on the subject he says -
These provisions, although probably necessary to re-assure the Parliaments of the States, and possibly the best that could be devised in the then circumstances, are evidently crude and unsatisfactory. They are known as “ the bookkeeping “ and “ the Braddon “ clauses, and so far as the bookkeeping clauses are concerned, they entail enormous trouble and expense to the public, and to the Administrations of the various States, as well as to the Commonwealth.
– It does not entail any expense to the Administrations of the States. The States have nothing to do with it, for we do the whole work.
– The Commonwealth does the work, and it takes care to charge to the States the expenditure, so that ultimately they have to pay for the work, whether the Commonwealth makes the payment in the first instance or not.
– How many Custom-house clerks would be dispensed with if the bookkeeping system were abolished ?
– Not one !
– The Minister is quite out in his reckoning.
– We would get the information for statistical purposes even if we didaway with the bookkeeping system.
– If the honorable senator will reflect for a moment he will find that when the system was completely ended it would be possible to abolish the border Custom-houses.
– They are abolished now.
– No. The sav ings that would take place through the abolition of the bookkeeping system would, I think, run into a few thousand pounds. The honorable senator, who talks about 300,000 entries being dispensed with, and it still being necessary to keep up the same number of clerks, ought to reflect for a moment.
– We would not dispense with them. We should have to keep the accounts.
– Surely the Minister cannot quite understand the position.
– I understand sufficient to know that we cannot do away with the entries.
– There is another point to which I desire to refer, and that is the returning to the States of three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise duties. Frequently we hear a discussion on the subject of the return of this proportion, and it is assumed that because the Commonwealth returns something over the proportion it is unduly generous. I wish to point out very emphatically that the Constitution does not empower the Commonwealth to limit its return to the threefourths. The wording of section 87 has nothing to do with the amount returned. It says that not more than one-fourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure, and that the balance shall be paid to the several States. The Commonwealth must not in any circumstances spend more than one-fourth, therefore it must return to the States not less than three-fourths. That seems tobe overlooked by a good many persons, who imagine that three-fourths is the sum which the Commonwealth ought to return, and that as long as the States get threefourths they may very well be satisfied.
– The Commonwealth Treasurer overlooks that, and is taking credit to himself because he has not spent moremoney.
– We could have spent more.
– The Treasurer appears to think that if the Government do not spend the whole of the one-fourth they are entitled to take credit. Mr. Harper in his paper on the Budget is very emphatic. He says -
The fact that the Commonwealth has thus restricted its outlay and passed to the States nearly one million per annum in excess of what the Constitution requires, should set at rest, once and for all, the erroneous allegations which have been made. Unfortunately, this considerate action on the part of the Commonwealth Parliament has apparently led, on the part of the States, to demands, not only for the return to them of the three-fourths fixed by the Braddon clause, but to their claiming as much more as they can possibly set, with the result that prac- tically Federal finance, which ought to be independent and free, is criticised and found fault with in the interests of what are considered to be States obligations, and these expectations and claims tend to complicate the settlement on equitable terms of the future financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth respectively.
I beg to dissent from that view. The Commonwealth is bound to be as economical as it can be, and to return every penny of its surplus to the States ; but under no circumstances must it spend more than onefourth of the Customs and Excise revenue. Some little time ago, within three or four months of the constitutional time for the permanent bookkeeping system to end, I felt that the subject should1 be looked into. I did look into it, and came to the conclusion that the circumstances were such that it would be possible this year to ‘terminate the bookkeeping’ (system. When I say that I came to the conclusion, I mean with some consideration for the special treatment required by Western Australia. I found that my own State would be called upon to make an immediate sacrifice; but, on close study, T found that the sacrifice was largely more or less, imaginary.
– It was no sacrifice at all, then?
– That is so. On examining the figures, I found that the trend of the returns for the years 1902-6 was very encouraging. A distribution on a population basis in the year 1902-3 would have taken £400,000 from New South Wales, and given £199,000 to Victoria, which equalled a change in the position of those States of £599,000; while the estimates for the year 1905-6 reduced this total to £144,000. That reduction, with general buoyant revenues, in the States, seems to me to make the adjustment fairly easy. The other States also showed close approximations to this result. The figures which I have given did not include those for Western Australia. That State showed a less glaring difference. In 1901-2, a per capita distribution would have taken from Western Australia ,£658,000, but a per capita distribution in 1905-6 would have taken only £428,000 ; showing in that direction also some approach to a fair level. I ha.ve said that Western Australia should have some special treatment. I have looked into the matter of the population of Western Australia from this point of view, and I wish to give the Senate a few figures which bear out what I say. They are somewhat remarkable. We all know that the male population of Western Australia is larger than its female population, but how much larger it is few people know. I have made a calculation of the proportion of males above fifteen and under sixty-five per 100,000 of the population at the census of 1901. The figures are - New. South Wales, 32,000; Victoria, 30,000; Queensland, 35,000; South Australia, 31,000; Western Australia, 46,000 ; Tasmania, 31,000 - average for the Commonwealth, 32,000. These figures show that Western Australia is 44 per cent, above the average, and 48 per cent, above the average of South Australia and Tasmania. But a more marked difference still is found by taking the proportion of males above twenty-one and under fifty, which I think may be accepted as the period when money can be earned most freely. The proportion of males above twenty-one and under fifty per 100,000 of the population at the census of 1 901 was in New South Wales, 22,000; Victoria, 21,000; Queensland, 25,000; South Australia, 21,000; Western Australia, 38,000; Tasmania, 21,000 - average, 23,000; showing that in Western Australia the average is 65 per cent, above that in the Commonwealth generally, while it is no less than 80 per cent, above the average in South Australia and Tasmania. Of course, I am not able to give the figures for the present time. There is no doubt that the excess in the West is not so high now as it was in the census year. Taking the figures for the census year, and bearing in mind that there is some change since then, honorable senators will realize that the position in’ West- ern Australia is such that she can imperatively call upon us for special treatment. Then I notice that- had the male population between twenty-one and fifty years of age actually in Western Australia at the census been surrounded by a population on the average of the population existing in Australia generally, her aggregate population of 184,000 would have been 303,000. Those figures, I think, make it fairly clear that the claim which Western Australia puts forward, and which I recognise - which I think we all recognise - for special treatment, is based upon sound and indisputable grounds. After a close examination of the bookkeeping matter, I noticed the . much larger postal revenue that exists in Victoria and New South Wales, and I came to the conclusion - it struck me at once - that we could not abolish the book-keeping system without uniformity of postage; and that practically the adoption of a penny postage rate was involved in the abolition of bookkeeping. It is true that we might impose twopenny postage instead of the present rate in. Victoria,but in view of the fact that the trend throughout the Empire is towards the penny standard, I think it will be recognised that public policy and the wishes of the people generally will tend towards the adoption for the whole Commonwealth of the rate which now exists in the State of Victoria. Therefore, I found that to abolish the system of book-keeping we should have to establish penny postage. The smaller States, it appears to me, cannot afford penny postage without the abolition of the book-keeping system. With the abolition of that system they can afford it. Since I published an estimate some few weeks ago, honorable senators are aware that the financial proposals of the Government for the year have been put forward. Included in them is a calculation with reference to the proposal for the adoption of penny postage. The following are the figures of the estimated loss which will arise in the various States: - New South Wales, £51,000; Victoria, £12,000; Queensland, £22,000 ; South Australia, £20,000; Western Australia, £16,500; Tasmania, £13,000; total, £135,000 for nine months. My own estimate, published some six weeks ago, was £160,000 loss for the twelve months ; so that there is not a great difference between my estimate and that of the Government. I put down the losses of the several States as follows: - New South Wales, £75,000; Victoria, £15,000; Queensland, £20,000; South Australia, £20,000; Western Australia, £15,000; Tasmania, £15,000. I notice that Mr. Harper, in his memorandum, fails to recognise the necessity for the abolition of the book-keeping system if penny postage is adopted, although he is not opposed to penny postage. He evidently does not see the point.
– I fail to see the connexion between the two.
– I am very much astonished. How could we have uniformity in trade without a uniform tariff?
– We have uniformity in trade now.
– We have, through the adoption of a uniform Tariff. We can only have uniformity in postage rates by the adoption of one rate for the whole Commonwealth ; and Senator Playford must surely see that it is not at all likely that if we abolished the bookkeeping system the other States would be willing to carry Victorian letters when the people of that State paid, within their State, half the rate that was being paid in the other States. It would not be fair. It is fair under the bookkeeping system, but it would not be fair under a per capita arrangement.
– The penny rate prevails only in Victoria now.
– That is so; it is purely a Victorian matter. What I proposed was that we should give Western Australia a fixed sum which, with the per capita allowance, would equal the sum she gets at present. I found that Western Australia would require a fixed sum of £446,000.
– Would the honorable senator propose to continue the payment of that sum for an indefinite period ?
– I would propose to make it reducible by one-tenth every year, or, what I think would be better still, to re-examine the accounts every two or three years, and vary the amounts as occasion required. Dividing the whole of the surplus per capita - that is the whole of the surplus after the special payment had been made - amongst the six States, the result would be that New South Wales would have £229,000 less with penny postage; Victoria £76,000 less; Queensland£59,000 more, and penny postage; South Australia, £81,000 more, with penny postage; and Tasmania £26,000 more, with penny postage.
– That is allowing £446,000 the first year?
– Yes. Western Australia would have the same sum as before, adding the per capita amount and the fixed sum, and £26,000 would be her share of the loss under penny postage.
– That means that New South Wales would have to pay for the smaller States?
– If the representatives of New South Wales do not object, I do not see why the Minister of Defence should.
– I find that the final returns for 1905-6 vary those calculations. For one thing, the returns show that Western Australia would not need «o large a fixed sum. Honorable senators, especially those from the West, are aware that the revenue of that State has fallen . somewhat during the last few years, so that the fixed sum would not need to be so high as I have reckoned.
– In calculating the loss, has the honorable senator taken into consideration that it is largely due to the reduction under the special Tariff provision ?
– I do. not consider the special Tariff in any way in making these calculations.
– But in calculating as to the postage rate, the special Tariff must !be reckoned with?
– Do I understand t!hat these calculations are quite outside the special Tariff.
– The calculations are quite outside the special Tariff ; but, at the same time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the loss of that special Tariff makes greater the claim to special treatment to which I refer. The Estimates for 1906-7, which have been issued within the last ten days, make a considerable difference in -the position. Those Estimates include calculations based on a penny postage; and there has been issued a special table based on a distribution of the surplus that it is estimated will be found to exist at the end of the present year, amongst the various States, excluding Westtern Australia. The table shows that should the estimated revenue for this year be received, and should it be distributed per capita, New South Wales would lose £296,000, Victoria would gain £6,000, Queensland would gain £113,000, South Australia would gain £110,000, and Tasmania, would gain £66,000.
– That is altogether excluding Western Australia ?
– Certainly. The difference made in the position of New South Wales is remarkable. To ask New South Wales to surrender practically £300,000, to divide amongst the other States is a “ big order “ ; but the matter requires looking into. In my opinion, it is safer to rely on the actual figures of 1905- 6, rather than on the Estimates for 1906- 7. The Estimates show an expected increase from Customs and Excise of £211,000, of which sum no less than £170,000 -is credited to New South Wales, leaving only £41,000 as the expected in* crease in the whole of the other five States. That very remarkable fact is the explanation of the question which I put to the Minister yesterday, as to the basis on which the Customs and Excise calculations for the current year are based. It seems to me very remarkable that the Treasurer, in an expected increase of £211,000, should look for- £170,000 from the one State of New South Wales.
– Does the Treasurer give any reason why he expects that discrepancy ?
– No ; there has been no public statement made. When I looked closely into the matter of expenditure, I found to my surprise that New South Wales is contributing per capita towards the defences of Australia, less than any one of the other five States. I suppose honorable senators are rather surprised at that statement.” On the Estimates for 1905-6, I made the calculation that, dividing the whole of the expenditure on defences for that year per 100,000 of the population, the New South Wales charge would equal £18,108, the Victorian charge would equal ,£21,594, the Queensland charge £22,678, that of South Australia £18,994, Western Australia £18,634, and Tasmania £18,542.
– What does the honorable senator include - new works, such as forts?
– I take the total defence expenditure as given on page 31 of the accounts for the year 1905-6. The total is -^804,000, anc! honorable senators will see that there is something wrong from the fact that, although New South Wales is so much the larger State, the charge against her is only £7,000 more than against Victoria.
– I thought the honorable senator made .out just now that the charge against New South Wales was less than that against Victoria?
– I make this calculation as per 100,000 of the people; I place all on the one level, so that anybody who cares to look at the figures may see the difference at a glance. The highest payment per 100,000 of the people was made by Queensland, namely, £22.67^8, while the lowest was made by New South
Wales, namely, £18,108. When I look at’ the Defence Estimates for the current year and examine the figures given on page 34, I find that the debit against New South Wales is £297,000, and that, if the distribution were on a per capita basis, New South Wales would be debited with £28,000 more. Victoria is debited with £278,000, but on a per capita basis, that State would be > debited with only £26.1:, 000, or £17,000 less. Queensland is debited on the Estimates with £133,000, while her per capita share would- be only £1.14,000, or £19,000 less. I shall not give the full figures for the other States, but merely say that South Australia is debited with £6,000 short, Western Australia with £2,000 short, and Tasmania with £2,000 over. We’ have here the partly-unnoticed effects of the gradual changing proportion of population. Honorable senators know, I suppose, that New South Wales is now entitled to an additional ‘ member in another place, and that, according to the very full .figures which have been furnished? the percentage of the New South Wales population is gradually rising. But the defence arrangements being continued on the same basis as prior to Federation, the difference to which I have referred) is gradually increasing. While in the years 1901-6, New South Wales paid short of her average about £60,000, that State, according to the Estimates now before Parliament, is to be charged, in this one year alone, £28,000 short. That is one factor which indicates that a movement iri the direction of a per capita distribution is not so unfair to New South Wales as might appear on the surface. I desire to draw attention to what is going on in connexion with the transfer of goods from one State to another. This is a matter that is worth tL little quiet study. Every year, in certain of the smaller States, the collection of Customs, revenue on the spot is decreasing, and credits are increasing for goods transferred from other States. That means that those smaller States are becoming more and more dependent on the other States. In the year 1902-3, Queensland was credited1, in this; connexion, with £115,000, the next year with £159,000, the next year with £176,000, and last year with £214,000. I should like to refer to a newspaper cutting which I have here. It appears that two or three years ago, Sir George Turner, when he was
Treasurer, was anxious to bring to an end the bookkeeping system, and thought he might make some arrangement for giving a lump sum to the States in lieu of monthly credits. Sir George Turner proposed to Mr. Kidston, the Premier of Queensland, that the latter should accept £125,000 a year, but Mr. Kidston; pointed out that the amount which Queensland was receiving was largely growing, and that if he accepted £125,000 his State would very likely be a good deal out of pocket. When I say that the amount for Queensland last year on goods transferred from other States was £214,000, honorable senators will see that that Stare would have been £90,000 out of pocket had the arrangement suggested a few years ago bySir George Turner been accepted by her. Ibr the State of South Australia the annual credits for the last four years have been ,£2:1,000, £21.000, £28,000, and £37,000. For Western Australia the annual credits during the four years have been £38,000, £90,000, £129,000, and £136,000. In the State of Tasmania the annual credits have been £98,000, £107,000, £101,000, and last year £113,000. The credits to these’ States are,” of course, balanced by debits to the States of New South Wales and Victoria.
– Naturally they are the big distributing States.
– Whether ‘ for good or evil, as regards the whole of the Commonwealth, honorable senators will see that our fiscal policy tends to a lessening of the Customs revenue in the smaller States. The bases of the matter are altogether hidden in mystery, and I am not going to attempt to estimate what the various States lose by receiving goods which are manufactured in other States rather than by receiving goods from other countries from which they would obtain revenue in the shape of Customs duties.
– ‘Not merely manufactured, but also grown.
– Just so. I refer to goods locally produced in every way. I do not here raise the question of protection at all. What takes place may be good for the Commonwealth as a whole, but what we have to look at to-day in regard to our fiscal policy is its bearing on the question of a -per ca-pita distribution of revenue - whether it be wise or unwise that we should adopt a system which tends to deplete the revenue of the smaller States and to unduly raise the revenue of the larger States. Does not what I have stated raise a very strong argument in favour of the per capita distribution? There is another factor which should be borne in mind. I observe that in the two States chiefly interested in the transfer of goods, Queensland and Tasmania, the aggregate actual receipts, Customs and Excise, and including also transfers to which I have referred, seem to be falling off, whilst generally in the Commonwealth that is not the position. Here are the aggregates of the last four years for Queensland : For 1902-3, £1,261,000; 1903-4, £1,132,000; 1904-5, £1,095,000; and last year, £1,183,000, showing an’ increase on the previous year. For this year the estimate indicates an expectation of receipts to the value only of £1,1.50,000, a drop of £111,000 on the amount which was received four years ago, notwithstanding a considerable increase of population, and, I think, also of prosperity in the interval. In the State of Tasmania, in 1902-3, the Customs receipts were £361,000, “and those receipts gradually fell in the .three following years to £342, 000, £33i,°00> and £326,000, and for the year on which we have now entered the Treasurer expects about the same low rate from Tasmania as last year, namely, £327,000. I ask myself whether there is anything the matter with these States which indicates a general retrogression, and which would lead us to expect that their Customs receipts should fall in this way. I turn to the postage receipts, and I find that in Queensland and Tasmania the receipts from the sale of postage stamps has increased at least as fast as in the other States. That being so, I come to the conclusion that there should have been some increase in the Customs receipts of those States in fair ordinary circumstances, just as there has been in the case of the other States of the Commonwealth.
– It shows that importation is giving place to local production.
– Then there is another matter» which bears very strongly on the basis on which revenue should be distributed. Honorable senators will grant that if revenue is distributed in some fair relation to the wealth of the community that would not be an unfair distribution.
– I should prefer to take a little from the wealthy and give it to the poor.
– Yet the honorable senator is supporting the continuance of a policy which has exactly the reverse effect, and it is the poorer States which the Government are treating in a meagre way. T direct attention to returns made public quite recently of production in New South Wales and Victoria. In 1904 the value of the production of primary and manufacturing industries combined in the State of Victoria totalled 31.7 millions sterling, and in New South Wales they totalled 39.4 millions. The value per head of population amounted to £26 4s. 3d. for Victoria, and £27 4s. 7d. for New South Wales. If New South Wales is making more money per head than Victoria, should we not expect to find some larger return in her revenue, and should we not be prepared to see her paying under a per capita arrangement some larger amount than she would pay under the existing system ? Taking the returns for last year, which, so far as Victoria is concerned, were made publiconly yesterday, the value of the production of the primary and manufacturing industries in that State for 1905 is estimated at 34 millions sterling, whilst the value of the productions of the primary and manufacturing industries of New South’ Wales for last year is estimated at 46.7 millions sterling.
– A large proportion of that increase is due to the increase .in the wool production of New South Wales.
– Undoubtedly; but whatever be the source, it is there. Whether a man has a sovereign in his pocket the product of wool or the product of potatoes, it is equally there to spend. The value per head of production in Victoria last year is given as £27 19s. 6d., whilst for New South Wales it stands at £31 1 1 si. 4d. In other words, in 1904, there was an excess of £1 os. 4d. per head in New South Wales, whilst for last year it was given as £3 ns. iod. These figures may not be quite accurate, but I think it is fair to assume that there’ is a larger, and perhaps a” materially larger, earning of wealth per head of population in New South Wales, ‘and if that be so, will that State refuse to recognise the fact in matters of revenue “and expenditure? I think not. ‘ ‘ ‘ >
– She will be actuated by the generous spirit of her senators.
– No, no. The honorable senator must not say that. I wish tobe fair and just. I think it is theduty of every one of us to remember that we are members of the Commonwealth Parliament, and not to forget what is involved in the word “ Commonwealth.” Each one of us should seek to do what is right by other people. If a man picks up a sovereign belonging to some one else, he wishes to restore it at once, and if I find myself in possession of any information which calls for a re-arrangement of different charges, it is my bounden duty to make public that information. Referring to Coghlan’s figures, showing the value of property and income per inhabitant, published in his book for 1903-4, when things were generally less prosperous than they are now, I find that he puts the value of property and amount of income in New South Wales at higher than in the other States. That again, to some extent, explains what appears to be asomewhat material discrepancy in the return as to the greater amount provided by that State. I have another set of figures, which I should like to give honorable senators if they will bear with me. I quote from page 47 of the Treasurer’s statement for the year 1905-6. I wish to direct attention to the percentages of the receipts and expenditure in the various States. It is a remarkable thing that, whilst in New South Wales and Victoria the percentage of receipts is in excess of the percentage of expenditure, in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania the percentage of expenditure is greater than the percentage of receipts. For New South Wales the accounts show receipts 36.55, as against expenditure, 34.97; an excess of receipts amounting to 1.58. For Victoria, receipts 27.90, expenditure 26.65 ; an excess of receipts amounting to 1.25. For Queensland receipts 13.13, expenditure 15.39; an excess of expenditure amounting’ to 2.26. In South Australia, the. percentage of receipts is 8.37, and of expenditure 9.47, showing an excess of 1,10 in expenditure. In Western Australia, the percentage of receipts is 10.25,andof expenditure 9.2.2, showing an excess of 1.03 in receipts. ‘ In Tasmania, the percentage of receipts is 3.80, and of expenditure 4.30. showing an excess of 0.50 in expenditure. In ‘ the’ smaller States, except Western Australia, the expenditure is larger, relatively, than, the receipts.
– Do those figures include both new and transferred expenditure?
– The figures include all the expenditure under the Commonwealth. I have also some figuredwhich represent calculations of my own, based upon figures given on page 36 of the Accounts of Expenditure for 1905-6.. These - figures are, I think, remarkable. The estimated expenditure per head is asfollows : - New South Wales, £11s. 3d. ; Victoria, £10s. 3d. ; Queensland, £1 6s. 9d. ; South Australia, £1 3s.11d. ;. and Tasmania, £1 2s. 3d. ; showing that the expenditure per head is very much larger in the smaller States than in thelarger States. After deducting the expenditure, there was left on those accounts the following balance of revenue : - New South Wales, £1 13s. 3d. ; Victoria,. £111s. 6d. ; Queensland, £1 7s. 9d. ; South Australia,£1 6s. ; and Tasmania,. £1 7s. 2d.
– The smaller Statesare very close together.
– Yes ; and thelarger States are close together, but bothare on a different level. The larger Stateshave a higher amount, the smaller Stateshave a lower amount. These figures I put forward, as I think it must be selfevident to honorable senators, as further evidence of the fairness of a general per capita method of distribution.
– What is the expenditure for Western Australia?
– I have not thefigures for Western Australia, which comesunder a different sort of heading.
– Western Australiaupsets thehonorable senator’s calculations.
– No. We all know that Western Australia is in. a different position. I have already given morefigures than I care to use, and I do not. wish to unnecessarily load my statement. In his accounts, Sir John Forrest proposes to pay a fixed sum. He proposes that the bookkeeping system shall be terminated, not at the end of this year, but in 1910.’
– At the end of theBraddon period.
– The Treasurer proposes to terminate the bookkeeping system and the Braddon section together, and he proposes to terminate the former by adopting a calculation based upon the receipts of years yet to come - that is, the five years ending 1910. It is obvious that all sorts of things might happen in the interval. There will be, I suppose, a continuation of this movement between the States. I think that honorable senators would hesitate very much before they decided to accept a fixed sum based upon the payments for years, which would be far ahead, and during which all sorts of things might happen, when certain States might have a large accession of revenue, and other States might suffer considerably. The idea that is behind this proposal for the payment of a fixed sum is, I think, a mistaken one. I do not like the scheme, because I do ‘ not think it . is fair. If we adopt a fixed sum for any given time, every State will be suspicious, and will examine the payment it receives in comparison with the fixed sums paid to other States. No doubt, if its population should increase more rapidly than that of other States, it will say, “ Our fixed sum is not fair.” The system would give rise to a great deal of the element of uncertainty which now pertains to the PaY. ments, and which makes the States dissatisfied with Federal finance.
– A. series of bad seasons would upset all the calculations.
– It is the strongest argument in favour of the bookkeeping system.
– I prefer the bookkeeping system as against a fixed sum perhaps, but not as against a per capita system. Fixed sums perpetuate strife and uncertainty. That I think would be the case, and I ask honorable senators to reflect. It is desirable that we should keep in our mind the strong distinction between accounts that represent business and accounts that represent1 pure government. It is here, I think, that Mr. Harper has gone wrong. His proposals with regard to business seem to me most extraordinary, but I do not wish to go into the question of States - debts, as it does not enter into the consideration of this motion. a Mr. Harper’s scheme is a good one so far as he proposes to terminate the bookkeeping system at once. He advocates that it shall ter minate upon a calculation based upon the receipts for some years which have elapsed, but the plan is surrounded by, and depends upon, such remarkable proposals that I think they are really out of court, and cannot be considered. The injustice that would be perpetrated by his proposals with regard . to some States make them too ludicrous almost to talk about. He suggests the talking over of all the debts quite apart from the assets. I find that Queensland has one mile of railway to every 172 of her people, while New South Wales has only one mile of railway to every 420 of her people. How can we amalgamate the debts when we do not amalgamate the assets? I do not desire to detain the Senate much longer, but I wish to quote two extracts from a letter from Mr. John Henry, of Tasmania, who was a member of the Federal Convention. Writing to me on the subject of my paper published a few weeks ago, he says -
I am strongly in sympathy with your aim in endeavouring to end this most un federal arrangement, on the expiry of the five years’ period. I am surprised that the traders of Australia should have suffered the infliction for so long, without a hot protest against it. It is a mockery to say that we have free-trade within the Commonwealth, while those worrying InterState certificates are required with every pair of gloves or shoes passing ‘ from one State to another.
In the same letter he says -
The gross injustice that is increasing so rapidly, of one State securing such a forge share of the trade of another State in manufactured goods, thereby seriously reducing the Customs revenue of the importing State and enriching the manufacturers of: the exporting State - this rendered possible through the protective policy of the Federal Parliament. If you look into the figures of imports from Vic-, toria into Tasmania, you will see how we are suffering through this, and must suffer more year by year while this bookkeeping arrangement lasts.
In view of what has been disclosed by the accounts bearing upon the adjustment of revenue, and of the varying degrees of expansion in the different States, the proposal for the payment of a lump sum, I submit, is not fair to the smaller States. We have, I think, great need of simplicity in the P federal accounts. There is abroad a great feeling of uncertainty, and, to my mind, the adoption of a per capita system of payment would commend itself. I feel that justice would be done to all the States, including New, South . Wales, by the adoption, of the method. ‘ , ‘
– Excepting Western Australia ?
– With’ that exception, of course.
– The Constitution would not allow us to make an exception of Western Australia.
– It empowers this Parliament to arrange for a payment. I move -
That all the words after the word “That,” line 1, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ It is desirable that the present system of dealing with revenue and expenditure known as the bookkeeping system, should terminate, as permitted by the Constitution, five years after the date when uniform duties were imposed, with, however, due allowance for a limited period to the special circumstances of Western Australia.
That this Senate recognises that the abolition of the bookkeeping system involves uniformity of postage throughout the Commonwealth.”
I shall not proceed with the last sentence in my amendment as printed, in view of the intimation of the President, courteously conveyed to me, that it is a little out of order.
– Does the honorable senator intend to add to his amendment words to carry out his suggestion as to special treatment to Western Australia?
– No. It is not necessary for me to do so. It is quite sufficient for me to prove the necessity for it, as I think I have done, and to ask the Senate to do what is essential towards Western Australia.
– The honorable senator’s idea is to have a sliding scale for ten years ?
– Something of that sort. I thank honorable senators for their patience in listening to me in dealing with a matter which has been exceedingly dry. But’ it is one in which is wrapped up a subject of very great importance. We are, perhaps, in this Parliament, dealing too much with matters of minor consequence, which, when looked at fifty years hence, will appear very small in comparison with this subject, which is of very great importance indeed. Federation was accomplished largely with the view of bringing about free and uninterrupted trade and intercourse between the people oi Australia ; and it is with the object of securing that absolute freedom that I have made my statement, and submitted the amendment which I have the honour to move.
– I think that Senator O’Keefe, who has brought forward the motion now under discussion, is to be congratulated on having introduced a subject which is of special interest to the Commonwealth. There is no doubt that, having a bad case, he has made the very best of it. We can also congratulate Senator Pulsford upon the exceedingly informative and educational speech which he has made this afternoon.
– We congratulate ourselves on having heard it.
– We can congratulate ourselves; Senator Pulsford deserves our thanks for the time and trouble which he has devoted to working out the figures which he has quoted, and for giving us the results of his investigations. I agree with him that we are, perhaps, devoting too much attention to some questions which are of very small consequence; and I certainly agree with him that many urgent questions are receiving but little attention from Parliament, and from the Government. Representing as I do the State which is looked upon by all parties - even by the mover of the motion - as one die conditions of which are exceptional, and as as disturbing factor in Federal finance, I naturally take a somewhat different view from the speakers who have preceded me. In the first place, I object to a per capita system of distribution of a general character, which would include the State of Western Australia, because of the manifest unfairness of such a proposal. In the second place, I object to the amendment of Senator Pulsford, for the reason that it places Western Australia in the position of a poor relation, to whom a grant in aid must be made, although the money would be contributed by the taxpayers of Western Australia. The honorable senator admitted that the only constitutional way in which his view could be met would be by making a grant to Western Australia, that money having previously been contributed by the: taxpayers of the State. . Another objection, which has been emphasized by the speeches to which we h’ave listened, isthe want of information to enable us to arrive at a determination just and equitable, not only to Western Australia, but to the other States. ‘ The latter seems tome to be the ‘strongest objection. In- my own State, prior to Federation, we had a Federal party and an an:i-Federal party. In the State Parliament the anti-Federal party predominated. They appointed a Commission to investigate the position in which Western Australia would be placed as the result of Federation. That Commission took all the evidence which it was possible to get- evidence from the State Treasury officials, from statisticians, and other authorities. I remember that one of the conclusions of the Commission was that Federation would mean a loss to the revenue of Western Australia in the first year of £300,000. We all know how that prediction has been falsified. Not only has not Federation meant a loss to the revenue of Western Australia, but it has resulted in a very large gain. We see, therefore, the danger of proceeding upon information which is not full and complete.
– Did the Commission take into account the special Tariff?
– They did not know what the Tariff was going to be. The disturbing factor in their calculations was the lack of information as to the duties that would be imposed by the Federal Parliament.
– Did they not base their calculation on a per capita system, instead of on the bookkeeping system?
– No; upon the bookkeeping, system, which at that time had been provided for in the Constitution. The Commission sat after the Constitution had been drawn up, and before it was submitted to the people. Therefore, they knew about the bookkeeping system and the special Tariff.
– They did not know what kind of Tariff would be proposed.
– No, they did not. Senator O’Keefe, in his speech, made allowance for the position of Western Australia, but the motion proposed by him makes no such allowance. Let me tell the Senate what the result would be if this motion were to be adopted and put into operation by Parliament. Taking the figures for the years 1905-6, as. given in the Budget
Da.pers recently laid before Parliament bv thd Treasurer, I find that if this proposal had been in actual operation in that year, Western Australia would have lost £.^5,808. When we remember that trie State of Western Australia, has to face a deficit in her State finances of £119,000, we can realize that an additional loss of £330,000 would strike a very heavy blow at her stability.
– It would force on a land tax.
– It would do more - it would force her into bankruptcy. The Western Australian Treasurer to-day is doing what the Tasmanian Treasurer should have done long ago. He has brought in a stiff land tax to meet the deficit in the State finances.
– We have a land tax in Tasmania.
– It is a mere bagatelle compared with the tax proposed in Western Australia, which amounts to 2d. in the £1 on the unimproved value. That is higher than any other such tax in existence in Australia.
– It has not been levied yet.
– The people’s representatives ir the Lower House are prepared to levy it.
– In Tasmania the land tax has been levied for four years.
– That is an insignificant tax of only Jd. in the £1.
– Going up to jd. in the £1.
– In the great bulk of cases, it operates only to the extent of £d. in the £1. The honorable senator who interjects was a member of a Ministry in Tasmania that lost its posi-tion by endeavouring to set the finances straight by imposing sufficient taxation; and it seems to me that before Tasmania comes to Western Australia, and asks her to consent to lose £300,000 - of which Tasmania would get her share - she should make: an endeavour to get at some of the taxation which is still in the pockets of her people.
– Tasmania does not ask Western Australia for £300,000.
– The motion of the honorable senator does. His proposal is that that sum shall be cut up amongst the States’, and Tasmania will get her share. ‘
– Did I not suggest that a special allowance should be made for Western Australia?
– The honorable senator may have done that in his speech, but his motion does not say sp. We have to discuss the terms of the motion, not the charitable intentions of the honorable senator who moves it. Senator Pulsford has gone fully into the question of what would be the result .if Western Australia were excluded from the per capita system, and the Budget papers show that, even if Western .Australia were excluded, one State, New South Wales, would lose £184,520. In looking through the valuable and informative tables circulated with the Budget, I have been much struck by the fact that we really have not sufficient information to enable us to come to a sound- conclusion on this matter. We have no information as to what would probably be the effect within the next few years. It seems to me that the wisest course would be to continue the bookkeeping system for another five years, at any rate. Then the “ Braddon blot “ will have to be dealt with, and we shall have five years’ additional information to guide us.
– Why call it a “blot” ? It is a great injustice to the late Sir Edward Braddon to do so.
– I am simply using a term which” I dare say the honorable senator had something to do with originating.
– No; it was coined in New South Wales by Mr. Reid.
– Senator Pulsford’s figures point to the conclusion that there have been factors at work in the various States that have not yet reached finality. We cannot even say that we have reached finality in reference to the distributing centres of our trade. Whether Sydney land Melbourne (will- eventually continue to be the great distributing centres for the Commonwealth we do not know. The figures seem to show that a process of change is going on. In a young country like Australia there are constantly disturbing factors. The discovery of new gold-fields may entirely alter the balance of trade and of population. Therefore the Commonwealth will be wise to go slowly in this important matter.
– That is an argument against a fixed sum being paid.
– It is an argument in favour of the bookkeeping system being continued until we get fuller information.
– It is an argument against a rule of thumb system.
– For that reason, I am opposed to a sliding scale, which has all the defects I have indicated. We have nothing on which we can justly base a sliding scale for terminating the bookkeeping period for Western Australia, or, for that matter, for any other State. In this connexion, I desire to point out that, according to the Budget Papers, page 83, the loss and decline in revenue that would have accrued to Western Australia if the per capita system had been adopted from the first, has not been uniform. In the year 1 901-2, if the per capita system had been in force, Western Australia would have lost £656,000, whereas in the next year she would have lost £579,834 In the next year, Western Australia would have lost ,£453,000, and in the following year £425,000. In the last year there would have been a difference of only about ,£28,000, whereas in the two previous years there would have been a drop of £100,000 and ,£80,000 respectively. It will be seen, therefore, that the drop has not been uniform, and that a sliding scale, based on the experience of the last five years, would be’ absolutely unreliable. Senator O’Keefe attempted to justify the motion on the ground that the Commonwealth Government in 1904-5 inaugurated a system of per capita distribution of expenditure. As the honorable senator rightly pointed out, Western Australia, as a newly-settled State, the developments of which have been largely confined to the last sixteen years, was in a backward condition, so far as concerns public works, and the Government had to ask Parliament for a larger sum for public works in the transferred Departments than was required in the other States. The result of a per capita distribution of expenditure is ‘that Western Australia gets much more than what may be regarded as her share. But while that is so, if .’honorable senators will turn to the figures, they will admit that it would be scarcely right, in order to rectify a wrong, by which Western Australia has, during the last five years, gained less than £100,000, to inflict another wrong, by which that State would lose over .£1,000,000 in that period. If the -per capita system of expenditure is wrong, and so inequitable in the opinion of Parliament that it should be abolished, by all means let us end it, and go back to the other system by which each State is debited with the expenditure on new works and with “ other “ expenditure. Such a system would certainly be more just to Western Australia than to seek to rectify a balance of £100,000 by taking from the taxpayers of that State over £.1,000,000 in five years.
– But that loss would not be experienced in years to come.
– The loss would be experienced in less than five years to come, because this year there would be a loss of £400,000, followed next year by a further loss of £300,000, so that in the three years we should reach the £1,000,000.
– My proposal is that the per capita system should commence now, or within a few months. The honorable senator is arguing about the £1,000,000 which Western Australia would have Jost in the past five years - a loss which I admit.
– And there would be ai similar loss in the next five years.
– Not according to the figures.
– My figures show that there would be such a loss in the next five years if -the per capita system in regard to expenditure were continued ; that is to say, Western Australia would lose £1,000,000 on the revenue side, for the sake of a’ gain of £100,000 on the expenditure side.
– The honorable senator is contending that the discrepancy in the consuming power of the people will continue for the next five years.
– I am contending that we are not in a position to say what would happen - that the experience of the past five years furnishes no safe basis on which1 to estimate what the disproportion will be in the future.
– There is a gradual and steady coming down to the figures of the other States.
– I am afraid the honorable senator has not been listening, or he would know that the decline in the five years has not been gradual. In one year’ the drop amounted to £100,000, in another year to £80,000, and in a third year to only £27,000.
– But there was a drop every year.
– Yes; but not a gradual or -equal drop ; and, therefore, I say that the experience of- the past few years is an unsafe basis. In any_ case, while some States mav have reason to complain, Tasmania has none. Up to the present time - taking into account the amount on the present Esti mates - Tasmania has received £769 more than she would have been entitled to if the expenditure had been on a per capita basis. Tasmania, at any rate, has not suffered; and if Western Australia has gained, it has not been at the expense of Tasmania, but at the expense of other States.
– At the expense of Victoria and New South Wales.
– Victoria and New South Wales have gained in added trade.
– And I think we all have a right to be satisfied, because we are doing very well.
– Then leave well alone.
– The figures which I gave as showing the amount actually expended and the amount debited, are Treasury figures.
– If I may say so, I think the honorable senator has fallen into an error in this matter. The figures given> in the Budget papers show that the figures quoted by the honorable senator were estimates of expenditure. What Tasmania has been debited with are not estimates of expenditure, but the amounts actually expended.
– I asked the Treasury for a return as to the actual amounts expanded, and debited to Tasmania.
– Does the honorable senator say that the amounts certified to by the Auditor-General as having actually been expended, have not been expended ?
– There is a difference between my figures and those of the honorable senator.
– The figures I am quoting are not estimates, but the actual expenditure in the States, and they do not bear out the figures laid before us by Senator O’Keefe. I think the Treasury officials must have misunderstood what the honorable senator was asking for. The honorable senator told us that Tasmania, in 1902, was debited with a total expenditure of £158,000, while the actual expenditure was only £149,000.
– Hear; hear.
– As a matter of fact, according to page 37 of the Budg.it papers, Tasmania, in that year, was debited with only £147,000.
– There is a difference between the Budget papers of this year and the Budget papers of last vear.
– The ‘ honorable senator also told us that in 1902-3, Tasmania was credited with £154,000, while the amount expended was only £140,000. As a matter of fact, according to the Budget papers, the actual expenditure was £154,000.
– I am not disputing those figures; but I say that my figures were taken from the documents of last vear, and it is not my fault if there is a mistake. . ‘
– As we all know, the estimates generally exceed the amounts expended’. For instance, last year we passed a vote of some thousands of pounds in connexion with the Fremantle post office, but, as a matter of fact, that money has not been expended, and the vote has lapsed. I suppose that on the Estimates for this year that’ vote will reappear.
– Hear, hear.
– At the same time Western Australia was debited with £10,000 last year, while the actual expenditure was only £2,000.
– Surely when I ask for the figures as to the actual expenditure, I should be able to get them from the Treasury officials. If there be a mistake, it is not mine.
– I think a mistake has been made. So far from Tasmania having suffered’, that State has received the amounts given in the Budget papers. Then Senator O’Keefe, in support of his motion, quoted the utterances of several speakers at the various Federal Conventions. But what possible value can the opinions of those speakers have as applied to the present financial position? We admit to-day that we have difficulty in making up our minds as to the future financial position of the Commonwealth ; but how much more uninformed were the speakers quoted by the honorable senator?
– The honorable senator would not apply that argument in the case of the transcontinental railway.
– I do not see what the transcontinental railway has to do with the matter under discussion. We are now dealing with the question of a financial estimate based on experience ; and in this connexion the speakers at the Conventions were admittedly in the dark. On financial matters, all that the members of the Conventions could do was to estimate ; and the bookkeeping section itself was an admission that they could not correctly forecast the future from a financial point of view. What is the value of the opinions of the members of the Convention in support of a proposal for the abolition of the bookkeeping system? Such opinions are absolutely valueless.
– I think not, and 1 quoted them to show the opinions of leading financial men at that time.
– Even if all the members of the Conventions had been Goschens, their opinions would haVe been absolutely valueless, because they had no data on which to come to a conclusion. To-day we have the data of five years’ experience, but even that we find so inadequate as to cause men to arrive at different conclusions. There is much difference in the theories which are submitted as to the future; and this should teach us, at any rate, that the opinions quoted by Senator O’Keefe are absolutely of no value in the way of enabling us to arrive at a right decision. The honorable senator also complained of the serious financial position of Tasmania, and the loss suffered by that State under Federation; and in support of the position he took up, he pointed to the falling off in the Customs revenue for the last five years. The honorable senator showed a decrease in this revenue of some £100,000. But what is the lesson to be learned ?
– The loss is more than £100,000.
– Whatever the loss, it means that money to that amount is in the pockets of the people of Tasmania, and’ that it would not have been there had there been no Federation.
– The honorable senator is not allowing for diversion of trade.
– There would have been over £1 00, 000 more taken from the pockets of the people of Tasmania than was taken last year and put into the Treasury.
– That is very easily said, but it is. not quite correct.
– Senator Mulcahy should remember that so far as concerns the diversion of trade, there is a credit and a debit side. During the first two years of Federation there was a serious d’rought in the Commonwealth, and during the whole of that time, when the potato, oat, barley, and wheat crops were a practical failure on the mainland, Tasmania had the whole of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia, as a free market. Indeed, there was a duty imposed in order to protect the producers of Tasmania against the competition of New Zealand. There are figures available to prove an enormous increase in the export of such products to the Commonwealth from Tasmania in those years.
– That was really only for one year.
– I speak with knowledge when I say that the increase in the export of potatoes from Tasmania to the Commonwealth has continued, and that last year it was more than double what it was in any year prior to Federation.
SenatorMulcahy. - Of course.
– “ Of course!” While the manufacturers of Tasmania may have suffered from the competition of Victoria and New South Wales, in other respects the island State has gained.
– She has not gained as much as she should have gained, because of the Western Australian special Tariff.
– Whilst there has been a gain in trade, the revenue collected by the State Treasurer has been reduced, because goods on which formerly duty had to be paid now enter the State free.
– The people of Tasmania are not now taxed on the tea and kerosenethey consume.
– They are not taxed now in respect of a number of imports on which they formerly had to pay taxation. Is that an injustice to the State? What is the State? I take it that the State is the people of Tasmania, and it is impossible to describe as an injustice to the people of that State the fact that they are now taxed to the extent of £100,000 less than they were five years ago. What is the injustice from the State Treasurer’s point of view? His finances have been disturbed by the diversion of trade, and the abolition ofInter-State duties. But the money still remains with the people of the State. Honorable senators from Tasmania do not contend that the State is any less prosperous than it was. They have given no proof that there is less money in the State, or that her people are any poorer. The fact is that the money is still there, and is still taxable, and if the State Treasurer has a grievance, it is not against the Commonwealth. Does he grieve because the Commonwealth will not put on large revenue duties which are not required in four of the other States?
– We have a right to expect some consideration from the other States.
– Senator Pearce always avoids that point.
– New South Wales has a large surplus revenue, and will honorable senators from Tasmania contend that the Commonwealth Treasurer should impose a duty on tea and kerosene in order to make up this deficit in the State finances of Tasmania, when such duties are not required by the State that already has a surplus revenue?
– We will contend that Western Australia has kept up her Tariff barrier against us for five years.
– In answer to that interjection, I say that the taxpayers of Western Australia are the poorer, because we have had that Inter-State Tariff. I never defended, but, on the contrary, always denounced it, and I did what I could as an individual, and an elector of Western Australia, to abolish it. The interjection, therefore, has no point as addressed to me. I say that the Western Australian special Tariff has been a burden to the people of that State. Whilst it has beer of advantage to the Treasurer of the State, it has taken the money out of the pockets of the people of that State and has been disadvantageous to them.
– But the honorable senator will admit that it has operated prejudicially against the other States.
– No; I will not, because it is a very much lower Tariff than the Commonwealth Tariff. In the case of many items, the Commonwealth Tariff imposes duties 100 per cent. higher than the Western Australian special Tariff. But I will admit that by means of that Tariff, Western Australia has exacted revenue from the Inter-State trade. It has been a good thing from the point of view of the State Treasurer, but not from the point of view of the people of that State. Exactly the reverse position is shown in Tasmania. My contention is that Tasmania can herself remedy the grievance of which her representatives complain. The money is retained by the people of the State, and is still available for taxation ; and if the people of Tasmania desired to adjust their finances they might have done so at any time by the introduction of a system of State taxation.
– The honorable senator should recollect that, owing to the enormous shortage in our Customs revenue, we have had to impose extra direct taxation in Tasmania. We have had to practice the most rigid economy ; we have cut down our subsidies, and honorable senators will remember that we did not even pay our soldiers.
– I am aware that elections have been fought in Tasmania on the question of taxation, but I have not yet been able to discover in what way State taxation has been imposed.
– We have a heavy direct tax on many of the poorer people in the shape of the ability tax.
– So far as I can gather from Coghlan, the land values tax in Tasmania, instead of bringing in a greater revenue, brings in less revenue now than it did two years ago.
– No; it produces twice the revenue.
– Adams’ sweeps bring in more revenue.
– I was going to say that the principal item of additional revenue derived by the State has been from Adams’ sweeps.
– The honorable senator does not know very much about Tasmanian finance.
– I may not; but it appears to me that no determined effort has been made by the people of Tasmania to readjust the finances of the State by means of an equitable system of land taxation. Until some such effort is made, they have no right to complain that, the Commonwealth has disarranged their finances. It must be admitted that the money is in the pockets of the people of Tasmania, and can be reached by taxation.
– The Premier of Tasmania wrote to me,* on the 7th instant: -
We shall be called upon to resort to further taxation to balance the ledger.
– I think it would be a good thing if the people of Tasmania were called upon to pay further taxation, in order to balance the ledger. It might possibly have the effect of increasing the population of the State by throwing open some land for settlement.
– What about the unearned increment in Western Australia?
– We have been trying to get at it.
– Why was it not got at years ago ?
– Because we had a surplus revenue, and did not require to get at it. Since the revenue of Western Australia has fallen, the State Government have . introduced a land tax.
– Where is their income tax?
– -They have a dividend tax, which realizes more than the Tasmanian income tax.
– More than the Tasmanian income tax and land tax combined.
– The fact remains that in Western Australia there is no income tax.
– It has been suggested that a probably more equitable system for the distribution of revenue and expenditure would be one based on the adult population of the various States. I thought there might be something in that, because of the large adult population of Western Australia. I went to some trouble to discover the number of adults in the different States. Of course the latest definite figures with respect to population that we can get are those provided by the census of 1 901. Since that time our population has been very largely increased. I found it necessary, therefore, to take the percentage of adults in the figures for 1901, and apply the same percentage to the population figures for 1905, with a slight modification in. the case of Western Australia, because during the last three or four years our percentage of adults has decreased. I found that the system proposed would make very little difference when compared with the system of distribution on a per capita basis. The following would be, roughly, the results of the application of the system suggested :-
It will be seen that New South Wales would lose £74,717, Victoria would gain £193,749, Queensland would gain £75,755, South Australia would gain £101,869, Western Australia would lose £345,869, and Tasmania would gain £53,343; so that in the case of Western Australia the loss would be £114,223 less than the loss under the distribution on the population basis, and New South Wales would lose £22,126 less than under the population basis. But the system would still leave very material inequalities. Senator Pulsford has dealt very trenchantly with some of Mr. Harper’s proposals, but I should like to direct the attention of the Senate to one of them which, I think, sufficiently shows the immature character of that honorable member’s study of the question. On page 10 of the paper he has circulated, in dealing with the supplementary provisions of his scheme, he makes a proposal in sub-clause 3 of clause 35 to the following effect: -
Australia differentiates it from all the other States, inasmuch as its proportion of Customs revenue provided in accordance with the Braddon clause leaves a large balance over and above the amount payable by it for interest, and it is worthy of consideration whether it would not be advisable to arrange with that State that in the event of Parliament passing a Bill for the construction of the West Australia railway from Port Augusta, money to the extent of £5,000,000 for its construction will be found by the Commonwealth on account of West Australia, and that for a period of, say, fifteen or twenty years, the Commonwealth will provide the interest and sinking funds upon the £5,000,000 so invested, and, at the end of that time, when presumably conditions in West Australia will have assimilated largely to those of the other States, the State Government will thenceforward pay the interest and sinking fund as if the debt had been incurred by them in the first instance. If that arrangement were made, it would supersede the proposal’ for repayment to the State referred to in paragraph 13.
He says that Western Australia is differentiated from the other States because of abnormal revenue conditions. That is to say that, at the present time, our revenueproducing capacity is a,t its highest, giving a greater return per head of population than any other State of the Commonwealth. In fifteen or twenty years time he believes that our revenue conditions will have approximated to those of the eastern States, and the revenue productivity of Western Australia will have decreased. During the term at which it is highest, Mr. Harper suggests that the Commonwealth should pay interest and sinking fund for that State, but when it reaches its lowest ebb he suggests that Western Australia should be asked to pay interest and sinking fund for herself. One has. only to consider that for a moment to see what a ridiculous proposal it is. During the time when Western Australia- is best able to bear a burden, owing to her revenueproducing capacity being high, she is to be assisted, and when she is least able to bear the burden, when her revenue conditions have approximated to those of the eastern States, it is to be imposed upon her.
– It will not follow that the revenue of the State will be decreased because the -per capita payment is lower. The population may be largelyincreased.
– But the honorable senator must be aware, that as population increases expenditure also increases. I think that the paragraph I have quoted is sufficient to show that Mr. Harper’s scheme is very crude, and that he has not grasped the financial conditions of Western Australia. To my mind this paragraph largely discounts the value of the honorable member’s other conclusions. For the reasons I have given, it is my intention to vote against the amendment. I think we should allow the bookkeeping period to continue for another five years, in order that we might be supplied with further data on- which to base conclusions as to the future treatment of the finances of the Commonwealth. I, of course, also intend to vote against the motion, because it proposes what would be manifestly inequitable to the State which I represent.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulcahy) adjourned.
.- I move -
That the Senate, while recognising that the Government has done good work in establishing a uniform scheme for the training of cadets, regrets that only about one-tenth of our youth can now take advantage of such scheme, and is of opinion that Ministers should amend the Defence Act and provide for a universal system of gymnastics, military drill, and rifle practice, to be applied to all boys and youths in the Commonwealth up to the age of 18 years, such scheme being urgently required -
To prevent the physical deterioration of our youth.
To teach them loyalty and patriotism, and give them such lessons in discipline and obedience as will develop and improve the moral side of their nature ; and
To teach them how to defend their country, and thus probably obviate the necessity of applying a scheme of universal military training to the manhood of the Commonwealth, 01 greatly lessen the tax such a scheme would entail upon the revenues of the Commonwealth, and the time of its citizens if such a scheme should hereafter prove to be necessary.
I regret to have to trouble .the Senate again with this subject, but it is one of the greatest importance. Until we have a system of defence which has a national foundation, and is as safe as it’ can be made, I shall deem it my duty, on all occasions, to appeal to the Senate. I admit that the Minister of Defence has, perhaps, the most intricate and difficult Department to administer. Like his predecessors, he has already had great difficulty in determining how to meet the different views which ha.ve been expressed on naval and military defence - universal training and cadet training. I do not wonder that sometimes he is puzzled as to what course to take. But I do not think that either he or any one else can contend that our system of defence has a national foundation. The great question before the people of the United Kingdom, and one of the great questions before the Australian people, is the question of universal training. The reason why I am so greatly disappointed with the Minister’s very meagre cadet scheme is because the Prime Minister published in the daily newspapers his views on the subject of defence, boldly setting forth ‘that he was in favour of a scheme of universal military service. I understood from Mr. Deakin and some of his colleagues that every member of the Cabinet, possibly with one exception, held similar views. It is no wonder then that we are disappointed when we are given a scheme which applies to only the boys and youths of the Commonwealth, which is not compulsory, and which does not attempt to place the slightest control upon the boys when they have left school, except in regard to the senior cadets, who, of course, are a mere handful. In that way alone it is a very meagre scheme indeed. Lately, three systems of cadet training have been proposed. In the first’ place, a Committee of Defence, presided over by Colonel Williams, proposed to train 22,956 cadets at an annual cost of about £30,700. I think that these officers must have intended that some kind of compulsion should be used, because they state distinctly that it is essential to the organization of all the existing cadet schemes, which, as we know, were under the Education Department in some States and under the Military authorities in other States. They went on to say that the organization should provide for the training of all boys in school, and of all boys who had left school, up to. I think, seventeen or eighteen years of age.
– I draw your attention, sir, to the state of the Senate. (Quorum formed.)
– The second scheme, which emanated from Lt.-Col. McCay, provided for the compulsory training of all boys during their attendance at school. It made no provision for boys who had left school, but in regard to those boys Lt.Col. McCay said that it might be possible to form voluntary cadet corps. That is one of my objections to the whole of these schemes. We do not want to talk about what is possible. We do not wish to leave theboy the master of the situation, and to say whether there shall be a citizens’ army or not. That appears to me to be a weak spot in Lt.-Col. McCay ‘s scheme; but, on the whole, I think it is the best that has been admitted. , He promised to make a beginning with 20,000 cadets at a cost of £22,000, but he went on to say that at the end of the fifthyear he would have 60,000 boys being trained, at a cost of £43,500. Perhaps I had better read the passage to which I refer. It is as follows : -
To provide for a total of 60,000 boys under instruction at the end of fiveyears, commencing with. 20,000, and increasing by 10,000 each year, and to provide rifles during these five years, without allowing for the rifles in Victoria, would involve an expenditure for the first five years of the system respectively of £22,000, £24,000, £34,500,£37,000, and £43,500.
The Minister of Defence has departed from that scheme, and adopted one of his own. I think it would have been much wiser, and far more satisfactory to those who take an intense interest in this subject, if he had followed the principle of Lt.-Col. McCay’s scheme, and been able to show that at the end of five years there would be a reasonable number of boys undergoing military training. But we are cut down to about 23.000 cadets, at an annual cost of £20,000 or£22,000, and that appears to be the end of the matter.
– And it would impose a big expenditure upon the parents.
– Yes. I am quite aware that the Minister’s scheme can be extended, but it is unbusiness-like. Suppose that the movement spread, and that more than 23,000 boys offered themselves, no provision would have been made for the training of the additional number, and consequently their ardour would be damped. On the other hand, under the voluntary system we have 10,000 cadets. If the Minister does not enrol the 23,000 cadets under his scheme, there will be no power to attract the boys, unless we tempt them to join by means of the uniform, and that again is another weak spot in the scheme. Under his scheme, Lt.-Col. McCay said that no uniform would be required for the boys, but under the Minister’s scheme a complete uniform is required. A Stateschool master who conferred with Colonel Hoad seemed to place great reliance upon the uniform, and the Minister, I think, places- too much dependence upon it. At all events, he intends to provide £7,500 a year for uniforms alone. The military men whom I have consultedsay that a uniform, which would cost 15s., is not required that it would be a waste of money to give it to boys of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years ofage, and that whatthey ought to get is a regulation cap, belt, and pouch, at a cost of2s. or 3s. Inmy honorable friend’s scheme I do not think thateconomy with efficiency has been sufficiently kept in view. I should say that in New Zealand there is a splendid cadet force. I admit that it is voluntary but during the last few years it has increased enormously. I believe that the
Government allow each boy 2s. to provide a cap, belt, and pouch. But that is verv different from requiring a boy to have a uniform which is to cost 15s., and which is to last for two years.
– £1 per head.
– A boy is to buy the uniform out of the £1.
– The boys will have to pay £1 each for the uniform.
– No; I understand from the Minister that the uniform is to cost 15s., and is to last for two years’, practically costing 7s. 6d. a year. In New Zealand the authorities allow only 2s. per head for cap, belt, and pouch, but they make a per capita allowance of 2s. 6d. as against the £1 which my honorable friend proposes to give. Here is an allowance of 4s. 6d. per head as against 20s. If the Minister condemns the officers’ scheme as being a little too costly, I think that his own scheme may very fairly be described in that way. I would suggest the adoption of a scheme under which, for the first two, if not three, years, nothing but a cap. belt, and pouch should be required, and afterwards the boys might be put into uniforms if they could be afforded. If, however, we could not afford that expenditure - and I understand that that is the sole reason for having such a very small scheme of defence - let us do away with the uniform. What we want are the boys and rifles and ammunition. If we cannot afford to provide a uniform, do not let us curtail the education of the boys, do not let us have a half and half sort of scheme when it is possible to have a thoroughly good scheme of a national character. Here is another argument which I ask my honorable friend most earnestly to consider. Unlike the officers, neither he nor Lt.-Col. McCav has made any “provision for the boys who have left school. Had he before him any statistics when he settled upon his scheme? Did he Lear in mind that the great bulk of our boys leave school at the age of thirteen or. thirteen and a half?
– Yes ; in my scheme provision is made for senior cadets.
– Yes; but only to the number of 3,000. According to a return from the Education Department, which I hold in my hand, the compulsory age of school attendance is as follows: - Victoria, from 6 to 13 ; New South Wales, from 5 to 14; South Australia, from 7 to 13; Queensland, from 6 to 12; Western Australia, from 6 to 14; and Tasmania, from 7 to 13. What real scheme have we when all boys in Queensland who leave school at the age of twelve years can snap their fingers at the Education and Military Departments?
– They can leave, but they do not.
– I think that my honorable friend is wrong.
– Some of them leave, of course.
– In all the States except two, boys can leave school at the age of thirteen years. In the great bulk of cases if a billet worth 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week could be got, the boy would leave the State school, especially if he were the son of a workman, or mechanic. How can such a scheme be called a national scheme? How can it do away with the necessity of, perhaps, universal training amongst adults? In a return, the statistician for Tasmania gives the number of youths of the age of twelve years, and , under the age of nineteen years, in each State, and states the total number at 295,359. Let us compare the number of youths in each State with the scheme of roy honorable friend and. notice how it works out. In New South Wales there are to be 8,520 cadets, senior and junior. There happen to be in that State between the ages of thirteen and nineteen 114,918 youths. So that the Minister’s scheme provides for between’ one-thirteenth and onefourteenth part of the youths of New South Wales. In Victoria his scheme provides for 7,020 cadets of both classes, whilst there are in this State 87,170 youths. He therefore provides for about onetwelfth, of the number. In Queensland* 3,110 cadets are provided for, and the number of youths is 36,270. The Minister therefore provides for about one-twelfth. In South Australia, 1,990 cadets areallotted, and the number of youths is 30,128. The scheme, therefore, provides for about one-fifteenth.
– That is better than* none at all.
– In Western Australia 1,320 cadets are allotted, and thereare 12,465 youths. The Minister provides for about one-ninth of the whole. In Tasmania there are to be 860 cadets, whilst there are 14,408 youths in the State.
There again the Minister’s scheme provides for about one-fifteenth. These figures give us a real insight into what the Minister’s scheme is. I t is very meagre, and by no means provides for the expansion that we all require.
– Parliament votes the money every year according to its own sweet will. Anything that I can say amounts to nothing.
– I understand that the reason why Ministers have come to such a feeble decision with regard to universal training is that they believe that Parliament would not vote the necessary money. I am perfectly satisfied that Parliament would not vote the money for any large and elaborate system, and therefore I am putting aside for the moment the scheme to which I believe we shall have to come ultimately - a scheme of universal training, as in Switzerland’, for all youths between 17 and 23 or 16 and 22. I tell my honorable friend plainly that the only possible way to escape from that is to extend the cadet system and to make it compulsory for the youths at our schools to be trained. Lt.-Col. McCay, when he was Minister, agreed to the extension of the cadet system, and I ask my honorable friend to do the same.
– I could’ easily say it, but what is the use of saying it? It will all depend upon Parliament. I will extend the scheme nextyear if I can.
– I understood that Ministers were to be leaders, not followers.
– I will be leader in this matter nextyear.
– The Minister does not even ask Parliament to grant the necessary money.
– The time has not come. I have asked for the money that I want this year.
– The Minister practically tells us that it is Tor Parliament to decide. It is not. It is for Ministers to take upon themselves the responsibility of laying down a policy. Instead of that, however, my honorable friend is waiting to see which way the cat jumps. That is not what we expect from a Minister of Defence. We shall never be able to get this matter into anything like order until the Minister at the head of the Department shows a determination to lead Parliament. I can quite understand that the Minister would not be able to lead Parliament in the direction of great expenditure. He cannot compel Parliament to spend £50,000 if it will vote only £30,000. Butmy complaint is that he does not even, put before us a scheme to accomplish what he professes to desire. He puts forward a plan which involves the spending of altogether too much money on uniforms.
– The honorable senatormay move to strike out the vote for uniforms if he likes.
– I am glad that my honorable friend agrees to that. I have endeavoured to obtain all the information I could from all parts of the world on this subject, and I can assure the Minister that the feeling throughout theBritish Empire is coming round more and more in favour of some sort of scheme of universal training.
– It is all conscription, compulsion, and everything that is foreign to the British people.
– We do not want conscription, and we do not want compulsion, except in the same way as we have compulsory education. At present our system of compulsory education is incomplete.
– I have nothing to do with education.
-The Minister has everything to do with it. He can, if he likes, insist that our system of compulsory education shall be made complete by teaching the youths not only reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and the other subjects in our educational curriculum, but also the virtues of patriotism and courage, and their civil duties.
– The things which the honorable senator says should be taught are taught already: Patriotism, civil duties, and so on, are all taught in our schools. So are gymnastics. They even drill the girls.
– But there is no compulsion in our schools, as there is in Japan, to drill our boys, and teach them patriotism and the duty of defending their country. Let me quote a few opinions on this subject. The first is that of Bishop Barlow. He said - he trusted the Governments, both in the State and Commonwealth, would soon abandon that narrow, short-sighted, perilous policy of reducing to an unworthy and almost unworkable minimum the grants forthe defence of our homes, and he trusted still more that public opinion might soon be roused to demand that every incentive should be given to train and encourage Australia’s sons.
– That is a general statement that anybody might make, and amounts to nothing at all.
– It amounts to a criticism of what the House of Representatives did a little while ago, when it cut down the Defence vote. My honorable friend is evidently afraid that the vote for his Department will be cut down again. I next desire to quote an account by an, anonymous writer in the Times of the Japanese military manoeuvres.
– These anonymous contributions cannot be recognised.
– My honorable friend is hard to convince, although he has agreed to knock off the cadet uniforms.
– No, I have not. What I meant was that I should like to see the honorable senator try to knock them off. He would find that the uniform is one of those things which the . cadets and the schoolmasters most appreciate.
– One moment my honorable friend Says that he will do a thing, and the next moment says that he will not. I say that the uniform is a matter of no importance whatever.I find it quite impossible to argue with the Minister, he so constantly shifts his ground.
– The honorable senator should not fling anonymous writers at my head.
– This writer is an officer who attended the military manoeuvres in Japan after the Chinese war. He gives an account of how, in the Japanese schools, the boys are taught drill, and are instilled with ideas of patriotism, courage, and devotion to their country. That is what we require to do here. On the occasion of the military manoeuvres referred to. the school boys were marched out the night before and camped close to the field. Officers were detailed to attend them, and to explain to them the meaning of the manoeuvres which they witnessed. This writer says that compulsory training has been the making of the Japanese nation. Marshal Oyama and the leading citizens of Japan are agreed that the two main elements which have contributed to the success of modern Japan are the adoption of constitutional government and of compulsory military training.
– They are an aggressive people. They wanted to go and fight neighbouring nations.
– I hope that my honorable friend will not interrupt, if that is the sort of stuff he is going to give us. I shall next quote an opinion by Dr. Bryant with regard to the need for physical training in this country. Dr. Bryant says -
A system could be used to increase the chest measurement by three or four inches, make the body supple, and increase the nervous vitality that enabled a race to make its way. Awarding the first place to the Japanese system, Dr. Bryant went on to say that nearly all the systems were closely connected. It was disheartening to notice the number of weedy men in an Eight Hours’ Day procession. He had been an examiner of recruits for the past sixteen years, and during the last two years it had been the exception to examine a well developed young man. To neglect the physical culture of the rising generation was criminal, and it should be included as a branch of education under qualified instructors. Medical officers might also make inspections, and in doing so would be able to note the health of the pupils. He suggested that if the Government would not take this in hand, a league should be formed to work out the details of a national scheme.
– Is that in Australia?
– To what State does that doctor belong?
– He is a Melbourne surgeon. The statement was made in a lecture delivered under the auspices of the Australian Health Society. I come now to another article in the Times with reference to the Commission which was appointedby the British Government after the South African war. The writer says -
The criticisms of the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa as to organization, and the suggestions of individual members, interesting and important as they are, could have hardly come as a surprise to any one in any way cognisant of the shortcomings of our military system. By far the most pregnant of the suggestions contained in the report is that of Sir George Goldie, to which Lord Esher, Sir F. Darley, and Sir John Edge apparently give their adherence - viz., compulsory national military education. SirGeorge Goldie proposes the institution of national cadet schools, officered from the Regular Army, in which all youths not in the Navy or merchant service or efficient members of Volunteer cadet corps would have to serve for a term.
Speaking again of compulsory national military education, he says: -
The latter, in the opinion of every soldier who has had occasion to study the question, is the only solution of the problem - how to organize a really efficient army for the needs of the Empire.
That was the opinion of the Royal Commission which was appointed after the Boer war; and I should like now to direct attention to the findings of what is known as the Norfolk Commission, presided over by the Dukeof Norfolk, and appointed to inquire into the position of the Militiaand Volunteers. Eight out of the ten Commissioners were of the opinion that -
A home defence army capable, in the absence of the whole or the greater portion of the regular forces, of protecting this country against invasion can be raised and maintained only on the principle that it is the duty of every citizen of military age and sound physique to be trained for the national defence, and to take part in it should emergency arise.
– The present Government in England have refused to adopt that report.
– I am aware of the fact ; and that iswhy the National Service League at home is working so hard, and why they have sent for the photographs which I have asked the Minister to supply. They desire to educate the people of England in the same way as a few persons in Australia are trying to educate the people here, with a view to the adoption of a national system. The following is an extract from the memorandum of Colonel O’Callaghan Westropp, which is attached to the report of the Norfolk Commission -
There is one way, however - a way which ought to be used without delay - in which the physical advantages of drill could be brought to all, at an age when it would be of great value. Compulsory drill ought to be enforced in every school. In the schools the entire rising male population is mustered. If every boy before he was 14 had done 60 drills of one hour each he would, at all events, know how to hold himself and how to walk, and if, in addition, he had by that age fired 100 rounds from a cadet rifle, divided between 50, 100, and 150 yards, he ought to have mastered the art of holding straight. Boys of that age are very teachable, they would take kindly to the drill, and keenly enjoy the shooting ; what is drudgery to the recruit of 18 would be play to them. A considerable increase in the militia and volunteer permanent staff is necessary for peace training and even more requisite on mobilization, and these sergeants could, when not required with their units, be dispersed (and even live) within easy reach of the schools which they would drill. Lord Methuen was very strong on this point. He advised - “ Make it compulsory in schools that all boys should be drilled.” “ Every boy at school should be able to shoot and drill, and that would help you a great deal.”
Sir John French’s views were similar, and Sir Henry Hildyard confirmed it in these words - “ The more preliminary education of a military kind that you can get into a nation the better, and the earlier you can get it again the better.”
I could quote hundreds of authorities to the same effect. What I ask the Minister to do is to amend his scheme, and make it a little more universal, so as to embrace every boy and youth in the Commonwealth.
– We cannot by Commonwealth legislation compel the drilling of the boys in the State schools; that is cut of our province.
– There would be no difficulty in making an arrangement with the States Governments to enable the drilling to take place.
– The Federal Government are co-operating with the States Governments now, but we’ have not the power to enforce compulsory training.
– I say that there is the power.
– Yes; outside the schools.
– No; in the schools. It must not, however, be done by flouting the States, but in conjunction with the States. Do I understand the Minister to be of opinion that the States Governments would raiseany objection? My own opinion is that no objection would be raised ; but, as a matter of fact, the Minister of Defence has simply taken the easiest course.Why did the Minister not give us an opportunity to discuss thescheme? We take a great interest in this matter, and leagues have been formed in Sydney and Victoria with the object of bringing about universal training. The Minister of Defence had two or three schemes before him, buthe set to work and created another of his own - which, by the way, I regard as the worst - and did not give us an opportunity to discuss it. I urge upon the Minister to listen to the opinions of honorable senators, and, after consultation with his officers to improve the scheme. From an article in one of our own newspapers, under the heading, “ The Training of a Nation,” I take the following, which shows what is the opinion of The Times -
If we can trust much that we read in current literature, the British people are in sore need of physical training, and, indeed, of discipline of more than one kind. Thus, we may discover a great good in what, to a certain extent, is an- evil, and the British population may be made more capable and presentable than it now is. On this point, the Times speaks out very plainly, and, evidently, but echoes a fast-growing public opinion. It says, “Drill for everybody, familiarity with a rifle for everybody, and higher education as applied to war for all who possess superior intelligence would do nothing but good’ all round.”
Then Lord Raglan’s opinion in regard to the great grammar schools of England is thus set forth -
Lord Raglan states that the National Service League, of which he is President, recently communicated with the principals of these -schools, pointing out that a system of preliminary training in drill and the use of the rifle would, besides imbuing the boys with a sense of manly discipline and true patriotism, enable them to carry out their military training properly, much more easily, and at much less sacrifice of time than would be necessary if no ground work had previously been laid. The league offered to give annually two prizes - a gold medal and a silver medal - for the best trained boys in each school. “ I am now,” says Lord Raglan, “ able to state that we have received answers from nearly all the public schools, and that they have been favorable in almost every! case. This fact, indicating as ‘it does the complete acceptance of our principles by the head masters of 90 per cent, of the big schools, shows that it would be easy to carry a Bill making military drill and rifle shooting compulsory as the ground work of a truly national reserve.”
Under these circumstances I hope the Minister will make some promise that he will consult with his officers with a view to presenting a scheme of wider dimensions than that which he at present favours. I notice that, under the scheme of the Minister, a considerable proportion of the training has to be carried on in school hours ; and that, in my opinion, is a great mistake. The curriculum of the States schools has been /getting wider and wider, and it may be that too great a range of subjects is attempted. The object ought to be to teach the boys reading, writing, and arithmetic, with history and geography, of which they ought to have a firm grasp, so that they may be able to take any situation that offers.
– Drilling forms part of the school curriculum.
– I know that the boys do a little gymnastics and drill; but rifle shooting and manoeuvring could not be taught in school hours. One writer points out that a boy at school, between the ages of ten and seventeen, is practically compelled to devote, I don’t know how many thousands of hours to cricket, football, and other games, and contends that if a tenth, or a fifteenth, part of that time could be devoted to military drill, the. boys would be partly trained .soldiers at the end of their school life. I, therefore, ask that the scheme should be amended in this connexion, because it has been impossible to introduce the military training in the school hours between nine and four. It is inevitable that the boys must” be asked to drill sometimes on half -holidays, and do part of their work out of school hours. Another writer on this -point, Mr. C. E. Dawkins, says -
Our system is doomed to failure. The Boer war would never have come about had we had a trained citizen soldiery.
– People are always making statements like that, which are not worth the paper they are written on.
– I believe that statements are worth the paper they are written on. I do not think the Boer war would have occurred had the Boers had any idea that there was a citizen soldiery behind the regular army. Out of 137,000 soldiers who went to the front, over 50,000 were, I believe, condemned as ineffective, owing to want of training, poor physique, or absence of skill in shooting and riding.
– That is a terrible indictment against the British War Office.
– It is. Another ‘ writer says that of 50,000 militia reserves in Great Britain, only 5,000 were found to be effective.
– The honorable senator knows what the British militia is?
– Quite so; but surely we might expect more than 5,000 effective soldiers out of 50,000.
– I do not think so.
– Does not all this go to show that the morale of our people requires improving - that their physique wants building up? Dr.. Bryan tells us how an improvement could “be brought about by proper means ; but the Minister of Defence has not done anything in this direction, except in a very small degree. Sir James Creighton Brown says that from 60 to 70 per cent, of the British population falls short of the physical standard it ought to attain, and he advises compulsory militia drill in all schools. Newspapers and magazines contain numerous articles on this subject, and in reference to the S’wiss system Colonel Gerald Campbell says -
It is a citizen militia force based on “ universal compulsory service “ in peace as well as in war ; and it may be asserted with confidence that the excellent results - both as to numbers and quality - which have been obtained could never have been reached under a system of “ voluntary “ service in peace, which is unfortunately the basis of our Commonwealth Army.
If we in Australia would only adopt a suitable “ compulsory “ training of a similar nature during the years 16-20 as a beginning, a vast amount of good would accrue, not only to the DefenceForce, but to the whole community.
The leagues in Victoria and New South Wales advocate universal training between the ages of 16 and 21 or 22. If the Minister wishes to avoid that training for many years to come, and, perhaps altogether, he ought to provide for the compulsory training of the boys in our schools. In Switzerland, although the population is halfamillion less than that of Australia, there are 200,000 members in the rifle clubs.
– Would military training not have a tendency to make our young people pugnacious?
– I have a number of authorities who declare that there is no such effect, but that on the contrary, patriotism, discipline, and devotion to duty are developed and encouraged. We are told that this military training does not arouse the martial spirit, of which, of course, we do not desire’ too much.
– There is less jingoism in Switzerland than, I suppose, in any other country in the world.
– Switzerland has no sea coast. Our first line of defence is naval, and I should like to know whether Senator Dobson proposes to give the boys naval training.
– In Canada, the rifle clubs have extended until now they number 400 with a membership of 34,000 or 36,000.
– There are more members than that in the rifle clubs of Australia.
– The Minister is quite wrong. The number of rifle clubs is 686, and the members number 30,242. I instance Switzerland and Canada because both these countries have more members in their rifle clubs.
– I think not.
– I think those were the figures given us by the Minister.
– Those might be the figures for last year ; but this year there has been an increase of 7,000 or 8,000 in the number of members of rifle clubs.
– The number was given as 30,242, and the cost £50,566. Those are last year’s figures, and there may have been some slight increase since, but how does the Minister get over the fact that in Switzerland there are 200,000 members of rifle clubs ?
– No; 200,000 compulsorily trained men.
– No, riflemen; and a great number of them are civilians. Does not the honorable senator see that if we educate the people in rifle-shooting they will soon begin to take an interest in it? Unfortunately that is what I cannot get the Minister to see.
– If the honorable senator could show that we required 200,000 members of rifle clubs we should get them. We should have as many as are necessary..
– I do not know that we require 200,000 of them. No man in Australia or in Great Britain is able to prophesy what danger we shall have to meet in the time to come. It is for that reason that we find every general, colonel, and major recommending the drilling and training ofboys and citizens generally. We should have a citizen army, and then we should be able to meet in the best possible way any emergency that might arise.
– That is the perfect system; but the question is are we prepared to pay for it?
– I ask honorable senators to consider the splendid raw material we have in Australia. Look at the splendid light horse companies we might have, and yet there is no provision in the Minister’s scheme for them.
– We have light horse in the militia.
– We have some light horse, but we are not giving them the slightest training. We have boys in the country riding horses all day long, and we are giving them no encouragement. In many ways I think that the Minister’s scheme can be improved.
– This is carping criticism.
– I do not desire to take up any more time ; but I should like to call attention to one very important matter. I ask honorable senators to consider all the schemes which are now before the Commonwealth. We have schemes for a £5.000,000 railway, a £4,000,000 Capital, an Australian Navy, which is to cost some £3,000,000, and all sorts of things.
– And the honorable senator is now proposing another scheme for compulsory military training, which would entail very great expenditure.
– Will the honorable senator kindlyhear me out ? I say that the best thing that heand his colleagues can do is to look into some of these schemes, and see whether they cannot put them aside.
– Knock them on the head, and commence with that proposed by the honorable senator.
-They should ask themselves what is the foundation of the prosperity of a nation. What are the essentials? What do we really require to drive us ahead ? They must at last fall back on the conclusion that there is nothing so important as education. But instead of educating our youths and men to defend their hearths and homes, we let them go asthey please. The honorable senator’s system is a go-as-you-please system.
– The honorable senator’s system is a regimental system, under which men are to be compulsorily drilled and trained.
– When the Estimates come on for discussion I suppose we shall hear something from the honorable senator about our Australian Navy, but before we establish an Australian Navy is it not better that we should educate our boys? If we cannot afford £35,000 a year to educate our boys, can we afford £3,000,000 for torpedoes ?
– That amount is to be spread over a number of years.
– Why should we not give £50,000 or £75,000 a year to educate our boys? If we can afford to establish an Australian Navy, and Parliament desires its establishment, let us have it, but donot let us forget the foundation, or build it in an unstable manner. I have not exhausted more than one-half of my notes, but I shall resume my seat with the expression of a hope that the Minister, when he hears the criticisms which I hope other honorable senators will offer, will confer with his officers and see whether he cannot propose some scheme which will be a little more universal than that which he has submitted, and which will make some provision for boys who, although they may have left school, are still running about the street. If the honorable senator will do that, he will confer a great boon upon the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 4 - “ The Supreme Court “ means the Supreme Court of a State or any Judge thereof ;
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out the words, “or any Judge thereof”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Honorable senators will find that in the definition clause as the Bill left the Senate we defined “ The Supreme Court,” to mean “ The Supreme Court of a State or any Judge thereof.” The House of Representatives has amended the definition by striking out the words, “ or any Judge thereof,” by reason of the constitutional fact that the functions that are to be discharged by the Supreme Court under the provisions of this Bill are matters which have to be dealt with by virtue of the jurisdiction we confer upon the Supreme Court of a State, and not individually upon any Judge.
– Is that a sound reason? Does the Minister approve of that?
Motion agreed to.
Clause 25 -
House of R epreseniatives’ Amendment. - Add the following new sub-clause : -
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honor-
That the amendment be agreed to.
Clause 25 of the Bill as it left the Senate provided that where the Registrar refused to register a design, the applicant might within the time, and in the manner prescribed, appeal to the law officer against the decision of the Registrar. The “law officer “ is defined in the definition clause as “ The Attorney-General or Crown Solici tor of the Commonwealth.” Then, in the second paragraph of the clause we provided that the law officer should hear the application, and decide whether it ought to be granted or refused. There was no provision in the Bill as it left the Senate for an appeal against any decision which the law officer might give. The House of Representatives has inserted an amendment providing for an appeal by the applicant against the decision of the law officer.
– That is a further appeal ?
– Yes, and only by the applicant in case the decision of the law officer is against him. He will in such a case under the amendment be able to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 1 and 6.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.29]. - I wish to ask the Minister not to persevere with his motion for the reconsideration of clause 1. Yesterday we changed the short title of the Bill, and substituted the words, “ Lands Acquisition “ for the words “ Eminent Domain.” The short title of the Bill is now “ The Lands Acquisition Act 1906.” We have already had two divisions on clause 1, and I think that the Minister should give some reason against the short title which has now been introduced into the Bill. The Minister having brought down the Bill with the short title, “ Eminent Domain Act,” gave reasons for the retention of that title. No one could complain of that as unreasonable. On the other side, we gave reasons why it was an inappropriate title, and as Senator Drakeclearly pointed out, might possibly be a misleading title. The clause was debated on two occasions; on one the existing title was retained, and on’ the other we substituted the title now appearing in the Bill We have, therefore, to deal with the measure as though it had come before us with the short title, “ Lands Acquisition Act 1906,” and what possible objection can there be to that title? Surely before we go back into Committee for the purpose of re-opening the discussion, some reason should be given against the use of the short, clear, and intelligible title, “ Lands Acquisition Act.” Why should we go back into’ Committee to reconsider the, matter simply because, itmay be, the draftsman of the measure has some fancy for the title, “ Eminent Domain “ ? Is it worthy of the Senate to do that? If there is an objection to the title “Lands Acquisition Act “ - and as no objection has yet been urged against it - it ought to have been mentioned. But for the Government to solemnly ask for a recommittal with a view to displace a short title - to which no possible objection can be taken - in favour of the title which was deleted yesterday is, in my experience, unparalleled. It is reducing the proceedings of the Senate to a perfect farce. If the title “ Land Acquisition Act “ possesses some innate vice, and that is pointed out, good and well. But in the absence of such a reason, surely it is reducing the Senate to a position which it ought not to occupy, to ask it to go back into Committee in order to re-open the question.
That “ 1 and “ be left out.
– Is Senator Symon prepared to accept any amendments which may be moved in clause 6, or does he simply want to test the feeling of the Senate with respect to clause1, and then to have a renewal of what transpired yesterday in’ connexion with clause 6? Why should he. not be content to vote against a recommittal of the Bill, unless he intends to agree to some alteration in’ clause 6 ?
– Clause 6 deals with an important matter of substance and, of course, I would not dream of objecting to its recommittal.
– Mr. President–
– Surely there is no right of reply on a motion to recommit some clauses of a Bill !
- Senator Keating moved the motion, and an amendment has been moved. He can now speak on the amendment or in reply. I understand that no one else wishes to speak, therefore I call upon him to speak in reply.
– Any abstinence or my part yesterday from raising objections to the new title which was proposed to be introduced was motived by no other consideration than a desire to expedite the passage of the Bill.
– Does the same reason animate the honorable senator now?
– That is the very reason why I shall not speak at length.
– Then why bring the matter forward again?
– On the first occasion honorable senators had every opportunity to listen to the argumentspro and con; a vote was taken; and by 15 votes to 12 it was decided to retain the original title of Eminent Domain Act. Yesterday Senator Symon moved again to strike out “ Eminent Domain “ for the purpose of inserting “ Lands Acquisition,” but in a very much smaller Committee, and without saying anything on behalf of the new title which he submitted.
– Certainly I addressed the Committee at length: on the subject more than once.
– I think not when moving the amendment.
– Nothing of the kind.
– He induced some honorable senators to change their minds.
– That may be so. Yesterday I” refrained from speaking, because I did not wish to repeat the arguments I had previously used; and it was decided by 11 votes to9 to substitute “ Lands Acquisition “ for “ Eminent Domain.’
– As against a vote of15 to 12 on the first occasion.
– Yes. How did this matter come up for consideration yesterday ? At a certain stage I moved for the reconsideration of several clauses, and when Senator Symon moved to include clause 1, I offered no opposition., and accordingly it was included. If my recollection serves me rightly, I do not think that when he moved his amendment he gave any reasons in support of it. I did not speak either, and a division resulted in the reversal of the previous vote in a Committee of 20, as opposed to a Committee of 27 on the first occasion.
Question - That “ 1 and “ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee : (Recommittal.)
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Lands Acquisition Act 1906.
– I move -
That the words “Lands Acquisition” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Eminent Domain.”
I wish to adhere as closely as I can to what I indicated just now would be my course. When the Bill was brought into the Senate the short title was Eminent Domain Act. That title was canvassed on the second reading, and in Committee it was moved by Senator Symon that the words “ Eminent Domain “ be struck out, and “ Lands Acquisition “ substituted. The arguments both for and against were set forth, and I need not repeat them. “ Eminent Domain “ is a term which aptly and correctly expresses the sovereign right of a politically organized society to resume for public; purposes the property of individuals.
– Ninety-nine men out of every one hundred would not understand it.
– There is a term that we use in connexion with our legislation, and that is used in the ordinary journals of the day, to which the same objection might have been taken a few years ago. I refer to the word “betterment.” When that word was first used in legislation the same argument was applied to it - that it was a novelty which some people would not understand.
– There was a strong reason for adopting that term - that it was explanatory ; but “ Eminent Domain “ is not.
– It is a term known in law as expressing the idea I have already referred to.
– Is it not an Americanism ?
– No, it is not. The fact that the American people have used it does not give them a monopoly in it. Moreover, it is creditable that they should have adopted so expressive a term.
– We shall. have people asking where the Eminent Domain is.
– Some people will always ask foolish questions. I saw it reported of a person who attended a meeting in Sydney that, when reference was made to an “ absentee tax,” he said that he was “opposed to a tax on tea of any kind.” Persons who are capable of mis understandings of that kind are the sort of people who would ask where the Eminent Domain was.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.50]. - I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Committee upon this question for more than a few seconds. I should have been glad to have it decided without coming to Committee again, but I quite recognise that honorable senators desired to afford . an opportunity for reconsideration. The present title of the Bill is “ The Lands Acquisition Act.” Does that describe this Bill, its purpose, and its intention ? Undoubtedly it does. Is it plain to the man in the street, who is affected by this measure? Undoubtedly it is. Is it- plain to lawyers who have to advise upon this measure? Undoubtedly it is. Does it correspond with the title of the Act that is now upon the statute-book, and which we propose to repeal? Undoubtedly it does. The man who wants to see what the law of the Commonwealth is with respect to the acquisition of land for certain purposes looks into the index of the Statutes, and sees there “Lands Acquisition Act 1901-2.” If he wants to ascertain whether there has been any repeal, he looks down the list of Acts subsequently passed. He finds no mention of an Act repealing the Act of 1901-2. He does not know what “ Eminent Domain “ is. I say, as I have said before, that ninety-nine out of one hundred persons, even amongst the lawyers of Australia, would not know what “ Eminent Domain “ meant in connexion with legislation of this kind. I suppose that I have had as much experience as most lawyers, but I confess that I should not know that it was intended under this fancy expression to provide merely for the acquisition of lands for public purposes. I say, without hesitation or fear of contradiction by any lawyer in Australia, that, off-hand, lawyers would not know that an Act called the “ Eminent Domain Act” was simply to enable the Commonwealth to acquire land for public purposes. The important use of a short title is to indicate the nature of the Act to Which it relates. You can, of course, use any fancy name you like. But that is not a sensible thing to do. It is desirable to use a title which will indicate to the people what the object of the measure is. It is for that reason, and not because I am opposed to the use of picturesque names, that I object to the title originally given to this Bill. We should use a title whose meaning will be apparent at once to any person who wants to know what the powers of the Commonwealth are with respect to this matter. My honorable friend, Senator Keating, has raised no objection to the title of “Lands Acquisition.” It is not possible to object to it. It is the one title which exactly describes this measure. If my honorable friend had’ shown that it was misleading or inaccurate, or might confuse people, we might have been with him. But he has given no reason. The title of the Bill now is “Lands Acquisition,” and I trust that honorable senators will not agree to strike it out.
– - To corroborate what Senator Symon has said, I may mention that the other day in Melbourne I met an eminent barrister, who said to me, in reference to this Bill,” What the dickens does Eminent Domain mean?” If a K.C. did not know, is it likely that a layman would understand the term? I think that the proposed short title is ridiculous.
– I very much regret that this question has -been thrust on us again. I express the hope that the Committee will adhere to the common-sense term which it has been decided to use, and will not again insert the misleading title, “ Eminent Domain.”
– - I must confess that I am rather in a quandary about this matter. I have always been in favour of making our Acts of Parliament so plain that even a layman might understand them. I was very much struck by the argument of Senator Symon. If I looked at the index to a book of statutes, and saw the title “ Lands Acquisition,” I should understand it. But if I struck “ Eminent Domain,” and had not had the advantage of hearing or reading the debates in the Senate, I should never dream that it referred to the acquisition of land.
– Suppose the honorable senator looked up the English Act, and found the title “ Lands Clauses Consolidation Act,” what would he think that meant ?
– The value of that title lies only in its age.
– I should prefer to vote with the Government, but should like to hear some reasons why the present title of the Bill should be changed. I can easily understand my honorable friend, Senator Best, wishing the title to be so obscure that people will pay fees to him to tell them what it means.
– I do not know that it is a matter of vital importance which of the two titles in dispute is given to this important measure. The reason that actuated me in voting for the title “Eminent Domain” was that it was picturesque, most expressive, and a term well recognised in connexion with measures of this character.
– The honorable senator cannot mention a single measure of this kind called “ Eminent Domain.”
– It is recognised in some of the American Statutes.
– - Not one 1 . Mention one !
– It is denned in Wharton’s Law Lexicon.
– But the average layman does not possess that work.
– It is defined to mean -
The power which a Government retains oer the lands of individuals to resume them for public use.
That is precisely the object of this Bill. It puts the matter succinctly and expresses the intention exactly.
– What objection is there to “ Lands Acquisition “ ?
– None whatever - no more than there is to “ Eminent Domain.” But when it is said that it is absolutely essential for the title to indicate what the Bill is), we turn to the English Act. Would any honorable senator know what was meant if, on consulting an index of Acts of Parliament, he saw “ Lands Clauses Consolidation Act ‘ ‘ ? Can we conceive for a moment of the ordinary layman, without any special experience, taking that title to refer to the acquisition of lands, and the payment of compensation?
– Certainly ; that Act consolidates the previous Statutes on the subject.
– But such a title might be connected with fifty subjects; there is nothing in it to indicate that it refers to the acquisition of lands for public purposes. The title “ Eminent Domain “ would rapidly become known to the general public, and prove infinitely more expressive than the term hitherto used. I admit at once that if the title as introduced had been “ Lands Acquisition “ I should not have taken any exception to it.
– It is very simple and intelligible, is it not?
– It is as simple and intelligible as “ Eminent Domain.” We need not be at all apprehensive about venturing on the title of “Eminent Domain,” which so simply and succinctly expresses the character of the Bill.
– As I voted yesterday I intend to vote to-day, and I sincerely hope the Committee will retain the clause in its amended form. I gave my vote yesterday. inspired with the thought that the plainer the title of an Act the better it must be for the public. Wharton’s Law Lexicon has been quoted to us, but I venture to say there are many thousands of people who consult indexes of Acts of Parliament to-day, and who are not aware of the existence of such a book, and would never make it their business to find out the meaning of “ Eminent Domain.” Lawyers may have a great store of knowledge, and acquire fine libraries, but many thousands of people in their daily life have 1:0 use for such works of reference, and consequently we should so frame our Acts of Parliament that they may be easily understoodby laymen.
.- It would hardly appear that we hope to conclude our parliamentary work within six weeks or two months, when we take, as we have done already, two divisions on the mere title of a Bill. One title suggested expresses clearly to the ordinary mind the intention of the Bill, while the other presents a sort of speculative puzzle. Is it not common-sense to call a spade a spade, and thus do away with the picturesque title of “ Eminent Domain “ ? In the first instance I supported the title of “Eminent Domain.,” because I believed there might be some subtle legal reason for its adoption, but up to the present I have not heard advanced in its favourany reason that convinces me.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
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, 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.
– Since the long discussion on this clause yesterday an amendment has been drafted which, while meeting the views of those who are opposed to the original terms, will be perfectly consistent with other provisions. The amendment that was submitted yesterday, and the spirit of which, at any rate, was adopted, incorporated a portion of section 3 of the present Act with the addition of some further words. If that amendment, as then agreed to, be permitted to stand, it will, to some extent, overlap clause 15, which provides that the Governor-General may approve of the acquisition of land by the Commonwealth, by agreement with the owner. The first part of the amendment adopted yesterday on the motion of Senator Best provides that the GovernorGeneralmay agree with the owner of any land which isrequired for public purposes, and withany State where such land is Crown land, for the absolute purchaseby the Commonwealth, and so forth. It will be seen that this portion of the clause, as amended, is really a repetition of clause 15, and to that extent unnecessary.
– Of course we do not desire any repetition.
– On the spur of the moment yesterday, when the amendment was submitted, I expressed the opinion that all cases were provided for, seeing that by the Bill the Governor-General was empowered to acquire land by agreement with the owner, and that “owner,” according to the definition, included a State. I also said yesterday that I desired to communicate with those experienced in the working of the existing Act, as regards the acquisition of land from the States. The same difficulty presents itself in the amended clause as is presented in the law as it stands now. We desire to have absolute control given, so that the States authorities, in disposing of land by agreement, may rest their authority on the force of this Bill. Honorable senators agreed yesterday that it was desirable that that result should be achieved, but some criticism was levelled against clause 6 as it stood. It was contended that it was offensively worded, or was expressed in some terms that were unnecessary. I intend to submit an amendment which will adopt the spirit of the amendment agreed to yesterday, and will, I think, effect the object we all desire to attain. It has been prepared by the draftsman of the Bill, and is expressed in a form consistent with the other provisions of the measure, and will, I believe, carry out the object of the Committee - to make the acquisition of lands from tine States the subject of negotiations rather than of compulsory acquisition.. I propose to negative clause 6 as it stands, and to submit the amendment as a new clause in lieu of it.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “6a. Where the Governor of a State agrees with the Governor-General for the sale or lease of any Crown land to the Commonwealth, any instrument or assurance executed by the Governor for granting, conveying, or leasing the land to the Commonwealth accordingly shall (by force of this Act, and notwithstanding anything in the law of the State) be valid and effectual to vest the land in the Commonwealth according to the tenor thereof.”
-Col. Gould. - That is simply going back to the provision we have already altered, giving power to the Go vernor of a State to override any State law in order to grant land to the Commonwealth.
– In the amendment I submit we do not purport in terms to vest the Governor of a State with that power, but we say that where he actually does purport to convey, any instrument or assurance executed by him. shall take effect according to its terms, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law of the State. If, for instance, the Governor of a State gives a grant of land to the Commonwealth, free from a reservation or condition which would apply to a private grant, we say that he shall be at liberty to do so. A law of the State might perhaps come into conflict with our law in the matter ; but to the extent to which it is in conflict with our law it becomes inoperative under the Constitution. I think that the terms of the amendment are much more in accordance with what honorable senators desire should be the tone of the provision, and I have therefore much pleasure in submitting it for the approval of the Committee.
.- There can be no doubt that the amendment omits to some extent what certainly was offensive in the clause as it stood. The main objection I took to the clause as it stood was that it enacted direct legislation by the Commonwealth with respect to what the Governor of a State should do. The amendment now submitted carries out in spirit, and almost completely, the terms of the amendment I proposed. Of course, my amendment was drawn on the floor of the Senate, and it could not be expected that it would be expressed in the precise language in which, after thoughtful consideration, it might have been clothed. I regard as completely unnecessary, and still take objection to, the words , in the clause as now submitted - “ and notwithstanding anything, in a law of the State.”
– I understand that the Crown law officers of the State desire to have those words included.
– I am afraid that, unless ‘we include some phrase of the kind, they will not consider the provision strong enough.
– The Minister, as a lawyer, will not contend that those words are necessary.
– Some lawyers do.
– No. Some lawyers did contend that they were necessary, if the form in which the clause, as at first submitted was to be adhered to. But I do not think that any one can validly suggest that it: is necessary to retain these words in the form in which the provision is now expressed. When the several States surrendered to us the various powers which are now embodied in the Constitution, and enabled us to acquire land, what was meant was that we should be enabled to acquire that land free from anl encumbrances. That is the meaning, of the term ira the Constitution - that we are empowered to take land free from all encumbrances, or any lesser estate, as we may think proper. Consequently, a clause of this character, which provides that any instrument taken by us shall validly and completely vest property in the Commonwealth, is merely an exercise of our powers under the Constitution. In the circumstances, when we say that land shall vest by force of this Act in the Commonwealth according to the tenor of the instrument or assurance executed by the Governor of a State, that is all that is necessary, because that in itself implies that we have exercised the full powers given us by the Constitution, and where the exercise of that power is inconsistent with the laws of a State, we know that the law of the ‘Commonwealth must necessarily prevail. That is implied not only in the sub-section of section 51 of the Constitution, dealing with the acquisition of land by the Commonwealth,, but it is also directly stated in section J09. If the words “ and notwithstanding anything in a law of the State” are left out, the proposed clause will be less offensive. I believe that they are merely surplusage, and I therefore move -
That the words “ and notwithstanding anything in the law of the State,” be left out.
– What about the words “ bv force of this Act “ ?
– I do not think that they are necessary ; but if the Minister thinks that they are of any value I have no objection to their retention.
– I do think them of value.
– I think it unwise to retain the words “ and notwithstanding anything contained in a law of the State.”
– It is only to show that this legislation operates independently of them.
– But that is not necessary.
– The honorable and learned senator is aware of what I have said so many times.
– All in relation to the existing law.
– The same objection will be raised in connexion with this law.
– Does Senator Best not desire that we should make our intention plain? ‘
– Undoubtedly I do; but I say that the words I have objected to aw unnecessary, and the Minister will not con. tend that they are necessary.
– Are we going to do this in every case?
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [6.25J. - I have practically the same objection to the proposed new clause that I had to clause 6 as originally introduced. The clause as it stood originally read as follows : -
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.
We know that under the Constitution the Commonwealth Parliament has power in any Act that it may see fit to pass to acquire land bv compulsory process. That would cover all reservations usually made. In the clause as now submitted, we are asked to say that the Governor of a State may agree to sell land to the Commonwealth, and that upon the execution of the conveyance the whole estate in the land shall vest in the Commonwealth, notwithstanding the fact that it may be in direct contravention of the laws of the State. A State Parliament may pass a law to provide that certain land shall be sold subject to certain reservations, and if the Commonwealth should require that land free from all reservations, the proper course to adopt would be to acquire the land by compulsory process, and not to attempt by means of an agreement between the State and Commonwealth Governments to over-ride a law dealing with the alienation of land passed by the Parliament of the State. We have the necessary power under the Constitution, and we could exercise it by the compulsory acquisition of such land. The
Commonwealth would lose nothingby adopt ing that course, whilst the States Governments would not be called upon to disregard the laws they are sworn to uphold and maintain. It is perfectly true that where the Commonwealth law is in conflict with a State law, the Commonwealth law must prevail, but we should infringe States rights and interfere with States legislation only where it is absolutely necessary to do so. It is not absolutely necessary in the case under notice, because the compulsory provisions of the Bill are quite sufficient for the purpose.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– As I said before, both in speech and by interjection, I think that the clause without the words sought to be deleted would be quite sufficient to give to these conveyances and assurances the effect which we desire to give to them. But, so far as the existing Act is concerned, there is, and has been, a doubt in the minds of certainresponsible officers of the States. I think, and I believe that Senator Best also thinks, that it empowers the States to dispose of these lands, regardless ofany conditions which might attach, to them in the case of private disposal. Still a doubt exists, and it is most likely that in the absence of these words a question would be raised as to the effect of the provision.
– Butno words in the existing Act are so strong as the proposed new clause with these words deleted.
– That may be. Still, what we want to do is to obviate the chance of any possible doubt arising. In my opinion, honorable senators will be well minded if they assist me to retain the words.
– Although the honorable senator does not think that they are of any value ?
– I think that with the words no doubt could be raised.
– That is. if they will take the opinion of this Parliament.
– If, relying upon our own opinion that the clause would be sufficiently strong, we left out the words, still we should have to depend upon State officers in responsible positions adopting our opinion. If we retained the words-
– It would be an expression of the opinion of this Parliament.
– Decidedly not.
– The retention of the words would give no additional force.
– I think it would, because it makes our provision directly inconsistent with the provisions of the States laws. I appreciate Senator Best’s statement that, so far as the rest of the new clause is concerned, it is intended to effect the object which we all have in common, and meets his wishes, as it is not worded like the original provision which, to him and others, seemed offensive. If we retain these words, then there can be no possible doubt raised as to the intention of this Parliament that the laws of the States, so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of our Lands Acquisition Act, shall not haveany application when lands are being disposed of by way of private agreement by the State to the Commonwealth for a public purpose.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [7.51]. - I entirely agree with the view that Senator Best has expressed. Without the words which he seeks to delete the clause would be absolutely clear and effective. It is a matter of, so to speak, constitutional conveyancing. We are putting in, not by virtue of our powers simply as the Parliament of the Commonwealth, butby virtue of the Constitution, a new clause whichsays that when an agreement is made between the Governor of a State and the Governor-General of the Commonwealth for the acquisition of a piece of land on the execution of the assurance or conveyance the land shall absolutely vest in the Commonwealth. What more is required?My honorable friend says that the retention of these words might indicate the intention of this Parliament. The intention ofthis Parliament is nothing. The force of the new clause will be derived from the Constitution, which says-that we can enact a provision of this kind. If there is any law of a State inconsistent with our. provision it must give way. We cannot make that provision in the Constitution stronger or weaker.
– Why notsay so?
– This Parliament has no power to repeal State laws, or to say that anything shall be done notwithstanding a State law. It has power to say that certain things shall be done, and, if there be an inconsistent1 State law, then, under the Constitution, it will be set aside. ‘ We cannot qualify or lessen the force ofany State law. I think that Senator Keating would be well advised to accept the amendment. I should have been disposed to go further, and eliminate the words “ bv force of this Act,” because the provision could only have force b> virtue of the Act. It is not worth while troubling about that, and if the Minister is pleased I am satisfied.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Bill reported with a. further amendment.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would preclude the Bill from being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20th, July (vide page 1613), on motion by Senator Playford -
That: the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [7.57]- - The most favorable thing .that can be said about this Bill is that it is a fanciful and experimental piece of legislation. It is not the outcome of any practical need ; nor is it introduced to meet any general demand.
Honorable senators may say that there is nothing in the nature of trusts and combines in the Commonwealth which demands the enactment of such legislation.
That is exactly what I do say. It is what I believe all of us will say. My honorable friend went on -
I do not care whether there is or is not.
– The honorable senator must not refer to debates of this session in another place.
– I shall refer to what was, stated “ elsewhere.”
– The honorable senator cannot get over the difficulty by that subterfuge. The standing order provides that -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or toany measure impending therein.
– Very well, I shall not allude to what was said in another place. I desire to make a very important correction on behalf of South Australia. It has been stated that the harvester industry in South Australia has been crushed out by importations. It has been stated that it has been practically monopolized in that State by the American article. Isay that these statements are without a shadowof foundation.
– I never heard of them.
– That may be so. but it has been so stated and in most emphatic terms. I propose to submit to honorable senators the figures on thesubject, and to show that if there has been an interference in South Australia, with the local manufacturers of harvesters, it has. been an interferenceby the harvester manufacturers of Victoria. I am not complaining of that at all. I do not think that anyone has a right to complain of it. So long as we are a Federation, and the barriersbetween the States have ‘been removed, trade must flow freely, and the manufacturers of the various States must take their chance of fair competition. But I think it important that these figures which I have taken some trouble to ascertain should be given. This is a. statement approximately of the number of stripper harvesters sold in South Australia between 1000 and 1905.
– The honorable senator proposes to refer to sales of imported as. well as of locally-manufactured harvesters ?’
– Yes, I shall give the whole of the particularsas furnished to me. In 1900,in South Australia, the International Harvester Company sold no harvesters; the Massey-Harris Company none; McKay, of Victoria, sold 20. He was the only person who sold harvesters in South Australia that year. In that year nonewere sold in that State by Nicholson and Morrow, of Victoria ; by Robinson and Company, of Victoria; by May Brothers and Company, of South Australia; by James Martin and Company, of South Australia; or Hawke and Company, of South; Australia. In 1901, the International Harvester Company sold none ; the MasseyHarris Company none. McKay, of Victoria, increased his sales to 70. Nicholson; and Morrow, of Victoria, sold 36 ; Robinson and Company of Victoria, 10; and the South Australian manufacturers sold none. In 1902, the International Harvester Company sold none; the MasseyHarris Company 52 ; McKay, of Victoria, 100; Nicholson and Morrow, of Victoria, 1 2 ; Robinson and Company, of Victoria, 25. In this year for the first time theSouth Australian manufacturers began to sell, and May Brothers and Company, of that State, sold 20. Martin and Company 5, and Hawke and Company 5; so that half the harvesters sold in South Australia in1902 were sold by McKay. In1903 the International Harvester Companysold none, the Massey-Harris Company 129.. McKay 175, Nicholson and Morrow none,
Robinson and Company 75, May Brothers of South Australia, 55, Martin and Company 20, and Hawke and Company 20. In 1904 the International Harvester Company sold 25, the Massey-Harris Company 464, McKay, of Victoria,. 360, Nicholson and Morrow 35, Robinson and Company 150, May Brothers, of South Australia, 200, Martin and Company 40, and Hawke and Company 30. In 1905 the International Harvester Company sold 100, the MasseyHarris Company 199, McKay, of Victoria, 250, Nicholson and Morrow 45, Robinson and Company 100, May Brothers and Company, of South Australia, 75, Martin and Company 35, and Hawke and Company 35. The total sales in South Australia from 1900 to 1905 were - International Harvester Company, 125; the Massey-Harris Company, 844; McKay, of Victoria, 975 ; Nicholson and Morrow, 328; Robinson and Company,360; May Brothers and Company, of South Australia, 350: Martin and Company, 100; and Hawke and Company, 90. This gives a total of 2,972 harvesters sold, and of that number those sold by Victorian manufacturers totalled 1,463. That is just about one-half the total number. The total number sold by the importers was 969. and by South Australian manufacturers 504.
– The increased sales of locally-manufactured harvesters took place after the discovery that the importers were under-valuing their machines for Customs purposes.
– Yes, in 1904 and 1905.
– That did not affect the sales of the machines.
– It increased the local production of them. That is shown by the honorable senator’s figures.
– I am pointing out that the figures I have been able to obtain show that the statement that the imported harvesters had crushed out the manufacture of harvesters in South Australia is not justified.
– The Government of which the honorable and learned senator was a member increased the valuation of the imported harvesters, on which the importers were expected to pay Customs duties.
– The honorable senator is referring to something which has no bearing on the matter to which I am directing the attention of the Senate. I amnot saying whether the valuation of the imported harvesters for Customs purposes, was increased or reduced, but that it is wrong to make a statement of the kind to which I have referred in the absence of any facts to justify it. If that statement is the ground upon which a measure of this kind is introduced In the interests of Mr. McKays all I have to say is that, so far from proving it, the approximate figures, so far as I have been able to check them, disprove that statement.
– How were the figures obtained ?
– I obtained them, after the best inquiry I could make, from the International Harvester people, the Massey-Harris people, and so on. Honorable senators may check them if they please.
– I am not disputing them.
– I understand that. No one complains that a man should do well for himself. If Mr. McKay desires absolute prohibition in respect of these machines, and is able to secure it, small blame to him; but the point is that he is the gentleman whohas been supplying the great bulk of the harvesters sold in South Australia. They have not been supplied by the importers, but by Victorian manufacturers, whoseenterprise and activity, and, if my honorable friends like, whose skill has succeeded to that extent in capturing the market.
– They commenced to make the articles first.
– I do not know whether they did or did not.
– The honorable senator’s figures show that they did.
– No ; my figures show that theyfirst began to sell them in South Australia.
– As a matter of fact, in the first years which the honorable senator quoted, no harvesters were made in South Australia.
– I should think that at the time no harvesters were made in South Australia, but that is immaterial. I am not quoting these figures with the view of suggesting sympathy or any thing of that kind. That is not the point on which we are engaged. The manufacturers of South Australia must take their chance, because, whilst we may seek to prohibit importations, which is undoubtedly the object of the second part of the Bill, that will not benefit them if the injury to their factories arises from the keener competition of a better article made in Victoria.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear one manufacturer in South Australia complain of the manufacturers in Victoria or anywhere in Australia? Never.
– I am very glad to hear that statement, and it is what I should expect from the manufacturers of South Australia. I am glad that they stand out in startling contrast to the attitude, and, for the matter of that, the conduct of the chiefmanufacturer of these harvesters in Victoria.
– They were the first to complain about the imported harvesters being dumped upon them.
– I shall leave my honorable friend to get reconciled with Senator McGregor.
– I was the first to ventilate their complaint.
– My honorable friend is always first and generally last. Whilst we are asked to pander -I hope that we shall not - to the motive or cause, or operative reason for this Bill attributable to Victoria, let us also think of whether, even if we rectify anything, if there is a grievance in relation to harvesters, we may be doing a very grave injury in other directions.
– To the consumer, for instance?
– Ishall deal with the consumer in a moment. It has been brought under my notice lately - and I am convinced that the grievance which will arise under the Bill is just - that it will not merely strike the importation of harvesters, but will strike the importation and the use of machinery used largely in the boot trade, which cannot be otherwise acquired. That ought to make us pause before we pass a measure of this kind. It may be like a boomerang. It may hit one object, but it may come back, and do damage in another direction. I am no authority on the matter, but I have gone into a statement of the position, and, so far as Icanjudge. it is a true one. There are in existence now agreements with boot manufacturers, probably in Victoria, but certainly in South Australia, for the use, upon royalty or licence, of machinery made in America, which the owners will not sell, and which they willonly let, so to speak, on licence.
– These agreements are in existence in New South Wales too.
– I have no doubt that that is so, if my honorable friend makes the statement.
– And in Western
– These machines belong, I shall assume, to a body of: persons, or company, who would constitute a combine ‘or a commercial trust under this measure. But that is one of the trusts or combines as far as I am aware, which come within the definition that the Minister gave of what might be a good and beneficial trust. They acquire patents. It is their business to be on the look-out for improvements in bootmaking machinery, to examine whatever patents are offered to them, to reject those which are useless or not of much value, and to accept those which are of value. It is their business to encourage men to exercise their brains in the way of making improvements in machinery, and appliances in connexion with that particular department of trade and manufacture. And by reason of that their machinery is, I am told the very best in the world.
– If it is patented machinery, that gives a monopoly in itself.
– I am not talking about patenting. If that is a combine, in this Bill there is a provision that no person, either as principal or agent, is to enter into any contract or to continue to be a member of, or engage in any combination in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States with intent to restrain trade or commerce to the detriment of the public; and every agreement of that character which is open to be attacked on that ground is declared to be null and void.
– The honorable senator must assume that there will be a reasonable amount of common-sense exercised in administering the law.
– It will not apply to existing agreements.
– It will, because the word “continues” is used.
– That refers to the case of a man who continues to be a member of a trust.
– Clause 4 leads as follows: -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.
– “ Entered into in contravention of this section.”
– A man will engage in the combination if he become a party to it.
– Could he enter into an agreement in contravention of a section before it had become law ?
– The clause will apply to a man who continues an agreement into which he has entered beforehand.
– My honorable friend will have an opportunity of dealing with that point if the Bill should get into Committee. I am putting now the view which I take of the effect of this clause and other provisions. In my opinion, they would, if passed, bring into peril those boot and shoe manufacturers who, under an existing agreement, have that machinery, or who hereafter introduce it into their factories. The result would be that we should have to follow up this legislation with a Bill which, when an - agreement became void, would confiscate the machinery, the honest property of somebody else, or else we should ruin the boot manufacturer who had the machinery on his premises. No one can deny, as the Minister of Defence said, that there are good combines and bad combines. Therefore, if the Bill does not discriminate so far as mere restraint of trade is concerned, it ought not to be placed upon the statutebook.
– It must be proved that the combination, is to the detriment of the public.
– I am coming to that point in a moment. I have referred honorable senators to specific matters which might have been alluded to. Is there any reason for the Bill because of any lessened prosperity of the Commonwealth? Is there one particle of evidence on which the Senate can be asked to pass the Bill because of injury detrimental to the public? According to statistics we have seen in Victoria, which islargely. honorably, and profitably associated with manufacture, perhaps, to a greater extent than any of the other States, the prosperity is absolutely unparalleled. So far as I am aware, there never has been anything like the prosperity indicatedby the figures which the Government Statist of this State published in the Melbourne press yesterday. The earning power per head of the people of the State is the greatest in the world. In Canada it is£16 5s., the United States£14 14s., the United Kingdom£7 18s. 6d., and Victoria . £27 19s. 6d.
– And yet, according to special articles in the press, people are starving in this city.
– My honorable friend knows perfectly well that that is a subject upon which a great deal may be said, but it does not affect the point to which I am directing his attention. He will admit that it is a remarkable fact that the prosperity of Victoria is absolutely unprecedented. The prosperity of the whole of Australia, we know, is unprecedented, but I am proud to think that the prosperity of Victoria isof the character which these figures indicate. Where is there anything in that to justify the introduction of this Bill?
– The honorable senator wants some injury to be done before he will bring in a Bill to deal with it.
– I do notwant some injury to be done.
– We are very prosperous, and we could be more prosperous if we had wiser legislation.
– That I admit, and I hope thatmy honorable friend will join with me in repealing some provisions of Commonwealth laws which are exceedingly unwise.
– And to make some wise ones.
– I am content with my honorable friend’s admission that there is unwise legislation.
– There is not sufficient wise legislation.
– Let me now refer to the returns which were published the other day in the Victorian Gazette. It is a most remarkable fact that during the last three or four years, in almost every department of metal -work and machinery, there has been an increase. This Bill is directed to the supposed buttressing up of, or preventing destruction coming upon, the manufacturers of agricultural implements. It is a remarkable thing that contemporaneously with its introduction we find an increase– ;a substantial increase from vear to vear - in the number pf hands employed, an expansion of that very business which, if we believe the heading of the Bill, is threatened with destruction.
– Yes ; but why take the figures for Victoria?
– I am giving the figures for Victoria because they are up-to-date.
– Why not give us the figures for the Commonwealth ?
– The honorable senator can give the figures for the Commonwealth. I prefer to deal with one thing at a time. In the agricultural implement-making business of Victoria the number of hands employed was 789 in 1902, 1,114 in 1903, 1,496 in 1904, and 1,624 in 1905 - a gradual increase to more than double the number of hands employed in the first-mentioned year. Surely that indicates expansion, prosperity, and not that diminution in this particular branch of manufacture that we have been led to believe had taken place.
– Has it struck the honorable and learned senator that the first year which he mentioned was a year of failure in wheat-growing throughout Australia? I refer to .1902.
– I do not know, but I will accept what my honorable friend says. That remark is, of course, applicable all round. A statement was made some time last year, when the agitation about harvesters began, that Mr. McKay had had to dismiss 150 employes. But he dismissed them because the harvesters were all sold for that season. And so it is with other elements that are applicable to the fluctuations of trade. I do not know whether mv honorable friend Senator Trenwith ‘s statement is right or not. But all such considerations affect the fluctuations of production. When production fluctuates we ought not to say immedi ately, “ Oh, that is owing to the importation of harvesters, ploughs, and harrows from America and England.” Instead of there being any specific injury which is sought to be cured by this Bill, no instance of the kind has been given. On the contrary, there is general prosperity in all branches of trade and production, and there is a particular expansion in that very business of agricultural implement manufacturing which is said to be the immediate occasion for the introduction of this Bill.
– What has the honorable senator been quoting from?
– From the Victorian Government Gazette of Tuesday, July, 24. The figures are signed by the Government Statist. I have also an abstract which appeared in the press of a report bv Mr. Harrison Ord, which shows a great increase in the registered factories in Victoria. He goes back as far as 1886, when there were 1,949 registered factories with 39,506 employes. Without troubling the Senate with the intermediate years, I come down to T905, when there were 4,623 registered factories, and 63.270 employes. There was a steady increase each year under Federation. The number of registered factories in 1901 was 4,238. The number had increased last year by 400 additional factories. The hands employed were 56,945 in 1901, and 63,270 in 1905.
– Is not that immense progress in five years in a new country like this !
– I think it is magnificent progress for Victoria, with her diminishing population - for Victoria had already reached the zenith of manufacturing enterprise before Federation. It is a magnificent result, especially when we find that New South Wales and the other States are also going ahead in manufacturing progress, and that Victoria has to face their competition. It is satisfactory and substantial progress, of which this State ought to be extremely proud.
– Especially compared with the condition of some of the other States.
– Quite so. Looking at the facts which have been brought before the Senate, I say that this Bill has been introduced absolutely without any cause. If that were all, it would not justify what my honorable friend the Minister argued that it is desired to lay in a stock of physic against the patient’s getting ill. It would have been a sort of explanation of the position to say, “ Oh, the Commonwealth Parliament has not much to do that is of importance, and may as well occupy itself upon a Bill of this kind, as, perhaps, adjourn, or be engaged upon something more mischievous.” But I complain that this Bill is not merely inoffensive and useless, but that it will have a tendency to throw trade and commerce into the law Courts.
– Surely the honorable senator does not object to that !
– If I were looking at this matter from a lawyer’s point of view only, I should say that it offers a splendid vista of prosperity for the legal profession. From the point of view of a citizen I look upon it with regret, though from the point of view of the profession it might be regarded with rejoicing. I deplore it. We .ought, in dealing with trade and commerce, to keep them as far as possible from the law, and as : fat as possible within the ambit of ‘arrangements that are consistent with the methods of conducting them which have generally prevailed throughout the Commonwealth. We have no instance of combines and trusts here. They may or may not exist ; at any rate, there is none that is mischievious. Happy is the country of which that can be said ! If we desire to facilitate the admission of the free air of competition, which we are told has been interfered with, or can be interfered with, I say Jet us do it by some means’ by which we shall not run the risk of throwing every business of any magnitude into the law-courts. It reminds me of that old and well-known book, Gulliver’s Travels. Honorable senators will recollect that when Gulliver got amongst the Lilliputians he found himself bound, or attempted to be bound, hand and- foot with pack thread and other like ligaments. It is a singular thing, but my recollection is that the land of Lilliput is described by Swift as lying north-west of the island of Van Diemens Land ! And so we have in this Bill the great trade and commerce of this vast continent attempted to be laid by the heels and bound hand and foot by a lot of puny ligaments. I put that argument, because, not merely does the Bill invoke the law courts in every line and every clause, but when you have done that your efforts will fail, because I predict that you will never be able to carry- it out. I do not wish to say anything about the Government being sincere or not sincere in bringing in this Bill. But if there is any sincerity in its purpose, I do say that there will be failure in its performance.
– Why should the honorable senator frighten people about the Bill if it will not hurt them?
– It is because it will frighten them that I object to it. They need not go to their lawyers to learn how to avoid it. Even my honorable friend would have wisdom enough to advise them that they could easily get through a Bill of this kind. But if you put such a measure on the statute-book, you cause litigation, you cause difficulty and trouble, and you interfere with the operations of trade. My honorable friend appears to have very little appreciation of the sensitiveness of trade. This Bill professes to remove restraints, whereas it creates a great many more than it removes. Before referring to the clauses of the Bill, I should like to say that monopolies are not, of course, to be confused with a greatly extended or greatly expanded business. An individual with considerable capital, with capacity, power of production, and other advantages, may so manage his own business as to bring it to such a pitch of pertfection and power that it may amount to a practical monopoly.
– That is often the case.
– Are honorable senators going to interfere with that kind of thing- - to prevent that expansion which is the very life-blood of trade and commerce ?
– Certainly not.
– I am glad to hear that, but I will point out how this Bill does interfere in that respect. Here I should like to pay my tribute to a speech recently delivered by Mr. Harper. I will not say where it was delivered, in obedience to your ruling, Mr. President, but I will say that I read it, and read it with attention, and that it is in itself one of the most statesmanlike speeches delivered by a man of experience and knowledge of trade in this country, that it has ever been my lot to look through. The foundation of all legislation, of this kind rests upon the feeling that anything in the nature of restraint of trade is obnoxious. The Bill has no object whatever unless it professes to prevent that. The phrase “ restraint of trade” is used in t’he Bill. It is a term that is commonly understood. It occurs certainly in the earlier clauses, beginning with clause 4. But the real effect, as far as I can gather from the rest of the clauses, will be to restrain trade in Australia. We have had laid before us - and we are indebted to the Government for them - a number of papers giving information as to what has been clone in other countries. There is no legislation in any country that at all approaches this Bill. In the ordinary law of England there is the great doctrine that any contracts which are in restraint of trade are void as against public policv. It needs no Bill or measure of this character to establish that proposition; and that is the law in Australia, as well as in England. It is the same law which existed so long ago as the time of Queen Elizabeth, when monopolies - that is, true monopolies - were granted bv the Sovereign, giving the exclusive right to sell, and thus leading to the raising of prices. These monopolies were put a stop to, because the people of England were sp roused in consequence of the injustice caused by their exactions that they were on the brink of revolution. The Queen’s Ministers were approached, with the result that a number of the monopolies were swept away. The same principle underlies the legislation in America ; and on this point I shall read not more than one or two passages, though I invite honorable senators’ attention to the principles which are laid down in the laws which have beam passed in that country. The law in the States of Arkansas, as shown in the ‘circulated paper No. 14. is directed to combinations which tend to lessen free competition in the importation, production, or sale of goods. That is the cardinal idea which runs through the whole of the legislation in America. If those combinations lessen free competition, or result in regulating or fixing prices, they are deemed to be conspiracies, punishable by imprisonment or fine. At page 9 of the very interesting digest of cases which has been furnished to us. honorable senators will, find the law shortly stated to the same effect - the keynote is combinations tending to lessen free competition or importation. At page 7 in the digest of cases there is one headed The United States v. the Chesapeake Ohio
Fuel Company, and the Court in giving judgment said -
The important question is not whether the performance of the contract so far has resulted in actual injury to trade, but whether the contract confers power to regulate and restrain trade, upon those charges with its performance. . . It looks to individual competition, rather than to combinations, for the benefits which are to follow and flow from commerce between the States, and, in the exercise of its constitutional power, has prohibited all combinations which restrain trade. It is for Congress to determine whether the policy it has adopted shall be maintained as the one which will best promote the interests of the country, or whether it shall abandon that policy, and place the Inter-State commerce of the country_ in the hands of combinations. But until Congress takes that course, as long as this Act remains upon the statutebooks, it is the duty of the Courts to condemn every contract which necessarily in its performance involves a restraint of trade, although it may not extend to the point of a monopoly of all that trade.
What I desire to make clear to honorable senators is that the principle which ought to underlie this legislation, and which does underlie the legislation of other countries, is that there must not be anything that will operate in restraint of trade. Any restraint of trade is obnoxious to the law of England, and obnoxious to good sense and the interests of trade and commerce, as well as to the best interests of the people. If there is anything in the, nature of restraint of trade it ought to be wiped away. and free play of competition allowed.
– Is not fixing prices restraining trade?
– That depends.
– There is an authority which says that, whether the combinations are reasonable or not, they are illegal.
– If the honorable and learned senator thinks that fixing prices is in restraint of trade he- wi 1 act on that opinion.
– There are several cases in which the Courts say so.
– There are not, as Senator Best will find. I have looked into the cases with some care.
– It is not fair competition
– Why not ? What we have to look to is the consumer. If prices were fixed at a rate that allowed no profit - if goods were given to the consumer without any profit - surely the honorable senator would not suggest that that was in restraint of trade.
– l t might be.
– It might or it might not be; but, at any rate, it would not be so in the sense in which the phrase is used in this particular legislation.
– But it might be done with a view to ‘Crushing another company.
– If a case went to Court, the Judge would have to decide what was restraint of trade.
– The Minister shunts the whole matter on to the Court. This is a Bill to open the doors of the Court.- so that the commerce and trade of the country shall become a matter of litigation. It may be right to have such legislation; but all I desire to call attention to at present is that the Bill goes altogether beyond legislation elsewhere. The sections of the Sherman Act are not given in full in the documents which have been circulated, but they are stated sufficiently, and I have taken an opportunity to look at the Act itself. The important fact is recognised that in America the means of transport, which are a great aid to combinations, are in the hands of private companies. Of course, that state of things does not exist in Australia ; and there is not here the opportunity for those abatements and differentiations of rates which are most facile means of creating monopolies and combines in the United States. After passing that by, the compiler of the digest says -
While the Inter-State Commerce Act has no relation to trusts or combinations engaged in the manufacture, production, and sale of merchandise (its provisions relating only to the rights, liabilities, and duties of common carriers), this later statute (Sherman Anti-trust law) is of universal application, its purpose being to prohibit every contract or combination in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States or with foreign nations, whether made by carriers, manufacturers, producers, or shippers.
That is all. We have only to look at our own Bill to see that it goes altogether beyond the American legislation, and introduces a number of complications, which, if the object had been the same as in the United States, would tend to defeat it. The digest goes on to say that every contract in the form of a trust or otherwise - it does not matter what it is called - or con spiracy in restraint of trade or commerce, is illegal. That has nothing to do with the intent to interfere with other manufacturers, or anything of that kind, but deals simply with combinations in restraint of trade, or of commerce amongst the several States. Every combination which has that for its object is void, according to the law of England, and the American Statutes, going further than the ordinary common law, says that it shall be a misdemeanour. It makes that which, without this positive law, would be void and unenforcible by civil action, a criminal offence. That is the extent to’ which it goes, with various incidental provisions.
– There is liability to heavy fine, as well as imprisonment.
– Exactly; it is a criminal offence punishable by fine and imprisonment. The Sherman Act is simply directed against restraint of trade, and combinations in restraint of trade. What is the case in Canada and New Zealand? , In Canada, the Act, which is referred to in the digest, was passed in 1904, but in 1897 there was a general Tariff Act passed, containing a most excellent principle. If the Bill before us had proceeded on die same lines, I should have given it my unhesitating support. Section 18 of the Canadian Act of 1897 provides - -
Whenever the Governor-General in Council has reason to believe that with regard to any article of commerce there exists a trust, combination, association, or agreement of any kind amongst the manufacturers of such article, or dealers therein -
Honorable senators will see that this does not deal with importation, which is left untouched.
– They do not require that in Canada; they have a Tariff sufficient.
– Now we have it ! This, then, is a specific Act for prohibition, because the Tariff is not high enough. We are having a Tariff fight - I am not complaining of the interjection of the honorable senator-
– The honorable senator is placing on the interjection . a construction that it does not properly bear. I say that in Canada they do not require a Trust Act to deal with importations, because thev have none.
– They have a great deal ; but my honorable friend’s interjection, if “it means anything - and I do not think I atn going too far when I say this - means that this Bill is practically an addendum to the Tariff, for the purpose of prohibition. I pause to say that, if that be the case, the Bill is before this Parliament under false pretences, and that it ought not to be passed if it is’ intended as an addendum to the Tariff, and not merely as a Bill to promote freedom of trade.
– That does not do justice to mv interjection.
– I have no wish to do any injustice to the honorable senator, but I think that is a statement which is a perfectly just inference from what he said. If the honorable senator does not think so, he will be able to explain later. I continue the quotation from the Canadian Act -
Whenever the Governor in Council has reason to believe that with regard to any article of commerce there exists any trust, combination, association, or agreement of any kind among manufacturers of such articles or dealers therein, to unduly enhance the price of such articles, or in any other way to unduly promote the advantage of the manufacturers or dealers at the expense of the consumers -
– We had a similar provision in a draft Bill in 1902.
– In the Victorian Parliament?
– No, in the Commonwealth Parliament, if I remember rightly.
– I do not remember it, but I will say that that is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. This law has regard for the interest of the consumer, and I venture to say that it is the interest of the consumer that should be paramount in matters of this kind. That, at any rate, is the Canadian law, but that provision is unfortunately not abstracted in the papers submitted to honorable senators. An amendment of the Canadian Tariff Act was passed in 1904, with the object of dealing with what, in this Bill, is called “dumping.” I should say that this term appears here for the first time in any Act of Parliament as far as I am aware. I certainly never saw it in an Act of Parliament before. The compilers of the digest submitted to honorable senators refer to the Canadian Act of 1904, as one dealing with “ dumping.” The Canadian Act does not use that term, and the way in which it deals with it is totally different from that adopted here. The Canadian Act deals with the matter in a sensible way. What is it that we desire to prevent? Surely we do not desire to prevent the consumer getting the benefit of the importation of cheap goods? If a man secures a bargain in England by the purchase cheaply of articles of good1 quality, and imports them to Australia, surely the consumers are entitled to the advantage of that purchase .if it is offered them? Why should the importation of those goods be prohibited, I should like to know? The Canadian people have not said that such importations shall be prohibited. It iswith them merely a question of Customs duties. What the Canadians have said is that if bargains are obtained in the mother country or in America, ‘and are imported into Canada, the value of goods for the purpose of Customs duty must not be taken to be the bargain value, but must be taken to be the actual value in the place of export. That is perfectly legitimate for the purpose of duty.
– Is that section 18 ?
– No, that is in the Canadian Act of 1904, which is cited in the digest as against dumping. What is our provision against dumping? It is to exclude the goods altogether. A more monstrous thing was never suggested, and there is, no precedent to be found for such a course in any of the Acts recommended for our consideration and guidance. Section 19 of the Canadian Act of 1904 provides that -
Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs, or of any officer of Customs authorized to collect Customs duty, that the export price or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any imported dutiable article of .1 class or kind made or produced in Canada is less than the fair market value thereof, as determined according to the basis of value for duty provided in the Customs Act in respect of imported goods subject to an ad valorem duty, such article shall in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty for Customs equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price : Provided, however, that the special Customs duty on any article shall not exceed one half of the Customs duty, otherwise established in respect of the article - except in regard to certain articles enumerated in a schedule attached to the Act. Honorable senators will see that in this Bill we are being asked to prohibit the importation of these cheap goods, which might be for the benefit of the consumer. Why should we penalize him? Why should he be punished simply because goods are being imported cheaply ? It seems to me, and I think honorable senators will say the same, that in theBill the Government are in this respect proceeding on an altogether fallacious basis. Then I come to the New Zealand Act, and what does it provide? It proceeds in this matter on the same basis as the Canadian Act. It does not prohibit the importation of any goods. Of course, honorable senators are aware that it is limited in its operation to agricultural implements and so on, but it does not prohibit their importation. It does not say thatharvesters shall not be imported into New Zealand, but it says that if they are imported, and that by their importation substantial injury is done to the local industry, a bonus up to a limit of 33 per cent. may be allowed to the local manufacturer in order to compensate him for the injury. As honorable senators will see, the consumer is protected, under the New Zealand Act. I never knew, and I challenge any honorable senator to produce, a law from any civilized country which prohibits the importation of goods which, are bargains, so to speak, and which are sought to be sold cheaply in the country to which they are imported. Yet that is what we are asked to do in this lovely Bill !
– Every effectual protectionist duty is such a law.
– Is prohibition?
– It is not anything of the kind. But we are not dealing with the question of the Tariff, and I am objecting now to the introduction, under cover of promoting free competition and destroying monopoly, of a Bill intended to bring about prohibition, and prohibition, honorable senators must remember, which does not injure the exporters front the oversea country, but which injures and punishes the consumer, whether rich or poor, in this country. Human nature likes a bargain, and why should the consumers of thiscountry be deprived of bargains in the shape of cheap goods simply because some local trader has a big stock of them, not necessarily locally manufactured at all, and chooses to send in a complaint to the Minister, and get this complicated law put into operation to keep them out ?
– Because their cheapness may lead to a destruction of trade.
– I shall come to the destruction of trade, and the honorable senator will see how little there is in that.
– That is the only case in which the provision would be effective.
– I shall endeavour to satisfy my honorable friend on that point. At any rate, this Bill is aimed at the prevention of this free importation, and I say that that is the real object of the measure. In respect to the demolishing of restraints of trade the measure is a perfect sham. It pretends to remove restraints with one hand, and at the same time fastens them on to a greater extent with the other. It attempts to attain two diametrically opposite objects. It seeks, on one hand, to create a means of prohibiting the import of cheap foreign goods, and on the other hand to prevent any trust or individual unduly raising the price of necessary commodities against the people. In considering the clauses of this Bill it is well that we should’ remember that our power in this respect is limited. Honorable senators will recollect that we have no power to deal with trade which is confined in its operations to any one State. Our only power in this matter is to deal with trade and commerce between the States and with foreign countries. Clauses 5 and 8 are certainly couched in a form of words which makes it extremely doubtful if an attempt might not be made under this measure to interfere with trade which is absolutely confined within a particular State. Clause 5 provides that -
Any foreign corporation -
And, by-the-bye, I do not know how we are going to get at a foreign corporation.
– We shall get at them when they send their goods here.
– It is an utter impossibility to get at a. foreign corporation under this Bill -
Any foreign corporation or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth -
And that may be a State corporation - which either as principal or agent makes or enters into any contract or engages or continues in any combination -
– Only with a certain object.
– I do not care what the object is. I am sure that Senator Playford has not applied his mind to this particular matter. The question I am raising is whether the Bill does not, in terms, extend to corporations engaged in trade within the limits of a particular State. Clause 8 uses the same Ian guage, and will, in my view, have the same effect. It provides that -
Any foreign corporation or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth, which monopolizes or attempts to monopolize or combines or conspires with any person to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce within the Commonwealth -
That is not an exercise of the power we possess, a power which is exceedingly well defined in the digest of cases to which I think we may all refer with advantage. I can refer honorable senators to statements appearing on pages 6 and 7 of that digest which show clearly what the scope of our power is ire dealing with these matters. I quote from a judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States -
If, therefore, an agreement or combination directly restrains not alone the manufacturer -
That is not enough. The- restraint of manufacture alone does not come within the power of the Commonwealth - but the purchase, sale, or exchange of the manufactured commodity among the several States, it is brought within the provisions of the Statute.
On the same page it will be found that the learned Judges said -
We conclude that the plain language of the grant to Congress of power to regulate commerce among the several States includes power to legislate upon the subject of those contracts in respect to Inter-State or foreign commerce which directly affect and regulate that commerce.
A little lower down on the same page I find this -
The question is- as to the effect of such combination upon the trade in the article, and if that effect be to destroy competition, and thus advance the price, the combination is one in restraint of trade.
Although the jurisdiction of Congress over commerce among the States is full and complete, it is not questioned that it has none over that which is wholly within a State, and therefore none over combinations or agreements, so far as they relate to a restraint of such trade or commerce.
Again, in connexion with the Coal Trust case, at page 7 will be found a. passage which I have already read, and une sentence of which I shall read again -
Hut until Congress takes that course, as long as this Act remains upon the statute-books, it is the duty of the Courts to condemn every contract which necessarily in its performance in- volves a restraint of trade, although it may not extend to the point of a monopoly of all’ that trade.
And, again, the Supreme Court of Ihe United States says -
To the extent that the present decree includes in its scope the enjoining of defendants thus situated from combining in regard to contracts for selling pipe in their own State, it is modified and limited to that portion of the combination or agreement which is Inter-State in its character.
If the Bill should get into Committee, these two clauses will, therefore, require very grave consideration so as to prevent the possibility of their being construed, or being supposed to apply, to trades or manufactures limited in their operation within the boundaries of the State. I wish now to direct attention to the clauses under the head of “ Repression of Monopolies “ to show what they mean, and how thev are to be carried out. In the first place, honorable senators will see that the object goes far beyond the legislation to which I have referred. The first clause says -
Any person who either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is or continues to be a member of or engages in any combination in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
That is intended to meet combinations and trusts, and persons engaged in them,” or entering into contracts with them in Australia. It goes on to say-
Why should it say “ with intent “ ?
– Because that is made a criminal offence punishable by a fine of ^500.
– What is the . good of putting in the words “ with intent “ ?
– Surely it is necessary to provide that intent shall be proved if we are going to punish people criminally.
– It mav be.
– And if a man did it innocently he would not be punished.
– How is it proposed to prove this intent? It never could be proved.
– Then people never would be punished.
– It will only frighten them.
– I have endeavoured to show honorable senators that the objects of the Bill are, in my view, a sham ; but if they are a reality, the intention never could be carried out.
– There will be no trouble.
– I happen to know what the trouble is in these matters.
– It would be very difficult to prove a case.
– Why should the words “ with intent “ be put into our Bill when the Sherman Act in America does not contain them?
– We ought to use the words “ shall have the effect of restraining.”
– All I wish to point out is that the whole of the Bill is perfectly crude, ill-considered, and absurd. .
– The Bill provides two ways of dealing with the cases. Under another clause, the authorities can annul the agreement by injunction. Where it is intended to punish, it will be necessary to prove intent.
– My honorable friend says that the authorities can annul the agreement by injunction.
– If I remember aright the expression, “ with intent “ was specially inserted by the other House.
– The better way would be to strike out the whole clause.
– No, only the words *’ with intent.”
– My honorable friends are asked to enact that an Australian may enter into an arrangement in relation to trade or commerce - with intent to destroy or injure by means of unfair competition any Australian industry.
Do they imagine, or has there ever been a suspicion, that an Australian would enter into an arrangement to destroy an Australian industry?
– Yes, any number of them.
– My honorable friend lives in a strange kind of atmosphere, and knows people different from those with whom I am in the habit of coming into contact. I cannot conceive how such an absurd thing could be put into the Bill. Under the next clause, any foreign corporation, or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth is to be left free, so. far as regards the punishment which is the essence of the Sherman Act, unless this intent can be proved.
– The authorities could annul the contractby injunction.
– The contract would be annulled under the provision, and not by injunction.
– If intent be proved.
– All that could happen would be that the contract would be annulled. But let us see the other pit-fall. Not merely has the intent to be proved, but clause 6 says -
For the purposes of the last two preceding sections, unfair competition means competition which is unfair in the circumstances.
Who is to determine that? There are certain instances given, and one of them is -
If the defendant is a Commercial Trust.
As the Minister of Defence said, we might have a beneficial commercial trust. But if we did, then, simply because it was a trust, the arrangement into which it entered, or its existence, would establish that the competition was unfair. Is that a just or a reasonable provision to put into a Bill of this description? Then clause 6 goes on tosay -
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry.
Of course that is what I call the pretence of protecting labour. What would have to be proved ? According to clause 3 - “ Inadequate remuneration for labour “ includes inadequate pay or excessive hours or any terms or conditions of labour or employment unduly disadvantageous to workers.
Before we could reach the person whom it was desired to get at, it would be necessary to prove an intent to destroy, and that it was by means of unfair competition, and unfair competition would have to be proved - because it is not assumed - by usurping the functions of Arbitration Courts, Wages, and Factories Boards. It would also involve an intrusion into the State domain, and a determination by the Court at the instance of the person who said that his business was injured by unfair competition. An inquiry into all these things - as to whether or not the allegation was made out, that the employes would be likely to be subject to inadequate remuneration - opens up a vista of difficulties, which would render it impossible of effect, and the investigation would have to , take place in a Law Court. So whenever any provision in this part of the measure was sought to be brought into force, the operations of the importer or person who had entered into an agreement would be paralyzed, and. trade to that extent would be stopped, while the investigation was going on. And of course every manufacturer or trader who chose to say that a particular importation or arrangement or combine was likely to injure him, would endeavour to make out that the employes were inadequately remunerated within the large scope of the definition of “inadequate remuneration” in clause 3.
– According to the honorablesenator’s statement that could not be done, so that it does not matter.
– That is just what the man would try to do. My honorable friend may let Mr. McKay alone for trying to get within the provision. Again, what is meant by the word “ service “ in clause 7 ? It says -
Any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize, or combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, any part of the trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, withintent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any service.
Does that mean labour? . I do not know what it means.
SenatorPearce. -Woulditmeana shipping service?
– I think it isperfectly clear that, for one thing, the trade unions would come under the provision.
– They would be proved to be beneficent trusts.
– That would not keep them outside the operation of the measure.
– I should think that the word “service” would mean labour.
– It means transportation.
– Is it limited to transportation?
– I do not say that it is limited, but that is its meaning in the American cases.
– All through the American cases the honorable senator will find that it means that.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Probably it would include transportation, but it would also include everything in the nature of service. At any rate, we shall have an opportunity of considering the point when we get into Committee. It is a singular thing that in the United States there seem to have been very few proceedings under the Acts to which attention has been called. If this is an abstract of all the cases which have taken place, as I presume it is, certainly, so far as the United States is concerned, we find that only one case occurred in 1891, 1895, 1897, 1898, 1900, 1903, and 1904.
– Are not these quoted as specimen cases?
– Of course, that may have been intended, but it does not appear to be so, because at the bottom of the page there is given a reference to five other cases. If it is meant to be a compilation of all the American cases on the subject, with the enumeration at. the foot, then the number is very limited.
– I think that the law books in the Library show that there have been a great number of cases.
– I hope that that is so. There is not the same opportunity for litigation in America as there would be under this measure, because’ it would be open to any one who wished to disturb trade to initiate a proceeding of this kind. Therefore, the probability is that there will be a greater crop of that kind than there is in America. To come briefly to the second part of the Bill, I point out that here, for the first time in our legislation, the term “dumping” is used. I can understand legislation to prevent the raising of prices, but I cannot understand legislation to prevent the lowering of prices. The person who benefits in the latter case is the consumer. The objection which this Bill is supposed to meet in Part III. is in regard to the importation of goods to bring down prices.
– Is it not a fact that prices have been brought down in order to raise them afterwards? Does not every one remember that in the old days coaches used to be run for nothing in order to secure a monopoly, and then raise prices ?
– But we are talking about general importations. It is improper, in my opinion, to seek to stop importations simply because they may have the effect of making the manufacturers reduce their prices.
– Because they may have the effect of ruining manufacturers.
– Then attain the object through the Tariff if you object to importation. Why should we have a Bill of this kind brought in to prohibit importations, when .the right way of doing that is by altering the Tariff? Let us confine ourselves to one method of doing it. We have no right, to prevent the importation of goods which cheapen prices to the consumer. What is the use of laying before the Senate a quantity of information with regard to what has been done in other countries if it is not to guide us?
– Other Acts may guide us without our copying them.
– They do not guide us at all, because we are proceeding upon a totally different principle.
– The facts show that other legislation has been too weak. We are guided to that extent.
– The information which has been circulated has been put before us to justify this Bill. My objection is that it does not justify the Bill at all. It merely throws Bust in the eyes of the Senate. Let us discard these other examples altogether if we are not to be guided by them. The New Zealand Act is founded upon the principle of regulating importations and encouraging free competition. So is the Canadian Act. There is also a provision in the New Zealand Act which, I think, we might well have followed. It exempts British manufacturers from the operation of the law. Surely, if we are going in for imperialism and preferential trade, it should not be mere lip service. Why should we not introduce a provision of that kind into this Bill ?
– One thing at a time.
– My honorable friend is an. advocate of preferential trade, and he should agree with me that in legislating in this direction we have an opportunity to show our affection for the mother country, and our desire for reciprocal trade. I am an advocate of reciprocal trade, too, and shall make an effort in this direction in Committee. I wish to call the attention of honorable senators to the extraordinary way in which these anti-dumping provisions are to be enforced. In the first place there is to be a complaint in writing to the ComptrollerGeneral. When he receives that complaint he is not to act unless he has reason to believe the following things: - In the first place, he must be satisfied that there is a person importing with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry. In the second place, he has to be satisfied that it is an Australian industry that is being injured. It is not every Australian industry that is protected. He has to satisfy himself that the Australian industry affected is one which is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers. It has to be an industry in which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, the majority of the workers receive adequate remuneration for their labour, and are not subjected to unfair terms and conditions. He has judicially to inquire into all this. That is the preliminary investigation that has to take place. Before the matter passes through this labyrinth, the importer will probably be ruined. In addition to all that, the Comptroller-General has to be satisfied that the Australian industry is being, injured by unfair competition. If honorable senators look to what is unfair competition they find that* that also is covered by a very elaborate set of provisions. The conditions set out in sub-clause 2 of clause 18 have to be fulfilled. The competition is deemed to be unfair if it - would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry.
– The ComptrollerGeneral would not act unless he was satisfied.
– Does my honorable friend think that these provisions are simple ?
– No, they are not simple.
– Then my honorable friend agrees that they are exceedingly complex. The ComptrollerGeneral has to be satisfied that the competition - would probably or does in fact result increating any substantial disorganization in Australian industries or throwing workers out of employment.
He has also to be satisfied that the imported goods have been purchased abroad - at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced or market price where purchased.
He has to be satisfied, further, that the imported goods - are being sold in Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their foreign market value or their fair selling value if sold in the country of production.
He has to satisfy himself of one or all these things before he is entitled to certify under clause 19 - which, by the way, applies as well to single individuals as to combinations. Having ascertained all that, the Comptroller-General has to certify to the Minister a number of things. He has to certify -
It is hard, it seems to me, upon the individual trader who is kept in suspense all this time, his goods being heldup, and it is hard on the consumer who is kept out of his cheap bargain. In the next place, this process having been gone through, the importer is to have an opportunity of showing cause. The Minister may then refer the matter to. a Justice who has to decide.
– Where is the provision for holding up the goods all this time ?
– Under clause 20 the goods are not allowed to be imported unless the importer gives a bond. The importer is not allowed to deal with the goods from the date of the Gazette notice until the publication of the determination of the justice.
– Otherwise, what would be the good of the restriction ?
– No good at all. It is provided that the goods, which are the subject of the investigation, shall not be imported, but must be kept in bond. Within, what time could the ComptrollerGeneral investigate the question of the conditions of the industry? How long a time do honorable senators think the Comptroller-General ought to have to investigate whether the conditions of remuneration are just?
– The importer could alwaysget his goodsby giving a bond.
– What right is there to impose such a condition on a free subject of the Commonwealth? Suppose the importer is not able to give a bond? It is a small satisfaction to the importer that he may give a bond, when he is refused the power to import, and placed in the position of a culprit. Then, this provision would prevent the circulation of the goods amongst the Australian people.
– Let the importer give a bond.
– What right is there to demand a bond, or to prevent the free circulation of the goods? The importer is not doing any wrong, and the people of Australia are entitled to have the goods circulated.
– The inference of the honorable senator was that, possibly, an innocent person might have his goods “ held up “ ; and obviously an innocent person would be willing to give a bond.
– Obviously, he ought not to be called upon to give a bond. On what principle can we demand a bond from a person who is importing goods? I cannot regard a man as guilty under the circumstances. This portion of the Bill, I understand, deals with what is called “ dumping.”
– Do I understand that the honorable senator is in favour of dumping ? “Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- What I understand is that the Government are endeavouring to prevent the importation of cheap goods.
– Which would unfairly compete with our own manufactures.
– That is another matter altogether. This portion of the Bill, I understand, is designed to prevent the importation of cheap goods.
– The honorable senator may believe that to be so, but that certainly is not the object.
– The Government are seeking to stop the importation of cheap goods.
– Which unfairly compete with the goods of our own manufacturers.
– But goods which it is desired to import may be held up on complaint being made by anybody who chooses, to the ComptrollerGeneral., An importer, knowing that a rival was about to import a large stock of cheap goods, might in this way be able to put a “ spoke “ in his rival’s “ wheel.” The goods would then be held in bond, and, in the meantime, the trader who had made complaint would be getting rid of his goods, and the other man might be ruined. Anything more unjust or unfair never was proposed. The next step is that the Ministermayrefer the matter to a Justice; and the reference has to be notified in the Gazette. The question to be decided by the Justice is the extraordinary one whether the goods are being imported with the intent alleged, and, if so, whether the importation should be prohibited - it is a matter of opinion - either absolutely or subject to any specific conditions, restrictions, or limitations.
– That provision very badly requires explanation.
– A Justice will be capable of determining that question all right.
– I. deeply regret that the duty of interfering with, or regulating, matters of trade should have been imposed upon a Justice of the High Court. These are not the sort of questions that ought, in my humble opinion, to be referred to a Justice. Under the Bill the Justice is asked to determine whether the industry is one which comes within the category I have mentioned, and whether a majority of the workers receive adequate remuneration. Such questions are proper, it may. be for a conciliation and arbitration tribunal, or a Wages Board, but are notsuch as, in the first instance, ought to be submitted to a Justice of the High Court. In matters relating to trade the tribunal ought to be one associated with trade.
– The difficulty is to get an impartial tribunal.
– I think honorable, members, on looking at these clauses, will agree with me that, for many obvious reasons, the Justices of the High Court should not be brought into an atmosphere of this kind. This is not a proper subject for judicial investigation ; it is infinitely better that matters of trade should be dealt with as matters of trade. Such a question as whether or not goods should be imported would be far better settledby those conversant with the practical bearing of the principles of trade and commerce. It appears to me that the provisions relating to dumping are extremely complex, and have been very little considered.
– They have been very carefully considered.
– The provisions appear to me to have been put in such a form that, while they will not carry out the object which I attribute to the “Government in introducing the measure, they may have the effect of inflictingvery serious injury on innocent persons. Then, in my opinion, it is scarcely the way to refer to the highest tribunal in this country to provide that the Justice shall proceed1 to “ expeditiously “ and “carefully” investigate and determine the matter. I think that, at any rate, we might have left those terms out.
– The Judges might prefer that somebody elseshould take the work.
– That point is not dealt with in the language which I have quoted. I am merely pointing out that it is very unusual, when imposing a jurisdiction on any particular tribunal, whether it be the highest or the lowest, to say. that it shall “ expeditiously “ and “ carefully “ do its duty.
– That, I suppose, is to reassure the importers.
– I do not know what is the object, but, at any rate, it is not the sort of phraseology I like to see. I feel very strongly that the Bill, which purports to be conceived from the stand-point of freeing trade from restraints, and securing and enlarging free competition, will by no means have that effect, but will introduce restraints infinitely greater than those it professes to remove. I am of opinion that the Bill will do incalculable mischief, so far as regards the free flow of trade and commerce in this country. For those reasons I prefer to consider what further course I shall myself take. I should like the Government to withdraw or postpone the Bill for the purpose of reconsidering its provisions. It would be desirable,. I think, to have a postponement until we have had an opportunity to carefully consider the evidence taken and the reports by the Tariff Commission on the one subjectwhich notoriously has brought about the introduction of the Bill. It has not, in my opinion, been considered as fully in its details as it might have been, and, while, in words, it recognises free competition, .it, in effect, hampers and defeats free competition. The Bill professes to secure freedom from all restraint of trade, while it involves trade in fresh meshes. No destruction of industries has been established, and nothing in the nature of predatory assault has, been suggested, which it is necessary to repel under the provisions of such a Bill. I am as anxious to encourage industries as anybody could possibly be in a legitimate and fair way but when I find the natural industries of Australia enjoying a period of unexampled prosperity - when I find the manufacturing industries of Victoria enjoying similar prosperity - I say, with all emphasis, that we ought to leave well alone. We may meddle only to mar.
Debate ‘(on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In submitting the motion I may be permitted to say that the very slow progress we have been making of late with the business may necessitate my asking honorable senators, after next week, to meet on the Tuesday. Whether that request be made or not will depend to a considerable extent on the state of the business. If sufficient progress be made I shall not take the step I have indicated, but it mav be necessary to have the extra sitting day if we are to close the session within a reasonable time.
– Of course the Minister of Defence will give notice of such a motion?
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (10.30]. - In reference to the intimation given by the Minister of Defence, may I express the hope that in order to expedite public business, the Government will not unnecessarily occupy time bv seeking the recommittal of any of their measures.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060809_senate_2_32/>.