2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– When some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs a question relative to the importation of some cooks for the Perth Hospital, he told me that he would make inquiries into the matter. I learn from this morning’s newspaper that some of these persons have now arrived in Western Australia, and I desire to ask the honorable senator, without notice, whether he trill ascertain if they have been brought out under contract, and, if so, whether they are to be paid the Australian rate of wages, and also whether the Perth Hospital was unable to obtain cooks in the State.
– I reminded the Departmentof the matter yesterday, and I expect to receive a reply in the course of the day.
– Will the Minister communicate the reply to the Senate?
– I desire to again ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether he will endeavour to present before the close of the session the return ordered by the Senate as to the number of the holdings of different sizes in the Commonwealth? Onthe last occasion I asked the question he said that it would take time to compile the return, but in certain. States the information has been published, and I therefore ask the honorable senator to hurry up the officials, in order that the Senate may get the benefit of the return before it goes into recess.
– I shall do so.
– The procedure on the call of the Senate will be as follows : - The Clerk will call over the names of the senators in alphabetical order ; each senator present will answer “ Here,” and when the list has been gone through, the names of those who have not so answered will be again called over. No further action in the matter can be taken to-day, because standing order 275 provides that those who do not answer, and who attend in their places on the same dav, are ordinarily excused. Such senators will have the opportunity of giving a valid excuse if they are present here during the day, so that it seems to me that the proper method will be for the leader of the Senate, if any action is required to be taken, to take that action to-morrow.
All the senators answered “ Here,” except Senator de Largie, Senator Matheson. absent on leave, and Senator Sir J. H. Symon.
Motion (by Senator Keating); pro posed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– The motion affords an opportunity to honorable senators to reconsider their action up to this point. I think that as it is the first amendment which is proposed to be made in the Constitution, it is fitting that it should have the most earnest consideration of the members of the Senate, because I am not only confirmed in my opinion that there is no adequate reason for the proposed alteration, but I am inclined to think that in the way it is being done, we are setting a very bad precedent, not only in connexion with the suspension of the Standing Orders, and the hastening of the passage of the Bill, but also in the very form of the measure. The reason which has been given for the introduction of the Bill, and the forcing of it through the Senate, is that hitherto the elections have been held at a time of the year which has been inconvenient to persons engaged in certain occupations in one or, perhaps, two of the States. That is not, I think, an adequate reason for amending the Constitution, because, though some inconvenience may have been felt by those persons, we have no assurance that if the date be changed it will not be equally inconvenient to other sections of the population, and necessitate other amendments. If an example be set, any person who might feel inconvenienced by the date would consider that he had a right to come forward and ask for another amendment of the Constitution.
– Does the honorable senator object to amending the Constitution?
– I do not object to the provisions regarding the amendment of the Constitution. It is well that they exist, but I think that no amendment should be made until it has been so thoroughly considered that we are perfectly sure that it is one of which we should be proud in future years. That amount of consideration has not been given in this case. We have to look upon the Constitution as the fundamental instrument of government, and also the charter of the States, designed to insure the preservation of those rights which they would not have surrendered except in the belief that the Constitution would be regarded by the people of Australia as something more sacred that an ordinary Act of a State Parliament or the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Once more I would point out, as it seems to have been overlooked by some honorable senators, that under the Constitution as it stands an election of senators may take place at any time in the year from the 1st January to the 31st December, and that it does not require the election of senators in one State to take place at the same time as the election of senators in, another State. It is made clear in the Constitution that the election of senators is a function which belongs entirely to the States. The State Parliament may make laws _in regard to the election of senators ; the State Governor issues the writs; and everything in connexion with “ determining the times and places of election of senators “ is left entirely to the State. It is competent for a State, if it chooses to do so. to hold the election of senators at any time. It follows that the expense of holding the election of senators at a different time from the elections for the House of Representatives would not necessarily be anything like the estimated sum of .£30,000, because if the inconvenience of holding the two elections at the same time were felt by any State, it could hold its election of senators at some other time, and the expense would not be £30.000, but very much less than that sum. Suppose, for instance, that in Victoria it was found that December was an inconvenient time for the farmers to vote. There would then be nothing to prevent the State Executive holding the election for senators at any date they chose to fix. I understand that early in November would be the most suitable time for Victoria, and, if the elections for the House of Representatives were held in December - in consequence of the business of Parliament having been prolonged - the elections for the Senate could, under the present Constitution, still be held in the former month. Victoria is a small, compact territory, compared with the other States, and the expense of an election for the Senate would probably not amount to more than ,£2,000 or £3,000 ; and yet, in order to save a small expenditure of that kind, it is proposed to take the important step of amending the Constitution. It is- assumed that the elections will be held in the middle of December ; but there is no ground for that assumption. On the last occasion the elections may accidentally have fallen at that time of the year; but under the Constitution there is nothing to prevent the elections being held at any time, and there is no reason why, in the ordinary course of things, the elections for the House of Representatives should not be held in November. An amendment of the Constitution is not necessary.
– A majority of theSenate have said that it is necessary.
– I am endeavouring, to persuade honorable senators to reconsider that determination. The argument on the ground of economy is, to mv mind, very weak, and it is a strange one to be used by a Government who are now engaged in dissipating revenue in a very reckless manner. Yesterday we were dealing with a Bill which will mean the sacrifice of much; revenue, and the Estimates, so far as we’ have had them before us, contain many items which are certainly not necessary at the present time. The crowning iniquity is the proposal to give away £200,000 or £300,000 a year in connexion with the fad of penny postage. Yet this Government tells us that ft is necessary to amend the Constitution so that the Senate elections may be held at the same time as those for the House of Representative’s, in order to save a few thousand pounds. We are coolly assuming that the States will not, at any time in the future, exercise their undoubted rights of electing senators at any time they may desire. It is unfortunate that the first amendment proposed in the Constitution should go before the people as one involving an extension of the term of honorable senators who are not going for re-election, and the extension of the term of those who may be -elected. And all this rests on an inference as to what may happen.
– Is not May the best month for the elections in Queensland?
– I mentioned to a Queenslander the other day the objection raised to holding the elections in the middle of December on the ground that that is the sugar planting season, and also that some representatives of the State urged that a more convenient month would be Mardi,, and he replied that the latter was the planting season.
– That refers only te* a particular part of Queensland.
– In view of the enormous area and many varieties of climate, it is almost impossible to fix a datewhich would be satisfactory throughout Australia from a weather point of view.
– In Queensland themonth of May has been found the most convenient ?
– I think the electionthere has usually been held in March, April,, or May. But even if that be so, it is per- f ectly competent under the Constitution for the Queensland Government to hold the election for senators in March or any other month. If it happened, as it mighthappen occasionally, that a State election was going on in Queensland, advantage might be taken of the opportunity to electthe senators, and thus save expense.
– With the candidates in Melbourne?
– Not necessarily. I am merely pointing out that the present Constitution is so elastic that it allows the election for senators to be held at any time in the year. There is one very important objection to the form of the proposed amendment of the Constitution, the Bill proposing to strike out certain words of the Constitution and substitute others. If we turn to the Constitution of the United States - to which I think we ought to direct more attention than we do - we find that of the fifteen amendments which have been made not one has touched the text.
– In America the people do not elect the senators.
– What has that to do with my point? Every amendment in the United States Constitution was a separate proposition standing absolutely by itself. The first amendment, an additional article, for instance, is as follows: -
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There was no alteration of the text of the original Constitution, but a fresh article to be submitted to the people for ratification or otherwise. Then there is the additional Article 3 in the United States Constitution -
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
A very important article, which was inserted after the Civil War, is Article 13, as follows: -
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
I shall not read any more, but, as I said before, each of the fifteen amendments is a separate article standing by itself, which does not alter the text of the Constitution.
– It is proposed to alter the Commonwealth Constitution, because it is necessary to do so.
– There is nothing in the Constitution which requires an amendment to be made in the way proposed. I am not contending that we cannot legally amend the Constitution. Section 120 of the Constitution provides that the proposed law for the alteration must be passed by an absolute majority of each House, and so forth ; but there is nothing as to the form a proposed amendment of the Constitution shall take. In the case of the United States Constitution, every amendment was a separate proposition, so that the people knew what they were voting for.
– And so will people of the Commonwealth.
– There is no instance of the American people tinkering with the Constitution by striking out certain words and substituting others. On that fact two important arguments may be based. First, that is a most inconvenient way to submit a proposition to the people. What question will be put to the people? Simplv - “Are you, or are you not, in favour of this Bill, which has passed both Houses?” When the electors turn to the Bill-
– They will have no Bill to turn to.
– If the electors do turn to the Bill, they will simply find it provided, in clause 2 -
– Is the question not to be accompanied by an explanation ?
– Who will explain the Bill?
– Who explained the Constitution to the people?
– But the question, then, was not one of striking out words and substituting others.
– The complete document was before the people.
– That is so; and candidates and others had nothing to do but explain the Constitution. I continue the quotation -
Then in clause 3 1 find the following: -
The terms of service of the senators whose places would, but for this Act, become vacant at the expiration of the year One thousand nine hundred and nine are extended until the thirtieth day of June One thousand nine hundred and ten.
Then, in sub-clause 2 of the same clause, what we propose to do is described more in the form of amendments to the American Constitution. By adopting the form of proposing the striking out of certain words and the insertion of other words, no human being, unless he has the Constitution before him, and can figure it out, will know what is meant. Who will explain this measure to the people? Some who are opposed to the proposed amendment of the Constitution might tell the electors that whatis meant is that those going up for election will get six months added to their term of service. Others may tell them that what it means is that the Senate elections will take place in November instead of December.
– No, they will take place in April.
– The honorable senator might tell the electors that they will take place in April, and I might tell them that they will take place in some other month.
– Oh !
– The statement could be truthfully made since a Senate election might take place at any time between the 1st of January and the 31st December. A candidate for election might tell the electors that the object of the proposed amendment of the Constitution is to enable the elections to be held at a time most convenient for him.
– Would the honorable senator be doing a fair thing if he went before the electors and told them that the object of the Bill was something other than he knows it to be?
– The probability is that if I had the time I should tell the electors all that has taken place in connexion with the Bill ; but what time will any candidate for election have to do that ? If a candidate is to vindicate all the Acts of the Federal Parliament for the last three years, to advocate the claims of himself and his friends - and, perhaps, to say something derogatory of those on the opposite side - what time will he have to explain four or five amendments of the Constitution ?
– The honorable senator is not giving a very high estimate of the fairness of his own party.
– I include Senator O’Keefe’s party as well. When we are dealing with such a thing as an amendment of the Constitution we should rise above party.
– Is it not a fact that writs for the election of senators might be issued at any time by the States Governors?
– I have said that fourteen times. I have said that it is the function of the States Parliaments to fix the time for the election of senators to represent their States and the States Governors can issue the writs at any time fixed.
– I ask the honorable and learned senator not to say it for the fifteenth time.
– The point I am trying to make is that we should follow the example of the United States in this matter, and when we propose to amend our Constitution in any particular we should put a clear proposition before the people. We should be able to go before them and say, “It is proposed to amend the Constitution so as to effect this, that, or the other.” In a proposition of half a dozen lines we could state much more clearly than it is stated in this Bill exactly what is intended by the proposed alteration of the Constitution. This is the first amendment of the Constitution which has been proposed, and presumably the attempt will be made to make the form now adopted a precedent for the future. If we are to submit amendments of the Constitution in this way by proposing the striking out of some words and the insertion of others, and are to be perpetually tinkering in this fashion with the Constitution, we shall get it into the condition in which the land laws are in many of the States, where they have been amended so often that people do not know what they really provide for. We have had evidence in this Parliament, as well as in the Parliaments of the States, of Acts having been tinkered, touched up, and altered in such a way that it has been necessary to bring in newBills simply because, by reason of the many amendments which have been made in the law it has become unintelligible. In some instances a law has been so altered that even lawyers find it difficult to say what is the meaning expressed by the Legislature in the last amendment carried. Why should we follow such a practice in dealing, with amendments of the Constitution when we might introduce a Bill setting forth in five or six lines, as a separate provision of the Constitution, the alteration which it is proposed to effect. I think this is a real objection to the Bill, and by the fault which apparently the Senate is now going to commit, we shall be setting a precedent for all time which will be of a most undesirable nature. Even at this late stage, the third reading of the Bill, I hope that honorable senators will give careful consideration to this question before the Bill is finally passed.
– I should like to add to the remarks addressed to the Senate by Senator Drake some observations in support of the view which he has submitted. I ask honorable senators not to consider the view now brought under their notice as affecting in anv way the question whether the amendment proposed in the Constitution by this Bill is desirable or not. That is not the main point which Senator Drake is now pressing upon our attention. Whether it be desirable or not, a majority of the Senate apparently approve of the proposal, and the question now is whether the form in which the proposed amendment of the Constitution is to be submitted to the electors is the clearest and best that we could adopt. Senator Drake has referred to the difficulty which must necessarily arise in the mind of the average elector in determining what amendment of the Constitution this measure seeks to accomplish, owing to the form which has been adopted. The Bill proposes the striking out of certain words from a document which will not be before the electors, and the insertion of certain other words. To understand the confusion which will arise from the adoption of this form, honorable senators have only to cast their minds back to the time when we were dealing with a Bill proposing the amendment of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, in which the same course, of striking out certain words from certain sec tions, and inserting others, was adopted. They will remember how absolutely confusing and difficult it was to say exactly what the effect of the proposed amendment of the law would be. We had to have the two measures before us, and even then it was not possible to readily read into the Act the words which the amending Bill proposed should be inserted. How much greater, then, will the difficulty of the average elector be in this instance when in a majority of cases he will not have the Constitution before him to enable him to discover what is provided in this measure ? I take Senator Drake’s point to be that, assuming that an amendment of the Constitution is to be submitted to the electors, instead of proposing it in the form adopted in this Bill, it should be submitted in a distinct provision. Instead of proposing to leave out certain words, and put in others, we should have one clause which, within its compass, would inform the electors plainly and simply what we propose should be done. The electors should have the proposed amendment of the Constitution clearly before them in order that they may be able to state on their referendum paper whether they approve or disapprove of it. I am certain that no honorable senator will contend that any considerable number of the electors will have the slightest chance of giving an intelligent vote on the proposition to be submitted to them in this measure. They will have to state their view of what is intended by the document placed before them from the varying interpretations placed upon it by the different candidates who address them. In expressing an opinion upon a proposed amendment of the Constitution, it is not desirable that the electors should have to rely for advice in casting their votes on the varying interpretations of different individuals. The amendment should be placed before them in such a way that he who runs may read, and every elector should be able to see plainly what is proposed. The form here adopted is, I think, the most cumbersome, confusing, and least satisfactory that it is possible to devise. I think that the Government, through their draftsman, have looked at the matter from a legal stand-point entirely. They desired to amend a certain section of the Constitution, and a certain way suggested itself to the legal mind. The way suggested might appear simple enough to the legal mind, but in preparing a proposed amendment of the Constitution it should be framed in such a way as to be clear, not only to the mind of a lawyer and draftsman, but to every man and woman in the country. Whether the Senate decides to take action to alter this proposal or not, I do hope that in future any amendment proposed in the Constitution will be framed in the way I have indicated. In the case of the amendment of the Electoral Act honorable senators will agree that it would have been better to have introduced a measure repealing the original Act. and taking its place, the new provisions being fully set out. Possibly at this stage the Senate will not be inclined to retrace its steps, but it is to be hoped that in dealing with future amendments proposed in the Constitution the desirable course suggested by Senator Drake will be followed.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I desire to state, by way of personal explanation, the reason formy absence when a call of the Senate was made this morning. I, unfortunately, missed the train which I usually take, and which enables me to reach the Senate in time for its meeting.
– I think it would be better to wait until explanations with regard to absence are completed before we deal with Senator de Largie’s explanation. On the present occasion there are only two senators who may desire to explain their absence ; but on other occasions there might be more; and it might take a considerable amount of time if separate motions had to be proposed to deal with each of them.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
. I move -
That the Bill be recommitted.
I thinkthat the course which I propose is much simpler than that which I could otherwise take of moving that the Bill be recommitted for the consideration of particular clauses. My amendment involves the recommittal of the Bill as a whole. I trust that that course will commend itself to the Senate.
– The motion that the Bill be recommitted will supersede the motion that the Bill be read a third time. Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
– The Government must oppose the motion. The Senate has fully considered the Bill in Committee. There is no necessity for a recommittal. Senator demons has not indicated what amendments he wishes to move. I do not know what object he can have in view. I trust that the motion will be negatived, and that the Bill will be read a third time.
– Of course we all know the object of this move. It is to defeat the Bill.
– It absolutely is not; and if my motion is rejected I shall move for a recommittal of the Bill in part.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can do that.
– We know that the train of one honorable senator has been detained, and that honorable senators opposite will not grant a pair with him on the question. This is an attempt to secure a recommittal by a catch vote. Reasons should be advanced why the Bill should be recommitted. Every clause in it has been fully considered in Committee, when various amendments were brought forward with the object of making the measure useless. Points of order were also raised and discussed at great length. No one can say that the fullest consideration was not given to the Bill. What object would be gained bv recommitting it? It was stated by honorable senators opposite tha£ one of their chief objections to the Bill before it was amended was that the Commonwealth could not even drive a survey peg into the ground in South Australia without the consent of the Parliament of that State. Accordingly, an amendment was agreed to for the purpose of securing the consent of the South Australian Parliament. Therefore (he main objection of honorable senators opposite has been removed. Surely they might have been content to take a division on the third reading now. If the Bill is taken into Committee again we shall have to traverse once more the whole ground that was covered last week.
– Let’ us have a vote.
– If the ordinary parliamentary courtesy were observed, I should not object to the vote .being taken. As a matter of ordinary parliamentary courtesy, if a senator is detained by an accident a senator holding an opposite opinion pairs with him. That courtesy has on the present occasion been denied to the leader of the party opposite. Has Senator Clemons indicated a wish to impose limitations upon the Bill if it is taken back into Committee ? Why does he not tell the Senate what he proposes to do ? It is only too obvious that he believes it is possible that some honorable senators will not vote with him to recommit the Bill, and although he may fail at the first attempt, he hopes that, as the result of circumstances, over which we have no control, he may succeed at the second attempt. The Bill, in its present form, is anything but satisfactory to the representatives of Western Australia, because, in accepting the compromise, we gave way as far as we could reasonably be expected to do. We have practically provided that either House of the Parliament of South Aus-, tralia may prevent the carrying out of the survey. We maintained that if the Government of South Australia had previously given their consent - and a Government of that State did consent - our survey party would be perfectly safe. But in the Bill we have gone far beyond that point and placed either House of the State Parliament in a position to prevent a survey from being made by the Commonwealth. When we accepted “that compromise, we went infinitely further than we perhaps were justified in going; but we were animated by a desire to allow the Government ‘ to get on with the business of the session, and the thanks we get for taking that step is that we are met to-day with a display of unparliamentary boorishness. This is, I believe, the only Bill which has met such an unkind fate during the session. It is the only measure in respect of which some honorable senators have seemed, for a time, to lose sight of those little parliamentary courtesies which are generally observed. That places us in the unfortunate and unenviable position of having to adopt tactics.
– Why does not Western Australia volunteer to pay the expense of the survey ? If she took that step and the survey showed that she had a good case, I would vote for the construction of the railway.
– And I would do the same.
– It shows that Western Australia does not believe in her own case.
– I believe that if Western Australia were to send out a party and to pay the cost of the survey, we should have the honorable senator and others saying, “ Oh ! this is a party proposal. This survey is not reliable, and therefore we shall not accept it.” What kind of consideration was given to the report of Mr. Muir? And what kind of consideration did Senator Zeal give to the report, not of a Western Australian party, but of a Commission which included the EngineerinChief for each State, and which reported that in their opinion the railway would cost under £5,000,000?
– They had no information to guide them.
– That is the kind of judgment which is passed on their report.
– He does know something about the matter.
– Does Senator Zeal know more than the Engineers-in-Chief for the six States? Yet he has the audacity to state that notwithstanding their report, the railway would cost ,£8,000,000.
– So it would, and more money, too.
– What is the use of Western Australia adopting the suggestion of the honorable senator?
– The honorable senator is not arguing the question as to whether there ought to be a recommittal, but the whole merits of the Bill.
– I am pointing out the limitations in the Bill in order to show that nothing could be gained by a recommittal. The Bill, as it is, is the lowest minimum which any representative of Western Australia could agree to accept.
– We do not want its representatives to accept it.
– A recommittal is generally .moved for the purpose of amending, not destroying a Bill. I am trying to show that no amendment is possible, because to take away the little shadow of substance that is left would be to take away all that is worth having in the Bill. If Senator Clemons were moving for a recommittal -for the purpose of striking out that portion-
– Did he say for what purpose he wants a recommittal ?
– The honorable senator did not give a reason for submitting the motion. If I had a guarantee that those who desire to have an honest straightout, vote on the Bill would oppose the proposal for a recommittal-
– That is all that we do want; but that is what I am afraid we shall not get.
– It may simplify matters if the honorable senator will say whether he intends to vote for a recommittal.
– I do.
-The honorable senator says that he wants a straight-out vote, and vet he is prepared to recommit the Bill.
– This is not a straight-out speech.
– The honorable senator is a good judge of that kind of thing, and I expect nothing else from him.
– The honorable senator need not be nasty because I would not give him a pair. He knows that that is what is causing him to speak in this way.
– If the honorable senator likes to brand himself as one of those who will not play fairly he is perfectly at liberty to do so.
– The honorable senator is disgracing himself by making such a remark.
– Order ! These personal references are very much out of order.
– I am not concerned about the honorable senator’s imputation of disgraceful conduct, nor am I afraid of any accusation coming from that quarter. I ask Senator Clemons to say whether he desires a recommittal for the genuine purpose of proposing amendments or for the purpose of destroying the Bill?
– I answer “ yes “ with regard to the first question. I desire a recommittal in order to submit amendments.
– I contend that before the honorable senator asked the Senate to vote for a recommittal he ought to have indicated the amendments he proposed to move.
– Of course, I shall do that as soon as we get into Committee.
– Senator Clemons has the right of reply, and he can make a statement when that right is being exercised.
– Yes, sir, but I think that it is usual for an honorable senator to state his reason for asking for a recommittal so as to enable honorable senators to make up their minds and to discuss the proposal. Senator Clemons did not do that, therefore we are justified in saying that he has no reasons to offer.
– No. I have good reasons to offer.
– The honorable senator should have stated the reasons, because at present we have to discuss the question without knowing what they are, or what amendments he proposes to submit. We are placed at a disadvantage in that respect. I cannot see any way in which the Bill should be amended, unless the Senate wish to strike out the limitation with regard to the consent of the Parliament ofl South Australia to the survey being secured.
– One amendment I shall move will be to make Western Australia and South Australia pay the cost of the survey.
– Those States will pay their share of the cost.
– No quibbling ! I propose to make the two States pay the whole cost of the survey.
– That will be a case of “ thank you for nothing.” If that principle were introduced it would have to be applied all round. For instance, we would have to make Tasmania pay the cost of every Commonwealth public work undertaken therein.
– The States have all built their own railways at their own cost.
– The proposed railway, if constructed, would not be the property of Western Australia and South Australia, but the property of the Commonwealth. Therefore it is In a ‘different position from other railways.
– The Commonwealth does not want the railway.
– If an “honorable senator wishes to take up that position, his proper course will be to vote for the rejection of the Bill.
– We, as a branch of the Federal Parliament, have no right to’ dictate to any State as to how it shall spend its revenue. That is a matter for each State to decide.
– Let them volunteer to do so.
– Why should they? When people are volunteering they do not like to be taken by a press gang.
– Is it right to speak of a State as a press gang ?
– It would be similar to the action of a press gang.
– The honorable senator has fought well for the Bill, and he should try to keep out personalities.
– Is it reasonable for the Commonwealth to say to the two States, “ We are willing to undertake the survey, but we shall debit the cost to you.” I do not know that Western Australia would derive the greatest benefit from the construction of the line. We should certainly look upon the construction of the line as a benefit to the State, but it would also be a benefit to Australia generally.
– According to the honorable senator’s own estimate, he would get .£’2,000,000 spent in Western Australia.
– I do not know about that, though the honorable senator may think so.
– I know that it would be so. I am speaking of what I know.
– Senator Zeal has been not only an engineer, but also a contractor.
– Senator Zeal might give a little attention to the amount of Commonwealth money which is spent in Queensland. If he does he will find that that State gets an .infinitely larger share than does Western Australia. If an accusation of that kind is to be hurled about the Chamber, let us commence with the greatest sinner of all the States. The Senate would cut a very queer figure if its members started to taunt each other with the amount of money spent in the various States. The Senate, as a whole, is responsible for the money which has been voted, and not the representatives of Western Australia solely. If honorable senators have voted money for expenditure in Western Australia! which was unjustifiable, they have to take the responsibility along with its representatives. Senator Zeal did not vote against the proposals, therefore he is just as responsible as any other senator for the expenditure in that State.
– I have no feeling against Western Australia. I would vote for the Bill if I could, because I believe that the honorable senator is fighting fairly for his State, but he ought to keep personalities out of the discussion.
– By his interjection the honorable senator seemed to indicate that, in his opinion, the ‘ expenditure of Commonwealth money in Western Australia has been a little larger than it ought to have been.
– I would not say that because I do not know. All I ask Western Australia to do is to show her bona fides.
– If the honorable senator could give an undertaking that the object of the recommittal is to strike out the unnecessary and burdensome provision requiring the consent of the Parliament of South Australia to the survey, we should be prepared to support the motion on that ground. But his interjections do nor give us any hope in that direction. Although, as I understand, there was a majority who were opposed to the insertion of the provision, still they gave away in order to allow the Government to make progress with the ‘Bill. Is there any necessity to put in a provision as to the period within which the survey shall be undertaken? I take it that we shall have, to trust the Government to use their own judgment as to the best time to proceed after the consent of South Australia has been obtained. It is not necessary to recommit the Bill for the purpose of extending that provision to Western Australia, because her consent has already been given in a formal manner not only to the survey, but also to the construction of the railway. Further, there is the undertaking in regard to the portion of the line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. No recommital, therefore, is required in reference to the consent of Western Australia. How would the States of South Australia and Western Australia regard the Bill if it were recommitted for an amendment in the direction indicated ? Those States at present have every power to conduct any survey that may be desired ; and if a joint survey were proposed, it could be carried out by arrangement between -them.
– How do we know that honorable senators may not propose to alter the Bill in many other directions than that indicated?
– We are asked, as it were, to give a blank cheque, and it is suspicious that a recommittal of the whole Bill is proposed. If the desire be to recommit the Bill for a special purpose, whyis it that the particular clause has not been mentioned.
– There are only three clauses in the Bill.
– And three times the opportunities are presented for debate than would be the case if only one clause were recommitted. The motion creates a suspicion that there is in view not the amendment, but the destruction of the Bill. I ask aid those who desire to have a straight-out vote on the principle of the Bill, to strenuously oppose ,this motion, which cannot have been proposed for any genuine purpose of amendment. As a representative of Western Australia, I say that if the Bill is any further watered down - altered in any way to make it less valuable - 1 would rather see it lost altogether.
– After the very full discussion there has been, I cannot understand this request for a recommittal..
– Was there full discussion in Committee? Was there, for instance, any opportunity to discuss clause 3 ?
– There was very full discussion in Committee, -and I do riot know what obstruction there was to the discussion of clause 3. Apparently honorable senators did not care to discuss the clause. I am opposed to the Bill, and will endeavour to defeat it on the third reading ; but. at the same time, I feel that the discussion has been not only full, but unduly extended. So far, Senator Clemons has presented only one reason for the recommittal, namely, that he desires to provide that South Australia and’ Western Australia shall bear the cost of the survey. But that idea has been presented to honorable senators not once, but probably a hundred times.
– Was any opportunity .given in. Committee to vote for such an amendment ?
– It seems to me that if there had been a genuine desire to test the opinion of the Committee on that point, an opportunity would have been presented. And, further, if there had been a .general desire to carry such a provision, the Bill could never have been carried so far, because it provides that the cost shall not be borne by Western Australia and South Australia, but by the whole of the Commonwealth, and a recommittal could not lead to any amendment of the kind suggested. I do not know that Senator Clemons has any other reason for desiring a recommittal.
– I certainly have.
– When we are asked to recommit a Bill reasons for the recommittal should be presented ; we should not merely be told that an honorable senator desires that a. measure shall be recom.recommital, Senator Clemons says that he has other reasons, but we ought not to be expected to recommit a Bill simply because an honorable senator has unexpressed reasons in his mind. Senator Clemons’ reasons, if presented, might induce us to pass the motion ; but a recommittal for the reason he has advanced would be useless, because the whole principle of the Bill is that the Commonwealth should bear the expense of the survey.
– No; the principle of the Bill is that a survey shall be made.
– The principle is that a survey shall be made by the Commonwealth : and it is a principle that was not adopted without ample warning. Sena- tor Styles, myself, and others presented with as much force as we could- we were even charged with exhibiting bitterness - the view that, if this survey is so desirable in the interests of South Australia and Western Australia, and, seeing that the latter State, with its prepondering adult population, is so wealthy, the cost ought to be borne by the two States. But to recommit on a question which has been so thoroughly threshed out, would be to reduce our legislation to a farce.
– We did not discuss clause 3 in Committee.
– Not on any specific amendment.
– Practically, we never reached clause 3, which was passed without (any honorable senator saying a word.
– That is to say, no honorable senator desired to make an amendment. If I had desired an amendment in clause 3 I should have taken advantage of the opportunity then presented.
– - Why did the Government accept our previous amendment ?
– Because, I suppose, they thought it a desirable one.
– The honorable senator knows the reason.
– 4 do not. If that amendment had not been accepted I should have voted for it on a division.
– But the honorable senator ought to know why. there was no further debate in Committee.
– I really do not.
– Them JI think ihe honorable senator is the only one who does not know.
– I can only gather that there was no desire to say anything about the clause. Whatever was the reason it has not now been presented as one why we should recommit. Unless there is great necessity it is undesirable and inconvenient to recommit Bills. Our forms provide the most ample opportunity for discussion, and it cannot be said that advantage was not taken of the opportunity on the second reading. Then the Committee stage occupied more than one day, if not several, and in the case of a Bill of three clauses that shows that ample ‘use was made of the convenience presented by the Committee stage.
– Bills are often recommitted.
– Only for urgent reasons. I am anxious that we should reach . the third reading stage, because I have some reasons to urge which I think may induce honorable senators to refuse to take the Bill further. But I object to the waste of time involved in a recommittal.
. -I was a party to an arrangement that if the amendment from this side was accepted, and discussion ceased on the second reading, there would be the fullest right to-day to move a recommittal and submit any further amendments desired.
– There was never a word as to that.
– As one of the parties who made the arrangement, I say that what Senator Dobson states is perfectly correct.
– That was the arrangement I consented to, and it was the arrangement mentioned to me by Senator Clemons.
– That was the arrangement made between Senator Playford and myself.
– The arrangement was that there should be the fullest discussion oh the third reading.
– And the ordinary motion for a recommittal.
– I could not prevent the honorable senator moving for a recommittal.
– I should like Senator Trenwith to understand that I had no opportunity in Committee on the Bill to submit a number of amendments ‘ I had drawn up hours before the sitting terminated.
– The honorable senator should submit his reasons.
– I am going to do so, but I wish the honorable senator to understand that we practically had no opportunity to submit any amendments in Committee on the Bill. Over and over again we have said that we should have the consent of South Australia to the survey, and to the construction of the railway. I say now that the survey is one thing, and the cast is another. If Senator ‘Clemons fails to ask the Committee - should the motion for the recommittal of the Bill be carried - to provide that the whole cost of the survey shall be paid by the two States concerned there is surely no reason why we should not provide that one-third shall be paid by the Commonwealth, and one-third each by South Australia and Western Australia. I say, without fear of contradiction, that that is a more equitable proposal than the one contained in the Bill. Can any one deny that this is a State railway, and not a Commonwealth railway?
– Nobody wants it but Western Australia.
– I am quite satisfied about that. I have often said that I am sure that the survey and necessary search for a water supply will cost more than the £20,000 proposed to be appropriated for the purpose by the Bill. I, therefore, desire to submit an amendment to this effect, which I had previously drawn up -
If any sum in excess of the £20,000 hereby appropriated is required to complete the survey of a route for the proposed railway, such extra sum shall be contributed by the States of South Australia and Western Australia in equal shares.
– What would be the use of that? The Bill provides that not more than £20,000 shall be spent on the survey.
– In Tasmania Railway Construction Bills have provided for the appropriation of specified sums, but they have in every case been exceeded, and in one case double the amount appropriated was expended.
– Parliament must consider any vote for extra expenditure. The honorable and learned senator cannot bind Parliament by the amendment he suggests.
– Does not the Minister see that if I can get the two States concerned in this matter to pay between them only £1,000 of the cost, I shall have succeeded in introducing the principle for which I am contending, that it is not fair or just to say that this is a Commonwealth matter, when we know that it is first of all a State matter. It is of the utmost importance to me to have an opportunity in Committee to move certain amendments on these lines, and to back them up as I think I can by solid arguments. I drew up another amendment, which I desired to move, to the following effect : -
If the construction of the railway is not commenced within two years from the date of plans and maps of such survey reaching the hands of the Minister, then such sum of £20,000, or so much thereof as shall have been spent by the Minister upon the survey shall be repaid to the Minister by the States of South Australia and Western Australia in equal shares.
If we find that the railway is not to be carried out, I think we have a right to say that the £20,000 voted for the survey should be refunded.
– The honorable senator cannot bind future Parliaments in that way. He is only beating the air.
– Does the Minister of Defence favour repudiation by Parliament?
– I quite admit that a future Parliament could pass an Act returning the £10,000 to each of the States. Parliament often does very foolish things, especially in the way of giving up money to which it has a claim. If, in two years from the completion of the survey, the railway is not commenced, I think the money expended on the survey should be repaid to the Commonwealth. I had some conversation with Senator Smith as to the guarantee against loss to the Commonwealth that is to be provided by the States concerned, and I desired also to submit an amendment dealing with that point. I believe that Western Australia is willing to guarantee the Commonwealth against loss for ten years. That State is willing also to vest in the Commonwealth, or to set apart as a guarantee against loss, a strip of land 25 miles wide on each side of the proposed line, but in what particular manner is not yet known. What guarantee is South Australia going to give? Are we to be so unwise as to accept a guarantee of a strip of land 25 miles wide on each side of 480 miles of the proposed railway from one State, and say nothing about a similar strip of land on each side of 625 miles of the railway in another State. Do not honorable senators see that in order to rush this proposal through Parliament, and to shoulder the Commonwealth with it. thev are departing from every common business principle bv which they would be actuated in private life. I protest against the whole business, and I wish to be able to submit an amendment to this effect -
Before the survey is commenced, the Minister shall satisfy himself as to what guarantee the States of South Australia and Western Australia will give the Commonwealth against any loss which the Commonwealth might sustain by the construction of the proposed railway if, after the survey has been received by the Minister, the proposed railway is constructed by the Commonwealth.
That brings us back to the same idea that thi railway ought not to be constructed by the Commonwealth. If various Prime Ministers and Governments, for reasons into which I do not desire to enter; wish to shepherd and father this undertaking, in the last resort we should at least see that justice shall be done, and that the two States concerned shall pay according to the advantage they derive from the construction of the line. Is that un-Federal? I say that it is not, but it is un-Federal, unfair, and unjust that any attempt should be made to make this solely a Commonwealth matter. That is the ‘position I take up, and I am prepared to fight it out here or in Western Australia. In fact, the only Western Australian to whom I spoke on the subject, and he, though a young man, was exceedingly cute and intelligent, said he thought that the view of the matter which I put before him was a correct statement of what was going to be done. When I said that what was proposed was that the Commonwealth should do the whole thing, he said, “ I did not understand that.” No one else without the political prejudices which seem to influence members of the Federal Parliament would take any other view. For the reasons I have given, I support Senator Clemons’ amendment for the recommittal of the Bill. Considering the promises which were made, I think it is the duty of the Government to permit the Bill to be recommitted. Amongst the amendments which I desire to submit, I think I should have the right to expect the support even of honorable senators from Western Australia and South Australia for the proposal that the cost of the survey should be borne in equal shares by the Commonwealth and the two States concerned.
– I trust that the Senate will not agree to the recommittal of the Bill. It has been very clearly explained by Senator Trenwith that in dealing with proposals for the recommittal of measures, unless the strongest possible reasons are shown for the adoption of such a course, we should not give the slightest consideration to proposals of the kind. Holding that view, we must regard the amendment submitted by Senator Clemons for the recommittal of this Bill as one of the most ridiculous amendments that could possibly be submitted to the Senate. For some reason which the honorable senator has carefully concealed within his own breast, he has moved that the Bill be recommitted. If there are any substantial reasons for such a proposal, it is probable that they have not yet dawned upon the honorable senator. One reason hinted at for the recommittal of the Bill is that honorable senators should have an opportunity to compel Western Australia and South Australia to pay the whole cost of the survey. It might be news to Senator Clemons to learn that if those States were prepared to carry out this national work and pay for it themselves, they would not require an Act of the Federal Parliament to authorize them to do so. They could do that without coming here to ask for the passing of any Bill.
– We are all parties to the Federation when sugar bounties are wanted.
– I was going to call attention to the fact that the logic which Senator ‘Clemons applies to this Bill might be applied to many measures submitted to Parliament. We might charge up all the sugar bounties to Queensland, and it would be quite as logical a position to take up. Why should that State bleed the Commonwealth of so many hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, and then come here cap in hand to ask for alterations in the industrial aspect of the sugar industry? I know that the argument in that case is that it is part of the policy of a White Australia, but I can tell honorable senators that there is a very poor reflection of a White Australia in Queensland yet, although that State is receiving a great deal of Federal assistance.
– Would the honorable senator accept a bounty for gold production in Western Australia on the same terms ?
– We do’ not want a bounty on gold production. We are exporting gold from Western Australia.
– Australia does not import gold whilst we do import sugar.
– We are, of course, prepared at all times to witness strange episodes in the political career of Senator Dobson, but it is not often that the honorable senator takes up such a strange attitude as he did to-day in supporting the request for a recommittal of the Bill. He made a long speech in opposition to the Bill. It was for three or four days discussed by the Senate in all its varied phases. In Committee opportunities were given for honorable senators to make amendments. But Senator Dobson never discovered until Senator Clemons moved for a recommittal that he had actually conceived of some amendments that he would like to move. While there are no reasons why the Bill should be recommitted, there are excellent reasons why it should not be so treated. When honorable senators contemplate the unholy alliance that has been formed to defeat this Bill - when they see the Millens, the Clemonses, and the Goulds united in one clan with the Turleys, the Givenses, and the Stewarts - they may well be suspicious. Only two amendments were moved to the Bill in Committee. One of these was only determined upon after three days’ connivance on the part of the unholy alliance, and after causing them probably two or three sleepless nights. Finally they discovered an instrument in Senator Givens.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong.
– The honorable senator was entirely wrong also, because when he submitted his amendment the Chairman of Committees ruled that it was out of order. Then the second amendment was presented, and, as Senator Pearce has pointed out, the Western Australians did all they could to secure what honorable senators who opposed the Bill desired. Now, however, the intention of the opponents of the measure is to make it entirely useless. I sincerely trust that no recommittal will take place, inasmuch as the honorable senator who has moved the amendment has given no reasons’, and because we have proof positive that what he desires is to obstruct and kill the Bill.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [12.25]. - I desire that the Bill shall be recommitted, because the second reading was only carried by something that I suppose I mav complimentarily term a mistake about a pair. I. however, do not regard it as a mistake. I made a valid pair and left. I should not have left without a valid pair. But when I was away I found that my pair had been shifted, and that instead of having a valid pair I had been given an invalid one.
– It was just as valid as the honorable senator’s. He was away in New South Wales, and knows it.
– I was not in New South Wales, as it happens. I should certainly not have left had I not supposed that I had a valid pair.
– The honorable senator was not in Victoria.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about it, and should hold his peace.
– I know that the honorable senator was not in Victoria.
– It is no concern of Senator Pearce’s, and he need not interrupt when he is not being addressed. It was only by that dodge that the second reading was carried. Otherwise there would have been a tie, in which event the question would have been passed in the negative.
– That was not the only dodge.
– I do not accuse any one, but if any honorable senator wishes to know what I am talking about the pair book is on the table. I mention no names. Under the circumstances, I am justified in asking for an opportunity to propose an amendment in the Bill. I will indicate what the amendment is. I do not know that at this stage I ‘can ask for the appointment of a Select Committee, though I think that the inquiry of a committee would be very desirable, not so: much in relation to engineering,, but regarding the matter of public policy.
– Did not the honorable senator go over to Western Australia and make his own inquiries ?
– I did, and I gathered some information of which I wish to make use. The amendment I desire to see inserted is one not to limit the expenditure to ,£20,000 under this Bill, but to £20,000 for the work. In the Bill there is no limitation as to the amount to be expended, but only a limitation as to what is to be expended thereunder. Therefore, there is no limitation as to the amount which may be wasted. The survey which is proposed to be made, and on which authority is sought to spend an unlimited sum, will be suitable for no other public work, and over the ground in question we have no right of occupancy or construction ; we have not even an option. Who would spend his money on the preparation of expensive plans for a building which would suit only one piece of ground over which he had no right of purchase? A man who did that would deserve to be locked up, and if he were a trustee he would be liable to be, and no doubt he would be, prosecuted by the beneficiaries in the estate. Yet we, the public trustees, are asked to squander money without regard even to the limit of the expenditure. I want the Bill to be amended in the direction of providing that only £20,000 shall be spent upon the job, and I use the word “job” intentionally. For that reason I wish to see the Bill recommitted. On the third reading, if it should reach that stage, I shall have a great deal more to say than I have ventured to utter this morning.
– I desire to oppose the recommittal of the Bill.
– Keep the ball rolling.
– I did not quite catch the interjection of Senator Millen, but I hope that he does not think that by an interjection he is likely to frighten any one. Nor do I think that Senator Neild, by his threatening attitude, is likely to frighten either Senator Pearce or any one else. He may be a colonel ; but he is only a member of the Senate, and his expression of opinion or attempted browbeating has fallen very flat so far as I am concerned. Either as a senator or as a big man, or as a colonel, he is not likely to frighten me, or induce me to alter any opinion I hold.
– That is a trumpery argument to use.
- Senator Neild has no right to speak to Senator Pearce or me as he did.
– That is most ungrateful on the honorable senator’s part, seeing that he had helped to keep the debate going until the Adelaide express had arrived.
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. In view of the fact that Senator Neild has established a record for being a past master in the way of not doing things, we might very well get suspicious of the fact that he spoke at all, and, in any case, of the fact that he spoke at some length. We might well desire to see a division taken at this stage -
– I did not speak more than five minutes, and the honorable senator is beating me hollow.
– I think that the honorable senator did speak at great length.
At any rate, I hope that I shall never be called upon to stand up in a Parliament to speak so long as he has done. But if I should speak at some length at any time, it will certainly be with the desire to help along a useful movement for the benefit of the public or of the Commonwealth, and not with a desire to obstruct legislation or to resort to well-known tactics.
– Let us go to a vote now.
– I do not know that we need fear to go to a vote now. I only wish to express my opinion.
– Give us a pair for a senator who is absent on account of a railway accident.
– I think that the Minister, in asking for a pair for an absent senator, is asking too much from a body who have met regularly in caucus to consider their opposition to the Bill, and who may not depart from their instruction. This morning I was led into making an interjection, which, perhaps, reflected upon Senator Turley, but, of course, I did not intend it to reflect upon him more than upon others. Those who are conscientiously opposed to the Bill include some Labour members, who may have legitimate reasons for their opposition ; but it is a remarkable thing that, though elected principally because of their allegiance to a certain party, and of their belief in a certain platform, they have been known to leave the chamber or to be absent from divisions on labour questions. In the case of this Bill, however, meetings have been held regularly for the purpose of working up a proper opposition to its passage.
– That is a general statement, which I think is unfair. Will the honorable senator name a man who has been away when a labour question has been before the Senate?
– Some honorable senators have been away, and, unfortunately, 1 have been away on some occasions. But there has been no neglect on the part of certain members of the Labour Party to attend when this Bill has been under consideration. They have attended carefully to their duty, and during the sittings have gone out and held caucus meetings with honorable senators who sit on the other side to discuss what better means they could use to oppose the Bill. Whether they feel that they are justified in doing that I do not know. Let me again express the hope that when a measure involving labour principles comes before the Senate we shall . have the same unanimity on the part of Labour senators from all the States as has been shown in the case of some of the Labour representatives, more particularly from Queensland.
– The honorable senator is getting as good support for the Bill from every State as from Queensland.
– I am not questioning the fact that we do get some support, but I am questioning the peculiar attitude of the honorable senator, or, rather, of certain members of the Labour Party, on this Bill.
– The honorable senator is more peculiar when he is running after the other side to get support for the Bill.
– I am not. 1 have heard the honorable senator and others refer to this proposal as a job.
– So it is.
– The honorable senator is so seldom here, and knows so little about this discussion, or, in fact, any discussions^
– I know . more than the honorable senator does.
– The honorable senator knows little of the business that has come before the Senate lately.
– How does the honorable senator know?
– I do know.
– The honorable senator is a universal genius.
– The honorable senator is a sort of Paul Pry.
– No. I think that the honorable senator is. getting cross because he does not like to be reminded that he and several other Victorians only come here when there is a question affecting their State under consideration.
– I come here when there is a job going on.
– I do not mind the honorable senator making that remark. Perhaps he is a past master in jobs, and understands them well.
– I cannot hold a candle to the honorable senator.
– I am afraid that I have not benefited practically or otherwise by jobs.
– I do not know. I have only the honorable senator’s word that he has not.
– Order I I ask tha honorable senator not to interrupt.
– The honorable senator is grossly personal. He abused some members of the Labour Party first, and he is abusing me now.
– I want to continue my remarks at the point at which Senator Zeal interrupted me.
– “ Interrupted “ !
– Order ! I again ask Senator Zeal to keep order.
– Why does not Senator Croft keep order ?
– The honorable senator has interrupted a great deal.
– “ Interrupted a great deal “ ?
– The honorable senator must keep order.
– I am not aware that I have done otherwise.
– The honorable senator was interrupting a great deal, and I called him to order.
– Senator Croft was attacking me
– The honorable senator will please keep silent.
– I shall when I am not attacked.
– Unless the honorable senator keeps silent I shall have to take the extreme step.
– Perhaps, sir, I became rather heated, and made some references to Senator Zeal which I should noi’ have made.
– There i* the best proof of it.
– Order ! The honorable senator will please keep silent.
– I made the remark to mollify the honorable senator and not te make him worse. When Senator Givens and others say that this project is a job, what do they mean? Do they mean that we, members of their party, are parties te a project in which we are financially interested or from which we should benefit financially? Surely not. Those who have called it a job have never qualified their charge.
– The honorable senator is incorrect in making that statement. I distinctly pointed out in what respect it is.
– In Committee it was agreed that if a certain amendment were accepted, it would serve as a compromise between all parties, and that the Bill might then be allowed to go to the thirdreading stage when a test vote could be taken. That was generally admitted to be the position when the amendment was accepted. I hope that honorable senators will not vote for a recommittal, because it is unnecessary. I think that the question of the third reading might well be allowed to go to a vote.
– I am quite satisfied that if the supporters of the Bill had been shown anything like fair treatment by its opponents in the matter of pairing, we should not nave had to wait for the attendance of an honorable senator who we know is detained.
-The honorable senator admits that he is “ stone-walling.” That is honest at any rate.
– I admit that we have to see that our number is here. I am quite candid. I do not stand up in a hypocritical way and make a statement in which I do not believe. The supporters of the Bill have been very unfairly treated by its opponents. Not only in this session, but in past sessions we have been refused pairs. When Senator Findley was lying on a sick bed we were refused a pair for him. All kinds of unfair tactics have been adopted. In one session the Bill was talked out and it was supposed to be still in existence when the Parliament met again. Why should we not see that a supporter is afforded an opportunity to be present when we know that he has been detained by a cause over which he had no control ? Senator Neild has talked about his .pair, but I should say that what was done was quite usual under the circumstances.
– If the honorable senator says/ that, he knows nothing whatever of parliamentary practice.
– If the honorable senator is referring to parliamentary tactics, then I must bow to his superior knowledge. If an honorable senator is fairly and reasonably paired with an opponent, it surely does not matter with whom he is paired. As to the proposed recommittal, it requires the exercise of imaginative power to conceive what the reasons may be for such a step. If the Bill had been rushed through, there might have been some justification for reopening the debate, but every possible argument for and against the measure has been submitted. Such wild and random guesses have been made as to the probable cost of this line and other matters, that the only course remaining is to have a proper survey made. Unless an odd person or two happens to traverse the country from South Australia to Western Australia, there is no possible means of getting any information regarding the country.
– Is not’ that a very strong argument against the railway ?
– I do not say whether it is an argument either for or against the railway. I admit that in view of such an enormous extent of territory, very few men would undertake such a task; but people have undertaken it, including a man and his family, who were accompanied by domestic animals and stock. The party arrived without a single loss, and in the best of condition, proving that this country is not the desert which it has been described. The family I refer to thought so much of the country that ‘when they reached Kalgoorlie they at once put in a claim for a selection of a part of the land over which they had passed. The late Mr. O’Connor, Chief Engineer of Western Australia, who may be described as the greatest engineer the Commonwealth has yet produced, gave an estimate as to the probable cost, and this estimate was practically adopted by the Commission subsequently appointed, consisting of the EngineersinChief of the various States. It was not merely a .matter of taking Mr. O’Connor’s word, because the Commissioners visited both ends of the proposed line, and also called at Eucla, and at each place took evidence. These engineers had their professional reputation at stake, and were, further, responsible to their various States for any recommendations which they made : and no better case for the construction of the line could be made out than that found in their report. Then we had the exhaustive report by Mr. Muir; and altogether it appears to me that no further information can be elicited, except that important information which only a thorough survey can supply. Under the circumstances, a recommittal of the Bill would be a waste of time.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– As it has been sufficiently demonstrated that no attempt .has been made to make out a case for the recommittal of the Bill, I shall not take up further time. It is easy to understand the motive at the bottom of the win, tie, or wrangle proposal which has been submitted to delay the passage of this Bill. I intend now to let the motion go to a vote. If other honorable senators had been equally willing to permit the question to be settled by the votes of the honorable senators, and had not desired to prevent the vote of any member of the Senate from being effective, we should have settled the matter before now. Seeing that honorable senators are now in their places, and it is possible to take a vote, I shall not occupy any more of the time of the Senate.
– - I desire briefly to refer to an incident of the debate this morning. The Bill has been sufficiently discussed, and I 0can see no object in continuing to discuss it further ; but I understand that Senator Neild this morning commented very severely on a step I had taken with regard to a pair.
– I did not mention the honorable senator.
– I believe the honorable senator did not mention me by name, but the remarks he made are ‘probably more worthy of condemnation on that account. I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to the facts connected with the “ matter to which he referred. About the middle of August, Senator Neild was going away, it was understood for three weeks, and he asked me to pair with him on this Bill. I agreed to do so. When the three weeks had elapsed, and the honorable senator had not returned to the Senate, Senator Gray was ill, and in Sydney, and he wrote a letter to me, which I have in my pocket at the present time, asking me to arrange a pair for him. This was two days before- the vote on the Bill was taken, and I entered a pair in the book with Senator Gray on one side and Senator Neild on the other. I understand that Senator Neild takes the view that I was not justified in that, that in doing what I did I was guilty to some extent of trickery, and was the means of carrying, on a division, the second reading of the Bill bv trickery. I beg to deny the imputation altogether. The course I “adopted was tine regular and authorized course.
– Senator Neild made no arrangement with me that the pair was to stand with me alone. The honorable senator was duly paired, his vote was accounted for, and I concluded that that was all he needed. It appears, if we may judge from what has now transpired, that Senator Neild was at least willing that Senator Gray, one of his colleagues from New South Wales, should be euchred out of - his rights. I submit that the course I adopted was justified, right, and honorable, and in accordance with all the usages of Parliament, and consequently that the remarks made about me in mv absence, this morning ought not to have been made.
Senator Col. NEILD’ (New South Wales) [2.34]. - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Has the honorable senator been misrepresented?
– I have been misrepresented, inasmuch as the pair made by me with Senator Pulsford was made without any limitation of time. That will be seen from an inspection of the pair book.
– That, I think, is scarcely a personal explanation. In what way has the honorable senator been misrepresented ?
– By the statement made that the pair to which I refer was made for three weeks. I say that the inspection of the pair book will show that it was made without any limitation whatever.
– I did not say that it was made merely for three weeks.
– I am also accused of endeavouring to euchre a colleague out of a pair. I wish to say that I should never have left the Senate under any circumstances unless I had been able to obtain a live pair. I had a live pair with Senator Pulsford. Unknown to myself, and contrary to all parliamentary usage, my pair with Senator Pulsford was transferred to a pair with Senator Gray, which was not a live pair.
– It was.
– Senator Gray was not here and could not be here.
– Is not the honorable senator now discussing the whole question instead of making a personal explanation?
– I have no wish to make any very lengthy remarks, But I am sure that the Senate and you, sir, will permit me to say that it has been a matter of pride to me that honorable senators comprising the delegation from New South Wales have always worked heartily together, and it has been a matter of profound pain to me that this incident has arisen. I may be permitted to add that in the brief . reference I made to the matter this morning, I made no imputation, but merely referred to the incident as a ground for supporting the proposal that the Bill should be recommitted. I very greatly regret the incident.
– The honorable senator has reason to do so.
– I have; and I very much regret that my colleague Senator Pulsford should have acted the part he did.
-I wish in a few words to state my reasons for the vote I am about to give. If I thought that the recommittal of the Bill would in any way jeopardize its passing, I should not Vote for it. Believing as I do that the Bill will pass, I propose to vote for the recommittal, because I think that as a pure matter of business the expense incurred in making the survey should not exceed the ^20,000, and Western Australia should be prepared to give a guarantee to the Commonwealth in respect of any expenditure in excess of that amount. If I can secure such a guarantee by the further consideration of the Bill iri. Committee, I shall be very pleased ; but if I am unable to do so, I shall be prepared to support the Bill as it stands, because I think that the larger interests involved are such that I should not do anything which would jeopardize the passing of the measure for the reason indicated.
– I can understand the very natural and almost painful anxiety of the friends of this measure to proceed to .a division. But I point out that this anxiety iS , of quite recent development. I am not going to say that the adjournment for lunch is a sufficient explanation of the very remarkable change which has come over those honorable senators, but I may say that it seems to synchronize with the arrival of the Adelaide express. I have no objection to honorable senators who at the eleventh hour are conscience-stricken by the enormity of the offence they propose to commit hesitat ing to pass a final approval upon this measure ; but it was asking the Senate to swallow rather a heavy dose when Senator Croft proceeded to lecture honorable senators, to urge the desirability of proceeding with the measure without delay, and to complain of the obstruction which he alleged was being offered to the Bill. The honor-, able senator pointed out how deplorable it was that after the measure had been thoroughly examined and exhaustively discussed, there should still be a hesitancy on the part of the Senate to go to a division.
– Honorable senators opposite had the remedy in their own hands.
– And, as Senator Pearce is aware, we were willing to apply the remedy. No sooner had Senator Croft resumed his seat than Senator de Largie, with .a candour which I appreciate and commend, showed that Senator Croft’s moral lecture had been entirely wasted, and that he at any rate was not prepared to go to a division until he had had something further to say. On resuming after the adjournment for lunch, honorable senators will have noticed that Senator de Largie’s desire to say a little more has entirely evaporated, and he now joins Senator Croft in deploring any further discussion of the measure, and in desiring that we should at once proceed to a division. It is perhaps natural that, as the desire of the honorable senators opposite to discuss this measure diminishes, mine increases. When I notice that keen supporters of the Bill are anxious to cease talking about it, I am imbued with the idea that a necessity has arisen for examining it still more closely. They occupied the whole of the morning in “ stone- walling “ their own Bill, and in doing so made many statements which to my mind are so wide of the truth that it is necessary that they, should be answered. That is a reasonable proposition, if this is to be regarded as a deliberative assembly. I do not quarrel with honorable senators for exercising their right to object to the recommittal of the Bill, but I desire to offer one or two reasons why the measure calls for further consideration, which should be given to it in Committee. Statements have been made, outside regarding the measure which justify us in closely examining it. Quite recently one of the Melbourne newspapers referred to this proposal as “undisguised loot.” Whether that expression is too strong, I -am not prepared to say, but perhaps it would be better if it were referred to as “ disguised loot.” When statements “of this kind are made outside it is desirable that the measure should be subjected to the closest scrutiny, and that every possible precaution should be taken to safeguard the interests of the public Senator Dobson, in supporting the recommittal of the Bill, suggested the desirability of making amendments dealing with the apportionment of the cost of the survey. I entirely agree with the honorable senator’s contention on that point, but there is another amendment which I would like to see introduced, and which would require an additional clause. In the debate on the second reading, I pointed out that there is absolutely no provision in this Bill by which any one injured by reason of the survey which it authorizes, could obtain compensation.. If a land-owner injured by reason of the survey sought to obtain compensation from ‘the State Government, he would naturally be told to apply to the persons who did the damage - the Federal authorities. But there is no machinery in the Bill by means of which that can be done. The Bill ought to be recommitted for the purpose of inserting a new clause entitling any private land-owner - I would exempt the State - who is injured .by reason of the survey to obtain compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Property Acquisition Act. In that Act there is a provision! not only for compensating owners whose land is taken away, but also for compensating those whose lands may be temporarily occupied by the Federal Government in carrying out public works, or for any disturbance of material thereon. The new clause which I desire to insert will read as follows: -
When land other than Crown land is damaged by or in connexion with the survey, the owner thereof shall be entitled to compensation under the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act, or any Act amending the same.
I do not think that it can be argued that that clause is in’ itself, wrong or undesirable. Every one has admitted that the Commonwealth has no right even to inflict private injury in doing a public good without paying reasonable compensation. That is what I “ask for. I propose to limit the purposes of the recommittal to clause 3. and to the consideration of the nev; clause which I have read.
– There is no chance of any injury being, done.
– It may happen that in making the survey, the surveyors may camp on a pastoral leasehold, and may utilize the only water that is available to the owner for the purpose of his stock. In that case he should surely be entitled to reasonable compensation.
– Does not the honorable senator think that persons will be only too glad to give the surveyors water?
– The honorable senator has only to recollect the conditions under which pastoral operations are conducted in some portions of this country to be aware that a single water-hole may constitute the only hope of a pastoralist in carrying on his operations. If the water supply of such a pastoralist is diminished by the survey party, he should know that he is entitled to claim compensation. The only question is : Who is to pay that compensation? In equity the Federal authority, which undertakes the survey, should pay it. The Property Acquisition Act contains the machinery by which compensation for damage done ‘may be determined and paid.
– If it is provided for in that Act, why is it necessary to put a special clause in this Bill ?
– Will the honorable senator show me how any person would be able to make a claim under that Act for damage done under this ‘Bill ?
– He could claim under the common law.
– Against whom?
– Against the Government which employed the survey party.
– If that be so, there can be no objection to the clause which I propose. But the attitude of the Minister shows that there is a doubt even in his own mind as to what would be the position of any one injured in the course of making the survey.
– There is no doubt in the case of private property being injured, but there is a doubt whether lessees have a right, if the State Parliament gives permission for a survey to be made, to any compensation when the survey is made in the usual way.
– Suppose the Parliament of South Australia gives the Commonwealth permission to make a survey, and that some damage results. It will naturally say to the Commonwealth Go- vernment, “You must shoulder the loss; we give you the authority which we ourselves have for running the survey through people’s land, but you must accept the responsibility and incur the liability to pay compensation in the event of damage being done.”
– No; the South Australian Government would not incur any liability, because there is a clause in the leases of that State which prevents it.
– There is no clause in the leases of that State to that effect - and I say that to a man who is a South Australian ex-Commissioner of Lands. There is no clause which gives power to enter upon a man’s leasehold to make a survey do damage to -him, and pay him no compensation. I do not think that even the State of South Australia, would tolerate such a proceeding for a moment. I wish to make it quite clear that in this Bill we accept all the responsibility which attaches to the South Australian Government in the matter of making surveys upon private property and leased land. If no damage is done, there can be no harm in inserting my amendment, but if there is damage, the Commonwealth should put a person injured in the position of being able to secure compensation for it. I move -
That the following words be added : - “ with 1 view to reconsidering clause 3, and adding new clauses.”
Senator Sir WILLIAM ZEAL (Victoria) [3.0]. - I support the motion for the recommittal of the Bill for the followng reasons. During the second-reading debate, it was stated that a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie could be constructed either by way of the Gawler Ranges or approaching the neighbourhood of Eucla. In this Bill there is no indication of which route is to be surveyed. It seems to me that there should be some indication by Parliament. Probably the best course would be to make use of existing harbors as far as possible. In that case the Eucla route should have the preference. If a direct line is required, probably the route via Gawler Range to Kalgoorlie should be chosen. But in the Bill there is no indication, as to which route is to be chosen. It would not be possible, I think, for an alternative route to be selected. Besides, where is the money to come from ? Suppose- that the surveyors adopted the Gawler Range route, and that afterwards it was shown that the Eucla route was a better one. there is no method by which that information could be presented to the Parliament. It seems to me that the Bill is a perfect farce. It has been urged that the railway would have manifold advantages in allowing mails, and, at times, stock and produce to be taken across country. Are the Government prepared in the Bill to say whether a light railway - that is, a line following close to the surface of the ground with light rails and earth work - or a first-class railway like the line between Sydney and Melbourne, or between Melbourne and Adelaide is to be made? Which kind of railway do the Government intend to adopt? We are on the horns of a dilemma. If thev are going to have a railway which is to carry passengers and produce at anything approximating the speed which is maintained between Adelaide and Sydney, it will have to be very different from’ what is called a light railway. Only information of the baldest description has been given, and the Government will not be in a position to take advantage .of any information which the surveyors may furnish, because if the surveyors adopted the Gawler Range route thev would have to come to Parliament again to obtain money to survey an alternative route. Is that the way in which to submit to Parliament a scheme which honorable senators have stated will have manifold advantages, not only to Western Australia, but to the Commonwealth generally? We cannot be too careful. So far as I am aware, whenever u railway has been protected in Australia the route generally has been designated, and it has either been published bv the Government, as between. A and B. via C and D, or the Government has been given a general power bv Act of Parliament. In this Bill there is no detail given. Like the Government, the surveyors could do what thev liked, but they must confine themselves to one route. That is most undesirable.
– They must eel from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– Yes, but suppose it was discovered that the Eucla route had a slight advantage over the other route - and the general consensus of opinion in the two States concerned is that the railway should go bv the direct route - how would it .be possible to get down to Eucla? It ought to be explicitly stated iri clause 2 that the survey is to be for a direct line between two points or such alternative route as the Government might see fit to adopt. The money should be provided for making the alternative survey, because if the estimates of honorable senators are worth a button £20,000 would net make a survey of a line to the Gawler Range and a line going down to Eucla, so that the scheme would be a failure at its very inception, and the information that the Government desire to get would not be obtained. If honorable senators are prepared to indorse a provision which is drafted in that haphazard fashion, and which might involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure of millions of pounds, they would deserve to be blamed for all the loss and inconvenience which might arise therefrom. We have often heard about the advantages of the railway for carrying stock. Let us look at the question like ordinary business men. What is the present position of affairs? In Queensland the gauge is 3 ft. 6 in. ; in New South Wales, it is 4 ft. 8i in. ; in Victoria, it is 5 ft. 3 in., and that gauge is continued until a certain point in South Australia is reached, where a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge is met with. In those circumstances, how would it be possible to maintain anything like speed, or to carry cattle if they had to be shifted four timete on the journey, perhaps in a tropical heat, when there was very little food or water available? The idea is monstrous. The whole scheme is an abortion from beginning to end. It is utterly devoid of anybusiness principle, or the ordinary precaution which business men should” take. There is no member of the Senate who would put six coppers into such a scheme. It is all very fine for the! representatives of Western Australia to come here and lecture us because we have asked that a reasonable precaution should be taken as regards safety, taunt us with being “’ press gangs,” and hurl at us all kinds of opprobrious epithets which I think are unworthy of them. So far as Senator Pearce is concerned, I think that no better representative of a State has ever entered the Chamber. He strives to do the utmost he can to forward the interests of his State, but that is not the way in which to accomplish his purpose.. It was not worthy of the honorable senator to talk of other honorable senators being press gangs, because the representatives of Victoria and Queensland have, as much right to their opinion as he has.
– The honorable senator will admit that I made the remark under verv great provocation.
– It is quite opposed to all ideas of equity and justice that the scheme should be forced upon the Parliament at the eleventh hour without receiving proper consideration. What have the Government been doing all this time? They have been allowing the time of the country to be wasted, and at the eleventh hour they are trying to force a scheme through Parliament which should never be allowed to pass, at all events, until proper investigation had taken place. I ask honorable senators to. see that the proposed injustice is not committed, and that this abortive scheme is not foisted upon Parliament until a proper inquiry has been made.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [3.10].- The Government are not to be commended, even by the representatives of Western Australia, for having allowed this measure to be left over until the eleventh hour. When it has been before Parliament on two or three occasions, it has been received with very strenuous opposition. As the Government had pledged themselves to carry out the survey if possible, it would have been only a fair thing had the measure been brought forward in the early days of the session, and not during its last few hours.
– The honorable senator knows very well that it had to pass through another place before it could come here.
– I am not blaming the honorable senator as the leader of the Senate for having delayed the consideration of the Bill, but I am blaming him as a member of the Government for not seeing that it was introduced into the other House at ,an earlier stage, so as to give an ample opportunity for its consideration here.
– If that had been done it would have been said that the Go- ‘vernment were in indecent haste to spend £20,000.
– No; it would have been said that it was only proper for the Government to give the Senate an ample opportunity to consider the proposal calmly and dispassionately.
– It has been before the Senate for several months.
.- Practically at the last moment an attempt is made to drive the Bill through the Senate by means of brute force. It may afford a very good electioneering cry in one or two States. It may also be a good electioneering cry on the other side in other States, but I do not think that the Government have a right to introduce a measure which will be used solely for electioneering purposes. If the Bill had been brought forward months ago, as it could have been, honorable senators would have had a full opportunity to discuss it. This morning we found certain honorable senators fighting for breath. Why? Because they wished to make sure that their supporters would be here.
– Was there anything wrong in doing that?
.- No; but the wrong is in saying that other honorable senators have been responsible for the delay. If there had been no amendment for a recommittal, I believe that a debate would still have taken place in order to make sure that every one was present.
– Quite right, too.
– I do not object to that.
– I object to the refusal to give a pair.
.- On what?
– On anything.
– Would the honorable senator pair a man if he did not know how he was going to vote?
-Col. GOULD. - My name has been mentioned with regard to not having given a pair. I could not pair with a “ dead “ man. Senator Matheson has not been in the Chamber during the session, but has been at the other end of the world. How am I to know how he desires to vote at the present time? But, apart from that, if I am here in my place, it is unfair to ask me to pair with an honorable senator who is at the other end of the world, and who, so far as we know, does not intend to seek re-election. The only question on which a pair could be given was whether the Bill should be recommitted, and nobody knew how a certain member of the Senate was going to vote, and I do not know, even now. Senator Millen has indicated a clause which he desires to have inserted. He was told, by Senator Playford that if any body did suffer a wrong in consequence of the survey, although it was carried out under the authority of an Act of the Parliament of South Australia, he would be entitled to compensation. He was not quite sure of his ground, because he rather hedged afterwards, and expressed some doubt. When I have quoted the law on the subject,- he will find that if the State Parliament did, by Act, authorize the survey to be made, and made no provision for the payment of compensation for injury suffered by an individual, he would have no redress. Dealing with, the effect of Statutes on common law and equity, Hardcastle says, at page 309 - “ Where the Legislature directs that a thing shall at all events be done, the doing of which, if not authorized by the Legislature, would entitle any one to an action, the right of action is taken away “ ; for if, as the Court said, in Vaughan v. Taff Vale Railway Company (iS6o),. 29 L.J., Ex. 247, “the Legislature sanctions the use of a particular means for a given purpose that sanction carries with it this consequence, namely, that the use of the meansitself for that purpose is not a proceeding for which an action will lie independently of negligence.”
– -If they could provethat they had suffered damage thev would.
– If they could show that they had suffered damage through negligence, then they could claim compensation, but not otherwise. My contention is that without a provision of that character in the Act ‘ authorizing the Commonwealth to enter upon the land and make the survey, unless it could be shown that negligence had been used, there would be a right of action given to an individual for any injury which he might have sustained. Senator Millen has pointed out that in a pastoral country it very often happens that a very spare supply of water is available, and that really the safety of the station depends upon its preservation. Suppose that a pastoralist suffered in consequence of the surveyor doing the work which he was authorized bv a Statute to do, he would, not be entitled to one penny of compensation unless he could show that the surveyor had been negligent. Let me point out a case in which that principle is distinctly laid down: -
And in R. v. Pease (1832), 4 B and Ad. 30, an action was brought against the Stockton and Darlington Railway by a person whose horse, while passing along a public road near the railway, had been frightened by the noise of the locomotive engines. It appeared that the railway had been made in pursuance of powers given to the defendants by an Act of Parliament, but the plaintiff contended that although the Act in question gave the defendants power to use locomotive engines, it did not follow that the common law rights of the public in general were taken away by the Act, so as to prevent an action at common law from lying if the power granted by the Act were used so as to create an annoyance. But the Court held that when the Legislature gave to the defendants unqualified authority to use the locomotives, they must be presumed to have known that the railway would be adjacent to the public highway, and that the part of the public which would use the highway would sustain some inconvenience, which inconvenience there was nothing unreasonable in supposing that the Legislature intended the public to sustain for the sake of the greater good to be obtained by other parts of the public from the railway, and consequently that the common law right of action on account of the annoyance was taken away. This case was not for some time admitted by all Judges to have been rightly decided : but its authority is established by the decisions in L.B. and S.C. Rail. Co. v. Truman, and Cowper Essex v. Acton L.B., the latter being with reference to the effect of sewerage works on an owner of land near, but not physically next to, the lands taken by a local authority under compulsory powers. And the doctrine has also been accepted by the Judicial Committee in numerous decisions. It must not, however, be forgotten that where persons are authorized by statute to create what would otherwise amount to an indictable nuisance, they are bound without any express enactment to mitigate the nuisance and diminish the annoyance arising therefrom by every means in their power.
In view of that extract, it becomes abundantly manifest that it is only reasonable some provision should be made to compensate owners who may suffer in consequence of the exercise of the power this Bill proposes to confer.
– The land is alleged to te uninhabited.
.- That may be a reason why the railway should not be built. But while the greater .portion of the land may be Crown land, and some of it absolute waste and unoccupied, there will almost certainly be portions of private land that will have to be entered upon by the surveyors. After all, I take it the inquiry is to be of such a character as to enable Parliament to determine whether it is desirable that a railway should be constructed, and, in the course of the survey, it is more than probable that private and unoccupied lands may have to be interfered with. The Minister of Defence shakes his head : and I shall assume, for the sake of argument, that, so far as he knows, it will not be necessary to enter upon private land.
– It will not be necessary to touch any private land.
– If so. where is the objection to the proposed clause? Is such a clause not necessary for more abundant caution? Is it not fair, if we find that for the benefit of the Commonwealth it is necessary to carry a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, any person who suffers damage by reason of the survey dr the construction, shall be paid fair and reasonable compensation? Senator Millen has suggested a case in which very serious injury might result to an occupier even of Crown lands. Senator Pearce is a strong advocate of this railway, but I am quite sure I can appeal to him to say that the clause suggested is reasonable. While individuals may have to suffer occasionally for the advantage of the community, it is never the desire of the community to inflict individual hardship in carrying out any great national work. I strongly support the recommittal of the Bill in order to consider the clause suggested by Senator Millen. Senator Dobson desires to have an amendment made providing that Western Australia and South Australia shall pay a fair share of the cost of the survey ; but that is another matter entirely. If those two States felt that a survey or the construction of such a railway would be advantageous to them, they would be prepared, as every State in the Commonwealth, hitherto has been, to carry out the work for the convenience of their own people, and for the purpose of opening up their own territory. If the States are not prepared to do the work, the presumption is that thev cannot see any gain in such a line to them individually. They are prepared, however, to give consent to the Commonwealth Parliament to carry out the work, on the ground that it is of such a national character- as to justify the expense being borne by the man in the extreme north as well as by the man in Western Australia or South Australia Such a work can only be justified on the ground that it is national ; and the proposal to construct this line may be regarded as a first step towards the federalization of the railways of Australia. If there is a Commonwealth railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, through territory not owned by the Commonwealth, an advance will have been made towards federalizing the whole of the railways. If the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory, and constructed a railway be- tween Port Darwin and the existing railways in the east or south, that railway must pass through territory belonging to the Commonwealth Parliament, and it would be justified in the same way as are the States in ‘ the construction of their railways. There we see the clear distinction between the two cases. We have not only to regard this as a national railway between the two points named, but we have to inquire whether it represents a necessary step towards the federalization of the railways. Personally, I do not see that it would be to the advantage of the Commonwealth if the railways were federalized. A certain amount of rivalry between the two States in connexion with the railways is in the interests of the public generally, who wish to travel comfort ably, quickly, and economically. We know that as soon as one State makes a forward step in railway policy, the adjoining States are put on their mettle; and from these improvements, the result of rivalry, the public reap the advantage. This is an attractive subject, on which one might be tempted to speak at great length ; but there is no desire to occupy too much time, and it is not a question directly under discussion. I urge honorable senators, in common fairness, whether they are in favour or against th«- proposed railway, to afford an opportunity to make provision for the protection of anr members of the public who mav have the misfortune to sustain injury in consequence of the survey.
-25]. - If I am not out of order I should like to express to you, Mr. President, and to the Senate, my regret that I was not here at an earlier hour to respond to the call of the Senate. I do not know whether it is an irregularity not to be here at the right time on such an occasion, but when the circumstances are unavoidable - when there has been an accident which might have had very serious consequences, and might have vacated one’s place for ever - there is an excuse. At any rate, I take the liberty now to make this explanation. I thought that, probably, this Bill would have reached a later stage - that it would have emerged from the region of heat and discussion, and arrived at a point at which a final decision of the Senate could be obtained. It appears, however, that there is before the Senate a motion for the recommittal of the Bill. This measure, in substance and in form, is identical with that which I had the opportunity to introduce two years ago as one of the representatives in the Chamber of the then Government. I like to view the position pretty much as I should have viewed it if I were in the position now occupied by the Minister of Defence, in relation to a motion of this character, under the circumstances, in which it has been brought forward. In addition, I have repeatedly said - and I think we are all imbued with the same feeling - that it is undesirable that there should be any curtailment of the opportunity for discussion when some real subject is brought forward. Not only so. but when we have already discussed some particular matter, and an appeal is made to the Senate that it should be further debated and investigated, I have not known, except in some extreme cases, any verystrong opposition to that course being adopted. Therefore, I view any motion for a recommittal of a Bill from a very lenient and forbearing stand-point, in whatever form that motion .may be submitted. As an illustration, I may say that the other day, when a ruling, which excluded the consi-deration of an amendment moved bv Senator Givens, was under discussion, I then, acting on the principle which I have indicated, and which I hope I shall always act on, supported the course which would secure the full debate of a proposal to which, in itself, I was strongly opposed. These are the principles which usually actuate me on any question of recommittal, or any question involving exhaustive discussion. In the proposal for a recommittal there are three objects ; first, to secure a recommittal of the entire Bill ; secondly, to secure a recommittal with a view to introducing new clauses ; and, thirdly, to secure a recommittal with a view to considering clause 3, which specifies the amount which is to be expended, and declares that it has to be charged to the Commonwealth consolidated fund.
– That clause has never been considered.
– I shall deal with that point in a moment. With regard : to the first of these, I have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that I could not possibly support the recom:mittal of the Bill as a whole. The view I take of the measure is that, in its essence, its object is to authorize the Minister to make a survey at the cost of the
Commonwealth. Otherwise, there would be no necessity for any Bill dealing with the subject. As I was not present in the earlier part of the day, I followed very closely what was said by honorable senators who preceded me this afternoon, and I was particularly struck by what Senator Zeal said in respect of the route. I should like to say that the very indefiniteness of the route is, to my mind, if it is not paradoxical to say so, the merit of the survey proposed to be authorized. This is not a Bill for a detailed survey, in order to construct a particular railway between two termini. It proposes to authorize a survey which is more of an exploratory nature. Whether rightly or wrongly, what influenced me two years ago, as well as now, is that this is a proposal for a survey for the purpose of getting information as to the route of the railway.
– For what ultimate purpose ?
– I shall refer to the ultimate purpose if it is necessary ; but I wish to confine myself now to the question before the Senate. The. object is to obtain, by means of a survey, information “ which, some honorable senators think might be equally, if not more efficiently, ascertained by the investigation of a Select Committee, or some body of that kind. As I pointed out, and as I think the Minister of Defence pointed out last year when he took charge of the Bill, on the present Government coming, into office, the survey proposed is for the purpose of obtaining information!. That is how I regard it, and I have never regarded it as in any sense a survey of a definite route, already ascertained, between two termini. That is the view taken of the matter by South Australia. The correspondence shows plainly that, in the opinion of the authorities of South Australia, there must be some understanding as to the route before even- the survey is permitted. .The argument put with so much force and clearness by Senator Zeal appeals to me in rather the other way. It seems to me that we have very fully discussed clause 2, which gives effect to the intention to have a survey made, and I remind honorable senators that an, amendment was made upon it that it should be a condition that the Minister should authorize the survey only on receiving the sanction of South Australia, legislatively enacted. I cannot understand what fur ther discussion we could have in respect of that clause. In the circumstances, so far as a recommittal of the whole Bill is concerned. I am unable to consider the proposal for a moment. Senator Mulcahy interjected, with regard to the survey, “ For what ultimate purpose?” The purpose, tomy mind, is to obtain information.
– To obtain information merely for the purpose of possessing it, or for what other purpose?
– For the purpose of possessing it. Information is a valuable possession at all times. Knowledge is power. I have no hesitation, nor do I think there is any in the State which I represent, as to the conclusion at which we have arrived ; but there are others who desire information, with a view to coming to a conclusion as to the desirability of the construction of this railway. I am not sure whether what has. been stated with regard to the payment of the cost, and so on, is not sound. I should have preferred - and this is what I contemplated as one of the results of the Federal Union - that South Australia and Western Australia, if they thought fit to construct this line, in the belief that it would be an advantageous railway, should have themselves incurred the necessary expenditure. I do not hesitate for one moment to say that. Except from the point of view of obtaining information in this way, if that be thought advisable, I confess that there is no ground for any claim upon the Commonwealth in the matter, and none so far has been made out. Still, it has been agreed that the authority of the Senate should be given to the expenditure authorized by the Bill for the survey, and that it should be under the control of the Commonwealth.
– If the survey is made of one particular route, how are we to get information about the alternative route?
– I am unable to tell the honorable senator. I presume that the surveyors will report upon some route which they will consider it advisable to adopt, and it will then be before the Commonwealth and the States for consideration.
– They cannot survey both routes for the amount proposed to be appropriated.
– I agree. I am not an expert in these matters, whilst Senator Zeal is undoubtedly one of the leading experts in Australia, and I should say, upon his authority and upon the authority of others, that ,£20,000 would be a meTe fraction of the cost which must be incurred if the survey is to extend over the area indicated.
– There is a difference of opinion even amongst experts regarding both routes.
– I know that there is. We are being asked to give authority for the expenditure proposed with a view to obtaining information. It will not commit anybody to any thing sub,-, sequently, nor will it commit the Senate or the Federal Parliament to sanction a very much larger expenditure or any larger expenditure which might be proposed. The sum of £20,000 is estimated as being sufficient for the survey, and any larger expenditure proposed, and all the elements concerned in it, can be dealt with when such a proposal comes before us. The second object in view in suggesting the recommittal of the Bill is to add certain clauses. I shall be no party to a recommittal of the measure with a view to adding a number of vague and indeterminate clauses, which I understand is the proposal of Senator Dobson.
– Senator Dobson indicated them all.
– Senator Gray wishes to add a new clause, and that is why he is going to vote for the recommittal of the Bill
– One of my proposals is that the cost of the survey shall be paid by the Commonwealth and the two States concerned in equal parts.
– I am strongly opposed to that.
– Yet the honorable senator believes that the two States should bear the whole of the cost.
– No, because the Bill provides that the Commonwealth shall pay. Having assented to the second reading of the Bill, I take it that we have affirmed ‘ the principle that the survey is to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth shall pav for it. An amendment to distribute the cost in any way would be inconsistent with the principle we have affirmed in passing the second reading of the Bill.
– If a sum of money is voted for the survey of a route, how is it possible that information with respect to alternative routes can be obtained for that money?
– I look upon the proposal in this way : The surveyors are to select the route which they think most advisable as the result of their examination.
– But it must be between two specified terminal points.
– Of course; ‘between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. If we were dealing with the matter on determinate lines, I should prefer that the Western Australian terminus of the line should be Esperance Bay. I think that would be very much more advantageous than the proposal that it should be at Kalgoorlie.
– Would it not be desirable to obtain information on that point?
– If such information can be obtained it ought to be obtained.
– The amount proposed to be appropriated will not cover that.
– A line, from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay has already been surveyed.
– I was not aware of that. I. do not wish to deal with that aspect of the matter now. What I understand is to be done is to have a survey of a route. That is to say, the surveyors will report on the route they think most suitable for a line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. If in order to ascertain which would be the most suitable route they have to go over the country and select one amongst several, I do not know that £20,000 will be sufficient for the purpose. I think it would be their duty to do it. However, these are details with which it is not necessary to deal now. One new clause has been indicated by Senator Millen to make provision for the payment of compensation to any one who has sustained damage as a result of the survey operations. I. listened verv attentively to what Senators Millen and Gould said about that. If I thought -such a provision were necessary I should undoubtedly support the recommittal of the Bill. I am not satisfied that it is necessary, but I am satisfied, on the contrary, that it is not necessary. The arguments submitted by Senators Millen andGould were very strong, but they did not convince me. This Bill authorizes the Minister to cause a survey to be made, and if it becomes law it amounts absolutely to nothing unless South Australia passes an Act enabling the survey to be carried out. I should stultify myself if I voted for the recommittal of the Bill with a view to the introduction of a clause which I do not think would be worth a snap of the fingers.
– Does the honorable and learned senator not think that the Bill should say that the survey must be a survey of the most desirable route between the places mentioned?
– I think it means that.
– It does not say so.
– It does not, but I think it means a survey of a route which is most eligible-
– In the judgment of the surveyors.
-In the opinion of South Australia.
– That is what is running all through the correspondence.
– But Senator Turley must see that we have adequately protected South Australia. We have also protected the Commonwealth and land-owners in this way ; that it is conditional upon the legislative consent of South Australia that the survey shall be undertaken. Senator Millen proposes the introduction of a clause to provide for compensation. It is quite unnecessary for us to make such a provision in this Bill because no permission to drive in a peg or to send a surveyor over any part of the route could be given without the consent of the South Australian Government. If no compensation could be given without a clause in this Bill, Senator Millen’s amendment ought to be inserted. But such is not the case. If there is land to be taken or works are to be erected upon privately-owned land bv virtue of an Act of Parliament, there is no right of compensation of any description unless compensation is provided for.
– So that if the South Australian Government passes a Bill without a compensation clause there will be no right of compensation?
– We cannot remedy that. South Australia has to authorize the survey to be made. South Australia alone can authorize entrance, without liability for trespass, upon lands that must be passed through. If the South Australian Legislature is so regardless of the interests of its citizens as to permit damage to be inflicted without compensation, the South Australian Legislature must bear the brunt of it.
– What about the citizen who is damaged?
– Well, Senator Clemons is a representative of Tasmania, and I am a representative of South Australia ; and I am willing to take the responsibility regarding the citizens of South Australia to that extent. It is for the Legislature that can authorize entrance upon a man’s land to provide the compensation in respect of any damage done to him ; not for us, who are merely putting what I may call a pious permission upon our statute-book, to cause a survev to be made in respect of which we cannot take a single step unless another and subordinate Legislature authorizes it. Therefore, I regret that it is impossible for me to support the recommittal for the purpose of inserting the suggested new clause. Now comes the third point, namely, the proposal to recommit clause 3. I quite agree that that clause was not considered in Committee. But what was there to consider about it?
– I think that we can show that good amendments might be made in it.
– If Senator Clemons can show that, I will reserve my decision upon the point.
– Has not Senator Grav given a reason?
– He gave one that was conclusive to himself. But the Bill says that the cost of the survey is not to exceed . £20,000. If good reason is shown, I will vote for the recommittal of clause 3, but I am not going to vote for a recommittal simply to take up more time. The principle of the Bill is to give permission for a survey to be made by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is to pay for it. Why should we have a reconsideration of the Bill for the mere purpose of saying that the Commonwealth shall not pay? To go back into Committee in order, as Senator Dobson has said, to distribute the payment amongst the States in certain proportions, seems to me. to be inconsistent with what we have already decided. We are asked what guarantee there is that the survey will not cost £50,000. The reply is that the Bill itself says that the cost is not to exceed £20,000.
– It merely says that more than . £20,000 is not to be expended under this Bill.
– That is not exactly what it says. If says that the cost of the whole survey authorized by the Bill shall not exceed , £20,000.
– Expert senators state deliberately that that amount is not sufficient.
– That would have been an excellent reason for rejecting the Bill on its second reading.
– And it is a good reason for recommitting the Bill.
– What is it proposed to put in?
– That Western Australia shall pay anv amount over £20,000.
– Why cannot that question be dealt with if an application is made for more money ?
– All the available routes should be examined, and the surveyors should have specific instructions.
– I quite agree with that. I am not prepared to vote for a recommittal as to clause 3 unless good reasons are stated.
– It will take up so much time.
– My honorable friend is quite entitled to say that. I shall not assist in any procedure that would simply have the result of occupying time. At the same time, I always prefer that there should be every opportunity for debate. As at present advised, I shall vote against the recommittal, but I hold my judgment in suspense in case reasons are advanced for a recommittal for the purpose of dealing with any matter which may be worthy of reconsideration in Committee.
– I was under the impression, when Senator Symon commenced his speech, that he intended to vote for the recommittal, but I am glad to learn that he intends to vote against it. I am under the impression that there was a distinct compromise with regard to this Bill - that if the Government accepted an amendment in clause 2 the third reading of the Bill was to be agreed to.
– I may be wrong, but that was my impression.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– Senator Symon has explained, to my complete satisfaction, that if there is anv claim for compensation it must be against the South Australian Government.
– I did not say that. What I say is that the South Australian Parliament must make provision.
– At all events, I do not see that any steps can be taken to exceed the amount, £20,000, mentioned in the Bill without the authority of Parliament. It is clear that that is the maximum expenditure permitted. No other money can be spent without the sanction of Parliament.
– I am surprised to hear Senator Walker say that there was a compact that this Bill was to go through without further debate after the Committee stage.
– I understood that no attempt was to be made to recommit on the third reading.
– There was no compact whatever. The only arrangement made with the Government has been faithfully kept - that if the amendment before the Committee was agreed to the Bill would go through Committee that night, and that the third reading would be set down for the following Wednesday.
– It was further specifically mentioned that we might move for a recommittal. That was mentioned in so many words by me.
– We understood that the Senate would have a perfectly free hand when the Bill came up again for consideration. I deprecate any statement made in that way. because it might lead not only honorable senators, who were absent when the agreement was entered into, but a number of persons who read the reports of our debates, to come to the conclusion that honorable senators who are opposed to the Bill have not kept “their part of the compact. I do not know that there is any reason to agree with Senator Clemons that we should recommit the whole Bill, because I understand that, according to the agreement we entered into with the Government, we were satisfied with clause 2. I do not know that the honorable senator has any ground for proposing the recommittal of I he whole Bill. When he submitted his motion he certainly outlined amendments which he had in view, and evidently they referred to clause 3, and to new clauses which might be moved by any honorable senator.
– That would abundantly satisfy me.
– Senator Millen has moved an amendment to limit the recommittal of the Bill to a reconsideration of clause 3 and new clauses. He has pointed out why, in the interests of not only South Australia and Western Australia, but every State in the Union, there should be made a. provision to safeguard the rights of all persons who are occupying land between the terminal points of the survey. Senator Dobson has taken a very keen interest in the measure from the day it was introduced. On the first occasion he spoke at great length, and pointed out the position of his State. In this session, he has pointed out that it cannot afford any money for this purpose. He desired to be afforded another opportunity to state his views, because he believes that it is absolutely necessary to protect the interests of his State. I have read a paragraph in the press to the effect that a prominent man in Tasmania had stated that the condition of the State is such that if it does not get back as large a sum from the Federal Treasurer as it has been getting, it will have to make a special appeal to the Commonwealth for assistance. Under those circumstances, Senator Dobsen is perfectly justified in asking that the Bill shall be recommitted with a view to protecting the interests of his State. It mav be said by some honorable senators that its proportion of the amount would not be very much. But that is no argu-ment against a recommittal, when he is prepared to point out that Tasmania is not in a position to afford the expenditure, whatever it may amount to. I know that he gave that as one of the reasons why he intended, to vote against the second read ing of the Bill. But in Committee, owing to the compact which was entered into between the opponents and the supporters of the Bill, he had not an opportunity to submit his proposal in a concrete form. Why do the Government deny to the honorable senator an opportunity to test the opinion of the Chamber on the matter?
– If he had been sincere in the matter, he would have put a proposal on the notice-paper long ago.
– It is not fair for the Minister to doubt the sincerity of Senator Dobson in regard to the position which he takes up for the protection of his State.
– Does not the honorable senator think that if Senator Dobson held a very strong opinion he ought to have done something in that direction.
– It may have escaped the recollection of Senator Dobson. But that is no justification for the Minister to say that he is not sincere iri the argument which he wishes to advance to protect the financial interests of his State. If any honorable senator has been conscientiously opposed to the Bill since its inception, he has been.
– Undoubtedly. Let him vote against the third reading, and let us have done with the Bill.
– I am pointing out how it is that the discussion has been dragged on so long.
– It is getting very interesting.
– It is getting monotonous. It is wasting so much time. We might as well take a division.
– I take exception to the statement of the Minister. I have not previously spoken on the Bill. If I am expected to come here to be at the beck and call of the Government, or anybody else, as to when or how long I shall speak, I have no right t6 be here at all. For .a representative of a Government which, practically, we are keeping in position, to hurl such a taunt at me is not worthy of him. I object to being told by the Minister that I have no right to address the Senate, because to do so means wasting time.
– I was not alluding to the honorable senator,_ but to an interjection by Senator Givens. It appeared to me that it would be a good deal better for us to divide on the points at issue. I believe that further discussion will not alter one vote, and therefore I said that it was a waste of time. I was not alluding to the honorable senator, because I knew that he had not spoken on the Bill before.
– I do not see that the explanation of the Minister has improved matters. Practically, what he says is, ‘ ‘ What is the use of discussing the Bill? You may talk as long as you like, but you will not change a vote.” I have always understood that this is a deliberative assembly, but evidently the Minister does not hold that opinion. Practically, he has invited honorable senators to do what has been done here to-day. On page 4540 of Hansard he made a statement regarding the order of business. He said -
I am pleased to say that I have come to a compromise with my friends on the other side in regard to the amendment submitted by Senator Givens in the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. I am willing to accept that amendment on the understanding that the Bill is taken through its Committee stage this evening, and that the third reading be fixed for Wednesday next. I shall endeavour to communicate with honorable senators as to the time when the third reading will be taken; and it will then be open to honorable senators to consider the measure fully, and move a recommittal if they so wish.
– That is not an absolutely correct statement of the case.
– What ! Hansard is not correct?
– As I was speaking, an honorable senator asked, by interjection, “ Would the right to recommit the Bill on the third reading be conceded?” and I said, “ I cannot help myself. Honorable senators have that right as a matter of course.” That is what I did say.
– Did the Minister mention the question of recommittal ?
– My speech was not made in the connected form in which it appears in Hansard.
– I am very sorry that the Minister has been misreported. I understand that Hansard is not issued until everv honorable senator has had an opportunity to correct a proof report of his speech.
– I have never corrected a proof report of any speech.
– If the honorable senator does not take the trouble to correct his proofs, can he blame us for accepting the report?
– I do not blame the honorable senator. I only wish to state a fact.
– The report is not incorrect. It is absolutely in accordance with the Minister’s statement.
– If any one has taken a pronounced interest in this project, Senator Dobson has done so. He now wishes to get an opportunity to submit in a concrete form a proposal which he has voiced here over and over again during the last two or three years. Even if the Government have a majority.I do not think it is fair to refuse a recommittal. If the Government majority are opposed to the proposal, which Senator Dobson desires to submit, that proposal would be defeated. But there is no reason why honorable senators should not have an opportunity to consider a question which is of vital importance, not only to South Australia and Western Australia, but to every State of the Union.
– On account of the compromise which was arrived at, I had no opportunity to submit my amendment.
– That is so. I myself should like an opportunity of placing before honorable senators the financial position of Queensland in connexion with this railway proposal. Senator Pearce read to us long extracts from the speeches of members of the Western Australian Parliament, who complained that they had not received the benefits they expected from Federation. If the Bill be recommitted, I shall be able to show that in Queensland, not only members of the State Parliament, but practically the State Government, as shown by their financial statement, are not well satisfied with the results of Federation. If Western Australia is in a better position than are the other States - if Western Australia is receiving from her railways, not only interest on the cost of construction and working expenses, but also a considerable profit, then I claim that I, as a representative of Queensland, where from £200,000 to £400,000 per annum has to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue towards the maintenance of the railways, should have an opportunity to place the position before honorable senators with a view to inducing them to provide that the two States more nearly interested should bear the larger part of the proposed expenditure.
– During the last three years a profit of £250,000 has been made on the Western Australian railways, after paying all charges, whereas during the same period there has been a loss of -£1, 200,000 on the Queensland railways.
– Senator Clemons, who also represents Tasmania, may not be in agreement with the proposal by Senator Dobson.
– There is absolute unanimity.
-I do not believe there can be unanimity in a matter of this kind. Senator Dobson has outlined an amendment providing for a division of the expenditure, whereas Senator Clemons desires that the whole cost of the survey shall be borne by the two States interested. Whichever ‘honorable senator is right, each should have an opportunity to place his views before honorable senators. Then there are other amendments which may be introduced in the event of a recommittal. Senator Zeal pointed out that two distinct lines have been spoken of by the engineers, and that expert opinion does not agree as to which is the best.
– The Minister of Defence, in introducing the Bill, admitted that two surveys would have to be made.
– The Minister said that in all probability there would have to be two surveys. The commission of engineers expressed the belief that one route was the best, but, when they had journeyed to the other end of the proposed line of route, they expressed themselves .as willing to fall in with the views of the authorities of South Australia, who favoured another route. I think that Senator Zeal is right in saying that the amount mentioned in the Bill is not nearly sufficient for a survey of the kind proposed. There has come into my possession a report by an engineer, who was employed by the Western Australian Government ; and it is only right that there should be an opportunity to place the fullest information before honorable senators. There ought to .be a decision as to whether South Australia is to say exactly which route shall1 be surveyed. I do not think that clause 2 should be recommitted ; but, at the same time, there are provisions which are absolutely necessary in order to protect the interests of the States other than of Western Australia and South Australia. The Government are here not only to do the best they can in the interests of South Australia or of Western Australia, but to protect the interests of each State of the Union. It is the dutv of the Government to ascertain whether the shorter and cheaper route should not be surveyed ; because, I take it, people desire to travel as economically as possible. If ever goods were carried over this line - though I do not suppose any ever will be - the rates would have to be as low as possible. One reason advanced against the Bill was so strong that even Senator Gray, who is in favour of the measure; - though I do not know whether he is in favour of the construction of the line - is prepared to vote for a recommittal in order that it may be made abundantly clear that the Commonwealth will not have to incur any further expenditure than that mentioned. Senator Symon said that he is perfectly satisfied with the Bill ; and I am not surprised, considering he represents the State in which a considerable portion of the money will be spent.
– The honorable senator does not suppose that that would influence my judgment?
– I am not saying whether the fact would or would not influence the honorable senator’s judgment. But the honorable senator, while he is prepared to allow ^5,000 or- ^6,000 to be spent ,on a survey from Port Augusta towards the border, is utterly opposed to anything further being done, because, in his opinion, the construction of the railway would be most disastrous to South Australia. I do not wish to impugn motives, but, under the circumstances, what conclusion can I come to, except that the honorable senator is in favour of Commonwealth money being spent in South Australia? I do not think that the Government of the State I represent would object to the Commonwealth spending from .£20,000 to £40,000 in similar work in the north. At the present time railways are being projected in Queensland ; and if we are anxious to spend large sums of money on railway surveys, I am quite sure that the Premier of the State would be perfectly willing to allow us to send surveyors over hundreds of miles of country.
– And indemnify the Commonwealth against damages.
– That is so; though 1 am not sure that the Queensland Government would be prepared to permit the con,struction of the lines when surveyed. Honorable senators from South Australia are in a similar position, because, while perfectly willing that a portion of this money should be spent within their State, they tell us that the State Parliament will never consent to the construction of the line. Senator Gray desires to have it definitely stated in the Bill that any liability over the £20,000 shall be borne by Western Australia. Is not that an eminently reasonable proposal? We have it on the authority of Sir John Forrest that Western Australia is in a position, not merely to survey, but to build her own line to the border if an agreement could be come to with- South Australia. If that be true, why should that State hesitate to guarantee any expenditure on this survey in excess of the £20,000 appropriated by the Bill ? It might be contended that we will have no further liability than that involved in this measure, but any one who has had experience of parliamentary life must know that that is all “ bunkum.” Times out of number specified amounts have been voted for certain works, .and before they have been half completed it has been discovered that it is impossible to carry them out for the money voted. In such cases the Executive authorities have accepted the responsibility of completing the work. The facilities which the survey party intrusted with the making of the survey to be authorized by this Bill will have to carry out the work cheaply, will depend upon the season in which their operations are conducted. They may possibly be able to complete it for the amount mentioned in the Bill, but if they are confronted with many difficulties - if thev have to look for water, or to carry it long distances - how far will the £20,000 go? If they are to examine the two routes which have been matters of contention between the experts whose services have been .availed of in connexion with this matter, there can be little doubt that £20.000 will not be sufficient to carry out the work. If, after the survey of ite route has cost £20,000, it has not been completed, I ask honorable senators who have had any experience of parliamentary life, whether the Government, in such a case, would be likely to say, “The survey party must be called back: their expenditure has reached the limit fixed by the Act. Everything connected with the survey must stop until Parliament meets, and we get authority for further expenditure to complete the work”? No body of men worthy to occupy the position of members of a Government would think of adopting such a course. In such cases, in every State in the Commonwealth, the State Government has assumed the responsibility of completing the work. In this case the Government would come to Parliament and say, “ You voted £20,000 for a certain work. As it progressed various obstacles were met with, and the work could not be completed without further expenditure. It was utterly impossible that in the middle of the survey of a railway route extending for 1,100 miles we should disband the survey party or order them to come back to Port Augusta and remain there until we got the authority of Parliament for the further expenditure necessary. Guided by the best professional advice, we placed the matter of the survey before you, and you approved of the proposal to spend £20,000 on it. We have discovered that it was impossible to carry out the work for that amount, and we have therefore incurred an additional liability of £10,000 or £20,000.” Senators Styles, Zeal, and Fraser, who have had experience in connexion with railway survey work and railway construction, believe that the proposed survey cannot be carried out for the amount mentioned in the Bill. I do not think that the most earnest advocate of the measure believes that it can be carried out for that amount. Suppose it costs £50,000, and the Government comes down next vear or the year afterwards and asks the Senate to vote £30,000 to complete the work which, we authorized the Government to commence? It will be in vain then for honorable senators to point to this Bill and claim that the Government had said that the expense involved would not be more than £20,000. The Government would say, “ The survey party had the misfortune to encounter adverse seasons. There was not the supply of water on the route which we were led to believe thev would find. Feed could not be obtained as was expected, and the party had to establish depots along the route.” Would any tody of men refuse to vote the additional sum required in such circumstances? If thev did the Government might say, “ We shall not carry on ; you must get another Government.” Every member of the Senate would find himself in such a position that he would have to be a party to voting for the expenditure of a sum of money very largely in excess of the amount he was prepared to commit himself to when the proposal was first under consideration. Senator Symon has told us that the Bill is perfectly satisfactory to himself. We can easily understand that the honorable and learned senator would prefer that £40,000 should be spent in South Australia rather than £8,000 or £10,000.
– I think they will manage to get as nearly half the amount as possible.
– I have an .idea that they will get, not only half of-the amount proposed to be appropriated by this Bill, but half of what we shall have rendered ourselves liable for if we pass the measure. It is for this reason I consider Senator Gray’s suggestion an eminently reasonable one. Senator Pulsford may be prepared to commit New South Wales to her share of a total expenditure of £20,000 for this purpose, but the honorable senator will agree that that must be the limit to which he will be asked to pledge the finances of his State. I am not prepared to do anything which will pledge Queensland to defray any portion of this expenditure, but if the majority of honorable senators say that it is a fair thing that all the States should bear their proportion of the expenditure;, I claim that the State from which I come should not be liable to pay more than double what she might be pledged to by the amount the Senate, is called upon to vote for this purpose. Senator Gray, who is strongly in favour of the Bill, is prepared to vote for the recommittal of the measure because he sees this danger. He asked Senator Symon if he would be prepared to do what is here proposed with his own money. I can answer for the honorable and learned senator that he would not. I do not believe that there is a member of the Senate who would be prepared to put down 20s. of his own money in- connexion with this venture. Some honorable senators are, however, prepared to vote public money in connexion with it. I think it is the duty of every man- who is elected to a responsible position in connexion with local, State, or Federal government, to be just as careful of the expenditure of public money as he is of his own. We might be assuming a far greater liability in this matter than has yet been suggested. If the Bill is recommitted we might be able to introduce a clause fixing the gauge of the proposed railway, or instructing the surveyors to make a survey for a line of a certain gauge. There is a great difference between the work which must be done by surveyors in the survey of a route for a 4 ft. 8J in. railway as compared with the work which would be necessary in the survey of a route for a 2 -ft. railway. We have had considerable experience in thismatter in Queensland. In many places in. that State it has been recognised that for reasons of economy it was not advisable toconstruct even the narrow-gauge railway generally adopted in that State. Surveyors sent out to survey a line between, two given points have reported that if the Government were satisfied with a line of a narrower gauge than the ordinary 3 ft. 6 in. gauge adopted in the State a very considerable saving might be effected. Isit not necessary in this case that we should tell the surveyors exactly what Parliament wants? Should they be allowed to goaway and survey a route for a railway of any gauge they might think useful, and’ then report that if it were decided to construct the line on a narrower gauge a different route altogether should be followed?1 I take it that every one of us should do all he cao to protect the interests of the States that we represent, whilst at thesame time being fair to the other Statesthat form this Union. We can best pursuethat policy by giving honorable senatorsan opportunity to put their propositions before the Committee in a concrete form. For that reason, and because I wish to have an opportunity to express a definite opinion upon these matters, when submitted to the Committee in a concrete shape, I propose to vote for Senator Millen’samendment.
– I presume that I shall have an opportunity to reply before the amendment is put?
– I do not think so. The ordinary rule is that an amendment isput before the mover of a motion replies.
– If I ask leave towithdraw my motion, shall I be in order in moving another ?
– No. The honorable senator having moved a motion cannot move an amendment upon it himself.
– Is not the motionbefore the Senate one for the third reading of the Bill? Did I not move that?
– If the Minister looks up standing order 207 he will findthat it provides that -
On the Order of the Day for the third reading being put by the ‘Clerk, and before themotion is carried “ That this Bill be now read1 a third time,” the Bill may on motion be recommitted.
It has been the practice of the Senate that a motion to recommit a Bill supersedes the original motion for the third reading. If the standing order had used the word “ amendment,” Senator Playford would have been right. But it uses the word “motion.” The practice has been, in accordance with that standing order, that a motion has been made, and then, as in this case, an honorable senator has submitted a motion to recommit the Bill. On Senator Clemons’ motion, an amendment has been moved by Senator Millen.
– May I ask another question? At what stage shall I have the right to reply?
– When all amendments have been disposed of, and the motion, as amended, if it be amended, becomes a substantive motion.
.- I desire to mention two or three facts relating to railway surveying in Victoria,, which I should like honorable senators to think -over. When I was a member of the State Parliament, a. return was, on my motion, ordered to be laid on the table relating to the cost of railway surveys in this State. It referred only to surveys for lines, none of which have been constructed. It showed that 7,400 miles of survey had been made of various kinds, the great bulk of them being flying surveys. The cost of them amounted to £260,000. That comes to about £35 per mile. I do not mean to saythat the survey of railways in some parts of Victoria would not cost more than would tfr; survey of the line now under consideration, because the country in some parts of Victoria is mountainous. But, on the other hand, surveyors in this State would have no difficulty in obtaining supplies. There would be plenty of wood and water, and plenty of food ready to hand. The whole of the £260,000 spent on these surveys in Victoria has been absolutely wasted. But there is an even more serious aspect of the question. As soon as we begin to make this survey, we shall have launched a railway policy for the Commonwealth:.
– The honorable senator himself launched that policy in moving that the State railways be taken over by the Commonwealth.
– I submitted that motion after a Bill for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway had been before the Senate. Suppose that the survey is made and that the Commonwealth Parliament thinks it desirable to construct the line. Then I want to know what authority is to work the railway. That opens up a very big question, the answer to which, to my mind, is absolutely fatal to the project. The railway cannot be h’anded over to two States to manage after the Commonwealth has built it. It would have to be worked by the Commonwealth.
– We will make the honorable senator Commissioner for its management.
– Then I will put. the honorable senator into a position as greaser on the line. I am dealing with the weak spot of the whole scheme. I cannot conceive that the Commonwealth could hand the line over to the States of South Australia and Western Australia to manage. Indeed, I doubt whether it would be constitutional to do so. Are we, then, to form a Commonwealth Railway Department of our own to work 1,100 miles of non-paying railway line ? That is what we should have to do. The first thing necessary is to decide upon the gauge to be used. I have pointed out on two or three occasions that that should be definitely settled before anything is done.
– We are considering whether the Bill’ should be recommitted for the purpose of considering an amendment.
– I am giving reasons why the Bill should be recommitted. It seems to me to be a reason for recommitting it that an important consideration has been overlooked.
– That might be a reason for rejecting the Bill.
– That is what the honorable senator wants.
– I do not disguise that for a moment. I submit with every confidence that we ought to determine what authority is to work the line if it is to be constructed, and that we ought to have a definite understanding about the gauge. There appears to be an idea in Western Australia that South Australia desires the gauge to be 3 ft. 6 in. If it is to be a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge, there will be no gauge like it in any part of South Australia. South Australia has built 600 or 700 miles of railway connected with Port Augusta on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. If 4 ft. 8 in. is to be the gauge, is it contemplated that the Commonwealth shall establish workshops, equipment, and all the appurtenances necessary to work a piece of railway 1,100 miles long, isolated by reason of its gauge from the rest of the railways of the Commonwealth? I submit these points with all seriousness. We could not hand over the railway to the States to manage, and surely no man outside a lunatic asylum would ever think of the Commonwealth working a railway of that kind by itself. Even if there were a chance of its becoming a paying line under other circumstances, it would not pay if worked by the Commonwealth, for the simplereason that the working expenses would be so enormous.
– I ask permission to withdraw my amendment, as I understand that another amendment which is likely to be more acceptable to the Senate will be proposed.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the following words be added : - “ for the purpose of reconsidering clause 3, and, if thought fit, adding the following proviso : -
Provided that no additional cost beyond the said £20,000 shall be incurred without the authority of a special Act.’”
During the discussion it has been urged,I think, very forcibly, by the Minister of Defence, that no Government could incur additional expenditure without the authority of Parliament. But we all know from practical experience elsewhere that frequently Governments have taken that course and afterwards asked Parliament to indemnify their act. Frequently, out of the Treasurer’s advance vote, or by special warrant, the Government have spent money on projects and in other ways of which Parliament undoubtedly would not have approved if it had been consulted. But inasmuch as the money had been expended without its authority, the Parliament really had no remedy. The Government could come down and practically put a pistol at its head and say, “ Now that we have incurred the expenditure it must be approved.” The only way in which the Parliament could express its dissatisfaction with the Government was by throwing them out of office; but at the same time, the money would have to be voted, because it had already been spent. It is necessary, I think, to recommit this Bill for the purpose of adding a proviso to clause 3.
.- If the amendment of Senator Givens were adopted, sir, would it then be competent for an honorable senator in Committee to move any other amendment in clause 3?
– No. The Committee would have only a delegated power, and that is to consider a specific matter.
– Clause 3 reads as follows: -
The cost of the survey authorized by this Act shall not exceed £20,000, and shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly.
I gather from the clause as it stands that if it were found necessary by the Government to increase the expenditure on the survey the additional cost would first be authorized by a special Act of Parliament. I understand that the object of the amendment is to make it perfectly clear that the Ministry shall not exceed the expenditure of that sum by one penny without first getting the authority of both Houses of Parliament in a special Bill, and not in an Appropriation Bill. I believe that it would be wrong for a Government to glace an item on the Estimates for that purpose. Believing that if in ordinary circumstances the vote of £20,000 were found not to be sufficient the Government would ask the Parliament to vote additional money in a special Act. I have not the slightest objection to the amendment of Senator Givens, and therefore I shall support a recommittal of the Bill for that purpose.
.- I desire to say a few words in reference to the amendment. I intend to accept it, because I cannot get anything else. It does not, however, represent anything like the amendment which I think ought to be made.
– It is only the irreducible minimum.
– It has reached such infinitesimal proportions that it is hardly discernable, but, still, it may be carried. At any rate, I agree with what Senator Playford said as to the effect it would have, but I entirely disagree with him as to what might otherwise have been done. The amendment would secure this result: That after the vote of £20,000 had been spent we should not be asked in an Appropriation Bill to vote an additional sum of £10,000 or £20,000. Probably, the course which would be adopted by a Government if the amendment were not made would be to incur an additional expenditure of, say, ?10,000 or ?20,000 in recess, and afterwards to ask Parliament to ratify their act because the money had been spent on a laudable object. In such a case, I could imagine Senator Playford saying, “ Why should you refuse to vote that money ? Look at the position we were in! The Parliament authorized us to spend ?20,000, and when we had spent the money we found that it was not sufficient. The whole expenditure would have been absolutely wasted unless we had continued the survey. What were the Government to do under the circumstances? Thev went on with the work, and surely the Parliament will not go back upon us.”
– They will go on with the survey notwithstanding the enactment of this amendment.
– The amendment, if enacted, would operate as a check and safeguard, and I am very glad to see that it is regarded in that light by Senator Playford. As I have been blamed for saying nothing when I moved the motion foi a recommittal, I do not intend to delay the proceedings any longer.
– I regret that a recommittal is being asked for, because it is not the desire of the representatives of Western Australia, or, I believe, the desire of the Senate, that more than ?20,000 should be spent on an investigation. A recommittal of the Bill would undoubtedly mean delay.
– No; I shall move the suspension of the Standing Orders to hasten the passage of the Bill.
– The discussion of the amendment would undoubtedly cause delay.
– No; we shall not discuss it.
– It should be borne in mind that not more than ?20,000 could be spent unless the Senate, at a subsequent stage, agreed to the expenditure of a further sum, either in the Appropriation Bill or in a special Bill.
– We could not refuse when the Bill was presented.
– I do not think it is necessary to make the amendment. I am sorry that the Bill is to be recommitted in order to put in a limitation that an Act of Parliament shall be required to be passed if more than ?20,000 is to be spent, because it will commit a future Parliament, which, I think, should not be done.
.- I am sorry that the Bill Kas gone so far. I am quite certain that a vote of ?20,000 will not be sufficient to make the survey. I also feel fairly certain that a lot more money will have to be expended and voted.
– Not without the consent of Parliament !
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.16]. - I think that the Minister of Defence has adopted a very wise course, because, whilst I agree with him that, in all probability - I cannot say for certain - a special Bill would be introduced in the event of any further money being required to constitute the survey, it is well to make it clear that the Parliament expects to hav? an opportunity, by means of a special Bill, to express its opinion one way or the other. I am glad the Minister has agreed to a recommittal with a view to adding the proviso. If the Minister had not so agreed, I should have felt myself bound to support the recommittal with that object in view, because the proposed amendment is one which may be beneficially made in the Bill without in any way imperilling its passage.
– I desire to know -whether it will, be possibles, after (the Bill is recommitted, to amend the proposed addition, or whether we must accept it as it stands ; that is, whether it will be in order to move an amendment on the amendment?
– The honorable senator will see that the Committee has only a delegated power. It is proposed to delegate to the Committee the power to consider, and, if the Committee thinks fit, to add a certain proviso; and the Committee will be confined to the power which has been remitted to it. I do not say that this is at all an ordinary method of procedure, but I can see nothing to prevent the Senate adopting this method if it so desires.
– There is a standing order which says that any motion may be debated and amended.
– If the Committee has only a certain power delegated to it, the ‘Committee cannot go beyond that power.
– I understand the ruling to be that when the Senate goes into
Committee we cannot consider anything but what is specified in the motion now before us?
– That is whatI understand.
– That being so, what I have to say had better be said now. Senator Clemons says that the motion does not represent all that he desires ; but, since it represents all that it is possible to obtain, he is prepared to accept it. In my opinion, the Government are giving away nothing by conceding this proposal. We know perfectly well what will happen. The Government will spend whatever sum over £20,000 they may consider necessary, and will then come down with a special Bill authorizing the additional expenditure. The money having been spent,. Parliament will be in such a position that it will be able to do nothing but pass the Bill.
– No Government would dare to spend additional money under the circumstances.
– We know perfectly well how these matters are managed. I suggest that it would be an improvement if the word “ first “ were inserted, so as to provide that no additional expenditure shall be incurred without a Bill having first been passed by both Houses of Parliament. Government after Government promise that certain moneys shall not be expended without the consent of Parliament - that is an ordinary every-day occurrence in all Parliaments - but the undertaking is never observed in reality. Unless some additional safeguard is provided, I am sure the present Government will act in a similar fashion, and I suggest that the word “ first” should be inserted.
– The Minister can have no objection, because that is really what is meant.
– I ask leave to amend my proposed amendment in. the direction indicated by Senator Stewart, that is, by inserting the word “ first “ after the word “ without.”
– I have no objection.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Second Recommittal) :
Clause 3 -
The cost of the survey authorized by this Act shall not exceed Twenty thousand pounds, and shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that no additional cost beyond the said £20,000 shall be incurred without first obtaining the authority of a special Act.”
I do not propose to debate this amendment, because in speaking to the proposal for the recommittal of the Bill I gave my reasons why I thought such an amendment desirable. I content myself with formally moving it, and I believe the Committee will be ready to accept it without further debate or delay.
.- The amendment places me in a. very unpleasant position, and before I can vote for it I must ask the Minister of Defence a question. My principal objection to the whole scheme from the first moment I heard of it is the absolute injustice and unfairness of treating this railway as a Commonwealth matter.
– We have heard all that before.
– And the honorable senator will hear it again and again. Western Australia does not treat the matter in that light. She has admitted from the beginning that it was a State matter. She has offered to guarantee any loss on the working of the line for the first ten years, and has done many things to show that the principle implied in this Bill, that the railway is a Commonwealth matter, is not the true principle. I ask the Minister now whether he is prepared to accept a proviso that nothing in the Bill shall be taken to justify the assumption that this is a solely Commonwealth matter? If the Minister will not consent to that, will he, as being responsible for the Bill in the Senate, state that, so far as he is concerned and knows, it will not be taken to make it a Commonwealth matter? One honorable senator desired that this should be called an “ Exploration “ Bill, and it was pointed out that we had no right to explore two States. We know that it is a Bill chiefly intended to enable us to obtain information, to search the proposed route to see if a water supply can be found, to discover what it will cost, and whether it will pay to construct the proposed railway. Honorable senators have agreed to vote , £20,000 of the Commonwealth money for this purpose, but I have bean given no opportunity to submit an amendment under which the two States concerned would have to find the money, or to submit the proposal I made that the Commonwealth and the two States concerned should each bear a third of the cost. I admit that to some extent that would perhaps imply that if the railway were to be constructed the Commonwealth and the two States concerned should each bear a third of the cost of construction and of theloss on the first year’s working. My difficulty is that this Bill can be pointed to for all time as evidence of the fact that in1906 the Commonwealth Parliament regarded this solely as a Commonwealth matter. Senator Playford should say whether he thinks that the Bill can be so regarded.
– I have been trying to ascertain in what way the honorable senator proposes to connect these remarks with the amendment.
– I feel great difficulty in voting for the amendment, because I want to learn how the Minister views the difficulties I have raised.
– The honorable senator has no right to discuss those difficulties on the amendment.
– I think I have. The amendment satisfies some honorable senators because it will bring the matter to an issue earlier than would otherwise have been the case. But it accentuates my difficulty, because it will provide that if £20,000is not enough for the purpose, the Government have only to ask for more money by means of a special Act, and it will be provided.
– If the amendment were not inserted the new Parliament would be able to do it in spite of honorable senators. Nothing Senator Dobson can do would bind the new Parliament.
– I object to put before the new Parliament this evidence that we have regarded this as a Commonwealth matter. To emphasize the Federal spirit, which seems to me to be so absent from honorable senators who represent Western Australia, I may say that I have from the first admitted that this is partly a Commonwealth matter, and I am perfectly willing that the Commonwealth should bear a fair share of the cost of construction.
– We are not dealing with the cost of construction. Why should the Commonwealth be committed to that?
– We are not dealing with it now, but we shall be dealing with it hereafter. Senator Symon knows the inception of this business quite as well or better than I do, and he is aware that this measure has its foundation in the fact that honorable senators from Western Australia will regard it as a breach of faith if the Commonwealth does not construct the proposed line.
– The honorable senator must see that his remarks are not relevant to the question.
– I have the greatest respect for your ruling, sir, and will not continue my remarks, especially as I shall have an opportunity to speak on the third reading of the Bill. Let me say one word more to the Minister of Defence. I still advise the honorable senator, as I did before, to tell the Prime Minister that if1s. is spent under this Bill, he and his Ministry will have their political honour tarnished.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [5.40]. - I object to the adoption of the clause in its present form, although I understand it is not competent for me now to move to amend it. I feel justified in saying a word or two in pursuance of the arguments advanced by Senator Dobson. In common with the honorable and learned senator, I submit that if this clause is passed in its present form, it will be an elaborate legislative indorsement of the contention of honorable senators from Western Australia, who have sought to propound and enforce a bargain for the building of this railroad by the Federal power. The proposition is too serious to be passed over so lightly, as there appears to be some disposition to do, perhaps because honorable senators have naturally exhausted themselves to some extent with the long debate to-day. In that debate I did not occupy more than three or four minutes, and I do not intend at this stage to speak at any length. I rise to indorse the serious attitude assumed by Senator Dobson, and to maintain the proposition which he has laid down, and which I also have endeavoured to enunciate.
.- Do I understand that the Minister is not going to take any action in connexion with the amendment which Senator Millen desired to make?
– The Committee can only consider the matter referred to it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill from being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
A week ago it was an understood thing that we should divide upon this Bill to-day. I allowed it to go into Committee on the understanding that the third reading would be taken to-day.
– - The Minister put forward as a justification for his motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders that there was an understanding that the Bill should be read a third time to-day.
– I told the Senate that I would move the suspension of the Standing Orders to-day.
– There was no such understanding. The compact was that the third reading should be set down for today, and honorable senators were to have an absolutely free hand to do what they pleased in the matter. That was the understanding, and there was no bargain or compact whatever that the third reading should be carried to-day. The Minister is quite within his rights in, moving the suspension of the Standing Orders for the purpose indicated, but honorable senators who object to the course proposed will also be quite within their rights in stating their objection. I object, and I intend to call for a division upon- the motion.
.- This is not a Bill that ought to be rushed through by suspending the Standing Orders, adopting the report, and agreeing to the third reading at one time. I wish to ask my honorable friend, Senator Playford, as a Minister sitting with his legal colleague at his elbow, whether he thinks it right to pass a Bill of this kind without such a clause in it as it certainly ought to contain? No one can tell whether any landowner who is injured bv the survey party will be able to obtain compensation. Either the provisions of the Property Acquisition Act ought to be incorporated with this Bill, or both the States of Western Australia and South Australia ought to insure that any person who’ is injured shall be in a position to obtain redress. The omission Qf such a provision shows the folly of what we are doing. Will it be said that if the Commonwealth survey party injures any one, South Australia will pay the piper ?
– Are not these arguments against the Bill?
– They are objections to the suspension of the Standing Orders for the purpose of expediting the Bill. I protest against the suspension of the Standing Orders, and deny that any arrangement was made for taking the third reading to-day.
– I told the Senate to-day that I should move my contingent notice of motion with regard to the suspension of the Standing Orders.
. - I submit that it is not desirable to push this Bill to a conclusion to-night. The Senate is getting utterly tired of sitting from half-past 10 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock at night, and the procedure proposed by the Minister will make it more tired! I do not contemplate with any sort of pleasure being switched off from the Desert Railway proposal to the Excise Bill, but, at any rate, it would be a change. There is no real reason why the third reading of the Bill should be taken to-night.
– Honorable senators have all made up their minds, and there is no reason why we should not take the division, and get the Bill removed from the notice-paper.
– I point out that, even if the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders is carried, it will not get the Bill off the notice-paper.
– But I shall ask my friends to sit all night, or until the Bill is passed. I frankly say that.
– Then it practically..means that if the Standing Orders are suspended, we shall be kept here all night?
– Not necessarily - let us take a division !
– I do not think that that is a fair way of treating the Senate.
– If we do not dispose of the Bill to-night, the whole, of tomorrow will be wasted upon it.
– I do not think so by any means. If the third reading were taken in the ordinary course without suspending Bie Standing Orders, we should avoid an all night sitting. We could proceed this evening with whatever measure the Government chose to put before us, and could do good work upon it. But I am satisfied that we shall do bad work if we have to sit all night upon this Bill.
– The Minister himself is responsible for half the delay to-day.
– He is; and I urge him not to be responsible for any further delay to-night. If he makes us sit all night I say distinctly that he will largely imperil the chance of getting through such work for the rest of the session as he wants to do.
– There is too much threatening about the honorable senator. He is always threatening.
– I have not the idea of a threat in my mind. If I wanted to threaten, I could make my meaning quite plain. But I say that the inevitable result of an allnight sitting will, in mv opinion, be that the Governmnent will have a difficulty in getting through work which many of us would like to see disposed of. Why not, therefore, take the third reading of the Bill to-morrow?
– If honorable senators opposite could talk all to-night upon the Bill they could talk all to-morrow upon it also.
– That is the sort of remark which the. Minister ought not to make. I have not the slightest intention of talking all to-night or all to-morrow upon the Bill.
– But the honorable senator cannot give an. assurance as to what other honorable senators will do.
– No one can do that. But I can point lo the fact that up to the present I have occupied very little time upon this measure. Although it has been before the Senate three times, the amount of time that I have occupied upon it is not great. I am prepared to give a promise so far as I am concerned.
– If the honorable senator can tell me that if the third reading is set down for to-morrow it will be disposed of before 1 o’clcok p.m., I will agree that it shall not be dealt with tonight.
– Much as I should like to say many things about the proposed railway. I will undertake that if the motion is set down for to-morrow I will not speak for more than twenty minutes upon it. I give that undertaking on my own account.
– If thirty-six senators spoke twenty minutes each it would represent a great deal of time.
– I have given a very fair promise, and I will go further and say that I will do my utmost’ to enable the division to be taken by 1 o’clock to-morrow.
– But the honorable senator is powerless to carry it out. He cannot bind Senator Dobson, for instance.
– I think Senator Dobson will give, a similar undertaking on his own behalf.
– I want to have twenty minutes upon the Bill.
– Is not the Minister encouraged now?
– Why should we not have the debate to-night?
– Twenty minutes tomorrow or two hours to-night !
– If there is a general feeling amongst honorable senators in favour of taking the division before 1 o’clock to-morrow I shall be pleased to agree to what is suggested ; but will thev help me to have the division taken by r o’clock to-morrow?
– Personally leannot dc more than I have done.
– Will Senator Millen agree that the division ‘shall be taken by 1 o’clock to-morrow?
– What does Senator Givens say ?
– This matter ought not to be submitted to a kind of Dutch auction.
– I can assure Senator Playford that he will get on with business much better if he does not insist upon the Bill being read a third time to-night.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.58]. - I think that my honorable friend the Minister of Defence might very well be content to have the report upon the Bill adopted at once, and the* third reading put down for to-morrow. He has obtained an assurance that those who have been most active in opposition to the Bill will assist the Government to come to a vote upon it by 1 o’clock to-morrow. Personally, if I have any influence, I shall exert it in the same direction. I shall be no party to sanctioning undue delay upon the measure. I accept the assurance that my honorable friends have given; and, further than that, so far as I am personally concerned, if I am not able to be present when the third reading is taken, I shall be paired. I make that an express stipulation. I think it is only a fair thing that on a Bill of this description, upon which, there has been so much debate from all sides, the wishes of the Senate should be considered.
– Can the honorable senator get a pair?
– I shall bo here to-morrow until 1 o’clock.
– The opponents of the Bill may talk after 1 o’clock.
– Rather than that should happen I will myself give a pair to Senator Symon.
– I at once accept that assurance.
– Having said that his State would not agree to what is proposed, does Senator Symon think that he ought to vote upon the third reading of the Bill?
– I am going to vote for it.
– It is a very serious thing for him to do.
– I am very much obliged to my honorable friend for the solemn warning he has given to me..
But I am quite prepared, the matter having reached the present stage, to vote for the third reading, especially as two years ago I myself introduced a similar Bill. I do not propose, the Bill having reached this stage, to go away before the thirdreading division is taken on the understanding that every effort will be made to close the debate by 1 o’clock to-morrow. I at once accept the assurance of the Minister that every effort will be made to conclude at one o’clock. But I should very much prefer to have an opportunity of dealing with the Excise Tariff Bill to-night, if possible, and from that point of view, I am glad that he has taken a stand which I think will tend to expedite business.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether Senator Givens has given to him a promise not to keep us debating this Bill to-morrow ?
– If the honorable senator will wait patiently he will hear from me.
– As I understand that Senator Givens has not given a promise to that effect, I hope that the Minister will insist upon taking the third reading of the Bill to-night. We are quite willing to wait if some honorable senators should wish to speak for four or eight hours. Unless the Minister gets a promise of the kind T indicate I suggest that he should stick to his guns.
– If such threats are going to be made I shall withdraw my promise.
.- A short time ago the Minister of Defence asked me if I was prepared to promise that, so far as .1 am concerned, the Bill would be allowed to go through the Senate by 1 o’clock to-morrow. For two reasons I am not prepared to give a promise of the kind. In th’e first place if I desired to speak to the Bill I might be deprived of the opportunity to speak before that hour had arrived through the time having been taken up by honorable senators. In the second place, I refuse to give the promise to the Minister, because when I was speaking on a certain phase of the matter a night or two ago he very coolly told me that he took na notice of me. t take no notice of him now.
– No; I did not say that.
– I ask the Senate to accept my assurance that, in taking up an attitude of hostility to the suspension of the Standing Orders, my action is not directed specially against this Bill. All along I have strongly objected to any departure being taken from the ordinary beaten track. It was for that reason alone that I urged the Minister to follow the ordinary course. The Standing Orders should only be suspended when it is absolutely imperative. On the present occasion there is no emergency. Even if the session were to close at the end of the week there would be no necessity to suspend the Standing Orders in order to take the third reading of the Bill to-night. There is ample business to keep us occupied until even the late hour to which Senator Walker seems to desire to stay. We ought not to get into the loose habit of suspending the Standing Orders in this way.
– I only want to advance the Bill to the third-reading stage.
– The interjection shows that even the Minister recognises that it is not desirable to get into the general habit of suspending the Standing Orders.
– I have not done so in the case of any Bill this session.
– During the present session the Standing Ordershave often been suspended, and I ask the honorable senator not to take that course now.
– I only want to get the report adopted to-night.
– I do not wish to be placed in a false position to-morrow. There appears to have been a kind of undertaking given by Senator Clemons.
– Only for myself.
– If it were not repudiated now, it might be implied that honorable senators were in some way bound by the undertaking. Ordinarily, I would not assist to delay the proceedings of the Senate. If I were satisfied that a majority of the Senate desired to pass the Bill and that it would have their sympathy as well as their votes, I should be willing to let it go, but, not holding that opinion, I believe it is quite right to take any constitutional means possible to prevent its passage.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that Senator Mulcahy has passed a reflection upon the votes of cer tain senators in saying that if the Bill were to be passed with their sympathy as well as their votes he would have no objection to offer to its passage. I object to the remark as a reflection upon the supporters of the Bill, and I askfor its withdrawal.
– Undoubtedly, according to a standing order, no honorable senator may reflect on a vote of the Senate. If Senator Mulcahy intended to assert that honorable senators have voted improperlythat is, contrary to their convictions - undoubtedly it was a reflection upon their conduct. I do not think that he should make such a reflection.
– I am afraid, sir, that I cannot withdraw the expression of my opinion without being absolutely dishonest. I heard a representative of South Australia say that he would regard the construction of the railway as being absolutely disastrous to the best interests of his State, and yet he voted for it.
– The honorable senator is not discussing the question of suspending the Standing Orders.
– I am not bound by anv promise which Senator Clemons may have given. I shall conceive it to be my duty to take every constitutional means I can to prevent the passing of the Bill - of course, without transgressing the rules of the Senate.
– I have no desire to see the Bill passed through its final stage this evening. If I thought that there was tobe no attempt at trickery, and to take a snatch vote, I should not care if the division were not taken this week, provided that it was taken before the end of the session. What has been the course of the debate so far? Has there been any attemptto get an honest vote of the Senate, or to get an honest pairingof absent senators who wished to vote in a certain direction? If, as I have said, there is to be no attempt at such trickery as taking advantage of honorable senators who may be absent, I am quite prepared to allow the final stage of the Bill to stand over to any day in this week, or, for that matter, in next week. But I want to have an understanding that there is to be no trickery - that the thing is to be done fa irly and squarely.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should, by implication, accuse other honorable senators of trickery.
– I am not charging any one with trickery, but I want an honest understanding. I am expressing my conviction when I say that there has been every attempt made to prevent pairs from being given in order to prevent an honest reflex of the opinion of the Senate being given.
– I have already told the honorable senator that he ought not to imply that he is honest and the other senators are not honest. That is not a proper implication to be made.
– I recognise, sir, that a number of implications have been made which should not have been made.
– The honorable senator is not in order.
– I ask, sir, that the implication to which you have alluded should be withdrawn.
– Undoubtedly, the honorable senator ought to withdraw the implication that other honorable senators have acted dishonestly and with trickery.
– I desire to know what I am asked to withdraw?
– The honorable senator stated, so far as I could hear him, that other honorable senators had acted dishonestly and with trickery.
– No ; he did not say that.
– That is what I heard.
– What I said was that there was no honest attempt made to get an honest vote of the Senate, and that every effort was made to prevent pairs from being given.
– There is no obligation upon honorable senators to give pairs, therefore there is no dishonesty or trickery. Pairs are not recognised by the Senate. The honorable senator really ought to moderate his language.
– Perhaps Senator de Largie will allow me to say a word or two.
– You, sir, called upon Senator de Largie to withdraw an implication. Is the incident going to be passed over in this way?
– Perhaps I did not hear the honorable senator correctly. It has been stated by several honorable senators, by interjection, that he did not say what I thought he said. I understand from his explanation that he said that there was no honest attempt made to obtain an honest vote, and that honorable senators had been guilty of trickery. Is that what he said?
– What I said was that I do not care whether a vote be taken to-night or to-morrow, or any day next week, provided that when it is taken, an honest attempt is made to get an honest vote of the Senate, and that no trickery is practised in the matter of pairs, or anything of that kind.
– The honorable senator was only expressing a pious hope as to the future.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [6.14]. - I desire to make a suggestion for the consideration of the Minister. Undoubtedly there is a certain amount of tired feeling amongst honorable senators, and that I know from long experience often leads to some degree of hysteria in the small hours. I ask the Minister to consider whether, if the Bill is forced through the third-reading stage to-night, we may not run the risk of having something which will be described as “ a scene in the Senate?” I hope that the Standing Orders will be suspended only for the purpose of adopting the report, which ought to be done without any debate, and that the third reading will be postponed until to-morrow, so that we can proceed with other business without any detriment to our tempers.
SenatorPLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence) [6.15]. - I do not think that there is the slightest fear of a scene arising. During its existence, such a thing has been practically unknown in the Senate.
– If I could tell the Minister what I thought of him, there would be a scene here.
– No doubt if the honorable senator got nasty, and said unpleasant things, he might find himself sprawling upon the floor, and then there would be a scene, I suppose.
– We had a scene over this Bill two or three years ago.
– I wish the Minister to understand that, in view of what has been said, I withdraw from the arrangement I made just now.
– Then I suppose we shall have to go on. I am sorry, because I am quite willing to agree to what my honorable friends on the other side have suggested. I am quite willing to run the risk of the discussion being prolonged beyond even one o’clock, but if Senator Millen saysthat he withdraws, then, of course, we must go on all night.
– Does the Minister’s reply debar other honorable senators from speaking?
– Yes, the Minister’s reply finishes the debate.
– Would it not be better to divide the motion into two parts - that is, to suspend the Standing Orders so far as regards the adoption of the report, and then leave it open to the Minister to move the suspension of the Standing Orders in regard to the third reading? That would give a little time for consideration.
– What we are going to do-
– This is altogether irregular.
– This is very irregular, and we are only getting into confusion. I appeal to you, Mr. President, to say that we ought to obey the Standing Orders.
– By leave of the Senate, Senator Playford could amend his motion, but if no request to that effect is made, I must put the question.
– I must go on, Senator Millen having refused to abide by the understanding.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority …… 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [6.20]. - There are many objections to the adoption of the report to-day. Full discussion is desirable in view of the question of public policy which is involved. We have heard a great deal about the monetary aspect of the Bill, but that, large as it is, is really the smallest. The State which I represent will have to contribute about one-third of the expenditure, and Victoria nearly one-third, the remainder being supplied by the other States. The “golden State” of which we have heard so much, is now the mendicant State, appealing for funds for a survey of its own territory. That is a melancholy position for a State which has been preening itself on having provided a livelihood for its poor relations in the east. We have been deluged and nauseated with statements about the large sums of money which Western Australian workers have sent to their poor friends in Victoria and elsewhere ; but now we find Western Australia appealing to the other States to pay for the proposed survey. I do not know whether it has reached the ears of every honorable senator, but it should be known, even at this late stage, that underlying the application for this survey, there are some very large mining interests - that this survey is to open up the country for boomster syndicates. I do not know whether that accounts for the inordinate anxiety to get this measure passed. Senator Walker was the first to suggest the mineral wealth of this howling desert - this place, where a wheelbarrow cannot be left out at night, because, before morning, it is lost in the drifting sand, and where a shovel, if allowed to lie, cannot be found at the end of five minutes. That is the actual experience related by gentlemen who had contracts for making dams which have never been filled with water, and which cost a good many of their namesakes. I remember Senator Walker saying that one of the objects this proposed survey would achieve would be the discovery of great mineral wealth. As that statement is by a gentleman of such a conservative disposition as Senator Walker, I can only suppose that he never devised the idea himself, but must have been, unconsciously perhaps, voicing what he has heard in the monetary world with which he is so closely connected. Had the matter rested there I should not have mentioned it, but we know what certain supporters of the measure in Western Australia are after. As soon as a survey peg is driven, and the surveyors move on, close at their heels will be the man, with the pick and the shovel and the dry-blower. There have been a great many dry-blowers here to-day on behalf of the railway, and I suppose we shall have a lot more before breakfast-time to-morrow morning. We are asked to take money out of the pockets of the people in the interests of a single State, and in the interests of mining speculators. As, for the South Australian people, they are of opinion that if a transcontinental line were built, their extensive docks, provided at an expenditure of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, will be rendered useless, owing to the mail steamers’ stopping at Fremantle - that interesting little hole in which a vessel cannot lie with any degree of safety, even at her moorings. There has actually been erected a paling fence to ward off the gales from the Indian Ocean, and when I first saw that fence, I wondered what sort of creepers it was proposed to grow over it. I was informed that it was intended, not to brighten the melancholy aspect of the beaten rocks, driven sand, and shallow waters’, but to keep vessels from being blown from their moorings. I understand that a little time before that fence was erected a Yankee captain, on being asked to give a description of Fremantle, answered, .” It is a jetty in the Indian Ocean sheltered by the Cape of Good Hope.” That is the interesting spot which the Western Australian Government wish to make the point of the arrival and departure of all our great lines of steamers.
They came back by the skin of their teeth if ever a set of unfortunates did. We are told that if it had not been for a lucky shower or two the explorers of this country would have left their bones to whiten in it. The foster father of the Bill, Senator Pearce, a few weeks ago produced some samples of grass grown in the territory. I thank God that I am not a cow, if it would be necessary that I should live on such grass. I should say that the only possible use to which it could be put would be to weave it in order to make rabbit-proof fencing.
But I desired, and I still think it eminently desirable, that the Senate should have a proper appreciation of the large issues of public policy involved in our setting out to start a railway of our own from nowhere to nowhere.
Continent. We cannot build all these lines, but before agreeing to build any one of them we can examine them all, and see which will best serve the interests of the greatest number. That is the point I desired to make, and I had no intention to make a detailed reference to the other lines, their length, what they would cost, or the nature of the country through which they will pass. These are matters for investigation. We are, however, light-heartedly putting all our eggs into one little basket. How many lines of railway can we build if a demand is made for additional, lines? There is another point which must be considered in connexion with any project for railway construction. I am aware that this is not a proposal for the construction of a railway, but I say that we have no right to throw £20,000 away on this survey unless we follow it up by building the railway. If it is not intended to construct the line, we have no right to make the survey. We have no right to dip our hands into the taxpayers’ pockets for is. to make this survey because of some sentimental idea, or in order to provide opportunities for mining “ boodle.”” We know that the Commonwealth Parliament has plainly set its face against public borrowing. How are we to build a line of this sort without borrowed money ? Some of the very senators who clamour for this line are men who have set themselves against public borrowing with faces of flint. I have made no secret of this. I pointed it out when in Perth last May. I said that Western Australia clamoured for railway communication with the eastern States, and yet sent men to the Federal Parliament pledged against public borrowing. In the circumstances, I told the people there that if they got no railway they would have to thank themselves for it to some extent. We are absolutely against public borrowing by the Commonwealth, while we talk of building this railway. No, we are dodging that. We say that we are only going to spend £20,000 on a survey. How much could be done with that money were it spent in some other direction? It might be a very small sum, but I was not aware that the Senate was so crowded with plutocrats that £20,000 is of no more moment to them than 2s. 6d. is to me. However, it looks like it when honorable senators can light-heartedly agree to spend £20,000 on the survey of a line which they know we have no authority to construct.
Senator Styles. - £1,250.
.- I desire to protest against the refusal of the Minister of Defence to allow the third reading to be taken at half-past 10 o’clock to-morrow morning instead of to-night. My honorable friend looks particularly unhappy just now. During the whole time this Bill has been before us, he has been unhappy. I admit that the Bill is enough to make him and his colleagues feel uncomfortable. I should like to know what steps they are going to take if the Bill is passed? My honorable friend, Senator Neild, touched upon a matter of which I have not heard much lately, because our friends from Western Australia have very tactfully dropped it. I refer to the good feeling which ‘ought to exist between the citizens of the States of Australia. I should like to ask Senator Pearce and Senator Smith what kind of good feeling they expect from Tasmania if they. bv their majority - obtained in a manner which I will not attempt to describe - succeed m passing this Bill, and thereby obtain a contribution from my little State to help to establish their State’s railway? Every other State of the Commonwealth has built its own railways. Look at the selfishness and unfairness of the whole proposal. Owing to the Federal Tariff, which does not produce nearly the amount of revenue that the Tasmanian Tariff formerly did, my State has absolutely lost £1.000,000. That is to say, the Federal Tariff has failed to take from our people that amount of money. It may be said that they still have the money in their pockets, but the Tasmanian Treasury has lost it, and has had to compel the people to make sacrifices in other directions. Tasmania has had to deprive the farmers of roads over which to carry their produce, she has had to deprive them of jetties from which to ship their apples and potatoes, and she has had to deprive the rest of our citizens of public works which were badly needed, but could not be provided because of the deficiency of revenue. But the State which asks us to build a railway for her, so far from losing a million of money, has had concessions made to her which were wrung from the Convention because Sir John Forrest told us that Western Australia would not come into the Federation if thev were not granted. She has had a special Tariff for five years, under which, instead of losing a large amount of money, the Western Australian Treasury has reaped an advantage of as much as £800,000 or £900,000 in a year. And with these facts staring us in the face, the Western Australian senators calmly ask us to build 480 miles of railway in Western Australian territory and 6.25 miles in South Australia.
– Then South Australia will derive most of the benefit from the contemplated expenditure?
– Of course she will. Now, what are railways for generally ? The great idea in building them is that they conduce to land settlement, that they open up the country, that they are of enormous assistance to the farmers in getting their produce to market, that thev develop the agricultural resources of a State, that they assist manufacturers, and that, in various ways, thev help forward the prosperity of the country. For years the farmers of Tasmania had to cultivate their soil and market their produce without the assistance of railways, because they could not be afforded. At times they had to market their produce by means of roads which were unsuitable for even a bullock team to use. In Tasmania the people have had to develop their manufactures and other resources without this aid, but to the extent that it could be afforded, not a railway, except on the mineral field, has yielded a profit. We have had to provide hundreds of thousands of pounds to .meet the interest on the cost of construction. While Western Australia has had the advantage of hundreds of thousands of pounds which her railways have returned in excess of working expenses and interest, yet that State asks Tasmania to help her to build a railway. Car. the Minister justify that proceeding on any ground ? Does it not show the most selfish and grasping spirit that has ever been displayed in public life in any part of Australia? The proposal ought to be scouted. I cannot understand how Prime Minister after Prime Minister and Ministry after Ministry has backed up this shockingly unjust proposal, unless it is on & ground which I do not care to name. No doubt we all desire to have supporters, to sit on the Treasury Bench, and to stick to our portfolios, but I think that there ought to be a limit to the dirt which we are to eai in order to realize bur ambition.
– I suppose the honorable senator means that it is not necessary to name them.
– Exactly, because facts speak for themselves from Sir John Forrest downwards.
– I have heard of persons having earth hunger.
– We have heard that in this Parliament there are, unfortunately, some persons who have eaten dirt already, and who, I am sorry to say, continue to eat dirt wholesale.
– Is the honorable senator an expert at that business?
– The honorable senator can judge for himself. I have my own opinion of his dirt-eating capacity.
– Order ! These interjections do not assist the debate or advance the standing of the Senate.
– Is there ever likely to be good feeling on behalf of Tasmania towards Western Australia when the representatives of the latter State are trying to draw £900 out of her coffers in order to make a survey to explore their territory, te see if there is land for farmers to open up, and whether there is enough water to supply a bandicoot? We have been told that there is not an emu to be seen for hundreds of miles, which is a splendid proof that there is no’ water available. Let me here allude to a speech made by the present Premier of Western Australia. No one has ever suggested the- adoption of the. per capita distribution of the surplus after the bookkeeping period has expired without giving special treatment to that State. But in the next breath to that in which he advocated the construction of this railway ion Federal principles, the Premier of Western Australia denied the right of the Commonwealth to distribute that revenue per capita, and insisted that if it were adopted she must stand out of the Federation. When it is seen that there is a chance of getting Commonwealth money for the purpose of building a railway in her territory for a distance of 480 miles, the representatives of Western Australia pitch aside all Federal spirit and all sense of justice and fair play, and advocate this project, headed by Sir John Forrest, who if he cannot coax or persuade a man into voting for the Bill tries to bully him. The Minister of Defence ought to sei an example of fair play and justice. He absolutely refused to allow us to go into Committee to consider in what proportion the cost of a survey should be borne.
– It is not possible to go back into Committee at this stage.
– I am pointing out a very good reason why the report ought not to be adopted.
– If the report is not adopted we cannot go back into Committee at this stage.
– One reason why the report should not be adopted is that it is proposed to saddle the Commonwealth with the whole expenditure of .£20,000. I think that in my second-reading speech, I suggested that of the advantage which would accrue from the construction of the railway 80 per cent, would go to the States and 20 per cent, to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth ought to be responsible for 20 per cent, of the cost of the work, because it would derive advantages in regard to the transport of mails and in centuries to come, when we had an army, in connexion with defence. The most important consideration with me is not the construction of the railway, because I believe that in years to come it will be built, but whether it should be built by the Commonwealth or bv the States concerned, and whether the expenditure ought rio be divided between the Commonwealth and those States in proportion to the advantages which each would derive from its construction. If we had been allowed to go into Committee I should have moved that the cost of the survey or any additional sum which might be expended should be borne in the proportion of one-third each, but I am now inclined to think that 50 per cent, of the cost ought to be borne by Western Australia, and 25 per cent, each by the Commonwealth and South Australia. The advantages to Western Australia from the construction of the railway would be far greater than those derived by either South Australia or the Commonwealth. Senator Neild has pointed out that, so far, Western Australia has been chiefly a mineral State. Nine-tenths of her prosperity has been due to the discovery of her minerals, but she is beginning, I believe with great success, to develop her manufactures and her primary industries. Yet to-day she asks the States who have built their own railways, although they did not possess the gold that she has, to help her to build a railway. In view of the advantages which that State would derive from its construction, I defy any one to say that the Commonwealth ought to bear the whole cost. Not one representative of Western Australia has ever had the temerity to say that my proposal is unfair. Their one idea has been to put their hands into the Treasury of every other State to get its money in order to- develop their State. Although I have advanced the proposition on three different occasions, after an interval “of a year in each case, still I have not heard it dealt with by one representative of Western Australia. They do not desire to discuss any question except that of grasping twenty thousand sovereigns and spending them in their self-interest.
– Western Australia offered to recompense South Australia if the latter would only help the former to make, the line.
– South Australia is in a verv peculiar position. On no occasion has the Minister of Defence taken any notice of the question of the gauge of the line. Can any one cite a single Railway Survey Bill in which the gauge of the line was not mentioned? Is this to be a rail way with a gauge of 5 ft. 3 in. or 4 ft. 8£ in., or 3 ft. 6 in., or is it to be a tramway with a gauge of 2 ft. 6 in. ? I appeal to Senator Keating, who has been very dumb for a week on this subject, if he has ever heard of a Railway Survey Bill being passed without a .provision as to the width of the gauge. Of course, the reason for leaving that point alone, in defiance of all commercial and professional experience, is that the only consent we have obtained from South Australia is really no consent, because Mr. Price has said, “ Yes, I consent; but I must be consulted as to the route and the gauge.” What instruction, I ask again, is Senator Playford going to give to Bie survey party about the question of the gauge? Is he going to tell them to survey a route for a line with a gauge of 3 ft. 6 in. or 4 ft. % in. ? Does he intend to tell the people of South Australia before he gets their consent what the gauge of the railway is to be ? Does he not know that the Premier of South Australia will have no chance of getting the consent of its Parliament even to the survey unless the gauge suits that State? Does he not know that if the line were built on a gauge which did not suit South Australia, she might have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in altering the gauge of her railways?
– -Oh, no ! It is proposed now that the Commonwealth should be responsible for the building of another couple of hundreds of miles of railway in South Australia, and the Premier says that we are quite welcome to do so if we are prepared to pay the cost.
– Can the Minister tell us what instructions the surveyors are to get?
– I cannot.
– The Minister can tell us nothing except that he is going to get £20,000 out of us, honestly if he can. He ought to know something about the relation of this project to the question of defence, but, according to Senator Neild, he appears to know nothing. He talks of an army of 60,000 men when Senator Neil’d tells us that we have only 21,000 men. The Minister said that the only reason -which can justify the construction of the railway is that it would assist in the defence of the Commonwealth. I hold in my hand a little journal called The Call, which has lately been issued by the Defence League of New South Wales, which includes on its Committee military men, who have studied the question of railways as they have studied every question of defence. An article headed “ Railways of Australia viewed strategically “ contains this paragraph -
To provide, however, for the repulse of oversea invasion on the north and west, two transcontinental railways are unnecessary, and it is submitted that the line to the north should start from Bourke (New South Wales), and go aid Cunnamulla, Charleville, Longreach, Winton, and Cloncurry, Barclay Tableland, head of Roper River, on to Pine Creek (Northern Territory), as shown on map, rather than from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. The former route would pass through good fairly watered country, already more or less occupied for pastoral purposes, would link up the three main Queensland trunk lines, and would be of considerable settlement and commercial value, and ultimately a mail route to Europe. The latter route (through South Australia) would pass mainly through desert country, and be no value either strategically or commercially until the many miles of desert had been passed through, and the better portion of the Northern Territory reached at no very great distance from Pine Creek. The Bourke-Cloncurry route is somewhat longer, but in spite of the extra distance, it would be financially the better of the two - possibly the less expensive to construct, and certainly the more remunerative when constructed - besides being valuable from a strategic and commercial point of view with the completion of each section of its construction.
Will Senator Playford listen to the last paragraph ? -
The Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie line is also a necessary strategic line, if the west of Australia is to be satisfactorily defended, but under present circumstances it would seem to be less urgent than the line to Port Darwin.
The only . ground on which Senator Playford can suggest that the railway should be built is dissipated by those military gentlemen, who form the Defence League of New South Wales, and who tell him that the line to Port Darwin is the more important for defence purposes.
– Military gentlemen from Western Australia and South Australia might express a different opinion.
– We know that opinions differ, and I am talking to-night because ,my opinion is so fundamentally different from that of my honorable friend as to what is just, fair, and Federal. Has Senator Playford considered! where his defence policy is going to land him? How is he going to justify to his officers, the electors, and his conscience the spending of £5,000,000 on this railway, while he spends only £23,000 on the training of 240,000 cadets? Truly, the Minister has a keen appreciation of the proportion of things! A very remarkable article which appeared recently in the Melbourne Age, and which may be described as pessimistic, would lead one to suppose that it is more important to defend our ports and our shores than to spend .£5, 000,000 on the construction of a desert railway. I should advise the .Minister to practice a little of the economy which the Liberal Party are observing at Home, and endeavour to raise a really up-to-date, thoroughly-equipped army.
– The honorable senator means an Australian Navy?
– I am not very much in love with the idea of an Australian Navy, but I am more in love with that idea than I am with the proposal to construct a desert railway. I am sorry that Senator Symon is not present, because I wish to refer to the peculiar position in which we have been placed by his remarks. I suppose there is such a thing as political honour. Senator Symon is a better judge of his own honour than I can be, but if a representative from South Australia knows, or believes that there is no chance of South Australia consenting to the survey, with a view to afterwards consenting to the construction of the railway, is it fair that he should vote for the Bill before us and drag £900 out of the Tasmanian Treasury for the purposes of a survey which can end in nothing? That is not my idea of political honour, and I cannot understand the position of Senator Symon. Nor can I understand the position of Senator Playford, who also knows that under ,present circumstances South Australia will never consent to the construction, of the’ railway. If there ever was an occasion on which stone-walling was justified, it is the present occasion. I do not know, however, that I am stone-walling, because I believe I am advancing some verv good, arguments, which I defy Senator Playford to answer.
– Vote against the Bill, and do not trouble further.
– The honorable senator is, leader of the Senate, and his honour- affects this Chamber. If the honorable senator carries out all legislation in the same way, we may say good-bye to the dignity and position of the Senate. In my opinion, Senator Neild was quite right in alluding to the Northern. Territory, which was also referred to by Senator Symon, who told us that South Australia is particularly anxious that the Commonwealth should take charge of that portion of Australia.
– What has the Northern Territory to do with the Bill ?
– I think it has everything to do with the Bill; because Senator Symon expressed the opinion that until the Commonwealth ‘ takes over the Northern Territory, South Australia will never consent to the construction of the line.
– I do not know that Senator Symon did say that, but, if he did, I cannot see what the Northern Territory has to do with the Bill.
– Senator Neild dealt with the broad political aspects of this matter, and contended that hours, or, indeed, weeks, ought to be devoted to the consideration of which transcontinental railway should be built first.
– And the decision might make a great deal of difference in regard to the consent of South Australia.
– Of course. If the Commonwealth were to take over the Northern Territory on fair terms, and it was decided that a railway to Port Darwin would not be so advantageous as a railway to Kalgoorlie, the South Australian Government might consent to the construction of the latter; but if it was decided that a railway to Port Darwin was the more necessary, we should never get consent for the construction of the railway now uncle:- review. That was what was foreshadowed by Senator Symon, who said that, under present circumstances, South Australia would never consent to the construction of this line.
– If South Australia would not consent, why is the honorable senator talking?
– I am talking because Sir John Forrest and other Ministers, with a all the influence and power that Ministers possess, would try to force the construction of the railway as they are forcing the survey. The people of Western Australia regard it as a breach of faith that, the Commonwealth has not built this railway ; and does any one contend that they will be satisfied with this expenditure of £20,000 on a survey ? Sir John Forrest, when he thought he had a majority and that the Bill was going through flying, did the best he could to clinch the matter by saying that he believed no man should vote for the survey unless he was prepared to vote for the construction of the line. If this flying and incomplete survey in anyway supports the construction of the line, every effort will be made to force the consent of Parliament to the expenditure of £5,000,000, or, as is more likely, £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. We do not desire to be always under the influence of Sir John Forrest in this matter, with his one day poking fun at us, and the next day endeavouring to bully us into voting for the project. There is lobbying going on in every corner1 of the Parliament ; and if this £20,000 can. be extracted out of the pockets of the public, it will be deemed all the easier to extract £5,000,000. If it is right and just for the Parliament to vote this £20,000, it would be right and just to vote whatever sum is necessary to construct the line, if anything like a fair case could be made out. But was there ever a railway, or any public work, for which a good case could not be made out on paper ? I should like to ask Senator Keating what he thinks of all these matters. I do not say that any honorable senator has voted for this Bill against his conscientious convictions, but until I am assured to the contrary, I shall hold the opinion that Senator Keating does not believe in the justice or Federal spirit of this measure. I believe that the honorable and learned senator previously voted against the Bill.
– - -I did not.
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean to say that he was not originally on-nosed to the Bill?
– I do. I did not vote against it before.
– The honorable and learned senator has always been against it.
– The honorable and learned senator might think so.
– I have always understood that Senator Keating was against the Bill, and I should even now like to have his assurance that he is in favour of the measure. The question is of very great importance to the people of Tasmania, who would like to hear what Senator Keating’s views and opinions on the subject are.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that he has always been in favour of the Bill?
– He said so just now.
– And asks us to believe it? It is straining one’s powers of imagination.
– I am aware that the honorable and learned senator is a member of a Ministry that was pledged to bring in this Bill, and I have no desire to put him in any awkward position. But I should like to know what his real feelings on the matter are, and if he can justify the vote hegave the other night, I should be glad to hear him do so. I confess that I do not see how it will be possible for the honorable and learned senator to do so, because I contend that the whole thing is unjust and un-Federal, and I shall be surprised if one of my colleagues from Tasmania can show that it is just or Federal that that State, which has had to pay for her own railway construction, should be asked to assist in building a railway to develop other States. I do not admit that the honorable and learned senator . could convert me ; but it is, I think, due to the electors of Tasmania that he should pronounce some opinion on the subject, and should tell the Senate plainly what he thinks about it. I should like, before I resume my seat, to appeal to the Minister of Defence to take the third reading of the Bill to-morrow. If he will agree to do so, I shall resume my seat with more pleasure than I otherwise should. I do not think anything is to be gained by pushing the measure through to-night. The honorable senator is aware that there is a feeling on the subject which nothing will allay. We desire fair play and justice.
– It is all right ; we have a pair for Senator Symon.
– Then I shall resume my seat in the hope that the third reading will be taken to-morrow.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The Senate divided
Ayes … … … 14
Noes … … … 13
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Bill be read a third time to-morrow.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 18th September, vide page 4741) :
– The introductory paragraphs of the schedule having been passed, I propose now, if it is agreeable to the Committee, to put the items separately.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Spirits, viz. : -
– Will the Minister say what is the present Customs duty on the spirits dealt with in item1 ?
– The Customs duty on pure brandy is 14s. per gallon, and the Excise duty under the present Commonwealth Tariff is11s. The proposal in this Bill, on the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, is that the Excise duty shall be 10s.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.56]. - I have no wish to interfere with these items if it can be avoided, because there appears to be some sort of classification of these spirits which was not previously made. I wish to ask the Minister for some explanation of differences which I note between the items. For instance, item No. 3 deals with blended spirits distilled partly from grape wine and partly from grain, and containing not less than 25 per cent. of pure grape wine spirit, and under the conditions provided the Excise duty on these spirits is to be 12s. This is a blend which is made up of 25 per cent. of brandy distilled from pure grape wine spirit - the spirit dealt with in item No. 1, on which the Excise duty is 10s. per gallon. The 25 per cent. of this spirit comprised in the blend therefore represents a duty of 2s. 6d. The 75 per cent. of the blend is, I assume, composed of spirits n.e.i., dealt with in item No. 8, on which the Excise duty proposed is 13s. The 75 per cent. of the blend, therefore, would represent an Excise duty of 9s. 9d., giving a total of 12s. 3d. for the spirits represented in the blend. But under the Bill this blend is to be subject to an Excise duty of only 12s. That seems to me to be an odd sort of arrangement. I think that there should be some sort of relation between the duty imposed on the blended spirit and the duties imposed on the ingredients of which it is composed. We do not wish to admit the blend at a less Excise duty than the ingredients of which it is composed. I take now item No. 5, blended whisky, and it is difficult to ascertain on what basis these Excise duties have been calculated or arranged.
– They have been arranged according to the principle laid down bv the Tariff Commission.
– Then I am sorry for the Tariff Commission. I do not desire that these blends should be subject to a lower Excise duty than their component parts. Item No. 5 is blended whisky distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain containing not less than 25 per cent. of pure barley malt spirit. That leaves 75 per cent. of spirits n.e.i. Again, the proportion of spirits n.e.i. in the blend represents the same amount of duty as in the blended spirit previously referred to, namely, 9s. 9d., and the 25 per cent. of pure barley malt spirit, dutiable under item No. 4 at ros. per gallon would represent 2s. 6d., and the Excise duty on the blend should therefore be 12s. 3d. But then the blend is to be admitted at11s., which is 1s. 3d. less than is charged on the component parts, made up of the best kind of spirits. Senator Playford will see that it is a little hard that these higher duties should be charged in respect to superior spirits - at least in the case of pure barley malt spirit - and that only11s. should be charged on the blend made up of 75 per cent. of inferior spirit.
– Spirits n.e.i. could be made from anything under the sun, and could not be used in blended whisky. Spirits used in blended whisky must be made from grain.
– The line spirits n.e.i. includes grain spirit. I should be disposed to move that the amount of duty in item 3 be raised to 12s. 3d. At any rate, some modification should be made. It is a very wrong thing to insist that the Excise duty on the blend shall be only 11s., and that the duty on the component parts of it should come to 12s. 3d. That is unfair discrimination.
– If Senator Playford will compare the matter under discussion withclause 11 of the Spirits Bill, he will see that, whereas we are here providing that brandy which is distilled wholly from grape wine by pot still, and has been matured by storage in wood for not less than three years, shall be dutiable at 10s., we provide in the Spirits Bill that spirits distilled in Australia shall not be delivered from the control of the Customs - which means the Excise authorities - unless they have been matured in wood for a period of not less than two years, but with the proviso that the provision shall not come into operation until 1st January, 1908. How does that proviso affect this schedule?
– We find that we have not the stocks of Australian spirits to supply the demand if they are to be kept for two years.
– Let us assume that this measure comes into operation on the 1st October. Although this Bill provides that the brandy which pays 10s. must have been matured for two years, clause 11 of the Spirits Bill provides that the two years’ period shall not operate until 1908.
– It means that we are continuing the present system until 1908 simply because if Australian spirits were immediately to be compelled to comply with the two years’ condition there would not be sufficient to supply demands.
– I cannot accept that as a proper explanation. The position is that in the interval between the 1st October, 1906, and the 1st January, 1908, the condition that spirits shall be matured in wood for two years would not apply.
– That proviso is in the Spirits Bill, with which we are not now dealing. It does not affect the ques tion of whether the Excise shall be 10s. or us. That is the point under consideration now. The question whether we shall extend the period will not arise until we deal with clause 11 of the Spirits Bill.
– It is dangerous to pass the proviso that the spirits must be matured in wood for a period of not less than two years if we are to understand that that proviso is to be held in abeyance until the 1st January, 1908. That was not what the Tariff Commission meant. I am most anxious for the production in Australia of a brandy that we shall all be proud of. That, I believe, was one of the reasons which induced the Tariff Commission to propose this great premium for the production of pure grape brandy in Australia. But if clause 11 of the Spirits Bill is to remain as it stands, we shall in the interval between, say the 1st October, 1906, and the 1st January, 1908, allow brandy which has been distilled wholly from grape wine, to go into consumption, though it has not been matured in wood for more than ten hours. I am sure that if the Chairman were free to speak, he would state that that was never contemplated by the Tariff Commission.
– I am informed that if Ave do not pass clause 11 of the Spirits Bill, there will not be sufficient stocks of Australian brandy to supply the market. The Customs authorities tell me that.
– I cannot help thinking that Senator Playford’s authority is not so accurate as it would desire to be. I cannot believe that there is not in Australia sufficient brandy that has been two years in wood to meet requirements.
– There is some,- of course, but not enough. Unless the proviso to clause 11 of the Spirits Bill were passed, it would! disorganize the whole trade.
– I find myself unfortunately in this position. I am. anxious to offer a reward for the production of a pure brandy in Australia that will gain for itself a reputation not only in the Commonwealth, but outside. I am hopeful that we shall be able to produce in Australia a brandy which will be able to take its place amongst the best brandies in the world. For that reason, I am prepared to offer an Excise duty of. only 10s. on such brandy- But I do think that the conditions ought to be safeguarded, as thev would be on the face of this Bil] if it were not affected by clause 11 of the Spirits Bill.
– I may state that if the Tariff Commission had contemplated the two years’ interval provided for in clause 11 of the Spirits Bill, it would never have recommended the duty of 10s.
– I am glad that Senator Higgs has made that remark even from the Chair. I am very pleased rn~ have his support. If the Tariff Commission had thought that this 10s. Excise duty was to be imposed in cases where the brandy was going into immediate- consumption, without maturing for two years, it would never have made the recommendation.
– It is singular that the. point was not raised in another place.
– I am afraid that the question was not well considered in another place, and shall be very glad for the Senate to rectify such errors.’ We provide that imported brandy shall be matured for at least two years in the wood, but we pre. pose to make a difference in the case o.t Australian brandy until 1908. I point out that the exceptions with regard to Geneva and schnapps have nothing to do with this question. They are made for other reasons.
– It has to do with the question that it is proposed to allow a certain time simply because the stocks are so small.
– My answer is that we are now dealing with the duty on pure wine brandy. The moment the two Bills are passed, there will be a Customs duty of 14s. on brandy, and it cannot bp put into human consumption within a period of less than two years. We are not applying the provision in regard to maturing to locally-distilled brandy until 1908. Will the Minister agree to increase by is. the proposed Excise duty of 10s. on all brandies which ‘ are put into human consumption before the 1st January, 1908, and to levy the 10s. rate afterwards - in other words, to insert in the Excise Tariff Bill a’ provision corresponding exactly with the provision in the Spirits Bill ? I think that I am going a long way in making that suggestion to the Minister, but if he cannot accept it now, I ask him to postpone the first item. It is reasonably worthy of hi= serious consideration.
– We can strike out clause 11 of the Spirits Bill.
– That is not a fair way in which to treat the Committee.
I think it is an excellent thing to provide that-
Spirits distilled in Australia shall not be delivered from the control of the Customs for human consumption unless they have been matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years.
That is,I think, one of the most valuable provisions which the Tariff Commission has suggested, and I could not consent to its omission. If the Minister will agree to strike out the proviso that the clause shall not come into operation until the1st January, 1908, I shall support the proposed Excise duty of10s. It is the proviso which will operate unfairly. It is utterly against the spirit of the Commission’s report, and I do not think that it will be agreed to by this Committee.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [10.20]. - I think that the suggestion of Senator Clemons that we should place the different spirits in a position of equality as regards the time when they should be allowed to pass into human consumption, is correct. But I am not satisfied that we should consent to accept an Excise duty of 10s. a gallon. With the present duty of11s. per gallon, there is a difference of 3s. between the Excise and Customs duties. From their report, it is very clear that half of the Commission thought that 3s. would be a fair difference between the two duties, while other commissioners were willing to make a difference of 3s. 6d. I am perfectly prepared to give a fair consideration to local distillers of spirits, but there must be some moderation with regard to the difference between the two duties. Four commissioners recommended a reduction of the Customs duty from 14s. to 13s. per gallon, while two of them were willing that it should be reduced to 13s. 6d., so that clearly there were six commissioners who asked the Government to submit a Bill which would reduce the Customs duty to either 13s. 6d. or 13s., and to leave the Excise duty at 10s. as recommended. The Government introduced a Bill in which they proposed not to decrease, but to increase the Customs duty, but the other House declined to assent to the proposal. That shows quite clearly that that House thought that a Customs duty of 14s. per gallon on spirits was ample. I believe that prior to Federation a number of its members had had considerable experience of the effect of a very high duty on spirits. If we are going to pay any attention to the recommendation of the Commission, who say that the difference should not be more than 3s. 6d., although I think it should not be more than 3s., we ought not to agree to the proposal of the Government. During the operation of the Excise Tariff the production of grape brandy has increased very materially. Does not that fact prove that there has been a fair amount of protection given to the producers of that article? If it could be shown that itsproduction had almost been wiped out the Government would have a strong case for a greater difference between the two duties. But that is not so, because in their report the Commission point out that in South Australia and New South Wales there has been an increase in the production of grape spirit. Does not that show that there is a sufficientmargin between the two duties at the present time? It cannot be reiterated too often that we shall have to face a decrease in our revenue? Whether it will be compensated by increased prosperity to certain individuals I do not know. If such an increase of prosperity be brought about it will be made up to the Commonwealth by the consumption of dutiable goods in another direction.
– Does the honorable senator propose an increase in the Excise duty ?
– That is the way to test it.
.- When I look round the Chamber I do not see how it can be tested at the present time. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that we shall have to face a falling revenue and increasing liabilities, and that each State will have to suffer accordingly. Fortunately New South Wales has an overflowing revenue, and will not be affected injuriously. WhatI propose to do, unless another amendment be submitted, is to move that the proposed duty be increased in order to leave a difference of 3s. between the Customs and Excise duties.
.- I agree with a great deal of what Senator Clemons has said. I am quite sure that if the Tariff Commission had thought for a moment that the Government would propose to postpone for two years the maturing of spirits it would not have recommended a difference of 4s. between the duties. Ithink that the distillers who have no matured spirit in hand should receive no consideration, because that very fact shows that for some time they must have been poisoning the public. All the evidence we had went to show that the raw spirit is quite unwholesome, and that a period of at least two years’ storage is necessary in order to give a wholesome spirit.
– Then we could strike out the proviso to clause 11.
– I do not agree with the Minister that that is the proper-way to proceed, because it might bring about a crisis when there would be available very little, if any, spirits matured for a period of two years. I suggest that the first item in the schedule should be allowed to stand. Then if there are any spirits two years old in the Commonwealth they will get the benefit of 4s. protection. But we should have a provision, following the wording of the first item, but without the words “ matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years.” It would read -
Brandy distilled wholly from grape wine by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 40 per cent. over proof, and certified by an officer to be pure brandy, per proof gallon,11s.
SenatorDrake. - Would that be permanent, so that immature spirits could be sold for all time?
– I am afraid that clause 11 of the Spirits Act is in conflict with Senator Higgs’ suggestion.
– We could not deal with this matter under clause 11 without interfering with the schedule.
– I do not see that clause 11 affects the matter, if the additional paragraph be inserted. At any rate, the difficulty might be met by fixing a rate at which the Excise duty should be collected. It does seem to me to be quite an unnecessary concession to Australian distillers to give them a protection of 4s. straight away on raw spirit. If we cannot now make an amendment, I think the Minister might very well consider the advisability of postponing the item.
– We can deal with the point in the Spirits Bill.
– The Bill states that the duty must come into force as from the 17th August, 1906, and it is proposed in another Bill to suspend that particular provision until 1908, which means that the
Australian distillers of raw spirit will have a protection of 4s., and may put the raw spirit at once on the market.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10.33]. - I think the Minister would do well to accept the suggestion to postpone the first item until he has had an opportunity to consider what has been pointed out by Senators Higgs and Clemons. A further reason is that it would be inadvisable to deal with this matter and then proceed to deal with clause 11 of the Spirits Bill. The difficulty could not be met under that clause, because the Excise duty is fixed by the schedule, and the Spirits Bill merely imposes certain conditions and limitations. It is quite apparent that there is a muddle, as the Minister will see if he asks himself the question, what is the duty that is to be charged up to January, 1908, on brandy distilled wholly from grape wine which has not been matured by storage in wood for a period not less than two years.
– Does the honorable senator mean brandy to be distilled in the future ?
– No, I mean brandy already distilled.
– Such brandy will pay dutv under the present Excise Act.
– There is a proviso, but the proviso is limited to brandy that is in bond or in store on the 17th August, this year. Such spirit and spirits n.e.i. may until the1st March, 1907, be delivered at the rates of duty specified in the Excise Tariff 1902. In the Spirits Bill the period of exemption has been extended from 1907 to 1908, and therefore there will be an interval of one year, during which there will be no Excise duty applicable to this kind of Australian spirit.
– Brandy already distilled will have to pay the present Excise duty.
– What will become of the brandy distilled at the next vintage in South Australia?
– That will pay10s.
– But there is a proviso that clause 11 of the Spirits Bill is not to come into operation until the1st January, 1908. It is the object of the distillers of grape spirit to be able toget out the spirit distilled at the next vintage, without having to subject it to the maturing process.
– We will stop that.
– I shall resist thatbeing stopped. But we cannot deal with that matter at the present time, and the Minister will have to bring down some scheme in connexion with the first item. I suggest that it would be well to postpone the item until the Minister has consulted his experts as to how the difficulty may be avoided. The growers of South Australia, at whose instance, and very properly, this concession has been made, in order to enable them to get their stocks up between 1907 and 1908, would be able to get out their spirit under the proviso, and there would be no scale of duties applicable.
– They could put it into consumption directly they distilled it.
– That is the intention and object of the enlarged period, and it is quite evident that the first item will have to be dealt with as Senator Higgs has suggested.
SenatorGivens. - Amend the Spirits Bill.
– We cannot pass this item on the assumption that the Spirits Bill will be amended, because there may not be the necessary majority to amend it. Distillers of spirits from grape wine will not be satisfied unless they have that extension to enable them to get up their stock and comply with the provisions of this Bill.
– I am inclined to agree with the Minister that the proper place in which to deal with the alleged difficulty which is said to have arisen is in the Spirits Bill. Unless the Spirits Bill is passed, the difficulty cannot arise, and we can therefore better deal with it in considering that Bill. I admit that every honorable senator has both Bills in mind when discussing either of them. What is wrong with the first item?
– What is the duty chargeable on brandy which is not two years old?
– We leave brandy which was distilled before these duties were announced in exactly the same position as it was before. Honorable senators are aware that the quantity of brandy to which that applies is exceedingly limited. We permit the distillers of that brandy to do with it all that they might have done if there had been no alteration of the law.
That is the full extent to which South Australian distillers can ask for consideration in this matter. This Bill will give them increased protection for future production, and in return for that we demand that they shall not injure the public by passing into consumption raw brandy which has not been matured in wood for a period of two years. That is a wise provision. To permit brandy distilled after these duties were announced to go intoconsumption immediately would be unfair to men who desire to build up a stock.
– And to men who have been maturing.
– That is so; and what is of more importance, it would be injurious to the public. That is admitted by the Tariff Commission.
– We are unanimous that storage in wood improves spirit.
– I quite agree with the Tariff Commission in that, although I might add that I am not inclined to treat the conclusions of the Tariff Commission as infallible, or as entitled to any undue degree of respect. In fact, I am inclined to regard some of their conclusions with the utmost disrespect.
– The honorable senator does not regard the members of the Commission as infallible?
– I do not. I think that the Chairman of the Commission is inclined to look upon himself as a sort of tin god - the Lord High Cockalorum of the Commonwealth, to whom every one must bow down.
– That is most disrespectful to a member of another place, and it is quite contrary to our Standing Orders.
– I am not referring to a member of another place, but to the Chairman of the Tariff Commission. This Parliament did not delegate any of its powers to the Tariff Commission. The members of the Commission were appointed to make an inquiry, and it was a work of supererogation for them to recommend what the duties should be. It is for this Parliament to say what the duties shall be.I intend to vote for the item as it stands in the schedule, and when we come to further consider the Spirits Bill I shall vote for no provision that would allow raw spirits distilled after these duties were introduced to go into consumption, to the detriment of the health of the people.
– I can understand that Senator Playford is in a very difficult position, and I honestly sympathize with the honorable senator, because, without disrespect to another place, I say that these two Bills taken in conjunction are in a most unsatisfactory condition. They contain provisions which are contradictory, and leave big lapses of time unaccounted for. We start first of all with a proviso to clause 2 of the Excise Bill to the effect that, so long as these spirits were on the 17th day of August in the store, they may, until the rst day of March, 1907, be delivered at the rate of duty specified in the Excise Tariff of 1902, namely, 11s. per gallon. That is a clear proviso that with regard to brandy, from the 17 th day of August of this year until the1st day of March,1907, it can be put into human consumption at an Excise duty of11s. That may be right or wrong, but we have passed the provision. Assuming that it is right, what provision have we made in either or both of these Bills for the brandy that goes into human consumption after the 1st day of March, 1907 ? When that question is asked this is what we find : The Spirits Bill provides that spirits distilled in Australia may go into human consumption until the 1st day of January, 1908. That would mean that if we pass this item in the Excise Bill all that brandy which goes into human consumption in the interval between the 1st March, 1907, and the 1st January, 1908, would pay an Excise duty of10s. per gallon.
– That is not intended.
– It would pay 13s. per gallon.
– I am sorry that Senator Drake has not yet understood the matter. This Bill provides that the provision with respect to maturing shall not come into force until the 1st day of January, 1908. What it provides is that up to that date there shall be no hindrance to spirits distilled in Australia entering into human consumption. Therefore, it is provided that the necessity for the storage in wood shall not apply until the 1st January, 1908. So that there is an interval practically unaccounted for, and there is a rate of duty to be imposed during that interval which is not perfectly clear. lt may be argued that the Excise on brandy going into consumption between! March, 1907, and January, 1908, would be the Excise we are now going to impose -10s. But, in answer to that, it would probably be pointed out that such would not be the case, because the10s. Excise applies to brandy matured in wood for two years. In the absence of the10s. Excise applying, we have to ask ourselves what duty would be applicable in the interval . between March, 1907, and January, 1908. I think that the duty, 13s., on spirits n.e.i. would apply.
– That is more than the brandy-maker would have to pay under the present Excise Tariff.
– Exactly. I am not saying that I want him to pay that rate, but I am pointing out how confused the proposal is. I hope that, under the circumstances, Senator Playford will agree to postpone the matter. It is hopelessly confused at present. Personally, I hare ho doubt that the brandy-maker, under the conditions I have described, would pay 13s. Will Senator Playford explain how any other Excise rate could be applied to brandy between March, 1907, and January, 1908, if that brandy had not been matured in wood for two years?
– The position, so far as brandy is concerned, is that at present the Excise duty the distiller has to pay is11s. per gallon.
– Until the 1st March, 1907.
– Undoubtedly. But there are conditions attached to the distilling of brandy in the futurewhich were not attached to it before. Senator Clemons’ contention is that the proviso to clause 11 will enable the brandy-maker whose brandy has not been stored for two years in wood to be cleared at10s. He will be able to do nothing of the kind. No one can claim that lower Excise unless he has complied with the conditions. The man who takes advantage of the proviso to clause ix until January, 1908, will not be able to get his brandy out of the bonded warehouse unless he pays an Excise of11s.
– Under what provision would he pay11s. ?
– Under the old Act, because he does not comply with the provisions specified in this Bill. Surely it will not be contended that, if he had not complied with the conditions enabling him to get his brandy out of bond at10s., he would have to pay 13s.? That was never intended.
– But that is what he would have to do as the Bill stands.
– If honorable senators contend that that is the case, there will have to be an alteration. What is intended is that if brandy-makers take their brandy out of bond under the proviso to clause 11 of the Spirits Act, they shall pay Excise under the old rate.
– Will the Minister look at the Excise Tariff Bill. He will see that clause 2 provides that until the 1st March, 1907, ns. - that is the rate specified in the Excise Tariff 1902 - shall be paid on brandy. I say that, after the 1st March1, 1907, and until the ist- January, 1908, Excise at 13s. will have to be paid.
– We shall have to alter that date to make it comply with the proviso to clause 11 of the Spirits Bill, and try to fix it up so that there shall be no mistake. But I certainly was under the impression, although I could not point to the clause, that any brandies that were cleared under the proviso to clause 11 would pay a duty of only us. per gallon.
– So they would.
– Then we do not want anything else.
– But that would not cover the period from March, 1907, to January, 1908, and all the spirits delivered in that period would pay a duty of 13s. per gallon under the n.e.i. provision.
– I shall have the matter looked into by to-morrow.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11.2]- - I hope that the Minister of Defence will not think of altering the proviso to clause 11, because the concession to the 1 st January, 1908, exists.
– I know that the honorable senator is in communication with persons in the trade, who say that they have not the stocks’ and if he will be satisfied that when they clear their brandy under the proviso to clause n they shall pay the. present Excise duty of ns. per gallon, that will be all right, so far as I am concerned.
– I am sure that they would be satisfied with that’; but T shall communicate with them further, and let the Minister know.
Order ov Business.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister of Defence what business will be taken first tomorrow?
– The Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill.
– I will also want to know why important Tariff proposals are given second place to that Bill ?
– We have agreed to that.
– I do not know what the honorable senator has agreed to do; but he had no right to agree to anything in mv absence.
– Well, I apologize to the honorable senator.
– I have a perfect right to ask for information for my own satisfaction, apart altogether from the honorable senator.
– I am very sorry if I have said too much.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060919_senate_2_34/>.