2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I - I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, the following questions which, in my absence yesterday, dropped off the notice-paper -
– The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following answers to the questions: -
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, a question with reference. to the return showing the number and the value of the holdings in the different States, which was ordered at the instance of Senator Pearce, and which I understand is in course of preparation? I wish to ask whether the Minister will see if it is possible, before the close of the session, to present the return for those States for which the figures are availablewithout waiting to get the figures for the other States. By taking that course it will be possible for honorable senators to obtain information during the session ; otherwise it will not be available ?
– -I shall inquire whether I can get the return in that form. I urged the Department which is doing the work to expedite the compilation of the return as much as possible. I shall endeavour to ascertain whether it is likely to be ready before the Parliament is prorogued.
– In two States the figures have been published in the press.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper: -
Audit Act 1 901. - Transfers in connexion with accounts of the financial year 2905-6, dated25th September, 1906.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he can give the Senate any information as to whether the Government of New Zealand has by this date expressed either its assent to or its dissent from the preferential trade proposals which have been submitted to this Parliament?
– I cannot give the honorable senator the information which he desires, but I shall make inquiries.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table the report of the Joint Library Committee.
Report read by the Clerk.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
Royal Commission: Punishment ok Witness.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [10.40]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until twelve o’clock midnight on the 30th September next.
I do so under standing order 60 to afford me an opportunity of discussing a matter of urgency, namely, “the case of James Stone, alleged to have suffered an injustice by reason of evidence given by him before the Royal Commission on the Tobacco Industry.”
– Will four honorable senators rise in their places?
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– The honorable senator may proceed.
– It will be remembered that when this matter was brought forward last June, the Minister of Defence promised the fullest inquiry, and report to the Senate on the facts of the case - facts which I venture to say I can show very easily were not. as then represented. The answer given by the Minister the other day, that the Ministry had not inquired, and that he could not report anything to the Senate, is my warrant for rising here, inasmuch as three months have passed since the promise was made, and I am in a position to show that no substantia) effort has been made to comply therewith, that Stone has suffered no injustice at all, and that at the date the charges of injury to this unfortunate man - I call him unfortunate because of his own unwarrantable action - were made, he knew very well that not only was he not under any. disadvantage by reason of his evidence, inasmuch as it was not the truth that he was, but that the union of which he was the secretary had actually thrown him over and refused tosupport him in connexion with, or have any. thing to do with, the inquiry which the tobacco company in question has most zealously sought to bring about. I am also prepared to show that the company has made several applications to the Ministry to give effect to Senator Playford’s promise, but without result. That being the case, and the end of the session being at hand, I consider that this is a matter of urgency, inasmuch as justice should be done to those who have been misrepresented, just as an effort was desired on the part of the Chamber to insure that justice should be done toStone, if he had suffered any wrong. Let me briefly state the facts: On the 12th January last James Stone, who was an employe of the British Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, gave evidence before the Tobacco Monopoly Com- mission. He referred to a test alleged to have been made in the works of the company in September, 1904, with reference to the relative efficiency of male and female tobacco workers. The official record shows that he made this statement: -
During that month we were all supposed to be on the test, and Mr. Shaw threw” out a challenge. The union accepted it, on the condition that they be allowed an arbitrator, because we knew the leaf was tampered with. ‘ The boys at the bin said that when the men knocked off at half-past three it was disgraceful to see what was done with the leaf. After that, members of the union used to stay behind, and they caught the foreman bringing the females’ returns and mixing themin with the leaf, so that when they came next morning to start it would be taken as an average. No test was made.
That is a direct charge made by Stone against the company’s foreman, P. M. Lawrence - whose statutory declaration I shall read - that, in order to impair the efficiency of the work done by the men, he tampered with the wrapping left to be used by them, by surreptitiously mixing with it waste leaf which had been discarded by the females on the previous day. That is a very serious charge for an employe to make against a foreman. If the foreman was guilty he ought to have been discharged. He was not fit for his position. It will be observed from the extract from the official report that Stone made these statements of his own knowledge. He did not profess to make them from hearsay, as he subsequently endeavoured to make out. Nearly a year and a half elapsed between the alleged incident of the mixing of this leaf and the giving of evidence by Stone; yet during that period he never made any complaint to the proprietors or any one else in connexion with the matter. Immediately he had given this extraordinary evidence, he was spoken to outside the room in which the Commission was sitting by Mr. Shaw, the managing director of the company, and Mr. Wicks, the factory manager.
– Then Mr. Shaw was present when the charge was made?
– Oh, yes. They told him that he had made a false statement. On the following morning, Saturday, 13th January, Stone complained to the Commission, and sought its protection. A full report of the incident appeared in the Evening News, Sydney. I will not take up time by reading it, but may mention that itis headed “ The Damnation of a Witness “ ; and the incident is reported in a somewhat sensational form. Of course, the managing director of the company assumed that an account of the incident would appear in the report of the Commission. But it is not published there; and, therefore, Mr. Shaw apparently had no opportunity to take any action.
– Does the honorable senator say that he had no opportunity to take action ?
– The managing director of the company was under the impression that an account of the incident would appear in the minutes of evidence, and that his dissent from the charge made by Stone would also be recorded.
– Was this a discussion before the Commission ?
– It was before the Commission certainly.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. The incident reported inthe Evening News did not take place before the Commission. It occurred after the Commission had broken up.
– Well, it occurred before the members of the Commission. I am only speaking on this point from the facts placed before me. I was not there myself. It was specifically alleged on a previous occasion in this Chamber that if Stone made a false statement he could have been prosecuted for perjury. But it was not Stone who alleged that he had been discharged for making a statement before the Commission. He made no such statement in his statutory declaration. If honorable senators look up the declaration made by Stone published in Hansard, they will see that he carefully dodged or evaded that point. I suppose he was well advised in avoiding it. It was a statement made by senators that he was discharged for giving evidence.
– What was the date of that debate ?
– June 21st of this year. I do not think that under the Standing Orders I can quote it. It is enough for me to say that a copy of the statutory declaration of Stone, which will be found in Hansard, shows that he never alleged that he had been discharged for giving evidence, though his declaration is so nicely wrought that it conveys that impression. There is nothing that I know of in
Stone’s declaration that can be made the subject of any charge whatever.
– Was this matter discussed on a former occasion?
– It was discussed on the question of the alleged discharge of a witness.
– Ought we to discuss the same matter twice over in the same session ?
– There was no decision of the Senate upon it. I have looked up the standing order.
– If it can be discussed twice it can be discussed halfadozen times.
– Surely if a charge is made, it may be answered. I am taking this action to afford an opportunity,, for making an answer.
– But we have had one debate on the matter. I will look up the minutes and see what did happen.
– Surely when charges are made* there may be a reply. It is an extraordinary thing if we cannot answer misrepresentations. I shall not take up time by quoting the correspondence, because it has already been quoted. I will merely refer to the note of the 16th. January, which the company wrote to Stone, inviting him to make good his allegations.
– I do not think that this debate ought to proceed. We have already on our minutes the entry of a motion for the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a matter of urgency. Senator Pearce moved -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 o’clock to-morrow, to debate a matter of urgency, namely, the dismissal of an employe of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company in consequence of evidence given to the Royal Commission on Tobacco Monopoly.
We have, therefore, discussed the matter previously.
– But Ave did not arrive at a decision.
– A similar motion is now brought forward. Can that be done under the- Standing Orders and under the practice of the Senate? If we can discuss this matter of Stone’s twice we can discuss it twenty times”. A motion might be moved to discuss it every day. I do not think that that is in accordance with our procedure. I call the attention of the honorable senator to standing order 126.
– That is the veryone under which I am proceeding. I am not discussing the dismissal of Stone.
– Surely it is essentially the same question. The standing order reads -
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded-
It is quite true that no decision was arrived at. No decision is generally arrived at on motions of this sort.
– Never can be.
– Such a motion can be if pressed to a division, but that is not usually done. I am not now giving a definite decision upon the point. I should like to hear reasons for and against the idea that is in my mind. But I call attention to the point that if we can discuss a particular matter on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate once or twice, we can discuss it a dozen times.
– At any rate, I submit that the grossest injustice might be done if that were the procedure.
– Oh, no.
– I have no other opportunity of bringing the matter forward.
– I cannot help that.
– The honorable senator can make it the subject of a definite motion.
– Surely the honorable senator can see that we ought not to discuss the same matter twice over.
– The standing order which ,you have quoted, sir, specifically refers to a . question which has been “ resolved.”
– No doubt.
– This question has not been “ resolved.” You say that it is substantially the same question as was previously discussed, but I think there is a great deal of difference between the two. There is as much difference between the case submitted to-day and that submitted last June as there is between the case for the plaintiff in a law suit and the case for the defendant. In this matter the case for the plaintiff was brought forward in June. I am now seeking to answer it. Surely there is the widest possible distinction between an accusation and the reply to it.
– That is only a different aspect of the same question.
– But surely it is so different an aspect that it cannot be substantially the same.
– It is the same question ; I do not say that it is the same aspect.
– You have referred to the practice of the Senate, but I do not suppose that such a case has ever risen before. Therefore, with great respect, I submit that a question, of practice cannot be involved.
– I do not think that such a question has arisen before.
– Then you will pardon me for suggesting that there is no question of practice.
– There is no question of practice, but there is a question of principle; and it is a rule of Parliament that the same question cannot be discussed twice over.
– If you have made up your mind, sir, it is of no’ use for me to discuss the matter further, but if such a rule is to apply, charges may be recklessly made, and there may be the gravest misrepresentations and misapprehensions, without there being any right of reply, except on a specific motion, which there is a very small chance of having discussed. There may be a most serious denial of justice. Persons who have been wronged by the publication of charges that have no foundation in fact may have no opportunity to state their defence.
– There has been plenty of time since June.
– Exactly; but there has been no attempt on the part of Ministers to fulfil their promise made in the Senate. I have nothing more to say. There is certainly no standing order on the point except the one which distinctly refers to questions that have been resolved in the affirmative or the negative. I take it that if this sort of thing were likely to occur frequently, it would be gravely unfortunate, but I suggest that such a question is not likely to arise twice in a session. It is scarce v likely that charges will be made which have not been the subject of inquiry, and have not been cleared up, and that it will be necessary again to do what I am doing now - seeking to reply to them in the only manner that apparently the circumstances of the Senate at the present time afford any opportunity for. I hope that I shall be allowed to complete the exposition that I desire to put before honorable senators, and through the public journals to the country, in respect of persons who are suffering a very grievous wrong by reason of representations made with respect to them.
– Is not the principle underlying our standing order this - that if the Senate has discussed a matter and come to a decision, the question shall not be revived during the same session; that is to say, that no attempt shall be made to bring forward again any motion which will have the effect of upsetting the decision of, the Senate ? This is a matter, however, on which there has been no decision.
– No decision is ever come to on a motion for the adjournment.
– Then it seems to me that standing order 126 cannot apply to motions for the adjournment. But I point out that even a motion for the adjournment of the Senate can be pressed. I have known a division to be taken on such a motion.
– That would not be a determination of the question at issue.
– That being so, it seems to me that the standing order quoted cannot apply to motions for the adjournment. But, as far as motions for the adjournment give effect to or decide any question, it would apply if such a motion were pressed to a division and actually carried. I remember at least one motion for the adjournment of the Senate to an unreasonable hour, though I do not recollect why that motion was submitted. If an honorable senator desires to bring something of the nature of a charge against the Government, perhaps the only way he can do so is to carry such a motion against the wish of the Government ; and that has actually been done. In such a case, I should say that, as nearly as possible, the Senate has resolved something, namely, that the Senate should adjourn to an unusual hour, the expressed object being to censure and defeat the Government. In the case of a motion for adjournment which is discussed and then withdrawn, I should say that nothing is resolved either in the affirmative or the negative. In tile discussion of motions for the adjournment of the Senate, in order that grievances may be ventilated, both speeches and the time allotted to the debate are limited, and it may be that the question is not fully debated when the time limit expires. The reason for permitting this form of approaching the Senate is to afford opportunity to discuss matters of urgent public importance, and it seems to me that if a motion for adjournment is talked out, nothing is done to rectify the particular grievance.
– Will the honorable senator kindly take his seat. I may say that I am considerably impressed by the arguments used, and it seems to me that standing order 126 clearly does not apply, because the motion to which I referred was withdrawn, and, therefore, there is no resolution of the Senate on the question. The Standing Orders do not provide for a case like this.
– They ought to
– I think they ought I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that Senator Neild may continue his speech, because there is no standing order against his doing so. At this late period of the session I am not going to lay down a new practice, when the question is one to be decided by the Senate in the Standing Orders.
– The letter of the managing director to Stone is dated the 1 6th January, and it points out that the evidence of the latter implied a very serious reflection against the management, and a charge of dishonesty against the foreman, and concluded with the words -
As the foreman desires an inquiry, I shall be obliged if you will furnish me with proof of your statement at your earliest convenience.
On the 20th January Stone replied, throwing the whole onus on the union, of which he was secretary. He said -
I beg to inform you that your communication will be placed before a meeting of my members on the 13th proximo -
Just as if the union had anything to do with what was alleged to be a slanderous statement ! after which, the decision of the union will be forwarded to you.
That is most extraordinary. But how did the union act? The union threw the man over; and this was before the matter was brought under the notice of the Senate. Either the facts were not placed before the Senate as they ought to havebeen, or Senator Pearce wasnot properly informed; at least, there was a grave misapprehension, if not an actual and deliberate misrepresentation of’ the facts. I do not say that there was any misrepresentation on the part of Senator Pearce, but there was on the part of some one, known or unknown. Four days later the proprietary replied to Stone, and pointed out that he did not appear to understand the matter - that it was a question of grave consequence to the foreman, and could not be allowed to rest, because if the latter were guilty, he was not fit to hold his position. That letter proceeded -
The matter of your consulting the members of your union does not necessarily concern me. As you made the charge I look to you to prove it, and, while I am giving you every opportunity of consulting your members, I cannot consent to such an unreasonable length of time as asked for, seeing your members are available at a day’s notice.
I must, therefore, request that you send me, by not later than 30th inst, areply of such a character as will enable immediate inquiry to be made.
There were no threats. Stone was simply asked to substantiate his charges, and give such information as he could, so that it might be ascertained whether a fraud had been perpetrated by one set of employes against another. Mr. Shaw, the manager, added a postscript -
I have acquainted the foreman in question, so that he may know the cause of the delay.
Stone replied on the 26th January, as follows : -
Re evidence (on oath) given by me by direction of my union before the Royal Commission. Sir,
Yours of the 24th duly to hand, and I beg to inform you that I am directed by my executive to call a special meeting of the members for’ Monday, 29th inst., and will immediately inform you of the result of same.
I respectfully desire to remind you that the union has been desirous for a long time of your affording them an opportunity of proving the charges made by their delegates.
Here we have an assertion that the union desired totake up the matter. Stone wrote a further letter on the 30th January -
I have the honour,by direction of the members of the above union, to respectfully inform you that at their special meeting, held on the 29th inst, it was decided that a deputation of three members of our union working for your company be appointed, and that said deputation be accompanied by our solicitor and our shorthand writer, so that all witnesses can be called and examined, and a record taken of their evidence.
Trusting the above will meet with your approval. An answer at your earliest convenience will greatly oblige.
In reply to your letter of yesterday, Mr. Shaw, to whom your letter is addressed, is away this afternoon, and has instructed me to say that he will be pleased to appoint Friday next, 2nd prox., at 2 p.m., when he will be prepared to receive the gentlemen named at this office.
Where is there the least trace of bullying ? Every offer was made to induce the man to give such information as would enablethe proprietary to take action in the interests of all the persons engaged in the factory. On the2nd February Mr. Beeby, who is the solicitor to the union, called on Mr. Shaw, together with Stone and three other men named Lilley, Crapps, and Marchant, the two latter being also employes in the factory. Where is there any trace of illtreatment, when we find Stone received under these circumstances? A conversation took place, a note of which was taken in shorthand and transcribed. I shall not read the transcription, but the effect is that an arrangement was made for an inquiry to be held before a barrister of the Supreme Court. The following are a few short extracts from the transcript : -
Mr. Beeby. I will leave it with any creditable barrister, such as Messrs. Kelynack, Shand, or J. L. Campbell, or Judge Heydon, or you can perhaps suggest names?
Mr. Shaw. Well, you and I can arrange that. We do not want to land you in any more expense than necessary. We had an arbitration case once before, and were rather surprised at the cost.
Later on -
Mr. Beeby. Perhaps you had better leave the matter with Mr. Simpson; he knows the gentlemen I have named. I think the President of the Arbitration Court would conduct an inquiry like this in Chambers.
Mr. Shaw. We can see what Mr. Simpson says.
Mr. Simpson is the solicitor for the proprietary company. Then Mr. Dixson, anotherof the proprietors, said -
If Stone proves these charges Lawrence must go, or, if the other way about, Stone must go.
Mr. Dixson referred to the foreman. Where is there any intimidation or ill-usage of Stone?
Mr. Shaw. Lawrence cannot rest under the charge. When a man deliberately states that such a thing was done he must speak from absolute knowledge. If he had said it looked “fishy,” it would be different. The charge was one against a foreman of downright dishonesty..
Mr. Beeby. I will get into touch with Mr. Simpson.
We would like it as soon as possible, as the men have been chaffing Lawrence in the factory, and we want to clear him if possible.
After some weeks’ delay, much to the astonishment of the Tobacco Company, the solicitor to the union wrote a letter declining to have anything more to do with the matter. The following is the letter : -
Brown and Beeby to Minter, Simpson, and Co., dated 27th February, 1906.
Re Tobacco Workers’ Union. - In reference to the proposed inquiry as to the statements made by Mr. Stone before the Royal Commission, we have been instructed to inform you that the union have consulted members of the Commission on the matter -
That is a nice aspect. This is the letter written by the union solicitor after he had agreed to an inquiry before a barrister or a Judge of the Supreme Court - and on further reflection decline to be parties to any inquiry into the truth or otherwise of. the statements made. They contend that if Mr. Stone in his evidence before the Commission made any false statements, the company has its remedy by instituting a prosecution for perjury. On any such prosecution the facts would be tried by a Judge and jury, and Mr. Stone is quite prepared to meet, and courts, any such prosecution.
Minter and Simpson replied on the 2nd March -
We acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 27th ult., and note what you say. The proposal to submit the question as to whether the statements made by Mr. Stone were justified or not to an independent tribunal was made by our clients with the view to giving Mr, Stone every opportunity of substantiating his statement. We take it from your letter now under reply that neither Mr. Stone or the union to which he belongs intend to avail themselves of the offer.
A further letter was written to Brown and Beeby on the 8th March, as follows: -
Dear Sirs, - Re Stone. We duly communicated the contents of your letter of the 27th ult. to our clients, and they naturally have expressed a considerable amount of surprise that the arrangement which was made on most definite terms should not now be carried out owing to the reasons indicated in yourletter above referred to.
Our clients, we think you will admit, have evidenced a sincere desire to have the facts sifted by an absolutely independent person with the full conviction that the attitude which they have taken up is the correct one. We presume that the members of the Tobacco Commission have been consulted in this matter in their official capacity. Our clients ask us to again urge the Union to carry out the arrangement arrived at in the interests of all concerned.
Minter, Simpson, and Co.
To that no reply has been received from Stone or his union.
– Since what date?
– Since the date of that letter, 8th March, 1906.
– Letters have been sent by Stone to the company since that date.
– Certainly. I am coming to that. So far about the inquiry. On the 6th June the company wrote to Stone, -whom they were employing all this time - from January to June. There was no dismissal, because they were only too anxious to get at the facts of the case. They wrote: -
Dear Sir, - You are aware that the opportunity offered you of proving the charge of dishonest practices, made in your statement before the Royal Commission, was brought to a standstill by your solicitors, Messrs. Brown and Beeby, stating in their letter of 27th February that the Union, on further reflection, declined to be parties to any inquiry into the truth or otherwise of the statements made, and suggesting that the company had recourse by instituting a prosecution against you for perjury.
The matter was allowed to stand in abeyance pending the arbitration case, when we fully expected that this charge would have been again brought up, seeing how important a bearing it had on the question of the economy in wrappers as between men and women.
You did, at the Arbitration Court, repeat the charge originally made before the Royal Commission, and this time went so far as to mention names in support of your evidence, but beyond your own bald statement no witness was called, nor evidence whatever produced.
Seeing the enormous advantage such evidence would have been to your party during the recent proceedings, it is not to be conceived that your legal advisers would have failed in producing it, and so we are forced into the belief that they also gave no credence to your statements.
Our duty, therefore, first to Mr. Lawrence, the foreman, whom we consider you have so grossly wronged, is that you shall make reparation to him in the form of an approved apology ; for had your charge been proven he would have lost his situation ; and secondly, an equal apology to ourselves, whom you have endeavoured to hold up to public discredit.
At the close of the Arbitration Court proceedings we expected that you would probably tender an apology, and we have delayed writing in consequence. (Signed) W. E. Shaw,
There is no threat there. Surely it is a fair thing that his employers should write such a letter to an employe” who had made such statements. Stone replied on the 7th June : -
Sir, - I have the honour, by direction of my Union, to respectfully acknowledge the receipt of your letter bearing yesterday’s date. In reference to Messrs. Brown and Beeby’s letter of the 27th February last, I would with all due respect point out that the Union only acted on the advice of those members of the Royal Commission that they saw.
I respectfully ask you, sir, to look over the report of the Royal Commission, and you will find therein that I said as follows : - That I had in my possession two statutory declarations, sworn to by two of your employes. They were working for the B.A.T. Co. during the foremanship of Messrs. Newman and Lawrence, and during the alleged test. Every evening, from June to September, the female returns were brought and mixed in with the wrapper leaf which the men had to work next day.
That I had been informed by two other of your employes to the same effect. I have never stated from my own knowledge that the act you complain of had been done.
As soon as it is decided what is to be done I will immediately inform you of same.
These alleged declarations have never been produced. What have been produced are other declarations, which did not come from workmen in the employ of the firm, but from two boys, who had formerly been in the employ of the firm. I have already pointed out clearly that Stone did make these statements on his own authority in the first instance, and that he tried to tone them down afterwards. The company replied to him on the 9th June: -
Dear Sir, - We this morning have your letter of 7th inst., in reply to ours of the day previous.
Your endeavouring to explain away your position by saying YOU were acting under advice of certain members of the Royal Commission does not, it seems to us, have any bearing on the case, which is very simple. You, in the witness box, before the Royal Commission, made certain very gross and damaging statements against the foreman and ourselves. You had every opportunity of proving them - 1st, at the Royal Commission ; 2nd, at our invitation, which you through your solicitors positively declined; 3rd, at the recent arbitration proceedings.
Having failed to even make an attempt at establishing your charge, one which, as we have already stated, if proved would have meant the immediate discharge of the foreman concerned, we demanded an apology, and shall be glad to hear your intentions as early as possible.
Remember we are dealing with a case of alleged terrorism of a witness. After waiting for nine days they wrote to Stone again on the 1 8th June to this effect: -
Dear Sir, - Having failed to conform to our request, as again stated in our letter to you of 9th inst., and to which letter you have not even replied, there remains now no other course open to us than to inform you that your services are 110 longer required, and you will please accept this notice as your discharge from the factory.
Your work will be weighed off to lunch time to-day. (Signed) W. E. Shaw,
Where is the proof of dismissal because of the evidence which Stone gave? It is a dismissal at the end of more than six months, because he would not support his allegations, apologize for them, withdraw them, or express any kind of regret. What was to be done with a man whotook up that attitude? What would the Senate do if one of its officers defamed it or any member of it, and then refused to make any withdrawal, retraction, or apology?
– The time allotted to the honorable senator has expired.
– I should like to ask the leave of the Senate to occupy five minutes more in finishing my remarks.
– If I can do so under the Standing Orders I am prepared to move for an extension of time for the honorable senator.
– That could not be done under the Standing Orders. An extension of time can only be granted by leave of the Senate, but if once we adopt this practice, of what use will it be to have such a standing order at all?
– There is the protection that the objection of one honorable senator will prevent an extension of time.
– I put it to the Senate that Senator Neild have leave to continue his remarks for another five minutes ?
– I thank the Senate. Three days later, after the notification of discharge, namely, on the 21st June, the matter was brought before the Senate. In addition to the declaration by Mr. Stone, Senator Pearce, who brought the matter under our notice, read two declarations purporting to be made by Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett, two boys who at one time had been in the employment of the company. Herington’s declaration is dated 10th December, 1904, and was therefore two years old. Bartlett’s declaration was dated 19th June, 1906, two days before Senator Pearce moved the adjournment of the Senate. Neither of these persons was in the employ of the company at the time. They were a couple of boys who had left the employment of the company some time before.
– Were they not in. the employ of the company at the time to which Stone refers?
SenatorCol. NEILD. - No, they were not. I can give the honorable senator the dates when I speak in reply. It will not be introducing new matter if the point is contested. Then a Mr. Chamberlain appears on the scene. In his evidence before the Arbitration Court, Stone said that the alleged fraud of the foreman was detected by Mr. Chamberlain, one of the oldest hands in the factory, and he drew Mr. Carroll’s attention to it. Mr. Chamberlain, who is in the employ of the company now, on the 19th June, 1906, two days before Senator Pearce brought the matter before the Senate, wrote this letter to Mr. Weeks and I direct the special attention of honorable senators to it.
Sir, -Onthemorningofthe 19th, about 10.30, GeorgeCarroll came to me and said that Jimmy Stone received a letter from Mr. Pearce, and said to me that our evidence was wanted, and I said what evidence. He said about throwing fillers into our wrapper leaf. I said, no, I don’t. He said, yes, you do. I told him again that I did not. He said you are only backing and filling because there are only the two of us. He said that I called Jimmy’s attention to it on the morning he went to the Commission. I told him I did no such thing.
P.S. - I knew that was wrong, because I was not on speaking terms with Stone on the morning of the Commission. [ am advised that this letter was written by Mr. Chamberlain without any prompting or suggestion from the officers of the company. The very phraseology of the letter prohibits the idea that it was a putup job.
– Who mentioned Mr. Chamberlain ?
– In support of what he said in his voluntary letter, Mr. Chamberlain has made a statutory declaration, a copy of which I have here, in which he substantiates in legal phrase what he has expressed in so rough-and-ready a manner in his letter.
– Will the honorable senator say who mentioned Mr.Chamberlain? He has said that he was mentioned in one of the declarations, but his name does not appear in either.
– Stone alleged before the Arbitration Court that Chamberlain was connected with this matter. I regret that, owing to the expiration of the time allowed me, I am unable to pursue the matter further.
– I defy Senator Neild orany other member of the Senate to read the speech I made in moving the adjournment on a previous occasion, and say that, on my own responsibility, I made any charges whatever against the company? I was careful to point out that I was putting before the Senate the case submitted to me, and all J asked was that the Government should look into the matter and say whether they thought the case was one in connexion with which a prosecution or an inquiry should follow, because of the alleged discharge of an employe on account of the evidence he had given before a Royal Commission. So far as. the case now stands, I say that I have not in the Senate or outside of it endeavoured in any way to block an inquiry. On the other hand, I have repeatedly asked the Government if they would take action in . the matter, and, as honorable senators must be aware from the replies I have received, I was told in each case that the Government had not yet come to a decision on the matter. I am in no way responsible for that. As regards the statements which have been made here by Senator Neild this morning, I wish te say that if Mr. Shaw was anxious for an inquiry into this matter, it must be admitted that he wanted an inquiry of his own making, because both Mr. Shaw and Mr. Weeks attended the sitting of the Commission when Stone made his statement, and they had an opportunity of being recalled if they wished, and’ of replying to the statements made by Stone.
– The honorable senator knows that at that time the matter had not assumed a serious aspect.
– It has assumed as serious an aspect as it wears to-day, because the question raised was as to the relative superiority of male and female labour in a particular department. I take it that the object of Stone’s evidence was to show that it was not a fair test. It was given within the hearing of Mr. Weeks and Mr. Shaw, and,’ in order to prove that they did realize its importance from their point of view, let me point out that the brief, which evidently has been made out by the company, and which Senator Neild has been quoting, contains a statement that after thev left the room thev “had an altercation with Mr. Stone in the passage. He returned to the room and said to me - “ I have been intimidated.” I said - “The Commission has ended its sitting for to-day. If you have been in timidated you must come up and make your complaint to-morrow morning when we resume.” Mr. Shaw and Mr. Weeks could have been called then had they wished to bring evidence in rebuttal, but they did not ask to be called for the purpose. At the following meeting, however, Mr. Shaw asked me to call, in Melbourne, Mr. Wilkins, the managing superintendent of both the Sydney and Melbourne factories, and I agreed to do so. It is very significant that, although in his evidence Mr. Wilkins actually referred to Mr. Stone, yet he gave no rebutting evidence. Speaking about the question of wages in his evidence, Mr. Wilkins said - 7364. By Senator Gray. - Those are the wages under exceptional conditions? - Yes. I gave them the option of going off the “ twist “ in order that they might fill in their time by wrapping flat tobacco. Some of the men took advantage of that, and’ others did not. 7365. I asked Mr. Stone, when he was giving evidence in Sydney, whether the reason, why the women were put on in place of men in connexion with covering was not because Dixson’s asked the permission of the union to be allowed to employ a certain number of apprentices, and the union declined te do so. Mr. Stone said that no such request was made? - I understood that Dixson’s did apply at that time through the union for more men (flat coverers we call them, the others we call twisters). The union had no more men, as we had absorbed them in the factory, and then something was said about apprentices, but they would not allow that. Therefore we had to put on women. That was the first introduction of women into the Sydney factory.
– Has this any .bearing on the question of intimidation?
– I intend to put my case in my own way. I am showing that the company had ample opportunity, if it wished, to get an inquiry into that special subject. It was not pursued. Although a subsequent witness was put up to reply to Mr. Stone, yet it was not referred to. The matter was again raised before the Arbitration Court, where Mr. Stone, in addition to repeating his evidence before the Royal Commission, produced two sworn declarations, .which may be seen on page 499 of Hansard of this session. If the company were concerned about the charges, why did it not then bring evidence to rebut them in a Court which consisted of a Judge, with an employers’ representative and an employe’s’ representative. Surely that was a fair tribunal !
– The question of intimidation never came before that Court.
– I am pointing out the strange desire for an inquiry which was developed subsequently. Although all the material for a fair inquiry was then available, yet the question was not raised. But Mr. Shaw wanted an inquiry of his own making. He wished to induce Mr. Stone to make the same statements in a different position, and Mr. Shaw negotiated with Mr. Stone and the union over the matter. The Royal Commission was not consulted as to an inquiry. In Melbourne, just before the hour of meeting, Mr. Stone came to me and said - “The company is asking for an inquiry of its own making. What would you do if you were in my position ?”. “ Well,” I said, “ you have made your statement before the Royal Commission, and repeated it before the’ Arbitration Court. If it is untrue an action will lie against you for perjury. The company did not ask for an inquiry before the Royal Commission or the Arbitration Court. It might have said that the former is a political tribunal, but it could not make that statement regarding the latter. It was not prepared to take up an inquiry before the Arbitration Court, and, were I in your position, I would not submit to any inquiry. It is a matter for yourself. I do not make this statement to you as Chairman of the Commission.” That is all that transpired. So much for the advice of the Royal Commission. The question of intimidation arises in this way : that the company could have had an impartial inquiry if it had been required before the’ Arbitration Court, if it thought that the Royal Commission was not an impartial body. The same charge, backed up by sworn declarations, was made by Mr. Stone before that Court, as Mr. Shaw admits in his letters. But the company did not avail itself of that opportunity.
– There is no intimidation in all this.
– Because this witness, acting on the advice of his union, would not agree to the special inquiry which was desired, he was discharged. That is where the intimidation came in.
– No. He was discharged simply because he would neither withdraw nor prove his statement, and quite rightly too.
– On the 18th June, Mr. Stone received from Mr. Shaw, man aging director of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company, the following letter : -
Dear Sir, - Having failed to conform to our request, as again stated in our letter to you of 9th inst., and to which letter you have not even replied, there remains now no other course open to us than to inform you that your services are no longer required, and you will please accept this notice as your discharge from the factory.
Your work will be weighed off to lunch time to-day.
That is, that he would not submit the matter to the inquiry which Mr. Shaw desired.
– No ; that he would not withdraw nor support his statement.
– He was discharged because he would not submit to their form of inquiry nor withdraw his charge.
– The question before the Senate is the alleged intimidation. That never was or never could have been brought before the Arbitration Court.
– There could be no intimidation when Mr. Stone was still employed by the company. The act of intimidation was in discharging him because he would not agree to the inquiry which Mr. Shaw wanted.
– That is not the question before the Senate.
– The question of the inquiry is bound up with the charge which Mr. Stone made before the Royal Commission, and which he supported’ before the Arbitration “Court with sworn declarations..
– No; he did not produce them. He backed down, and said that it was hearsay.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that it is not regular to refer to former debates of the same session.
– I am only referring to a letter from Mr. Shaw to Mr. Stone.
– Of course, the honorable senator can read a letter wherever he gets it.
– A letter dated 7th June, from Mr. Shaw to Mr. Stone, contains this paragraph -
You did, at the Arbitration Court, repeat the charge originally made before the Royal Commission, and this time went so far as to mention names in support of your evidence, but beyond your own bald statement no witness was called, nor evidence whatever produced.
The names given were those of men who Mr. Stone said were in the employ of the company when the unfairness alleged took place, and whom it could still produce. Why did it not produce Mr. Chamberlain, whose name we hear for the first time to-day, before the Arbitration Court to show that he had not seen the thing done?
– Because the company did not know anything about his knowledge.
– Does the company allege that the Arbitration Court is not a fair tribunal?
– To hear a charge of intimidation ?
– No; to hear a charge of mixing leaf.
– What did the honorable senator bring before the Senate - a charge of intimidation, or a charge of mixing the leaf?
– Mr. Shaw has not asked for an inquiry as regards mixing the leaf.
– The honorable senator has, but the Ministry will not grant an inquiry.
– That is the complaint to-day.
– The complaint is made that this matter should not have been brought forward, because Mr. Stone would not submit himself to an inquiry.
– That is not the fact at all.
– The honorable senator said that it should not have been mentioned.
– I have said nothing of the kind, and I object to this infamous misrepresentation.
– The honorable senator tried to place Mr. Stone in an unfair position, by alleging that he would not submit to a fair inquiry, meaning that he would not submit to the inquiry which Mr. Shaw wanted.
– This is really too disgraceful.
– I must have order. Senator Neild has the right of reply.
– Senator Neild has so large a vocabulary that I expect to hear such interjections from him. The charges which he has made against Mr. Stone are not warranted.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– My few remarks will be limited to what transpired in the Senate, when the matter was first introduced by Senator Pearce. As the result of the debate, the leader of the Senate said, “ Personally, I promise “-
– The honorable senator must not refer to a former debate of this session.
– I am not quoting from a former debate of this session. 1 have not even a copy of Hansard. Surely I can quote from my recollection, what the Minister said?
– No. The honorable senator will see that the standing order is precise. It says that a senator must not refer to a former debate of the same session. What can I do but rule as I have done ?
– All I want to do is to refer to a statement made by the Minister here. I do not want to misquote him. I do not even want to try to quote him. Surely I may be permitted to say, in his presence, that, so far as my recollection serves me, he then gave a promise that he would have an inquiry made and report to the Senate.
– That is quite legitimate, but I understood that the honorable senator wished to quote the Minister’s speech.
– I know the standing order, and do not wish to break it. I repeat that, on account of Senator Playford’s promise, very fairly made, that he would have an inquiry. and subsequently furnish a report to theSenate, I am justified in making these statements. Now what are the facts as to the inquiry ? All that we know at present - and I speak subject to correction by Senator Playford - is that he referred the matter to the AttorneyGeneral. I have a copy of the Aittorney-General’s letter contained in a letter signed by the Secretary for External Affairs, Mr. Atlee Hunt, written under the direction of the Prime Minister. I will read it : -
Sir, - I have the honour, by direction of the Prime Minster, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the17th inst., addressed to Senator Playford, with reference to the case of Jas. Stone, a former employe of your company, and to inform you in reply that the matter was referred to the Attorney-General, who finds as follows : - “ From the facts as stated it would prima facie appear that Stone had been treated harshly and unjustly.”
I, will offer a word of criticism there. The Attorney-General states “ from the facts as stated.” The only facts that could have been before the Attorney-General at the time were the facts contained in what Senator Pearce will readily admit was an ex parte statement. It does not reflect much credit upon the Attorney-General that he should give a judicial decision on an ex parte statement made by one who was,so to speak, the prosecutor. The letter goes on - “ The company may be able to show that this conclusion is not correct.”
The company has had no chance. “ Still, the testimony which Stone gave - namely, that he had been informed that certain things had been done - appears, so far as there is any evidence at all, to be proved. Whether or not the information is correct is another matter; but it has been declared to on oath by Herington and Bartlett - who, I understand, are still in the company’s employ - and it was not contradicted in evidence before the Royal Commission, although full opportunity existed for doing so. Stone was called on to substantiate his statements at an inquiry to be held by the company - who would be at once prosecutor, judge, and jury.
No more disgraceful statement could have been madeby any man, let alone an AttorneyGeneral, than that. It is most discreditable - it is almost infamous - that the Attorney-General, if he knew the facts - and certainly he ought to have known some of the facts before he wrote this letter - should have said that the proposed tribunal suggested by this man Stone, or rather by the union’s secretary, Beeby, was a trial in which the company would be prosecutor, judge, and jury. I cannot help saying, whatever the merits of this case are, that such a statement as this, made by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, deserves to be stigmatized in the strongest possible language. The fact is not disputed by Senator Pearce or any one else - that the proposal was made by the union’s own solicitors to have these matters tried by such a tribunal.
– No, the proposal came from the company.
– That is not true.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not make a statement like that.
– I say that the proposal was made by the company.
– It was agreed toby the company.
– I am only trying to put the facts.
– The honorable senator is not putting them, anyhow.
– Surely itwill be admitted, at any rate, that if by any chance the proposal did not originate with the solicitors of the union, it was concurred in by them. The question of origination does not matter at all, I venture to say. So far as I am informed, it was originated by the union’s solicitors ; but it does not matter so long as they agreed - and upon that point I am quite certain - that a reference should be made to one of four persons named, independent lawyers outside Parliament, and outside any immediate connexion with the case. To propose such a tribunal was to propose a body as fair and as impartial as could be secured. But that method was stigmatized by this Attorney -General as a tribunal which would be at once prosecutor, judge, and jury. No more infamous statement has ever been made.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what the object of the letter was? Was it not for the purpose of obtaining a reply from the company so that if any of the statements made were not accurate it could point them out?
– I am willing to assume that that was so.
– I suppose that it is a letter from the Attorney-General to the company, but I have never seen it myself.
– It purports to be from the Attorney-General to the managing director of the company purporting to fulfil Senator Playford’s own promise that an inquiry would be made, and a report given to the Senate. If it had not that object in view I utterly fail to see how the AttorneyGeneral could interpose. I have assumed that the Attorney-General, did interpose, and sent this letter as the result of Senator Playford’s request to him to inquire into the case. If that be not so, how can Senator Playford say that he has redeemed his promise given in the Senate that he would have an inquiry made, and furnish a report?
– So I have done.I sent the matter on to’ the Attorney-General, and that is all I know. But with what object was the letter sent to the AttorneyGeneral? That is what I want to know. Was it not to elicit facts?
– I am not going to deal with the matter at further length.
I am not blaming Senator Playford if he considers that he has discharged his duty and redeemed the promise that he made to the Senate, when he said that he would have an inquiry made and a report produced. Are we to take it that this letter of the Attorney-General was the beginning and end of the whole report? If that be the case I do say that such a report is disgraceful to the author of it. I am certain that Senator Playford would himself, with his sense of fairness, accept no responsibility for a letter couched in such terms.
– - I merely desire to say that I did what I promised to do in this matter. I referred the case to the Attorney-General, asked him to look into the facts, and to furnish a report. 1 know nothing about the letter to which Senator demons has alluded, and which appears to be signed, notby the AttorneyGeneral, but by the Secretary for the Prime Minister’s Department. It appears, as far as I can gather, that some inquiry has been made, and I think that we might wait until the Attorney-General has had an opportunity to investigate the facts before discussing the matter in the Senate.
– May I interrupt the honorable senator topoint out that the letter says “ I have to inform you that the matter was referred to the AttorneyGeneral.” I have told the Senate what the Attorney-General thought about it. That is theposition.
– All that I have to add is the information that I have received from the Attorney-General. within the last few minutes. When the discussion commenced, I immediately made inquiries as to what had taken place, and I am informed that the Attorney -General, owing to pressure of work, has not been able to complete his investigations.
– He has made none.
– The letter’ quoted by Senator Clemons appears to start with the assumption that the AttorneyGeneral has considered the matter, and has come to a certain conclusion. I cannot understand it. All that I know is that immediately after the discussion commenced to-day, I wanted to know what the AttorneyGeneral had done, and made an inquiry. I think it would have been much better to wait until his report was received. I have urged him to prepare a report, and can do no more. I am not going to discuss the question further on the present occasion.
– The keen and exceedingly paternal interest which certain honorable senators are manifesting in that monopolistic monster, the tobacco combine, seems rather strange. The bulky brief that Senator Neild holds is evidently one that has been furnishedto him by the combine, but, after all his efforts, I do not think that he has made out avery good case on behalf of his clients. Mr. Stone did state before the Royal Commission, in answer to a statement made by persons interested in the combine, that women in the factory were more economical than men, but he also asserted on oath that some of the small leaf rejected by the women was placed amongst the material to be worked upon by the men, and that this was done by the foreman. That statement was repeated before the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, and after it was repeated, the members of the combine called upon him either to prove his case or to apologize. In brief, they said to Stone, holding a revolver at his head, We will shoot you out of this place if you do not do as we tell you.”
– The letters contradict that ridiculous assertion.
– The combine had every opportunity of contradicting it before the Royal Commission. They had every opportunity to reply to the statements of Stone before the Arbitration Court. They also had every opportunity to prosecute Stone for perjury. But they did not take that course, because they knew that they had very flimsy grounds to proceed upon. Instead, they took action, the result of which was that this man’s livelihood was taken from him.
– Why did the union not back him up?
– People will back this man up, and see that he gets justice; and care will be taken that this combine shall not, in this young land of ours, do what its twin brothers are doing in the United States and the United Kingdom. This combine, which honeycombs the industry. almost throughout the world, has no consideration whatever for humanitarian organizations. For a considerable number of years trade unions have fought this organization in the United States, but had been defeated; and now the combine will not employ a man or woman who is a member of a union. Further, the combine has carried on a crusade against trade union organization in the United Kingdom.
– Does the honor-‘ able senator think that he is discussing the question before the Senate?
– I think so. It is because of its dislike to trade union organization that the combine is presenting its case before lis to-day. I am of opinion that every word stated by Mr. Stone is correct, and that he would be quite prepared and content to abide by the decision of a fair, impartial tribunal, but not such a tribunal as that proposed by the members of the combine. The combine has a very great regard for women, simply because their labour is cheaper than that of men; and, according to reports, it has, in this connexion, for a considerable time, taken action which has irritated and harassed the men. The case under notice is only a further evidence of the many things that have been done in connexion with the large employment of women. The statement made by Senator Neild is simply ex parte.
– And sprung upon us without notice.
– Almost without notice. What we had this morning is a brief for the combine, and Senator Neild apparently has given no consideration to the statement made bv Stone, or to the evidence given before the Royal Commission. In my opinion, Senator Pearce did the proper thing in having this matter ventilated in the Senate, and I, at any rate, should not be satisfied with any inquiry other than one which would meet with the approval of the men, and, at the same time, do justice to the persons against whom the accusations are made.
.- I can hardly understand the objections of Senators Findley and Pearce to the motion submitted by Senator Neild, Considering that the latter complains that the inquiry asked for by Senator Pearce - and asked for by Senator Neild - and promised by Senator Playford, is not being pressed forward. No one connected with the combine ever asked for an inquiry ; it was Senator Pearce who sought to move the machinery of government to that end.
– Hear, hear, and I Still ask for an inquiry.
– Then why does Senator Pearce object to Senator Neild seeking to force the Government “ to carry out what Senator Pearce desires?
– I object to the statements made by Senator Neild.
– I am not dealing with the statements made by Senator Neild.
– I am.
– Senator Pearce has dealt with a great many statements not made here, and I admit the ingenuity which introduces into this debate matters which have no possible bearing on the question. Senators Pearce and Findley have introduced the question of whether trickery was resorted to in connexion with the trial made in the factory. That was a proper subject for the Royal Commission to inquire into, or it might have been a proper subject for the Arbitration Court ; but it was never brought before” the Senate on a former occasion. Senator Pearce’s demand for an inquiry rested on statements - ex parte, as is frankly admitted - that intimidation had been resorted to in the case of a Royal Commission witness. If the question had been merely whether trickery had been resorted to in the factory, Senator Pearce would have scouted the idea of asking for an inquiry by the Government. Senator Pearce’s whole case rested on the charge that an attempt had been made to intimidate a witness; but on the present occasions, Senators Pearce and Findley have been eloquently silent on that point. They have sought to confuse the issue by referring to allegations of trickery and malpractice in the factory. Senator Pearce was Chairman of the Royal Commission, but he evidently did not think it his proper function to bring this question of trickery before the Senate, and ask for an inquiry. What he very properly said was that he believed the witness had been intimidated, and that, in his opinion, there ought to be some investigation made.
– The question of intimidation was brought bv Stone before the Royal Commission, and yet Senator Pearce took no action.
– The question of intimidation was not brought before the Royal Commission.
– Time is too short to permit us to unravel all these matters.
Senator Pearce alleged that a witness’ had been intimidated, and the Government promised to make inquiries; and’ now Senator Neild complains that that inquiry has not been pressed. Senator Pearce should have been the first to have thanked Senator Neild for assisting him to obtain justice.
– I referred to Senator Neild’s misstatements.
– I have nothing .to do with those
– I have.
– We are not trying the case here.
– Exactly; the whole point was as to an alleged attempt to intimidate a witness.
– Who is to blame for introducing foreign matter ?
– That has nothing to do with the point. My complaint is that Senator Pearce, instead of welcoming an attempt to press the inquiry, seems to be angry at the motion.
– I am angry at the misstatements made by Senator Neild.
– I made no misstatements, as the honorable senator knows.
– Senator Pearce need not be at all jealous; he is holding his own in that way. It has been frequently stated that the employers in this case had an opportunity to have the matter decided before a proper tribunal. But the question of intimidation never could, and never would, have come before that tribunal. The tribunal to which the union at first agreed was the only one before which the company could have had a fair deal. An agreement was arrived at to appoint one of four gentlemen, but in some mysterious war - I venture to say it was after consultation with members of the Royal Commission - the union withdrew. That was the only impartial tribunal it would have been possible for the employes to have put their case before, and it was rejected, I do not hesitate to say, by the advice of members of the Royal Commission.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [12.8]. - It has been stated that the question of intimidation did not come before the Royal Commission. But, according to the Sydnev Evening News of the 13th January, the witness Stone came before the Royal Commission and com plained that he had been threatened. The newspaper report proceeds : -
– What is it that was said?
Mr. Stone. The statement made was that what I said before the Commission was untrue.
The President did not think that what took place outside had anything to do with the Commission.
– Senator Pearce says that no complaint was made to the Commission.
– And I say so again; what is reported in the newspaper took place before the Commission opened its sitting.
– That newspaper report is an absolute and direct contradiction of Senator Pearce’s statement.
– Is it evidence cr a newspaper report?
– Surely such a paragraph could never have been concocted ?
– Will the honorable senator take my statement that what is reported there took place before the Commission opened its sitting in the morning? The matter never came before the Commission.
– At any rate, it came before members of the Commission. What is the use of paltering with words? It has been alleged by the AttorneyGeneral, with the grossest inaccuracy - and it has also been alleged by Senator Findley - that the proposal was to have an inquiry which would have been all in favour of the company. I refer again to the shorthand note of the conversation, between the representatives of the union and the representatives of the company -
Mr. Beeby. If you can see a short way to settle this I shall be pleased. If you can suggest some persons I shall be perfectly satisfied. I will leave it with any creditable barrister, such as Messrs. Kelynack, Shand, or J. L. ‘Campbell, or Judge Heydon, or you can perhaps suggest names.
And yet the Attorney-General has the supreme audacity, and the supreme - but I shall not say what I was going to say - to allege that a proposal made by the union’s own solicitor, suggesting the name of the Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and the names of three barristers in high and honorable practice, was a proposal to get up a tribunal that would be “ prosecutor, judge, and jury.” It is little short of infamy that any officer occupying the high position of a Minister, much less that of Attorney-General, should be guilty of so scandalous a misrepresentation of the truth. I have here the statutory declaration to which I have already referred, and which I said I should read in reply. It is as follows: -
I, Philip Marcus Lawrence, of Botany-street, Waverley, near Sydney, in the State of New South Wales, do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that -
From the and day of March to the end of September, 1904, I was employed bv the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited as foreman of the covering department of the Sydney factory, and am the person referred to in the declarations of Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett made on the 10th day of December, ‘igo4, and the 19th day of June, 1906, respectively.
During the period first above mentioned, I was exclusively employed in the covering department, and was charged with the- supervision of all the coverers employed in the factory, and was responsible for the receipt and distribution of all the wrapper leaf used in that department.
From and after the month of May, 1904, I made careful daily entries of the quantity of wrapper leaf received by me; of the quantity distributed to the female coverers; of the quantity distributed to the male coverers; of the total quantity of unused wrapper leaf returned at the end of the day’s work by the male and female coverers; and of the quantity of scrap (that is the portions of leaf too small to be used for wrapping) returned by the male and female coverers respectively.
I have read in the report of the Parliamentary debates in the Senate, session 1906, copies of the above-mentioned declarations of Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett.
With reference to the declaration of Richard Henry Bartlett, I say that he was not employed by the said company after the 2nd day of May, 1904. During the period of his employment no record ‘of the quantities of wrapper leaf used as between male and female coverers was kept.
With reference to the declaration of Horace Reginald Herington, I say that the said Horace Reginald Herington voluntarily left employment in the said company on the 15th day of September, ‘1904.
I further say that the wrapper leaf returned from the females’ department was always kept in a separate bin, and was returned to them on the next working day. and was always used up before any other wrapper leaf was served out tohem, eexcept that on Saturdays the wrapper leaf returned from the females’ department was sent back to the leaf department. It is untrue as stated in such declaration that every evening when the men knocked off, from June to September, the females’ returns were brought and mixed in with the wrapper leaf which the men had to work the next day.
In addition to the returned wrapper leaf, scrap leaf is returned by both male and female coverers at the end of each day’s wwork. This scrap leaf is, and during the period above mentioned was, weighed by the employe charged with the distribution of the wrapper leaf, and checked by me ; then on the same evening taken to another department, namely, the flavouring department, and there checked by the foreman of that department. The weights above mentioned are, and were carefully checked one with the other, both the foreman of the flavouring department and myself being charged with the quantity of scrap shown in each daily return.
From returns made by me during the above-mentioned periods, I say that the average daily quantity of wrapper leaf served out to the female coverers was as follows : - During the month of June, 1904, 232 lbs. ; July, 1904, 197 lbs. ; August, 1904, 230 lbs. ; September, 1904, 24S lbs; being a daily average during those months of 226J lbs., and not 300 to 350 lbs. per day as stated by Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett.
With reference to the statements made by James Stone in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the I 2th day of January, 1906, I say that a mechanical time register “ is kept in the factory which shows the time each employe enters and leaves the factory. I have examined the record during the month of September, 1904’ and I find that, with the exception of the 26th day of that month, and on Saturdays, the coverers did not knock off work before 4.3a p.m. during such month. I further say that the wrapper-leaf referred to bv the said James Stone was American wrapper-leaf, and that on the 26th day of September above mentioned no American wrapper-leaf was served out to female coverers.
I am the foreman referred to by James Stonein his evidence before the Royal Commission, and I say that it is not true that members of the union used to stay behind, and that they ever caught me bringing the females’ returns and mixing them in with the leaf which the men had to work, so that when they came next morning to start it would be taken as an average.
I never at any time tampered with the leaf intended for use by the male coverers either by mixing returned leaf, whether wrapper or scrap, with it, or in any other way, and I have never been directed in any way to do so. On the contrary, I-say that such a proceeding would be in absolute defiance of my instructions.
And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and bv virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act 1900.- P. M. Lawrence.
Subscribed and declared at Sydney this tenth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and six, before me - James Macintosh.
I have nothing more to say, and I thank the Senate very much for giving me an extension of time to introduce the case.
– You made the statement, in opening, that the company had on various occasions asked the Government to give effect to the promise given by the Minister. I think that should be explained.
– On the 17th July, the company’s managing director, Mr. S-haw, wrote to the Minister of Defence, drawing his attention to the matter brought forward by Senator Pearce, and to the Minister’s promise, and asking for an inquiry. About a month afterwards, he wrote -
As we have not so far been approached, we would like, if possible, to know when it may be convenient for the inquiry to be held, as we are equally desirous of having a thorough investigation, when we have every confidence that we shall be able to remove any misconception which might exist in the minds of some of those who took part in the debate.
The reply SenatorClemons has read. Then the company, through their managing director, wrote a further letter, dated 27th July last, taking exception to the extraordinary statement of the Attorney-General, and again urging that an inquiry should be held in order that they might have an opportunity to clear their reputation, which had been so seriously assailed. To that letter of the 27th July, the Ministry have not deigned an answer. No less than two months have elapsed since the last time the company asked for an inquiry to clear their reputation and the reputation of their foreman, and it is in these circumstances, and on account of the failure on the part of the Government that I, as apublic man, and as a member of the Federal Legislature, deem that I am doing my duty in showing the actual correspondence that has taken place. I have made no statement today that is not supported by the documentary evidence and reports. I consider that if the Government, had done their duty, a report might by this time have been presented, which would have rendered it totally unnecessary that I should have occupied the time of Che Senate for one moment on the subject. I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Leave granted; motion withdrawn.
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I shall supply the honorable senator with the facts.
– I wish to direct attention to the fact that the s.s. Pocahontas, a vessel manned by Chinese and Malays, has been engaged in the coasting trade in Australian waters at rates of wages lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth; and to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs -
If the Minister has approved of the terms of the contract under which such Chinese and Malays are employed, or is it part of the Government policy to allow the employment of cheap coloured labour on the Australian coast to the detriment of Australian citizens?
– The official answer supplied to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
This matter is now receiving the attention of the Attorney-General.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 5285), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- It will be observed that I have on the notice-paper a motion dealing with the question of old-age pensions, and suggesting the establishment of some system based on self-help and thrift. That I may put myself in order, and may not anticipate debate on that motion, I desire to say that, owing to the late stage of the session at which we have arrived, and the fact that there will not be sufficient time to discuss so important a subject, it is my intention to take the first opportunity to move that the motion be discharged from the paper.
– That will not be necessary. If the honorable senator does not proceed with the motion it will fall off the paper.
– I do not intend to proceed with it. Another point of order which might be taken in objection ‘ to the remarks which I and other honorable senators desire to make is that there is nothing about oldage pensions in the Bill - it deals only with the imposition of special duties of Customs and Excise - but we know that the real reason for its introduction is to make provision for the establishment of a system of oldage pensions. It is impossible to dicuss the measure without referring to the only reason, so far as I know, for which, the special duties are to be levied. If it will put me more in order in making those references, I say that when the Bill gets into Committee I intend to take steps to have the specific object of the measure mentioned in the Bill, and also to insert certain safeguards with regard to the amount of the oldage pensions, the total amount to be spent by the Commonwealth for this purpose, and the various conditions under which’ the pensions shall be granted.
– The honorable senator proposes to confuse the issue to be put before the electors.
– I am not going to confuse the issue, but it seems to me that the honorable senator desires to avoid the real issue, and that is as to whether we can afford to establish any system of oldage pensions. I hope that we shall be able to afford to establish a system based upon conditions which every business man would impose, having regard to human nature and the experience of the past. Senator Playford does not seem to know that, although a man might not be able to wear a ten-guinea coat, he might be able to afford a two-guinea coat.
– I think I learned that some time ago.
– If the honorable senator did, he seems to think that I have not learned it. He seems to be under the impression that I am ordering ten-guinea coats myself when I know that I can get’ a verv good coat for five guineas. I am doing nothing of the kind. Senator Drake, in his excellent speech yesterday, showed that this measure is to a great extent a violation of one of the basic and fundamental principles of the Constitution. It is true that both Houses of the Federal Parliament must consent to. it, and it must run the gauntlet of a referendum in each State, before it becomes law ; but it is a very complicated matter to put before the electors, and it is, I think, unreasonable that we should ask the electors on the one hand to say whether we should pay old-age pensions of 10s. a week from the age of sixtyfive years, and on the other hand, if the Commonwealth can afford to do that, how the fund is to be raised. It will also be the dutv of the electors to consider the other questions of sound finance which arise. I hope that we shall be able to confer such a benefit as is proposed, but it is our duty before the issue is put to the electors to discuss whether an old-age pensions scheme can be established on business principles, whether the system adopted should be an economical system, based upon thrift and self-help, and having regard to what we know is inherent in human nature, or whether we should throw every precaution aside, and go in for a system of oldage pensions regardless of every condition which a business man would consider necessary.
– That will be for a future Parliament to consider. All that we are asking now is for the power to levy special duties for the purpose.
– Does not the honorable senator see that it is of the greatest consequence to the State of Tasmania to consider whether we can afford to establish a system of old-age pensions, which will cost the people of that State ,£60,000 a year, or even half that money.
– Nearly half that money is now spent in Tasmania in the distribution of charitable relief.
– Tasmania under Federation has already lost revenue to the extent of about j£i per head of her population. I remind honorable senators of the Labour Party that the direct taxation of the State amounts to £1 4s. 3d. per head, and we come nearer to realizing the proper balance between indirect and direct- taxation than does any other State .in the Commonwealth. I point out that if a scheme of old-age pensions on a basis of 10s. per week is inaugurated without safeguard and without regard to the difference between the deserving and undeserving poor, Tasmania cannot afford it. I would say that our shortage of revenue, if not our will, must compel us to support a system which will not be extravagant.
– The honorable senator’s line of reason shows that he is in favour, not of a pension, but of a charitable dole.
– Senator Findley is doing what members of the Labour Party frequently do with regard to myself. He is making statements with the wilful intention of exalting himself in the eyes of the electors, and of disparaging me.
– I have no wish to do that.
– I hope the honorable senator does not wish to do that, but I have been subjected to so much interjection of the kind from Senator McGregor and one ot two other members of the Labour Party that I am getting tired of it. I think it is unfair ; certainly this is not a creditable way of conducting the debate.
– I have no desire “to be unfair to the honorable senator.
– I understand from the papers I have with me the nature of the German and other continental systems, and I know that what is provided for is not a charitable dole. I have read the splendid paper on the subject prepared by the Statistician of Tasmania, Mr. R. M. Johnstone, who explains that a man and his wife, who have lived for a certain time in the State, and1 have raised a family of two or three children, have, by the care and attention which they have devoted to them, contributed so much to the State that thev are entitled to some consideration in their old age. Does the honorable senator think that members of the Labour Party are the only persons who have studied these matters? I know that on the eve of an election, the members of that party talk all sorts of nonsense, and try to make out that they are the only saviours of the country.
– We were the first to advocate old-age pensions.
– I hope that they will cease to make interjections intended to exalt themselves and disparage me_ in the eyes of the electors. I am not going before the electors this vear, and I hope that I shall be allowed to proceed in peace. I am sorry that I shall not have time to proceed with the motion which I have undertaken to move. ‘ It is important to consider whether we can afford an extravagant system of old-age pensions. I expect to gain the sympathy, if not the sup port, of honorable senators, -when I say that Tasmania has lost a lot of revenue under Federation, and it would be simply hopeless for that State to agree to the establishment of the system recommended by the Royal Commission when it would cost’ her ,£59,700. I want to see if we cannot adopt a more economical system, and one which would1, have some regard to the character of our people. I agree with Senator Drake and Senator Stewart that it is a bad principle to ear-mark certain sources of revenue for a specific purpose. This departure is taken merely to make the scheme palatable, to win success which otherwise might not be won. Mr. Chamberlain tried the same plan when he wished to bring about preferential duties. He wanted to establish a modicum of protection, and he proposed that the revenue so raised should be spent on old-age pensions, but the idea did not “catch on” because the members of the House of Commons, on each side, are sincere. They have all declared that at the present time it is impossible for England and Wales to afford £18,000,000 to carry out the scheme. If there is one principle more than another which is impressed on the mind of the electors, it is the fact that out of the Customs and Excise revenue three-fourths have to be returned to the States, so that each State may pay its debts and carry on its affairs. To propose, before we have taken over the States debts, to empower the Government of the Commonwealth to raise specific duties for a specific purpose is, I think, to propose a breach of the Constitution which ought not to be favoured for a moment, and which, if made, might prove disastrous to various States. I think that the transfer of the States debts should precede the grant of such power to the Federal Government. Until the Commonwealth has come to an arrangement with the States in regard to the bookkeeping system and the transfer of States debts, it is most reckless, I think, to empower the Government to raise specific duties for a specific purpose. Let me give an illustration, in order to show the difference between economy and extravagance. According to a paper which I read the other day, and which I have not at hand, the cost of the administration of the Old-Age Pensions Department in New South Wales is about 300 per cent, higher than that of the corresponding Department in Victoria. That ought to show the vast difference be- tween a prudent system and one which is based upon a desire to please every elector.
– These are all very proper arguments to be used when the Government are submitting a Bill. In this Bill, however, we are only asking for extra power.
– For some reason or other the Government has not had the courage to state in the Bill what it means. Does the Minister think that every candidate will not tell the electors its object? Yet it is not disclosed in the Bill itself. Every candidate will tell the electors at each meeting he addresses that the object of the Bill is to sanction an old-age pension of 10s. per week. Does not the Minister, with his practical common sense, think it is quite bad enough to ask for power to levy special duties for one purpose and to that extent violate a Basic principle in the Constitution. Why does the Government want power to raise specific duties for any other purpose? The Government seems to have gone out of its way to make the Bill unpalatable, and to conceal from the electors its real purpose. Tasmania cannot afford an expenditure of £60,000, but she might be able to contribute to a more moderate system. Let me illustrate the difference between an economical and an extravagant system. I understand that originally, if not now, the old-age pension in New Zealand was 7s. per week ; in Victoria it is 8s. ; and in New South Wales it is 10s. Do I deserve to be sneered at when I say that Tasmania cannot afford to contribute towards a pension of 10s., but that she might make a desperate struggle to contribute towards a pension ofl 7s. ? We all admit that the soldier in the industrial arm v is entitled to better treatment in his old age, when he cannot work, than to be placed in a poor-house or a benevolent institution, as if he had not assisted in building up this great Commonwealth. Let me now refer to a few of the schemes whose test features we might copy. In a speech which he made last night, Mr. Mackinnon, the exleader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly, dealt with the_question of the friendly societies, and from him I propose to quote in order to show how important it is to have a system that would encourage, and not discourage, thrift. He said -
No fewer than five million persons in England were providing by their own exertions for sick ness and death, and they possessed twenty million pounds of capital. The total industrial male population of England was estimated at 7,000,000. These were striking figures. The last Victorian Actuary’s report (1905) showed that the friendly societies of Australia had 346,583 members, and £4,357,939 of funds. Attributing three persons - those who get the benefits - to each member, it worked out that over one-fourth cf the population were connected directly with the societies and shared in the benefits. Victoria had 103,364 members and ^1,541, 630 of funds. The capital per member was about £15, which was only exceeded by prosperous New Zealand. in 1878 there were 48,500 members. These figures showed the importance of friendly societies to the national life of Victoria. The benefits were widespread ; they induced thrift and education ; and by education, training, improving the quality of the individual, and raising his moral tone, the community benefited. There was no need to dwell on the importance of such societies.
In Australia, therefore, thrift has been encouraged, and one-fourth of the total population are deriving benefits from the friendly societies. Is not that a very important feature which should be. considered in framing a system of old-age pensions? I think it is. In his efforts to establish a system of old-age pensions. Mr. Chamberlain was most anxious to work with the friendly societies. I suppose that some honorable senators recollect a famous letter in which he impressed upon, the people of Great Britain that it would be verv disastrous to inaugurate a scheme which did not work with, and.- to some extent, take in, the friendly societies throughout the United Kingdom. I cannot conceive of a responsible Minister considering a scheme without having regard to the friendly societies. Victoria and New South Wales, which contain far more than half the population of the Commonwealth, each have a scheme in which no account is taken of the friendly societies. But the German scheme, which is compulsory in its nature, takes account of accident, sickness, death, and old age. It is one of the most perfect systems which the world has ever known, and one which other nations would do well to copy, so long as thev adapted its principles to their own industrial conditions. In my motion, I ventured to point out to the Government that it could not do a wiser or better thing than to offer a substantial prize of, say, £100 to any man who would devise the best plan for introducing a system of old-age pensions, based oh the principles of the German scheme. Another fatal objection to the Bill is that it absolutely departs from the recommendations of the
Royal Commission on Old-age Pensions. In paragraph 16 of their report, they say -
As “ the best means to be adopted for establishing old-age pensions for the Commonwealth,” your Commissioners recommend that the pensions be paid out of the consolidated revenue.
Why do the Government just on the eve of an election, when we have not time to consider any_ question carefully, bring in a Bill which runs counter to that magnificent report ? I desire here to compliment the members of the Royal Commission upon producing a very useful and up-to-date report, which deals in a most exhaustive and statesmanlike manner with the question of old-age pensions, as it is understood in Australia. I think, however, that they would have done better work if they had gone further afield, and compared the system which they seem to favour with the German system. In .paragraph 16 of their report, they go on to say -
Various suggestions have been made by the different witnesses who have given evidence as to the sources from which additional revenue may be derived. These suggestions include a wages stamp tax, duties on tea and kerosene; an absentee tax, a tax on unimproved land values, a Government monopoly of the tobacco industry, additional duties on intoxicants and. matches, and a tax on amusements. Your Commissioners recommend that, during the operation of section S7 of the Constitution, which provides for the return by the Commonwealth to the States of at least three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise duties, an arrangement should be made by the Commonwealth with the several States by which sufficient money should be handed over to the Commonwealth for the purpose of making good any deficiency in the consolidated revenue caused by the establishment of an old-age pension system.
We all know that nearly every witness who was a financial expert was asked how, in his opinion, the money should be raised.
Sitting suspended from 12.4.5 to 2.30 p.m.
– We all know that the administration of whatever Act we place on the statute-book will be a very important feature in its success. We must admit that a great many mistakes have been made in the administration of Old-age Pensions Acts in Australia up to the present time. That is natural enough, and is no argument against the system as a whole, but these mistakes should, at all events, serve as a guide to us, and should enable us to formulate a better scheme than any State has yet done. Let me give an exam’ple. Since the passing of the Victorian Act, 197 persons have been re-ad mitted to the Benevolent Asylums which they had previously left, because pensions had been granted to them ; and, at the time they were re-admitted, 9^ had surrendered their pensions. Their re-admission involved a saving of about £4,000 a year, being’ the difference between the amount of the pension granted to them and the cost of maintaining them in the institutions. That fact shows how recklessly pensions must have been granted, and is a warning to us. Although the cost of administering the Victorian Act is exceedingly small - so small as to make one wonder - we all recollect that Victoria made a fatal blunder in inaugurating the system. Sir George Turner forgot to provide a special fund from which to pay the pensions. Although an Act was placed upon the statute-book granting this right, no provision was made for raising the money. The pension originally paid in Victoria was 10s. per week. But there were terrible cases -of old men being found in huts and holes covered with vermin, having spent their pensions irc drink, and having had to be carried back to the Benevolent Asylums and similar institutions, lt was then found that the 10s. a week pension was excessive, and Victoria had to reduce it to 8s. I trust that the Commonwealth will save itself from the fatal blunder of going ahead too fast, and then having to take a retrograde step. If 10s. per week is more than we can afford - and I am inclined to think that it is - let us make the pension 8s. a week, or 9s. Personally, I think that 7 s. would be too low. But we certainly should not grant a high pension, and then find that our financial necessities compel us to retrace our steps. All these points suggest themselves for reflection and warning. Referring to the German system, I may point out that it is a compulsory system. I admit that there are very few systems in the world that are compulsory. But while we have. had such voluntary systems as that suggested by Mr. Chamberlain in Great Britain, at least one compulsory system has been suggested there, by Canon Blackley. We have only to look at the German system to recognise what an admirable one it is. The information at our disposal shows that it has been a magnificent success in every direction. Bismarck first created the scheme, in 1883. It was then called a sick insurance scheme. It was altered in 1884, when an accident insurance system was added to it. It was altered again, in 1889, into a complete scheme of infirmity and old-age insurance, the State making a contribution towards the pensions, and the rest being made up by compulsory contributions of employer and employe. We have been discussing old-age pensions on the basis that the State should contribute the whole amount. I think that any scheme introduced into the Commonwealth should be one under which the State would most liberally subsidize the fund, but I have, not the slightest hesitation in saying that the worker ought to contribute a considerable portion towards the pension, and that the employer should also contribute his share. Of course the proportions to be contributed by each of the parties is a matter for consideration. If we are going to have minimum wages, Wages Boards, and Arbitration Courts, insuring the payment of fair wages to employes, those factors will have to be taken into consideration in fixing the contribution to be made by the employes to the fund. It might be determined that the State, the employer, and the employe should each contribute a third, or the amount of the pension might be divided into five, the employer and the employe” contributing two-fifths each, and the State one-fifth. In. determining these factors, we must have regard to the conditions under which employers have to conduct their business, to the wages paid to employes, the conditions under which they work, and whether they are in a good position to make a substantial contribution. I do not wish to have it said that such a scheme is unworkable. It can be made workable.
– Has not the German system been altered ?
– In what particular?
– To relieve the employes from some portion of their contributions ?
– I think that my honorable friend is right, and that some amendment has been made in the German system in that respect. But, nevertheless, I am strongly of opinion that whatever fund is established should be maintained by contributions from the three parties I have mentioned, the State, the worker, and the employer. I have seen it suggested - I think in Senator Neild’s admirable book, which contains an enormous amount of information, although it is getting a little out of date - that our population is one which, to a large extent, moves about from place to place, and that a considerable percentage of workers would not be able to afford contributions. I am, of course, aware that there is a section of our working class who wander, not only over particular States, but from State to State, but their number is small in comparison with the mechanics and other workmen, thousands, and tens of thousands of whom are permanently employed in the industries of the country. The principle upon which I desire to insist is, that whatever scheme we establish shall be based upon sound principles, and shall be a scheme which will grow, and which instead of discouraging thrift, will promote it. The German scheme, of course, is only applied to persons who work for employers, and whose incomes do not amount to £100 a year. In Australia we could make those limits and exceptions upon any basis we pleased. Let us look at the results in Germany!. In 1902-3, 10,320,000 persons were insured against sickness, and 3,983,000 of those persons received sick pay to- the amount of £9,158,705. In addition, there were 19,083,000 who were insured, and compensation amounting to £5,406,000 was paid to 834.600. Self help is not prevented by this system. Some people have argued that it would be, but it is not, as is proved by the amount of savings per head of population of Germany, which has increased to a greater extent than in Great Britain. In fact, during the last ten years the savings of the working classes in Germany have become four times as great as those in Great Britain. They have increased from £200,000,000 to nearly £400,000,000. Count Posadowsky, a Russian literary man, commenting on these facts, expresses the opinion that - the great increase in the prosperity of German industries is chiefly due to the raising of the level of life of the working classes by this social-political legislation, and his conviction is shared by many thoughtful observers.
Turning to Professor Ashley’s book on the Progress of the German Working Classes, I find that he gives interesting testimony to the value of this system. He says -
Let us put on one side the accident insurance’ system, as roughly balanced by our recent compensation legislation, though the latter is probably less efficacious for its purpose. There remains the sickness insurance system, and also that which covers old age and infirmity. These may be roughly compared with our friendly society organization, supplemented by various union and other trade societies. But there are these striking differences. (1) Two-thirds of all the wage-earning work people in Germany are insured against sickness, and can confidently look forward to receiving, in case of need, both medical assistance and pecuniary relief ; i.e., there is a much narrower fringe of people totally unprovided for. (2) A considerable part (one-third) of the cost is compulsorily borne by the employers. (3) Thirteen out of sixteen wageearning work people have a right to a small pension in case of permanent incapacity, or on reaching the age of seventy - a far larger number than the few who in England benefit by friendly society pensions. The accompanying diagram vividly presents to the eye the proportion of the working population of Germany which falls within the range of this beneficent system. The pension is small, varying from about two shillings to five shillings a week. But added to other means of livelihood, it will often make all the difference between a pinched but possible existence and absolute starvation ; and it is to be remembered that it can be claimed as a right and not as a charity. (4) Almost two-fifths of the cost of this are also compulsorily borne by the employers.
That bears out what Senator Turley has said that the contributions of the employers have gone up, and those of the workers have decreased. In another place, Professor Ashley says -
For a complete survey of the conditions of the German working classes there are still several other topics which deserve to be considered. It might be shown how, since its creation in 1883-1889, the workmen’s insurance system has been almost every year widened in its range, extended in the amount of benefits offered, and brought into closer touch with the real circumstances of working-class life. Most full of promise for the future of the country are the friendly personal relations between the representatives of the employing and employed classes, which has happily been brought about in some important industries by their compulsory co-operation in the carrying out of the new laws. Having achieved the establishment, not only of insurance against sickness and accident, but also of a vast system of old-age pensions, German social reformers are beginning to feel themselves within sight of the next great step in advance - some provision for widows and orphans.
I have always thought what a wonderful thing it is that no working-class party, nor any other party in Australia, has taken sufficient’ account of the widows and of women deserted by their husbands, and who, with two or three infant children tugging at their gowns, find it quite impossible to work. It appears to me that a widow in that position, or a deserted wife, is even more worth v of the consideration of the State in the matter of pecuniary aid than, a man of 65 years of age who is perhaps capable” of earning 15s. or £1 per week. All these matters can be considered, and we may adopt the best features of every system that we know of. We could offer a prize for a scheme, and by care and thought, aided by experience, we might in Australia establish the best the world knows. But we shall not do that if we simply adopt the recommendations contained in the report of the Royal Commission, admirable as that report is; because we must follow lines better than those which have been adopted in Australia up to the present. As to the system suggested for England, let me read some extracts from Drage’s Problem of the Aged Poor. In this work is set forth a summary of all the systems heard of in the House of Commons during the last thirty years. The author says -
Mr. Chamberlain slates that his scheme had its origin in a voluntary committee, composed of about eighty members of the House of Commons. “ The Parliamentary Committee never had it in their mind that it would be possible at the present time to secure any universal system of old-age provision. The utmost that they hoped was to propose something in the nature of an experiment which would throw a good deal of light on the subject, and which would be good so far as it went, and which might lead gradually to a much more complete arrangement. . . . The scheme contemplates three cases, in which persons desirous to make provision for old age, and voluntarily prepared to do so, can be helped by this State Pension Fund.”
That is Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme, as recommended bv the voluntary committee of eighty members of the House of Commons.
Case I. provides for a pension of 5s. a week after the age of sixty-five. It provides for no collateral advantages, and no return of the subscriptions in the event of death before the age of sixty-five. To secure this pension a man must deposit a lump sum of £2 10s., at the age of twenty-five, and pay an annual subscription of 10s. afterwards. The State adds a lump sum of £io to the sum of £2 10s. contributed, and in . addition an annual interest of 2^ per cent, on this ;£io, and on the subscription and deposits of the insurer. More than 5s. a week can be insured for by higher contributions, but the State aid in this class is limited to £10. Case II. provides for a pension of 5s. a week after sixty-five, with certain benefits, in the case of death before sixty-five. To secure this form of pension the insurer would have to deposit a lump sum of £5 at the age of twenty-five, and pay an annual subscription of £1. The State would add £15 (instead of £10, as in case I.), which would accrue at once. In case of death before the third payment was made, the deposits would be returned. In the case of death after the third payment was made, and before sixtyfive, provision up to a sum not exceeding 12s. a week would be made for his widow, and all his children until they reached the age of twelve. If he died before sixty-five, having no widow and no children,£5 would be paid to his representatives for funeral expenses. These benefits, Mr. Chamberlain states, could be varied if it were thought desirable. The mode of payment might also be varied. For instance, it would be possible for a man topay down a lump sum, at any time, which would cover his annual contribution for a certain period, or tables might be prepared by which a man could begin to insure at an earlier age thantwenty-five for a pension to commence at any age before or after sixty-five. According to the report of the actuary, this£15 paid down by the State would be sufficient to meet all the liabilities to widows and orphans. Both under case I. and case II. the scheme provides special rates and benefits applicable to females. But no suggestion is made that the money should be returnable, or that any benefits should accrue in case the insurer died before sixty-five. Case III. provides for cooperation with Friendly Societies and Trade Unions.
It would appear to me extraordinary if we were to absolutely ignore trade unions, friendly societies, benefit societies, and similar organizations, and, forgetting the large membership they represent, and the work they have been doing for centuries almost, attempt to establish an entirely new system of our own.
To this case, Mr. Chamberlain attaches “ the very greatest importance.” “ I would say at once,” he says, “ that if the Friendly Societies take this matter up. I do not hesitate to say that it is through them that I should anticipate by far the largest result.”
Here, the State would tell the friendly societies and other similar organizations, to go ahead with their sick and accident funds, and particularly with their old-age pension funds, and would undertake to double whatever had been contributed onthe pensioner reaching the age of sixty-five. As Mr. Chamberlain says, that system is well worth consideration.
Case IV. would provide for a temporary pension scheme for those now above the age of twenty-five.
It will be noticed that in the motion I have on the business-paper I mention the age as thirty, but all under that age ought to have applied to them the scheme I suggest.
Mr. Chamberlain states that it would be desirable that such provision should be made, for it would relieve a large number of aged at the present time, and would add to the ultimate success of the scheme ; but, he adds, “ I should be sorry to put forward the scheme of the Parliamentary Committee as having been sufficiently carefully studied to be accepted as a final solution of that part of the question.” He thinks, however, that it would be necessary for the State to make this provision on a more generous basis than the rest of the scheme. It is suggested in this scheme that in the case of arrears the contributor should be charged interest at the rate of 5 per cent., for a period of ten years, during which he might have an opportunity of paying up his arrears. If he does not do so, and dies before he is sixty-five years old, his widow is to have 5s. for twentysix weeks, and any balance there is of his own subscription in cash.
We now pass away from Mr. Chamberlain, and come to the system suggested by Canon Blackley.
Canon Blackley’s scheme of compulsory national insurance was first published in1878 ; since that time it has undergone various alterations.
My friends of the Labour Party will see that they were not the first to direct attention to this subject.
It was originally suggested that all persons from the age of eighteen to twenty-one should be required “ to contribute to a fund, State collected and State secured, a sufficient amount to entitle each contributor, when physically unable to earn wages, to a weekly sick pay of8s., and to an old-age pension of 4s., a week.” The scheme was examined fully before the Select Committee of the House of Commons during the years1885-7. As a result, the sick pay portion of the scheme was condemned. Since that time the supporters of the scheme have dropped the sick benefits, and only adhered to the old-age pensions. This part of the scheme met with a favorable reception before the Committee. The original scheme provided for a payment of£10 between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, which would have been sufficient to secure the benefits promised, according to the rate of interest at that time. This sum, Canon Blackley says, was merely intended to be a tentative one.
The author now deals with the scheme of Mr. Booth.
Mr. Charles Booth proposes that the State should grant free and universal pensions for old age. The scheme provides “ that every one born in England or Wales, who has not for any length of time resided abroad (unless as a soldier or in the service of the State) shall, when sixty-five, be entitled to a pension of 5s. a week.”
– Hear, hear.
– The quotation proceeds -
There would be nothing to prevent drunkards, prostitutes, or criminals from acquiring such pensions, provided only that they had not received Poor Law relief within a certain number of years previously - tenyears was originally suggested, but this might be altered.
Why does Senator Findley not say “ Hear, hear” to that?
– Are those fallen people not deserving of some consideration ?
– Does any one say they are not. Does Senator Findley contend that criminals and prostitutes are entitled to a pension of 10s.per week as a matter of right? It makes one sick when he is trying to do his best to assist in establishing old-age pensions to hear approval expressed of extending the benefits to criminals and prostitutes. In every such system in the world, such people are not permitted to enjoy the full benefits. It does not follow, however, that they are left to die in the gutters, because there are homes, benevolent asylums, retreats, gaols, and all sorts of places.
SenatorFindley. - Which cost more than old-age pensions.
– Even if they cost less, we should treat people according to their deserts. We ought to make some difference between men who have rendered good service to the Commonwealth and those who have done nothing but drag both the Commonwealth and themselves down.
– The honorable senator is treading on difficult ground.
– I quite understand that it is difficult ground.
– Especially when the honorable senator says that we should be all treated according to our deserts.
– The quotation I read just now, I am afraid, rather tells against what I was contending just now, because it says, “ But this might be altered.” However, the quotation proceeds -
In the case of those who had previously been paupers within the fixed period, their pension would be handed over to the guardians, who would give it to them if they thought fit, either as outdoor relief, with supervision, or as indoor relief, or, in time, freely and on the same fooling as other pensions were given. If a pensioner abused his pension by spending it on drink, &c, the pension would then be paid to the guardian, who would give indoor relief and use the pension to provide for the costs of the maintenance of the pensioner.
Senator Findley will see that suchcases are provided for.
– Hear, hear.
– That is Mr. Booth’s scheme, which, we understand from Mr. Chamberlain, would cost about £18,000,000.
There would, however, be some slight reduction in Poor Law expenditure, which Mr. Booth hopes would increase as time went on, because he believes this scheme would encourge thrift.
Mr. Booth is a very sanguine man if he thinks that the spending of£18,000,000 in giving old-age pensions to everybody would encourage thrift. It appears to me that such expenditure would have an opposite tendency.
– Is the expenditure of £18,000,000 for the whole of Great Britain?
– According to this book; it is intended to apply only to England and Wales. Mr. Price Hardy proposes another scheme.
Mr. Price Hardy suggests a modification of Mr. Booth’s scheme. The chief points of difference are that - (1) Pensions should only be given to those aged persons who are proved to be impecunious - that is to say, to all those who have not sufficient means to support themselves. Each applicant would have to submit him or herself to examination on oath. Mr. Hard)’ thinks that the examination would practically be made once and for all, as it is rare that an aged person who is impecunious once will ever recover his position. (2) All pensioners would have to give up work. This Mr. Hardy considers to be essential to the successful working of the scheme ; first, as a means of ascertaining that the case is genuine; secondly, to prevent the pensioners interfering with the ordinary labour market. (3) The amount of pension would be raised to 10s. a week, except, perhaps, in the case of aged married couples, when the pensions would be on a reduced scale. The cost of the scheme, Mr. Hardy thinks, would not be much more than the cost of the present Poor Law.
Unfortunately, experience has shown that old-age pensions decrease- only to a small extent the cost of poor law and charitable institutions; indeed, in some cases, the cost of the latter is increased. The book then proceeds to deal with the schemes of’ Mr. Bartley, Mr. Frome Wilkinson, and Professor Marshall. I shall not trouble the Senate with the details of the schemes of those gentlemen, except to say that Professor Marshall proposes one which is based on the co-operation of the poor law and charitable institutions. That, of course, would not suit Australia. Before leaving this part of the subject. I should like to refer to the admirable table in the report of the Commonwealth Royal Commission, showing what may be done in the way of providing that the people shall contributeto the payment of their own pensions. It appears from figures supplied by the Registrar of Friendly Societies at Brisbane, that if £10 be deposited at birth, and invested at 3 per cent., it will yield a pension of 10s. per week at the age of sixty-five, while a deposit of£5 at birth, invested at compound interest, at 4 per cent., will yield a similar pension at the same age. If we take the more practical age of twenty-one, and assume that a youth,from that age onward to the age of sixty-five, contributes £14s.10d. annually. this invested at31/2 per cent. will provide a pension of 10s. per week. Does Senator Findley say that most of our workmen, who receive wages of £2 and over a week, could not contribute £1 4s.10d. per annum?
– I do, most emphatically, because, speaking generally, working people are not far removed from poverty.
– Does the honorable senator not think that men who earn from £2 to £4 per week could afford a fig of tobacco and a pot of beer per week? If a youth waits until he is twenty-five years of age, when he ought to be a skilled mechanic in permanent employment, he could by an annual contribution of£1 10s. 8d. per year, invested at 31/2 per cent., secure at sixty-five years of age, a pension, not of 7s. or 8s., but of 10s. per week. Do these figures not show that, by adjusting contributions in a fair way, so as not to overburden a man, or deprive his wife and family of one single necessary of life, an admirably sound system could be founded? Old-age pensions of 10s. per week would cost Tasmania£60,000 per annum, and while that State has been deprived of£1 per head of revenue under Federation, pensions on such a scale would add to the burden of the people by 6s. 7d. per head.
– The Tasmanian charities would be relieved of some thousands of pounds in expenditure.
– I am inclined to think not ; and the interjection leads me to read something which I have here bearing on the subject. These are some articles on old-age pensions which I have taken from the Mercury. I do not know who the writer of the articles is, but, speaking of New Zealand, he writes in this way -
A number of instances of the ill effects of the pensions are mentioned. Some spent their money in beer; others contracted “swelled head,” and were expelled ; one man, who “ was a peaceable inmate of a charitable institution,” as soon as he was granted his pension, left it, and became an actor in a tragic affair. The following are instances of unfairness : A man of 65, of indifferent character, because he was a wastrel, was granted a pension ; another of 82, of good character, who had supported himself, was denied a pension because he had saved£52 during the year ! So that the system actually offers a premium for idleness. “ Do nothing for your own support, and the State will keep you; work, deny yourself, save, and the Statewill do nothing for you.”
I have no wish to drive that axiom to extremes, but honorable senators must see that it is unfair that a man who is a waster, and has gambled or drunk the value of two or three old-age pensions, should be able, because of present poverty, to secure a pension, whilst a man who has struggled all lis life on a wage of, perhaps,£1 per week, should get nothing. These are maters which should be considered. We cannot deal with these questions blindly and without taking into account what goes to build up the character of the people of the Commonwealth. The writer goes on to say -
The testimony of a resident near Nelson is quoted, in which the following, inter alia, occurs : - “ It is said that people do all sorts of things to rid themselves of their bits of property,giving them away to their relatives with whom they mean to live. Children take no further responsibility about parents, and old people, who have not misbehaved heretofore, seem to lose their heads, and begin to drink and swagger. I know old people in this neighbourhood who were quite well off, with cottages, fields, and orchards of their own, who have somehow divested themselves and become pensioners without shame or scruple.” Notwithstanding the condition which makes poverty imperative, the pensioners contrive to get on the blind side of the authorities. The cases are cited of a wife who died having £600 in the bank, and a pensioner, who had£500 in the bank at his death. Another case was that of an old couple who made over their farm to a married daughter, with whom they lived, and drove in in a pony chaise once a month to draw their pension. The Agent-General of New Zealand says:- “There can be little doubt that a large portion of the £200,000 to be foundby the New Zealand Treasury under the Pensions Act will go towards lowering the sums foundby the children of the poor to the support of theiraged relatives.”
Hereis the point to which SenatorFindley referred -
The writer from whom the most of the foregoing matter has been taken quotes the warning of Professor Goldwin Smith, in which he says : “ The danger, which is really great and imminent, lies in the art, which demagogism has now learned to practise, of bribing the masses with other people’s money. If this is to go on at once in the nation, in the municipality, and in the parish, what will be the end?”
The Swiss are men of fine character, but this is what happened in Switzerland -
It seems it was proposed to establish a national assurance scheme in Switzerland. It was passed by the Legislature, but on being submitted to the people by a referendum, was rejected by about 7 to 3; and it is remarked that out of the whole of the cantons only one showed a slight majority in favour of the scheme, and in the canton of Zurich only one district out of eleven voted for it.
– That counts for nothing. They rejected a proposal to nationalize the railways some years ago, and they have nationalized them recently.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators to that statement. That was a proposal for the establishment of a national scheme of old-age pensions, to which the State, the employer, and the worker would contribute, but I suppose that in Australia we are going to rush into the establishment of asystem based on contributions merely by the State. If we refer the question to the people as to whether they will have something given to them, or will try to get it for themselves, we know what the answer will be.
– Yes, the majority will rule.
– The honorable senatir talks glibly about the rule of the majority, and I fall back again upon what Goldwin Smith says, to the effect that there is acertain demagogism amongst my honorable friends which induces them to curry favour with the masses by bribing them with other people’s money. Honorable senators must see how difficult and complicated the whole question is. It is not sufficient to talkmerely about old-age pensions. I admit that the phrase has caught on, and that it has helped some ofmy honorable friends oppositewonderfully at elections. It is like the phrase “ White Australia” or the word “arbitration,” but we cannot govern a countryby phrases. It is idle for a statesman to talk about going before the people, and asking them whether they prefer that 10s. per week should be given to them when they have reached the age of sixty-five years, or that they should help to get it for themselves. We can expect only one answer to such a question, and it is for us, in the circumstances, to show some little business aptitude and statesmanship in devising a scheme that will be fair to the State, the employer, and the taxpayer. I wish to say a few words about the report of the Royal Commission, which is an admirable report if considered as dealing with the matter from the Australian point of view. They recommend -
That the rate of pension should be fixed at a maximum of10s. per week, subject to any deductions hereinafter recommended.
I think that is a mistake, and there are good reasons why we should commence with a pension of 8s. per week, and work up to10s. if it is found that we can afford that amount.They say -
That the qualifying age should be sixty-five years, but that it may be reduced to sixty where an applicant is permanently incapacitated for work.
I see no distinction between a man sixtyone years of age who cannot work, and a man sixty-five years of age. Perhaps Senator Pearce will be able tosay whether the estimate of . £1,500,000 includes pensions payable to persons incapacitated at the age of sixty years?
– The Commission based their estimate on the experience of New Zealand.
– The Commission say, further -
That a residential qualification should be imposed as follows : -
In all cases a continuous residence in the Commonwealth of twenty-five years.
I have always thought it unfair and unjust that, in the States schemes for the establishment of old-age pensions, ‘continuous residence for twenty-five years should have been required. I could never see why a man who had resided between the ages of twenty and forty-five years in New South Wales, and then left and continued to reside in Victoria until he was sixty-five years, should be debarred from receiving a pension. I am glad to find that the Commission recommended -
That provision should be made to compel a husband, wife, or children, as the case may be, if in a position to do so, to contribute the amount of the pension.
In New South Wales they have no provision of that sort, and I point out that, although the Old-age Pensions Commission suggest that such a provision should be made, the Parliament indealing with the matter might decide that pensions should be paid as a matter of right, and that no contribution need be made by a husband, wife, or child. Parliament might disregard that wise recommendation, and it might so add tens of thousands of pounds to the amount of the fund that would be required. It is all very well for Senator Playford to saythat this has nothing to do with the Bill, which merely asks that the Government should have the necessary power to provide a fund. Under the scheme I suggest the Commonwealth would have power to subsidize any fund most liberally, and by more than one-third, if that were thought advisable, so long as the principle of self-help, and contributions from the people, is admitted. It is important that I should know whether, in dealing with this Bill, I am dealing with a proposed fund of £1,500,000 or of £1,000,000, whether I am talking of a scheme which will cost Tasmania £60,000 a year, or will be able to say to the electors and the Government of that State that the cost to them will be only £40,000 a year. We are asked to deal with an enormous sum, and the more we can reduce it the more popular the proposal will be with those who have to provide the money, although I admit it will not be so popular with those who will receive the pension. The Royal Commission recommend -
That theyearly income of a pensioner from all sources, inclusive of pension, should not exceed£52 per annum.
I am inclined to think that that is too liberal.
– I do not think that 5 per cent. of the taxpayers of Australia object to a liberal provision for the aged.
– It is quite impossible to argue this point with Labour members, but I think I could argue it with men of common sense. We are not talking merely of liberality. There are many other factors governing the question, but Senator McGregor has, in accordance with his usual practice, caught up the word, and by his interjection would convey the impression that I am one amongst 5 per cent. of the people of Australia who are not prepared to agree to a liberal provision for old age.
– The honorable senator has often admitted that he is always in the minority.
– I have not repeatedly admitted that, and in this matter, whether I am in the majority or the minority. I am on the right side, and my honorable friends opposite are on the wrong side. The Commission further recommend -
That the net capital value of accumulated property held by an applicant should not exceed £310.
I should like to ask why in the name of common sense we should give a man a pension of 10s. a week when he has reached the age of sixty-five years if he is in possession of an accumulatedproperty worth £310.
– That amount might be represented by the house in which he was living, and that would not keep him.
– Certainly it would not, but would not the possession of property of that value be a reason for reducing the pension? Surely it would? My honorable friend’s idea of liberality islikely to lead to the scheme adopted being made so generous as to be unsound, and that would kill it altogether. I would ask the honorable senator whether he has ever heard the old axiom, “ Save me from my friends.” Every one is in favour of the establishment of some system of old-age pensions, but the difficulty is to get the money. We are here dealing with an attempt to provide the funds., and we have interjections made by honorable senators of the Labour Party, who seem to believe that all we need do is to provide for a pension of 10s. per week, and get the necessary funds from the pockets of the taxpayers in any way we possibly can. I do not hold that to be my duty as a senator. The Commission further say -
That a penalty should be imposed for supplying an old-age pensioner with intoxicating drink.
I quite believe in that, but should there not also be a penalty on the pensioner who spends his pension in drink. I think the Commission have made a little omission in this respect. I take it that when we are dealing with the establishment of old-age pensions we shall deal with that matter in a drastic manner. We certainly do not desire to give a pension of 10s. per week to any old man or woman in the Commonwealth for the benefit of the publican, or to increase the revenue from spirits. I do not know how this very important matter is to be submitted to. the electors, but I shall, in Committee, endeavour to have some leading features inserted in the Bill in order that the people may know exactly what it means. I expect that my honorable friends opposite will not deny me the right to be able to tell the electors of Tasmania whether the scheme proposed will cost £1, 500, 000 or £1, 000, 000. If the total subsidy paid by the States were under £1,000,000 it would still be a noble and generous contribution, but apparently we are going to allow mechanics earning £3, £4, and , £410s. per week to contribute nothing. I have not had time to go into the drink bill and the tobacco bill, but in view of the consumption of drink and tobacco, it is idle to tell me that the workmen of Australia could not contribute for such a purpose the sum of £1 4s.10d. a year. It is silly, and I wonder at my honorable friend uttering such a statement.
– We are going to have a scheme made in Australia, and not one made in Germany.
– We are going to have a scheme made in Australia., but suitable to Australian conditions. But I still hope that it will embody the principles of self-help and self-reliance.
– If I could presume to measure the feeling of honorable senators by reference to my own, I should say that the time is rapidly approaching when the strain which the Government is putting upon the Senate to discuss measures of vast importance is almost more than can be borne. I certainly have that feeling in regard to this Bill, and I express it all the more emphatically because, in my opinion, the ingenuity of its construction is scarcely less than, devilish. If such an adjective be deemed too strong, I shall make a modification to the extent of saying that it seems to me to be derivative rather than, humanly speaking, original. I suppose that there is not a single debatable point about which honorable senators have more diverging views than that which is the chief feature of theBill. It raises first the great debatable question of oldage pensions ;secondly, the source from which the fund should be derived; thirdly, the question whether, in order to produce that laudable result, we should adopt direct or indirect taxation - for instance, whether we ought, as some honorable senators strongly advocate, to impose a tax on land. It also necessarily brings up a question which was debated more or less openly in public for many years before Federation was inaugurated, and that is whether the operation of the Braddon section would cripple and hamper the financial resources of the Commonwealth. It further raises a question of the gravest importance to the smaller States, and that is whether there should be retained in the Constitution some safeguard which would insure to them a reasonable proportion of the indirect taxation which is entirely in the hands of the Commonwealth.
– That was part of the compact.
– It was morethan that. I venture to say that there is not one section in the Constitution,, as it stands to-day, which attracted more attention, which was the subject of more earnest and deliberate debate in the Convention,, than the Braddon provision. The history of the last Convention, the history of the proceedings which took place prior to the inauguration of Federation, practically centred round the very provision which is now being attacked. To me it is scarcely conceivable that any honorable senator who comes from a small State - especially a small State in, a financial sense - can consent to allow this Parliament to begin to do something which would rob that State of its chief financial safeguard. As I do not wish to inflict figures upon the Senate at any great length, and as I do not care to use them except when it seems to me to be absolutely necessary, I propose at once to quote some figures with regard to a matter which I think it is my duty to bring before honorable senators. It has been urged within my hearing that, if Tasmania objects to a repeal or modification of the Braddon section, it can only do so on the ground that it is unwilling to resort to some scheme of equitable taxation, which ought to take the place of the indirect taxation, in the form of Customs and Excise duties ; in other words, that its Parliament ought to make some endeavour to get back such money as it may fail to get under the Braddon provision. There is no State in the Commonwealth which is in such an excellent position to answer such a charge as is Tasmania. An almost conclusive answer may be given in one statement from the Budget papers which were laid upon the table of the House of Assembly of Tasmania only a few weeks ago. The total amount of the Commonwealth revenue returned to the State for the last financial year was £256,301, while the direct taxation imposed by the State Parliament yielded £248,799. In other words, Tasmania is raising by direct taxation almost the same amount as she gets from the Commonwealth in respect of Customs and Excise duties.
– How much of the revenue from direct taxation is represented by the tax on Tattersall’s tickets?
– Not one penny.
– Oh, yes, there is.
– Ishall explain that. The details of the revenue derived from direct taxation are as follow : - Land tax,£54,000 ; income tax, £70,000 ; ability tax, which is practicallyanother form of income tax, £28,000; stamp duties, £51,000.
– A portion of that amount is derived from the tax on Tattersall’s tickets.
– Possibly some of it may be so derived; but that I think, does not answer Senator Pearce’ s question. The other items are as follow : - Bank notes, £2,900; deceased persons’ estate duties, £26,000; totalisators, £1,350; and licences, £13,900; making, a total of £248,000. I have omitted the odd figures.
– £2,000 of the revenue from licences is derived from Tattersall’s.
– I have accounted for all the items of direct taxation, and any honorable senator may attribute what he likes to Tattersall’s. But it must be perfectly obvious to every one that not much is included in the total sum,. I venture to ask any honorable senator to offer a comparison from the Budget papers of his own State. I have no fear of this statement being contradicted : that no State in the Commonwealth can show anything like such, a proportion in revenue between direct taxation and indirect taxation as can Tasmania. If I were to take the case of Western Australia - and. of course, I am speaking without having before me the figures - probably I should find that the revenue from indirect taxation is at least double the revenue from direct taxation.
– I think it is between three and four times as much.
– I am glad to hear that it is, because, if so, I shall not be accused of raising an argument unfairly. Speaking of the other five States, without singling out Western Australia, I . venture to say that it would be found that the revenue from direct taxation is certainly not more than one-half the revenue from the Customs and Excise duties. Those items of the Tasmanian revenue ought to be considered in conjunction with her expenditure. I desire to show the effect of Federation upon Tasmania’s expenditure during the last few years. In 1900, under State control, the revenue from Customs and Excise duties amounted to £492,000. The decrease in revenue from that source has been continuous under the Commonwealth. In 1901 it was £373,000; in 1902, £360,000; in 1903, £342.000; in 1904, £330,000; and in 1905,£326,000.
From the revenue for each year, of course, the cost of administration has to be deducted. Let me now institute a comparison in regard to the revenue from the Post and Telegraph’ Department. In 1900, under State control, it was £97,000. whereas last year it was £118.000.
– Is not that explained bythe fact that, before Federation, Tattersall’s letters were not permitted to go into the State to a large extent?
– I do not think that affects the question much. At any rate, so far as I know, the position has not been altered during the last three or four years.
– Ithas been affected since Federation.
– Possibly. In 1900 the expenses in connexion with our post and telegraph services amounted to £86,000, as against a revenue of £97,000; while last year the expenses amounted to £120,800, as compared with a revenue of £118,000, showing that, under the Federal management, the Department has been worked at a loss, instead of a small gain. In 1900, under State control - perhaps because we starved our Defence Forces - our expenditure on defence was £17,900; whereas last year, under the Commonwealth, it amounted to £40,135. It can be little wonder to any honorablesenator, even though he comes from another State that he should be asked by me to give deliberate consideration to the condition of Tasmania’s finances. Such a request, of course, it is unnecessary for me to make to any representative of the State. I do not wish to’ say anything harsh about Senator Keating ; but I do ask him to make some effort, if he can, to justify - because the point will be raised - his voting, not for other proposals which have gone by, but for a provision which, if adopted, he must know, as well as I do, would seriously affect the finances of Tasmania. I hope that,. before the Bill is passed, if not before it is taken into Committee, he will offer some remarks on that point. I admit that he may have a ready defence, which, however, I hope he will not use, because to use it would be to put every other honorable senator in an unfair position. He might say that, with a full recognition of the position, he deliberately decides to take away from Tasmania a possibility of raising revenue, in order to provide for a system, of old-age pensions. That is the difficulty with which we are confronted, and that, I repeat, is the devilish, -ingenuity of the scheme. There is not a single man in the Senate who does not recognise that he is going to be put. in a false position, do what he may, with regard to this Bill. There is not a possibility of the most ardent member of the Labour Party, or, for that matter, of any honorable senator on this side of the Chamber, whom the members of the Labour Party ma.v consider to be their chief antithesis, getting out of the difficulty created bv the Bill. The honorable senator, who is most anxious to provide an old-age pensions scheme, will have to admit, if he is challenged for voting for the Bill, that in order to provide it he has agreed to tax tea and kerosene. Many honorable senators have distinctly, deliberately, and plainly refused to sanction duties on tea and kerosene, because they decline to put taxes upon poor people. Yet if we vote for this Bill, we shall be liable to be charged with having deliberately taxed those people who are least able in the Commonwealth to bear taxation. If, on the other hand, we vote against it, what will be said? We all know that there are difficulties in the way of providing oldage pensions. Every one realizes that. But if we do not accept this method it will be said, “ When some means were suggested whereby the difficulties could be overcome you refused to take advantage of them.” What is the position of men in this Senate who have been accused, rightly or wrongly, of being opposed to the scheme altogether? Their position is even worse. They will be told at once, “You took the first and easiest opportunity of finding an excuse for refusing to grant old-age pensions. You were not bold enough to say you were against the whole scheme, but you took advantage of this particular Bill, because you alleged it interfered with the ‘ Braddon blot,’ to vote against it.” I say that that charge would be a most unfair one. There is not a single member of this Senate against whom it could be made with fairness and justice. But nevertheless that is the position in which the Government places us by asking us to pass this Bill. There are many other reasons why the Bill should be opposed. Let us come to a salient feature of it. It is proposed to allocate ‘Special duties foi a special purpose. Senator Stewart said, and I believe he spoke with accuracy, that no parallel to such a’ provision can be found in any part of the world where the English tongue is spoken. No such parallel has been shown, and I venture to say that there is none within the recollection of any honorable senator. If only on the ground that the principle of allocating special duties for special purposes is inherently bad, and impossible to justify, I do not believe that any honorable senator will rise in his place to defend it. If such a defendant is found, then this is a criticism that can be applied at once and rightly - if we are going to allocate special duties for a special purpose, why does not the Government state in the Bill what the special duties and the special purpose are? If it be desirable to allocate duties on ten, and kerosene for this purpose, we have to admit that they would be largely paid by the poorer persons in the community. Whether we approve of such duties or not for revenue purposes, no one can gainsaythat their effect is to press with severity on the poorer classes. But why should tea and kerosene be chosen? Is there no item in the whole range of our Tariff exemptions that offers some slight justification for selection except tea and kerosene? I can instance one - not that I should vote for it or approve of it, though I say that if we are going to specialize we should do so in the direction of some luxury. It is obvious that one article which might be mentioned is stimulants. There would be just a shadow of a pretext for saving that if that were proposed it would be taxing the drink of the people; but the reply would be that it was being taxed to provide for persons, many of whom require old-age pensions because of drink. On that point no one can offer any firm denial . But, as I have said, specialize where you like and how you will, the principle is a wrong one, and we have no right to adopt it. But I have to look at this matter from yet another aspect. We all recognise that this Bill is an attempt, whether for good motives or bad, to impose upon four States in the Commonwealth the will of the Federal Parliament. We know that at present there are two States that have old-age pensions systems. We recognise that there are difficulties in regard to an old-age pensions scheme unless it is made Federal. I admit that. We recognise that it is desirable that an old-age pensions scheme should have an application over the whole Com- monwealth. No one will, venture to deny that. But, admirable as such a scheme may be, desirable as it may be from that point of view, it is quite another thing when the Federal Parliament puts itself in the position of saying that four States have not passed legislation which, in its opinion, they ought to have passed - in other words, have not provided old-age pensions - and that we therefore take upon ourselves to pass such a measure as will compel them to do it.
– What was the use of putting the provision in the Constitution if it were not for that purpose?
– It was put there for a laudable purpose^ but Senator McGregor will recognise that the Constitution does not provide that we should break one section of it in order to give effect to another. The Constitution was intended by its framers to be read as one whole. But if we are going to give oldage pensions, there are many_ other ways of doing it than that now proposed. It is not impossible to obtain a sufficient sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. But I cannot conceive of any scheme for getting over the difficulty - which I most readily admit - that deserves more severe condemnation than the one now before us. The Braddon section was put in the Constitution, as we all know, to protect the smaller States. But the figures I have quoted have, at any rate, justified any honorable senator who heard me in coming to the conclusion that Tasmania, not to mention Queensland and other .States, mav one day be in great and dire necessities with regard to the amount of revenue which she receives from Customs and Excise. The day mav come when Tasmania, or some other State, may say, “ Much as we regret it, we have to urge our representatives in the Federal Parliament to pet_us more revenue.” J am not saying whether that is right or wrong. I have certain views, which it would be needless for me to mention now. with respect to the revenue. But we h’a.ve to face facts as we find them; and we find that this Bill proposes to take away from the smaller States the one spec.cial safeguard that the framers of the Constitution gave to them. I cannot help referring to another aspect. Can any member ofl the Senate deny that this Bill is framed in the vaguest possible way ? We understand from what the Minister has said, and from our general knowledge, that it is intended to tax tea and kerosene in order to provide funds for old-age pensions.
– Not necessarily so. I merely said that that was one form of taxation. I have not said that tea and kerosene would be taxed.
– I accept that answer gladly. My reply to it is that ‘this scheme is bad enough if it has the clear and definite object of providing the money for old-age pensions bv taxing tea and kerosene. But if the Minister admits that the Bill does not say that at all, and that we are asked to take steps to pass a Bill which will enable the Federal- Parliament to tax anything whatever that is not mentioned in the Tariff, for any purpose whatever that the Federal Parliament or the Executive may at any time decide, he adds further condemnation to the Bill. He does nothing to justify it, because he makes it more vague. Is it a justification to Parliament that the more the motive of a Bill is concealed, the more it is desirable to pass it ? That is not mv idea of a Bill ; and it is for this reason that I have endeavoured, as every honorable senator should endeavour, to direct my criticism to the object that is clearly implied and understood in connexion with the Bill. I hope that Senator Playford will not justify it by saying that it is even vaguer than it purports to be.
– It opens up the whole question for Parliament to say whether it will raise revenue for a special purpose. We can put the purpose in if the honorable senator likes.
– It is an easy task for any honorable senator who will take up the Customs and Excise Tariffs to ascertain what items are left untaxed. I, at any rate, have not heard any honorable senator give an indication of other items except tea and kerosene, which are likely to be taxed for this purpose.
– There are no other items.
– We arrive at that conclusion by eliminating all other possibilities. There are no other items that any member of the Senate can name, unless Senator Playford can throw light on the subject. But if we approach this subject in a business-like way, we ought to be told by the Government whether, in their opinion, duties on tea and kerosene would yield sufficient revenue to provide pensions to the extent of £1,500,000. Has the Minister indicated any particular duties that will be sufficient to raise that revenue? I have seen a number of estimates made, based on the taxation of tea and kerosene, and, while I cannot guarantee the accuracy of them, nor even venture to make an estimate myself, I do believe that it can be safely assumed that aduty of 3d. per lb. on tea and 6d. per gallon on kerosene will not raise anything like £1,500,000.
– There is talk of a duty of 5d. per lb. on, tea.
– I have mentioned the duties of 3d. per lb. on tea, and 6d. per gallon on kerosene because those were thedutiesmentionedwhenwewerediscussing the Tariff in the first Commonwealth Parliament.
– The duties first mentioned were 3d. per lb. on tea, and 3d. per gallon on kerosene.
– A - And it was estimated that the duties then, proposed, whatever they were, would produce £700,000- or £800,000.
– I am speaking on the -safe side; and I say that duties of 3d. and 6d. would, in the opinion of competent persons, raise no more than £500,000.
– - The amount would be £700,000.
– Then I shall accept £700,000, because, as I say, I desire to be safe.
– That is about half the amount required.
– Will Senator Playford indicate where the other half is to come from? There is nothing else left to be taxed, and are we to be forced to the conclusion that, if this is a business proposition, we shall have to face the possibility of a duty of 6d. per . lb. on tea and a duty; of1s. per gallon on kerosene? I venture to say that, if Ministers were bold enough to make a statement to that effect - if they were bold enough to say that they had gone into the question, and had decided to raise the £.1,500,000 by such duties - this Bill would be defeated on the second reading by an enormous majority.
– And then the kerosene duties, in a few years, might yield nothing, because there is a bigshale deposit in New South Wales, which is in process of development.
– Even if we grant, that a duty on tea may for all time operate as a revenue duty - though that is not certain - it is extremely debatable whether a duty on kerosene would also produce revenue for all time. It is not only truethat we may produce kerosene ourselves, in which case a duty of1s. per gallon, would prove to be largely protective, instead of revenue-producing ; but it is a. fact, as disclosed in a recent debate, that in a short time there may be found some substitute for kerosene. Only a few days ago I expressed the opinion that a most promising industrial opening in the Commonwealth was the production of alcohol: at such cheap rates as to make it likely that it will largely supplant kerosene. If that hope be realized - and no one in, the Senate would fail to be glad if it were - the revenue from the kerosene duties would be a diminishing quantity. What would thenhappen to the old-age pensions scheme? Are the Government prepared to tell the old-age pensioners that the kerosene duties having failed to produce revenue, there areno other sources of taxation to which we can resort?
– I - If the Government found a decreasing revenue from kerosene, couldthey not try some other source?
– What other source ?
– We have the wholerange of Customs and Excise, and of direct taxation as well.
– I am glad that Senator O’Keefe has come into the chamber to offer a solution that no other honorable senator has ventured even to hint at. Senator O’Keefe will observe that this Bill provides for special duties of Customs or of Excise - upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duty on the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, and imposed expressly for specific purposes.
Goodness knows what the Ministry may ask us to do before the session is over; but I do not think they will ask us to sweep away half of the items in the Customs Tariff before the 1st January, 1907, in order to give freer latitude for thisprovision.
– T - The honorable senator seems to have the idea that there are only two items on which to raise the revenue, and that, if the revenue de- must go. Are there no other items besides those two? The honorable senator may answer me without asking me to name a particular item.
– I do not ask the honorable senator particularly to discharge that duty, but I ask any member of the Senate to name an item.
– That is, an item -which willyield the necessary revenue.
– An item that will yield a revenue worthy of the name - that is, a revenue that will approximate to £1,500,000 within, say, £50,000. From my experience of the last eighteen -months I ought to know something of the contents of the Customs and Excise Tariffs ; and I may tell Senator O’Keefe that the items on the free list are there with the specific intention, in almost every case, of encouragingthe industries of the Commonwealth. Those items simply represent raw material - articles which, in the opinion of both free-traders and protectionists, it is desirable to admit free of duty ire order to promote the industrial welfare of the Commonwealth.
– Do not forget that for tea we have a substitute in coffee, which is being produced in Australia.
– I do not forget the fact, but: I do not lay much stress on it, because Ithink that for a long time any duty on tea must produce a good revenue.
– But if there were a duty of 6d. per lb. or.’ tea, together with a bonus on the production of coffee, the importation of tea would diminish.
-That is very probable. No ingenuity is sufficient to find any purely revenue-producing items, outside kerosene and tea. Can we contemplate the alternative that, in order to attempt - because it will lamentably fail - to find sufficient revenue for old-age pensions, we are to tax some of those articles which we have deliberately left free in order to promote the industrial welfare of the Commonwealth?
– We have the whole range of direct taxation to fall back onas well.
– I wish Senator Playford would resort to his whole range -of direct taxation, and stick to it. What Senator Playford is now saying is, “Here as a Bill for indirect taxation, but, if it fails let us resort to direct taxation.”
– Raise a portion of the revenue by one method, and a portion by the other method.
– That is a poor justification for breaking the Commonwealth Constitution - for doing something which will undoubtedly hamper and make still more difficult the work of the States in financing their affairs. Moreover, I venture to say that this is a proposal which will never see the light of day. Does Senator Playford or any one else believe that if direct taxation be resorted to for this purpose it will be merely as an auxiliary? If it be agreed that direct taxation ought to provide the means for old-age pensions, we may be certain that Parliament will not make two bites at that sort of cherry. If Parliament once decides that direct taxation must supply the needs, it will definitely, finally, and conclusively decide that direct taxation must provide all sufficient funds for the purpose. I do not wish to dwell any longer on that aspect, but it is one which ought to be seriously considered. If any honorable senator thinks that by voting for this Bill, in spite of his strong objections to taxing the articles usedby the poor, he will succeed in establishing old-age pensions, I tell him that he will lamentably fail in his object. He will fail by a long way, and his efforts will simply result in gross injustice and unfair treatment.
– Oh !
– As the Tariff is at present framed-
– Would the honorable senator wait for three years, and then take the necessary money out of the Consolidated Revenue?
– I repeat that an honorable senator who votes for the Bill will find that he has committed an act of gross unfairness and injustice to the class whose interests he desires to promote, and, at the same time, he . will miserably fail to give them any sort of compensation in the form of old-age pensions. How much revenue does Senator O’Keefe imagine would be derived in Tasmania from a duty on tea and kerosene? How much would Tasmania have to provide for an old-age pensions scheme? ‘If the honorable senator will consider those two questions, he will find that there’ would be created a deficit with which it would be impossible to cope. Unless tea and kerosene were taxed beyond all reason, there would be ludicrous failure to provide sufficient money for any such scheme for. Tasmania. Will Senator O’Keefe allow this Bill to fool him - to allow the delusive, hopes of the Ministry to trap him into imposing a duty which otherwise he would absolutely refuse to impose?
– Why does the honorable senator ‘ worry about his colleague from Tasmania? Cannot he leave his colleague alone ?
– I am not hurting my colleague; I am offering no remarks that he resents.
– I should resent them if I were Senator O’Keefe.
– S - SenatorClemons need not worry about my falling into a trap. I shall give my reasons when the honorable senator has finished.
– Are some of Senator demons’ colleagues kicking over the traces ?
– D - Do not call me a colleague of Senator Clemons because I voted with him on the Railway Survey Bill.
– I am not ashamed that Senator O’Keefe- should be my colleague. If Senator O’Keefe chooses to deny me as a colleague, I should not deny him.
– A - At anyrate, we were very loyal colleagues over the Railway Survey Bill.
– When I quarrel with Senator O’Keefe on “the floor of the Senate, I can assure Senator de Largie that both Senator O’Keefe and myself will be quite able to look after our own affairs, without his intervention. It is quite open to any honorable senator to charge the Government with using this Bill as an electioneering placard. Whether that charge be true or not, any honorable senator, under the circumstances, would be justified in taking that view. The Government will doubtless say that for five years the Federal Parliament have played with this most important question of old-age pensions, and that no Government, until they came into power, proved itself capable of offering a solution. They will point to the various Governments which have been in power, previously, and I have no hesitation in saying that they will emphasize the fact that when the Labour Party was in office, with all its enthusiasm, nothing was done to promote old-age pensions. But this deus ex machina - this heavengifted Ministry - is the one Ministry to ask the electors to send them back to power with sufficient support to carry such measures as this !
– More credit to them if they can do what no other Government has done.
– Then the more discredit to the Labour Ministry. If it is any consolation to Senator de Largie that the present Ministry can do more for the establishment of old-age pensions than the Labour Ministry could do, I will ask the honorable senator to go on to the public platform and say so.
– The Labour Ministry had a tenure of office extending over only three months.
– One would have thought that even three months would be sufficient time to enable a Labour Ministry, not, perhaps to carry out, but to indicate an honest endeavour to solve this question, and, at least, a capacity to do so. It is no concern of mine if Senator de Largie, at the coming elections, proposes to eulogise the present Ministry.
– We shall be at peace in the coming elections.
– I warn the members of the Labour Party that, whilst the party with which I am especially connected is not likely to give them any peace, in many respects they will get no peace from the present Government, who, with their supporters, will make use of this very measure to induce the electors to believe that where, the Labour and every other Ministry has failed, the present Government alone have been able to submit a feasible scheme to give pensions to all the poor old people in the Commonwealth to relieve themfrom their miseries.
– More credit to them.
– I should be prepared to say more credit to them if I could believe that they were sincere, and that this measure is not a sham and a pretence, or that, if carried, anything would be done under it to give effect to so laudable an object. If I am satisfied however, that that hope will never be realized, as a consequence of this measure, why should I say, “ More credit to the Government?” I saythat noMinistry has any right to attempt to delude those who are looking for old-age pensions into the belief that they will get them under the operation of the Bill we are now asked to pass. I shall be no party to such an attempt. Even members of the Labour Party who have spoken on the measure have condemned it. We know what Senator Stewart’s views of the Bill are - the honorable senator spoke of it as “ cruel, cunning,” and he did not say half enough when he said that.
– S - Senator Stewart is opposed to the Bill on entirely different grounds from the honorable senator. He would not raise a penny of revenue through the Customs, and favours direct taxation.
– I have admitted already that the devilish ingenuity of this Bill is such that there is no point of public interest which is not touched by it, and no individual senator, let alone a political party in the Senate, that does not find himself confronted with a difficulty that seems almost insuperable. Senator Stewart is not alone in this respect. I am under as great a difficulty in dealing with the mea-. sure as he is, though not for the same reasons.
– B - But although the honorable senator would help Senator Stewart to defeat the Bill, he would not help the honorable senator to carry his scheme for the establishment of old-age pensions.
– What is Senator Stewart’s scheme?
– T - To establish the fund by direct taxation.
– The time has not yet come when I am asked to agree to Senator Stewart’s scheme. But if I might venture to guess what it is, I say that the time is rapidly coming when we shall all of us have to deal with the basis of the system of finance as between the Federation and the States, and will have to overhaul and entirely alter the existing conditions. To that extent I am in entire agreement with Senator Stewart. Whether in the process of overhauling we shall be found acting together is quite another question. I agree with the honorable senator, as every other member of the Senate must be forced to do, that the time is almost imminent when we shall have to give far more serious consideration to the financial questions of immense importance which confront us than the present Government have done, or have given us the opportunity to do during the closing days of the session. This Bill, and another which was before us, are merely miserable, contemptible make-shifts for postponing the consideration of the financial question. They are deserving of no more consideration than should be given to a temporary expedient. Senator Playford will not assert that this Bill is any more than a temporary expedient, or that it will solve the question.
– It is an attempted solution. We are asking the electors to agree to our proposal.
– And what are we to tell the electors? I shall have to tell them something, if I stand for re-election.
– The honorable senator will not know what to say to them. He is evidently in a very great fix.
– I am in no greater fix than Senator Playford will be.
– If they ask what articles are to be taxed, what will the Minister say?
– I shall say that that is a matter for the consideration of Parliament.
– If Senator Playford says that he is in no fix, it means that he will tell the electors all sorts of things about this Bill which he will not tell the Senate. If I can gather anything from his interjection, it means that he knows a great deal more than he will tell the Senate, and I think it is his duty to give us the information which he is prepared to communicate to the electors. Whatever the Minister has to say to the electors, I’ shall be unable to tell them anything concerning this Bill which will be satisfactory, and I have not yet heard any honorable senator speak to the measure who will be able to do so, unless we except Senator Playford, and there was nothing in his remarks which would be con.sidered very satisfactory by the electors. At the risk of repeating what I said on another occasion, I have to say that I think the Senate should resent, with some effect and purpose, the conduct of the Government in asking us to deal with the financial Question in such a piecemeal way, and at a time when they know that proper consideration cannot be given to it. At the risk of an interjection from Senator Playford. I have to say that this measure, again,, is bound up with the ‘Braddon section, and also with the bookkeeping provisions. The Government is once more tinkering with the whole business, and doing nothing that will be permanent; nothing, in fact, but shelving the solution of the difficulty. We are going, by this measure, to impose upon the ignorance and credulity of the electors, and we must confess ourselves unable to understand what, as members of the Federal Parliament, we should have at our fingers’ ends. That is the position in which the Ministry are placing us. I ask every member of the Senate, unless he is clear as to what this Bill will lead to, and can approve of’ the object, both as to the methods and results, to do his utmost to have the measure rejected.
– - Senator Clemons, in an interesting speech, has said that he anticipates that, at the coming elections, hard things will be said of honorable senators who vote against this Bill. Although he and I will be voting on opposite sides, and standing on opposite platforms, if we both seek reelection in Tasmania, I can give him my word that I shall not say anything harsh about him, or about any other member of the Senate who is opposed to me on this Bill. Surely we can give each other credit for honest convictions on the question of old-age pensions? I believe that if Senator Clemons were, satisfied that the necessary revenue could be raised without injury to Tasmania, .and believed in oldage pensions, he would vote for the Bill. At present, I do not remember whether the honorable senator Has declared himself in favour of, or against, old-age pensions. Amongst those who have so declared themselves, is Senator Drake, who, last night, said that we all had the question at heart, and believe that old-age pensions should be established as soon as possible - if a scheme can be adopted which will be consistent with the requirements of the different States. Old-age pension schemes are in operation in two of the States, and Senator Drake asked why the Parliaments of the other States did not raise the necessary funds. I do not know what difficulty presents itself in Queensland against the raising of a fund for this purpose, but in Tasmania there is an insuperable bar to the raising of such a fund. Even if that State were not suffering from financial difficulties
– The surplus there was £45,000 last year.
– I - I know more about, the surplus, and the way in which it wasobtained, than ‘ does Senator Walker. If Tasmania derived as much revenue from Customs now as she did prior to Federation, there would still be an insuperable bar to the establishment of old-age pensions in that State. I honestly believe that the Legislative Council of Tasmania would never consent to pass an old-age pensions, scheme. I believe in old-age pensions, and it is because I believe it would be impossible. under existing conditions, to carry such a scheme in Tasmania, owing to the peculiar Constitution of the Legislative Council in that State, that I must fall back upon the Federal Parliament to pro-: vide a scheme.
– The honorable senator wishes the Federal Parliament to impose a tax upon the people of Tasmania because the State Parliament will not do it?
– -Th -The Constitution has given the Federal Parliament the power to impose taxation upon the people of Tasmania, and, possibly, some of the taxationnow imposed through Customs and Excise does not find favour with many people in that State. We cannot quarrel with that, however, because the majority of the people, in accepting, the Constitution, agreed that the Federal Parliament should have the power to deal with the matter. That is, I think, a very pertinent answer to the’ interjection. Surely the Parliament of the Commonwealth is not exceeding its province in projecting a scheme to raise the necessary money? If, as I believe, the majority of the members in each House - and I believe I can include Senator Clemons in the number - are in favour of establishing a Federal scheme of old-age pensions, then what we have to consider is, how can the money be raised. I admitthat in the case of Tasmania it becomesa very serious question. Although I recognise that Senator Clemons is quite honest and fair in objecting to the proposal owing to the financial position of’ the State, still he should give me creditfor sincerity of conviction and honesty of purpose when I state that, in voting for the Bill, after weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, I shall be doing the right thing in the interests of its people, and one to which they will not object when” they thoroughly understand the position.
– I do not . know about that ; but I believe that the honorable senator is voting as he thinks right.
– T - The other point will be decided at the elections, when it may be a burning question. I propose to vote in a direction in which I have spoken for six or sevenyears. I have been waiting until I am tired of waiting for an opportunity to give a vote in the direction of finding the money for a system of old-age pensions, even although the scheme proposed does not quite come up to my ideal. We cannot possibly provide the fund out of” the surplus now returnable to the States without doing an injury to at least two States. Certainly Tasmania could not afford to provide £68,000 a year for that purpose.
– How does the honorable senator expect Customs duties upon tea and kerosene to provide that sum?
E. - That is a very pertinent interjection which I expected to hear. It will be remembered that when the Tariff was sent up to the Senate, it provided for a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea, and 3d. per gallon on kerosene. It has been estimated that, if imposed, a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea and 6d. per gallon on kerosene would yield between £700,000 and £800,000 to the Commonwealth.
– How much would be Tasmania’s share?
– I d I do not think it is necessary for us to consider that question. What we have to consider is, what would be her share of the proposed expenditure calculated on a population basis. It would be £68,000.
– What would be her share of the revenue raised by the special duties ?
– T - That does not matter in the slightest degree.
– How does the honorable senator propose to provide the shortage ?
– M - My idea is that if £750,000 - that is, one-half of the sum required - be raised from Customs duties on tea and kerosene, then, assuming that there are no other taxable articles which would yield anything like a fair amount of revenue forthe purpose, I would resort to direct taxation in order to get the balance. So far as I can estimate from information I have obtained, the graduated land tax on unimproved values with an exemption of £5,000 projected by the Federal Labour Party–
– But the honorable senator calls that a penal tax. not a revenue tax.
– Nev Never mind whether it is penal or not. It is estimated on fairly good ground that, for a certain time at least, it would provide a revenue of £500,000 a year. I do not think that I need be asked to consider what amount Tasmania would raise by the imposition of Customs duties on tea and kerosene. The question is whether, by the imposition of such duties throughout the Commonwealth, and by the levying of a direct land tax, we could make up a revenue of £1,500.000 for the purpose of providing old-age pensions.
– The honorable senator would practically ear-mark the revenue from the land tax for the pensions fund?
SenatorO’KEEFE. - I donot think that it could be ear-marked for a better purpose. I fancy, from his interjection, that the honorable senator and I are looking at the question from different standpoints. I began by saying that, like myself, he is in favour of granting old-age pensions as soon as he can see that the money can be provided without doing injury to Tasmania. I am. still left in the dark as to whether I am right in that supposition.
– I have said here dozens of times that I believe in the principle of old-age pensions. Hansard will prove my statement.
– I a I am glad to. hear the explanation, because one does not always remember what has appeared in Hansard. The honorable senator is in the same position as Senator Dobson, who, I think, deserves the thanks of the Senate for his extremely interesting speech. Certainly, he has made himself acquainted withevery authority on the subject. Those two honorable senators say that they are in favour of a. system of old-age pensions, but that their State cannot afford the expenditure at the present time. I am in favour of a system of oldage pensions. Certainly, it would bea hardship if the sum of £68,000 were taker out of the revenue now returnable to Tas mania. Although I am pledged tovote in favour of old-age pensions, still, ifthe
Bill proposed to allocate to that purpose a sum from that source, I should have to consider very seriously whether I would bejustified in voting for it or not.
– That is all I said. I carefully said that the Bill would not yield anything like enough for the purpose.
– I - It might yield a little or much. We can only estimate what it will yield from our knowledge of what similar duties have yielded.
– I also said that it is a wrong source from which to get money for this purpose.
– Did Did not a number of the free-traders, when we were considering the Tariff, assert that tea and kerosene were articles which could fairly be taxed for revenue purposes?
– I d I do not remember for the moment whether the honorable senator voted for or against the duty on tea.
– I voted for it.
– At At that time the honorable senator was in favour of retaining the duty of 3d. per lb. on tea, and 3d. per gallon on kerosene. Why ? In the interests of the revenue of Tasmania.
– I - If those duties had been retained, they would have yielded additional revenue to Tasmania. Yet the honorable senator says now that he is opposed to their re-impositibn.
– F - For this specific purpose, because I think it is cruel to say to these old people : ‘ ‘ We intend to give you old-age pensions, and to . make you provide most of the money yourselves.”
– T - That argument has been done to death. My honorable friend leaves it to be understood that, if the Government were empowered to impose special duties on tea and kerosene for a special purpose, the taxation would fall upon the poor old people who were intended to get the benefit of the legislation. That is a hollow argument. Is it only those persons who use tea and kerosene? Do not a very large proportion of the population, of Australia use them ? And would they not also have to pay the duties, if imposed ? What proportion of the total population would ‘be entitled to old-age pensions? I suppose that, after deducting the infants under a certain ace.90 per cent, of the population are heavy teadrinkers, and that probably 50 per cent, use kerosene, and therefore would pay the duty,’ if imposed.
– I - I do not know the exact percentage;, because I have never seen any figures.
– How much kerosene is used for lighting purposes now in the large cities?
– Doe Does the honorable senator mean to say that there is a large proportion of the aged people of this country who would draw the old-age pensions ifthey were established? What is that proportion, and what is the proportion of those who would pay the tax on tea? I venture to say that 90 per cent. of the people of this country over a certain age would pay their share of the tax on tea. It is idle to say that it is cruel to impose taxes on tea and kerosene because those taxes would strike at the poor people who would receive the benefit.
– I did hot use that argument. What I said was that it is the sort of argument that might be used by some honorable senators opposite.
– I - It appears to me to be perfectly clear that almost every one of the people who will derive benefit from an old-age pensions scheme will pay their share towards it.Ninety per cent. of them use tea, and a very large proportion consume kerosene. Another argument used against what is proposed is that the time is not opportune. When will it be Opportune? I do not like to say it, but I am somewhat doubtful of the sincerity of those who profess to believe in old-age pensions, and yet, when any definite scheme is put before them, say that they are opposed to it because it is not opportune. If we desire to see a Federal old-age pensions scheme established, we ought not to allow any small obstacles to stand in the way. We ought, indeed, to be willing to forego some of our- opinions as to the way in which the money should be realized, in order to secure the great end we have in view. The argument used by Senator Clemons, that he is opposed to placing taxes on tea and kerosene for this particular purpose, seems to me to be absurd in view of the fact that in the next breath -he said that he was in favour of old-age pensions, and wouldpay them on the security of the revenue. How would he propose to raise that revenue? His arguments seem to me to be mutually destructive of each other. I fancy that the honorable senator’s zeal to defeat this measure has led him into a position that cannot be logically maintained
– Does the honorable senator suggest that in Tasmania we should have both a Federal and a State land tax?
– Whe When the proper time comes I will explain my views on that subject, but perhaps I may say now, in reply to the ‘honorable senator’s inquiry, that I am in favour of the imposition of a direct tax on the unimproved value of land, with an exemption up to £5,000.
– In addition to the State tax?
– I - In addition to the State tax, because there are very few estates in Tasmania that would be ‘hit bv it.
– Because it would only rob a few, the honorable senator would rob them ?
– Tha That is a very big question, upon which mv honorable friend and I might argue until Christmas without coming any nearer to an agreement. While the primary purpose of the land tax advocated by the Federal Labour Party is to assist. in breaking up large estates, I also” think that it would, for a time at any rate, raise a certain amount of revenue - probably £500,000 a year, which, in addition to the £750,000 estimated to be derived from tea and kerosene, would ma’ke up about the amount required - according to the estimate of the Old-Age Pensions Commission - for the purpose we have in view. I confess that I should have preferred that some other means had been projected by the Government for finding the money.
– Hear, hear.
– I - I wonder whether the honorable senator will say “Hear, hear” to my next sentence. I should prefer that those means were the na tiona! i- “zation of the tobacco industry of Australia.
– Oh !
– T - There is no “Hear, hear.” this time ! The difference between the honorable senator and myself is that I believe we should gain a great deal more revenue bv nationalizing the tobacco industry than we derive from it through Customs and Excise under private ownership, and that that difference would go a con siderable way towards paying old-age pensions. That is” why I have said that I should favour other means of raising the revenue than that projected by the Government. Does my honorable friend agree with me in that?
– Certainly not.
– The Then it all comes back to this - does he agree that we should raise the money by direct taxation ? Suppose I were to consent to assist to kick this Bill out - will my honorable friends opposite, supposing they have a chance in the near future, agree to impose direct taxation, either on incomes or land, for the purposes of old-age pensions ?
– I will agree to take the money out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– As As it stands at present ?
– Of course, it would have to be made lip for the purpose.
– T - The Government proposes to make it up by imposing taxes on tea and kerosene. Will my honorable friends. Senators Dobson, Macfarlane, and Clemons tell me plainly what sources of revenue they would prefer. If they do not, though I do not like to question their sincerity, I must be pardoned for saying that people outside will be excusable if they question the sincerity of any man who says, “ I want old-age pensions as soon as we can get them,” but who, when you ask him from what source he proposes to raise the money, gives you no definite answer, except that he would take it from the Consolidated Revenue. I am quite sure that Senator Dobson would never agree to- take the money from the Consolidated Revenue as it stands at present. Would he; agree that the £250,000 returned to Tasmania from Customs and Excise should be decreased by £68,000 for the purposes of old-age pensions ?
– I have already said that I believe in the recommendation of the Royal Commission that the money should come out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– The Then I may take it that if the Government brought in a scheme under which thev proposed to take the money out of the Consolidated Revenue, the honorable senator would not object to it ?
– It would all depend on what the scheme was.
– S - Suppose it were proposed to pay 7s. or 8s. a week?
– I have said that I believe that we can pav that.
– I - If it would cost £750,000 per annum to pay a pension of 7s. or 8s. a week, how much would it cost to pay a pension of 10s. ?
– Probably £1,000,000. But I propose that the workers should pay their share.
– The The honorable senator said just now that he would agree that the pension should be paid 011^ of the Consolidated Revenue.
- Senator Dobson has spent an hour and a half in explaining what his scheme is.
– A - Any sum that is taken from the Consolidated Revenue for this purpose will necessarily decrease the amount returnable to Tasmania. It is because I believe that the Treasurer of Tasmania has sufficient difficulties in his path already that I am not favorable to any policy which would decrease that . revenue. I therefore favour giving the people an opportunity, by referendum, to intrust the Federal Parliament with authority to tax special articles for this special purpose. And, after all, any proposal for taxing tea and kerosene - or, indeed, any other article - must be passed by Parliament. It cannot be agreed to otherwise. We have been talking for five years in the Federal Parliament at one time and another about the necessity for granting old-age pensions: These Commonwealth old-age pensions are intended to take the place of the pensions now paid in New South Wales and Victoria, and to make similar provision throughout the States. , I can say that I am thoroughly tired of advocating old-age pensions, both on the platform and in this Parliament, without taking some definite step to establish them : and this is absolutely the first time I have had an opportunity to vote on the direct question. It is true that the Bill does not mention the exact purposes to which this revenue shall be applied, and, perhaps, it would be better if it were stated in the Bill that the intention is to establish old-age pensions. I am not altogether in love with the means proposed for raising the revenue, but, like a great many people in Australia I aim prepared in this matter to take half a loaf rather than no bread. Even if we allow the truth of all the statements we have heard about the cruelty of such taxation to poor people, T believe that the community generally will be quite, willing to pay their share, provided the burden is equally distributed, in order to make provision for our aged poor. Last night Senator Drake mentioned that at the expiration of four years the Braddon section will cease to operate, thereby inferring that this question should be postponed until then, and the necessary money provided out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– I did not say that; I was thinking about the interest on “ the States debts as well.
-Th -The honorable senator in effect asked why we should tinker with the question now, when, at the expiration of four years, it was not imperative that the Braddon section should be retained! and the whole question might be reopened.
– That is so; but what the honorable senator was suggesting just now was what the Minister suggested, namely, that we should wait for three years, and then take the necessary funds out of the Consolidated Revenue. .
– I k I know that if Parliament so decides, the Braddon section, at the expiration of three years, will cease to operate. I hope and .believe, however, that there will be substituted fixed payments, or some other plan, so as to insure that the finances of the States shall not be suddenly and entirely disorganized. I believe that in the opinion of the large- majority of the members of the F’ederal Parliament, the States should continue to have returned to them some proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue; and it appears to me that there is not a great deal of difference between discussing this question now and discussing it three or four years hence. Whilst I certainly should have preferred some other method of raising the revenue, I welcome the Bill as a definite attempt to deal with a question which ought to have been dealt with loner ago. I think the Government are honest in their intention when they argue that a very considerable proportion qf the necessary revenue may be obtained if the power sought by the Bill be conferred. It is not said by the Government that the special tax on the two articles, which” have been mentioned, will provide the whole of the necessary funds; and to the Governmnent of the day must be left the duty of providing the balance. Mv own hope is that that balance may be obtained by the imposition of a duty on the unimproved value of land, with an exemption of £5,000. I believe that from those two sources sufficient revenue would be obtained; and I support the second reading of the Bill as an honest attempt to deal with a matter which has agitated the nub.lic mind for a considerable time.
– I yield to no one in my belief in the principle of direct taxation ; and I sympathize very much with the remarks of Senator Stewart. I have always advocated that the Commonwealth should resort to direct, rather than1 indirect, taxation for the purpose of meeting the additional charge caused by the institution of old-age pensions. But we have to face facts and not theories. There is not a considerable body of members of the Commonwealth Parliament who are prepared to impose such direct taxation as would raise the money necessary for the payment of old-age pensions ; and, that being so, we must drop theories and come to some practical issue. Much as I should have liked to see the revenue raised by direct taxation, I find that that is impracticable. There is now a proposal for an alteration in the Constitution in order to get over the difficulty created by the Braddon section, and to enable the Commonwealth Government to have at their disposal sufficient money to carry out the scheme which is contemplated. First, I may say that I am strongly against the ear-marking of special taxation for special purposes. I do not recognise, however, that this Bill does, ear-mark any special revenue. It certainly gives the Government power to impose duties on articles which are not subject to duty on the 1st January, 1907, but the revenue so produced will be paid into the Consolidated Revenue, and section 87 of the Constitution will not apply. It is a mistake to assume, as Senator O’Keefe and others seem to assume, that in voting for this Bill we are ear-marking revenue for old-age pensions - that is not the case. If I thought it was the case, or if Senator O’Keefe’s suggestion was acted upon, and that purpose was stated in the measure, I should vote against it. If we ear-mark revenue for special purposes, the particular class who happen to pay this tax, have their interests put in opposition to those of people who receive the benefit of old-age pensions. If the Government have made up their minds to pay old-age pensions, those pen sions should be paid irrespective qf any particular section of the taxpayers. It is altogether an unsound and unwise principle in finance to ear-mark special duties for special purposes.
– Is that not only a blind? Does it not mean that if a revenue of £1,000,000 be raised on the special articles the States will receive back revenue less by that amount?
– Under the Bill, the duties can be raised only when they are allocated to special purposes.
– But I take it that the money will be paid into the Consolidated Revenue.
– The money is for a special purpose.
– But it does not follow that it is for old-age pensions.
– The Bill speaks of special purposes.
– I am against that provision, and would have it struck out. For instance, the Government have foreshadowed additional expenditure on defence, but is it suggested that there shall be a special tax levied for the purpose of raising the money?
– Certainly, under this Bill - torpedo destroyers.
– I think not. There is nothing in the Bill to indicate that the revenue raised is for the purpose of oldage pensions. Every purpose is a special purpose - every new expenditure is a special purpose - and, therefore, the phrase means nothing in this connexion. The Royal’ Commission 011 old-age pensions, of which I was a member, did not inquire into the advisability of paying such pensions, but took it for granted that the people of the Commonwealth were in favour of the principle. The inquiry was limited to the most economical methods of administration ; and I claim that as one of the results of the work of the Royal Commission, it has been found possible to effect a saving of some £8,000 per annum in the Pensions Department of New South Wales. The evidence- given as to the administration in New South Wales and Victoria, showed that in the former State there was a most wasteful method ; and the saving to which I have indicated must be laid to the credit of the Commission. Those engaged in the inquiry were face to face with the difficulty of financing the scheme, and if- honorable senators will turn to page i 1 of the report of the Royal Commission, paragraph 16, they will find this recommendation -
As “the best means to be adopted for establishing Old-age Pensions for the Commonwealth,” your Commissioners recommend that the pensions be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue. Various suggestions have been made by the different witnesses who have given evidence as to the sources from which additional revenue may be derived. These suggestions include a wages stamp tax, duties on tea and kerosene, an absentee tax, a tax on unimproved land values, a Government monopoly of the tobacco industry, additional duties on intoxicants and matches, and a tax on amusements.
Your Commissioners recommend that during the operation of section 87 of the Constitution, which provides for the return by the Commonwealth to the States of at least three-fourths of the nett revenue from Customs and Excise duties, an arrangement should be made by the Commonwealth with the several States by which sufficient money should be handed over to the Commonwealth for the purpose of making good any deficiency in the Consolidated Revenue caused by the establishment of an old-age pension system.
Honorable senators will notice that we did not recommend any of the suggestions for raising revenue which were brought before us. We purposely avoided doing so, for the very cogent reason that, by the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age pension scheme, New South Wales would be relieved of expenditure to the extent of £500,000, and Victoria to the extent of a little over .£200,000. Although there are no old-age pensions schemes under tha’ name in the other States, in every one of them, apart from charitable institutions and grants, systems are in operation in the nature of old-age pensions, and there was abundant evidence before the Commission to prove that the establishment of a Commonwealth system would relieve each of the States of expenditure to the extent of some thousands of pounds. In the circumstances, we thought it would be a better plan to allow the Commonwealth, to retain from the three-fourths of revenue from Customs and Excise now returned to the States a sum sufficient to pay Commonwealth old-age pensions, and the States Parliament might, by using their powers of direct taxation, or in any other method they thought fit, make up any deficiency, if any were created. I point out that if that plan were adopted, New South Wales, so far from having to meet a deficiency, would make a considerable saving.
– Would have an increased surplus.
– An increased surplus of over £100,000. In Victoria there would be increased expenditure required to the extent of about ,£80,000, and in the other States increased expenditure to the amount of the pension contribution, less the amount which thev are now paying for what are practically old-age pensions schemes. That proposition made by the Royal Commission came before the States Premiers and Treasurers at the Conference held in Sydney in April, 1906, and was fully discussed by them. It was a- tangible, concrete proposition, and the result of their discussion of it, which will be found at page 34 of the report of the proceedings of the Conference, was that the following motion, submitted by Mr. Kidston, was agreed to : -
That it is incumbent on the Federal Government, if it adopts an old-age pension scheme, to provide the revenue required to finance it without trenching upon the Customs revenue now returned to the States.
Therefore, the States Governments have absolutely rejected the proposal to meet the expenditure involved by allowing the Commonwealth to retain from the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue now returned to the States sufficient money to provide the necessary fund, and they have said that if the Commonwealth is going to establish an old-age pensions scheme we must provide the revenue without trenching upon the three-fourths now returned to the States.
– They said the same at Hobart.
– It is significant to note that all through th’e discussion of the matter at the Conference taxes upon tea. and kerosene were mentioned as suitable for this purpose. I should make an exception of the Premier of Tasmania, Captain Evans, who declared himself against the suggestion, not because he objected to taxation upon those articles, but because he considered that the financial condition of his State was such that the revenue which would be derived from such taxation was more urgently required in Tasmania for other State purposes than for the payment of old-age pensions.
– He wanted the three-fourths of that taxation.
– Yes. No other representative of any of the States took serious exception to the taxation of tea and kerosene for the purpose of providing oldage pensions. So that, whilst Senator Millen’s interjection that the States Treasurers are not in favour of the proposal, may be strictly accurate according to the letter, it is not accurate according to the spirit.
– I think it is. They affirmed that if the Commonwealth desired to establish a scheme of old-age pensions they must provide the revenue for it with-, out trenching upon the three-fourths now returned to the States, and they refused to commit themselves to the expression of any opinion as to how the Commonwealth should raise the necessary revenue.
– But every one of them discussed the question of the taxation of tea and kerosene, and Captain Evans, of Tasmania, on the ground I have stated, was the only member of the Conference who raised any objection to that taxation. There appears to be a considerable misapprehension as to what would actually be received from the taxation of these articles. I have gone to the trouble of getting the Customs returns for 1905, and working out the imports of” those articles, in order to find out what might be realized from their taxation. I find that the imports of tea for 1905 amounted to 28,353,903 lbs. The imports of kerosene for the same year were 16,41.6,734 gallons. I have found also that a .duty of 4d. in the. lb. on tea represents an ad valorem duty nf about 60 per cent, on the declared value of the article at the Customs House. A tax of 4d. per gallon on kerosene represents an ad valorem duty of 60 per cent, on the declared value of kerosene at the Customs House. I remind honorable senators that the returns given by the Commissioner are based upon the imports for 1904. I find that a duty of 3d. per lb.
On tea on the imports for 1905 would produce a revenue of £.154,423 ; and a duty Of 3d. per gallon on kerosene a revenue of £205,209, or a total revenue of £559,632. Fourpence in the lb. on tea, which would be a dutv of 60 per cent, ad valorem, as I have explained, would realize £472.564: and 4d. per gallon on kerosene £306,945, or a. total of £779,509. A tax of $d. per lb. on tea and 5<3. per gallon on kerosene was suggested by some of the witnesses who came before the Royal Commission, and 5d. per lb. on tea would realize £590,705, whilst 5d. per gallon on kerosene would realize £408,681, or a total revenue of £999,386. I wish, in justice to my own State, to direct the attention of honorable senators to a singular position which would be created if these special duties were imposed. The Western Australian imports of tea represent onetenth of the total imports of the article, so that if the tax imposed on tea were 4d. per lb. Western Australia would contribute £47.256. Western Australia’s imports of kerosene represent one-eleventh of the total imports, and that State would contribute £27,904 if a duty of 4d. per gallon were imposed on that article. This would give a total contribution from Western Australia of £75,160. Coghlan estimates that on 30th June, 1904, taking New South Wales, and New Zealand experience, the number of eligible persons who would claim oldage pensions in Western Australia was 1,677. and £23 16s. per head of this number would represent £40,000, the amount which would have to be devoted annually to the payment of old-age pensions in that State. So that the taxpayers of Western Australia would be contributing through taxation on tea’ and kerosene £75,160, and receiving in the shape of old-age pensions only £40,000.
– I thought the honorable senator’s recommendation was £26 a vear.
– I have taken the figures given by a statistician, who gave evidence before the Royal Commission.- If the pension were £26 a year, it would mean that Western Australia would get £45,000 in pensions, and would pay in taxation for the purpose of pensions £75,160.
– She would get about £1 for every £2 she paid.
– It would mean that Western Australia would contribute some £30,000 towards the payment -of old-age pensions to people in the eastern States. I do not complain about that.
– What about the bookkeeping system ? Would the honorable senator contend that the bookkeeping system should not be applied to this scheme?
– What the honorable senator mentions would always occur in connexion with a national system, because the old people would naturally be found in greater numbers in some parts of the Commonwealth than in others.
– I recognise that possibly old people in the eastern States might be the parents of children in Western Australia, and I therefore do not think that we should ask that the bookkeeping provisions should be applied to the old-age pensions fund. I have, however, thought it only fair to my State to point out that the special taxation suggested would hit that State more heavily than her pension requirements would necessitate. According to the Budget papers circulated by the Treasurer, it is estimated that, in the comingyear, of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue which may be applied to meet new expenditure, including the amount required for penny postage, there will be a surplus in the case of Western Australia of £311,228. It is true that penny postage is estimated to cost £200,000, but no practical politician will, contend that that proposal is likely to pass this session.
– After what has happened in another place within the last half-_ hour we need not trouble very much about it.
– I do not know what has happened within the last half-hour, but there is very little chance of the proposal being dealt with this session. This would give us a surplus of £511,228, and in Western Australia we should be able to meet the expenditure involved by an oldage pensions scheme out of our existing revenue. In view of the passing of this Bill to provide for the levying of special duties of Customs, I have taken the trouble to look through our import returns, and I find that tea and kerosene are by no means theonly articles upon which we should be justified in levying duties for the purpose of making up any deficit which might be causedby the payment of old-age pensions. I have picked out twenty or thirty items, representing over £10,000,000, but I only propose to take six items, representing nearly £3,000,000 in value. Under the head of “ apparel,” there are on theforce list various items, the annual imports of which amount in value to £211,324.
– Is it not apparel partly made up?
– Is it not the raw material of those who make up apparel?
– It may represent apparelpartly made up.
– It appears in the third column of the schedule as an exemption.
– I took the figures from the Trade and Customs return. On looking through the Tariff, I found a large number of items under the. head of: apparel which are free. The next item is explosives, ammunition, and arms, the imports of which amount in value to
– How about the mining industry ?
– There is something to be said about that industry, but that objection could be urged against every tax which might be proposed.
– Do those figures include the imports by the Government?
– No ; the largest item is dynamite, which represents over. £300,000. I do not wish to be regarded, as advocating the imposition of a duty on these articles. I am only citing them as articleswhich, perhaps, it would be as justifiable to tax as tea and kerosene. The other items are - Bags and sacks, £841,000; books, £445,286.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want to levy a taxon books !
– I do not know. If a man had to make a choice, he might prefer to have his books, rather than his tea, taxed.
– Which man?
– I suppose that the man who was nearest to the animal would prefer to have free tea. Another item is cameo’s and precious stones, the imports of which amount to £103,000. Here is a singular item, which I wondermy protectionist friends allowed to slip - perhaps it is another tribute to the power of the press - and that is printing paper and paper n.e.i., amounting to no less than £718,514.
– A tax on printing paper !
– There are printing mills in the Commonwealth, and the honorable senator, as a good protectionist, ought to give them a little consideration.
– Then we would not get the revenue.
– Perhaps not. There is a number of other items which I couldquote, but I only picked out the items over- £100,000, amounting in the total to £2,845,396. A tax of 10 per cent. on that sum would realize £284,500. On looking through’ the free list, I saw a number of articles which did not seem to me to be raw material. and which could justifiably be taxed if indirect taxation for this purpose can be justified. I know that arguments could be brought against every one of the lines, but I could also bring arguments against the taxation of tea and kerosene. I could easily convince myself that those articles should not be taxed. I consider that if there is a special reason why Customs duties should be imposed to raise money for this purpose, there are items other than tea and kerosene which we might well tax, and thus keep down the tax on those articles to a reasonable limit. Let us assume that a tax on the articles I cited would realize £284,500. A Customs duty of 3d. per lb. on tea and 3d. per gallon on kerosene would realize £559,000. The surplus, after the “ fourth “ was returned to the States, would be £511,000.
– Can the honorable senator really take that into consideration, when it is a rapidly-diminishing amount?
– I think that we can.
– It is decreasing every year, and the Commonwealth has not yet taken over the whole of the Departments.
– My honorable friend will see that, so long as the Commonwealth returned that surplus - and it will be very much smaller this year than it was last, year - when we are dealing with a tangible proposal we have a right to consider the money which is now in our hands. Of course, if there are other services which would have to be carried out by the Commonwealth in the future, and we should not have the necessary money, other taxation would have to be imposed ; but we ought not to make the mistake which, I think Victoria made, of adopting a scheme without first making sure that the money was available.
– Is not the honorable senator making a (miscalculation ? That sum of £300,000 goes back to the States ; we do not retain anything.
– This year we shall return to the States £500,000 over and above what we are bound to return.
– If we ‘are going to spend the £300,000. the States will get still less.
– It is the balance of our “fourth,” which we are. entitled to spend.
– It means a draft on the States to that amount.
– Yes, but it is allowed by the Constitution. That would still leave a deficiency of £146,000. I hope that at the coming elections the electors will return to the Parliament a majority of members who will be pledged to support a progressive land tax. If it were enacted on the lines laid down by the Labour Party, then, judging by results in other places, I think it would realize £500,000 to the Commonwealth. With that sum we should have not only enough to make up the deficiency, but a fair amount to meet other charges.
– But if the tax operated at all it would be a diminishing quantity.
– Yes, but still it would be a- good deal above the deficiency of £146,000. Senator Clemons devoted considerable time to pointing out the special troubles of Tasmania in this regard. I think he said that the State raised £250,000 by Customs and Excise duties. But the Budget papers show that for 1905-6 the indirect taxation in that State yielded £326,395. Then, in order to draw a comparison!, Senator Clemons said that Tasmania raised by direct taxation £247,000, meaning to imply that in each case the percentage was about 50 per cent. While he did not give credit for the full amount raised by indirect taxation, he took too much credit for the amount raised by direct taxation, because he included in the latter the item of licences. On page 665 of his Year Book for 1904, Mr. Coghlan, who is, I suppose, one of our best authorities on matters financial and statistics generally, includes that item in indirect taxation.
– It is only a small item after all.
– It is a pretty large item in Tasmania.
– Our direct taxation per head is £1 4s. 3d. What is the rate in Western Australia?
– According to Coghlan’s Year Book, in 1904 the direct taxation in Tasmania was 15s. 2d. per head, while in Western Australia it was 17s. iod.
– I understand that in that year an income tax was not charged in Tasmania?
– In that year the ability tax was not charged. In South Australia - the State which more nearly approximates to Tasmania in regard to conditions - the direct taxation in 1904 was 1 8s.1d. per head. The indirect taxation was £1 19s. 9d. in Tasmania, £5 13s. 8d. in Western Australia, and £1 19s. in South Australia, so thatwhile the indirect taxation in South Australia and Tasmania was practically equal, the latter was paying 2s. 11d. more per head in direct taxation than the former.
– Has the honorable senator got the latest figures?
– No, except so far as they were given by Senator Clemons today. He included in his figures of direct taxation a sum of £56,000 from income tax, and I think £60,000 from the ability tax, which I may mention hasbeen levied since 1904. In his Year Book for 1904, Mr. Coghlan draws attention to the fact that in Tasmania the income tax is largely derivable from companies, including licences to the conductors of lotteries.
– Tasmania imposes a Stamp duty of 2d. on each 5s. ticket issued by Tattersall’s.
– A tax of 8d. in the £1 is levied on lottery tickets.
– That is why Tasmania pays so much in direct taxation.
– No. When one comes to think of the enormous sum which is invested in consultation and lottery tickets, one can easily see that a very large proportion of the new taxation which has been imposed since1904 is paid, not by the taxpayers of Tasmania, but by the taxpayers on the mainland.
– And Tasmania levies, I understand, a tax of1s. in the £1 on the prize money.
– The ability tax is deducted from the total value of a prize before the prize-winner gets it.
– Tasmania taxes the prize-winners, and also those who run the lottery.
– Does the honorable senator think that the details concerning Tattersall’s ticketshave anything to do with the question before the Senate?
– Senator Clemons raised the point, and I endeavoured to show that Tasmania would be a special’ sufferer if the Bill were passed.
– I would ask the honorable senator not to so into the details.
– Very well, sir. I think that the figures I have given will show that the taxpayers of Tasmania would not be so badly hit as Senator Clemons would have us believe. It has to be borne in mind that Tasmanians are not abnormal consumers of tea and kerosene like the ‘taxpayers of Western Australia are. Therefore, the probability is that the revenue derived from a tax on those articles in Tasmania would be spent there, and possibly a portion of the £30,000 which the people of Western Australia would contribute would go to Tasmania to make up any deficit. Tasmania. I think, is not in any specially bad position in that regard. We are in an awkward position on this question of old-age pensions. There is the financial difficulty staring us in ‘the face. I should like to make it up by direct taxation, but I am not in a position to do so.
– Has not the Government backbone enough to ask us to do that ?
– The Government can only do what its majority will let it do; and, unfortunately, apart from the Labour Party, the supporters of the Government are mostly against the imposition of direct taxation at thepresent time. The leader of the Opposition, Mr. Reid, has been recently going through the Commonwealth denouncing proposals for direct taxation which have been initiated by the Labour Party. Therefore, we are brought up against the position that thereis no possibility of securing, at any rate, sufficient direct taxation to pay old-age pensions. Even the moderate proposal of the Labour Party, if it were carried in its entirety, would notyield sufficient revenue for the purpose. Are we then tosay to the old people of Australia, “ We have been premising you old-age pensions for five years, but we ask you to wait another three years, until we can persuade the people to consent either to a direct Federal tax on incomes or on land values.” I think it would be cruel for us to take up that position. Ihave seen old people in my own State, away up on the gold-fields, who ought to have been taking, their ease in their old age. ekeing out a living by dryblowing ; and I am not going tosay to them, “ We had an opportunity in the Federal Parliament to raise sufficient money to pay old-age pensions, but we rejected it because in three years time we hope to obtain the revenue by direct taxation.”
-Why should not Western Australia have its own scheme?
– The party to which I belong in that State has been advocating this proposal.
– I think it may be said that whilst the Federal authorities are addressing themselves to this question, the States are not likely to do so.
– Quite so.
– Would it not be fair to say that we have power to raise the money by direct taxation if we had the courage to do it.
– That is a fact; and I am prepared to tell the electors that; but I cannot see any prospect of getting a majority to support what I believe in. The most I can see is the prospect of a majority that would be willing to raise £500,000. But there would still be another £500,000 wanted.
– Does notthe honor able senator think that there is a majority in the Senate in favour of his way of raising the money?
– I do not think that there is a majority in either House of the Federal Parliament prepared to impose direct taxation to the necessary extent. This Bill affords one solution of the problem. We have, at the same time, to remember that the Bill has to pass both Houses, and to go before the people for their consent. If the majority of the people in each State agree to this method of raising taxation, the measure will become operative.
– Ifthey do not, we are no further forward.
– That is so; but, at any rate, we shall have given them the opportunity to express their opinion.
– If the people are to be taxed up to the hilt in this way, what is the honorable senator going to do with regard to the bush capital and the Australian Navy ?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means by the bush capital ; but, at any rate, it is not appropriate just now to expatiate on the beauties of the Federal Capital or the glories of an Australian Navy. If the majority of the people of Australia say that they want oldage pensions, and are prepared tofind the money by taxation, this Bill gives them the means. While I regret that I am forced into this position, still I recognise that I am so forced by the logic of facts. I want to give old-age pensions to the people within the next three years, and I recognise, therefore, that the only course open to me is to vote for the Bill.
– I believe, with the last speaker, that we all sympathize with the object in view in granting old-age pensions to our indigent poor. But this Bill introduces a new principle, which may extend indefinitely, and which, it seems to me, is a verydangerous principle indeed. In fact, it reverts to an old system of raising special taxes and ear-marking them for special purposes. It is a system that is still in vogue in Turkey and China, but I fail to see why this Commonwealth should go to those countries for an example.
– It is also in vogue in one or two half-bankrupt South American States.
– That is true, but it is none the more acceptable on that account. When I spoke on the Address-in-Reply at the commencement of the session, I indicated what seemed to me to be a practical way of getting out of the difficulty. New South Wales is paying something like £500,000 a year in old-age pensions, whilst Victoria is paying between £220,000 and £300,000. I suggested that, if the other States were agreeable, an arrangement might be made for old-age pensions to be paid throughout Australia by means of a Federal Commission until the Braddon section expired by effluxion of time. I cannot see how any other system is at the present time practicable. Senator Pearce has told us that, so far as he can judge, we can only raise something like £559,000 a year from tea and kerosene duties. It is anticipated that in the coming year the surplus revenue above the three-fourths returned to the States will be £500,000. The Treasurer has told us that he expects a surplus of only £300,000 over the threefourths ; but, in addition to that, there is the sum which the Commonwealth would lose by conceding penny postage, to which I strongly object at the present time, and which I hope will not be sanctioned. Let me put the matter in this way. New South Wales, with a population of 1,500,000, contributes £500,000 towards old-age pensions. Victoria, with a population of 1,250,000, contributes £300,000 a year. Therefore these States together contribute £800,000. The population of the other four States of Australia is, in the aggregate, approximately equal to that of Victoria. Therefore, on the same basis it would cost an additional £300,000 a year to pay old-age pensions in those States. If they chose to come into such an arrangement as I have suggested, the total payment on account of old-age pensions would be £1,100,000. Why should not that be done? The Treasurer seems to take it for granted that the money paid by the Commonwealth on their account will be saved to the two States which now pay old-age pensions. But when Commonwealth Customs duties were imposed in New South Wales, though it is true that in the first year the income of New South Wales was increased by something over ,£1,000,000 a year, we found that the result was simply to make the State Treasurer more extravagant. The more money goes -into the hands of the States Treasurers the more they will spend. I believe that if the States that are at present paying old-age pensions were relieved of those payments the taxpayer would not be relieved in the slightest degree. The Treasurers will find other means of spending the money. Another point in regard to this matter about which I have heard no opinion expressed is as to who are to constitute the pensioners. Are pensions to be paid at the age of 55 or at 65 ? I hope also that it is not intended that we shall pay pensions to persons who have relatives who are in a position to support them. It has been shown in New South Wales that numbers of persons in fair positions have actually allowed their parents to become pensioners. In one case a doctor allowed his father to become an old-age pensioner.
– The Royal Commission’s report recommends that we should make people who can afford it liable to pay for the- support of their indigent parents.
– Certainly that should be done. My own opinion is that Western Australia should undertake her own old-age pensions system, and that Tasmania is not in a position to afford one.
– Most of our old men in Western Australia came from the eastern States.
– There is, no doubt, a great deal of truth in that ob- servation. If we had a joint Commission such as I have suggested to manage the payment of old-age pensions for the States/each State would bear its propor tion of the expenditure. I fancy that Western Australia would come out of such an arrangement very well indeed. But if we impose special taxation, I am satisfied that Tasmania cannot very well afford to pay her share. I cannot understand, therefore, why the Tasmanian senators should not be unanimous in opposing this Bill. It appears from the action of the local Legislatures that only two States in the group desire to have an old-age pensions law. However, I do not think that there is the slightest chance of this Bill securing the required statutory majority when its third reading is voted upon; though the second reading may be agreed to, .and the measure may get into Committee. At the same time, it must not be understood that those who vote against it do so because they are not sympathetic towards the object in view. All of us, 1» am sure, desire that our aged poor should be made comfortable, and New South Wales has shown, by what she has done, that she is as sympathetic in this regard as any State in the Commonwealth.
– As pointed out by Senator Stewart last night, the action of the Government in introducing this Bill has placed many honorable senators in a very peculiar position. I have advocated the payment of old-age pensions for a number of years in Queensland. I have always believed that they should be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue. I have to go to Queensland presently, and shall have to tell the people there exactly my position regarding this measure. I am going to oppose it because I think that it is based upon a most pernicious principle. I know very well that I shall be told that the measure has to be sanctioned by a referendum. But I am not going to make a fetish of the referendum. I believe in. the principle of any proposed alteration of the Constitution being submitted to the people, but, surely, that is no argument why all sorts of measures should be dumped down upon the table of the Senate, altogether illconsidered, ill-digested, containing “just a few clauses hastily ‘ put together, and thrown before us by a Minister who says, “You need not worry about this; it is all right; push it through, and’ let it go to the people; it went through the other House all right, and why should we trouble about it up here?” All that affords no reason why honorable senators should not take an interest in business which affects their States. In what position should I be if I adopted the view of the Minister, swallowed this measure on his assurance that it is all right, and were then asked by my constituents why I had voted for it? What ridiculous nonsense it is to commend the Bill to us on such grounds. Why should I be prepared to say to the Government, “ I will vote for any measure you like to put before me because it has to be submitted to the public before it becomes operative “ ? If a measure has been submitted to both Houses and fully considered, we are likely in Committee to come to some understanding which will enable Parliament to put that measure to the referendum as one which has been passed unanimously. or nearly so. But this measure has received scant consideration in another place, and has been thrown down here at this late hour of the session. Some honorable senators are asked to go back on the principles of a lifetime in order to give their adhesion to the Government, and they then may no out and advise the electors not to vote for this particular proposal. But if I support a measure in the Senate as being in the best interests of Australia, I shall certainly advocate that measure when before the people. I am opposed to the principle of this Bill, which I understand to be that whenever this or any other Government desires to carry out some proposal they may come to Parliament and ask that duties may be imposed on certain articles, not included in the Tariff, in order to raise the necessary funds. This Bill need not be confined to old-age pensions ; next year money might be wanted in connexion with defence - for the building of vessels, and so forth. So far as the Bill is concerned, we have no guarantee that it will be applied only to old-age pensions, there being nothing to indicate that it relates to any one particular object. No one knows what special tax the Government may consider it necessary to impose under this Bill. The excuse is that the Premiers of the States have agreed to the breaking of the Constitution by means of this Bill, which we are asked to swallow without any particular consideration. As a rule, the States Premiers and Treasurers are not much inclined to agree to anything of the sort when it touches their financial interests. At the Hobart Conference the Premiers distinctly refused to agree to any special duties being raised by the Federal Parliament from Customs and Excise, unless the conditionsof the Constitution were complied with, and thev received three-fourths of the revenueraised. Is there anything in the resolution passed at the last Conference of Premiers to show that they are prepared to sanctionany proposal of the sort embodied in this’ Bill? The resolution merely says that if the Commonwealth . Parliament believes it necessary to pay old-age pensions it must raise the necessary money without trenching on the three-fourths of the revenue which has to be returned under the Constitution. That resolution does not say that the Premiers are prepared to sanction ai Bill which will in all probability deprive them of three-fourths of £1,000,000. Senator Pearce has told us that there are quite a number of articles on the free list, in addition to tea and kerosene, which, if taxed, would return something like £1,000,000; and I do not think that the Premiers would be prepared to abrogate the Constitution to such an extent as to entail a loss of three- fourths of that amount. At the present time the States Treasurers require as much as they can possibly get returned to them from Customs and Excise. This question has to be regarded from a’ number of aspects. It is all very well to say that certain duties will produce a certain amount, out of which old-age pensions may be paid. We must not forget, however, that estimates of revenue are very often wrong. In the States, and even in the Commonwealth, mistakes have been made in this connexion. I can remember Queensland having a deficit of nearly £500,000, and of course, there have been instances in, the State of surpluses of, perhaps, £100,000. The Federal Government may be acting in perfectly good faith when they estimate that they will be able to raise the money necessary from the sources named ;. but what is proposed to be done if the revenue does not come up to expectation? Are the Government then to be allowed to make up the deficiency from the Consolidated Revenue? I am in favour of old-age pensions, but not of pensions which depend on any special duties of Customs and Excise. In my opinion, old-age pensions ought to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue year by year, and a guarantee thus afforded to the pensioners that there can be no failure in funds - that, whatever straits the Government may be in, the pensions must be paid, short of legislation to the contrary. Of course, we can understand this sort of legislation with regard to trust funds, where revenue is raised from particular sources, and may only be used for certain limited purposes. I am speaking of money contributed by a certain class, and confined to certain uses j and have in my mind stock taxes and other taxes which are paid into a special trust fund. For instance, the Pacific Labourers’ Fund, in Queensland, may be used only for certain purposes. In the Bill before us, however, there is nothing definite. All we are asked to do is to take power to impose certain special duties which, it is estimated, will bring in a certain amount of money annually. If that amount is not raised annually, are we to cut down the pensions of the old people? In a case of that sort, we could not draw on the Consolidated Revenue for services which are not included in the ordinary services of the Government. A number of funds connected with the public services have got into difficulties in Australia. In Queensland there is a Police Superannuation Fund; and years ago. when it was instituted, it was almost demonstrated that it could never become insolvent.
– There are two similar insolvent funds in New South Wales now.
– When that fund was instituted, the amount which the prospective pensioners had to pay out of their salaries was fixed, and it was arranged that considerable sums of money, such as police rewards and a portion of the fines, should also be paid into the fund. Yet a few years ago the Government came down, and pointed out that years before certain liabilities had been created ; and year bv year large sums of money had to be taken out of the Consolidated Revenue to make the fund good. After a considerable agitation there was an actuarial investigation, and it was reported to Parliament that the fund was insolvent to the extent of £430,000 odd. I certainly believe, as I say, in old- ‘ age pensions, but I am not prepared to indorse the system proposed, because I do not believe that the old people, who have done a great deal of work in building up Australia, would be safe for a moment, if they had to depend on the imposition of special duties on special articles. I suppose that every member of the Senate is in favour of something being done for old and infirm people. It has been argued that, under the scheme proposed, we shall be able to relieve the States to a very great extent of their expenditure in connexion with charitable institutions. I think that is very doubtful.
– New South Wales has not saved a penny on the charitable vote since the institution of old-age pensions.
– It would be cruel to do away with the charitable institutions merely because old-age pensions were provided for.
– I do not think they could be done away with. There are a number of people in every State in the Commonwealth to whom a pension of 8s. or 10s. ,a week would be of very little use, if they had not friends and relatives prepared to look after them. In the institutions referred to there are men and women who are practically helpless, and who, if they were outside, and dependent upon a pension of 8s. or 10s. a week, would not be able to get the attention they require. These people must be looked after in an institution. I know that there are some who say that, . if we had an old-age pensions scheme established, we could do away with charitable institutions ; but I do not agree with that for a moment. It appears to me that this proposal takes us back to the English system of many years ago. In its effects it would be very much like the poorlaw system; in England, under which people in the .poor districts were called upon to support their own poor, whilst the people who lived in villa residences, and in districts in which there were very few poor, had no poor tax to speak of to pay.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the whole of this taxation would fall upon the people who will get the old-age pensions?
– I say that the bulk of the revenue derived from the taxation proposed would be contributed by the people who will eventually have to fall back upon the old-age pensions fund. I admit that in Australia, as in other new countries, there are many ups and downs. I personally know men. who five or six years ago were worth £200,000 or £300,000, and to-day some of them are receiving charitable relief. But these are exceptional cases, and I say that the bulk of ‘the money, under the system proposed, would be paid by the people who will eventually require. to fall back upon the old-age pensions fund. How much kerosene is used in Melbourne, with its big gas and electric light works? If honorable senators walk down the street, they will find that very little kerosene is used.
– Half the population of the Commonwealth residein the big cities.
– I admit that an enormous number of them use kerosene.
– I thought the honorable senator said that the people who live in cities do not use it.
– No. I say I believe that the bulk of this taxation would be paid by people who will eventually require assistance from the old-age pensions fund, because throughout life they are unable to make provision for their old age. These are not the people who have electric light installed in their houses,, who have gas stoves to warm their feet in winter, and who do their cooking, by gas. The well-to-do people who have these conveniences will not contribute a penny towards the special duties proposed. People in the back country of Australia, who are doing most for the development of the resources of, theCommonwealth will be called upon to pay this taxation. Kerosene is the cheapest and best illuminant which the man in the bush can get, and even some of the small towns in the back districts of Queensland, and I suppose also in, other States, have their streets lighted, with kerosene lamps placed on the top of posts.
– The people who live in towns are all rich, and those who live in the country are all poor.
– Not at all. The bulk of the people in the cities, and the people in the back country, will contribute almost the whole of this taxation. Does Senator de Largie believe that the man who works for 25s. or £2 a week in Melbourne is able to use gas or electric light?
– W - What about the people in towns in which no gas or electric light is supplied?
– There are not a great many towns in which neither gas nor electricity is supplied ; but I agree that small towns in Queensland, and I believe in other States of the Commonwealth, have to depend upon kerosene.
– W - Will all the people in those towns require old-age pensions?
– I do not say that they will ; but they are certainly not as well off as the men in a large way of business in Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane. We are here asked to impose special taxation which expressly excludes those who are best able to bear taxation.
– W - We could get more than half of the amount required from the direct taxation of people of that class.
– The statement was made in my hearing, not long ago, that the land values of Collins-street amount to more than those of the State of Western Australia, and yet the owners of property in Collins-street would escape this special taxation. I cannot swallow such a proposal at all. I am prepared to go a long way to secure old-age pensions for the people of Australia, but I think there should be a majority in the Federal Parliament prepared to support, and in fact to compel the Government, if necessary, to carry legislation to provide a fund for oldage pensions by direct taxation rather than by this miserable method of collecting the bulk of the fund from the poorer people, who will ultimately require to look to it for relief. Why should we be told that if we sink the principles which, we have been advocating for years and allow these special duties, in which we do not believe, to be imposed, we shall be able to continue to agitate for a land tax, and for other direct taxation ? I should prefer to be able to tell the people of Queensland that, if they wish to have old-age pensions established, they must send to this Parliament a majority prepared to compel the Government to bring in legislation to impose direct taxation to provide the necessary funds.
– T - The trouble is that those who join with the honorable senator in opposing this measure will not help him in what he desires.
– Is that any reason why I should sink my principles?
– What is the direct taxation to which the honorable senator refers?
– Land taxation.
– There is no State in which it is so little likely to be imposed as Queensland.
– I am advocating it, and have been advocating it in Queensland for a number of years, and I have always been prepared to stand by my principles.
– The honorable senator never realizes any of them.
-We have done something in Queensland. ‘ We have had to fight against opposition more strenuous than any that has been experienced by the Labour Party in any other State of the Common - wealth, and we have been able to gain more ground than I expected we should gain for a long time. It is all very well for Senator de Largie to interject, but only a little time ago we were told that Western Australia possessed the cream of the population of Australia; that the adventurous spirits had congregated there from all portions of the Commonwealth - the men who hold strong radical opinions on public questions. It is nothing wonderful that a band of radicals selected from the whole of the Commonwealth should return radicals to Parliament. It seems to me that that is what we might have expected, but when radicals go amongst a population the majority of whom are absolutely conservative, and still make progress, they can claim some credit for the work they do.
– The honorable senator cannot complain of the radical character of the people of Queensland.
– The work has been done in Queensland against enormous odds, which the party has never had to contend with in the State from which Senator de Largie comes.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the whole fund should be raised from direct land taxation?
– I remind the honorable senator that we have a certain amount of money which we can utilize at the present time.
– The honorable senator refers to the balance of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise which is not expended by the Commonwealth. “Senator TURLEY.- Yes. The revenue from the land tax would make up the balance that would be required. Two hundred thousand pounds might be derived from such taxation, even though we should exempt every piece of land in Australia of the value of £240.
– Am I to understand that a progressive land tax, such as the honorable senator suggests, would return the £500,000 a year?
– The land tax which I believe should be imposed would go a long way beyond that.
– The honorable senator suggests an exemption of only £240.
– According to, some evidence which was given before the Oldage Pensions Commission, a tax of1d. in the £1on all land, with an exemption of £240,. would return £1,174,000 a year, and the estimated cost of a Federal system ofold-age pensions is £1,400,000.
– I - It is said here that the honorable senator proposes to superimpose that upon the existing land tax.
– I admit that there are some difficulties in the way of the imposition of a Federal land tax. But, at the same time, is it better to tax the people in these States who are least able to bear the burden of a special tax than to tax the people who are able to pay an increased tax of1d. in the £1 ?
– Where does the Federal land tax of the LabourParty come in, as contrasted with the land tax to which the honorable senator is now referring?
– We are trying to raise money with which topay old-age pensions. . I, for one, am prepared to vote for direct taxation, with an exemption far below that which is put forward bythe Labour Party, in order to raise money for that purpose, rather than to get if through the Customs House.
– The cutting up of large estates would not be an element in that proposal. But the progressive land tax of the Labour Party has for its object the breaking up of them.
– It would effect that result more quickly, because, if an exemption of £240 were allowed, a person who held a large estate would have to pay a considerable increase upon the amount which he is now paying.
– But it is the progressive nature of the land tax which would burst up large estates.
– This tax could be made progressive too. According to the Government Statistician for New South Wales, a land tax of1d. in the £1, with that low exemption, would return nearly £1,200,000 to the Commonwealth..
– In addition to the present land tax of a State.
– That is so.
– Would it not overburden the land?
– I do not think so. Victoria and New South Wales, which have a system of old-age pensions, might not be able to remove the land tax at once; but there are other ways in which they could ease the taxation. So far, there has been no complaint about the ability of either State to stand the present land. tax. In the caseof either South Australia or Western Australia I contend that those who are getting a return in increased value from the labour and energy of those who have now to ask for old-age pensions should be called upon to pay the greater portion of the cost of the Federal scheme.
– T - The. honorable senator cannot get any support for that here, though his contention is quite fair.
– I am prepared to advocate that proposal, as I have done for a long time, but I am not prepared to advocate a system which would allow the Government, if they had a majority, to raise a revenue by Customs duties on special articles for any purpose which they might choose, and that is what this Bill practically provides for. It contains no reference to old-age pensions or to a Customs duty on kerosene, or tea, or any other article.
– I am af raid that the honorable senator is throwing away the substance for the shadow.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable senator is prepared to allow the old people to wait for a few years longer. That is what it means.
– I admit that, without resorting to sophistry to prove that I am prepared to sink my principles with the. object of getting old-age pensions during the next three years, when there Is no guarantee that it would be obtainedfrom the enactment of this Bill. The Government are merely asking for a power which would enable them to submit toParliament a measure. Are we to believe that there will always be in Parliament a majority prepared to go back upon the work which they did three or four years ago? I remember that when, with the waving of flags and blaring of trumpets, Queensland’s representatives returned after the Tariff was passed, and said, “ See what we have been able to do. We were not prepared to allow the necessities of life to be taxed more than was absolutely necessary.” They were cheeredto the echo on every platform where I saw them.
– S - Some members of the Labour Party said more than that. They said that the imposition of duties on tea and kerosene might be justified for this special purpose.
– I do not intend to say that honorable senators opposed or supported those duties for a particular reason. But Senator Stewart can bear out my statement that one of the great messages which Queensland’s representatives brought back to the people was that, as the Parliament was constituted, so far as the Labour Party could effect any reform, it was to be in the way of freeing the necessaries of life.
– Did Senator Stewart also say that the leader of the Labour Party in the Senate had said that he was willing to tax tea if ft meant the securing of old-age pensions?
– He might have done so, because it would have been the truth.
– I do not suppose that Senator Stewart agreed with that statement when it was made, any more than he does now.
– Why should Senator Stewart tell the people of Queensland what the opinion of another member of the Senate was? He told his constituents what his own opinions were, and his actions. I take it that in Queensland the members’ of the Labour Party took credit for refusing to allow the necessaries of life to be taxed.
– For ordinary purposes.
– I was glad to hear Senator Stewart say that he is still of the same opinion.
– T - The honorable senator should not charge other senators with deserting their principles.
– I have not charged the honorable senator with deserting his principles.
– I must ask honorable senators not to interrupt, especially to make improper imputations.
– I decline to go back upon my principles merely because the Government have thrown upon the table an ill-digested scheme, and asked me to sup-, port it. as it would have to go to a referendum of the people. The revenue derived from the imposition of special duties would be of a fluctuating character, but the demand for old-age pensions would be fairly steady. The number of persons who fall out of work year by year is not on the decrease. In proportion to the population, there are in Australia to-day more persons who would be entitled to an old-age pension than there were twenty years ago. Therefore the amount required for financing a scheme would be ever increasing. We have no guarantee that the revenue from special duties would increase or decrease. But we do know that, so far as the Customs revenue generally is concerned, it fluctuates. No one is able to gauge its amount with any exactitude.
– -There are articles other than tea and kerosene which could be easily taxed.
– Yes; but the two articles which have been mentioned by the leader of the Senate and other honorable senators have been tea and kerosene. I would remind Senator Best that the greater proportion of the other articles which appear on the free list are the raw materials of Australian manufacturers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was replying to an interjection by Senator Best that the articles which I had mentioned were not the only ones to which special duties should be applied. I then said, as one who believed in protection, that nearly all the articles that were specially exempted under the Tariff were the raw materials of certain industries carried on in Australia, and which could not be carried on profitably otherwise. In most cases they are materials which we do not produce. Some of them we could not produce. Since the adjournment I have looked up the Customs Tariff Act, and find under the exemption heading in the third column quite a number of articles which are not produced in Australia. The reason why they are upon the free list is that it was not desired to handicap the industries in which they are used.
– That is the case in regard to some.
– It is the case with nearly all. If Senator Best looks, for instance, at the item “ Apparel,” he will find upon the free list such articles as binding, buckles, buttons, body and skirt steels, and other things which we do not produce. Those articles are part of the raw material used in industries that are conducted in this country. Is Senator Best prepared to put a handicap of 10 per cent, upon goods which are essential to the carrying on of certain Austraiian industries, and thereby to handicap the industries in which they are used? I d’o not think that would be a wise thing to do. Ac the Premiers’ Conferences some of the members said that there were duties on tea and kerosene in some of the States before Federation, and they pointed out that, as their States were not getting back from the Commonwealth as much Customs and Excise revenue as they required, it would be a fair thing to reimpose those duties. But they did not ask for a Bill like this, under which they would receive nothing. The Premiers of the States did not say that they were favorable to the Commonwealth imposing tea and kerosene duties for the purposes intended by the Government. The Treasurer of the State of Queensland strongly objected to anything like this. I know that there was not much formal opposition to it, but at the same time the Premiers have never given their adhesion to the principle. I have no doubt whatever that if the Bill is submitted to the country, the members of the Queensland Parliament will strongly oppose it simply because it supersedes one of the basic principles of the Constitution. I intend to quote some passages from evidence taken bv the Royal Commission in Queensland from men whom I knew personally, and who are strong supporters of the old-age pensions proposition. They are also members of the Labour Party, and have taken a prominent part in making it what it is in that State. I will first quote from the evidence of Mr. George Jackson, who is at present Chairman of Committees in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. I should like to say this for Mr. Jackson : That, having known him and sat beside him in the Queensland Parliament for a number of years, I am safe in saying that, if there is a man connected with that Parliament who has made the oldage pension question his own, it is the member for Kennedy. By the way, I may mention that he is a gentleman who has no very strong opinions in favour of land taxation. I do not know whether that is because he happens to own a fair quantity of land himself. I impute no motives to him; I would tell him exactly the same thing if he were here. Mr. Jackson, in giving evidence before the Old-age Pensions Commission, on the 14th June, 1905 (page 135 of the report, question 2850), was asked -
Looking at it from the point of view of the Queensland taxpayer, how would you view a proposal to reimpose tea and kerosene duties, and to ear-mark the money so received for oldage pension purposes ?
He replied -
I do not think that would be popular with the party to which I belong.
I believe he was absolutely right. The next question was -
Is there not a disposition in Queensland to ask for those duties to assist State finances? - Not on the part of the party to which I belong, and I scarcely think that there is a general opinion in favour of that policy. 1 notice that one of your newspapers suggests that that should be done? - There is no popular agitation in favour of it.
Mr. Jackson was perfectly right.
– Better to be right than popular !
– I feel that myself. I am satisfied that I am perfectly right, and that the honorable senator is taking the stand which he believes to be popular. Personally, I do not think it is, but I am satisfied that those who are directly interested shall settle that point for themselves.
– If there is any point in the honorable senator’s argument, I am not popular, however right I mav be.
– The honorable senator does not represent Queensland. He comes from a State on the other side of the Continent. I certainly know of no popular agitation in favour of such a policy. In my opinion there is a strong opinion against it pretty well throughout the States.
– To what party does Mr. Jackson belong?
– He is a member of the Labour Party. His evidence proceeds -
How do you think the people of Queensland would relish the idea of the Commonwealth Parliament entering the region of direct taxation ?
I have said that Mr. Jackson is not a strong advocate of land taxation, but, at the same time, he realized that when, it came to the question of doing something for the aged people. Parliament should get its money from the best source possible. He replied -
I should think it quite fair and legitimate for you to do that. It is for you to decide how to raise the money. If you grant old-age pensions you should have the courage to raise the revenue. You ought not to be afraid of facing the situation. If in Oueensland we were to establish a pension of ios. a week under Act of Parliament, we should have to find the money. I for one should cheerfully face the situation, and I do not see why you should not.
That is the position which I take up now. I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament and Government should face the situation; and should determine that those who are best able to bear the taxation necessary to provide for the necessities of the old people of Australia are those upon whom fresh taxation could be imposed. I wish to quote from another Queensland witness, Mr. W. P. Colborne, President of the Trades and Labour Council, Brisbane, who was examined on the 14th June, 1905, and whose evidence is to be found on page 142 of the Commission’s report. I take it that this witness was well able to voice the opinions of the Labour Party in Queensland. I, as a member of that party, am voicing its opinions here. Mr. Colborne gave the following evidence: -
A proposal has been made that one method of raising part of the revenue would be to impose taxes on tea and kerosene ; are you favorable to that method ? - Certainly not.
Why not? - Because tea and kerosene are practically necessaries of life. In one way they are not necessaries, but if a workman is not to give up the standard of living to which he has been accustomed all his life, he is supposed to get tea and kerosene. I think there are very few instances in town where men in this country do not get those articles.
Is kerosene used in the average workman’s home in Brisbane? - Kerosene is used in nearly every case. Kerosene is also used in the bush.
What is generally used in the homes of richer people? - Kerosene principally in the bush, but in the towns I suppose that gas is generally used, and in a few cases electric light. But I do not think that the electric light is used very much in private houses in Brisbane. Outside of Brisbane it is very little used.
Tea is the usual beverage of the working people, is it not? - Yes, more particularly in the bush.
Do you regard it as a luxury? - I could hardly think it a luxury ; I look upon it as a necessity if people are to live up to their accustomed standard.
Then the witness was asked several questions on the subject of direct taxation.
Do you think that a tax of id. per £1 on the unimproved value of land is a very fair method? - I am a strong supporter of a land tax, but under present circumstances I venture to think that such taxation should be reserved for State exigencies. There is no land tax here at present. When Customs revenue is taken from the States, as will probably happen in a few years, it is only fair that the States should have this source of revenue left open to them.
If the Commonwealth Government were to relieve the States of a large amount of revenue which is now paid to charities, would it not have the same effect as if we left them the land tax? - If the ‘Commonwealth imposed a land tax for the purpose of old-age pensions until the time arrived when the Commonwealth took the whole of the Customs revenue for its own purposes, it would be a fair thing ; but I think that when that time arrives that particular source of revenue should be left to the States.
This man, I take it, represents the views of, to say the least, the big majority of the working people of Brisbane, and of Queensland generally. There is no doubt that he regards a land tax as the best means of raising money for the purpose of oldage pensions, being of opinion that otherwise the burden will fall on the bulk of the poorer classes and the average worker, with the result that, to some extent, the standard of living will be lowered. I am not here to vote for any legislation that will tend to lower the standard of living, as we know it in Australia to-day. Our object is not to lower, but to raise that standard - to spread that divine doctrine of discontent which makes people realize that there is a higher plane of living to which they can attain, and that by methods of production it is possible to live a better life from the point of view of material wealth.
– The honorable senator, is in advance of his new party !
– Evidently some of us are a long way ahead- even of Senator McGregor in our ideas. We are prepared to enable the Federal Government to raise a fund - not a separate fund, but one to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue - which shall prove sufficient for the purposes of old-age pensions. We do not desire anything like a trust fund, with its constant fluctuations, and outside of which we could not go to make good any “deficiency. We desire something fixed and definite, so that the people who are entitled to oldage pensions will know that the money is always there, whatever may be the fluctuations of the Customs revenue.
– Will the honorable senator’s new allies help him to get that?
– I nave no new allies. These interjections suggest that character in Dickens, who could not talk about any subject without introducing “ King Charles’ head.” Quite a number of honorable senators are unable to give credit for good intentions to any one who does not support a particular Railway
Survey Bill, and that Bill is dragged in on every conceivable occasion.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss the Railway Survey Bill.
– I have no desire to do so; I was only too glad to see the last of that Bill. Senator Pearce said that the people of Western Australia would contribute a great deal more to the revenue raised by the special duties than the people in some of the other States - that Western Australia would contribute a sum greater than1 that necessary for the indigent poor of that State. But that applies to other outside States such as Western Australia, Queensland, and I suppose the best part of South Australia.
– South Australia is the central State.
– Whatever the honorable senator may call South Australia makes no difference to the fact.
– Those interjections only lead the speaker off the track, and do not advance the debate.
– Evidence was give* before the Royal Commission by the Statistician of Queensland, who gave figures showing the proportion to the total population in each of the States of persons aged at sixty-five and upwards. In Queensland the proportion was 2.57 ; New South Wales, 3.45 ; Victoria, 5.50, or more thantwice the proportion in Queensland; in South Australia, 4. 12 ; in Western Australia, 1.80, the lowest of all’, and in Tasmania, 4.07. I am opposed to the system suggested, because those States which contain the most old people, and people who are not so well off, will be called upon to bear the largest proportional share -of the cost of old-age pensions. I know that, as new expenditure, this will be calculated according to population; and I have no particular .objection to that. But we must remember that Victoria at the present time is very prosperous, with a surplus of £500,000 or £600,000, and that New South Wales has a surplus of £700,000 or £800,000, while, on the contrary, other States have deficits, or have just escaped deficits. Yet these latter States will be called upon to pay the largest proportional share of the proposed duties, and I think it is time for some of us. to pro-, test. According to Mr. Coghlan, the sum necessary to be raised is about ,£800,000. Mr. Coghlan was supplied by the Royal
Commission with a schedule of questions which he returned with their answers ; and from these I extract the following: -
What can be done to raise money to pay pensions? - It has been suggested that dutieson kerosene and tea might be imposed, but it it evident that not more than£800,000 could be raised from this source.
How could the balance be obtained? - The best suggestion I have met with is to impose a stamp duty of . 2.d. on all weekly wages. This, I think, would yield a sufficient sum to make up the deficiency between the cost of the pensions and the amount obtainable from the duties on kerosene and tea.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from Senator Dobson?
– No, but from a gentleman who is very often quoted in this Chamber as the authority of the Commonmonwealth on statistics - Mr. T. A. Coghlan.
– I do not approve of what hesays.
– I do not approve of a stamp tax on wages, and for the very reason that I do not approve of the proposal now before the Senate, because it would mean a tax on those least able to bear taxation. Mr. Coghlan gave this further evidence -
As to the amount of the pension, what is your idea? - I think the pension should be fixed at 8s. a week, and any State desiring to pay more might do so. Thus, the New South Wales Government could supplement the Commonwealth pension of8s. a week by the addition of 2s. a week, in order to bring up the pension to. the maximum now granted.
What would be the cost to the Commonwealth of pensions at 8s. a week, according to the New South Wales scale? - Excluding persons under 65 years of age, and making the pension purely an old-age allowance, the cost would be £1,180,000.
What could be obtained by duties on kerosene and tea ? - From Sir George Turner’s estimate, I understand that these duties would yield £800,000 and a stamp duty of 2d. on wages would yield about £428,000, ‘or from the two sources there would be a revenue of £1,278,000. That would allow £48,000 for working the system, which no doubt it would cost.
Do you see any advantages to be gained by the levying of a special tax for pension purposes ? - I think the levying of a special tax in the form that I have suggested, namely, a stamp duty on wages, would have the effect of maintaining a certain respect for those on the pension list, who could claim to have provided the money out of which their pension is paid. At the present time a large number of persons in destitute circumstances, and entitled by residence, by age, and other qualifications named in the law, do not take advantage of the pension system, because they look upon it as a charity, and would consider themselves paupers if they accepted relief from the States. The case of these persons would be entirely different if their pension was paid for out of the proceeds of special taxes.
I do not know whether that opinion recommends itself to honorable senators who are supporting this legislation. It is really an opinion that if the fund were provided by taxation paid by the workers, they would feel relieved from the sting of charity if they had ultimately to fall back on the oldage pensions fund. I thinkI can take far higher ground than that. It is the duty of the Commonwealth to provide for its aged poor, and to do so without extracting most of the money necessary for the purpose from the pockets of the people who will require eventually to fall back upon the fund. It is the duty of the Commonwealth, in my opinion, to take a considerable proportion of the amount necessary from the people who have most of this world’s goods. I think that is a reasonable proposition. I am satisfied that the proposal now before the Senate will not commend itself to the people of Queensland. So far an old-age pensions scheme has not been established in that State. I think such a scheme should have been established there. I voted for it every time it was submitted in the Queensland Parliament by motion. We were never able to get a Bill dealing with the subject passed through that Parliament, but Mr. Jackson, to whom I referred before, submitted a motion on the subject year after year, for, I suppose, the last ten years at least. Those who were in favour of Federation believed that the Federal authorities would be able, by direct taxation, to raise a fund without bearing too heavily upon the poorer classes of the community. I shall vote against this Bill, because it is not in the interests of the party to which I belong, and because it is opposed to the principles I hold. If the Government succeed in carrying the measure, when I go back to Queensland to give a hand to some of my friends to retain their seats in the Federal Parliament, I shall useevery endeavour to induce the electors of that State to reject this proposal. I believe that the principle of it is vicious. If the Government are given a general power in the way proposed to raise special duties, they may or may not exercise it, and there is nothing in this Bill to prevent them next year, if they have a sufficient majority behind them, proposing to raise money by this means for some other purpose. I am prepared to tell the people of Queensland what I have done in the matter, and to take full responsibility for the action I take in endeavouring to prevent this Bill from becoming law.
.- I receive with great respect the opinions expressed by Senator Turley, whilst I am unable to follow the line of reasoning which has induced him to come to his present conclusions. I look at the matter in this way : We all regard it as the duty of the Commonwealth to provide for its infirm poor. The Government, feeling that that is acknowledged, not only by members of the Federal Parliament, but almost universally by the people, wish to make some general proposition whereby a scheme of old-age pensions may be established. They very naturally say, “ Oh, what use is it to offer suggestions for the establishment of an oldage pensions scheme unless we have a substantial fund available for the purpose.” The difficulty of providing the means for the payment of old-age pensions is the one they have to meet. In the circumstances they have naturally listened to a suggestion which has been received, if not universally, at least by a substantial section of the community, that there are two articles the taxation of which would prove a substantial foundation for a fund which would enable them to formulate an effective scheme. Tea arid kerosene have been mentioned, I suppose, because, so far as tea is concerned, it is a beverage that is universally used. Kerosene is not used so universally, but there is a very large consumption of the article by a big section of the community. It is admitted that the duties on these articles would produce a revenue of £750,000 or £800.000. That would be sufficient to provide the foundation for the necessary fund, and we know that it would not be difficult to find the balance required to make up the sum of £1,200,000, which is the estimate of the amount required to give effect to a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme.
– How would the balance be made up?
– Various suggestions have been made. It might be made up by the imposition of taxation to the extent of to per cent, on articles in the existing free list. That, of course, must be done with very great discretion; but there are many items in the list which would bear taxation. Again, we could fall back upon the balance of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue which we have the right to retain. We could certainly make up the balance of -the £1,200,000 from that source. The great matter is to secure the foundation of the necessary fund, and it would be secured by the taxation of the two items to. which I have referred.
– How does the honorable senator justify the levying of special duties for a particular purpose?
– Senator Stewart justifies the levying of a special duty for a particular purpose, because he advocates a land tax.
– The receipts would go into the general revenue.
– We could put the revenue derived from the proposed special duties into the general revenue, if that would satisfy the honorable senator.
– Then what do we want this Bill for?
– For the obvious reason that, in order to obtain £800,000 under existing conditions during the operation of the Braddon section, we should require to raise four times the amount. The purpose of the Bill really is to anticipate what we shall be able to do in three or four years’ time without such a measure, and it is necessary to do that if old-age pensions are to be paid at an early date.
– The matter must be referred to the people.
– It is proposed to refer this measure to the people. If the people are satisfied that the taxation proposed would “be unequal in its incidence, they will reject the Bill when it is submitted to them. Senator Turley will admit- that we have so far never discovered any means of taxation which is perfect in its incidence, and I agree, with the honorable senator that the proper course for us to follow would be to pay the money required for old-age pensions out of the Consolidated Revenue. As we will lie unable tr> do that for three or four years, we should take the next best course, and that is to levy taxation, which will provide a substantial fund from which we can pay old-age pensions. That is what is intended to be done. I, as one who” favours the earliest possible consummation of a scheme for this purpose, am prepared to take this practical means of solving that difficulty, rather than embark upon methods of taxation which have more or less support, but which at the same time would involve great delay. My honorable friend has referred to a land tax.
– Tax the poor !
– It is wrong on the part of my honorable friend to make that suggestion.
– That is a fact from which the honorable senator cannot escape.
– I shall not pretend to argue against an interjection. My honorable friend, will see that it is not as though the Parliament were being, asked to pass a Bill to tax the poor.
– We abolished the duties on tea and kerosene because we thought that they were bad.
– All that the Parliament is asked to do is to submit to the mass of the people a Bill for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are prepared to sanction that particular source of taxation.
– That should be no excuse for passing the legislation.
– Of course it should not ; but my honorable friend will see that the proposal of the Government commands a sufficient support to justify its submission to the people by the fact that it has been received with a considerable degree of popularity by the people, and that that feeling has been echoed by a representative Chamber. The latter fact alone, to my mind, is a justification for the submission of the Bill to the electors. I admit, with my honorable friend, that we should not be justified in submitting to them a flimsy, ill-considered proposal.
– Then the honorable senator will vote against the Bill ?
– It is that reason which will prompt me to vote for the Bill. We enjoy a bicameral system. One section of the Parliament has desired that this means of formulating a scheme of old-age pensions shall be submitted to the people; and that section, is more representative than we are.
– No; not nearly so much.
– D - Does my honorable friend seriously make that remark?
– Yes, because no member of the other House represents more than a section of the people in his State.
– According to the scheme of democratic representation in the other Chamber, it is more representative than is the Senate.
– Of what?
– Of the people.
– I should like to know any member of that House who could claim, from the votes recorded, to be more representative of the people than I am.
– I am simply dealing with the argument that this is a mere flimsy proposal. It commands a substantial support, and that in itself furnishes a justification for its submission to the people. In the “next place, the States Premiers, representative as they are of their several States, have with a large degree of approval sanctioned the course which is proposed to be taken.
– The Bill is practically submitted in accordance with a general understanding arrived at with the States Premiers.
– Of course I do not pretend to bear in mind everything which, has taken place at the Conference. But, so far as a few minutes would permit, I have examined the report of the Conference of Commonwealth and State Premiers and Ministers held in Sydney in April, 1906, and I shall now read what it contains on this subject -
Mr. DAVIES. Would you say anything about Old-age Pensions in connexion with the Braddon section proposals?
Mr. KIDSTON. There was a proposal made in Hobart, that the Commonwealth Government should impose certain special duties of Customs for the purpose of raising sufficient revenue to pay the Old-age Pensions, and that with regard to those special duties the States should express their willingness to surrender their claim to three-fourths of those duties in order to enable the Commonwealth Government to provide revenue for Old-age Pensions. Now, if we are goingto ask the Federal Government to make the Braddon section perpetual -
– If the Braddon clause is going to be made perpetual ?
– I do not attach that meaning to the statement.
– Surely, there is no other meaning that could be attached to it.
– Moreover, that is really beside the question.
– Oh, no; that is the condition.
– It proceeds - in order to give us security in regard to our three-fourths of the revenue, it is a wise thing on our part to make it clear to the Federal Prime Minister that that request for an amendment of the Braddon section is to be taken as being in perfect accord with their imposing certain Customs duties for the purpose of raising revenue for Old-age Pensons. I am exceedingly doubtful as to the precedent, but it is owing to the peculiar circumstances in which we find ourselves. The Federal Parliament may say to us, “ If you go in for perpetuation of the Braddon section, there can be no Old-age Pensions.”
Mr. EVANS. The other day we passed the following resolution, moved by Mr. Kidston : - “ That it is incumbent on the Federal Government if it adopts an Old-age Pension scheme, to provide the revenue required tofinance it without trenching upon the ‘Customs revenue now returned to the States.”
Mr. DAVIES. Yes, but that does not indicate that they might do it by means ofthe Customs duty ; that implies that they might raise it by an income-tax or a land tax, or some other tax.
Mr. KIDSTON. We might add to that resolution, so as to make it clear, the words, “ In the event of special Customs duties being imposed for this purpose the States will waive their claim to their three-fourths of those particular duties.”
Mr. Peake. That would involve an alteration of the Constitution.
Mr. Swinburne. There might be great danger in that. If they impose special duties on certain things and allocate them, they might afterwards take off duties on other things and reduce our three-fourths.
Mr. KIDSTON. I quite understand the danger, but we arc in a very difficult position with regard to this matter.
Mr. Davies. They could do it only for that special purpose, therefore they could not take off other duties without reducing what they required for other purposes.
Mr. Price. Leave it as it is;thatis the best way.
Mr. KIDSTON. It is well to have it made clear that if the Federal Government adopt this method of raising revenue for Old-age Pensions the Slates Governments are quite prepared to waive their claim to three-fourths of that special “revenue.
Mr. Peake. You cannot waive it ; it is given to you under the Constitution.
Mr. KIDSTON. You can do anything if you go the right way about it.
Mr. DAVIES. You would have to amend the Constitution to make the Braddon section perpetual, and this might be part of the amendment.
Mr. KIDSTON. Would the President make that clear to Mr. Deakin with reference to the Old-Age Pensions question.
– I take it that if you want a fresh resolution you had better propose it.
Mr. EVANS. There is no need for any fresh resolution. We have passed a resolution dealing with Old-age Pensions. All that is required is to make this matter clear to Mr. Deakin.
– I can assure you that Mr. Deakin knows about it.
– On the understanding that the Braddon blot was to be made perpetual, they agreed to the proposal.
– The fact that the proposal has not only received the sanction of the other Chamber but has also met with some approval from the States Premiers, is a justification for its submission to the mass of the people. Is there anything unfair or unreasonable in asking the electors whether they approve of this method of providing a fund for the payment of old-age pensions? If they hold the view that the proposed tax would be unequal ‘ in its incidence they will only have to reject the Bill. Surely, Senator Turley will see that that is a substantial advance on the part of the Government towards the consummationof a proposal which has been so much talked about ! Are the Government to be reproached because they have made a practical suggestion which has met with such popular and representative approval? I think not. In his thoughtful speech, and in his advocacy of the land tax for this purpose, Senator Turley is running the risk of losing the substance while he is grasping at the shadow. Theoretically, his land tax may commend itself to him. But. if he introduced his proposal, certainly he would not meet with large support- from hispresent allies, who are seeking to secure the rejection of this Bill.
– We have heard enough about the ally business.
– But it is a fact, for all that.
– The honorable senator is not an ally. He is something much lower than that.
– I should be very sorry at any time to be an ally of my honorable friend.
– The honorable senator will not have very much chance, if I can help it.
– That is my good fortune.
– The time may come when it will not be the honorable senator’s good fortune.
– That, perhaps, is a matter which may not be regretted, but it is no cause for an exhibition of temper.
– Well, leave the ally question alone.
– Doesthe honorable senator never vote on a question when honorable senators on the opposite side intend voting with him ?
– It was not by way of reproach that I made that suggestion ; I did not intend to convey that meaning at all. If we desire to get a substantial advance towards the consummation, of an oldage pensions scheme, we should accept the substantial proposal which is submitted rather than seek to deal with theoretical proposals which are not within reasonable means of consummation. Senator Turley will see that, in regard to a land tax, there is no unanimity. The party to which he belongs had advocated a progressive land tax. But the progressive land tax which he advocates is quite opposed to the kind of land tax which was advocated by the Old-age Pensions Commission.
– But the Prime Minister has swallowed the progressive land tax.
– That, of course, I do not know.
– The honorable senator does know.
– I do not know anything of the kind.
– We all know that he has.
– I am pointing out to Senator Turley first, that there is no unanimity in regard to a land tax, and, secondly, that a proposal for a land tax, no matter what form the tax might take, would meet with very strenuous opposition. It would mean, at the outset, a very considerable difference with the States.
– This proposal is going to meet with a great deal of opposition.
– That is for the people to say. Next, I urge that the States themselves have so far regarded the land as a source of local taxation. In some States thereare substantial land taxes at present. If it is suggested that there is to be a Federal land tax in addition, honorable senators will begin to realize the difficulties associated with its imposition for the purposes of old-age pensions. In all these circumstances, I cannot help feeling that when a substantial proposition is placed before us it is our duty to take advantage of it, particularly as it means the submission of the question’ to the people themselves. It has been argued that even if the Premiers have approved of what is proposed, there is, so to speak, a sort of conspiracy on the part of the Federal and States Governments for the purposes of breaking the Constitution. I cannot see the matter in that light. There is no suggestion to break the Constitution. Allthatis proposed is to alter it in a legal way.
SenatorMillen. - To break the spirit of the compact all the same.
– Only with the consent of the parties to the compact.
– Not necessarily of all the parties.
– The compact is contained in the Constitution, which provides for it’s own amendment in the manner set: out in it.
– Technically, the honorable senator is right.
– It is for the people themselves to say whether they desire an alteration in this direction.
– The honorable and learned senator will recognise that a different assent is requisite for the amendment than was required for the original document.
– In matters of this kind, involving Federal finance, it is most desirable that we should consult the States, and that whatever we do should be done with their approval and concurrence. We, as a Federation, . should endeavour to work with the States in everyrespect. This particular scheme is one that, at all events, has met with the substantial approval of the representatives of the States, and one which furnishes the only substantial proposal vet put forward for the consummation of’ an old-age pensions scheme.
– That is justwhat it does not do. If the taxes are imposed they will not raise enough for old-age pensions purposes. Ifthe supporters of the Bill succeed they fail at the same time.
– It is contemplated that £800,000 will be raised by this means. My view is that the money should be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue, and I think that the amount mentioned, with the balance of the one-fourth Customs and Excise revenue, that is within the command of the Commonwealth Parliament, will supply the necessary amount to make up the old-age pensions fund.
– In any case, this does not exhaust our taxing power.
– Of course, it does not. I further point out to my honorable friends who oppose this Bill, that when they can induce the people to support a land tax for the purpose of old-age pensions then, and then only, will it be time enough to revoke the taxation which it is proposed to raiseunder this Bill. But at present this is the only practical means of dealing with the question.
– Well, I submit my own view with the greatest respect and regard for those who differ from me. I feel that, from the point of view of those who desire to bring about an old-age pensions scheme as rapidly as possible, this is our only way of effecting our purpose. If the Bill is rejected, there does not seem to be much chance of consummating an old-age pensions scheme for many years to come.
– Why not?
– Not until the restrictions of the Braddon,section are removed, at all events. According to my view, this is the most substantial advance that has been made in the desired direction, and for that reason I propose to support the measure.
– There is no place in which one realizes the truth of the old saying, “Many men,’ many minds,” so much as in a House of Parliament. I find that the very reasons that have been urged against this measure are those which induce me to support it. I am not going to quarrel with my honorable friends who take a different view. I admit that there is room for difference of opinion on the subject, though I cannot make the same admission with regard to every question, in which some of my honorable friends are interested. For years past I have cherished the hope that it would be possible to find sufficient money for purposes of old-age pensions by means of a tax upon theunimproved value of land. I have not yet abandoned that hope. It is still possible to realize it. But, the longer I am in this Parliament, the more fully I become acquainted with parliamentary procedure, and realize how slowly the political machine moves - how it can be prevented from moving at all, how it often moves in, the wrong direction, and frequently in avery erratic way - the more the probability of realizing, my hopes within a reasonable time seems to diminish. It is for that reason that I feel impelled to vote tor a measure which. I believe is brought in for the purpose of finding at least some of the money that is necessary to provide an old-age pensions scheme. I should feel that I was doing a wrong to the old and well-deserving poor of this country if I were to vote against a Bill which certainly offers a possible chance of securing the measure that they have been so long waiting for. At both the elections which I have contested in Western Australia I have advocated the establishment of ah old-age pensions scheme by the Federal Government. Owing to the effect of the “ Braddon blot,” which, still has some time to run, the Commonwealth Parliament is restricted in its means of financing an old-age pensions scheme. As for the prospects of land taxation, even the moderate scheme propounded by the party to which I belong would not. if it were in working order, yield sufficient revenue to provide the fund that we require. When I find that even the most advanced party in politics does not advocate a system of land taxation which, if it were in operation tomorrow, would suffice for the purpose, I are compelled to turn to other sources of revenue to consummate the object that I have in view. I was very pleased when, a few years ago, I had an, opportunity in the Senate to vote against a tax which it was proposed to levy upon tea. Upon that occasion some of those who are now opposing this Bill voted for a tea duty. Why? To raise revenue to be devoted to general purposes. There is a great difference between a vote such as I am about to give on this Bill, with the ultimate object of permitting a tax to be imposed on tea for old-age pensions purposes, and a vote for such a tax for the purposes of the general revenue. But I question very much whether, after all that has been said about the advantage of allowing tea to be imported duty free, the consumers are getting the benefit of free tea. I believethat a great deal of the profit is finding its way into the pockets of the tea merchants, and that we are to a considerable extent losing revenue, while the consumer is no better off.
– But the consumergets a better duality of tea for the same price.
– That is a very debatable point, and I think that the women-folk of the Commonwealth would tell the honorable senator a different story.
– Is that why Senator de Largie voted against the tea duty on the previous occasion?
– I voted against the tea duty on a previous occasion because I thought the whole of the benefit would go to the consumer.
– So it does. The tea merchants would prefer a duty.
– I think I could quote tea merchants who are of quite a different opinion. However, that is a question on which we might argue all night without arriving at any conclusion. But, at the same time, I am inclined to think that the benefit of free_tea goes to the merchant, and not to the consumer. According to the figures collected by the Royal Commission on old-age pensions, Western Australia would not derive any benefit from the duties which are contemplated. The people of that State would have to tax themselves to the extent of f,z for every £1 spent on old-age pensions, because, while a sum of something like £75,000 would be collected on the tea and kerosene duties, only about £40,000 would be required for old-age pensions in that State. I do not vote for this Bill with any parochial motives, but simply because I believe it to be in the interests of the deserving poor of the whole of the Commonwealth. We are now considering the question of a tax on a foodstuff, because tea mav be regarded as one of the necessaries of life. According to the Budget papers, I find that at the present time a considerable amount of revenue is derived from duties on foodstuffs, and that that revenue is used for general purposes, not one of which can be described as more worthy than that contemplated by this Bill. In the case of sugar alone we tax ourselves to the extent of £122,000; in the case of agricultural products to the extent of £750,000: and in the case of apparel and so forth to the extent of £ 1. soo. 000. Amongst agricultural products are included butter, cheese, coffee, biscuits, eggs, jams, milk, potatoes, and so forth : and the money derived from the duties is devoted to every imaginable public purpose.
– How much revenue is collected on butter?
– I do not propose to wade through this mass of figures in order to reply to that question. All these articles are necessaries of life; and yet the people of Australia have to pay duties on them.
– Suppose it be suggested that the duty on butter, instead of duties on tea and kerosene, be devoted to old-age pensions?
– That would make no difference in the principle. A great amount of crocodile sympathy has been expended on the poor who will have to pav the tea duty. Senator Clemons, in indignant tones, asked us whether it was fair to tax the poor man, to whom we are going to pay old-age pensions. But if a man were receiving a pension of ios. a week, what amount of duty would he pay on the half-pound of tea he would consume ?
– I asked the honorable senator to justify his action.
– I am prepared to justify the vote I intend_to give; and it is just as easy to justify a duty on tea as_ a duty on any of the articles I have mentioned. We spend a great deal of our revenue on defence, and surely no one will say that that is a more worthy object than the care of our aged poor. I felt that I could not- give a consistent vote on this important matter, especially after the debate we have had this afternoon. If I voted against the ‘possibility of securing pensions for the poor people, who have so long expected them, I should have some difficulty in justifying my action. Some honorable senators have said that they are prepared to wait until the Commonwealth can find the necessary money bv means of direct taxation; but it is very easy to take up a heroic attitude of that kind while the poor fellow outside is doing the suffering. We have now an opportunity to do something for the aged poor; and the Bill shall have mv support.
– A little while ago we listened to a speech which, if it had been made by a member of the other branch of the Legislature, would have caused thirty-five members of the Senate to rise in protest. Until I heard that speech, I should have said that thirty-six members would have protested against such sentiments; but I have come to the conclusion that there is one member of the Senate who has absolutely failed to grasp the fundamental fact that this is not a subordinate Chamber under the Constitution. The statement that this Chamber is less representative than the other branch of the Legislature appears to me to show that
Senator Best, if he will allow me te say so, has not yet studied with profit the Constitution under which the Senate moves and has its being. To say that he himself is less representative of the electors of Victoria than a member of the House oF Representatives, who has been elected by a very small percentage of the electors, is, I think, to ignore a very important fact. That Senator Best may represent the electors less efficiently is another matter; but I do claim that any one who understands the purpose for which this Chamber was called into being, and the basis on which it rests, must dissent from the views expressed by Senator Best. I also object to the view which Senator Best Has put forward, that because the States Premiers have arrived at a certain conclusion, or are alleged to have done so, the suggestion may, therefore, be made that we are to be merely a recording Chamber.
– I do not think that Senator Best said that.
– Of course not, and Senator Millen knows it.
– Did Senator Best not affirm that this Chamber is less representative than the other Chamber.
– The honorable senator knows what I said, and what I meant - that, irrespective of population, six of us represent each State
– Senator Best said that the Senate is less representative than the other Chamber. The honorable senator said that this Bill had passed the other place; and what was the good of telling us that unless to impress on us that, therefore, we need not deal with it so carefully. And he went on to say that the Senate is less representative than the other Chamber. I absolutely deny that statement; and I go further, and say that if there is a matter in which the Senate is called on to exercise its special functions, it is one which affects the States finances. I claim, both for myself individually, and for the Chamber as a whole, that when we deal with States finances, the Senate is called upon to exercise particular vigilance in seeing that the interests, not merely of particular States, but of the Federation as a whole, are conserved. Another argument of the honorable senator, if I may so term the statement he made, was that this Bill merely sent the question on to the people. Such an argument seems to me to be a shirking of the responsibility which rests on’ this branch of the Legislature. Is every proposal which anybody likes to make to be sent on, and, if not. where are we to draw the line ? The line must be drawn by every one of us. Unless we are convinced that a proposal is for the good of the people, and that there is an overwhelming majority of public opinion in its favour, it is not dur duty to put the country to the trouble and expense of a referendum. Senator Best had something to say on the interesting subject of allies; and he spoke somewhat despairingly of an alliance with honorable senators on this side. Let me inspire the honorable senator- with a little hope, and, in doing so, I shall make only one brief reference to quite modern history.. Not long ago, when the honorable senator sat in alliance with myself, when a proposal to tax kerosene was made, he decided with me that it was an imposition which would fall unfairly on the poor of the community, and he voted to keep it free. I am not now discussing the question of whether it is right or wrong, but I want to assure my honorable friend that he need not despair that in the whirligig of politics he will find himself once more in alliance with those who have, so far, upon this point, been absolutely consistent. The honorable senator informed the Senate that he believes, with a great many of those who have criticised the Bill adversely, that old-age pensions should be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue. Believing that, and in order to give effect to his belief, he proposes to vote for a Bill which will insure that oldage pensions, which he thinks ought .to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue, shall be paid out of the special fund proposed to be collected under this Bill.
– Hear, hear; for three or four years, when I assume there will be a re-adjustment.
– Could there be anything more illogical ? For an honorable senator to say that he believes old-age pensions should be paid from one fund, and then to vote that they shall be paid from another, is as near a flat contradiction as anything I have ever heard.
– This Bill does not provide for two funds.
– No, it provides for one, and the other is already in existence.
– This money will go into the Consolidated Revenue.
– Senator McGregorknows perfectly well that it will not, or he ought to know it. The Bill provides that the revenue raised under it shall be treated as a special fund to be devoted to special purposes only. I quote the words of the measure itself, “ To be imposed expressly for specific purposes.” The purpose must be specified, and, therefore, the money raised under this Bill, if il should ever become law, will be kept apart as sacredly-
– It will go into the Consolidated Revenue.
– Nothing of the kind. It will go.into the Treasury.
– Into the same bank and the same pocket.
– So do trust funds, but they are as absolutely distinct from the Consolidated Revenue, as will be the income derived under this Bill. If not, what is the purpose of the Bill ?
– The purpose is to prevent the three-fourths of the revenue so derived being handed over to the States.
– How can that be done if it is mixed up with the other moneys in the Consolidated Revenue ?
– Of course it can. The honorable senator might as well ask how we can decide what is the revenue from the Post-Office because we mix it up with the revenue from Customs and Excise.
– We do not mix it up with the revenue from Customs and Excise. Because the sovereigns are put in the same till, does Senator Playford mean to tell me that we mix up the receipts from one Department with those from another? Let the honorable senator consult the AuditorGeneral on the point, and he will find that that gentleman is able to account for every pound received through each of the Departments. In this case a special precaution is taken, and the Minister is only fooling the Senate in making these interjections, or else he should explain what he means by asking us to pass a Bill which provides for the imposition of special duties expressly for specific purposes. How can he specify the sum which is to be devoted to the specific purpose if he loses the run of the money ? It can only be done by ear-marking the money.
– It is only a separate account ; that is all.
– lam afraid there is not much profit in discussing such a matter with the Minister when he displays so little knowledge of business matters.
– I have sufficient knowledge of business matters to know that the money goes into one fund.
– If the honorable senator will turn to the Budget Papers, which he ought to have presented to the Senate long ago, and which I hope he will present at some time * in the immediate future, he will find that it is shown in them that the funds are kept separately.
– That is only bookkeeping.
– Is this to be only bookkeeping also? Are honorable senators who are voting for this Bill in order to secure provision for old-age pensions to find that they will not get the money received under the measure for that purpose? Are the Ministry going to raise money under the plea that they are raising it for the payment of old-age pensions, and then say that it cannot be devoted to old-age pensions because they have lost the track of it ?
– What rubbish this is.
– When the! honorable senator knows that it is rubbish, I wonder that he should waste the time of the Senate with it.
– We keep a separate account for the employes in every Department.
– Then the money is not mixed up after all.
– It is all paid out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– This money will not go into the Consolidated Revenue any more than does the money which is contributed to trust funds. The papers which the Minister must “present to the Senate in a few days will show exactly what will happen. They will show that there must be a special revenue fund as distinct from the general’ revenue. I must express my profound regret that ‘ a measure opening up so many channels of thought, and providing opportunities for so much discussion, to say nothing of the fact that it involves a reference to the people, and the possible amendment of the Constitution, should be submitted to the Senate for consideration when, metaphorically speaking, the Governor-General is here for the purpose of closing this Parliament. Is it at all likely to lead to an effective discharge of our duties if measures which are so important are brought down at the last moment. I remind Senator Playford that there was a time in this session when the Senate adjourned for three weeks because there was no business for us to do. It cannot be said that it was not possible to bring on these measures before, or that we were fully occupied. There has been ample time in which we might have dealt with it. Nor can it be ,said that the Government were not aware of the demand that something should be done in this direction. We have been waiting here kicking our heels for lack of something to do, and now, in what was supposed to be the last week of the session, the Government come down with these proposals to amend the Constitution. Apart from the fact that this measure proposes an amendment of the Constitution, honorable senators will recognise that it touches the financial question, and such a measure cannot be received in one moment and disposed of in the next. If we touch one brick in the financial edifice, we know that the whole structure may fall to the ground. Before we can sanction the amendment of the Constitution proposed by this Bill, we must ask what the effect will be upon the financial position of the States as well as of the Commonwealth. The Government have not given the Senate reasonable time in which to consider such far-reaching proposals. I had hoped that some advantage would have been taken of the very commonsense suggestion made by Senator Drake in dealing with another Bill proposing an alteration of the Constitution as to the form in which such measures should be presented. The honorable senator suggested that, instead of submitting a Bill proposing that we should omit one word from a provision in the Constitution, and insert another, an entirely new provision should be submitted so that the proposed amendment might’ be put before the electors in such a way that they could understand it without a reference to the Constitution itself. I ask honorable senators to say whether, when they received this Bill, thev could tell exactly what was intended until they had compared it with the Constitution? One would have thought that the Government would have seen the necessity, in proposing an alteration of the Constitution, of submitting an entirely new provision. As they have not seen fit to adopt that course, may I suggest that, if this measure ever reaches the stage at which it will be submitted to the electors, in addition to putting forward this Bill, they will put forward on the voting papers the existing section of the Constitution, and the section as it would read if the proposed amendment is approved. That is the best way I can suggest to overcome the difficulty. - I again express the hope that if any further amendments of the Constitution are proposed, they will be submitted in the form of entirely new provisions to take the place of sections of the Constitution which it is proposed to amend. I regret _4 that, in this matter, the Government, by the method in which they propose to proceed have mixed up two entirely different things. One is old-age pensions, which appeals to the heart, and the matter with which it is mixed up, the question of finance, appeals absolutely to the head. ;I: join with Senator Clemons in objecting to be placed in a position in which I must give a vote for what I regard as a faulty financial measure, in order to advance a beneficent movement in which I believe. Placed in this position, I am compelled to vote against the Bill for reasons which I shall briefly set out. First of all, I say that this measure represents a breach of the compact made with the States when they joined the Union. We al! know that the financial difficulty was the real lion in the path. The States that were weak financially could not see their way to join the Union, unless they could be given some assurance that their financial position would not be jeopardized. It was that feeling on the part of the weaker States that! really led to the adoption of the Braddon section, which was provided to secure to them 75 per cent, of the revenue from Customs and Excise. When that provision was adopted it was never dreamt that a proposal would be made to ear-mark certain portions of the revenue from Customs and Excise outside the provisions of that section. I affirm that this is a breach of the compact then entered into. Senator Playford shakes his head, and I may be met with the statement that after all this matter is to be settled by a referendum, but I say that that will not prevent its being a breach of the compact.
– It is all provided for in the Constitution.
– There will still be an absolute breach of the compact. The original agreement had to be accepted by, each individual State. This amendment can be carried by majorities in four of the States, provided they represent a majority of the whole people.
– The whole people agreed to that.
– Of course, they did. This proposal may be agreed to by four of the States, and may not be agreed to by the other two. One of them may be Tasmania, a State that has made an heroic struggle with her financial difficulties. Tasmania, I venture to say, would never have joined the Union unless she had received a guarantee that her financial requirements would be respected. What is the position now? We have Tasmania in the Federation, and it is now proposed to take from that State what she would never have given up. Senator Playford said that it will be no breach of the compact, because it will be legal. It is possible to ruin a man legally as well as illegally, and I say that it is a breach of the spirit of the compact if we now, by a reckless amendment of the Constitution, seek to take from any State what that State cannot afford, and would not be disposed to give up.
– Yet the representatives of a majority of the States have agreed that it should be done.
– Does the Minister refer to honorable members in another place ?
– No. to the Premiers and Treasurers of the States.
– It is a gross exaggeration of the actual position to say that they are agreeable to this being done. What they have said, as Senator Turley pointed out a dozen times, is that while they do not affirm that old-age pensions are desirable, or are not, if the Commonwealth wishes to establish a system of old-age pensions, it must find the necessary money in some way which will not trench on the States’ proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue. When invited several times to make suggestions as to how old-age pensions might be provided for, the States Premiers said, “ No, we will not dictate or suggest to the Federal authorities how it should be done. That is their function. All we say is that they must not trespass on that proportion of the Customs Excise revenue which comes to us.” But even though the States Premiers have agreed to this proposal, whilst I have every respect for the unanimous opinon of a number of gentlemen occupying such responsible positions, I have a right to ask myself whether there might not have been something in the circumstances in which they found themselves, which led them to believe that the course proposed would be beneficial to their States, whilst it would not be injurious to the Commonwealth. I pass from that for a moment, but I shall submit the case of a particular State wherein I think that, whilst the State Premier may, by reason of his surroundings, be favorable -to a certain course of action, I, as a representative of the State, am entirely opposed to him’. It has been pointed out by Senator Best and others that all that we are asked to do by the Bill is to anticipate by three or four years a position which will automatically arise under the Constitution. That is quite true. But those who argue in that way overlook a very important point. All through the negotiations which have taken place it has been found difficult - in fact, impossible - to arrive at a satisfactory agreement with the States Premiers, in spite of Senator Playford’s assurance to the contrary. In dealing with the subject, not long since, his own colleague pointed out that it was impossible to arrive by negotiation at a satisfactory solution of the problem. But, if we wait until the Braddon section is about to expire, the Commonwealth will be in a different position to negotiate. It is absolutely powerless to-day to negotiate with the States ; but it will not be powerless when that section has expired, and we are approached by the States, as we shall be, to know what future arrangement is to be made for the distribution of the Federal revenue. Therefore, the mere waiting for three or four years would have this abundant advantage, that we should be in a far better position then to negotiate with the States than we are in to-day. We should then have a very much clearer knowledge of the revenue to be derived from Customs duties than we have now. I wish to urge one or two objections to the imposition of special duties. I take it that every man in public life is prepared to adopt a scheme of old-age pensions as early as it can be adopted. It has been suggested that Customs duties are to be imposed on kerosene and tea. The great objection that I see to the imposition of special duties for the payment of old-age pensions, rather than making them payable out of the Consolidated Revenue, arises from this fact - that we never can determine that the revenue from the special duties would be equal to the demand to be made upon it. It might be too little, or it might be too much. What is almost certain is that it would always be fluctuating. It appears to me almost a certainty, from the nature of our circumstances, that the revenue from a duty on kerosene and tea would steadily decrease, whilst the demand on the pensions fund would steadily increase. It has been pointed out by Senator Pearce that, in order to raise a fund of £1,500,000, it would be necessary to impose a duty of 8d. per gallon on kerosene, and 8d. per lb. on tea. It will be observed that I have doubled the figures he gave, in order to provide twice the sum he mentioned. It is quite clear that, if we imposed a duty of 8d. per gallon on kerosene, within a very few months not .one gallon of the article would be imported. In New South Wales we have in process of development a very large shale deposit. A company with an enormous capital is constructing a railway and doing the tremendous amount of preliminary work which is necessary in all large mining undertakings, and shortly it will be turning out shale.
– The enactment of this Bill would assist the company, then?
– With a large shale deposit, and with a company controlled by men with capital and enterprise, it is inevitable that, if we imposed anything like a substantial duty on kerosene, with the idea of raising revenue at all adequate to provide a fund for our wants, the effect of its imposition must be to stop importations and create a local industry, which might be good or bad; but, by killing importation, we should absolutely dry up the source upon which we were depending for the money for old-age pensions. I think it is possible that, if we imposed a very stiff duty on tea, we should find a diminution in the consumption of the article per head. It is a recognised fact that, in proportion as the cost of a commodity is increased, its consumption is also decreased. While I admit that Australians are liberal tea-drinkers. and that their consumption of the article would for some years to come be on a scale excessive as compared with that of other nations, still, if we imposed a heavy duty on tea, and at the same time granted a bounty upon the production of coffee, it is quite probable that we should find the position in Australia more nearly approximating to that in America. In Australia the people stand out as great tea-drinkers. In America, where coffee to a very large extent takes the place of tea, the consumption of the latter article per head is not so great as it is here. That, it seems to me, would be the effect of the policy which is advocated. While the diminution of revenue was going on, it is inevitable that, as the population increased, the number of applicants for old-age pensions must also increase. Is that a scheme which is financially sound, or well thought out? Ought we to be asked tq sanction a proposal so utterly crude that even its warmest advocates, like Senator Pearce, only claim that under its operation we could raise half the amount which would be required, and which, as I have pointed out, would be almost bound to be a diminishing quantity ? It has been urged that the Bill contains no reference to kerosene and tea. I quite admit that it does not, but there can be no objection to the opponents of the Bill taking those items, seeing that they have been brought forward by its advocates, as well as by the Prime Minister, its responsible sponser, as the two articles aimed at. Every one who has - spoken in the early portion of this debate, every man who has spoken on this question, either here or outside or at the Conferences, has had in his mind those two articles. It is not unreasonable for us, then, to take them for the purpose of illustration. If any one objects to our act, what articles can he offer in substitution? What other items of general consumption are likely to yield anyappreciable revenue ? The fact that no one has ventured to suggest any other items shows that we are entitled to regard kerosene and tea as the two items which it is proposed to tax if the Bill should become law. There is nothing in the measure to insure that the revenue from the special duties to be levied thereunder would be devoted to the payment of old-age pensions. Although only “ special purposes “ are set out in the Bill, still, it is not denied bv the Government, or any one else, that the revenue may be collected for any purpose other than the payment of old-age pensions. Under the Bill it would be possible for the Government to get the sanction of the electors to the proposed amendment of the Constitution, and then ultimately to use the power for the collection of a special revenue for a purpose other than that of old-age pensions. We ought not to play with the sentiment of the people in order to obtain a power which would enable the Commonwealth to collect a revenue that they never contemplated, and to spend it in ways which, if consulted, they would never sanction. I propose when we get into Committee to move an amendment to insure that ,the revenue to be collected from any special duties shall be allocated to the payment of old-age pensions, and to nothing else. That would prevent any Government from applying a power to a purpose other than that which was intended. New South Wales has a very elastic revenue at the present time. It is paying about £500,000 in old-age pensions. It is generally assumed that if the Commonwealth instituted a scheme of old-age pensions New South Wales would be a gainer to that amount. That is quite correct if the discussion were confined entirely to the Federal Treasurer and the State Treasurer. But it is not a light matter to ask me. as a representative of the State, to impose upon its taxpayers an additional burden equal to the amount which they are now paying away in oldage pensions. I have a right to ask myself whether I ought to be the instrument of levying that additional burden. Pro.bably I shall be met with this answer: “ If we pav old-age pensions, your State Government can remit that amount of taxation.” Elsewhere I have heard that argument v’erv often, as we all have, but I can only point to what is happening now. In the pre-Federal days we were told that if New South Wales had to submit to Customs duties its Government would of course remit other taxation, and the people would be only taxed to the same extent. But what has happened? New South Wales has had to bear a very large amount of additional taxation. I forget the exact sum, but it ranges from £1.250,000 to £1,500,000, and at the same time not a penny of other taxation has been remitted. We know the infirmity of ali Governments.
– But New South Wales has not borrowed so much.
– No, it has abstained from borrowing, as other States do when the Englishman is not inclined to lend.
– New South Wales has borrowed £19,000,000 since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and that is considerably more than the other States have borrowed.
– Both Senator McGregor and Senator Playford are perfectly correct. New South Wales has not borrowed as much during the last year or two, but since Federation she has borrowed the amount which Senator Playford stated. If New South Wales, is not borrowing today, verv little credit is due to her public men for that position. Owing to lavish borrowing, she got into a condition when the Englishman would not lend any more money. I see very little virtue in a State which abstains from borrowing when there is no one ready to lend. That appears to be very much -the position of most of the States. They get a spasm of economy when the Englishman buttons up his pockets. I cannot see that it is my duty to vote so as to impose additional taxation to the amount of £500,000 on the people of New South Wales. We have not yet exhausted either our power of negotiation with the States or our taxing power under the Constitution. Victoria is in much the same way. With a surplus of, I think, £500,000, she is paying a substantial amount in old-age pensions. Yet we are asked to collect from the State special taxation equal to that sum. Surely we ought to pause before we attempt to place upon the taxpayers of those two populous States that heavy load of additional taxation. We shall soon have an additional means of dealing with the matter. That means is at hand. Every day is bringing us nearer to the time when the ‘States themselves, in their own interest, will be glad to make some arrangement with the Commonwealth, because of the fact that the Braddon section will shortly expire. One special objection to this proposal to tax tea and kerosene - especially kerosene - has been pointed out bv Senator Turley. It is that it is a tax that will fall particularly upon the poorer classes of the community. I do not think it necessary to emphasize that point, because when we had a debate in the Senate upon a proposal to put a tax on these articles, it will be remembered how eloquent members of the Labour Party in particular were in opposition to it, how they denounced it as being entirely opposed to their ideas of equitable taxation, and as necessarily operating harshly upon the poorer members of the community. Senator Turley has pointed out that under this proposal, if it were carried out, the very people who require the assistance, and who are likely to be applicants for old-age pensions, would contribute most towards the fund. That is undeniable, and in itself would make what is projected not an old-age pension at all, but a species of insurance, the recipients of the benefits of which would practically contribute most of what they would subsequently’ receive.
– That is what Mr. Coghlan says.
– Well, then, Senator Turley is in very good company when he uses that argument. Quite a number of other honorable senators have said the same thing. Senator Higgs, Senator McGregor, and Senator de Largie denounced a duty on tea from the same point of view in 1902 ; and I was rather surprised to find Senator de Largie to-day supporting the Bill, and urging in favour of it that the benefits of free tea have not been reaped by the consumers. In addition to the fact that the projected duties seem to me to fall harshly upon the poorer classes, a further objection is that it not only discriminates between the richer and the poorer people of the community, but also between the city and the town population. A duty on kerosene, would be essentially a duty upon the country people. In New South Wales, half the population is living in towns of over £,000 inhabitants. Such towns have their own gasworks, and many their own electric lighting establishments. We may therefore assume that half the population of that State have the advantage of a superior light, and are not obliged to use kerosene. But that means that in my State - and the position is much the same in Victoria - the countrypeople are to be called upon to provide an undue share of the fund for the payment of old-age pensons. That does not appear to be at all equitable. With regard to tea, also, the proposal is equally inequitable from the point of view of the country population. Not that the people in the country are necessarily the biggest consumers of tea, but on an average per head of the population it is fair to say that they consume more than do the people in the towns. I therefore say that the people in the country districts would be more heavily penalized bv these proposals than would the dwellers in the towns. No doubt it will be said that while that is true with regard to the items in question, other people in the community contribute to the revenue in respect of other commodities more largely than do the people in the country districts, but these two duties would fall with particular sharpness upon the residents of the country districts. I was never one to raise the cry of town versus country, which is altogether out of place in the Federal Parliament ; but if there is one class in the community which is entitled to our special sympathy, it is those who do not enjoy all the social and other advantages of town life, those who have gone out into our often uninviting back-blocks, where they are practically isolated. If we are to show any favour at all, those people are entitled to the utmost consideration which we can extend to them. I wish it to be understood that I am as anxious as any honorable senator can be to see the adoption of a practical scheme of old-age pensions. But the scheme of the Government does not commend itself to me in any way, while it has the objections which I have pointed out. It may be said that the alternative is that we shall have no old-age pensions scheme at all. Nothing of the kind is the case. If this Bill passes the Government could not expect to carry an old-age pensions scheme through Parliament for twelve months. By then we shall be within a very short period of the time when tins Parliament will have to consider what is to take place when the operation of the Braddon section expires. We shall have to consider that question in the next Parliament, and that is the time when we shall have the whole financial position of the States and the Commonwealth under review, and when we can reasonably ask ourselves where we are to get the revenue to carry out a desirable scheme of old-age pensions. It will be better to do it then than under a defective scheme, which offends all our preconceived ideas of sound finance by levying special duties for special purposes, and offends our sense ‘ of justice by imposing taxation upon the class of the community least able to bear it. For these reasons I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and if it is not defeated by the Senate I shall do my best at the forthcoming elections to induce the electors of New South Wales to reject it.
.- After giving the measure before the Chamber full and serious consideration, I fail to see why it should not be carried unanimously. Every member of the Senate who has addressed himself to the subject to-day has warmly approved of the principle of old-age pensions. But, whilst some honorable senators favour the creation of a pensions fund, they are not disposed to trust the people by passing this Bill. Senator Millen has argued that the special duties proposed to be levied will fall very heavily upon the majority of the people of the Commonwealth. But in their denunciation several honorable senators have simply shown themselves consistent in their inconsistency. Senator Clemons, in particular, has pleaded that the duties would fall harshly upon the poorer sections of the community. But when the Customs Tariff Bill was before the Senate in the year 1902, there was no warmer advocate of the imposition of tea and kerosene duties than Senator Clemons. Honorable senators will recollect that tea was placed on the free list by the House of Representatives. When the measure reached the Senate, Senator Glassey pointed out that Queensland was, under Federation,’ receiving a much less sum from Customs and Excise than she hari done before Federation. A lengthy discussion ensued, and Senator Clemons, in supporting Senator Glassey’s proposal, said -
So far as the duty itself is concerned, it commends itself to every one. It is fortunately a duty that has nothing to do with differences in fiscal views.
Yet we have Senator Clemons to-day vigorously ‘ denouncing the imposition of such a duty, on the ground that it would fall heavily upon the poorer section of the community. He also condemned the proposition to tax kerosene. Yet in 1902 there was no warmer advocate for the imposition of a kerosene duty than Senator Clemons. Senator Dobson to-day likewise urged that it was a wrong course to pursue to tax necessaries such as kerosene and tea. But in 1902, when duties of 3d. per gallon on kerosene and 3d. per lb. on tea were proposed by Senator Glassey, Senator Dobson warmly supported him. He said that he considered them fair proposals - probably because Tasmania before Federation had imposed a dutv of 6d. a gallon on kerosene. When Senator Dobson talks about the serious loss which the State of Tasmania has sustained by Federation, amounting last year to £150,000, he appears to be forgetful that about £22,500 was taken away from that State by the removal of the taxes on kerosene and tea. and that the people of Tasmania, in consequence of the removal of these duties, are obtaining tea and kerosene cheaper under Federation than they did before. Senator Glassey’s proposal for the imposition of a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea was negatived by 17 votes to 9, and his proposal to impose 3d. per gallon on kerosene was negatived by 16 votes to 6. It is remarkable that one senator who professes to be strongly in favour of protectionist principles voted at the time for the imposition of tea and kerosene duties, though it appears to me that no conscientious protectionist was warranted in doing so. On this occasion, however, there is a special reason for the imposition, of the duties. The Victorian senator to whom I allude is Senator Fraser. I shall be curious to see what position he takes up in regard to the measure we are now discussing. In New South Wales, as has been frequently pointed out during the course of the debate, a fair measure of consideration was given to the aged poor, the maximum pension being ros. per week. But the difficulties that an Australian citizen undergoes in respect of that pension are very great indeed. A person is supposed to live in New South Wales for twenty-five years before being entitled to an old-age pension.
– Twenty years continuously.
– If a person lived in New South Wales nineteen years and eleven months, and then, owing to circumstances over which he had no control, went to one of the other States, arid there did not succeed as he anticipated, he would be debarred from a pension on return to his own State, although we are all supposed to be citizens of the Commonwealth. In Victoria, there is an old-age pension, which is rapidly becoming a charity dole. There have been innumerable cases cf persons who, because -in a moment of anger they have used a swear word, have been deprived of their pensions by a magistrate; and other cases where poor men, with wives and children to support on 30s. or 35s. a week earned at precarious employment, have been ordered to pay 4s. or 5s. towards the support of their parents. Such cases are truly regrettable, because,- while I believe there is no man in any part of the Commonwealth who has not a strong love and affection for his parents, anc would be proud to do everything possible to sustain them in the winter of their lives, it is exacting too much to compel them to make up a sum which the State ought to be well able to pay. Senator Millen expressed the opinion that £1,500,000 will be inadequate for old-age pensions as the years rolled on. As a matter of fact, however, pensions are not increasing, but decreasing, in Victoria; and for more reasons than one. It is true that at the inception of the movement in Victoria many difficulties arose which have since been removed. 1 feel strongly in regard to the principle of the referendum though, perhaps, not so strongly as do some honorable senators who represent States where there are no oldage pensions, and I am of opinion that this matter should be submitted to the people. If the people are of the same mind as a majority of the senators evidently are, then we, and the members of another place, will know exactly what the public opinion is. But that the people desire the establishment of old-age pensions goes without question ; and those who oppose the Bill will find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. We have heard repeatedly inside this Chamber, and outside, the statement that the people ought to be trusted ; but where is the consistency of honorable senators who are afraid to trust the people?
– Would that not apply to almost any absurd amendment of the Constitution?
– We would have to stretch our imagination very far to believe that any absurd proposed amendment of the Constitution would be submitted.
– Does the honorable senator think that the people will understand the Bill as it appears now?
– If Senator Mulcahy thinks that the people will not understand a measure of this kind, he has a very poor opinion of their intelligence. The electors had sufficient intelligence to express an opinion on the Constitution Bill. That was full of intricacies ; and yet nobody suggested that it should not be put to the referendum.
– There was a very clear principle involved in that Bill.
– And there is a clear principle involved in- the Bill before us - it is a. Bill to provide a fund for the piyment of old-age pensions. .
– There is not a word about old-age pensions in the Bill.
– Does the honorable senator think that the people will be called upon to express an opinion on a blank piece of paper? The Government consist of men of life-long experience of parliamentary government, who would not make themselves a laughing-stock by submitting a question which the people could not grasp and understand. Doubtless, the question will be presented in a very simple form and the people will be called upon to express their opinion in regard to the advisability or otherwise of an old-age pension scheme. The Government will, in all probability, indicate the commodities on which it is proposed to levy special duties ; and I have no doubt there will be a great majority in favour of the proposal. But if not, then the proposal can only be rejected. Those who oppose the referendum take a very undemocratic attitude. There is not a senator who does not believe in majority rule, and in any case, we know that finality cannot be reached until the proposal has been approved, not only by a majority of the people, but also by a majority of the States. Believing in old-age pensions, and in the principle of the referendum,, I cannot understand why the Bill should meet with such vigorous opposition, especially from those who express so much sympathy with the old people as deserving consideration in the winter of their lives. Some of the very members who oppose the Bill, and talk so much about the poor people, desired in 1902 to tax those poor people, simply for the purpose of getting revenue for their particular States. If there was any justification for their action on that occasion, there is justification for the creation of old-age pensions. I cannot see how Senator Dobson makes out that the scheme will cost Tasmania or any other State £60,000 per annum. It is proposed to levy duties on articles which are at present free.
– The proposed special duties will not even yield two-thirds of the sum necessary to provide old-age pensions for Tasmania. ‘
– That is very problematical. In any case, it is manifestly untrue to say that the scheme will cost Tasmania £60,000. That State will hot lose anything, but, on the contrary, will be a considerable gainer, because the aged poor there will receive that consideration which they are not receiving to-day, and the expense will be borne by the whole of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable senator aware that it is proposed to raise only £800,000 by these special duties?
– I have heard various statements as to the probable amount which will be raised. But tea and kerosene do not present the only means of raising funds. I am as anxious as any member of the Labour Party for a tax on unimproved land values, but I am not unmindful of the fact that the very men who now express so much sympathy for the poor, are those who, if it were proposed to raise money by direct taxation, would vigorously denounce the idea.
– The honorable senator agreed that direct taxation would be the best way, if we could get a majority to support the proposal.
– I absolutely believe in direct taxation. Between Senators Stewart, Givens, and Turley on the one hand, and myself on the other, there is an honest difference of opinion. We know the difficulties there are in the way of the land tax ; but if those honorable senators are right, there can be no harm in submitting the question to the people, because then the supporters of the Bill will be proved to be wrong. On the other hand, if the people approve of the Bill, it will not show that those honorable senators are wrong, but that the people are not prepared to wait for land values taxation. I do not desire a wrong impression to go abroad. I have said that I thought I would be placed in a quandary in regard to this proposal, which I felt to be intricate and complex in regard to certain matters. But I have thought seriously over the whole of the circumstances, and I have come to the conclusion that it would be wise and beneficial to pass the measure, which, therefore, shall have my support.
– In the words of an ex-member of the Senate, if I may be permitted humbly to address this, assemblage, I should’ like briefly to put my views on this question before honorable senators. I do not propose to address my remarks to any very great extent to honorable senators opposite, because, although they have expressed sympathy with the old-age pensions movement, by their speeches and actions, they have indicated that they are not going to materially assist the passage of an old-age pensions scheme until the expiration of the operation of the Braddon section. Senator Millen has just declared that we shall have only a little while to wait, but if the honorable senator were over the age of seventy, and in straightened circumstances, he might consider three or four years a very long time. In such conditions it is probable that he would hardly expect to live even for that short period. It has been stated that in the next Parliament we shall have to deal with the Braddon section. That is very questionable. There will be no necessity to deal with it in the next Parliament, because if we do not do so it will continue as at present; and we can deal with it afterwards when we please. However, it is to the members of the party to which I belong that I should like to address a few remarks. Something has been said about direct taxation. I have always been in favour of direct taxation, and probably as strongly in favour of it as have any representatives from any of the other States. But one honorable senator from another State who is in favour of direct taxation has stated that for twelve years the effort has been made to secure the establishment of an old-age pensions scheme in that State by means of direct taxation.
– No, he did not say that, but that we have been trying to get old-age pensions provided for.
– They have been trying to secure old-age pensions by any means, and have been unable to do so.’
– Because we have a nominee Upper House there.
– That is exactly the reason why I wish to extend the powers of a Parliament that has not a nominee Upper House. That would not suit the Opposition, but it ought to suit the members of a party that is always advocating that the will of the people should prevail. The more power we give to this Parliament, the better it will be for the majority of the people. It is be cause this and a previous measure which we dealt with would have the effect of giving this Parliament more power that I so ardently support them. If we pass this measure, in what position will it place the members of the Labour Party? Will it compel them, if they are strong enough in the next Parliament’, to adopt duties on tea or kerosene, or any other article, to provide funds for old-age pensions? If they are strong enough, will they not have the power to pass the direct taxation they talked so much about to-day, and to avoid the necessity for the indirect taxation to which they object at the present time?
– Does the honorable senator object to them talking about direct taxation to-day?
– Certainly not, but I point out- the absurd position in which they place themselves. If they reject this Bill, and will not have the power in the next Parliament to carry a measure of direct taxation, will they then have the power to assist the aged and indigent people whom they profess now to be so anxious to serve? Certainly not. The Federal Parliament has. been in existence for nearly six years, and the reason why we have not been able to secure old-age pensions up to the present time is that we have laboured under the disadvantages of the “ Braddon blot,” and have had to return to the States three-fourths of the revenue derived from Customs and Excise, whilst we have not had the power to impose direct taxation.
– This Parliament has the power if it were willing to use it.
– But Parliament has not the power if it has not the numbers to pass such legislation. Senator Givens knows that. If he knew that fie would have behind him the numbers in Parliament to-day he would he the very first man to make an attempt to carry such a measure. But he is aware that he has not the numbers, and that in the circumstances’ any such attempt at the present time would be futile. _ We have gone on for nearly six years, and the poor old people of the Commonwealth have suffered., because we have not had that power. Why is this amendment of the Constitution necessary ? Because the one*-fourth of the revenue from Customs and Excise which the Commonwealth is entitled to retain is not sufficient to pay old-age pensions and all the other expenses of the Commonwealth, and it is not possible for us to get sufficient under present conditions. The Government say, “ We are prepared to provide for old-age pensions if we are given the money.” They do not suggest that we should give them the money through direct taxation, because they know that their supporters and the-
Opposition would oppose such a proposal, even though the Labour Party were in favour of it.
– We, the stronger party, must give way to the weaker party.
– I am surprised at the honorable senator’s interjection. It does not matter how strong the honorable senator might imagine himself to be, he is not strong enough, nor is the parly to which he belongs strong enough, to force the Federal Parliament to give him the direct taxation which he advocates, and we find that he is prepared to ally himself with the very people who will always resist it. The Government say we cannot get the money out of the Consolidated Revenue at the present time. Here I might deal with the question whether the revenue from this special taxation will go into the Consolidated Revenue or the money paid for oldage pensions will come out of the Consolidated Revenue. Of what use is it to argue it? It is a technical question probably, but I say that if we are ever in a position to pass a vote for old-age pensions I have no doubt it will be included in a Supply Bill. We must appropriate the money atsome time from the Consolidated Revenue, and whether we get it through the medium of a tax upon articles that are not dutiable at the present time, or in some other way, is a matter of indifference so far as we are concerned. But if we do not pass this Bill we shall be absolutely compelled to wait for another four years unless we can force direct taxation, and if we are in a position in the next Parliament to force direct taxation we shall be able’ to say that we will not submit to these heavy duties on articles at present free. We shall then be in a position, by the will of the people of Australia, to secure direct taxation and to put the Consolidated Revenue fund in a position to supply the money necessary for old-age pensions. I know, as well as does any member of the Labour Party, that it we had the numbers we could do it very easily. There is over £60,000,000 in land values in Australia held by absentees. Twopence in the £1 on that would give us nearly £500,000. If the scheme which we are proposing to the country at the present time were adopted, estates valued at from ,£15,000 to £30,000 would yield us nearly another £500,000. Honorable members of the’ Labour Party ->ho are ‘opposing this Bill can see that the source of revenue is there, if we could only get at it. We have not been able to get at it during the last six years, and if we can get at it within the next three years we can have old-age pensions without a duty on tea or kerosene or any other article that is now duty free. There mightbe a necessity for this Bill within the next four years for other purposes than for old-age pensions. If the four years had expired there would be no necessity for the Bill at all, but it is introduced so as to make it possible for poor old people to get some benefit from a system of old-age pensions within a shorter time than four or five years from the present. Seeing that the avenues for obtaining revenue are so restricted that we cannot obtain the money to provide for oldage pensions, the Government in this measure ask that they should be given an opportunity of appealing to the people of Australia to say whether they are prepared to permit the Federal Parliament to impose taxation to provide the money necessary to give them old-age pensions. If the people say “ No,” and Senator Millen be successful in New South Wales,and Senator Turley in Queensland, in persuading the people of those States that this is not a wise measure to pass, it will probably be rejected, even though it should pass both Houses of the Federal Parliament, and things will be as they are now when we meet in the next Parliament. Senators Givens, Stewart, and Turley, will still have to fight for the direct taxation from which the money should be provided, and then we shall see whether their new allies will assist them in that direction in the same way as their old friends would.
– At this hour I do not propose to do more than briefly indicate the reasonwhy I am opposed to this Bill. I shall not follow the example of Senator McGregor by importing a great deal of heat into the few remarks I have to make, nor will I make any personal remarks. It has been said that there is a need for an amendment of the Constitution in order to provide a fund to pay old-age pensions. That is the only excuse put forward for this Bill. There has not been a single member of the Government Party or of the Labour Party who has supported the Bill who has not putthat forward as the only excuse for the passing of the measure and its submission to the people. That is an absolutely incorrect view to take, because there is no necessity to amend the Constitution in order to enable the Commonwealth to provide a fund for old-age pensions. We have unlimited power of taxation.
– Why has not the honorable senator got the money long ago?
– In the short time I have been here I have done my best to bring the question prominently before the Senate. I made it a feature of my remarks in discussing the Appropriation Bill last year.
– What is the use of the honorable senator bringing on the question when he knows that it cannot be carried ?
– If that line of reasoning is correct, what is the use of a reform party coming into existence at all? Like an infant, a minority must creep before it walks. It is only by years of strenuous struggle that any reform can be brought about, and I do not think that there is any one here who recognises that fact better than does the honorable senator.
– But I am not prepared to wait for four or five years to get it put through.
– I wish to state briefly why, in my opinion, this referendum should not be taken. I have always been strongly and irrevocably opposed to increasing the burden of indirect taxation. It has been my ideal, if I possibly could, to always reduce the amount of indirect taxation which the people are called upon to pay, because I recognise, as I think most members of the Labour Party do, that it is the greatest engine which the wealthy and privileged class have for placing an undue burden upon the shoulders of the poor, and freeing themselves from the responsibility which should rightly be borne by them. It will be remembered by every student of history that indirect taxation is of comparatively modern growth. In olden days in the United Kingdom there was no such thing as indirect taxation. The land bore the whole burden of taxation. Every landowner held his land in fee from the Crown, and he had to provide a certain amount of revenue for the Crown, and to maintain men-at-arms always ready to fight on behalf of the Crown, and in defence of the country. As industries spread, as population increased, as society became a little more complex, the landowners began to see that if they could induce the poorer people to pay taxation, they could free their own shoulders from a burden. What was the consequence? They knew that the people could be robbed while they were asleep, without their knowledge, by imposing indirect taxation. I think that every member of the Labour Party will agree with me that that is a fair statement of the- case.
– It is not we whom the honorable senator has to convince on that point. He ought to try to convince his other friends.
– When the honorable senator was speaking just now he addressed most of his remarks to Senator Turley, Senator Stewart, and myself, and therefore I think I am entitled to show him that we, at any rate, have some justification for the course we propose to take. From that date until now the burden of indirect taxation has been continually increasing, and the people to whom the burden rightly belongs are enjoying an immunity. They are escaping their due and just share of the taxation. We - a party which do not believe in indirect taxation - are asked, because an excuse is put forward that the money is required for a purpose which we favour, to weaklyconsent not only to an expansion of the system of indirect taxation, but to the breaking of the Constitution in order to accomplish that end.
– If we, who have certain ideals and aspirations, weakly agree to increase a source of taxation which we condemn, then we shall cut the ground from under our own feet, and never accomplish; the reform which we set out to secure. It is only stern necessity which will ever force the hand of a Government to resort to direct taxation. So long as they can get money easily through the Customs-house, so long as they can rob the people while asleep by means of indirect taxation, so long will they refrain from imposing direct taxation,
– And so long will they keep the honorable senator from getting a system of old-age pensions established.
– They will not keep the people from getting that boon a single day longer than they are determined that it shall be granted. In taking up this position we are strengthening the hands of the people.
– We are playing right into their hands,.
– Yes. Who is to be asked to provide the money for old-age pensions? Is it proposed to compel those who derive a benefit from the pioneering of the old people, to compensate them for their years of toil and strenuous striving on behalf of the country? Undoubtedly not. It is proposed to raise the money from the poor people themselves.
– It will be the people who will compel themselves to find the money if they vote in f avour of the Bill.
– Why should we submit a proposal of this kind to the electors ?
– I am prepared to submit everything to them, because I believe in the principle of the referendum.
– If we are always going to shelter ourselves behind the referendum
– Hear, hear.
– I believe in the referendum, but I think I can show the honorable senator that, there are a great many questions which he would not vote to refer to the people for decision.
– That may be; but I am in favour of this referendum.
– Will the honorable senator extend to me the liberty to think that this is not a proper measure to submit to the people? What would be the position if the Bill were passed. We should be entering upon an act of repudiation. The Constitution, which was accepted by the people, clearly sets out in section 87, as a bond between the States, that for ten years-
– Unless it is altered.
– To remove all doubt, I will read section 87 of the Constitution -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and Excise, not more than onefourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure. The balance shall, in accordance with this Constitution, be paid to the several States or applied towards the payment of interest on debts of the several States taken over by the ‘Commonwealth.
– There is a provision for the alteration of theConstitution.
– Of course there is; but no one ever supposed that a bond entered into for a definite number of years would be attempted to be altered before that term had expired. To abrogate that condition before the expiration of the time would be a distinct act of repudiation. The Premiers’ Conference was utterly opposed to this being done. The Premier of Queensland, for instance, very strongly opposed it. Not that I am disposed to place too much reliance on what the States Premiers say in their Conferences.
– The honorable senator only quotes them when it suits his purpose.
– What I mean is that a statement made at a Premiers’ Conference should not have an overwhelming influence upon the minds of honorable senators in coming to a conclusion. But I do say that, having entered into a contract for ten years, we have no right to alter it before that term has expired.
– It was made subject to alteration.
– When the honorable senator, as the capable officer of the Seamens’ Union, enters into a contract with ship-owners for a certain length of time, does he expect them to break it before that time expires? After the expiration of the time fixed, we can make any arrangement we please.
– And in the meantime we can alter the Constitution if we like.
– I maintain that it is a distinct act of repudiation to alter it in this respect. The Commonwealth should be extremely careful before it sanctions anything of the land. Let me point out also what this indirect taxation means. Those who have studied Commonwealth statistics will agree with me that the amount which, on an average, each individual contributes in Customs and Excise duties to the revenue of Australia amounts to about £2 3s. Let us say, in round figures, that it amounts to £2 per head of the population. What does that mean to a working man who has a wife and two children to support? It means that he contributes £8 per annum to the revenue. Most of the working men whom I know do not, on an average, earn more than £2 per week. In fact, I doubt whether they earn as much. It means, therefore, that a man who is earning £2 per week has to contribute-no less than four weeks’ work per annum to the revenue of the country.
– It depends on whether He is a teetotaller or a smoker.
– The Minister will remember that I have deducted 3s. from the average contribution per head, so as to be on the safe side. Now, what does a man with an income of £1,000 per annum contribute? A simple calculation will show that he does not contribute one week’s income towards the government of the country. Where is the equality of sacrifice? Looked at in every possible way, it will be seen how unequal the contribution is. Moreover, the man who has an income of £1,000 per annum derives far greater advantages from government than does the man who earns only £2 a week. Much of the cost of government is incurred by maintaining and administering the law and Law Courts, which are chiefly occupied in hearing cases and filing records referring to disputes about property, and administering the law relating to property. The man who has to contribute four weeks’ work per annum towards the cost of government has no reason to avail himself of many of the agencies which the State maintains. Let honorable senators look at the matter in another light, and they will see how much worse the position of the working man is. Every one will remember that there has been a great outcry about the need for more population in Australia. There has also been an outcry about the diminishing birth rate. What do we do by means of our Customs and Excise duties ?
– Why did not the honorable senator “ stone- wall.” the spirit duties if he considered that they were so unfairto the working classes?
– The honorable senator professes to be a protectionist, but he does not seem to understand the first principles of protection. A protective Tariff, carried to its logical conclusion, will bring in no revenue. There has been a great outcry about the low birth-rate and the need of population ; but, when we tax everything that the people, eat, use, or wear, we tax a main for every additional child he has, whereas the man without children - who, indeed, may be an absentee - escapes scot free. Where is the logic, justice, or fairness in such a policy?
Yet honorable senators, with sophistical arguments, endeavour to justify an increase of the burden of indirect taxation. It is monstrous that in the twentieth century we have not a more enlightened idea of how to raise revenue than that embodied in this outworn system. The taxes contemplated in the Bill will, if imposed, be unjust in their incidence. Why should there not be a tax on the electric light and on gas? The main, in the back country, who, in his, pioneering, exploring, and producingworks, is bearing the heat and burden of the day, will have to pay a tax on his kerosene, whereas the man in the town, who has sim ply to turn on the gas tap or touch the electric button, escapes. Tea is one of the necessaries of life of the poor people. In the bush there is not the choice of cocoa or coffee, and, very often, there is no milk; all that can be obtained is tea, and yet it is proposed to impose a duty of 5d. or 6d. a lb. on this commodity. To do this we are asked to amend the Constitution, while, as a matter of fact, if we had the courage to insist, there is ample power, without any amendment, to raise more than sufficient to pay all the old-age pensions that will ever be required in the Commonwealth. So long as we palter with the question, and are weak enough to acquiesce in anything which the Government propose, so long shall we delay reform.
– The honorable senator isdelaying old-age pensions.
– I am not. The vast majority of the members of both Chambers, when before their constituencies, expressed themselves in favour of old-age pensions. They did not say thatthey were in favour of providing old-age pensions when the Braddon section ceased to operate, ‘ or when there had been an alteration of the Constitution, but that they were in favour of pensions here and now. Not only the members of the LabourParty. but a majority of the members of other parties, said that they were in favour of an old-age pension scheme at. once; and the only thing lacking is the courage to insist on a scheme. If we had set our energies to work in the right direction, instead of frittering our strength over a lot of paltry questions, we mighthave accomplished a great deal more. At this late hour, I shall not detain the Senate longer than tosay that I am opposed to the Bill root and branch, because, in my opinion, it perpetuates an evil system. I am prepared on any platform in any part of Australia to justify the position I now take up. I am perfectly certain that the people of Australia, especially the poor people who have been demanding justice for so long, will recognise the soundness of the contention of Senator Stewart, SenatorTurley. andmyself.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– Is it the intention of the Government to go on with the consideration of the Bill in Committee to-night?
– I should very much like to get through with it-
– I do not know how other honorable senators feel, but a twelvehour shift is as much as I feel capable of.
– Honorable senators have had three hours out of that.
– I have had no three hours off. In view of the fact that we have to meet again at 10.30 a.m. to-morrow, I put it to the Minister to say whether it is not an undue strain to impose upon honorable senators to ask them to sit later, and whether he does not think that it would be advisable at this hour to report progress?
– I think we should pass one clause before we adjourn.
Clause agreed to.
– In moving,
That the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again,
I would ask honorable senators if it really be possible to restrain their verbosity. If they would compress their remarks, we should get on with the business more quickly. I ask them to help me to pass the two Bill proposing alterations to the Constitution as early aspossible to-morrow, so that we can fix a time for the third reading, and for a call of the Senate, to consider the third reading of the measures.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Call of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to ask Senator Playford, in an. informal way, if he can give honorable senators any indication as to when he ‘proposes to make the call of the Senate in connexion with the Bills to amend the Constitution. I have no personal objection to the call being made for Friday, but I point out that that would scarcely be fair to honorable senators who are absent.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Austria - Minister of Defence [11.4]. - I should very much like the call to be made for Friday, because honorable senators will recollect that every day we put it off we postpone the date of the elections. If the call is made for Monday or Tuesday, the result will be that the elections must be held in December.
– I suggest to the Minister that he ought not to make the call before Wednesday next, if he wishes to secure a full Senate.
– That would mean that the election would have to be delayed until December.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [11.5]. - I suggest that, by leave of the Senate, the Minister of Defence might give notice of a call to-night. I am sure no one would object.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11. 5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060926_senate_2_35/>.