2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the
Minister representing the Minister of External affairs, without notice, the following questions, which he was unable to answer the other day : -
– The. answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to ask the
Ministerof Defence, without notice, a question arising out of the statement he made last night as to his intention to fix the proposed call of the Senate for tomorrow, with the object of expediting the elections. I desire to ascertain whether anything has arisen since yesterday to cause him to depart from the course which he then mapped out, and to give notice, as he has done this morning, of -his intention to move to-morrow for a call on Tuesday?
-Something has arisen since yesterday. An honorable senator who was going to vote with the Government has intimated to me that he cannot be present on Friday.
– Senator Walker.
– I believe that he will be willing to stay until to-morrow rather than have the elections postponed for three days.
– He is paired.
– I see Senator Walker at the table, but I have not had an opportunity of speaking to him this morning.
– I told the honorable senator that I could not come here until Wednesday.
– I cannot be here on Tuesday.
– Let the Minister withdraw his notice of motion and make the call for to-morrow, so that we may get on with business.
– Will any honorable senator who, under ordinary circumstances, would vote the other way if Senator Walker were absent, vote with us so as to make up the statutory majority?
– I believe that the Minister could get Senator Walker to stay until to-morrow if he asked him to do so.
– I am not quite sure that he would. I am doubtful whether some honorable members will be present to-morrow.
– Why not make a call for both days?
– I shall be quite willing to do so if it can be done. I am extremely anxious to take a division on Friday, because if it were taken then it would not necessitate a postponement of the elections.
– I shall remain until to-morrow.
– After the Bills have gone through I shall move that a call of the Senate be made on Friday.
– With the leave of the Senate, the honorable senator can give notice of motion, if he likes, to move for a call to-morrow.
– Then, with the leave of the Senate, I give notice that I shall move to-day that a call be made on Friday. If I should not move the motion, then the other notice will stand for tomorrow.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) agreed to.
That the petition and the names of the signatories thereto, having reference to the Eastern Extension Company; also the PostmasterGeneral’s reply to the said petition, laid upon the table of the Senate on 24th September, 1906, be printed.
Assent to the following Bills reported : - Audit Bill.
Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 26th September, vide page 5421).
Clause 2 -
Section eighty-seven of the Constitution is altered -
bj’ inserting after the word “ Excise “ the words “ (other than special duties of Customs and of Excise)” ;
by inserting after the word “ balance “ the words “ of the revenue from those duties (other than special duties)” :
by adding at the end of the section the following paragraph : - “ A special duty of Customs or of Excise is a Customs jor E.v-ise duty 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.”
– It is very undesirable that we. should make an alteration of the Constitution by an amendment of the text. It should not be made, as proposed, by striking out words and inserting others, and adding words, but by an additional provision which would exactly express the intention. If that plan were adopted, it would leave the text of the Constitution unimpaired, and that would be exceedingly useful for historical purposes. Every one would then know exactly what it was originally. If, however, it be amended from time to time in the undesirable way I have indicated, I presume that the printer would be instructed to reprint the Constitution with the alteration. It would become very confusing after a time, and extremely difficult to ascertain when alterations were made. The time will come, I think, when, as in the United States, the Constitution will be printed and used as a manual in the State schools. We should follow the example of that country, so that the young people may always have the Constitution as it was agreed to by the people, and the various amendments set out separately, with’ the dates upon which they . were made. Otherwise our children and their children would feel a certain amount of contempt for the
Constitution tinkerers who came along after its founders. The Bill proposes to amend section 87 by striking out words and inserting others, and by adding words. Suppose that those alterations be made, the Constitution must be looked at, I suppose, from that time as though it had been originally printed in that way. The alterations are to be made with a view to provide forthe imposition of special duties of Customs, but section 89, sub-section 1, says -
The Commonwealth shall credit to each State the revenues collected therein by the Commonwealth.
The revenue to be collected from special duties of Customs would have to go to the credit of the State, because, I presume, that as it comes later in the Constitution, section 89 would override section 87 as amended. Then there is section 93. I have not carefully gone through the whole of the Constitution to see how it would be affected by the proposed alterations. There may be other slips of a similar nature. The better plan, in my judgment, would be to frame a new section of the Constitution, embodying the whole purpose intended. The course which I suggest seems to me to be preferable to that pursuedby the Government, because it avoids altering the text of the Constitution, and makes the issues to be submitted to the referendum of the people much simpler. Under the Bill I presume that the question submitted to the electors would be, “Are you in favour of the Bill to alter the Commonwealth Constitution with respect to the appropriation of special duties of Customs and Excise?” That question would have to be answered “ Yes” or “ No.” The candidates at the elections will presumably have the duty of endeavouring to explain intricate constitutional amendments, in addition to discussing political issues of a broader character. Indeed, under the proposal of the Government, if the candidates satisfactorily expound all the amendments to be submitted to the electors they will not be able to talk much about what Parliament has done in the past, or what it is to do in the future. If the proposed amendment of the Constitution is submitted in the form of that Bill, most of the electors will be mystified as to what it is all about. If, however, the proposal is put before them in a clear and definite shape, they will be able to vote “Yes” or “No” upon it without difficulty. I therefore move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - ia. The Constitution is amended by the addition of the following section : - The Parliament of the Commonwealth may for a special purpose impose duties of Customs or Excise upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.’ “
– I wishthat Senator Drake had circulated his amendment, so that we might have considered it. I am very muchimpressed with his argument in favour of it, though I do not think that his contention that the proposal of the Commonwealth Government conflicts with sections 89 and 93 of the Constitution is well founded. Section 89 commences, “ Until the imposition of uniform duties of Customs.” The efficacy of that clause has, therefore, expired. Section 93 relates to payments to the States for the first five years after uniform duties have been imposed. From the point of view of clean drafting, there can be no doubt that the method of the Government is the better, because it shows -what parts of the Constitution are repealed ; and when the Constitution is reprinted, the amendments made will be inserted in it, so that when a person obtains a reprinted copy the state of the law will be absolutely clear upon the face of it. The honorable senator considers it inadvisable to make the amendment in the way proposed by the Government,, on the ground that young children, to whom we are supposed to teach the laws of the land, ought to be made acquainted with all the various alterations which, are made. I, myself,’ see no necessity for such a. precaution,, so long as the children are taught the law as it exists. However. I do not oppose the amendment, subject to any revision of terms which may be considered advisable, so long as it covers all that the Government desire. As pointed out, the amendment will have the advantage of placing before the electors a clean-cut issue.
. -DoIunderstandthattheMinister proposes to accept Senator Drake’s amendment?
– With great respect, I think that, instead of offering a mild rebuke to Senator Drake for not having his amendment printed, the Minister . ought to have expressed his gratitude to that honorable senator for pointing out a mistake for which the Government are responsible. Senator Drake, in a way that demands the admiration of the Committee, has pointed out that the Government, in proposing an alteration of the Constitution, have made a great error ; and I am sorry that Senator Playford did not receive the amendment in a spirit more in harmony with his usual acceptance ofl suggestions which are made with the intention to improve any Bill he may introduce. I am not quite sure, however, that the amendment will entirely obviate the difficulty which has been suggested. Unless some alteration is made in section 93 of the Constitution, it may be found that the amendment and that section do not harmonize.
– Whether they harmonize or not is a matter of no importance, because, as the latest expressed will of the Legislature, the amendment must prevail over any section of the Constitution which conflicts with it.
– In using the words the “ latest expressed will of the Legislature,” is the Minister not confusing two ideas ? Has the honorable gentleman not in his mind the fact that the latest provision, even in a Constitution, is always held, as a matter of interpretation, to override any provision which precedes it, and with which it may be in conflict?
– The amendment here will represent the latest provision passed by the Legislature and by the people.
– I doubt whether Senator Playford is right in applying the word “ latest “ under the circumstances. Where is it proposed to insert the new clause? The Constitution will be read as a whole, as if made at one time.
– The proposed new clause will be inserted as the last in the Constitution.
– That may be; and, if so, there is something in the Minister’s contention. But no indication has been given as to where the amendment will be inserted; and it is extremely doubtful if the fact that it is latest in date will give it the overriding effect that the Minister intends and believes it will have. In my opinion, it is almost a matter of public ‘ reproach that this Bill should have come to us in such an incomplete form. We are in great danger in undertaking so serious a task, if we are not perfectly certain that the amendments we insert will have the effect intended. It is not in accordance with his position as leader of the Senate, for Senator Playford to pay this matter such slight attention. It would be better to devote five minutes, or even an hour, longer to’ the proper carrying out of our intention, than to have slip-shod legislation. I have great doubt whether, with the proposed amendment inserted, the conflict between, it and section 93, is not one. which ought to be avoided. I have done my duty by pointing out the difficulty, because, after all, the responsibility is largely with the leader of the Senate, though, of course, no honorable senator should shirk his share of that responsibility. I doubt whether the amendment, admirable as it is. goes so far as it ought to go.
– The operation of section 93 of the Constitution is fixed for the first five years after the imposition of uniform duties, and thereafter until Parliament otherwise provides. This is a proposal which, I take it, ought not to be regarded as a mere parliamentary enactment - an amendment of the Constitution amounts to something more. If there is any legitimate reason for doubt, we could possibly overcome the difficulty by preceding Senator Drake’s amendment with the words “ Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in’ the Constitution.” That would remove any doubt such as that suggested by Senator Clemons.
– I admit that the difficulty might be overcome to a large extent by that means; but Senator Playford was going to allow the amendment to pass without any such words.
– I suggest to Senator Drake that, instead of the word “ amended,” he should use “ altered,” because the latter is the word used throughout the Constitution in reference to amendments thereof.
– I thank Senator Pearce for his suggestion. It did not appear to me wrong to use the word “ amended,” because I take it that an alteration of the Constitution may be either by amission, or addition. The terms that I have used, are that the
Constitution be “amended “ by the “addition :’ of the section.
– Why not adopt the word that is used in the Constitution?
– I have no objection, except that it seems to me that “ altered ‘ ‘ covers an alteration of the Constitution in various ways - by omission or addition. I do not object to the words suggested by Senator Keating, but I think they are entirely unnecessary. If Ave are amending or altering, the Constitution by the addition of the section, it clearly means that that section is to come after the Constitution - to be added to the Constitution - and will necessarily override anything in the Constitution that is inconsistent.
– We are amending the Constitution, and clearly anything, in the Constitution which conflicts with the amendment must be overridden ; there could not possibly be any other view of the case. But if we insert the words suggested by Senator Keating, and we, at some other time, make an amendment without using those words, it may be held that there is some apparent conflict in the Constitution that is intended to remain. It would be a mistake to insert unnecessary words.
.- Surely if we are amending the Constitution in a way provided by the Constitution itself, no harm can arise. I hold, therefore, that the amendment is quite clear as it is.
– I ask leave to amend my amendment bv substituting the word “altered” for “amended.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– When Senator Pearce yesterday pointed out that under certain duties on tea and kerosene, Western Australia would have a considerable surplus of something like £30,000, after providing for old-age pensions, he seemed to anticipate this amendment by contending that that revenue would not be subject to section 93 of the Constitution, and would be available for pensions in other States. When the honorable senator was speaking, I asked - “ What about the bookkeeping section?” To that Senator Pearce replied that the bookkeeping section would not apply. I think, however, that the point is far from clear. I agree with Senator Playford, that if the proposed amendment conflicts with the Constitution, the amendment, as coming last after an interval of five or six years, must prevail. But it is not a question of contradiction ; it is a question whether the revenue is to be chargeable to the States, subject to one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution. Wise legislators and good draftsmen ought to take care that any addition is not subject to the Constitution, or state that it is not meant tcn be so subject.
– If the addition be contradictory of the Constitution, it cannot be subject to the Constitution.
– But the addition does not contradict the Constitution; it alters the Constitution by giving an additional power.
– The addition cannot be subject to that which it alters.
-The addition alters the Constitution by giving power to impose specific .duties, the revenue from which is to be applied to specific purposes. Supposing that in one year there was, under these specific duties, a surplus °f £50,000, would it not lie with the State which had raised the larger sum per capita to claim it, and, if necessary, to enforce its claim in the High Court? This question was raised by Senator Pearce when he made the remarks to which I have already referred. If my honorable friend had said yesterday that all could take a share of it, I would have expected that our hands would have been held up in horror. Why should we propose an amendment which would enable us to take £30,000 of the revenue belonging to Western Australia?
– Does the honorable senator object to the amendment?
– I congratulate Senator Drake upon the amendment, and thank him for the clear statement he has made as to the manner in which we should amend the Constitution. I am in favour of the amendment, but in order that it may be made absolutely clear, it is my intention to move the addition of the following proviso -
Provided that any special duties when raised shall not be subject to section 93 of the Constitution.
– I wish to move an amendment prior to that suggested by Senator Dobson. It is my desire that we should limit the special duties proposed to be raised under this Bill to the specific purpose of the payment of old-age pensions.
Although the measure is put forward as a means of obtaining revenue to provide an old-age pensions fund, if it became law as it now stands it would be competent for the Ministry to impose special duties for any purpose. I want some guarantee that if ever this measure is put into operation, it will be for the purpose of providing an old-age pensions fund, and I am, therefore, prepared to move, when a fitting opportunity arises, that’ the amendment be amended by substituting for the words “such special purpose,” the words “the payment of old-age pensions.”
– I move -
That the amendment be amended bv inserting after the word “by” the words “inserting after the word 1 expenditure ‘ in section 87 the words other than expenditure for a national scheme of old-age pensions.’ “
– The honorable senator’s object is to pav old-age pensions out of the three-fourths of the revenue from Customs and Excise now returnable to the States.
– That is what I desire.
– As a point of order, I take the objection that the honorable senator’s amendment is not within the title or scope of the Bill. This is a Bill dealing with the appropriation of special duties of Customs, and Senator Stewart’s amendment is a proposal to alter the destination of the ordinary duties of Customs and. Excise.
– 0;n, the point of order, it appears to me that the primary object of the Bill is to take a referendum in order .that” the people may be asked whether thev will agree to such an alteration of the Constitution as would permit the Commonwealth Parliament to impose special duties for a particular purpose, and retain the whole of those duties for that purpose. Mv amendment is really a proposal that the question which the people should be asked at the referendum is whether they will agree to permit the Commonwealth authorities to retain sufficient of the present revenue from Customs and Excise now returnable to the States to meet the cost of an old-age pensions scheme. The whole proposal is to take the voice of the people with regard to a certain amendment. I propose to alter the question to be submitted to the people at the referendum. The Bill proposes a certain course of nrocedure in connexion with old-age pensions, and my amendment, having a distinct reference to that, I submit that it is perfectly in order.
– It does not strictly bear upon the point of order, but perhaps I may be permitted to suggest here that the object in view could be more conveniently achieved by omitting the last two words of the clause, and inserting the words “ for the purpose of providing funds for a system of old-age pensions.”
– The object of the Bill is to alter the Constitution in a particular direction, and that is to apply the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise to a specific purpose. Senator Stewart proposes that, instead of imposing new duties of Customs and Excise, a portion of the revenue from the existing duties shall be so used. He does not propose to depart from’ the object in view, but he merely wishes to vary a detail of the Bill. I submit that his amendment is ‘in order.
– The title of a Bill has not so much to do with a point of order of this kind as its subject-matter. I have to take into consideration what is the subject-matter of this Bill. Section 87 of the Constitution says: -
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 of Excise, not more than onefourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure.
To that provision Senator Stewart proposes to add the words - other than expenditure for a national scheme of old-age pensions.
I am of opinion that, while the subjectmatter of the Bill contemplates expenditure - and I think the common-sense interpretation is that it does - it is within the power of the Committee, if it wishes, to restrict that expenditure The money to be raised by the imposition of the special duties might be used for all kinds of purposes. I take it that, by his amendment, Senator Stewart wishes to restrict the use of the money, and therefore I rule that it is in, order.
– With great regret, sir. I dissent from your ruling.
– Senator Drake has handed in the following objection to my decision : -
I dissent from the ruling of the Chairman that the amendment of Senator Stewart is in order.
In the Senate.
The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report, sir, that in Committee on the Bill for -
An Act to alter the Constitution with respect to the appropriation of special duties of Customs and of Excise,
Senator Drake proposed the insertion of the following new clause: -
The Constitution is altered by the addition of the following section : - “The Parliament of the Commonwealth may for a special purpose impose duties of Customs or Excise upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the first day of January, 1907, and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.
Senator Stewart moved to amend the proposed new clause to insert after the word “by” the following words: -
Inserting after the word “expenditure” in section S7 the words “ other than expenditure for a national scheme of old-age pensions.”
Senator Drake took the point that the amendment to his amendment is not in order, because it is not within the subjectmatter of the ! JB i 1 1 . It is not for me to decide what the object of Senator Stewart is. He may wish that the money to be expended for that or any other purpose shall be taken, out of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which is now handed back to the States. It is not my duty to interpret his object. I can only take into consideration the words of his amendment. If it is not in order, I fail to see how the following words of Senator Drake’s proposed new clause are in order: - and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.
Senator Stewart proposes to provide that it may be expended for a national scheme of old-age pensions. I think that the subjectmatter of the Bill, while it contemplates the appropriation of the revenue derived from special duties, may be held to contemplate the expenditure of that revenue, and that is why I ruled the amendment of Senator Stewart in order.
– I recognise that the point of order has been very clearly put by the Chairman of Committees. No objection has been taken to mv amendment on the ground that it is out of order. We are dealing with a Bill which has to do with the appropriation of the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise. It proposes to amend the Constitution in such a way as to make that revenue subject to a different law from that which governs the revenue now derived from duties of Customs and Excise. At the present time the Commonwealth has power to raise revenue from such duties to any extent, provided that three-fourths of it shall be given back to the States in which it has been collected. The Bill deals with a different subject, and that is the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise which are not to be subject. to that provision. My amendment, which I submit is strictly in order, simply proposes to put clause 2 of the Bill into a different form. It deals with the revenue to be derived from special duties of Customs and Excise to be imposed for and devoted to a special purpose.. But Senator Stewart, by . his amendment, wishes to alter the law in regard to the treatment of the revenue from ordinary duties of Customs and Excise. He proposes that in future the whole or any part of the Customs and Excise revenues raised may be devoted to the payment of old-age pensions. So far as his amendment would have any effect, it would take the revenue derived from Customs and Excise out of the operation of section 87 of the Constitution. The objection that I have to it is that this .Bill deals with special duties of Customs and Excise, and that we cannot in a Bill of that nature, the second reading of which has been passed, introduce an amendment in Committee which deals with ordinary duties of Customs and Excise.
– I think that the point urged by Senator Drake is sound. The Bill before us is one to alter the Constitution, so as to empower the Federal Parliament to raise special duties of Customs for a special purpose. We have not that power now. We can raise duties through the Customs, but we are limited by the Constitution as to how we shall use them. One-fourth of the revenue may be devoted to the services of the Commonwealth, and at least three-fourths must, under the Constitution, for a certain period, be returned to the States. Senator Stewart’s amendment, instead of providing for dealing with special duties, which is the object of the Bill, seeks to divert the ordinary duties into another channel. That appears to me to be outside the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, cannot be accepted as an amendment.
– I should like to put the facts of the present case as I under- stand them. The Bill has been introduced for a definite object - the appropriation of special duties of Customs and Excise for purposes that are left undefined. The amendment of Senator Drake would also have the effect of appropriating special duties for special purposes. But the effect of Senator Stewart’s amendment is that, instead of appropriating special duties for an indefinite purpose, there shall be an appropriation from the general threefourths of Customs and Excise revenue for n special purpose.
– Is that the effect of Senator Stewart’s amendment?
– I think so. It is intended to make the Bill one for an appropriation from a general fund of certain moneys for a special purpose.
– You may be asked, sir - though not by rae - whether it is within our power to appropriate even special duties for a special purpose, seeing that no special purpose is indicated in the Bill. But certainly Senator Stewart is practically trying to put in a proviso which would appropriate from the general revenue money for a special purpose.
– I should like to point out how the amendment proposed by Senator Stewart may be contrasted with the amendment proposed by Senator Drake. First of all, we have to remember tEat section 87 of the Constitution for a period of ten years makes the revenue derived from Customs and Excise subject to division as between Commonwealth and State. If we call the existing duties “ present duties,” and the duties’ hereafter to be imposed, and which are not at present imposed, “ future duties,” the object of the Bill may be summed up as follows: - So far as “present duties” are concerned, the Bill does not alter the effect of section 87. So far as “ future duties ‘ ‘ are concerned, the Bill provides that for special purposes section 87 shall not apply. Senator Stewart’s proposal is that, so far as present duties are concerned, Parliament may .appropriate them for a specific purpose. The two amendments are in direct contrast. The one is the converse of the other. That. I think, must be admitted, if we bear in mind the difference between future duties and present duties. Present duties the Bill does not propose, in any way, to affect. Nor does Senator Drake’s amendment. But Senator Stewart’s amendment does. It says that, if Parliament decides upon appropriating revenue derived from present duties to specific purposes to that extent, section 87 shall not apply.
– Perhaps I may be pardoped for presenting the issue in a fresh form. As the Constitution now stands, under section 87, of every £100 of Customs and Excise duties raised, ^75 have1 to be returned to the States. The purpose of this Bill is not in any way to touch that ^100, or its apportionment. It is to raise a sum of money in excess of the ^100, and it indicates how that excess, when raised, is to be applied. Senator Stewart now proposes, not an amendment pertaining to the excess amount to be raised under the Bill, but to alter the proportionate distribution of the £100 raised by ordinary Customs and Excise duties. That proposal seems to me to be entirely outside the scope of the Bill. In other words, the Bill proposes to raise fresh revenue, and to appropriate it in a fresh way, whereas Senator Stewart proposes merely to appropriate revenue already being raised. There is a sharp distinction between the Bill and the amendment.
-This is a Bill, not to impose duties on any particular article, nor to appropriate the amount so raised for any particular purpose. The subjectmatter is very clearly enunciated in the amendment of Senator Drake. That amendment is this -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may, for a special purpose, impose duties of Customs or Excise upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, and may expend for such special purpose the whole of the amount so raised.
Senator Stewart has moved an amendment which seems to me to negative the whole principle of the Bill. It is a direct negation of its object and subject-matter. I think we should be particularly careful in Bills effecting amendments of the Constitution, to see that all the amendments made are in strict accord with the provisions and subject-matter of the Bill in question, as read a second time. Therefore, I rule that the amendment proposed by Senator Stewart is not in order. I am sorry to differ from the opinion of the Chairman of Committees, but, in this case, my duty seems to me to be quite clear, and the point at issue is. clear.
In Committee -
– Before Senator Stewart had submitted his amendment, I had signified my intention to move an amendment upon Senator Drake’s proposed new clause, with the object of limiting the special purposes to be covered by it. I had proposed to insert my amendment towards the end of Senator Drake’s clause. But, in looking over it again, T think that the amendment would be more suitable if inserted in the earlier portion of it. I therefore ask the support of the Committee in attempting to eliminate the words “ a special purpose, “ with a view to insert the words, “ The purpose of providing a fund for the payment of old-age pensions.” If my amendment is adopted, Senator Drake’s new clause will read as follows : -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth may for the purpose of providing a fund for the payment of old-age pensions impose duties of Customs or Excise upon goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the 1st clay of January, 1907, and may expend for such purpose the whole amount so raised.
– If some other special purpose were suggested in a year or two we should have to make another amendment of the Constitution.
– Exactly. I am pleased that the purpose of mv amendment has been so readily grasped. The Government is appealing to our humanity to make this amendment of the Constitution on the plea that it is for the purpose of paying old-age pensions. It is intended to put it before the electors and to appeal to them on that ground. We have no right to appeal to the best instincts of the people of this country - to appeal to their hearts - to do something when the Government leaves itself in the position after it has secured authority to use it for an entirely different purpose. As the Government has asked us to pass this Bill for the purpose of providing a fund for old-age pensions, I want to provide that thev use it for that purpose, and not for something else. My amendment leaves it open for them to carry out their good intention. If- they desire to use the Bill for any other purpose, they ought to say so. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ a special purpose “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the purpose of providing a fund for the payment of old-age pensions.”
– I am going to vote against the amendment of Senator Millen, against the original amendment of Senator Drake, and against the whole Bill. The position put by Senator Millen in regard to the intention of the Government is absolutely correct. The Government desire to appeal to the humane and sympathetic feelings of the electors, in order to carry an amendment of the Constitution which, otherwise, they would not dare to propose. On the second reading, I think I showed conclusively that, if we were really’ in earnest about old-age pensions, no amendment of the Constitution would be necessary - that all we should require is courage to take the means ready at hand* and provide pensions straight away. The Government proposal, although it may appear on the surface to be humane, is the very opposite. The Government profess to be anxious to minimize the want and suffering of our aged poor, whereas their proposals will have the “effect of taking the bread out of the mouths of the little children of the poorer classes. The proposal is to impose duties on necessaries of life, for which there are no substitutes in the back country.
– And which have to be heavily paid for now.
– That is so. As I pointed out on the second reading, a working man with a wife and two children, and a wage of £2 a week, contributes £8 per annum to the revenue; in other words, he has to contribute four weeks’ work as his share of the cost of government.
– That is, if he is in continuous work.
– Even if the man is not in continuous work, he has to contribute the same amount. The wealthy man is not called upon to contribute anything like an equal proportion, and even if he were, he, unlike the poor man. is not deprived of a single necessary of life. I strongly object to the poor man being unduly taxed, and his poor innocent little children being deprived of the necessaries of life, in order to provide a scheme of old-age pensions. The scheme presented to us is an abortion, and should not be tolerated for one moment by the Committee. If there is one source of taxation more than another to which the Government should go for the purpose of providing funds for old-age pensions, it is the lands of Australia. The labours of our old pioneers and explorers, and the population which followed, has given the added value to our land, and created avenues of employment in all directions. Old-age pensions should not depend on any special tax, but should be provided out of the Consolidated Revenue, just as is other expenditure undertaken by the Government. A special tax and special fund will accentuate the idea that an oldage pension is a charity, whereas they should be a charge on the State to which the recipients are entitled, because of the value they have been to the State during their years of active life. In addition to creating a tinge of charity, and consequent soreness amongst the recipients, a special tax and special fund will create a feeling of resentment in the minds of those who have to pay the special tax. This resentment will give rise to a desire to get rid of the burden, and the only way will be to get rid of the special purpose.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the people who receive the ola-age pensions will pay the tax ?
– If the greater portion pf the people pay the tax there will be an almighty force created against a most worthy object. I contend that the position cannot fairly be put before the people by means of this Bill, because it presents an alternative which really does not exist. Practically we shall say to the people - “ You cannot have old-age pensions unless you agree to this tax ‘ ‘ ; and that is not a fair statement of the case.
– If the people agree to give the power to the Government, does the honorable member suggest that they will go back on their word immediately afterwards ?
– Very probably they will, when they see the effect of the tax. There have been such instances even in recent history; and we should do nothing which will tend to create such a feeling as I have indicated.
– I do not think such a feeling will be created.
– Does the honorable senator say that it is wise to make old-age pensions a special charge under a special tax?
– The Bill seems to me to be an effort in the direction of old- age pensions for which we have been waiting for many years.
– Yes, and we have to obtain old-age pensions by a subversion of the principles which we have held for an equal number of years.
– If the honorable senator can get sufficient support to enable direct taxation to be imposed for this purpose I am with him.
– We shall never accomplish reforms if we are frightened by difficulties, or if we weakly palter with our principles. Nothing will drive us into direct taxation but stern necessity. Indirect taxation is the most unjust, wasteful, and extravagant method of raising revenue. Even those who favour indirect taxation know the truth of my words ; but they also know that it is the only way in which the people can be robbed while they are asleep, and the burden shifted on to the shoulders of the poorer people. No vote of mine shall be cast in favour of maintaining the present undue burden of taxation, and certainly not in favour of adding to that burden as the Bill proposes.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [12.10]. - I am entirely^ in favour of the amendment. As I indicated, in the plainest manner, on the second reading, if this Bill is not to be restricted to old-age pensions, I shall vote against the third reading. The Bill, as it stands, makes it possible to impose duties on articles which are not now subject to duties, and to use the funds so raised for any purpose under heaven. I feel so strongly in the matter that if the amendment is not carried I shall, as I say, deem it my duty ‘to vote against the third reading. The Bill opens the door to the widest breach of the Braddon section, which was so lengthily fought in the Federal Convention, and which was specially designed to protect the revenues of the States. At the same time, it imposes no obligation to inaugurate an old-age pensions scheme. The funds raised might be used for a desert railway, the exploitation of the Northern Territory, or any other purpose.
– For a bush capital
– I should strongly object to funds raised under this Bill being used for any such purpose. The only excuse for the measure is the need of the aged poor.
– This is a debatable subject, and when the Government were discussing the Bill, which has for its object the provision of old-age pensions, it may be imagined that the question of whether that object should be clearly set forth came under discussion. After much consideration, however, the Government decided that it would be inadvisable to tie the hands of future Parliaments as to how the money so raised should be applied. There are circumstances which can be conceived as possible, if not probable, under which it might be desirable to raise special funds, say, for purposes of defence.
– During the next three years ?
– The Government, therefore, decided to leave Parlialiament with a free hand j and that is the reason the Bill appears in its present shape.
– I am prepared to support the amendment as originally proposed, but I am opposed to Senator Millen’s amendment. In altering the Constitution, we should take all reasonable powers. This is simply a permissive Bill. It proposes to permit us to raise revenue in a special way for a special purpose. We have in mind now one special purpose for which, according to the present feeling of Parliament, it is desirable to raise revenue in this special way. But there might easily arise some other equally laudable special purpose for which it would bc well that we should have this special power without the necessity of having recourse again to an amendment of the Constitution.
– At some future period.
– Yes. It is in accordance with the well-known and wise business rule of corporations to take all possible necessary power. It does not follow that these powers will be exercised. Some honorable senators speak as though it were here proposed to take a power which must necessarily be immediately abused. The powers proposed to be provided for by this Bill can be exercised only after all the forms of Parliament are applied to them by means of a specific Act. For this reason, I believe, that while we are amending the Constitution in this way, it is as well that we should take as wide powers as possible. Senator Givens contends that a,nv form of Customs taxation for this purpose is objectionable. I am with the honorable senator and against him. I think that the principle he affirms is- sound to the last degree - that where practicable direct taxation is the most equitable and wise form of taxation to adopt. But we have to consider that we are to-day confronted with the necessity of relieving a large number of extremely deserving citizens, and that at present we have not the power to relieve them.
– We have.
– We should have, if we were agreed. But we are not agreed, and therefore we have not the power. The honorable senator has pointed out that Customs taxation is believed, generally speaking, to be the least open to objection, because, to use his own language, it is a means by which we can rob people whilst thev are asleep. It is, however, the most cumbersome and inequitable method of taxation which we can conceive. Senator Turley has said that the doctrine of expediency always lands those who follow it in the bog. I remind the honorable senator that civilization has reached its present stage only by the continual application of the doctrine of expediency. We are now faced with the necessity of adopting an (expedient. We have to decide whether we shall adopt the most expeditious means of raising revenue in order t» meet the requirements of old and necessitous persons, or whether we shall stand by sound principles in fiscal matters, and determine that taxation shall be direct, though these necessitous persons may remain unrelieved.
– The honorable senator means that the stronger party should weakly subvert its principles in order t» effect a compromise with the weaker party
-If I thought that the stronger party were the party prepared now to adopt direct taxation to his end; I would be with Senator Givens ; but I am confident that it is not the stronger party, and that the means bv which we can most readily attain our object is the means provided for in this Bill. I vote for the measure because I think that object ought to be achieved at the earliest possible moment, and that the reproach ought to be removed from the Australian’ people that, walking about on this Continent, there is a, considerable number of poor and aged men and women, who came here years ago, and underwent tremendous hardships to make the country as comfortable as it is for us to-day, and that, whilst they are in a necessitous condition, and unable to provide for themselves, we will not do what we might to provide for them.
– I listened attentively to Senator Trenwith and it seems to me that, whilst he has argued entirely in favour of the amendment, he does not propose to vote for it.
– I am in favour of old-age pensions being provided for in the way proposed, but I am not in favour of limiting the Bill to that purpose.
– The honorable senator’s speech went to show the dire necessity of at once introducing some system to provide old-age pensions, and yet apparently he is prepared to risk that by refusing to accept the amendment.
– I do not object to Senator Drake’s amendment.
– I am speaking of Senator Millen’s amendment to fix the purpose of the measure.
– To limit it.
– Yes, to the object which Senator Trenwith has in view. The honorable senator should accept the amendment, because it will certainly improve the chance of the Bill becoming law. I cannot understand the honorable senator stating that he is going to oppose the amendment after giving the strongest possible reasons why it should be accepted. If I could bring myself to believe that the principle of having special duties ear-marked for special purposes was a good one, I should say that in amending the Constitution in the way proposed we should make the amendment as wide as possible, so as to take in all special purposes. But I hold the absolutely contrary opinion. I think the principle is a bad one, and that nothing could possibly have commended it to the members of the Committee if this measure had not been put forward as a possible reason for providing old-age pensions. Whilst ] I do not in the slightest degree retract my contention that the Bill 1 is wholly bad, I am prepared to vote for the amendment, because it seems to me that it supplies the only justification which honorable senators have for passing the measure. Whilst I object in toto to the ear-marking of any fund for any sspecial purpose derived in the way proposed, I wish to give the Committee a reason why, if there be any justification for the measure it is to be found in the purpose for which the Bill has admittedly been brought forward. We know that the payment of old-age pensions would be a form of expenditure absolutely fair for the whole Commonwealth, and it would relieve some of the States of expenditure which they are now incurring. It seems to me that we could not have money expended on a more worthy or desirable object, but possibly I could not say the same if the proposal were to spend this money on scene other special purpose. It is not difficult to imagine the introduction of a measure applying special duties of Customs and Excise for a specific purpose which would not commend itself to honorable senators.
– Then Parliament would not pass the Bill.
– It might not; but, seeing that our Constitution is a contract between the States, we should not leave too many loopholes which would enable Parliament by means of a mere casual majority to pass measures which we would consider unfair to the States. I have raised the question as to the way in which these ques 1 tions are to be submitted to the people. I find in a Bill, which perhaps I should not refer to, the form of the writ to be issued directing a referendum to be taken on any. question. It is laid down that the writ must contain a copy of the proposed law or a statement with regard to it. Who is to be responsible for the issue of the writ? Are we to have a writ issued for the taking of a referendum on this Bill with a statement as to what the object of it is ? If so. I have no doubt that the statement will be that it is intended to raise a fund for old age pensions. That, it seems to me, would, be a most improper course to adopt. I hold that if the purpose of this measure is to provide a fund for old-age pensions we should put that in the Bill. Senator Mil Jen’s amendment suggests a clear-cut pro position that if the people would consent to the raising of special duties of Customs under the provisions of the Bill all the. money rraised in that way should be devoted to the payment of old-age pensions and to no other purpose whatever. Honorable senators are agreed that the only justification for the Bill is that it is to provide a fund for old-age pensions. Then why nnot say so? Why lleave a loophole in the future for this pernicious practice of raising special funds for special purposes when we know that the money might be used for a purpose which, at the present time at any rate, the Senate would not approve?
– I am still unfavorable to the vicious system of raising taxation by means of special duties, and ear-marking it. But, in this instance, I believe in the amendment, because I think that the only justification for the Bill is to ear-mark the revenue derived from the special duties for the purpose of paying old-age pensions. The reason why I spent so much time yesterday in calling attention to various schemes was because in the report of the Royal Commission, the utterances of public men, and in the press, I see_no indication that any one understands - although, of course, every one does - that any but the Australian method of giving a pension of 10s. to each old-age pensioner is to be adopted. I desire to move an amendment. But it would save trouble if Senator Millen would ask leave to insert in his amendment after the word “ providing “ the words “or subsidizing” a fund, because I do not want any words in the Bill, which would be likely to prevent the best scheme from being adopted. I might “feel safe, however, if the provision contained the words “creating or establishing.”
– I do not see any serious objection to the amendment of Senator Millen, which, I think, the Government would do well to accept. It has been urged that the power sought by the Government might be used for any purpose to which the Constitution would permit the Parliament to apply the money to be raised by special duties. There is a great deal of reason in the contention. If the object of the Bill is to provide a fund for the purpose of relieving the deserving poor by the granting of . old-age pensions, why should it not be made absolutely clear? That, I think, is all that the amendment proposes to do. Of course, if any Government proposed to apply the revenue from this source to any other purpose, their tenure of office would not be worth five minutes purchase. Surely it will be much easier for us to explain the purpose of the measure to the electors if it be printed on its face. I do not ask the Government to accept the amendment with the object of defeating the measure, because I have no sympathy with the tactics of Senator Givens.
– We should be careful not to confuse the reference of the proposal to the electors, and its effect if adopted. Senator de Largie has given a good reason why the amendment might be accepted, and that is, that it would explain the object of the Bill to the electors. But that is not the whole meaning of the proposal. If it were accepted, it would remain in the Constitution until it was struck out, and occasions might arise when it would be justifiable to devote a portion of the money to other purposes. Of course, that could only be done by an Act of Parliament. But if the proposed restriction were inserted in the section of the Constitution, the Parliament would not have the control of the money in its hands. The amendment is also open to the objection that it would establish in Australia the poor rate system- of the old country. The proposed duties are “special duties,” not so much in the use of the revenue to be derived therefrom as in its distribution. We all recognise that the object which has prompted the Government to bring in the Bill has been to establish a system of old-age pensions. The accomplishment of that desire is a very different thing from putting a provision to that effect in the Constitution for all time, unless the Parliament otherwise provided. If I could get any support, I should divide the Committee, because I am strongly opposed to the ear-marking of a tax for a special purpose. We recognise that the inauguration of a scheme of old-age pensions would cause a deficit in the revenue of the Commonwealth. The imposition of special taxation is necessary, but the Parliament is not prepared to impose direct taxation sufficient to finance a scheme of old-age pensions. Therefore the only alternative is to impose indirect taxation. Under section 87 as it stands we should be obliged to raise three times as much revenue by indirect taxation as would be required. Therefore, a special provision is submitted to meet that special case, and in order that the intention may be clearly indicated, it is provided that the term “ special duties “ refers to the duties on articles which were not dutiable prior to January, 1907. For what purpose are the special duties to be levied? To make up the deficit which would be caused in the accounts.
– For a purpose which has to be specially named.
– No, “for a special purpose.”
– The duties would be imposed for a specific purpose.
– I contend that the revenue derived from the special duties would go into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and would not be ear-marked.
– The amendment of Senator Drake says that it shall be earmarked.
– No, it only says that the Parliament may, for a special purpose, impose special duties of Customs and Excise upon certain goods.
– Must not a special account be kept ?
– No. The special purpose for which the Government are seeking power to impose special duties is to make up the deficit in the revenue which would be caused by the adoption of a scheme of old-age pensions.
– The Minister has just said that the money might be used for defence purposes.
– No. What I said was that the other purposes for which we might want this power might include defence.
– It would always be for the Parliament to determine how the money was to be expended, and that is the safeguard which the people would have against an improper use of it.
– The further the debate proceeds the more tangling the whole business seems to become. The amendment of Senator Millen has put the Government “to the touch.” It is thereby invited to declare the special purpose for which special duties are to be imposed. But the Government refused to do so. Senator Playford tells us that that aspect of the question has been considered by the Government, and that it was decided to leave the whole matter open. So that, under the guise of raising sufficient money to defray the cost of an old-age pensions scheme, the Government is really asking for a large addition to its present revenue from Customs. The Government wants power to add largely to the indirect taxation for purposes which it refuses to define. I am astonished that any honorable senator should even dream of assisting in such a pernicious project. This proposal sweeps away every one of our ideas regarding taxation. We are not told what articles the Government wishes to tax. It gives us no information. It does not say how the money is to be spent.
It merely says, “ Give us carte blanche, and trust to our honesty.” I am not inclined to do anything of the kind. If the Government proposes such an extraordinarydeparture from the ordinary procedure as to levy special duties for a special purpose, I want to know something about it. If we are asked to open our mouths, shut our eyes, and swallow whatever Providence may send us, I hope honorable senators will not be so foolish, as to consent. I do not like Senator Millen’s amendment. I am absolutely opposed to the idea of earmarking revenue for any particular purpose. This plan revives the taxation methods of the Middle Ages. It brings us back to the time when “the people of Great Britain had the crudest ideas possible with regard to taxation, and how the government of the country should be conducted. But if the Ministry insists on thrusting its measures down my throat, I want it definitely stated in the Bill for what purpose it is to be passed. When I am driven into a corner and compelled “to accept the proposal to levy special duties, I am well within my rights in insisting upon the object for which those duties are to be levied being specified in the measure. Much, against my will, therefore, I intend to vote for Senator Millen’s amendment. Let us here and now put in the Bill what the purpose of the special duties is. Then when we go before the electors we shall have something definite to tell them. Let us pin the Government down, to an old-age pensions scheme in the Bill itself. If the Government refuses to agree to the amendment, what conclusion can I draw? Indeed, Senator Playford has told us in so many words that the Government may wish to draw upon this fund for other purposes than old-age pensions. But for the bait of old-age pensions being dangled before their eyes, but for this bunch of carrots being held out before them-
– Who are the donkeys ?
– I should not like to say, but if the honorable senator feels that his ears are fairly long he may draw his own conclusion. I am sure of this - that were not this old-age pensions scheme held out to honorable senators as a bait, nine-tenths of those who are supporting the Bill would scout it and toss it out of the Senate with the slightest consideration. We have no guarantee that if Parliament .grants this power of levying additional taxation the money will be used for old-age pensions purposes. It may be wanted for penny postage or for any of a dozen schemes, of which we have not even heard. The proposal amounts to a gross breach of the compact entered into between the States on the establishment of Federation, and before we agree to it we ought to have the most absolute assurances from the Government: I have been a fairly constant supporter of theirs, and confess that I would rather support them than oppose them. But I owe a duty to my constituents, and I have my own self-respect to maintain. I intend to vote for the amendment, because if the Bill must pass I had rather that ‘it passed with the amendment embodied in it; but in any case I shall vote against the third reading of the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 3.25 p.m.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [3.25]. - I move -
That this Senate records its regret that no definite action has been taken during the present session to give effect to the provision of the Commonwealth Constitution relating to the Federal Capital.
I do not know that I should have taken advantage of the time devoted to private members’ business this afternoon in order to bring this matter forward, had it not appeared, from the answer given by the Minister of Defence the other day, that no progress has been, or is being, made this session towards the determination of the question of the Federal Capital Site. If it will be any relief to the minds of honorable senators, I may say at once that I do not propose, in the few remarks I have to make, to say anything that can be regarded as a reflection on the Federal Parliament or the Federal Ministry. That, however, does not prevent me from asking the Senate to record its regret that nothing has been done during the present session to definitely settle this serious and important matter.
The proposal was negatived by both Houses of the State Parliament. It was the negativing of that proposal of the New South Wales Premier that has, to use a colloquial expression, “upset the apple-cart.” The Federal Parliament selected a site, and the New South Wales Parliament have refused to grant that site. If there is a complaint or grievance against any one, it is to be found rather in this, that the Federal Government - and I think more than one has been in office during the time - has, if not exactly quiescent, nevertheless shown an amount of ineptitude in not forcing this issue to a settlement. Either the Federal Government, acting on behalf of the Federal Parliament, has a right to force the hand of New South Wales or it has not. By its quiescence it appears to have recognised that it was unable to do anything, and must wait the pleasure of the Parliament sitting in Macquarie-street, Sydnev. From the end of 1904 to the present time the Federal Government has been quiescent, at least in so far as any actual outcome of negotiations is concerned. I do not hold that the Federal Government, whether that of Mr. Deakin, Mr. Reid, or any other, is wholly and solely to blame in this matter. The facts I am prepared to submit will show very clearly that a large measure of responsibility rests on the New South Wales Government and Parliament. As an old member of that Parliament, I am speaking against what was at one time my political nest, but as that Parliament has evinced a verv warlike spirit towards the Federal Parliament I thin’k,the time has surely come when without heat or feeling the Federal Parliament should put forward its views in opposition to the rather rancorous attack that was made upon us some time back in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and, to some extent, also in the Legislative Council of that State. The facts are these: The Ministry, of which Sir John See, then Mr. See, was Premier, offered the Dalgety site, as well as some seventeen or eighteen other sites, to the
Federal Government. That was in the early days of the Commonwealth. Then, while this Parliament was actually considering and determining in 1904 in favour of the Dalgety site, the New South Wales Government, of Mr. Thomas’ Waddell, by proclamation in the Government Gazette of the State, deliberately reserved all lands in the neighbourhood of Dalgety for the purpose of the Federal Capital. That was a practical repetition of the offer of Dalgety. Then, as I have already said, at the end of 1904, the State Ministry, headed by Mr. Carruthers, invited the State Parliament to offer the Dalgety site to the Commonwealth as one of four from which we might make a selection. I think that no complaint can be made against the Federal Parliament for selecting Dalgety, although I was one who preferred Lyndhurst, as being more centrally situated, particularly in view of the future development of population in Australia. However, upon the negativing of the motion proposed by Mr. ‘Carruthers, offering Dalgety to the Commonwealth, we had Mr. Carruthers coming along a year afterwards, and, metaphorically, “ raising Cain “ because we had selected Dalgety. That happened a! the end of last year. Later still, we have had a number of interesting localities suggested as suitable sites until the issue has become so confused that I suppose there are few members of either Chamber who have any definite idea of what the Government and Parliament of New South Wales really desire in the matter. We had an interesting incident the other day, when the New South Wales Government provided funds to enable members of the Federal Parliament to visit the site of Dalgety, which] the New South Wales Parliament had refused to grant. But there were no funds forthcoming to enable honorable members.of this Parliament to visit the site that the New South Wales Parliament had’ offered. I mav be accused of speaking against my own State to some extent, but I am a member of the Federal Parliament, and when I. think that all the blame should not rest on one set of shoulders, I have as much right to point out where I think the blame, or some portion of it, should rest, as to hold my peace, and profess that I do not understand. Whilst I have said this on one side, per contra I regret that the present Federal Government have not taken
Steps have already been taken to cope with the difficult matter of selecting the Federal territory within which the capital of the Commonwealth is to be built, and in this task no longer time will be occupied than is necessary for the exercise of a good judgment in the choice of an area which it is hoped will be of a size ample for all public requirements, and of which the climate, accessibility, and natural beauty will give promise of a Seat of Government worthy of the new nation.
Could anything be more beautiful than that? It reads like a paragraph from a fairy tale, and, unfortunately, it proved to be a fairy tale. That is what we had from the first Ministry. Then came along another Ministry ; I do not know which - but either a Deakin or a Barton Ministry - and they presented a speech in October, 1903. They were a little more reticent, and not quite so flowery -
An early opportunity will be afforded you of considering the report of the experts who were intrusted with the duty of examining the conditions of several areas within which it had been proposed that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth should be placed. My Advisers expect that the information which has been collected on this subject will enable you to come to a satisfactory conclusion.
If “When?” with a mark of interrogation, had been added, we could better have appreciated the paragraph than we are now able to do. A little more time passed, and we had more fairy tales fired at us by the representatives of the Crown. In March, 1904, this statement appeared in the Governor- General’s speech -
The selection of a site for the Federal Capital was considerably advanced by the dis-
Who has ever heard of the carrying out of that contour survey ? I think I am justified in saying that it has not taken place. It was only ordered. It is like the case of the man who ordered a steak at the restaurant, and did not get it : he got something else- and is in progress in the Tumut and Bombala districts. An early and final settlement of this question is very necessary.
That was the opinion of the Government two years ago. However, time passed, and so do vice-regal speeches. .On the 31st December, 1905, when the members of the Parliament were being released from their duties, a paragraph on this subject was addressed to the House of Representatives only. It is the old story. The Senate is regarded by Ministries as a sort of sawhorse, off which they can cut certain chunks of legislation, but they take every opportunity - at the opening ari3 the closing of the Parliament - to restrict our sphere of action, and ignore our position in the Constitution Until they learn a little more sense in that regard, they will not get many more chunks, if I can prevent it -
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
Unfortunately the definition of the territory of the Seat of Government has not been completed, but it is hoped that the pressing question involved, which has been the subject of prolonged inquiries and exhaustive debates for several years, will be determined by this Parliament.
Like the countryman with the claret, we do not seem to get any. “ forrader. “ Them we come to the beginning of this session, when a few interesting words were addressed to the Parliament. Each time the paragraph on the subject gets shorter. On that occasion it was cut down to one line and twothirds. Poor old Federal Capital ! From all the flowery phraseology of the first Bartonian deliverance down to the oratorical possibilities of Mr. Alfred Deakin we have got down. to this brief statement -
The proposal to more definitely determine the territory for the purpose of the Seat of Government will be submitted to Parliament for final consideration.
Only two days ago the Minister of Defence told me across the table that there is no time to do anything. The next paragraph in this speech - .and this, by the way, seems the first speech in which the paragraphs have been numbered - deals with what the Age is pleased to call the “ desert railway.” Except in the matter of fifteen letters, the latter occupies as much space in the speech as does the Federal Capital. I admit the importance of the transcontinental railway, and if some of those who have the project very much at heart had displayed as much, interest as I have done very likely the Bill would have passed. The point I desire to bring before the Parliament is that a couple of years ago it certainly did select a site. The State Parliament said, “ No, we shall not give you that site.” The Federal Government then started negotiations with the State Government to arrive at a decision, and I now ask the Senate to record an expression of regret that a provision of the Constitution has not been complied with. I do not think that when a member of the Chamber puts forward such a proposition he can be said to be injuring the feelings of any one. He is merely offering an expression of regret that a much vexed and much negotiated question has not been brought to a final issue in, accordance with many vice-regal speeches. I do not blame the Parliament at all, because since we selected a site we have not had an opportunity to correct any misapprehension or difficulty. I take it that a proposition for settling the position of the Federal Capital is one which must come from a Minister, and cannot appropriately come from a private senator. That I do not hold the Federal Government wholly to blame is shown by what I have said. I suppose I have gone as far as any honorable senator has ever (jone in reference to remarks adverse to the doings of the Premier or the Parliament of his State. I go further, and say, as I .have said over my signature in the Sydney press, particularly in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, that in propounding a list of new sites - some of them so absolutely out of the way that there was not even a road to them - the Premier of New South Wales has distinctly tended to delay the settlement of this question. I therefore cannot be supposed to be passing strictures upon the Federal Parliament, especially upon the Senate; nor will the Ministers opposite, I am sure, deem my remarks in any way ungenerous to them. I recognise that there has been a lack somewhere. There has been delay created by the submission of unnecessarily numerous sites. If we are to go on year by vear coming across Barren Jack schemes, we can go on for ever, because New South Wales contains a sufficiency of sites for the Federal Capital that practically there would never be an end to the proceeding. From what I have read in the press, I have gathered that some questions have been asked in another place. We have been told that, as certain negotiations are or have been proceeding about the Federal Capital, the Ministry do not seem disposed to disclose the position of affairs. I hope that the Minister of Defence, when he replies, as I am sure he will-
Senate. There are other matters to be discussed. I have submitted a motion containing an expression of regret that in this, the final session of the second Parliament of the Commonwealth, the question, has not been settled. That is all that I ask the Senate to affirm.
– I beg to second the motion. I should like to point out, in doing so, that if there is a grievance on the part of those who desire to see some action taken, it arises entirely from the assurance of the Government, embodied in the GovernorGeneral’s speech at the commencement of the session, that an opportunity would be given for revising the decision previously arrived at. If it is said, as it has been to-day, that a decision has been arrived at, and that therefore .there is nothing more to be done, I reply that that position would have been intelligible, and one could have understood it but for the action of the Government. A decision was arrived at by the Federal Parliament for what it is .worth. But the Government embodied an assurance in the Governor-General’s speech at the commencement of the present session that an opportunity would be afforded for Parliament to reconsider that decision.
The complaint of my; honorable friend, Senator Neild, is that that promise has not been redeemed. I am not going to enter into the merits of the matter. 1 do not intend to say where I think the Capital ought to be. I am not going to say, even, that a case has been made out for reopening it. But the Government itself, having voluntarily given a promise to the country that an opportunity would be afforded of further considering the matter, ought either to redeem that pledge or to offer some’ substantial reason for departing from it. That is the whole charge which I understand Senator Neild makes, and which I am prepared to indorse. If we are to adhere to the decision previously arrived at, the Government ought not to have embodied the paragraph referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s speech. But, having done so, it practically told New South Wales that further action would be taken. Does the Government intend to redeem that pledge, or does it not?
– Does the honorable senator wish the matter to be finally settled?
– Strange as it may seem, I do. I can quite understand the position of my honorable friend. He says that Parliament has arrived at a. decision, and that he is not prepared to vary it. Senator Givens has expressed that opinion with a firmness which, if it were manifested by any one else, I should call by another term. But he is in a different position from the Government. He says, “ I helped to select Dalgety, and Dalgety it is going to be; notwithstanding the multiplicity of other sites suggested, I am goins to stand by that chosen by the Federal Parliament.” But the Government does not take up that position.
– Oh, yes.
– The Government voluntarily embodied a statement in the Governor-General’s speech, to the effect that the matter would be reconsidered. Surely that was an admission that, in the opinion of the Government, it had not been finally settled.
– I read it that an opportunity would be ‘given to Parliament to confirm its decision.
– If that decision was arrived at, and as Senator Givens would affirm, was irrevocable, there was no need to confirm it. I am not saying that the Government was right when it inserted that paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech. But I do say that, having put it in, New South Wales was practically informed that it was intended to reconsider the subject. Either the Government was honest when it made that promise or it was not. Was it inserted merely for the purpose of creating an impression in the minds of the New South Wales people that the Government would, honestly endeavour to reverse the decision, or was it a, mere empty placard with no honest intention behind it?
– The honorable senator should not get cross.
– I am not cross, but I am in a state of being grieved with the Government. Without expressing an opinion as to where the Capital ought to be, or whether the question ought to be reopened, I do say that as the Government made a promise it ought to be redeemed.
– I can to some extent agree with the mover of the motion when he says that the terms of it are very moderate. They are moderate in their appearance. But if the Senate were to pass the motion, I think it would be very properly construed bv .people outside, and more particularly by the people of New South Wales, as tantamount to a reflection upon the action, either of the Senate or of both branches of the Legislature or of the Government.
– Tantamount ?
– It seems to me that the object of the motion is neither more nor less than to cast a reflection on somebody for inaction in the matter, and that, notwithstanding the fact that Senator Neild, in moving the motion, stated that the blame was to some extent .distributable^
– That is so.
- Senator Neild himself admitted that possibly, and perhaps actually, the blame was not whollyattributable to Federal authorities.
– Hear, hear.
– If the Senatewere to accept the motion there could be only one interpretation placed upon it by members of the Legislature and others, namely, that it is a reflection on the inaction of the Federal Legislature and the Federal ‘Government in not having arrived at some definite conclusion.
– Why was this opportunity offered ?
– Speaking for myself personally, and not as a member of the Senate, I ‘ can say that I agree entirely with the terms of the motion. Nobody regrets - not even New South Wales representatives, in this or the other branch of the Legislature - more deeply than I do the fact that the Federal Capital Site has not yet been selected. I do not think there is any honorable senator, from New South Wales or elsewhere, who could say hat I have shirked my responsibilities or duties in this regard. It does not matter to me whether the Melbourne *Age or any other newspaper has called this “ The Bush Capital.” It does riot matter to me what designation the newspaper chose to fasten on any measure before Parliament - I personally, whether as Minister or private member, am not going to be moved out of the path which I consider to be correct. So far as this particular matter is concerned, I point out that the Federal Parliament in the past, after having had submitted to it by the various Governments of New South Wales, or, at any rate, one Government, a number of sites, which the Government of New South Wales put forward as available for selection, fixed finally on Dalgety. I am not for the moment certain, but I think I am correct in saying that Dalgety was one of the sites which the New South Wales Government submitted to the Federal Parliament for selection. After members of both Houses who chose to avail themselves of the opportunity had inspected the various sites, Dalgety was chosen, and, by a formal Act of this Parliament, was selected as the Federal Capital Site. Subsequent! v action was taken By the New South Wales Government. I think I can fairly and honestly say that, had it not been for the action taken by the Government of New South. Wales, subsequent to the adoption of Dalgety as the site, there would not have been the delay that is now complained of. So far as the promises made by the Federal Government in the speech read at the opening of this Parliament are concerned, I may say that they have formed the subject of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales. Honorable senators and members of another place are quite well aware that during the present session investigations have proceeded in connexion with the site submitted. Who submitted those sites for the consideration of the members of the Federal Parliament? The sites were submitted by the Government of New South Wales. Even at the present time there are other sites under submission to the Federal Government. I think I cannot do better than read the correspondence which recently passed between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of New South’ Wales. The first letter is as follows: -
Sydney, 14th September, 1906.
Sir, - With reference to the selection of a site for the Federal Capital, and to the correspondence which has passed between us relative thereto, I have the honour to inquire whether you propose submitting the question for the consideration of the Commonwealth Legislature, in accordance with the undertaking contained in your despatch of 6th Mav last, to His Excellency the Governor-General, wherein you stated that the matter would be brought before Parliament during the ensuing session, and that ever)’ effort would be made to arrive at a final determination thereon.
I understand that the subject has not been placed on the Parliamentary business paper, notwithstanding that the session is drawing to a close, and if the matter be not treated as urgent a settlement must inevitably be postponed until after another Parliament shall have been selected.
It is obvious, however, that members of the present Parliament, being in full possession of all the material facts bearing on the question, are in a position to give the matter the fullest consideration, more particularly as many senators and members of the House of Representatives have personally visited the various sites suggested.
I am heartily in accord in that regard with’ the opinions and view expressed by the Premier of New South Wales- -
The question being one of the greatest interest to the people of New South Wales, and to the people of the Commonwealth generally, I think you will agree that it would be highly desirable to give immediate effect to the provisions of the Constitution with regard to the selection of a Capital, as it must be admitted that such a protracted delay in arriving at a final settlement was never anticipated.
I never anticipated it -
I can quite understand the desire of your Government to deal with various matters of public importance during the limited time at the disposal of the present Parliament, but I would nevertheless urge that the capital question be submitted to the Federal Legislature in order that finality may be arrived at before yet another election intervenes.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
The Honorable the Prime Minister of the ‘Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne.
Inresponsetothat,the Prime Minister, on the 18th September, wrote as follows : -
Melbourne, 18th September, 1906.
Sir, - I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th September, on the subject of the Federal Capital Site, and to inform you, in reply, that it was the intention of the Government to arrive at a final determination in the matter, which would have been placed before Parliament some time ago, if it had not been that invitations were received from your Government for members to inspect other sites which had not previously been brought under notice. Until these inspections were completed, it would clearly have been premature to make any proposals to Parliament.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant, (Sgd.) Alfred Deakin.
The Honorable the Premier of New South Wales, Sydney.
That, I think, is a correct statement. The delay which has occurred has not been due to any desire on the part of the present Government of the Commonwealth, nor. to any inaction on the part of the Federal Parliament. Having that in mind, we should be very careful before we pass a resolution of the character proposed. As I said in my opening remarks, the motion is capable of only one kind of interpretationa reflection either on us”’ as a branch of the Legislature, or a, reflection on the whole of the Federal Parliament, or a reflection on the Commonwealth Government. I feel perfectly certain that any honorable senator, who is mindful of what has occurred, and who recognises the condition of things, must in fairness and justice, say that he cannot honestly pass such a vote of censure. If any honorable senator agrees to the motion, he must recognise that he is passing a vote of censure, either on one branch of the Legislature, on both branches, or on the Executive of the day. I, therefore, with confidence, ask honorable senators, after they have discussed the matter, to refrain from supporting SenatorNeild, who has so ably placed before us the case, from the point of view of New South Wales.
– - I listened with interest to the very temperate remarks of Senator Neild ; and I must say that I do not think that the Honorary Minister is entitled to take the motion, or those remarks, as a censure on the Government.
– I do not think that Senator Neild means either as a censure ; but that is the effect.
– I feel sure that Senator Neild does not mean itas a vote of censure, but is only anxious, as I think most of us are, to have this matter settled. With a view to assisting Senator Neild, I beg to move -
That there be added to the motion the following words : - “ and strongly urges the Government to take immediate steps to give effect to clause 2 of the Seat of Government Act of the 15th August, 1904, which decrees that the Federal Capital shall be within seventeen miles of Dalgety, in the State of New South Wales.
I did not support Dalgety in the first place, because I was in favour of Lyndhurst. But the majority of Parliament accepted Dalgety, and that decision was arrived at after a great deal of investigation by members of both Houses. Many thousands of pounds were spent by both the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government in getting information to enable parliamentary representatives to come to a decision. Representatives of Victoria have been blamed for trying to “chisel” New South Wales out of the Seat ofGovernment ; and members representing other States have also been blamed, because the Seat of Government has not yet been established. From conversations with members for the various States, I have come to the conclusion that they are all as ready as are the representatives of Queensland, to have this matter settled, and to get away from Melbourne as soon as possible. I do not for one moment suggest that we have been badly treated in Melbourne; on the contrary, we have been treated most handsomely. We have had placed at our disposal this building, which, I think, was erected at a cost of nearly ,£1,000,000, and it is certainly a for more palatial building than we can hope to have at the Federal Capital for years to come. I repeat that we have no reason to complain of the treatment we have received at the hands of the Victorian people. It is not because of our treatment that we desire to get away, but because we feel that New South Wales is entitled to have the Capital Site within its borders as soon as possible. We have arrived at a decision after an immense amount of labour on the part of special Commissions appointed ‘to collect data, and of trouble in the way of travelling and the reading of reports. We have arrived at a decision, and surely honorable senators will not stultify themselves by “going back” on the decision of the first Parliament? The matter was ;fresh in our minds when we arrived at the decision in 1904.
– That was really the decision of the House of Representatives.
– Let us come down with the positive facts in regard to the delay. That delay is caused by the fact that so many members representing New South Wales have divided opinions on the subject.
– Not verydivided.
– Very divided. Some of the representatives of New South Wales desire that) Lake George shall be selected, while others prefer Canberra, Lyndhurst, Tumut, or Dalgety. The representatives of the State are divided; and I believe that the people of New South Wales themselves are divided on the question. I doubt whether it would be possible for New South Wales to get anything like unanimity without a referendum i and even a referendum would not, I am afraid, give a proper decision, because the majority of the voters are in and around Sydney.
– It is for the Federal Parliament to decide.
– It is for the Federal Parliament to decide, and we should not surrender any of our powers in this connexion. Wc- have arrived at a decision ; and. although some of us might like to vote for another site, I think we should be making a great mistake if we re-opened the question. I agree,. Mr. President, with the view you took some years ago, when you wrote to the Premier of New South, Wales. and pointed out that the Federal Parliament, having arrived at a decision in 1904, would be stultifying itself if it reversed that decision.
– “Will the- honorable senator tell us about the area of 900 square miles ?
– The Federal Parliament has asked that the territory in which the Seat of Government shall be established shall comprise an area of 900 square miles. The people of New South Wales have a most erroneous impression as to what the Federal Parliament meant when they expressed their desire to obtain a territory of 900 square miles. The idea has been encouraged in New South Wales that we desired to rob that State. If the people understood the matter they -would realize that our object in selecting so large an area was the hope that the Seat of Government and the Federal Territory might be selfsupporting, and should not add to the burdens of the people of the State by compelling them to find large sums to meet the interest on the money that would be necessary to establish the Capital if the Federal Territory were not self-supporting. We had in view the idea of leasing the Territory in residential, agricultural, and other areas, and expected to be able to use the revenue derived from the rent of the land in paying interest on the amount which would be expended in the, building of the Capital.
– And we desired, also, to secure the water-shed.
– That is so; we wished to have control of the water supply, which was one of the chief features for which Dalgety was selected. Although we have not much time at our disposal, I hope we shall assure the Government and people of New South Wales that we are most anxious to have a commencement made with the establishment of the Federal Capital. There is no way in which we can achieve that end more quickly than by adhering to our first choice, that the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth should be within seventeen miles of the town of Dalgety, in New South Wales.
– - I propose to speak to both motion and amendment. Senator Neild did not intend exactly to blame the Government, but to give expression to our general feeling of regret that nothing has been done in this matter. I must admit, after hear- ing the correspondence read by the Minister, that the Government have apparently kept the matter in view, and it is not altogether their fault that it has not been further proceeded with. It is quite true that some years ago both Houses of the Federal Parliament gave an expression of opinion preferring Dalgety to any of the sites then submitted. Since that time, there have been several Capital Site hunting expeditions, and in this connexion, whatever people might say against him, there is one member of the Government, Sir William Lyne, to whom I could give a certificate as being one of the best men in charge of a picnic expedition -with whom I have had the pleasure to travel-. The catering, under his supervision, was excellent, and he endeavoured to promote kindly feeling amongst those who accompanied him. We hear that the Federal spirit is abroad, and our friends of the smaller States will, I trust, bear with me, as a representative of one of the largest States in the Commonwealth, when I say that we asked them to carry out the spirit of the Constitution in this matter. I have my preference for a particular site, but I am willing to submit to the wish of the majority when the time comes. However, I strongly object, on behalf of New South Wales, to any idea that it is necessary that the Commonwealth should have a Territory comprising 900 square miles. It appeared to me that certain honorable senators, in proposing to acquire a Territory of 900 square miles, had some idea of forming a socialistic State.
– I see nothing about the area of the Territory in the motion before the Senate.
– I think, sir, that you will see that the amendment refers to section 2 of the Seat of Government Act, and refers to the area of the Federal Territory, whilst in that Act there is mention of a territory 900 square miles in extent. I am aware that it is possible to put two different constructions upon section 125 of the Constitution, which says -
The Seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.
It must be ‘patent to every one that up to the present time no territory in New South Wales has been acquired by or granted to the Commonwealth. It is true that recently the Parliament of New South Wales offered three distinct sites to the Government of the Commonweath. The people of New South Wales recognise that the State Parliament had a right to make such an offer, and we, as representatives of the State, are glad to be able to support their offer. They offered a site at Tumut, at Yass, and another at Canberra, in the neighbourhood of Lake George.
– They offered, and are willing, to give any site but the one which the Commonwealth Parliament desires to have.
– Senator Symon has, to my knowledge, maintained that the Commonwealth Government cannot take a single foot of ground from New South Wales without the consent of that State, and if New South Wales is unwilling to give a site in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, that settles the matter.
– Have we not the right to make our own selection of a site?
– We have the right to select a site from “ land that has been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.”
– Then we cannot select a site?
– New South Wales has offered the Commonwealth three sites, and if the Federal Parliament choose any one of them New South Wales will grant that site to the Commonwealth.
– By whom is the site to be selected?
– The Federal Parliament could select a site from land granted bv the State of New South Wales.
– The Constitution says that it is the Parliament that must select the site.
– I differ- from the honorable and learned senator, and I say that our first duty is to get New South Wales to hand over certain territory.
– New South Wales consented to give us Dalgety when her Government reserved the land in that district.
– The honorable senator is slightly mistaken. The New South Wales Government appointed a Commissioner to report on the various sites. He did so, and territory was afterwards offered to the Federal Government bv the Government of New South Wales. I have never heard any one say tthat any land has ever been granted to or acquired bv the Commonwealth. Until that takes place, it is premature to say that Dalgety or any other site is to be the site of the Federal Capital. I think that Tumut has a great deal to recommend it as a site for the Federal Capital. There is a good water supply there, it is half-way between Melbourne and Sydney, and it has a delightful climate. What more can honorable senators want? Canberra, which is admitted to lie a good site, is a little nearer to Sydney. Those of us who visited the place lately could not but admire it, and the water supply is satisfactory. On the subject of the area of the Federal Territory, I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that section 125 of the Constitution provides that the Federal Territory shall be in New South Wales, and - shall contain an area of not less than roo square miles.
Some honorable senators contend that that provision recognises no limit at all, and I think that Senator McGregor went so far as to suggest that the area to be acquired for the Federal Territory should be 25,000 square miles. Senator Dobson is an authority on legal matters, and I ask him whether, when he reads the expression, “ not less than 100 square miles,” he does not naturally assume that the area indicated would be something near 100 square miles in extent.
– We can select the site for the Capital anywhere we please.
– Then why do not honorable senators do it ? I join with my honorable friends who have spoken before me in admitting that we have been very kindly treated by our Victorian friends since we have been here. The only thing I regret is that the Federal Parliament, being established here, is more or less controlled by the local newspapers. We know that one newspaper in this city has insulted our Western Australian friends by references to the “Desert Railway.”
– I must ask the honorable senator not to refer to that railway survey. We have had enough of it.
– The same newspaper has referred to the Federal Capital as “ The Bush Capital.” Why should Tumut be insulted in that way?
– We admit the kindness of the Victorian people, but, as against that, we have had to tolerate the Age, and honours are, I think, about equal.
– I hold the opinion that, until New South Wales grants to, or disposes of, certain territory to the Commonwealth, we cannot say that the Federal Capital site has been legally selected. We have merely expressed a pious wish that it might be at Dalgety. I have no reason to object to Dalgety, which place, I admit, improves on acquaintance. Tumut and Canberra are more advantageously situated, from the fact that they can be made accessible without expenditure upon railway construction, whilst the selection of Dalgety for the Federal Capital would involve a large expenditure upon railway construction from the New South Wales side, and a larger expenditure from the Victorian side. One thing that may be “said for Dalgety is that it is no longer . called “Buckley’s Crossing.” 1 should object to a Federal Capital at a place called “Buckley’s Crossing.”
– Would not Buckley’s Chance be better?
– I should object to Buckley’s Choice. I believe that the State Government were most delighted to have the pleasure of entertaining Senator Dobson, because they know that Tie is a man who has large ideas, rises above provincialism, and’ never mentions Tasmania. I shall have much pleasure iri opposing the amendment, and supporting the motion.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [4.45]. - I do not think that there is any necessity to take Senator Neild to task for having submitted the motion. He, as a representative of New South Wales, desired to show that its representatives are not unmindful of the fact that the selection of the site has not been finally determined by this Parliament. We know that it has passed an Act purporting to select a site near Dalgety. But we also know that the Government felt that it was not so definitely settled that they would be justified in proceeding any further without first affording to the Government or Parliament of the State an opportunity to express its opinion upon that action. Many honorable senators contend that Dalgety was one of the sites offered to the Commonwealth for selection, but on that point I join issue with them. When the State Government was asked to suggest a site - a recognition bv the Commonwealth that it possessed that right - the only reply it made was, “ We are not prepared to do so. We have had a Commissioner reporting on various sites ; we send you a copy of his report, and we shall reserve land anywhere so that you may have an opportunity of inspecting sites, and offering an opinion as to the most suitable one from your stand-point.” The State Parliament, however, was not asked to express an opinion on the subject until this Parliament had selected Dalgety. Some comment has been made upon the fact that when the State Parliament’ did consider the question, the State Government proposed that Dalgety should be one of the sites which it should offer to the Commonwealth. The State Parliament distinctly and avowedly excluded Dalgety from consideration, believing that it was not a suitable site, and that in the interests of both the State and the Commonwealth, it was undesirable that it should be selected.
– The State Parliament did that after it knew that Dalgety had been selected bv this Parliament.
– The honorable senator seems to suggest that the State Parliament rejected Dalgety for the purpose of annoying the Commonwealth rather than for any other reason.
– Did not the State Government make a great mistake in reserving territory, and thus allowing it to be understood that it was willing that Dalgety should be chosen?
.- I do not think that it did. It was not from any contrariness of spirit that the State Parliament acted. After full consideration, it felt that in the interests either of the State or the Commonwealth, Dalgety was not the most suitable site, and it had a perfect right at that time to say that it did not approve of its selection by the Commonwealth. Even if an honorable senator thinks that the State Parliament was prompted by any other reason he has no right to cast an aspersion upon its action any more than be .is entitled to cast an aspersion upon an honorable senator for advocating a proposal. Senator O’Keefe has asked whether it was not a mistake for the State Government to reserve a site near Dalgety.
– That is if the Government were not sure that the State Parliament would fee willing to hand it over to the Commonwealth.
.- I quite dissent from the view of the honorable sena tor. When the State Government knew that the question was to be considered by this Parliament it had a perfect right, in order to afford a full opportunity for an examination of various sites, to reserve any areas which the Commonwealth Government had desired to be reserved. But by that reservation it did not assent to the grant of a particular site. The intention with which I believe various sites were reserved was that there should be no possibility of conflict arising between the two Parliaments. No doubt when it was decided that the Federal Capital should be located in New South Wales, it was felt that it would be possible to bring the two Parliaments into unison on the question of selecting a site. It will be recollected by honorable senators that in the first instance there was a strong objection by New South Wales to the question of the location of the Federal Capital being left open. At the Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne, Mr. Reid strongly urged that one of the conditions of Federation was that Svdney was to be chosen as the site of the Federal Capital. The condition, however, was not approved by the majority of the Premiers, and then a compromise was arrived at to the effect that the Federal Capital should be located in New South Wales, but not within a limited distance of that city, and, as we have since learned, not beyond a certain distance therefrom ; practically it was to be located within a radius of from joo to 200 miles from Sydney. The Constitution does not contain any limitation, except that the Federal Capital shall not be within 100 miles of that city. That, it was. thought, would be a benefit to the State as a compensation for certain sacrifices which its people believed that they would make by entering the Union. Having gone so far, is it not unreasonable for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to say, “ We have a right to select a site, irrespective of the wishes of the people of New South Wales, and we may select one which will be in a most inconvenient and undesirable position from your stand-point?” Honorable senators have been advocating that the Federal Capital should have a seaport, and that it should be located in such a position that it would not be necessary to approach it through the State. That was not the understanding with which the compact was arrived at at the Premiers’ Conference. If any honorable senators are suggesting that the State might throw hindrances in the way of persons having access to the Federal Capital, they are casting an unworthy aspersion upon (her. It is only right and proper that there should be absolutely free and unfettered approach to the Federal Capital. I now come to the question of whether the Federal Government have been guilty of any blame. Recognising that the question was not finally settled, they placed a paragraph in the speech with which the Governor-General opened Parliament this session. Furthermore, they welcomed suggestions from New South Wales that honorable senators should have an opportunity of visiting the sites, which had met with, the approval of, I think, both Houses of the State Parliament. There was a distinct promise that, even if the visits were made, the question would be settled during the present session. Since the completion of the visits there has been, to a great extent, a congestion of public business. No doubt, in the minds of the Ministers, that was a sufficient reason for not pressing forward the matter, as probably they feared that it might be detrimental to the consideration of other public business. It is desirable that the people of New South Wales should know that their representatives are not going to allow the question to slumber, but are prepared to apply a spur to the Government, and to point out that the question is so urgent that it should be settled at the earliest possible date.
– I would suggest to the honorable senator that it is nearly 5 o’clock, and the question will arise as to whether orders of the day ought not to be called on presently. It might be advisable for him to propose the adjournment of the debate.
-Col. GOULD. - If the orders of the day have to be called on at 5 o’clock, personally I am quite willing to accede to the suggestion, provided that I shall have the right to continue my speech whenever the debate is resumed.
– Should I be in order in moving that Senator Gould be allowed to continue his speech on a day to be fixed bv the mover of the motion?
– I think that the best course to adopt is for the orders of the day, private business, to be called on. The debate will then be adjourned, and Senator Lt. -Col. Gould will have a right to continue his speech when it is resumed. I do not think that it would be right for his remarks to be cut short at the will of any honorable senator. He will have a right to continue them when the debate isresumed.
Motion (bv Senator Col. Neild) agreed to-
That the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for Thursday next.
Debate resumed from 20th September (vide page 5008), on motion by Senator Pearce -
Tl1.1t the Bill be now read a second time.
.- As most honorable senators are well aware, the nationalization of monopolies is a verv prominent plank in the platform of the Labour Party. On many occasions, when members of that party have in the Senate and on public platforms warmly supported it, some of our opponents have said that it is not a principle that meets with the approbation of the majority of the people of the Commonwealth. We deny that assertion. In order that the people may have an opportunity to express their opinion in regard to it, we are anxious to have a Bill passed by both Houses of this Parliament formally submitting the issue to the electors. It has also been said that the coming general elections will enable the people to express their views by confirming the principles of those who are returned to Parliament. But, in connexion with all elections various issues are raised. At the coming elections, we shall have freetraders, protectionists, revenue tariff candidates, white and anti- white Australian advocates,, socialists and anti-socialists, and supporters of a large number of other issues submitting their views to the people. In addition to whom, I suppose the ghosts of the six hatters and the six potters will be resurrected. Senator Millen has made an exhaustive speech upon the Bill. He’ damned with faint praise all the collective enterprises’ that are owned and controlled by various Governments in the Commonwealth, and, if I followed him rightly, warmly approved of the private enterprise monopolies that exist in Australia to-day. I am glad to note, however, that in this respect he is distinctly at variance with the views expressed by his leader, Senator Symon, who, when speaking on the Anti-Trust Bill, said-
– The honorable senator must not allude to a former debate of the present session.
– Senator Symon, on a certain occasion, in this Chamber, expressed himself very strongly in regard to private monopolies. He said, “I am as strongly-
– Is the honorable senator quoting from a former debate of this session ?
– I am.
– To do so is not in accord with the Standing Orders.
– Perhaps I shall be in order in saying that Senator Symon is a strong opponent of private monopolies, that he said that he detests them, and that, although not seeing eye to eye with the Labour Party in his desire to see monopolies nationalized, he would go so far as to say that, if he could see no other way out of the difficulty, he would be in favour of their nationalization. Senator Millen, in his warm approval of individualism and private enterprise, quoted a number of statistics to show the growth of individualism, not only in the Commonwealth, but in other countries. He pointed out that the wealth of nations was increasing, though he did not admit that, side by side with that increase, there is an unequal distribution of wealth, not only in other countries which he mentioned, but in his own State. Mr. Coghlan, a- recognised statistician, in his volume for 1903-4, points out that during the year 1903 the number of adults in the State of New South Wales was 735,389> of whom 190,617 were possessors of property, whilst 544,972 were without property. After tabulating the possessors of wealth, Mr. Coghlan goes on to say that 987 persons, that is to say 0.13, or about J of 1 per cent., were the possessors of property to the value of £130,521,000, or 35.4 per cent., whilst 2,086 persons held property to the value of £168,782,800, or 45.8 per cent. In other words, the total wealth or property of the State is in the hands of about 3,000 persons. Later statistics published by Mr. Hall,” the Government Statistician of New South Wales, show that there is even a greater disparity than that shown by Mr. Coghlan. Mr. Hall says that in the year 1904-5 there were 1,004 persons - 13 in every 10,000 - who owned from £50,000 worth of property and upwards, and 10,853 persons, or 144 per 10,000, who held property to the value of ,£5,000 and upwards. Their wealth is estimated at £259.674.000. In 1904 there were 749,300 adults in New South Wales. Mr. Hall’s returns show that there were in 19044 95>834 owners of property, and that there were 553,466 persons who had no property whatever, so that in the year 1.903-4 there were 544,972 persons without property, and a year later there were 553.466 persons without property, showing an increase of 8,464 persons who had no property whatever. As to the possessors of wealth, comparing Mr. Coghlan’s figures with those of Mr. Hall, I find that Mr. Coghlan says that 190,617 persons were possessors of property. and Mr. Hall gives the number as 195,874, an increase of the possessors of property of 5,257. 1 quote these figures mainly to show that Senator Millen’s picture was overdrawn. In “regard to some of the countries which he cited, it is true that wealth is increasing, and there is a broader distribution of that wealth amongst the citizens, but that is due, in my opinion, largely to collective principles that are extending in almost every country in the civilized world. No better example of the growth of collectivism can be afforded than that of the Japanese nation. Japan for a considerable number of years has owned and controlled various monopolies. To give honorable senators an idea of the extent to which that is the case. I will quote from an article published in *Everybody’ s Magazine, entitled, “ Soldiers of the Common Good.” It is written by Mr. Charles Edward Russell, a gentleman who is’ making an extended tour of the world, to see, at firsthand, how Government-owned monopolies operate in the interest of the people. The Government of Japan has derived the following immense sums from the enterprises that I will mention. In 1893 the Japanese Government received from State-owned monopolies £998,488; in 1898 the sum was £2,646,881 ; in 1903 it was £5,802,298; in 1904 it was £6,478,335 ; and in 1905 it was £7,720,092. There are many industries owned and controlled by the Government of Japan, which has a monopoly of tobacco, salt, and camphor. According to the writer, the Japanese Government will some day have a monopoly of the manufacture of matches, is planning a monopoly and interest in the cotton and spinning industry, and controls many industries which it does not absolutely own. As to the tobacco industry in Japan, the writer says -
Once we (the United States) enjoyed an abundant trade with Japan in these things, for we had taught her to want them, and then joyously we supplied her want at high prices. Thus in the end Japan served copiously to swell the hard-earned treasures of the American Tobacco Trust, for the Japanese were industrious consumers, and the Trust could charge what it pleased, having the trade by the throat. But when the Trust had established branch houses and offices, and works, and invested in them $12,000,000, the Japanese Government concluded that it might as well have the goodly profits as let the Trust have them, so it went into the tobacco business on its own account. It bought factories and stores, and passed a law establishing itself in a practical monopoly of the tobacco trade, for no makers of cigarettes, cigars, or tobacco were allowed to sell their products until they had been offered to, and declined by, an agent of the Government - a necessary provision, because in Japan cigarette making is largely a domiciliary trade. Still, there might have been left to the American Trust a chance to compete in quality of product, or in some special lines, if it had not been for one thing. The Government put an importduty of 250 per cent. on cigarettes and tobacco. Thereupon the American cigarettes vanished faster than their own smoke, and the defeated American Tobacco Trust was glad to sell to the Government (for what it could get) its business and branch houses. Now in the Japanese shops you will see on shelves formerly loaded with American product, nothing but the cigarettes . and tobacco of the Japanese Government. From this trade revolution certain results have followed, verysuggestive to minds observant of the changing order.
The tobacco business has become a great source of public revenue. When the tremendous expenditures of the Russian war strained the Japanese resources, the Government raised the prices of tobacco and cigarettes, and it was its operations as a tradesman that enabled it to beat Russia. Now it has launched itself directly into the international tobacco trade. Having driven the American Tobacco Trust from Japan, the Japanese Government is keenly contending with the Trust for markets elsewhere. It is selling great quantities of its cigarettes and tobacco in Korea and China. It is duplicating American Trust methodsby selling abroad for less than it charges at home. With its great advantages in nearness to the market, in its control of transportation charges, in its cheap labour, other tobacco markets have small chance against it, and when it secures the vast Chinese and Korean fields, its opportunities for profits will be far beyondany Trust’s. Who shall compete with it? Who shallsay it nay? No combination of individuals, certainly, no company, no firm. Nothing can check it, but the opposition of another national trader, and in all the world there is no other national trader to speak of with . this.
In a preface to the article the writer says -
The Japanese grasped the danger and iniquity of Trusts, and placidly, without so much as a. “by your leave,” they are brushing Trusts off the map of Japan, and in their places are erecting Government monopolies.
– What is the name of the magazine?
– It is Everybody’s Magazine, of July, 1906. Senator Millen dwelt rather lengthily on the subject of Japan, but forgot to mention that the progress there is in a large measure due to the fact that the Government, and not private enterprise, runs the monopolies. The honorable senator also spoke of the inferiority of tobacco produced under State monopoly ; but, having paid a visit to Japan last year, I can speak with personal knowledge of the excellent quality of the tobacco there produced. The price of cigarettes was then slightly higher than at normal times, owing to the war with Russia; but I can say that the quality of the tobacco in cigarettes sold at1d. per packet in Japan is quite equal to that of the cigarettes sold at 3d. per packet in Australia. I should here like to briefly quote from an excellent report, written by Senator Staniforth Smith, and published by the Government Printer, on the Federated Malay States and Java; their Systems of Government, Methods of Administration and Economic Development: - In Java, the Government receive from Government monopolies a sum of £2,857,871, which is made up as follows : - Opium monopoly , £1,657,546; State tin mines, £71,525; salt manufacture, £1,010,167; coal mines, £66,083 ;and public auctions, £52,550. From Government plantations there is received £546,792, and from 24 Government pawn shops, £115,383. Coming nearer home,wefindthe Government of New Zealand running various enterprises, one of the latest to be taken under State ownership being the coal industry. According to a short article which appeared in the Melbourne Age a fewdays ago, the quantity of coal mined at the Government mines last year was 131,816 tons from Port Elizabeth, and . 46,085 tons from the Seddon mine; while the capital outlay was £69,698, and the profit, after the payment of £2,000 to sinking fund, amounted to £14,647. That is equal to1s. per ton of the coal sold ; and the sales averaged 1 8s. 4<i. per ton for the coal from Port Elizabeth, and 14s. 9d. per ton for the coal from the Seddon mine. Another example of successful Government enterprise may be observed in Victoria. For a considerable number of years the engines required by the Government of Victoria were constructed by private enterprise at the Phoenix Foundry, Ballarat. But a short time ago tenders were called for the construction of, I believe, thirty-nine locomotives, and the prices submitted by private tenderers were considered by the Government of the day as excessive. After giving the matter consideration, the management of the Newport workshops, on behalf of the Government, put in a tender, with the result that the thirty-nine engines, or, at any rate, many of them, were constructed at £42 per ton - a price which, according to Mr. Tait, the Railway Commissioner, was 40 per cent, less than that which would have been possible under private enterprise. In New South Wales, the State Government called for tenders for the construction of sixty locomotives, of a. similar kind, and .had to pay £70 per ton, as compared with £42 per ton paid at the Newport railway shops in Victoria under collectivism. if the Government of New South Wales had had those engines constructed at the Victorian railway shops instead of at the Clyde Engineering Works, they would have effected a saving of no less a sum than £.126,000 ; while the Victorian Government, bv building the engines themselves, saved £49,928. The probabilities are that, had the Government of Victoria undertaken the construction of their own locomotives from the beginning, they would have saved to the State something like £500,000, considering that the Phoenix Foundry -built for the State Government something like 351 engines. Senator Pearce, when speaking on this Bill, directed his attention mainly to the tobacco trust, which, considering its age, has, in mv opinion, reared its head more prominently than any other monopoly in the Commonwealth. That monopoly has cheapened production by the introduction of female labour, and of labour-saving appliances. and has discouraged the growth of colonial leaf.
– That is not so.
– T shall endeavour to Drove the fact as I proceed.
– The honorable senator will find that very difficult.
– The combine has, by a clever trick, increased the price of tobacco to the consumer.
– As I have alreadysaid, the combine has largely introduced female labour to do the work previously performed by male labour. On this point the statements in the report of the Royal Commission have been challenged in the Chamber ; and in the newspapers of to-da there is a letter of two or three columns in. length on the subject. I venture to think, however, that that is not an ordinary letter, but an advertisement - that, after all, it is paid-for opinion, and not the opinion of a man free from bias. On the subject of the increase in the number oT~ females employed in the combine’s factory, I shall quote from the report itself, and my authorities are Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Dixson, two gentlemen who tendered evidence to the Commission. In June, .1903, there were no females employed in the British Australasian Tobacco Company’s factory, in Sydney. In November, 1903, there were 200 men. 147 youths and boys, and 37 females. In November, 1905, 195 men, 135 youths and boys, and 94 females, a decrease in two years of 5 men, 13 youths and boys, and an increase of 57 females, or an increase of 94 females over June of the year 1903. In addition to this remarkable increase of female labour, I am reliably informed that a short time ago work that had always previously been performed by men was given to women. The men strongly objected tj the. employment of females at this work. They waited on the foreman, and pointed out the injustice. He gave them no satisfaction, and the men had no alternative but to go on strike. From all accounts, they are still on strike, and ave not likely to be taken back.
– What special labour were the women called upon to perform ?
– They were working, at’ a flake machine for the manufacture of tobacco.
– Boys were previously employed at that work.
– I am’ informed that men were employed at the wo’rk.
-. -Col. Gould.- No, boys to whom they could not afford to pay big wages.
– This combine cannot afford to pay big wages? We know that they paid a big sum to get a legal opinion concerning the Commission’s report, and, if rumour can be believed, they are interesting themselves very largely in a financial sense in the coming elections. We know what immense profits they are making by, the employment of female labour in the displacement of male labour, and by the increased prices they are charging consumers for tobacco. In i903i 220 males and 193 females were employed in the combine’s factory in Melbourne, and in 1904 the numbers employed were 262 males and 259 females, showing an increase of 42 males and 66 females. The States Tobacco Company of Melbourne employed in 1903, 58 men, 43 youths and boys, and 25 girls. In 1905, they employed 98 men, 68 youths and boys, and 63 women and girls, showing an increase in two years of 40 men, 25 youths and boys, and 38 women and girls, the increase in the number ot women and girls being considerable when compared with the increase in the number of men. In Adelaide, in 1903, there were employed at the combine’s factory 51 men, 14 youths an3 boys,- and 4 females; and in 1905, there were 52 men, 15 youths and boys, and 15 females, showing an increase of 1 man, r boy, and 11 females.
-Col. Gould. - The honorable senator should quote statistics of female labour in countries in which this industry is nationalized.
– I am dealing just now with the operations of the combine in Australia. I shall deal with the Government monopoly in France later on. These figures show that whilst there has been a slight increase in the number of adult males in the last two years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of females. Mr. Dixson further shows in his statement that, whilst there has been an apparent increase of 132 persons in the factories of the combine in 1905, as compared with 1903, there was to be deducted from that number 120 who were thrown out of employment by the closing down by the combine of Cameron Brothers, Brisbane, the National Cigarette Company, Melbourne, and the States Tobacco Company, Adelaide. So that, for a period of - two years, notwithstanding the enormously increased output of the combine’s factories, there has only, been an additional 12 hands employed by them, which number is spread over the whole of their factories in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. I have figures supplied by the Government Statisticians of the various States of the Commonwealth which show that the number of persons employed in the tobacco, cigar, and cigarette factories throughout the Commonwealth in 1905 was less by 257 than the number employed in 1901 before the creation of this huge combine. Now, with respect to the grower, I have no hesitation in saying that this combine has discouraged the grower of colonial leaf, that it has misled them, and has taken advantage of their circumstances. It is true that the combine promoted a competition and donated the sum of £20 in order to encourage the growth of a superior kind of colonial leaf. But what conditions did they lay down. They practically said this : Take all the care you can in the growth and cultivation of your leaf, and no matter how superior in quality that leaf may be, we have decided that we shall not pay a higher price than 8d. per lb. for it.” Was that a proper course to pursue? Should not the combine have paid what the leaf was worth? If any further information were required to confirm the statements I an making in regard to the way in which the combine has treated the growers, and especially those engaged in the cultivation of leaf around Tumut, the following extract from the Albury Daily Mail, of October, 1905, will be admitted to prove my statement up to the hilt : -
Great consternation was occasioned amongst the tobacco growers of this district recently owing to the offers received for their leaf from the British-Australian Company. The highest price offered was for Messrs. Bridle and Creasy’s Bombowlee crop, viz., 8d. per lb. for firsts, and 3$d. for seconds.- The company early in the season offered prizes to the amount of ^20 for competition, two-ton lots to be exhibited, and the company to purchase the first prize leaf at 811. per lb. and the second prize leaf at 7d. But they now offer 7d. to Messrs. Cornett and Taylor, who secured the first prize, for their first quality. The second prize-winners are offered 6d. for first, and from 3½d. to 2§d. for second. A great number were induced by the offers held out by the company to start the industry last year, and they erected, at considerable expense, large sheds for curing. Some of the growers vow that the)’ will never grow another stalk of tobacco unless buyers from other parts of the world can be found to guarantee a payable price before the seed is grown.
There can be no doubt that the growers of tobacco in Australia are unfortunately circumstanced. I might mention that the growers, of leaf in the United States are under similar disadvantages, because they are limited to one buyer. At the present time they are making an effort to start a co-operative factory with a view to secure a better return for their labour, and a more profitable market for their produce. I have here a journal called the Southern Tobacco Journal, published in North Carolina, and I quote the following from the issue of 6th August, 1906 : -
When we consider the fate of independent factories in Danville, Martinsville, Winston, and other tobacco towns, where men of capital and experience have been unable lo hold out against the unscrupulous methods of the trust, we feel that the farmers would be taking a serious risk lo put their money in factories. It takes time and money to build up trade; to popularize brands and make the consumer call for them like the children do for a popular brand of soothing syrup. The trust has spent millions in crushing rival brands, notably in the case of its “Battle-Axe” brand, which it put on the market at a big loss. It would pursue similar tactics in fighting the factories established by the Farmers’ Protective Association, and a hundred thousand dollar factory would be an easy proposition for it to handle.
In what position are the growers of leaf in Australia? It will be urged that the combine in the first place arranged the competition with the sincere desire to promote the Australian industry, but it is selfevident that they recognised that they have not treated the growers of leaf properly, because when serious complaints had been made bv them, and attention had been called in the columns of the daily press to the way in which they had been treated, and after the Commission sat at Tumut, and had taken the evidence of the dissatisfied growers, a representative of the combine, in the person of Mr. Shaw, went up there, and distributed a large sum of money to those- who were dissatisfied.
– Will it be contended that Mr. Shaw, or any other representative of the combine is a philanthropist, and that the combine distributed this money amongst the growers because they were making immense profits? The only construction I can place upon the action that was taken is that this money was distributed amongst the growers because the combine knew that they had been unfairly treated, and desired to silence them. Of the money to which I have referred, Mr. O’Neill got £18. Bridle and Crew Creasy and Hibbens £54, Bridle and
Creasy, junior, £160, Dean and Ratliffe £72, and Beattie Brothers £66. Last year the combine paid for this tobacco) leaf 8d. per lb. Because of the existence of the Commission, and the vigorous complaints made by the growers, thev have had this sum of money distributed amongst them, and this year, strange to say, for no better quality of leaf the combine have paid 9½d. per lb. In order to make up for the tetter price the combinepaid for tobacco, this year they have bought up all the “ trash,” which is considered inthe trade an inferior kind of tobacco. I am informed, by a person who is on the spot, that a representative of the combine recently paid a visit to Tumut, and bought up all the “ trash “ from the Chinese at from 2d. to aid. per lb. My informant says -
How the poor community is robbed. I suppose the same “trash” is given back to the public for 4s. or 5s. a lb. When will the fool-public wake up?
We have heard some talk of the inferiority of French tobacco, but I venture to say that there is no tobacco grown in France for which the French Government does not pay more than 2d. per lb. If we take the men who are engaged in the growth of leaf at Tumut, so far as I have been able to follow their evidence, there is not one of them who considers himself a. collectivist or a Socialist, yet 90 per cent, of the growers of Tumut are of opinion that it would be highly beneficial to the Commonwealth if the industry were nationalized. A Mr. William Daniel Patrick O’Brien gave evidence at Tumut, and I find that he said -
Some eighteen months ago every one was talking about the tobacco industry. I think the American expert who came up here was the cause of it. He went round and explained to the’ people the benefits they would derive from tobacco culture, and it was, I believe, on his recommendation that a number of people went into the industry. At that time I was largely interested in dairying, and was trying to induce the farmers to go in for it. But it was of no use talking to them. There was nothing but ruberoid sheds in people’s minds, and they were ‘talking about the great boon that tobacco growing was going to be to the district. It seemed to be going along all right, but after a while I heard there was something wrong about it. The cause of the trouble was the competition instigated by the company. When the circular came up about the prizes it caused the people to open their eyes. Thev were led to believe from the prices obtained” last year for an inferior article, that if they produced something superior the prices would bc much better. But when the circular about the competition come up they all said that something was wrong. They said that it was a dodge on the part of the combine to fix prices, and they thought that that was altogether unfair. I have had opportunities of speaking to all the tobacco growers, and have been in their confidence. Nobody was satisfied with the prices obtained. But, notwithstanding that, there was a difficulty in getting them to come and” give evidence before this Committee. I said to them - “If this combine is injuring your district you ought to be men enough to come forward and try to exterminate them.” They said that if they did they would be boycotted. I can assure you that men would have come here and given evidence except that they were afraid of this combine. They thought the combine would have an edge on them.
James Beattie, another grower, at Tumut, also gave the following evidence - 3375. Do you think that the combine has been injurious to the tobacco-growers? - I certainly do, from the experience we have had this year. 3376. In what way has it injuriosly affected them? - I believe it would have paid the company better to give more for the tobacco than it did, because a larger quantity would have been put in this year if the growers had been satisfied with the price. 3377. What do you think of the idea of nationalizing the tobacco industry ? - I have been against Socialism, but if no better method can be found, I am in favour of that. One thing is certain, that nothing can be worse for the growers than the present arrangement.
That evidence is conclusive that the growers in Tumut have not been properly treated, and they can hope for little better consideration whilst this monopoly exists under private enterprise. Exception has been taken to the statement that in some of the factories the atmosphere is unhealthy. When the statements were made about the unhealthy atmosphere in one of the combine’s factories in “Sydney, it brought forward a gentleman, in the person of Mr. George Armstrong, a medical officer of the Board of Health, who, in reply to my questions, gave the following; evidence : - 4971. How long have you been in the Government employ? - Eight years.’ 4972. During that period you often visited that factory? - No; I have only visited it once, in 19,05. 4973. You were instructed to make the visit by the Minister for Labour and Industry ? - No : I was not instructed, but at the request of that Department, who said they would like my advice in connexion with the ventilation at a certain factory. 41374. What time did von spend at the factory? - About one and a half hours. 4075. And by whom were von shown over it? - By one of the officials of the factory ; ! could not say who. 4976. During the eight years you have been in the Department you visited that factory but once; therefore, speaking as an expert, one, visit in that period of time could’ not be taken as a serious opinion on a matter affecting the health of operatives engaged in that factory ? - In general terms, no, I do not think so. I should prefer, before giving my opinion, to visit the place at various seasons of the year.
Yet the combine trots out that gentleman’s evidence as proof that the atmosphere in that factory is not unhealthy.
– As disproving the evidence of men who were working in the factory.
– Exactly; although he had spent only an hour and a half there during a period of eight years. Further than that, by a table which the combine submitted, it” absolutely proved the statement made by the operatives. It was submitted in Sydney to prove that the atmosphere was all right, and that, from a health stand-point, the conditions could not be complained of. Under the head of “ Sick and Accident’ ‘Fund of the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company,” it shows that in one year the number of subscribing members was 331, and that the number of members who had drawn sick pay from rst October, 1904, to 18th November, 1905 - a period of nine months - was ninety. Can that be a healthy occupation or healthy factory? The total amount which the 331 members subscribed in twelve months amounted to £333 os. 4d., and the total amount which they drew by way of sick allowance was no less than £170 14s. 4d. That, I think, proves without the shadow of a doubt the correctness of the statement which was made by the operatives, and which is mentioned in the Commission’s report. It is also alleged that the price of tobacco to the consumer has not been increased. When we were in Adelaide, Senator Graysaid to a witness, “You say that the price per lb. for tobacco is the same now as it was a short while ago?” “Yes,” said the witness, “but it is sold differently.” Senator Gray then inquired, “ What does it matter whether it is sold by the pound or by the half-pound, if the price per pound is the same?” That sounds all right, but let me give the explanation of how the combine has increased the price to the consumer. In Adelaide, the factories were making fourteen sticks of tobacco to the pound, and the retailer was charged so much per pound. After the combine came into existence, it sold sixteen plugs to the pound, charging, of course, the same price per pound, but the retail distributer had the advantage of two plugs ger pound, so that he made a profit of 8d. on them, and the consumer got lighter plugs, but paid the same price. Hence there is not the shadow of a doubt that the price of tobacco, not only in South Australia, but also in Victoria, has been increased, and that the consumer is paying the increase.
– Let it be remembered that there has been an increase in the Excise duty as well as the Customs duty.
– That has nothing to do with the increased number of plugs. It has been said that the Royal Commission was biased, that it was composed mainly of labour men who had preconceived ideas in regard to the industry. It will be within the recollection of many honorable senators that, in 1895, the Legislative Assembly of Victoria appointed a Select Committee upon “ State Monopoly in Manufacture of Tobacco.” It was composed, not of labour men, but of men with very strong conservative opinions. . The only man holding collectivist views was Mr. G. M. Prendergast, the present leader of the Opposition in that House. The other members were Mr. Graham, Mr. Graves, Mr. John Mclntyre, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Outtrim, the mover. The Select Committee submitted a report, not so exhaustive, but just as strong, in favour of the nationalization of the tobacco industry as that of the Commonwealth Royal Commission, which has been described as biased. The Select Committee recommended that the Government should take over the industry. They said that its ownership by the Government would mean an increase in the revenue, the supply of better tobacco to the consumer, the encouragement of the farmers to grow tobacco, and the provision of additional employment to the people. Further, they said -
There can be little doubt that, if the tobacco trade were in the hands of the State, an increase of manufacture would ensue ; that a lesser quantity of the manufactured articles would be imported, but that the leaf would be obtained, and be made into cigars, &c, in the State factory. In this way work could be found for a much larger number of persons than are now engaged in manufacture.
In their report they give quotations from a publication printed in France, and entitled ” Treatise on Financial Science.” I propose to quote one or two extracts - “The Government monopoly is- the only method of obtaining a proper, healthy, and unadulterated article.” . . . “The countries of the Continent which have had the courage to establish a monopoly of tobacco draw large revenues, and have no wish to renounce the system.” …” We counsel every country which has a tobacco monopoly to keep it.”
It has been said that the quality of the tobacco manufactured in France is inferior. Mr. Jacobs, who admitted to the Royal Commission that he is not a practical man, has roundly condemned the quality of French tobacco, and Mr. Cameron, who, if I remember rightly, had never been in France, said that if a similar kind of tobacco were manufactured in the Commonwealth there would be riots. If any one likes to take the trouble to examine the Trade and Customs Returns, he will find that during last year cigars weighing over 34,000 lbs. were imported into the Commonwealth from France. Taking the Customs average that, in that year, 1,000 cigars weighed 12 lbs., it means that about 3,000,000 cigars were imported from France; and their value as shown by the Customs, makes it clear that their value would be about £8 per 1,000. It is safe to say that, before any of the cigars were retailed, they had cost the retailer £10 or £11 per 1,000, and the combine that turns out a cigar, and extensively advertises, can, I am informed, sell at £8 5s. per thousand. Mr. Jacobs’ opinion is distinctly at variance with that of Mr. George Carter, who, two or three years ago, did pay a visit to France, and who, unlike the other, is a thoroughly practical man, has had a lifelong experience in the manufacture of cigars, and knows good from bad tobacco. Mr. Carter unhesitatingly told the Commission that, price for price, as good a cigar can be obtained in France as in any other part of the world, except, perhaps, Cuba, where it is said the best cigars are made After all, Mr. Jacobs’ opinion cannot be taken too seriously. A witness in Sydney - Mr. Mosley Richard Aaron - expressed his opinion in regard to Mr. Jacobs. After swearing that he had been in the trade for forty years, he went on to say - -I have nothing personally to say against Mr. Jacobs, and I believe that so far as his lights go - which is not very far - he does the best he can. I, however, attended at Mr. Jacobs’ office with Mr. de Beers, and Mr. Jacobs brought down four or five boxes of Matador cigars. It is a nicely finished cigar, and looks well, but, not unlike the pudding, you cannot tell what it is like till you have tried it. I lit one of them, and he asked’ me what I thought of it; I asked Mr. de Beers what he thought of it, and said that as my English education was very neglected, I was afraid I could not coin a word to express the quality of it. I could do so in Flemish, which means that the five-eighths of the cigar had not sufficient body in it, and it was like smoking straw. A cigar which appears large, and really is not large, immediately it is smoked, goes very soft. “ Just like smoking straw “ is the opinion of a man who has been all these years in the trade as to the cigars turned out by the combine. We know that France does import tobacco leaf extensively. She buys in the best markets. According to returns published in the United States Tobacco Journal for the 25th November, 1905, in the year 1904 France imported 66,500,000 lbs. of tobacco. Of those imports the United States supplied 40,000,000 lbs. The same journal says that in the same year about 83,000,000 cigars were imported into France, many of which came f rota Cuba, ‘ where the best cigars are manufactured. Going back to the report of the Select Committee appointed in Victoria, I find that Mr. James Sinclair was the first witness. He had paid a recent visit to France, and though his opinions were distinctly opposed to the Government ownership of the tobacco industry, he save some very valuable testimony from my point of view. He stated that he met in France a gentleman named Demesmay, a large beet grower. He said, as to his conversations with this gentleman -
Further on we got talking about the classes of tobacco, and he said that one of the great advantages to the people was the uniformity in the different grades of tobaccos sold, each grade being known by a certain name, and all had the Government stamp on. The consumer was thus protected in getting the article certified to be of a certain quality and price, and there was also the advantage that the purchaser could not have the inferior article put on. him for the higher price article.
Further on in his evidence, Mr. Sinclair said of Mr. Demesmay -
In speaking of the quality of the tobacco, he said that he himself liked a very fine article, and in travelling in the States he did not care about smoking the American tobacco, and he was able to purchase the best French tobacco at Chicago, Salt Lake City, or any other cities visited by him in the United States. He said that they were enabled not alone to provide for their own wants, but also to export to other countries at a profit.
When the Chairman of the Select Committee put a question to Mr. Sinclair about the quality of the tobacco in France, he said -
I tried some of Mr. Demesmay’s, and I thought it the best I had ever smoked.
Senator Millen, in addition to condemning the quality of French tobacco, said that there was a large amount of smuggling on the frontier. That is true. Many attempts are made to smuggle tobacco into France ; not, however, because of the inferiority of the tobacco manufactured in that country, but because of the high protective duty.
– Some of it is smuggled into England.
– Just so. France is adjacent to five foreign countries, and naturally there is a good deal of smuggling. In order to prevent it the French Regie manufactures a cheaper cigar for sale on the border. In the year 1816 a law was passed in France authorizing the Regie to make a tobacco the price of which was not to exceed is. 4d. per lb. That is the cause of the cheaper tobacco sold on the frontier, and it has nothing whatever to do with the quality of the tobacco sold in France. A comparison has been made between the industrial conditions in the Government factories in France, and those which pertain under private enterprise in this country. Yet Mr. Jacobs’ evidence on page 72 of the report of the Royal Commission showed that according to the official report submitted by him there were, in the year 1902’, 14,941 women engaged in the industry, who were paid on an average 3s. 3d. per day. There were 1,146 men employed, who earned on an average 4s. iod. per day. The average wage paid in France therefore, according to Mr. Jacobs’ evidence, is £1 os. 6d. per week, as against the wage stated in the minority report, 15s. 6d. In Australia, according to the minority report, the wages average 27s. 4d. per week. I have examined these figures carefully,- and have arrived at the conclusion - as I think any one will do who makes his own calculations - that if all the men and women engaged in the socialistic enterprise in France were paid £2 os. 6d. per week, and worked eight hours a day, there would still be a profit of over £12,000,000 per annum.
– How much per head of the population would £12,000,000 amount to?
– The honorable senator should not ask me to do a sum of that kind in my head. What is he endeavouring to prove?
– I want the honorable senator to prove his case.
– I will prove it in my own way. I am proving the advantages of a collectively-owned industry as compared with a privately-owned industry, and am doing that on the evidence supplied by Mr. Jacobs himself.
– Does not the honorable senator see that his endeavour ends in most pitiful failure?
– I should be verysorry indeed to make Such a pitiful failure as Senator Neild does of every subject he brings before the Senate.
– Is that in order, Mr. President?
– No; and the honorable senator himself is not in order in interrupting.
– The hours worked by artisans, workmen, and workwomen in France in private industries range between 12, 11, 1.1J, and 10J hours per day. Very rarely indeed are the hours as low as ten per day. In the Government tobacco factories the day’s work is ten hours, whilst the wages paid under Government ownership are 50 per cent, higher than those paid by private firms.
– Does the honorable senator want to make us believe that the conditions are superior in France to what they are here.
– No; I am endeavouring to show, and I think I have done it, that the conditions in the Government monopoly in France are much better than those obtaining in any private establishment in the same country. That is the fair comparison. In regard to another point mentioned by Senator Pearce that the combine is making an immense fortune, not out of tobacco leaf, but out of moisture, a few figures which I will give will be interesting to the Senate. According to a return published by Mr. Drake, the Government Statistician, in 1901 the Victorian tobacco manufacturers purchased 2,506,515 lbs. of imported leaf, and 228,124 lbs. of Colonial leaf; in 1902 they purchased 1,344,832 lbs. of imported leaf, and 204,286 lbs. of Colonial leaf: in 1903, 2,012,692 lbs. of imported leaf, and 302,744 lbs. of Colonial leaf; in 1904, 2>74°<353 hbs. °f imported leaf and 263,084 lbs. of Colonial leaf; in 1905, 3,568,811 lbs. of imported leaf, and 261,197 lbs. of Colonial leaf. Those figures show that the Victorian factories in the years mentioned purchased 13,432,603 lbs. of tobacco leaf. There were manufactured from that quantity 15,183,024 lbs. of tobacco.
– They could not manufacture without water.
– In addition to water they used several seasonings and sweetenings. In the manufacture of tobacco in England nothing but water is permitted, but in Australia twelve or thirteen ingredients are used.
– Are they injurious ?
– These materials are considered injurious in England, where such adulteration is not permitted.
– They are regarded as improving the tobacco in this country.
– They improve the profits of the manufacturers. The figures show a difference of 13 per cent. In other words, for every 100 lbs. of tobacco leaf they have made 113 lbs. of tobacco.
– Is that not likely to obtain under a Government monopoly, in order te meet the popular taste?
.- Has Senator Findley the statistics as to the amount of moisture in the French tobaccos?
– I am concerned just now with the moisture in Australian tobaccos; it is very difficult to get complete particulars in regard to the French monopoly. This 13 per cent, of added moisture indicates that the combine have had an advantage of 1,750,421 lbs., which, at the average value of 3s. id. per lb., shows a profit, from moisture and other additions, of no less than £269,856 for Victoria alone, which amount could be safely doubled for the whole of the Commonwealth. That average value is arrived at from tables contained in the report of the Royal Commission, showing that the average price of the tobacco is 6s. iod. 4-7ths per lb., and when we deduct the taxation and the retailer’s profit, we arrive at 3s. id. per lb. In my opinion, the report of the Royal Commission shows conclusively that there is great dissatisfaction amongst the growers of Australian leaf, because they have not received from the combine the consideration they deserve ; and, so long as the monopoly is permitted to exist, there is little hope for improvement in this connexion. It is notorious that the combine has largely increased female labour in their various factories, and that disputes have occurred, and must continue to occur. The combine has shown great hostility to trade unionism,, or combination of any description. In Australia, the desire to employ female labour is probably due to two causes; first, the females are cheaper; and, secondly, there is greater difficulty in organizing^ any combination of the women employed. When a strong trade union of the women engaged in this industry was formed in Great Britain, the twin brother of the Australian monopolistic institution took occasion to find fault with their work, and to lock them out; and we know how vigorously the combine has fought trade unionism in the United States. For years,, trade unionists in America have devoted much energy in their efforts to get trade unionism recognised by the combine ; but it is notorious that in not one of the combine’s factories is there employed a solitary man belonging to a trade union. Further, the combine is well known for its employment of child labour. In order to prevent any of these evils in Australia, the Commonwealth Government ought to take over the control of the industry : and the time is ripe for such a step. I am satisfied that if the people of Australia were polled to-morrow there would be an immense majority in favour of the principle of the nationalization of monopolies. But honorable senators who oppose this Bill have no faith in the popular judgment, and are doing all they possibly can to prevent the question being submitted to the people. What are they afraid of? A proper expression of public opinion or. a particular question cannot be obtained at a general election, when a hundred and one issues may be placed before the constituencies. I strongly approve of the principle of a referendum, as must every one who believes in majority rule, because then we can have a clear-cut issue.
– But there will not be the clear-cut issue which the honorable senator indicates. If this Bill were on the statute-book now, we could not take over the tobacco industry, because it is net a monopoly.
– Monopolistic institutions have found another friend !
– It is not a matter of monopolistic institutions finding anotherfriend; it is an absolute fact that the High Court would rule that the tobacco industry is not a monopoly.
– I do not know that the High Court would so rule.
– Look at the dictionary and see what is the meaning of “monopoly.” A clear-cut issue would be whether or not the Commonwealth should take over the manufacture of tobacco.
– Would the Government support that idea?
– That is another question.
– The tobacco industry in Australia to-day is almost an absolute monopoly. It is true that there are one or two small independent factories, but they are conducted on sufferance; if the combine exercised its powers, those small factories would be wiped out tomorrow.
– The honorable senator says that the tobacco industry is a monopoly because the combine could wipe out competition, but that the combine does not wipe out competition.
– The evidence shows that the combine has 80 per cent, to 90 per cent, of the trade. To my own personal knowledge, Dudgeon and Arnell, who conduct one of the independent factories, were working full time and nay ing reasonable wages before the creation of the combine, whereas now their factory is almost closed clown. Never before in its long existence has the business of Messrs. Dudgeon and Arnell been so dull ; and this is due to the monopoly.
.- -Is it not a fact that all small industries go down before big and powerful industries?
– Is the depression not due to the cigar-making machinery?
– I am now speaking of tobacco manufacture. Small industries do go down; and these small factories would have gone down long prior to this if it had not been for the appointment of the Royal Commission.
– What will happen to the small factories when the Government take over the monopoly?
– The owners of the small factories would then receive compen- sation, whereas they receive none from the combine.
– Where does the honorable senator propose to find the money to pay the compensation?
– According to the return submitted to the Royal Commission by Mr. Ferguson, one of the Customs House officers, the whole of the building, plant, and machinery owned by private persons throughout the Commonwealth amounts in value to little more than £500,000.
– Does the honorable senator wish to confiscate this property ?
– We are not confiscators ; it is the combine who wish to confiscate. There is nohope for the small manufacturers when the combine is permitted to exist.
– Nor would there be if the Government were to take everthe industry.
– The proprietors of the small factories would then get compensation. Look for a moment at the case of the man Stone, who was dismissed by the combine in Sydney
– And very properly so.
– I ask Senator Findley not to discuss the case of Stone, because it has been discussed here already.
– With all due deference, I think my remarks with regard to Stone are quite in order, because, owing to the action of the combine, it is impossible for him to obtain employment in Australia
– We have already had two discussions on the case of Stone, and we cannot discuss him again.
SenatorFINDLEY.- Well, then, I shall imagine the case of a man employed in a factory belonging to the combine, who, before a properly constituted tribunal., explains the conditions obtaining in that particular factory. Those statements that man repeats on oath before another tribunal, and, subsequently, his employers find fault with him for some reason or another, and dismiss him. That man now has no hope of obtaining employment in his own trade in Australia.
In Committee (Consideration resumed vide page 5598) :
– I desire to say only a few words on this matter. I did not speak on the second reading of the Bill, but I wish now to give a reason for the vote I shall give on the amendment. I consider that this Bill is a bad one. Perhaps, on that account, I should vote against everything connected with it, but, as the amendment would improve the Bill as it stands, I am constrained to support it. In connexion with the last Bill we had under discussion for the alteration of the Constitution, the Government disclosed no policy. In this Billthey disclose a policy which I consider vicious. I object to the imposition of special taxation for special purposes in the way proposed in this measure. The proposal is practically to levy a poor law tax upon the people - a form of taxation which is dying out now in Great Britain. I believe it is a form of taxation which would be resented by the people of Australia. All the expenditure of. the Commonwealth should came out of the Consolidated Revenue. As the Government have not disclosed what they are going to do with the special duties which might be imposed under this Bill, I must certainly support Senator Millen’s amendment, which would specifically indicate the purpose to which the money raised by these special duties must be devoted.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [7.50]. - It appears to me that we are being asked to confer powers upon the Government which might be exercised in a way which we could not approve. Senator Drake has moved an amendment intended to recast the clause, and I would ask the honorable and learned senator whether he contemplates that this is a matter which can be dealt with without first consulting Parliament, both with regard to the special purpose contemplated and also the special duties to be imposed ? I presume, however, that nothing can be done until the matter comes before Parliament again. Senator Millen has proposed an amendment on that movedby Senator Drake, substituting the words “ the purpose of providing a fund for thepayment of old-age pensions” for the words “the special purpose.” One of the baits held out to members of the Federal Parliament to induce them to agree to this
Bill has been the desirability of. instituting a system of old-age pensions that will be applicable to the whole of the Commonwealth. As a matter of policy, I recognise that it would be far better that there should be one system of old-age pensions for the whole Commonwealth rather than that old-age pensions schemes should be adopted in some of the States and not in others. I recognise, “ also, that if a. man resides in one State for a lengthened period, and subsequently removes to another, that should not debar him from the benefit of an old-age pension scheme. The battle for old-age pensions has been fought and won. and the feeling of a majority of the people is in favour of the payment of these pensions. If we had a Bill before us proposing this, honorable senators could count on my vote in favour of it. Under existing conditions, New South Wales and Victoria have established old-age pensions schemes, but if a man resided in SouthAustralia for thirty or forty years, and then came over to Victoria or New South Wales, and resided there fourteen or fifteen years, he would not be eligible for an old-age pension. We ought to regard the Commonwealth in this respect, not as a loose collection of States, but as an amalgamation of States, desiring legislation on distinct lines applicable to all. I question whether those States that have not yet established systems of old-age pensions are prepared at the present time to approve of a proposal of this character. New South Wales pays old-age pensions with a maximum of 10s. per week, and Victoria has a maximum of 8s. per week. These two States between them spend from £700,000 to £800,000 per annum in the payment of old-age pensions, and it is unquestionable that it would be to their advantage if a Commonwealth system were established. Western Australia, as a wealthy State, would probably accept such a proposal readily, but I am not satisfied that Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania would be prepared to do so; nor am I satisfied that the present is an opportune time for the extension of such a system throughout the Commonwealth. There can be no question that the establishment of a Commonwealth system would involve increased expenditure in those States that have not yet .made provision for old-age pensions. We know that the special duties provided for would have to be imposed on articles of almost universal con- sumption, and as it is probable that the poorer people would have lo bear the great share of this taxation,- I feel’ that by the adoption of the system we should be putting the people of the States in a worse position than they are in at the present time.
– Would the honorable senator favour the creation of a fund by direct taxation?
.- I think that direct taxation should be left to the States.
– How would the honorable senator propose to raise the necessary fund?
.- I think we ought first to be satisfied that each of the States is prepared to agree to a constitutional amendment of this character. I may be told that the measure must receive the support of the majority- of the electors in a majority of the States. I point out that New South Wales and Victoria, having already adopted systems of old-age pensions, would be disposed to accept this proposal, whilst its adoption might be detrimental to the interests of Tasmania and South Australia. The people of the latter States would be overwhelmed by the vote cast in the former States, since Victoria and New South Wales have nearly three-fourths of the total population of the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, until we are absolutely satisfied that the smaller States are willing to be taxed in the way proposed to provide pensions for their old people, we ought not to take this decided step inadvance.
– How can we know, unless we allow the people to give- a vote upon the measure?
.- I desire that the people should be informed as to the desirability and possibility of establishing a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions at the present time. With the best feeling towards such a system, I do not believe that the time is ripe for its adoption ; and as at present advised, I do not see my way to support the proposal. We cannot feel absolutely certain that the electors would so fully realize what they were asked to sanction on short notice such as they would get, as they would if afforded a longer opportunity in which to reflect and make up their minds. I think that in this case festina lente is about the best motto for the Committee to observe when such an important and drastic change is sought to be introduced. If the proposed alteration were sanctioned, the members of the Parliament might be led to exercise the power at an earlier date than would be really desirable in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– I hold that it is extremely undesirable that the Parliament should appeal to the people for further powers of taxation until its present taxing powers have been exhausted. That truism, I should think, only needs to be stated to be accepted. The question at once arises - Have we exceeded those powers? So far as the imposition of Customs duties is concerned, we have. But there are many other methods of raising revenue, and I am of opinion that the Constitution ought not to be altered as proposed until we have ‘ exhausted our taxing powers. Senator Gould said he would like to know what are the opinions of the people of Australia on the question of inaugurating a scheme of old-age pensions. I do not feel competent to speak for” the people of the other States, but I think I can vouch for the position taken up by the people of Queensland. Of its fifteen representatives in this Parliament - six in the Senate and nine in the other House - fourteen to my knowledge are pledged to support, or to assist to bring about, the institution of a scheme. That proves conclusively, I think, the attitude which Queensland has taken up. I may go further, and say that fourteen out of its fifteen representatives are pledged, if they can, to see that the money for the purpose is raised, not by imposing additional Customs duties, hut by some form of direct taxation. That is- a point upon which its people have decided without any reservation. I consider that if, for any reason, I disobeyed or acted contrary to that mandate from the electors, I should be betraying the trust which thev have reposed in me. I, ask honorable senators to consider very seriously what they are doing before they vote for the amendment of Senator Drake. . We are discussing a proposal to create an entirely new feature in our system of taxation. I am aware that Ministers and politicians generally have a great respect for precedent. If some other country has followed a particular course, that, in their opinion, is quite a sufficient reason why we should do likewise. But I have not heard of a country during recent times which has sought to impose special duties for a special purpose. In the United Kingdom, so far as my reading goes, all the expenditure on its various departments of government, is defrayed out of the Consolidated Revenue, and such a thing as the- imposition of special duties for special purposes . is not at present known to the Imperial Parliament. Of course, I know that under the system of local government, a number of rates are imposed for- various purposes. The proposal before the Committee, therefore, is contrary to all our experience of government hitherto, and, unless some very good reason can be shown, it ought not to be adopted. If it were a sound principle, to raise special duties for a specific purpose, then I am sure that the Governments. of many older countries, with their very wide experience, would have adopted it long ago. But we cannot find that any Government has taken this extraordinary departure. When a new proposal is made, whether it be in finance or in industrial matters, or in any department of human affairs, it has always to undergo a most microscopical examination. I think that we are in duty bound to make the proposal of the Government run the gauntlet of a discussion. While I do not hold that there is anything sacred about the Constitution - I regard it merely as a tool which we can adapt to our own ends - I do not think that it ought to te altered until every other method of doing what is desired, has been exhausted; until, in short, it is found to be insufficient for the accomplishment of that purpose. Is that so in the present instance? Our taxing powers, so far from having been exhausted, have not yet been fully exercised. Under the Constitution, the Parliament has unlimited taxing powers, and, therefore, we ought not to ask for any new taxing power until they have ‘been used to the very uttermost, and found to be insufficient. Has that been done? I venture to submit that it has not. No attempt has been made to extend the area of taxation, so far as the Commonwealth Parliament is entitled to impose it. Instead of that, we are asked to submit to a referendum of the people an entirely new reading of the Constitution, so far as Customs and Excise revenue is concerned. There is an understanding that two articles which are of common human consumption are to be made to contribute the funds for an oldage pension. Ought we to go to the poorest section of the people, rather than to those who are more liberally blessed with this world’s goods? A large number of the people of Australia find it exceedingly difficult to make a living. They are already heavily taxed. My honorable friend, Senator Givens, showed to-day how unfair, the incidence of taxation is. I propose to go even further, and to show the immense disparity between the amount of taxation levied upon a working man who we will say earns £2 a week, and lias three or four children to support, and a middle-class man earning probably £1,000 a year. The average contribution of each man, woman, ‘and child in the Commonwealth to the Customs and Excise revenue is about £2 5s. per annum. Of course, every man does not pay that. The man who does not drink or smoke, or indulge in any of the luxuries of life escapes.
– I am inclined to think that the honorable senator is a little wide of the mark in discussing the details of taxation which he says will be imposed upon the poorer classes. There is nothing in the Bill to state that there shall be taxes upon tea and kerosene ; and while the honorable senator is entitled to discuss in a general way how the incidence of taxation will fall, I do not think that he is entitled on this amendment to go into such detail as he appears to be giving.
– I am sorry if I have transgressed, but really it is not possible for me to put mv easel as lucidly as I should like to do without going into detail. It is when we throw a search-light upon these details that we discover the enormous difference between the proportion of his income which the poor man pays in taxation, and the proportion of income paid by the comparatively well-to-do-man. Here is the working man almost crouching to the ground under the load of taxation which he bears, while the rich man walks erect, and comparatively free. Yet some of my honorable friends who take a special interest in the working classes actually seek to impose an additional load upon the man who is already overburdened.
– The honorable senator has pointed that out half-a-dozen times.
– I am entitled to do it again. I am surprised that a man like the Minister of Defence, who at one time was not too rich, and knows, or ought to know, that very often the lot of the poor man is one of hardship and penury, should support a proposal of this kind. If we are to have old-age pensions, and we ought to have them, let us go to the right source for the money. Let us not try to salve our consciences with the sophism that we cannot compel the rich to pay, and must have recourse to the poor. Why can we not compel the rich? Have we ever tried ? Has Senator Guthrie, for instance, ever raised his voice in any effective way in the Senate in that direction?
– The honorable senator knows that he has not the numbers.
– I know that perfectly well, but we ought to have the numbers to defeat this contemptible proposition - because that is the only character I can give to it. The Government says that it is in favour of old-age pensions, but in order to raise the funds to pay them, it is going to put the fist of the tax gatherer into the tea billy of every bushman in Australia, and to tax the very light of the peopl’e who live in country places. It reminds me of the light tax imposed by English Governments in a semi-barbarous period.
– This Bill imposes no. taxes whatever.
– That is a mere evasion.
– It is a Bill to open the road to taxation.
– Of course, it is. That is the purpose of it. Honorable senators who use that argument must think we are very silly. What is the purpose of introducing a Bill? It is to make a reference to the people for authority to raise more taxation through the Customs. It has been pointed out bv the Minister that the particular commodities which it is proposed to tax are tea and kerosene.
– Not proposed, but suggested.
– And because tea and kerosene are not mentioned in the Bill, am I not to be allowed to refer to them? Surely we are discussing the question as business men?
– Nc, we are not.
– 1 am sorry that the method I am adopting is not agreeable to the honorable senator. 1 regret that t cannot accommodate mv conduct to his ideas. I should be delighted if 1 could, but as I cannot, I must just proceed in my own way. In discussing this, and every
Other measure, we must have regard, not to the letter, but to the spirit, intention, and purpose of the proposal : and that is what I am attempting to do now. Senator Trenwith ought to remember that there is something beyond the mere carrying of this Bill in the Senate or in the Parliament. If the amendment is carried, there will be a referendum, and the electors will desire to know what particular, articles the Government or Parliament desire to tax, and the particular purpose for which the taxation is imposed. That ‘being the case, I think we ought to be permitted to discuss the question in those relations here - and not only permitted, but encouraged. A large number of my constituents in Queensland read Hansard much more faithfully than, probably, some honorable senators read their Bible. When they hear of this proposition of the Government, they will want to know what it means, and they will go to Hansard to find out.
– May I remind the honorable senator that the amendment before the chair is to leave out the words “ a special purpose,” and to substitute “for the purpose of providing a fund for the payment of old-age pensions”?
– That’ is exactly the question I am attempting to discuss. I was pointing out that if this Bill be carried, the question of old-age pensions, and of finding ways and means for the pensions, will be discussed throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– It is not a question of the Bill, but a question of an amendment, and it is that amendment which should be discussed.
– The amendment is a proposal to alter the Bill, and, if T discuss the amendment, surely I may discuss the Bill? In any case, if I am out of order, I shall” hot pursue that line of reasoning any further, although I Believe it is an exceedingly profitable one, which might very well be followed bv honorable senators who are scouting this proposal. As I intimated earlier in the debate, I intend to vote for the amendment proposed by Senator Millen, though I must confess that I do so very much against my will. I vote for the amendment, first, because I absolutely object to public moneys being ear-marked for any purpose whatever.
– Therefore the honorable senator would ear-mark this money.
– Therefore I wish to be consistent. I am opposed to the earmarking of public money for any purpose whatever, but if the Government will persist in seeking authority to raise taxation without saying from what source or for what purpose, I think I am quite justified in nailing them down, if I’ can, to the particular purpose of this Bill. I do not desert my principles, but I am compelled to do something which is in opposition to these principles ari consequence of the proposal of the Government. As Senator Playford said some time ago, the Government might use this money for anything - they might use it for defence purposes or they might levy taxation in a way which would seriously interfere with some of our industries. The Government might do many things under cover- of this Bill to which I should seriously object. That being the case, I think I am not only justified, but quite consistent in seeking to limit their power. Senator Trenwith spoke as a member of a Government would speak. The honorable senator said, “ We want this power for a particular purpose, but in case we should require it at some future period for something else, do not let us tie ourselves up; let us have all the freedom we possibly can.” That may be the honorable senator’s idea, but it is not mine, because I want to tie the Government down to a particular expenditure. I know I am departing from my ordinary principles in this matter, but I consider I am justified by the situation.
– The honorable .senator is lucky to find justification.
– If Senator Clemons does not agree with me-
– I envy the honorable senator, and only wish I could find justification for voting for the Bill.
– I consider I am justified by the situation in taking the course which I propose to take. There is, I believe, an old principle that a bargain entered into by force or fraud is not legal. I do not say there is any fraud in this, although there is-
– To put it mildly, there is suspicion. At any rate, there is some force, and if the majority is with the Government I am compelled, against my will, to agree to a measure which I consider to be detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth. That- being the case,
I think I am entitled to provide every safeguard. That is one reason why I propose to vote for Senator Millen’s amendment, which I hope will be carried ; and if honorable senators who are voting for the Bill are wise, it will be carried. The professed object and intention of the whole measure is the institution of, an old-age pensions scheme. If that be so, why not have it stated in black and white in the Bill?
– The Government say that that is not the intention.
– The Government say that it is not, and that it is the intention ; they “ blow hot and cold,” and nobody knows what they mean. I can understand Senator Trenwith’s position and feeling. He was at one time a member of a Government) and desired to have the widest latitude - no confinement, “ give me room 1” We have Had so much experience of the untrustworthiness of Governments, and of their tendency to laxity in dealing with public affairs, that we ought to be extremely careful with regard to any powers we may confer. For instance, I have heard of a Parliament which, in a virtuous moment, established a sinking fund for the redemption of the public debt. But when the money was wanted, it was found to have been scooped by the Treasurer to meet some expenditure which had suddenly cropped up; and, after the moneywas gone, the authority of Parliament was asked to validate the Treasurer’s action. Instances of that kind have occurred without number, so that we really do not know what may. happen if we give the Government unrestrained and unrestricted power in this connexion. It was an inspiration on the part of Senator Millen to move this amendment ; and if he will submit another enumerating The articles which he desires should be taxed, I am not sure that I shall not vote with him. I will not promise, however, because I want an opportunity to consider any fresh ideas he may offer. I shall vote for the amendment, reserving to myself the right to vote against the Bill on the third reading, if I think fit.
– It is only fair to intimate that I intend to submit a subsequent amendment. It will be noticed that in the Bill as originally introduced, and in the re-draft prepared by Senator Drake, the expression occurs, “ goods of a description, not liable to Customs and Excise duty on the 1st day of January.” I submit that the words, “ of a description “ will be liable to lead to some complication later on. It seems to me that all we need to say in the Bill, or in the amendment, is simply “goods not liable.”
– That appears to me to be right.
– I suggest that it would be better to dispose of the amendment now before the Committee before dealing with that which the honorable senator has now suggested.
Question - That the words “a special purpose “ proposed to be left out of the amendment be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
– The road having been cleared by the unfortunate loss of my previous amendment, I wish now to invite the’ attention of the Minister and of Senator Drake to what is, perhaps, a matter of phraseology, but might lead to possible complications. The objection I urge to the use of certain words will apply equally to Senator Drake’s amendment and to the Bill as it stands. I find that the phrase “goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties “ is used, and it seems to me that what is wanted is to make available for the special duties all goods not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the 1st January, 1907. The use of the words “of a description “ may possibly lead to complications. For instance, many articles come under the description of apparel that are not liable to duty, but if the Bill became law as it stands, or if Senator Drake’s amendment were adopted as now framed, and the attempt were made to levy a duty for a special purpose upon one article of apparel not now liable to duty, the objection might be taken in the Courts that that particular article came under a description of a general class of goods which were liable to duty. In support of my contention, I quote from the Century Dictionary the following definition of the word “ description “ -
The qualities expressed in a representation. The division and qualities which go to constitute a class or individual, and would be mentioned in describing it, hence a variety, sort, or kind.
We have in our Customs Tariff many articles which are taxed, and are yet of the same kind and description as others which are free. In order that it may be abundantly clear that we are asking power to levy taxation for special purposes upon goods not liable to Customs duty on the 1 st January next, and are not exempting all goods which by a Customs interpretation or trade usage might be held to be goods of the same description as goods which are already taxed. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “of a description.”
– I thank the honorable senator for calling my attention to this matter. As soon as he mentioned it it struck me that there was a redundancy about the phrase, to say the least, and that it is quite sufficient to say “ goods not liable to Customs or Excise duties.” The phrase used in the Tariff is “ dutiable goods.” It is possible that the use of the words “of a description” would involve some curtailment of the powers we seek under this measure, since of a number of articles under a common description some are dutiable and others are not. It might be argued that goods not dutiable could not be taxed under this measure, because they came under a certain description, covering goods which are dutiable. I am prepared to accept the amendment suggested.
.- I am prepared to accept the decision of the Committee. Still, in a matter of this kind, when we are amending the Constitution, we should carefully consider whether these words are absolutely without meaning. I suggest that the Minister should get some advice on the subject from such Customs authority. It might be that as used in the Bill th~y have a very important meaning. I suggest that their use here probably means that these special duties of Customs must not be imposed upon any article belonging to a certain classification. Let me put a specific example. We have in the Tariff the heading “Apparel,” which I take to be a general description, and under that heading there are certain articles expressly exempt from duty. They are allowed to come in free in order to assist in the production of apparel in Australia. It is possible that the use of the words “of a description” might mean that we must not impose special duties upon those goods.
– Surely that is not intended.
– I do not know what is intended. When I find these words “ of a description “ used in the Bill I assume first of all that they are put in with some object. Presumably the gentleman who drafted the Bill had instructions, and probably had the advantage of the experience of some Customs! officer. I start with the presumption that the words; are not superfluous, but have been put in with an object, and have some meaning. If they have, we should know what it is. I have considered the matter for some little time, and have looked up the Customs Act, and it occurs to me that the use of the words in this Bill means that we can impose a special tax upon articles of a certain description where no dutv has previously been imposed on articles of that description, but that if a duty has been imposed upon goods of that description as in the case of apparel, we must not impose a special duty under this measure on articles of that description, although they may now be duty free.
– That would limit our powers.
– It might be a serious limitation.
– It would not limit our powers, but it would impose a limitation on the power which is being sought by this Bill.
.- By the technical meaning which Senator Drake has attached to “ description” he has supplied the very reason why the words should be left out as the Government have agreed to do. I believe with Senator Millen that their retention would be calculated to cause serious difficulty in regard to interpretation, and, perhaps, to curtail the intention of Parliament. The idea is, I think, that every article which at present is not taxed should be liable to taxation hereafter. But the words “of a description,” if they have any meaning at all, are calculated to limit that intention. In fact, they might, to a very large extent, nullify the measure. In the Customs Tariff Act we do not meet with words such as are proposed to be inserted in this Bill. Section 5, for instance, says -
The duties of Customs specified in the schedule are hereby imposed according to the schedule, as from the time of the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, or such other later dates as are mentioned in the schedule, in regard to any particular items, and such duties shall be deemed to have been imposed at such time and dates, and shall be charged, collected, and paid to the uses of the King for the purposes of the Commonwealth on all goods dutiable under the schedule -
Similar words are used in a succeeding section. In my opinion, the Government have acted wisely in agreeing to adopt the suggestion of Senator Millen.
.- In connexion with the ‘schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, another example has just occurred to me. In my previous speech, I referred to the division under the head of “Apparel and Textiles.” The next division is headed “Metals and Machinery.” Articles in that division might be taken to be another description of goods. To different articles various duties are attached; but, in the list of special exemptions, we find -
Agricultural machinery and implements, viz., chaff cutter knives, hand-worked seed wheel drills and hand worked cultivators, huskers, and shellers, horse rakes -
If the words “of a description” have the meaning which has been suggested by Senator Millen, and are omitted, then special duties of Customs could be levied on particular articles which, in that Act, were exempted for a special reason. The words may have been inserted in the provision for the express purpose of preventing special duties being raised on particular articles which it was the policy of the law to exempt. I feel quite sure that it was not the intention of the framers of the amendment that the special duties should be raised on such articles. In my opinion, the Government would do well to take the advice of the Comptroller-General of Customs on the point.
– If I thought that there was any danger in my amendment, I would agree with Senator Drake as to the advisability of getting expert advice. If he had examined the schedule to the Customs Tariff Act a little more carefully, he would have found the strongest possible argument for its adoption. Take, for instance, the article which it is generally assumed would be taxed if the Bill became law. Under what description of goods does kerosene come? It comes under “ oils.” Seeing that oils are goods of a description not only liable to, but actually taxed, it might be contended that kerosene would not be subject to taxation. It is because I can see no danger in omitting the words, but unlimited possibility of danger if they were retained, that I press the amendment.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 2 (Alteration of section 87) -
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [9.13]. - I wish to move an amendment in the clause.
– The Committee has just inserted after clause 1 a new clause to take the place of clause 2, which it is proposed to negative.
– I understand that I cannot move the omission of the words “ specific purposes “ with a view to inserting the words “ old-age pensions ?”
– I was not following the proceedings closely at the moment, as I was busily engaged on another public matter. But, of course, if the clause is to go by the board, I cannot move the amendment,’ and, with very great regret, I shall have to carry out my announced intention of voting against the third reading of the Bill.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th September, vide page 5276): -
Clause 2 -
Section 105 of the Constitution is altered -
By omitting the words “ as existing at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or a proportion thereof, according to the respective number of their people, as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ or any part thereof “ ; and
By inserting, after the word “ convert,” the word “ redeem.”
– I have an -amendment to propose in this clause. It has been pointed out that under the Constitution, as it stands, ifthe Commonwealth takes over a certain proportionof the debt of any State, it has to take over a proportionate amount of the debts of the other States, according to population. It was urged that that was not necessary. I propose to meet that criticism by leaving out the words “ a proportion thereof, according to the respective number of their people as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth,” and inserting “any part -thereof.”
– I have a previous amendment to move of a similar character to that which I moved on the Constitution Alteration (Special Duties) Bill, and which the Government accepted. “ The object of it is to effect the contemplated alteration of the Constitution by the addiction of a fresh section rather than by amending the text. In anticipation of the proposal of the Government just announcedby Senator Playford, to omit the -words of clause 2 with regard to the proportion of debt, I have regarded the Bill as having been already amendedby the omission of the words indicated by Senator
Playford. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “1A. The Constitution is altered by the addition of the following section: - ‘The powers of the Parliament relating to the public debts of the States shall extend to debts incurred since the establishment of the Commonwealth.’ “
– I wish the Minister would explain whether it is intended that the provision shall apply to future debts, or whether it will merely apply to those incurred between the establishment of the Commonwealth and the passing of this Bill ?
– Itcoversanyfuture debts.
– I think those responsible for the alteration should explain it.
– I suggest to Senator Drake that he should substitute the word “after” for “ since.”
– I think not.
– Would not the word “ since “ be open to this construction : That it referred only to debts incurred after the establishment of the Commonwealth and up to the passing of this Bill ?
– The word “extend “ makes that quite clear.
– It seems to me that the word “ since “ has a much more limited sense than the word “ after.” The amendment provides that the debts incurred “since,” shall be taken over. In tenyears time, might not that be taken to mean that debts incurred between now and then could not be taken over?
– Senator Drake, in proposing this amendment, has, I think, very ‘properly followed the exampleof the amendment already inserted to-day in another Bill dealing with a constitutional alteration. He has given close consideration to that point ; andwhile it was considered at one time that it would perhaps be more desirable to insert the words relating to “ taking over “ the public debts they have been left out, because although section 105 of the Constitution has the marginal note “Taking over public debts of States,” it also provides for doing something else with them. Therefore, those words have not been inserted in the amendment. With regard to what Senator Pearce has said, I wish to remark that the proposed amendment has regard to every possible contingency. so far as I am able to judge it. The words “ shall extend to the debts incurred since the establishment of the Commonwealth “ leaves no loop-hole such as Senator Pearce has suggested.
– With one exception, and that is that the word “ redeem “ is not in the Constitution ; it is in clause 2 of the Bill.
– I do not think it is needed.
– May I recall the position, and then Senator Playford will be ableto judge whether the word “ re- . deem “ is necessary. The objectof the Bill is simply to extend the power of the Commonwealth to enable it to deal with £202,000,000 ofpublic debt instead of with £236,000,000. The Constitution does not use the word “ redeem “ with regard to debt incurred before Federation, and it is not necessary to use it simply with regard to the £34,000,000, or any future debt that we might desire to take over under section 105. Does the Minister want to do more than section 105 enables us to do in regard to converting, renewing, or consolidating debts? I do not think he does. I attach no special value to the. word “ redeem,” and if it is introduced it may upset the agreement which we seem to have come to in regard to Senator Drake’s amendment.
– I see no harm in inserting the word “redeem,” but will not insist if there is the slightest doubt about it.
– I can assure Senator Playford that I cannot see the slightest harm in leaving out the word, whilst if he insists upon it, he may raise a debatable point on the question. Some senator may want to know exactly what “ redeem “ means, and might insist on being told what and how the Government intend to “redeem.” I urge the Minister to accept Senator Drake’s amendment as it is, and not to trouble about that word.
– All right, I shall accept the clause at it stands.
– I took no notice of the word “ redeem” for the reason that it appeared to me to be connected with those particular words which the Minister has now omitted.
– Hear, hear ; that was the reason the draftsman put them in.
– The Bill, as presented, struck out the provision which required that when any part of the debts was taken over, a proportion should be taken over from each State. According to the learned authors of the annotated Constitution, that was the reason why the word “ redeem “ was inserted.
– Let us pass the clause as we have it; I will accept it.
– The fact that the Government have agreed to accept the amendment eliminating that portion of the clause which gives the Minister power to take over any portion of the debts of any States, removesmy principal objection to the Bill. Had that portion of the clause remained, there would have been power on the part of the Government to exercise an injurious discrimination between State and State. It might be argued that no Government would do such a thing, and very probably a Government would not ; but I do not believe in leaving it in the power of any Government to do wrong when we can provide safeguards on the face of a. Bill.I voted against the secondreading, but now I have no difficulty in giving my support to the measure. I may further saythat both Sir John Forrest and Mr. Deakin. have assured me that the provision which, we are asked to strike out really does not matter - that it was only inserted for theconvenience of the Treasury officers.
– The amendment is a great improvement in the Bill ; but I should like to be informed at what part of the Constitution it is proposed to insert this amendment. Should it not be made in section 105 ?
– It will be an addendum to the Constitution, if the people approve of it, in the same way as the additional articles appear at the end of the United States Constitution.
– Then section 105 will remain as it is ?
. -My interest in the Bill has largely faded. The chief virtue I saw in the Bill was the proposal to do away with the restriction, because, in my view, that amendment would! have largely assisted in the solution of the question of taking over the States debts. But I supposewe must not aim at the impossible. The only justification the Government can have for this extraordinary revolution is that if they can not get a whole loaf they must be content with half. It seemed quite obvious that the Bill, asoriginally drafted, would not be passed, and, therefore, the Government have to be content with an instalment. I regret the circumstances very much, and if I had an opportunity, I should certainly vote against the proposed alteration.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [9.39]. - I think that Senator Macfarlane’s idea is that the amendment should read, “ That section 105 be amended by the addition of the following words,” and so forth. That would show on the face of the Bill where the amendment was to be inserted in the Constitution - that section 105 was still to stand with an addition. It would also have made the question much clearer to the people who have to vote ; and I suggest to Senator Drake whether it would not be better to have the amendment in that form. I should have liked to say something in regard to the clause itself, but I do not wish to detain the Committee, and I may have an opportunity on the third reading.
– I rather agree with the view taken by Senator Best. It seems to me that the conversion of the debts will be an endless process if it has to be carried on on the basis of so much per head in each State. IamsorrytheGovernmenthavegiven way ; but I presume they thought it better to take an instalment than lose the whole. Honorable senators will see that the lowest indebtedness per head will govern the operation.
– The whole of the debts could be taken over.
– But only at so much per head of each State.
– Whatever, is taken from one State must be taken from the others.
– If the debt in Victoria be £48 per head, no more of the debt of New South Wales than£48 per head could be taken over.
Question - That the proposed newclause be inserted in the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 2 negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. I do not anticipate any difficulty in disposing of this Bill before 10.30 p.m., and so -enabling the order of the day for the second reading of the Bounties Bill, which has been postponed in order to give this priority being dealt with. The Bill has been in the hands of honorable senators for some time. It is very small, so far as its dimensions are concerned, but so far as the State of Tasmania is concerned, it is of no little importance. Shortly stated, the object of the Bill is to bring Tasmania, in the matter of telegraphic communication throughout the Commonwealth into line with each of the other States composing the Union. Honorable senators, and especially those who occupied seats in this Chamber during the first Parliament must by this time be cognisant of the awkward position in which Tasmania has heretofore been placed in the matter of telegraphic communication, not only with the outside world, but with the other States of Australia. At the time Federation was established the cost of telegraphing from Tasmania to Victoria was 2s. for ten words, with address and signature free; 2s. 6d. to New South Wales, 3s. to Queensland and South Australia and, if my memory serves me rightly, 4s. to Western Australia. Of course, corresponding charges were made for messages from those States to Tasmania. Early in the first Federal Parliament a proposal was introduced to reduce these rates. At that time it was proposed to establish what was known as the shilling telegram throughout the Commonwealth, and provision was made accordingly. But so far as Tasmania was concerned, the difficulty that presented itself to the Government of the day lay in the existence of the cable which connected Tasmania with the mainland. Senator Drake, as PostmasterGeneral, on one occasion in connexion with a motion which I had before the Senate referred to that cable as an intrusion on the part of private ownership into the public ownership of the telegraphy of the Commonwealth. The owners of that cable acquired rights from the Government of Tasmania as far back as 1868. They then acquired the exclusive right to submarine telegraphic communication for some twenty or twenty-one years, upon terms and conditions set out in an agreement. Before the expiry of their rights under that agreement, they entered into another for a corresponding period, but in the renewed agreement they gave to the Tasmanian Government the right to fix through telegraphic charges from Tasmania to Victoria, subject to the condition that the Tasmanian Government, no matter what rates they might impose for their telegraphic charges, should guarantee them a message receipts revenue amounting to £5,600 per year. I have already said that at the time Federation was established the cost of a telegram from Tasmania to Victoria was 2s. for every ten words, with address and signature free. Of that sum 6d. went to the Government of Tasmania, 6d. to the Government of Victoria, and the remaining is. to the Cable Company. If the telegram were sent from Tasmania to New South Wales the cost to the sender was 2s. 6d., and of this sum each of the three States - Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales - received 6d., and the Cable Company received is. Since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and the establishment of what is known as the uniform telegraphic charge throughout the Commonwealth of is. for sixteen words, inclusive of address and signature, there has been, so far as Tasmania is concerned, superadded an extra charge of Jd. per word to pay cable charges. That is practically one-half of what is was before. At the time this alteration was made,- the company were receiving a revenue considerably in excess of the £5,600 a year. It was contemplated at the time the charge of Jd. per word was imposed as a special toll on telegrams to and from Tasmania, it would result in the company receiving something less than £5,600 a vear, and there would be a consequent obligation upon Tasmania to make good the Cable Company’s revenue up to that amount. But I understand that the Cable Company has every year since realized at least the revenue of ,£5,600 guaranteed under their agreement with the Government of Tasmania. At the present the position is this : A citizen of the Commonwealth, or any one who happens to be in the Commonwealth, can send a telegram from Melbourne to the remotest part of Western Australia, or the most distant part of the Northern Territory or of Queensland for is. for sixteen words, inclusive of address and signature. Such a telegram might have to pass through the hands of a large number of officers, and to travel thousands of miles, and yet, if a person desired to send it from the nearest part of Victoria to the nearest part of Tasmania, there would be an extra charge of A. per word to be paid to the Cable Company. Honorable senators will see that that must necessarily tend, in comparison with the communication between the other States, to considerably reduce the volume of communication with Tasmania. In other words, it is a charge which keeps Tasmania commercially, socially, and politically separated from her neighbours to an extent to» which it is not desirable that any one State of the Union should be severed from her sister States. We propose in this Bill to abolish this special charge of Jd. per word from the 1st October next. I point out to honorable senators that every one on this side of Bass Straits in the Commonwealth who isin the habit of communicating with Tasmania by means of the telegraphs will benefit to just the same extent as any Tasmanian who wishes to correspond by telegraph with people in the other States. Thecost to the Commonwealth will be £^5,600 per annum, and that will be allocated in something like the following proportions: - New South Wales will pay £2,061, Victoria £1,684, Queensland £730, South. Australia £523, Western Australia £352,. and Tasmania £250. When I say that the cost to the Commonwealth will be £5,600’ per annum, I mention the extreme figure, because, even though this Bill be carried, there will still be some special charges in connexion with cable communication with Tasmania. At present, so far as privatetelegrams are concerned between residentsof the other States and Tasmania, and’ vice versa, there is, as I have said, in addition to the ordinary Commonwealth charge, a charge of Jd. per word. Oppress messages between the mainland and< Tasmania, there is super-added to the ordinary press telegraphic charges for InterState messages a is. cable charge for thefirst 100 words, and 6d. for each additional fifty words. These additional: charges will be abolished if we pass thisBill. I think I can say that, in consequence, the press of the one ocean Stateof the Commonwealth will be able to securea greater amount of information respecting political doings in the sister - States and in the Seat of Government for the time being of the Commonwealth. That advantage would not be confined toTasmania, it would be reciprocal. The Bill deals with Commonwealth telegraphicrates only, and, therefore, the charges inrespect of international telegrams are not affected. So far, we have only legislated’ in regard to. the charges on telegraphicmessages within the Commonwealth, and” this Bill does not propose to go any further. In regard to international telegrams threepence per word is charged over the cable on ordinary and Government telegrams, and ijd. per word on press telegrams. Those charges are inclusive in respect of all telegrams from Europe, Even with the abolition of the charge in respect of Inter-State telegraphy, there would still be a little revenue derivable by the cable company from other international messages. So far as press cable messages are. concerned, the through charge to Tasmania is the same as to Victoria, but when they come from the East, say, from Manila or Hong Kong, the international rale of ijd. per word would apply, and so with private messages.
– What is the cause of the exception ?
– They are through charges from the other end. We have not of course yet dealt with the charges on telegrams going outside the Commonwealth. If the Bill be passed, the amount to be paid to the cable company would be under £5,600 a year. It is of such slight importance that it need hardly be taken into consideration. We in Tasmania have been labouring under a great disadvantage. For some time, we have had a considerable reduction on pre-existing rates. I understand that, by reason of such reduction, there has been an increased volume of traffic. I have not yet been able to ascertain what the exact increase has been. At any rate, it must have been of no small importance, because the estimate of the Department that a charge of one half-penny per word would not yield £5,600 per year has been not only falsified, but that sum has been considerably increased. I believe that the amount received by the company has been nearer £7,000. What I wish to impress upon honorable senators is that when a wire of sixteen words is sent from Victoria to South Australia, or Queensland, or New South Wales, or Western Australia, it goes for is., although it may have to pass through a dozen offices. But if it is sent from Victoria to Tasmania, and has to pass through only two or three offices, the cost to the sender is is. 8d. Of that sum, 6d. goes to Victoria, 6d. to Tasmania, and 8d. to the cable company. For every additional word, one penny halfpenny is charged, of which one half-penny goes to Victoria, Tasmania, and the company respectively. If a citizen “on either side of the Strait could send a telegram of sixteen words for is. instead of is. 8d., perhaps he would be inclined to send twice as many messages. The present rates are such that if reduced by eliminating the cable charge, the traffic must be increased, and every penny of the resultant increase would go into the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth, to be credited to one State or other. It will, therefore, be seen that £5,600 is a very small sum to ask the Commonwealth to pay for doing this act of justice to Tasmania, and bringing her into the same telegraphic relation with the other States as thev now occupy in respect to each other. I believe that very little time indeed would elapse, before the increase in the revenues of the States affected would amount to £5,600, and more, so that practically we should be .getting reduced charges, increased communication, and the amount paid to the cable company would be recouped to the Commonwealth. I feel, from expressions I have heard here on previous occasions when I have spoken on this subject, that I can with the utmost confidence commend the Bill to the kindly reception of honorable senators. I trust, sir, that they will be mindful of your hint, and that we may be able to emulate the example of another place, and, perhaps, get it put through all its stages before half-past ten o’clock.
– It is with great pleasure that I have heard the statement of the Minister. Four years ago, when the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill was before the Senate, I urged that equality amongst the States ought to be our first consideration. I have always held that it was not fair to charge is. 8d. for the transmission of a telegram to Tasmania, when on the mainland a message could be sent from Thursday Island to Western Australia for is. The Bill will abolish this injustice, and though it is estimated that the immediate result will be a. loss of £5.600 to the revenue, the increase in business will very soon make that up again. The whole Commonwealth will benefit by this reduction in rates, because a great number of persons on the mainland have occasion to send telegrams to Tasmania, especially in regard to mining matters.
. I regard the Bill as a tardy attempt to do justice to the people of Tasmania, who have been under a disadvantage in regard to the transmission of telegrams ever since the State entered the Federation.
– But the honorable senator and other representatives of Tasmania have consistently tried to get the law altered.
– Yes ; thoughwithout success. However, I do not claim any credit for what I have done. I am glad to welcome this little stranger now. Senator Keating might have said a little more to show that the other States will practically lose nothing by this reduction in rates. The estimated loss to the Commonwealth as a whole is .£5,600, which will be distributed amongst the six States on a per capita basis ; but it is extremely likely that the increase of business which will result will soon make up that loss. The fact that while telegrams could be despatched between any two points on the mainland for is., a higher rate was charged for Tasmania has, no doubt, kept many people from using the cable. I indorse Senator Keating’s statement that the increase in traffic will, in a few years, make good any probable loss.
– Those who remember the debates which took place in 1902 on the Postal Rates Bill, are aware that the provision which it is now proposed to alter, was inserted bv me as Postmaster-General of the day, though with very great reluctance. It was struck out of the Bill, but restored, not with the desire to place burdens upon the people of Tasmania, but because it was thought that the Constitution compelled us to make this extra charge. I have always thought the arrangement an un-Federal one, and was in favour of treating Tasmania and the mainland States equally. But it appeared to me, and to the officers of the Department, that reading together sections 89 and 93 of the Constitution, we could not make the cable rate a Federal charge. Section 89 of the Constitution provides the manner in which the expenditure of a transferred Department shall be dealt with, and deals with the crediting of revenue and the debiting of expenditure. Section 93 gives effect to that provision for the first five years of the imposition of uniform duties, and thereafter until Parliament shall otherwise provide. The sub-section says -
Subject to the last sub-section, the Commonwealth sim” credit revenue, debit expenditure, and pay balances to the several States, as prescribed, for the period preceding the imposition of uniform duties of Customs.
Section 94, that has not been referred to, deals with the distribution of the surplus, providing that it may be on such a basis as may seem fair to Parliament. Here is the point which seems to me to be exceedingly important in connexion with this Bill, and which I should like the Minister to consider. I do not express a definite opinion upon it. Under the first part of section 93, coupled with the sub-section I have mentioned, it is provided that the. revenue is to be credited, and the expenditure debited during the period mentioned, and thereafter “ until the Parliament otherwise provides.” This bookkeeping period will expire next Monday week. I suggest to the Minister that it is not a strained reading of the section, that after next Monday week in respect to crediting revenue or debiting expenditure, Parliament may deal with the matter as it pleases. If the Minister thinks that there is anything in that contention the date of this Bill might very well be altered.
– This was not an expenditure. It was a guarantee. It has not been operative.
– Has it not?
– No. It was not expenditure at all. We did not pay the guarantee.
– Did we not pay anything to the cable company?
– This is over and above the subsidy paid to the company. We are making a guarantee operative which has not been operative previously.
– It appears to me to be perfectly possible after next Monday week to deal with the matter of crediting revenue and debiting expenditure as Parliament pleases.
– That point was gone into bv the Attorney-General, who advises that it can be done.
– This Bill is to come into operation on the 1st October; so that evidently the advice of the AttorneyGeneral was not that this might be made Federal expenditure in consequence of the bookkeeping ‘period having run out.
– It was not in consequence of that.
– Then the opinion of the Attorney-General is, I take it, different from the opinion that was prevalent in T902 when the Postal Rates Bill was, passed. The opinion held then was that we were debarred by the bookkeeping sections from making this Federal expenditure. I should rejoice very much if in consequence of the bookkeeping section having now practically expired, we could substitute a different method of distributing expenditure and revenue connected with transferred Departments.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [10.25]. - I am not opposed to the Bill, because I realize that under circumstances where all the States ought to be equal, Tasmania is at a disadvantage at present.. For instance, a few months ago I was at Thursday Island and was going to Port Darwin. I wanted to secure a bedroom there, and sent a telegram from Thursday Island. That message travelled all the way through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia to Adelaide, and then all the way by the transcontinental line to Port Darwin. That message involved an expenditure of is. But if I had wanted to send a similar telegram to Launceston, I should have had to pay a larger sum. That is certainly not a Federal arrangement. The Bill is one that aims at achieving a proper reform in that respect, and I hope it will be carried. I like to support measures brought in by a Ministry to which I am in some respects naturally opposed, and in this instance the measure deserves support. If I can send a telegram from Thursday Island to the extreme limits, of Western Australia - say, to Wyndham - for is., it does seem rather absurd that it should cost more to send a telegram from Queenscliff to Burnie or Devonport, or even to Tamar Heads. Of course, the cable is expensive, but I suppose that a telegraph line through the wilds of Cape York, and portions of Western Australia is also costly to maintain. In fulfilment of our Federal understanding we should make our telegraph rates uniform. It therefore gives me pleasure to support the Bill.
– 1” rise as aR inquirer regarding this matter. Possibly, before the Bill leaves the Senate I shall be asked to cast a vote, and I am now very much in the dark as to which way my vote ought to be recorded.
– The honorable senator expresses some surprise, but if I use an argument regarding the measure with which he was in entire agreement a few days ago, when its principle was ap- plied to another proposal before the Senate, he will admit that I have some reason for my doubt. I take this to be a proposal, one of the objects of which is to transfer from a State to the Federation expenditure which that State’ under the Constitution ought legitimately to bear. I am not saying that there is anything wrong in a State asking to be relieved from an- obligation ; but I say that, under the circumstances, the Ministry ought to be in a position to make out a special case in regard to this particular proposal. I remind honorable senators that the bookkeeping ‘period continues in operation, and will continue, until Parliament makes some other provision. Under the bookkeeping sections, the whole of the revenue in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department in Tasmania is credited to that State, and I desire to knew why this portion of the service should be singled out and made a Federal charge.
– There is the “ streak of blue “ between Tasmania and the mainland.
– My friend must think there is a streak of green somewhere, or he would not thus attempt to impose on our innocence. Of course it is open to the Government to devise another scheme in the place of the bookkeeping system, but the latter is now in force. I contend that, so far, a case has not been made out why we should remove the cable service between Tasmania and the mainland from the operation of the bookkeeping section. Before I can consent to this transfer, I am entitled to ask the Minister, or the representatives of Tasmania^ to offer some sounder reason than I have yet heard. I want to hear some sound business reason advanced for the change.
– I cannot understand the brevity of the speech in which the Minister introduced this Bill. There is no doubt that this is an important measure, which should not be hurled at us in this manner. It is difficult for ma to understand why the people of Kalgoorlie should be taxed to find money for a cable from which they can never benefit. The introduction of this Bill scarcely occupied five minutes.
– I spoke for just seventeen minutes.
– How many minutes were the Senate occupied in considering another measure, the name of which I need not mention.
– We did not count that time by minutes.
– When we consider the time which was spent over the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie Railway Survey Bill, it is wonderful bow quick a change has come over the scene. We find Senator Clemons crossing the floor and indulging in friendly confab with the Honorary Minister. Why this change from bitterness to blandness? A change which almost entitles Senator Clemons to be called a political Chesterfield.
– There was no bitterness so far as I am concerned.
– Does all this change arise from the fact that one State is getting at the Commonwealth purse? The Senate- is entitled to more information than it has received on .this question. I am sure that the representatives of Tasmania cannot have sufficient cast-iron cheek to hope that Western Australian representatives will vote for a measure of this kind. I should like to have some explanation of that, and if Senator Keating is unable to give it at this stage, perhaps some other representatives of Tasmania may be able to do so. We are entitled to know why the people of Western Australia should be asked to take upon themselves this responsibility, in order to pay something for the people of Tasmania, which they have rightly had to pay themselves in the past. With the solitary exception of Senator O’Keefe, the whole of the representatives of Tasmania in the Senate are enthusiastic supporters of the principle of private enterprise. They are getting a taste of private enterprise through this cable, and I ask why thev should be so anxious to get rid of its blessings?
– This is not getting rid of it. It is paying for it.
– No; it is asking other people to pay for it. It should not be forgotten that Tasmania is the most lightly taxed State in the Commonwealth, and it is a shameful thing that the people of a State which is naturally as rich as any of £he other States, should ask Western Australia to bear a burden which she should not be asked to bear.
– I remind the honorable senator that he has used that argument five times
– I am sorry that I should be obliged to use it so often.
– It is not in order for the honorable senator to continue to repeat the same argument.
– Tasmania is an extremely wealthy State, and as it is small and compact, its Postal Department should be worked most economically, as compared with the expenditure necessary to carry on that Department in the other States, that are now being asked to tax themselves in order to relieve Tasmania. Some of the centres of population of Western Australia are almost 2,000 miles apart, and it is unfair that that State should be asked to bear the whole of the expense of maintaining a Post and Telegraph Department over a great area, and at the same time bear a load which the people of Tasmania ought to bear.
– That is about the sixth time the honorable senator has used the same argument, and I warn him that standing order 407 provides that -
I.: any honorable senator is guilty of tedious repetition, the President may direct him to discontinue his speech.
I warn the honorable senator that he has already made use of the same argument five or six times.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of the number of messages sent to and from Tasmania?
– We have no information as to the number qf messages passing between Tasmania and the other States of the Commonwealth. This information should be given us, and we should not be asked to rush the Bill through all its stages in a few minutes. I might very easily prolong my remarks, but I have some consideration for the members of the Hansard staff, who have had a very hard time. I therefore conclude by saying that I recognise that, so far as Senator Keating is concerned, the charge of parochialism which might very fairly be made against other honorable senators representing Tasmania, cannot be made against him. Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) [10.47]. - I think that this Bill redounds very greatly to the credit of Senator Keating. It is a proof that the honorable and learned senator has been very active and successful in the Cabinet in looking after the interests of his own State. Tasmania has been represented in the Federal Government for five years, and this is the first occasion on which we have had a Bill brought forward which removes a grievance which the people of that State might consider they have had. It is fair that it should be stated that the Tasmanian people have themselves to thank for having had this millstone round their necks for so long. It was the result of an agreement entered into between the Tasmanian Government and the private company. The Commonwealth had to take over that agreement in taking over the transferred services. I wish honorable senators from Tasmania to recognise that they do not in this matter occupy a singular position. In addition to the land line between Western Australia and the eastern States, we have also a cable service. Recently our land line broke down and people who were thus compelled to use the cable between Western Australia and the eastern States had to pay a charge of 4d. per word. It is very likely that that wil] happen again, but we have not approached Parliament for any relief. If anything happened to the land lines, we should stand a poor show of getting relief.
– How often has it happened ?
– It has happened on several occasions, extending once over a period of some weeks. Senator Clemons said that he did not wish to claim any credit in connexion with this matter. One has only to read the press of his State to see that he got all the credit in respect of another matter. If he does not get any credit in respect of this Bill, the credit, or discredit, in respect of the other matter has been given solely to him, and, therefore, he ought to be satisfied. Senator Keating said that, prior to Federation, a wire from Tasmania to Victoria cost 2s., of which 6d. went to Tasmania, 6d. to Victoria, and is. to the cable company Under the Commonwealth, the position of Tasmania has been improved, because a. wire can now be sent across the Strait for is. 8d., of which the cable company gets 8d. The guarantee to the company was £5^00. Senator Keating said that its receipts for last year amounted to about £7,000. That represents about 210,000 messages at is. each, so that the Commonwealth has to face the position that it may have to pay 8d. on each message. I think that the Tasmanians, in saying that there would probably be no loss from the reduction of the rate, are more sanguine than they have a right to be. There would have to be an enormous increase of business to make up the guarantee of £5,600. We have only to look at the figures to see that the Commonwealth would have to contribute very largely towards that sum. But, although that is my view, I do not intend to delay the passage of the Bill because I consider that Tasmania is entitled to be placed on an equal footing with the other States in this regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Tasmanian Cable Kates Act 1906, and shall commence 011 the first day of October, One thousand nine hundred and six.
– I was not quite satisfied with the answer which the Minister gave to me by way of interjection, and I propose to move an amendment unless he can satisfy my mind. The great difficulty which confronted us in 1902 was that we could not, as we believed, omit this provision in consequence of the bookkeeping provision. I understood the Minister to say that the Bill is in order because there will not be any expenditure, but I still think that the position now is exactly the same as it was in 1902, and that the Bill involves expenditure. In order that there may be no charge made for transmitting messages by cable, a sum will have to be paid to the company, and the question will arise at once as to the purpose to which it shall be debited. In 1901, we felt that the only way in which we could make the cable free was by making a payment to the company, and then we believed that, by force of the bookkeeping provision, we should be compelled to debit it to Tasmania. I wish to refer briefly to the debate which is reported in Hansard, Volume VII., page 8502. Senator Macfarlane had moved to omit these very words. I am not quite sure now as to what the points were then, but I said -
The whole question of cable agreements with the various States that have joined the Commonwealth has been for some time under consideration, and I think we have arrived at a time now when we shall be able to deal definitely with the matter. I have had the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral upon nearly all the points, and I have now prepared a statement of the whole matter with regard to our relations to the Eastern Extension Company, the Pacific Cable, and this cable between Tasmania and Victoria.
It would appear from that statement that the action taken by the Government, of which I was a member, in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, was based upon the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral. In explaining what the difficulty was, I said -
Another consideration is that during the bookkeeping period we have to debit each State the cost of maintaining these services at the time -of the transfer, and it seems to me that even if we were to pay the Eastern Extension Company for the messages that go over their .cable in order to bring the charges to Tasmania on a level with the telegraphic charges to other parts of the Commonwealth, as the agreement is one entered into by the Tasmanian Government, we should have to debit that State with the amount. If that were so, it would be exactly as broad as’ it is long, and it would be no advantage to the State of Tasmania. It is very much to be regretted that we cannot make .our rates absolutely uniform throughout the Commonwealth, but it seems to me that the fact of that cable, being owned by a private company is an insuperable objection, whichever way we look at it. The onlyway in which I can see any opportunity of benefiting Tasmania in this matter is by treating with the company, and endeavouring in that way to secure a reduction in the present rate.
– We shall have to give them a Quid fro quo, I expect.
– I asked the question because, if these words are considered to be a part of the schedule, I am prepared to move that they be omitted? I am glad that we have the sympathy of the PostmasterGeneral in the matter, and I am also glad to see that the honorable and ,learned senator recognises that it would be only equity to provide for uniform rates throughout Australia. Tasmania is very much a loser financially in this matter, and as pointed out by the PostmasterGeneral, the loss to the Commonwealth will be almost nil during the bookkeeping period.
– Yes, but what advantage will that be to Tasmania if we have to debit Tasmania with what we pay to the company?
That was the difficulty which prevented the Government from making the rates uniform throughout the Commonwealth, as we should have desired to do.
– It is only a question of eight days now.
– If that is so, the honorable senator will remember that Senator Keating said that he has the advice of the Attorney-General that this reduction can be made by the Bill.
– It makes no provision about the allocation of the cost. That is a matter to be dealt with on the Estimates.
– If the Commonwealth has to pay a certain amount to the company in order to free the cable, then according to the view which was taken by the Barton Government, the amount must be debited to Tasmania because it made the agreement. We could not omit the words from the Bill in 1902, because we were fixing certain rates for the despatch of telegrams between the States’, and, unless the special words had been inserted in the Bill, any person would have had the right to send a cablegram to Tasmania at the same charge at which telegrams were despatched to any portion of the mainland. If such a condition had been brought about, we should have had to pay a certain amount to the Eastern Extension Company, and debit it to Tasmania. Senator Keating, as reported at page 8526, said -
There is a good deal in what the PostmasterGeneral has said with regard to Senator Macfarlane’s suggestion, and the effect of carrying it out. Tasmania would have to be debited with the actual amount which the service cost her as’ at the time of taking over.
– Hear, hear. That means the service as at the time of taking over.
– Exactly. At the time of taking over the service, we found that Tasmania had entered into a certain contract with the Eastern Extension Company, and, under the bookkeeping clauses, as we understood them, we should have had to debit Tasmania with any cost that might be involved by bringing about a marked change in the service. I move -
That the word “ first,” line 3, be le,ft out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ninth.”
The alteration will make a difference of only a week in the matter of time; but it will place the Government in a very much better position. Under sections 89 and 93 of the Constitution, Parliament will have power, after the 8th October next, to override the bookkeeping provision in any matter relating to crediting revenue or debiting expenditure. Therefore, the great difficulty that stood in our way in 1902 will be removed.
– - I trust that the honorable senator will not press his amendment. He has quoted my remarks in connexion with a statement he made with reference to a proposal of Senator Macfarlane when the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill was under consideration. If he means to ascribe to me the opinion that it was not competent for the Government bv any means to abolish the cable charges he is attributing to me a view which I never held. Time after time, I urged upon him to take the bold course of abolishing these charges, and I pointed out that it could be done. I indicated that there was a great distinction between a definite cable subsidy and a conditional guarantee. The honorable senator and his colleagues, however, seemed to think that Tasmania was paying, and was chargeable under the Constitution with this guarantee as well as the subsidy of ,£4,200 per annum payable to the Eastern Extension Company. So far as Tasmania is concerned, she is undoubtedly responsible during the bookkeeping period for expenditure as at the time of transfer. She was paying £4,200 per annum bv way of subsidy, and over and above that there was a conditional guarantee to the company of ,£5,600 per annum message rates revenue. Who was responsible for that - Tasmania? Yes, primarily ;’ but at the time of her entry into the Commonwealth, no. Victoria took her share of the responsibility long before the Commonwealth was established, and it was because we in this Parliament reduced the charge from id. to Jd. per word that Victoria was held to have no further liability. She had accepted the responsibility for her portion of the guarantee or. condition that the cable charge should be reduced to id. ; and because the charge was further reduced to Jd., it was held that, although she received the benefit of the reduction, her liability under the guarantee ceased. As a matter of fact, the £5,600 conditional guarantee was not operative, and was not an expenditure of Tasmania. The question of cable communication between Tasmania and the mainland was intermingled with a large number of agreements which a number of the States had entered into with the Eastern Extension Company in connexion with the Port Darwin overland telegraph line and other services. The honorable senator knows that the £4,200 debited to Tasmania was allocated amongst the other States, who were also parties to those other agreements with the Eastern Extension Company. It is all very well to imagine that when Tasmania came over to the Federation she was paying £5,600 to the Eastern Extension Company, but, as a matter of fact, the public on both sides of Bass Strait were paying practically id. per word above the governmental telegraph charges to the company, and making up that amount and more.
The people upon both sides of Bass Strait - not Tasmania - by_ paying since Jd. per word have been bearing the burden of that £5,600. It is the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the other States who have been paying this extra toll before and since Federation - who have been paying the message receipts revenue. That is the point which I repeatedly attempted to impress upon Senator Drake at the time that he was a Minister. The question of the relations of this company with Tasmania have been, at my instance, most carefully considered by the .present Attorney-General, who has recommended that the course proposed can be constitutionally adopted. More than that I cannot say. If Senator Drake will not withdraw his amendment, I ask honorable members to vote against it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report of Committee of Officers on General Scheme of Defence for Australia as submitted by the Committee of Imperial Defence.
Report of Committee of Naval Officers on Naval Defence of Australia in connexion with a memorandum of the Committee of Imperial Defence.
Statement of Schemes for the Defence of the Commonwealth.
Statement of Schemes for Commonwealth Naval Defence.
Immigration : Correspondence with State Premiers re establishing a Commonwealth Office in London.
Ordered to be printed.
Copies of Reports, Recommendation, and Approval in connexion with the promotion of J. G. McLaren, as Clerk. in-Charge, ‘Commonwealth Electoral Office, Sydney; and M. M. Fowles, Clerk, 4th Class, Commonwealth Electoral Office, Adelaide.
Senate adjourned at 11. 14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060927_senate_2_35/>.