2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
– I have to report that on the Call of the Senate yesterday, five senators were absent. Senators Gray and Pulsford sent excuses on the ground of ill-health. Senators Gould and Sir J. H. Symon sent excuses on the ground of private business, and they could not come. Senator Matheson was absent, and his leave of absence had expired. He sent no excuse, and I must leave it to the Senate to decide whether or not any action shall be taken.
– In the circumstances, sir, I think that it is not necessary to take any action.
– What is the use of a Call of the Senate if any honorable senator is to be allowed to take no’ notice of it?
– Senator Matheson is in England.
– Surely the object of a call is to give notice to honorable senators, and not to impose penalties ?
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Preferential trade with South Africa : Correspondence dated 3rd July to 1st October, 1906.
Northern Territory : Correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia, dated 6th and 30th August.
Ordered to be printed.
Report from the Royal Commission on Ocean Shipping Service, with proceedings, minutes of evidence, and appendices.
Debate resumed from 2nd October (vide page 5854) on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
. -As a member of the Tariff Commission, I desire to say a few words on the Bill, but at this late stage of the session I do not think it altogether wise to go into a full discussion of the merits of protection or free-trade.
– Protection or more protection.
– Yes. When the Commission was deliberating upon the evidence with a view to arriving at some conclusions, naturally there was a difference of opinion. Four Commissioners thoughtit advisable that the existing duties ought to be increased on certain conditions, whilst four others considered that, from their point of view, the existing duties were quite sufficient to give all the necessary encouragement to local industries. I suppose I ought to state why I voted for the recommendations in favour of the imposition of increased duties. In the various States’, the Commission took a vast body of evidence with respect to not only harvesting machinery, but agricultural machinery generally. But, so far, the discussion in the Senate has centered round harvesting machinery.
– We are reserving the discussion on the other machinery for the Committee stage.
– If the discussion on the Bill in Committee is going to he as exhaustive as the debate on its second reading, then I suppose that we shall be here until Christmas, if not longer.
– I think that we might finish by the end of next month.
– Another striking feature of the discussion is that, in the view of those who have spoken, there is no manufacturer in Australia but Hugh Victor McKay. Apparently he is the only individual who has agitated for the imposition of increased duties, and given any reasons why they should be levied. The Bill deals exclusively with agricultural machinery, including harvesters. In most of the States the Commission found that factories for the production of various kinds of agricultural machinery had been in existence for years, and had sprung up under various conditions. The opinion was almost universally expressed by the manufacturers that the imposition of increased duties was necessary. There were very few instances in which the witnesses asked for increased duties for the purpose of raising the price to the consumer. The evidence tended to show that these industries were in danger from foreign competition owing to the greater aggregation of capital in America and elsewhere.
– Does not the Australian Industries Preservation Act provide some remedy?
– That was not before the Commission. The honorable senator knows very well that that measure met with as much opposition as is now being directed to the proposed increase of duties. Honorable senators opposite have no right to shelter themselves behind the Act referred to.
– No; but we want to nail the honorable senator to his declaration regarding it.
– If the honorable senator looks at my declaration, I am afraid that he will experience some difficulty in carrying out the nailing operation. I do not believe that the Act, viewed from the point of view of honorable senators opposite, will be very effective. I conceive that it will probably have a deterrent effect upon trusts and monopolies in Australia, and to that extent prove beneficial; but it cannot operate in any appreciable degree in regard to trusts in other parts of the world. The cry of honorable senators opposite, when the Australian Industries Preservation Bill was before us, was: “Why not come honestly forward with proposals for the imposition of higher protective duties?” Now that the Government, acting upon ‘the recommendation of a section of the Tariff Commission, are coming forward with proposals for increased duties, they are being met with just the same objections that were urged against the Bill referred to. It was not with the idea of obtaining increased prices for their productions that any of the manufacturers of agricultural machinery put forward their claims for higher duties. They feared that unfair competition on the part of trusts and combines in other countries would have a prejudicial effect upon their industry, and I think that the experience of the past has been quite sufficient to justify their alarm. Several manufacturers in South Australia gave very straightforward evidence with respect to not only harvesting machinery but other agricultural appliances, and honorable senators have only to turn to the evidence of Messrs. J. F. Martin, Bagshaw, and Rees, in order to ascertain that they have no fear of Australian competition. When it was suggested that manufacturers in other countries might come to Australia, the gentlemen referred to unanimously declared that they had no fear. They said, “ Let them come here and compete with us under similar conditions, and we are prepared to take our chance.”That really is the substance of their evidence. Some of these manufacturers have been known to me for many years, andI would readily accept their word upon a question of this kind, because I believe that they are honest in their endeavours to do the best they can for themselves and the country in which they live. I should like to call attention to one feature of the recommendations of the Commission. Many Australian manufacturers and inventors complain that, after having devoted their time, intelligence, and money to the development of machinery and implements suitable to our conditions of climate and soil, copies of their inventions have been taken to America and imitated there by manufacturers, who have immediately sent their products over to Australia, with the object of underselling those engaged in the Australian industry. At the same time, it was pointed out that if machinery developed in America were copied in other parts of the world, it could not be introduced into the markets of the United States of America, because of the prohibitive Tariff restrictions imposed there. Hence our manufacturers considered that they had a just claim for protection against the manufacturing organizations of the United States. It will be noticed that agricultural machinery and implements which have been invented or developed in Australia, such as combined harvesters, stripper-harvesters, stump-jumping ploughs, and seed drills are given a distinct preference.
– Does the honorable senator contend that one country should not reproduce the inventions of another?
– No, but I say that it is very unfair that one country should reproduce the inventions of another and send back machines to compete with those who brought about the improvements, whilst at the same time keeping their markets closed against imitations of their machinery.
– We have not one invention that is not founded upon or drawn from an invention of some other country.
– That is going a long way back. Noah invented shipbuilding, and, according to the honorable senator, that fact would preclude any country from claiming a specialty in that line.
– Who says that Noah invented shipbuilding?
– I am referring to the first recorded instance of shipbuilding. If any of the ancestors of the honorable senator were sailing about the globe before the time of Noah, I shall be very glad to hear about them. Specialties in the way of machinery and appliances and methods of construction may be founded upon ideas which have been in existence for thousands of years, and any developments of this kind belong to the country in which they take place, just as fully as if the original idea had been conceived there. Take, for instance, the stump-jumping plough. Would any honorable senator say that that development originated in any other country? The idea of the plough was conceived thousands of years ago, but this particular development was first brought into practical use in South Australia. Consequently, it is a purely Australian application of the plough. There is evidence that that instrument has been copied in America, and the probability is that the American machine will soon be competing in Australia just as the American harvester has already done. We should, in considering this subject, disregard the name of Hugh Victor McKay. Senator Trenwith has shown that that gentleman has spent time, money, and energy in the development of the machine that has brought him his fortune, and I do not think that any honorable senator would begrudge him the success that he has attained. But there are other men in Australia who have also been developing the same machine, and are still endeavouring to improve it. I believe that they will even surpass the Sunshine harvester in time. Are these men to run the risk of spending years of time and thousands of pounds in developing a machine, only to have it copied in America, and to be undersold by importers?
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The local manufacturers, of harvesters have a right to consideration. The Tariff Commission, in considering its recommendations, proposed to give them the advantage of a higher duty than now obtains. The Commission proposed that machinery invented in Australia should have an additional duty of12½ per cent., while general machinery should have an additional duty of per cent. I consider that the Commission was wise in adopting that principle. It also recommended, in the interests of the primary producer, that some arrangement should be made with the manufacturers for a reduction in price, consequent upon an increase of the duty. That principle has also been embodied in the Bill. The Tariff Commission considered that the workers in the industry should receive some of the benefits of protection. As a result of that, another Bill relating to the one before us provides that if the manufacturers are not prepared to share the profits arising out of their increased output with their workers, they will not receive the advantage of the increased protection. The Bills before us embody the recommendations of the Tariff Commission fairly well. There has been a slight alteration in connexion with the duty on stripperharvesters to comply with the request of many manufacturers who desire a fixed instead of an ad valorem rate. The advantages and disadvantages of that proposal have been amply discussed. One advantage was suggested by Senator Millen by way of interjection - that it would put it out of the power of the Minister to interfere with the business of importation, as has been done in the past. It will have a still greater advantage in preventing dishonest importers from cooking their’ invoices and endeavouring to make the Customs Department believe that their machines can be produced at a lower price in other parts of the world than in Australia.
– Of course, if the duty is prohibitive, there will be no invoices.
– The honorable senator is probably right under ordinary circumstances, but there are cases in which articles can be introduced at a nominal value, and thus defeat an almost prohibitive duty. So long as it is left to the importer to state the value of an article, there is always a risk that he will get over the Customs in some way or other. It is marvellous to notice the methods that importers have adopted to cheat the Customs. Nothing short of prohibition would prevent them doing anything of that kind. But the local manufacturers have declared that they will be satisfied with a reasonable duty, to put them on an equality with producers in other parts of the world. I think that the Tariff Commission, in making the recommendations it has done, arrived at a very fair medium, and I hope that the duties set forward in this Bill will be carried into effect.
Senator Col. NEILD (New “South amendment upon the motion now before the Senate, as follows : -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “ the Senate declines to further proceed with the Customs Tariff Bill, No. 35, until other more pressing measures, and urgent public business have been dealt with.”
– Does the honorable senator think that that amendment is relative to the Bill ?
– Yes, sir. It is intended to express the desire of the Senate to delay the passage of the measure until other eventualities have occurred, just as it would be in order to move that the Bill be read a third time this day six months.
– Under the Standing Orders an amendment to the motion for the second reading of a Bill must be strictly relative to the Bill. I am not saying, on the spur of the moment, whether the honorable senator’s amendment is in accordance with the Standing Orders. I should like to look into the question before ruling. But I doubt it.
– May I remind you, sir, of an amendment moved on the motion for the second reading of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, to which you took no objection? The object of it was to make the second reading contingent upon something happening.
– ‘But it must be relevant to the Bill.
– Senator Neild proposes, not that the Bill be now read a second time, but that it be read after a certain event has happened.
– I am aware that a very subtle distinction has to be drawn ; but, in the Legislative Council of South’ Australia, I have ruled out of order an amendment affirming “ That this Bill be not further proceeded with until the finances of the State are in a better position.” That proposal would have raised a discussion upon the whole question of what was the position of the finances of the State - a subject which was not relevant to the Bill under consideration. It seems to me that Senator Neild’s amendment - raising, as it does, the whole business of the session - can scarcely be considered strictly relevant to the Bill.
– Do I understand that you rule that I cannot move my amendment ?
– Will the honorable senator allow me to look at it?
– Most certainly.
– If I have to’ give a ruling upon the spur of the moment, I shall say that the amendment is not in order.
– Before ruling, you will, of course, hear me upon the point of order ?
– Yes. At the same time, I ask the honorable senator to consider whether his proposal would not raise a. discussion which has nothing whatever to do with the Bill.
– I submit that every word that I could utter in speaking to the proposed amendment, I could say by way of objection to the second reading of the Bill. I might urge, as a reason why the Bill should not be read a second time, the state of the public business, and that there are matters of greater consequence to be dealt with, which is all that the amendment affirms.
– If the honorable senator will read the standing order bearing upon this question, he will notice that the word “ strictly “ is used in reference to amendments relating to Bills, and is not introduced anywhere else. That word must have some meaning, otherwise it would not have been placed there.
– If you rule that my proposal is out of order, i shall be just as free to say everything that I desire to say upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– The honorable senator can move that it be read a second time this day six months.
– Certainly I can. However, I have no desire to do that. I merely ask that the consideration of more urgent matters should be proceeded with. If my proposed amendment be not relevant to the Bill, I have spent twenty-five years in” a State Parliament without learning of a single instance in which such a proposal has been ruled out of order. Of course, it may have been my misfortune to be a member of a Parliament which did not follow the practice of the British Parliament, though there was a standing order which declared that that practice should be followed. Having looked through our Standing Orders, I fail to see any reference to amendments to Bills such as you, sir, have indicated.
– Under the heading of “ Second readings of Bills,” standing order 187 says -
No other amendment may be moved to such questions unless in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
The word “ strictly “ was undoubtedly inserted with, some object.
– That object probably was to prevent amendments being submitted which were clearly not relevant to the Bill under consideration.
– It was doubtless inserted to prevent amendments being moved which would raise discussion upon matters that were foreign to the Bill under consideration. Here is a parallel case which occurred in England. A motion had been submitted for the second reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, and an honorable member submitted the following amendment : -
That it would be inexpedient to proceed with any legislation at this period, except such as is absolutely necessary to the government of the country.
That amendment was ruled out of order. Mr. Speaker said-
The terms of the amendment before “ the House have no reference to the business before the House. J cannot accept the honorable member’s amendment.
– I submit that there is a vast difference between the proposal which you, sir, have cited, and that which I desire to submit. In the former case the amendment was to absolutely refuse to proceed with the consideration of the Bill in a most indefinite manner, but my proposal is merely to postpone the consideration of this Bill until matters of more pressing consequences have been dealt with. Of course, if you rule me out of order, I shall be able to say all that I desire to say upon an amendment to the effect that the Bil] be read this day six months. If you rule my proposal out of order, I shall take a course which will be in consonance with your ruling, but which will not restrict my freedom of action in any way.
– My ‘ruling is that the amendment is not in order. I do not think that it is strictly relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. An amendment to be strictly relevant to the subject-matter of a Bill must have something to do with the Bill, and the proposed amendment has nothing whatever to do with the Bill itself, but has something to do with other
Bills. It seeks to postpone the consideration of this measure for reasons which have nothing whatever to do with, the Bill itself, and therefore I do not think that it is strictly relevant.
– Then I move-
That the word “ now “ be left out, with a view to add the words “ this day six months.”
I submit this amendment, because I deem it to be in the public interest that no further time should be wasted over a measure, the whole atmosphere surrounding which reeks with the taint of corruption. The other day, when in Brisbane, I heard in the club, in the street, and on the Exchange, nothing but caustic remarks about the atmosphere surrounding this Bill ; and the same may be heard in Sydney and Melbourne any day.
– Is the honorable senator in order in saying that this Bill is surrounded by an “ atmosphere “ of “ corruption “ ?
– I do not know that the words are not in order. The “ atmosphere” of “corruption” may have nothing to do with this Parliament or with Ministers.
– That is the infer;ence.
– I do not think that the words are necessarily a reflection on Ministers or Parliament.
– They may be a reflection on the Tariff Commission.
– The words may reflect on anybody - it is one of those vague allegations which I cannot rule out of order.
– This. Bill is being pressed on with reckless indifference to the public interest. It is notorious that members of another place are flocking away from this sphere of legislative effort.
– So is the honorable senator’s party in this Chamber.
– My party? I think the senators, with whom I have the honour to be associated, will be here quite soon enough, and in sufficient number, for the comfort and peace of mind of the honorable senator. It is not a question of “my” party, and, with the honorable senator’s permission, I shall change the word to “our.” The press, which has given ihe present Administration unbounded support, is now “ turning dog,” as the phrase goes. We cannot pick up a morn ing paper in Melbourne without reading the strongest strictures on the conduct of public business by the present Ministry. If it were not for the ever-existing excellent temper and kindly disposition of the Minister of Defence and his colleague, Senator Keating - both of whom, I make free to say, have endeared themselves to every honorable senator who has his heart in the right place - the course of public business in this Chamber would have been very different. I think we can all agree with the words used by the President, a few days ago, when he described this Chamber as resembling a bear garden. We have seen the most extraordinary developments during the last few days in the conduct of public business - developments which warrant the postponement of all but the most urgent public measures, in order that an appeal may be made to the masters of this and another place. We have had honorable senators making the strongest speeches against a Bill, and afterwards voting for it. I pass no strictures on those honorable senators; but, as an old public man, I know what ir. means, and the journalists of the daily press, and others familiar with parliamentary life, also know the meaning. The Prime Minister, in his speech at Ballarat, eloquently and vehemently denounced the demoralization of Parliament - not a demoralization that involves corruption, but a demoralization which precludes the satisfactory conduct of public business. Who can deny what happened yesterday in connexion with the passage of a measure here, which I then pointed out would have to be treated as a new Bill when it went to another place? By the daily press this morning we see that the Ministry have recognised that fact, and have issued something like an informal” whip in the hope of keeping together members who desire to go north, west, and south, with a view to secure election. We cannot blame those members of Parliament ; but the position of affairs as described in journals, which are far more friendly to the Government than to the Opposition, is that every effort is being made, and every tactic, and every dodge adopted to postpone the general election to a time when the farmers - and the great producers of the country - will not be able to vote bv reason of the strenuousness of their position in relation to the harvest.
– Does the honorable senator think that these observations are relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill?
– The observations, I submit, are relative to the amendment, which declares that this Bill ought not to be proceeded with. At the time of the last general election we had the great gerrymandering scandal, and now we have the scandal of everything possible being done in connexion with useless and pernicious measures, such as the one under discussion, in order to delay an appeal to the people. The business is being thrust on us in’ a manner absolutely without precedent, unless, perhaps, in some ‘South American Republics. There are on the Senate noticepaper four Bills for second reading, and one of a most contentious character in Committee. One of the Bills down for second reading is the Appropriation Bill for the whole service of the Commonwealth for the year ; and on the table of the Senate there is an official paper which shows that in another place there are no fewer than eight Bills awaiting second reading, all of which are supposed to be dealt with by the Senate. There are several other measures which have reached the Committee stage, and one of these is of an absolutely absurd character - being brought in to correct the bacl language of a previous Parliament, or of officials in the employ of the Commonwealth. We find the business in such a condition that, owing to the interesting question of the appointment of Judges to the High Court, Parliament is without a law adviser. I suppose we shall have a few more amending Bills introduced in order to correct the bad language found in them.
– Not “bad language,” surely?
– If the honorable senator likes I will say bad grammar, though, strictly speaking, there is no such thing, because if it is bad it is not grammar. Unless we adopt the amendment, either the law must be broken, or there must be a prorogation of Parliament without the passing of measures of greater consequence than is this miserable Bill, by which it is proposed to confer immense benefits on a firm the members of which were not prepared, before a Royal Commission, to give any information about their business. One of the two supporters of the Ministry in the Senate gave us, last night, an excellent speech of about two hours’ duration. It was delivered at the rate of about from 75 to 80 words a minute, and, as an exposition of stonewalling, was a verv fine effort. It was done so well that no one would have thought that the honorable senator was stone-walling. I compliment Senator Trenwith on his admirable effort.
– I am prepared to accept such a compliment from, an exponent of the art of stone-walling.
– I am very happy that, in the plenitude of my knowledge as to how business is conducted elsewhere, I am able to tender this courtesy to my honorable friend. How is it that the business of the Senate has become so congested ? Why is it necessary for me to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months ? It is due to the contemptuous manner in which the Senate has been treated by the Ministry. They are not even prepared to introduce in this Chamber a Bill to amend their own bad language. One of the principal reasons for this awful congestion of business is that six or seven measures all stand in the name of one Minister, who for some months has been conspicuous by his devotion to cow shows and pig pens in his electorate. It is consequent upon that honorable gentleman’s absence at these interesting agricultural functions that we find the public interests absolutely jeopardized. The courtesy that one honorable senator may extend to another, whether he be an independent representative or a creature of the Crown as a Minister-
– I do not think that the honorable senator ought to characterize a Minister as a “ creature of the Crown.”
– Then I shall say servants of the Crown. “Creature” is a very old word, and has a significance nowadays that was never thought of in times gone by. There is a vast difference between the man who ‘sacrifices his independence as a representative of the people in order to be a servant of the Crown, and the man who does not. I have not sacrificed my independence, and am free, as a representative of the people, to complain of the acts of Ministers, who. although apparently on a higher plane of official responsibility-, are not on a higher plane of responsibility to the people. They have neglected their duties in Parliament, with the result that we have to-day a congestion of business without parallel in any Legislature. We find that the legal busi- ness of the Parliament is in a deplorable state, because the Minister of all Ministers who should be capable of attending and advising members finds, apparently, that the shadow of a coming appointment prevents his devotion to the public interest. Instead of trafficking with a Harvester Bill and other measures which are asked for by only one firm, we should deal with more pressing business that is left in the background. It is impossible to follow everything that appears in the press in regard to this noxious business of harvester jobs; but, so far as I know, only one firm has sought to obtain, not merely protection, but prohibition, in respect of these machines. Indeed, the speech made by Senator Trenwith would lead one to suppose that the object of this Bill is to secure not protection, but prohibition. The honorable senator said he was not going to raise the cry of free-trade or protection. I shall not do so, for I do not think this Bill necessarily involves either proposition. But it certainly involves an extraordinary departure from all decent procedure. It is a departure from all decent usage that a Bill should be passed for the exclusive benefit of one set of individuals.
– Did not Senator Trenwith say that we had one high rampart, and that this was to be another? Apparently we are to have a lot of walls.
– We are rapidly building, not only walls round Australia, but, so to speak, coral reefs in the sea, since we are not satisfied to pass legislation affecting the land itself, but-
– That matter can-‘ not be discussed.
– I was drawn aside by the interesting observation made by Senator Symon as to the building of walls. This Bill shows clearly that the authors of the Australian Industries Preservation Act recognise that it is practically a failure. If it were what it is claimed to be, this Bill would be unnecessary. The Australian Industries Preservation Act was heralded as a measure that, in the course of a month, would abolish trusts. It has been found, however, to be a dead letter, and now the great Parliament of the Commonwealth is engaged in passing measures for the good fortune of individuals and separate corporations. It as a motet deplorable situation for what is supposed to be a national Parliament to occupy. A large name was applied to the Parliament, and big things were expected of it; but we have come down to trafficking in peddling measures for the aggrandizement of individual firms. This Bill ought not to be passed. It ought not even to be read a second time six months hence, but I cannot move that the second reading be postponed beyond that time. During the next six months I hope that there will be an opportunity for the people to show their sense of proportion in legislation. I have moved the amendment in order that the voice of Australia mav be heard at the polling places - that we may ascertain whether it is the desire of the electors of the Commonwealth that their would-be great national Parliament shall become a huckstering shop for the advantage of individual manufacturers. I do not consider that the question of protection or free-trade is involved, and I shall not discuss the Bill from that stand-point. But I do think it is a Bill for the advantage of one or two persons who are known and some persons unspecified, lor these reasons, and for many others, the Bill should be read this day six months rather than at the present time, and we should proceed with the consideration of the measures which must be passed before the close of the session if the administration of the. Commonwealth is to be decently conducted. It is necessary at the end of this year to deal with the great kanaka question. I do not propose to discuss it now, but, apparently, from the views expressed by Ministers, it is impossible to carry out the laws passed by this Parliament to deal with that question without additional legislation. We are trafficking in the harvester business, whilst thegreat question of White Australia - to which some honorable senators profess to attach-, so much importance - is trembling in- thebalance.
– What about the- Appropriation Bill ; is not that important?
– It has been read a first time, and, although it proposes the expenditure of millions of money, in all probability there will be no quorum in either Chamber to deal with it next week, and, clearly it cannot be dealt with this week if our time is further occupied with harvesters. If mv amendment is carried we shall be able to consider that much more important measure. I am unable to understand why the interests of the Commonwealth should be sacrificed to the interests, political or otherwise, of one or two Ministers. We occupied some time in dealing with a measure which was infinitely dear to the heart of one Minister, and infinitely bound up with his political fortunes. Whilst the discussion on this Bill was proceeding last night, we saw within the precincts of the Chamber a Minister with hollow eves and haggard face-
The PRESIDENT. I do not think the honorable senator should allude to strangers in the galleries of the Senate.
– I propose to take a course with reference to public business which, so far as I can assist in the matter, will secure proper attention to the important, rather than to the unimportant, measures before the Senate. I do not utter that as a threat; but I was sent here, not to be the creature - but the President objects to that word–
– The honorable senator may call himself a creature.
-I hope I am one of God’s creatures, and, as such, I am not ashamed to call myself a creature. I was sent here to represent the people, and not to be a jack of all trades for any Administration. I decline to subordinate the trust imposed upon me by the people of my State to the fortunes of any Ministry. The whole financial service of the year is bound up in the Appropriation Bill, which was read a first time in the Senate on Monday, and which we should have been discussing long ago. On a proposal to expend public money on a useless enterprise, we can find 20,000 reasons for discussion extending over weeks. If a Bill is introduced in connexion with harvesters, to enrich some person who is already rich, we can spend unlimited time over that. There are other measures to which I might refer; but I shall not do so, because I have no desire to unduly occupy the few short hours which will be left before so many members of the Federal Parliament have gone away on electioneering business that there will not be a quorum in either Chamber. With all kindly feeling, I warn the Minister of Defence that, by taking up valuable time in the consideration of comparatively trifling, and individual interests, he is running the risk of being left without a quorum in this Chamber, or in another place, to carry on really important business. I have not in this session offered the slightest factious opposition to the Government.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to hear the Minister assent to that statement, because I feel that I have given the Government reasonable help. Though I have been opposed to one or two of their measures, I have expressed my opposition briefly enough. I have not touched upon the Bill itself, because I prefer to see it postponed, and dealt with after the people have had an opportunity, at the coming elections, of saying what they think should be done with this and with some other measures. If they are placed on the statute-book, of what use will it be to consult the public about them ? Every conceivable topic under Heaven has been dealt with in one or other of the measures submitted this session. What are we going to consult the people about? Those members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who must shortly submit themselves for reelection will go before their constituents, not with a number of reforms to offer the electors, but full of apologies for the action of Parliament in passing trumpery measures to the disadvantage of the community. I am not personally affected, because my term of office will not expire until three years hence; but I think that those who have to seek re-election should, in sporting parlance, be given a “ fair run for their money.” Let us be content with passing a Bill to amend the bad language of the Government, the Appropriation Bill, and one or two other essential measures, and not continue sitting, with barely a quorum present dealing with questions seriously affecting the public interest. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that measures of paramount importance, such as some of those on the business-paper. shall be postponed until we can be sure of attendances at’ least as Targe as the statutory quorum. The people, in voting for the Constitution, did not think that Bills of this kind would be discussed in the House of Representatives when only six or seven of the seventy-five members which constitute that body were present and. by the suspension of theStanding Orders, hurried through the Senate of thirty-six members in the presence of only three or four.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the present condition of things? [Quorum formed.]
– The absence of a quorum a moment ago gave point to my remarks. It showed that my statement was not improper or vague, but conveyed the exact facts. Having protested against a procedure without parallel in the other Parliaments of Australia, and contrary to all decent parliamentary methods, and especially to the constitutional principles and rules which should govern the chief Parliament of the Commonwealth, I consider that I have discharged my duties to those who sent me here, and shall say no more on the subject.
– When Senator Trenwith yesterday spoke of the policy of the Commonwealth as being protection, I understood him to mean the Victorian idea of protection, which is practically prohibition. If he had said moderate protection, I should have agreed with him. In the framing of the original Tariff some years ago, it was generally recognised that the intention was to afford more or less protection to Australian industries, and I did what I could to carry into effect Sir Edmund Barton’s aphorism of revenue without destruction. Now we are being asked to throw overboard that idea, and adopt the Victorian ultra-protection, building a wall round Australia to keep out all imports. Moderate protection has had good effects, and has proved useful in enabling industries to be started here against the competition of those in the old world, which may have been in existence for years, or even for centuries. But there is a great difference between encouraging industries by moderate Customs duties and prohibiting importation, thus preventing competition, which, on fair lines, is a good thing for the community. Whenever it is1 seen that an industry is being crushed out bv importation, the rates of duty can be altered. The Tariff Commission was appointed to consider to what extent alterations were necessary, but instead of its reports being fairly considered, with a view to the removal of anomalies, and the further protection of such industries as may require it, the whole Tariff is being recast, in order to bring about the prohibition without which the manufacturers of Victoria declare themselves to be unable to live. The result of the operation of the Tariff has shown that hardly any, if one, industry has been destroyed or injured. On the other hand, all the facts and statistics available show that the factories in the Commonwealth have never been more flourishing than thev are. That is the best evidence we could have that we did a wise thing when, remembering that live States were more or less protectionist and that one was free-trade, we agreed to a compromise Tariff. Like the Age and ether newspapers, some honorable senators may compare the Tariff with the Canadian Tariff, and say that it is shockingly low, but the fact remains that, under its operation, our industries have flourished, the output as well as the capital has increased, the dividends have multiplied, and the male employes have increased in number. In the face of such convincing evidence, it can only be for a miserable party purpose that we are now asked to re-open the Tariff. I shall be no party to that. If there is one factory more than another which has flourished under a duty of 121 per cent., it is Mr. McKay’s harvester factory. What hypocrisy it is to imagine that he wants more protection ? I ask Senator McGregor, if he is capable of making a relevant remark, whether he can mention another industry in which he would prefer to invest his own money?
– I should like to put my money into hops or Cascade Brewery shares.
– Then my honorable friend would lose his money. I defy Senator Playford to pick out an industry which is more flourishing than is that of Mr. McKay. It has been demonstrated by statistics that of the two the primary producers are more important than the secondary producers. Of course they are both of importance to the Commonwealth. No one can look at our factories without being proud of them. No one would wish, by putting a line in the Tariff, to do one of them any harm, but we must do justice to the primary producers. I sympathize with every person engaged in industry, whether he makes boots or shoes or grows wheat or hops. I desire to do justice to all,- but I am now asked by the Government to do injustice to the farmer. I am weary of hearing arguments trotted out over and over again, and I suppose I have been in the Chamber less during the last forty-eight hours than at any previous period. I do not think that any one has yet laid very great stress upon the evidence which the Tariff Commission took from agriculturists. We all know that at Show time the farmers - God bless them - had a meeting, and selected representatives to give evidence before that body. On that point I shall read a paragraph from Progress Report No. 5 -
During the Royal Show week, in September, 1905, a meeting was held in Melbourne at which 250 delegates, representing the societies, attended, and a resolution was passed that representatives be appointed to give evidence before the Tariff Commission, protesting against any further duty on agricultural implements or machinery. Subsequently Mr. John C. Smith, of St. Arnaud, farmer; Mr. James McGregor, of Numurkah, farmer; Mr. Duncan McLennan, of Warracknabeal, farmer; Mr. Christian Nowotna, of Horsham and Murtoa, farmer, attended before the Commission and gave evidence as instructed by the meeting. They particularly objected to any increase in the duty on harvesters (see Special Report on Harvesters). They drew attention to the fact that, as producers, they had to compete in the markets of the world with their produce, that they had to compete with the cheapest labour and the cheapest land, besides being handicapped by having 10 pay high railway and shipping freights on their produce before it reached the selling market. - (Q. 65956.) They had also to pay high railway and shipping freight on the goods they bought and required for use on their farms. - (Q. 65967.) The farmers themselves had no protection against foreign competition, the duties on imported grain, such as wheat and oats, were practically inoperative, as farmers are exporters. They contend that the higher the duties were upon agricultural implements the less they would have available for labour and improvements upon their lands. - (Q. 66210.) “On every occasion,” said Mr. James McGregor, “when duties have been increased, I have found that the price has increased in proportion ; that is my practical experience. I could give you an instance of it in the purchase of a plough. A plough that .1 could get for ,£21 was, when some years ago the Tariff was raised, increased at once to ^22 10s.” - (Q. 66210-13.) Mr. Duncan McLennan argued that the present duty of
I2£ per cent, on agricultural machinery, in addition to natural protection, was amply sufficient for the success and development of the agricultural implement industry. - (Q. 66343.)
That evidence ought, I think, to be regarded by Senators Trenwith, McGregor, and others with the same sacredness and interest as that of Mr. McKay and other factory owners. The farmers have to get their iving in the Commonwealth, and therelore justice ought to be meted out to them. In the Tariff there was no item over which we had so much argument and trouble as thai relating to agricultural machinery. Every possible argument was then adduced. We considered the position of all the industries! and tried to do the fair thing. After a great struggle the protectionists managed to impose a duty of tsA- per cent, on the greater portion of the farmer’s machines, together with a natural protection which we know is considerable, as they are all bulky. The evidence all goes to show that twenty-three manufacturers of stripper-harvesters, including Mr. McKay, have all clone admirably well under the operation of that duty. I ask protectionist senators what profit do they expect a man to make on the machine, or to be entitled to wring out of the farmer? It is well known that the farmer has his good years and his bad years. We have had seven bad years, one after the other, and hundreds of farmers have been struggling, for a bare subsistence. Now, taking into account good and bad seasons, what profit do my honorable friends expect a man like Mr. McKay to make out of the manufacture of one machine? So far as I can understand, the cost of production is put down by many persons at from ^32 to £35 j but the Tariff Commission unanimously agreed that it did not and could not exceed £41. I have heard a statement that the American and Canadian manufacturers say that they can produce stripper-harvesters much more cheaply in North America than they can be produced in Australia, and that the invoice price of ^38 represents not only the factorycost, but the manufacturing profit for the head establishment in Canada and in the United States before the machines are transmitted to Australia for sale. Here is an invoice price of .£38, which represents the manufacturing profit. We are allowing now that it costs Mr. McKay £41 to make a harvester. If he is allowed to sell the machine now at £8o, and within a year or two at £to, after paying for the cost of distribution, what an enormous profit he must make ! It is very difficult to get at the cost of distribution. In some cases it is given at -£112 per machine, in others at ^17 6s., and in others at -£21 17s. But I understand that Mr. McKay puts down his cost at ,£27. If other manufacturers can distribute the machine for the sums I have mentioned, I find it rather difficult to credit that it costs Mr. McKay that enormous sum. We all know that when enormous profits are being earned every effort is made to conceal the information from the public. Assuming that the cost of construction is £40. and that the expenses incurred in connexion with the distribution amount to £20 per machine, there is still a margin of £20 profit for Mr. McKay. The total annual output of Australian machines is 4.000, of which Mr. McKay makes 2,000 ; the other twenty-three manufacturers dividing the balance between them. The imported machines number 1,400 per annum. I understand that Mr. McKay, not only annually places 2,000 machines upon the local market, but that he sends 400 machines to the Argentine. Therefore, he must be .making an enormous profit.
– He is making a profit of over ,£40,000 per annum, and still wants more protection.
– I thoroughly believe that he is making £30,000 per annum.
– There are a number of matters which the honorable senator has not taken into consideration - such things as bad debts and depreciation of plant.
– I take a number of matters into account when I place Mr. McKay’s distributing cost at £20 per machine, as compared with £12, £17 16s., and £21 17s. which represent respectively the outlay of other manufacturers in that direction. Even adopting Mr. McKay’s figures of £27 per machine for distributing expenses - and I grant that the outlay is heavy - he must be making £30,000 per annum.
– I have no doubt that he would be ready to sell the honorable senator his business upon the basis of an income of £30,000 per annum.
– That is not the question. What we have to consider is whether Mr. McKay is honestly entitled to any more protection against the farmers of Australia, not one of whom is flourishing as he is. It is .monstrous that because protection is a cry that wins votes, and gives power and influence we should be asked to throw over the primary producer, and leave him to look after himself, whilst we impose upon him an enormous ,tax in order to enrich the manufacturers.
– The Bill provides for a reduction in price.
– Will the Minister tell us what income Mr. McKay is deriving from the industry he carries on ?
– I do not care how much Mr. McKay is making. There are dozens of other manufacturers.
– That seems to me to be the point upon which the whole of the case turns. An appeal is being made to us to help a struggling industry.
– The honorable senator is singling out Mr. McKay and basing all his observations upon his experience. But’ there are dozens of other manufacturers whom we have to consider. In South Australia alone there are Martin and Company, Hawke, and others.
– Those firms are making scarcely any stripperharvesters, and it is mere sham to talk of them as competitors with Mr. McKay. It was Messrs. Martin and Company who broke through the combination in which Mr. McKay joined with the importers in 1905.
– I do not think that I would be doing my duty were I to agree to a proposal to tax the farmers any further.
– We are not pro-, posing to fax them any further ; we are providing for a reduction in the sale price of the machines.
– Nothing of the kind. It is proposed to impose a duty of £12 per machine, equivalent to an impost of 25 per cent. The duty that the Minister of Trade and Customs proposed was iniquitous, so far as the primary producer was concerned. A duty of £8 per machine would be ample.
– What about the quality of the machines, in the absence of outside competition ?
– I am glad that the honorable senator has reminded me of that point, which is the most important of all. It is a very good thing to endeavour to make the factory owners pay fair wages, because the men are undoubtedly entitled to share in the benefits of any protection that may be granted; but I do not think that the method that we are adopting will prove effective. If the manufacturers had to reduce the price of their machines, what would be easier for them than to employless skilled labour, and, by using inferior material, turn out a slip-shod machine? They could fully compensate themselves for any reduction in price by putting in bad workmanship and inferior material, and thus turning out a less efficient machine.
– And make a large profit out of the repairs rendered necessary by inferior workmanship..
– No doubt that would be a. very large item. The manufacturers are not required to keep the machines in order after they are once disposed of, and they must make, enormous profits out of repairs. In adjusting this protection, and endeavouring, to do what is fair, we have to bear in mind that the cost of manufacturing the machines will be reduced every year. We have all heard of the specialization in industry which is carried on in the United States. We know that in boot factories, for instance, boots pass through the hands of hundreds of operatives, each of whom perform one small operation, and can handle hundreds of boots every day. These men are so thoroughly trained that they become exceedingly expert. Similar methods might very well be adopted by our manufacturers of agricultural machinery, in order to bring about a reduction in the cost of production which would more than compensate them for the smaller selling price. I am afraid that we are entering upon a hopeless task. It is proposed to give an undue measure of protection, for which the evidence given before the Tariff Commission affords no warrant. If the Bill be passed, the farmers will be unduly taxed, in order to enable the Government to run wild in connexion with their prohibitive protectionist policy.
– I indorse every word that has fallen from Senator Dobson. I intend to vote for the amendment, because I agree with Senator Neild that, at this period of the session, we should not be called upon to deal with such a measure as that now before us. Victoria has already derived greater advantage from Federation than any other State.
– Except New South Wales.
– I do not see why we should legislate in the direction of conferring any further advantage upon a State which is already specially favoured. In reply to the interjection of Senator Findley, I would point out that no State has made such sacrifices in the cause of Federation as has New South Wales. We have had to sacrifice our free-trade principles to a large extent, and this is a case in point. The farmers in Australia are much more numerous than are the manufacturers of stripper-harvesters, and ft is now proposed to punish our primary producers for the benefit, presumably, of a few manufacturers, one of whom is making upwards of .£20,000 per annum.
– Some of the freetraders are making more than that.
– I have not the pleasure of knowing them. It seems to me that honorable senators who voted for the Australian Industries Preservation Bill have no faith in that measure as a means of safeguarding our industries against the operations of foreign trusts. They are now doing their best to encourage the formation of local trusts, which will become so powerful, and be able to exercise such influence - possibly upon members of Parliament - tha* we shall have in Australia the very state of things that we wish to avoid.
– When that state is reached we shall nationalize the industry.
– I was always under the impression that Parliament was supposed to legislate for “ the greatest good to the greatest number.” But we are now going to abandon the greatest number in the interests of a very few, reversing what ought to be an axiom of legislation. I do not see how we can avoid introducing the question of free-trade and protection in such a glaring case as this. The Government is becoming a kind of patron to the ironmongering trade, stipulating at what price goods shall be sold. I never heard of such a thing as a Bill declaring the price at which a manufacturer shall sell his goods.
– He can sell his goods for what he likes, but the Bill says that if he sells above a certain price, he shall not have a certain protection.
– He will still have half the protection which the Bill proposes to give, even if he raises his price above the stipulated amount. Do we want to see an ironmongering Government in Australia? The rate of duty proposed is absolutely prohibitive. The evidence collected by the Tariff Commission shows that the cost of manufacturing a harvester certainly does not exceed £41. It seems that the Canadian manufacturers can sell them for including manufacturers’ profit. Add £12 to £38, and, apart from freight and other charges, the price is brought up to £50. But what about the unfortunate farmers in Queensland who have to come to Melbourne or Adelaide to buy their harvesters? Why should thev have to pay the enormous freight from these cities when they can get -their machines cheaper from abroad? It is a most outrageous thing to propose. Where does the Federal feeling come in? Under clause 4 of the Bill, the Governor-General has to be “ satisfied.” That is an entirely new thing. If he is satisfied, he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in respect to stripper-harvesters.
– Good Lord ! We shall have to import an ironmonger to rule over us ! Will not the Constitution require to be amended to insure that we have a Vice-Rega 1 Ironmonger?
– The “ GovernorGeneral “ in this Bill means Sir William Lyne, after consultation with Mr. McKay.
– It is a pity that the Senate should miss Senator Walker’s peroration, and I therefore call for a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
– Why should the date, February, 1908, be inserted in this Bill ? An amendment ought to be moved on that. Why should it not be February, 1909 or 1 9 10? Surely the Government ought to have more confidence in its own Anti-Trust Act than it seems to have. Unless it mistrusts that measure altogether, there is no need for this Bill.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.18]. - This Bill arises out of circumstances which appear to me to be so absolutely against the best interests of the country, and its origin is so extremely questionable that I shall be found opposing it at every stage. I desire in the first place, to offer for the consideration of honorable senators, two points to which they should direct their attention, and upon which I shall take the opportunity at a later stage to ask for the ruling of the President. We have a Constitution - though that sometimes seems to be forgotten - under which the Commonwealth exists. Under that Constitution two things were provided which are supposed to be essential to legislation upon sound grounds, arid also to the control of the Senate over legislation. The first section to which I direct attention is 54, which provides that -
The proposed law which appropriates revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.
That section, of course, was intended to prevent the possibility of proposals relating to the appropriation of revenue being introduced, except in a Bill for that purpose. It arose out of conflicts which had previously taken place when a strong Government in the popular branch of the Legislature tried to thrust upon the other branch legislation of which it disapproved, and which, when associated with Appro priation Bills, it was supposed to have no power to alter. That provision does not apply in this case, except in a way to which I shall presently call attention. It is followed by section 55, which provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and that any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall have no effect. It seems to me that those who have been hugging to their hearts the idea that they are going to mitigate the mischief which, by common consent, this Bill, in its positive enactments will bring about - by reason of the two provisions to which I shall presently allude - are leaning upon a broken reed. In my judgment, those provisions will be absolutely worthless, and I intend to ask your ruling, sir, as to whether this Bill is not entirely out of order. In the first place, under it we are seeking to impose fresh Customs duties of a most onerous character. It is admitted upon all hands that it imposes an oppressive and a mischievous increase of duties. It was pointed out in the other Chamber that its effect will be to very largely increase the emoluments of makers, and particularly of one maker, who has in season and out of season per fas -et nef as brought about this piece of legislation. The House of Representatives thought it desirable to prevent this admitted robbery, and to protect the farmer from being fleeced. To enable that to be done, a provision was inserted in this Bill not for imposing taxation, but for regulating the prices at which manufacturers shall sell their goods.
– And regulating wages.
– That is another matter. I say, unhesitatingly, that any such provision is utterly alien to the Bill, and with the utmost confidence I shall ask your ruling upon the point. I contend that the provision in question is a violation of the Constitution. The mischief of it is that it is a confession that the positive enactment of this Bill constitutes a downright robbery of a certain class of people, and that we ought to legislate in some way or other to “temper the wind to the shorn Iamb.” Then it was felt that a further protection must be introduced. Whilst it was admitted that the farmers were likely to be fleeced, it was also felt that the enormous profits - all the sovereigns which were being pushed into the pockets of Mr. McKay and others - came from the sweat of the brow of the workmen who did not participate in those profits. I wish to say that if we are to impose this high protection, which is making millionaires - and which will make multi-millionaires of a lot of these manufacturers - I shall join with my honorable friends opposite, if no other redress can be obtained, in attempting to insure that the workmen shall obtain a share of the profits. I tell all the protectionist patriots that that is the attitude which I shall take up if I am driven to it. I repeat that it was felt - before the Bill reached the Senate - that the workmen must also be protected against the machinations of the manufacturers ? What do the latter want ? Naturally, they desire to secure a profit. But they are greedy. They wish to obtain the most extravagant profit that it is possible to secure. They desire to obtain it at the expense of the farmers on the one hand, and of the workmen on the other. That is what the Bill admits. The redress offered to the farmer is that the prices which the manufacturer can demand for his machines have been fixed by the measure, and that offered to the workmen is that certain Customs duties shall be” levied, and fair conditions of labour must prevail. I say that such a provision is absolutely unconstitutional. We have no power to legislate in respect of conditions of labour. We have no power to tack on to a Bill of this character judgments of Arbitration Courts or resolutions of this Parliament in order to protect one class of the community against the machinations of another. I venture to say that both this Bill and the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill are unconstitutional. They are out of order. I did not intend to speak upon the second reading of this measure when I arrived, here this morning, but my sympathies are entirely with the amendment that has been submitted by Senator Neild. What I have pointed out strengthens the view which I hope honorable members will take in opposition to hasty action in respect to this measure. The Senate is simply being made a dumping ground for belated legislation. I sa,y it with regret, but with all the earnestness of which I am capable, that the Senate ought to resent the treatment to which it is being subjected when we are on the brink of a dissolution of Parliament, and not merely of a prorogation. This Senate will be unworthy of itself and of the Constitution under which it exists if it tolerates it. If there were no other reason than that for my action, I should declare in favour of any motion which would postpone the consideration of so serious a Bill as this is. It is serious because we feel that without those safeguards in the two measures to which I have referred, and which I say are unconstitutional, we are not justified in passing them. The other Chamber has admitted that. It has declared that it is unjust to pass these enactments as they were originally introduced, and in order to insure their just working it has gone the length of violating the Constitution. I say all honour to the members of that branch of the Legislature for doing what they did, though, in doing it they violated the Constitution. I do not want to embarrass the Government in the slightest degree ; but I am not going to stand here and allow this thing to be done, so to speak, in the dark and in haste. Let us have the opinion of the farmers of the country, to begin with, if we desire to sanction the imposition of heavier charges which Parliament and the country declare they ought not to bear. Why should they wait until next year for the price to be reduced by £n per machine? The Government knew all the facts three months ago; and why did they not introduce a short Bill declaring that no machine should be sold for over ^70 after the 1st clay of July, or whatever was the date of the presentation of the report of the Tariff Commission ? It is a sham, . Mr. President - a sham. I hope the farmers will know that the reduced prices are to be brought into force when every farmer has got his machine for the next harvest, at a price of £81, and that the additional £11. will go into the pockets of Mr. McKay. If £70 will be a fair price in February, 1907, surely it is a fair price four months earlier. Can any one deny that that is a douceur and a bonus to the makers? All I can say is that I hope the farmers will understand the position, and that the members of the Government, including Senator Playford, will be able to explain to them why the Government are willing that they shall be robbed of £.ri in October of this year, and not willing that they shall be robbed of that amount in February, 1907. I now desire to say one or two words with regard to the Bill itself. I do not wish to mention Mr. McKay’s name, more than I do the name of any other man ; but I am obliged to do so, be’- cause he is the moving spirit of this part, at least, of this so-called Tariff Reform. We cannot read the evidence without realizing that fact - we cannot deal with the subject without, so to speak, continually “bumping up against” Mr. McKay. Therefore, I do not think that any honorable senators, either on this or the other side, can possibly be blamed if we occasionally mention Mr. McKay’s name. When Senator Dobson was speaking, however, Senator Playford interjected, “ Oh, there are other makers.” Of course, Mr. McKay is the great maker.
– He makes about half the machines that are sold.
– McKay made them all at one time; he is the man who commenced to make them.
– That is, Mr. McKay made them all when there was one to make.
– Why does Senator Trenwith desire this manufacturer to have more protection? If Mr. McKay was the first maker, and his business has grown and flourished until he makes half of the machines sold in Australia, why should he be protected and coddled. I thought protection was given to encourage struggling industries, and that the Tariff Commission, whose information and report I very greatly respect, took the view that I am now putting. For instance, in regard to seed drills and fertilizer drills, evidence was given which showed that some 5,000 or 6,000. are sold per annum in Australia, but that of these only 500 or 600 are made in this country. Of course, that was a fair thing for the maker - I forget his name - to state. But what was the view of the Tariff Commission ? The Commission perfectly realized that thev were not appointed in order to investigate the desirability of starting or developing new industries, but that thev owed their origin to complaints about the ruin of existing industries. That was the foundation of the Tariff Commission’s existence, and. therefore, the Commission, in their Progress Report No. 5, say -
That some Victorian manufacturers desire to extend their trade in the direction of new implements, such as seed drills and clod crushers, in respect of which they seek a higher protection -
That was a perfectly natural request for those people to make. Of course, parenthetically, I may say that no higher protection on .these drills will help the farmer, because it will take years to enable the local manufacturers to increase the output from 500 or 600 to the 5,000 or 6,000 required ; and in the meantime the farmers will be paying, not for the establishment, but for the development, of a particular industry. But the Tariff Commission, it seems to me, take the right view when they go on to say - but we consider that cases and suggestions of this kind, turning in the direction of expansion and development, should be distinct from complaints and requests based upon actual injury and prejudice of existing and established industrial interests.
Is that not what the Royal Commission was appointed for? Is that not what the Tariff Commission felt they were inspired by, so to speak - that their investigations were to be in regard to complaints and requests “ based upon actual injury and prejudice of existing and established industrial interests “ ? Why should we fly in the face of the Tariff Commission in regard to this Bill? Why should we insult the Tariff Commission, by whom we profess to be guided, and for whose reports the Government, the Opposition, and everybody else, have been waiting? Why should we insult the Tariff Commission bv disregarding their reports and the views they express? But that is not all. Where is the injury to Mr. McKay ?
– Senator Trenwith told us that Mr. McKay has a most lucrative business.
– The Tariff Commission said, “ No more protection; this is a flourishing concern.” He who runs may read; and if Senator Dobson is right as to the £30,000 a year. I would almost give up the legal profession in order to go into the stripper-harvester business.
– The honorable senator would not then be so fully protected as he is in the legal profession.
– We are not protected at all.
– It is not protection, but prohibition.
– There is neither protection nor prohibition in the legal- profession. I should welcome Senator Trenwith into the legal profession as cordially as I welcome him in this Chamber. All that Senator Trenwith has to do is to devote a little of his spare time - though I know he has not much, owing to the number of people into whom he desires to instil the doctrines of protection - to read up Blackstone’s Commentaries and two or three books of that description, when he may present himself for admission to-morrow, if he likes. We of the legal profession are the one set of people who are exposed to the freest competition by those who are properly instructed.
– If they do not come from a neighbouring State.
– The foundation of this Bill, so far as its socalled merits are concerned, is supposed to be, if anything at all, prejudice or injury to existing industries. Is there a tittle of evidence of such injury? Did the Tariff Commission discover any, or has the Commission reported any ? Has the Tariff Commission reported that this £12 shall be placed on the price of stripper-harvesters, or that the ad valorem duty on seed drill fertilizers shall be doubled? Where is there a particle of evidence in favour of such a proposal? I should like to direct attention to a return presented by order to the House of Representatives on the 5th September, 1906. This return shows that the number of stripper-harvesters imported from Canada in 1905 was 1,000, whilst 730 were imported from elsewhere. Canada is one of our sisters of the Empire, for whom we are supposed to have a sentimental love and affection.’ We hear gushing proposals for preferential trade with her, and yet, at the expense of the farmers and workmen of Australia, it is proposed to shut out 1,000 harvesters from that country. During the same year 2.700 stripper-harvesters were produced in Australia. That was the output of a deplorably injured industry !
– I think it is desirable that honorable senators who will be called upon to vote on this question should hear these figures. There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– These figures are most instructive. They show that in 1905 . 1,000 harvesters came from Canada, and 730 from elsewhere. I frankly admit that it may be said that these machines are probably not imported before June, but the fact remains that during the first five months of this year no imports took place. It is stated in the return that it is believed that the local production is increasing. This, then, is the position of a “crushed “ and “ ruined “ industry, which is, so to speak, to be set on its legs by means of this measure. But this is not all. The return shows that we are exporting these machines.
– That is very offensive. We ought not to export them !
– But the honorable senator says this industry needs more protection. Surely when it is able to export its products it does not need assistance.
– The country which exports more machinery than does any other is the most highly protected.
– That is no reason why we should be. To what country does the honorable senator refer?
– To the United States of America.
– That country is not exporting the greatest number of harvesters to Australia.
– I said that she was exporting more machinery than was any other country.
– We are dealing with a so-called struggling and ruined industry, which is to be bolstered up–
– At the expense of thefarmers.
– And also at the expense of the workers in the industry unless the provisions relating to them are to be accepted. According to this return, in 1905 we actually exported to the Argentine 389 harvesters, and during the first ten months of 1906, 445. Our export trade in these machines, therefore, is increasing.
– That is gratifying.
– I welcome it ; but those who are engaged in this lucrative industry, and demand more protection, are able to sell; their machines abroad for £140 each, as against £81, the price at which they sell them here. These are the people on whose behalf Senator Trenwith whines piteously for more . protection.
– The return shows the advantage of the Argentine as a harbor of free-trade.
- Senator Trenwith is so overwhelmed by his friendship for the manufacturer, who is flourishing in this way like the green bay tree, that he wholly forgets the interests of the farmer. He does not seem to reflect that this increasing export and local trade is being carried on at the expense of one class of producers, upon whom mainly - if not altogether - the prosperity of the Commonwealth rests. In every respect, such an attitude is indefensible. I wish, however, to call attention to the position taken up by Mr. McKay, who is a sort of protagonist in this business. He is the gentleman whom we are going to assist by means of this Bill to secure greater profits and in whose name we propose to give help in a smaller degree to the others whose interests are infinitesimal. At page 20 of the report of the Tariff Commission on stripper-harvesters, we find the statement that -
The “ Sunshire” harvester sold retail in Argentine for£140.
– In free-trade Argentine.
– More power to Mr. McKay if he can get in there ; but, while we are going to protect Australia from dumping, we are to encourage it at the expense of the farmer in the Argentine. One would think that this gentleman would have been open, fair, and candid - that he would have been ready to place all the facts before the Tariff Commission, in order that they might judge whether his was a case calling for relief. He would not, however, give any information.
– He informed the Tariff Commission very distinctly that under free-trade the farmer in the Argentine has to pay£140 for a stripper-harvester, whilst under protection in Australia the farmer has to pay only £81.
– And yet he is ready to take a still greater advantage of the farmers here in order that he may continue to export. He desires a duty of £12 per machine, in order that he may take more out of the pockets of the farmers in the Argentine.
– Under the Bill, the price of these machines in Australia will be reduced by £10 per machine.
– Mr. McKay can fight the trusts in the Argentine, but not in Australia.
– He can fight them under absolute free-trade, but not in Australia where he is already protected up to the hilt. What a confession ! And yet Senator Trenwith is an eloquent advocate of protection. He visits the back yards of these factories in order to instruct the workers. He takes them away from their luncheons in order that he may fill them with this poisonous doctrine.The honorable senator has all these matters at his finger tips. He is a most thorough student of these questions. He knew that I was going to show a want of candour on the part of Mr. McKay in regard to the Argentine trade, and he therefore sought to draw a red herring across the trail. But - and this is the report again -
Mr. McKay declined to give the exact price at which he invoiced machines and sold them wholesale in the Argentine.
He would not give any information to the Tariff Commission concerning his own affairs, but he was perfectly prepared to slander the people who are manufacturing these machines in another part of the Empire, Canada. The Tariff Commission could not get any information from him as to his own profit, and they say -
He said - “ We have a better article, and we get a little better price in the Argentine than in Australia.”
– So he is selling rubbish here?
– He has a better article which he sends to the Argentine, and I hope the farmers here will note that, if that is what he means. Then the Tariff Commission, evidently disgusted, as they well might be. with the attitude of Mr. McKay, say - “ Mr. McKay was specifically asked the question - ‘ What was the invoice price at which his machines were entered in Customs House, Buenos Ayres?’ His reply was - “I do not think that is a fair question.’ “
He would not make it public. Subsequently, under pressure, and in circumstances which prevent its being used, I suppose - at any rate, we have not got it, and it is not in the report, or evidence - in strict confidence, he gave some information. What it was we do not know. We do not know whether it is true or not, or whether it is above criticism.
– Senator Trenwith stated last night that he invoiced his machines here for export at£70.
– I quoted Senator Clemons’ figures. I did not make any statement aboutit on my own account.
– This is the sort of thing on which we are asked to legislate. We are asked to give this man more profit, and to allow him to sell machines in October for ?8 1, which in February we say ought to be sold at j&o. It would be the funniest thing in the world if we were not a solemn Legislature, assembled in what will be, and what is now potentially, one of the greatest nations in the world. A point which honorable senators might very well consider is that while Mr. McKay guarded himself in this way from criticism, he was not slow to condemn the international harvester people. On page 14 of the report it. is shown that he severely criticised them on the subject of the invoice price for their machines, and took it upon himself to say - and I think it was a most impudent thing for him to do, seeing that he would not disclose the figures in connexion with his own business - what their invoice price should be. The Commission, in their report, say -
It was said by Mr. McKay that nothing less than ?do would be a fair invoice value for these machines.
What right has Mr. McKay to slander these people when he knows nothing about their affairs and refuses to give information which would enable criticism to be directed upon his own operations ? If honorable senators will turn to page 13 of the report they will see that Mr. McKay’s complaints are made because of interference with the methods he adopts in selling his machines. Three complaints are set out, and all, so far as my recollection goes, have been absolutely denied. They show the petty and contemptible way in which it was sought to prejudice the Commission in his favour, not on the ground that a ruined industry required relief., but on the ground, if honorable senators please, that his rivals’ methods in selling harvesters were too cute for him. I have heard these things said before in regard to oil engines, and various other machines. The Commission say -
Mr. I I. V. McKay stated that the agents of the Massey-Harris Company in South Australia, in trying “to sell their own machines to farmers, who had already ordered machines from him at /.V)o per machine -
Poor farmers j the price came down to ?&i only lately - offered to take over the machines which had nol vet been delivered by Mr. McKay.
It is denied that that sort of thing prevails. It was sharp, but why should Mr. McKay go complaining to the Tariff Commission, and asking for prohibition of im- ported machines on that account. According to the report he said further -
When the machines were delivered the MasseyHarris Company’s agent took possession of them and hawked them around the country for ?80 each.
They probably said, “ These machines are not as good as ours,” or “ We can let you have a McKay machine for ?80; we sell ours at ?85, but it is a much better machine.” The buyer always says, “It is naught, it is naught,” and the seller always vaunts the value of his own goods -
In reply to the charge that the agents for the Massey-Harris Company had approached the customers of Mr. H. V. McKay-
McKay seems to regard his customers as his slaves, bound to him body and soul. These rival traders actually approached his customers ! - and induced them to cancel orders for the “ Sunshine “ machine-
A most intolerable thing, and a gross interference with a true-born Australian. Then there is the third complaint, which is stated in this way -
Mr. McKay further complained that the American trusts-
He got in the word “trusts” there when he might just as well have said “companies “ - had circulated widespread rumours to the effect that his factor)’ had been closed.
– In what year is it said that the factory was closed? I ask the question because McKay closed the factory himself, I think in 1900, and said the Tariff had ruined him.
– I am glad Senator Findley has reminded me of that. I had not read the rest of the paragraph. What was said was this, and though it is very unkind of him, McKay seems to attribute it to the Age -
The representatives of the International Harvester Company produced voluminous correspondence, newspaper cuttings, and extracts, tracing the origin of the rumours referred to, and quoted a passage in the Age, a Melbourne daily newspaper, dated 7th October, 1904, which read as follows : - “Serious effects at Ballarat. Partial closing of the ‘Sunshine’ Harvester Works.”
So that he complained of being hoist with his own petard. He closed his works - and I think that was a mere dodge - in order to show that his industry was ruined, and because his trade rivals pointed to the paragraph in the Age which recorded that terrible event, he made the rumour a ground of complaint to the Tariff Commission.
– He made two complaints, one that there was not- sufficient protection, and another that the Wages Board determination as to iron-workers’ wages was going to ruin him.
– I do not wish to enter into all the details, but I do ask whether any man of fair mind, who is not absolutely saturated with protectionist prejudice, or carried away, if honorable senators please, by commercial or industrial friendship, will say that these people ought to have this protection.
Sitting- suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I was endeavouring, to point out how no reasons, no facts, and, for the matter of that, no recommendations - that is, without conditions attached - have been made to the Parliament to justify the imposition of this very large increase of duty. I ought to say here that the extracts I have quoted, an.-‘ the references to figures I have given, have been made from the exceedingly full report of the four protectionist members of the Commission. I wish particularly to call attention to the unwillingness of those whom it is sought to aid, notably, the moving spirit in all this business, to supply information which might have guided the Commission in’ respect of matters which they were desirous of investigating, with a view to arriving, at a just conclusion. I shall close that part of the matter by quoting from the report of the four protectionist Commissioners, at page 20, where they express their amazement at the attitude adopted by the manufacturers, chiefly by Messrs. McKay, in withholding information. They say -
Australian manufacturers, whilst challenging the invoice valuations of imported stripperharvesters, were not prepared to give full particulars of the cost of constructing their own machines.
I can well imagine the astonishment of my protectionist friends, who are anxious to relieve the alleged distressed and injured industries, at Messrs. McKay, and perhaps others, being .extremely unwilling - in fact, refusing - to give information which was necessary. There are only one or two other points to which I desire to invite attention. First of all. I ask, is it that they do not get a profit? Is that the reason?
– No; they did not’ want to make the information public. They were prepared to give it to the Commission privately, but not for publication ?
– Why should they have been reluctant? They challenged the figures which were openly and fully given by the other people, and then they refused to submit their own figures for investigation. That was unworthy of them in every respect. I have no wish to interfere with their business
– The others could not help giving their figures.
– The Commission was quite justified in being astonished that the figures were not supplied and exposed to the fullest possible criticism. No doubt they know their own business. Is Parliament going to put more money into their pockets in respect of each machine, and to take that money out of the pockets of the farmers, at the instance of claimants who were unwilling to supply information to the Commission ? If we come to the question of profit, we have, at page 34 of the report of the protectionist Commissioners, a statement - based on the best figures they had - showing that, at a selling price of £81. the merchandising profit on the Massey-Harris machine was £3 is. 9d., on the international Harvester machine £13 is. id., and on the Australianmade machine £18 2s. 7d. According to that finding, the local manufacturers who went before the Commission with their tale of woe, and who are now coming before the Parliament as mendicants, not to take money out of the general revenue, but to take it out of the pockets of the farmers, actually made a merchandising profit per machine of £18 2s. 7d. These people, who are not satisfied with that profit, appear -to have sold in South Australia, in 1905, in round numbers, 1,000 machines. As there was no risk run in that year, because the farmers were well off, from. South Australia alone Messrs. McKay derived something like £18,000. Yet these are the people who come here and say, “We do not get enough profit; we cannot compete with people who are getting a merchandising profit of only £3 is. 9d. in one case, and £13 is. id. in the other, and we want you to put on a higher duty, to be taken out of the pockets of the farmers.”
– They never said that they did not get enough profit.
– Then why give them more?
– We do not propose to give them more. We only propose to give them more trade.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- It is proposed to give them more profit after next year.
– They have already reduced the price.
– There is no evidence of their having already reduced the price. My honorable friend was a member of the Tariff Commission, and I prefer the statements recorded in its proceedings, to private communications made to him or statements which, for advertising purposes, these people choose to put in the press. We ought not to have an investigation of that kind on the floor of the Senate. When, from the protectionist report, the farmers find that such statements have been made, what are they to think? My protectionist friends propose to allow Messrs. McKay to sell their machines at ; £8o or , £90 each until the requirements of the farmers for the harvest are supplied, that is to the extent of thousands of machines. It is only after next February, when the demand is over - in the season when none of them is sold - that my honorable friends say that the manufacturers are to sell the machines at £70 each. In the meantime, perhaps, Parliament may be invited, on a supposed further protectionist mandate, to remove that restriction arid allow the local manufacturers to do just as they please. The more we come to analyze this proposal, the more monstrous it is. What do my honorable friends think that Mr. H. V. McKay - this modest-minded man. who wants no additional profit - asks? His demand was for a duty of £25 per machine. Originally, the Government proposed a duty of £16, as they could not rise to his demand. At page 30 of the report, which, I think, is a mine of information, the protectionist Commissioners say that he urged that -
There should be a straight out duty of £25 on each machine, irrespective of the country from which it came.
The protectionist Commissioners do not recommend that.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to follow that recommendation in favour of an increased duty?
– This is not a straight-out increased duty. It is hedged round with a provision that there shall be fair conditions of labour observed, and that prices shall be reduced.
– Does the honorable senator object to those conditions?
– If they could be effectively carried out, I should not object. But that is a mere illusion. “ There should be a straight-out duty of £25 on each machine,” says this gentleman, who talks about an octopus trust. Mr. McKay, I suppose, like all the rest, is constantly talking about preferential trade. Some protectionist member of the Commission asked him whether he would be in favour of allowing a reduced duty on machines coming from the United Kingdom. That was a bit of a poser for Mr. McKay. “ There might be a little preference granted to the United Kingdom, but,” he thought, “ a duty of£25 was a fair and proper thing.”
That is the way with the high protectionist preferentialist. He wants prohibition against the mother country as well as every other country but he is willing to give a little preference, just, as the expression is, to “ save his face.” I am proud to think that South Australia comes out of this business fairly well. It is a great, and, as a rule, it is a fair-minded State. It has three makers of harvesters, namely, Messrs. James Martin and Company Limited, Messrs. May Brothers, and Messrs. Hawke and Company.
– And Shearer?
– I am not aware that Mr. Shearer makes harvesting machines, but I hope that he will. At any rate, he is not included in the statistics. In 1905, Martin and Company made about 100, Hawke and Company made 90, and May Brothers sold about 300. These gentlemen have been pursuing a course which I should expect of them. Knowing them personally, I have the highest esteem for them, and, although we differ in opinion on the question of protection, I respect their views, and they respect mine. Martin and Company Limited are an oldestablished firm, standing high in the estimation of South Australia, and, I believe, of Australia. May Brothers have not been so long established but occupy an equally high position. Hawke and Company are a wellestablished firm, who have developed very largely, and, I think, intend to develop more in this direction. What, according to this report and the figures, they seem to have to fear in South Australia is not the
American competition - it is the competition of McKay and others, from Victoria. Honorable senators will understand that I am not making any lamentations about it. I believe that my friends in South Australia would be the last to make any complaint. But the competition was such that, in South Australia last. .year, 2,972 out of 4,634 machines sold were of Victorian manufacture. Therefore, the competition which would seem to be feared, if feared ali all - I am sure it is not. feared by courageous and enterprising men such as I have mentioned - is the competition from Victoria. Yet. it is not the South Australian people who have been making these representations to the Tariff Commission.
– Well, the report does not show it. It is these Victorian makers who are scooping the pool already, and want, practically, to drive the others out of the market. Two years ago in South Australia the price of stripper-harvesters was about £70. Honorable senators will find that on page 17 of the protectionist report. It quotes an advertisement in the Kapunda Herald, dated 19th December, 1904, announcing that James Martin and Company of Gawler- were prepared to sell stripper-harvesters at £yo cash, with a foot-note to the price-list offering 5 per cent, discount if three machines were ordered. Thus, if three farmers combined they could get their harvesters from Martin and Company at £66 10s. each. A telegram produced out of the possession of Mr. Degenhardt, of Murtoa, showed that Messrs. Martin and Company had offered to the Murtoa Farmers’ Union to supply stripper-harvesters for the season .1004 at £70, less 10 per cent., which is equal to £63. …. .
In March, 1905, before the South Australian manufacturers became parties to the combine - of which I shall say a word or two in a minute - the selling price of the machine in South Australia was about £70 cash. May Brothers and Martin and Company offered and sold machines at that price. The selling price of Hawke and Company, of Kapunda, was, however, £70 cash.
That is to say, these immaculate people, McKay Brothers, joined - and, so far as I can see, were mainly instrumental in bringing about- a combine to raise the price of machines ; and it was in consequence of that combine, and as a result of what was contemplated by it, that the price was raised from j£-]o to as high as, in some instances, £90 or £95, coming down aga’r to £81. And the people who were most reluctant to join this combine were Messrs. James Martin and Company. Honorable’ senators will find on gage j8 of the report that it was really bv an inadvertence that Messrs. Martin and Company got into the combine -
In March, 1906, Mr. Ferguson, a partner in the firm of Messrs. James Martin and Company, attended a meeting of manufacturers in Melbourne, at which it was proposed there should! be a trade agreement regulating the selling, price of machines. Mr. Ferguson, on behalf of his firm, agreed to join, the selling price being fixed at £8r. When Mr. Ferguson returned to Gawler, and informed Mr. Martin of the result of negotiations, Mr. Martin expressed his disapproval of the arrangement.
All honour to Mr. Martin ! He is a man full of energy and enterprise, and I am delighted to see that he was prepared to fight the thing out for himself. I find on page 19 that it was a telegram from Martin and Company which practically broke up the combine. In September, 1905, the deputation of manufacturers waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs in Melbourne.
At that deputation a telegram was read from James Martin and Company, of Gawler, which had the effect of breaking up the combine. They said that they intended to reduce their price, and withdraw from the arrangement.
That ought to be placarded throughout South Australia to the credit of Messrs. Martin and Company, and in order to show that, at any rate, we have some honest, self-reliant manufacturers in Australia. Now I want to say a word or two about the report of the Tariff Commission. My honorable friend, Senator Best, asked just now whether I was prepared to adopt it. The essential recommendation of the report is that the duty should stand as it is. The recommendation of the protectionist members is, however, cut in two -
That the duty on stripper-harvesters be as follows :- Stripper-harvester, existing duty to remain unaltered, ad valorem, 12-^ per cent.
But then they add - I will not call it a bribe, because that might sound disrespectful to the Commission ; I am sure that they did not intend it in that way, but they make practically a combined arrangement, mixing up a reduction of price, an increase of duty, and a lever for getting better rates of wages for workmen. That was not a recommendation within their power, to my way of thinking. But I should like to call attention to the conditions that they attach to the second part of their recommendation. They say, first of all -
That if, within two years after the passing of the Act, the retail price of stripper-harvesters made in Australia has been raised from £81 ; or if, after the expiration of three years from the passing of the Act, the retail price of stripperharvesters made in Australia has not been reduced to £70 ; or if, after the expiration of one year from the passing of the Act, the manufacturers of stripper-harvesters in Australia are not paying their workmen a fair and reasonable rate of wages, the Governor-General may, upon the receipt of a joint address from the Senate and the House of Representatives -
Just think what a complication that is ! - certifying to the foregoing effect, by proclamation, suspend the collection of such additional duty of12½ per cent. for such period as may be deemed advisable.
This12½ per cent. is put on, not as a protective duty, not because it is wanted, not because there is not profit enough, but as a lever to compel these people who are already charging too much to reduce their price, and to pay their workmen a fair and reasonable rate of wages. What sort of manufacturers are they upon whom it is necessary to bring into play a coercive instrument of this description? That recommendation is now embodied in a Bill - which I say is not within the limits of the Constitution - to impose Customs duties. The duty is to be reduced if the manufacturers do not sell at a sufficiently low price. What does that mean? Is it not a legislative declaration that in-‘ creased duties increase prices? The maximum charge for a harvester is to be£70. Why are we, in a Bill of this description, to put on a duty to compel the manufacturers to reduce their price, and proclaim at the same time that if they donot reduce their price the duty must be taken off? This is not a duty for the purpose of relieving distressed manufacturers, or for the purpose of encouraging industry; it is a duty for an improper purpose which, as I have submitted before and intend to submit again as a matter affecting the business of the Senate, cannot be effectedby any such measure as this. Again, what is the use of putting in a statutory obligation as to a reduction of price when there is no stipulation as to quality? We may say that the manufacturers are not to sell their machines for more than£70.
SenatorMulcahy. - There is no provision for improvement, or alteration, or anything of the kind.
– Absolutely nothing. Then, as some one has interjected, what about repairs? It would be a magnificent thing to sell an inferior machine that would perhaps work for one season. There would be no reason to fear competition, and no comparison with imported machines. The local makers would have it both ways. They would have it in the less expensive quality of the machines that they put out, and they would have it in the increased cost of repairs which the farmer must be obliged to make. Could anything be more absurd than that? Look also at the other condition contained in the Excise Bill. Of course it is not an Excise duty at all. It is a misnomer to call it an Excise duty ; it is really an imposition, to be laid upon certain manufacturers under certain conditions. Look at this provision-
Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth, under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
are declared by resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable.
Let us for a moment consider the position there. I was at first inclined to think that this was an excellent provision. I thought if we are to have these high protective duties we should see to it that the whole of the “boodle,” if I may so call it, does not go into the pockets of the makers, and elevate them into multi-millionaires whilst their workmen are being compelled to live under straitened circumstances. But when I turn to the other side what do I find ? Paragraph d reads -
Are in accordance with terms which in the opinion of the Minister are fair and reasonable.
Look at the back-door kind of influence permitted ! Over and over again, in other Bills, we have had jurisdiction in important matters handed over to the Minister; but that policy was never exemplified in so indefensible a form as on the present occasion. The decision will depend on the Minister in power, and, may be, it will depend on the constituency. I make no imputation, but human nature is human nature; and I say that it may depend on the extent of the influence or power brought to bear by something in the nature of a combine on the Minister, whose decision is final. What protection is that to the worker ? A case may arise at the beginning of the recess, and no control can be exerted over the Minister until Parlia- ment meets again. We cannot have a Royal Commission every time; and it might be impossible to have any investigation, owing to the fact that the Minister has given his decision verbally on information received, and has no documents connected with the affair. Anything more illusory never was invented. If we are to have provisions of this kind, I shall take care that, so far as I am concerned, they are just and enforcible, and that we shall be able, in the light of day, to insure the participation of the workmen in the benefits of the high protection. Paragraph / is framed in a cloud of words in order to make it absolutely useless.
– That does not operate long.
– It ought not to operate a day - it ought not to pass out of the Senate in this shape.
– It only operates until the 31st day of March, 1907.
– Will the Minister consent to have this struck out?
– I do not know. I have not heard the actual reason why this is in the Bill, but there may be some reason.
– It is one of those inscrutable things that is equally a mystery to the Minister and myself. I have always found the Minister of Defence perfectly fair, and he says he has heard no reason why there should be this provision ; but I can give a reason why the provision should be struck out. I pass by the date which the Minister has given, and which is comparatively immaterial, though such a principle may shock any one. The words there are until the conditions - are either as advantageous to the workers as the standard conditions at the place of manufacture - “Standard” is not the kind of word that should be there. We had that word in the Spirits Bill, and the Minister agreed that it should not be there, but he voted against me when I moved its omission. What are the standard conditions? Who is to decide the question ? What would Mr. McKay say ? In his factory the conditions would be the standard conditions in the place - or are declared by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and ‘Arbitration
That would be perfectly right, but why drive the workers in a short interval like this into the Court, when it would cost more, perhaps, than the wages concerned.
– It would not be the workers, but the manufacturers who would be driven into the Court.
– But the workers would have to be represented - or bya Judge of the Supreme Court of the State in which the goods are manufactured -
Very good ; but the whole provision is neutralized by the tail - or by the Minister, to be fair and reasonable.
We shall shortly have an election, in which the Minister will be engaged - actively, so far as I can hear - and yet he is to be the final judge in this matter. What is the use of playing the fool with the Senate in this way? We shall have an opportunity in Committee to deal with the clauses; and I should like to summarize the position in two or three questions. Why is this Bill desired ? Why tax the farmers in order to subsidize manufacturers, who are already doing well with increasing businesses, with larger profits? Is it because those manufacturers are competing with cheaper labour ? No, it is not that, because the only evidence we have, as shown in the report of the protectionist members of the Commission, is that higher wage’s are paid in Canada than in Australia.
– There are longer hours in Canada.
– Why should the Minister say that, seeing that it does not appear in the passage I have referred to? The reason that Canadian manufacturers can produce a little cheaper is that they have more up-to-date machinery, and, as the evidence showed, they are content with infinitely less profit than are the Australian manufacturers. This Bill, if it passes,’ is prohibition. If we are to have prohibition, let us have it, but let us have it direct, and not by means of a subterfuge. Then, I ask, is the Bill wanted, because Mr. McKay represents that individual energy which we applaud, and which scorns combination ? Nothing of the kind. Mr. McKay was ready to enter into a combination in 1905, and did enter into one, which raised the price of these machines very largely. It was not because Mr. McKay desired to break the ring that it appears to have been broken, but because of some telegram from Martin and
Co., of South Australia. Is the Bill introduced because Mr. McKay will not have any traffic with those people - because he will not. so to speak, touch them with a pitchfork? Nothing of the kind. Mr. McKay wanted to sell his business to them a year or two ago; he was ready to enter into an arrangement to sell the whole of his business to people whom he supposed were more competent to carry it on, or, perhaps, he thought he might do better in other directions with his money. Is the Bill introduced because this is a ruined industry - an injured or prejudiced industry ? Is it because Mr. McKay is a kind of friendless derelict in the industrial world of Australia? Mr. McKay is coining money.
– No manufacturer in Australia is making more.
– The fact exudes from the whole of the Tariff Commission’s report, not merely that Mr. McKay is coining money, but that he is coining so much that he is unwilling to allow the facts to be brought before the public. Is it because Mr. McKay has not had Tariff advantages up to the present time? Each machine was taxed, according to the report of the protectionist members of the Commission, at £5 4s. 7d. a machine; but in consequence of the autocratic and muchcriticised action - I do not wish to apply anysevere words - of the ‘Minister of Trade and Customs, in increasing the market value in the country of origin from ,£38 to £65, additional duty was charged, making the total £8 as. 6d. Therefore, no one can say that there is not a substantial Tariff advantage given to these makers at present, and, what is more to the point, that the present duties have the effect of producing revenue for the Commonwealth. It may be convenient at the close of the secondreading debate for me to formally submit the point of order which I have already indicated. I regard this Bill as one of the most important we have ever had to consider in the Senate; it is not a measure of minor consequence which we might pass without much consideration. The question is - are we to give increased profits to these already enriched manufacturers? The object of the Tariff Commission, and the object of all Tariff policy and Tariff agitation during the last twelve months or more, has been to strengthen weak industries, and give relief to those which seem to have been debilitated. That has been the desire of every one on both sides ; and we are all ready, whether free-traders or protectionists, to give careful and favorable consideration to any industry which was flourishing and healthy at the time of the imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff, but which is now suffering prejudice as a result of that Tariff. But we want the weakness to be proved, and the ruin or anticipated ruin made manifest. We were urged to pass the Anti-Trust Bill in order to save the industries of Australia from combines, not merely in Australia, but outside - to prevent individual enterprise being, so to speak, overtaken, and driven out by the overpowering and maleficent force of trusts and combines. One object of that measure, amongst others, was to prevent the harvester trust, if there was a trust, from doing damage in Australia. If any damage arises from trusts and combines, why should we not be content with that measure? Are we still to further inflate the profits of the local manufacturers by means of these duties? Let us be just. These Bills are admitted bv the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission to be unjust without the safeguards - those illusory safeguards - to which I have referred. Above all. let us be careful at this period of the session not to be hurried into agreeing to something of which we may bitterly repent; let us refuse to allow the Senate to be made the mere instrument of political exigencies, or of what would be wrong-doing, without ample time for reflection.
.- I was curious to know how this Bill would strike the critical mind of Senator Symon. So far as I know, there is no precedent for it. The point I intended to take when we got into Committee was that it is not a Taxation Bill within the meaning of the Constitution. It is true that it is in the form of a Taxation Bill, but I take it that in deciding whether it is such a. Bill or not. the well-known rule will be followed of looking past the form to the substance. A tax is a. general levy made on the “ population in order to raise revenue for governmental purposes. An Excise tax is particularly a tax upon the consumer. As the origin of the word shows, it is something that is “ cut off,” something taken from an article that is consumed, and has, therefore, to be paid by the consumer. The process which a Go,vernment adopts in order to obtain it is to put its hands on the goods which are to be the subject of Excise as near the source of manufacture as possible, and to hold them in bond until the Excise is paid. This is called an Excise Duties Bill, but when we examine it we find that there is attached 10 it a schedule of so-called Excise duties which are not to be imposed except on certain contingencies which may depend upon the will of an individual Minister. I sub.mit that that does not constitute an Excise duty. If we read the measure, disregarding its title and form, this is a Bill to impose certain labour conditions upon persons engaged in certain industries with a penalty provided for a breach of those conditions, and the penalty is to be measured by the number of machines turned out at a certain rate. It seems clear that this is not an. Excise Bill, for the reason that the penalties proposed are not Excise duties. The man who manufactures these articles is to be allowed to sell them without paying any duty, and they will go into consumption all over Australia, and perhaps abroad. Then some dispute arises between him and his workmen as to whether the workmen are receiving fair conditions and wages. They make a complaint, and if they enlist the sympathies of some newspaper, the complaint will probably be heard by the Government. Some inquiry might be made, and the Government might then decide that the machines were not made according to the labour conditions prescribed. What would follow then? If the Bill means anything, I presume that what would follow would be that the Government would impose the penalty upon the manufacturer. But that is not levying an Excise duty. This is not an Excise Bill, but a measure which constitutes an offence, and provides a penalty for a breach of the offence in this form. The Government are trying, under this Bill, to do something which thev have not the power to do under the Constitution. If they have not the power to do it under the Constitution directly, and in an open and above-board manner, they certainly cannot do what they propose in the form of an Excise Bill. What they could do under this Bill, if it were in order, would be to regulate the conditions under which manufactories shall be conducted in any State. They are interfering in a trading and industrial matter within a State. It has been shown over and over again that that is what the Government are always trying to do, and what thev cannot do under the Constitution. We have power under the Constitution to deal with trade and commerce between the States, and with foreign countries, but we have not the power to interfere with trade and commerce within a State. That is what the Government are always trying to do, and it is what they are trying to do here. They are asking Parliament, in the form of an Excise Bill, to impose conditions of manufacture in a factory within a State, and possibly with respect to goods which will be consumed in that State only. We have no power to do that. They propose, if the conditions prescribed are not complied with, to levy the socalled Excise duties, after the goods have gone into consumption. That will not be levying an Excise duty, but exacting a penalty from certain manufacturers for a breach of conditions of labour laid down in this Bill. I say that if the .measure came to us in that form it would not be a Taxation Bill, and we could, therefore, amend it. The objection would be patent on the face of it that it proposed’ to exceed the powers given to the Parliament under the Constitution. What I propose to do in order to test the matter, because I think it is one on which your ruling, Mr. President, can be obtained-
– The honorable senator will recollect that I have always refused to give a ruling as to the construction of the Constitution.
– There is an exception in cases where it is necessary to decide a point in order to fix the proceedings of the Senate. I might mention now that I think the proper way to test the matter will be to move in Committee an amendment instead of a request. If it is not a Taxation Bill we can move an amendment. I propose to adopt that course, and we shall then, probably, obtain the benefit of your ruling on the point. If you decide that it is a Taxation Bill, I suppose we could not get any further ruling on the point, but what I propose to do then is to move a request for the omission of the whole of the proviso in clause 2, on the ground that it exceeds our powers under the Constitution. This is a very difficult matter with which to deal, and, as I do not desire to take up very much time, I feel that I can do little .more than define my position in regard to it. In 1903, less than three years ago, I was proclaiming to the electors of Australia a policv of fiscal peace, which I explained to mean that there would be a period in the existence of this Parliament during which the Tariff would not be disturbed. That did not cover small alterations of the Tariff such as the removal of. hardships and anomalies, and I made the further exception that I should always be in favour of preferential trade. But it was understood at the time that the Government, of which I was a member, had adopted a policy which would prevent the making of any considerable change in the Tariff in the direction of giving increased protection during the currency of this Parliament. It seems to me that nothing that has since taken place between political parties can alter what was practically a compact between Federal politicians and the electors of Australia. I have not created the present situation. It has been forced upon me. I am in the position of having to vote upon a measure brought before the Senate, and I should, therefore, like to be able to consider it upon its merits.
– Would not the honorable senator like a quorum ? [Quorum formed.]
– Soon after the last Government took office an inquiry was started in one of the Melbourne newspapers with regard to the condition of industries, and more particularly to those in Victoria, and under the heading, “The Strangled Industries,” ‘articles appeared from; day to day, reciting the condition of industries round about Melbourne, and describing the parlous state to which they had been reduced by competition with importations. Politicians were exhorted to do something at once in order to rescue these “ strangled industries” from complete destruction. Tt was not only large industries that were considered at the time. A number of interesting accounts appeared of what might be called the smaller industries. A great number of them put in a claim for increased protection, and the understanding was that if anything were done, this great newspaper would certainly support the small industries in an endeavour to obtain the protection thev were asking for. It is curious to note. and. to say the least, it is thought provoking, that the bitter cry of “the strangled industries^” of which we hear’d so .much, has materialized into n demand for increased protection for two industries only. which, of all the industries in Australia, have the least claim to such assistance. The time of this Parliament has been occupied during the present session with p demand for increased protection for the distilling industries. It has been clearly shown that no increased protection for that industry is needed.. It has been shown that under the Tariff the distillation of spirits has more than doubled in less than five years, the only difference being that the centre of activity has shifted from the south to the more northern States. Another demand has been made for increased protection for the harvester industry, and we had it from Sena- tor Trenwith last night that those concerned in that industry do not claim increased protection, because their operations are not remunerative. They conduct a very large business, and, as Senator Trenwith has said, a- most lucrative business. Yet they are asking for more protection. We. had this session a measure called the Anti-Trust Bill, which we were led to understand would do all that was needed, because, if necessary, the Minister of Trade and Customs could prohibit importation. It took a long time to pass that highlycontentious measure, and last night- Senator Trenwith said he doubted whether it would be efficacious, because, in his opinion, the importers would find some way of getting round its provisions. Consequently we have, at the instance of the stripper-harvester industry, another Bill of a highly contentious character. It is one which I think should not be brought on at this late stage of the Parliament. Anyone who attempted to read the voluminous evidence taken by the Tariff Commission must come to the conclusion that if we who possess no special information on the subject are to give a considered judgment, we ought to have any amount of time available. But instead of time for reflection being allowed, this very highly contentious and, in many respects, novel legislation, is brought forward at a time when the Parliament is practically demoralized.
– It is actually demoralized.
– One might just as well talk to a row of lamp posts as talk to the members of the Senate. The Parliament is thoroughly demoralized. The end of the session is approaching; a general election is pending ; in the classic language of a representative in another place, “ the other bloke is on the job “ : in fact, we are trying to make a pretence of considering legislation at a time when it is absolutely impossible for us to give that close scrutiny which it seems to require.
– This is not by any means the first time that I have risen to address thu Senate on the subject of the stripperharvester. I am sorry to say that the position grows in seriousness. I am surprised at such proposals as are contained in this Bill being allowed to remain before the Parliament so long as they have been. I do not believe that, so far, in the history of the Commonwealth, anything has been so calculated to shock the public sense of justice as’ the action in connexion: with the stripper-harvesters. The Bills on the subject before the Senate are of a most extraordinary character. For the first time we have the prices of an article fixed in a measure. That is a monstrous and unheard-of thing. Just as well might we presume to regulate how wind should blow ! How the provision is to be carried out I should like to know. Are the various prices to be regarded as net or gross prices, as cash or booking prices? The whole scope of this Bill is ludicrous in that respect. It is provided that the stripperharvester must be sold at a price not exceeding £80, otherwise certain consequences may ensue, but it is not stated whether or not that is to be a cash price, The sellers may say, “ Our price is £80 cash, but if you take time to pay then, according to previous arrangements, certain charges will be added. You will have to pay so much for accommodation.” In that way the cost may be brought up from £80 to £90. All the evidence relative to the stripper-harvester which has been brought before the Senate, or supplied to the TarifF Commission, has pointed in one direction, and that is that it can be made in Australia at about ^40 or a little more. Yet we are asked to pass a Bill in which, on the understanding that certain duties are imposed, it is provided that a price ranging from ^70 to £80 may be charged. This is put forward as a great gain to the farming industry. Surely the farmers are not so weakminded, so easily gulled, as to be led to believe that the provisions of the Bill are at all necessary ! I wish to draw attention to some remarks made by Senator Trenwith when the Australian Industries Preservation Bill was introduced, and it must always be remembered that we owed that measure to the harvester agitation. When the honorable senator was speaking about harvesters he spoke about a chain of evidence as if the harvester industry of Australia were the object of a conspiracy-
– I rise to a point of order. On last Thursday afternoon, sir, when I desired to quote from a speech made bv Senator Symon on the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, and bearing on the Bill then under discussion, you ruled that I was out of order. I understand that Senator Pulsford now intends to quote from a speech made in that debate.
– I did not hear the remark of Senator Pulsford, but if he intends to quote from a previous debate of the current session he will be out of order.
– What I propose to do, sir, is to refer to certain remarks made by Senator Trenwith relative to statements made before the Tariff Commission by Mr. McKay and others.
– On this Bill?
– The honorable senator cannot refer to any remarks which were made in a previous debate of this session and on another Bill.
– I shall be able to do it without-
– The honorable senator cannot do it either directly or indirectly. It is my duty to administer the standing order.
– Do you, sir, rule that I cannot read anything which was said in a previous debate?
– The honorable senator must not even refer to a previous debate of this session. The standing order says -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion.
– It has been stated that there was practically something like a conspiracy to injure the harvesting industry, and that harvesters bearing McKay’s mark and brand were bought and sold under cost purposely with a view to injuring his industry. I desire to quote from the evidence put before the Tariff Commission to show how unfair that statement was. At page 1748 of the volume dealing with metals and machinery I find the following evidence: - 175. Massey-Harris Selling “Sunshines.” - Considerable capital has been made out of the allegation of unfair competition on the part of the importers, and much of the simulated fear of annihilation has been based on this ground. The instance of the “ Sunshine “ harvesters sold to Mr. Claridge, Crystal Brook, South Australia, was made a great deal of by Mr. McKay (see queries 17249 to 17299), as a proof of this unfair competition by Massey-Harris Co. Ltd. The following letter from Messrs. Clutterbuck Bros., the agents of Massey-Harris Co. Ltd., South Australia, deals with this matter. I can produce the original letter to the Commission if desired, as well as letters from the farmers referred to therein, which completely refute Mr. McKay’sallegation that these customers were approached by Clutterbuck Bros. 176. The letter reads as under : - “Adelaide, 29th May, 1905.” “ Messrs. Massey-Harris Co. Ltd., Melbourne. “Dear Sirs, - H. V. McKay, of the ‘Sunshine’ Harvester Company, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, reported in the Age of April 29th, has seen fit to drag into prominence the name of Mr. Burford, one of the partners of our firm, and to single us out for censure in respect to the unfairness of our business methods in the competition of this State for the stripper harvester trade. “In justice to ourselves, ‘ as well as to your company, we wish to refute the statements made by Mr. McKay, and to say that he has not accurately placed before the Commission the facts. “ Mr. McKay asserts that we in 1904 endeavoured to undermine his business by purchasing ‘Sunshine’ harvesters at£90 each from farmers, who had placed orders with his firm, that we afterwards hawked them round the country offering to sell them for £80 apiece, and finally disposed of them to Mr. Claridge at£75 each. “ We say emphatically that Mr. McKay’s evidence in regard to our making overtures for the purchase of these harvesters is not correct, and the facts are as under : - “ 1. Having been approached in four instances by farmers who had ordered from McKay, we exchanged four Massey-Harris harvesters for ‘ Sunshines’ ; the customers in each instance, after ordering the ‘Sunshine’ machines, and expressing themselves as not satisfied with the McKay combination, indicated to us that in the event of our finding outlets for the Sunshines,’ they would be prepared to exchange them for our machine, and pay for ours the price they had agreed to pay the ‘Sunshine’ people. We concluded deals with out friends on these lines, i.e., these farmers paid us the full ‘Sunshine’ prices for the Massey machines ; these prices being several pounds in excess of the Massey ordinary selling rates. Consequently the farmers lost on these transactions, and not ourselves. “a. The four McKay machines abovementioned were taken from-
Thos. Camac, Riverton ;
Uriah Smith, Laura.
These clients can prove that they first approached us regarding the ex changes, and that we did not endeavour to get hold of McKay’s harvesters to do his business injury, or use unfair methods in order to obtain possession of them. In fact, we may say that in two instances we did our utmost to induce the parlies to stand by their bookings with McKay, and keep the machines. “ 3. In regard to Mr. McKay’s contention that these machines were hawked about and eventually sold to Claridge at£75 each, we five you below the names of the parties with whom we placed them, and the prices we obtained for them : -
Claridge Bros., Crystal Brook, 2 machines (cash), £75 each.
Messrs. Claridge Bros, bought from us four harvesters, i.e., two MasseyHarris and two ‘Sunshines,’ with the right to an agency commission, thereby netting the machines down to £75 each ; our quotation to them being for four machines, with a right to two extra Massey-Harris, making six harvesters in all. At which price we would have been prepared to treat on a net cash basis with any of our agents for that number of machines. “ Briefly, these are the facts concerning the transactions referred to by Mr. McKay in his evidence before the Commission, but he omitted to say, while endeavouring to injure our reputation for honest trading, that he, in 1903, purchased from customers of ours in the Mallala district of South Australia (Messrs. Nairn Brothers), a Massey-Harris harvester, and, to use his own term, ‘hawked’ it over South Australia, the machine eventually finding a buyer in Mr. W. B. Davis, of Riverton, who purchased it for £60. “ Mr. McKay has, therefore, only himself to blame if his unfair and unbusinesslike methods have forced his competitors to adopt tactics which, under ordinary conditions, they would not be compelled to do. “(Signed) Clutterbuck Bros.”
Thus, although Mr. McKay was making bitter complaint in his evidence about the “Sunshine “ machines sold to Claridge, and which has been fully answered by Messrs. Clutterbucks’ letter, he failed to mention the fact that he had in the previous year bought a MasseyHarris harvester from Nairn Bros., Mallala, S.A., and after “hawking” it about the State eventually sold it for £60 to Mr. W. B. Davis, of Riverton.
That is the true answer to the statement frequently made that attempts were made to injure Mr. McKay and other local makers of machines, and warranted special legislation. Statements, have also been made with regard to another manufacturer, Mr. Mitchell, and a witness before the Tariff Commission, Mr. Cowles, was ex- amined with regard to it. I find his evidence on page 1807 -
A statement was made to the Commission the other day by Mr. Mitchell, who produced an affidavit of one of his employes, in regard to certain transactions of your company. Have you had an opportunity of seeing that statement? - I have not. I have written to Mr. Mitchell, and he informs me he did not keep a copy of the affidavit. I received a letter from him this morning, and he gave me the name of the party, and stated it referred to a plough and pointed out that our assistant manager for Victoria, Mr. Alder, knew the circumstances. Mr. Alder is out of town at present, otherwise I should probably know what was referred to. We are taking pains to try and get posted about it, because we have no knowledge of ever having sold anybody’s goods, representing them to be made by any person other than the actual maker.
Mr. Mitchell put in his evidence an affidavit by a person named G. Carter. Will you please read that affidavit for yourself. Having read it, do you know anything of the circumstances of your own knowledge? - Absolutely nothing.
Have you handled any. of Mitchell’s goods at all? - As faras I know, none.
That rebuts the evidence given by the manager oft he harvester company as to efforts made to discredit the Australian makers. I think it is desirable, in view of the statements, repeatedly made on this subject, that the truth should be known. As regards the price of machines, I find that Mr. Martin, of South Australia, gave some evidence which is reported on page 17 16. He was asked a question about something which had appeared in the Kafunda Herald, and the examination went on -
Then the net price to any farmers taking the three machines among them would be £66 10s. ? - I do not think the advertisement offers 5 per cent, of£70. Perhaps you have the paper there.
I have ? -If that is stated in the Kafunda Herald, I suppose it is correct.
I understand that was in December last year ? - Yes.
Further on, the evidence relates -
Did you not tell me it was probably advertised by your people in December last that, for the season 1904-5, your price would be £70, less 5 per cent. for cash for three machines? - I will sell you ten machines now at £60 each. The price advertised in the Kafunda Herald, without seeing it, would be the reduced price of £10 on the machines left over from the previous year.
I do not think that there is much room after evidence like that for the Government to boast that they are doing anything for the farmers. Mr. Martin was asked a further question -
But I suppose that without these special considerations, and with an average run of trade, £70 would give you a fair trade ? - I think it would pay us, but would not give a very large profit.
Those statements appear to me to be absolutely conclusive, added to the statements which have appeared from time to time from all sorts of quarters, indicating how cheaply these machines can be made. The Senate by this time is very well aware that the cost of manufacturing them is very largely added to before they reach the hands of the farmers, by the system under which they have to be sold, and that the price contains very considerable amounts of what may be called conditions for tuition, for repairs and so on. All these factors have been purposely ignored, and the price has been stated to have been what it was not. The public have been gulled. The more the facts relating to this matter are looked into the more obvious it becomes that the Minister of Trade and Customs has largely exceeded the demands of justice, that he has taken arbitrary steps, that he has done things that were not called for, and that either by mistake or by design we now have before us measures for adding to the statute-book duties which are not required, and which can only be described as an imposition.
Senator Lt.Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [3.54] - I feel that it is very unfortunate that we are driven into the discussion of a matter like the one before us at the fag end of a session, when honorable senators are desirous to get away quickly, instead of giving proper care and attention to the subject. It would have been much better had the Government seen its way to allow proposals for amending the Tariff to be dealt with when there was ample time to consider the report of the Tariff Commission, and after we had had an opportunity to consult the electors. I am perfectly sure that the subject would be dealt with much more satisfactorily after mature consideration than at a time when the coming dissolution is so rapidly approaching. However, we have to take matters as they are. The Government has paid more attention to individual cases than to the Tariff generally. Quite recently, we had before us a question of Excise, in which the predominant influence of a Victorian firm was manifest. That influence seemed to have affected Ministers, and induced them to submit proposals for legislation that were not justified or required, either in the interests of the persons immediately concerned, or of the Commonwealth at large. In dealing with harvesters, we find that another ‘prominent Victorian firm is especially interested. When we look through the report of the Tariff Commission, we cannot fail to be impressed with the idea that the industry is certainly not in a failing or miserable condition. We have always been told that one of the great objects of imposing protective duties was to enable an industry to struggle through its early stages, so as to be able to equip itself in the fight for life that industries, as well as communities have to endure. But we find that, as time passes, industries established under protection depend more and more upon artificial support, and to an increasing degree come to Parliament for assistance. Instead of being in a position to say, after some years of protection, “ We have been able to make our position assured, and are now prepared to fight against all competition, no matter whence it comes,” we find that demands are made for increased duties. ‘But in the case that we are now dealing with,, we discover that the industry has been increasing. The advantages it enjoys over its foreign competitors in the way of freights, agency charges, and other expenses have enabled it to become prosperous. If the industry had been in a languishing condition. I could have understood protectionists saying, “ If it is destroyed a number of men will be thrown out of employment, and, therefore, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to come to its assistance.” But even Senator Trenwith has admitted that the harvester-makers are in a lucrative position, that their business is considerable, and their profits large. I find, from a return presented to the other branch of the Legislature on the motion of Mr. Kelly as to the number of stripper-harvesters imported from Canada and other countries, that the figures are as follows: - In 1904, there were no particulars available. In 1905 there were approximately 1,000 stripper-harvesters imported from Canada, and 730 from elsewhere; but there were no imports during the first five months of
T906. The same return shows that in 1905 the approximate number of stripperharvesters made in Australia was 2,700. and that the manufacture was increasing ; and, further, that during igo; there were 418 exported, and 484 during the first seven months of this vear. I am sure that if any honorable senator, in addressing an audience, desired to point out the prosperity of this particular industry, he could not have much better statistics than these, which show that since the beginning of this year Australia has produced all the stripperharvesters required in the country. It would be interesting to know whether there have been any importations since the end of May of this year, but the fair presumption is that there have not. On the contrary, if there had been any, we may depend upon it that the Minister of Trade and Customs would have taken precious good care to have the fact made known, not only in the House of Representatives, but in the Senate. During 1905 there were 389 stripper-harvesters exported to Argentina, and the number exported in the first seven months of 1906 was 455. The exportation to other places is only small, but I find that there were twenty stripperharvesters sent to Uruguay during the first seven months of this year. If honorable senators turn to the evidence, thev will see that in Argentina big prices were paid for these machines. The argument has been used that it is a good thing to have a place to dump surplus stocks, and certainly the exporters of stripper-harvesters have found a happy dumping-ground in Argentina. Mr. McKay, when before the Tariff Commission, said that the Sunshine harvester which was sold retail in Australia at £8i was sold in Argentina at £140. All I can say is that a manufacturer who can find a dumping place where nearly double the home price can be obtained must be doing particularly well. Mr. McKay declined to give the exact price at which he invoiced the machine, and sold them wholesale in Argentina, but said that he had a better article and got a better price in that country than in Australia. He was asked for the invoice price of the machines exported to Buenos Ayres, but he replied that he did not think it was a fair question, though he subsequently gave the information to the Commission in strict confidence. But is that’ a reasonable way in which to deal with a question of this kind? The members of the Commission had this information given to them in confidence; and yet we find that four protectionist members report one .way and four free-trade members another. “ The presumption is that the information given to the Commission was not such as to seriously weigh in the minds of the free-trade members.
– The protectionist members of the Commission reported in the same way as did the freetrade members, excepting that the former recommended the additional duty on con- ditions.
-Col. GOULD.- The protectionist members suggested that certain conditions should be observed if there had to be an increase of duty. But are those conditions anything beyond what the workmen of Australia expect in the way of fair wages and conditions of employment? Evidence was taken by the Commission as to the probable cost of manufacturing stripper-harvesters. There seems to have been a good deal of difficulty in obtaining information on this point, but some evidence was given by an overseer in Mr. McKay’s works, and this seems to have led to other witnesses following his example. The conclusion at which the Commission arrived was that stripper-harvesters could be produced in Australia for £41, as against a cost of production by the MasseyHarris Company of £$8 os. 3d.. In the case of the Massey-Harris machines, however, there were importing expenses amounting to £22, bringing the cost to £61, as against £41- in the case of the locally-made article. Here we have a difference of something like £20, quite apart from the duties, and agency and other expenses. Yet the Government coolly ask us to pass a Bill under which, after the 1st February, 1907, the prices of these machines shall range from £70 to £80, according to size. It is quite true that twelve months later they are to reduce the price by something ke £5 ; but, under the most favorable conditions, it will be seen that the price will range from £61 to ^75 for a machine which costs £a.T. to produce. It is all very well for honorable senators to say that such prices should be permitted for the purpose of encouraging and strengthening local industries. But those local industries, however valuable, represent but a small fraction of the people who are interested in having cheap machines of this character. These stripper-harvesters were formerly sold at a less price than that proposed by the Government, and it is possible that the industry did not then pay very well ; but it is a mistake to attempt to handicap our farmers by additional duties and charges in every direction. Where the primary producers’ are to reap any advantage under this Bill, I am at a loss to see. The Government propose to do something in the way of bonuses for the encouragement of products which they think may be acclimatized in this country ; .but how are the wheat producers to benefit under this legislation? These producers have already proved that a certain agricultural industry can be carried on in this country with profit to themselves and advantage to -the community. But the prices of their products are regulated by the prices in the free-trade markets of the world ; and nothing that we can do by way of legislation can increase their profits. . Why should these men be handicapped, simply in order to keep a few manufacturers employed in producing an article which the farmers are bound to possess, no matter what the price may be?
– Is not that the whole principle of protection - to compel the primary producer to pay for the secondary producer?
-Col. GOULD.- I recognise that the Bill comes from a protectionist Government, in consequence of a number of protectionist recommendations. But we cannot cease pointing out how cruelly and unfairly such legislation bears on certain classes of the community. There are many occupations which can receive no benefit whatever from protection ; and yet the people engaged in those occupations have to pay enhanced prices in order to swell the profits of certain manufacturers. The three great primary industries of agriculture, pastoral pursuits, and mining can reap no advantage from the increased duties, which are being piled on year after year in the interests of a handful of manufacturers.
– The machinery is cheaper now than ever it was.
.- Does the honorable senator contend that this Bill will make machinery cheaper? It has never been the policy of the Commonwealth Government, in the whole course of its history, to assist the people of the country who might justly have expected a helping hand. On the contrary, one hindrance after another has been placed in the way ; and instead of being a free people, left to carry on our vocations for our own advantage, we are being placed in fetters. It is now sought to regulate the price of agricultural implements; but possibly the policy may extend further until, under extraordinary legislation of this kind, we may find ourselves hampered by all sorts -of conditions. In some of the States there have been established Arbitration Courts, and in Victoria there are Wages Boards. With what object? With the object of seeing that employes are fairly paid, and of dealing with any difficulties which may arise in an industry. Under this Bill, however, the Minister of Trade and Customs is to be endowed with all sorts of powers as to the regulation of wages and conditions of work. If we turn to the Bill providing for duties of Excise, we shall find all sorts of conditions set out, and it is provided that– this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
While we are professing to charge certain duties of Excise we insert a proviso that they are not to apply in the case of a manufacturer who carries on his business under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which are declared by resolution of both Houses of Parliament to be fair and reasonable. Is Parliament the proper place in which to consider and decide such a question? There might be a prolonged debate in which over a hundred members of the Parliament would have the right to take part, and, no doubt, all sorts of diverse views would be expressed.
– They would have to take evidence.
– How would they take evidence? Would they appoint a special committee, or have witnesses called to the bar of each Chamber? We could understand such matters being dealt with by persons who are able to consider such questions judicially, but we know that Parliament is prone to deal with questions from a political, and not from a judicial stand-point. While some members of Parliament might deal with such questions judicially, the majority would view them from a political stand-point, not through any desire to be unjust, but because they would be unable to free themselves from certain preconceived political ideas. Again, there are to be no duties of Excise imposed if the conditions as to the remuneration of labour are in accord with terms which, in the opinion of the Minister, are fair and reasonable. Could anything be imagined more likely to bring about corruption, or the suspicion of corruption, than to leave the decision as to whether the terms are fair and reasonable to a politician dependent for his support, and for the support of the Government of which he is a member, on the votes of persons holding, particular political opinions? We know how serious it would be if in this community we were day after day confronted with charges of corruption against Ministers. In some parts of the world we are often told that Parliament and Ministers are corrupt. Surely we do not desire that people should be given the opportunity to say that our Ministers or Parliament are corrupt. We should prefer to have it said that corruption is most exceptional rather than customary in the political life of Australia. It has been the boast of many in Australia that, at all events, until within, very recent years, there have not been in. this country any of the great public political scandals which from time to time we hear of as arising in other parts of the world. It should be the object of our peopleto place Ministers in such a position that no opportunity would be afforded to make charges of political corruption, against them. We have no right to put any such duty upon a Minister. He will have a number of responsible duties which he must necessarily perform, and we should not add to them duties which might bring him into conflict with various people, and leave him open to charges of corruption. Conditions of labour and wages should not be decided by Parliament, but by Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards. It will be. time enough to ask Parliament to in terfere in such matters when it is shown that Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards are incapable of dealing with them. Even then Parliament should not be asked to deal with such matters in the way provided in this Bill, but should be able to appoint a competent Board to ascertain what would? be proper conditions, and to submit a report which, if satisfactory, might be accepted- I shall always raise my voice against any attempt to give undue consideration to manufacturers who are already doing well and making money, merely in order that they may do still better. I suppose that some honorable senators have made up their mind to support this Bill, whether it is debated or not. We should like to hear from them some good reasons for supporting the measure, and it is not sufficient for them to say that, as the session is drawing to a close, they must go away to their constituents, and must, therefore, hurry the business of the Senate along in order to get into recess as soon as possible. I trust that whatever the ultimate result of the measure may be, it will not be what, apparently, the Government desire. If it is, I hope that it will not be long before an opportunity will be given to Parliament to reconsider this and other measures which have recently been debated in a common-sense way. However, if one desired to undo all that has been clone by this Parliament . which in the interests of the community ought not to have been done, he would have a very hard and difficult task to perform.
– I was hoping that a supporter of the Bill would have had something to say in support of it.
– Senators McGregor, Trenwith, and I have spoken in support of the measure.
– Senator Trenwith has spoken as the advocate for the largest manufacturer concerned. I cannot find that there has been any real support of the Bill.
– How can the honorable senator expect good support for a bad Bill?
– The Tariff Commission appointed to investigate this particular subject have said that the duties should remain as they ate.
– The Bill is based on the Tariff Commission’s report.
– Half the members of the Commission have saidthat if the duties are to be altered it must be only under certain conditions, and the other half recommend that an increase of duty should not be made at all. What do we find under this Bill? The GovernorGeneral - that is to say, the Minister of Trade and Customs - is to be the judge of prices.
– No; Parliament will fix the prices.
– He is to be the judge whether the conditions prescribed have been complied with. Where will he obtain the knowledge to enable him to decide such a matter? Is evidence to be taken in the matter, or are members of Parliament to be judges of the conditions of trade? I should say that the Bill is unique in the history of legislation, and that the introduction of such a measure at a time when the industry chiefly concerned is in extremely prosperous conditions, savours very much of log-rolling. I cannot understand why the Government have lent themselves to such a proposal. That an effort should be made to increase the profits of large manufacturers who are already making considerable profits, whilst, perhaps, more deserving industries are not dealt with, gives this proposal a very bad complexion. I should like to have an answer to the question put by Senator Symon. It has not been answered yet. The honorable and learned senator asked why, if81 is too high a price for these machines in February, 1907, it is not too high now. Farmers buying machines for the harvest must under this Bill pay£81 for them.
– Under this Bill the manufacturers are to be allowed to charge £81 for them, but, after the harvest is over, they are not to be allowed to charge more than£70.
– Who is paying£81 for them now?
– What are the farmers paying for them now?
– They are not paving
– We have no evidence of that at all.
– My reading, of the Bill is that the manufacturers are allowed at present to charge the ordinary price of £81 referred to in the Tariff Commission’s report. If the farmers are to receive a present of £11, which is considered their due, it ought to be given to them before the harvest, rather than after it, and before the manufacturers are enabled to make the enormous profits which this Bill will permit them to make.
– Mr. President-
– The honorable senator has spoken.
– I tried yesterday to point out the errors and iniquities of the Bill, and I now wish to speak to the amendment.
– Yes, I suppose so.
– The amendment presents the business in an entirely new light. It really forces us to look all round, and inquire whether or not there is any urgency in connexion with this Bill. I am forced to pause and ask myself whether we are not riding rough-shod over the rights of the electors. In 1903 the members of ‘the present Government, or the majority of them, asked the electors to sanction their policy, which was practically that of fiscal peace. By the introduction of this Bill and others, they are unquestionably . violating the pledges which secured their return.
– The honorable senator ought to have taken that point on the Spirits Bill.
– I intend to refer to that Bill directly. .
– Especially as this Bill is not to give relief to an injured industry. That, I think, was the exception made.
– Yes ; but at the present time I want, if the Government have any lingering regard for their own pledges, to show them that having solicited the votes of the electors in support of their policy of fiscal peace, there was no justification for introducing, and still less justification for proceeding with, this Bill, and ‘many others, including the Spirits Bill. If, in the course of their interrupted occupancy of the Treasury bench, the Government have seen any reason why they should depart from that policy, and at this juncture to attempt to impose a higher range of protective duties to increase the barriers which stand between the electors and the surplus products of other countries, then they ought not to attempt to pass the Bill now, but, by postponing its consideration until after the general elections, give the electors an opportunity of saying whether they approve of this proceeding or not. If the Senate recognises, as I am sure it does, that it stands here to reflect the wishes of the electors, and as far as possible to give effect to them, there is only one way in which that can be done, and that is by as far as possible legislating according to the desires which the constituencies have expressed. What evidence have we that the electors want this Bill? There is absolutely none. If the Government occupy their position by virtue of anything, it may be said to do so by reason of the fact that in 1903 the electors supported their appeal to the constituencies. That appeal I repeat was one for strength to adhere to their policy of fiscal peace. The Bill violates the. policy, and, therefore, the proper thing for the Senate to do is to lay it aside until the electors have had an opportunity of saying whether or not they approve of this measure, and others of a similar character, or whether they wish that their mandate of three years ago shall still be adhered to; in other words, whether we, with the exception of remedying anomalies, are to maintain the present range of protectionist duties, or whether Parliament is to continue to raise them. My second objection to the immediate passage of this Bill is derived from a consideration of the notice-paper of each House. Honorable senators will recognise, if the Government have failed to do so, that by protracting the session, we are doing an injustice on the one hand to certain senators and the members of the other House, and to candidates, and on the other hand to the electors, if we deprive them of reasonable opportunities of listening to the views of candidates and so determining how they shall vote. The notice-paper of the Senate includes, in addition to this Bill, the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill, Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill, Bounties Bill, and Appropriation Bill.
– We ought to be on the Appropriation Bill now.
– It ought to have been submitted to the Senate some weeks ago. My object in referring to the notice paper is to show the deplorable position in which the Government, by their mismanagement of parliamentary affairs, are thrusting the States House. If the measures I have mentioned were introduced at any other period of the session, and not now when we are working under pressure in order to conclude our labours as speedily as possible, they would have provided sufficient material to engage our attention for four or five weeks. Take, for instance, the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill. Is it a light matter thata deliberative body should be asked to pass that measure, as Senator. Playford suggested yesterday, by merely voting on it?
– To affirm a great principle.
– According to the Minister of Defence the details are a mere nothing. A measure like that involves first of all a great underlying principle, secondly, a multiplicity of details, and, thirdly, some very obnoxious provisions. Surely we should be afforded a reasonable and fair opportunity for discussion? How can we do that if the Government will persist in adhering to all the measures on the notice-paper? They ought to select those measures which they regard as imperative from their point of view, and candidly state that the other measures will be held over. One Bill which, I submit, could reasonably be allowed to stand over is the Bill now before the Senate. If we are to do anything more than make a pretence of legislating there is enough business on the notice-paper to occupy the time of the Senate for four or five weeks.
– Does the honorable senator remember that when it was proposed to alter the days of meeting, and I suggested that the time allowed for private business should be given up, my suggestion was howled at. It is private senators’ time now that is occupied wastefully.
– Yes, I remember; and I sympathized with my honorable friend, because it was distinctly wrong for any one to howl in the Chamber, and, secondly, because his admirable suggestion was so suggestive of common sense that I think it ought to have been appreciated. F rom different Ministers, we have had assurance after assurance that ample opportunity would be afforded to the Senate to duly discuss the Estimates.
– Including the Minister of Defence.
– I believe that the Minister of Defence has given that assurance to the Senate on two or three occasions. What is the position? If any credence can be attached to newspaper reports of his utterances, I find that the Prime Minister, ‘always optimistic, was full of hope that the session would close at the end of this week.
– No ; at the end of last week. The 28th September was named.
– Well, I am speaking of a hope more recently uttered. I know that Mr. Deakin has many hopes; in fact, they change with each passing day. Suppose that he had any idea of realizing his most recent hope, what chance is to be given to the Senate to deal with the Appropriation Bill? But, suppose that it is anticipated that the session will close next week. I do not know whether the Minister of Defence ignores what is taking place here, but if he ventures to entertain that hope, will that afford full and ample opportunity to the Senate to consider the measures I have mentioned, and also the Estimates?
– Can we not finish what we have on the notice-paper?
– We could finish it all to-day, but does the honorable senator regard his duty to his constituents so lightly that he would ask the Senate to pass those important measures? If so, what becomes of his admission to us that three days is not too long a period of time to ask for the discussion of the Estimates ?
– I have never said a word about whether it is too long or too short.
– I ask the Minister now if he regards three days as too long a period in which this, the co-ordinate branch of the Legislature, shall have an opportunity to discuss the Estimates?
– Not if honorable senators want to speak.
– I venture to say that if the honorable senator were a trustee or a director of a large financial concern, and he deputed to the heads of the branches the consideration of the expenditure of such a large sum, with all the matters of policy involved, as is represented by the Estimates, he would consider it rather cavalier treatment if it were disposed of in a short space of time.
– The best thing is to introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution, and take away the co-equal power of the Senate in regard to money Bills.
– At the rate at which we are proceeding, it will not be necessary to appeal to the electors for such an amendment, because under the auspices of different Governments we are rapidly drifting into that position by the practice which is growing up. We are amending the Constitution in an unconstitutional way, that is without authority from the electors, by a shameful neglect of the obligations imposed upon us, not merely by our pledges to the electors, but by the Constitution itself. Whilst we are absolutely jammed for time, we still have the Government responsible for the fact that time is being given to private business. Of its importance, I say nothing. But seeing that there is no possible chance of a single Bill in the name of a private senator being passed, it becomes a wanton act on the part of the Government to sanction a continuance of its consideration when public business of great urgency and importance is waiting to be considered. The Bills I have mentioned do not exhaust by any means the demand which the Government propose to make upon the time of the Senate. There are still twelve measures on the notice-paper of the House of Representatives. Last night four additional measures were introduced. How the Government can assume for a moment that there is the slightest chance of carrying all those measures into law passes my comprehension ? I can only assume that they do not believe for a moment that they can be passed. The notice-paper of the other House includes the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Amendment Bill, the Pacific. Island Labourers Bill, the Post and Telegraph Bill, the Patents Bill, the Public Service Telegraph Messengers Bill, the Electoral Bill’, the Copyright Bill, the Life Assurance Bill, the Postal Rates Bill, and the Preferential Ballot Bill. Some of these measures, are of major importance, but it is quite evident that some of them are, comparatively speaking, insignificant. I submit to the Government that the correct and businesslike method would have been for them to jettison measures which were not of immediate urgency - and I include the measure we are now discussing amongst the number - and to proceed with those which by reason of their character or the circumstances surrounding them, it was imperative that Parliament should pass before the prorogation. But instead, the Government insists on carrying on with all this dead cargo on board. I can understand any Government having -some hesitancy about discarding its measures. But this Government has had no hesitancy about discarding the promises made in the Governor-General’s speech at the commencement of the session
– I do not think that the honorable senator should allude to promises which he says have not been fulfilled. They have nothing to do with, the present state of business
– I admit at once that it would open up an endless avenue of talk to consider the unfulfilled promisesof the present Government. I will allude to one matter which certainly ought to be dealt with before the session closes, but which it will be impossible to discus.s if the Government insists upon proceeding: with all the measures to which I have referred. 1 allude to the question of defence. I know of no more important subject, and’ none that is more urgent than the present condition of defence in Australia. Yet beyond a skeleton scheme which the PrimeMinister has outlined in another place we have no information before us,. One would have thought that the Minister of Defence would be the one member of the Cabinet who would insist that the Senate should have an opportunity to discuss that question, and, it- may be, to offer some suggestions that would perfect the yet unfolded scheme. I mention these matters as reasons which, to me, are strong and urgent why the Government ought immediately to accept the suggestion of my honorable friend, Senator Neild, and determine at once what measures it is necessary to deal with before the session closes. On the occasion of the last dissolution, the general1 elections were held in the middle of December. It was recognised then, at any rate in a State with the climatic conditions; of New South Wales, that the farming population was distinctly handicapped. - On the one hand, they were faced with material loss if they suspended harvesting operations, and, on the other hand, they had to sacrifice their votes. Not only was that a loss to themselves, but, if we believe in the principle, of the vote at all, it was a loss to the whole country, in being deprived of an expression of opinion from a class of people who, otherwise, would have had an opportunity to exercise the franchise. The Government has frequently promised that on the present occasion the elections would be held earlier. But, owing to the mismanagement in the conduct of public business, it is doubtful whether the elections can be held before the middle of December. Indeed, if the Government adheres to its present policy. I venture to say that they will not be held before Christmas. Is that desirable? Is it fair to members of the Senate, who are desirous of getting away, and have a right to be afforded a reasonable time in which 4o meet their constituents, to deprive them of that, opportunity ? I turn to the Bill itself in order to see whether it suggests any reasons for urgency. Is there anything in what the Minister has frequently referred to as the report of the Tariff Commission to suggest that the matter is one which must be dealt with immediately? I prefer to speak of the document simply as the report which, by reason of its length sind redundancy, occupies the greatest bulk.
– The honorable senator must understand that he must speak to the amendment. He has already spoken to the Bill.
– What I wish to do now is to ascertain from the report of the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission whether there is really any urgency about this matter. I have looked through it to see whether there is a line in it te* justify the contention that the Bill is one that ought to be dealt with before Parliament prorogues, but I have absolutelyfailed to find one. I venture to say that if the four protectionist members of the Commission had seen, any ground for urgency they would have set it forth. I ignore the report of the free-trade members for the purpose of this argument, and go to the source of what ought to be the Ministerial inspiration. I admit that the greatest claim for immediate treatment would arise if it were shown that the hands engaged in the industry were suffering, or were being diminished, that their livelihood was threatened, that the industry was being undermined, or was in any way in a worse position than at a previous period, which could be compared with the present. But the report suggests no such grounds for urgency. Turning to page 8, I find that the hands employed in the industry in the Commonwealth have increased from 1,580 in 1899 to 2,799 in I905; that is an increase of about 75 per cent, in seven years. That does not suggest anything in the conditions, which, from a labour point of view, appeals for immediate relief. If it were shown that the imports were rapidly increasing and threatening the industry, I should say the matter was urgent, and that we should, at whatever inconvenience to ourselves, proceed to give relief. But the figures disclose no danger which imposes upon us any obligation to pass legislation for the relief of a threatened industry. I find that the value of agricultural implements and machinery imported during the seven years increased from ,£280,000 to £329,000, excluding odd figures. I have not worked out the percentage, but it is a substantial increase ; and it is the more gratifying to note that in the two years, 1904-5, the imports decreased by no less than 57 per cent. I anticipate an objection that in the previous two or three years there was a substantial increase of imports. That, however, was due to the phenomenal harvest, and to the absolute inability of the local manufacturers to turn out machinery to the extent required ; and, when that rush, passed away, imports again declined. Is there, in the face of the figures, any reason why we should depart from the sound constitutional and parliamentary practice of appealing to the electors for a mandate on legislation of this kind? Do the facts disclose any crisis? Certainly not. I can quite understand that honorable senators, charged as they are ‘ more particularly with the protection of States interests, may regard this matter not entirely from a Commonwealth stand-point, but from the point of view of the respective States they represent. It may be interesting, therefore, to see whether there is anything in the conditions of this “industry in any individual State to make it imperative to immediately pass this Bill. I find that in Victoria the importations of agricultural implements and machinery increased in the seven years by 6 per cent. When we allow for the increased population, and also the large extension of farming operations, that appears to be no more than a normal rate; certainly there is nothing to occasion alarm. That there has been a big expansion of the demand for agricultural implements is obvious from the fact that, whilst the imports have increased by 6 per cent., the hands employed in the Victorian factories alone have increased from 1.100 to 1,600. or by 46 per cent. And there is the still more pleasing feature that the exports of this class of goods from Victoria have increased in the same period by 70 per cent. All these figures show that the industry is abundantly sound and profitable. In South Australia, while the figures may not be quite so reassuring, they still show nothing to create any uneasiness. The imports into that State increased in the period mentioned from £29,000 to £44,000, or by 50 per cent.
SenatorClemons. - I think there ought to be a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– While the imports increased in South Australia by 50 per cent., the number of hands employed in the industry increased by nearly 300 per cent. Under the circumstances, we may presume that the increased importation was owing to the fact that the local manufacturers were not able to meet the demand. Then I pointed out that in South Australia there was also an increase of exports from £38,000 to nearly £51,000, or by 30 per cent. It appears to me that no industry in Australia could show better results during the period under review. If I were asked to select a particular trade in which there is marked prosperity, I do not think I could point to one which exhibits such conclusive and satisfactory proof of soundness as that with which we are now dealing. New South Wales is popularly supposed to somewhat lag behind in the matter of manufactures, and, therefore, it might be supposed that her factories have not been quite so well-equipped or up-to-date as those which have been longer established in Victoria. For that reason we might expect the figures not to be quite so pleasing; but I find that the imports of agricultural implements and machinery into that State fell in the period under review from £102,000 to £86,000, equalling about 2 per cent. Along with this diminution in imports, the hands employed in the local industry increased by 100 per cent., while the exports of agricultural machinery multiplied ten times, or by 1,000 per cent. Can any one conclude from these figures that this industry requires immediate legislative relief? In Queensland the imports increased more rapidly and to a greater extent than in any other State. The increase was from £23,000 to £88,000, or by 60 per cent. while the exports increased by 37 per cent. I admit that the figures appear extraordinary ; but the explanation is that the totals are small, and that there is really no established industry in the sense as understood in Victoria. Under the circumstances, I think we may safely dismiss Queensland, and, for the same reasons, Tasmania, from our consideration. I should like to say however, that the value of agricultural implements imported into Tasmania fell from £9,277 to £4,726, or by 50 per cent. All these figures deal with imports oversea, and exclude goods transferred from one State to another. “ We can only conclude that Tasmania has been purchasing from Victoria and other mainland States goods previously obtained from foreign countries. I challenge any one to show in all the figures I have quoted any urgency or danger to justify the devotion to this Bill of time which is imperatively needed in order to deal with other matters on the business-paper. I take great exception to some of the statements made by the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission. It is stated by them that the claim that imports have increased is “ too well founded.” There is absolutely no justification for that statement. Not only has there been no increase in the imports, but, as the figures I have quoted show, an absolute diminution. The total imports in 1903 were valued at £280,195.Inthatyearno harvesters were imported, and that figure consequently represents the total value of the imports of agricultural implements and machinery exclusive of harvesters. In 1905 the total value of imports of agricultural machinery including harvesters was £329,000. If we deduct the value of the harvesters imported, the value of agricultural machinery other than harvesters imported in that year was £244,000, showing that in three years the value of the imports ‘ of agricultural implements other than harvesters was reduced by£35,000, or a reduction of 13 per cent. In view of that, I venture to say that the statement in the report of the Commission is absolutely misleading. I am content to assume that it is due to a mere oversight. It is difficult to assume that, but one must do so, or accept a very uncomplimentary alternative. I would ask the Minister of Defence to say whether there is anything connected with this industry which makes it important that this measure should be proceeded with at once. I admit that such a measure might be important, but we must consider its relative importance as compared with the other matters to which I have referred. If the Minister declares that he intends - if he can, of course - to keep Parliament together until the whole of the business is dealt with, I shall have nothing more to say. The honorable senator is too old a parliamentarian to make a statement of that kind. The alternative is that the Government must discard, postpone, or throw overboard, if honorable senators please, certain of these proposals, and I say that it is bes.t, in the interests of the Senate and. of the Government themselves, that they should do that at once, rather than wait until a greater number of senators have found it necessary to travel to their electorates, -and the Senate, by reason of diminished numbers, is less qualified to perform its legislative work. It is better that the Minister should make his selection to-day than next week. I believe that this Bill is not here with the sanction of the electors, but that it is here in violation of Ministerial election pledges, and presumably on the strength of a report signed by the protectionist members of the Tariff Commission, which offers no suggestion of urgency in the matter, but which, on the contrary, shows that its consideration might be postponed until after the next elections without detriment to the industry or to the country at large. When these considerations are viewed with a knowledge of the other business on the pa]:>er, it becomes evident that it is a wanton act for the Government to press forward these measures which are not urgent, whilst we have business yet to deal with, which is vastly more important to the country, and which, so far as the finances are concerned, is more important to the proper status of the Senate.
– I am very glad to take the opportunity afforded to me in common with every other member of the Senate who spoke before the amendment was moved, to point out, so far as I can, the position in which the Senate is placed at the present time. Before I deal with the state of business in the Senate, I have a few observations to make in respect of the urgency involved in connexion with this Bill. It was read a first time in the Senate on the 24th September. I invite attention to that date, because we know that the Prime Minister made one of his usual firm, declarations some time ago to the effect that Parliament would be prorogued on the 28th September. If the honorable and learned gentleman intended to adhere to what he said he certainly took a view of the Senate which we ought to resent. If he intended that Parliament should be prorogued on the 28th September, he offered a gratuitous insult to the Senate when he sent tip not only this, but, perhaps, half-a-dozen other Bills on or about the 24th September. Because hon orable members in another place spent a long, and I venture to say, an unprofitable time, in discussing these measures, the assumption! was that the whole difficulty would easily be solved by asking the Senate to deal with them in a few hours. Every member of the Senate should join with me in expressing his strong objection to such treatment of the Senate by Ministers here or in another place. I do not wish to say unkind things about Senator Playford, who, I feel, is in a difficult position, but I think I am justified in offering this criticism : I do not know how firm the honorable senator has been, but if he had been firmer, he might have convinced his colleagues in the Government that, to say the least, it was unwise to treat the Senate in this manner. The Bill may be urgent for Mr. McKay, and’ other Victorian manufacturers, but I venture to say that nj one will contend that so far as the farmers who use these machines are concerned, there is any urgency whatever about the matter. The Bill provides that it is not to come into operation so far as they are concerned - and they are intimately concerned in the matter of the reduction of price - until the 1st February, 1907. Those of us who know anything about farming operations, will recognise that it is more or less a gratuitous act of deception for Ministers .to suggest that the Bill should come into operation on the 1 st February, 1907. So far as the farmers are concerned, it would have been more honest and frank to have provided that it should come into operation on the 1st October, 1907. No farmer is going to buy a stripper-harvester at the close of the harvesting season.
– He will’ not buy one at £81 to lay it up all the winter.
– He is not going to buy a harvester on the 1st February in order to store it where it may rust and get into disrepair, when he knows that he will not need to use it until November. We have corroborative proof on the question of urgency in the figures relating to importation. A return submitted to Parliament this year is very instructive on this point. It is a return of the number of stripper-harvesters imported from’ Canada and elsewhere. 1 find from it. that for 1904 no particulars were available. In 1905 the number imported from Canada was 1,000, and from elsewhere 730. In 1906, no imports whatever had been received up to the 31st May.
– Because they will not be wanted until later in the year.
– -That is my whole contention on the question of urgency. The matter is urgent only to Mr. McKay and those who wish to see higher duties imposed. It is obviously not urgent so far as the farmers are concerned-, nor has it any urgency from the point of view of protectionists, who wish to check importations at once. We can predict what will happen next year from what happened this year, and assume that no importations of harvesters will take place during any one of the first five months of the year. It is fair to assume that Parliament will meet within the first five months of next year, and if so, the question can then be dealt with. No importation will have taken place in the meantime, and it is therefore a matter of no moment whether the Tariff remains as it is or the duties are lowered or raised. The amendment proposes that the Bill shall be read a second time this day six months, and I venture to assure Senator Playford that it is better that the Bill should be read a second time then than that the Government should compel the Senate to sit here in the hope that it will be passed in six weeks, for that is about the prospect which confronts the Ministry. Ever since we have been a Senate we have been fighting, and failing in our efforts to establish a position for the Senate which will bring into clear recognition the powers conferred upon us by the Constitution. We know that the Senate differs entirely from any Upper House known to British civilization. We have certain definite and valuable powers with regard to money Bills, and we know how we can use our powers in connexion with Appropriation Bills. We. know also the duty of. very member of either House in respect of the most important measure which is annually submitted to Parliament, and which involves the expenditure’ of many millions of money. If the Government persist in their determination to go on with these unimportant Bills, the alternative is clear. Either they will ask us to dismiss the Appropriation Bill in an hour or two, or they will compel the session to be protracted to very much longer than the end of next week. I should like to know from Senator Play ford which of these alternatives he prefers. He must recognise that every member of the Senate feels himself compelled to carefully consider the Appropriation Bill. The Minister has listened to reiterated demands that an opportunity should be given to the Senate to properly consider that measure, and he must recognise that the request this year represents an accumulation of such demands.
– We have had it before the other House. Honorable senators have had copies of it and reports, and they have had every opportunity to study them.
– The Minister says, “ We have had it before the other House,” and there again he has openly admitted his want of recognition of the position of the Senate.
– We could not introduce the Bill here first, and after it was introduced in another place honorable senators had an opportunity to see it and study it.
– And we can now pass it in silence.
– No, but honorable senators should now be prepared to discuss it intelligently.
– The Minister should remember that in every session during the last five years honorable senators have demanded that the Senate should be allowed a longer time to discuss the Appropriation Bill.
– We want to give Senator Playford an opportunity to hear the result of the work which we have bestowed upon the Estimates outside the Chamber.
– The longest time which the honorable senator has ever suggested has been three days.
– When I made the suggestion, I fixed that limit out of all friendliness to the Minister, because I was afraid that he could not afford to give more time. But my. suggestion was received with a perfect chorus from his own supporters that three days would not be enough. On the last Appropriation Bill, I have a clear recollection of bringing up the question of defence policy. Every, one will remember that at or about that time Senator Playford told the Senate that he intended to make a determined effort to bring before the Senate next session his defence policy.
– Before the Parliament, not necessarily before the Senate.
-Senator Playford is not entitled to enter the other House of his own sweet will, and give its members the benefit of the knowledge which he ought to possess. His obvious duty is to enunciate his defence policy in the Chamber to which he belongs. I am sorry that he should think that he is in charge of a Department which is of no great importance. But I venture to say that the electors do not, regard the question of defence in that light.
– I do not regard it as of no importance. The Prime Minister has announced our defence policy.
– The PrimeMinister cannot enter the Senate and announce the defence policy of the Government.
– It means that the Senate is to be ignored.
– Either the Senate is to be ignored, or Senator Playford does not recognise the position which it is entitled to occupy under the Constitution, and which, I am sorry to say, it has not defended more firmly. When Senator Playford moves the second reading of the Bill we should hear from him in his capacity as Minister of Defence the result of all his deliberations. He must have taken an active part in framing a defence policy, and, therefore, we have a right to expect that on that occasion he will deal at greater length with that subject than with any other subject. That he tacitly admits is a fair assumption for me to make. It was in my mind four or five weeks ago, when I asked him when we were likely to get the Bill.Sooner or later this session he will have to move its second reading, to enlarge upon the subject of defence, and to outline a policy which I hope–
– To submit to the country. We cannot deal with it.
– Surely the Minister would wish honorable senators to consider it. in the usual parliamentary way, and not to insult him by dismissing it with a few casual remarks ! Does he suppose that we are. ever going to do justice to our position as senators, or to his position as Minister, if we slur over the question of defence, and put the Appropriation Bill through in an hour? Undoubtedly, we should be’ disregarding our duty if we did. I desire to have ample time in which to thoroughly discuss the defence policy, and other questions, and so do others. Many members of the Labour Party take a very keen interest in several questions which are covered by the Bill, not merely on personal grounds, but because their constituents are also keenly interested. If they were free to express what they really think on the subject–
– They are as free as the honorable senator is.
– No. If they were as free as I am they would say with one accord that they want at least three clear days in which to deal with the Appropriation Bill.
– The honorable senator will make it impossible for them to get three days if he goes on talking.
– When Senator Millen was speaking just now he ventured to say that it was much more important that the Senate should hear his speech than that it should have the Appropriation Bill. Unlike Senator Millen, I hold that my speechis of very minor importance compared with that Bill.
– I rise to a point of order, and, so as to be strictly regular, I address myself to the Clerk. I desire to submit to the Senate that it is illegally constituted, because it is not proceeding as required by standing order 30, which says -
Should both the President and the Chairman of Committees be unavoidably absent, the senators present, if a quorum, may at once proceed to elect one of their number to act as President for that day only the question being put to the Senate by the clerk.
In order to comply with the standing order, Mr. Blackmore, I propose–
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Dobson). - I rule the honorable senator out of order.
– The honorable senator cannot rule me outof order, because he is illegally in the Chair. At any rate, the point is settled by the return of the President.
– The Minister of Defence has admitted that we should have as much time as the subject deserves for considering the defence policy of the Commonwealth. If he will only tell me that the debate on the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill will be adjourned at once, and the second reading of the Appropriation Bill moved, I shall be willing to cease speaking to the amendment. Is there any chance of that being done?
– Not on this Bill.
– Will not the Minister drop the Bill ?
– No, we cannot drop it.
– To all intents and purposes the other House has completed its work, and so long as a quorum is maintained its members are at liberty to go home. Because of their mismanagement, they have imposed upon the Senate the responsibility of either prolonging the session or passing legislation in a slipshod way. That is a grievance which any honorable senator is justified in ventilating. If Senator Playford considers that he should pay some regard to the convenience of honorable senators, he ought to study the convenience of those who, in order to instruct the electors, conceive it their duty to traverse their States. In Queensland and Western Australia honorable senators, who cannot possibly get through their work properly in a less period than three months, are forced to accept from the” Ministry a limited period of two months, while a large number of the members of the other House, whose electorates are limited in area, and who therefore want far less time, have been practically told that they are free to go away now and address their constituents. Every one of us knows that it is doubtful whether half the members of another place are at present in Melbourne. They have escaped, and we in the Senate are paying the penalty. Every senator is compelled to remain here - those supporting the Government to make a House, and those in opposition - because measures of vital importance to the country have been crowded into the last few days of the session. We shall, be kept here indefinitely unless one of two things happens - that is, until either the senators who are supporting the Government and who are keeping them in office for a few days prior to cutting their political throats at the elections, decide that they have adequately discharged their obligation ; or until the members of the Opposition leave the Senate as a. protest against the way business is being conducted. I cannot help referring to another matter. The Federal Parliament has been sitting in Melbourne ever since Federation was commenced, and I am forced to recognise that the convenience of the representatives of other States is being entirely subordinated by the present Government to the interest of Victoria. There is scarcely an order of the day upon the notice-paper that has not especial reference to this State. If there is urgency with regard to the Bill now under discussion, it cannot be said that it relates to any other State than Victoria. The harvester question is a Victorian question pine and simple. The Excise Tariff Bill is cognate, and refers to the same people and the same State. The Spirits Bill, which will shortly be before us again, also by universal consent represents nothing but the urgent and imperative demand of Victorian manufacturers to be protected, not against importations from other countries, bm against the activity and energy of other States. But while the representatives of Victoria are able nearly every day in some part of the State to address meetings of their constituents, the representatives, of other parts of Australia! are being kept away from their electorates. I .cannot wonder that senators resent this treatment, and regard it as proof of the direct object of the present Ministry to improve its position in Victoria, to play up to the present position of affairs in this State, and to give a protectionist emphasis to every question that arises, because that is the issue in Victoria, though not in any other State in the Commonwealth. I cannot wonder that if other honorable senators were free, as I am, to express their opinion of the Government, they would say that they resent being kept here in order to allow the Ministry to play up to the propensities of the electors of one State only. Let me revert to the remark . of Senator Playford that we can deal with the Appropriation Bill in a short time. In the House of Commons an approximate average time for the discussion of the Estimates would be 60 days per session. You, sir, have always been extremely jealous of the rights, of the Senate in regard to money Bills, and ever since you have been President have been a strong advocate of the exercise of our powers in the adequate discussion of the Appropriation Bill. Three days is the least time we should have for that purpose. But Senator Playford wishes the measure to be dealt with in a few hours. Is that a fair way to treat the Senate? Senator Neild’s amendment is based upon the contention that it is not urgent to proceed with the Bill.
– It is, I submit, urgent that we should have a quorum present.[Quorum formed.]
– The question of urgency is, after all, one of comparison. It may be argued by Senator Playford that this Bill is comparatively urgent. But there is another question on the paper of which he says nothing. That is the question of preferential trade. Three years ago, when the general election was about to be held, the Prime Minister entered on a strenuous effort to make the sound of preferential trade echo and re-echo throughout the Commonwealth. His election cry was “fiscal peace and preferential trade.” I should like Senator Playford to give some indication whether he intends to ask us this session to deal with the question of preferential trade?
– Oh, yes ; I think so.
– Then I am extremely sorry that the Ministry should regard it as inferior from the point of view of urgency to the present Bill. If the proposal of the Government regarding preferential trade is a great, important, and statesmanlike effort of the Prime Minister to cement the bonds between Australia and the old country, surely it deserves a better place than a Bill to enable Mr. McKay to increase his profits from harvesters. Is the question of preferential trade of the importance which the Prime Minister once assumed ? Personally, I should be delighted to hear Senator Playford cordially and heartily indorse the preferential trade measure in this Chamber. Is a Bill which purports to Bring about preferential trade within the Empire not more urgent than the Bill before us? We have heard that the Minister does not see his way to give three days to the discussion of the Appropriation Bill.
– I never said anything of the sort. I hope to be ableto give three days to the discussion of that Bill, but I do not do more than express the hope.
– I suppose there are many honorable senators in the same position as myself, and I may say that, practically. I have been booking and unhookingmy passage to Tasmania for the last fortnight, and now I have more than booked my passage for next Monday, because I have made all sorts of business arrangements in the hone of being in Laun- ceston on the Tuesday. But if there are to be three days devoted to the Appropriation Bill, and an adequate time allotted for the discussion of preferential trade, it means that we shall be sitting here next week.
– We are bound to sit next week under any circumstances.
– I do not think that is at all certain. I . hope we may come to some arrangement whereby we shall be happily dismissed on Friday of this week.
– Where are the three days for the Appropriation Bill ?
– They do not exist, but if Senator Playford will take a sensible view of the situation, and have regard to not only the convenience of honorable senators, “but the dignity of the Senate, he will introduce his Appropriation Bill to-night at a quarter to eight o’clock.
– And jettison all the other Bills ?
– Why not? I assure Senator Playford that, even from the protectionist point of view, the case for the Bill before us will not be injuredinany way by a postponement until next session.
– If we had gone on with our work in the usual manner, we could have passed all these measures, and then proceeded with the Appropriation Bill.
– One predominant cause of the present position is that for weeks and weeks during the present session the Senate had nothing to do.
– We adjourned for three weeks.
– That was a. long time ago.
– But it was this session. That adjournment was, I think, nearly two months after the Tariff Commission had sent in a report, and therefore we might have been discussing the present Bill three months ago. Is it not a satire on our public business - a satire of which Ministers and senators alike may be ashamed - that when we are dealing with a congested business-paper we should be confronted by the fact that private business will be taken from 2.30 to 6.30 p.m. tomorrow ?
– That is clue to an inadvertence.
– It is an inadvertence for which the whole Senate isbeing punished every day. When the whole of Australia is waiting for the Senate to finish its business, we shall be occupied to-morrow afternoon with a purely theoretical discussion, or, at any rate, with private business which cannot bear fruit this session.
– There are only five Bills on the notice-paper.
– But I understand that three or four new Bills were introduced in another place yesterday.
– Is thequestion of South African preference to be brought before the Senate?
– I do notknow that that will come up here.
– Are the Government going to enter into an agreement without submitting it to the Senate?
– I do not know whether the Bill has been passed in another place.
– It is evident that the Minister should move the adjournment of the House in order to make himself familiar with the public business elsewhere.
– I can quite understand that the Minister does not know the state of public business elsewhere, because he does not know what Bills are to come before the Senate; and it is hardly his fault. When Senator Symon suggested with a view to expedite business that some provision should be struck out of the Bill, Senator . Playford, with that frankness which characterizes him, admitted that the did not know the clause was there, or that he certainly did not know why it was there.
– I said that I did not know the reason, though there might be one.
– Has this anything to do with the Bill ?
– Has the whole stateof the notice-paper anything to do with urgency ? Whv does Senator Neild want to shelve the Bill?
– Because he is a free-trader.
– Because of the state of business.
– The Government are making a desperate effort to push through not only this, but every other Bill by sheer weight of numbers.
– The weight of numbers always does prevail. I suppose the honorable senator wishes to keep on speaking till half-past six.
– If I could I would speak until half-past six this day month rather than see the Senatetreated in this contemptible and unjustifiable way. The Appropriation ‘Bill is the only measure on the business-paper at present with which the Senate should deal this session, and its consideration should be commenced after the dinner adjournment to-day. It is important to honorable senators of every party in the Federal Parliament, and to none more than to members of the Labour Party, that they should be able to return to their States as quickly as possible to prepare for the elections. The proposal which Senator Playford makes is practically that these measures should be allowed to go through without debate.
– I have never said anything of the sort.
– I admit that there has been fair debate on thesecond reading of this Bill, but it has yet to be considered in Committee.
– That will not give much trouble.
– Is not the Minister aware that the amendment has been moved with the express purpose of preventing the Bill going into Committee. If it does get into Committee I ask Senator Playford, as a practical man, who knows the way in which parliamentary proceed ings are conducted, to say what he thinks the result will be? I direct his attention to the volume of evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission on the matters dealt within this Bill, and remind him that every word in that volume might be read without any departure from matter which will be relevant to the issues before the Committee. In the circumstances. I ask the honorable senator what, as a reasonable man, he can expect ?
– That is very much like a threat.
– In so far as it is a threat, I unreservedly withdraw it. My desire is to answer Senator Playford’s interjection that the Bill will notgive very much trouble in Committee. No Bill is deserving of more careful consideration than is a Tariff Bill and I think no Tariff Bill could be introduced on which more diverse opinions might be properly held than are held in connexion with the measure now before the Senate. Surely Sena- tor Playford must recognise that if he wishes to get on with public business he had better withdraw this Bill. If he will not do so, I suppose it is his intention to ask honorable senators to sit up all night.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7-45 f-tn.
– Owing to the present unparalleled state of things, it is my bounden duty to endeavour to impress upon the Minister of Defence the necessity of intimating as early as possible to-night, his intentions in regard to the conduct of business. I wish it were possible for you, Mr. President, to express your views on the position with which the Senate is confronted owing to the determined attitude of the Government to force this Bill through. I hope that if the opportunity should arise in Committee you will point cut that it is inadvisable for the Government to attempt to pass, not merely this Bil!, but other measures on the noticepaper. During the adjournment^ for dinner, I have learned that in the other House a Bill is to be introduced relative to preferential trade with South Africa. In these circumstances, surely any one would be quite justified in supporting the amendment ‘to read the present ‘ Bill a second time this day six months. It must have become obvious that unless we can obtain fair consideration from the Government, it will be our bounden duty to submit a similar amendment in respect of other Bills. If the amendment were accepted by the Government, the Bill could be introduced next session, and dealt with under more agreeable circumstances. In that case, it would be taken up in a new Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator anticipate being absent then?
– The more I consider the position of the Senate the more do I contemplate the possibility of not being here in the next Parliament. Just such a situation as we are confronted with brings home to every honorable senator the fact that the Senate is not by any means the desirable place which he anticipated. During the last hour or two, if not before, T. have wondered whether there is much to be gained for my State bv mv continued representation of it ; in fact, whether the Senate any longer is adequately discharging, or is likely to adequately discharge, the important duties assigned to it in the Constitution.
– Any honorable senator can resign !
– Is it a pleasant thing that the conduct of business here during a period of five years should force an honorable senator who may be anxious to do his little share of duty to his State to consider whether it is worth his while any longer to wish to come to it? Surely thu Senate ought to be a place in which, irrespective of party, we could all take some pride ! Does Senator McGregor think that the methods of the Government in trying to force their measures through is conducive to that sort of feeling.
– Let us deal with this Bill to-night, and get on to other business.
– Throw it out.
– I do not see anyreason why it should be thrown out without fair debate any more than I see any reason why it should be accepted without proper consideration. I would point out to Senator Playford that the Bill would not be imperilled by a postponement. No one’ nas yet said that it is imperative that it should be passed this session. If there is one measure which, because of all its surroundings, is not urgent, it is this Bill. I recognise with great regret that, in spite of my protest, the Minister of Defence has not yet given an indication of a desire to help the Senate out of its present difficulty. The question is whether we shall agree to the amendment in regard to this Bill or in regard to another Bill. I believe, sir, that if you were free to express your opinions you would say that the Senate will have to consider the question of urgency, because it cannot possibly pass, if tie ordinary procedure is observed, all the measures which have been mentioned. We are compelled to speak to the amendment because, so far, we have elicited no indication from Senator Playford that if it be disposed of a similar amendment will be accepted in relation to another Bill, or that he will take a smoother and easier way of getting through with the work. I fear that if i were to allow the present Bill to pass I, with others, would be expected to accord similar treatment to every other Bill. I can only assume that Senator Playford intends to treat every order of the day in the same way as he is treating this one. In spite of mv repeated appeals for an indication of his intention, he has remained dumb. We are confronted with, as it were, a wall of passive resistance. Practically, we are told that, willing or unwilling, we must pass the Bill.
– Either pass it or throw it out.
– Is that a fair answer? Really, there is not proper time in which to throw them out, let alone to pass them. I am prepared at once to take into serious consideration, with Senator Playford, the possibility, and, if he likes, the necessity, of passing some of the Bills. I suppose that I shall have to object to the passage of certain Bills, when, perhaps, there might be some ground of urgency, simply because so much time has been spent upon the consideration of this Bill. I seem to fail to impress upon Senator Playford that sense of proportion which I think he ought to recognise. There surely must be some order of preference in reference to these Bills. I recognise that as parties are constituted it is impossible to take the business out of the hands of the representatives of the Government, even if it were desirable to do so. But a minority, however small, is justified in taking steps to secure consideration for its views. It is not unfair for a minority to say that it objects to such a Bill as this being thrust through the Senate in indecent haste, and at an indecent time. That is what is now happening. But in spite of these remarks Senator Playford remains absolutely silent.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is repeating many of his arguments,.
– I am sorry to acknowledge that I am, but I repeat them in order to give emphasis to them. I have considered the means I am now adopting, and I say with a full recognition of the meaning of my language, that every member of the Opposition is justified in offering legitimate hindrance to the Government going on with business. When I say that I mean it to have the fullest significance it can have under our Standing Orders. I do not believe that I have ever before in the Senate stated that I considered it to be my duty to interpose obstacles of time against the proposals of the Government. But I say so now, because I do not believe that the present state of things has ever been paralleled in any Legislative Assembly in the world. In the whole history of State legislation Senator
Playford cannot instance a single case in which it was proposed to give a deliberative assembly practically no opportunity of dealing with an Appropriation Bill.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is again repeating arguments.
– We have carried Bills with the closure in the Parliament of my State.
– Let the Government carry this, with the closure.
– We do not want to.
– We have Standing Orders, and Ministers are afraid to use them. I have no hesitation in inviting the Government to apply the closure. To do so would be on a par with their general treatment of the Senate.
– The honorable senator asked me a question,and when I give him an answer he treats it as a threat.
– Some one else has threatened us.
– I never voted for the closure in my life.
– The Minister has just a lingering sense of shame which some of the supporters of the Government lack. I do not believe that Senator Playford is bold enough to impose the closure. I should welcome it.
– The honorable senator should not say that. It is not fair.
– Why is it not fair? I no longer agree to accept Senator Playford as an authority on fairness in parliamentary procedure.
– I am sorry for it.
– I wish the honorable senator would express his sorrow in. a more practical way.
- Senator Playford only lengthens remarks which have already been prolonged, by making interjections. If he would not interrupt it would be far better.
– It would be far better if Senator Playford, instead of talking about moving the closure, would do it. Why does he not ? He is not troubled with any sense of fairness,. What sort of fairness has he shown during the last few weeks of this session? Is fairness to be the obstacle which he cannot get over? Fairness is not going to stop him from using the closure ; cowardice may !
– I do not think the honorable senator has a right to attribute cowardice to me. If he said it outside he might form a different opinion.
– I call Senator Clemons’ attention to standing order 407 -
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct such senator to discontinue his speech.
I have already intimated that I think that Senator Clemons has been guilty of tedious repetition on a great many points. I am not going to order him to take his seat at present, but I shall have to do so if he continues to repeat his arguments.
– I think he ought to withdraw the word “ cowardice. 1 ‘
– I think the honorable senator ought to withdraw that word.
– Of course, if the Minister thought for a moment that I attributed cowardice to Wm in the sense in which he is applying it I at once withdraw it; because it would be ridiculous.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the remark.
– I ‘ withdraw it without the slightest reservation. When I used the word “cowardice” Senator Playford ought not to have misunderstood me. I merely referred to his attitude relating to our Standing Orders. Instead of my being asked to withdraw, it should be the Other way. He has practically accused me of calling him a coward. I never did anything of the sort. I merely referred to the Standing Orders, and he knows it. I might as well be accused of cowardice in being afraid to debate this question or being ruled out of order for tedious repetition.
– Is the honorable senator afraid to go outside with the Minister ?
– I object to anything of that sort being said. I shall be no party to that sort of thing.
– We had an exhibition of the kind on a former occasion.
– Well, there will not be an exhibition from me. I am going to stop now, not because I am afraid that I shall repeat myself again, but because I shall have ample opportunity later on to discuss the question without the slightest fear of being challenged by any one for speaking irrelevantly. I fear that I have repeated myself, but simply and solely because I wish to urge the Government to give the Senate an opportunity of getting through the business.
– 1 rise now, sir, to submit to you that neither the motion nor the amendment upon it can be put to the Senate, and to submit the point which I took the liberty of indicating in the remarks which I made earlier in the afternoon. I should like to say, in the first place, that this is a matter of vital concern to the Senate. It is not an ordinary point of order. I am afraid that points of order sometimes give rise to irritation, and occupy considerable time. Although in many cases they are of the greatest importance - because there is nothing more desirable than regularity of procedure - still I am free to admit that there are points of order and’ points of order. This is not a point of order in the sense that we are ordinarily accustomed to deal with. It is a question that concerns the safeguards which the Constitution has thrown around the Senate, and the provisions which have been introduced in connexion with the procedure of the Senate, to enable this great States House adequately to exercise its highest functions for the protection of States interests. I do not think it necessary - in fact, I shall not presume - to appeal to you on any grounds respecting the status, powers, and privileges of the Seriate, because ever since you have occupied the chair - for a period of nearly sixyears - we have all observed the constant efforts which you have made to maintain those powers and to see that they are not infringed in any way, as well as to secure that our functions for the protection of States rights should be exercised as fully and freely as the provisions of the Constitution require. But I do appeal to honorable senators on both sides to look at the question, which I am going to submit very briefly, from an absolutely unbiased point of view. I am not submitting it with the intention of throwing obstacles in the way of the consideration of the Bill in Committee. I am not submitting it because it is a question which may occupy’ some time. I am submitting it because, if the point is well founded, as I venture with great confidence to say that it is, it concerns the rights and privileges of the Senate and the interests of the States. I have made these preliminary remarks because none of us can fail to be influenced sometimes by our prejudices in considering points of order of the ordinary kind. I think I may say that without any disrespect to any one. We are all liable to be subject to influences of that character. I make these preliminary remarks, therefore, in the hope that honorable senators will listen to what I desire to say, and view the conclusion which I shall submit for your consideration from the point of view of what our rights and privileges are in relation to taxation Bills. I cannot just at present lay my finger on the reference, but I remember that in 1 901-2 there were several important discussions in connexion with the application to the business of the Senate of the financial provisions of the Constitution. I remember one particular occasion in which the discussion was so important, and was regarded as so vital, that it occupied the greater part of two days. On the first occasion the matter was debated, you, sir, made a valuable contribution to the discussion, not by way of a ruling, but by way of a paper which was laid before the Committee. That paper was afterwards printed, and it was spoken of by Senator Pearce in high terms, to which we all assented. The consequences of that were so far-reaching that Senator, now Justice, O’Connor, who was then leader of the Senate, took the responsibility of having the matter set down to be re- debated on a subsequent day ; but whether that was the followingday or not I do not know. I may have been right or wrong - that is not the question now - but I took the same view as Senator O’Connor, and that view was adopted, contrary to the opinion that you, sir, had expressed in the paper to which I have referred.
– The Senate first of all agreed with my view, but subsequently reversed their decision.
– I am glad that my recollection is so far accurate.
– On what Bill was that?
– On a Bill to give a bounty on sugar grown in Queensland by white labour.
– Of course I could multiply instances of rulings of yours, sir, upheld by the Senate - rulings which were repeatedly given, particularly in connexion with the progress of the Tariff through this Chamber, and with messages and requests passing between the two Houses. I merely mention the matter in order to emphasize the naturally high importance that you, sir, the Senate, and all of us must attach to a rigid adherence to the provisions of the Constitution, which give effect to the privileges of the Senate in relation to these particular matters. I hope that if my views are not assented to, you will at any rate be assisted by the debate which will follow. First, I want to say that I shall not ask you to interpret or construe the Constitution. What I shall ask you to do is to apply the Constitution to the business of the Senate. We all recognise that it is not the business of the President to express an opinion as to whether a particular clause or enactment transgresses the Constitution in the sense which necessitates its submission to the High Court for settlement; it is not the function of the President, or of this Chamber, to usurp the powers of the High Court. That neither I nor any other honorable senator would ask. The first ruling to which I refer may be found on page 9 of the volume containing your decisions during the session of 1903-4; and it shows the distinction with very great clearness. On the 1st August, 1901, you said -
It is my duty to interpret and determine the Standing Orders, and to regulate the procedure of the Senate ; and, perhaps, to interpret the Constitution so far as the conduct of the business of the Senate is concerned. But the difference is great between the two cases. The Senate is the final and sole judge of the meaning of its own Standing Orders, whilst a law made in derogation of the provisions of the Constitution may in some cases be declared . invalid at the instance of any citizen.
A matter of the interpretation of the Constitution - of the validity or invalidity of a particular measure, as, for example, the provisions sought to be declared unconstitutional by the ruling in regard to the union label in the case of the Trade Marks Bill - is a matter to be dealt with by the High Court. But if it is necessary to interpret the Constitution so far as regards the procedure of the Senate, that must be done. Neither ofthese points, however, apply to the position where it is simply sought to apply the provisions of the Constitution to the business immediately before the Senate. The distinction is shown at the foot of the same page in two cases which I shall mention -
As a general rule, it is not proper for the President or the Chairman of Committees to give a ruling on the interpretation of the Constitution, but where a ruling is absolutely neces- sary in order to carry on the business, it ought to be given (#., pp. 4563 of 1903; 4127, 8571, of 1901). Such a case arose in the matter of Senator Saunders. His right to vote was challenged, and the business of the Senate could not proceed until the question was settled.
The ruling which you gave in the case of Senator Saunders may be found on page 4563 of Hansard for 1903. The Chairman of Committees, who was Senator Best, gave a ruling which was objected to by Senator Higgs. The then Chairman took, if he will allow me to say so, what seemed to many of us the very narrow view that to decide the question in reference to Senator Saunders involved the interpretation of the Constitution or of a Statute, and he therefore declined to give a ruling. That raised the very distinction which you, Mr. President, have since systematically drawn between a question involving the interpretation of the Constitution, and one which is absolutely and immediately relevant to the business before the Senate. Senator Higgs objected to Senator Best’s decision, and the question accordingly came before you. The report in Hansard is as follows : -
– The contention of Senator Higgs, sir, is that the Chairman ought to have given a ruling, and the point is, do you think so, too?
– I think that if the vote of an honorable senator is challenged it is absolutely necessary, in order to carry on the business, that a ruling should be given on the question, whether it involves the interpretation of the Constitution or not. -As a general rule, it is not proper for either the Chairman of ‘Committees or the President to give a ruling on the interpretation of a Statute, but where a ruling ‘is absolutely necessary, in order to carry on the business, it ought to be given.
That is to say, even if it involves the question of the interpretation of the Constitution. The point which I am’ about to submit does not involve any question of the interpretation of the Constitution, but merely invites you to apply the .plain terms of the Constitution to the business before the Senate. The second illustration, which may assist the consideration of this matter, is one quite of an opposite kind - that kind of interpretation which is confided under the Constitution to the High Court. This arose during the discussion of the Trade Marks Bill, when the point was raised whether the introduction of the original provisions moved by Senator Pearce for the application of a union label were constitutionally included in the Bill - that is to say, whether they were trade marks within the meaning of the Constitution. The Chairman, in the first place, was asked to rule what was meant by the sub-section of section 51 of the Constitution, which empowers the Com monwealth Parliament to legislate in”” reference to trade marks. In effect, you were asked to rule as you might have ruled, sitting as Chief Justice of the High Court, namely, what was the interpretation to be placed on those words in the Constitution, and whether the provisions sought to be introduced in reference to the trade union label came within the interpretation. That exactly illustrates what you have always declined to do, namely, to interpret the Constitution in the sense in which the interpretation is a function properly appertaining to the High Court. As reported on page 4127 of Hansard for 1904, you said -
It appears to me that the two objections takento the ruling of the Chairman, or the two socalled points of order which have been raised, on investigation, resolve themselves into one, and it is not a point of order at all. It is a point of constitutional law. As I have formerly stated, and as has ‘been the practice of the Senate ever since it has been in existence, the President is not called upon to interpret the Constitution. In the Constitution itself there is provided a tribunal for its interpretation, and that is the High Court. It would be altogether beyond the scope of my powers if I were to assume to laydown the law as to what the Constitution means’. The first point taken is that these suggestedamendments are not within the powers of theCommonwealth Parliament, and that they are not covered by the sub-section of section *51 of the Constitution, which gives the Commonwealth power to legislate concerning “copyrights, patents, of inventions and designs, “and trade marks.”
This question really resolves into this : What does that sub-section mean, and what is meant by “trade marks” in that sub-section?
It could not possibly have been more plainly expressed. The Senate to decide that question was asking that you, sir, and the Senate itself, should be placed in the position of the High Court to determine the meaning of the Constitution, and to say whether marks of that character were included in its provisions. You continued -
If I were to give an opinion upon that, I should be in fact interpreting the Constitution, which I must respectfully decline to do.
This is an. instance which shows clearly what is meant by interpreting the Constitution. But even that rule, according to a wise exception, which you have engrafted upon it. disappears when - necessary for the purpose of the business of the Senate. The question I now submit does not involve an intepretation of the Constitution, but its application to the business of the Senate. What is it? It arises under section. 55 of the Constitution, which reads -
Laws imposing taxation .shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with an)’ other matter shall be of no effect.
If the section stopped there, the point I am venturing to submit would not be so absolutely clear as to my mind it seems to be, but it continues -
Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of Customs or of Excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only.
We can pass that also for the moment - but laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only, and laws imposing duties of Excise shall deal with duties of Excise only.
Therefore, under the Constitution, my sub- mission to you is this : That neither of these Bills is in order, that they both violate the Constitution, and that neither of them can be proceeded with in the Senate. It is necessary that we should consider what is the origin and purpose of this provision. I do not wish you, sir, to consider the matter from any narrow or technical point of view. In order to ascertain the origin, we go back to section 53, which places a limitation upon the powers, functions, and privileges of the Senate. It reads -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
I do not think it necessary to recall to your mind the momentous debates which took place in the Convention in regard to these provisions for the maintenance of tie power of the Senate. I need not recall to you the fact that this method of clothing the Senate with, to a certain extent, unprecedented powers in comparison with most Upper Houses, originated, if not with- yourself , at any rate in the practice which prevailed in the Legislative Council of South Australia. It was to be developed in order that the Senate of the Commonwealth should occupy the highest possible place, and enjoy the greatest possible power in the interests of the States in relation to moneys Bills’. This was the disability; what was the safeguard? In the next paragraph of the section, it is obvious -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Is this a law imposing taxation? By no possibility can it be said to be a law imposing taxation within the meaning of the Constitution if it violates the provisions of section 55, to which, I have directed your attention. The only law which can be a. proposed law imposing duties of Customs or Excise is a law which deals with duties of Customs only, or with duties of Excise only. These are the only proposed laws imposing, taxation which can possibly come under the operation of section 53 of the Constitution. If that be iso, the operation of the Constitution is simple and clear. If it is not so, this will be the practical position in which we shall be placed : When we get into Committee, one of the first questions which must be raised is whether we are bound to make requests or can make amendments in the Bill. We might occupy a week in debating such questions in Committee, and the solution of the matter is now in applying these] provisions of the Constitution. I submit, with very great respect and deference, that it is your duty to apply these provisions of the Constitution to the business of the Senate. To you we look to apply them. You are trie repository of the powers of the Senate, so far as their application to the business of the Senate is concerned, and it is, therefore, to you we look to say whether this is or is not a Bill which is properly before the Senate; and whether, having allowed it to pass its second reading, the result of sending it to the Committee will not be to put us entirely at sea, since we will not know whether the Bill is one in which we can make amendments, or one in connexion with which we are compelled to make requests. I have endeavoured to explain the position as clearly, and, having regard to its importance, as briefly as I- possibly could. I feel that this is a matter possibly of as far-reaching importance in relation to your functions as you have ever had to bring your mind to bear upon. If my view is right, one of the privileges of the Senate is being invaded by these Bills. I look to you for a ruling, and I hope you will take the view I do, and will give a ruling which, given on the eve of the prorogation and dissolution of Parliament, maybe the most important ruling of the present Parliament, and a ruling which will go forth throughout Australia to show that we are determined to maintain the privileges and rights of the Senate, and the protection which the Constitution throws round its operations.
– I am sure that we all sympathize with you, sir, in having, submitted to you for judicial consideration a question of such constitutional importance as that which has been raised by Senator Symon. Whatever may be my view as to the correct constitutional interpretation of the sections which have been quoted, I urge that essentially the question involves an interpretation of the Constitution by you, and comes under that well-defined rule which you have at all times observed, that that is not a function you are called upon to discharge, but one which must be discharged by that great and responsible body, the High Court. In the case quoted by Senator Symon, where it was held that as a question involved the immediate vote of a member of the Senate, it was a matter which applied to the business of the Senate–
– The business could not go on without it.
– The business could not go on without it, because! that would have involved a partial disfranchisement of one of the States. That was essentially a matter for immediate determination by the Chair. But how it can be conceived that this is a matter which affects the business of the Senate, with very great respect to Senator Symon, I am unable to see.
– How can we go into Committee unless the point is decided?
– Are we to make requests or amendments?
– Section 55 provides that -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
– The honorable and learned senator should read on.
– Of course I will. There are certain provisions in this Bill which a majority of honorable senators deem essential to it. You, sir, are being invited to say that that majority is not to be at liberty to express any opinion on those provisions or to embody them in the Bill. The Constitution has in contemplation an ultimate judicial interpretation as to provisions which can be of no effect. That essentially implies that when they are referred to the proper tribunal it will be for that tribunal to say whether those provisions are valid or not. I assume, sir, that your anxiety will be to take the widest and most liberal view, and to give the widest liberty to the Senate to include such provisions as it deems desirable in dealing with any proposal for the imposition of taxation. It is not to be suggested for a moment that to do so will make the Bill invalid. It will make only those particular provisions invalid, and only at the instance and on the interpretation of the High Court.
– The honorable and learned senator ignores the question of procedure as between House and House.
– If Senator Millen will allow me I shall endeavour to deal with that point. Senator Symon has recalled the circumstance that as Chairman of Committees I ruled that it was necessary in dealing with the Sugar Bounties Bill in Committee that we should deal with it by request, and not by amendment. The Senate was against me at that time, but subsequently the leader of the Senate, Senator O’Connor, with the concurrence of Senator Symon, felt that the matter should be reviewed, with the result that the former decision was overruled, and it was held that we could only make requests, anxious as every honorable senator was then to exercise our fullest rights in that connexion.
– That question will have to be decided again.
– No doubt itwill. Certainly it is most important that where the Senate has the right to amend it should be exercised. This, point was decided on the Sugar Bounties Bill, which was also an Excise Bill.
– No; it was a Bill appropriating money out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– Whether it was an Excise Bill or not we had to decide whether we should express our wish by amendment or by request.
– Surely the honorable senator has forgotten the facts ! I have looked up the case. The question which arose on the Sugar Bounties Bill was whether an appropriation of revenue imposed an increased charge upon the people. It had nothing to do with the imposition of Excise duties.
– With all respect to you, sir, I think that the question was whether we should exercise our will by request or by amendment.
– No; I have the Bill before me.
– That question was involved.
– Necessarily it was involved.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is right about the procedure, but the question was whether an appropriation of revenue imposed an increased charge upon the people.
– Exactly. On that occasion we had to decide whether we should proceed by request or by amendment, and ultimately we decided to proceed by request. The point of order involves, the interpretation of the Constitution by the President.
– Does not the Bill infringe the provision which says that “ laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs, only “ ?
– I am coming to that question. Clause 2 of the Bill provides for the levying of Customs duties on harvesters. Clause 3 says -
The duties of Customs specified in the schedule to this Act shall be charged, collected, and paid to the use of the King for the purposes of the Commonwealth on the dutiable goods specified in the said schedule, &c.
So far the effect of the Bill is to impose duties of Customs on certain goods. Then clause 4 says -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripper harvesters and drills manufactured in Australia are sold exceeds the prices hereunder set out, he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule in respect of stripper harvesters, nut so that the reduction shall not reduce the rate of dutv below one-half the rate of duty imposed by this Act.
That imposes certain duties, subject, however, to a stipulation that the GovernorGeneral shall be empowered under certain conditions to lower the rate, following largely the lines of the Canadian Act.
– But the honorable senator is aware of a difference in the Constitutions ?
– I am aware of that, but what I am urging’ is that this Bill essentially relates to the manner in which; the duties shall be imposed. It imposes duties directly upon stripper-harvesters, but it provides that under certain circumstances the rate shall be modified. In other words, it empowers the Governor-General, if certain things take place, to modify the duties.
Surely that is the manner of imposing duties !
– Just as we provide that the Bill shall not come into force for six months.
– Just as we have provided that the duty on spirits shall be so much for one purpose, and so much for another.
– Suppose that it was a Bill dealing with the imposition of duties on spirits. We could exempt a particular class of spirits from duty, and impose differential duties on other classes, to be collected from time to time. We could also say that, in respect of a particular class of spirits, the duties should not come into operation before a specified time. The point of order strikes at the very root of the liberty of the Parliament to impose duties in such a way, as it may think proper. Let me illustrate exactly what I mean by referring to the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill, because if the point of order is good as regards one Bill, q fortiori it must apply to the other. The question would be whether that is a Bill dealing with duties of Excise only. Clause 2 says -
Duties of Excise shall on and from the 1st day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on the dutiable goods specified in the schedule at the rates specified in the schedule.
There is a direct imposition of Excise duties, as fixed in the schedule, but the clause goes on to provide that it shall not apply to a particular class of goods. Practically it says that the duties shall only apply to a particular class of harvesters. In other words, the provision applies to harvesters generally, but not to harvesters made in a’ particular way. It is a general qualification of the imposition of the duties just as, in a Customs Tariff Bill, we can discriminate as to goods which come here in British bottoms. No one would urge for a moment that we could not qualify our imposition of taxation by saying that goods coming here in other than British bottoms should be liable to certain duties, but that goods arriving in British bottoms should be subject to lower duties. In the present case we are attempting to discriminate as to the class of harvesters that we seek to tax. We can always levy a qualified tax. There is not a word in this Bill which does not deal with duties of Customs only. The utmost which can be said is that there is a qualification to the imposition of the duties.
We would be strangely limiting our power if we could not qualify the imposition of a duty.
– Undoubtedly we could by passing a separate Bill.
– This is the Bill which imposes the qualification.
– In a Bill imposing duties of Customs, have we the right to fix the prices at which articles shall be sold?
– I think so.
– But the Bill does not fix the prices.
– All that the Bill provides is that if the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which locally-made stripper-harvesters and drills are sold exceeds the prices therein set out he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty. It simply says that under certain conditions the Governor-General is to Se at liberty to reduce taxes which have been imposed. I submit with great respect that the matter, involving as it does, the interpretation of the Constitution, is essentially one for the High Court to deal with.
– It seems to me, as it does to Senator Best, that if you, sir, are to accede to the request made to you bySenator Symon, you will necessarily have to take up the position of giving an interpretation of the Constitution.
– What have we to interpret in the Constitution ? We have to apply it.
– The honorable senator has asked you, sir, not to depart from the established rule which you have laid down of not interpreting the Constitution unless in exceptional cases in which the business of the Senate turns upon such an interpretation.
– I did not put it in that way.
– I am sorry if I have misunderstood the honorable senator.
– What I said was that I recognised, as I think we all do, that the President had ruled that it is not the function of the President to interpret the Constitution; and I said that the exception grafted on to that rule was where it was necessary to interpret the Constitution to enable the business of the Sentae to proceed. I added that the question which I have submitted did not involve an interpretation of the Constitution.
– That is just what I was saying. The honorable senator recognised that the procedure which you had followed in the past was one which should be followed in the future.
– I did not say that.
– I do not profess to quote the honorable senator’s exact words.-
– I simplysaid that I recognised that the rule had been laid down, and the exception to it.
– In consequence of that, the honorable senator said that he was not going to ask you, sir, to depart from your rule, and to interpret the Constitution, but that he was going to ask you to apply the Constitution. I ask, in all reasonableness - how can any one apply the provisions of the Constitution without interpreting them? Is it possible to do so?
– I should think so.
– Can any one apply particular provisions without first of all interpreting what they mean ? On the face of it, it seems to me to be an absolute impossibility. Interpretation must necessarily precede application.
– I should think that interpretation is necessary where there is something in doubt.
– There is something in doubt in this case. The remarks already addressed to you by Senator Best clearly go to show that in his mind the provisions of the Constitution to which reference has been made have not the same application to certain matters in this Bill as Senator Symon believes that they have. The honorable senator has brought this matter under your notice as relating to certain sections of the Constitution. Section 53, to which reference has been made, deals with Bills when before Parliament, and to such Bills it refers as “ proposed, laws.” It says -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
The second paragraph of the same section says -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation.
All those provisions deal with Bills. Section 54 also deals with proposed laws which appropriate revenue. Then we come to section 55, which drops the term “proposed laws,” and deals with “ laws imposing taxation “ - that is, Acts. It provides that such laws imposing taxation - shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
If it is to be held that this Bill is a measure which, if it gets upon the statutebook in its present form, is a “ law imposing taxation,” and if it deals with any other matter than the imposition of taxation, then the constitutional consequence would follow that that law to the extent of such other matter would be invalid, and of no effect.
– The point is that the provision to which I have taken exception would be a “ tack,” and the object of the sections of the Constitution quoted is to prevent tacking.
– What 1 am pointing out is that section 55 deals with Statutes, and simply says that so far as they transgress the principle that they shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, thev shall be invalid. The consequence attached to them on that account is the invalidity of the provisions which deal with more than taxation. But that consequence does not attach to “ proposed laws.”
– There is a distinction clearly drawn between section 53 and section 55. In section 53 what is intended to be a law is at the Bill stage referred to as a “ proposed law.”
-Col. Gould. - Upon that argument, anything a Government liked could be tacked on to a Bill, and when it became law, the portion tacked on would be of no effect.
– I am going to deal with the question of tacking directly, but at present I deem it my duty to direct the attention of the learned President to the fact that there is a distinction between the term used in section 53 and in section 55.
– There was a great deal of debate in the Convention as to whether “laws” or “proposed laws” should be used, and the term “laws” in section 55 was inserted advisedly.
– I was not aware of that : but I thought I ought to draw your attention to the difference. Now, to come to the Question whether what is proposed in this Bill is or is not a tack. I suggest that the object of section 55 is to prevent, in connexion with taxation, Customs and Excise measures, the tacking on of additional matter - that is, matter foreign to the imposition of taxation, the imposition of Customs duties, or the imposition of Excise duties. Clause 4 of this Bill is as follows : -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripper harvesters and drills, manufactured in Australia, are sold, exceeds the prices hereunder set out, he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule in respect of stripper harvesters, but so that the reduction shall not reduce the rate of duty below one-half the rate of duty imposed by this Act.
I submit, sir, that that provision is not to be construed as an addition to .the imposition of duties under the Bill. It is conditional to the imposition of duties.
– Is it not intended to enforce a limitation of prices?
– It may have that effect.
– But is not that intended ?
– We can ,only deal with the provision as it stands. When Parliament legislates for the imposition of any duty, the duty imposed has its direct, and its indirect, consequences. If you are going to judge of the quality of a measure by the indirect consequences of the taxation that it imposes, I submit that you embark upon a sea for which .you have no chart or compass.
– May I ask my honorable friend whether the Senate is not asked to pass a schedule under which prices are fixed?
– What the Senate is asked to do is to provide that, in the event of a certain contingency, the duty shall be lowered.
– Cannot the Senate, in Committee, increase the price from £70 to £75?
– I am not dealing with that question at this stage. What I am pointing out is that alL that this Bill provides is that in the event of certain prices ruling, the duty shall be so-and-so. If we say that that is a tack, we practically say the same about some of the most important matters that have been passed by this Parliament. Let me draw the attention of honorable senators to the Customs Tariff Act 1902. To that Act there is a schedule, division 6a, “ Metals and Machinery “ -
Te; come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime, except as to iron, galvanized, plate, and sheet.
– The honorable senator surely does not call that .a tack.
– It is precisely analagous to the provision in this Bill. It goes on : -
Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses for the encouragement of manufactures, or for the establishment of manufactures under the direct control of the Commonwealth or State Governments, but no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers bv both Houses of Parliament, stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
Those are the conditions in respect of which certain duties set out in the schedule will or will not be operative; and they are in that respect, I submit, on all-fours with the conditions contained in clause 4 of the Bill before the Senate. Now let me turn to the Excise Tariff Act 1902. Under that Act certain articles are excisable, and it is provided in regard to sugar that a rebate shall be given -
The rebate in the case of sugar cane to be 4s. per ton on all sugar cane delivered for manufacture, and in the production of which sugar cane white labour only has been employed after -Sth February, 1002. The rebate is calculated on cane giving 10 per cent, of sugar, and is to be increased or reduced proportionately, according to any variation from this standard.
– That is a method of gauging.
– Those are the conditions upon which, the Excise is to be reducible by means of a rebate. Surely honorable senators will see - I think I can urge this argument most strongly upon them - that the conditions in the case of a rebate of Excise duty on sugar, and the conditions of the Customs Tariff Act in connexion with metals and machinery are precisely on all fours with conditions of the character mentioned in this Bill. There may be differences in detail, but I submit that there is no . difference in principle. To illustrate further the argument that what is meant by section 55 of the Constitution is that we shall not insert in laws Customs or Excise measures imposing taxation, or foreign matter, I point out that we have, and neces sarily must have in all our Customs and Excise Acts, provisions which do not in themselves impose taxation. There are provisions of a preliminary character, and provisions such as Senator Guthrie suggested by interjection a little while ago, suspending duties for six months. It . could be quite as well argued by Senator Symon that if we inserted a provision to that effect we should be going outside the ordinary imposition of taxation and adding something to the measure. In the Excise Tariff Act 1902 there are seven sections. After dealing with definitions, the time of imposition of uniform duties of Excise, and what the duties shall be, there is a provision in section 6 of the Excise Tariff Act validating the collections under the proposals. If we were to read section 55 of the Constitution so strictly as to say that an Excise Bill shall deal with duties of Excise only, might it not be argued that this validating provision in regard to the collections already made was a tack? Then in section 7 there is a provision for future contingencies -
Whenever any goods are manufactured » which in the opinion of the Minister are a substitute for any excisable goods, or are intended to be or can be used as such substitute, or for any purpose for which such excisable goods can be used, or for any similar purpose, the Minister may by Gazette notice direct that such first mentioned goods shall be charged with Excise duty.
Is that not a contingency that may arise ?
– All the honorable and learned senator is affirming is that the objection cannot be taken on this Bill, because it was not taken on some previous Bill.
– That is not what I am affirming; I am affirming that this Parliament, in both Houses, has recognised in the past that these are not tacks - that these are not infractions of section 55 of the Constitution. When Parliament has recognised that, how can it for a moment be suggested that there is perfect unanimity in the Senate that this additional matter is contrary to section 55? I submit that before Senator Symon can ask you, sir, to apply the provisions of the Constitution without interpreting them, he -must satisfy you that there is absolute unanimity, not merely on the part of members of the Senate, but on the part of all reasonable men, that the additional matter complained of is an infraction of section
– Suppose a Bill were introduced in the Senate by Senator Keating, as representing the Government, appropriating revenue, would the President not have to rule it out of order under the terms of the Constitution ?
– It is sufficient to deal with the case we have before us ; if I deal with hypothetical cases, I may be drawn off the thread of my argument. You, Mr. President, have been asked to apply the provisions of the Constitution, and have been practically assured that you need not interpret them in the sense of deviating from -your usual procedure. I say that the very fact that this legislation exists on our statute-book,, and the further fact that this provision objected to is precisely analogous, go to show that there cannot be that unanimity in the interpretation of section 55 which must necessarily precede your action in applying the Constitution. I said just now that it would be necessary, before you could apply the provisions, without infringing, if I may say so, your usual procedure there should be the absolute unanimity I have indicated. I think Senator Symon agrees with that.
– It is very doubtful.
– To what unanimity does the honorable senator refer?
– I was pointing out that Senator Symon does not ask the President to interpret the Constitution, but that it must be obvious that the President cannot apply the Constitution without interpreting it.
– How about the provision of the Constitution which says that there must be an absolute majority in the case of certain Bills? Does the President interpret that section when he applies it?
– The President cannot apply section 55 unless in relation to some matter before the Chamber, and it is for him then to determine whether the particular matter before the Chamber comes within that section. In doing that the President is necessarily interpreting the Constitution.
– No; the President is interpreting the Bill.
– The President is interpreting the Bill in conjunction with the Constitution. The President interprets the Bill, but, before he can give effect to the provision of the Constitution, he must determine whether or not the particular matter so interpreted by him in the Bill is within or without the provision of the Constitution. That necessarily involves an interpretation of the Constitution. If it could be determined with absolute unanimity, not only on the part of honorable senators, but of all reasonable men, that the provision of the Constitution had application to the matter of the Bill, then the President, possibly, might apply the provision.
– The honorable senator contends for nothing short of dogma.
– I shall quote the honorable senator’s own words on the subject. Speaking on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the first session of the second Parliament, Senator Symon is thus reported, at page 6332 of Hansard, volume 23 : -
– It will insure an immediate interpretation of the clause.
– None of us can be certain absolutely as to what is or what is not constitutional. That is a point with which I dealt at some length when moving the second reading. Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate is the judge on the subject. I hold the view that unless, in an absolutely clear case, on which there ‘is great unanimity, it would not be a safe course for Parliament to set itself up to determine on a doubtful question what was or what was. not constitutional.
– I thoroughly agree with that.
– If we are to measure what is doubtful by differences of opinion, the question before us is as doubtful as any. Senator Symon and other honorable senators opposite mav be of opinion that those provisions complained of are additions under section 55 of the Constitution.
– I say that the Bill, inasmuch as it embraces two different matters, violates the Constitution.
– Senator Symon and others may be of opinion that the Bill does embrace two separate matters, but I can assure the honorable senator that there are others, including myself, who are perfectly satisfied that the Bill does not include any matter foreign to Customs taxation.
– That is the doubtful question.
– What I have tried to point out is that the matter objected to is not additional to the taxation, but conditional j and section 55 of the Constitution only operates to prevent adding to
Taxation measures foreign matter not relevant to the taxation. I submit, therefore, Mr. President, that if you are called upon to decide, you must necessarily determine for yourself whether or not the matter complained of is extra matter, which is provided against in section 55 of the Constitution, and that, in doing so, you must necessarily interpret that section in its application to the particular matter.
– I think the reply we have heard may safely and conveniently be divided into two parts. First, there is the question of < whether you, sir, are now asked to interpret or to apply the provisions of the Constitution, and then there is the question of whether this Bill contains in it certain provisions which mav be properly described as conditions tacked on to a Money Bill. So far as I am concerned, I think there is little to be said as to whether you are now asked to interpret or to apply the section of the Constitution. The one sentence of. the Constitution to which your attention has been directed simply states that laws imposing duties of Customs or duties of Excise shall deal with duties of Customs or duties of Excise only. And it has been argued that you are asked not to apply, but to interpret, that provision of the Constitution. I venture to say that if such a request were made to you with regard to any other section in the Constitution which affects our procedure, it could be pointed out. in innumerable cases, that to strain the meaning so as to make you interpret where application is obvious was unreasonable. We have had an example to-day. It is provided by the Constitution that in any Bill to amend the Constitution there must be an absolute majority to carry it. The statement in the Constitution to that effect is just as simple in its meaning as the statement in reference to duties of Customs. I shall not prolong the debate on that point because I cannot conceive that in that sentence is, concealed any difficulty so far as you are concerned at the present time. The other point is obviously more within our own procedure and less within the ambit of the Constitution. I take it that you are now asked to place an interpretation on the contents of the Bill, just as you might be asked to settle an ordinary point of order. Yow
Sire asked to say whether in your opinion this Bill does contain anything in the nature of a tack. Perhaps I might digress for just one moment to refer to the distinction drawn by Senator Keating between laws and proposed laws. An investigation of the debates of the Federal Convention reveals the fact that that point was very fully discussed there. As a “matter of fact, the Constitution was put in its present form simply and solely to give it the precise effect which we say it ought to have now. That is to say, the word “ proposed “ was left out after long and serious debate in order to secure to the Senate immunity from tacking in any Bill sent from the other House. I shall not. refer at any great length to that point, which I think Senator Keating will agree is a minor one. Let me invite you, sir, to consider whether there is any clear evidence of tacking in the Bill now before us. Everyone of the illustrations or parallels submitted by Senator Keating for our consideration was, an ordinary application of ejusdem generis; to put that in another way, they dealt with nothing except conditions affecting the same article or an article of the same kind. What is proposed in the Bill ? A simple scrutiny reveals the fact that it purports to impose Customs duties, absolutely on condition that the price of totally different harvesters - that is the locally-made harvesters - shall be as the schedule states.
– Cannot we make any conditions we like when imposing taxation ?
– There is a clear difference between the conditions which Senator Keating instanced and the conditions in this Bill. The conditions in the Bill do not affect the imported article on which it is proposed to impose a duty. Surely Senator Playford can see that the primary object is to impose a Customs duty on certain articles which are imported, while the conditions sought to be imposed are totally disconnected from those articles.
– And from the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– Of course. Let me put it in another way. . Can we in a Bill imposing duties of Customs do anything with respect to any article that possibly under no circumstances can ever be the subject of a Customs duty?
– An article which may never be manufactured.
– An article which cannot be manufactured abroad, because we are dealing with articles which must be manufactured here.
– And the standard set up is for an article that may never be manufactured.
– Precisely. It will be recognised that the Bill presents these difficulties, which to some of us appear to be insuperable. We cannot directly alter the Customs duties, because if we do we shall be altering the whole purport of the Bill, and why? Because the Customs duties themselves depend absolutely upon Something that has no relation to Customs duties, upon some conditions which, in the case of this Bill, relate clearly to the price of local machines.
– Before the honorable and learned senator leaves that argument, I remind him that I quoted the heading in the Tariff of division 6a, Metals and Machinery. That imposes duties upon imports of metals and machinery which are not to come into operation until local manufacture is certified as having been established.
– I admit that, but that is not on a par with the conditions which arise under this measure.
– That condition does not apply to imported goods, but to locally - made goods.
– I still say that that is by no means on the same footing as the measure before us. It offers a kind of resemblance, but goes no further. We must rely upon you, sir, to get us out of the difficulty as to the question of procedure in Committee. The object of the framers of the Constitution was distinctly to prevent the tacking on to money Bills of any conditions which the Senate could not alter by amendment ; that the Senate should not be embarrassed by finding in a Bill dealing with Customs or Excise duties some conditions which it could not alter in the exercise of its ordinary legislative functions by the usual process of amendment. Suppose we get into Committee on this Bill, how are we to exercise our right to amend if it is decided that this is a Bill which we cannot amend? The measure contains many things which are nothing but conditions. The whole of the schedule from our point of view is merely a condition. I take the first item -
Stripper-harvesters, 5-foot size and under, price £70.
Suppose some member of the Committee desires to alter that, how is he to do it ?
– He can only move a request that the alteration be made.
– We say that our powers of amendment are limited specifically to a proposed law imposing taxation or burdens on the people, but if we were to say that in the opinion of the Senate the line to which I have referred should be altered, and should read, “ Stripperharvesters 6-foot size and under,” we should be endeavouring to impose no burden upon the people, and should be merely exercising our ordinary right of amendment. It will be admitted that in Committee we shall be confronted with that difficulty. I join . with Senator Symon in hoping that you will rule that the Senate shall not be put in the position of having to make a request for an amendment which will involve no extra burden upon the people, but which will merely alter certain conditions which might properly find a place in a Bill dealing with money in no way whatever, and which, we should have the undoubted right to amend.
– I respectfully submit that a tendency has been displayed to depart from the point presented. The point is not whether in this Bill there is a tack, but whether you, sir, should rule that this Bill is admissible. These are two very different things. ‘The question whether there is a tack is not a question for the President, but for the Senate itself. If, in the opinion of the Senate, there is attached to a money Bill, which it may not amend a tack, which, if presented by itself, it might amend, it is for the Senate to refuse to pass that Bill,’ and to return it to another placeon the ground that there is a tack attached to it.
– No, it would not be in order, and it would be for the President to rule it out of order.
– The question whether this particular proposal is a tack has been decided so far as the Senate and this Parliament is concerned by legislation we have already passed. Senator Millen interjected that Senator Keating was contending that this is necessarily in order, because we have passed other legislation of a similar kind. That does not follow at all. It only follows that the opinion of Parliament is that it is in order because it is similar to legislation already passed; but it might still happen that the High
Court, which is the custodian of the Constitution, might, if appealed to, decide against what had been done.
– The High Court is not the custodian of the rights of the Senate.
– No, but it is the custodian of the Constitution. It might happen that laws we have passed would come under the review of the High Court on appeal from some citizen, and some of their provisions might be declared to be in contravention of the Constitution. That, however,, does not affect in the slightest degree the proceedings with respect to this Bill.
– But we should have lost our right of amendment, that is the point. The High Court has nothing to do with that.
– That is not the point. The question now is whether this is a tack. What we are asked to do in this Bill is to legislate for duties of Customs. The Constitution says that a Customs Bill must deal with duties of Customs only. The question” is does this Bill deal with duties .of’ Customs only, or with some other matters as well. I have not the slightest hesitation- in saying that there is not a single proposal for legislation in this Bill, except for the imposition or the remission of duties of Customs.
– We have to legislate about these prices.
– No, we have not, that is where the honorable senator is entirely wrong, if he will excuse me for saying so. We have not to legislate about the prices ; all that we do is to say that if the prices vary, the taxation, on which we do legislate, shall vary also.
– Can we not raise these prices if we think they are not sufficiently high?
– We might request that the conditions under which the duties may be imposed shall be altered by another place.
– Can we not amend them ?
– No, we cannot. I have no hesitation in saying that this is a taxation . Bill, which we have no right to amend. Therefore, if we desire amendments in it, as we might legitimately do, all the power given us under the Constitution is to request that such amendments may be made in another place. We do not propose to legislate with reference to prices. They may be £75 or £1,075. The only thing is that if the prices should vary, the legislation for which we are providing shall vary accordingly.
– Are we not offering a premium to manufacturers of local implements to keep prices down to a certain figure ?
– That may be the intention, but, so far as our legislation is concerned, we are not. All that .we do is to provide in this Bill that certain duties of Customs shall be levied.
Seantor Lt. -Col. Gould. - And to persuade honorable senators to vote for them, certain conditions are imposed.
– That is another question altogether. We ‘have legislated in the last few days in an exactly analogous case in connexion with spirits. We have said that the Excise duty in connexion with locally-produced spirits shall be so much, but that the duty on spirits used for certain purposes shall be so much less.
– And we have stipulated that some spirits shall be matured in wood for two years.
– They are the particular spirits on which we levied a particular duty.
– No, the honorable senator is wrong. No spirit is described. It might be silent spirit, a wine brandy, a malt whisky, or any other kind of spirit, but if in the manufacture of scent, for instance, it is used exclusively in connexion with colonial products, the duty is to be 1 os. per gallon.
– The honorable senator is dealing with the particular spirit on which the duty is levied.
– My honorable friend is wrong; it might be any spirit. The duty does not depend on the nature or character of the spirit, or how it is produced, but on how it is subsequently applied on something entirely different from the spirit itself.
– Does not the honorable senator think that this is fixing a maximum price with a penalty if it is exceeded, that other goods will be admitted at less duty ?
– I do not, though that mav be the intention.
Seantor Sir Josiah Symon. - Is it not the effect?
– It may be the effect.
– Then that is the enactment ?
– The effect undoubtedly is that we have decided that these duties shall be contingent upon prices, but what we are legislating for is not the prices, but the duties. We cannot affect the prices, if persons have any other reasons which they might easily have, for raising or lowering them.
– But they would suffer the penalty all the same.
– We only say that if in any case the price rises above a certain maximum, the duty shall not be imposed.
– That is to say, the manufacturers must keep their prices down?
– I direct attention to the fact that we have not the power to enforce these prices.
– We should do it under this Bill.
– That is not proved ; we only say that if they vary, the taxation shall vary.
– The penalty might be ineffective.
– We merely say that the duties shall operate subject to certain contingencies, exactly as in this State we say that a land tax shall be imposed, but do not make its application uniform.
– The difference is that in that case the taxation is on those who own the land, but in this case the taxation is on a different set of people.
– What is dealt with in each instance is taxation. In this State we do not deal in the slightest degree with the extent to which persons shall hold land, but we provide that where men hold land to a certain extent the tax shall apply. In this Bill we seek to levy a duty of so much per stripper-harvester ; and we provide that if it should happen from any cause after a. certain date that the price of the locally-made harvester is higher than that which is therein prescribed, the duty shall not operate. We do not legislate as to the price of the machine. We can always enforce the payment of the duty, but we cannot send a policeman to impose a penalty upon a man who varies the price of his machine.
– We can only do it by saying, “ If you so reduce your price below what we have fixed, we shall admit other people in competition with you.”
– We say that the Governor-General may suspend the duty.
– That is an enactment of the price.
– In presenting his case, my honorable friend was compelled to exercise considerable ingenuity. He was confronted with the persistent and consistent ruling of the President that he is here to interpret the Standing Orders when a difference of opinion arises, but not the Constitution.
– I am not asking the President to interpret the Constitution.
– I venture to think that the honorable senator is, because he is asking the President to say whether the Bill is in accordance with a provision of the Constitution, or as he put it, to apply the Constitution.
– He must first determine that the Bill embraces more than the imposition of Customs duties, and then if it does, it violates the Constitution.
– As the President very properly ruled the other evening, the Senate is as competent as he. is to decide a point of this kind, and if it feels that its privileges are being infringed or its rights abrogated, it need not proceed with the Bill.
– But in the first instance, it is for the President, as the repository of our privileges, to give a ruling.
– The President presides over our deliberations in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the President is not guided by the Constitution ?
– There is a wide difference between the case of Senator Saunders - where, until the right of the senator to vote had been decided, the business of the Senate would necessarily have been brought to a stand-still, or a State would have been partially disfranchised, and the present case.
– Suppose that a Minister initiated here a Bill to ap- propriate revenue. Would it not be the duty of the President to rule whether it was in order or not?
– I have always teen of opinion that the Senate can appropriate revenue.
– That is an interpretation of. the Constitution.
– 1 ask Senator Trenwith to say whether it would not be the duty of the President to rule on the point, and in accordance with the Constitution ?
– It is not an analogous case.
– The President has just ruled that it is.
– No. I have always expressed that opinion; but I have given no ruling in the Senate.
– In conclusion, I submit that this is a case in which the President is not called upon by the Standing Orders to intervene.
– It has been contended, sir, by those who are opposed to the point of order, that you are not called upon to determine the constitutionality of any question which may arise. I submit that there must be a very sharp distinction drawn between the validity of a Bill which is challengeable in a Law Court, either by an individual or by a State, and the validity of procedure. I do not suggest for a moment, sir, that you should take upon yourself a function of the High Court, and that is to determine whether or not a Bill is constitutional. But I do hold that it is incumbent upon you to see that the rights of the Senate are amply protected. The purpose of section 55 of the Constitution was expressly and avowedly to secure the Senate against encroachments by the other House. At page 2000 of the official record of the debates of the Melbourne Convention, Mr. Isaacs is reported to have said -
What I am perfectly willim; to accede to, in view of what has been decided upon in other directions, is this : that the Senate shall have the full power under the Constitution to decline: to consider any measure, and shall have the warrant of the very words of the Constitution in declining to consider measures that do not comply with the provisions of the Constitution.
Dr., now Sir John, Quick, said at page 2007 -
There are two methods in which the privileges of the Senate can be defended. First there is the President, whose absolute duty it would be to rule out of order any Bill from the House of Representatives infringing or violating those privileges.
The discussion, I mav say, took place on a proposal of Mr. Isaacs to insert the word “ proposed “ before the word ‘ laws “ in the clause.
It would be the prerogative of the President to do this, absolutely regardless of the opinion of the Senate ‘itself. The President has not merely to act upon a point taken by a member of the Senate, but is placed in his position to act of his own motion without wailing to have his attention directed to any particular clause infringing the Constitution. It would be the duty of a President to say that the Bill was out of order, and it would then be sent back to the House of Representatives with an intimation to that effect. I venture to question whether even a majority of the Senate would dare to attempt to override a decision of the President.
I do not submit for a moment, sir, that the opinion of even a fellow delegate at the Convention should or ought to override your own opinion. I have quoted (he passage from Sir John Quick’s speech, because it so clearly expresses my own opinion that you, sir, are the repository of the rights and privileges of the Senate, and the proper ‘ person to defend them if assailed. The question is whether this provision is an infringement of the powers and privileges of the Senate by the other House. Our powers and privileges are coequal with those of the other House, except in one important particular; but if this is a tack to a Bill imposing taxation, it does to that extent infringe upon our rights, inasmuch as it limits the manner in which we can seek to secure an amendment. It has been pointed out that we have already passed measures which, if the contention of Senator Symon be correct, are equally an .infringement of the Constitution.
– That is to say, if they are analogous?
– Assuming, for the sake of argument, that they are analogous, the fact that those measures have been passed makes it all the more important that a decision should be given on the point now, because honorable senators are suggesting that we should condone the present departure from the Constitution simply because we have condoned similar departures.
– No, we argue that in the opinion of Parliament it is not an offence, because it has declared its view by enactment.
– Parliament has made no such declaration ; but by omission or negligence or oversight it has passed similar provisions. Every time we pass a measure which may slightly infringe upon the rights of the Senate, or may be thought to do so, our action will be used as a buttress by those who wish to aid, perhaps unconsciously, an effort by the other House to encroach upon our powers. I hold a very strong view as to the position which the Senate occupies in the Constitution. I submit, sir, that if there is a possible doubt as to what the Constitution intended, as to the respective powers of the Houses, you would be acting quite properly in giving the benefit of the doubt to the Senate, thus leaving the other House, if it felt aggrieved, to express its view in proper form, and that is by message.
– I shall not presume to say anything on the point whether you, sir, ought to give a ruling on the issue raised by Senator Symon, because our experience of your rulings during die past five years is such that we can with full confidence leave that matter in your hands. But on the point whether what is proposed in this Bill is or is not a tack, I wish to direct your attention to one or two cases that have occurred in the history of the Senate, and which, perhaps, you have not had an opportunity to look up. I draw your attention to the test which was stated by Senator Symon. I think I quote him correctly when I say that he observed, when Senator Trenwith was speaking, that the test is - “ Does the Bill deal with other subjects than Customs and Excise? If it does, it abrogates the Constitution.” Now, I draw veur attention to the “fact that the first Customs Tariff Act, passed by the first Parliament of the Commonwealth - during the time you have occupied the position of President - did deal with other matters than the imposition of duties so far as those matters were conditions governing the remission or imposition of certain duties contained in that Act. I will also refer to another test stated by Senator Clemons. I took down his words as he used them. He said, “ If we .alter the duties for some other purpose, then we alter them for some purpose outside the scope of this class of Bill altogether.” Applying those tests to the Bill before us, both Senator Clemons and Senator Symon contend that you should rule the measure to be unconstitutional. The first instance to which I. direct attention is the Customs Tariff Act 1902, page 316 of the first volume of the Commonwealth Statutes. Under the heading, “Special Exemptions,” you will find these words : -
Any machinery, machine tool, or any part thereof, specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General, in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of the Parliament, stating that such machinery, machine tool, or part cannot be reasonably manufactured within the Commonwealth, and that it should be admitted free.
That is to say, the duties were imposed ; but if such a proclamation were issued then-, without any alteration of the Customs Tariff Act, such machines were to be admitted free. That is a case in which duties were to be remitted on a proclamation by both Houses of Parliament.
– But that was to apply all over Australia. There was no distinction between classes or persons.
– There is another instance on page 321 of the same volume, under the heading “ Metals and Machinery “ - .
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime, except as to iron, galvanized, plate, or sheet.
There is a condition laid down altogether outside the province of taxation.
Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified by the Minister, that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses for the encouragement of manufactures, or to the establishment of manufactures under the direct control of the Commonwealth or State Governments, but no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament, stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
In both those cases conditions were laid down. In the one case, under certain conditions outside the region of taxation, duties were to be imposed, and in the other case, under certain conditions outside the region of taxation, duties were to be remitted.
– May I point out that, with regard to the last parallel quoted, the essence is time.
– The essence is the payment of bounties in the one case and in the other the establishment of State or Commonwealth iron works. It is also worthy of consideration that Excise Tariff Bills and Customs Tariff Bills are or. all-fours with the measure now before us ; and, therefore, if the rule holds good as regards Customs Tariff Bills, it holds good as regards Excise Tariff Bills. There is an even stronger case afforded by the Excise Tariff Act, passed in 1902. On page 294 of the first volume of the Commonwealth Statutes there is the item -
Sugar, per cwt. of manufactured sugar, 3s., until 1st January, 1907, less, from the 1st July, 1902, a rebate to the grower of sugar cane and beet. The rebate in the case of sugar cane to be 4s. per ton on all sugar cane delivered for manufacture, and in the production of which sugar cane, white labour only has been employed after28th February, 1902.
Senator Drake just now wanted to know whether there was any differentiation between classes of persons. In the last instance I have quoted, there is a differentiation between the colour of persons ; and Senator Drake was, if I remember rightly, the Minister in charge of the Act which I have quoted when it was before the Senate. There was a measure imposing Excise duties which allowed for a rebate according to the class of labour - namely, the colour of the labourer - employed in the industry.
– Those conditions affected not the Excise duty, which remained the same, but the rebate. Surely there is a great difference?
– I submit that if that is all that is wrong, all that it is necessary to do is to alter the form of the present Bill, and to provide for a rebate. But that is only another way of doing the same thing. What honorable senators opposite have asked you, sir, to rule is that the conditions in dispute must be put into a separate Bill. I point out, also, that when the Excise Tariff Bill, and the Customs Tariff Bill 1902, came before the Senate for their third reading, you were in the Chair, and did not rule that they were unconstitutional. There is yet another point. The Senate, within the last few weeks, has dealt with a Bill to amend the Excise Tariff Act of 1902, and it sent down a request to the House of Representatives in the following terms: -
No. 2, page 1, clause 2, at end of clause add- “ Provided further that if the distillers -
do not, after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, pay their employes a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of forty-eight hours ; or
employ more than a due proportion of boys to men engaged in the industry, the Governor-General may in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Re presentatives impose an additional Excise duty of one shilling per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the schedule.”
Of course, I know that that requested amendment was agreed to in Committee, and, therefore, did not come under your notice officially while you were in the Chair.
– Some of the honorable senators who are taking exception to the Bill before the Senate voted for it.
– These instances clearly show that both Houses of Parliament have, in every measure of this class that has come before us, followed the rule that we can impose conditions affecting the imposition of Customs and Excise taxation. Therefore, I submit that you will be acting rightly in upholding the precedents that have been established by ruling that the Bill is in order.
– I think I am justified in saying a few words in reply to those honorable senators who have adduced what they consider to be precedents for the Bill before us. In my opinion, not one of the cases quoted can be said to be parallel to that of this Bill. The reference was to measures providing that certain Customs duties are to come into operation under certain circumstances. But that is nothing like what is here proposed. The case that comes nearest is that cited by Senator Pearce with regardto a rebate being paid when sugar is grown by white labour. But there is this to be said in answer to that point : That, although the Act which the honorable senator quoted was passed in 1902, it was afterwards considered that what was done was not done in the proper way to attain the object. Consequently, in 1903, the Government came down with a Bill, by passing which Parliament repealed the provision of the Excise Tariff Act 1902, and provided in its place a system of bounties.
– That was because the second method was considered to be more convenient.
– At any rate, it was considered that the granting of the rebate allowed in the Excise Tariff Act was not the proper way of attaining the object.
– Not that it was not the proper way. but that it was not the better way ; that is a different Question.
– I do not know that anyquestion like the one before us has even been raised in Parliament. Senator Pearce also referred to a request made by the Senate in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill, during the present session. That case is not analagous. In this Bill it is proposed to impose a certain Excise duty upon stripper-harvesters, and it is provided that that duty shall not apply to any person who conforms to certain conditions. An analogous case would have been presented, if we had inserted in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill a provision declaring that the rates therein fixed should not be payable by importers who conducted their business upon certain lines. If the Government can do what is proposed in the Bill they can obtain complete control of any trade which deals with goods that are liable to duties of Customs or Excise. It seems to me that by means of this measure the Government are endeavouring to obtain a power which they do not possess under the Constitution - the power of interfering with private traders within the States.
– The honorable senator is now getting away from the point of order which relates to the question of whether the introduction of a particular clause is good or bad.
– The Government may send up proposals of this kind, and the Senate may not be able to prevent them from doing so, because you, sir, have ruled that you will not go out of your way to interpret the Constitution unless it is necessary to do so for the conduct of business. This Bill should not have been submitted in its present form. If the Government wish to do what they propose they should have stipulated that persons engaged in the manufacture of harvesters must comply with the conditions herein laid down subject to a penalty of£6 per harvester.
– This is not a penalty Bill.
– The Government desire to impose a penalty upon the manufacturer who does not comply with certain conditions. Had they followed the course which I suggest there would have been no doubt as to our absolute power to amend the measure in any particular. It appears to me that they have forwarded the Bill to us in the hope that we shall treat it as a Money Bill. In this connexion I would point out that section 53 of the Constitution refers not to a Bill, but to “ a law imposing taxation.” Clearly therefore the Senate is not prevented from amending a Bill which primarily does not. impose taxation. That portion of this measure which deals with the manufacture of harvesters is not a law imposing taxation. We cannot proceed much further unless the President decides whether or not we have power to amend this Bill.
– That is not the point which has been submitted to the President by Senator Symon.
– I understand that it is.
– It is for the Chairman of Committees to rule upon that point.
– The Bill is about to go into Committee, and that being so, it is not unreasonable that we should ask your ruling, sir, upon the point to which I have referred. It would then go into Committee with a clear instruction as to the class of Bill that it is. However, I will not press that point.
– When this point of order was taken I certainly understood that the question raised was whether the Bill as submitted complies with the requirements of the Constitution. If you, sir, consider that the Bill does not comply with the requirements of the Constitution, but is really a Bill’ which contains a tack, you will rule that it is out of order, and a waste of time in Committee will thereby be prevented. Senator Symon, it appears to me, submitted the question in very apt terms, and clearly drew the distinction between asking you to interpret the Constitution and asking you to interpret the Bill. I know that a similar question was raised on a previous occasion”, but it was not presented to you in the same clear terms as to-night. It seems to me that the wording of the Constitution is perfectly plain. If it were argued that you could not interpret the Bill, and say whether the provision of the Constitution applied, it would not be possible to say whether or not a proposal dealt with laws imposing taxation. After all, it is not what the Constitution means,but what the Constitution actually says, and then there comes the application with regard to any Bill that is submitted for our consideration. The cases cited by Senators Keating. Pearce, and others have been fully replied to by speakers who have preceded me on this side, and therefore I do not propose to occupy further time in dealing with them. But I should like to elaborate one argument submitted by Senator Millen as to the necessity to give the Senate the benefit of any doubt, if you have .any doubt, as to the application of the section of the Constitution’ to the present Bill. It may be said that a ruling in the direction desired by Senator Symon and others might prove rather serious with regard to the Bill before us. That, I take it, is hardly a matter to be considered, but, in any case, a ruling to that effect”, even if it were mistaken, could only result in the Bill being sent back to another place, with a message stating the reason why it had not been proceeded with. It would then be perfectly competent for the ‘Government to meet our wishes in another Bill, providing for the fixing of the prices to be charged for harvesters. We should have a Bill imposing taxation, which we could not amend, except by way of suggestion, and another Bill, which would fix the prices of the harvesters, and which we could amend in any respect. The only effect would be to cause a certain amount of delay, and some additional work to the Government. But if, on the other hand, your decision was against the view submitted by Senator Symon, the Bill would pass into law, and remain law until further action was taken by legislation. To this Ministers may reply that according to section 55 -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
We have to bear in mind, however, the further words -
Laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only.
If it were assumed that the High Court, on being appealed to, would eliminate the provisions of the Bill, which it was not strictly within our power to pass, it must not be forgotten that if would be possible for a Government to introduce taxation proposals, accompanied with” such conditions as to render the taxation unobjectionable to men who otherwise would not have approved of it. It is clearly the intention of the Government to charge these Customs duties until something else happens, quite apart from the Customs duties. Surely that is an evident tack, and an indirect process of fixing prices. It must bc abundantly evident to you, sir, with your knowledge of the intention and history of this particular section of the Constitution, that there is in this Bill an attempt 4o tack; and it is an important matter in reference to the rights and privileges of the Senate. Even if there has been an infringement of this section in past legislation, that should not affect our decision on the present occasion. If the question arose before the High Court of whether a Bill was within the Constitution, the decision would not be affected by the fact that some previous Bill, not within the Constitution, had not been challenged.
– In this case I am asked to rule that I ought or ought not to put the second reading of the Bill. That is clearly not a point of order, because if it were not for section 55 of the Constitution the point would not have arisen at all. It is therefore a constitutional question, which arises under the provisions of section 55. Now at the very commencement of the history of this Senate there w.as a ruling laid down by myself, and that ruling has been accepted ever since by the Senate. This is what I said -
It does not seem to me that I should, from the Chair, undertake the responsibility of interpreting all the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution itself has provided for a tribunal, the High Court, which, after argument and consideration such as would be ‘impossible and undesirable in this Senate, is empowered to finally determine its meaning in most of the cases which will arise. It is my duty to interpret and determine the Standing’ Orders, and t< regulate the procedure of the Senate; and, per haps, to interpret the Constitution so far as thi conduct of the business of the Senate is concerned.
I then proceeded to point out the difference between the two cases. In one instance, I undoubtedly did interpret the provisions of the Constitution. That was in a ruling which I gave in the case where the vote of Senator Saunders was challenged. It was evident that the business of the Senate could not be proceeded with as long as that question remained in doubt. The honorable senator’s vote might have been challenged on every division, and the whole proceedings of the Senate declared invalid. In that case, and, so far as I remember, in that case only, I undertook to interpret the provisions of the Constitution. It has been urged that it is unnecessary for me in dealing with this question to interpret the provisions of the Constitution. It is said that I can apply them. I fail to see how it is possible for me to apply the provisions of section 55 unless I make up my mind as to its meaning, or, in other words, interpret it. Section 55 provides that “ laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation. “ It does not provide that laws imposing taxation shall only impose taxation, and it is possible that a different meaning may be implied by the use of the words “ deal with taxation.” It is contended that this Bill which is one to impose Customs duties, contains a provision that does not deal with the imposition of taxation ; and it seems to me that to decide the question that has been submitted to me, I should have to interpret not only the Constitution, but the Bill itself. In accordance with the rule that has been laid down, I do not think that I should be asked to undertake that responsibility. If - and I use the word “if” - the clause to which objection is taken ought not to appear in the Bill, it is for the Senate in Committee to vote it out. The Senate surely ought to take the responsibility of voting on the question whether a clause should remain in a Bill, or should be rejected. I think that, strictly speaking, I ought to say nothing as to the point raised in reference to what the procedure in Committee ought to be, since it is a matter for the Chairman to rule upon. But. perhaps, I may be permitted by the Chairman of the Committee to refer briefly to it. This Bill is undoubtedly one to impose dutiesof Customs. The fact - if it be a fact - that it contains a clause that it ought not to contain does not alter the character of the Bill. A question may arise as to whether there ought to be “requests or amendments made, and that, as I have said, is one with which the Chairman of Committees must deal. It seems to me quite clear, however, that, so far as the imposition of taxation is concerned, there ought to be requests. When we come to the clause to which exception is taken, if. it ought not to be in the Bill, it should be voted out If, on the other hand, it ought to be in - if, in the words of the Constitution, It properly deals with “ the imposition of taxation “ - there should be no question concerning the procedure on it. I regret that I cannot enter into a consideration of the very interesting point as to what ought to be the construction placed on the section of the Constitution, but I propose when we are in Committee, when I shall have a free hand to say something about it.
Question - That the word “ now “ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative..
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripper harvesters and drills manufactured in Australia are sold exceeds the prices hereunder set out he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule in respect of stripper harvesters, but so that the reduction shall not reduce the rate of duty below one-half the rate of duty imposed by this Act.
Senator. Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10.46]. - This clause has already been discussed at considerable length in connexion with the question of whether it is an excrescence on the Bill. I now propose to move an amendment with the object of insuring that it shall have some real effect. It is intended by this measure to impose duties of Customs which shall restrain, limit, or, it may be, altogether prohibit the introduction of harvesters into the Commonwealth. The protection given to the local manufacturers is to be given subject to a. penalty. It is provided that the Australian manufacturers who sell their machines at or under the prices which are specified, are to have the benefit of freedom from competition. If they do not sell at or under these prices, they are to be exposed to competition from abroad. That is the penalty, and it would be a very effective one if the provision in the Bill were of a workable character. The clause provides that if the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripperharvesters and drills manufactured in Australia are sold exceeds the prices set out, he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty. Now, what is meant by the cash prices at which the machines are sold? By whom are they to be sold, and how many are to be sold before the GovernorGeneral is to issue his proclamation? Is one stripper-harvester, or are all to be sold at prices in excess of those mentioned before the Governor-General is to take action. I believe in the principle embodied in the clause, so far as it goes. I agree that the users of the machines ought certainly not to be penalized by having to pay an increased price, thus multiplying the profits of the makers. But provision for this must be made in some definite form. It would be absolutely impossible to accomplish the object held in view by means of the provision now in the Bill. I think that the benefit proposed to be conferred upon the farmer ought not to be postponed until next year - until the off season, when none of these machines are sold. The reduced prices should be brought into operation at once. There would be no harm in making such a provision, because we have been told by honorable senators opposite that the machines are now being sold at the prices stipulated in the Bill.
Unless the Governor-General is satisfied that no stripper harvesters or drills manufactured in Australia are, after the passing of this Act, sold at cash prices exceeding the prices hereunder set out, he shall by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule, &c.
In order to test the feeling of the Committee in regard to my proposition, I move in the first instance -
That the word “ If,” line 1, be left out.
In .the event of that amendment being carried, I shall move the further amendment which I have suggested.
– The question is that the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by leaving out the word “ If,” in line 1.
– I moved an amendment, not a request.
– I must put the question in the form of a request, in pursuance of the President’s ruling.
– The President has given no ruling on the point. I wish it to be clearly understood that my desire is to put my proposition in the form of an amendment, not as a request.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Quite so ; but I must put it as a request.
– I desire, sir, to dissent from your ruling, and put my dissent in writing, as required by the standing order. My reason for taking this course is that we have reached a very serious stage in our proceedings. The clause which Senator Symon desires to amend in no way affects the import duties set out in the schedule. It does not provide for the imposition of duties, but enacts conditions in regard to the prices at which harvesters are to be sold. If the Committee consents to allow the proposed amendment to be put as a request, it admits that we have no power to amend a clause of this kind, and gives away one of the principal powers conferred upon us by the Constitution. To do so would, in my opinion, be to degrade the position of the Senate. In the early days of the Parliament, no one would have thought of taking such a step. The point is of such great importance that we should have a ruling from the President upon it. Had I considered that he had already clearly and definitely decided it, I should not have taken this step, but what he said was that he should not be called upon to rule upon a point which might arise in Committee.
– Surely this cannot be regarded as a request.
– The Chairman has ruled that the amendment, which is purely a verbal amendment, and in no way affects taxation, and is in no way governed by the sections of the Constitution which draw a clear distinction between our power to make and our power to request amendments, must be put in the form of a request.
In the Senate :
The Temporary Chairman of Committees. - Senator Symon moved an amendment in clause 4 of the Bill to leave outthe word “ If.” I put the question: “That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by leaving out the word ‘If.’” Senator Symon then stated that he had moved that the word be left out as an amendment, and not as a request. I said that I had decided to put the motion as a request. Senator Clemons thereupon raised a point of order, and afterwards handed me in writing the following formal dissent from my ruling : -
I dissent from the Chairman’s ruling that the amendment submitted by Senator Symon must be put in the form of a request.
I decided that the amendment should be put in the form of a request for the following reasons: - I listened with very great attention to the debate which was in progress a short time ago, and I came to the conclusion to which you’, sir, came, that I must regard the Bill as containing, in addition to the provisions for the imposition of duties, only a statement of conditions upon which the duties are to be imposed. I am of opinion that in this case the intention is to impose certain duties having regard to the price of the articles on which they are imposed. As you did not feel called upon to rule the Bill out of order,I felt bound to follow inyour footsteps. In my opinion, the Bill deals only with taxation, and provides that the taxation is to be imposed subject to certain conditions.
– There is only one aspect of the case to which I wish to refer. You, sir, have given a ruling which I in no way question, but it seems to me that should the point of order now taken be overruled, it will leave the Seriate open to any insidious attack, should the other branch of the Legislature at any time at tempt to encroach upon the rights of the Senate.
– I hope the Senate will understand that I did not give a ruling on the matter, but only indicated my opinion.
– I quite understand that. I had hoped that, from remarks which you might have made upon this clause, to discover some way in which the Senate could protect itself should Bills be sent up from another place incorrectly drafted. If the decision of the Temporary Chairman of Committees is upheld, it seems to me that the Senate will be absolutely powerless, and will be left without any means by which it can notify another place that it is prepared to resist the practice of tacking. It is immaterial to my argument whether this is, or is not, a tack, but if, at any time, another place does attach to a taxation Bill something foreign to the subject of taxation, what steps will the Senate be able to take in view of your decision not to interpret the Constitution, if it is not competent for honorable senators in Committee to take action to mark their dissent from the course followed in another place? What will the Senate be able to do to safeguard the rights conferred upon it under the Constitution? You have decided that it is not incumbent upon the President to interpret the Constitution, and to take notice of any Bills sent up from another place to which a foreign provision is tacked. It must, therefore, be left to honorable senators in Committee to take some action to inform another placeof the view we take with reference to the extraneous matter. I trust that if, in the circumstances, you feel called upon to support the ruling of the Temporary Chairman, you will, atthe same time, indicate some means by which the Senate will be able to mark its dissent from the course taken in another place.
– This is a question that is not new to me. I wrote a paper in reference to it, which, in print covers twelve foolscap pages, and which I laid on the table of the. Convention. It was, to a very considerable extent on the information contained in that paper that the method by which the Senate deals with Bills which are vaguely called “ Money Bills “ was founded. The paper to which I refer is entitled “ South Australia. Powers and Practices of the Houses of Parliament in reference to Money Bills.” In South Australia, there was a compact between the two Houses that the Legislative Council should not amend what are vaguely called “Money Bills,” “but that they should .make suggestions. It was on that practice that the provisions of the Constitution dealing with the method of procedure by the Senate in reference to suggestions or requests were founded. I wrote -
In practice between the two Houses, the Council has refrained from amending clauses to raise money or appropriate revenue in Bills which are not suggestion Bills except by way of suggestion - “ Suggestion Bills “ there means Bills which can only be amended by the Council byway of suggestion - but has amended in the ordinary manner clauses in admitted suggestion Bills, when such amendments do not raise money or appropriate revenue. In other words, instead of there being in the Council a distinct line of demarcation between Bills received from the House of -Assembly - on one side Bills which the Council cannot amend at all except by way of suggestion, and on the other Bills which the Council can amend in all parts in any manner - there is no line of demarcation at all, and al! parts of all Bills received from the House of Assembly which do not raise money or appropirate - revenue are amended in the ordinary manner, and all parts of all Bills which ra’ise money or appropriate revenue are amended by way of suggestion.
In this case I am forced to put an interpretation upon the Constitution, because the conduct of the business of the Senate demands that we should have the matter decided, otherwise we could not go on. The paragraphs I have just read throw a light on the subject. This is a Bill to impose duties of Customs, but it contains a clause - clause 4 - .which, according to my interpretation of the Constitution, which may or may not be right, it ought not to contain. It seems to me that section 55 of the Constitution, which provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, requires that the imposition of taxation, and perhaps some small details which relate to the imposition of taxation, are the only matters which ought to be contained in a measure of this nature. Now we have a clause which, under the guise of being a condition as to the imposition of the tax is really a clause to regulate the maximum prices to be paid for stripperharvesters. Is that a proper clause to insert in the Bill ? It does not appear to me that it is. And not being a clause to which the provisions of the Constitution, in respect ‘ of requests, apply, I think we ought to be able to amend it in the ordinary manner. That is a matter which is of very great importance, because the privileges and powers of the Senate may be challenged by the other House sending up Bills imposing taxation with! a tack to them. Section 55 of the Constitution was made purposely in order to protect the powers of the Senate, and I would ask honorable senators, no matter what they may think of the merits of this particular clause, to bear in mind that if they at once admit the principle of a tack - and this seems to be a tack - they will be placing themselves in a very unfortunate position. Ever since it was inaugurated, the Senate has struggled to maintain its proper powers and position : it has struggled against the Ministry and against the other House; and I ‘hope that honorable senators will view this matter from .a broad point of view, and agree that in respect of this clause amendments may be moved in the ordinary manner.
– May I ask you a question, sir?
– By agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, did not the Senate practically deside that it is a Bill to impose ‘Customs duties only ; and are we not brought face to face with the anomaly that we can amend one- clause, but have to make requests in respect of others?
– In South Australia the Legislative Council constantly made suggestions in respect of one part of a’ Bill, and amendments in the other parts.
– That practice is new to me, sir.
In Committee :
– Senator Symon proposes that unless the Governor-General is satisfied that no stripperharvesters or drills, as the case may be, are sold at prices exceeding those prescribed, the provisions of the clause shall apply, and the duty shall be reduced. That, I submit, would leave it in the power of any two evilly-disposed persons to frustrate the whole intention of the clause. Let us assume that 4.000 or 5.000 stripperharvesters are sold in Australia, and that it is proved that one stripper-harvester was sold at a price exceeding that prescribed. In such a case, the Governor-General could not be satisfied that no stripper-harvesters were sold in Australia because one had been sold.
– And they would fake very good care that several were sold.
– Does not that objection apply to the clause as it stands?
– There may be an objection to the clause as it stands, but we are now dealing with the amendment of Senator Symon.
– I am quite willing that my honorable friend should submit something better than I have proposed, so long as it makes the clause effective if it is to remain in the Bill.
– I am inclined to think that it would be extremely difficult to operate the clause as it stands. It seems to me that the intention of the clause is that the duties shall not operate if harvesters are being sold in the ordinary way of trade at more than the prices set out; that is, sold in an appreciable number, and not merely one or two.
– How many would the honorable senator call “ an appreciable number”?
– That would have to be left to the discretion of the Governor-General. If my honorable friend were administering the measure he would be able to discriminate between a sale that appeared to be instituted with an object, and a genuine sale. I agree that the clause would be difficult to work. I contend, however, that the amendment would be baneful to the last degree, because it would leave it in the power of any two evil-disposed persons to create a sale at a price which would render inoperative the intention of Parliament to give protection to this industry.
– Does not the Minister intend to make any reply?
– I am going to oppose the amendment.
– I never, met with a more extraordinary position than is created by the silence of the Minister on the present occasion. When Senator Symon was speaking, and was asked a question about clause 4, the Minister said that he knew no reason why it should be here.
– Nothing of the sort.
– In fact, he did not know it was in the Bill.
– I never said anything’ of the kind. It is a pure invention on the honorable senator’s part.
– I say that that is absolutely untrue. The statement that I invented what I have alleged is one that I strongly resent.
– Is it in order for the honorable senator to say that a remark of mine is absolutely untrue?
– Is it in order for the Minister to say that I invented a statement?
– Both honorable senators are out of order.
– I never made such a statement as Senator Millen has alleged. Of course, I withdraw the observation about his remark being an invention, but there must be a misunderstanding. I referred to clause 4 in my speech on the second reading.
– I was under the impression, and Hansard, sooner or later, will confirm what I say, that the Minister made the statement which I have alleged. I am content to submit my recollection to that test. Seeing that the clause is absolutely novel, so far as Australia is concerned, and seeing that we have an amendment before the Chair which is vital to it, the Committee has a right to expect from the Minister the common courtesy of an expression of opinion regarding it.
– I spoke on the’ clause oh the motion for the second reading, and pointed out that it was recommended by the Tariff Commission.
– The clause is inserted ostensibly to give an advantage to the farming community of Australia in return for the increased measure of protection given to the manufacturers of harvesters. But it will not secure that the manufacturers will sell to the farmers their implements according to the scale of charges here laid down. A more futile attempt to impose upon the credulity of the people of this country has never been perpetrated. The clause is put forward as evidence of the bond fides of the supporters of the Bill, and of their desire to shelter the consumer from any extortion which the manufacturer mav feel disposed to exercise towards him. But what happens? When Senator Symon moves .an amendment which will give effect to that provision, the Minister refuses it, though without it the clause must be inoperative.
The clause reads -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that the cash prices at which stripper-harvesters and drills manufactured in Australia are sold exceeds the prices hereunder “set out, he may by proclamation reduce the rate of duty specified in the schedule -
Senator Symon has very pertinently raised the question of whether only one harvester or all harvesters are to be sold at those prices. What is to prevent a number of manufacturers; from combining to establish a small factory and turning out a certain number of machines at the scheduled prices, whilst others - secure from foreign competition - are demanding a higher price for their harvesters?
– We should hear of it very quickly.
– I venture to say that if anybody approached the GovernorGeneral and said, “ Mr. McKay and other manufacturers are selling machines above the scheduled prices, and we ask you to issue a proclamation reducing the Customs duties,” perfervid appeals would be immediately made in the press to maintain the existing duties in order to protect the one or two small factories which were selling the machines at the scheduled prices.
– The honorable senator is reflecting on the next Parliament.
– I will reflect upon this Parliament if it will help the Minister. If half the manufacturers were charging the scheduled prices for their machines, and the other half were selling at higher prices, would the Governor-General issue a proclamation reducing the duty?
– Of course he would.
– Then a more unjust act could never be perpetrated. If he issued his proclamation, an absolute injustice would be done to those manufacturers who were selling in accordance with the terms of the Bill. It will not be possible to hold the scales of justice evenly unless we adopt some amendment like that submitted by Senator Symon. But what Senator Trenwith is fighting for is a clause through which it will be easy for Mr. McKay and the larger manufacturers to drive the proverbial coach and four.
– Senator Trenwith is “on the job.”
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the ex pression used by Senator Neild is one that ought to be employed ? He has referred to the whole business in an offensive way as a “ job.” I object to such a reference to myself.
– I think that the interjection is a very usual one, but no doubt, if Senator Trenwith takes exception to it, Senator Neild will withdraw it.
– I did not use the expression offensively, but in the most commonplace way. I merely meant to convey that Senator Trenwith was “on the job” to get the Bill through. I did not for a moment suggest that he was connected with the ugly surroundings of this proposal in any shape or form.
– I contend that upon this clause the Committee are entitled to some information from the Minister. If he is determined! that he will offer no information concerning the conditions under which the Governor-General will be advised to issue his proclamation I can only assume that he accepts my version of the matter that the clause is merely intended as a placard, and that practical effect cannot be given to it. If practical effect could be given to it, there would be no objection on the part of the Minister to explain how. He can only remain silent for the best of all reasons, namely, that he recognises that it is impossible to say what would happen under any set of conditions that are likely to arise. It is quite obvious that unless the manufacturers agree to sell at the prices mentioned in this schedule the clause cannot be put into operation. If they do so agree, they will be- liable to a prosecution under the Australian Industries Preservation Act for having entered into a combination for the purpose of fixing prices.
– If that Act be of any value whatever this clause is absolutely unnecessary.
– But Senator Millen’ s point is that we are now asked to enact something which will force the manufacturers to combine.
– Exactly. In view of the utterances of Senator Trenwith and of the declaration of policy by the Minister, one would have expected that the former would have been the first to hail with pleasure the amendment of Senator Symon, which would give effect to a genuine proposal to protect the producers against the unjust exactions of the manufacturers.
– I always pay the very greatest attention to the remarks of Senator Symon. When he submitted this amendment I took down the words of it and endeavoured to understand what would be its effect. We are not lightning conductors in matters of this sort, and we should’ have been only too willing to agree to an amendment which would have assisted the passage of the Bill at the earliest possible moment. Senator Trenwith overheard some whispered conversation between myself and my colleague, and was under the impression that there was a likelihood of my supporting the amendment. I can assure the honorable senator that, before he commenced to speak, I had made up my mind that, whatever objections there might be to the clause as it stands, there were considerably more objections to it with the addition of the words proposed. If the amendment be carried, it will place the whole of the manufacturers at the mercy of any unprincipled man who chooses to sell a machine at a certain price.
– Could a bogus sale not be proved if forty-nine men were selling machines at £70 and one man sold a machine at£71 ?
– It is most difficult to prove a bogus sale; and there is no doubt that the amendment would place the whole of the manufacturers at the mercy of any one man. It would prove most unfair and unjust; and the Government intend to support the clause as it stands.
Senator Lt.Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [11.49]. - Ihad hoped that the Minister would explain how the clause as it stands would operate, but he has confined himself to attacking the proposal of Senator Symon. Evidently it was never intended that the clause should have any effect, because its operation is entirely permissive. The proposal is to increase the duty on harvesters with no intention to reduce that duty until Parliament insists by some other legislation. As I say, the whole provision is permissive, and an absolute fraud. It is trifling with the Senate and the people to enact legislation which it is known cannot effect the purpose intruded. I have no doubt, however, that there is a majority prepared to swallow the clause so long as, on the face of it, there is apparent a spirit of fair play.
– I have been quiet all day; but now that honorable senators seem to think we shall be better here all night than athome, I am justified in taking part in the discussion, and enjoying the fun. Senator Gould has asked those who support the clause to justify their attitude. Clause 4 provides for certain duties under certain conditions, and we are asked who is to take action when those conditions are not observed. The clause distinctly sets forth who is to take action.
– But the conditions are not defined.
– The GovernorGeneral is to take action when the price of the machines goes beyond a certain point. This clause - and honorable senators opposite are aware of the fact - was inserted for the protection of the farmers and others who use these machines. The duty of the Government is to protect the producer, and whenever they see that the manufacturers of these implements are unduly raising prices they will be able to step in and reduce the duty by one- half .
– Will they make that reduction in the case of all manufacturers ?
– They will take action when they see that the primary producers are suffering owing to the action of the manufacturers in unduly inflating prices.
– That may be the intention of the clause, but it will not have that effect.
– The honorable senator is a representative of the farmers, and vet he is prepared to oppose a clause that has been designed to protect them.
– I am not prepared to agree to this clause.
– I have not observed any desire on the part of the honorable senator to assist the Government to pass any provision.
– I must ask the honorable senator to address himself to the question.
– I am doing what other honorable senators have done; I am addressing myself to the amendment when it pleases me. I am going to assist in keeping a House, and when I am out of order I shall be obliged to you, sir, for pulling me up.
. We are attempting by means of this clause to do that which is impossible - to regulate prices. Whilst I voted for the second reading of the Bill because it provides for an increase of duties with which I am in accord, Senator McGregor has rightly interpreted my attitude. I am totally opposed to this clause, because I believe that it is absolutely impossible to regulate prices. We do not even attempt to define what harvesters or strippers are. With the advance of science, what now constitutes a harvester may become a totally different piece of mechanism.
– The GovernorGeneral would then step in.
– He would have no power to do so. We are going to assume that these machines will not be improved and that the cost of manufacture some time hence will be the same as it is today. In other words, it is proposed to place on the statute-book a Bill to fix prices which must certainly vary. Senator Trenwith has moved an amendment showing that he has anticipated this very point. I. detest obstruction, but I shall assist honorable senators to reject this clause, and if I fail in that attempt, I shall feel justified in voting against the third reading of the Bill.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.2]. - I do not think there is any occasion for the extraordinary attitude taken up by Senator McGregor, who informed us that he was out for a row.
– Not for a row, but for fun.
– If the honorable senator is out for a row the rest of us are not, and his attitude is scarcely that which should be assumed by the leader of a party. Senator Trenwith has candidly confessed that this clause needs very great amendment.
– I have not made that confession.
– The honorable senator admits that it is imperfect, and would be difficult to administer. In moving my amendment, I said distinctly that my sole object was to insure that this provision, which is intended for the protection of the users of these machines, shall afford real protection, and not be a sham. I stated that I was prepared to accept any modification of my amendment that would more effectively carry out my object. I am not here for fun. My object is to secure something that will realize the expectation of the farmers that they will derive some benefit from the concessions granted to these manufacturers. I do not pledge honorable senators to vote for the amendment that I shall subsequently submit but I repeat that Senator Trenwith ought to vote for that which I have moved, in order to indicate his opinion that the clause as it stands will be difficult to administer, and should ask the Minister to re-cast it so that a real protection will be granted to the farmers. There is no doubt that these words make the clause absolutely unworkable. The Governor-General is empowered to reduce the duty by 50 per cent., but a condition is imposed which prevents him from doing anything at his own discretion. How is the Governor-General to satisfy himself that this condition has been complied with? Is he to issue his proclamation when he is satisfied that one stripper-harvester has been sold at a price in excess of that specified ? If that is what the provision means, it is open to exactly the same criticism that has been levelled against my amendment. I do not pretend that my proposal is a perfect one, but, at least, it is workable. It has been urged that some unprincipled person might sell a machine at a price in excess of that set out in the Bill, in order to bring about a reduction of the duty, but that assumes a fraudulent sale. If a proclamation were issued without sufficient warrant, the person aggrieved would have the right to appeal to the law. Courts. I would prefer that the clause should be amended so as to leave the Governor-General entirely free from any hampering conditions. That is to say, if at any time it is brought to the GovernorGeneral’s notice that a large proportion of the machines were being sold at prices in excess of those stipulated, he might reduce the rate of duty.
– Unless we assume a combination among the manufacturers of harvesting machinery, the clause cannot become operative. If all the manufacturers agreed upon one price, the clause would be of some value, but such a combination would be in contravention of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I would ask the Minister to carefully consider the fact that the clause provides that the GovernorGeneral shall be satisfied that the cash prices at which the machines “ are sold “ exceeds the prices specified before he reduces the rate of duty. If the GovernorGeneral found that fifty machines had been sold, could he issue his proclamation? If he proposed to do any such thing, would not the manufacturers represent that, although fifty strippers, perhaps, had been sold at excessive prices, there was not the slightest intention on their part to sell any more at the higher prices. Would the Governor-General, in the face of a definite promise that no further breach would take place, still reduce the duty. Honorable senators who are anxious that protection shall be given to our local manufacturers should pay very serious attention to this provision. If it were ascertained that a certain number of machines had been sold at prices in excess of those specified, the Government for the time being might decide that the dutv should be reduced. Do any of the protectionists desire that such a result should be brought about? Yet that is the most likely thing to happen. I think that if Senator Playford recognised that the clause as it stands will not effect his object he would endeavour to alter it. There are. of course, many criticisms to be offered to it besides that of Senator Symon. One of them is suggested by Senator Trenwith, who anticipates the possibilty of the price of raw material being increased, or some other alteration of trade conditions taking place, so as to absolutely prevent the profitable manufacture of the machines at the prices set forth.
Sitting suspended from 12.17 to 12.54. a.m. (Thursday).
– As I stated when speaking on the second reading, I am entirely in accord with the object sought to be achieved by clause 4, which, briefly stated, is to safeguard the interests of purchasers of agricultural implements, who, being prevented for the sake of the local manufacturers from obtaining machines from abroad, are compelled to purchase in this market. The difference of opinion amongst honorable senators is not, I think, as to the object of the clause, but as to the method by which it is sought to make it effective. The Tariff Commissioners evidently had in mind the same end as that of the framers of the clause, though they suggest a different way of arriving at it. In the three provisos which are set out on page 34 of their report, while recommending the remission or suspension of duties, if prices are raised above those ruling in Australia during 1905, they foresaw the possibility of pernicious influence being exercised if the decision of the matter were left to a Minister, and therefore proposed that the Governor-General should act in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and the House of Representatives,. No doubt they thought that the determination of Parliament, whatever might be its wisdom, would at least be come to in the full light of publicity, and would, therefore, be free from suspicion of malign influence. The clause, however, leaves the matter entirely in the hands of the Governor-General, which means the Administration of the day, and, in practice, the Minister of Trade and Customs, while we sometimes find that a Minister, instead of being the master, is the slave of his officers. Protests have frequently been made in this Chamber against legislation whose effect is to give to an Administration or a Minister the power to make laws. This is another instance of such legislation. Whilst professing to make a law, we are leaving it to a Minister to do so. That is one of the objectionable features of the clause. It may be contended, with some force, that nobody is less qualified than is a House of Parliament to give a judicial decision, and, no doubt, an objection to the proposals of the Commissioners is that Members of Parliament would vote on this question in accordance with the fiscal opinions whose expression secured their election. The alternative, however, is to leave the matter to a Minister, who may be very impressionable, and largely sympathetic, with the result that he may be disposed to take action, or to refrain from doing so, without closely examining the statements put before him by interested manufacturers. Experience has shown that, when undue power is left in the hands of a Minister, the door is opened, if not to corruption, to the operation of malign influence. It is not long since the present Minister of Trade and Customs took action in regard to the importation of harvesters, for which he was very strongly censured. He arbitrarily increased the valuation put upon imported machines for Customs purposes, and, for some mysterious reason, explainable only by the fact that the largest local manufacturers of similar machines had had an interview with him, did so without having followed the customary practice of the Department in addressing to the importers concerned a letter asking them to show cause why such action should not be taken. A little later, when the aggrieved importers sought redress at law, and moved for the appointment of a Commission to take evidence in Canada as to the actual cost price ofthe machines made there, the Government resisted that, and thus violated our ideas of. equity and fair play. It requires no great effort of the imagination to conceive that, under certain circumstances, and with certain individuals in a position of power, the worst elements of corruption such as has been associated with Tariff changes in America might assert themselves here, though I hope that that will never happen. Still, if we leave it absolutely to the Minister to say when the protection of the Customs laws shall be given or withheld, scandal must inevitably occur. Regarding both the proposition of the Tariff Commission and the provisions in the Bill as objectionable, I am sorry that the Government have not kept back the measure until they could formulate a workable scheme. As we are very near the end of the session, and much important business remains to be transacted, it may be impossible to do so now ; but I urge the seriousness of this matter, and I hope that Ministers will, with a view to properly securing the benefits aimed at, pay considerable attention to the objections which I have outlined.
Question- That the word “ If,” proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [1.10]. - I hope that the Committee will not agree to this clause. . I do not propose to say a word about the objects of the clause, with which Ientirely sympathize. I ask the Committee to strike out the clause for reasons which have nothing to do with its objects. As I have said before, section 55 of the Constitution was inserted for the purpose of conserving the powers and position of the Senate, and to prevent any tack being made on a taxation Bill sent up to the Senate. We are now dealingwith what in my opinion as a senator is a tack. The objects of this clause have nothing whatever to do with the imposition of taxation. Those objects may be good or bad, but we should not in this matter take into consideration the particular Bill or the particular clause. We should consider what the ultimate effect might be of permitting a tack to be made on a Bill such as this. I hope that in this instance I shall have the assistance of the Government in striking out the clause, because I find that Ministers themselves opposed a similar clause, which was moved as an amendment to the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill, and on the ground that it was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
That it be a request to the House of Representatives to add the following proviso to the clause : - “ Provided further, That if the distillers -
do not after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act pay their employes a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of forty-eight hours; or
employ more than a due proportion of boys to the men engaged in the industry ; the Governor-General may, in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Representatives, impose an additional Excise duty of one shilling per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the Schedule.”
I say that is very similar to the clause with which we are now dealing, lt was inserted in the Tariff Bill with an object foreign to the imposition of the duties - to obtain for the employes engaged in the industry a certain rate of wages - and in my opinion its insertion was not warranted by the provisions of section. 55 of the Constitution. It does not deal with the imposition of duties, and the Government opposed it on that ground. How could Ministers oppose the insertion of that clause in that particular Bill on the ground that it ought not to be inserted because the Constitution in section 55 provides that no such clause can be inserted in a Bill dealing with the imposition of duties, and now agree to the retention of this clause in the Bill before the Committee. The matter has been debated at considerable length, and I do not wish to repeat the arguments that have teen adduced, but I ask honorable senators to consider the question from the constitutional point of view - from the point of view that the Senate should uphold its own rights, powers, and privileges - and to subordinate the particular issue and the particular question raised, by the clause itself.
– The views expressed by Senator Baker in this matter are entirely mv own views, with this great difference, that I cannot believe that a matter of this kind is ever going to be determined by a politically divided body such1 as this Committee or the Senate is. It seems to me that a matter involving the rights and privileges of the Senate must be asserted by the one officer of the .Senate, who, from his position, is enabled to view all such questions impartially and free from party influence. I hold that it is upon his shoulders that the duty rests of protecting the rights and privileges of the Senate. We know that it is a common practice in the State Legislatures that, where a Bill passing between the two Houses is believed to trespass upon the rights of the House receiving it, the Presiding Officer draws immediate attention to it, and if the objection is at all vital, that settles the fate of the particular measure. The same thing has happened in this Chamber. I recollect a measure coming from another place, which, in the opinion of the President, disclosed some defect. He at once drew attention to it, and action was taken to mark the sense of disapproval of the Senate upon it If I understand Senator Baker’s position now, he admits that this Bill is wrongly here, and contains a tack, but appeals to the Committee to determine the matter. I have not the honorable and learned senator’s parliamentary experience, but I say that it is idle to look for a judicial determination of such a question to a tribunal such as this, which is sharply divided by political feeling, and the judgment of whose members may be warped by the merits or demerits of the particular measure before them or by the fact that they will be called upon to give a vote which may affect the fortunes if not the fate of a Government. I say with great regret that if it is to be recognised by the Senate that it is not the duty of our responsible officer to determine such matters, it is hopeless to expect the Senate or a Committee of the Senate to do it, and we may once and for all say good-by to those powers and privileges which bv express provision of the Constitution have been supposed to be conferred upon us.
– Then I should have to construe the Constitution.
– I cannot help noticing the appeal which Senator Baker has made to the Government and to honorable senators not to dc* something now which is inconsistent wilh, what they did a short time ago. Any member of the Committee who is capable of understanding the various statements made by Senator Baker in the Committee, and from the Chair, must come to the conclusion that there is no one who could find less justification than he for asking the Ministry or any one else to be consistent. When we asked the President for a ruling from the Chair, which would have given finality to the proceedings, he told us that this clause was in order so far as he could rule it in order.
– I did not say anything of the sort. I said I Wouk not construe the Constitution.
-I shall put it the other way. because I do not wish to report’ Senator Baker with the slightest degreeof inaccuracy. He told us, as President, that he could not rule the clause out of order. As Senator Baker he now appeals to the Committee to strike out Ihe clause and for what reason ? . Because in his opinion it is utterly wrong,. ami cannot be constitutionally defended. His two utterances have been absolutely contradictory, and if I look for an explanation all I can find is that as President the honorable and learned senator said he could not officially interpret the Constitution. Why ? Was it because this point is in any way difficult? Was it because it would cost him one moment’s more thought to interpret the Constitution as it affects this particular clause than it cost him to interpret the Constitution when he was called upon to decide whether Bills proposing an alteration of the Constitution required to be passed by an absolute majority of the Senate? I am dealing with a statement made by Senator Baker in Committee. We are in a most unfortunate position with regard to this question of requests and amendments. I am not divulging what is in the least degree private when I say that owing to the ruling which has been given it is absolutely dangerous now to effect any alteration in this clause ; although I am satisfied that even Senator Playford would be glad if some opportunity were afforded to put it into better shape. It is most unfortunate that we should have had about three different rulings from Senator Baker tonight. I honestly wish that I had never challenged the Chairman’s ruling. I wish I had left it to some one else to appeal to the President. I am utterly tired of endeavouring to do my small part to maintain the rights and privileges of the Senate when I find that as the only result we are rendered powerless and impotent owing to contradictory decisions. It is left to us only to indicate some sort of amendment which would affect one thing in this clause, and that is its sincerity. If I could do anything to bring that about I should be glad to do it.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [1.30]. - I do not intend to bandy words with Senior Clemons. The honorable and learned senator was most unfair.
– I had no wish to be unfair.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [1.30]. - I did not detect anything which was unfair in the comments of Senator Clemons, although I think that some of them were severe. I regret the turn which matters have taken in connexion with this highly-important constitutional question. The Constitution says that “ laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only.” We have to determine whether the clause before the Committee violates those plain words. The President was asked to rule on the point whether the Bill dealt with matters other than duties of Customs, and if so, whether that amounted to an infringement of section 55 of the Constitution. The only debatable point which he had to decide was as to whether or not the clause was a tack. He did not rule on the point because he said that it involved an interpretation of the Constitution. But since then, in his capacity as a senator, he has told us that it involves matters other than duties of Customs. If, as President, he did not feel himself at liberty to interpret the Constitution - and I cannot see where that question came in - then the Senate is equally in the position of not being called upon to interpret it. My regret is that, in his capacity as a senator, he should seek to ask the Committee to do that which he declared that he, as President, cannot do, and which I hold the Senate cannot do. He spoke, in the first instance, as the voice of the Senate. It can always disagree with any ruling he gives, but it is he, and he alone, to whom we look in the first instance for a ruling. He occupies a judicial and impartial position. He can give a ruling on a point of this kind with safety and propriety ; but the Senate cannot. It is divided by party feeling, and therefore it is idle to askthe majority on the other side to stultify itself by throwing out the clause. How can we expect Ministers who. when on a former occasion they resisted a provision of this kind, were beaten, to listen to an appeal when they know that they will notbe beaten ?
– They were sticking to the Bill then as they are doing now.
– The honorable senator has missed the point of the appeal which has been made by Senator Baker to the Ministers. The reason they gave for resisting the amendment was that it was a violation of section 55 of the Constitution. I should welcome my honorable friend’s yielding to the appeal but I could not expect them to do such a silly thing. If the Ministry, with a majority at their back did not seek to carry through the Bill with clause 4 in it they would inspire the greatest possible contempt. In the interests of the Senate, I regret the turn which affairs have taken. I protest against this incident being regarded as a precedent. No President ought to shrink from doing what he is afterwards willing to appeal to the Senate to do, and that is to interpret the Constitution. For these reasons I am unable, with great regret, to join in resisting the clause. If the Government yield, I am not prepared to go with them in asking the Senate to take upon itself the duty winch properly devolves upon the President, of declaring that the clause is an infringement of section 55, and ruling it, so to speak, out of order by a majority.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [1.40]. - I very much regret the turn which affairs have taken, but, unlike Senator Symon, I do not feel that I would not be justified in voting against the clause. Whatever reasons may have influenced the President in dealing with the point of order as he did ought not to influence honorable senators in dealing with the clause when it is put to them that it is a violation of section 55 of the Constitution. I have always held that the Bill is out of order, because the clause is a tack. This, however, is not the time for reviewing the decision of the President. The reasons which will actuate honorable senators in dealing with the clause would probably have influenced their judgment if the ruling had been submitted to them for review. It would have been only natural, I think, for the Senate to confirm the decision which certain honorable senators considered did not accord with the true construction of section 55 of the Constitution. We all know that Senator Baker has made himself acquainted with the reasons for the provisions of the Constitution. He can construe its provisions, I take it, as well as any member of the Senate. When he was freed from the responsibility of his position as President, he pointed out the objection which he has to the clause, and thus confirmed the interpretation which some honorable senators put on section 55 when the point of order was discussed. If it is now thought that he is right in his view that the clause is an infringement of that section, it would be wise for the Government and their supporters to allow it to be negatived, and thus avoid the creation of an undesirable precedent. Already one or two cases have been cited to us as precedents for taking a certain line of action, and it would not be fair to call upon us to create another precedent of the kind. It would be a great mistake for honorable senators, merely for the sake of gaining an advantage in connexion with this Bill, to take a step which would prejudice the position of the Senate. When it first met, there was a strong determination expressed bv honorable senators generally that they would maintain the principles of the Constitution, and insist upon a due recognition of the rights and privileges of the Senate. I do not believe that there is one honorable senator who is willing to barter away its rights. We all have a duty to perform to the States, and it cannot be discharged properly if we surrender any right or privilege of the Senate. I trust that the Committee will see its way to negative the clause, which, from the constitutional stand-point, I regard as most obnoxious. No doubt we are all agreed that the local manufacturers of stripper-harvesters should not be able to charge exorbitant rates to the farmers, under cover of any Federal legislation. If we could deal’ with the clause on its merits, a great deal could be said in its favour ; but it is quite unworkable, and if it were passed it would convey, not only to the other House, but to the general public, the impression that, apparently, we are unmindful of the great trust reposed in our hands.
– Being a layman, I have hesitated to speak on the constitutional question. I can well understand that Senator Baker, as President, feels it is not his duty to construe the Constitution ; but, in Commit- ‘ tee on the Bill, he has an equal right with any honorable senator to express his personal opinion. If I am not mistaken, he mentioned in the Chair that, in Committee, he would probably have some remarks to offer to us, no doubt referring to an expression of his private opinion. I am sorry that he has been misunderstood by some honorable senators. I believe that he only did his duty as President in declining, to say what the Constitution meant. I hope that the clause will be allowed to go to a division.
– The point which is now urged as a reason for opposing the clause is that it is inconsistent with the Constitution. Senator Baker has urged the point upon us, and a good’ deal of adverse criticism has been hurled at him because he took up a different position when he discharged his duty as President. To refuse to take the responsibility of stopping discussion on the point by an authoritative act is a very different thing from expressing his personal opinion, which he has admitted may be wrong. For that reason, I think that the criticism of his action has been somewhat unfair. I had the honour to take part in creating the Constitution - a very humble one, I admit, among so many men of transcendent ability. But I feel a great deal of pride in the Constitution, and should be very loth indeed, without an amendment of it formally made, to submit to an abrogation of any part of it. But I do not see that what is proposed is in any sense a tack. This is aBill dealing with Customs duties only. It is a MoneyBill. An attempt to amend it is, in my opinion, contrary to the powers of the Senate, and would lead to a constitutional conflict which ought not to occur in this connexion.
– I direct the attention of the Government to the great responsibility they are assuming in proceeding with the Bill after having heard the utterances of Senator Baker. It is true that his opinion was not expressed in his official capacity as President, but I cannot distinguish between the words uttered by Senator Baker from the Chair and those uttered by him when standing 3 feet away from his official seat.
– Cannot the honorable senator see the difference between an opinion expressed by a Judge on the footpath and an opinion expressed by him on the Bench?
– I can understand the difference between the Pope pronouncing an infallible utterance ex cathedra and expressing an opinion under different circumstances ; but I cannot see a parallel. The opinion that Senator Baker has expressed is that the Bill is unconstitutional.
– The Government will take the responsibility.
– It is a great responsibility under the circumstances. However, it is for the Government to assume it.
Question - That clause 4 stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request or amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. this day.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am very loth to occupy the time of the Senate at this hour, but I feel that it is necessary to say a few words in order to conserve my rights. I wish to draw your attention, sir, to entries in the Journals of the Senate with regard to the proceedings last Friday in connexion with the proposed call of the Senate. I think that you will find that they are not quite accurate. I will mention three points in which I think corrections should be made. One is the statement that the Minister had leave to amend his motion; another that a division was called for ; and the third that one honorable senator only appeared as voting with the ayes. As a matter of fact there were no senators on that side. The matter affects me to a certain extent, because the Journals would appear to read as though I was the senator referred to as being the one “aye,” whereas there was actually none. I only saw the Journals yesterday, and I forebore to draw your attention to these inaccuracies until I had seen the Hansard report. I have seen since the proof report of Hansard, and I find that it is quite accurate in every respect.
– I will look into the matters referred to by the honorable senator and see that corrections are made. I am very much astonished to find that the Journals are not correct.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.58 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061003_senate_2_35/>.