3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers-
Public Service Act1902. -Amendment of Regulation 104. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 115.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Sandy Bay,
Hobart : Defence Purposes. -Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Report presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Acting Clerk.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– It is mentioned in the report that several papers were in print when tabled. . It seems to be unnecessary that such papers should be referred to the Printing Committee, and that they should be put to the trouble of taking cognizance of them. All regulationswhich are made under a Statute have to be printed and tabled. In my opinion, there should be no necessity for the Printing Committee to take any cognizance of papers which are in print when tabled. . It would lighten their labours, and reduce the size of their reports, which are necessarily lengthy and costly to print, if that course were taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is it a fact that in Adelaide, in the Telegraph Construction Branch, painting is being done by glut hands at 7s. per day (painters’ wages being 9s.), and that at Port Adelaide, similar work is being done by linesmen, who receive a lower rate of pay than painters? If so, what is the reason ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible. General instructions have already been issued that the current rate of wages is to be paid in all such cases.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– ‘ The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That a return be prepared and laid on the table of the Senate, snowing the names and localities of all registered growers of tobacco leaf for cigars and the acreage of each grower’s cultivation.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th November, vide page 5600).
Clause 3 (Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act).
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.40]. - If I may be permitted, sir, I desire to make a reference to the amendment which was made yesterday in clause 2 of this Bill. In the new subclause 7, the use of the word “ statements!” which might import more than the Committee intended, should be limited to only the facts and documents stated in the petition.
– I promised to recommit the clause, with a view to the further consideration of the amendment referred to, which was hastily drawn to meet the wish of the Senate. I find that it will be necessary, at the proper time, to make some verbal alterations in it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Part XVI. of the principal Act is amended by adding ‘ at the end thereof the following heading and sections -
Division2. - Qualifications and Vacancies. 206AA. Any question respecting the qualifica tion of a senator or of a member of the House of Representatives or respecting a vacancy in either House of the Parliament may be referred by resolution to the Court of Disputed returns by the House in which the question arises and the Court of Disputed Returns shall thereupon have jurisdiction to hear and determine the question.
– I desire to be quite clear as to the meaning of this clause. According to my reading of it, any case such as that of Senator O’Loghlin, or any case of qualification, as set out in section 44 of the Constitution, could be. brought before the Senate, when it might evoke a long political discussion, perhaps, on its merits. I desire to know whether or not it will be possible for any case of the kind to come before the Senate in the future, because, if so, I intend to ask the Committee to negative the clause. We have had sufficient evidence to convince us that it is unseemly and undesirable to have a system whereby an appeal or a petition may be decided ‘according to the political leanings of the members of a Committee of the Senate.
I desire to prevent, by means of this Bill, the recurrence in this Chamber of what has happened here lately.
– That is already provided for by clause 5, which includes a “choice” by a State Parliament in the definition of “ election “ in the Electoral Act. That will give the Court jurisdiction over- such cases.
– According to Senator Symon’s explanation, cases of thai kind would go to the High Court without the Senate’s consent being first required. But under this clause several kinds of disqualification, such as those under section 44 of the Constitution, would come under the special purview of the Senate. Is it not possible that party spirit or political bias may be introduced in the Senate in future in. the discussion of matters of that kind? There may be sufficient room for differences of opinion in a case where a senator is disqualified on account of bankruptcy, or for having sworn allegiance to a foreign power, to warrant a serious political difficulty.
– Will not the issue be a matter of fact?
– It is questionable whether in all cases the facts will be sufficiently clear to prevent sides being taken. If the case is simply a question of fact, which gives no room for the introduction of party’ spirit, why not refer it to the High Court direct? I understand that the object of wording this clause in this way is to avoid the expense of referring to the High Court any case which the Senate can very well deal with when the facts are plain. But if the facts are plain, why should not such ai simple case go automatically to the High Court, in order to prevent the repetition in a future Senate of what has occurred here recently ? If I do not ‘obtain a satisfactory explanation, I shall move to amend the clause so as to provide that all cases of disputed returns or qualifications shall be referred to the High Court, without coming before the Senate.
– Whatever the honorable senator moves,’ is sure to be done.
– I do not think that assertion is justifiable. I have moved unsuccessfully on several occasions since I have been a member of the Senate. I shall vote fo’r any amendment that will remove from the sphere of action of the Senate all cases in the discussion of which party spirit could be introduced.
– By clause s, all questions analogous to that which has been brought before the Senate by Mr. Vardon’-s petition - all those arising under section 15 of the Constitution - are to go automatically to the Court of Disputed Returns. According to section 192 of the Electoral Act - “ The validity of any election or return may be disputed by petition addressed to the Court of Disputed Returns and not otherwise.” Many honorable senators’ were of opinion that all questions of ‘ ‘ choice ‘ ‘ under section 1 5 of the Constitution, were comprehended within the terms of section 192 of the Electoral Act, but it turns out that that is not so, and the object of the Bill is to declare that a “ choice “ under section 15 of the Constitution shall be regarded as an “ election.” By that means it will come under the terms of part XVI. of the Electoral Act and go automatically to the Court of Disputed Returns in the same way as any disputed popular election would go. In this clause, however, quite a different class ot cases, arising under sections 34, 44, and 45 of the Constitution, are dealt with. It provides machinery by which it wilt be ‘ competent for the Senate at any time, by the mere passage of a resolution, to. refer those cases to the Court of Disputed Returns. The reason that provision is included in the Bill is that there are a number of cases where it must be obvious to the Senate, beyond all dispute”, that the disqualification does exist - such as that a man has become insolvent, or is an undischarged bankrupt, or has corruptly received pecuniary remuneration for his services in regard to some particular matter in Parliament, or has committed a crime. It would be unwise to adopt the cumbrous machinery of forwarding cases of that kind to the High Court. - The presentation of a certificate of a man’s insolvency or of his conviction of a crime would establish the facts beyond dispute. The machinery is provided, however, so that if any question of law, or indeed of fact, is in dispute, it will be competent for the Senate, by the mere passage of a resolution, to forward the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– It might take some; time to pass that resolution.
– That is quite true. I recognise that this is essentially a matter for the Senate itself. If the Senate considers that all cases of disqualification, no matter how simple, should go automatically to the High Court, it will be necessary to amend proposed new section 206AA by substituting for the words “may be referred by resolution,” the words. “ shall be referred.” If that is the wish of the Committee, it- can be done. It is not a matter over which there can be any strong feeling. The Government submitted in this clause what they thought to be the more sensible course. But if honorable senators wish to rid themselves of any Possible dealings with questions arising under sections 34, 44, and 45 of the Constitution, they can do so in the way I have indicated.
– That is what we are doing under the Bill.
– The Senate has_ resolved that Senator O’Loghlin’s case shall be referred to the High. Court, and clause 5 of the Bill provides that all similar cases, under section 15 of the Constitution, shall gp automatically to the High Court without any interference on the part of the Senate. But this clause deals with the different class of case which I have already described, and which in many instances we think it would not be worth while to trouble the High Court about.. I submit that the Government have suggested the right course in the terms of the clause.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.57]. - We are indebted to Senator Lynch for raising these two questions. I am sure that he will be satisfied, as to the first, with the explanation of the Vice-Pesident of the Executive Council, who called attention to section 192 of the Electoral Act, which confers upon the Court of Disputed Returns its jurisdiction. The inability of the Court of Disputed Returns to deal with such a case as that with which, the Senate has recently been concerned is . due to the circumstance that a “choice” under section 15 of the Constitution is not an “election or return” within, the meaning of section 192 of the Electoral Act. The Government remedy that defect by declaring, by clause 5 of this Bill, that such, a “ choice “ shall be deemed to be an “ election “ within the meaning of that section. That disposes of the first point raised by Senator Lynch. As to the other point, I should have preferred that these clauses should not be in this Bill at all at present, because they import into the Bill matters affecting the other branch of the Legislature, which may very rightly say that it would prefer to have matters regarding disqualification dealt with in a consolidating Electoral Bill. But if they are to be dealt with, I see no reason, why instead of its being left discretionary, cases pf disqualification should not all go to the High Court in the event of dispute. There may be, as Senator Best says, many cases in which the mere production of a certificate of a man’s insolvency or conviction of a crime - if such a thing were possible in the case of a member of either branch of the Legislature - would probably end the matter, and it would mean unnecessary expense and delay, to refer a case of that kind to “the High Court or any other tribunal. All that would be necessary would be the production of the certificate and a resolution of the Senate.
– The High Court also might be away in a distant part of Australia, and that might cause delay.’ .
– I think Senator Lynch’s view might be met if we provided that these cases should be referred to the Court “ in the event of dispute.” To put extreme cases, where a certificate was produced of insolvency, or of conviction for an offence, it might be contended that the certificate was a forgery. The objection raised might be that . the senator had taken an oath of allegiance to a foreign power, and the person charged might say, and should be allowed to say, if necessary : “ I have not taken an oath of allegiance to any foreign power. That is a fiction.” In the event of dispute in such cases, we could provide that they should at once be referred to the High Court. If it is left to the discretion of the Senate where there is any dispute, to say whether the case shall be referred by resolution to the High Court, we shall have the same difficulty arising as to the influence of party feeling.
Senator Mulcahy. Would it be necessary for the Senate to take action in the case of a man who has been declared to be a bankrupt? Would he not become unseated ipso facto?
– The honorable senator is quite right; he would become unseated ipso facto, to repeat the excellent Latin phrase which has been used, and really we have had so many of these legal terms introduced into our debates recently that I begin to feel that I am in an atmosphere to which I have been accustomed. I think that what is desired would be met if the proposed new section 206 aa were made to read -
Any question respecting the qualification or disqualification of a senator or a member of the House of. Representatives, or respecting a vacancy in either House of the Parliament, shall, in the event of dispute, be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns.
It is only where there is a dispute that party bias or feeling could possibly arise, and such cases should be immediately removed to a tribunal where the operation of such an influence would not be possible.
Senator Major O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.5]. - I think that we should leave a very debatable party matter in the handsof the Senate if we allowed the proposed new section 206 aa to pass as it stands. Members of the present Senate are undoubtedly of the opinion that any disputed matter should be referred to the High Court; but we are legislating here for the future, and it is possible that in the future a party having a majority in the Senate might be disposed to take advantage of their strength to decide one of these cases in the interests of the party. But is there no alternative? Might we not, instead of leaving the discretion in the hands of the Senate to refer the matter to the High Court, specify the simple cases, such as death, or insolvency, in connexion with which the question might be solved by the production of a certificate, and say that such cases should be decided by the Senate ?
– I think at this stage it would be quite impossible to do that.
– I am merely making a suggestion for consideration. I think that nearly all the matters dealt with in sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution might be decided by an official certificate of the facts.
– I direct the honorable senator’s attention to another section dealing with qualifications - section 16. I think it would not do to attempt to specify cases.
– I recognise that the matter is full of difficulty, but I think the proposed new section, as it stands, is dangerous if it is the intention of honorable senators, as I believe it is, that, at any rate, all disputed matters shall be taken out of the hands of the Senate” and referred to the High Court. If a disputed case were before the Senate, a party majority-
– Might not be so generous as the majority at present in the Senate.
– Quite so. They might take it into their hands to settle a disputed case on party lines,, instead of sending it to the High Court if the discretion provided for in the proposed new section is still left with the Senate.
.- I gather from the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he has no objection to the proposed new section being amended in the way suggested by Senator Lynch, and advocated by Senator Symon. Since I have been a member of the Senate, during over six years now, I have heard a general expression of opinion that all disputed matters, where the election of a senator is concerned, could be better decided by a judicial tribunal than by the Senate. When we were passing the original Electoral Act we thought we were providing for that, but we discovered that we did not do so effectively, and yesterday evening we remedied one of the most serious omissions. Now we have reached a stage at which we should ask ourselves whether we should not absolutely divest ourselves of every power to deal with these matters. I am inclined to say that as we are about it we should make a clean sweep this time, and transfer all matters of dispute, even of the most minor character, to the High Court.
– My difficulty is as to what is a matter of dispute, and whether it would not be better to decide at once to refer every case to the High Court.
– I do not think that it is necessary to go to that length. In the case, for instance, of the bankruptcy of a senator, if the presentation of a certificate of bankruptcy were not disputed, it would surely be unnecessary to refer such a case to the Court. The Vice-President of the Executive Council would hardly contend that a case of that kind could not be dealt with by the Senate?
– I have admitted that. That is the object of the proposed new section.
– Yes, but the proposed new section does more than that by leaving a discretion to the Senate in matters where there is no dispute, and also in matters where there is dispute. It draws no line between the two sets of cases. The suggestion made by Senator Symon would overcome the difficulty. If his suggestion were adopted, every case in which there was a dispute would be referred to the proper legal tribunal, and where there was no dispute the matter would be settled by the Senate.
– In trying to do the right thing, we should be careful not to go too far. I can understand that some honorable senators are very anxious to have every matter in connexion with elections, where there is a possibility of a dispute, referred to the High Court. There is an obvious reason for that. But, on the other hand, there is also a reason why we should not be parties to imposing unnecessaryexpense upon any one who has run as a candidate for Parliament. Under section 34 of the Constitution it is provided that a member of the House of Representatives moist be of the full age of twenty-one years. I take it that if any question as to the age of a member arose a duly qualified copy of the register of the person’s birth, lodged with the Senate, would be sufficient.
– Is not the honorable senator aware of many cases where even in these days there has been considerable difficulty in obtaining proof of a person’s age?
– I do not see how we could go past a certificate of birth duly attested, but, of course, if any one called the certificate in question the matter could be referred to the High Court.
– Senator Lynch suggests that it should be so referred.
– It appears to me that we could not go past a certificate of birth duly attested unless it could be proved that the person whose seat was challenged was not the person referred to in the certificate of birth produced. Of course, such a contingency might arise. In any case, we should be careful not to impose unnecessary expense on persons whose qualifications are contested. In our anxiety to divest ourselves of all responsibility in connexion with these matters, we may possibly go too far. I do not see why a case of the age of a member, the fact whether he was an elector, or was a subject of the King, either born or naturalized, could not be dealt with by the Senate when sufficient evidence could be placed before honorable senators. Then, under section 44, we have the various disqualifications set out, and the first is a person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance to a foreign power. The facts in such a case ought to be easily ascertainable and could be submitted to the Senate. Then, again - “ Is attainted of treason.” Surely evidence on that matter could easily be obtained. Once more - “ Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.” There ought to be no difficulty about that.
– There is sometimes a wide difference of opinion on such questions in the Law Courts.
– It is the business of’ lawyers tomanufacture differences in connexion with every conceivable question. But we must try not to go too far. If we refer everything to the High Court; what will be the result? If a man’s position as a senator is disputed, even on the most trivial grounds, he will be dragged into the High Court, compelled to employ counsel, and be subjected to all the irritation and expense of a long law suit, whilst probably the grounds will be utterly trivial. We ought in these matters to be guided by common-sense. It is just as possible to go to extremes in the one direction as in the other. No senator is more anxious to purge the Senate of unseemly party conflicts over such matters than I am. But, while I have that object continually in view, I also recognise that it would be exceedingly hard if we were to subject candidates to what might possibly degenerate into a persecution.
– There is great danger of that.
– There is as much danger in the one direction as in the other. That is the reason why I think we ought to pause before we accept the clause as it stands, or Senator Lynch’s amendment. I think it is quite possible so to frame a clause as to cover almost every contingency, and provide that where proof positive is given the Senate’s decision shall be final. If there is reasonable cause for calling that proof in question, the election should be referred to the High Court. But who is to pay the expense?
– The man with the fairest case is bound to escape.
SenatorSTEWART.- That is all right in theory, but my experience is that the man with the longest purse usually comes off best in law cases. I see no reason for dragging a member of Parliament before the High Court, except on good cause shown. The High Court is very much more expensive than are the Supreme
Courts of the States. Only banisters of the highest standing are usually feed in connexion with such cases. Considerable expenditure on travelling might have to be incurred on account of witnesses. A senator might be subjected to so much expense that even if he succeeded in establishing his case he might be made a bankrupt, and in that event would lose his seat ; so that his latter end would be worse than the beginning. We ought to be exceedingly careful not to agree to an amendment which would throw senators absolutely and without any reservation into the whirlpool of the High Court.
– The Committee generally are desirous of sending every case of this kind in which there is a dispute to the High Court. But the question arises - How are we going todetermine what are cases in dispute? I take it that any case is in dispute if the Senate is not practically unanimous about it. If a question of age arises, there is a certificate, and I do not think there would be any difficulty about the Senate passing an unanimous resolution in Such a case. I suggest that the clause should be altered to provide that a question may be referred by unanimous resolution of the Senate to the High Court. If we adopted words conveying that idea, the effect would be to send cases about which there was a dispute straight away to the Court of Disputed Returns. If one senator dissented, that would constitute a dispute, but if the Senate was unanimous on the subject, I take it that there would be no dispute, and the Senate itself would deal with the matter. We could have no party feeling where we were all of one opinion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.22]. - I do not think that it would be right ifI did not at once mention that I think it is unwise to introduce the amendment which I suggested a few minutes ago, for this reason : We do not want to have a Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications any more. They have not such a Committee in the House of Representatives. We wish to have all cases of disputed elections referred to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– We should have to alter the Standing Orders.
– That is very easily done. For the moment, I was under the impression that if a certificate were presented to the Senate with a view of establishing the fact that produced the disqualification, that would be sufficient. But on reflection, I see that that is not what would happen. Some one would have to petition the Senate, pointing out the disqualification ; or a member of the Senate might move in the matter, which would be equivalent to a petition. The moment that took place, we should be obliged to refer the question of fact to the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications, in order to inquire into the facts. Once that was done, we should be plunged into the whole trouble that we wished to avoid. We should have a party question raised, because the Committee might, on the facts, arrive at a certain conclusion, and it would be perfectly competent for a party vote to reverse the decision and leave the person whose qualification was challenged in possession of the seat. For the moment, I thought that there might be two classes of cases. It is now perfectly plain to me that there can only be one, and that unless we make the clause absolute, as Senator Lynch has suggested, and refer every question respecting the qualifications of a senator to the High Court, we shall not achieve the object we all have in view.
– I do not know that there is any great objection to altering the word “ may “ into “ shall,” as suggested by Senator Lynch. At present we have to refer any dispute concerning an election to a special Committee of the Senate. We have no power to refer it elsewhere. The Bill that we are now discussing gives us power, if we think fit, to send any case to the Court of Disputed Returns. Ithink that that is all that is really necessary. Of course, there could be no dispute if the evidence was so clear to every senator that whatever was alleged in the petition was admitted.
– It would be a mistake to insert the words, “ If a dispute arises.” The clause ought either to remain as it stands, or else it should be amended as Senator Lynch suggests.
SenatorMcGREGOR.- That is what I am about to contend. If a senator is returned who is stated not to be twenty-one years of age, and he produces a certificate which shows that he is, there is no dispute. If the Senate is not satisfied, or if a few are not satisfied, there is a dispute straight away, which should undoubtedly go to the Court of Disputed Returns. We have not the power to send it to the Court at present. That is the very reason why the Bill has been introduced. We desire to remove such contentious cases from the Senate. On the other hand, if any question such as may be suggested by section 44 of the Constitution came before us, and the Senate was satisfied that there was nothing in the allegations, there would be nothing to send on to the Court.
– The respondent himself might dispute the allegation in order to extend the term of his office.
– It would be a dispute if a petitioner challenged the right of the person who had been elected on whatever grounds, because there would be at once a difference of opinion between the two. I do not think that it will make a great deal of difference whether we leave in the clause the word “ may “ or substitute “ shall.”
– Senator Lynch goes further, and proposes to strike out the words “may by resolution,” so that these cases would be automatically referred to the Court.
– I do not think it would be right to do that. The Senate is the proper body to send a case on if a dispute concerning it arises in the Senate. If a defeated candidate, or any one on his behalf, petitions the High Court, the case will not come before the Senate at all, as I understand it. But if a petition is sent to the Senate, and a dispute arises here, under this clause we shall have to send it to the tribunal to which it ought to go.
– How does the honorable senator define a dispute in the Senate -is it the act of one senator differing from thirty-five senators?
– Certainly that will be a dispute, and if it cannot Le settled in the Senate it will have to go to the Court. I believe that the clause will effect all that the Senate requires.
– If Senator Lynch will move the omission of the word “ may,” we can test the whole point on that question.
– I moveThat the word “may,” line 8, be left OUt with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall.”
If that amendment is agreed to, I intend to move the omission of the words “ by resolution.” I remind honorable senators that in the future the Senate, no matter how it may be constituted, will have to interpret this provision as it is printed.
It cannot dive into the pages of Hansard and ascertain what any senator said or what construction he put upon this clause. The provision will have to be read literally, and as it stands it will, in my opinion, leave sufficient room! for the Senate to discuss and decide a case according te* party bias. My object is to remove every case, large or small, from the political arena to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– I hope that the amendment will be carried. I would impress upon SenatorStewart that there- is a strong reason why an option should not be left to the Senate. He has quoted from the Constitution Act certain disqualifications which may arise. Let me take the disqualification of treason. I venture to think that there have been members of the Senate who regarded utterances of the honorable senator as treasonable.
– That could not be disputed, surely ?
– I know that at the time of the Boer War certain persons thought that Senator Stewart and others had given vent to treasonable utterances.
– There is no doubt about that.
– I make that reference in order to point out that a political body is more likely to be influenced by a passing wave of opinion than is a judicial body. If a question of that kind came before the High Court it would take the dry legal meaning of treason, and would not be influenced by a passing wave of public opinion. It must be borne in mind that a body elected by popular opinion is very susceptible to that influence, and therefore a passing wave of public opinion, at any time, might determine what was treason. A body like the Senate is really the worst body to determine a question of that kind. It should go automatically to the Court of Disputed Returns to be determined. Then let us take another disqualification, namely, the taking of an oath of allegiance to a foreign power. That is not a simple matter to prove. At one time the Consul for Japan occupied a seat in another -place. I am told that a consul for a foreign power has to take the oath of allegiance to . that poWer because certain information, and papers come into his possession which he is required not to disclose. Supposethat an honorable senator was consul for a foreign power. How would it be POS- sible for the Senate to determine whether he had taken the oath of allegiance to that power? Where could we find a record of the fact?
– In that case there would be a dispute, and it would be referred to the Court.
– We cannot ask a man to supply evidence to convict himself. The clause does not refer to a dispute, but to a question arising. A misconception has arisen, because Senator Symon has suggested an amendment.
– A question cannot arise without a dispute.
– A question arises when a petition is presented. A dispute originates outside the Senate. Until the petition is presented the Senate may be unanimous, but afterwards differences of opinion may arise. Amongst thirty-six men there will generally be a division of opinion.
– It does not require a petition in all cases. For instance, a senator may be absent for two months without leave.
– Then he may dispute the position.
– A question may arise when a charge of treason is laid against a senator and the Senate is asked to refer the matter to the Court. It may be a clear case of treason, but the views to which the accused senator has given vent may represent the views of the majority here for the time being and they may decline to refer the matter to the High Court. I want a question of that kind to be determined, not by a chance majority in the Senate, but by a judicial tribunal.
– In any case a majority can expel the senator.
– I do not think so.
– They would have to allege some reason.
– Yes; and they would do great violence to their consciences If they decided against the facts. But where the marginal line is very narrow, where there is a legitimate opening for a difference of opinion as to what is treason or allegiance to a foreign power, the majority as a rule will give the benefit of the doubt to themselves and to the man who is on their side. There is another point to be considered. Have honorable senators ever considered what is meant by the absence of a senator for two months? Does it mean absence from his last day’s attendance from the Senate or from the next possible meeting of the Senate? What it really means is arguable. I hope that for the sake of preventing these cases coming before the Senate again the Committee will agree to the amendment. Otherwise I am satisfied that a loophole will be left for such cases arising! here again. In all probability a charge of treason would not be laid against the senator except when there was great excitement on some question, and that would be the worst time for the Senate to deal with a case of that kind. The possibility of such cases arising furnishes a strong reason why we should not retain the power to deal with them.
– I am inclined to think that the amendment should be accepted. As you, sir, have just suggested, cases may arise which may involve not matters of. dispute but questions of qualification or disqualification, and these might be very contentious. For instance, it is provided in sub-section 2 of section 34 of the Constitution that a senator - must be a subject of the Queen, either natural born, or for at least 5 years naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom, or of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.
The interpretation of that provision might raise very contentious matters. I may mention that in one case of a disputed election petition it might be a very fine point of law to determine whether a man was or was not a natural born or naturalized subject.. One can imagine that a question of that kind would be highly contentious, and naturally the Senate would refer it to the Court. It is just as well, however, ‘ that we should provide for its automatic reference to that body. Then in section 44, which deals with disqualifications, there is an expression which apparently looks very simple, but which it is very difficult to determine, and which only a Court can properly determine. A person is incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator if he - has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth, otherwise than as a member, and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, consisting of more than twenty-five persons.
– That is another knotty point.
– Yes. I can remember a case which had to go to the Privy Council for an interpretation of words nearly equivalent to those words. The more I consider questions of qualification or disqualification, and questions which may arise, the more I think that it will be consistent with the resolution of the Senate, as well as probably in harmony with public opinion, if we refer the interpretation of all such statements to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– A difference amongst lawyers would furnish a good ground for a political difference.
– Exactly. Lawyers could raise questions which might accentuate political differences of opinion. The more I look at the clause in the light of legal knowledge and experience, the more it seems that Senator Lynch’s amendment will achieve what we all desire. Now that we have decided to place in the hands of. the High Court for decision every possible case of disputed election, it will be wise to refer to the Court also, without any limitations, all cases of qualification and disqualification. If the amendment is accepted, the clause should be made to cover questions both of qualifications and disqualifications. The right of a naturalized or natural-born subject to sit might arise under the word “qualification,” while the word “ disqualification “ would include a question of direct or indirect pecuniary interest, and so on.
– I do not feel that I can support the mandatory amendment proposed by Senator Lynch. All that is necessary is provided in the clause as it stands. If the amendment is agreed to, it will be mandatory to refer to the High Court a case where a man admitted that he was guilty of the offence charged against’ him, and so he might be involved in a large amount of costs in spite of his having admitted his guilt. It is not necessary for a case of that kind to go to the High Court. The question of treason which has been raised furnishes the strongest reason why the clause should be retained as it stands. The Senate should retain power to consider such a case, and to send it to the High Court if it thinks desirable. There might, at a particular time of great excitement, be a wave of public opinion in a certain direction, and the public might be prepared to adjudge a man guilty of treason on the spur of the moment. It has been suggested that the High Court would be a greater protection against such a wave of public opinion condemning a man than the Senate would, but I take exactly the opposite view.
– The words are “ attainted of treason,” which means that the man must have been found guilty of treason by a, Court.
– Even under the clause, the Senate itself would have no power to unseat a man for that reason. I know of no wave of public opinion that would affect this Chamber that would not equally affect the minds of the Judges.I know of no instance in the history of the world where the Judges have been more democratic, or given a more liberal interpretation of any Constitution, than have the Parliaments themselves. In a case such as I have mentioned, a very salutary delay would take place before a decision was arrived at, because, by the terms of the clause, the Senate could not unseat the man, but would have to pass a resolution referring the question to the High Court. There never will be a case of a wave of public opinion, where there will notbe found a few men with courage enough to create a debate in this Chamber. That debate would have a stimulating and sobering effect upon public opinion. The necessary delay entailed in getting a resolution carried in the Senate before the case was sent to the High Court would have a very good restraining effect upon public opinion, and also give an indication that there was really a sound dispute. On one occasion the Victorian Parliament, during a wave of excitement, yielded to public opinion that had been fomented by the press, and unseated a man. If the Victorian Parliament had had the power to refer, by resolution, a case of that kind to the Court, I believe that, after the debate and delay that would have been necessary, and the consequent sobering of public opinion, that member would never have been unseated. In cases of the kind, delay is necessary to give public opinion an opportunity to right itself, and to afford a better chance of absolute justice being done. In any case, I would rather trust the Senate, consisting of thirty-six members, than two individuals constituting a High Court.
Senator STEWART (Queensland) [3.51). - It appears to me, Mr. Chairman, that you were labouring under a misapprehension in the remarks which you made with regard to sub-section 2 of section 44 of the Constitution. It provides that any person who is attainted of treason shall be incapable of sitting as a senator. To be attainted of treason means to be convicted! of treason by a duly constituted Court. If a certificate from such a Court that a senator had been convicted of treason were lodged with the Senate, the Senate would have no alternative but to declare his seat vacant.
– If the senator disputed it, would not the question of identification arise?
– That appears to be an extraordinarily fine point. If Senator Trenwith had been tried by a Court, had appeared in the Court, and pleaded not guilty to a charge of treason, and had then been found guilty and sentenced, I do not see how he could successfully raise the plea of insufficient identification.
– Supposing some W. A. Trenwith had been convicted of treason, and a certificate to that effect was presented against Senator W. A. Trenwith. That would not be me.
– If the honorable senator disputed the assertion that he was the W. A Trenwith who was convicted, the matter could be referred to the High Court. If the honorable senator did not dispute the conviction, the matter could be settled at once by the Senate. Where no dispute arises that course could very well be taken.
– Is not that what the amendment will achieve?
– The amendment will achieve a great deal more: It will compel everything to go automatically to the High Court.
– Only when a dispute arises.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council said that if Senator Lynch’s amendment was carried all such cases would pass automatically to the High Court.
– That is so.
– But the suggestion was to add the words “if disputed,” if “ shall “ was substituted for “ may.”
– That amendment has never been moved. I would suggest that Senator Lynch” should accept it. ‘ If he does, my opposition to his amendment will disappear, because that will achieve what I desire.
Question - That the word “ may “ be, left out - resolved in the affirmative.
– Do the Government accept the amendment to insert the word “ shall “ ?
– The first amendment was put as a test. I stated that personally I was quite indif ferent upon the subject. It seems to be the generally expressed wish of the Senate that these cases should go automatically to the High Court, and therefore I see no objection to it.
– Every case?
– Several honorable senators objected to that. I was under the impression that the Government did not intend to accept the amendment, or I should have called for a division.
– I told the Senate frankly that it was for them to decide. No division was called for.
– It isquite obvious from the discussion that there is a majority in favour of the amendment.
Question- That the word “ shall “ be inserted - resolved in the affirmative.’
Amendment (by Senator Lynch) pro-: posed -
That the words “ by resolution,” line 9, be left out.
– If these words are left out. it will be necessary to insert the words “when disputed.” If there was no dispute, what could the Senate send on to the High Court?
– There is a little difficulty about the alteration of the clause, and I may find it necessary to reconsider it. It is proposed now, with the object of automatically referring these cases to the High Court, to leave out the words “by resolution.” A question arises within the Senate, and it may be necessary for the Senate to do something to get rid of it. That is a difficulty which must be met, and requires further consideration. Of course the proposed new section has been drawn on the assumption that the words proposed to be left out should remain a part of it, and if they are omitted, it may be necessary to substitute other machinery.
– Could we not provide that simple and obvious cases should be decided by the Senate?
– No. The question is: What are simple and obvious cases? If the words “ by resolution “ are left out, I shall have an opportunity to reconsider the matter, and it may be found necessary to recommitthe proposed new section to give effect to the wishes of honorable senators……
– Might I make the suggestion that the words “ thereupon be forwarded by the President or Clerk” should be inserted after the word “ shall.”
– I am much obliged to the Chairman for the suggestion, but I should like an opportunity to consider the necessary machinery in the event of the amendment being accepted.
Amendment agreed to.
– As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has suggested that it may be necessary to recommit the proposed new section, I suggest that the words “or disqualification” should be inserted after the word “ qualification.” I. take it that the word “qualification “ covers conditions precedent as well as subsequent to an election, which might raise an issue which it would be very proper to refer to the High Court. On the other hand, the word “ disqualification “ would seem to relate to matters subsequent to election, and to deal with a different set of conditions. I am guided in making the suggestion by the fact that the word “ qualification “ is used in the marginal note attached to one of the sections of the Constitution, whilst it has been thought necessary to use the word “disqualification “ in a marginal note attached to another of the sections.
– What the honorable senator suggests is already provided for. The - words used in the proposed new section are the words of the Constitution, and they cover “ qualification “ and “ vacancy,” whilst disputed returns, as the honorable senator is aware, are already provided for.
Senator- ST. LEDGER. - I thought it necessary- to direct attention to the matter for the sake of clearness.
– The honorable senator will see that,by section 45 of the Constitution, if a senator, or member of the House of Representatives, becomes subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in the Constitution, his place “ shall thereupon become vacant,” and the word “vacant” there covers all the disqualifications mentioned.
– I accept the honorable senator’s assurance.’ I see that he’ has given great care to the framing of the Bill, and I referred to” the desirability of introducing the words “or disqualification “ merely ‘ for the sake of securing greater accuracy.
– I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators to what they propose todo. Take, for instance, the case of an undischarged bankrupt. He is elected to Parliament, and takes his seat. Some one lodges a petition against him, on the ground that he is an undischarged bankrupt, and he admits the fact. If the Committee had not accepted the amendment, the Senate would have had power to deal with that matter without expenseor delay, but under the proposed new section, as amended, even if the individual petitioned against admits that he is an undischarged bankrupt, thecase must go to the High Court.
– Unless that is avoided! by the word “question.” Suppose there is no question about the case?
– Does not the Vice-President of the Executive Council see that immediately an objection is taken to a senator holding his seat a question arises? Under the proposed new section, as amended, such a case as I have referred to would have to be referred to the HighCourt.
– Where would the expense come in if the facts were admitted ?
– There would still! be expense. The petitioner could not take that risk, and he would have to be prepared to appear before the High Court with his counsel and witnesses, even if the person whose seat was challenged had told him previously that he intended to admit everything. The expense would have to be borne by the senator petitioned against, although he admitted the facts.
– No, he would have committed no offence, and should bear no costs.
– Who would have to bear the costs?
– The appellant, I take it.
– Why should he have to bear the costs, when he has merely called attention to a breach of the law?
– If a man were insolvent he could not bear the costs.
– He might be inquire a good position financially, and yet be an undischarged bankrupt. We had a case of the kind in Queensland only a few months ago. A man had become insolvent nearly twenty years ago, and failed to procure his discharge. He is now, I believe, in an independent financial position, and yet he lost his seat in Parliament, because he had neglected to procure his discharge. If he had ‘been elected to the Federal Parliament, under the proposed new section, as amended, he would be dragged before the High Court, and compelled to pay the expenses incurred by the petitioner, even although - as the man to whom I refer actually did in Queensland - he admitted the fact, made no appearance, and left the matter to go by default. What I am pleading for is that the Senate should retain the power to deal with such cases.
– I quite realize what the honorable senator says. That was my original’ object, and I shall see if, between now and to-morrow, I can suggest a clause which will cover cases of that kind.
– I am afraid the honorable senator has allowed the golden opportunity to pass. If a man admits that he is disqualified, why should we put him to the cost of appearing before the Court? If it is contended that, in such circumstances as I have related, the person whose seat is challenged would not have to bear the cost, why should we put the petitioner to the cost of going to the Court ; or, if the petitioner is not to bear the cost, why should we put the country to the expense involved? Does not Senator Lynch see now the difficulty in which -he is landed bytrying to do not just what is right, but something more.
– In the case the honorable senator has stated, where would be the extra expense in substituting the’ Court -of Disputed Returns for the Senate?
– If the Senate could deal with the matter, there would be no expense. Does the honorable senator mean to say that a case such as I have suggested could be referred to the Court without expense? There would, in the first instance, be the expense of setting up the Court of Disputed Returns. Then, as I have pointed out, the petitioner- would have to appear either in person or by counsel, and would require to have his witnesses within call to prove his case if necessary. However, it does not matter to me. I do not expect -that I shall ever have to go before a Court of Disputed Returns, and some one else will have to bear the expense.
– Senator Stewart has said that he does not think that he will ever be brought before the Court of Disputed Returns, and I wish to show him that if the proposed new section is passed as amended, there is a possibility even of that coming about. There is no question of a petition under the proposed section. It provides that if. a question of qualification arises, the matter shall be automatically referred to the. Court.
– Could a senator’s qualification be disputed except by petition ?
– Yes, a question might be raised by any member’ of the Senate under the proposed new section, and if it were passed as amended the matter would have to be referred to the High Court. I might get up in the Senate and say that Senator Stewart had been convicted of treason; that he was an undischarged bankrupt, or was undergoing a sentence. The question having been raised, there would be no possibility of doing other than send it to the High Court. Suppose that there is really nothing in the allegations - that the respondent is neither an undischarged bankrupt, nor- attainted of treason, nor disqualified on any of the other grounds enumerated in the Constitution. Nevertheless, the question having been raised, he would have to go to the High Court. If there was any expense he would have to pay it. There is no petition in question. There is no charge of any description, except that raised in the Senate. But as soon as the question is raised, if the clause is passed in its present form, it will have to go to the High Court. I agree with what Senator Lynch .desires, but an amendment will have to be made in the clause to carry out the intention properly.
. -Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council agree with what Senator McGregor Has said?
– Is it not desir-able to have a quorum present?
– There is a quorum present.
– Do the words of the proposed new section as it stands mean that a fellow member of the Senate may accuse a senator of -being subject to any disqualification under sections 34, 44, and 45 of the Constitution ; and, if that happened, would the matter have to be referred automatically to the High Court ?
– The raising of such a case as Senator McGregor has mentioned would instantly plunge the Sénate into a position of the very kind that we are trying to avoid. We should have one member of the Senate accusing another of being disqualified under the Constitution. That would provoke discussion in which party bias would be introduced. The debate would be conducted on party lines. That is the kind of thing we wish to obviate in future.
– I have already told the Committee that in my opinion the clause will require further consideration. There seemed to be a strong feeling that petitions and questions involving elections should be referred to the High Court.
– That meant petitions from outside.
– This is essentially a matter for the Committee to decide. The overwhelming opinion of honorable senators seemed to be that all such cases should be automatically referred, and consequently words were struck out of the clause. But, that having been done, I certainly do recognise difficulties. It will bemy duty between now and to-morrow to reconsider the clause carefully, and it will have to be recommitted, so as to take the necessary safeguards to avoid contingencies which might arise under it.
– It is not desired that a charge made by one honorable senator against another should be referred to the High Court.
– But if the clause is left in its present form that will be possible. The intention is that if a petition from outside is presented, thecase shall be referred to the High Court. It was never contemplated that a mere charge on the floor of the Senate against a senator should have such a result. Certainly I shall have to invite honorable senators to reconsider the provision on a subsequent occasion.
Proposed new section, as amended, agreed to.
Proposed new section 206bb agreed to.
Proposed new section 206cc -
The Court of Disputed Returns may allow any person who in the opinion of the Court is interested in the determination of any question referred to it under this part of this Act to be heard on the hearing of the reference, or may direct notice of the reference to be served on any person, and any person so allowed to be heard or so directed to be served shall bedeemed to be a party to the reference.
Senator ST. LEDGER . (Queensland) the Executive Council that the word elector “ should be substituted for the word “ person “ in this proposed new section.
– Surely that is a questions which might safely be left to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– “ A person” need not necessarily be on the rolls at all.
– The honorable senator1 means a person entitled to be an elector. A man might be entitled, although his name might be left off the roll.
– The word “ person “ is very wide. We might make the clause read “any person enrolled or entitled to be enrolled.” The foundation of such a petition as is contemplated is that the person petitioning is not properly represented. Of course the responsibility is to a great extent on the shoulders of the Vice-President -of the Executive Council.
– The honorable senator will see that the clause says “ any person who, in the opinion of the Court.” Surely the High Court may be left to decide a question like that.
– It would make the intention clearer if an amendment were made. My object is to stop petitions from irresponsible persons. There might be a long legal argument as to the meaning of the term “ is interested.”
– There would be adequate fees, so that my honorable friend need not worry.
– That possibly affords a strong reason why I should not press the point any further. As the case stands, I consider that there is scope for argument as to who is an interested person.
– My honorable friend’s mind may be relieved by a reference to section 194 of the Electoral Act of 1902, which prescribes that every petition shall set out certain facts. While that does not quite conclude the matter, in every probability it covers the class of persons who would be interested, and whom the Court would consider to be interested.
– It is desirable that we should know exactly where we are in this matter. The Court, I believe, can be set in motion only by petition. It must be signed by an elector. Does this proposed new section provide for persons other than the original petitioner coming in and claiming the right to be heard ? Undoubtedly he would have the right to be heard as a party to the case without asking the opinion of the Court. The proposed new section says -
The Court of Disputed Returns may allow any person who in the opinion of the Court is interested . . . to be heard.
If the original petitioner was not interested, he would not lodge a petition. Having presented his petition, he is entitled to be heard by the Court. But is it contemplated that a person who can show the Court that he is also interested shall have the right to be heard ? That is the point I wish to be made clear. The clause provides more and more work for the lawyers, because if any person other than the original petitioner appears before the Court, he will have to demonstrate to its satisfaction that he is interested, and that will probably involve much legal argument on both sides, many fees and refreshers, and a great waste of time and good money.
– According to the terms of the Bill, section 199 of the Electoral Act will apply. It provides -
The Court shall be guided by the substantial merits and good conscience of each case without regard to legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before it is in accordance with the law of evidence or not.
Our object is to give the Court the widest possible scope to deal with the merits of a case. It must be intrusted with a wide discretion, and empowered, if in its opinion certain persons other than the petitioner are interested in the petition, to give notice to those persons, or, if necessary, to summon them to attend. We have decided that it shall be in the full discretion of the Court to do as it may think proper, and to be guided by the substantial merits of each case.
– We could not carry out section 199 of the Electoral Act unless we did that.
– The terms of that section, which I have quoted, are made applicable in this Bill. It also provides for the case of a petitioner who, in a light and air)’ manner, lodges a petition, and then runs away . The Court is empowered by this provision, if necessary, to serve on that person a notice, and thereupon he will become a party to the reference, and may be mulct in costs if he has been guilty of lodging the petition on a flimsy ground or without justifiable excuse. My honorable friend must realize that if we are to refer these cases to the Court, it must be intrusted with the widest possible powers.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new section 206 dd -
On the hearing of any reference under this part of this Act the Court of Disputed Returns shall sit as an open Court and shall have the powers conferred by section one hundred and ninety-seven of this Act so far as they are applicable, and in addition thereto shall have power -
to declare that any person was not qualified to be a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives;
to declare that any person was not capable of being chosen or of sitting as a Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives ;
to declare that there is a vacancy in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.
– I should like Senator Best to explain the essence of this provision, and to indicate how it compares with section 205 of the principal Act. It deals with the powers of the Court, but does not correspond with section 205 of the principal Act, in so far as that section provides that if a person not returned is declared to have been elected, he may take his seat accordingly.
– That section is incorporated with the Bill.
– I was merely asking for information. The powers of the Court are very clearly set out, but, apparently, it is not given power to declare a person entitled to the seat.
– The proposed new section 206F provides for that.
– And section 197 of the principal Act.
– I was expecting to find that power included among the powers of the Court in this proposed new section. It has been suggested that a senator might accuse a fellow senator of being disqualified, or of not having a good title to his seat. If such a case should arise, and find its way to the Court, that body should have the power to declare the petition frivolous, and award costs to the person against whom it was lodged.
– Perhaps the person might have no means.
– As a petition has to be accompanied with a deposit of£50, he could get that sum as part of his costs. I draw the attention of Senator Best to the necessity for a provision such as I have suggested to enable the Court to deal with a petition of that kind. It is a necessary provision, and if made, it will prevent the lodging of speculative petitions of which we have heard so much.
– Surely the Court has that power, when it can dismiss a case with costs?
– Yes; but the peti tioner might have no means.
– If the petition is frivolous, the Judge will not allow the case to go beyond the point when the costs have amounted to £50.
– But suppose a case is raised in the Senate.
– According to my reading of the clause, if such a case should arise, in the Senate, it will pass instantly to the Court of Disputed Returns for determination. I want the Court to be empowered to declare such a petition frivolous.
– It cannot properly be called a petition because there will be no petitioner.
– If the Minister says that the Court already has that power, and can be trusted to exercise its discretion, well and good, but I should prefer a specific power to be given for that purpose. I, therefore, move -
That the following new paragraph be added - ” (d). To declare any petition frivolous and award costs accordingly to the person against whom the petition was lodged.”
– It seems to me that the contingency which Senator Lynch seeks to provide against cannot possibly arise. A mere charge made across the. floor in debate as to a senator lacking a qualification would not raise a question for transmission to the Court. The probability is that the President or the Chairman would rule such a declaration out of order as a reflection upon a senator.
– There is a standing order under which a senator can move a motion dealing with any case of that kind.
– We are landing ourselves in a most extraordinary position, and I am obliged to say with regret that it is owing principally to the incapacity of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Look at the position which has been created by Senator Lynch, with the connivance of the
Government. Suppose that I were to rise in my place, and say to Senator Lynch that he was an undischarged bankrupt. According to the law which we are framing, and according to the statement of Senator Best, the moment that charge was made, it would be registered by the Senate, and passed on to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– I remind the honorable senator that that question is not before the Committee.
– But Senator Lynch has proposed an amendment with regard to expenses, and it is to the effect that if any senator, or other person, makes a charge of that kind against another senator, he must deposit the sum of £50. The English language is not sufficient to enable me to express my opinion of the ridiculous character of the proposal, as applied to senators. I never heard of such a stupid proposition in my life. We hear the most extravagant charges made by one senator against another, but we take no notice of them. If they are more than ordinarily bad, the President or the Chairman calls upon their author to withdraw them and to apologize ; he does so, and the storm blows over. If, however, this extraordinary measure is placed on the statute-book, we shall be in a peculiar position. Immediately one senator tells another senator that he is under an acknowledgment of allegiance or obedience to a foreign power, or is attainted of treason, the accusation will be referred to the Court.
– I again draw the . honorable senator’s attention to the fact that the qualification of a senator is not involved in this provision. Only a question as to a frivolous petition is involved in the amendment.
– Yes ; and the one thing hangs upon the other. To my mind there is no getting away from that position. I wish again to express my dissatisfaction with the bungling fashion in which the measure has been handled by Senator Best. He has weakly allowed himself to be led into a most peculiar position. Senator Lynch had an idea in his head, which he tried to carry out to the best of his ability. The Vice-President of the Executive Council did not exactly agree with him ; but, because he thought the numbers were against him, he refrained from even telling the Committee what the ultimate effect of the amendment, if carried, would be.
– The honorable senator is getting back to the amendment made in the other proposed new section.
– The whole thing is one amendment.
– I rule that it is not one amendment.
– Do you, Mr. Chairman, rule against me ? If you do, I shall be compelled to dispute your ruling.
– I ask the honorable senator to discuss the proposed new section now before the Committee.
– It is impossible to discuss the one matter apart from the other. The Government ought to deliver us from this dilemma. I never saw such an exhibition of incompetence in Parliament in my life.
– On your part.
– Words are cheap. If the honorable senator had known his business, he would not have permitted this peculiar crisis to arise, whereby one member can accuse another of having committed an offence, or of being subject to a disqualification, and then the matter, on that member’s mere assertion, must be referred to the High Court. Did any one ever hear of anything so ridiculous ? The whole thing is branded with stupidity from beginning to end.
– The extraordinary heat evidenced by Senator Stewart, who is usually so mild, was a matter of surprise to myself and many other honorable senators. The honorable senator has also given a sample of inconsistency. He drew a harrowing picture of a senator, who was accused of being an insolvent, being obliged to go to the High Court to have his case decided, whereas, about five minutes previously, he welcomed an amendment suggested by Senator Symon to provide that any case in which there was any dispute should be immediately referred to the High Court. I draw his attention to the impossibility of expecting any man to submit quietly to an accusation of being an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent. The person accused would immediately dispute the charge, and, therefore, it would be a case “ in dispute.”
– The question before the Committee is not that of the qualification of a senator.
– The amendment which I have proposed is very necessary, and would prevent the possibility of such a case as Senator Stewart has pictured arising in the future. Unless a person has substantial grounds for disputing the title of an honorable senator to sit, he will not move in the matter, but, if he takes action on frivolous grounds and without proper justification, prompted only by political or personal motives, it is right that the Senate or the Court of Disputed Returns should have sufficient power to declare his petition or his action in raising the question to be frivolous, and mulct him in adequate costs. Although the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be satisfied that that power is already possessed and has been exercised in the past by the Court, I consider that it is wise to give the Court the specific power which my amendment would confer. In that way the author of any flimsy petition or objection, such as Senator Stewart depicts, could be saddled with heavy costs. I simply ask the Committee to destroy the remotest chance of any frivolous petition being presented to the High Court. After all Senator Stewart’s objections to this measure, is it not in keeping with the present trend of thought everywhere to remove petitions of this kind from the political arena to some independent and impartial body ?
– The desire of the Committee all through this discussion has been, as far as possible, to take anything in the nature of a dispute out of the hands of the Senate. We seem to be fairly unanimous on that point, but no one here is likely to support a proposal which would allow all kinds of ridiculous and frivolous charges to be taken to the Court of Disputed Returns. No reasonable person would say that a mere charge hurled across the Chamber in the heat of debate should be sent on to the Court for investigation.
– Surely it must first arise by petition?
– If the charge must be raised by petition, we ought to have a substantial guarantee that there will be some ground for the charge. Otherwise the whole proceeding would be perfectly ridiculous. In the circumstances Senator Lynch’s proposition is very wise.
– It is not necessary to lodge a petition. It can be done by a charge made by one senator against another in this Chamber, according to the interpretation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Surely the Vice-President of the Executive Council would not countenance a proposal to refer to the Court of Disputed Returns a mere charge made on the floor of this Chamber ?
– It is too absurd for serious consideration.
– That is what the Vice-President of the Executive Council said. He. denies now what he said.
– I never deny what I say.
– If anything has been said that gives colour to that opinion, the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to be heard. I hope he will make it clear that there is no such possibility. I can hardly realize that he would accept such a proposal.
– I asked him, and he said “Yes.”
– If there is any danger of a frivolous charge coming before the Court, Senator Lynch ‘s amendment is reasonable, and ought to be accepted.
– Senator Stewart has seen fit to make a vicious personal attack upon myself because he utterly fails to understand what is perfectly clear to every other member of the Senate.
– He did not mean it.
– I can only judge him by what he said.
– I meant every word of it.
– When the honorable senator can say anything venomous - of course, the question of its truth is of no moment - in order to gratify his own feelings, he does not hesitate to do so. I told honorable senators when this clause was reached that the scheme of the Bill was that the Senate, if it chose, should have the right to decide by resolution that these questions should be remitted to the Court. That provision left it open to the Senate, in simple cases such as I cited, to come to a decision without a reference to the Court. Senator Lynch made certain suggestions, in which Senator Symon largely concurred. The outcome was a general expression of opinion on the part of honorable senators that, if possible, a resolution of the kind provided for in the clause should be avoided, as it would result in the introduction of the political aspect into the consideration of the case. I said that it was a matter purely for the Senate to decide, and that if they so decided I should endeavour to carry out their wishes. I even went so far as to explain to Senator Stewart that if the clause was amended as suggested it would be necessary for me to recommit it in order to provide the requisite safeguards. I made that absolutely clear, and yet the honorable senator charges me with disregarding my duties as the leader of the Senate, and making some explanation which I do not understand, in spite of my distinct promise to the Senate that I would reconsider the clause, and make certain proposals in regard to it. My anxiety is to carry out the wishes of the Senate, and I undertook to do so from the. beginning. As to the amendment immediately before the Chair, the scheme of this particular portion of the Bill was not to be by petition. It was provided that if the question was raised by a resolution of the Senate, it was to be forwarded to the Court. Section 197 of the Electoral Act is specifically embodied in this clause. When the question goes to the Court, section 197 provides that the Court shall have power to award costs.Section 202B of the same part of the Electoral Act provides that the. Court may award costs against an unsuccessful party to the petition. But in this clause no petition was involved. It all depended upon the resolution of the Senate. It will be necessary in the circumstances to provide some machinery to take the place of that resolution. I shall have to consider what that machinery should be. If I can make any other suggestion in order to carry out the wish of the Senate, I shall endeavour to do so, but at this particular stage it is quite impossible to make a definite proposition on a matter which involves considerable and serious difficulty. Senator Lynch’ s amendment in the . circumstances is hardly relevant or necessary. The Act itself provides for the awarding of costs.
– Where there is a deposit.
– But there is only a deposit in the event of a petition.
– Why should there not be a’ deposit required from the person responsible in the case of a resolution ?
– Of course there is no deposit in the case of a resolution. Honorable senators will see that the Bill provides that the Court may summon any person they think proper, and make him a party to the reference, and, of course, the Court has power to make the award as to costs. But in these circumstances there is “no provision for a deposit, and the amendment would not be applicable.
– I am very sorry that Senator Stewart adopted the attitude he did, though it is probable that, in some circumstances, I should adopt the same attitude myself. I should allow the honorable senator perfect liberty as to anything he might say. with regard to me, and I should be sorry, as I know Senator Stewart would be, if I had done an injustice. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has, on more than one occasion, admitted that an amendment will have to be made. He has shown that what the Committee has already done has knocked the original principle out of the proposed new sections, and something else will have to be substituted. With respect to the amendment at present before the Committee, Senator Lynch must see that, although his amendment refers to a petition, there might be no petition involved.
– Why not include the word “resolution”?
– Exactly. That is what the Vice-President of the Executive Council or the Committee will have to. do later. Something must be substituted for what we have taken outof the proposed new sections. 1 think the difficulty can only be overcome by providing that in future all questions must be submitted to the Court by petition. But as a petition is not involved in the matter we are now discussing, I hope Senator Lynch will see that his amendment is not applicable. The probability is that when the necessary amendments are submitted, on recommittal, the honorable senator will find that the rest of the” principal Act will apply, and such an amendment as he now proposes will not be necessary. . We have been led into some confusion by the adoption of illconsidered amendments in the first instance.
– There is nothing novel* in what has been proposed: If Senator McGregor will look about him, he will find that in some of the States it has already been provided that every form of dispute in connexion with an election must be removed entirely from the control of the State Parliament, and referred to a Court of Disputed Returns. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not disposed to accept my amendment, I ask him to take into serious consideration the necessity for some amendment of the Bill, which will have the effect of deterring persons from presenting petitions or raising questions challenging the seat of a member of Parliament without substantial reason. I think we should specifically provide in the Bill that it shall not, in future, be a paying proposition for any person, without good grounds, to take action with the object of unseating a member of Parliament.
– We could not make a provision of that sort.
– What I have proposed is to empower the Court of Disputed Returns to declare any petition or question raised in connexion with the seat of a member of Parliament frivolous, and to award costs in such cases to the member whose seat is challenged.
– The Court has that power.
– Perhaps Senator Lynch means that we should make it compulsory for the Court, in such cases, to award costs to the member whose seat is challenged.
– If it is a good thing to award costs in frivolous cases against the persons who bring them, why should we not make it compulsory ?
– The honorable senator will see that the scheme of the Bill is for the Senate to refer questions to the Court of Disputed Returns. How could the Court declare a reference by the Senate to be frivolous ?
– The Minister forgets that the Committee has carried an amendment; under which there will be no power left to the Senate to refer a question to the Court of Disputed Returns, and he has promised to recast the Bill in accordance with that decision. To give effect to the wish of the Committee the honorable senator must make it clear that neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives shall in future have hand, act, or part in the reference of these cases to the Court of Disputed Returns.
– That question is not now before the Committee.
– I rose merely to impress upon the Vice-President of theExecutive Council the necessity for some specific provision to deter persons from bringing frivolous cases before the Court of Disputed Returns. In the meantime, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Proposed new section agreed to.
Proposed new sections 206E and 206F and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from1st November, vide page 5493):
Clause 13 -
The Governor-General may by proclamation -
declare any part of the Commonwealth or of a State in which any quarantinable disease or any disease or pest affecting animals or plants exists to be a quarantine area; or
declare that any persons, animals, plants, or goods in any quarantine area, or in any State or part of the Commonwealth in which any quarantinable disease, or any disease or pest affecting plants or animals, exists, shall be subject to quarantine.
– I protest against the passage of paragraphh of clause 13, and I intend to move that it be left out. It appears to me that we have arrived at a stage in the consideration of this Bill when we must decide either to limit the powers of the Commonwealth in dealing with quarantine, or to permit the Commonwealth Government to exercise quarantine powers to the fullest extent from one end of Australia to the other. I donot object to the Commonwealth Government exercising the fullest powers conferred by the Constitution in connexion withoversea quarantine. But when we are asked to give the GovernorGeneral power to declare any part of the Commonwealth or a State in which any quarantinable disease, or any disease or pest affecting animals or plants exists, to be a quarantinable area, I draw the line. [ am not prepared to go as far as’ is proposed in this Bill in that respect. I think it would be most undesirable to do so. I am satisfied that the States authorities are likely to be infinitely more careful than the Commonwealth Government of the administration of internal quarantine. The Commonwealth Government could not exercise the care now being given to such matters by the States authorities, except at a cost that would be unreasonable and altogether unnecessary. It may fairly be admitted that in the past the States Governments have taken such steps from time to time as have been necessary to enable them to deal as effectually as possible with diseases affecting human beings, animals, and plants. They have endeavoured, especially in connexion with plants, to discover a remedy for most of the pests known in. Australia.
– This would not interfere with that.
– But I am satisfied that the moment the Commonwealth takes the right of quarantine within a State from the State itself it at oncelays the whole of the responsibility for everything in connexion with the health of that State upon the Commonwealth.
– Oh, no; that is not so.
– It is not our understanding.
– That is my opinion. My impression is that the moment we take away from the States their absolute right to deal with internal quarantine we take away from them the feeling of responsibility.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the whole is greater than the part?
– With regard to oversea quarantine, I quite agree with the honorable senator, but I am satisfied that a State itself is infinitely better qualified to deal with quarantine within a State than the Commonwealth can be at any time. Further, I believe that legislation of this description will have a tendency to create friction. There will be a suspicion that undue pressure is being brought against one State as compared with others. One of the clearest examples of that was given by Senator Turley, who pointed out that during the prevalence of the tick pest Queensland had a solid grievance against New South Wales, because of the quarantine restrictions set up against taking stock over the borders.
– The honorable senator surely does not think that under this Bill the Commonwealth would be able to restrain New South Wales in the administration of its laws?
– I think that that is the meaning of the Bill.
– We can superimpose Federal laws, but we cannot abolish State laws.
– Not unless they overlap.
– If I thought that there would be no such difficulty, I should have no hesitation in supporting the Bill. But I believe that if the Bill is passed in its present form the Commonwealth will practically have the right to do, with regard to matters of inland quarantine, exactly what it has the right to do regarding oversea quarantine. That is the great danger that I see. So soon as the Commonwealth thinks it necessary to declare certain portions of a State quarantine areas, whilst other districts in the same State are pronounced by the Commonwealth authorities to be clean, an adjacent State will probably think that cattle infected by disease are permitted to come from the unclean portions of the State into the clean portions, and thence into other States. It will be feared that infected cattle are coming, not from the ostensibly clean portions, but really from the tainted portions.
– That is the system at present.
– It is the system that this Bill will continue. There is sure to be the greatest friction, and even animosity, from Commonwealth administration of quarantine authority with respect to the interior of a State. I have no sympathy whatever with the attitude of certain States which, it is alleged, have simply quarantined goods for trade purposes.
– If this provision be struck out the States will be left with that power.
– What is the honorable senator proposing to strike out?
-I should like to strike out everything which gives the Commonwealth power to take away quarantine authority within the borders of any State. Undoubtedly, if we give the Commonwealth power to deal with quarantine for the whole of Australia, we give it a power that will land us in endless difficulties, whilst our quarantine areas will not be nearly so well supervised or controlled as they are at present. Is it not to the interest of every State to look after the health of its people, its animals, and those of its plants which are commercially valuable? Can any one imagine that the Commonwealth is capable, or will at any time be capable, of looking after the interests of the States in these respects better than they do it themselves? Imagine an epidemic of any kind breaking out in any part of the Commonwealth. Is it for a moment conceivable that the States would neglect the proper handling of that epidemic, so as to prevent its spread? I cannot for the life of me see how it can be imagined that a State would be so culpably negligent of the welfare of its people ; and I do not for a moment believe that the Commonwealth would ever be in a position to deal so immediately and effectively with such cases as would the States themselves. I believe that I ami acting in, the best interests of the Commonwealth and of the whole of the States. I trust that the Committee will limit the powers of the Commonwealth in quarantine matters entirely to oversea affairs.
– This point has been cropping up throughout the discussions on this measure, and I had hoped that the result of the division on paragraph g had effectually disposed of it.But it has been brought up again by Senator Henderson, who, I am afraid, is affected with “State fright.” The very essence and genius of this Bill is not that we are going to have two parties in contradistinction with each other, but that there is to be co-operative action on the part of Commonwealth and State. There is no desire on the part of the Commonwealth, and it is not the intention of this Bill, nor will it be the intention of the administration under it, to interfere unduly with the internal working of any State in combating diseases affecting persons, animals, or plants.
– The whole question is how it can best be done.
– The clause provides that the Governor-General may, by proclamation, do certain things. If the Commonwealth sees that a State is doing its duty with regard to any matter of this description, it will not interfere. The Commonwealth is not going to proclaim any area within a State to be a quarantine area unless it sees that it is absolutely necessary to do so. The illustration which the honorable senator gave simply cuts away his own argument. He said that there might be some disease affecting animals or plants existingonly in a particular area of a State, and that an adjoining State might refuse to take cattle or plants from the State affected, because it would not believe that they came from the clean parts. That illustration seems to imply a doubt in his own mind as to whether a State would do its duty, and proclaim a certain part a quarantine area, as it ought to do in the circumstances described. It is a reasonable thing to give this power to the Commonwealth in case a State does not do its duty. This Bill is intended to bring about harmonious working between Commonwealth and States for the good of the people as a whole. To-day we are not working together in matters ofthis description. The Bill will be an absolute absurdity, if we are going to say that any part of Australia is not to be subject to Commonwealth rule in respect to quarantine.
– I am sorry that Senator Henderson did not take a little more notice of what the Bill really proposes to do. The very principle of the Bill, apart from the particular clause we are . discussing, involves the co-operation of the Commonwealth and States in combating disease. I will take an illustration from Senator Henderson’s own State to show him the difficulty that has existed hitherto in connexion with quarantine. He is of the opinion that if a, State quarantines the whole or a part of its territory, that is the end of the matter.But that is not the principle of the quarantine laws as applied in the past between State and State.
– I have no such thought.
– Western Australia may declare every portion of its territory clean, but South Australia may be of a different opinion, and, in that case, it is really South Australia which quarantines Western Australia. The object of this Bill is to do away with the ridiculous position which has often been taken up by individual States. Suppose that a disease broke out on an island which belongs to Western Australia. Under the Bill, only that island would be quarantined, but under the old system the whole of the State would be quarantined as against the other States. The honorable senator knows that that terrible disease called surra is confined to only a small portion of Western Australia, and that South Australia has quarantined the whole territory of Western Australia so far as the importationof animals from that State is concerned.
– That place is practically isolated.
– Yes. Under this Bill, as we are endeavouring to frame its provisions in the best interests of the States, and also of the Commonwealth, merely the area affected by the disease would be quarantined, and animals, plants, and goods would be removable in the rest of the State, or from the rest of the State to any other portion of the Commonwealth. The object of the Bill is to get rid of the difficulties which have existed under the old system, and that is why it has my support. Some State Premiers, some State members, and even some Federal members, are suffering from State fright. They think that the Commonwealth is intending to do something terrible, when it is only taking power in this Bill to co-operate with the States. If honorable senators will carefully read its provisions, they will find that it is only in cases where the State officers cannot act, or will not be allowed to act, or in some other contingency of that description, that the Commonwealth is intrusted with the power to appoint other officers.
– Have they not full power ?
– Certainly, the Commonwealth Government will have full power for that purpose if they cannot obtain the services of the State officers. Suppose that any State should refuse to allow’ its officers to co-operate with the Commonwealth in carrying out our quarantine law. Would not the Commonwealth be in a very foolish position if it had not the right to appoint officers for that purpose? The clause is framed in the interests of the Commonwealth and its people, and I hope that, with very few modifications, it will be carried.
– The Premier of New South Wales and the Premiers of other States have circularized some members of the Senate to the effect that they wish their representatives to oppose this clause, so far as it enables the Commonwealth to control internal quarantine in a State. I assume that no. honorable senator can possibly entertain anything but a favorable feeling towards the Bill. It has been long wanted, and if there is any advantage in Federal administration, this is certainly one of the sub- jects which the Commonwealth Government should take in hand. But I apply that remark to quarantine as it is generally under-: stood - to passengers and stock arriving here in oversea vessels. When, however, the Government propose to take away from the States - and that is what the clause means, however its meaning may be covered - the right to regulate matters outside ordinary quarantinein the interests of their citizens, we have to consider this Bill as it affects the powers and interests of the States.’
Senator McColl has asked, by interjection, whether the Federal administration of the quarantine power in its entirety will not be more .conducive to the interests of the States than has been State administration. I believe that it” will not. It is of no use to attempt to get away from the facts. If they teach us anything, it is that the Federal administration has not been of such a character as to inspire the people of New South Wales with sufficient confidence to intrust the Commonwealth Parliament or Government with any additional powers. The Federal administration has not been of such a character as to convince the people of New South Wales that .their interests will - be better administered by this Parliament thain they would be by their own Parliament.
– Who are complaining?
– I am speaking now of the people of New South Wales generally, as represented by its Premier.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss administration generally, but only quarantine.
– I think, sir, that I am perfectly in order in placing this matter before the Committee. Surely it is quite competent for me, where the Commonwealth Government propose to take over from the States additional powers-
– I rise to order. I submit that the question before the Committee is paragraph h of clause 13. The principle which the honorable senator is discussing was affirmed cm the second reading of the Bill, if it was not embodied in the Constitution. Quarantine is a matter on which this Parliament may legislate, and on the second reading we decided that this is the direction in which we should legislate, so that the only question now is whether paragraph // of clause 13 is good machinery for giving effect to that principle.
– The honorable senator is quite in order in discussing whether these powers should be left with the States or given to the Commonwealth, but I do not thinE that he will be in order, in discussing generally the merits of Commonwealth and State administration, as I would remind him he was doing. I ask him to confine his remarks to the question as to whether quarantine administration, as provided for in paragraph // of the clause should be left in the hands of the States, or placed in- those of the Commonwealth, and “not to enter upon a general discussion.
If I were to allow him to speak generally, I could not prevent other honorable senators from speaking on the same lines. .’
– Respectfully and very regretfully I dissent from your ruling, sir.
– If the honorable senator dissents, he must do so in writing.
– I should not like to go so far as that, sir. I only desire to show that the one thing absolutely dove-tails into the other. By this clause we are asked to transfer the administration of certain details in connexion with quarantine from the States to the Commonwealth, and it appears to me that I am quite entitled to state why New South Wales considers that it is inadvisable to do so. I am merely mentioning that the people of the State, through their representatives in the State Parliament, have given expression to that view. Believing that upon this clause depends the transfer of these additional powers from the State to the Commonwealth, I think it is in the province of. any member of the Committee to represent the views of his State. .’
– Do I understand that the honorable senator is directing these remarks to my ruling, because, if so, he’ must take the proper course.
– No, sir. I am merely stating what I may term the relevancy of the position as it appeals to me. I have been prevented through ill health from speaking before on this measure, but I. felt so strongly, and I know that thepeople of New South Wales also feel strongly, about it, that I was compelled to speak on this occasion. The people of New South Wales believe that it would be better for the States to retain the powers conferred by this clause, for many reasons, one of which is that ‘the self-interest of a State must lead it to act more promptly, and that a local authority can better localize and deal with an outbreak of infectious disease than could a central authority which had to govern the whole of the enormous territory of Australia. In view of the extraordinary diversity of climatic conditions and of business ramifications in the different States, it is better to leave the people of each State to protect their own interests in matters of this kind. The danger of an outbreak of bubonic plague has been referred to as a reason why the Bill should be brought into operation. But from my knowledge of what occurred in New South Wales, it is most. improbable that the
Commonwealth Administration would have taken the same prompt and energetic measures for the suppression of that terrible disease as were taken by the New South Wales authorities. I believe also that the Commonwealth could not have taken more prompt and energetic action than the Queensland authorities took to deal with the tick pest.
– Would not the New South Wales State authorities have allowed Dr. Danysz to spread his rabbit virus through the State?
– Dr. Danysz is still, so far as I know, making experiments. Whilst the different Chambers of Commerce, and many pastoral and agricultural bodies, as well as the Premiers of several States, have protested against the Commonwealth taking over these powers, in no single instance that I know of has there been any expression of public feeling in favour of taking away these powers from the States. That shows very strongly that no serious complaint has been made against the existing State administration of health matters: ‘ We know that there has been a certain amount of friction as between State and State, but those disputes have been more matters of business than anything else, and so could have been satisfactorily settled if relegated to the Inter-State Commission. That would be a better way of avoiding the difficulty than would the taking over by the Federal Parliament of the powers of the States in a way that will engender ill feeling as between State and State.
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss the general question of the powers to be taken over by the Commonwealth. The question before the Committee is simplywhether the Commonwealth shall have the right to declare a quarantinable area.
– Does not that cover the question of the relations between State and State? If this provision means anything, it means that the Federal Government are asking for full powers, although they say that they only propose to use them in a limited degree.
– That question does not arise under the paragraph now before the Committee. The question of whether the Commonwealth should take over these powers was dealt with on the second reading. The only principle involved in para graph h is whether the Commonwealth shall have the power to declare a part of a State a quarantinable area.
– This is the only chance I have had of explaining my views upon the Bill, but I bow to your decision. From my reading of the clause, it appears that the powers which it confers upon the Commonwealth are, as Senator Henderson and Senator McColl implied in their speeches, to be taken from the State Parliaments.
Amendments (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That the words “ or of a State,” line 4, and the words “ State or,” line 10, be left out.
– I move -
That the following words be added to paragraphi: - “ Provided that the powers contained in the last three preceding paragraphs so far as their operation applies within the boundaries of the respective States shall be and shall be construed to be in aid of the State laws and ad- . ministration relating thereto.”
This amendment partakes of the nature of a compromise, although I know that all compromises are rather dangerous, and that the end sought to be achieved is sometimes not achieved. I was delighted to hear Senator Henderson’s remarks as to the powers of the States to deal with their own health concerns. I hold with him that the States have the most powerful inducements themselves to look after their own health, and that no powers that we can put in force could be stronger than those possessed by the States to protect themselves from the spread of infection. During this discussion, I have been glad to hear it continually iterated that the sole desire of the Government is to work in aid of the State machinery and State laws. Clause 11 gives the Government power to enter into arrangements with the States with respect to any matters necessary or convenient to be done in order to enable the Commonwealth quarantine authorities and the State health authorities to work in aid of one another. We have passed that clause.
– Then the honorable senator’s amendment is not required..
– I wish to know, first, what position the Government are going to take up. Do they regard the amendment as antagonistic to clause11, or will they accept it as a clear expression of their desire to work in with the States authorities? If they regard it as antagonistic, will they point out how far it is antagonistic to their desire to work in with the State authorities? I am trying to hold, in this case, a middle position. I know that it is a difficult and somewhat dangerous position to hold, because the result may displease those who advocate exclusive Commonwealth powers, while, at the same time, it may not satisfy those who desire to assert the supremacy” of the States jurisdiction. All that I ask by the amendment is that the powers conferred under paragraphs g, h, and i, of clause 13, shall be deemed and be construed to be in aid of the States laws and States administration.
– We have not declared the contrary yet.
– I am glad to find that I am getting Senator Needham on my side. If the Committee has not declared the contrary, and honorable senators have no desire to make such’ a declaration, I may expect to receive support for what might be called a half-way clause. I supported an amendment which was proposed by Senator Clemons because -I did not believe in either the wisdom or the expediency of allowing the Commonwealth Government to interfere in matters of internal quarantine. That amendment was defeated. It is evident that Senator Henderson cannot succeed with a similar amendment, and I submit that if the Committee accept the amendment I have proposed, it will be a distinct intimation in clear and explicit terms on the face of the Bill that the Commonwealth authority will respect the States administration and machinery before interfering in internal quarantine. I think that the term “quarantine “ in this connexion is misused, as what is referred to are rather matters of health than of quarantine. I pointed out that in the United States, whether or not they have the powers we possess under our Constitution, it has been made clear in the Acts of Congress, and in the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, that in that country the great desire of the Federal authority in the matter of quarantine is to assist the States authorities. I read a portion of a judgment of Chief Jus_.tice Marshall “in the celebrated case of Gibbons v. Ogden, in which he pointed out that it had been the practice of the United States Legislature, notwithstanding the powers the Federal authority had under the commerce sections of their Constitution, at all times to aid the States authorities in matters of health and quarantine. When this Bill was under consideration in another place this matter was presented for careful consideration. It was naturally discussed from the States point of view, and, as a result, sub-clause 3 of clause 13 was introduced as an amendment. This provides that where the Federal Government wish to intervene in matters of internal quarantine, the GovernorGeneral must first intimate to the States authorities the intention to over-ride their legislation and administration, and that certainly implies that reasons would be given for doing so. It seems to me that my amendment is in harmony with the spirit and intention of sub-clause 3 of clause 13, because it proposes that before they can intervene, and say to the States authorities that the States laws are deficient, the Commonwealth Government must show that they ‘ have exhausted the machinery and administration of the States; without effect. I understand that that is. what the Minister desires. I know that the States Governments are anxious to preserve every tittle of their internal power.
– Their independence.
– They are anxious to preserve their independence.
– Their independence is not possible under the law.
– I ask Senator St. Ledger not to enter upon a discussion of that point.
– Arid Senator Trenwith wishes to take away their independence.
– The’ honorablesenator is not in order in interjecting when the Chairman is giving a ruling. I have already ruled in connexion with previous clauses that a discussion as to whether general powers should be given to the Federal Government or be retained by the States was not in order. Such a discussion cannot be allowed on the question nowbefore the Committee, except in so far as itrelates to quarantine.
– I have tried toconfine my remarks closely to that. My amendment mentions States powers^ and also Commonwealth powers of quarantine, and I am referring now to the particular-, powers with respect to quarantine or public - health which the States Governments at present possess.
– And which, under this clause, it is proposed to transfer to the-Commonwealth Government.
– Exactly. I take it that we are entitled to consider the general powers sought to be taken by the-
Federal authority as against the particular powers which some of us would like to have reserved to the States authorities. I think that -my amendment would do justice to the Commonwealth, though it might not do full justice to the States. We have now passed paragraphs g, h, and i, and the Minister and honorable senators supporting them have frequently said that they wish the Commonwealth Government to work in with the States machinery and administration. It seems to me that my amendment would expressly provide for that by requiring that before the Commonwealth Government exercise the reserved or implied powers given to the Commonwealth authority under the Constitution in respect of the control of quarantine within a State, and especially in dealing with animals or plants within the boundaries of a State, it shall be shown that full advantage has been taken of the machinery and administration of the States.
– What about the disease during the time these matters were being settled?
– Senator Henderson has effectively answered that question by showing that the Government and people of a State have a greater incentive to prevent the spread of disease within a State than the Commonwealth authority oan claim to have. Where these State authorities have the necessary powers under State legislation, in view of the fact that they will have every incentive to do so, we can surely allow1 them to administer the health laws they have passed before we intervene to make use of the extreme powers assumed by the Federal Government under this Bill. In discussing a previous clause, I suggested a contingency which I do not say will be realized - that if we, as is’ proposed in this Bill, assert every power which the Commonwealth Government can claim under the Constitution within the scope of the word.” quarantine,” under the broad interpretation given to the term in this measure, the States Governments might say, “ You have asserted your powers. You have resisted the representatives of the States, who have, *.&n our behalf, urged a recognition of our powers, and now you had better take over the whole business. We shall pay no more health officials. We shall discontinue our scientific researches in connexion with various diseases, -and you must accept the responsibility.” If the “States Governments adopted that course, what would be the result? Has the Com monwealth Government at command the means or machinery to deal with internal quarantine and matters affecting public health within the States as effectively as the States Governments can deal with them at the present time ?
– It is -not proposed to create the machinery, either.
– It is.
– Then it can only be done by regulation and administration. May I also ask, if that is what is proposed to be done, why there should be any resistance to my amendment ? If honorable senators do not approve of it, it is shown that they are prepared, without sufficient reason, to do away with the States administration of internal quarantine, because the object of my amendment is only to make in the Bill, itself such a declaration as we have already to some extent made in clause n, and as is made in subclause 3 of clause 13. Practically, the Minister and his supporters are taking up this position: They say, “We promise that we will not materially interfere with your administration until the interests of the Commonwealth are imperilled. We require the use of your buildings and machinery, and we promise that we will make use of your machinery and administration as far as possible.” When that promise is made on the floor of the Senate, I ask the Minister to put it in the Bill, and make it as clear there as it has been made to the Committee.
– The honorable senator’s amendment would not make it clear.
– With all deference to the honorable senator, I think nothing could make it more clear. As. the Government claim power to control internal quarantine, especially in connexion with animals and plants, I say. that we should make it clear on the face of the Bill that before the Federal authority exercises that power it must be shown that all powers in the hands of the States authorities, under local health laws and machinery, shall first have been exhausted. What is the value of the promise we have had from the other side if honorable senators are not prepared to accept this amendment? Either they require the assistance of the States machinery and legislation or they do not. .
– We have said that we do, and have made provision in the Bill to take advantage of them, but honorable senators opposite wish us now to declare that instead of the Federal authority being supreme, the States authorities shall be supreme.
– No; if that were what I desired, I should have worded my amendment quite differently. I wish the honorable senator to note that my amendment does not affect in the slightest degree what is alleged to be the exclusive power or the implied powers of the Federal authority to enter a State to control internal quarantine. The amendment is intended to be in aid of State laws. It will not derogate from the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, because if the State machinery will not work there will be nothing to prevent the Commonwealth Government from using its constitutional power. This is the last form of compromise between State power and Commonwealth power.
– Between State supremacy and Commonwealth supremacy.
– Does the honorable senator wish the Commonwealth to be supreme within the territory of a State? If so, I do not agree with him. I desire to give the States full power to deal with internal health matters. Those who desire a small portion of these powers to be reserved to the States must vote for the amendment, which does not interfere with the exclusive powers of the Commonwealth under theConstitution.
– Suppose that the administration of a State is imperfect.
– The words “ in aid of “ do not prevent the Commonwealth from stepping in to aid a State law which is imperfect.
– Suppose it is necessary, to meet a national emergency, to supersede a State law, would the honorable senator call that aiding?
– If there is no effective State law, the implied or reserved powers of the Commonwealth can at once be exercised. But where a State was trying to deal with a difficult situation, my amend ment would enable the Commonwealth to aid that State, but not to supersede its administration until the State administration proved to be ineffective. We have not been able to keep the hands of the Commonwealth off the internal administration of the States, but we are seeking to lay it down clearly in the Bill in black and white that we will respect the administration of the States, whilst not preventing the Commonwealth, in an extraordinary emergency, from using its powers. Let me draw attention to the way in which State administration has proved ineffective. I do not believe that in the whole of Australia there is a health administration that has done more to prevent the spread of disease than has that of Queensland in regard to bubonic plague and the tick pest.
– Does the honorable senator think that Queensland in that respect is better than any other State?
– The Queensland administration of quarantine has, I believe, been better than that of any other State in respect of those diseases.
– That is a strong reason for the Commonwealth taking over the whole business, and working up the administration to the Queensland standard.
– In regard to the tick alone, our State voluntarily suffered an immense loss to protect the rest of Australia from infection. Whatever mistakes may be attributed to it in the administration of the quarantine law in that instance, on the whole it succeeded. Queensland went to immense expense.* ‘ It traced the origin and development of the disease minutely. It made many experiments. That being so, is it not commonsense and common prudence to use that administration which has been so effective for its purpose? Take bubonic plague. The disease has been stamped out. although Queensland is in the position of being, so to speak, the sentinel in the east to protect Australia from plague. All that I am asking for is that my amendment shall be accepted with the view of enabling the Commonwealth Government to aid State administration.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 5th September (vide page 2888), on motion by Senator Dobson -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Since the question of compulsory military service was brought before the Senate by Senator Dobson three or four years ago, many meetings have been held and many associations formed in various parts of the Commonwealth to further the movement. A considerable number of persons have been won over to the principle of compulsory service. Indeed, I know of no movement which, in the same short period, has made such rapid progress as has this movement. Associations have been formed in various States; and newspapers which were formerly silent on the subject, and public men holding responsible positions and representing all shades of political thought, are now more or less in favour of a compulsory system of military service. At a Labour Conference I had an opportunity to submit a motion affirming that principle, and it was only defeated by a very harrow majority. I dare say that at the next Congress it will be carried by a very great majority, because public opinion seems to be setting in” favour of a system different from that to which Britishers have been accustomed during the last five or seven years. Any one who has considered the subject, from either the Commonwealth or the Empire stand-point, must admit that the present system has not g’iven us that sense of security which would warrant its continuance. Indeed, it is admitted on all -hands that the volunteer system has been proved to be a failure in British politics, and, I think, in a greater degree in Australian politics. A fear seems to be entertained, especially amongst those of the same way of political thinking as myself, that in adopting the compulsory system we might create amongst the people a spirit which would produce a great deal more harm than good. It has been argued that once the spirit of militarism was aroused in the community, it might run to riot and engender’ that most objectionable spirit known as jingoism. When we recollect how that spirit has manifested itself amongst the most civilized, cultured, and advanced peoples of the world, we must recognise that there is a little justification for persons to entertain such a fear. If we inquire into what has been the experience of the most advanced peoples of the world, we find that the spirit of jingoism has been more or less prominent at certain periods of their history. All nations have suffered from this cause, and I think that even our own people have as much to answer for in that respect as have’ any other peoples. We know that we are just as prone to such outbursts of feeling as are any of the continental peoples. If we read the history of continental peoples we see that a number of arguments might be advanced against adopting the compulsory principle and incurring the risk of the danger to which I have referred. France is a very glaring case in point. Because of the military success which the French achieved under Napoleon, they went on the rampage and continued to pursue a mad policy of jingoism for several generations. Until the time of the FrancoPrussian war the French were unable, apparently, to get away from the glory and the glamour of the victories achieved under the leadership of Napoleon. It was not until the Germans . combined and, . under Von Moltke, defeated the armies of France so decisively, that the French, seemed to get cured of the spirit of jingoism. And so intoxicated, apparently, were the Germans with their success that they, in turn, became the jingoes of the Continent. During the last fifteen or twenty years the Kaiser has, half a! score of times or more, almost precipitated a European war. On several occasions Europe has been almost thrown into a blaze by his jingoistic tendencies. In Russia the same state of affairs, more or less, has been brought about by the bullying policy pursued for so long by its Emperor, and it was not until the little brown man “ happened along “ and took a fall out of the mighty Russian Empire that the Russian seemed to get cured of the spirit of jingoism. If military success will produce this spirit in the most cultured and advanced peoples of the world, such as those I have mentioned, there is some justification for fearing that similar results might be- brought about if weadopted a compulsory system of military service. A people who have succeeded in militarism instantly Become possessed of what the Americans call “swelled head,” and suffer accordingly. When military success has had that effect on European peoples, it may be expected to be developed in the Asiatic nation which has recently come to the forefront of military nations. It is only reasonable to assume that at the present moment the Japanese are just as jingoistic as, perhaps, they can afford to be. They are facing up in a rather bellicose attitude towards the United States, a mighty republic, with a population of eighty millions, and with, I suppose, the greatest amount of wealth in the world. When military success has inspired the European imagination in the way I have described, need we be surprised that it should produce a similar effect upon the Asiatic mind? . Knowing that that has been the result of military success with nation after nation throughout the world’s history, we can assume that if the opportunity is presented Japan will become just as bellicose and as ready to take advantage of its military power as has any other nation. At the present time the Japanese are confined in a. very small country, and it is natural to suppose that they are anxious to expand and to get a footing on another continent. When we recall the fact that they are our nearest neighbours and are anxious to add to their territories so that they may expand, and when we also recollect that in some of our Australian towns the Japanese population are actually in a majority, we must recognise the gravity of the situation with which we are brought face to face. It may seem an extraordinary thing, but nevertheless it is a fact, that in some of the towns on the north-west coast of Australia the Japanese form a majority of the population. For instance, at Broome 70 per cent, of the men engaged in the pearling industry are of Japanese nationality. That fact, ought to suggest to honorable senators the danger which lies ahead of us. We shall be very short-sighted indeed if we do not frame a defence policy in accordance with the facts which stare us in the face. I do not wish to play the part of an alarmist, and to suggest that we are in immediate danger of war. I do not mean to insinuate anything of that kind, because I realize that so long as the alliance between Japan and the British Empire continues there is no danger of war with Japan, so far as, we are concerned. But we have to remember the actual- position of affairs in the Far East. Russia lost considerable prestige when she was defeated by Japan, and it is natural to assume that a mighty Empire such as Russia has always been regarded as being by the peoples of the world cannot afford to rest under defeat continuously. It may be that in the near future another war may be brought about in the Far East. There is still another contingency 10 be considered, and that is, that Russia and .Japan may lay their heads together, and come to an understanding, and if they do our position will become worse than it is. So long as there is a possibility of a row ensuing between the Japanese and Muscovites, we are to that extent safe ; but the moment those two powers arrive at a common understanding, then will arise the greatest menace to us as an independent people, and this demonstrates the necessity for taking some such step as Senator Dobson has proposed in this Bill. Suppose that Japan and Russia come to recognise that it is not worth their while to continue glaring at each other and getting ready to come to blows, and’ that it would suit their purpose much better to come to terms and to apportion the territory in dispute in the Far East, directing their attention thereafter to the advancement of their own interests elsewhere. The history of the world has shown very clearly that such alliances as that between Great Britain and Japan are only continued so long as they are of benefit to both parties. The moment an alliance ceases to benefit one of the parties, that party takes the first opportunity of drawing out. It is natural, therefore, to expect that what I have indicated may happen. If Russia and Japan came to an understanding by which Russia was allowed a free hand in Manchuria, whilst Japan obtained a free hand in Korea, the two powers so apportioning that part of the Far East between them, they would then be able to direct their efforts to other parts of the world, and we should be face to face with a very grave danger. For many generations Russia has had a hungry eye on India. She bullied the British Government on the Indian frontier for a long time, and it is only since Japan took a fall out of her that her pressure in that quarter has eased off. But it might be renewed if Russia was free of any anxiety with regard to Japan. If Russia pressed on the British Empire in one direction, it is probable that Japan would press on it in another, and the most likely part of the Eastern world for Japan to direct her attention to would be the northern coast of Australia. If she once got a footing there, we should be in the gravest danger. We offer an excuse to her to attack us in that quarter by having a township, such as Broome, where her subjects are in the majority. She could claim that she had a better right to that part of the Australian coast than the British had. We ought to recognise that danger in time. If she did obtain a footing there, what force could we bring against her in defence of our right to hold this great Continent? We could not do what America is doing - bring a mighty navy around from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We could not make any demonstration in force that would be in any degree a lesson to Japan in the same way as the United States are doing.
– We could send a contingent from the Senate.
– We could send a contingent to augment the 30,000 troops’ which we have, reckoning them at their maximum strength. We might also send the Protector and our other little gun-boats, but it would be the merest farce to regard that as an adequate or sufficient force. Even if we were to make the most presentable appearance possible with our present forces, or any forces that we are likely to have in the future under present arrangements, there would be nothing to prevent Japan from doing what she liked with them. Several honorable senators think that our first line of defence ought to be on the sea. I have heard that repeated over and over again, but I could never see the force of it. Have those honorable senators ever calculated the cost to the taxpayers of Australia of providing a navy worthy of the name and fit to defend us? A modern ‘ battleship, of the Dreadnought type, costs nearly ^2,000,000, and. therefore, the provision of a fleet of battle-ships as a means of defence is entirely beyond the means of the Australian taxpayers. We must remember also how quickly those battle-ships become obsolete, for no sooner is one type established than we hear of some other country laying down an improved type.
– Air-ships are coming in.
– Airships may possibly be the future mode of warfare, but from what I have been able to learn about them-, they will be quite as expensive as ironclads are. Just as enormous sums could be spent on them as are being spent now by the great powers in providing navies. Any one who has given the question a thought must have seen that an Australian Navy is entirely out of the question, and that we must turn elsewhere for an adequate means of defence for the Commonwealth. It would be foolish to delude ourselves into thinking, no matter what scheme is advanced by the Government or what fancy ideas we may have of a future Australian Navy, that we can do anything but turn our attention to a system of defence which it is within our power to establish. We could establish a means of defence that would cost us only just as much as would be sufficient to arm an adequate citizen army in such a way that we could hold this country against any nation that tried to invade it.
– I should like to hear the honorable senator explain that, and the cost.
– It is not very hard to explain, when we remember how a small people like the Boers, with a population not nearly as great as that of the smallest State in Australia, were able to hold their country so long and so well against one of the mightiest Empires of the world. When we remember what was done by that mere handful of people, and consider our .geographical position, a great distance away from other continents, and the fact that we have a population of 4,000,000, we must see that if the manhood of this country were as well trained and as well prepared to fight as the Boers were, not a nation in the world could successfully invade Australia, or land an army strong enough to keep its footing, because no nation has ships enough to bring an army here big enough for that purpose.
– The Boers had no coastline. We have a coastline of 8,500 miles.
– The nation which invaded the Boer’s country had a friendly territory on which to land its troops. That was a distinct advantage to it.
– That ‘ nation had, also, the biggest mercantile marine in the world with which to transport its troops. It had also the greatest navy in the world, and although those ships could not be used against the Boers, the bluejackets from the ships were landed, and were the most successful fighters that England sent to South Africa. Perhaps next to them were our own Australian soldiers. Our troops in Australia number only about 30,000 men, and that strength has only been achieved after an heroic effort on the part of the Commonwealth Government, and after years of criticism in this Parliament. It is only after continued agitation that we have been able to supply sufficient arms for that force. After all our efforts, we have nothing like an adequate force to protect Australia. It is utterly out of the question to expect to defend our enormous territory with such an insignificant force. If so, what other means have we of defending ourselves? We are unable to get a navy of - our own to do it, and there is even some talk of going back on the agreement entered into with Great Britain some years ago, and dispensing with the services of the Aus- ; tralian Squadron. If we intend to hold this country entirely on our own, we shall have to take other means to find sufficient troops. We have up to the present depended upon the volunteer system, and the men have not come forward to volunteer. The troops that we have got are costing this country so much that they are not justly entitled to be called volunteers.
– They are militia.
– I am referring to the volunteers pure and simple, and to what they cost Australia to maintain. In view of the cost of this insignificant force of 30,000 men, it is quite out of .the question for us to expect by the present system to’ raise an army at all adequate for the defence of the Commonwealth. Australia is not at all likely to go in for a standing army of sufficient dimensions for that purpose. The spirit of the times is against any such move. Many of the people of Australia, sooner than ‘face the cost or the danger of a standing army, would be prepared to let the foreigner take the country. The only solution of the difficulty is to have an. adequate national citizen army, based upon compulsory service. I recognise the very great difficulty of bringing that system into effect straight away. Our industrial institutions would suffer, and, therefore, I welcome the proposition in this BiU as the best method of building up a proper system of defence. I admit that we cannot build up an army this year or next year. It will take several years for the cadets to be trained and grow up to be men, but every year a number of boys are reaching manhood, and within the next decade we should have a sufficient number of trained men to warrant us in saying that we could make a very presentable show. We do not need to depend upon theory or our own imagination for guidance in this matter. There are other countries in the world quite as liberty loving and democratic as we are. One of those countries - Switzerland - has put the system into practice. They have adopted the principle of compulsory service with such results that we need have very little doubt that it can be applied in a democratic country, with perfect safety to the preservation of democratic institutions. I propose to quote from the latest authority I could find on the subject, an article written by a Mr. Lynch, a member of the House of Commons, who, with other members and public men, recently visited Switzerland to study the question. I suppose that honorable senators have been supplied, as I have been, with the excellent pamphlet which has been issued by the Herald, and which was written by Lieutenant-Colonel Reay, a gentleman who has done a very great deal to advance this movement. It is really wonderful to notice how Mr. Lynch corroborates most of the statements made in that pamphlet. I shall read a few extracts from his article to prove the success of the Swiss system*, to show that it provides for an adequate military force, and that such a state of efficiency has been reached by the troops’ of the little Republic that the Swiss are perhaps the bestarmed people in the world, according to their numbers. Referring to the rifle club membership, Mr. Lynch says-
The 400-metre range is, I believe, universal in the Swiss rifle clubs, it being considered sufficient for all ordinary practice. Every citizen of military age enrolled in the Army is allowed to keep the rifle supplied him by Government at his own house; and, when he becomes free of the roll, at the age of forty-five, it becomes his property. So quite naturally these voluntary rifle clubs spring into existence - to practise the weapon that hangs on the wall of the parlor at home.
Honorable senators will see that the Swiss system is not compulsory throughout. Youths and adults are required to fulfil a certain term of- service .every year until a certain age has been reached, but after a man has reached, the age of forty-five years his .further service is based on the voluntary system. The writer of the article from which I am quoting goes on to say -
There exists at present nearly two thousand of them, spread about Switzerland - the exact number is 18S1- with a membership of 88,661. These figures, taken in relation to the population of the country - about 3,000,000 souls - are eloquent of the popularity of the practice of shooting over here. England, with a population fourteen times greater, would on these figures maintain no fewer than 26,000’ rifle clubs, with a membership ‘of a million and a quarter. The only assistance given to the clubs by the Swiss Government is half the cost of ‘the ammunition consumed -and a bonus of 2fr., or is. 8d., per member.
Honorable senators will see that the expense involved is more in keeping with a voluntary system than is the expense which has to be met by the Commonwealth. The article continues -
The Swiss have not yet achieved the English Saturday half-holiday; so Sunday is the day most generally set aside for a little diversion at the targets.
Honorable senators will notice that thewriter refers to the shooting practice as a “ diversion.” It is looked upon as. a sport and pastime, and not as labour, and it thus becomes more popular. The article proceeds -
It- is at least possible that by this skilful blending of the two principles - the compulsory and the voluntary principle - the Swiss people may have solved the problem of a citizen army in a democratic and industrial State. These Volunteers drawn up on the Rhine almost at a stone’s throw from the German frontier, represent the’ preliminary tactical training of a considerable proportion of the Swiss Army, just as the voluntary rifle clubs represent the training in musketry “of the bulk of the Swiss male population.
The corps is manned by youths from the sixteenth to the twentieth year - the year when the youth hopes to pass the physical recruiting test; and we are informed that in 1906, when the recruits taken for the Army numbered about 29,000, the number of Volunteers who had passed into the third, or highest, stage of the preliminary training amounted to nearly 7,000. In addition to these corps, there were in the same year fifty-four cadet corps, or corps for boys between their twelfth and sixteenth years, with a membership of over 7,000. But military opinion in Switzerland is divided 011 the merits of the cadet corps, some holding that their tendency is to make a boy stale before he enters upon the more regular courses.
If it has been found to be the actual experience in Switzerland that too much’ practice as cadets makes lads stale before their actual military experience commences, we should be very foolish if we did not guard against that kind of thing from the beginning, and make our yearly training for cadets as limited as possible consistent with efficiency. If we insist upon a continuous training, which is likely to make boys stale, we cannot hope for the success which otherwise we should have a right to expect. If we made the training of the cadets more a pleasure than a labour, we should popularize the cadet corps, and on passing from boyhood to manhood, the cadets would take on their new duties with greater vigour than if they were made stale by the training which they had to undergo under the cadet system. Mr. Lynch further says; -
Without physique no army can be worth very much, and without the spirit that produces Volunteering on a large scale no nation is likely to survive a period of stress. The Swiss military system fosters both these necessary factors, especially in the period preceding the regular military training.
That is very necessary for us to remember. I hope we are going to adopt the system of compulsion, to require our youths to attain skill in the handling of a rifle, but we must not carry the training to such an extreme as to make the system obnoxious to the young men of the country.
– Does the honorable senator really advocate that poor people, who can scarcely obtain a living, should be compelled to send their boys to drill at their own expense?
– If Senator W. Russell had paid close attention to Senator Dobson when moving the second reading of the Bill, he would have learned that the poor parents to whom he refers would not be called upon to pay very much to give effect to the system proposed.
– Would it cost them anything ?
– I believe that it would cost a little, but if common-sense regulations were adopted the boys would not be taken away from their ordinarywork. They could put in the necessary drill in the evenings, on Saturday afternoons, at encampments during holiday, time, or at other leisure moments. I admit that if we took a large number of able-bodied men away from the industries in which they are engaged for any considerable time there “would be danger that our industrial operations would be thrown into confusion.
– Boys could not be got to come from the country districts.
– It would not be necessary for them to do so. I expect that country youths would be trained in the districts in which they lived, just as city youths would be trained in the cities.
– And they would like it.
– They would. The training might be made more of a pastime than a labour to ‘ them.
– Many a country lad would look upon it as a Godsend.
– I dare say that the time passed in company with others in undergoing military training would be regarded by many country youths as a relief from the monotony of country life. I should like to finish the quotation I was making so that honorable senators may learn the opinion of a writer who believes that without physique no army can be worth very much, ‘if we provided exercise for our youths, combined with the scientific development of their physique, we should have a more vigorous manhood in the Commonwealth than we can look for without a system of national physical training. The advantage gained in this way should in itself be worth something to the poor people to whom Senator W. Russell has referred. The opinions of military experts who have investigated the question have been quoted in the Senate from time to .time, and they are all agreed that the health and physique of the manhood of the country is undoubtedly improved by enforced training and drilling of lads at school. Completing the quotation I made, the article continues : -
It is thus at once the expression of the national genius and the guiding and coordinating power behind individual efforts.
The extracts which I have made from this article, and the many authorities who have been quoted by the Senate on other occasions, should be guides to us as to the path we should follow in this matter. The greatest military authorities in the Old Country give this proposal their support, and point to it- as “the only means by which the British Army can be made anything like what it should be. For many years past dependence has been placed on the volunteer system, and it has resulted in failure, as the British Army during the last two generations has never reached its old fighting’ strength. It is nothing like the army that it used to be in ancient times.
– The people have degenerated. Let them have good food.
– Their physique can be improved by drill at holiday times. It will be far better for our youths to be drilled in fresh air than to stand about witnessing football and cricket matches on Saturday afternoons. It will be better for them and more profitable for the country. I am satisfied that if Ave attempted to raise the necessary taxation to give us an adequate force, Senator Stewart would be one of the first to object.
– There is no use in running with the hare and hunting with the hounds in this matter. If we are in favour of providing an adequate defence for Australia it is useless to cry out about the cost of it. It is not. good enough for anyone to howl against the compulsory system unless he is prepared to suggest a better. If Senator Stewart has a superior method to recommend let him by all manner of means give us the benefit of his ideas. I, at all events, am satisfied that the method suggested by Senator Dobson is the only one that is likely to be successful in Australia. We have had sufficient proof of the failure of the volunteer system. Certainly I am not going to bury my head in the sand and fool myself with the belief that we are able to defend Australia with the force we have at present, or with any force that we are likely to have under the existing system. Therefore I give my hearty support to the Bill. So far as I am able to judge of the various proposals that have been made, I think that Senator Dobson’s is the best that ‘ we have had before us. It will not give us a standing army straight away, but with the number of boys who are growing into manhood we shall in time, I am satisfied, have an army that will be a credit to the Commonwealth
– The thanks of the Senate are due to Senator Dobson for introducing this Bill. I question whether any measure has been placed before us which has done so much to bring the Australian people into touch with the defence requirements of “ this great continent. The time has come when the people of Australia must realize that they have to depend upon themselves if they are to provide against the potentialities of the future. We must make plain to them our geographical position and the special dangers to which we are subjected on account of it. At present we are dependent almost entirely upon Great Britain for our defence. But no student of history can come to the conclusion that we have any guarantee that Great Britain will remain at peace for any long period. She is faced by grave dangers created partly by the aggressive policy of the past and partly by her commercial prosperity in the present. There is certainly an uneasy feeling prevalent amongst the people of the Mother Country, and an equally uneasy feeling on the part of foreign nations in relation to the commercial success which the United Kingdom has attained. There is unrest in India and in other portions of His Majesty’s Dominions, and there is danger of Great Britain being brought into a serious conflict by the connivance of some of those Powers which are jealous of her- commercial prosperity. Knowing these conditions and realizing that we have to defend a coast line of nearly 9,000 miles with a papulation scarcely approaching 4,000,000, it is a source of uneasiness that we have practically no standing army and little better than the nucleus of an effective voluntary system. It cannot be said that we are safe so long as we remain in our present position.
We must pay regard to the great changes that have taken place in recent years in Asia. We may regard Japan as affording the most wonderful revelation of national development within the memory of man. Here we see a power second to none in the civilized world-
– Oh !
– Second to none in the civilized world, I will repeat, if we study her history in relation to the recent Russian War. Japan has something even better than a standing army. Her people seem to. be inoculated with something of the old Mahommedan spirit. I venture to say that no other civilized troops - in the world would have done some of the things that we read about as having occurred during the Russo-Japanese War. Not only did the Japanese go to certain death with readiness, but some of their officers even committed suicide rather than endure the thought that they had not done their utmost for their country. China is only just beginning to realize her own potentialities. General Gordon said of the Chinese that, given educated officers, he believed’ they would be the finest troops in the world. They are now being drilled by Japanese and German officers, and will soon realize their strength. What I fear most from Japan is this. Her territory is overpopulated. Her people are energetic; able, and possessed of every aptitude of a great commercial race.
– They are very good hands at cheating.
– I am not going to condemn a great people, who have proved that while they can be brave even to the point of fanaticism, they can also be generous in making terms with a vanquished enemy. When- Japan could have squeezed Russia in regard to the payment of an indemnity after the war, she diplomatically, and I think wisely, realized how far she ought to go, and nobly and generously stayed her hand. I do not forget those characteristics, while I realize that commercially some of the Japanese do not show that probity which I believe the Japanese people as a whole possess. But what we have to realize is that it would be absolutely impossible for this young country, .with its small population, under present conditions, to guard completely against aggression. For many years to come we shall be, to a considerable extent, dependent upon the Old Country. Yet the 11,000 miles of sea that divide us make it impossible for us to lie idle. We ought to commence to build a small navy of om own, and also to establish an army that will, at all events, enable us to hold our own. It is imperative that we should commence to establish a citizen soldiery as early as possible, and, in my opinion, it should be established on a compulsory basis as far as that is practicable. This great work should be started in a proper spirit - with the belief that our young men must be educated not only to be good marksmen, and to be loyal to the country, but also to be like the Swiss, and to realize that we depend upon them for our defence. I suggest to the Minister that, within reasonable bounds, the Government should incur every expense that is necessary, not only in trying to make our citizen soldiers loyal, but also in saturating them with the belief that they are looked upon as our defenders. If that policy is pursued, we shall obtain a very good practical result. I believe that the whole secret of success lies in making the army a popular institution. What is to prevent our achieving that result? In Japan, every boy, like every man, was absolutely fired with the military spirit, in fact, the Japanese were of the one mind. At present, it has, perhaps, the most popular army in the world. How did Napoleon achieve his great success? It was done by means of his great personality: He inspired every man with the feeling that he carried in his knapsack a field-marshal’s baton. He made every soldier realize that he was a Frenchman, and that the duty of a Frenchman was to do all he could to defend his country. It was the same with Frederick the Great. Every man in his army was imbued with the spirit of loyalty to the country. Take, again, the Prussian army whom Von Moltke raised to such a perfect condition. It may be asked: “Surely if compulsory military education would be unpopular, how is it that the whole population of Germany rose as one man?” At that time, the military system was upheld by the German people as a body, but at present that spirit, I am sorry to say. is not so strong. There have been brought to bear certain elements which, to some extent, have weakened, not the military loyalty, but the military patriotism.
– What are the elements ?
– I refer to the Socialists - I do not use that term in an offensive manner - who are studying the conditions of Germany, and interpreting them, to a certain extent, as against the militarism which is engendered there.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the practices of the present Von Moltke have had something to do with that?
-I have read extensively on the subject, which is very complex. I have my own ideas, but it would take a considerable amount of time to state them. What I want to impress upon the Senate is that with a citizen army there must be the feeling that our defenders are doing what the citizens of Australia generally believe to be the best for the welfare and advancement of the country - in other words, a true national sentiment. If we are to have a compulsory military training, the sooner it is begun the better it will be for the country. I realize, however, that the conditions may be such that we may have to wait a considerable time before we can make a beginning. I was sorry that Senator W. Russell made the interjection in regard to the poor man.
– I wanted information.
– Like Senator Pearce, I think that country lads would look upon the movement as a great blessing.
– The first consideration with them is bread.
– I believe that from a physical point of view the lads and young men of Australia would be immensely improved by the conditions to which they would have to submit. If there is a fault in the youth of Australia, it is that they are not amenable to the influences to which the youth of other countries are amenable. I am. not suggesting that that fault is to be found in the youth outside a certain sphere, but here it exists. I venture to think that if we could induce all our young men to devote a certain amount of their time to habits of discipline it would be to the advantage of the Commonwealth.
– Touching the cap?
– I was not thinking of that at all, but referring to that discipline which any organized institution maintains amongst its work people. I want the young men to feel that they are under a master, and have to comply with certain conditions and obey the regulations. . I believe that before long they would realize that it not only enlarged their minds, but also improved their physique. I desire to refer to one matter, which I think bears on this subject, and which I should like Senator Dobson to take up. In addition to a citizen army there is one very important element which we lack. It is well known to those who take an interest in military matters that our greatest trouble is to get efficient and educated officers. In New South Wales the regiments are very far short of their full complement, and instead of the authorities receiving applications for the position of officers, it is just the opposite. To a certain extent that is due, I think, to cause and effect. Let us take the history of the Civil War in the United States. The officers who came to the front and proved themselves to be great generals were almost invariably men who had been educated at West Point. The officers who have come to the front in the United Kingdom during the last few years have nearly all been men who were educated at Sandhurst. West Point is an institution which any person could enter to be trained and examined at a nominal expense. General Stonewall Jackson, General Lee, General Beauregard, and all the great generals who came to the front in the Civil War, were men who had been educated at West Point, and many of them were comparatively poor at the start. It will be generally recognised by honorable senators that those officers gave good value to the people of America for the instruction they received at West Point. It will be of very little use for us to have a citizen army unless we have educated officers to teach the men, and to regulate the conditions under which they shall serve. If the Government would institute a military college, the money would be well spent.In both England and America it is the common practice for many families to give a son to the army or to the navy and thus supply the country with educated officers. In America no one can be appointed an officer unless he has passed certain examinations at West Point.
– I think that the Melbourne University is about to establish a military school.
– I believe that a Chair of Military Science has been established at the Sydney University, but that only touches the fringe of the question. What I want the heads of Australian families to be able to do is to send a son with an ambition to serve his country in that way to a military college or to a training ship, and thus provide the Commonwealth with a. continuous stream of educated officers.
– As a rule, they would rather send their neighbours’ boys.
– I do not share that view. I believe that our military routine has not been popular with the heads of families. I do not intend to blame any General or any Ministry for that result, but there is the glaring fact staring us in the face.
– It is only the system which is at fault, not the men.
– I believe that if the Ministry will devote their ability at once to altering the existing conditions, it will be to the advantage of the Commonwealth. It was only last week that I was conversing with a colonel in New South Wales. He gave me a most distressing account of the feeling which pervades not only the officers, but also the rank andfile, in that State. The sooner the cause of that feeling is done away with the better will it be for the country and the service. I hope that the Ministry will take the hint I have thrown out. I feel confident that any money which was expended upon the establishment of a military institution would be amply repaid by the results accruing.
– What does the honorable senator want the Ministry to do away with ?
– I do not want the Ministry to do away with anything, but to take steps to remedy the grievances amongst military men of all classes, and to see if they cannot establish a satisfactory service.
– That is a big contract.
– Perhaps it may be, but I am one of those who like to face difficulties. I want the Ministry to face the situation. I venture to say that if I were charged withthe responsibility, layman as I am, I would very soon take steps, perhaps not to do all which I should like to do, or all which anybody else could do - I suppose that there are hundreds who could do very much more than I could do, especially military men - but certainly to alter the existing system, and to do away with that dissatisfaction which is now a cankerworm.
– They always were and always will be full of grievances.
– I dare say that that isso.
-The honorable senator is getting away from the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– Perhaps I am, but the question of the establishment of a citizen army dovetails into the question of a compulsory army, and that in turn dovetails into the question of the best way in which that citizen army can be educated, so as to become a factor in the defence of our country.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable ‘ senator that this Bill provides only that boys and youths over twelve and under nineteen years of age shall join and. continue to be members of a naval or military cadet corps, and receive instruction. Although the whole question of defence is a very tempting one for honorable senators to speak on in debating the Bill, it is nevertheless hot strictly relevant to the Bill. We cannot insert in the Bill provisions that would enable us to deal with any complaints that exist at the present time as to the administration of our forces, citizen or otherwise. I ask the honorable senator to confine himself as closely as he can to the subject-matter of the Bill. Honorable senators will recognise at the same time that I do not want to cramp them unnecessarily in their remarks upon the measure, but I do not want a debate to be opened up on our existing military system.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I have completed what I wished to say. I can only again express my thanks to Senator Dobson for bringing this question before the Senate. I look upon it as the most important question that has occupied the attention of the Senate since the initiation of the Commonwealth.
– I join with honorable senators in congratulating Senator Dobson on having brought this matter forward, not only on this occasion, but upon past occasions. I do not think that any honorable senator can accuse me of being a Jingo. I have never considered myself one. There was a time when I deprecated any attempt by Australia to take any part in militarism. It is only the developments in Asia, referred to by Senator Gray, that have converted me to the belief that Australia must be prepared to defend herself. I have never feared, nor do I now fear, the invasion of Australia by any European nation. I believe that we are perfectly safe in that direction, and that even in the event of a European war no nation would turn her eyes with any ill-feeling towards our shores. But I do recognise that in the East there are peoples alien to us in race, religion, and ideals, industrial and social, and that if we believe in our ideals, if we want to establish the industrial Commonwealth which we hope to establish here, we must shut our doors against races so foreign to us as the Asiatic races are. The only doctrine that those races respect is the doctrine of force. Our White Australia legislation is so much waste paper unless we have rifles behind it, and are prepared to back it ‘ up by force, if necessary. I agree with the condemnation of our existing military system voiced by other speakers. No one could be bold enough to say that we are even getting value for our money from it. We spend upwards of£800,000 a year on our Military Forces alone, and we get practically little or nothing for it. The men who sacrifice their time in joining our Military Forces receive scant consideration from the Government and the people of Australia. I look upon those men as heroes. I regard those who give their Saturday afternoons and their holidays in our militia as worthy of all praise for their sacrifice. A few days ago I saw a little incident in the street I live in in Windsor, which brought home to me in a practical fashion the unfairness of our present system. There was a big football match on the St. Kilda Cricket Ground, and a stream of humanity, from the ages of fourteen to twenty-five, was passing down the street. The flower of our young manhood was going down the footpaths in thousands, and coming in the opposite direction was one solitary youth in khaki, struggling to make his way to the station in order to put in his afternoon at drill. He was buffeted from side to side of the footpath, and had at last to take to the road. There was one of our defenders, endeavouring to do his duty to the country, and scarcely able to move along because of the number of citizens who were anxiously rushing to spend their leisure in a different occupation. I thought that was a remarkable commentary on the way in which Australia treats the youth who is prepared to do his duty. It treats him with scant courtesy, and makes him take the road, because that incident is practically an example of what we do to him in other respects. But in time of war that young fellow, who was shouldered off the footpath, would have to stand in the ranks and to defend the others who were rushing on that day to the football match. If this Bill would deny to that crowd of young fellows who were rushing to the match anything that was worth anything to them, I should have some sympathy for them, and might hesitate to put into force these compulsory provisions. But what a travesty it is on the name of sport to designate as sport the actions of those 30,000 or 40,000 people who stood around the football arena hooting and yelling all the afternoon ! That is of no use to them, except, perhaps, to exercise their lungs. I have never heard that the Australian youth is deficient in lung power. He has certainly a fairly good vocabulary, and plenty of air to back it up. Apparently, the only exercise he gets at football matches is that which enables him toextend his vocabulary and his lung capacity.
– There are thousands who play the game, which is a manly game.
– For every hundred youths who play football to-day, a hundred thousand look at them and “ barrack,” talk football, yell football, but never by any means kick a football. The man who first said that the battles of England werewon on the cricket fields of England never meant that they were won by the cricket “ barrackers “ of England. He meant that they were won by the’ men who played cricket. In putting into force these compulsory provisions, we shall not be taking away from the youth of Australia anything that is worth anything to them. It would be a blessing to those youths, I do not say to take every Saturday, but to haul them off by force for a few Saturdays, if necessary, from the football grounds, and give them a few manly exercises on the military field, where they could be. taught to square their shoulders and to carry out military evolutions. Senator W. Russell seemed to think that there was some objection to Senator Dobson’s scheme from the point of view of the youth of the country.
– I think I know something about it, too.
SenatorPEARCE. - I also know something about it, because. I spent my youth on the farms of South Australia, whence Senator W. Russell comes. . I would have looked upon it as a God-send if, for one Saturday in the month, I could have been taken away from the eternal cow or the plough handle, and given a chance on the parade ground.
– It was ease that the honorable senator wanted.
– I .wanted a change, which would have been rest to me. It would be a good thing for the youth of the country if for one Saturday in the month he could be brought into the township and gwen a little military drill.
– The youth has not risen up in protest so far against this proposal.
– I fancy that it is the youth’s father who is ‘ causing the trouble. This compulsory principle would be put into practice with a little commonsense. The youth would not be taken from the harvest field at the harvest time, but would be given his drill *at a time of the year when it would least interfere with farm work. That would be a good thing for the youth. In many farming districts the health of the lads is being seriously interfered with by too much unremitting toil, and this Bill would be a good thing if it only gave them a little recreation. _ Senator Trenwith. - And very often they are kept at work so that the old man may spend the market day in the town, whether he has anything to buy or sell there or not.
– In many cases the parents of the youths who would Le interfered with in the country are well .able to afford the little leisure that would be given to the lads. If there are any people at the bottom of the social ladder who cannot afford the little expense necessary, they are the workers in the cities. But ‘ what expenditure is proposed? There is no provision in the Bill for an elaborate uniform, and I take it that the armament will be provided by the Government. We are proceeding on wrong lines by introducing a uniform for our present cadet corps. A uniform is not necessary. I am glad that Senator Dobson has made provision for naval cadets. I do not share Senator de Largie’s view that it is utterly impossible for us to do anything, on the naval side of our defence. The vital difference between Australia and Switzerland or the Transvaal is that neither of those countries has a sea-board, while Australia has 8,500 miles of it. Neither of those countries has a mercantile marine, “whereas Australia has a very valuable one. Western Aus- tralia has more to lose than any other State has in this connexion, because the other States have railway communication, but, as Commander Creswell pointed out, a raiding cruiser at our ports could immediately hold up all the traffic between the eastern States and the western State. That shows the necessity for some provision for the defence of our mercantile marine, and for training our lads not only in military but in naval drill.
– If the honorable senator continues that theme much longer, he will make Senator Dobson an advocate of the transcontinental railway.
– I have often tried to do so, and failed. Senator Dobson seems to be more willing to give us an army than a railway to carry it. Hints have been thrown out that the Government intend to provide torpedo destroyers - a type of boat which will lend itself to training the youths of our ports. That would be a valuable education to those lads, and of immense assistance to them in their after life. What is there in this proposal which can be repugnant to any honorable senator’s idea of liberty ? We compel our youths to go to school until they are fourteen years of age, or can pass a certain standard of education. Why do we do that? Simply because we recognise that it is essential in the interests of the body politic that every citizen of the country should be possessed of a certain degree of education. If it is necessary that our youths should be trained in the duties which will fit them to be effective units in the industrial army, it is equally essential that they should be taught the duties and responsibilities pf citizenship, one of the responsibilities of which I hold to be the defence of their country, and it is certainly one of the duties of citizenship that they should acquire the ability to defend it in the best manner possible. I have very great pleasure in saying that I shall support the second reading of the Bill.
– I do not wish it to be understood for a moment, from the few remarks I propose to address to the Senate, that I have anything but the warmest admiration for the action taken by Senator Dobson in introducing this measure; but it has struck me as inviting some criticism that circumstances should have so shaped themselves that a measure of this character should be submitted by a private member of the Senate. I know of no matter more important to Australia as a whole, .or of greater importance at this particular juncture, than that of defence. It was one of the particular matters which by the Constitution were transferred absolutely to the Federal authority. We had many promises on the subject, and we had a right to expect that the moment Federation was accomplished some practical steps would be taken to place the whole question of defence on a more satisfactory basis than that on which it was when in the hands of the Governments of the States. But what is the position? The Federation is to-day in its seventh year of existence, and we find that defence matters have been allowed to drag on in such a woeful manner that, as I say, it has been left to a private member of the Senate to bring forward this important Bill. I say that the measure should have been in the hands of the Government long before this.
– I could not induce ex-Senator Playford to take one step towards it.
– Senator Dobson must understand that I am commending him for what he has done; but it is to my mind a very severe criticism upon those into whose hands the administration of the affairs of this country has fallen, that, in the seventh year of the existence of the Commonwealth, this very important defence measure should be submitted forour consideration at the instance of a private member of the Senate. That is one matter to which I wish to direct attention. I find some difficulty as to what my attitude towards this Bill should be, because I am in ignorance as to what the Government intend to do with respect to it.
– We are all equally in ignorance on that point;
– I understand that my ignorance as to that is shared by many other honorable senators. I had expected that when Senator Dobson had launched this Bill the representatives of the Government in the Senate would have indicated the attitude of the Government towards it, would have said how far they could or could not support it, and how far it would or would not dovetail into that vague and mysterious Government scheme of defence, of which we have heard so much and seen so little.
– The honorable senator may not be aware that I have made the statement that the defence policy of the
Government will be announced before Christmas, or before the end of the session.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council does me an injustice when he says I am not aware of that fact. I am aware that during the last six years a similar statement has been current.
– That can scarcely be correct.
– Has the honorable senator noticed that the statement will be made before Christmas - or after it?
– I accept the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the statement will be made before Christmas, but I should like to know which Christmas. It has a very important bearing upon my attitude towards this Bill whether it is the coming Christmas or some other Christmas to which the honorable senator refers. I emphasize the point that this is distinctly a serious matter, in connexion with which delay may involve tremendous loss to Australia. Delay may mean that, perhaps sooner than we expect, we may have to do hurriedly what we should be doing to-day circumspectly and after due consideration. Ever since Federation was accomplished, we have had the assurance of the Federal Government that they have been seriously grappling with this problem. One Minister of Defence after another assured the Federal Parliament that he is calling for reports, taking the matter into consideration, and has prepared a scheme which in due course would be unfolded. The present Minister of Defence, who, I believe, has shown commendable energy in trying to smooth away some of the difficulties with which his Department is confronted, has informed the world that he also has a scheme; but we are still in ignorance as to what it is. I say that the time has arrived when, if the Government is not prepared to grapple with this question energetically, it has become the duty of the Federal Parliament to say that they shall, and must, do so.
– They are sure to do so after the honorable senator’s speech.
– Senator W. Russell is always facetious.
– The honorable senator is a Scotch humorist.
– And, as an Englishman, I may be pardoned if I do not always detect the subtility of the honorable senator’s humour. But this ishardly a subject on which I feel disposed to joke. I express my profound astonishment and regret that a question of this magnitude should for a moment be allowed to pass out of the hands of the Government. Senator Dobson, in recognising our responsibility and the importance of the matter, has rendered a great public service in performing a duty where the Government have so obviously failed. But I do hope that before the Bill finally passes; the Government will give Parliament and the country no mere vague outline of some visionary scheme of defence, but a complete and practical proposal, to which they will invite Parliament to give immediate effect.
– The present Bill, in short.
– I shall be prepared to accept the present Bill; that is to say, its principles command my entire approval.
– I think that they must form the foundation of any effective system of defence.
– That may be so. Senator Dobson, who has given a great deal of consideration to military matters, will recognise that it is desirable to grapple with the military problem as a whole. Whilst I admit that in this Bill he proposes to deal with matters which may well be regarded as the foundation of a military system, the honorable senator will not contend that it comprises the entire system, I think he would be the first to admit that it would be far better, as it certainly would have been proper, if the Government had taken the matter in hand long ago, and submitted a comprehensive scheme of defence. It is not too late yet for the Government to do so, andit would have been very much more satisfactory if we had had an intimation from the representative of the Government in the Senate as to the extent to which this Bill would dovetail with the Government scheme, or how far it was in conflict with it. We should then have known better what to do. At present, the only course open to myself, in common with other honorable senators, is to show how far we approve of the proposals contained in this Bill by voting for it. I still venture to hope - though I admit it is somewhat foolish to do so after the frequency with which such a hope has been deferred - that we are approaching the time when we shall get some disclosure of the Government proposals with respect to defence. If we could have any assurance that it was likely to be made at anearly date, we might, after passing the second reading of this Bill, postpone its further consideration until after the Christmas vacation, in order that with the Government scheme before us we might be in a position to consider whether we should proceed with this Bill, and if so, how far its provisions should be adopted. Senator Dobson will, Iam sure, accept my assurance that I make this statement as one who heartily supports the main principles outlined in the Bill.
– No one who looks into the conditions of Australia to-day can fail to regard the question of defence as a very serious one. I certainly do so, and consequently I find considerable difficulty in taking this Bill seriously. As an Australian who knows practically nothing of other lands, I am particularly anxious that the Commonwealth shall be well defended. I am also very anxious that Australians shall have a full and free opportunity to give effect to their ideals by legislation, without interference by any foreign body. I am also aware of the risks and the grave dan-, gers we run in Australia of an Asiatic invasion. But really, when we begin to con-, sider legislation to provide for the defence of Australia, we should treat the matter a little more seriously than to talk of defending this country with poor little puny youths of thirteen years of age. As art Australian; if there is one thing’ which I. regret more than another it is to witness puny little boys, who have not yet attained the ageof reason, going about with rifles in their hands, jostling each other at railway stations, apparently in the belief that they are out for a lark, and regarding the matter with no seriousness at all.
– In their own way they are serious enough about it.
– They will not remain at their present age.
– I do not say that’ they will, but I say the country is in a very poor position when we put a rifle into the hand of a child thirteen years of age, because the result will be that the child will growup imbued with the jingo spirit, which, I regret, is already being encouraged in our State schools. I have seen the time in Victoria when mere lads, reared under the cadet system of the State, practically ran riot when the jingo spirit was rampant here, because they felt that they were part and parcel of the military system;. They were not permitted to go to South Africa, but some of them, had the opportunity been afforded, would have been willing to go without knowing why.
– All the lads would have done that.
– Some old lads did go, who had never been in a cadet corps’ in their lives.
– I am glad to have heard an elderly and experienced man like Senator Gray say that all the lads in Australia would willingly have done the same.
– But would all the lads in Australia have known what they were going to South Africa for?
– No ; that is another matter.
– Then the honorable senator believes in blind soldiers, who would do the bidding of anybody and everybody who would give them a few shillings a day. I have no. desire that Australia should produce that class of men. I wish to see the young men and not the boys of Australia brought under it system of compulsory training.’ I would start’ where Senator Dobson leaves off in his Bill. I would begin with young men. of eighteen or nineteen years of age, and not with children thirteen yearsof age. Surely it is a weak position to take up to
Say that these lads will, in future, be the defenders of Australia? If so, we should take them out of the army, and put them into the schools to teach them the history of their country, and of other countries, in order that when they attain the status of manhood they will know something of the duties of men.
– All the boys trained under the Bill will go to school.
– Certainly ; but instead of giving their whole time to their studies, they will be obliged to rive a certain time to military drill, and I remind the honorable senator that in some of the States the school age ends at thirteen years. I take very strong exception to some of the provisions of the Bill. . It provides for exemptions which I regard with very grave suspicion. Why did not SenatorDobson specify the exemptions he desires ?
– The exemptions are to be provided for by regulation.
– I am very suspicious of such regulations, because I have an idea that the intention is to compel the boys of the working classes in Australia to provide our soldiers, and not the boys of other classes in the community. Is. it intended that boys going to school or college, or that boys at work for a living should be exempt ? I was rather surprised to hear Senator Pearce ridicule the idea of attending a football match, and suggesting sarcastically that a man should have been presented with the Victoria Cross because he was jostled in a football crowd. Let me point this out to the honorable senator. The men who attend football matches are very often persons who have to work for nine or ten hours a day in factories. It is necessary that they should be afforded opportunities of outdoor recreation at the end of the week. But it appears that in the view of some honorable senators a mere lad, after spending a week in the bad atmosphere of a factory, and going home every night to a stuffy house in a congested suburb, is to be compelled to be a patriot on Saturday afternoons, and to devote his time to drill. The supporters of this measure might as well endeavour to make it compulsory for lads to drill all the timewhen they are not either asleep or at meals or at work, leaving them no time for recreation; Again, many working lads attend schools of various kinds in their leisure hours. I have had to do the same myself. After working all day, these lads devote a large part of their leisure to study, in order to develop their mental faculties, and thereby become more useful citizens. Are such lads to be exempt under this Bill?
– If we exempt those who go to football matches and those who do not, who are to form the army ?
– I am not arguing that we should exempt those who go to football matches. I am simply repelling the idea that there is anything wrong in going to a football match after working in a factory all the week.
– Would it not be quite as healthy for a youth to attend drill in the open air as to go to a football match on a Saturday afternoon?-
– When the honorable senator was a younger man, did he always devote his leisure time to the good of his country ? I have an idea that during the last few days some honorable senators have been wasting their time in a certain place, where, perhaps, they should not have been. I happened to be there myself.
– Let us hope that they did not waste anything more than their time !
– I wish I could say that, but, from private conversations which I have had with one or two of my honorable friends, I am .afraid that it is not so. If it is necessary to compel the working lads of Australia, who spend most of the week in a shop or a factory, to join a military force, why is it not proposed that part of the time which they devote to drill shall be granted by the employers ? Why should not the employers give up for this purpose a couple of hours a week of the time of the lads whom they employ? There is another principle- of the Bill to which I take exception, and which I think is unworthy of its supporters. That is, that if the parents of a boy fail to cause him to join a military force, he can be brought before a Court and fined, and that, after he has been fined for neglecting to attend a course of military instruction, his employer is actually to be turned into a bailiff to . collect the penalty. What does that mean? It means that a boy whose father, .perhaps from conscientious motives, would prefer to pay the fine rather than allow his lad to serve in the army, would nevertheless be marked through a notification being sent to the employer. I have not the slightest sympathy with any part of this Bill. I say that, not because I do not realize the necessity for defending Australia, but because I wish to see the defence of. Australia seriously undertaken, not by its boys, but by its young men, who have reached the age of reason, and- know something about the country in which they live - know that it is worth defending, and know that there is justification for compelling them to devote a certain portion of their time during a certain number of years to military training. I also believe that it is more desirable on other grounds to compel young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two to attend drill than boys. A lad is generally under the control of his parents, but when he reaches the age of eighteen it might be a very good thing in his own interest to subject him to some amount of discipline. But I do sincerely hope that the day will never come in Australia when it will be thought necessary to put into the hands of . any boy who has not reached the age of reason a rifle for the purpose of shooting other people. We have a sufficient number of men physically capable of defending Australia if well organized without dragging in our boys. We should call upon the bone, the muscle and the sinew of Australia to defend our country, leaving the children at school and ureder the care of their mothers.
– I heartily agree with the principles embodied in this Bill. The beginning is always the proper place to start from, and this Bill aims at starting at the beginning. I have no such morbid fear of the puny boy of Australia as has been expressed . by Senator E. J. Russell. The boy of to-day will be the mart of a few years to come. The boy is physically and mentally the hope of the Commonwealth of Australia. We have shown our belief in that fact by the efforts which have been made to perfect our system of education, with the object of fitting our boys to face the duties which they will ultimately be called upon to undertake ascitizens. But whilst in relation to the defence Of Australia, I agree heartily with the principles laid down in the Bill, I am not sure that some of its provisions are quite as elastic or as good as they ought to be. The Bill commences with a boy of twelve years of age. That gives him at least two years before he leaves school. During those years if he is drilled he will, in the majority of cases, become so far disciplined as to give him an appetite to go> forward in the w.OrE that he has taken inhand. He will want to become a better soldier. I believe’ that a system of this kind will encourage ambition amongst our lads. A soldier ought to have ambition. One who had no ambition would be a verypoor soldier indeed.
– Has not a private citizen ambition as well?
– Certainly ; several speeches which we have heard during this debate have shown how thousands of our citizens display their ambition on a Saturday afternoon by going to holloa themselves hoarse to the kicking of a football in the air. That is the kind of ambition that seems to be’ fostered amongst some of our citizens. Not that I have any antipathy to football. I do not frequent these games myself, but if a man chooses to go there he is quite welcome so far as .1 am concerned. The Bill provides that a boy having commenced his drill at the age of twelve shall by compulsory regulation continue until he reaches the age of nineteen. I agree with Senator E. J.’ Russell that between the ages of eighteen and twenty -five we get the bloom of our soldier life. A man at that age is prepared to face anything. “Under such a system our- young men having gone through their disciplinary course will be well trained in the arts of war. I see no hope for us in Australia being able to defend ourselves unless we adopt some scheme of compulsory training in regard to our lads. I suppose that a good many people are still saturated with affection for the old voluntary system of England. Many of the fathers of to-day will say in regard to such a proposal as this, “ Oh, you are going back to the old days of the press-gang.” Well, we should have to return to such a system if serious trouble came to Australia. Should we not have to turn to the citizen life of our nation . to defend the vital interests of the country against invasion? Therefore I say that the principle of this Bill does not in any way interfere with the liberty of the subject as properly understood.
– This Bill compels children, but not men.
– The Bill compels children because it is wise in its premise. It recognises that the children will be the men and the women of another generation, and that in the course of a few years we shall have built up a citizen army. Suppose that we commenced now. to train every boy between the age of twelve years and the age of nineteen years. At the end of seven or ten years - and ‘that is a very short period in the life of a country or a nation - we should have a host of young men able, not only to shoulder a musket, but also to shoot straight. That is the kind of force we need in Australia. The Bill lays the foundation for the creation of that force,, and it practically provides for a continuity of system. If we enact this Bill, the men who will take our places fifty years later will have undergone a military training, and all those by whom they will be surrounded, and who are not incapable for one reason or other, will also be fitted to take their place in the military ranks. Would not that be an infinitely preferable system to ‘ a standing army ? Suppose that we had to raise an army to defend the country from an invasion by the people whom most persons ‘fear, but whom I do not fear, and will not, at any rate for some time to come. Like Senator Pearce, I think that there is no possibility of any trouble coming to’ Australia through a European power.
– A complication between the United Kingdom and another power might involve us.
– I do not think it would render it necessary for us to .shoulder a gun. If we were to compel our lads of eighteen or nineteen years of age to undergo a military training, we would not have a sufficient army, and we could not afford to maintain an adequate and efficient standing army. Consequently, . the idea of defending Australia with a standing army is quite beside the question. I believe that the ‘Bill lays down the proper course for us to take. Senator W. Russell made a point which I think might- receive a little consideration in Committee, and that is in- regard to the . time during which boys may be taken away from their work.
– Or studies.
– I. do not think that boys will be .taken much from their studies, but there is a possibility of the work of boys being interrupted! I believe that those ‘ whose interests would be largely dependent upon the successful resistance of invasion ought always to be large contributors to a military system of that kind. I do not anticipate that it would interfere with the mental development of the boys, and there is no possible chance of its interfering with- their physical development, except beneficially. ‘ I am satisfied that- itwould afford pleasure to any member ‘ of the Senate to watch our volunteer artillerymen when they are doing their drill, as it really is an object-lesson. They would find that every provision is made for the physical development of the young fellows. In my opinion, a system of military discipline develops a person mentally more than do a great many of the pursuits into which . lads may drift. Therefore, I am prepared to support the second reading of this Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Trenwith) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071107_senate_3_41/>.