3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I crave -the indulgence of the Senate whilst I make a brief intimation. This morning the majority of the members who usually sit on your’ left, sir, held a meeting, at which, with considerable regret, they accepted the resignation of Senator Sir Josiah Symon as leader of the Opposition, and, following upon that, they paid me the compliment of inviting me to accept the vacant position. In making that brief announcement, in courtesy to the Senate, I only desire to express the hope that greater unity of action on this side may lead to the more satisfactory and expeditious despatch of business, and,, further, that my occupancy of the position will not at any time tend to disturb that good fellowship which has existed in the Chamber, even in the most strenuous party conflicts.
– I extend to my honorable friend the most hearty congratulations upon his election to the exalted position vacated by Senator Symon. It has been a source of much gratification to me that he has acted in the capacity of deputy leader of the Opposition for a very considerable time. It has been a great pleasure to deal with my honorable friend, knowing that his tactics have always been of the fairest and most straightforward character, and his conduct in that office has been distinguished by characteristic ability. I have very great pleasure in offering my congratulations to him to-day. At the same time, I do not see that, from my stand-point, there is verv much to be gained by that unity of the party to which he has referred.
– On behalf of the party I represent here, 1 have very much pleasure in conveying our congratulations to Senator Millen on receiving the honour which, has been bestowed upon him, because I am certain that every member of that and every other party cannot help but recognise his marked ability, industry, and fairness in all his transactions here. I hope that he will live long and enjov good health in the position of leader of the Opposition.
Report presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Acting-Clerk.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I desire to know why the paper relative to the three lowest tenders for the mail contract has not been printed?
– It has been printed for ‘ another place, I think.
– I may inform SenatorStewart that the paper is of so. insignificant a character that no one would think of recommending that it -should be printed. It merely gives the amount of each of the three tenders. It contains no other information.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to call the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to a paragraph in this morning’s newspaper, headed “ Customs Administration: Proposed System of Inspectors,” and containing the following statement -
It is. said that an overhaul of the methods’ pursued in some of the other capitals would reveal leakages which would parallel those discovered at Adelaide.
Have the Government any knowledge of those leakages or a grave suspicion that they are occurring?
– I cannot claim to possess any personal knowledge on the subject, but if my honorable friend will give notice of the question I shall consult my honorable colleague, and see if there is any justification for the statement referred to.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence some questions relative to alleged friction between the Commandant in Western Australia and the rifle clubs, and I desire to know if he is in a position to give the Senate any information on the subject.
– After the interim reply given to the questions, I caused inquiries to be made at the Department of Defence, and have been furnished with the following statement-
With reference to the question asked by Senator Pearce, on the 15th November, concerning the relations between the Commandant of Western Australia and members of rifle clubs, the Minister directed the Commandant’s attention to certain statements in the local press, and is now in receipt of the following telegram from Lieut. - Colonel Le Mesurier - “Have sent circular’ to all rifle clubs requesting a written statement re alleged friction. On receipt of replies, will forward full report.”
On the receipt of the full report, if the honorable senator pursues the question, I shall be very glad to give him the information.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, what was the amount of subsidy asked by the Orient Company in their tender of last year for the carriage of mails, &c, between Australia and ‘the United Kingdom? Also, did the conditions of the tender include the ships calling at Brisbane without any additional subsidy? And further, were the . conditions in the tender regarding class of ships, speed, and freight considered by the Government, as favorable to the producers, and people of Australia generally, as those embodied in the contract just agreed to by the Senate?
– I am hardly, in a position to completely answer the questions, but I find that on the11th July, 1906, the Secretary to the Department prepared the following statement -
Clause 7 of the conditions of tender dated 31st of January,1906, provides : -“ Except in the case of the tender that is accepted by the Postmaster-General, no information whatever shall be given with respect to any tender (except as to the amount of the three lowest ten- . ders then under consideration) or with respect to the . person or persons by whom any tender was made.”
In accordance with this provision, I have to state the amounts of the three lowest tenders as follows-
A (The tender recommended to Parliament),
£125,000; B, . £150,000; C, £185,000.
I think it was well known at the time whom the letters a, b, and c represented. As regards the other information for which the honorable senator has inquired, if it is possible to disclose it, having due regard to the terms of the advertisement, and he will give notice of a question, I shall cause further inquiry to be made.
– I desire fo ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if on the last occasion of calling for tenders for a mail contract, any agreement was entered into by the Federal Government not to disclose the names of the tenderers, either when a tender was finally accepted, or at any other time?
– The last advertisement contained a clause similar to that which I have just quoted from the advertisement of 1906. I made a special point of this matter when I was dealing with the question yesterday.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has yet received from the Department of Trade and. Customs the information which yesterday he promised to endeavour to get for me?
– I have consulted the Department, to whom my honorable friend has given a very big order. The matter is now under investigation, and the result will be made known to him as early as pos-, sible.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, without notice, if he has yet received any reply to the query I put regarding a charge of sweating, which was urged against the Department in Western Australia some time ago by members of the State Parliament and others?
– The inquiries I promised to institute have been made, and the Department of Defence has furnished me with the following statement -
With reference to Senator de Largie’s question on the 13th November, as to whether Federal uniforms are being made under sweating conditions in Western Australia - as might be . inferred from a- statement that appeared in the Western Australian Hansard - this Department is now in receipt of a telegram, as follows, from the Military Commandant, Western Australia - “ Have interviewed Troy, who states it all is a mistake. His statement was in connexion with State railway uniforms. He is’ satisfied that Commonwealth contract conditions are satisfactory. If Minister desires, Troy will write a letter to that effect.”
Schedule of Wages
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow - 1 and 2. There is no power at present to compel compliance with the course suggested, but every effort will be made to give the widest publicity to the scale of fair rates of remuneration, hours of labour, &c, to be observed by the manufacturers of agricultural implements and distillers.
– Arising out of the answer, may I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government have not the same, or greater, power to cause these regulations and instructions to ‘be issued, as they have to suspend an Act of Parliament that would operate on the 1st January?
– The cases are by no means analogous. The matter that my honorable friend refers to involves the entry into a man’s premises, and the posting of notices there. Unless specific authority is given, a power of that kind can only be exercised with the consent of the parties interested. I point out again that the Government will give every publicity to the” scale of wages referred to.
-Arising, out of the answer, will the Government politely ask the various manufacturers who are advantaged by the protectionist policy Of this country whether they will be good enough to place the award of Mr. Justice Higgins, and the schedule of wages drawn up by the Minister of Trade and Customs, in their various establishments, together with lists of the names and ages of their employes, &c. ?
– I shall be very happy to bring the honorable senator’s ‘suggestion under the notice of my colleague.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the Government will cause the information set out in Senator Findley’s first question to be printed and posted up at the post-offices in the particular localities affected?
– The honorable senator’s suggestion is a good one, and . certainly within the competence of the Government to carry out so far as their legal powers are concerned, but the honorable senator will notice that the terms of Senator Findley’s question go very much further than does his suggestion. I shall be happy to confer with my colleague regarding it.
– Arising out of the answer, do not the Excise provisions bring the factories within the control of the Minister, and is it not within the Minister’s power to enter those factories for any purposes . connected with the collection of Excise?
– The Excise Act of 1 90 1 gives considerable powers to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and enables him to do many things set forth, but does not -include the posting up of notices of this kind. Under the terms of. the Act, the questions of licences, inspection of books, and kindred matters are well within the jurisdiction of the
Minister, but there are no provisions that would justify the posting up of notices such as have been suggested.
Postmaster : Cue - Telephone Exchange : Millicent - Suspended Officer : Brisbane - Actions by Dismissed Public Servants -Sydney General Post Office:undermanning - Allotments at Eucla.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
ask asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGenesal, upon notice -
When will the arrangements which are in progress for establishing a telephone exchange at Millicent, South Australia, be completed?
– The reply furnished to me by the Department is that the matteris awaiting the provision of the necessary funds. I understand that application is being made to the Treasurer for a sum out of the Treasurer’s advance.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and the desired information will be supplied as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Minister make inquiry as to the truth contained in the statements published in the Sydney Morning Herald of Wednesday, 20th November, as to the unsatisfactory conditions under which the employes in the Post Office, Sydney, are subject to giving specific replies to the specific charges preferred?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General has to-day seen the paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 19th November, to which the honorable senator proba-bly refers, and will cause full inquiries to be made in the matter.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon ototice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The total area is11/2 acres.
Penalties for Late Deliveries
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Tales specified in the contracts for such late deliveries ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Inquiry is being made, and the desired information will be supplied as early as possible.
– To-morrow ? Senator BEST. - I cannot say.
.- I move-
That, to meet the requirements of section 20 of the Constitution, leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the Senate’s last sitting in the year 1907 to the date of its first sitting in the year 1908.
When you, Mr. President, asked whether this motion should be treated as formal or not, I called “ not formal,” because, while its purpose is well understood within the Senate, it may not be so obvious to the outside public. Section 20 of the Constitution provides that -
The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two successive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.
It is the general anticipation of the Senate shortly to adjourn until some time in January. There is a great and recognised difference between an adjournment such as we propose and an ordinary prorogation at the end of the year. If my interpretation of section 20 is correct, it would follow, if the Senate adjourned at any time for two months, that the seat of every senator would under that section, if not absolutely become vacant, at any rate be open to challenge. If there is any doubt as to the reading of the section, it is better to be sure than sorry. I tremble to think of the inconvenience to which all the State Parliaments would be subjected if suddenly called upon to fill the places of those I see around me. For that’ reason I have submitted the motion, and I have made this short statement because I wish the matter to be clearly understood outside.
– I do not rise for the purpose of opposing the motion. There is no doubt that contingencies might arise, the consequence of which might be that the Senate would not meet for two months, but I hardly take the view that has been submitted by Senator Millen. I agree that prevention is better than cure, and that if there is any possible doubt it can be at once met and cured by the carrying of this motion. At the same time to admit a proposition of this kind seems to strike a blow at the powers of adjournment of the Senate. The Senate if it thinks proper may adjourn for one, two, three, or four months. That is an inherent power. Section 20 of the Constitution declares that the place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of a session he, without the permission of the Senate, “ fails to attend the Senate.” “ Fails “ clearly means that he must wilfully or negligently, or through illness or other innocent or blameless cause, fail to attend. But if the Senate is not sitting, it surely cannot be alleged against him that he is negligent in his attendance during the period of adjournment or thathe wilfully or even innocently absents himself, because he would not have the opportunity of attending.
– The failure is not on his part.
– That is so. The failure arises because the Senate is not sitting to give him the opportunity to fulfil his duties.
– How can he attend when the Senate is not sitting?
– He cannot be said to “ fail “ to attend in that case. In these circumstances the .. carrying of the motion can hardly be read as a precedent against us, or as an admission that such a motion is necessary ; and if Senator Millen thinks that it should be passed for purposes of greaten prudence, I am not going to offer any serious opposition to it.
– I hope that the motion which apparently is about to be carried will not be in anyway regarded as a precedent, because it carries with it a dangerous possibility. A member of the Senate may happen to be away without leave for a fortnight or a month, and the Senate may by resolution adjourn for such additional time as would make his total absence two months or more. If section 20 of the Constitution were to be interpreted strictly, that senator would lose his seat.
– Who interprets the section ? We do not.
– In the last resort it would have to be determined by the High Court. On the other hand, may I point out that it is . quite possible that in introducing this section the framers of the Constitution gave another meaning to it. If we were at liberty, so far as each senator’s individual seat is concerned, to adjourn the Senate for more than two months, it would possibly mean that the Senate itself would have it in its power to refuse to do any work, or even to sit at all. I therefore suggest that the Convention properly considered that it would be undesirable that the Senate should by any motion of its own adjourn for a longer period than two months. Otherwise the Senate might adjourn for such time as to render itself absolutely useless as part of our bi-cameral system. I am glad that_ Senator Millen has moved the motion, if for no other reason than to draw attention to this important point. The section should be in the Constitution as a deterrent, to prevent the Senate ceasing of its own motion from, taking any further part in our legislative work.
Senator Major O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [3.0]. - I do not think that this motion should be passed without the opinion being expressed that it is unnecessary. Otherwise it might lead to the assumption, that it was absolutely necessary, and that the interpretation put upon the section by Senator Millen should be followed in all . cases. I do not acquiesce in the necessity for the motion, however desirable it may appear to some honorable senators.
– If the honorable senator chooses he can move to except Senator O ‘Loghlin.
– I d I do not wish any exception to be made. In addition to the fact that we can hardly be called upon to attend when the Senate is not sitting, there is the further fact that if we carry a motion that the Senate adjourn for two or three months, that in itself will be a permission to honorable senators.
– Hear, hear. The adjournment is a permission.
– It It seems common-sense to say that, if the Senate adjourns for two months, that is a permission to every honorable senator to be absent for that period, and, therefore, complies with section 20.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.2]. - As we are rapidly approaching the pantomime season I do not see why we should not have a little bit of fun even in so austere a body as the Senate; and if Senator Millen submits a proposal that we may regard from a comic opera stand-point, I think that we should tender him our most respectful thanks for his effort to enliven the tedium of our labours.
– That is disloyalty to the honorable senator’s leader.
– My leader is a numerous body - the people of New South Wales. As to anything else that Senator McGregor may be referring to, I know nothing. I was not asked to participate in a coterie.. I entirely agree with my honorable friend, the Vice-Pre^ sident of the Executive Council, that, clearly, a member of the Senate cannot come within the purview of the section of the Constitution affecting the absence of senators if the Senate is not sitting. If the Senate is not in session it is impossible for a senator to attend. If the doors are locked, and the President is not in the chair of the Senate, how on earth can any senator put in attendance? On broad grounds I should say that the motion is a. joke. But there is the other stand-point which has been mentioned in the discussion - that the carrying of ‘the- motion might afterwards be regarded as establishing a precedent making it compulsory for a senator to obtain leave to be absent when the Senate does not permit his attendance. It seems to me that there are possibilities of humour connected with thismatter which are admirably calculated to provide mirth for such authors as Gilbert and Sullivan, if they were now writing comic operas, and which might induce them to invent a new scheme for a Federal Senate Comic Opera ! If the motion is going to be carried, I add my protest to that of Senator Best, and hope that this jocularity will not be taken as establishing a precedent in any way by which hereafter honorable senators may be penalized, or sought to be penalized, for their absence when the Senate has decreed that they shall not attend.
– I think that there is more in Senator Millen’s motion than Senator Neild would give credit for, and I am rather surprised at the attitude taken up by the Government. Early this year it was absolutely necessary for the Senate, to meet in order that there might be a session in compliance with the Constitution. The Government were not then prepared to go on with business, but they did not ask us merely to adjourn. They prorogued Parliament ; and this is the second session we have had this year. We were led to believe that that course was necessary in order that honorable senators might retain their seats. I think that Senator Millen has done a wise thing in moving in this matter, and I shall support the motion.
.- I think that the motion ought to be amended. It contains the words “to meet the requirements of section 20 of the Constitution.” Any one would be led to believe from that that we were perfectly sure of what those requirements were. But even Senator Millen has expressed himself as being doubtful.
– I have no doubt.
– I have considerable doubt. At any rate, by adopting the motion, we shall be putting an interpretation on the section which perhaps it is not capable of bearing. That would be a very unwise thing to do. Probably the best course would be for me to move that all the words after “ That “ down to and inclusive of the word “Constitution” be left out.
– Before the honorable senator submits an amendment, I wish to draw attention to standing order 47, which provides that -
Leave of absence may be granted by the Senate to any senator on motion after notice stating the cause and period of absence ; and such motion shall have priority over other motions.
Therefore our own Standing Orders require that the cause for granting leave shall be stated.
– I can attain my object by moving to omit the words which I have indicated, with a view of inserting the words “for the purpose of the more efficient conduct of public business.”
– It would suit the honorable senator’s purpose if he moved to insert the words “for the purpose of avoiding any difficulty that may arise under section 20.”
– I move-
That the words “ to meet the requirements of section 20 of the Constitution “ be left out.
– In view of the wording of the Constitution, it is not necessary to state the grounds of leave.
– Strictly speaking, the Constitution must govern rather than our Standing Orders. But we have a standing order making provision that the cause and period of absence shall be stated.. Of course, if it comes to a strict question ofinterpretation, I have no doubt that the words of the Constitution, so long as they are followed, will be quite sufficient irrespective of what our Standing Orders provide.
– It is just as well that we should not run counter to our Standing Orders or put obstacles in the way of those senators who are already away on leave of absence. If we vote a further leave of absence we may bring about a state of affairs that would affect their position.
– It could not affect them.
– Can there be two periods of absence for which leave is granted for a senator? Can a fresh leave be given until a former one has expired ?
– The second motion would simply be superfluous to some extent.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Constitution : Book-keeping Section - New Protection : Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act : Schedule of Wages - Post and Telegraph and Customs Departments : Undermanning : Sydney General Post Office - Federal Capital Site - Western Australia: Docking Accommodation for Warships - Wireless Telegraphy - Tasmanian Cable - State Debts - Steam-ship Service: Victoria and Singapore - Defence P olicy - The Opposition : Parties in Senate - . Marine Survey : Western Australia - Early Closing of Post and Telegraph Offices - Bicycle Industry.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through all its stages without delay.
– I had anticipated that the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in moving the motion of which he had given notice, would give, some information as to the course he proposes to follow with regard to this and other business before the. Senate. I have no wish to occupy time unnecessarily, but I ask the honorable senator whether it is his intention, should the Standing Orders be suspended, to go right through with this Bill without waiting until the Senate is made aware of the fate of another . measure in which honorable senators are interested. Perhaps the honorable senator will indicate to what stage he proposes to carry the Supply Bill.
– I do not propose to take the third reading of the Supply Bill until the measure to which the honorable senator has referred has been dealt with in another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– I take this opportunity to make brief reference to two subjects, which I think are of importance. Some months ago I reached a certain stage in bringing particularly under the notice of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, the question of the operation of the bookkeeping section of the Constitution.
Without repeating all that I said on the subject, I may say that I pointed out that the system of protection, which we must admit seems to be the settled policy of a large majority of the people, is directly affected and ‘hindered by the operation of the section referred to. I venture to say -that no one who gives the matter any consideration will dispute that conclusion. Most of the citizens of the various States are concerned in the financial requirements of the States in which they reside, and the operation of the bookkeeping section is such as to invite the citizens of each State to consider whether by purchasing imported goods, rather than those made in Australia, they would not materially add to’ the revenue of the State in which they reside without pecuniary loss to themselves. I ‘ intimated that the time might come when the citizens of a particular State might be definitely advised to adopt one of two courses, either to purchase only imported goods subject to a revenue duty, and the revenue from which would be allocated under the bookkeeping section to the State in which, the goods were consumed
– In what way would the individual consumer be in a position to do that?
– Every consumer, I imagine, is a-ware that , if he purchases imported goods he directly benefits the revenue of the State in which he resides to the extent of three-fourths of the duty imposed upon those goods.
– How would- he know that the goods he purchases were imported, and were not made in the Commonwealth ?
– He could easily ascertain whether the goods he purchased were imported. He might demand from the vendor that he should be given imported goods. I do not wish Senator de Largie to misunderstand me, and to think for a moment that I am recommending such a thing. I am merely pointing out the danger.
– I think there is no danger. Tasmanian people often purchase goods in Victoria, and take them across to Tasmania.
– I am referring to the alternatives, which in future might be placed before the citizens of the various States. I have said that in. order to advance the revenue of his own State, and consequently diminish the amount of State taxation imposed upon him, a citizen of a particular State might be induced to purchase only imported goods. No one desires that, or would ask for it, but the other alternative would, perhaps, be still more un-Federal. The citizen might be invited to purchase only articles made in his own State, in order to promote the industries carried on in the State, and so add to the number of persons employed in those industries, and thereby relieve the whole of the citizens of the State from a certain amount of taxation. By promoting the industries carried on in his own State he would add to the taxable ability of the State to meet its financial requirements. Every thinking citizen will be forced to consider these alternatives as a result of the operation of the bookkeeping section. That is a summary of what I have said before on the subject. I point out further that every Treasurer of the Commonwealth has known that the operation of the bookkeeping section of the Constitution involves a distinct loss, which is not recoverable, and which apparently is inevitable to every State that is not largely a distributing State. These leakages are admitted, and I am sorry to say that they are inevitable. In other words, a great deal of the goods imported from abroad is consumed in a State to which they were not imported in. the first instance, and under such circumstances and conditions that they cannot be traced. No honorable senator will- deny that that is unfair.
– It is possible that the law of averages may equalize matters.
– I am pointing out the difficulties. Every Federal Treasurer has recognised that so long as the bookkeeping section operates, we cannot stop what I have referred to. I venture to say that almost every Treasurer of the Commonwealth has made a more or less determined effort to prevent the leakage referred to, and to see that each State is credited with the revenue to which under the Constitution it is entitled, and would certainly get if the bookkeeping section could be more effectively enforced. I say that (the Treasurers have failed .in that effort. Taking up Senator Trenwith’ s interjection, I may say that within the last two or three months the Premier of the State of Tasmania, which is one of the States that suffers because it is not largely a distributing State, made an effort to have a fixed sum agreed to by the various States as the total compensation payable to Tasmania under the bookkeeping section. Having followed the matter up for many years, and knowing what the amount was and all the circumstances, I venture to say that the request made by the Premier of Tasmania was a perfectly fair one. I am disclosing no confidence when I add that the request was indorsed by the present Federal Treasurer. Naturally, as a Treasurer, the honorable gentleman expressed the opinion that such a solution would be acceptable to him, as it would save an infinity of trouble, and he also said that he regarded the request as a fair one. Difficulty arose from the fact that the Treasurer had to admit that he could not enforce agreement with the payment proposed upon (the Governments of any of the other States. It then became a question of whether the” Governments of the other five States would agree to permit the Federal Treasurer to pay the Tasmanian Government the amount stated. I regret to say that one or more of the States refused, arid the matter is to-day as unsettled as ever it was. I /turn now to another aspect of the question, in connexion with which I can appeal to Senator Best, who was at one time in charge of the Customs Department of Victoria. I am” perfectly certain that at the present time the operation of the book-keeping section involves the employment of a number of officials in the Customs Department of the Commonwealth whose services but for .the operation of that section would not be required. I have made some inquiries on the subject, and it may surprise honorable senators to learn that I do not think I exaggerate when I say that if the book-keeping section were clone away with the services of one-third of the total number of officials in the Customs Department would be rendered unnecessary. Not only the Customs Department, but every other Department taken over by the Federation, is affected by the operation of that section. That was made plain only the other day in connexion with the long-postponed adoption of a uniform Federal stamp. It was intimated that there are difficulties in the way of the adoption of a uniform Federal stamp, and they are created by /the operation of the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. It was pointed out that in order to comply with its provisions as affecting the revenue of the various States we could not have a uniform Federal stamp.. This may be but a small matter, but it indicates the wide-spread effect of the bookkeeping section throughout every Department of the Commonwealth taken over from the States. It operates as a bar and a hindrance, prevents absolute justice and prevents also many economies and facilities in carrying on the Departments taken over from the States. I endeavoured to get a return showing approximately the additional cost imposed on the Federation by the operation of the bookkeeping section. I arn sorry to say I could not get such a return, because, as I have already intimated, its effect extends to so many Departments that a complete and accurate investigation of the loss caused was almost impossible. But I assure the Senate without hesitation that it represents a very large sum of money. I know there are answers to these contentions. I shall be told that one or more of the States would suffer if we had, as we should have, an ideal Federal distribution of revenue.
– Two States would suffer largely.
– I do not think so. I believe that at the present time Western Australia would be the only State that would suffer largely. Of course, no honorable senator desires to do any injustice to “Western Australia. The condition of things in ‘that State has been a bar to the adoption of the ideal and essential Federal principle; but, in deference to whatever opinion honorable senators from Western Australia may express, I believe conditions in that State are becoming rapidly more normal.
– They are very far from being normal yet.
– I shall not dispute with Senator de Largie about details, but if the honorable senator looks at the latest figures he will find that conditions in Western Australia are rapidly approximating the normal conditions that obtain in the other States.
– Western Australia would still lose nearly £300,000 according to last year’s figures.
– I think the honorable . senator will find that the amount would not be so much. He has overlooked the fact that I do not suggest that what I propose should apply to Excise revenue, and the £300,000 would cover Excise as well as Customs revenue.
– We do not collect Excise revenue in Western Australia, except, perhaps, a little on cigars and beer.
– It is not much to the credit of Western Australia that she should collect no Excise, because the collection of Excise indicates the support of local industries. The admission is one which I did not ask Senator Pearce to make. However, a considerable amount in Excise, not only on tobacco, but also on spirits, is collected in Western Australia, and th’e whole of the money so collected must be deducted from the ,£300,000 mentioned by Senator Pearce. While I wish to make no reference to Western Australia to which the honorable senator or any one else can take exception, I mav be allowed to say that a considerable amount of revenue is collected in that State on the consumption of spirits.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that permanent Excise should be exacted if we are to have a common purse?
– No. A fairly large amount of Excise revenue goes to the State of Western Australia, as it does to every other State, and is really not affected by my proposition. So far as I know, no other Federation in this world has ever adopted the bookkeeping system. In America it was not thought of. In Canada it was unnecessary.
– But it is provided for in our Constitution.
– The framers of ‘ the Constitution did not contemplate that the provision should continue longer than five years, and that period ended in October last. Section 93 begins with the words, “During the first five years,” and its framers clearly had in their minds a definite term of five years, in which certain inequalities might be smoothed over, and during which Parliament might provide a fair and equitable method. It was because the operation of the provision, ended in October last, so far as the Constitution indicates the intention of its framers, thai I brought the matter before the Senate then. Of course, the Parliament can at any time now provide that the distribution of the revenue shall be carried out on Federal lines. If it were necessary in making such provision to have particular regard to the finances of some State, I should be the last senator to object, so long as the proposed arrangement was in any way reasonable. The Constitution gives facilities for effecting such an arrangement. If, for instance, the Parliament re- pealed the section to-morrow, and decided at last in favour of a proper Federal distribution of the revenue, it could at once meet any apparent act of injustice to a State by exercising its authority under another section.
– A State might object to receive help under such circumstances.
– I do not know what the honorable senator refers to.
– I understood the honable senator to be referring to section 96, which enables the Parliament to give financial assistance to a State in certain circumstances.
– I hope that that provision will never be used in order to bolster up the bookkeeping section. I shall always oppose the making of a grant to Tasmania while the bookkeeping provision is in operation. If the repeal of the bookkeeping provision were to* act harshly to another State, the Parliament could consider the circumstances of that State. I believe that a large number of honorable senators agree with me that the bookkeeping provision ought to be repealed. Until it is repealed we shall never be a Federation, and further, its very existence is a danger to that principle, which I believe we are all prepared to carry out as far as we can, and that is to give practical support and help to the industries of our own country. I make that statement quite apart from free-.trade or protectionist principles. The operation of the bookkeeping provision is in direct antagonism to those principles which we should all like to see in force. So long as it operates it is a danger. It is an active inducement to consumers not to support Australian industries. And further, it is a positive reward to the citizens of those States who desire to consume imported articles. I have brought up this question again because it is of grave importance. I tell Senator Best that in my opinion there is no question left unsettled by this Parliament which is of greater importance ; that is a question which we derive directly from the Constitution. I hope that before the end of this session we shall receive from the Ministry what I have often tried to elicit - a direct statement of their views on the question of the bookkeeping provision, and the attitude which they intend to adopt. I desire now to make a brief reference to the question of the Excise duty on harvesters, about which I have not spoken hitherto, although it has been brought up here several times. I ask the
Government to say whether they have sufficient doubts as to the validity of the Har- ‘ vester Excise Act to prevent them from attempting to put it in force. Either they have to admit that their doubts as to its validity are so strong that they dare not attempt to enforce the Act, or they have to admit that they are carrying on the method of legislating by regulation to a vicious extreme, for that is exactly what the present condition of affairs suggests to me.
– They cannot carry regulations to a vicious extreme.
– On many occasions here we have taken objection to the tremendous power, by way of regulations, given by a Bill to the Ministry of the day. i suppose that there is no honorable senator who does not object to that system being carried to an extreme limit. The present situation seems to me to suggest an extension of the system. Parliament distinctly legislated on the question of collecting Excise duties on harvesters, but the Government say that they decline to enforce the law. The Government, instead of framing regulations to give force and effect to the Act, have assumed the power to nullify the law. It has been said - and the argument is illusory - that the object which we all had in view when we passed the Excise Harvester Bill was not the exaction of a penalty, but the compelling of a certain course of procedure. With that I entirely agree, but that is not a criticism that applies only to that law. In at least half-a-dozen Bills we have enacted certain offences, and in a simple paragraph imposed a penalty of £500 for the commission of an offence. Could we say, “ We put in the penalty for other reasons? What we really desired was that the public generally should comply with the provisions. We did not mean to impose the penalty.” The Customs Act, for instance, creates many offences, and a specific penalty is set out in a paragraph for each offence. I do not believe that Parliament would for a moment concur if it were told bv a Minister that though an offence created by the Customs Act had been committed, the object in imposing the penalty was not to collect it, but merely to see that the offence was not committed. That is really the’ present position of affairs. If we want a law to be respected it must be enforced. If we want the Excise Harvester Act enforced, as I do, and as I believe a vast majority of honorable senators do, in regard to wages, and conditions, there is only one way in which to get that law respected, and that is by the Government enforcing the penalty.
– A few moments ago we decided on the voices to take a holiday. But before we adjourn, I hope that the Government will give the members of the Labour Party some more satisfactory and definite information than we have yet obtained in respect to the promises broken to the men, youths, and boys engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements. Of course, the Government say that they have been confronted with many difficulties in regard to the operation of the law. Surely they do not expect that the administration of every Act will be so smooth and easy that there will be no difficulties in their path? No matter how difficult the administration of an Act may be, it is the duty of the responsible Minister to give full effect to its provisions.
– And if the Government are not prepared to do so, to ask Parliament to repeal it.
– If the Government are not prepared to do that, -let them make a candid admission to Parliament, and if any provision needs amendment, let them show the same apparent earnestness to give relief to the men as was shown to McKay, who has been called by some people an outlaw in this community, when in another place the Standing Orders were suspended, and a Bill to give him relief was passed through all it stages in one day. Some members of the Government claim that they have done all that possibly could ‘ be done on behalf . of those engaged” in the manufacture of agricultural implements. When they make that statement, I ask them these questions - Is it not a fact that the men have been shouldered with the expense and responsibility of testing an Act of Parliament in connexion with- the new protectionist policy”? Is it not a fact that a number of men who took the trouble to bring cases before the Arbitration Court have lost “ the number of their mess “? Is it not a fact that some men who took a prominent part in connexion with the case heard before Mr. Justice Higgins have become marked men for all time? And is it not also a fact that because the men have proved beyond a shadow of doubt . that in this State, not one manufacturer has been observing reasonable or fair con ditions, Mr. McKay, who is the biggest outlaw in regard to the non-observance of fair and reasonable conditions, closed clown his works and - gave as his reason that the drought was responsible for it? In my opinion, that was fudge. According to evidence which can be easily confirmed, at McKay’s establishment the men had been working at express speed for a considerable period. Mr. McKay probably anticipated Mr. Justice Higgins’ decision, and has sufficient implements on hand to meet requirements for seme time to come, but in the meantime the men are out of work and are waiting for the relief promised them from the 1st January last. It is said that if the Government demanded payment of the Excise many of the manufacturers would probably refuse to pay. If they did, the Government could take possession of enough of their property to” cover the amount involved, and if the manufacturers regarded the action of the Government as unconstitutional, they could test the matter before the High Court. The Government could then defend the Act, and their interpretation of the Constitution. Apparently, however, they are letting the matter slide in such a way that the men may eventually be called upon to defend the constitutionality of the Act. There have been some remarkable developments. Immediately after Mr. Justice Higgins gave his award the Minister of Trade and Customs issued a circular, a copy of which was .published in the daily papers, to Mr. McKay and other manufacturers demanding payment of the Excise forthwith, because of their non-recognition of fair and reasonable conditions. I was pleased when I saw that circular, thinking that the Government had at last awakened to their responsibilities and were going to give full effect to the Act. Two or three days afterwards, however, a paragraph appeared in the daily papers, no doubt inspired by the Minister, stating that consideration ,was to be given to the employers. There followed an article in the Age - and a similar one appeared in the Argus - the headings of which were - “ Harvester Excise Duty “ - “Enforcement suspended” - “Mr. Justice Higgins’ wages award made operative “ - “Concessions to small manufacturers.” What authority have the Government to suspend the Act? If they can suspend it now, the probability is that it will be suspended until Parliament reassembles next year. It is not right to keep the men so long in suspense, and even when Parliament reassembles they will have no guarantee that they will be paid the arrears due to them because of the nonrecognition by their employers of the conditions laid down in the Act. Every news- paper published in the capitals of Australia - Liberal, Conservative, semi-Liberal, or semi-Conservative - is strong in its condemnation and vigorous in its criticism of the inaction of the Government, and, needless to say, every newspaper representing labour principles is equally outspoken. The Herald recently published a leaderette regarding the circular issued by the Government, under the heading “Harvester Excise Duty.” They said -
Apparently it is only an incidental phase, and not the whole policy of the Federal Government, which is disclosed in a remarkable circular sent yesterday by the Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs to harvester manufacturers. Last week we put forcibly in this column the statement that it was the duty of the Government to administer the law as it stood.
Everybody agrees with that statement, but when the Government were asked to administer the law as it stood, the leader of the Government in the Senate said that it would be cruel and arbitrary to enforce the law. It might have caused some inconvenience and a little trouble to the manufacturers, particularly to ‘Mr. McKay, who is by far the largest employer, but the non-enforcement of the Act has caused untold hardship, misery, and unemployment to the men.
– It could have been no hardship to Mr. McKay to enforce the Act. He had the fullest knowledge of the law. He knew that he was breaking it, and what the penalties were.
– Mr. McKay knew, when he approached Parliament, and when such pressure was brought to bear to obtain protection against the importers of agricultural machinery, that the Labour Party, and many. who sympathized w with the principle advocated by the party, would not agree to give him and those associated with him the additional Customs protection which they were working for unless they recognised certain conditions of wages and labour for those in their employ.
– He deliberately broke the law, and every time he did he knew what the penalty was.
– I do not like to be invidious in my criticism, but if one man more than another deserves to be singled out for sharp and adverse criticism it is Mr. McKay. When it was proposed to apply the Victorian Factories Act to the city of Ballarat, he closed up his works there, and circulated the report that he did so because the industry was strangled for want of Customs protection. Immediately afterwards he moved his works to Braybrook, which is in a shire, in order to dodge the Factories Act. A number of men broke up their homes at Ballarat, and came down to Braybrook with him. When an Act of Parliament is passed to entitle them to receive consideration and justice, the works are closed down again, and they have neither work nor wages.
– And the Government have not got the Excise.
– It is said that if the’ Government had collected the Excise, the States Governments would claim threefourths of it. Even if they did, that is no reason why the Government should not have put the Act into force.
– The question is not “ Who is to get the money?” but “ Is Mr. McKay to be punished as we intended him to be?”
– He has punished all those in his employ for a long time. We passed an Act providing that he and others who transgressed the law should be punished, but that Act was not made operative. The Herald goes on to say -
The Postmaster-General has given abundant evidence that this, at least, is his view in dealing with persons who might even be suspected of having sent through the post letters relating to betting. It would be interesting to hear him and his colleagues explain why it is that the application of the law is less insistent in respect to the harvester excise duty. Our own difficulty at the present moment is to understand by what legal authority yesterday’s circular was issued. There does not seem to be any warrant for it in the Act, and Ministers, like other people - indeed, more than other people, because they ure administrators - are bound by. the law. What we seem to see is a suspension by Ministerial edict, for which, of course, the Government must take the full responsibility in its relations with Parliament. Further, it would seem that this suspension is indicative of a desire for a Parliamentary review of the whole of the circumstances. Prompted, perhaps, b~y doubts as to the constitutionality of the Harvester Excise Act, perhaps merely by a desire to avoid doing that which, in the conditions, might seem to be oppressive.
Whatever reasons are actuating the Government in not enforcing the Act, I trust that thev will make those reasons known to the Senate, and that every senator will be able to understand them. ‘As we are on the eve of an adjournment, it will be manifestly unfair for the Government to move the adjournment of the Senate until the men who should be benefited by the Act are assured that their back pay will be paid as speedily as possible. No matter what difficulties mav exist, the Government should recognise it as their duty to overcome obstacles, and to administer the Act in the way intended when -those who supported it helped to pass it.
– The honorable senator can help to refuse the Government Supply if they do not.
– I had not intended to speak on this Bill, but I feel in duty bound to reply to Senator Clemons’ statements regarding the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. This is not by any means the first time that the honorable senator has raised the question. His proposals, if adopted, would be far from fair to Western Australia. He claims .that the bookkeeping section is not in accord with the true Federal spirit. I hold that it is. Our Federation is very different from those of the United States of America and of Canada, and our financial provisions therefore are essentially different also. The most expensive part of the development of Australia is still in the hands of the States Government, and is paid for out of the States revenues. The work of building and conducting railways, making roads, and developing new territory, entails an enormous expense, which has to be borne in Australia by the peoples of the States themselves. It is therefore very unfair to compare the burden borne by the Federal Governments of the United States of America and of Canada with the burden borne by our Federal Government, because works undertaken here bv the States Governments are undertaken in America by the Federal Authorities. We therefore cannot compare the financial provisions of the American Federations with those of our own.
– One way of meeting the State expenditure is by taxing land. Western Australia is a bit slow in that regard, whereas Tasmania taxes land heavily.
– I do not know that the la’nd is heavily taxed in Tasmania. Tasmania has recently had a little more direct taxation than has Western Australia, but the difference is very small.
– The honorable senator does not know the figures or he would not say that.
– I know the figures well. They have been swollen in such a way that they are totally misleading unless they are analyzed.
– Tasmania has the heaviest land tax in the whole Commonwealth. Western Australia has none.
– If Western Australia has no land tax, it is only thf people of Western Australia who will suffer. It does not affect the people of Tasmania. The people who pay Customs duties in Western Australia have to make up what is not paid in the shape of direct taxation upon the land of the State. There is now a land tax measure before the Western Australian State Parliament, and it is only the conservative element which is blocking the way. Otherwise, we should have a much higher land tax than the people of Tasmania have to pay. The people of Western Australia have an enormous territory to develop, and it is necessary that they should get their full share of the money which they pay through the Customs in order to help them to bear that burden. We have heard a great deal said about the enormous load that South Australia is bearing on account of the Northern Territory. But when we remember that the Northern Territory, combined with South Australia proper, does not contain so large an area as all Western Australia, which has a smaller population, and when we also remember that Western Australia has to bear the whole expense of developing her enormous territory, it will be seen that she is a far better subject for sympathy. But we never hear a word of sympathy expressed towards Western Australia. (Bearing these facts in mind, I think it will be admitted that Senator Clemons’ statements that the bookkeeping section is un-Federal are rather wide of the mark, and that to alter it and substitute a her capita basis would impose a much greater grievance upon the people of Western Australia, than the people of Tasmania now have to bear.
– It is not Tasmania only that I was concerned about. The whole thing is un-Federal.
– But we must take a Federation as a whole in order to judge of it. We must not forget that upon the shoulders of Western Australia alone rests the great burden of developing the whole of her territory, constructing public works, making roads, providing for water conservation, and all other necessary expenses. It would be utterly unfair to ask the people of Western Australia to consent to divide the public revenue collected by means of Customs and Excise per capita . amongst the whole of the States, some of which have a relatively small territory, well developed, and much richer lands than we have. Something has been said by Senator Clemons about the effect of the bookkeeping section on fiscalism, and how it operates against the principle of protection. There may be something in his remarks in the abstract. But if honorable senators analyze the position, they will find that there is not so much in it after all; because, whilst Western Australia buys more goods from the foreigner than does Tasmania, the people of Western Australia also buy a larger quantity of Australian goods than do the people of Tasmania. As a matter of fact, during the last ten . or eleven years, Western Australia has bought something like ?30,000,000 worth of goods from the Eastern States, and the Eastern States have bought something like , ?2,000,000 worth of goods from Western Australia. So that when the gross figures are analyzed, it does not follow that Senator Clemons’ contention holds good in reality, however true it may seem in the abstract.
– The very fact that the bookkeeping section is an advantage to Western Australia simply means that Western Australia uses a considerable proportion of foreign goods.
– They would still be used if the bookkeeping section were abolished to-morrow. I do not believe that a shilling’s worth of goods are imported simply because they add to the revenue of Western Australia. The average consumer never thinks where goods are made when he is buying them. He looks at their price and quality.
Senator Walker. He is a free trader, and buys in the cheapest market.
– We are all more or less free-traders when we are buying, and when we are sellers we incline to the opposite view. The fact that Western Australia has purchased Australian goods to such an extent goes to show that any alteration of the bookkeeping section would not affect that aspect of the matter to any material extent. I have here some figures, compiled by a gentle man who has taken a great deal of interest in this question, and whose authority carries considerable weight. I refer to Mr. Owen, the Government Actuary of Western Australia. The figures which he has compiled bear upon the scheme propounded at the Brisbane and Melbourne Premiers’ Conferences. He bases his figures on the average revenue which would be paid over to the States under a new system of bookkeeping, such as suggested by Senator Clemons, and shows how it would work out. He shows that the people of Western Australia have since Federation paid more than double the amount paid by the people of Tasmania. It will therefore be seen that Western Australia is by no means getting back all she is paying out.
– Not in direct taxation.
– We are not talking about direct taxation, but since the honorable senator mentions that subject, . I may remind him that the people of Western Australia help to pay a considerable portion of the direct taxation of Tasmania. They contribute a very large proportion of the money that goes to Tattersalls sweeps, from which the Tasmanian Government draw a considerable revenue. If the honorable senator knew anything about the finances of his own State he would be well aware of that. It will be seen ‘from Mr. Owen’s’ figures that the people of Western Australia are by no means getting the best of the bargain under present arrangements.
– The per capita system would not suit Western Australia.
– No, for the simple reason that we pay so much more per capita than does any other State, whilst at the same time we have heavier expenses to sustain. Of course, if the Commonwealth will undertake the task of opening up and developing the enormous tract of country for which Western Australia is at present responsible, the aspect of affairs will be quite different. There would then be some sense in talking, about a ‘truly Federal scheme of finance. I quote this passage from Mr. Owen -
It will be observed that Western Australia, with 6.3 per cent, of the population of the whole Commonwealth, will under these proposals contribute 1 1. 9 per cent, of the total cost of the ordinary Federal administration (a difference of 5.6 per cent) ; that is to say, it will contribute 89 per cent, more than its proper share of such expenditure. Similarly, Queensland will contribute an excess of 3 per cent, beyond its proper share. The remaining States will each contribute less than their population percentage demands towards the cost of Federal administration. Again, the disparity may be regarded in another way - Western Australia and Queensland will, under that scheme, contribute to the cost of the ordinary Federal expenditure at the rate of 19s. 8d. and 10s. iod. per capita respectively, while the average for all the States will be only 10s. 5d. per capita.
That is to say, the expenditure incurred, and for which the Federal Parliament is responsible, only averages 10s. 5d. for the whole of the States. But the Western Australian taxpayer pays 19s. 8d., which is an enormous load for him to bear - and one State, South Australia-, will contribute as low as 8s. Sd. per capita. The question arises - why should an inhabitant of Western Australia contribute 19s. Sd. per annum when a South Australian contributes only 8s. 8d. per annum? In other words, why should this State contribute £2 5s. 5d. per annum towards the ordinary cost of the Federal Departments for every £1 that is contributed by South Australia? And why should this State pay 19s. 8d. pet capita in that behalf when the prosperous State of Victoria, at the seat of Government, pays only 9s. rod. per capita?
When we remember that the prosperous State of Victoria only pays 9s. iod. and Tasmania only 9s. 7d., as against Western Australia’s 19s. 8d., it will be seen that a per capita system can never be applied on the present basis of distribution under any scheme that has been outlined. Western Australia is paying more per capita than any other State. That is the money of our taxpayers. They have a right to it. Therefore, to talk about the present bookkeeping system being unFederal is simply to talk nonsense.
– The exceptional conditions existing in the General Post ‘Office, as revealed in the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday, the 19th inst., make it incumbent upon me to bring the matter before the Senate. I recognise that the answers given by the Postmaster-General might be regarded as satisfactory, but in view of the fact that we are to adjourn, probably to-morrow, and that the conditions existing in the Department are of such a serious character, I think it is only fair that the report to which I refer should be published in Hansard in order that honorable senators may realize the very serious state of affairs that exists, and has continued to exist for a considerable time, in the General Post Office in Sydney. The article is headed “ Chaos in the General Post Office,” “ Dissatisfaction Rampant,” “ Strikes Narrowly Averted,” and the writer says: - -
The condition of affairs in all departments of the Sydney General Post Office is one of chaos. In the Telegraph Department the men have been so incensed at not getting what they deem to be justice and fair play that on several occasions they have been on the verge of refusing to work. In other departments the employes are working under conditions almost intolerable. But the real basis of all complaints is that the administrative heads in Melbourne are inaccessible to the men. Here are some facts, of which the departmental heads are officially cognisant.
Since the beginning of 1906 numerous reports regarding overtime in some of the clerical branches of the G.P.O. have been furnished by the departmental head in this State for “the information of the Postmaster-General. In the first, furnished in March, 1906, it was shown that in the three previous months 5,000 hours overtime had been worked by the clerical staff. In June, 1906, a second report went in dealing with the three months which followed the period covered by the first report, and on that occasion the departmental head went so far as to say that the present staff of the clerical branches could not cope with the work, and the conditions were having a serious effect upon the health of the officers. The remedy urged was the immediate appointment of a sufficient number of additional clerks.
Three -months later another report went in, and it was shown that nearly 8,000 hours of overtime had been performed by the clerical staff of the 15 branches, excluding the mail and telegraph branches. By this time matters were getting serious, and at the close of last year a few temporary hands were put on, more to cope with the largely accumulated arrears of work than anything else. But the number of temporary hands thus engaged was not one-third of the number asked for.
This year, a still worse condition of affairs developed. Growth of the service on one hand, and failure to keep abreast of the times on the other, have led the men in 13 clerical branches of the leading Post Office in Australia to work 32,000 hours of overtime between January 1 and August 31. This amount of extra duty corresponds with 869 weeks of official labour. In these 13 departments, in addition to the timeoff allowance, there was up to August 31 an accumulation of recreation leave due to the men of 396 weeks.
– That amounts to over seven years’ leave.
– Yes. The article continues -
The strength of those 13 branches of the service to-day is 180 in the regular staff and 39 temporary hands, and these officers have time after time pointed out that the necessity for overtime working is occasioned by the increased business of the department.
The growth of the postal service in New South Wales is amply illustrated in the following figures: - Revenue in 1902, ^873,000; revenue lust year, ^1,065,633. The net gain over expenditure was respectively ^’105,000 and £167,000.
The common sense idea of increased revenue means extended departmental action, but the neglect of the department to advance with the times is the burden of the ‘ complaint. Added to this there is the argument that the present system engenders increased work for the clerical staff. Instead of walking into an adjoining room to consult the chief, they have to write long letters and reports for Melbourne before they can obtain an answer, and then, through a want of knowledge of the subject on the part of the departmental heads 600 miles away, the answer’ is very often not satisfactory. All this routine work takes up the time of the staff, and in the meanwhile the public business gets behind. It is generally recognised in business circles that five minutes’ chat with a man can do more in the settlement of a matter than hours of writing would do. It is estimated that in some branches the additional work caused by the present system amounts to 50 per cent., and in others to 30 per cent. Yet the staff is not correspondingly increased.
Three or four officers had, in consequence of their failing health, to ask that they be excused from performing overtime duty, and submitted medical certificates to bear out their statements. lt was, however, decided that these gentlemen, although exempted from night duty, should, when required, work till 5.30. This was mentioned at a recent deputation to show the Minister that the administrative heads were, distasteful as it might be to them, in view of the pressing necessity to keep the work down, compelled to work these delicate officers for an hour extra. The Postmaster-General promised to abolish overtime working, and to remove these objectionable practices, but one of the clerks remarked yesterday “ They still carry on the same old game.”
The members of the mail branch have told their chief that their- difficulties are centred round the question of better working conditions, with the abolition of broken time to enable them to work their shifts straight off, and to leave work at a reasonable; hour. Another claim they make is for better treatment during the Christmas festival, when the staff is obliged to be away from home from 5 a.m. till midnight. Thev think they should get out-of-pocket expenses for at least two days while performing such duty.
The telegraph operators have many grievances. In fact, their chief trouble is a lack of confidence between the management and the men. Some of the operators complain that any attempt they make to secure an audience wilh headquarters is blocked at this end.
– When it is said that the request to make representations is blocked “at this end,” does the writer mean the Sydney end?
– The article was written an3 published in Sydney, and I assume that the Sydney end is meant.
– That is shown by another portion of the article, in which reference is made to the difficulty which the men have in getting past their immediate superior officers to head-quarters.
– That is so. The writer of the article continues -
They also point out that the public suffers through delays which take place owing to the insufficiency of lines, the want of proper control over existing lines, and lack of up-to-date methods. The operators also complain that they do not possess privileges enjoyed by similar employees in other States. In Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide operators are encouraged to provide themselves with typewriters, and are allowed £6 per year for their use. In Sydney the men have not that privilege., They also want the system of Sunday labour put on a more satisfactory basis. This is a cause of a good deal of dissatisfaction. This matter is still under consideration. The men recognise that a certain amount of Sunday labour is necessary, but ask that it be kept down to absolute necessity, and where an official is required for Sunday duty he should in all cases be paid for it. Time off on another day, they object to, as such a system, they claim, simply entails extra duty on someone else. In the Sydney office there are two or more of the night staff off each night in lieu of Sunday. The whole or a portion of their work is done by a similar number of the day staff doing “overtime.” Sometimes this may be only a couple of hours; sometimes it runs into five or six hours, making the total shift 10 or ii- hours, which is performed without a break. “ I suppose they give you a meal?” inquired the Postmaster-General from the deputation on the subject. “ They give us nothing,” was the reply of” the men ; “ not even the right to send a wire home to explain our detention.”
A visit to other departments reveals the same complaints of unjust treatment, the exception being the telephone-room, where the staff is fully manned; but a- lady attendant remarked, “An undermanned staff here would directly affect the public, and there would be such an outcry that the department would soon be on the move. You see,” she added, “ the growl of over-worked employees does not trouble the department, but let the public rise and then there is a scatter.”
Over the whole department official terrorism exists. The employees are forbidden to open their mouth to any press representative. Even the officials of the Post-office Associations are similarly gagged, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral will not speak on any particular subject to a press representative, and, when requested for a statement of affairs in Sydney, refers the reporter to Melbourne.
During the past 10 years enormous developments have taken place in the Post-office: but, since the beginning of the century, facilities have not in any way been improved, and the result is a constant condition of chaos in all branches. With a service practically in revolt, an ever-swelling accumulation of arrears of work, and with growing ‘ dissatisfaction amongst the people, especially business men, who have to use the Post-office, that institution cannot muddle along much longer without some development that will compel the appointment of a commission of inquiry.
I do not vouch for the correctness of every statement made in that article, but I say that it discloses a condition of affairs which, demands a trenchant and earnest examination by the Postmaster- General. Having some knowledge of business, I recognise that in the Post and Telegraph Department and in the Customs Department also there is a lack of the efficient organization which is so successful in the management of large business concerns in Australia as well as in other countries. The principle followed in large business concerns is that the heads of Departments are intrusted with a large measure of responsibility. In fact, almost the whole of the management of a large business concern is left in the hands of the heads of the various Departments.
– And overtime is very general, and the employes dare not complain.
– The amount of overtime worked is very little, except where the conditions are such as to make it absolutely necessary. I do not know of a single large business concern which does not pay overtime to its workmen. In fact, the Legislature of the State compels almost all business concerns to pay big overtime to their employes.
– There are many establishments which do not pay their employes even tea money.
– In the Commonwealth administration there are some Departments which do not allow their employes to send to their wives a wire saying that they will be working all night.
– That is in the Post and Telegraph Department?
– Yes. In the Customs Department, as well as in the Post and Telegraph Department, the Commonwealth has not recognised the great principle on which large business concerns manage their affairs, and that is that the head of every Department shall have absolute control of it. If there is “any laxity or fault to be found therein the head of the firm comes down upon the departmental manager and wants to know the reason why. If it is disclosed that he is incompetent he is removed. In the case of the Commonwealth the Departments are managed on exactly! the opposite principle. The heads of the Departments in Sydney, Melbourne, and other cities, have not that power which they ought to have in performing their “administrative work. It is well known that every little matter of busi ness has to be referred to Melbourne. If one goes to the head of the Post and Telegraph Department, or the Customs Department, in Sydney, on a matter of business which in ordinary circumstances he would expect to be settled there and then, invariably the answer is, “ We shall have to write to Melbourne, and when we get a reply in due course we will let you know.” I contend that greater latitude ought to be allowed. If it were allowed it would accomplish two things. In the first place it would encourage the heads of these Departments to serve the Commonwealth to the best of their ability, and to its benefit. They would realize that they would be credited with any success which was achieved in the administration of their Departments.
– According to that article the officers seem to complain that the heads of the Post and Telegraph Department in Sydney have not sent the complaints on to head-quarters.
– That is the case to a certain extent. It is stated in the report that the heads of the Departments complain that they cannot alter the conditions while they have to send the memoranda to Melbourne. That, however, does not effect the proposition which I have laid down - that in Melbourne there is far too much centralization of the work which, under a proper system, would be performed by the heads of the Departments especially in the capital cities. I recognise that the affairs of the Commonwealth should be managed in a manner which will satisfy the public, that its civil servants are not inferior to the men employed in private firms. I believe that, whilst the public do not’ wish to encourage any extravagance, at the same , time they do not want to encourage any meanness. I believe that they wish the employes to be treated in a fair, equitable, and, if possible, generous manner. I am sure that no one can read this report without being surprised by the statement which it contains.
– What report is that?
– The report I have read to the Senate.
– Was it written by an agitator?
– It was not written by any agitator or outsider. It was written for the Sydney Morning Herald by its reporter, and it accepts full responsibility for all the statements therein contained. If they had been made in a letter I should not have brought them before the Senate. It is impossible for us to ignore the statements made by a responsible writer for a leading newspaper. His article discloses that there is absolute disorganization throughout the Post and Telegraph- Department in Sydney, and that the men have not received fair play. It should be only in exceptional circumstances that any ‘ matter relating to the management of the Departments should be brought before the Senate, because, if one thing is more necessary than another in a large organization, it is discipline. We all know that in large establishments ‘there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction, not always generously expressed, and, when sifted, not always well founded.
– Did the honorable senator accept that report as correct, or did he make any inquiries as to its truthfulness I
– The report was only published on Tuesday, and 1 read it when I was coming down in the train. If the Age had published a similar report concerning the Melbourne General Post Office, I venture to say that there is not a single senator for that State who would not have risen here on the same day to demand why the Government had allowed such a state of things to exist, and the Government would have found out very quickly whether it was correct or not. It was only when I read that there was a discussion as to whether there should be a strike amongst (he telegraph operators in Sydney, and learned of the general dissatisfaction prevailing throughout the Department in New South Wales, that I deemed it my duty to bring the matter before the Senate. It would only be on such authority that I would even take that course, and I believe that I have such. authority on this occasion. There is another matter to which I want to refer, and that is the site for the Federal Capital. With due respect to the Government, I contend that thev have shown a very weak spirit in regard to expediting the solution of that question. They have shown that they have no sympathy with New South Wales in that regard. We have had from them nothing but words, and newspapers which represent the Government have stated that it will be time enough in fifty years to settle the question. It seems to me as if its settlement is farther off now than ever it has been, because apart from, the representatives of New South Wales, there are very few mem bers of this Parliament who consider that it is a question which there is ‘any necessity to solve. I protest against the spirit which is being displayed by the Government, and if they do not take prompt action, I hope that the people of New South Wales will indicate as far as they practically can their opinion concerning the fulfilment of the contract which was solemnly entered into with the colonies, and in respect of which alone did it agree to enter the Federation.
– It is not my intention to avail myself of this opportunity to air any particular grievance of either the State I represent or any other. When the last Supply Bill was before the Senate, I referred to the all-important question of Australian defence, and received from Senator Best an assurance that before the end of the session we should have a statement of the Government’s policy. It would not be reasonable on my part to expect him to make that statement to-night. In view of the fact that the end of the session is still a long way off, I propose to refer to a matter which may help the Government when they make up their mind at last to acquaint the public with their defence policy. Last week I asked whether the Government would consider the advisability of assisting the Government of Western Australia in connexion with the construction of a graving dock there, with a view to making the dock suitable for the purposes of defence, and to bring that dock up to the requirements of the Admiralty for the docking of warships. I am not actuated by a desire simply to advocate a boon for Western Australia. I wish to impress upon honorable senators and upon the Government that the efficiency of Australian defence depends, to a great extent, on the question of whether the Government will or will not give the assistance which I ask for. I recognise that the Government have been for some time, and are now, seriously considering the all-important question of Australian defence. The Government of Western Australia propose to build a graving dock capable of accommodating the largest vessels of the mercantile marine that come to the Southern Hemisphere. It will be the only dock of its kind along the great western coast of Australia from Cape Londonderry iri the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south-west, or,, roughly speaking, about one-fourth of our entire coast-line. Our first line of defence must in the near future be along our coastline. The- Empire might be involved in a struggle for the supremacy of the seas, and possibly the conflict may take place in the Indian Ocean. The Federal Government or the Imperial authorities should therefore recognise the necessity of having along our western coast-line a dock which will not only .accommodate vessels of the mercantile marine, but be adequate for the accommodation and repair of the largest vessels of th~e Imperial Navy or of the Australian Naval Fleet, which I hope to see built. That aspect of the question shows that I am not bringing forward a matter of concern to my own State only. It is a matter of national importance. I am raising the question on this occasion because the reply to my question yesterday was so beautifully indefinite and delightfully vague that no honorable senator could tell what attitude the Government really took up. I now ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to let us know before the first reading of this Bill is passed the full intentions of the Government in this direction, because they cannot evolve a scheme of Australian defence unless they make provision, either directly or by assisting a State Government, for the construction of a proper dock. I hope that we shall build our own torpedo boats, destroyers, and, if necessary, first-class menofwar. But it will be useless for us to have that fleet unless we have some place wherein we can, with the least possible delay, dock the vessels for repair when the necessity arises. ‘ Even if we do not have our own fleet, it is essential that we should have some dock along the western coast as a harbor of refuge or a place for repairs for vessels of the Imperial Navy. The other question to which I desire to refer, and which hinges somewhat on the question of defence, is the provision of wireless telegraph stations throughout the Commonwealth. Yesterday I asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the Government did not think it better to spend the ,£1,000, which is proposed to be used towards the cost of laying a cable in Bass Strait, in establishing wireless telegraph stations in Bass Strait, at Rottnest Island, off Fremantle, and at other portions of the Australian coast where suitable sites could be secured. The Minister, in reply, referred me to a speech made by the Minister of Home Affairs on the Supply Bill (No. 2). I have turned that up and read every line of it, but I see no declaration in it as to the policy of the Government in connexion with the establishment of wireless telegraph stations throughout the Commonwealth.
– Did not the Minister ‘ make a reply on that occasion to my statement regarding wireless telegraphy ?
– The Minister made several replies, but nothing in his speech can be called a direct answer to the question which I put yesterday.
– When I urged -the Minister to adopt wireless telegraphy for Bass Strait I think he said that the cable would still be needed.
– The statement to which Senator Pearce refers was evidently not made in the speech to which my attention was directed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. The Minister of Home Affairs, as reported on page 4050 of Hansard of this session, dealing with the question of wireless telegraphy , said -
Not long ago a number of residents of King Island waited upon the Postmaster-General, and also upon the Acting Prime Minister, Sir William Lyne, and placed before them a statement of their case. The arguments they had to adduce in support of the Commonwealth connecting them by means of a ‘wireless telegraphy system with other parts of the Commonwealth were very strong. Their representations were listened to. The Postmaster-General and the Acting Prime Minister informed them that during this year, if the vote for wireless telegraphy were agreed to, the Government would be able to do something practical in the direction of harnessing up Papua with the Commonwealth by that means; and the King Island residents were told that if that experiment turned out to be successful the very next place in the Commonwealth that would receive consideration and attention in the same direction would be King Island. With that assurance the deputationists seemed very well satisfied. I feel a very keen interest in this matter, and have done so for some time ; and I shall see both Sir William Lyne and the PostmasterGeneral, and shall help in achieving the object which we who come from Tasmania all desire to see attained.
The Minister’s statement was almost entirely confined to the question of a service between Papua and the mainland, for he used the words “ harnessing up Papua with the Commonwealth.” He then stated thatthe very next place to be considered would be King Island. I have no objection to offer to that. I desire to see Papua and King Island immediately “harnessed up with the Commonwealth,” per medium of the system of wireless telegraphy, but what I object to is that that speech contains no reply to the question which I put to the
Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday. I wanted to elicit from the Government a definite statement of their policy in connexion with wireless telegraphy, seeing that a clause in the new mail contract provides that six months after the contract has been ratified the Government will _ establish wireless telegraph stations nt Rottnest Island and other portions of the Commonwealth. I therefore wondered where the necessity came in for laying a. cable in Bass Strait, when a more uptodate system could be introduced, not only there, but at Rottnest Island and wherever along the Australian coast suitable sites could be obtained. I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council when replying will give the Senate some definite information as to the intentions of the Government with regard to the two matters to which I have drawn attention, both of which are indissolubly connected with the question of Australian defence. Before they can propound to the people of Australia a proper policy of defence they must first consider this question of docking accommodation. It is most .essential. Again, irrespective of the great service that wireless telegraphy would be to the commercial community, if installed on any portion of the Australian mainland, or on any of our adjacent islands, we must remember its utility and importance so far as defence is concerned. I commend these points to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and ask him to give the Senate a definite reply with regard to them.
– It is not my intention to speak at great length, but I wish to take the opportunity to say that I am disappointed that the Government have not put forward any scheme for -the consolidation of the States debts. Under section 105 of the Constitution our powers are defined in that respect. I simply mention that matter without going into details. I believe that Sir” John Forrest, when he was Treasurer, prepared a plan, and I had hoped that by this time some action would have been taken in connexion with it. Needless to say, I am with my colleague, Senator Gray, in desiring to see something definite done in regard to the Federal Capital. We have an assurance from the Government that they intend to bring in a Bill before the close of the present session. I trust that that undertaking will be carried out.
– Is it intended to repeal the present Act?
– I believe that that is the intention. There is a general opinion that Canberra offers an excellent solution of the difficulty. My good friend Senator W. Russell has visited Canberra, and as a practical farmer, can bear testimony to the fact that it is an admirable farming district. I’ agree with Senator Needham that it is very desirable that the Commonwealth should lose no time in installing a. system of wireless telegraphy in various parts of Australia. I certainly think that we ought to be connected by that means with Papua, and I believe that there are certain islands adjacent to Tasmania which desire to have such communication with the mainland. One object which I had in rising was to strengthen the remarks made by Senator de Largie with regard to the bookkeeping section of the Constitution. I had the honour to occupy a seat in the Federal Convention, and can assure honorable senators that one of the most difficult problems before us was to devise an arrangement that would be equitable as between State and State in respect to the distribution of revenue. A compromise was at last suggested by Mr. Deakin, namely, that Western Australia should have a supplementary Customs duty for five years, so as to endeavour to bring her into line with the other States. In the year 1897 Western Australia had a very much larger proportion of adult males than any other State, and the consequence was that at that time her proportion of Customs revenue was greatly in excess of that of any other State. Queensland also had a very large proportion of adult males, and her contribution to the revenue was so large that it was felt that it would be un- reasonable at that time to have a per capita division of revenue. It was, however, hoped that within five years their position would approximate nearer, to that of the other States. It has come nearer to some extent, and the process is still proceeding. But I cannot blame my Western Australian friend for insisting upon the continuance of the bookkeeping section a little longer. Doubtless, before the ten years have expired, conditions wil-i have altered so much that it will be possible for the present arrangement to cease. Section 87 of the Constitution reads as follows : -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise, not more than one-fourth shall be applied “annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure. The balance shall, in accordance with this Constitution, be paid to the several States, or applied towards the payment of interest on debts of the several States taken over by the Commonwealth.
Section 93 reads -
During the first live years after the imposition of uniform duties of Customs and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides : and so on. I sympathize with my honorable friends from Tasmania as to the position of their State. I thought all along that they were punished unduly by Federation. I was one of those who, as a member of the second Finance Committee at the Federal Convention, suggested that Tasmania should be treated differently from the other States, and given £50,000 per annum before the remainder of the revenue was distributed. But Tasmania thought she knew her own business best, and that proposition was not adopted. Seeing what the provisions of the Constitution are, however, I am surprised that the Tasmanian people have not adopted the plan of importing goods from abroad direct so as to augment their Customs revenue. Their difficulty has been largely increased by the fact that they consume such largo quantities of manufactured goods imported from Victoria. It is difficult to say whether an article imported to Tasmania through Victoria has paid duty or not. To ‘ that extent Tasmania has been handicapped.
– That remark does not apply to Tasmania only.
– Senator Mulcahy has looked into this matter very closely as a practical business man, and from what he has said I sympathize very much with our Tasmanian friends. But I advise them to exercise a little longer patience. I am sure that we all desire to do what is right as between State and State. Owing to the Western Australian adult males taking over their wives and families in increasing numbers, that State will soon come into line with the other States. Until that happens, however, there is nothing for it but the continuance of the bookkeeping section for a little time longer. We know that Western Australia was at first rather adverse to coming into Federation.
– No; not at any time. Sir John Forrest was adverse, but Western Australia was not.
– I believe that the mining community wanted to come in, but there was a considerable amount of feeling in Perth against Federation.
– I was in Perth at the time. Perth gave . a majority for Federation whenever it had an opportunity.
– I thought it right to make these few remarks on one or two matters of interest, as this is probably the last opportunity I shall have of addressing the Senate before the Christmas holidays. It is to me very pleasant to think that, however much we may differ as to financial policy, and some other matters, a very kindly feeling is arising amongst the people of this country concerning Federation. I believe that the longer the Commonwealth exists the more national will our people become in their aspirations and feelings.
– I take advantage of ‘this opportunity to refer again to the action of the Government in respect to the collection of the Excise on harvesters and agricultural machinery. Some honorable senators have stated that the Government were guilty df a breach of faith with the workers in these industries in not immediately collecting Excise at the beginning of this year. Of course the Government have endeavoured to excuse their inaction. They have said that they did the most humane thing that it was possible for them to do in refraining from collecting the Excise. But if the duties had been collected from the ist January, I believe that before a month had elapsed the whole of the manufacturers engaged In this industry would have endeavoured to comply with the wishes of Parliament, and would have paid their employes fair wages. But this was not done. The Government laid down a course of action for themselves. A number of members “of Parliament of both Houses did not agree with them. Ultimately Mr. Justice Higgins delivered a judgment as a result of which I believe the workers will receive fair play. I feel sure that the majority, if not all, of the manufacturers will proceed to pay wages and observe conditions in accordance with that judgment.
– Not unless thev have to pay Excise.
– Of course they have to pay Excise.
– The Government have withdrawn the demand.
– The honorable senator entirely misunderstands the position. I will explain it as it appears to me. From the delivery of the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins the Government.
I believe,- intend to collect the Excise if manufacturers do not comply. It is the Excise that was not collected up to that time that is creating the present difficulty.
– He who excuses accuses.
– I am not excusing the Government. I say that there is no excuse for them. The thing should have been done, but it was not done.
– If the honorable senator’s party had put on pressure the Government would have done it.
– Well, I have sometimes noticed that the honorable senator has greater influence with the Government than have honorable senators on this side of the chamber; and I believe that before this Parliament closes we shall often have the spectacle of the honorable senator, ‘ and those associated with him, voting with the Government, whilst I and the party to which I belong are found occupying the benches opposite. The intention of Parliament, in the imposition of- the Excise duty, was not so much that revenue should be collected, as that the worker should receive fair remuneration. That, I believe, was the honest intention of both sides in Parliament. I hope that that is still the intention. I believe that it is. But I wish to point out that if the Excise had been collected the workers in any of these industries would not have received the additional remuneration, because it would have been on account of the remuneration not being paid that the Excise would have been collected. The position is this : We have to consider whether it is in the best interests of the manufacturers, the workers, and the whole community, that the back Excise should be collected, or that the remuneration to which the workers are entitled should be paid to them. Which do honorable senators most desire? Speaking for myself, I desire most earnestly that the workers who have in the past been deprived of wages to which they were entitled should receive them as soon as possible. Do all honorable senators desire the same thing ?
– They ought to receive those wages, since the profit has been made by the manufacturers.
– Then, if all honorable senators desire that the workers shall receive the wages they are entitled to they must bear in mind that that cannot be brought about by the collection of the Excise by the Government. If the Government collect the Excise the money will go into the Treasury, and, like all other revenue derived from Customs and Excise, it must automatically be divided amongst the States. Who would then recoup, the workers the wages of which they have been deprived by the manufacturers?
– The worker may be humbugged all the time.
– He is being humbugged all the time.
– We passed a certain Act with the best intentions, and it is our duty now to see that it is enforced in such a way as to give effect to the object we had in passing it, and so that the unfortunate workers shall derive the benefit we intended them to derive from the operation of the law.
– At some future date.
– They cannot get what they are entitled to unless the Government take some steps in the matter, and if the Government collect the Excise the workers cannot get what they are entitled to at all. The Government have taken some steps in the matter. They have issued a circular in which it appears to me they give the manufacturers the option. They say, “ Either you pay the Excise into the Treasury or pay the back wages to the employes.”
– Is that what the Government have done?
– That is how it appears to me. The Government have required from the manufacturers a bond to the extent of one-fifth of the value of the articles they have produced that something of this kind will be done. It is with me only a question as to which is the best course to. adopt. I admit that the Government did wrong in failing to collect the Excise, and that, consequently, fair wages were not paid to the workers in the industries concerned as soon as they ought to have been. But how are we at the present juncture to give the Government and the manufacturers an opportunity to act fairly towards the workers who have been defrauded in the past of the remuneration they should have received? I think the Government have taken the only step they could take if it is their intention that the workers shall reap the benefit of the Act. If the manufacturers decline to comply with the wishes of Parliament and of the
Government, it will be the duty of the Government after the expiration of the notice given to come down upon them and collect the Excise straight away. If they do not I shall be prepared to assist every other member of the Senate in doing all we possibly can-
– To get a further postponement ?
– To put the Government in the position in which every Government should be put that neglect to do their duty.
– Does the honorable senator not think that twelve months is a sufficiently long time in which to expect the Government to do their duty ?
– It is too long; but I have admitted that the Government have failed in this matter.
– What punishment should be imposed upon the Government if they failed in the circumstances he has suggested?
– We should remove them, and put the honorable senator in their place to see whether he . would do any better. If the honorable senator, through his leader, will give us an assurance that honorable senators opposite would be prepared to do what is desired should the present Government fail either to collect the Excise or to see that the employes in . these industries are fairly treated, not only in respect of the present and future, but in respect also of the past, we shall be prepared to consider the desirability of turning the present Government out in order that honorable senators opposite might be given a chance.
Senator Major O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [5.20]. - I desire, on the first reading of this Bill, to say a word on two or three subjects. First, as to the question raised by Senators Findley and McGregor. No doubt the intention of Parliament in giving protection to certain manufacturers was not that it should lead to the establishment of a monopoly which would benefit only the manufacturers, but that their employes, and also the consumers of the ar- ticles they produced, should participate to some extent in the advantages derived from the protection afforded them against foreign competition. It was provided that the manufacturers should give fair wages and conditions to their employes, and also that the prices of the articles manufactured should not be increased, but should, during a certain period, be reduced according to a certain scale. The object of the Act was not to collect revenue, but to distribute the advantages of the protection- afforded between the manufacturers, employes, and consumers. That object could not be achieved by the collection of the Excise.
– It has taken twelve months for the Government to discover that.
– T - That can hardly be excused, but in justice to some of the manufacturers it should not be forgotten that, in Victoria at any rate,- in the case of McKay, for instance, the manufacturer was able to say with some reason, that he did not know what fair conditions were.
– Surely a manufacturer knows that is. 4d. a day is not reasonable wages for a man.
– Cer Certainly; but the honorable senator must admit that there is something in the contention that until the tribunal appointed under the Act to deal with this matter had determined what fair conditions were, there was some excuse for the employers saying : “ You cannot expect us to comply with conditions that have never been definitely laid down.”
– There is no excuse for Mr. McKay, and the honorable senator cannot find any.
– The There is something to be said for him on the grounds I have stated.
– There is nothing to be said in his favour. He has been a notorious sweater.
– A c A certain condition of affairs having arisen, it was for the Government to consider what was the best thing to do in the circumstances. Mr. McKay having failed to secure exemption was liable . to pay . Excise on the 1st January last, but to collect that Excise, so far from achieving the object for which the Act was passed, would be to prevent any possibility of the employes ob- taining any benefit.
– No. Why should not the Government collect the Excise, and pay the employes.
– The There is no provision for that.
– There is no provision for suspending the collection of the Excise, and yet the Government are doing that.
– I d I do not propose to discuss the legality of their action. It is a very difficult question to decide, but I take it that in issuing the circular referred to the Government acted upon competent advice, and upon information that they could accomplish the object of the Act, by some arrangement which would secure to the employes the payment of the back wages due to them.
– I think the answer to my question was that the Government did not even consult their law officers on the point.
– The honorable senator wished to know too much.
– I t I take it that responsible Ministers, before adopting a certain course, satisfy themselves that what they propose to do can be legally done. It is patent that it would be impossible for the Government to collect the Excise and then distribute it amongst the employes,- because the Constitution provides that three-fourths at least of the Excise collected should be distributed in a certain fixed way. I remind Senator Findley that it is not a question of the States making a claim for three-fourths of the revenue collected from Customs and Excise. That amount must be returned to them automatically under the Constitution, and I believe the practice has been to distribute it in that way every month.
– The honorable senator believes in the principle that “ any stick is good enough to beat a dog with “ ?
– If If Senator Neild can show me that I have not correctly stated the position, I shall be glad to hear him, but I think that what I have said is indisputable, and the Excise, if collected, must be distributed in a certain way.
– And the probability is- they will claim it.
– I - It is not a question of their claiming the revenue; it must be paid under the Constitution.
– I am aware of that, but the Government have neglected the collection of the Excise, and the States Governments have a claim against the Commonwealth for three- fourths of the Excise which should have been collected and was not.
– Assuming that the Excise was collected, and* three-fourths paid to the States, is the honorable senator in a position to say that the remaining one-fourth would not be sufficient to cover the extra wages to which the” employes are entitled ?
– I a I am not in a position to answer that question. ‘ I doubt very much whether the Government would, under the Constitution, have power to distribute the revenue from Excise in the way proposed.
– They could get a Bill through if they desired to do so.
– If If the honorable senator refers to new legislation, of course Parliament could do almost anything, but what he suggests would involve an investigation with respect to the men employed during the last six months by the firms liable to Excise, and of the amounts which they were entitled to receive, an investigation which I do not think it would be possible for the Government to undertake.
– How are the employers to get the men together and pay them ?
– I d I do not think there would be any difficulty about that. The men could be trusted to look after their own interests.
– The men could be found just as well whether the Government or the employers paid them.
– By By collecting the Excise we should defeat the intention for which the Act was passed. Whereas under the proposal made by the Government the employes will at least have a. chance to secure the remuneration which Parliament in passing the Bill desired that they should obtain. If the Government by some arrangement can1 secure to the employes the payment of the wages which a judicial tribunal has decided they should have been paid from the 1st of January last, they will be doing good work, and might be excused for much of the neglect they have shown in the administration of the law in the past.
– The Excise should have been collected from the 1st of January, -and upon the employers showing that they had paid fair and reasonable wages it could have been refunded to them.
– I w I wish now to refer to another matter. A few weeks ago Senator McGregor asked a question as to the constitutionality of a subsidy paid by Victoria to a shipping company for the conveyance of goods between Melbourne and Sumatra and Java. The reply given was that the Government were advised by the Crown law officers .that the subsidy was not in contravention of the
Constitution. I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council next day whether he would lay the opinion of the Crown law officers on the table of the Senate. The honorable senator took the view that the advice was confidential, and could not be made available to honorable senators. I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to refer to a few particulars in connexion with the matter. If it is not a contravention of the Constitution that one State should subsidize a line . of steamers to secure the export of its produce to the detriment of the trade of another State the Constitution must lack some essential provision to give complete effect to Interstate free–trade.
– What does the honorable senator mean by suggesting that it would be detrimental to the trade of another State ?
– The The subsidy paid enables the shipping company to offer Victorian exporters lower freights than are available to traders in an adjoining State.
– So far as my recollection goes, the freights are uniform from every part of the Commonwealth.
– The The honorable senator forgets the subsidy paid by Victoria.
– I was talking about the freights, not about the subsidy.
– T - The position is that some twenty years ago South Australia, by the energy of her traders and the excellence of her commodities, was enabled, without the payment of any subsidy to a shipping company, to enjoy the greater part of the trade in flour and cereals carried on between Australia and Java and Singapore. I can quote some figures to show the position last year. The quantity of flour exported from South Australia to Java and Singapore was 26,280 tons, whilst the quantity exported to the same places from Victoria was only 951 tons, though the freights from Melbourne and from Adelaide were identical. It was not by reason of geographical position that South Australia was able to obtain this trade, but through the energy of her merchants and the superior quality of their goods. Perhaps I can best bring the matter before the Senate by reading a communication which was addressed on the 16th October to the Prime Minister by the Chief Secretary of South Australia on behalf of its Premier -
I have the honor to place before you the following facts : -
The State of South Australia has been exporting certain of its products (nrincipally floury for 20 years and upwards to Java and Singa-‘ pore; such exportation has increased annually, and this State now has the larger portion of Australian trade in flour with Java and Singapore. 2. (a) Last year the quantity of flour exported by South Australia to Java and Singapore was 26,288 tons.
The quantity exported to the same places by Victoria was only 951 tons.
The freights from Melbourne and Adelaide . were then identical.
The trade referred to has been built up bymerchants of this State without State aid.
Other markets in the East, particularly Manilla, China, . and Japan, whose geographical positions are ‘more favorable to the Eastern States of the Commonwealth than to South Australia,’ are open to and supplied by those States, and South Australia is at a disadvantage therein ascompared with those. States to the extent of from, six to eight shillings per ton freight.
The Government of Victoria has recently, entered into an agreement operative for threeyears, with Messrs. Archibald Currie and Coy:, for subsidizing such company by a payment of £2,000 per annum upon a five-weekly service ofcargo steamers between Melbourne and Singapore, vid Javanese ports, and it is. a term of. such agreement that freights from Melbourne to Singapore are to be at no time higher than those from Adelaide or Sydney.
By reason of such aid Victorian produce will be carried to Java and Singapore at lower rates than those from South Australia,, which grants no subsidy.
– Not by that line of steam-ships ?
– Wha What else? It does the bulk of the trade between those parts.
– The only stipulation is that the freight shall not be higher, not that it shall be lower.
– T - Thisquestion has been brought before the Government by South Australia. The letter continues-
My Government therefore urge you to take immediate action -
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if that agreement is not a contravention of the letter of the Constitution, it is, at any rate, a contravention of its spirit.
Section 90 reads -
On the imposition of uniform duties of Customs the power of the Parliament to impose duties of Customs and of Excise, and to grant bounties. on the production or export of goods, shall become exclusive.
– How does that affect this question? On what words is the honorable, senator relying?’
– Is Is not that subsidy really a bounty? Is itnot given as an aid ?
– It is not a bounty on the production or export of any goods.
– It It is given in aid of the export of certain products, and what is that but a bounty? If the Constitution can be evaded in that manner, why cannot we have differential railway rates and other impediments to trade between the States - things which the Federation was intended to prevent?
– So we can until we get an Inter-State Commission.
– Yes Yes, I believe that we shall have difficulties of that sort arising until we get an InterState Commission, whose duty it will be to adjust any differences between the States, and to see that the smaller States in particular are not placed under any disability. In the present Government, whose members are drawn mainly from the representatives of the three States which are interested in this agreement, South Australia is not represented. It has not the advantage of getting its position put before the Cabinet as well as might otherwise be done. Of course, I do not suggest that intentionally any Ministers would overlook its claims, but it is certainly placed at a disadvantage. I trust that the Government will look into this matter, and see if something . cannot be done to place South Australia on a. fair footing. It simply asks that it may occupy its old position in regard to this trade. It seeks no assistance, or favour of any sort, but asks the Commonwealth Government to see that producers in ‘ the wealthier and more populous States shall not be able, by means of subsidies tosteamboats, to undersell South Australian producers.
– Mr. President, in. view of the contemplated adjournment, I desire to bring under your notice a matter’ in connexion with an officer of the Senate. On this side of the parliamentary buildings there is a room which is under , your jurisdiction, and is used by the Interstate pressmen, with whom, of course,. . I have no desire to interfere. I understand that, owing to that arrangement, the housekeeper, whose quarters are . on this side, has to remain up, no matter how late the other House may sit. He has to be on duty in connexion with that room, whereas the other attendants are released from duty when the Senate is not sitting.. Perhaps, sir, you may be able to make such an arrangement as will enable the housekeeper . to be relieved as other attendants are relieved when the Senate isnot sitting, especially as probably he will be required to stay here until late hours, while we are dealing with the. Tariff. I feel sure, sir, that the matter has only to be mentioned to you to be dealt with, and without inconvenience to the Inter-State pressmen. With regard to the collection of Excise duty, it has been urged, on behalf of the position taken up by the Government, that the manufacturers of agricultural machinery are entitled to consideration because it was not the intention of Parliament that the duty should be collected, but to give increased protection and insure fair conditions to the workers. While that is so, we should not lose sight of the fact that it was not the intention of Parliament to give increased protection to the manufacturers, except on terms of better provision for the workers. So, if we are going to take into consideration the intention of Parliament, we must recognise that it has not been carried out by the manufacturers generally, and that, as regards particular manufacturers, no such attempt has been made. It seems to me that the Government could meet the situation by bringing in a Bill authorizing them to pay out of the Excise revenue to be collected from the1st January last to the employes, on the certificates of those firms, the difference between the wages they have received and those which the Court said they ought to have received, and tq refund the balance to the manufacturers.
– The Government cannot do that. If they collect the Excise duty, they must give 75 - per cent, of it to the States.
– I think that the duty should be collected, until the employer satisfies the Minister that he has complied with the conditions of the Act - and then it should be refunded to him.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of the extent to which the’ men have been short paid?
– The Government must first catch their hare. They must first collect the duty, and when that is done, they must give 75 per cent, of it to the States.
– The Government can collect the Excise duty if they want to do so, for they have full power to realize on the plant and property of the manufacturers. It seems to me that the. Government should notify the manufacturers that they will collect the duty, and require them either to pay the duty on the machines which they have produced since the1st January last, or to satisfy the Minister that they have paid to their employ6s the difference between the old rates and the authorized rates. If the Government have not the necessary power to take that course, why do they not bring in a Bill now? I am sure that every honorable senator would gladly remain here the necessary time to pass.it. On a previous occasion, the Government passed a Bill in very quick time to give additional protection to these manufacturers, and why should not a Bill be brought in now to carry out my suggestion ? I do not think that there is one honorable senator who would npt be prepared to stay here another week, if necessary, to pass a Bill for that purpose, thus letting the men have the advantage of the additional payment before Christmas. We know that many of the men have been unemployed for weeks. They have been thrown out of employment, it may be because of the season or it may be because of the award of the Court.
– Could it not be done without a Bill?
– It is urged, I understand, that it cannot be done without additional power. If, however, the Government say that it can be done without a Bill, why is it not done?
– Of course, it cannot be done.
– Then why do not the Government take additional power at once? The manufacturers are looking forward to their position being made permanent by the new Tariff.
– They are standing on velvet all the time.
– The manufacturers have to bear in mind that in each House there are men who may not be prepared to allow them to stand on velvet, if they, show any desire to withhold what is due to the workers. At the same time, if we leave this matter alone until the Tariff has been passed through both Houses, the manufacturers can snap their fingers at us, and al? our desires will Le mere pious wishes. That is why I think it should be dealt, with before we adjourn over the Christmas holidays. The Government should ask Parliament for the necessary power.
– What do thev want power to do?
– They want power to pay back to the manufacturers the money which they demand from them in Excise, on the manufacturers satisfying them that they have paid to their employes the difference between the wages they were previously paying and the wages awarded by Mr. Justice Higgins.
– Would it not be much simpler for the manufacturers to pay the wages now.- and then the Government would not need to interfere?
– The manufacturers have the remedy in their own hands, but if they will not pay the wages, the Government must collect the Excise. But I can. see that there will be a hardship, if a manufacturer is willing to pay the difference, andwe collect the Excise, unless the Government have power . to hand it back. I do not want to penalize the manufacturers. I wish simply to insure that they do what is ‘fair to their employes, in accordance with the legislation which we have passed. I wish to deal with the question of wireless telegraphy, which I raised on the first Supply Bill this session. The
Minister of Home Affairs assured me that the Government were proceeding with the laying of the cable to Tasmania, because their experts advised them that, even with the establishment of wireless telegraphy, the cable would be necessary as a standby to maintain communication. Senator Needham has raised the question again . today, and there is in this Bill a vote for that purpose. We are trustees of public money, and we should not allow the Government to spend that money on an antiquated system which is being superseded, if a new system has. been proved to be a commercial success. I have here two cuttings from the London Daily Mail. The first, published on the 24th . September of this year, is as follows -
Atlantic Wireless in 3 Weeks. (From Our Own Correspondent.)
Sydney (Nova Scotia), Monday, Sept. 23.
Mr. Marconi informs me that his Transatlantic wireless service from Cape Breton to Clifden, Ireland, will start in three weeks’ time. “We have settled all difficulties,” he said, “ with the Canadian Government. We can send easily twenty words a minute. I am not at all surprised at the report that the cable companies are preparing to meet our competition by reducing rates to 5d. a word ordinary and 2?d. Press.”
To the other, which appeared on the 26th September of this year, I invite the special attention of the Minister of Home Affairs -
Cheaper and Quicker than the Cable. (From Our Own Correspondent.)
Sydney (Nova Scotia), Tuesday, Sept. 24.
In my interview with Mr. Marconi to-day on the inauguration in three weeks’ time of the wireless Transatlantic service, the inventor said : “ The weather will have no effect on our work unless our poles or masts should be damaged. Lightning will not bother us at all. “ At present we send twenty to thirty-five words a minute, but we could work much faster. We have made no effort for speed. I shall send the first commercial wireless message myself, and after the station is opened shall remain near for about a week. The annual meeting of shareholders will be held in London in a few days. “ I should not be surprised if the cable companies reduce their rates. It will be a good thing for the public. I shall charge5d. a word for private messages and 2?d. for Press work. In the matter of despatch we need fear no competition. “We are working day and night to bring our plans to a successful issue, and 1 give you my permission to say that in less than a month the Marconi wireless system will be working as smoothly and with as much perfection as its elder brother the cable.”
Transatlantic messages, he added, cannot be intercepted by ships at sea.
Mr. Marconi is whole heartedly optimistic, and shows jubilant confidence in the success of the new service.
The Speed of Wireless.
How rapidly wireless messages are to be sent across the Atlantic was explained by an official of the Marconi Company yesterday. “ Suppose,” he said, “ a message of some twenty words is handed in at Broadway, New York, at 2 p.m. London time (or 9 a.m. New York time), addressed to the ‘Daily Mail.’ Its progress would be as follows :
” Of course, if it was a message for publica- ‘ tion it would cost only 2?d. a word, plus land charges. There is no reason why in time we should not be able to send 200 or 300 words a minute.”
I understand that since that was published the service between Ireland and Canada has come into actual working operation.
– The. latest files of Canadian papers showed that there was something like a deadlock between the Marconi Company and the Canadian Government, owing to the company not com: plying with the terms of their licence.
– I do not think that the honorable senator has seen any statement that the scheme has been a failure through any inherent defects in it.
– No. The company would not allow the Government to exercise that measure of control in the interests of the public which the Government should do. The company wanted too much of its own way.
– That is, ofcourse, a purely business arrangement.- The Canadian Government have practically entered into an. agreement with the company for a wireless service across the Atlantic, and yet the Australian Government hesitate about a service across Bass Strait. The Government could easily ascertain if the Atlantic service is a commercial success. If it can be worked across the Atlantic, it ought to be easily worked1 across Bass Strait. That would save all the trouble of laying down the cables; it would make us independent of the cable company ; the first cost would be much less, and, according to the statement, of the inventor, it would be just as efficient as and cheaper than the cable in working. I hope that before the Government finally decide- to- lay the cable- to Tasmania they will fully satisfy themselves that the wireless telegraph system would not be cheaper and better. I’ make that suggestion in no spirit of hostility to the idea of better communication between Tasmania and the mainland. The VicePresident of the Executive Council, in reply to a question put by me a little time ago,said that the Government intended to take Parliament into their confidence regarding their defence policy, and would make a statement before the session closed, and, hehoped, before the Christmas adjournment. I am sorry that we are going to adjourn without that statement having been-made. I ask the Minister, when replying, to tell the Senate whether the Government have had any intimation from the two officers who were sent to England of the date of their probable return. Will the Minister also inform the Senate when the Government propose to make a statement to Parliament of their defence policy ?
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.53]. - Owing to the discharge of a public duty, I was not present at the commencement of the sitting - I am not very often absent at that time - when, I understand, an important announcement was made by Senator Millen from this side of the chamber. I desire to take advantage of the present motion to put myself absolutely right in connexion with something that has been going on last week and this. First of all, I believe that two meetings were, held, at neither of which was mv attendance sought, and therefore I am under no obligation in connexion therewith. But, understanding that there was to be a meeting to-day, and believing that Senator Walker would probably be at that meeting, I sent him, with a covering note, a memorandum which I desire to put on record, because I think it contains propositions worthy of consideration in connexion with the working of a novel Constitution. It must be admitted that the Constitution under which we are working, especially that portion which relates to the Senate, is positively novel, and without any example in the world.
– Senator Walker informed me that you had been invited to attend, by him.
– If Senator Walker made that statement, he was under a serious misapprehension. . I should, be the last to suppose that,Senator Walker would intentionally make a statement which was not correct. I do not want to be led; into any bickerings. The position is quite simple. Nine or ten honorable senatorshave had their meetings, and, surely, if their mouth-piece makes his statement, I, as one who assists in the representation of one of the States, have a right to make my statement. Senator Walker’s apprehension, as expressed by Senator Dobson, is utterly wrong - so much so that he told me on Friday last that I had not been invited.
– Personally, I told you myself-
– The honorable senator has elected a mouth-piece, and therefore has closed his own mouth.
– Order ! I prevented Senator St. Ledger from interjecting. Will Senator Neild proceed?
– Honorable senators opposite should not quarrel.
– I am not quarrelsome. This is what’ I stated in my memorandum -
Regarding the proposal that senators sitting, on the left hand of the presidential chair shall be constituted a political party under an acknowledged’ leader-
– I might be allowed to state that the honorable senator’s action is in very bad taste.
– Order ! Senator Neild is at present in possession of the chair. Whether his action is in good or bad taste is a matter for himself to decide.
– He is going to do a very improper thing, and he has not even a quorum to listen to it. ‘
– There is a quorum present.
– This is the statement which I forwarded to Senator Walker-
Regarding the proposal that senators sitting on the left hand of the presidential chair shall be constituted a political party under an acknowledged leader, it seems to me appropriate that I, with the exception of the President the senator with thelongest parliamentary service, should make my views and position absolutely clear.
It has appeared, and still appears, to me that such action as indicated would be in opposition to the clear intention of the Commonwealth Constitution, which specifically provides (1) for the representation of the people - and necessarily political parties - in the House of Representatives, and (2) for the representation of State entities in the Senate, which chamber undoubtedly exists, not for the advancement of the claims of warring factions, but for the protection of State interests. .
Those views I put forward at a meeting of free-trade senators when the Federal Parliament first met, and further study of the Constitution confirms these opinions.
Indeed, I am satisfied that to depart from this attitude and become implicated in efforts to promote . political factions’ and political intrigues which aim at the advancement of personal rather than national ends, would be ai act of unfaithfulness to the Federal Constitution.
At the meeting in question my view was indorsed. Senators present refrained from the election of a leader, and during the more than six and a half years which have since passed, there has been no attempt to constitute the divergent politicians sitting on the’ left of the presidential chair a political - party, or to appoint a leader to hamper their individual freedom of action.
It is, therefore, both curious and remarkable that such proposals should be put forward at the present time when no necessity for any such action exists, and when the Senate is about to rise for an adjournment of some months’ duration.
The proposal to constitute a party inside Parliament, which would not represent any similar party outside Parliament, and which would not be united by any known political principles or ties, ‘involves so great a departure from constitutional “ standards as to threaten consequences of a serious character.
What possible basis for political agreement exists amongst’ the twelve or thirteen senators -vlio sit on the President’s left?
Six or seven, possibly, were elected mainly to Combat Socialism. Three certainly were elected to fight for Tariff reduction, and for the general rights of their State. One, at least, was elected to promote protection - (as were a majority of the anti-Socialist senators). The reasons for the election of the remainder are less clearly known. What basis for union exists amongst this heterogeneous group?
Is it not a fact that a South Australian senator moved an amendment on the Sugar Bounties Bill designed to prevent the payment of the bounty to New South Wales growers?
Is it not a fact that a Tasmanian senator sought to raise the Tobacco Excise, which would have brought about the destruction of tobaccogrowing in New South Wales?
Is it not a fact that another Tasmanian senator has been and is an utterly irreconcilable opponent of the fulfilment of the constitutional obligation for the establishment of the Federal Capital?
– That is grossly inaccurate.
– I must ask the honorable senator to cease these interjections. Thev are highly disorderly, and conduce to further disorder.
– What, is more, Senator Dobson referred to me as a pig. I object to that sort of expression.
– The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– I will withdraw anything.
– And express regret for having used it.
– I do express my regret ; but at the same time I must also express my regret that Senator Neild is doing a most ungentlemanly act.
– The honorable senator has no right whatever to reflect on the way in which Senator Neild chooses to make his speech, and I will ask him not to interrupt again.
Representatives of distinct electorates may be able to merge the interests of their consituents in those of a political party pledged t3 promote identical interests throughout the country. But how can a senator, elected by an entire State, appropriately, honorably, or constitutionally sink the interests of his State in those of any other of the great divisions of the Commonwealth, as he most certainly must do if he places himself and his freedom of action at the disposal and dictation of a faction ?
– Speak for yourself, Colonel. That is what you do, I suppose.
– Order ! The honorable senator will be good enough not to interrupt.
How, for instance, is it possible for a New South Wales senator to subordinate the interests of his State to those of South Australia, in the matter of the Murray Waters-
– That point was settled before the honorable .senator’s letter was sent*
– I again ask the honorable senator not to interrupt. He will have an opportunity to speak later on.
– or to silently acquiesce if his leader, or a majority of the party to which he has bound himself, sees fit to oppose the fulfilment of the constitutional obligations regarding the Federal Capital ?
If’ there are any senators who’ deem themselves insufficiently equipped by experience to cope with the exigencies of parliamentary duty,, that is a passing difficulty which may be coped with, without incurring the unconstitutionality and dangers to which I have alluded.
That cohesion is lacking amongst senators on the President’s left, in the working out of matters upon which a majority are agreed, is true enough. This is chiefly due to irregularity of attendance, and irregularity of continuance upon the premises of Parliament.
It is not the duty of senators who claim to be oppositionists to keep a quorum for the Government, but it certainly is presupposed that those who claim to constitute a party will maintain quorums for one another..
– Is that where tha shoe pinches?
– It is quite evident ‘where the shoe pinches. It evidently pinches in a good many places.
This, however, is an obligation which many of those now allegedly anxious to form a party are conspicuous in ignoring.
I have ever been and shall ever be ready to unite with my fellow senators in promoting any action which I can approve, but for the reasons advanced herein, and for other equally pregnant ones, it is not possible for me to fall in with proposals which are plainly opposed to the genius of the Constitution, upon which my constituents have not been consulted,. and which are not, in my view, advantageous to the best interests of parliamentary government, as provided for by the Commonwealth Constitution.
Loose ties are, in my opinion, infinitely more workable and desirable than bonds having no valid or tangible basis. I submit that, to promote co-operation, senators to the left of the chair meet informally once a week (or oftener) in the Opposition Room, and discuss with equal informality such questions as may be brought forward by any senator, with a view of eliciting the opinions entertained and ascertaining what support or opposition may be accorded. If grounds for unity of action do exist amongst senators on the left of the chair, they will be more advantageously developed by such gatherings than by any more formal proceedings or organization.
As I have already said, we are working out a new Constitution, and I desire to place my views on record with regard to what has taken place. Surely no exception can be -taken to that. It is a public matter. I have not been invited to join this new party.
– This is nice conduct !
– My honorable, friend is so enamoured of his position of Whip that he is “ whipping the cat.”
– We have a gentleman - with a big “ G ‘ ‘ - here.
– I make every allowance, but really I think that Senator Dobson has been rebuked so often from the Chair this afternoon that he might be quiet for a little while. Having placed myself right as an independent senator, I . have no more to say on that subject.
– Will the honorable senator lay that letter upon the table of the Senate?
– It will be printed in Hansard, where my honorable friend will be able to derive all the advantage that is possible from it.
– I - It is an important State paper !
– Of course it is.
– In reference to the schedule to this Bill, there are a dozen or two of items” which I wish to talk about. First of all, I desire to indorse very strongly the complaints made by my colleague Senator Gray with reference to the condition of affairs in the Sydney General Post Office. I wish to draw attention to the fact that while we are told that appointments are being made to the temporary staff it seems impossible to learn officially in New South Wales that any are being actually made. Even an application to the Postmaster-General did not secure for me information of any value. I ask Senator Keating, who represents the Postmaster-General in the Senate, whether it is not a fact that some hundreds of temporary hands are required in the Post Office? But it is impossible, apparently, to get any one appointed for this temporary work. A similar condition of affairs exists, at least to some extent, in the Customs House in Sydney ; and I suppose that Sydney . is not unlike other capital cities. I presume that temporary hands are required in other Post Offices and other Customs Houses. The new Tariff has necessarily introduced a large amount of fresh work, because there arenew definitions, new things to be reported upon, and a very large number of articles not previously subject to duty are now dutiable. It is -.obvious, therefore, that more hands are urgently required. Yet, while we are told that new appointments are to be made, we do not find that they ave made. If similar , requirements exist elsewhere, I desire to speak quite as strongly on behalf of other Customs. Houses as on behalf of Sydney. I’ also wish to say a few words in support of the case mentioned by Senator de Largie when the last Supply Bill was before the Senate, viz., the great necessity for completing the surveys of the north-west and west coast of Western Australia. Having travelled there this year, and carefully followed the track of the steamer on charts in. the chartroom, I learnt that every one of those charts, or nearly every one, had printed upon it a notification that the surveys were incomplete, and warning shipmasters to be cautious. The charts are, of course, very old. The surveys, such as they are, were made many years ago. If that portion of the great territory of Australia is to be handled properly it will be most positively necessary for the survey work to be taken up seriously. It may be said that the rest of Australia has provided, .in some form or another, .for charts, and that, therefore, this is a duty that properly falls upon Western Australia. Before Federation, no doubt, that would have been so. But it appears to me to be one of the duties of the Commonwealth to provide for the proper charting of our coasts. It is one of our functions to take charge of coastal lights and beacons, and to exercise supervision over navigation. I do not think that any one will contend that the Commonwealth will be fulfilling its duty if this work is not taken in hand. It is no longer State business. We have taken over the whole work connected with navigation, which, prior to .Federation, was undoubtedly a State matter.
– But coastal survey work was mostly carried out by Imperial officers.
– Undoubtedly, but the Admiralty charts are insufficient.
– They are scarcely worth the name of complete* charts.
– .Something will have to be done, because it is a question in which human life is concerned. Any night on that coast a vessel might go’ down with all hands, because there are huge reefs and rocks as big as a two or three story house sticking up in parts. Those which are only just awash are the most dangerous of all. There are no lights for hundreds of miles, and the rocks are, consequently, deadly dangerous to any ship navigating the west coast of Western Australia. I shall be only too pleased to assist in urging the Government to take up this most urgent matter in the interests, not only of .the development of our trade, but of the lives of the crews and passengers of vessels trading in those waters. I had occasion, in dealing with the last Supply Bill, to refer to several military matters, and, although I did not get very much satisfaction here, I have had some assurances from the Minister of Defence in respect to some of the matters to which I ‘ referred, which will obviate the necessity of referring to them again on this occasion. I therefore let them pass, in the hope that in connexion with them the Minister will see that some relief is granted in the directions I have indicated. There are, of course, ‘ some other matters to which one must refer. It seems like flogging a dead horse to say anything about the Federal Capital, but I do not wish the year to close after a session of something like six months’ duration without saying a word, not merely to take up time, but to repeat a protest which one feels obliged to mention, that the Government should have taken no action with reference to this matter. It is quite true that in 1904, about three and a half years ago, the Federal Parliament passed a certain Bill. I mention the matter because it is so long ago that it is possible some honorable senators may have forgotten the fact. The State Government of New South Wales did not fall in with the provisions of that Bill. Negotiations were opened, and continued for some little time, and the whole subject appears now to have gone over the political horizon into the never-never country of politics. We hear no more about it, and unless some action is taken by the .Government a Commonwealth obligation, which is not the least one imposed by the Constitution, will continue to be ignored.
– A lack of action cannot be attributed to this Parliament. If the New South Wales Parliament would give us the Capital we ask for, the question would be settled at once.
– The Federal authority has freely recognised a willingness to ‘ 1 pow-pow ; ‘ over the matter, and carry on further negotiations. That is clearly shown by the fact that the Commonwealth have been at some little expense in conveying members of the Federal Pailiament to view other sites than that which was at first selected. If that means anything at all, it means that the Federal Parliament recognises that the selection made three years ago has gone over, and that something fresh has to be done. If that is not the correct view, and if the expenditure incurred by the Federal Government in taking members of this Parliament to view new sites does not involve an intention to reopen the whole question, then the Commonwealth Government have wilfully and wickedly squandered public money. But I do not think they have done so. I do not for a moment suppose that the Government expended 20s. in assisting members of this Parliament to view different sites without intending that an opportunity should be afforded to .reopen the whole question. ‘ It is notorious that in the speech with which the GovernorGeneral opened the present session, an intention to reopen the question was disclosed. Indeed, a Bill has been introduced in another place which, if it does not positively provide for a new site, has been introduced in such a form that the idea appears to have been that amendments might be moved upon it with a view to the selection of another site. It is painful to have to keep hammering at the same subject, but the representatives of the State most immediately concerned in this matter have a positive duty not to allow an entire year to pass by without saying a word about it. I have not previously said a word on the subject during the present session, but as we are getting to the close of our sittings for 1907, I feel it to be my duty to refer to the matter. Whilst I have said that the question is one which more immediately concerns New South Wales, I submit with great respect that it is of interest to the entire Commonwealth, and should not be regarded as merely of interest to NewSouth Wales. There was a good deal of talk at one time about our becoming a nation, when the Australian States were federated, but at the. end of six and a half, or nearly seven, years, the Parliament of the Federation is content - to use a phrase which I once used here before - to continue to lodge with mother-in-law Victoria free of rent. Our position as occupants of this great building, free of rent, and at the expense of Victoria, is exactly that of an improvident young couple having no home of their own, contracting matrimony, and then living with mother-in-law on the cheap.
– Who is .fatherinlaw ?
– Senator Walker filled the part, I was going to say of the heavy father, but the honorable senator is too volatile, and too full of hilarity to be considered a heavy father. The honorable senator filled the position, shall I say, of one of the godfathers of the Federation with so much ability and energy, that I think he might be well content to allow his blushing honours to lie thick upon him, and give a hand in assisting the Federal Parliament, within a reasonable time, to obtain a home of its own. We are simply poaching here, and to use a colloquialism, it is not “ up to the Commonwealth “ to do that sort of thing. It is much better that we should have a home of our own than that we should continue to occupy the position of legislative cadgers.
– The honorable senator, might as well reconcile himself to his surroundings, because we shall be here - for the next fifteen or twenty years.
– If Senator Findley is in a position to aid the fulfilment of his prophecy, I am sure he may be trusted to do all he can to convince the world what a perfectly reliable prophet he is. There are a number of subjects on which I wish to speak, but I propose to cut my remarks very short. Without discussing the question - because I believe it is the wish of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to get on with the Supply Bill during the hours which would otherwise be devoted to private members’ business to-night-
– I think there is a firstclass prospect of our being able to get through with the business to-night.
– I have a notice of motion on the paper, to which I am entitled to make only a passing reference at this stage, dealing with the proposed early closing of the Post and Telegraph Offices. The matter is one of great public interest, and I should like to obtain an expression of opinion from the Senate upon it. Clearly, if there is fo be a .drastic change made in connexion with this great public Department, if it does not meet with popular approval, there are likely to be “ wigs on the green.”
– I think I shall be able to show that the change proposed is not so drastic as the honorable member supposes.
– I am always prepared to give way where I can do so without sacrifice of principle, and I am prepared to give way on this occasion with a view to expedite business if the VicePresident of the Executive Council can give the Senate an assurance that the proposed alteration will not be made until Parliament has had an opportunity to consider the matter. I cannot discuss the question, but perhaps I shall not be considered as out of order if I say that as the matter is one which may involve the convenience of hundreds of thousands of people it is of such importance that Parliament should be given an opportunity to discuss it before the proposed change is made. Should I receive the assurance for which I ask from the VicePresident of the Executive Council, I shall be prepared to withdraw my notice of motion, whilst I am prepared to withdraw the other matters I have on the business paper in any circumstances.
– I may remind the honorable senator that the consideration of the Supply Bill will be continued at a quarter to 8 o’clock.
– I had overlooked the suspension of the Standing Orders. It appears that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and I cannot trade, and I congratulate the honorable gentleman upon having the best half of this transaction. I hope, however, that the honorable gentleman will be able to give the Senate an assurance that the drastic change proposed will not be made until Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss the proposal. The proposed change will be of infinitely more consequence than the passage of many of the Bills submitted to us, and if the honorable gentleman will give the assurance for which I have asked, I shall proceed no further.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– It is not my intention to occupy much time. I do not think that I would have spoken if it had not been for the speech of Senator Neild. When he, in his wisdom, was reading a long letter he drew a sort of division line between those who sit on the one side and those who sit on the other. ‘Some of his remarks made me think of a passage I heard long ago about the sheep and the goats. To me sitting on this side, and amongst the goats, I thought, as I listened to the speech, that it was a bit comical. Some honorable senators may ask ‘’ Who are the sheep and who are the goats?” I think that the President would say that the goats were those who sat on a certain side and whom he had most trouble to keep in order. Certainly they could not be called the sheep.
– Those are the giddy goats.
– - The honorable senator objected to-night when I made an interjection to assist him in his speech. I want the Senate and the public to understand that although for various reasons I sit on this side-
– The honorable senator is still a sheep.
– When I was sitting on the other side, behind the Government, and I did not agree with them, Senator Best would look at me so comically that I thought it would be better for me to shift to a quieter spot for fear of hearing. Ministerial secrets. I am not quite done with that matter yet. My confidence has been considerably shaken in the Government, but not in democratic politics. I am still true to labour. Senator McGregor is my leader here. I was sorry to see the bitterness of feeling which was exhibited to-day, but it will be all dead to-morrow. I only wish that there was a little more of the true Christian Socialism on this side, where the goats are. Permit me, sir, to read a short extract, which I got at the request of Senator Guthrie, from an Adelaide comic newspaper a few weeks ago-
In the Senate, Josiah Symon is also frequently absent on court business, leaving his billet to no one in particular. Pulsford had it, and Pulsford got sick and went ‘Ome; Gould tried it, but left for the President’s chair; Clemons and Millen whacked it, but they have both been away lately, leaving the burden to Macfarlane, the dour and silent of Tasmania. Mac made a bad fist of it by missing his chance to speak on the second reading of the Excise Procedure Bill, and now anyone can have it.
After the remarks of Senator Neild and the little passage at arms between him and one of the nicest men here - Senator Dobson - I thought it would not be out of place to read that extract, so that we could all have a laugh together. I am sorry that Senator Neild took it amiss that he was not. invited to the caucus meeting.
– I do not take it amiss. I think it is a great honour.
– He was invited.
– I was not.
– Even in the days of the Apostles, good men and true as they were, there was a dispute amongst them as to who should be the greatest. It seems to me that that has been the case here this afternoon, and I hope that it will not occur again. Although I belong to the Labour Party, I have always recognised in Senator Millen a gentleman who was thoroughly diplomatic, equal to anyemergency, and, not being a lawyer, always able to speak straight on a subject, and make one understand exactly where he was. I congratulate my conservative friends upon having such a leader, and I hope that even -Senator Neild will fall into line and obey the wish of the majority. I have listened to the Socialists foam the other side of the Senate, as Senator St. Ledger would say, and on the question which has been under discussion, and which sickened me of the Government to some extent, let me say that, in my opinion, their trifling with the policy of new protection is simply abominable. I was astonished to hear even Senator O’Loghlin try to patch up an excuse for them.
– I - I want the men to get their wages.
– So do I. The Act has been in force since the1st January last, and if the Government had collected the Excise as soon as it was possible, the matter would have been remedied long ago. Mr. McKay and the other manufacturers would have found that , it would suit them better to give the men a fair living wage than to pay the duty. Had the Government acted promptly, the men would not have had to take up the position of plaintiff and incur the expense which they did. The employers would have met them more than half way. I do not think that any excuse can be patched up for the dilatoriness of the Government. It sounds very well to talk of the men being paid the arrears.
– Does not the honorable senator think that they should be recouped their legal expenses?
-Yes ; and so should those who were put to so much trouble, worry, and expense in connexion with the senatorial election in South Australia through the mismanagement and bungling of incapable officers. I intended to confine my remarks within the space of about seven minutes. I have very nearly done, and I hope that my good friend will be better to-morrow.
– I am in excellent health.
– Let me now state my reason for speaking. Visitors coming into the gallery, after reading the eloquent speech of the honorable senator,, and seeing me, who was returned by South Australia as a Labour Socialist, sitting behind the noble Colonel, would say, “Senator Russell of South Australia has gone over from his Labour principles and sits behind one of the leading Tories in Australia.” But although I sit here, I am true to my Labour principles, and, as I have stated, Senator McGregor is my leader.
– I regret that I have to correct a statement I made when I interjected with regard to Senator Neild’s speech. . I ought not to have said that Senator Walker. had told me that he had invited Senator Neild to be present at the meeting. I ought to have said that Senator Walker told me that Senator Sayers had invited Senator Neild to attend. I have since been informed by Senator Macfarlane and Senator St. Ledger that each of them invited Senator Neild to attend.
– Certainly not. I was spoken to about some movement, but I was not invited to any meeting.
– I can quite understand a man who has a colossal egotism and an infinite vanity which’ has to be fed on all occasions, forgetting that he was invited on three separate occasions to attend the meeting. But how my honorable friend could have penned such a document, as has been -read here to-day, to the chairman of a meeting to which he was not invited - concocted it for the purpose of showing up the Opposition or recording it in Hansard - I do not know. Speaking, not personally, but generally, I have come to the conclusion that it is very easy for a politician to leave his gentlemanly instincts outside the chamber.
– The honorable senator is giving an example of that tonight. .
– Order !
– I desire to say a few words about this doctrine of new protection, which appears to me to be one of the most illegal and unconstitutional proposals which have ever been submitted to a House of Parliament. How the Government, formed as it is of men who have some knowledge of constitutional government, could have induced themselves’ to submit such a proposal, and to back it up by affecting to believe that it was legal and constitutional, I do not know. I have listened with absolute amazement to the debate which has been going on here and in another place ; almost every speaker on the other side taking it for granted that the new protection is constitutional, and has come to stay. I am sure that a baby could have seen that my honorable friends could not put on taxation just as they would turn a screw, until the States pay the wages and conform to the hours which they think are fair, and so bv a side wind twist “the Constitution in order to take absolute power over the industrial conditions of the Commonwealth, when for six years there is not a single member of the Parliament but has known and declared that we had no such power. It is the most wonderful thing that ever happened, and, although
I understand that some of my honorable colleagues are in favour of the doctrine underlying the new protection, I think it is only on the principle of giving a clog enough rope and he will soon hang himself. For six years motions have been submitted and discussed for the purpose of getting the Constitution altered in order to give the Commonwealth absolute power over industrial legislation, so that we might have not only an Arbitration Court to deal with disputes extending be von d the borders of one State, but be able to pass industrial legislation and create a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration applying to every State throughout the Commonwealth. When the new Tariff was formulated, some genius suggested that we could influence and even control the industrial legislation of the States by making use of our powers of taxation. No more extraordinary doctrine ever entered into the mind of .a politician. I know that the Prime Minister has stated his belief that it is perfectly legal. I can understand a man who is always in earnest and sincere believing anything when he tries long enough and talks himself into it, as Mr. Gladstone used to do, but how Mr. Deakin, as a lawyer, can announce that he believes this legislation to be legal, is more than I can understand. Let us go a little further and test its legality. We have in Tasmania neither Wages Boards nor Arbitration Courts, but supposing that we had an up-to-date system of Wages Boards, with a Board for every trade - which Victoria has not got - and supposing that it was working admirably, what would the Government and those who are supporting them do bv means of the “thumb-screw? They would attempt to declare that our Wages Boards’ verdicts were of no use, and that the wages fixed were not necessarily fair and reasonable. They would nullify the whole of our State legislation because they thought that Mr. Justice [Higgins in his award had given a slightly higher wage, which he said was fair and reasonable according to the Excise Act. Some of the representatives of the Trades Hall, at an interview with the Premier of Victoria, declared that thev did not care about the findings of the Wages Boards. They were ready to trample underfoot the very factories system which they had set up, and which I understood that they were all proud of. I believe, that the PrimeMinister himself, within the last few hours, said that a wage fixed by a Wages Board was not necessarily fair and reasonable. He said, “ lt would be a good guide.” I believe that there are about forty Wages Boards in Victoria.
– Forty Wages Boards and an Appeal Court. Do not forget the Appeal Court.
– That makes the matter worse. Even if forty Wages Boards have given decisions that .certain wages must be paid, and the men are receiving those wage’s and are apparently content while working under State industrial laws, our friends would come in with the new protection and set up a new tribunal in opposition to those Wages Boards. No man out of Bedlam ever conceived such a scheme. We all desire to see that the workmen of the Commonwealth are paid fair and reasonable wages, and we all believe - I am not an exception - that there must be some tribunal to see fair play between the capitalist, who is often strong, -and the worker, who is often weak. I understood that we were working up to that, and that the Victorian Wages Boards and the Arbitration Courts of New South Wales and Western Australia were doing good work as tribunals set up in this democratic community by the votes and wisdom and judgment far more of democrats than of conservatives. But those bodies are all to be swept to one side, because the Government desire to bind together, in a most unfair and unconstitutional manner, the system of protection and the system of fixing industrial conditions. I congratulate my honorable friends opposite, if it is legal, upon having hit upon a most ingenious scheme. They are protectionists, and they believe that protection has come to stay, but they are now linking it with the whole industrial salvation of the Commonwealth. It is a most clever dodge if it will only work, but in spite of the Prime Minister and Attorney-General and all the law officers, I do not think the High Court would take five minutes to declare the whole thing to be rotten and absolutely illegal. I shall not insult the democrats’ of Australia by pretending that the new protection is required. They have been working for years. They have Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards, which surely they can perfect. The only reason why my honorable friends do not perfect them is that the men in whose interests they were established will not be bound by the decisions given unless it suits themselves. In the case of the coal strike, which I am glad is about to be settled, and which, if prolonged, would have been a degradation to the whole of Australia, a separate and independent tribunal, different from those already in existence, is to . be erected to deal with an industrial matter which has been before the Courts before. The leaders of the coal miners, when interviewed, said that this new tribunal was the very one which they have always wanted. It is nothing of- the kind. The labour leaders said that they wanted the Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards that have been set up, but whenever the award does not suit them they treat it as waste paper, and demand higher wages. Does any honorable senator imagine that if the new protection scheme fails to fit in with the ideas of the workers, it will last for another twelve months? If the new tribunal which is about to meet in New South Wales to settle the coal dispute does not give satisfaction to a majority of the coal miners there will be further trouble. It is not possible to bind workers to work under conditions which they think are unfair. I do not believe that the tribunal set up in New South Wales will do any permanent good!, although it may settle the dispute for . the time, because both sides see what an enormous loss would be inflicted upon them and the Commonwealth if the strike was allowed to go on. What does it say for our justice, our laws, and our Ministers when a tribunal appointed to settle the matter has to be put on one side at the dictation of a class? Nothing that has ever been done in this Commonwealth has shown, more than has this new protection legislation, that the Government in power, whatever else they are going to do, intend to legislate for a class, because they are kept in office by that class. Tribunal after tribunal is set up to settle industrial conditions as between manufacturer and worker, but whenever the result does not suit the worker he will ignore it and the Government will help him out of it. What is the use of Senator Findley pretending that the Labour Party want the law administered ? That is the very last thing that they want. Two or three other honorable senators were more outspoken. All that they desire is that the men shall be paid - as they ought to be paid - the difference between the wages which they have been getting and those which the
Judge says are fair and reasonable. When honorable senators say that they want the Excise duty collected, they must tell that “ to the marines,” because the moment the Government collect it it will be ear-marked under the Constitution, and the States must get their proportion. It would then be impossible to give the men the wages to which they are entitled.
– Could it not be done out of our one-fourth?
– I doubt it. It would lead to endless complications, and nobody could foresee the result. We have a union label which some of us do not . think is worth the paper it is written on, and I presume the High Court will sooner or later decide as to its constitutionality. The inclusion of the railway men under the Arbitration Act was declared to be grossly illegal. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council state whether theGovernment are going to take any steps - . and if so, what steps - to prove that the new protection legislation is legal? If Mr. McKay is to be nobbled by tellinghim that if he pays the back wages nothing will be said about the Excise, is thiswonderful law to go on ? Is nothing to be done to decide whether it is constitutional or not? Are the States to hand over to’ the Federal Government absolute power,concurrent with their own, not only to impose taxation iri order to obtain revenue’ to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth, but also to make that taxation a weapon to enforce industrial laws, large and small? Is the Commonwealth to say that unless certain industrial conditions obtain in every State, the screw of taxation will be put on ? Did a single individual in the Commonwealth understand that the Federal powers of taxation were to be used in that way ? Is it not a gross breach offaith with the people and a violation of the very Constitution under which we sit? I should like to hear the Prime Minister argue before a Court that the new protection system is justifiable. What astonishes me is that, in order to carry the system out and to back up the policy of protection by which they won their seats at the last election, the Government and those who support them are absolutely throwing discredit upon their own legislation and their own institutions. What are we to do with regard to disputes which extend beyond the boundaries of a State? Are those honorable members going to be content with the existing Federal Conciliation and Arbitra- tion Court? They are not content with the existing State Courts and Wages Boards. They want Mr. Justice Higgins and the new protection ‘ Court to apply everywhere. If a dispute arises amongst the sailors and extends over more than one State, is there ‘to be an appeal to the new protection principle, and a stipulation that if the ship-owners pay certain wages the harbor and light dues will be remitted to them? Is it to be enacted that if agriculturists pay their labourers reasonable wages they will not be taxed, while, if they do not, a tax will be put upon them ? Senator Clemons rightly called this Excise duty a penalty. The Government in their circular regard it simply as such. Is the power of taxation conferred upon us by the Constitution to be used to penalize men in all States who ‘do not do exactly what a protectionist Government think that they should do? I cannot conceive that the system will last j but what I am anxious about is that we should know where we stand. If we are wrong, and the -‘Prime Minister is right, let us know it. Will the Government take. steps to settle the question, or do they intend merely to compromise with - Mr. McKay by letting him off the Excise if he pays the wages stipulated? What authority have they for doing that? If they do, they will stand confessed before the Commonwealth as having used the Excise duty simply to penalize those who do not carry out laws which the Commonwealth has no power to enact. It is quite likely that Mr. Justice Higgins’ schedule of wages will apply, with certain changes, to every industry. A blacksmith at McKay’s shop and a blacksmith at some other place subject to Excise ought to be paid the same wages according to Mr. Justice Higgins’ scale of what is fair and reasonable ; but what right has the Government to settle a scale of wages with regard to maltsters and others at distilleries: - to whom Mr. Justice Higgins’ schedule does not apply, as there are no workmen in corresponding positions at McKay’s factory? However simple it may be to take Mr. Justice Higgins’ award and apply it to one industry, what right have the Government to apply it to another? Our Ministers are attempting to bind up their scheme of hew protection with ordinary protection; and if they are going to take to themselves the power of regulating wages in all factories simply because they have secured an award from Mr: Justice Higgins, I am bound to ask whether that is in accordance with the principles of democratic Government. It is simply party Government - the Government of men who are kept in office by a large majority and forced to do what that majority wishes. But it is an extraordinary notion to my mind. Do the Government really consider that they have any authority to fix wages in other industries than those to which the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins applies? How on earth the Minister can think that he is justified in setting to work to fix a scheme of wages in any employment simply because a scale has been fixed for one, I cannot understand. I trust that the Government will not lay down any scheme of wages unless they secure the consent of all the parties interested that the scale is fair and reasonable within the meaning of Mr. Justice Higgins’ judgment.’ May I also ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council what is to become of our Wages Boards? If the Boards are not to protect the employes, and if their decisions are to be merely a guide, what is the use of them? Are they to be wiped out of existence ?
– Did Mr. Justice Higgins say that the decisions of the Wages Boards are not to be considered?
– If their determinations are not to decide the matter - if a man carrying on business and paying the wages laid down by a Wages Board is not to be protected, but may be declared by another Court not to be paying fair and reasonable wages - what is the good of the Wages Boards at all ? What is the use of the Arbitration Act in New South’ Wales? The coal miners will not have anything to do with it. I should like to receive some answers to these questions from the Minister. I have only another word to say, and that is about the Federal Capital. I have from the very first been opposed to the building of a capital in the back-blocks, or anywhere else. We do not want another city with another congested population in Australia. We ought to go slow. We have no proper defence scheme. We have not commenced Our Navy. We cannot even afford to drill our boys. The only excuse hitherto has been that we cannot afford to do it. If that be the case, I do not understand how any one can say that we can afford to build another capital. I have always been of opinion, and am still, that the hundred miles’ limit should be struck out of the Constitution. As soon as a suitable
Parliament House is erected in Sydney I should like to sea the Seat of Government transferred to that city, and when we have been in Sydney as long as we have been in Melbourne we can begin to talk about erecting a capital of our own. If the people like to have a Federal Capital erected, let them vote for it; but if they wish to have the Federal Government located at Sydney, let them have an opportunity to vote for that. I am absolutely opposed to commencing a work that will add to our other expenditure, as I think that the money spent on a new capital city would be nothing better than a wicked waste.
– I have nothing to say with regard to the Supply Bill, and should not have risen except for the opportunity afforded by such an occasion as this to remove a false impression that appears to be very strong in Senator Dobson’s mind with regard to the character and influence of the Wages Boards in Victoria. He has repeatedly - not merely on this occasion - charged those who believe in industrial legislation with inconsistency in flouting the Wages Boards. He has charged them with not believing in the system which they did much to initiate. ‘The fact is that the Wages Boards in Victoria were initiated on the principle that disputes concerning the remuneration of labour should be decided by the parties interested, fairly and equitably represented on a Board.
– There can be nothing better.
– That is what we want ; that is what we had ; but that is what we have not any longer. Apparently the honorable senator does not know that. A few years ago - I am not’ certain about the exact date - the Irvine Government amended - as they called it - the Factories Act which established Wages Boards, and put in what is now known as the “ reputable employers section.” That reputable employers section enjoins and makes it im.perative that a Board shall not decide what it thinks ought to be paid, but that it must be controlled by a consideration of, and must only arrive at something like an average of, what is being paid by reputable employers. In the absence of a definition of “ reputable employer,” there is no other guide but to discover who, amongst the employers in a particular industry, are paying the highest wages; and when a Board has got at the highest wages paid in some industries, they are so low that they cannot be called fair and reasonable. If there were a demand for a definition as to what a reputable employer is in some industries, I think that no man in them would be called reputable from an employe’s point of view. I do not say this with any disrespect. I know, as every man of the world must know, that it would be very difficult for a man in an industry to commence paying much higher wages than his competitors were paying. However much he might deprecate the wages paid in his trade, if he wished to remain in it he would have to pay something like the wages paid by other employers. The blot on our Wages Board system in Victoria - which did not exist some seven or eight years ago - is that a Board composed of representatives from each side is precluded from considering what is fair and reasonable, but is bound by wha’t is called the reputable employers section. In addition to that, there is another blot upon the system. That is the Appeal Court. Now, the Appeal Court is bound to arrive honestly at a decision. But it does not at all follow that the Appeal Court is certain to arrive at a just decision. Honesty does not necessarily imply the power to deal justly. I should be very sorry to reflect upon our Judiciary, either in Victoria or in any other State in Australia. I think that we have _great reason to be proud of our Courts of Justice. But it is possible to give to an individual or an institution work for which he is not adapted to perform wisely and judicially.
– Is not the Judge of the Appeal Court just as well adapted as is Mr. Justice Higgins?
– I am not dealing with Mr. Justice Higgins now. 1 am dealing with those institutions which Senator Dobson charges us with deserting. I say that that is not so, but that the Wages Boards have been perverted until confidence in. them has been shaken, and in some instances destroyed.
– Is not the Appeal Court quite unlimited in fixing wages?
– No; the Appeal Court, also, is bound by the reputable employers section. There was a case some years ago affecting a very disagreeable trade - the manure manufacturing industry. It is a very useful and necessary trade, but one which is by its nature very disagreeable. The standard of wages in that industry was so low that it was a public scandal. The Board appointed - consisting of workmen and employers - was so hampered by the conditions that prevailed “ under the Act, as amended, that it could not give a decision that would not call forth expressions of regret and horror from almost any reasonable citizen.
– Then strike out the . reputable employers section.
– I am glad to hear Senator Dobson say that. 1 do not propose to discuss the matter further. I merely rose because, as one having more knowledge of this subiect than some honorable senators have - obviously more knowledge than Senator Dobson possesses- I thought it well to make it clear that the people in Victoria who approved of the Victorian Wages Board system do not now repudiate that system or disapprove of it, but disapprove of the manner in which the principle has been hampered and crippled by the so-called amendments made by the Irvine Government.
– I listened to Senator Dobson’s speech with some interest and amusement blended with a little sorrow. He reminded me very forcibly of a certain old lady whose name is historical. At one time she attempted to repel the waves of the Atlantic with a mop. Senator Dobson is the modern Mrs. Partington, who is seeking to sweep back the waves of the Labour Atlantic with his Tasmanian mop. The honorable senator professes to be very anxious that the worker shall get a fair share of the wealth that he produces. But we find that on every occasion when something is attempted to be done which shall bring that desired end a little nearer, there is no stronger opponent in the Senate than he is. He criticises with the utmost keenness and with the greatest hostility every attempt made by the Labour Party and by the present Commonwealth Government to benefit the condition of the workers.
– That is not correct.
– He criticises in hostile . fashion our Wages Boards and our Courts . of Arbitration. He asks whether they are legal and whether they are constitutional. He brings a hundred and one objections to bear against them, always forgetting: that what we are attempting to do is to give a full measure of bread and butter to the working men, women, boys, and girls on this’ continent. I wish to tell honorable senators that the
Labour Party are not in politics for the good of their health. They are going to. see that every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth gets a decent living. If one expedient fails to bring that about, we will discard that expedient, with as little compunction as has the Yankee manufacturer when he throws his old machinery on to the scrap heap, and we shall then adopt some new expedient. But we will pursue our object until we succeed. There is nothing that will stop us but success. I would also ask Senator Dobson why he thinks we were so eager that men and women in this country should obtain the franchise? Are we, just when our soldiers, male and female, are armed, to abandon our attack upon the fortress? We know that in Australia during years of drought and years of plenty, taking one with another, more than enough is produced to give every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth a fair share of the necessaries and some of the comforts and luxuries of life. And we are determined that our people shall enjoy the benefit of that production. The honorable senator ridiculed the new protection. If he thinks that it is going to be a failure, and is animated with a desire to better the conditions of the working classes, why does he not propose something else? No; the honorable senator gets up like some little poodle, and bays at the moon. He does not propose something better than that which ‘ we put forward. He does not say, “Your scheme is bound to fail. Try something else that I will suggest.” Nothing of the kind. The honorable senator merely waits until some other person makes a proposal, and then he rushes to his stone-heap and begins to bombard it with his puny missiles. To put it as strongly as I can, the honorable senator is opposed to everything which tends to raise the standard of living amongst the working classes. ‘ He tells us that he is not; but words are cheap. “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” Will the honorable senator vote for measures calculated to ameliorate the condition of the working classes? He will not. The honorable senator does not support the establishment of Wages Boards.
– It’ doesnot matter whether they are established or not, if the Government will not give effect to their awards when they are established.
– I do approve of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts.
- Senator Dobson does not believe in Wages Board or Arbitration Courts. He believes in nothing that is likely to secure a fair measure of justice to the working classes.
– That is grosslywrong .
– The honorable senator believes in unrestricted freedom pf contract.
– I believe in nothing of the kind.
– We are very glad to have the honorable senator’s denial. I hope he will prove his statement by his votes in the Senate in future. He has certainly not given us any reason to believe to the contrary hitherto. Some people say that all this legislation of ours is experimental. Every advance in human thought, progress, and enterprise is experimental. The steam, engine at one time was an experiment, which some people were bold enough to say was bound to fail, but it did not fail. Some people said that the telegraph would fail ; that it was ridiculous to imagine that a message could be sent along wires over thousands of miles in a ‘minute or two. But the telegraph did not fail, and now, instead of sending messages along wires, we are sending them without wires. It appears to me that just as there is no end ‘ to human invention, so far as mechanical devices are concerned, so there ought to be no finality to the endeavours of those who desire to see the people of the country fare well, and the country itself progress until the objects they have in view have been accomplished.
– We agree with that.
– Honorable senators in opposition say that they agree with that statement, but if those on my right had their way Northern Queensland would to-day be peopled by kanakas, by Japanese, and by the coloured scum of Asia, and the white men there would be reduced to the level of those people. Yet honorable senators have the assurance, the effrontery, to come here and say that they believe in what I am uttering. As I have already said, words are cheap. If honorable senators in opposition only believed those things a few years ago, I am glad to think that association with honorable senators of another party has brought enlightenment to their minds. I do not wish to say any more upon that subject, except that the leader of the Opposition is continually twitting the Government with being afraid to enforce the law.
– So they are, and honorable senators of the Labour Party are also afraid to enforce it.
– We know perfectly well what attitude those honorable senators took up when the opportunity was presented to them some years ago to pass such protective duties as would establish industries in Australia. They tried their best, or their worst, to prevent those duties being passed. When they could not do so they tried to reduce them, although it was dinned into their ears day after da arid night after night that unless a protective wall was raised around Australia the Commonwealth would be flooded with the goods of cheap-labour countries, and the wages ‘ of labour in Australia would inevitably be reduced to the standard of those countries. ‘
– We thought that that was twaddle.
– That is a very expressive word, and I have often heard the honorable senator deliver a speech which that word “ twaddle’5 would have have described very forcibly. I should like to ask him what he thinks would be the effect of tearing down the very moderate Tariff wall we have around ‘ Australia, to-day ? Would not our industries within twelve months be submerged by the products of industries carried on in cheap-labour’ countries ?
– Would not hundreds and thousands of men and women in Australia be deprived of their employment? I ask any reasonable man to say whether that would not be the case? .
– The Old Country is not shut up yet.
– Can any person in his senses compare Great Britain with Australia? In Great Britain over 40,000,000 of people are clustered in what might be termed a big town. Great Britain is a manufacturing country, arid 12,000,006 of her people are living on the verge of starvation.’ At one end of the social scale’ you have all this poverty and wretchedness, and at the other you have thousands of people- so wealthy that they really do not know what to do with their money.
– They can give parties to their puppy dogs.
– They give parties to their puppy dogs, and they spend more money upon their poodles than would be sufficient to keep dozens of families. Yet honorable senators parade that as a condition of society which ought to be an example to the whole universe. No one can compare a highly organized community devoted almost’ entirely ; to manufacturing, such as we find in Great Britain, to the community in this young and sparselypopulated country of Australia. Do honorable senators know that the foundations of Great Britain’s prosperity were laid upon this very policy of protection which we are trying to bring into force in Australia?
– No, we do not know it.
– Well it is an historical fact. Any one who cares to look up the matter can find out for himself what were the foundations upon which Great Britain’s trade have been built. Even her shipping was built upon a protective and prohibitive policy. Not a single product of Great Britain was allowed to leave the country, and not a foreign product was allowed to enter it, except in British bottoms, unless some penalty was paid.
– Those were Great Britain’s darkest days.
– It was only when the people of Great Britain discovered thatthey could start on equal terms with other nations - -
– That they could start ahead of them.
– Or that they could start ahead of them, that they removed their handicap. Great Britain was like a man who runs a race and reduces his handicap from 100 yards to scratch when he discovers that if all his competitors start from scratch he can win every race for which he enters. Great Britain wished every country to adopt a free-trade policy when she knew she was in a position to pour her products into their markets and swamp them. But other countries were not so foolish as Great Britain supposed. They did not walk into the web so cunningly woven for them by the British spider. They said, “ No, we want to keep the control of our markets.” The position now is that Britain . finds herself isolated to a very great extent. Her trade no doubt is growing still, but it is growing very much more slowly than the trade of some other countries I could mention. The condition of her population is . so serious that one of her most influential politicians has admitted that one out of every three individuals in the community lives on the verge . of starvation.
– And an enormous percentage die in public institutions.
– Yes; and yet honorable senators parade the conditions in Great Britain for our admiration.
– What about America ?
– America is in! very much the same condition ; and if some honorable senators had their way Australia would be in exactly the same position. That is why members of the Labour Party are here. It is to see that in this young country the evils which are working such ruin in Europe and America shall be avoided.
– America is a protectionist country, the honorable senator should remember.
-I know that, and Senator Walker need not tell me that salvation for the human race is going to be’ found in either free-trade or protection.’ Neither one nor the other will bring about salvation to humanity. We are not so stupid as to imagine that it will.
– Does the honorable senator think that the new protection will do any good?
– If the new protection does not succeed we will try a newer protection. Will that suffice for the honorable senator? I have stated already that we will search andsearch until we find a remedy.
-Will my honorable friend postpone the “ newer protection “ as the Government are doing the “ new pro-‘ tection”?
– We will do exactly what we think is the right and proper thing to do in the circumstances. We will not allow ourselves to be hurried by the honorable senator. We know perfectly well what his mind on this subject is. We look upon him as a hostile witness for the time, and will treat him accordingly. So long as the Government show a decent inclination to move along the road that we desire, we will give them support. But if they do not, we will have to try some other expedient.
– Find another Government.
– We will have to fmd another Government, and I hope it will be a Labour Government. Before resuming my seat, I desire to say a few words regarding the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department. On many occasions I have had to criticise its administration1. I do not wish to say much to-night, because I know that honorable senators are exceedingly anxious that this debate should close. I ask the Minister who represents the Postmaster-General here to take a note that complaints as to the undermanning of the Department are reaching me from every capital city in the Commonwealth. Everywhere the complaint is coming to members of this Parliament that the Department is being undermanned. There is ho reason for that state of things. I believe that some time ago Sir William Lyne said he desired to increase the number of employes, but that he was overridden by the Treasurer at the time. It is not a question of money with us at all. The persons who are doing the work of the Commonwealth ought to be- paid a decent living wa!ge, and ought not to be worked more than a reasonable number of hours. I am informed that in Sydney men have to go to work hours before their .regular time. That time is not put down in the book. It is not paid for, and the men do not get “time off” in lieu thereof. They are simply told by the heads of the Departments that the Government will not provide any more men, and that they must dp the work. That, state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. During the last six years, the Federal Government has handed back to the States almost 6,000,000 in excess of their three-fourths share of the Customs and Excise revenue. A large proportion of that sum was sweated out of the employes. That is a most discreditable state of affairs to exist, seeing that we have a democratic Government, and more especially as it is kept in office by the Labour Party. I hope that during the short adjournment which we are going to have the Government will see that the disgraceful condition of sweating is done away with.
– I rise to bring the debate back to the Question of the administration of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. On each side, honorable senators have protested that they desire that the condition of the worker shall be improved. I do not think that that protestation amounts to much, and I wish to recall an equally important question. The point is : Have we power to interfere with the industrial legislation of the States? I take it that every State has the power to fix the wages of the persons within its jurisdiction by means of Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. I take it that that jurisdiction is absolutely exclusive. If it is exclusive, what right have we to interfere? That is the important question to be considered, and, to parody a quotation, I hope that this Parliament will render to the States what are the rights of the States, and take to the Commonwealth what are the rights of the Commonwealth. I have asked the Minister, who is responsible for the administration of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, if he had taken the advice of counsel as to whether it was constitutional or not, and the answer was that he had not. What can be thought of a Government who hi their legislation infringe what is clearly the jurisdiction of the States? There is not an honorable senator who can prove that the States did not reserve to themselves the power of creating Wages Boards, and determining absolutely for themselves the conditions under which workers and employers shall carry on various industries.
– Not absolutely.
– In my opinion the States have either absolute power iri that regard or no power.
– They have a limited’ power.
– That emphasizes the necessity for the Government to take at once the opinion of the High Court on the constitutional point. I do not propose to argue with regard to the condition of the workers. Every person who seeks to ‘represent the people here or in the House of Representatives wants the workers’ vote. But I will not deceive the worker. I have said before, and it ‘ has been said on all sides of the chamber, that we doubt the efficacy of this legislation. We have pointed out that it may injure the worker. We have said, “ If honorable, senators can by this legislation im- . prove the condition of the worker, then God speed that industry ! But we doubt it.” What is the position now, so far as the administration of the Excise Tariff Act is concerned? It ‘is incontestable that the worker has been humbugged. So far our position is unassailable. We did not go- before our constituents and hold out to them the hope that we could make for the worker a paradise. We told him frankly what we thought were the difficulties in front of him. Though we might have caught his vote by holding out the prospect that if he would send us down here we could make a paradise, we were candid. We have pointed out to him the difficulties, and honestly said that, in our opinion, this legislation was only a misleading promise. So far we are correct, and because we are criticising this legislation pretty strongly now, the only argument which is left to honorable senators on the other side is to taunt us with the fact that we are pharisees and hypocrites, and that we have no desire to help the worker. That is the only taunt they have, when, as a matter of fact, they stand convicted, because it was the Government who brought in this legislation and carried it with the support of the Labour Party. There is not a man in the Commonwealth who, after an experience of the legislation, can say that- the worker has not been deluded, and that the manufacturer has not been on velvet all the time. Therefore, our position in this matter is absolutely impregnable. A Judge of the High Court has fixed a standard of wages which presumably is to apply uniformly throughout Australia. In my opinion His Honour has fixed a standard to which I hope the workers in ‘Queensland will not submit, because I happen to know that, while it might be a decent wage so far as Victoria is concerned, it is not one for which a competent workman will work in some parts of Queensland.
– In Queensland the men get less.
– I happen to know something of the condition of the workers in Queensland.
– Does the honorable senator say that the conditions are better there than in Victoria?
– Certainly the standard is.
– We are bringing sweated white workers to Victoria every week.
– I understand that the flow of population is from Victoria to Queensland.
– And back ?
– No. I know the social and industrial conditions of ray State pretty well.
– What is the percentage of wages paid in the boot trade in Brisbane as compared with Melbourne?
– I am talking, not about the boot trade, but of the industries which are affected- by the Excise Tariff Act. I know that in many parts of Queensland blacksmiths and competent artisans would, if asked, refuse to work at the wages which Mr. Justice Higgins has fixed.
– In Toowoomba they were working for less wages.
– I am not speaking about Toowoomba. I have in my mind’s eye the State of Queensland, and the special conditions which prevail in the industries affected by that Act. I have made private inquiries in regard to the rates of wages, and I hope that the workers of Queensland will refuse to accept that decision, because in many cases it would mean comparatively starvation wages to them.. But that is apart from the point. How can a Wages Board or any other Court sitting in Victoria determine what are equitable conditions for the workers in Western Australia and Queensland? .
– What rate of wages did the honorable senator favour for the sugar workers in Queensland six or eight months ago?
– I have never favoured the fixing of wages by a Court. I believe that it is the soundest policy to let employers and employes come together and try to fix what is a fair and equitable wage in their respective States. That is the reason why that power was left to the States. The question is, not whether we should like to see the condition of the worker improved, but whether under the Constitution we have the power to interfere with the whole of the industrial legislation of the States. Probably we shall not have another chance this year of debating that subject, but this discussion will indicate the lines on which our resistance to this policy will go, so far as its constitutional aspect is concerned. We on this side say that if the workers in the States desire to have their conditions improved by Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts or any other form of industrial tribunal, it is open to the people of the States to set up those tribunals. But the Commonwealth has not that power. If it had been anticipated that the Commonwealth could initiate legislation to interfere with the industries of the States, not a single
State would have come into the Federation. The people of Queensland were told over and over again that they had nothing to fear by entering the Federation, because the State would retain control over its land, mines, and industries, except so far as they were affected by the Tariff. Speakers came in flocks from Victoria to tell that to the people of Queensland. I came forward to emphasize it, saying “ The Commonwealth cannot interfere with our industrial legislation. We know our own local conditions. The Federation does not ask for power to touch our industries, nor will it attempt to touch them. The people of the States can work out their own destinies.” We told the people also that the Federation could not touch- their land, and that the whole financial and economic strength of the States would be unimpaired. People went from Victoria to every State in the Commonwealth telling that story, but now, either to keep a certain party in power or because others desire to get power, another story is told. The Government and their supporters say that they can fix what wages they like, and that a Justice sitting in Victoria and hearing only Victorian evidence can fix, under an Excise Act, working conditions which shall apply to the whole of Australia. That is a monstrous breach of the conditions under which we entered the Federation. The people have nothing to fear from the attitude which We on this side take up. We are dealing fairly with them. We offer no delusions to the worker. He has a delusion of his own now. We say to the people - “ This legislation is not within the province of the Commonwealth. The power remains with the States themselves to pass whatever laws they like regarding industrial conditions in each State.” Let us have no subterfuge over this question. If the Government and their supporters desire to interfere with industrial conditions in this way, let them seek to amend the Constitution. Let them ask the people of Australia to give them the power. I wonder what would be the fate of the Government that asked the States to delegate to it their powers of working out their own industrial salvation. I should not have spoken so long or so strongly but for the fact that the debate appeared to be diverging from the essential question of whether the Government have the power to do those things which they claim that they can do. I wish the Government to be as frank with us as we are with them. If the law is constitutional, let them enforce it. The
Government have not actually taken counsel’s opinion upon the matter, and, if it is not constitutional, then all their preaching about saving the worker is absolutely in vain. Many . appeals have been made in this debate to the worker. But, to use the words which Lincoln uttered when he had to deal with some very grave delusions prevailing among the people of America - “ You can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time ; but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I have said that on many a platform, and I say it now, as applied to the workers of Australia. Whether honorable senators opposite agree or disagree with my speech, it has at any rate been strong, candid, and straightforward. If I am wrong and they are right, so much the better for them.
.- I should like to congratulate Senator St. Ledger on his ability to empty his own side of the chamber.’ As soon as he rises nearly every honorable member on that side gets out. The new leader of that party, whom I should like to congratulate on his appointment, has endured the infliction with a heroism’ worthy of a better cause. We on this side have to suffer martyrdom because it is our business to keep a House for the Government. I wish to examine some of Senator St. Ledger’s reckless statements, to see if there is any pith or marrow in them, or any sincerity behind them, or whether they are merely wind. I shall prove before I have done that they are empty wind. The honorable senator is continually barking in this chamber without any sincerity behind his remarks. He says that every honorable senator on that side is in favour of improving- the condition of the workers. I take leave to doubt that statement with regard to a large number of honorable senators on that side. I doubt it particularly in Senator St. Ledger’s case, because I know that if he had his way he would have the white workers of Australia competing with kanakas, coolies, Chinese, Japanese, and every other “ ese “ that you can think of. I can afford proof of that by a fact which I should not care in ordinary circumstances to mention in this chamber - the fact that the ladies of the families of certain honorable senators opposite are game to say what they themselves are not game to sa.y, and to pass resolutions in the grounds of this building in favour of black labour . for Northern Queensland. Is that a fact or not?
– I know nothing about it.
-It was not done in the grounds.
– The resolution was passed before they came to the grounds to have a congratulatory meeting. Those matters, as a rule, had better be left out of our discussions.
– The honorable senator wants to drag a lady’s name into it.
– I have not done so; but certain honorable senators opposite are sheltering themselves behind the ladies’ petticoats, which, is a cowardly attitude for them to assume. Those people, when they come out in public, must expect to lay themselves open to public criticism. The Women’s National League of Australia, at whose meetings delegates from Queensland, connected with honorable senators representing’ Queensland, were in attendance, is a public body, and passed a resolution publicly and unanimously in favour of black labour for tropical Australia. Those honorable senators would do the same thing if they thought that the public of Australia would stand it. ‘Senator Gray,by interjection to-night, denied that they want black labour in Australia, ‘but I remember distinctly that Senator Gray’s first speech in this Senate was in favour of black labour for tropical Australia.
– I thought the honorable senator was going to devote himself to me.
– The honorable senator attaches a little too much importance to himself. He may have quite enough of my attention before I am finished. He insists upon the Government immediately putting into force the Excise provisions in connexion with the Agricultural Implement protection. Parliament, in its wisdom, imposed a Customs duty of £12 per machine on imported harvesters, and import duties in proportion on other agricultural implements. It also thought that the workers ought to get a fair share of that protection, and, in order to insure that, it enacted that an Excise duty of£6 should be collected on each harvester made here, and proportionate Excise duties on other implements, unless the Court was satisfied that the manufacturers were paying fair and reasonable wages to their employes. Honorable senators opposite profess profound indignation with the Government for not enforcing the provisions of the Act, but they, without exception, were opposed. to those Excise provisions being embodied in that legislationat all. They all voted against it
– That is not correct.
– The honorable senator can look up the division list for himself.
– I need not do so. I know how I voted myself.
– Senator Millen was the only honorable senator on that side to vote for the second reading of the Bill.
– As a body, almost without exception, honorable senators opposite voted against that legislation. It is strange to find them now so anxious for the Government to enforce it. I was in favour of that legislation at the time, but I do not want to see a shilling of the Excise collected, because there were two alternatives in that legislation, one that the workers should be paid fair and reasonable wages, and the other that the Excise should be collected as a sort of penalty if such wages were not paid. I want, not to collect the penalty, but to see the workers given the wages which that legislation contemplated. If the Government, by staying their hand for a while, can insure that the workers will get those wages, they wilt lae pursuing a wiser course, than if they force the pace and collect the Excise. If, after making every effort to arrive at an equitable arrangement with the manufacturers in order to insure that the workers receive fair and reasonable wages from 1st January of this year - I do not mean front 1 st January next - the Government are not satisfied that those wages are paid, I hope that they will enforce the Act to the full against any employer who is in default, even if it means his ruin. Senator St. Ledger put it forward as a constitutional point that this Parliament had no right to interfere in matters of this kind. But if we have no right to say under what conditions Excise shall or shall not be imposed, is the honorable senator prepared’ to challenge the position- taken up by the Government with regard to the Excise duty and bounty in connexion with the sugar grown in Queensland, which is in art exactly analogous position ?
– I think the conditions are absolutely different.
– But they are not different. We have said to these people who are growing sugar in Queensland : ‘ “Provided you grow sugar with white labour we will return to you so. much of the Excise by way of bounty.”
– We have not fixed wages.
– Honorable senators opposite tried to nullify our efforts in that respect. About six or eight months ago, they were seeking to fix the wages of the sugar workers ait 22s. 6d. per week in North Queensland - and they are starvation wages in that district.
– We were trying to fix the highest wages we could get.
– What the honorable senator was trying to do was to fix the lowest wages which the planters could get men to work for. Do honorable senators know what the sugar-growers in Queensland have been making out of their industry during the last year? Do they know what Mr. Angus Gibson has made out of his sugar? To my own personal knowledge, one cane-grower with no more than ninety acres, and with his full share of misfortune in the way of grubs and fire, cleared over ^1,000 after paying- all expenses. Yet honorable senators opposite come down here with an ad misericordia’m appeal that the cane farmers will be ruined if the wages which we desire to have fixed are paid, whilst, at the same time, with their eyes raised to heaven, they profess their sympathy with the workers. Their troubles about the workers - except to make all the profit they can out of them !
– We tried to get the highest wages we could for them.
– The honorable senator and his friends tried to get the. lowest rates they could in the interests of the sugar-planters, and were continually barking and crying for that.
– What the honorable senator says is not true.
– Order !
– The records of the public press in the Library are open to every senator, and will confirm or refute what I have said. I am willing to stand by that test, to determine whether Senator St. Ledger’s statement or mine is in conformity with the facts. But no one in Queensland has any doubt about the attitude of the honorable senator. He has always been an advocate of the sugarplanters rather than of the men who are working for them. He has always been on that side since he got the support of the
Conservatives, although we must not forget that at one time he used to pose as a democratic aspirant to Parliament.
– The mill will not grind with the mud that has passed.
– It is only by examining a man’s past record that one can come to a right conclusion as to what his future is likely to be. The chairman of one of the honorable senator’s meetings at Bundaberg summed him up accurately. He said : “ What can I say for St. Ledger, in order to recommend him to you? This, at least, can be said - that he is a political trier, for he has fought under the flag of every party in the State, and now he comes before you as an anti-Socialist.” “ But,” this gentleman said, “ He is a man of transcendent ‘ ability, and I have no doubt that he “will justify his position.”
– He represents the people of Queensland, at any rate.
– The honorable senator is indulging in a work of supererogation in making a statement of that sort. I have not denied it. Senator St. Ledger has also contended that our legislation levying an Excise upon harvesters, unless certain wages are paid to the workmen, is an unwarrantable interference with the rights of the States. Well, we have imposed conditions with ‘ regard to the sugar industry under which an Excise is levied and a portion returned to the growers if ‘ they comply with certain conditions. In that instance we set a precedent which no honorable senator opposite seems desirous of challenging.. If that position was good with regard to the sugar industry it is equally good with regard to our other legislation. The power to regulate trade and commerce is conferred upon us by the Constitution. The power to deal with Customs and Excise “is also conferred upon this Parliament. We can determine under what conditions Customs and Excise shall be levied. I am not at all afraid of having this matter referred to the High Court, because I am sure that the Court will affirm the position taken up by this parliament. We are not interfering with the rights’ of the States in any way whatever. I should like to point out to those who hold with Senator St. Ledger that the States have absolute power in this regard, that the Constitution gives this Parliament power to interfere in industrial matters when they become matters of Commonwealth concern - that is, where a dispute flows over the borders of one -State into another. Furthermore, it is eminently fair that if we give protection throughout Australia to our manufacturers, we should also be able to impose the conditions under which that protection is given to them. Senator St. Ledger also made the remarkable statement that it is doubtful whether any legislation can improve the condition of the workers. It was hardly necessary for an honorable senator opposite to advance that argument, because the party to which he belongs have by their actions always adopted that view. They have said that the inevitable condition of supply and demand govern everything, and have acted accordingly. They have done their best to nullify every attempt made by every progressive legislator in Australia towards ameliorating the condition of the worker.
– The honorable senator cannot mean what he says.
– I am not in the habit of saying what I do not believe.
– The very persons whom the honorable senator is blackguarding made education absolutely free in this country.
– It was not until the Conservative parties were forced to concede those reforms that they would budge from their position.
– Long before there was a Labour Party in Australia free education was secured.
– Of course the Labour Party is only carrying on the good work of its predecessors in the way of agitating for political, industrial and social reform. Senator St. Ledger, and those who think with him that the condition of the workers cannot be ameliorated by legislation, must be blind to all the teachings of history. Do they know that in the dawn of our civilization there was absolute slavery, that that condition was followed by serfdom; that that, again, was followed by a condition very little better; and that it is only in recent years that the condition of the . workers has been improved ?” Those improvements have all been brought about because of legislative interference. Children under the age of twelve years were forced to work in the coal pits of Great Britain not so very many years ago. Step by step legislation has improved the lot of the worker. It has prevented the employer from cruelly using his employ^. Yet honorable senators opposite, with unblushing cheek and undaunted effrontery, say that it is impossible for legislative action to ameliorate the condition of the workers ! They urge that the laws of supply and demand are like the laws of the Medes and Persians,- which change not. But as a matter of fact, the socalled economic laws do not amount to a puff of smoke when they come to be examined. The day will come when the human race will rise to the height of its opportunities, and will be animated by an altruistic spirit, not by mere moneygrubbing and profit-gaining, which is the most miserable standard by which human well-being can be regulated.
– Except when it comes home to ourselves !
– The time will come when the power of money will not be able to influence the lot of any human being, because the condition of the people will be so good that they will be free from that tyranny.
– It will not be in our time.
– If the people who preceded us had taken up that selfish attitude, and had said, “ This world- is good enough for our time,” no progress would ever have been made. Yet Senator Gray is apparently not in favour of carrying on the good work of our ancestors in the improvement of the lot of the workers.
– I have been trying to do that all my life.
– The progress which the honorable senator favours is that of the crab, either sideways or backwards.
– He does not “ progress “ towards poverty.
– I should not wish him to do that. There are quite enough of us who are poor already. If we were all poor, none of us would be able to make anything out of people like the honorable senator. It is a good thing to have some men who are rich like him,, in order that others may sometimes make a little out of them. It has been contended that our Excise legislation is a “ Misleading compromise.” If my vote had had anything to do with it, it would not have been a compromise. In my opinion we shall never effect the complete salvation of the workers until we have all these great industries conducted by the State itself, which will have no interest in making a profit out of the labour of any one, but will be simply concerned to conduct industries under the best working conditions for the advantage of the whole community.
– What a happy time that will be!
– The honorable senator is an anti-Socialist when it suits his purpose, but is he aware that a socialistic institution in New South ‘Wales has only recently beaten all the private enterprise in Australia in tendering for the construction of a trawler for the Commonwealth? The fact that the Commonwealth Government intended to have a trawler built was advertised from one end of Australia to the other. It was known in every State. There are many ship-building firms in Australia which are competent to build such a trawler.
– Not many ; not more than two.
– There are two iii Queensland alone. Of course, the honorable senator’s knowledge is limited to that little strawberry patch just off the southern coast of the Continent, and he knows nothing about the rest of Australia.
– Why did they not tender, then?
– There are two firms in Queensland, several in New South Wales, two in Victoria, and one in Tasmania that could have built such a trawler.
– They are all too busy.
– Many of them put in tenders, but it was found that the socialistic institution in Sydney was able to step in and tender at the lowest figure of all. Yet honorable senators opposite sneer at State enterprise. Nearly everything that is good in our daily life in Australia at the present time is concerned with State enterprise, including our State schools, our Defence Forces, our railways, our post-offices, our roads, and our bridges. Will Senator Gray assert that the Post Office is anything but a beneficent institution? We can get a larger number of words sent over a longer distance in Australia for the same amount of money than in any other part of the world. I say that if the Post and Telegraph Office were run by private enterprise the people would be fleeced every day of their lives.
– The employes do not think so.
– However badly the employes of the Department may te treated by the present Government, there can be no doubt that they would be treated much worse if the Post and Telegraph Department were in the hands of private enterprise. I have only to refer honorable senators to the condition of the employes of the Melbourne Tramway Company as compared with the condition of the employes on the State’s trams in Sydney. It was not until the directors of the Melbourne TramwayCompany were threatened that they would be shot, figuratively speaking, by legislative action to bring their business under a Wages Board that they said, “ Don’t shoot, we will come down,” and reduced the hours of their employes from 60 to 54 hours per week. A great many horses are used in connexion with the Melbourne tramway system, and the company work their horses 17A hours per v.-eek, whilst they worked human beings 60 hours per week-. That is the way in which human life is regarded in accordance with the inevitable commercial spirit and the economic law of supply and demand which are so much lauded by Senator Gray.
– The honorable senator should remember that horses have been very dear lately.
– The fact remains that the company worked their horses 17 j hours per week, whilst they made their unfortunate employes work from 60 hours per week. With regard . to the fixing of the rates of wages, the payment of which will secure exemption from Excise, I think, that the scale fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins is an eminently fair one. I refuse to believe the statement made by Senator St’. Ledger that that scale would not be accept*able in Queensland, I am certain that a great many workers in Queensland would be very glad to accept it.
– The workers in many industries in Queensland are not being paid anything like the wages fixed by that scale;
– In some industries workers in Queensland are. paid lower wages than are paid to workers in similar industries in Melbourne and Sydney. In the clothing trade and in the boot trade the wages paid in Queensland are about 25 per cent, lower than the wages paid in those trades in Melbourne and Sydney.
– Yet there has been a labour Government in Queensland for a considerable time.
– We never had a labour Government in Queensland for more than about twenty four hours.
– Senator St. Ledger said the other night that workers in Queensland were better off than those in the other States.
– The honorable senator said to-night that wages are higher in Queensland than in the other States. I deny that. I know men working in the saw-mills in the town of Maryborough who have been paid 27s. per week and find themselves for the last twenty years. That is a disgracefully low rate of wages. It is essential that in the operation of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act we should, if possible, have a uniform scale of wages applicable throughout Australia. Of course, if the cost of living in some portions of the Commoniwealth should be greater ‘than in others the scalp should be proportionately increased. But, taken as a whole, the scale fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins is, I think, eminently fair and reasonable, *and would not be cavilled at by one-tenth of the workers in any part of the Commonwealth. Senator St. Ledger said he wished by his speech to indicate the lines on which resistance to this class of legislation would proceed from the other side. I do not know whether the honorable senator desired to usurp the functions of the newly appointed leader of the Opposition in the Senate when he took it upon himself to make such a statement, but I accept it for what it is worth. If we are to find that honorable senators opposite will always be opposed to legislation calculated to improve the condition of the toilers of Australia, then the toilers of this country may be trusted to take measures to protect themselves from the opposition of these individuals, and on the first opportunity they get, they will see that men are returned to represent them in the Federal Parliament, and particularly in the Senate, who have the interests of the workers at heart, and not men who, on every occasion, will concern themselves with the interests of the employers only. Honorable senators opposite have continually harped upon the statement that industrial legislation and the settlement of wages are matters which are not within the province of the Federal Parliament, and should be left to the States Parliaments. They have adopted generally the role of defenders of States rights.As a matter of fact, there are neither States rights nor Commonwealth rights. There are no rights in this Commonwealth but those which are inherent in the whole of the people. The people who handed over certain functions and powers’ to the Commonwealth Parliament, and reserved certain other functions and powers for the States Parliaments have the right at any time they think fit to alter what they have done, and this talk about States rights is only so much bunkum which we have had from men who have had no intelligent observations to offer upon any particular subject. There are not two sets of people in the Commonwealth, one set governed. by the Commonwealth Parliament and another by the States Parliaments. They are the same people throughout the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable senator aware that- at one time it was intended to call the Senate “ the ‘ States House “’?
– I know that the people who framed the Constitution builded a lot better than they knew. They thought they were mating provision for a Senate that would be the stronghold of the aristocratic Conservatives of Australia. No Labour man was sent to the Federal Convention, and those who were sent thought that with the bulk vote of the Conservatives it would be all right. They said : “ All we want is the bulk vote, and the Senate will be an aristocratic reserve where we mav go and have a good time.” I wish Senator Walker joy of the good time he is likely to have in the Senate.
– The honorable senator will allow me to say that Senator Trenwith was a labour man, and he was present at the Convention.
– I _do not think that the Victorian representatives at the Convention to which I refer were elected by the people at all.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon, they were, and Senator Trenwith was one of them.
– The honorable senator may have been, but he has repented the error of his ways. He does not call himself a labour man now, and I am not entitled to charge him with being what he does not acknowledge himself to be. Our friend, Senator Walker claims to be a labour man, but whenever democratic or labour legislation is proposed in this Senate, he invariably tries to vote it out, and always, of course, in the interests of labour. I must emphasize the fact that there ate not two sets of people in the Commonwealth, one governed by the Commonwealth Parliament and the other bv the
States Parliaments. We have no such division of the people in Australia. We are one people living under what I admit is a pretty complicated system of Government. The Commonwealth Parliament is supposed to legislate on all matters of national concern, and of more than local importance, whilst the States are charged with legislation affecting purely local mat:ters. Industrial legislation affecting industries throughout the length and breadth of Australia is within the province of, and can only be efficiently undertaken by, the Commonwealth Parliament. In the Constitution, we are given power to regulate trade and commerce between (the States, and with other countries, and we are given exclusive power to impose Customs and Excise taxation. These powers imply, the power to define the conditions on which Customs and Excise taxation shall be levied. For that reason I hold that the Commonwealth Parliament has not infringed any States rights, and has not exceeded its powers in any way in the legislation .passed on this subject. I for one shall welcome the test of the question before the High Court. Even if .the High Court decides that the Commonwealth Parliament has not the power claimed for it in this connexion, the decision will only hasten the day when the people of Australia will rally round this Parliament and demand that the right to legislate on these matters shall be vested in this Parliament in the interests of the vast majority of the people. Why are honorable senators opposite afraid to permit’ the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with industrial legislation? Is it not because they believe that this Parliament would deal with such legislation in a drastic manner, and with a more generous intention to protect the interests of the workers than the States Parliaments would be likely to do ? That is why they wish to tie the hands of the Federal Parliament and prevent it carrying out the beneficent work it should be allowed to do. That is why they prefer that such legislation should be left to pettifogging States politicians.
– The honorable senator does not. mean that?
– Undoubtedly I mean it. I am not in the habit of saying what I do not mean. ‘ What was the late Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Carruthers? A pettifogging police court lawyer was the height of his ability at any time.
– The honorable senator is no judge of that.
– I am as good a judge as is Senator Gray, and as much entitled to express an opinion on the matter as the honorable senator is to express an opinion on the Federal Parliament and Government. The only feeling which the late Premier of New South Wales excited in the minds of intelligent thinking men in regard to his views as to the duties of citizenship in Australia was one of profound contempt for his pettifogging ways.
– Is the honorable senator aware that Mr. Carruthers was returned by a larger majority than was any other member of the State Parliament?
– That may be merely evidence of supreme ability in log-rolling. As a matter of fact, I have always had rather a poor opinion of the people of New South Wales as judges of, the best men to return to Parliament. I have been justified in that opinion by the representatives they have sent to the Senate. The electors may not at all times be the best judges of the most competent men to represent them. With regard to the collection of Excise on agricultural machinery so strenuously urged by honorable senators opposite, I am disposed to think that if thev really thought that that would be a good thing for the Government to do at the present time, thev would urge them to withhold their hand. Their chief desire is to put the Government in an awkward position, to have the whole business muddled up, and this particular class of legislation discredited. I have no such desire. I do not wish to see a single farthing of the Excise collected under the Act, but what I do desire is that the workers engaged in the protected industries shall have secured to them the payment of the fair and reasonable wages which this legislation contemplated.
– Does not the honorable senator wish the Act to be administered ?
– Under the Act fair and reasonable wages are to be paid by the manufacturers to their employes, and if that condition is not complied with an Excise of £fi is to be levied on each harvester and a similar duty on other agricultural implements. The alternative I desire to see given effect to is the payment of reasonable wages to the employes in the industry from the i st of January of this year, and if the Government by withholding their hand in the collection of the Excise can secure fair and reasonable wages for the workers in the industry I have no wish to see a single farthing of Excise collected under the Act.
– The honorable senator desires that certain men should be allowed to defy the Act and defraud the workers.
– Senator Findley is aware that I have never advocated anything of the sort.
– I know that, but that is what the honorable senator’s line of reasoning would ‘lead to.
– Nothing of the sort. I prefer the adoption of a course which would give the benefit of the Act to the workers engaged in the industry rather than the adoption of a course which would mean merely the collection of Excise revenue. If the Excise duty of£6 a ton is collected it goes into the Consolidated Revenue and cannot go into the pockets of the workers.
– One-fourth of it can go into the pockets of the workers under a special Bill.
– Of course, the honorable senator knows that we could give back double the amount of Excise if we voted the money; but why should he think that such a thing would be done by this or any other Parliament? If the Excise duty is collected it goes into the Consolidated Revenue.
– One-fourth belongs to the Commonwealth and the balance to the States.
– How could we give back money which had been handed over to . the States ? If the Government, by “withholding its hand, can make’ such an arrangement as will insure to the workers the acceptance of the first instalment of the new protection - payment of a fair and reasonable wage - it will be wise to do so. But if they cannot do that, they should collect the Excise duty to the uttermost farthing, even if it should ruin an employer like Mr. McKay. I have no sympathy for an employer who’ receives ample protection for his industry and refuses to share it with the workers, and on the plea of whose welfare he largely induced Parliament to grant it. We were told that the workers would be thrown out of work as they could not be paid a fair and reasonable wage unless certain protection were given. We complied with the request, and now we are entitled to ask that the manufacturers shall fulfil their share of the bargain. I for one will cast my vote in favour of the full penalty being exacted if the manufacturers ‘cannot be induced to comply with the first alternative, and give to the employes the fair and reasonable wage which was contemplated by that legislation.
– Judging by the number of empty benches the debate has become somewhat monotonous ; and by way of introducing a little variety, I propose to say a few words about bicycles and the importation of bicycle parts. In replying to an inquiry of mine to-day, the Vice-President of the Executive Council implied that I had given the Department of Trade and Customs a “big order” by a very simple question which I put to him iast week. According to a reply I received to-night from the Department, they seem to have formed the impression that my inquiry about the Bicycle Combine refers -to only South Australia, when, as a matter of fact, it refers to the whole of Australia. For the information of the Department, and to make it easier for them to carry out . the “ big order,” I propose t’o read a circular which has been issued to the trade in Melbourne, and applies practically to the whole of Australia ; and also a circular which has been issued to the trade in Adelaide. In each case the circular was issued by Mr. D. Y. Rennie, of Melbourne, who is agent for the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited, Birmingham. The undertaking which the customers of that company are supposed to sign before they can do any business with them reads as follows -
In consideration of your supplying to us your goods at the prices enumerated below, we hereby undertake not to re-sell, list, or advertise them at lower rates than the prices contained in your Australasian price list, less 5 per cent, for cash with order or 2½ per cent, monthly account.
We further undertake not to supply any of your goods at trade prices to other than recognised bonâ fide cycle dealers and makers.
We also agree that we will not supply our customers with any separate component parts of . 1 recognised set of B.S.A. or Eadie fittings to be built up in conjunction with parts of any other manufacture.
We also agree that should it be proved that we have committed a breach of any of the foregoing undertakings you will immediately have the right to cancel all orders and slop all supplies of your goods for our account.
That undertaking is signed by the dealer and sent along to the agent for the makers of the parts. The following is a copy of a circular which has been: posted to all cycle traders in South Australia -
We hereby notify all’ cycle dealers and makers in South- Australia, that on. and after November1st,1907, the trade prices for all U.S.A. fittings and sundries, Eadie fittings and sundries, coaster hubs, &c, will be as specified in our Australasian trade price list, which cancels all previous lists and quotations issued by the wholesale factors. The B.S.A. Australian price list can be obtained from any of the wholesale factors in South Australia, or direct from our Melbourne offiee.
The Birmingham. Small Arms Co., Ltd.
Australian Office : 4 Stock Exchange Buildings,
The Department of Trade and Customs has had a week in which to obtain some information which I imagined could have been secured easily by making inquiries of the bicycle manufacturers of Melbourne without troubling to communicate with the Collector of Customs for South Australia. In order to prove that there is a combine which is likely to be injurious, not only to the bicycle trade, but to the general public, I propose to read a letter which was written by Mr. Herbert H. Smith, cycle manufacturer, of Lonsdale-street, Melbourne ; but I think that, in fairness to the agent for the Birm ingham Small Arms Company, I ought first to read an explanation which he sent to the same newspaper, because in his letter Mr. Smith refers to that explanation. Evidently the users of bicycle parts had been complaining of the action of the combine in compelling them to’ raise the price of bicycle parts to their customers. Mr; Rennie’s explanation was published in the Melbourne Agc early this month -
Mr. D. Y. Rennie, as colonial manager for the B.S.A. Company, writes denying that his company is party to any combine. As to the schedule . of prices adopted for the company’s goods in the Commonwealth, he says-: - “Previous to the issue of this schedule, which came into force on1st October last, there had been no official scale of prices for B.S.A. goods, which are almost universally used for the highest class of cycle construction. In consequence of this, and the fact that the principal wholesalers in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, &c, were unable to agree as to what the selling prices to the trade should be, prices were cut in all directions, and it became impossible for the wholesalers to obtain what they have a right to expect - a reasonable profit on the distribution of B.S.A. goods. Associations were formed, and agreements were entered into, but there was invariably some weak spot that developed itself, and it at length became apparent that’ the cooperation of my company was necessary. I was directed to gather the views of the principal dealers in Australasia, and I have before me, as
I write, letters from over. 75 per cent, of the leading wholesalers, pointing out that the handling of B.S.A. goods had become quite unremunerati ve, and’ assuring us that if we did not take steps to control selling prices our goods would be dropped in favor of other more profitable lines. I went home in May last to consult my directors, who were so- impressed by the unanimity of the views of the Australian dealers that they decided to fix a schedule of prices for this market, and so to control the importation of our goods that price cutting would be impossible Vo any extent. This was done, and a B.S.A. Australian price list was issued, for the first time, by us; so that it is impossible to say that there has been any advance in prices. As a matter of fact, there is practically no difference between the prices- now fixed and those that have been fixed at different times by the cycle trade associations in Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, but which it has been impossible to adhere to owing to the tactics- of certain cutting firms. We do not benefit in the least ourselves, as our prices to the wholesalers are, if anything, lower than before. All we have done is to secure to the- wholesalers a very modest margin of profit, and the only objection Mr. Smith can have to our scheme is the potent fact’ that in future- he must sell at the same rates as the other importers.”
In reply to that statement, Mr. Herbert H. Smith, who is a fairly large cycle manufacturer in Melbourne, addressed the following letter to the Age -
Sir - I read with interest Mr. Douglas Y. Rennie’s attempted vindication of the action of his company in attempting to force the wholesale cycle importers to sell their B.S.A. fittings at an advanced rate. As one who has had over 20 years’ experience in the distribution of the fittings I must certainly say I consider that this company has gone the wrong way to work. In the first place, the largest manufacturers of bicycles are placed on the same footing as the wholesale distributers, and it must be at once apparent that if the latter firms are compelled, to advance the prices 16 per cent, on the smaller builder- and I may mention that there are over 800 of these in Australia and Tasmania - well, then, with the profit previously charged by the wholesale distributer the large manufacturer will be able to purchase his fittings at least 20 per cent, cheaper than his smaller competitor, who is compelled to purchase his requirements in the local market. I consider that my firm, as the largest purchaser of the company’s goods in Australia, should not be compelled to increase prices to its customers. In Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales most especially, nearly all the large * manufacturers of bicvcles are also distributers of fittings, and sell wholesale as well as retail, and with the extra profit they will now obtain it means that ere long the cycle business will be in the hands of monopolists, and ultimately this will fall heavily on. the public. Is it reasonable to ask that the man who can run his business on healthy and economical lines should be compelled to sell his wares at advanced prices to please- his more extravagant competitor? Mr. Rennie is correct when he asserts that associations have never been able to control prices in Australia. The weak spot always lay hidden in the fact that if the semi- wholesaler agreed to sell the fittings at a fair rate of profit he immediately cut down the prices of the completed bicycle, and consequently it became cheaper for the small agent to purchase the completed articles than to build from fittings. I would point out the curse of trusts and combines in America. Let us not start them in Australia.
That is the opinion of a practical bicycle maker in Melbourne. The newspaper extract on which I based my. first question on this subject showed that the increasing of the cost of these fittings by 16 per cent, has placed the Australian manufacturer of bicycles at a disadvantage as compared with a manufacturer in England or elsewhere who is sending out the completed machines. The increased cost of bicycles affects, in addition to the 800 small manufacturers referred to by Mr. Smith, hundreds of thousands of people who use bicycles. The bicycle in Australia is now no longer a luxury, but is a tool of trade. It is used by artisans and mechanics to get to their work, and by thousands of bush workers to travel from station to station. If, as I believe from what I have been able to discover, the action of those two companies in combining will materially increase the cost of bicycles to the users, and will handicap the small bicycle maker to the advantage of the large manufacturer, and so force the trade into a few hands, it is a proper subject for the Government to’ take up. If they have the power, as I think they have under the legislation passed last year, to take action to prevent those evil results from coming about, a very good purpose will be served if they do so. I was surprised to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council to-day make out that it was such a large undertaking for the Customs authorities to find out whether this combine existed in Australia. I hope the Government will take action in this direction, especially as in the near future we shall be dealing with duties affecting bicycles and bicycle parts. Although I am a staunch protectionist, if the effect of voting for increased duties on bicycles or bicycle parts would be to favour the’ large manufacturer at the expense of the small, I would be a freetrader to that extent.
– I wish to urge upon the Government the necessity of calling for tenders for wireless telegraph communication with Tasmania. A few months ago I was one of a deputation which waited upon the Postmaster-General upon the subject of communication with King Island. Mr. Chapman, the then Postmaster-General, promised consideration, and said that the request had his heartiest support. I called attention in this chamber to the advisability of calling for tenders for a wireless telegraph service before the Marconi Company dismantled their experimental stations at Queenscliff and Devonport, but the Government at the time said that they had some better system in view. That was some months ago, and the time has arrived when the Government, should call for tenders for the service. I hope that, as Western Australian senators are urging a survey of the north-west coast of that State, the Government will see that the old demand of Tasmania to have its west coast, which is a most dangerous one, surveyed, is acceded to as early as possible.
– I should have liked to deal with the many matters raised by honorable senators during the course of this debate, but I am sure they will not regard me as discourteous if at, this hour I fail to do so. I shall bring their representations under the notice of my colleagues. In palliation of the course I am taking, I may say that to a very large extent honorable senators have most conclusively answered one another.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time. / 11 Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of
– Are the items in this Bill only for the ordinary services of the year, and at the rates previously provided ? If there axe any special items, will the Minister indicate them ?
– I am assured that the items are simply for the ordinary and usual services. In the Bill passed on the 8th November we provided £25,000 for refunds. In this Bill we provide ,£20,000 for that purpose. In the previous Bill the amount of the Treasurer’s advance was .£50,000. In this Bill it is only £25,000. The total amount for ordinary services in the Bill of the 8th November was £712,496. On this occasion, also for two months, we ask for those services for only .£650,457. By the previous Bill we asked for a total of £787 >496By this Bill we ask for only ;£7°4>457-
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Advertising the Commonwealth - Tropical Diseases : School of Medicine - Repatriation of Pacific Islanders - Statistics - Electoral Act - Map of Australasia - Government Printing Office - Commerce Act : Government . Analyst - Patents Office - Report of Uniform Stamps Board.
– As the Senate is to meet to-morrow, I presume that the third reading of this Bill will be taken then. If that course is agreed to, the schedule should be put through quickly to-night.
– The third reading can be fixed for to-morrow if honorable senators so desire, but there is nothing to be gained by that course. We have already dealt with the Bill fully. On the previous Bill the schedule was discussed in detail. We might finish the Bill to-night and meet tomorrow at 12 o’clock.
– I shall be glad if the VicePresident of the Executive Council will agree to the course suggested by Senator Turley.
– If it is the desire of honorable senators, I will agree to take the Bill through to-night up to the third reading stage, and to make the third reading an order pf trie day for tomorrow.
.- “Under the heading of “Miscellaneous” in the Department of External Affairs, appears an item of £2,500 for “Advertising resources of Commonwealth.” I should like information as to how and for what purposes that money is to be expended.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) i.10. 11]. - There is a new item of £450 for “ Advancement of the study of disease in tropical Australia.” I am glad to see that item on the schedule. I understand that the arrangement is that the Queensland Government shall contribute £250 a year towards the establishment of this school of medicine, and that the Commonwealth has been asked to contribute £450 a year. Will the Government seriously consider an application which has already been made, and which will be backed up by further evidence as to the willingness of the Queensland Government to take part in it, to make this grant of £450 an annual grant for at least five years, on similar lines to the £200 per annum for a contribution to the Imperial fund for the investigation of tropical diseases? The proposed school of medicine is to be situated at Townsville, in Queensland, where the authorities are willing to place part of the hospital at the disposal of the school free of charge, but it is to be controlled from the Sydney University. All the universities in Australia are to join in contributing the necessary funds for the laboratory and plant for the school, but unless the Government promise to make the grant an annual one for a fixed term, there will be some difficulty in getting the universities to consent to make those contributions. ‘Can the Minister inform the Committee what has been the total cost to date of the repatriation of the Pacific Islanders; the total number repatriated, ‘and the total sum, if any, which is being contributed out of the Queensland Pacific Islanders Trust Fund for the purpose ? It would be a good thing for the Minister to explain how the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth is being spent. Mr. Kidston in his Budget speech to the Queensland Parliament said that -
It is the desire of the Government to accelerate still further the rate at which closer settle, ment is taking place bv building railways to open up fresh, areas of country, and by properly advertising abroad the great advantages Queensland offers to intending settlers.
There may be duplications in the advertising, unless the Government act in concert with the States in this matter, for I take it that other States will do what Queensland is doing.
– As to the vote for the study of diseases in tropical Australia, my honorable friend, Senator Chataway, has asked that the Government should make a definite promise as to an annual contribution. The Government are in full, sympathy with the object of the institution in question, and they have indicated their .sympathy by placing a vote on the Estimates. It would be hardly compe-.tent for us .to give ah undertaking as to an annual contribution. The institution is responsible for an annual outlay of £7°°-
It is- connected with the Townsville Hospital. I had great pleasure in discussing the matter with the Bishop of Carpentaria on my visit there. The honorable senator need have no reasonable fear as to the action of the present Government in supporting the work. If he could see his way to keep the Government in office for an extended period, I have no doubt whatever that he would be perfectly satisfied with what was done. As to the . repatriation of the Pacific Islanders, the expenditure has been for 1906-7 £8,014 13s. 2d., for 1907-8 £2,966 - total £10,980 13s. 2d.
– Does the Minister consider that they are all repatriated now?
– I do not “think that there are many more to go. The State expenditure in 1906-7 was £12,890 ; in 1907-8, £3,035- total, . £16,925. The number of kanakas returned up to the nth February, 1907, was: -Solomon Islands, 2,027 ; New Hebrides, 1,651 ; Fiji, 351 ; Papua, 9 - total, 4,038.
– When the Minister speaks of State expenditure, does he mean expenditure by Queensland?
– That is from the kanaka fund ?
– No doubt.
– That does not cost the State of Queensland anything.
– I believe not. As regards advertising the resources of the Commonwealth various amounts have, from time to time, been expended. Recently the matter was fully discussed in connexion with another Supply Bill. The nature of the expenditure and of the advertising wais then indicated. The Government propose to purchase some 10,000 copies of Australia To-day with a view to their circulation throughout the United Kingdom. They have also adopted the practice of cabling news concerning Commonwealth affairs through Reuter’s for publication in the newspapers of the United Kingdom. That, of course, will involve a large expenditure. The Government will take the earliest opportunity of formulating a more definite scheme for the purpose of advertising our resources, and, of course, they must have money at their disposal with that object in view.
.- When I asked for information regarding the item of , £1,000 on the last Supply Bill, the reply was’ that of that amount £660 was to be paid to the proprietors of a newspaper which is the organ of the Commercial Travellers’ Association. A certain number of copies were to be purchased for circulation. I was also informed that £400 was to be paid by way of subsidy to Reuter’s. Now’ we are informed that an additional sum of £2,500 is to be spent inadvertising the resources - of Australia. That information is indefinite. How is the money to be expended ? There are certain organizations in existence in Australia which are doing all they can to induce people to come to this country by methods that are not at all creditable. If those people are to receive any of this money, we ought to be made aware of the fact.
– That is not intended.
– Surely the Government have some idea as to the way in which they mean to spend the money. What kind of literature are they going to distribute? They can do a lot with £2,500. Is more money to be spent in cables to English newspapers that can very well afford to pay for their own information ? Why should the people of the Commonwealth be taxed in order that certain wealthy newspapers may receive information respecting Australia for. nothing? The desire of every newspaper proprietor is to get information that will’ be of interest to his readers.
– They will not insert news about Australia unless we send it . to them.
– If it is of so little interest to their readers that they will not pay for news why should we trouble about them ?
– Does not the honorable senator’s argument apply to ordinary advertising ?
– Ordinary advertising is not paid for by the taxpayer.
– Advertisements are paid for by those who insert them.
– In their own interests.
– That is our position.
– I fail to see any analogy between a man who advertises to advance his own interest and what is now proposed. If we are going to subsidize Reuter’s, where are we going to stop? “The present Government believe in a policy of attracting people from . other countries- to Australia. This Government will not live for ever. Having established the precedent of subsidizing wealthy newspapers other Governments will follow the example.
– Have we any guarantee that the English newspapers will publish the cables?
– That is the arrangement with Reuter’s.
– Reuter’s cannot make the newspapers publish the news.
– It all depends upon what newspapers have agreed to publish the cables. If they are newspapers with little or no circulation the money will be wasted.
– Will the Times publish them?
– I doubt it, because the Times, being an enterprising newspaper, has agencies and correspondents of its own all over the world.
– We are not subsidizing Reuter’s; we are simply sending messages by that agency on the understanding that they will be circulated throughout the United Kingdom.
– How much per annum is to be given to Reuter’s for sending these messages? Is there any limit to the amount? Is the whole sum to be given to Reuter’s?
– A sum of £500 is to be spent on the circulation of copies of the Y ear-Book ; but it is quite impossible to go into small details.
– I do not expect the minutest details, but as the Minister gave the chief items in connexion with the last Supply Bill it is not top much to expect him to give details as to this sum of £2,500.
– Perhaps the Minister will show us a specimen pf the messages that are sent, so that , .we may judge for ourselves.
– What is the period covered by the amounts voted for advertising our resources in this and the last Supply Bill?
– Four months.
– That is to say, we are spending £3,500 in four months for this purpose. If we were talking about doing something for the working classes we should be told that we were wasting money. But honorable senators appear to be quite willing to spend money to induce people to come here ‘ and reduce wages. Before we bring people to this country we ought to make sure that we have land to put them on. Let the Government show the end which justifies the means, before they ask the people of Australia to spend money collected principally by means of Customs duties taken from the poor. .If honorable senators were willing to support a land tax as a means of raising revenuefor this purpose, I should not offer sp much objection. But I am against thisitem as it stands. The explanation that, has been given affords another reason why matters of this kind should not be rushed.. Instead of the Government giving us all! the information when it was asked for, we now find that they have kept the “joker” uptheir sleeve. I was under the impression that when in the last Supply Bill we voted £1,000, no more money would be asked, for in order to advertise Australia. But as the work is going to cost us so much, I am very glad that attention has been so prominently drawn to it. I hope that my fellow Socialists on the other side will come to the rescue, and see that public money is not squandered, especially when the poorer people will have to find the wherewithal to meet the expenditure.
– I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the Government should subsidize Reuter’s in advertising the Commonwealth.
– This is not a subsidy ;: it is payment for messages sent.
– That may be so;but the messages might just as well be sent by the Pacific Cable.
– Have the Pacific Cable people a press agency at the other side ?
– It does npt matter, whether they have or not. We haveCommonwealth officers in London, who* should be able to distribute the messages to the London newspapers just as well as Reuter’s people can. We should rememberthat Reuter’s messages to Australia arepublished only in certain newspapers, and” if Reuter’s company are not prepared te* give us the benefit of news from the other side, why should we give them the advantage of conducting this business when it might be done as well, if not better, if the messages were sent over the cable in whichthe Commonwealth is interested? I hope the Minister will see whether some arrangement cannot be made for the transmissionof these messages by the Pacific Cable.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland> [10.34]. - I wish to draw attention to the votes proposed in connexion with theDepartment of Census and Statistics-
No one realizes more thoroughly than I do the necessity of having most complete statistics carefully kept, but I think I should take this opportunity to draw attention to the extravagant manner in which statistics are being published quarter after quarter and month after month. Published in that form they are practically useless for purposes of comparison, and might very much better be held, over and published in a complete volume at the end of each year. I notice that a vote of £2,500 is asked for two months’ Supply under the heading of “ Contingencies “ in this Department. I have here a paper which cost I do not know how much to publish. It deals only with births, deaths, and marriages for one quarter, and gives mo tables of comparison with any other quarter in any_ other year. Under the heading of ‘-‘ Births “ there are no less than thirty-five ‘ different tables. We are given information not only as to the number of males- and females born, and the places at - which they were born, but the nation ality of their fathers and mothers, and the ages of their fathers and mothers at the time they were born. Under the heading of “ Marriages ‘’ there are twenty-four different tables, and under the heading of Deaths “ there are twenty -two more tables, and at the end a rather useful table of rates. Certain of the information given might be usefully published, but it is not of the slightest use, month after month, or quarter after quarter, to publish an expensive paper of this kind, setting forth the nationality and ages, of the parents of single births, of twins; and of triplets. The document as now published is absolutely absurd, and the only persons who are likely to take any pride in it are the happy parents of the twins and triplets, who may be pleased to find that so many pages of a Government document are devoted to the record of their particular cases. I do not deny that much of the information contained in this paper would lie useful if published annually, but I complain that an immense amount of expense is being unnecessarily incurred in the publication of tabulated matter that, in the form “in which it is published, is of very little “use. I urge that the Minister in charge of “the Department responsible should see “whether something cannot be done to prevent this useless expenditure.
– 1 «’‘sh to get a little in formation in reference to the item of £2,000 for expenditure in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act. At the beginning of the session we were promised an amending Electoral Bill. I recognise that there has been no opportunity to introduce the Bill this session, but I should like some assurance that at the very earliest possible moment such a Bill will be introduced to improve the administration of the Electoral laws of Australia. We have had several examples to show that under existing conditions the administration is very faulty, and amongst them one very notable example from South Australia. I hope that the people will not be asked to face another Federal election under the provisions of the existing Act, and under the existing system of administration which has been proved to be ineffective and a source of considerable expense, not only- to the Government, but also to certain citizens of the Commonwealth.
– The Government did intend to introduce an amending Electoral Bill this session if time permitted, but Senator Needham must be aware that it has been impossible for them to do so. We have been considering the question whether it would not be better to prepare a code of the Electoral law, because at present the law is iri a somewhat complicated condition. That is a task which should not be undertaken hurriedly, and I see ho prospect of dealing with it this session.
– I hope the matter will be dealt with before next election.
– There should be ample opportunity to deal fully with the question before the next Federal elections. The amending Bill that was prepared is actually in print, but on further consideration the Government have thought it would be more satisfactory to submit an Electoral code.
– Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council could give the Committee some information as to the cost of the proposed map of Australasia. He might say whether it is to be a large or a small map, and who is charged with the duty of compiling it.
– The map is being compiled in the New South Wales Office, and speaking from memory, I think the cost is to ^ _£3’5°°- ‘
– There are two items which I should like to have explained. I refer to the vote of £500 for salaries in the Department of the Government Printer, and also of the vote of £500 for contingencies in the same Department.
– As regards the item of £500 for salaries, Senator Findley will perhaps be aware that in the Estimates the provision proposed for salaries for this year amounts to £10,610, and for contingencies £”14,916. I can only assure him that the votes to which he has referred represent the proper proportions of those amounts to cover a period of two months.
– That does not satisfy me.
– If the honorable senator desires particulars of the salaries I can give them.
– I should like to have some particulars of the contingencies. I should like to know whether more type is being bought for the use of the Commonwealth and other persons.
– I am able to give the honorable senator the following particulars with regard to the vote for contingencies : - Paper and parchment, £1,500 ; repairs to machinery, £50; type, £50; book-binders’ materials, £300 ; motive power, fuel and light, £600; cartage, £183 ; distribution of Hansard and parliamentary papers, £1,250; postage and telegrams, £50; office requisites, £10; writing paper, £10; account records, £15; other expenses, £75 ; incidental and petty cash expenditure, £50 ; and “insurance and plant, £163.
– I desire some information as to the vote of £5,300 for reimbursing the States for expenditure in carrying out the Commerce Act.
– The arrangement which the Commonwealth has made with the States is that their officers shall be employed for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Commerce Act. It is estimated that the expenditure on account of all the States except Queensland will be £11,922 a year, and that an annual sum of £3,500 is required in connexion with Queensland.
– I desire to ascertain whether the Go vernment have decided to appoint a Commonwealth officer for the administration of the Commerce Act? I know that some time ago the services of Mr. Wilkinson, the Victorian Government Analyst, were availed of, and that after a tentative arrangement had been entered into by - the two Governments for the use of his services a disagreement arose, and the State Government complained that the Commonwealth Government were not paying a fair sum for his services. Since then, I understand that Mr. Wilkinson Kas been temporarily in the employ of the Commonwealth, and is independent of the State. I do not know whether I am correctly informed or not.
– I do not think that that is correct.
– If that statement is incorrect, I ask the Government whether they have made any definite arrangement in regard to the new Department which it has been decided to create. Every one is agreed that if the Commerce Act is to be well administered in the interests of the citizens, the duty should be entrusted to an officer who would be responsible to this Parliament. All I desire to elicit is, whether the Government have made any definite arrangement for the appointment of a suitable officer to the post.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is engaged in the formation of a Government Analyst Department for the purpose of carrying out the Commerce Act and the Tariff Act, and rooms have, I believe, been selected for that purpose. I am aware that my honorable colleague has taken the advice of Mr. Wilkinson, who is a highly competent man. I believe that it will be necessary under the Public Service Act to call for applications from persons to fill the position.
– I understood the Minister to say, just after we w.ent into Committee, that this Bill provided for two months’ Supply, and that, . so far as he knew, it contained no items except those for ‘ the ordinary services. If that- is so, and we are asked to vote £5,300 for this purpose, it means that the amount to be paid to the States to reimburse their officers for their services in connexion wilh the Commerce Act, is £31,000 odd per annum.
– No vote was taken in the last Supply Bill.
– I understood the Minister to. say just now that the total amount which will have to be paid to the. States for that purpose is£11,000. If so, this item represents . six months’ Supply. What I should like to be made clear is, whether we shall be called upon to pay the States£31,000 or only£11,000?
– This is the first time that this item has appeared in a Supply Bill, and it represents eight months’’ Supply.
– Are there any expenses in carrying out the Commerce Act, other than the remuneration of State officers? “ I assume that a number of officers in the Customs Department are. also employed in that way.
– I believe that this is the only case in which officers are paid, in connexion with the administration of . that Act.
– I am trying to ascertain, if possible, the cost of administering the Act. If the Minister will tell me that from these’ Estimates he cannot gather the information, I am sure that he will get it for me at a later date.
– I shall be very glad to procure the information, but I think that the total expenditure is ; £1 5,442.
– I understood the Minister of Home Affairs to mention- to Senator Findley that other officers are employed in administering the Commerce Act.
– Customs officers are employed in that way, but their salaries are not split up.
– I take it that if 100 officers were sufficient to work the Cus-. toms Tariff Act without the Commerce Act, more than that number have to be employed to administer the two- Acts.
– Inotice that under the heading of Patents we are asked to vote a sum of £2,606. A few months ago, when I was discussing the advisability of placing the linotype operators employed by the Commonwealth on the classified list of public officers, I mentioned that the Patents Department ‘ was not up-to-date. I ask the Minister to tell the Senate whether it is able to cope with the work, and if not, whether he will take the earliest opportunity of providing a means to remove the block which I understand . now exists ?
– I shall mention the matter to my honorable colleague.
– When we were considering the last Supply Bill, I mentioned that the report of a Board appointed to inquire into the question of adopting a uniform stamp for the ‘ Commonwealth had been published before it was received by the Minister. In his reply to my observations, . Senator Best said that Mr. Hull, a member of the Board, had given the information away, that the Postmaster-General was very indignant about the disclosure, and had called upon Mr. Hull for an explanation. I desire to know if Mr. Hull has furnished an explanation ?
– I shall inquire of my honorable colleague. I do not know whether an explanation has yet been furnished.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without request : report adopted.
Bill -returned from the House of Representatives, without amendment.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till12 noon to-morrow.
It is contemplated that by that time we shall be in receipt of the Bounties Bill, which has Occupied some little attention. here.
– It will occupy more attention if the honorable senator tries to bring us back.
– Are not the Government going to accept the Senate’s amendments ?
– There are certain amendments of the Senate which I’ think will be disagreed to by the other House. In these circumstances,; I ask honorable senators to consent to meet at noon tomorrow.
– In ordinary circumstances, it might be practicable for the Senate to meet at noon to-inorrow, but with the knowledge that the other House has disagreed with two amendments of the Senate in the Bounties Bill, although they had been passed under review here on two occasions, 1 think that we ought to meet at the usual hour. .
– That is a most unusual suggestion for the honorable senator to make.
– I do so with the full knowledge that the Bounties Bill-
– It will not be here at half-past 10.
– Could we not proceed with the business still before us?
– The Navigation Bill? Yes.
– If it is to the advantage of the Commonwealth that the. Navigation Bill should be proceeded with, I am sure that honorable senators will be ready to do their duty. . We should not be forced to deal, between 12 and 4 o’clock to-morrow, with business which in ordinary circumstances would take considerably longer. The consideration of the Bounties Bill is to Le sprung upon us in a manner that- is not in keeping with the dignity of the Senate.
– I assume, from the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that “no other business will be brought before us to-morrow than that he has mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11. 2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071121_senate_3_41/>.