3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ‘desire to ask the Vice-President, without notice, whether he is aware that a contingent notice of motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders has’ been1 on the business-paper since the 8th April, and, further, whether he thinks that the provision made for meeting special occasions can justify its use as an almost permanent part of .the machinery of the Senate.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that it is not ‘ in order to ask the Minister his opinion in regard to any procedure which may be adopted under the Standing Orders. That is a matter on which every honorable senator can form his own conclusion.
– Well, I beg to ask the Minister if he is aware that this contingent notice of motion has been on the business-paper for practically two months, and whether, in the future, he proposes to make it a part of the permanent machinery of the Senate?
– The practice of other Governments has been, and the practice of succeeding Governments will be, to utilize this very necessary means of expeditiously getting through with the work at the end of the session. It is one which I am sure will commend itself to honorable senators, and it can only be utilized with their sanction.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to a paragraph which appears in the Argus of to-day. It is therein stated that the Closer Settlement Board ot . Victoria are taking into consideration’ the question. of dealing with slums in the city, and that a calculation which has been prepared for the Board sets out that they could obtain a quarter acre of land and, at a cost- of is. 6d. per week for repayment of the capital value, supply a cottage home at 4s. 3d’, per week.
– Is there any information as to the size of the cottage?
– No; but I should think it would be a two-roomed cottage-. In view of this calculation, I desire to ask the Minister whether the Government will cause inquiries to be made during the recess as to the advisability of securing suitable land and erecting small cottages near all the principal’ cities for the use of old-age pensioners who are not in possession of homes so as to save them the necessity of living in crowded quarters?
– I shall be very happy to- bring ‘the matter under the notice of the Cabinet, and, no doubt, it will receive consideration.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he has yet had time tolook into the matter of the alleged differential treatment of various vessels, to which I referred yesterday?
– I have caused inquiries to be made, and am assured that it is receiving the special consideration of ‘ the Department of Trade and Customs.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, the following questions -
Will the Government take steps to put into practice a better method of preventing the smuggling of Asiatics into the Commonwealth?
In the case of all vessels coming from an Asiatic port, and whose first port of call in the Commonwealth is on the north, north-west, or north-east coast, will the Government consider the advisability of keeping an officer on board such vessels during their stay in Australian waters?
In fumigating such vessels will the Government officers be given instructions to see that all parts of the ship, including the stokehold, are well fumigated ?
– This matter has been under the consideration of the Department of External Affairs and the Prime Minister, and an officer high in rank has been specially deputed to give close attention to it. I shall be very happy indeed to bring the representations of my honorable friend under the notice of the Prime Minister, but at the same time I can assure him that the question of having an officer on board has already received his attention.
– I rise to call the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the following paragraph in the Government organ of this morning - the Age -
There will be a three months’ recess, and a new session will begin in the second week in September, after the visit of the American Fleet, and will be a short one, almost exclusively devoted to Australian naval and military defence schemes, Federal and State financial relations, and transfer of the Northern Territory? and to ask whether that is an authoritative statement ?
– The Government have come to no determination as to the order of business in the coming session. My honorable friend can fully realize that there will be measures of grave and urgent importance, amongst others, no doubt, the two measures in which he is so keenly interested - the Navigation Bill and the Seamen’s Compensation Bill. As regards the arrangement of business I give him the assurance that the urgency of those measures will be fully considered.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government intend to deal this session with the question of the Federal Capital site ?
– I am somewhat fearful that the present session will not permit of full justice being done to that measure. The Government certainly did make a strong effort to have it dealt with and completed, but were not successful. No doubt it will receive consideration next session.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether it is the intention of the Government to recoup the expenses which were incurred by the Hon. J. B. C’Loghlin, Senator Vardon, and others, in connexion with the election for South Australia, which was upset recently?
– I am aware that the Treasurer and the Attorney-General have this matter under consideration, and thata Bill has been drafted. I believe that it is the full intention of the Government to put it through before the Senate rises.
Differential Railway Rates
– I beg to draw the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the imposition of differential railway rates throughout the Commonwealth, and to ask himwhether during the recess the Government will inquire into the matter and see if there is a necessity for the appointment of the Inter-State Commission ? .
– I can assure myhonorable friend that the subject is not a new one. It has received very full consideration, and during the recess it will receive further consideration at our hands.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– Yes, of course.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice-
– The answer is “No,” but the Government, as I have already given an assurance,intend to conduct these celebrations, with the assistance of the Par- liamentary Committee appointed for the purpose’ with the utmosteconomy.
– I beg to lay upon the table the following paper -
Papua Land Transactions- Communications, dated 27th April and 3rd May, 1908, received from Mr. Staniforth Smith.
– I understand that there will not be time for the Printing Committee to meet before we disperse, and as this paper has a bearing upon a subject which is engaging public attention, I move-
That the paper be printed.
– I am very sorry to interpose here, but I would point out to Senator Pearce that on more than one occasion the Senate has laid it down as a very sound principle that it should not order the printing of a paper until the Printing Committee has furnished a report.
– Hear hear, but in this case we have no alternative.
– I admit the urgency, but is there a reasonable probability that the paper can be printed and distributed before we disperse?
– The paper can be forwarded to our homes as has been done previously. Unless this paper is ordered to be printed now, we shall have to wait until we re-assemble before it can be printed.
– In the light of that explanation, I will withdraw any objection I had in connexion with the printing of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House ofRepresentatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Ordersbe suspended as would prevent the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill.be now read a second time.
The amendments sought to be effected by this Bill are practically of a formal character. Clause 6 of the Customs Tariff Bill as passed provides that -
If honorable senators will refer to schedule A they will see there are two columns setting forth the duties under the general
Tariff and on goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom. Where it was intended that goods imported from the United Kingdom should be dutiable at a certain rate or should be free of duty, our general practice in passing the Tariff was to set that out in the United Kingdom column. But it will be observed on reference to the schedule that against a number of the items nothing appears in that column at all. This is open to the construction that it is intended that there shall be no Tariff on goods imported from the United Kingdom under the items referred to, and the first amendment proposed by this Bill is submitted in order to remove any doubt on the subject. It is consequently provided by clause 3 of this Bill that clause 6 of the Customs Tariff Bill of 1908 shall be amended by the insertion after sub-clause 1 of the following subclause
Where inthe said column no rate of duty is set out and the goods are not expressly declared to be free, the rate of duty on the said goods shall be that set out in Schedule A in the column headed “General Tariff.”
As regards the second formal amendment proposed by this Bill, honorable senators will see that clause 9 of the Customs Tariff Bill reads -
This Act shall not affect the provisions of the Customs (South African Preference) 1906 (No. 17 of1 906), and the duties imposed by that Act shall continue to be collected in accordance with that Act.
In the case of a few items in the schedule to the. Customs Tariff (South African) Preference Act of 1906 the. duties imposed are higher than those of the Tariff which has just been passed, and the object of this amendment is to declare that in such cases the rates of Tariff we have just passed are to prevail. For that purpose it is proposed to add to clause 9 of the Customs Tariff Bill-
Provided that no higher duty shall he payable under that Act on any goods than the duty under the General Tariff in this’ Act.
The third amendment proposed is necessary, because in one or two instances certain items free under the general Tariff we have recently passed are dutiable under the South African Tariff, and in these circumstances it is necessary to declare that goods made free of duty under our general. Tariff shall be free if imported from South Africa, with which we have a preferential arrangement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section” six of. theCustoms Tariff 1908 is amended by inserting after sub-section (1) the following sub-section : - “ (1a) Where in the saidcolumn no rate of duty is set out and the goods arenot expressly declared to be free, the rate of duty on the said goods shall be that set out in Schedule A in the column headed ‘ General Tariff.’ “
– The fact that the introduction of this Bill is almost coincident with the passage of the measure it is intended to amend should be evidence of the slipshod way in which some of. our parliamentary work is done. If private members seek to amend a measure they are frequently met by the Minister in. charge of it with the statement that the clause which they desire to amend has been very carefully drawn after full consideration by the responsible officers.
– I think the honorable senator’s remarks would have been more pertinent on the second reading than they are as addressed to this clause.
– I think that they are also pertinent to this clause, because I intend to show that it also is drafted in a slipshod manner, and requires careful scrutiny if we are not to be asked in a day or two to consider another amending Bill. If honorable senators will refer to clause 6 of the Customs Tariff Bill they will find that it comprises two sub-clauses. In the first itis provided that -
The rates of duty set out in’ Schedule A in the column headed Tariff on goods the produce or manufacture of the ‘United Kingdom “ shall apply only to goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom.”
The second sub-clause provides that -
The rates of duty set out in Schedule A in the column headed “General Tariff” shall subject to this Act apply to all other goods.
It is proposed in. the Bill now before the Committee to amend clause 6 of the Customs Tariff Bill, by inserting a new subclause, which commences -
Where in the said column no rate of duty is set out.
– The honorable senator should read the wording of the clause. It says-
Section 6 of the Customs Tariff 1908 is amended by inserting after sub-section (1) the following sub-section.” and then follow the words the” honorable senator was proceeding to. read.
– Yes, but we have two columns alluded to in this. .
– That is not so. Only one column is referred to in sub-clause i of clause 6.
– There are two columns referred to in the clause we are now amending. It is not an amendment of sub-clause i of clause 6 that we are asked to consent to, but an amendment of the whole of that clause..
– But the amending provision is to be inserted to follow sub-clause i of clause 6 of the Customs Tariff Bill.
– Why not put down in actual words the column in the schedule to which, this amendment is intended to refer ?
– Because that is the only column which is- referred to in sub-clause i of clause 6 ‘ and the amendment is to follow that sub-clause.
– If we had pointed that out when we were considering the original measure, we should have been met by the Vice-President . of the’ Executive Council with exactly the same argument. We should state clearly in this amending Bill the column ‘of the schedule to which we intend to refer.
– If the honorable senator’s argument is good, further on, where the proposed “new sub-clause refers to the “said goods,”- we should enumerate the goods.
– I claim that the whole thing is drafted, in the most slipshod fashion. It is because of- this kind of carelessness that we are being asked continually to pass amending Bills. The Bill, which this Bill is intended to amend, has not yet received the Royal assent. The matter might have been made absolutely clear without the use of as many words as there are in the clause now before the Committee. Although, at the most, our legislation is not seven years. old, more than one-half of the time of this Parliament is spent in considering amending Bills. Whilst we continue to do business in this slip-shod way, an.d do not carefully scrutinize Bills submitted to us, we shall have much of the time of. Parliament occupied in correcting mistakes we have made.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Section nine of the Customs Tariff 1908 -is amended by adding thereto the following provisoes : - “Provided that no higher duty shall be payable under that Act on any goods than the duty under the General Tariff in this Act : “ Provided further that no duty shall be payable under that Act on any goods which under, the General Tariff in this Act are ‘ free of or exempt from duty.”
– I should like to find out ‘from the Minister whether, in view of the fact, that by this provision we propose to confer additional advantages upon South Africa, the Government will, on behalf of the Commonwealth, seek to have ‘ certain duties reduced upon Australian goods under the reciprocal arrangement in force between the two countries. It is proposed here to reduce duties on South African goods below the rates imposed under the reciprocal agreement,’ and to admit certain’ goods duty free that are dutiable under that agreement: In both cases, a decided! advantage is given to South Africa, and apparently no effort has been made to secure a corresponding advantage for the Commonwealth.
– It is proposed only to treat South Africa in the same way as the rest of the world.
– As I understand the. amendment, its effect is. to reduce the rates of duty under the reciprocal . arrangement, and to remove duties on certain goods’ under that arrangement.
– No; it .is merely a saving clause, to provide in the one case that the duties on South African goods shall be no higher than on goods from other countries, and, in the other, that where goods are made free from the rest of the world, they shall be free also from South Africa.
– I understand that, under the preferential Tariff with South Africa, goods are dutiable at certain fixed rates. It is found that the rates are higher than those to which we have agreed in the Tariff we have just passed, and it. is intended to reduce them, to the level of those duties. In the second place, it is intended to make some goods imported from South Africa dutv free, although under the preferential. Tariff with that country they are dutiable.
– Only such goods as have been made free from the rest of the world.
– When we are making these concessions to South Africa, it seems to me that it is only fair that we should seek some corresponding advantage for the Commonwealth.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This alteration of the Excise Tariff 1908 is proposed at the request of the Department, because of the somewhat awkward and. ambiguous language used in the Act in connexion with the item “ Starch.” Item 94 in the Customs Tariff 1908 is as follows -
Rice, viz. : -
As the starch item appears in the Excise Tariff 1908, as passed by Parliament, an Excise duty of1d. per lb. is imposed upon “ starch made from rice,” and it has been discovered that by reason of those ambiguous words the Excise duty will be chargeable not only on the starch made from rice which is delivered free under departmental by-laws for use in the manufacture of starch, but also on the starch made from rice which has already paid the Customs duty. The design and object of the Act was that only the starch made from rice which is admitted free, and not starch made from rice imported and paying the duty of 3s. 4d. per cental, should be chargeable with the Excise duty.
– The manufacturers can still get all their rice free if they want to.
– But a considerable quantity of rice is imported and cleaned here.
– On which the manufacturer gets an advantage of 2s. 8d. per cental from the Customs Tariff.
– The actual operation would be this : - One hundred pounds of uncleaned rice, delivered free, would produce 49 lbs. of starch, and, therefore, the Excise duty payable upon it, at1d. per lb. of starch, would be 4s.1d. The same quantity of uncleaned rice, delivered under paragraph a of item 94 of the Customs Tariff, would pay a duty of 3s. 4d., and in addition to that, under the Excise Tariff as it now stands, a sum of 4s.1d. in Excise duty would be collected. That would penalize the introduction of uncleaned rice for cleaning here. The intention of the Government was to encourage the established industry of rice cleaning in Australia, but the effect of the law, as it now stands, would be to completely annihilate it. To avoid that anomaly this Bill has been introduced. Under ordinary circumstances what the” importer will do will be to bring in his rice uncleaned, and pay a duty on it of 3s. 4d. per cental. That will then be made into starch in the usual way. It was never contemplated that the Excise duty should be chargeable on starch made from rice on which the duty had already been paid. As both kinds of rice are manufactured together into starch it is quite impossible to separate them, and the provision, as previously passed, would . have operated as an undue and unreasonable hindrance to the manufacturer.
– Is it not possible for the starch manufacturer to make equally good starch out of Australian-grown material?
– It will undoubtedly be so as soon as we grow sufficient rice in the Common wealth .
– I mean out of other materials, apart from rice altogether.
– The wording of the starch item in the Excise Tariff Act is so ambiguous that there is a possibility of its being contended that starch made even from Australian-grown rice would be liable to the Excise duty. To remove the ambiguity is the object of this measure. It is a purely departmental matter.
.- The last remark of the VicePresident of the Executive Council hardly conveys the full intention of the Bill. It may or may not simplify departmental procedure, but the simple effect of the Bill will be to put additional money into the pockets of the manufacturers of starch’.
– I have already’ said that there is the difference between 3s. 4d. and 4s. id.
– The Bill, if passed, will give an advantage to the manufacturers of starch.
– Very little.
– The honorablesenator now admits that the advantage does exist. The Senate ought to know that the effect of the Bill would be to enable the. starch manufacturers to gather more profit than they are gathering under the present Act..
– To give them more protection.
– -.It is too small for consideration.
– It is not so small as the Minister- wishes to convey. It is enough for my argument that the Minister admits that additional profits will be givento the starch manufacturers. He states that the Bill is necessary to simplify departmental procedure because of the difficulty of ear-marking r.ice which has paid duty and rice which has not, in the process of their manufacture into starch. The same difficulty will exist if we pass the Bill, and there will never be a penny paid as’ Excise duty, because of the difficulty of determining exactly what material the manufacturer is making his starch from.
– That will be the trouble.
– The Minister has admitted the difficulty of keeping track of particular parcels of rice once they go into the factory; and the result will be that every man who makes a pound of starch in Australia will have ample proof that it has been made, not from rice which was delivered free under departmental control, but from something else. . I will indicate to honorable senators -what it- will be made from. The by-product of the uncleaned rice which is cleaned in Australia is used in the manufacture of starch. That is the material from which the bulk of the starch will be made here, and the manufacturer, after having paid duty on his uncleaned . rice, and getting as his profit the difference between the import duty of 3s. 4d. on uncleaned and 6s. on cleaned rice, will use the. by-product for starch making, and therefore will be able to sail through the Act- which we are now. invited to pass. I regard the measure, not as being the de- partmental procedure simplifying Bill that the Minister suggested it was, but as one which,, in the language of Senator Trenwith, is intended to give higher protection to an industry which is already sufficiently protected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Duty on starch made from imported rice, delivered* free).
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales [11. 41]. - It should be borne in mind that some time ago the Customs duty on starch was id.’ per lb., and it was agreed that it’ should be raised to 2d. per lb. on the imposition of an Excise duty of id. per lb. Now we are practically arranging that that penny Excise duty may be avoided, so that the protection to the starch manufacturer will be the full 2d. per lb.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
Bill read a first time.
– * move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The discussion on this Bill was to some extent anticipated when we were dealing with the Surplus Revenue Bill. It will be observed that under the terms of that measure payments to trust accounts established under the Audit Acts 190.1 and 1906 may be made for any purposes for which Parliament has authorized appropriations. . It has been determined to appropriate .£250,000 towards coastal and harbor defence.
– Has a trust account already been opened for coastal and harbor defence ?
– I cannot say whether a trust account has been actually opened, but ‘ one will be opened, when this Bill becomes law. .
– I think that the phraseology of the Bill implies that an account has been opened.
– Because one will be opened before the Bill becomes an Act. We are following the usual procedure which is essential in carrying on the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. I suppose that fifty or sixty trust accounts have already been established.
– State trust accounts?
– No; trust accounts under the terms of our own Audit Acts have already been established in a large number of cases. It is now intended to establish a special coast and harbor defence trust account, and this Bill proposes that £250,000 shall be put aside for that purpose out of the anticipated surplus revenue for the month of June, which will be something like £472,000. Honorable senators might, of course, take exception to the appropriation of this money if they considered that it would result in committing them to some’ particular kind of vessel or type of armament or to any definite scheme in connexion with naval defence. I desire to say, therefore, that the passage of this measure will not commit the Senate to anything of the kind, the object being simply to put aside as a sort of nucleus or nest-egg £250,000 for the purposes indicated. Subsequently a scheme will be introduced showing the details of the proposed expenditure and the nature of the defence proposed to be established. We therefore consider that we’ are taking a wise and reasonable precaution. As we all admit that our shores are at present exposed to unnecessary peril, and that it is most desirable that we should take steps towards the establishment of some reasonable system of coastal defence, we are now taking this opportunity to appropriate out of the general receipts a sum of £250,000 for that purpose. I think that the assurances that I have given to my honorable friends that the Bill is non-committal so far as any scheme is concerned ought to satisfy them.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council said just now that this Bill had been anticipated by the discussion upon the Surplus Revenue Bill. I quite agree with him there. But it has to be recognised that the validity of the Bill hinges upon the constitutionality of that measure. If it should beheld - and I am not anticipating that it will be held - that the Surplus Revenue Bill, as far as it is retrospective, is uncon stitutional, there will be no surplus revenue to be applied under this measure; The Minister has made the task of honorable senators fairly easy by his assurance that the Government in submitting the Bill do not intend to claim that any honorable senator, or the Senate itself, is committed in the slightest degree to any particular schemeof defence. Speaking for myself, I claimthe fullest possible freedom to say how the money shall be expended later on. It may be expended, if Parliament likes, on the establishment of a fleet of Chinese junks, or for any other purpose. It may even be expended on a larger subsidy to the Imperial Navy. I shall consider myself free to vote for or against any scheme irrespective of the vote which I shall give for the second reading of this Bill.
.- I was glad to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council make the statement that the passing of this Bill will in no way commit any member of the Senate to any particular scheme which the Government may introduce in respect of the defence of Australia.
– If the Minister had not made that statement the Bill itself would have made the point clear.
– The Minister’s statement makes it clearer. I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, however, whether the Bill means that the Commonwealth will be definitely committed to the establishment of an Australian navy?
– No ; it means that the Commonwealth will be definitely committed to coastal and . harbor defence.
– That is an ambiguous statement.
– That is what the Bill says.
– Does it mean that the Government intend during next session to suggest to Parliament the commencement of the construction of an Australian navy ?
– The Government propose to lay their scheme for the defence of Australia before Parliament in detail.
– I have no doubt in my mind that the intention of the Government is as soon as possible to commence the building of an Australian navy.
– Letus hope so.
– With £250,000?
– It could not be done without further consideration.
– We have an opportunity of consideringthe matter now. Of course, £250,000 would not be sufficient to build any kind of ship for defence purposes.
– A first-class torpedo boat can be built for £120,000.
– The money is not sufficient if we want up-to-date ships.
– The question is whether we are prepared to put aside this money for defence purposes, to be utilized next year.
– Before I agree to that, I want more information as to whether it is proposed to make a commencement in building ‘an Australian navy.. For such a. purpose the sum mentioned is a mere bagatelle. The probabilities are that if we commence to build an Australian navy, the amount that will be necessary to complete the work will be £30,000,000, or £40,000,000. It has been said that Australia ought to be in a state of preparedness to defend herself adequately.
– Would not this money be sufficient to pay for the paint on the honorable senator’s £30,000,000 navy?
– I hope those honorable senators who support this Billwill tell the people of Australia that millions of pounds will be required for the purpose in view.
– The honorable senator is throwing the millions about.
– It is too serious a matter to be talked about light-heartedly .
– It would be if the Bill’ would actually accomplish anything. .
– I say that the Bill means that we are about to start on our career in regard to a navy.
– We hope so.
– I want the people of Australia to consider whether they are prepared to pay the cost.
– There is no doubt that they are.
– An up-to-date navy- - which would become out of date in about eight years - would cost between’ £30,000,000 and£40,000,000, and the up-keep and maintenance of it would cost £6,000,000 or £8,000,000 per annum.
– The honorable senator has big ideas about a navy !
– It is of no use to talk about defending Australia unless we have an adequate system.
– At what figure would the honorable senator put the cost of land defence ?
– Land defence would cost very much less than naval defence. We have to defend between 8,000 and 9,000 miles of coast line. It is of no use to think of undertaking this task with £250,000.
– What has been the relative expenditure on naval and land defence ?
– The total cost per head at present is 5s. 3d. Naval defence costs the people of Australia 1s3¼d. per head per annum.
– The service has been absolutely starved.
– What is the cost to Great. Britain ?
– Great Britain pays, I believe, about 15s. 3d. per head per annum for the up-keep of her Navy, and a larger amount for military purposes.
– Part of that 15s. 3d. is for the defence of Australia.
– There is an extraordinary desire at the present moment to embark upon heavy defence expenditure. There appears to be a fear of an Asiatic invasion. Personally, I do not share the belief that there is any likelihood of invasion from that quarter.
– I suppose that the honorable senator would be convinced when the invasion arrived?
– No; he would not stop to be convinced !
– There is a peace movement that is expanding in every country on earth.
– One factor in that peace movement is the perfecting of armaments.
– One of the factors that are making for peace is the advent into the Parliaments of the world of a party that is always against war.
– And for the defence of Australia.
– They hold the belief, and I hold the belief, that the day is not far distant when wars will be things of the past, that the differences between nations will not be settled by the slaughter of human beings, but will be settled, as disputes between employers and employes are now settled, by peaceful methods, and by the establishment of international Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– I hope that the honorable senator will live long enough to see it. Senator FINDLEY. - I hope to goodness that I shall, because ever since I have been able to think, I have had an utter detestation of war.
– The honorable senator is not singular.
– The ideathat Australia must forthwith start to build a navy, because there is a likelihood of an Asiatic invasion, is a groundless bogy. It is asserted that, before any time has elapsed, there will be an alliance between the Japanese and the Chinese. But, as a matter of fact, there is open hostility between . those races to-day.
– Is it going to be permanent ?
– The Tatsu Maru incident - a boat belonging to the Japanese, was bailed up by the Chinese in the Canton River, under the belief that it was l;-.den with contraband for the Boxers - has aroused the hostility of the Chinese to such an extent that they are applying the boycott against the Japanese in such a manner that, according to newspaper reports in Australia, the probability is that there will be a war between the two countries in a very short period. . Further than that the Chinese are a nonaggressivenation. They do not believe in war. There is no more peaceful nation on earth than the Chinese. There are no monuments to soldiers in China. There is no fear of a Japanese invasion. There is an alliance with Great Britain and the Japanese to-day. It may be “off” to-morrow, it is true, but are the Japanese likely to invade Australia because of any restrictive laws?
– Then we can. dismiss the Chinese and the Japanese, and. ask, “ What nation is likely to declare war against Australia?”
– It is not a question of declaring war, but a question of preparing to meet a raiding cruiser or two.
– A nation,which was anxious to get into Australian waters, would not stop at the sending of a raiding cruiser or two. There is unnecessary alarm in Australia at the present time, and, in order, probably, to give an impetus to the scheme, which the Government contemplate carrying out at a later stage, an invitation has been extended to the fleet of a friendly nation, and, duringtheir visit, they will, without a shadow of doubt, be entertained very hospitably. The coming of that fleet will leave a jingoistic fever behind it, and, probably, it will give encouragement to the expenditure of what I regard as an unnecessarily large amount, in the furtherance of the scheme, which the Government have in their mind. If they are committed to the expenditure of considerable sums in connexion with the building of an Australian navy, they ought, before definitely deciding on that course, to give some consideration to the paper which was submitted to the recent Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne. It was sent to the Conference by a State employe of Victoria, who stated that Australia could be adequately protected in an up-to-date, anda most economical, manner, by airships, or dirigible balloons.
– Would the honorable senator go up in one of them?
– That interjection may tickle the ears of some persons; but, according to a recent cable, a number of persons offereda premium the other day to be allowed the opportunity of going up in such balloons.
– And some were sorry afterwards that they did. .
– I did not see any statement to that effect in the cablegram. The first man who undertook a trip in & railway train was, perhaps, sorry that he did ; but these are merely experiments.
– Is not this a matter for consideration at the beginning of a session ?
– The honorable senator has been up in a balloon long enough, let him come down to solid earth, now.
– I think that I am on solid earth when I say that dirigible balloons, or aeroplanes, or air-ships, are actualities, so far as the defence of a country is concerned. They have got beyond the experimental stage. The paper to which I referred was read at the Premiers Conference, and the clerk was instructed to send it to the Prime Minister.
– But the honorable senator is discussing the wrong Bill. This is not a proposal to spend money, but to get it in hand.
– This is a Bill to set apart a certain sum, and its passage will commit the Parliament to the expenditure of at least£250,060.
– No, not to a penny.
– Then I cannot understand why it is submitted for our assent.
– If we should find that the proposal is desirable, we shall have the money. If we think it undesirable, it will be there and can be used for some other purpose, or, perhaps, returned to the States.
– It means, without a shadow of doubt, the commencement of a period when large sums will be- spent on the construction of an Australian navy.
– What is the good of discussing this Bill?
– it gives me an opportunity of inquiring as to the manner in which the money is to be expended. I know that the reply to me will be that information will be given’ when the defence 1 proposals are submitted. In the meantime, I have stated that the passing of this Bill- means the commitment of the people of. Australia to a scheme which will involve, probably, in the course of a few years, the expenditure of millions of’ pounds sterling. It will mean heavy, and in my opinion, undue taxation, on the part of those who, perhaps, are least able to bear it, and in respect of such a scheme,, a few words are not amiss, even at this juncture.
– I agree with the interjections made to Senator Findley, that the Bill does not necessarily commit us to a policv of naval construction, but I frankly admit that, if I thought that the money was not to be used for that purpose, I should not vote for its passing.
– It is for naval defence.
– For naval defence, and ‘also for naval construction. I think that the time is overripe for Australia to commence to build a navy. When we express that opinion, it is preposterous to say that Australia will have a navy which could defend- it against .any power on earth. Nobody has suggested such a thing, but it should be remembered that we are a part of the Empire.
– How else can- we be defended?
– I have always understood that the honorable senator would recognise that we are a part, of .the Empire which has the strongest navy on earth, that in building ships here, we do not propose to cut the painter, but to retain our connexion with the Empire, and that our ships will be part of the -navy of the Empire,’ and carry out that intention, which the British Admiralty have, suggested.
– For whom is the honorable senator speaking when he uses the word “we “ ?
– I am speaking for Australia, as I interpret its opinion. At the Colonial Conference, Lord Tweedmouth said, at page 130- -
Perhaps I might suggest that if the provision of the smaller craft, which are necessarily incident to the work of a great fleet of modern battleships, could be made locally, it would be’ a very great help to the general work of the Navy. You cannot take the small craft, such as torpedo boats and submarines, across the ocean, and for warships to arrive in South Africa or in’ Australia, or in New Zealand or in Canada, and find ready to their hand welltrained men in good vessels of this kind, would be an enormous advantage to them.
– Then , it does not commit us to the construction of battleships ?
– Nobody has proposed such a thing -
It would be an enormous advantage to find ready to their hand men well trained, ready to take a part in the work of the fleet. There is, I think, the further advantage in these small flotillas that they Will -be an admirable means of coast defence; that you will be able bv the use of them to avoid practically all danger from any sudden raid which might be made by a cruising squadron.
That is not a statement by Mr. Deakin, but a statement by the head of the British Admiralty. .
– Do not forget that it followed a suggestion by Mr. Deakin.
– It was a deliberate opinion, and whether it was brought out by a question or suggestion from Mr. Deakin, does not matter. ‘
– It- was an alternative.
– It was the expressed opinion of the head of the British Admiralty that’ a flotilla of torpedo boats, such as was suggested, to our Government by their naval advisers, would be an enormous’ advantage to the British Navy.
– And also an effective coastal defence.
– Yes. 1 do not propose to elaborate that’ question because the time to do so is not ripe. I shall vote for this Bill, because it will ear-mark a sum which, so far as my vote can secure it, will be spent in the building of a local flotilla for the purpose of naval defence. As regards the necessity of spending money in that way, if I held the same views as Senator Findley I should vote against every item of military and naval expenditure which came before the Senate. To be consistent, he must do that. If it is useless to start to spend any money on naval defence, it is equally useless to spend any money on military defence.
– If we had an international policeman, we should not want battleships.
– A little incident in history seems to be rather destructive to the honorable senator’s argument. We are aiming atan ideal civilization in Australia. The honorable senator and I view the matter from a socialistic stand-point, and believe that we are able to set up a socialistic State here which will be very nearly perfect. But we all know that many times in the history of the world races that had attained a high degree of civilization were swept out of existence by barbarians. We know that at one time Peru, in South America, was almost a socialistic State, but when Cortez, the Spanish conqueror, swept down upon the Peruvians, they were without naval or military defence, and, with a few hundred men, the invader was able to wipe out the Peruvians in thousands, to. raze their temples, and to leave their civilization a thing of the past.
– Times have changed since them.
– That is so, but, unfortunately, human nature has not changed. I cannot shut my eyes to the lessons of the past, and I say that Australia, sparsely populated, rich, and undefended, presents a tempting morsel to the people of Eastern nations. We talk about our White Australia legislation, but if it were not for the protection of the British Fleet, that legislation would not be worth the paper on which it is written.
– Because we could not enforce it. If we had not the protection of the British Fleet, fifty Chinese might land at Port Darwin to-morrow, and we could not expel them.
– We manage to shut out Chinese goods by the passing of a Customs Tariff.
– But the force behind the Customs Tariff, as well as behind our White Australia legislation, is the guns of the. British Fleet. It is useless and fanatical to shut our eyes to these plain facts. I intend to vote for the Bill, in the hope that it marks the beginning of an Australian navy.
– I am not too. friendly to this proposal, but my opposition to it is based on grounds other than those which have been put forward by Senator Findley. I think that the money which we can afford to expend for the defence of Australia can be put to a better use than the building up of a navy. ‘ It “should be devoted to the strengthening of our land forces, and we . should continue the Naval Agreement with the Old Country until those, forces have been developed to the fullest possible extent. I. recognise that in the near future it is possible that in Australia we shall decide to develop our defence on lines different from those which are adopted at the present moment. In my opinion, all the money which can be voted by the taxpayers for defence purposes will be required forour land forces, and, for that reason, I agree to the present proposal most reluctantly. It must not be forgotten that the establishment of a navy is a most expensive means of defence.
– If this money were expended in developing the Northern Territory, it would provide a better defence for. Australia than if expended in the establishment of a navy.
– I have said that I should prefer to see it devoted to strengthening of our land forces. We have as efficient a naval defence at the present time as we are likely to have for many years. Nothing would please me better than to establish an Australian navy, if we had sufficient money for the purpose, and if it could not be better spent in some other way. It is because I believe that, for a very long time, we shall not have at our disposal sufficient funds for the establishment of a. navy that I very reluctantly assist on this occasion in the initiation of what I believe will be a source of very great expenditure in the future. I recognise the value of a navy for our defence, but we cannot afford to establish one. The existing Naval Agreement with the Old Country has been in operation now for a good many years, andI think it should be continued until, we are in a position to see much further ahead than we are able to do atpresent. In my opinion, the Government are making a mistake in proposing, in this slipshod way, to deal with a part only of what ought to be a comprehensive defence .scheme. I am afraid they will realize that later on. We cannot spend £250,000. in initiating a navy and get out of the undertaking with that expenditure. This represents merely the beginning of an expenditure which must be very largely increased later on. _
– It will be of no use if it is not.
– Exactly, and the fact that this will lead us into enormous expenditure in the future should be a warning to honorable senators against the initiation of such a policy. Every one, I think, is prepared to admit that- it is possible to arm the whole of the manhood of Australia. That has not yet been done, and until it is done it is, in my opinion, a foolish policy to initiate expenditure which must be increased to an extent which we cannot at present foresee. 1 For the reasons I have given, I very reluctantly agree to the proposal of the Government.
We should like you to continue your money contribution, but, if you are determined to make it in kind instead of in money, we should like it to be in the form of a class of vessels which would be useful to us, but we should require to have complete control of them in time of war.
The control of the vessels in time of war is one of the questions on which the Government are at issue with the Admiralty. Although this vote is proposed for harbor defence, it represents the insertion of the thin end of the wedge, and the intention is to provide for the nucleus of an Australian navy. I am strongly against an Australian navy. We have neither the money nor the men for the purpose.
– We have the men. There are hundreds of them in the Naval Reserve, and we have no ships in which to put them.
– There ‘ is great difficulty in getting men at the present time. I should like the basis of the country’s defence to. be internal development. I believe in developing the country by extending the construction of railways. In my opinion, the internal development of Australia, and the settlement of its unoccupied lands, will prove to be our best defence. It is absurd to suggest that we can establish a navy which could stand against the navies of the world. It should not be forgotten that if we do establish an Australian navy, Great Britain will remove her ships from these waters to the Indian Ocean, where it is anticipated that the centre of operations, . in time of war, will probably be.
– Great Britain has already removed every battle-ship from the China station.
– I think that all have not yet been removed. We. are being asked in this matter to give an earnest of our intention to do something which, I believe, is opposed to the wishes of the Australian people. I am, therefore, against this Bill.
– And against the Imperial Government.
Senator - MACFARLANE. - No, I should like to increase our assistance to the Imperial Government in this direction. I do not say that we ought not to make provision for the defence of our shores by harbor defences, and, perhaps, a small flotilla, but beyond that I am opposed to expenditure for naval defence in Australia.
– I consider that Senator Macfarlane has made a very effective and powerful speech in support of the Bill. The honorable senator has said with much force that we have not the money and we have not the men to defend ourselves. Surely that is a very dreadful position for us to be in in the midst of a world that has been distinguished for its aggressiveness throughout the past. We have not the men or the money, and some honorable senators say that we must not do anything to provide either. This Bill represents an effort on the part of the Government ‘ to get the money and to get the men. I should not take second place, even to Senator Findley, in my abhorrence of war, but it is of no use for us to stand on our 9,000 miles of coast-line, and shout out that we hate war. We detest war, and will do everything in our power to avoid it, but, so far as we are able, we should prepare ourselves to resist aggression.
– “ We don’t want to fight, but- “
– “ But, by jingo, if we do,” we want the ships and we want the men. The whole argument against this Bill has been in support of it. Senator Findley says that what we need to do is to initiate nationally what we have already done socially .in connexion with labour disputes. He says that we want arbitration. Undoubtedly we do, but we have not got it, and it is not within measurable distance to-day. I remind the honorable senator, also, that when we do get it we shall require policemen to enforce it.
– When we got our Arbitration Act, we did not disband our unions.
– -We kept intact, and, in fact, Senator Findley and myself tried to strengthen, the only weapons that we had to rely upon before Arbitration Acts were in force. We cannot enforce the provisions of an Arbitration Act without the policeman, or, as Senator Pearce Says, without the unions. While discussing the necessity of being prepared to do something, we are beating the air in discussing the particular method, because that is a question for future action. If we can agree that we ought to prepare to defend ourselves, then we shall proceed to provide the sinews of war in the shape of means. ,When we have created, not an adequate defence fund, but a trust account by means of which we hope ultimately to have an adequate defence’ fund, we shall be in a position to discuss with wisdom what is the best plan for us to adopt. My opinion is that Australia is fairly free from the danger of invasion, and I do not anticipate that we shall be called upon in my time, or even in my children’s time, to defend ourselves, but that is merely- an opinion which may be right or wrong. The fact is, that nations all over the world are being called upon to defend themselves from day to day, and we may be. The fact that we have not anticipated it, should not be a reason for not being prepared for it. Indeed, all experience teaches us that the best security from aggression is preparedness to resist it. In considering this question, it should not be assumed that every person who says that we should, as we are compelled by our circumstances, make ready to resist invasion, is necessarily anxious for war or fond of war. I believe that the general tendency of the world is to look upon war with abhorrence, and that that will lead in the future - I hope it will be as quickly as. Senator Findley anticipates - to the abolition of war, and whole disarmament. But it can only be done—
– By building ships !
– It can only be done by building ships. The honorable senator has put his .finger upon it. While one man has all the ships, he will not agree to disarmament, but when other fellows have as many ships as he has, he will say, “We had better put these ships away. They are no use to either of us.”
– That is not history.
– It is history’. A strong nation never begins disarmament, or even preaches it. A weak nation pleads for it, while it goes on arming. The end of so long a session is not the time to discuss the whole question. We have had the idea before us for many months ; we knew that such a question would have to be discussed, and now we have our minds made up. I do not think there will or can be. much opposition to deciding that it is wise to take the prudential measure of creating; a fund to be used - if used at all - not necessarily in any particular direction, but in such a way as the circumstances commend to Parliament. .
– I have listened to the several speakersupon this matter, in which I take a great deal of interest. At various times, large sums of money, amounting in all to perhaps a couple of millions, have been spent by the various States in schemes of this sort. They have all ended in so much scrap iron. When we can devote to the purpose of naval defence a sum likely to do any real good, I shall be prepared to vote for it ; but I am not prepared to support the granting of this sum of £250,000 towards the nucleus of a navy, because it will simply be following the old lines on which money has been wasted by various States in the past. ‘ We have a land force, and we cannot raise money to keep it in an efficient state. It is starved. I believe that the best thing that we in Australia can do is to go in for one force, let it be naval or military, and to have that force as. fully equipped as our means will allow..Let us have a good force of its kind. We have an army which is practically starved for want of funds. Every day there are calls for money to be spent upon our Military Force, the men get very little indeed, but we are not prepared to raise money even to put that force into an efficient state. Yet we are asked to tinker with what is called naval defence, And what will a quarter of a million be worth? It is simply a waste of money to devote it to that purpose.. What would it cost the people of Australia to establish an efficient navy, if they were taxed upon the same basis as are the people of Great Britain for the Imperial Navy ? The cost of the Imperial Navy is about 13s. 4d. per head. On that basis, the cost of an efficient navy to the people of Australia would be about £2,750,000.
– The cost of up-keep alone is more like 15s. per head.
– Are we prepared to go into so great an undertaking ?
– We should have to take into consideration also the enormous cost of the battle-ships.
– And year after year, as improvements are made in guns and naval architecture, we shall have to be prepared to spend millions of pounds more to keep them up to date. We had gunboats in Queensland, and I believe in nearly all the States ; but before we had them more than a year or two, they were condemned as obsolete, and were kept only as playthings. I was told by the men on board a boat that was supposed to be used for our coastal defence that, if there was a strong puff of wind at sea, they had to make for the nearest shelter. What sort of defence is that for Australia? When the people of” Australia are willing to submit to taxation in order, to obtain a navy of our own that we will control ourselves, I shall support it. ‘
– This vote is not for a navy.
– It is for the nucleus of a navy, and a very poor navy it will be.
– It is for coastal and harbor defence.
– We have that now to some extent in our fixed defends at the Heads near the various capitals, at Thursday Island, and in the Northern Territory. Senator McGregor. - That is not naval defence.
– It is coastal defence.
– The honorable senator wants as big a navy as Great Britain has. -,’-.’
– I do not. When we . are prepared to tax ourselves on the same basis- as the people of Great Britain, and raise two or three millions a year for naval defence, we -may talk about it; but: to vote small sums like this is simply wasting money. The attempts of the various’ States at this sort of thing have’ all been failures.
– No. It has never been tried.
– The honorable senator cannot point to anything that the States have done in the way of naval defence for themselves that has’ not been a failure. It has also been said that we have not the men. We have the men ; but do we want to drag them into a pettifogging affair of this kind, to the neglect of their, other duties? Would it be wise to keep them on board tinpot gun-boats around the coast and away from other occupations that are more beneficial to the Commonwealth? It would be far better to spend this money on our land force and make one good force with it. ‘
– Let us spend it on the Northern Territory.
– I believe in defence. History will repeat itself in Australia. Although for many years we have been at peace, the present position in Europe does not indicate that we shall have peace much longer. What would happen if a great European war broke out, as some writers have prophesied? Senator. Trenwith stated that it was the nations with weak navies that appealed for disarmament’. That is not borne out by’ the facts, because at the last Hague Conference it was the Government of Great Britain’, which is acknowledged to have a navy equal to any other two in the world, that proposed a scheme for ‘ the restriction of armaments. But a certain nation which has only a small seaboard is striving, by taxing its people to almost intolerable limits, and creating large deficits every year, to build a navy that will be* able to compete with the British. While human nature remains as it is, it will not always be the weakest nation that asks for disarmament. Whenever a weaknation’ thinks it has the men and the money, it ‘wants to build up a navy in order to’, wipe some stronger navy out.’ If ever a war does take place, it will be. from what we.’ see -in trie press of the- Old’ Country and’ here, a war of combinations. ‘There will most. likely’ be three or four ‘nation’s on each; side. . We should .do all we can to arm our own people, at any rate, before that happens. We are’ informed that there is likely to be a combination between France, Russia, and Great Britain, while the Emperor of Germany announced the other day that Austria, Germany, and Italy, which form the Triple Alliance, were tightening the bonds between themselves. I hope that I shall never see that war break out; but the constant strengthening of armaments, both naval and military, that is going on, looks suspicious. If it ever does start, we do not know who will be dragged into it. Would it not be far better for us if we were able to resist invasion ? No fleet that we could possibly secure, with the money that the Government propose to spend, would be able to protect our coast-line. If two or three hostile cruisers came out, they would not go to the. Melbourne or Sydney Heads, or to other places where there .are strong fortifications. They could land at any part of the coast and walk over to our capitals from the land side.’ They can attack us from- a part of Australia that is not defended. That is my argument for having our land forces strengthened and trained to a high degree of efficiency. Of course I know that there are sufficient honorable senators to put this Bill through, and they do not like to hear criticisms directed against the policy which they support. The Government have given us no information as to how they intend to apply this sum - of £250,000, nor do. we know what other sums they propose to spend in :the same direction in future years. In my opinion, before we were asked to vote this money we should have information of a more definite character. But the whole tendency of the Federal Parliament’ has been to rush through proposals for expenditure, and to leave it to the Government’ as -,to how the expenditure should be borne.
– Ministers say, “ Vote this money, and we will tell you afterwards what we are going to do with it.”
– I shall at all times resist the expenditure of money in that fashion. We have during the last twelve months voted large sums of money without Parliament having an idea as to what was to be done with it. We can get no information from the Government. When they have spent the money they come down with a new Bill and tell us that there, is -no use in opposing it because the money asked for -is all spent. I think that it is not the duty of Parliament to .let this Bill go through without obtaining -more information about it. AVe want to know how the money is to be spent, and whether it is intended to apply further sums to make this vote effective. At present we are left in the dark.
– It will eventually mean the spending of millions of money and heavy taxation.
– There is no doubt about that, and the people ought to know to what they are committing themselves.
– This is a new alliancea Findley-Macfarlane-Sayers party.
– Whenever I find’ an honorable senator, no matter to what party he may belong, supporting a policy in which I believe, I shall vote with him. I do not believe that what is now proposed is a proper thing to do. . To .pass the Bill without any satisfactory statement from the Government is an unwarrantable procedure, and I shall vote against the measure.
– I deem it to be my- duty to vote for this Bill. I need scarcely say that my vote is not to be taken as an approval of the special financial policy in accordance with -which the measure has been brought forward. I do not think highly of the ‘financial arrangements lately made by the Government. Nor is my vote to be taken as expressing approval of any particular views regarding the application of the expenditure. But I think that this may be ‘accepted as a somewhat belated recognition of the duties of Australia in regard to defence - not merely the defence of Australia, but the defence of the whole Empire. I feel that it would be most lamentable if to-morrow the English newspapers were able to report that a proposition to lay aside the small sum of £250,000 for’ naval defence had been rejected by the Senate of Australia. It would be calculated to create an evil impression. The people of England are enduring a very heavy expenditure on account of defence, and they are - need we wonder at it - a little bit sore about the hesitancy of Australia to shoulder a fair proportion of the burden. Therefore, for reasons which rise above party considerations and local concerns, I propose to vote for the measure.
– I propose to vote with the Government iri regard to this Bill. The measure has been misrepresented by some of the previous speakers. Every one of us must be aware that at any time friction may arise between Great Britain and some other power, and a declaration of war may ensue. Many of us recollect what occurred some years ago, when it was expected that there would be a fight between Great Britain and Russia. At that time every one of the Australian States went mad in regard to. the necessity for coast and harbor defence.
– They went mad because the newspapers made them mad. They actually said that the Russians were in Hobson’s Bay !
– The States of Australia at that time, not being able to find the necessary money out of revenue, absolutely borrowed money for coast and harbor defence. Now the Federal Government; exercising some foresight, says that it will lay aside out of the surplus for the present year £250,000 to provide against our necessities in the matter of defence.
– And their plan they keep to themselves.
– They do not keep it to themselves. The Government have honestly and fairly told us what they intend. They say, “ We have a surplus, part of which we intend to .devote to defence purposes. We do not intend to spend the money at once, but propose to put it into a trust account, so that it cannot be spent without the consent of Parliament.” When the Government are prepared with their scheme, Parliament will be asked to agree to it, and not a penny can be spent until Parliament has agreed. The plans of the Government in regard to naval defence have been greatly exaggerated by previous speakers. There is no proposal for a navy. What we are told” is that the money is being put aside for “ coastal and harbor defence - naval.” The whole of it may be expended on submarine mines., torpedoes, and forts. If ever we have to defend ourselves - as I hope we shall not - I point out that we cannot depend on the land forces. We must defend our coasts in some way, and it must be recollected that seamen cannot be trained as easily as land forces can be. I remember that when we were sending contingents to South Africa men who had never handled a gun or ridden a horse in their lives were taken into barracks or recruiting stations and turned “out as efficient soldiers in about a fortnight. I have in my mind’s eye a man who went away with a contingent and came back from South Africa a major. He went away a second time, and came back adjutant of a regiment.
-The honorable senator’s argument means that we do not require land forces.
– No; but land forces can be easily trained and mobilized. You cannot, however, take a bushman, put him on board a ship, and expect him to do his duty at the guns or with torpedoes, without a long period of training. He must be trained to the sea. ‘ We have in some of the States naval brigades, the members of which receive only, too little sea training. We have also naval reserves, which do something like a month’s sea training per annum. That is far more satisfactory than the naval brigade system. Then we have a permanent navy composed of a handful of men. I point out that, although Great Britain to-day has the ships and the money, she cannot get the men to man her ships. Not one of the ships of the British Navy is manned even up to the necessary strength for a peace- footing.
– Will the honorable senator tell us the reason for that ?
– Because the conditions are not such as to induce men to join the Navy. -
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was stating that England, although she had plenty of money and ships, found that it was impossible to get the number of men necessary to man the ships, even on a peace footing, and that a short time ago the Admiralty went so far as to recruit in Australian waters for the Imperial Navy, by that means inducing our young men not to join in our own coastal - defence. With that I find no fault. But Senator Findley by interjection wanted to know why England was not able to man her own ships. Prior to- 1848 England had no difficulty in manning her ships, because in those days she had a law which compelled two-thirds of the crew of every British ship to be British subjects, and was continually training for the sea service men who would be available for the navy in time of war. If we had recourse to those old navigation, laws we ‘ should establish the best possible recruiting ground for an Australian navy. I hope to see the day when we shall have a law which will make the mercantile service a recruiting ground for our, .coastal defence. The position is that England by her policy of. trade in shipping has absolutely undermined her naval defence.
– I point out to the honorable senator that he is getting very far from the subject-matter of this Bill.
– It was in reply to an interjection, sir, but I shall not attempt to labour the question, because another opportunity to speak will be pro- vided when the mode of spending the money is submitted for our approval by the Government. At the present time our small naval defence is absolutely starved, and young Australians who wish to follow the sea as a profession are forced into the Imperial Navy. My own experience on the Australian coast is that hundreds of young men who have had’ a little sea training cannot be admitted into the Naval Force of Australia, and are, therefore, joining the Imperial Navy. Only last week when I returned home I had to give recommendations to a number who wereanxious to join the Psyche, the recruiting ship of the Imperial Navy on our coast.
– Senator Sayers says that we have not many men.
– We have the men and they are anxious to go to sea ; but they are going into the Imperial Navy instead of joining our coastal defence. I hope that whatever the Government do in this matter will be done quickly so as to utilize the services of those young men for the protection of Australia.
– I think that while one may be opposed to the Bill, it is hardly fair to misrepresent its provisions. To a very great extent that has been done by two or three of its opponents here. They have said, “ We object to vote money for a1 scheme of which we know nothing.” They arenot asked to vote a solitary penny which can be spent by the Government, but to reserve the money so that when Parliament decides what the coastal defence shall be it will be available for that purpose. Senator Sayers travelled over a lot of ground. He told us practically that we are loafing on the English people, who are taxed to the extent of 13s. 6d. per head per annum for the defence of the Empire, including . Australia, and asked how we could expect them with their deficits year after year to continue to do that sort of thing. That statement is not according to fact.’ During the last’ nineteen years there have only been six years when they had a deficit, and in five cases it occurred at a time when there was a war in South Africa. The national debt has been decreased year by . year except when they were raising money in connexion with that war. During the last ‘ four years it hasbeen decreased by £23,000,000 or £24,000,000 out of surplus- revenue.
– It was decreased by £18,000,000 last year alone.
– I am very glad to hear that the national debt of the Old Country was decreased by so much in that year. I believe that the authorities have remitted taxation on two or three items, and expect to close the financial year with a fair surplus. When honorable senators make such statements I do not know on what level they put the intelligence of the average Australian, who is usually sufficiently well informed to know what is going on in other parts of the world. Senator Sayers also said, “ We shall not want anything in connexion with coastal defence unless it be forts and men to man them. Spend all the money on the military defence of the States and we shall be alf right.” He also told us that we have so many thousand miles of coast-line which is not defended, and on which people could land for the purpose of marching overland to get at our weak points. That is about the most comic statement I have heard for a long time. It was looked upon as something heroic -when a very small number of men started’ to cross this continent, but what would be thought of people who came in hundreds of thousands to the northern coast of Australia with the idea of marching overland to Melbourne or Sydney or Adelaide ?
Senator -de Largie.. - We should have, them all right.
– Yes; we could sit here quite comfortably and feel perfectly satisfied that they would all. disappear before they got anywhere near their destination.
– To what part of Australia is the honorable senator referring?
– To any part. From what point could an enemy march upon the settled parts? “ Spend the money in the north,” said Senator Sayers, “ it wants defending,” as if people could walk overland to Sydney or Melbourne. Really if would make a good subject for a sketch by a comic artist.
– Is Port Darwin the only place where an enemy could land?
– No. . There is a number of places, but does any. one think that thousands of people with their baggage, water, and provisions could walk overland to Melbourne or Sydney? I do not suggest that the honorable senator has said that they could, but Senator Sayers gave us to understand’ that that is what people would do. Although it was only a trip of fourteen or fifteen days, it taxed all the resources of the British mercantile marine to ship . 200,000 or 250,000 men to South Africa. ‘ Senator Guthrie. - And they had to charter German vessels to carry out’ the undertaking.
– Although that had the biggest mercantile marine in the world.
– Yes. The fact that they were able to ship so many people in the time commanded the admiration of the world. Yet .we are told that an enemy might land in the Northern Territory or North Queensland, tramp overland, and take Sydney and Melbourne. To me the thing is preposterous. .It is not right that such an idea should be suggested to ‘ the people, who, I hope, are better informed on these matters than ‘are some honorable senators.
– If that cannot take place, is it not an argument against excessive naval expenditure?
– No; it is not an argument against, coastal .and harbor .defence. The honorable senator said that we were going to build Dreadnoughts and to spend £40,000,000 here and’ something else there’. I know that this Bill will lead to increased expenditure, but does he want iis to continue to “ loaf “ on a little island at the other end of the world? I do not think ‘so. He voted for similar expenditure because it -was for an internal object’, and the whole purpose of this expenditure is’ to prevent any nation from giving us . such an almighty scare -as we got in the eighties, when every Parliament in Australia was tumbling over itself to spend money, fit up every little mud barge and send it down to the mouth of the river or harbor. I have always been opposed to the payment of a naval tribute to another country. I was not “a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly when it was first proposed, but on the platform I opposed the proposal and I know that in’ this Parliament men have ‘ said ‘ that they would not have ‘ been .’prepared to .vote for the .payment of .a naval contribution to England had not an agreement been pre,viously made by the. Prime Minister. That is, I think, the opinion of Australia today. The people do not want , us to say to any ‘other- country, “ We will pay you £.200,000 a. year for our defence and do nothing for ourselves.” . That is, I think, a mean way of acting. I have always been in favour of Australia spending what-, ever money it can spare on its defence without trying to live’ on other people. 5t seems to me that in passing this Bill we shall be doing something which will be in consonance with public opinion. I do not think that the position could be put. more fairly than it was put by Mr. Deakin to °the ‘Colonial. Conference last year. He said -
In Australia, for reasons which have already been put on record in the despatch which I had, the honour of addressing to the Admiralty about two. years ago, the existing contribution has not proved generally popular. It was passed because -it was felt that some distinct recognition of our responsibility for the defence of our own country and the Empire ,of which it was a part was necessary, and, although , it did “not take the form which commended .itself most - to the large minority, possibly, even . a majority of the electors, we accepted that mode of co-operation until some better presented itself. Further consideration has convinced the public that the present agree”ment :is not satisfactory either to the Admiralty, the political- or professional Lords of the- Admiralty, or to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. In your case, you find yourselves, to a certain, degree, shackled even by the very general restriction as to the station of the fleet which is . imposed by the present agreement. Originally, under the agreement of 1887, the Australian fleet was limited to Australian waters. When that agreement expired another agreement was entered into by which a fleet or squadron of increased strength was provided, and its sphere of action enlarged to the China and Indian seas. As a’ consequence, it appeared to many in Australia that the local protection, which was its primary condition, was so far departed from that it had practically ceased to exist.
That, in a few words, is the opinion of the big majority of the people of Australia today. There would be no trouble in getting the agreement waived. .Many say that it was a very good thing to enter into the agreement, but I do not think sol because it induced many of our. people to. think that we need not trouble about looking, after ourselves, since Great Britain with her big Navy would take care that no one attacked us’. It is all very well for the big brother to look after the little brother, but when the little fellow grows up, it is about time that he took some action to protect himself. At the Conference, after considerable discussion of the question, Lord Tweedmouth, who was then at the head of the Admiralty, showed that the Imperial authorities would be quite prepared to waive the agreement, provided that something was put in its place. He said -
If Australia makes up its mind to start something in the way of a local defence force, we are quite ready to give all the’ assistance we can to it. If N.ew Zealand wishes to go on with the subsidy, again we are quite ready to arrange for that, or equally willing, if they prefer to go in for a submarine flotilla, to help in that. The same with Tegard to the Cape; we are quite ready to meet their wishes. If they in South” Africa wish to try a submarine flotilla we are quite ready to help. Also, in the meantime, I think we should he quite ready to try to arrange for a training ship for the naval volunteers, and so forth.
The Imperial authorities are quite willing to waive the agreement provided that the outlying States give some evidence of a determination to do something for themselves. They do not desire a contribution of £200,000 per annum from Australia, and yet some honorable senators who object to our doing anything to help ourselves are willing that we should continue to pay this amount towards the British Navy. A money contribution is not what the Imperial authorities want at all- What they desire is to be able in time of need to look to. Australia for men, docks, coaling stations, a supply of ammunition and munitions of war, and provisions for their fleets. The Government now propose that w.e should give some evidence of sincerity by initiating a scheme of naval defence.
– Where is the initiation of this scheme going to landus ?
– Where is the ini’tiation of the old-age and invalid pensions scheme going to land us? Yet the honorable senator was strongly in favour of that proposal, and, in common with other honorable senators, isprepared, to assist in raising a great deal more money to carrv it out.
– That is for the preservation of life.
– A scheme of defence is equally a scheme for the preservation of life. I do not say that this kind of expenditure will not increase in Australia. With an increased population and increased wealth, we may have to raise a very iarge amount, of money to meet that expenditure.
– Through the Customs ?
– No ; not necessarily through the Customs. We are raising money at the present time through the Customs, but there is nothing to prevent us raising it in some other way. As an evidence, of the feeling that is growing inparts of the Empire other than Great Britain, I quote the following resolution, which was moved by Dr. Smart, a representative of Cape Colony, at the Conference -
That this Conference, recognising the vast importance of the services rendered by the Navy to the defence of the Empire and theprotection of its trade, and the paramount importance of continuing to maintain the Navy in the highest possible state of efficiency, considers it to be the duty of the Dominions beyond the Seas to make such contribution towards the upkeep of the Navyas may be determined by their local legislature - the contribution to take the form of a grant of money, the establishment of local naval defence, or such other services in such manner as may be decided upon after consultation with the Admiralty, and as would best accord with their varying circumstances.
That shows the growth of public opinion outside GreatBritain. The Imperial authorities do not want an agreement by which they can draw upon outlying portions of the Empire. for £200,000, or for £1,000,000 a year, but they do desire to induce the people of those outlying portions to give some evidence of an intention, at least, to partially defend themselves.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the expenditure df £[250,000 in settling and developing Australia would give a better result than its expenditure on the construction of a few ships?
– Let me remind the honorable senator that the Chinese spent a vast amount of money in developing a portion of their country, and when a war was carried on there, more damage was done, and more of the results of that development were wiped out in two or three months than could be replaced bv all the efforts of the people in the direction of development in twenty vears. It would be of very little use to spend money in the development of the country if, after we had done so, any force might comealong and say : “ You have done very good work during the last fifteen or twenty years in the development of this country. We are much obligedto you, aswe intend to take it from you.” In such a case, Senator Findley is prepared to rely upon the big brother to help him.
– The honorable senator’s “argument is that the larger the population the weaker the defence.
– No. The larger the population the greater the means of -defence. With a larger population, we should have an increased development of wealth, and should be able to raise money to place every man in Australia in a position to defend the country. Every country that desires to be protected must find the necessary money for the purpose. That is what we are being asked to do now. We are being asked by the Government to put £256,060 into a fund for the defence of Australia. We are not going to spend it because no definite scheme has been placed before us for that’ purpose. But when the Government come before us with a definite scheme, if we are satisfied that it is the best we can adopt, we shall be asked to apply this money that is now being set aside to give effect to the scheme of which we have approved. We might have handed this money back to the States, as we should have done, but for the passing of the Surplus Revenue Bill, or we might spend it in many other ways. But it is proposed that we shall set it aside that we may have something behind us with which to give effect to a scheme of defence which the Government will be able to submit to us, probably next year. .
– I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and I hope that it will become law. It is the duty of every selfrespecting pe’ople who have any regard for their “liberty or well-being, to take effective steps to secure that liberty, and insure that their well-being shall not be interfered with by any aggressor. Holding that view, I think that it is the duty of Australia, having now arrived at what may be said to be years of discretion, to take steps for her own defence, instead of continually loafing, as Senator Turley described it, upon the Mother Country, for protection. I suppose we all desire that we should never see this country engaged in war. But we. know !that it might happen, as it has happened before, that the Mother Country to which, wi: belong, might be engaged in a life and death struggle with one or more of the powers of Europe. What would be our duty in such a case ? Would it be our duty when the Old Country was engaged in such a struggle to ask her not only to safeguard and defend her own shores, but to safeguard and defend the shores of Aus tralia as well. Such an attitude on the part of Australia would be absolutely contemptible.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that some third power would, in such a’ case, invade Australia?
– I say that it is quite possible that in such a case the powers engaged in the struggle with the Old Country might rig out two or three vessels for the purpose of raiding the coast towns of Australia. That would not only be possible, but highly probable”. Of course, Senator Findley, as we know, is entirely opposed to all war. He believes that the time of. universal brotherhood- and the harmony of man has already arrived, and that we need, do nothing in the way of self-defence, but can rely upon that universal feeling of brotherhood to insure a continuance of the peace we all desire. I can imagine that, in the event of a hostile attack upon Australia by some aggressor, .Senator Findley would mount one of .the head-lands of this continent, and, holding out his right arm, preach the doctrine of universal harmony, and the brotherhood of man, in the hope that that would induce the invaders not to land.
– That is all very fine and large, but I do not say anything of the ‘ kind.
– That’ is exactly . what the honorable senator does say. He has said that a feeling is growing all over the world in favour of national arbitration, but national arbitration is not worth a straw unless. you have a sufficient force behind it to enforce its award. How do we enforce the awards of Courts of Arbitration in our own community.
– In a peaceful way.
– No decision of our Courts would be worth a straw if there was not force at the back of it to enforce it.
– You do not find a rifle behind it.
– Indeed you do. Because we have a civilized way of doing things now, people seem to regard force as non-existent. When one party in the State is dissatisfied with the Government, instead of having a revolution, we count noses by means of a general election to see which is the stronger party. We calculate the force, and govern the country accordingly ; but force is behind all go- vernment.
– We count heads, instead of breaking them.
– That is .exactly what we do. We have a very large coastal and oversea commerce, although we are a small country. The only means of trade communication between large portions of Australia is by sea. All North Queensland and all Western Australia - two large and important portions of the. Commonwealth - are completely isolated from the other portions for purposes of trade or commerce except by sea. Melbourne and Sydney are absolutely isolated for purposes of commerce except by sea, because a single line of rails is too expensive and cumbersome to afford an efficient channel of InterState trade and commerce. We are compelled by our insular position to do a large oversea trade. That trade amounts to a great deal, and it would be a very tempting morsel for a foreign cruiser in time of war to raid all the vessels engaged in it. To cripple or destroy our InterState commerce would be the most successful way for a raiding cruiser to bring us to terms.
– That position is almost unthinkable, because trading businesses are so involved now between every nation in the world.
– And yet there are wars and rumours of wars all the time. The honorable senator is like the ostrich, who hides his head in the sand and thinks that the rest of his body is invisible. He blinds himself to the fact that nations are just as fond of being aggressive to-day as they were at any period of -history.
– Some people are,but not the bulk.
– I do not think that’ sneer can be applied to me, to the party to which I belong, or to the members of this Parliament, because defence does’ not mean war. If it does mean war, then a war of defence is a holy war, in which” every citizen should be proud to engage. ..
– No war is a holy war.
– A person who can make such a statement is not .to be argued with.
– Wars are. opposed to Christianity, and to the commandment-. “ Thou shalt do no murder.”
– Am I to allow myself to be killed? If a savage nation attacked us, as the barbarians attacked ancient Rome, should I allow those savages to bayonet my children before my eyes before I attempted to kill them? I refuse to subscribe to such a doctrine.
– The honorable senator is supposed to help on the peace movement throughout the world.
-The way to do it is to insure that we shall be so formidable that no outside person will dare attack us, and that we shall never be aggressors ourselves. My- vote will never be cast in favour pf our acting the aggressor towards anybody. It is all very fine to preach the doctrine of universal humanity and the brotherhood of man, but, .until such time as other nations are prepared to adopt that policy, and leave us alone in our peaceful development, we must be ready to defend ourselves.
– The Labour Party in every country are preaching the doctrine of the brotherhood of man.
– They will continue to preach it. I am preaching it now. .i do not want to fight anybody. T want the people of Australia to be in a position to defend themselves against a foreign aggressor, instead of having to stand up un- . armed and defenceless to be mown into the grave wholesale. There is a possibility that we may have to maintain our existing : Constitution, our present form of government, and the rights, privileges, ..property, and prosperity that we have built up in Australia, before many years are over. I hope not, but the possibility is there. Many of . the Asiatic nations regard some of our legislation as a distinct slap in the face to them, and have said so. . The Japanese have been very much inclined to resent our White Australia legislation.
– What sort of restrictive legislation do they pass with regard to foreigners in their country ?
– Although they pans far more restrictive legislation with regard to Europeans going to their country, the fact remains that those nations consider that we have given them- a slap in. the face, and, . were it not for the fact that we have the might of Great Britain behind us, we would possibly have had to resist a war of aggression before now. I want Australia to be in a position to offer effective resistance to any outside aggression that she may have to meet in the years to come, without having to loaf on the’ Mother Country for it. It is said that the amount asked for in this Bill is very small, and that anything we may be able to do in the way of naval defence will not amount to much. That is quite true, but it is a beginning. The child, when first born, is a very small lump of humanity, but he often grows to be a big and powerful man, of some size in his country, and able to do a great deal of good. We have to begin somewhere.
– By that line of reasoning, does the honorable senator hope to build up a big navy ?
– I hope that we shall build up a big and effective navy here, so that, as the Commonwealth grows,’ we shall be. able to hold our own with any nation in the world. We are only, at the beginning yet. We have not quite 5,000,600 people in Australia, but in another half-century I should not be surprised if we had 20,000,000. Little countries, with no greater resources than our own, with no more white inhabitants than we have, have done a great deal in that direction already. Look at what the South American Republics have done. .
– -They have brought about peace ! ‘
– It was the only way in which they could maintain their independence. I could have peace with all men - at a price* I could have peace with a raging lion if I allowed him to swallow me, but the lion would be lord of the situation, and I should be at peace inside. That is just the way in which Senator Findley would have Australia swallowed up by an Asiatic power. What would be the good of .hisWhite. Australia policy, or of the Old-age Pensions Bill that we were .all so proud and pleased to pass, if Australia were collared by the Japanese or Chinese ?
– The honorable senator has the jingo fever now.
– What would be the good of all the progressive legislation that we have passed? It would be all wiped out in one act. I wish to show that Australia is not the poor, small, weakly country, that Senator Findley wants to make out. I am- not afraid of a big expenditure on defence. We can afford it if the right shoulders are made to bear it. I find, from the Commonwealth Y ear-Book recently is- sued by our statistician, that, in 1906; our total wealth production was no less than £147,043,000 - that was for the one year alone. It would not- break Australia, if she gave £7,000,000 of that to her defence. We could fairly live then on the other £140,000,000, if it was properly distributed.’ A defence scheme such as we are now considering is nothing more nor less than an insurance fund - an insurance to safeguard the life, liberty, and property of every- person in the Commonwealth. It will insure that we shall not be attacked, our property confiscated, our lives sacrificed; and our liberties annulled, by any foreign aggressor. It is an unanswerable position to take up, that if the. men of Australia give their manhood to the defence of the Commonwealth, to meet the aggressor in the field, it is the duty of property to maintain that manhood in the field and bear the cost of the war. After all,’ who has the most to lose if Australia is conquered by an aggressor, and our commerce assailed by raiding cruisers? It is the people who own that property. Their property would be lost to them for ever. If we were conquered, all their title-deeds to property would be worth nothing.
– What would our title-deeds to liberty be worth? To the honorable senator, property comes before liberty.
– I never heard a more unfair statement in my life. The honorable senator has been outside the chamber ; he comes .in after I have dealt with the very point that he is raising, and wants me to go over it all again. I refuse to do so. We should not look upon the cost of defence as anything but the payment of an insurance premium. Taking the Value of private property in .Australia at its proper figure, as given by State Statisticians, an . insurance fee to provide an efficient defence scheme for Australia would not be exceptionally high. In some portions of the’ Commonwealth, people are prepared to pay as much as 3 per cent, per annum for insurance against fire, and- very high insurance fees against the loss of vessels. It . would not take anything like an insurance fee of that kind to provide an . excellent scheme of defence in . full working order for the Commonwealth. Mr. Coghlan, in his Statistical Account of Australia and New Zealand, ‘for the last year for which his book was issued, gives the value of private property in Australia. I searched for this information in the Commonwealth * Year-Book* recently, published by the Commonwealth Statistician, but was ‘unable to find anything of the kind. That is a grave and serious omission from that work. Mr. Coghlan, on page 513 of his book, states that the value of private property in the Commonwealth, in land and improvements; amounted, in 1903, to £683,944,000. I should say that at the lowest computation that value had now increased to at least £700,000,000. That is to say, there has, I should think, been an increase of a little over £16,000,000 since the year 1903-4. An. insurance premium of per cent. - 10s. per cent, per annum - on that would amount to no less than £3,500,000 per annum. I maintain that that would not be an excessive premium, viewed as a business transaction, for the propertied classes to pay for the insurance of their property. Taking the total value of private property, I find from the same authority that in the same year it represented, no less than £1,000,000,000. If we add that sum to the value of Government properties it will be increased by at least another £500,000,000, making a total of £1,500,000,000 as the value of the property of Australia. But leaving the Government property out of consideration, and dealing only with the £1,000,000,000, a payment of per cent, per annum, for purposes of defence would yield no. less than £2,500,000 per annum.
– The honorable senator is not now discussing the Bill, but the way in which money should be raised for defence purposes.
– I respectfully submit that the question has been raised by previous speakers.
– It’ has ‘been referred to incidentally, but no honorable senator has attempted to elaborate a scheme by means of which revenue for a large outlay could - be provided. I ask the honorable senator not to attempt to do that at the present ‘stage, because the Bill is one to provide for putting apart a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue for a particular purpose. I ask him to reserve his views on the raising of revenue for a more fitting occasion.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, although it is’ unfortunate, as I had reached the most interesting part of my argument. However, I ‘ have . said enough to indicate the way in which, without undue taxation, ‘sufficient money could be raised to provide a ‘thoroughly effective system of defence for Australia. Undoubted! v the’ people who own the property of Australia are those who ought to bear the burden. The manhood of Australia will be. sufficiently taxed in finding the men who will have, if necessary, to risk their lives for the defence of the country.
– We are taxing the men who will have to do the fighting as well as those who own’ the property.
– The amount which we are now putting aside as a nucleus is scarcely worth talking about. We have been, spending over £750,000 per annum on defence. It has been practically useless expenditure. Why did not Senator Findley object to that ? We have, to make a beginning somewhere. I .’hope that, this may be the beginning of an effective scheme by which Australia will be able to defend herself, not only, effectually, but in a self-respecting way, without loafing upon any other country. It is true that we form portion of a great Empire. Our duty to that Empire requires us to look after our own defence. Indirectly we rely upon the might of that Empire to defend us. But we must do something on our own account. There is just one other point upon which I wish to lay emphasis. Some honorable senators appear to think that so long as’ we have an effective land force we have nothing to fear. But’ Australia is situated in a very peculiar position. -It is the only country in the world which embraces a whole continent. No foreign aggressor can- land in Australia . without coming oversea. Our land is absolutely free, and must ever remain free from foreign aggression by land. Therefore, our first line of defence must necessarily be by sea. For that reason, instead of starving the naval side of our defence scheme, and increasing the efficiency of the land forces, I should be inclined to do the reverse, and give the lion’s share to naval defence. It is more important to keep the enemy out of Australia than to beat him if he comes here. An enemy could not land in any part of Australia without doing irreparable damage to our people and property. If we keep him outwe escape that loss entirely. If an enemy should ever land, I ‘ hope “that . our land forces will be effective enough to give a good account of themselves, so that no other enemy will ever dare to assail us. For these reasons -I give my whole-hearted support, not only to the. Bill itself, but to the principle embodied in it. I hope to see Australia adopting a self-respecting method of providing for her defence, and I shall give my hearty’ support to any scheme which has that for its object.
– I do not think that this is the time to discuss the details of any general defence scheme, nor do I feel myself prepared to do so. But I am going to vote for the second reading of this Bill, because of the’ moral effect it will have, and also because it will be an indication to the Commonwealth and to the world outside that Australia does intend to do something for her own defence. This Bill will be an intimation that we are determined not to be dependent altogether upon outside aid. At the same time, I wish to point out that in voting to put £250,000 into a trust fund for this purpose we are not bv any means losing our grip upon the money. Not one penny of it can be spent until the details of the expenditure are approved by Parliament. I am glad of that, because the developments in armament at the present day are so rapid that it is impossible to say what may be the best form of defence six or twelve months ahead.
– Every other nation is at that disadvantage as well as we are.
– I admit (hat. But even to-day it is said that a new machine has been invented that is capable of throwing a shell 300 miles. We’ shall have to consider very carefully what we are going to do with this money, and how best to utilize it when the time comes. The developments of invention are so rapid that we are unable to say to-day what may be the best way of spending the money. I support the Bill as an indication to the world generally that we are not going to sit idly by and’ depend upon others for our defence. We are not’ in any way committed to the expenditure of one penny of this money upon any particular scheme.Nothing definite will be done until a plan is submitted .for our approval. When that time comes I shall be prepared to give it every consideration, with a view of voting either for or against it or of proposing something in its place.
– In these closing moments of a very protracted session, I desire to reiterate my unqualified adherence to the principle of tie citizen defence of Australia, both on military and naval lines. I am aware that we are precluded from discussing the details of a defence scheme. It is not necessary to do so. But I welcome the Bill for similar reasons to those which have been advanced by Senator
Vardon - that it will be a guarantee to the people of Australia that we are really in earnest in our desire to establish a proper system of national defence. I hope ti. at when the news goes to Great Britain that this Bill has been passed by the national Parliament of Australia, and that we have put to a trust account a sum of rnoney which will be the nucleus of a fund for the defence of Australia, it will be the means of impressing upon the minds of the Imperial authorities that we are in earnest, and that the time is ripe for them to consider our request, and our desire to terminate the present conditions of defence. An honorable senator has spoken strongly against the establishment of a system of national defence. A moment or two later, by medium of an interjection, he said that the money could be better spent on the development of the resources of Australia. At the present time, according to the report of the military experts for 1906, our oversea commerce amounts to something like £170,000,000. He is anxious, and wisely so, to increase that volume of oversea trade; but he is not prepared to defend it. We leave ourselves open to attack, not only from an internal source, but also from an external source, and viewing his contention from that stand-point alone, if from no other, I consider that he is advocating, practically, a suicidal policy. It should also be remembered that we live under the freest Constitution ‘ that exists at present. As free citizens of a free nation, I contend that it is our imperative duty to defend the rights and privileges therein granted to us. I consider that, as a citizen of Australia, it is ray duty to support this Bill, and also a scheme for defending the rights and privileges which I enjoy. We live in a country which is rich in natural resources, but sparsely populated, the population being, located almost wholly on the coast of this vast continent, and we certainly attract attention of greedy Powers. Living, as we do, within a few days’ sail of countries populated by millions of coloured people, we know not the moment when the flood gates may be opened, and we may be inundated by an influx of those people, armed with the latest modern weapons in order to take our territory, and rob us of the privileges and rights which we enjoy. Surely they are worth defending. Day by day, in this national Parliament’ of Australia, we pass legislation, which has for its object the improvement of the condi- tions of the populace, and, unless we take effective means to back up and protect that legislation, we shall simply leave ourselves open to be robbed of its effects by the very people at whom we are aiming. I believe that, by the passing of this Bill, it will be made patent to the British Admiralty that we are desirous of terminating, and terminating speedily, the obnoxious Naval Agreement.
– Nonsense ! Why csl I it “ obnoxious “ ?
– That does not follow.
– It only intimates that we are going to do our own little share.
– It indicates our intention to wipe out the Naval Agreement.
– <lt does not- indicate anything of the kind.
– lt is remarkable, sir, that every time the words “Naval Agreement” are .mentioned, they are met with a storm of dissent.
– No; the term “obnoxious.”
– To my mind, it is an obnoxious Naval Agreement.
– That is my personal opinion.
– Order. I would point out to the honorable senator that it is irregular to apply an epithet of that kind to anything done by Parliament, unless on a motion for its rescission or repeal. Therefore, he is not in order in the present debate in applying the term “ obnoxious “- to the Naval Agreement. Of course, he may have his Own opinion on the subject, but it cannot be expressed now.
– If the term “obnoxious” is disagreeable, and out of order, I withdraw it. To my mind, the Naval Agreement is not a profitable undertaking. From the proceedings at the Colonial Conference I infer that the Lords of the Admiralty simply want an expression, of opinion from this Parliament, and a guarantee of our earnestness as to defence, and our desire to devote the annual contribution of £200,000. to a system of defence, in order to bring about the termination of the Naval Agreement. T consider that bv promulgating an effective system of defence, both naval and military, we shall be practical!” carrying out our fiscal policy. because it will certainly cive a fillip to the iron industry. We have the iron ore wherewith n* build a navy ; along our coast we have natural vantage points, where we can build ships, both naval and mercantile, and I arn certainly surprised that any protectionist senator should oppose a. system of defence, if for no other reason than tEat it would give a fillip to the development of our natural resources. Again, as **Senator Givens has very effectively pointed out, it is simply a system of insurance. Every individual, who has the slightest idea of thrift, endeavours to make provision for a day when, by sickness, or death, or fire, he, or those dependent . on him, may be placed in a very unenviable position. By the payment of premiums 10 insurance companies, or otherwise, he desires to make provision for the day of emergency. I regard a system of defence as another way of insuring our lives, our liberties, and our properties, against an invader-. What would the opponents of a system of defence do if, to-morrow, we were invaded bv the fleet of Japan, or Germany, or any other .power, which has greedy eyes on this continent? Would they not feel it their duty to respond immediately to the call, to repel the invaders? Where would their laudable ideas of peace, or, as it has been called, eternal peace, be then ? Would they not feel honorably and conscientiously bound to assist in repelling such an invasion ? I believe that they would. But what a very sorry show they would make in attempting to repel an invasion, unless they were prepared for the work ! The only proper way is, I think, to oe prepared for war, for that is the best method of preserving peace. I give an unqualified support to a system of national defence, and to a Bill which will be the means of setting aside for that purpose a sum, no matter how small it may be, and which will be ?j guarantee, not only to Great Britain, but also to the nations of the world, that we, in Australia, have stopped ‘talking about our desire to be self-reliant, and are nowgoing to give a proof of our determination not to depend upon England, or chance, or anything else, but upon our own manhood and resources, as a self-reliant nation.
.- - 1” take it that this is a Bill to give effect to a proposition which has received the approval of the Senate this session. It has been decided that a sum, estimated to reach £472,000, shall be kept back for certain purposes from the revenue generally returned to the States at this particular time. Those purposes, seem to me to , have already been affirmed here. Of that sum, it is proposed to pay £250,000 towards a fund to provide for a future scheme of coastal and harbor defence. An undertaking has, I understand, been given elsewhere, and, I think here, that the scheme will be brought before Parliament, and that Parliament will have an opportunity, of dealing with it before any money is expended. On. that ground, I feel justified in supporting the Bill. At the same time, I should feel very loath to oppose any Bill providing for any scheme of defence for Australia, in its present notoriously unprotected condition. One would take a great responsibility in offering opposition to any expenditure, justifiably proposed, for its defence. At the same time, I would not like to associate myself with some of the views held by those who are supporting this Bill, in regard to either the Naval Agreement, or to Australia’s share in that defence, to which, I think,
We should all contribute. Australia has her own local interests and commerce to protect. It has also to protect an extraordinary amount of foreign commerce, our exports of Australian produce reaching last year over £66,000,000. If Senator Turley thinks, that we ought no longer to ‘ loaf . on a little island at the other end’ of the world,” he surely must recognise that one part of our obligation is to defend, as far as our proportion is concerned, the enormous export of Australian products outside territorial waters.
– Tasmania parted with the only torpedo boat that it had.
– Our State Government - very ridiculously it seems to me - at all times undertook the impossible task of attempting to maintain a defence scheme. . That has always seemed to me to be clearly a national question for Australia to take up. It was one of those questions which I considered should be rightly handed over to the Federation to deal with.
– What benefit are we deriving from the £200,000 a year, which we pay?
– I do not care whether we derive any substantial benefit from it or not. I regard it as the payment of a debt, due to Great Britain for protecting, hot only her commerce, butours as well. But, I think, that it would not be right to open up a discussion on thatques- tion now. I believe that sufficient justification is found in the fact that Australia is going to recognise the obligation resting upon her, and that it is right, in her own interests, to defend her shores to the best of her ability. This is a first instalment, and as the scheme has yet’ to be submitted and approved by Parliament, I feel justified in supporting the second reading of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Appropriation Bill being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will be aware that, under the terms of paragraph d, sub-clause 4, of clause 4, of the Surplus Revenue Bill, all payments to trust accounts established under the Audit Acts 1901-1906, of moneys appropriated by law for any purpose of the Commonwealth are to be deemed to be expenditure. The object of the Bill now before the Senate is to appropriate by law a sum of £750,000. A trust account is to be established, and moneys to the extent of £750,000 are to be placed to the credit of that account. First of all, it is anticipated that there will be a surplus from the month of June amounting, approximately, to £222,000, and that surplus, whether more or less, will be put to the credit of the account ; and it is hoped’ that the balance of the £7 50,000 will be made up during the next financial year. The object of the Bill is to appropriate the amount in order that we may be ready to meet the necessary payments on the 1st July, 1909, when the Old-age Pensions Bill comes into operation.
. -Iwishto point out to honorable senators that whilst it . is proposed to appropriate £750,000 for this purpose, it does not by any means follow that the money will pass from the Consolidated Revenue Fund into the trust fund. I assume, of course, that honorable senators did pay some little attention to the details of the Surplus Revenue Bill when it was before them, and they will remember that it contained a clause giving the Governor-General power by warrant to authorize the payment from the Consolidated Revenue to the trust fund of various sums of money. I take it that, if this Bill is passed, before any moneys can be transferred to the trust fund, the Governor-General’s warrant specifying the amount to be transferred, will have to issue, and necessarily,’ the amount will not exceed’ the amount of the surplus revenue available. It will, therefore be seen that it is anticipated that the maximum sum that will be available for this purpose up to 1st July of next year to meet the payment . of old-age pensions, will not exceed £750,000.
– We can bring in another Bill.
– Evidently the honorable senator does not yet understand the position. Another Bill will not help us if there is no money which we can appropriate. It is clear that if the Government anticipated that there would be any more than £750,000 available,- they would take power in this Bill to appropriate it. It is a reasonable inference, if I understand this Government at all, that in putting the amount at £750,060 in this Bill, they leave themselves an ample margin. I commend these figures to honorable senators who took some exception to my statement yesterday as to how we should be likely to stand financially with regard to old-age pensions on the 1st July next year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Appropriation of £750,000 for invalid and old-age pensions).
– As I am not quite familiar with the management of the trust funds that, have been referred to, I should like the. Minister to say whether this amount will be laid aside, or whether it will bear interest ?
– These funds are, of course, deposited in banks, and otherwise, put out as productively as possible.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to. .
Bill reported without amendment : report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators have had the Bill in their possession for some days, and it is well within their knowledge, and that of honorable members in another place, that it was intended, during the session, to introduce a measure of this character. The object is to protect the printing and publication of certain parliamentary documents. I might say, at the outset, that for. the purpose of. printing and distribution amongst members -themselves of all papers that it may be necessary they should have for the proper discharge of their parliamentary duties - no Bill of this kind is required. But for the publication beyond members of Parliament of such papers, a measure of the kind is necessary. That this is so, was discovered at the end of the “ thirties,” or the beginning of the “ forties “ of the last century, in the celebrated case known as Stockdale v. Hansard. In that case, action was taken against .persons who had published documents ordered to be printed by the House of Commons for its own purposes. The publishers of those documents published them beyond members of the House of Commons, and they were sued by persons who considered that they had been defamed by the publication of certain information which the documents contained In the action, the publishers pleaded that the matter was only matter printed by order of the House of Commons; but the Courts, held that that was no defence to an action for publication outside and beyond Parliament. As a consequence, a Bill was introduced, and became a Statute of the Imperial Parliament,- known as 3 and 4 Vic, chapter 9. The object of that Statute was to protect the publication abroad in good faith of any such document or portion of any such document. So far as regards the procedure laid down by that Statute, it provides that when any person publishes outside a paper printed on the authority of either House of Parliament, or any portion of it, provided he does so in good faith, that is to say, without malice, and on the terms and conditions laid down in the law, he may plead that in justification of his publication. In order that it might not be necessary for him to wait until proceedings instituted against him have reached * what might be called the pleadings stage, he can take action at once, as soon as he receives the writ to stay proceedings. That is the system adopted in this Bill. We’ propose to provide that no action or proceedings, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for publishing any. document published under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives. We propose also to provide that the defendant in any such action or prosecution may bring before the Court in which the action or prosecution is pending, or before any Judge thereof, after giving to the plaintiff twenty-four hours’ notice of his intention to do so, a certificate under the hand of the President, or Clerk of the Senate, or of the Speaker, or Clerk of the House of Representatives, as the case may be. Thereupon the Court or Judge shall immediately stay the action or prosecution, and may order the plaintiff or prosecutor to pay the defendant his costs of defence. We further propose that no action or proceeding of a civil or criminal character for libel or defamation shall lie against any person for the publication in good faith for the information of the public of any copy of, or extract from, or abstract of any such parliamentary paper. In order that the protection proposed to be given by that clause should be enjoyed by a person, he would have to publish the matter in what is known to the law as “good faith,” meaning, without an ulterior personal motive of injuring another person, without malice, bond fide, and for the information of the public.
– In one particular case that we know of, would it be publication for a member of the Federal Parliament to lend a certain report to a friend ?
– Undoubtedly. The printing of a document for use by members themselves and its distribution to members needs no statutory protection, but the moment an individual member hands a document containing something that, on the face of it, .is libellous, to another individual outside, either by way of loan or gift, that is publication. .
– Under seal of confidence ?
– Undoubtedly. It is quite possible that there might be some association or relation between the individual member and the outside party, which would privilege the publication, but it is hard at this moment to say how it would.
Outside of parliamentary documents altogether, there are occasions when matters communicated to another person to the detriment of the character of a third person are privileged. For instance, if a . former employer of a person, on request, gave information to an intending employer as to the character or conduct- of that person, even if that information was detrimental to the party whose character or reputation was in question, .so long as it was given in good faith, and without malice, the occasion would be’ privileged. There are many similar privileged occa- sions. It is intended to protect the press for publishing matter which, on its face, may appear to be defamatory, so long as they print it from papers authorized by Parliament to be printed, and publish it in the terms laid down by clause 5, in good faith, without malice, and for the information of the public. The Imperial Act 3 and 4, Victoriae, Cap. 9, gives to Imperial parliamentary papers the qualities that we seek to give to our own parliamentary papers by this Bill, but it applies to the Imperial Parliament only, and the immunities enjoyed by that Parliament in that regard would not necessarily be transferred to Legislatures in any of the British Dependencies. In all the States of the Commonwealth, legislation has been expressly introduced to protect from actions for defamation those engaged in the printing and publication of parliamentary papers. Similar legislation is in force in Canada, and it is now proposed to adopt it with regard to the Commonwealth. With that as the object of the Bill, I heartily commend it to the support of honorable senators.
– The Bill, for the purpose of the argument that I propose to address to the Senate, may conveniently be divided into two parts - that which throws a shield over the Government Printer, for the printing of parliamentary documents, and that which throws a corresponding shield over other printers for the press of the Commonwealth. We are treading on very dangerous ground when Ave propose to place every newspaper in the country in a position to scatter broadcast throughout Australia what may be in itself absolutely libellous. The Bill proposes to allow an ordinary newspaper to publish extracts from anything which may be ordered to be printed by Parliament. It is within the knowledge of honorable senators that there is a class of journal keen to get anything sensational.
– And that class is gradually comprising the. lot of them.
– J am afraid there is a great deal of truth in that interjection, but whether it does include them or not, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a craving for sensation. The result is that certain organs will, if any papers are published,’ select those portions which they think will appeal to the tastes of their readers, and those portions which may be sensational may be the most libellous and unfair to the individual concerned. At the same time, by not publishing the full text, or the full particulars or circumstances surrounding the matter, those papers may do an unwarranted and unjustifiable injury to that individual. .1 cannot see why we should throw this shield indiscriminately over the press of the Commonwealth. It has ample protection already without the Bill, if what it publishes is in good faith, and if it has taken the ordinary precautions that every reputable journal will take of seeing that the matter it publishes is not libellous. Surely it is not too much to ask the press to exercise in regard to papers published by the authority of Parliament the same care and discretion as it ordinarily exercises in the case of matter obtained from outside. Whilst I admit that privilege must be extended to the Government Printer to enable Parliament to carry on its work, I do not see that the same necessity exists with regard to the ordinary press of the country. I shall, for that reason, not oppose the second reading of the Bill, but. I shall take steps, and invite the Committee to assist me, to remove from ‘the Bill this very wide and indiscriminate provision, which would enable libel to be scattered broadcast throughout Australia without affording the slightest remedy or protection to a possibly injured individual.
-54]– I hope the Senate will follow Senator Millen’s advice in this matter. We are asked, in giving the press the protection afforded bv clause s_, to do what is unfair. > For instance, a report of some Commission, which has taken evidence, may “be ordered to be printed, and a partizan newspaper, or any newspaper for that mat- ter, might publish certain statements made in it, and for its own ends, suppress other statements in the paper which -disproved the first ones, and showed them to be slanderous and- libellous: By this Bill, that paper would be protected from any action for libel. …
– That would not be conforming to sub-clause 2 of clause 5.
– One pf the most difficult things to prove is motive.
– The fact that the paper, published the damaging statement without anything else would, be prima facie evidence of the motive.
– The defence might be raised that the rest of the report was not news, as it was already known. .The Bill should be amended. I suggest that the first part of clause 4 should be made to read as follows -
No action or proceeding, civil’ or criminal, shall lie against any person duly authorized by either House of Parliament for publishing any - document published under the authority, of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
The. new words in that are “ duly authorized by either House of Parliament “ after the word “ person.” ‘ That would then legalize the publication of the paper.
– Would it not be better to make the permission apply to the document itself rather than to the person?
-The Bill gives a general permission to anybody. I want it to be given only to authorized persons. The Government Printer would be an authorized person. I want to insure that anybody, outside of those authorized persons, who publishes matter of that kind, must take full responsibility for his action.
– In the case of a document which we thought should be published, it would be necessary to give an authorization to every printer in the country, whereas if the authorization is made to apply to the publication of the document that would be sufficient, for then any one could print it.
– I am quite prepared to agree to authorize the publication of the document, but I do not want to throw protection over any but those whose duty it should be as officers of this Parliament to publish it.
– There is only the Government Printer.
– The Y ear-Book, for instance, was printed by a private firm. Everybody who printed for the Government would have to be authorized. In clause 5 the words “ or extract from or abstract of ‘ ‘ should be struck out.
– Then the honorable senator would make them publish the whole document ?
– If a printer wanted to get the protection of this Bill, he should publish the whole document, but he would not be prevented from publishing extracts. He would simply be told that if he used extracts, he must take the ordinary responsibility that he took as a publisher in other cases-
– And that he takes every day in the week.
– Yes. I shall support any proposition to amend the Bill in that direction, and if those amendments are not carried, I shall vote against the third reading.
.- I entirely agree with what has been said by Senator Millen and Senator Pearce. It is right that we should protect all our own officials in the publication of any parliamentary paper, but it would be dangerous to extend protection to every newspaper or other outside publisher. It would be opening the way to anybody who had a spite against another to endeavour to get statements into a parliamentary paper, and then have them published without any responsibility. In Mr. Beale’s report, which I suppose this Bill is intended to cover, a great many statements are made on hearsay, without any actual evidence of proof, and it would be very unfair to the persons named that those things should be published simply because they happened to be put in a parliamentary report bv a practically irresponsible individual. Whilst we should give every protection to the press, if they publish information, they should accept the responsibility of verifying it. But if they choose to publish unverified information we should not shift the responsibility from them.
– It is quite possible that Parliament for a very good reason might order to be printed a document which it knew to contain libellous statements.
– That is quite possible. I believe in giving the utmost freedom to the press, but where the character of an individual or the quality of his wares are liable to be attacked, a newspaper which chooses to publish statements concerning them should take the responsibility. We are not justified in throwing a shield ardund such a newspaper. A newspaper, just like an individual, has a duty to the public to discharge. If a newspaper proprietor chooses to publish from a parliamentary document statements affectirig an individual, or the wayin which he carries on his business, the responsibility of so doing should be thrown upon the publisher. If we do not do that, we shall be opening the way to a very dangerous proceeding that will be calculated at times to inflict grievous injury upon innocent persons.
– There is an aspect of this Bill about which I should like some information. It is well known that the primary object of the Bill is to legalize the publication of a certain document which has already been presented to Parliament. How far’ we shall by this Bill make the pressimmune from the responsibility connected with the publication of parts of that document I am not sure. I have a copy of it in my possession. I have read portions of it. I should be very loath to leave my copy lying about my house for any one else to see. There are passages in the document which are positively indecent. They may be justifiable from the standpoint of the Commissioner, but for all that they are vile and filthy judgedfrom the stand-point of publication to a mixed community. We know that there are certainnewspapers that trade upon prurience, and would be very glad to have unlimited power to publish extracts from this particular document.
– Some newspapers have done so.
– I do not know to what extent newspapers are at liberty to do so with impunity. What I wish to know from the Minister is whether by this Bill we shall licensethe publication of salacious or dirty details which may be found in documents of a similar nature. That question seems to be so important as to justify delaying the passage of this measure until we can give it more serious consideration.
– The only statements with which this Bill deals are those which may be libellous or slanderous. It does not touch indecency at all.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for publishing any document published under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
The defendant, in any action or prosecution commenced in respect of the publication of any document published under the authority either of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, may bring before the Court in which the . action or prosecution is pending or before any Judge thereof, first giving twenty-four hours’ notice of his intention so to do to the plaintiff or prosecutor, a certificate under the hand of the President or Clerk of the Senate or of the Speaker or Clerk of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, statingthat the document in- respect whereof the action or prosecution is commenced was published under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, together with an affidavit verifying the certificate, and the Court or Judge shall thereupon immediately stay the action or prosecution and may order the plaintiff or prosecutor to pay the defendant his costs of defence.
– I move -
That after the word “person,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “ duly authorized by either House of the Parliament.”
Clause 3 of this Bill protects the Government Printer, and gives him ample authority to publish anything approved. by Parliament. Clause 4 deals with persons who may be contract printers. Later on ‘ we come to a clause dealing with ordinary members of the public. My amendment is intended to confine the protection to authorized persons.
.- Do I understand that in the event of Senator Millen’s amendment being agreed to, any newspaper making extracts from a parliamentary document would be liable if the document contained a libellous statement ? .
– Newspapers will stand exactly as they do now if my amendment is agreed to.
– When moving the second reading of this Bill I was asked whether, in connexion with a document the contents of which were defamatory, a newspaper proprietor would be held liable for published extracts. I said “Yes.” That is the position. If this clause is passed with the amendment of Senator Millen, then, unless in each individual instance Parliament were to authorize each of its members to publish a particular document, a member of Parliament who published such a document would be liable. Let us suppose that there is a parliamentary paper containing matter which, if published outside Parliament, would be regarded as defamatory. So long as that paper was circulated amongst members of Parliament, no responsibility would attach to the publisher. But if it were published outside the walls of Parliament liability’ would attach to the publisher. Unless, therefore, we inserted a clause like this, it would be exceedingly dangerous for any member of Parliament to send outside any document unless he first perused it carefully and satisfied himself that there was nothing in it which by any possibility of construction might be regarded as defamatory.
– Why should a member of Parliament be allowed to go outside Parliament and utter a libel ?
– At the present time he would be held’ to be a publisher of the document if he were to send a copy of it to a municipal council, a road trust, or some other body in his constituency with which he wished to communicate.
– Suppose a member of Parliament sent a copy of a document to a municipal council at whose meeting the document was read, and a newspaper copied the document and published it. Would the newspaper proprietor be open to an action for libel ?
– That would be the responsibility of the newspaper, but the act of forwarding it from the Parliament would be the. responsibility of the individual member.
– Is not that so now?
– It is. in regard to this Parliament, but not in regard to other Parliaments. This Parliament has not yet protected its members in that regard, but it has been done by the Imperial Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, and States Parliaments. We are simply proposing to regulate the matter in the same way as has been done elsewhere. Nothing in this Bill will excuse any newspaper for publishing any matter which is defamatory if it is done for the purpose of defaming a person. There must be an absence of bad faith. There must be good faith. It must be done for .the public information, and in the ordinary way.
– And still it may be grossly unfair and libellous.
– If so,’ a jury would find accordingly.
– No, because the Bill says that the publisher shall not be liable if he publishes in good faith, even if he acts in ignorance.
– There must be an absence of improper motive and ill-will. The clause does not give to the newspapers any protection unless they conform to all the conditions therein laid down. It is desirable that members of Parliament should have the right to send papers beyond the limits of the building, and that is one. of the objects which the clause is intended to achieve. I hope that honorable senators will allow it to stand.
-Colonel GOULD (New. South Wales) [4.17]. - I desire to say a few words on this very important measure, which I think should receive very full consideration. The Minister has stated, that there is no necessity for a measure to protect the Government Printer for printing any document to the order of either House of the Parliament. Under section 49 of the Constitution that protection extends to any person who, as a servant of either House, may. print a document which has been laid upon the table and ordered to be printed. We know that very frequently documents contain most serious defamatory matter as against the character !of individuals. The justification for placing those documents before the Parliament is that, as it is called upon to deal with and consider all sorts of questions, it should have the opportunity of dealing with them with the utmost freedom, and its members should run no risk in expressing their opinions or making assertions so that a correct judgment may be formed. It is just the same in regard to the privilege of freedom of ‘speech that we possess. The members of this Parliament are clothed with that right, not to enable them to defame individuals, but by means of free and open discussion to arrive at a just and proper decision on any matter. I want honorable senators to realize that it is to the benefit of both the Parliament and the country that we should have the freest opportunity of discussing any paper in the most open way. But under this Bill,’ if passed, any man who might be able to obtain a copy of a paper which had been printed under the authority of either House might publish its contents or any portion of them which he might see fit, although it might contain the most grossly slanderous statements, and he would go absolutely free ; whilst, if any private individual published the same- statements, or embodied them in a letter to a newspaper, the individual or the newspaper, as the case might be, would be liable to an action for damages at the suit of any person who considered that his character had - been injured. Under this Bill, if any publisher of a newspaper should see fir to make use of any parliamentary document for the purpose of injuring an individual, he would be absolutely free from- punishment unless it could be shown that he was actuated by illwill to the person defamed, or by an improper motive. I ask honorable senators to consider how it would be possible to prove that? Take the case of our great leading journals. We will not assume for a moment that they would publish a document for the purpose of defaming the character of an individual. Thev have no interest in the. matter, and they decide. to publish a document in order that the public at large may know what is going on in the Parliament.
– Does not the law of libel largely depend upon the motives of the publisher ?
.- Not altogether. If a man chooses to publish a; libel he is not protected unless he can show that it was true and to the benefit of the public. If a newspaper sets up the defence that it was justified, and that what it published was published for the benefit ‘ of the public, and the jury come to that opinion, no action for damages- will lie. I think that-the fairest way is to allow the newspapers to take the responsibility of publishing any documents which have beenlaid upon the table of either House and ordered to be printed.
– And in just the same way as members of Parliament.
-Colonel GOULD.- Yes. The Minister has pointed out that the clause will benefit a member of Parliament, because in future he will be able to post parliamentary papers to a municipal body, and that the act will not be regarded as a publication, as against him. How often has an action for damages been brought against a member of Parliament for having sent parliamentary papers to a municipality in the course of business? He .could always say that as the municipality was interested in’ the investigation it was entitled to the information. This Bill is giving to an individual member a measure of protection which I think is not necessary. It is also enabling any newspaper - and let it be remembered that all newspapers are not reputably conducted - to publish whatever it may see fit, and it is to be excused unless the jury is satisfied that’ it was actuated .by malice or ill-will. It is a dangerous power to grant, and certainly it is not one which I should feel .justified in voting for. If the Bill is’ confined to the protection of the Government- Printer, well and good, but it is not wanted to protect newspapers or members of Parliament. Suppose that at my instance departmental correspondence containing most defamatory matter against some individual is tabled here and printed. Am I to be protected if I utter a gross slander against some person by means of the parliamentary paper? I do not think that any member of Parliament is entitled to do that. The object of his protection and privilege is to enable him to deal with the business of the country openly and above board. For that purpose lie should be protected, so as not to be under the fear of an action at law. When we go beyond that point we tread on very dangerous ground.
. - In my opinion this is a very important Bill. We must be perfectly sure that all contractors with the Commonwealth are immune from punishment for publishing any papers under the authority of. either House of Parliament. But as regards newspapers or individuals or members of Parliament when outside its precincts, it seems to me they are not entitled to any protection which is not extended to ordinary citizens. Members of Parliament within its precincts are protected in everything which they say. That protection is given not in the interests of members of Parliament, but in the inrterests of the people, so that there may be in Parliament the most perfect untram melled discussion on any question of importance. They are only so protected in order that the public may have the security, of the fullest and freest discussion, by its Executive, of any important issue. But outside that a member of Parliament is no more entitled to publish a statement to injure people than is any other citizen, and a newspaper ought not to be entitled to publish any statement which has been privileged in the public interests and for parliamentary purposes. I am anxious, to the best of my capacity, to do what I can to secure immunity for the publisher of papers for parliamentary use.
– It is not necessary, as he is protected now. .
– There appears to be a doubt about that, and it ought to be settled. But beyond that I think that we should take a dangerous step and render possible a very great injury to individuals and the community, if we gave any greater licence for publication than all our newspapers at present possess.
.- This clause can have no application to newspapers. It’ refers only to original documents’. A paper is laid upon the table of the Senate, ordered to be printed and sent to the Government Printer. I think I am right in saying that generally about 950 copies of such paper are printed and sent to the officers of the Senate. Thirty-six or more may be required for members of the Senate, and seventy-five or more for honorable members in another place. There, is a balance, we will say, of 700 copies, and the officers of this House, or of some of the Commonwealth Departments, proceed to publish them by issuing them to certain persons throughout the Commonwealth. At the present time there is for that no protection for those officers. -
– That protection ought to be given.
– It is proposed to be given by this clause. The publication of extracts from or the whole of any such papers in the press is a different matter, and is dealt with in clause 5.
– Will the Minister be content with protection for the man who prints a document by order of Parliament?
– It is not a question of the protection of .the printer alone. I have said that these papers are published by officers of the House and of various Commonwealth Departments, and it is a question also of publication by a member of Parliament.
– I say that he has no right to be protected outside of Parliament’ any more than an ordinary citizen.
– If a member of Parliament sends one of these papers to a constituent, or to a public body in his constituency, he is given no protection at the present time. I have said that the publication of extracts from or of the whole of any of these documents in the press is dealt with in clause .5. If a document’ originally published under the authority of Parliament by the Government Printer gets into the hands of a member of Parliament, and he sends it to a constituent, he publishes it, and at the present time he has no protection at all for that publication.
– Nor should he have any.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that he should go through every document printed by the authority of Parliament to ascertain whether or not it contains matter that is defamatory ?
– If he takes the trouble to publish it he should make himself acquainted with its contents.
– Is an honorable member supposed to read through each number of Hansard before he publishes it?
– I have said that usually there are about 950 copies of these parliamentary papers . printed. Of these, in are required for distribution amongst members of both Houses. What becomes of, perhaps, 700 copies that are not required for the use of members of Parliament? We know very well that they are circulated throughout the Commonwealth, and the man who addresses the envelopes enclosing them, and the boy who goes to the post wit!/ them, as well as every one who takes part in their circulation, is under the law a publisher of those documents at the present time. It is to protect such publication of these original documents that this clause is intended. I have said that a similar provision is .included in Act Nos. 3 and 4 Victoria, Chapter 9, of the Imperial Parliament. In moving the second reading of the Bill, I. pointed out that in the case of Stockdale v. Hansard, it was held that the publication beyond members of Parliament was in no way protected. It became necessary to adopt some legislation to deal with the matter. That legislation was passed in 1840. I am not now speaking of the publication in newspapers of the -whole or any part of such documents. TI. at, as I have already said, is dealt with in a subsequent clause.
– I think that some protection’ is required for the publication of these papers by members of Parliament. ‘ I may tell honorable senators that it became known amongst persons interested m a certain business that I was possessed of a certain document, and I was asked if I would be willing to lend it confidentially to a chemist.
– The honorable senator” need not mention the name of the document when he tells us that it was a chemist who asked for it.
– A man interested in a particular business asked for it, and 1 lent him the publication I refer to.
– That would be privileged as a confidential publication.
– I am told it would not. I point out that a grossly libellous charge might be made in this Chamber against a member of the Committee. It would be taken down by the Hansard reporters, and would appear in Hansard. We know that every member ofthe Committee is privileged to receive twelve copies of each number of Hansard for distribution amongst his constituents, arid most honorable members avail themselves of that privilege. They do so in the utmost good faith, but it appears now that’ they render themselves liable . to serious civil, or it might be criminal, action, for an abuse of their parliamentary power.
– In any case, Hansard, as its imprint shows, is published by the authority of Parliament.
– I do not know whose view of this matter I should accept. I am told by legal . members of the Committee that in the circumstances I should be responsible for the publication of a copy of Hansard containing a libellous charge, and I am told by Senator Chataway that I should not be liable. It is clear that a certain important document must have got into the hands of persons other than members of this Parliament, because we have seen many very strong protestations against its publication by people who are supposed to be affected by it.
– A member of this Committee might stand up and utter a libel against another, and when challenged might be unable to give his authority for the statement constituting the libel. Would any newspaper be at liberty to publish that libellous statement?
– That publication would be protected if it were shown that there was no malice.
– Unfortunately, at election times the proprietors of many newspapers would take such passages out of Hansard if they thought they were privileged to do so, and distribute them broadcast amongst the electors to damage the candidature of certain persons.I want to have that kind of thing prevented. It would probably be a cowardly thing to utter the libel in the first instance, but it would be still worse if it were to be distributed by the press throughout the Commonwealth. I should like to be assured that the Bill would prevent that.
– Clause 4 does not touch that at all.
SenatorCHATAWAY (Queensland) [4.42]. - The Minister says that clause 4 does not touch the matter. I take the ease of a newspaper publishing a statement appearing in a document issued on the authorityof Parliament. Is not that a case of another person publishing the document ?
– No, he does not publish the original document.
– This appears to be a case of republication. Before this person could publish the document it must have been already published under the authority of Parliament.
– The honorable senator is referring to the printing, and not to the publication of a document.
– The Minister must beaware that one man may print and another may publish a document. We know that at election times many things are published, and though we can find out who the publishers are, it is impossible to discover the printer. Does the clause refer to one publication, and not two?
– -To only one document, but theremight be fifty publishers.
– The Minister refers to the circulation of the document.
– The circulation would be publication under the law of libel.
– If we take Hansard, for instance, I can send copies to my constituents, wholesale if I like. If it contains a libel, and it can be shown that I very carefully selected the number of Hansard in which the libel appeared, and sent it out to certain of the friends of the person libelled, a jury would have reasonable ground for assuming that I published the libel with malice, and was therefore not privileged. If, on the other hand, I distributed Hansard in the ordinary way, I should probably not be liable. I suggest to the Minister that he should agree to leave out the word “ published,” and make sub-clause 1 read -
No action . or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for publishing any document under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
That, it seems to me, would be clear enough.
– The word “ published “ is , descriptive.
– Is sub-clause 1 sufficiently explicit to exclude newspapers or classes of newspapers from the term “person”? I would suggest the insertion, after the word “person,” of the words “in the service of the Commonwealth.” If newspapers come under this clause there is ho occasion for clause 5.
– I can give the honorable senator the most complete assurance that this clause does not touch newspapers.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
– As this is rather a controversial clause, I hope that the Government will consent to report progress. If not, the Committee should negative the clause.
Our object is to protect people from libel, and that object would be ‘furthered by leaving out a provision which would enable newspapers, to publish libels without risk of punishment.
– I shall divide the Committee on the clause. In view of the definition of the word “ person “ under the Acts Interpretation Act, I do not agree with the Minister’s view that “person,” in clause 4, does not include newspapers. The Minister admits that it refers to newspapers where it appears in clause 5.
– Clause 5 is intended solely for newspapers.
– The object is to allow any newspaper to publish any statement that happens to appear in some printed document which is the property of Parliament. That is giving an’ exceedingly dangerous power, which it is not desirable to give in the interests of the public, and would be of no value to Parliament. The document to which Senator Mulcahy alluded contains certain observations by an individual who was authorized by the Government to report to them, and those statements, before they have been investigated or replied to, are to be allowed to appear in any newspaper or printed leaflet without risk to the publisher. A later clause makes the Bill retrospective, showing that it is largely intended to cover a document which, considering its contents, should never have become part of the records of Parliament in its present form. It would be wiser to leave the clause out altogether. It gives an excessive protection, not only to newspapers, but to any individual who can get a ‘look at a parliamentary paper containing slanderous statements. It might be the report of a Royal Commission before which some person was compelled on oath to give most slanderous evidence which he thought true, but which the Commission might afterwards consider was not true. Yet any one publishing those statements, apart altogether from the report and the conclusions of the Commission, would be privileged. That is a dangerous power to put in the hands of any individual newspaperowner, member of Parliament, or private citizen.
– - Any newspaper publishing the whole or part of a parliamentary paper or other paper is already protected by the State libel laws, so long as he publishes it in good faith, without malice, and for the public good. This Bill proposes to throw over him a further protection to which he is not entitled. A newspaper might, about the time of an election, take extracts from a report which contained a vile slander,, publish it broadcast, and yet would be ableto claim the protection of this measure.. The protection of the general law in the different States should be quite enough for any newspaper, and the Committee should not give any more. I shall vote against the clause.
– In what position would a member of this Parliament be placed if on the public platform he quoted from any document or printed paper, published under the authority of Parliament, matter which was regarded as libellous? Would he be open to action for libel or slander?
– - Ministers are hardly called upon to give legal opinions, upon actual or hypothetical cases. Personally, I should hesitate long before attempting to use on the public; platform certain things which may appear in papers printed on the authority of Parliament, and I should .look for very little protection from the law if I did, although I should be absolutely privileged if I made the statements on the floor of this chamber while the Senate was sitting. This clause is intended to cover a different class of cases from those provided for in clause 4. Clause 4 had regard to the . publication of original documents. Under the law of libel, “ publication “ has a distinct and technical meaning. Every movement of the document containing the libel from one hand to another is a publication-. Consequently, a single document may be published fifty times, and by fifty different publishers. Oral publication may also take place in a like way. In this clause, we propose to give protection to the owner of a printing press who publishes, not the original document ordered by Parliament to be printed, but a copy of it, or extracts from or abstracts of it, so long as he publishes the same in good faith. “Good faith” is defined in subclause 2 as the absence, of ill-will to the person defamed, or the absence of improper motive, and. the fact that the manner of the publication “ is such as is ordinarily and fairly used iri the case of the publication of news.” Two or three instances have been cited by honorable sena- tors where ah immunity of this kind might beabused. It has been said that on the eve of an election a newspaper proprietor might pick out and publish certain statements from Hansard. If he did that, he would not be publishing “in a manner such as is ordinarily and fairly used in the case of the publication of news.”
– It is, so far as I can see, the manner ordinarily used in the publication of political news.
-That is a matter which is open to question. I point out to Senator Sayers that a person publishing an extract from Hansard would not be covered by this clause, because Hansard is not one of the documents referred to. These are only documents authorized to be printed by either House - the ordinary parliamentary papers. Hansard is not ordered to be printed by either House, or by Parliament. It is published on the authority of the Government. Hansard is not referred to in this Bill, and so the publication of an extract from it is not covered by the Bill in any circumstances. If honorable senators have any doubts as to the advisableness of extending the provisions of subclause 1 of this clause to newspapers, I can assure them that the exercise of the rights, or enjoyment of the privileges, conferred by it, is amply safeguarded in the interests of the public and of Parliament by the conditions laid down in sub-clause 2.
– The Minister laid emphasis on the fact that the publication must not be actuated by “ ill-will to the person defamed.” But obviously, in the case of extraordinary statements garbled out ot parliamentary papers and circulated at election times, it will always be open to the publisher to say, “ I was not actuated by ill-will at all. It was purely a political matter.” So that he immediately gets rid of the accusation of being actuated by ill-will, by adopting an easy explanation. But in the meantime, the libel that he has extracted from the parliamentary paper would be circulated. . Even a member of’ Parliament would not feel safe in quoting the same passage from the platform, although a pamphleteer or newspaper is allowed to circulate it, and gets off practically scot free. One thing is quite clear, that while a newspaper can quote from one of these documents something that is defamatory, a member of Parliament who quotes from the same document on a public platform is not protected.
Clause 6 (Application of Act).
– Why are we taking the unusual course of making this Bill retrospective? The clause provides that the protection afforded by the -Bill shall apply to documents published after 2nd July, 1907. Is that the date when this session commenced, or is the clause intended to apply to documents published during the. present Parliament ?
– It covers this session.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment ; report adopted. .
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.10 to 5.45 p.m.
Telegraphic Communication with Tasmania : King Island - Torpedo Boat Construction - Supply of Military Saddles.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That thisBill be now read a first time.
– I asked a questionyesterday as to the intention ofthe Government to connect King Island and Tasmania by cable or wireless telegraphy. King Island is part of the State of Tasmania. I do not want to take up any parochial attitude, but in the States of Western Australia and South Australia the Commonwealth Government have laid down a rule that the State Government shall guarantee them against loss before a new telegraph or telephone line is constructed to sparsely populated districts.
– That principle has been extended to other States also.
– I was not aware of it, but if the Government contemplate connecting King Island in the way indicated they should ask the Government of Tasmania to give a similar guarantee against loss.
– It may be part of the main cable.
– Any line could be made part of the main cable, but nobody will contend that it is necessary for the purpose of communication between Tasmania and Victoria to lay a line to King Island. All I ask is that the Government shall treat this proposal in exactly the same way as it has treated similar ones in the other States. If this is to be part of the main line, I do not say that the Tasmanian Government should guarantee the whole loss, if there is a loss, but they should guarantee that portion of the loss which is caused by the diversion of the route through King Island.
. -If the Government intend to lay down the principle enunciated by Senator Pearce with regard to communication with King Island, I hope they will extend it also to every case where a railway is to be made through a State with Commonwealth funds, so that the State shall guarantee the Commonwealth against any loss on its portion. There are several railway projects in the air, andI shall heartily approve of that principle, because if Queensland makes a railway to the Northern Territory border she will be prepared to pay for it out of her own money. We want no guarantee from the Commonwealth that it will be done, but if railways are to be made in various parts of the Commonwealth for some specific purpose that will benefit some State, that State should have to guarantee the Commonwealth against loss. I am glad that Senator Pearce brought the matter up, because at a later date I intend to press the point very strongly.
– Time and again during the session I have asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence when the report of the naval officers who were sent to Great Britain to’ inquire into the question of the construction of torpedo vessels for Australian defence would be completed. The latest reply was that the report was notready, but endeavours were being made to expedite it. Will the Minister, if the report is completed and presented during the recess, make arrangements to have it circulated amongst honorable senators so that they may be prepared, after studying its contents, to discuss it next session? Has the Minister representing the Minister ofDefence received any reply from the military authorities in Western Australia regarding a question I have already asked, as to the supply, of saddles for military purposes in that State ; whether tenders were called for, and if they were local or applied to the whole of the Commonwealth ?
– The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company obtained the rights under which they at present carry on submarine telegraphic communication between Tasmania and Victoria as far back as 1868. Those rights were for either twenty or twenty-one years, and were defined in an agreement.Prior to the expiration of’ that agreement in, I think, 1889, a further agreement was entered into between them and the Tasmanian Government by, which their rights under the original agreement were renewed for a further period of twenty or twenty-one years. In the ordinary course of events that agreement will expire during next year. Oh the 16th August, 1907, the manager in Australia of the company was advised by the Postmaster-General that the Post and Telegraph Department intended, in view of the early termination of the agreement, to take steps for the construction of a new line of cable between Tasmania and the mainland. Negotiations were then entered into between the Department and the company. The company have two lines of cable between Flinders, in Victoria, and Low Head, Tasmania. The Department, after negotiations, did not deem it advisable to accept an offer that was made tothem by the company to sell them those two lines of cable. One of the main reasons for that decision was that the company were not prepared to allow the cable to be lifted in certain parts of the Strait in order that its exact condition of repair might be tested by the officers of the Department.
– Without remuneration. They would do it if remunerated.
– If the honorable senator wants to sell a parcel of goods, does he expect the purchaser to pay him for showing them to him?
– The Government wanted tobuy the cable.
– Exactly ;andthe company wanted to sell; and the Department asked that the ordinary con- ditions as between intending vendor and purchaser, should - apply. At first the company would not hear of allowing their cables to be inspected in those. parts where they were submerged below any depth of water. Later, when they found that the negotiations were about to fall through, they offered to allow the inspection to take place if the Department would pay all the cost and guarantee them against any consequential damage ! So that if the old cables were lifted, and they broke, the Commonwealth Government would be responsible. As a matter of, fact, then, the position is that it will be necessary that two lines of cable should be laid if the existing means of communication, which are not over much to meet requirements, are to be maintained. The PostmasterGeneral, in consequence, recently invited tenders for the supply of sufficient cable to lay one direct line on the present route from Flinders to Low Head, and another line via King Island. Thus we should still have two lines of .cable, but the .one line would take in King Island as an intermediate station, and thereby establish communication with that prosperous and growing settlement - from the point of view
Of population and production - and’ the two States. After consideration, it was thought that the extra cost involved in the deviation to King Island, for the cable plus the annual cost and the maintenance of a station there, would, perhaps, not be as economical as if a line of communication by wireless telegraphy were established. It was thought that wireless telegraphy might furnish an alternative means of communication. It is quite possible that the establishment of an alternative method of communication with Tasmania via King Island by wireless telegraphy might be cheaper than laying down two cables. Under these circumstances, the Postmaster-General’, after consultation with his skilled officers, and on their advice, has now called for tenders for establishing communication with Tasmania via King Island by means of wireless telegraphy. The advantages, if a tender is accepted, will be these - that we shall have a line of cable communication, as we have at present, and, in addition, we shall have a means of communication by wireless telegraphy.
– Does the Minister mean that we shall have one or two lines of cable?
– One line, I .think. It is thought that the cost of these two means of communication will be less than the cost of two lines of cable, whilst we - shall, at the same time, provide a means of bringing King Island into touch with Tasmania and the rest of the Commonwealth.
– When I asked a question, some time ago, as to whether it would not be better to have a wireless telegraphy station at King Island, the reply was that it was not considered a commercial proposition.
– Several applications have been made in regard to connecting King Island by means of wireless telegraphy, and it was decided by .the PostmasterGeneral that, in’ view of the fact that the results of negotiations with regard to the cable communication between .Tasmania and the mainland after the termination of the agreement with the Eastern Extension .Telegraph . Company were uncertain, and in a nebulous condition, it would not be desirable to determine anything definitely- until the exact policy with regard ‘ to cable communication was defined. That could not be defined until after the negotiations with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company had been completed. Now they have been completed, it has been decided that the Commonwealth shall lay down its own cable. The question of whether the alternative cable shall go by way of King Island, or whether there shall be communication by wireless telegraphy with that island, remains to be decided. Tenders have been called for the necessary supply of cable, and tenders are also being invited for the establishment of communication by wireless telegraphy. On receipt of those tenders, the Department- will be in a position to view the whole matter in a comprehensive way, in order to. establish’ communication which will be at least as adequate, as the present system is to the needs of the traffic, and which may, at the same time, confer additional advantages by telegraphically harnessing up King Island with the Commonwealth.
– Is this being treated as transferred expenditure or new expenditure?
– All works are treated as new expenditure.
– I think, not.
– Yes, all except those provided for under the Constitution as - the maintenance qf the Departments as at the time of transfer. During the regime pf the Reid-McLean Government the Treasurer, Sir George Turner, adopted this system for the first time with regard to the submission of Estimates to Parliament. As to the matter submitted by Senator Needham - the report from the two officers of the Defence Department who visited England recently - I have to say that matters of a detailed character are contained in the report, and it is necessary, in regard to some, that communications should pass between the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial authorities. It is the intention of the Government, in regard to any development of naval policy, to carry out its policy in conjunction with, and with the assistance of, the Home authorities. Some details must be the subject of communication before the report is finally dealt with or submitted to Parliament, but no unnecessary delay will be occasioned, and the honorable senator will, at the earliest opportunity, have a copy of the report placed in his hands.
– If the report is ready for publication while Parliament is in recess, will it be circulated?
– I shall mention the matter to the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister, and convey to them the request of the honorable senator. With regard to the matter of saddlery, to which he has directed attention, I had a conference yesterday with the Minister of Defence and the Acting Secretary of the Defence Department, Major Pethebridge. I had an opportunity of seeing some of the papers, and was informed that inquiries were still proceeding. I am in a position to assure my honorable friend that,assoon as the results of the inquiries are available, they will be communicated to him direct, during the recess, at whatever ‘address he pleases.
– I put some questions to the Minister of Home Affairs some time ago with regard to cable communication with Tasmania. There is a danger of the means of communication breaking down if we have onlv ohe cable. A little while ago we were told that wireless telegraphy was not suitable for this service on account of the large number of messages that had to be transmitted. I shall not oppose the item in question, but I think that the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company have been treated with scant courtesy by the Government.
– They have been treated most generouslyin comparison with their treatment of Australia..
– Without any notice whatever, they were informed that tenders would be called for by the Federal Government.
– They were informed on 1 6th August, 1907. They offered to sell on the 25th November, 1907.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Supply that is now asked for is for three months of the coming financial year. We are asked by this Bill to grant a sum of£1,412,625. This amount is practically based upon the Estimates of last year. Excluding special appropriations, there was voted, for the financial year that is coming to an end, the sum of £5,796,687. One-fourth of that - that is to say, for three months of the year- would be £1,449,172. So that, as a matter of fact, we are asking for less for the first three months of the coming financial year than the actual expenditure for three months of the current year. But it is only fair to say that it is contemplated that there will be a number of savings in connexion with last year’s provision on the Estimates. Excluding special appropriations, it is estimated, roughly, that the expenditure in the coming year will be £5,320,000. Onefourth of that amount would be £1,330,000. It is only fair that I should mention to the Senate that we are asking, by means of this Bill, rather morethan one-fourth of the estimated expenditure, excluding special appropriations. We are asking for £82,625 in excess of the onefourth. That amount is made up by expenditure which will take place during the quarter. For instance, the . December quarter’s contribution on account of the European mail service, £30,000, may have to be remitted to London in September. We have also to make a payment to meet the loss on the Pacific Cable business. The total payment is £50,000, the payment during the quarter being, say, £11,000. Then there is a sum of £25,000 provided for the entertainment of the American Fleet. There is also a general increase, not otherwise accounted for, to the extent of £16,625.By these sums we make up the £82,625 which represents the amount in excess of the actual onefourth of the estimated expenditurerexclusive of special appropriations - for the coming year.
– Will the Minister give an undertaking that the £25,000 for the entertainment of the American Fleet will not be exceeded?
– I will do nothing of the kind. I have already explained, on more than one occasion, that the Government have the responsibility for this matter, and they have the advantage of the assistance of a special Committee. We may rely, therefore, that the utmost economy and care will be exercised.
– The Minister mentioned that certain moneys had to be remitted in September. Does this .Bill carry the Government up to the end of September ?
– Yes, up to the 30th September. It will be seen that the amount is based on the expenditure of the current year. There is a larger sum than usual included in connexion with the Treasurer’s advance. The Senate is invited to agree to an advance of £200,000 in this connexion. The reason for that is that there are certain important ordinary works in the various States that have to be proceeded with. For the Home Affairs Department, the general Estimates will provide for something like £47,000, as against £42,000 last year. That’ is, roughly speaking, the total ordinary expenditure. I do not mean that no new works are included in that amount, but the contemplated amount of ordinary expenditure for works which will have to be started during the coming quarter is estimated at something like £413; 500. That sum, of course, will not be expended during the coming quarter ; but commitments to that amount will take place in connexion with various urgent works, and it is most undesirable that any of them should be stopped. The Treasurer has, therefore, found it. necessary to make ample provision for them.
– Has the Minister a list of the works ?
– Yes; and any honorable senator may have a copy of it if he so desires.’
– For what purpose is the item ‘of £40,000 for “ Refunds of Revenue “ required ?
– It is required chiefly to meet refunds in connexion with stamps and post-office orders. I believe that it also covers some refunds to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. Under an arrangement, we collect the full charge and refund their proportion of it.
– I think that it may be taken for granted that the Bill does not involve any new departure calling for considerable discussion. But I cannot help noticing the lack .of information. Under the head of “Defence,” no less a sum than £94,000 is required for contingencies. On page 15, under the head of “ Militia,” we are asked to vote £1,000 for “ pay,” and £11,200 for “contingencies.” In the next item, and under the head of “ Volunteers,” we are asked to vote £92 for “pay,” and £5,900 for “contingencies.” That, I submit, is not the way in which a legislative chamber should be treated. We ought to have a clearer statement as to the purposes for which the votes are required. I notice that under the head of the PostmasterGeneral the items for contingencies aggregate about £148,000, and that under other headings there are contingencies’ amounting to at least £30,000, making a total of considerably over £250,000. That is a method of preparing Supply Bills which ought to be altered. This is not the first time, by several, that I have drawn attention to the matter. It would be only fair to the Senate to adopt a different system. It might very well be asked to vote small sums for contingencies, but not thousands of pounds, and the actual matters in connexion with which we are asked to vote the money might certainly be named in the Bill. I cannot help but express a little surprise that this morning I should be told that the Government scout the idea of naming any sum in connexion with the reception of the American Fleet, and that in the evening I should be asked to vote £25,000 for that purpose. I take it that although it is not an absolute fixture, yet this is an indication of the view of the Government in the matter. I do not see any occasion to debate any other question.
– I notice that in this Bill we are called upon to vote an advance of £200,000 to the Treasurer. On a previous occasion this session we agreed to a similar vote. Any one who glanced through the Statutes of the session, would form the impression that during the year we had voted an advance of £200,000 in the first case, and later on a supplementary sum of £150,000 or £160,000. I should like the Minister in his reply to explain the reason, for asking in this Bill for an advance of £200,000 to the Treasurer.
– I wish to enter a protest against the manner in which we have voted money for the ye.ar. . Supply Bills are brought down, but we do not know how the money is spent. We are simply told, when we ask for an explanation, that it has been spent, and that it is of no use to test .the matter.- It is about time that the Parliament got a grip of the finances, and ascertained the purposes for which it was voting money. When a Minister introduces a Supply Bill, he gives very little information indeed to the Senate. On page 16 of this Bill, under the head of “Rifle Clubs and Associations.,” we are asked to vote £90 for “pay,” and .£5,000 for “contingencies.” Surely we should know how the money is to be spent, and- should not leave it to the discretion of the Minister to spend it where he likes. It is simply playing with Par- liament to ask, under that head, £90 for “pay,” and ,£5,000 for “contingencies.” If we pass these items without any remark, things will go from bad to worse. In the case - of most Departments, the votes for “contingencies” amount to more than the votes for “pay.” I notice that in connexion with rifle clubs, sums are put down for certain States, while other States are not mentioned. I suppose that they will have to depend upon the good will of the Treasurer or the Minister of Defence, to get a slice out of this vote of ,£5,000 for contingencies. It is very singular that not a single penny is put down for. a State like Queensland, and that certain sums should be asked for other States. Now, Queens^ land is a very large State, which has sent Home some of the best riflemen who have left Australia. Since the Bill was distributed a few moments ago, it has been impossible “for any honorable senator to examine its contents, so that he might be in a position to properly criticise any items. I think that £5,000 is too large a sum to intrust- to the Minister to spend as he likes -in connexion with rifle clubs. No matter how we may object to the mode of expenditure, we shall be told hereafter that the money has been spent. I protest against the manner in which we have been passing Supply Bills, and I hope that next year the Government will give the Senate an opportunity, at least six months before the end of the session, to go through the Estimates, and criticise the expenditure in a proper manner. In most Parliaments, a Bill of this kind is introduced, and the debate is adjourned so that members can examine the schedule, item by item. But here, it has been the habit to take the Estimates page by page.
– That has only been done with the consent of the Committee.
– I am quite aware of that ; but it is not a good custom, and I hope that it will not be resorted to’ in the future. .
– I wish to know whether the Government is providing any money for the extra expenditure required to put the Post and Telegraph Department into an efficient condition ? From the progress report of the Cabinet Committee, I find that the Estimates for last year were cut down by £209,000, with the result that we all know. Not only is the Department undermanned, but the telephone and ‘ telegraph systems are in a very disorganized and incomplete condition. I should like to know whether the Government is making provision for the additional expenditure which will doubtless’ be required to put the Depart- ment in proper order. From paragraph 85 of the Cabinet Committee’s report, I find that a sum of over £2,000,000 will be needed to bring the telegraph and telephone branches up to the proper standard. It seems to me that the sooner we make a beginning with this work, the better it will be for us, and I should like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to tell us exactly what steps have been taken in that direction.
– I am sorry that Senator Sayers has left the Chamber, because he seems to have been going about with his eyes shut and his ears closed. Speaking from a considerable experience, I do not think that any legislative chamber is furnished with fuller details in regard to everything that is going on than is this Parliament. .Ordinarily, a Supply Bill is submitted in connexion with Estimates which show in detail ‘ the whole of the expenditure.
– Right down to a broom.
– Yes; with the most careful detail, the items of expenditure are given in the Estimates. When a Supply
Bill is submitted, all that honorable senators have to do is to refer to the Estimates- in-Chief, and there they get all the information which they require. But as regards this Bill, the position is unusual.
– It is a Supply Bill for next year, not for this year.
– Of course it is.
– There are no Estimates in connexion with this Bill.
– -Of course there are not, because the position is unusual.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
– As we have yet to deal with the Supply Bill’ and another measure in connexion with electoral expenses, and I am aware that another place is awaiting the passage of these Bills by the Senate before adjourning, I shall not occupy the attention of honorable senators very long. In connexion with the complaint made by Senator Sayafs, I point out that the usual practice is to introduce a Budget statement, which is, of course, accompanied by the Estimates, and these give full particulars of all expenditure, and form the. basis of the Supply Bills and, ultimately, of the Appropriation Bills that Parliament is called upon to pass. On this occasion, by reason of the extraordinary circumstances, with which honorable senators are acquainted, no opportunity has yet been afforded for preparing the Estimates for submission to Parliament. But the information requested bv Senator Sayers and other honorable senators will be fully, supplied in the Estimates when they appear. The honorable senator, taking up the Bill, noticed a vote for rifle clubs and associations for Victoria, and at once asked why there was no vote for that purpose for Queensland. If he had looked at page 21 of the Bill he would have seen that a sum of£4,075 is set down for rifle clubs and associations in Queensland. I can quite understand that the honorable senator had not the opportunity . to look into the various votes carefully. Senator Chataway reminded me of a certain statement made by Senator Millen regarding the method of dealing with the Treasurer’s advances. I am quite certain’ that the remarks of Senator Millen that have been referred to were made under a misapprehension, because they suggested some irregularity on the ground that the moneys appeared to be voted twice. It is admitted that Treasurer’s advances’ are necessary if the services of the Common wealth are to be carried on without interruption; They are required to meet expenditure for casual employment, repairs, and incidentals of every description. It would never do to have the Government of the country held up because there was no money available for incidental expenditure arising in connexion with the daily working of the different Departments. Whilst there may be some technical accuracy in the suggestion that the Treasurer’s advances are practically voted twice,’ what really takes place is that they are, first of all, voted in a lump sum, and afterwards, as honorable senators are aware, the detailed votes are submitted to Parliament in a Bill appropriating the various amounts. The wording of the application clause of the Bill covering ordinary votes appearing on the Estimates is -
There shall and may be issued and applied for or towards making good the supply hereby granted to His Majesty for the services of the year, such and such an amount, but in Bills submitted showing the detailed expenditure of the Treasurer’s advances, the wording used is -
There is, therefore, a clear distinction in the character of the appropriations referred to I think that Senator Millen.was quite satisfied on the point when he previously raised the question. The only other matter on which information was asked was that referred to by Senator Stewart ; and I have to say, in reply, that the Government have not yet had a proper opportunity todecide what additional staff shall be appointed in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. That can only be dealt with in preparing the EstimatesinChief. But, so far as the prospects’ of the year are concerned, and particularly in regard to the ordinary expenditure on buildings and works, the amount that will be asked for in connexion with the coming year will be £413,500, as against £363,410 for the current year. I admit at once that that is merely ordinary expenditure; but, in “dealing with. the Estimates, I have no doubt whatever that the fullest provision will be made for the staffing of the Department according to its necessities.
– What about the enormous vote for contingencies to which I drew attention?
– As my honorable friend must know, the details of the votes for contingencies are set out in the Estimates. I can hardly understand such a question coming from Senator Pulsford, in view of the fact that in the State from which he comes the practice in the State Parliament in submitting Appropriation Bills has not been to give full details of the expenditure, as we have alwavs done, but to group a large number of items together, and submit a lump vote to cover them all. I have no doubt that the honorable senator, who ‘is hungering for detailed information, will be fully satisfied when the Estimates are submitted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 to 4 agreed to.
Parliament Gardens - Australian Men of Letters Fund - Repatriation of Pacific Islanders - Commonwealth Offices, London - Advertising the Commonwealth - Electoral -Law - . Map of Australasia - Lighthouses - . Allowances to Public Servants - Military Officers Abroad - Explosion at Thursday Island - The Gunboat “Protector” - Plane Creek Central Mill, Telephone Line.
– I notice a vote of £123 for Parliament Gardens. This represents a vote of £493 for the year for looking after these gardens. . I wish to express the opinion for what it is worth that, from a horticultural point of view, the work done is not at all satisfactory. A large number of plants of the commonest and most inferior variety are. grown, when it would cost no more to grow very much better varieties of plants.
; - I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in connexion with the vote of £132 for the Australian Men of Letters Fund, whether any payments have been made from the fund, and, if so, to whom has the money been paid ?
– So far as I can learn no payments have been made from the fund.
– I wish to direct attention to the item ‘ ‘ Repatriation of Pacific Islanders, £1,500.” I thought that the Commonwealth had done with this business, but there still appears to be a considerable vote required to finish it. I should like some information on the subject, as I was under the impression that all claims in connexion with the repatriation of Pacific Islanders had been dealt with ?
– We have nearly done with it, but there are a few claims coming in, and this vote is necessary to meet them.
– In connexion with the item, “Advertising the Resources of the Commonwealth, £5,000,” I should like to know what progress, if any, has been made in connexion with the purchase of a site for the erection of . Commonwealth offices in London?
– One or two sites have been selected for consideration, but nothing definite has yet been agreed to.
– Can the Minister say when the matter is likely to be brought to a conclusion?
– At the present juncture we are not in a position to” say.
SenatorCHATAWAY (Queensland) [7.57] - We received some information some time ago from the Government in connexion with the proposal to advertise in the London Standard. Provision we were toldwas made for thirteen advertisements, at the rate of £64 each, which would amount to £832 for the quarter. I understand that two-thirds, and probably more of thee amount is being paid by the States, and in the circumstances, I should like to have some information in connexion with the expenditure of the balance of the vote of£5,000.
– The honorable senator is aware that certain steps have been taken towards advertising the Commonwealth abroad, and some expenditure is incurred in connexion with! the transmission of cablegrams by Reuter’s. This money is required to meet present contingencies. Although a general scheme for the advertising of the Commonwealth on a wider scale has not yet been formulated, such a scheme will, in due course, be submitted to Parliament.
.- On reading a copy of the Lone Hand, which has been paid a large sum of money by the Government, it seemed to me, from the letterpress and the illustrations, that there were only two States in the Commonwealth. Is it the idea of the Government to advertise the Commonwealth in that publication piecemeal, dealing with some States in one issue and other States in other issues ? Anybody outside would think, on reading the magazine, that the Commonwealth consisted of a very small area.
– Did’ it state whether all the sugar bounties went to one State?
– Honorable senators from Western Australia have not much to thank it . for, because I do not think their State was mentioned. Will the Minister state how much has been paid to the magazine, and what was done for that payment?
– The honorable senator is asking me to resurrect ancient history.
– A copy of the article with the Prime Minister’s compliments has just been circulated to honorable senators.
– The article was published in April or May of last year. Justice was sought to be done to all the States. An able writer was employed to deal impartially with the whole of Australia. I could not at present state the exact amount paid to the Lone Hand.
– In connexion with the item of £6,000 for “ expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act,” can the Minister of Home Affairs state what position the Amending Electoral Bill, the introduction of which to remove many of the abuses that exist under the present Act has been promised, will be given on the business paper of next session? It is an urgent measure, and should be one of the first submitted when Parliament reassembles.
.- I notice a sum of £500 “towards the cost of compiling a map of . Australasia.” I presume that this work has been authorized, and that there is no chance of retracing our steps, but the amount seems large. What will the total cost be, and when may we expect to see the map ?
– There is an item of £400 for “ fire insurance “ paid on something. Will the Minister of Home Affairs state what the insurances are effected on, because £400- covers a tremendous amount of insurance?
, - I am not in se position to tell Senator Needham what position the Electoral ‘ Bill will be placed in the programme of next session. The draft Bill has been in type at least four months,, and if opportunity had offered this session I should have had the greatest pleasure in introducing it. It is too late now to do so, as I am afraid the measure is somewhat contentious. If I thought I could get it through as it stood I should be happy to bring it on this evening and take advantage of the suspension of the Standing Orders. I could not say offhand the estimated cost of the map of Australasia referred to by Senator Lynch. I think it ic, about £2,500 or £3,000. I believe a previous sum of £500 was voted. The work is ‘being carried out by the different State Departments in co-operation. The drafting is being executed in the Lands or Surveys Office of New South Wales. That work is all done in one office to preserve uniformity. The necessary information is being supplied by the States, and’ errors- in existing maps are being rectified. It is estimated that the work will be completed in about two years from the time of its inception. These are progress payments. Additional assistance has had to be employed in some of the States and in the office where the map is being drafted. I may inform Senator Chataway that the £400 that he referred to represents “the fire insurance which the Commonwealth is bound to carry, on with respect to this building, under the terms of the contract with the Victorian Government.
– Do we get the money if the place is burnt down ?
– No; the Victorian Government still remains the owner and lessor. We receive the use of the building rent free, one of the conditions being that we shall maintain the gardens in proper order, and another that Ave shall keep the building insured against fire.
– How much is the building insured for?
– I am not in a position to say.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) [8.10].- There appears an item of £500 “towards the expenses of making inquiries and preparing plans for additional lighthouses required on the coast of Australia.” Can the Minister of Home Affairs state on what parts of the Australian coast it is proposed to erect those lighthouses?
– It is proposed to erect the lighthouses oh various parts of the Australian coast. We have had prepared a map of Australia, showing all existing lights, and have received numbers of suggestions for new lights at different points in all the States. Some of those suggestions have come from masters of ocean vessels and Inter-State steamers, and others from the boards of directors of steam-ship companies - some directly to the Commonwealth Government, and others through the States Governments. Copies of the map showing existing lights and suggested sites for new lights have been sent to each State Government with a request that its marine boards, or other such authorities,should report as to the advisability of adopting any of the suggestions. In accordance with the recommendations that may be received as to the order of value of those suggestions, it will probably be necessary to take steps to prepare preliminary plans in connexion with some, of the proposed new lights. They may be scattered along different parts of the coast, or congregated more in one State than in another. It is hard to say what the result of all these suggestions and their. analysis by the marine authorities of the different States will be. We are not depending solely on the reports of those State bodies, but, as a matter of courtesy, we should ask the States Governments for their views, as they have hitherto taken the responsibility for works of the kind. In order to expedite replies from the States, the suggestions received were not forwarded to the States, nor were copies of them, but an index, stating in respect of each light from whom the suggestion had come, was prepared, and the States Governments were informed that if they wanted further information with regard to the suggestion of any particular light, we would forward to them full particulars . of the suggestions regarding it. A great dealof information has come in, and officers are at present engaged in collating and analyzing it. This vote is also for any preliminary plans that may be necessary to give effect to suggestions that seem to be well founded, and as to which there will be no question, but it will not necessarily commit us to the construction of any particular light.
– About twelve or eighteen months ago, I saw a report in a scientific paper of a new system of submarine bells, with a receiving apparatus on ships to show at a considerable distance the direction in which the bells were submerged. That may be one of the methods adopted in the not far distant future to take the place of lighthouses. If the matter has not been gone into yet, will the Minister take steps to ascertain how far it has been investigated?
– There is another new system of having lights under water. It isnow in use in New York harbor.
– Hasany further consideration been given to a request preferred to the Treasurer for the payment of an extra 5 per cent. allowance to Commonwealth public servants in Western Australia? Is it intended to extend that 5 per cent, to those officers in the gold-fields areas who are in receipt of district allowances? Representations have been made with the object of having the 5 per cent, paid to all public servants in the western State, irrespective of theportion of the State in which they may be living. What steps have been taken in that direction?
– The matter mentioned by Senator Needham is at present under the consideration of my colleague the Treasurer.
– When does the Minister think that the Treasurer’ will finish his consideration?
– The Treasurer will have to come to a decision before he prepares his Estimates.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he can give any information in relation to the vote for the expenses of officers sent abroad for instruction or duty? The amount is £1,200. What is the number of officers, warrant and non-commissioned, who have been sent abroad, and what are they doing ?
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs able . to give us any information as to the investigation that has been made regarding the explosion at the fort, Thursday Island ?
– I cannot give Senator Needham information as to the number’ of warrant and noncommissioned officers who have been sent abroad. Had I had notice of his question I should have been able to supply particulars.’ But I can tell him that most satisfactory reports have been received. The officers havebeen qualifying in different departments at the military schools in England, and have apparently acquitted themselves satisfactorily. I feel sure that honorable senators will find that the money spent in sending some of our- officers abroad for instruction in special departments of Defence will have been very beneficially applied.
– I do not question the amount.
– I trust that they will not be put to office work when they return.-
– That is a matter for the consideration of the Minister. But honorable senators will find that after due consideration by him “ the proper thing will be done.” I have no information as to the inquiry -regarding the explosion at Thursday Island. As soon as information is available, my colleague, the Minister of Defence, will, I think, be only too willing to place it at the disposal of the public.
– I wish to ask a question in regard to the Protector. When that vessel is borrowed for the purpose of drilling the naval militia in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and occasionally in Queensland, is the pay of the men on board debited against South Australia? It ought not to be. It should be debited against Australia generally. The total amount voted for three months for the maintenance of the vessel and the crews is very small. I hope that this is not to be taken as evidence that the Treasurer will base his annual Estima’tes on the amount voted for three months. A sum of less than £3,000 for the maintenance of the ship, the cadets and the militia who are trained on board, is too small altogether. In fact, the Naval Forces are being absolutely starved, and men who ought to be eligible for our own service are going over to the. Imperial Service. The Minister should make a note of that point.
– I cannot furnish the honorable senator with exact details as to the principles on which an adjustment is made regarding the expenses of the Protector. Primarily and in the main they are charged against South Australia, because the expense connected with the Protector is regarded as transferred expenditure. But since the establishment of Federation, and more particularly in recent years, the Protector has been used out of South Australian waters. She has been employed for the training of the New South Wales.’ militia, and has also visited Tasmanian, Victorian, ‘ and Queensland waters for training purposes. When the Protector has on board crews from other States the expenditure is debited to those States. When she is in South Australia the pay of the crew is charged against South Australia. If she has Victorian men on board the proper proportion of the expenditure is debited to that State. The same applies when she is being used for the training of militia in New South Wales. I am not, however, acquainted with the precise details as to the adjustments.
– In reference to the votes for the Post and Telegraph Department, I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the money in these Estimates includes 4a sum that the Department has undertaken to pay to the Plane Creek Central Mill Company, Queensland, for the purchase of its telephone line which was erected at the expense of the company, and has since ‘ become the property of the Department. I made inquiries on the subject a little time ago, and was then informed that no funds were available for carrying out the agreement.
– I am not in a position to answer my honorable friend’s question. But, of course, this Bill is only intended to ‘..cover one quarter’s Supply.
– I thought I gave the Minister ample notice of the question. I shall be glad if he will be good enough to obtain the information, and let me have the reply in writing.
– I believe the honorable senator mentioned the matter to my secretary, who endeavoured to obtain the information on his own account, but it was impossible to do so, -because the office was closed. I will, however, make an inquiry, and let the honorable senator have the’ answer in writing. ‘
– Will it be in order for me to ask a question relating to the memorandum circulated with this Bill?
– The Bill does not deal with the matters mentioned in the memorandum.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Statement showing -
New proposals in connexion with “ Additions, New Works, and Buildings” for the Financial Year 1908-9, which it is considered should be commenced as early as possible after the beginning of the next Financial Year.
Total estimated cost of each proposal. 3: Estimated expenditure during the Financial Year1908-9.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate in this Bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of the Bill, as stated in its long title, is - to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for the purpose of reimbursing expenses incurred by candidates in connexion with certain elections which have been declared void and in proceedings in relation thereto.
In clause 2, the specific cases are men tioned. It will be recollected by honorable senators that the parties whose names are therein mentioned are those who participated in electoral contests for the House of Representatives in the case of the Echuca division in Victoria, at the last general election, and since, and for the Senate in the State of South Australia at the last general election, and since. It appears that on that occasion there crept into the conduct of the elections cer tain errors which afterwards were relied upon by the petitioners, who appealed to the High Court, acting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to avoid the elections. In each case, the election was avoided by the order of the High Court, and that necessitated a fresh election. The candidates who had taken part in the original election had necessarily been subjected to a certain amount of. electoral expense, and, seeing that the election was of no effect, it was deemed by the Government desirable that Parliament should be asked to charge against the Consolidated Revenue a sum to recoup them their expenses. Apart altogether from that expenditure, they were subjected, in several instances, to legal expenses in bringing the cases before the Court, either as petitioners or as respondents. In the decision which was given by the Court in connexion with the South Australian case, the presiding Justice intimated that under the Australian law he had no power, such as in similar circumstances, a Judge would have had under the English law, to order that a proportion of the costs should be paid by the officials. In those circumstances, I thought it was only reasonable that the implication should be read into his remarks that the petitioners and respondents in those cases should not be called upon to bear the costs. As a consequence, the Government have considered it desirable that the legal expenses to which those gentlemen were put in connexion with the legal proceedings arising out of the avoided election, should be reimbursed by the Commonwealth. The sum of £1,315 is appropriated by the Bill. But I wish honorable senators to understand that that sum has been arrived at by taking, first, in respect to the contestants, the filed returns of their expenses in connexion with the first election ; secondly, their reasonable personal expenses in connexion with that election, occasioned solely, by the fact that they were candidates - expenses to which otherwise they would not have been put ; and thirdly, their costs in connexion with the proceedings in which they participated as litigants arising out of the election. With regard to the last element in the amount of reimbursement to which we consider that they are entitled, the Attorney-General’s Department has had the matter under consideration. It has advised, in respect of each claim what is the maximum amount that should be allowed, and the maximum has been the actual costs which have been rendered against the particular persons by their legal representatives in the actions. In all cases, before any compensation . is made, there will have to be either taxation, if that is possible, “or, if not taxable, we propose to have the amounts claimed in regard to that department of expenditure subjected to the check and supervision of the Crown Solicitor of the Commonwealth, who will certify to the Government what is a reasonable thing as between the Commonwealth Government, and the party to be reimbursed. This sum of £1,315 will cover the claims, even if the full amount that is claimed as law costs is allowed in each case-
– Has not Mr. Kennedy sent in a claim in connexion with the Echuca election ? I notice that his name does not appear in the Bill.
– If honorable senators will read clause 2, they will see that it applies to all the candidates in connexion with that election.
– Does it include the expenses of Mr. Blundell?
– There is the election of Mr. O’Loghlin, too.
– It includes the expenses of all candidates in connexion with that election. Clause 2 says -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the sum of One thousand three hundred and fifteen pounds, for the purpose of reimbursing expenses incurred by candidates in connexion with the following elections which have been declared void.
It applies not merely, to those who have been elected, but to all candidates in connexion with the elections. .
– Iquite agree withthe Minister as to the necessity for passing the Bill ; but I think it is just as well that it should be quite clearly understood throughout the country that Parliament is voting these amounts because the mistakes that occurred in the election were the fault of public officials, and not due to anything that the candidates individually did. It would be perfectly absurd if the idea were to get abroad that when an election was upset, it followed as a matter of course that the candidates would be recouped their expenses. I take it that there is no intention on the part of the Government to recoup candidates where an election is upset on the ground of bribery and corruption.
– Oh, no.
– I think that a Bill of this sort was submitted on a previous occasion.
– No; a sum was provided on the Estimates in the case of the Melbourne election.
– Now that we are putting a measure on the statute-book, I certainly think that it should be clearly understood that the reason why it is done is because a fault has lain with the officials who were detailed by the Government to conduct the elections.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 16th June, at 2.30 p.m.
That date is mentioned in the motion, so as to allow ample time to get the numerous Bills, which have been passed by the Houses, assented to by His Excellency the Governor-General, but I think that honorable senators may safely rely upon it, that before that date arrives, there will have appeared in tne Gazette a proclamation announcing the prorogation of Parliament. I desire to thank honorable senators for the very generous consideration which they have extended to the Government during a very lengthy and arduous session. It is a matter of much gratification to reflect that notwithstanding the strong conflict of opinion which exists in the Chamber, the best personal good-will prevails amongst honorable senators. I am sure that the Senate is much indebted to you, Mr. President, for your able guidance during our deliberations, and I am sure that all that could be done has been done by you to maintain the best traditions of your high office. To Senator Pearce, as Chairman of Committees, we are also indebted. His work has been arduous, indeed. He has had a very hard time, particularly in connexion with the Tariff, and it is a source of pleasure to me to recognise the universal satisfaction which -he has given to honorable senators:
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– I also wish to acknowledge the able services which have been performed by the clerks at the table. We are indeed fortunate in having two such capable and experienced gentlemen here. The various attendants have contributed their portion towards the smooth working of the parliamentary machine.’ But I specially desire to acknowledge the splendid work which has been performedby the Hansard staff.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– I think that we have reason to be proud of our Hansard staff. I believe, sir, that throughout the Empire, there is no more capable, more conscien- t.ious, more efficient-
– Or patient.
– Or more patient workers in connexion with Hansard than we have in the service of the Commonwealth.
– They dress up all that the honorable senator says in a very nicemanner.
– I hope that they will continue to do so, for they cannot’ dress it up too nicely, so far as they are ‘ concerned. I think that honorable senators are desirous of acknowledging their indebtedness to the members of the Hansard Staff for the efficient performance of their work. Now that we are about to be released from .our arduous labours, 1 trust that honorable senators will enjoy the respite they have so richly deserved.
– When shall we meet again ?
– Nominally, on Tuesday, 1 6th June, but, probably, not until towards the end of September:
– I feel sure that if the leader of the Opposition were present, he would cordially indorse the .remarks made regarding you, sir, the Chairman of Committees, the officers of the House, and the Hansard Staff. The fact that the honorable senator is not here will be overlooked, in view of the urgency of his private affairs, but I thought that some member of the Opposition might reasonably, on his behalf, “indorse the remarks made by the leader of the House. .
– Before ‘ asking honorable senators to record their votes on the motion, I should like to say, in reference to the remarks made by my honorable friend, the leader of the Government in the Senate, .and by Senator Mulcahy, on behalf of the Opposition, that I most heartily reciprocate their kind expressions and utterances, particularly with regard to myself, the clerks at the table, and the Hansard Staff. I should like, also, to take advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge, on my . own behalf, the utmost courtesy, good-will, and -kindness, that I have invariably experienced at the hands of the members of. the Government in this Chamber, and of members of the Senate generally. It must always make for the efficient performance of our various duties that the officers of this Chamber, those associated with them, and its members generally, should agree so well as they do, at any rate outside the walls of the chamber, and that if differences sometimes take place within its walls, they are only differences of opinion upon matters on which each member of the. Senate has a right to his own. Whilst I acknowledge the assistance I have had from members of the Senate, and their courtesy and consideration,. I should like also to say that I most cordially indorse every word that has been said with regard to the officers at the table, whose services have been simply invaluable to me as President. I also heartily indorse the remarks made with regard to the Hansard Staff. It has been my fortune to come into frequent contact with the principal officers of the Staff, and I realize that they are actuated by one desire, and one desire only., and that is to perform their work efficiently and satisfactorily, and that, I believe, they have always done.
– Will you, sir, allow me, before you put the motion,, to say that I deeply appreciate the sentiments uttered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and Senator Mulcahy, and echoed by other honorable senators. I should like to’ say that I thank honorable senators for the consideration at all times extended to me in the performance of my duties in the Chair. There is no doubt that the session has been an arduous one,’ particularly on account of the passing of. the. Tariff. In somewhat’ trying circumstances, it is pleasurable to remember that I received the assistance of honorable senators, and their forbearance, in the performance of my duties. I should like to add my word of thanks, and of praise, to the officers at the table for the valuable assistance they have rendered me. I was somewhat fearful in accepting the position of Chairman of Committees, when I realized that we were to lose, for a time at any rate, the servicesof Mr. E. G. Blackmore, to whom I looked as one who would be a guide and counsellor to the Chairman, and a valuable man to have at one’s right hand. I can truthfully say, however,that in Mr. Boydell, I have bad a splendid guide and assistant in dealing with all matters that came before the Chair. I desire to thank honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 8.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 June 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080605_senate_3_46/>.