3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Regulations : Fruit Export Trade
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence without notice a question regarding the Commerce Act Regulations. On the 25th November he stated that an alteration of the regulations for the marking of fruit cases was under consideration. It is very advisable that fruit-growers should receive an early intimation of an intended alteration of any regulation. I desire to know if the honorable gentleman is prepared to give to the Senate any information on this subject?
– I have received no further information from my honorable colleague. Perhaps the best way to get the desired information will be for the honorable senator to give notice of the question for to-morrow.
– Arising out of the reply 1 desire to ask the Minister if the Government has yet received any request for the appointment of a Committee or Commission to inquire into the operation of the export fruit trade to other countries, in pursuance of a resolution come to at a recent meeting of fruit-growers in Franklin, Tasmania?
– To my knowledge no request has been made; certainly none has come before the Government as a whole.
– I understood that through a representative in this Parliament the fruit-growers were bringing the matter forward.
– I shall .ask my honorable colleague if tha question has been brought under his notice.
– May. I ask the Minister if he has seen the report of a deputation of fruit-growers to Senator Best, who promised to take the matter into consideration ?
– I have not seen a report of the meeting; but I shall draw the attention of my honorable colleague to that fact.
– I beg to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he has yet received any information regarding the amount of the bounty paid on smoked and dried fish?
– The information is being obtained.
– Is there any possibility of the Minister obtaining the information during this week?
– The Department hope to be able to supply the necessary information within a day or two.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Does the new definition of Fish, Preserved, under the Bounties Act, Statutory Rules, No. ug, restrict the bounty to fish put up in tins only, or embrace other forms of preserving?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, a question regarding the increasing use of oil fuel for marine engines, and a report to the effect that some time ago the Admiralty sent officers to Canada for the purpose of ascertaining what oil deposits it might have in view of future requirements for naval purposes. The question is - Has the Government received any communication from, or been approached in any way bv, the Admiralty with regard to Australia’s potentialities in that respect? If nothing has been done in that direction, will the Government ascertain what has been done by the Admiralty .with regard to the possibilities of obtaining oil fuel from Canada, and take such action as it may think necessary to bring under the Admiralty’s notice any similar deposits that may exist in the Commonwealth ?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the questions.
– I .beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he can tell the Senate the total amount at which the assessors have valued the properties transferred to the Commonwealth, and how the Government propose to pay for them ?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the questions.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Issue of Business Statements
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Referring to the statements, one for each of the six States, which have been issued by the Postal Department for 1906, is the Minister aware -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) The basis of classification of the business is the same though in some cases more details are given than in others.
Yes. The statement is only intended to show the business transacted at individual offices.
In connexion with this matter, Senator Symon asked a question to which I promised to give a reply.
– The honorable and learned senator ought to be here to ask the question. Perhaps it will be better for the Minister to wait until he is here.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the Old-age Pensions Act comes into force on 1st July next, will the Government, before the recess, make a statement on the subject of the finances and administration of the said Act?
– Theanswer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
In view of the statement already made by the Prime Minister, it is not considered necessary to make a further statement on this matter before the House rises.
– If I am not out of order, I wish to call attention to the fact that upon Friday last I gave notice of two questions which do not appear upon the business-paper. Presumably, they have been disallowed. At any rate, I should like to ask what has become of them ?
– It is quite true that on Friday last the honorable senator gave notice of two questions, the first of which related to the method adopted in the selection of the Prime Minister for his office, and the second to the selection by him of colleagues for Ministerial portfolios. The honorable senator withdrew the first question, recognising the true constitutional position. The Governor-General - that is, the Crown - makes his own selection of the Prime Minister, and, according to constitutional writers, that is the one personal act which is exercised bv the Crown. Of course, the Governor-General may, if he sees fit, seek the advice of the retiring Prime Minister as to whom he should intrust with the task of forming a new Administration. But there is no need for his so doing. The selection of his colleagues by the Prime Minister takes place anterior to their acceptance of office, and the negotiations preceding their selection are usually regarded as confidential between the Prime Minister and his colleagues whose names have to be submitted for the approval of His Excellency. I find that standing order 93provides that -
After notice has been given, questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs.
From May I learn that -
Questions addressed to Ministers should relate to the public affairs with which they are officially connected, to proceedings pending in Parliament, or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible.
It did not appear to me that the questions of which notice had been given by the honorable senator came within the category of “ public affairs with which Ministers are officially connected,” inasmuch as whatever took place between the Prime Minister and his colleagues took place anterior to the latter’s acceptance of office. The honorable senator’s questions, therefore, related to matters which might fairly be regarded as confidential between the Prime Minister and his col leagues. Of course, agreements may be arrived at between the Prime Minister and his colleagues in regard to certain matters of public business, and as to the course which shall be pursued in respect of them, and if these matters are referred to, it is within the competence of any honorable senator to obtain the basis of those agreements. But the questions sought to be put by the honorable senator did not seem to me tocome within the category of questions relating to the “ public affairs with which Ministers are officially con nected,” and, consequently, I did not feel warranted in allowing them to be placed upon the business-paper.
– May I add that if the honorable senator will make personal application to the Prime Minister, the latter will, no doubt, give him the information which he desires.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Act 1901.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being read a second time this day.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Bill be printed and read a second time at a later hour this day.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 74. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 121.
Amendment of Regulation 6. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 122.
New Regulation 121a. - Statutory Rules1908, No. 123.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 4th December, vide page 2725) :
Clause 4 -
The territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government shall contain an area not less than nine hundred square miles, and have access to the sea.
Upon which Senator Givens had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after “ and,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words, “ shall include in addition, a strip of land five chains in width from the Seat of Government to the sea at Jervis Bay for the purpose of railway communication, and an area of five squaTe miles fronting the foreshore of the said bay.”
– When this clause was under consideration last week, I moved the omission of the words “ have access to the sea,” with a view to securing the insertion of other words providing for the surrender to the Commonwealth of a strip of land five chains wide, from the Federal Capital to the sea, for the purpose of railway communication, and for the setting apart of an area of five square miles fronting Jervis Bay.
– Why not adopt the words “ not less than,” in reference to each of the proposals embodied in the amendment ? Those are the words used in the Constitution.
– I am not wedded to the exact words of my proposal, though I had a very good reason for adopting them. I consider that the area outlined in my amendment would be sufficient for Commonwealth purposes, and that its adoption would prevent further haggling upon this matter. The fact that the words “not less than “ are used in the Constitution has been made the centre, round which a storm of controversy has raged. However, if honorable senators prefer that we should employ the words which were used in the Constitution, I do not object to their insertion. Concerning our right of access to the sea, the words contained in the clause might be construed to mean anything or nothing. For a long time past, Senator P’indley has been talking about dirigible balloons, aeroplanes, &c., and the use of the words to which I have alluded might be interpreted to mean that the residents of the Federal Capital should be allowed to fly from that city by means of these appliances to the sea coast at Jervis Bay. I want to make the matter so absolutely clear and definite that there can be no dispute about it. One of the principal objects that I had in view was to provide that the railway line when constructed should be in Commonwealth territory. I do notwant the Commonwealth to be placed in the position of enabling a syndicate to get a franchise for the construction of the railway, which would, in consequence, be for all time subject to State law. I want the Commonwealth to be able to construct a line on its own territory, subject only to Federal control and jurisdiction. I think that every federalist must subscribe to the idea that if it is desirable to have railway communication from the Seat of Government to the sea, it is exceedingly desirable also that the railway should be entirely under the control of the Federal authority.
– The honorable senator is not asking for enough.
– I have had it fired at me from all sides of the Chamber that I was asking too much. All sorts of special pleading has been directed towards me. I came to loggerheads with the VicePresident of the Executive Council on Friday because I said that we should require a certain width of country to enable the railway to turn round sharp curves. The honorable senator did not think we should require any more land in rough country than on a level plain. But a merely cursory acquaintance with railway construction, without any knowledge of geometry or Euclid, would tell the honorable senator that when a railway contours round sharp curves, sometimes what is technically known as a batter is necessary, and the cutting runs very far back. In one case, on the Queensland railways, the batter of one in one is over 200ft. high, which means that the railway runs back nearly four chains. Therefore, my demand for a width of five chains is very reasonable. The total area involved is comparatively very small. It is said by some people that the distance from the proposed Seat of Government to Jervis Bay is only 60 miles. A width of five chains over that distance would be equivalent to 40 acres to the mile, so that the total area involved would be only 2,400 acres. The extreme distance that has been given is 93 miles. A width of five chains over that distance would mean only 3,720 acres. Again I point out that the land through which the railway will run is generally acknowledged to be comparatively poor and worthless. The line will have to go over ranges, and will cross a gorge which is practically useless for any ordinary purposes. New South Wales will reap enormous advantage from the construction of the railway. We should provide her with from 60 to. 90 miles of railway through what is at present, comparatively speaking, inaccessible country, and we should make such portions of that country as may be useful for agricultural, pastoral, or mining purposes, a valuable asset to the State. I am willing to give That advantage to New South Wales. With regard to the area at the seashore, the amount required will be set out bv the Commonwealth surveyors, who will indicate the most suitable place upon the foreshore of Jervis Bay. What I should suggest is that we should have a frontage of 2 J miles at a convenient portion of the Bay; giving access to ships with deep draught and suitable for providing them with anchorage and shelter. We should not require, I think, over 5 square miles, with a frontage 2$ miles to the sea. We should require it to give us the necessary harborage accommodation for stores at or near the wharfs, for naval stores, and for many other purposes. My request is on all grounds a very reasonable one,, which ought to be complied with. I spoke at considerable length on this matter on Friday, and should not have referred to it again, except that several honorable senators, who were not then present, haveasked me to state my reasons for the amendment in a concise form. My main object has been to place the subject beyond the region of discussion and dispute, lt is the business of this Parliament, in dealing with the question of the Capital site, to indicate clearly what it requires, and to insist upon what is; necessary within reasonable bounds. It is; not for this Parliament to go cap in hand to New South Wales and say : “ Please, sir, will you give us this, that, and the other?” It is our business to indicate clearly what we need, and so to strengthen, the hands of the Government in the negotiations which the Vice-President of the Executive Council tells us it c o m t e m p 1 a t es entering into. The New South Wales Government will also know what this Parliament would insist upon having.
– My contention is that what the honorable senator asks for is. not sufficient.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council held a different opinion last week.
– I did not.
– My contention isthat 900 square miles is not enough ; but I will accept such an area in order to havethe question settled. We have been told that we shall endanger the Bill if the amendment is inserted. The only, way in which the Bill could be endangered would be for the New South Wales Government not to agree to our very reasonable demands in this respect. After all the New South Wales Government has said about being willing to treat us fairly, why should it not agree to what we ask ? If the VicePresident of the Executive Council still’ thinks that the area that I ask for is not sufficient, I am willing to insert the words “ not less than.” Then the Government will be free to negotiate for as large an> area as it can get.
– The Bill as it stands will enable that to be done.
– It will do nothing of the kind. The Bill gives no indication whatever. It is an open secret that the New South Wales Government goes so far now as to tell us that it will not give us the 900 square miles that the Bill specifies.
– The honorable senator has no justification for that statement.
– We have absolute justification foi it.
– We have definite information.
– We are told we can have 500 square miles. There has actually been a move to canvass members of the Federal Parliament to induce them to say that we do not require 900 square miles, and to moderate our demands. I make that statement definitely on the floor of this Senate, and I can prove it if I am put to it. When this matter was previously before us, Senator Millen, one of the representatives of New South Wales, when I pointed out that we had no guarantee that New South Wales would treat us any more considerately with regard to Yass-Canberra than she had done with regard to Dalgety, stated emphatically that if I would move to have these conditions inserted he would support me. I am satisfied that as an honorable man he would redeem his promise to the full were it not that the Government had gone back upon him and upon the Senate. I cannot conscientiously accuse honorable senators opposite of having betrayed the interests of the Commonwealth in this matter when our own side has done the same.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “our own side?”
– I mean that the Government have done so for the sake of Cabinet solidarity, or some reason of the kind. Why there should be Cabinet solidarity on this question now any more than there was during the tenure of office of the last Government, and why the solidarity should now be in support of the views held by a minority in the Cabinet, I am at a loss to understand. It is well known that’ the majority of the members of the present Cabinet have been opposed to the selection of Yass-Canberra, but the minority have apparently been strong enough to force their opinions upon the majority. We have been told that the Government must give effect to the expressed wish of both
Houses of this Parliament. How was that wish discovered? The supporters of Yass-Canberra won in the Senate only after a tie, and in another place only because the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was absent through illness. Yet honorable senators are asked to break their necks in striving to give effect to an expression of opinion arrived at in that way. As Yass-Canberra has been selected, and the Government are apparently determined to force this Bill through, I claim the fulfilment of the promise of the leader of the Opposition to assist in the insertion of these very reasonable conditions. I commend my amendment to the good sense and patriotism of honorable senators, who, I hope, will stand up for the rights of the Commonwealth in this matter, and will not ask us to be continually kow-towing to the States rights crowd in New South Wales.
– I am astonished at the modesty displayed by Senator Givens. The honorable senator is not usually over-burdened with modesty. I do not care to characterise any proposal which he makes as ridiculous, but really it is ridiculous to propose that the strip of land we require to give access bv rail to the sea from the Federal Capital should be only five chains wide. We have streets in Adelaide that are nearly five chains wide. Senator Givens is asking for a strip of lr.nd about 100 yards wide, which could be covered in a hop, skip, and jump. I propose to move an amendment upon the amendment, substituting the word “miles” for the word “chains.” If we are to build a railway over this land we should derive some of the benefit of the increased value which would be given to the country through which the railway passes. Senator Givens has apparently entirely forgotten that.
– No; I said I was willing to give all that in to New South Wales.
– It might be as well to provide merely for “satisfactory” access to the sea, and that would certainly be better than giving the New South Wales Government to understand :that, in the opinion of the Senate, a strip of land 5 chains wide would afford satisfactory access to the “sea. I hope that the Committee will not think of accepting Senator Givens’ amendment.
– The honorable senator wishes to back up the Government’s proposal.
– As a matter of fact, I do not know what the Government’s proposal is, nor does any one else.
– That is rough on the Government.
– I make no reflection on the Government. What I mean is that the Bill provides merely that Commonwealth surveyors shall be given permission to survey the land, and report to Parliament what they consider would be reasonable access to the sea. Their report would have to be subsequently indorsed bv this Parliament. No matter how this measure is framed, honorable senatorsmust be aware that it cannot affect the final settlement ofthe question. We have to take into consideration the fact that the railway through this country will be difficult of construction. Speaking from memory, there will have to be a drop of 1,000 feet negotiated in a few miles, and that will require almost a zig-zag railway. If Senator Givens is willing to accept my suggestion, I shall be prepared to support him ; but not otherwise. The honorable senator also proposes that we should ask for only two miles of the foreshore of Jervis Bay. The foreshore extends for 200 miles, and it would be a serious mistake to inform the New South Wales Government that we require no more than two of the 200 miles. If Senator Givens is not prepared to agree to the substitution of miles for chains in his amendment;. I shall feel bound to do my utmost to prevent its acceptance.
– The Committee has first to decide whether certain words shall be left out. If they are left out, the honorable senator will then be able to move an amendment upon the amendment.
– I hope that Senator Givens will agree to Senator Storv’s suggestion. If he does not, I shall prefer to support the Bill as it stands, leaving the matterof the land to be acquired for the construction of a line to the sea to the result of negotiations between the Federal and New South Wales Governments. During the discussion of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, it was pointed out that the Western Australian Government were willing to give the Commonwealth, not only the land necessary for the construction of the railway line, but to reserve 25 miles on either side of the route, that the extra value given to land by the construction of the line might be retained by the Commonwealth.It appears to me that Senator
Story’s suggestion is most reasonable. We should be in a position to control and develop land immediately adjacent to the railway from the Capital to the sea. If we are not all Socialists, we should, at least, be practical people. I support strongly the suggestion of Senator Story, and trust that it will be accepted by Senator Givens.
. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment. If, sir,there were no other reason why it should receive my support, it is furnished by a speech which I came across the other day, and in which you pointed out very eloquently what the position of the Federal Capital would be if it were placed at the mercy of any State, and had no control over the railway therefrom.” Suppose, “ you said, “ I was about to buy a farm or a piece of land anywhere, would I dream of putting my money into the venture unless I knew that there was proper means of ingress and egress?”
– Does the honorable senator really imagine such a thing in regardto the Federal Capital?
– I do, and that is. the view which Senator Dobson expressed and which is recorded in Hansard. I recognise the full force of his contention that it is necessary for the Commonwealth to control the means of ingress and egress.
– The Bill secures that.
– No. It simply leaves the matter to the tender mercies of the State Government.
– It provides for access to the sea, which is all that the honorable senator is contending for.
– It does not say that the Commonwealth shall have control of the strip of land which would give access to the sea. The State Government may say, “ We are satisfied that it is necessary for you to be able to travel from your city to the sea. We are therefore quite prepared to meet you, and give you a sort of permit to travel.”
– It does not say so.
– It says thatjust as much as it says that the Commonwealth Shall have control over the land by means of which it will get access to the sea.
– If these words were good enough for Dalgety they are good enough for Yass-Canberra.
– They were not good enough for Dalgety. With regard tonegotiations, any one who chooses to refer to the file of correspondence between the Commonwealth and the State since 1904 will perceive what the object of the State has been during the whole period. There was no question of the State falling in with the desire of this Parliament. It simply flouted our desire on every possible occasion. Letter after letter was written by the Prime Minister, “first to Mr. Carruthers and next to Mr. Wade, and the State endeavoured to misrepresent things in such a manner as to convey to the public the idea that the Federal Parliament was endeavouring by ali means in its power to inflict an injury on the State.
– As the honorable senator is trying to do now.
– So far that has been the trend of the negotiations. The papers on the subject have been tabled and printed. Is it fair to ask the Commonwealth to submit to further treatment of that kind? No. By various methods a party has been able to get through the other House a Bill repealing the decision of Parliament. But there is a number of honorable senators who, although they may constitute a minority, believe that it is necessary for Parliament to have some sort of protection. If the whole thing be left in the hands of New South Wales, what shall we get? We shall obtain a patch of country, say, 100 square miles, and a strip of land, say,” a chain or a chain and a half wide, which would give us access to the sea at some point which, would suit the Premier of New South Wales. I am not disposed to be a party to anything of that kind. The other day Senator McGregor told’ us that in that regard we were asking for rather too much.
– I never said any- 1 -thing of the kind.
– The honorable senator said that we did not need 5 chains of land for making a railway line, as a chain and a half would be quite enough, and that probably New South Wales, in her generosity, would grant us 50 square miles on the foreshore. I do not expect to see any generosity of that kind meted out to the Commonwealth by the State. If our Capital is planted in the Yass-Canberra district, it will be necessary for the Parliament to have access to the sea, independent! v of the State. Further, Senator McGregor said that the Commonwealth would require to establish townships along the railway line, and that in some places it would be necessary for us to diverge from the line to the extent1 of two or three miles. He asked whether we did not think that it would be necessary to have road communication as well as railway communication from the Federal Capital to Jervis Bay. He pointed out that this argument was original, as Lt had not been used in the other place, and he wanted 10 know if honorable senators thought that in the Senate the Government were so devoid of originality that they could not manufacture arguments of that sort. It is not an argument of which the honorable senator should be proud. Suppose that Ave required a strip of land. of a certain width to build a railway line and that at the same time we wished to take in all the land on either side where it might be necessary to build a road. People would laugh at a suggestion of that sort. They would say, “ Build your railway line, and that is all that it is necessary for you to do. As regards the 0 planting of townships, we do not propose to allow you to make roads. That is a matter which is left to the local governing body.” I do not know whether Senator McGregor believes that it is necessary for the Commonwealth to step in and resume the whole power of that body in New South Wales so far as the making of a road to the sea is concerned.
– Will not the Commonwealth have any roads of its own?
– Not necessarily. Can the honorable senator mention any place where the State controls the roads alongside a railway line?
– Yes, I could mention any number of them in South Australia.
– Well, so far as I am aware that is the only State in which such control is exercised. As a rule, the State Government is supreme within the railway fences, and the local governing body has no right to go inside those boundaries, but it makes roads in the best way which suits local requirements.
– Suppose that we desired military roads for any purpose?
– Under the Constitution the Commonwealth is clothed with the necessary power. I believe that the Federal Government has the same right to use roads as has any other authority in Australia, and in time of war it is able to control, not only roads, but also railways for the purposes of military and naval transport. There is no reason to talk about interfering with the local governing body in New South Wales. When the Queensland Government wants to build a railway, it sends out men to make a survey, and when that work is completed, it deals with the owners of private lands. Outside of that the whole matter is left to the local governing authority.
– That is why there are no good roads in Queensland.
– I do not know that the roads are worse in Queensland than in other States.
– A long way worse.
– I do not know that in that regard things are worse in Queensland than in South Australia. All I know is that South Australia has not such a large mileage of roads to maintain as have other States.
– It has three miles of road for every mile in Queensland.
– It has nothing of the sort. I believe that if the roads were measured it would be found that Queensland has a far larger mileage than has South Australia.
– But they are bush tracks.
– No. Queensland has a larger mileage than is to be found in South Australia, including the Northern Territory, because in a great portion of the latter State there is no necessity for roads. If, however, camel pads are called roads in that State, I may as well admit that it has a larger mileage of roads than has Queensland.
– A good many of them are sheep pads.
– On a previous occasion the great argument adduced in favour of getting the right of access to the sea was that it was not desirable for the Commonwealth to be altogether under the control of the various centres of population. What has been our experience in that regard? For years we have been paying a naval tribute of about ,£200,000 a year to the Mother Country, and prior to Federation each State paid its own contribution. A n.umber of ships were sent out for which we were supposed to pay. There were docks in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Fremantle. In every State in the Commonwealth, the cry has been raised that, notwithstanding that it has been contributing a considerable sum annually to the naval subsidy, and that the vessels of the Imperial squadron in our waters are here supposedly in the interests of Australia-
– Why “supposedly”?’
– Because they may be ordered from Australian waters at any time. Their presence may be required 6,000 miles away.
– They can be ordered to any part of the world at a> moment’s notice.
– For our protection?
– In every State Parliament throughout Australia the questionhas been asked: “ Seeing that we pay so much towards the maintenance of these vessels, why do they not visit our principal ports;, and why are they not docked here? “ Not very long ago, the matter was brought under the attention of this Parliament. It then transpired that the value of the squadron to the port of Sydney is about £300,000 annually. Two or three years ago the Admiral stated that the ships obtained all their stores, and had all their work performed there, so that, from a business stand-point, their presence was a fairly good thing for that port. We require a naval base of our own, so that the parochial cry that the Commonwealth isspending some hundreds of thousands of pounds annually for the benefit of one r?ort cannot continue to be raised.
– That is rather anarrow view to take of the matter.
– I quite recognisethat. But there is only one way in which that view can be dispelled, and that is by the Commonwealth securing a port of its own in which it will be absolutely independent of the States. So long as Commonwealth money is expended more largely inone State than in another, so long will thisparochial feeling exist. If honorable senators will take the trouble to look up Hansard, they will see that some time ago the question was asked in this Parliament why the vessels of the Imperial squadron stationed in our waters did not visit Mel bourne more frequently, and how much their presence in Sydney was worth to that port annually.
– The presence of the squadron is not a bad speculation to Australia seeing that we pay the Imperial’ authorities a subsidy of ,£200,000 per annum, and receive back £300,000 per annum.
– I am not discussing that aspect of the matter. We should not pretend to be so independent as we proclaim ‘ ourselves, whilst loafing upon other people who are not nearly so well off as we are? The present arrangement with the Imperial authorities is a business one pure and simple. It utterly excludes al! moral considerations. I think it is absolutely necessary that the Commonwealth should have access from the Seat of Government to the sea. Senator Givens’ proposal does not ask very much at the hands of the New South Wales Government. He claims that the Commonwealth does not desire to take more land from the State than is absolutely required. He points out that by constructing a railway between the Sent of Government and Jervis Bay, we should enhance the value of a considerable portion of New South Wales, a portion which as yet that State has not attempted to develop. It will be seen, therefore, that from the Commonwealth stand-point, his proposal is a .generous one. Senator <3ivens has asked for a frontage to Jervis Bay of live square miles.
– That is not enough.
– It is not. But the honorable senator has indicated his willingness to accept an amendment providing that the frontage shall contain an area of “ not less than” five square miles. If that amendment be adopted, we shall then be required to trust the Government to open up negotiations with the New South Wales Government upon this matter. Now, experience prevents me from being enamoured of the system of entering into negotiations with that State. Under the Seat of Government Bill, which was introduced some time ago, it was proposed that a peg should be driven into the territory in the vicinity of Dalgety, and that that act should form the basis of a friendly suit, which should be brought by New South Wales, in the High Court. But the proposal was not satisfactory to that State.
– New South Wales wanted the Commonwealth to adopt that course.
– No. The late Prime Minister was perfectly prepared that a peg should be driven in the land in order that the validity of the action of this Parliament should be tested before the High Court. We ought also to put Ministers in the position of saying to the New South Wales Government,’ “You know the opinion of the Commonwealth Parliament upon this matter. It requires a certain area for the Federal Territory. A frontage of five square miles to Jervis Bay is not a very large one-
– A radius of five miles would be nearer the mark.
– That is so. We require a considerable water frontage. We need a port as a naval base, and a trading town as well, in some English ports, naval operations are carried on in one area, and the mercantile shipping is conducted in another. But, of course, those ports contain a much bigger area than five square miles. I do not wish to see the Commonwealth at the mercy of New South Wales in this matter. We have no guarantee that Mr. Wade will be Premier of that State tomorrow. Some time ago, the Sydney newspapers were wont to declare that Mr. Carruthers, the then Premier, was prepared to deal with the Commonwealth in a straight-forward honest way. But what happened? Just a re-shuffle of the political cards took place, and that gentleman dropped out of sight. Then Mr. Wade declined to be bound by the acts of his predecessor. Thus the Commonwealth is always at the mercy of the State authorities. If these negotiations are entered upon, we have no guarantee that they will not be upset in a week or two by a change of Ministry in New South Wales. The influence that has been brought to bear upon members of this Parliament to induce them to reverse their votes upon this question, has been, tremendous. A considerable number of honorable senators have been using their political and personal influence to persuade others to change their opinions upon it. Is it not better that we should arm the Government with the view which Parliament entertains upon this important question? They will then be able to approach the Premier of New South Wales, and to say, “ Here is the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament. It requires 900 square miles of Federal territory, and a strip of land not less than five chains wide, between the Seat of Government and the sea. It also requires a frontage of five square miles to Jervis Bay.”
– Surely the Commonwealth will have the land, along the railway line ?
– I do not think that we have a chance of getting that. If we were to declare that we must have that land, we should at once be met with the query, “ Why did you not include it in the area which you demanded for Federal territory. You asked for 900 square miles of Federal territory, and now you want another 200 square miles along the line of railway.” lt seems to me that when one goes to these people, they say, “ Oh, why not take the whole of New South Wales?”
– We could get five chains anywhere in New South Wales for making a railway.
– I am not so sure of that. As long as the Parliament of New South Wales thinks it is possible to shut us in, they will try to do so.
– What a pity that we are living amongst foreigners 1
– I remember an expression used by one of the Judges of the High Court in relation to the Surplus Revenue Act. He said that it seemed that the States regarded the Federal authority as a band of foreigners, who had no right to exist in Australia. I know that there is a feeling in nearly all the States regarding the power which the Federal authority thinks it has the right to assume. We had the Premier of Senator Mulcahy ‘s State, at a Conference of Premiers, agreeing to a resolution resisting the power of the Commonwealth to limit the size of wheat bags making the weight carried to be 200 lbs. He thought that 400 lbs. was quite a fair weight for a man to carry. Was that the act of a “foreigner”? I consider it to be necessary for the Federal authority to lay down a minimum, in order that there may be no mistake about our requirements. Otherwise political exigencies may cause this or some other Government to show a willingness to accept conditions which would not be beneficial to the Commonwealth. In that case, we might have the whole matter traversed again, and the same pernicious influences that have been exercised in this Parliament during the last couple of years to induce members to change their votes might again be used to induce them to accept any conditions with the idea of getting the question out of the way. I want to give the Government a lead as to what will be satisfactory to the Federal Parliaments If what we suggest is not considered, satisfactory, the whole question should be allowed to stand over until the New South Wales authorities are able to see things in a different light.
– There is one point which I should like honorable senators to remember in voting on the amendment, and that is the position in which we shall be as a Commonwealth in case this matter comes up for decision by the High Court. Suppo’se there is a dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government with regard to the area, and the matter is brought before the High Court. Even though judgment were given entirely in our favour, it could only be a decision with regard to what we have demanded, and we should be entirely out of court concerning other matters which all senators will recognise as being essential. If we do not set out in the Bill that we want, and must have, a certain area of land, and a certain portion of the foreshore at Jervis Bay, the High Court will say that we have no right to such an area, inasmuch as it was not included in the Act passed by the Federal Parliament. In that case, the Federal Government, in respect to its railway to Jervis Bay, would be treated in exactly the same manner as New South Wales would treat a private railway syndicate which secured the right to build a railway subject to State laws and State control. The State Government, in granting such rights to a syndicate, would lay down restrictions as to the maximum freight which might becharged, and as to the various other conditions. Do we want to be placed in that position in relation to the New South Wales Government when our line is constructed ?’ We want the railway to be under Federalcontrol only. We want the land at the sea shore to be under our jurisdiction, in exactly the same way. I insist that if we do not include such terms in the Bill, and the Commonwealth is hauled before the High Court, the Court can only decide in our favour in respect to those conditions which we have inserted in the measure. I commend that view to honorable senators who have the welfare and the dignity of the Commonwealth at heart. I commend* it especially to the Government, whose duty it is to safeguard the interests and dignity of the Commonwealth for the time being.
– I shall support the amendment principally with the object of. having inserted in the Bill a clear and definite declaration of our intentions. Any personwho has followed the transactions between, the Commonwealth and the States within- the last few years must have come to the conclusion that it is necessary, in any arrangement which we may make, to lay down our terms in clear and definite language. Although the Commonwealth has teen working under a Constitution which is framed in language so simple that he who runs may read, we have constant appeals to the High Court, involving very large expenditure, both on behalf of the Commonwealth and of the States. In the present Bill we merely ask, in a vague way, for access to the sea. It is certain that these provisions will be the subject of an appeal to the High Court. Although the Premier of New South Wales has expressed himself as being desirous to meet us in a generous way, for my own part, judging from the manner in which New South Wales has dealt with the question in the past, I have no faith in the generosity of that State in relation to the Capital site question. I hold that it is our duty to place our intentions on the face of’ this Bill in language as plain as we can use, in order that New South Wales and the High Court may know precisely what we mean. I am of opinion that the wrangling that ha.s occurred between the Commonwealth and States should be brought to an end. For that purpose we should make our meaning unmistakable. What possible objection can there be to Senator Givens’ amendment? It involves merely the acquisition of 3,600 acres of indifferent land. I have been trying to puzzle out what the objection can be. This cannot be said to be an extravagant proposition. One of the New South Wales public men, whose name I forget for the moment, has said that the quality of the land between the proposed Seat of Government and the sea shore is so indifferent that the New South Wales Government would have very little objection to granting a.ll that the Commonwealth required. We should leave no loophole for escape, or for putting a. wrong construction upon our meaning. What has been the chief reason urged for the repeal of the Act nominating Dalgety? It has been that the understanding was that the Capital should be within a. reasonable distance of the 100- miles limit. We have there a single expression that has been the cause of endless wrangling, and has ultimately induced the Federal Parliament to come to a different decision from that at which it arrived three or four years ago. What has been the principal cause for this Parliament changing its mind?
– This Parliament has never had the question before it previously.
– The Commonwealth Parliament is “ This Parliament “ for all time.
– The Commonwealth Parliament has had the question beforeit.
– Men change, but the Parliament is always here.
– New men are entitled to express their opinion, just as the members of a previous Parliament did.
– Then, we may have the next Parliament altering our decision.
SenatorMillen. - The honorable senator and his friends will probably try to alter it.
– I was trying to focus attention on the causes which induced the change of opinion. One of those causes is the vagueness of the expression used in the Constitution.
– No, that is an excuse, not a cause.
– Unfortunately, an excuse sometimes does duty for a cause. We should not enable the New South Wales Parliament to put any false construction upon the meaning we set forth in this Bill. What are the objections to tha amendment ? I have not heard of any, but I anticipate that it will be contended that this is an extravagant proposition. I have already met such a contention by saying that it involves the acquisition of only 3,600 acres to provide an ample roadway from the Federal Caoital to the sea.
– Not an ample roadway.
– Senator Story has suggested a strip of land five miles wide, but I think we should not seek to acquire territory which we should never turn to account. A strip five chains wide would be a reasonable demand, and one which we might expect would be readily conceded by the New South Wales Government. I was dealing with the change of opinion in the Federal Parliament which has led to the selection of Yass-Canberra after Dalgety had previously been selected. I say that this has, to some extent, been due to the vague way in which the States Premiers, at their Conference, prior to Federation, expressed themselves when they proposed that the Capital should be within a reasonable distance of the 100 miles limit from Sydney. It is that vagueness of expression which, in season and out of season, has been made use of as an excuse for worrying members of this Parliament to alter the decision previously arrived at.
– What members were worried?
– The honorable senator is at liberty to put the cap on if he thinks it fits him. I am concerned just now in directing attention to the necessity of being clear and definite on this occasion.
– How does the honorable .senator know that we should require a strip of land five chains wide?
– Senator Trenwith said that the strip should be five miles wide.
– If we increase the value of land by Commonwealth expenditure, we should secure some of the increment of value.
– I agree with the honorable senator on that point. There is no doubt that the establishment of the Federal Capital will largely enhance the value of land in its neighbourhood, but we must draw the line somewhere. I feel that the difficulty of fixing the limit within which land will be enhanced by value as a result cf the establishment of the Federal Capital will be so great that the Federal Parliament will scarcely be able to surmount it, and we could not ask the New South Wales Government to hand over to the Commonwealth the increment of value due to the establishment of the Capital in the case of lands beyond a reasonable distance from it. As showing the extent to which the establishment of a national Capital will, in a short space of time, enhance the value of land. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the experience gained in the rase of Washington, m where central lots which were secured for a very small sum a little more than 100 years ago, are now almost of fabulous value. From a paper bv John Addison Porter, published in Studies in Historical and Political Science, I quote the following reference to Washington -
The Government got seventeen of the choicest large plots in the city (such as the Capitol now stands on), or 541 acres for §36,000. The 10,136 “building lots which were assigned to the Government ultimately proved to be worth $850,000, though a considerable part of this sum was not accounted for by the Commissioners. Counting the public reservations and streets, the tract acquired by the Government was 600 acres in the hean of the city. The tract, to-day is worth, at the lowest estimate, more than $50,000,000. Washington was a shrewd financier, hut it is doubtful if he ever made so good a “bargain as this.
At page 9 of the same paper, the author, referring to a class of people similar to those who have been decrying Dalgety, says -
Lampooners described the spot on the Potomac as a howling, malarious wilderness. But as it was yet a paper city, the feelings of the inhabitants were not hurt. Meantime the gay and populous city of Philadelphia was the temporary Capital of the United States.
I make this quotation to show that a place, which was once described as “ a howling malarious wilderness,” is now the busy theatre of the energies of. 280,000 people.
– The same might be said of many other cities in America.
– That is so, but my point is that Washington’s progress and prosperity are due to its selection as the seat of the capital of the United States, and I have shown, on unimpeachable authority, that land in the centre of the city, which was once valued at $36,000, is now valued at no less than $50,000,000. Such an increase in value, following as the result of a decision by the whole people, should be secured to the people. I support the amendment, because it is necessary tha? we should recognise that in this matter we shall be dealing with a Government that in the past has proved itself capable, and I might also add, tricky. It is therefore necessary that we should be as explicit as it is possible for us to be.
– Would the honorable senator not support the acquisition of a wider strip than Senator Givens suggests?
– That might be justifiable, if the land were fertile, and would be greatly enhanced in value by the construction of the railway, but, in the circumstances, it would be foolish to ask for a wider strip of land than would be sufficient for the purpose for which we require it. Let me say that the selection of YassCanberra was, in a measure, forced upon the Senate, by a vague bluff that the New South Wales Government would deal generously with the Commonwealth if Yass-Canberra were selected. Honorable senators opposite will acknowledge that, and that being so, it is their plain duty to support the amendment to provide for the acquisition of a reasonable roadway from the Capital to the sea, securing a means of access, which cannot be questioned by the State Government, and which would insure to the Commonwealth Government any enhancement in the value of the land that might follow from the construction of the railway. I repeat that I am supporting this definite proposal to avoid further opportunities for friction between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales.
– The longer this discussion is continued, the greater the difficulty into which we appear to get. I desire that we should acquire a much wider strip of land than Senator Givens proposes.
– Then the honorable senator should vote to have the words left out that Senator Givens proposes to omit.
– If those words are left out, we shall have lost the right of access to the sea, and the Committee may not afterwards accept Senator Givens’ amendment. I suggest that the honorable senator should withdraw his amendment, and move the insertion, after the word “ sea,” of such a qualification as he thinks desirable. If he persists with his amendment, I must vote for the clause as it stands, and I now give notice to honorable senators that if Senator Givens’ amendment is negatived, I shall move the insertion after the word “sea” of the words “ along a strip of land not less than five miles in width, and specially reserved for that purpose.”
– That ought to kill the Hill from the honorable senator’s point of view.
– I am afraid that it is impossible for the average Labour member to agree with Senator W. Russell on a question of land values.
– The difference between the honorable senator’s proposal and Senator Givens’ amendment, is that the honorable senator wants a strip of land five miles wide, and Senator Givens would be satisfied with a strip five chains wide.
– No. The point is that if Senator Givens’ amendment is negatived, after the words “access to the sea “ have been left out, we shall have lost our right of access to the sea, and it is my intention to submit an amendment which would preserve that right, even though it should not be carried. Senator Story and I have expressed the opinion that a strip of land only five chains wide would be useless for the construction of a railway in virgin country. If the trees along either side of the route were to fall, they would reach across to the railway.
– I suppose that if no trees of that length were there the honorable senator would carry some there in order to support his argument.
– I think that the honorable senator would try to make the Senate believe that nature, knowing how the vote should be cast, arranged that there should be no trees on the land, and that therefore a strip five chains in width is quite enough for our purpose. If Senator Givens adheres to his intention to get the words deleted I shall be obliged to vote against him, and if his amendment is defeated I shall move the insertion, after the word “ sea,” of the words “ along a strip of land not less than five miles in width, and specially reserved for that purpose.”
– 1 have been trying to persuade myself to vote for the amendment, but the more I look at it the more unnecessary and undesirable it seems to be. This is not a Bill in which we ought to attempt to define, except in a general way, the area of land which we require. We shall certainly have to introduce another Bill such as that for the purpose of defining the Dalgety site, which was recently wrecked. That is the sort of Bill in which we should go into clear and definite details as to the exact outlines of the land which we wish to have surrendered for the purposes of the Federal Territory. I shall vote against the amendment, though at first I felt disposed to support it.
– I find myself in somewhat of a quandary as to what is the best thing to do. Unfortunately New South Wales has shown such an uncertain disposition in the past that we really do not know how to deal with her. The whole history of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and New South Wales have been of the most discreditable character so far as as the latter is concerned. Therefore it is extremely desirable that something definite should be set down in the Bill. Senator Trenwith objects to a grant of five chains.
– I do not think that we ought to define at all just now. This Bill will not give anything to us even if we do define it.
– That is the honorable senator’s reason, and probably it is a very strong one, but, on the other hand, if we do not define, the likelihood is that if we get access to the sea at all, which is by no means very certain, we shall get only a very narrow strip of country - a chain or perhaps two chains wide - with access to the sea, and perhaps a chain or two of wharfage at Jervis Bay. This afternoon we ought to try to agree to something definite as regards both the width of the railway line to Jervis Bay and the accommodation which the Commonwealth requires there.
– I submit that we are not competent to do that now. To define the matter absolutely we should require engineers reports, because what would be wide enough in one district would not be wide enough in another.
– That is all very good, and if we were dealing with people of an ordinary honest fair-minded disposition probably that would be sufficient, but we know that we are dealing with people who are saturated with the huckstering spirit of the police court attorney. That is, in one sentence, my opinion of the Government in New South Wales, which has had the management of the negotiations up to this point.
– Hear, hear, but is it not possible that in this proposal we are coming down to their level ? I am inclined to think that we are.
– I am trying to safeguard ourselves against the possible acts of people in whom we cannot have confidence.
– I think that we ought to put New South Wales out of the Commonwealth.
– No, if the honorable senator proposed to do that I should resist him to the very uttermost. I am sure that he would find no stronger opponent than myself. I am astonished that any senator coming from Queensland could father such a ridiculous, disloyal idea.
– The honorable senator made me believe that the State was so bad.
– The honorable senator is absolutely un-federal in his expression and ought to be called upon to withdraw it and to apologize to the Senate, not to speak of this Committee.
– It was on the honorable senator’s evidence that I was going.
– The honorable senator will get no help from me in that direction. I want to keep New South Wales within the Commonwealth, but I also desire to get fair play for the latter from the former if I can. That I admit is exceedingly difficult. New South Wales herself is not inclined to be fair. A number of the representatives from other States seem to be willing to allow the Mother State to tread upon them. They have abased themselves in the dust before New South Wales. Whatever it says they are quite willing to agree to.
– The politicians, not the people of New South Wales.
– The politicians speak for the people of the State.
– It would be idle for the honorable senator to come here and say that the Government of New South Wales does not represent its people, because it does. If it does not, it is the only representative authority we know anything about. It is useless for any honorable senator to insinuate that when we hear that Government speak we do not hear the people of the State speak. If the people do not approve of the conduct of the Government, their duty is to dismiss Ministers, and let us know exactly what they think about this matter. The negotiations from the very beginning prove to me that that State Government is opposed to the idea of a Federal port, and to the Federal Territory comprising an area of 900 square miles. That being the case, the Committee ought to be exceedingly careful as to what it does. We want access to the sea, ana an area of 900 square miles, and Senator Givens, by his amendment, proposes to fix a strip of territory five chains wide. I frankly confess that if I had been framing an amendment of this kind, I should have wanted a greater width than that.
– I intend to ask leave to alter the amendment so that it will read “not less than “ in both cases.
– That would be very much better, and in that event. I should vote for it with pleasure ; otherwise, I should feel that we were unduly restricting ourselves. We ought, however, to fix some limit. If we do not, the probability is that we shall find ourselves without access to the sea, because New South Wales is not at all scrupulous or careful to accommodate the Commonwealth, or to carry out her promises, or to abide by the Constitution. We concede a great deal when we depart from the fixed resolve of a previous Parliament to establish the Federal Capital at Dalgety. Now, let us be careful.
– Why did not the honorable senator vote for it?
– I did.
– No; the honorable member voted for Tumut.
– Any honorable senator who says that I did not vote for Dalgety simply knows nothing about parliamentary procedure, and evidently has not profited, as he might have done, by his opportunities. I shall explain the position.
– I rose above party politics.
– If the honorable senator will be patient, I shall explain to him exactly how the position stood. When we were dealing with the question, there was on the statute-book an Act which fixed Dalgety as the site of the Federal Territory and Capital, and when I voted for Tumut-
– I desire to know, sir, whether the voting in a previous division has anything to do with the question before the Chair?
- Senator Stewart is not strictly in order ; but perhaps, by way of illustration, he may be allowed to mention the matter. He certainly must not dwell upon it.
– I have no intention of dwelling upon this aspect of the question for an horur -and- a-half. I voted for Tumut; but it was defeated, and therefore Dalgety stood as my choice. The voice of a previous Parliament still spoke through the statute-book. I implore honorable senators to be careful in what they do. They are dealing with a most slippery customer. I do not think that in the history of any community, there is a record of such absolute turpitude as is the case in connexion with this matter. The more one examines the history of this question, the more one probes the motives of the Government of New South Wales and of some members of this Parliament who for one reason or another have endeavoured to upset the decision at which it previously arrived, the more one becomes disgusted, and is impelled to conclude that we must be very careful in our dealings with these people.
– And we must be careful of time, too.
– I have not been speaking very long. Apparently the honorable senator wishes to rush this measure through the Chamber. If he were sure of his ground, instead of attempting to burk discussion he would welcome it. I am surprised that a gentleman of his political persuasion, and one who lives “in the light,” so to speak, should endeavour to sneak a question of this importance through the Senate.
-The honorable senator is not advancing any reasons why the words proposed to be left out of the clause should be left out.
– I do not intend to pursue that line of argument any further. But I again ask honorable senators to be extremely careful-
– Oh !
– I would remind the Committee that Senator de Largie supported the selection of Dalgety on a previous occasion. He is one of those who have changed their minds on this question. I do not know what occult influence has been brought to bear on him-
– I have not changed my view. I am merely accepting the inevitable.
– There is nothing inevitable save death, and some persons tell us that even that is not inevitable - that it is our own ignorance which consigns us to the tomb. In any case, I am not going to accept the inevitable-
– Accept the clause.
– Not if I can secure its rejection. If the honorable senator were a better Australian than he is a New South Welshman he would be found, standing up for theCommonwealth, instead of being a member of the little Pedlington brigade-
– The honorable senator is not discussing the question which is before the Chair.
– To me the betrayal of public trust that will be involved in the passing of this measure is a very serious matter. I grieve for the conduct of some honorable senators.
– Will the honorable senator be good enough to address himself to the question that is before the Chair?
– I am endeavouring to impress upon the Committee the necessity for inserting in the Bill a provision which will have the effect of pinning New South Wales down to something definite. In the original Seat of Government Act we made everything as plain as possible, but yet that measure did not suit New South Wales. I did intend to go through the correspondence relating to this matter-
– Let us have it. It is valuable and historical.
– I believe that it is.
– And it is stale.
– It may be to the honorable senator, but it may be very wholesome for all that. I find that on the 8th September, 1905, Mr. Deakin, the then Prime Minister, wrote to Mr. Carruthers, enclosing the draft of “a Bill for an Act to authorize the survey of land in the State of New South Wales for the purpose of enabling the Parliament to determine more definitely within the limits mentioned in section 2 of the Seat of Government Act 1904, the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and the territory within which it shall be, and to provide access to the sea therefrom.” Clause 2 of that Bill reads -
For the purpose of enabling the Parliament to determine more definitely within the limits mentioned in section 2 of the Seat of Government Act 1904, the situation of the Seat of Government and of the territory to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth within which the Seat of Government shall be, and the area which it is necessary or expedient that such territory should contain, the Ministry may authorize a survey to be made -
of an area of one hundred square miles within the said limits; and
of a further area of eight hundred square miles, within the said limits, surrounding or adjacent to the said area of one hundred square miles ; and
of a practicable route in the State of New South Wales giving access to the sea from the areas above mentioned.
Mr. Carruthers wrote to Mr. Deakin on 14th September, 1905, objecting very strongly to the terms of the Bill. He was opposed to the measure itself in every particular. On 20th September, 1905, Mr. Deakin replied, as follows -
Melbourne, 20th September, 1905.
My Dear Mr. Carruthers,
Your letter of the 14th inst., which was received on the 19th, comes as a surprise, because it marks a new departure.
Why, there has been nothing but departures and surprises throughout the whole of the negotiations -
In yours of 21st August, you wrote, “ I shall be grateful if, for the purpose of furnishing a test case, you will take some step in the direction of asserting a right to the territory refened to in the Seat of Government Act, and then raise only the issues affecting the broad questions to be determined.”
The broadest question, as I have understood it, is whether the Federal Parliament has exceeded its powers in passing the Seat of Government Act 1904. In order to test its validity, you are now asking us to do something, i.e., drive in a survey peg - which it does not purport to authorize us to do. Such a proceeding could not possibly test the validity of the Act. We, therefore, proposed to supplement that Act by another, purporting to authorize us to do precisely what you ask us to do, and no more. Such an Act, authorizing a survey for the purposes of the Act of 1904, must clearly stand or fall with the latter, and enable its validity to be tested. The Court could then deal wilh most of the fourteen related issues which, in your letter 1st August, you desired to have submitted to it.
Yet you now object to the draft Bill, although it confers no new and independent powers, and merely presents a simple legal method of action for carrying out the existing law. By no other means known to me can the question of the legality or illegality of the Seat of Government Act 1904, and its several provisions, be fully determined. Without what may be called consequential legislative authority, to drive in a survey peg as you suggest, which, after all, would merely supply the machinery for giving effect to the principal Act, would probably lead only to a technical decision quite apart from the merits of the case.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that there is a good deal in that correspondence which is not relevant to the clause under consideration. The honorable senator is reading about the survey of land, and the Committee has under consideration the question of granting the Commonwealth access to the sea. We are not now dealing with the area of the Federal Territory or with the absolute site of the Federal Capital.
– I wish to point out that the correspondence in question relates to the copy of a draft Bill which Mr. Deakin forwarded to Mr. Carruthers, and which contained a provision for granting the Commonwealth access to the sea. I am now endeavouring to show what is the attitude of New South Wales towards the Federal proposal that the Commonwealth shall be granted access to the sea.
– But why fight that proposal, seeing that this Bill insures to the Commonwealth access to the sea?
– The Seat of Government Act 1904 provided for access to the sea, but the Commonwealth did not secure it. If we pass this Bill, what guarantee have we that we shall obtain access to the sea at all, or that we shall be granted anything more than a narrow strip of country on which to erect a single line of railway?
– We might adopt the mono-rail.
– I hope that we shall. The Commonwealth will have to construct a railway from the Seat of Government to the sea. It should not only have absolute control over the land on which the railway is built, but should be complete master of the territory. One of the reasons for that is that if the Commonwealth builds a railway from the Seat of Government to the sea, the result will be to increase the value of land on both sides of the line.
– Not necessarily.
– The cases in which the building of a railway has not increased the value of adjacent land have been so few and far between that we may take it as a rule that public expenditure of this kind does increase the value of property. I have no desire to “ stone-wall “ this Bill. I am aware that, no matter what arguments are brought forward, not a single vote will be changed. But I think that I owed it to my electors to let them know that I have done my best to prevent the accomplishment of what I consider to be a crime against the Commonwealth. This is one of the most important questions we shall ever be called upon to settle. Yet we see a scuttling away from the splendid position taken up by the first Parliament which dealt with the matter. It is extremely disheartening. In 1904 there was not a word of opposition to the 900 square miles proposal, nor to the idea of access to the sea. The impression conveyed to our minds was that we should have a wide strip of country from the base of Mount Kosciusko to Eden, of which the Commonwealth Government would be sole owner, and over which it would have complete control. But now the conditions have been whittled away, until I should not be surprised if the Commonwealth was ultimately confined to the paltry ten miles by ten area mentioned in the Constitution. I recognise, however, that the numbers are up, and that our cause is down for the present. Provincialism rules the roost. It is to be hoped that a future Parliament, purged of its present parochial elements, will alter the work of this one.
– To meet the criticisms of honorable senators as to the form in which the amendment should be submitted, I now beg to ask leave to withdraw it, with a view of mov ing an amendment in another form. I may intimate that if my new amendment is not carried, the words “ have access to the sea” will remain in the Bill. The VicePresident of the Executive Council strongly objected to the Commonwealth being limited to five chains for the strip of land to Jervis Bay and to five square miles at the bay. I have, therefore, inserted the words “ not less than “ in both cases to meet that objection.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Givens) proposed -
That after the word “ and,” line 4, the following words be inserted: - “shall include, in addition, a strip of land not less than five chains in width from the Seat of Government to the sea at Jervis Bay for the purpose of railway communication, and an area of not less than five square miles fronting the foreshore of the said Bay.”
.- The insidious manner in which the New South Wales senators have abstained from discussing Senator Givens’ amendment indicates that they are determined, by hook or by crook, to get the Bill through as speedily as possible, in order to placate one State irrespective of the desires, the wishes, and the interests of the people generally.
– Is it not a fact that a certain section of senators are trying, by hook or by crook, to kill the Bill?
– A certain section of senators are determined, by adopting legitimate parliamentary methods, to see that the people’s interests are safeguarded. I agree with Senator Stewart that the clause under discussion is of paramount importance to every citizen.
– After a little time the present amendment can be withdrawn, and it can be proposed again in another form.
– The eagerness of some senators to get the Bill through at express speed is very unusual.
– The speed is funereal, not express.
– As a rule, the honorable senator who interjects is funereal in the expression of his views on questions of the day. But on this subject every New South Wales senator is in a hurry. They will not even discuss it. The clause as it stands in the Bill is vague, indefinite, and ambiguous. It might mean anything or nothing. What sort of access to the sea would the clause secure to us? Senator McGregor says that we can leave that matter in the hands of the New South Wales Government. I am not prepared to leave a national question in such hands; and I am surprised that the Federal Ministry, considering the peculiar disposition manifested, not only by the present New South Wales Government, but by the previous Premier, Sir J. H. Carruthers, should be prepared to trust them,.
– Why should not the honorable senator trust his own Labour Government ?
– I am not here to support even a Labour Government in carrying a Bill which I think is inimical to the interests of the people of Australia, no matter how much anxiety may be manifested to rush the measure through. Senator Givens submits a request that we shall secure five chains of land between the Seat of Government and the sea for the purpose of railway communication. He has amended his amendment in the hope that the New South Wales senators, in order not to jeopardize the Bill, will support it.
– Vain hope.
– I do not despair of that amendment being carried, because honorable senators opposite, when convinced by the force of arguments addressed to them, have before now voted for amendments submitted from this side. If the amendment is not carried, I hope that Senator Story will then submit his proposal for the acquisition of a strip of country five miles wide. We should see that there is nothing indefinite about any legislation we pass. If the amendment is carried, we shall be in a perfectly safe position should the New South Wales Government, at a later stage, be disposed to test the validity of this measure. If a definite proposal is not embodied in the Bill the Commonwealth mav become involved in litigation which will cost thousands of pounds. We know that persons have prosecuted suits at law in various Courts, and after spending thousands of pounds, have not arrived at finality. Should war be declared in this matter between the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments, it will not be mere play. To a Government desiring finality in respect to a matter in dispute, money is, to some extent, no object. Unless these conditions are definitely embodied in the Bill, there is great danger that public money may subsequently be wasted in a vain endeavour to get justice from the New South Wales Government. It may be said that the present Government of that Stateexpress the opinions of the people, but with all deference to those who hold that view I say that the opinion of the people of New South Wales as a whole has never been sought in connexion with the Capital site question. It is true that interested politicians and powerful newspapers have raised a cry, and have endeavoured to make the people of New South Wales believe that there is a conspiracy at work, particularly in Victoria, to do something unfair to the State of New South Wales. As water continually dropping upon stone will make some impression, the continual reiteration of these untruthful statements has created a certain impression in the minds of some of the people of New South Wares. But they can rest assured that there is no desire on the part of the people of Victoria, or of their representatives in Parliament, to do anything wrong or unconsitutional in dealing with the Capital1 site question. The people of this State have expressed their choice -without ambiguity. Nine out of every ten persons in the State I represent favour the selectionof Dalgety as the site of the Federal Capital.
– I think that a quorum should be present to listen to such, important statements. [Quorum formed.]
– I have no desire to waste time in discussing this Question, and I wish honorable senators who haverecently made their appearance in thechamber to understand that the bells wererung to secure a quorum, not at my instance, but at the instance of Senator W.. Russell, who favours the selection of YassCanberra as the site of the future Federal” Capital. I was giving reasons why .SenatorGivens’ amendment should be agreed to. We should be absolutely certain about the area of land which the New South Wales Government is prepared to set apart for.Commonwealth purposes. In this matter,. I decline to leave anything to chance. Evenif we could stretch our imagination so far as to believe that the Wade Government is prepared to meet the Commonwealth in> every conceivable way, we cannot forget that Governments come and go, and wehave no guarantee that the Wade Government will be in power in New South Wales when we meet after the next recess. Thepresent Federal Government may be unable to retain possession of the Treasury bench/ after the next elections, even though they should be able to hold office up to that time. New South Wales representatives in this Chamber have everything to gain by supporting the amendment. If it is carried, I expect there will be very little further opposition to the passage of the Bill. Some honorable senators opposite may be under the impression that honorable senators on this side desire to “ stone-wall “ the measure, but no arrangement of the kind has been come to, and in supporting Senator Givens’ amendment, we have no wish to unnecessarily delav the settlement of this all-important question. We shall, however, be prepared to take every step necessary to see that justice is done to the peonle of the Commonwealth, and that cannot be. secured if the Bill is permitted to pass without some substantial amendment on the lines suggested by Senator Givens. A Federal railway between the Capital and the sea is imperatively necessary, and it must be constructed in Federal Territory.
– How does the honorable senator propose to pay for its construction ?
– That is a question which should be asked of the Government. It: is estimated that such a railway must travel from 60 to93 miles over country very difficult for railway construction. I am not as familiar with the nature of the country, or with the cost of building a railway as are some other honorable senators, but those who know something of these matters inform me that the proposed line would cost any sum of money ranging from £500,000 to £750,000.
– The representative of the district in the State Parliament has said that the land is of such a character that the State could afford to give it all to the Commonwealth.
– In any case, no matter what the value of the land may be - whether it be cheap or dear - that will not affect the cost of constructing the line.
– No; but it is very rugged country.
– That only emphasizes my statement ; and, although it may be true that the land is poor, and that some of it may be considered waste land, the expenditure of£750,000 in a district like Yass-Canberra will enhance the value of land for miles around. To whom ought the enhanced or community-created value of the land belong? Every pound spent by the Commonwealth in constructing rail ways and depots, and also the stores and buildings necessary for its requirements at the sea-board, will have enhanced the value of land in other directions, and, unless this amendment be made, the people of the State will get those advantages. However, if it is not carried, Senator Story hasintimated that he will submit an amendment, and if his be carried, it will enable the people to get back at least some of the increased value of land. I do not want to take up more time just now in supporting the amendment of Senator Givens. But I hope that, as promises were held out that he would get support for it from some of the representatives of New South Wales, they will be carried out. If those honorable senators are not faithful to their trust, it will only lead one to believe that, like the Government of their State, they want this Bill to be passed as quickly as possible, no matter what it may contain, and not to embody any binding conditions. I was hopeful that the Government would) have seen their way clear to accept the amendment.
– Now that I have altered my amendment to meet their contention, they ought to accept it.
– If we had thought that it was a wise one, we should have introduced it in the Bill.
– If the Government claim that they are the very embodiment of the wisdom of the wise, and that no person, not even one of their supporters can put forward an amendment or a suggestion which is worthy of consideration, they cannot have much consideration for their supporters, or they must have a rather lofty notion about their own importance.
– Our difficulty is to find supporters.
– We are standing by that which we have supported ever since this question came before the Senate, and the only regret is the change of front on the part of members of the Government who strongly favour Dalgety, and have been as strenuous in support of it as are any honorable senators, who to-day intend to vote for this amendment. The unfortunate position is that five or six weeks ago, certain members of the Government were vigorous advocates of Dalgety.
– Does the honorable senator think that that is relevant?
– These remarks were provoked by the interjection of Senator McGregor, that it is difficult for the Government to find supporters. True, it is difficult to find such a change of front on the part of certain honorable senators, as has been the case in connexion with the Capital site question by certain members of the Government. I do not want to say anything further just now.
– Hear, hear !
– I do not know why Senator Russell of South Australia should have said that.
– For the honour of the Labour Party.
– If the honour of the Labour Party on this question is to be established by the honorable senator, he is in a hopeless minority, because he is the only member of that party who is supporting Yass.
– Will the honorable senator address himself to the question before the Chair?
– Surely, sir, if an honorable senator is permitted to make an interjection when I am about to close my speech, you will permit me to reply to it, otherwise he should not be allowed to interject.
– Senator W. Russell will withdraw his approval of the honorable senator’s action if he likes.
- Senator Millen, who has been absent during my speech-
– Does the honorable member expect me to stop and listen to this?
– I am not concerned as to whether the honorable senator is present or absent when this amendment is being discussed. I know that no arguments will convince him that it is right.
– We have not vet heard ar.v.
– That is what those who want the Bill to be put through here and now have been saying ever since any opposition was offered to it. They are discreet in their silence. If, in their opinion, no arguments have been adduced by me, surely of the several speakers one must have said something which should appeal even to the greatest dullard, and call forth a reply. But at times we have not evoked even an interjection. I hope that the amendment will be carried, and that Senator Millen, who assured Senator Givens that he would support a proposition such as is embodied therein will be true to his pledge.
– I did not.
– Undoubtedly the honorable senator did.
– As the honorable senator is leader of the Opposition, he can, if he is true to his pledges, bring a number of supporters with him. If that is done, the amendment will be carried, little or no opposition will be shown to the Bill, and it will go through all its stages probably before dinner-time. However, if the honorable senator is not prepared to stand by his promise, probably a few more amendments will be submitted in the hope that the Bill may be made a better one than it is.
.- There has been a very interesting debate on this amendment, and, strange to say, not a single contention has been brought forward against it, nor could a single word, I venture to say, be said against it. The amendment, as originally moved, has been withdrawn, and recast to meet various objections which have been made, and especially has it been recast to meet those of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. His great objection to the original amendment was that it would unduly confine and limit the Government in their powers of negotiation with the State Government. As it has been recast, they will have ample room and freedom to negotiate for as much territory as they please. One of the Minister’s contentions was that at various places along the railway line, we might want a far wider area than five chains, and that it would be wiser to leave to the Government the power of negotiation so that they may take as much, or as little, as they want. The amendment, as re-cast meets” that objection, and will still leave the Government free to negotiate for as wide an area as they think desirable, or procurable. The Minister’s other great objection was that the amendment also asked for an area of five square miles fronting Jervis Bay. As re-cast it will give the Government ample power to negotiate for an area of fifty or 500 square miles there. I think that they ought now to support my proposal, otherwise the Committee is entitled, I submit, to some expression or guidance from them on this matter. I hope that before the amendment is put, the Minister will let us know the reasons that animate the Government in opposing an amendment which has been re-drafted and re-moved to meet their original objections.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Givens’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Croft) put -
That the following words be added: - “along a strip of land not less than five miles in width and specially reserved for that purpose.”
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister may, for the purposes of any survey of land with a view to ascertaining the territory proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government, enter upon and remain on any lands whether Crown lands of the State of New South Wales or not, and do thereon all things for the purposes of the survey, and shall do no more damage than is necessary.
The Commonwealth shall, out of moneys appropriated for the purpose, make compensation for any damage done to the property of any person in the exercise of powers conferred by this section.
– This clause is designed to empower the Commonwealth to authorize surveyors to enter upon and survey the land that is required for the Seat of Government. But under this provision, our surveyors will have no power to survey the strip of land that is required to enable the Commonwealth to obtain railway communication with the seaboard, or the area which may be needed at the coast. I therefore propose to submit an amendment the adoption of which will empower the Government to authorize their surveyors to survey both the railway route and the land that is required at Jervis Bay. I move -
That after the word “ Government,” line 5, the words “ or for railway communication with the seaboard, or the area required at the seaboard,” be inserted.
That will have the effect of rectifying what I regard as an important omission from the Bill and of making it more workable from a Commonwealth point of view.
– Imay inform the Committee that this question has already been under the consideration of the Government, and if Senator Givens will take the trouble to peruse the clause closely, he will find that it will empower the surveyors of the Commonwealth to enter upon any land for any purpose connected with the survey of the Federal Territory. If it were necessary for them to enter the city of Sydney for any such purpose, they would have power to do so under the Bill. I can assure the Committee that no difficulty can possibly arise in that connexion, and as honorable senators are anxious to bring the session to a speedy termination, I think that they ought to accept the clause in its present form.
– I contend that the clause does not empower the Government to do all that has been stated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Apparently, his desire is that we should slum everything in order that we may get into recess as soon as possible. I know that only a day or two ago the VicePresident of the Executive Council himself considered such an amendment necessary. The real trouble is that he is afraid to allow this Bill to be returned to another place with an amendment. Rather than incur any risk in that connexion he is prepared ,to accept the measure in an imperfect form. That is a condition of affairs which is not creditable to the Senate. It is not creditable to us that we should be asked to set our imprimatur of approval upon an imperfect piece of legislation which will not accomplish all that we desire. The only reason urged why this clause should be adopted is that there is a general desire that the session should be concluded as early as possible. Whatever work we do should be done in a proper fashion, and not in a slipshod style.
– The blame will be on the majority if the work is not properly done.
– Why should there be any blame on anybody ? I have moved no amendment which has not been designed with the object of improving the Bill. If I wished to kill the measure, I should move contentious amendments, that would enable me to talk for a week without any particular relevancy. I contend that the mere fact that Parliament desires to shut up, is not a sufficient reason for refusing to make amendments which, on the face of them, are necessary to improve the working of the Bill, and which the members of the Government a few days ago admitted were necessary.
– If there were any doubts as to the power of the Commonwealth to make a survey it would be necessary to amend the “Bill. But I have no doubt that the clause as it stands gives us unlimited power to survey. The object is to discover what territory it is proper to hand over to the Commonwealth. We have previously said that we desire to have access to the sea. This Bill gives power to survey wherever we think it desirable. The Seat of Government will be within an area of 900 square miles. The whole of that area has to be defined.
– - A tract of land to the flea is not absolutely necessary, though we think it desirable.
– The area to be surveyed is, in the first instance, the area of 900 square miles. That area can be of any shape that we desire. It may be a circle or a square. We have also stipulated for an area giving us access to the sea. The Bill gives power to survey that area. We have ample power under the measure to go outside the constitutional limits for the purposes of our survey. I think it probable that the clause as it stands gives us greater power than it would if amended as proposed by Senator Givens. It is comprehensive. The question will probably have to be decided whether the Bill in whatever form we pass it is not contrary to the Constitution ; but that is a matter into which I do not desire to enter.
-47]- - Senator Givens’ amendment should commend itself to the Committee. Under the Constitution, there seems to be no authority for the Commonwealth to send its officers within the 100-miles limit for any purpose. The amendment should be viewed in a calm light. It simply empowers a Federal officer to go inside the 100-miles limit to survey a piece of land on the fringe of Jervis Bay. It is a simple proposal. It is all very well for honorable senators to say that the clause is all right as it stands; but if they really desire to make it “ all right “ they should not object to insert these express words. I had intended to move an amendment having a similar effect, but shall vote for Senator Givens’ proposal in preference to my own, my only object being to place the position of the Commonwealth in a clear light, so that the New South Wales Government will not be able to prevent us from going within the 100-miles limit. Our principal aim is to choose territory outside, not inside, that limit. But we also desire to choose territory that is within 100 miles of Sydney. If those who have been so silent in their opposition to necessary amendments can show me that there is a course open to us rendering Senator Givens’ amendment unnecessary, I should be glad to hear them. Otherwise, I must vote for the amendment.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council tells us that the clause as it stands provides that the surveyors may go upon any land in. New South Wales. It does nothing of the kind. The clause simply gives power for the surveyors to go upon Crown land within territory not exceeding 900 square miles in area.
– Nonsense; there is no way of finding out even the 900 square miles area unless the surveyors have ample power.
– It is geographically known where the limits of an area 900 square miles, including Yass-‘Canberra, would take us to.
– That cannot be known until the territory is surveyed.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is surely wrong in saying that the clause gives us the right to go on any land in New South Wales. lt does not.
– It does not matter, anyway.
– It is annoying to those who desire to elicit information from the Government to have members of the Opposition saying that the question does not matter.
– Ali the information was given on Friday.
– We ought to have information on the question that has now been raised by Senator Givens.
– Could the honorable senator make the clause more comprehensive than it is?
– I could not make it more comprehensive, so far as it relates to the Capital site ; but for the purpose of surveying the land that will give us access to the sea, why not take the same power as we take with reference to the Capital site? We need to make a survey along the tract to the sea, and around Jervis Bay- I shall support the amendment unless we hear from the leader of the Government good reasons why it should not be agreed to. Within my experience, the member of a Government in charge of a Bill always replies to arguments in favour of amendments.
– I have made my remarks upon the amendment.
– Surely we are entitled to some reply to the arguments that have been adduced since Senator Givens moved bis amendment. Evidence has been brought forward in a respectful manner, and the Minister should give us the opinion of the Government on the situation! created by the amendment.
– At Senator Croft’s request, let me say that I have already made a statement that this very amendment was considered by the Government, and it was conclusively shown that it was not necessary, because, unless we desired to go outside New South Wales altogether, the clause, as it stands, gives us all the liberty we require. We can enter upon any Crown land in New South Wales, or the land of any private individual, for the purpose of ascertaining the territory proper to be granted to, or acquired by, the Commonwealth, for the Federal Capital.
– It must be outside the 100-mi/es limit.
– It may be anywhere in New South Wales, whether outside or inside the 100-miles limit. We might send our surveyors by bait from Melbourne, to Sydney, and they might sur:vey the country from there to the site chosen for the Federal Capital. They would have power under this clause to do so. New South Wales, or Victoria, if the site of the Capital were adjacent to the Victorian border, has power under the Constitution to cede as much territory to the Commonwealth as it pleases. It is only the Seat of Government that must not be within the 100-miles limit. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the Commonwealth receiving hundreds of thousand of square miles of territory from any State that may wish to grant it. For the purposes of this survey, power is given under this clause to our surveyors to enter Crown lands or private property in any part of New South Wales.
.- I think the Vice-President of the Executive Council is labouring under a mistake. The plain reading of the clause is that any person thereto authorized in writing by the Minister might, for the purposes of any survey of land, with a view to ascertaining the territory proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government-
– Survey any land he pleases.
– Nothing of the kind. He could only survey land proper to be granted to, or acquired by, the Commonwealth for a certain purpose. He could not, under this Bill, for instance, go outside the Yass-Canberra district. No one can say that it would do any harm to accept my amendment.
– I am not sure that it would not restrict the power of our surveyors.
– It would not restrict their power. The clause gives power only to survey lands proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for a certain purpose.
– It does not say so. It gives power to survey any land for the purpose of ascertaining what land should be acquired for that purpose.
– Owing to the way in which the last clause has been passed, the railway giving access from the Capital to the sea might have to be constructed upon land which could not be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth. In nearly every State in the Commonwealth private syndicates have been given the right to construct railways, but no territory has been granted to them on which to construct those lines. We require a survey of the route over which the proposed railway should pass. But power to make that survey is not given by the clause as it stands.
– I hope that we shall not build a railway on any land which does not belong to the Commonwealth.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council, by the way in which he has dealt with the previous clause, has done his best to put us in such a position that we may have to do so. There is no provision in the clause now giving us the right to survey land which is not proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government, and unless we make such a provision, the High Court will not be able to give us the right to survey land at jervis Bay. I wish, if possible, to prevent unsuitable land at Jervis Bay being foisted upon us. We can only do that by making provision for a survey beforehand. I believe that the interests of the Commonwealth have been largely sacrificed by the provisions of the Bill so far agreed to; but before it is finally passed I hope some action will be taken to insure that the interests of the Commonwealth will not be entirely overlooked.
– It seems to me obvious that we have power under this clause to enter upon any land in New South Wales for the purpose of ascertaining what land it is proper to acquire or have ceded to us for the purposes of the Seat of Government. In deciding where the Seat of Government is to . be, regard must be had to means of access to the sea. How such means of access could best be provided could only be ascertained by a survey. Regard must also be had to the possibility of the establishment of docks and arsenals in a convenient position, and where it would be most advantageous to place them could only be ascertained by means of a survey. It is obvious that the clause as it stands gives an unlimited power of survey. It might be necessary to survey an area that we have no intention to include in the Federal Territory in order to ascertain whether it is such country as it is desirable should be adjacent to the Federal Territory. I am confident that any endeavour to define the power of survey in the way proposed would only restrict the operation of the clause. Wherever we define we render it impossible for us to go beyond our definition.
– Then why put in the qualifying words as to the purposes of the Seat of Government?
– Because the only object of the Bill is to acquire territory for the purposes of the Seat of Government. We have decided that we require 900 square miles.
– In the district of Yass-Canberra.
– That is so, but in this clause we take power to survey any land, not in order to acquire it but for the purpose of ascertaining what land we ought to acquire or have ceded to us. We might survey 1,800 square miles or 5,000 square miles, in order to discover the territory proper to be granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Givens’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the word “ Government,” line 5, the words “ within or outside one hundred miles of Sydney,” be inserted.
The simple, unadorned purpose of my amendment is to make it absolutely certain that, in the event of any trouble arising between the State and the Commonwealth, the latter’s surveyors shall have the right to go either inside or outside the 100-miles limit. We are assured by certain honorable senators that those officers should go inside the limit right up to the Sydney Post ‘ Office. If that be the case, why should any objection be offered to the expression of that power in the Bill?
– Because we do not want to waste time.
– The best way in which to conserve time on this amendment will be for honorable senators to agree to it without discussion, and, in order to prove my sincerity in that regard, I submit it without further comment.
.- I hope that the Committee will agree to the insertion of the words. I well remember that another Bill was vigorously opposed by certain honorable senators, on the ground that if Federal .surveyors entered South Australia, and attempted to put a peg in any part of it without the permission of its Government, they would probably be told to shift their instruments and clear out of the State. Their strong argument at that time has an equal application in respect of the survey of the Capital site. I am not too sure that, in the absence of the amendment, our surveyors would be permitted to go here, there, and everywhere in New South Wales. The probability is that its Government would take objection to their presence outside a. certain area.
– How could it say that a surveyor was outside any area, when no area had been defined?
– We want to get at some finality. 1 know that the Government is anxious to push the Bill through, and to get into recess, but holidays do not concern me for the moment. I am concerned about this amendment.
– I should not like to be a Labour Minister, and have the honorable senator as a supporter.
– I am not here to support the Labour Ministry in respect of any Bill which does not involve Labour principles. No Labour principle is involved in this Bill. I am not bound to support every clause of a Bill, nor am I bound to support every amendment submitted. It was because I noted the reasonableness of this amendment that 1 rose to say a few words in support of it, believing that it meets with the approval, if not of a majority, of a section of honorable senators who desire to see justice done to the Commonwealth and its citizens. I hope that the Government will not offer any strong objection to the proposal. They have offered objections to every amendment material to the making of a good Bill. We had a good Bill when Dalgety was the choice of the people.
– In this Bill we are making the best of a bad job.
– Yes, we have to take things as they are for the moment. We have an opportunity of making some amendments if the Government will only extend their support to them. We are supporters of Ministers, and surely there ought to be a give-and-take policy on their part. This amendment has been submitted by one of their staunchest supporters. Whatever may be said by them respecting support, or want of support, on my part with regard to the measure, that cannot be said in respect of him.
– He has been in the same lobby with the honorable senator all the time.
– No j he made a bolt a little while ago. He decided that, as the Bill was destined to pass, he would not offer any further strenuous opposition to it. I feel sure that he submitted this amendment in the hope that the Government would yield to his persuasive powers, and give it that support to which it is entitled.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Lynch’ s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Sub-clause 2 provides -
The Commonwealth shall make compensation for any damage done to the property of any person in the exercise of powers conferred by this section.
Have we any way of regulating the matter of the compensation to be paid to persons in respect of damage to their property ?
– We shall be told to trust the State Government.
– No, the Labour Government.
– The Labour Government might not be in power when the time arrived for dealing with the claims made. I believe that we should not be discussing the question of the Capital site to-day had another Government been in office. When we are discussing the terms of the Bill, we should certainly settle important points, according to the wish of a majority. I am not aware of any power which the Commonwealth possesses to decide a question of compensation ; and, in order to get some information on the point from the leader of the Government here, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ the amount of compensation to be so paid to be fixed by arbitration.”
The laws enacted by this Parliament are sometimes voided by the High Court, and, therefore, it behoves us to declare our intentions as explicitly as possible.
– Is not the power which the honorable senator seeks already embodied in the Lands Acquisition Act?
– I shall be glad to hear that it is so.
– I trust that the amendment will not be carried. Its adoption would mean that every settlement in connexion with claims for damage by Federal officers would have to be effected by resort to arbitration, no matter how small might be the amount involved.
– How does the Government propose that the amount of compensation pavable shall be determined?
– I hope that in the great majority of cases it will be determined by amicable agreement between the Commonwealth and the individuals concerned. In the Lands Acquisition Act-
– But this clause does not provide for the acquisition of land.
– Provision for the payment of any damages that may be done by Commonwealth surveyors is already contained in the Lands Acquisition Act. But I hope that we shall have no occasion to avail ourselves of that provision. I trust that in most cases a settlement will be arrived at between the Commonwealth and the individuals concerned. In any case, the damage done by surveyors will not be of such a character as to involve the payment of much compensation.
– Everybody will echo the wish which has been expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that claims for compensation for damage done by Commonwealth officers will, in the majority of cases, be settled by mutual agreement between the parties. I am quite sure that Senator Croft is willing to agree to a proposal that his amendment shall apply only after all endeavours to arrive at such an agreement have failed. I venture to say that no honorable senator can point to provision in an Act which will meet cases which may arise under this clause.
– The laws of every State contain plenty of provisions for controlling matters of this kind.
– But we are not going to be controlled by the State law.
Silling suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.- Under the terms of this amendment, may I ask what method will be adopted in determining the amount of compensation to be paid ?
– When I submitted the amendment I had in view-
– We know the view with which the proposal was submitted.
– Then it is not necessary for me to inform the leader of the Opposition. But, for the information of Senator Findley, I desire to say that my object was to elicit from the Minister a statement regarding the means which the Government propose to adopt in determining the compensation payable in respect of any lands acquired by the Commonwealth for the Federal Territory. I had in my mind the possibility of claims being made willy-nilly, and of the Commonwealth being robbed as a result.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has already explained that the method of determining compensation is provided for in the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906.
– Pie stated that he thought the necessary provision was made in that measure. If I have his assurance that such is the case, I will willingly withdraw my amendment.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) (7.47]. - Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I intimated that I was certain that in the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906 provision was made for the method of determining the compensation which should be’ payable in cases such as that which we are now discussing. I find that, in regard to the power to survey, section 21 of that Act contains a similar provision to that which is contained in this clause. Further, sections 31 to 38 provide for almost every possible contingency in the settlement of claims for compensation. In the first instance, provision is made for a settlement being arrived at by mutual arrangement between the Minister and the claimant. Should the offer finally made by the Minister not be accepted the claim becomes a disputed claim, and may be brought before the Court, but ira no case can the Court grant an appeal to arbitra tion in the absence of the consent of both parries. Under this amendment, however, Senator Croft proposes that resort shall be had to arbitration in o all cases in which a dispute arises. I well remember the argument which was used at the time the Lands Acquisition Act was under consideration. It was pointed out that New South Wales and the other States were constantly being robbed as the result of resort to arbitration. For that reason, the Government intend to adhere to the clause as it stands.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The amount of the compensation to be paid by the Commonwealth for any land to be acquired by the Commonwealth within the territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government shall not exceed the value of the land on the eighth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and eight, and in other respects the provisions of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906 shall apply to the acquisition of the land.
.- I should like some information in regard to this clause, which declares that the price to be paid by the Commonwealth for lands acquired within the Federal Territory shall not exceed their value on the 8th October of the present year. I wish to know by what means the value of lands upon that date will be ascertained?
– It will be well known.
– The probability is that, anterior to that date, there was an advance in land values in the YassCanberra district. We know that for some time past a very large section in New South Wales has regarded it as absolutely certain that Yass-Canberra would be selected as the site for the permanent Seat of Government. As a result, land values in that district have been enhanced-
– Mr. Reid found that the farmers in that district fear that their lands will be absorbed in the Federal Territory.
– Surely they are not afraid that injustice will be done to them?
– What date does the honorable senator suggest?
– I am not suggesting any date. That matter may be the subject of an amendment at a later stage.
I merely wish to know how the Government intend to ascertain the values of land in the Yass-Canberra district upon the date specified ?
– In New South Wales, is there not such a thing as land valuation for taxation purposes?
– That method of determining land values does not always give satisfaction. Are the lands to be valued by local assessors?
– Does the honorable senator want the names of the assessors inserted in the Bill?
– I want something more definite than is contained in this clause. There is no doubt that a large area of land will be acquired. There will not be much difficulty in obtaining the Crown lands for the Commonwealth. But if the farmers have a fear that their lands will be acquired, the probabilities are that they will place a higher value upon them, in consequence of that fear. Will the Minister be kind enough to inform me and other Government supporters as to the approximate value of the lands that will in all probability be acquired by the Commonwealth, and the area of Crown land in the vicinity of Yass-Canberra?
– Did the honorable senator obtain that information as to Dalgety when the Bill with regard to that site was under consideration?
– Dalgety represented a well defined area, and we understood exactly where it was. We knew the area of Crown land and privately-owned land within the area. But we understand that in and around Yass-Canberra there is very little Crown land.
– Senator Stewart said on Friday that Yass-Canberra was a Godforgotten country, which was unoccupied.
– I agree with Senator Stewart that a good deal of the country around Yass-Canberra is God forgotten, but there must be land of some value, or farmers would not be there. In regard to Senator Mulcahy’s statement, that farmers hnve approached him in fear and trembling about their fate, I would say that as the Labour Party did not support YassCanberra, the farmers evidently think that they have something to fear at the hands of those who supported that site.
– I know that Senator Findley’s anxiety for information is very great, and
I shall endeavour to satisfy him. He ought to be just as well satisfied in this case as he was when he supported the same method of ascertaining land values in 1904.
– Circumstances have changed since then.
– We shall see whether the circumstances have changed, or whether it is the honorable senator’s disposition that has changed. In 1904, a date was fixed in the Bill, and it was determined that the price paid for land acquired was not to exceed the value on that date. Why was that done? The object was to prevent the purchase and repurchase of land for speculative purposes. Four years have elapsed. “ The scene is changed,” to quote an expression well known to the honorable senator. It would be very unfair to put land-owners in any part of New South Wales back from 1008- to 1904 in reference to land values. The reason why the 8th October has been inserted in this Bill is that it was on the 8th October that the resolution was carried in the House of Representatives choosing. Yass-Canberra instead of Dalgety. Every fair-minded man must admit that the dateon which the alteration was made is thedate that should be fixed for valuation purposes. When the resolution was carried on the 8th October, there was just the same chance of one place being accepted as another. Senator Findley also wants to know the method to be adopted in arriving at land values on the 8th October. I haveto inform the honorable senator that the method to be followed is that laid clown in the Lands Acquisition Act, from section 31 onwards. The method is briefly as follows: - The claimant puts in his claim. If an arrangement can be arrived at between him and the Minister, well and good. If not, the claimant becomes a disputant, and the matter goes to Court. The Court has to be guided in arriving at a decision by the value of the land on the 8th October, 1908. The honorable senator may ask how the Court will find out the value of the land on that date. The answer is that the Court will ascertain the value of the land as assessed for taxation purposes. If the claimant asks more than the land wasassessed as being worth for taxation purposes, he will not get it. The assessments for municipal or shire rating purposes may also be taken. The Court may beguided by such data. It will be far better for a claimant to state an honest value, and come to an agreement with the Minister thanto go to Court. But if he chooses to go to Court, he will have to be content with the method laid down in the Lands Acquisition Act. I think that information should satisfy Senator Findley.
– There will also be compensation for compulsory taking.
– No doubt in cases of severance, there will have to be some arrangement; but that is a different thing from the resumption of a man’s estate. Senator Findley also wished to know how the land around Yass-Canberra is occupied at present. He is probably as well aware as I am that there is not nearly so much Crown land in the Yass-Canberra district as there is in the Dalgety district. Senator W, Russell’s explanation of that fact would probably be that the land at Monaro is not so good. I do not agree with that view. I think the explanation is that the Yass-Canberra district has been made more accessible to farmers. Consequently, they have settled there. But, nevertheless, there is not a great number of farmers In the district. The land is mostly held in large estates. I remember being on one occasion at a place called Bungendore. In conversation with a very old resident of that part of the country, I asked him how the land was held. He said that there were very few farmers there. I asked whv. He replied: “All the country that you can see is held by three families.” As Senator Findley is one of those who desire to burst up big estates, he should on that ground be glad that the Commonwealth is to acquire property at Yass-Canberra. The small farms in the district are not so ni’merous as they ought to be. Some of the country is very good in quality, and some of it is comparatively inferior, but when it is resumed by the Commonwealth it will be at the value at which it was assessed on the 8th October,1908. I think Senator Findley has now been given sufficient information to satisfy him for one night, and I hope he will permit the Bill to be passed.
Clause agreed to.
This Act may be cited as the Seat of Government Act 1908.
– I wish to move the insertion after the word “Government” of the words “and Surrender to Sydney influence.” If that amendment be accepted, the title of the Bill will then be “ The Seat of Government and Surrender to Sydney Influence Act 1908.”
– I cannot accept such an amendment as relevant to the Bill.
– I am sorry to hear that, because I believe the persistent barrackers for the Yass-Canberra site would have been prepared to support such an amendment if they were given the opportunity.
Title agreed to.
Bill, reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) put -
That the report be adopted.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I have much pleasure in rising to support the third reading of this Bill. The action which I took on the motion for the second reading brought certain members of the Senate like a hornet’s nest about my head.
– The honorable senator ought not to go into that now.
SenatorW. RUSSELL. - It is all very well for Senator de Largie to say that, but I have my honour to maintain. I shall be careful what I say, but I intend to have my sav. I am very pleased indeed to see the change that has come over the scene, and to notice the alteration in the divisions, not only here, but in another place. I do not intend now to make a long speech. I said a good deal on the second reading, and gave some of my colleagues in the Labour Party something to chew. I was frequently accused of voting with honorable senators opposite who differ from me upon other matters. But on a question of so much importance to the Commonwealth I could not do other than I have done.
– That is, vote with the Conservative Party.
– If I did so it was because in this case the Conservatives were right. I should like to remind honorable senators that I am one of six members of the Senaterepresenting South Australia, and of the six we have four supporting this Bill. There were at one time no greater opponents of the proposal which it embodies than Senators McGregor and Pearce, and where are they now ? They have been converted.
– What converted them?
– I was compelled to sit here when I was being bombarded by Senator Findley and others, and, feeling that if I was singular I was right, I was prepared to face, the storm. What has happened in another place? Exclusive of the Speaker, South Australia has twelve representatives in this Parliament, and out of that number Yass-Canberra has eight supporters. That is something to be proud of. I do not stand alone now. I have not changed, but others have come to my way of thinking. The Commonwealth is going to derive a benefit, and I am abundantly satisfied. I know nothing of Sydney influence.
– The honorable member likes Sydney, for all that.
– I do, and am going to see it on Saturday next. Sydney influence had nothing to do with me. Not one representative from New South Wales approached me on this matter until I had decided what course I intended to take. I assure the Senate that after I saw Dalgety and Canberra, more than a year ago, I made up my mind, and have not wavered since then.
– See Dalgety, and die !
– Honorable senators knew what I thought of Dalgety then, and I have not changed in the interval. They can talk as they please about Sydney influence, and all that sort of thing. But I have risen above such considerations. I have done what I believed to be my duty. There is one thing for which I am sorry. Although I was theonly member of the Labour Party here who voted in favour of the Bill at its second reading, I was proud to see an opponent of it, and a colleague of mine, telling for the ayes in the division on the motion to adopt the report, and twentyfour senators voting in favour of the Bill, and five against it.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The honorablesenator was teller for the ayes on that occasion.
– No, I told for theayes on the motion to suspend the Standing Orders, when the voting was twentyfour to five.
– The honorable senator’s attitude throughout the day was different. Apparently he had cooled down so much that he wanted to get the Standing Orders suspended in order to let the (Bill get fair play. I am not an egotist. After I had seen the Yass-Canberra district, I expressed my opinion, and, as a result, I am proud to see Senators McGregor and Pearce sitting where they are. Long may they remain there. Whatever influence Sydney may have exercised on some honorable senators, I was not approached, and I feel sure that those hardshell irreproachable leaders of the Labour Party were not approached from that quarter.
– We succumbed to the honorable senator’s eloquence.
– Is not the honorable senator a little suspicious about these sudden conversions?
– The honorable senator belongs to Melbourne, and with him it is Melbourne first, and Melbourne last. He is an extreme parochialist. From time to time he has pitched into me. I should like to show him a better example. When I heard some of the great speeches which he and a few others made here today, I was sorry that they belonged to that distinguished party - the Labour Party. In my opinion they wasted much time to-day for no purpose, and instead of reaping any profit from the discussion the ayes who voted for suspending the Standing Orders so as to allow the Bill to pass were counted by one of their warmest supporters, and twenty-four senators declared in favour of the motion. The way in which matters have turned out ought to be satisfactory to the Commonwealth and to some extent to New South Wales.
– It is a national blunder.
– I dare say the honorable senator thinks, because he represents Melbourne, that he must talk in that way. He wants to get into the good graces of the Age, but I rise above all those things. I am from South Australia. I said that I would exercise my own judgment, and I did. I get credit and blame for the result, but I am abundantly satisfied. I have done what I believed to be my duty and without praising myself I can say, with all modesty, that several members of another place have told me that on account of what I had said in reference to Dalgety and Canberra, they were prepared to act on my advice, which they did. That is something to be proud of. Thank God, I have done my duty and saved the Commonwealth.
– I should not have risen but for the attempt made by the last speaker to misrepresent my action. Until he was brought up by an interjection he said that I had changed my vote. The records will show that from beginning to end it has been given consistently against the Bill. His attempt to fasten upon me a vote to allow the Bill to pass through its final stage was, I think, cruel and uncalled for. Any honorable senator who possesses any parliamentary experience and has any gumption is always prepared at the end of a session to suspend the Standing Orders for the purpose of enabling a Bill to be put through whether the request comes from the Opposition or from the Ministry.
– No; only if he favours the Bill.
– At the end of a session honorable senators are always prepared to allow a Government to suspend the Standing Orders to facilitate the transaction of business. Generally a contingent notice is put on the paper about a fortnight before the end of the session, so that notice of motion need not be given in the case of each measure. So far as my attitude regarding this Bill is concerned I am just as proud as is Senator W. Russell, becauseI believe that the day will come when, the Parliament of the Commonwealth will, go back to its old love - Dalgety.
Question - That this Bill be now read a third time - put.The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In doing so, I desire to explain that the object of the measure is to legalize the use by the Post and Telegraph Department of the machine which I have here, and which most honorable senators have seen working. It is a machine which is intended to be used in connexion with the postage upon letters. Honorable senators know that sections 30 to 36 of the Post and Telegraph Act of 1901 provide for the stamping of letters, for the payment of postage, and the affixing of postage stamps. In the other sections of that Act,practically the only system of postage which is recognised is the affixing of postage stamps to letters, parcels, or newspapers, as the case may be. The only exception to this rule is contained in section 34, which provides that large quantities of letters or circulars intended for the post may be taken to the post-office, where payment may be made for them in bulk, and that the postal official may thereupon mark them as pre-paid.
– Then the use of the automatic stamping machine at the Post Office has been illegal ?
– Oh, no. I think that the machine to which the honorable senator refers is one that is used for the purpose of obliterating stamps.
– The object of the Bill is to legalize, for post and telegraph purposes, impressions made by a stamping machine, the use of which may be authorized by the Postmaster-General. It is proposed that these machines, which are designed to impress stamps upon postal articles and telegrams, and at the same time to record the number and value of such stamps, shall be used by persons to whom permission for such use has been given by the Postmaster-General. The record of the stamp impression will be read periodically by an officer of the Department, and payment will be made accordingly. There is a recorder at the top of the machine similar to that contained in an ordinary gas, water, or electric light meter. This records the value of the stamps supplied. The machine is designed principally for the convenience of persons who post a large quantity of correspondence, or send a large number of telegrams, but it will also be of advantage to the Department by lessening the opportunities for fraud in connexion with postage stamps. The machine has been in operation in New Zealand since the 1st February, 1906. Honorable senators will observe that it has had a fair trial there.During that time, it has been subjected to a thorough test, and its work has given satisfaction to the Post Office. Moreover, the check made by the Department removes the possibility of the revenue being defrauded by the use of the machines. This Department was advised by the New Zealand postal authorities in March, 1908, that the Postmaster-General of the Dominion had extended the licence of the New Zealand company issuing the machines in order to enable it to instal up to 200 machines at each of the four principal centres, the number of machines to be licensed at the more important of the smaller towns to be decided as soon as the names of the towns in which the company wished to operate were communicated to the Department. Amongst other advantages that may be quoted are the following
I ask honorable senators to think of the work which is performed in our telegraph of/ices to-day. The person who desires to send a telegram must first visit the office, where, having written out his telegram upon. the regulation form, he has to ascertain the cost of transmitting it. The official in charge has then to open a book, select stamps of different denominations to fit the value of the telegram, and hand them over to the sender, who has to affix them upon the telegraphic form. The form is then handed back to the official, and despatched to the forwarding office. There it has to be checked, and, in turn, the accounts of the forwarding office have to be checked. Altogether the system is a very complicated one.
– Will not those conditions still obtain?
– No. If these machines were in usethe official at the telegraph office would have one of them upon the counter, and the sender of a telegram would be told by him the amount of postage that would be required upon it. The latter would then hand the official the requisite amount of cash, and the official by operating the lever of the machine would stamp the telegram and then despatch it to the receiving office. At the close of the day hi? cash would require to tally with the amount indicated on the recording meter. That meter would provide an effective check on the official’s cash receipts, and obviate the necessity of keeping an account of them at the forwarding office.
– How many transactions will the machine record?
– There is no limit to the number. It may go on recording them for ever.
– The Minister is scarcely correct there.
– At any rate it can record transactions to the extent of hundreds of pounds, and it may then be given a fresh start. An enormous amount of postal business would require to be transacted to exhaust the capacity of the machine. Further, it is possible to fix inside or it a secret wheel, one revolution of which would represent a sale of stamps of the value of£300.
– Could an officer prevent it from recording his transactions and put the moneyreceived for stamps into his own pocket?
– No. With the exception of the handle and the lever there is no mechanism on the outside of the machine, and consequently there is no possibility of an operator interfering with it. I would also remind honorable senators that at the larger post-offices several officials require to be employed in selling stamps to the public. The use of this machine would enable an officer to receive cash for stamps, and to stamp the letters handed to him expeditiously. He would then hand the letters back to their owners, who would post them. It would thus obviate the necessity for all bookkeeping. Of course the ordinary sale of stamps would continue in the case of persons who did not wish to make use of the machine.
– What is the cost of the machine?
– I cannot say offhand. I may add that the Government have consulted the Crown Solicitor upon the question of whether they were empowered to authorize its use under the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act. His opinion was that that Act did not give the Ministry the necessary power in that connexion. The machine having met with the approval of the Department, having been thoroughly tested by its mechanical experts who urge its adoption, and its efficacy having been proved in New Zealand, the Government decided to introduce the necessary amending legislation.
– Is the machine sold subject to the payment of a royalty, or have its rights to be purchased outright?
– I will deal with that question presently.
– Has theMinister any figures regarding its increased use in New Zealand ?
– I intend to deal with the experience of New Zealand before concluding my remarks. The following is a memorandum submitted by the Post and Telegraph Department to the Secretary for the Attorney-General’s Department as to what should be the practice adopted in regard to the use of the machine -
The dies in question are inside the machine, and make the imprint upon the envelope or paper, as the case may be.
In other words, he could not supply this machine to any person without first obtaining the sanction of the Post and Telegraph Department.
– The machine would be useless without the dies.
– Not only so, but under this bond the Postmaster-General would have the power to say who should, or should not, make use of the machine.
The only method of gaining access to its vorks is by unlocking the back of the machine with the keys that are provided. Until that has been done one cannot obtain access to any of the screws or bolts by which it is secured, as the whole of the machine is put together from the inside.
– Does the statement that no screw is exposed apply to the glass over the dial?
– There are two screws exposed in the glass over the dial. But after having been affixed the screws are riveted from the inside so that the machine could not be unscrewed without destroying them.
– Are all the keys of one size ?
– In addition to possessing a lock, provision is to be made for the affixing of the seal used by the Post and Telegraph Department, so that not only could the machine be locked but the seal would have tq be broken before it could be opened.
These dies imprint a mark very much like 4he mark put on an effaced stamp, except »hat, instead of the date appearing, the machine imprints the value of the stamp. It also imprints the number of the machine. If a person named Jones applies for a machine, and the machine issued to him is numbered “5,” all the dies in the machine have cut into them the number “5.” At the present time, the Department keeps a record of the number of letters received. In this case, every envelope bearing an imprint from a machine would bear upon the imprint the number of the machine used. The Post and Telegraph Department could therefore check the number of letters stamped by a particular machine.
– That is, if the Department counted the letters.
– At the present time, a count is made of the number of letters going through the Department. Those honorable senators who .have had occasion to approach the Department in regard to extended postal facilities for a particular place, are probably aware that the Department can tell you the number of letters handled by the post-office during the preceding twelve months.
– The Department does not count the letters from the 1st January to the 31st December ; but takes a record on test days.
– I know that a record has been kept with regard to some offices in which I have been interested.
– It is only an approximate count.
– I know one case in particular in which a count was kept of the number of letters passing through the office during the preceding twelve months. The officers of the Department ought to know, and they say that they believe that there would be an effective check on the illicit use of these machines. I admit that it would be possible for a person to imitate one of the dies used in a machine. But the Department would have a secret mark upon every die, and by putting the imprint of a die under the microscope it would be possible to detect a fraud. Consequently, although a person might make a die in imitation of one of the dies used in this machine, the Department would have the further check that it could, for any one week, without letting the person using the machine know of what was being done, keep a complete check upon the .whole of the envelopes going through the Department, comparing the number on the imprints on those envelopes, and also noting whether the secret mark was present. It would be easy in this way to ascertain whether more envelopes had gone through the office bearing the imprint than were recorded on the dial.
– I understand that there would be a secret mark known only to the Department, and that in the event of any dishonesty in connexion with a machine, the Department could, with a microscope, detect the fraud. Would’ it be necessary to use a microscope?
– I do not say that it would be absolutely necessary. What I do say is that as the dies would be cut by the Department’s own engravers, it would be quite easy to put upon them, in addition to the number, some mark by which eachdie could be identified and a check kept upon fraud. Although a fraudulent person might copy a die used in one of these machines, and might use it improperly for putting the imprint upon letters, he would not know the secret mark, and the Department, by keeping a check. would be able to detect the fraud -
I may explain that the ribbon is in the drum of the machine. The die comes down on the top of the ribbon, and thus makes the mark upon the letter or packet. This is the only part of the machine that can be opened, to enable a new ribbon to be put in. But when it is opened, all that is disclosed is the narrow slit through which the ribbon runs -
That is to say, it is not intended to allow persons to make the impression upon envelopes and then sell the impressed envelopes -
When I say that these provisions have been approved of by the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department, we must assume that they are practical.
– May I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that what he has read discloses that there is only a periodical count?
– That is to say, a count is made at irregular periods. I do not state that the Department proposes to check every envelope. An irregular count system would be far safer, because a man who was illicitly using the machine would never know when his envelopes would be checked.
– Will these precautions be embodied in regulations or in the Bill ?
– Many are embodied in the Bill ; but many will have to be left to be provided for by regulation -
– Will the machine record the date of transmission?
– No. The imprint will be effaced in the ordinary way by a date stamp at the post office. I come now to the experience of New Zealand. I shall quote a letter from the General Post Office, Wellington, dated 14th July, 1908 -
I have the honour to inform you, in reply to your telegram of the 10th inst., that the undermentioned methods are adopted bv this Department to remove the possibility of the revenue being defrauded by the use of the franking machines of the Automatic Stamping Company, Christchurch.
No machine is installed until the name of the proposed user is approved of by the Department.
The Automatic Stamping Company guarantees the Department against all fraud ; and the users are liable for prosecution for any attempt to in any way tamper with the machines. The Department holds the keys of the boxes, in addition to which the company has been requested to provide a place for the Post Office seal.
Special dies are made with secret marks, which are known only to the Department and the engraver, so that at any time letters or other articles bearing impressions of the dies can be examined and checked. The engraver is under bond not to divulge the secret marks.
At the end of each period the dials are carefully read by an officer of the Department in the presence of the owner or his agent, and the amount shown is collected.
On the new machines there is a master recorder on the inside of the machine, which is under lock and key, the key being in the custody of the Department.
The ribbons used are non-copying. A carbon copy of a die can be easily detected by a simple test with glycerine ; indeed the detection can be made with the naked eye.
Impressions of the dies have no saleable value.
A periodical check of the correspondence stamped by the machines can be made if desired.
All the dies are cut by hand ; and the Department is informed that it is just as difficult to copy them as to copy handwriting.
Each die has a distinctive number, so that at any time impressions considered to be doubtful can be challenged.
Experience with a large number of machines has disclosed one mechanical defect, which has been entirely removed in all new machines.
At the suggestion of this Department a test is being made to determine whether it is possible to supply dies of different shapes for each value. If this can be done, the checking of postage, etcetera, will be more readily performed.
I enclose specimens ofthe forms in use; also a copy of the Act permitting the use of registering postage machines.
Although no difficulty has yet arisen from the sale to the users of the machines, I am of opinion that sales should not be permitted, but that the machines should be leased by the company to users; or, what would probably be a more satisfactory arrangement, the machines should be vested in the Postmaster-General, a rental being paid direct by the users to the company.
– The letter says that the company guarantees the New Zealand Government against fraud. Does the Commonwealth propose to take that precaution ?
– Yes. We propose to adopt an almost identical method. I have before me one of the new machines, in which the defects discovered in New Zealand have been removed. I may add that the proposal to vary the shape of the dies is for the convenience of the officers of the Department. The examination of marks of an identical shape for all values is apt to be somewhat trying to the eye. Every one knows that stamps of different values are different in colour. It is proposed to experiment in the way of making the dies used in these machines of different shapes for different values. The letter which I have quoted has attached to it a number of different forms for checking purposes. In order that we might ascertain the latest information from the New Zealand Department, a telegram was sent to the General Post Office, Wellington, dated the 4th December, in the following terms -
Kindly say if automatic Franking machine still giving satisfaction?
A reply was received on the 8th December, to the following effect -
Three hundred automatic Franking machines in use. Machine continues to give satisfaction and is regarded as great convenience by public.
– Are the clauses of this Bill taken from the New Zealand Act?
– They are, practically, based upon the New Zealand Act. The Bill does not, however, embody the suggestion made by the Secretary of the New Zealand Department, that the machines should be owned by the Commonwealth.
– What does one of these machines cost?
– It is a monopoly.
– On the question of manufacture, I am happy to be able to state that the maker intends, if this Bill be passed, to manufacture his machines in Australia.
– Have we any guarantee of that?
– Seeing that they are at present made in New Zealand, and that the labour conditions in Australia are no better than they are in New Zealand - in fact, they are not so good - it is evidently only common business good sense for the manufacturer to make his machines in this country.
– Has the Minister any information as to the saving effected in New Zealand through the use of the machine ?
– I gave proof of the saving at the outset, and referred to the immense economy which would be effected in the matter of bookkeeping alone. And further, at the present time, in some, if not in all, of the States, it is a common practice for large business houses to take out licences for the sale of postage stamps. In that way they save2½ per cent. on the stampswhich they use. By the use of these machines, that2½ per cent. would be saved to the Post and Telegraph Department, but I venture to say that the large business firms that under the existing practice secure the benefit of it would willingly resign it, because of the immense saving which the use of those machines would represent to them in time in bookkeeping, and - it is unfortunate that it should haveto be admitted- in the prevention of peculation in stamps. It is a frequent source of complaint with large business houses that one of the most difficult things thev haveto check is peculation in stamps. The use of this machine would entirely put an end to anything of the kind, because the lever by which it is worked can be locked, and it is then impossible to move it. With, the use of these machines by business houses, the peculation of stamps would become a thing of the past.
– There is nothing to steal in the machine.
– That is so. Dealing now with the clauses of the Bill, itwill be seen thatclause2 proposes the in- sertion after Part 1 of the Principal Act, of new sections 65A and 65B, which legalize the impression of the machine, the fundamental provision which is missing from, the Post and Telegraph Act as it stands. A new section 65c is proposed, covering the conditions for the issue of permits to persons issuing these recording machines. They must enter into a bond, the machines must be of an approved pattern, and they :are to be issued only to approved persons. The reason for that provision is that it is not thought desirable that these machines -should be issued indiscriminately by the company manufacturing them, as that might be an incentive to fraud, and might
Tender the work of checking fraud by the Department more difficult. The provision would give the Department a complete hold over the users of the machines, the ownership of the dies, the registration of the numbers,, and the readings of the dial. Under this proposed section, also, we could see that the machines were secured only by persons of good repute and business standing, and we should be able to keep a record of where the machines are, and exercise a control over them. We should also be able to stipulate, as I am informed is -done in New Zealand, exactly where the machines should be placed. A man who -secured one of these machines would not have the right to say where it is to be placed. He must place it where the Department decides, though, of course, the Department would meet his convenience as far as possible.
– What object is gained in having control over the place in which the machine is placed if it cannot be faked ?
– It might be necessary for the convenience of the officer who has to read the record, just as gas-meters have to be fixed in convenient places. This provision would prevent the placing of one of these machines on the thirteenth floor of a huge building, or in any inconvenient position.
– Will the Department require from the user of one of these machines a deposit as well as a bond?
– The honorable senator will see that the user of the machine will purchase it, and he will have to enter into a bond with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– If a machine will record many thousands of impressions, .the bond will need to be a heavy one.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that it can be read as frequently as may be necessary, and if it is found that a business firm is using the machine very largely, its records can be read daily. Then it is provided that the person issuing the machine shall be liable for any loss from fraud. That is to say that, if the Government should find that some firm or person to whom a machine has been issued has succeeded in defrauding the Department, and it is found impossible to recover the loss from that person, we shall have the right to recover from the firm issuing the machine, and the latter firm will issue the machines on that understanding. Finally, it is provided that the dies are to remain the property of the Postmaster-General. Without taking up time unduly, 1 think I have said enough to show that we are not, in this Bill, proposing to follow an unbeaten track. The New Zealand Government have tried this machine, and have found it satisfactory. We may be sure that if there were any possibilities of fraud in its use they would have been discovered in New Zealand by this time. Nothing of the kind has been discovered, and the Post and Telegraph Department of the Dominion is so satisfied with the working of the machine that 1 understand they actually offer a discount to people who will use it.
– Has the honorable senator received that information officially; because, if so, it would seem to introduce a monstrous system of favoritism in respect of large users of the machine?
– No greater favoritism than is practised by the Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Department to-day; in allowing a commission of z per cent, to the users of stamps who take out licences for the sale of stamps.
– The honorable senator forgets that in their case the presumption is that those taking out the licences provide a certain public convenience.
– It is well known that, in many cases, that is only a pious conceit. Incidentally, of course, firms taking out these licences are bound to sell stamps if they are called upon to do so; but it is well known that the licences are taken out in order that per cent, may be saved on the value of the stamps used by these big firms. However, it is not proposed to do anything of that kind in permitting the use of this machine. I have been informed by the agent of the company, and, knowing that it might be contradicted, he would scarcely make an inaccurate statement on the subject, that users of the machine in New Zealand are allowed a discount. That need not trouble honorable senators, because we do not propose to allow1 any discount to users of the machine here. The Bill has been introduced at this late stage of the session because it is recognised that the use of the machine would be of great advantage to the commercial community, and especially to the big Government Departments. Under existing conditions, quite an army of clerks are employed in the Federal and States Departments in checking the stamping of correspondence. In the circumstances, although we have arrived at a late period of the session, I hope that the Bill will be passed, and that we shall bringourselves into line with the progress which has been made in this direction in New Zealand.
– In case of an action for fraud, is provision made that the records of these machines, if produced fo convict, shall be admitted as evidence?
– I venture to say that if a man tried to fight a case in a law court against a gas meter, he would find that the Court would give the gas meter the benefit of the doubt every time.
– That is scarcely correct, because, if there is any dispute as to the reading of the meter a test of it is made.
– In the same way, if there were any dispute as to. the records of these machines, they could be tested. A machine could be tested for every denomination of stamp, and if it were found that it made an accurate impression and record in each case, that would, no doubt, be admitted as prima facie evidence that it was working correctly.
– Has the machine been in use in any other country besides New Zealand ?
– No, it is a New Zealand invention. I understand that the inventors ha.ve patented it throughout the world. I am informed that the agent, on leaving Australia, is going to Canada, the United States, and Great Britain, with a view to the introduction of the machine in those countries.
– Seeing that the use of the machine would displace a great deal of labour, is provision made that it shall be manufactured in Australia; that, in its manufacture, certain wages shall be paid ; or that there shall be any control of the price to the consumer?
– No conditions of that kind are imposed, because the Commonwealth Government do not propose to purchase the machines, or the right to their use. They simply propose conditions legalizing their use.
– We do not purchase harvesters; but we have proposed to protect the purchaser all the same.
– We shall have exactly the same power to deal with the employes engaged in making these machines as we have to deal with those engaged in making harvesters ; but for this purpose, as the honorable senator is aware, we require an amendment of the Constitution.
– These machines are not being made in the Commonwealth?
– Not at present. It would be useless to manufacture them in the Commonwealth until their use here is legalized. They are made in New Zealand, because their use there has baer* legalized. When their use is legalized here, they will be made here.
– Should we not have a clause in the Bill providing that if an expert certifies that a machine is in order, and its records are correct, those records shall be received as evidence?
– That suggestion might be worthy of consideration.
– Are the inventors of the machine prepared to sell the invention to the Commonwealth at a price?
– They have not made any offer.
– Has a single machine been tested here by the Postal authorities?
– Yes; the machine before me has been tested by the Postal officials, and the. report which I read was written after the testing of this machine. I shall reserve any further remarks until I speak in reply to the debate.
– In the few remarks which I propose to make, I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not in any way speaking against the adoption of the mechanical contrivance exhibited by the Minister. 1 hail with delight any proposal by which any labour-saving contrivance can be introduced1 to simplify the work of the public
Departments or of private individuals. I think Ministers ?are to be commended, when a piece of mechanism offering such advantages is brought forward, upon seizing the opportunity to secure it for Australia. While admitting that, I still think that this is a matter on which a little further information is required, and in connexion with which honorable senators will do well to hasten slowly. The Minister has referred to New Zealand as a country in. which this machine is in use. I direct attention to what appears to me to be a serious omission in the report from New Zealand. I was unable to gather from that report whether the machine is in use in that country in the public Departments or in private hands. Honorable senators will admit that it would be one thing to work this machine in public Departments, and quite another to permit it to be used by private individuals, i am prepared to admit that we could control its use in a public Department in a way which it would be impossible for us to do if it were in private hands. I think enough has been said concerning the machine to justify its use in our public Departments, if only as an experiment. I-‘or instance, at the desk of a telegraph office there would be an enormous saving in time to both the person presenting the message and to the officer receiving it. Similarly with all our other public Departments, there would be a very considerable advantage in being able to employ what is really a cash register plus a stamping machine. It combines, as it appears to me, those two functions. It is obvious that a machine of that kind would effect an enormous saving to all our public Departments, and also a saving to the Post and Telegraph Department, if ‘only in the matter of stamps, the printing of which would be done by the use of the machine.
– It would also save us money as regards fidelity guarantees.
– I am not quite certain that that element of fraud would be entirely absent; and that is the point I am going to urge, with a view to suggesting that further inquiry should take place before we finally adopt the machine. The Minister has stated that the experts of his Department have given him an assurance as to the mechanical safety of the machine, that is, that it is not possible to tamper with it, or, to use a common expression, to fake it. I do not know whether they have had competent experience in mechanical science, or have served a term as burglars. I should like to know in what their expert knowledge consists. Very many appliances have been invented and submitted to experts of various kinds who have also been honest men, and they have failed to manipulate the mechanism. But when the assistance of those whose profession it is to defeat the law has been sought, the official experts have had a rather rude awakening. That has frequently happened. In regard to many burglar-proof safes, it has been recorded on more than one occasion that the manufacturers had publicly advertised that in a given safe there was a certain sum available to any man who could get it out. Time after time, when the recognised honest experts had failed to manipulate a safe, the professional gentlemen simply made a laughing-stock of them. I should like to see this machine subjected to some closer scrutiny than that of the experts of the Post and Telegraph Department, whose business I take it is not primarily and specially with mechanism presumably of a more or less intricate character. I do not wish it to be thought that I am in any way reflecting on the experts in “their special domain. I am merely asking whether or not they are competent to pass judgment as to the feasibility of faking the machine. The next objection I take is in regard to the character of the dies - that is, the stamps impressed. The Minister has anticipated this objection by stating that an effort has been made, presumably by the inventor, to adopt differently-shaped dies in order to denote the various denominations of the stamps to be impressed. But I have here one which was done by the representative of the machine in my presence, but which I am unable to read. It is such a poor impression that I am unable to read it.
– That is largely owing to the fact that it was made with an old tape, which had not been re-inked for three months. It is not the fault of the die, but of the tape.
– I am not questioning what the Minister states, but I generally assume that when an inventor has something to offer he submits it for inspection in good trim. The interjection is practically an indorsement of my statement that the impression made by the die in the machine available for the inspection of honorable senators is not very legible. I can quite understand that if that is the best effort which the machine can put forth, any saving which the Department would effect by its use would be more than counterbalanced by the extra demands which would be made upon the sorting clerks and those who had to check the letters passing through it. I desire to know whether this die can be enlarged in any way. It will be observed that it is about the size of half-a-sovereign. If it is to be used, it is quite evident that the present obliterating stamp would be useless, and would require to be altered. It bears the name of the post-office receiving the letter and the date of receipt, and if it were used it would not only obscure the die, but would itself be obscured. It would not be possible to read the date, so far as I can judge from the impression which I have here.
– The impression in my hand is perfectly clear.
– It is possible that the Minister is becoming expert as he uses the machine. But I challenge any one to read the impression in my hand. It would require some alteration in the defacing stamp now used by the Department if it was desired to enable a person to read the history of a letter’s postal transit and the date at which it was received. The obliterating stamp is not infrequently, in country offices, made to do the double purpose.
– Would a cancelling stamp be wanted with this machine?
– Unquestionably. Unless the stamp were obliterated, the envelope could be used again, and I have not the slightest doubt that it would be unless some steps were taken to prevent it. The Minister mentioned a provision by which the vendor of the machinewould guarantee the Department against any frauds resulting from the use of it. That opens up two questions. . The firstis : Does the honorable senator think that the language of the Bill is sufficiently wide to cover a fraud which might be perpetrated, not by the machine, but by forged dies used outside it? If any fraud can be committed, that is where the likelihood of fraud exists. I am not passing any dogmatic opinion on the Bill, but, so far as I can see, it is limited to a fraud committed by or with the machine. It may be alleged, and I think with some force, that if a fraud were committed by means of a forged die used altogether apart from the machine, the vendors might be exempt: under the bond which they would be required to give. There is another matter about which the Minister said nothing. Does he know anything of the stability of this company ? No names have been mentioned. I know nothing of the company, but in bringing forward this proposal the Government ought to have taken some steps to ascertain whether or not the guarantee would have any substance in it ; in other words, whether the company are in the position to meet any liability likely to arise under the bond. I now want to state what I regard as the chief objection to the use of the machine. I am not putting it forward as a reason why it should notbe used, but rather as a ground for making, further inquiry before we decide to introduce the machine into our commercial life. The difficulty I foresee is one which I pointed out to the Minister before dinner, and which led me to seek an interview, at his suggestion, with the representative of the company. It seemed to me that, having once obtained an impression of this die, any one could go and get a similar die cut, and that, having thus obtained a forged die, he could stamp letters asfreely as he liked. The answer first given to me was that the die had a secret mark, which could only be seen by the Department with a magnifying glass. But it has no monopoly of magnifying; glasses. I am prepared to believe that the ingenuity of the criminal will, at any rate in the first instance, equal that of the Department. It was admitted by this gentleman that, that was so. He did not for a moment dispute that up to that point I was on safe ground in suggesting that it would be possible for a person who was prepared to risk the penalty under the Act to get constructed for him a fac simile of the die used in the machine and to stamp letters with it.
– And pay only where he ought to pay£50.
– Exactly. Now I come to the probability of fraud being committed in actual practice. I assume that there would be no great likelihood of fraud being committed so long as the machine remained in the office of ordinarymerchants and business people. They could hardly commit a fraud unless they acted in collusion with their employes, and that I hardly think they would be likely to do. On the other hand, an ordinary postal clerk would not be likely to commit a fraud by means of a machine unless he was “ standing in.” The risk in this case is far too great to assume that any business firm would attempt to commit a fraud with the machine. But the class of business where I think it might be used for that purpose is that which undertakes the addressing, enveloping, and posting of a large number of letters, principally circulars, for other persons. The general practice in regard to circulars is to take them to the Post Office and pay for them in bulk. In that class of business it may be said that the machine would not be of much service. But when I raised this point I was met with the answer that it was not intended to allow big batches of correspondence to be stamped by means of a machine.
– It is an argument in favour of the machine that it would be -capable of stamping big batches of correspondence.
– That was the answer which was given to me by the vendor, who spoke only as vendor and not from the departmental point of view. Taking both the answers given to me the Department stands face to face with a double query : Either it proposes to allow under these restrictions practically any one as to whose bona fides it is satisfied to use the machine, and to stamp with it one letter or ten thousand ; or it says, “ We shall not allow big batches of circulars to be stamped with the machine, but shall insist upon them being taken to the Post Office as at present,” and then the use of the machine in its widest field of usefulness is prevented altogether.
– What is the danger of allowing a large parcel of circulars to be posted?
– The danger arises from the possibility of the people who have created the business of addressing and -mailing circulars at so much per thousand getting hold of a machine, securing one impression, and inducing a die cutter to forge a duplicate. If they took an order to address envelopes and mail 10,000 circulars from a firm, they might pass 7,000 -through the machine, stamp 3,000 with the forged die, and post the lot.
– What inducement would there be for a firm to send its correspondence to such people?
– The same inducement as there is at the present time, because he can get a large number of envelopes addressed more cheaply there than in his own office. There is really no saving as regards the postage. A big merchant may have a staff for his normal requirements, but suddenly he decides to send out 10,000 circulars. It would disorganize the ordinary work of his office if he employed his clerks for that purpose. He immediately sends them away to those persons who make a special business of that class of work. The Minister has intimated that owing to the secret mark it would be easy to detect the fraud. But if I desired to forge a die in one of these machines, I should not forge that of my. own machine. I should probably obtain an impress of the die upon another man’s machine, and forge that. If I, an innocent member of society, can devise a method of overcoming the check which is supplied by the machine, what difficulty would be presented to a gentleman whose occupation is professedly criminal ? He would obtain an impress of as many dies as possible, and these he would duplicate, so that it would be extremely difficult to detect which particular machine’ was the cause of the trouble. This contingency seems to me to open the door to possible fraud. To my mind, only one check would prove effective, and that would be afforded by the daily counting of every, letter which bore the stamp of the machine. If that check were adopted the probability is that no saving would be effected by the Department.
– It “would save* the cost of printing the postage stamps.
– If the only effective check upon this machine were supplied by the daily counting of the stamped letters which passed through it, it would be a matter for the officers of the Department to determine whether the cost involved would not be as great or greater than that involved under the present system. If the imaginary criminal, whom I have called as a witness, were able to forge a variety of dies in other machines, it would take a long time to discover where the crime had been committed. The one machine which would appear spotlessly clean would be that in the hands of the person who was committing the fraud. But it does not seem at all likely that a machine which was used on the counter of a public Department, where it fulfilled the dual functions of a cash register and a stamping machine, would be tampered’ with. Consequently, these machines might safely be introduced there, and we might -thus be afforded an opportunity of setting at rest the doubts which I have raised, and which are, no doubt, present in the minds of other honorable senators. It would be very unfortunate if we were to adopt this machine upon a too scanty acquaintance with it. Until quite recently the Minister himself had not heard of it, and it appears to me that we have obtained for it only a very general recommendation from New Zealand. At any rate, there is an absence of that detail which I should have liked, and which, if I were responsible for its introduction, I should have deemed it my duty to obtain. There is one objection which can be urged against it from the point of view of the man who uses it. Under the existing system, if a postal clerk puts a twopenny stamp upon a letter which should carry only a penny stamp, he can remove it. But if in using this machine he does that, he has no means of retrieving the position.
– Yes. Provision is made in the Bill for refunds in cases where imprints have been wrongly fixed1.
– How long has the machine been in use in Nav Zealand?
– I think that the Minister stated that it had been in use there for two years. But from the reports which he read, it is not quite clear that it has been in use by the mercantile community there. It may have been used under certain restrictions. It may have been employed at semi-public places in lieu of persons licensed to sell stamps.
– I have been shown a number of envelopes - and I think that the honorable senator also saw them - from business firms in New Zealand bearing the impress of the machine.
– I am not criticising the adoption of this mechanical appliance in any hostile spirit. But there does seem room for doubt regarding the possibility of fraud being practised in connexion with its use. I think that we should pick our steps a little more cautiously than the Bill invites us to do. For that reason, I would suggest that after the second-reading debate has been advanced a further stage, the measure should be permitted to stand over until next session. That would afford us an opportunity of obtaining more detailed information regarding it from New Zealand. When we have secured that information, if its effect is to dispel our doubts, we may not unreasonably be asked to pass the Bill.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales> [9.48]. - Assuming that effect be given to> Senator Millen’s suggestion that the final consideration of this measure should be deferred until next session, I desire to know whether, in the meantime, it would not bepossible to place one of these machines in. each of the State capitals, so that we mightbe .afforded a practical exposition of itsworking ?
– According to the Crown Solicitor, we should need to pass a law empowering us to use it.
,. - I am very much impressed with the arguments which have been adduced in favour of this machine; but, at the same time, I cannot help sympathizing very largely with* the views which have been urged by Senator Millen. The machine is new to us, and, if it be capable of manipulation by persons who may be fraudulently disposed, its use would open the door to very considerable losses.. While it appears to be a very useful machine, from the standpoint of the Department and of the public it does not seem to me that its introductionis a matter of great urgency. Consequently, I think that it would be wise to* defer finally passing the Bill until honorable senators have been afforded an OPportunity of learning more about the ma* chine.
– I intend to support the second* reading of this measure. The other day P had an opportunity of examining one of these machines, and I am convinced that it is almost impossible to tamper with itsmechanism.
– What is to prevent a person from making a hand die?
– What is to prevent: a person from printing postage stamps?
– The water-line on thepaper which is used in the printing of postage stamps, and the precautions whichare taken to prevent any of that papergetting into general circulation, are a guarantee against forgery.
– But similar precautions are taken in connexion with the printing of bank notes, which have beenforged again and again. I may add that I have seen a number of envelopes addressed to New Zealand firms, bearing the imprint of this machine. Those envelopes are addressed to such firms as the New-
Zealand Times, Wellington; the Evening Post, Wellington; the Christchurch Free Press, the Union Steam-ship Company, and a printing and publishing company at Auckland. The Post and Telegraph Department in the Dominion has given the machine a fair trial; and the departmental reports are favorable to its adoption. Still, I am of opinion that a longer trial is desirable. I do not think it is necessary to pass a Bill to empower the Government to make use of the machine. We all know that the Department is at present using the “ prepaid “ stamp in connexion with letters and parcels posted in bulk, and that a special Act was not required in that connexion. In the same way, an automatic register which is attached to a pillar outside the General Post Office, Melbourne, is being used by the Department without legislative sanction. Only the other day, I dropped a penny in the slot of the register, and posted a letter to myself, which was duly delivered. I maintain that the Government have a right to use this machine as an experiment, without legislative authority.
– They certainly ought not to require an Act of Parliament to empower them to use the machine in connexion with the receipt of telegrams.
– I entertain the same opinion.
– The machine might also be used in cases where letters are handed to the postal authorities.
– If the final consideration of the measure be postponed until next session, I think that we shall be doing the right thing.
– I shall support the second reading of the Bill for the reasons which have been advanced by Senator Guthrie. I do not suggest that a perfect machine cannot be devised to discharge the functions which are said to be performed by this machine ; but I do think it is impossible to invent a machine which a master-mind with a bent in the wrong direction could not overcome.
– Except it be the political machine.
– Probably the honorable senator, who has had a longer experience of that machine than I have, knows more about the matter than I do. I have no doubt that the machine will do its work in a perfect manner. But the facility for checking the work done is more important than the construction of the machine itself. The weak spot is the difficulty of checking, owing to the absence of a date upon the stamp. Say that a man posts 100 letters on a particular day. It is quite possible that, for some reason or other, he may keep back a number of the letters which have been stamped by the machine. The Post Office in such a case would find a discrepancy between the number of letters stamped and the number posted, and immediately the suspicion might arise that there had been some impropriety. It seems to me that a simple device might be adopted for dating, as well as stamping, letters. The dating process might be outside the mechanism of the machine itself. The danger of fraud could be minimized by making the penalties very severe. It has to be remembered that such firms as would use a machine of this kind do not post letters for fun. A person who had defrauded would probably attach his signature to the letters posted, and might be liable to detection through the signature.
– He would be signing his name to his own conviction.
– I fancy that the danger of detection would deter any one from committing such a fraud. I have had no opportunity of examining the mechanism of this machine. I should very much like to do so. But I quite agree that we should be very careful about adopting any mechanical device in connexion with postage. I should like to see a more extended trial of the machine before it is adopted. If the experiments were successful and satisfactory, the Senate would have less hesitation about sanctioning the adoption of the machine for general use.
– No harm could happen from deferring the adoption of this Bill for a short time, in order that experiments may ‘be made in the public Departments. It appears to me that the machine would be ‘of more value to the Post and Telegraph Department itself than to business people. Twenty-five pounds is a considerable sum to pay for a machine, and only a very large firm would think it worth while to buy one. I know that large firms suffer from peculations in stamps. The adoption of the machine would also save the licking of stamps. I certainly am of opinion that the Government should try the machine more extensively in the Departments before sanctioning its use by the public.
– The Department of External Affairs has had a machine on trial for about six months.
– We should have more information about the use of the machine before passing the Bill through all its stages.
.- If I followed the Minister correctly,, he told the” Senate that the adoption of this machine would be an advantage to the Commonwealth, as well as to the users. If there is to be an advantage both to the users and to the Commonwealth, who is to make up the loss which would accrue to somebody? The Commonwealth to-day, under ordinary circumstances, sells a certain quantity of stamps to commercial houses. A certain revenue is derived from, selling those stamps. We are told that, although that revenue would be lost in one way, there would be an advantage in another.
– The saving to the Department would be that it would not have to incur the cost of printing so many stamps.
– Those who are familiar with the printing business know that such a large quantity of stamps can be printed for so small a sum of money that the cost of printing need not be taken into consideration. Thousands of stamps can be printed in a very short space of time by the use of up-to-date machines such as are employed in the Government Printing Office. What I do not like about this Bill is that it would give power to a private company to make a large sum of money out of the postal service. Why should we hand over to a private company work that ought to be performed by the Post and Telegraph Department? I am saying nothing in opposition to the machine. It may be all that the inventors claim for it. It may be the best machine that the mind of man has ever conceived. It may be impossible for the user of the machine to <:fake” it or to exploit the Commonwealth. If the machine be a perfect one, the Commonwealth ought to see whether arrangements cannot be made to buy the Australasian rights from the inventor. Ever since we have had responsible government, and ever since the Commonwealth was inaugurated, all our postal work has been 1 lone by the Post and Telegraph Department.
– All over the world adhesive stamps have been used, and now it is proposed to use the dies of a private company.
– No. It is proposed that the Commonwealth shall make the dies.
– This is a serious departure, to enable a private company to make machines which will be let out to firms throughout Australia. A man cannot put up a telephone without the appi oval of the Department.
– That case is exactly analogous to this. °
– The makers of the machines will be enabled to charge what they please for them.
– No; they have quoted their price.
– I am not disposed to vote against the second reading of the Bill. Like other honorable senators, I desire to encourage Australian inventors. I hope that after a trial has been made, if the machines prove satisfactory to the Department, the Commonwealth will make an effort to buy the inventors’ rights. The Department should have power to say who shall and who shall not use the machines.
– That is exactly what this Bill proposes.
– I understand that if we pass this Bill the manufacturer of the machines will be able to sell them to anybody.
– Only to those to whom the Department permits them to be sold.-
– Of course the Commonwealth would not approve of the machines being used by men of straw. That i> essential.
– Why should it be essential? What does it matter who has the machine if it is impossible to “fake” it?
– I doubt whether a machine was ever invented that the mind of man could not “beat.” I read in one of the newspapers recently that an automatic stamping machine had been introduced in New Zealand. It is possible that that machine is made by the comp.my that manufactures the machine now under consideration. Some boys intrusted with the postage of certain letters went down to these penny-in-the-slot machines, and bv using discs of the same size and weight as a penny got a lot of letters through. It was only after very careful inquiry that the fraud was discovered. I have seen automatic penny-in-the-slot machines which turn out a box of matches when a penny is dropped into the slot. One would think that such machines would be the last in the world that any one would attempt to manipulate, but I have seen discs of the size and weight of a penny put into these machines to secure the matches.
– No doubt the honorable senator has seen two boys weigh themselves on the same machine for a penny, both stepping on to the machine together, and then one getting off.
– That this machine is open to fraud is anticipated by the Department. The Minister has said that a secret mark is to be made on the dies which will be known only to the Department, and if fraud is attempted it can be detected by the use of a magnifying glass showing the absence of the secret mark. If a magnifying glass is necessary to discover a fraud in the use of these machines, how can it be expected that they will result in a saving to the Post and Telegraph Department? Is every letter sorter who will have to check letters franked by these machines to be armed with a magnifying glass ? I make these remarks out of no hostility to the proposal, but in order merely to show why I think that before this Bill is passed, we should have some further information supplied to us concerning the working of these machines.
– This stamping machine came under my notice this week for the first time. I was not aware of its existence before. I have been a good deal impressed with its possibilities. I can see that it might be of service to the greatpublic Departments and to those who use stamps largely, and might relieve business pressure in many ways. But for all that. I confess that I do not feel that I should be warranted in assisting the Government to pass this measure this session. Many points in connexion with it require further consideration. To show how small matters may affect such a proposal, honorable senators are aware that in the printing of a stamp on a paper with a highly glazed surface, a very distinct impression might be produced, whilst if ordinary rough paper were used, the impression might be almost illegible. If we arrived at a conclusion based on the impression on glazed paper, it might be a very different one from that at which we should arrive if it were based upon the impression made on the inferior paper.
– The honorable senator must recognise that the machine must be capable of stamping all kinds of envelopes.
– Of course, it must be capable of making an impression which can be recognised on any material put through it. I think the Minister has had the true position put to him by nearly every honorable senator who has spoken, and that is that the Department should take upon itself the responsibility of giving the machine a fair test in a number of the big public Departments of the Commonwealth. If they feel that in order to justify them in doing so, it is necessary that the second reading of the Bill should be carried, or that some specific motion should be adopted, I have no doubt that honorable senators would agree to take such a course. But I cannot imagine that it is possible for the Government during the few remaining hours of the session to carry the Bill through both Houses. In the circumstances, I hope that the Minister will see that the suggestion made by nearly every honorable senator who has spoken ought to be adopted.
– I learned only yesterday or to-day that this Bill was likely to be introduced, and I never saw one of these machines until I saw it on the Minister’s table to-night. I am not very well acquainted with the machine, its method of working, its reliability, or its capacity to prevent fraud. I think it is hardly fair that in the closing days of the session Ministers should expect honorable senators to put this Bill through practically without discussion, and possibly to suspend the Standing Orders to enable it to pass through all its stages in one day, when such meagre information has been submitted in connexion with it. I fail to see anv necessity for rushing the measure through. Since the postal system was established, it has been carried on by the use of adhesive stamps, and every Department of the service has been under immediate Government supervision. Now, in the closing days of the session, without sufficient discussion or explanation, the Government propose to rush a Bill through which involves a radical departure from the policy hitherto pursued.
– To hand over to private enterprise important Government work.
– I listened attentively to the speech with which the Minister proposed the second reading of the Bill. I find that it provides that a certain manufacturing company, of whom we know nothing, is to be granted permits to issue these machines to persons approved by the Post and Telegraph Department. That is to say, as Senator Millen pointed out, to everybody who can give security for the payment of the postage. Every such person may have one of these machines sold to him by this manufacturing firm. All we have is the manufacturers’ guarantee that the machine will perform its work faithfully. That is not good enough for me. I contend that the machine should in the first instance be purchased by the Post and Telegraph Department, tested by them, and then issued by them to the people who are to use it. If the manufacturer is allowed to deal directly with the persons desiring to use the machine, we shall have no guarantee that the machines sent out will all be ,what they ought to be. They will be under no Government supervision whatever. We were told by Senator Pearce that the dies are to be the absolute property of the Postmaster-General, and no one else is to be allowed to own one. Under the existing system, we have in every State a Government Printing Office, with a special plant and special paper for the manufacture of adhesive stamps. No private individual, and no one beyond the control of the Government, is permitted to have anything to do with their production. The whole process of printing the stamps is carried out under Government control by servants of the Government.
– What is the protection to the public against coining?
– No private individual is allowed to have anything to do with it. «
– There would be no profit in coining gold.
– What prevents a private individual from coining?
– The liability to punishment.
– Exactly - the law.
– But if private individuals were allowed to coin silver, will the honorable senator contend that we should have anything like the safeguard which is provided by the system of coining under Government supervision ? As a matter of fact, the honorable senator knows as well as I do that the Commonwealth Government ;s not permitted to coin its own silver here vet.
– Private firms in England do coin silver for foreign countries.
– Then <I hope we are not going to follow the bad example of those foreign countries.
– The honorable sena tor will see that a dozen opportunities are afforded every day for the detection of spurious coin. It would not be so in the case of these machine stamps.
– That is so. I do not agree with the statement that no detailed information was given by Senator Pearce, because I believe the honorable senator gave us all the details he had at his, command. It is proposed that a bond shall be extracted from the engraver who will manufacture the dies that they will not manufacture any but those which are made for the Government, and will not make any imitations of them. In my opinion, if it is considered advisable to use this machine, we should have our own Department for the manufacture of the dies, as we now have for the printing of stamps.
– The dies- used in all our Mints are made by private firms.
– Sovereigns are not made by private firms.
– No; but the dies from which they are coined are made by private firms.
– I do not see why we should not do all this work for ourselves. The Minister is aware that a great deal of printing is done by private firms, but he will scarcely advocate that all Government printing should be done by private firms. I am astonished to hear such arguments from the honorable senator. I believe that if we are to have sufficient safeguards against fraud and malfeasance, the work must be carried out under Government control by Government servants. Senator Millen was correct in saying that extensive frauds in the use of these machines would be exceedingly simple. A fraudulent stamp might be made, and it might be used to impress envelopes that were not put through these machines at all. Any individual might find out the numbers of a hundred of these machines in use in Melbourne. He might get an engraver to make an imitation of the die used in each of them, and, if he was a handy man, he might be able to make a die himself, and might then use it to any extent he pleased, and it would be almost impossible to discover the fraud.
The only “way in which it could be ascertained whether it was fraudulent or not would be to do what is obnoxious to every Britisher, and that is to open his letters, and spy upon him. That is the only real safeguard which we should have. I am not saying that we should never introduce this machine, or adopt such a system1. I am merely saying that it should not be done without taking every reasonable precaution. In the closing hours of the session, when the Government say that there is no time in which to do any business, and that the Senate will be expected to swallow the Estimates holus bolus, they ought not to ask us to adopt a machine without any test as to its reliability. I never saw the machine until to-day, and I believe that a majority of honorable senators are in that position. I fail to see why the Government, now that they have succeeded in ventilating the matter - which, I believe, was the great object they had in view - should not withdraw the Bill, and allow us to deal with some useful business in the little time left at our disposal this session.
– I must admit that particulars of this machine have not come under my notice now for the first time. If I remember rightly, I read about it some months ago, and since then I have had the pleasure of not only seeing the machine, but also discussing it with the gentleman who has been referred to, and with the Postmaster-General. The whole of the evidence before me at the present time goes to show that it has great potentialities, but I am not prepared to say that they are so great that at this stage of the session we should suddenly adopt a machine which would revolutionize our postal system. Hitherto, we have had the Government of the country controlling the printing of the adhesive stamps, which are the tokens put on letters to carry them through the Post Office. This is a proposal to allow a private company to manufacture certain machines. The Government say, “ Nobody can use the machines without our consent, but they are to be manufactured by a private company, and then used for stamping letters.” This will be done, not with a stamp which could be taken off and examined, but with a die, which, under a microscope, will show that it bears certain private marks, to prove that it is genuine.
Apart from those who have been interested in the printing trade, every honorable senator is acquainted with the different qualities of the papers which are used in connexion with stamps - from the thick cartridge paper of some envelopes, down to the very thin flimsy paper of which foreign envelopes are made. Those papers would take a different impression from this machine. It would make a perfect impression on a piece of paper as thick as the sheet I hold in my hand. If a cartridge envelope were put into the machine, a very much heavier impression would be made, and if a piece of ordinary flimsy foreign envelope paper were inserted, a light faint impression would be made. Is a light and faint impression likely to show any private mark - this thing, which no one can see, except under a microscope? While I do not, for a moment, condemn the machine, that point alone is so important that it should lead us to obtain the best mechanical advice, and expert information, independent altogether of the interested information which has been supplied by the manufacturers of the article. I think that the Minister will agree with me that the point I have raised as to the varying thicknesses of papers, has not yet been satisfactorily explained by anybody who is endeavouring to get this system of stamping letters introduced. Do we really think that, for the sake of saving a few business people the danger of their stamps being pilfered - for that is the main trouble which is facing everybody - we ought to do away with that distinguishing mark on the postage stamp, which is an advertisement for the country, and which, in many countries, is used as a means of advertising its beauties. I need only refer honorable senators to instances where the stamps of a country tell its history. Unless it can be shown to me that such a great gain would be made that it would be worth while to do away with the Australian stamps, which advertise us all over the world, let us stand by the present system. It seems to me that we should not abolish that system which, however, good or bad it may be, has the tremendous advantage of being a splendid advertisement of the country. Honorable senators must recognise that this Pill would not apply to the man who had to post 100 circulars. All he has to do now is to take them to a post-office;, where he pays for them by number or weight, and it stamps each with the words “ postage paid.” The Bill would only apply to ordinary correspondence in a fairly large business house. Outside of that, it does not appear to me that the use of this machine would be likely to effect a very great saving to the community. We should obtain the fullest information before we do anything. It is not a matter to be hurried over. We have managed to get along fairly well in the past, and while I should be as willing as any one to cheapen commercial business, it is a curious thing that outside a temporary experiment in New Zealand, no one can point to a country where this, or a similar machine, is being used. Every country is proud of its postage stamps, because they are a good advertisement. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, in the hope that the Government will recognise that it is inadvisable to take it any further this session. When fuller information is obtained, I shall be perfectly open to support the Bill, or otherwise, as I think fit, in another session.
– I do not rise to oppose the second reading of the Bill. I had heard about this machine previously, but had not seen it at work. It seems to me that it has very great possibilities, and it would be a very great convenience to some persons. I do not imagine for a moment that it would do away with the printing of postage stamps. It would not find a place in every office, or come into universal use, but to many large establishments, like insurance offices, and wholesale warehouses, it would be a very great advantage. If we could supply a machine which would facilitate business to the public generally, there is no reason why it should not’ be supplied, but we do not require the services of a middle man. The user should enter into direct communication with, and be responsible only to, the Government. I am not sure as to what value the inventor puts on his Australian rights, or whether he is prepared to let it on a royalty. I think that, like telephone instruments, it should be purchased by the Government, and supplied to the customer. That is a much more satisfactory method than to have a third person coming into the business. Of course, the possibility of fraud is a very serious matter. The principle of registering with this machine seems to be very much the same” as it is with a water or gas meter. Persons have manipulated water meters, and prevented them from registering, just as they have done with gasmeters. I do not know whether a person could manipulate this machine or not, as I am not sufficiently acquainted with its “ mechanism. But, undoubtedly, it would be a convenience to large business houses which post invoices day by day, because, by its use, they could avoid the use of postage stamps, and the possibility of being robbed, as they very often are. I have known a boy who was sent with a hundred.invoices to post to throw them into a drain, and appropriate the money to his own use. If the Minister will be* satisfied to take the Bill formally into Committee to-night, and to allow its consideration to stand over until next session, with the view of testing, one, or even a number, of the machines, in a telegraph office, in the meantime) weshould be in a much better position. It is too important a Bill to be submitted tous in the closing days of the session. I shall he quite willing to assist the Government to take the Bill into Committee tonight, with a view to further inquiriesbeing made.
– I quite recognise that honorable senators have to be frank and free in their criticism, because the duty of protecting the public revenue is cast upon their shoulders. For reasons which are obvious I do not propose to reply at any length *to thecriticism which has been indulged in by honorable senators. But I have letters upon my file from such firms in New Zealand as the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and the Union Steamship Company, stating that they are using this machine, and would not return to the old days when they were required to affix postage stamps to letters for anything. I have also a type- written list of other firms in various parts of the Dominion, which are using the machine. In reply to the remarks of Senator Millen and others, I would point out that in regard to that very important necessity of our commercial life - the currency - the possibility of fraud exists. There is nothing to prevent any person from making a die from which he could coin silver. The coins might be madeout of just as good metal as are the genuine coins which are minted. Thereis nothing to prevent such coins . frombeing produced at a substantial profit, except the penalty that is provided by law-
– But the cost of the plant that would be required to coin silver would be rauch greater than would be that of the plant necessary to forge a die for this machine.
– The profits that would accrue from the forging of a die for this machine might be greater, but even in the coinage of silver enormous profits could be made. The law, however, is an effective deterrent.
– It would not pay to coin silver with the real metal.
– It would pay handsomely. I do not doubt that an ingenious person could obtain a die corresponding to that used in this machine. But if he did so, he would incur the risk of being sent to gaol for two years, with hard labour, and the possibility of detection would be just as great as it is in the production of counterfeit coins. I ask the Senate to agree to the second reading of the Bill, and the Government will take into consideration the criticism which has been levelled against it. At this stage of the session we have to feel the temper of the Senate, and having done that, we are not likely to disregard the remarks of honorable senators. If the second reading of the measure be agreed to, I shall, in Committee, upon the first clause, move to report progress.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time- put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and considered in Committee pro formâ.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081208_senate_3_48/>.