3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, a question with reference to the following statement, made on the 2nd July, by Senator de Largie, in the debate on the Supply Bill -
I hold in my hand a telegram from Senator Lynch, in Western Australia, announcing that twenty temporary employes of the Post and Telegraph Department have been knocked off (because there is no money to pay them.
I desire to know if the Minister can furnish any information as to the accuracy or otherwise of that statement? And I connect with my question a statement made subsequently in the same debate by Senator Needham that the number of men ‘discharged in those circumstances was about forty-two.
– If my honorable friend will repeat the question on the motion for adjournment this evening, I think that I shall be able to supply him with the desired information.
– I will do so.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether he can indicate at about what time the trawler is likely, to carry out the promised investigations in the waters of Western Australia, and whether it is intended that she shall pay a visit to the north-west coast of that State?
– It is quite impossible to say on what date the trawler will arrive in the waters of Western Australia. It is intended that she shall visit the coasts of all the States. At present she is in Tasmania, and thence she will go to South Australia.
– To Queensland.
– I think that the next State to be visited by the trawler is South Australia, but I do not know definitely. Senator Croft may rest assured that in due time Western Australia will be visited.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Government make arrangements for the Government trawler to visit South Australia, with a view to testing the fishing grounds around the coast; and, )f so, .when?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
It was already intended that the Endeavour . should visit the South Australian coast . after completing the investigations now in progress in Tasmanian waters, but it is not at present possible to specify a date on which she may be transferred.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transcontinental Railway Survey.- Report by Mr. Henry Deane, M. Inst. C. E., as to hie recent inspection of the South Australian section of the line of survey (dated 19th July, 1909).
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : -
Yes. 2.(a) That of the Minister for External Affairs; (4) on a joint request made to the Department by the States Tobacco Company and the Cigarmakers’ Union of Australia; (c) Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-8, section 3, paragraph (h), and the Contract Immigrants Act 1905. 3. (a) Yes ; (4) the States Tobacco Company ;
Both the circumstances of the cases and the laws applicable to them differ.
In the case of 1902, no previous application was made for exemption on the ground of special skill required in Australia. In the absence of that exemption immigrants under contract to perform manual labour were prohibited until application was made in accordance with the law.
In the present case an application was made for permission to introduce these men for three years for the purpose of instructing Australian workmen in the manufacture of Manila cigars.
– Arising out of the reply, I desire to ask whether at the time when the three or four Philippinos were allowed to land in Australia, there were no Australian workers capable of either doing or being instructed in doing the work for which the former persons were introduced ?
– Their union would not have applied for permission if such persons had been available.
– I think that Senator St. Ledger may take it for granted that it must have been so, because upon the Minister is thrown the obligation of satisfying himself to that effect. In addition it has been mentioned by Senator
Turley that the union was one of the applicants for permission to introduce the Philippinos.
– The ghost of the six hatters.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that the application was backed up by the union representing the workers, and by the firm representing the employers ?
– The inquiry of Senator St. Ledger was, “ under what circumstances of fact was such permission granted,” and the answer I gave was : “On a joint request made to the Department by the States Tobacco Company and the Cigar Makers’ Union of Australia.”
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the reply, may I ask the Minister if he has any objection to the steamers using glass instead of wire netting? The former is quite as effective as the latter for keeping out rats.
– The Department has accepted the advice of experts, and I apprehend that at times the closing of the ports has been neglected.
– It is a matter of ventilation.
– Passengers might be smothered without ventilation.
– The Department acted on the advice of experts, and has no intention of altering the regulation.
-But it has not been enforced yet. I understand.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to the acceptance of atender for the supply of the technical machinery for the small arms factory, is it the intention of the Minister to carry out the decision of the late Fisher Government and call tenders for the supply of motive power, boilers, engines, shafting, and belting in Australia?
– Yes, as far as possible.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What progress has been made in regard to the adoption of a voting machine at Federal elections?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Committee hopes to be in a position to furnish a detailed report at an early date.
One inventor, whose crude model has been submitted, is making a complete machine which will be ready for examination by the Committee in about a month.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has any further information been received since last session on the subject of Brennan’s Mono-Rail ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
There has been no further information from England since last session, except the amplification of a cable message referring to reports by officers of the India Department, which may be seen by the honorable senator at the Department of External Affairs.
The late Commonwealth Government, on the 15th December last, intimated that they were not prepared to avail themselves of Mr. Brennan’s offer. Since then, correspondence has been proceeding with the States on the subject.
Did the late Government make provision in their Estimates for a sum to reimburse the employes of the Sunshine Harvester Company for their legal outlay in seeking to secure compliance with the provisions of the Harvester Excise Act?
Did the late Government leave a memorandum expressing reasons why such or a similar sum should be so applied?
If such a memorandum exists, will he lay a copy on the table of the Senate?
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Minister have prepared a return showing what munber of intending immigrants have been prevented from entering the Commonwealth under section 3, sub-section (d) of the Immigration Restriction Act No. 17 of 1901, each year since the passing of the Act, and the nature of the complaint from which such intending immigrants were suffering?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Possibly some of the persons rejected under paragraph (b) of section 3 of the Act might have been considered to come within the class described in paragraph [d), but no persons appear to have been restricted from landing under paragraph (d) alone.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Australia, by a combination, hold a monopoly of the oversea press cable service?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he has made inquiries into the matter connected with old-age pensions, to which reference was made last night?
– Inquiries have been made, and the figures which have been quoted are correct. The Deputy Commissioner of Western Australia has been asked to nominate special magistrates, where necessary, in order to expedite the work of enrolment.
Motion (by Senator Macfarlane) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a list and dates of detention of mails from Great Britain in Melbourne before despatch to Tasmania over six hours, and the dates when the detention exceeded twenty-four hours.
Debate resumed from 21st July (vide page 1413), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second lime.
– In the first place, I desire to congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon his very lucid exposition of the provisions of this Bill. Every honorable senator is now in possession of a copy of his speech, which exhaustively dealt with the matter from an historical stand-point. The honorable gentleman clearly pointed out the successive steps which have led up to the position which obtains to-day. I must also congratulate the Government upon their evident desire to push this measure ‘forward. Their action in that connexion is in strange contrast with the statement made by the Minister of Trade and Customs last session, when he occupied the position of Leader of the Senate. He then declared that it was only possible to deal with this Bill in conjunction with the Navigation Bill. Now, however, the consideration of the measure isbeing expedited quite apart from the Navigation Bill. I have to thank the fusion for that. Of course, I recognise that for years Australia has been labouring under a very great disability, as compared with other countries, from the stand-point of legislation providing for compensation to seamen injured in the course of their employment. It is true that the States have legislated in that direction, but ofwhat use was that legislation in cases of accident to seamen in waters beyond their jurisdiction? The Commonwealth, however, possesses jurisdiction throughout Australian waters, so that this defect in our law is now about to be remedied. 1 realize that honorable senators opposite have always been identified with those who have fought most strenuously the principle that is embodied in this Bill. I recollect that a few years ago a majority of the South Australian Parliament was prepared to extend the Workmen’s Compensation Act to almost every class of labour other than that of seamen. It so happened that about that time a vacancy occurred in the Legislative. Council of that State, and upon that election depended the fate of the proposal to extend the provisions of the Act to seamen. Happily the late Charles Cameron Kingston was elected, and thus the triumph oF the. advocates of the rights of seamen was assured. Of course, I have been speaking of a Legislative Council which is elected on a property qualification. If adult suffrage has done anything for Australia it has compelled honorable senators opposite to support the measure that is before us to-day. In that Bill there is very little to cavil at, and I intend to do my best to assist in passing it with a few amendments. It follows closely upon the lines of the Imperial Act, and I do not think there is any prospect of inducing my honorable friends opposite to legislate much in advance of the Imperial law in this connexion. If I required a reason why the provisions of this measure should be extended to seamen - even in preference to other classes of labour - I could not do better than point to the diagram which I hold in my hand.
It shows the loss of life in different avocations. The longest line upon it represents the loss of the lives of seamen. The next longest refers to miners. Honorable senators can see at a glance the difference in the proportion. Next comes a line representing railway servants, and a fourth relates to factory operatives. I think that this diagram constitutes an argument sufficient to convince any one. It does not refer to injuries only, but absolutely to deaths. The diagram is drawn to scale, and, although the figures on which it was based are now somewhat old, the proportion remains about the same. The figures were taken from the statistical record of the Labour Department of the Board of Trade for 1893-4, published in November, 1894. In factories and work-shops the operatives employed numbered 5,270,835 ; the ten years’ loss of life amongst them from accident was 4,047; the annual loss was 405. Of railway servants there were employed 381,626 ; the ten years’ loss of life was 4,717 ; the annual loss was 472. Of seamen, the number employed was 188,391; the ten years’ loss of life was 21,241; the annual loss of life was 2,172. An agitation was aroused in England upon this subject, and I am bound to admit that there has since been a considerable improvement in respect of the loss of life at sea. The agitation became so strong that the editor of the London Daily Chronicle, Mr. A. E. Fletcher, published throughout England a poem, which caused a perfect revulsion of feeling. The indignation aroused on account of the loss of life at sea can only be compared with that provoked during Plimsoll’s time in his crusade against the coffin ships. I will quote only one verse of this poem, which created so much interest amongst English people -
When wilt thou save the seamen?
O God of goodness ! - when ?
They wait, O God ! - the seamen -
They wait, despairing men !
Like helpless children, God, they stand,
Imploring Thy sustaining hand;
And millions join in the demand -
God help the seamen !
The appeal thus made did a considerable amount of good, though the loss of life amongst seamen still maintains a regrettably high ratio. I have before me the Bonrd of Trade Labour Gazette, for April,1909 - the latest number which I could obtain. The mean annual death rate from accident is shown from the following figures : - Seamen, 50.4 per 10,000; miners, 13.2 per 10,000 ; quarrymen, 10.6 per 10,000 ; railway servants, 7.5 per 10,000; non-textile and factory and workshop operatives, 2.2 per 10,000; textile factory operatives, . 8 per 10,000. For all the occupations enumerated the rate was 6.3 per 10,000. Yet the loss of life from accident to seamen was as high as 50.4 per 10,000. Are not those figures alone sufficient to induce honorable senators to pass this Bill? No doubt, some amendments will require to be made in Committee. I have said enough to show that, if any industry should receive the protection sought to be extended by this measure, it is that in which seamen are engaged.
– One occasionally derives some little satisfaction, even from being a Labour man ; and this is one of the times whenwe can rejoice at seeing some good result from the work which we have been putting in during the last sixteen year’s. During that time, Labour has been asking the Parliaments of Australia for protection in regard to accidents. Some sort of legislation has been passed, but it is legislation that was described in Queensland by the Chief Justice of the State as a delusion and a snare to the men whom it was supposed to benefit. Sixteen years ago I was a member of the Wharf Labourers’ Union. I think that that society was concerned in the first case under the Employers’ Liability Act, which was introduced in the Queensland Parliament by the present Chief Justice of the Hight Court. One of our members met with an accident not long after the Act was passed. He had the union behind him, but it cost us£240 to get£150 compensation for him. That is the sort of legislation that we used to get at that time. We were told that it was all right; that all that we had to do was to look to Parliament, which would do the correct thing towards the industrial workers. But Parliament did not do the correct thing. I was glad to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council read out the answer given before a RoyalCommission in England, where it was pointed out that, even when legislation was in existence, the men who were best served were those who were members of powerful organizations. Those who were not members of unions, it was said, had to go round cap in hand to find some legal gentleman who would be prepared to take up their case, and who usually would only do so if he saw an opportunity of. making something out of it himself. If he saw no such opportunity the probabilities were that the lawyer would say, “You have no case; the best thing you can do is to make the best terms you possibly can.” The result was that men who had a case usually got nothing. The introduction of this Bill, is a tribute to the work of the organizations of Labour in Australia. I am glad to recognise that honorable senators opposite now perceive the futility of the enormous fight that their friends put up in 1.890 for freedom of contract. I was engaged in the great industrial conflict that took place at that time, and I believe that quite a number of men were fooled by the misrepresentations of the press into believing that there was something in the contention that was then urged upon the workers of Australia. We now know that- there was nothing in it. We know that freedom of contract, as it was termed, was simply a phrase used with the object of robbing and fleecing the people who were employed by the owners of vessels engaged in the coastal trade of Australia. At that time the workers were almost goaded into open insurrection by treatment for which the authorities ought to have been ashamed of themselves. That was only a few years ago, and now, when legislation of this kind has been passed in the Old Country, in New Zealand, and in almost every State in the Commonwealth, it is admitted that even, with the advantage of that legislation the workers require the assistance of very strong unions. What has been our experience in connexion with this class of legislation ? It was asked for many years ago in the Old Country. After it had been demanded for years by the Labour organizations, it was taken up by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. He did a great deal to popularize such legislation in England after the Labour organizations had sustained an agitation for it.
– He virtually took .up the Fabian Bill.
– Yes, he did so in 1893. This question was brought forward first in Australia by the members of Labour organizations whose fellows were the victims of the existing law. The members of the organizations had to contribute out of their own pockets week by week for the maintenance of the wives and children of those who had met with accidents. The employer at the time esca’ped scot free unless, as I said before, the injured workman was able to get some lawyer to take up his case on the chance of making, something out of it. How were the Labour organizations met when they asked for legislation of this description? I can say that members of those organizations were characterized as thieves and rogues, and as men who proposed to rob the employers of Australia in the interests of the workers. I think such expressions of opinion can be found in almost every Hansard in Australia. At least, I can say that three members of the Senate to-day - Senators Stewart, Givens and myself - had that kind of language hurled against them not on one but on many occasions, and that, too, by a member of the present Federal Government. They were told that they were dishonest in endeavouring to obtain compensation for the worker who met with an accident.
– That was the lovely Colonel Foxton.
– The same gentleman.
– Is that why he was sent to England ?
– I do not know. The honorable gentleman is supposed to be a Liberal now, but we know that he will be anything that pays.
– If the honorable senator is alluding to a member of the other House he is not in order.
– I am alluding to a member of the Government, and I think I am entitled to comment upon the action of any member of the Government, especially when the action which I criticise on this occasion was taken before the honorable gentleman to whom I refer became a member of the Federal Parliament. He was at the time a member of the State Parliament of Queensland.
– And especially when he is so far away that he cannot reply-
– That is all very well. I raise no objection to honorable senators making any statement they please regarding anything I have said or done in my public capacity, whether I am present or not when the statement is made. It is my misfortune if I am not present, but there is always an opportunity afforded later to put myself right if I have been misrepresented. If an honorable senator chooses to walk out of the chamber, is that any reason why other members of the Senate should sit silent when they desire to criticise his action ?
– The honorable senator misunderstood me. I did not say that was a reason why he should hold his tongue, but that it was a special reason why he should talk.
– The honorable senator, in a sarcastic way, suggested that I spoke as I did because Colonel Foxton is so far away. I have said just the same thing before his face in the Queensland Parliament, and I would say exactly the same thing before his face to-day. In my opinion the record of every public man is open to comment, whether on the floor of this chamber or anywhere else.
– Surely the fact that Colonel Foxton is a party to this Bill should be a matter for congratulation ?
– I am pointing out that even members of the despised Labour party enjoy some satisfaction on certain occasions, and this is one of them.
– When we are able to force the hands of those opposed to us as the Government appear to be able to force the hands of Senator Trenwith now.
– Is the Government forcing me to support this Bill?
– Under the late Mr. Seddon, New Zealand was the first country in this part of the world to carry legislation providing for compensation to workmen ? That was in 1900.
– I think the South Australian Act was passed in 1900.
– The New Zealand Act was the first to appear on a statutebook. We had been trying to carry such legislation in Queensland before that. The first person to introduce :t Workman’s Compensation Bill in the Queensland Parliament was the present leader of the Labour party, Andrew Fisher. He introduced a Bill in 1898, or 1899. and it was at that time we were met with terms of opprobrium, because we dared to ask that there should be legislation which is now described by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as just and humane. If it is, those who fought against it in the past must have been unjust and inhumane. It seems to lie that now, as then, those who think they may. dare to vote against progressive legislation, do so. It was only when those engaged in the Labour movement popularized this class of legislation throughout Australia that those who had previously opposed it, were prepared to accept it, and to admit that it had come within the region of practical politics. Probably they would even say outside that they would support legislation of this kind.
– They would even state outside that they had been in favour of it all the time.
– That is so.
– What steps did theWatson Government take to introduce thisBill?
– I do not think that it was in office long enough to be able to introduce the measure.
– It never would have been there long enough to do so.
– But while that Government was engaged on one Labour measure honorable senators on the other side were its most bitter opponents, and did all they possibly could to eject that Government, because it sought to pass a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that would’ do something to ameliorate the conditions under which strikes may take place.
– During the last sevenyears the Labour party could have forced the Deakin Government to introduce a measure.
– According to the honorable senator, we could have done anything, but he and his friends have never forced a Government to do anything in the interests of people who had to work for their living. As a man said in another place the other day, they represent “ the well fed, the well housed, and the well clothed of this continent,” and, until they are driven to act. those who are not in their position will receive very little consideration. That is why I said that there is a little satisfaction in even being a member of the despised Labour party.
– Who says that it is despised ?
– We know that it is. ‘
– The honorable senator is very clever then.
– A Labour man who has been in politics for any time can never forget the manner in which he has been treated oftentimes. In the State Parlia- ment there is not a Labour man who did not feel, at some time or other, that he was not supposed to be on the same level as the gentlemen whom he generally found himself opposing.
– It is exactly the contrary. The Labour men have been receiving from the country just the same respect as the others.
– It_ is always very politic to say that sort of thing, but I know that the first Labour men who appeared in the Queensland Parliament were not only despised, but in some cases threatened with personal violence, because they dared to express their opinions there.
– I- supported Joseph Arch before the honorable senator was born.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to keep up a string of interjections, because such conduct only tends to draw the speaker away from the thread of his argument, in order to defend some person or thing.
– When our proposal to legislate in this direction was first introduced in Queensland, we were met with abuse and obstruction. The second reading of our first Bill was carried, and when the formal motion was proposed that the House should resolve itself into a Committee of the whole to consider the Bill in detail one of the members who were very strongly opposed to Labour moved that the order be discharged from the businesspaper. The Government had a sufficient majority at their back to throw out the Bill in contempt. So long as they could avoid it, they would take no action to benefit any class of labour by providing for the payment of compensation in respect of accidents. In 1900, Mr. Fisher introduced his Bill again, and the second reading was passed. Of course, the same old arguments were advanced by our opponents. I want to read the opinion of a member of the Government who has since developed into a Liberal. At that time, he was totally opposed to any legislation of this description. He said -
T say the honorable member in taking up this Bill has adopted a popular role, and, I think, we may attribute the same state of things to every other member who has taken it up elsewhere, whether in Australia or in the Old Country, or in any foreign country, because it docs appear to me that Mr. Pickwick was one of the wisest men that ever lived when he gave the advice “Always shout with the biggest crowd.” He uttered then the wisest thing that was ever said in the English language.
In the same speech, the honorable gentleman told us that if workmen wanted to have a fund out of which to get some compensation when they were injured, whether it was through any fault of their own or not, we should be honest, and contribute to the fund ; that there was nothing but dishonesty in asking an employer to contribute to or build up a fund out of which an employe’ could get some relief when he was disabled in the interests of the employer. In 1901, Mr. Fisher was elected to the Federal Parliament. His old colleague in the Queensland Assembly, Mr. George Riland, took up the question, and introduced the Bill. I think it was realized even by the most hard-cased Tory that the time had come when with safety they could no longer afford to oppose such legislation, and the Government said, “ We do not think that your Bill goes far enough now. We consider that it should include a considerable number of occupations which it does not cover.!’ They asked Mr. Riland to withdraw his Bill with the object of allowing them to bring in one with a wider scope, which they would be prepared to pass. What was our experience? The Bill of Mr. Riland was withdrawn, and we had the spectacle of honorable gentlemen of .exactly the same colour on politics as honorable senators opposite bringing in one of the most infamous measures ever submitted to a Legislature. It was a Bill under which no man could have had an opportunity to get any relief. Virtually, it said to a man : “If you are working on a building, and fall 21 feet, you will get compensation, but if you fall 19 ft. 6 in. you will not be entitled to any compensation. If you work in a quarry, the depth of which is 20 feet, and you get injured, you will be able to obtain compensation.”
– Was not that provision in the Bill introduced by Mr. Fisher?
– Yes; but the Bill was based on the English Act. Mr. Fisher was asking the Queensland Parliament to take one step forward, and he knew perfectly well that his opponents were men of such a character that they would not be likely to go even that far. That is why that provision appeared in the first Bill which he introduced.
– Did it contain that infamous provision ?
– I admit that it did. There was no possibility of our party getting anything else, and consequently we were prepared to support that rather than get nothing.
– Hear, hear ; a very wise provision, too.
– We did not get even that much. We did not get anything for some years. It was not until the Labour party had spread the doctrine throughout Queensland, and induced a considerable number of honorable members who were supporting the Government that we were able to get anything like a reasonable Compensation Act. I am only relating our experience in these matters. We have had considerable experience of the opposition which such measures are usually confronted with. 1 shall not be surprised if this Bill is strongly opposed. I know that Senator Dobson, for instance, does not believe in it. In Hansard, time after time, we have had his statement that it is not fair to ask an employer to pay money for insurance against accident or anything else.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that he can find in Hansard any such statement by me?
– I can find instance after instance in Hansard in which the honorable senator has urged, in connexion with old-age pensions and labour insurance of every description, that our legislation should be based upon that of Germany, which provides for compensation against unemployment, and practically for old age when men are not able to work any longer.
– I assure the honorable senator that he can do nothing of the kind. He does not understand the matter.
– The German system is a splendid one.
– Probably it is, but it has never yet been adopted in an Englishspeaking community, as the honorable senator knows. I wonder why honorable senators ask at times for that system to be introduced. They say that it will throw more onus on the employ^. That is a reason which has always been brought up against a Bill of this description. After a Bill of this kind is passed, I can understand some honorable senators mounting a platform and saying, “ There you are, that shows that we have been taking just as much interest in these matters as members of the Labour movement. We have been prepared to give you compensation of this kind.”
– Is the honorable senator against the German system?
– Yes, always. So far as I know I have never said a word in favour of the German system, which I have studied for a good while. I have always believed that the system which has been advocated in Australia, and carried out in certain places, is a long way ahead of any system which obtains on the Continent of Europe.
– That is the principle of the Bill.
– Undoubtedly it is, and that is why I congratulate the Minister on his conversion and submission of this Bill to the Senate.
– There is no justification for the honorable senator’s statement. I .have been converted in no way in regard to this class of legislation. Probably the honorable senator knows that.
– I do not know anything of the sort. I have never heard the Minister utter one word in favour of such legislation. Consequently, I have been under the impression that be, like his colleagues, has always been prepared to oppose such a measure. I should not be surprised to hear of those honorable senators going out and telling the people that they have always been in favour of this kind of legislation. They remind me of the little boy who ran out and said to his mates, “ Now, I have taken castor oil.” He forgot to bring out the essential fact, namely, that some person held him by the legs while another person had an arm round him, and probably had to pinch his nose pretty tightly to force him to open his mouth before the oil could be administered. That is very much the position in which honorable senators on the other side, or a number of them, find themselves so far as this kind of thing is concerned. I do not propose to deal with the Bill to any great extent, but it contains two or three provisions to which I am totally opposed. One point which strikes me in connexion with this Bill has reference to the ‘definition of the word “ seaman.” “ Seaman “ includes master, officer, apprentice, or other person employed or engaged in any capacity on board a ship in connexion with the navigation or working of the ship.
Under this definition a number of men might find themselves excluded from obtaining compensation for injuries received in the course of their employment. Take the case of men who are engaged upon salvage work. Let us assume that they have occasion to salvage a wreck outside the territorial limit of three miles. I recollect the case of a number of men who were sent from Sydney to undertake the salvaging of a wreck which had occurred some miles from the coast of the Northern Territory. They were not seamen, although they had been. They were not upon any ship’s articles. The crew of the vessel by which they travelled to the wreck were upon its articles, but the men engaged to do the salvaging work were not. Is it not possible to extend the definition of the term “ seamen “ so as to make it include individuals employed on board ship, even though they may not be on the ship’s articles?
– The only consideration which has weighed with the Government in limiting that definition clause has been the constitutional one as to how far the Federation has power to go.
– Then the Government think that it will be unconstitutional tobring such men under the provisions of this Bill?
– No. Salvage men belong to a class which has not previously been brought under my notice.I am glad that the honorable senator has mentioned them, because our object is to make the clause as wide as possible, consistent with our constitutional limitations.
-A wreck might occur more than three miles from the coast of any State, and a vessel might be sent from Sydney to salvage it. The men who would undertake that wark would not be upon any ship’s articles ; but it seems to me that it would only be a fair thing to allow them to take advantage of legislation of this description. Clause 5 reads -
This Act does not apply -
to a seaman whose average Weekly earnings calculated in accordance with the provisions of this Act exceed five pounds per week.
I do not believe in exempting from the operation of this Bill any man who is employed on board a vessel. Under this provision, however, the master of a ship trading on the Australian coast, simply because he receives more than £5 a week, will be excluded from the benefits conferred by it. In other words, the measure, so far as he is concerned, might just as well never be placed upon the statute-book. I do not think that the amount which a man receives in wages ought to determine whether or not he shall be at liberty to take advantage of legislation of this character. We must recollect that it is not being enacted entirely for the purpose of benefiting individuals who may be injured in the course of their employment. It is being enacted more in the interests of those who are dependent on them, namely, their wives and children. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us that a man earning more than£5 per week is in a position to make better terms for himself than could be made for him under this Bill. But I would point out that he can make those terms for himself now. Consequently, I hold that it is a wrong principle to exclude from the benefits conferred by legislation of this kind men who are in receipt of more than£5 weekly. I cannot understand why any individual employed upon a ship should not be able to take advantage of legislation which has been enacted in connexion with the occupation which he follows. Sub-clause (b) of clause 5 reads -
This Act does not apply -
to a seaman who is a member of the crew of a fishing vessel and is remunerated by a share in the profits or the gross earnings of the working of the vessel.
I cannot imagine why that provision has been inserted in the Bill, and I have had some experience of fishing vessels. Of course,I am aware that it has been copied from the English Act. But why should we sanction it, when we have no cases to which it can apply?
– My honorable friend is wrong. We have cases to which it is applicable.
– Does such a provision obtain in any other Workmen’s Compensation Act?
– Yes. If two or four men enter into a joint contract to erect a building, and one of them is injured in the performance of his work, he cannot claim compensation.
– That is not a parallel case. If a man engages a bricklayer who is paid according to the number of bricks that he lays, that circumstance does not place him outside the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– But if half-a-dozen bricklayers are partners in a work, and one of them is injured in the course of his employment, what then?
– The sub-clause to which I have directed attention does not contemplate any partnership whatever. Take the conditions which obtain in connexion with the fishing industry in the Old Country. A company may own perhaps half-a-dozen trawlers or an individual may own a single vessel. Perhaps he does not go to sea himself. But other fishermen come along, and the conditions of their employment are that the owner supplies them with the vessel, all the fittings of which are supposed to be in good order. The men provide their own food and work the vessel. Usually the crew consists of the master, ihe second and third hands, and a boy. When they return from their fishing operations, their catch is placed upon the market and sold, and the owner pockets so much of the proceeds.
– Usually he gets one-half and the men who work the vessel divide the remainder between them.
– Probably the only person who would be able to take advantage of this provision would be the lad who was serving his apprenticeship.
– The relationship between the owner of a fishing vessel and the men engaged in working it is that of lessor and lessee.
– But no lease ,’is entered into. It is simply a question with the owner of obtaining the most reliable and: cheapest labour.
– That case is exactly provided for in this Bill. The fishermen take a share of the profits of the venture.
– It is a co-operative venture.
– It is, and it is not. As a matter of fact, the men provide everything, save the vessel and the gear. The cheapest method by which the owner can obtain reliable labour is to say to the men, “ Whatever may be earned by the vessel, you shall share in.” He is afraid to engage labour on any other condition, because if the men were in receipt of regular wages he would be under the impression that they were doing their best to rob him. Do we not often hear it said that unless men are continually watched they will not do a fair day’s work? If one of the fishermen employed upon such a vessel were injured owing to the neglect -of the owner to see that all the fittings were in good order, he would be unable to claim compensation under this Bill. It seems to rae that this is one of those cases where the man who is the owner of the vessel, and who obtains the cheapest labour he. can get, ought to be compelled to make her safe.
– He is held responsible, but not under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– He is not held responsible, for this reason : The men may be told, “ When you took the vessel, you should have seen that everything was all right before you went to sea.” But often it is impossible to tell in advance whether a boat is in good order or not. My complaint is that in such, a case there will be no compensation for loss of life, except in the case of the boy, who would be earning, perhaps, £<a or £10 a year.
– From whom would the boy get compensation?
– From the employer, who was the ship-owner. The boy would have signed indentures.
– Suppose the men hired the smack.
– They do not hire smacks.
Senator Macfarlane. They do in Hobart.
– There is no such system in connexion with the fishing industry in England as the hiring of smacks.
– - We are dealing with Australia, not with England.
– I believe that the owner of a smack would not be liable if there were a co-partnership.
– Smacks are rented in many other places besides Hobart.
– That system is not followed, as a rule. The usual plan is. for the men to take the vessel out, and for the owner to take his share of the catch. It seems to me that this Bill does not secure all that we require. It is founded upon the English Act, and that in itself is a reason why we should take pains to adapt it to our conditions. There is another provision to which I am opposed. I do not believe in permitting any system of contracting out. I know very well what takes place under a system of that kind. A big firm is able to say to its workmen : ‘ ‘ We will have some sort of an arrangement of our own, whereby we shall be able to contract out of our liability under the law.” Under such a scheme there is no going to
Court in the event of a claim being made; and where you have the employer on the one side and the employe on the other without any publicity, there is no question of who will suffer.
– The honorable senator forgets that there is to be official supervision.
– I am not saying that there would be anything wrong with the fund. I do not say that a sufficient amount of money would not be paid in to meet claims. But I say that a man who gets injured, and who goes to his employer, saying, “ I think I am entitled to so much,” will not, in nine cases out of ten, get what he ought to receive if the matter is one simply of mutual arrangement. I remember a case where, not very long ago, two employers, accompanied by three workmen, asked a. State Minister not to institute a Wages Board in connexion with their trade. They said that they were perfectly satisfied with existing conditions. They did not want any increase of wages, and they did not consider that it was wise for the Minister to impose a Wages Board upon them, because they expected that they would not be so well off under it as they were at present. We have read in the newspapers of cases where men who were entitled to a wage of £2 per week received only 30s., but signed a pay-sheet for the larger amount.
– In this particular case the signature has to be that of the ComptrollerGeneral.
– I know that the fund has to l>e certified to be sound.
– Not merely has the fund to be solvent, but the seamen who claim are to get that to which they are entitled.
– Nevertheless I do not believe in any system of contracting out. If the scheme to which the workmen agree is an addition to what is proposed to be secured to them under this measure, it will be all right, but whatever the merits of the scheme may be I should not be in favour of any system whereby workmen would be enabled to contract themselves out of the benefits of a piece of legislation of this kind. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill. I am pleased to see that there is a prospect of unanimity upon a proposal of this description. That is the reason why, at the commencement of my speech, I said that even a despised Labour man sometimes gets a chance of witnessing good results from the work which he and those associated with him have been doing for years.
– - I had no intention to speak on the second reading of this Bill, but I am brought to my feet by the insufferable claim made by Senator Turley as to the monopoly of humanitarian feeling on the part of the anti-monopolist Labour party. Certainly, honorable senators opposite have a good conceit of themselves. Indeed, the virtues that they attribute to themselves are considerably greater than the circumstances warrant. I should like to draw attention to some remarks made by Senator Millen in introducing the Bill last night. He said - 0
Great Britain as recently as 1906, extended her Workmen’s Compensation Act to seamen. Certainly, continental countries had preceeded Great Britain in this desirable legislation. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, and’ Denmark had all made some provision for seamen ; the most complete being made by Germany, whilst Holland and Denmark confined the benefits of their legislation to those engaged in the local fishing trade.
It seems, therefore, that the countries which have been first in legislating for compensation for seamen, have been those where the Government has been more or less of a despotic character, and not parts of the world like Australia and New Zealand, where Labour legislation has been at its height. In these countries, we have beer slow. The fact that to-day we are getting up to the European standard, does not entitle the Labour party to claim that they, of all people in Australia, are to be praised for legislation such as we are asked to pass. Senator Turley referred in deprecatory terms to the German system of compulsory assurance, but it is not very long since we were told in the cable messages that Mr. Lloyd-George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had spent some time in Germany examining the system of compulsory assurance in vogue there. Mr. Lloyd-George is a man who is believed to entertain humanitarian sentiments. He expressed the highest admiration for the system, and wished that it were possible to adopt it in England. I can safely place Mr. LloydGeorge’s opinion upon this subject against that of Senator Turley. I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the merits of this Bill. Most of Senator Turley’s speech was devoted to the consideration of certain legislation in Queensland, particularly with a view of hitting at Colonel Foxton. I think that we can rest content to allow honorable senators opposite to profess humanitarian principles, while we practise them.
– - The novelty of Senator Pulsford’s present position is such that I think it is desirable that some emphasis should be laid upon it. We have heard a good deal about the new Protection lately, although precious little has been done to make the policy of the Government in that respect materialize. On this occasion, we have got beyond the new Protection. We have readied what we might very well call the new unionism of Senator Pulsford - the unionism of the Tories of Australia, who, all through their political lives, have been opposed to every reform that the old trade unionists such as myself and others sitting near me have been fighting for during the last thirty or forty years. Unionism is now to be supplanted by a new unionism of the Pulsford variety. That is an eye-opener of which some notice should be taken. I can assure honorable senators opposite that they will receive every assistance from this side in carrying this class of legislation. I only hope that we shall not need to act as pace-makers for them. Senator Pulsford has referred to the fact that certain Continental countries have been ahead of the United Kingdom in legislation of this kind; but if the honorable senator had been at all acquainted with the legislation of those countries, he would have known that they are ahead of the Old Country in many such matters.
– I said that they were ahead of countries where Labour was prominent.
– We have known the honorable senator as belonging to the type of Britisher who can see no good in the foreigner. But apparently when it suits him, and he thinks that he can score against the Labour party, he is able to make comparisons in favour of the foreigner. This is also a new attitude assumed by honorable senators opposite. I hope that they will keep their eyes open for reforms, even if they have to go to the Continent of Europe to discover them. With respect to the Continental countries about which Senator Pulsford would have us believe he knows so much, let me inform the honorable senator that in the Parliaments of every one of them there is a considerable number of active Socialists at work. There are Labour and Socialist parties in all of those Parliaments; but evidently Senator Pulsford knows nothing at all about the world-wide character of the Labour and Socialist movement.
– I suspect I know too much about it for the honorable senator.
– It is because Socialism is more advanced on the Continent of Europe than in the United Kingdom, as the result of the Socialist propaganda in those countries, that legislation of this character is more advanced there than it is in the Old Country. I hope that we shall have more of this’ kind of legislation submitted by honorable gentlemen opposite. But I see some honorable senators who will, I think, put a drag on the wheel if it goes much further. Honorable senators of the Labour’ party will be glad to go with honorable senators opposite as far as they are prepared to go in this direction, and, no doubt, to go a little further when honorable senators opposite have reached the end of their tether.
.- We are all grateful to the VicePresident of the Executive Council for the able way in which he introduced this Bill. I told the honorable senator that if he had been a lawyer he could not have done it better.
– That was not complimentary.
– I told him that he had mistaken his vocation. The honorable senator would probably have made a fortune if he had gone to the Bar. We are also grateful to Senator Guthrie for putting before us statistics affecting this matter in such a way that their significance could be seen at a glance. It startled me to find how badly our sailors have been treated. I should never have believed that the death rate, due to the character of their employment, was so great.
– Those statistics are published in the Board of Trade Gazette every month.
– They show that we have neglected the sailors too long. I have made a study of this matter, and nothing astonished me more than one or two little sneers at myself which I heard last night, and a direct statement by Senator Turley, which was entirely inaccurate. My attention was first directed to this class of legis- lation at a time when I did not know our wonderful ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, and had not heard of our able and intelligent friend, Senator Turley. I read in the London Times that a Workman’s Compensation Bill had been introduced and passed in the British House of Commons. I secured the Hansard report of the debate, and it appeared to me to prove conclusively the correctness of the principle that the industry in which, as the result of accidents, men were killed or maimed, or prevented from earning their livelihood should bear the obligation of providing compensation. That principle appeared to me to be so just and righteous, and so in accord with what might be expected from a civilized and Christian nation, that I begin at once to consider whether it could not be embodied in a practical measure. Senator Turley has told us that the New Zealand Government, under that great Democrat, Mr. Seddon, introduced and passed a Workman’s Compensation Bill in 1900, and that Mr. Fisher introduced such a Bill in the Queensland Parliament in 1898. I think that the honorable senator owes me an apology. I hope that honorable senators opposite will listen to the statement of fact that in that very year, 1898, I introduced and passed through the Tasmanian House of Assembly a Workman’s Compensation Bill, based upon the English Act. That was twelve or thirteen years ago, when I had never heard of the Australian Labour party, because I dd not read the Age and Argus in those days. But I read the London Times, and the justice of this principle impressed me, although honorable senators opposite put me down as a hidebound Conservative.
– There is no doubt about that.
– In answer to Senatar W. Russell, let me say that if two men passed the same kind of legislation, and have the same ideas of justice, it is a piece of folly to placard one as a Conservative and the other as a. Liberal. I have not the slightest objection to be placarded as honorable senators please. If a man’s thoughts are generous, just, and liberal, what does it matter if a few Labour members, ‘who imagine that they are the only Democrats and Liberal statesmen who ever lived placard him as one who holds other opinions? I say that I introduced and passed a Workman’s Compensation Bill twelve or thirteen years ago in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.
– The question is : Would Senator W. Russell have voted for it then?
– I do not think that the honorable senator- would. He was then a Tory farmer. If he had heard of such a proposition at that time, he would probably* have said : “ Oh, the next dodge will be to apply the Act to. agricultural labourers, and we shall have to pay compensation to men who are injured by reaping machines.” I believe that Senator Trenwith is right in suggesting that the honorable senator would not, at that time, have voted for such a measure. I must point out that, although my Bill was carried triumphantly through the House of Assembly in Tasmania, it was thrown out by the Legislative Council. I was elected a member of the Federal Convention, and when I left the State Parliament to enter Federal politics, I asked the Attorney-General of my Government, now Sir Elliott Lewis, to be sure to introduce the Bill again in the next session. He did so, it was passed again bv the House of Assembly, and was again thrown out by the Legislative Council. I admit that the arguments of those who were opposed to it appeared to me to be too Conservative. They were afraid to give effect to the principle that each industry must bear the cost of accidents attaching to it. I was very much pleased with the argument Submitted by Senator Pulsford, and nothing that Senator de Largie has said has detracted from its force. We find that when, in 1897, Great Britain moved in this matter, half-a-dozen of the leading Continental nations had already provided compensation for injured sailors.
– It was not until 1906 that Great Britain did so, though she had passed a Workman’s Compensation Act before that.
– Twenty years ago, or ai generation before Great Britain provided for compensation to sailors, some of the Continental nations had done so. It is of no use for Senator de Largie to tell us that Socialism is more advanced on the Continent. It may be in Germany, but in the majority of the countries referred to by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and again by Senator Pulsford today, the government is autocratic and conservative. Yet the Parliaments of those countries, recognising the risks run by seamen, did justice to them long before we ever heard the Labour party talking on this subject. Why is it that the Labour party have made so very little progress in the matter of compensation to sailors, and in connexion with this class of legislation generally, whilst they have achieved so much success in other departments of labour? At the Pan-Anglican Congress and in the Albert Hall, in London, I heard a man who is an economic authority, say that working men in Great Britain care more about a half-penny a day increase in wages than they do about the lives of their wives and children. It struck me that that was an unjust accusation to bring against them, but there is some foundation for it, because from what I can see of the work of the Labour party in Australia their great idea is, ‘” Can we increase wages j lessen the hours of employment ; improve the conditions of labour j deprive the capitalist, who is our enemy, of some of his gains, and put the money into our own pockets “ ? It would be unjust for me to say what I heard this gentleman say at the Albert Hall about the Labour party, but I’ do say that their great movement seems to me to be based and conducted on materialism, and that they are so busy trying to grab an increase of wages from their enemy the capitalist that they have no time to think of many other things which it would be better for then”-‘ to have in mind. If our Labour friends had not lost their sense of proportion and had agitated for workmen’s compensation legislation, as they have clone for increases of wages, such legislation would have been on the statute-books of every State of the Commonwealth long ago. It is because they have been so much concerned with gross materialism in the effort to increase wages that they have overlooked the interests of our sailors, “who carry their lives in their hands, and so this legislation has not previously been passed.
– It is due to the opposition of the Dobsons.
– The honorable senator does me a gross wrong. He was not present just now when I explained that I introduced and carried a Workmen’s Compensation Bill through the Tasmanian House of Assembly twelve years ago. The honorable senator does me a great wrong in making against me a statement which is absolutely devoid of accuracy. I should not like to say that Senator Turley shows his ignorance, because if there is any honorable senator on the other side who has impressed me with the idea that he knows a good deal, and to whom I listen with respect, it is Senator Turley. But the honorable senator evidently knows nothing about the German system of old-age pensions, which he condemns. I tried to prevail upon the Senate to adopt the German system, which includes an old-age pension, an invalid pension, a sick pay pension, and an accident pension. I pointed out that its adoption would do away with many objectionable features, that under it -we should not have such a condition of affairs that a man would be entitled to compensation if he fell from a platform 20 feet high, but not if the platform were six inches lower. I tried to persuade the Senate to adopt the German system side by side with the existing old-age pensions system which, to my mind, is nothing but a charity. At a luncheon table, only two hours ago, a man said to me that it is nothing but charity making the thrifty pay for the thriftless, and the sooner the German system is introduced - not instead of it, but side by side with it - the better it will be. Would Senator Turley be surprised to hear that under the German system, which I have twice brought before the Senate, the whole of the compensation for an injury to a workman falls upon the employer? He knows nothing about the matter.
– Yes ; but only within the last four or five years.
– There are three different funds. For years, the whole of the compensation has fallen upon the employer.
– At first it did not. It has only clone so during the last few years.
– The honorable senator is -again showing his ignorance of the system. In Germany, there is an old-age pensions fund which is provided partly by the employer and partly by the worker, and subsidized by the State to the extent of £2 10s. Next, there is a sick fund which is provided partly by the employer and partly by the worker. And then there is an accident fund, which is contributed to absolutely by the employer.
– At any rate, when the honorable senator referred to the German system in his speech, he meant the German system of to-day.
– I meant the German system of to-day, as well as five years ago. I want Senator Turley to realize the gross impropriety of his . reference to that system. When I read the English Act, I could not understand why agricultural labourers, who sometimes lose their arms, and seamen had been left out of its provisions. I have been reading with surprise ever since cases of the kind which Senator Turley repeated to us, and which are all to be found in the law reports. He left out the most important case of all, and that is the cat case. A workman’s hand was bitten by a cat, blood poisoning ensued, and he died. When the widow sued, she fortunately got compensation. Why ? Because her husband’s hand was bitten by a cat on the premises. The Court said that if a cat had come in from the street and bitten the man, compensation would not have been allowed to his widow. I rejoice with my brother Democrats, or whatever they choose to call themselves, that we are now getting Compensation Bills which apply to all workmen and to all accidents, and which do not leave room for law cases to arise.
– But this Bill applies to only onesection.
– It only applies to seamen. But I am happy to know that England - and I hope that we will all follow her example - has a comprehensive Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– Which some States in Australia have not yet obtained.
– I think that the points covered by the schedule can be better dealt with in Committee. It would be a very great mistake if honorable senators on the other side were to try to increase the compensation, and so make the Bill a burden on the shipping industry.
– We intend to try to increase it.
- Senator Guthrie did not announce that intention, nor did the honorable senator.
– Well, I know that he intends to try.
– If the members of the Labour party are too greedy, and open their mouths too widely, they will make a serious blunder. My honorable friend opposite has been guilty of a gross wrong to myself in misquoting my opinions and ideas on this subject. The maximum compensation provided for in the Bill is£400, as compared with£300 in Great Britain. The benefits provided for a person partly maimed, and partly deprived of the means of earning a living, are fairly good.
– Only£1 a week.
– If my honorable friends on the other side try to alter the Bill in that regard, they will only delay its passage, and do more harm than good. It will be time enough for them to propose to increase the benefits when they have placed upon labour the obligation of making a small contribution - I do not care how small - to a fund of this kind. It is all very fine for Senator Turley to laugh, but we all know what occurred last night in another place not many yards distant. If we have a Bill which has no finality, which is based on no principle, and in which the benefits will be increased until the Treasuryis emptied, trade depressed, and progress prevented, that will never bring about the sound enduring prosperity that we want in Australia. Senator Turley also said that he did not believe in contracting out. No; because he believes most firmly, and I have heard him, or a brother senator, say, that capital is the enemy of labour. So long as my honorable friends base their industrialism on that fallacy, on that absolute inaccuracy, if I cannot call it something worse, they can never have sound and enduring progress here. Last night, Senator Millen pointed out that the fund is in every way to be safeguarded, but Senator Turley wants to cut away from the employers those noble examples which the Old Country furnishes to them. Does he not know what is going on at Cadbury’s factory and the Sunlight soap factory? Does he not know that co-operation and partnership are being extended largely ? Does he not know that that system alone can make for sound progress? What hideous nonsense it is for a gentleman named Thomas, from the Barrier, and a gentleman named Findley, to declare that labour and capital are enemies ! They are not. My honorable friends cannot build up an industrial Commonwealth on such a fallacy. When this Bill enables and encourages a great shipowner with his seamen to have a fund of their own, perhaps to give more benefits than we can bestow, a Labour senator gets up and says here that he will have no contracting out.
– What Senator Findley said was that the capitalist was the enemy of labour.
– All that I can say is that my honorable friends cannot build up an enduring Commonwealth, or an industrialism, on a fallacy of that sort. It is a mistake for Senator Turley to object to contracting out.
– I have always objected to it.
–Has not the honorable senator read of the movements going on in America, Germany, and Denmark?
– Why not give scope in this Bill ‘for a movement of that kind to take place here? Does not the honorable senator knows that in Cadbury’s establishment 4,000 employes- have their own pension fund, and that, instead of receiving £26 a year, they get ,£60? Evidently he wants to cut out the encouragement which the Bill holds out to workmen. Why should not the Union Steam-ship Company, the moment the Bill is passed, or previously, put down the sum of ^20,000 and start a fund?
– They did start a fund, and it has dropped out.
– Why has it dropped out? It has dropped out by reason of such arguments as Senator Turley has used. It has been discouraged by men who will consent to nothing but an Act with the Labour party behind it.
– When the Act was passed in New Zealand, the company had their own fund.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator will misunderstand me until the end of time. But I cannot help that. The blunders of my honorable friends on the other side are so atrocious that they would arrest the progress of any country.
– Can the honorable senator defend Mr. Robert Harper’s progress ?
– I ask the honorable senator not to attempt to drag the speaker in that direction.
– With regard to one of the points on which Senator Turley, spoke at such length, Senator Millen has placed in my hands the case of Ellis v. Joseph Ellis and. Company.,* which absolutely upset the arguments he put forward. It is a case in which four or five men leased a mine on tribute for the purpose of working it in partnership. It was arranged that one of them should be foreman at a weekly wage, to 6e paid out of the profits of the mine. He was killed, and when his wife sued, the Judges held that he was a partner, that, therefore, the Act did not apply, and she could get no compensation. But all these points, I think, can be better discussed in Committee. I have spoken at this stage because when I am in the chair I may not have an opportunity to speak. I hope Senator Turley will see that he has done me a gross injustice.
– Last night I listened with great delight to the speech of Senator Millen. In fact, I was afraid that he was going a little too far to suit one of his supporters. I have always admired his ability as a kind of revivalist - I do not speak disrespectfully - but in the position he holds to-day the words he expresses, being words of wisdom, carry some weight with his side. Had they been uttered by Senator McGregor or Senator Pearce, some honorable senators on the other side would have been up in arms against the speaker.
– Do not believe it.
- Senator Gray and Senator Dobson, and to some extent Senator Walker, would have protested. I have risen because of the egotistical speech of Senator Dobson. He reminds me of an old saying in the Old Country, “ he damns all parties but his ane.” Will it be believed that the honorable senator, who is always so pronounced in denouncing the Labour party here, and who challenged any member of the Labour party to debate the policy on a platform, backed down after his challenge had been accepted? It was very amusing to hear the honorable senator say this afternoon that he has been a reformer for thirteen years or more, while I was a Conservative farmer. I have known the honorable senator bv repute since the days of the Federal Convention in Adelaide. I remember reading a speech in which he said he was not afraid to give as many votes to an individual as his property entitled him to receive.
– I must ask the honorable senator to debate the Bill.
– I anticipated, sir, that you would intervene. I might have quoted from the official report of the proceedings of the Federal Convention for the purpose of showing how unjustified was the egotism in which Senator Dobson indulged this afternoon. For him to take to himself credit ‘for what he did in Tasmania in the interests of the working classes is sheer nonsense. It is significant that he failed to tell us the nature of the Bill which he introduced into the Tas- manian Parliament. But I may add that he was on a very good wicket, seeing that he knew there was a Legislative Council behind him which would be sure to reject that Bill.
– I would point out that the honorable senator is not in order in reflecting upon the motives of any other honorable senator.
- Senator Dobson has reflected upon the motives of the Labour party, and has also indulged in Abuse. I do not intend to follow his example in the latter direction; but when he is permitted to refer to me individually, and to the party to which I belong, in the way “that he did, I think that I am speaking in quite a parliamentary fashion. Reference has been made to the introduction of a Workmen’s Compensation Bill into the South Australian Parliament. At the time, I was a member of the Legislative Council of that State, and I well’ remember the difficulty which we experienced in getting that measure passed. I regret that my honorable colleague, Senator McGregor, who is a most regular attendant here, is absent from the Chamber, because he would be able to correct me if I am wrong in stating that the Factories Bill was passed by the House of Assembly in South Australia for five years in succession before the Legislative Council was induced to agree to regulations which would enable it to be brought into operation. Senator Dobson has referred to the question of oldage pensions. The first occasion upon which that matter was brought under my notice was in 1894, prior to my becoming a candidate for the Legislative Council of South Australia. It was then one of the principal planks in the Labour platform. I read the platform of the National League and that of the Labour party side by side, and I d’d not decide to support either. I adopted a medium course, my reason being that at the time the Labour party were in favour of an all-round increase of the land tax. At the last election for this Parliament I do not say that Senator Vardon pledged himself to oppose the payment of old-age pensions-
– I must ask the honorable senator how he is going to connect his remarks concerning old-age pensions with the Bill which is under consideration? Whilst I am willing to allow him every possible latitude, some limitation must be imposed upon debate. I cannot permit him to discuss all legislation of a cognate character to this Bill. I am quite ready to permit him to make an incidental refer.ence to such legislation, but the whole of his speech must not be foreign to the subject matter of the measure which is now under consideration.
– Did the honorable senator say that I was opposed to a Federal scheme of old-age pensions?
– No j but the opponents of the Labour party-
– I would point out to the honorable senator that the question of who are supporters, or who are opponents, of the Labour party is not now under consideration.
– In view of the latitude which has been allowed to other honorable senators, I thought that I should be safe in referring to that question. As honorable senators opposite have described the Labour party as their opponents, surely I am at liberty to speak of them as our opponents. We have had to fight them inch by inch for the franchise-
– Order ! Will the honorable senator resume his seat ? Surely he must see that he is getting a long way from the Seamen’s Compensation Bill when he speaks about the fight for the franchise? The honorable senator has alluded to the fact that latitude has been extended to other honorable senators. I quite recognise that. But I have also allowed the honorable senator himself a great deal of latitude. He is now endeavouring to increase that latitude, and if I permit him to do so, another honorable senator will probably desire to increase it still further. He must recognise’ that some limitation must be imposed upon his remarks.
– I admit that, and in future, sir, I may be of some assistance to you by calling your attention to the remarks of other honorable senators. I am quite satisfied with your ruling, so long as I can believe that I am getting fair play.
– I shall see that the honorable senator gets fair play.
– It just takes me all my time to believe that. I shall endeavour to believe it; but it takes me all my time to do so.
– That is very ungracious.
– At any rate, that is how -I feel. I like fair play, and it is very easy for me to notice that other honorable senators can interject-
– I would point out-
– Chair, chair !
– I ask Senator W. Russell to accept the ruling of the Chair.
– When the President rises, surely it is the duty of an honorable senator to resume his seat.
– Is Senator Fraser in order in chattering away in this fashion?
– I would point out to Senator W. Russell that he should not utter words which may be construed into a reflection upon the Chair, even although he may not so intend them. I ask him to adhere as closely as possible to the question that is now before the Senate. I wish to give him the same fair play that is extended to other honorable senators.
– In order to satisfy you, Mr. President, I shall resume my seat.
– I think we may congratulate ourselves upon the fact that a Bill so farreaching, so just, and democratic, has been presented for our consideration. In my judgment, we should do well not to discuss the question of who first introduced a measure of this sort, or whether those who are now supporting it were always in favour of it. The important consideration is that those who are in favour of it now have an opportunity of voting for it. The criticisms of those who have been opposed to us were just and proper at the time-
– Were they?
– I think so. I always believe that my own criticisms of a measure are just and proper at the time. When honorable senators who were formerly opposed to this Bill now favour it, surely it is a matter for congratulation rather than for condemnation. I see a possibility - not in this instance, I am glad to say - of hostile criticism alienating the support of persons who, for whatever reasons, are with us to-day. I think it is almost a mistake to attribute base motives to anybody. Whatever may be the reason for certain honorable senators supporting this Bill - even if their reason be a base one - it is wisdom on our part to take advantage of their co-operation, and to again resist them when they may oppose us. Consequently, I do not intend to discuss this measure. It is so much in accord with my own principles that its second reading; might be carried without debate.
– Then why is the honorable senator speaking?
– To deprecatediscussion.
– To give us a little lecture.
-I am entitled, to do so in the interests of the country. I am speaking in order to deprecate the waste of time that is involved in the discussion of matters upon which we are agreed. So far there has not been a word’ said in opposition to the Bill.
– What is the honorable senator saying about it now?
– Simply that the measure is so good that we ought to agree to its second reading without discussion, get into Committee, and pass it through its remaining stages without delay.
– I must congratulate Senator Trenwith upon the lecture which he has given us upon etiquette and good manners. He is getting into the habit of addressing such lectures to honorable senators. He is such a master of deportment himself that we, who are so uncouth, rude, and barbarous, are indebted to him for his efforts to teach us how we ought to behave in the higher plane of politics. The little lecture to which we have just listened is only one of several that we have heard from the honorable senator recently. I suppose that he has adopted that rôle -
– For thirty years.
– Until recently we had not heard such remarks from him, and, therefore, he must excuse us if we express our surprise.
– Honorable senators opposite were his friends for seven years.
– Then I must suppose that his lectures in the past have been directed to my honorable friends opposite, and that we have missed them. I am very pleasedthat the Government have seen fit to make this Bill one of the first measures of the session. It was a Bill which the Fisher Government had decided to bring forward, and the fact that their successors have introduced it thus early is a pleasure to me. I shall not occupy the time of the Senate very long, and I shall not question the propriety of the action of the Government in pushing it to the front. No doubt their action will occasion several twinges of conscience on the part of honorable senators opposite, but that is a matter for themselves. I have no doubt that most of them are hardened enough politicians to accept the dose with a good grace.
– I am glad that the honorable senator admits that we have consciences.
– Oh, I acknowledge that honorable senators opposite have consciences.
– We cannot return the compliment !
– The mere fact that they have assured the Senate that they are in earnest on this question convinces me that they have consciences. The Bill is a good one, as far as I can see. Of course, it would have to be framed by angels before it could go through a legislative body like this without criticism.
– We do not claim so much yet.
– I propose to touch only on two points in the measure itself. I have first a word or two to say on the subject of contracting out. I judge from the interjections made by some honorable senators opposite, notably by Senator Trenwith, that they have not read the provision dealing with this subject. The honorable senator whom I have mentioned said that the measure provided that the Comptroller of Customs must see that the scheme of contracting out was solvent. The Bill makes no such provision. What it provides is that when the scheme is submitted to the Comptroller, he has to satisfy himself that it will be. possible for the seamen under it to get compensation similar to that they could get under this Bill if there were no contracting out scheme.
– Could an insolvent scheme answer that test?
– When the scheme is put before the Comptroller, he certifies that in his view it is one that would give the seamen the benefits which this legislation is designed to secure for them ; and upon the issue of that certificate by the Comptroller, this measure, so far as it relates to the scheme, becomes a dead letter, except that- it acts as a sort of governor in providing that some benefit shall be secured to the workmen. But there is this weakness, which attaches not only to this Bill, but to every measure of the kind which is founded upon the English Act. There is no provision to safe- guard the solvency of the scheme when it is in actual operation. The duty of the Comptroller, as. far as relates to the solvency of the scheme, is a theoretical one, After the scheme has been presented to him, and he has, to the best of his ability, and in the light of his knowledge, affirmed his opinion that it is actuarially sound, heissues his certificate. But suppose that thescheme put into operation is based upon the experience of a number of years. A scheme thus considered to be theoretically sound might be rendered unsound by a disaster occurring. Under those circumstances, the position could easily be created of workmen making a claim upon the scheme for compensation, and .the scheme being unable to provide them with compensation equivalent to that which would have been recoverable from the employer under the law. There is nothing in this Bill to provide that in that event the employer shall be responsible for the difference between what is paid to the workmen under the unsound scheme, and what they should receive under the law.
– Might not that occur under almost any scheme?
– That does not make the position any better.
– The position which, the honorable senator indicates shows that the scheme could hardly be sound.
– The scheme might be actuarially sound, but a series of circumstances which might not have been taken into consideration might have rendered it unsound. I have before me Ruegg’s Employers’ Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Act, the standard legal work on this subject. It is a very good book. It deals with the provisions of the English Act, which are identical with those embodied in this Bill. On page 336, the writer observes -
There is no provision that the employer is to guarantee the solvency of the scheme, or to pay compensation if for any reason it cannot be obtained from the funds appropriated to the scheme. If the contract is once made, the employer is thenceforth, until the certificate expires, or is revoked, to be “ liable only in accordance with the scheme.”
I do not accuse the Government of having tried under this Bill to facilitate contracting out j nor should I like to think that the Government would adopt a scheme with any flaw in it. But I wish to put the view that, if it is intended that the scheme of contracting out should place the seamen in exactly the same position as that in which this Bill places him, then the employer should be made liable for the solvency of the scheme. That is to say, if by any means the scheme should net prove to be solvent, in meeting the full claims made against it, the employer should be liable for the difference between the amount recoverable under the unsound scheme and what would have been recoverable under this measure.
– It would be better to omit the provision as to contracting out altogether.
– I do not see the necessity for that. We know that a great fight has raged in England over this question of contracting out; -and this provision was practically a compromise accepted by those who were fighting against the contracting out principle. The compromise was accepted because it safeguarded the position of the employ^, and at the same time gave the employer the right to make any arrangement he liked in co-operation with his employes. I do not personally see any objection to contracting out in principle, provided we absolutely safeguard the Bill by the provision that if the scheme adopted is not solvent the employer shall be liable to the extent of the deficiency. The other point upon which I wish to make a few remarks relates to the amount of compensation. -I regret that the Government have not been a little more generous in this respect. Paragraph (b) of clause i of the first schedule reads -
Where total or partial incapacity for work results from the injury, a weekly payment during the incapacity not exceeding fifty per centum of the seaman’s average weekly earnings during the previous twelve months, if lie has been so long employed, but if not then for any less period during which he has been in the employment of the same employer, such weekly payment not to exceed one pound, and that total liability of the employer in respect thereof shall not exceed four hundred pounds.
– I propose to ask the Committee to strike out the words limiting the liability to £400.
– I have before me a return, to the order of the House of Lords, dated 28th May, 1906, which refers to the system in Germany. It is stated that as compensation must be granted -
One reason why I think we should raise the amount of payment in case of injury is this. We all know from actual experience that wages are largely based upon the cost of the means of subsistence. They tend always to sink to the margin of subsistence. There is no doubt that the heaviest demands upon a man’s purse are made during a time of sickness or injury. Therefore, we can justify paying to an injured worker the same amount as he would receive in a condition of health, if not more; because his expenses are greater and his need for money is greater. But there is this further point to be borne in mind. It may be said that to increase the amount would be to impose too heavy a burden on the employers. I have been a workman under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of Western Australia, which is similar to this Bill. I know, as a matter of fact, that in actual practice the premiums were paid by the employes. That applied to the building trade, at any rate.
– Where unions or Wages Boards have determined the rate of wages per hour or per day, how ‘is it possible for employers under this Bill to deduct rates from the workmen ?
– They could not do it legally, I admit. But in Western Australia it is the common practice, especially in the building trade, for a deduction to be made of sixpence per week to meet Employers’ Liability and Workmen’s Compensation claims.
– Could that be done under the Factories Act in this State?
– I do not. know whether it could be legally done. My point is that generally the employer himself will pay the insurance.
– As a. rule, it is a matter of arrangement between the employer and his men.
– As a rule, the employe is not consulted.
– I always consulted my men.
– I see no objection to raising the amount, because, as I say, in many cases the burden is borne entirely by the workmen themselves.
– If we raised the amount for the reason given, should we not provide that the employe shall contribute ?
– No. I think that if there is one industry in Australia which can well afford to carry the burden of accidents occurring in it, it is the shipping industry. When we find the Adelaide S.S. Company, for instance, paying 5 per cent, half-yearly dividends, a 5 per cent, bonus, arid building new ships out of profits, and other companies doing as well, while I wish them all success, I say that the industry in which they are engaged certainly cannot claim to be poverty-stricken.
– The honorable senator suggests that the compensation should be increased beyond 50 per cent, of the wage earned.
– I say that in cases of total incapacity it should be. Senator Guthrie proposes to submit a proposition in connexion with the matter when we get into Committee. But in general terms I say that we might very well increase the amount of compensation proposed to be paid under this Bill. I shall not take up further time. With a little safeguarding of the provision for contracting out, this should be made a good measure, and should confer a great benefit upon the seamen of Australia.
– I shall not occupy the Senate for very long in speaking upon this measure. I sincerely trust that I shall not offend even Senator Trenwith by daring to say a few words.
– No one offends me by speaking on the Bill.
– I fully appreciate the action of the Government. I heartily congratulate them on having brought forward a measure of this character. Its necessity has been so clearly shown bv the historical references to seamen and the dangers of their calling that I need not enlarge upon it. In. my opinion, Senator Pearce touched upon the most important feature of the measure. It is one in connexion with which the Government have displayed a weakness which is to be noticed in every Compensation Act that I am acquainted with. They have failed entirely in this Bill to make provision for the case of the man who, as the result of an accident, has been rendered incapable of following his occupation. I have had considerable experience in these matters. I know something of the operation of Compensation Acts passed in Australia^ and particularly in Western Australia. I know of cases where the regular earnings of workmen have been reduced by 50 per cent., when, through accident, they have become incapacitated. I know what has been the result following upon such a reduction of earnings. As Senator Pearce has said, there is no time in a man’s life when the need of money in hand is so pressing as when he is reduced in circumstances through sickness or accident. The weakness displayed by other Governments in dealing with such measures has been repeated by the Federal Government. 1 trust that the Senate will modify this Bill by raising the amount of compensation to be paid in cases of accident to seamen to an amount, considerably higher than 50 per cent, of the regular wages earned.
– It need not even be 50 per cent, of the regular wage, because, under this Bill, it is limited to 20s. per week.
– Senator Turley is quite right. I hope that before the Bill gets through Committee we shall be able to make such an amendment as I suggest. After all, we shall not be taking anything for injured seamen out of the pockets of their employers. Every employer in the State must agree with me that he does not pay a solitary cent in compensation to an injured worker.
– It just depends.
– In the first place, the worker earns the money, and then the employer doles .it out to him.
– What happens when the employer loses his money ?
– He shuts up.
– He does not, and it would be a terrible thing if he always did shut up.
– Senator Guthrie, by interjection when the VicePresident of the Executive Council was speaking, said in effect that it would take employers all their time to get the money out of the seamen. Let me say that the money required for insurance of this kind will be *a** readily obtained from seamen as from those engaged in any other industry. My experience in connexion with Arbitration Acts and this class of legislation convinced me, if I had needed convincing, thai an industry must pay for its own insurance. If, for instance, we take a wages question before a Court, the Court at once takes into consideration the costs sheet of the employer. I venture to say that there is not one employer in Australia whose industry is affected by a Compensation Act who has gone into Court without including in his expenses so much for insurance money for the men he employs.
– It is just the same as (ire insurance.
– It is exactly the same. I, therefore, say that if we raise the amount of compensation to the full amount of the regular wages earned, it will be incorrect to s,a> that we shall be taking anything from the employer. In the end the workman earns all he will get. First of all, by his industry he assists to accumulate the fund from which he is paid. Whilst we may, in this measure, get a little in advance of the position so far reached, so long as we are without legislation which in any and all conditions provides for a reasonable wage, the employer will be able to get every penny of his insurance money out of the worker before the worker gets anything from him at all.
– The worker has to produce his wages before he gets them.
– Of course he has. We all know that, and therefore it is wrong to speak as if we were proposing something in the way of legislation which would take something out of the pockets of the employers.
– It just depends how far we go.
– We shall haw to go a long way before we get very much. We need to pass a measure which will insure to the man who is accidentally injured in the course of his employment such compensation as will enable him to continue to live under conditions that will be tolerable to him. If a man earns j£p I OS. per week, and his wages are reduced by 50 per cent, because he happens to meet with a serious accident, the probabilities are that the whole of the reduced income will be required to meet extra expenditure arising from the accident, and no provision will toe left for ordinary living expenses. Whilst congratulating the Government on introducing this Bill, I hope they will not follow in the footsteps of the State Parliaments that have already passed Compensation Acts, but will rather strive to see that those who are injured are given fair and reasonable compensation. .1 think we shall injure no one if we provide for compensation equal to 0 the ordinary wages earned. In some instances, in the shipping industry, that would not amount to very much. We should seek to make the Bill as perfect as we can, and one which will relieve from penury and hardship the man who has the misfortune to meet with an accident, and also those who are dependent upon him. I shall do my best towards that end in Committee. In the meantime, I shall support the second reading of the Bill, and I again congratulate the Government on having introduced a measure in the consideration of which it will be possible for us to do something worthy of our efforts.
– - It has afforded me much pleasure to note the kindly tone of the various speeches on this Bill. ‘ I think that Senator Millen cannot be too highly praised for the tone of the speech in which he introduced it. I shall have much pleasure in supporting the measure. Most honorable senators have spoken as if the only provision in case of accident is afforded by a compensation measure. It seems to me extraordinary that nowadays sailors and others who follow occupations in which they are liable to accident do not make greater use than they do of accident insurance companies. Many employers of labour may not be able to do what they would like to do for those who have been injured in their employment. Surely men who are in receipt of a moderate income can afford to put aside a little to supplement what they get from their employer? One would imagine from some of the speeches made here that all the provision is to be obtained under the Act. I think that a .satisfactory arrangement could be made with an Accident Assurance Company. I hold that, apart from this measure, in their own interests, workmen ought to assure their lives against accident with companies. I compliment Senator Guthrie upon his interesting speech, and I was in hopes that with the close of that excellent speech the second reading of the Bill would have been allowed to go without further remark.
– I intend to support the motion, and- 1 can honestly say that I welcome the Bill as a well-deserved return to a certain class of workmen, who have been too long kept out of provisions which ought to have been extended to them. It is unfortunate that on an occasion of this kind a recriminatory feeling should be displayed, and that some of the hostility with which similar measures have been confronted should be raked up. It is only fair that I should make a few remarks on the other side. I propose to quote from Hansard to show the manner in which a measure of this kind was received the first time in the Queensland Parliament. After a fairly long discussion Mr. Fisher, the author of the Bill, used these words on the 16th November, 1899 -
If no one else wishes to speak I should like to say a few words in reply. I thank those honorable members who have spoken on the second reading for the considerate manner in which they have dealt with the subject.
– That was the usual courtesy.
– And after the AttorneyGeneral had talked for nearly two days.”
– I do not propose to appraise the value of Mr. Fisher’s profession on that occasion, but as a laugh of derision has gone up from the other side at the quotation of his statement, I will not join in the imputation against him of hypocrisy and insincerity. An absent Minister who is not here to defend himself has been again attacked.
– And will be again, probably.
– Whether that is the proper thing to do here or not is probably a question of taste which will be determined according to the temperament of the gentleman who will use the occasion to attack an absent man. Whether right or wrong I feel that the Senate will say that I am but doing my duty in standing by a comrade who is not here to answer charges. Before reading the quotation I may explain that Colonel Foxton was Home Secretary in the Queensland Government when the Bill was brought in by Mr. Fisher. At the conclusion of his speech he used these words -
I have no more to say on the’ Bill at present. I shall probably have a good deal to say in regard to the details when we get into Committee, with a view, either to the excision of some of these industries and occupations, which are mentioned in clause 3, or else to the inclusion of a large number of others which I am unable to differentiate from those which are mentioned.
– In no part of the speech did he call the people who introduced the Bill “rogues and robbers.”
– I am not able to find such a statement.
– In the next column he said that they were dishonest. He wanted to know why they did not get the fund in an honest manner.
– Senator Turley should know that in the Law Courts there have been notorious cases of gross dishonesty against the spirit and intention of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. And, that, no doubt, was what my friend Mr. Foxton was referring to then.
– How could he be referring to cases brought under an Act which had not then been passed? .
– There was a similar Act in force in Queensland at the time.
– I regret that when the Government, with a strong support, bring in a clear and comprehensive measure, men should be made the subject of imputations and charges which, if not inaccurate, utterly misrepresent their feelings. We had from our leader an able, clear, and humanitarian presentation of the subject. I regret that when he opened on a fine keynote and spoke clearly it did not entirely silence imputations, and what is worse than useless, recriminations? I have tried to modify some of the personal criticism which has fallen from the other side, and I hope that the Senate will see that seamen shall receive corresponding advantages to those which other workmen have already received.
– In order to clear up one or two matters which seem to be in dispute between Senators Turley and St. Ledger, and to show that the former did not make any statement with regard to Colonel Foxton which was not justified by the public record of that gentleman, I propose to make a’ quotation from page 283 of volume 84 of the Queensland Hansard for . the 9th August, 1900. I intend to read the context, as well as the actual statement of Colonel Foxton, which I desire to bring out.
The HOME SECRETARY.- The honorable member who introduced the measure told us that nothing could be found to indicate that anybody was at fault in connexion with those accidents and injuries; then why should the employer, who was not at fault, pay for those widows and orphans, and perhaps leave his own widow and orphans, when he dies, without anything at all?
– Why should the unfortunate labourer be ruined?
The HOME SECRETARY.- Why should the employer be ruined? I say that you may compensate, but do it in an honest way, and get your fund in a proper way, in an honest way, by asking the man who is to be benefited by the fund-
– It is no benefit to him. It would be better for him not to be hurt in the first instance.
The HOME SECRETARY.- I suppose that if a man has any regard and love for his wife and children it is some benefit to him to know that there will be something for them if he is injured. The honorable member must have a perverted and twisted conscience to talk like that.
Because* I said that it was the duty of the employers in an industry to see that the workman was compensated, he said that it was a dishonest way, and that any man who would make such a proposition must have a perverted and twisted conscience. That remark applies to Senator Millen, who introduced this Bill. According to his colleague, Colonel Foxton, he has a perverted and twisted conscience. I believe, and always have believed, that, while accidents are liable to occur in every employment, and while, perhaps, they are unavoidable in many cases, those accidents should be a charge on, the industry in which they occur, just the same as any other charge is made on the industry. The steam-ship? which trade on our coast pay for the coal they consume and the shafts they break. Why should they not also pay for the lives they consume, or the legs or arms they break? Is human life a mere nothing? Should it not be paid for by the industry in which it is lost? Nobody who uses a service would grudge the slight additional charge which should be necessary to enable that service to meet a liability of that kind to the worker. I desire to approach this subject without any heat, now that I have put on record the “facts with regard to a matter which was in dispute. I hold that by every law of equity or morality compensation for injuries is a legitimate charge on the industry in which they are sustained. Holding that belief, I welcome this Bill. It is somewhat late in the clay that we have arrived at this humanitarian conclusion. However, I do not propose to abuse honorable senators on the other side because, even at this late hour, they have become converted. I congratulate them on their conversion. I also congratulate Senator Millen upon having presented the Bill in a very sympathetic and able speech.
– And without being converted.
– I am glad to see the Minister converted. I also congratulate him upon being in the position of introducing a Bill of this character. I think it is an honour which ought to be appreciated by any public man in the Commonwealth. I congratulate him upon having bad that opportunity. We have been fighting for such legislation for a long time, and have been violently abused for our pains. We have been told that we have perverted consciences. Whilst congratulating the Government upon the general tenor of the BilL I do not subscribe to every provision in it. With others, I believe that the compensation to be granted under it is altogether too small. If there is a time in a man’s life when he requires the full income that he ordinarily earns, it is when he is ill. That is not the time to cut down his income j rather he requires a larger income. On the other hand, should he chance to be killed, his dependants, I think, should be granted generous compensation. I do not propose to discuss details in this connexion at . the present juncture. I shall content myself with remarking that the compensation proposed to be granted in cases of disablement and of fatal accident is quite insufficient. In Committee, I shall do my best to extend more generous treatment to persons injured1 in the seafaring industry. I think that weought to make the provisions of this Bill so liberal that every man engaged in that industry will be glad to take advantage of/ it. For that reason there should be no contracting out. The provision which permitsof that system is, in my opinion, an ugly excrescence on the Bill which ought to be eliminated. If we enable every seafaring man to come within the scope of the. measure, if we eliminate every provision! that is. calculated to enable it to be evaded, and if we increase the compensation to be granted under it, I am satisfied that it will emerge from Committee a measure of which we have every .right to be proud.
– I should not have risen but for the statement of Senator Givens that he thought it proper to definitely place on record the truth or otherwise of the allegations made bv Senator Turley. Senator Turley, as he raised his voice to denounce us for daring to do anything of a humanitarian nature, declared that when the Workmen’s Compensation -Bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament, he and Senators Stewart and Givens were called “ rogues and robbers.” Those are the very words which he used. Senator, Givens then interjected, “ We will give him his own words out of Hansard,” and Senator Turley replied, “Yes; the words are to be found there.” . Naturally, I turned to the Queensland Hansard, to ascertain what happened on the occasion in question, and the best evidence of the treatment which «the measure in question received in the Queensland Parliament is to be found in the words used by Mr. Fisher himself when he was finally replying on the Bill. I do <not think that Senator Turley will seriously attempt to prove that, as a party, those -who were opposed to him in the Queensland Parliament ever referred to himself and Senators Givens and Stewart as ‘ ‘ rogues and robbers.” In the beginning the honorable senator made his charge against the party as a whole, but finally he levelled it against one member of the Ministry. I defy him, or any of his friends, to produce a copy of the Queensland Hansard containing the words which he has attributed to members of the party which was opposed to him in the Parliament of that State. It is a mean and contemptible thing to pretend to read such words from
– I rise to a point of order. I have been accused of “ pretending “ to read out of Hansard, and I say that that statement is a lie. I did read from it.
– Order ! The honorable senator must absolutely withdraw that observation. Such a statement should not have been made in the Senate.
– I withdraw.
– If Senator Chataway has accused Senator Givens of pretending to read something from Hansard which is not there, he ought also to with.draw. I must ask him to do so.
– I have not made the remark. If my sentence had not been cut in halves by Senator Givens rising ito a point of order, the remaining words “which I uttered would have been heard, and it would then have been found that they conveyed no such imputation as the honorable senator has alleged. What I said was that Senator Givens pretended to read from the Queensland Hansard words which meant the same thing as was alleged by Senator Turley.
– I did read them. -I did not merely “ pretend “ to do so.
– Senator Chataway has stated that Senator Givens pretended to read certain words from the Queensland Hansard. He will have to withdraw the word “ pretended,” because it is plain that Senator Givens did read from that Hansard.
– Certainly I withdraw. I express regret for the word which I used.
– The honorable senator knows that I read from the Queensland ” Hansard
– I am very sorry the honorable senator should have thought that I had suggested that he had falsified the Queensland Hansard report. I repeat that the best evidence of the way in which the measure to which Senator . Turley referred, was treated in the Queensland Parliament, is to be found in the words used by Mr. Fisher when, in replying upon the motion for its second reading, he thanked members all round the House for the courteous consideration which they had extended to it.
– It was talked out for two days.
– That statement does not convey to the public the fact that it could only come on for consideration for two or three hours each private members’ day. The suggestion of the honorable senator is unworthy of him. As Senator Givens was so anxious that the facts of the case should be placed on record, it is just as well that the other side should also put them on record. In conclusion, I repeat that the statement that the party opposed to Senator Turley in the Queensland Parliament had described Labour members as “rogues,” “ robbers,” and “ thieves,”- cannot be verified by reference to the Queensland Hansard.
– I am very glad that this Bill has been submitted for our consideration.’ At the same time, I am not sure that any credit is due to the Government on that account. It appears to me that they are merely making a virtue of necessity- They are being pushed from behind. They have introduced the measure knowing perfectly well that if they did not do so, public opinion would be brought to bear upon them. I believe that if there were no Labour party in this Commonwealth, we should have no Seamen’s Compensation Bill to-day.
– When has any member of the Labour party brought the matter up during the past eight years?
– Has not Senator Guthrie been talking about it every session ?
– We have been talking about Labour legislation ever since we entered this Parliament, and for years before. I have never heard that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has devoted any of his talents to advancing the cause of Labour. He may have done so; but, so far as I am concerned, his light has been effectively hidden beneath a bushel. He has never raised his voice in advocacy of the cause of the worker since he entered this Chamber. Neither has a single honorable senatorsitting on the Government sideof the chamber. But, recognising, like wise men, that public opinion upon these questions is advancing, they have seized occasion by the hand, and probably to forestall other people, they have brought forward this Bill. In other words, they are practical politicians. When a measure has been popularized by the Labour party, when the public has been brought to recognise the necessity for passing it into law, the Government make a virtue of necessity. I do not give them any credit for that, because I know perfectly well that the whole history of the party with which they are associated has been’ one of stubborn opposition to every Labour proposal that has been submitted to any Australian Parliament. They have fought those proposals inch by inch. They have contested them foot by foot, and thev have given way only when public opinion became too strong for them. I was very much amused to hear the speech delivered by Senator Dobson this afternoon, in which he claimed credit for having introduced a Workmen’s Compensation Bill into the Tasmanian Parliament thirteen years ago. Well, in my experience, I have found that politicians have often voted for measures in which they did not believe, knowing perfectly that those measures had no chance of becoming law.
– Is it not time the honorable senator had done with that wretched cant ? Does he think that any one believes him?
– It is not cant; it is the absolute truth. If Senator Mulcahy knows as much about politics as the length of time he has been in public life would lead one to believe that he knows, he is perfectly well aware that what I say is absolutely true.
– I know that if is absolutely wrong; I helped to pass the Bill to which the honorable senator refers.
– I do not know what Senator Dobson’s opinions on the subject may have been since, but, judging his past from his present utterances, I should say that he had very little belief that the measure which he says he introduced would be passed.
– Does the honorable senator think that any one on his side of the Senate has any belief in anything ?
– Yes ; I believe that honorable senators opposite do believe in something. They are prepared to abandon their principles at a moment’s notice for the sake of that something. What that something is, they can conjecture. But let me get back to Senator Dobson. With all respect to him, I say that he knew perfectly well that behind him and the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania there was a Legislative Council which would not touch his Bill with a pitchfork. He knew that the Council would throw it out with contempt. Knowing that, he was perfectly safe in introducing the measure. I am very pleased that this Bill has been introduced. I hope that before it is passed its scope will be very much widened. But I would advise our industrial friends outside not to trust too much to the good-will of those who now form the Government and their supporters.
– If they did, the honorable senator’s game would be gone, would it not ?
– I do not know what Senator Mulcahy means by speaking about my “ game.” Probably he measures honorable senators on this side bv his own bushel. Probably he concludes that we are in politics for what we can make out of it, just as he himself is..
– Order ! That is not a proper remark to make concerning another honorable senator.
– Is not Senator Stewart also out of order in attributing motives as he has done throughout his speech?
– It is certainly out of order to attribute dishonorable motives to a senator.
– But Senator Mulcahy himself spoke about a “ game.”
– Hear, hear.
- Senator Stewart must bear in mind that he commenced making reflections, and so brought about the interjection.
– He is fond of making these dirty charges.
– Order 1 The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– Certainly, sir.
– Senator Mulcahy is perfectly welcome to say any mortal thing he likes about me, or the party with which I am associated. Our hands are clean, and our consciences are clear. We are here to do something for the benefit of the people who returned us. It is our one and only object in political life. I do not know what the honorable senator’s object is. I have never seen him do anything, or heard him advocate a single measure, which was likely to promote the welfare of the little portion of Australia which he represents. There must be some reason why he is here.
– The honorable senator forgets the eloquent disquisition made by Senator Mulcahy on the subject of woollen socks when the Tariff was under consideration.
– There must be some reason why Senator Mulcahy takes the trouble to come to the Senate at all.
– I must ask the honorable senator to address himself to the motion.
– The honorable senator is not here to put a knife into Colonel Foxton.
– I have not said anything about Colonel Foxton ; but if Colonel Foxton is Senator Pulsford’s ideal of a. politician he is welcome to the model. To return to the measure before the Senate, I give honorable senators opposite no credit for it. They are merely doing this thing under compulsion. If there had been no watchdog such as the Labour party in existence, they would never have introduced such a Bill, and there would not have been the slightest hope of its being passed. But they know that there is a vew large battalion of Labour representatives in the other branch of the Legislature.” and there is also a considerable number of the same part, in the Senate. The Government bow to the weight of numbers. I have no more to say. I have no desire to obstruct business. I hope the Bill will be passed as speedily as possible. I also hope that in Committee its scope will be somewhat enlarged.
– - I congratulate the Government on having introduced this Bill, and on having brought it before the Senate so early in the session. It, therefore, has an excellent chance of being passed in both Houses, and. becoming law. I congratulate the Government also on not waiting for the passing of the Navigation Bill. Otherwise we might have had to wait for this measure for a considerable time, because I expect that it will be a good while before the Navigation Bill gets through. I cordially congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon the excellent speech he made last night. It was full of sound sense; it showed the honorable senator to be in.entire sympathy with his measure, and it did him credit in every way._ I am not a sudden convert to the principle of Workmen’s Compensation Acts. During the whole time I have been in public life I have advocated similar measures. I do not think that honorable senators opposite have any right to make such remarks as have been made with regard to the motives of Ministerial supporters. I take it that the members of the Labour party represent the people who sent them here. Honorable senators on this side of the Chamber equally reflect the opinions of those who voted for them. The measure is introduced by a Government which we support, because the electors who voted for. us demanded legislation of this kind, in justice to those whom it is designed to benefit. I know that it is quite a common practice to represent that honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and those who sent them to the Senate, are deficient in human sympathies, and do not favour humanitarian legislation or anything of .the kind. It is not unusual to hear it said that we have no sympathy with legislation designed to benefit the working classes. I protest, however, that the love of humanity is not the special possesion nf one party in this Chamber. Honorable senators on this side desire that justice and right shall be done just as keenly as do the members of the Labour party. Personally, I advocated Workmen’s Compensation legislation in the Legislature nf Smith Australia. I voted for a measure nf the kind, and helped to pass it. I did that quite willingly, although I knew that the Act would lay upon me, as an employer, some burden in the matter of insurance. I consider now that as it was deemed right to provide compensation for men injured while at work on land, it is equally right that we should enact legislation to provide compensation for those who are injured in doing their business on the seas. Looking at it as a matter of simple justice, therefore, I am very glad, indeed, that the Government have introduced the measure. It may not go so far as some of us would like it to go. But,at any rate, it has this merit, that it goes asfar as any legislation that has yet been enacted ; and I do not know that we can expect to go very far ahead of the legislation of other countries in this respect. It is, however, our duty to at least bring our legislation up to date, and to do as much for our own people as is done for those of other countries. As the Bill which has been introduced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council fulfils this purpose, I am glad to afford it my very hearty support. In so doing I believe that I am representing the views of those who sent me here. The measure provides, I think, for a fair amount of compensation. That compensation must be provided not at the expense of the seamen, but of the industry. I do not know personally how much is done by employers in the way of getting their employes to contribute towards an insurance, fund. I can only speak for myself. I know that no one who has ever been in my employ has paid a single farthing, although I have taken out an insurance policy against workmen’s liens, workmen’s compensation, employer’s liability, and common law claims. I do not claim credit for doing that. I think it is a fair thingtowards employes that their employer should make such provision. But I must remind the Senate that there are some honorable senators opposite who, although they profess liberal . views now, have not always been quite so generous in this respect.
– There are some who are not so liberal in their own personal attitude.
– Senator W. Russell, for instance, has not always been so liberal in this respect as he is to-day. A Workmen’s Compensation Bill was introduced in South Australia in the year 1899. Senator W. Russell was not then a member of the Labour party. It is true that he voted for the second reading, but he w as very careful to say that it should not be made to apply to his own industry.
– That is unfair.
– Although I knew that it would apply to my industry, and that I would have to pay under it, I voted for it. I propose to make a short quotation from the South Australian Hansard report of a debate which took place in the Legislative Council of that State. I quote from page 492 of Hansard for 1898-9, when the Bill to which I have referred was under discussion.
– I thought that would be forthcoming.
– The honorable senator will have Senator Trenwith telling him that he is quite wrong in doing so.
– I confess that I do not like doing this, but so many reproaches have been thrown at honorable senators on this side, and they have been so continuous, that one is obliged to do this kind of thing almost in self-defence.
– Although I noticed that the honorable senator cheered Senator Trenwith when he was giving us that little lecture.
– I thought honorable senators opposite took the lecture so kindly that I encouraged Senator Trenwith to proceed with it. Senator W. Russell was, at the time to which I have referred, a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia.
– And a farmer.
– And a farmer. The honorable senator was speaking of the way in which he intended to vote on the Bill, and he said -
If he agreed with the contractor to pay him so much to do a certain piece of work, and the contractor provided the labour and material, and an accident resulted, say through rotten scaffolding, would he (the speaker) be liable?
Hon W. A. Robinson. The contractor is liable.
– If an accident happened, would he be responsible?
Hon. A. W. Sandford. You are.
– He looked at this Bill from a different stand-point to any one else who had spoken. He could not forget that he belonged to the agricultural interest, that the interest of agriculturalists was involved to a slight extent in this Bill, and that there was a suggestion on the part of some members that their interests should be still further involved. If an employ? should become careless, and thereby bring trouble on himself, was the employer responsible?
Hon. J. Martin. Yes.
– At present reaping was (proceeding on many farms. The farmers paid their men the highest wages. They intrusted them with their horses and machinery. He desired to know whether, if an employ^, through carelessness or neglect, sustained personal injury, the employer would be liable?
The Chief Secretary. - No.
– How could it be proved that he was not liable? He was just afraid that he would be liable.
The Chief Secretary. - Certainly not.
– Then again, who would be responsible for the loss occasioned by damage to machinery, the result of negligence on the part of an employe? Clause 13 referred to tlie non-application of the Bill to agricultural and pastoral pursuits. In Committee, he would move to strike out after “pursuits” the words “when steam, water, oil, gas, electricity, compressed air, or other like mechanical power is used in the factory.”
The farming industry was to be exempt under the Bill, except when this machinery was used. Senator W. Russell proposed, in Committee, to strike out the references to this machinery, so as to be quite sure that the farmers would not be touched by the Bill. The honorable senator was at the time a farmer. He went on to say -
Some members profess to believe that this provision was intended as a sop to the farmers. “Well, it did not go far enough in that respect. If a Bill of this sort became law, he, in common with many other employers, would have to seriously consider, in undertaking all the risk which it imposed, whether the game was worth the candle.
– A good, sound speech, is it not? How long has the honor - able senator carried it about with him?
– It struck me that it was worth while to quote a little Hansard on the other side. What I desired to show was that Senator W, Russell was not always the ardent advocate of this measure that he is to-day. I can claim that I have always consistently advocated this class of legislation, and every legislation that T believed would be in the interests of workmen.
– The electors of Hindmarsh did not say so by their votes ?
– I do not care what they said. At times, people do not’ know when they have a good friend. The electors of Hindmarsh may have something to say to Senator W. Russell when they next have an opportunity. It has been urged against honorable senators on this side that they are supporting this measure under compulsion, and not for any love of it, and I claim that we have just as good a right as have honorable senators opposite to say that it is with sincerity that we propose to carry this legislation.
– And, iri order to do it, the honorable senator must make a personal attack upon me.
– The personal attacks began on the other side. I understand that Senator W. Russell did not say very much, perhaps because I was not in the chamber when he spoke. I do not think that any one can complain of the ex- 4 tract I have quoted from the South Australian Hansard.
– I did not expect anything else.
– I am justifying my own position in “supporting the Bill. I hope it will be speedily passed through the Senate and through another place, and. that, as a consequence, the seamen of Australia will be put on as good a footing as any other workmen in the Commonwealth.
– I wish to join with others in congratulating the Government on having brought this measure forward. I desire also to join in the congratulations to the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the very clear manner with which he explained it. I am inclined to agree with. Senator Stewart that too much credit need not be accorded the Government for the introduction of the Bill. They are members of a fusion party, composed of antagonistic elements. They are aware that if questions are brought forward on which the various sections of their party hold strongly opposing views, they must lead to trouble. As a Government, they are anxious to show that they have passed som’e legislation, and they are consequently forced to introduce a measure of this character, which they are absolutely sure will not be opposed by the Opposition, which is comprised almost entirely of Labour members.
– The honorable senator means caucus members.
– There are now caucus members on both sides of the chamber. Some years ago, the Labour party was the. only party in politics sufficiently intelligent to establish a caucus. I defy Senator Gray to dispute the fact that at the present time the party with which he is associated have a caucus of their own.
– I am not one of the caucus.
– It should be regarded as a term of commendation, rather than of reproach, as it is surely an evidence of intelligence for a political party to call its members together to discuss important questions before they are discussed in . Parliament. If Senator Gray is not a member of the caucus of the Ministerial party, I have not as much regard for him as I had when I believed that he was a member of the fusion caucus. I have said that I am inclined to agree with Senator Stewart that the Government introduced this measure because they knew it must meet with the approval of the Labour party. If they are to continue in office, they must be able to point to some legislative work done, and they hope to get credit for passing this measure, which has been fought for by the Labour party for a number of years. I was rather amused to hear Senator Vardon make his little quotation from the South Australian Hansard, with the object of showing that our good old Democratic friend, Senator W. Russell, was at one time a Conservative.
– I did not accuse the honorable senator of being a Conservative.
– I remember the time when Senator Vardon, who is found now on the Conservative side in this Chamber, was one of the leading Liberal Democrats in South Australia.
– He always has been, and is now.
– I did not at the time know very much about Senator W. Russell, but I believe he was a little bit Conservative. At that time, the honorable senator was a farmer, and we know that the farmers are a Conservative class. It is only since the honorable senator has been associated with the Labour party that his views have become broadened, and he is now an absolute Democrat in politics. There is some justification for Senator W. Russell’s change of views. We can understand a man taking the progressive side in politics as he grows older, and his intelligence is developed. But how can we justfy the conduct of a man who, in his youth and prime is a Democrat, and who goes over to the Conservatives at a time when his intelligence should be more highly developed ?
– I ask the honorable senator to deal more directly with the Bill. He is engaged in perhaps an interesting disquisition, but it has nothing to do with the Bill.
– I was trying to justify my congratulations of the Conserva tive-Liberal-Protectionist-Free Trade Government upon introducing a Labour measure.
– Will the honorable senator say by what right he calls it a Labour measure?
– I call it a Labour measure because it is in the interests of workmen, and those who are not in a position to help themselves. Until the advent of Labour in politics, and the entry of Labour members into the various State Parliaments, the workmen’s cause was never advocated.
– What rot !
– I know of no better authority on rot than Senator Sayers, and that may excuse his interjection. I repeat that, until the advent of Labour men into politics, workmen were never given a fair deal. The Bill before us is a Labour measure, and has been introduced by the Government because they are absolutely certain that it must be supported by Labour members.
– The honorable senator might qualify his statement by admitting that honorable senators opposite have advocated Labour measures at election times.
– Senator Pearce has reminded me that honorable senators opposite do advocate Labour measures at election times.
– That is an absolute mis-statement.
– It is an absolute fact, and the honorable senator knows that as well as any one does.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to “interject, and Senator Story to devote a little attention tothe Bill. These disquisitions are getting, altogether too long. They may be interesting, but they are not applicable to the question under consideration.
– These have only been a few preliminary remarks leading up to the Bill.
– I hope that the honorable senator will finish his preface and deal with the Bill.
– I noticed that nearly every speaker to-day started by congratulating the Government upon having introduced this measure. I did not hear you, sir, call’ any honorable senator to order for having begun his speech in that way, and I simply followed the usual rule. I consider that the Government deserve to be congratulated.
– I ask the honorable senator if he intends to come to the matter under consideration?
– Undoubtedly, sir. I am simply following the example of other speakers. I think that the Government deserve to be congratulated. This is a very valuable measure, and when it is passed it will confer very great benefits upon a very deserving class. At the same time, I do not believe that many honorable senators on the Ministerial side would approve of a measure of this kind unless it had been introduced by a Government whom they were supporting.’
– That is not a fair thing to say.
– I do not know that the honorable senator has any right to make that remark.
– It is not a fair thing to say
– I invite a number of my honorable friends on the Ministerial side to carry their minds back a few years to the time when the Senate was debating a Bill designed to prevent industrial disputes.
– Order.! I remind the honorable senator that the Senate is not considering the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill at the present time, and ask him not to attempt to discuss that subject.
– I was only endeavouring to reply to an interjection, sir. If you had prevented the interjection, of course I would not have had any necessity to reply to it.
– I remind the honorable senator that some interjections were provoked by the remarks he made. Still. I recognise that interjections are disorderly, and should not be made.
– I desire to refer to a few remarks made by Senator Millen in introducing the measure. He pointed out that a Commission which investigated the subject in Great Britain had reported that it was highly desirable that both workmen and employers should be organized, in order to make the law effective. In reply to an interjection I wanted to point out that honorable senators on the other side were distinctly hostile to organization on the part of workmen, when another measure was before the Senate and the whole suc cess of its operation depended upon the adoption of that principle. When they had an opportunity to vote for preference for union.ists, nearly every one of them was distinctly hostile. That is my reply to the interjection. I do not desire to occupy the time of the Senate much longer. I approve entirely of this Bill, which, in my opinion, ought to have been introduced, years ago. It is not the fault of the Labour party that it was not introducedearlier. I hope that it will have a quick passage through Committee, and that, with, possibly a few amendments, which will be improvements, it will speedily become the law of the country.
– I also must congratulate the Government upon bringing in this measure. From Senator Story ,we have had a statement that honorable senators on the Ministerial side do not believe this thing, and that thing. We take the statement for what it is worth, considering the source from which it came« But I remind honorable senators who hurl threats across the floor at us, that during the last eight years they had ample opportunity to take up this question. They sat behind a Government which, according to their own statements, they dominated and made use of. They could have induced that Ministry to bring forward any measure which they desired, but for some reason or other, unknown to honorable senators on this side, they never had this Bill brought in.
– On a point of order, sir, is the honorable senator speaking to the question before the Senate?
– The honorable senator is, I understand, replying to some remarks made by the previous speaker.
– You would not allow me to say what I desired.
– I would not allow the honorable senator to continue to speak irrelevantly. I certainly did allow him to make a great many remarks which were not strictly in order. Senator Sayers is, I understand, replying to one or two statements made by the honorable senator. I ask him not to do more than that.
– I” am speaking te the second reading of this Bill, sir. My honorable friend twitted honorable senators on this side with simply supporting this measure because it was brought forward by the present Government, and stated that otherwise it would have received our opposition. I do not think that he had any right to make such an assertion. For some years the members of the present Opposition sat behind a Government, and, therefore, had ample opportunity to bring about the introduction of a measure for this purpose. Had such a Bill been introduced at their instance and opposed by honorable senators now silting on this side, then Senator Story would have been quite justified in making the assertion which he did just now.
– Let honorable senators on the other side try to push the Government, and see how they will get on.
– We are pushing the Government, and getting on fairly well. I hope that we shall make more progress than we have done. If they bring down measures of this description they will always receive the hearty support of every one on this side. We will not try to talk out measures or to stone-wall them. We will do our best at all times, I hope, to help the Government to pass democratic and literal measures. We will try, perhaps with the help of some members of the Opposition, to improve their measures. I am very pleased indeed to have the opportunity of supporting this Bill. It would have received my hearty support, no matter what party had brought it forward. We have been reminded to-day of the great loss oflife at sea about the seventies and the eighties. We all deplore those fatalities, but the mercantile marine is now principally composed of steamers. To a great extent, sailing vessels have been done away with. Progressive legislation such as limiting the load line was enacted before any honorable senators on the other side had anything to do with legislative work. Compared with the sixties, the conditions of seamen to-day exhibit a great improvement.
– There is not sufficient improvement.
– I admit that it is not sufficient, but I hope the conditions will be improved until we get as near perfection as is possible. I also hope that if anv amendments are proposed for the good of the seamen, even from honorable senators on the other side, they will be adopted.
. -I congratulate Senator Millen upon the very able speech he made in moving the second reading of the Bill. I hope that this is a precursor of many measures which he will have to submit.
– Of a similar character?
– Of a character which will benefit the whole of the people of Australia. I have always taken great interest in the seamen of Australia and other cities. During all my life, I have been a warm admirer of seamen. I have recognised the peculiarly hard conditions under which their lives are passed, and the deeds of heroism with which for hundreds of years they have illuminated the pages of history. Often and often I have wondered how it was that, whilst landsmen had had their conditions of life ameliorated by Acts of Parliament, seamen, as a rule, had been overlooked, especially in Australia. If there is one party in Australia which ought to feel impelled to endeavour to ameliorate the conditions of this class of men, surely it should be the Caucus party, with which they are identified and for which they have done so much.
– Which Caucus party?
– I refer to the Caucus party represented in the Senate by a number of gentlemen nominated to represent various bodies of men under union conditions.
– The white men of Australia and every other country.
– I will give second place to no man in acknowledging the benefits which unionism has given to workmen, not only here, but elsewhere. Almost before the honorable senator was born, some honorable senators on this side took part in doing our “ little best “ to ameliorate the conditions of the workers in the Old Country, and assisted in a small way to establish unionism under conditions which were far more legitimate and beneficial to the workers than the political unionism represented by the Caucus party. Senator Turley, who for many years has represented the Seamen’s Union, and who, I believe, tried honestly and sincerely to ameliorate the conditions, made charges against honorable senators on this side, which, I feel sure, he will regret in his sober moments.
– Sober !
– I always use the word sober in its legitimate sense.
– The other day we had a cablegram half a column long about Will Thorne, who, it had been said, was not sober.
– When Senator Turley affirmed that we have no sympathy for sea- men, he made a statement which was absolutely unfair and inaccurate. Might I remind him that no less than fifty years ago I took an active part in assisting to ameliorate the conditions of the farm labourers of England who were then led by that noble man Joseph Arch. Whether the amount of compensation proposed to be granted under the Bill is sufficient, is a question which will doubtless receive due consideration at the hands of the Senate. Of course, it may be urged that it is all very well for us to be generous with other people’s money. But we must recollect that theseafaring industry is one which assures to investors in it a big return.
– The honorable senator admits that the industry can afford to pay reasonable compensation ?
– It can afford to pay what is fair in the interests of the men. Indeed, it is the one industry above all others which should act generously to its employes. I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - I move -
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the appliance known asBrennan’s “ Improvements in switches and crossings for compound gauge railways,” designed to overcome the break of gauge difficulties in the railways of Australia. That such Committee consist of Senators Cray, E. J. Russell, Story, de Largie, Sayers, Keating, and the mover. That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
I f there be one question more than another of keen interest to the travellers and producers of Australia, it is that of overcoming, if possible, difficulties of transit connected with what is popularly known as the “ break of gauge “ which occurs between at least three of the States. There is a break of gauge on the Queensland-New South Wales border between the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge of Queensland and the 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge of New South Wales. Another break occurs at Alburybetween the 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge of New South Wales and the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge of Victoria, and there is a further break of gauge in the railway system of South Australia. Sooner or later the railways of eastern and southern Australia will doubtless be connected with the railways of Western. Australia, and if we are then to have a rapid service across the continent, a uniform gauge must be adopted, otherwise difficulty will necessarily be caused by the difference between the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge already existing in South Australia and Western Australia and the gauge of greater width which will be required to enable trains to be run at a greater speed than is possible on a 3 ft. 6 in. line. But the matter which I desire to bring before the Senate really affects only two States, namely, Victoria and New South Wales. It is quite easy in the space between a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge and a 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge - at least we are so informed by engineers - to work with an additional rail. But hitherto the difficulty has been in dealing with the little narrow strip between the 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge and the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. The difficulty has been to overcome the mechanical obstructions which occur in points, at sidings, and about stations. Where we have so great a difference as that which obtains between a 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge and a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge, there is no great difficulty to overcome, but there is the difficulty of which I speak between the railway gauges of New South Wales and Victoria, and it is to that matter that I pro pose specially to address myself. At the outset let me say that the appliance which is referred to in my motion is one which has the entire approval of the EngineerinChief for railway surveys on behalf of the Commonwealth, Mr. Henry Deane, who until recently was the Engineer-in-Chief for New South Wales, but who is now discharging similar duties for the Commonwealth, and under whose direction the survey ofthe proposed transcontinental railway between South Australia and Western Australia has been conducted. He is a gentleman of very high attainments, of lengthy experience, and one who possesses the entire confidence, I believe, not only of the Commonwealth Government, but of the members of both Houses of this Parliament. I do not think that in either Chamber a question has been raised as to his suitabilityand high qualifications for his present office. Nor has the press taken any exception to the appointment of this eminently qualified engineer who has conferred upon the Brennan switch apparatus unqualified praise.
– It is not a question of wasting time. The question is simply whether or not Senator Neild is in order.
– I submit that he is not in order.
– My honorable friend has denied the possibility of Mr. Henry Deane, railway engineer, being correct in his assertion with reference to the mechanical appliance which forms the subject of the present motion.
– I did not do anything of the kind.
– I am sure that every one who listened to my honorable friend thought that he did.
– I merely said that I could not see how the thing could be done.
– And I was illustrating my honorable friend’s attitude by referring to an. incident which took place in the New South Wales Parliament in 1889. An honorable member then took up exactly the same attitude in reference to a statement I made concerning the new rapid-fire guns. He asserted that it would be impossible for a gun to be fired so frequently, because it would get red-hot. Of course, every one now knows that rapidfire guns have become one of the most remarkable developments of modern gunnery. I suggest to Senator Stewart that he may be equally wrong with reference to railway switches.
– Very likely.
-These switches “switch” Senator Stewart severely ; I have no wish to switch him. To show the extreme expense occasioned with reference to this break of gauge at one spot only, namely, Albury, I may state that it costs between£1,200 and£1,500 a year to shift the mails from one railway train to another across a narrow platform. That great expense - because it is great for the amount of work accomplished - illustrates the difficulties that would be got over, and affords one instance of the convenience to the travelling public that would be entailed if this appliance could be successfully adopted. In that event a train could leave Sydney at 5 o’clock in the evening, and deliver its passengers and mails in Melbourne at 10 o’clock on the following morning, and vice versâ.
– Would not the great advantage of overcoming the break of gauge occur from a military point of view ?
– That would be a great advantage. You can shift a number of infantrymen from one railway train to another very quickly ; but when it conies to handling thousands of horses and guns, with all the impedimenta that necessarily must accompany any military force, the difficulty is very much greater. Because, of course, a large military force entails the carrying of a great amount of material. Men cannot carry on their backs all the necessary ammunition. There must also be food for their sustenance. There must be fodder for their horses. You cannot transfer even a small brigade consisting, say, of a couple of regiments of infantry anda single regiment of cavalry, with all their guns and military train and so forth, without a considerable amount of delay ; and if this movement had to be carried out at any border station, it would seriously imperil the success of the military operations that were sought to be effected. In view of some ofthe statements that I have heard to-night, it may be well to make one or two brief quotations from the reports of Railways Commissioners.
– Has the Commonwealth any railways under its control, may I be permitted to ask?
– The Commonwealth does not at the present moment own any railways. But there are railway projects before the Commonwealth Parlia- ment, and there are certainly other railway projects under the consideration of the Commonwealth authorities. There are proposals to take over certain existing lines.
– It will be years before that comes about.
– My honorable friend asks a question, but he evidently does not want an answer. He merely wishes to interrupt me by making irrelevant observations of a character that do not do justice to his high intellectual capacity. On the 30th June, 1895, the Railways Commissioner of ‘ New South Wales reported as follows :-
Uniform gauge for the railways of Australia. - With reference to what lias recently passed on the subject and our conversation yesterday, 1 have the honour to suggest that the following should be the basis of procedure in connexion with this subject : - That the various Colonies should affirm (1) that the adoption of a universal gauge is absolutely necessary, looking at the future, growth of the country, and the . annually increasing intercourse of the people and exchange of goods.
But, of course, a universal gauge throughout Australia would involve the expenditure of such huge sums of money that it is useless to discuss the question at the present stage. On that point, my honorable friend Senator Stewart and I are in happy agreement. But things had advanced a little when, in 1897, the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, held a meeting in Melbourne, on the 23rd and 24th August, to consider the question of the unification of railway gauges, as desired by the honorable the Premiers of their respective Colonies, at a meeting at Adelaide, on the 8th April, 1897. I am aware that there is present at least one honorable senator who thinks that my proposal might give dissatisfaction in some possible or impossible way to State Governments; and. therefore, I beg attention to the fact that the honorables the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, in conference at Adelaide., on the 8th April, 1897, requested the Railways Commissioners of their respective Colonies to report on the unification of railways. This the Commissioners did. To read the whole of their report would take up too much time. The Commissioners present were .Mr. John Mathieson. Victoria; Mr. Charles Oliver, New South Wales; and M.r. Alan G. Pendleton, South Australia. The memorandum which they drew up was signed by the three Commissioners. I shall not read it; not only because it is too long, but also because the figures given in it as to the railway mileages of the different Colonies have since undergone considerable alteration. But perhaps it will be of interest if I give the totals for the different lines at the date in question.
There was a total of 3,334 miles of the standard/ 4 ft. 84in. gauge, and 4,509. miles of the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. Queensland is not involved in this, and the narrow gauge lines of. South Australia are not included.
– Would the apparatus not be suitable for connecting with the 3 ft. 6 in. line?
– That is not required. I have pointed out that it is. possible to work a connexion with a 3 ft. 6 in. line by means of an extra line to permit of the running of rolling stock of the standard gauge.
– There would be just the same difficulty in the points.
– Engineers do net say so. I can quote only engineering authorities. I cannot quote statements- in opposition to other statements made by gentlemen who do not happen to have thresponsibility of being railway engineers.
– But would not the alteration involve considerable expense, because of the heavier rolling stock that would go from the wider gauge to the narrow gauge lines.
– I’ do not. think my honorable friend would fmd that there is much difference in the weight of the (rolling stock !used on [the different gauges. I know that on the standard gauge lines of New South Wales heavier engines are run than on the railways of Victoria, where the gauge is 5 ft. 3 in’, for the simple reason that the gradients are much more steep on New South Wales lines than they are on Victorian lines.
– That would certainly not apply to Queensland.
– The honorable senator is quite right there. But I am dealing with the two gauges that are nearest together, and in connexion with which it has hitherto been found impossible to overcome the difficulty which it is claimed this appliance would certainly overcome.
– But, would not another rail be required?
– Of course another rail would be required, and I intend to deal with that. If honorable senators would permit me to tell my story in my own way I should lae able to do so very much more succinctly than I can hope to if I am continually hampered by interjections. Honorable senators will find that I shall not overlook anything. I shall take it as a great kindness if when I come to an end I have not dealt with everything on which honorable senators would like to have information, they will ask me questions. They may put me in the position of a candidate. They know” that when they are candidates they like to be allowed to get their addresses off their chests without interruption, and to answer questions afterwards. Let me get this off my chest, and I’ shall be prep’ared to answer questions afterwards. It is shown in the report of these Railway Commissioners that, to convert the mileage existing in 1897, from 4 ft. 8^ in. gauge to a 5 ft. 3 in. gauge, would cost a total of £4,260,000. Of course, since 1897 there has been a very material increase in the mileage of the standard gauge, I believe there have been some considerable additions in Victoria to the mileage of the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge, but the increase in the mileage of railway construction has not been so great in Victoria as in New South Wales, for the simple reason that before the date mentioned Victoria had carried out a very much larger service within her borders than New South Wales had done within hers. I have said that to convert the mileage of 4 ft. 8J- in. gauge to a gauge of 5 ft. 3 in. was estimated to cost £4,260,000, while to convert the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge to the 4 ft. 8J in. gauge the estimated cost was a little more than half - £2,360,000.
– Is that for alterations of road, or does it include also alteration of rolling stock?
– Those estimates of cost cover alteration of permanent way and works, alteration of rolling stock, and provision for temporary workshops and machinery in each case. Those figures show that huge sums are involved in any attempt to unify even the railways of Victoria or New South Wales, whilst the proposal which is suggested in the motion I have the honour to submit to-night, is one which, as I shall show in a few minutes, would cost merely a nominal sum, as compared with the millions that would be involved in a unification of the gauges of the railways of the two States. I have referred to the extraordinary difficulties in the way of unification and the desirability, therefore, if possible, of discovering a method by which those difficulties may be overcome cheaply, expeditiously, and to the advantage of all concerned. Turning over a page of my papers I find that the meeting cf the Premiers in Adelaide in 1897 was really in connexion with the Federal Convention sitting there at the time. Let me remind honorable senators in this connexion that one of the great inducements held out to influence people to Note for Federation was the promise - I do not say it was an official promise, but certainly it was a promise from the lips of the high priests of the Federal movement - that with Federation there would be a unification of railway gauges, that railway travelling would be simplified and cheapened, the farmer and pastoralist would be able to get their produce and stock to market, and that all parties concerned in the production of the wealth of the soil and in the transit of goods throughout Australia would be largely benefited by a Federation which would bring about a simplification of railway gauges? Twelve years ago the high priests of the Federation movement were clamouring for a uniform railway gauge, but nothing has been done from then till ‘ now. This is the first attempt that has been made to solve the difficulty; the first actual effort beyond the propagation of ideas that have never fructified. I am proposing that a Select Committee shall be appointed, not to, interfere with railway matters in every or in any State, not to ask questions with reference to any railway matter, either of management or construction, but simply that they may be in a position to report for the information of the Federal Parliament, whether this appliance is of a character likely to bring about the achievement of that which has been hanging in the balance for a dozen years without anything having been done. Whether we own railway lines or not, the Commonwealth has large need of railway services, and has taken power to itself by the legislation of this Parliament to acquire the positive and sole use at certain times and in certain circumstances of all the railways. Our own legislation has been such as in certain contingencies to place the Commonwealth in the position of the sole user of the railways of Australia. But my motion is not submitted with any idea that we should demand anything from the States concerned in the ownership of the railways, but that we may assist them perhaps better than they can assist themselves in arriving at a conclusion upon a most important matter. For instance, there are two sets of Railways Commissioners, one in Melbourne and one in
Sydney, and two Parliaments, one in Victoria and the other in New South Wales, and this question of the unification of gauge or the adoption of an appliance which will overcome the difficulties arising from a break of gauge is one. which, I submit, the Federal power might courteously and reasonably take in hand as the mutual friend of both States. If, upon inquiry, we entertain the view that the appliance is one of great value to Australia, we might with all the courtesy possible, seek the cooperation of the Governments of the two States to bring the proposal to a successful issue or to give the appliance a full-sized trial. I think, therefore, that I’ am justified in bringing this matter before the Senate, even although at the present time the Commonwealth is (not the actual owner of a mile of railway. I have here a number of newspaper cuttings, showing that many other gentlemen besides the GovernorGeneral have expressed a very strong interest, and have made full inquiry into * the working of this appliance. In December last, shortly before he left Australia, Governor Admiral Rawson took a keen interest in the appliance, and had the model fully explained to him. A newspaper report, referring to his inspection of the model, says -
The model, which was made in the railway workshops, was critically examined by Sir Harry Rawson, who, after full. inquiry as to details, expressed the opinion that these switches seemed to be the solution of the break of gauge question, adding that he would certainly like to see a practical trial on existing lines.
A trial of the kind could only be carried out with the consent of the two Governments, because a break of gauge is required for the purpose. That fact, I think, affords some justification for my motion.
– Could not a trial be made irrespective of two Governments? Could not one Government fit up a short line of their own in the same way?
– That is true; but I think that it would be very much better to make the trial on a fairly large scale.
– Still the appliance would get a trial.
– That is quite true.
– I take it that in connexion with the invention it is necessary to put down a third rail.
– Certainly ; and on that point I have some information to give.
– There is, I think, another invention “in which it is not necessary to put down a third rail.
– It will save time if I read a short extract from the Sydney Morning Herald with reference to the appliance. It will certainly be easier for me to read the extract than to personally explain the appliance -
Mr. Brennan points out that it has always been recognised that if a third rail were laid down on the 5 ft. 3 in. tracks of Victoria and South Australia, to create with the 5 ft. 3 in., another track of 4 ft. 8^ in., using the distance rail in common for both gauges, it would be competent and practicable to run as well all the 5 ft. 3 in. trains, as all the 4 ft. 8i in. trains, on the same compound track. The difference in the gauges of New South Wales’ and Victoria is 6£ in., and while that space allows plenty of .room for running two trains on the one compound gauge track, the question of points and crossings to deal with rails only 6£ in. apart has hitherto been regarded as an insurmountable difficulty to the adoption of the mixed gauge lines of 4 ft. 8£ in., and 5 ft. 3 in., respectively, on the 5 ft. 3 in. track. That difficulty, the author states, has now been overcome by an invention called the “ Improvement in switches and crossings for compound gauge railways,” which is specially designed to deal with the mixed gauges of 4 ft. 8i in., and 5 ft. 3 in., respectively. The laying down of a third rail between Albury and Terowie, in South Australia, vid Melbourne and Adelaide, Mr. Brennan says, does not involve any serious interference with the existing railway stations or tunnels. Upon the uniforming of the gauges; a 4 ft. S4 in. “ express,” averaging thirty-three miles per hour, will be able to run the whole journey from the Queensland border through New South Wales, Albury, Victoria, and South Australia, to Terowie, a distance of 1,680 miles, with ordinary stoppages, in about fifty hours, as against 75! hours occupied at present.
All I seek is to bring together in concrete form the opinions of men of professional standing, who are competent to give authoritative information on the question. I have no idea that it would be necessary to take the evidence of more than, say, five or six witnesses; but so long as this important matter crystallizes no more than in fugitive paragraphs in the daily press-, one paragraph being forgotten before the next one appears, there is no opportunity for the formation of any useful public opinion, which, no doubt, would eventually impel the incurring of the necessary expense to give effect to a proposal which, if it is what it is said to be, is certainly worthy of a trial. Honorable senators will bear me out that I have quoted the opinion of no one but Mr. Henry Deane, because he is the highest authority in Australia, and his opinion does not require to be buttressed by that of any one else, and though I have mentioned the names of governors as taking an interest in, and expressing an approval of, the appliance, I hope I have not needlessly laboured my statement in any shape or way. I think I have shown how desirable it is to focus reliable knowledge on this point at a very small public expense. Public moneys have been spent lavishly on things with not a tithe of the consequence which is involved in my proposition. I undertake to say that there has been as much money spent in investigating voting machines as is involved in my. ‘request. Two or three witnesses would have to be brought from Sydney, and the other witnesses could be examined here at probably no cost, because they would be mostly public servants who would not be entitled to fees for the information which they would give. At the cost of a little printer’s ink and the necessary printing, the Commonwealth and the Parliaments of the States would be supplied with definite information on a proposal of great consequence. Honorable senators must admit that it is a proposal of the largest consequence. It does not seem to me possible that outside a few pounds for printing and travelling expenses, any expenditure would be required. I set my face absolutely against any inquiry of a roving character. I am not prepared to accept any amendment to enlarge the scope of the proposed inquiry. I do not wish to see a fishing committee appointed. I want the inquiry to be restricted to the one definite matter. I may say that, although I am not an engineer, I was so struck with the excellent manner in which the difficulties of break of gauge were overcome by the appliance, it was my own proposal that the Senate should be asked to appoint a Select Committee to gather into one focus valuable information that is available if the opportunity is offered for its collection and publication. That, sir, is briefly and solely the object I desire the appointment of a Select Committee to bring about. It will be seen from the terms of the motion that each State of the Commonwealth is to be represented on the Select Committee. If it is thought desirable to appoint its members by ballot, that, of course, is in the will of the Chamber. I hope that the motion will be agreed to, as an inquiry cannot possibly do harm, offers probabilities of good, and of a success advantageous to each State of the Commonwealth, and of particular value to the producers and travellers therein.
– - I am very glad, indeed, to support the motion. At the Adelaide Convention, I brought forward a proposal for the federalizing of the railways, and I had a consultation with the late Mr. Eddy, Chief Commissioner of Railways for New South Wales. At that time, he was most anxious that there should be a unification of the gauges. He alleged, and was prepared to show, that although the expense would be very considerable, yet, in the course of a very short time, the saving in working expenses would much more than meet the interest on the outlay. He said it was a pity that any time should be lost ‘in taking that step, because each State was continuing to construct railways on its own particular gauge. If any one looks up the debates at the Adelaide Convention, he will find that very interesting speeches on this subject were made by Mr. Glynn, the present AttorneyGeneral, Senator Sir Josiah Symon, and Mr. Justice Higgins, and, of course, I had something to say, as I brought forward the motion. In my opinion, there is no necessity for me to occupy much time on this occasion. I believe that the proposed Committee will be ample to get all the information required. Although it is true that the Commonwealth has no railways, yet it is proposed to take over the Northern Territory, and construct a railway there, and sooner or later to connect South Australia with Western Australia by railway. I think that Senator Neild is quite justified in bringing forward his proposal, although at the present time the States own all the railways. I hope that it will be carried, and that no time will be lost by the Select Committee in bringing up a report for our information.
– No doubt this motion refers to a very important matter. My difficulty has been referred to not only by Senator Neild, but also by Senator Walker, and that is that the Commonwealth owns no railways, and that even if we were satisfied that the suggested method of overcoming the break of gauge difficulty is the best one, we would have no power to carry it into execution. As I have already said, the States are the sole owners of the railways. The Commonwealth cannot interfere with a single, length of rails; or with a sleeper, or with a dog. without the consent of one or other of the States. That being so, the appointment of the Select Committee proposed would involve an utterly useless expenditure…
Why should we duplicate expenditure in this connexion ? Senator Neild has told us that New South Wales is now inquiring into this very important matter. Consequently, if a Select Committee be appointed, we shall be able to obtain no more information from its investigations than is now available to the Mother State. I suppose that Victoria is also making inquiries in the same direction. Senator Neild has claimed that the expenditure that would be involved in the appointment of a Select Committee would be very small indeed. But I do not think that anybody can foretell what is likely to be the cost of an inquiry of this character. Probably there would be expense incurred in bringing witnesses from Sydney to Melbourne. If so, that would represent a considerable sum. I was a member of a Select Committee which had occasion to bring witnesses from Brisbane and Sydney to Melbourne, and I can assure honorable senators that I was . staggered at the cost which that step involved. #
– It would be cheaper for a Select Committee to visit those places than it would be to bring witnesses from them to Melbourne.
– It was found that the Select Committee of which I speak could not visit Sydney, and, consequently, some witnesses had to be summoned to Melbourne, and at very great expense. If experts are to be brought from Sydney to make statements the gist of which is now in the possession of the New South Wales Government, it appears to me that the step will involve a useless expenditure of Commonwealth ‘ money. Why should we incur expenditure in collecting information which is now in the possession of the New South Wales Government, or which can be obtained by it at any moment? Senator Neild has told us that inquiries have been in progress for a considerable time, “and that the State Government in endeavouring to solve this very important and difficult .problem of introducing some substitute for a uniform gauge between Victoria and New South Wales, and ultimately throughout Australia. That being the case, why should the Commonwealth interfere? It has been urged that, although we possess no railways at present, we shall own some in the near future. That is extremely problematical. Nobody can say whether the Commonwealth will own a railway next year, or even in ten years hence. When it does own railways, there will be some justification for the expenditure of money in collecting information of the character desired by Senator Neild. But long before that time arrives I believe that this question will have been satisfactorily solved by one or other of the State Governments. To appoint a Select Committee would involve an improper application of Commonwealth money. I need scarcely point out that our powers are limited by the Constitution. At present we have nothing whatever to do with railways. We cannot exercise control over a yard of them. Consequently the appointment of a Select Committee would involve the expenditure of money upon a subject in which the Commonwealth has no interest, and over which it can exercise no control. Why should we do that? Have we any money to spare? We know that our public Departments are starved for want of funds, that they are in a very inefficient condition, and! very inadequately equipped. Yet we are asked by Senator Neild to do something which will undoubtedly cost money, which can be obtained only by still further starving those wretched Departments, which are in a very lean and unwholesome condition.
– Not “ unwholesome.”
– The word “ lean “ very aptly describes their present condition.
– According to the evidence tendered to the Postal Commission, the other term used by the honorable senator might very fitly be applied to some post-offices.
– Only the other day I applied to the Postal Department for a small concession to a country place - a concession which would have cost about £6 per annum - and I was met with a flat refusal on the ground that the Department had not the necessary money with which to carry out a single further extension. In the face of that declaration, is it wise to embark upon an inquiry which will probably cost about £200?
– Divide that by five !
– Senator Neild has very moderate expectations in regard to the expense that would be incurred by the appointment of a Select Committee. My own experience is that the expenditure incurred by such bodies mounts in a way that is entirely beyond the control of honorable senators. One move seems to necessitate another, and thus the Committee goes on from point to point, piling expense on expense, until in the end the total amount expended is out of all proportion to the importance of the subject which has been inquired into. I repeat that this is a matter that does not come within our purview. Our interest in the question of t he railway break of gauge is purely an academic one.
– We have already sanctioned a railway survey.
– When a measure asking for authority to construct a Federal railway is before Parliament there will be some justification for an inquiry of this character.
– We shall have it shortly.
– If the fate of the transcontinental railway from South Australia to Western Australia depends on the support of the honorable senator, I am not sure that it will be constructed within five or ten years. If I am any judge, he is not too anxious that the Commonwealth should embark upon ventures of that description. In any case, it is admitted that at present our interest in the break of gauge question is purely a sentimental one. Then, again, if we take action in the direction suggested, we may be accused of interfering with State rights. If we initiate an inquiry into this matter, the Premier of New South Wales may come down on us like an avalanche. He may raise another storm of opposition to the Commonwealth Parliament, on the ground that it is invading the rights of the States. The same thing may happen in Victoria. I do not wish to arouse the opposition of the State Governments without very good reason. If we are to have a difference with them, it ought to be upon a question of some importance, and in which this Parliament may claim to have some interest. It has been urged that the Commonwealth has a right to take action in this matter, from the stand-point of defence. I admit that that is the strongest part of Senator Neild’s contention. It would be a very great advantage in the transport of troops if we had some method by which one train might be run right through the settled portions of Australia. But even if the Commonwealth Government were to arrive at a decision in that connexion to-morrow, it has no power to enforce it upon the States. It is true that in the case of war, or a danger of war, it may assume control of the railways of the States. But it cannot do that until the Governor-General has issued a proclamation declaring that a condition of national danger exists which justifies the Commonwealth in taking that step. In the absence of such a proclamation the Commonwealth has no power to enforce its ideas upon the State Governments. I repeat that by appointing a Select Committee to investigate this matter we can gain no more information than is at present available to the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria. Senator Neild has informed us that the Governor-General and Governor Rawson recently inspected the working model of Mr. Brennan’s appliance, but he did not tell us that the invention had been submitted to the railway experts of New South Wales and Victoria. If it has not been, I should like to know why not? If it has been, what has been the result? All this information can be obtained without imposing upon the Commonwealth the expense of a Select Committee. My frugal mind revolts at an unnecessary waste of public money. We have too little for our own legitimate Commonwealth purposes, and I object to any being wasted on fishing expeditions of this character. I have no doubt that the honorable senator is sincere in his desire to bring about the result sought to be achieved ; but let him bring his influence to bear upon the New South Wales Government. He canget all the information necessary from that source, and it can be supplied to us just as effectively as if we appointed a Select Committee, without the expenditure of a single farthing, of our money. I know that Senator Neild, like a true soldier, when he has hoisted his flag, never pulls it down until he is compelled ; and that- is very seldom. But if he will not withdraw the motion, I trust that the Senate will negative it.
– I move-
That the words “ the appliance known as Brennan’s “ be left out.
If this amendment be carried the motion will read that a Select Committee be appointed - to inquire into and report upon improvements in switches, &c. If the Senate intends to appoint this Committee - and I do not think it should - it would be rather singular if an inquiry were made into one patent only. I have a letter from a New South Wales inventor, who claims that he has a patent to overcome the same difficulty. I do not know the particulars ; but he has asked me to see that he shall have the same opportunity of explaining his plans as any other inventor. That is a perfectly legitimate request.
– Does the honorable senator refer to Pullitzer?
– I think that is the name. I shall, however, vote against the motion, because I consider that we could get the information required from the States. Nearly all these appliances have been reported upon by the various authorities. If there had been anything in them, I am inclined to think they would have been adopted. I feel sure that the South Australian Government would have been glad to adopt some such appliance at Hamlev Bridge long ago.
– I think the Senate would be well advised in rejecting both the amendment and the motion. I recognise, with Senator Pearce, that if there is to be any inquiry in regard to such matters as Senator Neild has brought forward, it should extend to every invention that any inventor may choose to bring before the Committee. But that would undoubtedly mean a prolonged inquiry, and great expense to the Commonwealth. Probably the Committee would sit for five or six years before it was able to bring up a report in which it could say that it had exhausted its inquiries. Therefore I consider that we shall be doing our duty and saving unnecessary expenditure bv rejecting the motion. If the States which own the railways desire to do something in this direction, they can proceed without any question from the Commonwealth Government.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) (9.4]. - T hope that Senator Neild will now agree to the adjournment of the debate. The matter that he has brought forward is of considerable importance. It touches interests extending beyond those which are immediately under the control of the Federal Parliament. In view of the important statement that he has made, and of the desirableness of giving careful attent to it. I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the sessional order relating to the days of meeting, passed by the Senate on Thursday, 27th May, 1909, be amended as follows : - After the word “ be “ (first occurring) insert “ Tuesday.”
I am actuated in bringing forward this motion entirely by a desire to push on with urgent public business. I am satisfied that the same desire actuates every honorable senator. It has been the custom since I have been a member of the Senate, for this branch of the Legislature to sit only three days a week - on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays - with the exception that during the stormy period of the debates on the Tariff we sat much longer and more often than usual. We are now well into the present session. The other branch of the Legislature commences the week’s operations on Tuesdays.
– There are twice as many members there as in the Senate.
– I admit that fact, and probably the members elsewhere are more loquacious than we are. But that is not the point. I have before me a file, which, at this early period of the session, has upon it seven or eight important Bills, every one of which requires careful and deliberate consideration.- The first on the file is the Navigation Bill, which embraces 417 clauses, 400 of which have yet to be disposed of. It is a contentious Bill. I venture to say that if we had no other measure of first-class importance on the file the Navigation Bill could occupy us continuously almost to the end of the session. It Ls customary towards the end of the session to have an announcement made in connexion with the slaughter of the innocents. The Leader of the Senate brings forward a motion, with the object of discharging certain Bills from the notice-paper. We get through other measures in a great hurry, and without that deliberation which should be devoted to them. Hurry and want of due consideration would be obviated if we initiated a new departure at once, by sitting an extra day per week. Honorable senators would not be inconvenienced by so doing any more than are the members of the other branch of the Legislature. But, seeing that we are paid to transact the country’s business, we ought to be here when required, whether to do so is convenient or- otherwise. I trust that the Government will recognise the advisable- ness of agreeing to the motion, and that the Senate will see the necessity of doing so. We are faced at present with a fairly large file of Bills. The number has yet to be increased by an Old-age Pensions Bill, and other measures which will demand our closest attention. I do not think that these measures can receive the deliberate consideration which should be given them if we are content to sit only three days in the week.
– I was particularly pleased to hear from Senator Needham that in submitting his motion he was animated solely by a desire to push on with business. I trust that during the course of the session the sincerity of that desire will be strongly manifested when honorable senators are called upon to deal with the business placed before them. That this motion would offer any guarantee that the Senate would proceed with business more expeditiously is a matter on which I entirely disagree with Senator Needham. When the honorable senator pointed out that the House of Representatives sits four days in the week, and the Senate only three, Senator Walker interjected, with a reply that seems to me to be complete, that the House of Representatives has a membership of seventy-five as against thirtysix in the Senate. Even assuming that every member of the Senate spoke at as great length as do honorable members in another place it is easy to discover by a simple process of arithmetic that we should be able to complete our business in half the time occupied by the House of .Representatives.
– We did not do so when the Tariff was under discussion.
– As a matter of fact, we have Senator Needham’s testimony given only a few minutes ago that we do not talk at the same length as do our fellow members of Parliament in another place. That being so, on the honorable senator’s own showing, his proposal should have been not that we should sit for an extra day in each week, but that we -should sit one day less in each week. , I do not propose to move an amendment in that direction ; but viewing the matter seriously, I would ask honorable senators to say whether at present there is any reason why we should place this additional burden upon ourselves. Looking through the businesspaper, and recalling the experience of the past, I venture to ask honorable sena tors to support the contention that we can satisfactorily discharge the business with which we are likely to be confronted by sitting three days in each week. If, later on, as business begins to come to us from the other branch of the Legislature, we find that we require additional time in which to transact it, the Government will probably invite the Senate to meet earlier in the week than we do at present.
– We can decide to meet on Tuesdays, at any time we like.
– As Senator Vardon reminds me, we can, without such an alteration of the sessional order as would compel us to meet on Tuesdays whether it was necessary to do so or not,- meet on Tuesday when the press of business makes that desirable. For these reasons, and in no spirit of opposition to Senator Needham, I ask honorable senators to reject the motion.
– I appreciate Senator Needham’s anxiety that we should do all the work we . can in the interests of the country. But on this occasion I agree with almost everything that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said. I do not believe in members of the Senate talking just for talk’s sake. We have only half the- number of members there are in another place; we are no more voluble than they are, and we should be able to do the same amount of business in two days that another place can do in four days. I wish to point out to Senator Needham that the sessional orders are always agreed to by the Senate with the proviso, “ unless otherwise ordered.” The Senate can at any time order that we shall sit another day or another two days in each week.
– I want the Senate to make the order now.
– But what are we going to do if we meet an additional day in each week? Are we to sit here discussing abstract motions, trying to keep pace with another place where there are seventy-five great talkers, while we have only thirty-six ordinary talkers? I do not say “ small “ talkers, because, on this side, we deprecate small talk. Senator Needham could scarcely have been serious when he suggested that the Senate occupied more time in dealing with the Tariff than did another place. We did not occupy half the time occupied by another place in the discussion of the Tariff. For the last nine years the Senate has followed the same practice in connexion with the days of sitting, and we have found that it works very well. In almost every session hitherto we have found it necessary to have two or three adjournments to allow another place to overtake us with work. If we were to increase the number of our sitting days we should make such adjournments even more necessary in this session than they have been in the past. I think it would be wise for Senator Needham to become a little more Conservative, and to be more content to follow in this respect the practice of the past. I am sure that every member ofthe Senate will assist the honorable senator, and the representatives of the Government, to compel the Senate to sit on all days on which it would be necessary to carry on the business of the country expeditiously. I hope that the honorable senator will withdraw his motion.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I beg to move -
That the Standing Orders Committee be requested to consider the propriety of submitting a standing order for the limitation of the time of speaking.
It is not my intention to detain honorable senators with a speech, as I am quite prepared to leave the determination of my proposal to the Senate. I ammerely asking that the Standing Orders Committee may be requested to consider it. I think that there are some strong reasons why they should have an opportunity to look into the matter, and, if need be, to bring forward a suggestion.
– For the consideration of Senator Walker and the Senate generally, I desire to offer a few reasons why I think the motion should be withdrawn. The Senate is asked to request the Standing Orders Committee to consider a subject which it is quite evident, from the terms of the motion, we are assumed not to have considered. If we did give such a direction to the Committee, I think it would be taken for granted that the Senate had approved of the preparation of a standing order for the limitation of speeches, but there is no indication that it has done so. As the motion stands, it does not ask the Senate to affirm a belief in the limitation of speeches or the contrary. It simply requests the Sessional Committee to consider the propriety of doing so. What is the good of asking that body to do that if the Senate is utterly opposed to the proposal ? I submit to my honorable friend that, if he wishes to test the opinion of the Senate, the first thing to do is to submit a clear and definite motion favouring the limitation of speeches, and, if that is carried, it will give tothe Sessional Committee a clear indication of what is wanted. For that reason, I think that he is going rather the wrong way about the business. Mechanical devices for expediting business always seem to me to miss the real crux of the difficulty. In spite of the exceptional case which naturally occurs to one’s mind of an individual speech of inordinate length, I venture to say that if there is any undue consumption of time in Parliament, it is not so much through the length of individual speeches as through the number of speeches made by individuals.
– Is the honorable senator thinking of his big speech on the question of nationalizing the tobacco industry ?
– That did occur to me, and the reference to the speech entirely confirms the opinion I am putting forward, and that is that speeches of that inordinate length are very few. Whatever time I may have consumed on that occasion in what I fear was a very vain effort to enlighten my honorable friend, the fact remains that I have consumed very much more time in individual speeches of much shorter duration. It is not the few speeches of great length which seem to excite public indignation; it is the multiplicity of speeches and the number of times which individual senators speak which really account for the great consumption of time.
– In repeating what the other fellow said.
– Very often in repeating what they themselves have said.
– The honorable senator has been a fair-sized sinner in that respect.
– There is a difference between my honorable friend and myself. I recognise my sin, and crave forgiveness, but my honorable friend is too hard even to do that. I suggest to Senator Walker thatit might be advisable to withdraw the motion, and, if he wishes to take the sense of the Senate, at a later stage to submit one expressing clearly the propriety of framing a device for limiting speeches.
– I cannot concur in the advice offered to the Senate by my leader. I entirely indorse the object which Senator Walkerhas in view. It may be possible to improve the terms of the motion by giving a direction to the Standing Orders Committee to draw up standing orders for this purpose. Remembering the motion
Avhich’ Senator Stewart had on the noticepaper last session for limiting speeches, and also the disgust which the waste of parliamentary time has created in Australia, I think it would be very well if we adopted some means for limiting speeches.
– Hasnot the honorable senator a few figures to offer on the question ?
– Would not the honorable senator make any exception to the rule ?
– There might be a time when the Senate would feel it to be desirable to suspend the Standing Orders in this respect, and allow any one who was specially qualified to deal with a subject to speak at length ; that, of course, goes without question. But, in connexion with the ordinary business of Parliament, honorable senators must recognise that we waste a great deal of time, and that it would be in the interests of the country, and also tend to promote the respectability of parliamentary institutions, if some reasonable limit were put to the length of speeches. I shall be glad if Senator Walker will consent to his motion being amended to read in this way -
That the Standing Orders Committee be requested to submit a standing order for the limitation of the time of speaking.
As I seconded the motion, I cannot move an amendment, but some other honorable senator could do so.
– It will perhaps be recollected that last session I brought in a definite motion on this question.
– And Senator Walker has jumped the honorable senator’s claim.
– Not intentionally.
– I do not look upon myself as having any particular claim in this direction.
– If the honorable senator will propose an amendment, I will accept it.
– If the honorable senator had adopted my motion as it stood, I would have been well satisfied. I think that a very good case can be established for limiting the duration of speeches. We have heard Senator Pulsford dwell on the subject, and I am sure that there is no more eminent authority in this Parliament than himself. I remember one occasion when he spoke for about seven hours on one day, and at the end of that period, to the relief of several honorable senators - I am sure that we were all glad to listen to him - he asked to be allowed to continue his speech on the next day of sitting, and he did so, for several hours. Taken altogether, his performance on the two occasions was a very respectable one. For that reason, I admit at once that he is an excellent authority as to how long speeches ought to be. Evidently he thinks that he overstepped the bounds of prudence on that occasion, and he is exceedingly anxious that no one elseshall have an opportunity to follow his example.
– The honorable senator should remember that it occurred seven years ago, and that I never did it again.
– Evidently the honorable senator has repented, and is so conscious of the sin he committed as to be anxious to prevent any one else from doing the same thing. One object I had in submitting my motion last session was to insure to every honorable senator, if he desired to speak, the right to be heard on any public question. That right is taken away by a standing order which I think is unconstitutional. I do not believe that the Senate has the power to deprive any duly elected representative of the people from being heard here. When it does a thing of that kind, it interferes with the very root and foundation of representative government. We have a standing order which empowers the majority to stop a speaker at any moment, and put an end to the debate. As matters stand now, the majority, if it likes, can prevent the minority from being heard on any subject by applying the closure. That power, I maintain, does not belong to the Senate, nor should it be exercised. While I hold that every honorable senator has the right to speak, I ‘admit that the Senate has the power to say how often he should be heard, and at what duration, and it ought to exercise that power. If we had a time limit for speeches, both in the Committee and in the Senate, that would insure every honorable senator being heard if he desired to speak. I remember that on one occasion Senator Millen charmed the Senate with his eloquence for a period of five or six hours. When several senators consume so much of the public time, that very fact very often deprives other senators of an opportunity to speak. Several speakers who _ drag out a debate at- an unconscionable length may so tire the Senate or the Committee that it will do what in ordinary circumstances it would be very chary about doing; and that is, apply the closure. I have referred to long speeches delivered by Senators Pulsford and Millen. There are other speakers to whom I might refer. All that it is necessary for any honorable senator to say on . a question which crops up here can be comfortably said within an hour. This is not a place nowadays for discussion. If I talked here with the eloquence of Demosthenes or the force of Cicero-
– The honorable senator always does.
– Or with all the power that the greatest author who ever lived could command, I should not convince Senator Mulcahy.
– The honorable senator would.
– No. It would be impossible. The honorable senator comes here - I was going to say, with a fixed set of principles : but that would have been a very serious mistake upon my part. He merely attaches himself to a party and votes with it. No amount of argument from the opposite side of the Chamber can induce him to do otherwise. Senator Walker occupies an exactly similar position.
– Does not the honorable senator recollect the occasion when he and I were in a minority of two or three?
– Yes. But like Senator Pulsford, Ave realized the enormity of our offence, and have not repeated it. It does not matter what an honorable senatormay say in this Chamber, he cannot influence a single vote. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that speech here is a waste of breath and of energy which might well be conserved and used in other directions. The newspapers do not report our utterances, and Hansard - owing to the fact that it is so expensive, and that it is not carried through the post at anything like the same rate that is charged upon newspapers - is not circulated and read by our constituents as it ought to be. The Age, Argus, and other large newspapers circulate reports of, and comments upon, the proceedings in Parliament, and the Post and Telegraph Department charge them only a half-penny for ten ounces. But ten ounces of Hansard sent through the post’ costs twopence halfpenny. That is another reason why honorable senators should not talk very much here, and why a limit should be imposed on the duration of speeches. But I do think that it is unfair to the public that garbled accounts of the proceedings of Parliament should be circulated at the rate of ten ounces for one half-penny, whilst the real genuine reports which are taken down by the Hansard staff should be charged at the rate of twopence half-penny for the same weight. I support the spirit of this motion, and will do anything in reason to bring about the object which Senator Walker has in view. But if speeches in the Senate and in Committee are limited in duration, I shall insist - so far as I am concerned - upon the entire abolition of what is known as the “ gag.” .
– I think that there is a good deal to be said in favour of this motion. I believe that there are places in America where a similar rule has been adopted ; and I understand that it has worked very well. I quite agree that if an honorable senator has some particular matter which he desires to bring under the notice of the Senate, he should be allowed a fair time in which to do it. Nevertheless, I believe it would be an advantage to the Senate, and that it would save a good deal of expense in the matter of printing Hansard, if a limit were imposed upon the speeches which are delivered here. I sympathize a good deal with the contention of Senator Stewart that if the plan suggested were adopted there would be no diced for the application of the closure. To make the motion a little more definite than it is, I move -
That the words “ consider the propriety of submitting “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ submit.”
If the Standing Orders Committee will take this matter in hand, I believe that they will be able to frame a standing order which, whilst it will not deprive any honorable senator of his right to speak, will impose some limit upon the speeches delivered in this Chamber. I did not know, until Senator Stewart mentioned it, that there were men in the Senate who were capable of speaking continuously for six or seven hours. If that sort of thing occurred once, it may be repeated.
– It was justifiable.
– Of course, extraordinary circumstances may arise; and in that case the standing order might well be suspended. The Vice-President of the Executive Council speaks so charmingly that, if he desired to speak for that length of time, I might be prepared to assist in securing the suspension of the standing order to allow him to do so. The Standing ‘Orders are at all times under the control of the Senate, which can suspend their operation whenever it deems fit to do so.
– I accept the amendment.
Motion, with concurrence, amended accordingly.
– Senator Vardon has pointed out that in some other parts of the world a limit is placed upon the speeches of the representatives of the people. That maybe so ; but in this Chamber, I contend that no necessity has arisen to warrant- -ils in adopting a motion of this character. ‘ Only a few months ago a division was taken on the question of whether the Senate should sit an extra day weekly, and Senator Walker was then found voting with the “ Noes.” Evidently he is not in any great haste to get on with public business.
– Short speeches are better than are long ones.
– At the present time, the Senate sits only two and a-half days per week. Surely we could not render the people less service than we do, in view of the remuneration which we receive. Our time is not so precious as to justify the adoption of this motion. Indeed, I think that the Government have been granted a_ little’ too much time, judging by their unpreparedness to transact business. I maintain that neither the state of public business nor experience points to any necessity for such a motion. I am certainly not amongst the long-winded members of the Chamber, and, consequently, I am not speaking from a party or personal stand-point. Perhaps Senator Walker had in view his own colleagues from New South Wales, when he submitted this proposition. Undoubtedly, they have been the greatest sinners in this Chamber . from the standpoint of making long speeches. We all know what Senator Neild is capable of in that direction, although he has recently lost the championship. All the long-winded speakers in this Parliament come from New South Wales; and, therefore, it was not a friendly action on the part of Senator Walker to submit a motion which will hit his colleagues so hard. The honorable senator must be aiming his boomerang at Senator Pulsford, or Senator Neild, or at the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– Is not the honorable senator aware that I seconded this motion?
– Then that is the most curious act of which the honorable senator could be guilty, seeing that he has established a record for long speeches in this Chamber. Is fie afraid that his record will be broken, just as the record in another place was recently broken ? Of course, we all recognise that our Standing Orders provide for the use of that weapon which is generally described as the “gag.” I am pleased, however, that no occasion for its application has yet arisen. During most of the period that I have sat in this Chamber, I have been a Government ‘supporter.
– But there was a well behaved Opposition then.
– I would place more faith in the opinion entertained byprevious Governments in that connexion than I would in the opinion of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I repeat that there has never been any urgent necessity for the application of the “gag” in this Chamber, anc! I hope that there never will be. ‘But the motion submitted by Senator Walker seems to me to tend in that direction, notwithstanding that there is net the slightest justification for it. As- 1 have already pointed out the days upon which the Senate meets are so few that if the state of public business warrants us in sit-, ting more frequently than we do, the number of our sittings even then will only equal those of other Parliaments in Australia. The Senate is the last place in which a motion of this kind should be submitted. There is another factor to be considered in connexion with this motion. Senator Walker has evidently given scant attention to the matter. He has not advanced a single reason for his proposition. He simply moved it. Apparently, having put it on the businesspaper, he. had forgotten all about it until seme one drew his attention to it this evening. Then, apparently thinking that we had so little business to do, he came to the conclusion that the time would be well occupied by debating his motion. If he had given more attention to it he would probably have recognised the ridiculousness of bringing it forward under existing circumstances. The adoption of the motion would involve an interference with freedom of speech.
– We could suspend the Standing Orders at any time.
– There is power under the Standing Orders at present to prevent an honorable senator from delivering a long speech. I trust that Senator Walker will withdraw his motion, as I should not like to vote against him.
– 1 understand that the motion has been amended with the object of submitting the whole question to the Standing Orders Committee. But in the form in which the proposition now stands it would be an instruction to the Committee to bring up a draft standing order for the limitation of the time of speaking. The motion would practically assert that the Senate is desirous of adopting such a standing order. I am not inclined to go so far as’ that. We do not wish to give an imperative instruction to the Standing Orders Committee ; and, consequently, I shall not vote for the, motion in its amended form.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.59]- - This is a most unsuitable time far attempting a curtailment of thepower of debate. We certainly ought not to contemplate such an innovation in what may be described as a dying Parliament. Within a few months we shall be face to face with the ballot-box. This is in all probability the last session of the present Parliament.
– The honorable senator need not make a dying speech.
– Oh, I am coming back all right. If I do not, the honorable senator can rest assured that he wilt not be here either. I consider that it is an extremely ill-advised move on the part of my dear friend and colleague, Senator Walker, to propose a limitation of this kind in the final session of the Parliament. If the motion is intended simply to bind the present Parliament, it goes for nothing. If there is to be a standing order to bind future Parliaments, it is indecent.
– A future Parliament, could refuse to be bound, and could rescind1 the standing order.
– Of coursethey could ; just as the electors of Queensland can rescind the honorable senator who interrupts me.
– The electors of NewSouth Wales are more likely to rescind Senator Neild at the next election.
– I am happy to say that there is not the slightest chance of such a public calamity occurring. Senator Walker offered no historical example .in favour of his proposal. Senator Gray’s hilarity on the present occasion must be due to the prospect that lies before him. Perhaps he thinks that if the motion be carried, he will not be under the necessity of making the lengthy speeches that he has felt himself obliged to make in the past. That might be a matter of relief to him personally ; but I must appeal to the honorable senator to consider the interests of others, whose facility of expression is perhaps occasionally greater than his own, and who may feel that the interests of public duty prevail with them on occasions to make speeches slightly longer than those that honorable senators of less experience feel under an obligation to make. We read the other day that the members of one of the French Chambers of Legislature have now to sign an attendance sheet, and the press has likened them to a parcel of schoolboys. If the Senate of Australia were deliberately to pass a motion* in favour of limiting not the number of words spoken, but the time occupied, we should be placed in an equally ridiculous position. It is well known that some honorable senators, when speaking under great pressure, work off their eloquence at the rate of about fiftythree words per minute. There are others whose speed runs up to about 360 words a minute. Why limit the senator who laboriously ploughs through his verbal furrow to the same length of time as is occupied by a senator who can speak five or six times as rapidly?
– The main thing is what is talked about.
– If my honorable friend has nothing to talk about, I do not think he should desire to curtail the wisdom of others who have. That is hardly a relevant ‘ argument. There being nothing more that is worth saying on the subject from my point of view, I shall say no more.
– If this motion be carried, it is possible that honorable senators may never again have the opportunity and pleasure of addressing you, sir, at length upon any subject. Therefore, I propose to take advantage of this, the last opportunity ; especially as I know that Senator Walker is extremely anxious to proceed with other business before half-past 10 o’clock. I admit that there is much to be said on both sides of the question. I propose to say a little on each side. We are asked by Senator Walker to submit to a time limit on speeches. My honorable friend, Senator Stewart, said, in supporting the motion, that he would be quite willing to agree to the proposition, provided the standing order relating to the “ gag “ were removed. Senator Stewart very cogently argued that the “gag” was unconstitutional, inasmuch as its application would prevent the representatives of the people from voicing their opinions in this, whicli is the representative Chamber of the States. But I submit that the “gag” and the limitation of speeches are within the same category. If an honorable senator has a large question to discuss, and is unable to conclude his arguments within a quarter of an hour, half an hour, or an hour, as the case may be, and if it be unconstitutional to stop him from speaking at all, it is equally unconstitutional to prevent him from speaking at such length as will enable him to submit his arguments sufficiently, why should he be compelled to stop before he has exhausted his arguments?
– On a motion for the adjournment of the Senate, an extension of time is frequently granted.
– What is the use of having Standing Orders if they can be suspended at any time? I am willing to admit, on the other side of the argument, that if senators are allowed to speak at length, liberty may degenerate into license ; and that by granting unlimited license in that respect to certain honorable senators we may deprive others of the opportunity to speak at all.. That is a cogent argument, and it is the principal argument put forward by Senator Stewart in support of the limitation of speeches.
– A case of that ‘kind occurred in the Senate when, on a question of very great public importance, neither the honorable senator nor I had a chance of expressing our views.
– I remember perfectly well that it was a question involving the expenditure of about ,£5,000,000 of public money. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council reminds me, although he and I were keenly interested in conserving the rights of the Commonwealth in that matter, we had no opportunity to express our views.
– I hope that honorable senators will be given such an opportunity before long.
– I do not know what the views of the Vice-President of the Executive Council on that subject are now, since he has come in contact with the microbes on the Ministerial bench. So long as we a.re sent here in a representative capacity, no limit should be placed on our right to speak in presenting a case on behalf of our constituents.
– Suppose a member of the Senate desired to beat the record and speak for ten hours?
– Has this Senate any right to deal with the representative of any State? The only persons who have any. right to do so are the electors who send him here. We have no right to set ourselves up as judges of any member of this Parliament.
– The honorable member who made the nine hours’ speech knew that his constituents did not desire him to make that speech.
– Senator Gray does not know anything of the kind. He thinks he does, because the speech did not suit him. Senator Pulsford has been twitted because he was long on the Tariff, on a certain occasion. I think that to say that the honorable senator was “long” is a sound Stock Exchange term.
– Certainly ; the honorable member was from Friday until Tuesday.
– Leaving out Sunday, that is four days. No more important question could engage the attention of a Parliament, and Senator Pulsford, as the avowed champion of the Free Traders of Australia-
– What is the honorable senator now?
– I do not know what Senator Pulsford is now. I know that he was then the avowed champion of the Free Traders of Australia, and, as such, was entitled to the fullest possible liberty to voice the opinions of the people he represented. I was not here at the time, but I understand that he did so fully ; and I suppose he did so in his usual effective style. But, having enjoyed the liberty to speak fully on behalf of the people he represented, the honorable senator now seconds a motion to deprive any one else of the right to do the same.
– Who ought to know better what should be done?
- Senator Gray suggests that the persons who should be intrusted with the framing of a law against burglary should be burglars, as they would know most about it. Why does not the honorable senator allow some magsman from Sydney to come here and represent New South Wales instead of himself?
– I -should not object even to the honorable senator doing so.
– I should never presume to speak for New South Wales whilst there are six honorable senators returned by that State to represent her; but I remember that the first time Senator Gray addressed the. Senate he presumed to speak on behalf of Queensland, though he was not returned by the electors of that State, and he said that she could not get on without black labour.
– Order ! That is not the question before the Senate.
– I should not have mentioned the subject but for Senator Gray’s interjection. I have referred to Senator Pulsford’s speech on the Tariff. On such a question, affecting the interests of every commercial and producing industry in Australia, it was scarcely possible for an honorable senator having the supreme knowledge of the subject possessed by Senator Pulsford, to do justice to it in any. shorter time than he occupied. I have no quarrel with Senator Pulsford because he occupied a long time on that occasion. I am trying to justify the liberty he enjoyed. I have not suggested that in his hands it degenerated into license; but, having enjoyed that liberty himself, he now desires to deny every other member of the Senate, and every other body of thought in the Commonwealth, the same opportunity to find expression in the Senate.
– The honorable senator wishes to beat Senator Pulsford’s record.
– I am not out to beat any one’s record, but to place my views before the Senate on behalf of the people who sent me here, and I intend to do so without any apology, explanation, or excuse to the Senate.
– If the honorable senator could close now, we might adjourn.
– I am one of those people who never take any risks if they can avoid them.
– I assure the honorable senator that there would be no risk.
– I have no objection to close now if I am given leave to resume my speech on a future occasion. On the assurance given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I ask leave to resume my speech when the motion is again debated.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090722_senate_3_50/>.