3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m.,’ and read prayers.
Detention of Mails
– I beg to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether he read in the press of this morning an account of the detention of English mails at Perth for two hours owing to the enforcement of the quarantine regulations; and, if so, whether he will make such alteration of the regulations, or the practice, as will insure that mails which are required to be delivered, within a certain period shall not be detained at that port for two hours by the quarantine officers ?
– It is my intention to make full inquiries about the matter to which my honorable friend has referred ; and, if he desires to obtain further particulars, I shall be very glad if he will give notice of the question.
– Arising out of the. reply, I desire to ask the Minister if he is a’ware that mail boats which arrive at Perth after 10 p.m. are delayed until 6 a.m.- about eight hours- before a medical inspection can take place? I hope that he will look into the matter.
– I shall be very pleased to do so.
Publication of Members’ Speeches in Pamphlet Form - Correction of “Hansard” Proofs.
Report (No. 2) presented by Senator
Henderson, and read by the ClerkAssistant, as follows -
The Joint Committee have informally considered the question of the printing of crossheadings in the reprints of Parliamentary Debates for the use of Members, but, finding that the matter is beyond the powers of the Committee, as defined in the Standing Orders, have resolved to take no action unless on a special reference of the question to the Committee by the respective Houses.
– I ask leave to move, without notice, the adoption of the report.
– The question is that the honorable senator have leave to submit a motion for the adoption of the report
– Senator Henderson is proposing to . go back upon a. practice which has been in vogue here for some time.
-I am prepared to state the reason.
– I do not wish to block the adoption of the report to-day, but. I remind the Senate that hitherto the practice has been, first to circulate the report, and subsequently for my honorable friend to move the adoption of it. I do not know his reason for wishing to depart from that practice. If. there is a reason for taking that step, of course, I shall. give way, but otherwise I shall object.
– There is a very important- reason.
– Perhaps Senator Henderson may be permitted to state the reason.
– I desire to move the motion to-day in consequence of the resolution in the latter part of the report. It will be recollected that, in another place, a long debate took place with reference to certain reprints or alterations of the debates therein. It appears that for * some time past-
– I think that the honorable senator has said sufficient to enable honorable senators to understand his reason for wishing to move the adoption, of the report to-day. I desire to know whether there is any objection to that course being taken ?
– I rise to object.
– There can be no debate.
–If leave is granted, sir, shall I be in order in moving an amendment to postpone the consideration of the motion until this evening?
– If one honorable senator objects, the motion cannot be submitted. But, if leave is granted and a motion is moved, it will be competent for any honorable senator, if he sees fit, to move the adjournment of the debate until another day.
– Shall I be in order, sir, in moving, the adjournment . of the debate until this evening?
– Not at the present time.
– I will not stand in the way, as the matter seems to be one of urgency.
– I move -
That the report be adopted.
I am submitting this motion now, because it is desirable that the Senate should take into consideration, concurrently with another place, a matter which has arisen under a practice which members of Parliament have followed in inserting crossheadings in reprints of their speeches from Hansard. Contention has arisen on the subject, and a lengthy debate took place elsewhere. The question was referred to the Printing Committee this morning, and we . were informally asked to express an opinion ; but having considered the subject, we came to the conclusion that we had no power to take any. cognisance whatever of matters related to the printing of Hansard. It seemed to us that all matters relating to Hansard were under some authority -apart from the Printing Committee. Standing order 36” defines the powers of the Printing Committee chosen by this Chamber. It says -
A Printing Committee, to consist of seven Senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, to which shall stand referred all petitions and papers presented to. the Senate or laid upon the table, the Committee to. report from time to time as to what petitions and’ papers ought to be printed, and whether wholly or in part; provided thai when a paper has been laid on the table a motionmay be made at any time, without notice, that the paper be printed. The Committee shall have power to confer or sit as ‘a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Those members of the joint Printing Committee who are chosen by the Senate considered that. under the standing order which I have quoted they had no power to interfere in any way with respect to Hansard. Therefore we were disinclined to take into consideration any matter which might arise in respect to reprints of speeches, unless some authority from both Houses were given to us. In’tne event of such authority being given, I presume that the joint Printing Committee would be prepared to consider the whole question, and to furnish a recommendation. As this . report will be submitted to another place to-day, I am moving the adoption of it, so that if it be deemed desirable, authority may be issued simultaneously by the two Houses under which the Committee will have power to act at once in regard to the matter in question.
– I beg to second’ the motion. I need only say, in addition to what has been remarked by Senator Henderson, the Chairman of the joint Printing Committee, that when this matter was informally referred to us-
– On a point of order, I desire to ask, under what portion of our Standing Orders is there power for a full debate to proceed at this stage of our business ? The matter is’ not one of privilege. The Standing Orders have not been suspended, but we are apparently enjoying a full debate at a time and under circumstances which appear to me to conflict with the order of business laid down by those Standing Orders.
- Senator . Henderson’s motion was submitted with concurrence, and honorable senators having consented to this course being taken, it is only right that the motion should be debated, just as if it had been moved upon notice.
– With great respect, I wish to point out that two totally different matters are involved. The leave given was practically to suspend the standing order requiring notice of. all motions to be given. But I take it that there , is a difference between the suspension of Standing Orders . which was done to enable the motion to be moved, and a suspension of Standing Orders to admit of a full debate. I take it that the object of the permission was to enable the motion to be submitted formally.
– No ; the consent given was to the motion being submitted, not purely as a formal matter. The motion having been proposed, it must be open for debate. There would be very little value in submitting the motion at all if it had to be adopted without debate.
– Then we are to have a long debate at this stage?
– I hope not, The reason why this unusual course has been taken was to place the Senate in a position to act simultaneously with another place on a matter which has been deemed to be of considerable importance. Much contention has arisen with regard to honorable members having their speeches reprinted from Hansard in pamphlet form at their own personal cost. The right has hitherto been claimed to insert cross-headings in those reprinted speeches. In some cases the right has been exercised to eliminate portions of speeches. But we understand that the Treasurer has issued instructions that in one particular case what has hitherto been done should not be allowed.
– Not in one particular
– The action taken was in one particular case. I do not wish to argue whether the Treasurer was right <jr wrong.
– The direction was general, not particular.
– The direction of the Treasurer was given in one particular case, prior to which, however, the Treasurer himself had not only inserted crossheadings in reprints of his speeches, but bad cut out whole “chunks” that he did not care to have .reprinted. The subject, as has been said, was informally referred to the Printing Committee.
– By whom?
– I believe by the Prime Minister.
– What has the Prime Minister to do with the Printing Committee ?
– That is what I want to know. We came to the conclusion that such a matter was outside our authority, as denned by the Standing Orders. Consequently we declined to take any action, unless the matter should be specifically referred to the Committee by one or both Houses. That is the position which we have taken up. That is the eminently reasonable position which we ask the Senate to indorse. If the report is adopted the Senate will be in a position conjointly with another place to authorize the Committee to deal with the matter. But until the Joint Committee is given this authority by the two Houses they will rightly refuse to have anything to do with the question, as it is entirely outside the ambit of their existing authority.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.51]. - The matter put before us by the Printing Committee is of a very extraordinary character. As Senator Givens has said, somebody has asked the Committee to do something which is clearly outside the ambit of their authority.
– Is the honorable senator sure that anybody asked the Committee to do so?
– Yes, I am, because I accept the word of another honorable senator who is a member of the Committee.
– Undoubtedly, and a colleague of the Vice-President of the Executive Council in the Ministry was present at a meeting of the Printing Committee to put the matter before it.
– According to the statement of Senator Givens, somethingmost improper has taken place. Some member of another place, and I care not what his official position may be, has been interfering with the proceedings of a Committee of this Chamber.
– It is a Joint Committee.
– I know of nothing which constitutes the Printing Committee of the Senate a Joint Committee. No dou’bt the Printing Committees of the two Houses very usefully meet together, and consult as a Joint Committee, but I doubt whether the Printing Committee of the Senate was so appointed. Whether it was or not makes no difference in the proposition I submit, that some person who is not a member of this Chamber has been interfering with the proceedings of one of our Committees. I say that that is highly improper and most indecent. We have the assurance of the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Henderson, who devotes a great deal of time and attention to his duties, and the statement of Senator Givens, who has seconded the motion, that the Committee have been considering something which they had no business to consider. They might just as well have busied themselves in considering the price at which North Queensland alligators should be sold to the local “ Zoo,” as considering reprints of Hansard. They have nothing whatever to do with Hansard or with reprints of Hansard.
– We recognise that.
– Exactly, but because the Committee have done something which they ought not to have done, we are now asked’ to suspend all public business to consider what we ought to do in respect of what they have been wrongfully doing. I do not say this offensively to any member of the Committee, because we are dealing, not’ with a personal, but with a public matter. The Printing Committee is provided for in these terms by standing order 36 -
A Printing Committee, to consist of seven Senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, to which shall stand referred all petitions and papers presented to the Senate, or laid upon the table, the Committee to report from time to time as to what petitions and papers ought to be printed, and whether wholly or in part. Provided that when a paper has been laid on the table a motion may be made at any time without notice that the paper be printed. The Committee shall have power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
It is very desirable and proper in the public interest, and for the saving of expense, that the Committee should have power to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives. But there is not one word in the standing order that warrants any person interfering in respect of the printing of Hansard, or in respect of anything that is proposed to be done in connexion with Hansard. I do not know what all the trouble is about.
– The matter was informally referred to the Committee, and, as stated in the report, they refused to deal with it without specific authority from the two Houses.
– Then I wish to say, with a great deal of respect, that I think the Committee, having refused to have anything to do with it, might have stopped there. We (might then on motion have asked the Standing Orders Committee to frame a’ standing order that would clearly deal with the matter. The Chamber cannot give a direction in addition to what is provided for by the Standing Orders, except by the amendment of the Standing Orders or by passing another standing order. If we adopt this motionwe shall not have advanced in any way. We shall be like the countryman with the claret. We shall not get “ any forrader.” We have a standing order which provides what the Printing Committee is to do, andwe cannot give the Committee another direction except by amending that standing order or adopting another. No mere resolution of the Chamber will affect the position in any way.
– The Committee are subject to the control of the Senate.
– Under and by the Standing Orders, and in no other respect. If the members of the Printing Committee came here and said that some one had asked them to do something in connexion with a Sunday-school picnic, or the supply of disinfectants to a country hospital, or anything equally outside their ambit, to quote ‘Senator Givens, what could we do ? As Mr. Bert Gilbert says in the King of Cadonia, “ What have I got to do with it ? “ What have any of us to do with it? The only way in which we can put ourselves in order and enable public business to proceed, will be for Senator Stewart to carry out his indicated intention to move an amendment. I take it that the honorable senator proposes to move the adjournment of the debate. I suggest that as there seems to be an insufficiency of matter on the paper to occupy our attention this evening, this would be a very happy subject for a series of light brigade charges all round the Chamber, and the gallant six hundred might have a lovely time later on, whilst this afternoon we might proceed with public business.
– I intend to move an amendment, though it will not take the form suggested by Senator Neild. I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and that, the ‘ Return of Temporary Employes for 1908-9 ‘ “ be printed.
It is very important that the Senate and Parliament generally should know exactly how the various Departments stand in the matter of temporary employes. We should know exactly the number in each Department, how long they have been kept at work, and what pay they have been receiving.
– Does the honorable senator know what it would cost to print the paper?
– The cost is not troubling me at all. It appears to me that the Printing Committee is composed - andI say this with all due respect - of a number of penurious catch-penny senators, who are a penny wise and a pound foolish, if I may be allowed to put it in that way. I think that this information is absolutely necessary, if honorable senators are to be placed in the position to do their duty in dealing with the public Departments.
– And to keep an eye on the Public Service Commissioner.
– Yes. It is a matter of common complaint, that the various Departments -are continually undermanned, and that the necessity for utilizing the services of temporary employes is, therefore, very great throughout the Commonwealth. Now I, for one, object to the appointment of temporary employes wherever the adoption of that course can be avoided. Of course, I recognise that we must have a few temporary employes, but that kind of employment ought to be reduced to a minimum. The work of the Commonwealth ought to.be performed by men and women who are permanently employed in its service, and if Parliament is to sift this matter to the bottom, and obtain ‘a thorough grip of it, the printing of the return to which I have directed attention is absolutely necessary. It appears that the Printing Committee is appalled at the cost which that work would probably involve. But it may be that the Commonwealth is incurring a very much larger expenditure as the result of inefficient organization than it would be called upon to incur if the publication of this return assisted honorable senators, and this Parliament generally, to obtain a clear grip of the position. In that way, the cost of the printing of the document might be saved a hundred times. In any case, the information which it contains ought certainly to be in the possession of honorable senators, and of every member of this Parliament. We cannot obtain a truegrasp of the position which obtains in our Public Service from the stand-point of temporary employment in the absence of this report, which we ought to be able to peruse in the most convenient form.
– -A few minutes agoI missed an opportunity of speaking upon the point which has been raised by the Chairman of the Printing Committee, Senator Henderson, but 1 assume I shall be in order in dealing with it now. I refer to the matter of the sub-headings which some members of this Parliament have been in the habit of inserting in reprints of their speeches from Hansard. In this Chamber, 1 think, it is possible for us to discuss the question from a common-sense and business stand-point, and without any feeling whatever. I presume that the desire of Parliament is to afford honorable senators reasonable facilities in this connexion, so long as the exercise of those facilities does not throw any additional burden upon the public taxpayer. In order to arrive at what are reasonable facilities, it is necessary for us to understand the condition of affairs which obtains at the present time. Senator Givens has stated that this question was referred to the Printing Committee. I take exception to his statement. I repeat that Parliament generally would approve of the granting of facilities to honorable members in reprinting their speeches in pamphlet form provided that no additional cost were thrown upon the public taxpayer.
– If additional labour is involved in the insertion of crossheadings in the speeches of honorable members, they have to pay for it.
– Personally, I am not aware that this question was ever formally referred to the Printing Committee. I invite the chairman of that body to say whether I am correct in my statement that there has been no formal submission of it to that body.
– There has been.
– Will the honorable senator tell me the form in which it was submitted? I am assured that there has been no reference of this question to the Printing Committee by any person in authority. Of course I might have written to the Committee in reference to it, and any other senator might have adopted the same course. But certainly there is nobody who has authority to refer this question to the Printing Committee except the two branches of the Legislature which appointed it. The mere fact that some person may have suggested that it was desirable for the Committee to consider it, did not constitute a reference to it which the Committee was bound to accept. I am informed that there has been no formal reference of the matter to the Committee, and certainly there , has been no legal reference of it to that body. I do know that the Prime Minister, in speaking in another place, did suggest that probably a way might be found of overcoming ihe difficulty which has occurred if the Committee would take the matter in hand and make a formal recommendation in respect of it. I cannot see that the Printing Committee which was created for a specific purpose has any authority to move in this matter unless the Houses specially delegate this duty to it. For that reason I am not at all certain that the Committee has not acted a little prematurely. Coming to the facts of the case I should like to remind honorable senators that this question is not a new one. It was originally raised in a letter from the Government Printer to the Treasurer in 190I3. Finding that the practice was commencing to develop, that officer wrote to .the head of his Department and practically asked for instructions on the subject. In reply, Sir George Turner placed upon record a minute to the effect that he was not prepared lo do anything more than approve of an absolutely accurate reproduction of speeches embodied in Hansard- But from that time onward, in those ways which are so suggestive of human nature, there has been a gradual departure from that regulation. I do not say that any party or any individual has been, more blameworthy in this connexion than has anybody else. But the fact remains that there has been a gradual weakening of the practice laid down by Sir George Turner until an entirely different practice has sprung up. This practice recently reached a point when it was again brought under the notice of the Treasurer, who has now decided to revert to the terms of the minute written by Sir George Turner. I submit that whatever action the Committee may have taken in this matter cannot alter the facts of the case. Those facts are that if the speeches of members of this Parliament are to be reproduced from. Hansard they must in future be reproduced accurately. That practice has been departed from, but is now being reaffirmed.
.- From the remarks made by the Leader of the Senate, I understand that objection to the present practice was taken in the first place by the Government Printer, mainly, I suppose, on the ground that the insertion of cross-headings involved additional labour, and therefore additional expense. I should like the honorable senator, if he finds it convenient, to read the reasons stated by the Government
Printer in his letter to Sir George Turner, on the subject. I do not suppose for one moment that that officer had any objection to the use of cross-headings in the reprint of any speech delivered by a member of this Parliament, provided that he was recouped the cost of the work.
– The Government Printer did raise this point, that if alterations were permitted, it might tend ultimately, if they were extended, to throw some discredit upon the accuracy of Hansard itself.
– -If he did raise that point, are we to understand that there is a suspicion in the minds of certain members of Parliament that some headings have been used which have had a tendency to discredit the utterances of other, members ? Ever since Hansard was established, it has been the practice to allow a member of Parliament to have any number of copies of a speech delivered by himself reprinted and circulated at less than the cost of the work if it were done outside, for the reason that the speech was in type, and that all’ that was required was to run the type or the stereotype through the machine. There could be no objection to a member of either House taking the Hansard report of hia speech to a private printer, using whatever head-lines he pleased, and sending the reprints broadcast throughout Australia.
– The Government imprint is on Hansard.
– That is true, but as we have no evidence that an objection:has been raised by a member of either House to the use of cross-headings, it seems tome a remarkable procedure on the part of the present Treasurer, who has the administration of the Government Printing Office,, to take exception, not to the cross-headings used by a Ministerialist, but to the crossheadings used by a member of the Labour party.
– Very properly so, too. Does the honorable senator know the kind’ of cross-heading which was rejected ?
– Their offensivenature probably is a matter of opinion. But as one who has worked in the Government Printing Office, I see nogreater objection, if any objection can be raised at all, to the insertion of cross-headings in bold black type so that a reader may grasp at an instant the significance of them, than to the altera- tions which have been, and are repeatedly being made, in speeches delivered by certain gentlemen in this Parliament.
– -And which should not be allowed by anybody.
– As one who ha’s worked in the Government Printing Office, I have seen speeches which have almost had to be re-set.
– There have been a lot of alterations this session.
– Any one who heard those speeches delivered would hardly know from the revised reports that they were the same deliverances.
– I quite agree with that.
– Does the honorable senator defend the issue of a report of that kind as a reprint from Hansard ?
– I am inclined to believe that in past years, and up to quite recently, such speeches have gone forth as the utterances delivered by certain members of Parliament.
– The honorable senator does not think that that is right?
– It is time that it was stopped.
– These transformations have not been effected by members of the Labour party. All that we have been guilty of has been the use of crossheadings.
– Do not bring the party element into the discussion on this question.
– I am forced to do so, because I am satisfied that, had not a certain member of another place desired to put cross- headings in a speech delivered by himself, no objection would have been taken to the use of cross-headings in the reports of any speeches delivered in Parliament. Are we to understand from the Leader of the Senate that in future no cross-headings will be permitted? The next thing we shall hear, I suppose, will be that no member of Parliament will be permitted-
– To sub-edit.
– Sub-editing is permissible in some directions. The next thing we shall hear, I suppose, will be that no member of Parliament will be permitted to alter his speech, in order to make it appear to the public a different utterance altogether from that which was actually delivered to the Chamber. Personally. I do not see the slightest objec tion to cross-headings appearing in the speeches which are reprinted for members of Parliament, and ‘ distributed throughout the country.
– I intend to oppose the amend.ment, and support the motion, because, I think, unless the report of a Committee is of an extraordinary character it ought to be adopted, in the belief that itsmembers have given very full consideration to its subject-matter, and made the best possible recommendation. Personally, I shall be very pleased if this matter of the reprinting of speeches is referred to the Printing Committee, so that the members of each House may know exactly where they stand, and what privileges they possess. I have heard - and probably that is why the matter came before ‘the Printing Committee - that there has been a very great deal of mutilation of reprinted speeches, or, at all events, a very great deal of alteration of them.
– No mutilations. Nobody would mutilate his speech.
– Oh, yes, there were.
– If, as was stated by Senator Henderson, junks of a speech were cut out, that is a mutilation of the speech.
– It is sometimes an improvement.
– If pamphlets are to go out as reporting -what a member of Parliament said in his place, they ought to be accurate? I think that the minute made by Sir George Turner, that the pamphlets should be simply reprints from Hansard, was a very sound and proper one. Senator Findley’, who spoke with personal experience of the Government Printing Office, stated that some of the speeches had almost to be reset. I do not think that any member of Parliament has a right to use that office in such a -way. If he wants to get a reprint of a speech from Hansard, it is a very right thing that he should! have an opportunity to do so, but if he wants a print of another speech, he should go away from the Government Printing Office to get it done.
-Colonel Cameron. - No matter on which side he is.
– I am not speaking for any particular side. I have never availed myself of this privilege, but the other day I tried to find out exactly what a member of Parliament is entitled to do, and I could not get any authority. I could not find) any one who would tell me exactly what a member of Parliament might do in this direction. If the question were referred to the Printing Committee, they might recommend lines upon which this work should be done, so that all members of Parliament would be placed exactly on the same footing, and their report could be considered by the Senate.
– And it ‘ might protect the public purse.
– I have heard all sorts of hints about what is taking place. I have even heard it hinted that speeches are not only reprinted in this way, but circulated at the public expense. Whether that is true or not, I donot know. I do not know whether there is any authority for it. I do not think that there should be.
– That is quite wrong, if it is done.
– It is done.
– I claim that, if I want a reprint of my speech, it should be supplied by the Government Printer, at a fair charge, but I have no right to circulate the reprint except at my expense. [ am pleased that this question has been brought before the Senate, and I shall be glad if it is referred to the Printing Committee, so that they may submit, for our consideration, a scheme which would be fair and equitable to everybody, and so that we may all know exactly what we may do in the matter of reprinting speeches from Hansard.
– The report of the Printing Committee would have gene much further if they had gone to the root of the matter and proposed a remedy for various things which have been suggested here this afternoon. The use of cross-headings is not the only matter to be considered. I quite agree that it is wrong for cross-headings to be used in a speech which was not uttered on the floor of either House of Parliament. I think that any pamphlet from the Government Printing Office, which purports to be a reprint from Hansard, ought to be a faithful copv of the official report. That is a fair thing to do. We ought, to very jealously guard Hansard, and see that it is a correct record of speeches delivered in Parliament. But if we want to achieve that result we must go’ much further than the mere question of cross-headings. We are informed by those who have an opportunity to know the facts - men engaged in the printing of the speeches - that the number of changes which are made after certain members of Parliament get their proofs from Hansard is something disgraceful.
– That is very improper.
– I think that honorable senators will agree that Hansard very correctly and very fairly reports the various utterances.
– And that there is very little need for any sub-editing or correction. There may be an odd figure, or a slip of some kind, to put right, but, apart from that, I have never had to alter a sentence. If we want to go to the root of this matter, more power ought to be given to the Printing Committee. Indeed, it does not suggest anything, and I think it is just as well that there should be no suggestion made.
– We only bring the facts before the Senate.
– I think that the Printing Committee has done the right thing, but I should think twice before I would empower any Committee to authorize very drastic alterations. We know that there are alterations going on at the present time, and that individual members of Parliament take liberties which ought to be curtailed. If we are prepared to go so far as to intrust the Committee with some power of censorship over that sort of thing, we shall- be taking a drastic step; but whether we would be justified at present in doing so. I have very grave doubt. I should require to give more consideration to the matter than I have been able to do to-day. That there are things to be remedied, that there are things being done which should not be done, in connexion with the production of Hansard, I am quite assured. I do not wish to cast any reflection upon individual members of Parliament, but I am informed that this privilege has been taken advantage of so freely that the way in which speeches have been mutilated has become a positive scandal, notwithstanding the statement of Senator Guthrie that that was not possible.
– Surely not?
– I say that the reports are mutilated if additions are made to them, or portions are cut out from them. We are now considering the alterations that take place when members of Parliament get hold of their copies of Hansard. What the Senate may determine to do I do not know. For my own part I should prefer to let the matter lapse for the time being, and if in future it should appear that there is anything requiring a remedy drastic steps ought to be taken to maintain the correctness of Hansard.
– With every proof of a speech that a member of this Parliament receives, there is a slip of blue paper containing a notice with regard to corrections. I consider that the terms of that notice ought to be strictly enforced. I am told that the original proofs sent to members of Parliament are still kept at the Printing Office.
– It would be worth while to have some of them produced.
– It would be perfectly easy to have some of them produced in order that we might find out who the sinners are. I can say, for my own part, that I have always been perfectly satisfied with the Hansard reports of the speeches that I have made in the Senate.
– They are very able, reports.
– Perhaps the reports make the speeches a little bit better than they appear when delivered, but, at any rate, they are accurate. I believe that, members of both Houses of Parliament are very fairly and ably reported in Hansard. We have nothing to complain of on that ground. . But there have been occasions when an honorable senator has made an admission that he might consider damaging in reply to an interjection, and I have been unable to find a report of the incident in Hansard. It appeared to me that the whole paragraph must have been cut out. When one hears a certain thing said in reply to an interjection one ought to be able to find it. in the report, however convenient it might be for the honorable senator making the statement to have the passage left out. I can say that since I have been a member of the Senate I have never asked for a single alteration to be made, except oerhans a correction of a word or a figure, in a case where my meaning may not have been nuite correctlv conveved.I know that other honorable senators have been in the same position. I was under the impression until last month that no member of Parliament was allowed to alter Hansard. I believed that the President and
Mr. Speaker would not allow alterations to be made. I do not know how it is that another practice has crept in, but it is a good thing that attention has been called to the matter, and I am quite sure that if any practice to the contrary has arisen it should be put a stop to. If any member of Parliament is allowed to cut out a passage, or to alter it, the report will not be a true record of what he said in Parliament. I am very glad that the matter has been brought up, and 1 shall support the motion for the adoption of the report.
– I shall not discuss the addendum to the Committee’s report, because it seems to me that there is really nothing in it. If we were being asked to refer the subject in question to the Printing Committee, it would be proper for us to discuss the whole matter, so as to give the Committee an idea of what we wanted to have done. But apparently nothing is to be referred to the Committee, and it appears to me, therefore, that the debate is largely a waste of time. It is useless to discuss what we should like to have done. If a definite motion is brought forward, expressing what the Senate desires the Committee to do, then will be the proper time to discuss the whole matter fully and to convey to the Committee an idea of what we wish. I should like to say, also, that I always feel inclined, when an honorable senator desires, to have a paper printed, to vote for his proposal. The paper which Senator Stewart desires to have printed is rather a formidable document. It is in the form of a return which the Public Service Commissioner is required by the Public Service Act to furnish to Parliament. Section 40, sub-section 7, of the Act provides that -
The Commissioner shall in the month of July in each year make a return showing the names of all persons temporarily employed in the Public Service during the previous financial year, and the periods for which such persons have been respectively employed, and the remuneration paid to them, and such return shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament.
– The return must be printed, must it not?
– Not unless either House of the Parliament orders it to be printed.
– I have the return in my hand. The printing of it would cost £500.
– Nonsense !
– The return is laid before Parliament in type script. Although it consists of a large number of pages, a considerable number of them contain only one name per page. Consequently the printing might not cost so much as would at the first glance appear.
– Some of the pages ure crammed with names.
– I was about to add that the part of the document relating to the Post Office contains many pages which are full of names. -Undoubtedly the cost of printing the return would be considerable. On the other hand, it appears to me that a printed copy of the document would be largely valueless. The only reason for printing it a J; all would be to give honorable senators an opportunity of watching the administration of the Departments by the Public Service Commissioner, and of seeing that the very dangerous section of the Act in regard to temporary employes is not abused. There is no doubt that the weak spot in our Public Service administration has regard to that very question of temporary employment. It is a most difficult question to deal with, and the power is a very dangerous one to put in the hands of the Commissioner. Unless this document be printed, very few of us will be sufficiently industrious to send for the return and wade through its many pages, some of them containing only one name, in order to ascertain details regarding temporary employment. If the paper were printed, it would be readily available ; we could keep it in our boxes, and could refer to it conveniently.
– Are the names recorded alphabetically?
– Yes, under each Department. Having looked through the return, I recognise that the cost of printing it would be very large. Whenever an honorable senator asks that a paper shall be printed, my inclination is always’ to support him, but, in view of the very great cost that would be involved in printing this particular paper, and considering that the Printing Committee has doubtless given the subject full consideration, I feel inclined lo vote against the amendment.
– I consider that the matter of temporary employment in the Public Service is so very important that if the Commissioner himself or the Minister at the head of the Department drew attention to any particular matter relating to it the report should be printed. But it is- evident that the Printing Committee have given careful consideration to this particular document, and, inasmuch as one of the members of the Committee tells us that the printing of it would cost .£500, and having regard to thefact that it is not important that the paper should be printed, seeing that no question of principle is involved, I do not feel inclined to vote for an amendment which would entail so much expenditure. Consequently I shall not vote against the recommendation of the Committee on this occasion.
– I desire to speak to the amendment moved by Senator Stewart, who, sitting behind me, interjects that the Printing Committee is evidently going to be “an informationsuppressing Committee.”
– Hear, hear. The Committee themselves ought to be suppressed.
– Senator Stewart says that he wants to have the information contained in this return placed in his hands. It is already in his hands. The whole of the matter is -clearly type-written, and Senator Stewart can, if he pleases, keep it in his hands from now till Christmas. The position is that the Printing Committee have carefully considered this subject. On examination of the return we found that it consisted of a list of everybody temporarily employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth during the year. Whether a person was employed for six hours or six days, or six months, his name is included. Without going into a careful estimate, we considered that the printing and binding of this return, and the incorporation of it in the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament, would cost not far short of £500. We did not think it worth the money.
– The Committee had no estimates ; they only had their own ideas.
– Let honorable senators glance at the part of the return dealing with the Post Office temporary employes. Every page is closely filled with a type-written statement of the employes, the number of days they worked, the number of hours on each day, the amount of pay received, and so forth. Any one who knows anything about printing is aware that tabular matter is the most expensive form of printing. Some honorable senators understand that thoroughly. Senator Vardon, Senator Chataway, and Senator
Findley are experts, and I myself know something about the subject. I say confidently that the cost of printing this document would be enormous, and out of all proportion to the benefit that would be derived from it. It did not appear to us that we should be justified in recommending the printing of a document, the only effect of which would be to make the bound volume of parliamentary papers too heavy to be carried about. The return is clearly typewritten, and ca.ni just as easily be read in this form as if it were printed. I also desire to point out that the Printing Committee has not deprived any senator of the right to move that the return be printed. Senator Stewart has had that right from the moment the paper was laid upon the table until now. He can at any time bring down a motion for the printing of the report. The trouble seems to be that the Printing Committee is a body that faithfully discharges the duties intrusted to it. Senator Stewart isa member of another Committee whose reports we never see.
– Because the honorable senator does not look for them.
– So far as 1 am aware, the honorable senator’s Committee does not report.
– It does.
– The Printing Committee brings forward a report every month.
– The honorable senator never looks for information.
– Order. I must ask the honorable senator not to continue this constant string of interjections. “
– We are constantly getting into these difficulties whenever the Printing Committee brings up a report. The best way out of the difficulty would be to create a vacancy on the Committee and appoint Senator Stewart. I am prepared to resign my position straight away for that purpose.
– I should not be able to criticise the Committee then.
– The Committee did not think it desirable to recommend the printing of this paper, and consequently we made no recommendation concerning it. It is for the Senate to say afterwards whether or not it thinks it desirable to have the paper printed. As Senator Stewart is not deprived of his right of moving to that effect, I fail to see why he should growl at the Committee for not doing something which he himself has had the right to do, if he thought proper.
– Senator Pearce said just now that he thought it was a sound policy that a paper should be printed if any member of the Senate desired it.
– I think I said if any number of honorable senators desired it.
– I wish to say that that really is the principle on which’ the Printing Committee have been working. I was present at the meeting of the Committee this morning, and I can assure the Senate that we did not have one division, nor did any member of the Committee express a wish to have any paper printed that was not agreed to unanimously. There was not one member of the Committee present at the meeting held this morning who was desirous that the huge document referred to by Senator Stewart should be printed. I have stated the lines on which the Committee are working, and I think they must commend themselves to the Senate.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [3.42]. - The main question raised during the debate has been that connected with the reprinting of speeches from Hansard. The matter was brought informally before the Committee this morning, and, without casting reflections upon any one in particular, I think it has arrived at such a stage that an authoritative instruction should be conveyed to the Printing Committee to bring up a report on the subject to the two Houses. So far as I am concerned, I should like to wipe the slate clean, let by-gones .be bygones, and start de novo. Let us find out who is responsible for the proper conduct of the Government Printing Office ; whether it is the principal officers of Parliament, the President and Speaker, the Printing Committee, or the Houses themselves. The members of the Printing Committee should know exactly where they are in the matter. This morning, they found themselves in such a position that they could not deal with the matter submitted to them. I should be glad if the Vice-President .of the Executive Council would submit some motion on the subject so that the members of the Printing Committee may not again be placed in. the unenviable position in which they found themselves this morning. I feel sure that Senator Stewart, upon reflection, will be prepared to admit that we should not be justified in wasting the large amount of public money which would be involved in the printing of the document to which he has referred. I think, generally, that the conduct of the Printing Committees should be upheld by both Houses, and that the members of those Committees should not be subjected periodically, as they are, to criticism, practically charging them with neglect of their duties.
– Before calling upon Senator Henderson to reply, I should like to say a word or two with reference to the control of the Hansard staff, and. the reprinting and alleged alteration from time to time of speeches appearing in the Hansard report. The Hansard staff are under the control of the Speaker and President, who are responsible for the proper conduct of the business of reporting the debates in Parliament. The principle they have laid down is that the Hansard staff shall make a correct report of the speeches uttered in both Chambers. Proof copies of their speeches are sent to members of Parliament, not in order that they may rewrite them, or cut out large portions of them, but in order that they may have an opportunity to see whether the reports of their speeches are correct records of what they have said. Where figures and quotations are used, it is frequently very, necessary that members should have an opportunity of seeing that the figures and references are correctly cited. Beyond that, I do not think they should have the right to alter their speeches as reported. The Hansard report of debates is supposed to be a correct record of what takes place in Parliament.
– It is generally more correct than are the speeches.
– Exception is taken to the elimination of certain utterances by members from the report of their speeches. In certain cases, where the members concerned have desired it, personal recriminations passing between them have hitherto been excised from the Hansard report. The reason for that is that Hansard goes forth to the world as a record of the proceedings of our Parliament, and where, unfortunately, in the heat of argument, members utter recriminations which are in no way connected with the subject-matter of the debate, it is thought much better that they should be omitted. What is really required is a record of what has been said on the subjectmatter under debate. Beyond this, no honorable senator has a right to delete anything from the report of his speech. A little time ago, I felt that many utterances took place in Parliament’ which, perhaps with advantage, might be omitted from the Hansard report. But it was pointed out to me that as such utterances very frequently become interwoven with the debate, it would be a matter of very great difficulty to eliminate them. The only course to take in the circumstances was to allow them to appear. But where personal recriminations arise, that are in no sense interwoven with the debate, it was thought wise by the late Speaker and myself that, with the consent of those concerned in them, they should be eliminated.
Honorable Senators.- Hear, heat !
– Honorable senators are aware that as soon as the Hansard report is published and it is desired to issue copies of honorable senators’ speeches, the control of the matter, for some reason or other, passes entirely out of the hands of the President and Speaker, and becomes a matter dealt with by the Treasurer as the Minister who has control of the Government printing. He controls the issue of copies of their speeches supplied to members for the purposes of distribution in whatever way may be considered most advisable.
– Though the Treasurer may himself be a sinner in the matter of cross-headings and omissions.
– I do not know about that. I wish to say that, as Hansard is published with the imprint of the Government Printer, and is presumed to be a correct record of what takes place in Parliament, the President and Speaker should certainly be consulted before an attempt is made to issue copies of the speeches of members of Parliament from the Government Printing Office with the authority of the Hansard report. We have been told to-day, by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that instructions have been given to the Government Printer that when members of Parliament desire to have copies of their speeches printed for their own purposes, they must be treated as if they emanated from Hansard. under the control of the two Houses. If that course be adopted in the future, there can then, I presume, be no objection to the matter remaining as it is at the present moment. But if it is contemplated for a moment that members of Parliament should have the light to insert crossheadings, to omit portions of what they have said, or to insert fresh matter in the reports of their speeches reprinted for their own purposes, that, I think, should not be permitted without express authority from the officers who represent Parliament itself.
– Or with it.
– I presume that the officers who represent Parliament would act only in accordance with the wishes of Parliament in an important matter of this kind. I therefore say, and I think I can speak in this connexion on behalf of Mr. Speaker, that so far as the Hansard report is under our control, we shall be very careful to see that no alterations, except such as I have mentioned, shall be allowed to take place. With respect to what shall take place in connexion with reprints of speeches in pamphlet form, that is a matter with which the Houses themselves must deal. They must say whether it shall be under the control of’ the Speaker and President, or shall be dealt with as at present. As President of the Senate, I do not wish to express ari opinion on that matter, but as an individual member of the Senate I have an opinion upon it. I do not intend to say a word on the motion, or the amendment submitted by Senator Stewart upon it. But I thought it was due to the Hansard staff, to honorable senators, and to myself, that I should make the explanation I have made, in order that the principles upon which Hansard is conducted should be clearly understood.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.50]. - I wish to ask a question for information. Will the adoption of the report have any effect whatever in respect to the reprints of speeches to which reference has been made, or will it be necessary, as I submit, that other action shall be taken before any consequences in this respect will follow?
– In reply to the honorable senator’s question, I might say that he has himself read the standing order which defines the powers of the Printing Committee. In my opinion, the Committee have taken the correct course under the standing order in reporting as they have done -
The Joint Committee have informally considered the question of the printing of crossheadings in the reprints of Parliamentary Debates for the use of members, but, finding that the matter is beyond the powers of the Committee, as denned in the Standing Orders, have resolved to take no action unless on a special reference of the question to the Committee by the respective Houses.
It appears to me that the Committee could not deal with the matter unless it were referred to them specifically. Strictly speak ing, it does not- come within their province. But the Senate and the House of Representatives have a perfect right to refer any matters they think fit to their respective Committees. The adoption of the report will not affirm any opinion held by honorable senators with regard to whether the Committee should consider the matter referred to or not.
– - I desire that honorable senators should understand the position before a vote is taken. I am sure, sir, that you will be only too glad to give honorable senators any information in your power. In the interests of every member of the Senate, I wish to know whether the adoption of the report of the Printing Committee will prevent any member of the Senate moving at any future time for the printing of the return to which Senator Stewart’s amendment refers.
– No; it will not.
– If it will not, where is the necessity for the amendment? If you, sir, will make that clear to honorable senators, they will have no hesitation in voting for the adoption of the report.
– In, reply to the question put by Senator McGregor, I may say that if the report be adopted, it will be perfectly competent for any honorable senator to give notice, and move that any particular document concerning which no recommendation has been made bv the Printing Committee shall be printed. A little time ago, reports were submitted by the Printing Committee in which the words “ Not to be printed,” appeared against the reference to certain papers. Some little difficulty arose from the use of those words, because, after a report had been adopted, it might be thought desirable to have a paper printed- which the Printing Committee had reported should not be printed. In such cases, it became necessary to rescind so much of the report of the Printing Committee as prevented the printing of the paper before a motion that it toe printed could be submitted to the Senate. The Printing Committee, having considered the matter, determined upon the use of the words, “No recommendation” in their reports, thus leaving it to honorable senators to submit, at any time they saw fit, a motion for the printing of a particular document on which the Committee made no recommendation. While I point this out, it is only fair to say that it is perfectly competent for any member of the Senate to submit an amendment upon a motion for the adoption of a report from the Printing Committee asking for the printing of a particular document, so that, if amended, the motion submitted, would lead -
That the report be adopted, but that such and such a document be also printed.
– Very briefly, I desire to express my pleasure at having listened to the explanation which you, sir, have made to the Senate in regard to the reprinting from Hansard of speeches in pamphlet form. I must candidly confess that I had but a dim idea of who constituted the controlling forces in that connexion. But, having heard your explanation, I feel convinced that in the future I shall be able to approach the question from a proper stand-point’. Whatever view the VicePresident of the Executive Council may take of the position, I, as a member of the Printing Committee, have no hesitation in declaring that, whilst the question to which I have alluded may have been brought before the Printing Committee in an informal manner, there was enough formality about it to convince me that some important statements had been made regarding the alteration of speeches reprinted from Hansard in pamphlet form. The Committee were face to face with a certain document, which had been brought from the Treasury and presented to it through its Clerk, and which was afterwards explained by the1 PostmasterGeneral. Indeed, the whole procedure adopted seemed to be enveloped in a halo of formality. I heartily concur with those honorable senators who have expressed a desire that Hansard shall be maintained as a correct record of what is said and done in this Parliament. Senator Vardon stated that in my opening remarks I had affirmed that huge slabs had been cut out of the Hansard reports of some honorable members’ speeches when they were published in pamphlet form for distribution amongst the electors. When he made that statement the honorable senator was under a misapprehension, inasmuch as I was very careful to avoid referring to anything which had been done in that connexion. Now that the Committee’s report has been presented, I am extremely glad to know that this question is not likely to crop up again.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice- -
– Inquiries are being made, and answers Will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government take steps to re-adjust the rates for long-distance telephoning, with a view to making the charges in respect of condenser system lines lower than metallic circuit line charges?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The proposal to differentiate between trunk telephone lines worked on the condenser systemand those for which special lines are used hasalready been considered, hut the Government could not see its way to adopt it for reasonswhich still obtain.
Motion (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to-
That leave be given to Bring in a Bill to amend section 24 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 4th August, vide page 2006) on motion by Senator McGregor -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 13A. Section nineteen of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the words, not being later than the first day of January,
One thousand nine hundred and ten.’”
– I merely wish to make one remark to the Committee. I was asked yesterday whether any information was available as to the cost which would be thrown upon the public funds if this proposed new clause were agreed to. In reply I stated that it was extremely difficult to form an estimate of the cost which it would involve, inasmuch as a great deal would naturally depend upon the way in which the Act was administered. That is to say, a more generous administration of its provisions might admit as invalids those whom a more rigorous adminstration would exclude. I am, however, informed that the cost of paying invalid pensions would amount to£250,000 annually.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
– It is not any part of my duty to take cognisance of pairs.
– I wish to offer a very brief personal explanation. I cannot shut my ears to the fact that the remarks which were made just now in reference to a pair reflect upon myself.
– As I can take no cognisance of pairs I can only permit the honorable senator to make his statement with, the concurrence of the Committee.
– I am sure that I shall be permitted to say that I paired with Senator Mulcahy, who’ voted with the Government. In voting on the same side, I could not be said to be violating a pair.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “Section 21 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words in sub-section 1, paragraph (b), ‘ Asiatics (except those born in Australia), or.’”
This amendment follows on the lines of a corresponding new clause, which was adopted in the other House, with regard to the first portion of the Act. In view of that fact, I do not see how the Committee can avoid accepting this consequential amendment.
– I agree with Senator Pulsford that his amendment, if adopted, will only bring this portion of the Act into conformity with an amendment made elsewhere, and approved by the Senate.
– What cost will it involve ?
– There will be no cost involved.
– Of course, this amendment, if adopted, will bring the Act into conformity with an amendment already made in the Bill, but there seems to be a little inconsistency. A section of the principal Act withholds the invalid pension from “ Asiatics (except those born in Australia), or aboriginal races of Australia, Africa, the Islands of the Pacific, or New Zealand.” I regard an African negro as the equal of an Asiatic. If we are going to extend the
Bill to Asiatics, who are in Australia, let me point out that there- are many African negroes here who are naturalized, and some of whom are as “ white men “ as any person in the Senate. I think that the Bill might very well be extended to include African negroes.
– My honorable friend has -already admitted that this amendment will bring the Bill into conformity with the part of the Act dealing with the main pension.
– Yes; .1 recognise that, and in order to be consistent, we ought to make an amendment in both portions of the Act. When we are considering a Bill to amend an Act, it is so difficult to follow the two that I did not notice that we were asked to make a distinction between Asiatics and African negroes. In my opinion, it is an undesirable distinction to make. I agree with Senator Millen that we should not include aboriginal natives. That argument, however, cannot be used against the inclusion of the African negro, as we are not making any special provision in regard to him. In order to test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the proposed new clause be amended by the addition of the words “ ‘and Africa, the Islands of the Pacific, or New Zealand.’ “
The argument which was used in regard to the exclusion of aboriginal natives does not apply to the Maories, who are here, or to the kanakas, who are here, and can remain if they like, or to the African negro. It would be a deplorable thing if a distinction were made in favour of the Asiatic as against the African negro. We have some very reputable citizens who are African negroes. We also have in Australia some aboriginal natives of Mauritius, which I believe is regarded as part of Africa.
– That is French territory.
– Of what country is a negro born in America an aboriginal native ?
– If he is an aboriginal native of any country, he is an aboriginal native of Africa.
– The red Indians are the aboriginal natives of America.
– I think that the Act was drawn with the intention of barring the negroes. I hope that the Minister, if he is going to accept the amendment of Senator Pulsford, will also accept mv proposal, and later recommit a previous clause in order to prevent the invidious distinction to which I have referred from being made.
– It appears to me that when the principal Act was before Parliament, and a hard line was drawn between people of our’ own colour and people of other colours, it was perhaps consistent, at any rate logical, to exclude all the latter people from the benefits of the law. As a result of an amendment made elsewhere we have broken through that line and decided to grant old-age pensions to Asiatics who are naturalized residents of Australia. That being so, it does not appear to me to be either reasonable or logical to shut out the African negro, and still less does it appear to me that we should shut out the Maori, who may be said to have some claim upon our consideration. For that reason I am quite prepared to accept the amendment moved by Senator Pearce. Whether we should recommit the Bill in order to amend another clause is a matter on which I am not quite ‘clear. The Bill will have to go down to the other House, and it may tend to expedition if it is sent down as it is, and I undertake to get an amendment made there.
– But the House could not amend a clause to which the Senate had agreed.
– I am not certain that there is not a precedent for that House accepting an amendment conditionally upon our doing something. However, I agree that it ought to be done ; but, as regards the method of doing it, I hope to be able to look into the matter before we complete the consideration of the Bill.
– I think that the Committee is entitled to know whether the acceptance of this amendment would increase the public expenditure. All through, the attitude of Senator Millen has been that the cost was the primary, in fact, the only reason for revolting against any amendment which emanated from this side.
– The honorable senator said it was not a factor that ought to be allowed to weigh with honorable senators, and he should stick to that view. -
– I am quite prepared to do so, but I wish that mv honorable friend would be consistent, and act upon the advice which he tendered to me. We have.no information as to how much additional cost the acceptance of this amendment may involve. All kinds of inflated estimates were submitted here when amendments were moved to include within the operation of the law a larger number of persons of our own colour, but, at the behest of Senator Pulsford, who is ever ready to champion coloured people, the Minister is prepared to accept a proposal of this kind.
– And at the request of Senator Pearce.
– Senator Pearce is consistent, because he has been voting for the extension of the privileges of this measure all through. But Senator Pulsford and his friends opposite have not been doing so. They have been voting against the extension of privileges to people of their own race, whilst at the same time they are prepared to extend their sympathy to coloured races. That is surely very inconsistent.
– A lot of rot !
- Senator Gray can get up and contradict my statement if he pleases. The records will show whether I am correct or not. Every amendment that has been moved from the Opposition side of the Chamber to extend old-age pensions to people of our own nationality and colour has been resisted by the very gentlemen who are now ready to adopt this proposal for extending the measure to coloured people.
– Let us have less cant !
– The honorable senator can blow his soap bubbles into the air as much as he pleases, but I shall make no effort to get him out of his fix. There is need for “ sunlight,” or some other kind of light, to be introduced into his mind in connexion with this subject. The attitude of the Government is very inconsistent, when they agree to extend the benefits of this measure to a large number of coloured people, after resisting the same consideration being given to white men and women. The supporters of the Government are welcome to their idea of what old-age pensions legislation should be. I am satisfied that the country should know how questions of this kind are being treated by the present Government.
– I shall not waste much time in attempting to answer an excited ebullition of mental sterility. But there is one point which has been made to which I shall ven ture to reply. An endeavour has been made to represent that the Government have accepted amendments coming from the Ministerial side of the Chamber, while resisting those coming from the Opposition. I reply that the very amendment under consideration offers a flat contradiction to that statement. This amendment has a dual origin. It was first suggested by Senator Pulsford, and has been enlarged by Senator Pearce. In both cases it was accepted by myself on behalf of the Government. To turn round and say that we accept amendments simply because they come from our own side, while resisting all that come from the Opposition, is to get as far from the truth as the honorable senator generally does.
– I was not so far from the truth as the honorable senator last night, when he told a deliberate untruth.
– Will the honorable senator keep quiet, if not for his own sake, at least for the sake of his party ?
– Stick to the truth.
– I am trying to do so, and for that reason I get as far away from the honorable senator as I can. Senator de Largie sought to represent that we were agreeing to this amendment only because coloured people would benefit from it.
– Hear, hear !
– May I draw attention to the fact that the amendment was originally moved by Mr. Batchelor in another place, and has been moved in the Senate by Senator Pearce? It has been moved with the concurrence of every one, except those who are wishing to make a little political capital out of it at the pre-‘ sent “moment.
._But for the fact that the name of a member of another place has been mentioned by Senator Millen, I should not have risen again. He has seen fit to mention Mr. Batchelor’s name. I wish to point out that Mr. Batchelor’s attitude on this question was quite consistent. He voted for amendments to benefit people of his own Tace and his own colour. His amendment was one of many that were moved in another place, when the Millens and the Pulsfords were fighting against the Batchelors and those whowanted to liberalize the Bill, but, apparently, only Mr. Batchelor’s amendment was accepted.
.- I am anxious to see this Bill made as comprehensive as possible. I do not care from what, side of the Chamber amendments come, provided they are in the interests of the aged people, no matter what their colour may be.
– This clause does not deal with old-age but with invalid pensions.
– The amendments of Senator Pearce and Senator Pulsford will, in all probability, entail additional expenditure. I am not concerned about that. Human life and suffering should receive the fullest consideration at our hands. But when the Government readily accept amendments in respect of coloured people, and vote as vigorously as they can against amendments intended to confer benefits on the white section of the community, we are entitled to draw attention to the fact. “ The Vice-President of the Executive Council says that he accepts amendments from either side. I do not. see, however, that there is any need for him to work himself into a state of frenzy respecting Senator de Largie’s utterances. There was nothing wrong in Senator de Largie’s desire to ascertain whether the amendment would entail additional expenditure, ‘ because that has been the reason why the Government have more than once opposed amendments. Evidently the present amendment will entail additional expenditure, but as it was moved by a Government supporter it was accepted, and the Government consequently had to accept the amendment of Senator Pearce to the same effect.
– It was. scarcely fair of Senator Findley to make the last remark. My amendment was absolutely consequential on a clause inserted in the other House on the motion of Mr. Batchelor. This is an amendment with regard to invalid pensions, similar to that alreadv inserted in the Bill with regard to old-age pensions. As for the matter of expenditure, I suppose that the’ amount involved would be quite negligible. The intention is to bring the two parts of the Bill into unison. I think that the amendment made elsewhere did great credit to Mr. Batchelor and those members of the Labour party who were with him.
– I like to understand proposals before I vote for them. Senator Pulsford says that his amendment is consequential. It is nothing of the sort. The amendment carried at the instance of Mr. Batchelor means that those coloured people who are naturalized subjects of the Commonwealth, but who were originally debarred from obtaining old-age pensions, are now to be able to obtain them. We know exactly the responsibility that we are undertaking. We know how many Asiatics, Kanakas, and Maoris there are in Australia, and how many are naturalized. We know the liability that we have incurred through the amendment to section 16. But what does the present amendment mean? In the first place, there is no question of naturalization in connexion with invalid pensions. Any person who comes ashore in Australia, and is able to earn a living, will, if we pass this amendment, have a claim to an invalid pension.
– The honorable senator is speaking of persons whose landing is prohibited.
– The honorable senator, if he looks up the papers, ‘will . find that hundreds of these persons have been enabled to come in and take the place of men who have gone away.
– What papers show that?
– I refer to a return furnished every year of the number of people from Asia allowed to enter the Commonwealth and work in certain industries. ‘ I may instance the pearling industry. Any of these people who may . become invalided will have a perfect right to come to the Commonwealth Government and say, “ We require invalid pensions to be paid to us.” We also have in Australia a considerable number of Chinese. I believe the number to be 8,000, or something like that. None of them will ever be eligible to claim old-age pensions under section 16.
– Why not?
– Because the Commonwealth does not naturalize these people.
SenatorFindley. - Some of them are naturalized.
– Only those who had been naturalized in the different States when the Commonwealth was inaugurated. We could not take away the rights of citizenship which they had acquired by their naturalization. Under the amendment submitted, every one of these coloured people will be entitled to an invalid pension, and it would not be neces– sary that they should be naturalized. A return has been furnished which shows that we have Chinese, and other Asiatics, and Pacific Islanders, in Australia to the number of 17,000 or 18,000. Of this number, only those who were taken over as naturalized subjects from the States will be able to claim old-age pensions, but every one of them will, under the clause before the Committee, be in a position to claim an invalid pension. We should understand exactly where we are in this matter. I am opposed to the clause, because it does not seem to me to be fair that the Commonwealth should undertake such a responsibility in respect of these 17,000 or 18,000 coloured persons. The amendment submitted in another place by the honorable- member for Boothby was of a very different character, because the number of presons affected by it was limited, and was known, since it covered only those who at the time of the inauguration of the Commonwealth were taken over from the control of the State Governments as naturaJized subjects of the King.
– Is the honorable senator not losing sight of the fact that those who are not naturalized are aliens, and as such are disqualified under the Act?
– That is a complete answer to Senator Turley’s contention.
– Section 21 provides -
The following persons shall not be qualified to receive an invalid pension, namely : -
Aliens. and so on. If these persons are not naturalized, they are aliens.
– Then, coloured people who are not naturalized will not have a right to invalid pensions?
– Or to old-age pensions.
– If the provision will be strictly limited to those who were naturalized subjects of the King at the time of the. inauguration of the Commonwealth there will not be very much harm in it, but I was certainly under the impression that honorable senators were accepting a liability without fully understanding its extent.
– I take this opportunity to protest against Senator de Largie’s statement that the Government are inconsistent. In this matter they are not inconsistent at all, because they represent the black and coloured races. I am not like those honorable senators who say that the finances do not trouble them. They trouble me a great deal. I should be glad tolearn from the Vice-President of the Executive Council why he regards the financial position in a more favorable light to-day than he did yesterday. I say that we should not go in for taxation unless we cannot help it. We should be very careful about the financial responsibilities we incur. Yesterday we were told that proposals intended to assist aged women of our own ‘ race and others who it was admitted are entitled to consideration, would involve additional expenditure, and that the state of our funds would not permit us to give them the assistance desired. How is it that the state of our funds will permit of the adoption of the proposal now made? I am going to support the proposal, because I think it is just and necessary. The fact that Mr. Batchelor recommended it in another place does not influence me. The Committee should^be taken into the confidence of the Government. Let me say that if the Leader of the Senate desires to receive respect and consideration from the Opposition he will not continue to use such remarks as “ Will the Labour party be quiet, so that I may proceed.” I do not think we should be treated in that manner. I made a suggestion yesterday that the Leader of the Senate had once belonged to the Labour party. That was considered wicked.
– It was a libel on the Labour party.
- Senator Millen took it as an insult. He became so indignant that I am disposed to remind him that “ those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” I do not think that anything I have said in the chamber justifies the action of Senator Millen in trying to jump on me because I belong to the Labour party. I am proud to belong to it.
– I cannot permit the honorable senator to proceed on those lines.
– I supported the amendments which have so far been moved upon the Bill, because I believed they were necessary. I should be astonished to find that, to-day, the financial position of the Government is considered to be so much improved that they are able to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Pulsford, if I did not remember that if ever we had a Government that represented the black races it is the present Government. I support the amendment, to be consistent in the attitude I have taken up throughout.
– The Committee should ‘be very careful before they decide to accept the proposed new clause. I am not sure that honorable, senators have grasped its full significance. I think a mistake was made in another place in altering a previous portion of the Act. If Senator Pulsford’s clause be adopted, section 21 will read -
The following persons shall not be qualified to receive invalid pensions, namely,
Aboriginal natives of Australia - and so on. If the amendment is adopted every Indian coolie who likes to come to Australia will be entitled to an invalid pension, for the simple reason that he is a British subject.
– If he can get in.
– Every British subject who is in or can get into Australia will be entitled to a pension.
– The honorable senator has approved of giving these people oldage pensions.
– I admit that the clause to which Senator Millen refers passed without my being fully conversant with its scope. If I had known as much then as I do now, I should have voted against it, and I shall ask for a recommittal of the clause at a later period- . I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Committee that any Asiatic or coloured subject of the King who is now here, or who may come here in the future, shall be entitled to an invalid or an old-age pension.
– Who comes here legally.
– Legally, or illegally. I always imagined that charity began at home. I do not say that this is charity, but I do say that the whole of this legislation is designed in the interests of the white people of Australia, and until we are able to extend its benefits to them to the uttermost limit, I do not think we should be asked to include coloured subjects of the King from whatever portion of the British Dominions they may come.
– We cannot let them starve.
– We need not recognise a legal obligation to pay them pensions. The difficulty I see is that if we agree to the amendment we shall be admitting a legal liability to pay these coloured people invalid and old-age pensions. I am opposed’ to that. Our own white people are our first charge. We ought not to encourage coloured people to smuggle themselves in here. If they find that they have only to come to Australia to secure an invalid pension and to live here for a certain number of years to secure an old-age pension, we shall have hundreds of them coming here, and they will become a very serious charge upon the Commonwealth. As Mr. Batchelor’s name has been mentioned in this connexion, I may say that I think he made a mistake in submitting the amendment which he did in another place. Had I been a member of that branch of the. Legislature, I should have probably opposed it, just as I intend to vote against this proposal, the adoption of which would open the door to a great deal of illegality in the way of coloured British subjects attempting to enter Australia. There are Chinamen in Hongkong, Red Indians in Canada, and various coloured subjects of the King scattered all over the British Dominions.
– And there are Falkland Islanders ?
– I do not wish to enumerate the whole of them, but I think that the Committee will act wisely if it retains the section in its present form.
– The more we examine this provision, the more unsatisfactory does it become. For my part, I would prefer to see it entirely eliminated from the Bill, especially in view of the fit of economy with which the Government are afflicted. If they really desire to economize, it should certainly be at the expense of the coloured races, and not at that of our own people. So far as the question of invalid pensions is concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that the most pitiable subjects for such pensions in the world are to be found in Victoria. I speak with considerable experience as a mining man, and I know of no part of the civilized world in which so many men with families dependent upon them become absolute wrecks at a comparatively early age.
– Some of the miners are hopeless wrecks at thirty years of age.
– We have only to visit places like Bendigo to come into contact with some of the most pitiable cases imaginable.
– -The honorable senator is at liberty to refer to miners only in an incidental way.
– As regards the question of citizenship, which has been referred to by Senator McGregor, I hold that it does not touch this proposition at all. In the pearling industry on the north-west coast of Western Australia, no end of coloured men are engaged. They come either from India, or Singapore, or some other portion of the British Empire, and under Senator Pulsford’s amendment, by the mere fact of their residence in Australia, they would become the recipients of invalid pensions.
– But every subject of the King is not naturalized.
– Under this proposal, there would be no need for these persons to become naturalized. If we cannot pay pensions to many deserving people of our own, because the Government desire to economize, I am not prepared to vote for the granting of pensions to members of coloured races. It appears to me that we were altogether in too great a hurry to affirm the principle which is embodied in the principal Act. But now that an opportunity presents itself, we ought to do our best to rectify some of its transparent anomalies.
– I think that some misapprehension exists as to the effect of the amendment. In the first place, it must be recollected that it will not extend to coloured races anything which has not been granted to members of the white race. Its effect will merely, be to render coloured persons eligible to receive pensions under precisely similar conditions as are white persons. If a coloured man meets with an accident in the street, motives of common humanity prevent us from allowing him to die there. If he is unable to provide for himself, he is provided for in a State hospital, and thus becomes a charge upon the charity of the community. We are members of an Empire which recognises ‘a certain proportion of coloured persons as British subjects. To my mind, they are not British subjects, but subjects of the British, and there is a very great difference between the two things.
– Does the honorable senator recognise any responsibility on our part to pay them pensions?
– Common humanity recognises that if one of these men meets with an accident, we ought to assist him.
– He may enter our hospitals, and when we have made that provision for him we have done enough.
– I repeat that under this proposal, we shall not extend to the coloured races anything which we refuse to grant to the white races.
– We certainly shall.
– Nothing of the sort. We merely make them as eligible to receive pensions as are other British subjects.
– But we say that they ought not to be placed on the same level. We do not want them here.
– But whether with our consent or in opposition to it, they have been placed on the same level. We have a law in operation which is designed to prevent them coming here, so that the number of them in the Commonwealth will continually dwindle. If they come here, they do so under our laws.
– -They come in defiance of the law. What about those who are smuggled in?
– They gain admission to Australia because of our negligence. If they are admitted either by reason of cur lax administration of the law, or with our consent, we have a right to extend to them equal treatment in this matter with other people.
– I have no alternative but to oppose’ the amendment of Senator Pulsford.I cannot forget that, as far as possible, we have endeavoured to extendthe provisions of this amending Bill only to members of the white race. In doing, so, we have merely attempted to give effect to an essentially Australian policy. Recognising that the Government have strongly opposed every effort which has been made to extend the provisions of the Bill in that direction, I cannot see why a White Australian Ministry-
– Are not Mr. Batchelor and Senator Pearce white Australians?
– I do not know anything about Mr. Batchelor. It is not a question of what he, as an individual, may be. It is a question of what is the policy of the Australian people, and if my assumption be correct that policy is to maintain Australia for the Australians.
– And that is Mr. Batchelor’s policy, too.
– If Mr. Batchelor or Senator Pearce or anybody else chooses to recognise an obligation on their part to mix up our own people with those of the coloured races, certainly I do not. Our general policy has been to legislate for members of the white race, and as far as possible to prevent the admission of the coloured element into the Commonwealth. I regard the proposal of Senator Pulsford as constituting a direct inducement to all the coloured races of the earth to pour into Australia.
– But they cannot come here.
– My honorable friend reminds me of the story of the man who was locked up. When his friends saw him in prison, they inquired, “ What are you doing here? “ In reply, he said, “ I have been locked! up, but I have committed no offence,” to which they retorted, “But a man cannot be locked up for nothing.” The fact remained, however, that he was locked up. Whether or not coloured aliens can be admitted to the ‘Commonwealth, the fact remains that they get here, and it does not matter to me whether or not that result is brought about by lax administration of the law. The amendment is a direct invitation to the coloured) races to enter the Commonwealth for the sake of enjoying a pension. The thing which annoys me most is the fact that these persons do not require to be naturalized; they are British subjects, no matter from what part of the British Dominions they come. My honorable friend who is in charge of the proposed new clause does not recognise any differentiation. His idea has always been to let them all come.
– And the honorable senator says that they are coming.
– Yes, as -the Minister knows.
– Who are coming?
– The black men, the yellow men, the brown men, in fact men of every colour under the sun are coming, and coming as fast as they can. Not very long ago a large number of Chinamen were taken on board a steamer to ‘be landed in Australia, but their landing was prohibited.
– The honorable senator knows that statistics show that these persons are decreasing in number every year.
– No, they are increasing every year.
– Statistics may be used to prove anything.
– Sometimes they prove a lot.
– About eighteen years ago a bank in Sydney failed, and when a gentleman well known by name and reputation to a. good many representatives of New South Wales was questioned by a Judge as to the authenticity of his figures and so forth, he said, “ Give me a set of figures and I will make them prove two things every time I handle them.” As regards the introduction of coloured labour, Senator Gray ought to know that our statistics are not absolutely reliable. Nor are they reliable as regards the number of coloured persons domiciled in Australia today. The Government have not been able to find money to extend the full benefits of this principle to the white race. They have declared that they are not able to grant a pension to our own women on reaching the age of sixty years. They are not prepared to give a pension to our invalids on the ist January next. We are told that the state of the finances prevents them from acceding to our desire in those respects. Yet to-day we have the spectacle of their consenting to an amendment and being prepared to find means to support coloured people if they happen to be subjects of the King.
– No. We are not proposing now to find for coloured people any money which is denied to white people.
– The Minister has made a beautiful qualification. He says now that this amendment does not involve the expenditure of any money, but is merely a recognition that there is no difference between the black man and the white man.
– The amendment of the proposed new clause was moved by Senator Pearce.. If the honorable senator wants to make a party matter of it let us fight it out.
– It matters not to me by whom it was moved. In regard to pensions and everything else the policy of a white Australia is my first concern. I shall oppose the amendment on the ground that if we cannot find the necessary money to provide for the troubles which occur in the lives of white people, we have very little reason to trouble our brains as to how we shall find money for the support of coloured people.
– I am very sorry that some members of the Opposition are taking unnecessary alarm at what I term, and always have termed, a simple act of justice. The question of a white Australia is not involved in the amendment of Senator Pulsford, nor is it involved in an amendment of a similar character, which is moved by Senator Pearce. Honorable senators who are opposing the former are continually declaring that Chinese, Hindus, and Africans, who are prepared to work for half-a-crown a week, can flock into Australia with the expectation that when they have lived here for twenty years they will get an old-age pension. According to the laws of this country, a certain number of Asiatic aliens have been naturalized “and obtained every privilege which a white citizen possesses, except as regards the right- to a pension. These persons are very few in number, and are fast dying out. We ought to be, if not generous, at least just to them. There is no danger in carrying this amendment. According to section 5 of the Naturalization Act an aboriginal native of Asia or Africa cannot now be naturalized in Australia. And unless a person is a naturalized or naturalborn subject of the King, he cannot get an old-age pension. It should be borne in mind’ that these persons cannot come here. Suppose, for instance, that any Asiatic aliens did send in an application, unless they could prove that they were naturalized subjects, and had resided in the Commonwealth for a certain period, they would be put in prison, and then deported.
– Why should we provide for an bid-age pension for a man who cannot be here?
– This amendment does not involve the question of providing an old-age pension. It merely provides that whenever a. proclamation is issued to grant an invalid pension to our own people it shall also be granted to the few naturalized Asiatics who received the privileges of citizenship long ago. In view of the fewness of their number, and1 of the fact that no more are to be allowed to enter, we ought to treat them as fellow human beings.
– I am not sure that Senator McGregor is altogether clear in regard to this matter.
– These persons can vote at the poll just the same as the honorable senator can.
– In Australia, we have a large number of Chinamen Who have become naturalized, and are entitled to every privilege that we “ possess. So far as ‘ I am concerned, I have no intention of interfering with them.
– That is all that this amendment provides.
– It provides something more than that. With regard to Chinamen, the law provides that no more of them shall come here. If it is properly enforced no more will come. But what I am troubled about is the Indian, who is a subject of the King.
– Who is also prohibited.
– The Indian does not require to be naturalized.
– Yes, he does.
-As honorable senators are aware, many Indians do find their way here, illegally, perhaps.
– Then that fact would disqualify them from getting a pension.
– The honorable senator is right.
– If my honorable friend is right, the provision is not necessary. If it will not apply to any persons except Chinamen, and so forth, who came here twenty or thirty years ago, who are living here, and with whom no one desire. to interfere, why should it be inserted? If the words are introduced coloured subjects of the King who come here - and I do not care whether they come legally or illegally - will be entitled to an invalid pension.
– How would it be possible to discover whether a man of this class was here legally or illegally ? Why make this amendment ? Is it necessary ? Honorable senators who support it say that no person can get the pension who is not entitled to it. If that be the case, the amendment is not required. It will establish a very bad principle. It is like the thin end of the wedge. We propose to give Asiatics who are subjects of the King a legal status if they can get here.
– They will come in by aeroplane, perhaps !
– We do not know how they will come in. We do know that many have got in, and probably many more will come in the future. Decidedly, if they know that an old-age pension is awaiting them after twenty years, and that an invalid pension will be paid if one’ of them becomes permanently disabled, they will, of course, use every means in their power to come here. Senator Pearce and Senator McGregor advance the argument that, if Asiatics who are in the country become ill and disabled, they have to be supported in some public institution or by private charity. That is quite right. I do not wish that any person resident in Australia who is poor or ill should be -made to suffer the pangs of hunger or from want of medical attention. But that applies to our own people, just as much as it does to others. Many of our people will not get pensions, and our first duty is to them. Honorable senators will be -on the safe side if they vote against the amendment. We are not quite clear as to the scope of it. It was never the intention of the people of this country that inducements should be given to coloured people either to come to Australia or to remain here. We do not desire to induce those who are in Australia to remain permanently. We should like them to get out as quickly as possible. But, if we place them upon an equality with our own . white Australians, . the inducement to remain will be strengthened. That is not a proper policy for the Parliament of Australia to adopt.
– While we may be desirous of extending consideration to certain coloured subjects of the King, we must be careful not to perpetrate an injustice to others. Even with the addition of the amendment proposed by Senator Pearce, I am under the impression that we should be doing wrong by agreeing to Senator Pulsford’s proposal. The object of our legislation has been to keep out of this country all aliens, including Asiatics. There are several reasons for that policy, which. I need not enumerate. The principal reason is that Asiatics do not live up to the standard set by our white race. We ought not to offer any encouragement to the evasion of the Immigration Restriction Act, nor should we do anything that may increase the number of coloured aliens in the country. I have not yet heard any evidence which warrants me in believing that all the coloured people we have here are prepared to live up to the white standard.
– Some of them do.
– Those who do are like angels’ visits - few and far between.
– There are some in the honorable senator’s own constituency.
– There are a couple of African negroes on the Fremantle wharfs who worked very hard for Senator
Needham, Senator Lynch, and myself on last election day. .
– That is perfectly true, but in dealing with legislation of this nature we are not considering Fremantle only or the assistance rendered to certain honorable senators. We are dealing with a national problem. While I recognise the sterling worth of many of our coloured citizens, I have no proof that it is desirable to extend the benefitsof this measure to 57,000 Asiatics. Let these people become naturalized. It- is not what their numbers are now that I am considering, but what they may be in the future.
– Not one of them can become naturalized under our Naturalization Act.
– Even if only the 7,000 natives of India are affected by the amendment, why should we give to them advantages which are denied to those of our own race?
– That is not so. The amendment does not give to “coloured people anything that is denied to white people.
– I construe the amendment in that sense.
– The honorable senator should construe it rightlv.
– Until’ I hearstronger arguments in favour of the amend.-, ment, I am inclined to vote against it.
Question - that the words “ and ‘Africa,, the Islands of the Pacific or New Zealand ‘ “ be added to the proposed new clause - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question, so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of proposed new clause agreed, to.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Senator Pulsford’s) as amended be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed new clause, as amended, agreed to- . .
Clause 14 agreed to.
– I move -
That theHouse of Representatives be requested to amend the Bill by. inserting the following new clause : - “ 14A. Section twenty-four of the Principal
Act is amended -
by omitting paragraph (4) from sub, section (2), which is hereby repealed ;
by omitting from the proviso to subsection (2) the following words at the end thereof : - 1 and paragraph (b) shall be read with the substitution of Fifty pounds for One hundred pounds.’ “
Sub-section 2 of section 24 of the principal Act, . reads as follows : -
Where the pensioner has accumulated property the amount of a pension shall be subject to the following deductions -
One pound for every complete Ten pounds by which the net capital value of the property exceeds One hundred pounds, where the property includes the home in which the pensioner permanently resides, and which produces no income.
The new clause I submit is intended to provide for the omission of that paragraph of sub-section 2 of section 24 of the principal Act. The effect would be to abolish any deduction whatever on the ground. that an old-age pensioner possessed a home. I ask honorable senators to consider that the ideal which every one of us has of an oldage pension is that in the- ultimate it may be paid to every citizen of the Commonwealth, irrespective of his pecuniary position. We all realize that the attainment of that ideal is at present impossible, but I think we are sensible that if we are ever to arrive at it, it must be by slow gradation. The new clause I propose makes one step in that direction. Honorable senators know the circumstances of the inhabitants of Australia as well as I do. They are aware that many thousands of working men, of the class who will most largely avail themselves of pensions, are owners of their own homes.
– And sometimes of three or four homes.
– They have become possessors of their homes by industry and thrift, by stinting and saving so that they may be in a more or less independent position in their old age. Senator Fraser refers to some who are possessed of three or four homes. I take it that people who are able to live without an old-age pension will not apply for one, and I remind the honorable senator that- the Act provides that any one who owns property of a certain value shall not be qualified to obtain a pension. I am pleading now more especially for members of a large section of the community who, after years of patient and strenuous endeavour, have been able to provide themselves with a roof to shelter their old age. Under the Act, if an old-age pensioner has a house and land valued at £100, he is paid the full pension of £26 a year, but if his house is worth ; £iio, £x is taken off the pension paid to him. If he owns a house worth , £200, a deduction of £10 is made, and he receives a pension of only £16 a year instead of a pension of £26. I am sure that honorable senators, and especially honorable senators opposite, will agree with me that we should offer every encouragement to our working people to secure homes of their own.
-Can the honorable senator give the Committee any idea of the additional expenditure involved in the adoption of his proposed new clause?
– I have not the slightest idea. All that I am concerned with is the righteousness of the amendment which I have proposed:
– Supposing that a man’ sold a property worth £310, what annuity would he be able to purchase with the proceeds ?
– I understand that £310 will purchase an annuity of £30 for a person who is sixty-five years of age.
– It will purchase an annuity of £36.
– But when a man sells his house he has to break up his home. He must live somewhere, and working people have their feelings, just as have other members of the community. A man may have lived in a dwelling for twenty, thirty, or even for forty years. He may have spent the best years of his life there. He has probably reared his family there, and some of his children may have died there. The home and its associations may have woven themselves around his very heart strings, so to speak, and yet under this law he would be compelled to abruptly sever those associations of years and to reside somewhere else, otherwise he would not be eligible to receive a pension.
– Suppose that he were a bachelor like you and me?
– Bachelors at the age of sixty-five are fortunately in a considerable minority. We are not providing for them in this Bill.
– We are.
– I am endeavouring to appeal to my honorable friend who interjects, and who, I. suppose, is not altogether devoid of feeling, on behalf of a class which he professes to know a great deal better than I do. I refer- to the people throughout the length and breadth of Aus- tralia who are struggling to obtain a home of their own in which they might spend the closing years of their lives. All that I ask is’ that the Commonwealth shall pay them pensions without interfering in the matter of the dwellings in which they live.
– I am with the honorable member if the Commonwealth can-do it.
-I cannot say whether the Commonwealth can do it. If I did not think that it could, I would not propose the amendment. Of course, I recognise that so far as Senator Savers is concerned, his interjection affords him a very easy get out. But he did not make that plea when the previous amendment was under consideration. He did not then inquire whether the Commonwealth could afford to pay pensions to all the coloured persons who chose to come here. On the contrary, he swallowed it without the slightest compunction.
– If a man is living in a house that is worth£2,000, what would the honorable senator propose to do “ for him?-
– I do not think that a person who is worth , £2,000 would ever dream of applying for an old-age pension.
– Is Senator Gray prepared to vote for universal pensions?
– Yes, so soon as we have the money with which to pay them.
– Some honorable senators, like Senator Gray, are in the ‘ habitxof bringing up extreme cases. -
– The honorable senator may make the amount , £1,000 or£500 if he chooses to do so.
– Why is not a higher sum than £2,000 named ?
– There is one instance in which the owner of a house worth , £2,000 has been detected in applying for an oldage pension, so that Senator Gray’s interjection was quite a relevant one.
– I pity the poor Commonwealth - the poor taxpayer.
– Why should the honorable senator do so ? He does not pay one-twentieth of the taxation that he ought to pay. He is one of those who practically escape taxation.. Why, the poorest working man in the- community with a family pays ten times as much taxation, in proportion to his income, as does Senator Fraser. If my amendment is not acceptable to the Committee in its present form I am prepared to amend it. With that end in view I ask leave -to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
. -I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new clause -. - “ 14A. Section 24 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (b) of sub-section 2 the word ‘ One ‘ (second occurring) and inserting ‘ Five ‘ in lieu thereof.”
The number of working men who live in houses of their own which are worth £500 is very few indeed. At any rate, that sum represents the irreducible minimum so far as I am concerned. To a very great extent the amendment will overcome the objection urged by- Senator Gray, who has cited the case of a man who owns a house worth £2,000, and who has applied for a pension.
– I- have already said that my idea of an old-age pension is that it should be payable simply on the attainment of an age limit without any qualification whatever. I have also stated that I regard the scale and allowances provided for in this Bill as unfair, inasmuch as they are not comparative. Under one clause a more liberal allowance is made than is provided under other clauses. At the same time, I can scarcely see my way to support the proposal of Senator Stewart ; first, because it would not overcome the difficulties which are presented by the Bill, and secondly, because it would create greater difficulties. I suppose that the object of an old-age pension is to treat fairly all those who may be entitled to claim it. But under this proposal, whilst a man possessed of , £310 in cash would receive no pension, another individual who had £500 invested in a house would obtain a full pension. If we are going to have a property qualification or a property disqualification, there ought to be some actuarial basis by which we can apportion the amount of the pension to that -of the property of which a person may be possessed. We must either do that or support the payment ‘of universal pensions. Whilst Senator Stewart has a very laudable desire to protect the homes of certain people, I ask him whether it is quite fair that a man who has£310 in cash should receive a’ pension-
– Then increase that amount to . £500.
– By doing so, the honorable senator . must recognise that we should be largely increasing our financial responsibilities under this Bill. A man may own a comfortable home which is worth £500, and which possibly he may be able to let for 10s. or 12s. per week.
– He would have to live somewhere else if he did so.
– And his house may not be producing any income.
– Does the honorable senator regard that as a material factor in the argument? I have already stated that one claimant of the pension is possessed of a house which is valued at£2,000. We all know that there are such erratic individuals in the community. They are quite content to live in a property of that kind and to end their days there, with the comforting knowledge that they will be able to hand it on to their children. An old-age pension which has regard to the necessities of the people must also take cognisance of the property which they possess. Until the time arrives when we can readjust the scale of charges contained in this Bill, I ask Senator Stewart not to press his amendment.
Question - That the House of- Representatives be requested to insert the proposed new clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 15 -
Section thirty-eight of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “ 38. - (1.) Whenever required by the Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner, each pensioner shall send to the Deputy Commissioner a statement in the prescribed form relating to his income and accumulated property. “ (2.) If upon investigation the Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner is satisfied that the pension should be discontinued, or that the rate of the pension is greater or less than it should be, he may discontinue the pension or reduce or increase the rate of pension accordingly.”
– I rise to draw the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to a matter which has been brought under my notice. This clause deals with the accumulated property which a claimant may have. It has been reported to me that in the case of a pensioner who is living in his cottage, it being mortgaged, no allowance is made for the interest which he pays. Section 25 of the Act says -
The net capital value of accumulated property shall be* assessed in the prescribed manner, and, unless otherwise prescribed, the following provisions shall apply : -
From the capital value of such accumulated property there shall be deducted all charges or ‘encumbrances lawfully and properly existing on the property, and the residue remaining shall be deemed to be the net capital value of all accumulated property.
The provision means, I take it, that the interest on the mortgage shall be deducted from the rental derived, in order to get at the amount of the annual income. And in a case where a pensioner is living in his cottage the mortgage should be deducted from the capital value of the property. Obviously if an old person is living in his cottage, and its capital value is . £150, and it is mortgaged for ; £100, it is ridiculous to make a deduction of£150. I am told that that is not being done. The Minister, of course, cannot give me an answer on the spur of the moment, but I ask him to make an inquiry. I think he will admit that the spirit of the Act is that where a man is living in his cottage the capital value shall be deemed to be the capital value clear of encumbrance.
– My honorable friend has stated correctly, that at the moment I cannot state what the practice of the Department is. But, from my knowledge of the Act and the practice which prevailed under the New South Wales Act, from which our provision was copied, I feel perfectly certain that that which he says should be the practice is so. It seems to me that there is no room for anything else.
– The question asked in the form leads one to believe otherwise.
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator there. The purpose of this clause is entirely in the interest of the pensioner. At the present time, he has to file a return annually. It is not thought necessary to call upon a man to make a return of his property every year. It is not likely to vary very much, except in a very small number of cases. Hitherto it has been thought sufficient if we relieve him of the obligation to make an annual return, and simply require him to send in one whenever the Registrar notifies Kim to that effect.
– Why not use the words “ net income,” as in the Principal Act?
– It is not a question of income, but a question of whether a pensioner shall file every year a return of his property, or only do so whenever he is called upon. It is not thought likely that the property of such a person will vary very much, and therefore we propose to relieve him of that obligation. ‘ At the same time, in case he should now and again omit a windfall, it is thought necessary to give the authorities power to call upon him to make a further statement as to what his property consists of.
Clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 15A. After section thirty-eight of the Principal Act the following- section is inserted : - “ 38A. - (1.) Every Magistrate may, for the purposes of any investigation or inquiry under this Act -
receive evidence on oath ; and
require the production of documents. (2.) No person who has been summoned to ap pear as a witness before a Magistrate shall, without lawful excuse, and after tender of reasonable expenses, fail to appear in answer to the summons.
Penalty : Twenty pounds. (3.) No person who appears before a Magistrate as a witness shall, without lawful excuse, refuse to be sworn, or to make an affirmation, or to produce documents, or to answer questions whichhe is lawful lv required to answer.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.”
Clause 16 -
Section thirty-nine, of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “39. - (1.) Pensions shall be payable in instalments, which shall Be payable fortnightly. “ (3.) In order to ascertain the amount of an instalment of a pension covering a period of less than a fortnight the amount of. the instalment for a fortnight shall be multiplied by the number of days in the period and the product divided by fourteen.
Amendments (by Senator Pulsford) agreed to -
That the proposed new section 39, he amended leaving out sub-section 1, and inserting in lieu thereof the following words : - *’ Pensions shall be paid in fortnightly instalments.”
That proposed new section 39 be amended by leaving out sub-section 3, and inserting in lieu thereof the following words : - “,The instalment of a pension covering a period of less than a fortnight shall be in proportion to the number of days of a fortnight.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to insert the following new clause : - “16a. Section forty-seven of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “47. - (1.) Notwithstanding anything in this Act contained, if a successful claimant of a pension is an inmate of a benevolent asylum or other charitable institution, the pension shall, so long as the claimant remains an inmate thereof, be paid to the asylum, or institution. (2.) The asylum or institution may apply the whole or part of the payments on account of the pension towards the maintenance and support of the claimant. (3.) Any unexpended balance not applied towards the maintenance and support of the claimant shall be paid by the asylum or institution to the claimant on his being discharged from or leaving the asylum or institution.”
Amendments relating to invalid pensions and reduction of the age at which women should receive pensions were objected to on the ground of the increased cost involved. That objection can scarcely be urged with regard to my proposal.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. 45 . p.m.
– According to the Commonwealth Year-book for 1909, the total number of inmates of benevolent asylums was 16,586. I venture to say that now that the Old-age Pensions Act is in operation, that number will be decreased by at least one-third. A considerable number of aged men and women have been inmates of benevolent asylums because their sons, daughters, or near relatives were not able to assist materially in their maintenance. But the very fact that the Commonwealth Old-age Pensions Act gives to these people the small allowance of 10s. per week will induce large numbers of relatives of our aged, poor to take them under their own roofs. That is a common-sense argument. Reasoning on that basis, I have no doubt that the number of inmates in benevolent asylums will be reduced by at least onethird.
– Taking the present numbers, what would the amendment mean ?
– The new clause would involve, on present figures, an expenditure of . £8,293per week.
– , £400,000 a year.
– I do not think that the amount is very great. We must also remember that the parent Act provides for an allowance to such inmates for four weeks before they leave . an institution.
That is to say, if the inmate of a benevolent institution chooses to leave the institution, he or she is entitled to the old-age pension for four weeks before leaving ; that is to say, is entitled to receive £2. That must be. deducted from the total expenditure which my amendment would involve. I have before me a statement from the Treasury Department of Victoria in relation to the average cost per week of inmates maintained in benevolent asylums in this State during the year ending 30th June, 1908. I am informed by the responsible officers that the average cost per week was 5s. 9d. per inmate. If we have regard to the higher cost of living in such States as Queensland and Western Australia, we may say that the average cost of maintaining inmates of benevolent asylums throughout the Commonwealth is 7s. per week. So that if my new clause be carried, any inmate of a benevolent asylum would receive the benefit of the balance of 3s. per week. I do not think that any argument on humanitarian grounds is needed to commend the clause to the favorable consideration of the Committee. We know that if the sturdy pioneers of Australia, many of whom, unfortunately, are to-day inmates of benevolent ‘asylums, were granted the old-age pension, they would receive added comforts. Many little things would be given to them which to-day, I will not say are denied to them, but which the institutions really cannot afford to give.
– The honorable senator means that an old-age pensioner in a benevolent institution might be given better treatment than the other inmates.
– I do not mean that at all. It is very likely that the majority of the inmates of a benevolent asylum will be sixty-five years of age at least, and if these people had remained outside they would each be entitled to receive 10s. per week as an old-age pension. Therefore, the pensions ought to be given to them as inmates of these institutions.
– Could they not leave the asylums and get the pensions outside?
– They could. I propose to quote from a report placed in my hands of a conference of delegates representing the benevolent asylums of Victoria, which was held in the Town Hall, Melbourne, on the 14th July, 1909, to consider the question of old-age pensions.
– The conference did not support the honorable senator’s proposal.
– If the honorable senator will wait until I have read one or two passages from the report of the conference, he will see that they did support the new clause I am proposing. I make, this quotation in answer to Senator Story’s interjection -
The reason given by them for desiring admission was that through ill-health or infirmity they could not possibly live on IOS. per week, as after paying for a room, food, clothes, medicine, &c, there was nothing left to pay some one to’ look after them.
Do honorable senators mean to tell me that ros. per week is adequate for the support of old persons who have neither friends nor relatives, and are alone in the world? The report of the conference further says -
In passing the Pension Act the idea of the Federal Parliament was to make all old people receiving pensions as comfortable and as “happy, as possible.
I do not wish to reflect in .any way on the benevolent institutions of the States. I have no doubt that the authorities of these institutions do all they possibly can to make the inmates as comfortable as possible ; but if this new clause were adopted, they would be able to make the lot of these old people more comfortable still.
– The honorable senator has just admitted that some of the inmates of these institutions would not be entitled to receive the pensions.
– They would be very few in number, and in dealing with all legislation, I believe that Parliament attempts the greatest good for the greatest number. I quote again from the report -
Benevolent asylums can give a better home life to pensioners living apart from their families than could be obtained outside.
If aged people entitled to a pension can live with their families, and give the ios. per week towards their keep, let them do so. But if a number of our aged- poor, to whose indomitable perseverance, pluck, and endurance under trying conditions in the past, we owe the development of the Commonwealth, have no home to go to, and are compelled to remain inmates of benevolent asylums, we should give them the consideration I suggest, even though to do so would involve slightly differential treatment of the aged poor. I- shall not labour the matter further. I submit the clause for the consideration of the Com- mittee, and hope that it will be incorporated in the measure.
– Senator Needham has himself shown some of the difficulties of giving effect to the proposal he submits.
– How much would it cost?
– According to Senator Needham, it would cost ^400,000.
– Most of which would go to the State Governments.
– That is so. I do not say that for all time we should shut out of view the necessity to reconsider this legislation in regard to the position of inmates of public institutions. But I do say that, seeing that what Senator Needham proposes would involve a contribution to the State Governments, and bearing in mind that we are on the eve of negotiations with representatives of those- Governments to ascertain what our future financial relations are to be, a common-sense and business-like view -of the matter would suggest that this proposal should be left over until the negotiations to which I have referred have been advanced a stage or two. For this reason, I ask the Committee to discard the amendment. Even if we admitted the principle involved, I should still be very much disinclined to accept the proposed new clause. Senator Needham has said that the cost of maintenance of the inmates of some of these institutions is 5s. 9d. per head per week. He proposes that we should hand over IOS. per head per week to these benevolent institutions in respect of inmates whose keep costs them only 5s. 9d. per week.
– The honorable senator has not read the proposed new clause.
– What does the new clause propose?
– That the balance in excess of the cost of maintenance should be handed over to the pensioner.
– When he leaves the institution- -when, possibly, he is carried in his coffin to his last home. The honorable senator has quoted from a circular representing the views of the authorities of four benevolent asylums in Victoria, who conferred on the subject. They made a very different proposal from that which the honorable senator has submitted. They undertook that, no matter what the pension was, and no matter what it cost to maintain a pensioner in a benevolent institution, they would secure to him every week a certain portion of the pension. That was a very much more reasonable proposal to put forward. It would command a larger measure of support than will Senator Needham’s proposal in its present form. If the Committee decided to pay pensions to inmates of these institutions, there would, under such a provision, be some guarantee that the pensioners would directly participate to some extent in the country’s bounty. Seeing that .pensioners who would be inmates of these institutions would be amongst the oldest of our old people, and would in the natural order of events be amongst those who would soonest join the great majority, it would be inevitable that any balance in excess of the cost of their keep would go, not to them, but to the support of the institutions.
– Would the honorable senator support the clause if it contained a provision for the payment of the balance in excess of cost of keep to relatives of a deceased inmate?
– I object at the present time to adopt the honorable senator’s proposal in any form, and, lest the Committee should be inclined to adopt the principle, I have tried to show that the form in which the honorable’ senator has embodied it is faulty.
– No matter how perfect it was, the honorable senator would not support the proposed clause.
– I have said so.
– Then why point out its imperfections ?
– Because the Committee might decide against me on the principle. Senator Needham may not be able to understand the position, but I am satisfied that the Committee does. I feel certain that the Committee will not- adopt the proposal, in view of the fact that a liability of £400,000 attaches to it, and that the money would go, not merely to State benevolent asylums, but to “ other charitable institutions,” which would include denominational institutions. If we are to subsidize these institutions, we should secure some measure of control over them. Many of them are now under the control of the State Governments, and if they were to be subsidized by the Commonwealth that would probably involve a dual control. I venture to say that the Federal Government will not subsidize these institutions without claiming some right of supervision, and it would not be satisfactory to have a State as well as the Federal Government exercising control over the same institutions. The whole question is one which no doubt will require careful revision in the near future, but at the present moment, for the reasons I have given, I think it would not be judicious to adopt the proposal.
– I am not surprised that Senator Millen is not prepared to agree to the proposal, because apparently it is to be the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. The honorable senator talks about subsidizing State institutions; where would the subsidy come in ?
– In the difference between the amount of the pension and the cost of the pensioners’ keep.
- Senator Needham proposes the payment of pensions to inmates of benevolent asylums who are successful claimants. If the Commonwealth does not pay the pensions to these men in the institution they can leave it and demand their pensions outside. If a pensioner elects to remain in a State institution, the State Government will be more foolish than I take them to be, if they do not immediately make a claim against the pensioner or the Commonwealth for his upkeep. A man entitled to 10s. a week is not likely to be kept in a benevolent institution for nothing. So that there would be no subsidizing of the State Governments. Many of our old men and women would be very much better off in a public institution than they could possibly be anywhere else. Many of them have no relations, and many who have would refuse to live with their relations. Very many are unable to look after themselves, and whilst individually they are not in a position to pay other people to look after them, collected in a public institution they can be attended to in the most effective manner, can secure medical attendance, be kept clean and healthy, and be much better fed than they would be possibly under other circumstances. Our benevolent asylums are run on socialistic lines, and that probably is the reason why the Minister is so pronounced in his opposition to this proposal. The honorable senator talks of other charitable and denominational institutions. These I know nothing whatever about, ‘ but if they are engaged in charitable work at the present moment, I say, “ God bless them.” The hearts of those in charge of them are evidently warmer than are those of the members of the present Commonwealth Government. Inmates of these institutions who are qualified to obtain oldage pensions, ought to be given them. Senator Needham’s amendment provides that, should there be any unexpended balance after the cost of the maintenance of any inmate of a charitable institution has been deducted, the balance shall be returned to him upon his discharge from that institution. I do not know how much it would cost to maintain an inmate of one of these institutions, but I should think that it would almost absorb the whole of the pension of 10s. per week. But, should there be any unexpended balance, the proposal which we are now considering would be an eminently fair one. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has declared that, if adopted, that proposal would involve an additional expenditure of £400,000 per annum. A large number of persons will undoubtedly claim the pension, and if they cannot obtain it whilst they are inmates of charitable institutions they will certainly leave those institutions and draw it outside. This Parliament has already . exhibited such lavish generosity that it has actually entered into an engagement to pay pensions to Chinese and coloured persons from any other portion of Asia. Yet we are asked to take up a. niggardly attitude in regard to old persons of our own nationality who have found a restingplace in our benevolent asylums and other charitable institutions. I do not think that the adoption of the amendment would involve the expenditure of a single additional shilling, for the reason that I have stated. In fact, I am not sure that the States will be justified in maintaining in their own institutions persons who should be in receipt of old-age pensions. If I were a member of a State Parliament, I should certainly see that the Commonwealth shouldered its obligations in this connexion to the last farthing. Doubtless there are plenty of watchdogs in the State Legislatures who will see that it does so. I shall support the amendment of Senator Needham, because it represents a step in the right direction.
– I desire to intervene at this stage of the debate, in order to correct any false impression which may. have been produced in the minds of honorable senators by the statements of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. He has affirmed that the adoption of this new clause would involve the Commonwealth in an extra annual expenditure of £431,000.
– That was the honorable senator’s own estimate.
– The honorable senator himself declared that it would cost £8,000 odd per week.
– I said that the number of inmates in our various charitable institutions was more than 16,000. But I also assumed that one-third of that number would leave those institutions when they became recipients of old-age pensions, because the payment of those pensions would enable their families to provide them with that shelter and assistance which they were previously unable to afford them. I also stated , the estimated cost of my proposal at £5,528 per week. If that sum be multiplied by fifty-two, we have an annual expenditure of £277,456. That is a vastly different statement of the case from that which was made by Senator Millen. That honorable gentleman also declared that that amount would represent a contribution to the States. I have a keen recollection that, when the Surplus Revenue Bill was under consideration in this Chamber, members of the present Opposition “were accused of robbing the States. The States themselves thought that we were robbing them, simply because we desired to pay a certain sum into a trust account, to provide the nucleus of an old-age pensions fund. So keenly did some of the States feel upon this matter that they tested the constitutionality of our procedure before the High Court. But they- lost the suit. That tribunal held that we were quite within our constitutional rights. The Vice- President of the Executive Council was himself loud in his denunciation of that machinery measure, and joined with- others in their clamour against the action of this Parliament. To-day, however, merelv because he is the Leader of the Senate, he affirms that, if my proposal be adopted, we shall be making a contribution to the States. But, even if we did relieve them of a burden in this connexion, we should merely be giving effect to the very spirit which underlies the original Act. In opposition to paragraph 3 of the clause which I have proposed, Senator Millen has asked, “ Where would the residue of the pension go if an inmate of one of our charitable institutions were to die there?” In doing sohe has gone to a ridiculous extreme. The clause merely provides that any balance which may remain, after paying for the maintenance of an inmate, shall he handed over to him when he is discharged or leaves the institution.
– What would become of it when an inmate died?
– I am not dealing with dead people, but with living ones. Dead persons do not require old-age pensions. With all due respect to the keenness of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I venture to say that paragraph 3 of my proposal is on all -fours with a section in the Principal Act which provides that before an inmate leaves a charitable institution he must be paid the equivalent of four weeks’ pension. . I mention these circumstances to enable honorable senators to discuss this matter fairly, squarely, and above board.
– I presume that the proposal of Senator Needham may be regarded as the last of those involving the large expenditure into which honorable senators opposite wished to drive us.. It is worthy of note that those proposals would have involved the Commonwealth in an obligation of more than £3,000,000 annually.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not in order in discussing amendments which have already been disposed of, and in that way trying to influence the Committee in its attitude towards the amendment which is now under consideration.
– I think that the total expenditure that would have been involved in the adoption of previous amendments has some bearing upon the clause.
– Is it right for Senator Pulsford to refer to questions which have alreadv been decided?
– I have no desire to trouble the Committee any further in this matter. I have a great deal of sympathy with the view which has been expressed by Senator Needham. In fact, only this morning a letter was handed to me by a friend in the other branch of the Legislature, from an hospital in New South Wales, in which a similar view was expressed. My reply was that I had a very strong sympathy with the request which it contained, but that the present was not an opportune time to urge it.
– The usual game.
– Surely the honorable senator must recognise that his proposal merely involves a transfer of liability ? For that reason, which I think is an allsufficient one, it seems undesirable at this juncture to press the amendment. I also suggest to honorable senators that the Principal Act was a very huge departure in Australian legislation, and that it is undesirable to make any changes which would involve a great deal of extra work and introduce complexity in ithe arrangements. I confess that, while having a great sympathy with the object in view, I do not see any possibility of pursuing this proposal to advantage at the present time.
– What is the use of svmpathy without action?
– This is not a request for a new grant to support those who need help, but a request for money to relieve the State Treasurers. The object of the proposal is not to relieve the wants of poor people.
– I intend to vote against the proposed new clause for one particular reason. Whilst I have no objection to the Federal Government taking over benevolent institutions, and managing them at their own cost, at the same time I do not believe in handing over to State and other institutions money over which neither the Commonwealth nor its officers would have any control.
– And still less, support private institutions.
– I do not think that in Queensland we have a great many private institutions. I have looked up the report of the Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich for 1907. At the time it was submitted, the Old-age Pensions Act of the State had been in existence for six months, that is, from the 1st January to the 30th June, 1908. A number of honorable senators seem to think that on the payment of old-age pensions there will immediately be a very large reduction in the number of inmaites in benevolent asylums. I have never held that view. I do not believe that it will make any great difference in that regard. From all over Australia, a large number of persons will drift into these institutions. . Many of these persons have no friends who will be prepared to take the old-age pensions and look after them.It must not be forgotten that the older a person gets the greater nuisance he becomes to those who have to look after him. I suppose it will be generally admitted that when persons get into their second childhood’ they need more attention and care from their friends. Great credit is due to sons and daughters who will take the old-age pension for their parents and assume the trouble and liability of looking after them. I propose to quote a few figures from the report for 1907 to show that, in the case of Dunwich Asylum, there was just as large a decrease in the number of inmates before the Old-age Pensions Act came into force as there is now. In 1903 it contained 967 men and 173 women, making a total of 1,140 inmates, and representing a decrease of 45 for the year. In 1904, it contained 977 men and 155 women, making a total of- 1,132 inmates, and representing a decrease of 8 for the year. In 1905 it contained 1,016 men and ,-76 women, making a total of 1,192 inmates, and representing an increase of 60 for the year. In 1906 it contained 1,010 men and 169 women, making a total of 1,179 inmates, and representing a decrease of 13 for the year. On the 31st December, 1907 - that is, the day before the Oldage Pensions Act had come into force - it contained 969 men and 186 women, making a total of 1, j 55 inmates, and representing a decrease of 24 in the number for the preceding year. The ebb and flow was about the same before the introduction of the old-age pensions as it was at the time when this report was issued. The Old-age Pensions Act had not been in force long enough then to give a clear indication as to what might ultimately take place. But my opinion is that we shall not have a very large decrease in the “number of inmates in this institution. According to the officer in charge, Mr. Linford E. Row -
The total expenditure for the year 1907 was £18,394 2s. ; but as the Curator collected £524 17s. 10d. towards the maintenance of inmates the net expenditure was £17,869 4s. 2d. Approximately, this shows a cost of i0 2-7d. per head per day, 6s. per week, or £15 12s. per annum.
I do not know whether the expenditure includes the cost of management and interest on the cost of the buildings.
– If we divide the total cost of the number of inmates the average cost is 6s. per week, so that the interest could not have been included in the expenditure.
– If that is so it only strengthens my argument. If the Commonwealth decides to hand over to the State a sum of I OS. per week per inmate, will it not offer an inducement to the State to recoup itself say 2s. or 3s. per week to meet the interest on the cost of the buildings, the cost of supervision, and all that sort of thing? I am not prepared to vote any money to relieve the State of any expenditure in that direction. Of the 1,483 inmates who were in the Dunwich Asylum in 1907, there were 450 persons between the ages of 60 and 70 years, and I suppose it is reasonable to assume that one-half of those persons were 65 years of age. There were 531 persons between the ages of 70 and 80 years, 159 persons between the ages of 80 and 90 years, and twelve persons over 90 years of age. Out of the 1,483 inmates, 927 were over the age of 65 years.
– How many of these men and women would be entitled to a pension ?
– That is hard for any one to say, but I believe that at least 70 per cent, of them will be found to be entitled under the Federal law to an oldage pension on the ground of residence in Australia for twenty years. In my opinion this amendment, if adopted, would not only relieve the States, but also cause a considerable amount of trouble in the matter of divided management. Whilst we are now prepared as a Federal Parliament to make provision for all old people in Australia over a certain age, and in the near future to pay invalid pensions, I look forward to the time when we shall likewise be able to establish our own Commonwealth institutions under one management. I am prepared to do anything to bring about that state of affairs. But meanwhile I would allow the States to bear the expenditure in connexion with benevolent asylums. I doubt whether, if Senator Needham’s new clause were carried, the money would be of very great benefit to many of the inmates of the institutions, because when the cost of maintenance had1 been deducted from the ios. very little would be left for the inmates.
.- I shall vote for Senator Needham’s proposed new clause. I have paid a few visits to some of the benevolent asylums of Victoria, and am acquainted with the fare which the inmates receive. It is not of the very best, owing to the fact that the amount of money provided by the Government for maintenance is so small. We are told that the average cost of maintaining persons in the benevolent institutions in this State is 5s. 9d. per week. What can we expect that the unfortunate inmates can get for that amount? They cannot have any form of luxury, and they are denied some of the creature comforts which would tend to lengthen their lives and be a source of joy to them.
– If the amendment were carried the 10s. would be given to the institutions, not to the inmates.
– I have sufficient confidence in those who are intrusted with the management of benevolent asylums to know that the money would be considered as belonging to the inmates. The difference between the 5s. 9d. and the 10s. would be spent in purchasing little comforts for them. If a man wanted a little tobacco he could have it.
– Or a glass of grog?
– If some chose to have a glass of grog, I do not think it should be denied to them.
– I am far better without it, and I am a pretty good example.
– Medical men have recommended and prescribed alcohol for persons in a bad state of health.
– That idea is rapidly being exploded.
– I do not say that the inmates should be given grog. There are many other creature comforts which would tend to brighten their remaining days. We are told that the new clause would lead to great difficulties in management. ‘ I do not see why it should, because the money would be paid by the Commonwealth Government on account of the inmates and would be held in trust for them. Senator Turley says that the Commonwealth will ultimately have its own institutions, and appoint its own managers. But in the meantime he would allow things to remain as they are. In these institutions there are many who have rendered yeoman service to this country. They are without friends or relations, and have no one to help and comfort them. What is to be done on their behalf? Are they to remain in the institutions and fed on the scantiest of fare, because they have no relatives and friends, whilst those who have relatives will be able to live outside and get the full benefit of 10s. per week? I see no valid argument against the proposal, and trust that a majority of the Committee will vote for it.
– It seems to me that we are overlooking the object of the Bill. It did not originate as a Bill to meet every possible difficulty, in connexion with the poor of Australia. We have had old-age pension systems in some of the States. It was felt that there ought to be one general system throughout the Commonwealth. That is the primary object of the measure. In constructing a general system we have endeavoured to make it more liberal than any of the State systems were. That is a big stride. I donot pretend for a moment that we are now doing everything that we ought to do. But we are making a good beginning, and if we are to proceed further we must possess knowledge and information. This Bill will be a means of furnishing us with information which will enable us to perfect its provisions. But if we load the measure with a number of provisions, kindly in their intention but ignorantly adopted - I do not mean to use that term in an offensive sense - adopted through our impulses and our Sympathy. we shall be making a mistake. I agree that we ought to have some system of providing .for those aged persons who have none to care for them. I agree that we should have some corporate institution that should be made as kindly and as homelike as possible. But at present we are at our wits’ end to know how we are to get the money for what we are about to do. We shall be acting wisely not to load this effort unduly. None of us contemplates for a moment that the best we can do now is the best that we are going to do. Certainly I. do not. I , consider that the- best we can do at this time will be rapidly improved upon. But I am sure that it can be most effectively improved upon by observing ‘the working of what we are now able to do, and by discovering from actual experience and facts and figures how we can improve our system. I agree with Senator Turley that if this amendment were carried, we should not do any new work, although we should undertake a considerable amount of new expenditure.
– We should improve upon the work that is now being done.
– I am not so sure about that. The charitable institutions are for the most part conducted for a very small expenditure, which, of course,, implies that the provision made for the inmates is of a meagre, not of a generous, character. I have visited the benevolent institutions of this country whenever I could. I take an active interest in them. I have seen the fare provided. It is wholesome and sufficient nutriment, though I must admit that it is often rugged. Old people with poor appetites and failing constitutions cannot easily consume the food which is set before them. I know that, and am sorry for it.
– A Lord Mayor’s banquet cannot be provided for 5s.9d. a week.
– That’ is an unfortunate fact, which I do not overlook. We should not, I think, undertake this new proposal, for the reason that there is no positive knowledge as to what added expenditure it would involve. But we know that it would be considerable, and it is highly problematical whether the persons we hope” to benefit would be relieved to any considerable extent. There is the certainty that the work is now being done. By carrying Senator Needham’ s amendment we should relieve the persons who are now doing it. But we should simply shift the burden, and should not necessarily do the work better. I think it ought to be done better. I believe it will be done better if we take no step in the direction indicated by Senator Needham, but keep in mind the necessity for rapidly improving and making more complete and as humane and as sympathetic as we can, the treatment extended to our aged poor.
. When I spoke before, I had not closely read the wording of Senator Needham’s proposed new clause. It reads that the pensions are to be paid to the inmates of benevolent asylums, “ or other charitable institutions.” That covers a great deal more than I had contemplated. I referred only to one institution. In the Queensland official volume from which I quoted, under the heading of “ Charitable Institutions,” there are also the hospitals for the insane and the Diamantina Hospital for chronic diseases. I quoted the report of the Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich. There is another from the Jubilee Sanatorium at Dalby. All the reports to which I refer are for the year ending June, 1908. I should say that to some extent these are complementary institutions. For instance, an inmate of the Dunwich Asylum who develops some chronic complaint may be transferred to the Diamantina Hospital.
– The old person probably would not develop the chronic complaint if he had proper nourishment.
– It is possible that even Senator Findley, when he begins togrow old, will develop as many complaints that will become chronic as are developed by the old people in these institutions. I. am pointing out that these are complementary institutions to a great extent. Many inmates of the Dunwich Asylum have beensent from there to hospitals for the insane. These latter hospitals contain many people who would !be entitled to a. Federal old-age pension under the proposed new clause.
– Would the honorable senator call the institutions to which he has referred destitute asylums?
– The honorable senator forgets that his proposed clause covers benevolent asylums and other charitable institutions. Undoubtedly the Dunwich Asylum and the Diamantina Hospital are charitable institutions, as are hospitals for the insane in various parts of the State The proposed clause would apply to inmates of all the institutions to which I have referred. I have not gone into the number of the inmates maintained in them, but I say that we should find the cost of maintaining them a little more than we should be paying the State Government for their up-keep. For every inmate of the institutions to which I have referred who would be qualified to receive a pension under the proposed clause the Federal Government would pay 10s. per week to the State Government, because that is what this clause means.
– And perhaps also to a number of professional philanthropists, who are running institutions of the kind.
– That is so, but I. am dealing only with State institutions. I point out that we shall be paying to the State Government 10s. per week for each of these people. It costs the State, say, £30 per year to maintain each of these old” people, and the result will be that we shall be paying £26 per year over to the State Government, who will add the other £4 per year necessary for the up-keep of each of these inmates.
– Does it cost £30- per year to maintain inmates in these institutions ?
– I have no doubt that it costs more than £30 per year tomaintain the inmates of some of the institutions I have been describing. Old persons who suffer from chronic complaints cost more to maintain than do the inmates of ordinary Ibenevolent asylums. We should not take over the responsibility of paying pensions for each of the inmates of these institutions, because we do not know what the State Governments intend to do, and we should only be relieving their financial position at the expense of the Commonwealth, whilst at the same time we should have no guarantee that the inmates of these institutions would derive any benefit from the money we spent or would get any better treatment than they receive at the present time.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the proposed new clause - put. The Committee divided..
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 9.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090805_senate_3_50/>.