3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Imperial General Staff
– Amongst the papers distributed to honorable senators this morning is a paper presented by command on the 29th July, and containing the correspondence relating to the proposed formation of an Imperial General Staff. I presume that the paper was laid upon the table in reply to a question or an order of the Senate. In includes letters from the Colonial Office to the Governor-General of Canada, the Governor-General of Australia, the Governors of New Zealand, Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, Orange River, and Newfoundland. Seeing that, the paper purports to include all the correspondence on the subject, I should like the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to tell the Senate how it is that it does not contain the reply of the Commonwealth Government to the proposals from the War Office.
– I am not in a position to answer the question immediately, but if it’ is repeated on the motion for adjournment this afternoon I shall endeavour then to give my honorable friend the information which he desires.
– Some time ago at my instance the Senate ordered a return regarding the. costs of cases heard in the Arbitration and Conciliation Court. I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the return has been laid upon the table ; if not, when it is likely to be presented ?
– The return . will be laid upon the table almost immediately.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the old-age pension of a man in receipt of an Imperial pension, for instance a Crimean ‘veteran, has, ‘ according to the regulations, to be reduced from the stipulated amount to 5s. per week?
– I am not quite sure that I understand the question of the honorable senator; but so far as I understand the position the pension of an Imperial pensioner is regarded in the same way as income derived from any other source. . Tf an Imperial pensioner is receiving an oldage pension of less than 10s. per week that is because the Act provides that the pension of a person in receipt of income from any source shall be reduced proportionately.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether in the case of an old. lady who is in every respect qualified to obtain an old-age pension, but possesses a dozen hens, it is a fact that the Department takes account of the number of eggs which her hens lay -and deducts from her pension the value of such eggs?
– I can hardly think that the question is submitted seriously.
– It is.
– If my honorable friend will supply me with the particulars of the case to which he refers I shall see that it is inquired into immediately.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will he place the men connected with the Defence. Forces in Hobart on the same basis as to payment as the Militia Regiments elsewhere in Tasmania?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Minister has the whole question of converting Volunteers into Militia throughout the Commonwealth under consideration.
-Assistant laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return to Order of the Senate of 9th July, 1909 - Court of Conciliation and Arbitration : Number of days occupied in hearing of industrial disputes, &c.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– The -Minister seemed to expect me to bring forward the question of establishing a mint-arsenal, but my reason for not doing so was that the Bill does not provide for the coinage of silver in Australia. The report to which th*e honorable senator referred does not in any way disprove the assertions and the arguments of Messrs. Corbett and McKay, who are two Mint _ officials, one in Melbourne and the other in Perth. I may mention that these experts; not mere theorists, have devoted considerable attention to the consideration of this subject. The report of the Committee referred to was to the effect that they did not recommend the establishment of a mint-arsenal,’ not that it was impossible. When I was Minister of Defence, the agent of an Austrian firm called at the Department to see if there was a possibility of obtaining an order to supply ammunition. He had read the report of the discussion in the Senate, and for my information he brought samples of cartridge cups made in their factory, and also samples of coins made therefor various South American Republics. He informedme that the blanks for coins and the cartridge cups were made by the same staff. That was a source of very great satisfaction to me, because it absolutely proved what I had contended here.
– It is not a question of whether it is possible, but a question of whether it is desirable.
– The strength of the contention of the Departmental Committee was that whilst it might have advantages, because then the mint could be run during the whole of . the year, the making of alloy for coinage was one thing, and the making of alloy for cartridge cups was another thing, and that while a man might be skilled in one manufacture, he might not be skilled in the other. According to their report, which I hold in my hand, that was the strength of their objection to the scheme of Messrs. Corbett and McKay. But that is exactly what the Austrian firm are doing. If the Minister of Defence cares to make an inquiry, he will- find that the Department has samples of cartridge cups and of coin blanks, which were supplied to me by the agent of that firm. The gentleman who waited upon me said that the firm were prepared to turn out for the Commonwealth in their factory cartridge cups and also coin blank’s which could be stamped here. That work is now being done by the firm for various South American Republics. If this were a Bill to provide for the coinage of silver in Australia, I should certainly advocate that that course should be taken here, because then the employes could be kept at work all the year. The Committee pointed out that the coinage of silver, as compared with the manufacture of cartridge cups, is as two to seven. That is to say that two would represent the coinage of silver and seven the manufacture of cartridge cups. In discussing this question some time ago, the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that if we were to set up an establishment for the coinage” of our own silver we should be able to keep it going for only about two months in the year. But since the statement was made that the coinage of silver as against the manufacture of cartridge cups would represent a proportion of two to seven jt has become manifest that our manufacture of cartridges will have to be materially in- creased owing to the fact that last year our defence forces cut heavily into our reserve of ammunition. If to-day Messrs. Corbett and McKay were asked what proportion the coinage’ of silver in Australia would represent to the manufacture of cartridge cups, they would probably reply that it was as two is to ten. Consequently, the employes who would be engaged in the coinage of silver in Australia for two months in the year might be profitably occupied during the remainder of the year in making cartridge cups. During the period that I filled the office of Minister of Defence an application was made by the Colonial Ammunition ‘Company - which holds a lease of certain land from the Government - to be permitted to erect upon that land the necessary mill for the rolling of metal in order that they might manufacture their own cartridge cups there. I gave the desired permission because I did not consider - seeing that we were not proceeding with the work ourselves - -that I would be ‘justified in refusing it. Whenever the Commonwealth decides to coin its own silver in Australia I am satisfied that the Ministry of the day if they will look into the matter will recognise that Messrs. Corbett and McKay have made out an unanswerable case, and that the two operations to which I have alluded can be successfully carried on in the one factory.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) (10.48]. - I crave the indulgence of the Senate for a few moments to express the hope that notwithstanding the fact that the selection of a design for the proposed new coinage has been left to the Government they will carefully reconsider the suggestion that one side of the coins should bear a representation of the map of Australia. Probably the Ministry were wise in not submitting a question of that kind for determination by Parliament. But I noticed in the Argus of to-day a very interesting letter under the signature of Mr. Dobbs, of Toorak, in which it is suggested that the representation of a map of Australia upon the proposed new coinage constitutes a distinct departure from the artistic heraldry which is usually associated with coinage. Personally, I think that we should adopt the artistic design which is approved by the heralds of all civilized nations. In conclusion, may I be permitted to suggest that the official coat-of-arms of the Commonwealth should be placed on the obverse side of the coins?
– In reply to Senator St. Ledger I shall have pleasure in bringing his remarks under the notice of my colleagues. But I think he will recognise that if we are to have a distinctive coinage it is not possible to adopt any design which is more truly Australian in character than that which has been already suggested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th August, vide page 2636) :
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Power to erect or alter lighthouses &c.)
– I desire to obtain some information from the Minister in reference to this clause. I am informed that requests have been made by the Marine Department of Queensland for the erection of four or five lighthouses along the coast of that State. I understand, too, that a considerable number of applications have been submitted by other persons who are trading on that coast - such as the Torres Strait pilots - for the erection of other lights. These requests total about thirty. Can the Minister of Trade and Customs tell us how many applications have been received in this connexion from the State authorities, how many have been forwarded by other persons, and what is the estimate of the cost of carrying out the suggested works? T. presume that when the State authorities apply for the erection of a number of lighthouses they must have some idea of their cost.
– Why did not Queens^ land itself erect those lights?
– Probably because a move had been made by the Commonwealth to take over all ocean lighthouses.
– But South Australia proceeded with the work of erecting lights along her coast. She is building new lighthouses now.
– Prior to Federation we witnessed an example of the same sort of procedure in connexion with the Postal Department. A number of States whose representative men were under the impression that the cost of certain undertakings would be borne by the Commonwealth, proceeded to erect large and expensive post oakes. Those States were subsequently astonished to learn that they themselves had to bear the cost of those works.
– Where was’ that done?
– I think that a big post office was erected in Tasmania under the impression that the Commonwealth would pay for it. I know of one or two other States in which similar works were undertaken under quite an erroneous impression
– That cannot be . the case now, because the financial position has since been made. so clear that the States know exactly what revenue they may expect to receive from the Commonwealth..
– At any rate, I believe “that more than twenty requests have been made to the Commonwealth for the erection of lights along the northern coast of Queensland. I think that whatever information the Ministry may possess in this connexion should be presented to Parliament.
[10.58]. - So far as Queensland is concerned, I may say that during the past year or two something like thirty applications have been received by the Commonwealth for the erection of lighthouses along its coast.
– Not official lighthouses.
– Whether they are for official or non-official lights the fact remains that about thirty requests have been received. After full inquiry into the matter and after consultation with the officials of that State, the Government have arrived at the conclusion that there are four new lights upon the Queensland coast which are urgently required. A similar number of new lighthouses are urgently needed upon the Western Australian coast and at least one is required upon the coast of each of the other States. As soon as this. measure becomes law the question of erecting -those lights will receive earnest consideration at the -hands of the Government. Roughly speaking, the average cost of these lights would be about ^15,000.
– - That .is the capital cost ?
– And Queensland desires thirty of them.
– We do not recognise Queensland or any other St ate in particular. We look to the cOast of Australia, and we wish to ascertain where on that coast a large trade takes place, rendering lighthouses necessary for the safety 01 navigation. It so happens that four points have been neglected on the coast of Queensland, and four on the coast of Western Australia. It will be .understood that expenditure of this kind is what we call “ other “ expenditure, and is charged per capita. I do not think that any honorable senator will dispute the fairness or justness of that principle.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland [n.i].- The lighthouses erected in any State are not merely for the service of that State. They are erected for the safety of Australian shipping, because nearly the whole of Australian shipping traverses the coasts of all the States. Considering the number of places in Queensland that have to b<r safeguarded, the State Government has performed its duty in this respect pretty well. The number of lighthouses erected is large, and the expenditure has been great, having regard to the population of the State. It must be remembered that the Barrier Reef is just outside the coast of Queensland throughout nearly the whole of its eastern extent, and this in itself necessitated the erection of a great many lights. As much care has been taken to light the coast and safeguard shipping in Queensland waters, as in any other State of the Com.monwealth But I deprecate references to any particular State in this matter,- because the shipping that traverses the coast of Queensland is largely non-Queensland shipping. It belongs to Australia as a whole. I am in favour of expenditure being incurred for the erection of lighthouses on the coast of Australia wherever it may be necessary to render trade as reasonably safe as Parliament can make it. I care not whether the State affected may be Tasmania, South Australia. Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland. The sooner ‘ honorable senators set rid of such a miserable parochial idea the better.
– I am glad to hear that.
– The honorable senator cannot point to a single vote given bv me since I have been a member of the-
Senate as to which I have adopted a parochial view in regard to any State. Therefore I trust that the cavilling in regard to State interests will be allowed to drop on this question, and that the Commonwealth will be vested with and will exercise the power to erect lights on any part of the Australian coast where such a service maybe necessary to render shipping safe.
Clause agreed to.
The Minister may, by notice in writing, whenever in his opinion it is desirable for the safety or convenience of navigation so to do, require the owner of any marine mark or of any lamp or light -
No person shall without reasonable cause (proof whereof shall lie upon him) fail to comply with a notice under this section.
Penalty : Fifty pounds.
Provided that nothing in this section shall render a State Government or any authority of a State liable to a pecuniary penalty under subsection (5).
– Under this clause the Minister proposes to take power to require the owner of any marine mark, lamp, or light to remove it. Does that mean that the clause will apply to any light within a harbor? The Bill does not profess to legislate in regard to harbors.
– My honorable friend misconceives the position. We take over certain lights by agreement. But we take power to suppress any other lights that interfere with ocean lights.
– We must necessarily have such power.
– Of course we must.
– But if any lights inside a harbor do not interfere with coastal lights, why interfere with them?
– I hope that ^ve are acting in the public interest, and for’ the safety of navigation.
– We may, by this provision, put some members of the public to great inconvenience.
– Private convenience must be subordinated to the safety of shipping.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that if a private person erects a misleading light, we should not have power to suppress it ?
– The Government are taking power to negotiate with any person with regard to any light. Who is to be the judge as to what is a misleading light inside a harbor? Although the Bill professes to deal only with coastal lights, we are now going further, and taking power with regard to harbor lights. If we are to take charge of all lights affecting shipping, well and good. The time will, no doubt, come when we shall do so. But, at present, the time is not ripe for that action.
.- If the Commonwealth control Of lights is to be effective, power must necessarily be taken to suppress misleading lights. Otherwise, lights might be exhibited which would confuse the masters of ships, and render lights erected for the safety of navigation absolutely useless. I can quote a case in point. In the Cairns Harbor there are two lights which guide ships into the main channel. One is erected on shore, at a considerable elevation. The other is about halfway out, in the harbor. If those two lights are kept in line, a ship is kept in the middle of the channel. They afford a perfect safeguard. Some time ago, a very large hotel was built on the Esplanade fronting the beach. The proprietors erected a large light, which served two purposes. It met the requirement of the Licensing Act, which compels hotels to display a light outside, and it also served as an advertisement to the hotel. But it was found that this light was almost in a line with the two leading lights, and that a shipmaster coming up the channel was- very likely to mistake it for the big light on shore. If a master followed the hotel light, instead . of the proper leading light, it would take him out of the- channel and run him on to the bank. Accordingly, the marine authorities had to suppress the hotel light. Had the owner persisted in retaining it, an accident would inevitably have occurred. That instance shows that the Government must have power to’ suppress lights.
– I am totally against the partial nature of this Bill, but at the same time I recognise that it is absolutely necessary for the Commonwealth to have the powers conferred by this clause. I do not think, however, that there will be much need for their exercise so far as ocean lights are concerned. Such an example as has been quoted by Senator Givens is not likely to occur in regard to any coastal light in any part of Australia.
– Why not? How about Queenscliff?
– No hotel at Queenscliff is likely to put up a light visible for twenty-one miles.
– It need not be visible for twenty -one miles ; it need not be visible for more than three miles to be dangerous.
– I cannot think of any ocean lights that are likely to be made dangerous by the erection of any private light. But still, the principle is sound. Suppose that Senator Macfarlane erected on the tower of his house at Hobart a light which was dangerous to the shipping coming into the harbor, the Commonwealth ought to be able to interfere, and say “You shall not retain that light.” The Commonwealth should have power to remove Senator Macfarlane’s light if it were necessary for the safety of shipping.
– The clause goes too far.
– The Bill does not go far enough. I again emphasize the fact that within the near future the Federal Government will assume full powers in regard to navigation. Surely then we should take power to say that ships shall not be led into a trap through false lights being exhibited. I have been on a vessel which was nearly trapped through lanterns being tied to cows’ tails with the deliberate object of enticing ships ashore.
– Such a light could not be called stationary.
– I shall ‘support the clause as it stands, but shall oppose the proviso .at the end of it. What is the use of the Federal Government assuming these, powers if some inferior authority is to render their, useless? We have already had attempts on the part of State Governments to defy Commonwealth law. Are not such attempts likely to be made again ?
– I hope not.
– I hope not too. But if a State does defy ‘Commonwealth authority, some punishment should be meted out.
[11.15]. - Senator Macfarlane is still under a misapprehension. We assume power to take over any lights. In the future it may become necessary to take over other than ocean lights by arrangement with the States. We do not propose to interfere with river lights at present; but we do intend to take over all ocean lights. The Commonwealth Government must necessarily have the power to suppress any lights that would interfere with Commonwealth lights. Otherwise, it would be competent for a State Government, or any other authority, to erect a light which might be misleading to navigators. It is, of course, difficult to believe that the power conferred by this clause would ever require to be exercised as against a State Government or State authority ; but it might be necessary to exercise such a power as against a private individual.
– I move -
That the words “Provided that nothing in this section shall render a State Government or any authority of a State liable to a pecuniary penalty under sub-section (5) “ be left out.
I need not labour the subject. It is sufficient for me to say that I do not see why we should not have supreme authority over all lights.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (VictoriaMinister of Trade and Customs) [11. 17]. - It is difficult for me to believe that the honorable senator can be serious. Under this clause, we take supreme power for the removal of lights, and to make orders calling upon persons to refrain from lighting lamps or exhibiting certain lights. It is, under the clause, the duty of all owners of lights to comply with a Commonwealth order in this connexion. Every individual, including a State Government or State authority, may be called upon to comply with an order of the Commonwealth Government. If they do not comply with such an order, we can cany out the order ourselves at the expense of the owner of the. light or marine mark objected to. We provide, in subsection 5, that -
No person shall, without reasonable cause (proof whereof shall lie upon him) fail to comply with a notice under this section.
Any person who does fail to comply with such an order is to be liable to a penalty of ^50. Then, we provide -
Then- follows the proviso which Senator Guthrie desires to have eliminated from the clause. That proviso is inserted because we do not presume to subject the Government of a State or a State authority to the indignity of a prosecution for the purpose of recovering a penalty. A penalty frequently involves imprisonment ; and it is ridiculous to suggest for a moment that an insult of that kind should be offered to a State Government or a State authority. I repeat that we have power to do what we want done at the expense of a State Government, a State authority; or of any individual who fails to comply with a Commonwealth order. Surely it is only the courtesy and consideration due to a State Government, or an authority under a State, that we should not, in our legislation, include a provision which would necessarily involve an insult to them ? Is it to be supposed that the Government of a State and the Government of the Commonwealth, who will both be acting in the public interests, will quarrel over a matter of this kind? Should the worst come to the worst, and action in defiance of a Commonwealth order be taken by a number of the State Governments, the full remedy still remains in our hands, since we have only to issue a proclamation under the .Constitution, and take over every light in Australia within navigable waters.
– Is the honorable senator sure that, under the Constitution, we can do that?
– We have the power to make laws in regard to lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys ; and in section 69 it is provided that-
On a date or dates to be proclaimed by the Governor-General, after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the following Departments of the Public Service in each State shall become transferred to the Commonwealth -
Lighthouses, Lightships, Beacons, and Buoys ;
That indicates our powers under the Constitution. I am referring now to what we should be able to do in the last resort. It is clear that we are protected in every way. I nm satisfied that the Committee will not assist Senator Guthrie to put such an insult as he proposes on a State Government or State authority.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) fu. 21]. - I am rather inclined to support Senator Guthrie’s amendment, but not at all for the reasons he has advanced. It is, in my judgment, astonishing that it should be thought necessary to include such a proviso in a Bill of this kind. I should have thought that under some general law or standing rule, it yould be absolutely impossible for the Commonwealth Government to presume to put the authorities of a State om trial in a Police Court, or any other Court. I express the opinion that it is very regrettable that it should beconsidered necessary to insert such a provision. I wonder what Senator Guthrie would think if the Imperial Parliament passed some legislation affecting outlying, parts of the Empire, and included in it a provision under which the Federal Government might be subject to arrest, or to someannoyance, unless they did certain things. The suggestion is too ridiculous.
– My honorable friend forgets that the clause would affect, not only a State Government, but a State authority, such as a Marine Board or Harbor Trust.
– Such an authority would have F6 defy the State Government before they defied the Commonwealth Government. I repeat my view, that it is regrettable that such a provision should bc considered necessary.
– 1° sub-clause 5 it is provided that-
No person shall, without reasonable cause (proof whereof shall lie upon him) fail to comply with a notice under this section.
If any individual should fail to comply with such a notice he is liable to a penalty, but he is enabled to produce proof that he had reasonable cause for failing to comply with the notice. Should a State Government or a State authority fail to comply with such a notice the Minister may step irk and remove the marine mark, or any lamp, or light, without giving the State Government or the State authority an opportunity to plead reasonable cause.
– The Bill says nothing of the kind.
– If a State Government, a Marine Board, or a Harbor Trust refuses to comply with a notice in writing, the remedy in their case is the removal of the objectionable light.
– And that without giving them an opportunity to show that they had a good reason for establishing the light. If, as in the case of individuals, they were liable to a penalty of ^50, they would, under this clause, be given an opportunity to show why they refused to comply with the notice. I am as satisfied as that the sun will rise to-morrow that friction will occur under this Bill, and for the reasons I have stated I desire that the proviso shall be struck out.
– There is something in the contention of Senator Guthrie. An owner under the clause includes a State Government and any authority of a State, as well as a private individual. In the case of failure to comply with a notice under this clause the Commonwealth Government may step in and do what is required under the notice. It is provided that no person shall fail to comply with a notice without reasonable cause. Of what use is it to pass such a provision if there is to be no penalty ? Most of the ports of Queensland are under the control of local Harbor Trusts, and differences of opinion are sure to arise in connection with the positions chosen for marine marks. I am satisfied that in connexion with ocean lights, and these are all the lights the Government propose to take over at present, no friction is likely to occur. But the Minister hopes and believes that as time goes on the Federal authority will extend its powers to the control of all lights, beacons, and buoys.
– As under the Bill that will, be by arrangement there should be no friction.
– There is always friction in connexion with these matters. Pilots and others navigating vessels in and out of a harbor are usually called upon to express an opinion as to the location of buoys and beacons, but their recommendations may not always meet with the approval of the local Harbor Board. Under this Bill’, the Federal Government will have the right to step in and do what is required, but, as Senator Guthrie has pointed out, there is no provision enabling a State Government or State authority to show that they had reasonable cause for the establishment of a marine mark or light to which the Commonwealth authorities object. It does not seem to me that there should be any difference between the treatment of a local authority and the treatment of any individual who fails to comply with the law, and over whom the Minister has equal control. Suppose that an individual has a light which may be held to be misleading to shipping. The Minister has. the power to require that person to do something, and, if no notice is taken of the written request, the Minister has the right to direct his officers to do the work required to be done, and to recover the cost from the offender. Besides taking the power to recover such expenditure, the Minister is taking the power to fine the offender £50. If three or four persons on a Harbor Board come into collision with the Federal authority, surely the Minister should have the 1X3wer to deal with them in exactly the same way as he would deal with an individual offender. Seeing that the Government take power to deal with all offenders against the Act, and to recover any expenses to which they may be put in carrying out any work required to be done, no harm can be done by omitting the power to sue for the infliction of a fine upon an individual offender. If the power to inflict a fine upon an individual is deleted, then the amendment of Senator Guthrie is perfectly logical. Why should the Minister desire to take two powers, namely the power to recover the cost of any work which is done, and the power to sue for a fine? Does he not think it is only fair that all offenders against the law should be treated alike?
– I do not, for the very cogent reasons which I have given.
– I have not heard any reasons given by tlie Minister for taking the power to fine an individual and not a State for an offence against the Act. All I heard the honorable gentleman contend was that if an individual failed to do a certain thing he should, in addition to paying the cost of the work, be subject to a fine for not complying with the written request of the ‘Commonwealth Government; but that if a body of three or four persons who had control of certain works in connexion with a harbor defied the law, they should not be subject to a like penalty. What difference should it make to the Commonwealth Government whether the law is defied by one person, or by three or four persons?
– We must treat constituted bodies differently from individuals.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that any small body should hare the right to defy the law without being subject to the same penalty as an individual offender ?
– It will not be a defiance of the law.
– It will. If the Commonwealth is empowered to take over the lights in connexion with a harbor, it does not necessarily follow that it will take over all the work which is being done by the State authority. It does not mean that we shall extinguish that body by taking over the lights in the harbor. At the same time, those persons may think that they are entitled to defy the law, and, if they hold that view, certainly they should be subject to the same penalty as any other offender is. It seems to me that there is some force in the contention raised by Senator Guthrie. I think that the law should apply to local authorities and individuals alike.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Guthrie’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Light dues to be paid).
– We are now brought face to face with what may be called the finances of the Bill. I do not like the idea of the light dues of Australia, which aggregate a large sum, being fixed by an authority outside of Parliament. I” assume, for the moment, that we have the best possible Minister in office, but some day we might have an incompetent one at the head of the Department, and, under this power to regulate light dues, something might be done which the Parliament would not approve of.
– The regulations must be laid before the Parliament.
– Yes, but the regulations will not be the result of a decision of the Parliament. I believe that the Minister said that the expenditure under the Bill will be about , £60,000.
– That is only a rough estimate.
– Then it may be a good deal more. I will take it that an expenditure of at least£60,000 will be absorbed in the maintenance of these lights. That is a very substantial sum to raise by means of a tariff which is privately arranged. I should like the Minister of Trade and Customs to give us a little information in regard to the methods adopted in the various States for determining light dues, and I should also like to know whether, when this Bill has become law, the States will still retain power to charge local light dues.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [11.47]. - I am rather surprised at the objection which has been urged to this clause, seeing that it is the necessary complement of the previous portion of the Bill. In this matter we are really following the practice which has been observed by the States. So far as shipping is concerned we say that, for certain services which we will render to trade and commerce, we desire to be recouped our expenditure. . It is estimated that for present purposes the cost of maintaining the lights which it is proposed to take over from the States will be approximately£60,000. Having ascertained that cost we wish to take unto ourselves power by means of regulation to charge it against ships passing or deriving a benefit from any of our lighthouses or marine marks. That is the plan which is usually adopted. A Harbor Trust, for example, levies rates and dues under regulation. In the same way, pilotage fees are charged under regulation. Of course our regulations will have to be altered from time to time so as to insure that we shall be reimbursed our actual expenditure. I would further point out that those regulations will have to be laid upon the table of both branches of the Legislature, so that it will then be open to honorable senators to urge any objection to them which they may entertain.
– In my judgment the regulations framed under this Bill ought to embody the settled fiscal policy of the country. If the Minister of Trade and Customs happens to be in power when those regulations are framed, I hope that he will recognise that Australia has adopted a protective policy, and that he will offer some encouragement to Australian shipping in the matter of light dues. It is obvious that vessels which are constantly making use’ of our ports ought not to be charged as much in this connexion as ought ships which visit us only once in a period of years.
– Why should we make a distinction in a miserable, pettifogging matter like that?
– Because we desire to encourage Australian shipping-. I would point out to Senator Gray that the lighthouse Boards of Great Britain do not regard this matter as a pettifogging one. To my mind the verbiage of the clause might be considerably improved. If a ship bound for New Zealand happened to sight one of our lighthouses - although she would have derived a certain amount of benefit - how can we collect any light dues from her?
– It is because of obvious difficulties of that kind that power must be taken to levy dues under regulation.
– I think it would” be sufficient to provide that we should collect light dues from ships calling at Australian ports. They would then be within our jurisdiction.
– But suppose that a ship bound for another country, which derived a benefit from our lighthouses or marine marks, subsequently entered an Australian port, she would then be liable for past light dues.
– Under this clause we shall receive no revenue whatever in certain cases.
– How can we improve it?
– It is idle to take unto ourselves a power which we cannot exercise. I do not apprehend that the revenue derived from our light dues will be insufficient to meet our expenditure in this connexion. Last year South Australia obtained a profit of ^18,000 upon her lighthouses.
– And a profit was secured in Tasmania.
– In Tasmania there is no profit from lighthouses.
– For years South Australia has not derived a less profit upon that service than ,£15,000 per annum. I do not desire the Commonwealth to make a profit out of the service, but I think that it ought to obtain sufficient revenue from our lighthouses to enable them to pay their way and to give the keepers of those lights a fair remuneration, instead of sweating them. Some of the lighthouse- keepers upon islands along our coasts might just as well spend their lives in Pentridge as pass them amidst their present surroundings. I hold that the revenue derived from our coastal lights ought to be sufficient to” enable their keepers to live in a reasonable degree of comfort.
– From the remarks of the Minister of Trade and Customs, I gather that he does not understand the great difference between applying the arrangements; which exist in the States to a wide area such as is embraced in the Commonwealth. Those arrangements ought not necessarily to be applied to the whole of Australia. It would have been better had the Minister given us some, information regarding the general policy to which he proposes to give effect in prescribing rates under regulations.
– I do not think we can do more than provide that ships coming to Australia and deriving a benefit from our coastal lights should be asked to reimburse us the cost of the services rendered them. If there were no lights along our coast, ship-owners would probably lose a great deal more than they will be called upon to pay as an insurance fund for the safety, of their vessels in the form of light dues. I agree with Senator Pulsford that we ought not to continue the system which obtains in the States. As a matter of fact, the rate imposed for light dues by one State is quite different from that levied in another State. To my mind, we should have uniformity in this matter. This Bill will prevent any State Government from extending preferential treatment to particular steam-ship companies -by remitting the payment of light dues. That sort of thing has been going on for some time.
– Will this Bill bind us to agree with what the Queensland Government have done ?
– We should have uniformity in the matter of light dues, so that all ships would be placed upon the same footing, but, in order to induce the vessels of the Orient line to visit Brisbane, the Queensland Government have for seme time past been in the habit of relieving those vessels of all light dues. Under this Bill, however, no State authority will be able to extend preferential treatment to any vessel coming to Australia. All will be treated alike.
– But shall we be bound by State covenants?
– To what State covenants does the “honorable senator refer ?
– To State covenants which have been entered into with certain steam-ship companies.
– That is exactly what I desire to ascertain. I wish to know whether all existing rights in that connexion will be preserved.
– They cannot continue indefinitely.
– I understand that certain concessions to particular vessels have been offered by the Government of South Australia. Will the rates that now exist in the various States be maintained under this Bill, or will they be abrogated?
– The ships that the honorable senator refers to take advantage of Australian coastal lights in more States than one. Therefore, they will be liable to pay for the whole service rendered.
– Suppose that the ships belonging to a certain company do not use. the lights of more than one State? Suppose that a vessel comes to Queensland through Torres Straits and down to Brisbane. At one time we had a company running ships from England to Brisbane by that route.
– Can the honorable senator tell me of a similar case at present existing?
– [ do not think that such an arrangement exists now. But if a State Government enters into a contract, with a company to come to its ports only, the ships of that company may not visit the ports of any other State.
– I do not think that there is a case of the kind.
– But if a State subsidizes a steam-ship company for such a purpose, and remits light dues, will such an agreement be abrogated to the extent that the Commonwealth will be able to claim light dues from the company’s ships? Some honorable senators take the view that the Commonwealth Government will be able to charge light dues on account of ocean lights, and that State Governments will also be able to charge on account of harbor lights. That is a question upon which the Minister should be able to’ give some information. We ought to know how many authorities ships will be subject to, on account of light dues. Take the case of a ship coming to Brisbane. She will have to pay light dues to the Federal authorities on account of the light at Cape Moreton. Inside the Bay there are other lights which are just as important as is the Cape Moreton light. Will ships have to pay the Stale Government on account of those lights ? There are still other lights which are under the control of the harbor authority. As far as I can see, shipping will be subjected to three different charges on account of lights at Brisbane. The Minister seems to have ignored that difficulty.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [12.10]. - Senator Turley’s mind is troubled by the possibility that contracts may exist between a State and a shipping company’ for the remission of light dues, and he wishes to know whether the Commonwealth will be able to charge in such a case. No actual case has been suggested, nor do I know of one.
– Take the case of the Orient Steam-ship’ Company, whose vessels visit Brisbane under a special arrangement.
– But the vessels of the Orient- Steam-ship Company use other lights than those of the State of Queensland, and consequently they will pay dues on account of ocean lights. When this matter was fully discussed by me with the State Premiers last week, no such contingency as that mentioned by Senator Turley was suggested. Had trie Premiers required protection in this connexion it may be taken for granted that they would have mentioned the matter. The position is, that by reason of the passing of this measure there will have to be a readjustment of light charges by the States. The dues now paid will be broken up. We take over liabilities to the extent of something like ^60,000. We shall impose dues for the services rendered to that extent. It would be the duty of the States to make remissions to the shipping companies to the extent that we relieve the former of liabilities. Consequently a readjustment of dues will become necessary. It is true that while light dues will be charged by the Commonwealth, others will also be charged by the States for the upkeep of lights for which they are responsible. But the States can easily readjust their charges to meet the new condition of affairs. I do not think that there will be any difficulty. We do not interfere with the States as to the dues which they shall charge, but we may be satisfied that they will, in any readjustment, take good care that no undue charges are permitted to hamper shipping frequenting their ports. On the contrary, it is to be assumed that the States will render every possible facility to shipping, and I trust that they will do so at the lowest possible rates.It has been suggested that some of the States have been making profit out of shipping in this respect. I trust that if that be so they will see the wisdom of relieving ship-owners at all events to the extent that we are taking over liabilities. I do not think that there need be any fear of friction or of undue charging.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 16 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Debate resumed from 25th August (vide page 2557) on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best -
That the papers, laid upon the table on the 13th August, relating to the Budget and the Estimates, be printed.
. -Iwishto commend the Government for the early opportunity given the Senate to consider the most important matter which can be brought before any Parliament. I regret that, having perused the Budget, I am forced to say that that exhausts my commendation. I like to praise people when I think they deserve it, but it must be acknowledged that the Budget falls far short even of the expectation of some of the friends and supporters of the Government. I do not know whether I should condemn it more because of what is omitted from it, or only partially dealt with, or because of what it includes of a most pernicious character. It sins both by commission and omission. It includes for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth a proposal for borrowing. I recognise that it possesses one advantage, and that is that it has required ten pages less of paper to print the accompanying papers than were necessary in connexion with the Budget papers of last year. Considering that the manifest imbecility of the towering geniuses who are now- in charge of the finances of the Commonwealth has led to a proposal to resort to the pawnshop, it may prove an advantage to save even ten pages of paper in the printing of the Budget papers.
– That is a most courteous statement.
– The Budget includes for the first time in Federal history a proposal for a borrowing policy, in order to finance the ordinary works and services of the Commonwealth. These do not involve any expenditure which, in my opinion, calls for such a policy. I regret that the statesman at present at the head of the Government of this country, and who has been . so long and so creditably associated, not only with the affairs of the Commonwealth, but with affairs in the State which has given him prominence in public life, is now associated with a deficit. History will oblige us to recognise that the Deakin deficit occurred towards the end of the honorable gentleman’s political career. If he does not plead guilty to the deficit, his name must be associated with the proposal made for the first time in the Commonwealth. Parliament to resort to borrowing for works and services, the expenditure upon which should be defrayed from revenue. We shall have occasion to refer to either the Deakin deficit or the Deakin loan. That cannot be gainsaid. When I have to speak of an opponent it is a great satisfaction to me to be confronted by him, but the Prime Minister has colleagues here who are well able to answer for him. I wish now to refer to the way in which the honorable gentleman has fallen from the position which he formerly occupied.
– I point out to the honorable senator that this is not an occasion on which he is entitled to make an attack upon anybody. He is at liberty to make an attack upon the Budget and the proposals it contains, but not upon individuals.
– Nothing was further from my intention than to make an attack upon anybody. I am merely directing attention to proposals at present before the Senate, and the authorship of those proposals must necessarily be discussed. T was about to compare the policy hitherto followed by the Prime Minister with that to which he is, unfortunately, at present committed. I propose to show that he has been influenced by, or placed under the thumb of, a particular section of politicians in such a way that he is entirely bereft of any initiative and of any of the qualifications of leadership. He has become the mere creature of a particular element in the politics of this country.
– The honorable senator preferred that he should remain under the domination of the Labour party.
– I am reminded by what has taken place of a story related by Tamerlane. When the leader of a political party in France was asked, on one occasion, why he did not check the excesses of his followers, his reply was, “ I must follow them, because I am their leader.” It would seem that the Leader of the present Government, who has had such a creditable record in the past, is at present compelled to follow his followers, because he is their leader. I have mentioned what I consider the biggest blot on the Budget. I refer to the appearance of the borrowing blight. I regret that it should be there, but, as it is in evidence honorable senators must express their opinions upon it. Let me say that I am not one of those who are opposed to a borrowing policy. I have shown by voice and vote in the past that I favour a borrowing policy if it is carried out on lines which will not lead, later on, to a reaction entailing misery and suffering, such as have followed upon the adoption of borrowing policies carried out on a lavish scale in the past. I can understand a borrowing policy being resorted to to finance public works that will show a return upon the capital invested in them. I could understand a borrowing policy being entered upon to make the fertile, but arid, lands of Australia productive.
– Fertile, but arid?
– Yes, the expression is perfectly correct. In the honorable senator’s own State there ‘ is the finest stretch of country in the world, over which one can travel for 300 or 400 miles in one direction, as he would upon the open sea, and see nothing but Mitchell and Blue grass on every side of him. That is fertile land, but for long periods the district is an arid district. A wisely conceived policy introduced for the purpose of making that tract of country, “or any ‘similar one, productive by means of irrigation would have my support.
– Irrigation schemes have not been very ‘successful so far.
– I can refer the honorable senator to the very vigorous policy of irrigation which has been carried out in the United States. I say that, even if all the money spent in the way I suggest were lost, the supply of water to the arid areas in the interior of this country would represent a maximum gain. A war occurred in America in the early sixties, due to nothing but a difference between brothers of the same nation. To carry that war to a successful issue the American nation spent no less than£1, 800,000,000. That, I think, established a record in the cost of any war international or civil. That expenditure was undertaken to bring about a condition ‘of things in which one brother might shake another by the hand. There was nothing material to show for it, but it produced peace and harmony in a great community that for a time had been sundered. The population of the United States at the time was about 32,000,000, and yet they incurred the enormous expenditure of , £1,800,000,000 with the object to which 1 have referred. On that basis Australia, with its present population, could afford to spend£220,000,000.
– -Itis very refreshing indeed to hear that from the honorable senator.
– I am making this reference in order to show that in America there was an enormous amount of indebtedness incurred with no result, except that it produced peace, and that on the same basis we in Australia could well afford to play, so to speak, with that enormous sum if the purpose was to make arid areas in the interior productive. If we take America’s experience as a guide we could wipe out the indebtedness by the very increase of production from the additional land settlement. If we could supply a permanent stream of fertilizing water to the arid lands in the interior we could afford to lose the initial outlay, seeing that we should afterwards derive a substantial gain from settling people on those lands.
– The honorable senator will acknowledge that there is a good deal of theory about that.
– I am simply pointing to the history of a nation which spent a vast amount of treasure with no tangible result - with no result - except, as I have said, the bringing about of peace between its citizens. On that basis we in Australia could afford to spend£220,000,000 and to lose it for the purpose of settling the fertile lands in the interior, which, owing to climatic conditions, are not at present habitable. I am making these remarks by way of emphasizing my advocacy of a borrowing policy, so long as it is directed on lines which would produce profitable employment, and not on lines which would produce that misery which has followed upon the rash and improvident borrowing policy pursued in some of the States. The members of the Labour party have been reminded very frequently that’ they are opposed to a borrowing policy. We cling to our opinion for no idle purpose. We are not opposed to a sane policy of borrowing. We are in favour of a restriction of public borrowing, and for -very good reasons, too. Those who both here and elsewhere charge us with an antiborrowing tendency are quite forgetful of certain facts. They should recognise that in the early .history of the movement the Labour party mostly represented the working classes. Of course, as time went on, our aims came to be better understood and we now represent more than the manual toilers. Our supporters include a great leaven of other elements. Let me put the case to honorable senators in this way : Does it not seem strange to them that we who primarily represent manual toilers should be opposed to the inflow of as much money as possible? Does it not naturally occur to our accusers that the more money introduced to give employment and to ease competition the better it is for the workers ? If in a particular district a blacksmith sees a number of horses constantly introduced and has to meet no competition, he is very pleased with the result, because the more work comes his way the better chance he has to make an independence. And so with a storekeeper. If there is an influx of population to buy his goods, and competition is reasonably limited, he is pleased with the result. So it should be apparently with the worker. The more money introduced to be expended, naturally the better it should be for the workers who are to secure a portion of it. It eases the competition in their ranks.
– The honorable senator should educate his party. He is now talking sense.
– I am striving to point out the fallacy under which the honorable senator and others are labouring. If a constant well-regulated stream of capital could be insured and wisely -expended, we should be in favour of its encouragement.
– Bravo !
– But what is the position? When capital is introduced here, either publicly or privately, it certainly has a tendency to raise the rate of wages and the standard of workers. Should we not, therefore, be foolish, nay mad, not to encourage a state of things which would insure a continuous stream of capital ? I say that we should. But the point is that in the past we had an inflow cif capital, but had afterwards to go through a very trying time. We recognise that whilst it was coming in continuously, through public and private agencies, we did enjoy ourselves, and that the reward of labour increased - certainly it did not decline - in comparison with the rates prevailing in other countries. But the day of reckoning came, and that brings me to the kernel of our objection to a rash and improvident borrowing policy. -What has been happening in this country to create this fixed opinion among the Labour party ? Between 1881 and 1891 the six States introduced no less than ,£8,800,000 a year. During that decade they had a vast stream of gold coming in continuously, and it is very safe to assert that things then looked bright and rosy. So far as I know, every one enjoyed a good time, was well paid for his labour, and derived a good return from his investments.
– Were the rates of wages and conditions of labour the same tHen as now ?
– I think that they were better; certainly they declined in the following decade. I am tracing the history of our borrowing policy during a period of twenty years, in order to account for the opinion held by the Labour party. During the decade which followed 1891 a gre.it change occurred. Those who were supplying us with capital from a distance recognised that we were spending more borrowed money than we were entitled to do, with the result that Australian credit declined, and our annual inflow of £8,800,000 fell to ,£5,800,000. We know that, as a direct result of the large volume of capital which was introducedbetween 1881 and 1891, a great inflation of values took place, and it was n a i n 1 r responsible for the financial crisis which occurred in the early nineties. I have seen a statement made bv the ex-Premier of Western Australia to the effect that during that crisis no less than 170,000 persons were thrown out of work in the States:.
Remembering the extent to which the standard of ease, comfort, and independence varied in the “fat” decade and the “lean” decade, the members of the Labour party came to the conclusion that unlimited borrowing was a bad policy for any State to pursue, and that it would be bad for the Commonwealth to introduce at any time more borrowed money than it could legitimately absorb. Hence our present policy.
– Everybody holds that view.
– The honorable senator belongs to a party whose object it has ever been to introduce as much capital as possible irrespective of results.
– No; absolutely the contrary.
– Of course, the honorable senator may make that disclaimer now, but the fact remains that he will have to take a share of the responsibility for the parentage of the borrowing policy. There was not a Labour member in a State Parliament before the industrial crisisoccurred in 1 89 1. That trouble was directly traceable to the way in which the States were gorged with borrowed capital.
– I have written columns and columns of matter’ with regard to the excessive borrowing by the States.
– There is still hope for the honorable senator, but that does not alter the fact that the party to which he belongs was in power when the money was borrowed. No Labour party was in power when excessive borrowing was indulged in. That policy produced dire misery and far-reaching results. With regard to the proposal for balancing the Federal finances, it is a favorite expedient with Treasurers who are afraid to face the position squarely to resort to the moneylender rather than ask for sufficient revenue by taxation to meet the obligations of the country. This expedient has an injurious effect upon the great mass of the population, because the interest has to be provided by indirect taxation. The revenue from Customs and Excise duties - the sole support of the Commonwealth - averages ,£2 10s. per head of the population, so that a couple with six children contribute £20 a year to the Treasury. If the Parliament should be so foolish as to sanction the sale of short-dated Treasury bonds the workers will have to provide the major portion of the interest bill.
– Ninety per cent, of the population of the Commonwealth are workers.
– According to the honorable senator the remaining 10 per cent, will, in the future as in” the past, escape the burden which they ought to bear. Coming to the Budget, I would point out that the financial trouble with which we are confronted will not end this year or next year. We are face to face with a difficulty in the matter of making ends meet, and although that difficulty may be overcome this year by resort to borrowing, the adoption of that course will only land us in a greater difficulty next year. The Budget papers show that it is merely proposed to stave off the evil day. It would be infinitely better for us to tackle the problem of our financial needs this year than to postpone its consideration until next year. During the current year, we shall have to levy on the revenue to the extent of £850,000, in order to finance old-age pensions. But, in this connexion, we shall have to make good next year a sum of ,£900,000 in excess of that which has been raised this year. It will thus be seen that the Treasurer will then occupy a very much worse position than he does now. According to his statement, the estimated Customs and Excise revenue for 1909-10 is ,£2, 630,000. Of course, I am speaking of the one-fourth of the net Customs and Excise revenue to which the Commonwealth is entitled under the Constitution. Upon his own showing, therefore, it will be necessary to float a loan for £1,200,000. This is how the additional sum of .£900,000 is to be raised with which to finance old-age pensions. Of course, I recognise that if the arrangement which the Prime Minister recently arrived at with the State Premiers be ratified by Parliament, £600,000 of that amount will be forthcoming. It is anticipated that next year the total revenue available to us from Customs and Excise will be £4,914,000. Now, if we add to the ,£2.630.000, which the Treasurer expects to receive from that source during the current year, the ,£1,200,000 which he proposes to raise by the issue of Treasury bonds, and the ,£900,000 deficiency upon old-age pensions, we get a total of £[4,730,000. Deducting that sum from the anticipated Customs and Excise revenue for next year, namely, ,£4,914,000, it will be seen that he will have a surplus of only £[184,000. With that amount he will be called upon to pay invalid pensions, to defray the cost connected with the establishment of the Federal Capital, to build a transcontinental railway, and to take over the Northern Territory. How can he finance all these ambitious schemes when, upon his own showing, he will have only ,£184,000 available for the purpose?
– Can the honorable senator tell us when these large undertakings will be carried out?
-I cannot. But Senator Gray belongs to the party whose leader has included all these undertakings in his programme. Does the honorable senator intend to allow the question of the establishment of the Federal Capital to remain dormant?
– Then how can these ambitious projects be financed?
– Let us pass the necessary Bills, and then the desired information will be forthcoming.
– How can these great undertakings, which have been before the country for so long, and by means of which Mr. Deakin has gained a great deal of popularity, be carried out in the absence of sufficient funds for the purpose?
– And without making provision for the expenditure of a single penny upon a Dreadnought.
– I had forgotten that item. At present, however, I am concerned only with those projects which are included in the Government policy, and which have been repeatedly paraded before the country. I come now to our position in reference to the Defence Department. The Government propose to borrow money with which to finance the ordinary works and services of that Department. Is the adoption of such a course a reasonable one? Would Senator Dobson contend that we ought to borrow money with which to purchase rifles for the cadets ?
– No j nor would anybody else.
– Then is it a fair thing to borrow money for the purpose of enabling us to erect forts, and to purchase uniforms?
– Upon one occasion, the Government of Tasmania borrowed money for the purpose of purchasing blank ammunition.
– Does not Senator Lynch approve of borrowing money for the purpose of building forts?
– Certainly not. The expenditure necessary to maintain the efficiency of our Defence Department ought to come out of revenue. I propose to quote the utterances of a very high authority as to the way in which the Defence Department should be financed. In speaking of the conduct of a war, in the House of Commons, in 1854, Mr. Gladstone said -
The expenses of a war are the moral check which it has pleased the Almighty to impose upon the ambition and lust of conquest that are inherent in so many nations. There is pomp and circumstance, there is glory and excitement about war which, notwithstanding the misery it entails, invests it with charms in the eyes of the community, and tends to blind men to those evils to a fearful and dangerous degree. The necessity of meeting from year to year the expenditure which it entails is a salutary and wholesome check, making them feel what they are about and making them measure the cost of the benefit on which they may calculate.
– Can the honorable senator cite one instance in which a nation has borne the expenditure upon a war during one year out of the revenue of that year?
– I am sorry that I cannot. I recognise that the public debt of Great Britain is largely due to expenditure which has been incurred in the prosecution of wars. But I have quoted the utterance of a leading British statesman as to the course which should be adopted to meet expenditure even in the conduct of a war. The make-shift Fusion Government, however, deliberately ignore the lessons of the past.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 -p.m.
– Honorable senators cannot but recognise that the policy of resorting to borrowing for the ordinary requirements of our Defence Force in times of peace is foolish and mistaken and quite indefensible. It means, for instance, paying for forts, for the purchase of rifles and uniforms, and, perhaps, for the buying of flags and ammunition, from borrowed money. We are supposed now to have on the Treasury benches men whose mission is proclaimed to be to redeem the name of the Commonwealth in the eyes of the world, to formulate a sound financial policy and restore responsible government. But their first resort is to the money-lender, to borrow for ordinary requirements. The Government propose to train school children for the .defence of this country.
– The honorable senator believes in the training of cadets, does he not?
– Certainly. I believe in the training of cadets with the object of teaching our young men to use the rifle at an early age, and for the sake of the salutary discipline which they will derive. But I do not believe in making the training of cadets the principal feature of the defence system of this country. I am sorry for those members of the Government who formerly committed themselves to a more practicable and patriotic scheme. There are Ministers who have defended a policy that was eminently workable and praiseworthy ; but since an unfortunate change in political parties has been brought about they have apparently changed their minds, and we now find them proposing to intrust the defence of Australia to school children of from 12 to 14 years of age, in the hope that when these boys arrive at man’s estate they will be able to shoulder rifles for our defence. Look at the practical side of the proposal. How long shall we have to wait before these boys of 12 and 14 will be available to take their place on the tented field? It will be at least seven years before they will be of service if “ the guns begin . to shoot.” I can only say that the proposal is in keeping with other foolish aspects of the Budget, and is to be equally strongly condemned.
– Yet the honorable senator approves of the proposal.
– But I say again that I disapprove of making the training of cadets the central feature of our defence system as it becomes under the diluted policy of the present Government. I refuse to indorse either by word or implication a hybrid policy which aims at training children, while it leaves the manhood of this country untrained. Evidently the Government are not alive to the importance of the advice of men of ripe experience in the Mother Country. They are deaf to the counsel of some of the foremost mouthpieces of experienced thought on this subject in Great Britain. I will quote one who speaks with authority on defence. This authority has written in the following terms to the Call, a journal published in Sydney -
I have learnt with profound satisfaction of the foundation and progress of your association, which is pursuing the great national object to which I am devoting all my thought and the remaining years of mylif e. As you are aware I am striving to awaken my fellow-countrymen to the vital need for the adoption of universal compulsory military training, in order to provide an efficient and sufficient national reserve of trained men who shall be able to come forward in time of peril to the Empire.
Not school boys, not youngsters, not stripplings, but trained men.
This ideal, founded upon plain justice, and completely in accordance with the principles of a free democracy, is, I am glad to say, making a steady headway here at home, and it is a deep encouragement to me in my efforts to -promote the safety and welfare of the Empire, to find that our fellow-countrymen over seas are everywhere fully alive to the necessity and the manifold advantages of the reform advocated.
That communication is signed by Field Marshal Lord Roberts. It is not the opinion of a novice in warfare. It is the viewof the late Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, of the Indian Army, and of the army in South Africa. Lord Roberts spoke in no equivocal terms. His language should command the respect of the Ministry. He strongly advocates universal compulsory training, not of school boys, but of men. I ask Senator Dobson how he can justify his support of this Ministry after his own advocacy of universal training.
– He is afraid of the wrath to come in Tasmania.
– I think that Senator Dobson has a keener insight into the necessity for adhering to a practical national policy than to keep his eye mainly upon his own political interest.
– Hear, hear !
– I believe that the honorable senator is steadfast and determined to follow the policy that he has marked out for himself, and which is ‘ in keeping with the teaching of modern experience in military matters.
– I member of Lord Roberts’ League in England.
– The proposed expenditure on defence as provided for in the Budget does not satisfy me. The Government have approached the question irr a very half-hearted fashion. The cost of our defence cannot be called excessive in comparison with the expenditure in other countries. By way of comparison, our expenditure amounts to something like is. per head per annum. The cost of defence in the United States is over 3s. per head, in France and Germany it is considerably over 3s., and in Great Britain it reaches nearly 6s. per head. The present Government had a chance of altering that disproportion, and of showing, in a practical way, that we, the citizens of Australia, are prepared to take a hand in defending this country without leaning upon our poor brother in the Old Country. For my own part, I refuse any longer to be a loafer on the English taxpayer. Because after all, upon whom are we depending? Upon the poorer classes, the struggling masses, of the Old Country. I refuse, for instance, to allow the crofters of Scotland to pay 6s. per head while we in Australia pay no more than is. The present position is, in my opinion, most unreasonable and unfair. But it sufficiently indicates the halt and lame policy of the Government, and their inadequate appreciation of the necessities of the case. It was supposed when the present Government assumed office that in the matter of ability and statesmanship and the power to give real effect to responsible government, they would compare more than favorably by the Fisher Government, whom they superseded. Yet when we come to deal with the question of defence we find that the vote which the present Government propose to provide for the adequate defence of the Commonwealth, does not compare in adequacy with that proposed by the Labour Government. The Budget proposes an increase in the defence vote of £524,000 on the expenditure of last year. The much-maligned Labour Government were prepared to devote a great deal more to the defence of Australia.
– How much for this year ?
– They proposed a vote for this year of £1,150,000, or an increase upon the vote proposed by the present Government of no less than £626,000. No wonder that I should be inclined to look upon the professions of the Government, and of those who have joined with them in beslobberings of loyalty, as hollow, when I find that they are not prepared to submit proposals for the adequate defence of the Commonwealth, but prefer that we should continue to lean upon the poverty-stricken masses in the Old Country. I object entirely to the Government’s makeshift defence policy, and to their proposal to spend on defence £600,000 less than the much-abused Fisher Government were prepared to spend for this purpose.
– What was the estimate of the probable return from the land taxation proposed by the Labour party?
– The net proceeds were estimated at about £500,000.
– At anything from £500,000 to £1,000,000.
– I have no serious fault to find with the other increases of expenditure disclosed by the Budget. As the Commonwealth continues to develop, increases in departmental expenditure are inevitable. The increased expenditure proposed in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department amounts to £220,000, and I have no objection to offer to that. The increases under the heading of ‘ ‘ other expenditure ‘ ‘ amount to £508,000, and they include two items to which I do not object, but about which I am unable to become enthusiastic. The first item I refer to is the increase of £11,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. I believe that we should not continue to hide our light under a bushel. It is necessary that this great continent, with its small population, should be known abroad, and especially throughout Europe. But I believe that the expenditure of £11,000 in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth will be only so much money wasted, unless some effort is made to make the lands of the Commonwealth available to those whom Ave desire to introduce. Of what use is it to explain to people abroad that we have in Australia mines which turn out so much wealth annually, industries established on a small scale, forest reserves and fisheries, when we know that every one who comes here will find that each of his hands is as long as the other. There will be no land available for him except under conditions which must involve a continuous struggle, for existence during his early career as an immigrant. In some of the States there is land available, but speaking of them as a whole, land is not available for immigrants to such an extent as would warrant their unlimited introduction, only to be bitterly deceived. What is happening in Queensland at the present time? When Victorians, who feel themselves crowded out, although they have a fertile State of their own, seek an outlet for their energies in Queensland, they find that the practice in that State is to set apart, at a stiff price per acre on the resumed estates, a large area for occupation as “Victorian colonies,” as they call them. What is happening in New South Wales on the rich alluvial flats of the northern rivers? The land is in the possession of private owners, and is let at a rental varying from £3 to £6 and ,£7 per ‘acre. In all seriousness I ask honorable senators to say whether that is a satisfactory condition of affairs in a young country ? It shows that there is a dearth of land, when people who desire it are forced to pay the extraordinarily high rental of from £5 to j£j an acre. We talk about the condition of affairs in Ireland, but the crack of the landlord’s whip will soon be heard as loudly in New South Wales and Victoria as it ever was heard in Ireland. No party in the Commonwealth is making any practical effort to alter this condition of things, and to make unoccupied areas available to the people, but the party which up to the present has received nothing but abuse as the reward for its endeavours. I am not opposing the vote for advertising the resources of Australia; but I cannot be enthusiastic about it until we have a Government prepared to pledge themselves irrevocably to make the lands of the Commonwealth available for the persons whom, we desire to attract to our country. I have said that I am dissatisfied with the inadequacy of the proposed vote for defence, and I am equally dissatisfied with the inadequacy of the vote for the Post and Telegraph Department. This is a public service which might be immeasurably improved. It might be made to confer many practical . advantages upon our citizens, quite apart from the facilities it affords for communication between them. Let me inform honorable senators of what is happening in the United States, where they seem to have a much better grasp of the advantage of fully utilizing this service. I find that in the United States the Postal Department, in conjunction with, the Agricultural Bureau and Meteorological Bureau, lends itself in a very practical way to the dissemination throughout the country of weather warnings that must be of the greatest advantage to farmers. I have a work here from which I quote the following references to the operations of the Weather Bureau -
Through the Weather Bureau daily forecasts and warnings of storms are sent to over 50,000 different parts ; and storm signals are displayed at 300 places on our coast. By its operations millions of dollars are saved each year to the agricultural and maritime interests of the country. a recent decree of the Post Office Department renders the reports of the Bureau of still greater service. Slips of paper, having the storm, frost, or other warnings printed on them, are to be distributed by the rural mail-carriers at the various houses in the districts affected.
So that in the United States, by linking together the Post Office, the Meteorological Bureau, and Agricultural Bureau, services of the greatest value are ren dered to both the maritime and agricultural interests, which could not be given but for such co-operative action. Millions of dollars are saved every year to the people, and mail carriers disseminate throughout the agricultural districts warnings of frosts, tempests, and hurricanes, without which information the farmers of the country must suffer. I feel that our Postal Department might well be improved on similar lines. I admit that this could not be done without the expenditure of money. The present Government have done nothing in this direction. An effort was made by the Labour Government to increase the revenue from this Department, but it was at once discounted by the present occupants of the Treasury benches. The Fisher Government for the first time called upon the users of telephones to pay in proportion to the services rendered to them. There was an outcry from chambers of commerce and financial institutions, from people who were getting far more in service than they were prepared to pay for, the result being that the action taken by the Fisher Government to prevent some of the leakage in the revenue of the Department was revoked by the present Government as soon as they assumed office.
– No, they only postponed action in the matter until they got a proper grip of the charges which ought to be made.
– That is quite in keeping with their usual policy of postponing action, or shuffling off responsibility. Instead of grappling with a palpable problem they leave its settlement to the next generation, and wait, like Micawber, for something to turn up. I have heard it said that no borrowing is actually proposed, that there is to be merely an issue of Treasury bonds with a currency of four years at a stiff rate of interest. If that is not a form of borrowing I should like to get some lessons in the art.
– There will be neither bills nor bonds I hope.
– I hope that for .the credit of the Commonwealth the honorable senator will use his influence with the Government to avert such a calamity.
– Yes. I regard it as nothing less than a blot on our country to apply to the gentleman with three balls hanging over his door for the necessary money to carry on the ordinary services of government.
– Does the honorable senator want to construct the transcontinental railway to his State out of revenue ?
– According to his argument, that must be done.
– I hope there will be a good deal of revenue allocated, not only for that work, but for works of a kindred character.
– But the honorable senator contends that only revenue should be used for the purpose of building that line.
– Reverting to the main justification of the Government for borrowing £1,200,000, I can hardly find any, except with the aid of a powerful microscope. Apparently, the only justification which’ can be cited is an increase of £159,000 in the expenditure on new works for the Postal Department, and of £227,000 on new works for the Military Department. When the additional expenditure on unproductive works for those two Departments totals only £386,000, what justification is there for raising a loan of £[1,200,000? I feel sure that honor: able senators will come to admit that no valid reason can be urged in defence of the Government’s borrowing policy. One of the most humane elements in the Oldage Pensions Act - the invalid section - is about to be shelved.
– At Gympie, Mr. Fisher said he was sorry that he had to shelve it.
– No. He did not want to deceive the people in any respect, and, therefore, he said that at the earliest possible date he hoped to give effect to that section of the Act. With the present Government in office, however, there is no hope of invalid- pensions being paid either this year or next year, because, as I have pointed out, there will be only _£ 18 1,000 available next year to meet the expenditure on old-age pensions, the Federal Capital, the Northern Territory, defence, and several other spread-eagle proposals of the Government. The payment of invalid pensions will have to go by the board. Some members of the Government claim to be just as sympathetic with the suffering and the afflicted as are the members of the Labour party. But, in this Budget, no mention is made of the payment of invalid pensions, nor has it yet been hinted that the next Budget will include provision for the expenditure. With other proposals, it will pass into the political limbo.
At the same time, these honorable gentlemen are making these necessary projects important features of their policy, in the hope of ingratiating themselves with the public. But when the time for hard performance comes, the Government will be unable to redeem their promises. They live by promises, and by nothing else.
– Of course, the honorable senator realizes that the proposal to build a railway to Western Australia is practically dead - as dead as a red herring?
– The Budget does not contain the slightest reference to that project. I should like to see the line constructed, and I believe that when it is made the unwritten intention of the founders of the Constitution will have been carried out. For many a long year it has been a hobbyhorse of the Treasurer.
– It took us eight years to get a survey of the route authorized, though he was in the Ministry, and I suppose that it will take us eight years to get the construction of the railway authorized, if he continues in office.
– In the speech which he addressed to another place, the Treasurer referred to this national project in these terms -
The reports so far are altogether favorable, and only the authority of Parliament is now required in order to carry out the work.
Here is the Fusion Government making that acknowledgment through the honorable gentleman’s mouth, because they are as much responsible for his utterances as for their own. Why does he not submit a proposal for the construction of the line?
– Perhaps he heard the honorable senator’s views about borrowing, and concluded, that there was no chance ci getting the line authorized.
– There are none so blind as those who will not see. Although we have professed a steadfast belief in a restricted policy of borrowing and spending, yet our chattering opponents will do nothing but interject that we are opposed to any borrowing whatever. They remind me of a pneumatic rubber doll, which whenever it is squeezed, squeaks “papa” ot ‘ ‘ mamma . ‘ ‘ Whenever the question of borrowing is raised here, our opponents on the other side have nothing to say except that we are opposed to that policy. The Labour party are not opposed to a sane restricted borrowing policy for the carrying out of reproductive works, but I’ positively object to money being borrowed for expenditure on military uniforms, postoffices, Customs houses, and buttons, for cadet uniforms.
– Does the honorable senator include in reproductive works the continuation of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek?
– I hope to see that work carried out.
– Will the honorable senator favour a borrowing policy for that purpose?
– I should not be opposed to money being borrowed for that purpose, because, in my opinion, it would be a reproductive work. With regard to the construction of a transcontinental railway to Western Australia, there has been a most flagrant dereliction of duty on the part of the Government, especially on the part of the Treasurer, who informed the other House that the reports so far were altogether favorable, and that only the authority of Parliament was now required in order to carry out the work. The Government have not yet moved in the matter. What do the people in Western Australia require? They want, not a favorable survey, but a railway line, and public opinion in the Eastern States is favorable to its construction, in order to relieve the Western State of its isolated position in the group.
– Queensland built its own railways, and why should not Western Australia’ build its own railways?
– Why did not Queensland expatriate its kanakas, instead of loafing upon the Commonwealth? Why does it not pay its own sugar bounties?
– Because, under the Constitution, the States are not allowed to give bounties.
– I regret exceedingly that the Budget has fallen so much below my expectation, but, in view of the composition of the Ministry and their attitude on many questions of public importance, perhaps that is not surprising. This Budget of shreds and tatters is only a part of their policy in regard to the other public questions which deeply affect the welfare o’f the people. Take, for instance, the proposition on which they expected to command public favour. A time came when they could not finance their offer of a Dreadnought, and therefore- it is not mentioned in the Budget. When they perceived that public opinion was, if not adverse to the offer, not enthusiastic, they cunningly altered their ground, and offered a Dreadnought or an alternative. In that way, they toned down their original proposition, and, so to speak, drew the fangs of any opposition viper which otherwise might have chosen to attack them. What is their policy now with regard to new Protection? At one time, with a remnant of the Ministry, it was new Protection ; but now the alternative is a reference to the States. Compulsory military training is no longer recognised, and the alternative is the training of school children, which is a mere makeshift, in order to save Ministers from the wrath of the electors.
– Did the people ever ratify the proposition for compulsory military training?
– The honorable senator’s present leader was very emphatic on . the subject.
– That is another question.
– If the honorable senator does not follow his leader, he will get into serious trouble. When he was speaking on the question of (military training, his present leader said -
We have to solve the financial problem, and I believe that with a little delay you will see universal service compulsory throughout Australia.
On great issues, such as the offer of a Dreadnought, new Protection, compulsory training, and finance, we find the Ministry resorting to a policy of shuffling and evasion. With an honorable senator who sits on your right hand, sir, I hope that the Government will not resort to the expedient of applying to a loan office for temporary accommodation. I trust that, for the credit of the Commonwealth, it will not be found necessary to raise a loan in order to finance the ordinary services of government.
.- At the request of several honorable senators, the Ministers, with their usual courtesy, arranged for this debate to take place, but I cannot congratulate the Chamber upon the result. This is one of the most lifeless debates to which I have listened. As I understand the position, the powers and privileges of the Senate are embodied in the Constitution, and the maintenance of those powers and privileges will from time to time devolve upon honorable senators themselves. I do not think that we shall enhance either our dignity or our powers by constantly pointing out that they are in question. In respect of all legislation except legislation relating to Money Bills, this Chamber has coordinate powers with the other branch of the Parliament. By carrying on this foolish- debate we are practically claiming that we possess equal powers with another place, even in respect of financial matters.
– In what sense is this debate “ foolish “?
– I had forgotten the thoughtful speech which’ my honorable friend contributed to it. I was thinking more of the speeches of honorable senators opposite in which they repeated statements again and again. I think it would be much better for the Senate to allow the discussion upon the Budget to proceed quietly in another place - to permit the Government to explain their financial proposals there, and the Opposition to criticise them. Then, when the Appropriation Bill reaches this Chamber it will be for us to show whether we can suggest any points which have not been considered. For the two Houses to discuss the same subject simultaneously is, to my mind, an utter waste of time. With ail deference to the opinion of Senator St. Ledger, I say .that no good can result from the practice.
– I hope to make it effective.
– The honorable senator made some very good points in the course of his speech, which Senator W. Russell declared was of such absorbing interest that he must have the bells rung, in order to secure a quorum. I wondered at the time whether Senator W. Russell was going to be made the catspaw of his party, because he had never previously called attention to the sparse attendance of his fellow members, and because I noticed that, although he assigned reasons why the bells should be rung - parenthetically I might remark that it is a bad thing to assign reasons - not one of his colleagues entered the chamber. I listened very attentively to the delightful speech delivered by Senator Lynch, and I wish to congratulate him upon some of the answers which he made to interjections. But in replying to one of my own interjections he absolutely knocked the bottom out of his great tirade in opposition to a borrowing policy. He informed us that the Government had introduced a shocking Budget, that there was nothing in it, and that they did not know how the proposed increased expenditure was to be met. In short, he practically prophesied bankruptcy for us, upon the strength of the Budget. Then he went on to tell us that upon defence alone the Fisher Government proposed to expend nearly £600,000 more than the estimate for last year, whereas the present Government had asked us to increase the defence vote by only £[524,000. As the honorable senator informed us that a land tax would yield about £500,000 per annum, it is obvious that it would not return sufficient to meet the extra outlay upon defence by £100,000. Consequently the Fisher Government would have had to finance all the great undertakings which the honorable senator enumerated with £100,000 less than have the Deakin Government. How Senator Lynch could occupy so much time in placing the Fisher Government in such a humiliating position 1 do not know.
– But a land tax would not exhaust our powers of taxation.
– And the Fisher Government did not propose to exhaust even land taxation, for reasons which are best known to themselves, but probably because they wished to retain place and power. Mr. Fisher’s land tax would have most unjustifiably exempted from taxation every land-owner in the Commonwealth who does not possess land worth more than £5,000 of unimproved value. It would have applied to eleven parts of Tasmania, and would have exempted thirteen parts. Consequently, it would not have yielded onehalf of the revenue which a proper uniform land tax ought to produce. It is clear, therefore, -that Mr. Fisher did not propose that tax for the purpose of raising revenue. His great object was to effect the bursting up of large estates, thus making land-owners part with the feesimple of land which they have honestly purchased and improved. Quite recently Mr. Fisher practically admitted that it was difficult to justify exemptions, upon the ground of justice, by stating that an exemption up to .£5,000 of unimproved value in Commonwealth taxation could be justified because it would be left to the States to tax all land of less than that value. In other words, the landowners of Tasmania were to pay the State land tax of Jd. in the the Commonwealth tax, which, under Mr. Fisher’s scheme, ranged up to 5d. in the £1, as well as a third impost upon lands below £5,000 of unimproved value.
– Quote the actual words of Mr. Fisher to that effect.
– I have already given them.
– Where was the speech made?
– I do not know. But when I read it 1 made up my mind to quote that gentleman’s very words, because they disclosed the insincerity which underlies the whole proposal. We all know perfectly well that a progressive land tax is not proposed for the purpose of raising revenue, and. consequently, I can hurl at the Fisher Government the same charges which Senator Lynch has preferred against the Deakin Government.
– When the honorable senator makes a statement such as he has made, he ought at least to quote Mr. Fisher’s actual words.
– I have already done so. He said that an exemption of £5,000 unimproved value could be justified upon the ground that it would be left to the States to tax lands of less than that value.
– That statement was made by Mr. Fisher in Sydney only a few weeks ago.
– I quite agree with the remarks of Senator Lynch in reference to our defence system. With every respect for the policy which has been enunciated by Ministers, I shall endeavour to carry them a little further forward. I do not believe that the system of universal training should be restricted to our cadets. I have had a Bill relating to our cadet system before the Senate for some time, but I recognised three years ago that the Commonwealth was not then ripe for the introduction of the system of universal training. Rut now I think that it is ripe for it. At any rate, we have been credited all over the world with having initiated a system of universal training, notwithstanding that, so far. it has not even been introduced.
–Does not the honorable senator think that that question is one for submission to the people by means of a referendum ?
– No; it is a matter which should be decided by their representatives in Parliament assembled.
– Without the consent of the people?
– Instead of limiting the training to youths up to eighteen years of age, I would extend it up to twenty-one years of age. There is not the slightest necessity to bring the whole system into operation at once. We know perfectly well that its adoption will cost a considerable sum of money. How far do the Labour party intend to help the Government to raise funds in that connexion, and how far do they intend to deplete those funds by insisting upon the payment to persons undergoing universal training of a high wage? In this connexion it would be well to bear in mind that a lad under twenty-one years of age is a minor. He cannot enter into a contract, and in nine cases out of ten he is not drawing the wages of a journeyman. It would be a fair thing, therefore, to pay him the average wage of which he was in receipt at the time the system of universal training became operative. I hope, that the Labour party will not use proposals in this connexion as a lever with which to increase the wages of mere lads. My honorable friend, Senator Lynch, entered into a long disquisition upon the evils of borrowing, although he declared himself in favour of borrowing for reproductive works. He showed that the Government have not sufficient revenue with which to meet our ordinary expenditure, and I have shown that the same remark is equally applicable to the Fisher Government. That being so, why did the Labour party suggest various amendments in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill, the adoption of which would have involved the Commonwealth in the expenditure of so large an additional amount ? For honorable senators opposite to talk about the Commonwealth resorting to the pawn-shop by proposing to issue Treasury bills, which I undertake to say will never be issued, is the veriest political cant and hypocrisy. Can they justify, as a matter of sound common sense, the raising of 500,000 this year, and of £ 1, 7 50,000 next year, for the payment of old-age pensions, not to mention the £750,000 which will be required to pay invalid pensions? No, they will justify their actions before the electors, and that is what they call responsible government.
– Under such circumstances was the honorable senator justified in advocating the gift of five Dreadnoughts to the Mother Country?
– When I heard that the people of Australia were contemplating the offer of a Dreadnought to the Old Country, I said : “ Here at last is one gleam of true patriotism.” I think I have heard my honorable friend, Senator Pearce, say from this side of the chamber that at last the Labour party, had lived down the charge of want of patriotism. Have they ? I am not going to deny_ it. But if the patriotism of the true Imperialist, the Australian Imperialist, who is sensible of what the Mother Country has done for us, and what we have to thank her for, is represented by 100, then the patriotism of the Labour party is represented by about 20. I was grateful indeed when I heard of the movement for the presentation of a Dreadnought. I recognised at once that three cruisers, costing £[600,000 each, would be a more desirable present than one Dreadnought. But I’ also recognised the movement absolutely as a cry of the Australian conscience, and as an indication that our people recognised at last that they have ‘ not been taking anything like their fair share in the naval defence of the Empire. I recognised that they at last admitted that the payment of a paltry £200,000 a year was not a fair share when, according to population and extent of trade, we should be paying at least £[2,400,000. But the Fisher Government and the Labour party did their best to dam back that patriotic movement. They tried to make a party cry out of it.
– The honorable senator’s friends have made the question a party one.
– They did nothing of the kind. It was the duty of the Fisher Government, when they saw that the best thinking men of Australia, the men who had something to lose, the men who were desirous of putting down their own money as an indication of their patriotism, were in favour of this movement, to give effect to it, and offer a Dreadnought to the Mother Country. At all events, there is no getting out of this fact - that the two large States of Australia did support the offer; and so satisfied were the Premiers of those States, the responsible men, that the course was right that they supported it without the consent of their people and Parliaments, knowing that that consent was sure to be obtained, in spite of Ihe opposition of the Labour party and their unpatriotic spouting. It seems to me that the position of politics and party government in this country is a very sad business. I look forward to the next election with something like dread, because I begin to realize that, whatever lawyers can do, the politicians can “ run rings round them “ in proving that black is white. I am quite sure that my honorable friend, Senator Stewart, will, if necessary, be able to prove that he never believed in a land tax. He will be able to turn his own speeches inside out, and, apparently with the utmost sincerity, show that it was his opponents who advocated that policy. The minds of the public will be in a perfect fog as to the real attitude of public men. I hope that Senator Lynch and Senator Stewart will believe that I am not in favour of stopping the compulsory training of our manhood at the age of eighteen. It would be a great mistake not to carry the training further, and- I hope that a policy with that end in view will be brought into operation as soon as we can provide the money. But I recognise, as every one else who studies the situation must do, that for some years to come there will be a difficulty in providing money for the ordinary services of the States and the Commonwealth. This brings me to mention the Premiers’ Conference, and the agreement that has been arrived at. I must say that in my opinion much insincerity and nonsense have been shown in regard to that matter. After a considerable amount of delicate and careful negotiation, the Premiers of the States and Commonwealth Ministers have arrived at an agreement. A scheme of the kind was never agreed to before. But the moment it is accomplished honorable senators opposite come into this chamber, and begin to sneer at the Conference and its results. I think that Senator Lynch said that the Premiers were idiotic, or something of that sort.
– I never used such a term.
– The honorable senator said something of the kind. I think it is a great mistake not to recognise that the Premiers and Commonwealth Ministers for the first time have placed before the people of this country a workable scheme. It will be our duty to criticise it, and to alter it if we think necessary. We may not agree with all its details. But is that any reason why honorable senators should sneer at the leading statesmen of Australia as they have done?
– I never referred to the Premiers at all.
– Honorable senators opposite have done nothing but try to belittle the representative statesmen of this country.
– They were called a Committee of electors.
– They were called all sorts of things. Objection was made to a brief adjournment of the Senate while the Conference was sitting. We had arguments lasting for hours upon the question. But the adjournment has been justified by results. In my opinion, the settlement which has been arrived at, subject to the will of the people, is a fair and just one. I am, of course, sorry that Tasmania will not get more than 25s. per head of population, but I must admit that when we look at the responsibilities ahead of the Commonwealth, we must see that no more could be paid. It is impossible to reconcile things that are irreconcilable. It is impossible to drag up a State like Tasmania, where the purchasing power of the people is 10s. 6d. per head less than the purchasing power of the other States, to the same level with them. Indeed, the proper way of treating Tasmania, in my view, is to give her a subsidy. But even though I say that, I am mindful of the fact that New South Wales and Victoria are giving up a considerable sum under the per capita system. Why I think that the smaller States - and, if .1 may use the term, the poorer States - ought to be satisfied with the result of the Conference is that the per capita scheme of distribution is formulated on a just basis. We have to look at the matter from both sides, and that is where the delicacy of ihe negotiations conducted by the Premiers and Federal Ministers comes in. To talk about the press not being admitted is so much insincerity and humbug. Is it not enough that we knew what the Conference had done immediately they arrived at a conclusion? Is it not enough that we have the opportunity of debating the matter for weeks if we like, and that the consent of the people has to be obtained? My honorable friends want to know facts before they are brought into existence. There is one danger ahead of the Federal Government against which I’ wish to guard, and that is extravagance. It has been mentioned from time to time that the Commonwealth Government have been guilty of extravagance. Certainly I cannot point to extravagant items on the Estimates, but let me point out that we have been extravagant in reference to the Federal Capital.
– We have not begun that work yet.
– My complaint is that certain members of this Parliament commenced to “barrack.” the Government in reference to the ‘Capital -before we had been here two months; and, although we have devoted a considerable amount of time to the subject, we have never once had before us sufficient information to enable us to consider the subject properly. I object altogether to treating this Federal Capital question as an important subject. Now that we are going before the electors with a proposal for altering the Constitution, why should we not ask them to strike out the 100-mile limit, so that we may vote for Sydney or any other place in the State we prefer?
– I must ask the honorable senator not to debate the Federal Capital question ; although he can, if he choose, argue that the expenditure in that direction has not been justified.
– An enormous amount of money has been wasted already, yet we have never had proper reports, and have never been furnished with exhaustive evidence in favour of the different sites. The amount that we have spent on our picnics, and so forth, has been exceedingly great.
– The honorable senator joined the picnics, I think?
– I did.
– He had a good time?
– I had to go and inspect the sites.
– And lead the singing !
– I want to sing another song now, which is that we are spending too much money in some directions. I hope that the Government will drop the idea of appointing an Inter- State Commission. If we go on at this pace we shall soon be exercising every power mentioned in the Constitution. I read to-day in the Argus a letter from Mr. Rae, of Albury, in which he asked why the High Court should not act instead of the Inter-State ‘Commission.
– The High Court already has more work than it can do.
– Then appoint another Judge.
– It would also be unconstitutional for the High Court to do the work of the Inter-State Commission.
– The honorable senator wants to keep all the money in the profession.
– I cannot see that it would be unconstitutional to carry out the suggestion which I have made.
– Yes, because there is a power of appeal from the InterState Commission to the High Court.
– I cannot think that we want an Inter-State Commission to deal with about half-a-dozen matters every year.
– Was not the honorable senator a. member of the Convention which approved of the Inter-State Commission?
– When the honorable senator voted for that provision, did he not intend it to be carried out?
– At the proper time.
– The Constitution does not say anything about the proper time.
– Let us look at the new Protection proposal. ‘ I understand that the idea of it is that the wages paid or the hours of labour or the conditions of industry in one State may be inferior to those in another State; and it is stated that the State in which wages are low, hours long, and conditions of industry bad, is at an advantage in competing with other States where wages are higher, hours shorter, and conditions better. To cure this alleged evil, it is proposed to establish an Inter-State Commission with, I suppose, a Commissioner at £2,000 a year, two other members at £1,500 a year each, a secretary, an office, and all the rest of it.
– The honorable senator forgets the anomalies in regard to port charges in some of the States, which practically prevent Inter-State Free Trade.
– I am open to hear argument on the subject, because I am not bound to support the proposals of Ministers. I will vote against them whenever r think that they are wrong. I am not bound by any caucus. I was never asked to join the Fusion party. I joined them because there was nothing else to do. I could not join the Labour party; they would not have me. I believe that arrangements could be made whereby anomalies or injustices could be rectified without the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. I think that the members of the Labour party, and some of my honorable friends on this side of the chamber, have grossly exaggerated the conditions which the Commission is said to be required to remedy- They make use of Tasmania because that State has no Wages Boards and no Arbitration Court. They say, therefore, that the latest new Protection proposal of the Government is absolutely necessary. I believe that they, are quite wrong. I do not believe that there is an industry in this Commonwealth having the strength of a baby that is injured by the competition of Tasmania. I believe that the effect of the absence of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts in Tasmania has been grossly exaggerated. There is no unfair competition of any description coming from the 185,0.00 people in that State. As all the other States have Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts , no reason whatever, in my opinion, has been given for the new Protection proposals of the Government. I may inform honorable senators that since the accomplishment of Federation, only one new factory has been opened in Tasmania, whilst seven or eight factories have been closed during that time. It must be apparent to every one that the large factories established in New South Wales, and particularly in Victoria, have competed against the factories of Tasmania, and have made it very difficult for any of them to continue in operation. They are only babies compared with the giant factories of the mainland.
– The honorable senator advocated Federation.
– I am not grumbling at it. It is one of the natural results of Federation. I am merely stating the facts, to show that when honorable senators use the social conditions in Tasmania as an argument for the setting up of a new tribunal to adjust industrial anomalies, there is no foundation for their contention.
– I ask the honorable senator not to continue longer in that strain, as there is no provision proposed in the Budget to give effect to the policy to which he is referring.
– I think there is grave danger that we may enter upon extravagant expenditure. I find it difficult, however, to understand how honorable senators opposite can cheer that remark, when only last night they were engaged in an effort to decrease the revenue. By the action taken at their instance, we have now changed the Patent Department from one by which we were making a little revenue to a non-paying Department. We had evidence of the same disposition when we were considering the Lighthouses Bill today. Every honorable senator opposite desired that the charges imposed on shipping people should amount to no more than is absolutely necessary for the upkeep of the lighthouses taken over by the Commonwealth. They wished to make sure that we should obtain no surplus revenue from this service. Every one knows that the tendency of honorable senators opposite is to give every one but the Commonwealth the benefit of the doubt. They are prepared to be more than generous to others when they should be careful and prudent in conserving the interests of the Commonwealth. It is possible to display too much generosity, and I am very much afraid that we must face the attempt to do so. Senator Lynch could not avoid alluding to the fact that we are not at present proposing to pay invalid pensions, and he blamed the. present Government for that. How any honorable senator opposite can do so is beyond my comprehension, when we all know that at Gympie Mr. Fisher expressed his sorrow and regret that he was unable to issue a proclamation bringing invalid pensions into effect. I do not know how we are to carry on our business in this Parliament if we are to have such absurd contradictions to deal with. Mr. Fisher kept the whole of the Australian world waiting until he got to Gympie. When he got there he said certain things j and honorable senators opposite are now trying to unsay them for him as fast as they can. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Watson attended a Labour Conference at Brisbane, and advocated the adoption of a scheme under which the States would receive almost identically the amount they would receive under the agreement arrived at by the last Premiers’ Conference, and now every member of the Labour party is trying to undo what the Labour Conference at Brisbane did. They are trying to explain away Mr. Fisher’s scheme, and in another place that honorable gentleman did his best to explain away what he had himself said. What I foresee is that the Labour party will make every possible effort to prevent the Government doing anything. If the Government, the Parliament, and the people combine to embody the agreement of the Premiers’ Conference in the Constitution, honorable senators opposite know that it will be a severe blow for them, and they may .be trusted to do their very best to prevent it.
All I can say is that if they do they will not be acting with patriotism or statesmanship. They will be undoing something that it has taken some -years to arrange - a scheme on which we may all fairly congratulate ourselves as being founded on justice to all parties.
– - Senator Dobson commenced, as he usually does, with a flourish of trumpets, and led honorable senators to hope that they were likely to hear something new. He criticised Senator Lynch very severely for having dared to repeat some statements made in this Chamber once or twice before. But the honorable senator has himself spent the last twenty minutes in repeating the same old verbiage that he has used in the Senate for the past six years to my knowledge. During that time the honorable senator has repeated the same statements - I had almost said arguments - at least a hundred times.
– Long before the Premiers’ Conference took place?
– The honorable senator said nothing new about the Premiers’ Conference.
– Is the honorable senator going’ to say anything new ?
– ‘I am going to say one thing that will be new. I say that several members of the Senate have congratulated the Government upon placing before us certain papers, in the discussion of which we might satisfy them by wasting the time of the country. I do notthink that any one else has been bold enough during this debate to make that statement. I desire to emphasize it. Nothing could possibly have suited the Government better than the tabling of the Budget papers in the Senate on this occasion, as they have thereby been saved from the necessity of having to proceed with real legislation. Their whole game, from the time they assumed office up to the present moment, has been to attempt to evade responsibility.
– I hope that they will continue their game. If they do not there will be a row.
– Of course they will ; and Senator St. Ledger will assist them to continue that game. He is with them heart and soul in it. He does not want any business done. In discussing the Budget the other night, the honorable senator made a beautiful, polished speech, with all the power of Edmund Burke, according to the Age, but I think that Edmund Burke must have turned in his grave when that was published. In his usual fashion, the honorable senator attacked honorable senators on this side for their, conflicting statements in connexion .with papers before the Senate, or which are to be submitted to it. Whilst the Government have been congratulated by honorable senators on the course they have followed in bringing forward the Budget for consideration in the Senate, Ministers have sat opposite complacently smiling in the knowledge that the Senate is doing precisely what they desire. They have set the tune, and the Senate is dancing to it admirably.
– Senator Pearce asked that honorable senators should have an opportunity to discuss the Budget, and Senator Henderson now accuses the Government of desiring to waste time.
– Senator Pearce may have thought that the Government meant something.
– If the Government do not mean something, we do.
– The honorable senator may mean a great deal, but I am satisfied that he intends, first of all, to assist the Government in evading responsibility. Speaking the other night about the Premiers’ Conference, of which Senator Dobson has tried to make something, Senator St. Ledger reminded us of the fact that it was merely a caucus meeting, similar to a caucus meeting of the Labour party. He tried at great length to show how infamous is the action of the Labour party in meeting in caucus.
– T said nothing of the kind.
– T shall accept the honorable senator’s denial, and say that he applauded the action of the Labour party in meeting in caucus. I applaud the action of the Premiers of the States and representatives of the Commonwealth Government in meeting in caucus, so long as in their caucus meeting they carry out their own business, and do not attempt in those meetings to carry out the business of the country.
– Would the honorable senator have a Cabinet meeting held in the open?
– The members of the Labour party hold caucus meetings, and they come into the open with what they determine at them. I have a paper here which has been circulated, I presume, by the authority of the Government. It professes to be a report of an agreement entered into between the Premiers of the States and representatives of the Commonwealth Government. The Federal Parliament was adjourned for about ten days in order that the Prime Minister and his colleagues might confer with the State Premiers. When we remember that the Premiers sat, according to the press, for many, hours on each day, and that we have had presented to us a report which covers about six pages, and four of which contain 200 or 300 lines of type, mostly figures - which, I suppose, have been copied from the recent Budget - surely no man with common sense will tell us that the Premiers have come out into the open and said - “ Here, that is what we have done.”
– It has done as much as the Labour party has ever done.
– No matter what conclusion may have been come to, the Labour party has never hesitated to come out honestly- into the open, and fight as best it could to secure the adoption of its policy.
– Honest fighting is going back upon the Brisbane Conference ?
– - The honorable senator can see the minutes of the Brisbane Conference, but he cannot see the minutes of the Premiers’ Conference.
– This report of the Premiers’ Conference is a mere blind. The real action of the Premiers and the Prime Minister will not be discovered until this session .is closed.
– No; that is to be one of the fighting lines.
– If the honorable senator will try to restrain his impetuosity, I shall tell him what fighting line it represents.
– I think it represents the real fighting line.
– The Fusion Government have been in a very tight corner. It was severe straits which brought about their existence.
– No; it was the opposition of the Labour party.
– It was severe straits which brought the Fusion Ministry into existence.
– No ; the common enemy brought us into existence.
– I am very glad to hear that interjection, because the honorable senator acknowledges his enmity to the common cause.
– No enmity. I like the honorable senator very much personally. I have great respect for Senators Pearce and Guthrie.
– I point out to Senator Henderson that the debate on the Budget papers is confined to the financial policy of the Government, and does not extend to their formation, or the reasons for their existence. I ask him to try to confine his remarks as closely as possible to the question before the Chair, as he has taken a good deal of latitude.
– I have no desire, sir, to contravene your ruling. I was pursuing a course which had been taken by previous speakers, and pointing out my objection to the position taken up by the State Premiers. I think I am quite justified in expressing my conviction that they conferred in secret for the purpose of formulating a policy which would enable the Fusion Government towork side by side with them at the coming election.
– The honorable senator does not doubt that if there had been a Labour Premier amongst them, they would have held the Conference in just the same way..
– I do not think that there is a possibility of a Labour Premier being in a Conference of that character.
– A Labour Premier went to the Hobart Conference.
– I do not think that a Labour Premier would enter upon the consideration of a national question with the doors of the Conference room closed against the public.
– At Hobart it was done.
– Labour men would rather have legislation to enable them to put the Premiers into gaol, I suppose?
– I do not think that Labour men would incur the expenditure which the keeping of some Premiers in gaol would entail upon the country, so that my honorable friend can rest contented on that score. On a previous occasion, it was said by Senator St. Ledger that the members of the Labour party were really raising an opposition to the very programme which they had laid down at Brisbane. As regards the -per capita method of distributing the revenue, I have no fault to find with the decision of the Premiers’
Conference. An annual payment of 25s. per head of the population may be too little or too much, or just enough. What I repudiate is the statement made by Senator St. Ledger, and repeated by other honorable senators, that that was precisely the scheme adopted by the Labour party at Brisbane. On that occasion, the Labour party certainly laid down a programme, and that programme admittedly involveda principle. I do not suppose that the Labour party will ever attempt to depart very far from a principle which has been so evolved, but this attempt of the Fusion Government to bind the Commonwealth down for the remainder of its existence to an annual payment of 25s. per head to the States is directly opposed to any resolution come to by the Labour party. It is a democratic party to-day, as it ever has been.
– Was the Brisbane arrangement to be for only a period?
– The arrangements of the Brisbane Conference, like those of every Labour Congress, were tentative arrangements, to extend for a given period.
– For what period?
– For a period of three years.
– Then when Mr. Hughes affirmed the other day that the Brisbane arrangement was to last for. all time, he was wrong ?
– I am not here to answer for anything which Mr. Hughes may have done or said. I am simply here to show that whatever conclusions the Labour party came to at its Conference cover a period of three years.
– And that would apply, I suppose, to the land tax exemption? That would extend for only three years, too?
– The expiration of the three years may be seized as an opportunity by the people who represent labour in Australia to alter any. given principle which may have been laid down. They look at what they judge to be the requirements for the time being, but you I>eople do not.
– Who are ‘ 1 you people “ ?
– I refer to the Fusion people.
– The honorable senator should address the Chair.
– As I desire to deal with one or two matters which have been touched upon, I shall leave the financial agreement out of consideration for the time being. Let me call attention to the fact that, some time ago, a Government policy was outlined. When we contrast the Government policy which was then mapped out with the provision that is made in the papers which have been presented to Parliament for its consideration, we begin “to wonder whether the Government have purposely set out to confuse members of Parliament and the public, or whether they really do not know what policy they intend to pursue in the near future, or even in the distant future. It will be remembered that when the Government came into office, they stipulated for certain national requirements being met. One of these, of course, was defence. I do not propose to debate in detail that question. So far as the Government endeavour to place our defences on a sound footing, and to make those defences useful, and always compatible with our circumstances, I, for one, shall not find any fault. But I go quite as far as Senator Dobson went in his speech when I say that any proposals which the Government may bring forward to secure my support will have to include a scheme for compulsory training beyond the age of eighteen years. I have no thought of spending money upon the training of a boy for three or four years unless some practical utility to the country is to result from that expenditure. Therefore, whatever defence policy the Government may adopt will have to meet that objection in order to insure my support. As I have a few more remarks to make, and the usual hour of adjourning has been reached, I ask leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Government certain circumstances in relation to an embargo .which has been placed upon the importation of potatoes from Tasmania into Victoria and New South Wales. I do not want to enter into the merits of that embargo. It has been said that there is no possibility of introducing any new disease into Victoria or New South Wales, but of that I am not at all certain.
It has been authoritatively stated that the very disease against which Victoria and New South Wales are seeking to protect themselves ,has existed in the metropolitan area of one of those States for a considerable time, and that very little notice has been taken of it. However, that is not the point. What I wish, to bring under the notice of the Government is that representations upon this subject have already been made to the State Governments in question. In the case of Victoria very strong and earnest representations have been made by representatives of Tasmania, notably by a member of the Legislative Council of that State - I refer to Mr. Nicholls - who represents perhaps the most famous potatogrowing district in the Commonwealth. He h::s brought his personal influence to bear with a view to preventing a continuance of the embargo which has been placed upon the. importation of Tasmanian potatoes, but without success.
– How is it that the matter does not come within the scope of our Quarantine Act?
– I am not in the position to discuss that matter at the present time. I wish to ask the Government whether they will use all their energies in’ the direction of securing the preservation of Inter-State Free Trade and of preventing any possible abuse of the existing police powers of the States?
– How do the States act?
– Under the police powers which are inherent in them. It is competent for any State to take whatever action it may deem necessary to prevent either injury to, or destruction of, its crops, productions, or inhabitants, or, indeed, any of its other assets without any reference to the provisions of our Constitution Act. I ask the Government whether they will bend all their energies to the preservation of Inter-State Free Trade, and whether they will use their best endeavours to induce the two large States to which I have alluded to relax the regulations which at present prevent the admission into them, of one of the staple products of Tasmania.
[4.4]. - The matter which has been brought forward by my honorable friend is one to which I have had occasion to give considerable attention, at the instance, not only of himself, but of Senators Cameron and Macfarlane, and other Tasmanian senators, and also by
Mr. Atkinson and other members in the’ House of Representatives. Representations in this connexion have also been made by Western Australia. But the Constitutional position is that there is no doubt that the States have the power of inspection. They have a right to protect themselves against the introduction of disease. Section 112 of the Constitution provides -
After uniform duties of Customs have been imposed a State moy levy on imports or exports, or on goods passing into or out of the State, such charges as may be necessary for executing the inspection laws of the State ; but the net produce of all charges so levied shall be for the use of the Commonwealth; and any such inspection laws may be annulled by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
It is clear, therefore, that the States have reserved to them the right of inspection,, and so long as they exercise that right in a bona fide fashion - in other words, so long as their sole object is to protect themselves from the- introduction of disease - the Commonwealth has no power to interfere. Senator Pearce and others have inquired, “ What about the exercise of our powers under the Quarantine Act?” But I would point out that in that connexion we have no greater powers. The Quarantine Act provides that the- Commonwealth shall take charge of all oversea quarantine matters in reference to human beings, animals, and plants, but Inter-State trade in regard to animals and plants is reserved to the States themselves, subject to a certain reserve power which is vested in the Commonwealth. Under section 13 its reserve power may be exercised to -
But this is an entirely different matter. Under the provisions which I have quoted the Commonwealth possesses certain powers if the States do not discharge their duties in a bona fide manner. But we have no power to prevent them prohibiting,’ by proclama tion or otherwise, the importation of diseased animals or plants from other States. That is the Constitutional position. Speaking broadly, therefore, the Commonwealth is practically powerless. Upon this matter representations have been made to me, amongst others, by Mr. Nicholls, of Tasmania. He pointed out the hardship under which that State is at present suffering. But the whole question was the subject, of discussion and conference by the agricultural commissioners, who arrived at certain resolutions with which it is not necessary for me to deal. The Prime Minister, having regard to the representations which had been made to him, interviewed Mr. Murray, the Premier of Victoria, and placed the whole matter before him. He showed the hardship under which Tasmania is labouring, and asked Mr. Murray if he could not see his way under certain stringent conditions to relax the prohibition which has been issued in Victoria. . After taking time to consider the matter, I understand, that Mr. Murray has replied that he fears 110 relaxation of that prohibition can be made. I am sorry thatit is so. We have done all that we can to assist the States to come to a better understanding upon this subject.
– This morning I asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council why the correspondence which has been tabled in reference to the proposed formation of an Imperial General Staff is incomplete. He promised to make inquiries into the matter, and to let me know why a letter which was written by the late Government is not included in that correspondence.
– In reference to the prohibition imposed upon the importation of potatoes from Tasmania, I wish to say that the people of New South Wales deeply’ regret the trouble which has arisen. It has resulted in a great addition to the cost of living there, and any proposal which will permit the authorities of New South Wales to safely terminate the existing condition of affairs will be heartily welcomed.
– In Western Australia potatoes are £20 a ton.
– In reference to the matter mentioned by Senator Pearce earlier in the day and again a few moments ago, I wish to say that the reason why the paper to which he alluded is not included in the correspondence tabled, is -that it is not necessary for the Imperial authorities to inform us what has transpired between them and the authorities in any other portion of the British Dominions. I may add that the correspondence which has been tabled only brings the matter up to the 13th February last, and the letter to which the honorable senator has referred was written subsequently. It is shortly intended to bring the file uptodate by laying on the table of: the Senate the correspondence which has passed ‘ between the 13th February and the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090827_senate_3_51/>.