3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., andread prayers.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council in a position to-day to inform the Senate when the report of the Postal Commission is likely to be presented ?
– The Chairman of the Postal Commission advises that it expects to close the taking of evidence within about three weeks. Afterwards the preparation of the report will be proceeded with, but there is no possibility of presenting the report during this session.
– In pursuance of leave granted on 9th July, I beg to bring in a Bill to amend the Constitution so that the Parliament may be empowered to legislate for the adjustment of industrial conditions in the various States and to move -
That thisB ill be now read a first time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– It would be rather difficult for me to hazard an opinion as to the time that may be occupied by the other House in disposing of the measure. At the same time,I shall place before the Prime Minister the inquiry of the honorable and learned senator.
– I am obliged to my honorable friend. I hope that he will also kindly ask the Prime Minister whether he can give an assurance in connexion with the desirability of affording time to have the measure dealt with in the other Chamber.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to a paragraph appearing in the
Argus of the 29th September as from its London correspondent -
Has Dr. Walter Maxwell been appointed “special technical adviser to the Commonwealth of Australia?”
If so, by whom, and at what salary or allowance, or under what understanding?
Is he making inquiries on behalf of the
Commonwealth in regard to sugar matters in the United States or elsewhere?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Minister, and the understanding is that no fees are to be paid except for services rendered at the request of the Government. 3 and 4. Dr. Maxwell is not at present acting at the request of the Government.
asked the Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has the attention of the Government been directed to a letter, appearing- in the Argus of 28th September, signed by J. Denistoun Wood, and which contains the following paragraph : - “ I would call your attention to the fact that, by the 24th section,’ the amount of a pension ‘ is to be at such rate as, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the commissioner or deputy commissioner …. deems- reasonable and sufficient.’ It appears to me that your first answer (if I construe it correctly) lays down the principle that all that a commissioner has to do is to ascertain whether any of the deductions expressly mentioned in the Act have to be made, and that if none of them have to be made, then he is bound to grant the ‘ full pension,’ whereas the section, as I contend, . provides that he has in every case a discretion as to the amount to be granted….. If the Act contemplates …. that the amount may be less than £26 per annum (irrespective of any question of the statutory deductions), what are ‘ the circumstances ‘ to which ‘ regard ‘ should be had? Surely, one of them is whether two persons claiming pensions are living separately or are living together as husband and wife. It cannot be denied that a married couple living together can live upon a smaller annual sum than two persons living separately from each other.”
Do the Government indorse this interpretation of the Old-age Pensions Act?
If not, will Mr. Denistoun Wood and other magistrates be instructed accordingly?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Under the New South Wales Pension Act, husband and wife were allowed 7s. 6d. each per week if living together, and 10s. each per week if living apart.
In Victoria and Queensland no such distinction was made, either in the Acts or in the Administration.
The Commonwealth Act in this respect followed not the New South Wales Act, but the Victorian and Queensland Acts.
Consequently, in administering the Commonwealth Act, pensions of married couples have not been decreased.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– He is boss of the show.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Referring to the cablegram published on Saturday, in which the Premier of Capetown said that the action of Australia in regard to preference on dynamite was unfriendly and outrageous to South Africa, and Sir Robert Best’s statement to the press that the matter had been the subject of correspondence, will the Government lay the correspondence on the table forthwith?
– I can hardly Jay the file of papers on the table of the Senate, but I shall make them available to my honorable friend.
– I am satisfied with that.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to an Australian Bureau of Agriculture.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.40]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I take it that as this measure deals with a matter which’ has been more or less present in our minds for some time, it will not be necessary for me to speak at any great length in recommending it to the consideration of honorable senators. The Bill, is one of very few clauses, and, perhaps, a summary of them might with advantage be given. Clause 2 sanctions the appointment of a High Commissioner. Clause 3 covers the term of the appointment, and contains a proviso for re-appointment and a sub-clause dealing with the possibility of removing from the office a gentleman who, for the reasons set out in the Bill, may be regarded as incapable of further continuing in it. Clause 4, in general terms, deals with the functions which will devolve upon the High Commissioner upon his appointment. It will be noted that power is taken -to add to the functions stated in the clause should occasion require it. Once the office is established there may, from time to lime, arise fresh functions which it would be necessary to intrust to the High Commissioner. This clause has, therefore, been drafted in such a- way that the greatest freedom possible is given to the Government to impose upon the High Commissioner the performance of all duties which can advantageously be carried out by such an officer. Clause 5 provides that the High ‘Commissioner shall, if requested by the State Governments, be at liberty to act for them in matters of State concern.
– For one or for all. Of course, the matter will be entirely within the discretion of the State Governments, but it has been thought possible that there may be occasions on which a State Government may seek the services of the High Commissioner, and in such cases under this clause legislative sanction could be given to the High Commissioner acting, if so requested, on behalf of the Government of a State. Clause 6 deals with the salary to be attached to the office, which is set down at an amount which I venture to think honorable senators will not regard as excessive. It is proposed that the High Commissioner shall be paid a salary of .£3,000. with an allowance of £2,000 per annum for the expenses of an official residence. Clause 7 imposes restrictions against the occupant of the office holding positions in companies and similar institutions. Clauses 8 and 9 cover the appointment, both from Australia and by the High . Commissioner himself, of officers who may be required to enable him to carry out the duties of the office. The Bill I submit is a natural and logical outcome of Federation. Under our Constitution all external affairs are under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth authorities. When I say external affairs, honorable senators will naturally think at once of the development of trade relations and matters which might arise in connexion’ with shipping. All such matters come within the jurisdiction of the Government of the Commonwealth. Modern conditions are such that there is no nation of any standing or with any claim to progressive aspirations, that has not its representatives resident in all the principal countries with which it has. diplomatic or business relationships, and especially in those countries with which its business relationships are most extensive. That being the case, it will be agreed that the representation of Australia in Great Britain is particularly necessary. The two countries are parts of the one Empire, their Governments are in frequent intercourse, there is a natural, and lately an increasing, tendency on. the part of the people of the one country to seek to understand those of the other, and there is, what, perhaps, is more pleasing, an obvious striving by the people of each not to misunderstand the other. All these considerations render it extremely desirable that we .should have in London some authoritative mouth-piece through which, as occasion requires, Australia may speak where Australian interests are involved. Amongst the reasons which, perhaps, I might advance for the creation of this office is the fact that the trade between Australia and Great Britain is now in the neighbourhood of £60,000,000 per annum. It is obvious that a very slight thing, even a temporary prejudice, might tend to deflect a portion of that trade from its present channel. It has happened before, and might happen again, that, as the result of a little misunderstanding as to the tendency of some of our legislation, a false prejudice might be created in Great Britain. A High Commissioner on the spot, closely in touch with the aspirations, ideals, and aims of Australasia, as he no doubt would be, would be in a position to set at rest any misapprehension which, might ame in Great Britain due to the imperfect cable messages which convey from the one country to the other news of what is taking place in each. Apart from trade matters, there is one other consideration which should undoubtedly have an important bearing on this appointment. Whatever immigration policy may be decided upon in the future, I am sure we are all agreed in the hope that the major portion of the immigrants arriving in Australia will come from Great Britain, from the countries to which, directly or indirectly, we owe our birth. That being so, the supervision of our immigration policy, whether it be a modest or an expansive one, must be intrusted to some one at Home representative of the Commonwealth, and there could be no better, and should, I think, be no other, official intrusted with it than the High Commissioner.
– Could not the six Agents-General do that work?
– I should like to direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that while the State AgentsGeneral are, no doubt, working well and loyally for their States, they are, to some extent, in conflict one with the other. Apart from what they may be able to do in the matter of immigration - and I wish in no sense to discredit their efforts - it is clear that there is no one at present at Home who is in a position to speak for Australia as a whole. I shall refer a little later to a- possible modification of the duties of the present Agents-General of the States should the office of High Commissioner be created.
– Can the honorable senator give any evidence of conflict between the State Agents- General in connexion with immigration?
– I should prefer to put it in this way : I think that some literature has been quoted in this House in which it has been shown that statements circulated by the Governments of one State have not been altogether complimentary to the other States. A resident of Great Britain, reading this somewhat contradictory literature, might be disposed to say, “ These people cannot agree amongst themselves as to what they have to offer,” and might, therefore, discount all statements coming from Australia. I do not wish to be drawn into anything which” might appear to be a reflection upon the gentlemen who at present discharge the duties of State Agents-General.
– Because- six cannot agree we are going to add! a: seventh ?
– No-. We- are going to establish In London an officer who will, be able to do work which no one of the six representatives of the States can do.
– And we have no control over the lands.
– Senator Dobson is limiting his consideration of the matter to the question of immigration. I have said that, no matter what immigration policy is proposed, it must have an important bearing upon the appointment of a High Commissioner. The duties of the High Commissioner, apart from those connected with immigration, would, of course, be largelydiplomatic, if one may use that word to describe communications from a country like Australia. In this connexion, I propose to quote a sentence from a communication addressed by Mr. Justice Hodges some years ago to the then Federal Government. His Honour, who, I understand, was in London at the time, was invited by the Barton Government to forward them a communication outlining the duties which are performed by the High Commissioner for Canada. As a result, he sent out a veryinteresting document from which I should like to quote a few extracts. The first of these reads -
While the Governor-General’ is the channel of communication between the Governments of Britain and Australia, it appears that, there may be a large amount of work that may be called diplomatique that the- High Commissioner would be required’ to attend to. It would be his duty to watch all proposed legislation, to see if such legislation might affect Australian interests, and, if so, to communicate at once both with the Colonial Office and the Australian Government, and to take such steps-, and to make such representations, as might he necessary to delay the passing of such Acts- until the Government of Australia, had been consulted and: its interests safeguarded. And in cases where- other Colonial interests were also liable to be affected, to make common cause with the representatives of such Colonies.
I would draw Senator Dobson’s attention to the very important range of duties covered by the portion of the report which I have just read. It must be obvious to all that no State representative could in any way claim a hearing in the name of Australia. Yet it might easily happen that a treaty about to be entered into by the Mother Country, and which had almost been concluded, might materially prejudice the interests of the Commonwealth. In such circumstances, it would be the duty of the High Commissioner to make representationsin the way that Mr. Justice Hodges has outlined. That duty could not be discharged by our present representative, Captain Collins, or by the representative of any State-
– What about the cable?
– My honorable friend does not suggest that a cable message regarding any matter that he wished to bring under my notice would be half as effectiveas would be a personal visit from him. The cable is a very useful adjunct, but- it does not enable us to make nearly so effective representations as we should be able to make through the medium of a High Commissioner. Whilst it is possible to send Home general directions by cable, we cannot always fill in the necessary details, and we cannot be prepared to meet the reply which may be forthcoming.. Therefore, a representative upon the ‘spot has all the advantage over one who* has to communicate his wishes from a distance per medium of the cable. Mr. Justice Hodges went on’ to say -
Further from keeping in close touch with Australia, its conditions, progress, and the state of thought there, he should be of great assistance in supporting the views of the Government as expressed by cable and mail in” such matters as lately arose in connexion with the Bill restricting immigration into Australia, and though at first sight it might seem as if the quantity of such communications could not be large, the Secretary to the High Commissioner for Canada says : - “ The Governor-General is the channel through which the views of the Imperial Government are made known to his Ministers, and vice versa, but there are many subjects under discussion from time to time, in connexion with which personal action is. necessary, and it is in regard to such questions that the High Commissioner represents the Dominion Government. Not only are frequent interviews with the Secretary of State and the heads of other Departments of the Imperial Government necessary, but the correspondence with Downing-street and Ottawa is voluminous and continuous.”
This report deals with what has been done in the matter of the representation of Canada in London. The conditions which obtain in that country are so similar to our own that the duties of its High Commissioner indicate those which we may reasonably expect to fall upon the Commonwealth representative.
– Except that we are further from the heart of the Empire than is Canada.
– That circumstance adds very much to the necessity which exists for the Commonwealth having a representative there. Canada is only a few days steam from Great Britain, and is in very much closer touch with it .by means of the cable than is Australia.
– But the VicePresident of the Executive Council has already said that the cable is of no use.
– I did not say that. I am perfectly satisfied to leave it to Senator Macfarlane’s great business capacity to determine whether he would not prefer to deal face to face with a principal to dealing with him by cable.
– Undoubtedly .
– That condition applies just as much to diplomatic matters as it does to business considerations. It is quite obvious that if at any future time the State debts are transferred to the Federation the High Commissioner will have very important duties to discharge.
– Is it possible that those debts may be transferred to the Commonwealth without another Conference being first held?
– All things are possible when a good sound stable Government are in office. There is another way in which the High Commissioner would be able to act for Australia very much better than can several Agents-General - I refer to the matter of disseminating information concerning the Commonwealth. Each State representative is clearly under an obligation only to supply information pertaining to his own State. I do not say for a moment that he wishes to suppress information regarding Australia. But to disseminate it is certainly not his business. His business is to represent in as favorable a light as possible the conditions which obtain in his own State.
– Good old competition.
– I have no objection to competition, and. so far as the States are concerned, that competition may continue even after the High Commissioner has been appointed. But whatever competition may exist between State and State, we certainly ought to have in London a representative empowered to speak for the whole of Australia. I should like to quote still another extract from the report of Mr. Justice Hodges, with a view to showing what the Canadian office is doing in the matter of disseminating information in regard to the Dominion-
The Canadian Office does a large amount of work in what I may call its Intelligence Department. It has a library well furnished with books, pamphlets, &c, on Canadian matters; and the librarian himself is an index as to where information on any subject connected with Canadian interests can be obtained. Samples are kept of the various Canadian products, details of the productive capacity of the land, in short, every species of information that may be useful to intending and desirable immigrants, to manufacturers, to capitalists, and to mining investors. It seems to me that such a Department might also usefully be on the watch for probable markets for Australian products, seas to keep Australia informed where purchasers might be found, and possibly purchasers informed as to where the materials they are in need of can be purchased.
But, in addition to having a High Commissioner in London, Canada has agents in many provincial towns in England, whose business it is to advance the trade of the Dominion. To some extent, they are under the supervision of the High Commissioner, but act quite independently of him.
– South Australia has a General Agent in London, not an Agent-General.
– Canada has thought it worth while to have representatives in Great Britain, whose duty it is to protect and further her interests. I am inclined to think that it is almost as necessary for nations to have representatives in the field, continually pushing her wares, as it is for private firms to have special representatives.
– Is there not a possibility that we may interfere with State Rights ?
– I do not think so. Whatever the possibility of conflict may be as between the representative of one State and that of another, it would be impossible for a High Commissioner, who would devote his energies to furthering the interests of Australia, to do other than further the” interests of the States. There is just one other matter to which I desire to direct attention, and here I can look for the sympathetic support of Senator Dobson - 1 refer to the effect which the appointment of a High Commissioner may have upon the present States agencies in London. That, of course, is a matter entirely for the Governments of the several States who have the appointment of these officers, and can continue them if they wish.
– Have the Governments of the States been consulted ?
– There is no necessity to consult them on a matter which is entirely their own concern. I am not pretending that it is a matter of no concern to any one except the States. But time may show - and I believe that it will show - that there are many duties now being carried out by the representatives of the States in London, which will ultimately gravitate to the High Commissioner.
– Leaving the representatives of the States to be simply business agents.
– Yes. But while the Bill makes provision for the High Commissioner acting for the States if they so desire, it in no sense attempts - it would be futile for us to do so - to make any suggestion to those States as to what they should do. I should like to quote here a summary of a report received from the late Premier of New South Wales, Sir Joseph Carruthers, who expresses the view which I have just enunciated, that if the High Commissioner is appointed, as his powers develop, there will be a tendency on the part of the States to transfer to him many of the functions now discharged by the Agents-General. This letter is certainly four years old; but further correspondence indicates that the idea contained in it has also been entertained by the Premiers of other States -
In a letter dated 14th September, 1904, the Premier of New South Wales submitted for consideration that the time had arrived when a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth should be appointed, the duties of the position to include those now performed by the AgentsGeneral on behalf of the several States; that in association with the office of High Commissioner, or, if thought advisable, independently thereof, a Commercial Agency for Australia might also be established, with the object of representing the interests of all the States of the Commonwealth in Great Britain and Europe. If these suggestions were adopted, he thought that a considerable amount of saving on present expenditure, must result, and that the higher and better representation of Australian interests would be secured. New South Wales maintained in London an Inspecting Engineer (Mr. C. W. Darley), whose services were found of great value in the matter of inspection of material for railways and other public works, and advising in engineering matters of interest to the State of New South Wales, and the experience gained in that respect induced the Premier to suggest that it would be of mutual advantage if such an officer were appointed to act for the whole Commonwealth.
– Was such an officer appointed ?
– Not that I am aware of.
– Not an officer to act for all the States.
– No; but I remember that two or three States did join together and appoint one officer.
– I believe that officer was appointed merely to supervise the purchase of railway material.
-I think that he had to do with purchasing railway material and other things ; but other States continued to act independently. Of. course, under the Bill, the option will still be with them to join together in carrying out some such suggestion as that made by Sir Joseph Carruthers, leaving other functions to be discharged by the High Commissioner. I have read the summary of the letter, because it seems to me to indicate the possibility of economies being effected later on.
– That is the only argument which has appealed to me so far. Can the Minister say that there is any tendency on the part of the States to transfer duties to the High Commissioner if we appoint one?
– I do not desire to weary the House by quotations ; but I am pleased to say that the Government have had communications from other Premiers to the same effect.
– What did the Agents-General themselves say in this matter?
– - A great man) things ; but I put it to my honorable friend that no man likes to be his own executioner. To that extent, we may assume that these gentlemen, while writing with a good deal of knowledge as to the duties of their positions, may have been more car less unconsciously biased by the fact that they were in possession of the offices they held.
– Can the Minister quote any evidence that the Premiers of the States have .said that the work of their Agents-General will be transferred to the High Commissioner, so as to get rid of their highly-paid officers in future?
– I have before’ me a summary of a communication from the Premier of Western Australia which I will read by way of reply to my honorable friend.
If all the States agreed the Commonwealth High Commissioner could be made to take the place of the various State Offices. Thought, however, that the suggestion was premature, and would not be entertained until the High Commissioner had been in office for a year or two. Was confident the Government of Western Australia would be prepared to fall into line with any action, but failing united action, did not see “that much, if anything, could be done.
That indicates that there are some who hold the idea that upon the establishment of the High Commissioner’s office, there will be a tendency for certain functions at present discharged by half-a-dozen officers to gravitate into the hands of one. I am not quite sure that I quite grasp the objections which my honorable friend, Senator Dobson, entertains.
– I do not want this country to be saddled with seven expensive offices in London representing the Commonwealth.
– This Bill only provides for one.
– The Government are proposing to add one to six that now exist.
– No; because the six do not represent the Commonwealth. They represent the States.
– The States are the Commonwealth,
– Not one of the Agents-General can speak authoritatively for the Commonwealth.
– The Government could authorize one of the Agents-General to speak for the Commonwealth.
– What my honorable friend means is simply that instead of sending some one to London, we should appoint a person who is there already. Surely that is a distinction without a difference. If we are to appoint a person who is already in London, and call him our High Commissioner, we shall have to give him the status and emoluments of a High Commissioner..
– If the appointment of a High Commisioner is so necessary, can the Government get the States to knock on the head their Agents-General?
– I would not ask them to do so.
– Then this proposal is gross extravagance.
– The AgentsGeneral will be more and more concerned as time- goes on with the business interests of their States. So far as my own State is concerned, instead of advocating the withdrawal of its representative from London, I should be inclined to urge strongly the appointment of various representatives in the great centres of England.
– Commercial men?
– I would have agents appointed to represent our business interests in England. It is quite clear, however, that even if we do not appoint a High Commissioner, the diplomatic functions of the Agents- General have already to a great extent disappeared. They have been cut down by the very creation of the Commonwealth itself.
– Can the honorable senator tell us who is to be appointed ? That is what we want to know.
– I wish I could. It would be more easy for me to tell my honorable friend who is not going to be appointed. I wish to lay another argument before the Senate to show the functions connected with the Government itself which will be carried out by the High Commissioner. I have before me a memorandum supplied to the Department dealing with the office established in London in 1906. lt reads -
The Commonwealth office in London was established in 1906. The necessity for some agency, apart from the Agent-General’s offices which had been previously utilized for the Commonwealth business in England, was badly felt in the Defence Department in connexion with which the following work has to be undertaken in England. Supervision of orders for war material, and of their prompt and proper execution; the shipment of orders; collecting information on defence matters, &c. It had been found that stores were frequently wrongly supplied, that old patterns were sent instead of new, that orders were not executed with despatch, that the most economical methods were not employed, and that delay occurred in the forwarding of - shipping documents, &c. Since the opening of the office these defects have been remedied, and the requirements of the Department are now met to their entire satisfaction.
The Treasury concur in the recommendation for the establishment of the office in consequence of the difficulties experienced in regard to the payment of large sums which had hitherto been made through the various Agents- General. The amount of money passing through Captain- Collins’ hand is from £250,000 to £300,000 per annum, and the improved methods which have been instituted since the establishment of the London office have led to substantial economies.
The work performed for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is. not of the same extent as that for the defence, inasmuch as the Postmaster-General’s Department makes all its contracts with the conditions that the goods supplied, shall be subject to inspection in Australia, but to that Department the existence of the London office has been a great convenience. There copies of tenders and specifications may be obtained and deposits paid. Supplies for which no tenders are called are obtained through this agency, and especially in connexion with the arrangements consequent on the, mail contract, including those for the inspection of plans and supervision of. construction of the ships, the existence of the office has been a material- convenience..
In this Department extensive use has been made of the London office. A number of minor matters of business -with the Imperial Government have been- transacted by its means. All British advertising, and especially the distribution of a large number of publications forwarded from Australia are carried out in the office. Endeavours have been made to make it as. far as possible an information bureau with regard to Australia, and it is known that very many inquiries on behalf of intending investors,’ immigrants, and others have been made. All information regarding the Tariff and its administration is there available for the British merchant.
The cost of the present office in London is in the neighbourhood of . £5,000 per annum; and, from an examination of the papers, I venture to say that it is not possible to reduce that amount and at the same time to maintain any degree of efficiency in the office. Senator Dobson, therefore, will see that it is not proposed to create an entirely new expenditure. It will be an enlarged “one, I ‘admit. At the same time, we are already under the necessity of keeping an office of some kind.
– What will the other office cost - £15,000 or , £20,000 a year?
– I have no estimate by me. The present office costs £5,000 a year, and it is proposed to give the: Commissioner ‘a salary of £3,000, and an allowance of £2,000 for an official residence, making a total of , £10,000. As regards that elastic item known as “contingencies,’’ every honorable senator is at liberty to draw on his own imagination.
– It will cost us £10,000 extra, I suppose.
– It probably will. I ask honorable senators to indorse the Bill. If there. is any little hesitancy about accepting it, as there appears to be in the mind of Senator Dobson, may I remind them that time is travelling with, some rapidity ? In matters of defence- and other matters which spring out of them, we see nearly every day how necessary it is for Australia to be on the alert, and- to have a representative whose chief object would be the maintenance of a direct channel of thought, between” Australia and the Old Country ; who would, at many important functions, be able to take the’ opportunity of conveying Australian truths to English ears ; who, in- matters of trade and commerce, might, by securing a little delay, prevent an evil which it would not be possible to undo later. All these are advantages which I venture to say will far outweigh to Australia the additional cost involved in the creation of this office.
– Can the honorable senator tell- us anything about the proposal to have one office, and all the commercial agents housed therein; has that fallen through? Victoria has its own office now. .
– It has. I cannot say that the proposal to have one office has fallen through, but for the present it is in abeyance. It occurred to Ministers that it insight be well to ask the sanction of Parliament to the creation of this office. No overtures have been made with regard to suitable sites, but if we create a High Commissioner within a reasonable time, that is a matter which he will be better able to deal with on the spot than we could hope, to do- by means of cablegrams.
– The honorable senator did not mention the name of the man whom the Government intend to send Home.
– My honorable friend is- quite right. I am very glad to see that he has followed me with marked attention. He will see that this is- merely a Bill to. authorize the appointment of a- High Commissioner.
– That was an oversight, I suppose?
– - No; we do not make any oversights. I have no doubt that, in due course, the very natural and, I think, laudable curiosity of my honorable friends on that point will be gratified.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th September, vide page 3870) :
Postponed clause 5 -
Section fifty-six of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “ (2.) Where a Division is not divided into Subdivisions, any person who would be qualified to vote if his name were upon a Roll, and who lives in the Division, and has so lived foi a’ period of one month, may claim to have his name placed on any one Polling-place Roll for the Division.
– I move -
That the words “ and has so lived for a period of one month,” lines 7 and 8, be left out.
The Committee has already decided that a transfer or a change from subdivision to subdivision of an electorate cannot take place until the claimant has lived in the new subdivision for a month. But this proposed new section deals with an original claim for a vote, and I do not see why a claimant should be required to live in the subdivision for a month before he can make’ a claim for a vote. The Franchise -Act provides that six months in the Commonwealth shall qualify an adult for a vote. Hitherto only that residence in the Commonwealth has been required, and if a man had been in a subdivision for only two weeks, but, of course, in the Commonwealth for six months, he could get enrolled. In some cases this provision, if adopted, will extend the qualifying time to seven months. We ought not to lengthen the time. The Minister says that for administrative purposes it will be more convenient to have a month’s qualification in the case of an original claim, a claim for a transfer, or a claim for a change, from subdivision to subdivision. It is said that if we have one month’s qualification an officer will be able to fill out the same card in each case. I nave had an opportunity of conferring with the Chief Electoral Officer about this proposal. I know, of course, that the official claim is that it will simplify the card because in future claims are to be entered on cards. Mr. Oldham pointed out that in the past we have had’ three different claim forms, and that when men went to a new electorate they filled out a new claim instead of a request for a transfer, leading to duplications and swollen rolls. Mr. Oldham said that with the card system there will be only one claim, that_ is, for a transfer, or a change, or an original claim. But there are different lines in the claim. When it arrives at the head office it will be compared with the cards in the bureau, and’ if there is a card which shows that the claimant is already enrolled, his name will simply be transferred, although he has made an original claim. I point out that if my amendment were adopted, it would only necessitate the use of a larger card containing two extra lines. But Mr. Oldham pointed out that that was an objection because the present card is of a convenient size. I believe that unless this “amendment is made a large number of persons will be disfranchised. At present, when a man comes to Australia, he has only to remember that six months’ residence will qualify him for enrolment. But if we adopt this proposed new section a new arrival will have to keep in mind two things, first, that before he can be enrolled he must have resided in Australia for six months, and in a subdivision of an electorate for one month.. At present people are altogether too diffident about getting enrolled, and we ought not to put any obstacles in the way. I hope that the Government will be able to see their way to agree to my amend- . ment. I believe that the only objections which can be urged against its acceptance are purely administrative. But surely it ought not to be beyond the capacity of the Electoral Department to find a way to overcome a difficulty of that kind.
– I have no exception to take to Senator Pearce’s concluding statement, because this is largely an administrative matter and does not involve any principle. Under ordinary circumstances I should have viewed with some dislike a proposal to require a month’s residence. The provISion has been inserted merely with a view to endeavour to come to a joint system in conjunction with the States. It is for honorable senators to say whether the advantage of bringing about a uniform system of enrolment is worth the little additional obligation thrown upon an elector. The proposed new section involves no matter of principle. I am unable to develop any enthusiasm one way or the other. On the one side we have the mere requirement that an elector, if he has been in the Commonwealth for six months, shall be entitled to get enrolled, even though he may have been in an electorate for only a day.
– Have the States a uniform system?
– No, they are not uniform, but whilst in one State a month’s residence might be required, the clause makes provision that in other States the absence of that qualification would not invalidate enrolment. I leave it to the Committee to decide whether they think the advantage of bringing about a uniform scheme of enrolment for State and Commonwealth which . would lead not merely to economy, but to the simplification of electoral provisions in the interests of electors, would not more than counterbalance the possible disadvantage to comparatively a small number of electors. At present a citizen, who wishes to become enrolled must go to one officer and fill in a particular form of enrolment for State purposes, and to another officer and fill in another form for Federal purposes. It is desired to establish a system under which a resident may apply to one official, and fill in one form, to secure enrolment for State and Federal purposes. That would prevent complication and confusion, and would be a very great advantage to the people, whilst but a very small number would be placed at a disadvantage.
– I think we can cover both in the clause.
– I have consulted the officers of the Department, and they believe that to be almost impossible. I am trying to balance the advantages, which I think are obvious, with the disadvantages of the proposed new section.
– The advantages the honorable senator refers to would arise under sub-clause 5 of the proposed new section, which would not be affected by my amendment.
– The honorable senator will see that the residence qualification is dealt with in that sub-clause also. This proposed new section is proposed with the object of bringing about a uniform system, under which a resident, by applying to one official, and filling in one form, might secure original enrolment, transfer, or change of enrolment, for both State and Commonwealth. The advantage to the States and the Commonwealth of having the one machinery and one set of rolls for both, is obvious. The disadvantage that might arise under this provision would, I venture to think, affect but a very small number of persons, who, having been in Australia for six months, have not been resident for one month in the electoral division in which they seek original enrolment. I ask the Committee to agree to the clause as it stands.
.- It seems to me that some danger is involved in this clause. As soon as a man’s name is placed on a roll, he can vote at once, and if the proposed new section were agreed to, we might have a transfer of a large number of votes from one electorate to another a day or two before an election took place.
– This deals with original enrolment.
– I had overlooked that. In that case, my objection would not lie. I had in mind the fact that in connexion with a certain election in Victoria, when certificates were issued by the Victorian Government, 200 or 300 voters were transferred at the last moment from one electorate to another. The contention put forward by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as to the advantage of securing uniformity in State and Commonwealth electoral machinery is a very sound one, and to secure that uniformity the Committee need not hesitate to incommode a few persons.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 11 and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed (from page 3922), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Had I been aware of the fact that there is so little business on the paper, I should have been loath to agree tothe suggestion put forward by the VicePresident of the Executive Council that we should resume the debate on the second reading of this Bill at a later stage to-day.
– The Minister will not object to an adjournment of the debate.
– I am sure that the Minister will recognise that it is hardly fair to ask honorable senators to resume the debate now. Perhaps he would consent to allow private members’ business to be disposed of before resuming the debate.
– This Bill has been before the country for some weeks.
– That may be so; but I do not think that there is a single member of the Senate who anticipated that we would be called upon to debate the second reading of the Bill at this stage. We might dispose of the business in the names of private members of the Senate, and then resume this debate.
– I should have no objection to that course; but I thought that I had ascertained the wish of the honorable senator.
– I had not realized the condition of the business-paper. I hoped to have an hour or two in which to collect my thoughts. -Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council consent to an adjournment of the debate?
– There may be other honorable senators who desire to speak. I was certainly under the impression that honorable senators would be prepared to deal with a simple measure of this kind.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chataway) adjourned.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.43]. - I move -
That this Senate again affirms the resolution unanimously adopted on the 26th day of. June, 1903, and reaffirmed by 18 votes to 9 on the 19th August of the same year, viz. : - “ That this Senate affirms that, in view of the position and status of this branch of the Legislature, as defined by and in the Constitution, it is desirable that there be more adequate representation of the Government in the Senate by the appointment of at least two. paid Ministers.”
The motion which I now have pleasure in submitting for the consideration of the Senate was placed upon the businesspaper before the present Government were in office, and, therefore, I cannot be charged with making any attack upon the existing Administration. If my proposal be in the nature of an attack upon any Administration, it was aimed at that which was displaced a few months ago. I gave notice of this motion on the opening day of the present session. I did so in pursuance of my previous action in this Chamber, whichmet with so complete an indorsement at the hands of honorable senators that it does not seem necessary for me to offer either explanation or apology in asking them to reaffirm their decision. At the present moment we have in this’ Chamber a glaring instance of the urgent need which exists for further Ministerial representation. If we had more Ministers here, the Senate would not be confronted with the dearth of work which it not infrequently experiences. More Ministers would’ necessarily mean more Bills.
. -Ishallnot detain the Senate at any length in discussing a matter upon which it has on more than one occasion expressed its’ opinion freely and fully. When a similar motion was previously before this Chamber, I certainlv voiced, in the main, the views to which Senator Neild has given utterance. But I would point out to him that there are one or two practical difficulties in the way of giving effect to his proposal. Very early in its history the Senate was invited to express its view upon this matter. It did so by adopting a resolution similar to that which we are now asked to reaffirm. There the matter rested. Practical considerations prevented the Government from giving expression to the view of the Senate. Apparently those circumstances have not since altered. Senator Neild has stated that measures introduced here should not be limited by Ministerial representation. I regard that suggestion as an affirmation that they are so limited, and upon that question I at once join issue with the honorable senator. I say that the number of Bills introduced into the Senate in no sense depends upon whether the Ministerial representation in this Chamber is large or small. Other considerations determine that. Only a few days ago the honorable senator himself pointed out that the Constitution imposes’ certain restrictions in regard to the measures which can be originated in the Senate. Those restrictions play a very important part in determining the Bills which are initiated here. I do not say that measures are not initiated elsewhere which might very appropriately be originated here, and I shall certainly endeavour to see that more of those measure;; are originated here in the future. But by the adoption of this motion, I can scarcely hope to break down what has now become an established practice. Brief as has been my Ministerial experience, I cannot close my eyes to the fact that, as we multiply Federal duties and Federal Departments, it is inevitable that the number pf Ministers’, which is at present limited by the Constitution, shall be increased. It seems to me that if we continue to add to the duties of Ministers we must sooner or later add to the number of the Ministerial team. I would also point out that since the establishment of Federation there has been no Government limited to seven Ministers. In every case there has been an addition to that number. I think, too, that I may safely appeal to honorable senators to say whether, even with that addition, there has been an idle man in the Cabinet. I am certain that in the course of time - it may be many years hence, and it may be few - circumstances will force an addition to the number of Ministers’. In that event, the decision of the Senate, in respect of this proposal, will not be lost sight of. Senator Neild, however, can scarcely hope that the adoption of this motion will cause any disturbance in the Ministerial ranks.
– Certainly not.
– At the same time, the decision of the Senate on this matter is one which will be taken into account should circumstances, later on, point to the necessity for an addition to the Ministerial strength.
-51]- - I think that the- Vice-President of the Executive Council made a very wise remark when he stated that in time it would be necessary to have more Ministerial representation in the Senate. I hope that that day is not far distant. It seems to me that more Bills might well be initiated in this Chamber. It cannot be urged that successive Governments have not been well represented here. There is no dearth of political talent for the discharge of Ministerial duties, and if we wish to make tho Senate an attractive House for rising young men, surely it is desirable that there should be more than two Ministers in it. I sympathize very much with the proposal of Senator Neild, and I hope that the day is not far distant when we shall have more than two Ministerial heads of Departments in this Chamber.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.52]. - Had I for a moment supposed that the Vice-President of the Executive Council had altered his attitude in respect of this .proposal, I certainly should have addressed the Chamber at greater length in submitting it. In the hope of reconverting the honorable gentleman, I intend to speak somewhat longer than I had intended. Though my honorable friend did indicate that he had voiced opinions in favour of this proposal-
– Opinions which I entertain to-day.
– And for which the honorable gentleman voted on the 19th August, 1903. I take it that a principle which was a good one a few years ago is a good one- to-day, seeing that nothing has transpired to alter the conditions which then existed. Upon the last occasion that this question was before the Senate, the debate was hurried on account of some urgent Government business which was’ to follow it. But when the proposal was first submitted, a full-dress debate took place upon it. After I had moved the motion ex-Senator Drake, who was then the representative of the Government in this Chamber, spoke in opposition to it. He was followed by ex-Senator Glassey, who supported it. He, in turn, was succeeded by ex-Senator Staniforth Smith, who was followed by Senator Walker. The lastnamed spoke in similar terms to those which he employed to-day. Senator Dobson ako addressed himself to this motion. His view was that, even if it were carried, it would prove ineffective. Senator Pulsford supported the proposal, and Senator Keating said that it was one which did not interest the Senate. Ex-Senator Barrett had a great deal of sympathy for the motion. Senator Symon was clearly in favour of it. He said -
It is our right under the Constitution to see’ that this is done, and I have the greatest pleasure in expressing my hearty sympathy with the motion and the desire that in both its branches it would be carried into effect.
Ex-Senator Styles supported the motion strongly, as did also ex-Senator Higgs. It was carried without a division. On the next occasion when I submitted the motion, the votes were eighteen in its favour, and nine against. Those who voted against it were your distinguished predecessor in the chair, Sir Richard Baker, the senator who is now Sir Robert Best, Senator Dobson, ex-Senator Sir John Downer, ex-Senator Drake, ex-Senator O’Connor, ex-Senator O’Keefe, ex-Senator Playford, and Senator Keating: Of the nine who voted against the motion only three - Senators Best, Dobson, and Keating are members of this Chamber to-day; whilst the majority of those who supported it are still to be found here.
– Is that a matter of cause and effect, or coincidence?
– I should be sorry to say that it is a matter of cause and effect. Those who voted for the motion, and are still members of the Senate, were Senator Cameron, Senator de Largie, the present President, ‘Senator Macfarlane, Senator McGregor, Senator Millen, Senator Pearce, Senator Stewart, Senator Walker, and myself.
– All intelligent men !
– I hope that all who are sent to this Chamber are possessed of some intelligence. I cannot assume that the ratio of intelligence, is opposed to the proportion of votes on this question. I take it that there was equally as likely to be a plethora of wisdom with the majority as with the minority. I am sorry that my honorable friend. Senator Millen, finds that the incumbrances of office cause him to take a some what different view on this occasion. But perhaps I should not say that he takes a different view. I am somewhat puzzled at my honorable friend’s attitude. He spoke in opposition to the motion, but he says that he is in agreement with it. Consequently, I do not know- how to answer him. I think I may as well leave the matter to honorable senators, in, the belief that the majority will re-affirm the previous decision of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.0]. - I move -
That in the opinion of the Senate it is desirable that the logs and journals of Captain Cook’s ships the Endeavour and the Resolution now deposited at the Public Record Office in London should be secured for the Commonwealth, in order to be placed and preserved amongst the Historical Records and Archives of Australia, and that the Government be requested to communicate with the Imperial Authorities through the proper channel with a view of obtaining the same if it be possible. i might, with the courtesy of the Senate, have submitted this motion as formal. Had I done so, I am sure that it would Have been unanimously . accepted. But I thought - and doubtless my honorable friends will agree with me - that it was desirable that there should be a short statement for the information and guidance of the Government in acting upon it. It is also more respectful and more in keeping with its importance that I should make a few observations embodying the facts and reasons which influence me in submitting the question for the consideration of the Senate. I may first remind honorable senators that twelve years ago, on the 29th April, a very interesting ceremony, and a very touching act of international courtesy took place in what is known as the Consistory Court of the Diocese of London. Under the authority, and in the presence of that Court, which had control over the precious manuscript which was the subject of the ceremony, the original log of the Mayflower was handed over by the Bishop of London to Mr. Bayard, then United States Ambassador to Great Britain, in order that it might be safely transmitted to America, and there given into the hands of the Governor of the State of Massachusetts, to be deposited by him in the State archives, or in the library of the Historical Society, and remain there for all time to come. On the occasion of handing over the manuscript, the Bishop of London said : -
It seems to me to be of the greatest possible importance that a document which relates to a nation’s history should as far as possible be in the custody of that nation; and it seems to me anomalous that a document of such importance to the citizens of the United States should remain in even such a dignified resting-place in England as the archives of the Bishop of London.
In accepting the manuscript upon those conditions, and referring to the great act of international friendship and good feeling between England - the Mother Country of the United States, as she is the Mother Country of Australia - and the United States, Mr. Bayard said that he spoke - with the strongest feeling of respect for this transaction, and for the spirit in which it has been conducted, for the amicable tone that should exist, and that has been proven to exist, between the two people of the two great branches of the English-speaking people of the world. I receive and will transmit this document to those who have been designated as its proper custodians.
I confess that it was that incident which led me to think that the logs and journals of Captain Cook’s, ships, the Endeavour and the Resolution, should form part of the national archives of Australia, and that an application to the Imperial Government, in whose custody they now are, would pro.bably be received with favour. I was confirmed in that opinion when, some two years ago, whilst in London, I visited that magnificent treasury of historical docu-ments, the Public Record Office, .by the courteous invitation of the Master of the Rolls who is by law the keeper of the. records, and was shown these precious manuscript volumes. I confess - and I am not ashamed to confess - that it was with feelings of reverent emotion that I turned over the original leaves and read the story ; and I thought that mv fellow citizens in Australia should have the same opportunity and the same privilege if it were possible. On that occasion it was rather with bated breath, and with some degree of hesitation, that I ventured the hint that these documents ought to be in Australia. The Master of the Rolls and his very learned and distinguished deputy, Sir Henry Max.wellLyte, thought, I fancy, that my suggestion was rather audacious, and it was hinted that there might be difficulties. My answer was, “These are our title deeds.” I also mentioned the precedent relating to the log of the Mayflower, which, although connected with the history of the initia tion of settlement in the United States, is less part of the title deeds of America than the logs and journals of the Endeavour and Resolution are our title deeds. I pointed out that we in Australia did not cavil at having documents like these reposing in the very heart of the Empire, like the mighty dead of our race who repose in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. But we felt that these were part of the history of a living and growing nation, and that they would more properly be here with us. Since then I have had more than one. courteous and sympathetic communication of the views of the Master of the Rolls and the Deputy Keeper of the Records. But I recognise that the object which we have in view is not one the attainment of which should. te in the hands of any private individual. It is a national object. It is worthy of the attention of the national Government. They should undertake it, and they should enjoy all l.he honour of securing the attainment of the object for the people of this country. I think, too, that when the time comes for the handing over of these manuscripts to Australia - and I have no difficulty in believing that the time will soon come, with the assistance of the Government and of the Prime Minister, in whose hands the matter will be efficiently left - it should be an occasion of ceremony and distinction, exhibiting the Mother Country’s affection and consideration for Australia, and our equally affectionate gratitude to her. That, Mr. President, is the origin and basis of this motion. 1 think it will be agreed by every one that we should lose no chance of gathering in the Australian archives. -The importance of preserving public records is recognised by every civilized nation, and pre-eminently so- by Great Britain. At one time, unfortunately, it was not so. Ministers, for example, used, at no very remote period, to treat official despatches as their private property, and on leaving office, to take away with them manuscripts of great value, really belonging to the nation. The idea of allowing the public access to such private documents of historical interest, never seems to have entered into the minds of the authorities at that time, and is indeed a growth of recent years. In England, all these archives and public records are now most carefully preserved, inventoried, catalogued, and securely housed in that splendid and commodious edifice with which, no doubt, some of ray honorable friends are acquainted - the Public Record Office, in Chancery Lane, London. By Statute, the Master of the Rolls is the Keeper of the Public Records with the extremely able assistance of the gentleman I have mentioned, Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte. As an illustration of the treasures that are there, you find, in relation to shipping and navigation, and exploration over-seas, the logbook of every ship in the Royal Navy for the last 200 or 300 years.
Captain Cook named the eastern part of Australia New South Wales. He never did.
Senator Walker. - New Holland
At six possession was taken of this country in His Majesty’s name and under his colours ; fired several volleys of small arms on the occasion, and cheer’d three times, which was answer’d from the ship.
The private log contains this entry -
A little before sunset I took possession of the country in His Majesty’s name, and fired three volleys of small arms on the occasion, which was answered from the ship.
In the private journal kept by Lieutenant Hicks, the incident is entered thus -
The captain went on shore, hoisted ye colours, and took possession of ye country for ye King, fired several volleys, and cheered three times, which was answered from ye ship. At ro a.m. slack water, weighed, and made sail.
The island on which this ceremony took place was named Possession Island, a name which it bears, I believe, to this day. It must be remembered that Captain Cook was not the first Englishman to visit Australia. That honour belongs to William Dampier, who made his first visit to the western coast of Australia in 1689, and revisited that part in 1699. It is a subject, perhaps, of interesting speculation as to what might have happened had Dampier, in the Roebuck, which gave its name to Roebuck Bay, in Western Australia, returned by the Strait of Magellan instead of by the Cape of Good Hope. It may be that he would have had the honour of discovering and taking possession of the eastern shore of Australia nearly 100 year’s before Captain Cook was there. But although Captain Cook was not the first Englishman who visited Australia., it must be remembered that the inclusion of Australia as an integral part of the British Dominions took place when Captain Cook unfurled the Union Jack and took possession in the King’s name. “ It was only,” as has been said, “a bit of bunting,” but it was the symbol of the ownership and sovereignty which have endured to this day, and which, please God, will endure so long as we have health and strength and life to hold the country which Captain Cook gave us. The original record of that great fact, the beginning of our history, is, I think, worth having. That particular part of it is our own. It is our title, and upon that rests, I think, we may say all the subsequent Proclamations, Orders in Council, and the Parliaments and legislation . for the organization of the good government and the peace, order, and prosperity of this country. All those things are subsequent to and rest upon that act of Captain Cook, and that claim made by him in the year 1770. I believe that I am correct in saying that Sydney now possesses Captain Cook’s Bible, which he read every. Sunday morning to his crew, the gold medal which was struck in his honour, and other relics. And we may well ask ourselves what are they in value to this young nation in comparison to the logs and journals which are now in the Old Country. Of course, in ‘ the case of despatches copies are as useful as the originals, but it is quite otherwise in the case of these logs. The originals we should possess as they are a part of the title to the country which is ours. I think that we should also have the log of the Resolution, on his third voyage in which we read the tragic story of Captain Cook’s death at Owhyhee on the 14th February, 1779. I am sure that our request, so far as these original documents are available, would be favorably considered. We may fairly say that Captain Cook is ours. He is to us what the Pilgrim Fathers were to New England, what Champlain is to Canada, and very much what Clive is to the British Empire in India; he is the founder and the hero of the annexation, if I may call it so, of Australia to Ihe British Crown. His personality, too, was of a character which we might well cherish. His life and death are part of our history. I am sure he is regarded throughout Australia as a national hero. He is a founder worthy of our reverence and our pride. He rose from the people. His own words prefixed to his log are a very touching reference to himself. References to himself were very infrequent, because he was of all men probably the most modest. In the preface to his log these concluding words are to be found-
I have given the most candid and best account of things I was able. I have no natural or ac« quired abilities for writing. I have been, I ma say, constantly at sea from my youth, and have worked myself with the assistance of a few good friends through all the stations belonging to a seaman from a prentice boy to a commander.
He served his country in war. He was present at the taking of Quebec, and did memorable service for the British forces there. He served his country in scientific navigation, and in the cause of humanity. He discovered the means of pre- serving the sailor from the terrible scourge of scurvy. For that he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society in the year 1776. By a rival navigator, La Perouse, he was described as “ Cook, the Incomparable Navigator.” Admiral Lord Colville, with whom he had served as the master of one of the King’s ships, wrote, in 1762, of what he called his “genius and capacity,” and spoke of him as “an officer qualified for great undertakings.” That was eight years before he made acquaintance with the eastern coast of Australia. Sir Hugh Pallisser wrote on the fly-sheet of the log, which had been given to him, these observations, which honorable members will probably be interested to hear -
This book was a present from Captain Cook to Sir Hugh Pallisser, containing his log from the 27th May, 1768, to the nth June, 1771, during his voyage on board the Endeavour, bark, sent to make observations on the transit of Venus in the Southern Hemisphere.
During this one voyage, of two years ten months and fifteen days from the day of leaving the land of England to his return to it, he traversed more seas than had ever before been navigated, made more useful observations and discovered more lands till then unknown and in the most distant part of the globe (being near the antipode from the country from whence he set out), and gives a better detail and better narrative of events than is to be found in any former manuscript or journal; and he, being an able draftsman as well as an able seaman and artist, has furnished better charts and descriptions of the great tracts of countries which he discovered than were ever before given by any first discoverer.
I believe it to be a well-known fact that, for the most part, the scientific results of Captain Cook’s researches and his charts have retained to this very day their ac- curacy, and that, as regards many portions of the seas which he surveyed, the soundings have not been altered since his time. That is really one of the most wonderful tributes which could be paid to his unrivalled capacity as a seaman, to his scientific knowledge as a navigator, and to the extraordinary care he bestowed on all he undertook. This, I think, is all I need say in support of the motion. We in the- Senate are Australians sent here, with our comrades in the other House, to represent this united country. We are inspired with the hope that we may be able to do something to establish this young nation, and build it up in strength and self-reliance worthy of the noble Empire of which it forms a part. This island continent is ours, and nothing that serves to disclose the dawn of our ownership, and to make clear our moral right to it, can be of indifference to us. It is well to fortify our possession, just as it is well for an individual to fortify his possession by being able, at call, to produce his title deeds. I submit the motion with this short statement, leaving it entirely to the Prime Minister and the Government to take such steps as, with the assistance of the Imperial Government, will secure these documents and title deeds of ours from the Public Record Office, the British Museum, or whatever other place they may be deposited in, so that they may remain for all time in the custody of. Australia. I hope that the motion will be accepted with unanimity, and at once.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.35]- - I rise with a very great deal of pleasure to second the motion. I should have been glad if it went a little further in certain directions, but we can accept it as an instalment towards building up the official records of the Commonwealth. Senator Symon made very appropriate and courteous reference to the action of New South Wales in commencing the compilation of the facts and historical records concerning the early settlement of this great country. I think, however, that the honorable and learned senator did not refer to the fact that, under votes of the Federal Parliament, the compilation of these official records is’ now being carried on for the Commonwealth by that eminent gentleman, Mr. Bladen, barristeratlawand member of several learned societies, who is Chief Government Librarian in the Mother State. This gentleman has already compiled several volumes of historical records.
Australia, whilst Portuguese navigators had made a. very complete survey of its western coast. The next stage, of course, relates to the Dutch discoveries and chartings, all of which lead up to the coming of the one time semi-buccaneer, Dampier, to whom Senator Symon made such eloquent reference, and who, as one of England’s great navigators, has not received proper recognition in his own country. If one visits Western Australia one will hear plenty of talk in reference to the exploits of “ Bill” Dampier, but none regarding those of James Cook, whereas in the eastern portion of Australia the position is entirely reversed. I have had the pleasure of sailing over the same seas and, with the help of Dampier’s journals and the ship’s charts, have traced Dampier’s course along the western coast, and of seeing the ship on which I was a passenger drop anchor in almost the identical spot at which the anchor of the Roebuck, when navigated by Dampier, was dropped. I know, too, that Senator de Largie has been over the same spot. Senator Symon spoke most accurately when he described the logs and records of Captain Cook as the groundwork of England’s title to Australia. Unquestionably that is a fact just asit is a. fact that the ponderous parchment deeds of to-day may be traced back to scraps of paper of the size of one’s hand. I know that the title to a most important property near Sydney is represented by a huge pile of parchment deeds which had their origin in a piece of paper of less size than an ordinary sheet of note paper, upon which was recorded the sale of a piece of the land for a few bushels of wheat. That being the case, surely the title of England to the freehold of Australia may be appropriately traced to the official records of its discoverer, and to the possession of it which was taken by him in the name of the Old Country, which has extended its influence, its power, and its . beneficent management of public affairs to all parts of the world, and not in the least effective fashion in the southern seas.
– We are all under a debt of gratitude to Senator Symon for having brought forward this motion. The only fault that I have to find with it is that it is not sufficiently comprehensive. I should like it to embrace all ancient manuscripts relating to the records of the maritime, explorers of Australia. The early history of our country shows that there are many documents in the possession of foreign countries which will be of great historical value to us in time to come, hut 1 do not know that they possess any special value from the stand-point of establishing our title to the country. Australia, belongs to us, and I do not think that any European nation is likely to dispute its possession with us.
– Not if we are wise.
– I do not wish to boast that we are better than the average of mortals, but I do think that we are just as wise as is the average. I repeat that many valuable documents relating to the early exploration of Australia are to be found in Spain, Holland, and France, and, in my judgment, it would be wise to extend the scope of this motion so as to embrace them. In its present form the proposal of Senator Symon is too modest.
– Modesty was always my fault. But, speaking seriously, I thought it would be well to specify the records mentioned in my motion, with a view to first getting the title deeds to our estate.’
– The honorable senator is a good Australian, and I am prepared to support his proposal. If he cannot see his way to enlarge its scope, I hope that the Government will apply to foreign countries for any documents which may be in their possession, and which may bc of historical value to us. Now that we have made a start in collecting records of Australian interest, I think it would be a wise policy to appoint a Committee, whose duty it should be to apply to foreign countries for any documents which may be in their possession relating to the early exploration of our country - documents of which we may have little or no knowledge. As Senator Neild has already observed, the amount of knowledge of the doings of the English explorer- Dampier which is possessed by the people of Western Australia is remarkable. Yet that navigator is seldom referred to in the eastern States. In Sydney one will hear all about the doings of Captain Cook, but little of those of Dampier. These facts evidence that our people are not as well informed upon the early history of Australia as they ought to be, and emphasize the desirableness of enlarging the scope of this motion.
– I am sure that the Senate will re- gard this proposal with warm approval. ! do not desire to discuss it, because I am satisfied that honorable senators generally will hail it as a move in the right direction. My purpose in rising is to ask Senator Symon to consent to an amendment of his proposal. Like Senator de Largie, I do not think that it goes far enough. If we adopt it in its present form, we shall be tied down in our search to certain journals which are alleged to be located in a repository in London. I have very grave doubts as to whether the documents stored in the Record Office, London, can be regarded as the original logs of the ships specified in Senator Symon’ s motion. I believe that those logs are to be found elsewhere. The documents stored in .the Record Office, London, are, I think, the journals of officers of the Endeavour and Resolution, and are largely copies of the original logs. That is shown by curious mistakes which occur in the spelling of names. Whilst I would regard even those documents as valuable additions to our historical records, it is more desirable that we should obtain their originals. So far as I can gather from the useful publication of Wharton, the Admiralty authorities of the time of which I speak imposed upon explorers the obligation of keeping ships’ logs in triplicate. Captain Cook complied with that obligation. One of the journals which he kept is in the hands of the Admiralty authorities, another passed to Her Majesty, so that where that is I cannot say.
– The honorable gentleman means that it passed into the possession of the late Queen?
– No; it was traced down to the time of George III. That copy is in existence somewhere, probably in one of the Royal libraries. The third journal was handed to Sir Hugh Pallisser, and is now in the possession of Mr. R. N. Hudson, of Sunderland. These are Cook’s original journals, which would be of the greatest historical value to Australia. Whilst it may be more difficult to obtain them, I ask Senator Symon to agree to an amendment of his proposal, so that we may not exclude them from the search which will doubtless be undertaken as the result of its submission. I suggest that after the word “London” the words “or elsewhere” be inserted. My honorable friend will doubtless see his way to agree to that amendment. .The appearance of this proposal upon the business-paper has made me a little industrious, and as a re sult, I communicated with Mr. Petherick, who can speak with so much authority upon this matter, and he has forwarded to me - in addition to other notes - a supplementary letter, which reads -
To the notes handed you yesterday on the sailors’ logs of the Endeavour, I venture to add a suggestion, viz., that before application is made for them (all in print as far as they relate to Australia) we should await the result of an application made to the Record Office about six weeks ago, bv the late Sir Frederick Holder, through the Colonial Office, for a set of the Sydney Gazette, also at the Record Office. There may be some chance of getting this, as there is a second set at the British Museum a few streets oil - only ten minutes distance, or less than that.
There are a number of documents of the Dampier period at the Record Office, probably of more importance than the Endeavour sailor logs, upon which Admiral Wharton (late of the Admiralty) set little value.
When a reply is received to Sir Frederick Holder’s application, inquiries might be made for an examination into documents antecedent to Cook’s voyages. I saw and copied some many years ago, .and if I had had time I might have found more. There are bags full of captains’ letters prior to and after Cook’s time.
It was as the result of my own searches and inquiries in the early eighties that I advised Mr. Bonwick to work in that mine and the British Museum which resulted, as you know, in the six or seven volumes of New’ South Wales records since issued at the cost of the local Government.
I read that because it points out that - to use the words of the writer of the letter - there is a mine still to be explored ; and I think that the insertion of the two little words that I have suggested would enable inquiries to be prosecuted beyond the scope of the motion as submitted.
– The motion would only cover the logs and journals of the Endeavour and the Resolution.
– I am sure that the Government would not lay itself open to any censure if it went further. My desire would be to make the search as wide as possible, with a view to establishing what ought to be the precious treasure of a National Library. We are only beginning to see the importance of these manuscript treasures, and we can easily judge to how great an extent they will appeal to those who will come after us. Every year will add to the value of the documents, as every year will add to the difficulty of obtaining them.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the motion which has been submitted by Senator Symon. I shall follow the good example set by the Vice-President of the
Executive Council in not speaking at length, but at the same time I would point out that this is rather a difficult motion to amend. Not only are the records of explorers and discoverers to be found in offices in London, and elsewhere in Great Britain, but they are also to be found in many of the continental countries in Europe. Senator Symon has been, since the inception of this Parliament - as I also have had the honour and pleasure of being - a member of the Library Committee. A great deal of work has been done by that Committee in endeavouring to collate information relative to the discovery of Australia, and its early history. Difficulties have, however, presented themselves to the Committee from time to time. I know that Senator Symon is aware of one difficulty, which is that of finding out the ‘best way to act in reference to the acquisition of documents of this kind. The members of the Committee about twelve months ago made representations, through the Prime Minister of the day, to the Home authorities, as to the desirableness of obtaining for our National Library many of the original records existing in ‘.London, which are of very little use and value to persons living there, but which will be a source of great interest and a means of profitable study to our own students and scientists, in the years to come. With regard to the logs and journals, as to which Senator Symon asks that we should prefer a request to the authorities at the Public Record Office, my honorable friend has had an opportunity of seeing the originals; we can safely trust to his discrimination and judgment as to whether they are or are not. the documents which we desire to obtain for our National Library. If the amendment suggested by Senator Millen, be adopted, I would point out that it would refer simply to the logs of Captain Cook’s ships, the Endeavour and the Resolution, deposited, at the Public Record Office or elsewhere. But there may be at the Public Record Office logs and journals concerning the voyages of other navigators. Senator de Largie has contended that the ambit of the motion is not sufficiently wide, and that if we obtained the original records of Dampier’s voyages and of those of other navigators, we should be in possession of records relating to the discovery of the whole of Australia, rather than of a portion of it. We should, I think, endeavour to obtain the records of French navigators, such as La Perouse and his successors. We should obtain records of the voyage of D’Entrecasteaux and. Labillardiere, who were sent out in search of La Perouse; as well as the original records of Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese, and of other French navigators. The motion is not sufficiently wide to cover those cases. But I need only point to the map of Tasmania to show the importance of obtaining, other logs than those of Captain Cook. Many of the geographical names of capes, bays, and islands in Tasmania are French. I mav refer, for instance, to the River Huon, to Bruni Island, to Freycinet Peninsula, to D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Recherche Bay, and other features of Tasmanian geography in proof of what I say. Therefore, if we desire to obtain a comprehensive library, enshrining the original records of discoveries in all parts of Australia, we have not merely to go to London and endeavour to obtain the logs and journals of ‘Captain Cook, but to continental countries for the purpose of obtaining, if possible,, original documents relating to other explorers. It is, of course, quite right that we should endeavour to obtain the original logs of the Endeavour and the Resolution. I am inclined to think that if a request for them were made by the Commonwealth Government, backed up, as it will be, by a resolution of this House of the Legislature, the British authorities could hardly disregard such a respectful application. If we could obtain those documents, it would be a first step in the right direction. I am well aware that the honorable senator who has submitted the motion has, as a member of the Library Committee, taken a very active interest in endeavouring to obtain for the National Library works of the character referred to. He will agree with me, from what he knows, that we shall be far more likely to succeed when we submit requests for original documents, if the application were made on the initiative of a branch of the Commonwealth Legislature.
– Why have not the Library Committee done more in this matter?
– I think that they have done very well. As I have already stated, more than twelve months ago they transmitted through the Prime Minister a request to the Home authorities for practically all documents affecting early Australia in possession of the Colonial Office.
– What reply was received ?
– I am not in a position to say definitely, but I believe that the Home authorities did not seem to be imbued with the feeling that the Australian ‘Commonwealth would exactly appreciate the documents at their proper value. Some time ago we were favoured with a visit from two representatives of the Colonial Office, Sir Charles Lucas and Mr. Pearson. I, with other members of the Library Committee, individually and collectively, had the honour of approaching those gentlemen, unofficially, of course, with regard to the matter. We expressed a desire to obtain from the archives in London all documents relating to the foundation of Australia. Sir Charles Lucas and his colleague showed themselves to be personally interested, and, personally, seemed well disposed towards such a request. But they seemed to be of opinion that the Home authorities feared that if they complied with a request from Australia they could hardly refuse to entertain a similar one from ‘Canada. Quite recently, on the occasion of the tercentenary of Champlain, one of the very earliest of Canadian pioneers, the Canadian people would have liked to obtain original documents stored in the Public Record Office and elsewhere with regard to the British occupation of Canada, The British authorities, however, had reluctantly to refuse to give up such documents as they had in their custody. Notwithstanding that fact, however, Sir Charles Lucas and his colleague, if I interpreted their attitude correctly, were personally disposed to recommend favorable consideration of our wishes in this respect, but thought that we should be more likely to meet with success if a strong request were made from Australia - one carrying even greater weight than that made by the Government of the day at the instance of the Library Committee. A resolution of this Senate would be indicative of the strongly expressed wish of the Australian people, and for that reason I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– We have all listened with the greatest of pleasure to the speech of Senator Symon. It was both interesting and instructive. But I think that an aspect of the matter has been overlooked, though incidentally it was suggested by Senator Keating. I allude to the view of those who are the present custodians of these precious manuscripts. Senator Symon has told us in more eloquent language than I can employ how valuable such documents are. He has told us how much they are valued in England. I am personally aware that all he said is true. We have to remember that Great Britain is the Home of our race; and I think it is natural that she desires to keep under her own care, not only the documents relating to the early history of Australia, but those which pertain also to ‘Canada, South Africa, India, and other parts of the Empire. Senator Keating has referred to the visit to Australia of Sir Charles Lucas. He said, with some hesitation, that in his opinion these gentlemen were favorable. I would not have introduced their names into the debate had he not first mentioned them. I am in a position to affirm most positively that their feeling was that the Home authorities would not like to part with the documents.
– Hear, hear; I heard them express the same opinion.
– The Senate may accept that as the feeling of the Home authorities. It should also be remembered that we are dealing with the Home Government, which has tried on every opportunity to gratify Australian sentiment. There is nothing that we can ask for and can reasonably use which they will decline to grant. “We should approach this subject with a little moderation. We should ask to be provided with originals where they are not valuable, or buy them when they are in the hands of private persons. Certainly we might ask for copies of the documents which are in the great publicoffices at Home. I had the idea of asking Senator Symon to insert the words “ copies of “ in his motion.
– lt must be remembered that these logs and various documents refer not only to Australia, but to the whole of the Pacific. It is true, as Senator Symon said, that Captain Cook traversed great regions throughout the Southern Hemisphere. It is not as if Captain Cook was merely the discoverer of the East Coast of Australia. He was a navigator over huge areas, and the Home Government could not separate the documents - could not send to us the parts referring to Australia only without also sending the parts relating to vaster regions outside Australia. Therefore, I feel more than hesitation in supporting the motion as it is worded. I think that we should ask the opinion of the Home Government. We might ask them what they can do to gratify our laudable desire in the matter. I noticed that all the speakers this afternoon, except Senator Keating, seemed to assume that these documents belong to us. I deprecate the expression of opinion by Senator Symon that they in any way constitute title deeds. . 1 venture to say that if they were given to us and lost with the ship conveying them to Australia-
– They would be lost title deeds, but the titlewould remain dependent upon them all the time.
– Our title would not be affected in the least. That is only one of those interesting flowers of speech which garnished an eloquent address. I beg the honorable senator to think well over my suggestion, and certainly I ask the representatives of the Government to approach the Home Government in a somewhat less assured tone than that of the motion.
– The motion has certainly been the means of provoking an historical discussion which must be of interest not only to ourselves, but to the public of Australia. Senator Symon desires to obtain the originals of everything done outside ourselves in pointing out to the world what Australia is, and how it has become what it is. I do not suppose that there is a single senator or intelligent member of the public who will not clearly appreciate what Senator Symon has expressed. But the more the discussion has extended, the more convinced have I become of the ineffectiveness of a motion of this kind. The subject as outlined by my honorable friend’s speech is a very wide one. How much of these important historical records we are entitled to ask for, and how much of these documents which may be ‘ historical records are genuine and of use to us, is a subject on which neither the mover of the motion nor the Senate is competent to give an authoritative opinion to us, or, perhaps, to others. I believe it is almost an axiom that about the least effective instrument on earth is an abstract Parliamentary motion. No doubt Senator Symon will agree with me that his motion is, to a very large extent, fraught with deep historical interest. But in my opinion the object may be best achieved by the Government appointing an historian or geographer, capable of analyzing the documents, finding out what it is that we want, and recommending to us, as the
National Parliament, what we should seek to obtain. Senator Symon is aware that the Record Office of every nation contains a huge mass of forgeries and of misleading documents, which many of us know are not worthy of the term “ historical.” By his motion my honorable friend has opened out a vast field of geographical and historical research. Does he mean that we are to approach the Home Office, and other offices too, with a bald proposal to take oyer, if they wish to give it to us, an undigested mass of material which, for historical or social reasons, may be absolutely worthless, or, worse than that - absolutely deluding to succeeding historians? This line of thought has been suggested to me by his own elaborate speech, which showed how vast and wide this field of investigation is. We all admit its value and its interest to us, but the more its value and interest are shown to us, the more necessary it becomes that the exploration of this field of research shall be made under the guidance and advice of a competent man. I have no wish to resist the object which Senator Symon has in view, but I feel that his motion, if carried either in its original form or in an enlarged form, will fail to achieve the purpose which Australians, . and probably the Colonial Office, desire, and that is to seek historical documents which will be of real use to us, and of value to our historians, and probably to succeeding legislators. Senator Symon has shown, perhaps, for the second time, how important, from the historical and social point of view, the possession or the investigation of these records is to us as a great, and, possibly, important, nation. But that work is so important in itself, and should be of such vast use to us and to historians, that it ought to be begun systematically and thoroughly, under the guidance and advice of a competent man, acting under the authority of this Parliament. I feel that if the subject is not approached in that way, it ought not to be approached at all. Senator Symon’s speech has made that aspect of the question to me clearer and stronger. He has shown the importance, the necessity, and usefulness of this kind of work. It ought to be undertaken, I repeat, by a specialist, whose advice and direction on that important point we should first take. His advice, and the reasons for it, should be submitted to the Parliament, and then, having obtained an authoritative opinion from a competent authority,the Parliament could ask, not only the Mother
Country, but other nations, which have done work in. connexion with Australia, for certain records. Senator Symon will fail in the very object which he desires to attain, unless he seeks to achieve it in the way I suggest; and that is through the medium of a competent authority. I shall welcome, as the result of this debate, the appearance of an item on the Estimates as soon as possible, to enable a competent scientific, historical, or geographic authority to begin this work immediately, and to continue it.
– For two years money has been voted, and the work is going forward now.
– I do not know whether Senator Symon will thank my honorable friend for his interjection, because, if that work is being done, and done properly, it seems to me that this motion is absolutely unnecessary.
– No. Senator Symon wants to secure the original documents ; and the Commonwealth is onlycolllecting other documents.
– The documents, if obtained, should be presented to us, under an authority, and in such circumstances, that we may be assured that they are the originals, and will be sufficient for. our purpose. However, I do not intend to oppose the motion. If the Parliament is voting money for a competent research, I take it that the motion is intended as a more or less gratuitous hint to the Government that they are not asking Parliament to vote sufficient, or that the persons who are intrusted with the investigation and research, are not doing the work properly. I trust that Senator Symon will express himself clearly on that point. If the Government are providing money for an investigation, and it is going on properly, I feel that by that investigation and this debate, we may attain, our object in a far better way than by the carrying of this motion.
.- We are all, I am sure, obliged to Senator Symon for bringing this matter forward. The honorable senator has opened up a very much wider field than his motion at first glance appeared to do. I rise to emphasize Senator St. Ledger’s statement that if this work is to be gone about at all, it must be placed in charge of some competent authority. When in Canada, on two occasions, I visited the Dominion Parliament House, where I found that a Mr. Alexander Fraser occupied an office under the title of Archivist. He had filled the position for a number of years, and in addition to some duties about the Parliament House, his business was to look after the archives, to search out all records, and see that they were genuine. His work has resulted in the collection of an enormous mass of literature and historical records of the early days of Ontario. I am glad to be able to say that one of our Federal ‘Governments have done something in this direction by securing Mr. Petherick’s collection, which is a very valuable one, of early records of Australia. It has been said that the Imperial Government might be unwilling to let us have the early records referred to in the honorable senator’s motion; but I do not think that that will be found to be the case. When we occupy our own house, as we probably shall in three or four years’ time - and we should be making preparations for the purpose now - I think we shall find that the Home authorities will be willing to give us anything of this kind for which we ask as a people. We already have proof _ of their willingness to do so in the original Queen’s Commission giving the Royal assent to the Commonwealth Constitution, the table on which it was signed, and other mementoes of the inauguration of the Commonwealth, which are exhibited in the Queen’s Hall. I agree with Senator St. Ledger that this business should be gone about in a proper and systematic way. Visitors to the Old Country will know that, for instance, at Burns’ cottage, there are a number of forgeries of the poet’s letters, and the very greatest care should be taken in these investigations. I may mention that the Canadian Archivist, to whom I have referred, was asked last year or the year before, to spend his holidays in Europe, and his leave was extended for three months. During that time he visited a number of the European capitals, looked through the records he found there, and was able to bring back to Canada a number of records of interest concerning the State of Ontario. I am very glad that Senator Symon has given us this breath of the past and turned our minds into a new channel I feel that the honorable senator is building better than he knows, and by his motion is laying the foundation for the compilation of a mass of records of our early history.
– I do not wish to add very much” to what has already been said ; but I should like to express my sympathy with the motion and my entire agreement with the suggestion that in embarking upon this field of exploration care should be taken to give us some assurance that the records we secure shall be originals. If we required merely copies of such records, we could .get them to-morrow. Many of them are to be purchased for a few shillings at any bookseller’s. I take it that Senator Pulsford does not desire that we should get forged copies of these records, in which the handwriting of the originals is imitated. I rose particularly to refer to some remarks which h:ive been made in connexion with the work of Dutch and French navigators. Honorable senators will recognise that in approaching the Imperial authorities for these original records we should be very much in the position of a son who goes to his father and says : “ I have now a house of my own, and I ask you to give me my birth certificate and other family records particularly concerning myself, that I may have them in my keeping.” We should not be in the same position in asking the French or Dutch authorities for records in their possession. We can approach the Imperial authorities as members of the Imperial family, in asking for these historical documents which specially concern the part of the Empire we occupy. I think it would be a matter for regret if any attempt were made to include in the motion a proposal to go further afield. We could hardly say to the people of a foreign nation : “ We are in possession of Australia, and we want the early records of your nation which have any bearing upon the history of the country which we now occupy.”
– “ We want to steal your heroes !”
– Exactly. The proposal is to approach the Imperial authorities through the proper channel, and 1 think it is undesirable to adopt the suggestion that Ave should approach other nations, who might regard the matter from a point of view entirely different from that from which Ave might reasonably suppose the Imperial authorities would regard it.
– If Ave never ask the authorities of these foreign nations for their records, Ave cannot expect to get them.
– I do not saythat Are should not ask them, but that Ave should not put them on the same footing as the Imperial authorities. We can Avith very great justification approach the Im perial authorities and say to them, to use Senator Symon ‘s phrase, “ Give us the title deeds of our property.” But Ave are not entitled to approach the authorities of foreign nations and ask them foi their records concerning Australia with anything like the same degree of assurance that our request will be complied with that Ave should have a right to entertain in approaching the Imperial authorities.
– It would be, “If you please,” in- both cases.
– That is so ; but in the case of the Imperial authorities W could urge family reasons in support of our request, which Ave could not urge upon foreign nations that have no connexion with us. I think I should emphasize the fact that the Library Committee, of which I have the honour to be a member, has not by any means neglected this particular matter. They interviewed the representatives of the Colonial Office who recently visited Australia, and have done what it Avas possible for them to do in this direction. It remains now, since I hope a similar motion will be carried in another place, for this Parliament to strengthen the hands of the Library Committee, so that in any further application they may make to the Imperial authorities it will be clear that they have the Federal Parliament at their back. I hope that Senator Symon will see his way to accept the amendment suggested bySenator Millen. That would widen the field of exploration and increase the opportunities afforded to secure the documents for which Ave are seeking. The motion has my warmest sympathy, and I hope it will be carried without a division
-Before calling upon Senator Symon to reply, I ask whether he is willing to accept the suggested amendment to insert the words “ or else- where?”
– I am prepared to accept it.
Motion amended accordingly.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.35]. - May I be permitted to say that the motion has been accepted and dealt with in the Senate in the way which might have been expected from any assemblage of Australians interested in their country, in the sources of its geographical, as well as its political, existence, and anxious to secure possession of what I may call the evidence, at least, of how we came by it. I have A’ery great pleasure in accepting the amendment proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, because, as the honorable senator pointed out, there may be some uncertainty with regard to the exact custody of the original documents, which we affirm it is desirable should be in the possession of this country, as having, with all deference to any other view, I think, the best right to them. Some honorable senators in discussing the motion in a way which has thrown great light upon a very large field which might be opened up in this connexion, have, if they will allow me to say so, to some extent overlooked its terms. I think that was notably so in the case of my friend, Senator Pulsford. The motion is couched in terms which, it must be admitted, are by no means dictatorial. It is courteous in every way. It does not express even a request on the part of the Senate or of this Parliament. All it does is to affirm what I think every man who is an Australian citizen., whether by birth or Otherwise, should be ready tc affirm, that it is desirable that we should have the originals of these logs and journals. It is desirable that we should have them, and that the Government, who are far more competent for the purpose than any historiographer, such as suggested by Senator St. Ledger, should bring the matter tinder the notice of the Imperial authorities. I was greatly struck by what Senator Chataway said in this connexion. I believe that we have a right to expect a favorable answer to our request, for family reasons, as the honorable senator suggested, if for no other reasons. If we cannot secure the originals of these documents, we shall then have to consider whether we ought to be satisfied with copies ; although copies are of no use to us for the purpose for which we desire to secure the custody of these records. We should look upon the request as addressed, not to an alien nation, but to our Mother Country. And the applicant may be described in Rudyard Kipling’s words -
Daughter am I in my mother’s house and mistress in my own.
Loyal and devoted as we are in every possible way to the Mother Country, and proud as we are to be an integral portion of the great Empire, we do not desire that our title deeds to this part of it shall be held even by our Mother. As Senator Chataway has said, when a young man leaves the paternal roof and acquires property of his own-
– And borrows money from the old man.
– He may even borrow money from the old man, and in time of difficulty be willing to leave his title deeds under the old roof ; yet the time may still come when he will say I should like to possess my deeds myself. In such a case, unless the parents were of a very cantankerous disposition, they would probably hand over the deeds. I think that the log and journals of the Endeavour, recording the hoisting of the Union Jack, and the taking possession of the whole of the eastern part of Australia in the name of King George, for the British Crown, may be regarded as chronicling the start of our history, of our ownership. It is in that light that I regard these original documents as our title deeds. It would probably be of no service to us to flaunt them in the face of a foreign nation that came here in order to dispossess us; but they give us some consciousness of having a moral right and, indeed, a legal right to the country, because, although effective occupation is essential to holding our own, still, when we run up our flag, we declare that we are in possession. It is an evidence of our right to effectively occupy. That is my answer to Senators Pulsford and McColl, whose observations in respect to enlarging the scope of the proposed investigation were most pertinent and interesting. But I do not wish to enlarge the scope of my proposals. I take the view which was so well expressed by Senator Chataway, that we ought to do one thing at a time. Let us first get the documents which form the title to our estate. The fewer we specify the more likely are we to concentrate attention upon them, and the greater will be our claim to them. 1 listened with great interest to Senator de Largie’s observations in regard to early Australian maritime records. It is true that many of the old navigators of Australia were foreign navigators, but they are nevertheless heroes of Australian history. Such men as Torres, Bass, and Van Diemen-
– And La Perouse.
– The mention of La. Perouse leads me to mention that South Australia was within an ace of becoming a French province, and that St. Vincent’s Gulf was actually named by a French navigator the Gulf Josephine.
– There is a French map of South Australia.
– Yes ; and particularly - of Kangaroo Island, where the names of a number of capes and places- remain French to this day. Possibly, an application for historical records of value to us would be received with favour by France; but I doubt it. When we ask that country to supply us with documents which constitute our title deeds to Australia, its Government may say “ We decline to give you those documents, because one day they may be our title deeds to Australia.’.’ They may regard us as interlopers. At the same time I feel sure that the Government will not lose sight of what Senator de Largie said in this connexion. I happen to be a member of the Library Committee - that is why I did not mention the matter previously - but I wish to say that that body is rendering the greatest possible service to Australia in collecting valuable documents relating to its early history. From the very establishment of the Federation special attention has been devoted to this work, and, as honorable senators are aware, a most valuable addition was recently made to our archives in the shape of the Petherick collection. I was very glad to hear the letter from Mr. Petherick, which was read by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The interest which that gentleman takes in this matter is evidenced by the collection which he himself made, and which has now passed over to the Commonwealth. At the same time I cannot agree with Senator St. Ledger that we ought to create a new Department. My honorable friend would make an excellent historiographer royal himself. But I do not think that we are quite ripe for the appointment of a royal historian, and I feel sure that the interests of the ‘Commonwealth in that regard are perfectly safe in the hands of the Library Committee and of the Government. My sole object in submitting this motion was to strengthen the hands of the Government in preferring the request which it suggests, and, by identifying the documents which we desire, to pave” the way for a favorable reception of that request. My hope and belief is that before long the Commonwealth will be in possession of the title deeds to our country. Senator Keating has just mentioned to me that there are 199 volumes of Australian exploration in the University at Caen, Normandy, amongst which are some of the journals of Captain Flinders. We all know that Flinders was treated with great harshness by Napoleon Bonaparte, who had him imprisoned in Mauritius for a long time, and despoiled of his journals and charts, owing to the jealousy engendered by his navigation of these waters and his interference with attempted French settlement here. I am glad that we all take a patriotic view of this matter, and that we are about to take a step towards securing evidence of our right to be here.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– Will you, Mr. President, have it recorded in the
Journals that the motion was carried unanimously.
– There is no objection to that being done.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.49]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
My task on this occasion will be a very brief one, because the amendments of the law which I seek are of a very limited character. At the same time the scope of those amendments is larger than their phraseology indicates. I wish to point out that there is a very considerable difference between the Old-Age Pensions Act, which was previously operative in New South Wales, and the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act of the Commonwealth, in respect of a matter of great importance - that of thrift. I regret that the latter Act is absolutely opposed to the encouragement of thrift. It penalizes those who have been thrifty by reducing their pensions if they are possessed of any accumulated property. I hold in my hand a letter from the Commonwealth Old-Age Pensions Office, Sydney, which shows how paragraphs a and b - which I desire to amend by substituting the word “ fifteen “ for “ ten “ - operate. The letter has reference to an aged lady, of eighty-nine years, who, under the New South Wales law, formerly received a pension of .£10 a year. But because she has a small income which is derived from a lodger - the house seems to be managed by her daughter, who is sixtyfive years of age - her pension has been reduced to £2 per annum. The letter from the Deputy Commissioner reads -
The pensioner lives in the house in question and takes in a boarder, consequently it returns income to her, and under the Commonwealth
Act, which provides after the statutory exemption is made, for the deduction of £1 in £10 of the balance as against the State deduction of £1in £15per pension was reduced to £1 per annum.
Because this old lady, in her earlier days, has became possessed of a small cottage in which she is eking out her declining years, the miserable pension of £10 per annum which she formerly received from the State has been reduced to the absurd sum of £2 per annum by the Commonwealth.
SenatorMillen.- But the fact that the honorable senator’s Bill dates back the more liberal allowance that he proposes to make, is an important consideration.
. -I take the opportunity of saying a few words, as my name has been mentioned as that of the only member of the Opposition present. I am very glad indeed that the Bill has not been brought forward by a member of the Opposition, because, if that had been the case, it would have been- said to-morrow that we had introduced the subject for advertising purposes, or for “ stone- walling. “ But, as the measure has emanated from a Ministerial supporter. I have no doubt that the intention is quite correct. My principal reason for rising is, however, to refer to a South Australian case which 1 mentioned to the Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday. I shall for the present withhold the name of the person affected. I have known him for a number of years. He is nearly seventy years of age. He applied for an old-age pension. After waiting several months, he was told that he could get a pension of 3s. 4½d. per week. He informed me that he had written frequently to Mr. Gardiner, who is in charge of the old-age pensions work in South Australia, asking why the amount fixed by Parliament had been so reduced ; but no notice was taken- of his communication. Therefore it fell to my lot on Tuesday last, before I left Adelaide, to interview Mr. Gardiner on the subject. He admitted in his return that last year he had earned £30 and had a daughter who owned a property. She was kind to her father ; she did not turn him- out of her home, but allowed him to remain and kept him. For that reason £13 was deducted from his pension. If he had paid 5s. a week for the accommodation he would have been entitled to that amount. But, because the accommodation was provided by his kind daughter, its value was accounted to him as income. His income was put down at £30 from personal exertion in the previous year, and at£13, being the value of the accommodation provided by his daughter, so £9 per annum was all that he could possibly be allowed as a pension. This is the statement of the Deputy Commissioner. If the leader of the Senate wishes I can reveal the name. If it is said that the intention of this Parliament when it passed the law, is being carried out, I shall be very much astonished.
– Would it not be as well for the honorable senator to read the letter and give us all particulars?
– I do not intend to read the letter.
– Give us all the particulars ?
– The honorable senator knows something about the case. I have no axe to grind. What I want to know is whether the treatment of this old man is according to the law or the regulations thereunder. Is it a fair thing, I ask honorable senators, that an old man should be deprived of a pension of 5s. a week simply on the ground that he has been furnished with accommodation of that value by his own daughter ? Suppose, for instance, that one of my daughters said to me, “ Father, come and stay with us and share our last crust,” would it be a fair thing to deprive me of the sum of 5s. a -week ?
– The value of the last crust is not estimated at . £100 a year.
– Not £100 a vear, but . £100 worth of property.
– The pensioner I refer to has no property, but is living in his daughter’s property. I hardly think that any honorable senator will say that “in that case the Act has been interpreted in a fair or liberal manner.
– I think that the honorable senator ought to read the letter and let us know all the circumstances.
– I am prepared to quote the words which the Deputy Commissioner addressed to me. He said, “The property -was not in question at all, nor were the few sheep on the place. The man admitted in black and white that in the previous year he had earned £30, and that he had a benefit of £13 a year because his daughter kept him for nothing, and, therefore, under the Act the Commonwealth deducted from his pension the 5s. to ‘which otherwise he would have been entitled.”
– Really it is a magisterial decision; it is of no use to blame the Commonwealth.
– That is the way in which the law is administered.
– That is not the way in which it. should be administered.
– Is this the case which the honorable senator promised yesterday to give me particulars of?
– Yes. When I asked the Deputy Commissioner whether the case could be re-opened he said “ No, it will be useless to re-open the case ; but in June next an opportunity will occur, and then every case may be re-opened. Unless there is some development, this case is settled for the time being on the basis of last year’s income.”
– Can he not make a new application within six months?
– The Deputy Commissioner said that it would not be wise for him to do so, and that he would have to wait a certain time. The poor old man says in his letter, as Senator Mulcahy knows very well-
– The honorable senator allowed me to read the letter, which I think he should read to the Senate.
– I have no object to serve in not reading the letter. I have quoted its contents. Why should I name the individual concerned?
– I do not want the honorable senator to name the man, but merely to read his letter ; it does not matter what his name is.
– It is the administration which is at fault. I have not overstated the case by a sentence or a syllable; I want the leader of the Senate to say whether in his opinion the Act has been administered in this case in the liberal spirit which Parliament intended.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Debate resumed (from page 3924), on motion! by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a measure which I think should commend itself to the Senate. The objection may be raised that it will increase the cost of the representation of Australia in London, but I do not hold that view. There may be some extra expense on the part of the Commonwealth, but that will be more than compensated for by the large saving which will be made by having a responsible head to look after
Australian finance and commercial matters. When one recalls the statements which were made to the people when it was proposed to establish the Commonwealth, one can only marvel at the length of time which has elapsed before this measure has been brought forward. I can recall eloquent speeches made by various gentlemen who paraded Queensland on behalf of Federation. I well remember the people being told that the time was not far distant when Australia, instead of speaking with six voices in London, would speak through one individual. I suppose that nearly every member of this Parliament has had that ideal before his. mind ever since Federation was accomplished. But it is only at this late moment that we are getting a close grip of the question. The Government have very wisely refrained from suggesting who should be High Commissioner.
– The name of the High Commissioner should not be put in the Bill. Our first duty is to supply the machinery, and afterwards to catch the mouse.
– Who is the mouse?
– The honorable senator would make an excellent mouse.
– But I arn, not the mouse this time.
– There are times when the senator even suggests that he is a rat.
– The honorable senator is big enough to be a good rat.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to discontinue these interjections.
– I think it is time that the Government did bring down a Bill to provide the machinery for the office of High Commissioner so as to enable an appointment to be made as early as possible. There are a hundred and one reasons why Australia should have a representative in London. The transfer to the Commonwealth of the debts of the States is a matter which must be settled before very long, and in connexion with that matter we shall require the services of a man of financial ability as High Commissioner in London. It seems to me that matters of finance will be amongst the most important with which the High Commissioner will have to deal. It would be like putting the cart before the horse to take over the debts of the States before appointing a High Commissioner. There are now before Parliament certain very important naval and military proposals, which will involve the expenditure of very large sums of money in the course of a very few years, and in connexion with that matter also we shall require the. services of an able representative in London.
– We have a very good man at the head of affairs now.
– There are any number of good men in the country ; but I remind Senator de Largie that three or four years ago Senator Pearce stated that Captain Collins had been a failure in London. I could turn up day and date for the statement.
– I may have said something like that then, but I have changed my opinion very much since.
– I am very glad to hear that since the honorable senator has been in office as Minister of Defence he has changed his opinion in this connexion.
– Did the honorable senator change his opinion because he was in office?
– I take it that the honorable senator changed his opinion because, while he was in office, he was afforded opportunities to obtain information which he did not possess before. I do not blame the honorable senator for having changed his opinion. I say that, whatever Captain Collins’ abilities may be, we require a bigger man, a man with a greater range of experience than one who is merely an ordinary civil servant.
– It is not very complimentary to a man who has done his duty to describe him as a mere civil servant.
– I have yet to learn that it is an insult to any man to call him a mere civil servant. If I were comparing, for instance, a public servant with Senator de Largie, I might refer to one as a mere civil servant, while I recognised the other as an elected representative of the people. I consider that the High Commissioner should be a representative of the people.
– He will not be an elected representative of the people.
– When the Bill gets- into Committee, the honorable senator will be able to propose an amendment to have the High Commissioner elected. It is no part of my business to explain to the honorable senator how he can do that. I thank honorable senators for their interjections, as they have helped me over the few minutes it was necessary .1 should occupy in .supporting the second reading of the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
.- It is quite certain that at some time or another the Commonwealth must have a High Commissioner in London. Whether the psychological moment for his appointment has now arrived is really the question before the Senate. The Vice-President of the Executive Council answered very goodnaturedly, and effectively from his point of view, the numerous questions I put to him while he was moving the second reading of the Bill. I put those questions because every candidate for election to the Federal Convention that framed the Constitution voiced the opinion that by the appointment of a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth a great deal of State expenditure in London might be saved. It was said that if a High Commissioner were appointed, the State Agents-General would, as a matter of course, no longer be required.
– Nor will they.
– I am satisfied that we shall not require six Agents-General and a High Commissioner as well. But if we are to continue in the course which we are at present following, and if some of my honorable friends are to continue their efforts to show that the States and the Commonwealth are absolutely different, and that the sooner their financial relations are separated the better, I am not so sure that we can look for any saving from’ the appointment of a High Commissioner. It appears to me that the financial interests of the States and the Commonwealth are one and the same, and I am therefore unable to take the view which some honorable senators take on this question. In appointing a High Commissioner now, contrary to the will of some of the State Governments, and without, I think, the approbation of any of them, we shall be violating the promises made by those who were elected as members of the Federal Convention.
– Would the honorable senator propose to abolish the State Agents-General first and appoint a High Commissioner afterwards ?
– No, but I think that at the various Premiers’ Conferences which were attended by Federal Ministers something should have been done to settle the question which we are now discussing. Some effort should have been made to discover whether on the appointment of a High Commissioner the State Governments would be prepared to transfer to him someof the duties now carried out by their Agents-General, or whether they “ would continue to be separately represented in London. Apart from the financial question, there is, I think,, no other subject on which there should have been- a freer exchange of opinions between the representatives of the States and the Commonwealth at the Conferences to which I have referred. To a great extent, the duties we require to have performed in London are duties in which we are all interested. It is impossible to separate the interests of great States like New South Wales and Queensland from those of the Commonwealth. The. matters to which the States, great and small, must give attention in London are matters with which the High Commissioner will have to deal on behalf of the Commonwealth. The VicePresident of the Executive Council said that the appointment of a High Commissioner is a natural outcome of Federation. I quite agree with the honorable senator, if at the same time an effort is made to redeem the pledges given to those who elected the members of the Federal Convention. The Commonwealth is subject to good and bad years, to times of wealth and prosperity, and times of terrible depression due to drought, and will any honorable senator tell me that it is a commonsense or business-like proposal to create a seventh Department in London to look after our affairs there. I may be told that if we make this appointment, the State Governments will join us in the matter, but I know that officers holding high salaried and honorable positions at the other end of the world, in which they are brought into contact with the most charming associations, are in possession of billets that could not easily be done away with. I. should like to know why some determined effort was not made at the Premiers’ Conferences, and especially at the one recently held, to have this matter threshed out. The Commonwealth representatives had a right to ask how far the representatives of the States would approve of the appointment of a High. Commissioner, and to what extent they would be prepared to make use of his services in order to economize in the expenditure on their London Departments, and the representatives of the States would, I think, have been bound to reply.
– The State Agents-General have furnished some information on the point.
– They are not in a position to say to what extent the various State Governments are prepared to hand over their functions to a High Commissioner.
– The honorable senator is aware that we cannot coerce the States.
– We certainly cannot coerce them.
– We can furnish the means by which they could reduce their expenditure.
– And the people will make them take advantage of those means.
– We are drawing a bow at a venture. I admit that to me the most interesting part of the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council was that in which he said he felt certain that if a good man were appointed, and central offices established, the State Governments would be encouraged to transfer certain of their functions to the High Commissioner. I think, however, that the honorable senator must admit that the State Governments are not at present very strongly in favour of this appointment. We know that a certain amount of State jealousy exists because people have not yet recognised that we are absolutely one and indissoluble. Whilst this feeling of jealousy continues, although one or two of’ the Governments of the States might agree to transfer their business to the High- Commissioner, others might refuse to do so, might continue their separate London offices, and even pay increased salaries to their representatives. That would bring about a condition of affairs contrary to that which we desire to bring about by the appointment of a High . Commissioner.
– A State Government might appoint two Agents-General, but they are not likely to do so.
– When honorable senators consider the duties which the High Commissioner will have to perform, they will see that there is something in my argument. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that the value of the trade between Australia and Great Britain is about j£6o, 000,000, and that sometimes false prejudices arise amongst the people of Great Britain, due to misconceptions and misrepresentations which a High Commissioner could correct. The six Agents-General of the different States are able men, and politicians with a great knowledge of their respective States. They possess collectively a knowledge of Australia which no one man could be expected to have, and I have been astounded that it has never entered the minds of Federal Ministers to ask the State Agents-General to meet once or twice a week, or daily,’ if necessary, as a Council of Advice for Australia. Surely these men would be in a position to correct am misrepresentation of the kind referred to?
– Suppose the misrepresentation arose in connexion with a mat- ter on which the New South Wales Government proposed to take a judgment of the High Court as to its constitutionality, could we ask the New South Wales AgentGeneral to correctly voice Australian sentiment upon that matter?
– These men are on the spot in London, and I do not see why we should not make use of them, to correct misrepresentations, and to allay false prejudices in connexion with questions of trade. » During the past nine years they ought to have been meeting in conference once a week for the purpose of .discussing these points, and of correcting any misrepresentation of Australia. As a matter of fact, I believe that every such misrepresentation which has been made public, and which has been- calculated to injure Australia, has been corrected. The gentleman who usually replies to these misrepresentations is Mr. Coghlan, the Agent-General of New South Wales, who is a most efficient statistician. But under the plan which I have outlined, Mr. Coghlan might have been deputed to reply to questions which required the possession of statistical knowledge, whilst another Agent-General might have been authorized to answer questions relating to the lands of Australia, and so on. I cannot conceive that any man whom we may choose on behalf of the Commonwealth will be able to do more in this direction than the six AgentsGeneral. The Vice-President of the Executive Council next touched upon the question of immigration, and here, I think, his arguments were extremely weak. He said that in connexion with any scheme of immigra- tion which we may adopt, the policy of the Commonwealth would be to obtain British, immigrants, and he then declared that no better - he afterwards said “no other” - officer could be intrusted with their selection than the High Commissioner. That may be a very good argument to use in a law Court, but it is not one which he should address to the wise senators whom he sees around him.
– What I meant to convey was that if this Parliament decides to give effect to a policy of immigration, the carrying out of that policy must be under the control of our own officer.
-I am getting more mixed than ever. I do not understand how the Commonwealth can undertake a policy of immigration, seeing that it does not own a single acre of land.
– The honorable senator supported a vote of £20,000 to advertise its resources.
– I do not know that I supported it, but I certainly made a grab at a portion of that money on the first available opportunity. Tasmania - owing to the shortage in her revenue, consequent upon Federation - has not sufficient funds, to provide her people with a perfect system of education, or to embark upon any scheme of immigration. Therefore, when this Parliament voted £20,000 for the purpose of advertising Australia, one of the first acts of the Tasmanian Tourists’ Association, of which I am President, was to ask the Prime Minister to grant it a couple of hundred pounds. Every State but- Tasmania has embarked upon a system of immigration. They have their own agencies abroad, they grant assisted passages to immigrants, and in every way they give effect to their own policies. When the VicePresident of the Executive Council says that the selection of suitable immigrants - after the Commonwealth has adopted an immigration policy - must be in the hands of the High Commissioner, I ask him how the Commonwealth can adopt such a policy ? It is an anomalous position for the Commonwealth to say to the States : “ If you will find us the land, we will find you the men.” Where is the sense underlying any such proposal? If the Commonwealth Parliament chooses to “ vote £100,000 to advertise the resources of Australia, I will guarantee that every penny of it will be expended in cracking up the resources of the States by means of the publication and distribution of pamphlets.
This is an unbusinesslike proposal upon which we should put our foot. I have no belief in a divided policy. I do not believe in employing six men to do the work of one man; neither do I believe in retaining the services of six Agents-General and of appointing a seventh representative of Australia, when the Agents- General can do the work which has been intrusted to them better than could the High Commissioner.
– The honorable senator thinks that before the High Commissioner is appointed all the States should agree to come under his segis ?
– I should like to have some assurance of that kind.
– That was the policy of the Reid-McLean Government.
– It was the policy of every candidate for the Federal Convention.
– It was the policy of the Convention that the High Commissioner’s appointment should be preceded by an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States.
– We all talked about the saving which would be effected by the appointment of a High Commissioner.
– Very rash . promises were made in those days.
– Whatever promises were made have not been respected, and past Governments have not attempted to bring the Commonwealth into line with the States in this connexion. While I was in London I heard with very great pleasure of the proposal to purchase a site for Commonwealth offices there. I inspected the suggested site with Captain Collins, and I certainly regarded it as a most central one.
– Is that why the honorable senator voted against it?
– I voted against the proposal on. the ground that the price demanded for the site was too high. 1 thought that by purchasing a site the Commonwealth would lay the foundation of a policy of which we all might be proud - a policy under which we should have a High Commissioner, and the services of the AgentsGeneral would be dispensed with. I thought that Commercial Agents would be appointed for the States, that they would all be housed in the one office, and that people in the Old Country would be able to go to that office for all information about the States arid about Australia generally. Unfortunately, we could not come to terms with the vendors in respect of that particular site. In the interval the late Sir Thomas Pent purchased a part of the site on behalf of Victoria, and the AgentGeneral of this State is now housed there. Since then Queensland has acquired offices elsewhere, and Western Australia has completed arrangements for the accommodation of its representative in London. As a result, the Agents-General and the States are not taking the slightest interest in the appointment of a High Commissioner, so that it appears to me that despite his appointment they will continue to act just as they do now.
– And the honorable senator is doing his best to insure their continuing to act in that way. He is a great States Righter.
– Surely the whole tenor of my speech is evidence that I do not wish to retain the Agents-General in London. Does not my honorable friend think that his interjection savours of an impertinence? He must permit me to put my own construction upon my actions. When I am’ making a speech every sentence of which means that I do not desire to continue the Agents-General in London, it is a piece of gross impertinence for any honorable senator to declare that I do. We have been told that another duty of the High Commissioner will be to watch the legislation that is enacted by the Commonwealth. Can a High Commissioner discharge that duty better than can six Agents-General, especially if one of the latter is a high-class cultured lawyer, and the High Commissioner is not? Why should not our Agents-General meet together weekly for the purpose of ascertaining what the public of London think of Commonwealth legislation ?
– Why not have a Conference of the Agents-General?
– I am talking of a weekly meeting of those officers with a view to conserving the interests of Australia. Only this afternoon I heard some nonsense talked to the effect that the Agents-General are not elected by the people. I say that indirectly they are elected by the people. They are appointed by the Ministries of the day, who represent a majority of the electors, and who enjoy their confidence. It is so much nonsense - so much hypocritical Democracy - to say that the Agents-General do not represent the people. I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not really mean that our legislation can . be watched better by the High Commissioner than it can be by the Agents-General. I think, too, that he made some reference to that much debated legislation - the Immigration Restriction Act. By each mail the Agents-General might have reported what was the public opinion of that Act in London.
– But we have no control over those officers.
– The interjection of the honorable senator reminds me of the position taken up by Sir William Lyne, who declared that he could not pay State officers a commission to exercise supervision over Commonwealth works, but that he must have officers of his own. I have no’ * sympathy with that sort of policy. Are the Commonwealth and the States to be separated in every possible way ? ‘ Is there never to be joint action? How long will the taxpayers stand that sort of business?
– We must surely have control over the Agents- General before we can order them to do things.
– My argument is that those gentlemen could have watched the Commonwealth legislation and have reported to us weekly the opinion of that legislation which existed in the Old Country. I do not see that we want to exercise any .control over them. What we require is the opinion of the English people upon our legislation. I think it is rather a pity that this Parliament should ‘ require to be watched in regard to its legislation. But that it does need to be watched is clearly evidenced by its action in placing upon our statute-book the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act and the Trade Marks Act, both of which have been declared to be unconstitutional. Those measures would never have been approved by men who had the faintest knowledge of what the provisions of the Constitution mean.
– The honorable senator is not very complimentary to the legal members of this Parliament.
– I am referring to two Acts which were passed by considerable majorities in this Parliament, andwhich have since been declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution. The Vice-President of the Executive Council went on to. point out that information could be distributed through the instrumentality of the High Commissioner.
But could one man in one office distribute information about Australia better than six men in six offices? My honorable friend argued that there is at present some conflict between the information disseminated. Probably that is so. When a State issues a leaflet about its tourist resorts, I dare say it is inclined to make comparisons at the expense of other States. But because leaflets have been issued advising people to go to Queensland, which is beautifully warm, instead of to a snowy place like Tasmania, no harm is done, and even if we had a High Commissioner he could not prevent the circulation of information of that character. My honorable friend also urged that the High Commissioner would transact a large amount of business for the Defence Department. No doubt that is so. But the States will still have a great amount of work to do in London for their railways, and will have to maintain agents for that purpose. It is possible that New South Wales may maintain in London as big an office as we have, and, if that should be the case, it is likely enough that many people will think that New South Wales is Australia. We are told that because Canada has one office for her High Commissioner, that establishment is known as the centre of information about Canada. I should like to see the same sort of thing done in regard to Australia. But it is prevented by the want of harmony between the Commonwealth and the States. I am glad that Senator Pearce has altered his estimate of Captain Collins.
– I do not know that I have altered my estimate of him, because I have no recollection of ever making any remarks to Captain Collins’ detriment.
– As far as I could ascertain when I was in London, Captain Collins is a very efficient officer. He is not paid a high salary, and does his work in an admirable manner. His Department is costing us £5,000 a year, and I presume that the Department which the Government propose to establish will cost . £10,000 more, making the total cost of the High Commissioner’s Office £15,000 a year. The Canadian High Commissioner’s Office costs £6,600 a year. He receives a salary of £2,000 a year ; an allowance, presumably for travelling expenses, of £400 a year.; an allowance towards cost of residence of £240 a year; and his secretary is paid £660 a year. There are also three clerks, an assistant secretary, and two or three messengers. The rent of the office is £1,300 a year, and contingencies amount to £400 a year.
– Lord Strathcona is now paid a salary of £3,500 a year.
– We cannot hope to be as fortunate as Canada is in getting a wealthy man to occupy the position.
– I have no sympathy with sending a man to London as a figurehead. We ought not to pay the High Commissioner a high salary to enable him to entertain and keep up a big residence. Probably, unless we provide in the Bill that he shall keep up a house, he will pocket the house allowance and live in rooms at a convenient hotel !
– The Bill provides against that.
– I shall conclude my observations by reading from the last part of the report of Mr. Justice Hodges.
– What is the date of that report?
– It is dated 1901, and carries us back to a period twelve months after the establishment of the Commonwealth.
– It shows, that even eight years ago a fairly competent authority considered that we ought to have a High Commissioner.
– Mr. Justice Hodges wrote -
The extent to which the High Commissioner’s office should supersede that of the various Agents-General for Australia is one that should seriously occupy the attention of the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the various States.
That is the very point for which I am contending. The matter has not been considered by the Commonwealth and the States. Mr. Justice Hodges is there advancing the argument which I have used to-night.
It may be that it is most desirable that the High Commissioner at first should not interfere with the other offices. He should get his own staff organized, his office in working order, and then see how far he can discharge the duties now discharged by the officers of the various Agents-General.
That is all very fine and seems very pleasant, but we shall bedependent upon what view the States take of our office, and of the efficiency of our High Commissioner, as to whether the Agents-General are going to be superseded in any way.
Except in so far as there should be Interstate conflict or conflict between the Government of the Commonwealth and that of a State requiring separate representation, all the diplomatic work can be arranged by one person.
In diplomatic matters I quite agree that Australia ought to speak with one mind and one voice.
As to the financial work, it would be an advantage if it were all transacted by one person, as care would be taken not to make the Boating of loans conflict. On the other hand a State might object that a Commissioner subordinated State for Commonwealth business.
The practical suggestion which I have to make here is that until the State debts are taken over by .the Commonwealth, and there is really some important financial work for the High Commissioner to transact, he should not be ^appointed1. A clause should be inserted .in this Bill, providing that the High Commissioner shall not be appointed until the debts are taken over. The arranging for the transfer of the debts will be the most important work this officer will have to do, and until that takes place I contend that there is no business to be transacted which would justify the appointment of a High Commissioner with a Department costing £15,000 a year.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at that figure?
– It is merely an estimate. As I have already shown, the Department at present managed by Captain Collins is costing .£5,000 a year, and the additional Department of the High Commissioner will cost £10,000 extra. Mr. Justice Hodges also wrote -
There seems to be no reason why the mercantile and social matters should not be attended to by one person.
What mercantile matters are there which urgently require the appointment of a High Commissioner ? As regards social matters, I think that we might leave them out of the question. They will take care of themselves -
With the Intelligence Department there is more difficulty, as the policy of the States seems to be different in respect to the desire for immigrants, but this might be managed by any State who wanted that business pushed, having some officer to do this work and some space in the office for which that State might pay.
It is there pointed out in the report that there may be a difficulty in the High Commissioner managing immigration. Mr. Justice Hodges does not touch the point that we have no right to deal with the land, or to send immigrants to take up the land. But he says that there may be some conflict, and some States may not approve of the policy adopted, and may want to have their own representative in the High Commissioner’s Office, in order to push their particular business. Of course they will, and that is what I want to see.
– How does the honorable senator propose to do that?
– I cannot make my meaning any plainer than I have done. I have occupied more time than I intended to do. I shall consider very seriously whether it is not desirable to provide in the Bill that the High Commissioner shall not be appointed until the State debts have been taken over by the Commonwealth.
– Coming from- Senator Dobson, the last speech was intensely interesting. When honorable senators, particularly those on this side, have attempted to get the powers- of this Parliament extended in any particular, he has been one of the foremost in denouncing them as unificationists. If it is suggested for a moment that there is any State power which this Parliament could exercise, or that some State functions should be surrendered to the Commonwealth, we are at once charged with endeavouring to hasten unification. Yet, during the whole of his speech this evening, the honorable senator laboriously pointed out that the offices of the AgentsGeneral in the United Kingdom could, and should, be abolished if a High Commissioner is appointed. If that is not proposing what . we have been endeavouring to do, I do not know what is. I do not think that the appointment of a High Commissioner will tend to unification, but I am quite certain that if that argument had been used from this side we should have heard cries about unification, especially from Senator Dobson. This is a belated Bill, which should have been passed years ago. It has my cordial support, because 1 think it is quite time that we had a High Commissioner.
– Does the honorable senator think that the time is ripe for making an appointment?
– In my opinion, the time is- rotten-ripe. The Commonwealth has suffered in many ways from not having in London a representative ether than our official representative, Captain Collins. Senator Chataway mentioned in his speech that four years ago I said that Captain Collins was unfit for the position which he was occupying in London. I dare say that, like many other honorable senators, I have said things which, perhaps, were foolish. I certainly have no recollection of having made the statement which Senator Chataway attributed to me, but if 1 did say anything of the sort - and 1 should like the honorable senator to produce his proof - I did Captain Collins a great injustice. I suppose that while I was Minister of Defence I had more to do with that officer than had any other Minister, owing to the fact that during the recess he had to deal more particularly with defence matters. I found that he was not only an enthusiastic, but a painstaking and remarkably capable man in his position. The correspondence satisfied me that in Captain Collins we have an officer of whom we might very well be proud, and one who is doing remarkably good work for the Commonwealth.
– The memorandum 1 read this afternoon disclosed that £300,000 passes through his hands every year.
– Yes. The position of Captain Collins is, I feel sure, by no means a sinecure, but he dees undoubted, display remarkable energy. I must say that whilst I was Minister. of Defence he treated defence matters for the Department in a most admirable “and business-like fashion.
– Within the scope of the duties devolving upon him he is a most excellent officer.
– Why displace him?
– Captain Collins discharged his duties in an admirable manner, but it should be pointed out that those duties were’ of a strictly Departmental character, and not of the representative character which would attach to the office of High Commissioner. I express no opinion as to how Captain Collins has carried out certain duties which he has been called upon to perform, and which, in ordinary circumstances, would fall to the lot of a High Commissioner. On that point I express no opinion, and the opinion I have expressed has to do entirely with Departmental work, which, I repeat, he did in a most admirable fashion. Whilst I think that the appointment of a High Commissioner could well have been made at any time during the history of Federation. I venture to say that there never was a time, when the question has been so pressing as it is to-day. For handling the question of the State debts and the defence question we require a man of eminent skill, ability, and influence, with a good grasp of Australian affairs. We require a man of that type in London now as we never required him before.
– What will the High Commissioner have to do with the State debts ?
– If this Parliament is not prepared to deal with the transfer of the State debts, I am satisfied that the next Parliament will receive such a mandate from the people, that that question will have to be dealt with. I am convinced that if Parliament does not act, it will find that public opinion is moving, and that it will be forced to act. Then, as regards the defence question, I look upon the recent Conference in England as merely the foundation-stone on which an edifice has to be reared, and the success of the whole scheme will largely depend upon the capacity of the man who will represent the Commonwealth. He must be, not merely an official, but a man who is in touch with the political life and aspirations of Australia, in order that he may be able to correctly represent to the Imperial Government and the Imperial Departments the true opinion and the true desire of Australia in the working out of that great scheme, which was barely outlined at the Imperial Defence. Conference. That important matter brooks of no delay. Next we have the question of immigration. I believe that there can be no effective immigration without dealing with the land question ; but we must have an immigration policy before we can have a defence policy. That the former means a land policy, I am well aware. At the same time,- when we have dealt, or are dealing, with the land policy, we want, side by side with it, an effective immigration policy - that is, a policy which will bring to us the right class of immigrant, to the right place, and at the right time. That means organization in Great Britain and on the Continent. To secure that organization, we must have an organizer, and he is not to be found every clay. Next, there is the question of trade. Our export trade to-day, great as it is, is only in its infancy. When one remembers the gigantic schemes of land settlement and irrigation which every State is proposing, and which will add immeasurably to our export trade ; when one recognises that we have merely touched the fringe of the European markets, that apples sent to the Continent have realized better prices there than even in England, one must realize that we have an elastic market for all our exports, which is practically unexploited. There we must have organization to find the markets and the way to enter them, and, in order that our local Departments may be kept in touch with the London Department for the purpose of opening up this trade.
– May I say that the States are doing all this work now.
– The States are not doing this work to the extent to which it ought to be done ; but merely in a limited fashion. My ideal of a High Commissioner is that he should be the political ambassador of the Commonwealth and of the States collectively, and that attached to him each State should have its commercial and business agent to push its products; all to be guided, fashioned, and directed by the High Commissioner. That is what I believe the people will compel the States to do. I have a good deal of sympathy with Senator Dobson in one respect. We know that there is a possibility of the people’s desire being thwarted in this matter, as it was thwarted in the matter of the State Governors. I am satisfied that 95 per cent, of the people who voted for Federation thought that they were going to have one Governor-General, and that the State Governors were to be abolished ; but their will has been thwarted; and it may be that the jealousy of the State and Federal politicians may thwart the realization of my ideal of a High Commissioner ; but I am convinced that, sooner or later, the people’s will will be expressed in no uncertain way. Senator Dobson remarked that some of the statements made in this debate were “ so much hypocritical Democracy “ - a rather startling phrase, I thought. So far, the only speakers have been the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the Government Whip. I do not know which of them was the representative of a “ hypocritical Democracy.” But it seems that Senator Dobson was alluding to a statement which had been made that the High Commissioner should be elected by the Parliament.
– No; elected by the people.
– I did not say so; but somebody else did.
– On the 14th September, 1905, the Senate resolved -
That resolution was carried by fifteen votes to ten ; and the majority included some honorable senators who are now . sitting behind Senator Millen.
– Has the honorable senator the division list?
– Did I not vote rightly ?
– The honorable senator, fortunately for1 himself today,voted on the side of the “ Noes.” Amongst those who voted for the motion were Senators Fraser and Gray, Senator Macfarlane announced his intention of supporting the motion ; but he was absent when the division took place. The proposal was also supported by Senator Sir William Zeal, and, of course, by the members of the Labour party. I do not ‘know whether Senators Gray and Fraser were the “ hypocritical Democrats “ to whom my honorable friend alluded.
– Did the other House concur in the resolution?
– I do not think that it ever took any action. The Bill, as a machinery Bill, is probably as perfect as it could be, but the great difficulty in the matter is as to the person who is to be appointed High Commissioner. No matter what Government were in power, it is very likely they would make such an appointment for political purposes. That is one of the dangers of Democracy, or of any other form of government.
– Not so much of Democracy as of party government.
– We should hope that, in such a matter as the appointment of a High Commissioner, any Government would try to rise superior to party environment and prejudice, because the consequences of a bad or ill-judged appointment would be so disastrous.
SenaforSt. Ledger. - The honorable senator does not mean that a politician should be debarred from appointment.
– No; I have absolutely no sympathy with that proposition. I think, on the contrary, that a politician should be appointed, because he would be more likely to be in touch and sympathy with the political sentiment of the country. We should have no means of judging, in the case of the appointment of a man who was not a politician, whether he was in touch with that sentiment. The appointment I should like to see made would be that of a man who is in touch with present day Australian opinion. I shall not refer to any names, but the names of certain persons have been mentioned in connexion with this appointment, who are not, I am afraid, in sympathy with up-to-date Australian opinion. I think that, at all events, the man first appointed to this position should be in the full vigour of life, and one who has not passed the meridian of his abilities.
– What age would the honorable senator say that was?
– I should not attempt to fix an arbitrary age. Some men are old at fifty, but I suppose that Senator Walker will be smiling and jolly at 100 years of age just as he is to-day. Having in view the weakness of human nature, and the fact that the members of the present Government possess their full share of its frailties, I think they should give an early intimation of the person to be appointed to this position in order that Parliament may have an opportunity, if it thinks fit, to express an opinion on the appointment.
– Before the Bill is passed ?
– I do not say that, but Parliament should be given an opportunity to express an opinion. I know I shall be met with the statement that the Government making the appointment will take the responsibility of their action. That is a good old gag, which we know means nothing.
– It is inseparable from party government.
– We know that if the appointment is made after this Parliament is dissolved, it will be useless for the next Parliament to enter any protest. The High Commissioner will then be established in London, and he should not be recalled except for some very weighty reason. In view of the fact that the Government will be called upon to make this appointment for the first time, they would be well advised in pushing on with the Bill and disclosing the name of the gentleman appointed in time to give Parliament an opportunity to express an opinion upon the appointment. The Government appear to have a majority in both Houses of this Parliament, and they have nothing to fear from the adoption of such a course as I suggest. If the proposed appointment were such as would not command the support of a majority inboth Houses, it would be most regrettable if nothing could be done to prevent it.
– The honorable senator implies that a purely party choice will be made.
– I do not for a moment think that any one on this side will be appointed. I am almost certain that some member of the Government party in either the Senate or the House of Representatives will secure the appointment, and I may say that there are members of the party in both Houses whose appointment I should be prepared to cordially support. I recognise that this will be a party appointment, and while I should not object to it as such, I do say that the gentleman chosen should command the respect and good feeling of the whole of the members of this Parliament. I do not think the salary proposed in the Bill is sufficient. I am prepared to vote for a higher salary.
– I am not.
– I am aware of that. I have noticed that in the Parliament of the State which the honorable senator represents a discussion has recently taken place as to the advisability of increasing the salary of the State Agent-General. No vote has yet been taken on the question, but I believe a majority have expressed themselves against the proposed increase. The salary paid to the Agent-General for Tasmania is £400 per year, and I confess I should be very doubtful about the wisdom of taking the job at that salary. Those who are opposed to the increase of the salary may be influenced by a belief that the present salary is sufficient, or by the knowledge that a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner is before theFederal Parliament, and that it may shortly be possible for the Tasmanian Government to have the work of their London office done through the office of the High Commissioner. I know that the State Government of Western Australia are looking for opportunities to save money, and I believe that they would be found to be in . a most receptive frame of mind should the Federal Government approach them with any proposal to have their Agent-General’s Department incorporated with that of the High Commissioner. It should be borne in mind that if it were possible to induce the two States to which I have referred to make a start in this matter, the other States would very likely find it to their advantage to follow their example.
– They would te forced in.
– I should prefer to say that they would be attracted, because the advantages would be so apparent.
– They would be forced by a consideration of the attractions. I have said that I would be prepared to vote for a higher salary than. that provided for in the Bill. If we can judge by newspaper reports, the sister Dominion of Canada occupies a larger share of public attention in English and Continental circles than does1 Australia. I believe that that is entirely due to the commanding personality and liberal hospitality of Lord Strathcona.’ I do not suppose we shall be able to find a Strathcona to represent us in London. Lord Strathcona has, indeed, been a treasure to the Dominion of . Canada, and seems to combine all the virtues desirable in a High Commissioner. If we could get a man to do similar work for Australia it would be greatly to our advantage.
– Lord Strathcona is a very rich man.
– He has the advantage of being a very wealthy man, and one reason why I advocate the payment of a higher salary than that provided for in the Bill is that Lord Strathcona, because of his wealth, has set up a standard which the High Commissioner of Australia will, doubtless, be expected to make some effort to reach. In the circumstances, unless he is paid an adequate salary, the position can only be filled by a very wealthy man, and that must very considerably limit our choice in Australia. It would be unfortunate to have to ask a man to accept the position, not because he was best fitted for it, but because other men who might be better fitted would be unable, owing to their pecuniary circumstances, to accept it. That, I think, is a strong argument for increasing the proposed salary. I do not know whether there is any desire on the part of honorable senators to increase it, but I should favour a proposal of the kind, for the reasons I have stated.” I hope that the Bill will have a speedy passage, and that the Government will take an early opportunity of making an appointment. I hope that, apart from political considerations, they will make the best appointment they can in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I was struck by the weakness of the arguments put forward by the VicePresident of the Executive Council in urging the necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner. The fact that a High Commissioner could speak with one voice for the whole of the Commonwealth is the most weighty argument in support of such an appointment. When the Minister spoke of the advantage it would be to Australia if the High Commissioner were intrusted with the carrying out of an immigration policy, it at once occurred to me that Canada has land to offer to immigrants, while the Commonwealth has none. The Canadian Government spend about £190,000 per annum on immigration. With respect to the advisability of this appointment, I should like to refer honorable senators to a report from the Australian Agents-General called for by Mr. Deakin some three or four years ago. In that report the Agents- General say -
The appointment of a High Commissioner would at once and most naturally bring up the question as to what portion of the work now performed by State agencies could be transferred to the High Commissioner, and we do not hesitate to say that in theory the whole of the work might be so transferred.
I should hold up both hands for this Bill if the State Governments were content to appoint the High Commissioner as their general agent in London, retaining for their own purposes commercial agents. They, have not expressed any desire to do so.
– How could they do so until we appoint a High Commissioner ?
– There is good reason to believe that the State Governments will not be prepared to give the High Commissioner full power to deal with State matters in London. There is a Bill now before another place providing for the’ taking over of the debts of the States, and the passing of that measure might lead to action on the part of the State Governments to invest the High Commissioner with some of the functions now carried out by State Agents-General. In any case, I think it will be found that the State Governments will desire to continue their independent representation in London. Honorable senators should bear in mind that, although Canada has been represented in London, by a High Commissioner for the last twenty-five years, the Dominion still has a number of commercial agents abroad. Honorable senators may call them Agents-
General, or immigration agents, or whatever other name they may choose.
– Canada has representatives upon the Continent, too.
– Yes. Further, the immigration agent for Canada has his office in Charing Cross, whilst the High Commissioner’s office is located near Whitehall. The report goes on to say -
The ordinary conception of a High Commissioner is an officer with considerable private means who will be able to entertain largely and attend to such diplomatic work between the Commonwealth and the British Government, as may arise from time to time. An officer having no such qualifications would be ludicrous in the extreme.
That extract shows clearly that the High Commissioner must be possessed] of ‘attributes which will enable him to discharge social functions. For that reason I am in favour of increasing the emoluments attaching to his office. Unless our High ‘Commissioner is able to discharge these social obligations, the Commonwealth will be placed under a great disadvantage as compared with Canada. Five thousand pounds is not a very large sum to pay for our High Commissioner. Lord Strathcona spends a very much larger sum annually, because he is a wealthy man. But I do not think that we have a very wide choice in that direction. The report from which I have quoted sets down the expenses of the High Commissioner’s office at £16,000 annually without taking into consideration the cost of a commercial agency and of paying an inspecting engineer. The cost of the last named alone, it is computed, would be £8,500 yearly. So far, the Commonwealth office in London has almost paid its way by reason of the advantages which Captain ‘Collins has been able to secure for us. Therefore, if we had a capable staff under that gentleman, and a less expensive office than that which we contemplated establishing some time ago, we should have all that we at present require. Before we purchase a site for our offices in London the High Commissioner should be appointed and should be charged with the duty of recommending it. The report also states that the salary of the High Commissioner should be £5,000 per annum, but, in my opinion, that would provide only for a very inadequate representation. If we are to have any representation at all, the States ought to aid us in securing it. In other words, I do not think that I shall be able td support the Bill.
– I listened with ‘very great pleasure to the speech which was delivered by Senator Pearce, who appears to take a very correct view of the position which will be occupied by the High Commissioner. I look upon it as a misfortune that such an officer was not appointed years ago. Provided that we get the proper man, the sooner he is appointed the better,
– Who is the proper man ?
– Some years ago I took the liberty of saying that I could mention the names of half a dozen gentlemen who would fill the position admirably.
– Who are they?
– The honorable senator is at liberty to turn up Hansard, where he will see their names recorded, andI may . tell him that the viewwhich I then entertained has not been altered. At least, one of those gentlemen is a member of the. Senate. The High Commissioner in London ought to represent Australia as a whole. Senator Pearce has already given a very admirable summary of that officer’s duties. Clause 4 of the Bill reads-
The High Commissioner shall -
act as representative and resident agent of the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom, and in that capacity exercise such powers and perform such duties as are conferred upon and assigned to him by the GovernorGeneral.
carry out such instructions as he receives from the Minister respecting the commercial, financial, and general interests of the Commonwealth and the States in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
It will be seen that that provision contemplates the discharge of a wide range of duties associated with such matters as immigration, finance, defence, irrigation, and trade generally. Here I think it is only right “that I should express the very high opinion which I entertain of Captain Collins. I was in London last year, and it did seem tome that in the absence of a High Commissioner he endeavoured, as far as he could, to act as the representative of the Commonwealth. Certainly he did his level best to keep its claims before the public.
– Then why does the honorable senator desire to displace a good man ?
– I take it that Captain Collins will be secretary to the High Commissioner.
– Is that the promotion which the honorable senator would give him?
– He is a public servant at the present time. I think that he would be an excellent officer to place in charge of the London office under the High Commissioner.
– Then the honorable senator wants the Commonwealth to have two heads in London?
– Has not the honorable senator ever heard of the general manager of a bank, and also of the manager of the head office of that bank? The High Commissioner will require a senior executive officer, and he could not, in my opinion, secure a better. man for the position than Captain Collins. I agree with Senator Pearce that the salary which it is proposed to grant the High Commissioner is not sufficient for the position. If a proposal be submitted to request the other Chamber to increase the emoluments of the office by £1,000 a year, I shall support it.
– The . honorable senator is extravagant.
– In a place like London, £3,000 is not a very large salary to pay the High Commissioner ; and £2,000 a year is not too much to allow him for expenses.
– A million people there do not receive a pound a week.
– I have, when a young man, lived in London on £60 a year. Senator Macfarlane has stated that the Commonwealth has no land. I hope that the day is not far distant when we shall acquire the Northern Territory.
– And YassCanberra.
– I should like to see a central office established in London - an office in which the representatives of the States could also be accommodated. In time I believe that the Agents-General of the States will become mere commercial agents. In regard to the qualifications of the High Commissioner, I think that he should be a man of extensive Australian experience, and one who has been successful in his vocation. He should possess a certain knowledge of finance, and be held in great respect by the community in which he has resided. ‘We must have a man of high character.
– Not a Democrat.
– I have no objection to his being a Democrat. I think that I am one of the most genuine Democrats in the Senate. I believe in doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, and if that is not good Democracy I do not know what it is. I have never been a Tory. A Tory is a man who belongs to a caste, and it seems to me that there is a certain Democratic-Tory-Labour caste in Australia. I feel confident that, although the appointment of a High Commissioner will have to be a political one in a certain sense, whoever may be appointed will rise to the occasion by sinking all party considerations and thinking only of the interests of the country.
– He will not be a member of the Labour party.
– I do not think that such men are so uncommon as some honorable senators appear to suppose - Human nature is very much the same allover the world. The Labour party contains within- its ranks men who are every bit as honorable as are senators upon this side of the Chamber. Probably they are all just as honorable. The High Commissioner should have under his control an Intelligence Department, which should be able to afford information to intending settlers in Australia, and to keep> in touch with all great movements. Certainly the occupant of this distinguished office can make himself very useful in connexion with our Defence Department ; and he can also disseminate a knowledge of the Commonwealth by delivering lectures, and by answering letters bearing upon Australia generally. Much as I believe in State Rights, I hope that the States will recognise that it is to their interest to take advantage of the High Commissioner’s office and to co-operate with the Commonwealth.
– Should we not defer the appointment of a High Commissioner until they are ready to do that?
– If the honorable senator would take a trip Home he wouldobtain very valuable information as towhat will be the duties of the High Commissioner. Recently we have heard agood deal of talk about the consolidationof the State debts. I have, been consistent in supporting the proposal for the consoli- dation of those debts from the period when the Federal Convention met up till now. All the leading financial authorities in the United Kingdom favour the establishment of one stock for Australia. In Great Britain, trust moneys can be invested only in certain securities, but no such limitation is imposed in regard to Government stocks. As a young man I was for a couple of years in a stock-broker’s office, and I know something about that phase of finance. Everybody is aware that a unified stock like consols is very easily dealt with, and it would be found that if there were a single Commonwealth stock, it would be in greater demand by investors than are the stocks of the several States. I have heard it said that the Commonwealth has no security to offer. At one time I was inclined to hold that view. But the Commonwealth has such powers of taxation that the States, for their own comfort, would give us a guarantee that if their share of the Customs and Excise revenue was not sufficient to cover the interest they would make up the difference. If they did not we should, of course, put on direct taxation to raise the required amount.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of direct taxation by the Commonwealth Government?
– If necessary, certainly; but I should prefer an income tax to a land tax. I can indorse almost everything that Senator Pearce has said. I am not a unificationist, nor do I think that he is either. But we know that a petition, containing 53,000 signatures, in favour of unification was presented to a certain House of Parliament, and we also know that if there is a unificationist party it is not to be -found on this side of the chamber.
– Where is there a unificationist party?
– Unification is the last line on the platform of the South Australian Labour party.
– No, that was merely an item put down for discussion.
– As to Senator Pearce’s suggestion regarding the salary, if he proposes an amendment to increase the emoluments, I shall go with him up to the extent of an additional £1,000 a year.
– I shall support the second reading of this Bill. So far from its being a premature proposal, I think the- matter has been delayed much longer than it should have been. Australia has arrived at such a position of dignity and importance in regard to trade, commerce and general development that she needs representation at the very heart of the Empire. In my opinion, an appointment should have been made long before this. ‘ Australia owes it to herself as part of the British Empire, that she should be represented in London. Canada has been represented there for about a score of years; and Canada’s over-sea trade is very much less than that of Australia. Canada has, in addition to her High. Commissioner, commercial agents in nearly all the large centres of Great Britain - in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, and other cities of great industrial importance. We need a representative in London, so that when statements are circulated about Australia, which could not be justified if inquired into, they may be forthwith contradicted. The time has come when (he States must be content to have not Agents-General but General Agents. When a High Commissioner is appointed by the Commonwealth, it will be for the States to determine what they shall do in that respect. If they see fit to avail themselves of the services of the Commonwealth representative we shall be glad. If they do not, I think that public opinion will force the State Governments to make use of the oppor-, tunities given to them under this Bill, because it will be recognised that the expenditure of the States in this regard is a good deal too high, and that the creation of this office will afford an excellent opportunity for the making of savings. I agree, however, that much depends upon the man appointed. I confess that I have tried to worm something out of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, but he is about as close as an oyster, and declares that he does not know. Perhaps if I were in his position I should not know any more than he does. I admit, after all. that it is for the Ministry to take the responsibility of the appointment. They must be prepared to stand or fall by what they do.
– Does, the honorable senator think that the person appointed to this high office should be approved of by Parliament?
– No. I hope, however, that no derelict will be appointed. The High Commissioner must be a man of capacity. He must be not only in touch with political feeling in the ‘Commonwealth, but must have some commercial knowledge and capacity for business. No doubt he will have to attend many social functions. He will not be able to escape them. He ought to be . able to hold his own on such occasions, and his wife also should be able to hold her own in the social life of London.
– Suppose the High Commissioner has not a wife?
– Then he ought to get one.
– No bachelors need apply !
– I certainly do not think that the salary proposed is too high. We ought not to expect any man to make a sacrifice. We should pay him a salary sufficiently large to enable him to discharge his duties properly, and not expect him to dip into his own purse. If the salary is not high enough a premium is offered to men who will be prepared to pay something to hold high office. Therefore, though’ I do not propose to submit an amendment myself, I should be inclined to vote for’ an increase of the salary.
– Let us have a minimum wage.
– We shall certainly fix a minimum, and if the High Commissioner chosen is worth more we should pay him more. As to the site of the offices in London, I think the situation proposed some time ago was a remarkably good one. My only objection to it was that too much money was asked for it. If we can secure a site in the neighbourhood it will be as good a position as we can get. The term of appointment is to be limited to five years. Personally, I think that period too short. We ought not, in my view, to appoint the High Commissioner for less than seven years. We shall be asking him to break his connexions in Australia, and if he be a professional man, it will be difficult for him returning at the end of five years to pick them up again. I notice that, the Bill provides that the High Commissioner shall carry out such instructions as he receives from the Minister, but no indication is given as to what Minister is intended.
– The Minister of External Affairs.
– The Bill should make that point quite clear.
– That is provided for in the Acts Interpretation Act.
– Then I am content. I shall give the Bill a general support, because I believe that we shall be doing a right thing in appointing a High Commissioner, and also because we shall afford the means of saving expense to the States, and enable the whole of Australian business in London to be concentrated in one quarter, so that whoever wants information in regard to these matters may be able to get it there. I hope that the man who is appointed to the office will be able to lay hold of the very large and important questions which must very soon be dealt with, especially the question of transferring the State debts which, I think, ought to have been tackled long ago.
– And which the States will not give up.
– The States are bound to transfer their debts to the Commonwealth sooner or later. The only reason why I think they have not felt justified in giving their consent is because they have not had sufficient confidence in this Parliament. I believe, however, that as soon as anything like a fair arrangement is made, they will be only too willing to agree to a transfer of the debts, especially if it can be shown that it will mean a relief in the interest bill.
– Why should they not have confidence in this Parliament, in view of the fact that they have received £6,000,000 more than they were entitled to get?
– I am not giving the reason why the States have not agreed to transfer the debts, but merely stating the feeling which, so far as I can learn, has . influenced them. I do not say that it is justified, but I hope that it will be dissipated, and that the States will realize that the Commonwealth is working for the advancement of Australia as a whole, and will handle the debts in such a way as to bring benefit to the States, and lead them to come into a closer and more sympathetic relationship with the Commonwealth. I am prepared to support the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator McColl) adjourned.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of June, 1909. - Bulletin No. 30.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of July, 1909. - Bulletin No. 31.
Population and Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the quarter ending 31st March, 1909. - Bulletin No. 15.
Order of Business - Public Telephones in Hotels.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say whether the High Commissioner Bill or the Inter-State Commission Bill will be the business for to-morrow.
– A few weeks since I asked a question relative to a statement which appeared in the newspapers, and which purported to be a report of an observation made by the Postmaster- General regarding the indisposition of his Department to place public telephones in hotels. I desire to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council can furnish the Senate with information showing, as from the 1st of January last year, the particular hotels in which such telephones have been installed in Sydney and Melbourne, the number of such telephones in each hotel, the date on which they were installed, the number of applications which have been received from that date in Sydney and Melbourne, and _ refused, and the reasons why such applications have been refused.
– Why should the honorable senator confine the inquiry to Sydney and Mebourne?
– Because it will be easier for the Department to furnish the information. I am given to understand that in certain hotels in Sydney and Melbourne, and without the slightest difficulty, public telephones have been installed, at which the public pay1d., or whatever the price of the call may be, while other hotels equally reputable, . and just as frequently tenanted by respectable visitors, have been met with a refusal. If that is the case, I think the Senate and the other House should know, why any discrimination is made. If there are to be public telephones installed in hotels, well and good. Let the rule apply all round ; but if they are to be installed in some hotels, and denied to others of equal repute, then the Senate and another place should know exactly the rea sons for such discrimination. I have limited my inquiry to hotels in Melbourne and Sydney for the purpose of simplicity and expedition, in order that the Department may not be able to say that it will take a long time to obtain the information.
– I shall be only too glad to obtain the information desired by Senator Keating; but I suggest to him that he should reduce to writing the details of the return whiGh he requires.
– There will be no difficulty in getting the information. It is a very simple matter.
– I am not saying that there will be any difficulty, but I should not like to indicate to the Department my impression of what the honorable senator wants, and then find, unfortunately, that I have not given some of the details.
– Send along a copy of the Hansard report.
– If my honorable friend is not in a hurry for a few days, I shall forward a copy of the Hansard report to the Department. With regard to the business for to-morrow. I had hoped that my colleague wouldbe sufficiently recovered to proceed with the second reading of the Inter-State Commission Bill, but, unfortunately, that is not the position. I anticipate that he will be prepared to place the Bill before the Senate on Wednesday next. I. desire to-morrow to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill, and afterwards with the Bureau of Agriculture Bill.
– What about the Navigation Bill?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at9.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090930_senate_3_52/>.