3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to refer to the Age report of an incident which occurred here last night, with no desire to resurrect it, but merely to point out that, in the report, I have not been fairly dealt with. It says - “ Senator Needham made an interjection which was inaudible.” At the close of the incident I rose and distinctly stated that I had made no interjection which would reflect upon the honour or integrity of Senator Neild. When a newspaper takes upon itself the duty of reporting such incidents I think that in common justice to all concerned my statement should have been published, otherwise it looks as if I had been the culprit throughout the piece. I thought it well to draw attention to the unfair manner in which the incident was reported in the Age. I hope that in the future when newspapers report such matters they will deal out even-handed justice to all concerned. .
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, by way of suggestion, whether the Government will consider the desirability of issuing in a simple form, information and instructions for all persons who may desire to enter the Navy, whether in Australia or elsewhere? I do not wish to elaborate the question, but perhaps I may be permitted to point out that at present any one who wishes to get into the Navy, either here or in England, experiences considerable difficulty in ascertaining the necessary steps to be taken.
– I take the honorable senator to mean by his suggestion the issue of a pamphlet or handbook with simple directions to those who may desire to enter the British Navy.
– Or the Australian Squadron.
– The suggestion certainly commends itself to me, and I shall have very much pleasure in bringing it under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– A regulation, not a pamphlet, would be very useful.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Federal Capital. - Proposed Site at YassCanberra. - Further correspondence respecting the selection of territory and proposed site for the city (dated 28th September, 1909).
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Maribyrnong, Victoria : Defence purposes. - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Post and Telegraph Act1901 -
Amendment of General, Postal, and General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 104.
Regulations for securing the telegraph lines or works of the Postmaster-General from interference by house removals or other works. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 109.
Amendment of Postal, Telegraphic, and Money Orders Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No.111.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he can furnish the Senate, either now or presently, with some particulars as to the fighting value of the cruisers which we have heard described as being part of the proposed Australian Squadron, under the title of cruisers belonging to the Bristol type.
– I am not in a position to furnish the information offhand, but I shall take steps to procure it.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I need hardly tell honorable senators that I appreciate the circumstances which enable me to be so closely identified with a matter which has been for many years before Parliament, and which, perhaps, in one way may be regarded as of special interest to my State. At the same time, quite apart from my personal feelings, I would point nut that in bringing forward this Bill the Government are merely seeking to give effect to the wishes of Parliament as expressed by an Act passed in the closing days of last session. In so doing, they are, I might remind honorable senators, following the excellent lead set by two previous Administrations.
– By two?
-By the ReidMcLean Administration, which made an effort to give effect to a Bill passed in 1904, and by the Fisher Administration, which certainly did, in the closing days of last session by the introduction of a. Bill, seek to carry this matter further towards finality. “ I can only express the hope that the decision of honorable senators on the Bill will place the matter at that stage when we can reasonably say that finality has been reached. I do not propose to-day to ask their attention for ari’ undue time, because it appears to me that the question now is resolved into very narrow limits. I shall endeavour to make my statement as brief and business-like as I can. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind what is the main purpose of the Bill. I might summarize what has taken place since we last had before us a proposition dealing with the Capital Site. I would remind honorable senators, as a preface that, so far, Parliament has never expressed its wish, or arrived at any determination as to the Federal Territory, nor has it definitely determined the site of the city itself. What it did do by the Bill passed last year was to indicate a locality within which it thought that the city should be situated, and necessarily, by so doing it indicated a point round which the territory should lap. The last Government proceeded with commendable promptitude to give effect to that Bil-1. Mr. Surveyor Scrivener was immediately instructed to proceed to the spot with a view to obtaining such a report as would enable the Minister, and later on the Parliament, to arrive at a determination’. I desire to briefly refer to what has been the subject of some controversy with our legal friends, and that is as to the exact order of procedure under section 125 of the Constitution. I do not propose to enter into that controversy, but merely to indicate what appears to me to be the point about which it ranged, and that was as to whether or not the territory should be selected before the site of the city could be determined, or whether we could select the site cf the city first, and determine the territory afterwards. No doubt, from a legal stand-point it may be an interesting point, but to my mind the whole thing presented .itself in the way of two men approaching a turnstile through which only one could pass at a time, both being desirous of going through, and it not mattering materially which of them went through first. It seemed to me equally immaterial as to which step we should take first in this matter. It is quite obvious that it would have been impossible for Parliament to actively determine the boundaries of the territory without being satisfied beforehand that there was within the territory some site suitable for a city. On the other hand it would have been equally foolish to have definitely decided on a city site without paying some regard to the territorysurrounding it. It seems to me that these two factors had to be considered together. Parliament having passed an Act indicating generally a locality, the previous Government, through the Minister of Home Affairs, deputed Mr. Scrivener to proceed on to the land with a view to making inquiries and surveys. I should like to show that the instructions given to that gentleman were of a character to which no possible exception could be taken. Whilst they directed his attention to those points which perhaps were of major importance, and which would naturally suggest themselves to the mind of any one, he was left the freest possible scope in the discharge of his duties.
– How long was he left in that untrammelled position ?
– Up to the present moment.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Mr. Mahon’s minute instructed Mr. Scrivener to proceed on the following lines: -
To make a thorough topographical investigation of the Yass-Canberra district, with the object of placing such facts before the Minister as will enable Parliament to decide on the most suitable territory for the purposes of the Seat of Government within the district referred to, and that the work should be divided into three phases : -
Preliminary reconnaissance, covering the whole of the district, and. embracing the catchment area of the water supply governing the same.
Topographical investigation of that portion or portions of the district which, during the reconnaissance, are shown to possess the requisite characteristics for the Commonwealth territory.
Contour survey of the suggested site or sites for the Federal Capital City.
The Minister then summarized the essentials of the territory in the following manner : -
There wereother references in the minute dealing with sanitation and accessibility. Proceeding on these instructions, Mr. Scrivener, two months later, made a report, which has been made available to honorable senators. I do not propose to detain the Senate by reading the report, but I may be permitted to refer to one or two of its principal features. Mr. Scrivener made an inspection of the area embraced by YassCanberra, and approved of the Canberra site, which commended itself most to his mind of the several sites which had been under inspection. He reported -
The general level of the country about Canberra lies between 1,900 and 2,000 feet, while some of the higher hills reach an altitude of nearly2,800 feet above sea level. The site is intersected by the Molonglo River, a stream with a catchment area of about 700 square miles.
A city located at Canberra would be visible on approach for many miles; streets with easy gradients would be readily designed ; while prominent hills of moderate altitude present suitable sites for the principal public buildings.
With regard to the water supply, Mr. Scrivener stated -
The Cotter River will provide a supply of perennially clear and pure water, sufficient for the domestic and civic requirements of a population up to 200,000, with a per capita consumption of not less than 100 gallons a day.
All these calculations dealing with water supply are on the basis of a consumption of 100 gallons per head per day. To show that these estimates are on a safe and conservative side, I would point out that the consumption in Sydney is less than 40 gallons per head per day, and in Melbourne 59^ gallons. It will therefore be seen that these calculations are based on more than twice the daily consumption in Sydney, and nearly twice the consumption in Melbourne. That part of the report deals more with the site of the city. Mr. Scrivener went on to deal with the territory, but I propose to leave that to a later portion of my address. On the receipt of the report, the Minister constituted an Advisory Board, consisting of Colonel Miller, Colonel Owen, Colonel Vernon, and Mr. Scrivener. After an inquiry, the Board agreed generally with Mr. Scrivener’s report, but asked that certain contour levels should be made, suggested an exploration as to a practical route from the Capitalsite to the sea, and generally desired further information. The Minister promptly instructed Mr. Scrivener to that effect, and he proceeded to ascertain additional levels. He reported in due course that he had taken contour surveys of 35 miles of levels at the heights of 1,825, 1,850, 1,875,1,900. 1,950, and 2,000 feet, with intermediate levels. He had also made an inspection of the country between Canberra and Jervis Bay with a view to determining the probable route for a railway between these places, and found that from about the 168- mile post on the Goulburn-Cooma railway line to Jervis Bay, a practicable railway, with a ruling gradient not worse than one in forty, and probably as flat as one in fifty, could be obtained.
– Can the Minister give the length of that line?
– The facts appear in Mr. Scrivener’s report. Honorable senators will see at once thatI am not attempting to give the substance, but that I am rather summarizing what has taken place, with a view to leading up to the particular proposition which is really submitted tothe Senate by means of this Bill. Mr. Scrivener also recommended that an area of two square miles at Jervis Bay should be secured by the Commonwealth. As to that, he further reported that the 3 and 5-fathom lines at Jervis Bay lie closer to the shore at the point indicated by him than was usual, and that the portion marked was well sheltered from south-east and easterly gales.
– Did Mr. Scrivener report that the area of two square miles at Jervis Bay would be sufficient?
– He was not given any indication as to what area at Jervis Bay he was to recommend. He was left free to inquire and recommend what area should be acquired for Commonwealth purposes. I assume that no direction having been given by the Act itself, or by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Scrivener had recommended an area which he thought would be ample. On the supplementary report of Mr. Scrivener being sent on to the Advisory Board by the Minister of Home Affairs, that Board, after consideration, reported generally as follows : -
The site may be briefly described as a rectangular area, the eastern and western boundaries of the northern part resting on the slopes of Mount Ainslie and the Black Mountain, the southern boundary being intersected by the Narrabundah Range, running from Mugga Mugga
Mountain towards the Molonglo River. This river, which flows through the area in a westerly direction, affords facilities for the conservation of water for ornamental purposes.
I lay emphasis on those words “ ornamental purposes.”
The whole area is generally suited for building purposes, the feature contours being more marked or bolder on the south of the River Molonglo than on the north.
The area of about 3 miles square was recommended by the Board advisedly in order that the fullest scope may be given for the projection of the city design, and the most effective location of the official centre.
– Does Mr. Scrivener say anything about building material ?
– My honorable friend will find that there is a great deal in the reports which I am not venturing to quote now, because I assume that honorable senators will peruse the documents for themselves. Time, of course, is some object? with a House which is so keen on proceeding with business, as the Senate invariably is. Dealing with the important matter of sewerage, the Board stated -
Respecting the sewerage of the proposed Federal Capital City, the Board considered that no engineering difficulties will be encountered in a satisfactory disposal of sewage, and the effluent from treatment works. It will be necessary to make provision for dealing with the storm waters, in which connexion the general fall of the land favours a satisfactory scheme.
The Board advised that there is a supply of perennially clear and pure water in the Cotter River. The catchment area of this river, above the point at which the gauge readings for igo8 were taken, embraces an area of about 0 170 square miles. According to the 1908 records the supply at the point of gaugage is sufficient for the domestic’ and civic requirements of a population of 250,000.
Those figures are based on the assumption of a supply of 100 gallons per inhabitant per day. The Board further stated that -
There are other sources of water supply for power in the Territory, viz., the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers combined, and that in order to regulate the flow of these rivers through the Capital City, and to conserve water for ornamental purposes, the construction of weirs on their upper reaches will be necessary. The total catchment is about 500 square miles. Ornamental water may be conserved at the city by means of a weir at any one of the sites indicated on the map of the contour survey of Canberra.
The Board were of opinion that a practicable route for railway communication can be found between the site of the Federal Capital City and Jervis Bay, but considered that before the locality is finally decided upon an extensive examination of the intervening country should be made, in order that all requirements may be met.
The Board were of opinion that Jervis Bay meets the requirements of the Commonwealth with respect to a proposed port for the capital, and that the area of land proposed by Mr. Scrivener in his report, and situate at the southern extremity of the Bay is the most suitable.
Honorable senators will notice that I have been summarizing the report of the Advisory Board upon Mr. Scrivener’s report. T. may add that the Board’s recommendations embraced an area of approximately 1,000 square miles. Following upon the receipt of this report, the Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, opened up communications with the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Wade, inviting him to take steps for the surrender of the Territory to the Commonwealth. In doing so, the Prime Minister also invited consideration to two very important matters. One was the vesting in the Commonwealth of the right to secure and transmit electrical power from sources situated outside the Federal Territory ; and the other related to the question of mutual working over railways belonging to each authority.
– Was the Prime Minister’s inquiry with regard to electrical power due to doubts about obtaining electrical power within the Federal Territory ?
– The Prime Minister made this inquiry probably with a view to meeting objections which, have been,, and may be, raised as to the possibility of obtaining electrical power from the Snowy River, which is outside the proposed Federal area. My honorable friend must admit that there can be no disadvantage in having two strings to one’s bow. After some correspondence, and one or two interviews, which took place between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of New South Wales, and also between the Premier and the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Wade submitted on the 16th. September certain propositions to the Parliament of New South Wales. These propositions, besides dealing with several matters to which I shall refer later on - matters’ which I may say relate to either of the proposed areas - suggested some modifications upon the area recommended bv the Advisory Board. The Minister for Home Affairs, having learnt of the suggested modifications, submitted them to the Advisory. Board, which reported, amongst other things, that the modified area suggested was somewhat less than that prescribed in the Act passed by this Parliament. Mr. Wade’s attention having been drawn to that fact, an addi- tional area was included in the modification suggested, making the total area over 900 square miles, so . as to conform with the Federal Act.
– Is that the only comment -which the Advisory Board made upon the suggested alteration?
– I am coming to that point immediately. I want now to invite attention to two maps which are hanging upon the wall of this chamber. A glance at them will enable honorable senators to follow my subsequent remarks more clearly. The map on the left hand represents the scheme recommended by the Advisory Board in the first instance. The area has been described as being somewhat .like a horseshoe, but I doubt whether it is entitled to such a. symmetrical comparison. The map on the right represents- the modification suggested by the Parliament of New South Wales. The area coloured on that map is the area which it is proposed by the New South Wales Parliament to vest absolutely in the Commonwealth. The other portion of the map, which is merely edged with red, and which it will be seen was included in the Advisory Board’s original proposition, is the area over which the New South Wales’ Parliament suggested that the Commonwealth should have complete water rights. I want now to come back to the point at which I broke off just now, and to invite honorable senators to consider what the position is. It is this. We have never yet determined what the Federal Territory is to be. This Bill is submitted to enable Parliament to make such a determination. There are practically two schemes available from which to make a choice - that is, the scheme shown on the map on the left, which represents the Board ’s original proposition, and, secondly, that which is shown on the map on the right, which represents the modificationsuggested by the Parliament of New South Wales.
– I understand that we should possess only water rights over the area edged with red on the map?
– Just so; we should have water rights over that area, with sovereignty rights over the complete area coloured red.
– Do I understand that we should have complete control over the Cotter River?
– Whichever scheme is adopted, the Cotter is not disturbed. It will be completely under our jurisdiction.
Moreover, whichever scheme may be adopted, the city site remains the same.
– Has the Advisory Board made any comment upon the suggested alteration?
– I shall come to that point immediately.
– I understand that the Cotter River is in the Territory coloured red?
– The Cotter is in the portion which lies immediately to the west in either scheme. I have stated. that there are before the Senate two propositions for consideration, and I accept very fully the responsibility of placing, as far as I am able, the facts in connexion with each before the Senate. At the same time, I wish to make it clear that the Government, having fully considered the matter, have themselves decided which they consider is the better of these alternatives. I should like to add that, personally, when I first approached the subject, I did so with an intangible but, nevertheless, distinct feeling in favour of the proposition of the Board. Probably I entertained that feeling because it was the proposition of the Board, and because I reflected that the Board would probably be free from some influences which might, quite unintentionally, and honestly enough, have influenced the decision of the New- South Wales Parliament. I therefore approached the matter quite conscious of a feeling in that direction, rather than of an inclination to accept the suggestion of the New South Wales Parliament. But, for reasons, which I shall set out later, and which influenced the Government of New South Wales to suggest the modifications to the original scheme, I have come to a. conclusion - which I think the Senate will indorse. - that there are attached to the modified scheme advantages which more than compensate for the presumed disadvantages which might at first sight appear to be present. Before I proceed to deal with these alternative schemes, I should like to quote the resolutions passed by the New South Wales Parliament, and which relate to considerations that are common to both schemes. These resolutions deal with many matters which will have to be considered whichever scheme is adopted, and will form the basis of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, to be embodied as the first schedule to this Bill. The position is that an agreement or _ understanding has been arrived at on all the points touched, and is now being cast into legal phraseology by the legal representatives of the States and of the Commonwealth. I am happy to be in a position to say that the whole agreement in all its details has been assented to, except that perhaps there is an additional “i” to dot or “t” to cross. The document will be ready in a day or two, and will, as I have said, be inserted in this Bill. But the Government thought it inadvisable to delay the measure, seeing that the agreement will be printed and placed in the hands of honorable senators before they are called upon to arrive at a decision upon the matter. Dealing now with the resolutions of the New South Wales Parliament, which will form the basis of the agreement now being drawn up, they were these. The New South Wales Parliament agreed that they would - surrender to the Commonwealth, territory containing an area of, approximately, 800 square miles, made up as follows : -
A further area of about 365 square miles, including the catchment areas of the Gudgenby, Naas, and Paddy Rivers, as indicated by red edging on plan marked “ G,”
the right, on terms to be agreed upon, to cross over or under any State railway, to connect with and run trains over any portion of a State railway.
State should not be deemed a grant of the right to interfere with the reasonable use of the waters of the Murrumbidgee River by the State, or the citizens of the State of New South Wales.
Those resolutions are self-explanatory, with probably two exceptions, to which I propose to refer. The first is that which provides for the control of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo area - that is, the area edged red on the righthand map. Honorable senators will see that what the New South Wales Government have proposed is to transfer a corresponding area absolutely to the Commonwealth and to give full and absolute rights over the water-shed within the area edged red.
– Do not those streams ultimately fall into the Murrumbidgee ?
– They do.
– Do they not pass through territory which will be under the control of the New South Wales Parliament ?
– The honorable senator means with regard to the Murrumbidgee ?
– Suppose we were to use all the waters in the Murrumbidgee and Queanbeyan - would not that be an interference with the rights of citizens of New South Wales?
– I shall make a quotation which will set at rest doubts on that point. A large riparian question is opened up, but the matter is dealt with in the agreement which is being drafted for the consideration of both Governments. With regard to the control of these watersheds, if there should be any doubt in the mind of the honorable senator as to whether the resolution which I have read is full enough, I propose to quote from the speech of Mr. Wade in introducing the matter in the New South Wales Parliament, and which will show that there was no reservation in his mind, but that it was intended to transfer to the Commonwealth the most complete and absolute rights over the waters in this water-shed Mr. Wadesaid -
We have recognised at all stages, in connexion with the discussion of this matter, that no sound objection can be raised to the Commonwealth having supreme control over the whole of the catchment area, because on the purity of the water and the control of the streams supplying it, is dependent the health and happiness of the people themselves. There is no reason why they should not have the same jurisdiction for protective purposes over the supply of water for domestic use as they have over the city itself.
That makes it quite clear that the New South Wales Government desired to transfer the water rights over that area absolutely and without any reservation to the Commonwealth.
– But a speech will not count for anything when it comes to a question of what are our legal rights.
– But it will count in the drafting of an agreement. 1 have already stated that it is my duty to place before the Senate all the facts connected with both propositions, which are within my knowledge. At this juncture I am not advocating one more than the other, although I may do so at a later stage.
– The Molonglo watershed seems to have been all alienated.
– The circumstances may make its acquisition less desirable from om point of view. The other proposal to which I desire to refer is that which secures to New South Wales the reasonable use of the waters of the Murrumbidgee. That reservation is necessary to New South Wales because it has recently launched out upon a large and expensive water scheme at Barren Jack, the whole efficacy of which will be dependent upon the Murrumbidgee. The reservation, therefore, is not merely in the interests of that State, but is one in which the Commonwealth will readily acquiesce. I come now to the alternative schemes themselves, and I propose very briefly to summarize them. The proposition of the Board was for the surrender of 1,000 square miles of territory which is outlined in the irregular area shown upon one of the maps hanging in the chamber.
– What is the meaning of the white strip between the two areas? It appears as if New South Wales territory is to intervene between two portions of Federal territory.
– If my honorable friend means the small white line which separates the two areas I may tell him that that has been placed there to enable hon orable ‘ senators to more readily detect where those two areas join.
– Does it not mean that New South Wales will retain the territory which is represented by the white strip on the map, and will not grant the Commonwealth any rights over it ?
– Certainly not. The Federal area would abut immediately upon that area over which the Federation would have full water rights. The original proposition of the Board was that the Commonwealth should be ceded a territory embracing 1,000 square miles, and the alternative to-day is that it shall accept an area of 900 square miles, plus water rights over 580 square miles. Of the 900 square miles contained in territory ref erred to in the suggestions emanating from New South Wales, 435 square miles - embracing the area . immediately surrounding the territory - is included in the Board’s original proposition. I use the words “ suggestions emanating from New South Wales,” because I wish to make,it quite clear that the alternative scheme presented by that State is submitted in the best of good faith, and in the most friendly way, in the nature of suggestions. In introducing his proposals to the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Wade said -
Our desire at this stage is to put before the Commonwealth Parliament,- by way of suggestion, certain propositions on which we hope will be based the final formal act of surrender of territory, and acceptance by the Commonwealth for the Seat of Government.
In a further quotation he said -
In the first place we recognise that the final determination .of the question under the Constitution rests in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. We can only claim to intervene in this question rather by way of suggestion of a helpful character than by way of laying down a proposition for the Commonwealth’s acceptance or rejection.
We realize that although we have some responsibility in this matter, it scarcely lies in the hands of the Government to do anything which has the appearance of intrusion into the peculiar sphere of the Commonwealth with regard to the final determination of this question.
– That statement evidences a sensible frame of mind.
– I can quite accept that determination of it. The statements which I have quoted were made by Mr. Wade in submitting his proposals to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Quite recently that gentleman has reaffirmed them, and in a wire to my colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs, dated the 6th inst - this wire originated in a telegram from Sydney, which was published in a Melbourne newspaper, and which appeared to conflict with some of the statements previously made by Mr. Wade - he said -
My views are quite clear, decision rests with Commonwealth as to territory. If our recent proposals not acceptable this Government will at once take further action in direction settlement. Glad have your confirmation of this view.
That telegram makes it abundantly clear that New South Wales, with some knowledge of the matter, has merely put forward for our consideration a modification of the Board’s proposal, with an intimation - made in the most friendly and frank manner - that if that modification be not approved by this Parliament steps will be immediately taken to give effect to any determination at which it may arrive. That puts beyond all cavil the attitude of New South Wales upon the matter. I now wish to again direct attention to the areas shown upon the maps in this chamber. So far as shape is concerned it will be readily conceded that the suggested modification of the original area is a distinct improvement upon it. Its adoption would also confer upon the Commonwealth a further advantage in that it would leave the State railway which runs down to Cooma outside Federal Territory.- That line would form the boundary of the area which the New South Wales Government proposes to surrender. If without giving up any other advantages we can leave a State railway outside the Federal Territory it will be a distinct advantage te do so.
– Does that mean that Queanbeyan will be outside of the Federal Territory?
– Queanbeyan will be within the territory over which it is proposed to grant water rights to the ‘ Commonwealth. I am proceeding on the assumption that honorable senators agree that the shape of the block which is embraced in the modified scheme is an improvement upon the area that was covered by the Board’s original suggestion. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the area which the Board suggested should be vested in the Commonwealth, but over which the New South Wales Parliament has signified its willingness to grant to the Commonwealth water rights. Mr. Scrivener included that area in his original scheme for one reason only. That reason was that it was essential that those who controlled the Federal City should have con trol of the water passing through it. It was not included in his scheme because he thought that the water from that area was necessary to supply the requirements of the Federal City. He included it merely because he recognised that the water passing through the Federal City might become a public nuisance unless the Federation had the power to control it. In addition, it may serve a very useful purpose in that it may be artificially conserved for the purpose of beautifying the capital. All these advantages are secured under the proposal of the New South Wales Parliament.
– What powers will the Commonwealth have in the matter of water rights ?
– It is possible so to draft a legal document as to secure the Commonwealth full water rights over that area.
– - Would the Commonwealth have the right to guard against the pollution of that water?
– That would be the very object of granting the Commonwealth those water rights.
– I have already read the resolutions of the New South Wales Parliament which relate to these two points. Those resolutions affirm that the Commonwealth should have control over the water, and that New South Wales would undertake to preserve those rivers from pollution. That agreement can be made just as binding upon a State as it can be upon an individual. If Senator Pearce were a neighbour of mine, but was situated lower down a stream, and if I violated his riparian rights he would be able to compel me to observe my share of the bond.
– But the purity of th« water can be insured only by the removal of human habitations.
– My honorable friend assumes that the wafer in question is required for domestic purposes. As a matter of fact, it is not. It is needed only for ornamental purposes. Surely the proviso which has been suggested, together with the undertaking by- New South Wales to prevent the pollution of these waters and to grant the Commonwealth power to construct any works that it may choose for the purpose of regulating the flow of this water to the Federal City, are sufficient to meet all reasonable requirements ! I shall now deal with the report of the Board upon this matter, and that document will speak with more authority than I do. I have already informed the Senate that certain resolutions were submitted to the New South Wales Advisory Board for their report -
The Board, in their report of the 22nd September, re-affirmed their reasons for recommending the Territory to be acquired by the Commonwealth, including the catchment areas of the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan Rivers, and stated that the adoption of the resolutions by the State Parliament will have the effect of curtailing the area of the Commonwealth Territory as recommended by the Advisory Board, by the withdrawal therefrom of the catchment areas of the Queanbeyan and the Molonglo Rivers lying to the south and east of the GoulburnCooma railway, containing an area of approximately 580 square miles, the State proposing in lieu to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth, under which the right of the State to the use and control of the Queanbeyan and the Molonglo Rivers and their tributaries (indicated on Mr. Scrivener’s plan, and lying to the south and east of the GoulburnCooma railway) shall be subject to the requirements of the Commonwealth.
– Were those resolutions adopted by the New. South Wales Legislative Council ?
The Board regarded it as essential that the area under consideration should be vested in the Commonwealth, with a view to securing absolute controlover the catchment of the rivers contained therein, for the following reasons : - (a) To regulate the flow of the Molonglo River at the city site ;
On the other hand, the Board considered that the alternative conveyed in resolution (2) may be accepted in lieu of their recommendation that the Commonwealth should acquire the subject area under certain conditions, viz., that is so doing the terms of the agreement to be entered into by the Commonwealth and the State shall cover the essentials laid down, and empower the Commonwealth to perform such acts and to carry out such works at all times as may by the Commonwealth be considered necessary; also that the State undertakes to exercise such control over the area and to carry out such works as areor as may be considered necessary to prevent pollution, including the sanitation of Queanbeyan ; also to reserve and dedicate all Crown lands within the catchment area, and to restrain the use of the waters within the catchment areas of the Molonglo and the Queanbeyan Rivers - either by the State, or others under State control - in any manner inimical to the works referred to. The Board advised that they could not but consider it an advantage to include within the Federal Territory that portion of the catchment area of the Gudgenby River embracing an area of about 114 square miles above its confluence with the Orroral River, but that no benefit will be de rived from the inclusion within the Federal Territory of the catchment areas of either Naas Creek or of Paddy’s River.
– Yet thev have been included ?
– That is so. But I. would again impress upon the Senate that I am endeavouring to put before it thepros and cons of the case.
– If the Cotter River is ample to supply all water requirements, why emphasize the fact that other sources of supply will be available?
– My honorable friend willrecollect that in the Seat of Government Act 900 square miles of Federal territory were specified, and the supply of water in that area was one of the obligations with which the Advisory Board had to deal. But as a matter of fact every report we have had upon the subject show; that the Cotter River is ample to supply all anticipated requirements.
– Then why continually emphasize thesupply which may be derived from contingent sources?
– I am quite sure that in the course of this debate capital will be made out of the fact that sovereign rights over certain streams which it is proposed to excise from the Board’s recommendations are not granted to the Commonwealth. Therefore, it is my duty to show that while that is so, the Commonwealth will have in the possession of the Gudgenby and other rivers more than compensating advantages.
– What is the average rainfall at Queanbeyan?
– I have not that information with me at the present moment. But I would point out to my honorable friend that it would be inadvisable to base the rainfall over a large territory upon the record at one spot. . It would be safer to take as a guide the rainfall which is registered at a number of places over that area. That has been done in the figures which are set out in the reports of various officers. There is everything to justify the statement that the rainfall over the suggested area is an extremely liberal one.
– But the Cotter River will notbe sufficient to insure a supply of water for ornamental purposes as well as for drinking purposes.
– When my honorable friend talks of “ drinking purposes,” I want to know how much is to be drunk. There is sufficient water in the Cotter as we know it to-day to supply the requirements of 250,000 people, allowing them twice as much as is consumed by the citizens of Melbourne. Then thereare other sources of supply which will more readily fit in with any proposal for beautifying the city. I wish to impress upon honorable senators that by granting the Commonwealth water rights in lieu of sovereign rights, in respect of the land which is embraced in the 580 square miles to which I have alluded, there will be no diminution of the water supply, which can be concentrated upon the Capital city itself. Every drop which would have been available to that city if the area in question had been transferred to the Commonwealth will still be available for Federal purposes. Whilst that is so, a large increase has been made in the supply which will be placed at our disposal. That increase is represented by the flow down the Gudgenby River. The Gudgenby is reported by either Mr. Scrivener or Mr. Prettyman to have a catchment much of the same character, and the same high class as the Cotter catchment. It is steep granite country, and the water is described as being as pure as that of the Cotter. The area of catchment above the proposed site for dam at 2,750 feet, is 114 square miles. At that elevation of 2,750 feet, or at least 500 feet, above the highest city level - it will be possible to run off from the 114 square miles by gravitation 14,874,000,000 gallons perannum, capable of supplying. 407,500 persons with 100 gallons each per day.
– To the whole of the Capital site or to only the lowest area ?
– That supply is available to the highest point, because the dam would be 2,750 feet high.
– That is only 500 feet above the highest point in the Capital city.
– As a matter of fact it. is more. The height of the dam would be 2,750 feet, and the height of the city generally may be taken at 2,000 feet. But allowing for elevated buildings I was safe in stating that the dam was 500 feet above the city requirements. The catchment below the dam, which will be available by pumping if required, is sufficient for supplying another 151,000 persons; but this includes some water which comes from the catchment of the Naas River. I do not quite share the views of the Board, because it appears to me that if we have sufficient water, the fact that an additional stream runs our way would be no detriment, and might, in certain circumstances, be an advantage. From the report of the Board which I read, it will be seen that whilst they attach a distinct value to the inclusion of the Gudgenby, they do not see any advantage with regard to the inclusion of the subsidiary streams. I propose to put before the Senate the available supply from both these rivers. Together the reports show that by gravitation there will be made available from these two sources for the Capital site a supply equal to the requirements of 571,000 persons, and that bypumping another 151,000 persons could be supplied. Now the Paddy River, which I say again the Board has discounted as being of no additional value, is sufficient also, although it will be available by pumping only, to supply another 181,000 persons. These streams show, I think, an ample supply. But let me impress upon honorable senators that these are not the main sources of supply available tothe city ; they are simply additional waters which, under this alternative scheme, could be made available for the city requirements. The main supply to the city is, as has been put forward by every one who has dealt with the subject - by Mr. Scrivener, and before his time by other surveyors- that of the Cotter River.
– Will it be sufficient as a sole source of supply ?
– I have already indicated that there is sufficient water available for the supply of 100 gallons every ‘ day of the year to a population of 250,000 persons.
– Why has the honorable senator been talking for the last halfhour about contingent sources of supply?
– Surely when, under this proposal, we are asked to take in an area not covered by the Board’s proposition, it is not unreasonable on my part to indicate what is involved.Ift he Commonwealth takes over that area, it will have with it a very much larger supply than it would have without it.
– According to the honorable senator, we shall never need it.
Senator MILLEN. That is quite true.
– Then why labour the point?
– If my honorable friend thinks that I am occupying too much time, I apologize. If he would assist me by refraining from interjections, I might make better progress.
– It arouses a suspicion that there is something wrong with the Cotter supply.
– If I did not say anything about the supply from these areas probably the honorable senator would be the first to rise and state that nothing could be said for them. I think I can show that we can mass on the proposed city a body of water greater than can be put on any city in Australia. We can put on it a body of. water, not merely sufficient to give Senator Lynch and everybody else 100 gallons a day, but enough to float the British Navy. With regard to the Cotter River, the figures which have been made available are for a year which was recognised as a dry year; which the rainfall shows was a remarkably dry year. Actual gaugings were taken for a year from 16th February, 1908 - a thing which had not been done before, because its necessity had not then arisen. From these figures it was ascertained that the mean daily discharge of the Cotter River was 37, 677,205 gallons. It will be seen that the Cotter River alone discharged in that year a quantity of water which was over 60 per cent. of the actual requirements of Sydney, with a population of something like 600,000. Or, to put the point in another way, in that year the Cotter discharged enough water to supply Melbourne and half Sydney, or vice versâ, and still have a margin available. Taking all these rivers and massing them together, the official reports show that from the Cotter River, we have, as I have stated, an annual discharge of 13,752,000,000 gallons; from the Gudgenby we have a nearly equal supply, and from the other rivers to which I have referred varying supplies, all of which - excluding the Murrumbidgee - total no less than 54,224,000,000 gallons.
– In order to keep that contingent water supply pure we should have to make the place destitute of settlement.
– My honorable friend will see that, whether we take the sovereignty over the territory or not, the problem will be there all the same. The only question is whether, having got the proposed water rights vested in us, we shall not be in an equally good position to protect the waters from pollution. I perhaps have gone a little further than I intended in dealing with these figures, but interjections have suggested to me that some honor able senators are still under the idea that if they go up to Canberra they will be short of a drink.
– My interjections have not been unfriendly ; I only wanted to elicit information.
– My honorable friend knows that, as a rule, I never resent any interjection from him.
– Will the Minister send a copy of these figures to the Age?
– I trust that the Age representative will take the figures, without putting me to the necessity of sending them to the office. With regard to the Queanbeyan and Molonglo rivers, which are, of course, covered by the area over which it is proposed we should take water rights, the proposition of Mr. Scrivener is that these waters should be used for the purpose of an artificial lake intersecting the Federal city. His estimate is that these waters - of course with a big run off - would be sufficient for a lake 4 miles long,½ a mile wide, and 40 feet deep in parts. There is a further advantage with regard to that proposition, and that is that within 3 miles of the city, passing away from the lake, there is a fall of 200 feet - a fall which it will be seen at once could be utilized at any time for the purpose of generating electric power. I have tried to put before honorable senators the reasons which induce the Government to invite Parliament to consider and accept this alternative proposition. So far, we have indicated merely in the most general terms the locality in which we think the Capita] should be situated. We have to determine by leaps and bounds the actual territory, and the Senate has the proposition of the Advisory Board and the proposition which is embraced in the suggestions of the New South Wales Parliament. For the reasons I have given, the Government adhere to the view that the modification is an improvement, and it is because it is an improvement only that we invite the Senate to adopt it.
– Will the Minister state why the Government do not treat the land at the port as part of the territory ?
– I do not know that it is not so treated.
– It is not referred to in the Bill.
– Does my honorable friend want two territories?
– No, but I think that it ought to be part of the territory.
– With severance?
– There is an area 2 chains wide required for a railway line.
– I do not resent the interjections of my honorable friend, but I would prefer to discuss this matter later. It does involve a legal consideration, and I am not at all certain whether the difficulty which is in his mind has not been overcome by the agreement which will be presented to the Senate in a day or two.
– Shall we have the agreement before we proceed with the Bill ?
– At any rate, my honorable friends will have the agreement before the discussion proceeds much further. Practically nothing remains now to be done but the dotting of an “i” and the crossing of a “t.” We should have the agreement before us within the next two or three days.
-Before we deal with the Bill, surely?
– Necessarily, there must be some delay in connexion with the signing of the formal documents. My honorable friends can rest assured that I shall not ask the Senate to consider the matter when it is not in a position to do so. I think that the attitude which New South Wales is adopting at present is one which must commend itself to the Senate.
– A dog in the manger attitude.
– If my honorable friend will call New South Wales a “ dog in the manger,” after the statements which I have made, and which were recognised by some of his colleagues as evidencing a most reasonable frame of mind, of course, nothing will satisfy him which emanates from that State.
– Ministers are easily satisfied.
– So far as I can see. New South Wales has made a businesslike effort to bring this matter to finality. I shall be extremely disappointed if its offer is not responded to with equal cordiality by the Commonwealth. I do not propose to review the provisions of the Bill : they are such as honorable senators will be familiar with, inasmuch as they embody provisions which were in the Bill introduced in 1904 - provision for continuing the State laws after the transfer of the territory until the Commonwealth Parliament has legislated, and other provisions which are essential in the circumstances. I commend the Bill to the favorable consideration of the Senate.
SenatorColonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.37]. - I rise to second the motion, and to express the view that the modified proposal is much more in the interests of the Commonwealth than was the original recommendation. It undoubtedly gives the Commonwealth a more compact territory than that exceedingly odd-looking piece of country which is shown on what one may call the first map. But the second proposition shows a much more compact territory ; it proposes to give to the Commonwealth a much larger area of land with water rights absolutely superior to those indicated in the first proposal. I regret that a much larger number of honorable senators did not visit the locality, but those who went there must have seen that all the statements made denying the abundant water supply of the locality were really the result of lack of knowledge. As a matter of fact, the last Government set up a very comfortable encampment to enable the members of both Houses to see the place ; it was very well fixed up. I do not know why more than seventeen members of this Parliament did not visit the camp. I believe it is a fact that some honorable gentlemen had been in the neighbourhood before, and therefore did not think it needful to go again. But there was this advantage to those who went to the encampment, that they were not looking furtively for an area of country, but were visiting a locality the metes and bounds of which were clearly explained to them by that most indefatigable, most excellent surveyor, Mr. Scrivener, who was in charge of the whole enterprise. I do not think that I am trespassing on propriety when I take this opportunity of saying how admirably he caused the inspection of the site to be successful on the part of every one who went there. Every person in the emplovment of the Commonwealth carried out his duties in a completely satisfactory manner. Certainly, I spent the whole or part of five days there, and whatever doubts I may have had with regard to the water supply were utterly dissipated by what I saw.
– Mine were not.
– I do not know how far the honorable senator went. The fact that in the sources of water supply considered, the Upper Murrumbidgee is not mentioned - although it runs through the Territory - because its waters are not supposed to be of a desirable character, shows that there has been no attempt to magnify the importance of the water supply. It is proposed to give to the Commonwealth complete rights over 900 square miles, and a perfect jurisdiction over the water supply of another 500 square miles. Surely that ought to suffice for the greediest man with regard to what the Commonwealth demands should be. For all useful purposes the Commonwealth will have dominion over something like 1,400 square miles of territory, as against 67½ square miles, which is the territory of the Capital of the United States of America. As to human occupation interfering with the purity of the water supply, what about the human occupation of the portion of England which supplies London with water, or the human occupation of lands in other parts of Great Britain which supply the great cities there ? There is not the slightest expectation of any one now living being likely to be inconvenienced by lack of water at the Federal Capital, which can never be either a business centre, a commercial centre, a manufacturing centre, a mining centre, or an agricultural centre. For all future time we can only expect the Federal Capital to be a bureaucratic centre, like Washington. It is not even likely to be used for the training of armies, though its suitability for this purpose is mentioned in Mr. Scrivener’s report. It is scarcely likely to be considered desirable to bring large bodies of troops at great expense to manoeuvre over country where they are never likely to be called upon to conduct operations in actual warfare. The military operations of the Commonwealth will be conducted in future, as they have been in the past, in suitable localities near to the seaboard. Now, the Cotter water is amazingly pure.
– It is beautiful water ; the pity is that there is so little of it.
– The honorable senator comes from a State that does not contain within its area, from one end to the other, anything like a river, unless we can apply that name to the Torrens.
– There is the Murray.
– Only the tail end of the Murray flows through South Australia. But in its course through that State it is not fed by a single affluent of any kind worth mentioning. It is ridiculous for Senator Vardon to make such an interjection in face of the positive records ot the Cotter, showing a volume of water more than sufficient to supply the needs of the whole population of Melbourne and half the population of Sydney in addition. The water supply is more than ample for a population of a quarter of a million. But it is by no means likely that a quarter of a million people will live in a bureaucratic centre in a more or less out of the way portion of the Commonwealth.
– The Capital city will be there for a thousand years.
– I really cannot keep up a dialogue with my honorable friend.
– I am sorry for the honorable senator’s incapacity; he can go on.
– My honorable friend must be referring to his own capacity to follow fools’ yarns in connexion with the water supply of Yass-Canberra. None are so blind as those who will not see; but at the same time no one is so illfitted to be a judge as a man who shuts his eyes to positive records. I am not saying merely what I believe, or have seen, but point to actual figures which cannot be wafted away either by prejudice, ridicule, or lack of knowledge.
– We are proposing to put a city at Yass-Canberra which will last for all time.
– My honorable friend will not be here for al! time, and need not trouble himself so much about the far-distant future. Those who have seen the junction of the Cotter and Murrumbidgee can appreciate the value of this water supply. The site is one that is not to be soon forgotten. The pure stream of the Cotter comes down with sufficient force and volume to travel on its own side, after joining the main stream, whilst the muddy waters of the Murrumbidgee travel down along the opposite bank, the waters only merging far down in their course. It is an interesting sight, showing, not only the puritv of the Cotter, but the power of the stream to maintain its own character for purity for a considerable distance. I am not exceedingly enthusiastic about this particular site. I look upon its selection as a compromise. Were it not for the water supply and geographical position, I own that I should not care very much about the site. I do not think very much of the soil. But we do not want first-class alluvial land to build houses upon. We do not want the best agricultural soil in the Commonwealth for the purposes of the city.
– We want to have gardens.
– There is just as good ground for making gardens in Canberra as in the neighbourhood of the farinacious village which is the capital of South Australia.
– The honorable senator should come and see my roses, and he will be satisfied that we can grow anything we like in Adelaide.
– I hope that the honorable senator will live long enough to be a member of the Senate attending to his duties at the Capital to be constructed at Yass-Canberra, when he will be able to satisfy himself that he can grow there all the roses that he wants, and produce blooms of a quality to remind him of the distant, dry and dusty country from which he comes. In saying that I look upon this more as a compromise than as an ideal site, I am not throwing discredit upon thi area. I am not discounting it. But there is nothing about it which causes me to be enthusiastic, and therefore my comments are not these of a fond lover, but of a candid friend. Having regard to the tendency of population to the eastward and northward of Australia, I admit that the present railway communication does not. make the Yass-Canberra locality an. ideal one. But with the construction of a railway from Yass, I think it will be reasonably convenient to all. I know the locality well, and am speaking from ample knowledge. I know that it possesses an adequate water supply, and am convinced that it has all the qualifications which will make it a suitable future home for the Commonwealth of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
SUPPLY BILL (No. fi.
Revenue Receipts - The Tariff - Penny Postage - Telephone Service : Charges - Queensland Mail Services - Public Service : Temporary Employes - The Library : Selection of Books- Postal Commission - Stamp Printing Department : Minimum Wage.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a’-. -first time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to - That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being proceeded with and passed through all its stages forthwith.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure is merely a monthly Supply Bill to meet the ordinary recurring expenditure of the Commonwealth. There are not included in it any items which go beyond that description. But I may take this opportunity of informing the Senate - as I do with great pleasure - that there has been an improvement in the revenue receipts, both as compared with the Estimates and as compared with the receipts for the corresponding period of last year. The Customs returns at the end pf September- that is, for the first three months of the present financial year - amounted to ,£2,926,455, being an increase of £49,731 over the receipts for the corresponding period of last year. That increase, which is, of course, satisfactory, is the more so for the reason that it was anticipated that there would be for the whole year a deficiency of £43,985. In the Post Office we may say that a very healthy state of affairs is shown. The revenue for the term mentioned has been £881,517, being an. increase of £60,612 over the corresponding period of last year. The estimated increase for the present year was £140,000, of which amount the Treasurer has already received £60,000. So that, on the whole, we may take it for granted that on the revenue receipts, the position of Australia is to-day extremely satisfactory. I invite the co-operation of the Senate in passing the Bill through today. When we get into Committee I shall endeavour to furnish any information that honorable senators may desire to have.
– The Government must be congratulated upon this occasion upon having brought the Supply Bill forward in such time as will enable it to be passed so as to permit the public servants being paid in the middle of the month. But I wish to remind the Senate that although the last Supply Bill went through this Chamber in four hours, yet it was endeavoured to be made out by a Minister in another place that, owing to the action in the Senate, the Government was not able to pay the public servants their salaries on the proper date.I am glad tha’t on this occasion the Go- vernment have taken steps to prevent such a difficultv occurring.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has furnished the Senate with some details with regard to the revenue from Customs and Excise, and from the Post Office. He stated that from his point of view the financial position of the Commonwealth is satisfactory. I take the contrary view. Some time ago, Parliament, in obedience to the mandate of the people of Australia, passed a Tariff which was designed to protect and create Australian industries. If the Tariff had been effective the revenue most certainly would not have increased as it has done. I gather from the statement of the Minister that, the returns being considered satisfactory, it is not the intention of the Government to carry out the mandate of the electors and frame a Tariff which will be sufficiently protective. Everyone knows that if a Tariff protects it fails to yield revenue. The kind of Tariff that I want is one which will create the maximum of industries, whilst giving the minimum of revenue. That, I believe, is the kinjd of Tariff which the large majority of the people of Australia wish to have.
– I do not think so.
– The honorable senator is entitled to his own opinion, but the facts, as revealed by the last general election, are against him.
– Surely the present Tariff meets the views of the honorable senator, seeing that he voted for it during most of the time that it was under consideration ?
– The honorable senator may be a Revenue Tariffist, but I am discussing the view of the great majority of the electors as it was expressed at the last general election.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, he cannot enter into a discussion of the advisableness or otherwise of altering the Tariff or of instructing the Government or the Senate in regard to it. Of course, any comment that he may have to make upon the amount of revenue that is being collected under it will be quite in order. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has congratulated the Senate upon the nature of the receipts under the Tariff, but that does not entitle the honorable senator to debate at length the question of the means which should be adopted to raise revenue.
– I was under the impression that as the Vice-President of the Executive Council had congratulated the Senate and the people of Australia on the satisfactory natureof the Tariff receipts, it was open to me to express my opinion on the subject, which is the reverse of congratulatory.
– I realize that the Vice-President of the Executive Council did congratulate the Senate upon that matter. But at the present time the manner in which revenue may be raised is not open to discussion.
– Then why was the Vice-President of the Executive Council permitted to refer to the matter?
– I permitted the Vice-President of the Executive Council to make a statement regarding the amount of revenue which has been collected under the Tariff. That statement was perfectly relevant to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, inasmuch as the Senate is now asked to vote a large sum of money for administrative purposes. But remarks regarding the necessity for raising revenue, or as to the advisableness of giving effect to any mandate by the people, are not relevant to it. The question under consideration is merely whether a certain amount shall be voted for purposes of administration, and upon this motion the honorable senator is not entitled to deal with the whole question of taxation. He had his opportunityof doing that when the motion for the first reading of the Bill was submitted.
– I was not then in possession of a copy of the measure.
– Our Standing Orders clearly provide that on the motion for the first reading of a Bill of this character all sorts of questions are open for discussion.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council having congratulated the country upon the satisfactory nature of the receipts from Customs and Excise, I thought that I was entitled to do likewise.
– Within the same limits the honorable senator is entitled to do so. But he cannot discuss the method in which revenue has been raised.
– I am very glad to learn that the postal revenue is rapidly increasing. That being the case, I do hope that at a very early date the Government will take into consideration the advisableness of instituting a system of penny postage throughout theCommonwealth. I know that that is a reform which does not appeal to a great many persons, but I have always been in favour of it. I have never regarded the Post and Telegraph Department as one which ought to be required to pay its way. Ifthat principle were laid down in connexion with it, I recognise that a large number of the conveniences which are now extended to residents in the outlying portions of Australia would have to be withdrawn. If the Department should pay its way anywhere, certainly it should do so in our cities. But in my judgment it should be used largely as an aid to the development of the resources of the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that at an early date adequate facilities will be granted to persons resident in the outlying portions of the Commonwealth. I do think that our telephone charges in Australia are too low. They are much lower than those to be found in any country whose conditions at all approximate to our own. I can only conclude, therefore, that our telephone system is being conducted at a huge loss.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the telephone charges in Sweden are only £2 annually?
– I am not speaking of Sweden particularly. I have chiefly in mind countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, where the telephone charges are very much higher than they are in Australia.
– Does the honorable senator wish our postal work to be performed at an unremunerative rate?
– I would ask the honorable senator not to dwell at length upon those matters, because they are not strictly relevant to the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
– Then what is relevant ?
– Upon a motion for the second reading of a Bill of this character it is open to honorable senators to comment upon the administration of the Departments, but the honorable senator is proceeding to point out the undesirableness of continuing the existing telephone system which does not pay, and is thereby advocating the imposition of additional charges. The rule laid down in May is perfectly clear. It is that in debating a motion of this kind an honorable senator is only entitled to discuss the administration of the Department for which it is proposed to vote Supply.. It is perfectly competent for the honorable senator to discuss the administration of the Departments, but he will not he in order in debating the methods by which additional revenue may be raised, or by which an alteration may be made in the existing law.
– Is it not competent for the honorable senator to debate the telephone rates, seeing that they are part and parcel of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and that those rates may be altered either by increasing or reducing them ?
– Within the limitation mentioned. by the honorable senator, Senator Stewart would be in order.
– Then I contend that the remarks of Senator Stewart are quite in order. He is merely attempting to make it clear that the telephone rates should be increased, and is not discussing the question of taxation.
– As I have already pointed out, Senator Stewart, in discussing questions of administration is clearly within his rights. I thank Senator de Largie for directing my attention to what he conceives to be Senator Stewart’s desire.
– A too slavish adhesion to the procedure laid down by Parliamentary authorities who lived and moved under circumstances altogether different from our own may land us in serious trouble. At the present moment we are dealing with the question of granting Supply for certain public services, and I was certainly under the impression that on the motion for the second reading of this Bill I should be quite in order in claiming that the charges made for the use of our telephones are not sufficiently high. It appears to me that that question directly affects the administration of our telephone system. This is not a taxation matter. It is merely a question of payment for services rendered. I have already pointed out that our telephone charges are lower than those to be found in any country similarly circumstanced to our own. The service does not pay. It is one of great utility, more particularly so to the residents of our cities. It is probably one of the most effective labour-saving machines which has been discovered within recent years. There is not a single business firm in Melbourne or in any other city in the Commonwealth which does not annually save a large sum by the use of the telephone. Many of our private citizens also find it of very great financial advantage to them.
– A good many of them have an opposite experience.
– The honorable senator is entitled to his opinion as 1 am to mine. If the facts were . investigated I think it would be found that I have hold of the right end of the stick. I should like to see the telephone service extended very much more widely throughout the Commonwealth. I think that the Department ought to strain every nerve to give as large a proportion of the people as possible the benefit of this service, and to do so at a comparatively cheap rate. But if we charge very much less than the service actually costs, it will be impossible to extend telephonic facilities- to country districts in any degree commensurate with their necessities. I trust that at an early date the Government will review the position and put the service upon a fair paying basis. There are firms in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane which annually save hundreds of pounds at a cost probably of £4 or £5 or £10. I do not think that that is the way in which our Government Departments should be conducted. I have no desire to see the Post and Telegraph Departments worked at a profit, but certainly there ought to be no loss sustained in connexion with our telephone service. It is a vast laboursaving machine. I find, too, that the landlords are benefiting by the use of these machines. They have seized upon them as a means of raising rents. The cheap telephone is rapidly being capitalized by our land-owners. A few minutes ago Senator de Largie asked me whether 1 favoured placing the Postal service upon a paying basis equally with the Telephone service.
– I asked the honorable senator if he favoured placing it upon a non-paying basis.
– I’ wish to point out to the honorable senator the difference which exists between those services from my point of view. The telephone is chiefly used in our big centres of population, whereas the Postal service penetrates to the utmost limits of the Commonwealth. There are thousands and tens of thousands of persons to whose doors . the telephone will not be brought within the next few years. These persons must be served by the Post Office. Consequently I hold that residents in our large centres ought to be well satisfied to pay something additional in order that those who go out into the wilderness to blaze tracks and to do our pioneering work may enjoy their postal services at as cheap a rate as possible. Recently, I had occasion to interview the Secretary of the Postal Department with regard to some mail services which had been established in Queensland and by the State authorities, but which had been ‘recalled by the Commonwealth authorities. The people in these districts were complaining that the postal conveniences were much less under the Federal Government than under the State Government. The Secretary told me that the Government would not give him money to continue the services, and that, therefore, he was compelled to stop them. That is not the spirit in which the Postal Department should be conducted. If men are driven into the back blocks by force of circumstances to earn a living, surely the added disability of being deprived in a very great measure of postal communication should not be piled on to the other disabilities in connexion with their peculiar circumstances. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to take this matter into his consideration and make representations in the ‘ proper quarter. According to the last report of the Public Service Commissioner, a huge army of temporary employes is continually engaged in our Public Service. That is a thing which requires the most careful attention. There ought not to be such a number of temporary hands employed in the various Departments. The work of temporary men is, as a rule, more or less unsatisfactory. They can only be engaged for six months at a stretch. In many cases they are just beginning to be useful when they are turned into the street and cannot be re-employed for a like period except in particular circumstances. This system does not tend to efficiency. Men who are employed in that fashion never become such effective servants as those who are permanently employed. I agree with the Commissioner that the army of temporary employes ought to be much reduced. If these men are required in such numbers a large proportion of them ought to be placed on the permanent’ staff. That would be better for the men and better for the Commonwealth. It would also be better for the permanent employes, especially in the Post and Telegraph Department. I have been told by a number of permanent officers that a great part of their time is taken up in instructing a continual procession of new hands, coming and going through the office, and never becoming as efficient as they ought to be. The attention of the Government has been directed to this matter very forcibly, I think, by the Commissioner, and I trust that at a very early date something will be done to rectify a very gross mistake, so far as administration is concerned, especially in the Post and Telegraph Department. When the last Supply Bill was before the Senate I referred to a complaint on the” part of officers in the General Post Office, Brisbane, with regard to fines which had been imposed by the Deputy Postmaster-General. The VicePresident of the Executive Council promised that he would look into the matter and see whether something could not ‘be done to relieve the tension, which undoubtedly exists. The men believe that they are being unfairly treated. They have appealed to me on various occasions. I have put the matter before the Government several times, but so far as I have, heard, nothing has yet been done. I suppose that on the present occasion my remarks, although they will appear in Hansard, will pass through the ears of the representative of the Government, and will be forgotten, and that nothing will be done. That is the usual method “in regard to these matters. Unfortunately members of the Government do not seem to feel that they are under any obligation to pay the slightest attention to complaints which are made by honorable senators.
– Oh !
– That is a fact. Nearly a month ago the Minister promised faithfully that he would inquire into the complaints I had made.
– And he has faithfully carried out his promise.
– I am very glad to hear -that.’
– The honorable senator will now apologize to the Minister.
– I do apologize to the Minister, but I gathered from his attitude that he had forgotten all about it. I am very pleased to find that is not the case. I hope that he will give us the benefit of whatever information he has procured.
– With regard to Senator Stewart’s concluding remarks, of course no Minister has the right to do other than welcome any inquiries directed to him as to the working of public Departments or public matters. But I think that a Minister may reasonably ask that those who push such inquiries should refrain from jumping to the conclusion that promises given here have not been kept. If Senator Stewart had merely put a question and waited until I had replied he would have found that there was no justification for the imputation which he threw out. My promise to the honorable senator that the matter would be inquired into was immediately attended to. The Post and Telegraph Department was communicated with, with the result that reports from Brisbane were called for. The reports, when they were received, were found not to be sufficiently lucid ; further information was solicited, and that is now1 being obtained. The .honorable senator will therefore see that I did endeavour to give effect to the promise I made to him.
– I apologize. I am very glad to hear the statement.
– It is something even to have brought the honorable senator to that frame of mind. With regard to telephone rates and facilities, T suppose that every one will assent to the general proposition that the rates should be made as low and the facilities as numerous as possible. I would remind the honorable senator that it would be indiscreet to deal with these two matters at present, when we are on the eve of receiving- a report from the small Committee of financial experts which was appointed by the Government to endeavour to ascertain exactly what these services cost, before a final revision of the rates was made. That is how the position stands. No one,’ I am sure, will be more desirous than my colleague to reduce as far as he possibly can the rates at which these facilities are made available to the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to’.
– In connexion with the vote for Parliament, I desire to draw attention to the class of books which are being supplied to the Library, and to point out the harmful effect of such books upon the interests of the Commonwealth. On a recent occasion I criticised a volume entitled Australian Socialism, by a member of the Senate, which has been placed in the Library, and it is on that account that I again draw attention to the book. I quite believe that the Library contains a number of volumes that misrepresent Australia. But as the authors of them are unknown men, and irresponsible, so far as this country is concerned, we can treat them as being of no account. When, however, a member of this Senate writes a book, it is natural to expect that it will create more attention and carry more weight than would be the case if the author were unknown. We need not trouble about the harmful effects of Senator St. Ledger’s book in Australia, because here public opinion is able to appreciate the distinctions which exists in our politics. But in foreign countries - in America, for instance - the book may be taken as an authoritative statement from a person who knows the inside of public life in Australia, and is acquainted with the real distinction between political parties. In England also the book may be taken as an authoritative statement concerning public life in this country. It is for this reason that I draw attention to the dangerous effects the work is likely to have.
– My awful book again !
– If I am giving Senator St. Ledger a gratuitous advertisement he is welcome to it. But I am drawing attention to his book for the purpose of counteracting, in some degree, the misunderstanding which may arise from its publication.
– Does the honorable senator also object to the presence in the Library of a book by Senator Pulsford?
– That is a very adroit way of the honorable senator to draw attention to a work of his own. I have to confess that I did not know of its existence. I have read various articles from his pen in magazines, which tended to show that he was a confirmed Free Trader. But since then, by his party connexion, he has practically repudiated his life-long convictions on fiscal matters.
– Does the honorable senator object to the presence in the Library of magazines containing my articles?
– No; and if 1 did the time for objecting to them has gone by. I propose now to put aside my own insignificant opinions on literary matters, and to quote the opinion of a man who is an authority on economic subjects. When I state that he is the holder of the responsible position of professor in a German University, it will be seen that he speaks with some authority.
– What is the name of the professor?
– I am alluding to Professor Alfred Manes, doctor of law and philosophy of the Commercial University of Berlin. An interview with this gentleman is published in the West Australian of 1 6th September, and in the course of it he has something to say about Senator St. Ledger’s book. He says -
Incidentally, I would like to point out how hard it is for a foreigner to obtain accurate and reliable informative works on the economic and social questions which have received the attention of Australian legislators from time to time. For instance, a politician named St. Ledger, who is one of the Queensland members of the Federal Senate, has written a book on Socialism in Australia. I have read that book veTy thoroughly, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it is, to my mind, an entirely misleading production. The people of Australia know, just as well as I know, that the Labour party throughout the Commonwealth, and the Socialistic party are not one and the same body.
– What is that?
– This is the opinion of Professor Manes. He goes on -
Throughout the whole of the book, Senator St. Ledger does not mention this difference, but invariably refers to the Labour party as a revolutionary Socialistic party. I cannot understand such nonsense being written by any responsible person, much less by a member of the Federal Senate.
– Will the honorable senator deny the statement that the Labour party is absolutely Socialistic in its tendency and ultimate aims?
– I say that the Labour party does not advocate revolutionary Socialism, and that makes all the difference.
– Is it a Socialistic party ?
– It is an evolutionary Socialistic party, but not a revolutionary Socialistic party ; and when Senator St. Ledger devotes a little more study to the subject he will be able to appreciate the difference.
– The end is the same, but the means are different.
– Professor Manes, in the interview from which I am quoting, goes on -
You have a Socialistic party in Australia, but Tom Mann and Andrew Fisher would never be placed in the same category by people having any intelligence. The production I refer to is the worst book I have ever read on Australia - and that by a Senator ! It bristles, with mistakes. Mr. St. Ledger comes from Queensland, and apparently has gone to no pains to investigate the subject of Socialism in Australia beyond the borders of his own State. His statement that Lane was the founder of Socialism out here is apparently made because he speaks out of his knowledge of the movement in Queensland only, and has not dipped into the archives of other States. Place the book in the hands of a foreigner, and the standing of the author will endow it with a certain atmosphere of authority.
– I rise to order. Can an honorable senator be permitted to read a lengthy criticism of a book and its author simply because the volume is to be found in the Parliamentary Library ? It appears to me that if this practice is to be allowed we might debate a Supply Bill for months. An honorable senator might take up book after book and criticise it.
– The question which Senator Pulsford has raised has been troubling me. I do not think that Senator de Largie is entitled to pursue his argument, and to quote at great length, nor will he be in order in attacking the author of the bock in question.
– I shall, if necessary move a request for the reduction of the vote on account of the Library, for the purpose of conveying an instruction to the Library Committee to be careful to see that books taken into the Library are not of a harmful kind, and do not and are not calculated to be harmful to this country. I have only a few more lines to quote from the interview.
– What is this man a professor of ?
– Humbug !
– That is an extremely ill-mannered remark. Senator Pulsford professes to be very polite, and has frequently lectured some of us for attacks made upon individuals. Yet see what kind of a remark he makes upon a distinguished stranger who has been visiting this country. The remainder of the interview, as affecting Senator St. Ledger’s book, is as follows : -
Unless he has a sufficient prior knowledge of the. subject to detect the inaccuracies, he will accept as true statements which are not in ac cordance with fact. The position is entirely unfair to foreign students of Sociology, and it seems as though political considerations have reigned in this connexion, rather than established facts. For myself, I think that truth should be placed first in the publication, political motive second.
I consider that the opinion of a professor who is a doctor of law and philosophy of one of the principal universities in Europe should carry some weight.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.13 -p.m.
-The criticism of Senator St. Ledger’s book by a German professor, which I quoted before the fitting was suspended, was so severe that I feel it is quite unnecessary for me to add to it. That criticism was written by a gentleman who occupies a high position in the literary world, and who is absolutely unbiased. He has declared that the book is the worst one upon Australia that he has ever read, and I am quite content to leave it at that.
– I think that I am fairly entitled to make some reply to the remarks of Senator de Largie. They will be of a brief character, and personal to this alleged German professor.
– “ Alleged “ professor ?
– Yes. I do not know whether or not he is a professor, and, as a matter of fact, I do not care. When he came to Australia I happen to know that he interviewed Mr. Fisher, either for the purpose of receiving, or of imparting, information. As a result of that interview he arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Fisher and the Labour party were grossly misrepresented outside the Commonwealth as well as inside it. He left the Leader of the Labour party under the impression that that party was simply an enlightened1 wing of a new Liberalism. As a result of his interview with Mr. Fisher, he arrived’ at the conclusion that the Age and Argus were grossly misinforming the public in regard to the nature of Germany’s naval policy. He carefully explained, not only to that gentleman, but also to other Australians, that it was lamentable that twosuch journals should impart misleading information to the public upon that subject.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the motion under consideration is one which has been submitted by Senator de Largie.
– No motion has been submitted. I think that Senator St. Ledger has a perfect right to tell us who is this German professor, so far as the book which the honorable senator has published is concerned, but he has no right to discuss other matters.
– This alleged German professor visited a friend of mine, and told him that we were being grossly misinformed in regard to German matters. He added that the ideas which we entertained in reference to Australian Socialism must be all wrong, because he had received a different explanation of it from Mr. Fisher himself. My friend advised the professor, before concluding that Mr. Fisher and the Labour party were the sucking doves of Liberalism instead of the roaring lions of Socialism, to read my book. He did so. He remained some time afterwards in our midst.
– How long?
– Whatever time he may have remained, he was careful not to comment in public upon the accuracy or inaccuracy of the statements contained in my book whilst he was in Australia. He was equally careful not to utter a single word condemnatory of those two awful journals, the Age and Argus, and their misrepresentations of German navalpolicy. What did he do? He waited until he was clear of Australia, and then he delivered his attack upon me and my book. Most Britishers will regard conduct of that sort as cowardly. If he be a professor and a University man, surely, as he had interviewed Mr. Fisher for the purpose of deriving some impressions of Socialism, he ought to have extended to me the courtesy of a visit before attacking me. It is to be hoped that the chivalry of German soldiers is of a higher character than that of some alleged German professors. A professor who indulges in conduct like that of which this alleged German professor has been guilty is a discredit to his class and to the University to which- he says he belongs. I thank Senator de Largie and the professor for having done a great deal to advertise my book. I think, however, that I am justified in making this explanation, in view of the criticism aif this awful German professor. In replv to the statement that the book can be obtained in the Parliamentary Library, I wish to say that I am informed that it is never on the shelves, and that it has been ordered six deep already.
– Then the complaint really is that it is not in the Library.
– That was the trouble with Senator Neild’s poems.
– No. The reason why my book cannot be obtained is that the demand for it is far in excess of the supply. As against the criticism of this alleged German professor, who is more or less a discredit to his class and to his university, I may mention that my book has been favorably reviewed both in Australia and England. Lest honorable senators or the people of Australia may think otherwise, I may be pardoned for mentioning, in opposition to the views of this alleged German philosopher, that two reviews of high standing throughout the world - the Contemporary Review and the Academy - have spoken most highly of it. The former has not merely reviewed it favorably, but has recommended it to the attention of every British politician. In view of Senator de Largie’s criticism, and of the adverse comments by this alleged German professor, I must ask my honorable friends to purchase a copy of the book, and I promise them that from it they will gain some very useful information. They will find in it a paragraph which states that Mr. Fisher, in speaking of the Socialistic programme, made this declaration - “ Eliminate Socialism from the Labour party, and the Labour party has nothing.”
– I have no desire to discuss the merits or demerits of Senator St. Ledger’s book, but I think that a serious situation has been disclosed by Senator de Largie. It is not the first time that a book has disappeared from the Library, and I think that it is time some drastic action was taken. Upon a previous occasion, Senator Neild, at considerable trouble, produced a book of poems. Ex-Senator Higgs discovered it, and while Senator St. Ledger’s book has attracted some attention, it is not a circumstance to the attention which was attracted by Senator Neild’s poems. We know that honorable senators , found those poems very useful. They were quoted by all sections of the Senate. But, as the demand for those poems increased, the book suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. When a book has been published by an honorable senator, which will go down to history as one of the works of our early poets, it is a serious matter that it should suddenly disappear from our Parliamentary Library, and that we should be unable to replace it. Discarding the light and airy paths of poetry, another honorable senator has recently ventured into the domain of political economy. And, again, the same thing has happened. His book has disappeared in the most mysterious manner.
– Arguing upon the lines adopted by Sherlock Holmes, I would say that, upon presumptive evidence, Senator de Largie should be asked for it.
– I have a suspicion that Senator de Largie is keeping it out of circulation, either for the purpose of preventing the spread of knowledge or for the purpose of preventing honorable senators equipping themselves to discuss principles of political economy which might be involved in such Bills as the Inter- State Commission Bill.
– May I say that the book is on my table.
– After that confession I think the Library Committee should summon the Chairman of Committees ‘ to explain why he keeps this book out of circulation. I hope the Library Committee will not hesitate to do their duty.
– As a member of the Library Committee I take a good deal of exception to tome of the remarks made by Senator Pearce. The Committee placed only two copies of Senator St. Ledger’s book on the Library shelves. This number does not appear to be sufficient to supply the demand for the work, and, in view of what Senator Pearce has said, I shall make it my business to interview the Librarian and see_whether the supply cannot be increased. I have made inquiries, and have found that the book has not been kept out longer than the usual time allowed under the rules of the Library. So far as the disappearance of “Senator Neild’s book of poems is concerned, that appears to me to be a very much more serious matter. We have, at all events, two volumes of Senator St. Ledger’s book available for honorable senators, but I gather from Senator Pearce that Senator Neild’s book of poems has been taken away and has never been returned. The Library -Committee find that occasionally members of Parliament who take books from the Library do not return them. In some cases book’s ‘ have not been returned for a very considerable time. I shall make it my business, in view of what has been said to have inquiries instituted to see whether it is not possible to recover from members of Parliament books which, in some cases, have been held back for two and three years.
.- I should like to know whether the Commonwealth Stamp Department comes under the Government Printing Department in the Treasurer’s Estimates.
– - I shall be glad to get some information concerning the vote of ^1,000 for the Royal Commission on Postal Services. When is the work of the Commission likely to be completed and the expenditure in connexion with it brought to a close?
– Senator Walker is aware that other honorable senators have already sought similar information, with more or less success. The last time the question was asked, I informed the Senate that a communication had been addressed to the Chairman, of the Postal Commission, and the reply was that the Commission anticipated closing the taking of evidence within a period of three weeks from the date on which the reply was written. They would then proceed to consider the evidence with a view to the preparation of their report. Speaking from memory, I think the letter concluded with the statement that it is not likely that the report will be presented this session.
[2.38]. - Senator Findley has asked for some information concerning the Commonwealth Stamp Printing Department. If he will refer to page 46 of the Estimates-in-Chief he will find that the officer in charge is under the Treasurer, and a vote of ^335 is provided for his salary. No portion of the amount is included in the Supply Bill now before the Committee.
.- I should like to know whether since the appointment of this officer to” his position in the Commonwealth service his salary has been increased, and, if so, by how much.
– He has rereived an increment of ^25 this year.
– A number’ of male and female employes, have been transferred from the State Printing Department to this Department of the Commonwealth service.
As they are over twenty-one years of age, and were in the service of the State Department for a lengthened period, they were under the impression that they would be entitled to the minimum salary of£110 fixed by the Public Service Act. I have heard that they have made application to be paid the salary to which they feel they are justly entitled, and have been given to understand that perhaps their claims will receive consideration next year. I do not think that Parliament ever intended that any injustice should be done to any member of the Public Service, but it appears to me that some injustice is being done to employes in the Commonwealth Stamp Department.
– The Stamp Printer was in receipt of a salary of£310 under the South Australian Government when he was transferred to the Commonwealth Department, and he has since been given an increase of £25.
– I am not so much concerned about the increase of salary which this gentleman has received, as with the fact that employe’s in the Department who are entitled to the minimum salary, are not receiving it. When the Stamp Printer has been given a higher salary than he received before he was transferred to the Commonwealth service at least justice should be done to other transferred employés in the same Department. If the Stamp Printer is to be the sole judge as to whether employes in the Stamp Printing Department should receive the minimum salary of£110 a year, a provision of an Act of this Parliament may be openly evaded. Are we to understand that the overseer of a particular Department is to decide whether the work of employes engaged in it is worth the minimum salary fixed by the Public Service Act? I believe that some of the employés to whom I have referred are entitled to the minimum salary of£110 a year, although they are not getting anything like that salary.
– How long is it since the Commonwealth took over the Stamp Printing Department?
– Since April last.
– Since that date the Stamp Printer has received an increase of salary.
– He occupies a more important position than the employés to whom the honorable senator refers.
– I am not disputing that. I know nothing good, bad, or indifferent about him. But I do know that some employés in the Department are not getting what they are entitled to receive. We should be just before we are generous, and before an increase of salary is gr anted to an officer who was previously in receipt of a fair salary, lower-paid employes should at least be given the minimum wage fixed by the Public Service Act.
– If what Senator Findley has said is correct, I think that the Government are in this matter acting rather meanly. Under
The Public Service Act any employé twentyone years of age, who has been three years in the service, must receive a minimum salary of £110 a year. The Stamp Printing Department has not been taken over by the Commonwealth sufficiently long to enable the employés engaged in it to qualify by length of service under the Commonwealth for the statutory minimum salary. These employes served for a lengthened period in the State Department from which they have been transferred, and the Government should not be guilty of the pitiable meanness of sheltering themselves behind the technicality that they have not been three years in the Commonwealth service, in order to avoid paying them the minimum salary provided by law.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request, and passed through its remaining stages.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 7th October, vide page 4232) :
Clause 2 -
The Governor-General may appoint some person to be the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom.
Upon which Senator Lynch had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added, “Provided that the first appointment shall be made before the thirtieth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and nine.”
– Surely there can be no justification for this attempt by Senator Lynch to insert in the Bill an amendment of this nature. There is no precedent to justify its adoption, and there is nothing in the measure to make its adoption desirable. I cannot see any solid reason in his statement yesterday for putting in the amendment, and I hope that he will withdraw it.
– It seems to me that Senator Lynch is landing himself in a dilemma. Suppose that the appointee is acceptable to Parliament, or, if you like, to the people of Australia, then the insertion of a date does not matter. Again, suppose that the appointee is unacceptable either to Parliament or to the people, the time of appointment does not matter. What practical purpose can be achieved by inserting a time limit, I cannot see. It must be obvious that no purpose can be achieved. On a previous occasion I stated that the appointment of a High Commissioner was of as” grave importance and responsibility as the appointment of a Judge to the High Court Bench. I am not aware that when the original or subsequent appointments to that Bench were to be made, honorable senators on the other side, or a single member of this Parliament, had the audacity to ask the Government to name a time limit. Why should they ask for a time limit in regard to this particular appointment ? For the purpose of criticism they may say. But how can criticism avail them under ‘a time limit? What sort of Government would it be which, charged with the control of the affairs of the Commonwealth, would accept dictation regarding an important appointment? As other important appointments are not subjected to such a restriction! as a. time limit, why is one desired in this case? It is patent on the face of it that even if Senator Lynch had a bond fide purpose in moving his amendment, it will be absolutely futile to effect any good object. But if it is submitted for the purpose of trying to drag a tin pot or can across the floor of the chamber, then it is a mere waste of time. I cannot see what practical or useful or immediate object he seeks to attain. If he dreamt that he would embarrass or influence the Government by the adoption of these tactics, then if he is successful he is simply declaring his opinion that they are not fit to be trusted with the making of this important appointment. If he really holds that view he should take direct action. I hope that the amendment will not be pressed, or that if it is to be pressed we shall get an indication of some useful purpose which it is hoped to serve.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) that circumstances alter cases. I fancy that it applies here, because in the opening speech put into the mouth of the GovernorGenera] by the Fisher Government there was a notification that a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner would be introduced this session. I venture to say that if that Government had introduced a Bill it would not have contained either a date or a name, and would have been accepted by honorable senators on the other side without any question. The’ responsibility for making this appointment rests with the Government. I do not agree with Senator Stewart that the Government is simply a Committee for the purpose of carrying out the wishes of the Senate. Ministers are put in the responsible position of the leaders of the Parliament, and if we have not sufficient confidence in them to give them an opportunity of making this appointment at what they believe to be the proper time, we ought not to allow them to remain in office. If the Bill is passed and the appointment of a High Commissioner is delayed, Parliament can always call the Ministry to account. We can even go so far as to refuse to vote Supply until we know who is to be appointed. I do not see any necessity to put in the Bill either a date for making the appointment or the name of the first High Commissioner, I hold myself at liberty to condemn the Ministry if they do not make an appointment within a reasonable time, or if they do not appoint a suitable man. I intend to vote for the clause as it stands.
– I do not know whether the mover of this amendment had an idea in his mind of forcing the Government to end this session on the 30th day of November.
– Because if it were carried in each House, and the Government found it inconvenient to make an appointment, they could close the doors of Parliament.
– They would have to get Supply first.
– Perhaps this is a cunningly devised scheme to allow some persons to go to their electorates.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government would be afraid to make an appointment whilst Parliament is sitting ?
– They might find it very inconvenient to do so. It is inconvenient for the Government to appoint a member of Parliament to a public position during a session, because it involves the vacation of his seat and the election of another member. It seems to be taken for granted that the High Commissioner must necessarily be a man. But in these days of women’s rights is there any good reason why this officer may not be a lady of great intelligence ?
– The question of the High Commissioner’s sex is not before the Committee, and the honorable senator is only entitled to speak to the amendment.
– If the Senate carries this amendment, and it is rejected elsewhere, there will be a needless loss of time. I hope that Senator Lynch will take the advice of his many friends on this side, and withdraw it.
– I hardly expect that Senator Lynch will withdraw the amendment, because, much as I should like him to do so, it is quite obvious that he is taking a deep interest in the discussion. He appears to be following every word, and, therefore, I assume that he regards his proposal as vital, at any rate’ to his political future, if not to the fate of the Bill. I should not like him to think that’ by silence on my part I consider for a moment that there is any reason why this amendment should be made. I was amused yesterday, by Senator Stewart, when I pointed out that this is quite a new practice which is sought to be established here. He amused himself - and I think that one or two honorable senators followed suit - by saying that I was merely opposed to the idea because it is new. Nothing was further from my thoughts, and nothing, I venture to say, was further from my general course of political action. What I did say was that, hieing new, there ought to be some good sound reason for its introduction. I asked what was that reason, and no one has yet given an answer to my question. No one has yet given the real reason for submitting the amendment.
– I have told the Minister quite fairly what the reason was. I want the announcement to be made before Parliament is prorogued.
– My honorable friend wants more than that. If he wishes to show his fairness, he should act towards this Billin the same manner as he would have acted if it had been brought forward by the previous Government. Those who now say that this measure is premature, a little while ago supported a Government that intended to submit a precisely similar measure.
– We were not pledged to support the last Government with regard to the High Commissioner.
– It would not have required a pledge to causemy honorable friends opposite to vote with the late Government. The division bell would have been sufficient. The real object of submitting this amendment is to register a want of confidence in the Government.
– Is the honorable senator now cracking the party whip?
– I am merely stating facts. Only a few months ago, Senator Lynch and others expressed confidence in the Government to the extent that they granted supply. That being so, it is curious that the same honorable senator should now desire to register a lack of confidence in the same Administration. I feel sure that the amendment springs solely from a suggestion which sprung from exSenator Higgs a few years ago. On that occasion, I strenuously opposed anything that would hamper the Government of the day in performing an act of administration. I was then in Opposition. It is hardly likely that I am going to change my attitude now.
– I am opposed to the appointment of a High Commissioner until the States agree to surrender some of their powers in regard to representation in London. I think the appointment premature. But, although some years ago, when I was sitting in Opposition, I expressed the opinion that the choice of the Government should be submitted to Parliament, I did so because I did not think at that time that we had responsible government. I had no confidence in the Government. In the present instance I have confidence in the Government, and shall vote so as to express the opinion that it is a right and proper thing that they should appoint their own officer.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added, “subject to the ratification of the Parliament then in session.”
I submit this amendment with the object of giving Parliament a chance to ratify the choice of the Government. In my secondreading speech, I expressed the opinion that the appointment should be removed from party politics as far as possible.
– Such a course has never been adopted under responsible government.
– I cannot help that. I consider that- the course proposed is necessary. I do not see why the Government should be afraid to submit their choice to Parliament.
– Has the honorable senator considered whether his amendment is not to the same effect as the amendment just negatived ?
– I think not, but it is for you, sir, to consider that point.
– The honorable senator may proceed.
– If the appointment is made subject to ratification by Parliament, it will be removed from the arena of party politics. Another phase of the matter is that the minority in Parliament should have an opportunity of expressing its views on the appointment.
The minority on this occasion is not composed only of members of the Labour party. I venture to say that there are fifty or fifty-two members of this Parliament, out of in, who would be in a minority with regard to the choice of the Government. In a Democratic country, the Government should have no objection to submitting their administrative acts for the approval of Parliament.
– I think that the Committee will realize that the amendment is a work of supererogation. It will at any time be possible for a member of either House of the Legislature to move to condemn the Government on account of any appointment made. That being the case, why insert in the Bill an amendment requiring the choice of the Government to be submitted to Parliament? Parliament always has power to review any appointment.
– I should like to tell the Government, with all due respect, that whilst I am prepared to accord them any assistance that I can, I do think that in regard to such an important appointment as that of the High Commissioner, they ought, before this Parliament prorogues, to make some declaration of their intentions. We must all recognise that it would be most undesirable, for any Government to make an appointment of such importance whilst Parliament was in recess. At the same time, I cannot support Senator Needham’s amendment, because its adoption would not conduce to the maintenance of the dignity of this Chamber, and because it might land us in trouble. But I do hope that before this Bill leaves the Senate the Government will be able to intimate that they intend to make an announcement in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner before the session closes.
– Nobody would have proposed this amendment if the previous amendment had been accepted.
– Personally I should have been very glad if the Government had disarmed the previous amendment by stating their deliberate intention to make this important appointment before the prorogation nf Parliament. Of course I can conceive nf circumstances which might render it impossible for them to make the appointment within a month or two. But I cannot consent to allow the Bill to pass from the Senate until we have had a de- finite pronouncement from the Government upon this matter.
– If the object of the amendment be to prevent the appointment of an incapable person to the office of High Commissioner, or the appointment of a man under improper circumstances. T would point out that it is quite unnecessary. Sub-clause 2 of clause 3 provides -
The High Commissioner may at any time be removed from office by the Governor-General for misbehaviour or incapacity or upon a joint address of both Houses of Parliament.
It will thus be seen that if an incapably person be appointed to the position of High Commissioner, it is within the power of the Parliament to remove him. That, I take it, is a sufficient protection against any abuse of power on the part of the Government.’ Knowing that that provision is contained in the Bill, the Ministry will exercise the greatest care in making an appointment. But I hope that they will hold themselves free to exercise their own discretion in this matter, and that they will not yield to any influences which may be brought to bear upon -them!
– Does the honorable senator think that an appointment of this sort ought to be made during recess ?
-I am dealing with the suggestion that the name of the High Commissioner should be disclosed during the progress of the Bill through the Senate. I would point out that when the Judiciary Bill was under consideration, the names of the gentlemen who were to be appointed Justices of the High Court were not disclosed.
– Is that an analogous case?
– To my mind it is conclusively an analogous one. Clearly the object of the amendment is to embarrass the Government. Senator Clemons has urged that the name of the gentleman who is to be appointed High Commissioner should be announced before the Bill leaves this Chamber.
– Not at all. I merely said that the appointment should be made while Parliament was in session.
– Does not that imply that the name of the gentleman selected for the office must be disclosed ? I maintain that the appointment of a High Commissioner is quite as important as was the appointment of Justices to the High Court.
– Of course I am conscious of the force of the suggestion which has been put forward by Senator Clemons, and I can quite appreciate the point of view from which he spoke. If I understand his position, he holds that the High Commissioner should be appointed whilst Parliament is in session.
– Yes, if that course be practicable.
– My honorable friend now begins to recognise the difficulty of reducing his suggestion to a definite proposition. While it may seem comparatively easy to fix a date by which the appointment shall be made, anybody who looks below the surface must see that there may be difficulties in the way of doing that.
– A good many.
– If the position were being offered to my honorable friend, 1 could not conceive of any difficulty occurring. But in other circumstances, such a limitation might have the effect of restricting the choice of the Government. Can Senator Clemons tell me the date upon which this session will terminate? The Government have never yet considered the question of who should be appointed High Commissioner, and I think it would have been wrong for them to do so until this Bill had been passed. Our first duty is to ascertain whether Parliament is willing to create this high office. Until we have ascertained that, we cannot consider the propriety of making any appointment at all. When the Bill has been approved by both branches of the Legislature, we shall give the question of selecting a suitable gentleman for the office of High. Commissioner the earliest possible attention. That is all I can say.
– Senator St. Ledger has pointed out that this Parliament can review any appointment that may be made by the Government under this Bill.
– Not this Parliament.
– I am not speaking of the present Parliament, but of any Commonwealth Parliament. Would it not be better to submit to Parliament the name of the gentleman who is to be appointed; High Commissioner before he leaves for London than to permit him to go there and perhaps be subsequently recalled ? Senator St. Ledger has affirmed that the proposed appointment is analogous to that of- appointments to our High Court Bench. I say that there is no analogy between the two things. In the one instance gentlemen were appointed to dispense justice who should be entirely above suspicion ; whereas in the other, the Government intend to appoint a representative of the Commonwealth in London who will have nothing whatever to do with the dispensing of justice. I did expect that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have made some reference to my amendment. But like other honorable senators who have found themselves leaders of this Chamber, and who have been supported by brutal majorities, he did not condescend to refer to it, because he recognises that he possesses the requisite numbers. If hehad not those numbers, he would be the very first man to ask me to withdraw it. I shall press the amendment, and I hope that honorable senators will see that there is reason for declaring that this Parliament should have some voice in ratifying such an important appointment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Now that the Committee have shown their confidence in the Government, and that they are opposed to compelling them to do anything under duress, I should like to say that I think the Government will consult their own dignity and the wishes of their supporters if they can see their way before the session closes to disclose to Parliament the name of the gentleman who is to occupy the office of High Commissioner. They will be going before the country at the general election, and I think they would do well to show that they are not afraid to face Parliament or the country.
– I think the honorable senator’s remarks are not in order, the Committee having negatived amendments proposed with the object of having the name of the High Commissioner stated.
– I have said all that I wish to say. I express my own desire, and, I think, the desire of other honorable senators on this side, when I say that I think Parliament should be informed of the name of the gentleman appointed to this position.
.- This is an extraordinary exhibition to which we are being treated. An honorable senator after voting” No” twice, gets up now and says “ Yes.”
– Nothing of the sort.
– At the bidding of the Whip.
– That is an untruth. The Whip never spoke to me.
– I ask whether Senator McColl is in order in characterizing my statement as an untruth ?
– The honorable senator ought not to have used the word. It is unparliamentary.
– I ask that Senator McColl should withdraw his statement.
– Senator W. Russell said that the remarks which I made just now were made at the bidding of the Whip. That statement was not correct. 1 never spoke to the Whip.
– I ask you, sir, to see that Senator McColl withdraws the expression which he made use of. I want fair play for honorable senators on this side.
– I withdraw the word “ untruth.” I say that the honorable senator’s statement was not correct, and it was unworthy of him to make such a statement.
– I have already intimated to Senator McColl that he was out of order in suggesting that the name of the person appointed as High Commissioner should be mentioned. I cannot permit a discussion as to the person to be appointed.
– I remind you, sir, that clause 2 has not yet been passed, and that it is open for discussion by the Committee.
– The honorable senator forgets that an amendment dealing with the matter referred to by Senator McColl has been rejected.
– You appear, sir, to know more than I do myself about what I am going to say. You have apparently decided, before you hear it, that what 1 am going to say is out of order. Clause 2 is still open for discussion by the Committee, and I intend to discuss it until I am ruled out of order. As one of those who believe that a High Commissioner should be appointed at the earliest possible date, I would go further than is proposed in the clause and say in the Bill who the High Commissioner should be. I was prepared to compromise the matter by fixing a date before which the appointment should be made, but that was not agreed to by the Government. It will be a cause of the greatest dissatisfaction to the country and to members of the Parliament if this appointment is made at a time when it cannot be effectively criticised. There is grave danger that this may occur, because the Prime Minister has in the past been dilatory in the making of an important appointment. I refer to his delay in appointing a Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, which gave rise to the greatest dissatisfaction and discontent, and resulted in the most disgraceful disorganization of the public service of that Territory. It is not unreasonable to assume that the Prime Minister will be guilty of similar inaction again. I impress upon the Government the necessity for making this appointment before the close of the session.
– An amendment to provide for that has been negatived.
– I am aware that certain amendments have been negatived, but the whole clause is under review.
– The honorable senator is repeating almost the exact words of an amendment that has been negatived by the Committee.
– I am not responsible for what has been negatived by the Committee.
– I am.
– I shall discuss the clause until I am ruled out of order. Do you, sir, contend that if I had only just entered this chamber I should be debarred, in discussing this clause, from suggesting that the name of the person appointed as High Commissioner should be mentioned, or that the appointment shouldbe made before a certain date, because amendments dealing with those matters have been considered ?
– The Chairman is in a hurry.
– I am not in a hurry. I believe that a High Commissioner should be appointed, but I think the appointment should be made when the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled may have an opportunity to approve of the appointment if it is a good one, or to condemn it if they consider it a bad one. I hope that an appointment of which we can all approve will be made, but we should have some assurance from the Government that it will be made without undue delay, that is to say, within the course of the next six or seven weeks, so. that both Houses of this Parliament may be able to express their approval or disapproval before the close of the session.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Subject to the consent of the GovernorGeneral, the High Commissioner, for the purpose of more economically and effectively advancing the material interests and welfare of every part of Australia, shall also, at the request of the Governments of the several States, perform for the States functions and duties similar to those hereinbefore described and similar to those now discharged by the AgentsGeneral of the States, and shall perform the same without discrimination or preference, or to the advantage or disadvantage of any State as regards another State.
– It will be remembered that on the second-reading stage of the Bill, Senator Symon suggested some alteration of the wording of this clause. Itwas pointed out that it appears to provide for the State Governments communicating directly with the High Commissioner. I propose to ask the Committee to make certain amendments in the clause which will overcome that objection.
Amendments (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the words, “ Subject to the consent of the Governor-General,” lines1 and 2, be left out.
That the words, “ at the request of the Governments of the several States,” lines 5 and 6, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ if the Governor-General so directs.”
That after the word “ States,” line ro, the words “ and shall perform the same without discrimination or preference, or to the advantage or disadvantage of any State as regards’ another State,” be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 - (1.) The salary of the High Commissioner shall be Three thousand pounds a year, and shall be paid to him monthly out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated for that purpose accordingly. (2.) The High Commissioner shall be paid, out of moneys to be provided by the Parliament, the expenses, not exceeding Two thousand pounds a year, of an official residence, and such sums for travelling expenses as the Minister allows.
.- I move-
That the word “Three,” line 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Four.”
This would provide for a salary of£4,000 a year, and £2,000 allowance. It is possible that the allowance may not amount to £2,000 a year. We should not take it for granted that the High Commissioner will spend the total allowance provided for unless it is necessary.
– Does the honorable senator think that he will not expend the money if it is there for him to expend ?
– I think so. There are some men who are so constituted that they will not put down any sum for expenses unless it is absolutely necessary; but there are others who look upon an allowance as a part of the salary. Two or three honorable senators have said that they would support the amendment, and I propose to put it to the vote.
– Does the honorable senator propose to reduce the allowance from £2,000 to £1,000?
– I ask the Committee not to accept the amendment. There has been a wide divergence of views expressed as to whether the salary is too high or too low. In fixing upon a salary of £3,000, with an allowance of , £2,000-
– The allowance will not necessarily be spent.
– My honorable friend, even with his Scotch frugality, would not expect to get much relief under that heading. The £2,000 is appropriated for an express purpose. It is not desirable that the gentleman who goes Home to re present Australia shall simply go for the purpose of spending money, or making unnecessary parade. Our object is to send him there with an allowance which will enable him to maintain his position comfortably to himself and without discredit to Australia. The Government think that, in fixing upon a salary of £3,000, they fixed upon a happy medium. For that reason I ask Senator Walker to withdraw his amendment.
– I have some sympathy with the proposition that perhaps a higher salary might be attached to the office, because I believe that a low salary has a tendency to restrict the field of choice to men of less wealth. If Senator Lynch’s amendment had been carried, I might have been prepared to vote for this amendment, because then we should have had a check over the appointment. I am not like some honorable senators on the other side. I have no confidence in theGovernment. I feel confident that this appointment will be made for purely political purposes, especially in view of the action of the Government in rejecting the amendment of Senator Lynch.
– The honorable senator would not have accepted that amendment if he had been in my place.
– I think that I would have done so.
– My honorable friend’s colleagues elsewhere said that they would not.
– If the Government are in earnest, surely they know whether or not they will make the appointment before the end of November, as Senator Lynch desired to provide in the Bill. But they have practically said: “ We have no intention of making an appointment until Parliament is out of session.” They do not intend to give Parliament an opportunity of criticising the appointment, and as I do not know for what purpose it might be used, I cannot vote for the amendment.
– I cannot understand why Senator Walker has moved this amendment. I believe that it will not be possible for the Commonwealth to secure the best man as its representative unless a salary commensurate with the office is provided. Why did not Senator Walker give some reasons for submitting this proposal?
– In my second-reading speech I gave my reasons, and if the hon- orable senator wants to hear them again, I shall repeat them.
– At that time I was 1,700 or 1,800 miles from Melbourne, and consequently I did not hear the honorable senator’s reasons. What duties will the High Commissioner be called upon to discharge? He is not going to London to be a leader of society, or to incur very large expenditure in connexion with functions; but, from the remarks of honorable senators on the other side, one would think that he is to be much the same as a Governor, who is generallyvalued by the amount of money which he is able to spend. If I understand aright, the duties of the High Commissioner in London will be to represent Australia in all capacities ; to give information to the press regarding the state of affairs here, and, if he finds that Australia has been traduced, as it has been dozens of times, to supply a prompt contradiction from his office, and to see that the business of the Commonwealth is conducted to the best possible advantage. If we were sending a man to London with the object of keeping up a big establishment and making a splash, probably he would require a salary of £10,000 or £15,000, because there would be much advertising going on, andhe would be the centre of a coterie. But that is not the sort of representative we want. It seems to me that Senator Walker should give better reasons than I have yet heard for increasing the salary.
– I order to enable me to give a vote on the amendment, I should like the Minister to explain what sub-clause 2 refers to. It says -
The High Commissioner shall be paid, out of moneys to be provided by the Parliament, the expenses, not exceeding £2,000 a year, of an official residence, and such sums for travelling expenses as the Minister allows.
Are travelling expenses to be covered by the allowance of £2,000?
– Travelling expenses are to be allowed, in addition to that sum.
– I sympathize with the object which Senator Walker has in view, but as travelling expenses will be defrayed by the Commonwealth, I do not know that I can support the proposed increase of salary.
– Before asking leave to withdraw the amendment, I desire to say a few words for the information of Senator Turley. I am one of those who. do not wish to see this appointment necessarily go to a rich man. Many a rich man would be prepared to take the position for the sake of the honour and glory attached thereto; but if we value a poor man in the office, we should enable him to maintain his position with others! I had not noticed before that the allowance of £2,000 does not include travelling expenses. It seems that they will be quite exclusive of that sum. I may mention that the Ambassador for the United States occupies a house in Park Lane for which I do not believe he pays a penny under £2,000 a year. In order to save time, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment, because Senator Pearce, who gave me to understand that he was in favour of increasing the amount, has withdrawn his support, and another honorable senator, who said that he intended to support my proposal, has also changed his mind.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091008_senate_3_52/>.