3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 4) presented by Senator
Henderson, and read by the Clerk Assistant.
– Immediately after it was passed I placed the resolution of the Senate before the Prime Minister, who has communicated it to the Governor- General, with a request that it be’ forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, accompanied by an intimation that the Government cordially support the application.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he can now furnish me with an answer to a question ‘ which I put to him a few days ago, with regard to cruisers of the Bristol type?
– The- armament of the vessel referred to is not yet definitely announced. It is set forth in Jane’s
Fighting Ships, 1909, as two 6-inch guns and ten 4.7 guns. Taking the Dreadnought as the unit, the fighting value of a Bristol, acccfrding to Jane, would be 6, the Dreadnought being 100. It must be remembered, however, that the rôle of the Dreadnought and of armoured ships is to fight in the line of battle, while that of the Bristol type, unarmoured, is to protect’ commerce and to scout.
Whether the Government will take early steps to establish penny postage in South . Australia, or at least for the city and suburbs of Adelaide, so that South Australia may no longer be less favorably placed in respect of postal rates than the other States? ‘
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question- is as follows : -
The present postage rates in South Australia are those which were in force prior to Federation, and have been continued under the provisions of section a of the Post and Telegraph Act 1 901. No change can, therefore, be made in the desired direction without legislation.
The whole matter of penny postage is under consideration.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon police -
If Any restriction is placed on their use, what is the nature of such restriction?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. It is assumed that the honorable member wishes to know whether country subscribers to the telephone can be furnished with the forecast by telephone from the .nearest telegraph office receiving it. If so, the Postal Regulations do not allow the use of the telephone for -this purpose.
Bil I received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Before the Sena.ce loses control over this Bill, I should like to emphasize one or two points, which I mentioned during ‘ my speech on the second reading. Before the Government consider the appointment of a High Commissioner, as they will have power to do when this Bill becomes law, I think they would be doing good service :to the Commonwealth, if they would communicate with the Premiers of the States in order to ascertain to what extent the States are prepared to transfer some of the functions now exercised by their. AgentsGeneral to the High Commissioner ; and also when they are prepared to take steps in that direction. Unless some of these functions are transferred at a very early date, I shall maintain my .opinion that there wm be nothing for the High Commissioner to do commensurate with the expense to which the Commonwealth will be put. I am borne out in that opinion by Sir -Philip Fysh, who spent years in London as Agent-General for Tasmania. I also hope that Ministers will take an early opportunity to see whether they cannot house the High Commissioner and all the Agents-General -or commercial agents of the States in -one building. That, to my mind, is a most important matter, and it is the most hopeful feature in connexion with the proposed appointment. I was very disappointed indeed when negotiations for acquiring a site in London Tell through, and Victoria built an office for herself. Other States have also made their own arrangements for permanently housing their London representatives; I hope the time will come shortly when we shall have one office and one set of officers representative of the whole of Australia. I venture also to make some criticism of the argument .of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, .when he pointed out how neil the High- .Commissioner -would <be able to deal with the question of immigration. I hold in my hand a copy o.f the Times newspaper of the 7th August last, containing :a .letter from- which J shall quote. It is . signed by Mr. Frank Pittock, of Newcastle, New South Wales,’ who takes care to let the world know that he is a magistrate, ‘ and a member pf’ the Labour party. The letter, so far as it refers to Australia, is one of the most damaging publications I ever read. Mr. Pittock writes with the express purpose of justifying the policy of the Labour party in objecting to immigration under present circumstances, and in. carrying out that idea he has made some most mischievous statements.
– We have got used to that kind of thing.
– It will be a good thing when the Commonwealth takes steps to check the efforts of a man to slander our country and to make representations that are absolutely devoid of accuracy. He writes -
We cannot at present obtain. land for our own genuine land-seekers, skilled in the peculiar requirements of pastoral and agricultural work on the Australian soil. We certainly are unable to give our own unemployed a chance on the land.
Further on he says -
Under existing conditions we are in duty bound to oppose all .State-aided immigration schemes, some of which are propped up by false and fraudulent, Ulcerative and alluring, misstatements of the situation. We dare not, as a conscientious and humanitarian party, invite out kith and kin. from other parts to come here now. We should be traitors to the Empire, betrayers of the race, if we indorsed in any way the attitude of those who seek, apparently, to flood this fair land with any population at all, regardless of the evil consequences to the immigrants themselves; and alike regardless of the grave injustice thereby done to native-born landless and, in many cases, at present, workseeking Australians.
He further writes -
It has not been, nor can it be denied, that we have not land to offer the prospective emigrant.
– Where are the slanders ?
– Who is the writer of the letter?
– Mr. Frank Pittock, a magistrate, of Newcastle, and a member of the Labour party. I made inquiries on the subject, and was assured that a reply to the letter was published by Mr. GuIIett, a sonof the gentleman who was for manyyears the able editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. The probability is that Captain Collins, to whose efficiency as our representative in Great Britain I have already testified, induced Mr. Gullett to answer the letter. That is probably the reason why the Agents-General refrained from publishing any answer to it. Mr. Gullett’s letter is an admirable one, and he makes some good points against Mr. Pittock.. He pointed out that Mr. Pittock, having done remarkably well for himself in coming to Australia, is now anxious that nobody else should follow in his footsteps, and so come into competition with him in any way. But, in my opinion, theTe is a grave omission from Mr. Gullett’s letter, and it contains one serious mistake. In the first place, he does not attempt to deny that there is no land available in Australia, and in the second place he assumes that the statement that there is no land available is correct, and goes on to say that we are turning over a new leaf, that we have seen the error of our ways, and that in all the States the Governments are now in favour of some land settlement policy. I think that it would have been much better, and would have been a crushing answer to Mr. Pittock, if each of the Agents-General had, in a short letter which the Times would have been bound to publish in reply to the incorrect statements of Mr. Pittock, pointed out that there is land available in every State in Australia, and had plainly stated the terms and conditions on which it could be occupied. It is argued that we must have in London one, and only one, representa tive of the Commonwealth to answer such statements as these. Some honorable senators contend that the statements appearing in Mr. Pittock’s letter are correct, and in answer to them I would ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council to say whether it is not a fact that land is available for immigrants in every State of the Commonwealth. If it be a fact, let it be known. I think the Government should ask the Premiers of the various States to- cable to their Agents-General with a view to the mischievous and inaccurate statements appearing in Mr. Pittock’s letter being contradicted. I cannot understand why any one should say that these things should wait until we have a high-salaried officer in London representing the Commonwealth, nor can I understand why it should be supposed that such an officer could do the work required to be done there in such respects better than the six officers representing the States, who, it should be remembered, are citizens of the Commonwealth. I shall not labour the matter further. I have only to say that I shall be intensely disappointed if the office of High Commissioner is filled before the Government have satisfied themselves as to whether, before the State debts are transferred to the Commonwealth, a High Commissioner will have any work to do.
– I should like to say that if we are to send to London as High Commisioner a man who has had anything to do with the sale or leasing of land in large blocks in Australia, or with the borrowing of money to enhance the value of alienated land, we cannot expect that he will do useful work for the Commonwealth. I am afraid that the position is likely to be filled by a man who has had. such a political past in Australia as I have indicated, and who will feel himself called upon to justify that past.
– How would Senator Dobson fill the position?
– I do not know what Senator Dobson ‘s political past has been in this regard. My knowledge of the honorable senator is confined to his share in Federal politics. But we have heard mentioned in connexion with the office of High Commissioner the names of men who have been the greatest’ sinners in placing the lands of the Commonwealth in the position outlined in the letter referred to by Senator Dobson. It is a notorious fact that the lands of the Commonwealth are locked up. They should be utilized and thrown open for settlement, so that the unemployed we have amongst us might be given an opportunity to get a living on them.
– The honorable senator knows that the unemployed would not go on the land..
– And if they did, they would do no good there.
– If that be so, we should take steps to fit them for settlement upon the land.
– How would the honorable senator do that?
– No one can say that Australians are either lazy or stupid.
– No one says that.
– If they are unfitted for settlement on the land, it is only because of their ignorance of the requirements of successful land settlement, and that could easily be remedied. No one can deny the fact that although there is in Australia a great deal of land .unutilized, it is not available for the people. If we send to London a man who has been identified with the locking up of the lands of Australia, and with the putting of Australia into pawn in order to run up a monstrous debt, I agree with Senator Dobson that all our efforts in passing this Bill will be in vain. I hope that the Government will make a selection for the office of High Commissioner of a gentleman who will do justice to the Commonwealth, and will truly represent the ideas of the people of this country.
.- I opposed this Bill at an earlier stage. I should not have risen on the present occasion were it not for some statements made by Senator Dobson. The honorable senator quoted a letter published in the London Times by a gentleman whose name is not familiar to me, but who, according to the honorable senator, is a magistrate and a resident of Newcastle, New South Wales. Before reading the letter, Senator Dobson said that the statements it contained were mischievous, and slandered the Commonwealth. I ask any fair-minded member of the Senate to say, after hearing the letter, whether every statement quoted from it by Senator Dobson was not absolutely correct? Members of the Opposition cheered the statements contained in Mr. Pittock’ s letter as they were being read by Senator Dobson.
– That is their game.
– The game of the Labour party is to act fairly to Australia and to those persons outside of it who desire to learn all they can about it. The harm which has been done to the Commonwealth has been done, not by the Labour party, but by interested persons, who have had large sums of money at their disposal, by means of which they have disseminated throughout Great Britain literature containing nothing but tissues of falsehood. As a result of the circulation of that literature, a large number of men and women have been lured here by means of false misrepresentations.
– But outsiders will not believe that statement. They continue to come here.
– Persons like the honorable senator believe only in themselves.
– I do not believe in the honorable senator.
– Thank goodness a majority of the electors of this State entertain a different opinion of me from that which is held by Senator Sayers. After Senator Dobson had read the letter to which I have referred, he intimated that he had interviewed the Prime Minister and urged him to have it replied to forthwith. Is that the procedure which is to be adopted in the future? Are we to understand that whenever plain, straightforward statements appear in the London press, in reference to the opportunities for land settlement which exist in Australia, honorable senators opposite will use their influence with the Prime Minister to secure their rebuttal?
– The letter contains so many gross misstatements that they had to be answered.
– The point which the honorable senator desired to make was that an abundance of land is available for settlement in Australia.
– As a matter of fact is not Western Australia offering a free grant of 160 acres to every settler who chooses to avail himself of it?
– It is true that in Western Australia facilities are being offered for land settlement, but those facilities cannot be availed of by persons without means. In New South Wales no land is available for settlement, even to the native-born of that State.
– The honorable senator means that there is no land available for nothing.
– I say that “there is no land available to settlers upon terms which will- enable them to make a living upon it.
– Any quantity of land may be had there upon those terms.
– Then why is it that whenever land is thrown open for settlement by the Government the number of applicants is considerably in excess of the number of blocks available?
– The reason is that the land is offered at considerably below its market value, and the successful applicant knows for a certainty that he will be able to dispose of his land at an advance of £1,000 upon his bargain.
– Upon more than one occasion in the Senate I have quoted from the Year Book of Australia for the purpose of showing that the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland have been compelled to resume large areas in their respective States for closer settlement purposes. Every sensible man realizes the difficulty which is experienced in settling persons in Australia to-day. Honorable senators opposite would have us believe that the latter have only to come to Australia to obtain land. Apparently the right man to fill the office of High Commissioner should, in the opinion of certain folk, be a gentleman who has been largely interested in land booming. If there is one thing which has inflicted damage upon Australia it is land booming. It has brought misery and premature death to thousands throughout the Commonwealth. I do not, however, wish to labour that question. But I am surprised that a gentleman sitting on the Ministerial side of the Senate should have exercised his influence with the Prime Minister for the purpose of getting the truthful statements contained in Mr. Pittock’s letter to the Times in regard lo the opportunities for land settlement and employment in Australia rebutted. If such conduct is to pass unchallenged we shall in the future find honorable senators exercising their influence with the AgentsGeneral for the purpose of inducing them to contradict similar statements which appear in the London press.
– I think that Senator Dobson has drawn attention to a very important matter, though I draw an entirely opposite conclusion from the facts presented to that which he has put forward. The circumstance that Mr. Pittock’ s letter appeared in the London Times is the strongest possible reason why its statements should be controverted, not by the Agents-General, but by the representative of Australia in the person of the High Commissioner. I do hope that after that office has been filled statements which are calculated to do injury to the Commonwealth will be promptly rebutted. I trust that the High Commissioner will let the public of the “United Kingdom understand exactly what is our position. In his letter, Mr. Pittock states that there is no land in Australia available for settlement. Probably, because that statement was published in the Times, a great deal more importance would be attached to it than would otherwise have been the case. The Times, as well as other influential newspapers/ an England - possibly through a defective cable service - are intentionally or unintentionally doing us a grave injustice, inasmuch as when such statements have appeared in the press, facts with regard to the case for Australia have not been given like publicity. On two occasions a responsible official, charged with the most important work of supervising the agricultural development of Victoria, has stated that if his irrigation schemes are carried out by the State Government his difficulty will be, not to find land for people, but to find people for land. He says that with the irrigation schemes in the north-western district carried out on the lines which he has recommended he will require from 20,000 to 30,000 settlers to develop the land.
– What is the use of the honorable senator painting that picture when there is no likelihood of the schemes being carried out by the State?
– That will not be the fault of Australia, but the fault pf the Victorian Government. If we have; a High Commissioner in London, probably when such statements as have been made by Mr. Elwood Mead in - regard to the development of land in the comparatively closely settled State of Victoria are published, they will be cabled with the official sanction of the Government and placarded throughout the United Kingdom and, possibly, the United States. Here we have a population of only 4,000,000 persons, on a continent comprising 3,000,000 square miles, a vast portion of which is very fertile and fit for other than agricultural purposes. It is probable that the . mischief, one might almost say the libel, that is contained in a letter of the kind which appeared in The Times would be nailed to the counter at once if we had a High Commissioner in London. The refutation would go forward through the press, and, possibly, through the cables, with a statement of the absolute facts. 1 do not know whether those who control the cable service on this side have telegraphed to the United Kingdom or elsewhere that in the small State of Victoria men with small means can, through the action of the State Government, take up land in an area which, under certain conditions and with certain State assistance, will in the course of five or six years carry from 20,000 to 30,000 settlers. Either the statement of Mr. El wood Mead is true, or the -statements made by honorable senators on the other side are false. Both cannot stand together. I prefer to take the statement of Victoria’s responsible official. It is not land that is wanted in Australia, but -the right kind of people for the land which is available. We desire that fact to be communicated, not merely to the United Kingdom, but throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. We want that statement to go forth to the people, with the official indorsement of a man in the position of High Commissioner for Australia.
– If the only purpose which our representative in London will serve is to misconstrue facts, as Senator St. Ledger has done, it will be much better if we never send one. Time after time the honorable senator has trotted out his theory of percentages exactly in the same way as the old sailor did his average depth of the river, “ From one side of the river to the other,” said the old sailor, “the average depth is 4 feet,” but at one point the depth was 8 feet, and we can imagine what happened to a man who, not being able to swim, proceeded to wade across. Senator St. Ledger’s percentage of the land which is alienated is exactly in the same category as the old sailor’s average depth of the river. There may be only 6 per cent, of the land of Australia alienated ; but if you announce abroad that only 6 per cent. of our land is alienated with a view to leading people to believe that the balance of 94 per cent, is accessible and capable of being used by people if they will only come here, then you will do an incalculable injury to those whom you may bring here by such false pretences. Be honest, and tell the people when you are advertising the resources of Australia that all the good land close to markets - in fact, all the accessible land - is held up by men who are not using it.
– We should tell a gross untruth if we said anything of the kind.
– What is the position at present? Every time a block of land is offered for sale we have five or six applicants for every foot of it, and the result is that for a considerable time in New South Wales or Victoria only one man out of every score of applicants has been provided with land.
– Is that the positionin regard to the land which the Government of Western Australia are offering free - that there are six men for every available block?
– No. I recognise that Western Australia, although it is a large and very good territory, is not the whole of Australia.
– It comprises only a million square miles.
– It is a good slice of Australia. Now, Senator St. Ledger trots out his idea of percentages every time he rises to discuss the land question, although he knows that in doing so he is not conveying the real facts of the position to the man who is outside the Commonwealth. When the letters which are so much abused indicate the bare truth of the position, then he and all who think with him rise and say how disreputable are those who desire to tell the truth concerning Australia.
– I did not call the gentleman disreputable. I said that he was not stating the facts.
– No matter what phrase is used the intention is apparent. The honorable senator wants- to convey to people a false impression of our true position.
– I do not.
– I have no desire to do that, In Australia there is a great area of land which is unoccupied ; there is a great area which never will be occupied; and, more than that, there is a great area of unoccupied land which, were it the best land under the sun, is so far distant from centres of popula- tion and so inaccessible that it is at present useless for the purposes of settlement.
– I think it is extremely desirable that the High Commissioner shall be a strictly truthful man, who will tell “ the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in regard to Australia and the manner in which its resources are tied up by land monopolists.
– He would be recalled bv the Government in three months if he did.
– I think that is very likely. I had not the good fortune, to hear the whole of the letter read by Senator Dobson. Apparently the writer was not only a truthful man, but one who had an exact knowledge of the conditions which prevail in Australia. Senator Mulcahy is smiling, but if there is any State in the Commonwealth which is suffering from the evils of land monopoly it is Tasmania. Young men and women are fleeing from that State as from a place smitten with the plague. There is absolutely no outlet for them in their native. State. Probably with the exception of Victoria there is no State in the Union which is suffering more from the evils of land monopoly “than is Tasmania. The young men and women are leaving in droves. Young men are going to New Zealand. A large number of young women are crossing to Melbourne to engage in domestic service.
– Are not young people coming to Australia from New Zealand ?
– I will deal . with New Zealand by-and-by. I merely make this statement by the way : that if any honorable senators should “be impressed by the tremendous evils which are being brought to Australia by land monopoly it is the representatives of Tasmania. If they have eyes to see, or ears to hear, or hearts to feel, or minds to understand, surely this great calamity which is befalling not only their State, but almost every State in the Union, ought to be apparent to each one of them.I am not going to quote figures compiled by an irresponsible Labour agitator.I shall quote some figures and facts which come straight from the capitalistic camp. They have been put together by one of the principal agents of capitalism in the State of Victoria - by a member of a Government which was placed in power by the land monopolists and the Employers’ Federation. But so gross has the evil of land monopoly become, so flagrant in its effects, that even this man the Treasurer of a purely capitalistic Government, was compelled to bring in a mensure for the express purpose of breaking it up in some small degree. I shall give a few figures which this gentleman, Mr. Watt, quoted.
– They are very unreliable.
– This witness comes from the camp in which Senator Fraser finds himself. He is, I am sure, a most unwilling witness. He has been compelled simply by stress of circumstances to leave his friends and come over to the Labour enemy. I believe that the gentleman who occupies the position of Premier of Victoria, Mr. Murray, pledged himself, before he obtained that office - before his party would rid themselves of the late Sir Thomas Bent - that he and his colleagues in the Government would not impose a land values tax. But he became the victim of circumstances. He and his colleagues saw that they were lying in the track of a Juggernaut, and that unless they got out of that track, not only they themselves were bound to be crushed, but also the State which they presume to represent. So much for my few remarks. Now I will come to the facts and figures of Mr. Watt, which I have no doubt were founded on the best authority. They were given by Mr. Watt when he introduced his Land Value Tax Bill. Referring to the existing Victorian land tax, which I suppose is familiar lo most honorable senators, Mr. Watt said -
The existing tax proposed to break up large estates by steadily decreasing their area. Only estates of 640 acres and upwards were subjected to its operations, but they had this noteworthy fact, that the area now taxed was 255,000 acres in excess of the area in 1888, two years after the tax was proposed.
Honorable senators will observe that this land values tax has been in operation for twenty-three years. It was passed with the express object of breaking up the big. estates. But the result has been that the area now taxed is 255,000 acres in excess of the area when the tax was first imposed. That means that it failed completely in its object. It not only did not break up the existing large estates, but under its operation the estates have become larger by 255,000 acres. Mr. Murray’s Government now come forward with a proposal to impose a tax which will be effective, and in support of his contention Mr. Watt gave a number of figures which 1 intend to quote. He said -
There were 405 estates on the land tax register each over / 20,000 capital value, with a . total value of ‘£24,727,000. The taxable value was only £5,748,000
So that the actual value of the estates was nearly five times the taxable value. Honorable senators will see to what an extent these good, kind, honest, patriotic landowners were cheating the Government of the country. Let honorable senators mark the next figures, and then say whether there is such a thing as land monopoly in Victoria -
Included in this were 170 estates each over £50,000 capital value, with an average value of ,£105,000. Included in both of these were 45 estates each over ,£100,000 capital value, with an average value of ,£158,000, and a total value of ,£7,153,000, owned by 45 men.
Just think of it ! In a young sparselypopulated country like this, out of which the young men are rushing in hundreds to other States because they cannot get land in Victoria, forty-five men own land which is valued, at their own valuation, at £7,153,000. Of this area one man owned 81,348 acres, another owned 55, 448 acres, a third owned 52,655 acres, and a fourth 50,784 acres. I come now to a portion of Mr. Watt’s speech to which I think honorable senators opposite, whatever their political opinions may be, ought to pay attention -
In 1878 the number of agricultural holdings was 47,050, while in. 1907-1908 it was only 56,065, an increase in 30 years of only 9,015.
There is a fact for honorable senators to ponder over - only an increase of 9,000 holdings in thirty years, or at the rate of 300 a year.
– That is due to the bad fiscal policy pursued by Victoria.
– I may here interpolate that when I was up in Queensland lately I heard that a number of Victorian farmers who had been hunted out of this State by land monopoly were telling the people that they had been driven forth by the Labour party. A large number were so ignorant of Victorian politics that they actually believed the statement. That will show the kind of people they are. After having been literally driven out of this State by land monopoly, they go up to Queensland and try to perpetuate the evil.
– It is a pity that they were not driven out of Australia.
– Yes, it is a pity that they were not driven out of Australia. Men of that stamp are not fit to live anywhere.
– I ask the honorable senator not to deal with that point now.
– We are discussing the appointment of a High Commissioner, .and the functions that he will perform. He will have to tell the truth with regard to Australia. I am giving some facts to which I think that functionary will have to direct the attention of the British public when he gets to London - if he ever gets there.
Of this increase Half was in holdings of less than I,000 acres. The area alienated between 1880 and 1909 was 5,227,000 acres, in blocks of 320 acres and under. Assuming that the selections were all of the maximum size, this alienation would have provided for 16,334 holdings, so that, by the process of alienation alone, if there had been no subdivision of large estates during the past 30 years, they should have had 16,334 holdings more, instead of which they only had 9,015, or 7,319 less. In 1878-1879, estates above 10,000 acres numbered 205 ; in 1907-1908 they had been reduced to 183. In a space of 30 years, during which it would have been thought that agricultural holdings would have Become smaller, the average holding had been increased from 338 acres to 436 acres, and the percentage of holders to the general population fell from 5.68 per cent, to 4.59 per cent.
So that the proportion of small landholders to the general population actually fell instead of increasing during the last thirty years.
Victoria had alienated, or had in process of alienation, 49 per cent, of its territory; Tasmania, 32^ per cent. ; New South Wales, 25 per cent. ; Queensland, 4^ ner cent. ; South Australia, 2 per cent., and Western Australia, 2 per cent. Victoria had no room for extensive squattages, and everything must, therefore, be done to shape conditions so as to provide for the man who wished to make for intense culture on small areas.
Mr. Watt went on to deal with the movement of population in Victoria. In 1881 the population of this State numbered 862,646. Last year it was 1,287,000, an increase of 424,521, or approximately 50 per cent. But the increase of the births over the deaths was for that period 436,606, showing that the State had really lost by excessive emigration over immigration 12,085 souls. During the twentyseven years the increase was roughly 425,000. Of this number 261,000 settled in metropolitan districts, and 164,000 in all the other counties combined. So that it will be seen that the rush of ‘population has been from the country districts into Melbourne, and suburbs.
In 1881 the number employed on the land was 10.40 per cent., while in 1908 it was only 11.58 per cent. For a country offering such rich incentives to agricultural production as Victoria, the Cinderella of Australia, those figures could, without resort to the language of exaggeration, be described as alarming.
The Victorian Treasurer then quoted statistics to show that the population of Durham Ox, Bunyip, Enfield, Devenish, Crossley, Wahgunyah, and Sunbury was greater in 1891 than in 1901. He proceeded
Counties in which the population had not decreased were in remote and new districts such as Eastern Gippsland and the Mallee. In a great county like Rodney the population in 18S1 was 18,159. Now it was 18,823, an increase of only 664 in 27 years -
– How’ much did it cost the Government of Victoria?
– It has cost the Government of Victoria a very large sum of money. I believe that more public money has been spent in that county than in any other county in Victoria. Mr. Watt continued -
Notwithstanding that a huge irrigation system and railways had been given to it, it was to-day practically empty.
I direct the special attention of honorable members to the next sentence -
The internal figures in reference to Victoria’s population indubitably proved that land monopoly in many of the best portions of the State had checked and rolled back the tide of settlement.
– If that speech had been printed and circulated in Great Britain would those statements have been described as untrue?
– Of course they would. I now come to a most important part of the Victorian Treasurer’s speech. It is so important that I think that there should be a greater number of honorable senators present to hear it. There are only a few honorable senators on the Government side, and I am sorry to say that there are still fewer Labour members of the Senate present.
– There is a quorum present.
– If there is I cannot see the honorable senators. I come now to a most important portion of the speech made by the Treasurer of Victoria, in which he compares the progress made in New Zealand under the land tax regime.
– I point out- that the honorable senator will not be in order in referring to New Zealand and debating the position of affairs there.
– Surely I am entitled to give the facts in regard to New Zealand.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the High Commissioner will have nothing whatever to do with New Zealand. It will not be any, part of his duty to represent New Zealand in any way whatever. The honorable senator, therefore, will not be in order in debating the position of affairs in New Zealand.
– Surely I. should be permitted to say-
– I remind the honorable senator that I have given a ruling, and I am not prepared to depart from it.
– This is the “gag”pure and simple. Your ruling, Mr. President, may be right, and I quite understand that if I submitted a motion to disagree with it I should be defeated, simply because honorable senators opposite do not desire that the facts with regard to New Zealand should be made public. But I think that in the interests of every Australian
– Order ! The honorable senator is now attempting indirectly, to-
– I am doing what I think is right in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I do not care two straws what you say a’bout it.
– The honorable senator will obey the order of the Chair.
– It is eminently unfair.
– I call upon the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.;
– I shall withdraw it, because I am compelled by the Standing Orders to do so.
– I shall not accept that withdrawal.
– Well, I withdraw it. Let me repeat that I consider that this is a shameful attempt to strangle-
– Order ! Will the honorable senator resume his seat?
– Oh, yes, I will withdraw it again.
– I ask the honorable senator not to repeat such a statement because, if he proposes to continue to repeat and withdraw such statements, I shall have to take other measures.
– Suspend me. This is the “ gag “ Chamber now.
The PRESIDENTS ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the question before the Senate.
-Since the thing has gone so far, I intend now to move, sir, that your ruling be disagreed with, andI intend to give the reasons.
– What is the use of doing that?
– It is all very well, but the business of the Commonwealth must be conducted upon rational lines. The Treasurer of Victoria was permitted to give information with regard to New Zealand when moving his measure in the Victorian Assembly. I have myself spoken in the Senate dozens of times before on the question of land monopoly in Australia, and have given practically the same facts as those which were detailed by the Victorian Treasurer. I was never interrupted before.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to take his seat.
– I am moving that your ruling be disagreed with.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to obey standing order 415, which provides -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate.
The honorable senator will be good enough to put his objection in writing.
– I shall do so.
– I have received notice of objection to my ruling from the honorable senator in the following words -
That the President’s ruling be disagreed with in so far as he has ruled that no reference can be made to the progress of land settlement in New Zealand under the land tax regime, the facts of New Zealand’s progress being vital to the subject under discussion.
– It appears to me that on the motion before the Chair for the adoption of the report on the High Commissioner Bill, a discussion on every matter which affects the progress of Australia is perfectly in order. That, sir, has been admitted by you in practice, since you allowed Senator Dobson, in the first place, to read a letter written upon Australian resources by some one residing in London. I was permitted to, for a certain time, deal with the same subject in so far as it affects Australia. But when I endeavoured to contrast the progress of New Zealand, under a particular policy, with the want of progress in Australia during a particular period,. I was called to order, and was not permitted to proceed on those lines. The present occasion seems to me to be somewhat similar to many other occasions on which I have thought it desirable to bring forward facts and arguments in connexion with land monopoly in Australia and our land tax proposals. The present occasion does not seem to me to differ from a number of other occasions when that line of argument was followed in the Senate without any objection from the Chair. I admit that the Senate is not bound by the Standing Orders of the Victorian Legislative Assembly; but I think that anything that makes for the progress of the community should not be looked upon as antagonistic to the Standing Orders governing the procedure in any Parliamentary institution.
– On a point of order. Under standing order 415, should not the discussion on Senator Stewart’s motion be adjourned?
– The motion has to be launched first.
– The honorable senator is submitting his motion.
– It is after the motion has been submitted that the debate must be adjourned?
– Unless the Senate otherwise decides.
– That is so.
– In order to buttress his argument with regard to land value taxation, the Victorian Treasurer produced a number of facts and figures showing how New Zealand has benefited by that kind of legislation. He was not interfered with by the Speaker of the Victorian Assembly. He was allowed to pursue that line of argument, it being recognised, I have no doubt, by honorable members present, that it was in the. interests of Victoria that the facts with regard to New Zealand should be made public. Those who were asked to adopt a particular line of policy here were interested to know what the effect had been of the adoption of a similar policy elsewhere. We have found, in connexion with almost every proposal made in this Parliament, and rightly so, that the results of similar proposals elsewhere have been brought forward in their support. It might be that an experiment had been tried and failed. Some honorable senator gets up and gives that as a reason why the experiment proposed-
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator; but I point out that we were not discussing the means by which to put an end to land monopoly. The Senate was discussing a Bill relating to the appointment of a High Commissioner, and the matter to which Senator Stewart has referred was introduced incidentally.
– I take it that the duty of telling the people of Great Britain the facts concerning Australia will devolve upon the High Commissioner?
– How did the letter which was published in the London Times come to be discussed?
– It was quoted by Senator Dobson for the purpose of showing the necessity which exists for having some person or persons in London authorized to refute statements similar to those which it contained.
– If it will not be the duty of the High Commissioner to tell the public of Great Britain what is the position in Australia, of course my remarks are out of order. But if he will perform that duty, I submit that they are quite in order. I was pointing out that honorable senators are continually citing instances of the success of experiments in other countries. It is their duty to ransack the globe in an effort to discover examples of failure or of success, with a view to giving the people the benefit of the knowledge thus obtained. If we are going to build a wall around this continent, and to take no thought of what occurs elsewhere, I venture to say that our progress will be exceedingly slow. That is the reason upon which I found my objection to your ruling. Upon the motion for the adoption of the report on the High Commissioner Bill, it ought to be quite open to me to say what has happened under a particular policy in New Zealand or elsewhere, so long as that knowledge, if properly applied, will be beneficial to the people of the Commonwealth. That is the sole reason on which I found my objection to your ruling. Under our Standing Orders, and under the practice which has hitherto obtained in this Chamber, it is quite permissible for me to debate what has happened in New Zealand, Russia, Denmark, or any other country.
– Standing order 415 provides -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.
Motion (by Senator Findley) put -
That the debate on the motion objecting to the President’s ruling be proceeded with forthwith the question requiringimmediate determination.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I maypreface my remarks with a few observations designed to undeceive Senator Stewart as to the position in which we now find ourselves.
– I have been gagged.
– The honorable senator talks about having been gagged. But it appears to me that he wishes to do all the talking. He should recollect that there are thirty-five members of the Senate, each of whom has a right to be heard equallywith himself.
– I only spoke for half-an-hour.
– And the honorable senator now wishes to make a second speech upon the same subject. I think that he rather misunderstands the position in which we now find ourselves. The motion which has just been carried affirmed the necessity for immediately considering his motion of dissent to the President’s ruling. In the absence of Senator Findley’s motion, debate upon that motion would, under standing order 415, have been automatically deferred until to-morrow. At the time it was submitted we were considering a motion for the adoption of the report on the High Commissioner Bill. Senator Dobson had quoted a letter which appeared in the Times, in which the writer made certain statements regarding the position of affairs in. Australia. Senator Dobson in no way touched upon the matters which were dealt with by the writer. All that he did was to affirm the necessity which exists for having some authoritative answer given to such statements.
– He criticised the statements contained in it, and said that they were untrue.
– He did not in any way enter into a discussion of the merits of those statements.
– He denied the existence of land monopoly in Australia.
– I say that he did not. But, assuming that he did, if Senator Dobson has erred slightly, is that any reason why other honorable senators should follow his example? Senator Dobson quoted the letter in question for the purpose of showing , that if the six AgentsGeneral had replied to it on behalf of their respective States, they would have done more justice to Australia than a High Commissioner could do. Senator Stewart now desires to discuss the questions of land taxation and of land monopoly.
– Only by way of illustration.
– Whether land monopoly exists in Australia or not is not t he question under discussion. The whole purpose of the letter brought forward bySenator Dobson was to show that six Agents-General could better answer statements affecting Australian interests than could one High Commissioner. But that does not, I submit, furnish any justification for Senator Stewart going into the merits of land monopoly or any subject other than the appointment of a High Commissioner. Senator Dobson’s whole contention was that six Agents-General, by writing six letters to appear one after the other in The Times, could furnish a much more effective reply on behalf of Australia than would one letter, and he argued that a High Commissioner ought, therefore, not to be appointed. To my mind that was a logical argument to address to the Senate. But Senator Stewart is now seeking to show that, because there is or is not land monopoly in New Zealand, a High Commissioner ought or ought not to be appointed. I submit that there is no relevancy between the alleged existence of land monopoly in another country and the question whether or not the Senate should adopt the report on a Bill authorizing the appointment of a High Commissioner.
– I understood Senator Stewart to be discussing the kind of High Commissioner who should be appointed, in order that the state of affairs which he was indicating existed in New Zealand should be correctly placed before the people of the Old Country. I hold that in arguing from that stand-point he was in order, because some previous speakers had proceeded on somewhat similar lines. He was not discussing the merits or the demerits of the land question in Australia or New Zealand, but simply showing that land monopoly existed in New Zealand, and that inasmuch as it also existed in Australia we required a High Commissioner who would be fully imbued with the evils which resulted from that state of affairs. If we cannot show that evils exist in Australia which require to be righted with the assistance of a High Commissioner, I hold that an appointment is not needed.
– How could he assist in legislation?
– If the High Commissioner is not to be sent to London to carry out work in connexion with legislation, both enacted and prospective, I cannot understand what necessity there is for making an appointment.
.- Having listened to the remarks of Senator Dobson and one or two other speakers relative to this Bill, I am disposed to think that Senator Stewart was quite within his rights in discussing New Zealand from the view point of land settlement. One of the most important duties which the High Commissioner will be called upon to perform will be to give the most up-to-date information respecting the land and taxation policies of the various States. It ought to be one of his duties to supply such information as- will satisfy an intending immigrant that he can, if he so desires, obtain land in Victoria, New South Wales. Queensland, Tasmania, or South Australia. An inquirer should be able to go to the office of the High Commissioner and ascertain the area of alienated land in any State in the Union, and the area available for alienation. An inquirer should also be able to ascertain the States in which land value taxation is operative, and those which have no such form of taxation. If it would be in order to discuss the High Commissionership from that view point, ought Senator Stewart to have been ruled out of order when he endeavoured to draw a contrast between the States of the Union and the Dominion of New Zealand, which has a scientific form of land value taxation, and which has demonstrated that by the imposition of such taxation it has advanced very considerably ?
– I point out to the honorable senator that he ought not to endeavour to get in a speech as to the taxation policy of New Zealand. The question is whether Senator Stewart was in order in making a reference to the progress of land settlement in the Dominion under the land tax regime. It is not in order to discuss the policy of New Zealand, but the honorable senator may discuss whether it would be right to permit a reference to that policy in dealing with a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner for Australia.
– I was endeavouring to show as fairly as I could that Senator Stewart was quite in order in making a comparison between the States of the Commonwealth and New Zealand in respect to land settlement and land value taxation, demonstrating the manifold advantages of the taxation system which has been operative in the Dominion, and showing that to that system was due to a large extent the measure of prosperity which it has enjoyed for a considerable period. In connexion with this Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner we have been permitted to discuss the land question, which is all important to the High Commissionership, to Australia, and to those who desire to establish homes here. If we are not to be allowed to discuss the land question, and if the High Commissioner will not have to deal with that important subject, I cannot see why he should be appointed, because if a knowledge of that question is eliminated from his duties he will be merely a social butterfly. I submit, sir, that Senator Stewart was quite in order in making a passing reference to land taxation and land settlement in New Zealand, and in demonstrating that a similar policy would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth should urge the laggard States to bring about such a system of land settlement as would give the High Commissioner greater opportunities to serve the people of Australia.
– A motion to dissent from a ruling is always an important one, because the method of conducting our business has a great tendency to conduce to expedition or waste of time. It is a clear rule in every Parliament that only the subject under discussion shall be dealt with, that anything which is irrelevant, however important in itself, shall not be discussed. The question of whether or not New Zealand has adopted a better land policy than any State in Australia, while extremely important if it were under discussion, is not relevant to a Bill authorizing the appointment of a High Commissioner. The question before the Senate is just as wide apart from the question of proper land legislation as it is from the question of vaccination or quarantine or legal practice. ‘ We can only intelligently discuss the wisdom or unwisdom of appointing a High Commissioner by confining ourselves to that issue. Any reference to New Zealand by Senator Stewart would not have been out of order if it had related to the fact that its High Commissioner had produced baneful or beneficial results to the Dominion. That would have been a pertinent reference to the matter at issue, because, although it would have dealt with New Zealand, it would have illustrated the experience of that Dominion in reference to the question before the Chair. The question whether Australia pursues a good or a bad land policy cannot come under the notice of the High Commissioner, except in so far as he is called upon to answer questions from inquirers concerning it. He simply has to give information in that case just as he will have to give information on other matters. If it be contended that because the High Commissioner will have to give information regarding land, therefore we ought to discuss the whole land problem on this Bill, it might just as well be contended that because the High Commissioner will have to give information on one hundred and other things we should also discuss those various questions in connexion with the Bill.For instance, the High Commissioner may be asked by a legal practitioner in England whether the Commonwealth law permits legal practitioners from the United Kingdom to practice in our Courts. He will answer to the best of his ability. But that does not justify us in discussing at length the wisdom or unwisdom of restricting practice in our Courts to persons who have become qualified in the Commonwealth. Again, the question of vaccination is one concerning which there is a strong feeling all over the world. The High Commissioner may be asked by an intending immigrant whether persons in Australia are compelled to have their children vaccinated. He will answer the question. But see where we should be landed if it were admitted that because the High Commissioner might have to answer such questions they are therefore matters which can be discussed in connexion with this Bill. If that were allowed we might traverse every branch of legislation. I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that in ruling that an argument - not a passing reference - to the wisdom or unwisdom of certain forms of land taxation was outside of the scope of the question you, sir, acted quite rightly.
Question - That the President’s ruling be disagreed with - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
In 1902 a man purchased a block at Nhill, and, after having paid in all £838, he sold it in 1904 for £500. It yielded a loss to him, but the second buyer sola it in1909for £2,500.
Another Nhill block was sold by the Crown in 1903 for £159 15s., and, after effecting improvements, the buyer bad paid away altogether £1,868. That block was sold in 1909 for £2,713. He next came to Dimboola. A purchaser paid away, on account of a block of land there, £530, and three years later he sold it for £1,530. It was sold again two years subsequently for £2,687.
That is to say, in five years the value of this particular piece of land had increased from £530 to £2,687. The Victorian Treasurer gave a number of other instances, which I shall not weary the Senate by quoting. The lesson which this ought to convey is that prices of land in Victoria have been unduly inflated by the condition of land monopoly. That having been proved definitely, information in regard to it ought to be conveyed to people in Great Britain and elsewhere who desire to emigrate to Australia. All I desire is that tht truth about Australia shall be told to people who desire to come here. They should not be led away by vague general statements, such, for instance, as that in Queensland only 4½ per cent, of the land has been alienated. That statement is quite true, but although 95½ per cent, of the lands of that State are still in the hands of the Crown, new arrivals in Queensland find it exceedingly difficult to get decent land on which to settle. A short time ago I heard of the case of a man who had been engaged in the dairying industry in England and who came out to Queensland. He sold his land and stock in the Old Country and came to Queensland with his mother, intending to engage in the same occupation in that State. The Queensland Government sent him here and there all over the State, and showed him the land that was open for settlement in different districts, but he ultimately decided that there was not a single one of the holdings to which he had been sent that was suitable for his purpose.
The earlier settlers in Queensland got their land at from 2s. 6d. to £1 per acre. No land can be obtained there now in such a situation that it might be profitably worked at less than from £2 up to £12 and £14 per acre. That is information which should be given to the people of Great Britain. The man to whom I have referred had been told in England that there were millions of acres of land in Queensland awaiting immigrants to take them up. He travelled in many districts and did not find a single holding within reach of his purse that it was worth his while to take up for the purpose for which he came to the State. He was ultimately forced to take a job in Brisbane. I think it is exceedingly undesirable that people should be induced to come to Australia under an impression which is not warranted by the circumstances. There is any quantity of land in Queensland, millions and millions of acres, empires of it, if honorable senators please, in every way suitable for settlement, but the great bulk of it is held by people who will sell only at a ransom, or will not sell at all. So that, so far as settlement is concerned, the land is practically nonexistent. The position indeed is worse than if the land did not exist, because the fact that it is monopolised by those who will not use it, drives would-be : settlers to a distance from the railways and markets, and compels them to take up inferior land which in many cases is heavily timbered and expensive to clear. I think that all these circumstances should, in the interests of truth, be made public by the High Commissioner of the Commonwealth when he goes to London. I am sure that it will be said that I belong to the “ Stinking Fish Party.” I do not belong to any party of that kind. I belong to a party which desires to see the opportunities for land settlement very largely multiplied in Australia. That is the reason why I insist upon the truth with regard to our lands being told to the people of Great Britain and Europe. When the land monopolists of Australia, and their press and Parliamentary advocates, find out that the people of Great Britain and of Europe will not come here under existing conditions, they may be persuaded to alter their present policy and agree to proposals which I, at any rate, believe would result in creating hundreds of thousands of opportunities for good settlers from the other end of the earth. That is my sole purpose in speaking this afternoon upon this subject. I trust that the High Commissioner will be a man who will tell the exact truth about Australia, who will not allow his utterances to be distorted by party bias, who will be wholly independentof whatever Government may be in power, who will conceal nothing, concerning either our resources, which are great, no doubt, or our land system, which is one of the most foolish and wicked under the sun. I hope he will tell the people’ at the other end of the world what the true conditions are here. I desire that those conditions should be altered, but that is another question which has nothing to do with the present discussion. I have stated my ideas with regard to the kind of man I think the High Commissioner should be. 1 hope he will be a man of that character. I should like to see such a man appointed. But I must say that my expectation that my wish will be realized is very, very faint indeed.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In submitting this Bill, I recognise at once that it is not a measure the consideration of which need occupy very much time. 1 do not wish to infer by that that I do not regard it as one of very considerable importance to the great producing interests of Australia. At the same time, I recognise that the matters within its scope must be so fully within the knowledge of honorable senators, and that in the earlier stages, at any rate, the objects to be accomplished by this Bill will be so limited in number, though important in range, that it will not be necessary for me to do more than make an incidental reference to the more important of them. The first thing I wish to emphasize with regard to the Bill is that it is not at all the intention to superimpose a Federal Department upon the already existing State Agricultural Departments. What is sought is the creation of a central staff, limited in number, the duties of which will be to co-ordinate State work, and to establish connecting links between the work being carried on in one State and that carried on in the others. As to the advisability of some more general action than that which has been, or can be, taken by the authorities in any single State, I should instance what has recently been done in the United States of America. Some little time since, President Roosevelt constituted a conference of experts, and I believe also of Governors from each of the different States of the Union, with a view to considering the conservation of natural resources. That Conference had not long been in session before it was discovered that its work would be incomplete if the scope of its inquiry and representation were not extended to embrace Canada on one side and Mexico on the other. The enlarged Conference addressed itself to its work, and was again met withthe difficulty that natural resources were matters which were of more than local concern, that there was, as it were, -a kind of world-wide interest in world-wide resources. As a result, a recommendation was made that the Conference should be made International. That recommendation was approved, and an International Conference has now been arranged for, to be held at The Hague within the next few months. I mention that only to show, in connexion with this great question of agriculture - and I use the term in its widest sense - how important it is that discoveries and scientific achievements in one part of the world shall be made available to other parts, and similarly how desirable it is that discoveries, investigations and experiments in one State of the Commonwealth shall be made available to the people of the whole of Australia. I would remind the Senate that it has been the practice in past years for conferences of State officers connected with the Agricultural Departments of the several States tobe frequently held.
– We had one here recently which condemned this Bill. The honorable senator should know that.
– What the honorable senator says is a fact, and it is quite understandable. In my opinion, a number of officers of State Agricultural Departments are hardly the most competent judges as to whether or not we should create a Federal Department.
– They do not understand what it means yet.
– I think it is possible that they do not understand, orthat they only partially understand, what is intended. I content myself with that remark. I express very grave doubts whether State officials are the most competent judges of the advisability of creating a Federal Agricultural Department. In addition to these State conferences, which point to the necessity of some Australian action, we have had many State disagreements arising from conflicts of opinion and of effort, which, I venture to say, a Federal determination would have avoided. Looking back to the history of many of them, one is unable to resist the conclusion that very frequently, though perhaps un- consciously, State interest has to some extent determined the conclusions arrived at bv the representatives of the several States. I’ mention these facts as showing that in my opinion there is important work, to be done which extends beyond the limits of any one State, and which is of interest to the agriculturists of Australia as a whole. I do not think it will be disputed that there is important and valuable work awaiting workmen.
– South Australia spends ,£85,000 a year with the same object in view.
– I commend South Australia for doing so. But I venture to say that the expenditure of that sum by South Australia does not meet all the requirements of the agriculturists of Australia.
– A great many do work of the kind for nothing.
– That is quite true. But does the honorable senator intend his interjections to be regarded as arguments against this Bill?
– The honorable senator will see directly.
– I should like to have been able to deal with the interjections. Let me point out that, though South Australia is spending ^85,000 a year in the way stated, there is a great number of important problems affecting Australian agricultural interests to which no single mind has been addressed, and in connexion with which there has been no systematic, scientific research.
– There is nothing in the Bill to fill the gap. It is a blank cheque.
– My honorable friend is in the habit of saying that about every measure which is brought forward. This Bill is designed to authorize the creation of a Department-
– Which it does not create.
– Of course the Bill cannot create the Department It can only convey the power to create. The Department itself cannot be created until Parliament approves the necessary appropriation.
– There is nothing in the Bill to indicate of whom or of what the Department will consist.
– It will consist of just the number of officers for whom the Parliament makes an appropriation. The Bill will enable the Government to devise a scheme for the creation of an Agricultural Department.
– In the various States ?
– Certainly not.
– Will it add to, or come into conflict with, the powers which are conferred under our Quarantine Act?
– It certainly will not conflict with that Act. Rather will it be an aid to giving effect to its provisions. For instance, at any time a question may arise as to whether a given area or a given class of plants or animals should be quarantined. Under such circumstances, to whom do we apply for assistance to-day ? To State officers. Now it is quite possible that there may be a conflict of opinion between the experts in the various States, just as there is to-day in connexion with the presence of Irish blight in potatoes. Only to-day the newspapers contained some very strong statements which evidence a want of unanimity upon that question on the part of the departmental experts in different States. In such circumstances it is possible that some central authority, owing allegiance only to the Federation, and freed largely from local prejudices, would enable the Commonwealth Government to speak with definiteness and fairness to all the States concerned.
– If this Bill would help to solve that difficulty there would be great justification for it.
– My honorable friend must see that it will help to solve it. At any rate I shall endeavour at a later stage to show him that it will do so. Whilst in this Parliament we have not been unmindful of agricultural interests, our minds have hitherto been more particularly directed to the manufacturing interests of Australia. This result - a very natural one - is largely due. to the necessity which confronted us in the early days of Federation, of framing a uniform Tariff for Australia. But we must not lose sight of the fact that in Australia agriculture is by’ far the most important industry that we have to consider. In this connexion I would remind honorable senators that out of a total wealth production of £167,000,000 in 1907, agriculture must be credited with £101,000,000. Roughly speaking, therefore, two thirds of the wealth of the Commonwealth in that year was derived from industries which are classed as agricultural. Another way of determining the great importance of this industry is to ascertain the number of persons who are engaged in it. In 1907, I find that no less than 405.000 persons - I am ignoring all odd figures - were directly engaged in agricultural pursuits. That is the number of persons who were included in the census returns as being directly employed in agriculture. From the Federal Statistician I have ascertained that, allowing for the usual percentage which marks families, these figures mean that approximately 1,000,000 persons - or 25 per cent, of our population - are either engaged in or are dependent upon those who are engaged in agriculture.
– - Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council institute a “comparison between the number of persons who are engaged in agricultural industries and the number who are engaged in manufacturing industries?
– I cannot do so offhand. I have already given the Senate the value of the product from agricultural industries. To the 25 per cent, of our population who are either engaged in or are dependent upon those who are engaged in agricultural pursuits, must be added those who are engaged in businesses or trades which are associated with agriculture. There is an enormous number of persons who are indirectly dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood, but who are not so represented in our census returns. For instance, the teamster who carts wool from the sheep station is not represented as being dependent upon agriculture, nor. is the teamster who is engaged in the carrying of wheat.
– And yet it is said that there is no land monopoly in Australia.
– May I express the hope that for the few brief minutes during which I shall speak, King Charles’ head may be kept out of this chamber? I would suggest to my honorable friends opposite that at the close of the present session they should hold a special session of their own, at which they will lie at liberty to talk land taxation, to their heart’s content. I ask the Senate to consider for a moment what a tremendous gain to the agricultural industry in pounds, shillings and pence would be represented even by a slight percentage of improvement in the methods of cultivation - an improvement which might be effected by a single scientific discovery. If we effected a saving of a quarter or a half, per cent, in any line of production, the value to Australia would run into enormous figures which would far outweigh the cost to the Commonwealth of a staff of experts - presuming that their work was successful.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council tell the cost of the various State Agricultural Departments ?
– I cannot, because in some of the States those Departments are involved with others. In New South Wales until quite recently the Agricultural and Mines Departments were worked as one, and I know that in other directions there is overlapping in some of the other States to-day. I have said that the slightest improvement effected even in the breed of wheat or in a type of cattle would in the aggregate represent a very large profit to the agricultural industry. I hold in my hand a report from the United States upon The future work of the Department of Agriculture and its relation to the State experimental stations, from which I should like to make one or two extracts bearing upon this point. The first of these reads -
The body of available truth in regard to these matters is extremely small compared to what is imperfectly known or entirely unknown. The demand for food and clothing throughout the world is increasing faster than the ability to produce and distribute it. We must learn how to increase the production per unit of area and per unit of energy expended. We must make production more certain and decrease the cost. This involves introduction of new crops, their acclimatization, improvement of crops by breeding, control of diseases, improved culture methods, improved machinery, improved methods of marketing and utilization, &c. It is to the interest of all the States and all the nations of the world that progress in all these directions be as rapid as possible. The development of sciences, arts, and education knows no political boundary, and no one was ever pauperized or injured by being assisted in these fields.
That. I venture to suggest, is a proposition to which, at any rate in the abstract, everybody will assent. The necessity which modern conditions impose upon the farmer –and indeed upon everybody else - is to ask the most from science and to make the most of it. The object of the Bureau which it is intended to create under this Bill will be to lend the farmer all the aid which the results of patient investigation and experiment can place at his command. The old conception of farming is rapidly giving place to an entirely new one. Even now it is the practice to speak of the English farmer as “ Hodge,” a man of dull intellect and of very little capacity beyond that of looking after his agricultural pursuits. We all know that till quite recently in Great. Britain the terms “ Hodge “ and . “ Clodhopper “ were largely interchangeable. Going even further back there is that old quotation from’ the Apocrypha which comes “to my mind in this connexion-“ How can you expect wisdom from him whose talk is of bullocks?”
– We refer to him sometimes as “ Hayseed.”
– The idea still obtains that the farmer is necessarily a man who is not mentally as alert as are his fellows.
– That is not correct. We have branches of the Labour Leagues in agricultural districts now.
– That is another King Charles’ head. One can quite understand the reasons underlying this conception of the farmer. Hitherto the mental power of the world appears to have been largely attracted to more sensational, if less useful, fields of labour than those of agriculture. One can easily understand a man who is possessed of brilliant mental powers being attracted by the possibilities of electricity rather than by the more prosaic task of making two blades of grass grow where only one grew formerly. One can readily understand such men being attracted by the problems of human life, by the explorations of human surgery, rather than the less attractive but nevertheless useful problems of soil culture. But despite these other attractions; agriculture has still much for which to thank science. Quietly, steadily, if unostentatiously, science has solved many problems to the immense advantage of agriculture to-day. adding much to the aggregate wealth of the world, and contributing not a little to the peace and happiness of those who are engaged in agriculture. What a vast difference there is between the thought that has been bestowed upon agriculture and that which has been bestowed upon other subjects. Every school boy is familiar with the names of those who are famous as scientific discoverers, explorers, or generals, but how few can recall the names of those who have done so much to solve the problems of agricultural chemistry? Still there are a few names with which we are all familiar in that connexion, and I am happy to think that Australia has already produced one whose name will have to be added to the list. I refer to the late Mr. Farrer, a wheatbreeder of New South Wales, who by unostentatious but enthusiastic work developed new breeds which are entirely suitable for certain districts in that State. All these matters, I think, demonstrate that farming, in order to be successful, must make as big demands upon science, as great claims upon research, as does any other occupation. It is no longer the time when the mere capacity to handle a plough is sufficient. It is requisite that the farmer shall know the reason for the thing which he is doing, and that whenever a better method is discovered the knowledge shall be brought to him in order that, by its application, he may add to the product of his farm. Apart from the natural desire, there is a necessity upon us to render the labour of our farmers more productive, and that arises from the pressure of foreign competition, not on our own soil, but elsewhere in products as to which Tariffs cannot be of any assistance. Our wheat farmers have to face the competition of the cheapest labour in the world. The only way in which they can do that is by their efforts being so. directed that they will take from the soil the most of which it is capable, and as a result of the least possible effort.
– And that they should be able to get cheap and good land. The King’s head once more.
– It would be equally competent for rae to add to my honorable friend’s words “ and cheap everything else,” but I do not propose to do so, because that would open up a field of discussion which I do not desire to enter , at present. We have made magnificent strides in farming pure and simple. I venture to think for many years to come our wool will continue to take pride of place. It is interesting to note, however, that, while the export of wool has increased by 70 per cent, in the last five years, the’ increase being from 391,000,000 lbs. to 66,4,000,000 lbs., the export of wheat has increased by 250 per cent., the. increase being from 10,658,000 bushels to 36,956,000 bushels. These figures are the more remarkable from the fact that in 1897 Australia imported 3,641,000 bushels.
– That was owing to the drought.
– I do not think that it was. Certainly 1897 was not a year of abundance, but wheat was imported to that extent. Australia exported, in 1902, over 10,500,000 bushels, and in 1907 nearly 37.000,000 ‘bushels. Wheat production has increased magnificently. That is a result of which we may be justly proud, and which we hope is the forerunner of even greater expansion.
– Hear, hear; and the price has also increased.
– The price of wheat did not rise because a larger volume was exported, but a larger volume was exported because the price had risen. In New South Wales a big stimulus was given to wheat production by the fact that simultaneously the price of wool fell and the price of wheat rose, with the result that men who had small holdings on which they had been able to make a living by woolgrowing when the price of the article was high, suddenly found themselves unable to make a decent living. Therefore, they were under the necessity of more closely utilizing their ground, and at that very time it happened that the price of wheat rose. What occurred in New South Wales no doubt occurred in other States. To-day Australia produces only one-forty-second part of the world’s crop of wheat, but it is producing two-elevenths of the world’s clip of wool, so that we have a long way to go before our proportion of the world’s wheat crop approaches our proportion of the world’s wool clip. I hope that I am mistaken in interpreting the interjections of Senator Pearce as being hostile to the Bill, or as indicating that it is unnecessary.
– My objection is that there is nothing in the Bill. No Bureau is provided for.
– My honorable friend, I think-, misreads the Bill.
– It is only a placard.
– I promise my honorable friend that if the Bill is passed he will see the creation of an Agricultural Bureau.
– It will be created under regulations, because there is nothing on the point in the Bill itself.
– What would my honorable friend have in the Bill?
– I would have the framework for a Bureau of Agriculture.
– Would my honorable friend provide in the Bill that there shall be an Under-Secretary and various experts ?
– It is not my duty to frame Bills for the Government.
– I recognise that my honorable friend is following out the traditional duty of an Oppositionist.
– This is not a party measure.
– Of course it is not. I believe I am correct in stating that every Government of the Commonwealth has approved of the creation of a Bureau of Agriculture. The House of Representatives adopted, without division, a motion affirming the desirability of creating such a Department, Subsequent Governments indorsed that view, and even quite recently the Fisher Government, judging from the utterances of Mr. Fisher at Gympie, indicated an intention to create an Agricultural Bureau. In these circumstances, I hardly expect that any serious opposition will be offered to our proposition. The details of the Bill are, of course, matters for the consideration of honorable senators in Committee. I desire to point out what I regard as the most important work which will have to be intrusted to the Bureau when it is created. There should be no attempt to overlap or duplicate the work which is being carried on by the States. The most important work which the Federal Bureau will have to undertake will be that of original research.
– Is it possible to avoid duplication?
– It can be avoided where that is desirable; but I am not at all certain that I would call it duplication. Queensland and New South Wales, for instance, are each carrying on some small experiments in dry farming. I do not think that I would call that duplication. The work is of the same character ; but probably it is carried on under different conditions as to soil and climate. Let rae point out some of the problems which await solution. The sugar grub of Queensland is responsible for losses running, I believe, into many thousands of pounds every year. It may be asked at once, “ Why should not the State Government turn its attention to the eradication of that pest?” All I can say is that it is not doing so; and the eradication of the grub is as serious a problem to-day as it ever has been, yet the problem is unsolved. Again, bitter pit in apples affects more than one State. It cannot be said that a single State has seriously addressed itself to the solving of the problems connected with that serious disease, which is involving our fruitgrowers in annual losses running into enormous figures.
– Is it proposed that the Bureau shall deal with the disease or simply make a scientific investigation for the purpose of spreading information?
– In my opinion, original research should be the first, and certainly the more important work to be undertaken by the Bureau. I am instancing fields of exploration which are awaiting scientific investigators.
– Why cannot the State Governments do that work?
– They are not doing it. At the present moment three, perhaps four, States are troubled with bitter pit in apples.
– Assuming that the Bureau takes that matter in hand, is it intended merely to inform the fruit-growers how to eradicate that disease, or to compel them to take measures to that end?
– The Bureau could not compel the growers to eradicate the disease ; but one of its first duties should be to carry out scientific investigations for the purpose of ascertaining how to prevent or cure it. That requires trained scientific men. It would mean field investigation and observation, and perhaps field experiments.
– Will not the Bureau be a kind of academy?
– No. I take it that an academy is for the purpose of teaching. The officials to whom I have referred will be scientific men, whose province will be to learn. I can think of no better term than that of “original research.” It will be the business of these scientific men to investigate diseases, and ascertain the cause as well as the cure or prevention of them.
– Is the Bureau going to propagate plants?
– That is one of the powers taken in the Bill. Suppose that in the course of investigating bitter pit in apples, it was found necessary to carry on some experiments with plants by grafting, the clause to which my honorable friend refers would cover that.
– Does that include the acquisition of land to carry out the experiments?
– I do not think that there will be any attempt, at any rate in the immediate future, to acquire land for that purpose, because a much more sensible course will be to carry on field experiments on State farms, and possibly by means of State officials, at any rate with the cooperation of the States. I cannot conceive for a moment that, in view of the existence of the splendid State farms, there will be any attempt to start a Federal farm. Irish blight is another disease which is troubling at least four States to-day : and I suppose that no spirit of prophecy is required to enable one to say that it will not be very long before it troubles Australia generally.
– May I ask why the States do -not deal with the matter?
– I do not know. I merely know that they are not dealing with it.
– They are.
– I repeat that no State, so far as I am aware, is dealing with this Irish blight pest.
– Not experimenting? I think the honorable senator is mistaken.
– The Minister is not justified in saying that the States are doing nothing.
– If they are doing anything I am glad to hear it. But even so, it is evident that there are limits within which the State officers are forced to work, and there has certainly been no systematic effort to solve the problem
– Irish blight has only recently become a prominent question.
– What I am saying is not in any way a reflection upon the States and their officers. We must all recognise that the States have done excellent work within their limits. Some of the experts, as is well known to me, are men who are working from love of their science, and certainly not for the insignificant remuneration which, according to my estimate, they are receiving. But nevertheless it is true that many State officers are not given those opportunities for original research which it is necessary that they should have if problems like this are to be solved. I know States where you will find highly scientific men in a Department - pathologists or entomologists, for instance - but their time is taken up not with scientific study, but with office work.
– We have an expert in Western Australia who has been sent all over the world.
– “ One swallow does not make a summer.” I can, if necessary, quote from official reports by scientific officers attached to State Departments in which they complain bitterly of the fact that they are not able to give the best work of which they are capable, and cannot pursue any line of scientific investigation, because they have such a multiplicity of other duties imposed upon them.
– We have the same sort of things in our Commonwealth Departments^ - heads of Departments doing mere clerical work.
– I am not saying that our own Departments are perfect; but to admit so much does not make the present state of things any better, It will also be generally admitted that whatever work may have been accomplished, there are many unsolved problems awaiting solution. One very important matter affecting the whole of the States relates to the purity of our seeds. Quite recently the Nurserymen’s Association held a meeting and passed a resolution which I shall take the liberty of reading to the Senate -
That, in the opinion of this Association, it is highly desirable that the Commonwealth should establish a Department of Agriculture that would bring all the States into uniformity in regard to legislation regulating export anil import trade between the States and oversea in seeds, plants, fruit, and all other products which are now dealt with by each of the States and the Commonwealth in various conflicting ways.
– This Bill does not touch that matter.
– It does.
– There is no compelling power - no power to exercise authority.
– It is impossible to exercise authority as to keeping seeds pure, unless we have available a scientific staff to look after the work.
– But the Department will not be clothed with authority.
– The first essential is unquestionably that we . should have available a competent and unbiased authority to whom reference can be made when any question as to purity of seeds arises.
– The honorable senator has quoted only one resolution, and, as he himself has said, ‘*’ One swallow does not make a summer.”
– The resolution which I have quoted is at least as important as any of those to which the. honorable senator refers occasionally. 1 pass to other matters which, it seems to me, would invite the attention of an Agricultural Bureau. I have dealt with those affecting more particularly the cultivator. We have also- to contend with stock diseases. In spite of all that the States have done many of the problems associated with those diseases have not yet been solved. There are many diseases affecting stock which are still making a heavy toll upon stock-owners. They are subjects which ought to be investigated upon an Australian scale. I come now to two questions which, at first sight, appear to be rather at opposite poles’, but which are, nevertheless, full of interest and really have something in common. I refer to the utilization of artesian water, and to the question of dry farming - the latter being a subject which Senator McColl has made particularly his own. At the present moment there is the greatest conflict of evidence amongst those who venture to speak with authority as to when and how artesian water ought to be used for irrigation purposes. In my own State of New South Wales diametrically opposite opinions have been expressed, both by scientific experts and by those who have practical experience in the use of artesian waters. Here is a question which, it may be said, should be left to the States. But let me point out that the artesian water area does not stop at the boundary of any one State. In New South Wales we are supplied from the same underground basin as supplies the State of Queensland. Probably there is no one in Australia who can give an opinion worth having as to what extent these waters can be used - in other words, whether they should be regarded as exhaustible or inexhaustible. No State investigation would have any value in determining this problem. The Americans, recognising the great value of a thorough investigation of so great a source of national wealth, appointed, many years ago, an Underflow Commission, which was practically a permanent body. It was composed of scientific men and practical men, who might be supposed to know everything about the question, including surveyors, geologists, and those familiar with hydrography and various other kindred matters.
– The artesian basin in Australia is fairly well defined, is it not?
– I take the liberty of doubting that. The honorable senator will find that there is a wide difference of opinion on the subject. Those who have made the fullest investigation within the time at their disposal have been unable to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. There is at present the gravest doubt even as to where the intake area is situated. The American Commission carried out its investigations so fully that it was able to state with approximate accuracy what quantity of artesian water could be taken out of a given basin; and in certain cases, when bores have been sunk in a district, the Commission has been able to predict the quantity of water which would be obtained. They considered the extent of the outcropping rock through which the water is absorbed in the first instance ; then they determined the rainfall over the intake area; the quantity of water which the rock was capable of absorbing; the quantity which passed off by means of what may be called surface rivers; and so forth. Having obtained this information, they determined the rate at which the water would probably travel through the rock, and, having allowed for friction and ascertained the height, they were able to tell what quantity of water would come up when a bore was sunk at a lower level. So accurate have these observations been that in one particular district - I think it was the district of Denver - when the Commission’s predictions were disregarded, the result noted was that, while the additional bores produced water they did so at the expense of the other bores at higher levels. That is to say the quantity of water yielded had not increased at all, but was simply distributed over a larger number of bores. This Commission determined the quantity of water in a given basin with such accuracy that it was able to say in certain instances that if additional bores were put down at lower levels the effect would simply be to rob those at higher levels ; and such proved to be the case. We in Australia have not the slightest information as to how far we can go on increasing the number of bores without risk. That is to say, we do not know how near we are to the margin of exhaustibility. I know that there has been a tendency in quite a number of cases in New South Wales for the flow of water to diminish, but whether that has been due to a fault in the sinking of the bores, or in some measure to the long period of drought which we had a few years ago, has not been determined. It may have been partly due to the multiplication of bores elsewhere. Certainly the matter is one of Australian importance, and the investiga. tion which is necessary cannot be conducted by the authorities of any one State.
– The Commonwealth could not sink a bore without the authority of the State.
– But no one State can conduct such an investigation as is necessary.
– Have the Government obtained the permission of the State Premiers to investigate?
– If there is a member of this Senate who has been more persistent than another in contending that we should not consult the State Premiers it is Senator Stewart. The question of dry farming is also one the possibilities of which no one can predict, nor can any one say the extent to which the adoption of the system will add to the area cultivable in Australia. But no person who has given even the most casual attention to the question can fail to know that dry farming is undoubtedly going to be of vast importance to us. It is a subject which so far the States have not done much to investigate. New South Wales has done a little; Queensland very little. Possibly other States are doing scarcely anything. We require methodical or systematic investigation. At present that which any of the States may be doing is not known to the rest.
– The information obtained in South Australia is circulated all over the ‘Commonwealth.
– By whom?
– By the Agricultural Department.
– I have lived in New South Wales for a large number of years, but I have never seen the South Australian Departmental magazine, though I see the Queensland magazine as well as that of my own State. The point is that such investigations as have taken place have been carried on under such circumstances that the results were not available for the consideration of the farmers of other States. If Senator W. Russell implies that I might have obtained a copy of the South Australian publication by applying for it he is no doubt correct.
– The honorable senator has net yet told me where the Bill came from.
– It came to me, of course, from the draftsman. I wish to deal with the argument, suggested by interjections, that we should,, leave these matters to the States’. I propose to quote from a newspaper which, perhaps, on this matter, may be regarded as speaking with some weight, because it cannot be said to have been extreme in urging the Federation to undertake new duties. I refer to the Sydney Morning Herald. After referring to the enormous importance to Australia, as to every country, of agricultural progress, an article published in that newspaper continues -
Recognising this, our duty to primary production is clear. Whatever else we may neglect we should make this our special care. Hence the need not only for State Departments of Agriculture, but for a Federal Department also. Mr. Deakin has already declared that it was the intention of the Federal Government to establish such, and Sir. William Lyne referred again to the matter at Wagga the other night. Mr. Wade expressed the hope that there would be no overlapping; but there need be none.’ The State Departments can pursue their course as teachers within the States. But the Federal . Department could busy itself with the investigation of large scientific questions of Commonwealth concern. In a particular way, however, we might indicate, as the function of a Federal Department or Bureau of Agriculture, the higher and broader scientific work and the suggestions which the result of that work will make possible.
I say that we can all indorse that. There is scientific work which the State Departments have so far attempted only in a partial way, and which it would be the duty of the scientists attached to a Federal Department to undertake without respect to State boundaries. I have already been longer than I intended, but the subject is to me an attractive one.
– Should not the Bill have a great influence in regard to the future development of the Northern Territory ?
– The whole question of tropical agriculture will necessarily demand considerable attention from the Department proposed to be created under this Bill. Assuming the Northern Territory to be taken over by the Commonwealth, as it unquestionably will be sooner or later, I have not the slightest doubt that it will make considerable demands on the attention of this Department. I have already quoted statements dealing with the relationship between the Federal Agricultural Bureau of the United States and the State Departments in that country, and I now direct the attention of honorable senators to this statement by Mr. Spillman, who appears to be one of the scientific staff attached to the United States Federal Bureau. He says -
The number of subjects requiring investigation calls for a large number of specialists. It would be wasteful of public funds for each State to undertake independently to maintain such a staff of specialists as would be necessary to solve even all the important problems arising in farming. Many subjects can be investigated by a single man for the whole country. It is therefore in the interests of public economy for the National Department of Agriculture to carry on certain lines of investigation.
I remind honorable senators that at present we have an Agricultural Department in each of the States. We have six officials in the several States carrying out a multiplicity of duties, and it will be admitted that instead of having six men following out the same lines of investigation, it would be better to specialize, and to have each man specially directing his energy and attainments to the investigation of a particular agricultural problem. Senator Stewart asked’ whether the State Premiers had been consulted in this matter. I am aware that the honorable senator and Senator W. Russell would scorn the suggestion that we should consult them in connexion with any other matter, especially if they thought that the State Premiers desired to do something of which they did not approve. In connexion with this matter some communications have taken place between the Commonwealth authorities and the Governments of the various States.
– Recently ?
– I have a statement here from Mr. Swinburne, who wrote as Minister for Agriculture in Victoria, in 1908. He expressed this opinion -
The Commonwealth could with advantage confine its attention to research rather than administrative work. At present each of the States maintains a staff of experts to conduct research work. These experts included entomologists, vegetable pathologists, and veterinary officers, who were inquiring into many problems of vital importance to the producers of Australia. Among these problems were rust in wheat, bitter-pit in apples, and stock disease, for which no scientifically-based cure has yet been found. Were the Commonwealth to assume control of this work much good could be done. Instead of half-a-dozen States working for the same end along different lines with expensive staffs, the Commonwealth would be able to coordinate the work and secure for its advancement the very best scientific and practical experts that the world offered. The bureau could be maintained by contributions from the States and the Federal Government -
Of course, that is not proposed - and its establishment would open up a new era in production.
With a staff consisting of some of the greatest living experts problems involving the States in losses aggregating hundreds of thousands of pounds annually could be more effectively grappled with. Pasteur’s discoveries were said to have been worth to France alone 220 millions of money, and as a result of his investigations into disease of silkworms a waning industry had been re-established on a sound foundation. A vast saving would be effected in the Commonwealth if a remedy could be found for existing diseases, and he thought the field was one in which the energies of the Commonwealth might be given full scope. If the Commonwealth were not prepared to undertake the work, the question of co-ordinating research operations might well be taken into consideration by the States.
I feel disposed to apologize for making all these quotations, but some persons have desired to know how far this proposal has support from outside. I do not know that that should influence a Government in introducing or withholding a measure, but it is satisfactory when a measure is introduced to find that people outside approve of the course proposed to be followed. Mr. McAlpine, the Vegetable Pathologist of Victoria, dealing with the question of bitterpit in apples’ to which Mr. Swinburne referred in his communication, reported as follows : -
Since the disease is common in several of the States of the Commonwealth, and as it is not one that can be properly investigated by any single State, it would be the duty of a National Department of Agriculture to undertake it. But since there is no machinery at’ present in existence for this purpose, I would strongly recommend that the different States particularly interested, viz. :-New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, should provide the necessary funds and appoint a skilled investigator who would devote his whole time to an experimental study of this serious disease both in the laboratory and in the orchard. Experiments could then be conducted in each State, and from the very nature of the disease, its investigation would require the co-operation of the leading growers in the respective States. Every possible factor which contributes to the growth of the tree and the formation of fruit would require to ‘be dealt with.
That is a report from a gentleman of repute occupying an official position. It shows that the duty referred to is one which should be discharged by a central authority. As there is no central authority, Mr. McAlpine strongly urges that the States should join in appointing a scientifically equipped man to deal with this one problem. Mr. Barlow, the Acting Premier of Queensland, in September last said this -
I have received a long report from the Department of my colleague, the’ Secretary for Agriculture, the last paragraph of which I append hereto, and in which I fully concur. “ The Minister desires that the Commonwealth Government be informed that if the bureau is established this Department, recognising that it will be .for the common good, will be prepared in every way to fully co-operate in any work that lies within its sphere in which this Department may be able to help.”
That is from a communication as recent as September last. The late Mr. Thomas Price, when Premier of South Australia, in a communication opposed the proposal for a Federal Agricultural Bureau. It is, however, curious that, whilst opposing the creation of a Federal Bureau, he suggested that there should be periodical and regular State Conferences at which State officials should meet to compare and co-ordinate their work.
– He was for years a member of the South Australian Agricultural Bureau.
– I am saying that while the late Mr. Price opposed the idea of creating a central authority, his very suggestion shows that he recognised the necessity for it. He differed from us merely as to the form it should take, whether there should be Federal control or merely a meeting of State officials, each of whom would be at liberty to leave the Conference at any moment he chose, each State being left quite free to follow the recommendations of the Conferences or to disregard them.
– Does the honorable senator think that a Federal Bureau is necessary ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that I should be introducing this Bill if I did not consider that a Federal Bureau, was necessary.
– I wished to know why the honorable senator was “ stone- wal ling “ the measure?
– I have already apologized, thinking that I might have unduly occupied the time of the Senate. Perhaps I attach undue importance to the question, but I regard agriculture as being what it undoubtedly is, the main source of our national wealth. The slightest thing we can do to help it, though it may be poor and small so far as the individual is concerned, must in the aggregate be of very great advantage indeed. I approach the completion of my remarks, but I should like to remind honorable senators that whatever the various States of Australia may be doing, we are very far behind the efforts made in other countries to grapple scientifically with the problems confronting the ‘ agriculturist. I admit that the countries to which I refer have larger populations than we have in Australia. From the latest report I find that the United States appropriates, roughly, £1,500,000 a year towards the up-keep of the Federal Agricultural Bureau. In addition, the several States have separate Departments, and one or more experimental stations. Canada appropriated in the last year for which figures are available the sum of £181,500 for her Bureau. Great Britain is always slow to move in matters of this kind, but she has been taking action in this matter for some few years, and through the Royal Society and by other means is doing something to stimulate scientific investigation for the assistance of the farmer. Honorable senators may remember that an industrial Commission sat in the United States in 1902. I find that that Commission reported as follows : -
Agriculture has derived more benefit from the establishment of the Department of Agriculture and from its administrative work than from any other Federal legislation. The annual injury to fruit an3 grain from the ravages of insects would probably be double what it is now but for the work of the Department. Its experiments improving the adaptation of crop to climates and soils have developed agriculture into a science and alike benefited the industry and the country in general.
I submit that a report of that kind from such a Commission, and based upon its investigations, is one which we should not lightly brush aside. The plain statement is made that agriculture in the United States has derived more benefit from the establishment of the Agricultural Bureau than from any other Federal legislation.’
– When was that Bureau established?
– I cannot say. To my knowledge it has been in existence for twenty-five years. I have been receiving its official records for the past fifteen years.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any idea of what was the population of the States when it was established ?
– It has been established seventy years.
– Surely my honorable friend Senator Dobson will not suggest that Australia ought not to do anything until it has a population as large as that which was possessed by the United States when the Washington Bureau was established ? senator Dobson. - Scarcely. Yet it is an element which ‘ought to be taken into consideration.
– My honorable friend should recollect that we do things much more rapidly in the present -day. Another authority from whom I propose to quote is Mr. Foster Fraser who, in his book America ai Work, says -
To my mind, the Agricultural Department of the United States is the most useful organization in the world. It does not do all it sets out to accomplish, but the machinery is there, and the enthusiasm is there. More than all - and this is the point - it is practical to the American. The results of experiments spell dollars. It is thorough.
– The States have already provided that machinery.
– - We want more of it. President Roosevelt, speaking shortly before he quitted office, said -
The production of raw material from the surface of the earth is the sphere in which the Department of Agriculture has hitherto achieved such noticeable results. Of all the Executive Departments, there is no other, not even the Post Office, which comes into more direct and beneficent contact with the daily life of the public than the Department of Agriculture, and none whose yield of practical benefits is greater in proportion to the public money expended. But great as its services have been in the past,1 the Department of Agriculture has a still larger field of usefulness ahead. It has been dealing with, growing crops. It must hereafter deal with living men. Hitherto agricultural research, instruction, and agitation, have been directed almost exclusively towards the production of wealth from the soil. It is time to adopt, in addition, a new point of view. Hereafter, another great class before the National Department of Agriculture, and the similar agencies of the various States, must be to foster agriculture for its social results, or, in other words, to assist in bringing about the best kind of life on the farm for the sake of producing the best kind of men.
That quotation opens up another train of thought. One of the most frequently heard lamentations is that the tendency of the people is towards the cities - that they desire to abandon country life and to crowd our thickly-populated centres. I do not regard that tendency as such a great evil as do many of my honorable friends. But the closing sentences of President Roosevelt’s utterance point to the necessity - if we wish to attract people to country life- of offering them such facilities for carrying on farming operations as will relieve the farm of its former drudgery, and dispel all doubt as to its profitableness.
– We must give them good land to start with.
– If I gave the honorable senator the best land in the country, he would not farm it for twenty-four hours.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the question.
– Nor has the interjection of my honorable friend. I have endeavoured to point out - perhaps at excessive length - the great importance of agriculture to the wealth production of the country. I have attempted to show that there is a field of usefulness awaiting those who will be connected with the new Department which it is proposed to create. That field will be largely in the direction of scientific investigation of methods of cultivation, and of those diseases which levy such heavy toll on the various forms of agricultural production in Australia. With regard to the extent of the Bureau’s operations, that must be left entirely to Parliament when it is asked to deal with the appropriation.
– From where does the Vice-President of the Executive Council propose to get support for this Bill, seeing that it contemplates legislation of a Socialistic character?
– I have never been able to understand an interjection of that kind, because it is based upon the assumption that all State action is of a Socialistic character.
– It is certainly not Of an Anti- Socialistic character.
– My guide as to whether or not a proposal is of a Socialistic nature -
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council wants a guide very badly.
– No; because I can always appeal to my honorable friend. So far as I understand Socialism, it seeks to suppress private enterprise. If any proposed State action were intended to produce that result, my honorable friend would be justified in terming it Socialism. But State action which is undertaken for the purpose of fostering and of furthering private enterprise, cannot be called Socialism.
– What will be the probable, cost of the proposed Department?
– The cost will depend entirely upon the extent of the work which we are prepared to at once undertake, and that will be entirely within the control of Parliament in approving the appropriation.
– Will the Government, for example, ask Parliament to vote £5,000 a year for the establishment of the Department, or £10,000?
– I am not prepared to say. Our first duty is to ascertain whether Parliament approves of the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. If it does, it will be the duty of the Government to submit proposals-
– What amount has been placed upon the Estimates in this connexion ?
– There is no justi fication for putting any sum upon the Estimates until this Bill has been passed.
– It is usual to consider the cost of any undertaking in conjunction with the measure authorizing it.
– No. We might pass this Bill and incur no cost. Whether the Department will cost £10,000 annually or , £100,000 is’ a matter which it is within the competence of Parliament to decide. It is impossible to say what it will cost until we have determined its scope.
– Is the cost of the American Department $1,000,000 or £1,000,000?
– It is a shade under £1,500,000.
– Has it branches in the different States?
– It has experimental stations throughout the States, in addition to which the States themselves have experimental stations. It has been suggested that there is nothing in this Bill - that it is a mere placard. I do not know why it should be considered a placard, seeing that clause 2 affirms that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture established. By that provision Parliament is asked to direct that such a Department shall be created. The clause then sets out what will foe the duties of the Department. Surely the measure cannot be considered a placard when Ministers seek Parliamentary authority for the creation of this Department ! That is the sole purpose of the Bill. If that authority be granted, it will be the duty of the Minister of Home Affairs to devise a scheme of organization and to submit it for Parliamentary approval. The proper time at which to discuss the cost of its establishment willbe either when the main or supplementary estimates are under consideration. If honorable senators are at all apprehensive as to the cost that will be involved in the establishment of this Department, I would suggest to them that that is a matter for subsequent consideration. The one point which we now have to consider is, whether there will be, under the proposed Bureau, a useful field of work to be exploited by Federal officers for Australia - work which is not now being fully performed by State agencies.
Debate (on motion by Senator W. Russell) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It is ‘a small measure, the consideration of which ought not to occupy many minutes. Its purpose is to bring the Act which at present regulates the taking of a referendum into conformity with the Electoral Act as it was recently amended by this Chamber. The principal amendments made in the electoral law by the Senate were designed to simplify the procedure adopted in dealing with postal votes and with cer- ‘ tificates which are attached to them. Under the principal Act a separate certificate must be issued with each postal ballotpaper, both for the Senate and the House of Representatives. The new procedure provides that one certificate may be employed in both cases. It is now proposed to make that one certificate equally applicable, not only to elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate, but also to a referendum. The whole of these amendments are mere matters of form. They involve no principle. Indeed, they may be said to be consequential upon the amendments made in the principal Electoral Act. One class of them may be illustrated by the amendments coming under the heading of “ Miscellaneous.” There it will be seen that we have embodied in this Bill provision for the authentication of ballot-papers similar to that which has already been approved in our Electoral Act. In the Electoral Bill which was recently before this Chamber, we provided that the ballot-papers should be printed on specially water-marked paper, and this Bill provides for the use of similar paper in the taking of a referendum. All the amendments, I repeat, are* merely intended to bring the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act into conformity with the Electoral Bill which was passed by the Senate only a few weeks ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 13th October (vide page 4453), on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– -I regret that the Government have net taken into account the unnecessary expense which is involved in the enactment of this measure at the present time. It has been urged by various speakers that the main cause for the creation of an InterState Commission has entirely disappeared. In other words, there is no rivalry between the States in regard to railway freights, and therefore there is no longer any difficulty in that regard to be coped with. Only a few years ago some members of the present Ministry committed themselves to an entirely opposite course of action. At the Hobart Conference in 1905, when the ReidMcLean Ministry was in office, Mr. Dugald Thomson submitted the following motion : -
That it is desirable that the State Governments should themselves abandon all preferential or differential rates which would be abolished by an Inter-State Commission, and so save the expense of the appointment and maintenance of such a Commission.
That was a very sensible course to propose, piovided, of course, that the heads of the railway systems would come to a commonsense understanding to abolish the differential railway rates which had occasioned so much trouble. The State Premiers agreed to the proposition of Mr. Thomson, and the result was that, with the exception of Queensland, the Railways Commissioners, in obedience to the decision of their respective Premiers,abandoned differential or preferential rates. In these circumstances, I feel that there is no justification for the introduction of this Bill in its present form. But if we take the case of Western Australia we find that there is very good reason for the institu- tion of a tribunal of this kind. That State, which has no railway communication, is entirely dependent upon the InterState shipping companies for the carriage of goods to and from the eastern States. Possessing a complete monopoly of the carrying trade, those companies are improving the shining hour, and compelling the residents of Western Australia to pay higher fares and freight than they should do. Of course the companies are kept in reasonable check by the railway systems of the eastern States. Recently I had occasion to inquire whai rates were charged by the Shipping Combine, and the manager of the Austral Otis Company told me that the rates from Melbourne to Broken Hill were cheaper by railway than by water and railway. He obtained a contract from a Broken Hill mining compan) for the supply of fifty concentrating tables. But when he set about executing it he found that the Inter-State shipping companies charged exactly the same rate. He then proceeded to find out what it would cost to send the fifty concentrating tables by railway from Melbourne to Broken Hill, and he discovered that he would save at least£200 by using railway instead of water and land carriage.
– One charged by. measurement and the other by weight.
– I do not think that that could account for. the difference in the cost of conveying the tables. At all events, the incident goes to show that carriage by water and land from Melbourne to Broken Hill is dearer than carriage by railway.
– One is a State monopoly, and the other is a private monopoly.
– Exactly, and that is what accounts for the difference in cost. Western Australia is in an unenviable position owing to the fact that it is dependent upon the shipping companies for the carriage of passengers and goods to and from the eastern States. Since there is no railway to act as a corrective we are very much at their mercy. When the manager of the Austral Otis Company found that he could save£200 by sending fifty concentrating tables by railway to Broken Hill, that fact enabled him to carry out the contract. If, however, he had had to send the tables to Western Australia, he would have had either to submit to the rates of the Shipping Combine or not to fulfil the contract. What I have stated can be verified on application to him. From that incident alone it can be seen that the people of Western Australia are suffering a manifest injustice. In view of the fact that Western Australia is severely handicapped by the high rates which are levied by the InterState shipping companies, I had hoped that its people would obtain some relief from a measure of this kind. But, although I find that it embodies a method for adjusting unfair competition between the several States, I am forced to the conclusion that I must forfeit that possible advantage to my State in order to prevent the creation of a tribunal which, as regards the removal of unfair competition, will prove abortive. -I refer to Part V. of the Bill, which is supposed to settle unfair competition among the several States, and which, in my opinion, can only lead to disaster. This can in no sense be a workable measure. It can only lead people to entertain false hopes regarding its workableness, and the good effects which should flow from its enactment. I regret that on this occasion, as on others, the Prime Minister has fallen so far from grace as to turn his back upon professions which he made quite recently on this important subject. In other circumstances, he proclaimed his firm belief in an entirely different method for putting an end to unfair competition among the States.. But he is now differently circumstanced, and he comes along with a lame, halting, abortive measure, which will cause endless expense to the workers, and, perhaps, not suppl) the remedy which they are looking for.
– Is he any worse than the Minister of Trade and Customs ?
– On this question the Prime Minister was on the right track once, but he is now found in different company. Even the Minister of Trade and Customs was on the right track once, but he is now found in different company, which accounts for his altered position. The Prime Minister proclaimed his belief in a memorandum which did ‘him credit then, but which certainly does not do him credit now. On the 13th December, 1907, there was presented to the Senate a memorandum containing the following statement: -
These proposals, to some extent, cover the ground that is already occupied by legislation in some of the States. Every exercise of power by the Commonwealth, in matters in which Commonwealth and States have concurrent authority, must be subject to this condition. The co-operation of the State Governments is most desirable in every aspect; but the Commonwealth cannot ignore its obligation, so far . as the Constitution allows, to secure equitable and uniform industrial conditions in all the industries which come within the range of its fiscal legislation.
The position which Mr. Deakin took up then was that the Commonwealth could not ignore its obligation. He recognised that the co-operation of the States was most desirable, but he also said in emphatic terms that the Commonwealth could not ignore its obligation. He continued -
To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of these duties, while the conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in the different States, would be to permit inequality, discrimination, and discord.
On that occasion some members of the present Government were not willing to consult the States in any particular. They considered that the Commonwealth had a duty to perform irrespective of what the States might think, and, therefore, Mr. Deakin, their head, declared that it had an obligation to discharge. But what is his position to-day ? Circumstances have altered, and owing to the political necessities of the time the Government are urging that other action be taken whereby the leave of the States must be obtained before the Commonwealth can move. They are proposing to take this action, and are at the same time depending upon the States to give them the necessary authority. I ask any honorable senator, is it right that this Parliament, being in a position to legislate, should ask the States for leave to do so? I feel satisfied that if it is ever tested, this measure as it stands will be found to be inoperative.
– I shall now leave the chair until a quarter to eight o’clock ; but the honorable senator will Be entitled to resume his speech when the Bill is called on again.
Silting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I moveThat, in view of the ineffective means employed for disseminating the forecasts of the Meteorological Department throughout the Commonwealth and the imperative need for’ reaching the isolated seamen, fishermen, orchardists, farmers, and others engaged in the primary industries with immediate intelligence of changes in the weather, the Senate is of opinion that the Post and Telegraph Department should be modernized without delay, so as to destroy or minimize the disadvantage of distance, and place those persons distantly situated on the same footing in this regard as those more conveniently located. “
This motion simply means that, in my opinion, the Senate should consider the nature of the services performed by the Post and Telegraph Department in distributing the weather forecasts of the Meteorological Department. I have 110 fault to find with the way in which our meteorological forecasts are obtained, or with the organization of the Department. I think it is conducted in a most competent way, and gives full value for the £15,000 or thereabouts that is annually spent upon it. Whilst I am prepared to acknowledge the value of the forecasts issued by “this Department, I wish to direct attention to the way in which they are conveyed to the people. I presume that this Parliament would not have been eager to establish a Meteorological Department merely in order to advance the science of meteorology. If there had not been a general desire that the people of the Commonwealth should have the benefit of the latest and most accurate anticipations of weather changes, it is not likely that the Department would have been established. It will be admitted that there was not sufficient justification for the establishment of such a Department for purely scientific purposes. It is because I feel that, under existing conditions, it is not possible to make the fullest use of the work of the Department throughout the Commonwealth that I submit my motion. From Cape York, in North Queensland, to Wilson’s Promontory, and round to Broome, in, Western Australia, the Meteorological Department collects data ; and in the circumstances, it is absurd that the distribution of the information so obtained should be as circumscribed as it is. Our weather reports are readily accessible to the residents of populous centres. They always get first hand information, whilst those engaged in the arduous work of earning a livelihood on the outer fringes of civilization are overlooked. Although it may not be possible for us to reach them with the very latest information published by the Meteorological Department, it is certainly our duty to do what we can to remove the obstacles which at the present time prevent them from getting information from which they might profit. The residents of populous centres have only to look at the weather charts published in the daily papers each morning to learn what kind of weather they may expect during the next twenty -four hours. The farmer, the orchardist, and the man engaged in raising stock can make his arrangements accordingly. Those engaged in the shipping and fishing industries can adjust their movements in the same way. But people engaged in similar occupations in remote districts beyond the range of the telegraph and telephone, are left to the mercy of chance, and do not share in the benefits derived by others from the work of the Meteorological Department. Let me say that the Department is not established for the benefit of persons who wish to take part in picnics, but in order that valuable information might be given to people engaged in the industries of the country, and in producing its wealth.
– Does the honorable senator not think that those who take part in occasional picnics may also be engaged in producing wealth?
– I do not object to the picnicker making use of information published by the Meteorological Department. What I am saying is that the information is most readily accessible to those who are unable to turn such intelligence to the best account. Assuming that the Department has been established chiefly for the benefit of the people of this country who are engaged in pursuits in connexion with which the knowledge of weather conditions is most necessary, it is our duty to see that any obstacles which prevent them from acquiring that knowledge should be removed. Honorable senators will find, in my motion, a reference to sailors and fishermen, and some persons may be inclined to ask why we should be concerned about the needs of isolated seamen. I should like to say that, along our 8,000 miles of coast-line, there are many men engaged in the transport of produce from one port to another in small crafts of which they are themselves the owners, captains, and crews. The same thing applies to the fishing industry generally, and to the pearling industry of Torres Straits, and of the north-west coast of Western Australia. I can give honorable senators an example of the way in which weather forecasts are published at the present time. If the Meteorological Bureau anticipates a storm, for instance, in Torres Straits, information of the forecast is wired to the principal station, say, at Thursday Island, or to some less important telegraph station, and is posted outside the office. Fishermen out in their boats are not made aware of the notices posted outside the telegraph office, and have no knowledge of the forecasts.
– How does the honorable senator propose to convey the information to such persons?
– By wireless telegraphy.
– I shall touch upon that later on. The information might be distributed by the use of the telephone.
– The honorable senator spoke of seamen out in their boats.
– They might be given the information by the use of signals, such as are used in the United States. When notice of a storm reaches Thursday Island, or Broome, in Western Australia, in addition to posting the notice outside the Telegraph Office the information should be conveyed by signal to fishermen of the weather conditions anticipated.
– By semaphore.
– By semaphore, or some form of signal. On the coast of New South Wales there is a great number of inlets and bays in which fishermen are engaged for days together, and I am given to understand that so far as a knowledge^ of anticipated weather conditions is con’cerned they are left to the mercy of chance. They may be able to reach shelter before the approach of a storm or may have to endure its rigours. Whilst it is important that those engaged in seafaring occupations should be supplied with information as to the probable changes of weather during each twenty-four hours, the information is of equal importance to those engaged in industries on land.- Here again we find the Post and Telegraph Derpartment very inefficient in the distribution of this very useful intelligence. There are many industries in this State, the persons engaged in which might be greatly benefited by an early knowledge of probable weather changes within the approaching twenty-four hours. I venture to say at the same time that there are persons resident in large districts of the Commonwealth who take no interest in the Meteorological Department. They derive no benefit from its forecasts, because they do not reach them in the newspapers until the periods which they cover have passed. It will be admitted that a knowledge of weather conditions is of the utmost importance to the farmer in carrying on his operations. If he is about to plough his land and is informed that wet weather is approaching he can arrange his work so as to take full advantage of the information given him.
– A twenty-four hours’ forecast would not be of much use. He could not do much ploughing in a day.
– That is true, but the Minister may be aware that in some instances forecasts are issued of weather conditions anticipated over a longer period than twenty-four hours.
– I am informed that they are. I do not attach so much importance to the operation of ploughing as to the operations of seeding and harvesting. When seeding time arrives it is most necessary that the farmer should know what the weather conditions are likely to be, and he is seriously handicapped in his operations if he is left without this information. The same remarks apply to the operations of the orchardists. The successful planting and growing of the fruit trees and the picking of various varieties of fruit, such as peaches, apricots, oranges and lemons, depend very largely upon weather conditions, and it is qf the first importance to the orchardist to know what those conditions are likely to be. Those engaged in stock raising are equally concerned in securing this information. Early knowledge of approaching wet weather would enable the pastoralists to avoid the difficulty of shearing wet sheep, and the information might be availed of to avoid the loss of numbers of stock which might but for it be turned out in cold and wet weather. This information would be of corresponding value in connexion with every industry in the whole field of primary production. Knowledge of such forecasts would be especially valuable at harvesting time. Honorable senators will agree that it is of vital importance that men should be made aware of the probable weather conditions at such a time. The absence of such knowledge might render it. impossible for them to save the results of a whole year’s labour. ‘ To show the extent to which this branch of science is availed of in the United States I may inform honorable senators that newspapers published in that country are full of eulogies of the benefits conferred by the Meteorological Department of the United States. I quote the following from an Orleans newspaper in connexion with a prediction by the United States Weather Bureau of cold weather -
While the temperature has been below freezing point in the sugar and trucking region of New Orleans several times this season, the freezing mark was registered at New Orleansyesterday morning. Timely warnings were scattered, broadcast by the weather bureau stating that planters and the public should be prepared for temperatures of 24 deg. to 28 deg. in the sugar region and 30 deg. at New Orleans. The prediction was fully verified. Farming interests consider the warnings of incalculablevalue, and they do not complain if a prediction sometimes falls short. So accurate and definite have the warnings become that no planting interest in the State has suffered from weather conditions if the warnings are believed and action taken to prevent loss and damage.
That is the testimony of a journal published in the southern and- central portionof the country. I quote the following from the Oregonian, published at Portland, on the extreme west of the continent. It refers to forecasts issued from Washington on the other side of the United States.
The accuracy of the forecasts of the weather bureau on last week’s storms was remarkable, and shipping masters who heeded the forecasts and remained in port saved money for theunderwriters and much unpleasantness for themselves.
The Springfield News, published at Massachusetts, has the following : -
One of the worst blizzards for many years- has swept this country, causing distress and damage. Life and property must be sacrificed’ to these monsters that no human ingenuity cancontrol. The Government have undertaken in. its weather bureau to send forewarnings of its approach, and how much life and property has been saved through such warnings cannot be computed. There is no branch of the publicservice that is of such value to the people.
Honorable senators will note the significance of the last sentence in that quotation. The Morning Tribune, published at Tampa, says -
But for the prompt and ample warnings given by the weather bureau office and the precautions immediately taken on receipt of this warning by farmers and growers, the damage would have been about ten times what it really was.
There is ample evidence of the measure of relief to various interests in the United States afforded by the operations of the Meteorological Department of that country. The Argus bears very valuable testimony tothe work of our Department in warning the residents at Broome, Western Australia, of the approach of a “ Willy Willy.” It says -
The warning given of the approach of a “ Willy willy “ which occurred in the evening of Monday, 5th inst. (April, 1909) off the north- west coast of Western Australia is a great instance of the utility of the forecasts issued by the Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau.
I’ mention this specific instance because whilst that message was valuable to those living on the spot where the cyclone occurred, I believe that a postal regulation prevented the tapping of that news at any intermediate point. If such a regulation does exist it is an extremely foolish one.
– It prevents the tapping of wires for any news.
– But information of this character should be placed in a different category from all other information. No regulation should be permitted to stand in the way of making valuable news of that description as widely known as possible. The last quotation which I propose to make “is from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 5th September, 1905. That journal says -
Even with the imperfect organization at his command, the Acting Meteorologist was able to send to the exchange in Sydney twenty-four hours’ notice of the disastrous blow that last week caused the wreck of the schooner Jones Bros., and the loss of her crew. With a betterequipped Department properly credentialled by the Government and fully supplied with all the facilities required a public confidence would be engendered in these forecasts and warnings, which would insure their being regarded and thus valuable lives and property, now needlessly risked, and often lost, might be saved.
That quotation evidences that at least in the opinion of the Sydney Daily Telegraph the Meteorological Department is greatly hampered in its operations, and that great obstacles are placed in the way of distributing very valuable news in regard to the weather to those who stand most in need of it. Regarding the necessity which exists for taking action, honorable senators will doubtless recollect that the VicePresident of the Executive ‘Council to-day stated that the Meteorological Department has a means of disseminating the intelligence in its possession regarding the weather. I find that that news is limited to 314 stations throughout the Commonwealth. It is despatched to eighty-five centres in New South Wales, to twenty-eight in Victoria, to thirty-five in Queensland, to 150 in South Australia, to thirteen in Western Australia, and to three in Tasmania . From this list it would certainly seem; that there is something radically wrong with the management of our Postal Department in the different States. The fact that information as to the weather is transmitted to 150 points in South Australia, whereas it is forwarded to only thirteen centres in Western Australia calls for some explanation. Tasmania is in a very much worse position.
– The same condition of things obtained in Western Australia prior to Federation.
– I do not care what occurred prior to Federation. I am,- concerned only with what is occurring now. There must be something radically wrong with the Postal Department in the matter of the facilities which it offers for . the dissemination of this important information.
– It is probably governed by the number of stations which have been established from which information is sent to the Bureau in the first instance.
– That may be so. At any rate, there is great room for improvement. Compare what is being done in Australia with what is being done in the United States, and how poor do our efforts in this direction seem. In the United States in 1905 the warnings issued at Government expense by the Meteorological Department were as follow : - Forecasts and special warnings, 2,158; special warnings, 973; emergency warnings, 6,152; or a total of 9,283.. But these figures do not represent all that is being done in this connexion. Another method adopted for distributing the intelligence gained by the Weather Bureau is that of voluntary effort. The messages disseminated by this means far outnumber those which are transmitted at the expense of the Government. I suggest that we might with advantage copy the example of the United States in this connexion by the Postal Department undertaking to disseminate information gained from the Meteorological Department over a far larger area than it has hitherto done. In America during 1905 no less than 77,774 messages relating to the weather were distributed by mail, 75,602 by rural delivery, 464,738 by telephone, 2,443 by railway telegraph, and 2,423 by train service. So that the total warnings issued by the Meteorological Department in the United States during that year numbered 9,283 at Government expense, as against 622,980 by voluntary effort. I recognise that a great improvement might be effected in existing conditions by the free use of the telephone. The reply given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon shows that the regulations prevent the use of the telephone for the distribution of meteorological information, whereas in America that instrument was in one year . responsible for the distribution of 464,738 messages free of charge. Why cannot the same system be adopted here? Similarly our rural carriers of mails might well be called upon to distribute weather warnings throughout the districts embraced within their circuits. In the United States no less than 75,602 warnings were distributed by this means during 1905.
– But the weather is more uncertain there.
– That is quite true. Nevertheless, the same need exists for such warnings being given here.
– Do the private telephone companies of America issue these warnings ?
– Yes. They -do so free of cost. Seeing that the telephone and the mail-carriers are there used so largely to convey this vital intelligence to the people, I want to know why a similar system cannot be adopted here? I have no need to invite the sympathy of honorable senators for ihose who are resident in the outlying portions of Australia,- and whose entire savings may depend upon a knowledge of the weather conditions which are likely to prevail during the next twenty four hours. The States, too, might be asked to co-operate with the Commonwealth in this matter by making use of the railway telegraphs, and also by exhibiting flags upon the trains as they pass through the country. In America the trains carry flags to indicate the state of ihe weather, and thus settlers along the lines are placed in . possession of! information of great value to them. But before we can ask the States to assist us in this matter we must assist ourselves. ; My motion seeks to insure that those who are beyond the range of the telegraph shall have the advantage of the telephone and mailcarrier, and shall at least receive some of the benefit which is bestowed upon persons who are resident in large centres.
– I think Senator Lynch may be fairly congratulated upon the comprehensive and all-embracing terms of his motion. It is fairly entitled to be called a wholesale order. I invite the attention of the Senate to some of the propositions - of which there are several - which it seeks to’ lay down.
– There is a fusion of proposals.
– But not altogether a happy or a practicable fusion. The motion states -
That, in view of the ineffective means employed for disseminating the forecasts of the Meteorological Department-
That is a very large assumption, and one which reflects upon the Meteorological Department in the first place. Is the Senate prepared to brand as ineffective the means which are employed by that Department for disseminating its forecasts?
– I stated in the course of my speech that the Meteorological Department is not responsible for the employment of those ineffective means.
– No other Department can be held responsible. The Ministry might be responsible, but it cannot be said that the Department is responsible because the information is riot disseminated over a wider area unless it can be shown that it has been specifically charged with that duty and has failed to perform it.
– Lower down the motion proposes “ that the Post and Telegraph Department should be modernized without delay.”
– May I ask what is meant by those words?
– Not fossilizing the Department, anyway.
– To modernize the Post and Telegraph Department might mean anything from the installation of wireless- telegraphy in connexion with every home to the, comparatively speaking, more modest proposal of the honorable senator. He has employed comprehensive terms in his motion. Let me take the phrase “ for reaching the isolated seamen:” How does my honorable friend propose to reach an isolated seaman? The very fact that a seaman is isolated means that he cannot be reached by the Telegraph Department.
– Did I not explain about the seaman being in charge of his own craft in the Bay?
– The Post and Telegraph Department cannot do what the mo tion proposes, which is to carry meteorological information to persons distantly situated. Nothing which could be done by the Post and Telegraph or any other Department could accomplish that.
– Evidently the honorable senator was not listening to my statement of what was done in the United States.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. No one in the United States has claimed that as regards the conveyance of this information the Department has ever been able to place persons distantly situated on the same footing as those more conveniently located. If the honorable senator means by his motion that the Post and Telegraph Department might make better use of its opportunities than it does that would be one thing, but he is asking the Senate to say that the Department should go to the extreme extent of carrying this information to isolated seamen, and remote settlers, in fact that it should place those persons in the same position as persons more conveniently situated. It is absolutely impossible to do that for two reasons; first because the Telephone Department would break down with the strain of the work, and secondly because of the cost which would be involved to the people of the Commonwealth. If the honorable senator means by his motion that greater use should be made of the Department # for disseminating news that is one proposition, but it is entirely different from that which he has submitted, namely, that wherever there is an isolated settler, no matter at what cost or under what circumstances, he should be supplied with meteorological information. Are we prepared to do that? Let us take the telephones to which the honorable senator has referred. Does he mean that every morning the Telephone Department is to forward to every subscriber in Australia a weather forecast?
– If a forecast is obtainable at the nearest station.
– Does my honorable friend wish every telephone subscriber in Australia to be rung up in the morning and supplied with the weather forecast?
– I ask my honorable friend to be practical and when he speaks of using the telephones to say what telephones he wants used.
– There is a vast difference between doing what I suggest and disallowing the use of telephones.
– I wish to show my honorable friend the difficulty of carrying out his proposition. He has laid it down that the telephones ought to be used for the purpose of disseminating this news, and I ask him to say what telephones ought to be used in that way - all or some?
– The telephones which are under the control of the Department.
– Then we shall be in this position, that every morning persons will be rung up and have, forced upon them ;i weather forecast which they do not want. The terms which my honorable friend has used are too comprehensive. If he had merely proposed that where there are no telegraph stations public telephone stations might for the purpose of weather forecasts be made use of, that would have been a proposition to which I would have felt inclined to assent. But to suggest that all telephone subscribers are to have forced upon them weather forecasts is to suggest something which is utterly impracticable. As it is our telephone system is pretty heavily charged. A great many persons allege that the Department is not able to grapple with the volume of business with which it is called upon to deal. I do not know what is going to happen if in addition every subscriber is to have sent along his wire a message telling him news about weather which does not concern him.
– The honorable senator appears to be perfectly satisfied with the existing arrangement.
– If my honorable friend’s motion was intended not to be interpreted literally, but as the expression of a wish that the Post and Telegraph Department might be used to a greater extent for the purpose of disseminating this information, I should have been inclined to subscribe to it. But he asks for a great deal more than that. He asks the Dement to do things which, at the present moment, are absolutely impossible. From the Secretary to the Department I have obtained a memorandum regarding the motion. He writes -
The telegraph lines of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are not sufficient to carry the ordinary business without delay, and it is impossible for the Department under existing circumstances, to provide means for conveying to isolated persons or places immediate intelligence with respect to changes in the weather.
The meteorological information and forecasts now transmitted interfere materially with the transmission of public messages over the lines of the Department, and to increase the number of lines and telegraphists sufficiently to enable effect to be given to the motion would of course involve a largely-increased expenditure.
In view of that fact, however desirous it may be to place weather and every other species of useful information at the door of everybody in Australia, there is a limit beyond which it is not possible for the Department to go. There are many things which are desirable; there are many things which Senator Lynch would like ; there are many things which I would like ; but it is not possible or profitable to get them. What my honorable friend proposes is one of those things. Nothing which we can do can place a settler who is living out back, it may be 15 or 20 miles from a telephone or telegraph station, on an equality with a man who happens to be living within the precincts of a town possessing both those advantages. If Senator Lynch desires to spread this news over as wide a radius as is possible, I sympathize with him. I would suggest to him that after this discussion he might withdraw the motion, and allow me to bring under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, who controls the Meteorological Department, and of the Postmaster-General, the question as to whether or not a simple scheme cannot be devised for adding to the facilities already afforded to the public in relation to this matter.
– The honorable senator, has not referred to the possibility of utilizing mail-carriers.
– I am glad that my honorable friend mentioned the mailcarriers, but I am rather surprised that he did. Of what use are the mail -carriers in the out-back districts going to be? Long before a mail-carrier could get through a storm would have tied up his mail. My experience of the back-country mailman is that he travels at the rate of 5 or 5^ miles an hour. Now, any decent, self-respecting Australian storm will give that man a few hours’ start, and beat him easily before sundown.
– If the honorable senator’s argument is sound, why do the. Americans, distribute no less than 150,000 messages every year by mail -carriers ?
– The conditions of America are entirely different from those in Australia. Throughout America there are thousands of small settlements to which it is possible to transmit weather messages by the various means referred to by my honorable friend, but he has to bear in mind the cost per head of the population.
– The report states that no cost in involved.
– Nothing is done without cost to some one. I gathered from my honorable friend’s remarks that in America private railways undertake the transmission of this news. The mere fact that it is not charged for does not show that it involves no cost. We are not at the present moment in the position of America. My honorable friend must recognise that, on the whole, the people of Australia are a more scattered community than are the people of the United States. He shakes his head, but that fact is easily to be seen by comparing the acreage and population of the two countries. I have every sympathy, I repeat, with my honorable friend if his desire is simply to obtain an expression of opinion that we should, as far as possible, increase the facilities afforded by the Post Office for spreading this information. But when he asks me to subscribe to such a wide motion as this, he asks me to do more than I can do, even with the most sincere desire in the world to assist those in the interior districts, who certainly have some claim upon our sympathy in this regard.
– I have always felt that the Post and Telegraph Department was a good deal lacking in that broad, human sympathy which it might have with the affairs of Australia. I have had some personal experience in this matter. When, some few years ago, a considerable part of New South Wales was devastated by bush fires, we were in daily dread of receiving news of some new district being devastated. I suggested to the Secretary of the Post and Telegraph Department that some system might be arranged for sending news tosurrounding districts when a fire broke out, but his reply was very decisive ; it was tothe effect that no messages could be sent unless they were first paid for. I thought, that was dealing in a very poor spirit with a big subject. No doubt honorable senators will remember that our meteorological service had to be fought for. Soon after the Post and Telegraph Department was transferred - I think that Senator Drake was Postmaster-General at the time - it was proposed that no meteorological news should be sent anywhere except onpayment, and quite a public agitation had to be got up in order to obtain even the service that exists to-day. I have great sympathy with the suggestions of Senator Lynch. At the same time I think we must all recognise that his motion goes a little too far. I suggest that he should accept either the proposal of the Vice-President of the Executive Council or the following amendment, which I now move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ it is desirable that the Post and Telegraph Department should extend the areas in which the forecasts of the Meteorological Department are distributed.”
That does not cover by any means all that the honorable senator proposes in his motion. But it seems to me that it might be more suitable to present possibilities.
– How is the extra work to be paid for?
– That work will be done as fast as it can be done, consistently with a reasonable expenditure.
– The honorable senator is now getting on to a dangerous path - the Socialistic path.
– I am not afraid of any charge of Socialism. I am as good a Socialist as there is in the chamber, if this service can be called Socialism.
– On a point of order, sir, is not the amendment practically the same as the motion?
– I do not think that it is the same as the motion, because whereas Senator Lynch desires a large extension, Senator Pulsford desires an extension which may be small or large.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) (8.43]. - I desire to correct the Minister’s statement that the first part of my motion is a reflection upon the Meteorological Department. It is nothing of the kind. At the beginning of my speech I took care to say that I had every reason to be satisfied with the Department, but its work does not stop at the making of forecasts or the getting of news as to weather conditions in different places. Its work takes in the field of meteorology generally, but does not include the sending of messages throughout the “Commonwealth. It is with the inadequate dissemination of meteorological intelligence that I find fault.
– The greater . includes the less.
– The Meteorological Department cannot possibly be responsible, if the Post and Telegraph Department is so obstinate as to withhold the means for distributing the intelligence. If the Minister is right, it simply means that the Meteorological Department is in charge of the Post and Telegraph Department, but as a matter of fact the two Departments are administered quite separately. I do not expect that the motion, if carried, will be observed literally by the Government. The Minister made a lot of capital out of a few concluding words in my motion, but I was careful to point out that it was impossible to extend the same facilities to the distant settlers as to the persons close to centres of population. It was never ‘suggested by me or contemplated by the motion, that special messages should be sent to every person, no matter where he happened to be. As regards the amendment, I think that it is altogether too mild. I believe that the Senate should express the opinion that the Post and Telegraph Department should exert itself in the matter of conveying meteorological intelligence, which is so necessary and vital to the prosperity of a large number of persons in the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable senator explain how the cost of this propose’d extension is to be met?
– I am relying entirely upon what is being done in the United States. I am suggesting a double means for the distribution of the forecasts of the Meteorological Department - the telephone and the rural mail-carrier.
– The honorable senator is aware that the telephone is in private hands in the United States. Who pays for information distributed in that way ?
– I suppose the private users of the telephone. Dealing ‘with this matter only from the point of view of the Treasury, I say that what I propose would not cost the P’ederal Treasure: an additional farthing.. The VicePresident of the Executive Council referred to the United States this afternoon, and if he was justified in quoting what hasbeen done in that country in support of the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau, there should be no objection to my quoting what has been done in the United States in connexion with the means adopted for the distribution of weather forecasts.
– I do not object to the honorable senator drawing the parallel.
– The honorable senator criticised my parallel, but expected that his own would be accepted without question. I have here the latest report of the Weather Department of the United States, in which it is clearly stated that the services of mail carriers, rural mail carriers, and the telephone are used free of charge for the distribution of this kind of intelligence throughout the United States. ] ask why we should not do the same here. It is merely a question of asking people to do this work and having it done.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the Post and Telegraph Department undertakes a financial responsibility of£40,000 a year in connexion with this work at the present time?
– Senator de Largie is no doubt in a position to know that that is so, but I was not aware of the fact. -It must be borne in mind that the cost of the distribution of this information by the means which I have suggested is borne in the United States by the United States Treasurer, and it would not cost the Federal Treasurer a cent to give effect to what I propose. I ask honorable senators who desire that this kind of information should reach the distant settler, seaman, and fisherman, to vote for the motion in the form in which I have submitted it.
Original question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.55]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In asking the Senate to assent to the second reading of this measure, I point out, in the first instance, that if ever Australia is to contain a consolidated people, the administration of its criminal laws should have the same elements of agreement as has the administration of its civil laws. While the Constitution provides for equality of action in respect of appeals in civil cases, there is probably in the whole world nocommunity in which there is such a. wide divergence in connexion with the higher administration of the criminal law as is to be found in Australia. It is for this reason I venture to ask’ consideration of the question of amending, or rather extending the Constitution by the addition of a sub-section to section 73, which, as honorable senators are aware, regulates the question of all High Court appeals. Honorable senators will remember that, some two years ago, I introduced a measure seeking the adoption in the Commonwealth of the provisions of a Bill, providing for a Court of Criminal Appeal, which was at that time before the British Parliament. I may be challenged that I have done nothing in this matter for some length of time, and that I have apparently dropped the subject. Let me say that I becameacquainted with the judgment of the High Court in the case Musgrove v. McDonald. Not being a lawyer, I do not profess to be au fait with all the cases that come on in the Law Courts, and I overlooked thisjudgment which, I believe, was given before I introduced the Bill two years ago.
We think that the fair result of all these cases is, that it was the settled rule of the Judicial Committee, that an appeal did not lie to the Sovereign-in-Council, from the verdict of a jury, or from a judgment of the Court founded upon it unless there had been a previous application to the Supreme Court for a new trial, and we think that the provisions of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, conferring appellate jurisdiction upon the High Court should be read in the light of this rule, and that if they are so read, an application for a new trial after verdict, upon whatever ground, does not fall within the words “ appeals from all judgments decrees orders and sentences” of Federal Courts or Supreme Courts.
A Court of Criminal Appeal shall be constituted with such powers and subject to such regulations as shall be prescribed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth providing for the hearing and determination of appeals from any Court of a State exercising criminal jurisdiction whereby a conviction or sentence is recorded on any indictment presentment information or inquisition in any case, whether involving fact or law or involving any questions necessary to be determined for the purpose of doing justice in. any case.
The Bill is a literal transcript of the Act passed by the Parliament of the United King dom in 1907, with such verbal alterations at are necessary to meet Australian conditions.
Annexure No. 2 contains an epitome ofthe laws governing appeals in criminal cases in the different States of the Commonwealth. But perhaps it would be more convenient if I now dealt with the divergence which exists between the laws of the different States.
– Order !
– The honorable senator should not make personal reflections.
– I would point out to Senator Neild that it is not in order to refer to the occupation or profession of any honorable senator.
– There is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I am very well aware of the rule to which you, sir, have called my attention. It is one that has some strange applications, because, whilst it is not in order to refer to an honorable senator’s profession, the fact of the legal member being customarily addressed as “learned” sufficiently indicates his profession. However, I shall obey your ruling and the rule of Parliament. Not only are the laws of the States in respect of criminal appeals extremely divergent, but some of them are extremely antiquated. They date back even to thirty-three years ago. Will it be believed that in these times of progress, of legal reform and efforts to benefit all classes by legislative enactment, there is in one State no law regulating any matter connected with criminal appeals which is not thirtythree years old? In New South Wales the Crimes Act of 1900, section 428, provides -
– I would again call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– The remaining sub-sections of the section which I was quoting read -
Section 470 of the Act reads -
The Judge by whom any question of law is reserved under the provisions of this Act shall, as soon as practicable, state a case setting forth the same, with the facts and circumstances out of which such question arose, and shall transmit such case to the Judges of the Supreme Court, who shall determine the question, and may affirm, amend, or reverse the decision given, or avoid or arrest the same, or mayorder an entry to be made on the record that the person convicted ought not to have been convicted, or may make such other order as justice requires.
Provided that no conviction, or judgment thereon, shall be reversed, arrested, or avoided, on any case so stated, unless for some substantial wrong, or other miscarriage of justice.
Section 475 is the only provision in Australian law which, admits of an appeal or reconsideration of facts in connexion with convictions. It reads -
Whenever, after the conviction of a prisoner, any doubt or question arises as to his guilt or any mitigating circumstance in the case or any portion of the evidence therein, the Governor, on the petition of the prisoner, or some person on his behalf, representing such doubt or question, or a Judge of the Supreme Court of his own motion, may direct any Justice to, and such Justice may, summon and examine on oath all persons likely to give material information on the matter suggested.
Now I would ask the attention of honorable senators to the’ fact that under that section there is no right to a re-hearing. The matter rests with the Governor in the exercise of his discretion, and we all know that in criminal matters Australian Governors act only upon the advice of their responsible Ministers. Therefore, there is no possibility of a legal appeal - no right to a re-hearing. But the Government of the day may - not in open Court with all the world to hear, but in the Cabinet room with the door locked - authorize an inquiry into the conviction of any person. By whom? Not at the hands of the High Court Bench, or of the Supreme Court Bench, or of a Judge of the status of the individual who tried the case, but at the hands of a justice of the peace. Senator St. Ledger has stated that my Bill provides for the consideration of appeals from the convictions of magistrates. I shall discuss that question later on. . The only method provided by any State for doing justice in the case of a mistaken verdict is that which is provided by New South Wales, and there the inquiry is supposed to be conducted by an ordinary unpaid magistrate. I do not know that any such inquiry has been conducted in that State by a member of the unpaid magistracy. The plan which is usually adopted is to appoint a District Court Judge - whose position is analogous to that of a Judge of the County Court in Victoria - a magistrate to investigate the matter. He undertakes the task, not as a barrister, not as a Judge, but simply in the capacity of an unpaid magistrate.
– I never heard before of an appeal to a lower Court.
– It is not an appeal, but a reference.
– Has there ever been any case under the provision ?
– Yes, plenty of cases. Persons who have been condemned to death have had their cases remitted to a District Court Judge in his capacity as a magistrate, and he has held an investigation. In New South Wales several persons who have been condemned to death have been set at liberty as the result of the second inquiry.
– Does the Court set the man at liberty or report to the Minister ?
– The release of the man is recommended by the Cabinet. My honorable friend will agree with me that whatever advantages may cling to the administration of the law by a member of the magistracy, it would be better to have such matters investigated in open Court by the highest judicial authorities available, and that is practically what I am asking for.
– That is open to th, objection that the Full Court of every State will have to be passed over.
– We cannot make the Full Court of every State hear appeals because we have no jurisdiction.
– I know that ; but it is a great objection.
– It may be an objection, but if the State Governments, will not act in the matter that is no reason why we, Achilles like, should sulk in our tents and wait for action which In some instances evidently is not forthcoming.
– Then these criminal appeals will have to stand over for a long time, in fact, until the High Co<7” goes to the State.
– In england the Court has to sit in London. I have sought to provide that the Criminal Court of Appeal shall sit at the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, or, as in the case of the British law, at any place which the Chief Justice may appoint. That would, of course, serve ihe convenience of the Judges in the discharge of their important duties. Coming to . Victoria, the Crimes Act of 1890 contains this provision. -
If on the trial of any person convicted of any indictable offence in or before any court of criminal jurisdiction any question of difficulty in point of law shall have arisen, it shall be lawful for the Court in its discretion to reserve such question of law for the consideration of the Judges of the Supreme Court;
That is exactly in accordance with the law of Great Britain prior to the passing of the Criminal Appeals Act two years ago - and in any such case to respite the execution of the judgment on such conviction or postpone the judgment until such question of law shall have been considered and determined ; and in either case the Court in its discretion shall commit the person convicted to prison; or shall take a recognisance of bail with one or more sufficient surety or sureties and in such sum as the Court shall think fit conditioned to appear at such time or times and place as the Court shall direct and receive judgment, or to render himself in execution, as the case may be.
There is also a provision that if the Judge who tried the cases refuses to grant a reference to the Supreme Court, the prisoner may apply to the Attorney-General foran order directing him so to do.. I do not think it is necessary to stretch our imaginative powers much to see the futility of a method by which an unfortunate creature, confined within four stone walls, and convicted of some offence, applies for a mandamus directing the Attorney General to compel a hearing of his appeal by the Supreme Court. I cannot conceive of the possibility of such a process being effective, except in very rare instances. Section 485 has this provision - and the Full Court may make the same absolute or discharge it with or without costs as it may think proper; and the Judge upon being served with any such rule or order absolute shall reserve such question of law accordingly for the opinion of the Full Court; and . thereupon the procedure defined by the four preceding sections shall become applicable as if such Judge had consented to reserve such question of law on the trial.
In Queensland the law is more liberal than it is in Victoria. The same provisions, however, are to be found in the Criminal Code Act of 1899. Section 668 has this provision - :
When any person is indicted for any indictable offence, the Court before which he is tried must, on the application of counsel for the accused person made before verdict, and may in its discretion, either before or after judgment, without any such application, reserve any question of law which arises on the trial for the consideration of the Supreme Court.
Distinctly, Queensland’s law is more liberal than Victoria’s.
– The Queensland Act gives both the counsel and the Court the right.
– Yes. but onlv on questions of law. while the English Act permits appeals on questions of fact, just as questions of fact are made the grounds of appeal in civil cases. The Queensland Act also contains a provision about putting a man in gaol pending a decision or admitting him to bail with or without sureties.
The presiding Judge is thereupon required to state, in a case signed by him, the question of law so reserved, with the special circumstances upon which it arose ; and the case is” to be transmitted to “the Supreme Court at Brisbane.
The English Act provides, as I have already stated for the hearing of a case in London, or wherever the Chief Justice may appoint. That is a proposal which I hope to live long enough to submit for the consideration of this Parliament. Section 669 of the Queensland Act deals with methods only, but section 671 contains this provision -
A conviction cannot be set aside upon the ground of the improper admission of evidence if it appears to the Court that the evidence was merely of a formal character and not material, nor upon the ground of the improper admission of evidence adduced for the defence.
A provision, if not in those exact words, at least in similar terms, is to be found in the English Act of1 90 7. South Australia is a State which unhappily has the most antiquated provisions. The Criminal Law Consolidation Act is dated 1876, and section 397 reads -
If upon the trial of any person convicted of treason, felony, or misdemeanour before any Judge of the Supreme Court or Court of Oyer and Terminer or Gaol Delivery, or before any Justice or Justices of the Peace or other Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, any question of difficulty in point of law shall have arisen, it shall be lawful for such Judge, Court, or Justices in its discretion, to reserve such question of law for the consideration and determination of the Judges of the Supreme Court, and in any such case to respite execution of the judgment on such conviction, or postpone the judgment until such question, of law shall have been considered and decided; and such case shall be stated by such Court, Judge, or Justices if the Supreme Court shall upon motion make a Rule or Order for that purpose, which Rule or Order the Supreme Court is hereby authorized to make.
There is a provision about committing the man to gaol or allowing him at liberty on a recognisance. Western Australia is entitled to a good deal of favorable comment, upon having in its Criminal Code Amendment Act of 1906 followed very closely the law of Queensland; so closely indeed was that done that it does not seem to me that I need trouble the Senate with quotations. I will merely point out that again it is in the discretion of the Judge as to whether there shall be an appeal, even on questions of law.
– On questions of law ?
– Yes, there is 1.0 appeal on questions of fact. Western Australia, like Queensland, is more liberal than most of the States in that an application for the consideration of any point of law may be made after judgment. If an application was refused by the Judge before the verdict was given an appeal may be made to the Full Court to set aside his refusal. ‘ In these circumstances the. Full Court would consider the case. The Act contains a provision with regard to the appellant remaining in gaol while his case is being heard, or being let out on a recognisance. In Tasmania the Criminal Law Procedure Act of 1881 - twenty-eight years ago ! - contains this provision -
If on the trial of any person convicted of any indictable offence in or before any Court of Criminal Jurisdiction any question of difficulty in point of law shall have arisen, it shall be lawful for such Court in its discretion to reserve such question of law for the consideration and determination of the Judges of, the Supreme Court, and in any such case to respite the execution of the judgment on such conviction, or postpone the judgment until such question of law shall have been considered^ and determined; and in either case the Court in its discretion shall commit the person convicted to gaol, or shall take a recognizance of bail, with one or more sufficient surety or sureties and in such sum as the Court shall think fit, conditioned to appear at such time or ‘times and place as the Court shall direct, and receive judgment, ‘or to render himself in execution, as the case may be.
I have not gone into these provisions very fully, because every honorable senator will find a copy of them on his file. That will save a good deal of trouble, because it is not an easy matter to get this information together. It will also, I hope, save a good deal of unnecessary statement regarding the laws of the different States. I know from past experience that some honorable senators, relying on their memories, have occupied the time of the Chamber in stating not quite accurately the provisions of State laws. But as every honorable senator has now a copy of the provisions of the State laws it will always be easy for him to turn up the details. The citation of the number of the sections of the Acts will enable him to see whether anything of importance has been omitted by me in the epitome. With regard to such phrases as indictment, presentment, information, or inquisition, I propose to quote some extracts from the highest legal authorities of the Empire as to the meaning of those phrases. That will perhaps be the means of saving time.
– Mr. President, there is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I rise to a point of order, sir. I have been looking up May, and I find that it is within the power of the Speaker of the House of Commons to refuse to continually count the House at the request of a member. At page 231 of ‘ the eleventh edition May says -
The Speaker has declined to count the House again, when he had recently satisfied himself regarding the presence of 40 members. Nor would he count the House after a question has been put from the Chair as the division will prove the numBer of members present.
In- the Legislative Assembly of Queensland it has been the’ practice for the Speaker to use the power which is apparently conveyed to the presiding officer and to refuse to make a count when his attention was again and again, apparently for frivolous reasons,, drawn to the state of the House if the actual number required was either present or standing in the corridors. According to May the power taken by the Speaker of the House of Commons has been exercised very frequently. I ask you, sir, as a point of order whether you cannot exercise the power which appears to lie within the province of the Speaker of the House of Com - . mons?
– The question which (Ke honorable senator has raised ib hardly so much a point of order as a point of practice. It is an important and interesting point, and it is just as well that it has been raised. In the House of Commons, according to May, at page 231 -
The Speaker has declined to count the House again when he had recently satisfied himself regarding the presence of 40 members.
Forty members constitute the quorum of that House. I find that on the 24th July, 1877, when there was a debate taking place on the South Africa Bill in the House of Commons, and Mr. O’Donnell was speaking -
Mr. Biggar moved that the House be counted.
That is the way in which attention is directed to the want of a quorum there.
Notice taken, that forty members were not present; House counted, and forty members being found present-
Mr. ODONNELL resumed, having spoken less than fifteen minutes, amid the marked impatience of the House, which was again reduced to a few members, saying that his position reminded him of the story of Dean Swift and his sexton, when-
Mr. SPEAKER called the honorable member to order, directing him to confine himself to the question before the House.
Mr. O’Donnell. said he thought he was confining himself to the question, and was apparently proceeding to comment upon the several clauses of the Bill, when-
Mr. SPEAKER again called the honorable member to order. He was not at liberty to comment upon the clauses of the Bill upon the motion for going into Committee on the Bill.
Mr. O’Donnell again resumed, begging to assure the Speaker that he had misunderstood his remarks and proceeded to argue that, whereas the South African colonies had progressed without confederation, the condition of Ireland had deteriorated in consequence of the loss of a separate Parliament, and he very much doubted accordingly . whether a pure zeal for local prosperity was at the bottom of the Government measure, when-
Major Gorman again moved that the House be counted.
Mr. SPEAKER, however, immediately said that 40 members were present, and that it was unnecessary to count.
It is not clearly indicated whether forty members were present then or whether at the previous count the Speaker found forty members present. Again, on the 25th February, 1887, when the business of the House was being debated by Mr. P. J. Power -
Notice taken that 40 members were not present; House counted, and 40 members being found present-
Mr. P. J. Power resumed for a short time and notice was again taken that forty members were not present. The House was counted and forty members being found present, Mr. O’Connor rose to support the amendment. He had not spoken for long before Mr. O’Hanlon said -
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that the House be counted.
Then the Speaker made a very important short statement to which I direct the attention of honorable senators. He said -
In the exercise of the discretion vested in me, I shall decline to count the House. I have recently satisfied myself that there is a quorum of the House present.
So that, from that precedent it is perfectly clear that the Speaker of the House of Commons - and here the President is endowed with similar powers to those possessed by the Speaker of that House - has the power to decline to count the House if he thinks fit. I presume that the Speaker of the House of Commons would decline to count the House only when he believed that attention was being called to the want of a quorum for the purpose not so much of insuring the attendance of honorable members in the Chamber, as to cause obstruction, or, possibly to get rid of a measure under discussion at the time, if by any chance the full number of members required to form a quorum could not be induced to attend. It should, however, be noticed that in our Constitution we have a provision with regard to the number of senators who shall be present in order to form a quorum.
– We cannot get over that.
– There is no getting over that lot.
– Perhaps honorable senators will allow me to finish. I am endeavouring to put the position as fairly as I can.
– There is no question about it.
– Section 22 of the Constitution provides that -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the senators shall be necessarytoconstitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.
So that we are not in a position to declare by a standing order that any greater or lesser number of members shall form a quorum. Any alteration must be the work of the Parliament, that is to say of both Houses. A similar provision is contained in the Constitution with regard to the quorum necessary in the House of Representatives. As to the way in which the fixing of a quorum has been determined in the British House of Commons, I quote the following from May -
On 5th January, 1640, “ Forty maketh House of Commons.” Gaudy’s Notes of the Long Parliament. “ Awhile we had a less number present (in the Grand Committee on subsidies) than forty, which we account by the orders of the House, to be the least number present at a Grand Committee.” From an -entry 20th April, 1607, it would appear that sixty was not then a sufficient number. A motion was made by Mr. Pierrepoint, 18th March, 1801, being the first Parliament of the United Kingdom. “ That Mr. Speaker do not take the chair until at least sixty members are present in the House,” but negatived. In both Houses of Congress and the greater part of the State Legislatures of the United States a majority of the House forms a quorum. This rule, which dates from the year 1640, is only one ofusage, and may be altered at pleasure.
May goes on to say -
The rule was suspended by order of the House, 1st March, 1793, for the purpose of receiving messages from the Lords relating to proceedings on the trial of Warren Hastings, and such messages were received when even one member only was present.
So that it would appear that the number required to form a quorum of the House of Commons is purely a matter of usage. It could be dealt with by a standing order, or by any order of the House. In our case, it is not possible for the Senate to alter the number required to form a quorum. That must be done, if done at all, by the Parliament. It will therefore be seen that our position with respect to the number required to form a quorum is much more clearly defined than is that of the House of Commons. Although I am not prepared to say that the President could not exercise his discretion in certion very urgent circumstances, I do not at the present moment feel that I should be justified in declining to count the Senate when an honorable senator calls my attention to the fact that a quorum is not present.
– I was attempting to put before honorable senators some statement of the meaning of four terms to be found in the measure now under consideration - “ indictment,” “ presentment,” “ information,” and “ inquisition,” I think that I shall have no difficulty whatever in showing that the term “ indictment “ does not, as one honorable senator has asserted, involve a Police Court conviction -
Lambard says, an indictment is an accusation at the SUiT of the King by the oaths of twelve men of the same county wherein the offence was committed,-
Honorable senators are aware that we have not the Grand Jury system in Australia.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– In Australia the Crown law officers, the AttorneyGeneral, or the Solicitor-General, take the place of the Grand Jury in the United Kingdom; and, therefore, in reading this statement as to what an indictment means, it is necessary to ask honorable senators to regard the twelve men under the English law as being represented here by the Crown law officers I have referred to. To continue the quotation - and returned to inquire of all offences in general in the county, determinable by the Court into which they are returned, and their finding a bill brought before them to be true; but when such accusation is found by a grand jury without any bill brought before them, and afterwards reduced to a formed indictment, it is called a presentment.
That is another of the terms used in the Bill-
And when it is found by jurors returned to inquire of that particular offence only which is indicted, it is properly called an inquisition. - Lamb, lib. 4, cap 5.
– I call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– It will therefore be seen that an indictment, according to the form in which it is produced, covers also the terms “presentment,” and “inquisition,” the one process, with slight variations, being known by these three terms.
By Poulton, an indictment is an inquisition, taken and made by twelve men, at the least, thereunto sworn, whereby they find and present, that such a person of such a place in such a county, and of such a degree, have committed such a treason, felony, trespass, or other offence, against the peace of the King, his Crown and dignity. Palt. 169. An indictment according to Lord Chief Justice Hale is only a plain, Brief and certain narrative of an offence, committed by any person and of those necessary circumstances that concur to ascertain the fact and its nature. 2. Hale’s Hist. P.C. 168, 169.
A further quotation of three lines may be made -
An indictment seems to be thus shortly well defined : “ A written accusation of one or more persons, of a crime or a misdemeanour preferred to, and presented on oath by a grand jury.” 4. Comm. 302.
There is nothing whatever in all these definitions which makes the slightest reference to Police Court procedure. In the quotation I am about to make the word “ Commonwealth,” of course, does not mean the Australian Commonwealth -
Indictments are for the benefit of the Commonwealth and the public good, and to be preferred” for criminal not civil matters, they may be of high treason, felony, trespass, and in all sorts of pleas of the Crown, but not of injuries of private nature, which do not concern the King or the public. CO. Lit. 126, 303, 4. Rep. 44.
I might make many further quotations, but I think that I have quoted sufficient to show that the terms “ indictment,” “ presentment,” “ information,” and “ inquisition “ refer to matters which have received the intervention of the grand jury, and have nothing whatever to do with Police Court matters. Here is a quotation which seems to me to be of some importance with reference to the term “presentment” -
In its more modern and now usual sense it signifies a denunciation of jurors or some officers, &c. (without any information) of an offence inquirable in the Court where it is’ presented. Lamb. Eiren Lib. 4. C. 5.
The quotation continues -
The presentment is drawn up in English by the jury, and differs from an indictment in that an indictment is drawn up at large, and brought engrossed to the grand jury to find, a Lill. AB R. 353….. An inquisition of offence is the act of a jury, summoned by the proper officer to inquire of matters rela’ting to the Crown upon evidence laid before them.
It is not a question of Police Court procedure.
– There is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I continue the quotation -
Some of these are in themselves convictions, and cannot afterwards be traversed or denied ; and therefore the inquest or jury ought to hear ail that can be alleged on both sides. Of this nature are all inquisitions of felo de se ; and formally of flight in persons accused of felony ; of deodands, and the like ; and presentment of petty officers in. the sheriff tourn or court-leet whereupon the presiding officer may set a fine. Other inquisitions may be afterwards traversed or examined; as particularly the coroner’s inquisitions of the death of a man, when he finds any one guilty of homicide; for in such cases the offender so presented must be arraigned upon this inquest, and may dispute the truth of it, which brings it to a kind of indictment.
Again, I point out that the statement that the terms of this Bill relate to appeals from Magistrates’ Courts is utterly wrong. I now come to the third term used in the Bill - “ information,” and I quote the following : -
An accusation or complaint exhibited against a person for some criminal offence, either immediately against the King or against a private person, which from its enormity or dangerous tendency the public good requires should be restrained and punished. It differs from an indictment principally in this, that an indictment is an accusation found by the oath of twelve men, whereas an information is only the allegation of the officer who exhibits it. 3. New Abr. 164.
Informations are of two sorts; first, those which are partly at the suit of the King, and partly at that of a subject; and secondly, such as are only in the name of the King. The former are usually brought upon penal statutes, which inflict a penalty upon conviction of the offender one part to the use of the King, and. another to the use of the informer, and are a sort of gut tarn actions, only carried on by a criminal instead of a civil process.
I have already cited several authorities as to the meaning of- the term “ inquisition,” and I shall now cite this short statement -
An inquisition of jurors, in causes civil and criminal, on proof made of the fact on either side, when it is referred to their trial, being impanelled by the sheriff for that purpose ; and as thev bring in their verdict, judgment passeth. Staundf. P. C. Lib. 3. C. la.
I make this quotation also -
For every jury which tries a man for treason or felony every coroner’s inquest that sits upon a felo de se or one killed by chance-medley, is not only with regard to chattels but also to real interests, in all respects an inquest of office.
From the many pages of authorities I have here I could show conclusively that the terms “indictment,” “presentment,” “information,” and “ inquisition,” as used in this Bill, do not in a single instance refer to matters arising in police courts. But the question at issue is a much larger one than that of bandying words with reference to legal technicalities. It is possible that in some places in Australia these terms have received a broader meaning than those attached to them by the highest legal authorities of the United Kingdom. It is possible, therefore, that legal members of the Senate may discover ground for opposing the high legal authorities I have cited, but that will not make those honorable senators any more correct. It does not seem to me needful that I should go clause by clause through the measure which I desire should eventually be passed by the Federal Parliament, but it is necessary, I think, when I ask for an amendment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, that I should offer a few words of explanation with reference to the subject itself. I propose to quote some of the opinions of England’s foremost lawyers in reference to this great reform. We know that what is now the Criminal Appeals Act of the United Kingdom was originally introduced into the Imperial Parliament by a Conservative Government. It was passed through the House of Lords, andhad a by no means unfavorable reception in the House of Commons. When that Government were displaced from office their successors took up the measure, and though I cannot recall the particular House into which it was reintroduced, I think that it was the House of Commons. At any rate, the Bill was passed through both Chambers almost without division, but with very full discussion. The divisions were few, but the discussion was ample. The Conservative, Liberal, and Radical members of the Imperial Parliament joined in placing on the statute-book of the United Kingdom a measure which affords the same amount of relief in connexion with life and liberty as is afforded by the Courts of the British Empire throughout its wide borders in respect of civil suits. I desire for a few moments to occupy the time of honorable senators in reading some extracts from a speech by Sir John Lawson Walton, K.C., the present Attorney-General. In introducing the measure he said -
I have to ask the leave of the House to introduce a Bill for the constitution of a Court of Criminal Appeal, and for extending the powers of our tribunals to review convictions on indictment for criminal offences. It is proposed to end a controversy which at recurrent intervals for sixty years has engaged the attention of Parliament. The settlement which I invite the House to adopt will create appellate rights against conviction of crime, similar to those which exist in relation to adverse verdicts in civil causes. Liberty will thus be put upon an equality with property -
I call attention to these words “Liberty will thus be put upon an equality with property,” and draw attention to the absence from the Chamber of the members of .the party which claims to represent the human interests of Australia - and the consequences of judicial miscarriage will receive in each case similar protection. The administration of our criminal law has attained its present “unsurpassed reputation in spite of defects of procedure which are irreconcilable with the acknowledged principles of all sound jurisprudence. Various mitigating causes have tended to obviate the defective operation of an imperfect system. The generous bias of our Courts towards the innocent until they have been shown to be guilty, the conscientious solicitude and high character of our Judges and the tempering jurisdiction of the Home Omeo have done much to accomplish this result. But justice has blundered. Innocent men have been convicted and the number of victims of judicial miscarriage during the last few years has not been inconsiderable.
Surely these are pregnant words, and I prefer the clear-cut, emphatic statement of the highest legal, though not judicial, authority of the Empire to any presentment of the case that I could make.
This question, owing to recent incidents and developments, has been forced to the front. The Royal Commission recently reported that the resources of the Home Office were neither adequate nor satisfactory. The admissibility of the evidence of an accused person in his own behalf, tainted as it often is by falsehood in regard to collateral matters, tending to prejudice a good case and to confuse the issues to be tried, makes the conduct of criminal trials more difficult. Public sympathy in recent striking instances has been aroused by the misfortunes of men who have been called upon to suffer that most terrible form of moral torture which confounds the innocent with the guilty, and condemns them to a common fate. An enterprising press has rushed in where jurists have feared to tread, and re-trial by newspaper threatens to take the place which ought to be occupied by the process of rehearing before a judicial tribunal. Last, but not least, the delicate and difficult duties of the Home Secretary have been discharged under the pressure of public agita tion, which has made calm and independent judgment well nigh impossible. These considerations have led the Government to the conclusion that the time for some change has arrived.
Last year a Bill was introduced by the Lord Chancellor and passed through the House of Lords, which will, I trust, ever associate his name honorably with this great change in our jurisprudence. The present measure differs in material respects from that which then passed through the other House. In its present form, I trust it will not meet with those hostile motions which threatened the introduction of its predecessor. I have given careful consideration to the criticisms, many of them most able and cogent, which have reached me from many quarters, and I trust that I shall be able to count former opponents of the measure among - its present friends. The Court will be constituted of seven Judges of the King’s Bench Division, selected and presided over by the Lord Chief Justice of England. They will be invited lo undertake the duties arising under this legislation in addition to the functions which they now discharge. The right of appeal in matters of law will be unqualified; in matters of fact it will take place with the leave of the Court of Appeal. This proposal revives an ancient procedure.
It is attended by this great advantage, that the Court will be able to prevent the abuse of its process by the erasing of unfounded and frivolous contentions. There will be no new trial. The scandals to justice, which must very often occur on the re-trial of a criminal cause, will not happen in consequence of the provisions of this measure, and the accused person will be spared an ordeal which is consequent upon no misconduct on his own part. The Court will have ample powers to get at the truth. They will be able, if necessary, to summon fresh evidence. When they have satisfied themselves, so far as they can, of the true merits of the case before them, it will be their duty to determine whether the conviction should stand, should be set aside, or should be modified, and whether the sentence which is challenged should remain as it was pronounced, or should be brought into harmony with principles of general application, by which the duration of the punishment is made to correspond with the gravity of the crime.
This is not a rich man’s Bill. It was said that the last measure possessed that character. It will not be said of this Bill. An official is appointed whose duty it will be to obtain the materials which it is necessary to place before the Court for the consideration of the petition of every appellant; and if professional assistance be required a solicitor and counsel wi’l be appointed to argue his case. This Bill differs from the last in one respect which will be appreciated bv my legal friends who are members of this House. The machinery will not be left to be framed by ex post facto regulations. .It is substantially embodied in the Bill itself, and the whole history- of the litigation may be reviewed from beginning to end.
The prerogative of the Crown will be unaffected, but the Secretary of State will have the inestimable advantage of being able to take the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeal upon any question upon which his advice to the Sovereign may depend. This is’ the measure which I would like the House to consider. It is a non-party Bill. I am sanguine enough to believe it will be non-contentious also. Notwithstanding, in my humble opinion, it yields to none in the order of its importance. It affects immediately and possibly for all time the administration of justice in that sphere of its operations in which it touches the defence of personal security, which is the absolute condition of individual happiness and welfare on the part of every member of the community throughout all classes of our population.
That is a concise and sufficient explanation of the Bill, which - by effecting a small alteration in our Constitution - I hope that this Parliament will be afforded’ an opportunity of considering and passing into law. In the speech which I have just quoted reference is made to the Secretary of State. In England all appeals for the exercise of the prerogative of mercy have to be addressed to the Minister of the Home Department, but as such appeals in Australia are addressed directly to the Governor-General, or to the Governors of States, the Bill before honorable senators contains provision for that necessary alteration. Lord Loreburn, G.C.M.G.,. K.C., and Lord Chancellor, when introducing the Criminal Appeals Bill in the House of Lords, said -
My Lords, this Bill deals with a subject which lias been a great deal canvassed for many years in this country, and which, I think, has partially divided the opinion of legal experts; but I do not think there is, or has been for a long time, any considerable section of opinion either at the bar or on the bench, that is not prepared for a measure going a considerable distance. Though I believe there is no country in the world where justice is more fearlessly and more effectively administered than it is in this country,, and while I yield to no one in my respect and admiration for the spirit in which the Criminal Courts are conducted, of which I have myself had some experience, yet it is beyond human nature to suppose that there is, or ever can be, without some opportunities for appeal, an entirely satisfactory condition of things. From time to time there have been, as, indeed, quite recently, instances of error, admittedly innocent error, on the part of the Courts, resulting in a great deal of hardship and suffering to individuals which have stirred the public mind. With that preface, for your Lordships are many of you familiar with the administration of criminal justice yourselves, I shall proceed to say a word or two on the subject of criminal appeals, and contrast them with the appeals allowed in Civil Courts. Let me take, in the first instance, the system of appeal which obtains in the Civil Courts of this country. In regard to civil procedure, the smallest cases tried, for example, in the County Courts, are subject to appeal upon matters of law, but they are not subject to appeal upon questions of fact ; and I must say that I have never seen any cause for complaining of the state of the law. It is to the interests of the public that litigation should be ended, and where the sum of money involved is small it does seem to me more desirable that” there should be some risk now and then of failure, than that there should be constant opportunity for appeal, and the waste of time and money which that would involve.
When you go from the smaller kind of civil case to the more important litigations, which are abundant in this country, you find that the facilities for appeal are enormous.
I submit that if those words are applicable to any part of the world, they are absolutely applicable to Australia.
A case may be tried by one of the greatest Judges of the day before a special jury. It may have lasted days, or indeed, as sometimes - but happily seldom - happens, it may have lasted even weeks; .but there is an appeal, not only as to law, but an appeal on every point of fact on which the jury have come to a determination - an appeal to the Court of Appeal, and then to your Lordships’ House. There is an appeal also on the point of damages that may be assessed, assuming that the verdict and judgment may be right. Not only so ; there is an appeal on what may be called interlocutory proceedings. I would give an extreme illustration. Suppose that one side wishes to have a case, involving, say, £100, tried at Bristol, and the other side wishes to have it tried at Glasgow. Such is the state of the law that an appeal can be taken to the Court of Appeal and then to the House of Lords upon the question of whether this case, involving merely £100, shall be tried at Bristol or at Glasgow.
I am not making any complaint about the facilities for appeal that exist in regard to civil causes, but I think it is a very open question whether there is not too much facility for appeal in regard to civil causes. It is not a matter that is relevant to my proposals to-night, but I think it may well be that some restriction would be advisable, but nobody would ever dream of proposing that there should be no appeal at all. All that the most zealous reformer in that respect would suggest would be that there should be some limitation to the exuberance of appeal in civil causes. So much for civil causes.
Now I come to the criminal law. Your Lordships will find that in the Criminal Courts the law is almost exactly the reverse of that which obtains in Civil Courts. In small, insignificant cases, tried before the magistrates, where three months’ imprisonment is a possible penalty, there is an appeal. In small cases, where a man may only be fined, or where he may be sentenced to only three or four days’ imprisonment, there is an appeal to Quarter Sessions, and very properly too. but in grave criminal causes, in which a man may lose his life or his liberty for the whole of his life or for ten or five years, there is, with two exceptions, substantially no appeal at all. Let me give the two exceptions. I am not pretending to offer to your Lordships an exhaustive and detailed statement, but merely an outline, which I think will be found perfectly accurate, of the right of appeal in these cases. If the Judge who tries the case thinks fit to reserve a point of law for the Court of Crown Cases Reserved, he can do so. And then the point of law alone may be made the subject of appeal.
That is the law as it exists in the different States of the Commonwealth -
But it very often happens that the Judge, being himself satisfied of his own opinion, refuses to grant a case at all ; and there is no machinery of arty sort, kind, or description known to the law - I mean no machinery of the law apart from the prerogative of mercy - by which that Judge can be set right, though it mav be notorious that his law is wrong. there was the case quite recently of Adolf Beck, who, I believe, was perfectly innocent, and was so stated to have been by a Royal Commission. There was an undoubted misdirection in that case ; evidence was refused admission which was palpably proper evidence to have bees allowed.
The Judge was confident that he was right although he was transparently wrong; he refused to grant a case ; and no remedy against his refusal was possible.
That is the position in several of the States to-day. Another case in which an appeal is permitted-
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate.
A quorum not being present,
The President adjourned the Senate at 10.28p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091014_senate_3_52/>.