3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Seat of Government : Agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales, dated 18th October.
College for the training and instruction of Cadets and Officers for Australian Navy. - Copy of letter from the Lord Mayor of Sydney to the Prime Minister, dated 13th October, 1909.
Public Service Act 1902 -
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 57. - Statutory Rules 1909, No.
Papua. - Report by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Administrator, on the Progress ofthe Territory; dated 25th September, 1909.
Audit Acts 1901-1906. - Amendment of Treasury Regulation 96 (e). - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 107.
– With reference to the question asked by Senator St Ledger about the possibility of settling 30,000 more people on the northern irrigable areas of Victoria, and the suggestion that the information should be circulated in England, will the Vice-President of the Executive Council, before giving a decision, also consider the following statement which was made by Mr. McKenzie, Minister of Lands in Victoria, and published in the Argus of the 1 6th inst. ?
Rushworth, Friday. - At a smoke concert to night Mr. McKenzie (Minister for Lands) spoke nt length with reference to the Land Tax Bill.
What was the use of talking irrigation when they had no land to give immigrants? At present they had no land for their own people, and if this country was going to succeed, then it must be by closer settlement under their irrigation scheme.
– I have not noticed the statement, and even if I had I should have hesitated to come to a decision between the conflicting opinions of two representatives of the Victorian Government.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Miss A. M. Bevan, who gave evidence on behalf of the supernumerary staff engaged inthe stamp branch, submitted the following statement : -“ That the female staff only numbers three, and is quite inadequate to perform the workrequired. A considerable number of supernumeraries are employed . That the supernumeraries have to perform the same sort of work as the permanent staff, at a much less rate of pay; that they only receive ten days’ annual leave, while the permanent staffreceives three weeks, and that the supernumeraries have no certainty of continuance of employment, although they have to pay a fidelity guarantee every year. That the work which they do is of an arduous and exacting nature, and that, as many thousand pounds worth of stamps and postal notes pass daily through their hands, a higher rate of pay ought to be accordingly given. We would wish that the supernumeraries should be classified and placed on the permanent staff of the Commonwealth Public Service.”
The witness, replying to questions, said that though classed as a supernumerary, and not placed on the permanent staff, she had been in the employ of the Department for eighteen years. Two of the supernumeraries had been in the Department twenty-two years, and two others besides herself eighteen years. Witness’ salary was £52 a year, and those with twenty-two years’ experience were getting the same amount. Her duties were those of a stamp perforator, and her hours were from 8.30 in the morning to 5.30 in the evening. She had applied to be placed on the permanent staff, but the application had not been granted.
Miss F. E. Johnstone, also classed as a supernumerary, gave evidence. She had been in the service as long as Miss Bevan, and was receiving the , same salary. Her duties were to check the postal notes, and see that the numbers tallied at both ends. It was very important and responsible work, as hers was the final supervision. During the last three months she had on the average checked 54,000 postal notes a week?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
The Lord Mayor stated to-day that he was pleased to be able to report that Mr. W. F. Buchanan, who had promised , £10,000 towards the original Dreadnought Fund movement, had that day handed over that amount, to be devoted to the purposes of the naval college and Dreadnought farms. In addition, Mr. H, C. Dangar had forwarded a cheque for £1,000, and Gillespie Bros.£100. Alderman Taylor further expressed pleasure at the manner in which the contributors generally had fallen into line to divide their donations between a naval college and farms.
It is understood that the Commonwealth Government is prepared to accept the gift of a naval college, and will furnish complete plans for its construction on Sydney Harbor foreshores?”
If so, has the Government sought the advice of any naval experts as to -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
I lay on the table copy of a letter recently received from the Lord Mayor of Sydney conveying an extremely handsome and generous offer to the Commonwealth which, on its behalf, we gratefully accept.
The establishment of a Naval College has been contemplated for a long time and advice from our responsible naval officers taken upon it. No locality or localities have been specially indicated.
The cost is expected to be within the sum offered through the Lord Mayor. The annual upkeep will depend upon the extent of the training to be given, which has yet to be determined. These questions were discussed at and in connexion with the recent Naval and Military Conference, but do not seem to have been the subject of formal recommendations. Any other oders to assist in Australia’s naval development will be gladly considered.
No proposals as to farms have been submitted or are expected by the Government. It is understood that the intention is to provide immigrants with some training fitting them for Australian pastoral and agricultural pursuits.
– Can the Minister tell the Senate what naval experts were consulted ?
– I am unable to do so now, but if the honorable senator will give notice of the question I shall endeavour to supply the information.
Victorian Irrigable Areas
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 13th. October (vide page 4427), onmotion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The President having declared the question resolved in the affirmative,
– I understand that the call for a division is withdrawn.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– I rise to a point of order. If the call for a division is withdrawn, the adjournment of the debate is carried.
– I do not understand that.
– As there appears to be some misunderstanding, perhaps I had better put the question again. The Minister has given an assurance that the second reading debate will not be closed to-day. I understood that honorable senators were willing to accept that assurance, and to go on with the debate for the time being. I will put the motion for the adjournment of the debate again.
– I must express my sincere disappointment at the course followed in connexion with this Bill, and particularly at this juncture. Senator Pulsford moved the adjournment of the debate when the matter was last before the Senate, and we anticipated that the agreement with the New South Wales Government would be submitted to honorable senators. It has been tabled, but we are asked to proceed now with the second reading of the Bill in entire ignorance of the conditions embodied in the agreement. I have all along been strongly opposed to the selection of the Yass-Canberra site. I was hoping that some information would be supplied which might justify the withdrawal of my opposition to the second reading of this Bill ; but the attitude assumed by honorable senators representing New South Wales, and by the representatives of the Government in the Senate, has made me even more opposed to the measure than I have hitherto been. I shall mark my disapprobation of their conduct in the matter by doing my best to, prevent the passing of the second reading of the Bill.
– The honorable senator should not do that.
– I am aware that I need not expect any support from Senator Macfarlane. I shall not only do my best to defeat the motion for the second reading of the Bill, but, if it is carried, I shall 1 do what I can in Committee to ‘prevent the national calamity which, in my opinion, the adoption of this measure would bring about. Taking the most favorable view of the discussion of this question, honorable senators must admit that it has not been characterized by a vestige of national feeling.
– We are tired of it.
– Senator Sayers becomes tired of a good many things. I can tell the honorable senator that I also am tired of this question. I have been from the beginning tired of the vacillation shown by honorable senators in dealing with a question which should have been stripped of all parochialism. It should have been dealt with apart from narrow personal and vested interests. The selection of the Federal Capital site should1 have been considered, not merely with a view to satisfying the inclinations and securing the positions of politicians of the present day, but with a view to providing a ‘ national asset for the National Parliament of Australia for all the ages to come. But what do we find? No national spirit has yet been exhibited. It has been a question of how we may best satisfy the big influence which has been trifling with this question in New South Wales.
– What influence is that?
– The influence of the politicians who have juggled with this question - who have kicked it from pillar to post, who have converted a minority into a majority, and a majority into a minority. That influence has ignored the merits of the only commendable site in New South Wales-
– Where there was a good supply of water.
Senator HENDERSON.Exactly. I have read the whole of the report of the Advisory Board upon the Federal Capital site, and I feel inclined to re-read it upon the floor of the Senate.
– I think that it ought to be embodied in Hansard.
– And T share the honorable senator’s opinion. I regret that this question is being trifled with, and forced through the Senate regardless of national considerations. From the period when the Seat of Government was decided upon by this Parliament, the whole matter has been one of juggling and cajolery. If there is one question upon which the voice of Australia ought to be heard it is that which is embodied in this Bill. It is not a. matter which can be lightly discarded. It is one which reaches far into the future. Whilst there may be a small circle of politicians of the Holman type, who are pre- pared to characterize the opponents of. YassCanberra, as men who desire to retain the Seat of Government for all time in Melbourne, I hold that the great body of the Australian people, if given the opportunity, would speak so decisively upon this question as to leave no possibility of doubt.
– The honorable senator ought not to forget that the chief engineer in securing a reconsideration of the original choice of Parliament was. the leader of his own party.
– The chief engineer in the business might be the leader of any part)’. I am not discussing this question from a party aspect. Surely the honorable senator’s intellect’ is big enough to enable him to rise superior to party considerations upon an occasion of this kind? If it is not, he ought to be relegated to the ranks of private citizenship. This is a place where a national question ought to be dealt with entirely free from party considerations. We are being compelled to continue this debate without the possibility of our knowing the conditions of the agreement ; and an attempt is made to force the measure through at any cost, regardless of the calamity which may thereby, fall on Australia.
– Why did not the honorable senator call for a division on his motion for the adjournment of the debate?
– The honorable senator knows that the Chamber was up in arms against an adjournment, or even n division on the question.
– I should have voted with the honorable senator.
– Probably the honorable senator would ; and I hope that when we vote on the second reading he will be so impressed with the national character of the work that he will be able to put aside the little paltry interests and conclusions which were created by one day’s visit to Dalgety. There are many people, who, if they visited Melbourne on one particular day of the year, -might be satisfied that it was the last place on God’s earth they would ever visit again ; and that is pretty much the position of the honorable senator in regard to the Capital site. Some of us have been hundreds of times at Dalgety, and may know more about the place than even one or two representatives of New South Wales ; and we are convinced that, in comparison, the site under discussion is one of rivulets and small streams, where, according to the engineers’ reports, we shall have to spend thousands of pounds in order to elevate the water - the necessary water - some 2,400 feet.
– Is the honorable senator denying that a gravitation scheme is practicable ?
– I am relying on the engineers’ reports.
– There is an affirmation that a gravitation scheme is possible.
– The promise of a gravitation scheme is a sort of mystical prophecy. The engineers and surveyors tell us that the water will have to be elevated 2,400 feet.
– Nothing of the kind !
– Then I am afraid I shall have to read the reports. Mr. Scrivener, in his report, says -
The Cotter River cannot be regarded as a satisfactory source from which to obtain a water supply for the following reasons : -
In the earlier investigations by Mr., de Burgh, it was proposed to have the service reservoir near Canberra at an elevation of 2,050 feet; but this is too low an altitude, as lands, suitable for building, and desirable from a residential point of view, have altitudes as great as 2,150 feet, or even 2,200 feet, the highest occurred building being at an elevation of 2,185 feet.
I take that to be correct, and, if so, there will be some difficulty in regard to a gravitation scheme -
The service reservoir should therefore be at a level of 2,250, in order to provide a reasonable head. To deliver water to such an elevation from the Cotter River by gravitation, the weir on the river would need to be at a level of 2,400 feet, allowing 150 feet fall in pipe line from the weir to the service reservoir. This allowance is none too great, because to reach an elevation of 2,400 on the Cotter, the pipe line and acqueduct must be longer than 30 miles. If an aqueduct is used between the weir site and the junction of the Cotter and Mumimbidgee Rivers, that channel will be more than 20 miles long, and will pass over rough country, where, for at least half the distance, the constructional costs will be heavy. If to avoid this expense a pumping scheme is decided upon, the weir would be placed near the junction of the Mumimbidgee and the Cotter Rivers, and water would be available at a level of about 1,560 feet.
Why; suggest a pumping scheme where gravitation can be used?
– That is clear proof that a gravitation scheme is possible.
– It may be proof to the honorable senator, but it is not proof to me. I am satisfied that anything is accepted as proof by the Government which will bring a vote or other assistance to the passing of this Bill. There may be a gravitation scheme that is absolutely inadequate to supply the demands made upon it.
– The surveyor says that water could not be got to all localities from this gravitation scheme anyhow.
– That is right.
– He does not say anything of the kind.
– Therefore he suggests a pumping scheme. In view of the fact that water will not run from a level of 1,560 feet to an altitude of 2,150 feet, some other means than gravitation would have to be employed in order to sup- ‘ ply water to the buildings. It would really be a national calamity for the Senate to pass a measure which has for its. purpose the taking over of a territory in which to place a capital which will never by any means be a credit to the Commonwealth, and which will never have that national value which it would have if placed in the position which was originally selected by a majority vote of the Senate and afterwards upset by the engineering of influential men, whose desire was to promote, not the national welfare, but personal interest.
– - I have no intention of departing from the original position which I took up a few months ago when we had an opportunity of voting for the selection of a Capital Site. No one recognises more fully than I do the necessity of establishing a Federal Capital and of securing its establishment as early as possible. At the same time, the price which I am asked to pay to-day is more than I can afford. I am asked to stultify the vote which I had the honour of casting here a few months ago as between Yass-Canberra and Tumut.
– Did the honorable senator vote for Dalgety at that time?
– I was just going to refer to the attitude which I took up on that occasion.
– The honorable senator did not vote for Dalgety.
– I have no intention of discussing the merits or demerits of the many suggested sites which have been visited by members of Parliament or submitted to them in reports. The qualities or want of qualities of the various sites have been fairly well canvassed. Hansard teems with the opinions of members of Parliament, and therefore I have no inten tion of traversing the old ground. In reply to Senator Walker, I may say that I did not vote for Dalgety, for the very good reason that I was not a member of the Senate.
– There was a ballot last year.
– Practically speaking, I had not an opportunity last year to vote for Dalgety. Had I voted for that site, mine would have been the only vote cast in its favour.
– Was the honorable senator the only supporter of Dalgety in the Chamber?
– My honorable friend thinks that he is very clever. So strongly did I feel about Dalgety that I rose and nominated it for the purpose of the ballot.
– And then ran away from it.
– But I found that if I were to adhere to that nomination Yass-Canberra would win in the first ballot and knock out both Tumut and Dalgety. So, rather than see Yass-Canberra win in the first ballot I determined to throw in my lot with Tumut, as the next best site to Dalgety.
– The honorable senator followed Senator McColl.
– No; Senator McColl was the nominator of Tumut, and made the finest speech I have ever heard in favour of Tumut as against other sites. He devoted himself to a comparison of Tumut, Dalgety, Canberra, Yass-Canberra, and other sites, and, to my mind, made a convincing speech; but I recognised that I could not get Dalgety chosen.
– So convincing was he, that half the Senate voted with him.
– Recognising that I could not get Dalgety chosen, I supported Tumut, as Senator McColl did. The first two ballots resulted in a tie. Senator McColl, who found behind him seventeen senators, abandoned Tumut and followed the advice, or the allurements, of the advocates of Yass-Canberra, and in the third ballot Tumut was defeated by one vote. That, however, could not be called a representative vote. I have no intention of reflecting upon the vote, nor di I intend, to go back upon the vote which I then gave. I shall oppose the second reading of this Bill, because I think that the National Parliament, having already decided upon a particular site–
– Yass -Canberra .
Senalor NEEDHAM.- No, Dalgety.
– The honorable senator defeated Dalgety.
– I did not.
– By voting for T umut, the honorable senator did.
– I hold that the National Parliament, having already arrived at a popular decision, one vote ought not to be the deciding factor in regard to another site. It is just possible that the Bill may pass its second reading; but it will not do so with my help. The only effective protest which I can make is to talk as long as I like against the proposal to fix the Capital site in YassCanberra. I can make that kind of protest against what I call the trickery and the engineering which were used to secure a majority vote last year.
– By whom?
– I am not saying by whom it was done; but I know that some kind of engineering was used.
– Does the honorable senator say that trickery was used?
– Engineering was used.
– - Will the honorable senator please say by whom it was used ?
– 1 would point out that the honorable senator would not be in order in saying by whom engineering was used.
– I had no such intention, sir. Certainly an amount of engineering was used, in order to secure a majority vote for- Yass-Canberra, and I challenge contradiction.
– Who were the parties to it?
– It is not within my province to state who were the parties. In the event of this Bill being read a second time I shall support any proposal to knock out the selection of Yass-Canberra with a view to substituting either Dalgety or Tumut. It would be a national calamity to fix the Capital site in Yass-Canberra, not because it is Yass-Canberra, but because, in my opinion, Australia has practically declared itself in favour of Dalgety.
– Last year I expressed my opinions on this subject after having paid a visit to Dalgety and Canberra. During the recess I paid two visits to Yass-Canberra uninfluenced by any party. The oftener I saw the country the more I thought of it.
– What did the honorable senator see there, anyhow ?
– It would be of no use for me to try to convert the honorable senator.
– I am seeking information. What did the honorable senator see there?
– I saw land suitable for growing potatoes for the Federal Capital, and fit for gardening and wheat growing.
– Is that the honorable senator’s idea of a Federal Capital Site?
– A barren, droughty land.
– A God-forgotten country.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators not to interject.
– When Senator Vardon and I made a visit one of our principal objects was to ascertain the quality and quantity of the water supply and the land. If I know anything about land at all the land there is of suitable quality for the Federal Capital.
– But it is not intended to start farming there.
– Of course the honorable senator knows all about the subject.
– We do not grow cabbages in Bourke-street, Melbourne.
– I am not here to waste time in answering silly interjections. The least my comrades on this side might do would be to give me some credit for being an honest man and for having a little knowledge upon questions of this kind. Honorable senators should know that this is my birthday. I am sixtyseven years of age to-day, and, in the circumstances, Senator Findley should give me a little consideration.
– The honorable senator should vote for Dalgety.
– I should prove myself to be a fool if I did anything of the kind. I read the Bulletin from time to time, but it makes no impression upon me. I consider in this matter, first, the quality of the land, and next, the character of the water supply. The Bulletin said the other day that on the second reading of this Bill, I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question which brought him to earth. I wished to know the rainfall at a certain place, and according to the ‘Bulletin, Senator Millen could not answer my question. Some honorable senators seem to believe that the quality of the land and the average rainfall of the district are not matters of importance, but in my opinion they are of the highest importance. I have here a statement showing the estimated rainfall in inches per annum on the Cotter catchment. I said the other day, by way of interjection, that the water I saw in the Cotter River was nearly as bright as the water in the bottle on the table of the Senate. There seemed to me to be a good quantity of it. I might have been misled seeing that there had been some heavy showers just previously in the ranges.
– In summer, the Cotter is completely dry.
- Senator Findley does not seem to know much about it. I think that the supply of water I noticed in the Cotter was a little better than it would probably have been if there had not been a thunderstorm in the locality of Canberra some three or four weeks before I visited the place. I give honorable senators the benefit of this statement of the estimated rainfall in inches per annum on the Cotter catchment. I find that in 1895 it was estimated at 28 inches. I omit the decimals in each case. In 1896 the rainfall was 34 inches; in 1897, 39 inches; in 1898,- 38 inches; in 1899, 35 inches; in 1900, 45 inches; in 1901, “35 inches; in 1902, 25 inches; in 1903, 43 inches; in 1904, 40 inches; in 1905, 41 inches; and in 1906, 47 inches.
– - If it continues to increase in that ratio, there will be a flood and we shall be unable to get near the place.
– I do not wish to do the State I come from any harm, but I find in -a little pamphlet I have here a statement of the rainfall of the State capitals of Australia, and included amongst them is Adelaide. The average annual rainfall on the Cotter catchment over the years to which I have referred is 38 inches, and although Adelaide is a wonderful place, as my comrades from South Australia know–
– What is the rainfall on the catchment area from which. Adelaide derives its water supply?
– I have nothing to do with that. As honorable senators are aware,’ Adelaide is a beautiful and prosperous city, and it is by some persons called “ The Holy City.” I find that the average annual rainfall of Adelaide is under 21 inches. -
– But what is the rainfall in the Mount Lofty Ranges?
– I admit that that is different. Let me tell the honorable senator that the average rainfall at Queanbeyan is .between 23 and 24 inches per annum. Some readers of the Bulletin in South Australia have taken me to task for the vote I gave in connexion with this question. I do not know whether some, of my colleagues posted them up in the matter ; I do not suppose that they did. I have no wish to be unfair. But I have been questioned on the matter, and have been told that I was misled, and made a mistake. My reply has been that the difference between myself and those who think otherwise is that I have inspected the YassCanberra site. I know what I am talking about, and I “am convinced that I am right. Having inspected the locality on three different occasions, I am now more than ever satisfied with the country, and I am doubly satisfied with the selection that has been made when I learn that the average rainfall on the catchment of the Cotter River is as high as 38 inches per annum. Such a rainfall must appear important to an Adelaideian. My opponents, in their ignorance, probably arising from reading the Bulletin, say that there is a scarcity,, of water at the Yass-Canberra site. They remind us of a difference of opinion between the Premier of New South Wales and Mr. Scrivener on the point. I have the greatest faith in Mr. Scrivener, and if that gentleman had said and held to it that there was not a sufficient* water supply at the Yass-Canberra site, I should have been prepared to be guided by his opinion. I find, however, that there is no foundation for the statement which has been made. There is now a report showing that Mr. Wade and Mr. Scrivener are agreed ; and, in view of the grand rainfall of the district to which I have referred’, I say that the country has nothing to fear. It will give me pleasure, notwithstanding all that may be said by those who are opposed to me, to stick to my guns, and to vote in accordance with the conclusion at which I have conscientiously arrived, without being influenced by any representative of, or private person belonging to, New South Wales. I regard the course I propose to take as a duty, and as being in fulfilment of a compact or honorable understanding under the Constitution that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales. Quite a number of people say that there is no hurry in the matter, but with that view I have no sympathy at all. We are in honour bound to carry out the honorable understanding between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, and so long as I am a member of the Senate I shall be found ready t’j uo so. I shall have the greatest pleasure in supporting the Bill as it stands.
-35]- - I do not desire that the motion for the second reading of the Bill should go to a vote without saying a word or two on the matter. The selection of the Federal Capital site is a matter of very serious importance to Australia. At the invitation of the Government, I had an opportunity during the recess to visit Yass-Canberra, to go over the site of the proposed city, and also to inspect the Cotter River. I have no sympathy with those who describe the Yass-Canberra district as a “ Godforsaken country.” I believe that the proposed site is in many ways suitable for the purpose of a Federal Capital. The country might not be first-class country, but there is a great deal of very good land in the district. The surroundings of the proposed site are suitable for the establishment of a city j there is a nice range of hills which shelter the site. In that undulating country an opportunity would be afforded for the laying out of a really beautiful city. There is only one difficulty in the matter, and that is the difficulty of the water supply. I cannot lose sight of the fact that we shall be establishing a city, not for fifty years, or for a population of 50,000, but for all time, and in years to come for, perhaps, a very large population.
– If we establish it at Yass-Canberra, it will soon be shifted.
– I am not so sure about that. I am troubled by the question of- the water supply, and I confess that I am not even now altogether satisfied on that point. Senator W. Russell said just now that the average annual rainfall on the catchment area of the Cotter River is 18 inches. When I inspected the Cotter River, it seemed to me to be about the size of the River Torrens. I suppose that the annual rainfall in the Mount Lofty Ranges, where the Torrens rises, is from 38 to 40 inches. The city of Adelaide and its suburbs, with a population of about 200,000, could not be supplied from the Torrens, and we were obliged to tap the Onkaparinga in order to increase the water supply for domestic uses.
– But what is the area of the catchment of the Torrens? The rainfall is only one factor. The area of the country on which it falls is another.
– I admit the force of that argument ; but will the honorable senator say what is the catchment area bf the Cotter River? So far as I could see, it is just a stream running between two ranges of hills. I do not think that the area of the catchment of the Cotter River can be anything like as large as the area supplying the Torrens River. The catchment area of the Cotter seemed to me to be somewhat limited. I wish to vote for this Bill, but I should like to be sure that we shall not be making a .great mistake in connexion with the water supply at Yass-Canberra. It appears to me that that consideration is all-important in regard to the Federal city.
– Other rivers are available besides the Cotter..
– As far as I can learn, the Cotter River is the only one which is available for the purpose of a domestic supply. I tasted its water, and I do not know of any stream which is Durer and more limpid. I have no complaint to urge against its quality. My doubt has reference to the quantity that is available. I have read the correspondence relating to this matter, and I perused the speech which has been made by Mr. Wade in the New South Wales Parliament regarding it. He said -
I wish to place the matter beyond all doubt. There are certain persons who still contend that, in spite of all the information that has been obtained, and the leadings of the flow of water down the Cotter during the past twelve months, it would not furnish a reliable supply for a large city.
Mr. Wade set himself the task of dispelling all doubts in regard to the abundance of the water supply. He said -
The year 1908 was a dry one on the Cotter catchment. I estimate the rainfall at only 26.5 inches, or a little moTe than I assumed in my previous reports for 1902 - the exceptionally dry year for which 25.5 inches only was assumed. I figured on a run off of 11,812,000 gallons for 1902, and that for 1908 actually .measured 13,752,000 gallons. So that my forecast has been almost exactly verified.
But what we have to provide for is not years in which a normal rainfall is experienced, but years in which a very low rainfall is recorded.
– But the rainfall in 1902 was a very poor one all over Australia.
– Mr. Wade says-
To meet the combined demands, the full development of the Cotter would (so far as available data indicates during years of low rainfall, such as 1908), provide for a population of 50,000 a sufficient water supply for domestic and civic purposes - for electric transmission of energy for lighting, and -for city power and street tramways; but from the information available it cannot be determined whether or not a scheme combining a gravitation water supply and a power installation could be laid down at a cost that would be economical. In view, however, of the maximum consumption during drought, combined with the minimum flow during successive years of low rainfall, it cannot be anticipated with certainty that the Cotter supply would meet the demands for the above combined purposes for a greater population than 50,000, and for manufacturing purposes of any magnitude, should such ever be proposed within the territory.
– That is to say, the supply would be sufficient for 250,000 inhabitants.
– I am not detracting from the value of the water supply at all. Mr. Wade continues -
Just after the report had been sent in, gaugings were taken for 1909 from January to July. The rainfall had greatly improved during that period, and the actual volume of water coming down the Cotter during those six months was enormously in excess of the volume going down during the previous year.
So that the greatly improved conditions of the Cotter during the six months of this year showed that, putting it shortly, the daily flow of the Cotter was twice the amount of water consumed by the whole of Sydney and its suburbs.
The lowest rainfall estimated for YassCanberra, namely, 25.5 inches, is said to be sufficient to supply the domestic requirements of the city ; but I feel some apprehension in regard to the water supply of the future Seat of Government-
– The domestic supply is sufficient for a city of 250,000 inhabitants. The Cotter River would be sufficient to supply the requirements of the whole of Sydey and half of Melbourne.
– There seems to have been a large amount of special pleading in reference to this matter. Mr. Wade continued -
When these facts are appreciated we can see that the claims of the Cotter are established beyond doubt. Although our views are clear and definite on the subject there are people that are still prepared fo question the capability of the Cotter as a source of supply.
It is said that the average rainfall in the Yass-Canberra district is 38 inches. That does not trouble me. What I am concerned about is the lowest rainfall within that area.
– It is 25.5 inches.
– Will that be sufficient to supply all requirements? May we not, at some time, be face to face witha water famine? Mr. Wade continued -
Although it may be tedious to the House to. listen to these figures, my’ desire is to have them placed on record for the information of all who wish to learn the recent facts in relation to this stream. When these facts are appreciated we can see that the claims of the Cotter are established beyond doubt.
I confess that I do not feel satisfied that the flow of the Cotter is beyond all doubt. But if the Commonwealth accepts this territory the responsibility for its action will rest on the experts of New South Wales.
– The figures which Mr. Wade quoted related to the year in which the rainfall was the lowest upon record.
– Not altogether. My only doubt has reference to the water supply of the future Federal Capital. I have no sympathy with those who declare that YassCanberra is a God-forsaken country which is incapable of producing anything. If it be accepted by the Commonwealth-
– We must take the responsibility.
– But we must accept it upon the reports of the experts. I feel bound to discount the statements made in this connexion, because it seems to me that there has been a large amount of special pleading indulged in so far as the water supply is concerned.
.. - Senator Vardon is evidently troubled regarding the prospect of an adequate water supply at the future Seat of Government. Under these circumstances, I suggest that,, in view of the population which will beassembled there a hundred years hence, he should delay the settlement of this question. When the last election took place this Parliament had selected Dalgety, and the electors were so satisfied that they returned a Parliament-
– To alter it.
– This Parliament was returned with a majority in favour of an alteration for party purposes. The previous Parliament had, I think, rightly decided on Dalgety ; and the question was not before the electors at the last election.
– It had not been settled.
– In the opinion of the electors, the question had been settled, and they were satisfied ; but a considerable amount of engineering and scheming was resorted to, and strong influence was brought to bear to bring about an alteration. This Parliament has no authority from the electors to make any change ; and I am strongly of opinion that the settle-‘ ment ought to be delayed until the next election. If the electors read all the reports and so forth that are available, they can place themselves in possession of nearly as much information as we have. A paragraph, which, I suppose, was inspired, appeared in the press the other day, to the effect that the present Government had no intention of proceeding with the railway, water, or other works in connexion with the Federal Capital ; but that all they desired was to fix that site, so that the next Parliament” could not alter it without incurring enormous expense - that they desired the question to be settled now so that, even if it were clearly proved that Canberra was altogether unsuitable, a future Government would hesitate to take any steps towards a change.
– - That is an argument against any Parliament settling the question.
– - It is an argument for obtaining the very fullest information of an independent character, such as will convince Senator Vardon and others as to the suitability of this site, especially in regard to the water supply. Many of the reports we have already had contradict each other ; and not so very long ago, Mr. Scrivener expressed himself as not at all satisfied with the water supply at Canberra. I am very sure that, if Mr. Scrivener were questioned to-day, he would admit that he is not satisfied.
– Mr. Scrivener’s report shows that the water supply is sufficient; the only point he raises is as to the expense of a’ gravitation scheme.
– - In a previous report, Mr. Scrivener said, in effect, that the supply was insufficient.
– The honorable senator cannot find in Mr. Scrivener’s report a single line as to insufficiency.
Senator STORY. _ Mr. Scrivener pointed out to me at Canberra that the only way to get an adequate supply was bypumping and carrying the water across the Mumimbidgee and over country to a great height into a reservoir. But such a method is a dangerous one on which to rely for the water supply of a city ; because in a year of drought, something might happen to the machinery, and we know that a reservoir is limited “as to its holding capacity.
– Did the honorable senator ever know of a pumping scheme which was dependent on a single engine?
– I am making no such suggestion ; but we know that machinery, from unforeseen causes, goes wrong.
– And in the case of a gravitation scheme, if a dam 01 a main bursts, what happens?
– The difficulty, then, is not so great as in the case of a breakdown of machinery. I should like Senator W. Russell to once more inspect Dalgety.
– What is the good. of honorable senators inspecting sites if, as the honorable senator says, the people, after reading, are as well able to judge as ourselves ?
– What I said was that if the electors had this question before them they could get all the information they required, if they chose to read.
– Then there is no need for any of us to look at sites.
– Even we, so far as the water supply is concerned, have to depend on our reading. If the settlement of the question be delayed Senator W. Russell will have another opportunity to visit Dalgety, possibly under more favorable circumstances. No one doubts the honorable senator’s honesty, but, unfortunately, he visited Dalgety on a very bad day, when there was a blizzard ; in fact, I believe the dust was so thick that he could not judge of the character of the country or the quality of the land.
– And this is Senator Story’s iidea! spot !
– That was only on one day -in the year; and it is a fact that Senator W. Russell visited ‘Canberra during ‘one of the best seasons.
– It was in the same season, and at the same time that I visited Dalgety.
- Senator W. Russell at Canberra saw some beautiful alluvial flats, and, as a practical farmer, he could judge of their quality for agricultural purposes. But does the honorable senator know that, according to Mr. Scrivener, these rich alluvial flats will in all probability be submerged in order to make ornamental lakes?
– That is nonsense !
– According to Mr. Scrivener’s plans and suggestions the larger parts of these flats will be used in the way I have described.
– I thought the honorable senator spoke of the whole of the rich lands.
– I spoke of the larger part of the rich alluvial land, which so took the fancy of Senator W. Russell. The greater portion of the high land at Canberra is poor, miserable country, fit for nothing except the supply of material for building purposes ; in fact, if residents on the hills desired to have flower gardens they would have to cart up the necessary soil.
– The honorable senator is grossly exaggerating !
– I am giving a plain statement of the facts as they presented themselves to me. I may have been a little biased in favour of Dalgety, just as I fancy Senator W. Russell and others were a little biased against Dalgety when they visited Canberra.
– Senator Story was brought up on the land, was he not?
– Yes, and, while I cannot claim to be a farmer, I know something of the value of land for agricultural or building purposes. I think that I possess sufficient sense or practical knowledge to appreciate the difficulty of supplying a large city with water by pumping plant, and the attendant dangers of such a scheme. Senator W. Russell, in regard to the water supply, made a comparison which was altogether unfair. He compared the watershed for the proposed Capital City at Canberra with the water-shed of the city of one of the States ; but I think he will find that the rainfall in the water-shed that supplies the small city of Adelaide is greater than the rainfall in the water-shed suggested for the Federal Capital. The honorable senator ‘ undoubtedly made this comparison to bolster up his conviction - which, I believe, he held before he looked up any in formation - that ‘Canberra is the best place. The comparison was doubtless intended to justify the honorable senator’s vote.
– I am proud of that vote !
– I am not proud of my .colleague’s vote. Had the honorable senator seen Dalgety under conditions as favorable as those that prevailed at Canberra, he would not so hastily have made up his mind. I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and in Committee I shall support every amendment that will serve to delay the settlement of the question until there is a new Parliament, which can deal with it much more honestly, at any rate, than can the present Parliament.
– We have three energetic representatives of New South Wales in the present Ministry, who are working with great determination to .have this Bill passed during the present Parliament, so that it may be difficult for a future Parliament to alter the decision. This Bill, like certain other recent Bills, has been brought in for discussion only.
– Seeing that we arc carrying the matter a step beyond that at which it was left by the late Government, how can the honorable senator say that ?
– No matter what any Government may have done, I am so strongly under the impression that the settlement of the question should be left to the next Parliament that I hope the Bill will not be proceeded with. Since the opening of this Parliament I have regarded this as a strictly non-party question. When it was first brought before the Senate that was the feeling which animated every honorable senator who expressed his opinions and gave a vote. But since then, party tactics have been practised until a purely national question has degenerated into a mere party question.
– Since when?
– Since the first decision was arrived at
– Was it a party question last November?
– It had then degenerated into a party question.
– In November last, when the late Government brought in a Bill?
– It was then regarded purely as a party question by many members of Parliament, just as it had been regarded previously. No matter how long it may be discussed I see no hope of the question being treated on its merits in this Parliament, constituted as it is. The merits of various sites have been discussed from time to time, and I dare say that a majority of honorable senators have now got into such a frame of mind that, no matter what the merits of any site in Southern Monaro may be, they will be determined to tie down the Parliament to the proposed site at Yass-Canberra. I dare say that if they were assured of gold mines such as we have in Kalgoorlie, throughout a site in Southern Monaro, they would still vote for the Yass-Canberra site. A national question of this kind should not lie settled by a moribund Parliament. The electors should be afforded an opportunity to express their , views before a final decision is come to. I should be very sorry indeed to see a decision arrived at by honorable senators in their present frame of mind. The first decision on the question was come to according to the opinions which they held of the various sites. But I do not think that any honorable senator will pretend that that consideration prevails any longer. It would be a thousand pities if a decision were arrived at from purely party reasons.
– I did not vote in that way.
– It is quite clear that this national question has degenerated into a party question, and cannot be regarded in any other light until after a general election. To-day I gave notice of my intention to move that it should be referred to the people by means of a referendum, but, as I have since learned that a like proposal was ruled out of order, I do not intend to proceed with the motion. I shall content myself with voting against the second reading of the Bill in the hope that the wishes of the people of Australia may be ascertained by the indirect method of a general election. My experience is that a very large proportion of the electors take a very lively interest in this subject ; in fact I was quite surprised to learn how well acquainted they are with the debates in Parliament. I believe that a less prejudiced vote could be obtained bv means of a referendum than can possibly be secured in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. However, as that method of procedure cannot be resorted to, I hope that the settlement of this question will be deferred until after the general election, because I hold that in the new Parliament it would be viewed in a less party and provincial light than that in which I fear it is being viewed in this Parliament. I would have preferred to see the question dealt with as expeditiously as possible. If ray speeches are referred to, it will be found that from the very beginning I have been desirous of getting a site chosen, and have never lent myself to any tactics for the purpose of delaying the settlement of the question, because my view was that it was our duty to carry out the provision in the Constitution as early as possible. It would be a national calamity, I repeat, if this question were settled in a party wrangle, and it would reflect no credit upon the Parliament. I hope that honorable senators who entertain any doubt will leave the question open for settlement by the next Parliament. They will serve the Commonwealth better by so doing than they will by adopting a site which has been condemned by a large number of persons, including public men, who, though they may not be such direct authorities as surveyors, are able to give a very rational opinion on a question of this kind. I hope that the pages of our national history will not be tarnished in the selection of the site for the Capital. I am not speaking from a party stand-point. I recognise that too much party spirit has been exhibited in the past, and, in order to secure a settlement of this question free from party bias, I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– I do not intend to discuss the merits of the respective sites which have been suggested for the Federal Capital, but to call attention to the fact that the New South. Wales Government have made all provision for the cession of a territory to the Commonwealth in response to the vote of both Houses of this Parliament selecting a site in the district of Yass-Canberra, with a full knowledge of their duties and rights under the Constitution in the location of the Capital. In other words, a most important party to the contract has offered freely and fully a territory for us to consider, and its Parliament has suggested to us a certain area and certain conditions, and expressed its willingness to give us at once the right of possession and ownership and further rights, in order that we may. proceed to make a Capital suitable for the Commonwealth.
– But the)’ only saythat now when they have got all of their own way.
– That may be so. I do not want to impute sinister motives to any one, but I submit that, when the State has gone to the trouble of satisfying itself, and also to some extent of satisfying us, that is a reason why we should consider the question from that stand-point. Whether the territory which the State Government are making active preparations to hand over to the Commonwealth is a suitable one or not is a question which might be delayed or debated ad infinitum. I have ‘ my own opinion about the matter. Although it is not to my mind an ideal territory for the Federal Capital, still, on the whole, I think that it is satisfactory to us, and what element of dissatisfaction I may have in my mind is more than compensated for by the fact that New South Wales, through its Parliament, is doing the utmost it can to facilitate our acquisition of a site. In view of what has taken place, I would not call this a party question, but I will say that those who are opposing a settlement of the question are taking upon themselves a very grave responsibility. Really, the only objection that has been urged is that the Cotter River would not afford a sufficient water supply for a very large city. From the reports and assurances given to us when we were discussing the relative merits of the Dalgety and YassCanberra sites, and from those which have accompanied the presentation of this Bill in the Senate, I am satisfied that the Cotter River will afford a sufficient supply for a city of comparatively large dimensions. I express the hope that the Federal Capital will never be a city of very large population. For very many reasons, it is to be hoped that it will not. A population of from 50,000 to 60,000 is as large a population as I think we can expect to have in the Federal Capital within sixty or seventy years after it has been established. It is desirable, for many reasons, social as well as political, that the Commonwealth Capital should not become an immense city like Melbourne or Sydney. The Yass-Canberra district is a fairly rich district ; but I think it Will prove to be an advantage to establish the Federal Capital in a district which is capable of supporting a comparatively small population. I am afraid that the experience of the past has shown that the work which we have done within our jurisdiction has not been too well performed. We shall have quite as much as we can do to carry out our obligations under the Constitution in the management of the affairs of Australia, without having, at the same time, to assume responsibility for the administration of a very large territory of our own. For many reasons, it is highly desirable that the political Capital of the Commonwealth should be removed as far as possible from the influence of a large city dominating to any extent either State or Federal politics. In my opinion, a population of 300,000 or 400,000 in the proposed Federal Territory of 900 square miles is not likely to be realized ; and it is not desirable that it should be. We require a small and compact territory, and the Capital should not be a city of overwhelming importance from the point of view of population, or of manufacturing industry. I regard it as one of the reasons in favour of the establishment of the Capital in the Yass-Canberra district, that it is not likely that, in that district, we shall have established a city likely to approach, for a very long time, the dimensions of Washington, for instance. This commends the district to me as a suitable one in which to establish the Federal Capital. If the prospect of having a large population, manufacturing or otherwise, were to be regarded as the most important factor in the selection of the site for the ! federal Capital, the large cities of Sydney and Melbourne would be the only two eligible places. It was because of the recognised preponderating influence of large cities in State, and indirectly, in Federal politics, that it was provided in the Constitution that the site for the Federal Capital should be selected somewhere in New South Wales, and, from a political point of view, the suggestion that it should be at least 100 miles removed from the overwhelming influence of Sydney, was a sound one.
– Then, why not vote for Dalgety ?
– Because that would be putting the Federal Capital in almost the most inaccessible part of Australia.
– Dalgety is nearer the sea than is Yass-Canberra.
– That is one reason why I prefer Yass-Canberra to Dalgety. When asked to decide between the two sites, I said that we should establishthe Federal Capital at a place which would be free from the possibility of attack, and on that ground, I should have welcomed the selection of a site even further in the interior than Yass-Canberra, I believe that the Bulletin, which, I understand, is a newspaper published in Sydney, and which had some influence in the framing of the Constitution under which the Australian Colonies were federated, pointed out how necessary it was that the Federal Capital should be established in a place which) would be impregnable to attacks from outside.
– I remind the honorable, senator that we are not now discussing the relative merits of Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, although, incidentally, the matter has been alluded to.
– Let me say that I do not think it is of any use to go the weary round of analyzing expert evidence as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the water supply of different sites, their suitability as manufacturing centres, or from any other point of view. I have said that I do not anticipate that, within the next century, there will be a population of more than 50,000 or 60,000 people in the Federal Capital; and I again express the hope that it will never be a very large; city. I am satisfied that the reasonable requirements of the Federal Capital, in the matter of water supply, can be amply met within the territory which the New South Wales Government are prepared to hand over to” us- as soon as we have made up our minds on this question. Indeed, it is proposed that we shall be given water rights over an area which would afford a sufficient water supply for all purposes, even though the Federal Capital should become a manufacturing centre. In the circumstances, I regard as more or less finicking the discussion of the reports of experts in connexion with this matter. Yass-Canberra seems to be a fairly progressive district, and the residents appear to enjoy as many of the comforts of life as do the rest of the people of Australia, and there is no reason why the Federal Capital should not be successfully established in the territory which the New South Wales Government are willing to hand over to us.
– New South Wales will do everything so long as she gets her own way, but she will do nothing if she does not get her own way.
– I am not anxious that the Federal Capital should be established in any particular place. I do not think that it is essential to our development that we should at once establish the Capital. But I cannot overlook the fact that in this matter the people of New South Wales have important rights, and that under the Constitution we are under a distinct obligation to the people of that State. They have said that they agree with the selection we have made as between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra, and are prepared to take legislative action to hand over a large area for the Federal territory when we have ratified the choice which this Parliament has already made. If we do not co-operate with the, in some respects, generous offer of the people of New South Wales, the Government of that State will be inclined to say, and very possibly will say, “We shall wash our hands of the whole matter. As you will not accept the territory we offer, we shall not assist you again in the settlement of the question.” t congratulate the people of New South Wales upon the generous action which they have taken to give expression to the wish of both Houses of this Parliament, and, taking their offer into consideration, I take it upon myself to warn the Senate that if the Parliament of New South Wales is not met with corresponding good faith, and, I may say, with corresponding wisdom, on the part of this Parliament, the people of New South Wales will be justified in washing their hands of the whole matter. Every one must admit that it is desirable that we should select a site for the Federal Capital as soon as possible. So long as this Parliament is not assembled in Federal territory, so long shall we be tenants at will or tenants on sufferance of some State Government. Taking into consideration all the disadvantages that may be urged against the Yass-Canberra site, or the superlative merits of Dalgety, we have from the political as well as the constitutional point of view to consider at this stage the overwhelming fact that the New South Wales Government are doing their best to secure for us the speedy settlement of the Federal Parliament in a suitable home of its own. We have now to consider whether the question of the selection of the Federal Capital is to be decided or not. If there is a party’ or a number of honorable senators who are determined to persist in blocking this measure, it must be because they are not anxious to have any site selected at all. I say that it is highly desirable that the question should be settled, and although Yass-Canberra may not be absolutely perfect as a Capital site - and we know that it would be impossible to suggest any site which would satisfy every member of the Federal Parliament - it is in many respects suitable for the purpose, and we have now an opportunity to remove what has been for so long a bone of contention between ourselves and between this Parliament and the State Parliament of New South Wales, by making the final selection of the YassCanberra site and as scon as possible getting into our own Federal home. The New South Wales Government are helping us to do so, and I hope we shall meet them in a generous spirit and speedily take action in the matter.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat that the sooner this question is settled the better it will be for the Commonwealth. But I think that I have read somewhere of an old adage which says, “ The more haste the less speed.”. This is a question above all others in connexion with which there ought to be nothing approaching haste. We ought to act cautiously, so that posterity may be perfectly satisfied with the selection of the Capital site which is made by this Parliament. We must realize that when once that selection has been made it will be impossible to alter it. It has been urged that this Parliament is to blame, because of the delay which has occurred in the settlement of the question. I give that statement a flat denial. In 1904 the Parliament selected Dalgety as a Capital site.
– That was a previous Parliament.
– -It was the same old Federal Parliament.
– And it was not decided by one vote, either.
– The Dalgety site had been offered to Ihe ‘Commonwealth by New South Wales. But notwithstanding that fact, the Government of New South Wales did everything in their power to resist compliance with the terms of the Constitution. It was deliberately disloyal to the Constitution.
– According to the honorable senator’s interpretation of it.
– That is a remark which might-be made about anything. The facts are indisputable. This Parliament deliberately selected a site-
– Not this Parliament.
– I do not mean the members of this Parliament - I am referring to the Commonwealth Parliament. The Parliament of New South Wales deliberately refused to grant the Commonwealth that site. In connexion with this matter we may perhaps get a little light by studying a speech which was delivered bv Mr. Holman-
– I have no objection to the honorable senator discussing this question in a general way, but I would point out to him that the Senate is not now considering the merits of the Yass-Canberra site as against those of any other site, and therefore I cannot allow him to debate speeches which have been delivered upon this question in other Parliaments.
– I can, quite understand that, but charges have been made so indiscriminately that I thought that I should be justified in debating the question of whether the original choice of this Parliament ought to have been departed from. Of course, if I am not in order-
– I do not object to the honorable senator debating the matter in general terms, but he will not be in order in alluding to it in the way that he has suggested.
– I intend to vote against the second reading .of the Bill. I do not think that the territory which has been offered to the Commonwealth by the New South’ Wales Government is a suitable one from any stand-point. This afternoon aru honorable senator has alluded to Yass-Canberra as a God-forsaken country, and it seems to me that there is some warrant for his assertion. It is a section of New South Wales which the State Government ha.ve recently discovered is of very little value, and consequently they desire to hand it over to the Commonwealth. It embraces an area of something like 1,000 square miles, and possesses a population of about 100. The population of the Cotter area numbers about fifty. This territory the New South Wales Government is prepared to hand over to the Commonwealth, and we are assured that it is admirably suited to agriculture. We are told that it possesses a magnificent rainfall, and yet it boasts a population of only 100.
– Surely there is some cultivation there.
– There is no cultivation.
– Is not the honorable senator confounding it with another area?
– Queanbeyan is not included in the Yass-Canberra district.
– The township is not.
– There are only 100 people in this fertile distiict.
– I have been there myself, and I am sure that I have seen more than 100 persons.
– Senator Stewart has not been there at all.
– Neither have I been in China. Yet I am told that there are 400,000,000 people in that country, and I believe it. I have never been in the planet Mars, but I am assured that there are huge canals there-
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– I am not so sure that the statement is not correct. I am obliged to believe what I read of the great majority of the countries of the world, and Senator Neild occupies a similar position. It appears to me that a large proportion of the 1,000 square miles of territory included in the Yass-Canberra area is absolutely worthless.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
– Then the honorable senator will have an opportunity of correcting me.
– If a big population were settled on the catchment area, the honorable senator would argue that the country was not fit for a catchment area.
– I am not responsible for what I would say under other circumstances, but only for what I am saying under present conditions. It must be evident to every one that the Government of New South Wales, with much generosity and warm-heartedness, is handing over a mass of rocks and stones, which are absolutely of no use to the State itself, and can only be brought into decent appearance by the Commonwealth at an expenditure of probably millions. As to the water supply, I have gone through Mr. Wade’s speech very carefully, and it appears to me that that gentleman’s name ought to be something else. I shall not say what his name ought to be, but had he not been a politician, I think he might have been a most excellent writer of fiction. Mr. Wade apologizes for one statement by suggesting that it might appear to be fabulous. He knew that what he himself was stating was hardly credible, when he said that in the catchment area there was sufficient water to supply a population of 1,761,160 with 100 gallons per head per day. If that be the case, why is the water not utilized? Why is there no settlement or progress? Why is there nothing but a bare, barren expanse ?
– Why are there only 4,000,000 people in all Australia?
– Very largely because of the policy which the honorable senator has constantly supported. If the policy of the Labour party were adopted, I believe that the 4,000,000 would rapidly grow to 40,000,000. I gather from the various reports that in this area there is no land fit for settlement -
– Bosh !
– I have not been there, and I am merely taking as my authority the reports of the officials who were sent by the Government of New South Wales to inspect the country. Mr. Scrivener says -
Yass-Canberra as a whole is not an agricultural district, and a very large proportion of the land embraced is only suitable for grazing; there are, however, considerable areas of gently undulating laud well adapted for fruit-growing, and with proper cultivation ordinary farm crops might be profitably grown ; apparently owners have found it easy to make a living by grazing, and have, therefore, avoided as far as possible the more strenuous life that cultivation demands.
Senator W. Russell was not in the chamber when I stated that the population of this area was only 100 people.
– I told the honorable senator before that the area was cursed with land monopoly.
– I suppose that the honorable senator interviewed every one of the population. But where did the honorable senator find the magnificent areas for wheat growing and agriculture generally? Even in the drought-stricken portions of South Australia we should find a larger population than 100 on an area of 1,000 square miles. I. suppose that at Oodnadatta the population cannot be very much smaller. However, to leave that portion of the subject, it appears to me from what I have read, putting aside Mr. Wade’s ridiculous statement, that there is not sufficient water supply in this area. Mr. Scrivener, in his first report, said distinctly that the supply is insufficient, though afterwards, apparently, he modified that statement. My experience in these matters, however, has driven me to the conclusion that a Government can usually get the kind of report that is wanted ; and unwillingly I am forced to the conclusion that such pressure was brought to bear on Mr. Scrivener -
– That is an audacious statement against an honorable man !
– And it is very unfair to Mr. Mahon, the Minister who gave the instructions.
– I do not care a straw who gave the instructions. Mr. Scrivener’s first impression was that the water supply was not sufficient.
– Mr. Scrivener did not say so.
– If he did not say so in so many words, that was the effect of his statement. As to Senator Neild’s interjection, that honorable senator hag been much, longer in public life than myself, and I am sure that he must know of cases exactly in accordance with what I have suggested, where, I shall not say pressure
– That is the term the honorable senator used.
– Well, I shall not say pressure, but merely say that a Government can usually secure a report that is desired. I have known Governments to be successful in such matters, and I have known a case in which, when an attempt was met .by a refusal, the public servant was dismissed by the Minister. The latter case was proved right up to the hilt.
– Does the honorable senator know that Mr. Scrivener has been severely attacked in the public press because he presented really an unfavorable report ?
– This is what Mr. Scrivener said about Yass-Canberra -
This site, while by no means ideal, approaches nearer to what is required than any other I have inspected in the Yass-Canberra district.
– Is there any evidence of pressure there?
– That was the first report; afterwards, I believe, that was modified, or, at least, Mr. Scrivener agreed with his fellow Commissioners.
– Does the honorable senator impute any bad motive because Mr. Scrivener altered his opinion?
– In any case, we have the first statement, and then we have Mr. Scrivener agreeing with his fellow Commissioners ; and I am entitled to draw my own conclusions.
– Was not Mr. Scrivener’s agreement merely that he considered a certain portion of the proposed area most suitable?
– In any case, the impression conveyed to my mind by Mr. Scrivener’s report was that the water supply was insufficient. Senator W. Russell gave us the rainfall in detail ; but the honorable senator ought to know that the annual rainfall in any particular portion of Australia is very little criterion as to the usefulness of that rainfall either for agriculture or town purposes.
– What logic !
– I shall give the honorable senator good reasons. His experience in Australia has been a lengthy one, but he does not appear to have been a man of very acute observation. In a particular district, I have seen 20 inches of min on one day, and not another drop for twelve months.
– In Queensland.
– Portions of South’ Australia are just like Queensland, “ only more so.” The same may be said of New South Wales ; and, indeed, the principle applies throughout Australia. We have tropical rains to a greater or lesser extent everywhere; large quantities of rain fall in a short time, and the water runs away almost immediately. The YassCanberra country is composed of narrow gorges, regular drains, down which the water flows at a huge rate, and disappears in a few hours, or, at the most, days. This is characteristic of the country, so that the annual rainfall is no real criterion as to the quantity of water that can be stored.
– And much of the water would be of no use for domestic purposes.
– Quite so, because it is charged with minerals. Some honorable senator has spoken of the fine clear water in the Yass-Canberra district.
– I did.
– It just shows that the honorable senator knows very little about water, because the clear water, sofar as my experience has gone, is alwayshighly charged with mineral.
– That is not so.
– The honorable senator ought to know that there is not amine in the whole of this water-shed.
– There are mineral deposits in the country. I know portions of ‘ Queensland where there is not a single mine and where the water is fully charged with minerals. It is usually clear and bright, but when one begins to use it it is found to be extremely hard and next door to valueless for domestic or irrigation purposes.
– There is no better water in the world than that at Canberra.
– I am very glad to hear that, but limpidity is really no proof of the quality of water. Mr. Scrivener said that one of his reasons for being opposed to this particular scheme was that it would cost about ^900,000 to provide a water supply for the city. That is a very large expenditure, and we know that such works very often exceed in cost the estimate. In fact we have very few instances recorded of the actual cost being less than- the estimate, so I think that we are justified in coming to the conclusion that the cost of providing a decent domestic water supply for the Federal Capital would probably run. into 500,000. But then if we want a water supply for providing power, as I think we do-
– We have permission to go to the Snowy River.
– Why not go to the Snowy River at once? I ask honorable senators to look ahead about one hundred years. In addition to a domestic water supply we want a supply sufficient to run the numerous factories which I am sure the Commonwealth Government will establish at the. Federal Capital within the next twenty or thirty or forty or fifty years. We must look ahead in connexion with this matter, and that is one of the principal reasons which animated those who sat in the Parliament of 1904, which chose Dalgety. They said, “ Here is a perennial supply of pure and sparkling water coming right down from the Snowy Mountains - a supply which is never likely to fail, and which is capable of giving sufficient to a population of hundreds of thousands and providing power for any ‘factories or motive power of any kind that might be required by the Commonwealth Government.” That, I repeat, was the reason which animated a very large majority of those who voted in 1904 for Dalgety. We have no such provision in the case of Canberra. After Mr. Wade’s tall statement about a supply for 1,700,000 persons, he says - and .it is an admission of weakness - “ If there is not enough water there to provide power the Commonwealth can go to the
Snowy River.” Why not go there at once and make sure that we shall have what I believe to be more necessary than anything else for the prosperity and comfort of the people who will live’ at the Capital, and also for the interest of the whole Commonwealth - a bountiful supply of good water? I know that my honorable friends opposite call themselves anti-Socialists. I do not know that they really are or believe themselves to be anti-Socialists, but I think that during the next hundred years collectivism is likely to develop itself in Australia to a very large extent, and that at the Seat of Government we shall certainly have factories of various kinds. For instance, we shall have clothing factories.
– Never. They will be in the great centres of population.
– Why should they be in the great centres of population ? The army of Commonwealth servants will be continually growing, and does the honorable senator think that the Governments are always going to let contracts for manufacturing the uniforms of their servants? No private company working 011 such a large scale would ever dream of carrying on its business in that fashion. The probability is that the Commonwealth will have an ammunition factory, a rifle factory and a cannon factory at the Seat of Government, and thai within the next fifty years, perhaps very much sooner, it Vill have taken over the railways of the States, when, of course, engine-fitting shops will be established at the Seat of Government. In view of these developments is it not necessary that there should be an abundance of power so that_ large manufacturing industries may be carried on in the interests of the people of Australia at a minimum cost? Senator Neild gave the whole show away when he interjected that these industries would be carried on in the great centres of population. Here we have the secret source of the objection to a better site than YassCanberra. Now the latter can never be developed into anything; it never will be a rival to Sydney. We cannot have factories there, because there will be no power.
– Can the honorable senator cite the case of any capital where Government factories are. centred in its vicinity?
– I cannot.
– For the simple reason that no case of the kind exists.
– No man has yet proceeded in an aeroplane from Europe to
America, but I am sure that some man will <lo so within the next decade. Because a thing has not been done before, is that any reason why it should not come about in- the future? Has the honorable senator become so fossilized in his ideas that he does not see any progress ahead of him? Is everything going to die out with him?
– Factories are always found in the vicinity of fuel.
– Has the senator never heard of power being created “ by means of water? Is not that the kind of power which, all modern engineers and manufacturers are looking for? It is the cheapest power of all. I would advise the honorable senator to go back to his books for a few months (before he comes here and airs his very antiquated ideas.
– It would be well for the honorable senator to stick to common sense.
– The honorable senator has’ a monopoly of sense, but it is of a very common character.
– It is common sense anyhow.
– Order. I. ask the honorable senator not to continue this string of interjections.
– I think it has been proved beyond the shadow of doubt that the supply of water, whilst it might be sufficient for the domestic purposes of a comparatively small population, will never meet the inevitable demands of the future Capital. That is the point I am making. Then there is another aspect of this question. We are to have’ an area of 1,000 square miles. We had a debate the other evening on the question of establishing a Bureau of Agriculture. I think it is quite within the range of possibility that if it is at all suitable for such a purpose we shall have experimental farms and experimental irrigation areas in the Commonwealth Territory. If that isthe case, then the need for an abundant supply of water becomes greater and greater the more the question is examined. I know that it is idle to talk to the senators from New South Wales. They are under the baneful influence of Sydney. The authorities in that city want the Federal Capital established in a particular district, so that it may never hope to become an effective or dangerous rival. I am personally satisfied that a large proportion ot the land in this area of 1,000 square miles is absolutely useless.
– That is not so.
– I do not care what the honorable senator says. I have the reports here, and from the number of the population I draw my own conclusions. If the land had been worth anything, instead of there being only 100 or even 500 people settled there, there would have been a very much larger population at present in that district.
– The land monopolists have secured the land.
– The land monopolists would not touch it because it is not worth having.
– Is that the case with every big area carrying a small population ?
- Senator Millen forgets that this district is in the centre of that well-governed State of New South Wales, which some honorable senators would have us believe is a pattern to the whole of the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to tell him that the average yield of wheat in the district is from 19 to 20 bushels per acre.
– How .many acres in that district are carrying wheat? I remember listening to a speech made by Senator Pearce on this subject some time ago. The honorable senator drew a graphic and harrowing picture of the district. He said it appeared to him that it was something like a battle-field, as it was strewn with the bones of bullocks.
– Wh’at thundering rot.
– The statement is not mine. It was made by Senator Pearce, who is present and can deny it or not as he pleases. The speech was made after Senator Pearce had visited the district.
– I think the honorable senator refers to statements made in a quotation which I used in speaking on the subject. *
– I was under the impression that the honorable senator when he visited the district saw the bleached bones of the bullocks.
– That must be rot, because the country is sheep country, and not cattle country.
– The bones were there anyhow, and it does not matter whether they were the bones of bullocks, of sheep, or of goats. They were the bones of animals that had died from drought. Senator Neild must know that they died because they could not get any water.
– I know that the honorable senator has been stuffed up bv some lying idiot.
– I wish that Senator Neild would cease making such interjections. They are not very courteous, and I ask him to refrain from making them.
– I am telling Senator Neild a few home truths about this favourite Capital site of his, and he does not appear to relish them. I believe it. to be my duty in the interests of the people to let them know exactly what they are getting for their money.
– They are not paying anv money.
– The site will cost them a very sweet sum before the necessary works are all finished.
– According to one of the reports the cost is estimated at £130,000.
– There is another reason why I voted for Dalgety on a previous occasion. If that site were selected the Commonwealth would have an excellent port at which we could establish an arsenal, and where the Commonwealth fleet could ride with safety. The port would give us direct access to our Capital without let or hindrance from any of the States. One of my objections to the selection of the territory at Yass-Canberra is that it does not provide for a suitable Commonwealth port.
– It provides for a very much better one than Twofold Bav. The British Fleet goes into Jervis Bay occasionally.
– The whole of the expert evidence with regard to Jervis Bay is in complete contradiction to what the honorable senator has said. I refer honorable senators in this matter to Senator Guthrie, who knows something about such things.
– And who is quite unbiased, of course.
– I should imagine that the honorable senator is quite unbiased. I would ask him to say whether Jervis Bay provides safe anchorage for vessels.
– Of course it does.
– I have read differently.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Twofold Bay?
– I ask Senator Stewart not to reply to that interjection, because we are not considering the relative merits of Twofold Bay and Jervis Bay.
– So far as I can learn Jervis Bay is a wide open bay, with little or no protection for ships in rough weather. An area of only two square miles at Jervis Bay is to be handed over to theCommonwealth.
– And the State is to retain everything between low and high water mark.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator is wrong as usual.
– I refer the honorable senator to the agreement.
– The Commonwealth is now laying the foundation of an Australian fleet. What accommodation could possibly be found in a small area such as that described for a fleet of any dimensions, for such a fleet as we hope theCommonwealth will have in the days to come? The Commonwealth will have not only a fleet of ships of war, but, I hope and believe, a fleet of merchantmen. It is extremely desirable that it should have its own harbor entirely independent of any influence which might be brought to bear by a State Government. If the State Governments of the future are to take up a position as hostile to the Commonwealth as that assumed by the present State Government, it will be a case of God help the Commonwealth unless we can now secure for it an ample territory for its Capital site, a sufficient area for its railway connexions and a good harbor. Under the old arrangement proposed the idea was that the railway between the Capital site and the port should be throughout in Federal territory. Under the arrangement now proposed the railway is to be constructed over territory owned by the State of New Sbuth Wales. Only a narrow strip of land is to be handed over to the Commonwealth. I do not think that such an arrangement is in the interests of the people. For this reason, also, I intend to oppose the Bill. I might bring forward a number of other reasons if I thought it necessary, but those I have given seem to me to be more than sufficient to condemn the Yass-Canberra site in the eyes of any man who desires to see such a Capital established in Australia as will effectively meet the needs of the population which undoubtedly we shall have in this Commonwealth within the next 100 years. The land proposed for our acceptance at Yass-Canberra is not suitable. We could undertake no agricultural experiments there.
– The land is the best available.
– I tell Senator W. Russell that we should have the best land in New South Wales if the Commonwealth is to be a guide in agricultural experiments and in other directions. Instead, the Government of New South Wales offer us one of the worst areas in the State.
– A great deal of the land is worth £5 an acre.
– Some of it might be worth £5 an acre, but so far as my information goes there is- very little of it that is worth anything like that. The quality of the land is not what it ought to be. We should have the very best land available, if, as I say, the Commonwealth is to be a guide in agricultural experiments. If we are to have anything to do with irrigation or manufacturing, and if there is to be a large population settled at the Seat of Government, we must have an adequate water supply. Some honorable senators appear to have come to the conclusion that during the next thirty or forty years there will not be more than 10,000 or 15,000 people at the Seat of Government. Senator Walker lived in an inland town in Queensland thirty” or forty years ago which at the time contained only a few hundred people, and today it has a population approaching 20,000.
– Including the area around it.
– It has a good area around it, and we should have a good area surrounding the site of the Federal Capital. Whilst I have never been one of those who believe that the Federal Capital will contain a large population, I think it within the bounds of possibility that its people may number at least 50,000 within the next fifty years, and ample provision should be made for such a population.
– When the large estates are broken up the people will have a chance.
– If there are large estates in the Yass-Canberra district they ought to be broken up, and I hope that they will be in the near future. I have said that there are many, other reasons I might give, but I think that I have advanced sufficient from my point of view to justify me in voting against the second reading of the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Walker) adjourned.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (VictoriaMinister of Trade and Customs) [5.39]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will be aware that under paragraph xiv. of section 51 of the Constitution this Parliament is given power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned.
Senator Sir ROBERT . BEST.Honorable senators will see that the Commonwealth possesses very wide powers in that connexion. The Bill comes to us with the strongest possible recommendation. It deals only with marine insurance, and is an adaptation of the English Marine Insurance Act of 1906, which codified the law on the subject. The Bill on which the British Act is founded was drafted by one of the most eminent draftsmen, namely, Sir M. D. Chalmers. He was also the draftsman of the Bills of Sale Act, the Sale of Goods Act, and the Partnership Act, which have been adopted by some of the States. A copy of the Bills of Sale Act in the form of a codifying measure was introduced into this Chamber by Senator Keating. The measure which is now under consideration also underwent a most searching scrutiny during the twelve years prior to 1906. It was originally introduced into the Imperial -Parliament in 1894. It was re-introduced in 1896, and again in 1899 and 1900, but it was not until 1906 that it was ultimately passed into law. Honorable senators will therefore recognise that it has been subjected to an extraordinary scrutiny. In adapting the Act to Australia, very few departures have been made from the- text, but some little difference has been made in the arrangement of the clauses. The main departures from the English Act may be briefly summarized. From clause 4 of the Bill which is founded upon section 41 of the English Act, the provisions of sub-section 1 have been omitted as being inapplicable. Clause 5 of the measure is based upon section 92 of the British Act. That section repealed certain old Imperial Acts which apparently still apply to Australia. As it is doubtful whether the Parliament can directly repeal them, this provision has been drafted to prevent their application, and several State Acts have been dealt with in the clause in a similar fashion. Clause 95 of the Bill is section 89 of the English Act; and the English section is considerably modified in the Bill, although the effect is the same. The reason for the difference is that there is no stamp duty under Commonwealth law. The Bill purports to embody in the statute law the leading principles which have been deduced from some two thousand cases. Clause 6 states -
The rules of the common law, including the law merchant, save in so far as they are inconsistent with the express provisions of this Act, shall apply to contracts of marine insurance.
We declare the law, so far as it is known, in so many sections, but other portions of the common law that are not dealt with remain intact. Clause 7 is ‘as follows–
A contract of marine insurance is a contract whereby the insurer undertakes to indemnify the assured, in manner and to the extent thereby agreed, against marine losses, that is to say, he losses incident to marine adventure.
In a subsequent clause “ Marine adventure” and “ Maritime perils “ are defined very fully. Clause 23 is -
A contract of marine insurance is a contract based upon the utmost good faith, and, if the utmost good faith be not observed by either party, the contract may be avoided by the other party.
Clause 24, sub-clause 1, provides - (1.) Subject to the provisions of this section, the assured must disclose to the insurer, before the contract is concluded, every material circumstance which is known to the assured, and the assured is deemed to know every circumstance which, in the ordinary course of business, ought to be known by him. If the assured fails to make such disclosure, the insurer may avoid the contract.
The clause goes on tq qualify that position to some extent. There is one clause I did not specially refer to as being a departure from the English Act. Sub-clause i of clause 31 is as follows - (1.) Where the contract is to insure the subjectmatter “at and from,” or from one place to another place or to other places, the policy is called a “ voyage policy,” and where the contract is to insure the subject-matter for a definite period of time the policy is called a “ time policy.” A contract for both voyage »nd time may be included in the same policy.
Sub-clause 2 provides -
A time policy which is made for any time exceeding twelve months is invalid. tn this sub-clause there is a slight deviation from the English Act. We have added a proviso taken from the English Finance Act, as follows-
Provided that a time policy may contain an agreement to the effect that, in the event of the ship being at sea or the voyage being otherwise not completed on the expiration of the policy, the subject-matter of the insurance shall e held covered until the arrival of the ship at tier destination, or for a reasonable time thereafter not exceeding thirty days; and the policy shall not be invalid on the ground only that by reason of such agreement it may become available for a period exceeding twelve months.
I do not think it necessary to deal further with the Bill, which, as I say, is really a transcript of the English measure. This Bill will commend itself to the Senate as a distinct advance in marine insurance law, which, at the present time in Australia, is in a very complicated condition. The measure will largely assist to clarify the law and bring about uniform legislation throughout the Commonwealth.
– It -appears to me that this Bill represents a very useful and interesting step in the progress of Federation. We ought to be grateful that we have not to take up this very difficult and intricate subject for ourselves, but that we are able to copy an English Act. which has been prepared by the most skilled men. I have had a discussion on the subject of the Bill with a gentleman who is well acquainted with every phase of mercantile insurance, and, from what he says, it is a satisfactory measure. It is really a copy of the English Act, varied slightly to suit Australian circumstances. Senator Guthrie asked bv interjection whether copies of the Bill had been sent to the Seamen’s Union. It should be an understood thing with all
Governments that copies of Bills should be sent to all associations likely to be interested, whether the associations be of employers or’ employes. From each and every person interested we may get valuable information and suggestions; but, at the same time, we must remember that there are always- representatives of unions and associations in Parliament. Senator Guthrie himself represents the seamen.
– Nothing of the kind ; I represent South Australia.
– The honorable senator has a representative position in connexion with the seamen, and it is in his power to send the union copies of the Bill. Perhaps the honorable senator has already done so.
– - Just as Senator Pulsford sends copies of Bills to the Chambers of Commerce.
– -The Government send the copies to the Chambers of Commerce.
– I often send copies of Bills to the Sydney Chamber of Commerce without waiting to ascertain whether the Government have done so ; and a senator so closely allied with the seamen’s interest as is Senator Guthrie, should take similar steps in regard to the Seamen’s Union. The Bill was introduced in September last year, and since then a Labour Government has been in power, and possibly saw that copies of the Bill were sent to the Seamen’s Union. In any case it should be understood that copies of Bills should be sent to all’ bodies who are interested.
– I do not know that copies were not sent to the Seamen’s Union.
– I know that copies were not sent.
– The Bill was introduced thirteen months ago, so that there has been ample time to look after the interests of the seamen; but if Senator Guthrie is able to lay before us any suggestions for improvement in the measure we’ shall be only too pleased to consider them.
– I did not know that this motion was to be submitted this afternoon, and I have not had much time - to peruse the Bill ; but I understand that it is entirely in accord with the recent English legislation. I notice that clause 17 provides -
The master or any member of the crew of a ship has an insurable interest in respect of his wages.
Then clause 91 sets forth: - (1.) Where two or more persons mutually agree to insure each other against marine losses there is said to be a mutual insurance. (2.) The provisions of this Act relating to the premium do not apply to mutual insurance, but a guarantee, or such other arrangement as may be agreed upon, may be substituted for the premium.
I hope that Senator Guthrie will see that there is ample provision in regard to seamen under the Bill.
– I am net raising that point.
– I am glad to hear that, because I am not aware that any other difficulty has been raised. I shall give the Bill my hearty support.
– There is no doubt that a considerable amount of labour was bestowed on the English measure, which was hung up for a time owing to the absence of the draftsman in India. This Bill does not propose any new legislation, but is simply a codification of the law of Great Britain. The old law was that a man could gamble as much as he liked in insurances.
– Clause 10 of this Bill declares against that.
-Is that a new provision, or merely a statement of the old practice?
– It means what it says.
– Sub-clause 2 says -
A contract of marine insurance is deemed to be a gaming or wagering contract -
Take the case of the Waratah which is missing to-day. Men must have had an interest in that vessel when she sailed. But what has happened since that event? Some men have taken risks in the ship who had absolutely no interest in her. There is just as much gambling in insurances to-day as there is on the Flemington race-course.
– Sub-clause 1 says thatevery contract of marine insurance by way of gaming or wagering is void.”
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me thatall those who took out an insurance in the Waratah after she was reported to be missing, had an insurable interest inher ?
– If it was gaming or wagering the policy would be void.
– The question is, What is an insurable interest?
– If they had no insurable interest in the Waratah the policy is void quite apart from this legislation.
– It is not void. Those who have taken out an insurance will be paid when the Waratah is declared to have gone, and yet they had no interest in the ship or her cargo.
– It is taking the chance of the Waratah being lost or saved. It is a pure gamble.
– In my opinion it is.
– Clause 10 of this Bill declares a contract of that kind to be void.
– The English Act of 1906 contains a similar provision, and yet the practice is carried on. One of the greatest complaints that seamen make is that gaming risks are taken in ships which are missing. I only asked for an adjournment of the debate to enable me to look further into the matter. I believe that the Bill as framed will not prevent persons who have no interest in a ship from taking out insurances in her.
– If the honorable senator says directly the opposite to that which is in the clause, I have nothing to add.
– Does not the Minister know from the press that in spite of the Imperial Act of 1906 these risks are being laid off to-day?
– Wagering on the streets is illegal, but it is done.
– Exactly. Notwithstanding the law ships have been reinsured and insurances have been taken out bv persons who had no interest in the ships.
– That is quite right.
– Is not that gaming?
– Not necessarily.
– If I have no risk in a ship or her cargo, and, believing that there is a chance of her turning up, take over an insurance from somebody who had a risk in her, is not that an act of gaming on my part?
– The policy is issued in good faith.
– Clause n, which defines an insurable interest, makes it absolutely clear that a man who has an insurable interest, although he has no interest in the ship or her cargo, can gamble as much as he likes about her. So far as I recollect, the Imperial Parliament did not attempt to alter the law, but simply codified it. The whole point is, Are we going to follow that example, or attempt to remedy an existing evil ?
– Does the honorable senator wish to prevent re-insurances?
– I do. I desire to prevent any one from taking a gambling chance as to whether a ship will reach her next port or not.
– This Bill does stop it.
– No. The honorable senator can go down to the office of an insurance company to-morrow and get ^100 worth of insurance on the Mary Jane, bound for Hobart, although he has no interest in the ship or her cargo.
– Does the honorable senator mean as an underwriter?
– No, as a private individual. In this Bill it is pretended that there shall be no gambling in risks. Is. it right that when men have to stake their lives, others should be able to benefit by the loss of those lives?
– How does the Bill affect them?
– It may affect them in a hundred and one ways.
– How can the mere making of that policy affect the safety or otherwise of the ship?
– The honorable senator knows quite well that in some cases it has paid the owner of a ship better to lose her than that she should reach a port.
– The Waratah was practically lost before the policies to which the honorable senator refers were taken out.
– The honorable senator means to say that she was overdue.
– What does the re-insurance of that ship or her cargo in London or Durban matter to those on board ?
– Except to make people more anxious to find her.
– No; it enables speculators to gamble. If the Minister had agreed to an adjournment of the debate, it would have offered me an opportunity to go into the matter more closely. At the week end I had not with me the necessary books to look up the law. Clause 31 proposes a very considerable departure from the Imperial Act, but why I do not know ? It provides for voyage and time policies. I do not see the necessity for extending a time policy, but in the case of a voyage policy I do. A voyage policy applies, of course, to a voyage from, say, this port to another port and back. In the case of a time policy, it is not necessary that a ship should be here in order to re-insure her. The English Act does not provide for a- month’s grace.
– It does. The provision to which the honorable senator is referring is taken from the Finance Act, which is the English law.
– The corresponding provision in the English Act reads -
Where the contract is to insure the subjectmatter at and from or from one place to another or others, the policy is called a “ voyage-policy,” and when the contract is to insure the subjectmatter for a definite period of time the policy is called a “ time policy.” A contract for both voyage and time may be included in the same policy.
Subject to the provisions of section eleven of the Finance Act 1901 a time policy which is made for any time exceeding twelve months is invalid.
The provision in this Bill is in absolute conflict with the provision in the English Act, which lays it down that no time policy shall exceed twelve months.
– Not at all. This clause is a re-enactment of the provision in the Imperial Act.
– No ; sub-clause 2 reads -
A time policy which is made for any time exceeding twelve months is invalid. Provided that a time policy may contain an agreement to the effect that, in the event of the ship being at sea or the voyage being otherwise not completed on the expiration of the policy, the subject-matter of the insurance shall be held covered until the arrival of the ship at her destination, or for a reasonable time thereafter, not exceeding thirty days; and the policy shall not be invalid on the ground only that by reason of such agreement it may. become available for a period exceeding twelve months.
Why it should be extended for thirty days I cannot understand.
– What book was the honorable senator quoting from?
– I was quoting from Pitman’s Encyclopedia of Marine Law, in which the English Act appears as an appendix.
– I have only to repeat that this provision is taken from the Finance Act which is the English law.
– I think it would have been far better if the clause had been worded exactly the same as the provision in the English Act.
– Speaking from memory, I think it is.
– The nearer we can keep to the verbiage of the provision in the English Act the better it will be for us. There is another question affecting seamen very much which I wish to raise, and that is the question of salvage. Where two ships belonging to different owners are concerned there is no trouble, because the case is taken into Court and the Judge decides what salvage each crew is entitled to receive. But in a case of salvage between two ships belonging to or chartered by the same owners the Court is not appealed to, and the seamen are not allowed salvage.
– Should they be ?
– I think so. A man who is called upon to become a salvor when his agreement is only to take the ship from port to port ought to be entitled to salvage. When a man is entitled to salvage in the case of ships belonging to separate owners, why should he not be equally entitled to salvage in the case of ships belonging to the same owners? This is not at all a new question. It has been raised of late years, and yet it is not dealt with in this Bill. I think that a provision ought to be made for recognising the services of men when they are called upon to run extra risk and dangers, although the ships may belong to the same owners.
– I think that Senator Guthrie is unnecessarily alarmed. With regard to those insurance transactions which are very properly called gambling, he failed to show how they could be stopped. He may rest assured that insurance contracts by way of gambling are against the law and cannot be enforced. The Government were quite right in notputting in the Bill fancy provisions carrying out the aspiration to stop gambling. If Senator Guthrie, who has made a special study of this subject from the seamen’s point of view, could only show a justification for the Government trying to’ prohibit gambling on the loss of ships we would be inclined to. listen to him. So far as I understand the Bill such contracts will not be enforceable. Any one who goes in for that kind of insurance contract can have no remedy under its provisions. “ My honorable friend will only overload the measure if he tries to stop that particular form of gambling. Any person of common sense knows that it is not possible to stop gambling either on horse-racing or in this form.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause i agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 15th October, (vide page 4619), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read’ a second time.
.- With one exception, I was somewhat disappointed with the speeches which have been delivered on the second reading of this Bill.
– I think the matter is of sufficient importance to make it desirable that we should have a quorum present before the honorable senator begins his speech. [Quorum formed.]
– I ought at once to congratulate Senator McColl on the exceedingly interesting speech he has delivered. The honorable senator is also deserving of our thanks for the large amount of information on agricultural questions which he has brought to us as the result of his visit to America. It may be only a peculiar coincidence, but it is noteworthy that the Queensland Government has only recently withdrawn the offer of a reward of .£10,000 for the discovery of an effective method of destroying prickly pear, which in that State is regarded as a very great pest. The offer remained open for a number of years, but the reward was never claimed. Senator McColl’s paper on the uses to which prickly pear might be put had scarcely reached the hands of the Queensland Government before the offer of the reward to which I have referred was withdrawn. I have no definite information on the subject, but I think it is probable that the information which Senator McColl derived in America on the subject may have led the Queensland Government to take the action they have taken in withdrawing their offer. A criticism passed by Senator Henderson on the Bill before the Senate was to the effect that it is undesirable that we should duplicate the work of the State Agricultural Departments. There may be duplication and duplication, and if I thought for a moment that it was intended under this Bill to establish a Federal Bureau to do exactly the same work as that which is now being done by the State Agricultural Departments, I should be against it. I believe that aFederal Bureau is capable of doing a great deal more than is being done by the State Departments. I can give some illustrations which should make the point clear. For instance, at one time sugar-growers had to contend with what was known as gumming disease in cane, and it was met with, not only in Queensland, but in the sugar districts of New South Wales. Dr. Cobb, in New South Wales, and Mr. Tryon, in Queensland, devoted a considerable amount of time to separate investigations of the nature of this disease. It will be admitted that it would have been very much more economical for both States concerned if one man had been appointed to carry out the investigation in both Queensland and New South Wales. It is obvious that the conclusions arrived at by Dr. Cobb upon his investigation of the disease in New South Wales did not necessarily hold good when applied to the disease as it existed in Queensland. Honorable senators will see that if that investigation had been undertaken by an official of the Federal Bureau, there would have been no duplication of the work, but a coordination of it, which would have made the investigation of greater value and more complete than the investigation which could be carried out by any State Department.
– Under existing arrangements, if the Agricultural Department of New South Wales makes an investigation into any disease, South Australia is given the benefit of the investigation.
– I have no doubt that if a Spaniard discovered a remedy for the Mediterranean fruit-fly in Spain, the discovery would be of value in dealing with the same fly in Victoria. The statement that South Australia benefits from investigation made by the New South Wales Agricultural Department may be true, but I go further, and say that, in connexion with research abroad, the expense should be borne by the whole of the people of Australia, in view of the fact that residents in every part of the Commonwealth would derive benefit from it. When the tick pest was introduced into Queensland from the Northern Territory, the first thing that the Queensland Government did was to despatch scientists, Dr. Hunt and Mr. Collins, to the Argentine Republic and the Southern States of America, at a cost of£ 1,500. They carried out a large amount of research work within the State as well, and, while I do not say that research work on the part of State Departments should cease, I do contend that the work of conducting scientific research in other parts of the world to ascertain the best means of coping with diseases and pests that threaten the whole of Australia is one which a Commonwealth Department might more appropriately take in hand.
– Why should not the State Departments do this work?
– It is work which could more appropriately be undertaken by the officials of a Commonwealth Department. If they were accredited by the Commonwealth Government, they would be in a better position to make inquiries and to secure information abroad than would be the representative of any single State.
– That is an argument for taking over all the functions of the Governments of the States.
– I am not suggesting that we should take over investigation within a State. I am referring now to investigations conducted abroad for the benefit of the whole of Australia. Senator Henderson is aware that for several years past the State of Western Australia has had an official travelling all over the world in the endeavour to discover a parasite for the fruit-fly pest. That is work which a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau might well undertake for the benefit of the whole of Australia. The fruit fly is not peculiar to Western Australia, and yet the authorities of the other States do nothing in the matter, whilst Western Australia is doing this work for the benefit of the whole of the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable senator not aware of the fact that the agricultural experts of the different States have met, and are opposed to this Bill, and that Mr. Deakin promised that he would not go further with it?
– Can the honorable senator prove that statement?
– I can.
– I am in a position to contradict it flatly.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows, that the Government are not in earnest in connexion with this Bill.
– I should like to be permitted to say what I have to say on the Bill without being interrupted by conversations across the chamber.- .. I have said that there may be duplication and duplication, and in connexion with some matters we could not have too much duplication. I refer to efforts to discover remedies for pests or diseases in vegetable or animal life. We are aware that nearly all the great scientific discoveries have in each case been first made. by only one of a number of persons who have for a lengthened period been conducting investigations along similar lines.
– Does the honorable senator dream that the State Governments would be prepared to transfer these functions to the Commonwealth Government and be subject to the decisions of the Federal Bureau?
– Although Senator Henderson has interrupted me frequently since I began my speech, he cannot have been listening to what I said, or he would have heard me say that if I thought that the Federal Bureau would carry out the same work as that which is now being carried out by the State Departments, I should not be prepared to support the Bill. I admit the importance of investigations for the benefit of the agricultural industry, but there are other directions in which I think it is highly desirable that a scientific staff, under the control of the Commonwealth Government, might carry on independent investigations. Senator de Largie suggested that instead of establishing a Federal Agricultural Bureau, we should establish a farm, on which the unemployed might be taught agriculture. I assume that the honorable senator intended that several experimental farms should be established, but if they were we should be at once faced with the necessity for providing scientific officials to control those farms and to impart the teaching. The honorable senator’s argument, therefore, was one of the strongest that could be advanced in support of the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau. Senator W. Russell confined himself to an explanation of the excellent work done by the South Australian Agricultural Department. I am not prepared to deny that the
State Departments have done excellent work, but that appears to me to be no reason why another agency for good should not be brought into the field. Senator Pearce, by way of interjection, told the Senate that there was nothing in this measure. I should like here to say that I do not exactly know why the Bill has been introduced, for the simple reason that I do not think its introduction was necessary. We have established a Bureau of Statistics and other Federal Departments without Parliament being consulted, and I take it that the reason for the introduction of a Bill to establish this particular Department was to give members of this Parliament an opportunity to say whether they considered its establishment desirable. Apart from the absence of necessity for the introduction of the Bill, I have some objection to the terms used in it. I do not know why we should have gone to the United States to discover the word “ Bureau “ in order to designate a Commonwealth Department. The Bill appears to me to follow very much the outline of the first Bill introduced in America dealing with the subject. The Government appear to have ignored the fact that other branches of useful work might be carried on under such a Bill, and, as the measure has been framed, if we discover some new department of work to which the Agricultural Bureau might be asked to devote its attention, it might be necessary to pass a new Act. A good deal has been said about the work of the American Agricultural ‘Bureau. Many people are under the impression that that Department, which has grown in a marvellous manner to be one of the finest Departments, of the kind in the whole world, was only recently established. That is not the case. It was started in a half-hearted way in 1839. At that time, the expenditure on the Department was only ,£40,000 per year, and as late as 1888 the expenditure was only ^250,000. It is only since that date that the American Department has made remarkable progress. Between 1888 and 1906, the expenditure on the Department has increased by ,£1,000,000. It was £250,000 in 1888. and it is now £1,250,000. I refer to the matter to show that only lately extensive scientific investigation has been carried on in connexion with that Department. It must be realized that we cannot compare the Agricultural Departments in. our States with the American Department of rather more than twenty years ago.
Up to a comparatively recent date, the American Department did little worth talking about in connexion with agricultural investigation. We can turn to other parts of the world to learn the extent to which the necessity for scientific investigation in agriculture is recognised. I refer honorable senators to what is taking place iri Rhodesia, a comparatively empty country, and in which there are not more than 15,000 white people. There is a total of only about 500,000 acres cultivated in Rhodesia, and the work is almost entirely carried on by coloured people. I was in communication with the Secretary to the Agricultural Department of that country; and only by the last mail I received a letter from him, in which he tells me that they) are re-organizing the whole of the Departments. They have now a Director of Agriculture, a Secretary of Agriculture, a Botanist, an Entomologist, a Chemist, and, of course, a number of junior officers.
– We have all these various officers in our State Departments.
– I am pointing out what it has been considered wise to do in Rhodesia. In that country, in which there are comparatively few white people, and where agriculture is almost in its infancy, the authorities consider it worth while to spend a large amount of money in the endeavour to advance the agricultural industry. Another aspect of the matter in connexion with the relations of the Commonwealth and the States, might be alluded to. Senator Henderson is, apparently, under the impression that there is a tendency on the part of the Commonwealth Government to duplicate work at present being done by the States.
– To build up unnecessary Departments.
– Let me tell honorable senators that one of the first things done by the Agricultural Department of the United States was to grant land to the States on which to establish experimental stations. They recognised, in connexion with scientific agriculture, the importance of local experiments, and therefore encouraged the establishment of local experimental stations and local investigation: In Queensland, in connexion with the sugar industry,’ and in a lesser degree, in con,nexion with other industries, similar action has been found necessary. Certain experimental stations have been established there which are mainly devoted to investigations in connexion with the growth of sugar ; but it has also been found advisable to induce private persons to establish local experimental stations, in order that experience may be gained of local conditions. Farmers manage these experimental stations, under the control of the Head of the Agricultural Department. Honorable senators will see from this that it has been found necessary in Queensland, even in connexion with the State Agricultural Department, to decentralize experiments in connexion with agriculture.
– That is being done in all of the States.
– That only emphasizes what I say. Honorable senators who are opposing the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau because of the existence of State Agricultural Departments, might just as strongly argue that the State Departments should be done away with, because it has been found necessary to decentralize their work by putting some of it into the hands of private persons. The Commonwealth Government are at the present time practically without any scientific staff.
– They have no land.
– It is not necessary to have land in order to conduct investigations in connexion, for example, with the bubonic plague. We have taken over the Quarantine Department; and if we require to conduct any scientific investigations in connexion with that Department, we are obliged to have recourse to the services of State officials. To take another instance, honorable senators will admit that, under the Commerce Act, we are obliged to take advantage of the services of State experts in carrying out that measure. I am not certain whether the Commonwealth has control of the export of plants, but certainly it is undesirable that we should export diseases to other countries. It is not many years since the Hawaiian Islands became affected with disease consequent upon the importation of sugar cane from Queensland. As a result the sugar industry in those islands was threatened with destruction. A vegetable pathologist, however, was called in. who traced the disease to the cane which had been imported from Queensland. He secured the parasite which was requisite to prevent the disease from spreading, assiduously cultivated it, and thus the entire crop was saved. This circumstance illustrates what can be achieved by scientific investigation.
– Nobody will deny that statement, so that the honorable senator’s argument is fruitless.
– It is not fruitless. My honorable friend is like a good many other Conservatives. He is prepared to say, “ Do not let us go any further than I am willing to go.”
– Does the honorable senator desire the Commonwealth to exercise control over everything relating to agriculture ?
– A Bureau of Agriculture would be of very great importance in connexion with the future development of the Northern Territory. I trust that the Commonwealth will acquire that Territory at no distant date.
– This Bill may be useful by-and-by ; but it is of no service at the present juncture.
– The Northern Territory will provide the Commonwealth with an excellent field for agricultural experiments. It is difficult to say exactly how much the Agricultural Departments of the different States are now spending.
– Over£250,000 annually.
– As the result of inquiry, I have ascertained that the expenditure of the States in this connexion is not all incurred upon the same basis. In some instances the expenditure upon forestry is included under this heading, whilst in others it is not. The total expenditure, however, cannot be regarded as extravagant. Many complaints have been made as to the overworking of the present scientific staff. I need scarcely mention the case of the Government Entomologist of Queensland in this connexion. A Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture would be able to do excellent work in case of disputes arising between State experts. In such an event, the opinion of the Commonwealth officer would probably be accepted by both sides. For example, some time ago very stringent restrictions were imposed upon certain Queensland fruits, with a view to preventing the introduction into Victoria of the Queensland fruitfly. The experts differed upon the question, the Queensland official urging that the pest in Victoria was the Mediterranean fruit-fly, and the Victorian expert alleging that it was the Queensland fruit-fly. Each officer adhered to his opinion, but it is noteworthy that, since the Victorian Government Entomologist visited North Queensland, and made an investigation into the matter, the restrictions which were formerly imposed have been considerably modified.
– What would the honorable senator do in case of conflict between the Commonwealth expert and the State expert?
– There is no necessity for any such conflict. If a dispute should arise between State experts, the very fact that the Commonwealth has an expert of its own would be of great value. Nothing could better illustrate my point in this connexion than the position which exists to-day in regard to the potato blight. Only the other day I read in the press the statement that New South Wales was deliberately prohibiting the importation of potatoes from the other States, with a view to enabling its own growers to reap enormous profits. I do not know whether it is necessary to enlarge upon the profits which have accrued from agricultural scientific investigation. The wonderful results which have been obtained by Sir J. B. Lawes, in England, in connexion with the beet industry are well worth recalling. A similar investigation was carried on by Vilmorin, a French chemist. In a little more than half-a-century, the quality of the beet has been so improved that the industry is now worth £100,000,000 a year. Honorable senators will also recollect the case of the San Jose scale, in Florida. There the whole of the orange groves were threatened with extinction by reason of the spread of a particular scale. Thereupon, the American Government sent out Mr. Koebele, a celebrated entomologist, who discovered, in Australia, a certain ladybird which was death to this particular parasite. This ladybird was introduced and cultivated, with the result that in less than eighteen months the gigantic orange industry of Florida was saved. It is also worth remembering that, in Canada, as the result of careful selection of seed, wheat is now being grown 120 miles further north than it was ever grown before. One of the very best works undertaken by the United States has been the publication of a. book called the Bulletin of Experiment Stations. That book, which is published quarterly, is edited by the Bureau of Agriculture at Washington, and contains a summary of all the experiments conducted in the United States and other parts of the world. It is a work of the greatest value, and one which will amply repay perusal.
– That work could be undertaken by the Government Statistician.
– My honorable friend expects the Government Statistician to be, not only a statistician, but also a pathologist and entomologist. In the matter of foreign communications, a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau would have a much better chance of commanding attention than would Departments which are controlled by the States. I have been interested in agricultural matters for the past thirty years, and I am keenly desirous of seeing this Bureau established. This measure has the greatest possibilities for Australia in connexion with not only agricultural, but other scientific investigations which are being undertaken, and I hope to see it passed by both Houses before the end of the session.
– If the Bill has the great possibilities to which Senator- Chataway alluded, all I can say is that .they are concealed very carefully, because the most careful scrutiny has failed to reveal them. We have had several learned disquisitions -on the importance of the science of agriculture, and of aids to agriculture, but “surely they are hardly necessary at this time of day. Surely we are not quite so backward or conservative that we would deny the existence of what we see all around us. I suppose that every honorable senator can think of not one, but numerous instances in his own State, where the application of better scientific methods has led to an enormous increase in the yields of various crops. I do not think that we need discuss, that phase of the question. Have we arrived at a stage when it is necessary and advisable that there should be a Bureau of Agriculture, and if we are of opinion that it should be established now, do the Government propose to do that in a proper manner? I am not convinced that we have yet reached the stage when we should have such a Bureau. I quite agree that there are many matters and many investigations that a Federal Bureau could undertake which none of the State Bureaux can adequately undertake. But there are certain things which must precede the establishment of a Federal Bureau. If we are to have a Federal Bureau it cannot be started in an office. It will have to be associated with an experimental station or stations.
– Not necessarily.
– I think that that will be found necessary before the Bureau has been in existence very long. Certainly, it has been found necessary in the United
States. The Bill contains no provision in that regard. Furthermore, until a Federal Bureau is established, we can have no headquarters, where its real work could be begun. When we look through the Bill what do we . find ? The first two clauses simply declare that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture. Clause 3 sets out what its duties shall be. Clause 4 simply says that the Bureau is empowered to co-operate with the States- -a thing which hardly needed saying, I think, because not only would it be empowered to co-operate with the States, but I venture to say that there is no Bureau in any part of the world which independently of any Act of Parliament, would not be most willing to help the cause of knowledge.
– Does not that clause answer the honorable senator’s previous argument about the necessity for a Bureau?
– I do not think that it satisfactorily disposes of it. Of course, what is proposed can be carried out in this way, but it is not a satisfactory mode of dealing with the matter. Clause 5 provides for the presentation of a report, while clause 6 deals with regulations. Can any honorable senator point to a single clause which tells us what the Bureau is to be ? In his second-reading speech, the Minister quoted very largely from America, and several other honorable senators followed his example. I regret that America’s example was not followed in framing the Bill. If his ‘officers had turned up the American legislation on the subject they would have seen that it contained the framework of a Bureau of Agriculture. When Congress was asked to legislate on the subject, it was furnished with a sketch of what the proposed Bureau was to be, of whom it was to be composed, the nature of their duties, and the scopeof their investigations.
– Would the honor:orable senator go further than the Government?
– If I did not I would not go very far, because, in my opinion, all that the Government are asking the Senate to do is to assent to a proposition that a Bureau of Agriculture should be established, leaving it to the Minister to determine what it shall be.
– Leaving it to the Senate to determine on the Appropriation Bill.
– Does the Minister say that this Bill is to be followed this session by an Appropriation Bill ? I do not think that he will say that. Are we to wait until the next Appropriation Bill is submitted, because the present Estimates contain a vote of simply £25°* which he told us was not intended for the purposes of this Bill ?
– It has nothing to do with the Bill.
– There is nothing to indicate what the Government are asking us to commit ourselves to. I was very much pleased with the speech of Senator W. Russell, because he is a farmer. I venture to say that those who listened to his address will agree with me that he is a farmer with progressive ideas. The way in which he outlined the progress made in his own branch of farming was, I am sure, very educational to the Senate. I was specially pleased to hear a farmer speaking on the subject from the Labour benches. Honorable senators, one after the other, have been quoting America. In a very long and learned disquisition, Senator McColl quoted sheaves of notes as to what had been .done in that country. But the very foundation of the American Bureau is absent from this proposal. In reply to some interjections from this side, including some from myself, the Minister said, “We are not going to start from where America is to-day, but from where it started.” Are we to disregard the progress which America has made, and all its experience, commence at bed-rock, and gradually build up?
– Would the honorable senator propose to start with the same annual appropriation as America makes today - £1,500,000 ?
– Proportionately to our population we are doing as much in connexion with this subject as America is doing. At the present time it is spending through its Central Bureau and all its agencies about £400,000 a year.
– A great deal more than that.
– According to a “ Historical Sketch of the United States Department of Agriculture; its Objects and Present Organization,” compiled by Charles H. Greathouse. Division of Publications, ‘under direction of George William Hill, Chief of Division of Publications, and issued from the Government Printing Office, at Washington, in 1898, the expenditure for 1897 amounted to $2,146,044.
– In the last year foi which, figures are available, the appropriation was £i,435jI98.
– That is a tremendous increase in ten years, but I am prepared to take those figures. Reckoning their population at 80,000,000 persons, which is twenty times as great as our population, and taking the annual expenditure of our States at about £300,000, the expenditure in Australia is proportionately greater than the expenditure in America.
– What are the States in America spending individually ?
– My impression is that the States are not spending a very great deal, and that the Federal Bureau has practically taken up the bulk of the work.
– Can the honorable senator tell us what the States were doing when the Federal Bureau was started in America ?
– I do not know.
– I think that the honorable senator will find that they were doing little or nothing.
– At that time, little was done anywhere, I think. The Department of Agriculture was established by an Act of Congress, approved by President Lincoln, on the 15th May, 1862. Section 2 reads -
And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a “ Commissioner of Agriculture,” who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Agriculture, who shall hold his office by a tenure similar to that of other civil officers appointed by the President, and who shall receive for his compensation a salary of three thousand dollars per annum.
The Act defines the duties of the Commissioner and his officers. The Department was made an Executive office of the first rank, under a law approved by President Cleveland, on the 9th February, 1899. This historical sketch gives the law dealing with that matter. Then a Bureau of Animal Industry was established as an integral branch of Departmental activity by a law approved on the 29th May, 1884. In three sections the scope of that branch is outlined, and the law contains no less than seven sections, setting out very extensively its duties. Next, the Weather Bureau was transferred from the War Department to the Department of Agriculture, under a law approved on the 1st October, 1890, and containing five or six sections. On the 2nd July, .1862, there was an Act passed allocating certain lands for the purposes of the bureau. On the 2nd March, 1887, an Act was passed appointing certain localities for experimental stations. On the 30th August, 1890, an Act was passed endowing certain agricultural colleges.
– But all these Acts were passed subsequent to the establishment of the bureau 1
– Yes. We are practically asked to start where America started, but I hold that there is no necessity to do that. A well thought-out scheme should be drawn up and submitted to Parliament, so that it can understand what is proposed to be done. Apparently, the Government do not know what they propose to do. The Bill shows on its very face that this is going to be a kind of fishing bureau, and that, as things dawn upon respective Administrations, so they will put on a little here and a little there. We have this advantage over America, that in all our States a certain amount of investigation is carried on. In America nothing was done, and they had to start in a very small way. But we are in a position to know how much we can leave” alone, and in what respects the State bureaux fail. Therefore, we know, or ought to know, what the Federal Department of Agriculture is going to do which the State Departments cannot do. It ought to be made absolutely certain that that is all which the bureau is going to do. Senator W. Russell voiced that objection in a much more succinct fashion when he said he was opposed to the Bill because of the danger of duplication. Every one who has had any experience of Government officers knows that, as soon asa man is put at the head of an office, he at once starts to glorify it. It is of no use to point out to him that the work is being done by somebody else. He says, “We can do it infinitely better.”
– Is that the explanation of the State officials’ objection to the Bill?
– I am not concerned with their objection. I know that in the Home Affairs and Defence Departments an immense amount of duplication is going on, simply because each Department is trying to glorify itself, and refuses to admit that the other can do the work better than it does. That is exactly what will happen with the Bureau of Agriculture unless its lines of action are directly laid down. So surely as it is started with a blank cheque, so to speak, if will be filled up for the utmost amount which its head can get any Minister to sanction.
– But they will have to come to Parliament for the money.
– Yes j but the honorable senator knows how illusory is the control of Parliament over the purse. When the Budget comes forward for consideration here, it is a sacred document. No Government supporter, at the peril of his political life, dare lay his hands upon it, and any attack by a member of the Opposition makes a good rallying cry for the Government. No’ matter what the. virtue of a proposal may be, when it emanates from a member of the Opposition it is discussed as a party question, and not on its merits. That is one of the evils of party Government. What are the features of the United States Bureau? It includes a weather bureau, a bureau of animal industry, a division of gardens and ‘ grounds, a division of chemistry, a division of entomology, a division of statistics, a division of botany, a division of accounts and disbursements, a division of forestry, a division of biological survey, a division of pomology, a division of vegetable physiology and pathology, an office of experiment stations, an office of fibre investigations, a division of publications, an office of road inquiry,, a division of agrostology, a division of soils, a section of foreign markets, a library, and a. museum.
– But four-fifths of those things have no relation to us.
– And everything else is provided for here, except the roads.
– .Does the honorable senator believe that, once a Director of Agriculture is appointed, with that mar’vellous example which has been held up to us for our edification by himself and others, that what was a good thing in America must be a right thing for us, he will not straightaway proceed to organize a Department on these lines? We do not know who will be Director, but we will assume that the bureau will be under a Minister who will have two or three Departments to manage. We shall be landed in a tremendous expenditure, and shall be duplicating much work which is already well done by the State bureaux. That duplication will be carried out at the expense of valuable effort which could have been directed into channels where it was required. In order to ascertain what the States are doing, I looked up Knibbs’ ¥ ear-Book. On page 427, I found the statement that in the Commonwealth we have five colleges, and thirty-three experimental farms. The following particulars are also given : - Total number of students, 649 ; total number of hands employed, 304 ; area under cereals and hay, 3,937 acres; area under fruit trees and vines, 557 acres ; area under ali other crops, 2,653 acres ; total area under crop, 7,147 acres; area of arable land, 13,128 acres; total areas of farms, 45,696 acres. They have 693 horses, 2,079 cattle, 11,395 sheep, and 1,382 pigs. The value of plant and machinery amounts to £27, 023,. and the value of produce for the year to £34,064. The cost is not given, but an honorable senator has estimated that they are spending upwards of £300,000 in the various States in connexion with these Departments. I take it that the estimate includes the cost of the upkeep of experimental stations and farms.
-In 1905 Mr. Butler of South Australia said that the cost was over £250,000.
– We know that the present Postmaster-General has made a bit of a hobby of this matter. He has delivered several lengthy speeches on the subject, which he has circulated in pamphlet form. I presume that he feels that he must do something to push the matter forward. But I contend that the speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Bill now before us show that no attempt is being made to co-ordinate this work with the work of the State Departments. The Government should make up their mind as to what they intend to do. So far as anything said by the Minister or contained in this Bill is concerned, it may be their intention to duplicate the work of the State Departments, and, if so, the measure is entirely unnecessary.
– Is there going to be a row between the Commonwealth and State Agricultural Departments as there was in connexion with the matter of population between the Commonwealth and State Statistical Departments?
– There have been so many quarrels between Commonwealth and State Departments that I do not remember the particular one to which Senator Neild refers. I do remember, however, that at one of the Premiers’ Conferences the question of the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture was brought forward, and the Prime Minister at the time gave an undertaking that a Bill dealing with the matter which was then before the House of Representatives would be withdrawn. The honorable gentleman must have realized, as the result of representations made to him by the Premiers’ Conference, that the Bill was unnecessary. I venture to say that nothing has since occurred to show that the Government have carried their investigations any further. This Bill is exactly the same as the measure which was objected to by the Premiers’ Conference to which I refer. The Government bring forward no more definite proposals than were submitted in connexion with that measure, and in the interests of the taxpayers we might still further delay action in this matter. We have been told that even if we pass this Bill we shall still have control over appropriations. But I would remind honorable senators that whenever any appropriation is submitted we shall be told that we passed the Bill and that the Government consider the amount proposed to be appropriated absolutely necessary to give effect to the measure. No private member of this Parliament will be in a position to make such investigations as would enable him to say that a few thousand pounds less would be sufficient. Those who oppose appropriations submitted will be charged with inconsistency, if, having voted for this Bill, they refuse what the Government declare is necessary to give it effect. Unless we are given some indication of the limits of the proposal made increases in the expenditure will be continually asked for.
– It is quite obvious that the expenditure in connexion with the Department must be a continually increasing amount.
– I say that before we commit ourselves to this proposal we should have some undertaking that the Government have given it serious consideration and are prepared to work the Department on definite lines. The Federal authority might very well undertake some investigations which the State authorities could not satisfactorily carry out. I might mention, for instance, an investigation into the Irish blight. If the Government said that it was- necessary to establish a Federal Agricultural Bureau in order to carry out a complete investigation of this disease, or if they said that such a Bureau is necessary in order to make investigations into certain diseases affecting animals, such as the tick pest, with which settlers are confronted in the northern portions of Australia, the red-water disease in the Northern Territory, and other diseases which could not be effectively investigated by the State Departments, we should know to what we were being asked to commit ourselves. The difficulty is that under the Bill now before the Senate the Government might not undertake investigations into such questions, and, on the other hand, they might take up work which is already being carried on by the various State Departments. The Federal Agricultural Bureau established under this Bill might commence operations by experimenting in various kinds of seed wheats, although we know that the State Departments are at the present time doing all that can be done in that direction. The Federal Department would therefore be merely duplicating their work.
– Private enterprise is also doing a good deal of this kind of work.
– That is so. Private enterprise is responsible for a great deal of work of this kind done in South Australia. I might mention that the “ Steinwedhl “ rust-resisting wheat was discovered by a German farmer in South Australia.
– In 1870, he went through his crop, picked the best ears, and propagated the variety of wheat from them.
– A great de.il of this work has been done by private persons in South Australia, and a great deal has been done, and is still being done, by the Roseworthy College in that State. We have no guarantee that if we pass this Bill the Federal Agricultural Bureau will not begin exactly the same kind of work.
– We shall retain control.
– It will be of a very illusory character. No Government would be deposed, merely because it proposed the establishment of an experimental farm for the propagation of seed wheat.
– No; but the proposed appropriation might be struck out of the Estimates.
– Unless there was some serious objection to a Government, their supporters would not interfere with small matters of that kind; but I remind honorable senators that it is the aggregate of wasteful expenditure in small amountsthat makes up Government extravagance. My short experience of, a Government Department was sufficient to convince me that: if you give a blank cheque to the head of a Department, he will fill it in for the highest possible amount. £ think the Government should give the matter further consideration.. They should look around and see what isbeing done by the State Departments; and,, if they discover that in any important respect the work of those Departmentsis incomplete, or defective, they might then ask us to fill up the gap. We should then have some evidence of an intention to deal with the matter in an earnest fashion. The Government should come before Parliament with a well thought out scheme ; but at present we are being asked to take a leap in the dark. I recognise the necessity for scientific research in connexion with agriculture ; and I believe that there is some important work to be done which cannot be satisfactorily accomplished by the State Departments; but I am unable to vote for the second reading of this Bill framed as it is.
.- I am as anxious as any one to build up a strong National Government. How is that to be done? Is it to be effected by attending to the affairs transferred to us under the Constitution, and doing that work efficiently and thoroughly, or is it to be done by, to some extent, neglecting our constitutional functions - for 1 would remind honorable senators that we have not yet settled the question of naval and military defence, the establishment of the Federal Capital, the transfer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory, and many other important questions - in order that we may exercise functions which belong directly to the State Governments? That appears to me to be the way not to do it. I think) that the record of the past does not entitle us to assume with confidence that we have the time or the money at our disposal to venture upon these matters, which more directly belong to the States, and to run the risk of duplicating their work and expenditure. The advocacy of this proposal by those who support it, from Sir John Quick downwards, is based upon the splendid work done by the Agricultural Department of the United States. I have listened attentively to the debate, and I have come to the conclusion that there is very little analogy between the position of the Commonwealth at this moment and the position of the United States when they es- tablished their Agricultural Department. As I interjected when Senator Pearce was speaking, four-fifths of the work carried out by the United States Agricultural Department has no relation whatever to our conditions. We have to bear in mind that when the American Department was started in the sixties, Agricultural Departments and scientific agriculture were almost unheard of. At the time the American Department was established, the United States were doing little, if anything, in this direction. I would remind honorable senators that we are spending on our State Agricultural Departments over £290.000 per annum, or more money per head of our population than the United States Government is spending to-day. There are Agricultural Departments in many of the States of America ; but most important questions affecting agriculture are dealt with in that country by the Federal Department.
– Does that not show the efficacy of the Federal Department?
– The reason for that is that the various States in the United States leave the bulk of the work to the Federal Department, and there is, consequently, scope for the expansion of such a Department “in that country which we could not hope for in connexion with a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture, unless the State Departments are practically abolished. It is difficult for a layman, and even for a lawyer, to point to the particular line in the Constitution which gives tis authority to establish such a Department. Some argue that because under Paragraph iti. of section 51 we have the right to grant bounties, we have the right to establish this Federal Department. That might or might not be so, but it is straining our powers to the extreme to assume that we have the right under the Constitution to establish such a Department. I shall not labour that aspect of the question. I suppose that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has satisfied himself through the AttorneyGeneral that we have the necessary power.
– What about our harvester legislation ?
– -Many of us felt that that legislation would be absolutely futile, but at the time this .Parliament was determined to attempt to usurp the powers of the State Parliaments, and we were subsequently told that our legislation was ultra vires. We tried to make a union label into a trade-mark, and though many of us considered that attempt was also futile, we passed a law which was later deemed to be ultra vires.
– The point is that, in respect of that legislation, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth gave the same advice as that which has been given in connexion with this measure.
– That is so.
– Can the honorable senator conceive of any one questioning the constitutionality of this measure ?
– I can.
– The State Premiers are all opposed to it.
– I intended to congratulate Senator Pearce upon having a very good memory, and I propose to deal at some length with what the honorable senator said on this important, subject. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his colleagues had refreshed their memories as to what took place at the Premiers’ Conference held in 1905 we should never have seen this Bill. At the .Conference held in Hobart in 1906 Captain Evans, who presided, said that the item on the agenda paper with regard to the suggested Federal Agricultural Department, is withdrawn on the assurance given by Mr. Deakin that there is no present intention of establishing such a Department.
The question was then dropped absolutely, because the then Prime Minister had given his assurance that the proposal would not be gone on with. Now, ‘ let us see what induced Mr. Deakin to give that pledge, and then ask ourselves if anything has happened in the meantime to justify the introduction of this Bill. I find that at the Premiers’ Conference held in 1905 Mr. Carruthers said-
I look with very great concern at any time on proposals to enlarge Commonwealth functions. I do not think it was ever contemplated that the Commonwealth Government or Parliament should extend its operations by, for instance, the establishment of a Department of Agriculture. The various States, and, of course, I speak of my own State in particular, have taken great steps towards the enlargement of our cultivation, by introducing new plans and methods, and I think that Mr. McLean has shown consideration to matters upon which our opinions are united; but when it comes to a question of the Commonwealth Government taking up the business, then I say, “ No.” It must be first shown that the States are incompetent to do this work. The Commonwealth Government have plenty to do in other ways. We have in our State Department of Agriculture, and by administration and necessary legislation, done much to encourage our young men to go on the lands of the State. All the States, however, find that the great difficulty in this connexion is to curtail expenditure, and not enlarge it. There is always a desire to increase the importance of a new department, and if we are to take the past acts of the Commonwealth Governments as an example, I do not think we are likely to see any exception if they launch upon this particular work. Had we ignored our work, nobody could blame the Commonwealth Government for stepping in, but when we are always enlarging our work, and see splendid results, I see no reason for Federal intervention, and would consider it an interference with State operations if they established a Department of Agriculture. If it were to be admitted that this department was instituted with the concurrence of the Premiers, we should be admitting a power and right of the Commonwealth Government, which, I say, does not exist under the Constitution. They might just as well institute departments of Education and Lands, with the consequent overlapping and natural embarrassment which would be ex- ‘perienced.
Hardly any words could he stronger. Mr.. Carruthers objected to the proposal- on every ground. He questioned the legality of it, and. .he may possibly have been armed with the advice of the Crown Law Officers of New South Wales.
– He is a lawyer himself.
– Mr. Carruthers is a lawyer himself, and I find that he went on to say -
If the Commonwealth Government interferes in -these matters, it will only be in an artificial way. The story of the cotton industry in Queensland is good reading and is a story which shows that the Commonwealth Government, by taking it up, would be proclaiming inability on the part of the State Governments. In regard to New Guinea, Mr. McLean’s proposal seems a good one. My opinion is that New Guinea for purposes of agricultural development, &c, should be attached to the nearest State. If we ‘ are to have Agricultural and Lands Departments nin by the Commonwealth, simply on account of New Guinea, the result will be a curse to us.
What words could be stronger than that? He. further’ said -
I am opposed to the proposal to give the Commonwealth larger powers and spheres, and thus overlap the work already done by the States.
Mr. Morgan, the Queensland Premier, said
I am against, the proposal. - It would mean the Federal Government entering upon work which I think can be better carried out by the States themselves. Holding that view, I do not propose to address myself at any length to the subject.
At the conclusion of his speech he also said -
I do not think, however, a case has been made out for the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture; and I am against it for other reasons - because it would be overlapping State works, would involve fresh expenditure, and accomplish very little good.
Then Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia, said -
I think nothing would be gained by the Commonwealth taking over the general management of the Agriculture Departments. We have agricultural colleges, agricultural experts in various lines, and find it all we can do to find the revenue to keep the departments going. My opinion has been that by general agreement between the States in the matter of export and prevention of diseases, as far as agricultural and horticultural departments are concerned, we can accomplish all without the establishment of a Federal Department.
In those words Mr. Jenkins answered some of the arguments to which I have listened during the course of this debate. He contended that by unity of action and by co-ordinating research, the States could accomplish all that can be accomplished by a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. As to the views of the Premier of Victoria I find this record : -
Mr. Bent suggested that it would be wise on the part of Commonwealth Ministers to withdraw the subject, as it did not appear to be the intention of the Conference to agree to the proposal in the shape of a motion. He felt as strongly as Mr. Carruthers on the point.
Then Mr. Reid said -
The matter of the establishment of a Department of Agriculture presented peculiar difficulties, and the Commonwealth Ministers would be only too pleased to have the views of thi State Ministers on that and other questions. If the Conference passed resolutions, it would not alter the position of the Commonwealth, but it might influence Ministers very much if they found there were a number of objections. The fullest importance would be attached to the suggestions of the States in matters affecting -the Commonwealth.
It is obvious that the State Premiers were strongly opposed to the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture. Mr. ‘Bent also said -
Sir George Turner had made him so suspicious that he would want to read very closely what was meant by increased expenditure, and as a Department of Agriculture would mean increased expenditure, he, on that particular question, could not say “ Aye.”
Mr. Butler is reported thus ‘
I would like to say that having held the position of Minister of Agriculture for someyears in South Australia, I recognise the important part that agriculture will play in mak. ing Australia a prosperous nation. Mr. McLean, I am aware, takes a very great interest in this subject, but still I have a strong objection to creating any new Department in connexion with the Federation until we are certain that we would derive some benefit from its establishment. We spend in Australia a, quarter of a million in connexion with our Agricultural Departments, and these Departments are much more alive at the present time than they have been for many years past. I think agriculture has taken a very big step forward during the last few years in Australia. The improvements have been very marked, and I am satisfied that it would only be duplicating work if the Federal Department of Agriculture were established. Is it not reasonable to suppose that the Agricultural Department in each State has a better knowledge of the existing local conditions and requirements, and is, consequently, in a position to conduct its operations more economically, than a huge Federal department removed some distance from the centre of operations? We recognise that our resources -are not fully developed ; but I feel that the States require all the revenue they can get, and I ask the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth not to establish this Department at present, because I am of the opinion that the advantages to be derived will not be commensurate with the expenditure involved.
Mr. Daglish observed
With regard to the main point at issue, I must express my concurrence in the views given utterance to by the members of this Conference. In our State we give a very great deal of attention to the work of the Agriculture Department, with, I believe, the greatest advantage to the people of Western Australia. I do not know of any work in this direction that could be undertaken by the Federal Government. At all events, until a stronger case is put forward than that which has been presented, I must oppose the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Evans said
My Government is distinctly opposed to the creation of any new Federal Department. We think that the Federal Government has sufficient Departments under their control; and when their administration has been perfected, then would be the time to consider the establishment of additional Departments.
These are words of wisdom. After the Prime Minister had spoken, Mr. Carruthers remarked -
I think the Federal Government should drop the matter. I will offer bitter opposition to any attempt made by the Federal Government to take OVer the power to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture. The States have not asked for assistance from the Federal Government in the matter at all. The Federal Government have plenty to do without interfering in State work. When the States have shown themselves unable to do the work, it will be time for the Federal Government to interfere. … I am not in favour of bonuses to agricultural industries. I am not in favour of using the machine of government for other purposes than those for which it has been called into existence. It will be better to leave the States alone. They Can manage the Department very satisfactorily. There would be rivalry if the Federal Government took the matter up ; and any rivalry means additional expense.
Then Mr. Bent further said -
As far as I am concerned, I do not agree with the views expressed by Mr. McLean. I do not wish to see the Federal Government create fresh Departments. Before expressing a final opinion, I would like to be guided by the results of our discussion on the Braddon clause. I would rather a straight motion be put, embracing every subject. Whatever power you at present have vested in you, you must exercise it, and, in my experience, I should point out that bonuses are not always successful in attaining the object for which they are granted. I think that the Commonwealth Parliament have a lot of work to do, and I am sure that I would like to see them do it well. I hope that if further engagements are undertaken by the Commonwealth Parliament, they will be proceeded with on as economical lines as those which obtain in the States. I would recommend that the item be withdrawn.
Finally the proposal was withdrawn. With the exception of Mr. McLean, every representative present was absolutely opposed to the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture. Why cannot we leave matters as they are? It is perfectly certain that in the near future the Commonwealth will have to acquire the Northern Territory upon terms which will permit it to exercise a free hand in regard to the construction of railways.
– Then it will not acquire it.
– My point is that we shall most certainly require to establish a Federal Department to deal with tropical agriculture in respect of the Northern Territory and Papua. In that connexion we have- a very hard row to hoe. I have had the pleasure of visiting .Port Darwin and Cairns, and I have no hesitation in saying that tropical Australia appears to me to be unlike any other tropical country in the world. I have no desire to see our funds dissipated by the appointment of an entomologist or an expert in the matter of grain and potatoes. We shall have to obtain the services of the best tropical experts in the world, if we are to profitably develop this huge semi-tropical country. I listened with very great pleasure to the speech which was delivered by Senator McColI. It was brimful of information, but in it I failed to discover any substantial reason why the Commonwealth should duplicate the work which is now being effectively discharged by the States. From his remarks I gathered that the States do not exchange the information which is1 in their possession as they might do. If that be so they are very much to blame.
– The honorable senator’s speech is being devoted to discounting the statements of Senator McColl.
- Senator McColl’s speech was a . most useful contribution to the debate upon this Bill, but it did not show us that we are justified in establishing a Federal Department of Agriculture, especially in view of the fact that the States are already expending ^£290,000 annually in that direction. There is no analogy whatever between the circumstances’ of Australia and those of the United States. Why should we establish a Federal Department for the purpose of accomplishing that which the exercise of a little common sense can accomplish ? During this debate a great deal has been said in reference to the prevalence of bitter pit in apples. I take it that the State entomologists are hard at work in studying that disease. If they are not, they are certainly unfitted for the positions which they occupy. The Commonwealth ought not to take up anything which the States are already doing effectively. Every one who spoke at the Premiers’ Conference, from the report of which I have quoted, feared the overlapping of work and the duplication of expenditure. I do not see how we can escape from the argument. The suggestion which Senator Chataway made was that if the State experts had a dispute about some diseased article not being allowed to enter a. State, the Federal expert might decide it. That would require legislation, but the idea is well worthy of consideration. Although the Commonwealth has been established for nearly nine years, we seem to have ‘continuous disputes in regard to the inspection of exports and imports as between the States. With regard to fruit, vegetables, potatoes, hops, and other articles, we cannot get a complete set of regulations in which the States are treated alike in regard to the inspection of those products. Some States insist upon an .inspection at the port of export and the port of import, whilst other States think that the inspection ought to be made only at the place of import. If we could settle that matter we should do some good. If we could let the States know when their fruit and vegetables could be properly excluded from or safely admitted into other States, we should do a great deal of good. That would be a practical step which would be of great use to every producer, but I do not see that the new Department would be of great use. It is to deal, for example, with the question of education. Any man can rise and make a speech showing that the expenditure of money on educationis justified. In Tasmania I could make out a case for spending thousands more on education. The same thing could be done in every State. We are approaching a time when a boy who leaves school at thirteen or fourteen years of age will have to be compelled to attend a night school or continuation class until he is seventeen or eighteen years of age, and that will cost thousands of pounds. It is always possible to make out a case for spending more money on education. In this case the States should be left to do their own work, and we must be left to do ours.
.- It appears to me that we are discussing this question over too great an area and at too great length. Ever since the world was created brains have been valuable, but I think that they have never been so valuable or important as they are to-day.’ We want to make Australia a country of brainy people. In agriculture and all matters of production we want to gather together all the .science and knowledge of the world. We should use our whole weight .and power to gather together all the latest discoveries and pass them on to the State Departments. We ought not to undertake the task of duplicating experiments and investigations which are being carried on in many States in a manner of which I venture to say we may be proud. Certainly, I am proud of the work which is being done in this direction in New South Wales, but even that State may be helped by a Federal Department, which will be able to effectively gather together from all parts of the world the latest information, and it is because I feel that there is a field open for a Federal Department that I am prepared to support the Bill.
.- At a time when the Government propose to spend in the course of years about £[2,500,000 on a defence scheme, to take over the Northern Territory on which there is an annual loss of ,£300,000, and the development of which will in the course of a few years mean an expenditure of at least ^10,000,000 - at a time, too, when the Government propose to appoint a High Commissioner with a staff costing about .£15,000- a year - it seems to be an absolute waste of time to introduce a measure for the creationof what I consider would be a superfluous Department. In support of the measure Senator Chataway delivered a rather inte-
Testing address, but it only emphasized what the American Government were doing, because the States had failed to do that which the States in Australia are doing. Those who favour the creation of a Bureau of Agriculture say, “ In America the States neglected to do work in the field of agriculture, and therefore the Federal Government created a Department of Agriculture and made a huge success of it.” Now, having made a huge success of their Department, would it not have been absurd to propose that the States, in addition to the Federal Bureau, should institute a new Department? In Australia the States have done what 1 the States in America did not do. Here each State has created an Agricultural Department, which is up to date and is administered by gentlemen of capacity and ability. Is there anything which any State Department is unable to do to-day which a Federal Bureau would be able to do more satisfactorily ? As soon as the Federal Government attempted to interfere in any way with the functions of the State Departments there would be, as Mr. Carruthers said, much friction.
– Is any State touching the question of tropical agriculture?
– Not so far as I know. The Agricultural Department of Queensland, which is both tropical and semi-tropical, is devoting its attention, not to one part of the State, but to the whole of it. It will be time enough for the Federal Government to talk about establishing a Department to deal with tropical agriculture when the Northern Territory is taken over. Until then there will be no field for a Federal Bureau to engage in. It has been said that there is no reciprocity between the State Agricultural Departments. I am not inclined to believe that, because I am disposed to think that the State Departments are not run merely in the interest of one Slate, and that any knowledge which is of interest to more than one State is invariably communicated to the States affected by the experiments, which are from time -to time made in respect to the field of agriculture. If it be true that there is no reciprocity between the Agricultural Departments, it is a fact that they publish, from time to time, periodicals containing information relative to various experiments by the Directors. By means of these journals, there is an interchange between the various Departments, just as there is an interchange of newspapers throughout the world. If the information is not conveyed officially by, say, the Department in New South Wales to the Department in Victoria, it is conveyed from one to the other by means of the journals. Senator Dobson anticipated in a measure something which I intended to say respecting the united opposition which this proposal met with when it was brought before the Premiers’ Conference in Hobart in 1905. It was introduced by Mr. McLean, who was Minister of Trade and Customs in the ReidMcLean Government. All the arguments which Senator Chataway urged to-night in favour of the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture were put forward powerfully and eloquently by Mr. McLean. But in spite of that fact, and the known capacity nf Mr. McLean - a gentleman who had had a large and valuable experience in connexion with land and agriculture - the Premiers were unanimous in opposition to the Commonwealth undertaking such a departure.
– Does the honorable senator generally listen to protests from that quarter?
– I do not know that I am always seriously concerned about objections which are raised or propositions which are put forward at such Conferences. At any rate, the Conference of 1905 gave consideration to this question, and I certainly pay attention to the arguments which wore urged by the Premiers against the Commonwealth Government undertaking this work. To my mind, the arguments are so strong and so unanswerable that I am at a loss to understand why the present Government are .anxious, not merely to introduce, but to pass, this measure so speedily. In 1906 the Prime’ Minister gave an assurance that the matter would be dropped.
– I wish that the honorable senator could show me that assurance.
– So far as [ remember, Senator Dobson read a resolution in which it was agreed that the matter should be dropped, and the Prime Minister agreed to that. And then the honorable senator went on to say that in other years the Premiers had discussed the matter. In addition to that, we have had the opposition of the Ministers of Agriculture who assembled here in August last. Some Agricultural Societies in Victoria have also entered their protest against the establishment of such a Department. Surely that ought to be sufficient. .If I could see that any good could or would, be clone by the creation of ‘ an additional Department, although it would mean additional expense to the taxpayers, I would be the last to offer any opposition to the proposal, hut because .1. know that it will mean additional expenditure - expenditure which I consider unnecessary- and because I consider that no practical good can result from the creation of a new Department, I do not desire the Bill to pass its second reading. Every honorable senator is aware of the magnificent work which is being done by the heads and subordinate officers of the different State Departments. Senator McColl is familiar with the magnificent work which is being done in Victoria on some of the poorer land.
– I know that in America they are producing 21 bushels to the acre
– There may be special reasons for that. The land may be of better quality, and the rainfall more uniform. Land which was at one time considered almost waste land is, by the application of scientific methods and the use of superphosphates, now producing highly satisfactory results. So satisfied am I with the capacity of the gentlemen intrusted with the administration of the State Departments, and so convinced as to their qualifications, that I am at a loss to understand where better men could be found in order to take advantage to any greater extent of the progress which is being made in different parts of the world. On a former occasion I opposed a similar measure on like grounds. I hope that the Bill will not pass its second reading, because it would be the means of creating an additional Department, which at present is altogether unnecessary, and which could not do any good so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The Vice-President of the Executive Council desired to know where it was reported that the Premiers had agreed to drop this matter. If he will look at page 25 of the Report of the Proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference at Hobart in 1905, he will find this passage -
The PRIME MINISTER. - Do you not think that -we should frame a paragraph defining the views of the Conference, namely, that the general opinion of State Premiers and Ministers was against the proposal? I see there is a very strong opinion held by the State Premiers on this question, especially with regard to bonuses.
– Can the honorable senator show me that the Prime Minister gave a promise to withdraw the Bill ?
– Mr. Evans said so, and the quotation just read corroborates his statement.
– I do not say that the Prime Minister agreed to drop this Bill. There was no Bill under the consideration of the Premiers’ Conference in 1905, but a proposal to establish a Federal Agricultural Department was discussed at that Conference, and met with such violent opposition that the Prime Minister undoubtedly dropped the proposal. After the various Premiers had expressed their opinions upon it, the Prime Minister did not proceed with the matter.
– He is proceeding with it now.
– He proceeded with it on a former occasion, and then dropped it. The fact that he is proceeding with it now is not a reason why the Senate should commit itself to the passing of the second reading of the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Colonel Neild) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very small Bill, to which I have no doubt honorable senators will readily assent. Its purpose is to enable the Commonwealth Government, in time of emergency, to take possession of, or, it may be, only to take control of, the ends of the submarine cables touching the shores of Australia. The desirability of passing such a measure has been suggested by some correspondence initiated by the Imperial Government a few years ago. That correspondence was marked “ Confidential,” but it was of a character which honorable senators can readily understand, and pointed to the desirability, in the event of war, the possibility of war, or any other national emergency, of the Government of the Commonwealth being in possession of, or in a position to assume control of, these agencies for the transmission of news. Following on that correspondence, which I may say received the consideration of more than one Federal Government, the question was raised as to whether the Government was not inherently possessed of the power to do what was necessary, either at common law or under the Defence Acts; but in order to put the matter beyond all question, it was decided to introduce this Bill so as to declare in a statutory way the power of the Commonwealth Government to do these things in such an emergency, I might remind honorable senators that there are five cables touching Australia. One lands at Port Darwin, another at Fremantle. Then there is one connecting Australia with New Zealand, which lands at Botany Bay, in New South Wales; there is the Pacific cable, which lands at Southport, in Queensland ; and a cable belonging to a Frenchcompany between Australia and New Caledonia, which lands at Bundaberg, in Queensland. The rapid advance which has been made in wireless telegraphy has suggested the wisdom of extending the powers of the Government to cover that form of communication as wellas communication by cable. The Bill is an extremely simple one, and I quote from clause 3, which is the operative clause -
The Governor-General may, whenever any emergency has arisen which, in his opinion, lenders it desirable in the public interest so to do, authorize any officer of the Commonwealth to take possession or control of any submarine cable or any wireless telegraph or telephone.
The desirability of doing that in a time of national emergency must be so apparent to honorable senators that I anticipate that they will readily assist me in passing the Bill into law.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- When I was addressing myself to the second reading of the Bureau’ of Agriculture Bill, a few moments ago, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, by way of interjection, said that he would like to know where any statement had been made by the present Prime Minister with respect tb the withdrawal of a proposal discussed at the Premiers’ Conference held in that year, for the creation of a Department of Agriculture under Federal control. I refer the honorable senator to page xxvii. of the Minutes of Proceedings of the Conference, for Saturday, 7th April, 1906. He will find there the following: -
The Prime Minister of Australia. - The Honorable Alfred Deakin, continued to address the- Conference on subjects in which the interests of Commonwealth and States were involved.
– Is it in order, on this motion, for the honorable senator to continue a debate which has been adjourned ?
– The honorable senator is making an explanation in response to a request by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I shall not permit him to discuss the Bureau of Agriculture Bill.
– At page 70 of the report of the debates at the Conference, under the heading “ Suggested Federal Agricultural Department,” I find the following : -
– No. 5-“ Suggested Federal Agricultural Department” is withdrawn on the assurance given by Mr. Deakin that there is no present intention of establishing such a Department.
– This is somebody else’s statement about Mr. Deakin’s assurance.
– The honorable senator forgets that Mr. Deakin was present when this statement was made.
– “ No present intention.”
– I have made these quotations, because the statement that Mr. Deakin had given an assurance that the matter would be dropped was challenged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091020_senate_3_52/>.