3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I am not in a position to give a more definite statement to the honorable senator than that which I have already made. As it is the intention of the Government, at a very early date, to consider the whole question of postage, I can hardly assume that the partial treatment of it would be considered before then.
– Perhaps my honorable friend will allow me to mention the matter, not at an early date, but a little later, when, perhaps, it may have been reconsidered.
– Arising out of his answer, may I ask the Minister whether it is not a fact within his own knowledge that a similar grievance exists in a majority of the States, and whether that is not specially the case in reference to the bulk of the postage in connexion with New South Wales? If I may follow the lead of the honorable and learned gentleman, may I point out to the Minister that recently I had to pay on one post-day no less than11d. for alleged deficient postage and fines, in consequence of this very inequality which exists in the postal arrangements of the Commonwealth.
– I need hardly assure my honorable friend that the sympathies of the entire Senate are with him in the circumstances. I can only say that this and other factors will be fully considered when the whole question of penny postage is under review.
– Yesterday the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in reply to an inquiry, said that if I would give notice of a question, he would inform the Senate what naval experts were consulted regarding the acceptance of the offer to establish a naval college in Sydney. I desire to know if he can now supply any information to the Senate?
– I was under the impression yesterday that the honorable senator was about to give notice of a question, and therefore I did not take independent steps to ascertain the facts. I shall not ask him to go to the trouble of giving notice of a question now that the inquiry has been repeated, but will endeavour to get the information for him by Wednesday next.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Spirits Act 1906. - Provisional Regulation relating to Liniments and Veterinary Medicines manufactured from Methylated Spirits. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 112.
Audit Acts 1901-1906. - Substitution of New Regulation in lieu of Treasury Regulation 96 (f). - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 114.
Report of the Director-General of the Military Cadet Corps for the year ending 30th June, 1909.
Telegraph Rates : Wireless Telegraphy, King Island
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government establish a station for Wireless Telegraphy on King Island among the first stations to be established, as the Island has no telegraphic connexion whatever with Tasmania or Australia, has some 8oo inhabitants, and growing trade?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
A station cannot be established at King Island among the first stations (namely, those at Sydney and Fremantle), as sufficient money is not available. The matter will be considered “when any further appropriation for wireless telegraphy is made.
Colonel Wallack : Defence Bill - Construction of Destroyer
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator GUTHRIE called the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the following paragraph in the Argus of 20th October : -
Not Disclosed to Australians
Ballarat, Tuesday. - Writing to a friend in
Ballarat, Mr. T. Downer, who is visiting England, states that he visited the dockyard where an Australian destroyer is being built. The Australian workmen employed there complained to him that they were not allowed to enter the sections of the works where the most important parts of the vessels are being built - and asked him. upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the Bill will be restored to the Noticepaper at the stage it had reached when the Senate was counted out on the 14th October, and that the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for the nth November.
– I suggest that Senator Pearce reserve the point until Senator Neild indicates a desire to do so.
Debate resumed from 20th October(vide page 4720), on motion by Senator Millen-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I did not avail myself of the opportunity to speak yesterday in the first place, because the matter is so largely a New South Wales one, that I thought it courteous to allow honorable senators from other States to take precedence, and, secondly, because I did not feel there was any special call for a reply.
– Then, -why speak today ?
– Because of certain speeches delivered yesterday, particularly those by Senator Henderson, Senator Stewart, and one or two others, who expressed some very extraordinary sentiments. I think it would be well if we were to see what the Constitution provides, and what the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States really is. According to section 125 of the Constitution, the Federal Capital must be built on an area of not less than 100 square miles.
– We all know that !
– Sometimes it is well to remind honorable senators of what they are aware, though I can quite understand that some are anxious to put all these considerations on one side. The Constitution, as I say,provides for an area of not less than 100 square miles, whereas, under the agreement, there has to be surrendered to the Commonwealth, an area of about 900 square miles. In the second place, the
Commonwealth is to have water rights over a catchment area of 500 miles additional.
– Over creeks !
– It does not matter how big a river may be in this area, the honorable senator describes it as a creek ; and we are quite used to his method. In the third place, an area of land has to be surrendered at Jervis Bay ; in the fourth place the Commonwealth is given the right to construct a railway to that Bay, and a grant of the necessary land ; and in the fifth place, the Commonwealth is given the right to use the waters of the Snowy River, and certain other rivers, which may be agreed on, for the generation of electric power. Honorable senators cannot fail to be struck by the great difference between the requirements under the Constitution and the arrangement arrived at between the Commonwealth and New South Wales. If all these concessions had been suggested at the Federal Convention, a great deal of surprise would have been expressed ; and I doubt very much whether such expectations on the part of the Commonwealth might not then have tended to prevent Federation. However, the concessions have been made, and it is well for us to remember the wonderful advance represented in the agreement. Several honorable ‘senators yesterday seemed very much disturbed by considerations as to the sufficiency of the proposed water supply. The facts in this connexion have been established beyond dispute, but I desire once more to bring them under the notice of honorable senators by quotations from the speech made by Mr. Wade on the 16th September, when he went into the matter at great length. Mr. Wade said -
We have recognised at all stages, in connexion with the discussion of this matter, that no sound objection can be raised to the Commonwealth having supreme control over the whole of the catchment area, because on the purity of the water and the control of the streams supplying it, is dependent the health and happiness of the people themselves. There is no reason why they should not have the same jurisdiction for protective purposes over the supply of water for domestic use that they have over the city itself. But, strangely enough, whilst we have always believed that in the Cotter River the Commonwealth would have a source of water-supply excelled by none in New South Wales - the territory lies in a perfect network of streams, and is, in fact, perhaps the best-watered part of New South Wales-this scheme has always been attacked on the ground that the Cotter is a stream of no significance and no permanency, and would not be sufficient to supply the capital with water beyond the initial stages. It, therefore, became incumbent on the Government, who believed that the Cotter was a reliable and useful stream, to cause every inquiry to be made, with a view to ascertain how far the allegations of insufficiency of the water-supply were based on facts.
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 readings of the flow of water down the Cotter during the past twelve months, it would not furnish a reliable supply for a large city. We start from this fact, which is most important, that this is a catchment absolutely unique in New South Wales, ils characteristic being heavy, steep, rugged hills of granite formation ; so rough, I think, that on the whole of the area - nearly 200 square miles of the Cotter catchment - there is only settlement in one place, where there is a form of improvement lease in operation ; and I have been told - I do not know how far it is correct - that the country is so rugged, and so unfit for settlement, tb.it some parts of it do not appear marked on the. maps of the State. However, there is this undoubted fact, that it is a catchment which conserves for storage purposes nearly all the water that falls. It is undisturbed by settlement, and it is largely snow-fed from the various spurs on the outlying points of Kosciusko Range.
At this stage, Mr. Arthur Griffith is reported to have interjected -
There was snow in the catchment last week.
To which Mr. Wade replied -
There is snow always about there. Now we go a step further, and, strangely enough, although we are told that the Cotter, in some places, is a mere ditch, I find that in the earlier reports of Mr. Oliver, dealing with these Federal Capital Sites as far back as the year 1901, the Cotter was referred to as being a suitable stream for the supply of Queanbeyan in case Queanbeyan were chosen as the Capital Site. I only quote that for one purpose - to show at that time, eight years ago, what was the volume of water passing down that particular stream.
Then on page 13 of this publication of the report of the debate upon this question in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, Mr. Wade is thus reported -
One more comparison to show the enormous possibilities of the Cotter flow. I put the question to the Engineer-in-Chief : - “ How does that flow in August last compare with the water which is now in the Cataract and Prospect Reservoirs?” He gave the total quantity which can flow by gravitation from Cataract at the present time as 3,600,000,000 gallons, and from Prospect 2,907,000,000 gallons, making a total of 6,507,000,000 gallons. The flow of the Cotter for the month of August was 8,278,000,000 gallons. It will be seen that the Cotter discharged in one month a greater volume of water than the amount at present stored in both the Cataract and Prospect reservoirs. Moreover, the Cotter discharged during the same month approximately almost one-third of the total capacity of both the Cataract and Prospect reservoirs combined. I think that, in view of these figures, nobody can now very well question the assertion that the Cotter is a stream with possibilities of which we do not know at present even the full extent. ……
The advisory board took as a basis of calculating the supply of the Cotter the minimum flow in the worst year known. Upon that point I would like to refer to a report from the EngineerinChief on this subject, in which he points out, that the fair test to apply is not to take the minimum flow in a year of ‘drought, but to take the average mean flow published over a period of years. He says if you take the minimum flow as a basis of ascertaining the capacity of the Prospect and Cataract dams, that would not give us a supply for more than 48,000 people. To fall back upon the. real and fair basis of calculation, which is the mean flow over a given period of inquiry, thereby the actual capacity and flow of the Cotter is enormously increased.
I am not going to weary honorable members at this stage with regard to these catchment areas, beyond showing, taking the mean average flow, the number of people that could be supplied either by gravitation or gravitation plus pumping from those four areas, the Cotter, Gudgenby, Naas, and Paddy’s River. Mr. De Burgh supplies these figures in his report. Taking the mean supply, the Cotter at. the rate of 100 gallons per day per head would SUPP ‘ by gravitation 590,704 people. The mean flow in the course of a year is 21,562,000,000 gallons. The Gudgenby would give a mean flow of 14,874,000,000 gallons, and supply by gravitation 407,500 persons. The Naas, by gravitation, with a mean flow of 5,989,000,000 gallons, would supply 164,080 people. From those three catchments, by gravitation, there could be supplied a population of 1,162,320 persons. In other words, by gravitation, the Cotter, Gudgenby, and Naas would supply something like twothirds of the population of New South Wales. By pumping from the Cotter, an additional number of 265,830 people could be supplied; from the Gudgenby and Naas combined 151,940, and from Paddy’s River 181,070. In other words, the combined capacities of those four catchments, by pumping, would supply an additional number of 598,840 people. Taking the number that could be supplied by gravitation and pumping from these catchments, it will be seen that there is enough water to keep going 1,761,160 people at 100 gallons per head per day. So that that really means that water can be got from those areas sufficient to give every man, woman, and child in New South Wales 100 gallons per day. The figures seem almost fabulous, but they are based on records and premises that cannot be disputed
– At what cost?
– This is not a fit time for such an interjection to be made by the honorable senator. The figures relating to the supply which is available in this particular area appear almost fabulous, but they are based upon records and premises which cannot be disputed. If I had been a member of the New South Parliament when Mr. Wade was speaking, I think that I should have been inclined to ask why the water supply at Yass-Canberra has been calculated upon an average consumption of 150 per cent. higher than that of Sydney. Upon the basis of the Sydney consumption there is a sufficient supply available to meet the requirements of 4,400,000 people. ‘ Under these circumstances is it not utterly idle for honorable senators to waste time in alleging that the district suffers from an insufficiency of water? Again, on page 13 of the report from which I have auoted, Mr. Wade says -
It will be seen that the Cotter discharged in one month a greater volume of water than the amount at present stored in both the Cataract and Prospect Reservoirs. Moreover, the Cotter discharged during the same month approximately almost one-third of the total capacity of both the Cataract and Prospect Reservoirs combined. I think that, in view of these figures, nobody can now very well question the assertion that the Cotter is a stream with possibilities of which we do not know at present even the full extent.
At this juncture Mr. Ball inquired -
Does not the honorable member think that it is too good to give away?
Yet honorable senators opposite suggest that the Territory is so poor that the Commonwealth should not accept it. When they attempt to make it appear that there is not sufficient water in the Cotter to meet the requirements of a large city, they only succeed in covering themselves with ridicule. I was very pleased to find that two honorable senators have recognised the position in an entirely fair spirit. I refer to Senators Pearce and Givens. But apparently Senator Givens now wishes to withdraw some of his utterances of last week.
– I never withdraw anything.
– I am glad to hear it. I shall read to honorable senators presently what Senator Givens said last week. I shall refer first of all to the speech made by Senator Pearce. Whilst the honorable senator was speaking, Senator Dobson asked whether he was satisfied as to the adequacy of the water supply, and Senator Pearce replied -
– I think so. I was one of those who were sceptical upon that point, and I attacked the supposed defect rather vigorously. The result of that attack has been the submission of further reports, which are of an eminently satisfactory character. These reports come from reliable sources, and we must assume that no State Government would allow reports of a misleading nature to be placed in our hands. The reports assure us that the water supply at Yass-Canberra is ample for all purposes.
Senator Dobson again returned to the charge, and I quote the following -
– But it is not proposed to grant the Commonwealth control over all sources of supply there.
– The evidence is that from the Cotter River alone we can obtain sufficient water by means of gravitation to supply the requirements of a population of 200,000, and that by means of a pumping scheme we could obtain sufficient to supply a population of more than 600,000.
– That is assuming that each unit consumed double the quantity that is consumed by the citizens of Melbourne and Svdney.
– Yes. In the face of these figures, nobody can deny that the question of the water supply has been satisfactorily disposed of.
The honorable senator did not know the capacity of some of his friends.
I haveno option, therefore, but to support the second reading of the Bill, and to leave other matters to be cleared up in Committee.
– Did the honorable senator not say that by gravitation the supply from the Cotter would be sufficient for some 50,000 or more people ?
– I quoted figures to show that there is enough water in the district to sweep us all away. Now for Senator Givens, who always stands by what he says.
– And is always worth listening to.
– I am sure that what the honorable senator said last week is worth listening to this week. He said -
I must say that the Government has not been lax in supplying us with all available information. Studying the documents with care, I have to admit that many of the objections which I formerly had to the selection of Yass-Canberra have now been removed.
– Is the honorable senator in order in quoting from speeches delivered during the present session ?
– The honorable senator is in order in quoting from speeches delivered on this subject during the present session. We are now engaged in a continuation of the same debate.
- Senator Givens went on to say -
In the first place, we now have it on unimpeachable evidence that the water supply can be considered as fairly adequate to the requirements of a city such as we hope the Capital of the Commonwealth will become. That is a very important point. On that ground alone a strong objection which I had to the selection of YassCanberra, is to a great extent removed.
The honorable senator said that last week, and he stands to it this week. I can quite understand that Senator Findley would have been very glad if, on a point of order, he could have prevented me from bringing this under the notice of honorable senators.
– I have no objection to my speeches appearing twice in Hansard.
– No doubt the honorable senator has his own view in regard to such a matter, and, as a rule, would probably be very glad if his speeches appeared even more often than twice in Hansard, and in other publications as well, providing always that they did not raise any appearance of inconsistency. I do not propose to say anything further in regard to the water supply. Indeed, I almost feel that I should apologize for occupying so much of the time and attention of the Senate this afternoon, in, shall I say, “ flogging a dead horse.” The matter is clearly beyond dispute. It has been accepted by representative senators on the other side, and it is a pity that any one should now seek to again question the adequacy of the water supply of the Yass-Canberra district. Senator Stewart yesterday quite excelled himself. The honorable senator has lately been using some very picturesque arid almost lurid language. He wishes us to believe that the Yass-Canberra district is utterly unfit for the establishment of a city on the ground that there are practically no people settled in it. He said it was such wretched country that people would not go there to live. I think he said that there were only 50 or 100 people settled in the district. If the honorable senator were present now, he would probably be very much surprised to learn that there are more people settled on the Yass-Canberra area than on the Dalgety area, of which he is so ardent a lover. I have secured figures dealing with the matter. I see that Mr. Wade, in his speech, gave the population on the capital site proper, that is to say in the neighbourhood of the Goulburn-Cooma railway, as 840 ; on the Cotter catchment, 50 ; on the Gudgenby catchment, another 50. The Department has supplied me with an estimate of 125 on the Naas Creek, and- the same number on Paddy’s River, which makes a total of 1,190. I may say that the estimates of the population on the Naas Creek and Paddy’s River are based on details as to the number of leases and conditional purchases on the catchment areas of those streams. There is nothing in the argument as to the present population pointing decisively to the quality of the soil in the area, and I have mentioned the figures only in order to show the absurdity of the statement made by Senator Stewart, and the poverty-stricken nature of the arguments to which the honorable senator was reduced. I am informed by the Department of Home Affairs that -
No information is available respecting the population on the 900 square miles at Dalgety proposed for the purpose of the Seat of Government, but I have no hesitation in saying that it is less than on the proposed Federal Territory at Yass-Canberra. The population at Dalgety and its vicinity is estimated at 300, and the population of Jindabyne and the vicinity is estimated at about 100.
So that, allowing for some smaller centres of population in other portions of the district, it is quite clear that the population in the Dalgety district is smaller than the? population in the Yass-Canberra district. But as I have said, there is nothing in this agreement which should affect the judgment of sane, reasonable men. Of course, honorable senators will see that the smaller the settlement on the- catchment area the purer must be the water that runs therefrom, lt is of benefit to the Commonwealth that only a limited number of people are there. Yesterday Senator Henderson made some remarks as to the agreement being forced upon the Commonwealth. I cannot understand that.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. My complaint was that the Government were compel ling us to continue the debate without having an opportunity to see the agreement.
– The honorable senator had an assurance that no division would be taken until the agreement was produced.
– I received no such assurance.
– I am willing to accept the honorable senator’s explanation that his statement was limited simply to the fact that the debate was resumed before the agreement was laid upon the table. Senator Pearce has given notice of an amendment dealing with the area of land at Jervis Bay, and I have a little sympathy with it. I am willing to confess that the area of two square miles is small, and that it would be well if it were increased. But since the first map was published, as honorable senators will see, the State Government have formally arranged for the transfer to the ‘Commonwealth of certain areas which previously were reserved for defence, so that a part of the area which Senator Pearce desires to take in has already been ceded.
– Is that within the terms of the agreement now?
– If it is possible, without involving too much trouble, to unite the part painted in red with the part painted in blue, it would be an improvement, and to that extent the amendment given notice of by Senator Pearce has my sympathy. Perhaps in Committee we may be able to persuade the Government to consider action in that direction, r look upon the Yass-Canberra site practically as a compromise. Some honorable senators wanted to go farther south, and most assuredly I wanted to go farther north. At present the latitude of the centre of the population of Australia is really that in which Lyndhurst is situated. I have said repeatedly that in my opinion the position of the present population and the trend of the future population should be the governing factors in the ‘settlement of this question.
– The honorable senator thinks that a site somewhere in New England will be the best site.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I was going to say that while the latitude of the centre of population is at present in Lyndhurst it is really working north, and in the course of, I suppose, a quarter of a century it will be in New England. I .would have been glad if a site in the New England district could have been selected, but it did not seem? to be of any use to move in that direction. Some members of the other House and one or two members of the Senate did put forth an effort, but honorable senators generally were so anxious to effect a compromise that they could not see their way to what I think was the logical conclusion on the basis of population. However, in coming to YassCanberra down from Lyndhurst, which I think was the farthest point south that it was fair to go, I am making what I look upon as a concession. It is a considerable concession in respect of the people of New South Wales, and a still greater concession in respect of the people of Queensland.
– And to Victoria practically.
– Yes. I think that the national point of view would in.dicate a position somewhat farther west and farther north. I have not been able to get my wish met, nor have other honorable senators. I do. not suppose that any of us have succeeded in that regard. We are prepared to take the Yass-Canberra site as a sort of compromise. It is not quite fair for honorable senators, who are honestly in favour of the Dalgety site, who have visited it and know its picturesqueness, to treat us who are accepting this site as if we were doing what was unfair and unreasonable. We are giving up something, as they also are doing. If any disaster should happen to this Bill, I have very little doubt that, if the whole question had to be threshed out again, we should agree upon a site which was farther north. If honorable senators are anxious to get a position as far south as possible, this is their opportunity. I read with great pleasure Mr. Wade’s important speech on the surrendered territory. It was one which did justice to a great subject, as well as to his position of Premier, and to New South Wales. It contained nothing indicative of the least wish to take any point in dealing with the Federation. Mr. Wade showed from first to last that he desired to do what was best, as the very drawings in the chamber indicate. It is the action of the State Government that has brought before us a position which is an improvement upon the recommendation of the Advisory Board. The settlement of this question will not be altogether a gain to New South Wales. There are some points in which it must inevitably lose; for instance, with regard to the population residing within the area it will relieve the Commonwealth of the payment of 25s. per head to 1 he S*-ate. Other revenue from the district must also be. lost to the State. Possibly when the next apportionment of members for the House of Representatives is made, we may lose a member, simply from the want of 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 persons who may be resident in the surrendered 11 pa.
– Does the honorable senator think that there are 500 persons resident in the area?
– I quoted the figures showing that the population is about 1,200.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council assured us only a day or two ago that there were only about 100 residents.
– The honorable senator is now speaking of the population in the catchment areas, over which we are o have certain rights. But the surrendered territory has a population to-day of about 1,200 persons.
– I am glad to hear that.
– I hope that it will relieve the honorable senator’s doubt on the subject. I sincerely trust that the Bill will be dealt with in that reasonable spirit which was evident in the speeches of Senator Pearce and others, and that it will be speedily passed.
– This subject has been brought repeatedly before the Senate. On the last occasion it was submitted, the Dalgety site, which, [ believe, we are to be asked to substitute for the Canberra site, did not find a single supporter in the division.
– What rot !
– If the honorable senator will refer to the record of the division, he will find that not one senator voted in favour of the Dalgety site.
– The honorable senator knows differently from that.
– I do not know more than what took place. The result of the vote’ was that Dalgety did not command a single supporter.
– - Yes, but that was when Senator McColl was faithful to a principle.
– The honorable senator wants me to believe that every senator who voted for Tumut meant to vote for Dalgety, but could not read. As a matter of fact, every one who previously supported Dalgety voted for Tumut. ‘ What were their reasons I leave them to say. The result may have been due to a little sharp practice, due, perhaps, to the thought that if some senators on the other side would vote for another site, they would then have an absolute majority. The movement was very cleverly arranged, but, like many other things in this world, it did not come off. This question is, I take it, before the Senate to be decided on its merits. When I made a visit to Canberra, I was asked by a newspaper man what view I took. I said, “My inclination, so far, is to support
Dalgety. I have read very much about that site, and I believe that its water supply is very good indeed. I could not make a promise to support Canberra, because my inclination, /so far, without .having seen the site, is to support Dalgety.” I next made a visit to Dalgety, in company with a good few senators, but I did not hear one of them express any opinion other than that the country was a bleak and barren waste. We all discussed the merits of the site, but I never heard one honorable senator “ stick up “ for it, or describe it in the glowing terms in which it has been described here. There is a forest 8 or 10 miles wide, but there is not one. portion of a tree which has not been twisted out of shape by the wind. At Cooma, 40 miles away, where the strong wind is broken by the forest, the trees which had been planted for ornamental purposes were lying at an angle of 45 degrees. Yet we are told that from the national point of view we should choose the Dalgety site. The soil there is only 8 or 9 inches deep on the granite; and from what we have read and know of the storms there, we can quite realize that the whole of the soil would.be swept away once the natural grass had been removed. In the garden of the hotel at which we stayed, an attempt had been made to grow trees or shrubs, but these the wind had completely uplifted; and yet ‘we are told that that is a suitable site for a Capital, with ornamental parks, and so forth. The only point in favour of Dalgety is the unrivalled water supply ; but something more than water is required for a Capital site; we require soil and a genial climate, and Dalgety, in my opinion, has neither. When I went to Charters Towers, in 1872, all the water had to be carried in bags on horseback, but subsequently a weir was made on the Burdekin, at an expenditure of ^10,000, and the supply obtained was sufficient for five, years for a population of 25,000. This, it must be remembered, was in a place where the minimum supply was nil; and, in my opinion, the Cotter River, with weirs, could be made to give a supply ample for a population of 1,000,000 or more, and not at a very large expenditure, having regard to the natural features of the country. To hear some honorable senators, one would think that Canberra was all at once to become an immense city ; but we know there is no inland town where any great manufactures have yet been started.
Chicago has been mentioned, but that is really a port with a big water frontage, and with all the advantages of the lakes between the northern States and -Canada. Washington is also a sort of port, and there the population, we are told, is only 250,000, though for the purposes of argument I am quite willing to admit that it is 300,000 or even 400,000; and in my opinion there is more than an ample supply of water in the Canberra district for any population equal to that of Washington. I suppose, however, that if Canberra be made the Capital site, the city will be partially deserted when Parliament is not sitting; and, in any case, our desire is not to see the people in the cities, but settled throughout the country. We know, that nobody will live in the Capital city except Government officers, with, of course, shopkeepers and others who will supply their wants ; and, altogether, I think that for many years to come the population of the Federal Capital will not be more than 50,000 to 100,000. With all the information that has been placed before us, we ought to settle this question at once. The people of New South Wales are giving more territory than was intended, and are endeavouring to comply with the wishes of the Commonwealth Parliament, and we ought to try to meet them. As a representative, I am giving up something when I vote for Canberra, because I should like to see the Federal Capital a good many hundred miles further north. It is acknowledged that Queensland, within another quarter of a century, will be, if not the largest, one of the largest of the States1, seeing that the whole trend of population is in that direction. However, I recognise that it is not possible to have the Federal Capital further north, and, therefore, in consideration for the people in the southern States, I am prepared to accept a compromise. Senator Givens said that if a man held the opinion that Dalgety is the best site, he ought to give all his support to that site. My own idea is that the best site would be found somewhere in New England, but, as I cannot have my own way, I must be content to accept the next best site. This question has been hanging up, like Mahomet’s coffin, for a long while, but I hope that before the elections take place it will be finally settled. I intend to support the Bill as it stands.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland) [3.34!- - I dare say that a number of people would like to see this question settled right away, but I do not know that there is any cause for hurry; at any rate, I have hitherto seen no undue anxiety exhibited by Senator Sayers and others who are now urging haste. ‘ When Parliament did decide the matter, we found honorable senators twisting and altering their opinions, because they thought, by doing so, to placate people who happened to reside in one State of the group. I do not agree with that view, because I believe in our legislating in the interests of Australia, and not in the interests of any particular State, regardless of the fact whether the people in the particular State may, or may not, be satisfied with our decision. Senator Sayers said that no one voted for Dalgety, and he wished to know the reason why. As I understand the matter, the question came up as one involving a large district described as Tooma-Dalgety, with a view to selecting the exact site subsequently. If my memory serves me right, Senator Walker himself suggested that this was a. very good district, taking . in the whole line of country across from Dalgety, and ten different sites for a city were mentioned therein.
– The honorable senator gave his vote for Tumut.
– Because a number of honorable senators, while they believed it necessary to go further north than Dalgety, could not be induced to give their vote for Canberra, which they regarded as altogether unsuitable. When the Government found that they could not get honorable senators to desert Dalgety, they decided to take in a few thousand square miles on which all could agree, and from which there could afterwards be selected an area which they hoped would meet the requirements of the case.
– Tumut was not in the area that was voted for.
– It could reasonably have been included in the area, because it is in the same line of country. If Senator Sayers believes that the Federal Capital should be in New England, why did he not vote for Armidale? My recollection is that there was not a single vote for that site ; but if, in his opinion, that is the best, he should have voted for it, at any rate in the first instance.
– And played into the honorable senator’s hands ?
– The honorable senator did not think it wise to do what was correct and straightforward, because he feared it would be playing into some one else’s hands. Such a consideration would have been a matter of indifference to me; and I should certainly have voted for the site I favoured, at any rate in the first instance.
– Then why did not the honorable senator vote for Dalgety?
– Because Dalgety took in the whole of the district, whereas Armidale could not have been included in Yass-Canberr’a. I admit that Queensland is gaining population rapidly, but I do not know that population is altogether a reason for placing the Federal Capital in any particular locality. It should be selected quite independently of the population settled upon it. We cannot foretell what will be the trend of our population in the years to come. In the United States to-day, the trend of population is not towards the Federal City - it is west. Instead of the Federal Capital of that country being established where it is, it should have been established a long way further west, if it is to be located in what will be the populous part of America at the close of the next century. Senator Pulsford has referred us to the Constitutional compact in connexion with this matter. We all know that the Constitution provides that the Federal territory shall embrace an area of not less than 100 square miles. But we had a right to ask New South Wales to grant us 1,000 square miles if we deemed that course a desirable one to take.
– Or 1,000.000 square miles.
– No limit is imposed as to the area for which we may ask, but there is a limit upon what we may reasonably expect to get.
– We might have asked for the whole of New South Wales outside of the too miles limit from Sydney.
– I think that the Commonwealth might have done something for New South Wales if the members of this Parliament had adhered to its selection of Dalgety.
-Had this Parliament adhered to its choice of Dalgety, it would have opened up a new province.
– Undoubtedly, even though a little traffic might have been diverted from Sydney. Senator Pulsford has referred to the enormous advance which has been made in this matter. I fail to sec where that advance has taken place. There has been a considerable amount of engineering indulged in, and the true interests of Australia have been sacrificed in a desire to placate the New South Wales Government. This Parliament expressly stated that it was prepared to abide by the terms of the Constitution. It accepted in good faith the offer by the New South Wales Government of an area at Dalgety. But ever since that area was selected wire-pulling has been proceeding incessantly with a view to inducing the members of this Parliament to reverse their votes. Unfortunately that agitation has been successful. I do not consider that such a condition of affairs represents an advance. It reminds me of the sort of advance that is made by a crab. Senator Pulsford has complimented certain honorable senators upon the fact that they have withdrawn their opposition to the YassCanberra site, and he alluded pointedly to Senator Pearce in this connexion. But, seeing that only last year Senator Pearce introduced into this Chamber a Bill relating to the acceptance of the YassCanberra area, I fail to see how hecould now oppose that particular site. He can scarcely be expected to say, “ Because I am not a Minister of the Crown, I propose to withdraw all that 1 stated last year.” It is that sort of conduct which induces a large number of people throughout Australia to regard political life as a subject for ridicule. They too frequently see honorable members being pulled this way and that way by every little parochial influence. If they honestly hold an opinion, they ought at least to adhere to it. They ought not to be so susceptible to every passing breeze. Senator Pulsford has told us that New South Wales has agreed to grant the Commonwealth a considerable area of territory at Yass-Canberra. That is so. But the Government of that State did not agree to act so generously in this connexion when the Commonwealth Parliament selected Dalgety. On the contrary, they at once said, “You have no right to an area of 900 square miles. The Constitution contemplates an area of only 100 square miles.” I am firmly convinced that it would have been years before New South Wales would have agreed to cede to the Commonwealth such an area of land near Dalgety as would have conduced to a satisfactory settlement of this question. I do not think that we have to thank the New South Wales Government for anything in this regard, because they only agreed to cede us this country when they had secured their own way.
– Does not the honorable senator recognise that New South Wales wanted to have the Federal Capital established much further north?
– I do not think that she- did. The honorable senator himself may have desired to see it established much further north. The whole idea underlying the action of the New South Wales Government is a desire to make the interests of the Federal Capital subsidiary to those of Sydney. They would not have . hesitated to make a .considerable concession in the matter of area if the Commonwealth had expressed its.1 willingness to settle at Lyndhurst. But simply because the members of this Parliament thought it would be wise, to establish the permanent Seat of Government in a part of New South Wales where nothing had been done to open up the country, all sorts of obstacles were raised by the State authorities. Yet we know that the ex-Premier of New South Wales quite recently purchased an estate in the Monaro district, and has emphasized its qualifications as a health resort. That fact in itself speaks volumes for the wisdom of our selection. Senator Pulsford also took Senator Stewart to task in regard to the number of people whom the latter declared are settled in the YassCanberra area. He pointed out that there are more residents in the Yass-Canberra area than are to be found in the Monaro area. But I would ask the honorable senator whether the same railway facilities obtain in reference to the Monaro district? When one considers the railway facilities which are enjoyed by Yass: Canberra, he must admit that the number of settlers within it does not redound to its credit. Yesterday we were told that large areas there are devoted to wheat growing. As a matter” of fact the country is chiefly used for grazing purposes.
– Quite a number of .persons hold 40,000 acres each.
– I am quite aware of that.
– We have very many splendid pieces of country in New South Wales upon which hardly anybody is settled.
– But there are not many areas there which possess railway facilities and in which the settlement is so sparse as it is in Yass-Canberra. ‘
– The honorable senator must bear in mind that the population of Queanbeyan is not included in the YassCanberra area.
– I quite realize that. My remarks were prompted by’ the statement that quite a number of people in the Yass-Canberra district are engaged in agriculture.
– About 4,000.
– We are getting along very nicely. The first statement made in this connexion was that a couple of hundred people were settled in the area. Senator Pulsford afterwards stated that the number was 1,200, and now Senator Neild says it is 4,000.
– There are 1,200 persons within the area which it is proposed to surrender, and 4,000, if we include the residents of Queanbeyan, which is just outside that area.
– Such statements are altogether misleading. It is idle to suggest that there is a good deal of agricultural work being done at YassCanberra. As Senator W. Russell has pointed out, some large estates are to be found there embracing areas of 40,000 to 50,000 acres. But that fact does not argue that the country is very productive. In the Monaro district a number of persons are settled upon comparatively, small grazing areas.
– One family alone holds 25 miles of country fronting the Snowy River. That’ is not a small area.
– But there are a number of persons who hold comparatively small areas - areas of 2 .500 acres and upwards. I was told that some were making a living on smaller areas, but I found that they were running a few sheep, and getting work outside their selections between the seasons. Senator Pulsford has held out to honorable senators , a great inducement to vote against this Bill. He has said that he hopes the Bill will not be rejected, but that if it is, in all probability, the next time the question is brought before this Parliament the site proposed will be considerably further north. As a number of honorable senators believe that the Federal Capital should be established further north, the honorable senator has advanced one of the best reasons that could be suggested for the rejection of this Bill. I intend to vote against the second reading of the measure, because, since I saw this country, -I have been of the opinion that it would be one of the worst things that could happen to establish’ the Federal Capital in the Yass-Canberra district. I shall nive a few reasons why I consider the district unsuitable for this purpose. When the selection of a site for the Federal Capital was first proposed, the Government of the day drew up a number of what were considered necessary qualifications for a suitable site. Tn the first place, it was to be not less than too miles from Sydney, and of not less than a certain elevation. The YassCanberra site complies with both these conditions. The next essential qualification was an adequate water supply. We have heard that a very large supply is to be obtained from the Cotter River. I remember that Mr. Scrivener, in. his first report on the Yass-Canberra site, condemned it on the ground of the inadequacy of the water supply. It is somewhat peculiar that, since be submitted that report, he has been, if not cashiered altogether, at least put in the background by the New South Wales Government, while other engineers have been instructed to report upon the site. That was referred to by Mr. Wade in the speech which he made in asking the Parliament of New South Wales to accept the terms of the agreement which is to be embodied in this Bill. The New South Wales Government at first contended that there was plenty of water in the Cotter River to supply a large population, but they have since thought it wise to drag in four or five other rivers. They are now prepared to give the Commonwealth water-rights over a large area of country outside the catchment area of .the Cotter River, in order to provide a sufficient water supply. They would not think that necessary if they were satisfied that a sufficient supply could be obtained from the Cotter River. Every one knows, from Mr. Scrivener’s reports and other sources of information, that it is not possible to obtain a sufficient supply for even a comparatively small population from the Cotter. That river would not afford a supply that could always be depended upon, though, in certain seasons, no doubt, it would supply more than would be required. Mr. Scrivener pointed out that the cost of making provision for an adequate water supply for this site would be very great, ‘and he has admitted that it is not to be compared from the point of view of an adequate water supply with the site which he strongly favoured, and which he recommended to the Federal Government. But Mr. Scrivener was retired into the background, and other engineers were sent out by the New South Wales Government, and have submitted what are alleged to be favorable reports concerning the water supply of the Yass-Canberra site.
– The honorable senator will admit .that Mr. Scrivener does not profess to be a water expert, whilst the other officers referred to are hydraulic, engineers.
– Mr. Scrivener was considered sufficiently expert to be able to report, not only upon the suitability of a site in the Monaro district for the future Federal Capital, but also upon the character of the water supply available for that site. He gave more information to this Parliament, and to members of it who visited the Monaro district, than has ,been given by other persons in connexion with the water supply available for the YassCanberra site. We have receiver! a report from Mr. De Burgh upon a number of other rivers besides the Cotter River j and I should like to point out that this report is altogether an afterthought. The New South Wales Government did not offer anything more than the catchment area of the Cotter River, until they found it was necessary to do so, in order to induce members of this Parliament to go back upon the votes they had given, and favour this particular site, which I suppose the New South Wales Government had in their minds all the time. We really are given very little information in Mr. De Burgh’s report beyond the fact that, at certain times of the year, a great quantity of water comes down these small rivers. There is little or no information given as to the expense which would be involved in conveying this water to the Capital site. It is all very well to say that so many miles away a fair water supply can be obtained ; but we should know what will be the probable cost of tapping that supply. At one time, the City of Liverpool in the Old Country derived a fair water supply from a source at no great distance; but as the population increased, it was -found necessary to’ go down into North Wales and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure a supply sufficient to meet the requirements of the city. If the people of Liverpool fifty years before this was done were told that an adequate water supply could be obtained in North Wales, they would have desired to know what expense would be involved in making it available. We are told by Mr. De Burgh that there is a considerable flow of water in the Gudgenby River, amounting to so many millions of gallons a year, and capable of supplying so man” hundreds of thousands of people with so much water per day. But we require more complete information. We require to know to what expenditure we shall be committing the Commonwealth if we ratify the agreement now under consideration. We ale told that a considerable quantity of water comes down the Naas River and Paddy’s River, and Mr. De Burgh informs us that a portion of the catchment area of Paddy’s River is sufficiently elevated to enable a dam to be constructed at a certain place, which would hold some water which might be conveyed by gravitation to the Capital site. We are also told that if we required water from the other stream, we should have to pump it. “ Another qualification, suggested for the Federal Capital site was its accessibility by rail from Sydney and Melbourne. The Yass-Canberra site is not very accessible ; I understand that the New South Wales Government have undertaken to construct a. branch line from Canberra to Yass, so that people desiring to go to and from the site to Melbourne might avoid having to go round by Goulburn. We have to consider the accessibility of the Federal Capital, not only for members of the Federal Parliament, but for people from various parts of the Commonwealth who, during a session, may desire to visit the Seat of Government, possibly to make representations in connexion with business before Parliament in which they may be interested.
– I know of no Parliament in the world in which some lobbying is not carried on. My only regret is that it should be so often successful, lt has never had the slightest effect upon me, either in this Parliament or the Queensland Parliament. I usually have been left severely alone, for the simple reason that, as soon as any one has attempted lobbying with me, I have said that all information given to me must be put in writing, so that I may know exactly what I am dealing with ; and so that it will not be possible for any one to get behind my back afterwards and contradict statements previously made. T admit that it is a weakness of Parliament that lobbying should be possible ; but it has been denounced more strongly in the United States, where it is most potent, than in any other part of the world. I say that we should consider the accessibility of the Capital site to people in various and remote parts of the Commonwealth. Some people appear to believe that if it is possible to travel to a place over a few hundred miles of railway, that is all that is requeued. But I do not think so. If the Federal Parliament had adhered to its first choice in the selection of a site for the Federal Capital it would have been easily and cheaply accessible to the people of Australia generally.^
– And dangerous to live in.
– I cannot understand how it can be said that Dalgety can be dangerous to live in. I suppose, however, that when we are as old as is Senator W. Russell, nearly every place will appear to us dangerous to live in, because we shall be drawing nearer _ to the allotted span of life, and will be in no hurry to get ‘ out. Some of the most bitter opponents of the selection of the site in the Monaro district have admitted that it is one of the most salubrious portions of New South Wales. If that be so, then it seems to me that there should not be such a strong objection as Senator W. Russell seems to take to the site on account of it being a dangerous place to live in.
– Was that the Commissioners’ recommendation ?
– It was the recommendation of the Government of New South Wales, the strongest opponent to the Federal Capital being located on the Monaro.
– It was placed last in the list by the Commission of experts who reported on the sites.
– It does not matter, whether it was placed last or first.
– It makes all the difference.
– Surely if the Commission went round to various places and proceeded on certain lines, they might be expected to do their duty honestly, to give the Parliament the benefit of their experience, and to state the truth, as far as it was apparent to them-, in regard to every site. I am not going to say that the Commission, simply because they were tired, and because this w_as the last place they had to examine, said that it would be the best place for .the Federal Parliament to select.
– They said that it was the worst place.
– There are some persons who regarded the site from only one point of view. They said that it was a cold place, and that a more warm or even temperature was required for the Federal Capital than that which had been registered in that part of the State. It was pointed out that the ‘Commonwealth needed a site which would be accessible to the average person in Australia, who wanted to travel. Had, for instance, a Monaro site been selected, what would have been the result? An opportunity would have been afforded to people all round the continent to travel cheaply by water to Twofold Bay, whence, with the aid of water which was available, the Government could have laid down an electric railway to the Capital* and visitors could have transacted their business there at the least possible expense and inconvenience. In dealing with a question of this kind, the interests of the people of Australia should be considered, not merely the interests of a few men who may be selected to represent the people in Parliament, nor altogether the interests of the Federal officers who will be required to perform their duties at the Capital. It seems to me that to a very great extent the selection of a site is regarded purely from the point of view of a few men - 100 odd - who are selected from all over Australia to represent the people in Parliament. That is, from the point of view that it must be easy for such persons to come from Sydney, or Melbourne, or from other portions of the States which they represent. Another point which was taken was in regard to water power for generating electric light. Canberra offers very few facilities in that regard. I know that the agreement contains the concession that the Federal Government shall be able to generate electricity on some part of the Snowy River, and that the State will grant them- facilities for carrying the power over State land practically free of cost. Electricity for power purposes can be carried a great deal better to-day than it could be years ago, but the question of cost must not be forgotten, and the loss of pow.er in transit is a big item. It would be a long way better if we were able to get this power as near its source as possible. Certainly it would be far cheaper to the Commonwealth. I take it, that the Government will sometimes look at .questions from an economical point of view. They are now realizing that they have come to the end of their tether so far as money available for carrying out public works is concerned.
– They got there long ago.
– I know that, but apparently they are only just realizing that fact, and as a result the State of New South Wales is prepared to allow the Commonwealth in connexion with water and motive ‘ power to assume an enormous responsibility, which, in my opinion, it has no warrant for assuming.
– It would be a Labour Government which would have the responsibility of carrying out the work.
– That has’ often been the case with the States, and possibly, as my honorable friend suggests, it may be the. case with the Commonwealth. I desire now to refer to the question of commanding sites for public buildings’, suitable ground for laying out and constructing a capital. I have made only one visit to Canberra, and I was surprised that it was ever offered to the Commonwealth as a site for the Federal Capital. It is a small plain measuring 5- miles by 7 miles, and is surrounded by hills, so that from whichever side it is approached it looks like a place in a hole. Is that a position which should be selected for the Federal city? Is it a place which is ‘ likely to attract visitors, when they know that by driving round as it were the rim of a basin, they can look down at the city and see all the public buildings ? It does not seem to me to be “a site which should recommend itself to this Parliament. I do not say that I know very much about the locality, but not very long ago I met two men who were born and brought up on the Duntroon Estate. Happening to talk about’ the question of a site for the Federal Capital one of them said, “ I see that your people have been talking about coming up on the place where I was born and establishing a capital.” I admitted that a majority of the members of this Parliament had decided that the Federal Capital should be erected in that part of the district. He expressed an opinion which it would be unparliamentary for me to repeat here regarding the intelligence of the men who had selected the site. He had been born and* brought up there, and he stated that while it was perhaps a very good place for per- sons who wanted a small area of land - there was some very good land on a little plain, which I think he mentioned measured 5 miles by 7 miles - for certain produce, still it was not a suitable site for the city in which public business for the whole of Australia would be transacted.’ Then we were told that there was no need to erect a city on the plain, as it could be established on the side of a hill. That does not seem to me to be a recommendation. What the Federal Government and Parliament should demand, even if the question is not settled for twenty years - what the people of Australia would, I believe, demand, if they knew all the circumstances - should be that the best site available from the point of view of accessibility and commanding position, should be selected. Who has not approached a large city which stood out prominently at a distance, and at once suggested an idea of its dimensions? Again, how many of us have not approached places which were located in a hollow, and could not be seen at all until one approached as it were the rim of the basin? On my first visit of inspection I was’ taken to Bombala, which is located in a basin and surrounded by hills. We were told that one of its recommendations was that it was sheltered from wind blowing in a certain direction. So far as I could see it was similar to the situation in which the Federal Capital would be if established at Canberra. We spent about a day at Bombala, and we had to travel for a few miles before we could get out of the basin. I never had an idea of casting a vote for that site, although there were some persons who said that it was a splendid place. They pointed out to me the qualities of the land, the suitable building material, and other points ; but I concluded as the result of my inspection, that nothing would induce we to vote for the selection of a site of that description. I wanted to secure the selection of a site on which could be erected a city which would stand out prominently to approaching visitors, and be regarded with feelings of pride and pleasure. I do not propose to go into the question of the fertility of the country, because I think that I can admit that the land at Canberra is, in all probability, in this regard, better than a considerable area that I saw at Dalgety. But fertility of soil is riot a paramount consideration in the selection of a site for the Capital City. In some towns, in the midst of fertile country, the nature of the soil has led to large expenditure in the making and maintenance of roads. I know places in Queensland where it has cost thousands of pounds 1.0 maintain a few chains of road, because the metal all disappears in the beautiful fertile soil. Some district where we are sure of having good foundations for building would be more suitable than an area of good agricultural land or sand beds; although the latter would not prove so costly, perhaps, as the former. If it is proposed to build a city on a flat, such as I understand the agreement refers to, then it seems to ir.e that economy is not a consideration.
– Did the honorable senator’s informants give him to understand that the proposed site was not only flat, but hollow?
– Yes ; so I understood.
– Would the honorable senator judge a site on the word of a man who has never been away from Duntroon?
– The two men to whom I referred have travelled Australia more than has Senator Millen, and more than that- honorable senator is likely to travel for some time to come. Although they do not know Western Australia, they are familiar with the whole of the eastern States, from the Peninsula to Victoria, and also, I believe, with parts of South Australia.
– The honorable senator said that these men had been at Duntroon for thirty years?
– I said that they had been born and brought up on the Duntroon Estate ; and I may add that they spoke’, more strongly than any I have ever heard against the proposed site for a Capital.
– Have we any evidence as to the building material available?
– I have never been able to find such evidence, beyond a statement that there is no timber in the district. In the case of Yass-Canberra, nothing is said in the report as to stone or other building material, though the expert evidence in regard to Dalgety and some of the other sites, shows that there is plenty within a reasonable distance. A number of honorable senators seem to think that it does not matter whether there is railway communication from the proposed Capital site to the sea ; but T have no sympathy with any such view. My desire is to do away, as much as possible, with the petty parochial feeling which has grown up in the different States, particularly in connexion with the naval expenditure. For some years, the States paid a Naval Subsidy of ,£200,000 per annum ; and we know that in the State Parliaments there was always a feeling that, because a contribution was made to that subsidy, it was only fair that some of the work in connexion with the Navy should be done in each of the States. Senator Pearce pointed out, not long ago, that that parochial feeling is very rife at the present time. The Labour Government sent Home for a vessel which would be prepared for putting together here by Australian workmen. The first thing we heard was that that work must be done in Melbourne, where there were facilities and men available, and thereupon we had the Premier of New South Wales saying that if the work came to Melbourne there would be “ a devil of a row.” It has been stated in Melbourne by newspapers and public men in the Federal Parliament that, while the Commonwealth undertakes a certain liability under the Naval Agreement, that agreement leads to the expenditure of ^350,000 per annum in one capital in Australia. Is it not time that all such questions were regarded from an Australian point of view? If there be railway communication between the Federal Capital and the sea, I believe that naval work may be carried out on a very large scale at the port by the Federal Government, because they will then be able to build and handle their own vessels, see to their armament, and do everything necessary. I’n the case of the Dalgety site, a survey was made -of the 68 miles to Twofold Bay, and there was a report giving the grades, probable cost, and so forth. I am not now dealing with the relative merits of Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay, but merely referring to the reports on the railway projects. The Commonwealth will certainly require to have shipyards and arsenals, and it is necessary that on the coast there should be a community entirely under the control of the Federal Government and beyond any interference from the States. In the Old Country, warships are laid down in various dockyards at Devonport, Portsmouth, and elsewhere, and the whole of the work is under the control of the central Government. In the case of the Yass-Canberra site we have no guarantee of the accessibility of deep water. The engineers, so far as I know, give no information on the point, beyond a report from the Chief Engineer of Railways and Tramways of New South Wales, who tells us that a survey has been made of a very small part of the route. I do not know whether it is true or not, but I have been told that this is the roughest and worst country that could possibly be selected, over which to construct a railway. That information does not come to me from any one in the Federal Parliament, but from men who have worked at Braidwood and the mining districts in that part of the country.
– Is “the country more broken up than that between Bombala or Dalgety, and Twofold Bay?
– I understand that it is.
– I think there ought to be a quorum. [Quorum, formed.’]
– This line will be considerably longer than would a line from Dalgety. The report of Mr. Surveyor Kennedy reads -
The length of the proposed line to be constructed from the Cooma Railway to the port is approximately 96 miles. The point of departure is 26 miles from Queanbeyan towards Goulburn, and allowing 8 miles from Queanbeyan to the proposed Capital Site, the distance to the port from the Federal Capital will be approximately 130 miles.
That means that the line from YassCanberra to Jervis Bay will be approximately twice as long as would that from Dalgety. In addition, we have to . recollect that we shall not have access to the enormous water-power that would have been available to us at Dalgety. So that, by agreeing to this Bill, we shall most certainly commit the Commonwealth to an enormous expenditure in the future - an .expenditure the limits of which we cannot at present foresee. That is one of the strongest reasons why this Parliament should have adhered to its choice of Dalgety. Under this Bill, we shall have toundertake the construction of a railway of which the surveyor says* -
I would recommend the adoption of a ruling grade of 1 in 50, with curves of 12 chains radius, as a minimum.
That is a pretty stiff grade. He continues -
The earthworks will be moderately easy. The only bridges of any size are across the Shoalhaven and Mongarlow Rivers. Smaller bridgeswill be required crossing Reedy Creek, Durran Durra Creek, and the Coorang River. The descent towards Jervis Bay is gradual, the highest point being at the departure from the Goulburn-Cooma Railway at 2,550 ft. above sealevel. On the whole of the eastern slopes of the coast line of the State no easier tract of country can be found over which a railway could be constructed from the coast to the tableland. As the land surrounding Jervis Bay is flat, a railway could be taken either to the north or south. The present proposal is to terminate the line on the southern side of the bay.
I well remember reading the report which was submitted far our information in connexion with the Dalgety site, and I have no hesitation in saying that it contained a fair estimate of the expenditure to which the Commonwealth was likely to be committed - assuming that that site had been selected - not only in connexion with the construction of a railway, but in the making of a port, and the generating of power for lighting the city. The whole scheme enabled us to form some sort of idea as co the financial responsibility that we should have been accepting. But from the report upon the Yass-Canberra site, I can gather very little information of any value. Believing that the site for which I originally voted is the best which can be chosen in the interests of Australia, I intend to vote for the rejection of the proposed agreement. I hold that it would be preferable to allow the settlement of this question to remain in abeyance for a year or two than to irretrievably commit the Commonwealth to 4 site which is not the best in the interests of the nation.
– I intend to vote against. the second reading of this Bill; although I recognise that in so doing I shall be going like a lamb to the slaughter. Nevertheless, I cannot allow the curtain to fall upon this act of national folly without entering my protest against it, even though that protest may prove ineffective. When we are choosing a site for the Federal Capital, we ought to exercise extreme caution ; but having once made up our minds upon any particular site, we ought not to be too ready to alter them. It will never again fall to our lot to select a Seat of Government for the Commonwealth. In that respect this Bill . differs from any other legislation which we may enact. There is no measure upon our statute-book, which is not subject to alteration. Even our Constitution itself is susceptible of amendment, and of being moulded to accord with the wishes of the people. But when once this Bill has received the stamp of 1 Parliamentary, approval, it will be like the 1 laws of the Medes and Persians - absolutely I unalterable. From it there can be no apt peal. In voting against the Bill, I realize that I shall lay myself open to a certain amount of odium and suspicion, so far as the New South Wales authorities are concerned. But surely we have not yet reached a stage when we must stifle our opinions in order that we may please other people. I trust that the time has not yet arrived when we must suppress the voice of ^conscience for the purpose of satisfying party ends. At any rate, I do not intend to adopt that course. It is because I do not regard Yass-Canberra as a suitable site for the Federal Capital that I intend to oppose the Bill. I shall use all my energies to prevent it from becoming law. In regard to the Yass-Canberra area, the New South Wales Parliament has adopted a very sensible course. I am sorry that it did not adopt a similar common-sense course in dealing with other eligible sites. Had it done so, the permanent Seat of Government would have been selected long ago. and, instead of thisParliament being located in Melbourne, it would have been upon Commonwealth Territory, and removed from the baneful influences alike of Melbourne and Sydney. During the course of the debate mention has been made of the fact - and especially by Senator Pulsford - that New South Wales expected the Federal Capital to be located as close to the 100-miles limit of Sydnev as possible. But I find that the head of the New South Wales Government entirely ignores that consideration. In speaking upon this matter the other day, he said -
In. the first place, we recognise that the final determination of the question under the Constitution rests in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. We can only claim to intervene in this question rather by way of suggestion of a helpful character than by way of laying down a proposition for the Commonwealth acceptance or rejection.-
That declaration entirely dissipates the idea to which Senator Pulsford gave expressionIt would be absurd to contemplate the final settlement of this question as being vested in any other than the Commonwealth Parliament. It has been affirmed in the New South Wales Parliament that those who oppose the selection of Yass-Canberra are desirous of retaining the Seat of Government in Melbourne. So far as I am concerned, that statement is absolutely without warrant. At the last general election I embraced every opportunity of telling the electors of Western Australia that I was anxious to see the Commonwealth Parliament established in Federal Territory at the earliest possible moment. My action, therefore, has been thoroughly consistent throughout. I am anxious to see this question speedily determined, but I am averse to a site being selected which I do not regard as the ideal one.
– Did the honorable senator when in Western Australia suggest Dalgety as the best site?
– Yes, I did. It is a very great disadvantage that in deciding questions of this nature honorable senators should be influenced by party feelings. On the occasion of the last vote Dalgety had very fair support in this Chamber.
– Dalgety did not get a. vote.
– We know <- that one honorable senator departed from bis real choice because he did not care to see the party to which, he belonged placed in an awkward position.
– What about the seventeen honorable senators who left Dalgety for Tumut?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is perfectly well aware that those who on the occasion referred to voted for Tumut, the first choice of Senator McColl, did so in order- to keep Dalgety still in the running, and because they believed that was the best means they could adopt to secure the ultimate selection of Dalgety. A great deal- has been said as to the value of the land in the Yass-Canberra district. Let me saythat I think there are many matters of far greater importance than the quality of the land to be considered in selecting the most suitable site for the establishment of a Federal Capital. If honorable senators are of the opinion that the value of the land surrounding the Capital site should be taken into consideration the prospects for YassCanberra are not very hopeful. There is a vast area of Crown lands in the district, which are valued by officials of the New South Wales Lands Department at from 5s. to 2s. 6d. per acre. That is a matter to which I .direct the attention of Senator W. Russell, who considers the quality of the land an important factor in deciding the suitability of a particular site. The figures contained in a report by an official of the New South Wales Lands Department should be conclusive on this question. I fmd that in the Cotter catchment are;.. out of a total of 129,000 acres, no less than 105,000 acres are valued at less than 5s. per acre. About 90 per cent, of the total area of the Cotter watershed is valued at less than 5s. per acre. That is an indication that the land must be of a most inferior quality. Out of a total of 246,000 acres comprising the Queanbeyan area which is offered for the acceptance of the ‘Commonwealth about 92,000 acres are estimated to be worth less than 5s. per acre; 34,000 acres out of a total of 129,000 acres of the . Molonglo River water-shed are valued at less than 5s. per acre. I do not regard excellent land as an essential factor in deciding the suitability of a site. We know that many very large cities have almost barren surroundings. The great city of San Francisco, for instance, is built on a succession of sand hills, and the rising city of Perth, ‘ in Western Australia, is surrounded to a great extent by, sandy country. Whilst the quality of the soil need not enter largely into the question there can be no doubt that an adequate water supply must be regarded as the most essential factor in deciding the suitability of a site. How does the Yass-Canberra site stand in the matter of water supply? Unfortunately we have so many varying estimates given of the supply to be obtained from the Cotter that we are left in a state of bewilderment. The Cotter is mentioned as the principal source of the water supply available for the YassCanberra site. The Premier of New South Wales has said that a sufficient supply can be taken from* the gravitation point on the Cotter River to meet the requirements of a population of 500,000, but we have a New South Wales Government expert reporting that the supply would not be sufficient for a population of more than 250,000. We should attach some weight to the reports of officials appointed by the Commonwealth authorities to inquire into the suitability of Yass-Canberra as a site for the Federal Capital. They have dealt with the Cotter River water supply, and honorable senators will find that at page 16 of his report Mr. Scrivener says -
The Cotter River cannot be regarded as a satisfactory source from which to obtain a water supply, and for the following reasons -
He then sets out the reasons. An Advisory Board was appointed to supersede Mr. Scrivener to some extent, and I find that the members of the Board are by no means enthusiastic about the prospects of the Cotter River as a source of a reasonable water supply. At page 31 of their report they say -
According to the 1908 records the supply at the point of gauging is sufficient for the domestic and civic requirements of a population of 250,000 ; the total volume from the catchment area of 170 square miles would be available however only by pumping.
There is a serious discrepancy between the estimates of the supply given by the Advisory Board and that given bv Mr. Wade.
– There is no discrepancy. The estimates were made on different’ bases.
– I think the Minister would have some difficulty in explaining the discrepancy. The Advisory Board state that at the point of gauging below the confluence of Paddy’s River and the Cotter River, and within a mile of the Murrumbidgee, a supply might be derived from the Cotter River equal to the requirements of a population of 250,000.
– That is based on the record for an extremely dry year. The other estimate is based on the record for the following year.
– The estimate given in the New South Wales Parliament is based on records from February to September of last year.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon, he will find that it is. We appointed a Board to whom we have to look for advice, and they estimate the utmost capacity of the Cotter River at the lowest point, and within a mile from its junction with the Mumimbidgee, as being equal to the requirements of a population of only 250,000. Later the Board give a more cautious estimate, and at page 31 of their report they say -
To meet the combined demands the full development of the Cotter would (so far as available data indicates during the 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 simply and a power installation could be laid down at a cost that would be economical.
Getting clown to bed-rock on this important question we find that a Board comprised nf four New South Wales experts, whose sympathies we may assume are with the views held general] v in New South Wales, give it as their opinion that the total ca pacity of the Cotter River in a dry season - and of course dry seasons must be provided lor - is equal only to the requirements of 50,000 people, and that it is out of the question to suggest that it would provide a sufficient supply for the generation of power. I have said that it is our duty to consider not what might be wanted to-day or to-morrow, or even fifty or one hundred years hence, but the requirements of generations to come. If honorable senators are satisfied that a water supply which would meet the requirements of a population of 250,000 would be sufficient for the future, I am not. I take into account the expense to which those who come after us would be put in having to bring water for 80 or 90 miles from the Snowy River for the purposes of the future population of the Federal Capital. In their interests I oppose this measure when we have as an alternative the selection of a Capital site th?.t would be right alongside an unlimited water supply for domestic purposes and for the generation of power.
– If we look sufficiently far ahead we shall be getting water from the canals in Mars.
– [ am not concerned with the honorable senator’s frivolous interjection, but I am concerned about the cheap and easy supply of water-power for the generation of electricity for the future Federal Capital. If the Dalgety site were selected sufficient water-power could be readily and cheaply obtained for the generation of electric power. Of course, as I have said, we shall have at Canberra enough water to supply a very large number of persons - according to the Board’s advice, up to 250,000 persons. But in a. century we hope to have a population at the Capital of even more than that number. According to the data before us we have no chance of getting cheap electrical power from the Cotter River or any other source in the Yass-Canberra. area. I am looking to the needs of the city almost within the first ten years of its existence. So far as water is concerned, I readily admit that we are safe in counting upon a supply equal to the requirements of 250,000 persons. But take the case of Washington. A little over a century ago there were only a. few farmers located on the banks of the Potomac River, whereas now there is a> population of about 300,000 persons in theneighbourhood of Washington. Surely itis right that we should consider the wantsof a growing population, even one hundred years hence, and that we should not leave them to transport water from a great distance to the city.. Alternative sources of supply are mentioned in a report by Mr. De Burgh, who has made what appears to me to be some rather curious calculations on the quantity of water which can be obtained from the Gudgenby River. He said that the entire water-shed of the river is 114 square miles, and calculated the flow therefrom at 14,874,000,000 gallons. The watershed, it may be noticed from the map, lies a little to the east of the Cotter watershed, and is in very much the same climate so far’ as rainfall is concerned. Reporting on the Cotter catchment which lies almost alongside, Mr. De Burgh stated that from its watershed of 160 square miles the total flow would be 13.572,000,000 gallons. From a watershed of 46 square miles more he estimated a flow of 1,302,000,000 gallons less. Although the Cotter catchment has a total watershed of 160 square miles, and the Gudgenby a watershed of 1 14 square ‘ miles, yet the Cotter is estimated to give a flow of I,302,000,000 gallons per annum less. So that the larger catchment area, according to this engineer, is expected to give a smaller rainfall to the extent to which I have stated. Now reducing the question to the basis of the number of gallons which the two streams could supply, and taking the Cotter basis of gauging and applying it to the Gudgenby, 9,780,000,000 gallons would be its flow, not 14,874,000,000 gallons, as he stated. Of course, it may be said that the rainfall in the two places might be different. But the rivers are so close together that it seems extraordinary that one river with a watershed area of 46 square miles more than the other should be relied upon by the same authority to yield 1,302,000,000 gallons ‘less water. No doubt he may have had very, good ground for making that statement, but it seems incredible to think that the Cotter,- which is supposed to be the main source of supply would yield very much less, although there are 46 more square miles from which to gather the water. The alternative sources of supply are quite hopeless. The Molonglo and Queanbeyan rivers have been reported as sources which dry up in a dry season. Mr. Scrivener, for instance, states that, when a dry season comes no water flows in them. He also refers to the Gudgenby as a river which it is impossible to consider for a moment as a source of supply. Then the only alternative source which we can fall back upon is the Goodradigbee, and on that we have no information at all. It seems that a supply from the Molonglo and Queenbeyan would be required to form the proposed artificial lake, but according to Mr. Scrivener they go dry in a dry season. The Gudgenby has been described by the same authority as an unfit source of supply, and regarding the Goodradigbee River there is no information whatever. Seeing that we have the Cotter equal at the most to supply a population of only 250,000 persons, we shall be justified in rejecting the Bill in favour of one which will include Dalgety, where an unlimited quantity of water is available. I intend to vote against the second reading principally on account of the deficient water supply. So far as the agreement is concerned I’ think that we should ask for the piece of land at Jervis Bay, which includes the knob out to Wreck Bay. The area which is delineated on the map in pink colour is altogether too small. It measures only 80 chains on the eastern side, and very much less than three-quarters of a mile at the central portion, that is from, high water to the southern boundary. The land there is not so valuable, and instead of the area which the State Government are prepared to grant, they should give us the whole of that knob, which would provide the Commonwealth, with a suitable frontage to the sea. and make a compact area in which to carry on various operations. I also find that in the agreement, power is only taken to bring electrical power from the Snowy River to the Federal territory, which includes the areas in the counties outlined in the schedule. It would be advisable to seek power to bring electrical power from the Snowy River to the site at Jervis Bay, because the time must come when the Commonwealth will have very many factories at that place. It will, for instance, have there an arsenal, a ship-repairing yard, and many factories which will be very necessary for the carrying on of the several Departments. It would be very foolish not to obtain the right to bring electrical power from the Snowy River to the various factories. If, unfortunately, the Bill is read a second time, I intend to move an amendment in that direction. We shall take a foolish step if we accept the Canberra site. It does not possess the essential qualification of a suitable water supply. In the hope of getting a chance to select a better site for the Capital of this continent, I intend to vote against the motion.
– I should have been pleased if on a very important question of this kind, there had been more unanimity in the Senate. There have been a very large number of the members of both Houses (who h]ave ‘been’ absolutely disinterested. They, like myself, have tried to recognise that a sort of compact has been entered into with New South Wales that the Federal Capital should be established in her territory, and that it was left to this Parliament to select therein as suitable a site as it could.
– The honorable senator might give us all credit for desiring to do that.
– I do, but in his speech yesterday the honorable senator was not so generous in .that regard as he is now claiming that others should be towards himself. I am one of those who originally voted for the Dalgety site. That was because I had read a great deal about the site in the Bulletin, and was largely influenced by the beautiful picture which it had placed before the public. But afterwards I had an opportunity to visit Dalgety and Canberra, and I must confess that my views were considerably altered. Other things being equal, it seems to mei that it is only fair to pay some respect to the wishes of the State in which the Federal City is to be situated. If there are two equally suitable sites, and one is approved by the State - which, bv the way,- is not a foreign State, though at times we have reason, to think honorable senators believe so - we should pay due regard to the views and wishes of the State. On this important question we shall probably have a close division. I agree with Senator Lynch that there are many Acts of Parliament which can be easily altered or amended, but in this case, when we have ratified the agreement by the Bill, we shall not be able honorably to draw back. We are now accepting certain terms and very favorable conditions from New South Wales, and we must foe prepared to accept the full responsibility for our action. I have heard no argument against the proposed site, excepting that in regard to the water supply. But what do any of us here know, except what we are told by professional officers, competent to express an opinion? The reports we have received from professional officers are, to me, quite satisfactory. The treatment of the Commonwealth by New South Wales, in regard to this particular site at any rate, has been absolutely generous from beginning to end. New South Wales is giving a great deal more than the Commonwealth had any right to hope for, and certainly more than the Commonwealth had a right to demand. The State is virtually giving the Commonwealth the right to the electrical power obtainable from the Snowy River, and we know that the transmission of electrical energy is one of the great achievements of modern times. It is not necessary to bring the water from the Snowy River to the Federal territory, because the power can be generated at the most convenient place and transmitted.
– We must not forget that there is considerable loss in transmission over long distances.
– Is there no loss in transmitting water over long distances?
– Yes, and, therefore, the Capital ought to be near the water.
– Where great power can be obtained we can afford the percentage of loss in transmission. I have thought from the first that the minimum area of 100 square miles was set down in the Constitution as an indication of the area we should take, but New South Wales has given us nearly 1,000 square miles, and, practically, territorial rights over another large area.
– Where the rivers dry up in dry seasons !
– Officers who have been paid to investigate the question tell us differently; and on the authority of engineers we can say that there is an ample water supply for a. city of 500,000. Whether gravitation or pumping will be the cheaper, or the more convenient, is a question to be determined later on. I am in no way prejudiced on this question - I have no party feeling about it - and I would just as soon Dalgety were selected as any other place ; but if New South Wales regards Yass-Canberra as the more convenient site - and it certainly possesses the advantage of being more on the high road - I am quite satisfied to accept it. There is ‘one aspect of the case on which we are justified in asking a little more information. When this agreement shall have been ratified by Act of Parliament, the Commonwealth may be immediately called upon to start the building of the city, and we have heard from the Government no indication of their intentions in this important matter.
– The Government say, “ First catch your hare.”
– That applies equally to Dalgety and Yass-Canberra.
– Doubtless, we must first determine the Seat of Government, which I hope we shall, finally and definitely, by this Bill; but, that being done, we have to ask the Government what they are going to do next, and how soon they are going to do it. The financial situation is under consideration by the Commonwealth Parliament and the State Parliaments, and we know it is rather a critical one.
– Is the honorable senator pleading for delay now?
– I am pleading for a certain amount of delay, and also for some indication from the Government as to their intentions in regard to the building of a Capital, assuming the agreement to be ratified.- Before a house can be built there must be a plan, and, of course, a plan is all the more necessary when it is proposed to erect a Capital city in virgin country. We should have absolutely the best advice that the Commonwealth or any other country can furnish.
– This Parliament will not deal with that matter.
– But there are some honorable senators who aspire to be in the next Parliament, and no doubt the present Government think they ought to remain in power. In view pf the financial responsibilities of the Government, we ought to have some indication of their intentions.
– The Minister of Home Affairs is reported to have said that, he is going to invite architects all over the world to compete.
– That will involve some expenditure, to be followed by larger expenditure. Where and how are we going to get the money, and how- are we going to apportion it? We ought to be given some information on these points before we vote for the third reading. I shall vote with pleasure for the second reading, with the acknowledgment that New South Wales in this matter has treated the Commonwealth very fairly, and even generously.
– I do not propose to detain honorable senators very long, but I should like to take the opportunity to make one or two remarks in reply. The criticism of the Bill may be divided into three classes ; arid first we have that which seeks to pourtray the alleged merits of Dalgety against the undoubted merits of Canberra. 1 do not propose to enter into the discussion of that question.
– Then why mention it?
– Because the honorable senator, as one of the critics, might think he was slighted if I did not refer to it. I feel quite satisfied, however, that if an angel from Heaven came down he would not be able to convince Senator Givens. Anything said at this stage as to the merits of one site is not likely to influence the advocates of other sites.
– How much would it take to convince the honorable senator that Dalgety is a good site?
– The honorable senator has not succeeded in so convincing me up to the present. We have dealt with this question so fully and frequently that I am sure we are sick and tired of it ; and I am merely saying that ho argument that could be advanced for one site could affect the allegiance of honorable senators to other sites.
– The honorable senator favoured Dalgety once, did he not?
– I never did. If the honorable senator refers to the time when he swore allegiance to Tumut, he will find that I voted for Canberra. The second class of argument I shall refer to only because it is entitled to be placed on record as revealing something of the eccentricities of Parliamentary debate. We have delivered to the Senate some extraordinary arguments, and I draw attention to some, all from the opponents of the Bill. Senator Henderson was in great trouble yesterday because of the tremendous expense of lifting water up to the heights of Canberra by a pumping scheme, while today Senator Turley, another opponent of the Bill, is seriously troubled because., he says, Yass-Canberra is down in a hole.
– No ; he said the proposed site of the city is in a hole.
– If Senator Turley is down in a hole, why should Senator Henderson be under great expense in pumping: water down to him ? Then Senator Lynch said that any delay in the settlement of the question was due to the action of New South Wales. I shall rot controvert that statement, because New South Wales mav, to some extent, be responsible for an earlier decision not having been arrived at. I shall accept Senator Lynch’s statement on the point ; but he also said he is anxious to see the matter settled. In which way? The honorable senator is anxious to see the matter settled in his own way.
– Is that not Senator Millen’s case also?
– Certainly not. If the House decided now, or at any other time, as it did when Dalgety was adopted, I should be prepared to accept the decision until it came under review. I am not quarrelling with Senator Givens’ decision to give effect to his views, but I regret to see him taking a wrong step. Senator Lynch has reprimanded New South Wales for occasioning delay, and has expressed his anxiety to see the matter settled; and I place his argument against that of Senator Story, who pleaded pathetically that we should not “ rush the. matter,” and asked for delay.
– So does Senator Mulcahy.
– On quite a different ground ; and I propose to devote a little paragraph of my speech to that honorable senator’s benefit. Surely, after nine years, it cannot be alleged that there has been any indecent haste? It is contended that we should not now determine the matter, because, if we definitely decided it now, we should place it beyond the power of a future Parliament to interfere. If that be an argument, it is one which could be addressed to every Parliament, with the result that the question would never be settled. This Parliament is as well equipped and competent to settle the question as any Parliament could ever be. This is especially so with the Senate, seeing that a number of honorable senators have been here for the whole of the nine years, and a large proportion of them, at any rate, for six years. During the whole of that time, this question has been before us. The other class of argument is of an entirely different character; and in it I place that of Senator Pearce, as one certainly entitled to serious consideration. This argument involvesthe question of water-rights in the Queanbeyan area ; and the honorable senator raised the point whether, under the agreement, the position of the Commonwealth would be amply secure. The honorable senator was followed by Senator Symon, who, though taking some exception to the phraseology of the agreement, as leaving room for doubt, pointed out, in reply to Senator Pearce, that the Commonwealth will have certain riparian rights, and that it could do no harm to have an obligation from the State to help, seeing that it would give the Commonwealth two strings to its bow. I draw attention to this matter because, boiled down, it means that without any reference to it in the agreement, the Commonwealth has ample powers under the common law to protect these waters from pollution. As bearing out that contention I would invite the attention of Senator Pearce to a very interesting case which was decided in the United States some time ago. I refer to the case of the State of Missouri v. the State of Illinois. There the complainant brought an action upon the ground that a State higher up the stream was polluting its waters, and the question was raised as to whether or not the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to intervene. In the following terms the Court laid it down that it had jurisdiction -
This Court has jurisdiction and authority to deal with a question of this nature between two States, which, if it arose between two independent sovereignties, might lead to war.
– But American judgments have been ignored in the case of the new Protection.
– My honorable friend is not quite correct there.
– Does not the VicePresident of the Executive Council think that the Federal High Court of the United States probably arrived at that decision by reason of its commerce powers in reference to Inter-State trade?
– No. I now propose to read the comment of an American writer in an American Law Review upon it, because, as the article has been written for magazine purposes, it hasbeen put in a way that appeals to me as a layman more than does the legal phraseology of the Court itself.
That is to say, the case is interesting, first, because it applies to a cause of action between two sovereign States the well defined principle of law that a riparian owner is entitled to have the water of the river come to him in a pure state, and that any material impairment of the purity of the water can be the subject of injunction against the one who pollutes it.
The writer states that the effect of that decision is to lay it down that the rights which are possessed by an individual in respect of another person higher up a stream? are also possessed by a State similarly situated. He goes on to say -
Second, the case opens the door to a recognition that the national government has jurisdiction of the great Inter-State rivers in respect of the “quality” of the water for drinking purposes, and the right to prevent the pollution of that water, as well as the uses for navigation or other commercial purposes.
I merely draw attention to this matter because I think that a more satisfactory answer to my honorable friend will be found in the fact that since this Bill was submitted to the Senate additional words have been inserted in the agreement itself. When Senator Pearce spoke upon this Bill the text of the proposed agreement with New South Wales was not before the Senate. Since then it has been reduced to the form of a legal document, which reads -
The right of the State or of the residents therein to the use and control of the waters of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers and their tributaries which lie to the east of the Goulburn to Cooma railway shall be subject and secondary to the use and requirements of the Commonwealth, which are hereby declared to be paramount, &c.
The use of the words “ secondary to the use and requirements of the Commonwealth, which are hereby declared to be paramount “ make the intent of the proposed agreement abundantly clear.
– There is nothing ambiguous about it.
– It might prove ambiguous if a couple of smart lawyers got to work upon it.
-I come now to the point to which reference has been made by Senator Mulcahy. From his Parliamentary and Ministerial experience, I am quite sure that he thoroughly understands that in politics, as well as out of it, “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof “ is a good proverb. So far the Government have not given consideration to the question of what steps it may ultimately be necessary to take. But I would point out that not a single penny can be expended in the absence of express Parliamentary authority. Without an appropriation the Government cannot act. The first step taken after the passing of this Bill, will, undoubtedly, be to complete in detail the surveys of the city site, with a view to obtaining either by invitation from the world at large or from a more limited area, some designs for the city.
– The Government ought to straight away commence ‘work in connexion with the water supply-
– These are the preliminaries which will have to be undertaken by our surveyors, and upon the character of their reports much will depend as to what steps are subsequently taken. But no step of any magnitude can be taken until Parliamentary sanction to it has been obtained. It will be competent for the Senate, if it thinks that progress is being made with indecent haste, to call a halt. It will be equally competent for it to take action of an opposite character. Whilst I can offer no objection to honorable senators giving utterance to their discredited attachment to Dalgety, I do hope that they will now assist the Government to speedily complete the consideration of this Bill.
Question, - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the Committee have power to consider the agreement referred to in the preamble of the Bill (a copy of which agreement was laid on the table of the Senate on the 20th day of October) with a view to the agreement being embodied in the first schedule of the Bill.
That the Committee be empowered to consider the advisability of substituting the district of Dalgety for that of Yass-Canberra in the Bill,
I desire to point out that it will not be in order to submit an instruction of that character. The question at issue is not a novel one. It was dealt with some time ago when the Electoral Bill was under consideration.
Upon that occasion the principle laid down was that which has been repeatedly laid down in the House of Commons, namely that it is essential that any instruction to a Committee must be relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill. Now this is a Bill “ relating to the acceptance of the territory surrendered by the State of New South Wales, for the Seat of Government for the Commonwealth.” Its preamble sets out that it is desirable that a certain agreement shall be ratified and confirmed. Then the enacting clauses provide that the Act shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by proclamation, and that the Seat of Government Act of 1908 shall be repealed. Clause 4 provides -
The agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State and set out in the first schedule to this Act is hereby ratified and confirmed.
And clause 5 seeks to enact -
It is hereby declared and determined that the Seat of Government shall be in the Territory described in the second schedule to this Act.
The other provisions of the Bill are all subsidiary to its main object, which is the acceptance of a certain territory from New South Wales, and the establishment of a Federal Capital within that territory. May, under the heading of “ Instructions,” says -
Before the House resolves itself, for the first time, into a Committee of the whole House upon a Bill, an instruction may be given to the Committee empowering them to make provision for matters which would exceed a fair interpretation of the rules concerning relevant amendments. To explain the principles that govern the proposal of instructions to Committees of the whole House it must be borne in mind that, under the Parliamentary usage in force in former times, an amendment might be wholly irrelevant to the motion or Bill to which it was proposed, and that, consequently, to a Bill in its progress through the House, clauses might be added relating to any matters however various and unconnected, whether with each other or with the Bill as originally drawn. A reaction from such laxity of procedure led to the establishment of rules and practice which imposed upon the House of Commons an inconvenient rigidity in dealing with a Bill. No amendment could be moved which was not strictly within the scope of the prefatory paragraph, known as the Title, which is prefixed to every Bill, and describes its objects and scope. To obviate the difficulty thus created the House, in1854, bv standing order number 34, gave a general instruction to all Committees of the whole House to whom Bills were committed, which empowered them to make sucli amendments therein as they should think fit, provided that the amendments -were relevant to the subiectmatter of the Bill. . . Amendments to Bills may, however, be offered which exceed the operation of standing order number 34, and which, without a special instruction from the House, could not be considered by the Committee. In entertaining an instruction the House is subject to this primary condition, namely, that the amendments to be sanctioned by an instruction must come within a fair interpretation of the rule laid down by standing order number 34, namely, that those amendments should be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
Thus, as the subject-matter of a Bill as disclosed by the contents thereof when read a second time has since 1854 formed the order of reference which governs the proceedings of the Committee thereon, it follows that the objects sought by an instruction should be pertinent to the terms of that order; and that the amendments which an instruction proposes to sanction must be such as would further the general purpose and intention of the House in the appointment of the Committee. The object of an instruction is therefore, to endow a Committee with power whereby the Committee can perfect and complete the legislation defined by the contents of the Bill.
May further says -
No instruction is permissible which is irrelevant, foreign, or contradictory to the contents of the Bill, or that seeks the subversion thereof, by substituting another scheme for the mode of operation therein prescribed.
Some remarks were made on the matter of instructions by the Speaker of the House of Commons in 1890. He was called upon to give his opinion with regard to the matter generally, and I quote the following extract from’ his speech -
When a Bill has been read a second time, the House has assented to the principle of the Bill. There is a reservation with regard to instructions. If an instruction were to traverse the principle of a Bill, or go so far outside the limits and scope and framework of the Bill as to set up an alternative scheme, or a counter proposition to the Bill, that would virtually be a Second Reading Debate over again. It would be an amendment to the principle of the Bill, and would therefore reduce to a minimum, and would nullify altogether, the provision which the House has passed in the standing order, which states that when the House is prepared to go into Committee the Speaker should leave the chair at once without . any question put. There is nothing in the precedents which go beyond an instruction of this nature - an instruction to amplify the machinery of the Bill to carry out the general purpose and scope of the Bill within the general framework and idea of the Bill. There is no instruction since the alteration of the standing order which could be construed into the traversing of the principle of the second reading of a Bill.
These remarks will be found reported in Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, third series, volume 345. The matter, it will be seen, is laid down very clearly by May, and by the Speaker of the House of Commons, whose remarks I have just quoted. I should also mention that a rule in connexion with this matter was laid down in this ‘Chamber on another occasion, when the Electoral Bill was under consideration. The Bill had been read a second time, and I find that the President, referring to the matter, said -
Contingent upon the Electoral Bill being read a second time, Senator Mulcahy has given notice of his intention to move - “ That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Senate to include measures in the Bill to provide for the election of members of the Senate by the method of preferential voting known ‘ as the Hare System.”
The President then went on to state the. rule which he thought should be accepted by the Senate, and he said-
The Standing Orders are silent as to the cope or limit of instructions on a Bill. It is evident that there must be some limit - some degree of relevancy between the subject-matter of the Bill and the subject-matter of instructions to the Committee on that Bill.
The question is what degree of relevancy should exist? I propose to state the rule and practice of the British Parliament and of all other Houses of Parliament established under the British Crown, so far as I can ascertain them, and the principles on which they are founded, and then to show why we should adopt such rules and practice. According to the rules of the British House of Commons an instruction may amplify the machinery to carry out the general purpose and scope of the Bill within the general framework and idea of the Bill, beyond which the instruction ought not to go. The general rule as to instructions is laid down in May, page 453-
It is unnecessary for me to read again the reference quoted from May. The President also mentioned that in August, 1889, Mr. Speaker Peel ruled that -
An instruction cannot be moved which deals with a question which does not come within the scope of the Bill and which would require to be dealt with in a separate Bill.
He also quoted from the speech of the Speaker of the House of Commons, from which I have already quoted, and pointed out that the Senate could not take the instruction into consideration since the rule as to relevancy had not been observed. Senator Pearce has called my attention to our new standing order 319 (a) which reads -
An instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act which it is proposed to amend, provided that such motion be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.
Then there is a provision with regard to notice. Honorable senators will see that an instruction permissible under that standing order applies to proposed amendments of an Act which it is proposed by a certain Bill to amend. If a Bill is introduced to amend a certain Act, it is within the power of the Senate to instruct the Committee of the Whole, on the Bill to consider a matter which is not embodied in it, is not a portion of the subjectmatter of it, or is not relevant to the Bill, so long as it is relevant to the Act which the Bill has been introduced to amend. Beyond that, the standing order referred to by Senator Pearce cannot be held to go. We are at present concerned with a Bill which does not propose to amend any existing Act at all.
To consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill but which are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend.
That clearly limits instructions to amendments relevant to the Act which the Bill under consideration is introduced to amend. In dealing with a matter of this kind one must consider the Standing Orders, our own precedents, and the precedents laid down by the House of Commons, and it is the duty of any person occupying the position of President of the Senate to direct its attention to any proposal which, if accepted, would, in his opinion, be likely to interfere with the rights and privileges of honorable senators. It would be quite within the competency of the Senate to consider a Bill introduced for the purpose of repealing this measure ; and it was within the competency of honorable senators to vote against the second reading of this Bill if they did not approve of the acceptance of this particular site. But if it were competent for honorable senators to suggest the insertion in this Bill of an alternative site manifestly far beyond the district already selected by Parliament, there is no saying to what length it would be possible to carry a matter of this kind. It might be debated ad nauseam. There must be some finality, and the rule as to the relevancy of amendments is a rule provided for in our own Standing Orders, as well as in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. I hold that this instruction is not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, and that it is not therefore within the competency of the Senate to submit to the Committee on the Bill the instruction which Senator Givens desires should be given.
.- This is an important matter, and one which I think the Senate itself should decide. For that reason I propose, sir, to move that your ruling be disagreed with, and, as required by the Standing Orders, I give notice of disagreement in writing. I have put it in this way -
That the President’s ruling to the effect that an instruction to the Committee to consider the advisability of substituting the district of Dalgety for that of Yass-Canberra in the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill is out of order be disagreed with, on the following grounds -
That the President is mistaken in saying that the proposed instructionis irrelevant ;
That the “ruling would unduly restrict the right of honorable senators to exercise their independent judgment in selecting the best site for the Federal Capital.
I am taking this course because I consider that this is an exceedingly important question which should be decided bv the Senate itself. For the first time, I’ believe, an amendment of our Standing Orders is being interpreted, and therefore it is exceedingly desirable that no precedent should be established, except one which has the general approval of the Senate. As I understood your ruling, sir, the main ground on which you ruled my motion out of order was that its subject-matter was not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. But I hold that it was strictly relevant. Leaving aside all technicalities, what is the subject-matter of the Bill? It is to’ finallv and definitely select a. site for the Federal Capital.
– To accept the surrender of a certain territory.
– The honorable senator can surround the matter with all sorts of word-twisting and technicality, but the fact remains that what we have been considering all the time has been the final and definite selection of a site. If that is correct -and I maintain that it is - then undoubtedly it was competent for the Senate to give an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider other places besides the one named therein. Is our proposal to be ruled out of order simply because in the Bill the Government would not give an opportunity to honorable senators to consider any other place? Is the Senate to be the mere creature of any Government which may happen to occupy the Treasurybench ? Must we accept their determination without any chance of amending it? That, sir, is really what your ruling will amount to if it is indorsed by the Senate. I remember that some time ago a Bill was passed to more definitely fix the site of the Federal Capital. Both Houses of this Parliament agreed, in. deference to the wishes of a portion of the members for New South Wales, to allow another course to be pursued. Those who were then in favour of Dalgety did not fortify themselves behind a point of order. They did not want any counter proposal to be ruled irrelevant or out of order. On the contrary, they said, “ We will give you the opportunity which you ask for. “ But directly those who honestly believe that Dalgety is the best site, and who are really animated by a desire to see this question settled once for all, take an honest course to get a final decision, we are ruled out of order on a point which I think should not have been taken. I am free to admit that so far as I know no member of the Senate did take the point. In the discharge of your duty, sir, it was taken by yourself, and you have thought it fit to rule my motion out of order. But I. maintain that it was not irrelevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– Read the title.
– What has the title of the Bill to do with the question?
– There is something offered to the Commonwealth to accept.
– Read the preamble.
– The preamble is not a part of the Bill ; it is merely a declara tory statement as to its object. The short title reads -
This Act may be cited as the Seat of Government Acceptance Act.
Where are we going to accept the Seat of Government ?
– What is offered to us ?
– It appears that the Senate is expected to be merely a recording angel of the opinion of the Government of New South Wales in this matter.
-The Constitution intends that to be the case.
– It does not give to the Government of New South Wales any part or function in the final choosing of the site for the Seat of Government.
– This Bill does not attempt to choose the site.
– What are we doing then in defining the boundaries?
– The object of the Bill is to approve of an agreement which has been entered into, not to select a site.
– Then we are not asked to fix the site or the boundaries. All we are expected to do, according to the Minister, is simply to record the judgment of the Premier of New South Wales.
– Honorable senators . are not bound to adopt the measure, it can be rejected.
– We are asked to either accept or reject the Bill in its entirety, and apparently we are not to be allowed, no matter how necessary it may be in the opinion of a majority, to’ alter a comma or cross a “ t.” The title which the Government have given to the Bill is “ The Seat of Government Acceptance Act,” and the question arises, where are we going to accept the Seat of Government ? Did the New South Wales Government accept this site? If, as Senator Millen says, the Senate has absolutely no say in the matter; if this is a Bill, not for fixing or defining the site, but -merely for accepting a site as defined by the State Government, it ought to be thrown out holm bolus.
– Any other Bill would be for the selection, not for the acceptance, of a site. If the honorable senator again proposes Dalgety, it will be the selection, not the acceptance, of a site.
– The Senate has read the Bill a second time ; what does that mean ?
-It does not mean that the Bill must not be amended.
– What does it mean?
– When the Senate read the Bill a second time, it affirmed the principle that we want a Federal Capital, and should finally select and indorse some site.
– Does not the honorable senator see that he wants the Senate to select a site? This is a Bill to accept, not to select, a site.
– The Senate can accept a site in a different locality.
– We cannot accept Dalgety, because it is not offered.
– If the Commonwealth Parliament decides that Dalgety is the best site, it can take its own proper course to take possession of it.
– That will be the taking, not the acceptance, of a site.
– What we have been engaged in all the time, I maintain, has been the final definition and final selection of a Federal Territory in which the Seat of Government is to be placed. With regard to the question of relevancy, sir, in giving your ruling you said that the district of Dalgety was manifestly far outside the present site. Well, we have no authority for that supposition.
– We took a vote on various sites - Dalgety, Tooma-Dalgety, Yass-Canberra, and others. They were all submitted as definite sites, separate and apart one from the other, and I cannot ignore what has taken place.
– At that time, sir, Yass-Canberra was a vague term ; the site might have been anywhere. It would be quite possible for the district of Dalgety to be included in the Canberra site. As a matter of fact, the Government propose to take water from Dalgety - from the Snowy River - to this site.
– Noi from Dalgety.
– Will the honorable senator deny that, within the area of 900 square miles, there could not be formulated an outline of territory which could include Dalgety as well as Canberra?
– By an alteration of the boundaries.
– Exactly. In these circumstances, sir, I ask how can you say that my motion was irrelevant? Without a straining of the Standing Orders, it is not possible to say so.
– Does not the honor.able senator see that if the boundaries are altered, the agreement is destroyed?
– The agreement was not in the Bill as it was read a first time, or when most of us spoke to the question, nor is it yet.
– We have an instruction to consider it in the Bill in Committee.
– I want to impress upon the Senate that the President was entirely mistaken in saying that the inclusion of Dalgety is not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill; because it is quite possible to include both Canberra and Dalgety in the one site, just as it was possible to include Yass and Canberra in the one site. The other ground on which I have taken exception to the ruling is that it un-‘ duly restricts the right of honorable senators to exercise an independent judgment in the selection of a site. That is, I think,, the strongest ground, because, after all is said and done, the selection of a site for., the Federal Capital is a national question in which every citizen is interested. It is not one which concerns only New South Wales or its representatives. It concerns the representatives and the citizens of every State. If we are to be gagged and muzzled ; if we are not to be allowed to move an amendment, or to say a word in favour of any other site but that which the Government have, chosen to thrust upon us, our independent judgment will be set aside, and the representatives of the people of the Commonwealth will have no right, except that of rejection, which is a limitation of my rights that I do not desire should be imposed. On these grounds, sir, I leave the motion to the decision of the Senate.
– Under the Standing Orders, this debate will have to go over until to-morrow, unless it is decided by a vote of the Senate that the question is one which requires immediate determination.
– It will have to go over until to-morrow, anyhow, because private business will take precedence to-night.
– Standing order 415 reads -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.
Motion (by Senator Colonel Neild) proposed -
That the objection to the decision of the President is a question which requires immediate determination.
– Before giving a vote on the motion, sir, I desire to ask you, whether, if it is carried in the affirmative, the sessional order under which private business takes precedence on Thursday after the dinner adjournment, will operate?
– If the Senate sees fit to decide that any question is one which requires immediate determination, that decision must overrule the sessional order.
– It must suspend the sessional order ?
– I point out to the honorable senator that the Senate is asked to affirm that this question is one which requires immediate determination.
– Hear, hear; but within the meaning of the sessional order.
– At any rate, I hold that if it should be decided that the question requires immediate determination, it should be proceeded with.
– Before you give a definite ruling, sir, will you allow me to submit that a determination of the Senate that this question requires immediate determination is subject to the sessional order, which can only be suspended on a direct motion ? If it should be decided by the Senate that this, question requires immediate determination, then, 5f private business is disposed of early, the motion of dissent from your ruling can be called on and decided.
– It is not a question of Government or private business, buta question of the business of the Senate, which must at all times take precedence over other matters. If it should be determined by honorable senators to take this question, which concerns the business of the Senate, that determination must overrule the sessional order. I would also remind honorable senators of a ruling which has been accepted by the Senate, namely, that a decision of the Chair must be accepted, and business proceeded with thereunder until the decision has been dissented from. In other words, if this evening were set apart for the consideration of Government business, and the Government desired to proceed with this measure, the Committee would still be bound by the decision given from the Chair.
– Is this motion open, to debate, sir?
– No; the Minister simply rose to ask a question.
– Well, it is a form of gag-
– It is not right for the honorable senator to make that remark with regard to any question which arises here, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– In view of the effect which the motion, if carried, would have, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 7th October (vide page 4250) on motion by Senator Pearce -
. That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the question of the supply, conditions of sale, and distribution which control the Press Cable Service within the Commonwealth, or from outside the Commonwealth, and matters connected therewith.
That the Committee consist of Senators Pulsford, Findley. Dobson, St. Ledger, Guthrie, Givens, and the Mover.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
On which Senator Dobson had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “therewith” the following words be inserted, “and the best means of increasing the supply of cables and their more extensive distribution.”
– I shall not take up much time in discussing this motion, because I think that honorable senators generally have made up their minds concerning it. In my opinion, a prima facie case has been made out for an inquiry. To discuss the details of a matter that we propose to inquire into would be rather out of place. We are all well aware that for years past there has been an absolute combination in reference to the supply of cable news to the newspapers. Probably some honorable senators will challenge me with having been an advocate of combinations in other directions. But the difference between such combinations and that how under consideration, is this. The combinations which I have defended were rendering services to the public at a certain price, but this press combination, until lately, as Senator Dobson has mentioned, was not prepared to supply its goods at any price.
SenatorChataway. - In one State apparently.
– In other States also.
– Not in Queensland.
– There are seven or nine newspapers in the combination - I am not sure which is the exact number ; and those newspapers were not prepared to supply their cables to any other newspaper that might be established in one of the capitals of Australia at any price whatever.
– Will the honorable senator show why they took up that attitude?
– I think that I can do that nor will it be difficult to show that this is a combination that is detrimental to the interests of the public.
– Suppose this combination were not in existence, can the honorable senator say whether we should get fuller cable news?
– I think so.
– If the honorable senator can show that, he will make out a good case.
– This combination does not collect the news that is cabled from the other end of the world.
– The newspa.pers in the combination pay for its collection.
– They pay another combination to collect the news of the world for them, and this other combination is bound not to supply news to any one else in Australia. That point alone should be sufficient to induce the Senate to say that an inquiry is needed.
– The honorable senator could get a thousand men in London who would be prepared to collect news for any other combination.
– But one man in London, employed by another combination, could not collect news from Russia- and America. There is an agency in London which collects the news of the world, and the Australian Press Association has bound these people over not to supply news to other newspapers in Australia.
– Another association might easily be formed.
– But what would that mean?
– It would cost a gopd deal of money.
– It would mean an expenditure which would be difficult to bear. I qualify what I have said by remarking that the state of things that I have described existed up till a short time back.
Senator Dobson put the position in a very fair manner. To-day, the combination is prepared to sell news to other newspapers in the capitals of Australia, but at a tremendous price - one out of all proportion to the services rendered. I have said quite enough to show that, in the interest of the people of Australia, an inquiry is necessary. Another point that has been raised relates to the personnel of the proposed Select Committee. Personally, I had rather not be a member of it, because I have been in negotiation with the Press Association for some time regarding the supply of cable news. It has been urged very strongly that the Select Committee proposed would consist of a majority from this side of the Chamber. But it has to be recollected that every one of the seven or nine newspapers in the combination is a Fusionist journal ; and probably the Fusionists from the other side of the Chamber who were appointed to inquire into the matter would enter upon the inquiry with biased minds.
– The other side would not !
– There is not a Labour newspaper in any of the Capitals of Australia that is a member of the combination. Therefore, those honorable senators on this side of the Chamber who took part in the inquiry would enter into the subject with a desire to get at the truth. Senator Dobson, in his speech on the last occasion when this matter was discussed, showed himself possessed of an unbiased mind regarding it. He put the matter asplainly as it could be laid before the Senate. I have no bias regarding it. No doubt the members of the combination have been doing their best for themselves. But it is questionable whether they have. been acting in the interests of the people of this country. We ought, at any rate, to institute an inquiry as to whether the combination is detrimental to the public interest. The Government have themselves on their own volition, caused inquiries to be made as to the Shipping Ring and the Coal Vend. Why not make an inquiry as to the Press Ring?
– Because they are afraid of the newspapers.
– There is nothing to be afraid of. The whole matter is a commercial one. I think the Senate will be well advised in appointing the Select Committee, and I trust that the motion will be carried.
[7.55]. - The Senate is invited to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the question of the supply, conditions of sale, and distribution which control . the press cable service within ; the Commonwealth, or from outside the Commonwealth, and matters connected therewith. It appears to me that the case which has been submitted depends almost, if not completely, upon the establishment of the proposition that the Cable Association in question is a monopoly. If it is not a monopoly, there is not a shadow of reason for any inquiry. I for one contend, at the outset, that there are really no elements of monopoly connected with the Cable Association. So far as my inquiries have permitted me to come to a judgment in the matter, the kind of monopoly which has been legislated against by this Parliament is a monopoly in regard to trade and commerce ; and it cannot, on any pretence,be suggested that this alleged combination for the supply of cable news is a monopoly of trade and commerce. Consequently, from that stand-point alone, it does not come within the purview or jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Is not selling a newspaper for1d. trading?
– That is not the question before us. We are not concerned with the selling of newspapers. The question is as to whether a monopoly exists in regard to this cable service.
– The combination sells cable news.
– That has nothing to do with the point. What I say is that the combination in question is clearly not, as a matter of law, concerned with a monopoly of trade and commerce. A monopoly is not necessarily injurious to the community. We have never sought to legislate against monopolies which are not injurious.
– Does the honorable senator say that the supply of cable news has no relation to trade and commerce?
– I say that this combination in regard to cable news is not engaged in trade and commerce, and that its operations are not, therefore, within the purview and jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. Parliament.
– The Supreme Court of the United States has held to the contrary.
– I do not think so. I shall be very glad if my honorable friend can show me a case. We have in our Australian Industries Preservation Act, dealt with the monopoly of a trading corporation in the following terms : -
Any foreign corporation, or trading or financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth, which monopolizes or attempts to monopolize or combines or conspires with any person to monopolize, any part of the tradeor commerce within the Commonwealth, with intent to control to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any service merchandise or commodity, is guilty of an offence.
That is the class of monopoly against which we have sought to legislate - a monopoly which is a sort of conspiracy or combination, and which is detrimental to the public. Those concerned in a monopoly of that kind are liable, if an offence of the kind be proved, to a penalty of £500. So far as I have heard, nothing has been shown which indicates that this Cable Association is conducting a business which is injurious to the public. No proof has been- given of any conspiracy or combination which has for its object the controlling of cables and the doing of something which is detrimental to the public interest. The facts of the case, I believe, from my inquiries, to be these : Some newspapers in Australia discovered that it would be cheaper for them if they joined together to secure their cables from Europe. Accordingly, they made an arrangement with a person in London to collect cable news there, and send it out to Australia. They have done what it is open for anybody else to do. I understand that there are twelve or thirteen newspapers in this service.
– No; seven or nine.
– The exact number does not matter. We will say that seven or nine newspapers have joined together for the purpose of appointing somebody in London to collect news there and transmit it to Australia.
– Is that the only purpose ?
– That is the purpose which is alleged here. Let us suppose - to take a parallel case - that five or six members of this Senate chose to make an arrangement with a representative in London to send out early news in connexion with an important boat race, or to send some political news. Suppose then that they determined to distribute their news in a certain way. They would be guilty of no offence. Similarly, the Cable Association is guilty of no offence. That is exactly the position. It is open for any combination of five or six persons, if they choose, to make an arrangement with a representative in London to collect news and for that news to be transmitted to them in the ordinary way. How can it be suggested that any monopoly exists under such circumstances?
– Let us have an inquiry and see whether a monopoly exists?
– My honorable friend must show that there is a prima facie case for an inquiry. He must show that there is a real monopoly - like a tobacco monopoly for instance - which has some means of controlling the retailer and compelling him to purchase from the combination. Such a combination might, under certain circumstances, be injurious to the public. But in this case any representative of any other Association can go to the same cable company - the Eastern Extension Company - or to the Pacific Cable Board, and arrange for the transmission of cables at the same rates to Australia or elsewhere. How then can it be suggested for one moment that any monopoly exists in regard to a cable service which is completely open to everybody else? Then it is stated that when the cables arrive in Australia they are controlled by a syndicate. Why should they not be? It is quite open to any other syndicate to combine in the same way. Why should they not sell their goods or wares in the same way as any one else? It is open for any half-dozen men in this country to combine together to get goods from the Mother Country and distribute them here. Why is it not equally open for this combination to do the same with its cables? It is said that the combination has refused to supply cabled news to cell:ain people in Australia. Whether that has been so in the past I cannot say, but so far as my inquiries go, the ‘present state of affairs is this: that all the cable news which is purchased bv the combination is open to be purchased by any persons who choose to come along. As a matter of fact, I am informed that arrangements have alreadybeen made, as part of the system, with Reuter’s Telegram Company, to distribute cabled news to the country press throughout Australia. All this is part of a private arrangement.
– What about the newspapers in the cities?
– The newspapers in the cities are supplied by the syndicate themselves. It is open to
Senator Guthrie, or to me, or to anybody else who chooses to pay a reasonable price for these cables, to have the use of them just in the same way as we could purchase any other goods from abroad. Is it a fact or not that every country newspaper in Australia is at liberty to purchase these cables at a recognised tariff?
– The question is as to other city newspapers.
– I understand that the offer is open to both town and country newspapers. That is the information which I have obtained - that anykind of newspaper can purchase these cables from the syndicate. What is more, the arrangement is greatly appreciated by country newspapers. Under this system, perhaps, for an expenditure of £10 they are enabled to purchase cables which might otherwise cost them ^500. In the same way it is open to the larger journals for a payment of .£400 or .£500 to purchase cable news which would otherwise necessitate the expenditure of many thousands of pounds. It seems rather absurd to suggest that because this particular syndicate has been reasonably successful in its venture, other persons must be permitted to share its advantages. Yet that is the whole position which is put by honorable senators opposite. They urge that if they entered into a remarkably good speculation the moment the discovery was made by others, the latter should have a right to demand admission at ground floor prices.
– Nobody has asked that.
– That is the proposition which is put by the other side.
– We merely ask for an inquiry.
– But under cover of the suggested inquiry my honorable friends have indicated exactly what they want. Their desire is to burst up this venture, which I make bold to say has, on the whole, worked satisfactorily.
– The Minister does not wish to burst up a monopoly ?
– My honorable friend is entirely wrong. A monopoly known to the Constitution would not include cable services at all. Moreover, it cannot fairly be said that a cable monopoly exists, seeing that it is open for anybody else to secure cable news upon similar terms.
– Then it cannot be argued that there is a shipping monopoly.
– I would point out to Senator Stewart that a shipping monopoly is one which is recognised by the Constitution in that it may be a monopoly so far as services are concerned. It becomes . a monopoly by reason of its ability to control shippers. The steam-ship owners can practically say to shippers,” If you do not deal with us you shall not deal with anybody else.”
– Shippers are at liberty to do otherwise if “ they choose.
– As a matter of fact, they cannot do otherwise. By reason of their ability to control shippers, ship-owners may create an injurious monopoly. I am pointing out the difference between that sort of trade and commerce monopoly, and the alleged monopoly in reference to the cable service.
– Then upon the same line of reasoning it cannot be that a monopoly exists in reference to the Coal Vend, because people are at liberty to open another coal mine.
– My honorable friend dealt with the Coal Vend in the course of his remarks. That is another matter which comes within the scope of the Australian Industries Preservation Act Under that Act certain duties are imposed upon the Comptroller-General of Customs, and in that connexion the necessary inquiries are being made by the AttorneyGeneral. We should not, therefore, discuss it now. Senator Pearce, in dealing with this matter, made certain statements with a view to showing the tyrannous conduct of this alleged monopoly. In order that honorable senators may have the matter fully before them, and mav fully appreciate the story which is told by the other side, I propose to quote his remarks. Senator Pearce said -
I wish now to quote a few Australian cases which have a bearing upon my motion. One of these has reference to the treatment which was meted out by the combine to Mr. Mahon before his election to this Parliament and while he was the proprietor of a newspaper at Menzies, in Western Australia. In a letter addressed to me, and dated Melbourne, 2nd October, 1905, that gentleman - as will be seen by reference to page 3467 of Hansard of 12th October of that year - wrote - “ I vouch for the substantial accuracy of this narrative, which you are free to use as you may deem fit. From 1895 to 1898 I carried on a newspaper at Menzies, W.A. . . . Suddenly, however, about May, i8g8, just when public interest in the Spanish-American war was at its height, and on the day when Mr. Gladstone’s death was expected, I was informed, without the slightest premonitory hint, that my cable intelligence was to be stopped forthwith. , . . Ultimately, under the duress of circumstances from which there was no escape, I concluded a three years’ contract with the syndicate, by which they were to receive a royalty at the rate of ^150 per annum.”
– What was he to get for that ^150 per annum?
– -I will tell the VicePresident of the Executive Council presently. “ This contract bound me to use their cablesexclusively, so that I could have been penalized for the publication of a cable message obtained from any other source. A similar exaction was extorted from the rival journal. This was a crushing charge on small provincial journals having a sale of not more than 700 copies daily; but the syndicate’s agent was adamant.. No Shylock ever held more inexorably to his bond. But something even more intolerable than the royalty impost was to follow. My contract was, it appeared, for the full cable service; and the full service, not any summary of it, the syndicate insisted I must take. This involved the payment of the inland telegraphic rate of is. 6d. per 100 words on reams of messages which were absolutely useless, and for which the paper had no space. I asked to be allowed to follow the former practice of having the news summarized by my Perth agent. The answer was, ‘ No ; you must take the cables as we send them, or not at all ‘ - an offer of freedom of contract somewhat after the Thunderbolt manner, but without Thunderbolt’s risks.” As the result of my inquiries, I believe that quite a different story may be told in connexion, with the contents of Mr. Mahon’s letter, .and it is just as well that I should put it upon record. I understand that Mr. Mahon conducted a newspaper called the Menzies Miner from 1895 to 1898. For a considerable period prior to May, 1898, he had been using the Association cables without the authority of the syndicate, and without making them any payment for those cables. I understand that the first knowledge which the Press Association headquarters had of this paper was when, on 27th April. 1898, the West’ Australian, acting in the Association’s interests in Western Australia, telegraphed to Melbourne -
Menzies Miner, Mahon’s paper, publishing syndicate cables same day as ourselves. Have you arranged this?
Nothing being known of the matter here, the reply was sent -
Not supplying Menzies Miner. Endeavour ascertain their source.
At the same time application for the service was made through the West Australian hy the Menzies Herald, the Miner’s opposition paper, .£150 per annum being quoted for the service, and eventually accepted. The service was to start on 2nd May. On the 28th April, the West Australian replied that the. Miner’s source of news was the Coolgardie Courier. On 4th May the Coolgardie Courier was asked for a telegraphic assurance that the messages would be used for their own purposes only. Upon nth May the West Australian wired that the Menzies Miner was still publishing the cables, securing them from the Courier at Coolgardie. On 12th May Mr. Mahon “telegraphed his first communication to the Association. It read -
Personally interviewed your locum tenens last January relative cables. Made offer. He promised consult Mr. Hackett. Quite willing pay any reasonable charge. Goldfields Courier unblamable, writing fully explanation.
There was no record of the interview referred to, and the promised letter was a waited, but did not arrive. On 17th May the West Australian wired -
Have seen Courier manager. He has issued instructions cables be stopped Mahon.
On 19th May Mr. Mahon telegraphed -
Desirous of completing arrangements with you relative cable service. Please telegraph terms. Reply paid.
An interview must then have taken place, for. on 20th May, the reply was forwarded -
Cannot supply selection cables. Must take ail hundred fifty annum. Two years’ agreement. Payable quarterly advance. Telegraph draft first quarter if acceptable.
It will be noted that the rate charged Mr. Mahon was the same as was then being paid by his local contemporary. It was impossible for the Association to supply a selection of the cables, as there was no representative of the Association in Perth to deal with messages in that way. If Mr. Mahon had had a Perth representative who could have received the cables, and made his selection from them, the Association would have been agreeable to countenance the adoption of that course. In fact, that course is being followed in connexion with other newspapers, and was indeed adopted in the case of the North Coolgardie Herald later. But in each case the selection was made by the newspaper’s own representative, and not by a representative of the Association. On 25th May the Menzies Herald wired that the Miner was still getting the cables from the Courier, and asked to be protected from this “ unfair competition.,” On 26th Mav the Courier was communicated with, and told that this sort of thing must cease.
– Mr. Mahon had a representative in Perth” at that time who was prepared to make his own selection of the cables.
- Mr. Mahon makes that statement, but the Association deny it absolutely. They say that it has been their practice to permit the representatives of newspapers to make such selections.
– They say that it is their practice to do so now.
– They say that it was their practice to do so then. On 26th May Mr. Mahon wired -
Wired you last Monday draft quarters cables accordance agreement, please reply.
The following reply explains itself -
Draft received. Sender unknown until receipt your telegram. Instructing Perth forward you cablegrams.
Upon the following day instructions were niven to the Perth Telegraph Office to commence the forwarding of these cables. On 1 st July the arrangement was confirmed to Mr. Mahon by .letter, and the usual agreement was sent for completion. No reply having been received, Mr. Mahon was again written to on 4th July, reminding him of the fact, and pointing out that his payment would run out on 26th August. A reply was received on 8th August. The Herald then discontinued their own supply of cable news, took oyer that to the Miner, and the amalgamated firm continued the service for a time on the basis of a payment of .£150 per annum. Mr. Mahon’s letter, which is addressed to Messrs. Wil- son and Mackinnon, reads -
Menzies, W.A., 8th August, 1898.
I was obliged to delay an answer to your favour of the 4th July inasmuch as at that time negotiations were in progress for an amalgamation of the two daily newspapers at Menzies. This having been accomplished, I shall not require the use of your cable service longer. _ I am retiring from the newspaper and publishing business at this place.
Mr. David Syme, who visited Menzies a little while ago, will be able to indorse what I am free to say - that no newspaper here can afford to pay ^150 per year royalty for cables. Both nf the local daily papers bad been for some time issued at a loss - in the case of roy opponents their loss had been continuous since the first issue nearly two years ago. In my own case, the loss was not so large, because I made a profit on a weekly issue and on a news agency and stationery business. There never was legitimate business for two daily journals, and now that the district depends on legitimate mining, and that outside capital is available only for properties that give some assurance of dividends, it seems doubtful whether the settled population, which does not exceed 1,200, justifies the existence of even one daily journal.
It was impossible to convey to you the exact position by telegram at the ‘‘time of my entering into the arrangement. Had I been able to do so, I feel sure you would not have insisted on terms involving the discontinuance of my journal. I hope to be in Melbourne early next month, and should you wish it, will submit proofs that what I have said is rigidly true.
That is the other side of the story.
– But the combination was one in restraint of knowledge and of trade.
– The combination offered to supply Mr. Mahon with this ample cable service for a payment of ^150 per annum - a service which would have cost him thousands of pounds had he desired to secure it himself. He was only charged the amount which was being paid to the Association by the rival journal.
– Under duress.
– That was the price which was being paid by the other newspaper, and why should Mr. Mahon be supplied with the service at a less cost?
– But the fact that the Association has altered its doings during recent years is -proof that it was previously doing something which was unfair.
– Then, is my honorable friend satisfied with the present arrangement?
– I want to see a cheap cable service throughout the Commonwealth.
- Senator Pearce quoted Mr. Mahon ‘s case with a. view to showing tyrannical conduct on the part of the syndicate. But what are the facts? As I have already stated, for some considerable time before it was discovered, Mr. Mahon had been utilizing the cables of the Association without making any payment for them to that body. When ultimately the Association asked that he should pay for those cables, they told him that they were quite prepared to supply him on the same terms as those on which they supplied his rival. For him to talk about the Shylock conduct of the combine is ridiculous, seeing that it voluntarily entered into an agreement to supply him with cable news for two years, and that he merely paid for one quarter of that term, and then went free.
– How did he go free?
– They did not hold him to the agreement.
– He could not carry on.
– Yes, but he is talking about the Shylock conduct of these people.
– Because they said “ ^150 or nothing.”
– Exactly, and Senator Pearce would be perfectly right in asking such payment for his services as he thinks they are worth.
– Even supposing that the Press Association are right, is what is complained of in the interests of the Commonwealth ?
– I would ask Senator Dobson to say whether it is not perfectly legitimate for any shopkeeper in Melbourne to ask him what price he pleases’ for his goods ? It is open to Senator Dobson as well as to any one else to get this cable news from the Mother Country.
– It is not as freely open to the poor as to the rich proprietors of newspapers’.
– I am afraid it never will be.
– I have stated that this service can be purchased at a reasonable tariff by anybody.
– What dees the honorable senator call “ reasonable?”
– A tariff ranging from ^5 to ,£1,000 according to the cables required.
– Is ,£1,000 the highest tariff?
– I believe it is.
– It is not, nor double that amount.
– It is of no moment whether it is or not. The fact remains that this has been going on for a period of fourteen years, and the proprietors of various newspapers concerned have been reasonably satisfied with the service rendered by the Press Association. It is unfair of honorable senators opposite to put a jaundiced complexion on this business, and that they have done so is indicated by, the information I have supplied, and which is given to me as authentic.
– It can be contradicted.
– If the honorable senator is in a position to contradict it let him do so. Much complaint was made by the Labour party on the ground that when they wished to start a labour journal they were precluded from doing so because the Association refused to supply them with cables. I believe that was a source of great complaint. Even if it existed in the past that embargo has nowbeen removed.
– These embargoes should never exist.
– Is this a private concern or is it not?
– lt is not a private concern. It is the concern of persons who are assisted by concessions.
– The embargo has been removed, and that should be sufficient. It is now open to those controlling any newspaper which my honorable friends opposite may choose to start, to buy these cables at reasonable rates. I submit that in the circumstances no case has been made out for this inquiry. I have shown that no monopoly exists, and certainly no monopoly of trade and commerce which it is within our competence to interfere with. I urge that the fact that the business of this Association happens to be a reasonably successful venture is no reason why we should insist on others being permitted to take advantage of it.
– We do not ask for that ; we ask only for an inquiry.
– To prevent its being successful.
– Exactly. I’ say that in the circumstances, Parliament should not unfairly use its power to inquire into the private affairs of any business venture. That is exactly the proposal that is made by our honorable friends opposite.
– The Tariff Commission did exactly the same thing.
– I think that honorable senators generally will resent this proposal, and will reject it as unreasonable and unfair.
– One honorable senator on the other side in speaking on this subject on a former occasion told us that all the daily newspapers supported the anti:Socialist party. The honorable senator is mistaken. I can inform him that the Australian Star always takes the part of the Labour party. Then there is- a very influential weekly paper, the Sydney Bulletin, which is a very wealthy concern and a great supporter of the Labour party. The principle underlying the motion involves a distinct interference with the liberty of the subject. I am told that there are 2,000 country papers in Australia. There may be more, but there is no reason why they should not form a syndicate of their own, appoint an agent in London, have a cypher code of their own, and publish their own cable news. I know of a business at the present time which paid .£600’ for a private cypher code. There are men in London who make a business of preparing cypher codes. There- is no reason why the members of the Senate, if they thought proper, should not form themselves into a syndicate for the express purpose of getting reliable news’ from Home. I mention this to show that there is no monopoly in the business. I say that the principle underlying the motion is a distinct interference with the rights of private citizens. .Our honorable friends opposite might form a syndicate of their own, and the Bulletin proprietary could well afford to join it.
– The Bulletin does not publish cables. Weekly cables would not be of any use.
– The proprietary might decide to publish the Bulletin daily, and they could publish cable news. Many newspapers in Australia were at first published weekly, then tri-weekly, and later daily. T can-name two newspapers in Toowoomba which in my time were published weekly, and which are now daily newspapers. I was rather surprised to hear Senator Dobson contend that it is against the public interest that private enterprise should make arrangements for the receipt of cable news.
– It is against the public interest that the Association should ask the proprietors of small newspapers to pay more than they can afford to do.
– They need not pay unless they like. If I want a pair of gloves, and can only get them for 5s. in oric shop, I am at liberty to go to another in which I may get them more cheaply.
– The honorable senator forgets that we are dealing with a means for the distribution of knowledge in the Commonwealth.
– On that point, I think I might say that it would be better for the Commonwealth if some of the cabled news published had never been sent out.
– Is that not a reason for inquiry?
– Not at all. There is no reason why Senator Dobson should not join with other high-principled gentlemen to have only proper cable news sent out. In principle, we might just as well contend that because a man is more successful than are some of his competitors in business, we should hold an inquiry to discover how he makes his profits. We had better pass a rule that no person shall publish news unless it has been bowdlerized by some other person- I am sorry to have to say that I look upon this motion as another instance of the desire of the havenots to get something from those who have, and of the comparatively unsuccessful man desiring to pull down those who are more successful than himself. It is a piece of what I call extreme anti- Christian Socialism.
– I have been very considerably exercised in my mind about this question. I am very anxious to arrive at a decision for public rather than for private reasons. As honorable senators are aware, I have had very serious conflicts with the press. I have been anxious that that should not influence me in arriving at a decision upon this matter. I have taken a great deal of trouble to ascertain whether there is any ground for an inquiry in connexion with this question. So far as I can learn, this institution, instead of being a disadvantage to the public, has. created greater facilities for obtaining news. It is true that it does not give as great facilities as it possibly could. But, after all, is there any reason why we should call upon any individual or set of individuals to lay himself or themselves out to furnish facilities for the public? All we have a right to inquire into is whether the action of this institution curtails the facilities of the public. It seems to me that it has not been shown that it does by the statements made in urging this inquiry. It is true that this association of the press gets a wider range of news than any individual could secure. The Press Association presents itself to me exactly in the light of a co-operative association. I have been all my life in favour of co-operation. The co-operation of the
Press Association is not nearly as wide as I should like to see it, but I do not think that we have any right to say to its members, “You have associated for your own good, and you are not doing enough good for the rest of the public.” I think that before we interfere we require to be in a position to say, “ You have associated for your own good, .but in pursuing your own purpose you injure the general public.” I do not think that that has been shown to be the case. If I could believe that, because of the establishment of the Association, the cable news now published is any less reliable than that published before its establishment ; if I could be shown that cablegrams are any dearer now to the outside public and the proprietors of small newspapers not in the Association than they were before its formation, I should ‘be bound to admit that its formation might have inflicted injury. All that Senator Dobson urges is that the Association has not done all the good they might for the proprietors of small newspapers. Who has any right to call upon anybody else to be a special missioner to do good to other people? We do that kind of thing corporately as a State in connexion with such matters as the payment of old-age pensions and the passing of charitable votes, but we have no right to call upon private individuals to become public benefactors unless they so desire. It is laudable and commendable for private individuals to become public benefactors, but we have no right by law to compel them to that course.
– What about the honorable senator’s Bill?
– I am not permitted to discuss that measure now. I hope to be able to do so on the 4th of next month. I am trying to show what I believe to lie the proper course to take in connexion with this motion. I know of a very desirable co-operative institution in this State which bakes bread - very excellent bread, I believe - and which serves it to the public on very reasonable terms.
– That society is not given reduced rates over the railways or reduced telegraphic rates.
– There are persons who wish to purchase bread from the co-operative institution to which I refer in order to serve it to retail customers of their own. Those controlling the co-operative institution very properly reply that they have carts of their own, and can serve retail customers themselves. I can see no objection whatever to that.
– Nor does any one else.
– Why should they be compelled to serve any one who wishes to be served by them?
– No one would be so idiotic as to propose anything of the kind.
– It seems to me that something very nearly if not completely analogous to that is proposed.
– They receive no concession from the State.
– Any other Press Association that was formed would receive the concessions which are made to the existing Association. The great advantages which those who have formed the Press Association enjoy, as compared with the proprietors of small newspapers, arise from the fact that they have clubbed together. No single one of the members of the Association has the power to do what can be done by the Association, lt is the combination of the members which provides sufficient capital to secure the service which no single member of the combination- could afford to pay tor.
– They form a monopoly.
– Theirs cannot bc said to be a monopoly, when any one else can get the cablegrams.
– But the members of the Association would have precedence, and the proprietors of small newspapers would get their cables too late for publication.
– I have ‘not learned that. I have tried hard to investigate the matter, and I need hardly say that I started with a prejudice on the other side.
– The honorable senator has consulted the Age about this matter.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that I am in the habit of doing so? I am trying to deal with this matter as I try to deal with every . other matter brought before the Senate - on its merits. I have not consulted any but persons who could supply me with information on the subject. I am trying to present the case to the Senate as it presents itself to my mind. It seems to me that to inquire into this private co-operative concern - and that is all that it is-
– Has the honorable senator never publicly denounced the cable monopoly?
– No, I have not. Persons who have money can get many things that I cannot get, but that does not seem to me a reason for inquiry. It seems to me to be only a reason for greater effort on my part.
– The honorable senator can get what I never could get, and that is immunity from Tory opposition.
– I have not yet secured immunity from the criticism of the honorable senator. I do not think it is a wise method of discussion to accuse each other of being Tories or something else. It seems to me that this Press Association may be regarded as a voluntarily co-operative institution. No person has shown that in consequence of the operations of this Association cables are dearer to the outside public than they were before it was formed, or that if it were abolished to-morrow the proprietors of small newspapers would get their cables any cheaper.
– No one proposes fo abolish the Association. The honorable senator evidently does not understand the question. .
– Perhaps I do not understand Senator Pearce’s intention. If there is to be an inquiry, I suppose it is lor the purpose of showing that the operations of the Association are baneful.
– Not necessarily.
– Perhaps the desire is to prove how laudable the Association is. But in either case it seems to me that the motion is unnecessary. We have nothing in particular to do with the matter. It is not our business.
– Is it not our business to disseminate knowledge and information?
– Decidedly. Let Senator Dobson initiate an association for the spread of knowledge, and I shall te delighted to join the honorable senator in a limited way in providing the necessary funds. The honorable senator, however, has not yet made a move, and this Press Association with all its faults has made a move to spread information, and has made it very much cheaper to the public than it was before the Association was formed. It is quite true that it is very difficult for persons with small means to get it.
Senator Dobson, for instance, could not go into the warehouse of Rocke, Tompsitt and Co. and ask for threepennyworth of Epsom salts, because that firm is a wholesale concern, and does not sell sm 111 quantities. Would he say that that inability on his part was an injustice or something very dreadful ?
– Education is a State matter.
– Now we have reached a point at which the honorable senator and I agree. He appears to think that the State ought to establish an institution of this character.
– I do not say that it ought to do so unless that is shown to be imperative.
– Whenever it is proposed that the State shall initiate some method of accumulating and disseminating news for the benefit of the public I shall join with the honorable senator most heartily. But that does not show a necessity for making an inquiry in this case. The question whether it is desirable for the State to undertake this kind of work is in no way touched by the question of an inquiry into the conduct of a private concern. Therefore, it seems to me that it would be unwise and improper to spend public money on an inquiry into what is purely and simply a private busi ness undertaking.
– I think that Senator Trenwith has been indulging in a little special pleading on behalf of the Press Association, and it has coloured the whole of his remarks. He has evidently spoken without any expert knowledge, or, indeed, without any general knowledge of the matter. He said that the public have nothing to do with this Association, but I maintain that they have everything to do with it, because it is a combination which has an absolute monopoly of the dissemination of cable news throughout Australia. The honorable senator said that it did no injury to the public. Can he say of his own knowledge that it has not an agreement with the cable companies to give its messages precedence over their lines?
– I cannot.
– Then why is the honorable senator objecting to an inquiry which would show whether that is or is not the case ? Does he not want to obtain that knowledge i
– To start with, I want a prima facie case made out that it is so.
– There is a prima facie case that it is so. It is within the knowledge of everybody who has devoted any attention to the matter, that in certain cases the Cable Combine absolutely refuses to allow other newspapers to participate in its cable service on any terms. It is also a matter of common notoriety that it will only allow newspapers to participate, on the terms dictated by itself.
– That is not evidence for an inquiry.
– It is also a matter pf notoriety, as I have pointed out, that in some cases the Cable Combine will not allow a newspaper or a projected newspaper to participate in its cable service on any terms. These facts are undeniable. It is practically a matter of certainty to those who are acquainted with the subject, although we have not absolute proof of it, that if any other association were formed or if any individual newspaper tried to get a cable service, that service, although very costly, -would be absolutely useless, because the cables would not be sent until the association had first been supplied. Now. remembering that the Commonwealth, as a Government entity, has a heavy interest in the Pacific cable, and owns all the land lines over which the messages go, it is our duty to see, if we possibly can, that the cable and land lines are not used by any association in such a way as to do an injury to any individual. The motion does not say that this is an injurious combine.
– But those who are supporting the motion have said so.
– I have stated facts which are matters of common notoriety.
– The honorable senator has just stated that it is so.
– Will the honorable senator say that any man has paid more for his telegrams since the combine was formed than he did before?
– Of course he has not, but he should pay ever so much less.
– Why ?
– Because the cable and telegraph rates have been very much reduced.
– He gets the benefit ot that reduction.
– In some cases he cannot.
– Does he pay more than he would have had to pay if there had been no association ?
– As I have pointed out to the honorable senator, it is a matter of common knowledge that the Commonwealth is the largest shareholder in the Pacific cable, and owns all the land lines. These services were established by the Government for the benefit of the public. If any association is getting a monopoly of the services, or an unreasonable use of them to the exclusion of other persons, that is a matter of public concern.
– Hear, hear. If the honorable senator can show that I shall be with him.
– We have the best of reasons for believing, as I shall proceed to show, that that is the case to-day. All that this motion asks for is a Committee to find out whether it is or is not so. It is not a declaratory motion, because it does not declare anything. It does not make a law on any subject, or alter the condition of affair’s one iota. It merely asks for a means by which the Senate can inform itself on a certain matter of public importance. But the honorable senator absolutely refuses to countenance the obtaining of that information for the benefit of the public, a portion ‘of whom he represents here. I believe that he is labouring under a. mistake, and that if he were fully informed he would not adopt. that attitude. I have teen connected with the press and know, as a matter of fact, that it ‘ is impossible for anybody to get any terms for a cable or telegraph service, except such as are dictated by the combine. If a man has a. particular service, and if he ignores the combine for one moment it will not let him; in at all. If, on the other hand, he asks the combine to be allowed to participate in its service it will dictate all the conditions to him, and he must either accept or reject them, without, as in the case of the Seat of Government Acceptance Bill, the dotting’ of an “ i “ or the crossing of a “t.”
– In any business place which the honorable senator visits they will tell him the price of their goods and he can take them or leave them.
– I can go into another place of business and get served.
– The honorable senator cannot get at another place a special thing which 1 have had the foresight to acquire for myself, and which he wants very badly.
– I do not know what the honorable senator is alluding to. He has acquired a great many things which I have had not had an opportunity of getting, and I am sure that I do not begrudge them to him. However, that is beside the question. I have only stated what has come within my personal experience. These newspapers enjoy a great many concessions from the public. Special trains are run for the convenience of their trade. An immense net- work of telegraph lines is utilized for their service at a specially cheap rate. They took advantage of the outcry for a State-owned cable in order to compel the privately-owned cable company to largely reduce its rates, and after they had got the Commonwealth committed to a large expenditure they refused to patronize the State cable.
– I think that they are to blame in doing that.
– Yes, but according to Senator Trenwith we should treat them with the utmost consideration. We should not even inquire to see whether they are doing anything of an injurious nature.
– -They are not patriotic.
– That does not affect this issue.
– The honorable senator said that the Association was purely a private concern, but I contend that it is not. The newspapers are mixed up with State services every hour of every day in the week. We have given them special rates, special concessions and special favours.
– We have done all that in the public interest.
– I admit that it was ostensibly done in the public’ interest, but the owners of the newspapers have got the lion’s share of the benefits. Men have become millionaires through owning newspapers! £>nd because of the immense service which they get from the Commonwealth.
– So do men through owning other things.
– T am not saying that they do not, but they do not get the same favours and concessions from the State as the newspapers claim and get.
– But all the newspapers get those concessions whether they are in the combine or not.
– Does a little country newspaper get a special train run for its convenience at an unearthly hour in the morning ?
– It would if it had a train-load of newspapers to despatch.
– Special trains are run from Melbourne to Ballarat and Bendigo at an early hour of the morning.
– I would point our. to the honorable senator that that matter does not come within the purview of the motion.
– I want to show, sir, that it is a public matter, and to urge as a reason why the Government should interfere that these newspapers have been continually receiving favours and concessions from the State. 1 have never objected to the extension of those favours and concessions, but I submit that, in view of that fact, they should treat the requirements of the public with the utmost courtesy and a good deal of consideration. It certainly cannot be held to be in the interests of the public that a daily newspaper advocating a particular line of policy, which may or may not be good or desirable should be absolutely shut up by the Press Combine, and prevented from carrying on business. We have adopted a similar line of policy with regard to other matters.
– Could that newspaper have started if the combine had not existed ?
– Undoubtedly it could.
– How. could it have got the cables?
– It could have entered into a partnership with two or three other newspapers ; it can do that now. but it cannot get the service.
– Oh, nonsense !
– It can get the cable service.
– What is the important matter to a newspaper getting a cable service? The important point is that the cables shall arrive in time to be published. If they come one hour after the publishing time, one hour after another newspaper has put them . on the streets, they are useless, and the expenditure is so much waste. That is exactly what would happen in present circumstances, because the Press Association would get precedence on the cable, and probably, through influence which it would be able to exert on the Government, itwould also get precedence on the land lines. Certainly it would get precedence with Reuter’s and the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and anybody else with an independent cable service would always get his messages two hours too late, which is practically the same as being two years too late. I contend that, in order to get fair play for our citizens, it is necessary that an inquiry should take place. There are precedents for the State, in the interest of the whole people whom it represents, interfering in a private business. We have an Australian Industries Preservation Act on our statute-book, and other Anti-Trust Bills have been freely spoken about, contemplated, and projected in this and other countries. If it is considered right to interfere in the interests of the public with regard to other businesses, I should like to know what Senator Trenwith’s objection is to the State interfering in this business?
– To start with, the honorable senator has not shown that there is a monopolv.
– But the honorable senator did a couple of years ago.
– I think that we shall” be able to show that to the honorable senator.
– I shall quote the honorable senator’s own words.
– It has been shown that the cable combine is a monopoly. Unless one belongs to this Association, and will agree to its terms, it is impossible to participate in the service which it supplies. In certain cases a newspaper cannot participate on any terms, no matter what is offered. AsI have shown, it is a matter of almost absolute certainty - although we have no proof of the fact yet - that any other person trying to establish a rival service would find that his efforts were rendered nugatory, because the present combine would get precedence over the cables, and the newcomer would find that his telegrams would’ arrive two hours too late. For all practical purposes, they might as well be two years too late. The Government of the Commonwealth has frequently interferedin other matters. We have provided in our Anti-Trust Act that rebates shall not be given in order to attract custom. Senator Trenwith was a supporter of that Act. The
Anti -Trust Act also lays it down that a trust or a combine must serve all its customers on equal terms. It is a matter of common knowledge, for which documentary evidence can be produced wholesale, that every one is not served on an equal footing by this monopoly. They will not serve some newspapers at all.
– Why is not the Act set in motion against the combine?
– Why does Senator Mulcahy support a Fusion Government, which was brought into existence for the benefit of combines? What is the good of an Act which is not used ?
– Why not insist that the Act shall be used ?
– I would “ fire out “ the Government for not enforcing the Act if I could ; but I cannot while there are behind the Government people like Senator Mulcahy, who would keep them in office whether they are right or wrong. He evidently thinks that whatever the Government does is right.
– And I suppose the honorable senator would “fire” the’ Government out, no matter what they, did?
– I see no evidence of a desire on the part of the Government to fight trusts and monopolies. I believe that they have no tender regard for the welfare of the whole people, but that they have a verv warm feeling for wealthy corporations and the interests of the wealthy generally. I know very well that they look to this Press Combine to misrepresent the situation to the public in their behalf. That is the reason why they treat the combine so tenderly. I trust that the Senate will consent to appoint a Committee of inquiry. That is all that is asked for. If, on the inquiry being held, it is found that no injury is being done by the combine, and that no injurious monopoly exists, there will be an end of the case. But if, on the other hand, it is found that the combine acts injuriously in certain ways, it will be for the Senate to devise a remedy. I think that the Government might reasonably concede what is asked for.
. -I look at this matter purely from a business stand-point, and from no other aspect. A great many of us have from time to time had differences with the press. I suppose that most public men, if they really told the truth, would acknowledge that they have not in their hearts very much sympathy for newspapers generally. But that is no reason why, in dealing with a purely business matter, we should single out for special treatment those who run this particular kind of trade. There was a motion on the businesspaper to-night which has been displaced for the purpose of proceeding with the subject under discussion - relating to the nationalization of monopolies. That matter stood in the name of Senator Pearce. We have not yet decided to nationalize monopolies. “ It therefore appears to me that we have no right to interfere with any monopoly, except such right as is given in statute form under the Australian . Industries Preservation Act. What is the grievance about which we have heard so much in connexion with the cable service? There is no grievance in regard to reduced rates for cable messages being conceded to the alleged combine. The rates are shared alike by all newspapers. Any newspaper can take advantage of the concessions for press messages - the small as well as the large journals. The same remark applies to other concessions, such as postal facilities, and so forth. They are extended to all newspapers. No newspaper has a right to come to this Parliament and say that it is not treated in the same way as any other newspaper in this regard. All newspapers are open to enjoy the same concessions in regard to postal rates and cable rates. What, then, is the ground of complaint? It is that the messages sent over the cables to a certain combination are not distributed except on terms which are deemed fair and reasonable to those who cause the messages to be sent.
– Except on prohibitive terms.
– What right have we to dictate as to the terms?
– Because there is a specially cheap rate for newspapers.
– It does not specially apply to the newspapers in this monopoly. The same terms are open to every other newspaper. If any newspaper chooses to commence a cable service of its swn it can do so. It is not, therefore, the cable service that is being complained of, because that is undoubtedly available to any newspaper or combination of newspapers that choose to send the same quantity of cable matter over the cable. It is. the news itself that is the subject of the grievance - the information, the intelligence, collected in London by, I presume, a properly organized bureau ; collected sometimes at very great expense, and as the result of considerable foresight. This news, when transmitted, is held as any other article of commerce might be held. Those at whose instance it is transmitted manage to “ corner “ the news, so to speak. Some honorable senators want to step in at this point, because some of us are antagonistic to certain newspapers, and to say that they shall not carry on their business as any other person in the Commonwealth is permitted to carry on his.
– The honorable senator wants to baulk inquiry.
– No. I want to have a case for inquiry made out before I consent to one. I want evidence adduced to show that the combination is acting to the public detriment. That has not yet been done. If it can be established that the organization is detrimental to the public, there is in existence machinery under the law for dealing with it. I maintain that we have no legal or moral right to institute’ an inquiry into this particular business unless a prima facie case is made out, than we have to inquire into my business. As a business man, and an importer for many years, it has frequently happened that I have joined in combinations for the purchase of certain kinds of goods. An individual trader cannot purchase quantities of material on such advantageous terms as can a combination of traders. By buying from the first manufacturer a large quantity at a time, certain concessions in price can be obtained. That sort of thing is done every day in trade, and, as a matter of fact, such combinations are really for the good of the public. T, carrying on business in a small State like Tasmania, join with a man in Melbourne and a man in Sydney, and am thereby enabled to purchase material at a certain price which will enable me to distribute it at a lower price than I could otherwise do. Would it be right for my next door neighbour to ask for an inquiry into my business because I have had the acumen to combine with others, and because I have exercised judgment in the selection of my goods?
– The honorable senator would see to it that his next door neighbour would not get an advantage.
– Of course; that ir, my right. If the price of a certain! article in which Senator W. Russell is interested goes up, does he allow another person to dictate to him as to the price at which he shall sell? What is the use of talking nonsense about the business of the press, which, as I have said, none of us likes ?
– The newspapers are the. honorable senator’s friends.
– I doubt whether the honorable senator has suffered as much as I have done from the press. I looked into this matter when the Copyright Bill was under discussion.
– On that occasion Senator Trenwith spoke very strongly in favour of a similar proposition.
– I spoke against it. If anything is being done to the public detriment, we have on the statute-book an Act for dealing with it; but we have no right to interfere in the manner proposed. Whether the alleged combine is dealing’ fairly with certain newspapers or not, I do not know. I admit that facts have come to my knowledge which indicated that the combination was not treating certain newspapers generously. But I must admit that it is not for me - and it is not for us as a Senate - to dictate in such a matter. Generosity does not enter into daily business. Any large combination which can secure quantities of certain things, has a right to make the best terms it can in regard to the distribution of them. As long as what is done is not to the public detriment, we’ have no right to interfere.
– There is one aspect of the matter under discussion which, perhaps, I may be pardoned for mentioning, because it has not been touched on hitherto. The proposition is that an inquiry shall be held, and the honorable senators to whom the inquiry is to be intrusted are mentioned in the motion. For reasons which I shall give later on, I do not propose to enterupon the subject in dispute. But affirmations from both sides of the chamber have, to my mind, established this fact - that, even if an inquiry is necessary, sufficient has taken place to unfit the members of the proposed Committee for making the investigation. I wish to invite the Senate to look at the names suggested, and in doing so, I desire it to be understood that I am not in any way desirous of making personal reflections.
– The honorable senator can demand a ballot if he pleases.
– Suppose the Committee were elected by ballot-
– The honorable senator having command of a majority, could put none but Government supporters on the Committee.
– Would that make the position any better ?
-No ; but probably the honorable senator would in that case be more satisfied with the report.
– I hardly remember a matter on which honorable senators have so deeply committed themselves as on this.
– Who have?
– Senator Guthrie, for one. There has not been an interval of ten minutes during the whole debate during which the honorable senator has not made interjections, which have revealed his attitude of mind in regard to the subject.
– Let us put Senaton Trenwith on the Committee ; he has spoken on both sides.
– That would not suit the honorable senator at all.
– He is the only man who would suit the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– There is a vast difference between honorable senators who can enter an inquiry of this kind with a judicial and open mind and representatives like Senator Pearce, who, in season and out of season, has affirmed that an iniquitous press combine exists. But admitting that an inquiry may be necessary, my point is that the Senate is not the proper body to undertake it. Let us look at the names of those whom it is proposed shall constitute the Select Committee. At the head of the list is Senator Pulsford. Now, with all respect to him, I venture to say that he takes the same view as I do, namely, that an iniquitous monopoly does not exist. What is the use of placing upon a Committee a man who believes that a certain thing is white and another who believes that it is black?
– Honorable senators opposite have not yet established their right to an inquiry.
– Oh. ves.
– The emphatic “Oh, yes “ of Senator Pearce nroves mvcase, that he and other honorable senators have absolutely made up their minds that a wicked wrong is being perpetrated.
– No, but that there is need for an inquiry.
– That is not the statement which the honorable senator made Rome time ago. Upon a former occasion he levelled definite accusations against this alleged cable combine.
– I do so now. I have established a prima facie case, and asked for an inquiry into.it.
– The honorable senator’s proper place would be as a witness before any such committee of inquiry.
– Then we should have to alter the Standing Orders.
– No Committee of the Senate could approach the consideration of this question in an unbiased frame of mind. I admit that there are investigations which Select Committees may very properly undertake, but they do not include an inquiry of this kind, upon the merits of which such very strong opinions have been expressed ever since the introduction of the Copyright Bill. I am opposed to the appointment of this Select Committee, especially in view of the fact that Senator Findley has committed himself so irretrievably on the matter-
– I have not spoken upon it.
– A dozen times the honorable senator has affirmed his belief that a combine exists.
– If the proposal be carried, how would the Vice-President of the Executive Council suggest that the Committee should be appointed?
– If the Senate decides to appoint a Committee it is quite immaterial how it may be appointed.
– We can appoint it by ballot.
– What is the use of doing that, seeing that every honorable senator has made up his mind upon the question ?
– How can honorable senators make up their minds upon it in the absence of information?
– Senator Dobson, too. has made many interjections which ha.ve convinced me that he cannot bring to hear an open and judicial mind upon this question.
– Certainly I can.
– I quite recognise that a man can have an unconscious bias.
– It is often a good thing to hang a man first and to hear the evidence against him afterwards.
– I do not wish to hang anybody. As a matter of fact even in the case of Senator Pearce I am opposed to capital punishment. I repeat that the discussion which took place in this chamber on the Copyright Bill made it very obvious that very few honorable senators can approach the consideration of the matter under discussion with minds free from bias - conscious or otherwise. I hold a definite view upon it myself, and I admit that I am unfitted to approach it in a judicial frame of mind.
– Yet the VicePresident of the Executive Council has accused us of being biased.
– I have endeavoured to put the matter as impartially as I can.
– How does the VicePresident of the Executive Council arrive at the conclusion that Senator Findley is biased ?
– From the nature of his interjections. I ask Senator Findley to give a straightout denial as to whether he has not expressed the opinion that a press monopoly exists in Australia.
– I have not spoken on the question since it has been before the Senate.
– But the honorable senator has made numerous interjections.
– I have not.
– Then my ears have deceived me. I accept the honorable senator’s assurance, but I was certainly under the impression that upon more than one occasion he had interjected in a way which led me to believe that he would support the attitude taken up by Senator Pearce and others. If, however, he believes that the cable combine is a perfectly legitimate one he will be equally unfitted to undertake this inquiry. We all recognise, then, that Senators Pulsford, St. Ledger and Findley are absolutely opposed to the theory that a cable monopoly exists in Australia. I understand that that is the position which is now taken up by Senator Findley. On the other hand, Senators Dobson, Guthrie, Givens and Pearce have all affirmed on the floor of the Senate at frequent intervals that a wicked conscienceless monopoly does exist. “ During this debate I have heard remarks which would almost justify a raid being made upon every library in the country. For instance, Senator Dobson stated that he wishes to make the dissemination of knowledge as cheap as is possible. I know of no better way in which that could be done than by making a raid upon our libraries.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is not doing himself justice.
– The desire tospread knowledge is one with which we all agree.”
– Ought we to permit education to become a monopoly ?
– Certainly not r Nor would I allow a library to become a monopoly.
– If I found that the use of a library was a monopoly I would favour starting a State library.
– I have no desire toprolong this discussion. My sole object in rising was to show that even if an inquiry be desirable, honorable senators are ill-equipped to undertake it in view of the very strong expressions1 of opinion to which’ they have already given utterance. It would be impossible to expect an Englishman to refer some point of racial interest to a Frenchman for decision or mee versa. I say that Senator Pearce has stood in this chamber as an accuser in this matter time after time.
– Hear, hear !
– Senator Guthrie agrees with that statement. The position for an accuser is not on the Bench, it is in the prosecutor’s box. That is where Senator Pearce ought to be, and I should occupy a place in the witness box as a wit- ness for the defence. I admit at once that, holding the views I do on this question, I should not be a competent judge in the matter.
– Would not all the evidence be taken on oath, ‘ and a report be published ‘<
– I do not know that I can give the honorable senator any better answer than to ask him to point to a single Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to inquire into, a matter upon which party or individual feeling has run high, and say whether the majority and minority reports subsequently presented have not beenentirely in accord with the previously expressed opinions of the members of the Committee? I take the Tariff Commission, for instance. Four of each side were appointed, and the result was the production nf beautifully balanced reports signed as we might have expected them to be when the members of that Commission were selected to make the inquiry.
– Does the honorable senator take no notice of the evidence ?
– We should have no guarantee that special attention would be given to the evidence elicited by the Commitee.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the evidence elicited by the Tariff Commission assisted Parliament ?
– I do not think that it did to any great extent. It gave members pf this Parliament material with which to string out the debates on the Tariff, but I do not think that the evidence affected a single vote.
– What about the Elections Committee that unseated Senator O’Loghlin?
– I think I heard some accusation of the influence of party feeling in that case. I recall another Select Commitee - that on the Tobacco Monopoly. We got an affirmative report in that case signed by those who before they entered upon the investigation had done as they are doing to-day in alleging that a combine exists.
– Had not each side a fair opportunity to present their case?
– That is not the question. We are asked to appoint a number of honorable senators to conduct an inquiry in a judicial capacity, and to present a report.
– No. Those acting in -a judicial capacity have the power to order punishment or acquittal.
– Senator Givens will see that something more than the conduct -of an inquiry is proposed, because a report would follow. The taking of the evidence might be absolutely fair, but I say that the same evidence presented to two minds influenced by a contrary bias would produce a different effect. Evidence which would induce me to make one kind of /report might induce Senator Pearce to make -a totally different report.
– And the Senate would judge between us.
– Of course, but what would be the use of that?
– The Senate cannot -get the evidence.
– That is quite another question. If the report is to be of no value, and the inquiry is asked for merely in order to get evidence, that is to me an additional reason for opposing the motion.
– If there is anything in the argument advanced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it would apply with equal force against the appointment of any Commission or Select Committtee to inquire into any subject whatever. All that is asked for in this case is the appointment of a Committee to ascertain whether there is a Cable Combine in existence..
– Pass this motion to-night, and we might have the report presented to-morrow.
– Every Select Commitee or Commission appointed to consider the existence of an evil must, of necessity, be composed of persons who have formed some idea as to whether or not the evil exists. We wish to find out whether a Cable Combine exists, and, if so, whether its operations are injurious to the public?
– We should not intrust the inquiry to honorable senators who have already made up their minds that there is a combine.
– Might I remind the honorable senator’ that the members of the Select Committee would not be the judges in the matter. It would be their duty merely to elicit evidence, which would afterwards be laid before the Senate. On that evidence, the Senate would decide whether a combine existed. No matter how biased a member of the Committee might be, he could only ask questions of the different witnesses, who would, of course, be obliged to answer truly on oath. It has been stated that no Press Combine exists, and that the proprietor of any newspaper in Australia can secure cable messages from the Press Association if he is prepared to pay for them. It is admitted that in the past that has certainly not been the cask I have in my hands proof at the present moment that within the last few years the proprietors of one newspaper were refused cables by the Press Association, although they were prepared to pay for them. Tt is claimed by honorable senators opposite that that embargo has now been .removed, and that the proprietors of the newspaper in question can get the cables at a price, but even if that be so there is no guarantee that some other person might not be refused cable news to-morrow. Senator Trenwith suggested the operations of a cooperative company as analagous to the operations of the Press Association, and Senator Walker considered that he described the position when he said that if he could not get what he wanted at the price he was prepared to pay in one shop, he could go to another. In this case there is no other shop to go to. I propose to read a few extracts from an article on this very subject which appeared in a newspaper, the proprietors of which were denied cables by the PressAssociation. These will prove to any unbiased person that a combine existed a few years ago, if it does not exist to-day.
– What newspaper does the honorable senator propose to quote from?
– I propose to quote from the Herald, a weekly newspaper printed in Adelaide. The proprietors have been endeavouring for some years to issue the newspaper as a daily, but chiefly because it is run in the interests of Labour the whole of the influence of the members of the Press Association has been brought to bear to prevent the Association from granting the proprietor of this newspaper the right to publish their cable news. The article is headed “ The Cable Monopoly.’” Some logical views are expressed in the leading paragraphs, which do not touch exactly upon the Cable Combine, but’ lead up to the references to it. I quote the following: -
It is an accepted article of political faith that the nation should be the only monopolist. In Australia legislation has recently been enacted for the purpose of combating the evil effects of trade combinations which aim to corner any particular manufactures or commodities with the callous intention of squeezing the consumers. The daily press prates of the advantages of competition - in trade, but regarding the blessings of competition in the newspaper business the great dailies maintain a silence that can ‘be felt.
The Free-trade newspapers enthusiastically assert that there should be absolutely no restriction on importations, so that the people of Australia might enjoy the inestimable advantages of cheapness in regard to the necessaries of life. But they say never a word about the great boon of cheap cables, which would permit the establishment of more daily papers and encourage competition in the press business, and tend to the improvement of the press and the better education of the people.
The Protectionist journals claim that their fiscal policy would confer an everlasting boon upon the country in inevitably leading _ to the stimulation of industry and the establishment of many more places of business ; but, apparently, they consider that the existing press proprietaries and companies should enjoy a monopoly of protection so far as their particu- lai business is concerned.
A cable combine has a stranglehold uponAustralia. There is only one source of news from the old world, and that is absolutely controlled by the press-gang, composed of the Adelaide Register and Advertiser, the Melbourne Argus (the Australasian Managers) and” Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph, and, we understand, the BrisbaneCourier. These newspapers differ in many questions of policy, but they are without exceptioncapitalistic, and bitterly opposed to the political and social advancement of the workers. Alt the cable news is collated and sent by thesyndicate’s representative in London, and the combine can suppress or distort as it pleases. This is a most unhealthy state of affairs, and1 should not be tolerated in a democratic country. One result is that Australia suffers a most inadequate service; the greater part of the cablenews of the outside world is piffle of the most vretched description, and only one side of important questions is put before Australian, readers.
This in itself is a sufficiently great evil, but the cables, such as they are, cannot be obtained by any person or organization desirous of starting a daily newspaper in any city in Australia without the “ unanimous “ consent of the presentmonopolists. It is possible, though unlikely, that another newspaper, similar in character to the existing great dailies, might be allowed to obtain the combine’s cables at a price, but it has been made quite clear that no Labour organ will be permitted to obtain a glimpse at any price and under any circumstances. Thefollowing letters, received by The Herald manager and reprinted from The Herald of October 28, 1905, will explain themselves and the situation : -
This was in reply to an application - “ The Argus and Australasian.
Dear Sir, - In reply to your letter of the 1st instant, asking on what terms you could be supplied with the Cable Association’s telegrams, we beg to say that so far as Adelaide is concerned the matter rests entirely with the proprietors of the Register and the Advertiser as to whether they would consent to another journal there joining in the service, and we therefore refer you in the first instance to the conductors of those papers.
Wilson & Mackinnon.”
Is not that a clear proof that the proprietors of the Adelaide Advertiser and theRegister had the power in their hands toprevent any other newspaper in Adelaide from participating in the news that they were getting through the combine ?
– The letter was written by the manager of the Press Association in Melbourne.
– That is the most absolute confession of a monopoly we could possibly have.
– Are they still maintaining that attitude?
– Not since this motion appeared 011 the business-paper of ‘ the Senate.
– The article continues -
This was a polite evasion, as the joint note from the Advertiser and Register will show. They wrote as follows : - “ Adelaide, 17th February, 1904.
Dear Sir, - In reply to yours of the 3rd and nth inst., inquiring regarding the proposed sharing of our cable service, we wish to explain that the joint Inter-State agreement regulating that service contains a clause, which says ‘ that no message shall be supplied to the proprietary of any newspaper published either in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Brisbane, other than in respect of the newspapers mentioned in this agreement without the unanimous consent of the parties hereto, except to the proprietary of any evening newspaper or newspapers which may hereafter be published in Melbourne.’ In conformity with this obligation we have communicated with our partners in the other States, and we find that it is impossible to obtain the unanimous consent, provided for in the clause just quoted.
That clause in the agreement distinctly proves that these people have a combine. And they are able thus to prevent the proprietors of other newspapers ‘from getting their news. The object is, of course, to stifle competition.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to ask why the Labour organizations in Australia do not get the Labour organizations of the United Kingdom to act as their agents for the transmission of cable news?
– The article from which I am quoting deals with that phase of the question. It proceeds -
The monopolistic blight not only embraces all Australia, but New Zealand also is a sufferer, as the following letter will demonstrate : - “The Manager, The Herald, Adelaide.
Dear Sir, - Our cables are the same as those supplied to the Australian papers. We obtain them from the Cable Association. It is quite impossible, therefore, for us to supply them to any one else.
That letter was in reply to an application made to the New Zealand Press Association, and it proves that the combine has power to prevent even the New Zealand agency from dealing with any one without their consent.
The parties to the combine assert that the cable service costs them a great deal ; but, as a matter of fact, by selling their cornered news to dailies in Australia and New Zealand at their own price, it is more than probable that their cables are an actual profit, and not a source of expense.
It is claimed that it is open to other persons or organizations to form a combination of their own and secuie an independent service ; but such a combination has been made impracticable by the combine, as no two newspapers contracting with this octopus have their contracts maturing on the same date, and no single daily paper, run on commercial lines and out for profit, could shoulder the entire expense of an adequate supply of cable news. The octopus has the field to itself, and no intruder will be permitted to encroach thereon.
– I know that it is true.
– I am not doubting that. My point is that any one who believes that- is hardly in a position to conduct a fair inquiry.
– I know that nothing that was untrue would be published in this newspaper. The article continues -
The cable combine for some extraordinary reason is permitted to enjoy this dangerous monopoly without any protest on the part of our legislators.
What would be said if the big wholesale firms, dealing in the necessaries of life, secured the whole of the trade and said, “ We shall deal only with two retailers, who may charge their- customers what we and they choose, and no other party shall be supplied with food-stuff to start in business in South Australia “ ? We venture to say that a howl would arise that would bring anti-monopoly legislation in record time. The newspaper business within Australia receives valuable subsidies in the matter of cheap telegraphic and postal rates, special rates for the carriage of papers on the railways, and special rates for their servants travelling on their business. It is the people of Australia who grant the press these privileges, but it was certainly not anticipated that a comparatively few wealthy proprietaries and companies should be built up by these means, which would use their power to exclude coiripetitors for all time.
After describing ho.w an attempt was made to insert in the Copyright Bill some clauses which would have met the difficulty to some extent, the article continues -
The Bill passed the Senate, but in the House of Representatives the affable Alfred Deakin secured the excision of the clauses, as he held that the matter could be better dealt with in a separate Bill, which he promised Mr. J. C. Watson, the then leader of the Labour Party, to introduce later on. Needless to say he did not keep his promise.
That is the position. At the time Mr. Deakin promised that he would introduce a Bill to deal with the Cable Combine, but the. Ministers representing the present Deakin Government in the Senate absolutely refuse to assent to an inquiry in order to ascertain whether or not it is necessary to introduce legislation of that character. That would be a surprising change of attitude if it were that of any but a Deakin Government. Continuing, the article says -
We are constantly receiving inquiries as to what is being done to bring the Labour Daily scheme to an issue.
The proposal to issue a daily newspaper in Adelaide has been practically delayed for four or five years, because the concern is not strong enough, financially, to get its own cables, and has been prevented from joining in what should be a public service.
The foregoing particulars will show the difficulties to be contended with. Could we obtain cable news on the same terms as the customers of the combine, the Labour Daily could be issued in a very short time. Another effort has recently been made to secure a look-in. but the telegram company - Reuter’s Telegram Co. Limited - which enjoys the right of supplying country papers informed us on Saturday last that they could not do business with us on any terms. The letter was as follows : - “With further reference to your recent inquiry as to our preparedness to make an independent news service to the Adelaide Herald, I now have pleasure in communicating the purport of our general manager’s reply just to hand. He writes as follows: - ‘I am this day in receipt of your yesterday’s letter, in which you refer to the visit paid you by Mr. T. T. Opie with the view of ascertaining whether we should be free to furnish an independent service of cable news from home to the extent of 300 to 400 words per day. In view of existing arrangements, I regret that it would not be possible for us to undertake the service in question, and I beg of you to intimate with regret to Mr. Opie that we are not at the present time open to negotiate for an independent supply.’”
So that the Press Association in Melbourne has left no stone unturned to prevent by every possible means the daily newspaper which it was proposed to issue in Adelaide, and which, of course, would be a competitor with two of its members, from getting possession of cable news at a price at which it could manage to pay iti way and earn a profit.
This means that the octopus will do its utmost to prevent the appearance of a Labour Daily Paper in any of the large Australian cities.
I have read these extracts from the article in order to refute the contention of some honorable senators on the other side of the Chamber that no difficulty exists, and that it is possible to form another combination.
– That is not impossible.
– If it is not impossible, it is certainly surrounded with very great difficulties indeed.
– That is different from being impossible.
– I quite agree with my honorable friend who, I think, will bear me out that it is an advantage to the community to have all the information which can be procured from all over the world disseminated, amongst the people. I also believe that he will agree with me that it would be perhaps a good thing for the readers of daily newspapers to be presented with both sides of a political question. Yet he proposes to vote against the holding of an inquiry, which might make it easy, at any rate more easy, for a newspaper to be started which would place before the public that side of the political question which is not presented to-day. It is undoubted that there is an arrangement amongst the leading newspapers of Australia, to get out cable news for themselves. It is also undoubted that they have refused to sell their messages at any price to another concern which wanted to get them. It was not as if the other newspaper desired to get the messages at a cheap rate. The object of the refusal was, of course, to prevent the issue of another daily newspaper which possibly would be a rival to those of some of the partners in the Association. Is not that clearly a restriction on the newspaper publishing business? Has it not prevented the competition which Senator Walker so dearly loves? Had the newspaper from which I have quoted been able to get cable news on the same terms as the other newspapers, there would have been in Adelaide to-day a third daily newspaper, which would have increased the competition
– And decreased the profits of the other papers.
– It might have decreased the profits of the existing newspapers, but it would have increased the competition, and, according to Senator Walker’s line of reasoning, that would have been an advantage to the community. I am not prepared to say that, when it is carried too far, competition is a good thing for the community, but I do say that it must be a good thing for the community to have an opportunity to read in the press both sides of a political question. It would tend to educate the public on all the political questions of the day. But what is the position at present ? In Adelaide, for example, we have one newspaper which takes a strong Conservative side in politics, and dishes that up to its readers day after day ; nothing else is served to them. The aims and actions of the Labour party are either suppressed or misrepresented. The other daily newspaper in Adelaide, which is supposed to be a Liberal one, never takes any side in politics. It is careful not to take any side of a political question, in order that it may not offend any of its readers, and so decrease its circulation.
– But it often gives a dig at the Labour party.
– Still it has no political policy, as the Register has.
– Is it so colourless asall that?
– I think that, generally speaking, the Advertiser is politically a colourless newspaper. It takes no direct part in politics. It does not directly advocate the cause of the candidates on either side in a political campaign.
– It gave me “fits” enough.
– At any rate, it does not do so to anything like the same extent as the Register does. It adopts a sort of neutral, sitting-on-the-rail policy. It would be- a distinct advantage if it were possible to have in Adelaide a daily newspaper putting before electors all over the State both sides of political questions and leaving them to judge which was the proper policy for them to adopt. All that we, as a political party, ask is, that our views may be fairly placed before the public, so that they can have an opportunity of comparing our proposals with others and deciding which, in their opinion, is the best policy for themselves and the country.
– Does the honorable senator think that the absence of cable messages prevents them from putting their views before the public?
– I do not say that, but I believe that if a Select Committee were appointed by the Senate evidence would be procured to show that there is a restriction on the dissemination of the news which is cabled to Australia, and that possibly the public might be put in possession of a lot of information which we do not get at present. It might also show the necessity for passing some legislation on the subject. At any rate, it could have none but a good effect. It has already been pointed out that the mere giving of this notice of motion has led to the Press Association stating that it is prepared to consider the question of giving to the proposed daily newspaper in Adelaide the right io get its cable news. If the mere proposal to appoint a Select Committee has effected that good, I think it is fair to assume that the evidence which it would be able to elicit and lay before the Parliament and the public would do much more good. I cannot conceive why any one should object to the motion. If no evils exist, there will be no harm done by the appointment of a Select Committee. If, however, any evils exist, a Select Committee, if appointed, may be able to make some recommendations which would lead to their removal.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) put - That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The bulk of the argument upon this motion seems to have centred round the case of a gentleman named Mahon, who alleges that somewhere or other in Western Australia, he was at one time running a newspaper, and failed to secure reasonable terms from certain persons controlling a press agency. As I remarked on a previous occasion, it may be possible that, somewhere or other in Australia, unfair business methods have been adopted towards people engaged in the newspaper business; but, so far as this particular alleged monopoly is concerned, my own personal experience, at any rate, leads me to believe that, whatever may have been the faults of some agents or minor people connected with it, those faults have not manifested themselves to such a great extent as to justify the Commonwealth Parliament taking in hand an inquiry into the method of carrying on what is generally called the Press Cable Agency.
– The Adelaide case alone justifies an inquiry.
– It may be, as Senator W. Russell says, that the Adelaide case justifies some inquiry ; but, having heard both sides of the question - not only the side put by Senator Pearce, but also that put by the Minister of Trade and Customs - it is suggested to me that probably the gentleman most concerned in the matter would be very glad if sleeping dogs were allowed to lie, and if nothing further were heard or said about the matter. I do not propose to pursue the general question as to whether this newspaper in Western Australia, did steal telegrams for a number of months, or for a year or two, before’ it was found out.
– The honorable senator mentions it all the same.
– I mention it deliberately, too.
– The honorable senator might also mention one’ of the Melbourne dailies which also stole cable news for a long period.
– I can mention quite a large number of country newspapers which have, within my own knowledge, quite a common practice-
– Would the honorable senator say, definitely, that the Western Australian newspaper referred to stole telegrams ?
– I can say that a large number of newspapers, to my own knowledge^ have a habit of getting metropolitan agents to take out cable messages from the metropolitan newspapers as soon as they appear, and telegraph them up country, in order that the country newspapers’ may publish them in evening editions before the metropolitan newspapers get up by train.
– All the metropolitan dailies thieve wholesale.
– The view of the Senate has, however, been particularly focussed upon a certain newspaper which was, I think, called the Menzies Advertiser, or Times, or something else, in Western Australia. I wish to say that, having myself had some experience of this so-called combine, I can, as a newspaper proprietor, say that, as far as I could judge, they treated me absolutely fairly and reasonably. But I will give a better illustration than my own personal experience; because, after all, I was only the proprietor of a country journal which was so far removed from the metropolis that it might be argued that it did not come into competition with newspapers the proprietors of which were members of the combine. I can cite the case of the Brisbane Daily Mail. I cannot be certain as to the exact date when that newspaper was started, but I think it was about six or seven years ago. It was started in obvious and intended opposition to the Brisbane Courier, a newspaper which is, unless I am very much misformed, one .of the alleged combine. One would have imagined that the Brisbane Courier would have done its level best to prevent opposition from a newspaper started in the same city. That would have been a reasonable thing, if there had been a monopoly which was deliberately trying to stifle all competition. I know that for quite a number of years the matter was discussed in newspaper circles, and it was believed .that it would he impossible to start a daily newspaper in opposition to a journal belonging to the combine. But what happened? When the Daily Mail was started, and when the promoters had got their enterprise on to a fairly decent footing in respect to capital, though before the first issue of the newspaper was published, the combine was approached and asked to supply the Daily Mail with telegrams from the Old Country. The combine agreed to do so at a certain price. I am not at liberty, even if I were absolutely certain of the figures, to disclose what the price was; but, at all events, the combine did supply the Daily Mail with cable messages, and has supplied it ever since. Only the other day the Honorable G. Wilkie) Gray, a member of the Legislative Council of Queensland, who is chairman of directors of the Daily Mail Company, was down in Melbourne. I made it my business to interview him on the subject, and to put certain questions to him. He gave me his authority to state here definitely that not only had the company no difficulty whatever in arranging for a cable service for the Daily Mail from the moment when it was required, but that as time had gone on thi; company had been treated still more generously by this alleged combine. He added that at the present moment he had nothing at all to complain about as to the treatment meted out to himself and his company. That, I say, is probably a better illustration of what appear to be the fair and business-like methods - I do not say the generous methods - of the alleged combine than anything I can give from my own experience as a country newspaper proprietor. On a previous occasion when I spoke on this subject, Senator Givens interjected that the country newspaper proprietors were against the service, - and he inferred that I, as a member of the Provincial Press Association, ought to have known that. Now, I have before me a pamphlet entitled An Infamous Monopoly; the Story of our Cable Slavery, by R. McMillan. It is published by the Sydney Stock Journal Newspaper Company Limited, Castlereagh-street, Sydney, and is dated 1908. So far as I can make out, the pamphlet consists of a series of letters that were originally published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Mr. R. McMillan, a gentleman whom I have met casually at some conferences, was a very keen advocate of the establishment by the provincial press of an independent cable service from England. He believed that this monopoly, or combine, whatever we may call it, was really doing an enormous amount of injury and hardship to the country press ; and amongst other methods which he adopted to direct attention to the question was the writing of a series of very strong and vigorous letters to the Sydney press. I do not propose to read a considerable number of extracts from the pamphlet, but I find that in Chapter 7 - which I take to be the seventh letter - he writes this -
When I started these articles last year, it was with the idea of fighting the monopoly enjoyed by the Australian press. Our cable news from Great Britain costs one shilling a word, while the ordinary customer pays 3s. a word. A big syndicate of newspaper proprietors control this press work, and the man who would fain start a new paper is so severely handicapped that he is afraid to make a start, and the whole country suffers.
My honorable friend, Senator Pearce, will agree with that, I am sure. But what follows? Mr. McMillan went on to say -
That was the idea I had when I started, but I soon found that there was a mightier vampire than the Australian press proprietors sucking the blood of the people.
– Read the lot.
– If the honor.orable senator really desires me to do so, I shall offer no objection. He went on to say -
The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company is sucking the blood of the Empire, and has hampered us so effectually that we are almost cripples, but we don’t know it. We are crawling with a feeble motion, and creeping like helpless children, when we ought to be bounding along with the full health and strength of vigourous life. And all because we have allowed a band of pirates to monopolize the means of communication between the different parts of the Empire.
He also gives his reasons for regarding the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company as a pirate and a vampire. He says -
We are charged 3s. a word for cable messages to England when we ought to be sending messages for one penny a word. There are thirteen cables across the Atlantic, but the cable monopoly keeps eleven of them idle’ in order to keep up the prices. Can anything in the world beat that in the way of monopoly? The quickest way to cable to England to-day is by the All-Red Route which goes from Brisbane to Vancouver, and we can send press messages by that line for is. a word, and the cost is made up this way - terminable charges in Australia, 2d. ; Pacific cable, 4d. ; across Canada, id. ; across the Atlantic, ;d. And the general public has to pay 3s. per word for what we get for is. But the cables are idle most of the time.
– The writer is not a member of the Press Combine?
– No. His complaint is that the root of the whole trouble is the enormous charges which are being made for cable messages. Those charges alone are responsible for the heavy burden which is imposed upon our country newspapers. Upon a former occasion I think I stated that it was not beyond the means of private individuals to establish a cable service of their own. I hold in my hand a copy of the official report of the Australasian Press Conference, which met in Sydney from 15th to ?9th October, 1907. From that document I learn that -
The Secretary read confidential reports which he had already supplied delegates, also cablegrams and letters received from all quarters in regard to the proposal. These went to show that two directors of the New South Wales Co-operative Company (Messrs. J. C. Leslie and J. Ryan) had, independently of each other, visited the “Old World” ‘and made minute inquiries anent the practicability of establishing a new service, and both concluded that an efficient service could be maintained for ^6.000 per annum.
The document is at the disposal of any honorable senator who cares to peruse it. Honorable senators probably know that to establish a daily newspaper in any of our large cities is a very big undertaking. It cannot be done for an expenditure of 2d. “Unless somebody could devise an original scheme for catching the public eye, one could not start a daily newspaper in any of our capital cities for an expenditure of less than £100,000. But the two gentlemen whom I have quoted, declare that an ordinary cable service such as would be required by the press of Australia, can be instituted for an expenditure of £6,000 per annum. Of course it is quite open to honorable senators opposite to say that these gentlemen do not know what they are talking about. But I venture to say that two representatives of the Press Association who were charged with the duty of reporting confidentially to that Association, probably know a great deal more of what they are talking about than does any honorable senator who may casually choose to contradict them. The delegates to the Press Association have supplied ample evidence that an independent cable service could be established here. In speaking- upon this subject, Senator Pearce referred to what he described as “misleading” cablegrams from the Old Country. I am not prepared to say that if the Press Cable Service were in the hands of a number of private individuals the position, from the public stand-point, would not be very much improved. As a matter of fact, I have received numerous letters dealing with the faults of the present cable service. But, after all, those faults relate only to matters of opinion. For instance, one newspaper proprietor complains that during the Boer war the anti-Boer feeling at home was not sufficiently noticed. I am not prepared to’ say whether or not that is so. Still that is the opinion of a man who publishes an eight-page daily newspaper, which wields a very considerable influence in Queensland. He further pointed out that -
Liberal politics do not get enough publicity and that provincial opinion in England is not sufficiently given, the opinions being too much those of the London Times.
That statement may be perfectly true, but I venture to say that if a tailor will not cut mv clothes as I want him to cut them, my remedy is to visit another tailor, and in this case it cannot be urged that another tailor is not available. That an alternative cable service can be started must be patent to all.Those who are not satisfied with the existing service might very well combine and establish a service of their own. During the course of this debate a great deal has been said of the concessions which have been made to newspapers. But I do not think that any honorable senator is prepared to acknowledge that he voted for those concessions in order to give the newspapers extra profits. So far as the recent reduction in the cost of press cable messages is concerned, I say that to the best of my knowledge and belief, it was brought about at the instance, not of the Australian press, but of the English press.
– The report of the proceedings of the Press Conference entirely disprove that statement. The question was raised by the Australian delegates.
– But the honorable senator cannot say that they were the only persons who raised it. As a matter of fact, I believe that the reduction was chiefly, the result of action on the part of the English press, and particularly of the London Times, which desired to obtain a larger quantity of information from various parts of the Empire. What do my honororable friends opposite propose?
– To ascertain whether a monopoly exists.
– My honorable friends know perfectly well that they really wish to put the press of Australia under the heel of whatever Government may be in power. They want to see it nationalized. We should have news from every part of the world passing through the hands of a censor, as in Russia, so that the public would get only the views of the people in power. Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but that is the logicalconclusion of what they are proposing. All that I can say is that I make them a present of their suggestion, and I hope that it will never be carried out.
– I wish to say that we have listened to some remarkable speeches during this debate, but the palm must, I think, he awarded to the speech delivered by Senator Trenwith. The honorable senator said to-night that the Press Association is, not a monopoly, that its operations are not harmful, and are in no way derogatory to the public interest. Let me inform honorable senators that this question was discussed when we were considering the Copyright Bill, and I shall quote from a speech delivered by Senator Trenwith on that Bill as affecting the question now under consideration. I refer honorable senators to page 2940 of Hansard for 1905. The honorable senator said -
I distinctly recognise, and it is indeed notorious that the principal press combination exercises at present an influence in connexion with cablegrams which is baneful and against the general weal. Although I was not prepared to vote for the amendment as submitted, I do think there ought to be devisable some means by which injustice might be remedied, and the power of this vicious, baneful combine somewhat weakened.
Later on, the honorable senator said this, and I ask special attention to what I believe to be logical arguments -
The facts in connexion with the newspaper combine for cable news are,, that it has acquired the power to obtain information at a greatly reduced cost. I recognise that the public are indebted to the newspapers to that extent. But it is rather a disadvantage than an advantage to the community that there should be a certain number of newspapers in that position and no more, If it has happened that such a large number of newspapers have entered into a combine as to have power enough to secure news for general distribution at a price at which no single- individual could hope to compete with them, it is prejudicial to the common weal, and in restraint of the extension of newspaper information to the people.
An argument concerning the Arbitration Court was introduced into the discussion, and Senator Trenwith said -
When we gave trades unions an advantage which they previously had not, we had a right to make the condition that they should not constitute close corporations - that they should not keep all the advantages for those within their own ranks - but .should open their doors to eligible persons who desired to join. That is all we are asking with reference to this newspaper trade union or combine.
Those are the arguments used at that time by Senator Trenwith. They are unanswerable, and I place them side by side with the speech the honorable senator has made to-night, and contend that they refute all that he has said. There is one phase of- the question which has not yet been touched upon, and that is its relation to the Pacific cable, which is injuriously affected by the existence of this combine. I make that statement not on my own authority, but on the authority of the Honorable A. J. Thynne, M.L.C., of Queensland, an ex-Postmaster-General of that State. Mr. Henniker Heaton gave an address at the Colonial Institute on the subject of press cables, advocating a better service. Representatives of Canada, New Zealand, and Australia were present. During a discussion which followed Mr. Heaton’s address, the Honorable A. J. Thynne, who as an ex-Postmaster-General knew what he was speaking about, made the following reference to the Pacific cable -
It would pay even now if it were not that there were certain impediments, which have been delicately referred to in Australia and elsewhere, which prevented a certain portion of the traffic coming to the cable. I mean a press arrangement in Australia by which any paper that publishes a cablegram sent over the Pacific Cable will be refused the supply of Press Association messages which are sent usually by the Eastern Extension Line. It is an important but difficult factor, but one which has got to be dealt with, and I have no doubt will be dealt with in due course.
I put it to the members of the Government, as trustees of the public purse and guardians of the interests of the Pacific cable, to say whether that is not a statement which ought to be investigated? Will they refuse an inquiry on that question ? That is the statement of a public man who occupied a representative position in the State. At a public gathering, he declared that the Press Association in Australia boycotts the Pacific cable, and that the result of their operations has been to prevent press cable messages going over that line. That is a very serious charge.
– Mr. Thynne represented Queensland at the Ottawa Conference, where the establishment of the Pacific cable was agreed upon.
– That is so. We know that, as a matter of actual fact, no press messages do find their way over the Pacific cable. Why is that? It is not because the Pacific cable is less trustworthy. I believe it was a member of the Government who pointed out the other day that the number of messages that have to be repeated over the Pacific cable is less than the number that require to be repeated over the Eastern Extension Company’s cable.
– The figures were 11 as against 36.
– That is to say, that whilst 1 in 11 require to be repeated on the Eastern Extension Company’s line, it is necessary to repeat only 1 in 36 over the Pacific cable.
– The honorable senator should not forget that the Eastern Extension Company have more repeating stations.
– I admit that that is so. If press messages do not find their way over the Pacific cable, the only reason is that given by Mr. Thynne, and an inquiry is justified in order that his statement should be investigated.
– Of course the effect is to increase the amount of our guarantee. It means a loss to the Commonwealth.
– Of course the loss of business must be made up by a call upon the taxpayers,.
– And on the whole of the States, and not, as originally, on only three of the States.
– This matter was also mentioned at the first Imperial Press Conference held this year. I have here a report of the proceedings at the Conference, entitled “ A Parliament of the Press.” At page 149 1 find that Mr. Temperley, who represented the Provincial Press Association of New South Wales, is reported to have said -
I am here to-day representing Australia, and as an Australian who has put his foot on old England’s soil for the first time in his life. I attend also as the accredited representative of the Australian Provincial Press Association….. Now there is very little time at my disposal, and I do not propose entering into details as to the question of combines - the cable combine - and in addition the Metropolitan Press Combine of Australia.
Mr . Temperley was afterwards congratulated by a member of the combine on the fact that he had refrained from entering into controversial matters at the Conference. There is a representative pressman recognising the necessity and importance of the question, although he was not prepared to force it upon the attention of the Imperial Press Conference. The Minister of Trade and Customs said here tonight that telegrams and. cables do not come within the trade and commerce provisions of the Constitution. I am astonished that a lawyer of his standing should make such a statement. They have been the subject of numberless judgments in America, and a cable or a letter is as much a matter of commerce as is a coach or a cargo of goods.
– That is to say, the carriage of it?
– No; the article or message itself has been held to be a matter of trade or commerce.
– We have specific power given to the Commonwealth with regard to telegraphs and telephones under our Constitution, which the United States Federal authorities have not, because they were not anticipated when the American Constitution was framed. ‘There was no necessity to include these matters specifically under section 51 of our Constitution.
– The argument of the Minister of Trade and Customs was that, even if the Press Association were a combine, it is beyond our Constitutional power to deal with it, because cables are not subjects of trade and commerce!
– They do not come under our trade and commerce section.
– The honorable senator is aware that, whilst we have a monopoly of telegrams, the Eastern Extension Company, which is a private concern, has stations in Australia. So far as they are concerned, we are in the same position as is the United States.
– We should not exercise our trade and. commerce powers to deaf with the matter, but our powers with re spect to telegraphs and telephones.
– I quote the following from Snyder’s Annotated Inter-State Commerce Act and Federal Anti-Trust Laws, page 321. Referring to the case of the Pensacola Telegraph Company v. Western Union Telegraph Company, the writer says - “The electric telegraph,” says Chief Justice Waite, in the case cited, “ marks an epoch in the progress of time. In a little more than a quarter of a centuTy it has changed the habits of business and become one of the necessities, of commerce. It is indispensable as a means of intercommunication, but especially is it so in commercial transactions. “ Since the case of Gibbons v. Ogden (9 Wheat 1) it has never been doubted that commercial intercourse is an element of commerce which comes within the regulating power of Congress. Post Offices and post roads are established to facilitate the transmission of intelligence.”
At page 323, I find the following : -
Upon the pleading and evidence the Circuit Court dismissed the Bill, holding that defendant having complied with the Act of Congress, which authorized it to build its line in the Territory claimed by plaintiff, the Florida Statute giving to plaintiff an exclusive grant over the territory was void, as in conflict with the Federal Statute, the subject-matter of which related to Inter-State Commerce…..
A telegraph company occupies the same relation to commerce as a carrier of messages that a railroad company does as a carrier of goods.
– What hasthat to do with the matter?
– It has this to dowith it : The honorable senator only a few minutes ago denied that a telegram or a cablegram was an article of commerce.
– And I do so still. What ihe honorable senator has read has nothing to do with the matter.
– It says-
Both companies are instruments of commerce and their business is commerce itself. They do their transportation in different ways, and their liabilities are in some respects different, but they are both indispensable to those engaged to any considerable extent in commercial pursuits.
J udging by some of the appeals made from the other side of the chamber, honorable senators have quite forgotten the old adage that, if you intend to drain aswamp you should not consult the frogs, because some of them seem to have been industriously consulting none but the frogs. They have been producing the frogs’ argument that the swamp should not be drained be- cause it is theirs, and no one else has an interest in it. As a matter of fact, mychief contention right through has been that the newspaper business is a public service, and that it is recognised in that light by the action of the State Governments in granting free railway carriage in some cases,’ in charging reduced rates in others, in charging the servants of the press company reduced fares over! their Jin’es, and in treating them as a semi-public institution. It is also so recognised by the Commonwealth in charging special rates for press telegrams, special rates over the Pacific Cable, and special rates for carrying newspapers, and generally in treating this business differently from any other business that employs its services. This recognition r.f the newspaper business as a public service justifies us in taking cognisance of its doings, and. holding an inquiry as to the effect of what has been done. I propose to quote one other case of the operation of the combine, which has been supplied to me by a gentleman for whom I can vouch. In 1904 a newspaper was proposed to be started in Hobart, Tasmania. The capital was obtained, an application was made to the Association for the cables, and a promise was made that the cable service would be available. After the project was on its feet, a vote was taken of the members of the Cable Association in Tasmania, the promise was upset by the vote, and accordingly the project had to be dropped.
– There are two daily newspapers now, though.
– Yes ; but no thanks to the other newspapers.
– Not only had the necessary capital been promised and subscribed, but sufficient advertisements had been obtained to keep the newspaper going ; and it was solely because of the action of the local representative of the Press Association in refusing the cable service, that the capital had to be returned, advertisements refused, and contracts voided.
– But there are two daily newspapers there now.
– Because they won in the face of that opposition, apparently, everything is lovely.
– It shows that the opposition did not take effect.
– I want to refer to a statement made in the document which Senator Best read in reference to the letter written to me by Mr. Mahon. I have had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Mahon, and desire to tell the Minister that he is prepared to go before a Select Committee, if appointed, and make his statements on oath. We challenge those who wrote the article to do the same. That is a public challenge.
– Hear, hear f That is all right.
– Will the Minister give us an opportunity of putting these respective gentlemen on oath ?
– No fear.
– Let us see whether the honorable senator is prepared to give these gentlemen an opportunity of making their contradictionall oath, because Mr. Mahon is prepared to make his statements on oath, and take all the consequences.
– I should say that there would be no difficulty in compelling witnesses to give the facts.
– This evening, Senator Chataway made a statement which implied that Mr. Mahon had been guilty of stealing certain cables. I, on behalf of Mr. Mahon, invite the honorable senator to make that statement outside where he will not be protected by the privileges of Parliament, and Mr. Mahon will give him an opportunity of proving his charge. Let me state the facts in regard to Mr. Marion’s case. Prior to the arrangement for the payment of £150 per annum, he had arf agreement with the proprietors of the Wast Australian, by which he supplied them with news from the gold-fields, and in return a representative of Mr. Mahon in the officeof the West Australian supplied his newspaper with a selection of the Inter-State telegrams and cables. So that the arrangement which they say that Mr. Mahon did not carry out was actually in operation before they laid down the terms.
– But that was no arrangement with the Cable Association.
– No; it was an arrangement with the West Australian. I point that out - and I defy the Minister to refute my statement - as indicating that in Perth Mr. Mahon had a representative in the office of the chief representative of the Press Association, the West Australian, who could have made a selection, and who, up to that time, was making a selection of the cables. Therefore, the statement that a selection could at any time have beent made is refuted by the fact that they stopped what was being done, and entered into a new arrangement.
– Do I understand that the honorable senator is challenging the statement that Mr. Mahon published these cables without the authority of, and payment to, the Association?
– I state that Mr. Mahon had an arrangement with the West Australian, whose proprietors were getting news through the Press Association ; and it was that he should supply them with gold-field news, and that they should supply him, through a representative in their office, with a resume of the Inter- State telegrams and cables.
– That is another thing altogether.
– What the honorable senator proves is that they sold what they had no right to sell, for valuable consideration to themselves.
SenatorPEARCE. - I do not know whether they had a right to do so or iot. Now that Senator Chataway has returned to the chamber, I desire to inform him that if he believes that Mr. Mahon was guilty of stealing cables, and will make the statement where he will not be under the protection of privilege, Mr. Mahon will give him an opportunity of proving it. If he is not prepared to take that course, he should not make such an accusation against a member of Parliament under the cover of Parliamentary privilege.
– Let the honorable senator reply to the Minister’s statement, and the correspondence.
– I did before the honorable senator entered the chamber. I also told the Minister that Mr. Mahon is prepared to repeat his statements on oath before a Select Commi.ttee, if appointed, and the former’s clients would have an apportunity of doing exactly the same thing.
– I hope that the Select Committee, if appointed, will ascertain the facts.
– Will the Minister give us an opportunity to ascertain the facts I venture to say that he has done, and will continue to do, all he can to defeat the motion. The “Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that any Select Committee of the Senate would be unfit to hold an inquiry into this matter. That is equivalent to saying that a Select Committee should never be appointed. What was one of the charges made against me? It was that I had not made out a prima facie case. In order to make out such a case, a man has to produce certain facts ; but, as soon as he does, SenatorMil len rises and says, “ You have made out a prima facie case, but, by doing so, you have rendered yourself ineligible to conduct an inquiry.” On the one hand, he says that if I do not bring forward facts, I ought not to have an inquiry, because I have not made out a case. On the other hand, when I have made out a case, he says that I have disqualified myself from taking part in the inquiry.
– I am looking at the opinions which the honorable senator has expressed.
– Up to the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, as stated byMr. Mahon in his letter to me, the combine had made no claim for payment. The arrangement between Mr. Mahon and the West Australian was in existence, and that was the first which he had ever heard of a claim for payment.
– Yes ; but the statement made to me is that the Press Association was not aware until the 25th May that Mr. Mahon was publishing this news.
– Surely the West Australian must have been aware of the fact, since it was the representative of the Association in ‘Western Australia? I think that enough has been said to show that it is in ‘the public interest that an inquiry should be held. I think that Senator Dobson raised a very important point when he said that, in the interests of the Empire, we should know as much as possible of what is transpiring in Great Britain, and vice versa; and that the cable service should be, not only complete, but as accurate as possible. Have we not been told by every Australian who has visited the Old Country that he was astonished at theignorance of Australia there. What did the Chamber of Commerce delegates say the other day ? These are intelligent men, who read their newspapers closely, and study affairs, and yet they told us that they were astonished with Australia.
– That is the fault of the messages sent Home, not the fault Of the messages sent out here.
– My idea is that at each end there should be a better and more complete service ; and that is the opinion of all thinking men, Australians and others. To-night Senator Trenwith, filling his new role, evidently forgot his own experience. At one time, he entered the lists in the very direction in which he suggests somebody should act again. He said then, “It is time that this monopoly was broken up.” He was actually chairman of a company formed for the purpose of entering the lists against this formidable opponent, which he now says is so easily competed against. He induced a large number of persons to put their capital into a newspaper here. They made a start, but when they came to get up against the combine, they went down, as others have done, for the very reason which he himself so graphically put-
If it has happened that such a large number of newspapers have entered into a combine as to have power to secure news for general distribution, at a price at which no single individual could hope to compete with them -
His newspaper found that it could not hope to compete with the other newspapers, and it died a miserable death. Senator Trenwith has not only forgotten his own speeches, but his own bitter experiences?
– Was he on the Argus ticket in those days?
– Times have changed. The Honorable senator is on the Argus ticket for the next election, and knows that things are all right. He may have genuinely changed his opinions, but at ‘ any rate his arguments to-night do not reveal why he has changed them. I am also very much interested to know how Senator St. Ledger will vote on this question. When the Bill for the Nationalization of Monopolies was discussed, he, although one of the opponents of the measure, said he was convinced that there ought to be an inquiry into the Press Combine. He was very emphatic on the point. Has the party whip been cracked over him ? At any rate I trust that in the interests of the public the Senate will allow an inquiry to be held, so that we may get at the truth.
Amendment agreed to.
– Has any senator a right to demand a ballot?
– Yes. Does- the honorable member demand a ballot?
– I do.
– Then I shall put the paragraphs separately.
Question - That paragraph 1, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in. the affirmative.
– If it would be more convenient to the Senate to take the ballotto-morrow the Government will afford an opportunity to do so. But the debate on the President’s ruling would, I assume, have to be taken as the first business.
– The motion of dissent from my ruling affects the conduct of business, and will have to be disposed of at the commencement of the proceedings to-morrow.
– I may simplify matters by saying that I understand that the debate on the President’s ruling tomorrow will terminate in time for the ballot to-be held before the sitting terminates. If not, I am quite content that the ballot shall be made the first business after the matter of the ruling, so that no other business shall interpose.
– Shall I move that the ballot be postponed?
– If it be the desire of the Senate that the ballot shall be taken to-morrow, the question will be placed on the notice-paper.
Senate adjourned at ii.io p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091021_senate_3_52/>.