3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, in view of a statement which appeared in to-day’s press, he will lay upon the table of the Senate or the Library the correspondence between his Department and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in reference to the importation of molasses from Fiji?
– I shall be very happy to lay the papers upon the table of the Library for the honorable senator’s inspection.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs now prepared to tell the Senate when it is likely he will be in a position to present the promised report on the work done by the trawler Endeavour?
– I hope to be able to lay the report upon the table on Friday next.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral when he expects to be able to furnish an answer to the question asked by me months ago in regard to Departmental postage and its distribution?
– I have a general recollection of the nature of the question, but latterly it has escaped my notice. I shall be in a position tomorrow to give an answer to the honorable senator.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST laid upon the table the following paper : -
Papua. - Appeal Ordinance of 1909 (No. 8).
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Select Committee on Press Cable Service do bring up a report by 24th November, 1909.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 28th October, vide page 5104) :
Clause 2 -
There shall be a Bureau of Agriculture, to be called the Australian Bureau of Agriculture.
– I think that the clause ought to be either re-drafted, or struck out, as art intimation that the Committee think that it should be re-drafted. What is meant by saying that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture, and that it shall be called the Australian Bureau of Agriculture? What is the bureau to be? Is it to consist of one officer, or a number of officers? And if it is to consist of more than one officer, are they to be appointed by the Government, or elected by Agricultural Societies? The Government have not faced one of these important questions. In some States, the Agricultural Bureau consists of officials, but in other States it is controlled by a Board, whose members are elected by the Agricultural Society, the Horticultural Society, and the Pastoralists’ Society. The Government have given us no information as to what they propose to do, or how this bureau is to be constituted.
– Is the honorable senator disappointed?
– In the debate on the second reading, the Government received a very clear intimation from a number of honorable senators that they were not satisfied with the Bill. I wish to see in the Bill something more than a mere blank resolution. I had anticipated that the Government, having heard the criticism which was indulged in by honorable senators upon the motion for the second reading of the measure, would have indicated upon this clause what are their intentions. Do they really intend to proceed with the Bill ? We know perfectly well that the other Chamber has a full business-paper before it, and one which will fully occupy its time until the prorogation of Parliament. If the Go- vernment do not intend to persevere with the Bill, all that we may do here will represent only so much waste of time, because a general election will intervene, and the lapsed bills continuance arrangement will not be applicable to it. This clause lias been very loosely drafted.
– It follows the excellent draftsmanship of the Constitution itself.
– The Constitution declares that there shall be a Parliament, and provides the mode in which it shall be elected; whereas this Bill merely says that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture, and does not provide how it shall be constituted.
– The honorable senator must not think that the Constitution provides for nothing save the creation of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– But the Commonwealth Parliament is the machine which is specially created by the Constitution. This Bill purports to create a machine, but, in reality, does nothing of the sort. What is the Bureau of Agriculture intended to be? It is to be an institution which will undertake certain investigations. But its constitution is to be left to the sweet will of Ministers.
– It will be subject to an appropriation by Parliament.
– That circumstance gives us no control over the constitution of the bureau. I am sure that Senator Keating felt ashamed of the Bill, and realized that it was necessary to urge some excuse on its behalf. He is the only honorable senator who put forward an apology for it.
– His speech induced me to vote for its second reading.
– Then I am sorry for the honorable senator. Had he analyzed the chief part of Senator Keating’s speech, he must have seen how unintentionally misleading it was. Senator Keating declared that the Bill followed the draftsmanship of the Census and Statistics Act and the Meteorology Act. But, as a matter of fact, it follows the draftsmanship of neither, because in both of those Acts the officers who are to discharge certain functions are named, and their powers are expressly defined. Thus, when Parliament proposed those measures, it knew exactly to what it was committing itself.
– The honorable senator cannot escape the position which I put, except by a quibble.
– Section 4 of the Census and Statistics Act provides that the Governor-General may appoint a Commonwealth Statistician, who shall possess certain powers. But this Bill does not provide that the Governor-General shall appoint any person to take charge of the Bureau of Agriculture. The Meteorology Act affirms that the Governor-General may establish observatories - observatories being necessary for carrying out meteorological observations. .But there- is nothing i i this Bill which says that the GovernorGeneral may establish experimental stations. Further, the Meteorology Act provides ,that a Commonwealth Meteorologist shall be appointed, whereas the Bill under consideration does not affirm that the Governor-General shall appoint a Director of the Agricultural Bureau. In the Acts to which reference has been made Parliament was given a clear intimation of what it was committing itself to, but in this Bill there is no such intimation. Can anybody tell me what the Bureau of Agriculture is to be?
– It will be something to give effect to the objects which are set out in clause 3.
– But what will that something be ? Will it be an individual ?
– It will be what ever is necessary to give effect to the objects declared in clause 3.
– Do not the Government know what is necessary? Is that the explanation of the Government Whip?
– When an appropriation is sought the honorable senator will learn exactly what the Government propose.
– If the Government intend that a Director of the Bureau of Agriculture shall be appointed, why do they not say so? If they_ desire to appoint a Board, why do they not openly declare their intention ? Then, if a Board is to be appointed, I should like to know whether it is to be elected by the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies, or whether it is to be nominated by the Government ? Is this Bill intended to create a number of Government billets?
– Would not Government billets be created just as much if we declared in .this clause that a Director of Agriculture should be appointed ?
– Undoubtedly. But do the Government propose to create one billet or many? Is everybody to live in the hope that he will have a look in? Is a political Board to be appointed, or is that body to consist of persons who possess some technical and scientific knowledge .of agricultural matters’?
– Is it usual to embody that sort of information in a Bill ?
– Yes. Both the Acts which were quoted by Senator Keating set out tlie class of persons who were to be appointed.
– The honorable senator is not easily pleased.
– This Bill does not attempt to please anybody, and the ‘Committee will be perfectly justified in rejecting the clause, as an intimation to the Government that’ they desire to know what are their intentions. I propose to divide the Committee upon this very indefinite provision.
– It appears to me that Senator Pearce is developing an extraordinary amount of inquisitiveness. I do not understand why it should be necessary in this Bill to tell honorable senators everything connected with the proposed bureau - to inform them where it is to be located, who is to be the head of it, and what wage the office boy is to receive. Why does not Senator Pearce openly declare that he intends by hook or by crook to damage the Bill ? The clause is a perfectly simple one. It affirms that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture. Had it been elaborated, the honorable senator would have found quite as much fault with it, and he would then have had more scope for his objections. I do not understand why he should trouble to divide the Committee upon so small a point.
– I do not know that I should have taken much exception to the criticism of Senator Pearce had he merely pointed out that the provisions of the Bill were notas ample as he thinks they should be. But when he has to fall back upon the two Acts to which he has alluded, I can only express the opinion that his logical faculty has gone somewhat astray. Let us compare word by word the two Acts to which reference has been made with the .Bill before the Committee. The Bill say.s that, “there shall be “ .a Bureau of Agriculture.. The Census and Statistic Act was, however a permissive measure, not one giving art emphatic direction, but merely providing, that ‘” the Governor-General may” appoint, a Commonwealth Statistician. Nothing at: all was said as to whether there were to be one or many subordinates. The one measure was permissive ; the other is obligatory. The Bill .before us would, if it: passed, give a .clear direction to the Government to (proceed to give effect to the will of Parliament as set out in the clause under discussion. Turning to the Act under which the Meteorological Department wasestablished, we find that it .again provided, that “ the Governor-General may “ - not shall - “ establish observatories.” Nothingwas said .as to whether there were to be one or 500 observatories. The matter was left entirely to the Minister in charge, subject to Parliamentary control through the Estimates.
– The present Bill .dossnot go even so far.
– We do not .leave the matter optional in this Bill. It is not .said’ that there “ may .be” a Bureau of Agriculture, but that there “ shall be.” Iri* the one case we have the Governor-General1 given permission to establish observatories;, in the other we have the Governor-General directed to establish a Bureau of Agriculture. I should like to ‘ask which measureis the more mandatory - the one which’ provided that “there may be” observatories,, or the other, which says that “ there shall be” an Agricultural Bureau?
– We all know what am. observatory is; but what is a bureau?
– If my honorable friend prefers the word “ department,” I have no objection.
– But what does the Government mean bv the word “bureau?”’
– If my honorable friend does not know the meaning of thissimple word, I do not consider it to be .my duty to occupy the time of the Committeeby enlightening him. The meaning of the word is so obvious, and its use is so common, that I feel sure that my honorablefriend does know what is intended.
– I know what I meanby the word “bureau,” but what does the Government mean by it?
– My honorable friend’ admits that he knows the meaning of the word1. What is contemplated- is the creation of a special department, which is to be called a “ bureau “ largely because that term’ has been, adopted1 elsewhere, and also in contradistinction to the word “ department,” because the bureau would bt; a branch of one of our departments.
– Surely the Minister can explain the term when an honorable senator asks for information.
– I do not think that the question was put for the purpose of eliciting information, noi do I anticipate that any information which I am in a position to supply will at all satisfy those honorable senators who are determinedly opposed to this Bill. I will proceed with the comparison of this measure with the phraseology used in the two Acts of Parliament which Senator Pearce argues differs so widely from the phraseology here employed. I say again that the wording of this Bill is much stronger, much clearer, and much more emphatic in its terms. The Act under which the Meteorological Bureau was established directed that the “GovernorGeneral may” - “may” again - appoint an officer called the Commonwealth Meteorologist and such other officers as may be necessary for the purposes of this Act.
That provision is more than covered by the clause of this Bill which gives a clear direction to the Government that it “ shall “ establish a department of Agriculture. As to what that is to be - whether it is to be a large or a small department - is a matter entirely within the discretion of Parliament itself when the appropriation comes, to be dealt with.
– Have not the Government a policy in regard to the question?
– - It is. also a matter which must depend upon future developments.
– Of course, the Government have a policy.
– Why is not the policy laid down in the Bill?
– Was” any policy laid down in the two Acts to which reference has been made, as to whether there should be one or fifty officers? A mere general direction was given to the Minister to take steps to do certain things, subject to the control which Parliament exercises in granting appropriations. I do not know whether honorable senators are aware of the fact that in very few of the States have the chief officers of the Departments of Agriculture been established under the specific direction of .Acts of Parliament. There are very few Acts of that kind; in fact, I have- not been able to discover that there has been any appointment of a. Secretary for Agriculture under the specific provision- of an Act of Parliament.. These appointments have followed from the authority given- by Acts of Parliament in creating departments. The Acts enabled the necessary officers to be, appointed subject to the review of Parliament when dealing with, the Estimates. It is rather late in the day, seeing that our various State Governments and our own Federal Parliament have proceeded in this manner, to ask us to specify in the Bill itself every officer or employ^ whom it is proposed to attach to the contemplated department or bureau. Honorable senators must see perfectly well that, if this Bill becomes law, the Government can only do one thing, and that is take steps to give effect to the mandate of Parliament in. establishing a department to be called a Bureau of Agriculture. As to whether that department is to be large or small must depend to a considerable extent upon circumstances. I have not the slightest doubt that, as time goes, on, the tendency will be- for the bureau to find additional work to do, calling, of course, for additional appointments. The first intention of the Government is, however, to appoint highly competent scientific men, who will proceed to inquire and experiment with regard principally to pests and diseases, which at the present time are giving considerable trouble to many of our producers. There is ample power for such appointments to be made, and for the creation of the department itself. It will be for Parliament to determine whether the department shall be developed. I have no objection whatever to efforts which may be made to improve this measure, but it is evident that it is the intention of some honorable senators to wreck it.. The desire is to treat the Bill in such a way as to endeavour to reverse the vote which was given on the motion for the- second reading. I am quite willing to receive - and to receive in the most cordial way any suggestion to make the. purpose of the Bill clearer; but honorable senators opposite .cannot expect me to accept amendments which are obviously designed with the purpose of wrecking the measure.
– It is quite evident that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is labouring under very great difficulties. It has been obvious ever since the Bill was introduced that no clearly defined policy was laid down by the Government ; and, since we have been proceeding with it, no information has been supplied to us which would indicate what they really mean to do.
– I have just told the Committee what we propose to do.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - I do not wish to be offensive, but I must say that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are just as wise now as we were before.
– That I can readily believe.
– The questions asked by Senator Pearce were - What do the Government propose to do in the matter of defining the functions ofT he bureau which is to be established? How is it going to carry out its duties ? What officers are to be appointed ? We are told that information connected with agriculture is to be diffused among the producers. The Bill provides that the bureau shall also collect and distribute new and valuable seeds and plants, and that it shall carry out experiments and investigations. Where are those experiments and investigations to be carried out? Do the Government intend to acquire land, or do they mean to take over the experimental farms of the States?
– Certainly not.
– Then do the Government intend to acquire farms of their own for the purpose?
– Not at this stage.
– How, then, will the experts experiment?
– Did the honorable senator never hear of an experiment in a laboratory ?
– Yes ; and I have also heard of Collins-street farmers. Evidently, experiments such as Collinsstreet farmers talk about are to be carried on under this measure. Paragraph (f) of the clause refers to the publication of reports of experimental farms. Where is the necessity for the Commonwealth Government to publish reports already published by the State Governments?
– What about the publication of Senator McColl’s report on Dry
Farming ? That is thought a lot of in some of the States.
-I do not know how Senator McColl’s report is regarded but I think it is quite unnecessary for the Federal Government to re-publish the reports of Departments under the control of the State Governments.
– Are there no reportsof experimental farms worth publishing, except those of farms conducted in Australia ?
– I did not know that it was proposed to send our officers abroad-
– I do not suggest that. The honorable senator was speaking of the publication of reports of experimental farms.
– My attention has been directed to paragraph c, referring to the carrying out of experiments in agriculture. How are such experiments and investigations to be carried out unless we have farms on which to carry them out ?
– How are they carried out in America and other places?
– I do not know, nor does Senator Gray.
– I think I do.
– Then I hope that the honorable senator will enlighten the Committee, because up to the present we are without the information. We are but beating the air and taking up the time of the Committee for no purpose in considering a bald proposal of this kind without sufficient information.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.3]. - In the speech made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in moving the second reading of the Bill, and during the debate on that motion, it was made clear, and it was assented to by the acting Leader of the Opposition, Senator Pearce, that this Bill is in no respect a party measure. We may, therefore, fairly and freely criticise it, and suggest according to our judgment such amendmentsas we may think necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth. Speaking for myself, I did not take part in the debate on the second reading, because clause 2 contains the kernel of the measure, and its consideration might be very , much better dealt with in Committee. If it is thought necessary to expand the clause or introduce limitations or a basis of some kind for the proposed bureau, that may be done by way. of amendment. I must say that I do not think that Senator Pearce’s criticisms of the clause are to be met in the off-hand fashion adopted by Senator Pulsford. 1 think that honorable senator was mistaken in minimizing the importance of considering this measure, because, whatever else it means, it certainly involves the creation of a new Department.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Bill has already received a very great deal of consideration.
– I do not forget at all ; but the time spent in that consideration has been ill-spent if it has led Senator Pulsford to consider the measure a mere trifle.
– I do not think that it is a trifle at all, but I did not think that it was necessary to repeat the secondreading debate.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to treat all criticisms of a clause such as this, proposing the creation of a new department, as of no consequence?
– No; but I accepted the passing of the second reading of the Bill as establishing the opinion of the Senate that there should be a Bureau of Agriculture.
– No doubt the honorable senator takes that view, and voted for the second reading, but other honorable senators are entitled to discuss the matter on this express clause to carry the proposal into effect. I say that there is more force than, perhaps, at first sight appears in the criticisms which Senator Pearce directed against the clause now under consideration. First of all, as to the mere drafting objection, it is obvious that the Bill might have been very much better drafted, but it is unnecessary to enter into that very minutely. I agree with Senator Pearce that, as a matter of drafting, the words “ to be called the Australian Bureau of Agriculture” might just as well be left out. I think that probably the Vice-President of the Executive Council will also agree with that. There is no necessity for this duplication of terms. If we say “ there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture,” there is an end to it. We should be well advised in eliminating the superfluous definition. If this Bureau of Agriculture is established by the Commonwealth Parliament, it will be a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture ; and it will lend it no additional virtue or effect to preface the word “ Bureau “ with the word “ Aus tralian.”
– Has the honorable senator any objection to the word “ Australian “?
– Senator St. Ledger does not know me if he thinks that I have any objection to the word. “ It is because I attach very great importance to the word “Australian” that I do not see any necessity for constantly using the word ‘ ‘ Australian “ to describe things that are Australian. In creating this department, or whatever the term ‘ ‘ bureau ‘ ‘ means, it does seem to me that we should define its constitution. It is not necessary that we should fill in all the details, down to the office boy’s salary, as suggested by Senator Pulsford, but I think we. should outline the constitution of the proposed bureau in some way or other. I think there is some slight difference between the method proposed for the creation of a Bureau of Agriculture under this Bill, and the method adopted for the appointment of a Government Statistician in another measure referred to by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. The difference between the two is not the difference between “ may “ and “ shall “ either, and I did not understand Senator Pearce to base his criticism on such a difference. The use of the word “may” does not make the appointment at once; but it confers upon the Federal authority the power to do so. The use of the word “shall,” if there is indefiniteness about the Bureau of Agriculture, makes it more mischievous, because it is creating an entirely indefinite body. Like an insubstantial pageant, it is something which has no body to bekicked nor soul to be saved.
– That is a perversion of the quotation.
– I thought that it was justified. So long as my illustration is clearly understood, and assists the argument, I am content. On the other hand, the establishment of an observatory is, as Senator Pearce very properly said, a distinct thing. It is like establishing an engineering shop, if I may bring down scientific things to a lower level. But a Bureau of Agriculture is a new, or branch Department. If the Bill is passed, no living soul will know what the Bureau is to be. I do not intend to oppose the Bill on that ground solely, because I dare say that the Government will define the Bureau in some way, and say that there shall be a Minister or Secretary of Agriculture, with such officers as may be appointed by the Executive. But when you say merely that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture, you are dealing with something which rests largely in theory, and is not assisted in any way by definition.
– But it would become concrete when an appropriation was proposed for the bureau.
– No; and that is just the point. One of my objections to the Bill is that it is declaring something which we cannot define. It does not tell us anything as to what the cost is to be. We are not creating anything in the concrete, and, although we may subsequently make an appropriation, that will not define the constitution of the bureau in any way. When an appropriation is submitted for our consideration is not the time for us to say whether we shall have a Secretary of Agriculture. Unless we do something of that kind now, we are simply using a phrase, and establishing by the Bill something which is to be answered by the phrase. If it is intended to establish a new Department, it would be very much better to do as we did in the case of the Statistical Department. We ought to enact that the Governor- General may appoint a Secretary of Agriculture, and then define the scope of his duties. Of course, it would follow from that appointment that he would have such staff as was necessary for the purpose of performing his duties. I think that there is a great deal in the objection which Senator Pearce takes to the clause. If the bureau is to be merely a sub-department or an office for scientific investigations, I do not see why the Bill is wanted. The very fact that, as the Minister stated, in the States there are no Statutes appointing the Bureaux of Agriculture, shows that it is really a part of the ordinary administration to provide, if desired, an office where work of this character can be done. If that is within our powers under the Constitution, as I take it to be, I cannot see any necessity for passing the Bill.
– How can we carry out the intention of clause 4, unless we deal with clause 2, appointing the Bureau of Agriculture?
– We can do all that without clause 4. That is merely a provision to the effect that the Commonwealth may make an arrangement with the Government of any State for the carrying out of experiments and investigations. We can now, I suppose, send to a State a letter stating that we should like an investigation to take place, and asking them to give us the benefit of their scientific researches into bitter pit in apples or the potato blight. Reference has been made to that most excellent report by Senator McColl on Dry Farming in the United States. No Act of Parliament was needed to secure that invaluable boon.. It has been published and distributed, and will, I think, be of very great service. I have distributed some copies of it in South Australia. There was no need for an Act of Parliament in order to clothe Senator McColl with the necessary authority to investigate that subject when he was taking a trip. I approach the consideration of the Bill in no party spirit. It is one of those measures which I hope we can discuss without party feeling. We have to consider first whether it is necessary that a Bill should be passed, secondly whether a Bureau is necessary, and thirdly whether we are justified at this time of day in providing for what I have always set my face against - the multiplication of offices and Departments, and, of course, the multiplication of expense - unless there is an absolute immediate good to be derived therefrom. At the same time, we ought not to overlook the points which have been very fairly put in respect of this clause. I do not think that the Bill, if it is necessary in creating a Department of this kind, should bemore than in a certain sense a skeleton, but it ought to be an effective outline which can be filled in with the essentials of efficiency. I suggest to Ministers whether they might not reconsider the necessity of proceeding by Bill. To my mind, this Bill is no more than a prolonged resolution. Aresolution of Parliament, such as was passed in the other House, I believe, would be just as effective for the purpose pf enabling the Government to bring down an appropriation, because that is all it comes to. We are all agreed that the appropriation is the thing which will give life to the Bureau, if anything does.
– That is what we on this side said on the motion for the second reading.
– Then I am right in thinking that the Bill creates nothing. To a certain extent we are discussing an abstract question. It does not seem to me like serious legislation, when, for instance, in the next clause, we are asked to enact that theBureau may be charged with certain functions. If we create a new Department, we ought to impose upon it certain functions, and its work ought not to be left to the future, or, for instance, to the direction of the Minister. We may pass the Bill and yet nothing may be done thereunder. I also take exception to the provision for the issue of directions from the Minister. The functions of the Bureau ought to be clearly defined in the Act or in the regulations, which, of course, should be subject to the approval of Parliament. The moment you empower the Minister to direct what the Bureau shall or shall not do, you are certainly not doing that which is wise. The same objection would apply to clause 4, under which an arrangement may be made with the Government of any State in respect of certain matters. There is nothing definite as to what the Bureau is or is not to do. I do not like officers or Departments to be created unless they are absolutely essential. We undoubtedly have in the States the most efficient Boards or Departments of Agriculture.
– Every one of them is quarrelling.
– I do not agree with that statement. What does my honorable friend mean by the word “quarrelling”? Does he mean that the Bureau in one State differs from the Bureau in another State as to what is meant by “potato blight”? If that is what he means it is a proposition with which I agree. But how are we going to bring that into the Bill ?
– It affects producers very much, even if it is only a difference of opinionon their part.
-It does. I am entirely at one with those who would like to see any matter which affects different States in their exchange of products settled by a supreme competent authority, but we cannot get that under the proposed Bureau of Agriculture. If a Central Bureau of Agriculture were in existence tomorrow, and its scientific expert affirmed that potato blight was one thing, the Commonwealth would be powerless to enforce his decision upon any State which chose to say that potato blight was something else, and which prohibited the importation of potatoes affected with that something else from the other States.
– But the moral effect of a declaration by the Commonwealth scientific expert would be very great.
– I never lose sight of the moral effect of anything. But my experience of any moral effect in business transactions between States has not been such as to warrant me entertaining a great opinion of its efficacy. Honorable’ senators are doubtless familiar with the old story of the boy who was attending a school at which corporal punishment, in the shape of the cane - the tawse, as it is called in Scotland - was to be abolished, and moral suasion substituted. It so happened that, shortly afterwards, one of the school books was lost, and upon its recovery the following was found written inside the fly-leaf -
Moral persuasion isall a humbug,
Nothing persuades like a lick in the lug.
Subject to that commentary, I entirely agree with the statement of Senator Chataway. But I defy anybody to say that where the scientific expert of a State declared that the produce entering its ports from another State was affected with a particular disease, and ought, therefore, to be excluded, and the Commonwealth expert affirmed that it was not so affected, the States would accept the opinion of the latter. His decision could not be enforced upon the States.
– A tribunal to enforce it is already in existence - I refer to the High Court.
– If it can be shown that New South Wales is excluding Tasmanian or South Australian produce under some allegation of disease, and that such exclusion is an infringement of the provision of the Constitution relating to equality of trade, of course the High Court has power to intervene. But we shall not assist matters in any way by establishing the proposed Bureau of Agriculture. To my mind, the Government have acted most wisely in not pretending to arrogate to themselves power to impose the decision of the projected Agricultural Bureau upon theStates. I object to this clause upon the ground that it will create abody which is not merely unnecessary, but which will prove costly and ineffective.
– It will not prove costly if it be ineffective.
– It will prove more costly if it be ineffective.
– It will not be ineffective if it be costly. If we spend money upon it, it will be effective.
– I think that anything which is ineffective is costly, apart from the amount of money which may be expended upon it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out that the primary purpose of this Bill is scientific investigation. Senator Mulcahy interjected that it contemplates the establishment of a kind of academy. To that the Vice-President of the Executive Council very properly replied that it was not an academy, because it was not the establishment of a teaching institution which was contemplated, but rather a laboratory - that is to say, a scientific organization for the purpose of investigation. We must all recognise that scientific investigation is very necessary in connexion with agricultural affairs. Nobody could listen to the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of the measure, upon the subject of the high claims of agriculture and cognate pursuits in this country, without recognising that. Nobody- can doubt that the basis of all our prosperity is agriculture, and the kindred occupations of the people. But, to my mind, the answer to that argument is - and it confirms me in my objection to the clause - that large amounts are already being expended by the States in this connexion. South Australia annually expends ^85,000, and New South Wales ^143,000, in furthering agricultural pursuits. I do not know what amount is being expended by the other States, but I do know that no State has more reason to be proud of its investigation into agricultural matters, and of the assistance which it affords to agricultural industries, than has New South Wales. For years past I have rejoiced because I have had access to the New South Wales Agricultural Gazette, which publication should be a source of pride to any State, not merely because of its letterpress and it’s information, scientific and practical, but because of its illustrations. It is an admirable production, and is associated with another journal - the Farmers’ Bulletin - which is also a most excellent publication.
– What about the Queensland publications?
– I confess, with regret, that I am not so familiar with them. I have been informed, how ever, that Queensland has a magnificent Government agricultural establishment. Then all the States possess experimental farms-
– All of which argues . the benefit which would flow from the establishment of a central body to collate the information thus gained and to issue it in bulletin form as is- done in America.
– That is very nicely and effectively put. But we do not need to establish a Commonwealth Department to collate information which is al- ready being circulated wherever there is an opening for its circulation.
– There is not much Inter-State circulation of that information.
– The honorable senator has stated already that he has not seen the Queensland publications.
– We do not require to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture and to appoint a bevy of officers to provide me with Queensland agricultural publications. I know that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would be the last to argue that the proposed department ought to be created for the purpose of reproducing and binding the publications which are already being issued by the different States. We all know that a year or two ago the State Premiers declared themselves averse to the establishment of a Commonwealth bureau of agriculture.
– It had a financial significance to them then.
– Very likely. I forget whether the proposal which they condemned was brought forward at the Brisbane or the Hobart Conference. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already pointed out, it is not desired to superimpose a Federal Bureau of Agriculture upon the State Bureaux. But if we establish an institution of the kind and endeavour to make it efficient we may unintentionally overshadow the State departments, which are at present being carried on with great efficiency and success. I am not laying down any principle which will prevent me from supporting the establishment of a Commonwealth Agricultural Department at the right time. But the right time is not now. If we are to have such a department associated with experimental farms we should defer action, until we get into the Federal territory. We shall then be able to establish experimental farms of our own. It would be a great pity if we were to be in a hurry to establish merely a Commonwealth laboratory - that is all the proposed department would amount to - the cost of which at present we know nothing until we can associate with it, as I believe we can when we get into the Federal territory, experimental farms. Of course I recognise that the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave us a good deal of information as to what is being done in this connexion in the United States. But those States do not occupy quite an analogous position to the States of the Commonwealth. The latter have far wider self-governing powers than have the former. That circumstance ought never to be forgotten. Our States are clothed with sovereign powers to a far greater extent than are the States of America. Yet in the State of New York, quite irrespective of Federal effort, is to be found the finest agricultural scheme from the stand-point of the area and results of its investigations existing in any part of the world. There is no room there for Federal interference in any way. There the Department of Agriculture is known, I think, as the Forest, Fruit and Game Commission, and every year it publishes a magnificent volume relating to agriculture, which contains results of scientific research of the highest value. So far as I am aware the investigations undertaken by that State are quite on a par with anything that is done by the Federal authorities. I think that each of our own States possesses an Agricultural Department which is rendering great service, to the community. Some honorable senators who travelled through South Australia the other day saw for themselves the results of scientific agriculture in that State. They must have been impressed with the success of agriculture from Adelaide right up to the far north. It is only within recent years that we have had a Department which has helped us to discover what was best for our own wheat lands, by the application of fertilizers, which have made farmers who were formerly in poor circumstances prosperous men. I should like very much that there should be a possibility of investigating all that could be done to help the producers. But that object could be. effected without a Bill at all. A scientific officer could be attached to one of the Departments, with a staff and all the necessary equipment for conducting investigations. All that is desired is machinery for the .purpose. If, however, it is intended to provide a means of coercing one State which says that it will not take the potatoes or the apples of another State, then I am afraid that the Government will not be able to accomplish their object by means of this Bill. Therefore, although I do not base my objection on the grounds given by Senator Pearce, I shall, if the clause goes to a division, be found, for the reasons which I have stated, recording my vote against it.
– T hope that the honorable senator who has just spoken will not adopt the course which he has indicated ; because, before the debate terminates, I trust that Senator Pearce will see the error of his ways, and not call for a division upon the clause. The subject with which we are now dealing was debated at great length upon the second reading of the Bill, and the division which he now proposes to take in Committee will practically be a repetition of the division which took place then. I pointed out at that time that the Bill was framed, as far as circumstances permitted, upon parallel lines to the Bills which were introduced for the establishment of a Bureau of Statistics and a Bureau of Meteorology. Senator Pearce has argued that my parallel does not apply. But he has failed to prove so much. I still submit - and I think that I have to some extent the authority of my honorable and learned friend who has preceded me - that to all intents and purposes, as a skeleton measure designed for the creation of a bureau, the Bill is practically identical with the two Acts to which reference has been made. It was not my intention, nor did I attempt, to argue that the Bills introduced for the creation of a Bureau of Statistics and a Bureau of Meteorology were, in words, absolutely identical with this Bill. So far as my notes remind me, I said that, by a measure which was almost parallel .in form, we brought into existence our Department of Census and Statistics; by a measure similarly drafted, and by a procedure which it is proposed to follow in this instance, we established our Bureau of Meteorology. I did not pretend to say that- the terms used in either of the preceding measures were identical with those used by the present Government in this Bill. Senator de Largie, in support of Senator Pearce, has criticised the measure because of the absence of sufficient provisions in regard, for instance, to such matters as experimental plots. He asked, “ What land do we hold on which to experiment? What farms have we for carrying out such work as is now being done by the State Departments of Agriculture?” But this Bill makes provision for working in harmony with the existing State Agricultural Departments. That is the main principle of it-to take cognisance of and recognise the existence of such organizations, each one of which will continue to carry on its work within its own borders. But this particular work is work which no single State can possibly carry out.
– What is the work to which the honorable senator refers?
– There is no single State Department which has the opportunity - granted that it has the capacity - of doing the work which it is proposed that this Federal Department shall do. My honorable friend evidently thought that the Federal Department of Agriculture would be hampered by reason of the fact that we possess no land. Senator Symon to some extent supported that position by suggesting that the time had not yet come for the establishment of such a Department, but that it may come when we are established within our own Territory. Very pertinently, another honorable senator upon the Ministerial side of the chamber asked Senator de Largie, while he was speaking, “ What about the work being done in America?” . Surely my honorable friend and his party opposite do not ignore the work that is being done at Washington. Yet it must not be forgotten thatthe Department of Agriculture at Washington does not confine its operations to the district of Columbia. It collates all the information it can collect from the agricultural colleges throughout the United States - which are very numerous.
– Surely the State Governments can do that?
– The same might be said of the State Departments in the United States. But the Federal Department there is the supreme authority - supreme, not in power, but in advisory influence. I refer Senator de Largie to Mr. Foster Eraser’s book, America at Work, which was published in 1905. He says, at page 100 -
It took a lot of talk a few years back toget the British Department of Agriculture established. Indeed, Great Britain had no Minister of Agriculture until it had ceased to need one. England had then ended her career as an agricultural country.
Further on the author wrote -
The Department at Washington costs the citizens of the United States £100,000 a year.
Let it be remembered that this Department at Washington acts in co-operation with the State Departments, just as will the bureau which we are about to create.
But mostof the individual States also have agricultural colleges, each of which getsa grant of £5,000 from the Government, a nice sum which the law says must ‘be spent. The Government will not allow a State to hoard up money for fine buildings. If the State want fine buildings it can raise them with its own money. If the $25,000 are not all spent, the amount is deducted from the next year’s grant.
Later on, in the same book, Mr.. Foster Fraser says -
As to the value of the experimental stationsthere is no question.
He is speaking of the experimental stations in each of the States. The Washington Department collates the whole of the information, and subsequently distributes it.
For instance, in Minnesota Scotch Fife wheat has been so improved by hybridizing that where the average yield some years ago was16 bushels to theacre, the average yield now is 40 bushels to the acre.
The author goes on to make some statements which Senator Vardon quoted in his second-reading speech. Later on he points out what are the functions of this Department -
There is the Bureau of Animal Industry. A tremendous work is in this section. All animals exported or imported are examined ; all diseases are investigated ; a strict watch is kept on InterState live stock traffic.
The Bureau of Plant Industry was only a creation of a year or so ago. It has now 200 workers finding out about disease in cotton, fruit, and timber and breeding plants that are resistant to disease and better adapted for achanged condition of agriculture. We have had talk recently whether American or European clover seed is best. In1901, experiments were started at Washington, and in 1902 experiments were ‘being carried out in typical selected areas.
The Bureau of Soils finds out such things as how the alkali problem in the bleached west may be solved, and has solved it by a splendid system of under drainage.
I might quote from this book at considerable length, but I will content myself with one more passage -
At Washington I went into a room and saw the work of distributing agricultural information. It was something difficult to realize. Last year nearly 300,000 letters were received asking for information. Exactly 606 publications were issued, and 8,000,000 of these were distributed.
– What is the population of the United States ?
– What is our population ?
– We have above 4,000,000 people, but the American Department was established in 1862. It has been in existence nearly half a century. Are we never to begin ?
– We have started.
– We have, and all credit to the State Departments for the work which they have done. But is there any single body in Australia that is competent to organize the system and carry out the work that is provided for in clause 4 of this Bill which says that the Government may make arrangements in respect to -
The carrying out of experiments and investigations, the supply and distributionof information, the exchange and distribution of seeds and plants ; and any matters conducing to the development in Australia of the agricultural, pastoral, dairying, horticultural, and viticultural industries and forestry.
– That is sweeping enough.
– Exactly; and so it should be. There is no antagonism between this proposal and what is being done by any individual State. Our system is intended to harmonize with what is being done. It is desired that there shall be cordial cooperation between all the Departments with the object of securing the best results for the benefit of the whole of our people. My honorable friend must realize that there is no other object. The idea that this Bill has been brought forward for the purpose of establishing a Department to create billets, is one that I am sureno one seriously believes.
– The Bill is a placard.
– I do not think that my honorable friend seriously and honestly entertains that idea. The work that has been done by the States will be recognised, and instead of it going to waste, as it does to some extent at present, there will be one channel through which it. will flow to the whole of the producers of Australia. The work done will be not merely for the benefit of South Australia, Tasmania, or Western Australia, but for the benefit of the whole Commonwealth. It has never been suggested, so far as I know, during the debate, that the establishment of a Federal Department will obliterate the differences of opinion which have existed in some instances between the Departments of Agriculture in the different States. It is not suggested by the Minister, or by any supporter of this Bill, that in consequence of the establishment of the Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture there will necessarily be greater freedom of intercourse than there has been in the past. It will still be open to the different State Departments to take exception, as they have done in the past, to the importation of the productions of other States. But, as Senator Chataway interjected, when Senator Symon was speaking, the existence of a supreme body like this, and the expression of its opinion upon such questions, will have a very strong moral influence. Further than that it is not proposed to go, and, so far as I know, we have not the power to go further. We certainly have power to establish bureaux of an advisory character, which the experience of other countries goes to show would be productive of very great advantage to all engaged in the different occupations associated with the soil. In view of all thecircumstances, and the fact that we have adopted similar measures, so far as their form is concerned, for the bringing into existence in the Commonwealth of such excellent Departments as those to which I referred are now recognised to be,. I sincerely hope that honorable senators will see the wisdom of passing this clause, or at all events that they will not adopt any vital amendment upon it.
– - Iam opposed to this clause in its present form. I am sorry to have to oppose it, because, as I said on the second reading of the Bill, I favour the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. The proposal in this Bill is so vague that I suspect that the Government are not sincere in making it. If I could believe that they were sincere, I should be found supporting the clause. It has been said that what would be done By the proposed Federal Bureau is already being admirably done by the State Departments, and I am inclined to agree with that statement. But it must be remembered that what is done in one State in advance of what is done in another is before long known in all of the States. If the Queensland Agricultural Department makes a discovery in connexion with the growth of wheat or the testing of soils, sooner or later that is known to the Departments of the other States. There is but little delay in the dissemination of information of this kind, notwithstanding that there are six separate Departments of Agriculture in the Commonwealth. Although each of the State Departments is doing the best it can, I believe that there is room in the Commonwealth for a seventh Department of this kind. I believe that the Federal Bureau would take care to do something which would justify its existence, and if it did not, it would be the duty of this Parliament to abolish it. Each of the existing State Agricultural’ Departments is at present striving to get ahead of the others : those in charge of the South Australian Department are looking over the borders of the State to see what is being done in the other States, and are straining every nerve to show that their own Department is in advance of the others. In the same way, I believe that it we establish a Federal Department of Agriculture, it would be found doing something to minister to the needs of the primary producers, which would show that it was deserving of support. It went very much against the grain with me to vote against the second reading of the Bill, and if it is passed, and an endeavour is made to establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, I shall be found willing to vote whatever money may be required for the purpose. Speaking of the vagueness of this measure, I might direct attention to the way in which things are done in America. We are often- told that we might copy American legislation with advantage.
– Most of their Bills of this character carry the appropriation with them.
– In the measure to which I intend to direct the attention of. the Committee, the appropriation for the Department is not provided for, but there is provision made for salary of the principal officer. The Government recently, very properly I think, showed great industry in discovering what is done in America and in England to bring about the regulation of transport on a fair basis. We have the result of their investigations in the InterState Commission Bill, which is now under the consideration of the Senate. I think it is a pity that they did not imitate the example set in the United States as far back as 1862, in proposing the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. In that year, when President Lincoln was the Executive Head of the United States, Congress passed a measure proposing the establishment of a Department of Agriculture, but the second section of that measure differs very much in its construction from the clause now under consideration by the
Committee, because it provided specifically for .what was proposed to be done. In this clause it is proposed that there shall be a Bureau of Agriculture established. That language is emphatic enough, but it is because of its vagueness and the power which it leaves to the Government to form any kind of bureau they please, that I object to it most strongly.
– The second clause in the Bill follows exactly the first section of the American Act to which the honorable senator refers.
– The clause is not vague when it says that the Bureau is to be called the “ Australian Bureau of Agriculture.”
– That is so. It might, of course, have been called by any other name. I admit that there is evidence in the clause of a patriotic intention, but I agree that it is surplusage to use tlie word “ Australian “ in describing the proposed Federal Bureau. However, I do not quarrel with the Government on that score, but because they have not proposed to effect what I believe to be a most useful purpose in a businesslike way.
– Will the honorable senator suggest amendments which would make the clause businesslike?
– I leave that to the Minister. If he proposes any amendment of the clause in that direction, I shall be prepared to support him.
– But the honorable senator proposed to knock out the Bill first of all.
– I did, for reasons which I am now repeating, and I rather apologize to the Committee for doing so. I am not opposed to the object of this Bill.
– The honorable senator adopted a strange way of showing his support on the second reading.
– If the Minister will frame this clause on the lines of the second section of the American Act, to which I refer, I shall support it. I hope that he will consent to postpone the further consideration of the clause, in order that it may be submitted in the amended form I suggest. The second section of the American Act plainly shows that the Government of the day meant business. It reads -
That there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a “ Commissioner of Agriculture,” who shall be the chief Executive officer of the Department of Agriculture, who shall hold his office by a tenure similar to that of other civil officers appointed by the President, and who shall receive for his compensation a salary of three thousand dollars per annum.
That is a clear and emphatic expression of the intention of Congress. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council will submit a concrete clause, of that description, I shall be prepared to support it. I object to allowing the clause to pass in such a way as would enable the Government of the day, if they thought fit, to appoint three Commissioners of Agriculture.
– They would have to look to us for the funds.
– In these matters, if you get one leg in, there is wry little difficulty in getting in the other. I do not desire to waste the time of honorable senators, because there are Bills on the paper which are of more importance. If the Minister will agree to postpone this clause, in order that, later, he may submit a clause which will indicate a genuine intention on the part of the Government to do business, I shall be prepared to support it.
On the second reading of the Bill I mentioned that one feature which induced me to agree to pass it was that the experts of the proposed Federal Bureau might form, in effect, a court of appeal, which would decide disputes arising in connexion with the transfer of the productions of one State to another. But I admit that there are all kinds of difficulties in the way. If it is proposed under this Bill to establish merely an Agricultural Bureau, I agree with Senator Symon that the time has not yet come for its establishment. Senator Millen has not yet dealt with the statement I made on the second reading, that when we take over the Northern Territory, as I presume we shall do some day, we shall require the advice of the most up-to-date tropical Agricultural Bureau that can be established. Seeing that we have to meet that obligation in the future, and that it is absolutely necessary to develop the Territory, whether it is transferred to us or remains with the State, why does the Minister propose at this stage to cut in and try to help the States when the latter say that they do not want our help, and fear that there will be overlapping and also friction between the Departments?
– Does not the honorable senator see the answer? This is to get ready for the acquisition of the Northern Territory.
– My honorable friend may be right ; but I do not want to vote for the expenditure of any money unless I can see a likelihood of a substantial return immediately or in the near future. The Minister would, I think, have made his case stronger if he could have answered or foreseen some of the objections, and told us what kind of department is to be created. Is it to be comprised of two, four, or six experts? Are there to be experts on pests in apples and potatoes, in which’ my State is very much interested, or are there to be experts on coffee, tobacco, and bananas? Many tropical fruits will, I hope, be grown some day in the Northern Territory. It cannot be very well developed without their aid, and therefore we shall need the advice of experts. Before we take a division, can the Minister outline what kind of bureau he has in his mind’s eye? Does he know that the people, the Agricultural Council, and the Premier of Tasmania will be agreeable to the appointment of an expert on fruit?
– Does the honorable senator mean the State Department, or the State Government, or the people of the State?
– I mean the State Government, who, as my honorable friend knows, represent the people.
– Has any State given an assurance that it will be bound by the decision of our bureau ?
– That is one of the troubles I fear. If I thought that I could get a tribunal which would settle questions concerning the transfer of products from one State to another, I should hail the Bill with some satisfaction.
– The Inter-State Commission Bill will help the honorable senator out of that difficulty.
– I have not got quite as far as that Bill, and, although I may vote for its second reading as a part of the platform of the Fusion Government, I am not prepared to vote for its provisions as they stand. It will need a very great deal of scrutiny, and will, I think, have to be curtailed in many ways. I should have preferred a measure for the creation of a more simple and certainly very less costly Department of Agriculture, which might be made of some immediate practical use. The Minister cannot point out that the Bill, if it is passed now, will be of any immediate practical use; I quite admit that the expenditure of money on scientific education and investigation is always useful. But a very considerable sum is now being spent on this work. The States are spending their money in their own way, and in regard to their own products. They engage experts who they think understand how to deal with particular products; they have shown, as I pointed out from the reports of the Premiers Conferences, an absolute disinclination, in fact, a positive hostility, to the appointment of a Federal Bureau. I think that the Minister would do well to ask the Committee to report progress, with a view to proceeding with, first, the Marine Assurance Bill, and next the Defence Bill, and to see if the State Premiers can point out where, without overlapping, friction, and waste of money, a Federal Bureau can help them. If the States, which are managing their Departments well and successfully, will point out that a bureau is required, or hail the Bill with anything like satisfaction, I should be inclined to vote for it. But with all the Premiers and Cabinets against the Bill, I cannot do so.
– That is hardly correct. The reports of the last three Conferences of State Premiers do not disclose that at all.
– The last two Conferences did not deal with the question, and one Conference did not deal with it on the assurance of Mr. Deakin that nothing more would be done. Before anything more was done, the State Premiers ought to have been consulted.
– According to the reports the Premiers referred to the question at the last two Conferences, and in each case they said that they would wait to see what the Bill was like before expressing an opinion.
Senatorde Largie. - And Mr. Deakin said that he would withdraw the Bill.
– That was said three years before.
– I think that Senator Chataway has not helped the Minister at all, because he has shown that we ought to have had something more than a skeleton. The State Premiers have all been . afraid of overlapping, of the Departments interfering with one another. I think that the duty is cast upon the Minister of showing us whether the proposed bureau will do any work which the States want done without overlapping and unnecessary cost.
– It is reallyadmitted that there is none, except that the bureau would distribute the reports of the different States.
– Who made that admission ?
– That is the general understanding, I think.
– I must claim an exemption.
– Well, I exempt my honorable friend.
– Senator Keating pointed out that in America the Department of Agriculture collects the reports from the States and disseminates a great deal of information. But, as I said before, I do not see any analogy between our circumstances and theirs - between a country comprising six States with a total population of 4,500,000, and a country comprising forty-five States, with a total population of 84,000,000.
– The number of States does not make any difference.
– I think it does, because whereas in America 84,000,000 are settled in forty-five States, in Australia 4,500,000 are settled in six States. When we have acquired a much larger popular tion, and we see that the States are not doing necessary work, we may be able to intervene usefully. But why should we intervene now, when the State Premiers say that they do not wish us to do so? We have a great deal to do with our money. We do not know what our defence system is likely to cost, nor do we know what old-age pensions are going to cost. Why should we not conserve £10,000 here, and £20,000 there, instead of duplicating Departments which we can do without ?
– Senator Dobson suggested to the Minister just now that he should ask the Committee to report progress on the Bill. As I voted1 against its second reading, I hope that when the Chairman makes a report it will be that there are obstacles to proceeding any further with the Bill.
– That at least is frank.
– I intend to adopt the same attitude with regard to the clauses of the Bill as I did in regard to the motion for its second reading. I admit that in discussing the measure there is a danger of falling into something like contradictory arguments. I had an example just now when I listened to the very well rounded sentences of Senator Keating. In the first place, he said that the authority which we intended to confer on the Commonwealth Department was an authority of advisory influence only,, and not an executive power. That . is precisely what we intend to do. But when he was extolling the bureau, he went on to say, among other things, that it would save the States from-wasting their work. 1 do not see the slightest sign of that in the Bill.
– We cannot save the State if it does not want to be saved.
– I should regard Senator Keating’s statement as rather a reflection upon the work which the States have done, and certainly it was not justified. He also said that the bureau would act as a sort of central distributing channel. Apart from literature,. I do not know what it is likely to distribute. The honorable senator also stated that it would be a supreme body, and that was the climax. I do not know one honorable senator who thinks that the proposed bureau will be a supreme body in regard to the progress and practice of agriculture throughout the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, what we purport to establish by the.Bill is something in .the nature of an agricultural university. I do not suppose that Senator Millen would claim more than that for the bureau. At different times, I have had reason for criticising universities and their work.- 1 have always felt that a university is of little use indeed unless it combines the teaching function with the examining function. I do not see that this Bill provides for .a teaching function on the part of .the bureau, but I do perceive therein an intention to create something like an examining body, with occasionally a body competent to distribute literature. I can now see myself on the very verge of falling into a contradictory argument, because I find that under (Clause 3 the bureau may, not shall, subject to the regulations and to the Minister’s directions, be charged with certain functions. I do not know who the Minister is to be, because that is not stated. Nor do I know whether it is intended by the Government to create a new office to deal with this Department. The functions with which the bureau may be charged ma) be very extensive ; they certainly may necessitate the expenditure of a very large sum. On the other hand, subject to the Minister’s approval or disapproval, the expenditure of money and the work consequently done thereunder, may be extremely little. It would not cost much money, I suppose, to distribute throughout the Commonwealth certain information in literary form ; but it would cost a great deal to carry out experiments and investigations, for instance, in connexion with pests and diseases. Whilst I should regard a limited expenditure, which would be at the caprice of the Minister, as money more or less wasted, I think that at present we are not justified in incurring the expenditure which would be involved in carrying out the different purposes of the bureau. It will be recollected that, in their manifesto which was issued a good many months ago, the Government stated that it ‘was intended to create a Bureau of Agriculture associated with an Inter- State Commission. I have been wondering why a divorce is sought, .and we are now asked to deal with the institution of ;a bureau separately. I can conceive .that an Inter-State Commission .might be very properly charged, indeed, more properly charged, with a great many of the duties which are assigned to the bureau. I can also conceive that if an Inter-State Commission were appointed, it would have power and authority which we do not purport in any. way to confer by the Bill. Possibly the Ministry have dealt with the two questions separately, because they do not feel very certain as to the ultimate destination of either Bill. I feel a little indifferent as to whether I am to shoot separately, or whether, in aiming at the pigeon, I am to kill the crow as well. I do not think that the Bureau of Agriculture, if defeated on this proposal, will find a place in the Inter-State Commission Bill.. It is my duty to oppose this Bill, because I think that a bureau is not wanted at present, or, if it is wanted, that it ought to be created on a much larger scale than the Bill proposes. The strongest objection I have to the Bill is that it is extremely^ vague, and that the functions of the’ bureau are to be subject entirely to thecaprice or judgment of the Minister.. We do not know what he is likely to do. We only know that his authority; may be exercised very extensively. He may, advise the expenditure of, perhaps, £1,000 a year, or he may very properly and justifiably advise the expenditure of £100,000.
– But does not .the honorable senator see that that is a safeguard against the Department acting without such control, and wanting to duplicate work now being carried on by the States?
– I understand my honorable friend to say that the Minister will be a safeguard. I do not know whether that’ will be so. Unfortunately this Parliament has contracted ‘the habit of failing to regard Ministers as safeguards. In the present instance I do not think that Parliament’ will be able to exercise much control over the proposed Department. Certainly its control will be limited to the annual Appropriation Bill, and I strongly object to any measure being made year after year the subject of dispute upon that Bill. If we are going to create an Agricultural Department, we ought to properly equip it, and Parliament ought at least to know, within limits, what is to be the expenditure upon it. I do not think it is desirable that we should establish merely a University in reference to agricultural matters, and that- is all that the Bill proposes. The Minister would practically be the Chancellor of that University. That is the position as it appeals to me. I intend to vote against the clause, and in so doing I shall merely be repeating the vote which I cast upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– Senator Clemons has touched upon a new aspect of this Bill, and one which we might with advantage consider a little more. To my mind the Inter-State Commission Bill covers all the useful ground that is traversed by the measure which we are now discussing. Part vi. of that Bill empowers the Commissioners appointed under it to investigate.
– For what purpose?
– I repeat that the Inter-State Commission Bill covers all the useful ground that is traversed by this measure.
– A police court has power to investigate, but to investigate what ?
– The InterState Commission Bill empowers the Commissioners who may be appointed under it to conduct an investigation into Australian industries. Surely agricultural pursuits would come within the definition of “ Australian industries?”
– Does the honorable senator suppose that the Commission could inquire into Irish blight and the scientificreasons underlying it?
– I do not see why it could not. We could certainly enlarge the scope of the measure if the adoption of that course were necessary. The Inter-State Commissioners would be vested with certain powers, and if it were necessary those powers might be enlarged so as to enable them to accomplish all that can be accomplished under this Bill. That being so-
– It obviously is not so.
– This Bill is quite unnecessary, even if honorable senators subscribe to the idea that we ought to embark upon a new realm of investigation. The various State Departments are conducting investigations into agricultural matters much more efficiently than the Commonwealth could possibly do. Those Departments are doing excellent work, and for the Commonwealth to embark upon the same enterprise - especially as it has no land of its own - would be as unnecessary as would be the fifth wheel of a coach. If we do establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. 1 am satisfied that instead of harmonizing the work of the. State Departments, as was suggested by Senator Keating, we shall constantly find ourselves in conflict with the States. Thus we have very good reason for refusing to proceed with this Bill. The State Parliaments are very jealous of Commonwealth interference in any matter’ over which they exercise control. If we proposed to establish a much betterequipped Bureau of Agriculture than that possessed .by any of the States there might be some merit in this Bill.
– That would look like striving to wipe out the State Departments.
– Exactly. By concentrating the work in ai central office we should not be able to cheapen its cost, because the State Departments are familiar with local conditions, which constitute a very important factor. For instance, authorities in the eastern States refuse to recognise the remedies which have proved efficacious in dealing with certain parasites on the west coast of Australia. To take up this question in a tin-pot style would merely mean a waste of money. It would resemble the attempt of a boy to give advice to a grown man upon a subject on which he was not competent to advise. I repeat that the States would pro- perly resent Commonwealth interference in this” matter. ~ It has been urged that, although the Commonwealth possesses no land of its own, the projected department might find a useful field of employment in collecting and publishing reports of value concerning agricultural pursuits. But I would ask, “ Do not the States make use of these reports at the present time “ ? If a report of value like that written by Senator McColl be forthcoming, all that is necessary to secure its publication is the carrying of a motion in the Senate. We have been told that, though the Commonwealth possesses no lands, it might well establish an agricultural laboratory. But are we going to create a department for the purpose of allowing one or two officials to conduct experiments in reference to certain parasites?’ The idea is so ridiculous that it is quite apparent that this Bill has been introduced merely to provide food for debate. The Government are not in earnest in proceeding with it, and I do hope, therefore, that it will be dropped. If we are going to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture, we ought to know exactly what its functions will be, and how much it will cost. The question is such a large one that we ought to be placed in possession of a good deal more information than we have before us at the present time.
– The further this debate proceeds the more difficult it becomes to advance any new argument either in favour of or iri opposition to the Bill. I listened attentively this, afternoon to the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who declared that the amendment submitted by Senator Pearce was prompted by a desire to wreck the Bill.
– No amendment has been submitted.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council wishes to make a distinction without a difference.
– An amendment for the purpose of improving a clause is one thing, and an attempt to excise a clause, with a view to wrecking the Bill, is another.
– I shall do whatever I can to prevent this measure becoming law. Whilst the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council may not be accurate in its application to members of the Opposition generally, it accurately dennes the position which I take up in regard to this measure. I shall support the excision of the clause, knowing that, if it be deleted, the Bill will be useless. I am satisfied that if the measure were placed upon our statute-book in its present form, it would serve no good purpose. Seeing that it does not contemplate striking out in a new direction, why has it been introduced? I have already said that the Agricultural Departments in at least four of the States are performing the work which is contemplated by the Bill in a much better and more effective manner than it could be performed by a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. If the Government were absolutely sincere in their desire to establish a central Bureau of Agriculture, they would be aware that the paltry sum of ^250 placed upon the Estimates would be insufficient.
– I have said a dozen times that that proposed expenditure has no reference to this Bill, but that it relates to an international bureau.
– That explana- - tion makes the position worse. Do I understand that no provision has been made upon the Estimates? The Bill will simply create a Department for which there is not the: slightest necessity. Can any honorable senator, with a knowledge of what is being done by the States, prove to me that they are not doing now exactly what will be done under this measure? If so much can be proved, the Bill will have no mare ardent supporter than I shall be. It has been said that there will be co-operation between the Federal and the State Bureaux. But I venture to say that, on the contrary, there will probably be a conflict of authority, if we. vest the Federal experts with ample jurisdiction. If they are to be useful, they must have authority, and if they have authority, we shall probably create antagonism. I suppose that the opinions entertained by the Federal experts would be regarded as paramount. In that case, even when a State had proved the utility of a certain line of action, as the result of investigations such as those conducted by Mr. Compere in Western Australia, they would be rendered nugatory by the Federal authority. I quote the case of Western Australia, because I have personal and practical knowledge of the work being done there. No evidence has been adduced, either by the Minister, or by any of the supporters of the measure, that the establishment of a Federal Bureau would lead to the work being done better. Consequently, I remain opposed: to it.
– This subject was fully debated on the motion for the second reading. When we carried that motion, we practically carried the clause under discussion, which merely provides that there shall be a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. I have heard nothing which would warrant us in rejecting the clause and thus practically throwing out the Bill. The welfare of Australia is dependent almost entirely upon the products of the soil. Therefore, anything which we can do to aid the primary producer we ought to do. Without in any way overlapping the work that has been done by the States, we can establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture capable of performing valuable service. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has hinted that a scientific laboratory will be instituted for the purpose of conducting experiments.
– We have such a laboratory in South Australia.
– But South Australia is not the Commonwealth, and it does not include the whole of the great emptyspaces which we want to see occupied and cultivated. This will be the first step towards extending the work of agricultural research throughout the Commonwealth. Complaint has been made that the Bill does not provide for a Commisisoner or for a staff of officers. But if it did, I should vote against it. As the measure stands, the extent of its operations will be under the control of Parliament. The Government will have to ask Parliament for a certain sum of money to do certain things. If we think that they are spending too much in this direction, we shall have an opportunity to say so. Consequently, the ground of objection taken by honorable senators opposite furnishes me with a reason forsupporting the Bill.
– I expressed my opinion concerning this measure clearly and emphatically at the second-reading stage. I ought to know something about the subject ; and if I thought for a moment that the creation of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture would be in the interests of the Commonwealth or of the States, I would vote for it. Not only have I a knowledge of what is being done by the States, but . I am also aware that the State Ministers of Agriculture have stated that they do not require the aid of a Federal measure. I consider that the work to be done will overlap what is now being done by the States. Having always been connected with farming pursuits, I am naturally desirous of assisting in any movement that would help the producers. But if I had to face my electors within the next: few weeks, I should be perfectly willing to justify my vote against this Bill. There is no party politics in what is proposed. The party to which I belong have never discussed the measure in caucus. But when I first saw the Bill in print some months ago,I was convinced that it was unnecessary, and made up my mind to oppose it, on the ground that it would occasion a wasteful expenditure of public money.
– I was under the impression that when the second reading of the Bill was carried, we decided the question whether there should be a Federal Department of Agriculture. I scarcely expected that we should have a re-hash-of the arguments advanced before the Bill was read a second time. It was scarcely to be expected that those who were not present would take advantage of this opportunity to inflict upon us again arguments pro- or con in regard’ to the Bill as a whole. It is extraordinary that after the Senate has affirmed, by agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, that a Federal Agricultural Bureau should be established, honorable senators on the Government cross bench as well as honorable senators opposite, should now propose to reverse the vote taken at that stage.
– Who on the Government cross bench is proposing to do that?
– As the honorable senator’s interjection suggests thatI have made a cap which fits, I think I may say that he proposes to do so.
– I voted against the second reading.
– I do not see why the honorable senator should not abide by the verdict of the Senate that it is desirable to establish an Agricultural Bureau.
– I occasionally abide by the virtue of consistency.
– It does not trouble me whether the honorable senator is consistent or not.
– I did not think the honorable senatorref erred to me, because every honorable senator who sits on the Government cross bench proposes to vote on this clause as he did on the second reading.
-This is merely a formal clause of the Bill, and I think the Committee might accept the decision of the Senate on the second reading. If the Government had proposed in this clause theappointment of aCommissionerj of Agriculture and a number of officers, they would have been told that they were proposing expenditure which at this stage is not justified. Because they have not done so, they are told that the Bill means nothing. I agree with Senator Vardon that it is one of the merits of the Bill : that it provides merely for making a start in this matter. The State authorities are perpetually at loggerheads in connexion with the transfer of products from one State to another, and a central bureau to deal with that matter by the dissemination of scientific information or by decisions will sooner or later be necessary. If we cannot deal with the matter in that way it will have to be dealt with by the Inter-State Commission or by reference direct tothe High Court. Senator Clemons admitted that, and one of his objections to this Bill is that what it provides for might be carried out by the InterState Commission.
– No, one of my objections was that the Government have said that the matter to which the honorable senator refers will be dealt with by the Inter- State Commission.
– I still say that whether the matter is dealt withby the Inter-State Commission or is referred for decision by the High Court, the Commonwealth authority, if it seeks to enforce its view, should be armed with proper scientific information to support that view.
– But under the InterState Commission Bill it is not proposed, as it is in this Bill, that everything shall be done by the Minister.
– The honorable senator is aware that in all these cases the Minister would act only on the advice of his expert officers.
– The Inter-State Commissioners will not be the expert officers of any Minister.
– It is unnecessary to prolong this interchange of remarks and I will only say now that as the Senate has affirmed the desirability of establishing a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, I hope that honorable senators will be consistent and will carry this formal clause.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee(Consideration resumed from 20th October, vide page 4725) :
Clauses 2 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Avoidance of wagering or gaming contracts).
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he has looked into the matter I raised in connexion with this clause on the second reading of the Bill. I do not think that this clause will prevent gambling policies. If the Minister has given some attention to the matter he may be able to say whether it is possible to make the provisions of this part of the Bill even more stringent than they are.
[5.10] - As I explained previously the Bill is almost verbally a reproduction of the Imperial Act. It declares the law on the subject of marine insurance. It is in fact to take the place of upwards of 2,000 decisions as to what the law is. In his secondreading speech Senator Guthrie raised various questions on this clause. His chief trouble was that notwithstanding the clause a certain amount of wagering or gambling insurances were effected. Amongst other things he referred to cases where insurers had seen fit to reinsure in order to lessen their losses. Strictly speaking, that cannot reasonably be regarded as a gambling or wagering insurance. As a matter of fact, that is specifically authorized by the Bill, and, of course, by the Imperial law. The clause says - (1.) Every contract of marine insurance by way of gaming or wagering is void.
Those are the strongest words which could be used. If wagering or gambling goes on there is no power to make any legal recovery of any moneys payable under a policy of the kind. It is quite true that there might be an alteration made declaring it an offence to do so. But I am not quite sure that that would completely effect the object which my honorable friend has in view. I do not think that we can go further than the provision in the English Act, and any wagering insurance that goes on must be done at the risk of the person concerned in the same way as betting takes place in the streets, although the law is that it shall not take place. I am afraid that we cannot get hold of these persons. Betting in the streets is visited by a penalty when it is discovered, but it goes on all the same. The best that we can do, therefore, is to declare that a marine insurance policy of the kind shall be null and void, and in doing so we have gone as far as the Imperial Parliament has done.
– I admit that the clause is virtually a copy of the provision in the Imperial Act, but I think that it does not go far enough. On its face it looks all right. It says - (1.) Every contract of marine insurance by way of gaming or wagering is void.
Contracts are daily taken out where no interest is shown. These are what are called “honor” policies or “P.P.I.” policies, and the party has no interest in the ship or her cargo.
– Of course, it is all illegal.
– I do not think so. If a man has a policy which states “ interest or no interest”-
– Then it is declared to be void.
– I do not think that it is so under the Imperial Act. There are British cases stated in the book before me, and I think that there is a decision by Mr. Justice Best, who absolutely held that this legislation does not touch-
– The provision in the English Act says - (2.) A contract of marine insurance is deemed to be a gaming or wagering contract -
In that case it is deemed to be a wagering contract, and, therefore, null and void.
– The provision comes in that - where there is no possibility of salvage, a policy may be effected without benefit of salvage to the insurer.
However, I do not intend to pit my legal knowledge against that of the Minister, but I still think that the clause does not go far enough.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.16]. - I do not know exactly what is in Senator Guthrie’s mind. It is one of the principles of British law that gambling insurances are illegal. The object is to put a stop to that kind of thing, and that was done by means of a section of the consolidating Act, which is reproduced in clause 10 of this Bill. Sub-clause 1 says -
Every contract of marine insurance by way of gaming or wagering is void.
The clause proceeds to provide what is to be deemed a gaming or wagering contract. It is essential to do that before sub-clause1 can be brought into operation. A man may have no particular interest in an adventure or the subject-matter of insurance at the moment, but it may not be a gaming or wagering insurance, if he intends at the time to acquire an interest in the subject-matter. Another element that constitutes a gaming or wagering contract is -
Where . the policy is made “ interest or no interest,” or “ without further proof of interest than the policy itself,” or “ without benefit of salvage to the insurer,” or subject to any other like term.
It was a great convenience to prove interest by simply producing the policy, but it was found to open the door to a good deal of abuse, and therefore it was declared that a policy of that kind without further proof was practically a wagering policy. That had the effect of throwing upon the holder of the policy the obligation to prove effectively his interest. Then a difficulty arose - and that is what appears to be in my honorable friend’s mind - as to what is meant by an insurable interest in paragraph a of this clause. That is dealt with in the following clause.
– In clauses 11 and I 2
– Clause 12 deals with the question of when interest must attach, but the nature of that interest is defined by clause n. Every person has an insurable .interest who is interested in a marine adventure. That is the first thing. When an investigation or trial takes place in an action on a marine assurance policy, you have first to ascertain, if it is disputed, whether the person who is bringing the action had an insurable interest in the adventure. Sub-clause’ 2 of clause 11 says -
In particular, a person is interested in a marine adventure where he stands in any legal or equitable relation to the adventure, or to any insurable property at risk therein.
That is where, I suppose, my honorable friend has got into trouble in respect of reinsurances and so on. I think it will be well for him to define to the Minister what his difficulty is. I am sure that the Minister would be very glad to give any assistance, and so would all of us, but my honorable friend has not very clearly defined what his trouble is. If he would mention the possibilities of - wagering by means of fictitious insurable interests, or if his trouble is that persons who may have an interest which he thinks ought to be protected will not be protected, ‘and their policy may’ be held to be a wagering policy, then the Minister may be able to satisfy .him. But, at present, I cannot quite see what his trouble is.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 27 agreed to.
Clause 28 -
Subject to the provisions of any Act, a contract of marine insurance is admissible in evidence, unless it is embodied in a marine policy in accordance with this Act. The policy may be executed and issued either at the time when the contract is concluded or afterwards.
[5.24]. - In its present form the clause is far too sweeping. It was couched in that form because of certain Stamp Duties Acts in the Mother Country, and as it must be adapted to our own conditions, I, .in accordance with notice, move -
That after the word “ evidence “ the following words be inserted, “in an action- for the recovery of a loss under the contract.”
It is my intention to propose a similar amendment in a subsequent clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 29 and 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 (Voyage and time policies).
.- In this clause, a departure is made, I think, from the Imperial Act. The Imperial Act -provides that a time policy shall be valid for twelve months, but this Bill contemplates that under certain circumstances it shall be valid for twelve months and thirty days. I do not’ see the necessity for extending such a policy for a period of thirty days.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria - Minister of Trade and Customs) [5-27]. -Section 25, sub-section 1, of the Imperial Act reads -
Where the contract is to insure the subjectmatter at and from, or from one place to another or others, the policy is called a “ voyage policy,” and where the contract is to insure the subject-matter for a definite period of time the policy is called a “time policy.” A contract for both voyage and time may be included in the same policy.
Sub-section 2 of that section provides -
Subject to the provisions of paragraph n of the Finance Act, 1901, a time policy which is made for any time exceeding twelve months is invalid.
Instead of inserting that sub-section in the Bill, we have, in the clause under consideration, added a proviso which follows substantially section ri of the Finance Act 1901, which is practically sub-section 2 of section 25 of the Imperial Act. So that honorable senators will see that in the Imperial Act is incorporated a provision of another English statute, which is embodied in this particular clause. Instead of attempting to enact bv separate legislation section n of the Imperial Finance Act, we have introduced it here in its proper place. The section of the Imperial Act is substantially the same as the clause in “the Bill which is now under consideration. If time permitted, I Would read section 11 of the Finance Act to satisfy my honorable friend that this clause is strictly in accordance with English legislation, notwithstanding the departure that has been made from the Imperial Marine Insurance Act
– I think that the extension for one month which is provided under the Imperial Act is intended to apply only to voyage policies, and not to time policies.
– The provision is exactly in accordance with the English law upon the subject.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 32 to 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 -
Where the place of departure is specified by the policy, and the ship instead of sailing from . that place jails from any other place, the risk does not attach.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) l5<3*]- - I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, if a vessel puts into a port which is not mentioned in her policy, the risk would be vitiated?
[5.32]. . - The honorable senator will recognise, by a perusal of this clause in conjunction with clause 50, that the risk does not attach unless it is in strict compliance with the terms of the policy. Of course, deviations are permitted under certain circumstances, such as stress of weather. Indeed, paragraphs a, b, .c, d, 4, f, and g, of clause 55, provide for excuses for deviation or delay.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 50 to 94 agreed to.
Clause 95 -
Nothing in this Act shall, prevent reference being made in legal proceedings to the slip or covering note or other customary memorandum of a contract of marine insurance.
Amendment (by Senator Sir Robert
Best) agreed to -
That before the word “ Nothing “ the following words be inserted : - “ Where a policy in accordance with this Act has been issued.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
First and second schedules and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Senate adjourned at 5-44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 November 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091103_senate_3_53/>.