4th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Acting Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputies appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament, the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, P.C., G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the Right Hon. Sir Edmund Barton, P.C., G.C.M.G., Justice of the High Court of Australia, having been introduced by the Usher of the Black Rod, the Senior Deputy directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives being come,
Letters Patent read by the Acting Clerk.
The SENIOR DEPUTY said-
Gentlemen of the Senate, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
We have it in command from the Governor-General to let you know that, as scon as the members of the Senate recently elected and. the members of the House’ of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared to you by him in person in this place ; and it being necessary that a President of the Senate, and a Speaker of the House of Representatives should be first chosen, you, Gentlemen of the Senate, will proceed to choose some proper person to be your President; and you, Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, will repair to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker; and thereafter you will respectively present the persons whom you shall so choose to His Excellency at such time and place as he shall appoint. Mr. Justice Barton will administer the oath to members of the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives, and Deputy Mr. Justice Barton, having withdrawn :
The SENIOR DEPUTY having produced a commission appointing him a commissioner to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance,
Commission read by the Acting-Clerk.
The Acting Clerk laid upon the table returns to the writs issued for the election of members to the Senate.
The following honorable senators made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
David John O’Keefe,
Hugh de Largie.
The Senior Deputy then withdrew.
– The time has arrived when the Senate should select some one from amongst its members to act as President.
– I move -
That Senator Turley do take the Chair of this Senate as President.
– : I have much pleasure in seconding the motion.
.- I have very much pleasure in proposing -
That Senator Sir Albert Gould do take the Chair of this Senate as President.
Senator Sir Albert Gould has had considerable experience in the office, and I think that we were all satisfied with the manner in which he conducted the proceedings of the Senate. It would also be well to follow British. precedents in such a -matter.
– I beg to second the proposition submitted by Senator Fraser.
The Acting-Clerk. - In accordance with the Standing Orders, ballot-papers will be distributed to honorable senators, each of whom will mark upon the paper handed to him the name of the candidate for whom he desires to vote.
A ballot having been taken -
The Acting-Clerk. - I have to announce that the result of the ballot is that Senator Turley has received twenty-two votes and Senator Gould nine votes.
Senator TURLEY thereupon took the Chair as President.
– I have to thank the members of the Senate for the honour which they have conferred upon me in electing me to the Chair. I shall endeavour to maintain the standard which has been set by the two previous occupants of the office. At all times I shall hold the balance equally between members of the Senate and parties in it ; and I believe that I shall obtain the support of every honorable senator in carrying . out the duties of the office to which I have been chosen.
– I have a peculiar pleasure in rising on this occasion to offer you, sir, my congratulations. I hope also that you will receive the congratulations of the wholeSenate on your elevation to the very high office which you now occupy. As a representative of Queensland, it is an especial satisfaction to me to be able to congratulate another representative of that State on having been elevated to the highest position which it is within the province of the Parliament of the Commonwealth . to bestow upon any citizen of Australia. I think that you, sir, have reason to feel exceedingly proud that, after a long term of parliamentary service, you have attained, by such a large majority of this Senate, to such a very exalted position. I believe, from my long personal acquaintance with you, from my knowledge of your familiarity with the Standing Orders and with parliamentary procedure, that you will be able to fulfil the duties of the office- with satisfaction to both sides of the Chamber, and in a manner that will do the utmost credit to yourself. On behalf of the Senate, I think I can offer you the undivided assistance of every member of it in carrying out your duties. It will, I am satisfied, be the pleasure of every member of the Senate to assist you to the best of his ability, in order that you may worthily occupy the position. Personally, it will be my endeavour to help you to the very utmost. I hope also that honorable senators on the opposite side will do their utmost to assist you, and that, so aided, you will be able to maintain the best traditions and the highest standards of the Presidentship of this Chamber. I have nothing further to add, except to offer my personal felicitations to you on the exalted position that you have been called upon to occupy.
. -On behalf of honorable senators upon this side of the chamber - and I desire also to speak for myself - I have much pleasure in tendering you, most sincerely, my congratulations and their congratulations upon your elevation to the highest position within the gift of the Senate. You, sir, are probably more conscious than is anybody here of the very high honour that has been conferred upon you, and that you will endeavour to the best of your ability - which has been marked at all times - to justify the confidence which has been reposed in you by those who have placed you there, is not only your avowed intention, but our hope and belief. You may be perfectly assured on entering upon the difficulties of your position of the hearty co-operation of all sections of the Senate. Apart from the turmoil which Occasionally arises in politics, there is in the hearts of us all a sincere and earnest desire to uphold the best traditions of parliamentary government. That can be secured only by impartial administration, such as you have promised us, and by the hearty assistance and co-operation of all sections of the Senate. That will be forthcoming to lighten the serious duties which have been cast upon you. Wishing you every success in the position to which you have been called, and looking to the present session to afford you further opportunities to demonstrate your capacity for useful service to the public, and again adding my own personal felicitations, I leave the matter at that stage.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11. 16]. - Before the proceedings close I should like to have an opportunity, as retiring President, to offer you, Mr. President, my congratulations upon the very high honour that has been conferred upon you by this Chamber. I trust, that you will be able to discharge the duties of the office to which you have been elected in the way that - you desire, and in the manner in which the Senate desires you to discharge them. I wish also to thank those honorable senators who supported my Candida-; ture for re-election, and at the same time to tender my sincere thanks to the Senate for the loyal way in which the members of the Senate supported me whilst I had the honour of occupying the position of its President. That the same loyalty will be displayed towards my successor I feel perfectly sure, and I trust that it will be the means of enabling business in this Chamber to be transacted in the orderly, dignified, and satisfactory way in which it ought to be transacted. The Senate occupies a very high and important position under the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and the public look to it to exercise its powers and’ to discharge its duties with fearlessness, with candour, and at the same time, with’ dignity. Whatever may be the future of the Commonwealth I trust that the Senate will always be regarded as a House in which legislative work will be well done, and in which business will be conducted with that high sense of public duty which ought to belong to this Parliament. I again congratulate you, sir, upon your election to the position of President, and I trust that you will find your occupancy of the office genial and satisfactory alike to yourself and to honorable senators.
– I have to announce that His Excellency the Governor- General will be present, in the Parliamentary Library, at twenty minutes past 2 o’clock this afternoon to receive the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I wish also to intimate that the bells will be rung at 2.15 p.m., so as to inform honorable senators of the time of meeting of the Senate, and I would suggest that the sittings of this Chamber should now be suspended until that hour.
Sitting suspended from 11.20 a.m. to 2.20 p.m.
The Senate having re-assembled,
– I have to announce to the Senate that, accompanied by a number of honorable senators, I presented myself to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, who has been pleased to express his gratification at the choice of the Senate, and to congratulate me upon it.
NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker, His Excellency was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
I have called you together for the purpose of enabling My Advisers to submit for your consideration important and urgent measures.
The melancholy intelligence of the death of our great peace-loving Sovereign, King Edward VII., evoked a widespread expression of national grief throughout Australia and the Empire, while the entire civilized world felt the poorer for his death, and sincerely mourned his loss.
The accession of His Majesty King George V. was proclaimed on the 9th May, and the earnest prayer of the people of the Commonwealth is that His Majesty’s reign may he memorable in human progress, and marked by peace among the nations of the world.
You will be asked to consider matters of first importance in connexion with finance. My Advisers view with satisfaction the result of the referenda on the. financial agreement and State debts.
The revenue from Customs and Excise and Posts and Telegraphs has exceeded the Budget estimates.
In view of the expiration on the 31st December next of the period during which the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States were governed by the provisional financial clauses of the Constitution, a measure will be submitted providing for payments by the Commonwealth to the several States, during a term of ter years, commencing on the 1st July, 1910, on the basis of 25s. per head of their respective populations, special arrangements being made for the State of Western Australia.
The question of consolidating the debts of the States becoming more urgent as time passes, it is hoped an early opportunity will present itself to enable all necessary steps being taken to deal with this question.
In order to more effectively exercise the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to currency, a measure will be. introduced providing for the issue of Commonwealth notes of various denominations which shall be legal tender, and convertible into gold at the Treasury.
Steps will be taken to reduce the age at which women are eligible for. old-age pensions and to provide for payment of pensions to invalids early in the financial year.
A measure will be submitted to you to provide for a progressive tax upon the unimproved value of land, with an exemption
In view of the urgent necessity for encouraging an influx of suitable immigrants to the Commonwealth in order to more effectively develop its great resources and defend it against possible invasion, My Advisers intend to adopt a policy which it is confidently believed will, by making fertile land available, speedily induce very large numbers of people of the right kind to settle on the lands of the Commonwealth.
A Bill to repeal the Naval. Loan Act 1909 will be introduced.
Legislation in reference to banking is receiving the attention of My Advisers.
You will be invited to consider proposals for the amendment of the Constitution for the purpose of enabling the Federal Parliament to legislate effectively with regard to corporations, commercial trusts, combinations, and monopolies in relation to trade manufactures, or production, industrial matters, and navigation. It is the intention of My Advisers to ask Parliament to pass these measures this session, and to provide for their submission to the electors at a referendum early next year.
A Bill to authorize the Commonwealth to accept the Northern Territory from the State of South Australia, which was before the last Parliament, will be re-submitted for your consideration.
My Advisers have given serious consideration to the question of the effective naval and military defence of Australia. Bills will be introduced providing for this at an early date. Two of the three destroyers ordered by the Government in 1908 have been launched, and will soon be ready for sea. The construction of the third destroyer and of other vessels will, so far as our capabilities permit, be completed in Australia.
The mail service between Australia and Canada has been renewed for one year on the existing terms and conditions, and My Advisers hope, before the expiration of that period, to make arrangements for a considerably improved service.
A Bill will be submitted providing for uniform postage rates throughout the Commonwealth, and it is proposed shortly to make arrangements for the issue of a uniform Commonwealth stamp.
Arrangements have been made by the Pacific Cable Board for the lease of a telegraph line across Canada for a period of five years. The question of obtaining the permanent use of a line, as well as of a cable across the Atlantic, thus securing a State-owned service between the United Kingdom and Australia, is under consideration.
A Bill will be introduced at an early date providing for the more effective regulation of matters connected with navigation and shipping.
It is proposed to take over lighthouses, beacons, and buoys; and to introduce Bills to amend the Quarantine Act and to deal with the Excise and Sugar Bounty Acts.
Bills to provide for the rectification of Tariff anomalies, to amend the Immigration Restriction Act, the Customs Act of 1901, and the Electoral Act will be introduced.
All arrangements necessary for the laying out and construction of the Federal Capital are being expeditiously proceeded with.
My Advisers are taking all necessary preliminary steps towards the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
Proposals for subsidizing an independent news service over the Pacific Cable will be laid before you.
Communications have been addressed to the British and New Zealand Governments with a view to the establishment of a system of wireless telegraphy connecting the Pacific Islands under British protection with Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
The High Commissioner appointed under the measure passed last Parliament has taken up his duties in. London.
The improvement of our trade relations with Great Britain and other self-governing parts of the Empire is receiving consideration.
The Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the postal service is expected at an early date. 1 leave you now to your important duties, and earnestly hope that, under Divine guidance, your deliberations may promote the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.
HisExcellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
– I have to report that during the recess leave of absence for six months, on furlough, was granted to Mr. C. B. Boydell, Clerk of the Senate..
– I have to announce that on the nth May last the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives forwarded, on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, a message to His Excellency the Governor-General in reference to the death of His Majesty King Edward VII., to which a reply has been received. I think that if there is no objection the ActingClerk may read both the message and the reply to the Senate.
Documents read as follow : -
To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty : Most Gracious Sovereign :
We, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker elected by the House of Representatives during its last session, having met together as soon as possible after the recent death of our much loved King Edward the Seventh, desire, on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, to express to Your Majesty the universal sorrow with which the news of the great loss sustained by the Nation was received by all Australians.
The people of the Commonwealth feel that the British Empire - of which Australia is proud to be a part - has lost a Father, and that the whole of the civilized world has lost a Friend and its greatest Peacemaker.
But Australia rests assured that those lofty and peaceful ideals which were nurtured by His Late Majesty King Edward the Seventh will continue to be cherished by his son and successor, Your Imperial Majesty.
By a coincidence, which we trust will prove of happv augury for Australia, Your Majesty was proclaimed King upon the same date as that on which Your Majesty, when Duke of York, nine years ago, opened, in person, the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and thus entwined another strand among those crimson threads of kinship which unite the peoples of Great Britainand her Dominions oversea.
On behalf of that Parliament, we desire to convey its unbounded loyalty to the Crown and to the person of Your Most Gracious Majesty, and to express the confident hope and earnest prayer that Your Majesty’s reign may, under Divine guidance, be a long and beneficent one, and that the world in general and Your Majesty’s Empire in particular, may abound inprosperity and abide in peace.
J. GOULD President.
CARTY SALMON, Speaker.
Melbourne, nth May,1910..
The Governor-General has been commanded by His Majesty King George V. to acknowledge the receipt, by cable, of the message which you sent on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth with reference to the death of King Edward VII. and His Majesty’s accession to the Throne.
The King is deeply touched by your recognition of His late Majesty’s untiring efforts for the good of his people throughout the Empire,, and by your reference to the King’s own part in the inauguration of the First Parliament of theCommonweallh ; and he has desired the GovernorGeneral to convey to them his grateful thanks.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant, Walter Callan.
The President of the Senate.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives.
– Mr. President, before we enter upon any business, I wish to submit a motion, which I have arranged with theLeader of the Opposition to second, and which I believe will meet with unani- . mous approval, and will be carried by honorable senators rising in their places. I beg to move -
That we, the members of the Senate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, take the earliest opportunity we have had since the lamented death of our late beloved Sovereign, King Edward the Seventh, to expressour deep sympathy in the great sorrow which Your Majesty sustained.
– I rise to second the motion, which I am sure the Senate will adopt as no mereformal tribute to one who occupied the position of ruler under our political system. On the contrary, I believe that the Senate will adopt the motion recognising that in the death of King Edward VII. the nation has lost a wise chief, that a humane heart is stilled, and that a great worker in the cause of peace and civilization has been called upon to cease his labours. Sir, no tribute which we can pay, either by voice or by pen, no monument of sculptured marble, can pay such honour to his memory as that which he has secured by his own efforts in the title which came to him ere yet the grave opened to receive him - the title of the Peacemaker. By his efforts as a worker in the path of peace, he secured a place in the hearts of not merely the people of the Empire, but the people of the whole civilized world, as was made manifest by the title to which I have referred - a title which, in my judgment, will represent the greatest achievement in a long and useful life. May we hope, sir, that his labourswill hasten forward the time when an enlightened civilization will beat” the sword into the ploughshare and the spear into the reaping hook?
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I rise to submit a motion of an entirely different character. Agreeing with everything which has been said by the Leader of the Opposition, I beg to move -
That we, the members of the Senate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, submit our respectful congratulations on Your Majesty’s accession to the Throne, and desire to assure Your Majesty of our loyalty, and to express our earnest nope that, under the blessings of Providence, Your Majesty may enjoy a long and prosperous reign, and that it may be marked by the increase, progress, and happiness of the peoples of the British Empire.
– I beg to second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– May I suggest that it would be desirable to pass a further motion authorizing the transmission of the resolutions just adopted by the Senate to His Majesty through the Go- vernor- General.
– I think that that course can be pursued under the Standing Orders.
– Is that so? I do not think so.
– I take it that a motion of the character suggested by Senator Symon can be moved if it be thought advisable.
– The Senate ought to authorize the transmission of the resolutions, I think.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) (3.1]. - I move -
That the President be requested to forward the foregoing resolutions to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission to His Majesty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported.: -
Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
Bills of Exchange Bill.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
High Commissioner Bill.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions (Section 24) Bill.
Naval Loan Bill.
Officers Compensation Bill.
Public Service Bill.
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill.
Seat of Government Acceptance Bill.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill.
Surplus Revenue Bill.
– By leave of the Senate, I desire to make a short statement, which I believe will have the effect of simplifying the transaction of business. I wish in the first place to announce officially that the members of the present Government are as follow : - Mr. Fisher, Prime Minister and Treasurer ; Mr. Hughes, Attorney-General ; Mr. Batchelor, Minister of External Affairs; Mr. Thomas, Postmaster-General; Senator Pearce, Minister of Defence; Mr. Tudor, Minister of Trade and Customs ; Mr. King O’Malley, Minister of Home Affairs ; Senator McGregor, VicePresident of the Executive Council; Mr. Frazer and Senator Findley, Honorary Ministers. I may add that after the lapse of nine or ten years, and after the expression of a desire by the Senate on several occasions, we now have the Government represented by three Ministers in the Senate. The arrangement which we have made with respect to the allotment of business in the Senate is as follows : I myself shall undertake the work relating to the Departments of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the AttorneyGeneral and Minister of External Affairs. The Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, will take charge of business relating to his own Department and the Department of Trade and Customs. Senator Findley will undertake work relating to the Department of the Postmaster-General and the Department of Home Affairs. Honorable senators who wish to make inquiries or to address the Chamber on any criticisms affecting the Departments will now know to what Ministers their remarks should be addressed.
– May I, by the courtesy of the Senate, take advantage of this opportunity to intimate that honorable senators sitting on this side of the chamber have again paid me the compliment of electing me as their leader.
– I should like to ask for a little information. We have listened to a long and interesting list of Bills, which have received the assent of the Governor-General. We know what fate has befallen those measures. But no message has been sent to us showing the fate that has befallen the Financial Agreement. I think we ought to have something placed on record to show what fate has befallen the two very important Bills that embodied the financial policy of the previous Administration.
– Has the honorable senator any doubt about the subject?
SenatorNeedham. - The ballot-box has decided the fate of those Bills.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Audit Acts 1901-1906 -
Transfers in connexion with the Accounts of the Financial Year 1909-10 -
Dated 21st December, 1909.
Dated 12th January,1910.
Dated nth February,1910.
Dated 14th March,1910.
Dated 8th April, 1910.
Dated 8th April, 1910.
Dated 27th April, 1910.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Act 1904-1909. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules igio, No. 3.
Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. - Rule of Court. - Repeal of Form 4, Rule 26, and insertion of new form in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. *33-
Contract Immigrants Act 1905. - Return for the year 1909, showing -
The number of contract immigrants admitted into the Commonwealth; the nationality and occupation of such immigrants.
The number of employers engaging such contract immigrants, and the number of such contract immigrants engaged by each employer.
The places at which the contract immigrants have agreed to work.
. The number of contracts disapproved.
The number of contract immigrants refused admission, and the reasons for such refusal.
Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-1908 -
Return for the year 1909, showing -
Persons refused admission to the Commonwealth,
Persons who passed the dictation test.
Persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test.
Departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.
Naturalization Act 1903. - Return of number of persons to whom Certificates of Naturalization were granted during 1909.
Ordinances of 1909 -
No. 20. - Stamp Duties:
No. 30. - Survey Fees.
No. 31. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909-10, No. 2.
No. 32. - Legal Agents’ Remuneration.
No. 33. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909-10, No. 3.
Ordinances of 1910 -
Gold-mining Encouragement. Land.
Native Labour, No. 2.
No. 1. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909-10, No.. 4.
Reports by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Administrator, on the progress of the Territory -
Dated 16th December, 1909.
Dated 12th February, 1910.
Report on the progress of the Territory, dated 23rd April, 1910, from LieutenantGovernor J. H. P. Murray.
Public Service Act 1902-1909 -
Documents in connexion with the following appointments : -
Amendment of Regulation 57. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 7.
Commonwealth Electoral Acts 1902-^05. - New Regulation 6a (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 131.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909 and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1909.- ; Provisional Regutions. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 2.
Documents in connexion with the reclassification of the office of Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the promotion of Mr. Malcolm Lindsay Shepherd thereto.
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on the 1st January, 1910.
Mr. George Hudson Grant to the position of Land and Property Officer, Class C, Professional Division, Central Staff, Department of Home Affairs.
Mr. Rodrick Quintino to the position of Draftsman, Class F, Professional Division, Public Works Branch, Department of Home Affairs, Victoria.
Repeal of Regulation 88a, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) ‘in. lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. r4g.
Repeal of Regulation 185, and substitution of new Regulation (Provision.il) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 148.
Repeal of Regulation 114, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) inlieu thereof; and new Regulation ii6a (Provisional). - Statutory Rules rgio, No. 6.
Repeal of Regulation 199, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) inlieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 19.
Repeal of Regulation 88a, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 34.
Repeal of Regulation 185, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) inlieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 33-
Repeal of Regulation 114, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof; and new Regulation ii6a. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 51.
Repeal of Regulation 185, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 52.
Repeal of Regulation 172, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. S3-
Repeal of Regulation199, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 54.
Repeal of Regulation 220, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 59-
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Ararat, Victoria - Defence Purposes - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Germanton, New South Wales - Post Office - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Melbourne, Victoria - Postal Purposes - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Mudgee, New South Wales - Rifle Range - Notification of the Acquisition of Land as Addition to Site.
Parish of Nunawading, County of Bourke, Victoria - Post Office - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Perth, Western Australia - Telephone Exchange - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Port Adelaide, South Australia - Defence Purposes - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Singleton, New South Wales- Drill Hall - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Proposed Premiers’ Conference : Correspondence between Prime Minister and Premier of New South Wales.
Report of the Royal Commission on Insurance! - Part I. - Life Assurance.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in intimating to the Senate a few minutes ago his intention to submit a motion relative to the hours at which the Senate would assemble and suspend its sittings, did not state whether it was to be proposed that it should adjourn at a certain hour in the evening.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has merely given notice of a motion on the subject, and that motion will come up for discussion later on.
– I simply desire the Vice-President of the Executive Council to include in the sessional order of which he has given notice a specific time for terminating the sittings of the Seriate.
– In reply to the question put by Senator Long, I wish to say that in the notice of motion tabled by me I have indicated that the sittings of the Senate will be suspended, unless other wise ordered, from 6.30 p.m. till 7.45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 1 p.m. till. 2. 15 p.m. on Fridays.
– But when” will the ordinary sittings of the Senate terminate?
– They wili terminate when we have transacted a sufficient amount of business, and when the talking capabilities of my honorable friends opposite have become exhausted.
– Why not include in the sessional order a specific hour for the termination of our sittings?
– Oh, no.
– I have to report to the Senate that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral attended here to-day, and was pleased to deliver a speech expressing the reasons for the calling together of Parliament.
– I beg to move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to Hi. Excellency the Governor-General’s opening speech be agreed to : -
May it pleaseyour Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I am very sensible of the honour conferred upon me in being asked to submit this motion, because the Parliament assembled to-day differs in “vital respects from those which have assembled in -the Commonwealth in the past. The present Government stand as no other Commonwealth Government have stood. They have a mandate from the people to place upon the statute-book certain Acts of Parliament. They have been sent here with a majority in both Houses to do the will of the people. Their programme was recently indorsed by a very large majority of the people of Australia. I am sure that other members of the Labour party, in common with myself, are delighted that in this Parliament we should occupy the position we do. Those who are opposed to us should also feel some little gratification, because for years they have been clamouring for a return to the two-party system of government, and on that memorable “ Thirteenth “ the people- of Australia gave it to them. It has been brought about by no fusion, but by the will of the people expressed at the ballot-box. It is the function of Parliament to carry out. the will of the people. The programme of the present Government has been explained by all lbc members of the Labour party. They have for years been spreading ‘the glad tidings throughout Australia, and the principles of the party are now very well understood. Our opponents have heard so much of them, that they must understand them, even though they do not desire to accept them. The will of the people has decreed that they are to be accepted; it is the duty of the present Government to see that they are placed on the statute-book, and they will be placed there. Previous Ministries in the Commonwealth Parliament have been, kept in power by parties holding different opinions. The present Government seek no assistance from any party holding opinions differing from their own, because they have a sufficient majority to carry out the will of the people as expressed at the general election. The policy of the Labour party is a policy of progress, a policy for the bettering of the conditions of the toiling multitude. Every Act they desire to place upon the statute-book has for its object the betterment of the conditions of the people who create the wealth of Australia. Their; policy is one which will give every man and woman .an opportunity to earn a fair and reasonable wage, and will make adequate provision for them in the declining years-.; of ‘then– lives. Many explanations have been given ‘ of Labour’s great victory in Australia-, but there is only one explanation of it, and that is that the young men of Australia, and the young women too, I am pleased to be reminded, are imbued with a great national spirit that must tend to the prosperity of the country. They do not care who makes the laws, so long as those laws are in keeping with the national sentiment, and are such as will enable Australia to take her place amongst the nations of the world. We want to break down the caste spirit which has made its appearance in this fair land, and which has proved detrimental to the progress of older nations. We wish to see our Australian sons fighting shoulder to shoulder in defence of this great nation. We have no desire that they should be divided by party differences, as they have been in the past. We wish that they should be united in the fighting line, and the legislation to be proposed by the present Government will tend to place them in that position. The son of the wealthy man, the curled darling of Toorak, or of Potts Point, will be asked to stand shoulder to shoulder in the defence of the country with the humblest . worker in the land. That is the policy of the present Government, and of the people, and it gives expression” to the sentiment we ‘desire to encourage in the young population of the Commonwealth. We desire that Australia should take her place amongst the nations of the world, remembering, at the same time, that the States we come from have certain rights. I stand here as an Australian, and the father of Australians; and my object in life is to better the condition of ‘ the Australian people, and to prevent them from becoming, as many in older lands are to-day, the victims of misery hard to conceive. We know that in our own Fatherland, of which we are so proud, the want of better and fairer laws in the early days of its existence, brought about a state of affairswhich we have no wish to see repeated in Australia. Young Australians have sent us into this Parliament for the express purpose of framing laws which will prevent that kind of thing in this country.We do not pretend that as a result of the advent to power of the present Government,. Australia will be saved in a- few weeks. Some of our opponents have said that the working men were looking for the benefits to follow the success of the Labour party on the Monday morning following the date of the elections. But they know better than that. The time has arrived when the people will not be led by the journals which have led them in years gone by. They have pronounced for a united and democratic Australia, and I verily believe that there are persons in this community and journals circulating in the Commonwealth who would prefer to see Australia’s progress retarded for years than to see the Commonwealth forging ahead under Labour rule. They remind me of the story of the old lady who was invited to witness the trial trip of the first locomotive. When she saw the mass of iron, she said, “ It will never go.” When steam was got up and the locomotive began to get warm, she still said, “ It will never go, it will never go.” But when it started with a bound, the old lady said, “ It will never stop, it will never, never stop.” That is how Labour legislation is regarded to-day. The people of Australia have charged us’ with’ the making of laws to better’ the conditions of the toiling multitude. It is not the desire of the Labour party to interfere with legitimate trade, but if any combination uses its power to crush out of existence any citizen who desires to compete with it, we think it right to interfere in the interests of the people, in order that they may obtain the products of the land at fair prices. We have seen the foodstuffs of nations gambled with by speculators who care nothing for the lives of the people, and whose only desire is the accumulation of wealth. Referring to the Governor-General’s opening speech, I should like to -say that in the reference to the death of King Edward VII., whose labours on behalf of the world’s peace and civilization will long the remembered, I think the Government have sufficiently expressed the views of the whole community. The items of the Government programme are numerous and of very great importance. On the subject of finance. I cannot help a feeling of keen satisfaction with the result of the recent referenda, and with the fact that the proposal which the Fusion Government advocated has been rejected, and that which the Labour party supported has received the approval of the people. It was said that the Labour party, if returned to power, would not keep faith with the States. I am glad to be able here to-day to give that statement a denial. I am glad to note the intention of the Government to carry out its pledge, and that for ten 3’ears, at any rate, the States are to receive 25s. per head of population as agreed upon between the States and Commonwealth Governments. The proposal to introduce a Bill to provide for the issue of State notes is one which has my hearty approval, because I was always of opinion that the national authority should have charge of the currency. We have been ridiculed by the press and by prominent men who have spoken of the failure of the proposed system in other lands, but they have not referred to the failure of the present system in Australia. They have not told the people -that to-day suffering working men who, a few years ago, placed the whole of their savings in some of our banks, have them locked up to this day. They have said that in a certain country under such a system £1 notes were worth only 13s. 6d. each, but I am able to say that deposits in a certain bank in Sydneyare to-day worth only 13s. 6d. in the £1. I believe that if the national authority takes charge of the currency, it will give the people very great satis faction. They will have confidence that if they deposit their money in such a banking institution as that which is to be proposed by the Government, they will have some guarantee that they will be able to get it again when they require it. It is a heartrending sight to witness old people clamouring for their money at the counters of the bank to which I have referred. Men, bowed with age, and who” have scarcely sufficient to live upon, have found that their deposits in that bank are now worth only 13s. 6d. in the £1. Our opponents do not tell the people these things, but we are aware of them. I trust that the people will no longer be fooled by the stories told of the failure of State note issues in other lands. Our opponents do not tell the people that a State note issue has been a success in one part of Australia where it has been in operation for over seventeen years. They say nothing of that. If it has been successful under the management of the .Government of a State, it will .certainly -be a success under the management .pf the ..National Government. , The’ proposal - is . one which has my hearty -sympathy; an.d support. No matter what opposition- may- be offered, we are prepared to show that the State note is a safe and sound currency to adopt. At any rate, we intend to give it a trial, and I am not afraid of the result. - When I was travelling through New South Wales I asked the people to give the Labour Government a trial. That they are doing, and I have no fear of the result. The Government will place upon the statute-book legislation which will be creditable to them. The bogy that the Labour party desired to confiscate and rob was burst on the memorable 13th April. Now I come to the plum of the Government’s proposals. Throughout Australia there “will be the greatest satisfaction at the Government’s declaration of its intention to lower the age at which old-age pensions shall be. payable to women, and to make provision for the payment of invalid pensions. That intimation will bring joy to thousands of homes in .Australia, and show the world what to expect from a Labour Government. For a number of years I have been a worker in Sydney, and no one knows better than I do the awful sufferings of our poor. It will be a glorious thing for a woman - for instance, a widow who has brought up a family, having, ‘perhaps, been left destitute in early life- to know that when she comes to the age of sixty years she will get assistance from the Government to help her in her old age.’ Let me cite the case of a woman being left with two crippled children, who have now reached the age of forty years. She has toiled and slaved to keep her lads from being placed in a charitable institution; but now she is laid low, and the neighbours take turns in keepingher family alive. The poor people in the neighbourhood have denied themselves some of the necessaries of life in order to provide for these destitute persons, but, because the widow is sixty-two years of age, she cannot ;receive Government assistance. As one of the workers in the community, I have known the trials and struggles of these unfortunate fellow-creatures, and I am thankful that the Government intend to reduce the age from sixty-five to sixty. The invalid pension is on a par with the oldAge pension. In a letter which I have seen, a blind man, who held a position in Melbourne for many years, pleads* with Senator Blakey to try to do something for * him, as he had been tipped into what he called “ the human rubbish heap of Australia.” Under the Old-age Pensions Act he is not yet old enough to receive Government assistance, and he pleads with, the Parliament of Australia to bring its invalid pension provisions ‘ into force by proclamation, so that he can receive some assistance. When these awful things are occurring in our land, and so many persons are laid low with poverty, we ask the Parliament of Australia to do something for their relief. We are not desirous of taking from any persons what they possess. But we hold that this land is rich enough in mineral and agricultural wealth to provide for every man and woman therein. That is all that we desire - that is what we are” going to do, and to do as quickly as possible. I do not intend to say much more, because we have other work to perform to-day. I would have liked an opportunity to speak a little longer, and to deal with other matters, because I speak from my heart in my own simple way. When, with my comrades, I addressed the people of New South Wales, we were boycotted. We could only speak to the few around the hotel balcony. But I believe that to-day an opportunity is given to myself and my comrades ‘ to speak to the people of Australia. I am speaking to them from my heart. I believe that we have a majority with us who think that something- should be done for the great toiling multitudes of Australia. With reference to the land tax proposals, I would like to say a few words. We know that the best lands of Australia are locked up, and are not giving their full value to the nation. Recently, it took me eight hourson one day to drive through one man’sland, and the next day it ,took me the same time to travel through another man’s land. On these estates there were only a few cattle, whereas there should have been a thousand families. Needless to say when a man owns a vast tract of .country, his name generally begins .with “Mac.” We are desirous of breaking up. these huge estates, because to the people this wealth belongs. We desire to make room for people. We, as well as any other party in this or any other Parliament, want Australia to be carrying its millions of population, but we are anxious to see them provided for before they leave their homes inother countries. We want the land to be made available. With a graduated land, tax, it will be necessary for the owners of big estates to break them up and let the people have an opportunity to win the wealth which lies therein. I shall, refrain from saying any more. I was desirous to speak at greater length, but I have been reminded that certain business has to be transacted to-day. I have very much pleasure in submitting the motion to the Senate.
.- In seconding the motion so admirably moved by my honorable friend, I desire to set an example to honorable senators. I intend to be brief, because I think that on a motion of this kind a good deal too much time is spent in making speeches.One of the most’ comprehensive and progressive policies which have yet been placed before the people of Australia is, I submit, embodied in His Excellency’s speech, and I trust that honorable senators will devote their entire attention to placing upon the statute-book, as soon as possible, the various. measures foreshadowed therein. You, sir, have probably heard of the Persian philosopher who said, “ Blessed are those who make short speeches, for they shall be invited again.” Being a great supporter of that philosopher’s belief, I intend to try to carry out his teachings. Quite recently one- of the biggest political struggles in the history of the- Commonwealth took place. From that struggle there emerged, as my ‘honorable friend stated, a decisive majority .of members pledged to one definite policy. I can quite understand that our honorable friends on the other side will support the return to the two-party system.
– No; we still have three parties.
– No, we have two parties.
– Ask the Leader of the Opposition.
– We claim that, inasmuch as the members of our party were elected on one policy, there is no such thing as a three-party system in the Senate to-day. A little while ago we had a fusion of two parties who were diametrically opposed, and the people of Australia have indicated what they think of that kind of procedure. At any rate, I feel sure that honorable senators opposite will help us to pass some of the legislation which is so much needed in Australia. I am pleased to note, sir, that it is proposed by the Government to carry the Financial Agreement into effect for ten years. The States are to receive 25s. per head of their population for that period, and the objectionable feature of the agreement - that is its insertion in the Constitution - will be entirely removed. The people have, I think, given a very decisive verdict on that subject. In Tasmania my colleagues and I had to fight the Financial Agreement to the death. It is therefore very satisfactory to me to be able to state to-day that it is not to go into the Constitution, and that this, the National Parliament, is not to be dictated to by six or seven State Premiers, who represent only a certain portion of the people of their States. I believe that, owing to the policy of the present Government, the cry of State rights will gradually diminish ; that under a Labour Administration we shall hear less of that often-voiced feature of elections, and it is a very objectionable feature too, and less of State members decrying the Australian Parliament, taking an interest in the Federal elections, stumping the country, and endeavouring, by every means in their power, to belittle that great Parliament. I hope that it will retain its supremacy, and that the decisive vote given on the 13th April against the Financial Agreement will result in enhanced prosperity for the Commonwealth. I desire to refer now to one of the most important items in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and that is the proposal to tax the big estates, with a £5,000 exemption. Many of us fought our campaigns primarily on that great issue. As Cardinal Manning once expressed himself, in a letter to Earl Grey, we believe that there is a natural and divine law superior and anterior to any human or civil law, by which people have the right to the fruits of the soil upon which they were born, and in which they will.be buried.
– Then you would have a periodical adjustment.
– Not at all.
– With every fresh generation you would want a fresh adjustment.
– Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” We do not need to concern ourselves too much about future generations. We want to concern ourselves with practical politics ; and that I claim the Labour party can do, and is doing. We have high ideals. We have often been attacked by the other side in reference to our policy “ in the clouds”; but I think that the policy enunciated in the GovernorGeneral’s speech is one which is eminently practical, one which is right down on the earth. I feel sure that that policy, if put into practical effect, will result in a much better condition of affairs for the whole of the people than that which now obtains. With reference to high ideals, Shelley wrote -
Sow seed, - but let no tyrant reap ;
Find wealth, - let no impostor heap;
Weave robes, - let not the idle wear ;
Forge arms, - in your defence to bear.
That quotation sums up very admirably the policy of the Labour party. I trust that, especially in regard to the land question, we shall succeed - and that speedily - in bringing into effect that legislation which the States have shown no disposition whatever to accomplish, namely, the adequate taxation of the big estates of Australia.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the £5,000 exemption?
– I do. I have been sent to this Parliament pledged to support the£5,000 exemption, and I intend to vote for it. But let me add that my State - the smallest State of the Commonwealth, the flower of the flock, so to speak, the State with the finest climate - has, perhaps, most to hope for from this policy. The sneer has been cast at us that we “go to sleep over there. But I think that on the 13th April we showed that we were not so sleepy as we were supposed to be. My honorable friends opposite, at’ any rate, will agree with me in that contention.
– They have gone to sleep now.
– Judging by the empty benches which I see opposite to me, I should say that they have. In Tasmania, 1,400 people own nine-tenths of the alienated land; that is to say, 1,400 people own nine acres out of every ten. We in Tasmania, therefore, certainly want to see the speedy imposition of a land tax. I hope, too, that the Commonwealth will make its own valuations. I believe that it will. It is absolutely necessary that it should. I contend that the Federal Government should have its own complete staff of valuators, because the land valuations at present are not at all accurate. They are not so high, in many instances, as they ought to be. Under our present system in. Tasmania, we penalize those landholders who are most industrious by taxing them at a greater rate than we tax those who do not improve their lands. The more a man does to improve -his land, the more the kind and beneficent State of Tasmania makes him pay. In Victoria much the same condition of things prevails. Even under that system the under-assessments are notorious. Many of our large estates are so valued that there is no chance of buying out the owners under the present assessments. Quite recently the Government of Tasmania decided to make revaluations. But that is not the point at present. The point for us is that the States of the Commonwealth have refused to tax land values adequately. They have had their opportunity. Year after year the party with which I have the honour to be associated has worked and battled in this cause. We have now been intrusted by the people of the Commonwealth with the duty of giving effect to it in definite legislative form. It is probably owing to the Legislative Councils in some instances that the States have refused to tax these enormous monopolies.
– The States were too bashful.
– I am afraid that the explanation is that there are too many large land-owners in the Legislative Councils. Those bodies were too conservative - perhaps that term best describes them. At all events, the States having refused to tax large estates adequately, the National Parliament is now going to do so. We are about to undertake the duty which the States have refused to take up. I believe, from the point of view of policy, that the land tax alone will be of such great benefit to the people of Australia that the members of the party to which I belong will still be in power in six years’ time.
– Where will some members of the Senate be in three years hence ?
– In three years’ time we, and” the Government which we support, shall, at all events, be here. I am not at all afraid on that score. I am very pleased to see on the Government programme a proposal to establish, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, an’ adequate Defence Force. We of the Labour party are not Jingoes. We do not go about wearing beautifully coloured neckties for the purpose of demonstrating our loyalty. We are not continually crying “ God save the King.” We do not consider it necessary to do so. We can prove our loyalty in better and more practical ways. We believe in cultivating a national Australian sentiment, and we have set about our task in that direction in an eminently practicable manner by proposing to establish an Australian Army, which will be effective for the defence of our country.
– We were the first to take effective steps in that direction.
– We, as I am reminded, were the first to do so. At present we have a force of 20,000 men. But our present system has been condemned by one of the highest military authorities- in the civilized world, namely, Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, as wholly inadequate for the defence of Australia. For an expenditure of double the amount of the present outlay, we hope to secure a Defence Force of considerably over 100,000 men instead of 20,000. We of the Labour party do not believe in war. We regard war as cruel, as brutal, as debasing, and as calculated to bring out the very worst instincts of mankind. But we do believe, as good Australians, in efficiently defending our shores and preserving our hearths and homes. I believe that the Bill for the defence of the country, when it comes before Parliament, will be seen to be an effective one. I hope that it will be brought into effect- speedily, so that a start may be made in training every able-bodied man in Australia, under the age of twenty-five, to take up arms in defence of his country if called upon. I should have been pleased, as a Tasmanian representative, had I seen in the Governor-General’s Speech an allusion to a proposal to make a special grant to ‘my own little State. I mention this matter without the slightest ‘ hesitation. Although I claim to be a Nationalist, yet I should have liked to see some step taken in that direction, because Tasmania is undoubtedly suffering severely. I do not intend to pursue the point at the present stage, but later on - at the proper time - I intend to say more about it. ‘ I trust that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will make up their minds to devote themselves to public business. There seems to be an idea abroad - and rightly, too - that too much- time is spent in talking in our Australian Parliaments, and, indeed, in every other Parliament.
– Parliament is the place to talk.
– It is the place to talk, in one sense, but it is also the place to work. If speech is silvern, silence, on many occasions, is golden. I trust, therefore, that honorable senators will devote themselves earnestly to business, and will push forward the legislation of the country.
– I was under the impression that we had been doing so.
– I should’ like to see more work done, and less time spent in talking, even by honorable senators on my own side.
– Especially on the honorable senator’s own side !
– Well, honorable senators opposite have not a monopoly of the virtues.
– Of course, the honorable senator’s party has !
– :We have a majority in the Senate, sent here by the whole of the people of Australia.
– We admit that wc have one or two redeeming vices over here !
– If honorable senators devote themselves to the work of the country, I am satisfied that they will contribute to the progress of the Commonwealth, and will further still more the attainment of our ideal of a free people in a free land.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
SUPPLY BILL (No. i),
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being proceeded with and passed through all its stages forthwith.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, under the circumstances, he will lay before the Senate particulars such as, I understand, have been placed before the other House, relating to the financial position of the Commonwealth on the 30th June last?
– Yes, I am prepared to do so as soon as the motion which I have submitted is carried.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
This measure is one providing for the granting out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of a sum for the services. of the Commonwealth for the year ending 30th June, 191 1. In submitting it, I desire to make a brief statement with respect to the financial position of the Commonwealth at the present time. We’ are now asking for one month’s Supply, amounting to £.744.-33t- Everything provided for in. the Bill is based upon last year’s Estimates. “It will be remembered that the late Treasurer anticipated a deficiency at the end of the financial year of £1,200,000. I am pleased to say that, owing to the prosperity that has been shared in by almost all the ‘ people of Australia, the receipts from Customs and Excise have exceeded the estimate of the previous Treasurer by £800,000. Of that sum, £200,000 was an increase in the share of the revenue that was to be participated in by the Commonwealth. > I. may also state that the estimate of revenue by the previous PostmasterGeneral has ‘ likewise been exceeded by £180,000. I may also state that, from various causes, the actual expenditure has fallen short of the amount anticipated by a previous Treasurer by £370,000. Adding these sums together, it will be seen that they represent a total of “£750,000. Deducting that sum from the estimated deficiency of ,£1,200,000, there remains a deficiency of £450,000. Seeing that we are faced with a deficit of only ,£450,000, in lieu of an estimated deficiency of £1,200,000, I think that everybody has reason for congratulation. So far as the administration of the present Government is concerned, I think we may be credited with having made an effort - and a successful effort - to enter upon the current financial year with that deficit without borrowing money from any quarter, either inside or outside the Commonwealth. That is all that I desire to say at the present juncture. I know that honorable senators are anxious to see this Bill carried .rapidly through all its stages. I may add that we hope, in the future, to afford them ample opportunity of discussing the Administration, and the proposals of. the Government on the various Bills and the Estimates which will be submitted for their consideration.
– The figures which have been put forward by the Vice-President of the Executive Council - and for which, personally, I desire to thank him- seem to reveal a slight error, and I should like him, before the debate closes - if my view be correct - to rectify that error. I understood the honorable gentleman to say that there had been a reduction in the expenditure of £370,000, and an increase inthe revenue to which the Commonwealth is entitled of £200,000, thus making the Commonwealth £570,000 better off than had been anticipated.
– There have been two increases in the revenue, one of - £200,000, and another of £180,000.
– I thank the VicePresident of the Executive Council for his explanation. I was under the impression that the total improvement in the revenue was covered by the £200,600. Under the circumstances, I think that the Government are entirely justified in asking honorable senators - even without affording them an opportunity of looking into the Bill - to pass it. We all know that, owing to circumstances arising out of the alteration effected in the date pf the general elections, it was - almost impossible for the Senate to meet before 1st July this year, otherwise we should have been confronted with a number of honorable senators who, although legally entitled to take their seats here, would not have been qualified to act on behalf of the electors. Consequently, the Government have done what was right. But I do not think that their action on the present occasion ought to be regarded as a precedent. What is being done now is being done by the grace of the Senate, owing to the peculiar circumstances in which the Government have been placed. I wish now to draw special attention to one item, namely, the Treasurer’s advance. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that, in this Bill, the Government merely ask for supply for the ordinary month’s services. In making that statement, he was scarcely correct. The advance vote to the Treasurer contemplated under this Bill is larger than has ever been asked for previously.
– I will explain that matter in Committee. I would have explained it in moving the first reading of the Bill, but that I desired to be brief.
– The Government are not asking - as is usually done - for an amount sufficient to cover the ordinary expenditure for one month. They are asking for a cheque for £250,000, to be expended as they may think fit. I would like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to give us some idea of the purposes for which this large amount is required during the present month. There must be some reason for it, and I invite him to state what the reason is for the information of the Senate.
– -If there be no objection, I will at once reply to the inquiry of the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable senators will recognise that within ‘ the last year or two we have embarked upon an entirely new policy. That policy has been indorsed, not only by the people of Australia, but also by the Imperial Government. I refer to the construction and maintenance of a naval force of our own. In giving effect to that policy, there has recently been laid in Great Britain the keel of an armoured cruiser for Australia-, and it is because of that fact we are now asking for a larger sum than usual on account of the Treasurer’s advance.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council mention how much will be required in that connexion during the current month ?
– I was coming to that. Within the next few days, I understand - probably, by Monday or Tuesday - we shall require to pay an amount of £70,000. Before a second Supply Bill can be passed, it will be necessary to pro- vide for the payment in London of an additional £140,000. It is to enable the Treasurer to meet these obligations that we are asking for a sum of £250.000, by way of Treasurer’s advance - an amount £50.000 in excess of that which has ever been asked for previously. Honorable senators know that in almost every Supply Bill introduced at the commencement of a session, a sum of money has been voted on account of the Treasurer’s advance, and that sum has included provision for the whole year. Seeing that these large amounts will be required in connexion with naval construction, I have every reason to believe that the Senate will vote the sum which we seek. I would have made this statement at an earlier stage, but that in order to convenience public servants and honorable senators, I desired the measure to be put through all its stages as speedily as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.25].- I listened attentively to the explanation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to the large amount which it is proposed to vote by way of Treasurer’s advance. It will be perfectly within the knowledge of honorable senators that Parliament has from time to time voted a sum of money under this heading for the purpose of meeting unforeseen expenditure. Indeed, the Treasurer’s advance is strictly intended to meet unforeseen expenditure only - that is, expenditure which cannot be forecasted at the time the money is voted. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us that £70,000 out of the £250,000 which we are asked to grant to The Treasurer will be a progress payment towards the construction of a man-of-war to which the Commonwealth is committed. Personally, I think it would have been very much better had the Government included that item in the -schedule.
– The total expenditure will be much more than £70,000..
– I am well aware of that. But the question which we have to consider is :” How much well be required during the present month? If it can be forecasted that a sum of £70,000 or £100,000 will be needed during this month in connexion with the construction of a battleship cruiser, it would be well for the Senate to be placed in possession of the facts. ‘
– The only difference between the proposals of the late Government and that of the present ‘Ministry is that the latter will not borrow.
– That is not the question. The. money has to be paid, irrespective of whether it is borrowed or appropriated put of revenue. At this stage I do not wish to discuss the ingenious method by which the Government propose to borrow a large sum of money without being called upon to pay interest upon it.
– Not an ingenious method, but an honest one.
– The honorable senator cannot deny that it is an ingenious method. I think it is well that we should follow, for once, the old beaten track ; consequently, I hold that it would have been better to have embodied the expenditure in connexion with naval construction in the schedule of this Bill as a separate item. I believe that the sum of £250,000 is the largest sum that has ever been sought by way of Treasurer’s advance.
– But we have larger responsibilities now.
.- I am well aware of that. But I would point out that there still remain eleven months within which the Government can come down to Parliament and ask for an appropriation of £50,000 or £150,000 byway of Treasurer’s advance. Whatever we may do in the matter of the expenditure of public money, we ought to do by a specific vote. I repeat that the Treasurer’s advance vote should be used only to meet expenditure which cannot be forecasted at the time the grant is made. If a contract has been let for the building of an ironclad for Australia for .£2,000,000, there is no doubt that that contract contains ah indication of when the money needed in connexion with its payment will be re-‘ quired. That being so, the Government should have adopted the course of coming to Parliament and pointing out when its commitments would fall due.
– Progress payments are required.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - By that means, we should exercise a better control over the finances of the country than can be exercised if we grant ‘the Treasurer enormous sums of money, which may or may not be expended in the way we desire at a particular juncture. Of course, I am not imputing motives to the Government in regard to the expenditure of the £250,000 . which is proposed by way of Treasurer’s advance. No doubt the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that £70,000 will have to be paid for naval construction within a. few days, and within a little time, possibly, another , £70,000, is perfectly true. But why should not honorable senators know the purposes for which they are asked to vote this money? In the interests of good government,’ Parliament should be permitted to exercise the fullest possible control over the finances. By placing such a large amount at the disposal of the Treasurer, opportunities are afforded to Governments to enter into’ obligations to which Parliament might not care to see the country committed. This £250,000 may be expended in any way that the Ministry may think fit. For instance, they may enter into another contract, and pay £50,000 as an instalment upon it. The Parliament could not then turn its back upon the Government; and it becomes particularly the province of Parliament to be careful in such a matter when, as in the present case, the Government have a large majority behind them. The majority might be supporting the Ministry upon great matters of principle which they regard as vital to the welfare of the community, and they would not be likely to condemn them, even though they should disapprove of a vote of this kind, since they might regard it as a matter of small moment when compared with the importance of continuing in office a Government prepared to carry out’ a certain general policy.
– They would not keep the Government in power if the money were wrongly spent.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am putting a case in which it would be possible that a Government might, in the opinion of the majority, spendthe money wrongly - I do not say dishonestly - and might so commit the country to a course of action which the majority might not like to see carried out. T(he majority might not object in such a case, because the defeat of the Government would mean the defeat of the policy they were returned to give effect to.
– The policy of the present Government is the policy of the people.
– ‘That is just the argument I have submitted. A majority in this Parliament has been returned to support the general policy of the Government, and yet, in dealing with such a matter as that to which I am referring, the Government might make a mistake, and do something which Parliament could not approve. I shall not dwell upon the matter longer, as honorable senators are anxious to . get away, and desire before doing so, to make provision for’ the different public services. It is right and proper that, in the circumstances, a Supply Bill should be introduced at this stage; but I have thought it well to direct attention to what I believe to be the initiation of a very dangerous precedent in the voting of money without adequate control by Parliament. I think we should not vote sums towards the Treasurer’s advance account, which are intended to meet expenditure which might have been provided for by specific votes on the Estimates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The second reading of the Supply Bill having been passed, we should now, under the Standing Orders, go into Committee, to consider it in detail. As this is the commencement of the session, and. we have, so far, no Chairman of Committees, I desire that the omission shall be remedied, and I have great pleasure in moving -
That Senator O’Keefe be appointed Chairman of Committees of the Senate.
– I beg to second the motion.
– I should like to say that honorable senators on this side will be glad to have Senator O’Keefe in the Chair.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
High Commissioner’s Office - Historical Records - Postal Commission - Cable Services - Treasurer’s ‘ Advance..
– Before calling on the first clause of this Supply Bill, I” wish to tender my thanks to the members of the Senate for the confidence they have ‘ expressed in me in placing me in this honorable and responsible position. I have only to say I trust I shall be able to give the same satisfaction in the position as has been given by those who filled it before me. I feci assured that I shall. have the assistance of members of the Senate, no matter on which side they sit, in endeavouring to carry out the duties attached to the chair as they should be carried out.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
– I think we should get some information from the Government as to. how much the High Commissioner’s office is likely to cost. So far as we can gather from the schedule, Sir George Reid ‘appears to be making a splash already. I notice that no less than . £4,075 is being asked for contingencies, and the total sum we are asked to vote under this Bill for the High Commissioner’s office is , £6,880. Perhaps the Minister representing the Department of External Affairs could give the Committee some estimate of how much the High Commissioner’s office is likely to cost during the current financial year.
I4-37]. - Imay state, for the information of Senator Stewart, that the vote to which he refers contains nothing new. It is based upon the Estimates passed’ last year. If at any time the honorable senator cares to submit any question connected with the High Commissioner’s office, I shall have very great pleasure in obtaining for hire the information he desires.
– I direct attention to a vote of £20 for the collection of Australian historical records. I do not know whether the Minister is in a position to give the Committee any information with regard to that vote. I am aware that we have made a considerable collection of historical records, but it is provided for under the vote for the Library. A sum of money is provided for the purpose under that vote. I should like to know whether the vote of £20 to which I refer is intended to secure anything in particular.
– The vote referred to by the honorable senator is for the collection of historical records abroad. It is not a new vote. I have no doubt that any information the honorable senator desires in connexion with it. can be supplied later.
– Is the vote intended’ to meet the expenses of some one in England who is, perhaps, paid a small salary for looking up Australian records, or is it a sort of stand-by in case we might desire to secure some particular records?
– That is so.
– I take advantage of this opportunity to ask for some specific information as to what has happened to the’ -Postal Commission. Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General’s Department give the Committee anything like a definite assurance that we shall receive the report on the working of that important Department, and, if so, can he say when we are likely to receive it? I think there is a reference to itin the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and Ministers are. aware that the matter involved is likely to provoke great discussion. I should like to know when the report isto be submitted, so that honorable senators on both sides may have an opportunity to thoroughly consider it.
– I may state that the Postal Commission is at: “present very busily engaged in formulating its report, and it is anticipated that it will be ready at a very early date.
– I should like some explanation of the discrepancy in the charges to the various States in connexion with cables. I notice that New South Wales is charged £8,000, Victoria , £7,600, Queensland £8,000, and the other States other amounts: I point out that whilst Queensland is charged , £8,000, Victoria, with three times its population, is charged less. I should like to know whether these votes have any connexion with the new proposal for subsidizing some cable service to the extent of about , £2,000 a year.
– I. am sure that the honorable senator does not expect me to be able, at a moment’s notice, to give him the information for which he asks. If he will put a question on the subject in the usual way, I shall be very pleased to secure the information for him.
– I happened to be absent from the chamber when some references were made on the second reading- of the Bill to the amount of the Treasurer’s Advance. I should like to know whether any of the proposed vote is to be used for the purpose of completing contracts entered into under the Naval Defence Act.
– If the honorable senator had listened to the few remarks which were made by Senator Gould, he would have known what the phrase “Treasurer’s Advance “ means.
– I was not in the Chamber at the moment.
– A vote is always taken in a Supply Bill for the purpose of enabling the Treasurer to meet any emergency. Seeing that large sums will have to be paid within the next few days- certainly within the next few weeks - it was thought necessary by the Government, to ask for a larger vote, so that the Treasurer may. be in a position to make those payments when due. The items will appear in the ordinary Estimates, and can be dealt with by every honorable senator.
– That -is scarcely an answer to my question.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until
Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 4.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100701_senate_4_55/>.