4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 1) presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Acting Clerk.
– I ask leave of the Senate to move the adoption of the report which has just been read.
– I should like before assenting to the honorable senator’s request to know why, the practice hitherto prevailing in the Senate is to be departed from on this occasion. I do not wish to offer any objection, but honorable senators who have previously been members of the Senate will know that the practice followed has been for the Chairman of the Printing Committee to give notice on one day that he would move on the following day the adoption of the Committee’s report. In the circumstances, I should like Senator Henderson to give some explanation of the unusual course he now seeks to follow.
– Ihave asked leave’ to submit the motion in this way because of the possibility of an adjournment of the Senate; otherwise I should not have done so. By leave I move -
That the report of the Committee be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Census and Statistics Act 1505-
Trade, Shipping,; Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the months of -
September, 1909. - Bulletin No. 33.
October, 1909. - Bulletin No. 34.
November, 1909. - Bulletin No. 35.
December, 1909. - Bulletin No. 36.
January, 1910. - Bulletin No. 37.
February, J910. - Bulletin No. 38.
March, 1910. - Bulletin No. 39.
April, 1910. - Bulletin No. 40.
Population and Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the quarters ended - 30th September, 1909. - Bulletin No.
31st December, 1909. - Bulletin No. 18.
Population and Vital Statistics.: Commonwealth Demography, 1909, and previous years. - Bulletin No. ig.
Population and Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the Year 1909. - Bulletin No. 20.
Transport and Communication. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the Years 1901 to 1909. - Bulletin No. 3.
Production. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the Years 1901 to igo8. - Bulletin No. 3.
Finance. - Summary of Australian Statistics, 1901 to 1909.. - Bulletin No. 3.
Social Statistics as to Education, Hospitals, and Charities, and Law and Crime, for the Year 1908. - Bulletin No. 2.
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth of Australia : No. 3. - 1901-1909
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Cluden, Queensland : Defence Purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
The Acting Clerk laid on the table -
Return to Order of the Senate of 7th July, 1910 -
Post and Telegraph Department : Mail and Despatch Officers in each State on 30th June, 1906, and- 30th June, 1910.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, or his honorable colleague, Senator Findley,if he represents the Department concerned, if any action has been taken with regard to the Brennan Mono-Rail ? It was generally understood that a previous Government had taken some action to acquire for the Commonwealth certain rights in the invention. I should like to know if Ministers are prepared, or are at liberty, to disclose to the Senate and the public the present position of affairs between the Commonwealth Government and the inventor of the mono-rail.
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– I intended to ask a question bearing upon that which has been asked by Senator Keating, but as the Minister is not prepared to reply to one he might not be able to reply to the other.
– Might I say that I shall include in the question of which notice shall be given for the next day of sitting a request for information as to any possible arrangements that have been made by the Government with regard to aeroplanes also.
– The question I desired to ask in connexion with the mono-rail was whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council is aware that a statement has appeared to the effect that the mono-rail system has been adopted, and a contract let under it, in India, and in Alaska, I believe. I wish to know also whether the Government will take steps to secure the most reliable expert advice as to the practicability of adopting the system for the proposed transcontinental railway.
– In answer to Senator Rae, I may state that I have had newspaper reports read dealing with the question, and I can assure him that any steps in the matter which can be taken in the interests of the Commonwealth will be taken.
asked the Minister representing the’ Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable senator’s question, I may say that inquiry is being made from the Railways Commissioners, and a reply is expected within a few days.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,upon notice -
In view of the proposed alteration of the scale of telephone rates and charges -
Whether the Postmaster-General proposes to introduce into the Commonwealth for use in connexion with subscribers’ telephones a sufficient supply of instruments or machines for accurately checking and recording telephone calls?
If so, when?
Will such instruments or duplicates of same be available to subscribers upon their premises as is the case with meters for analogous services ?
If so, will it be at the cost of subscribers or of the Department?
If at the cost of subscribers, at what cost?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I should like to ask the Minister if on the next day of sitting he will supply the following information to the Senate : - (1) The number of telephones in each State. (2) The number and names of the telephone exchanges in each State, with the number of subscribers connected with each. (3) The number and names of metallic circuit exchanges in each State. (4) The number and names of multiple switchboard exchanges in each State, and the time when it is estimated the exchanges of the Commonwealth will be uniformly installed as far as switchboard systems are concerned. I am not asking the honorable senator to supply the information to-day, but I should be glad if he will endeavour to secure it by the next day of sitting, or as soon thereafter as possible.
– I shall do all I can to convenience the honorable member, and supply information in respect of the matters he has mentioned, but I point out that the honorable senator appears to be asking for a return.
– Arising out of the first answer given by the Minister, I should like to ask him whether the report of the Accountants’ Committee upon the telephone branch of the Postmaster-Gene ral’s Department refers to the places where the instruments mentioned in Senator Keating’s first question are installed.
– I ask the honorable senator to put his question in the usual way. I shall then be in a position to furnish the information he desires.
– Can the Minister tell me whether I shall receive a reply before the new rates come into force?
– I will endeavour to give the honorable senator the information if he will submit a question formally to-dav.
– I wish to ask whether there are any proprietary or contractual rights to bind the public with regard to telephones, and by means of which users might be exempted from the operation of the proposed new scheme of telephone rates?
– I think that that is a fresh question, and should be asked on another day. The honorable senator, can, when the adjournment of the Senate is moved, address a question to a Minister, or ask for leave to give notice of the question.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the administration of the Patents Act 1903-1909, the Trade Marks Act 1905, and the Designs Act 1906.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Petherick collection.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to parliamentary witnesses.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the table of the Senate showing -
The total quantity of molasses produced in the several States of the Commonwealth during each of the two years ending 30th June, 1908, and 30th June, 1909, respectively, and the quantity estimated to be produced during the year ending 30th June, 1910.
The total quantity imported into the several States from abroad during each of those years.
The imports and exports respectively of molasses between the several States during each of the same periods.
The quantity of Australian and foreign molasses respectively used in the several States for the manufacture of spirits of all sorts.
The quantity of molasses, Australian and foreign respectively, used in the several States for purposes other than the production of spirits, specifying such purposes.
– I move -
That standing order No. 34 be suspended to enable the appointment of an additional member of the Library Committee for the present session.
It is not intended to do anything affecting the privileges of any honorable senator in connexion with the suspension of the standing order in question. The point is that under standing order 34 the Senate can only appoint seven of its members to serve on a joint Committee. The House of Representatives, however, has chosen eight members of the Library Committee. As this is an important Committee, it is thought desirable that the Senate should have an equal number of representatives upon it. The only way to secure that end is by carrying this motion. It is also the desire of those who have been concerned with the subject that an honorable senator who takes a very lively interest in literary matters should have a place on the Library Committee. I refer to Senator Symon.
– Is there equal representation of the two Houses of the Legislature on all other joint Committees?
– As far as I know this is the only case in which there is a difference.
– My reason for objecting as I did, to the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is”’ that, in the absence of an objection either by myself or some other honorable senator, no explanation would have been forthcoming as to why standing order 34 should be suspended. Even now I fail to see why it should be suspended.
– Oh, oh.
SenatorW. RUSSELL.- It is all very well for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to laugh. But I would ask, “ What is the need for this hurry?” Cannot the matter be allowed to stand over till our next day of sitting? I do not like to agree to the suspension of any standing order unless there is an absolute necessity for adopting that course. I do not know how often the Library Committee meets - whether it be once a month or not - but if the motion were deferred till our next sitting day no harm would be done to anybody.
– If the honorable senator does not object to the “appointment of an additional member to the Library Committee what injury will result from agreeing to the motion now?
– If honours are to be divided amongst the members of the Senate why should the names of two or three honorable senators be found frequently appearing upon Committees whilst the names of others are entirely ignored? I strongly object to the adoption of the motion, which has been brought forward apparently for the purpose of currying favour with an individual. So far as my colleague, Senator Sir Josiah Symon, is concerned, I say at once that he is an able man, who is well fitted for a position on the Library Committee, but I think that his appointment should be permitted to stand over until the Senate next meets. I hope that the Government will be true to their colours and true to their own party, as well as to other honorable senators.
– Surely the honorable senator is not going to make this a party question?
– I am not, but I repeat, that no harm will accrue from deferring the consideration of this motion till our next day of sitting. Whether that will be to-morrow or three weeks hence, God only knows.
– The motion which has beensubmitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council has caused me to consult our Standing Orders, with a view to ascertaining the practice which has been followed heretofore. Those orders reveal to my mind rather an extraordinary position. Standing order 34 reads -
A Library Committee, to consist of the President and six Senators, shall be appointed at the commencement of each session, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
That standing order not only limits the number which the Senate may appoint to the Library Committee, but also decrees that that Committee shall sit with a similar.
Committee appointed by the House of Representatives. Yet I find that last session there were eight members appointed to the Library Committee by the House of Representatives.
– But did the Committee sit?
– I decline to believe that Committees are appointed which do not meet at some time or other. But the point to which I wish to direct special attention is that standing order 34 decrees that a Library Committee, consisting of seven honorable senators, shall be appointed, and shall sit with a similar Committee appointed by the House of Representatives. Yet the fact remains that the Committee appointed by the Senate in a previous session sat with a Committee appointed by the House of Representatives, which was not similar from the stand-point of numbers. The sole object of the Vice- - President of the Executive Council in moving this motion, is to permit of the appointment to the Library Committee of a number of honorable senators equal to the number of. members appointed by the other branch of the Legislature.
– If it be not a party question why should the exact number in each House be rigidly observed ?
– My honorable friend must ask those who approved of the Standing Orders. If those orders are not to the liking of honorable senators the remedy is in their own hands. But whilst we have Standing Orders to govern our procedure we ought to make at least a pretence of adhering to them. Notwithstanding that a similar standing order in the other branch of the Legislature provides for the appointment of a Library Committee consisting of seven members for some reason or other it has appointed eight members. That is a most unbusiness like way of doing things. If the other House chooses at any time to violate its Standing Orders it is at liberty to do so. But the moment it does so, by appointing an additional member to one of its Committees, is the Senate to immediately violate its Standing Orders by appointing an additional member to a similar Committee ? I wish to ask whether the matter ought not to be brought under the notice of those who can speak for both branches of the Legislature? Surely there ought to be some definite understanding in reference to the appointment of these joint Committees. In the absence of such an understanding Committees may be appointed which are so strong numerically as to become absurd. We are now asked to indorse a practice which is extremely undesirable, because if we can break one standing order with impunity we can break all our Standing Orders.
– I join with those who have protested against the suspension of standing order 34 as proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. We must recollect that our Standing Orders were adopted no later than last year for the guidance of the Senate. They were adopted after very careful consideration on the part of a Committee appointed for the purpose, and after full discussion by honorable sena 1 tors. Those Standing Orders are absolutely useless, if, at the sweet will of a Government, they may be suspended and departed from. It appears to me that the Ministry have committed a blunder by failing to include Senator Symon upon the Library Committee. Now they coolly ask us to sanction the suspension of this standing order so that they may rectify their blunder.
– That is not the reason that was given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. -
– He endeavoured to make it appear that two wrongs make a right.
– I am not concerned with what takes place in another Chamber. Honorable senators have enough to do to mind their own business.
– We have no business to mind.
– I may have a word or two to say upon that matter by-and-by. I strongly protest against the continual suspension of the Standing Orders. I have no objection to the inclusion of Senator Symon in our Library Committee. On the contrary, I say that he possesses in art eminent degree the qualifications necessary to make him a useful member of that body. But I am not going to assist the Government to play ducks and drakes with the Standing Orders merely for the purpose of allowing them to rectify a blunder which they have committed.
– As one of the newlyappointed members of the Library Committee^ I cannot support the motion which is now under consideration. I recognise that anerror was made by failing to appoint Senator Symon to the Library Committee. By that omission’ we have lost a very valuable member of that body.
– It would be a simple matter for the honorable senator to resign’ in favour of Senator Symon.
– Rather than support the suspension of the Standing Orders I am prepared to tender my resignation as a. member of the Library Committee in order to permit of the appointment of Senator Symon.
– It is more or less clear that a breach of its own Standing Orders has been committed by the other Chamber in appointing its Library Committee. I therefore think that it would not be out of place if we were to frame a resolution drawing attention to that breach, and leave it to you, sir, to report further upon the matter. I am not inclined to agree to a suspension of standing order 34 now that it is clear that the difficulty arose through the other House neglecting or failing to observe an explicit standing order. We should certainly take the step of going to the origin of the error, and asking that it should be corrected rather than suspend our own standing order. Great care was given by the Senate in the preparation of its Standing Orders, but the very first thing which it is asked to do this session is to suspend a particular standing order, and the only reason given for making the’ request is that apparently the other House has made a mistake. You, sir, are the proper authority to draw the attention of that House to the error, and I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would be acting wisely if he were to invite you to try to get the mistake corrected before we take any action either with regard to suspending the standing order, or to making a fresh appointment to the Committee.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) £3.12]. - For three years I sat on the Library Committee with Senator Symon, and nothing would please me better than to see him reappointed to it. I was very surprised to find that he was left off this session. This discussion is not limited to the Library Committee, because a similar position exists in connexion with the House Committee. In the last Parliament the other House appointed a House Committee consisting of eight members, although its standing order on the subject provides for the. appointment of the Speaker and six other members. We cannot balance the representation on the Library Committee, because we find that the other House has one more representative than has the Senate, unless we take a similar course in connexion with the House Committee. I think, sir, that it would be a good thing if you would make suitable representations in the proper quarter, so that this breach of a standing order may be rectified, or if there is always going to be a breach of its standing order by the other House, we might consider the propriety of altering our own rule.
– I agree almost entirely with what Senator St. Ledger has said, but I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition that we ought to make a pretence of observing our Standing Orders.
– You are not even doing that; it is something to get you up to that point.
– I would sooner disregard the Standing Orders than make any pretence of observing them. Whilst the method which is proposed by Senator McGregor is an admirable one up to a certain point, we would reach our limit before the other House did. A more businesslike way would be to call their attention to the evident error which has been committed. Otherwise it appears clumsy to me to rectify one wrong by committing another.
– It seems to me that too much stress has been laid on the use of the word “ similar” in the resolution appointing the Library Committee. I do not speak from a recent acquaintance with the Standing Orders of the other House, but it is assumed that “ a similar Committee from that House “ means a Committee equal in number to our own.
– Their standing order provides for the appointment of tha Speaker and six other members.
– I said that I did not speak from a recent acquaintance with the Standing Orders of the other House. It may be that they .have committed a wrong in appointing eight members to their Library Committee. The absence, pf Senator Symon would, I feel absolutely certain, be a considerable loss, not merely to the Library Committee but to the Parliament.
– I have offered an easy way out of the difficulty.
– Yes ; and I must congratulate the honorable senator upon his courtesy and self sacrifice in having done so. Senator Symon’s association with the Library Committee commenced with the inauguration’ of the Parliament. If we remember that that Committee has been responsible for collecting what is practically the only national library in Australia and getting the nucleus “of that which will be a national library when the Parliament finds its home in the national Capital, and if we also remember the interest, the enthusiasm, and the energy which the honorable senator has displayed in relation to everything connected with the Committee, and the amount of solid valuable advice which he has been able to give to its members, it will be recognised, I think, that his absence from that body would be a distinct loss. If by any reasonable means his omission from the Committee, which appears to have been due to an unfortunate accident on this occasion, can be rectified, I think that the Senate will be well advised in supporting any proposition, consistent with the existence of established rule and principle, which will insure his return to a body to which I think he has appropriately belonged.
– Mr. President, shall I be in order now in tendering my resignation from the Library Committee, or shall I have to give notice of it?
– I have received the honorable senator’s resignation, but it cannot be announced during this debate.
– I do not wish th’e debate or the vote of the Senate to be influenced by anything of that description.
.- I trust that the motion will not be persevered with. The suspension of a standing order is a simple matter, but the breaking of a standing order is a different thing. We are asked to set aside a rule which has been made for the guidance of the Senate.
– For the present ses- ‘ sion only.
– That is all that we can deal with. I hold that it would be wrong for the Senate to commence the session by breaking a rule which has been made for its guidance. 1 trust that the motion will not be persevered with, no matter who is to be appointed to the Library Committee. If the other House likes to break its rules that has nothing to do with the Senate. I hope that we shall not set a bad example because the other House has done wrong.
Motion (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to-
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Mr. President, ii> view of the discussion which has just taken place will you confer with Mr. Speakes in reference to this matter for the guidance’ of honorable senators?
– This morning I asked Mr. Speaker if he knew why the other House had appointed an additional member to its Library Committee, and hetold me that he did not know why it wasdone. He said that a motion was proposed there and agreed to.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In submitting the measure to the Senate, I am introducing a very old friend. Under section 69 of the Constitution Act, theCommonwealth has power by proclamation, to take over from the States posts and telegraphs, defence, lighthouses, lightships,, beacons, buoys, and quarantine. By proclamation, the Commonwealth has takenover defence and post and telegraphs, and* it has taken over quarantine to a very considerable extent by Act of Parliament. For various reasons it has been thought advisable to also take over lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys by Act of Parliament.. We have the power, as I have stated, toproceed by way of proclamation, but it is anticipated that if that course were adopted a great many difficulties and differences of opinion might arise. It was felt that by negotiations under this Bill, ocean lights, and beacons might be taken over and that the more contentious question of taking over harbor and other lights could be left to another time or another Bill, or even to proclamation. If we pass a Bill to take over certain lights that will not take away from the Commonwealth the power by proclamation to do anything else when it hascome to a definite conclusion in that direction, nor will it take away from the Commonwealth the right by another Bill ta take away from the States, harbor lightsand other marine marks which might not be considered as ocean marks. The number of lighthouses of this description to be taken over by the Commonwealth is approximately 120, and the cost of maintenance is about ^60,000 a year.
Since the establishment of Federation the State Governments have in this matter been in a condition of uncertainty, and though some additional lights and marine marks are absolutely necessary for the safety of vessels around our 8,000 or 9,000 miles of coast-line, the State Governments have hesitated to incur the expense of their erection, because they were in doubt as to when the. Commonwealth might issue a proclamation to take them over.
– They would be paid for them if they erected them.
– That is so, but the honorable senator must be aware that where two parties are concerned in a matter involving expense, there is always hesitancy to take action until some definite arrangement between them has been arrived at.
– Whose duty will, it be to put up lighthouses in the future?
– It will be the duty of the Commonwealth to erect new ocean lights. It is suggested that twelve new ocean lights are necessary. Four are required on the Queensland coast, four on the coast of Western Australia, and one on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania respectively. The necessity for the erection of these ocean lights, to secure the safety of vessels navigating our waters, is a strong reason why something definite should be done in this matter as soon as possible. We know that divided control may be very inconvenient and unwise, but we have under existing conditions a diversified control of marine lights and marks. The position is a go-as-you-please in each State, and there is no uniformity in their control.
– Each State is responsible for its own coast.
– Consequently it is thought well that, in the interests of ships navigating around Australia, some definite course should be adopted. This Bill, if carried into law, will enable the Commonwealth to carry out improvements that are really required, and will give the Commonwealth Government an opportunity to give effect to an understanding come to with the State Governments for the transfer to it of ocean lights. The way will be left open to us to -come to an agreement with respect to all other lights and marine marks. It is not desired to raise any conflict with respect to the definition of an ocean light, a harbor or river light, or a marine mark of any description, but we want some definite understanding on the subject that we may com mence really necessary work of this kind as soon as possible. The Bill is a short one of sixteen clauses. It provides for definitions, administration, and the takingover of marine marks from the different States, and the control of the lighting of the whole of the coast of Australia apart from harbors and rivers. Penalties are provided for any violations of the law.
– Will the honorable senator say whether the Bill differs from the Bill of last session in any particular?
– There is no difference in principle, but in clause 15 there is a slight verbal alteration. In the Bill introduced previously, penalties were provided for in clause 15 for riding beside a light, or mooring to a light or marine mark. There was nothing said about obstructing such a light or mark, and the only alteration in this Bill as compared with that previously considered in the Senate makes the obstruction of a light also an offence against the law. Senator Millen will agree that if the other matters included in clause 15 as offences are legitimately so regarded, provision for a penalty for the obstruction of a light should also be included in the clause. Clause 16 provides for the making of regulations. I hope that honorable senators will discuss the. second reading fairly, and will endeavour to get the Bill through Committee, so that if possible we may be able to adjourn this evening until the 3rd August.
– - I desire to make only a few remarks on this Bill. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has intimated that to all intents and purposes it is the same as the Bill passed in this Chamber last session. I assume the only justification for the step now taken is that, owing to the termination of one Parliament and the commencement of another, it was not possible to revive the Bill of last session at the stage which it had previously reached in the Senate. In the circumstances, it would be useless for honorable senators on this side to discuss a Bill with which they have already dealt. Of course, there are new members in the Senate, who, unfortunately, sit on the wrong side of the chamber, and they may desire to discuss the measure. No one on this side will desire to delay its passage.
– Because it is their own party bantling.
– I do not know that it can be described in that way. The measure was originally introduced under happier auspices than exist at present. I cannot help expressing a hope that the present Government will not be faced with the same strenuous opposition to certain clauses of the Bill that the previous Government met with when they introduced an exactly similar measure. If I recollect rightly, I think that you, Mr. President, subjected certain portions of the measure to adverse criticism, as did some other honorable senators.
– I protest against the principles of the Bill now.
– The honorable senator cannot do so, because upon a previous occasion he said that it contained no principle. I remind the Senate that certain honorable senators were in the last Parliament so strongly opposed to the Bill when introduced by the previous Government, that they forced the Senate to a division upon it on three occasions. I do not know whether they intend now to be consistent and continue their opposition; but I can say for honorable senators on this side that they are quite content to accept the Bill as it stands..
– As the Leader of the Opposition has just said, there was in the last Parliament considerable opposition to this Bill, because, while under it the Commonwealth is asked to take over certain marine lights and marks, we do not know just what it is we are being asked to take over. We were told that there is in this matter a certain agreement with the State Governments.
– Not an agreement, an understanding.
– This Parliament knows nothing whatever about that understanding or agreement. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told us to-day that, approximately, 120 lights are to be taken over. I say that we have a right to be informed what lights are to be taken over, and what are to be left in the hands of the State Governments. We have a right also to know on what conditions any lights are being taken over.
– The honorable senator should know that they will be taken over under the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act.
– One of the difficulties is that the men employed in these lighthouses to-day will be liable to be transferred from one light to another, and we do not know that there will be uniform conditions for the men engaged in the lighthouses in different States. We do know, however, that in some of the States the lighthouse-keepers have to put up with conditions which are no better than those of the sweated dens of Melbourne.
– Does the honorable senator not know that the Federal authorities will provide uniform conditions in connexion with all the lighthouses brought under Federal control?
– I do not know that they will.
– The present Government might not do so.
– I am almost certain that the Federal Government will not do so. Uniform conditions have hot been provided for in the case of other Departments of the Public Service taken over by the Commonwealth, and in some of them the old conditions of State management have been continued.
– To which Department does the honorable senator refer?
– I could mention the Quarantine Department.
– That has only recently been taken over.
– No, it was taken over two years ago, and the officers are still under the old conditions.
– The honorable senator admits that the conditions are bad for the men employed in lighthouses to-day.
– Does the honorable senator think they will be worse after the lighthouses have been transferred to the Commonwealth ?
– Men may be transferred from a State where the conditions are fairly good to a State where they are bad, and they will have to put up with it. That is one of the difficulties. We have power under the Constitution to take over all lights.
– That would not overcome the difficulty the honorable senator mentioned.
– It would to a considerable extent. Men have been kept for years at sea in a light-ship bobbing up and down all the time, and have been looking forward to some promotion to a harbor light, and under this measure they may be transferred to a separate service altogether, and denied the promotion they expected.
– The world must go round.
– If the honorable senator had been kept bobbing up and down in a light-ship for years, he would be glad to go ashore at some time or another, shall not oppose the Bill. The Opposition and the Government are in accord as to the desirability of passing it, but I say it will be a mistake to pass it. I lodge my protest against the proposed partial taking over of lights, beacons, and buoys. They should not be taken over under an agreement such as has been suggested, or by asking the State Governments what lights they were prepared to transfer to the Commonwealth. It might be expected that they would give us all their bad lights, or lights which involve trouble and expense, and keep those which could be most easily managed. Again, honorable senators should consider what the effect of this Bill will be upon shipping. If the measure is passed, shipping will be hampered by having to pay Federal light dues as well as State light dues, and it will add to the expense of the collection of light dues from ships using Federal and State lights. The Bill is a bad one, and the present Government should not have touched it at all. It would have been better to have delayed legislation upon the question until the whole matter had had full consideration.
– I cannot understand the attitude taken up by Senator Guthrie on this measure. I do not see why he should object to the Commonwealth taking over the control of the ocean lights of Australia.
– Which ocean lights?
– The whole of them.
– No ; we are informed that only 120 are to be taken over.
– We have been informed that all lights outside harbor lights or port lights are to be taken over. 1 admit that there may be some difference of opinion as to the correct definition of a harbor light. But these matters cannot be provided for in a Bill. Senator Guthrie himself, when the Navigation Commission drew up its report, saw the advisableness of the Commonwealth taking over ocean lighthouses such as are provided for in this measure, and leaving other lights to the control of the States. That being so, I cannot understand his opposition to what is proposed to be done. As to the status of lighthouse-keepers, it is safe” to say that they will be no worse off under Commonwealth control than they are under the States. The officers of other Departments that have been taken over by the Commonwealth have benefited materially from the change. If at present any lighthousekeepers are being sweated I should . think that that was a very good reason for the Commonwealth taking over the lights of which they are in charge.
– Why not take over all of them?
– Under this measure it is proposed to take over all ocean lights.
– No, only what the State Governments agree to our taking over.
– It is proposed that the Commonwealth shall take over all ocean lighthouses, and they are all that the Constitution gives us power to take over.
– It gives power to take over the whole of the lights concerned with navigation.
– It does not give us power to take over harbor lights. Senator Guthrie himself subscribed to that proposition when he signed the Navigation Commission’s report. I will read the paragraph in order to refresh his memory. The Commission reported -
The expediency of taking -over the lighthouses, beacons, and buoys, except those within the limits of ports, is, we think, unquestionable.
– That is another thing altogether.
– The Commission went on to say -
The witnesses were unanimously in favour of this course, and we recommend its early adoption. As to the powers of the Commonwealth to take over the control of harbor lights, beacons, and’ buoys, there seems to be some difference of opinion.
The Government are anxious to avoid any dispute as to our powers. They are proposing to do all that we have power to do. What is in dispute we can leave for another time. We should be sure of our ground before we go further. The Royal Commission went on to say -
Assuming that the Commonwealth has the power, we still consider that no good purpose is to be served at present in removing the lights, beacons, and buoys in harbors from the control of the States.
Surely these are very clear reasons.
– But the Bill saysthat the Commonwealth is to take over whatever lights the States like to hand over.
– That is in conformity with the exceptions referred to by the Royal Commission.
– Where does the honorable senator find it laid down in the Constitution that we have not the power to take over harbor lights, buoys, and beacons ?
– I simply say that the Royal Commission reported that there is a doubt on the subject, and that Senator Guthrie subscribed to that report.
– Some of the witnesses had a doubt; that is all that I subscribed to.
– Yes, and seeing that there is a doubt it is well to be on the safe side.
– There is no restriction under the Constitution.
– The Royal Commission looked carefully into the matter.
– There is no qualification as to harbor lights or otherwise in the power given to us under the Constitution.
– But the control of harbors is left to the States. Those harbors require certain lights for the proper working of them. Even though those lights may be wanted for navigation purposes they will also be required for purely harbor purposes. Consequently it would appear that the Commonwealth has not control of every light used in connexion with shipping. We have a right to take over all lights affecting navigation, and that is as -far as this Bill proposes to go. I hold that it is quite a waste of time and effort to offer opposition to a measure that clearly assumes all the power required for taking over ocean lights, seeing that the Navigation Commission which was specially appointed to inquire into the subject has recommended this course.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses i to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
This Act shall be administered by the Minister for Trade and Customs or other the Minister for the . time being administering the Department of Trade and Customs.
– It seems to me that, the word “ other “ is surplusage. The clause would read just as. well if it were omitted. I move -
That the word “ other line 2, be left out.
– The phraseology adopted in this clause is to be found practically in every Bill dealing with the administration of Departments ; and while I cannot advance a reason for the use of the word “ other “ where it occurs, I feel satisfied that there is some reason for it. The word does nc* harm, any way, and taking it out may be a. mistake.
.. - It is only consistent with the positiongenerally occupied by my honorable friend opposite to urge that, because a thing hasbeen done, it is right that it should continue to be done. There are many obsolete phrases in Acts of ParliamentMany are so old-fashioned that they arepractically unintelligible. Let us havestraightforward English as it is understood! to-day.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Light dues to be paid).
– - Has the Vice-President of the Executive Council any information to give as to the approximate revenue to be derived from lights, beacons, and buoys when taken over by the Commonwealth? Whilst: this is considered to be one of the unproductive branches of administration, I presume that there will be some revenue.
– It is a productivebranch.
– Only in one State p in five States there is a loss.
– It would be of extremeinterest to others who, like myself, havenot heard the subject discussed before, to know what the dues amount to, and what the cost of administration is.
– Senator Rae will understand that as the administration of lighthouses has been under the control of the six States in the past, and the regulations in each casewere different, it would be very difficult to state what the light dues amount to. The clause under consideration provides that the clues shall be fixed by regulation, and collected by Customs officers. They will beprescribed on the recommendation of officers who will take care to obtain sufficientinformation to enable them to fix rateswhich will bring in an income approximating to the cost of administering and maintaining the lights. The information will, of course, be furnished to Parliament, and’ will be at the disposal of honorable senators.
– Speaking from memory, when this; measure was last before the Senate, it was stated that the cost of maintaining thelights which it was proposed to transfer to* the Commonwealth was ,£63,000 a year. The revenue, I think, was a little less than that.
– That included harbor lights as well as ocean lights.
– I was under the impression that those were the figures with respect to the lights to be transferred, and that the intention was that within reasonable limits the service should be made self-supporting.
– I wish to emphasize what I have already said in reference to the uncertainty which obtains at the present time. Those honorable senators who are acquainted with the conditions which have existed in the different ports of the various States, must recognise that, in some of those ports, everything has been done to attract trade. In some instances the light dues have been so small that they have not paid, and, in others, they have been so mixed up with harbor dues, pilotage fees, Stc, that it has been almost impossible to obtain an accurate idea of what they really were. I entirely agree with the view of the Leader of the Opposition that these charges should be so adjusted as to make the service self-supporting, and to afford protection to the sea-going people around our coasts at as reasonable a cast as possible.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 16 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
– I move -
That the report be adopted.
– I desire to ask you, sir - seeing that an amendment has been made in the Bill - whether it is competent for the adoption of the report to be moved except upon notice? I think that our Standing Orders provide that notice must be given in cases in which any amendment has been made in a Bill.
– I find that the Leader of the Opposition is right, and that our Standing Orders provide that in all cases in which an amendment has been made in a Bill notice must be given of the motion for the adoption of the report. I therefore move -
That the Bill, as reported, be considered on the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till
Wednesday, 3 August
– To say that I was amazed to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council move this motion is to use language of a very mild character. I did hope that even at the eleventh hour he would not have submitted such a proposal, and that the Senate would have met next week as usual.
– To do what?
– If the Leader of the Opposition will restrain his impatience for a moment I will suggest what might have been done. Inter alia, I may say that only the other day he was very anxious that the business of the Senate should be so arranged that honorable senators would not be brought here to face constant adjournments. In discussing the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply he expressed the hope that the businesspaper would be so arranged that, at a later stage of the session, we might have a lengthy adjournment, so as to enable representatives of distant States to pay a visit to their constituents. He was not present on the following day when I heartily indorsed that view, and when I added that I hoped a reasonable adjournment would be agreed to only after we had done some work. Since I have been a member of this Chamber I have always opposed unnecessary adjournments.
– Is this adjournment an unnecessary one?
– If I did not think so I should not oppose it. I well remember the 15th September of last year, when Senator Millen occupied the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council. The Fusion Government had then just come into power.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake.
– He asked for an adjournment for a fortnight, until 29th September. The motion was opposed by the then Opposition, whose members considered that the Government ought to have been able to present Bills to the Senate to keep it at work.
– That was only three fir four days after the Government had been formed.
– When the Fusion Ministry was formed, as the result of the Fisher Government being summarily relieved of their responsibilities, they announced, through the press, that, they had a policy prepared. But immediately the Senate met it was found that they had no business to proceed with, notwithstanding that the Government policy foreshadowed several measures which might well have been initiated in this Chamber.
– A Government policy, and the measures to give effect to it, are iwo different things.
– A debate took place upon the motion submitted by- the then Leader of the Senate and several Labour members protested against the proposed adjournment. A division resulted in fourteen votes being east in favour of the motion, and eleven against it. Amongst the noes I find the names of Senators de Largie, Findley, Givens, Guthrie, Henderson, Lynch, Pearce, E. J. Russell, Stewart, Turley, and myself. If we were right in opposing that adjournment on the ground that the Government should have had in readiness Bills to give effect to its policy, I am equally right in opposing the present adjournment, seeing that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech outlines certain Bills which might well be initiated here.
– Does the honorable senator realize what the illness of the Minister of Defence means?
– I am making this speech, and not Senator Long. I quite recognise that we shall miss the services of the Minister of Defence for the next three or four weeks, and I am sure that in voicing my sorrow at his absence, I am merely expressing the sentiments of every member of this Chamber. Had Senator Pearce been present, I have no doub’t that we should have been able to proceed with “the consideration of the Defence Bill. But has it come to this : That because one member of the Government has the misfortune to be stricken with illness, the Senate must, at the very inception of the. session, adjourn for three weeks ?
– Does it make any difference whether it is at the beginning or towards the end of the session when we adjourn ?
– Yes. The Navigation Bill should be ready to proceed with.
– The Minister of Defence was to have introduced that measure.
– The Navigation Bill might well have been proceeded with. Of course, it is possible that some international complication may be involved in it, of which I am not aware; but if so,, it is time that it was removed, and that the Bill was presented to this Chamber. Again, we are told in the Vice-Regal deliverance that it is proposed to push forward legislation affecting trusts and combines.
– Is the honorable senator endeavouring to inconvenience the Opposition or the Government?
– I do not think that that question is a legitimate one. I am not here to inconvenience any one, but because I sit behind the Ministry I am not bound to slavishly support every motion which they may submit. I am making my protest in all sincerity.
– Let us have a little opposition, even if it comes from our own side of the Chamber. There is no life in the Opposition.
– Whilst I am prepared to make every allowance to the Government on account of the indisposition of the Minister of Defence, I submit that Bills which might be initiated in the Senate ought to be ready to be proceeded* with now. The Government have already been ten weeks in office, which is a longer period than the Deakin Government had been in power when their action last year in moving for a fortnight’s adjournment was challenged. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I oppose this motion because measures ought to have been in readiness to keep the Senate occupied. If, after those measures had been dealt’ with, it had been found a few weeks hence that we were without work, owing to the other Chamber being unable to keep pace with us, I should then have welcomed an adjournment, which would have afforded honorable senators an opportunity of visiting their different States, and of remaining there for a few days, in order that they might get into close touch with their constituents. To me this is rather a surprise motion.Certainly, it has been bruited abroad that the Senate was going to adjourn, and every motion which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has submitted to-day has contained a reference to the next day of sitting.
– I thought that all these matters were settled in that ghastly caucus?
– We have not had the spectre on this occasion. I hope thai the Vice-President of the Executive Council will reconsider his position. I do not suppose that the defeat of the motion would mean the downfall of the Government. He certainly ought to have had Bills ready for the Senate, when he would not have felt called upon to move for a prolonged adjournment after having sat for only eight or nine hours in all.
.- I join with Senator Needham in protesting against the proposed adjournment, which I consider the Senate should not be called to assent to at this stage of the session. It is said that there is no business to go on with, but I remind honorable senators that the first reading -of three Bills was carried here to-day, and that their second reading was set down for the next day of sitting.
– Which are the Bills?
– The honorable senator is just as well acquainted with the Bills as I am, but evidently he wants to get the information into Hansard, and I am quite willing to oblige him. This afternoon the Senate read a first time a Bill relating to the administration of the Patents Act, the Trade Marks Act, and the Designs Act, a Bill relating to the Petherick Collection.
– Which is not ready.
– If the Bill is not ready, how is it that it was read a first time to-day ?
– It was not read a first time, nor was it introduced.
– Another Bill which was read a first time was a Bill relating to parliamentary witnesses. Even if there are no Bills ready for consideration to-day, it was the duty of the Government to have Bills ready for the Senate to deal with. There is a very important Bill which has been before the Senate, off and on, for six years. The Navigation Bill was first introduced here six years ago. The shipowners and the seafaring people have been awaiting its enactment during all these years.
– It wants a good coat of paint now.
– The Bill has been shelved and hedged round with all sorts of precautions, but for one reason or other the Government are not ready to go on with it to-day,.
– The Government are not ready to go on with the Navigation Bill which was submitted to honorable senators last year.
– I intend to say a few words about” that matter directly, and possibly the honorable senator will not like them too well. The Navigation Bill was referred to a Royal Commission, which examined many witnesses in a very exhaustive fashion, and presented a report. Next we had an Imperial Conference in London in connexion with the measure, and we got a report from our representatives. A measure, based on the conclusions of the Royal Commission and the Imperial Conference, was introduced into the Senate last session, and partially dealt with. Unfortunately, it was not finally dealt with. But the Government have that Bill in their possession.
– It was not finally commenced.
– The Bill was dealt with up to a certain point in Committee.
– We passed seventeen clauses out of 400.
– If the honorable senator says that that was not a partial commencement with the Bill, what is a final commencement anyhow? In my opinion, the very initial act was a final commencement. The Government has that measure as a basis to go on. I am informed on the best authority that there are not more than fifty amendments contemplated by the Government or their advisers. Is it too much to expect that the Minister in charge of the Bill, with the aid of the Attorney-General and the Crown Law officers, should have been able to draft fifty amendments in a measure which is already in print in less time than they have had at their disposal? The Government have been in office for ten weeks; they have found time to attend various functions, and it was not too much to expect from them that they would see that the Bill was ready for the Senate, because, after all, to make fifty amendments in a Bill of which they had a very clear idea was not a task beyond the powers of their officers to accomplish in a week. Seeing that they have been either too lazy or too neglectful to deal with the matter in a business-like fashion, so as to provide work for the Senate, I intend to vote with those who object to the proposed adjournment. I shall do so as a protest against the dilatory action of the Government and the way in which they are treating the Senate. In the mind of any person, especially in the minds of some members of the other House, and also of some Ministers, there seems to be nothing but a feeling of contempt for the Senate. They are continually voicing that feeling. If we are going to allow any Government, I care not what Government it is, to treat the Senate in that fashion, we shall deserve all the sneers which may be levelled at us. It is for that reason that I have always protested against unnecessary adjournments, and will take every opportunity to vote against them.
– It seems to me that, in existing circumstances, the Government are perfectly justified and right in moving for an adjournment. On the notice-paper there is absolutely no business which can by any stretch of the imagination be deemed sufficient to keep the Senate occupied for the next two or three weeks.
– Will the honorable senator say that there is no business which ought to be on the notice-paper?
– I shall come to that point presently. Last week we were detained for four and a half hours. Is it reasonable to expect men to come from their homes, especially from homes in very distant States, for the purpose of putting in four and a half hours at legislative work? That is reducing the whole thing to a farce. 1 submit now, as I pointed out on the Address-in-Reply, that a much more businesslike method for handling the affairs of the country would be for the Government to push on with whatever business it can bring forward, and then to propose an adjournment for a reasonable period. I am very glad indeed that the Government do not want to keep us hanging about performing the goose-step, and pretending to be at work when there is no business to be done, merely for the sake of keeping up appearances. But, apart from that, the question arises whether there ought to be a need for the Senate to adjourn at all. Perhaps I cannot do better than ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to the time to which Senator Needham referred. On the formation of the last Government, which had been in existence only four days, when it met the Senate and asked for an adjournment, in order to prepare a programme, there was an immense outcry of indignation from the Opposition benches. We were told that we should have had ready for the Senate not only our policy, but Bills giving expression to it, and by division honorable senators sought to curtail the adjournment. After the recent election the Deakin Government did not remain in office for a single day longer than suited the convenience of Mr. Fisher and his colleagues. We afforded to those gentleman every possible opportunity to get their measures ready for early presentation to Parliament. We vacated office, leaving the way open to our successors to ‘ step in and get their measures ready… That occurred ten or eleven weeks ago, but what is the result ? We are met here to-day with a frank admission by the Government that, in spite of the ample opportunity afforded t) them, there is practically no work yet prepared for the Senate to do. I regret that fact. I regret it, first of all, because J am here. For the last three weeks I have been here prepared to go on with work, and I shall be here when there is work to be done. No one who looks at the matter impartially can fail to recognise that the Senate has utterly disappointed the hopes of its friends. It is not taking the place which it was designed in the Constitution’ to take, nor is it likely to do so if such procedure as this is to be the hall mark of every session. I speak now as one whose public career will probably end as a member of the Senate. I have hoped almost against hope that, in some way or other, it would endeavour to pull itself out of the bog into which it has wandered. I look to the present Government with a strong majority, and represented by three Ministers here, to do something in that direction. It is quite true that one Minis ter is absent from his place. I do not want too much to be made of that fact. There is no honorable senator who is more sympathetic towards Senator Pearce, or any other man stricken in health, than I am. But it is not fair for honorable senators on the other side to plead that it is because of his indisposition that the proposed adjournment is necessary ; it is rank hypocrisy to say so. The fact is that there is no business ready for Senator Pearce or other Ministers -to proceed with. If fifty Senator Pearces were on the Treasury bench, the necessity for the proposed adjournment would still exist. If the measures were ready, we have two Ministers prepared to go on with them ; but no measures are ready.
– There has been ample time to get the Navigation Bill ready.
– There are plenty of other measures which could have been prepared. It is, I am sure, disappointing to old and new senators that at the end of the third week of the session we have not done one solid day’s work. No man can pretend that we have done a single day’s work since we met, and yet we are called upon to adjourn. That is regrettable. At the same time, I wish it to be clearly understood that I entirely support the Government, seeing that they came down with’ an admission that they have no work ready for us. It is very much better that they should say to honorable senators, in the circumstances : ‘ ‘ We think it better to close the doors of the Senate until we have some business which can reasonably occupy your time.”
– I certainly deplore the’ difficulty into which the Government have got, not only themselves, but the Senate. But after my honorable friend’s explanation, I cannot say that our personal position in the Senate is very much clearer. Supposing that we resisted the proposed adjournment, and carried the motion, who would take on the business of the country when the Government are unprepared with business?
– The honorable senator would have no objection to take it on.
– Not at my present emolument. If Senators Needham and Givens, and the two senators who have 10 strongly brought their own Government book, can give us an assurance that if the motion be carried they will be prepared to go on, not with Government business, but with some business which is of equal importance to the country ; if they will say that during the recess they have so assiduously studied the political position that they have some urgent measure so perfected in their own minds and ready for -presentation to the Senate that they can go ton with business, we may be able to extricate ourselves in that way from the difficulty in which we find ourselves. I am reminded by the position into which the Senate has got itself of the maxim of a “French philosopher, “The. more things change, the more they are the same.” It is astonishing how a change of position brings about a change of sentiment and opinions. We are evidently in the unenviable position of having to choose between n close, association with His Satanic Majesty and jumping into the sea, a particularly disagreeable Hobson’s choice. I am afraid that, in the circumstances, we shall be obliged to accede to. the request of the Government, and accept the adjournment. When this particularly strong Government, composed of men of magnificent talent, enthusiasm, and ability, with an interval of over ten weeks from the time their predecessors handed over their offices to them, have been unable to find any work for the Senate to do, I might be permitted to improve the present occasion by asking how long it is likely to be be fore they will be ready to ask the Senate to go on with the business of the country.
– Of course. I regret very much that circumstances have prevented the Government from at least bringing before the Senate the measure that was the stalkinghorse of so many Governments in the past - the Navigation Bill. A great many changes will require to be made in the text of that Bill before it can be introduced to the Senate again. We know the progress that was made with this measure in the past. The Senate took nearly six years to consider less than eighteen clauses. If it took six years to consider eighteen clauses in the condition in which the Bill was originally introduced, how many years would it take the Senate to consider 400 clauses if the Bill still remained in that condition? That is a problem to which I should like Senator St. Ledger to apply his mathematical mind. The reason we have not brought the Navigation Bill before the Senate up to the present time is that we are endeavouring to make it so acceptable to honorable senators that instead of taking another six years to consider eighteen of its clauses, the Senate will be able to dispose of 476 clause’s in less than six weeks.
– At the rate the Government are going now, it will take them six years to get the Bill ready.
– It is better that the Government should do their work in connexion with the Bill properly, and so enable the Senate to deal with it expeditiously, than that the Government should do their work in a slovenly fashion, and the Senate should have to take years to correct it. There are other aspects of this question to be considered. No one on this side has a right, and I am sure no honorable senator opposite desires, to blame the Minister of Defence for any delay in the bringing of measures before the Senate.
– No one has blamed the Minister of Defence.
– These things have been mentioned, and the public are given the impression that there is some reason for mentioning them. Business would have been gone on with if it had been ready. I ask Senators Needham and Givens to remember that a large proportion of the measures referred to in the policy of the Government are of such a character that they could not be introduced in the Senate, and I direct their attention also to the fact that those are the very measures which are of the greatest urgency. Do they desire that the Government should manufacture some kind of Bills for the Senate to play with, or to occupy the time of honorable senators? If they do, I hope the Government will not accede to any request of that description. When Senator Needham was so earnest and emphatic in his denunciation of the laziness, or whatever he termed it, of the Government and the officers of the Senate-
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– Both Senator Needham and Senator Givens said some very queer things about the action of the Government in this respect.
– The difference between us and other honorable senators is that we say here openly and publicly what others are saying outside.
– Measures of the greatest urgency have just been introduced in another place, and it was only yesterday that the debate on the Address-in - Reply was concluded In that Chamber. If measures of urgency introduced in another place could be got through rapidly, they would very likely be ready for the Senate next week. But I took the precaution, adopting a suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition, to make inquiries so that any adjournment decided upon might be of sufficient length to meet the convenience of the majority of members of the Senate. I should like to ask those who are objecting to the adjournment proposed whether it is not better that we should adjourn until the 3rd August, to suit the convenience of honorable senators, when by doing so, we shall have business to go on with when we meet again? Would honorable senators who are objecting to the proposal which has been made, have us adjourn for only a week, to come back and find that there was still no business on the paper, when, by prolonging the adjournment for a few days more, we might return to take up the consideration of a full business-paper? Some reference has been made to items at present appearing on the business-paper, and I direct the attention of Senator Givens to the fact that the Bill for the transfer of the administration of patents, trade marks, and designs is a Bill of only one clause. Does the honorable senator think that the Senate should take as long over that as it took to deal with eighteen clauses of the
Navigation Bill? The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill has already been passed by the Senate, and is brought on again for the same reason as that which made it necessary for us to again submit the Lighthouses Bill. Does not Senator Givens and other honorable senators believe that it is better that we should leave these Bills on the business-paper until we come back after the proposed adjournment than that we should come here again to-morrow to consider them.
– The Government should have had other Bills ready to go on with.
- Senator Needham has a great deal of knowledge on the subject, but when he was asked what other Bills he could suggest he could mention only the Navigation Bill.
– What about the Bill in reference to the Nationalization of Monopolies ?
– That Bill will be introduced in another place.
– It should have been introduced here, and would have kept us going.
– There is another thing I should like to direct the attention of Senators Needham and Givens to, and that is that when we had an Opposition in the Senate the debate on the AddressinReply used to last for a fortnight or three weeks. On this occasion only three members of the Opposition spoke upon the Address-in-Reply. I am not sorry for that, because it is more in the interests of the country, of honorable senators, and certainly of the Government, that we should adjourn for three weeks than that honorable senators should come here to talk nonsense for three or four weeks on the AddressinReply. I have proposed an adjournment until the 3rd August because we have no business at present to go on with, because it would suit the convenience of the majority of honorable senators not. to meet again before that time, and because thereafter we shall be in a position to do the business which needs to be done in the interests of the country.
Question - That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday, 3rd August - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received the following letter: -
I hereby tender my resignation from the Library Committee.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– After question time to-day, you, sir, reminded me that I might put a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral on the motion for the adjournment. The question that I desire to put, has reference to a statement published in the Argus, commenting upon the new regulations to be enforced by the PostmasterGeneral. It was stated that the regulation would not apply’ to telephones as to which there were certain proprietary rights. I gather, therefore, that there are exceptions to the regulation which is to come into force on 1st September, owing to the fact that all the telephones in this country are not under the control of the PostmasterGeneral. I should like to know whether that inference is correct; and, if so, to what extent there are proprietary rights which will not be affected by the new regulations?
– The position is this : Regulation 34 makes provision for those persons who have proprietary rights in telephone instruments and wires. I am informed that there are about£5,000 worth of such instruments and wires in the Commonwealth, most of them being in New South Wales. Those Tights were obtained anterior to Federation. With those exceptions, all telephones and telephone subscribers will be affected by Regulation 7a.
– In view of a suggestion which I made this afternoon when the matter of the appointment of an additional’ member to the Library Committee was under discussion; I have tendered ray resignation as a member of that body. I wish to say a few words in explanation. When my name was suggested for membership of the Library Committee, I felt that that was the Committee on which I should most like to be; because I thought that membership of it afforded an opportunity for a vast amount of interesting work in connexion with the building up of the Commonwealth Library. But it appears that through an oversight, Senator Symon’s name was omitted when the Committee was constituted. I recognised that the absence of that honorable senator would mean a great deal to the Library Committee. I, therefore; thought that the best way out of the difficulty was to tender my resignation. I know that Senator Symon has taken a keen interest in the Library from the inception of this Parliament. I have resigned because I wish to give him an opportunity to continue his services, whilst, at the same time, I did not wish a standing order of the Senate to be violated.
– Would it not be well for the honorable senator to suspend his resignation until after the conference between the President, Mr. Speaker, and the Government?
– I think that I have taken the right course.
– Senator Needham has acted from generous motives in tendering his resignation from the Library Committee ; but I think there is wisdom in what Senator St. Ledger has suggested. This is not a Government matter. It is simply a matter as between the members of the Senate. Those who took in hand the arrangement of the sessional Committees, endeavoured to get the best representatives on each Committee in accordance with their judgment. When a difficulty occurred with reference to the motion which I submitted at the beginning of to-day’s sitting, it Was hoped that a conference between the President and Mr. Speaker would enable a suitable arrangement to be made. I know that
Senator Symon has a desire to serve again on the Library Committee, in whose work he has taken such a keen interest. But it is hardly fair for Senator Needham to tender his resignation until we know what it is proposed to do in reference to the representation on the Committee of another place. If, when we meet again, the Senate is prepared to carry my motion, no harm will be done, and Senator Needham will remain a member of the Committee, in company with Senator Symon. I am afraid that he has acted with youthful impetuosity ; but he need not be in so great a hurry. He is aware that what has occurred is simply the result of an unfortunate error. If the attempt to arrive at a suitable understanding fails, there will then be time for Senator Needham to tender his resignation.
– A similar difficulty occurred three years ago, when my name was mentioned in connexion with the membership of another Committee. I got out of the difficulty by leaving myself in the hands of the Senate. I strongly indorse what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said; and think that Senator Needham might leave himself in the hands of the Senate:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100714_senate_4_55/>.