4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire leave to make a statement regarding the introduction of a Bill to amend the Customs Act in certain directions.
– The Bill, although non-cent entious, is important, because it deals generally with smuggling, and matters of that kind. I desire to obtain a suspension of the Standing Orders to enable me to get leave to introduce the measure to-day, and move its first reading, with a view to fixing its second reading for to-morrow, otherwise it will not be possible to have the Bill printed and circulated today. I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the introduction and passage through all its stages without delay of a Bill for an Act to amend the Customs Act 1901.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Customs Act 1901.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council noticed the following cablegram regarding a lecture at Birmingham University by the High Commissioner?
Lecturing yesterday, Sir George pointed out that every nation aimed at maintaining the integrity of its national character. Therefore, without a thought of offensiveness, but with a feeling of genuine respect for the Japanese and Chinese, he maintained that Australians were justified in trying to reproduce a country such as the Homeland.
A world-wide cry was for cheaper meat, and when the barriers were removed, Australia would have the opportunity of supplying millions.
The Commonwealth’s progressive land tax would, he asserted, bring millions of fertile acres that were now locked up into cultivation.
Sir George also eulogized Australia’s manufacturing, industrial, social, and political status, and maintained that she had done more towards the settlement of disputes by means of’ arbitration than any other country.
Can the Minister tell the Senate whether this is a true bill or whether something has gone wrong with the wires?
– I noticed the statement in the newspapers, and, so far as I am concerned, I am willing to believe that it is a true bill.
asked the Minister re presenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
In another communication the Admiralty advised that, subject to the system selected being able readily to communicate with H.M. ships and to inter-communicate with any other system in use, the Commonwealth may adopt what system they please, and need not confine themselves to any one system exclusively.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the fact that there are Australians who have their own systems which are supposed to surpass either the Telefunken or the Marconi system ?
– I am aware that there are wireless systems, the invention of Australians in Australia at present. But I am not in a position to say whether those systems are superior to any others.
– Have they received consideration ?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– In reference to the answer to the second question, which I understand was that the Department was informed that there were delays with the other stations, may I ask if the informants were the tenderers for the Telefunken system.
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– Notice of a question cannot be given now.
asked the Minister re presenting the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral at Hobart has furnished the following information : -
Senator FINDLEY laid upon the table the following papers -
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 -
Amendment (Provisional) of General Regulations - Sunday Arrangements (Postal), Statutory Rules 1910, No. 97.
Amendment (Provisional) of Money Orders Regulations, Statutory Rules 1910, No. 102.
Lands Acquisition Act1906 - Kerang, Victoria ; Rifle Range Purposes - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Call of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That Government business, Orders of the Day, Nos.1, 2, and 3, be postponed till to-morrow.
– I have no objection to the postponement of business to meet the convenience of the Government in this connexion, but I foresee that if the course proposed be followed, we shall land ourselves in a very serious difficulty. The first Order of the Day relates to a call of the Senate. It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that we suspended the standing order which compels twenty-one days’ notice of a call of the Senate to be given, in order to permit of that call being made for today. The call having been deliberately made for to-day, I hold that we cannot disregard our decision by postponing it till to-morrow. There may be some honorable senators who will be out of reach tomorrow, and I claim that the call of the Senate, if postponed to-day, will not be valid to-morrow. This is. a very important matter. The Bills in reference to which the call has been made relate to proposed amendments of the Constitution, which are vital, and consequently we ought not to incur the slightest risk of rendering invalid any action that we may take. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to take this question into his serious consideration. Whilst the call of the Senate may be postponed till a later hour of the day, I submit that it will not be valid if it be postponed till to-morrow. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council may urge that, as we have suspended the Standing Orders in regard to it, a postponement of the call will be valid. But I would remind him that we have suspended the Standing Orders only to the extent of dispensing with the twenty-one days’ notice which is required under them. I believe that the safer course to adopt will be to postpone the call until a later hour to-day. I strongly deprecate postponing it till tomorrow.
– I have not the Hansard report of Friday’s proceedings beside me, but I am under the impression that upon that day a request was made by the Leader of the Opposition that an opportunity should be afforded the Senate to postpone the call which had been fixed for to-day until tomorrow, in order to convenience certain honorable senators who may not be present to-day. I quite understand the point which has been raised by Senator Givens that the Standing Orders were suspended to enable the call to be made for to-day. But in view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition pointed out that certain honorable senators may not be able to attend to-day, is it not possible to postpone the call until to-morrow?
– I am not raising the objection.
– I am quite aware of that. Certain honorable senators may be under the impression that the call will not be made to-day. I have no desire to transgress any of our Standing Orders. As a matter of fact, I do not object to the call being made to-day. But it is scarcely fair to blame the Vice-President of the Executive Council for having intentionally disregarded the Standing Orders.
– Honorable senators will realize that the question of a call of the Senate is not a constitutional one. There is nothing in our Constitution which relates to a call of the Senate. Standing order 280 provides -
The Order of the Day for calling overthe Senate on a future day shall be set down as the first Order of the Day for the day so appointed.
Standing order 281 says -
When the Order of the Day for calling over the Senate is read, unless the same be postponed - and that is what is now proposed to be done - or discharged, the names of the senators shall be called over by the Clerk alphabetically.
– My point is that if the call of the Senate be postponed, it will be necessary to give fresh notice.
– No; when the call is postponed until to-morrow it will appear upon the notice-paper as the first Order of the Day. The standing order is absolutely explicit, and governs the whole situation.
– I should like to take this opportunity of saying that before asking the Government to take this course, I had satisfied myself that they were quite safe in meeting the requests of several honorable senators to postpone the call. Otherwise I should not have made the request. I satisfied myself that we have ample power to postpone the call, under the standing order which has been quoted.
– We have power to postpone to a later hour of the day, but not to the next day.
– It is wonderful how some people can read into a standing order that which is not there. We have power to postpone the call until any time the Senate likes.
– Then fresh notice has to be given.
– If the standing order required fresh notice to be given, it would read - “ When the Order of the Day for the call of the Senate is read, unless it is proceeded with it Shall be discharged.” The standing order gives three alternatives. Inasmuch as we have power to postpone, we can postpone the call to any day we like. The point is that notice of a call having been given, we are here in response to it.
– But we are not the whole Senate.
– We have no concern with those who are absent.
– How is fresh notice to be given to them?
– We do not require to give fresh notice to them. The Senate k> properly constituted now, and we have power either to proceed with this business or to discharge the motion, in which case I admit that fresh notice would have to be given. But we have also power to postpone it ; and just as we have power to postpone the motion for one hour, so we have power to postpone it for a week, seeing that the standing order imposes no limit.
– The limit is in the notice given to honorable senators.
– All honorable senators ought to have been here in response to the call. Had they all been here, they would have known that the call was postponed. Honorable senators will find that the word “postponed” is frequently used in our Standing Orders.
– We are constantly postponing business. A question comes up, and the honorable senator in charge of it is asked to postpone it. He does so. The Standing Orders allow that to be done. When a piece of business is postponed, it is not necesasry to give fresh notice. We are in a position similar to that of a company. Our meeting having been properly constituted, we can proceed with business to-day or adjourn it till tomorrow, as we think necessary.
– We could adjourn this business for a month, but we should have to give fresh notice.
– It is not at all necessary. Otherwise the standing order would leave us but two alternatives - to decide the business or to discharge it. But the standing order does nothing of the kind. It gives a third alternative, which is the one proposed by the Government, who desire to adopt a course which I, in all good faith, asked them to pursue last week, and which I believe they are quite justified in doing.
– - It is just as well that this matter has cropped up. I have no doubt that if the ordinary meaning is attached to the language of the standing orders quoted we have power to postpone a call of the Senate. But at. the same time it seems to me to be rather farcical to make a standing order in connexion with calls of the Senate requiring us to fix a call for a certain day, and then, when that day arrives, for a postponement to be moved under another standing order. I think that the Standing Orders Committee should take this matter into consideration. What is the object of ordering a call of the Senate? It is to obtain a full attendance of honorable senators. The necessity for it arises from the fact that all honorable senators are not in the habit of attending here every- day. When a call is ordered every member of the Senate is informed that he is expected to be in his place on a certain clay at a certain hour.
– How would the honorable senator help those who are not here to-day, and who will not be prejudiced by the call being postponed until to-morrow?
– I do not say that we are going to prejudice those who are not here to-day.
– But we are prejudicing those who are here now, and who may not be here to-morrow.
– Exactly. Obviously the object of making a call of the Senate is to let every honorable senator know that certain business will be taken at a certain time on a certain day. Accordingly, every honorable senator who thinks the business of sufficient importance will take care to be in his place on that day, no matter how urgent his private business may be. But by postponing the call we are not treating fairly those who have taken the trouble to be here to-day, but who may, to-morrow, have other business to attend to which would .necessitate their absence. Moreover, if we can postpone the call of the Senate for a day, what is to prevent us from postponing it for a week, or indefinitely?
– Nothing in the world.
– I quite agree with the Minister’s view of the standing order. It is a good thing that the point has arisen, because it will enable the Standing Orders Committee to revise the Standing Orders which apply to a call of the Senate.
– How would the honorable senator amend them? Senator O’KEEFE. - I would amend them so as to make a call of the Senate what it should be, a procedure indicating that, on a certain day, a matter of importance will be considered. If that procedure be adhered to, no honorable senator will be able to complain of being put to inconvenience by reason of not having sufficient notice of a call. A certain number of honorable senators did not think the matter of sufficient importance to compel their attendance to-day.
– The honorable senator is not putting the matter fairly.
– I have no wish to state the matter unfairly. We ought to do what will suit the convenience of the majority of the honorable members of the Senate. The object of a call of the Senate is to enable all honorable senators to be here on a certain day if they consider the business to be discussed of sufficient importance, and I think that the convenience of those who do attend in response to a call of the Senate should be considered before that of those who do not attend. Before resuming my seat I repeat that I believe that, under the Standing Orders, we have the power to postpone a call in the way now proposed, though I think it is a pity that the Standing Orders should so provide.
– I am very glad that Senator Givens has /wrought up this matter. I am not prepared to say whether it is or is not within the province of the Government to submit the motion now before the Senate. But I wish to explain that had I known earlier than I did that the call of the Senate would be taken on Wednesday, and not on Tuesday, I should not have been in Victoria on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or to-day.
– The Government refused at first to fix the call for Wednesday.
– That is so. When Senator McGregor was giving notice of the call I asked that it should be made for Wednesday in order to suit the convenience of honorable senators representing Tasmania, but the Government did not then feel disposed to agree to the request. I have to thank the Government Whip ‘for the courtesy extended to me of informing me at the earliest possible moment on Friday afternoon that the call would be taken on Wednesday instead of to-day, but it was then too late to enable me to alter my arrangements, and I had to remain here. If we had known in time that the call would be taken on Wednesday instead of on Tuesday, other honorable senators, as well as myself, would have ordered their arrangements differently.
– There is one point to which I wish to direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. He proposes the postponement of this matter under standing order 281, which reads -
When the Order of the Day for calling over the Senate is read, unless the same be postponed or discharged, the names of senators shall be called over by the Clerk alphabetically.
I point out that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has moved the postponement of this matter before and not after the reading of the Order of the Day, as provided in the Standing Orders. I thought it well to direct attention to the point; if there is nothing in it, well and good.
– This is a matter about which it seems to me there is some little difficulty. Taking a superficial view one might easily come to either conclusion, but I contend that a call of the Senate cannot be treated in the same way as an ordinary motion. It is an intimation to every honorable senator that a call will be made on a particular date. The whole matter in dispute is whether a call can be postponed from one day to another, or from one hour to another, of the same day. Looking into the matter closely I have come to the conclusion that the standing order means to refer to a postponement from one hour to another of the same day. Under the Standing Orders a call of the Senate is to be regarded as the first Order of the Day for which it is made, and it might be found more convenient to postpone it to a later hour of the same day. I know that the Government are relying upon standing order 73, which reads -
After the formal motions and orders have been disposed of, and before the business of the day is proceeded with, any senator may move without notice, that any notice of motion standing in his name, or Order of the Day of which he is in charge on the notice-paper for that day, shall be a notice of motion or Order of the ‘Day for some subsequent day.
– That does not apply to this matter at all.
– I was just going to point out to the honorable senator that so far as I can see that standing order does not apply to a call of the Senate which is made for a particular day, and for a particular purpose. The real question to decide is whether we can postpone a call from one day to another.
– Not without issuing fresh notice.
– As I read the Standing Orders we can postpone a call of the Senate from day to day without fresh notice.
– We cannot have a call of the Senate without the posting of special notice to every member of the Senate. That is a formality which must be complied with. Honorable senators who are not present to-day might be quite in ignorance of the proposal that there should be a call of the Senate for to-morrow ; but according to some honorable senators we can postpone a call from day to day and from week to week.
– We must not assume that every member of the Senate lives in Melbourne.
– I agree with the honorable senator. When a call of the Senate is wanted a formal intimation must be sent to every member of the Senate. If a call may be postponed from day to day, or from week to week, that provision cannot be complied with.
– We suspended the first standing order and the honorable senator did not demur to that, although the argument he now uses would be pertinent if used against the adoption of that course.
– It does not matter to me, as if I live I shall be here tomorrow as I am to-day.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to standing orders 156 and 157. Standing order 156 reads -
The Orders of the Day shall be disposed of in the order in which they stand upon the noticepaper.
Standing order 157 contemplates an Order of the Day in charge of a private member of the Senate, and reads -
If, at the adjournment of the Senate, any Orders of the Day on the notice-paper have not been called on, such Orders of the Day shall be set down on the notice-paper as business for the next sitting day, at the end of the regular business of that day.
I think that those two Standing Orders have some bearing on the issue, because the former is imperative in its language, and only contemplates the postponement of an Order of the Day when other business intervenes. But they must be read in connexion with standing orders 280 and 281. It seems to me that once a Minister, or even a private senator, gives notice of a motion, and it becomes an Order of the Day, the business is in charge of the Minister or private senator in question to bring on at that time. If that is so, it is governed by standing orders 156 and 157, and must be proceeded with. For instance, if the senator in whose name it stands were not here, it would lapse. In a case of this kind, has the Government more power than a private senator? Having regard to the imperative form of standing orders 156 and 157, the business has to be dealt with. During the last three or four months, we have been suspending our Standing Orders just as the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended by the most tyrannical king on earth.
– It may seem rather presumptuous on the part of a new senator to attempt to interpret Standing Orders to older and much abler senators, but the fear that these two very important measures might be endangered by a non-compliance with the order for a call must be my excuse for taking part in this discussion. I join most cordially in the protest which has been made by some honorable senators against the postponement of this business to another day. I hold that we are bound to deal with it at some time to-day. Otherwise, in terms of the Standing Orders, the two Orders of the Day must be discharged from the noticepaper, and the call renewed for a subsequent date. If the order for a call of the Senate - which Senator Stewart has pointed out has been made for a definite purpose, and for a certain time - was not a direction to honorable senators to be in their places to deal with the question on the date for which they received notice, what is the value of such an order? If Senator Millen’s argument is sound, that the Senate can control an order for a call, just the same as it can govern any ordinary business, what is the necessity for making an order for a call?
– So as to let people know what business will come on.
– Why not let them know every day with regard to other business?
– That is what the notice-paper is intended to do.
– It could let honorable senators know about the call, too.
– Honorable senators are given specific notice to be in their places on a definite date to transact certain business. I submit that standing order 281 is very definite, and that it is competent for the Senate to postpone the consideration of this question to a later hour of the day for which the call was made, but not to a subsequent date. I am not in -a position, perhaps, to fully appreciate the danger of the Government’s proposal ; but I have a fear that it may affect the validity or legality of the important business for which the order for a call was made.
– - A postponed call is. invalid.
– - It is wonderful how very little matters occupy great minds so much. I wish to point out something in respect to the circumstances of this case, and to show honorable senators how needless are their fears in respect to the two Constitution Alteration Bills. We are dealing, not with constitutional questions, which require an Act of Parliament and a referendum of the people before an alteration can be made, but with Standing Orders which we have power to suspend, if necessary, in the interests of carrying on the public business. When the question of the third reading of the Constitution Alteration Bills first arose, I thought of asking the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders, and put the Bills through that stage there and then, as we had the power to do, if we had a constitutional majority, that is, nineteen senators, on our side. But, having regard to the advice of some honorable senators, and also of the President, it was thought advisable to give notice of a call of the Senate. Twentyone days’ notice was not given, but only a week’s notice, thus reducing the notice to a week. There are some honorable senators who may reasonably urge that a week is scarcely long enough, and that their business is of such an involved character that twenty-one days’ notice is little enough. But notice of the call was reduced to a week, thereby admitting our right to dispense with notice. Last week some honorable senators told the Government that it would be very inconvenient for them to be here on Tuesday, and that if the call could be postponed until the following day they would be present. That is “exactly why we have submitted this motion. We have no desire to put any honorable senator, no matter whether he is for or against us, to the slightest inconvenience, so long as the third reading of the two measures will not be endangered. The language of the Standing Orders is so plain that I wonder that there is any doubt about their meaning. Senator St. Ledger, with his stupendous knowledge of the Constitution, and his unlimited knowledge of the Standing Orders, not only confused things in his own mind when he talked about what standing orders 156, 157, 280, and 281 do, but caused a hazy . feeling in the minds of others. He actually clouded his own imagination. What does “ dealing with “ a notice of motion or an Order of the Day mean? It means dealing with the question forthwith, postponing it, or wiping it off the businesspaper. Consequently, that is what the Standing Orders contemplate. Some honorable senators imagine that a call of the Senate must be made for a particular purpose. But it may not be ordered for any such purpose. The object of a call of the Senate is to insure the attendance of honorable senators-
– It must be ordered for a particular purpose; otherwise a call would be made every day.
– There is no necessity for a call of the Senate being made except for a particular purpose. Whenever we have such a purpose in view it is competent for us to suspend the Standing Orders. Seeing that we can entirely suspend those orders in regard to this question, is it not foolish to urge that if an absolute majority of the Senate be prepared to postpone a call of this Chamber from to-day until to-morrow, or until next week, it has not the power to do so ? The Senate has power to do anything that it may choose in relation to its own business. But in order that there may be no doubt in the mind of any honorable senator that we are conducting business according to our Standing Orders, -we have taken the precaution to consult the highest legal authority connected with the Government. He has advised us that the course which we are pursuing is absolutely the correct one.
– Unless the Government fail to get their constitutional majority to-morrow.
– If we do not get an absolute majority to-morrow we shall not be able to carry the third reading of the Bills which figure at the head of the business-paper to-day. But the call of the Senate which has been ordered for today will be valid if postponed until tomorrow or until any later period that we maychoose to appoint.
– I received notice of a call of the Senate for to-day. I did not receive any notice of a call for to-morrow.
– If a majority of honorable senators decide that the call shall not take place until to-morrow the honorable senator has no cause for alarm.
– It may be physically impossible for him to be present to-morrow.
– There are no indications of ill-health on the part of Sena tor Givens at present. I hope that honorable senators who are here to-day will exhibit a little consideration for their brother senators who have already intimated that it is impossible for them to be present today. Only this morning I received a wire from an honorable senator at Port Augusta stating that it was impossible for him to reach Melbourne until to-morrow. There are other honorable senators who occupy similar positions. I trust that the health and happiness of those who are present today will not be interfered with by our action in postponing the call of the Senate for one day to meet the convenience of our brother senators.
- Senator Story has raised the point that the Order of the Day relating to the call of the Senate has not been read. That is correct. But I would point out to him that our Standing Orders do not require an Order of the Day, relating to business which it is proposed to postpone, to be read. Standing order 65 sets out the routine to be followed, and provides that before the Orders of the Day are read, it shall be the duty of the Chairman to ask if the Government wish to postpone any of their business, and to inquire if private members desire to postpone any of their business. Senator St. Ledger has raised practically the same point, so that the reply which I have given to Senator Story’s objection will also meet his objection, namely, that the Orders of the Day have not yet been called on. The Standing Orders provide that any business may be postponed on motion by a Minister or by the private member who is in charge of that business. The reason why a call of the Senate was ordered for to-day is ‘that Bills in which amendments of the Constitution are proposed, require to be passed by an absolute majority of honorable senators. Our Standing Orders have been framed with a view to enabling honorable senators to know when such measures will be brought forward. Standing orders 278 to 283 relate to this matter. Senator Givens has contended that, the Standing Orders have been entirely suspended in connexion with this matter-
– I have not.
– I understood the’ honorable senator to do so.
– I urged that the Standing Orders had been suspended only so far as they relate to twenty-one days’ notice being given of a call of the Senate.
– Under the motion which was submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the 9th November, the suspension of the Standing Orders relate only to that. Then a call of the Senate was ordered for to-day. When that call was placed upon the businesspaper as an Order of the Day it became the property of the Senate, and under standing order 281 the Minister in charge of that business may move for its postponement till any time that he may consider it desirable to appoint.
– Not so far as the call of the Senate is concerned.
– Under that standing order he may move that the first Order of the Day be postponed for any length of time that he may think necessary. it rests with the members of the Senate whether they will indorse that motion. if the motion be defeated, the call of the Senate will have to take place to-day - the day for which it was ordered. I therefore rule that the motion is strictly in order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill from being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a first time.
– In the early days of the existence of the Commonwealth this Parliament did all that it possibly could to prevent the influx of undesirable immigrants into this country. I am glad to say that nearly everybody in Australia, and many persons holding high positions in other parts of the world, are beginning to recognise that the policy -which we then adopted is a wise one. But. whilst legislating in respect of immigration, the members of this Parliament did not think that the necessity would ever arise to enact laws in respect of emigration. But from time to time circumstances have arisen which point to the absolute need for something being done to prevent aborigines and young persons of European race from leaving or being taken from Australia without the knowledge of the Government and without the protection to which the citizens of any country are entitled when they go abroad.Upon several occasions the newspapers have emphasized the abuses which have resulted from aboriginal natives and young children being induced to leave the country by plausible stories on the part of certain individuals who wished to make a profit out of them. They have pointed out that when these aborigines and white children have been taken to other countries they have not received that treatment which should have been meted out to them. Owing to these abuses the Government have been compelled, even at this late stage of the session, to introduce legislation for the protection of aborigines and young persons. That is the only reason why this Bill is before us to-day. It merely provides that no aboriginal native and no persons under the age of eighteen years shall be taken from Australia without a permit unless they are in charge of some reputable individual, who will look after their welfare while they are absent. The measure will not debar aborigines or young persons from leaving Australia, but it will compel them to obtain the permission of some Government official, who will see that they are carefully protected while they are abroad. That is really all that the Bill provides, and I hope, in view of what honorable senators already know of this question, that we shall experience no difficulty in passing it through all its stages without delay. I have pleasure in moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not wish to detain the Senate, because 1 am sure that we are entirely in sympathy with the purpose of the measure. But I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to ascertain as speedily as possible whether this Bill will apply to ships’ apprentices? My first impression is that it will. Under the definition clause - “ Child “ means a child under the age of eighteen years, and later on the Bill provides that -
A child shall be deemed to be under contract to perform theatrical, operatic, or other “ work outside the Commonwealth if any agreement or arrangement exists between the child, or a parent or guardian of the child, or any other person, under which the child is to perform, or take part in the performance of any theatrical, operatic, or other work outside the Commonwealth.
It seems to me, therefore, that the Bill will cover ships’ apprentices, and I do not think it is the intention of the Government that these apprentices shall require to obtain a permit under its provisions. I raise this point now because I recognise that we are endeavouring to dispose of the remainder of the business of the session at something like high pressure, and if I wait until the measure is in Committee, the opportunity of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to confer with his officers upon it will undoubtedly be lost. I ask the honorable gentleman to take notice of the point.
– I am doing so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– I am rather inclined to think that if there be any substance in the point which I mentioned just now, and into which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has undertaken to inquire, it may be necessary to alter this clause.
– Why not postpone its consideration until the remaining provisions of the Bill have been considered?
– I was about to suggest the adoption of that course, unless the Vice-President of the Executive Council will consent to recommit the Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 - (1.) The emigration from, or taking out of, the Commonwealth, except in pursuance of a permit under this Act, of any of the following persons is prohibited-
– This clause seems to act as an absolute prohibition against those who are under the age specified going abroad. I should like to ask the Minister whether it is intended to prevent children from going abroad without permit, even though they travel with their parents? It seems to me that the clause would prevent a child being sent abroad by a parent without the permission of a Government officer.
– The clause applies to persons under eighteen years of age. I should not be drawing on my imagination too much if I said that there are men in this Senate to-day who travelled in and out of this country, before they were eighteen years of age, without getting a permit from any one ; and I think that, generally speaking, the Australian who reaches the age of eighteen is quite as well able to look after himself as is any other person. Under this clause, a young man who wanted to go to New Zealand for a trip would have to get the permission of a Government officer. He would have to say, “ Please, sir, may I go abroad for a month?” The object of the Bill is right enough, and honorable senators are disposed to welcome it; but the principle should not be carried to absurd lengths.
– The honorable senator does not wish to reduce the age to five or six ?
– No; but I do not want to legislate in such an absurd way as to say that a young Australian shall not go to New Zealand without the permission of a Government official. Fancy a young man of eighteen being prevented from going abroad unless in charge of a nurse ! This is going a little too far. If it were a case of persons going out under contract, there might be a reason for supervision, but there is certainly not that reason in the case of young men going out of Australia to look for work - say, to New Zealand, in shearing time. I should think it a piece of impertinence if any one said to me, “ You cannot go abroad without permission.”
– But the honorable senator is over eighteen.
– Unfortunately, I am ; but there are many people in this country who are not; and it is surely undesirable to bring every one down to the condition that they cannot live or move without the permission of a Government official. As originally framed, the definition of “ child “ was applied to a person “ under the age of sixteen years,” at which age many persons are greatly in need of supervision. But the age was altered to eighteen. The alteration may have been desirable to make it apply to a class of persons who are primarily responsible for the introduction of the measure - young girls going out under contract on theatrical tours. But there is no reason for including those who may merely wish to leave Australia for other purposes, to which I have referred.
– I am sure that Senator Millen does not mean all that he says. When some honorable senators see anything in print, they take it in at a glance, and object to it straight away. The clause does not mean what the honorable senator imputes. We know perfectly well that an Australian young man or woman is usually just as well able to take care of himself or herself as any one else.. But there are young people whom we do require to protect, and it is for their protection that the age has been fixed at eighteen. The majority of young men and women in Australia could be trusted to go to any country in the world, but it is desired to protect the few who are unfortunate enough not to be so strong minded, or so well developed physically, that the clause is designed. Legislation of this class is not intended to apply to the great majority of people. It is proposed for application to special instances, where wrong or fraud may be attempted to be committed on those who are not well able to protect themselves. I can imagine no officer or Minister in the Commonwealth who would administer . a measure of this description- as one of general application. It will be administered for the protection of aboriginals and white children for whose protection, at present, we have not sufficient power. It is in their interest that the Government desire that no alteration shall be made in the age of eighteen contained in the definition clause. As far as relates to apprentices on board ship, I have ascertained from the Attorney-General that in his opinion the Bill will not apply to them. When the Navigation Bill is under consideration, all the protection that apprentices require will be extended to them.
– I rather think that this clause goes too far in its application of the permit to - any child of European race or extraction, unless in the care or charge of some adult person of European race or extraction.
The clause would seem to mean that a man or woman taking a child to England would require to get a permit. That seems to me to be absurd.
– The Government, in their effort to do a desirable thing, seem to have proposed a foolish one. We wish to guard against the taking out of Australia of children to perform in theatrical, operatic, or other similar companies. There may not be much danger of the application of the clause in such cases. But paragraph b of sub-clause 1 goes too far altogether. The paragraph does not affect the mischief which the Bill is intended to cure, and may do a great deal of mischief in regard to persons to whom it is not intended to apply. Take the case of a boy or girl under eighteen years of age, who ‘ may, by passing some high examination, win a scholarship which can only be properly taken out in another country. Scholarships are frequently given in order that students may be enabled to pursue their studies abroad. This provision would prevent their going abroad without a Government permit.
– No hardship would occur in such a case. The child might go abroad in charge of an adult person.
– But the parent of the child might be unable to go. A young student who has distinguished himself may desire to go abroad to pursue research work. Is he to be stopped ?
– But he would be stopped under the clause as it stands.
– The honorable senator is thinking of such cases as that of Mr. Johann Kruse, who was sent abroad as a boy to pursue his musical studies.
– I do not know of the case to which the honorable senator refers ; but there are many instances of young Australians who have been sent abroad to pursue their studies because they have shown special promise. The VicePresident of the Executive Council tells us that he cannot understand the measure being so administered by any sane Minister as to apply in such a case. But the other day, the Senate laughed out a series of questions proposed by a Minister in regard to the census. We are not going to trust Ministers in everything after kicking out one Minister’s regulations.
– We did a stupid think in kicking them out.
– There is nothing to be proud of in kicking them out.
– The Government did a stupid thing in supporting them.
– I think the whole Commonwealth was with us in objecting to those regulations.
-The honorable senator is distinctly out of order in discussing the question to which he is referring.
– I wish to point out that we cannot take as satisfactory the Minister’s statement that the measure will not be administered in a manner contrary to the general desire. The clause might be found to work more than hardship in such a case as that cited by Senator Barker. No parent should be subjected to any one of these alternatives. Why should a father or mother of a brilliant child who has won scholarships under the age of eighteen years, and desires to take advantage of “them in the Old Country, be obliged to go with the child, to find an adult to take charge of him, or to apply to an official for a permit?
– Is it not a pity that the honorable senator had to submit to a legal examination?
– I remind the honorable senator that I was not obliged to ask any one whether I should enter for a legal examination, and I might have chosen to go to the Old Country, or anywhere else, to take out my scholarship. It is a pity that the legal knowledge at the service of the Government should be so limited that they submit a clause which is a laughingstock and a stupidity, and might result in hardship. I do not see why the Government should think it necessary to carry paragraph b of sub-clause 1 of this clause. Can they not achieve all they desire under paragraph at
– I contend that paragraph b is a stupid provision, and may result in injustice and hardship.
– I join in the opposition to some of the provisions of this clause. I take, for instance, paragraph a of subclause 1, which reads -
Any child who is under contract to perform theatrical, operatic, or other work outside the Commonwealth.
I might desire to send a boy of mine under the age of sixteen years to work for a sugar company in Fiji, or to send him to New Zealand to engage in an occupation in which I could not place him so well in New South Wales at the present time. But, under this clause, I should have to go with him, to send him in charge of some adult, or to get a permit from the Government for him to go. That, in my opinion, is an altogether unnecessary interference. If there is wrong-doing which the Government desire to prevent, let them propose to do so in a direct way. If no amendment is submitted upon this clause, I shall be disposed myself to move the omission of one or two of its provisions. The Government have no right to interfere more than is absolutely essential with the liberty of any one. A young man of seventeen years of age, who h’ad been “on his own” for two or three years, might desire to go to New Zealand to take up certain work, or make a contract with a sugar company in Fiji, and although, if he were unable to start at once he might not be able to secure the job for which he was looking, he might, under this clause, be obliged to go to a Minister in Melbourne, or YassCanberra, to get a permit, when it might not be possible for him to leave until the next boat. I quite recognise that the Government may, in this matter, be doing their best to remedy a growing evil, but that is no reason for any undue interference with people who have no intention to do evil. Unless a better clause than this can be proposed, I shall be prepared to vote for striking out every provision in it except that with respect to aborigines.
– I move -
That after the word “Act,” line 3, the words “or of the written assent of the parents or guardian “ be inserted.
There is a definition of “ guardian “ in the Bill, but there is no definition of “ parent,” and I do not think that is necessary. Should the amendment be made, sub-clause 1 of the clause would read -
The emigration from or taking out of the Commonwealth, except in pursuance of a permit under this Act or of the written assent of the parents or guardian, of ‘any of the followingpersons is prohibited.
I wish to join with Senator Gardiner in what he has said. Many young fellows go from the Australian States to New Zealand to enter the workshops of the Union Steam-ship Navigation Company and other companies there to take up engineering work. To insert such a provision in an Act of Parliament is unwarrantable. How would the people of the world read it? Are they to be led to imagine that our legislation may be administered with partiality? It should be understood that all legislation on our. statute-book is to be administered at all times, in all places, and in regard to all persons, in exactly the same way.
– I. do not agree with what has been said by some honorable senators on this clause. It has come under my notice that young girls have been taken from Australia to India for purposes which did not appear to be altogether right. Honorable senators should remember that there are; unfortunately, some parents who- are willing to allow their children to go away from this country with theatrical companies if they can make a few pounds out of them.
– There is no objection to dealing with those cases.
– I am aware of that. I mentioned the case of a lad named Kruse. Many years ago this lad showed that he possessed undoubted musical talent, and public subscriptions were asked, to enable him to complete his musical education abroad. That: lad was under sixteen a.t the time. I agree that no injustice should be done, but I think that it is necessary to restrain. >people in certain circumstances. To my knowledge girls under eighteen years of age have gone through a form of marriage, and have been taken to India, and become what are called, the white wives of people there. The less said about these things the better, but from the evidence dealing with the matter, which came under my notice about two years ago, I think I am warranted in saying that they were taken from here for purposes of prostitution. I think that parents should be restrained, from allowing their children to leave their charge, and go out of Australia, as did. the parents of the children of the Pollard company that came under notice some time ago. We should restrain parents who are willing to allow their children to travel outside the Commonwealth regardless of the consequences to them. I agree that if the clause would prevent a lad leaving Australia to secure employment elsewhere under the circumstances stated by Senator Gardiner, it ought to be amended, because that might be oppressive, and against the best interests, not only of the young people, but of the parents themselves.
– There cannot be the slightest doubt as to what the clause means. Leaving out the words, which have no bearing on the point raised by Senator Barker, this is what it says -
The emigration from the Commonwealth, except in pursuance of a permit under this Act, of any of the following persons is prohibited.
And “ the following persons “ would include a lad under eighteen years of age. The Minister’s answer to this is, that there are a number of young people in the Commonwealth, who, because of mental or physical defects, are not as well able to look after themselves as are the average of our young people. He has invited the Committee to believe that the clause would be administered with discretion, and that while it would be enforced, so far as paragraph a of sub-clause 1 is concerned, paragraph b of the same sub-clause would not be enforced.
– It would be enforced in regard to paragraphs a and b. if necessary.
– How are we to find out when it would be necessary? Under this clause every young person under eighteen years of age would have to obtain a permit to leave- the Commonwealth.
– Except those going with their parents or some other adult.
– I am leaving those out of consideration just now.
– The honorable senator should deal with the clause as it stands.
– I might occupy more time in explaining the matter fully, but I have mentioned that I am not dealing with the cases referred to by Senator Barker. Under this clause a young man under eighteen years of age could not leave Australia to go to New Zealand to take up a shearing job unless he got a permit from the Minister.
– Had that been the law in Scotland, I might not have been able to get away from that country when I did.
– All I can say is that Scotland lost a great deal through not having a law like that in force. The Minister implied that some latitude would be expected in administering the measure. I took him to mean that an officer would not enforce the Act unless he had reason to think that some person was leaving Australia under circumstances not making for his own interests. How would the person find that out? Would he go on board a steamer and wait to see if he was to be arrested? How is he to ascertain that the official thinks it safe for him to leave? If such latitude creeps into the administration, no one will attempt to apply for a permit.
No one will think that he is not able to look after himself. But when he is on board the ship an officer may step on board and, under clause 12, arrest him, simply because he has decided to go to New Zealand to look for a shearing job, or on a holiday, without an official passport. When a lad is arrested by the officer, what is to happen? If he is tried on an indictment and convicted, the offence is to be punishable by imprisonment not exceeding two years, or by a penalty not exceeding £200 ; and if heis convicted by a Court of summary jurisdiction he will be liable to imprisonment not exceeding six months, or a penalty not exceeding£100. As regards the class to whom Senator Barker referred, and the class which the Ministry had in mind when they shaped the Bill, there can be no exception to these penalties; but surely they should see the desirability of drafting a provision which will relieve a large number of persons who wish to leave Australia for perfectly legitimate purposes, such as a trip to the Islands, Colombo, New Zealand, or, it may be, to the other side of the world. At eighteen years of age I thought I was quite capable to go anywhere without the sanction of any person.
– But take the case of a girl of that age.
– Have not the Ministry and its draftsman capacity enough to draw a provision to protect the class to which the honorable senator now refers while relieving the other class of the necessity to apply for an official permit?
– What about the scouts if they wanted to go ?
– I understand that if they took a nurse to look after them, they would be allowed to go.
– Senator Millen has directed his opposition to certain clauses in the belief that the Act will be applied rigidly to young men and young women who may wish to go on a short trip to, say, New Zealand, or to go to other lands to complete their studies.
– Does it not apply to them?
– In all probability they will come under its provisions. But the young men and young women under the age of eighteen years who go to New Zealand are few and far between, unless they are accompanied by their parents or a guardian, or unless some person on the ship, or the captain or an officer, has been asked to take charge of them and has been good enough to accept the responsibility of doing so. Surely Senator Millen is only building up hypothetical cases when he says that there are hundreds of such persons in Australia. I have seen a number of boats laden with passengers leave different ports in Australia, but I have never seen young women or young men of the tender ages mentioned by Senator Millen and others leave on a ship unless they had been intrusted to the care of somebody thereon.
– Nonsense !
– Other honorable senators may have seen the reverse, but I have not.
– You need to travel more frequently.
– I have travelled probably as much as thehonorable senator has done, in Australia and outside.
– You ought to travel more frequently on the boats.
– The honorable senator travels by boat to Tasmania very frequently, but the run only lasts a few hours. I warrant that even on that short trip boys and girl’s, especially girls between fourteen and sixteen years of age, are not sent from Melbourne or Launceston on the Loongana or any other boat unless somebody has been asked to take charge of them.
– Nonsense !
– Who looks after the children ?
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that any honorable senator would allow his boy to proceed to another land to complete his studies unless he had previously seen some person on board and arranged for his child to be looked after?
– If I had a boy of eighteen years of age, and he could not look after himself, I should be greatly disappointed .
-Of course every boy in Australia may not be able to find his way about the world as well as the honorable senator’s boy can do; but I warrant that if his boy were leaving Sydney to-morrow to complete his studies, the honorable senator would see some person he knew on the boat or the captain or an officer, and say to him, “ Look after my boy on the ship, please.’’
– It is not placing a lad in charge of a person when you say to him, “ Give an eye to this lad and look after him.”
– It would, under paragraph b.
– That does not give the person any authority over the child.
– No one desires that such a person shall have the authority of a parent or guardian to, for instance, whip a youth. The introduction of the words “or of the written assent of the parent or guardian” will not get over the difficulties which we find confronting us every day in regard to children of tender years being taken from Australia for other than legitimate purposes. Nor will the amendment cover Asiatics. It will not serve the purpose for which the Bill is intended. The Government are not absolutely wedded to every line of a Bill which they bring in, but I cannot see that there is anything to be gained by striking out paragraph b of clause 3. That would leave, perhaps, a loophole which might enable the persons we wish to get at to carry on some practices which are not in the interests of children of the ages desired to be protected. I hope that the clause will be allowed to remain as it stands.
– I think that in this case the Government ought to listen to reason. Senator Findley has just spoken of a lad of eighteen years of age not being able to take care of himself. Before I was of that age I weighed 15 stone, was a member of my union, and had travelled out of the country.I have a boy of the same type. It will be ridiculous if I have to ask permission for him to go to New Zealand or other places. I think that in this provision the Government have gone a little too far, and ought to make it possible for a lad to travel outside the State without having some person to look after him.
– Make the age sixteen years.
– My boys when ten years old travelled without any one to look after them. If they had not been able to travel alone I should not have thought them much “chop.” They travelled by steamer when they were ten years old.
– By themselves?
– The arguments of the Honorary Minister have convinced me that there is good reason for amending the clause. He spoke quite lightly of the ease with which it will be possible for a man to get the captain or an officer or some person on board a vessel to look after his child.. Enact such penalties as are provided in this clause and every man will experience very great difficulty in getting any person to take charge of his child. Even a man’s best friend would hesitate to bring himself under the punitive provisions of the Act, when otherwise he would be very pleased to give an eye to a friend’s boy or girl while on board.
– An officer will not run any risk, because he will have the power of putting questions.
– Under subclause 2 any person who takes or attempts to take a child out of the Commonwealth in contravention of the section will be guilty of an offence, and the penalties provided are very heavy. Suppose that a stranger to the country wished to send his boy or girl of seventeen years of age on a visit to friends in New Zealand. Under this clause he will be required either to travel with his child or get some person to do so. It will be a most difficult matter to get any person to take charge of the child on a vessel.
– A parent can get a permit for his child to travel.
– Why should that be necessary? That is really what 1 object to. In attempting to deal with one evil the Government run the risk of causing great inconvenience to persons desiring to travel. It is quite possible to deal directly with wrongdoers without inconveniencing persons who have no desire to do wrong. The Minister’s arguments have convinced me more than ever of the desirability of striking out the provisions.
– A few moments ago I had the opportunity of conferring with Senator Keating, who agreed with me that his amendment has been moved in the wrong place, because it will cover any aboriginal native or those engaged for alleged theatrical but quite other purposes. He is not in the Chamber at present, but assuming that his amendment is defeated, I shall move to insert the same words in paragraph b unless the Minister is prepared to delete it.
That will relieve a child of the necessity of obtaining an official passport.
– How will that get over the case of an Asiatic?
– He will be left exactly as he is now. Natives of Australia will be placed under the obligation of obtaining official sanction before departing, but young persons of our own race will be able to go provided that they have the consent of a parent or guardian.
– How would you deal with those parents who are prepared to sell young or old for profit ?
– They will come under paragraph a. Paragraph b simply deals with the case of those who leave Australia for no purpose set out.
– They may join the Navy ?
– Yes, or they may want to go to see the Coronation. But the question arises whether we are going to make our race one of nambypambies from the time that its members are born until they are dead?
– The Committee know quite well the reason why the Bill lias been introduced.
– And not a word has been uttered in opposition to the object which the Government have in view. The question is whether, in their desire to do good, they are not going further than is necessary. When individuals are afflicted with certain diseases, we quarantine them. But do we quarantine every person in the community who is not suffering from those complaints ?
– We quarantine every person who is on board a vessel upon which there is an outbreak of disease.
– Because certain persons have done wrong, the Government propose to place the whole community under a disability.
– Not the whole community, but only those members of it who are under eighteen years of age.
– It is ridiculous to say that a lad of eighteen years must run the risk of being sent to gaol if he attempts to leave Australia.
– He will not be sent to gaol unless he violates the Act.
– How would a limit of sixteen years suit the - Leader of the Opposition ?
– I am quite sure that when Senator Findley was eighteen years of age, if he desired to go anywhere, he merely put on his hat and went. He did not ask permission to do so.
– There is a great difference between doing that and going abroad.
– If a lad at eighteen years of age is fit to bear arms in defence of the country, it is absurd to declare by legislative enactment that, before he can leave Australia, he must obtain official permission to do so.
– I would again direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the necessity for amending this clause with a view to giving effect to the intention of the Government. I am not a draftsman, but I would suggest that a provision might be framed to read somewhat as follows -
Intending emigrants may bc prohibited fromleaving - the Commonwealth if the Minister is of opinion that their welfare will be better served by being detained in the Commonwealth.
If such a provision were adopted, and the Minister suspected that any person was being taken away from Australia for immoral purposes, or for purposes which were not legitimate, he could step in and prevent that person from leaving.
– That is to say, that every person would be at liberty to leave unless the Minister stepped in ?
– Yes. Under such a provision I think that we should secure a careful administration of the Act. But my experience is that if the public wish’ to obtain satisfaction, Commonwealth Departments are the last places to which they will go. Take the case of a man who has engaged as an under-steward on board ship. What officer in the Government Departments would look after his interests and grant him a permit at short notice ? Let us deal with the evil which the Bill aims at suppressing, and not endeavour to create further trouble.
– - I am very much impressed with the suggestion of Senator Gardiner. As the clause now stands, it throws upon every person under eighteen years of age unless in charge of some adult of European race, the obligation of obtaining a Government permit before he or she may go abroad. But the great majority of people do not require to be subjected to supervision. Why shouldwe not relieve them of the obligation which1 the Bill imposes by empowering the Government, whenever they have reason to suppose that a person is being taken abroad for undesirable purposes, to step ;in and prevent that person from leaving’?
– How are we going to ascertain when a person under eighteen years of ‘age will be ‘leaving?
– How will the Goverment ‘find -out, iri any case? Suppose that Ada Smith writes to the Department stating that she wishes to obtain ‘a permit to proceed to Colombo-
– After due ‘inquiry, she will receive it.
– That means that she will receive it after she has reached twenty-one years of age, and when she is at liberty to go wherever she may choose. Clause 13 of the Bill gives to any officer the power to board any vessel in the territorial waters of the Commonwealth, and to remove from it any child or aboriginal native whom he has reasonable .ground to believe is about to be taken out of the Commonwealth in contravention of this Act. In other words, it vests him with power to pull any such person out of bed if he thinks that he ought not to leave Australia. But apparently Ministers are determined to sit tight on this question, and therefore I have no option but to divide the Senate upon it. I move -
That after the word “extraction,” lines 10-ir, the words “ unless with .the written assent of the parents or guardian “ be inserted.
My amendment will not .affect persons leaving Australia under theatrical engagements. Their cases are dealt with under paragraph a of sub-clause 1.
. , - There is one class of cases which Sena- ‘ tor Millen’s amendment will not cover.
– There are many cases. I am endeavouring to make the best of a bad job, the bad job being the Minister himself.
– We all know that at certain seasons of the year some persons are in the habit of visiting New Zealand in search of employment. It is quite clear that those who follow the particular avocation in question either have no parents, or are beyond parental control. Senator Millen’s amendment will not meet the objections which have been raised so well as they would be met if we lowered the age limit in the case of males. To my mind we might well distinguish between the ages of young men and young . girls
– If we lower the age limit in the definition clause, that limit will ‘also apply to paragraph a.
– An amendment might be drafted to prevent it applying to that provision. Hitherto the Labour party hasalways been ‘accused of being opposed toimmigration. But the party with which Senator Millen is associated, apparently desires to provide the most ample opportunities to Australia to get rid of the people who are already here.
– -That is absurd.
– If it is a good thing to have more people in the Commonwealth
– The honorable senator ought to increase the -age limit to 16c years instead of reducing it.
– We all know that there are occasions upon which young persons run away from their homes; and if they have to obtain a permit to enable them to leave Australia, possibly the policeman or official to whom they apply for it will beimpelled to make some inquiries into their case, and thus their parents will learnwhere they are going. I have a lad over sixteen ‘years of age, and if he were about to leave Australia I should be exceedingly glad if anybody -would inform me of hisintentions and of his destination. In that case, I should probably give him a few shillings to prevent him from being stranded in a foreign country. But I should take steps to prevent young girls; leaving the Commonwealth.
– I would urge the Committee not to accept the amendment. To do so would be to defeat the very object of the Bill. The measure is the outcome of representations which have been made from time to time by worthy citizens of the Commonwealth, who have urged that legislation on these lines was highly desirable for the protection of young Australians, who, in its absence, might be lured from this country for other than legitimate purposes.. One case was brought under the notice of the public, in which a womanwho had given her written consent-
– To what?
– To her girl leaving Australia to visit India.
– To leaving Australia raider contract. Such cases are covered by paragraph a of sub-clause 1 of this clause.
– If the amendment be carried it’ will not .J>i6* vent some women from giving their written consent to their children being taken out of the Commonwealth. Some parents may be glad to get rid of their children. In the interests of the children, it is- well for. the. Commonwealth to have power to interfere. We wish to protect children who may be placed in an unfortunate position through their parents *being disposed to give a written consent to their removal from- Australia. The Bill would not have been introduced except for representations which have been made, asking for legislation to protect young girls who may be lured to leave Australia for illegitimate reasons. The . amendment would considerably weaken the Bill, and leave loop-holes for those persons who have been engaged in the kind of traffic that we desire to stop.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) [5. 1 rj. - I do not altogether favour this kind of legislation. A great deal of hysterical nonsense is talked about the subject in consequence of what happened to the Pollard Opera Company in India some time ago. But any man of experience in Australia knows that there are extremely few of such cases.
– Would the honorable senator wait until there were many, before taking steps to prevent the evil ?
– I can quite understand that in some European countries legislation of this kind may be required, but it is preposterous to think of people being desirous of sending their children out of Australia to better their condition. I am inclined to agree with Senator Millen’s proposal. We should, as far as possible, keep the responsibility on the parents.
– Suppose there are no parents.
– I should think that there are not many children in Australia who are not under the care of parents -or guardians.
– There are numbers of them. I have become acquainted with large numbers in my capacity as a magistrate. Many of them are dealt with by the Children’s Court in Victoria.
- Senator Barker has had an experience that has not fallen to my lot. Had he not been connected with the Trades Hall Council in an official capacity, I do not think that his knowledge -of such cases would have been so extensive. To place children on board a ship under the care of the captain is, I should think, equal to placing them under the care of nobody at all. Whilst I cast no reflection on the captains or officers of vessels, my experience shows me that their professional duties are sufficiently onerous without placing upon them responsibility for children. I have often been amused when I have heard a father or a mother saying to the captain of a ship, “ We place this child in your care.”
– It is seldom the captain who is spoken to in such cases.
– I have known of several instances, and the captain has always been spoken to about them. I consider that the suggestion of Senator Millen is a very fair one, and, as the Bill is not a party measure, but one upon which we are free to vote as we please, I am inclined to support it.
– I hope that the Government will accept the amendment, which makes for parental responsibility. I assume that parents will not give permission for their children to go abroad unless they are quite satisfied as to how they will be treated. If I wanted to send a child abroad, I should take care to appoint somebody to meet the ship on its arrival. Why should I be subjected to all the bother that this clause would entail?
– The Minister has informed me that in all cases where trouble has been caused permission has been given by the parents.
– The Government are legislating for two or three extreme cases, and, in so doing, will subject a number of people to inconvenience.
– When Mr. Fowler brought this matter up in the House of Representatives, he instanced the case of a white child whose mother had married a Mahomedan. and had given permission for her child to be sent to India.
– Even if this Bill had been in operation the child could have been sent to India if it had been placed in the charge of a responsible person.
– We should not load up our statute-book with mollycoddling legislation that is really not wanted. The Bill has been introduced simply because of an abuse that has occured in one particular case, which, however, the measure as drafted would not have prevented. It will be more workable if the amendment is accepted.
– I think that the amendment is in the wrong direction, and would render the clause useless. In some European countries any person who wishes to go abroad has to get a permit from the Government. Of course, we do not want to see anything of that sort in Australia. The Bill is admittedly intended to meet exceptional cases. I oppose the amendment because a dissolute and conscienceless parent would be the very person to give consent.
– Such a person would work under paragraph a. where the consent would be valueless.
– Paragraph b is more important than paragraph a. A parent who - is both callous and indifferent to a child’s welfare might, for a cash consideration, give consent to the taking of the child abroad, but might not be willing to enter into a contract which there would be no opportunity of enforcing. There are persons who would willingly sell their children in that way, and if they attempted to do so it would never appear from the terms of any bond or document which, they signed, and it would be impossible to sheet a charge home to them.
– Such an arrangement as the honorable senator refers to would be kept secret, and the Government would ne%’er be told about it.
– If the persons concerned had to go before a Government authority it would be possible, but not probable, that what they proposed to do would be discovered. The extreme cases for which this legislation is proposed will in almost every instance affect females ; and if the amendment be defeated I shall be inclined to move that the word “female” be inserted before the word “ child,” in paragraph b of sub-clause 1. Such an amendment would, I believe, meet the objections which have been urged to the clause better than would the amendment proposed by Senator Millen.
– I appeal to Senator Vardon and other honorable senators, who, I believe, have every consideration for the young people of Australia-
– Surely that may be said of every member of the Senate.
– Every member of the Senate does not profess it to the same extent as does the honorable senator.
If the amendment is carried there will never be any contracts made here. The individual who desires to get a young Australian boy or girl away from this country will make some secret arrangements with the parents, and when he gets the child away from Australia and from the protection of its laws, he will make any agreement with the parents which he pleases.
– Then the Bill is waste paper.
– No ; it is not, as the Government under this measure would be able to see that children do not leave the Commonwealth unless in charge of persons who are able to take care of them. I should like honorable senators who object to legislation of this kind to consider the legislation we pass to deal with criminals. We do not pass a law to punish the offence of murder because all the members of the community are murderers, or to punish larceny because they are all thieves.
– We do not lock up ever-y man because some men are thieves.
– It is for the protection of the many against the few that legislation of this kind is passed. This measure is directed against individuals who are prepared to take our young people away from Australia and make use of them for their own satisfaction or gain, and not against the children or their parents. It is intended for the protection of the children and the punishment of unprincipled individuals who may wrongfully exercise authority over them when they are taken away from Australia. This legislation is required, not for the mass of the people of the country, young or old, but to prevent the operations of a few unprincipled people who are prepared to injure the most innocent section of the community. ,
– I find that honorable senators do not understand what the Government propose. It may be because I have not yet made myself clear as to what is the object of this clause. The Bill is mainly the outcome of representations made in another place, and elsewhere, with respect to a white Australian girl who was taken to India by her stepfather. Senator Millen desires that every facility shall be given to young Australians to go to any part of the world provided their parents consent. This young girl, who went to India with her stepfather, obtained the consent of her parent to leave this country. I have here the letter which was written by her mother. It is as follows : -
My husband, Nawab Khan, is going home to his own country, and I (his wife) wishes my little daughter, Leontene Adell Hocking to go with him. I have turned to my husband’s religion (Islam), and I also wish my little daughter to follow the same, which she cannot do in this country, and I will soon be going home to his country myself; but she is just at the right age to be taught our religion, and that is the full reason I want him to go and take her with him. We have a farm in the country, and we cannot both go at once. Whoever reads this letter will see it is my greatest wish to send my little girl with him and nobody must stop him. I have given my husband her birth certificate to take with him, and if anybody wishes he will show them.
I am, 4a,
– This Bill would not have prevented that.
– Yes, it would ; because the girl is a white girl and the stepfather is a coloured man. She would not have been able to go to India with her stepfather under this Bill.
– The mother could have taken her and the stepfather could have joined them later.
– The mother did not take her, and if she had done so what would have been the result? The poor mother in this case was married, or alleged to be married, to the stepfather of this child. She made inquiries after the child was sent to India and found that the stepfather was already married in India, and that the child was being taken to a former wife of this man. If this Bill had been in operation at the time this little girl could not have been taken to India.
– - She could, under paragraph b of sub-clause 1. All that Was necessary was to put her in charge of a white person.
– We know that there are all sorts of ways to go round the earth.
– That is the way the honorable senator suggested a little while ago when I was dealing with the case of a boy under eighteen years of age.
– It is of no use to quote hypothetical cases. We are dealing with cases that have occurred and have been brought under the notice of Ministers. It is because we are extremely anxious to prevent a repetition of these cases that we desire that paragraphs a, b, and c of subclause 1 shall be retained. To strike out paragraph b or amend it in the way suggested by Senator Millen would weaken the Bill, and would permit such cases to occur from time to time. We do not want any repetition of them, and for that reason I hope the amendment will not be agreed to.
– The clause has been very fully discussed on both sides. One thing that the discussion has suggested to my mind is that the public outside may well wonder what kind of a Parliament this is. At one time it was .troubled about the people who should be kept out of Australia, and now it is troubled about the people who should be prevented from leaving Australia.
– It is necessary to take both into account.
– Because one very flagrant case has occurred to which the attention of the Government and people of Australia has been very properly directed, the Government propose that all children in Australia under eighteen years of age, and their parents, should, in this connexion, be kept under the strictest surveillance. I have said that I think paragraph b of sub-clause 1 is unnecessary. Senator Millen does not go so far, and, wishing to preserve the intention of the measure, suggests a modification providing for the written consent of parents or guardians. Without special reference to the colour of the skin it may be said that no “white” man would allow his child to leave Australia without taking such precautions as are suggested by Senator Millen. If any Australian parent neglects to take such precautions, it will be time enough to interfere, and not until then. The people of Australia recognise that with respect to some children engagements might be made of an immoral character. That is why we are considering this Bill. But the parents of Australia are not prepared to go so far as to leave it to the unqualified discretion of a Minister or official to say when and how their children shall leave ‘the Commonwealth. Senator Millen goes half way to meet the Government, and suggests that when the parents of an Australian child desire that he should leave Australia for a legitimate purpose, and are unable to go with him, they should have an option.
– To get a permit or provide a guardian?
- Senator Millen suggests that they should be in a position to adopt the safeguard of laying down instructions as to the persons to whom the child is to be sent, and that it is only where that care has not been taken that the Go- vernment should intervene.To give an illustration, it is proposed that a child sixteen or seventeen years of age shall be sent put of the Commonwealth, and the Government ask,” Why is this child leaving Australia?” The answer would be from the parent in the first instance, “ My child is going to so-and-so; here are the directions to the authorities and those to whom my child is going. Whether you legislate or not that is practically what will be done. That is what Senator Millen is contending for. When the discretion is exercised in writing by the parent thereought to be no interference by the Commonwealth. The objection to our contention is that a particular case has happened where, according to official documents, a consent was given to a girl being taken outside the Commonwealth. This measure will not prevent a case of that kind from occurring.
– That contract could not have been taken under this measure.
– Yes, it could. I do not think that the Government have grasped the point.
– Under this Bill the stepfather could not have taken away the white girl referred to.
– When the parent makes a contract in writing and gives awritten consent to a daughter being taken out of Australia, the Commonwealth can go behind the contract if it is one for immoral purposes. It can intervene under the common law quite apart from this, legislation. The objectof the amendment is. to insure that parents who wish to, send their children, out of Australia for legitimate purposes. shall take certain precautions. That is a very proper thing to do, and it will be done in any, case. Our desire is to suggest to the Ministry a via media which will prevent mischief or worse than mischief accruing, or in other words, to take away a power which may be usedby the Government or a stupid official to inflict injury on children and on parentswho desire to do the very best for themselves and. their children.
– Is it an immoral purpose f or a girl to be taken from Australia to be converted to Mahommedanism ?
– That is a very nice question ; but I should think it would be declared an illegal purpose; the Commonwealth could interfere on that ground.
– Under the common law, and in other ways, the Commonwealth has ample power to stop the evil aimed at.
– The letter read to the Committee by the Honorary Minister has furnished another reason why we should make haste slowly with this clause. It is all very well for the honorable senator, with an afterknowledge of events, to say that under this Bill permission for the girl to leave Australia would not have been given on the terms of that letter. I wish to point out how harshly this provision will work.Suppose that a parent sends a letter to the Minister saying that his daughter is about to go, not to India, but to a foreign country, for instance, to China, as a missionary. Before a permit can be obtained, the Minister has to be satisfied on certain points.
– I would not allow a white woman to go to China.
– Suppose that the Minister receives a letter from a mother saying that her daughter, who is seventeen years of age, is about to go to Fiji to act as governess in a family. Possibly he is an astute man, and, having read between the lines of the letter, he will subject the girl and her family to an inquiry, to which decent persons should not be put. As soon as. the Commonwealth or a State steps in to interfere with the arrangements of a family-, it will not prevent what it is aiming at, but will only harass a number of innocent persons. I am not finding fault with the good intention of the Minister or the measure, but pointing out that it will be ineffective to achieve its object, and will cause a large amount of trouble and inconvenience to citizens. In my opinion, the clause conferson the Minister too much power, and I think that the Committee will be well advised if they negative it. I shall vote for the. amendment to improve the clause, and then vote to strike it out of the Bill.
. -If the present insanity amongst young women continues much longer, itwill be necessary to prevent women of any age from going to China as missionaries.
– Why should you want to prevent them?
– For many reasons, which must be obvious to the honorable senator.
– I do not know what right you have to interfere with the free action of any person.
– We have the right of a strong majority. I have no dislike for Chinamen in their own country. I feel quite certain that the risks and dangers run by white women who go to China as missionaries is sufficient warrant for us to put obstacles in the way of any women going there.
– You would smash up the foreign missionary societies.
– I do not think that that would be a disadvantage. Those who wish to convert heathens may find any amount of work to do in Australia, instead of going to China, where such work is very much like pouring water on a duck’s back. If the written consent of the parents of young persons who wish to leave Australia be required, will it not put them to as much trouble as if you asked them to get a permit from an official ? Some reference has been made to the case of young persons going to Fiji. Senator Gardiner paid a visit to that country, and, according to his statement, it is a very good place to stay away from, particularly in the case of women, who, of course, lack the physical stamina to withstand the climatic disadvantages which he possesses. As regards the far-fetched cases of young girls going to the Old Country to complete their education, I do not believe that there is one case in a thousand where a girl has gone without a guardian, because I reckon that there are dangers to be guarded against even on a long sea passage.
– Suppose that the parents of a girl cannot afford to pay for a guardian to travel with her?
– There is no doubt that any budding musical genius who desires to visit the Old Country to complete his or her education can easily escape the restrictions imposed by this Bill. I think that honorable senators opposite are raising imaginary troubles. In all old countries, and probably in some new ones, there is a white-slave traffic in women, and it is very much wiser for us to endeavour to cope with that evil in its initial stages than to delay action until it becomes a public scandal, as it has done in some parts of Europe. The little inconvenience which will be occasioned to young persons who may wish to leave the Commonwealth, by compelling them to secure a permit, need not worry anybody, because it will be to their advantage that the legal authorities here should know the country to which they are going, and also why they are going.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that we may pass any law so long as it does not inconvenience the majority.
– The ordinary laws in relation to crime and misdemeanour do not touch those who do no wrong. The same argument is applicable here. Young persons will merely have to secure a Government permit-
– A lad will have to secure a permit, although he may be eighteen years of age.
– I think that, inthe case of males, a younger limit should be imposed.
.-It appears to me to be absurd that, in the absence of a Government permit, a rising youth should be prevented from leaving Australia for the Old Country to learn a trade, or to make himself proficient in a thousand other ways. .
– We have to send a wet-nurse with him.
– I was only a boy when I left my own Country, and I know many boys who were sent to the Old Land when they were only fifteen years of age, and who are now splendid representatives of humanity.
– Would the honorable senator allow girls of twelve or thirteen years of age to leave Australia without authority?
– I am not speaking of girls. Why do not the Government confine the Bill to girls? If they will do so I will support them. To apply the measure to boys is ridiculous, and will make us the laughing-stock of other countries.
– I am sure that the Committee merely desire to amend the Bill in some particulars, because they recognise that it goes too far. I am not wedded to my amendment, but I do think that the Bill goes too far when it stipulates that a young man of eighteen years of age shall not be at Liberty to leave Australia for New Zealand-
– A young man of eighteen years of age will be able to leave Australia.
– Then, to be absolutely correct, I will say that under the measure a young man who is aged 17 years, n months, 30 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes will not be able to leave Australia.
– He can defer his departure till he is eighteen years of age.
– An amendment of some sort ought to be inserted in the clause, so that we may do away with the great absurdity to which reference has already been made. I am quite prepared to allow the clause to pass in its present form, if the Government will undertake to amend the definition clause with that object in view.
– I ask Senator Millen to temporarily withdraw his amendment so as to afford me an opportunity to submit a prior amendment. I desire to move that in paragraph a of sub-clause 1 the word “child” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ girl,” and that a similar alteration be made in paragraph b.
– I shall have great pleasure in acceding to Senator Gardiner’s request. If his amendment be adopted, I would suggest that the Government should regard it as indicative of the desire of the Committee that they should recommit the definition clause with a view to making one amendment cover the whole Bill. It is only possible to obtain the sense of the Committee by submitting some such amendment as that which has been outlined by Senator Gardiner. I ask leave to temporarily withdraw my proposal.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– If the amendment which I intend to move in this clause be carried, I think that the definition clause should be recommitted.
– Why not insert the word “ female “ before the word “ child”?
– Would not the insertion of the word “ girl “ in lieu of “ child “ make the paragraph equally clear ?
– When the age limit has been altered the honorable senator will see the difference.
– Possibly. In the circumstances I move -
That in paragraph a of sub-clause 1, after the word “ any “ the word “ female !i be inserted.
. -I suggested the same proposal in regard to paragraph b of sub-clause 1, and I still’ think that the insertion of the word ‘ ‘ female ‘ ‘ in that provision would prove of great value. But I do not believe that it would prove equally efficacious in paragraph a. To my mind, it is a good thing to prevent children of both sexes who are under eighteen years of age from being taken from Australia to foreign countries under contract.
– The honorable senator does not wish to stop persons who are nearly eighteen years of age from leaving the Commonwealth under contract.
– We know that the growth of children of tender years becomes stunted, and that their moral nature is liable to be warped when they are taken to foreign countries under such conditions. Therefore, whilst I think_that paragraph a of sub-clause 1 should not be amended in the way that has been indicated, paragraph b might be so amended with advantage. To my mind, a limit of sixteen years would be sufficient to provide in the case of males.
.- 1 trust that the amendment will not be persevered with. We are now dealing with children under contract, and we have to recognise that no child under eighteen years of age ought to be allowed to leave the Commonwealth unless his or her welfare has been adequately safeguarded. We are not considering the cases of boys who are eighteen years of age, but those of lads of nine years or ten years of age who wish to leave Australia under contract. Surely no honorable senator desires such children to leave the Commonwealth without some supervision being exercised over them ! I was very much surprised that an honorablesenator upon this side of the chamber should have submitted this proposal. We ought to recognise that -the “provision contained in paragraph a of sub-clause 1 is very different from that which is embodied in paragraph b. I trust that the amendment will not be carried.
– ] recognise that there is a good deal of force in what Senator Barker has said. But, just as this clause will prevent a young child from leaving the Commonwealth under contract, it will also prevent a youth who is aged seventeen years and six months from quitting it under similar conditions.
– Then the honorable senator should move to reduce the age limit to sixteen years.
– If the Government will recommit the Bill with a view to effecting an amendment in ihe definition clause, I am prepared to allow this clause to pass. I quite recognise the difficulty of drafting a provision 70 meet the case. I would” suggest that ihe clause should be agreed to in its present form on the understanding that the Ministry will recommit the Bill for the purpose of redrafting the definition clause so as to make it accord with the general wish which has been expressed by honorable senators. If my, amendment be not carried I shall submit a similar proposal in reference to paragraph b, and I feel sure that the good sense of the Committee will adopt It.
– I think that we have had a very fair discussion upon this clause. I am not disposed to support Senator Gardiner’s amendment upon paragraph a, sub-clause 1, because I am sure that no honorable senator wishes to allow children, either heys or girls, to leave Australia under contract without the protection of the Com.monwealth
– Can I hot apprentice my boy to a merchant in New Zealand?
– The honorable senator can get a permit.
– Why should I have to get a permit?
- Senator Gardiner has referred to boys of sixteen or seventeen years of age going abroad to be apprenticed. The Government are prepared to re-commit the definition clause, and to fix such an age for boys as the Committee may desire. But, as far as girls are concerned, I do not think that any honorable senator wishes to reduce the age below eighteen. The Government are prepared to bring the age for boys down to sixteen; but not lower.
– Make it fifteen.
– Why should we? The days have gone by when a boy of nine, ten, or eleven, should be compelled to work in Australia. Boys at that age ought to be at school learning to read and write.
– I had to earn my living at thirteen years of age.
– But the days when such things were allowed have gone for ever. I acted as a scarecrow when I was a little over six years of age. But the children of Australia ought never to be treated as were the children of older countries fifty or sixty years ago. In some States of this country, boys are not allowed to leave school before they reach the age of fifteen. The Government are quite prepared to meet honorable senators in a reasonable way ; but, if they are opposed to the Bill, they should not have consented to the second reading.
– We do not know what the Bill means, now that we have come to look into it.
– Honorable senators know perfectly well what the Bill means; but if they want to pass legislation to re-establish such conditions as existed when they were children, they ought not to be in a Legislature representing the Commonwealth of Australia, where we wish to strengthen the more civilized conditions that have been gradually established.
– In view of the fact that the Government have agreed to the recommittal of the Bill, I suppose that I may as well withdraw my amendment. But, before doing so, I wish to enter my protest against any undue interference on the part of the Commonwealth with the rights of parents. If I wish to send my boy to learn a trade with a great engineering firm in Glasgow, or in the United States - if I wish to send him anywhere to learn a business which I think can be better taught abroad than in Australia - I do not want to have to say, “ By your leave, Mr. Minister.” I recognise that social conditions are better now than they were when the Vice-President of the Executive Council spent his early boyhood scaring crows; but I wish to assure him that nothing that he can say on this question will frighten me away from the patch.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
The master, owner, or agent of any vessel who has reason to suspect that any passenger or intending passenger by the vessel for any place outside the Commonwealth is a prohibited emigrant, shall, before the departure of the vessel, give notice in writing to the Collector ‘or other principal officer of Customs at the port where the vessel is, stating the name of the passenger or intending passenger and his reason for suspecting that the passenger or intended passenger is a prohibited emigrant.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.
– This clause seems to me to be altogether useless. How is it possible to prove that the master, owner, or agent of any vessel “ has reason to suspect “ that a passenger is a prohibited emigrant? If the captain of a ship takes his vessel away with a prohibited emigrant on board, how is it to be proved that he or the owner or agent had “ reason to suspect “ ? It appears to me that the clause cannot possibly have any effect, and, indeed, cannot be worked. It is not the duty of a ship’s captain to look after such matters.
– I hope that the Government will consent to the elimination of the clause. Who on earth is going to determine whether the master, owner, or agent had “ reason to suspect “ ?
– It is merely a “ fault in draftsmanship.”
– It may be so, but we do not want to commit faults in legislation. How can any one prove “ reason to suspect “ ? Some people think that when a tooth falls out the proper thing to do is to sprinkle salt on it and to throw it in a certain direction, when everything will be all right. This clause is like salt on an old tooth. But surely we have got beyond that sort of thing nowadays.
– Before honorable senators come to the conclusion that this clause is of no use, I should like to point out that a similar provision is contained in the Immigration Restriction Act as well as in other similar measures. I may as well tell those who are always endeavouring to protect somebody from danger that exists only in their imagination that the clause is for the purpose of preventing collusion between any one who wishes to get a young person away from Australia and the master of a ship. When such a provision is inserted in an Act of Parliament the master of a ship knows that it is his duty, if he has reason to believe that he has a prohibited emigrant on board, to report the fact to the authorities. Does Senator Vardon mean to say that under certain circumstances the master of a ship will not have reason to believe that there is something wrong which he ought to report? I am quite sure that all honorable senators desire to put an end to such a traffic as we have in view, in the interests of the children of this country.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 and 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 (Power of officer to remove child or aboriginal native from vessel).
.- I should like to direct the attention of honorable senators, who were so shocked at the amendment to this Bill which I suggested a little while ago, to the fact that this clause gives the Government all the drastic powers with which I said they ought to be invested. I wish those who expressed astonishment at what I suggested to realize what they will be doing in agreeing to this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 16, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Amendment (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 2.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Child “ means a child under the age of eighteen years;
– There was a general agreement as to an amendment which should be made in the definition of “ child “; and, to meet the wishes of the majority of the Committee, I move; -
That after the word “ years “ the words “ in the case of a female child, and sixteen years in the case of a male child “ be inserted.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I wish to state the reason for the introduction of the Bill and its objects. In November, 1907, a subscriber to the Newcastle Telephone Exchange complained that the name of a livery-stable proprietor had been placed opposite his telephone number in a telephone list published, and that, in consequence, he and his wife were subjected to much annoyance and inconvenience. Inquiries made by the Department showed that the complaint was well founded. As a result, they sought the opinion of the Crown Solicitor, in order., if possible, to prevent the publication of unauthorized lists. He gave it as his opinion that the Department had no power under the Post and Telegraph Act, or any regulation thereunder, to prevent the issue of such lists, and he went on to say -
The matter could, in my opinion, be dealt with by a regulation framed for that purpose, or by registering each list as it is issued, by the Department under the Copyright Act of 1905. In my opinion, however, an appropriate regulation would be the better way of dealing with the matter.
Following upon that advice; a regulation was drafted by the Crown Law authorities, and received’ Executive approval in 1908. This was the regulation drawn up and circulated -
Printing of Telephone Lists. - 126A (1) Any person who, without the authority of the PostmasterGeneral, prints, publishes,or circulates, or authorizes the printing, publishing, or circulating of any list of all or any of the subscribers connected with any telephone exchange shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Ten pounds.
All lists published in contravention of this r egulation shall be forfeited to the Postmaster- General, and shall on demand in writing be de- livered up to him.
In 1909, tenders were invited for the privilege of inserting advertisements in the Commonwealth directories.
– Was it not rather low down to try to make money out of the directories ?
– That is the course Ghat was adopted. Tenders were accepted, one for the privilege in. connexion with directories of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, and another for Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania. In January, 19 10, after the regulation to which I have referred had been approved of, the firm that secured the contract for the advertisements for Victoria called the attention of the Department to the fact that unauthorized lists were being printed, in which advertisements appeared, and complained that these were injuring his interests, since he was under the impression in tendering that he would have the sole right to issue directories in which advertisements might appear. The publisher of the unauthorized list felt that he was in no way contravening the Act, and continued to publish a list containing advertisements. The Department stepped in to prevent his action, and the case was contested in the High Court, with the result that the High Court ruled that the regulation I have quoted was ultra vires. In consequence of that ruling, we ask honorable senators to pass this Bill, which has already been approved’ of in another place. We believe that it is necessary for the effective working of the Department, and in order that we may do justice to the firms that have been successful in tendering for the publication of these directories. Those who print and circulate private lists have claimed that they are accurate and reliable, but I am able to say that, as the result of an examination by departmental officers of one of these lists, no less than sixty-seven errors were discovered in sixty-three pages.
– If they make mistakes they destroy the value of their publication.
– Apart from that consideration we think that the Department should have sole control of the directories issued. If private individuals are permitted to issue these lists as commercial ventures they will be without responsibility, and other cases similar to that which moved the Department to take action in this matter will probably arise.
– Has any case come before a Court yet?
– I have mentioned one case. The private publisher in that case fought the matter in the High Court, and, as I have said, the High Court ruled that the departmental regulation was ultra vires.
– The question there was whether the private individual had a right to publish a list, and not as to whether the list was right or wrong.
– Under the existing Act a private individual might publish a list whether it was correct or incorrect, and the Department contend that no unauthorized individual in any part of the Commonwealth should be allowed to do that. In connexion with the matter of offences, clause 4 of the Bill deals with the destruction of insulators. Under the Post and Telegraph Act the only means of dealing with those who break insulators is by proceeding against them under section 130, which makes a person found guilty of the offence liable to a penalty not exceeding £25, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months. In the case of children proceedings under this section are, of course, objectionable from many points of view, and we propose an alteration of the law in order that we may proceed in such cases not against children under sixteen years of age, but against the parents of those children, in order to put a stop to their mischief in damaging departmental property and causing inconvenience to telephone subscribers and the stoppage of telegraphic communication.
– lt is somewhat difficult to follow the Minister’s principal argument in support of this Bill to the effect that the High Court has ruled that the Government have not the sole right under the existing Act to issue telephone lists. I am not interested in the rest of the Bill. At the present time the Government issue a telephone list, of which I have a copy in my hand. It contains advertisements, and, on the whole, is not a bad list, but in some respects it does not compare with a private list which was published not long ago, which also contains advertisements, but which is arranged on a far better system. I think that it applies to only Melbourne and its suburbs, and to country exchanges connected with Melbourne. Apart from the advertisements, which, I admit, are a bit of an annoyance, it is, in my opinion, much better than the departmental book. It not only gives an alphabetical list of everybody connected with the various exchanges, but also gives the exchanges arranged in numerical order. Suppose that a man lives in a boarding-house, and a person calls at the place, and says, “ Kindly call up 244 Yarra later.” By turning to the book he can immediately find out who 244 Yarra is - a thing which cannot be done by means of the departmental book. It is quite a common thing, if a person happens to answer a telephone call, for somebody to ask, “Is that 611 Yarra?” or “Is that 244 Windsor?” and the answers from one person to another are very often given by means of numbers and the names of the exchanges. Here is a privately-owned book, in which, of course, I have no interest, and which I received the other day. It does not matter whether you get the name or the number when you are called up. So long as you get the ex change you can always ascertain by a reference to the book who has called you up. It is compiled in the same form as the double entry catalogue which is issued in connexion with libraries, and which gives the name of the author of a book and the number it bears in the library. The same principle is followed in the compilation of this privately-owned telephone book. If you may know the number which is calling you up, you are able to immediately ascertain who the person calling is. With the official book, what can you do? You must know the name of the person who is calling you up or you cannot identify him. When I came to Melbourne three or four years ago I wanted to find certain persons. I could not ascertain the name of the boardinghouse in . which they were supposed to be living. I could not find them anywhere, until at last I met some person in the parliamentary building who happened to know the name of the person who ran the boardinghouse. Honorable senators will realize that if a person has to go through all the numbers in order to pick up 244 Central, or Malvern, or Cheltenham, it will occupy him a very long time, probably a week. I do not suggest that the Department should not compile its telephone book according to this system, which, in my opinion, is the better one. If I thought that in future - the Department intended to compile its book on that system, I should probably be quite agreeable to allow it a monopoly of the business. Apparently, what the Government are scared about is that competition is going to be set up with the departmental book, and that the persons who are issuing the private telephone book will get better advertisements and higher prices, and that they will lose advertisements. They do not despise advertisements. On nearly every page of the departmental book are advertisements, and, apparently, the Government are afraid that they will be wiped out.
– Yes, and so destroythe value of the departmental book.
– Surely my honorable friend is not going to argue that we should insist upon giving the public poor value for their money rather than let a private individual give them good value?
– No. Why should not the Commonwealth give good value?
– If the Department is prepared to give good value for the money. I am willing to allow it to have a monopoly of the business. We have heard a great deal about monopolies, but why shouldthe Government insist upon getting a monopoly?
– Why should they not?
– Surely that is not an argument from a logical person like my honorablefriend - that rather than have no monopoly there should be a Government monopoly.
– Nationalize it.
– Yes, nationalize even the advertising in connexion with telephone exchanges !
– There ought to be no advertisements in the telephone books.
– I venture to say that the honorable senator will not propose an amendment’ to that effect. . I only want to discuss the difference between the two kinds of telephone book. I hold that the privately-owned book is better than the departmental book. I ask the Government how far is this thing to be carried. Take the Mutual Store, which I believe has a number of telephones in connexion with its various departments. Does this Bill mean that the Mutual Store will not be permitted to post in its own building a list of its various telephones? I venture to say that it does mean that. Again, take the Hotel Metropôle in Sydney. Does this Bill mean that on each floor of the building the proprietors cannot post a list of the various connexions from the telephone for the benefit of the residents ? That is what it means if it means anything. Then take the case of a small country township where cards containing 30 or 40 or 50 names are published and distributed among the subscribers to the telephone exchange.I notice that a patriotic Government always lets a contract for the publication of the cards. The contractor goes round the township and collects advertisements from business men in order to surround with advertisements the names of the few subscribers on the cards. Are we to understand that in future no private firm in a country township will be allowed to post on its own premises a list of telepnone subscribers? I venture to say that there is not a member of either House of this Parliament with a telephone on his premises who has not a list of the principal persons whom his house is accustomed to call up. In my opinion, the Government are making a mistake. If the Department is not able to compete against all comers and issue the best possible book it ought to ask for no legal authority to suppress opposition. They are afraid that somebody or other will issue a better list. Yet they turn round and tell us that they fear that some person may publish an incorrect list. A business firm which publishes an incorrect list will do themselves far more damage than they would do the Department. The latter would not be damaged because the former published an incorrect list. I venture to say that the Minister will not be able to show that any damage would be done to the Department.
– The customers of the Department would be annoyed.
– It is really lovely to hear that statement concerning a Department which has put up the charge against every body and is afraid that some of the customers may cost them an extra halfpenny or penny in three weeks.
– According to your argument, we should allow private enterprise to put up telephones as well as to issue directories.
– I am not arguing that private persons should be allowed to erect telephones. If that question were before the Senate, I might argue that that right should be given. I know many parts of Australia where the telephones run by private persons are far better than those run by the Department ; I refer to the telephones on sheep stations.
– They are licensed.
– The Department are making a mistake. It is now practically saying, not that it intends to issue a telephone list which will appeal to the public more than any other list, but that it intends to issue a telephone list, and, no matter how inferior it may be, no matter how many mistakes it may contain, nobody shall issue anything better than it can publish.
– I hope that this Bill will meet a fate similar to that which has been meted out to one or two other measures which were more or less a very stupid travesty on legislation. Of course, the introduction of this Bill is due partly to a decision from the High Court in a case where the right of a private individual to issue a telephone list was fairly contested. The case also involved the construction of the Post and Telegraph Act. As the result of the decision which was given, the Government now come down and propose that nobody in the Commonwealth shall be permitted to issue a telephone list. What is to be gained by the passing of this measure ? I do not suppose that the Government will trouble about the matter, provided that they can secure a monopoly for some particular purpose. I admit that not only in postal and telegraph matters, but in other matters, we have to consider “the establishment of a private monopoly ; but the time is fast coming when the most stupid of all monopolies is going to be created - a Government monopoly in respect to almost every action of our lives.
– The oracle has spoken.
– And a dog has barked.
– Order !
– I only completed a quotation, sir. We have to be careful in dealing with this measure. I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council what public object he expects to attain, or what particular object can be attained, by restricting the right of a private individual to issue a telephone list? If it be superfluous, there is one benefit which flows from that superfluity in that every man who has the enterprise to embark upon this business is afforded an opportunity to make something out of it, and to provide employment for somebody to print that particular telephone list. Does any disadvantage result to the worker if a man chooses to invest his money in an enterprise which proves to be a superfluity? As Senator Chataway has already pointed out, if a private individual issues a telephone directory which is inaccurate, and if the Government publish one which is consistently accurate, people will, of their own volition, gradually cease to use the former, and will pin their faith to the latter. Nobody will suggest that the telephone directory which is issued monthly by the Government is an infallible publication. There is scarcely a member of the public who has frequently to use that directory who does not discover- errors in it, If the intention of the Bill be to grant a monopoly in the matter of mistakes to the official telephone list, well and good. But surely it is better that we should have a telephone directory in competition with the Government publication - a directory which costs the taxpayer nothing, which may be advantageous to him, and which has the effect of making the official directory more accurate than it otherwise would be. No injury can result to the public from the issue of private telephone lists. But evidently the Government wish to establish a monopoly in the matter of advertisements. They desire tosay to the public, “ We intend to issue for telephone and postal purposes a book qf our own. We propose to fill it with advertisements, and to charge for them exactly what -we choose.” Will that be advantageousto the public? I notice that the Government telephone directory contains advertisements by Smith, Jones, and Robinson. I was about to say that, so far, it does not contain any advertisements relating towhisky. But I find that somebody’s wines are advertised in it, and that a chemist also advertises in its pages. We know that there are some chemists who advertise wares whose use is not ‘ advantageous to the- public-
– What is the object of this?
– The Government wish to secure a monopoly in the matter of advertising. When the Minister interjects, I always know that I am drawinghim. Every postal directory in the world contains advertisements, and the cost of those publications is defrayed chiefly bythe prices paid for the’ advertisements. Do the Government intend to eliminate advertisements from the official telephone directory ? I am speaking on behalf of theindividualist and of private enterprise.
– The honorable senator is purely anti-sosh.
– I am purely pro-individualistic. To my mind, this is one of those injudicious extensions of the powers of government, which can confer no advantage on the public, and which is only a senseless interference with privateenterprise.
– Is the honorable senator “ stone- walling “?
– I am for the present, if the honorable senator chooses soto regard my action.
– What is the object of “ stone- wal ling “ to-night?
– I wish to prevent the passing of this Bill, which seeks to impose a prohibition upon the publicationof private telephone lists.
– The honorable senatorwill not succeed in preventing the passage of the Bill. He will only make us miss our trams.
– If the Government engage in the printing of a telephone directory, obviously it must embrace the whole of the States, and it is far more convenient to the public that a separate telephone directory should be issued for each State. If this sort of legislation be sanctioned, will anybody be empowered to issue a postal directory? I would further ask whether the Government- if they establish this monopoly - can satisfy the requirements of the public?
– The Honorary Minister cited only one case in which a complaint was made to the Department.
– Cannot the Government check such complaints without the aid of an Act of Parliament? I cannot at the moment place my hand on the circular which has been addressed to me on this subject. But I am informed that if the Bill be passed it will inflict injury on many persons who are conferring an advantage on the public, and who have no desire to clash with the interests of the Department.
.. - The whole of this trouble seems to have arisen from the fact that the Government have entered into the’ advertising business, and that somebody has come into competition with them with the result that they have suffered. They should cease inserting advertisements in the official telephone directory forthwith. The Telephone Branch of the Post and Telegraph Department is a big commercial department. Those who use the telephone are obliged to pay for the service rendered to them. In return, they have a right to be supplied with a telephone list as complete and convenient as it can possibly be made. If the Government will do that, and throw out their advertisements they will have no competition. Surely it is beneath the dignity of a great public Department to canvass for advertisements for the sake of’ the few paltry pounds which they derive thereby.
– Advertisements of Mother Seigel’s Syrup, and so forth.
– AU sorts of advertisements may be put unto, these lists. A sum of £iop or £200 derived from ad;vertisements is infinitesimal compared with the business, done by the. Department.
– The Bill does not say that there shall be no competition. It merely says that no. one can issue: a tele phone list without the authority of the Postmaster-General.
– I should like to see the curt reply that a person would get who applied to the Postmaster-General for authority to issue a list. The Government have simply brought in a Bill, which says, “ We are not going to allow any one outside the Department to do anything for the convenience of the public.”
-A rather unfortunate interjection was made just now by Senator Rae, when he suggested the possibility of the Government granting authority to a private person to issue a telephone list. The plea made for this Bill is that unauthorized lists sometimes contain errors, whereby the Department is subjected to some inconvenience. What would happen if the Department did give authority to a private person to issue a list which contained errors? The “authority” provision may be taken as merely one of those pieces of padding which make for attractiveness in a Bill, but are not intended to have any effect. It is not intended by the Department to grant any authority to issue private lists. Otherwise, this Bill would not have been introduced.
– Authority will not be given to issue complete lists.
– The Department may allow a small list of the public offices to be. printed for the use of members of Parliament, but we may take it for granted that no authority will be given to issue lists which will be generally useful. I admit at once that I cannot offer any strong opposition to the Bill, for the simple reason - and this is the strongest condemnation I can offer - that I do not think that private lists are likely to succeed1 or will continue to be issued five minutes after the Department issues a. convenient list of its own, In New South’ Wales, at any rate, telephone lists were originally issued by the Post and Telegraph Department, on the model of lists privately issued in Melbourne. It was possible, by means of such- a list, to- turn up the number of. any subscriber whose name one had forgotten, because the occupations were classified. There were lists of tailors, tinsmiths, and so forth, grouped in convenient form-. No privately-issued list came into competition with the Government: list when it was published in that form, for; the simple reason, that She Government studied the convenience of the- public, arndt the : list contained everything which apri ate firm could offer. It was not until the Department made its lists less attractive and useful that private enterprise said, “.Here is a want which the Post and Telegraph Department is not meeting, and it is not unreasonable that we should attempt to do so.” There is the whole position. I venture to say that if the Government would issue a properly uptodate and business-like telephone list no private list could live three months in competition with it. The real reason why the Government want this Bill is not shown bv the flimsy excuse offered by the Minister - that some errors have occurred in private lists. If the Department is to follow that line of argument it should go much farther. The real reason is that the Department finds that its own lists are being neglected in favour of privatelypublished lists. Why? People do not spend even so small a sum as is. upon something which they do not want when the same tiling is supplied gratuitously by a public Department. Why do the public buy these private telephone list’s? Because they contain something which the official directory does not supply. The Government not having supplied what the public want, private enterprise has determined to do so. But now the Government come along by means of this Bill, and play the dog-in-the-manger. They say, “ We will not supply this convenience to the public ourselves, and will not allow any one else to do so.” Let me show how flimsy the excuse offered by the Minister is. Not infrequently country newspapers publish, for the convenience of their readers, time-tables and telephone lists relating to the small local exchanges. If the Department be sincere in its protestations that these privately-published lists sometimes contain errors, why do they not prevent every country journal in Australia from publishing that kind of information ? Is it proposed to do so now ? No. Why not? Because the newspapers do not come into competition with the Department’s own inferior lists. The Department does not care how many errors are made, and does not raise a finger to stop them.
– No one would mistake a list published in a newspaper for an official list.
– I might say the same about this privately-issued list.
– The majority of people may take it to be an official list.
– It is distinctly stated on the cover to be non-official.
– People do not look at the cover.
– Are the public of Melbourne such fools as that, although the Department supplies to them this official list, they nevertheless buy a list which is privately published?
– There is the same proportion of fools in this city as in every other.
– It is a pity that people buy lists which are superior to those issued by the Government !
– There is the whole point. If the Department wishes to place itself in a sound position, it ought, concurrently with the introduction of this Bill, to say: “We will give to our subscribers a telephone list which is in all respects equal to the list which private enterprise supplies. : ‘ It is admitted by Senator Barker, who knows this city better than I do, that the privately-issued book is superior to the Government directory.
– Senator Barker speaks for himself.
– I say that the telephone list issued in New South Wales before Federation was a superior one to the list now issued by the Government. In addition to giving all the information which the Government list gave, it also grouped the telephone subscribers in accordance with their occupations. Before the Government attempt to suppress private enterprise, they ought, at least, to supply that which private enterprise is willing to supply. There is no justification for the Government attempting. to suppress private enterprise, unless it makes a reasonable effort to do just as much for the public as private enterprise does.
– The Government ought to do more.
– No one should quarrel with me when I say that when a Government undertakes to do a service for the public they should give a guarantee that they will give at least as good a service as private enterprise gives.
– Hear, hear; I agree with the honorable senator.
– Th.e Post and Telegraph Department is not doing that now. There might be some justification for what is proposed if the Government list were sold to subscribers. They might then say, “ We will not permit a competitor to come in.” But, as the Government list is issued free to subscribers, it can make no difference whether the user of a telephone chooses to have two directories alongside of him or not. The Government is not interfered with in any way if a subscriber chooses to buy fifty telephone directories.
– Is it not inconvenient to have two telephone lists in a telephone cabinet? Is it not better for the public to have only one?
– The answer to the honorable senator is that the public buy the book. Why do they do so? Is it for charity or for fun? Is it a freak on their part, or is it not because it supplies something which the Department do not supply ? The fact that the private list finds a circulation is ample proof that it contains something which the Department do not include in their publication. If it is a question of the paltry revenue derived from the advertisements-
– Which ought not to be there at all.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator in that, because I look upon the Post and Telegraph Department as, to. a certain extent, a commercial department, and I see no reason why it should not secure all the income it can by adopting ordinary commercial methods. But it is a pitiable spectacle that for the sake of a paltry £50 or ^100 a year, derived from advertisements in the official directories, we should be asked to pass a Bill to suppress private enterprise. It is an admission that this Government Department is unable to hold its own in competing for a few paltry advertisements against private enterprise. If I had anything to do with the Department, I should be ashamed to make such an admission. Run on proper lines, it should be able to overcome all competition of this kind; but the fact remains that it is unable to do so.
– I suppose the honorable senator would permit private enterprise to take up the carrying of letters also.
– I have not suggested anything of the kind ; but if the Post and Telegraph Department were not prepared to give reasonable mail facilities, private enterprise should be given- the opportunity to do so. I say, with respect to the telephone directory that the public are not getting what they want in the Government free publication, and that is proved by the fact that they buy what they want from some one else. The Government should see that, in this matter, the Department mend their ways, even though it should be necessary to go back to provide such a directory as was provided ten years ago in New South Wales.
– The last remarks made by Senator Millen supply me with a reason for supporting the Bill. I should prefer to see the issue of telephone lists confined to one authority, as in that case, if an incorrect list were issued, we should know whom to blame for it.
– Much good that would do.
– The Department would not be impervious to all complaints. It would have to stir itself up and do something to bring about a better state of affairs if its publication were continually complained of. We know that mistakes occur in the telephone lists. A friend of mine recently brought under my notice the fact that, although he had been paying for a telephone for three months, his name had not yet been included in the official list of subscribers. It is better that the Department should have the sole control of this matter.
– -The honorable senator does not consider the public.
– I agree with Senator Millen that there is room in the official list for vast improvement ; and we must look to the Department to publish a list which will be of convenience to the general public. The main point is that there should be some one authority responsible for the issue of a reliable list which will provide the public with the maximum of convenience.
.- I do not know whether Senator O’Keefe has had the experience I thought he had; but I can say that if you go to the officers of a Department and complain that they have made a mistake, they will not admit it.
– Parliament has its remedy then.
– What is the remedy for the ordinary individual ? Even a member of this Parliament has the greatest difficulty in getting satisfaction from any of the public Departments. They will carry on a correspondence at great cost; but will not admit that they have made a mistake, and rectify it. Directories of post-offices and telegraph stations are also published; and I have gone to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Tasmania and found that he could not discover the name of a telegraph station in the State from the official directory. A telegram was returned for the reason that it was not properly addressed, and that there were two places in the Commonwealth of the same name, and the name of the telegraph station to which it was addressed was not to be found in the Government .publication. If this matter is left solely in the hands of the Post and Telegraph Department, we shall find them very hard to move. It is admitted that a directory issued by a private firm in thisplace gives better information than does the official directory; but the Government propose to suppress the private publication. If we knew that the Department would issue a list equal to, or better than, the private list issued, we might have some excuse for passing this Bill.
– They will turn over a new leaf now.
– I have had a good many years’ experience of Governments, State and Federal, and I have not known many new leaves to be turned over by any public Department. They get into a certain groove, and it would take a charge of dynamite to shift them out of it.
– We have now a Labour Government.
– The honorable senator reminds me that we have now a Labour Government; but, in another place, a member of that Government said that he was simply a rubber stamp. He said that the Department ran the business, and he merely used a rubber stamp. It was a foolish admission for a Minister to make ; but I believe the honorable gentleman stated a positive fact. The officers of the Departments run nearly every Minister who takes, charge of them, because Ministers have little knowledge of their working, they must rely upon their officers, and cannot take a firm stand. The PostmasterGeneral, for instance, has no more knowledge of the way in which a telephone list should, be issued than has any private member of the Senate. We have to look to the Department, and riot to the Minister, to carry out this business properly. The only reason offered by the Minister for the introduction of this Bill was that some person got wrong information from ‘ a private telephone list. If the Government -were as keen about general complaints -with regard to the working of the Telephone Branch as they have been about this matter, we should have seen a great improvement in its working. We have to ask ourselves why the public pay for a private list when they may obtain the official list for nothing. Business men only do that, because they find the private lists issued in various towns in the Commonwealth better than the official list. The Government propose to prevent them taking advantage of lists which they prefer to buy rather than use the official list which they can have for nothing. The Government, in my opinion, should be only too glad to find private firms willing to publish reliable directories. I have been in many places where the Government directory is thrown on one side, and the private directory used. Private enterprise in this matter would be productive of good. Men are always to be found who are willing to supply the public with what they want. Unlike the Departments, they have to exercise their brains to provide something for which the public will be willing to pay. We are asked to suppress its issue. The Government will not allow private individuals to print a telephone list, but want to keep the business in their own hands, and no matter how bad the departmental list may be, that is all the public will get. That is a wrong way to legislate; it is not advancing, but going back. Apparently the heads of the Department think that it should have the control of this business, and, therefore, they brought before the Minister the complaint of a person that, at some time or other, he got possession of a private telephone list containing a mistake. Surely there are mistakes enough in the departmental list. Senator O’Keefe has mentioned- a case, and I have heard of a number of cases where the name of the last tenant of a house has remained on the official list for a month or six weeks. Can there be anything more absurd than for a man to be unable to find in the list the name of a friend who he knows is a subscriber to the exchange ? The departmental heads are very eager when they want to make out a case. I suppose that they have made out one to the satisfaction of the Minister, and that Parliament will be pressed to pass this measure. I am very sorry that it has been brought in, as it does away with the possibility of any improvement which we might expect to get on the official list, and we shall have to take whatever the Department chooses to supply.
– In their opposition to the Bill, honorable senators have shown that they have not made themselves conversant with the matter on which they have been speaking at some length.
– For which you are responsible.
– You did not give us much information in your opening speech.
– I gave all the information I had at my. disposal.
– That was very little.
– I stated that complaints had been made to the Department by a subscriber to the telephone exchange at Newcastle that he and his wife had been subjected to much inconvenience and annoyance because an advertising firm in that district had placed its name opposite his number in the telephone book; that, as the result of inquiries made, the Department found that the complaints were justified ; and that the Crown Solicitor advised the drafting of a regulation, which was approved by the Executive, but which, after some time, was declared by the High Court to be ultra vires. Are honorable senators pleading that private individuals in this State, or any other part of the Commonwealth, shall be allowed, at their own sweet will, to publish an unauthorized directory to the inconvenience and annoyance to those whose names appear on the official list?
– Not inconvenience; convenience.
– Honorable senators have claimed that the directories privately issued in different parts of the Commonwealth are superior to the official ones.
– Otherwise they would not be purchased.
– That shows how little my honorable friend knows of this subject. Are the private directories purchased ?
– Yes, freely.
– Let us see to what extent they are purchased. Here is one of many directories which are publishedby private individuals for commercial purposes alone. All the work for which the Department has to pay is obtained by these persons without payinga sixpence. It costs the Department a considerable sum to put into proper order for the printer the names of subscribers and the numbers of their telephones.
– For the convenience of its own customers.
– Honorable senators who are opposing the Bill say, in effect, that all that work shall be available to any person in the Commonwealth if he likes to issue it for commercial purposes. They argue that it is issued for such purposes. Further than that, the proprietors are obtaining advertisements. If any person who has compared the two books says that the private directory is superior to the official one, he knows little or nothing about the art of printing. The only difference between the two publications is that the private one has, inaddition to an alphabetical list, a numerical list. As regards the alphabetical list, there is no comparison between the two publications. Holding a directory in his hand, Senator St. Ledger told honorable senators what sort of advertisements it contained, but he did not state that he was reading the advertisements in a directory published by private individuals.
– They are nearly as bad in yourown directory.
– The honorable senator does not mean what he says. Will any fair person say that there is any comparison between the advertisements in the official directory and those in this unsightly publication, for such it is to me as a printer? Senator Millen asks, “How is it that persons pay for a private directory?” They do not.
– They do.
– Here is the wording on the title page - “ Metropolitan Advertising Telephone Directory. July 10. This directory does not purport tobe the official telephone guide. Issued gratis.”
– To whom?
-To the subscribers and to the public.
– Exactly - to the subscribers.
– Who else want it?
– To thesubscribers of that book.
– Who would pay anything for the publication other than those who are on the telephone list ? What value would it be to anybody in this community who was nota telephone subscriber ? Hewould not be bothered with it.
– The proprietors do not issuethe directory for fun, and you know that.
– At various times, probably, the honorable senator has been connected with agricultural societies, athletic clubs, racing associations, and a number of other institutions which could be cited. All these institutions publish official cards or catalogues, which, in many cases, are copyrighted, so that no one shall come into competition with them, and if there are any mistakes they shall be responsible.
– So that they can make money out of them.
– The Post and Telegraph Department does not desire that any unauthorized person in the Commonwealth shall have power to issue a telephone directory, because it wants to shoulder the responsibility, if there is any responsibility, for the correctness of the information. In my opening speech I mentioned that on sixty-three pages of a privately issued directory there were sixty-seven errors.
– And how many errors in the departmental directory?
– Few, if any.
– If any errors appear in our publication they are quickly righted. The Department has power to stop the issue of private publications, but it has to be exercised in a roundabout way. Under the Copyright Act it can copyright every issue of its directory, but that is a cumbersome method to follow, and, therefore, the Parliament is asked to pass this measure so that no unauthorized person shall publish lists to the annoyance and inconvenience of telephone subscribers. Senator Vardon has said that if we eliminated advertisements from our publication we should have no competitors. Does he seriously think that for a moment ? Private directories would thrive then, because their proprietors would have the field to themselves from the advertising point of view.
– Only if the Department failed to make its directory as convenient.
– I maintain that the official directory is much more convenient than is this private one to any subscriber on the list. If the Department were to issue a publication of that character for the use of its subscribers there would be a hue and cry from one end of Australia to the other.
– They do not want advertisements, but information.
– The elimination of advertisements from the official directory would not stop the publication of telephone directories by private individuals. Whether advertisements appear in the official directory or not does not in any way affect my line of reasoning. What we want to see is that no unauthorized person in any part of the Commonwealth shall be permitted to print, circulate, or distribute a telephone directory. The numerical list which formerly appeared in the official directory was to me very convenient indeed. I have been inconvenienced very much at times on being told that such and such a number rang up, and that no name was given. Formerly one was able to look at the numerical list in addition to the alphabetical list. The Government have under consideration the advisability of restoring the numericallist.
– Why did you not say that an hour ago?
– If he had done so it would have stopped this discussion.
– I do not think that anything would have stopped the discussion. It was considered at one time that if the two lists were continued the directory would become so bulky that complaints would be made that the expense was not justified. In the circumstances I hope that the opposition which has been shown to the measure will not be manifested by a call for a division on this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 97).
– Do the Government really intend to prohibit the issue by private individuals of such telephone directories as are correct? I can quite understand their desire to prevent the issue of inaccurate lists, but is if their intention to prevent the publication of accurate lists?
– We intend to prevent the issue of any unauthorized telephone lists.
– That is not an answer to my question. If a private telephone list be correct, will the Government prevent its publication?
– It is just as well that we should have that point made clear. I regret that in the matter of the issue of telephone directories the Government intend to do what no railway depart- ment in the world has done in the matter of the issue of railway time-tables.
.- Assuming that a large business house has twenty or thirty departments, and that a telephone is installed in each department, will the Government permit it to issue a list of those telephones for its own convenience and for the benefit of its customers ?
– The Bill is not intended to apply to such cases as that cited by the honorable senator. I do not know of any business firm which has twenty or thirty distinct telephones installed on its premises, but such a firm would only post the numbers of its telephones in its various departments for the convenience of its employés. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the publication of such a list. The measure is intended to prohibit unauthorized persons from publishing telephone lists throughout the Commonwealth for commercial purposes.
– I am very glad to learn from the Minister that the measure is not intended to apply to such a case as that which I have cited. It would impose great hardship if it were.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I am afraid that a measure dealing with the preservation of Australian industries has come to be regarded as a sort of hardy annual. So far pur attempts to legislate for the suppression of monopolies and trusts has not been very successful. Honorable senators will doubtless recollect that from the outset the members of the party, with which I am associated viewed that legislation somewhat sceptically, and certainly our experience since the parent measure was placed upon the statute-book has not tended to strengthen our confidence in its efficacy.
In one brief sentence we may sum up the net result of anti-trust legislation in Australia. It has been nil.
– Is that the fault of the legislation?
– I think so. There are two causes for it. First, defective legislation, and, secondly, the restraining influence imposed by certain sections of the Constitution which hamper the powers of the National Government. In regard to the legislation which we have enacted, there have been some fifteen or twenty inquiries into cases in which requests have been made that prosecutions should be instituted. But out of the whole of those cases there have been only two prosecutions, the final result of which was that two sections of the principal Act were declared by the High Court to be ultra vires of the Constitution. That is not a very encouraging record. The Government, however, take up the attitude that there has been an undoubted demand on the part of a large section of the people that a restraining influence should be exercised on monopolies. That wish has been voiced by various sections in Parliament, and we are prepared to give our anti- trust legislation a full and fair trial. With that end in view we have introduced this Bill, which is designed to give the Commonwealth further powers - powers which are declared by the Crown Law officers to be absolutely essential if any effective steps are to be taken to prevent monopolies and trusts in Australia from doing things which are detrimental to the public interest.
– Will the Minister tell us where the existing law is defective?
– I shall endeavour to do so. One provision to which the law officers of the Crown, point as a source of great weakness is section 4 of the principal Act, which reads - (1.) Any person who, either as principal of as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is or continues to be a member of or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries, or among the’ States -
That section contemplates two things which it is almost impossible to prove. In the first place, it declares that it is necessary to prove intent to restrain trade - not merely the act of restraint, but intent to perform it. Secondly, it provides that it shall be necessary to prove that the act of restraint is detrimental to the public welfare. It has been found impracticable to establish these two things. Moreover, in this legislation we are endeavouring to copy, to a large extent, the legislation of the United States. Although our legislation inthis connexion has very largely followed the Sherman Act, judgments have been given in the United States - I have them here, but I do not intend to quote them unless I am asked to do so because they are somewhat lengthy - the result of which has been to extend the operation of that Act beyond the limits conveyed by its actual wording. If honorable senators will read them, they will find that the amendments which we now seek to make in the law, follow those judgments. In this Bill we proposeto take away the obligation to prove that restraint of trade is to the detriment of the public, and we seek to enact that the commission of the act shall be held to prove intent. That is to say. we intend to make the subsection which I have just quoted, read -
Any person who, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract,or is or continues to be a member of or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
in restraint of or with intent to restrain trade or commerce, is guilty of an offence.
The. effect of the amendment will be to make the act of restraining commerce, a proof of intent to restrain it.
– Then why retain the word “ intent”?
– We wish to have a double-barrelled gun.
– Double-barrelled guns frequently kick very hard.
– That may be so. Of course, it is obvious that there are some classes of combinations which this Bill does not aim at destroying. We recognise that in the economic evolution of: things, combinations must be formed, and that in many cases, their results are not only not harmful, but are actually beneficial. Consequently, we propose to add to section 4 of the principal Act the. following provision -
It shall be a defence to a proceeding for an offence under paragraph a of sub-section 1 of this section, and an answer to an allegation that a contract was made or entered info in restraint of of withintent to restrain, trade or commerce, if the party alleged to have contravened this section proves -
that the matter or thing alleged to have been done in restraint of, or with intent to restrain, trade or commerce was not to the detriment of the public; and
that the restraint of trade or commerce effected or intended was not unreasonable.
That will give the defendant persons an opportunity of proving that, notwithstanding that we are able to establish the fact that by some act of theirs they have restrained trade, the effect of that restraint was not detrimental to the public, and, further, that it was not an unreasonable restraint.
– The Government propose to throw the onus of proof upon them?
– Yes, in that regard. The difficulty that the Crown has experienced is this - that it has had very often to go to two interested parties, one a buyer and the other a seller. The one is often under some obligation to, or occasionally is in the power of, the other. The Crown can only prove certain things by means of the evidence of one or other of those parties. Consequently it has to compel one of them to give evidence against the other. When you have two interested parties in such relations to each other, it is often very difficult for the Crown to prove its case. The only way of doing so is to make one of the parties a defendant in the case, and then call upon the other to give evidence as to the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the action, and as to whether anything done was detrimental or otherwise.
– It is the same party who is put in the box, but a different party calls the witness.
– Under those circumstances, there is a different spirit animating the parties. In the one case the Crown makes a victim of a person who gives his evidence unwillingly, if he gives; it at all. In the other case, one of two persons in business relationships deposes asto whether a certain action was unreassonable or not. Although we are extending the wording of the existing Act, I can assure honorable senators that if they read the United States Law reports, they will find that we have not gone further in our amendment than the law ofthe United States has done. I mention this with some trepidation, trusting that Senator St. Ledger will not inflict uponus quotations from the I-aw reports. I may, however, give a reference to the volume - No. 193, pages 328 and 351. I shall refrain from quoting the passages, and trust that, although Senator St. Ledger may refer to them for his own information, he will spare us a lengthy citation from them. If the Leader of the Opposition refers to the report he will find that what I have said is absolutely correct, and that the language which we are adopting is in consonance with the judgment of the United States Court. A further amendment has been made in the direction of increasing penalties. We are now not merely imposing a penalty on conviction ; but if, after the prosecution has been undertaken, the defendant has continued in the offence, and that is proved, the Court can, if it think fit, provide for a continuing penalty up to the date of the conviction. A point has been raised as to whether this provision would be retrospective; that is to say, whether the operation of this new provision would have a retrospective effect in applying to offences committed before this Bill comes into operation. The answer to that is - No ; the new provision will not have effect except from the time of the coming”’ into operation of the measure, though it will have effect as to offences committed by an existing combine.
– Take the case of a combination existing to-day, in which an action is proceeding, though the case may not be terminated before, say, next February or March?
– Then the penalty would be imposed if the offence was continued right through, That is what the law ‘officers say on the point. It is held that if the offence is committed continuously the penalties will operate on the continued offence. These corporations, of course, have their lawyers, and know the effect of the law ; and if in defiance of the law a corporation not only commits an unlawful act, but continues to do so, then it will be penalized for the time during which it has continued to break the law. A further point in this Bil! is a new clause’ by which we can take minute books, records, and documents, and use them in the prosecution of a combination.
– They could have been taken before. Could they not have been used ?
– They could have been taken under the existing law, but they could not have been used in evidence.
Of course the object in giving power to take such documents was that they might be used in evidence. But still, it has been held that they cannot be used, and so under this Bill we are taking power to use them. It is the opinion of the Crown law officers that the provisions of this Bill are necessary in order to enable us successfully to deal with combinations where they are illegitimately restraining trade and doing injury to the public. Therefore the Government trust that this Bill will pass, and that prosecutions instituted under it will be conducted with the object of carrying out what was intended under the principal Act - not to break up combinations, not to try to turn the hands of the economic clock backwards, but simply to enable the Government to institute prosecutions and sheet home convictions when combinations’ are doing wrong.
– There is a case which is sub judice at present. Does this Bill affect that case?
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect me to give advice on that question. I take it that if this Bill is passed the provision as to fines, except with the limitation to which I have referred, will apply.
– Would it apply to the case that is now sub judice ?
– That is a question of law, and I can only give an opinion with diffidence. My opinion cannot be worth much, but it seems to me that if the Bill becomes law the Crown law officers will be entitled to use the law.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101115_senate_4_59/>.