4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The report of yesterday’s proceedings of this Chamber appearing in a Melbourne newspaper which adopts a very flamboyant motto, in which it takes credit to itself for telling the truth, is positively unfair to myself and to a member of the Opposition - I refer to Senator St. Ledger. In discussing the Bills relating to proposed alterations of the Constitution, I am represented by this journal as being solely responsible for a vulgar rejoinder to what was in truth a vulgar interjection, which is wrongly attributed to Senator. St. Ledger, who, as a matter of fact, had nothing whatever to do with the incident. It was another member of theOpposition - Senator Chataway - who was responsible for the reply which I made. In order to prove that Senator St. Ledger is blameless in this matter, and that I was justified in the rejoinder which I made, I propose to read a full report of the statements which led up to the interjection.
– Is the honorable senator about to quote from Hansard ?
– No. I intend to quote from a full report of the proceedings, which was taken at the time. I said -
In view of the futility of our post legislation to secure for us control of these trusts, it is idle to propose that we should continue the timorous policy of Conservatism. To do so would be to go on dropping the bucket into the well and drawing no water out. That is a policy with which the people will not be satisfied.
– There is a hole in your blooming bucket, anyway.
To that interjection I replied -
There is a hole in your blooming mouth, too.
That is a statement which I am sorry to have made. But 1 wish it to be understood that Senator St. Ledger was in no way responsible for it. In the face of that report, I am represented in the Argus to have prompted the interjection. Labour members are becoming hardened to reports such as are published in that journal.
– Order ! The honorable senator is now going beyond the limits of a personal explanation.
– Knowing, as I do, the Argus reporter who was in the press gallery at the time the incident occurred, I can hardly blame him for the report which appears in that newspaper. I do not think that it was initiated there. 7’he responsible party, I hope, is to be found in the Argus office, down the street. I make this explanation in fairness to Senator St. Ledger, who was in no way responsible for my rejoinder. I have so frequently expressed my views upon the reports which I, in common with other Labour senators, get in the Argus, that it is quite unnecessary to repeat them.
– I hope that the honorable senator will support my motion in regard to the publication of press reports of our proceedings.
– I shall be delighted to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2. The conditions of the sugar industry have engaged the careful attention of the Government, but no definite decision has been arrived at as to the proper steps to be taken in furthering its interests.
I may add the possible appointment of Dr. Maxwell, or any other person has not been dis cussed, and the statement attributed to the Honorable W. Kidston, Premier of Queensland, is inaccurate in that respect.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders bc suspended as would prevent the message front being at once considered, and all consequent action taken.
Clause 34 -
The Permanent Naval Forces and the Citizen Naval Forces may, in accordance with the Defence Act, be utilized for the protection of a State against domestic violence.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave, out the clause.
– This clause deals with the calling out of the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth for the protection of a. State against domestic violence. It has been eliminated from the Bill by another place because a similar provision is already embodied in our Defence Act. In these circumstances, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I take this opportunity of suggesting to the Government that whilst we are working at high pressure - as we are now - they should accept responsibility for so expediting work in the printing office that we may have before us printed copies of all amendments to which we are asked to assent. In the present case I admit that the amendment proposed is a . simple one. But it frequently happens that Ministers ask us to suspend the Standing Orders - a course which is readily agreed to - and leave us with only a hazy idea of what they propose to do. lt is rather unfair to ask us to suspend the Standing Orders to deal with an amendment which is simply stated from the Chair. Coming to the amendment itself, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has scarcely given the Committee that full information to which it is entitled. He has affirmed that the clause is unnecessary because it is already embodied in our Defence ActBut he might have pointed us to the section in that Act in which the provision is embodied.
– The wording of the clause is in accordance with a section of the Defence Act.
- Senator Guthrie’s statement confirms my argument. He says that the wording of the clause is “in accordance with “ a section of the Defence Act. But how frequently do we find two or more persons disagreeing upon the question of whether an amendment is in accordance with the provisions of a particular Statute? I would further point out that the Constitution itself covers the clause which we are asked to delete. Section 119 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
In view of that section, is is unnecessary to embody the clause under consideration in an Act of Parliament, and therefore I have no objection to the course which is proposed by the Government.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.45]. - I should like to know what sections of the Defence Act and of the Constitution embody the principle contained in this clause ?
– Section 51 of the Defence Act and section 119 of the Constitution.
– I observe that section 51 of the Defence Act provides for the calling out of the permanent Defence Forces of the Commonwealth in. the event of the Citizen Forces being insufficient, and also for the calling out of the Volunteer and Militia Forces should that be necessary to protect a. State against domestic violence. It appears to me that the clause which the House of Representatives has struck out of the Bill is in furtherance of section 119 of the Constitution. That section does not show the way in which the Executive Government would call out the forces. It might be held by men serving in the forces that they were not liable to be called out to meet a case of domestic violence. I do not see any objection to retaining the clause in a Bill providing for naval defence, where it would suffice to inform the members of the Naval Forces of what their duties were in this respect.
– To retain the clause in this Bill would be mere surplusage, would it not?
– I see no objection in that, and there may be an advantage in retaining within the four corners of a Bill providing for naval defence a provision which relieves the members of the forces from the necessity of looking up some other Act. However, I shall not object to the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, without amendment.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Naval Appropriation Bill.
Patents, Trade Marks, and Designs Bill.
Northern Territory Acceptance Bill.
Land Tax Bill.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 16th November, vide page 6202) :
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
After section fourteen of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “ 14b. No person shall, in any proceeding for an offence against this Part of this Act, be excused from answering any question, put either viva voce or by interrogatory, or from making any discovery of documents, on the ground that the answer or discovery may tend to criminate him ; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any civil or criminal proceeding other than a proceeding for an offence against this Act or a prosecution for perjury.
Amendment (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That after the words “ criminate him,” line 9, the words “ or make him liable to a penalty “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
Thatthe following new clause be inserted : - “8. Section 15b of the principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section 4 after the words criminate him ‘ the words ‘ or make him liable to a penalty.’ “
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
, - I move -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable that steps be taken to make available to the public more adequate reports of the proceedings of Parliament than are at present furnished by the press.
I do not propose to ask the attention of honorable senators for any great length of time, bearing in mind the late period of the session. Honorable senators will notice that in the motion I am submitting for their consideration, I have limited myself to a mere statement of opinion, and have avoided all reference to details and methods for giving effect to the opinion which I ask honorable senators to indorse. The first thing that we have to consider is ‘that in any country, such as Australia, possessing a broad democratic franchise, under which every man and woman so disposed may take a part in the public affairs of the nation, it is desirable, and indeed essential that the people should be provided with a means of knowing and understanding the action which Parliament is taking or proposes to take. It is impossible for any elector to cast an intelligent vote unless he is fully seized of the public matters concerning which he is asked to give a vote, and which may ‘be determined by his vote.
– Better information as to parliamentary proceedings would be most valuable when it was proposed to take a referendum.
– That is so. A Democracy, in my judgment, would be dangerous unless it were enlightened, and having secured a broad Democracy in Australia, we should see that our people are furnished with all the information necessary to enable them to properly discharge the very important functions with which they are intrusted. I .should like to draw the attention of honorable senators to the great difference which has been created by the establishment of Federation. When each Parliament in Australia was legislating for a single State, the gap between it and the electors was very much less than that which separates the electors of Australia from the Federal Parliament. In my own State, and the same thing applies to all the other States, prior to Federation, the Parliament was sitting in the city of Sydney. The daily newspapers of the State were in close touch with it, and the information concerning its proceedings which they supplied was rapidly circulated in the various centres of the State.
– The reports of the daily newspapers were very limited.
– Having to report the proceedings only of the local Parliament, which was immediately under the observation of the editorial and other writers for the press, it was possible for the daily newspapers, without going to extraordinary expense, to publish fuller reports of the proceedings of the local Parliament than the chief newspapers of the capitals of the Australian States are able to publish concerning the proceedings of the Federal Parliament.
– And they did so.
– I think they did. Having the proceedings only of the local Parliament to report, the press gave fuller, and, I think, more accurate, reports of those proceedings than are furnished today of the proceedings of this Parliament when the newspapers have to rely so largely upon the telegraph wires. If honorable senators agree with me as to the need of furnishing the electors with reasonable opportunities for ascertaining what has been said and done in their name by their representatives in this Parliament, we have to consider whether or not that need is” now being met. I do not propose this afternoon to produce any elaborate evidence in justification of my belief that it is not being met. I am going to rely upon the experience of honorable senators themselves, because the time at our disposal for the consideration of the matter is so limited. I think that honorable senators generally will agree with me that the reports of the proceedings of the Federal Parliament, which appear in the Australian press to-day, are so meagre as to be almost misleading.
– And they are nearly always coloured by the political views id vacated by the newspapers in which they appear.
– That is another matter, and I am not here to-day to launch any tirade against the press. I wish to deal with the facts as they are, and to approach the matter, as I invite other honorable senators to do, without any feeling regarding the way in which the press at present discharge their functions. lt is because the reports of our proceedings are so meagre that the electors generally have an extremely vague knowledge as to what transpires here. I am satisfied that my experience finds a duplicate in the experience of every other member of the Senate, when I say that when I have travelled about the State” of New South Wales, at election and other times, I have been appalled at the want of knowledge on the part of the electors of the why and wherefore of the business that is transacted in this National Parliament in their name. We cannot expect the electors to come here for their information. It would be impossible, even if they so desired, for them to make themselves acquainted firsthand with what transpires here. There is, then, only one thing to do, and that is to create some channel by means of which accurate information of what is done in this Parliament may be carried direct to the political fountain-head, the electors, who will be called upon sooner or later to act upon it. I do not mean to suggest that full verbatim reports of our proceedings are required. I do not think that that is at all necessary ; but I do think that some means should be devised by which what one might call abridged reports, giving a fair and accurate account of what transpires here, might be provided for the information of the people. Such reports are not already being furnished ; and I think they ought to be. What I suggest is that we should place before the electors what might be termed a photograph in miniature of our proceedings, and not a caricature of them. In offering these remarks, it is not my intention to make any attack at all upon the press of Australia. I recognise that the press has to discharge a highly-important function, and has rendered great public service. But we must always remember that it works within defined limits. We are frequently told, when such matters are under discussion, that a newspaper is first, and above all, a commercial undertaking. It undertakes to supply news which those controlling it believe their customers desire. In doing that, it is always confronted .with the fact that it has to cater for a mixed body of readers, desiring a variety of general news; and an attempt must be made to balance the requirements of its customers, with, say, an elaborate description of the dresses worn at the Melbourne Cup, and an account of the Burns- Johnson fight; and this limits the space available for reports of proceedings in the Federal Parliament.
– The honorable senator does not propose that the dress and fashion of members of this Parliament should be described in the reports ?
– I am not suggesting anything. I am trying to put the facts fairly to the press, and fairly also in support of the object which I have in view. The press has the general demand of which I have spoken to meet, and that it meets it fairly I am quite prepared to admit. But that the press is unable to meet the demand for the special treatment of special subjects is shown by the fact that everywhere we see springing up journals devoted to special subjects, such, for instance, as sporting, scientific, and trade journals. Exactly the same argument which I am using to-day might be addressed to the daily press by those who have started these smaller ventures. The proprietors of the daily newspapers might claim that they are looking after the wants of the sporting, the scientific, and the commercial world, and report proceedings of interest to all. But the answer to that would be that certain people look for a publication which will give greater attention to the matters in which they are particularly interested. Exactly the same thing, in my judgment, applies to the position with which we are confronted to-day. The press may claim that, having regard to the fact that it is a commercial undertaking, and to the demands of the general community for information of various kinds, it cannot be expected to give more space to the proceedings of Parliament. But the question is whether the space that is devoted to parliamentary proceedings is sufficient to enable the electors to accurately gauge what is done here. In this connexion, I utter the one personal note which I may be accused of uttering to-day. Are members of this Parliament given a reasonable opportunity of speaking through the press to their electors? We are frequently told here, and this applies more particularly to the Opposition, that, although we may be quite unable to affect the course of legislation, it is our business to speak to the electors beyond these walls. How can we do so unless an opportunity presents itself? It is equally desirable that those who have defended measures submitted to this Parliament should have a reasonable opportunity of placing before the electors the reasons why they have assisted to place them upon the statute-book.
– The electors can buy Hansard for the session for half-a-crown.
– No doubt they can; but Hansard, for the purpose I have in view, is useless.
– It is the cheapest reading I know of.
– If it were proposed to distribute Hansard to the electors, it would reach them too late to be of any use, unless they were particularly interested in a particular debate.
– Does the honorable senator think that it contains too much chaff for the amount of wheat supplied?
– -No: what I mean is that I received to-day, for instance, the proof Hansard containing the reports of last Friday’s proceedings. How long will it be before people in the other States re’ceive it?%
– The man up in the Gulf.
– Without going so far as that most attractive State, let us ask ourselves how long it will be before people in Victoria will be in a position to ascertain from Hansard what transpired in this Parliament last week? We want something more up to date if the object I have in view is to be attained. There is one other matter to which I should like to draw attention, and here, again, I do not wish it to be assumed that I make any attack upon the newspapers. I point to the fact that there is a growing tendency to exaggerate little incidents that transpire in this Parliament to the exclusion of the more solid utterances which we as members of the Senate have frequently been pleased to Listen to. If any honorable senator wishes to cause an increase of overtime in the Telegraph Branch of the Post and Telegraph Department, he has only to utter here some words, which he will probably be the first to regret next morning, concerning a political opponent, to have them wired all over the country, and to secure the honour of black cross-heads in all the principal newspapers next morning. The prominence given in the daily press to these little incidents suggests to the minds of the electors a view of us which can only be regarded as a caricature. It is as if one were asked to draw a portrait of an individual who had some little disfigurement, such as a mole on his cheek, and made a sketch in which the little defect was indicated so plainly as to render the picture not a portrait, but a distorted caricature. That is really what some of the press reports of our proceedings must present to the electors. Remarks which honorable senators are themselves the first to regret, little altercations with the Chair, or differences of opinion between members, are reported verbatim, whilst the report of important matters to which honorable senators have devoted considerable time and attention is reduced to a few lines.
– Frequently the elector treasures up the little personalities after they have been forgotten here.
– It is for that reason that, I am inclined to think, the newspapers publish them. That does not enable an elector to acquire that information on which alone he can cast an intelligent vote. I commenced by stating that I was submitting what may be termed a bald motion. I have done so purposely. I merely want the Senate at this stage of the session to affirm the opinion expressed in the motion. If it is good enough to adopt the motion, it is my intention next session to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire as to the best methods of giving effect to it. That we are not breaking entirely new ground is proved by the fact that in other countries something is done in the direction at which I am aiming.
– Is there a daily Hansard in any of them?
– More than that. Some years ago a Select Committee was appointed by the Imperial House of Commons to inquire into this very subject, and it obtained information as to the system adopted in the French Parliament. I find that France has no less than four or five reports. Do not let honorable senators run away with the idea that I am advocating so many reports. I merely want to show what is done elsewhere. In addition to a full report which corresponds to our Hansard, France has what is termed an analytical report, but which, I think, would be better described as an abridged report. Then it has a summary and two shorter reports which conform more to the records in our Journals. It is the analytical report to which I desire to call attention. I do not wish it to be thought that I am advocating that we should have an analytical report in substitution of, or addition to, our Hansard. I am merely mentioning facts. In France the analytical report is prepared by a staff quite distinct from the Hansard staff. It is prepared by gentlemen who, rather than being’ shorthand writers, are men of letters or experienced journalists who are capable of condensing a speech as it proceeds. The report is made available at the public expense to any journal in France which cares to insert it. From the Blue-Book I have referred to I learn that the condensation is carried on to the extent of about 50 per cent, of the matter uttered. That, of course, is a detail that will be more “or less governed by our circumstances. The report is printed as the debate proceeds, just as happens in a newspaper office. The first slip containing the report up to 5.30 p.m. is published at about 6.45 p.m., and it is followed by others. There is one note in the Blue-Book to which I specially direct attention. It says -
While preserving the manner and individuality of each speaker they modify violent expression.
That is, the editorial stair -
The deputies have not the right of revising the work of the editing secretaries as they do that of the reporting staff. If a deputy is not satisfied as to the manner in which his speech has been analyzed he may protest at the next sitting. Such protests are extremely rare.
There is an indication that it is possible to have an analytical report prepared with the promptitude which marks the reporting operations of a newspaper, but prepared under official supervision, and which apparently gives satisfaction to the speakers. Clearly, they are enabled, as I have briefly indicated, to reach the electors with a rapidity which is not possible with our present editorial staff, and with a completeness which is not insured by the press reports. France is not the only country which has official reports of that kind. Italy, following probably its example, has also two reports in addition to its Proceedings. It has a summarized report and a report in extenso, the former being promptly published at the end of the day and the other at later intervals. Coming nearer home, South Australia has made a contract with the daily newspapers of Adelaide by which the proceedings of Parliament are published therein.
– Not in all the newspapers.
– The work is divided ; one newspaper takes the Legislative Council and the other takes the House of Assembly.
– That is unsatisfactory.
– It ‘is open to this objection, that if a person wants to ascertain what is being done in Parliament he has to buy two newspapers.
– Buy one and borrow one.
– Surely in the city of culture people do not resort to methods of that kind.
-Indeed, they do not. I merely state what they could do if they were driven to it.
– As regards what South Australians could do if they were driven to it I shudder to consider. I want honorable senators to distinctly understand that 1 am not now advocating any method or system. I ask them not to do that either, for the simple reason that if we were to start now to discuss details the chances are that we should think about differences of opinion on the details until we lost sight, probably, of the main object which we have in view, that is to invite the Senate to say whether or not it is satisfied that by means of the press reports the public have a full and fair opportunity to ascertain what is being done for them. If it is not satisfied that these methods are sufficient the motion asks honorable senators to affirm that the time has arrived when steps should be taken to furnish fuller arid more ample opportunities for the electors to make themselves acquainted with what Parliament is doing.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.21]. - In seconding the motion, I wish to state that we are greatly indebted to Senator Millen for bringing it forward, as well as for the very full manner in which he has stated the reasons which have influenced him, and also the manner in which he has indicated possible ways, without pledging himself to any of them, in which the object he has in view may be attained. I think that most of us will be prepared to vote for the motion, which is simply an abstract expression of the desirability of more adequate reports of the proceedings and the debates of Parliament being furnished to the electors. I quite agree with my honorable friend that it would be impossible at present - it would be difficult at any time - to formulate a scheme by which that object could be accomplished. There are very grave difficulties, “ particularly having regard to the great extent of this country. In many places, the population is sparse, and there would be great difficulty in communicating the reports in whatever form they were circulated, to individual electors. I think that the principal reason for this motion, and the discontent that exists and which I feel, is that the electors are not afforded an opportunity to ascertain fully and accurately how we discharge the trust reposed in us. It is not merely that we wish them to be apprised of all the little side-shows to which my honorable friend has referred, or the little personalities indulged in.
– Or even the pearls of wisdom which fall.
– Or the pearls of wisdom which my honorable friend distributes with a lavish hand, and which it would be well to furnish to the public. Although we do not distribute pearls of wisdom so freely from this side, still, perhaps occasionally there is a modest remark made by an honorable senator which is worthy of consideration even by his con.stitutents. That is the real point. I am not one of those who would in any way cast a reproach on the .press, and I hope that it will not be deemed for a moment that this motion, either directly or indirectly, is intended to reflect on the ability or the zeal of the press in connexion with the affairs of the Commonwealth or of this Parliament. We have to pay attention to the necessities of the case.- The newspapers of this country are not carried on from motives of philanthropy altogether. Of course, there are public interests to be conserved ; and I believe that the press of Australia stands as high in its devotion to the public service as_ does the press of any other country. But it is not alone from patriotic motives that it is conducted. It is conducted for the purpose of gain ; and it is no disparagement to a great press to make that remark. Therefore, we must take into account the pressure of other news which the newspapers have to communicate - the pressure- of the’ news which pays best, and so on. Although, perhaps, the highest of all news is that which ‘ concerns the people in the administration of their affairs in the Parliament, still, that may not be at the time that which is most attractive to them. What sells the paper is possibly that which is most looked after. Taking these things into account, there is a good deal to be said in regard to the meagreness of the reports to which Senator Millen has referred. There is a matter which I feel wants remedying if it can be done. Probably, most of the information which is supplied through the press - certainly in the States in which Parliament is not sitting - is furnished by telegraph. I am bound to say that, because of the haste with which necessarily these very highly summarized reports are compiled, and the economy of space which has to be observed in the newspapers, we sometimes get, certainly in South Australia - and I speak with all re- spect to the great newspapers there - reports which are abbreviated out of all semblance of what we have said.
– Especially, by those belonging to the Labour party.
– No; it is the other way about.
– No; the honorable senator is wrong there.
– I find that my honorable friend, for instance, who is one of those whose words of gold are treasured up by the reporters, and communicated -through the press, is far more clearly reported than I am, with my more halting speech, in the newspapers to which I refer.
– The honorable senator must have dreamt that.
– I think that the extreme condensation which takes place is attributable to the reasons to which Senator Millen has alluded, and those to which I have referred. It is due very much to the exigencies of time. It is very difficult to get hold of the exact points in a speech of some length, and to compress them, perhaps, into two or three sentences, lt is the fault of the speaker, very often, I dare say, but the electors in the State are not supplied by these meagre reports with an adequate idea of what has been said by their representatives. It is from that point of view that I regard this motion. I think that from one end of Australia to the other we should endeavour to convey - of course, we have no right to call upon the newspapers to do it from motives of philanthropy - an intelligible notion of what we have been saying and doing here in respect of matters of great national importance. For that reason it gives me great pleasure to second this motion, and I look forward to the time next session when my honorable friend will have an opportunity of formulating some scheme which we will then be able to discuss, and probably to put in force. In reply to Senator Stewart. I would like to .say that the way to arrive at what we desire is not by circulating Hansard. To begin with, that plan would be oppressively expensive. It would be ridiculous to attempt it.
– A great number of the copies of Hansard would be wasted.
– Yes. The Federal authorities have been exceedingly generous in placing at the disposal of members of this Parliament a very liberal number of copies of Ilansard for distribution amongst persons who are likely to appreciate them. At first, I circulated all the copies which were allotted to me, but gradually I found that a number of them were simply laid aside. As a result, I now avail myself of only three or four copies, not because I would not like to use the whole of the number placed at my disposal if. their distribution would serve a useful purpose, but merely because I know that the remainder would be wasted.
– My position is different. I have to buy some copies of Hansard.
– I think that, on one occasion, I did put at the honorable senator’s disposal one or “ more of my own copies of Hansard, and 1 shall always be glad to do so, in order that he may not be required to purchase copies. Senator Stewart has said that Hansard provides the finest and cheapest reading that is available to the public. With all respect to everybody concerned, I think that to plod through the whole of the Hansard reports in order to pick out the subjects in which one is’ interested is the dreariest task imaginable. Some such arrangement as that suggested by Senator Millen would be very much preferable to attempting to circulate the Hansard reports, and if an arrangement can be made between Parliament and the press for the publication of abbreviated reports of our proceedings it will probably meet the case and enable people to understand what their parliamentary representatives are doing. I have great pleasure in seconding the motion.
– I think I may say, without any reservation, that honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber feel under a debt of gratitude to Senator Millen for having brought forward this motion. At the same time, I should have liked him to outline a scheme under which it would be possible to give effect to his proposal. Indeed, I think we were entitled to expect him to formulate such a scheme. Had he recommended the adoption of the practice which is in vogue in connexion with the French Parliament, we might have devised a workable scheme.
– Why not publish a daily Hansard?
– That is one method of overcoming the difficulty.
– The publication of a daily Hansard might be very useful in
Melbourne, but it would not be useful elsewhere.
– When we remember the enormous area of Australia, I am afraid that the information contained in a daily Hansard would be somewhat stale before it reached the distant States, and particularly before it reached the outlying portions of Western Australia.
– No publication can reach any State quicker than can Hansard.
– A daily Hansard would be all very well from the standpoint of supplying accurate reports of our proceedings. But the method in which those reports should be conveyed to other States is quite another matter. That our proceedings in this Parliament are very inadequately and poorly reported by the press everybody must admit. The case which I quoted to-day is a sufficient proof of that. I quite recognise that when an honorable senator delivers what, in his opinion, is a. fair speech, he naturally feels some pride in having it reported. But when we find our utterances reported in the manner in. which my speech of yesterday is reported in the Argus to-day - and I make no apology for referring to my own case, because if affords us a shocking illustration of the inadequacy of the press reports of our proceedings - we feel that the public are being misled. What is the position? Yesterday, I made some observations upon a Bill relating to proposed amendments of the Constitution, and, at the conclusion of my address, some of my fellow-members were good enough to compliment me upon it. Throughout, that speech I was as serious as any man could be. At only ‘one stage was I prompted to make a flippant rejoinder to an interjection by an honorable, senator. Yet, when I took up the Argus this morning, I found that that flippant rejoinder was the only portion of my speech which had been reported. In these circumstances, one cannot fail to recognise the ridiculous inadequacy of the press reports of our. parliamentary proceedings.
– It would have been better if the Argus had not reported even that rejoinder.
– Undoubtedly. The impression which would then have been given to its readers was that I had said nothing which was important.
– But that report was made with a view of injuring the honorable senator.
– I do not know that we should be under any obligation to a newspaper to report our proceedings. Thousands of electors vote to send me here, and they naturally wish to know what I say upon various questions. But simply because I represent a particular section of the community, and because the newspapers are party organs, which are published for party purposes-
– They are published for cash.
– And for party purposes as well. I grant that they are out for £ s. d., but that they are party organs there is not the slightest doubt. I do not suggest that they should not report our proceedings just as they may think fit. The only way out of the difficulty which I can foresee is the publication by the Labour party - when it becomes sufficiently wealthy - of its own newspapers, which will give the people of Australia accurate reports of our parliamentary proceedings.
– Does the honorable senator think that we shall ever become sufficiently wealthy?
– No doubt we shall require to put forth a great effort. But the Labour party has overcome big obstacles in the past, and I believe that the time will come when it will possess sufficient capital to run newspapers of its own.
– It has the capital now.
-I wish that it had, because I know of no better investment in which capital may be sunk than a daily newspaper. I have been a member of this Parliament long enough to recognise that there are members of it, who, by paying a certain price, not in hard cash, but in the sacrifice of their personal dignity, can get their speeches reported by the newspapers. But I have always resolutely declined to stoop to anything of that sort, l have never descended to kowtowing to the press. I should have nothing but contempt for myself if I did. But that such tactics are resorted to, is patent to any person who has eyes to see what goes on in this building. Why should a member of the Commonwealth Parliament descend to such tactics to get his speeches reported ? To -my mind, it is one of the most humiliating things connected with our politics to-day. This kow-towing to the press is the most humiliating’ feature of our public life.
– I am not aware of it, and I have been twenty-seven years in politics.
– I am quite aware of it. I see it every day. Any man who puts two and two together cannot fail to understand what goes on here.
– Why should Senator Fraser make that remark, seeing that he half owns the press of Melbourne?
– I do not think that Senator Fraser gets undue favours from the press. But I have no desire to drag into this discussion the names of individuals if I can keep them out of it. Unfortunately, we are sometimes obliged to mention individual cases to illustrate our meaning. There is no denying that the press is a very powerful weapon. But it is not so powerful that a fall cannot be taken out of it, as was evidenced by the results of the recent elections. I do not charge the reporters in the press gallery with responsibility for the reports which’ appear in our daily newspapers, because I recognise that they are merely employes who are engaged to do certain work. They receive their orders, and have to obey them. Indeed, the gentleman who was reporting for the Argus ‘in the press gallery yesterday is a personal friend of mine,, and yet a more unfair report of my utterances could not have been published. I da not believe that he is to blame for that report. I think that the mutilation wasdone at head-quarters by a man who had no knowledge of what ‘had occurred here.It is not the reporters who are responsible for the reports which appear in, the daily press. It is the gentlemen, who are armed with blue pencils,, and who have received their instructions from the newspaper proprietors. It is he who determines the sort of report that shall go into that journal. I say that that is distinctly unfair to the people of Australia, who have every right to learn about the proceedings of this public institution. If they do not get that information they are being robbed of a right to which they are entitled. But we have to ask ourselves : How is it possible to carry out what we desire? The suggestion made by the Committee referred to by Senator Millen is about as good a one as we could put into practice. If we were to supply reports in that way; I have no doubt that in time the press would be compelled to publish them; because, if the public knew where they could get a fair and reasonable report of; the proceedings of Parliament those newspapers that would not publish such a report would soon find themselves without a market. That would bring them to their knees. We know that the press is a very powerful institution indeed. I am reminded of a statement that was made many years ago by a great Scotsman, Fletcher, of Saltoun. He was a Republican and a. believer in Home Rule for Scotland. He lived in the days before the advent of the daily press, but he said, “ Let me write the ballads of a people, and. I care not who makes their laws.” In other words, if he were permitted to distribute amongst the populace his ideas by means of ballads - which supplied in his day the place of the daily press in ours - he would so influence public opinion that the law-makers would have to obey him. To-day the newspaper writer has taken the place of the ballad writer of old. That is all. The same principle underlies both propositions. I mention this fact to. show that at a time when there was no means of influencing public opinion by the daily press, other methods were adopted. It was the man with the pen who ruled then, just as, to a great extent, the man with the pen rules now - although his rule was not so autocratic then as it is now.
– Did not our party fight the press throughout the Commonwealth at the last election?
– I quite recognise that fact, but I think that we should have fought much. more successfully, and that our passage would have been made much smoother, if we had had the press with us instead of against us.
– The Age was with us in Victoria.
– I am pleased to say that, in this State, we had one of the powerful newspapers on our side, and that fact made the course of the Labour representatives during the campaign a great deal smoother. In those States where we had no such journalistic assistance it was “ a horse of another colour,” as I know from personal experience.
– The press did us a lot of good. They overdid their opposition altogether.’
– They overdid their abuse, and so did us less harm than they intended. It is clear to my mind that the Senate has a grievance as compared with another place, as far as the reporting of our proceedings is concerned. .Quite apart from the party aspect of the question, die Senate has not received anything like the amount of attention in the press to which it is entitled. Some means ought to be adopted to provide the public with fair reports of the proceedings of the Senate. 1 heartily indorse the motion, and am sorry that Senator Millen did not go further, and take the responsibility of laying down a basis to overcome a difficulty that faces the whole of us.
– With the abstract motion that has been moved by Senator Millen, I am perfectly certain that every member of the Senate, no matter to what party he belongs, or on what side of the chamber he may .sit, will be in perfect agreement. I think, also, that most honorable senators will heartily concur in the remarks that fell from the honorable senator in submitting the motion. He put his case exceedingly well, in a moderate and cogent fashion, and he impressed honorable senators with the need of adopting some such course as was suggested by him. It is a fact that will not be gainsaid that it is exceedingly important, from the point of view of the general public, that they should be as fully acquainted with the acts and statements of their representatives in Parliament as possible. Otherwise honorable senators cannot be in touch with their constituents to such a degree as they ought to be, and the members of the public will have no adequate knowledge as to whether their representatives are faithfully carrying out the promises they made when they were elected, and discharging the work which they were sent here to do. It is also essential, in the interests of clean and pure politics, that the public should have a full knowledge of and acquaintance with what we are doing in Parliament. Nothing is so conducive to purity and cleanliness in public life as absolute publicity. If the public are acquainted with every iota of business that is transacted here - with everything that is said and everything that is done - that will be the best safeguard against corruption, and will be a guarantee that nothing will be done that cannot bear the closest scrutiny. If that desirable object can be attained by the adoption of some such scheme as Senator Millen has in view, we should not be deterred by difficulties from giving effect to it. It is a fact beyond cavil that the daily press of Australia is not capable, within its prescribed limitations, of giving that amount of attention to the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliament which is desirable in the interest of the public. I do not mean that the public are entitled to get that information from the newspapers, because we must recognise that there are certain things which are beyond their resources. After all, the resources of even the greatest newspaper are exceedingly limited. A newspaper must be kept within certain bounds; and such a variety of matters have to be kept in view, about which news has to be published, that the amount of space that can be devoted to any particular subject must necessarily be limited. Therefore, I must not be taken as blaming the newspapers for the abbreviated reports of the proceedings of Parliament. But, nevertheless, 1 say that the public are entitled to fuller information, and they should get it from this Parliament, not from the press. My own opinion is that that object can be secured very effectively, and without any cost to the public exchequer. That is a pretty bold statement to make, yet I think it can be done. I am quite in accord with the idea put forward by Senator Millen. It is not necessary to give a full daily Hansard report to the public. Those who feel interested in getting an absolutely full and accurate report could still be supplied with Hansard, as they are now. But members of the general public have not time to wade through Hansard, and it would be better to give them a concentrated report such as they would be able to obtain from a daily abbreviated issue like that suggested by Senator Millen. It is true that it would entail very considerable expenditure to issue the report, even without considering the cost of telegraphing it. To prepare a concentrated report of the proceedings of Parliament we should require, in addition to our present Hansard staff, an independent journalistic staff, capable of preparing an abridged report of what the members of this Parliament say and do in regard to the various matters discussed in both Houses of Parliament. That, I repeat, would cost a great deal of money; but, notwithstanding that fact, I still believe that what we desire could be accomplished without making any demand whatever on the public exchequer. I have had that idea for a considerable time, and have been waiting for what appeared to be a favorable opportunity of giving expression to it on the floor of the Senate. How do all the great newspapers of the day make their journals pay at the ridiculously small price for which they are issued? Simply by taking advertisements from the public. If we had a daily report of the proceedings of Parliament like that indicated by Senator Millen - an abbreviated Hansard, going into the hands of every elector of Australia absolutely free every day - we could command unlimited advertisements to be published with it. I am perfectly satisfied that we could do that. There is no merchant in Australia who has any thing to sell ; there is no importer who has any goods to dispose of ; there is nobody who wishes to get his wares under the notice of the public, who would not ‘be glad to avail himself of such a means of circularizing the public. If we are going to publish a daily report of the proceedings of Parliament, why not adopt commercial means? We are continually being told that we should run the public Departments on business lines. The daily press is constantly hammering that at us.
– We should- require a simultaneous issue in each State?
– That is a matter of detail, and it is not my intention to enter into details now. If such a publication were to be issued once or twice a day and sent to every place in Australia - if the proceedings of Parliament were telegraphed to the various States and “published there - I am certain that we could, if we laid ourselves out to do so, command unlimited advertisements at a highly remunerative price for inclusion in the publication.’
– We need not disagree about details now.
– I am only making a suggestion. Why not adopt the usual course that has commonly been adopted by the Senate and by other Houses of Parliament in regard to matters as to which inquiry is desired? When Parliament decides that a certain thing is necessary or desirable, it usually sets about finding the best means to accomplish the end in view. It appoints a Select Committee. Why should not this Senate, at the beginning of the next session, appoint a Select Committee? Probably, honorable senators will return from the country next year like giants refreshed.
– What about a Royal Commission ?
– The honorable senator knows that I have never been favorable to the appointment of Royal Commissions.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is like me, in not having been a member of a Royal Commission.
– I have never been a member of one. At any rate, while Parliament is sitting, a Select Committee might be appointed, and such a body would have pretty well all the authority with which a Royal Commission would be clothed. It could thresh out all the details of such a matter thoroughly. I am not, however, wedded to the idea of a Royal Commission or Select Committee, but merely throw out the suggestion.
– Probably the honorable senator does not recollect that I “suggested that if the Senate was good enough to adopt my motion, I should perhaps ask it to appoint a Select Committee on reassembling after the recess.
– The fact that the honorable senator had made that suggestion had escaped my attention for the moment. Now that he reminds me of it, I am pleased to give it my hearty support.
– Why not select the Committee now, so that it might proceed with its work during the recess?
– A Select Committee cannot sit except when Parliament is in session.
– The Committee might be turned into a Royal Commission during the recess.
– We have had a great many Royal Commissions, and, personally, I have a great objection to them. The Senate, I believe, is in thorough agreement that it is necessary and desirable that some means should be adopted to attain the end which Senator Millen has in view. We are all agreed that it is highly desirable that the public of Australia should have better means of becoming thoroughly acquainted with what is being done on their behalf by their representatives in this Parliament. I do not believe that there is any honorable senator who would dissent from that view for a single moment. If . we are all agreed to that extent, why should we not set ourselves to work to devise some means of accomplishing the object to which we are all favorable? I firmly believe that if honorable senators will apply themselves to this task, we shall be able to remove whatever obstacles there may be in the way. I have suggested one method of getting, over the difficulty of expense. I ask honorable senators whether the commercial public of Australia would not be likely to advertise in such a publication, and, if so, what reason is there why we should not accept advertisements so as to make the publication a commercial success. We have various publications issued by the Governments of Australia in which advertisements appear. A very valuable mining; journal is issued by the Government of Queensland, which contains a large number of advertisements that contribute materially to the cost of the publication. There are agricultural journals published in the various States which are excellent publications in their way, and many of them contain advertisements. However, the handsof those conducting these publications are tied, because the influence of the proprietors of newspapers in the various State capitals has been used to prohibit these Government publications from publishing advertisements except of a particular kindSo successful has the exercise of this influence been in Queensland that the .Government of that State were induced to promise that only mining advertisementswould appear in the very excellent mining journal to which I have referred. If we issue a precis of our debates in a publication to be circulated broadcast throughout Australia, it will be the best medium for advertising in the country, and there is no earthly reason why we should not take advantage of that great commercial opportunity. Why should we not turn it to account, and even make a profit out of it ? By adopting that suggestion I am satisfied that we should meet the objection which has been urged on the score of expense. Running a publication on commercial lines in that way, we should secure a sufficient number of advertisements to pay for the cost of it, and the proprietors of the newspapers would not suffer in the slightest if we did. Even the great dailies published in Melbourne and Sydney have a comparatively limited circulation as compared with that which would be commanded by a daily Hansard. The newspapers would secure all the advertisements that they get now, but, through the medium of the daily Hansard, certain advertisers would be able to appeal to a larger circle of probable customers, and would not be slow to avail themselves of the unique advantage which such a publication would afford them. The Commonwealth would be well advised, in adopting such a course, to carry out the very excellent project which Senator Millen has advocated. I am in hearty accord with the motion, and I hope the matter will “not be allowed to rest until some definite means have been adopted to give the public of Australia that which they are entitled to, namely, a full and fair report of the proceedings of this Parliament and the conduct of their representatives therein.
– The motion under discussion deals with a long-standing grievance, and Senator Millen is to be commended for the way in which he has brought it forward. He had good reasons for refraining from suggesting any specific means to attain his object. He referred to one phase of the question which must have been apparent to every member of ‘ both Houses, that is, that the newspaperspublished in the various States give particular attention to any incident which may be regarded as a little spicy, such as personal recriminations between members.
– If a fight took place they would report it at length.
– There is no doubt that they would, while they would leave graver matter severely alone. We need not blame the newspapers for doing this, and, indeed, we have no right to do so. They are purely commercial concerns, and their proprietors need not apologize to us for. not reporting our proceedings. They are at liberty to report our proceedings at whatever length they please, and if the majority of their readers prefer personal matters, those in charge of commercial concerns are entitled to cater for them.
– The honorable senator knows that” they go much further than that, and are guilty of direct misrepresentation.
– I am coming to that. They have a perfect right to report matters which they consider of interest to the majority of their readers, and when it is said that they give their reports of parliamentary proceedings a party colouring, it ls not for us, in the present condition of party politics in Australia, to blame them. It is the misfortune of the party now in power that they have not, in each of the capital cities of Australia, a daily newspaper published in their interests. But that is a misfortune from which, I think, -we shall not suffer very much longer. If we continue to have only two political parties in Federal politics, I have no doubt that in a very short time each will be represented by its own daily newspaper in each of the capital cities, and in that case, so far as the people of those cities are concerned,each party will get fair play.
– They will then have two coloured reports instead of one accurate report.
– There will still be a necessity, perhaps greater than that which exists now, for an unbiased abridged report of the proceedings in this Parliament. As commercial concerns, I think that the newspapers have a perfect right to publish such reports of parliamentary proceedings as they think will satisfy the majority of their readers, and in the absence of fair reports in the daily press, it is our business to try to put into the hands of the electors a concise, but accurate, account of those proceedings. That is necessary in the interests of the electors themselves. I think- 1 can give a good illustration of the special phase of the matter to which I have referred. A little incident occurred in the Senate a few days ago, and Senator Long directed attention to the way in which it had been made use of by the press only last evening. When Senator Symon was speaking on the Land Tax Assessment Bill he said, amongst other things, that, while he was addressing his arguments to honorable senators on this side, he did not think it was likely that they would be influenced by any arguments he used. Senator Long interjected in a jocular way, as was apparent to every member of the Senate, “ You might change our opinions, but you cannot change our votes.” In speaking on the adjournment of the Senate last night, the honorable senator referred to the fact that a great deal of ase was being made in Tasmania, to his political detriment, of that simple and jocular interjection.
– Use is being made of it in leading articles in newspapers all over Australia.
– That is so. I am sorry that Senator Symon is not present, or I should try to elicit from him his opinion of the interjection. I am satisfied that he regarded it as jocular.
– Senator Symon mentioned last night that it was made from- the other side.
– I did not hear the honorable senator ; but I heard what Senator Long had to say on the matter. It may interest the Senate to know the use that has been made of the incident in the Mercury, which is a Conservative newspaper published in the capital of Tasmania. I refer them to the weekly letter from the special Melbourne correspondent of this newspaper, appearing in the issue of nth’
November. It contains a number of paragraphs, which are headed in black-letter, “Federal Politics,” “Futility of Argument,” “Cannot alter Votes”; and in a paragraph under the sub-heading, “ Only Votes Count,” this statement is made -
During the debate on the Land Tax Bill one of your Tasmanian senators interjected during a speech by Sir Josiah Symon -
– Order. If the honorable senator will look at standing order 409, he will §ee that it is not in order for an honorable senator to read extracts from newspapers or other documents referring to debates of the same session.
– I must bow to that ruling. I had overlooked the standing order; and, for the moment, thought it referred only to Hansard.
– The honorable senator may give the gist of the statement made ; but he will not be in order in making a quotation from the newspaper.
– I may say that in the “weekly letter, from the Melbourne correspondent of the Mercury certain statements are made regarding the proceedings in this Parliament. The readers of that newspaper, presumably, believe that they are given a fairly accurate account of what transpires here. Although the newspaper is bitterly opposed to the Labour party, its readers include a large number of people who approve of the politics of that party. The little incident to which I have referred has been used to damage the party, either by the correspondent, or in the office in the process of editing. A paragraph about two inches long is published, in which the statement is made that whilst Senator Symon was speaking, a Tasmanian senator interjected that while he might alter the opinions of Labour senators, he could not alter their votes. On the strength of that jocular interjection, as we know it to have been, leading articles have appeared in various newspapers in Australia misrepresenting the incident for party purposes. 1 recognise that a newspaper, being purely a profit-making concern, has the right to do what it likes, so long as it keeps within the limits of the law. The question is, Are we to allow year after year to pass without taking some action, not altogether in fairness to ourselves, although that consideration should also have some weight, but in fairness to our constituents, who look to the press for an account of what we are doing, to provide condensed reports of our utterances and proceedings?
That a necessity for taking some step ir» that direction has existed for eight or nine years must be palpable to every one whohas an acquaintance with this Parliament.. A suggestion has been made in some quarters that one newspaper should be engaged1 to make an abbreviated report of the proceedings, which should go forth as the official Hansard. That idea would not hold water for a moment with regard to thisParliament. I may mention, in passing, that the journal to which I have alluded supplied the Hansard report for the Tasmanian Parliament. Honorable senators can easily imagine what little chance the representatives of different sections of political thought had’ to get fair play in the official report from a journal which is admittedly so strongly partisan. I do not know whether there has been any alteration, but I do knowthat some kind of arrangement was made with that journal by the Parliament, or the Government, that it should furnish an official report of its proceedings. Honorable senators can realize how utterly absurd it was that the production of the official report of the parliamentary proceedings of a State should be placed in the hands of a newspaper with strong party leanings. Since a daily newspaper has been published in Hobart, and conducted on opposite lines in politics, there has been a considerable improvement in the parliamentary reports of the other journal, and complaints are not now heard from members of the State Parliament. I think that Senator Millen’s suggestion is worthy of full consideration by every honorable senator. Of course, nothing in this direction could be done during the few remaining hours of this session. When he submits a motion at the beginning of next session, for the appointment of a Select Committee, it will receive my cordial support, because I believe that it will be able to devise some means of insuring fair play to the electors, as well as to their representatives. Possibly Senator Givens has suggested the best solution of the difficulty. The present motion has my cordial support.
– I also cordially support the proposal of Senator Millen. This question has engaged my attention for a very long time. Before I was elected to the Senate, it was impossible for those who lived where i did to get any news concerning its proceedings until Hansard arrived. As I lived at a very long distance from Melbourne, Han- sard was nearly a fortnight old when it reached me. Believing that the cost of printing and publishing Hansard was very large, I asked a question the other day, but did «ot get the answer which I expected. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be able to save me the trouble of asking a question to-morrow by stating to-day the total cost of printing and publishing Hansard.
– We have not yet been able to get the information, but as soon as it is available, I shall answer the honorable senator’s question. It takes a little trouble to get the information.
– I am quite aware of that, and I do not wish to hurry the honorable senator. I thought of putting another question on the notice-paper, but now that will not be necessary.
– 1 shall tell the honorable senator when the information is ready, and then he can ask the question.
– I know that the cost runs into many thousands of pounds. I thought that the public were riot getting value for their money, and that some means should be devised to let the public know what took place in Parliament. No doubt every honorable senator, in travelling about the country, has learned that it is very difficult for persons to find out what is done in Parliament. Sometimes a member of Parliament is asked a question which is altogether wrong, simply because the elector concerned has only seen a brief condensed report in a newspaper. I do not blame the newspapers in this regard, because if we want them to do anything, we, like every other section of the public, must be prepared to pay. No doubt the members of a Select Committee may- be able to devise some means for disseminating amongst the people condensed reports of the proceedings of Parliament. Western Australia and Queensland are situated at a long distance from the Seat of Government. In the gallery of our library, newspapers are filed from nearly every town and hamlet in Australia. Let any honorable senator glance through these files for a month and see the extent of the information which is given to the public as to what is done in Melbourne. It amounts to practically nothing. Of course the newspapers- in Melbourne are able to give a little more information, for the reason that it is obtained at first hand and without much extra expense. We cannot expect country news papers, small or large, to incur the expense of telegraphed reports of parliamentary proceedings every night. It would be unreasonable to expect them to do so. I face the question of cost at once. We are expending many thousands of pounds a year in producing and publishing Hansard. We ought to go a step further and devise some means of disseminating accurate information among the electors. The people should have the means to criticise whatever we say here, and to judge whether we have acted in accordance with our pledges. Even though it may involve some cost, they have a right to that information. We cannot expect it to be telegraphed at the expense of the country press. A country newspaper would need to have to be represented here by either an agent or a reporter. Under ordinary circumstances, parliamentary information is not obtained by a country newspaper without a certain amount of expense. If we want the press to make known what we say, and to give a little information as to what is done here, we must be prepared to extend some help. I am prepared to do so, because I believe that people in the far-away parts of Australia would like to know what is taking place in Melbourne. At present, they get practically no information. I have been in places where persons have told me that they had not seen half-a-dozen lines about our parliamentary proceedings. I am glad that the Government have met this want in a small way by reducing the cost of Hansard to 2s. 6d. per session, which I admit is liberal and fair. But you will meet thousands of persons who do not know what step to take. Even in Melbourne, two men asked me the other day how they could obtain Hansard, and at what cost. If that is the case with persons who live in Melbourne, how are persons who live hundreds or thousands of, miles away to be expected to know what to do? I notice that in one State last year not a single copy of Hansard was purchased. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should do as the Queensland Government used to do, and that is, some months before the commencement of next session announce in the country press that on sending a postoffice order for 2S. 6d. and his address to the Government Printer a person will be supplied with Hansard for the whole session. I believe that thousands of persons would take advantage of an official intimation of that kind. I admit that, until recently, I did not know how Hansard could be obtained. I thought that the cost of it was much more than it is. I did not know that the Government had reduced the price to 2s. 6d. per session. When I was asked the other day by two men how they ought to proceed, I was able to supply the information, but I could not tell them the cost until I had made an inqury
– The information is given on the cover.
– I was pleased . to find that Hansard can be obtained by any person for 2s. 6d. per session. It is quite clear that a further step must be taken to acquaint the electors with our parliamentary proceedings. I am not in a position to suggest what it should be. Various suggestions have been made to-day. They all possess a certain amount of merit. N.o doubt a Select ‘ Committee, after having examined persons qualified to give evidence, and obtained the opinions of members of Parliament, may be able to decide on the best, cheapest, and most reasonable way to supply the electors with a reliable condensed report of parliamentary speeches. I have great pleasure in supporting the motion.
– A reliable report of a speech can be given in a condensed form - the pith.
– Yes. I do not suggest that if a man makes an eight-hours’ speech it should be printed, but it could be condensed. I am satisfied that if Senator Stewart spoke for four or five hours, he would be content with a. condensed report.
– A full report of his speech would appear in Hansard, as usual, but a condensed report could be sent to the people he represents, and if they were not satisfied with that, though I believe that most of them would be, he could obtain copies of Hansard, ox the honorable senator might get a large number of copies of his, speech printed and circulated.
– That costs money.
– But the honorable senator is a capitalist, so that the expenditure of a little money is nothing to him. I feel sure that if a Select Committee be appointed to investigate this matter, it will “devise some plan for supplying the people of the Commonwealth with accurate reports of our parliamentary, proceedings. We all recognise that the parliamentary reports which are published by our newspapers are almost bound to be coloured by the political views which they may entertain. If we can formulate some scheme under which the publication of accurate condensed reports will be insured, any money expended upon it will be well expended, and the public will not grudge that, expenditure. I hope that early next session Senator Millen will bring forward a motion bearing upon this question, and, if he does so, he will find no more ardent supporter of it than 1 am.
Senator VARDON (South Australia> [4.32]. - I am glad that Senator Millen’ smotion has met with such a cordial reception this afternoon. He has not committed himself to any details, and wisely so. He has merely asked the Senate to affirm that it is desirable that steps should be taken, to provide the public with more adequate reports of our parliamentary proceedingsthan are at present furnished by the press. He has not in any way condemned the press because of the reports which it publishes. We know that newspapers are run uponcommercial lines, and that they supply the kind of information which they think their readers will appreciate. No complaint can be urged against them upon that .ground. Nearly all the large newspapers to-day ally themselves either with one side of politics or the other, and make if their business to forward the policy of the particular side with which they are identified. I know of a powerful newspaper which became offended with a politician, and whose proprietors deliberately ordered its writers to write him out of public life. They thought it right to adopt that course. It may not be a very creditable policy to pursue, but, as matters stand, I cannot see that any complaint can be urged against it. Newspapers are not bound to Parliament in any way. Parliament has no control over them. They are perfectly independent, and are quite at liberty to adopt their own course of action. Personally, I have no complaint to make of the press. I think that our newspapers supply very fair reports of events in general. They have to record all sorts of happenings, and, consequently, are not in a position to devote a large amount of space to recording the proceedings either of the State Parliaments or of the Commonwealth Parliament. I repeat that Senator Millen has not committed himself to any details in regard to this proposition. I understand that what he desires is that a condensed report of our proceedings shall be prepared for the various newspapers throughout the Commonwealth.
Such a report, if prepared by the parliamentary staff, would be altogether free from par,y bias. It would be the duty of that staff to present an abridged report of our proceedings, which should be made available to every newspaper throughout the Commonwealth, so that it might be published simultaneously in all the leading newspapers of the States. I can see that a very great advantage would result from such an arrangement, because, under it, upon any particular morning the same report would appear in the newspapers all over Australia. It has been said that if we published a daily Hansard, and if advertisements were inserted in that publication, it might be made practically self-supporting. But I do not think that we should accomplish our object by that means, because a week, a fortnight, or a month would necessarily elapse before some persons could be placed in possession of such a record. Senator Millen’s idea that a report of whatever takes place in this Parliament to-day should be in the hands of the public all over the Commonwealth to-morrow morning, is a good one. That is a plan which has been adopted in connexion with the proceedings of the French Parliament, and it -is what we want here. We desire that a fair and intelligent report of our parliamentary proceedings shall be made available to the press of the Commonwealth for publication the day after those proceedings take place. It would be a great benefit to Parliament and the people if they could be supplied with information of that character. I do not wish to enter into details, because Senator Millen has admitted that he merely desires the Senate to affirm this motion to-day. Then, at the beginning of next session, he intends to ask for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the matter, with a view to submitting to the Senate a recommendation as to how the .desired result can best be attained. I am in thorough accord with the motion, and with the object which Senator Millen has in view. If we adopt his proposal, and follow it up by the appointment of a Select Committee, I think we shall be able to devise some means by which the public of the Commonwealth will be supplied with condensed and accurate reports of what takes place in this Parliament from day to day. That the people would appreciate such reports I am quite sure.
– I do not anticipate that there will be any opposition to this motion, because it is merely a declaratory one, which, whilst affirming a principle* does not commit us to anything of a concrete character. Some honorable senators have complained of the unfairness of the press reports of the proceedings of this Chamber. They have complained of the meagre reports of those proceedings which have been published from time to time. But I do not think that any party in the civilized world has had more reason to complain of the unfairness of the reports which have appeared in the daily newspapers of Australia than has the Labour party.
– The complaint is not all upon the side of the Labour party.
– I can truthfully say that, up till the last five or ten years, the utterances of Labour members in the Victorian Parliament received no attention at the hands of the press. Many excellent speeches were delivered in that Parliament a few years ago by prominent members of the Labour party, and not infrequently those speeches passed unnoticed. There have been occasions upon which the newspapers have given reports of one line, stating that “ Mr. So-and-so also spoke.”
– That is a very common thing in New South Wales.
– It is a very common practice. It is because of the growing power and influence of the party to which I belong that the daily newspapers are bestowing more attention upon the utterances of its members, not only in the National Parliament, but in the State Parliaments of Australia. So strong is the Labour party becoming that it is more or less independent of the daily newspapers. It has won its way to public recognition despite the opposition of those journals, and today I am glad to say that in more than one State there are daily newspapers, owned by the workers,, and advocating their claims and policy. There is one such journal in South Australia. There is another daily newspaper in Tasmania which is partly owned by the workers, and which is run in the interests of Labour. Before many months have passed there will be brought into existence in New South Wales a daily morning newspaper which promises to become one of the most powerful in the Commonwealth.
– There is still another Labour daily published in Broken Hill.
– Yes. In Broken Hill there is a daily Labour newspaper which has a large circulation, and which exercises a strong influence, municipally, politically, and socially. The suggestion that a condensed report of the proceedings of this Parliament should be prepared, say, by the Hansard staff and forwarded, at the public expense, to the daily newspapers throughout the Commonwealth for publication by them, does not meet with my approval. I would not like to be one of the men intrusted with the preparation of condensed reports of the proceedings of this Chamber. A man would require to be a literary and political surgeon to do justice in an abbreviated report of the proceedings of this Chamber, or of another place. I do not care what pains a body of men may take to prepare a condensed, impartial report; I say that that report will, at some tune or other, cause dissatisfaction.
– To prepare a condensed report is an occupation in itself.
– It is an occupation to which men have to serve a lifetime. It is not every man who can become an absolutely reliable sub-editor. Sub-editors are not born every day, and we should require to have a corps of sub-editors to prepare abbreviated reports of our proceedings. Then we know that daily newspapers cannot set apart, at the eleventh hour, a certain amount of space for the publication of a particular article. I have had some experience of newspaper work. I know how difficult if is for reporters to get reports of meetings into the journals which they represent. A pressman is perhaps instructed to prepare a report of a certain meeting. A certain space is allotted to him. He goes to a great deal of trouble to write up his report, and after it has been sub-edited, “ linoed,” read in proof, revised, and got ready for the making-up process, at the eleventh hour something unexpected occurs, or something of greater importance than the meeting thus reported. Then the literary surgeon or sub-editor is called into requisition, and has to apply, figuratively, the butcher’s knife to chop down the report. Suppose that Senator Millen’s idea were adopted, and the abbreviated report of Parliament left the hands of those intrusted with this work, and was telegraphed to various newspapers. Suppose the report was chopped down by any’ particular newspaper. I dare say that that journal would come in for a certain amount of criticism - probably unfair criticism - when the matter was mentioned in Parliament. Mention has been made of Han sard. I always speak in the highest termsof that official publication. I believe that I am right in saying that the very best men available for this kind of work in the Commonwealth have been obtained. I have personal knowledge of some members of the staff ; but it is not that fact which induces me to make these remarks. Some of them had made a reputation for themselves long before they became members of the Hansard staff. That publication is a full and thoroughly reliable report of the proceedings of Parliament. Notwithstanding, what Senator Symon has said as to his not using the full number of copies of Hansard allotted to him, because he found that all, except three or four, were simply thrown on one side as waste paper, I can assure him that that has not been my experience.
– Nor mine.
– I do not believe that that has been the experience of the majority of the members of this Parliament. When we were allowed twelve copies each, I frequently paid for additional copies when the price for Hansard for the session was far more than halfacrown. Many of our supporters, ami many persons who are interested in politics, were anxious to obtain . copies of the official report, and I frequently had to buy copies to supply to them. Although the number of copies supplied to each member of Parliament has since been increased to twenty-five, I used the full number supplied to me, and even then have had frequently to purchase more copies to supply to persons who desire to read it. Hansard to-day has a larger circle of readers than it has ever had since the establishment of the Federal Parliament. The Democracy is becoming more and more enlightened, largely because of the increased circulation of that publication. It is perfectly true, of course, that a smaller proportion of the citizens of Australia read Hansard than read the great daily newspapers.
– Does the honorable senator think that if each of the in members of the Federal Parliament circulates on an average a dozen copies of Hansard it reaches any very considerable number, of the people?
– The number of copies circulated by members of Parliament by no means represents the total number of copies read throughout the country. As my honorable friend is doubtless aware, there are hundreds oT Mechanics’ Institutes, Schools of Arts, and societies of various kinds that receive copies of Hansard. Every newspaper, small or large, is entitled to a copy. My experience shows me that that publication is more extensively read than some- honorable senators imagine. Especially does that remark apply to the distant parts of Australia. Those who have travelled much in the country districts must often have met with men who are thoroughly conversant with the doings of the Federal Legislature. They read Hansard carefully, and are thoroughly well informed about the various Bills that are discussed by Parliament from time to time. Indeed, I have met members of the public in distant parts of the country who were better informed about the proceedings of Parliament than some members of Parliament themselves are. Some of these people read very little else than Hansard.
– The honorable senator does not think that the average elector reads Hansard? I am sure that ninetenths of them do not.
– Of course, I do not think that the average elector reads Hansard, for the good and sufficient reason that many of them have not the opportunity. I am disposed to agree with Senator Sayers that if it were more generally known that Hansard for the session could be obtained for 2s. 6d., far more citizens of Australia would obtain copies than is now the case. Consequently the official publication would have a much larger circulation than it has to-day. But, whatever be the outcome of Senator Millen’s motion, I hope that something will be done that will give satisfaction to the members of this branch of the Legislature, and to members of Parliament generally. The details of any proposal would, of course, require serious consideration. The question is beset with difficulties and obstacles, but there are no difficulties or obstacles that cannot be surmounted if we are in earnest about overcoming them. I think I can speak for the Government in respect of this matter. We hope that the motion will be carried unanimously, and that later on an opportunity will be afforded of considering the question more thoroughly.
– I was very glad to hear the remarks of the Honorary Minister, and join with him in hoping that the motion will be carried unanimously. But I should like to direct attention to the fact that Parliament nowadays is in an entirely different position from that which it occupied two or three hundred years ago. Then it was an offence to report the proceedings of Parliament at all. That was particularly the case during the Stuart regime, when several persons were punished for reporting parliamentary proceedings. Now we have a totally different state of things, and are complaining that pressmen do not report the proceedings more fully than they do. I honestly admit that I am not enamoured of the object of the motion. Senator Millen’s desire, apparently, is to issue some kind of official publication to the people telling them what has been done in Parliament. I am not sure that such a publication would do very much good. But I am prepared to go with my leader to this extent - that we should have some sort of inquiry made in order to ascertain what steps should be taken to issue an official publication of the kind contemplated. I was glad to hear what the Honorary Minister said about the statements that have been made concerning the unfairness of the press. Speaking as a newspaper man, I have to say that the press is a commercial institution. Its business is to report the proceedings of Parliament with the object of selling newspapers, and not merely for political purposes. We cannot blame newspapers if sometimes they report . a prize fight at considerable length instead of devoting more space to a rough-and-tumble in Parliament. They have a perfect right to adopt that course if they think fit. We have no right to charge them with being unfair because they supply their readers with the matter which they think is most interesting to them.
– Oh, yes; surely we can do that?
– The newspapers have a perfect right to publish what they like, provided they keep within the law. If they are dishonest in their reports of Parliament, they will probably kill their circulation when they are found out ; and it does not take very long to find a newspaper out.
– I differ from the honorable senator.
– Nevertheless, that is my view. What has killed the Labour press so far?
– It has not been killed.
– It has. What has driven the Labour press to come down to a Parliament and ask for a subsidy to enable it to continue? What is really the reason that has kept the Labour papers down? Nothing but the fact that they only report one side of the case.
– When has a Labour newspaper asked Parliament for a subsidy?
– The honorable senator voted for one the other day.
– I did not, and never heard of such a thing.
– The fault of the Labour press is that it only reports its own side.
– That is not the trouble that the Labour press suffers from.
– I do not see why it should come to the Government of the Commonwealth for a subsidy for any other reason. I will say the same about some sections of what may be called the Conservative press, if my honorable friend likes. Those newspapers which stand for one side all the time, and never give the other side a fair chance of being heard* do not commend themselves to the public generally. A newspaper that wishes to succeed in politics must give a fair show to both sides. I take exception to what the Honorary Minister said when he referred to the alleged unfairness of the newspapers generally.
– It is a matter of notorious knowledge.
– “ Notorious knowledge “ is rather a tautological expression, but I do not agree with what the honorable senator intends to convey. Newspapers cater for the people who buy them. If, however, a newspaper adheres too closely to Conservative leanings in its reports, it kills itself. If it adheres too closely to the contrary opinion, it kills itself. I do not think it fair to charge the newspapers with dishonesty because they do not choose to report the proceedings of Parliament at greater length. I may. hold the personal opinion that the words of wisdom which I utter at times have not received the publicity which they deserved. But that is my affair. The press has probably given me as much publicity as it thought I was worth - and that may not be very much. I am not justified on that account in attacking the press because it has not chosen to publish its reports in a particular form. Senator Findley said, amongst other things, that the newspapers occasionally say that such-and-such a member of Parliament “ also spoke.” But I would remind him that in England a member of Parliament often considers himself flattered if the Times refers to him as one who “also spoke.” He by no means thinks that he has been ignored.
– If ten honorable senators speak in a debate, and a newspaper devotes four lines to stating that they “ also spoke,” would the honorable senator think that it was flattering?
– If it is mentioned that they, spoke at all that is something. I frequently make speeches, and find no mention of the fact in the press reports. I am speaking of what occurs in England, and if a member of the Imperial Parliament speaks for an hour or three-quarters of an hour, and a big London daily takes so much notice of his speech as to record the fact that he “ also spoke” in the debate, he thinks that he has not been treated so badly. If the inquiry suggested by Senator Millen is to be made, I hope that some means will be devised for educating the public generally on public matters, and that we may arouse some interest in what is taking place in this Parliament.. My complaint is not so much against the newspapers as against the people who do not demand more extensive reports of our proceedings. That seems to me to be where the difficulty lies. After what the Minister has said, I understand that the Government propose to assist Senator Millen in carrying his motion. I hope the matter will be gone into thoroughly, and, even if it should not lead to the issue of an official publication, giving concise reports of what occurs in this Parliament, it will, at least,* direct public attention to the matter, and make Hansard, which is at present being run on different lines, a more popular publication than it is today, and thereby create a greater demand for it.
. -It is novel and refreshing to listen to a debate of this kind, in which every speaker is practically on the same side. It is not. my intention to utter any particularly discordant note, but I take the opportunity to absolutely deny the accuracy of a statement made by Senator Chataway “as “ to the alleged failure of the Labour press and the reason for it. There was a double inaccuracy in his statement.’ In the first place, the Labour press has not failed. It is growing in influence, and numbers every day, and, in the second place, its present position, as compared with what it might, and soon will be, is not due to the fact that the Government have subsidized a cable association. No appeal was made on behalf of any Labour newspaper for anything of the kind, nor was the proposal made in the interests of any Labour newspaper. Senator Chataway must have known that he was making an unfair and partisan statement.
– It was in reply to the honorable senator’s interjection.
– Still, it was unfair. Every honorable senator who has spoken in this debate from either side has had to admit that the reason why we do not get anything like fairly full, accurate, and unbiased reports of the doings of this Parliament presented to the public, is that the newspapers are purely commercial concerns run for profit-making, and that we cannot expect them to do more or less than they do at present, owing to the necessity for dividends. This is one more proof of the way in which the public are beginning to recognise the utter inefficiency of private enterprise to manage any of our public concerns, if they are to be managed well. It is an admission of the inevitable growth of Socialistic thought which, in spite of the opposition of our friends opposite, is swaying the world to-day, and which they have to recognise, and even help forward.
– It is an admission that the only way in which we can hope to get fair reports is by making use of a Commonwealth subsidized publication.
– Just so. It is a confession that, by some such method as Senator Millen has outlined, we must nationalize even our news-distributing agency, and must adopt a Socialistic and nationalized system of news distribution if the public are to be accurately informed of the doings of Parliament. I welcome this admission by our opponents who, in spite of themselves, are being gradually educated in this matter. Let me say that the growth of the National and Federal idea which, in the face of Conservative opposition, is causing more and more of the public matters concerning the Australian people to be handed over to the care of this Parliament, makes the necessity for such a publication, as has been suggested by Senator Millen, more evident. This Parliament is undertaking new duties, and is being invested with ever-increasing powers, and as its legislation in an increasing degree affects the great bulk of the people, so it becomes increasingly necessary that the people shall be supplied with an efficient medium by which to obtain information as to its doings. I trust that when in another session this matter is revived, it will take some practical shape.
Whilst I do not profess to have had such a prolonged journalistic experience as Senators Findley and Chataway, I have, in a humble way, had some connexion with the press. During three or four sessions of the New South Wales Parliament I was engaged in this very work of endeavouring to give not a full, but a fair summary of the doings of that Parliament. I was writing parliamentary notes. I found that, owing I suppose to my eminently judicial temperament, I was able to satisfy the readers of the paper for which I was writing. There was always present the difficulty to which Senator Findley has referred. The sub-editor of the newspaper sometimes found that other matters pressed upon the space available for political doings. He was not a politician, and if he required’ space he did not consider the merits of the speakers whom I had reported. He cut down my reports to meet the space available in the way which he found most convenient, and very often the last speakers reported, though they may have made the most important speeches, had to suffer.
– Even Hansard gives condensed reports of speeches made during an all-night sitting.
– Perhaps that is pardonable.
– It is justifiable;I do not know whether it is pardonable.
– But honorable senators have an opportunity to correct the Hansard reports. They cannot correct the press reports.
– That is true. I think that Senator Chataway has, to some extent, misrepresented the statements incidentally made as to the unfairness of the press reports. I do not think that honorable senators, in making such remarks, were referring to the gentlemen who take notes of our proceedings for the press. It is the proprietors and editors of the newspapers who are responsible. I know that I have often said things which the press reporter has thought worthy of recording, but, while they found a place in his notes, they did not appear in the newspaper he represented.
– The newspapers can only afford a certain amount of space for parliamentary proceedings.
– Yes; but that space is not at all times fairly allotted. I can understand that Senator Chataway, with his purely English ideas, would, if he were a member of the Imperial Parliament, be highly satisfied with the notification in an important newspaper, “ Mr. Chataway also spoke.” But we cannot forget that in the Imperial Parliament a favoured section has practically a monopoly of the sayings and doings, and the great majority of members are only dummy voters behind the party leaders in that institution, in which the caucus system is carried to its logical conclusion. We can readily understand that in a multitude of 670 members it may be a distinction for some honorable member to be noticed at all. Still, I think we may very reasonably complain of the short shrift which members of both State and Commonwealth Parliaments are given in the press reports. I am not here to complain on that account by any means. I have a great deal more reason to complain sometimes of what is put in than of what is left out. Senator Long has recently had an experience, which has been referred to, of the publication of the injudicious things which an honorable senator says, and which he might wish the newspapers would not report.
– They usually record the injudicious tilings said.
– I think we are sometimes apt to forget that it is difficult to convey a joke very well in cold type. I remember an instance of this in which I was myself concerned. On the strength of a jocular utterance of mine in the State Parliament of New South Wales, I was denounced as a being capable of coldblooded murder. I was referring to a public official who had committed some grave fault, and when some one remarked that he should be pensioned off, I jocularly said, “ Pensioned off, be hanged ! He should be pole-axed.” For that I was denounced in the press as a man who advocated murder in the ‘first degree.
– Did they know the honorable senator?
– They did.
– That makes it worse.
– They knew that I was quite incapable of any such thing, but for purely party purposes they chose to put such a complexion upon what I said jocularly.
– Is the honorable senator the man who said that no nonunionist should have Christian burial?
– No, I never said anything of the kind ; but if any one said that about me it would not trouble me in the least. After I am dead, I do not care how I am buried, whether with Christian burial or in any other way. I think it should be quite possible to arrange something on the lines suggested by Senator Millen, and in his references to the report of the Select Committee appointed by the Imperial Parliament. He mentioned the fact that a summary is issued by the French Parliament, and that it is very rare indeed that members afterwards complain of any inaccuracy or misrepresentation. From what we have heard and read of their character, the French are a highly excitable race, and we know that in the French Chamber of Deputies, and also in their Senate, stormy scenes frequently occur. The French Parliament must have discovered a useful method, or have obtained the services of verycompetent journalists, when they are able to issue a summarized report to which so little exception is taken. I think, therefore, that there are no great or insuperable difficulties in the way of arriving at a solution of the problem. I trust that, on the re-assembling of Parliament, Senator Millen will take the earliest opportunity to submit a motion in whatever direction he may think most advisable. It is rather a pity that this matter has not been considered and determined long ago. During the next few months, there will have to be laid before the electors of Australia subjects in which the deepest and most widespread interest ought to be taken. It would have been a great advantage, indeed, if we had had a publication in which we could have distributed, in a readable form, the various expressions of opinion which have been uttered in the other Chamber, and, to some extent, here, on the merits and demerits of the proposals. As such things may, in the growing national life of Australia, be more frequent in the future, and as no State other than that in which the Seat of Government is temporarily situated can get first-hand information, I trust that a scheme will be devised which, taking advantage of the latest achievements of science, will enable summarized reports, if that plan be ultimately adopted, to be issued simultaneously in the State capitals, so as to be distributable more readily to its outlying parts, such reports giving that full and fair information which it is necessary the public should have if representative government is to move fully in accord with the advanced democratic ideals of these times. There was a time, as Senator
Chataway has mentioned, when reports of parliamentary debates were considered too sacred to be lightly published abroad. Later, a man immortalized his name by first publishing in anything like proper form parliamentary debates. His name was Hansard. Senator Millen may immortalize his name if, next session he is able to devise a method of simplifying and popularizing the reports of our parliamentary proceedings. I feel sure that no attempt to increase the distribution of Hansard will, of itself, be effective. I suppose that every senator’s experience is more or less similar to mine. Although he- may be interested very much in certain phases of the discussions which take place here, when he was not present, or in the other House, he has to wade through such a vast mass of* irrelevant matter in order to get at the kernel, that he is made to realize that a summarized report is the only form in which the general reader will ever be prepared to take his politics. In the stress and hurry of life, it is absolutely impossible, and certainly most distasteful, for any man, in order to obtain a clear grip of politics, to, as it were, sift out a vast mass of chaff so as to get at a few grains of wheat which he may desire to assimilate. Knowing that the feeling generally is in favour of the motion, I beg to add my expression of cordial approval, and trust that it will be given practical effect to in the next session.
– I am very pleased, although rather astonished, at the attitude of some honorable senators. Since Federation, indeed, long prior to that event, I have heard a continuous song ‘ sung by those honorable gentlemen in praise of private enterprise, and the glories of free competition, and all that sort of thing. When, from that very source, comes the cry that private enterprise has failed to give general satisfaction as regards the production and publication of the utterances of members of Parliament, particularly of the Parliament of Australia, I think that there is room for astonishment. I agree with everything which they have said, and also with what has been said by honorable senators on this side. I know that, in the past, the way in which the speeches of members of Parliament were presented to the public by the daily - press gave very little satisfaction. I am certain that, as regards- the section of Parliament to which I belong, there was some justification for complaint. I think that the Government ought to be pleased to give any assistance they possibly can, in order to insure greater satisfaction. I am pleased that they may have an opportunity to do so. I know that the intention of Senator Millen is merely to ventilate the subject at present, to get an expression of opinion from the Senate, and, when Parliament reassembles, to take such steps as may bring about the inauguration of a system which will give greater satisfaction, not only to members of Parliament, but to the public. What do members of Parliament want? I know what I want. I do not want a summarized version of anything I say to go to the people, coloured by a partisan of either the Labour party or the Opposition party. I am sure that no other member of the Senate has such a desire. Summaries of speeches are all very well in their way; but, in a very short time, honorable senators would find them taking such a form that they would be bound to give dissatisfaction to some persons. To my mind, the only method is to give a full and fair statement of the case, as isgiven in Hansard. I agree with Senator Findley that we have a right to be proud of our Hansard. Every senator, when he reads his utterances, has a greater opinion of himself than, very probably, he had before.
– It is quite “true.
– Yes. Hansard contains a clear and distinct statement of what every honorable senator really meant. If there is not such a statement given in the proof report, he has the opportunity of submitting corrections, and making his speech convey to the public an accurate statement of what he said. I do not think that there could be anything better than that. I do not believe that any scheme could be arrived at which could give greater satisfaction than a proper dissemination throughout Australia of the’ work of our Hansard staff. How that can best be done, the Select Committee to be moved for by Senator Millen next session will take into consideration, and, no doubt, they will recommend some means whereby . every State can have a simultaneous publication. That may cost a little money. But if it is worth the money in the interests of the people pf Australia, and in the interests of members of Parliament themselves, they ought not to be afraid to spend it. Is there any difficulty in the way? I know that a very large number of citizens read with very great interest the utterances of their representatives in Parliament. I know that, especially as regards South Australia, the supply of twenty-five copies of each Ilansard for distribution does not meet anything like the demand which is made upon a member of the Labour party.
– It is not nearly enough.
– Every member of the Labour party could easily distribute double that number. But he has no right to be put in that position. Senator Symon has stated that he does not distribute the whole of his copies. If he wishes to get friends in South Australia to send the unused copies to, I will supply him with names if I have his permission to do so.
– He is going to give me some copies.
– If Senator Symon knew that .some of his speeches were being read with avidity by electors in South Australia, I suppose he would be just as anxious as any other senator to bring about a wider circulation of Hansard. The members of this section of the Senate have no reason to fear. They have no reason to object to anything they may say being published broadcast throughout Australia. I should prefer a daily issue of Hansard, published in the form of a daily newspaper, and containing, in addition to the parliamentary proceedings, other information which might be furnished through the High Commissioner, and our _ representatives in different parts of the world, and, of course, all the Government advertisements. It would take the form of not only a daily Hansard, but a Government Gazette. Besides that, it could be made public property. Every individual in the different States where it was published could send in his advertisements. If the circulation realized my anticipations, advertisers would be found rushing the Department with advertisements, and, instead of the official report costing more than it does at present, I believe that the larger the circulation became the more would be the profit. These are my opinions.
– Would you stop the publication during the recess?
– No ; why should it be stopped during the recess? We could employ leader writers just as do newspapers, and publish , their writings throughout the year. It would be a Commonwealth daily newspaper - the Commonwealth Gazette. I do not think that our friends opposite would be very anxious to push anything like that to a legitimate issue.
– They are coming over rapidly.
– Yes. The very fact that they are not satisfied with private enterprise at present is an indication that they . are eager for something of the description I have referred to being taken in hand. I wish now to refer to certain information which has been made public, but of which I do not think sufficient notice has been taken. Last Tuesday Senator Sayers asked a number of questions relating to Hansard. I do not know whether those questions were put in anticipation of this motion being submitted by Senator Millen. But, in any case, the information which is embodied in the replies given to them, may be made use of by honorable senators, lt will, I hope, enable the Government to afford the public greater facilities in the future for obtaining copies of Hansard. As I have already stated, all the members of the Labour party are overtaxed in the demands which are made upon them for copies of that publication. The information which was asked for by Senator Sayers related to the number of copies of Hansard purchased by the public in the different States. The honorable senator also desired to know what was the total cost of Hansard for the year 1908-9. Why he selected that particular year I do not know. He may have had some reason for it, but, in any case, I feel sure that he desired to obtain only accurate information. He was told that the cost of Hansard for 1908-9 was ^4,210 as. 8d. That is what its printing and publication cost. The honorable senator also desired to ascertain the total cost of Hansard - that is, its cost inclusive of the salaries of the official staff. Everybody knows the number of Hansard men who are engaged in this Parliament and the remuneration which they receive, and one has only to add the total of that remuneration to the ^4,210 os. 8d. to arrive at the aggregate cost of Hansard. I have been informed that if Senator Sayers had selected the year prior to 1908-9, it would have been found that the production of Hansard was then more costly. But I suppose that some explanation of that circumstance would have been forthcoming.
– Perhaps the parliamentary session was longer during that year.
– It may have been. At any rate, the Government supplied the information in respect of the year for which Senator Sayers desired it, though I am informed that during the previous year the cost of Hansard was about 50 per cent. more. I believe that the small number of copies of Hansard which is purchased in the different States is due to the fact that the people do not know that they can obtain that publication at such a low price. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the figures in this connexion, because I want them to realize what a small percentage of our population has the remotest chance of becoming aware of what really transpires in this Parliament. In Victoria only 202 copies of the weekly number, in addition to twenty sessional copies of Hansard., are sold. The sessional volumes, I may explain, are bound either in paper or otherwise. In New South Wales, which has a larger population than Victoria, only 165 weekly copies, and eight sessional copies of Hansard are purchased by the public. Probably the people of Victoria, owing to the Commonwealth Parliament meeting in Melbourne, take a little moreinterestin its proceedings than do the people of New South Wales. That fact may account for the lesser number of copies of Hansard sold in the latter State. In Western Australia - and I wish to call the attention of the representatives of that State to the fact - only nine weekly copies and one sessional copy of Hansard are sold. So that the people in that part of the Commonwealth must be a benighted lot. In Queensland, which ought to be a more intelligent State, only twentyfive weekly copies of Hansard, and five sessional copies, are sold to the public; and in South Australia only sixty-six weekly, and five sessional, copies, are purchased by the public. South Australia, therefore, cannot boast very much about its inquisitiveness in regard to our parliamentary proceedings, although in proportion to its population it compares very favorably with the other States. Now I come to Tasmania, which requires more enlightenment politically than does any other part of the world.
– That is a very sweeping statement.
– If the honorable senator objects to my statement I will say that Tasmania requires more education in a social and political sense than does any other part of Australia. How many copies of Hansard are sold in that State ? Only seven weekly, and no sessional, copies. Nobody in that island is sufficiently interested in the proceedings of the National Parliament to induce him to purchase a bound copy of Hansard.
– There will be an improvement now that the Labour party are in power.
– I hope so. I am taking part in this debate merely because I wish to impress upon the minds of honorable senators the information which has been elicited by Senator Sayers, so that they may do all that lies in their power to make- it public throughout the length and breadth of Australia that any person can purchase Hansard for a session for 2s. 6d. There are hundreds of persons in Tasmania who, if they were aware of that fact, would undoubtedly purchase it, because they are anxious to learn what Senators Ready, Long, and others have had to say here.
– Does the 2s. 6d. include postage?
– I understand that Hansard is transmitted post free.
– Why cannot the public purchase Hansard in Adelaide?
– I think that the Government ought to take a hand in this matter, and see that every railway book-stall has copies of Hansard for sale. I hope that this discussion, which has been initiated on the motion of Senator Millen, will have that result, so that, when next session a Select Committee is appointed to inquire into the matter, it will be able to take all these facts into consideration, with a view to evolving a plan under which a greater feeling of fellowship between the people of Australia and their representatives in this Parliament will be established.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, any Constitution framed for the government of the Federal Capital Territory should provide -
That under no circumstance should any of the lands granted by the State of New South Wales or hereafter acquired be alienated in fee-simple, but a leasehold tenure established providing for all increments in land values being appropriated by the Government for the benefit of the people of Australia for all time.
That all lands in the Federal Capital Territory now privately owned should be acquired by the Commonwealth with the least possible delay.
In submitting this motion, I do not intend to speak at any great length. I should be only too pleased if it received the unanimous support which was accorded to the proposal presented by Senator Millen. Although honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber differ from honorable senators opposite upon many important matters, and, perhaps, to some extent upon the principle underlying this motion, such special circumstances surround the Territory in which the Federal Capital is to be established that even my honorable friends opposite may concede that the adoption of special methods for dealing with the lands of that Territory are justifiable. Personally, I am a believer in the nationalization of land, and I have never hesitated, even when mixing with the most conservative class of land-owners, to advocate that principle. I believe that when it is advocated honestly and straightforwardly the vast majority of those who own and cultivate land will be found to agree with it. Time after time I have heard opponents of the leasehold as against the freehold system of tenure admit that if the former had been adopted when this country was first settled it would have been a splendid system. But they asserted that as freehold rights had been acquired it was not now advisable to disturb those rights by attempting to introduce a new system. Whatever weight may be fairly given to such an argument with regard to the land of the various States does not, speaking generally, apply to the Federal Territory. It must be admitted that there are special circumstances and conditions attaching to the Territory which do not apply to the same extent to other parts of the Commonwealth. I am verypleased to know that the necessity for this motion has been, to some extent, obviated by the fact that the Government have consented to a clause in the measure recently passed providing for the provisional government of the Territory to the effect that no land therein shall be sold. But, nevertheless, I think that no harm can be done by emphasizing this principle as one standing apart from all other matters connected with the Territory. The ordinary growth of a town or city may be roughly spoken of as very much dependent upon commercial and other interests, whilst the creation of a Federal Territory is the deliberate act of the whole of the Australian people. When an ordinary town springs up, it is not usually known to what dimensions it will grow. We cannot in any way foreshadow when a settlement is established in any particular district whether it will remain a village, or whether in a short time it will develop into a large and important centre. It is, therefore, impossible for us to lav down special plans and provide special conditions with regard to such a township. But when we are deliberately choosing a certain area for the purpose of establishing a Federal Capital for the Australian continent, the case is entirely different. I can well understand the position taken up by those who assert that, no matter what site we choose, the Federal Capital can never be more than a mere official centre; that you cannot create a commercial centre ; that you cannot deliberately choose a place which will spontaneously develop into a large and important city ; that you can do no more than make it an official centre around which will gravitate those interests which are immediately concerned with politics. But, while there may be a certain amount of truth in that argument, yet it depends very much on the site chosen as to whether other circumstances may not be quite sufficient - when added to the start that such a city will get by being the chosen home of the nation - to render it a matter of certainty that at no distant date it will become a place of considerable importance. It is clear that when a settlement of any kind arises in a large State, the extent to which the influence of that centre will radiate cannot be foreshadowed. We do not know to what distance from the city or settlement its growth may add to the value of the surrounding land. A small centre in a large State may have very little influence indeed in the determination of land values. But when we find that the whole supreme power of this Commonwealth will be centred in one spot, we can readily admit that a certain amount of value must necessarily attach itself to the lands within that area. It is, therefore, clear that if that land were to remain open to be obtained in fee-simple an opportunity for speculation would at once be created. Persons who perhaps had no notion of becoming residents of the Federal Capital would at once commence to traffic in the lands thrown open. They would buy those lands with the object of selling them at a profit. This buying and selling would continue as long as it remained profitable. While only those who were able to indulge in such speculations would profit thereby, the vast majority of persons whose circumstances compelled them to live in or near the Federal Capital would have to pay for the privilege of living there, although their residence would determine the price at which the land was sold. Therefore, the operations of a few speculators would have the effect of levying a perpetual tax upon the vast majority of the people living within the Federal area. Practically tribute would be levied upon them and their successors for all time. That process would be of no advantage to the Commonwealth, or any part of it. It would merely add to the profits of a few speculators. It is clear that as soon as the Federal Capital site is definitely decided upon - as soon as a space is marked out for the building of the Capital, some millions of money must,- in the course of a few years, be expended. First of all, the site must be surveyed. Then the city must be designed. The necessary works for the formation of streets, roads, and squares must be entered upon. The planting of trees, and the laying of foundations for the erection of parliamentary and other buildings, and for the head-offices of the Federal Departments must be commenced. We hope that that city will be possessed of architectural beauty, that it will be designed so as to be the fitting political home of the people of a continent. Consequently, the number of persons employed must be considerable. The number of officials whose homes must be centred in the city will, be very large. Everything that can be done by art to aid nature must be resorted to, in order to make this place, as far as public expenditure can make it, a fitting home for the Australian people and the model city of the Empire. If that idea is in any way realized, the expenditure of public money will add enormously to the value of lands which are at present no more than a wilderness, worth no more than what is termed “ prairie value.” I think that honorable senators on all sides of the Chamber must admit that, as considerable public expenditure will be incurred by the whole of the people of Australia, those people have the right to the added value. It therefore becomes necessary for us to devise methods by which that added value can- be appropriated by those to whom it rightly belongs. Under the freehold system, it will inevitably go into the pockets of a few speculators.
– It need not.
– It must inevitably do so.
– With a land tax?
– My honorable friend’s interjection touches an important phase of the subject, concerning which he has very strong opinions. Senator Stewart’s idea is that, if the freehold is held by individuals, whilst the Government imposed a tax upon the land, the whole of the increment of value created by public expenditure could be appropriated by the public in the shape of the proceeds of a tax. I shall not dispute that position. I concede at once that were the land disposed of in fee simple, it would be possible to impose a tax that would appropriate the whole of the unimproved rental value of the land for public purposes. But, while that is possible, I do not conceive that it is workable. I believe that we could not, without raising an outcry which, sooner or later, would cause the break-down of the system, impose a measure of taxation in regard to the Federal Territory differing largely from the taxation levied in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– How does the honorable senator propose to accomplish his purpose ?
– I propose to accomplish it by substituting for freehold a leasehold tenure. Senator Stewart would reply to that - as I have heard him reply before by interjection - that under a leasehold tenure it is quite possible for many of the abuses which exist under the freehold system to arise. I cheerfully admit that if the Government gives ii leasehold tenure extending over a very long period, it is quite possible that enormous increments of value may occur, that land may be trafficked in, and that private individuals may reap an enormous proportion of the increment that rightly belongs to the people. I remember a case in point. I happened to be present in the House of Representatives in New Zealand when Sir John McKenzie introduced his perpetual leasing law, which proposed to len se land for a period of 999 years. I asked him, “ What is the difference between that and freehold? What benefit is it to the people of New Zealand ? You state that you are preserving to them their ownership of the land if you give an individual a 999 years’ lease. But is not that the same as giving him the freehold?” Sir John McKenzie said to me, “Ali, my lad, I am going to reserve the right to tax the leaseholders.” But later on I found to my amazement that the Act did not preserve the right to tax those who had obtained land on peppercorn rentals. I found that he had misled the House and myself. The persons who had secured land at these nominal rentals soon commenced a persistent agitation to obtain freehold titles.
– Hear, hear !
– There is really nothing for the honorable senator to cheer in that statement. The fact that human nature is so greedy that when a man has a certain amount he tries to get more is nothing to cheer. I see no reason for cheering landowners who bring pressure to bear upon Governments to obtain better terms, which may be good for them, but inimical to the general welfare.
– The honorable senator thinks that a subject for jeers, not cheers.
– No, I say merely that I recognise that there is nothing to be proud of in it. It is just what we might expect of human nature. I have a little piece of land myself, and the day after I took if up it occurred to me that my .selection would be more convenient and profitable if I could get the block adjoining it. I am not blaming or praising that common trait in human nature. But it is one thing to say that one will neither praise nor blame such a trait in human nature, and quite another to say that one is not prepared to adopt safeguards to prevent the exhibition of such a trait to such an extent as to be inimical to the general welfare. Whils’t I should not blame any man who would . speculate in Federal Territory lands if he got the opportunity, I should very severely blame members of this Senate, who are here to conserve the public interests, if they did not try to prevent him doing so.
– How does the honorable senator propose to prevent men doing that?
– A man holding at one time a very high and responsible position in the New South Wales Parliament - I refer to Sir Joseph Carruthers - some years ago introduced the homestead selection system of land tenure in that State. I am sorry to say that he remained in power long enough to go back upon the splendid principle he had done much to forward, and later introduced a measure to enable the homestead selections to be converted into freeholds. Under the Homestead Selection Act of New South Wales the selector was called upon to pay an annual rental of 2 J per cent., or 6d. in the j£i, on the unimproved capital value of the land. 11 For the first five .years the selector was asked to pay only half that amount, or 1¼ per cent, on the capital value. These details, however, are not important, and the principle adopted was that the unimproved capital value of the land was as,sessed, and the annual rental based upon that, and any improvements effected by the tenant remained his property.
– What happened as the- capital value increased?
– It was subject to reassessment every” ten years.
– That is too long.
– I may inform the honorable senator that the Labour party in New South Wales have asked that the term should be extended.
– It ought to be reassessed every year.
– I think the honorable senator must admit that if the unimproved capital value of the land were to be assessed every year, it would become an annual lease. However theoretically or academically correct such an idea may be, in practice it is unworkable.
-Why was the change made? Who were responsible for converting the homestead leases into conditional purchases?
– The reason, I think, was that there was an outcry on the part of those who held Selections under, that tenure that they should be converted into conditional-purchase selections, in order that, they might more readily obtain monetary advances from financial institutions.
– They were the people who called for the change ?
– I admit that they were to a large extent. But I am bound to say that I think it was brought about -through the cowardice of some politicians in giving in to that cry on the part of some of the homestead selectors, and was not due to any very general demand. I held one of these selections at one time, and I ani able from personal experience to say that the statement continually made, “that no man has any incentive to expend his capital or energy in building a home, unless he can get the freehold of his land, is pure fiction. In the district in which I lived there were six or seven homestead selectors surrounding me, and individually and collectively we spent more in developing our holdings in clearing, grubbing, and fencing than was spent >by a similar number of conditional-purchase selectors.
– This question is very interesting, and I think we should have a quorum present. There are only seven honorable senators in the chamber. [Quorum formed.]
– The reason for the expenditure by the homestead selectors is not far to seek. They knew that they had security of tenure, and might hold their land so long as they complied with the conditions, and that they had a tenant right in their improvements. A freehold would have given them no greater advantages unless they desired to sell, and they might then obtain a speculative value. Instead of having to plank down the whole or a large proportion of the capital value of the land, in order to secure the freehold, they were called upon to pay a comparatively infinitesimal amount as an annual rent, and could devote the balance of their capital, as they did, to the making of improvements on their land. That is what happened in the district in which I lived, and in every part of New South Wales where land was taken up on the same system. To show Senator Gould that it is only human greed that is at the bottom of the desire for a freehold, I may tell him that one of my neighbours, who strongly urged that the homestead selections should be converted into conditional purchases, while paying a rent of only 7½d. per acre for his homestead selection, was renting land half-a-mile away from a squatter at the price of half of his crop, and paid the owner of the land in wheat to the value of 14s. an acre. I do not wish to enlarge upon this matter, but whether we adopt a system of perpetual leaseholds .at a peppercorn rental, and the right to levy a tax - and that is the system advocated by some, and which is in operation in some countries - or go in for a system based on the homestead selection principle to which I have referred, I believe that the great weight of public opinion throughout Australia is strongly in favour of the Commonwealth retaining for all time the ownership of the land comprising the Federal Territory. It is generally recognised that it will ( be a national heritage which will increase in value by public expenditure, and that that immensely added value should not be given away to any particular set of favoured individuals who might have the luck to get in first as purchasers, if the lands were dealt with on the freehold system. I believe that the principle of collective or public ownership of land is growing in favour all over the civilized world. It is being realized more and more that the land question is at the root of most industrial troubles, and that to retain the ownership of land in the hands of the people is the only effective way to secure for them social and industrial justice. I realize that the area comprised in the Federal Territory is not so large that the whole economic condition of the nation would be materially affected by the system of land tenure adopted there. But the desire with which we have been twitted by Conservatives in this Parliament, and in the New South Wales Parliament, to make this Federal Territory a place for experiments in State Socialism, is a very commendable desire on our part. In view of the unique conditions under which we shall occupy that Territory, we shall, I think, be justified in undertaking experiments . which it might not be desirable to undertake in the different States. But let me say that we need no experiment to be satisfied as to the value of the public ownership of land. Every honorable senator is aware that an individual possessing neither brains nor energy, but the good fortune to have a little available capital, may acquire land which later may become the site of an extensive settlement, and that the growth of that settlement will create a large fortune for him, and a perpetual income for his successors. The fact that the ownership of land is the safest and best way in which an individual can invest his savings places the matter beyond the region of experiment, because it is clear that the State may reap the same advantage by adopting the same course. There are some who assert that the individual can best engage in enterprises involving commercial knowledge and skill, and that the State must be under many disadvantages in undertaking similar enterprises. That contention is arguable, no doubt, but no ability is needed to own land. All that is needed is that a man should have the capital, and the luck to secure a piece of land in the right place, and he has then only to hold fast to it.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Capital is rather hard to get sometimes.
– That is so, but it is quite beside the question. I say there is no ability required to own land.
– A man may have luck.
– That is not ability. I admit that a man may, or may not, show ability in choosing where he shall invest his money in a land speculation, but, so far as the ownership of a good site is concerned, no ability is required. There can be no risk in the Commonwealth adhering to an area which is sure, by the expenditure of public money, to grow into enormous value, at any rate near the centre. And that value will probably radiate not only to the confines of the Federal Territory, but even far beyond -them. I believe it was a fair demand that a very much larger area should be surrendered to the Commonwealth. I do not wish to further enlarge upon the question. I believe that the many advantages which are attached to a leasehold system as against ownership in fee simple are so obvious that the common-sense of the Australian people indorses that point of view, and a large majority of honorable senators are prepared to respond to the wishes of their constituents. I only desire to mention one other advantage which leasehold possesses over other forms of tenure. If you create a freehold tenure, and it be found to be unworkable, or inadvisable, necessarily you -must compensate those whom you dispossess. You cannot change from a freehold to a leasehold tenure without much cost and friction. But if a leasehold system be adopted, it can, at any time, be abandoned in favour of a freehold system. Therefore, on the ground of prudence, added to the other advantages which I have indicated, there can be no doubt that a leasehold tenure is the safest as well as the best generally. The second part of my motion requires very little elaboration. It merely proposes that all land owned privately in the Federal Territory shall be acquired as promptly as possible. I think it is obvious that in justice to the present owners, and to the people, that that should be done, so that the values which will accrue to the land when it is developed in the way intended, shall, as soon as possible, become public property. I believe that the expense of laying out the Federal Capital, and building the Houses of Parliament, and other structures necessary, will be more than met ultimately by the rental value of the land in and around the Capital. Instead, therefore, of the creation of a “ bush “ Capital, as it is jeeringly termed by many newspapers and politicians, being a bad move; instead of it involving any expense to the Commonwealth, it is, on account of the cheapness of the land, a most economical method of establishing a Capital, and ultimately it will be found more than ordinarily profitable from the fact that the ever-growing land values will be the property of the whole people, when otherwise they would, as I have indicated, fall into the hands of a few fortunate private individuals. I trus’t that the motion will be passed unanimously.
Debate (on motion by Senator Findley) adjourned.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives stating that it had agreed to the Senate’s amendments in this Bill.
– I move -
I think that the greater number of the statements contained in the motion, which, I admit, is rather lengthy, are beyond serious contention. The latter part of it has been questioned, on the ground that it is a large order to urge that “all nations enjoying representative government would be well-advised in granting votes to women.” I may mention incidentally that a similar motion has been given notice of in the other House. Some honorable senators felt rather touchy on the question of doing anything which might be thought to be in the nature of giving advice on an internal matter to the British Government. Therefore, the wider method of expressing the sentiment by referring to “all nations enjoying representative government “ was deliberately chosen. I think that no honorable senator can now say that that objection can be fairly urged. A mere expression of opinion is not by any means dictation. It would ill become any honorable senator to seriously urge that position, seeing that on many occasions the Federal Parliament has expressed its opinion on very much more controversial matters. . It would, indeed, be straining at a gnat after having swallowed a camel if such an objection were raised in this instance. No one can fairly urge that womanhood suffrage is a party question. It will be remembered that a few months ago, in the House of Commons, a Conciliation Committee, representative of all parties - Conservative, Liberal, Labour, and, I think, Home Rule - was formed, and that it agreed upon the substance of a measure granting womanhood suffrage. Of course, in the Old Country the question is tangled up in a way which does not obtain in the Commonwealth or the States. Here the principle of one man one vote was conceded many years ago, and obviously it was only possible to grant the suffrage to women on the same terms as it was held by men. But in Great Britain, owing to the property qualification and the relics of the Feudal system, there has been some measure of disagreement, not so much on the abstract justice of granting the franchise to women as on the question of whether it should be conceded to all women or to only those who are ratepayers, or how political power should be apportioned to them. No such question can arise with us. We are not asking that any special stand should be taken by the Senate as regards the details of any suffrage proposal in the heart of the Empire, it is merely asked to state that in Australia the granting oT the franchise to women on the same terms as to men has, though it met with some opposition at the outset, not given rise to serious criticism. And, that being the case, we are simply asking the Senate to affirm in the broadest fashion that every nation enjoying representative government should give the franchise to women. I think that the time has gone by when an enlightened nation can contend that women are not tnf equals of men.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I am not unaware of the fact that there has been some criticism of this proposal upon the ground that it seeks to dictate to the Imperial Parliament upon a matter of domestic legislation. One honorable senator opposite put the position to me in this way: “What would this Parliament say if the Imperial Parliament were to pass a resolution objecting to our Federal land tax? Do you think we would not resent any such resolution?” In reply, I said, “ Probably we would if one can imagine the Imperial Parliament being so foolish as to interfere in such a matter. But there is a wide difference between a question of internal taxation and a matter affecting human rights in their largest and most important aspect.” The argument cannot fairly be advanced that this Parliament should not express its opinion upon matters of vital concern to it - especially when they are non-party matters - seeing that it has already expressed a most emphatic opinion upon questions which most acutely divide political parties in the Old Country. I need only refer to the resolution which it adopted in regard to the employment of Chinese on the Rand, to that which it affirmed in reference to the Dogger Bank incident during the progress of the Russo-Japanese War, to the motion which it passed in regard to Home Rule for Ireland, and to the opinion it expressed upon a question which is apt to rouse the strongest passions in political circles at Home - I mean the form of the Coronation Oath. When we reflect that all these are controversial matters upon which the British public is divided, honorable senators will be straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel if they object to my proposal upon that ground. It is true that the purpose of the motion is to intimate, in the most courteous terms, to our friends and blood relations in the Mother Country, that we are of opinion that the British Government, amongst others, will be well-advised if it extends the franchise to women. I am not concerned with the detailed objections which may be urged to the adoption* of that course. We know that one of those objections is that the women of Great Britain outnumber the men by some millions, and thai, consequently, they would reign if they fully availed themselves of the franchise. That is an undemocratic objection, and an absurd one, upon its face, because we do not find that, upon matters of practical legislation, divisions of opinion are based on sex grounds.
We do not find all the women voting upon one side in respect of any question submitted to the electors. Both women and men hold certain opinions, and are able to express them. It would not be wise for me to labour this motion, which I have brought forward in all sincerity. I trust that it will be carried, and that it will assist, in some measure, to settle this vexed question. It is idle to say that any feeling will be aroused as the result of its adoption, because, in the first place, we know that the female suffrage movement in Great Britain has progressed to such an extent that it is now admitted by all parties that the reform is within the region of practical politics. Only yesterday, the cable announced that it is a question of such importance that the present Government declare that it must be settled at a very early dateto avoid serious embarrassment. When we find it coupled with the question of Home Rule, and with the Osborne judgment which affects trade unionists, we must admit that its settlement cannot be much longer delayed. One reason why it should be settled speedily is that, when once the vote is granted on equal terms to women and men, a great political subject will have reached finality ; and the road will be open to reform on other matters affecting the social and economic condition of the people. Therefore, the least that we can do is to send word to our kith and kin in Great Britain that we have found this great measure of freedom which has been granted to our women to work well in every particular ; and that it has falsified every prediction which was urged against its acceptance. I trust, therefore, that honorable senators will unanimously support the proposal.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.9].- I think that the Government are deeply indebted to Senator Rae. He has been afforded an opportunity of retaining the attention of honorable senators at a period when we had no other business to transact. If for no other reason they should at least be grateful to him for the effort which he has made to prevent the Senate from dying of inanition. From the terms of the motion, there can be no question that, in the eyes of the world, this Chamber is entitled to take a leading position. After praising the result which has followed the enfranchisement of women in Australia, it declares that that step has proved of great value to the community, notwithstanding that disaster had been freely prophesied; and it then invites us to ask other countries to look to Australia for guidance as to the way in which they should manage their own affairs. It reads-
We respectfully urge that all nations enjoying representative government would be well advised in granting votes to women.
That may be perfectly true-
– It foreshadows the federation of the world.
– Then the Sultan of Turkey should give the women of his harem votes.
– This motion asks the Senate to pose as a body which is to advise the nations of the world. In other words, the youngest nation is to undertake the teaching of the most venerable nations. There is a very homely proverb about youths teaching their grandmothers to suck eggs.
SenatorO’Keefe. - What about the other proverb of the child and the father?
– The child is the father of the man, and this child is going to advise the man as to what he ought to do. The proposal affirms that we should particularly give the benefit of our opinion to Great Britain. It provides that a copy of the resolution shall be forwarded to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, not in the ordinary way, but bya cable message. Through him the whole of the British nation is to be apprised of the importance of the question of women’s suffrage. But, as a matter of fact, we know that for some time an agitation has been in progress in Great Britain in regard to this very question, and that peculiarly advanced suffragettes have made all sorts of demonstrations to impress on the Government the advisableness of extending the franchise to women. We know that a little time ago Mr. Asquith dare not play a game of golf without having two or three policemen to protect him against the energetic assaults of these ladies. We are now asked to help him out of the difficulty by telling him our opinion and giving him our advice. Is it desirable that we should take upon ourselves the duties of a mentor to the British Parliament in the regulation of its own affairs? It is true that we have enfranchised our women, and that we have no reason to regret that step. But there is no necessity for us to adopt a motion of this character. Quite recently we passed a Bill relating to land taxation. Let us suppose that the
House of Commons or the House of Lords forwarded us a resolution setting out what in ‘their opinion are the disadvantages associated with such legislation.
– That is a different thing.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The only difference is that in that case our seniors would be pointing out to us what they considered the best course to adopt, whereas, in this instance, we who are the juniors are pointing out to them what they should do.
– We are not juniors; that is a fallacy. We belong to the same race. We are legislating here, and the British Parliament is legislating for its own people.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - But our institutions are very much younger than theirs. We are a very much younger nation. We are attempting to go to the very root of the institutions of Great Britain by telling the people there whom we think ought to be enfranchised. Surely honorable senators see what a ridiculous position we shall place ourselves in by passing such a motion. It is the sort of thing one might expect from young men at a School of Arts Debating Society casting about for something to talk about.
– Has not the question of women’s franchise passed the debating society stage?
– The question has passed that stage in Australia, but not in Great Britain; and we are only making ourselves ridiculous by attempting to dictate to that country as to what it shall do. I do not know what may be the opinion of honorable senators generally. There may be some who think that it is “ about up to “ the Commonwealth of Australia, through the Senate, to teach other nations. But I have not advanced to that position yet. I think that it would be very much better for us if we were to mind our own business. We should certainly resent it if the House of Commons or the House of Lords passed a resolution with regard to legislation which Australia thought was in her interest.
– Does not Great Britain veto some of our legislation?
– She may do so; but that is no reason why we should attempt to teach her what she should do. We are not authorized to veto British legislation. A motion of this kind is beneath the dignity of the Senate. If we are to pass it, however, it might be desirable to go further, and to cable the motion to other nations that at present enjoy representative government.
– Will the honorable senator move an amendment to’ that effect?
– I should be very happy to do anything within reason that would please the honorable senator; but I do not contemplate submitting such an amendment myself, though I certainly think that there is just as much reason for it as there is for the motion. The nations of the world would then realize that we in Australia have attained to such a position that we are able to teach them what they ought to do, and to lay down an invariable rule, by means of which they may advance their interests.
– There is no reason why we should not give them the benefit of our experience.
– I heard an interjection a little while ago about children teaching their parents. Nowadays it appears that the more juvenile a man is, and the less experienced he is in the ways of the world,, the more he thinks himself fitted to direct his seniors, who have had the advantage, or disadvantage, of experience that has not yet been attained by him.
– I am somewhat surprised, that the honorable senator who is at present leading the Opposition should have, raised his voice against this motion. But I am less surprised when I remember that on nearly every previous occasion when a question has been brought “ forward that was designed to influence movements in the direction of Liberal policies in older lands, the honorable senator has had the courage to rise in opposition. Of course, I shall support the motion, though I do not think that it will have a great deal of influence upon those who are at present in power in Great Britain. I believe that if Senator Rae had some weeks ago written’ a letter to the Prime Minister of England personally advising him on this- question, it would have had quite as much influence upon his mind as would any motion passed by the Senate.
– I remind my honorable friend that I left England twenty years after he did, and I have perhaps a more vivid recollection of the density of the Conservatism of the Old Land. I know how powerful are the men in that country who favour a trend of politics that I am sure would be advocated by Senator Gould, if it were possible for such politics to be advanced in Australia. Those people have not only prevented the women of England from exercising the vote, but they have actually prevented a large portion of the male population from securing enfranchisement. How can Ave expect under such conditions that a resolution of the Senate will influence men such as Mr. Asquith, the present Prime Minister of England? But I am hopeful that the resolution will have a marked effect upon British public opinion. If it does it will have succeeded in doing something towards bringing about a state of things that most of us desire to see realized. There is no reason why the mere fact that we are a younger community should prevent us from sending an urgent message to Great Britain, informing her people that we believe that they would be acting in the best interests of their country by extending the franchise to women. Even if we are younger in point of years, it will be admitted that in very much of our legislation we are at least fifty years in advance of the Old Country. Certainly in respect of our franchise we are even more than that in advance of her. In order that young men in Great Britain may exercise the franchise, it is necessary that their very homes shall be rent asunder. A young man cannot enjoy the suffrage there unless he is prepared to leave his father’s house, and board, say, with the next door neighbour. A man may have seven sons living under the one roof, all of them having attained to manhood’s years, and yet not one of them can exercise the vote. His sons must leave their father’s house before they can enjoy the privilege of enfranchised citizenship. Certainly we have got beyond that stage in Australia. We not only give the vote to the whole of our men, but we have had sufficient confidence in the calibre of our women to enfranchise our wives and sisters. The comprehensive motion submitted by Senator Rae affirms that in extending the franchise to women we have done nothing whatever to baulk the political aspirations of the people of Australia. Rather have we done something to better the condition of our people. We are entitled to say to Great Britain that we have tried the effects of this reform, as we have tried several other reforms that Great Britain has not yet ventured upon. It is quite fair that we should give the benefit of our experience to the country from which we come. We are surely quite capable of saying to Great Britain, “ As we are part and parcel of your race, especially as we have relatives living in your land, we think it right to tell you that this constitutional reform has had excellent effects in Australia, and that you would not do wrong if you tried it in Great Britain.” Personally, I believe that the adoption of the women’s franchise there would assist in getting Great Britain out of that political mist and darkness in which she is living to-day
– When I saw this motion on the business-paper, I thought it would be sure to go through without opposition, and I have been surprised to find that in this “Senate, and in this enlightened year, we have a remnant of the old Conservative forces prepared to oppose this wellestablished principle. If we were living in some of the older countries in the world, that is what we might expect, but in a young country like this, that has already experienced the benefits of women’s franchise, it is surprising to find that there is even one individual left who is hostile to the principle. Senator Gould, in discussing the motion, carefully avoided arguing whether the principle was right or wrong. He sheltered himself behind the question whether we have the right to advise the older countries of the world.-
– Have we?
– Yes, we have the best possible right. We have, in this matter, the right of our experience of womanhood suffrage. We know how this principle has operated in Australia, and in this respect, being politically older than the Old Country, we have the right to give this advice.
– Why not? Senator Gould will admit that the greatest difficulty which the parliamentarian is confronted with is that, when he is aware that a law has been enacted in a foreign coun- try which he thinks might be usefully applied here, he has no means of knowing how it has operated.
-Why should we give this gratuitous advice ? There has been no request for it.
– Why should we not give advice when we know that we are on safe grounds iri giving it? By passing this motion, we shall be merely expressing an opinion on a matter on which we are able to speak dogmatically. We shall only be saying how a particular law has operated in Australia.
– It will be time enough to do that when we are asked to do it.
– I am not so sure that we have not been asked for this advice. I have yet to learn that we have not been asked for it very plainly by the people of the Old Country.
– Have they sent a cable message asking us for this advice?
– That is not the only way in which a request may be made. We know the disgraceful scenes which have occurred in the Old Country during recent years in connexion with the women’s suffrage movement. I see no reason why we should not take notice of that movement. Let me remind honorable senators that this is not a party question in the Old Country. I am sorry, for the sake of the Liberals of the Old Country, that it is not. If they had been really Liberal in their views, they would have taken up this question years ago. As it is not a party question in the Old Country, we can claim, in giving this advice, that we are not taking sides in the matter. Having benefited by our experience of the operation of this great principle, we should, I think, be lacking in our duty if we fail to make the facts known. I hope that those who intend to oppose the motion will, give some more substantial grounds for their, opposition than that we are a younger people than the people we propose to advise. I hold that, politically speaking, and in political experience, we are not junior to any country in the world. As a matter of fact, we are, in politics, the pacemakers for the world. There is more experimenting going on in the political arena in Australia than in any other country, and how, therefore, can any one contend that we are politically the juniors of the other countries of the World? If it is length of years’ only that gives . the right to advise, we should not be allowed to enter the Senate until we have reached the age of three-score and ten. In former years that was a qualification for a legislator, and men had to reach the age of dotage before they were considered able to pass laws. But that method of estimating knowledge and capacity is out of date. Knowledge and experience should be the qualifications for the right to advise, and not merely the number of years a man has lived. We are in every way fitted to advise in this matter, because we know how the principle has operated. There is nothing left for me to argue about, because the one opponent of the motion who has so far addressed the Senate has advanced no reason against it. If honorable senators opposite submit arguments against the principle, those who support the motion may have something to answer. As I have nothing to meet but prejudice, I shall not be justified in delaying the passage of. the motion, and will content myself with the few words I have said. I hope that it will be carried, and that it will assist the people in the Old Country. We should have some regard for them, and should be prepared to give them light when we know that in this matter they are in the darkness of the densest ignorance at the present time. As Senator Henderson has pointed out, the franchise has not yet been extended fully to men in the Old Country. I do not say that they have any better right to it than have women, but ordinarily it is given to men before it is given to women. In all the circumstances, there are good reasons why we should advise the Old Country in this matter, and I have, therefore, great pleasure in supporting the motion.
– It is difficult to understand why there should be any serious opposition to this motion. It is entirely within the province of this Parliament to tender advice to other people. I do not suppose that any member of this Senate will dispute that for a moment.
– Private persons tendering advice that is not asked for sometimes receive a very rough reply.
– We have a perfect right to give this advice, though we may not be able to compel the people we advise to accept it.
– I suppose the honorable senator would compel them to accept it if he could?
– We are not proposing to go so far as that at present. As I understand the motion, we are asked to tell other Governments and peoples of the successful results which have followed the adoption of women’s franchise here. We are asked to speak of the healthy influence it has had upon public life, and to let the people of other lands know something of what has occurred here from the adoption of this principle, in the hope that they may copy our example and profit by it. If those who criticise this motion are anxious for a precedent on which to base their every action, I am in a position to direct their attention to a notable precedent for this. The ex-President of the United States went out of his way to advise the governing authorities of the Commonwealth to people the “ empty north.” Presumably, his intention was that we should people it with white people. In the opinion of at least some honorable senators opposite, that advice, on a very important, but debatable, question from their point of view, might be construed as highly impertinent.
– That is the advice we have been giving honorable senators opposite for ages, when we have suggested that they should encourage immigration.
– It would run counter to the cherished principles of some of our friends opposite who believe that if the empty north is to be peopled it must be by people who are not of our own race. That is a controversial subject, and yet an important figure in the world of politics had the hardihood to advise Australia upon it.
– He also advised Great Britain as to the way in which she should govern Egypt.
– Quite so; and when in France he advised the French people on the important subject of race suicide. I consider that he was quite justified, because the practice of race suicide is hastening that country to its doom.
– Did the United States Senate give that advice ?
– No; an ex-President of the United States gave it. But it was because he was an ex-President of that country that so much attention was paid to his advice. That is a very notable example of the wayin which important political figures in other countries have stuck their oar very far into the affairs of other people. Other notable examples might be quoted.
When the South African war had drawn to a close, we found Mr. Chamberlain, as the chief mouthpiece of the British Parliament, at that time openly inviting the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments of Australia to tender their advice as to the form of government which it would be best to confer on South Africa. That was an Imperial issue, as well as one closely concerning the public life of South Africa, and yet the British Government considered it politic and wise to ask the advice of such junior partners of the Empire as the Governments of Australia. I consider that it is politic and necessary that we should tender our advice to the Old Country in this matter, and speak of the beneficent results which have followed the adoption of this principle here, in the hope that the people of Great Britain may be induced to benefit by our example by extending the franchise to the half of the population from whom they are at present withholding that right. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion, and hope that it will lead to some good. If it does no more than show the people of the Old Country, the press, and even its Parliament, that we are alive to the necessity of some change taking place, and the folly and the cruelty of withholding a right of citizenship from the women of Great Britain, the motion will at least accomplish something. I trust that whatever remnant of opposition has been shown to this very worthy proposal will be withdrawn, and that honorable senators opposite will see that if they are to be guided by that hallowed thing called precedent in directing their footsteps whenever they attempt to get off the beaten track, they can point to the instances I have referred to as examples of a direct inducement being held out to us to express our opinions on very important public questions. I hope that the motion will be carried, and will do some good in’ that benighted land which has held out so steadfastly against granting this very popular and necessary reform.
– I am glad to have the opportunity of supporting the motion. Surely Senator Gould will admit that I am not too young to express an opinion on a subject of this kind when I state that I was sixty-eight years old last month. Surely in the Senate I cannot be considered a youth ready to speak first and to think afterwards. In 1866 I left the Old Country. If I had had much veneration for the Old
Country and its politics, probably I would not be found on the side on which I am. to-day in politics. I saw how things were carried on there. There was Conservatism with a vengeance, and all the evils of landlordism. A poor farmer who dared to vote against the interest of his landlord was liable to lose his farm, and a man who shot a hare was sure to be turned out.
– And transported.
– Yes, and I. nearly got into trouble of that kind. Although that has no connexion with the question of the franchise, still it was one of the things which led me to see the evils of the Old Country in that respect, and since then I have been found on the other side of politics. When I was twenty-three years of age my employer gave me a gun and. said, “ Willie, go across to the potato field and frighten the crows that are destroying the potatoes. “ When I had got about 10 chains across ‘ a grass paddock I saw a hare behind a tussock, as near to me as is the Senate table now. I was sorely tempted to fire. 1 do not know whether it was the devil who was tempting me or not - I had the gun loaded and would have liked to fire, but my Scottish caution saved me. I recognised that if I fired at the hare I should kill it and get branded as a vagabond. Who would like to remain in a country of that sort? Shortly after I got into the potato field the gamekeeper came across to me and said, “ Young man, what did you fire at?” I did not fire the gun at all in the grass paddock, but when I got to the potato paddock I fired at a sparrow, and the report, frightened away a crow. The gamekeeper then came across to me, and what would have been the result if I had fired at the hare? I should have been branded as a vagabond. When I remember that incident. I. do not look upon the Old Country in a political sense as a. guide to us in Australia. We are much in advance of it. If honorable senators want to know how I became such a Radical, in politics, there is my history. An act of Conservatism, of landlordism, in the: Old Country led mer to some extent to become, as I am happy to foe to-day-,, a member of the Labour party. Again, in 1894 I was elected to the Legislative Council of South Australia. The Kingston-Holder Government was in office, and one of the principal planks of its platform was adult suffrage for the House of Assembly. What a fight we had in both Houses ! Not a Conservative in either
House voted for the measure. Senator Gould’s speech on this motion recalled the speeches of the Conservatives in the Legislative Council on that occasion. They urged that if the franchise were granted to women the poor children would be neglected, the father’s dinner would not be ready when he came home, women would mix with drunken men at the poll, and awful disaster would take place because the husband would be found voting for one candidate and the wife for another. That has never happened in my case. I have never asked my wife whom she intended te vote for.
– Did she vote for the honorable senator?
– She had wisdom enough to do that. The Conservatives in both Houses of the State Parliament voted against the Bill, but we had just the desired number and won. I take this credit to myself, that had I not been returned at that election the women of the State would not have got the franchise then. What has happened since? The very party which cried down womanhood suffrage as a danger and as destructive to morals and’ everything else - I refer to the ladies - instead of spurning the vote, go to the poll. They hold conferences from time to time. They held a conference lately in Adelaide. It is nice to see these things taking place. I have never been present, of course, .because I am not invited. When a general election is pending the ladies invite even the servant girls to take tea with them, in the hope of securing their votes. Instead of proving disastrous, womanhood suffrage in South Australia seems to have had a different effect altogether. It has had a moral effect. Some of the men who were not as good as they ought to be have been kept out of Parliament. Men who were fond of drink, and had other sins as well, have been marked, and left out on the day of election. What has been good for us ought to be good for others. Surely, as Mr. Justice. Gordon said, when he was Attorney-General in the Kingston Government, a person should not be deprived of the franchise on the ground of sex. The Conservative element urged then that only women with property should have votes, but our leader, Sir John Gordon, said that if it were right for a man without property to have a vote, it was also right that a woman should. It has been found right in our case, and even in Victoria the
Conservative element has knuckled down. I am very proud of our victory. It ought to have considerable influence on Home politics if we express our sympathy with the women who are fighting a battle for their just rights, and state that our experience is that the grant of female suffrage has had ‘ only a beneficial effect. It is nonsense for any member of the Senate to say that that is interfering with a matter which does not concern us. In the light of our experience, we can cordially recommend that the franchise should be granted to women in the Old Country. I thank the Senate for the patient hearing I have received.
.- I cannot claim, like Senator W. Russell, to possess1 very great experience and a lengthy career in political life. No doubt I am one of those to whom the Deputy Leader of the Opposition alluded as being without experience. Although I have not the virtue of many years to my credit, still I wish to utter a few words in support of this important motion. In his criticism, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not dare to attack the principle of womanhood suffrage. On the contrary, he very carefully left that alone, and attempted, vainly I take it,, to pour ridicule on the fact that the Senate of the National Parliament of Australia intends to send, as I feel sure it does, a message to the great Mother Country on an important question like adult suffrage. I consider his remarks as somewhat of a reflection on this deliberative assembly. Surely if we happen to be a young nation of only 4,500,000 people, the opinion of this Senate on a public question must carry a good deal of weight with the Imperial authorities. Every honorable senator has heard the saying, “ a little child shall lead them.” So far as progressive legislation and advanced ideas are concerned, I do not see why we in Australia should not be able to put forward many propositions which would be worth following, even by a mighty nation like Great Britain.
We are part of the Empire, and I take it that any recommendation we may make will receive, not only full consideration in the Old Country, but also carry a good deal of weight. In his attempts to throw ridicule on the motion, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I repeat, did not dare to ridicule the principle.
– Why should he? We do not object to the principle.
– I think that in the past the objections to the principle came, to a very great extent, from those who sit on the other side.
– Certainly not; the honorable senator is absolutely wrong.
– In Tasmania, as in South Australia, the greatest opponents of womanhood suffrage have been the Conservatives.
– Who gave adult suffrage in Australia but the Federal Convention?
– The only opposition to womanhood suffrage in the Senate came from the side’ on which I am temporarily sitting.
– We know that prominent members of the party which Senator Walker adorns opposed womanhood suffrage very largely and consistently in the past.
– I have never opposed it, from start to finish.
– The honorable senator is a golden exception to prove the rule.
– The Federal Convention unanimously approved of womanhood suffrage.
– In Tasmania, the , members of the Legislative Council, although they opposed womanhood suffrage very bitterly, do not dare to say anything about it now. In the portion of Tasmania in which I reside the women were told that their votes were worth having. Gatherings were organized, to which ladies who considered themselves superior to the common people invited the wives of working men. They also gave them social evenings, in order to win their votes. I heard of one instance in which ladies took cauliflowers and honey to the wives of the workers, and told them that they owed too much to their husbands to allow the Labour party to be put into power, for if this eventuated there would be no work for them, as capital would leave the country. The persons who took round these cauliflowers evidently had a large number to spare. Probably they were cheap. I know of another instance in which a meeting was held, at which the women folk were provided with coffee and buns. I do not know whether they were bath-buns. To the credit of a good many of the women, they rose in a body and walked out of the building. They refused to be bribed by these social favours. I am pleased to be able to say that, despite all these attempts to win the women’s vote in Tasmania, the Labour party in that State captured six out of eight seats at the recent Federal elections. In Hobart the women evidenced a great deal more interest in politics than did the men. We must, further, remember that their brand of politics must be pure.
As the result of the advent of women into the political arena, politics have been purified to a large extent. At the recent elections some of the ladies of Hobart worked for the Labour candidates all day ; and I know of one lady who remained at the polling booth from early in the morning till 7 o’clock in the evening, with no interval for lunch. The adoption of women’s suffrage has brought into the political field a band of earnest workers who have exercised a noble influence on the politics of Australia. Senator Rae deserves every credit for having brought forward this motion. We know that a number of honorable senators opposite will oppose anything of a progressive character. In the past they have condemned every progressive step by bell, book, and candle. But I trust that every representative of labour in this Chamber will vote for the motion, in order that the people of Great Britain may see how this great democratic country of Australia is desirous of helping those who are struggling for political freedom.
– It seems to me that our friends opposite are barking up the wrong tree. There is not a single member of the Opposition in this Chamber who is opposed to adult suffrage. The Federal Convention, of which I had the honour to be a member, declared in the Constitution which it drafted that no person in Australia who then enjoyed a vote should ever be deprived of it. At that time South Australia had adopted adult suffrage, and, consequently, it followed that every State had to extend the franchise to women. Senator Ready talks about honorable senators upon this side of die Chamber as Conservatives. Need I remind him that in the Federal Convention there were forty-nine so-called Conservatives, and only one Labour representative, and yet that body adopted the principle of adult suffrage.
– There was no Labour representative.
– The only Labour representative was Mr. Trenwith.
– He was not a Labour representative.
– The Federal Convention adopted the principle of adult suffrage in our Commonwealth Constitution.
– Because it could not help itself. That was the basis upon which the Convention was called together.
– I was a supporter of female suffrage long before the Convention was held. Are honorable senators aware that even in the United Kingdom to-day adult male suffrage does not obtain ? [ repeat that members of the Opposition do not object to female suffrage; but they do object to the downright piece of impertinence which is contained in this motion, which affirms that a copy of it shall be cabled to the Prime Minister of Great Britain. How would we like the Imperial Parliament to send us a message, asking us why we refuse - to receive people into Australia unless they can pass a certain examination ?
– We merely propose to tell the Imperial authorities the result of our experience.
– It will be time enough to do that when we are asked to do it. 1 recognise that the influence of women is a good and God-fearing influence. It is nonsense for Senator Ready to suggest that honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber are opposed to female suffrage. The honorable senator was almost insulting in his remarks. If he wishes to talk to the electors, he is at liberty to do so; but I object to him declaring that those who sit with me in Opposition are opposed to what is at present the law of the land. How would we like the United States or Canada to tell us that if we desire immigration we ought to adhere to a freehold system of land tenure? We are invited to say that -
Because the reform has brought nothing but good, though disaster was freely prophesied, we respectfully urge that all nations enjoying representative government would be well advised in granting votes to women.
Ought the women in the harems of Turkey to be given votes ? Apparently Senator Ready has not thought of any place beyond Tasmania. To his mind that State is the hub of the universe. I always like to hear my old friend Senator W. Russell speak in this Chamber. But it was ridiculous for him to say that the whole of his political opinions had been changed merely because he was not permitted to shoot a hare. I recollect having a somewhat similar experience. My father had a farm in Midlothian, and I recollect shooting at some crows which settled in one of the fields. One day whilst I was shouldering my gun three black crows entered the field, and I inquired from the haymakers which one I ought to shoot. I was told that I ought to shoot the first one, and I did so. Consequently I was afterwards looked upon as a good shot when as a matter of fact I was a very bad one. But I never heard of a person having his whole political views changed simply because he was forbidden to shoot a hare. As a matter of fact, Senator W. Russell is a thorough Conservative, though he does not know it. I do beg of honorable senators to recollect that it is not becoming to the dignity of this Parliament to force its advice upon countries which have not asked for it.
– Do not let us assume a virtue which we have not.
– I am not prepared to recommend the Turkish Government to give the women in the harems a vote.
– Why not?
– Because they have no knowledge of anything outside the four walls of the place in which they live. What is sauce for the goose is equally sauce for the gander. How would we like our friends in the United States or in Canada to say to us, “ If you wish to acquire population cease advocating a leasehold system of land tenure. The very life blood of this country has been a. freehold tenure,” When honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber vote against the motion it will not be because they object to adult suffrage, but because they do not think we are called upon to offer advice which has not been asked. It is too much like an attempt on the part of a child to teach his grandmother how to suck eggs.
– This motion is not without a precedent. The only objection which has been urged to it by honorable senators opposite is that the Commonwealth Parliament has no right to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Senator Gould characterized the motion as a piece of impertinence. But I would ask him, and also Senator Walker, to recollect what occurred a few years ago when a somewhat similar proposal was before this Parliament. The cry was then raised that its opinion would be flouted. We were told that it would be an impertinence for the Commonwealth Parliament to gratuit ously offer its advice to the House of Commons. But we all recollect what followed. The advice which was given on that occasion was only a little ahead of its time. It related to a question which was of importance to the whole British race. It will be recollected that a certain course of action which had been taken in the interests of the South African mine-owners had been condoned by the British authorities. I refer to the permission which had been granted to hordes of Chinese to work in the Rand mines. This Federal Parliament, in its wisdom, sent a protest to the House of Commons against that action. We were then told that it was impertinence to do so. Senator Gould was a member of this august assemblage at that time. I also had the honour to be a member. Then, as to-night, those honorable senators who objected to the motion did not say that they were opposed to the principle; they said that they did not think that Chinese ought to be imported to take the place of white men in the South African mines ; but they disagreed with the principle of the Parliament of this young nation tendering advice to the mother of Parliaments. Was that action on our part considered impertinent by the British people? I do not think so. Only a little time after the advice was tendered, the resolution having been sent to England by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, those statesmen who were responsible for the importation of Chinese to South Africa were sent to the right about, and the policy with regard to the Chinese was entirely reversed. On that occasion, as I have shown, we took the step of tendering advice to the people of Great Britain. We may have been a little in advance of our time then. In this matter, also, we may be in advance of our time; but, nevertheless, we are justified in passing the motion ; and I have much pleasure in supporting it.
– It gives me much pleasure to have this opportunity of supporting the motion submitted by Senator Rae. I was very much surprised at the attitude assumed by Senator Gould and Senator Walker. Both of them are fervent Imperialists. They believe in the Empire above everything. I am not an Imperialist; but, while we remain a portion of the British Empire, it is quite permissible and justifiable that every portion of that Empire should take an interest in the whole of it. and especially in its good government. Having discovered a good thing in Australia - having found, from practical experience, how excellent women’s suffrage is - -seeing that, as some honorable senators have claimed, women’s suffrage has been the means of placing the Labour party in power - surely we should be failing in our duty if we did not carry the good tidings to the uttermost ends of the Empire. The only objection which the Opposition have to the motion is that they say we are interfering with a matter that does not concern us. I say, however, that it does concern us. The good government of the Empire concerns every citizen of the Empire. We in Australia, having found women’s suffrage to be of such advantage to the community from every point of view, are in duty bound to tell the people of. Great Britain our experience. I understand that Miss Pankhurst, who is one of the most. active advocates of women’s suffrage in Great Britain, cabled out to the Prime Minister, asking what had been the experience of Australia’ in this matter. That being the case, it is but right and proper that we should testify as to what has happened. That is all that we are doing. By means of this motion, we are simply telling the people of Great Britain what the result of female suffrage in Australia has been.
– I have just written Home, telling people that myself.
– The honorable senator is, no doubt, a most important individual. But he must remember that no individual, however great he may be, can hope to have equal influence with a House of the Legislature. In this case, .the Senate of Australia will be speaking, and telling the people of Great Britain how female suffrage has affected the well-being of the Commonwealth.
– Has not Sir George Reid told them that already?
- Sir George Reid is only another individual.
– He is our High Commissioner.
– But the Senate, I submit, is even greater than Sir George Reid. The Senate represents the people of Australia directly. Sir George Reid is the mere nominee of the Government of Australia, and cannot speak with the authority of those who have been chosen in their places in this Chamber to the electors of this country. I was very much amused - though there was a great deal of anger mixed with my amusement - when I read of the indignities which the women suffragists were subjected to in Great Britain. The facts brought home to my mind with tremendous force what barbarians our men are, and what selfish views they take of their position. To my mind, there ought to be no sex in citizenship. There should be no political difference between man and woman. Each has his or her own work to do, and each is essential to the well-being of the nation. In Scotland a thousand years ago there was a Parliament of the people. I do not mean that there was a Parliament such as we have now, but the people themselves assembled once a year, and discussed the affairs of their community. Every man in that assembly was accompanied by his wife, and the women had as much voice in the debates as the men had. When a question was put, the women voted with the men. So that women’s suffrage, in reality, is not new at all.
– Were there any women without husbands there?
– I do not remember reading that there were women without husbands, because in those good old days there were very few women without husbands, and there were very few bachelors. It is extraordinary how history repeats itself. I suppose that when honorable senators read some time ago of the ill-usage to which the women suffragists were exposed, they said to themselves, “ Surely this is something new under the sun, something which never happened before in the history of the human family.” But I find, from an article in the Contemporary Review, that about 2,000 years ago there was exactly the same trouble in ancient Rome. Honorable senators may find the passage which I am about to quote in volume 97 of the Contemporary Review. The article is called “The Roman Lady,” and the passage which I wish to read is this -
When the second Triumvirate were driven to every expedient to find money foi the war with Brutus and Cassius, they published an edict requiring fourteen hundred of the richest women to make a valuation of their property, and to furnish for the war such portion as the triumvirs should require from each. A body of the women concerned forced their way to the tribunal of the triumvirs in the Forum - a thing no man durst do in those days. Hortensia, daughter of the great Hortensius, a leader of the bar, Cicero’s rival, Verres’ counsel, was their spokesman. Appian gives us her speech.
This is what she said - “ As is befitting women of our rank addressing a petition to you, we had recourse to your female relatives. Having suffered unseemly treatment on the part of Fulvia, we have been compelled to visit the Forum. You have deprived us of our fathers, our sons, our husbands, and our brothers, whom you accuse of having wronged you. If you take away our property also, you reduce us to a condition unbecoming our birth. If we women have not voted you public enemies, have not burnt down your houses, or led an army against you, why do you visit upon us the same punishment as upon the guilty, whose offences we have not shared?
Here is the crux- of the matter - “ Why should we pay taxes when we have no part in the honours, the commands, the statecraft for which you contend ? ‘ Because this is a time of war,’ do you say? Let war with the Gauls or Parthians come, and we shall not be inferior to our mothers in zeal for the common safety ; but for civil wars may we never contribute.” When Hortensia had thus spoken, says Appian, the triumvirs were angry that women should dare to hold a public meeting when the men were silent. They ordered the lictors to drive them away from the tribunal, which they proceeded to do until cries were raised by the multitude outside, when the lictors desisted and the triumvirs said they would postpone till the next day the consideration of the matter.
That is history almost repeating itself. They did not beat the women directly in England recently, but they went very close to it.
– The police used their batons.
– I believe they did. The passage goes on - .
On the following day they reduced the number of women, from fourteen hundred to four hundred.
Apparently that deputation had some result. I hope that the Parliament of Great Britain will take the advice tendered to it by the Senate- of the Commonwealth, and remove the injustice under which a large number of women are undoubtedly suffering in Great Britain. With regard to our pious hope that “ all nations enjoying representative government would be well advised in granting the franchise to women,” I ask, “ What is there to object to in that?” If the women of Germany, in France, and in Russia had votes, does any one imagine that war would be as common as it is? Do honorable senators think for a moment that if the women of Europe were enfranchised equally with the men, the nations would rush at each other’s throats as they do to-day? If they believe in the era of peace honorable senators should advocate the extension of the franchise to women. That would be one of the surest means of sweeping war utterly off the face of the earth. The temperament of women Fs entirely against bloodshed. It is quite different from that of men, and I am sure that their influence when they have the power will be directed towards the promotion of peace. Senator Walker seems to be very much concerned about Turkey. It is the only European country he has mentioned. I do not know whether he has been there in his travels. Probably the honorable senator has some experience of those unique institutions which are to be found in Turkey. I know nothing whatever about them, except what I have heard.
– Nor do I.
– I could not understand the reason why the honorable senator should be so much concerned about Turkey.
– It was because honorable senators opposite spoke of all countries having representative government.
– I think -it would be a most excellent thing if the women of Turkey had votes. I am sure that if they had, the system to which the honorable senator has alluded would be very soon swept away. They would not tolerate a system under which one man may have 500 wives, and 500 men may have no wife at all. I am as sure as that I am standing here, that if the women of Turkey or of any other country in which similar institutions exist had a voice in the government such a system would be swept out of existence immediately.
– It is a degradation.
– It is a degradation of women. It is contrary to the laws of nature, against the laws of God, and the best laws of man, and it ought to be, and would be, stamped out if the women of Turkey or of any other country that suffers from evils of the kind had any political power at all. To come back for a moment to the principal argument used by honorable senators on my right against this motion, that it proposes an interference in a matter which does not concern us. Let me say again that the government of the Empire does concern us. We are a portion of the Empire. I am sure that no members of the Senate would be more strenuous in their opposition to anything which would tend towards the dismemberment of the Empire than would Senators Walker and Gould. If they desire that the Empire should continue they should be anxious that the very best kind of government possible should obtain throughout the Empire. I regard Australia as a sort of social laboratory where social* industrial, and political experiments are carried on for the benefit of humanity. Having found that some of our experiments have brought about excellent results, surely we should be failing in our duty if we did not communicate those results to our fellow-citizens throughout the Empire? If the citizens of Canada, for instance, discovered some new cereal which would be of great benefit to their feilow-citizens of the Empire in other parts of the world, should we not say that they were exceedingly selfish if they did hot communicate that discovery to us? Discoveries in social or political science are of greater importance than discoveries of any other kind, because upon them may depend the happiness and welfare of the human family. I am exceedingly glad that Senator Rae had the forethought to propose a motion of this kind. . I trust not only that ir will be carried here, but that it will have some influence with the people to whom, through the Prime, Minister of Great Britain, it is to be addressed.
– I have no desire to take up very much time in replying to the debate. It is unnecessary that I should do so, because there have been so few arguments advanced in opposition to the motion, and the excellent speeches that have been made by honorable senators who have supported it have effectually replied to the objections urged against it. Senator Gould raised a time-worn argument, which has very’ little validity in it, by comparing the age df Great Britain with the age of the Commonwealth. It is a false line of argument to suggest that the age of a country is the test of its qualification to give advice or to carry political proposals into effect.
– On that ground, Senator Gould’s favorite would be China.
– As the Vice-President of the Executive Council suggests, China is the country which, above all others, we should take as an example if there were any force in the argument which Senator Gould has advanced. If the honorable :senator wished to argue from analogy it would have been better to have suggested that the Commonwealth is the up-to-date motor car, setting the pace for the oldfashioned stage-coach* Senator Walker indorsed Senator Gould’s contention that it is an impertinence on our part to urge that Great Britain and other countries enjoying representative institutions would be well advised to act as we have done. I fail to see where the impertinence comes in. I know that in respect of many matters we have already set the pace for Great Britain. The old-age pensions system recently adopted in Great Britain is cast oh the lines of the system adopted in the Commonwealth. The fact that many years ago almost all the Colonies, as our States then were, passed legislation permitting the marriage of a man with his deceased wife’s sister ultimately forced the hand of Great Britain in the adoption of similar legislation. That is another instance in which political views held in Australia were far in advance of those held iri the Old Country. I might mention the Real Property Act as another important case in point.
– Advice may be conveyed in many different ways, and we know that representations were made from time to time to the British Government in regard to the anomalous position in which the British law placed people who, under our laws, had contracted marriages with their deceased wives’ sisters. Though under our legislation they were legally married, they found, when they got to the Old Country, that they were not regarded there as being legally married, and it was only_ after prolonged agitation that Great Britain removed this disability. The mere fact that other methods have been adopted to convey advice on other occasions does not prove that the method here proposed is wrong. I ask honorable senators opposite whether they opposed an expression of opinion by this Parliament in connexion with the unfortunate Dogger Bank incident during the Russo-Japanese war ? We know that expressions of Australian opinion were promptly cabled to the Old Country when Russian war vessels made an attack on British fishing vessels on the Dogger Bank.
– I do not think we advised Great Britain as to the proper course to take in that matter.
– As no two things are exactly alike, I do not pretend that in- that case precisely the same thing was done as is proposed in this motion. Have honorable senators forgotten that only twelve months ago this Parliament expressed an opinion in a somewhat similar way? I cannot see what objections can be urged to our expressing the opinion that other nations enjoying representative institutions would be well advised in copying our example in this respect. There is nothing in that which should raise the storm of protest which has come from the few honorable senators at present representing the Opposition. I do not wish to traverse the ground followed by other speakers on the motion, but I should like to say that, just as we had occasion only this afternoon to debate at some length the inadequate way in which the views of Parliament are expressed through the press, and as many have had to complain of the way in which their utterances have been distorted and misrepresented, I am perfectly certain that the cable messages we have received as to the doings of the women suffragists in Great Britain have very rarely placed the facts before the people of this country. Later advices received by mail, giving fuller accounts, have placed the position of the women in that movement in a far better light than we might have been led to believe from the cable messages, and have shown what Senator Stewart has rightly described as the sheer barbarism exhibited by the men of Great Britain opposed to that movement. I believe that a majority of honorable senators will support the motion, but let me say, in conclusion, that my object in moving it is not in any way to bring myself under the limelight. Years ago, when this movement was not popular in my own State, I was one of those who took a foremost part in advocating it. I am proud to have been in a position at that time, as president ofthe largest union in Australia, to secure an enormous number of promises of support by moving that womanhood suffrage should be a plank of the Labour platform. By carrying it as a plank of the Labour platform, we were able to bring sufficient pressure to bear upon the State Government of the day to make them promise to make it the law of the State. Years before that, when a resident of New Zealand, I advocated the principle there before it became the law of that country. So it will be admitted that I am only consistent in the action I have taken in submitting this motion. I do so, because, while agreeing with Senator Henderson that probably Mr. Asquith will not be directly influenced by my opinion, or the opinion of the Senate, I hope and believe that the people of Great Britain will be influenced to some extent.
It may be a factor in increasing the force of public opinion making for the success of this righteous movement. I believe that a clear expression of the National Parliament of this young Democracy in favour of this reform, which places men in a higher and more dignified position, and gives women a nobler mission than they have had in the past, will have its influence, and that other countries enjoying representative institutions will not be slow to follow if Great Britain should take the advice which we, in all good faith, are offering her in the terms of this motion.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I ask, sir, that the motion be put in parts.
Question - That paragraph1 be agreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That paragraph 2, “That a copy of the foregoing resolution be cabled to the British Prime Minister,” be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper -
Report of the Royal Commission on Insurance - Part II., Fire Insurance.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Hill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Findley) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101117_senate_4_59/>.