4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MCGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper : -
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 13 of 1911, Fisheries.
– I have received from Senator Chataway an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “the circulation of treasonable literature in regard to compulsory training.”
Four honorable senators having risen in theirplaces.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. to-morrow.
I am not approaching this matter with any desire to embarrass the Government, but certain things are occurring throughout the country regarding which it will probably be to the advantage of the community as a whole that the Government should take a very strong stand and have the support of not only their own followers, but also of the Opposition. Some time ago reports appeared in the newspapers to the effect that a certain manifesto had been issued by the international Socialists.
– Would you not include literature circulated by the Quakers?
– If my honorable friend will draw my attention to such literature, I am quite prepared to deal with it too, though I do not know of any at the present moment. I am not dealing so much with the leaflet supposed to have been issued and distributed amongst the cadets in Sydney as with the fact that a number of persons and some newspapers throughout Australia appear to think that they can publish with impunity appeals to cadets to break the law. First of all, let me quote a few of the phrases in the circular which is addressed to the conscript boys of Australia by the international Socialists.
It is. addressed to the lads, not to the electors of Australia, and amongst the words used are the following : -
You may think now, as lads, that it is amusing to wear a uniform, and to march along gaily to the sound of military music; but how will you feel when you stand, one of a long row of trained murderers, with your rifle in your hand, awaiting the order to shoot down your relatives and your comrades?
Australian lads, you are lovers of liberty, and you resent being driven by threats and insults. Do you realize that to make a” disciplined soldier you must have no will of your own, no conscience, no self respect? You must be just an automaton, ruled by the order of a superior officer.
Now is the time to protest against the folly of this compulsory training in organized muroer. Now is the time to make up your minds never to take the military oath -
The words “never to take the military oath “ are printed in capitals to draw attention to them - which deprives yop of will and conscience. Many of you see dimly the folly and the wrong of it ; and you very rigidly -
The word “rigidly” is, I think, a misprint for “ rightly “ - scoff at the officers and jeer at the drill, which is intended to make you marching and fighting dummies.
That is quite sufficient to show that the appeal is not made to the electors to alter the law, but to a certain number of youths to break the law. It is desirable that we should put our foot down at once, and stop this sort of business. I believe that a declaration from the Government that they intend to deal with the offence if repeated would probably have the desired effect. It has been a question as to whether we have any power to act. According to the regulations in the Red Book of 1904, which, I understand, have not been repealed - 27. (a) When not on active service every person, subject to military law, who commits any of the following offences, that is to say : -
There is a number of offences with the penalties set forth, namely, imprisonment for three months or thereabouts’.
– That regulation applies to persons enrolled in the Defence Force.
– No ; it reads, “ Every person subject to military law.” The point T wish to put before the Senate is that, under our Act, every person under the age of sixty years and above the age of eighteen years is liable to serve. I take it that these persons, when they are not on active service, are still subject to a certain military law. The regulation dealing with these persons reads - (19.) Persuades, endeavours to persuade, procures, or attempts to procure, any person subject to military law to desert from His Majesty’s service -
The penalty is, I think, about three months’ imprisonment. The second volume of the Revised English Statutes contains a special Act which deals with this matter, and which, I believe, is in force in Australia. It contains, amongst other things, this provision - any person who shall maliciously and advisedly endeavour to seduce any person or persons serving in His Majesty’s forces by sea or land from his or their duty and allegiance to His Majesty, or to incite or stir up any such person or persons to commit any act of mutiny . . . shall on being legally convicted of such offence, be adjudged guilty of felony.
The offenders are liable to a penalty. I have also been advised by a number of legal gentlemen whom I have consulted that probably there is a remedy at common law. I do not propose to suggest to the Government what particular remedy they should adopt.” I have brought the matter under their attention in order to elicit a statement. I ask them to take some steps to prevent the circulation of what is clearly treasonable literature against the law of the land. I am not referring here merely to leaflets such as those issued in Sydney and handed to cadets. These statements are being published in newspapers. I have here a copy of a newspaper containing, so far as I know, the complete manifesto of the international Socialists. It is not published in satirical terms, and no contradiction of it is to be found in the newspaper. It is The Pioneer, a Labour journal, published weekly in Mackay. I find, that it is registered at the General Post Office, Brisbane, for transmission by post as a newspaper, and was established in 1905. I am quoting from the issue, vol. 6, No. 51, for Saturday, September, 191 1. 1 notice that the price is 3d., which is perhaps rather high. If a man sends a 5s. postal-note to Tattersalls sweeps, the Post Office authorities will deal with the recipient of the letter if they can trace him. Here we have a newspaper, a copy of each issue of which must under the law be sent -to the Postal Department, and it is permitted to publish and circulate an appeal not to the electors to alter the law, but to persons subject to the law,, to revolt and refuse to obey it.
– The Post and Telegraph Department aids in distributing it.
– That is the point I am making here. The question of Defence is not a party question, and the Government of to-day or of to-morrow will have to enforce the law in this matter. Sooner or later they will have to put a stop to these appeals to persons to violate the law. They cannot allow this kind of thing to go on indefinitely, and if the present Government will not put an end to it, some other Government must do so. I do not invite the Government to attack a particular individual who is trying to secure some notoriety, and to make a martyr of him before the country. We do not make martyrs of any one when we take action to deal with people who are connected with Tattersalls sweeps by refusing to deliver letters to them, and in the same way we shall not make a martyr of any one if the Post and Telegraph Department refuses to allow literature of this sort to be circulated throughout the country, largely at the Commonwealth expense, with intent to defeat a Commonwealth law. I have no wish to delay the business of the Senate, but I regard this matter as one of very serious import to the country. If the Government have not at present any power to deal with the people who publish and circulate this kind of seditious matter, I invite them to introduce a short measure which will give them the necessary power ; and I venture to say that it will receive no opposition from either side in the Senate. It must be made quite clear, not only that the law is binding on those who are actually engaged in active military service, but that no one is at liberty to preach sedition and mutiny to those who are being trained in the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator would not support a law to suppress articles of the kind to which he has referred ?
– I would suppress any persons who endeavour to preach absolute rebellion. I have no objection to any person urging that the law should be altered. Let Senator Gardiner make no mistake as to what I mean. If he is against compulsory training,, let him say so from a public platform, or through the press ; hut I say that, so long as it is the law of the land, it is absolute treason and mutiny to appeal to those who are actually being trained under the law to break away and refuse, .as this newspaper says, “to take the military oath.”
– Does the honorable senator not think that it is possible to make too much of the whole matter ?
– That is a matter of opinion. I honestly admit that I have given the question consideration for a week or ten days. I have, been thinking it over, and have heard arguments for and against the course I am adopting. I believe that the best way to put an end to this kind’ of thing is to squelch it in the bud. I cannot say that I approve the theory that the best way to prevent the spread of such opinions is to ignore them. I. can say from my political experience that a’ great number of people thought that they could ignore the Labour party, and by doing so they have allowed it to grow until it holds the very honorable position which it occupies now in the government of this country. I say that it is better that the Government should make their intention perfectly clear, and should squelch this sort of thing in the early stages rather than permit it to grow.
– Does the honorable senator think that the articles to which he refers are ‘ calculated to influence public opinion ?
– Another article of the same kind appeared in the Brisbane
Worker. Those who are responsible for the publication of the Pioneer do not, and never have, agreed with me, nor I with them, but I do not mind giving them a free advertisement by saying that their newspaper is read by hundreds of people who would not get the leaflets, which are often distributed in the way in which leaflets on this subject have been distributed in Sydney.
– Where is this newspaper published?
– In the important city of Mackay, in Queensland. I ask the Government to say that this kind of thing will be suppressed. If they have no power under the law now to suppress it, . I hope they will pass a law to enable them to do so. It must be obvious to honorable senators that there is something ‘ rotten in. the state of. Denmark when people can preach absolute, sedition, and urge mere boys,. who are not electors, to resist the. law. We have already. had a large number of prosecutions of boys in connexion with our . system of universal training. A case of the kind occurred in Brisbane the other day in which a young fellow was fined £1, with an alternative of fourteen days’ im’prisonment, for misbehaving himself. Another case occurred at Rockhampton, in which a similar penalty was imposed, but the magistrate made the statement that the lad charged with the offence was liable to three months’ imprisonment. What can we believe? We must assume that this teaching is having effect, and it should be remembered that those who * are being’ penalized are not the blatherskites who publish this seditious matter, but the young fellows who are being trained for the defence of the Commonwealth. These men are preaching doctrines which are getting young men into trouble - doctrines which are aimed directly against the law established by the Commonwealth.I do not want to make martyrs of those men, but I do hope that something will be done to make it quite clear that this kind of thing must be stopped straight away. If a man . does not like the system of compulsory training, let him approach the electors on the subject, but do not - let him preach mutiny in the ranks of the cadets.. Otherwise, not the men who preachthese doctrines will be landed in trouble, but .the cadets themselves, and that really means that the parents will be put totrouble and expense.
– I do think,, with all respect to Senator Chataway, that’ he has not been well advised in bringing; forward this motion. I accept his assurance that he has no desire to make defence, a party question. But, while accepting that assurance, I say that, in my opinion, he has been extremely ill-advised in givingto the leaflets to which he has referred a., prominence and importance that I am sure nobody outside Parliament, and very fewinside, would think of. giving them. There are many people in Australia who have’ never heard of these leaflets before, but who will hear of. them now by reason of” this motion for the adjournment of the Senate. We have to remember that the compulsory training law affects a very largenumber of the youth of this country.. Nearly 150,000 youths registered under thelaw, without a solitary prosecution. . That, number exceeded the estimate. of the Department - based -on returns furnished bythe statistical bureau - a fact which should* bring home to all. of. us that. there is art overwhelming mass of public opinion behind the law. It should also assure us how freely, ungrudgingly, and splendidly, the people, and especially the youths, of Australia have responded to the obligations imposed by Parliament. It is obvious, however, that, no matter what law is passed, a minority will always be opposed to it. In this case there is a minority - undoubtedly a small one - who are opposed to compulsory training. It is a well-known fact that all minorities who hold strong opinions are inclined to be vehement in the expression of them. The smaller the minority, the noisier it is often disposed to be, in order to direct attention to its particular set of opinions. The more hopeless their case, the more extreme are the measures such people take to attract attention to themselves. I have dealt with the registration. The fact that I mentioned related to what occurred some months back. Since then the law has been put in force. While it may be said that many of the lads registered not knowing all the obligations that they would be called upon to take upon themselves, it is also a fact that since the law has been put into operation - that is, since the 1st July - singularly few prosecutions were necessary in order to keep the youths up to the duties imposed by law. To-day, nearly 90,000 cadets are registered. They are called upon to sacrifice a certain amount of time, and to undergo certain obligations which were never imposed upon them before. When we remember the love of Australian youths for outdoor sports, this fact bears remarkable testimony to the way in which the Act has been cordially indorsed by the people. We have no reason whatever to believe that the puny efforts which have been made to defeat the law are having the slightest effect. These leaflets were distributed months ago. But I say - and say advisedly - that they have had no more effect upon the carrying out of the law than the proverbial fly has on a wheel.
– I spoke about a newspaper.
– The Government are quite prepared, if circumstances show it to be necessary and advisable, to take action to prevent the law being thwarted, and. also to deal with those who incite to disobedience. We are quite prepared to do that. As regards the use of the Post Office for the circulation of literature of this character, it is my intention to bring the subject under the notice of the Post- master-General and to askhim to see that the Post Office is not. used for such a purpose. With regard’ to Senator Chataway’s other proposition, that we should prosecute these people, I say that if circumstances show such a course to be necessary this Government will not hesitate to take it. But. since this question has been raised, I ask honorable senators to put to themselves the question - would it have been wise for us to take such action ? We know that this is not a new question in the history of the British people. History shows us that the British race have been remarkable for the amount of personal liberty that their Government has allowed, especially to those who were in a minority in respect to their opinions. It has been the practice of the British Government, as it has been the practice of Australian Governments, to give considerable latitude to those who were in a hopeless minority, and who were struggling to put their opinions before the people. I venture to say that in this very city, on any Sunday afternoon, you can go down to the Yarra Bank and hear doctrines preached by one or two individuals that are wholly subversive of the laws of State and Commonwealth. Yet those doctrines are there preached in the hearing of policemen. I ask honorable senators who know that that kind of thing has been going on for twenty years - has it had any effect? Has it incited the people of this State to be law-breakers or to defy the law ? We know that it has had no more effect upon public opinion than water has on a duck’s back. But if you were to arrest any of those men the mere fact of the arrest would at once appeal to the sympathies of many people who would pay no heed to the doctrines preached. Prosecution would make martyrs of them and would give them a case where to-day they have none. One of the grandest features of British government, I am proud to say, is that itcan afford, and has afforded, to treat that kind of thing with contemptuous indifference. The very thing that has killed such incitations to break the law has been that very contemptuous indifference. I have said that we are faced with a similar situation in regard to almost every law that imposes obligations upon the people. There are other people than the International Socialists who have broken the law in this respect. Only this week in Queensland, the Rev. Mr. Garland, dealing with the regulation which calls upon the cadets to go into camp at Eastertime, said that if an attempt were made toput the regulation into force -if the Government did not withdrawit - he and others would feel that it wastheir duty to ask the cadets not to go into camp and the parents not to permit them to do so.
– When people do that kind of thing they ought to be prosecuted.
– That gentleman would be greatly astonished if he were told that he was a law-breaker, and that he was guilty of treason. Does Senator Chataway suggest that the Government should at once rush in and prosecute him ?
– No. But when he does what he threatens to do the Government should prosecute him.
– As a matter of fact the reverend gentleman was barking up the wrong tree, because there is no such regulation in existence. But I wish now to give honorable senators an illustration of what happens elsewhere. Quite recently titled legislators in Great Britain have declared at public meetings that if the British Parliament carries a measure conferring Home Rule upon Ireland, they will advise the people of the north of Ireland to resist it by force of arms. Did the British Government arrest these gentlemen for treason ?
– Wait till they do what they threaten.
– I would point out to Senator Chataway that the persons whom he condemns have not yet done anything. They have merely talked and written just as have the titled individuals to whom I refer. The worst thing the British Government could do would be to call upon these individuals to face a charge of treason. In many cases persons do these things in the hope that ihe Government will take action, and in my judgment it would have been wiser for Senator Chataway, and those associated with him in this motion, to have treated the authors of the pernicious literature to which reference has been made with contemptuous indifference. We can afford to treat them in that way, because their statements have not the slightest effect upon the success of our defence scheme. I would also point out that the prosecutions which Senator Chataway cited were not instituted for breaches of the law as the result of this class of literature, because, in the case at Rockhampton which was mentioned by him, the lad had complied with the law by enrolment. But his conduct on the parade ground was bad.
– He was guilty ‘ of jeering at his officer.
– The worst thing: which the Government could do at the present juncture would be to make martyrs of these persons. Nothing would please the originators of the leaflet to which Senator Chataway referred, more than would any action on our part which would place themon the pedestal of martyrdom. They are not worth it. At the same time, if circumstances show that action is necessary toenforce the law, we shall not hesitate totake it. The Government certainly cannot be accused of having exhibited any lack” of courage. They have demonstrated that in connexion with this very law.’ Past Governments have merely talked about it, but the present Government put it intoforce. We are prepared to take whatever action may be necessary to make it a success. I exceedingly regret that Senator Chataway has given such undue prominence to the authors of this pernicious literature by directing attention to it from his place in this Chamber. In my opinion, he would have been better advised had he not done so.
– - The speech of the Minister of Defence affords ample justification for the action of Senator Chataway in bringing forward this motion. The Minister prefaced his remarks by a declaration which pleased everybody - a declaration which will be gratefully received by the entire community. But unfortunately he marred that portion of his speech by proceeding to draw parallels from history, which were tantamount to offering encouragement to those offenders, whose conduct is the subject of complaint, to repeat their offence.
– By pointing out how, time and again, certain persons of distinction, upon equally important questions, had incited the people to break the law, and by emphasizing that no notice had been taken of their action. In such circumstances, how can we understand the real attitude taken up by the Government? I wish to direct the Minister’s attention to sub-section 3 cf section 75 of our Defence Act, which reads -
Any person who counsels or aids any person who has enlisted or who is liable to enlist in any part of the Defence Force not to perform any duty he is required by this Act to perform, shall be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for any period not exceeding six months.
Either that section of the Act must become a dead letter, or any repetition of treasonable conduct must be punished. Youths have been fined for insubordination, and magistrates have already warned them that any repetition of the offence will be severely punished. The Minister’s declaration, that any person may incite the youth of the country to insubordination without being liable to the penalty prescribed by the law for such conduct, may be destructive of all discipline in our Defence Force. What will be the effect of the Minister’s speech? The conclusion which will be drawn from it is that, in the future, the authors of treasonable literature will be placed upon the same level as the orators on the Yarra Bank, and will escape the consequences of their treasonable conduct. The Minister went even further, and hinted that we may well condone such conduct, because illustrious and titled persons in Great Britain have made worse declarations in regard to Home Rule for Ireland. He was most unfortunate in his reference to Home Rule, seeing that the measure which will endow Ireland with the powers of selfgovernment is not yet Imperial law. But the acts which have been committed by the persons to whom Senator Chataway has directed attention, constitute a breach of the provisions of our Defence Act, which is the law of the land. When ; Home Rule becomes Imperial law, it will be the duty of the Imperial authorities to see that effect is given to it. That is the difference between the two cases. The Defence Act is the law of the land, and an incitement to break that law is being published by some persons. Because the offence is the first or the second one, because it comes from insignificant persons, that is no reason why the Minister should proceed, if not to wink at it, to palliate it, by a speech which, in parts, was dangerously weak. As the question of Home Rule for Ireland has been introduced, I will give an anecdote from history. At one time the granting of Home Rule was considered very near. Mr. Davitt asked Mr. Parnell what he was going to do with the land question. Mr. Parnell answered, “ As soon as I get Home Rule, Mr. Davitt, the first thing I shall do for you if you go on with your settlement of the land question will be to clap you in gaol.” But they were good friends all the time. Neither faced the issue because it had not arisen, nor did it arise in their time. But the issue is before us now with regard to this offence. I take it that the Senate will be generous enough to take what is right and proper from the Minister’s speech, to dismiss from their minds that which, with all respect, I submit is improper, and demand that this kind of incitement shall not be allowed to continue.
– Unfortunately I was unable to be present when this matter was introduced. But the remarks of Senator St. Ledger would seem to indicate that the Defence Act has been violated as the result of this alleged incitement to rebellious conduct.
– I did not say so.
– The incitement itself is a violation of the law.
– While I am a strong advocate of compulsory military training and feel very much inclined to rebel, because it is restricted so much that my children are not able to be trained, living, as they do, at some distance from a railway, yet I think that if the system does not meet with the approval of the vast majority of the public, it must inevitably break down. We are living under a system of democratic government, in which the will of the majority must ultimately prevail.
– This is a question for the electors to consider, not for the boys.
– I am not talking about the boys, but about the system, as I am entitled to do. If it is to break down through the refusal of any considerable number of youths to be enrolled that can only be done by a very general approval on the part of their elders. No body of youths can very long defy the opinions of their parents and guardians. Consequently, so long as the vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth believe in a system of compulsory enrolment and training I think it will go on all right. If, from any cause whatever, public opinion is altered, then, however much some of us may regret it, we shall have to submit to the will of the majority. I contend that in a democratic community no system is worth its salt unless it can stand criticism.
– It is not a criticism of the system which is complained of.
– It is of the nature of criticism.
– No, it is an appeal to the boys.
– If it is denunciation, if it is incitement, it must be based on something. I have not seen the leaflet which has been circulated, but I have read and heard general statements of the kind for some months. In fact, ever since a proposalon the subject was made, a section of persons - some in Sydney, I know - have strongly denounced it as the military conscription system in force in Europe, and denounced it, too, in the most violent and unmeasured language ; and from time to time they have adduced what passed duty as argument backing up the line they took. If they are appealing to youths of from fourteen to seventeen years of age, they have to bring forward reasons why it will be detrimental to their interests and those of the community for the Commonwealth to follow that course. It really borders very closely on a criticism of the newlyenacted system. We should allow the widest latitude in the criticism of any great measure before we proceed to take action which would brand persons as criminals. I share to some extent the view expressed by Senator Pearce, that there are some persons concerned in this matter who are on the look out for advertisement. There are some who would only rejoice if they were called to wear the crown of martyrdom. It would be playing into their hands, I have no doubt, if any action were taken at this stage. At the same time, I think that the Minister rather bitterly denounced some of these men in saying that they were unworthy of regard in any respect, and should be treated with contemptuous in difference. I do not know the authors of the leaflet or pamphlet complained of, but I have heard some very good men denounce compulsory training who I believe were led, by false deductions from the military system of Europe, to believe that our present system approximates to it, and would probably bring about similar evils. I think thatthey were arguing illogically and making wrong deductions from the facts they brought forward.
– My statement related, not to those who think that it is not a wiseand proper system, but to those who incite boys to commit a breach of the law. We respect those who differ as to the wisdom of the system.
– I misunderstood the hon orable senator. Honorable senators must recollect that an incitement to rebel is not generally taken notice of until it produces some solid evil:
-Is not a breach of the law an evil ?
– Those who feel strongly on; any matter frequently transgressthe limits of thelaw in regard to incitement. If notice were taken of every case of that kind honorable senators on the other side, or their friends, would not be altogether free. There would be innumerable prosecutions if notice were taken of every utterance which is not strictly conformable to the law. Every one must ultimately be his own judge.
– I think that you are speaking personally.
– No. I defy any person I have known to say that he has never broken a law. I defy Senator Millen to say so.
– I can say it readily, without turning a hair.
– There is a number of things which the honorable senator can say without turning a hair-
– You challenged him, and received an answer.
– I do not believe the honorable senator.
– You must accept his statement
– I do not think that par liamentary usage requires me to believe the statement, though, of course, I have to accept it. If a criminal proceeding were instituted against every person who uttered words which were not strictly in accordance with the law - that is, in regard to inciting or suggesting resistance to the law - every second man in the Commonwealth would be prosecuted, and the other half ought to be, Those who prate so much about the observance of law and order do so only when it is the other fellow who is transgressing the law, and every mother’s son of them is only too ready to break the law and denounce it when it suits him to do so. We hear that the Unionist party in Great Britain and in the North of Ireland are inciting people to armed resistance to Home Rule for Ireland. It has been stated that in Ulster the people are piling up arms and ammunition ready for the emergency when Home Rule is enacted. Senator St. Ledger was only quibbling when he said that there was no analogy between the action of those opposed to Home Rule for Ireland and that of the persons of whom Senator Chataway has complained, on the ground that Home Rule for Ireland has not yet been enacted. The statements which have been publishedconcerning those who are opposed to Home Rule for Ireland may, of course, only be the usual cable romances.
– Manyofthem are romances.
– Just so. We know that the newspapers that support honorable members opposite are noted for their want of veracity. If it were not for that, they would have no influence in securing the election of a single member of Parliament. While I am glad to have Senator St. Ledger’s concurrence in these views, I say that, if we are to take any notice at all of the cables published in the newspapers, we must believe that a considerable section of His Majesty’s subjects are preparing for armed resistance in anticipation of an alteration of the law.
– We are not responsible for that, but for the laws we have passed.
– I am aware of that; but I am referring to Senator St. Ledger’s argument that the Ulster case is not an analogous one, because Home Rule for Ireland has not yet been enacted. I shall not pursue that matter further, because the honorable senator’s arguments are usually farfetched and elusive.
– It was the Minister who raised that argument, and I merely replied to it.
– I presume that I have a right to reply to the honorable senator’s remarks. In my opinion, it would be most inadvisable, at this stage, to take any such action as has been suggested in this matter. It should, for the present, I think, be treated with indifference. I may say, however, if it be not transgressing the limits of the question before the Senate, that there are matters in connexion with the Act which will require very serious attention before long. One of these will be the attitude
– Order !
– Am I out of order in alluding to the Defence Act ? With all due respect to you, sir, I think that, until I have transgressed, I should not be called to order.
– Order ! The terms of the question are these : “ The circulation of treasonable literature in regard to compulsory training.”
– Is it not very awkward to have to observe the law?
– I have no doubt that Senator Millen feels that it is, but with his great abilities he is usually able to get round it. In regard to these alleged treasonable utterances, I point out that there has been advice given to cadets, and it appears to have influenced a few in some districts to refuse to drill with non-unionists. J do not know whether any steps are con templated to deal with that matter; but it is one which may assume very considerable proportions in the future. There is another matter which may well come under this heading, if we are to deal with all these questions ; we may have to decide what should happen if unionists in the Cadet Forces were to be called upon to shoot down strikers who were in revolt. All these questions may have to be dealt with in the near future, and I think honorable senators opposite would do better to wait until important questions of this kind arise, instead of trying to make a little political capital out of such things as have been referred to in this debate.
– It is not fair to say that, as no effort of the kind was made.
., - With some honorable senators who have already spoken, I was inclined to doubt the wisdom of Senator Chataway, at this juncture, moving such a motion, and drawing attention to the circumstances which have been referred to; but I think that events have justified the honorable senator, and notably the double-barrelled declaration from the Minister of Defence - firstly, that, so far as the Government are concerned, ‘ they are prepared to take prompt and effective action in the event of these inducements resulting in an actual breach of the provisions of the Defence Act on the part of cadets ; and, secondly, that the Minister intends to confer with his colleague, the ‘ Postmaster-General, with a view to either preventing altogether or regulating the passage through the post of newspapers containing incitements of this character. I infer from the latter declaration that, either the gravity of the particular article which was read by Senator Chataway in submitting his motion has commended itself to the Minister’s serious consideration, or that, prior to this motion being submitted, ‘ the honorable senator was cognisant of the publication of that or similar articles throughout the Commonwealth. In either case, his statement in the Senate to-day will amount to a warning to all who are,’ or have been, instrumental in circulating amongst the reading public such literature’ as that to which we have been treated today, that for the future they will have to be careful, not of their criticism, I would remind Senator Rae, of the policy of the Defence Act, but of the advice they give to the public to disobey that Act, if they wish to preserve the privileges the Commonwealth Government give for , the transmission of their publications through the post. They will also have to look very carefully to their utterances in that regard if they wish to evade the consequences of the obligations which would be cast upon the Government to take action against them as inciting to breaches of a most important public duty imposed by the Defence Act. Some criticism was offered on the ground that Senator Chataway based his motion upon a statement which appeared in a newspaper published at Macleay. I venture to say that it matters not how obscure may be the centre from which a newspaper is issued-
– Mackay is not an -obscure centre.
– I am not saying that it is, but that no matter how obscure may be the centre from which advice of that kind comes, through the medium of a newspaper, its obscurity should not be an excuse for its publication. If obscurity of origin is to be regarded as an excuse in one case, why not in all? To adopt such a theory would be to let a trickle grow into a stream, and the stream grow into a flood which later on could not be dammed. . If I understand the argument of some honorable senators correctly, it is then and then only that we should proceed to take action, but it would then be too late to take action. The Government should deal with a matter of this kind at its inception, in the way indicated by the Minister of Defence. That is why I think Senator Chataway was justified in directing attention to the question. Let us suppose, for instance, that some newspaper, published from any centre of the Commonwealth, large or small, were _ to incite traders to. evade the obligations imposed upon them by the Customs Tariff Act in importing goods, would it be any excuse to say that that incitement was- given only through the medium of a newspaper with a small circulation published in a remote or obscure centre of the Commonwealth? If, again, a newspaper were to preach the doctrine that traders should flagrantly disregard the provisions of the Commerce Act, and pass off adulterated goods upon the people, would it be any excuse to- point to the obscurity of the source of such a doctrine? I think not. Every member of this: Legislature would be justified in taking action, no matter from what political, party side, if it could be said to be from a political party side, such doctrines were preached. If the debate, has no. other effect than that all concerned in the publication of newspapers, leaflets, or other means .of distributing information, criticism, or advice, are brought to realize that the Defence Act is the established policy of this country, and that while they may criticise it as much as they please, and in season and out of season may urge the electors to repeal or modify that policy, if they go beyond that, and preach that the provisions of the Act must be violated, and that objection to it must be exemplified by sedition and mutiny, they bring themselves within the pale of the law, the motion will have been amply justified. With regard to the Minister’s expressed intention to consult his colleague the Postmaster-General, 1 should like to say that, after a hurried reference to the Post and Telegraph Act, I do not see that there is any provision in that Act that would enable the Postmaster-General to take summary action in such a case as this. There is provision in the Act to enable him to prevent the transmission through the post of blasphemous, obscene, or indecent matter. He has also the power, which has been freely exercised, and very often mischievously exercised perhaps, to prohibit the transmission of postal matter in relation to consultations; also postal matter in connexion with bookmakers, where, I believe, it has never been exercised.; and in relation to others who live upon racing, where also, I believe, it has never been exercised. But so far as seditious matter is concerned, from a hurried glance at the Act I have been unable to discover any provision dealing with it. Senator Chataway has expressed a wish which I echo, that, if this be so, before the session closes the Government will see fit to introduce a short amending Bill to remedy that defect. Such a measure would, I believe, receive the unanimous approval of the Senate.
– Before we corie to a vote I should like to say a word or two on this motion. It is not long since I returned to Australia, but I have heard this matter commented upon time after time. It is public talk that a certain class of people are inciting the youths of the Commonwealth to rebellion.
– What a bad lot the. people of Queensland must be.
– What about Victoria ?
– We have never seen the article referred to in Victoria.
– I can assure honorable senators that I have been shown the article in Victoria, and by people outside Parliament. I am sure that Senator Chataway does not object to criticism any more than does any other member of the Senate. No one would object to these newspapers criticising our military policy, and trying to secure the return of members to Parliament who would be willing to repeal the law. What Senator Chataway has brought under the notice of the Government is the fact that these newspapers have urged defiance to the law. It is the will of the country that the Defence Act should be enforced.
– So it will.
– I hope it will, because I believe in it as firmly as does any honorable senator sitting behind the Government. I remind honorable senators that what is objected to is that our youths should be incited to rebel against the law, and to treat their officers with contempt. That sort of thing should not be allowed. Certain people may consider that the law is wrong, but they have no right to advise others to break it. Boys from sixteen to eighteen years of age are unable to form a wise judgment, and it is wrong that they should be urged to do things which bring themselves and their parents into trouble. This matter should be looked at from that point of view, and I hope the Minister will take action in the way he has indicated. It is not right to induce boys to believe that they may treat their officers with disrespect, and that they will not be punished if they do so.
– Has not the law been enforced against those who have broken it?
– In certain cases it has; but the punishment has fallen, not upon those who have given this advice to the cadets, and who have circulated these leaflets, but upon the youths who have been so advised. We do not want our youths to break the law first and be punished for it afterwards. We want them to uphold the law. We want to bring up our youths with the idea that the law cannot be broken with impunity. To do that we should “ get at” the individuals who incite to law-breaking. That is the whole gist of my colleague’s action. His argument was, that instead of “ getting at “ the boys and punishing them, we should strike at the source of the trouble, the individuals who incite to breaches of the law, and who at present escape scot free. I hope that the Minister, in conformity with his statement in the earlier part of his speech, will see that the law is carried out. He is there to uphold the law. If the electors of the Commonwealth choose to say that the law shall not be continued on the statute-book, let it be wiped out ; but as long as it is the law of the land, let it be applied.
.- At first I thought that Senator Chataway had brought this subject before the Senate quite unnecessarily. But I now see that if the debate serves no other purpose than to let the public know what kind of petty tyrants would govern this country if persons like Senator St. Ledger, Senator Keating, Senator Chataway, and Senator Sayers were in control of the government-
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in referring to other honorable senators as “ petty tyrants”?
– I do not think that Senator Gardiner said anything that was out of order. I understood him to say that the public could understand from what had taken place what “ petty tyrants” would do if they had the power.
– I have no desire to say anything that is offensive to honorable senators opposite.
– If the honorable senator says things that are offensive to us he will have things that he does not like said to him in return.
– I should be the last to say anything that I thought my honorable friends would take exception to; but, as they have taken exception to newspapers going through the post because they express opinions differing from their own-
– What about a “ petty tyrant “ who, because he was the stronger, would pull the nose of another man?
– The honorable senator really should let me off, because that is a very tender spot with me ! One thing to which I take exception was the statement of the Minister that he would interview the Postmaster-General and see whether publications of this kind could not be prevented from being transmitted through the post. The sooner we have the post-office managed on the lines of a commercial institution, and do not use it according to the views of different parties who wish to stop the circulation of newspapers with which they do not agree, the better it will be. In introducing the system of compulsory training in this country, we took a step that the people in the Old Land always refused to take, out of consideration for individual rights and interests. To think that we could take such a step in this country, where we boast of a greater measure of freedom than is enjoyed anywhere else, and escape criticism and the expression of strong opinions, would be altogether unreasonable.
– No one objects to criticism.
– Then what was the objection ?
– The objection was inciting to a breach of the law.
– What was the statement of Senator Chataway? In his opening remarks he said that there were people who years ago thought they could ignore the Labour party. The only inference from that remark was that if he had been in power at that time he would have crushed the Labour party out of existence. He and his friends have now found out their mistake.
– My argument was that, because a mistake was made in ignoring the Labour party, we should not ignore these incitements to mutiny, but should take steps to prevent them.
– If these alleged incitements confer such benefits upon the community as the growth of the Labour party has done, we should certainly allow them to continue. But what was the proper inference from the honorable gentleman’s statement? It was that the Labour party has grown so strong that it is now too late to put it clown, even if his friends got into power. The argument was that there must be an early suppression of views with which the honorable senator and his friends do not agree.
– No such thing.
– Thatis all rubbish.
– That is what it amounted to.
– Is it the honorable senator’s proposition that the cadets should refuse to obey orders? If that is so, we know exactly where we are.
– There is certainly one thing in connexion with compulsory training to whichI do object, and for which there is not the slightest necessity. In my opinion it is a mistake to compel the youths of this country to take oaths that they will do certain things when they are trained. The sooner we get away from that practice the better. We should not require our youths to take oaths which would compel them to shoot down their relatives because they were concerned in a union. We are training our young men to fight for something different altogether. I do not know whether there is any necessity for oaths at all in connexion with military training in this country.
– The honorable senator took an oath when he came into this Senate.
– There was no necessity for that. .
– None, whatever.
– Still, the honororable senator took the oath.
– I took the oath as a loyal subject - though I am a little more loyal than the honorable senator himself is.
– It is only a matter of form, anyhow.
– What ? The oath only a matter of form ?
– I think that we should consider this question in the light of experience. What has been the experience of the last twenty years? We have had frequent misuses of the authority of Governments by the party to which honorable senators opposite belong. It is that which has excited mistrust throughout Queensland. Nobody can wonder at such a result who knows anything about the recent history of Queensland.
– One of the documents that I quoted came, not from Queensland at all, but from New South Wales.
– I understood that the honorable senator quoted from a Queensland newspaper, and I can quite sympathize with any man who has grown up under the misuse of authority by past Queensland Governments. I can quite understand such a man writing articles stronger in their terms than would have been the case if he had lived, say, in Tasmania. There has been a constant misuse of the authority of Governments supported by people like Senator St. Ledger, Senator Chataway, and Senator Sayers. I do not think that they will object to my using their names in this connexion. ‘ These people now want to suppress newspapers, because they publish strong articles now and then.
– Does the honorable senator think that the newspaper quoted was absolutely right.?
– I had never seen ‘the newspaper until Senator Chataway read a small portion of an article from it. I wish he had given us the benefit of the whole article. I venture to say, however, that if one of us had produced in the Senate, not a small publication like that, enjoying a trifling circulation, but a newspaper like the Sydney Daily Telegraph, or the Sydney Scorning Herald, containing an announcement’ that a branch of one of the Liberal organizations in New South Wales had said that they would hang the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and if we had contended that that newspaper should not be sent through the post, honorable senators opposite would have laughed at us, and called us ridiculous. Yet such a thing as 1 have’ described has occurred within the last fortnight.
– Why not produce the newspaper?
– It is just as well t’o produce it. I have before me an extract from the Sydney Morning Herald containing the following paragraph -
Stuart Town’s Anger.
The Liberal League - at Stuart Town (which is situated ‘ in the Robertson electorate, for which. Mr. Willis was defeated at the last election), evidently takes a desperate view of Mr. Willis’ recent action. At the last meeting the following resolution was passed and ordered to be sent to the daily papers : - The Liberal League at Stuart, Town is greatly (Surprised -at “Mr. Willis’ -action in accepting the Speakership. He was always treated as a gentleman when member for this electorate. If he dares to show his face in Stuart Town he will be hanged like a dog.” - Senator- Chataway. - Would not the honorable senator prosecute people if they did hang a man like a dog? -
– If we are to follow the argument , of Senator Chataway, and those who are supporting him, a newspaper that published a paragraph such as I have quoted should be brought to book, and ‘ the Postmaster-General should be moved, to stop the. circulation of the-‘-journal through the post, “because, this journal actually published a paragraph inciting the people, of -Stuart’ Town to hang- a man like a dog-not because he had deserted his party, but because he had accepted the Speakership of- the Legislative Assembly. The Postmaster-General “would have nothing else to do if he applied himself to. stopping the circulation through the post of newspapers containing statements of which he did not approve. ;
– The Government’ will not .carry letters through the post if they relate to Tattersalls’’ sweeps, and yet they will carry newspapers inciting people to’ break the law.
– Yes, they will ; I got a letter from Tattersalls’ the other day..
– I do not think there is anything nearly so strong in the article quoted by Senator Chataway as in a’ statement threatening to hang a man like a dog. But the attitude of Senator Chata-way, and his supporters, gives us a good: insight as to what their opinions are concerning the suppression of views contraryto their own.
– The Sydney Morning Herald did not advocate hangingMr. Willis like a dog.
– I am quite well aware that the newspaper did not make, the suggestion on its own responsibility,nor. was it made by any “ member of the staff, but it was published and circulated, not in a few hundreds of copies, but by tens of thousands, which were scattered throughout’- the country. Honorable senators opposite have never disavowed the statement, nor have they made any adverse comment upon it. I hope to hear from my. honorable friends a repudiation’ of _ suchsentiments as expressed by the .Liberal, party of Stuart Town. Honorable sena-. tors opposite can no more dissociate themselves from the Liberals of Stuart Town than they will allow us to dissociate ourselves from statements made in other newspapers with all ‘of which we may not agree. It is. ridiculous,- in my opinion, to urge- that a newspaper should be prevented from being circulated through the post because it declaims, against the system of military training. I, myself, am in’ favour of compulsory military training, because, ‘I believe that it’ may,’ some day, be necessary for Australia to defend herself, and because trained and efficient Australians will be better equipped for the de’fence of their country-than untrained and inefficient men.; But I am well. aware’ that this new- de:parture constitutes’ a? great’ inroad” on” individual liberty. This Parliament has said’, “ We will compel young men to under-, go military : training.’-‘ Side by side with that’ it has -compelled- them, under cover of; the ‘necessity for national defence,” to take ah-. .oath… . ..
– The honorable senator thinks that the statements contained in the article which has been quoted were justified.
– I do not know what is contained in that article apart from the very brief portion of it which was read by the- honorable senator. But I think that any writer is justified in giving expression to his opinions, no matter how strong they may be.
– Then we shall have to amend the law.
– I do not know that the law takes cognisance of the opinions expressed by any individual.
– The Defence Act provides for the punishment of those who may be guilty of treasonable conduct. That is the law of the land.
– It is merely the military law, and we are not yet under military law, although some honorable senators would like to put us under it without delay.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) f3 56] - 1^ there be one question which we ought to approach free from all party feeling it is that of compulsory military training. To the principle which it embodies all sections of this Parliament subscribed long ago. Indeed, it was the previous Government which laid down that policy. Yet, so far, honorable senators opposite appear, consciously or unconsciously, to have ignored the point which was raised by Senator Chataway. They have continually declared that they do not object to criticism of our Defence Act, thus implying that we do object to criticism of it, either by newspapers or individuals. Nothing, I am sure, was further from the thoughts of Senator Chataway, or of anybody else. The facts are that there is a demand amongst honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber, just as there ought to be a demand amongst honorable senators upon the other side of it, that the law of the country should be upheld. Every honorable senator who has spoken from the Ministerial benches has placed himself in the position of an advocate of those who break the law. The law has distinctly laid it down that what the newspaper quoted by Senator Chataway has done should not be done. Yet the Minister himself said, in effect, “ Let these people break the law as much as they like. Provided that no harm results from their action we will not interfere with them.”
Suppose that individuals were to go about the country inciting others to murder-
– Like the Liberal party did at Stuart Town.
– The difference between that section of the Liberal party and the party with which the honorable senator is associated is that the former talked about it, whereas the latter would have done it. The Minister of Defence said that no harm has resulted from the breaking of the law, but if any injury did manifest itself the Government would be prompt to take action. In. other words, when the steed has gone they will lock the stable door. Is that what we do in reference to other pernicious literature? Certainly not. The moment such literature gets into circulation we stop its dissemination. We do that before any injury has been inflicted, and not afterwards. In the case to which attention has been called by Senator Chataway, there is a double reason why action should be taken to punish offenders. In the first place, it is wise to prevent rather than cure an evil ; and, secondly, we have on the statute-book a law which says that the circulation of treasonable literature is a punishable offence. If there are sections of our Defence Act which individuals may break with impunity let us give the community an intimation of what those sections are. Certainly we should not call upon them to obey some” of the provisions of the Act while telling them that they are at liberty to break others. If men may break section 75 of that Act as much as they choose, let us wipe it off the statute-book altogether. The Minister was also illogical when he declared that it was unwise to bring this matter before the Senate, because such action would give the authors of the statements to which objection has been taken, a notoriety to which they are not entitled, because almost simultaneously he affirmed that he intended to do the very thing which he decried. In other words, he is going to confer with the PostmasterGeneral with a view to seeing if something cannot be done to prevent this pernicious class of literature from passing through the post. Consequently, he intends to give these persons the advertisement which he previously declared ought not to be given to them. If that publication stood alone there might possibly be some justification for allowing it to pass unnoticed.
– The honorable senator would not mind if the publication was only a little one.
– I would. It must be very gratifying to us all to receive a Ministerial assurance that our new Defence system has been launched successfully. I say that everything ought to be done to prevent that success being marred in any way. It would be deplorable for the success of the scheme if we had to combat the pernicious spirit which is sought to be inculcated by the article which has been quoted. I am aware that there have been mutterings of discontent amongst the youths of the country, even in my own State. We know that there is a disposition on the part of many cadets to resent the obligation which has been imposed upon them by the law, and it is our duty to say to them, “ We will see that our laws are maintained.” As we punish a cadet for a breach of the law, it is incumbent upon us to punish even more severely those who may “urge him to adopt that course. I would mete out a much heavier penalty to a man for an offence of that kind than I would to a mere boy who was led away by him.
– Iam more than satisfied with the result of the debate upon this motion, but I regret that personalities should have been imported into the discussion of a question of public interest by some of my honorable friends opposite. At the same time, I am delighted with the reply of the Minister. He has made it perfectly clear that in future the Government will keep a close watch upon those who attempt to incite the youth of Australia to break the law of the land. Senator Gardiner stated that I should have read the whole of the article from which I quoted an extract ; but I have no desire to weary the Senate by so doing.
– What is the name of the newspaper ?
– I do not intend to repeat that information. My honorable friend should have been present when 1 made the statement. The article was addressed to boys, and it stated -
You very rightly scoff at the officers and jeer at the drill.
I am protesting against the circulation of such sentiments, and honorable senators opposite agree with me, though they think it is good party politics to pretend that they do not.
– It is a storm in a tea-cup.
– We should not allow any person to incite others to break the law of the land. The statement of the Minister of Defence will strengthen the hands of the Department generally and of those who are responsible for the enforcement of the law.
– Nobody takes any notice of the individuals who made the statements to which exception has been taken.
– I am very sorry to hear that. I was under the impression that it was the function of the Minister to enforce the law. I think that this discussion will have the effect of drawing attention to the matter in a way which will make it clear that we are not endeavouring to advertise individuals, but to suppress a system which, if permitted to continue, will do a great deal of mischief. The Minister has made it clear that the Government hold the same views as are held by honorable senators upon this side of the chamber ; and, in these circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to intraduce this session a Corporations or Companies Bill? If not, will the Government, in view of the possibility of such a measure being largely non-contentious, consider the advisableness of submitting such a measure to Parliament as early as possible?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is -
It is not proposed to introduce such a measure at present, seeing that the limitations of the Commonwealth power with respect to the subjectmatter, as indicated by the High Court, prevent the matter being dealt with comprehensively.
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affair’s, upon notice -
If he will lay on the Library table all papers in reference to the appointment, the duties, and the eventual resignation of Dr. Basedow as Chief Protector of Aborigine’s in the Northern Territory ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is : - Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, uponnotice -
Has the Government made, or is’ it making or contemplating,any arrangements with the shipping companies for securing refrigerated space for the shipment of fruit from the Commonwealthto oversea markets?If so, . what basis, if any, will be adopted for the allotment of such space among the several States orthe shipperstherein ?
– The answer to the Honorablesenator’squestion is -
Noarrangement such as that indicated is contemplated.
It is considered that this, with many other matters of vital importance to the fruit-growing industry, is a subject capable of satisfactory solution if producers would realize the immense advantages of co-operative effort and control.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– If the honorable senator will ask for the information in the shape of a return it will be furnished as soon as possible.
– May I point out to the Minister that there are two portions of the question which cannot be included in a return?
– Does the honorable senator refer to paragraphs 4 and 5 ?
– Yes. I shall, if I may be permitted to do so, postpone these two questions.
Motion (by Senator McColl)agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Fraser on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Givens) agreed to -
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator. Stewart on. account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator Vardon) agreed to- -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Sir Josiah Symon on account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the consideration ofthe Petherick Col lection Bill, which lapsed by reason of theprorogation, be resumed at thestage it had reached during last session.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Trade Marks Act 1905.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the disposal of naval and military decorations.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) agreed to-
That a return be tabled showing -
The amount of press cable subsidy paid to date.
The persons to whom paid.
The names of newspapers publishing and paying for the subsidized messages.
The average amount of subsidy per such newspapers.
The number of words received each week since the commencement of the subsidy.
The names of the officers or officer appointed to check the number of words received.
Since the commencement of the subsidy the number of subsidized words received by the Pacific cable and the number of unsubsidized words received by the Pacific cable.
The number of press words received by all cables -
For the nine months ending 30th June, 1910.
For the nine months ending 30th June,
Motion (by Senator McColl) agreed to -
That all reports, papers”, and other information in the possession of the Government relating to the question of the gauge of the East and West Transcontinental Railway be laid on the table of this House.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is one of those machinery measures which have been necessitated by the passing of legislation. Up to the present time all statutory declarations have been made under the State laws, and before State officers. The varying forms of the declarations in the States have been found to be very inconvenient, both to officers and to private individuals. This Bill contains only eight clauses. It authorizes statutory declarations, under Commonwealth Acts; to be made before certain State officers, and empowers the Government of the Commonwealth to appoint Commissioners for Declarations. When this measure is enacted it will be found less difficult, by officers and private persons, to perform any business of this description I do not think it is necessary to refer to the clauses at length, because they can be better considered in Committee. I have not the least doubt that honorable senators will be glad to see this very short measure placed on the statute-book for the convenience both of officers and of the public generally.
– I do not desire to discuss what may be termed the purpose of the Bill. It seems to me to be a desirable measure, but I did expect the Minister to state why it is proposed to create a new class of officers. In addition to those who have hitherto been authorized to take these declarations, it is proposed to create an official called a Commissioner for Declarations. I expected to hear from theMinister a reason for this departure from the law in the States. It appears to me to be extremely undesirable to have so many officials of different designations entitled to perform the same duty. As regards declarations, I should think that it would be far better to have a simple commissioner, or allow any man to take them. This measure will multiply the titles or the positions to such an extent that a person will hardly know where he is. At present, the ordinary members of the public hardly know whether they should go to a Commissioner for Affidavits or to a justice of the peace to make these declarations. We should simplify these matters ; and, personally, I do. not know why we should maintain this system of having commissionersfor the taking of affidavits . The penalty for a false declaration is the same whether it be taken before a Commissioner for Affidavits or a magistrate ; the only difference I think being that, if a man makes a declaration before a Commissioner for Affidavits, he has to pay a fee, whilst if he makes it before an ordinary justice of the peace he has to pay nothing. I think a man should be allowed to make a declaration before any magistrate.
– So he will be.
– - Then why retain the Commissioner for Affidavits and also provide for the creation of a Commissioner for Declarations?
– For greater public convenience.
– There will be no greater public convenience secured by multiplying the designations of the officials employed for this purpose. Let the honorable senator, if he pleases, multiply the officials under one designation. We _provide for the taking of declarations by a police magistrate, a special magistrate, a justice of the peace, and a Commissioner for Affidavits ; and, under this Bill, in addition to these five classes of officials, it is proposed to create a sixth. I say that the public convenience would be met equally by adding to the number of officials under the existing five designations, without increasing the number under a fresh designation.
– Does this mean the appointment of a new officer?
– It means the appointment of as many new officers as the Government please. If this is to be tor greater public convenience; it is clear that the Government contemplate the appointment, not of a single new officer, but of battalions of new officers. I long ago arrived at the conclusion that, in order to meet the convenience of the public, we should provide that declarations may be made before any magistrate, or, if honorable senators please, before any Government official. The person taking a declaration is merely a witness to the fact that it has been made; and the only reason why declarations are not made before ordinary members of the public is that it may be possible to trace those before whom they have been made, should it be necessary to secure their testimony. But for that, any one would serve as a witness to a declaration. That being so, I urge that it is not desirable to create the proposed new class of officers, as it will probably only add to the confusion that already exists.
– Speaking from memory, it is customary, I think, in the State of Queensland for persons making declarations to say, “ 1, so-and-so, make this declaration by virtue of the Oaths Act.” I believe that is a common practice in the other States as well as in Queensland. The person before whom such a declaration is made is usually a justice of the peace. I indorse what Senator Millen has said in dealing with this point. There is another matter to which I direct attention now, in the hope that we may get some information on the subject from the Vice-President of the Executive Council when the clause is before us for adoption in Committee. Sub-clause 3 of this clause gives a certain value as evidence to declarations made under the Bill, and applied to judicial proceedings. I point out that criminal proceedings are judicial proceedings, and I ask the Minister whether there is not a possibility that, under this clause, we shall be shifting the onus of proof in criminal proceedings. The point is one which has not been raised in another place, though there are legal gentlemen there as well as the law adviser of the Crown, who, no doubt, have considered the Bill pretty closely. Still, it seems to me that there is a possibility of using this clause to shift the onus of proof, which ought not to be shifted in criminal proceedings. I have no doubt that it is not the intention of the Government so to do, and I direct the attention of the Minister to the matter, in the hope that when we get into Committee he will he able to assure us that the clause will not have the effect I suggest.
– - I have no wish to do anything which would prevent the taking of declarations. I should prefer to do all I possibly could to facilitate them ; but I should have been very much more pleased if the Government had introduced a provision to enable declarations to be taken instead of oaths in all cases. I think that in this twentieth century we have reached a stage when we should be prepared to abolish the taking of oaths altogether. If a man wishes to commit perjury, he will do so after taking an oath just as readily as after making a declaration.
– I doubt that.
– I give Senator St. Ledger full permission to have his own opinion on the matter; but mine is strongly as I have indicated. The man who does not believe in God will not be bound by an oath. We should have arrived at a time when a man’s “Yea” will be understood to be “ Yea,” and his “ Nay “ to be “ Nay,” and his declaration should be held to be sufficient. I agree with Senator Millen that there is no necessity for multiplying the designations of officials before whom declarations may be made. I should prefer to limit them. Senator Millen has referred to the fact that if you go before a Commissioner for Affidavits to make a declaration you do so in exactly the same way as before a justice of the peace, the only difference being that if the declaration is made before a justice of the peace you are charged nothing, whilst if it is made before a Commissioner for Affidavits you have to pay at least half-a-guinea. I have paid such a fee, and I am not sure that I have not sometimes paid more.
– The fee varies in New South Wales according to the purpose for which the declaration is taken.
– Why should we not do all that we can to facilitate the taking of declarations? We should enable them to be taken with the least possible trouble and expense, as they are made in the interests of the community. I shall be very glad to hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council explain why it is necessary to create the proposed new’ office, and why it would not be better to limit, rather than increase, the number of different classes of persons who may witness declarations. I have no objection to the Bill ; but I repeat my expression of regret that it does not go further, and allow all evidence to be taken by declaration, and abolish the oath throughout the Commonwealth.
– I am very glad that this Bill has been received with so little opposition. I think that, by interjection, I have already given the explanations demanded by Senators Millen and Vardon. The provision for the appointment of a Commissioner for Declarations is proposed really for the convenience of the public. Honorable senators will understand that declarations can be made before justices of the peace, magistrates, and special magistrates, and commissioners for the taking of affidavits; but these officials are all appointed by the
State authorities. It may be necessary,: where none of these officials are available, that declarations should be taken, and for the convenience of the public in such cases a commissioner appointed by the Commonwealth Government should be available to perform this duty in the public interest. It has been stated that a person going before a commissioner for taking affidavits or statutory declarations has to pay a fee of half-a-guinea. But I may inform Senator Vardon that nothing of that kind is contemplated in this Bill. It is even doubtful if we have the power to make a charge for attesting a declaration, so that honorable senators need have no fear that there will be any fees charged for such service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether there is in the Acts Interpretation Act, in its original form or as amended, or in any other Commonwealth Act, a definition of the word “ordinance”? I am not, for the moment, aware whether it has been used in any of our general Statutes before. I bring the point under the notice of the Minister with a view to having the word clearly defined or understood.
.- I notice that under this measure it is competent for a person appointed under a State law to act in respect to Commonwealth statutory declarations. Will there be reciprocity in the matter? Otherwise the measure will fail very much in its usefulness.
– Have we power to insist on reciprocity?
– The Commonwealth Government might. I should think, ask the States to give power for persons appointed under the measure to take statutory declarations under State Acts.
– I cannot give a definite reply to’ Senator Keating’s ‘ question as to whether the term “ordinance” is used in the Acts Interpretation Act. I do not think that it is. As to what Senator McColl has said, reciprocity with the States in this matter will have to be the subject of negotiation. We cannot negotiate until we have something to discuss with the States. If it be found advisable the States may be approached and asked to give the necessary authority to Commonwealth Commissioners to administer statutory declarations under State laws.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Authority to make and use statutory declarations).
– Sub-clause 3 of this clause provides that the section shall, not be taken - to .-authorize a statutory declaration to be used as evidence in judicial proceedings, but nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any statutory declaration from being so used.
In this measure it seems to be inferred that a statutory declaration signed by a person might be used against him in criminal proceedings. But that is contrary to all the principles of criminal law as ordinarily accepted.. I : should like to satisfy’ myself that the onus of proof is not shifted by this provision. I do not know whether the point has occupied “the attention of the AttorneyGeneral, but certainly, if declarations made under this measure can be used in criminal proceedings., it will be a violation of the principles of evidence and of British justice. The Bill does not appear to contemplate an alteration of the law of evidence, and possibly the Courts will so construe it; but the wording is somewhat ambiguous. The implication I have suggested is there.
. -It appears to me that this clause very properly and wisely makes it clear that we do not attempt in any way to provide that statutory declarations made under it are to be used in judicial proceedings. As a matter of fact, each State Supreme Court reserves for itself largely the matter of determination of its own procedure, and of what -shall and shall not be considered evidence. For very obvious reasons affidavits and declarations are not used as evidence in such proceedings, except where inevitable, or where it is abundantly certain that their use will not lead to injustice. The principle upon which that practice is based is that when evidence is tendered by affidavit or declaration the party so tendering the evidence does not subject himself to cross-examination. “ But in many proceedingsbefore Judges in Chambers, in ex forte proceedings, and in originating proceedings, for example - evidence is very often tendered by way of affidavit, and it is not necessary for the party to attend and give evidence viva voce. That evidence so given may be answeed by another affidavit. We do not attempt by this Bill to provide that any declaration shall, or must, be receivable in evidence. But we do provide that nothing’ in the Bill is to prevent any statutory declaration being so used. In other words,, we do not profess to say that declarations, made under this measure, shall be used in. any Court of law of a State, but, at the same time, we do not prevent the Judges of the State. Courts receiving such affidavits in evidence. We leave that entirely to them and the State Legislatures. We do not attempt to alter the procedure of the State Courts. That, I take it, is the meaning of the clause. But I am not quite clear as to whether the Commonwealth Parliament has sufficiently defined in the Acts Interpretation Act as amended, or in any other Act,’ the signification of the words, “ Act, Ordinance, or statutory regulation “ when used in a general Act. The words, as they stand at present, are quite comprehensive enough to embrace State Acts, but it cannot be intended that they should. I do not think that they should. We have not power to provide for the way in which evidence shall be received under State Acts. But there is nothing on the face of this measure to restrict its operation. There may be some provision in the Acts Interpretation Act to the effect that the use of these words is confined to Commonwealth Statutes. But we should make it abundantly clear that we are not professing to attempt to make statutory declarations under this measure valid or appropriate under State Acts. We are only, proposing to legislate with regard to Acts, Ordinances, and statutory declarations in conformity with Commonwealth Statutes.
– What Senator Keating has said helps to throw light upon the subject. It. must be remembered that we cannot control the law of evidence of the States in matters arising out of the State law. But, at the same time, State Courts exercise Federal jurisdiction. They are entitled to do so under the Judiciary Act. When they exercise Federal jurisdiction they of course exercise it under the law that we impose. I must confess that the more this clause - is looked into the more weak and unfortunate the drafting seems. Subclause 3 says that -
Sub-section 2 of this section shall not be taken to authorize a statutory declaration to be used as evidence in judicial proceedings - that is to say, it bars the use of statutory declarations in that way, and so far the clause is satisfactory. But it goes on to say - but nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any statutory declaration from being so used.
There seems to be an inconsistency. If a declaration may, under the Federal law, be used against a criminal brought up for an offence against Federal law, what is to prevent it being so used? Senator Keating throws considerable doubt upon my point, and since it has escaped the attention of the lawyers in another Chamber, possibly the clause is not capable of the interpretation that I put upon it. But I draw attention to the fact that the two portions of sub-clause 3 appear to be inconsistent. Say that a declaration is made under the Customs Act. It seems to me that, under this clause, the declaration, once made, could be used against the person making it, or against any other person. If that be so, the law is being stretched to some extent. Under the Customs Act the Federal Government has a great deal of power with regard to the enforcement of pecuniary penalties against any declarant. But the moment the declarant becomes liable to some forfeiture or punishment he seems to lose the privilege of the ordinary law, and his declaration may be used against him. I hope that the Minister will be able to disabuse my mind of my fears on the subject. I do not like to move an amendment, and I shall be glad if I can be shown that my criticism is inapplicable.
– It is sometimes a great advantage to the Senate to have members of the legal profession devoting themselves to the criticism of measures of this kind. Very often they assist in the elucidation of questions such as that which has been raised by Senator St. Ledger. However, I do not think that the honorable senator need be alarmed in the slightest degree. I am very much obliged to Senator Keating for the explanation which he gave in connexion with this question. The Government have no idea of doing anything which would jeopardize the reputation of any person, and, consequently, we do not pro pose to make these declarations evidence in any Court. That is quite clear from the text of the Bill. But it is within the power of the Courts to use their discretion, and to take whatever action they may think proper in reference to such declarations. Personally, I think it is very desirable that the Court should be vested with that discretion. I know that Senator St. Ledger has no desire that criminals should escape justice. Although the Government do not wish to make the declaration of any criminal, evidence against him in the future, yet they think it is right that our Judges should have power to call for such declaration if, in their opinion, he would in its absence be likely to go scot-free. Consequently, I think that every provision has been made for the general protection of the public. Senator St. Ledger may rest secure in the belief that the Government have no intention to perpetrate any irregularity. The responsibility of calling for any statutory declaration will rest with the Courts, and the honorable senator, I know, has every confidence in the Judges of Australia. With respect to the point raised by Senator Keating as to Acts, Ordinances and statutory regulations, he will doubtless recollect that when the Acts Interpretation Act was under consideration the question of Ordinances was not involved. Consequently no provision was made in that Act regarding them. So far as I am aware, the only Acts in which provision is made for Ordinances are the Seat of Government Act, the Northern Territory Act, and the Papua Act. Those Ordinances are Commonwealth Ordinances, and it is only Commonwealth Ordinances which have any standing under legislation of this kind.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Form of statutory declaration).
.- I presume that all these declarations will be gazetted ?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Pearce), read a first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure which contains but very few clauses, and which deals with difficulties that have arisen in connexion with copyright. It will doubtless be recollected that many years ago - in 1885 - a Conference, at which many European countries were represented, was held at Berne for the purpose of bringing about reciprocity in respect of copyright. England, France, Germany, and many other countries were represented at that gathering ; but there were countries such as America, Austria, and Russia, which were not represented. As the result of that Conference a Convention was agreed to and signed in September, 1886, under which a reciprocal arrangement was made for the protection of copyright in all the countries so represented. Great Britain being one of those countries, and Australia being a Dependency of the Empire, we came under that arrangement. But the legislation which has been passed in Great Britain in respect of copyright has been of so fragmentary a character that it is not only very difficult to understand, but it presents obstacles to those who desire to avail themselves of it. As early as 1836 legislation of this kind was enacted by the Imperial Parliament, and I am sure any modern legislator would be amused if he read the form in which the different sections of that legislation appear. He would probably read something like this : “ Whereas any book, copy, leaflet, or lithograph,” &c, and a dozen other combinations of that description would figure in the list. The words, “ whereas,” “ nevertheless,” “ whatsoever,” “ wherefore,” would intervene, and the same articles would then be repeated over and over again. When the Commonwealth was established it passed a Copyright Act in modern language. That Act, I think, is a piece of legislation of which Australia may very well be proud, and which other countries might copy with advantage, not only to themselves, but to those desiring to obtain copyright. Obviously our Copyright Act could not embrace everything which was absolutely necessary in connexion with the protection of copyright, and consequently it has been found necessary - not on account of omissions in Com monwealth legislation, but on account of omissions in Imperial legislation - to pass an amending Bill for the purpose of extending the same protection to works of art that it extends to other articles of copyright which are included in the different British Copyright Acts. In connexion with those Acts, there have been omissions even of portions of the Empire itself, and this Bill is intended to cover those omissions. Then there are countries which were not represented at the Berne Convention, and with which we desire to enter into a state of reciprocity. All countries are at liberty to come under our copyright by proclamation. A proclamation can be issued when we are in a position to make an arrangement with any country which will grant the same facilities to our authors or artists as we are prepared to grant to them. The only difference between countries which have not been included in the Berne Convention, and those which have been included, will be that the term of the copyright will be the shortest term in any of the countries which wish to get the benefit of our legislation. There are great benefits to be obtained from the Commonwealth Act. If honorable senators will refer to Part V., they will find that those who wish to protect themselves in Australia can do so in the easiest possible manner. They have only to make a declaration, or to write a letter to certain persons in Australia, and action will be taken on their behalf. Consequently, they have no difficulty in protecting themselves. The Bill repeals Part VI. of the principal Act, which includes sections 62 and 63, and introduces five provisions. I believe that when this alteration in our law is made, the conditions in connexion with the protection of authors and artists in the civilized world will be as complete as it is possible for us to make them.
– I was glad to hear the Minister’s explanation of the object of the Bill. I should take it that it does not interfere in any way with the relations already established on this subject by virtue of the Berne Convention of 1886. I believe that delegates duly appointed under that Convention have met since that year. That being the case, this measure is more or less formal, but important. It is keeping pace with the law of international copyright under that Convention, not only within the Empire, but also within the outside world. I desire to call the attention of the Minister to subclause 3 of proposed new clause 62. It reads -
Where a work is first published, performed, or produced simultaneously in more than one country, the country in which the shortest term of protection is granted shall be deemed to be the country of origin of the work.
That provision follows, to a certain point, the words of article 2 of the Berne Convention of 1885, which seems to have been omitted from our Act of 1905 ; but it omits the concluding portion of that article -
For unpublished works the country to which the author belongs is considered to be the country of the origin of the work.
What struck me when I looked through the measure was that the portion of article 2 of the Berne Convention which gives to authors an additional protection, and I think a very necessary protection, relating to unpublished works has not been incorporated. It frequently happens that most important works are not published until after the author’s death. Take, for instance, Lord Acton’s works. Many of them, in fact, the best of them, were not published until after his death. The Berne Convention seems to have protected the publication of the works, or, if it did not need protection to define the matter in this way, that the rights ‘in unpublished works are governed by the law of the country of the origin of the author. It struck me that there must be a reason why that important protection was omitted from this measure.
– Would not the executors of a deceased author have the same rights as he had?
– Possibly so; but the enforcement of an executor’s rights under common law, or will, or settlement, is a very expensive thing. The enforcement pf rights which are clearly declared by Statute, is another and an easier thing. The portion of the article I referred to protects the rights of an author of unpublished works, whether he is living or dead. What struck me, I repeat, was that while the former portion of that article was adopted bodily in this measure, the latter portion was omitted. I have not had time to make a search, but it may be that under the principal Act the unpublished works of an author are protected. If the Minister can inform us to that effect the matter will be settled. It is advisable for him to consider whether the Bill ought not to take in the whole of that article of the Berne Convention.
– Provision is made in section 7 of the principal Act in respect of unpublished works.
– I am glad to hear that statement from the Minister. As I said, I did not have time to make a search, and I thought that that probably was the reason for the omission. It still more strongly emphasizes the Minister’s position that he is keeping our legislation in close touch with the legislation suggested by the Berne Convention.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I hope that honorable senators will realize the steps which they are asked to take in adopting this measure. It was only in 1905 when there was introduced to the Senate a comprehensive measure to deal with copyright - a far more comprehensive measure than any which had been’ submitted in any portion of the British Empire. It was subjected here to a considerable amount of criticism. Whereas” it was intended to extend to other parts of the British Empire, and to other nations, re,ciprocal rights in the Commonwealth, and whereas it was also provided that copyright could be obtained in the Commonwealth on compliance with a set of simple conditions, the sense of the Senate was strongly expressed against granting Commonwealth copyright on such easy terms. The sense of the Senate was emphatically expressed on the project of including amongst the. conditions of obtaining copyright some provisions with regard to first production, first printing, and matters of that -kind in the Commonwealth itself. If - these condition and limitations on the acquisition of copyright were considered in 1905 a forward step on the part of the Commonwealth ; if they Were considered necessary and advantageous, and the sense of the Senate was, so strong in that regard that it amended the Bill, then this measure can only be branded as distinctly retrograde. I speak, without any feeling in the matter, because in 1905 I had charge of a. measure which contained many provisions similar in purport to the main provisions of this amending measure, but the Senate was strongly, after considerable debate, against such a wide extension of Commonwealth copyright. I think that the arguments, which were used as to the conditions^ which should be imposed on the acquisition of Commonwealth copyright were of such a character as tq convince honorable senators^ and apparently were of such strength that really one would feel compelled on this occasion to call for some more direct answer to them now than the attempts with which the Senate seemed to be dissatisfied then. As I said, the Bill of 1905 went further than the Act which we have on the statute-book : it went further in the direction pf this measure, but the Senate’s sense as to the necessity for printing within the Commonwealth, and other conditions of that character, was far too strong for the measure to pass in the form in which it was introduced. I intend to be very brief in my remarks on the second reading, but in view of the circumstances to which I have referred, and of the further fact that this means a very substantial and farreaching alteration of the law, I should certainly like to have an assurance from the Minister that this measure is not _ to go through the Senate without receiving full deliberation and consideration.
– Hear, “hear.
– If the noticepaper had been fuller than it is, I certainly would have asked the Minister after his speech to consent to a motion for the adjournment of the debate. I do not propose to take that course in the circumstances, but I certainly hope that we shall not get through the Committee stage without honorable senators having a full opportunity of realizing what the significance of the measure is. It has been circulated amongst honorable senators only this morning. If we had that alone to consider, the importance of the subject and a recollection of the extensiveness of the debate upon this or similar’ provisions previously considered should be a sufficient warranty to Ministers for deferring the consideration of the Bill in Committee for some little time, in order to enable honorable senators to acquaint themselves with its provisions and the effects of their adoption. But we have further to remember that a Copyright Bill has been introduced in the House of Commons quite recently, and inasmuch as this particular measure is primarily and mainly designed for the purpose of harmonizing our legislation with that of the United Kingdom and other portions of the British Empire, as well as for entering into reciprocal relations with other countries, there is an added reason in support of the slight delay in the consideration of it which I suggest. I am indebted to the courtesy of Ministers for a copy of the Bill which has been introduced in the Imperial Parliament. I notice that it was presented by Mr. Sydney Buxton, supported by Mr. Harcourt, Mr. Solicitor-General, and Mr. Tennant, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on the 13th July last. It is not yet the law of the United Kingdom, but it is a Bill which is likely to engage considerable talent in discussion in respect of most of its important provisions. I need only remind honorable senators that ever since 1875 the necessity for a comprehensive Copyright Bill for the United Kingdom, and for such of His Majesty’s Dominions as it would be applicable to, has engaged the attention of the Imperial Parliament. Commissions have been appointed in which men of recognised eminence in this branch of the law, such as Lord Thring, Mr. Scrutton, and others, have taken an important part. Measures recommended by the Commissions have, from time to1 time, been submitted to the House of Commons, but in view of the fact that measures dealing with education, the poor law, hotelkeepers, and other matters engaging more fully the attention of the electors have had to be considered, the House of Commons has not had time to deal with this subject. There is, however, an attempt being made at the present time to put through the Imperial Parliament a comprehensive Copyright Bill. We have it in evidence that it is the intention, so far as possible, to extend the advantages of its provisions throughout the Empire. It is proposed to extend them to all the Colonies of the Crown, except where specially exempted. It will be open to the selfgoverning Dominions, by resolution or otherwise, to adopt the Bill in its entirety, or with such modifications as to procedure, registration, and some other minor matters of the kind as they please, or to ignore it altogether.
– But there are consequences of ignoring it.
– Undoubtedly. There are international consequences which would exclude our people from privileges in the countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention. These are matters which should be very seriously considered, and the time between the circulation of the Bill amongst honorable senators and itsproposed consideration in Committee tonight is certainly insufficient to enable us to approach this matter with the full knowledge and the seriousness that the occasion demands. With regard to the criticism of Senator St. Ledger as to the provision, I think he said of the Berne or Berlin Conference, with respect to unpublished literary manuscripts, I may remind the honorable senator that section 7 of our existing Act deals with such manuscripts. It will be within the recollection of some honorable senators that, in the discussion of that measure, Senator Symon severely criticised the inclusion of such a provision on the contention that it purported to do what was unnecessary, and what was already common law throughout the Commonwealth. The section provides that -
Subject to this and any other Acts of the Parliament, the common law of England relating to proprietary rights in unpublished literary compositions shall, after the commencement of this Act, apply throughout the Commonwealth.
– That does not go as far as the Berne Convention.
– I think it absolutely protects those who are interested. It must be understood that there is not, and cannot be, any such thing as copyright in unpublished literary compositions. It only subsists in something that is published, that has gone forth, or been given or performed. Anything of a private character, such as an unpublished literary manuscript, cannot be the subject of copyright.
– The author’s executors may publish his manuscripts, and obtain copyright.
– That may be so; but there is an ordinary common law position with regard to a matter of that kind. The unauthorized publication of unpublished literary manuscripts can be restrained by common law injunction. Their publication would not, at common law, give the executors copyright, because copyright can only subsist in the author, and the executors wouldnot be the authors of the manuscripts. It might be necessary by statutory provision to vest what would have been the author’s rights in his executors. So far as that aspect of the matter goes, Senator St. Ledger’s criticism is worthy of consideration. But there is another matter to which I invite the attention of Ministers, and that is that since we passed our Copyright Act of 1905 there has been an enormous development in what I may call the reproduction generally of matters which are the subject of copyright. I do not now allude to books, or to artistic works, such as statuary or paintings. There are embraced in our Copyright Act such things as dramatic right, the right of performance of a drama, the right of performance of certain music in any notation, the right of transposition of music, and matters of that kind. Since 1905, wonderful strides have been made in the development of mechanical means of reproduction, and it was decided in England some ten years ago in the case of Boosey v. White that the reproduction by means of a mechanical device or instrument known as the AEolian of certain musical compositions, the copyright of Boosey and Company, the well-known music publishers, was not an infringement of their right. Those who are responsible for the introduction into the House of Commons of the Bill to which I have referred realize what the . AEolian and the Pianola are doing, and may do, under a decision of that kind. They realize that these devices are calculated to infringe proprietary rights in copyright, and they propose to make provision against infringements of that kind. The same thing applies to the use of the gramaphone in respect of the infringement ofa lecturing right. The gramaphone might be used, I was going to say, as an innocent, but probably more correctly a non-innocent, instrument for the infringement of such a right, whilst the person who used it might contend that he had not really broken the law, and the persons whose rights were infringed would have no remedy. These remarks apply also to the cinematograph, and to other instruments and mechanical devices for reproduction of matters which may be the subject of copyright.
– Can moving pictures be copyrighted?
– Under the English Bill, such a provision is made in connexion with the matters which copyright may include. Section 13 of our Act provides that -
The copyright in a book means the exclusive right to do or authorize another person to do all or any of the following things in respect of it : -
We then set out succinctly, as Senator McGregor has indicated, all the different rights proposed to be given, such as the performing right in dramatic and musical work, the lecturing right in lectures, and so on. The English Bill provides that -
For the purpose of this Act “ copyright “ . . shall include the sole right.
In the case of a dramatic work, to convert it into a novel or other nondramatic work.
In the case of a novel or other nondramatic work, or of an artistic work, to convert it into a dramatic work, by way of performance in public or otherwise.
In the case of a literary, dramatic, or muscial work, to make any record, perforated roll, cinematograph film, or other contrivance by means of which the work may be mechanically performed or delivered.
So that the owner of the copyright, or performing right, has alone the right to make films, to make or have made rolls, or other media by which music is performed by mechanical devices. Later on in the Bill, in clause 19, we find that it is provided that-
Copyright shall subsist in records, perforated rolls, and other contrivances by means of which sounds may be mechanically reproduced in like manner as if such contrivances were musical works, but the term of copyright shall be fifty years from the making of the original plate from which the contrivance was directly or indirectly derived, and the person who was the owner of such original plate at the time when such plate was made shall be deemed to be the author of the work.
It shall not be deemed to be an infringement of copyright in any musical work for any person to make within the parts of His Majesty’s Dominions to which this Act extends, records, perforated rolls, or other contrivances by means of which the work may be mechanically performed, if such person proves -
that such contrivances have been previously made by or with the consent or acquiescence of the owner of the copyright in the work; and
that he has given the prescribed notice of his intention to make the contrivances, and has paid in the prescribed manner to or for the benefit of the owner of the copyright in the work royalties in respect of all such contrivances sold by him, calculated at the rate hereinafter mentioned.
This provision is made so that the owner shall not be compelled to grant that right to his own detriment. It is obvious, therefore, that the march of intended legislation in England comprehends within its purview, as possible subjects for copyright, all these different matters ; and I should certainly have expected that the Government would have taken steps to introduce in an amending Copyright Bill such provisions in connexion with them as the occasion demands. As to how interested parties stand in relation to copyright or performing right I am not in a position to say, but certainly for some time past I have had in view the possibility of our own Copyright Act being amended so as to embrace such provisions as I have referred to. During the recent recess - in about February last - I had myself prepared some material upon this very subject, but I appear to have mislaid it, or to have left it in Tasmania. It was designed as a skeleton measure for the amendment of the Copyright Act, and included provisions in relation to mechanical reproduction. I had hoped that the Government would realize the advisableness of introducing provisions into this amending Bill to meet that class of case. Otherwise it is evident that this amendment of the Copyright Act will have to be followed shortly by another. Surely we do not want to load up our statute-book with amending Act after amending Act year after year. We do not want to have one principal Act with a tail of amending Acts trailing behind it like a comet. I hope that the Government will therefore see their way, before this Bill is finally dealt with by the Senate, to include in it such provisions - they need not be very lengthy - as will enable persons to be protected in the enjoyment of their performing rights against infringement by means of mechanical devices. I also trust that they will insure to such persons the sole right of preparing or having prepared the media for mechanical reproduction or for authorizing other persons to prepare those media upon terms that may be just to the original owner. I commend these considerations to the Minister in charge of the Bill. I trust that he will not take the course of pushing the measure through the Committee stage this evening. In this, the first amendment of the copyright law which has been brought before Parliament, I should like to see such provisions inserted as the circumstances of the times demand, as is clearly evidenced by the express intention of the Imperial Parliament in the Bill now before it, and from which I have just quoted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
– I have listened with very great interest to the speech of Senator Keating. Of course I entirely agree with him that a Bill surrounded with such technicalities as a Copyright Bill necessarily requires very serious consideration. I, therefore, have no intention of forcing this measure through Committee, or of doing anything that would prevent honorable senators having adequate opportunities of ascertaining whether there are any faults in it, and, if so, how they should possibly be amended.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the policy of the Postal Department in compelling country residents to give a financial contribution for carrying the mails is unfair, and should be discontinued.
I trust that this motion will be unanimously accepted by the Senate. It was only within the last month or two that the fact was brought under my notice that it was the practice of the Post and Telegraph Department to insist on residents in remote country districts making pecuniary contributions for the purpose of carrying on mail services. I consider that that is a very unfair practice. If there is any one class in this community - and I am not now speaking only for Victoria, but for all Australia - that should have consideration with regard to postal services, it is the class of dwellers in the remoter parts of the continent. They are isolated. They are far away from the pleasures and comforts that pertain to our large cities. They have hard work to do. Frequently they are far away from railway communication. They are deprived of many of the advantages that other residents of Australia enjoy. Therefore, we should do everything we can for them in respect of the services controlled by the Government. A little while ago I received an intimation that a country service would be discontinued unless the residents of the district contributed the sum of £6 7s.1d. towards maintaining it. I found on inquiry at the Post and Telegraph Department that if the amount of the deficiency had been £5 they would not have been asked for anything ; but when the difference between£5 and£67s.1d. was tendered, the Department refused to accept it, and said, “ We must have the full amount.” This instance brought the im portance of this matter forcibly under my notice. I gave my own cheque for the full sum, in order that the service might not be discontinued. But honorable senators will agree with me that the practice itself should be abolished. I have before me a return affecting five States. Particulars with regard to New South Wales are not given. I find that in Victoria there are fifteen services in the position I have described, and that the amount contributed by local residents is£3871s. 5d. In Queensland there are twelve instances, the total amount contributed being£165 5s.10d. In South Australia there are three cases, the amount being£44 10s. In Western Australia there are three instances, and the amount is £108 17s. 3d. In Tasmania there are four cases, the sum involved being £26. The total for those five States is £731 14s. 6d. I do not know what the amount for New South Wales is, but it is probably £200 or , £300. In any case, the total sum involved for all Australia cannot be more than , £1,000. Is it worth while to impose this burden on country people, who, as I said before, ought to have special consideration, on account of the other disabilities from which they suffer? I find that the average amount paid for the fifteen services in Victoria is £26; the average for Queensland is£13 ; for South Australia, £15; for Tasmania, £6 10s.; and for Western Australia, £36. In America one of the things about which people are proudest is that they have a free rural delivery throughout the country. There is not one place in the United States where any person is charged extra for receiving his correspondence. There is a splendid system in vogue, by which post-offices in country districts are done away with.’ A man takes a long round of 40 or 50 miles, starting from a centre, and there are boxes at cross-roads which he clears, and where he leaves mail matter. I believe that ultimately we shall have to adopt some such system in Australia. Meanwhile, however, we should not deprive country residents of the few privileges they now have. It is not necessary for me to labour this question. It must be plain to honorable senators that the present practice should be discontinued. It is very burdensome to the people in the country districts, and the special exaction made from some of them is extremely irksome. I feel sure that when honorable senators consider the case, they will come to the conclusion that no country resident should be placed under special disabilities with respect to the carriage of his mails.
.^-! am rather glad that Senator McColl has brought this matter forward, because it gives the present Government an opportunity of showing that it has done- more in increasing country mail facilities, and thereby, benefiting the. settler and the farmer, than any other Government that has ever occupied office since Federation. That is a pretty big boast, I. know, but Senator McColl has been a supporter’ of several Governments since the commencement of the Commonwealth which have refused to* give the facilities that are being given to-day. It was not until the -present Government came into power that the people in the sparselypopulated localities were accorded even the facilities which they now enjoy. Now the honorable senator, who has sat silent all these years, suddenly wakes up and complains that the existing facilities are not what they ought to be. I propose to give the Senate the benefit of the history of this particular class of cases. I intend to point out what was the practice which obtained in the State which he represents prior to Federation. That practice was as follows: -
New mail services were instituted on trial, provided the residents concerned arranged for the mail to be conveyed and the letters distributed free of cost to the Department f9r a period of three months, a record being kept at the office of despatch of the amount of correspondence forwarded in the mail. At the expiration of such period of trial, the revenue was computed on the number of letters posted at id., and the residents were required to make good the total amount of loss, if any, which would be incurred by the establishment of a service.
In March, 1905, the following circular was issued conveying a ruling by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Sydney Smith) dealing with the question of the contribution to be made by the Department in such cases, namely -
Requests having been made from time to time for the establishment of mail services in cases where the prospects of the district did not appear to be very certain, while the expenditure involved would be considerably more than the revenue expected from such services, the PostmasterGeneral has given the matter careful consideration. and, as all proposals of this kind are put forward more for the purpose of rendering assistance in developing the country than upon any business basis so far as this Department is concerned, and the charge has been made against the administration of the Department of extravagance as compared with previous management when under State control, ,he has decided that no services be undertaken which are likely to considerably increase the expenditure without adding materially to the revenue.
It is considered that a safe rule to. followin all such instances would be for this Department to contribute towards the desired service the estimated or actual revenue derived, leaving it to those interested or to the State Government to make up the sum required. Please note and act accordingly.
That meant that if a service returned a revenue of only ^5 a year, and its cost was £5°> the residents of the locality were obliged to contribute ,£45, the Postal Department contributing only the amount of the revenue. Senator McColl found no fault with that system. Subsequently, it was decided that, in arriving at the amount of the estimated revenue, instead of taking the whole of the postage on matter which it was estimated would be posted on the line, 50 per cent, of the correspondence in both directions should be taken. In connexion with the introduction of penny postage, it was arranged that, for the purpose of deciding whether or not new mail services should be granted, the revenue should be taken as the total value of the postage on correspondence in both directions. I come now to the action taken by the present Government. In December last the Postmaster-General approved that, where the estimated revenue was less than the estimated expenditure in connexion with desired new mail services, the services should be granted upon those interested agreeing to pay half the difference between the revenue and expenditure, the Department paying the other half - that is to say the Department allows towards the cost of the services, not only the postage value of all correspondence carried by it, but is prepared to pay half the difference between that amount and the actual cost of the service. This is the arrangement, in force at the present time. It will thus be seen that the existing arrangements under the Commonwealth are very much more liberal than they were under the State, and than they were prior to last year. In order that honorable senators may realize the effect of that practice, and what would be tEe result of its repeal, I propose to invite their attention to certain facts. Let us assume a case in which the revenue from a service would be £100 per annum, and in which its cost would be ^300. Under the existing rule, the Postal Department would find’ £100, in addition to one-half of the loss incurred on the service, namely, another £100. In other words, it would contribute- £200, whereas the local residents, or the State, would contribute only £100.
– The Department would contribute £100 in excess of its receipts?
– Yes. But the former practice was for the Department to contribute only the amount of the revenue which was derived from any service. Of course, in a great many instances, the revenue does not represent anything like £100 annually. It is generally about £15, and the contract usually represents about . £50, so that there is an annual loss of £35. In such cases, the Department pays , £15 - the amount of the revenue - and in addition contributes . £1710s., or half the amount of the loss incurred on the service. There are other cases in which the cost of a service bears a greater disproportion to the revenue than I have shown. Only last week, the Postmaster-General had an application made to him for a service which would cost , £300, and the total yearly revenue from which would be only£5. Under the . present administration, the Department is prepared to grant that service, and to pay one half of the loss sustained upon it. It is ready to contribute £150, and to face an annual loss of , £145. The last. Government were not prepared to do that, nor were any of their predecessors. Yet Senator McColl has endeavoured to make it appear that we are not assisting the struggling settler in different parts of the country. I take it that nobody would lay down the rule that we should grant a mail service to every resident in the Commonwealth.
– But every district in the Commonwealth ought to have a service.
– When the honorable senator looks into the matter, he will see that he is wrong. In the centre of Australia there are districts in which no white men live, and there are other districts in which only one or two white men reside. To grant mail services in such cases would cost thousands of pounds a year.
– I was referring to settled districts.
-I know that. It is impossible to give a mail service to every person or to every district in Australia, because there are some districts in which it would cost thousands of pounds, and in which the revenue would amount only to 4s. or 5s.
– Define a “district”?
– Exactly. We have, therefore, to say that we will grant a mail service to as many districts, and to as’ many individuals aswe can. We have to draw the linesomewhere short of granting one to every district and every individual. Previous Governments have drawn the line by saying that they would grant such services only to districts where the residents were willing to bear half the loss sustained upon them. The present Government go half way between that and the other extreme by saying, “ We will grant a service to those residents who are willing to pay one-half of the loss incurred upon it.” Honorable senators must see how enormously that practice has increased the expenditure of the Department, without appreciably increasing its revenue. It is estimated that; during the current year, as a resultof that practice, nearly £40,000 will be added to the expenditure of the Post Office.
– In this connexion?
– Yes. The country ought to know that the present PostmasterGeneral has done more for the scattered districts of Australia than has any of his predecessors.
– I am not disputing that. But he might do a great deal more.
– If the Postal Department is to provide a mail service whenever it is asked for, and to bear the whole of the loss-
– The motion does not say that.
– If it means anything, it means that. If it does not mean that the Postal Department must grant every mail service for which it is asked, no matter what may be the loss upon it, it must mean a reversion to the position which obtained prior to Federation. In other words, it means that the Department should say to applicants, “ We will not give you a service unless you consent to bear the loss that may be sustained upon it.” Is not the present position infinitely preferable to that? If the motion is aimed at anything, it is aimed at the present administration of the Post Office.
– Nonsense !
– It is no use being as charitable as is the honorable senator. Seeing that Senator McColl remained silent when the people in country districts were bearing the whole of the loss incurred upon their mail services, and woke up when they are called upon to pay only half of that loss, I confess that I am disposed to be suspicious. Either the Government- must give every service that is asked for, no matter what may be the loss upon it, or they must exercise a choice astowhat services they will grant. Otherwise a man in the interior would have a right to say, “ I want my mail delivered regularly every week.1’
– An individual ?
–It would not be the first time that an individual had asked for a regular weekly service.
– That is not the object of the motion. “ Senator PEARCE.- Before the Senate affirms this proposition, which is a censure on the present administration of the Post Office, 1 want to ask honorable senators what they are going to substitute for the existing practice. The Postal Department to-day is granting people advantages which they have never previously enjoyed. Senator McColl has either to say that the Department must give everybody a service, no matter what may be the loss involved, or that it shall have an opportunity of judging what services it will grant. I want honorable senators to realize what is behind the motion. When they weigh these facts, and remember that the Prime Minister has dealt with these persons far more generously than they had been dealt with previously, either before or since Federation, they will see that the motion is not justified. I ask them, on these grounds, to negative it.
– I do not know what the Minister of Defence would have said of me if I had moved in this matter. He certainly could not have blamed me in the way in which he has blamed Senator McColl. I do not think that he had reason to blame Senator McColl as he did, judging from my experience of the Department in South Australia. I dare say that honorable sena- tors have heard of a run called Yongala, which was cut up for settlement, and which is situated not far from Terowie. It had a bi-weekly mail, and I think that it was carried on horseback. The Government wanted the residents to pay for- a third mail a week, otherwise it could not be approved. It has a rising population ; there is a number of farmers living in the neighbourhood. It was not the farming community which asked for “the establishment of penny postage. What they desired was to get letters as often as possible. What the people of Yongala wanted was to get three mails a week. They had paid for a service for one year, and when they consulted me on the matter, I advised them not to pay any -more. I am not blaming any particular Government in this matter. In my opinion, the Post and Telegraph Department was starved throughout its branches in years gone by, but not by any particular Government. I think that this motion is in the right direction. The requirements of the farming community should be considered, but Senator Pearce referred to them in an extreme manner.
– They are now considered
– The honorable senator spoke about individuals, but there is quite a number of persons who should be encouraged in their occupations. If the extra expenditure would amount to only a few hundred pounds, it should beincurred.
– That is not the case.
- Senator McColl has stated that it is.
– He is absolutely inaccurate.
– The figures were obtained from the Department. .
– In the case o:f Yongala, the additional expenditure required was very small indeed. I experienced a great deal of trouble, but at last the Minister yielded to my application. Again, during the regime of the Deakin Government, the people of Snowtown, in South Australia, entered into ail agreement to have telephone communication established between that town and other centres. They lodged a deposit, but for a considerable time they were not allowed a connexion. As a member of the Postal Commission, Senator de Largie knows of this case, because Mr. Waddy, the Deputy Postmaster-General, in’ his evidence before that body, referred to the position of Snowtown. When I interviewed this officer at Adelaide, he said to me, “ I gave evidence about this case before the Postal Commission. It is a delicate matter for me to speak of, but as my statement is in print, I may as well tell you the facts. I need £6 to make the connexion with Snowtown, but I have not the money.” That is how the Department has served a number of persons.
– Who was in office at that time?
– The DeakinGovernment. I am not standing up here to denounce any Government, though this is a splendid subject for an electioneeringspeech.
– That state of affairs does riot exist now.
– This occurred at the time when Mr. Deakin, as Leader of the Fusion Government, was calling out for a Dreadnought or two to give to England, although the Government had not£6 to give to the postal authorities to make a telephone connexion with Snowtown. There is no doubt that the Post and Telegraph Department has been starved all along the line. 1 hope that Senator Pearce will not look upon this as a party question. Before I was elected to the Senate, 1 told the farming community to which I belonged that their interests would have my first and last consideration. The people in the city can get three deliveries a day, but the poor farmers in some parts can only get two mails a week, or even less.
– This Government is giving every consideration it possibly can.
– I hope that the Minister will keep his temper. I do hot intend to be unfair to the Government ; I have the greatest confidence in them, but I do not like to hear even a Minister attack a speaker on the other side without some degree of reason. I do all that I can to promote the interests of the farming community.
– Do you assume that this motion is moved in the interests of the farmers ?
– Does the Minister say that it is not?
– If you say it is, you say what is not correct.
– You are a mean man.
– I wish to be heard, please. If I had had the forethought of Senator McColl, I would have brought this matter before the Senate.
– There seems to be a conspiracy.
– There is no conspiracy. Senator McColl and I, as a rule, do not act together politically, but whenever I find him fighting for fair play to persons in the back country I shall stand by him.
– You are easily led.
– I am in favour of the report of the Postal Commission except in regard to this subject. The outside workers, the developers of the Commonwealth, must receive more consideration, and if the expenditure of a few thousand pounds will meet their wants it can be obtained by means of the land tax.
– There is no doubt that every honorable senator would like to afford all possible postal and telephonic facilities, not only to every district in Australia, whether large or small, but to every individual. But in this, as in other Federal matters, we have to ascertain whether it is a business proposition. How far are we prepared to extend these postal facilities to outlying settlers, whom I sympathize with quite as much as does the mover of the motion, without involving the Department in too great a loss? If we are going to run the Department regardless of cost, and to grant facilities to every district, where is the money to’ come from? But if it is intended to run the Department at as small a loss as possible consistently with granting reasonable facilities to people generally, then we are brought face to face with the position which exists to-day. I think that the members of each House of thisParliament could render better service to Australia generally if they would show a little more backbone when, in travelling round the country, they are met with complaints about improper or insufficient postal facilities. They should tell persons who feel themselves aggrieved that under our present system the country cannot afford the additional expenditure. It might be very nice for us if we could meet half-a-dozen or a dozen of our constituents in any isolated place andpromise to do all that we possibly could to get postal facilities for them, but I submit that in the interests of the taxpayers generally our duty is to look at the other side of the question. It might be advisable at times, even at the risk of incurring some displeasure, to say that we could not support a request. I, in common with every member of the Senate, have been approached often on this subject. In travelling through Tasmania a few months ago, I was met frequently with these complaints from half-a-dozen or a dozen, or perhaps twenty, settlers in out. lying places, where it would have cost a good deal to provide the desired facilities. The question I put to them was, “ What is likely to be your revenue; can you show the Department that the loss will not be too great?”
– You did not put that question to the people of the country when you gave them penny postage.
– If the honorable senator was in his place at the time he ought to know that I was one of the few who said that the Senate would make one of the greatest mistakes that have ever been made in this country if it sanctioned penny postage.
– I had forgotten the fact.
– I accept the explanation of my honorable friend. One is debarred, I suppose, by the Standing Orders from referring to penny postage on this motion.
– What I wish to point out is that it is a fair thing for a country resident to say, “I am contributing to the loss incurred by the introduction of penny postage, but the people generally will not contribute to the cost of running my mail.”
– Quite against my vote Australia is losing about ,£500,000 a year owing to an Act which was passed last session. I regret the fact just as keenly as ever I did, because I think that the right people are not receiving the benefit of that legislation. People residing in outlying districts are far more deserving of consideration than those who have reaped the benefit of penny postage. The complaints which have been made by Senator McColl and others on the ground of the lack of postal facilities in remote districts have only strengthened the feeling to which I gave expression, some time ago, when I said that we had not arrived at a time when we could afford to introduce penny postage, and that it would be a mistake to introduce it. It may be only remotely connected with this question, but it is owing to the big loss of revenue in the Post and Telegraph Department, amounting to about ,£500,000 in the first year during which penny postage has been in force, that we are not now in a position to extend to country people the postal facilities which they richly deserve. Every member of this Parliament will very soon have to face the matter,, and tell his constituents that if the Post and Telegraph Department is to be anything like self-supporting a halt must be called; that we cannot continue to extend postal and telegraphic facilities in the lavish way in which, according to the statement of the Minister, we are now doing. He has shown clearly that the present Government are accountable for a loss of revenue from the Post and Telegraph Department by giving facilities which were never afforded to the people by any previous Administration. I know that, during the first si.x years of the existence of this Parliament, in common with others, I was always trying to secure postal facilities for settlers in remote districts, but we were always in those days met by the Postmaster- General with the statement, “ Let me know what the cost of the proposed service is likely to be, and what revenue is likely to be derived from it, and I shall then be able to tell you whether it can be granted or not.” Now, however, there is a hard and fast rule laid down, and it is being followed. Under this rule, where a few settlers are found in remote centres, facilities are afforded them, if they are prepared to meet half the loss involved. Under previous Administrations, in such cases the same facilities would be denied the settlers altogether, unless they could guarantee to cover the whole of the loss involved. This is a question which may well be approached in a non-party spirit.
– I did not approach k in any party spirit.
– I am not saying that the honorable senator did so. I am rather sorry that references have been made to party in connexion with this matter. I should like to say that I think we shall make a mistake in the interests of the general taxpayers if we pass this motion, seeing that the Department is now run at a tremendous loss, because of the extension of postal and telegraphic facilities already given.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Every one must sympathize with the difficulties experienced by people in remote settlements in securing anything like adequate mail facilities. In the State I represent, there are many grievances on this account/ All those who believe that we should do what we can to settle Australia should be prepared to make settlement as pleasant as possible for the settlers by providing reasonable facilities to enable them to maintain some connexion at least with’ civilization. In many cases, there are what might be termed undue facilities given in large towns and cities compared with the very meagre services provided in country places. In this matter, my sympathies are wholly with the country people, because a city is a good place to live in anyhow, I do not know that any of our Governments have done all they might have done to afford postal facilities to the residents of remote districts; but the motion submitted by Senator McColl, if carried out, might have an entirely opposite effect to that which he desires. I do not accuse the honorable senator of submitting his motion as a party matter, but I take it that, his sympathies being with the country, his desire is that the residents of country districts should be relieved of the penalties which he considers they now have to bear. It will be admitted that some time ago it was a very common occurrence for the PostmasterGeneral, when asked to extend postal facilities to remote districts, to say that he had no money to do so. Under the existing arrangement,’ the residents of remote places are securing postal facilities by bearing half the loss of the services, who, under the previous system, would be denied those services altogether. In the circumstances, Senator McColl will hardly serve the country districts by abolishing the payments now demanded, as that might lead to a refusal to grant postal facilities to remote districts in the future. I move as an amendment upon the motion -
That all the words after the word “ mails “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ has been of great assistance to many country districts in extending to them postal facilities which had been denied by the policy of previous Administrations.”
The motion would then read -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the policy of the Postal Department in compelling country residents to give a financial contribution for carrying the mails has been of great assistance to many country districts in extending to them postal facilities which had been denied by the policy of previous Administrations.
– But this was the policy of previous Administrations.
– No, it was not. I read a minute which showed that the policy of the previous Administration was to charge the residents with the whole of the toss.
– -It is surely better that the residents of remote districts should be required to make a financial contribution rather than that they should be required to meet the whole of the loss. The question is whether they shall have to pay the whole of the loss or only half the loss, or be denied postal facilities altogether. The difficulty of providing postal facilities in remote districts is one that is unavoidable in scattered settlements ; but, while it may be hard that the residents in such places should be called upon to bear the whole or half the loss on postal services, it would be still harder if they were denied such services altogether. Without elaborating the matter further, I submit my amendment.
– I did- hope, when I first saw this motion on the business-paper, that the de bate which would necessarily be created by the consideration of the matter, would be carried on, as I think it was launched, free from any evidence of party feeling. It is to be regretted that, in his remarks on this motion, the Minister of Defence elected to take an entirely different tone, and went so far, indeed, as to affirm that the motion was brought forward, not in the interests of those whose claims are set out in it, but merely to secure a party advantage.
– Hear, hear !
– If every matter that is brought forward here is to be treated in that way, it will render serious discussion in the Senate little better than a farce.
– I do not treat every matter in that way ; but I do treat this motion in that way.
– The Minister of Defence has latterly given evidence ‘ of great restiveness upon the expression of any opinion differing from his own. I venture to point out to the honorable senator that his position at the Minister’s desk does not exempt him, or the policy of the Administration to which he belongs, from criticism. I go further, and say that it is altogether a mistake on the honorable senator’s part to exhibit the irritation which he has shown on more than one occasion when any one has ventured to express an opinion that does not square with his own. I make these remarks as one Who is unable to support the motion”. I take second place to no one in my desire to help country residents. There are probably few men in this Chamber who know better than myself the disabilities under which they labour. Whilst I cannot subscribe to the motion in its present form, I think a much more liberal policy ought to be displayed towards those who elect to be the pioneers of this country than has been so far shown by the present, or any previous Commonwealth Government. I admit at once that I have no information to guide me as to how far we can go in this direction. It would take a very close examination of the claims put in by different, districts, and the financial position, not merely of the Post ann Telegraph Department,, but of the country as a whole, before onecould say outright that there should be no contribution, or that we should continue the policy of. Requiring a contribution. It appears to me that the interests of country districts have been neglected because they have been the interests of a few people in each case. We do not treat other matters connected with administration in the same way. For instance, in connexion with police protection and education, where claims are made for extension, we do not at once consider whether what is proposed will :pay. We take all the circumstances into account, and we recognise that in such cases we ought to look a little ahead of present requirements.
– The honorable senator will admit that the provision for education is wretchedly poor.
– Probably Senator Rae will agree that in the amendment of the Education Act recently passed in New South Wales, that State is carrying education to a point never hitherto reached. It is being extended now in a way which entitles every citizen of the State to view the system with some measure of pride, since almost, every small household can command the services of a State school teacher. I think that in the matter of postal facilities we should not look too closely to the prospects of an immediate financial return from the services provided. We should offer every facility we can to enable our settlers to develop and open up the country. We should be a little bit ahead of requirements rather than behind them. It does not seem to me to be possible to strike a balance with respect to every individual mail. Those who ,to-day contribute their share towards subsidizing country mail services are at the same time helping to contribute towards mails elsewhere. There is a loss on the penny postage system. The people who have scarcely any mail facilities at all are contributing towards that loss. We have heard to-day, in answer to a question, the cost of special trains which convey English mails from Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Those mail trains do not pay. Yet every remote settler who is to-day devoid of even a weekly or fortnightly mail service has to contribute to that special subsidy, chiefly for the benefit of people who reside in the big cities.
– The country settler shares in the benefit of penny postage.
– In addition to that benefit. which he shares in common with everybody else, he is, as a taxpayer, called upon to contribute towards the loss. That is to say, by what he contributes to the Treasury he is helping to subsidize services which chiefly benefit the big centres of population, enabling them to get their mails at much less cost than would otherwise be the case. There are many settlers in this country upon whom the Post Office confers scarcely any advantages. I might mention my own case. Although I am in a comparatively settled district, I have to send a man 5 miles to get my mail; and I am much better off than many hundreds of settlers, who get no mail at all, and yet are called upon, in common with every other citizen, to contribute towards the cost of other people’s mails. Without going too minutely into this matter, however, I cannot concur in laying it down as a general proposition that under no circumstances shall there be financial contribution to mail services. To do so would be to shut out facilities enjoyed by those who desire them, and are willing to pay something to get them. I know of many cases of private and semi-private mail services, for instance, where arrangements are made, by way of subsidy or contribution, to carry mails from a particular point where the public mail ceases to a homestead some distance away. This motion would shut out that kind of thing, and it is not desirable to do so. If Senator McColl looks at the terms of his motion carefully, he will see that it goes further than he desires. His main purpose is, I take it, to secure a more liberal policy with regard ,to the remote centres. If that be his real design, I am entirely with him. But the motion goes beyond that point, and for that reason I regret that I am unable to support it. With regard to Senator Rae’s amendment, one does not know whether he submitted it seriously or not. If he did, I regret that he has brought into this debate an element of party discord. It was surely unnecessary to do that.
– Surely the honorable senator does not accuse me of being a party man?
– It is not necessary to do so, because the honorable senator stands self-confessed by this amendment. He asks us practically to condemn previous Administrations.
– It is merely a statement of fact.
– It may be a fact ; but we are trying to get some indication of policy with regard to remote settlements, and in order to do that there is no need to enter upon a condemnation of this or any other Government. Certainly, so far as previous Administrations are concerned, it does not matter, because they are dead and buried. In that respect, they have merely preceded the present Government. I regret, however, that for this reason it is impossible for me to support the amendment. I cannot join in a wholesale condemnation of Governments which, within the limits of their financial capacity, did a great deal more than the present Government is doing. Previous Administrations were always hampered bv what is known as the Braddon “Blot.” They had not the financial freedom which is enjoyed by this Government. What is more, they did not have the handling of the very handsome and expanding revenue which has been flowing into the Treasury of late years.
– Neither had they such great liabilities as the present Government has incurred.
– It is true that the liabilities have increased, but that is because there is the revenue to meet them. The works on account of which the liabilities are incurred would have been taken up many years ago, irrespective of the party in power, had the financial strength to deal with them been present. With this greater financial freedom which, fortunately for them, marked the entrance of the present Government into office, a little more liberality might have been shown in this respect. The Government have been liberal in many other directions. They have not shown a stingy hand where there was a possibility of benefiting large numbers of people. In this case, the numbers are few. But the motion has been launched on behalf of people who are doing a great work for this country. We should do all we can to stimulate settlement in the remote districts, remembering that, though the outlay may not come back to us in the shape of postal revenue, we shall get some benefit in the form of Customs revenue, whilst at the same time considerably increasing the productive capacity of the community. For that reason, while I want to see a much more liberal policy pursued with regard to our remote country districts - and that not merely in respect to Postal administration, but also as to telephones and other services - at the same time, I regret that I cannot subscribe to the doctrine that under no circumstances should financial contributions be accepted.
– I wish to express my surprise at what I cannot describe as anything better than the regrettable outburst of the Minister of Defence. It is a pity that he should have shown such heat in his reply to Sena tor McColl’s speech. On the face of it, the motion was submitted in terms which appeared to me to be perfectly innocent and devoid of any improper motives. When a senator brings a motion of this kind before the Senate, if a Minister is to take it up, turn it over, and twist it inside out, for the purpose of finding some ulterior motive behind it, the tone of our debates will be lowered. I understood Senator McColl, at the outset, to say that he himself was ignorant of the state of things that he described until a little while ago, when information was conveyed to him from the Post and Telegraph Department concerning a particular country mail service. On making inquiries, he was told that if the present system were abolished altogether the total loss to the country would be something like ^1,000. If that were the factif the abolition of this practice, which would give greater conveniences-
– It is not a fact.
– If it were a fact that these extra conveniences could be given to the outlying parts at a cost of not more than .£1,000 a year, Senator McColl was not making an extraordinary request when he asked that an alteration in the practice of the Department should be made, and the £1,000 charged against the whole community.
– It would be money well spent.
– I think it would be. If, in his reply, the Minister had shown that Senator McColl was altogether mistaken, and that, instead of the loss being £1,000 a year, it would run into many thousands of pounds, he would have put a different complexion upon the whole subject.
– The Minister did say that. He said that an alteration of the policy would cost ^40,000 a year.
– I said that if the Government were to take up every mail service that is asked for without a contribution, the cost would be £[40,000 a year.
– The motion does not go so far. No one would be so unreasonable as to expect so much. There are limits.
– At what limit would the honorable senator stop?
– I am not going into that phase of the matter at the present moment. If the Minister had calmly replied to Senator McColl, without dragging in this party business, and had shown that the drain on the revenue would be so great as to make the demand altogether unjustifiable, we should all have been with him. I do not think that any one here is anxious to make too great a drain on the revenue to supply the wants of a comparatively few individuals.
– I quoted from the Postmaster-General information which I thought would convince the honorable senator.
– I listened to what Senator McColl had to say, and he did not appear to me to cast any reflection on the Government. Take the whole history of the Post Office from the commencement, and you will find that it has been - as it ought to be - a story of continuous progress. Every Administration has endeavoured to do something to develop postal facilities. It is .only right that they should have done so. When you are running a Department of this” kind, it is quite right that the policy should be . as liberal and as progressive as it can be made.. I do not blame the GovernmentI give them every credit - if they have gone further than any previous Ministry have done in this respect. More power to them ; but still, the less reason is.there why there should have been such an outburst of temper simply because this motion was introduced.
– The honorable senator mistakes energy for temper. I had a good case, .and, of course, I put it- as well as I could.
– I do not think that the Minister had a good case. He was not justified in saying, at the outset, that Senator McColl had some ulterior motive in bringing forward this motion.
– It was made to appear that we were victimizing the country residents.
– If Senator McColl had done that, it would have called for condemnation. But every Ministry that has been in office in the Commonwealth would have been equally to blame.
– But the other Ministries are dead ; this one is not.
– Yes, and so will this Ministry be dead and buried in due season,, make no mistake about that. The Post and Telegraph Department is a great commercial institution. In the ordinary sense, you may say that any commercial department run by a Government ought to be made to pay its way. “ That is a sound business proposition to put forward. I cannot say, how ever, that the Post Office ought to be made to pay out of its revenue for the erection of new buildings and the construction of new works. In that sense, we cannot expect a commercial undertaking of this kind to pay its way. But any business man knows that sometimes it is good policy to undertake work that does not pay, in the hope that, after a while, it will prove remunerative. To speak colloquially, that policy is “ Throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel.”
– We do that with our railways.
– I was about to mention the railways. Our railway authorities sometimes run a line out into some sparsely-populated district, where they know that it cannot pay at once. But they believe that by giving the people facilities for settlement, in due time the revenue will be sufficient to make the line pay. As a rule, I think that they are justified in pursuing that policy. The fact has been established that the more facilities we grant to people to move about, the more do they avail themselves of those facilities, so that what in the initial stages may prove to be an unprofitable undertaking, becomes eventually a profitable one. I recognise that the adoption of penny postage will result in an immediate loss, but in the course of a very fe,v years the volume of business passing through the post will have so increased as to compensate for that loss. In the meantime who gets the benefit of penny postage? Certainly not. the residents of the back-blocks.
– A very large number of them do. The residents of the cities were previously paying only id. postage upon their letters.
– Only in Victoria.
– And in Sydney.
– The larger centres of population undoubtedly benefit mostly by the adoption of penny postage. The residents of country districts do not derive much advantage from it, because each of them writes perhaps only one letter per week, and if each had to pay 2d. postage upon that letter they would be quite satisfied so long as they were granted increased mail facilities. Penny postage is of no assistance to people residing in the outlying portions of the country. But if we can extend increased postal facilities to them at an additional cost of £1,000 a year-
– If a concession be made to one person it must be made to every person who is similarly circumstanced.
– Every case ought to be considered on its merits. I do not suggest that the Postal Department should grant a mail service to one individual if he chooses to ask for it. That would be reducing the matter to an absurdity. But where there is a settled population-
– What population?
– Where there are perhaps twenty houses–
– We must draw the line- somewhere.
– If the Minister, in reply to Senator McColl, had said that the adoption of this motion would cast too heavy a burden on the Department I should have hesitated to vote for it.
– I said that; but Senator McColl did not say where we ought to draw the line.
– Until a short time ago Senator McColl was not even aware of the existence of this arrangement.
– Then he could not have had much correspondence with his country electors.
– I do not know. I have had a good many representations made to me in respect of postal matters, and generally, when I have put them before the authorities, they have received fair consideration. The Postal Department has done its best, I think, but if by this motion it is induced to do a little more than it has hitherto accomplished, no injury will be done to the country. I regret that Senator Rae should have attempted to amend the motion so as to give it a party complexion. I am quite sure that Senator McColl had no ulterior motive when he submitted it for our consideration. If the Minister had said in his reply that the adoption of the proposal would add £[40,000 or £[50,000 to the expenditure of the Department I should have hesitated to support it. But if, for an additional expenditure of £[1,000 a year, we can make the conditions of life better than they are for residents in the outlying portions of this country I believe that we should incur it.
– If the motion merely involves an additional expenditure, of £[1,000 a year it cannot be a very great burden when it is spread over the entire Commonwealth.
– Exactly. It is a mere flea-bite. But, if the Minister says that the adoption of the proposal will mean an increased expenditure of a great many thousands of pounds a year, I think that we ought to refuse to commit the Department to it. Before voting upon the question I should like to know exactly how matters stand. I do hope that Senator Rae will withdraw his amendment, and not degrade the motion by making it appear that its mover had submitted it in a party spirit and with a desire to reflect upon the Government.
– J do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition or Senator Vardon has read the motion, but to me it reads like a .direct motion of censure upon the Postal Department. What is the duty of a Minister? To defend his Department. Yet because the Minister of Defence, speaking on behalf of the PostmasterGeneral, put forward a spirited defence upon a direct motion of censure, we have the Leader of the Opposition rising in his place and with an air of injured innocence complaining of his action:
– The Opposition is not supporting the motion. Why say that its submission was a party move?
– I feel sure that the Leader of the Opposition has not read it. For his benefit, therefore, I will rea3 it. It affirms -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the policy of the Postal Department in compelling country residents to give a financial contribution for carrying the mails is unfair, and should be discontinued.
There is’ the direct statement that the administration of the Department is unfair. Now the Department is under the management of the Government, and consequently the motion affirms that the management of the Government is unfair. What more direct motion of censure could be tabled?
– It is not a motion of censure, because the policy of a financial contribution by the people has been in existence much longer than the Government have been in office. Therefore, it is not the policy of the Government which is at stake, but that of the Department which has maintained it for years.
– By their silence honorable senators opposite have hitherto agreed that that policy was the correct one to adopt. But as soon as the Government relieve country residents of one-half of the cost of carrying their mails, their action becomes unfair. I would have opposed the motion even in the absence of the amendment. The great difficulty experienced by country residents is to convince the Postal Department of the disabilities with which they have to contend, and of the advisableness of granting them a mail service. Whenever reasonable ground is shown to exist for granting a mail service to rural residents, or for giving them perhaps a tri-weekly instead of a biweekly service, they are told that if they will contribute one-half of the additional cost the Government will give their proposal a trial. Such a system is not unfair. It is not a disadvantage to them, but an advantage, because it gives them an opportunity of proving that they have a good claim. Senators Vardon and Millen have urged that Senator McColl did not mean what he said when he declared that the administration of the Department is unfair. But when we couple that declaration with his speech, in which he pointed out that city residents received three and four mail deliveries daily-
– The statement is correct.
– But the fact that city residents receive three or four deliveries daily is no reason why country residents should expect to be equally well served. I think I recollect Senator McColl saying that he was riot speaking on behalf of all country residents, but merely on be: half of a limited number, when he affirmed that the entire cost of making the proposed alteration would not represent more than £1,000 yearly. In the case of New South Wales, he said that it would mean the expenditure of only an additional £700. So that he was merely speaking on behalf of those who have gained mail services upon the understanding that they should contribute a certain sum annually. These represent a very few persons indeed. To save this limited number from a contribution of £1,000 annually he wishes to make the country believe that he is anxious to render a service to all rural residents. Senator W. Russell supported him in that connexion.
– If I had thought of it before, I would have submitted the motion myself.
– But the honor: able senator would have moved it in a form which would have benefited not only the few who have a mail service, but the many who have not, and who are entitled to one.
If it be merely a question of granting to country residents better mail facilities than they already possess, there is no necessity to submit a motion of censure on the Postal Department, because we all desire to do what is fair to them. But we are not all anxious to make it appear that rural residents are being unfairly treated by comparison with those who reside in more thickly populated centres. I hope that I shall never sit behind a Government whose members will not spiritedly reply to a direct charge which, in essence and in fact, is untrue.
. -I think that Senator McColl scarcely thought out the grounds on which he desired to travel before he submitted this motion. Like Senator Gardiner, I think that his arguments will convey false hopes to some of the people who live in far-distant parts of Australia. My knowledge of the back country’ in Western Australia is of such a character as to enable me to state that large numbers of persons cannot get a mail except once in two months during certain portions of the year. Yet they are citizens of this country, and contribute equally with city residents to every source of public revenue.
– Yet you are opposing this motion.
– Yes, because I think that the motion is entirely useless and wrong. If you pass fifty resolutions you cannot alter the circumstances which I have just related, unless, of course, you could manage to correspond by wireless telegraphy. The only facilities which are obtainable to cover the distances to be travelled are such as render it impossible to deliver mails in less ‘than two months during certain portions of the year. During the other portions of the year the mails are usually despatched once a month. Very rarely indeed is the period shorter than that. Senator Gardiner was quite right when he pointed out the great difficulty which we all experience from time to time, and that is to convince the control-: ling authorities, most of whom seldom go outside the General Post Office of the city in which they are located, that the people in the back country are labouring under the disabilities complained of, for the simple reason that they know nothing of the circumstances.
– What is your remedy for that?
– My opinion is that we shall have to continue the present system until these back country places become more densely populated, when we can increase, as is being done all over Australia, the postal facilities and arrangements. There are places which less than two years ago were getting a mail service once a month, but which are now getting a mail service three or four times a week. The improvement has been simply due to the growth of the population.
– Do you not wish to give some advantage to induce persons to go to the back-block places?
– I wish to give all the advantages which can possibly be extended to the country districts. Indeed, I am prepared to strain every point to provide them with the best facilities. My experience is that at the present moment the Postal authorities are moving in that direction. But they recognise the’ great difficulties which confront them just as plainly as we do. They have their own difficulties to surmount. I could mention portions of Western Australia in which there are only three or four settlers located in some cases 65 miles from a railway, and in others 30 miles from a road. How could we arrange’ to give them a regular postal service. Every one of these persons is, by reason of his citizenship, entitled equally with ourselves to the best postal facilities. But we must recognise that if we could compel the Government to extend postal facilities to all the persons situated in such places the revenue of the country would not meet the extra charges. That is the position.
– Do not be extravagant.
– The whole revenue would scarcely suffice to meet the extra cost of providing a mail service to all the persons in outlying places. If my honorable friend knows much about the back country, he must realize that fact.
– That is an overdrawn picture.
– It may be slightly overdrawn as regards the amount of money which would be wanted. But no one is in a position to-night to tell the Senate what the actual cost of such a service would be, or anything like it. Probably, when the Minister stated that the cost would be £[30,000 or £40;000, he was thinking of the few people’ whom Senator McColl- referred to: Very likely he has not considered the people ‘ in other parts, who probably are much worse situated than many of those who have supplied Senator McColl with information. I think that the Postal authorities are doing whatever lies in their power to extend the best postal facilities to the outlying districts. I hope that they will continue to do all they possibly can in that direction. I am very much disinclined to support a motion of this character.
– I am very sorry that any honorable senator should think that there is anything of a party nature in this motion. I do not hold that view. I am quite sure that Senator McColl referred to the policy of the Department for years back, and not merely to the policy of the present Government. The motion was not intended, I take it, to raise a party issue. Far from it. I wish that it had been worded differently, and that we had been asked to affirm that this system should be discontinued j but, apparently, it is not to be discontinued. There was a good deal of truth in the remarks of Senator Henderson. It must be remembered that the persons iri outside districts do contribute to the revenue. Other persons get the benefit of penny postage to Great Britain, but that is of very little advantage to the people in the back districts, who have to pay their share of the indirect loss on that service. We recognise our duty to them by extend.ing to them the same telegraph facilities as we give elsewhere, for I understand that a telegram can be sent from one part of Australia to the other for one shilling.
– But these persons have not a telegraph-office in which to lodge a telegram.
– At all events, where there is a telegraph-office, persons do enjoy that advantage. I would be glad if Senator McColl could see his way to modify his motion, because it has the appearance of finding fault with the Department which happens to be under the present Administration j though I think that he’ had no such intention. It is the system which he objected to, and not the present Government. I believe that good will come from the motion, whether it is carried or not, because -it will assure the Postal authorities that they have the sympathy of the Senate in any efforts which they may put forth to increase the comfort of ‘ the fine pioneers of this country. I would like to see every possible advantage given to persons who labour under such disadvantages as they” do;
– I think that the more this matter is discussed, the more will the feeling which Senator Walker has expressed commend itself to the Senate. I believe that even the Minister of Defence, if he will look carefully into the motion from a disinterested point of view, as he ought to do> will see that no reflection on the administration, or the policy of the Postal Department, was intended; because, had there been the slightest intention on the part of Senator McColl to do so, the motion would have been framed to convey that view. I draw the attention of the Minister to the wording of the motion, and point out to him that, by the phrase, “ the policy of the Postal Department “ is meant a settled, established administration. I think that the Minister is supersensitive.
– In my reply, I showed that the policy of the present Administration was better than that of any previous Government.
– Comparisons are always odious, and the honorable senator, I submit, used his comparison unfairly to the mover of this motion. Surely it was quite sufficient for his purpose to show that, if any contrast were intended, the policy of the present Government was more liberal than the policy of previous Governments.
– That is what I did.
– Why did the honorable senator import any heat into the debate? What followed from his introduction of party spirit ? One of his most devoted followers on the back bench submitted an amendment, or, to quote an old proverb, “As the old cock crowed the young one cackled.” If any such ulterior purpose as has been suggested had been intended, Senator McColl would no doubt have used these words, “ That iri the opinion of the Senate, the present policy of the Postal Department is unfair,” accentuating his position by some kind of comment’ or reflection on that policy. The omission of the word “present” is more or less significant. Senator McColl made no reference to the Ministry, I understand, in addressing the Senate. Apart from that, what does it matter to us whether the present policy is a bit better than the past policy, if it is unfair . or insufficient? It is only, if I may use. the expression, a sort of hedge behind which to hide while one is “under criticism.
– Can a Department .have a policy apart from the Minister at the head of it?
– Yes, very frequently.
– Minister after Minister in more than one State, and sometimes Parliament, has been defied by the head of a Department, and it has sometimes been necessary to apply a charge of political dynamite to such officials. Exception has been taken to the wording of the motion, and the Leader of the Opposition, even against one of his supporters, has criticised its wording. Much comment might be made upon the use of the word “unfair.” There is a sense in which its use might reasonably be objected to, but there is a sense also in which it might very pro’perly be used as applied to the way m. which the requirements of the people of the country districts have been met. I could quite understand a deputation of country residents appearing before the Postmaster-General, and claiming that, in view of the fact that they contribute to meet the loss on postal facilities afforded to. the residents of cities arid towns, it is unfair that they should be asked to bear this additional burden to secure postal facilities for themselves. I venture to say that a Postmaster-General who, in such circumstances, would exhibit irritation, or impute unworthy political motives to the members of such a deputation, would be unfit for his position by reason of. his petulant irritability. Still, I agree with Senator Millen that the use of the word “unfair “ in the motion before the Senate is perhaps injudicious. Senator Gardiner hit the nail on the head in this matter, when he. said that the great difficulty is to make the officials of the Post and Telegraph Department understand the disabilities under which putlying settlers labour. I cordially indorse the honorable senator’s view of the matter, and it points to a possible solution of the difficulty. I know of instances in which the Department has been deserving of what Senator Gardiner has said about it, and it has sometimes been found to be more than impossible, if I may be permitted an Hibernianism, to make the departmental officials grasp the means by which the difficulties of back-blocks settlers may be removed. The Department suffers from too much red-tape. It is very difficult indeed to lay down hard-and-fast rules’ for providing postal facilities which will apply fairly .to the varying conditions of the .Commonwealth. In the circumstances, it may be said that” the proper carrying out qf the duties of the head of the. Post and Tele graph ‘Department calls for a combination of . the highest heroism and patriotism. It is obvious that it is a most difficult Department to administer in such a way as to give satisfaction to the residents of every part of this vast country.
– And it is generally the junior member of the Cabinet who is appointed to the post.
– And the duties sometimes almost kill the junior member of the Cabinet.
– It is a question of “trying it on the dog first.”
– I decline to search my mind in order to determine which particular member of the present Ministry the honorable senator’s observation should be applied to. Senator McColl’s motion, however worded, should have the effect of inducing the Postmaster-General to consider whether, in certain cases, the regulation with respect to contributions for postal services may not be relaxed. I believe, with the Minister of Defence, that a great deal of discretion will have to be exercised, because there may be some requests which it would be impossible for the Government to accede to. I might mention cases in point, but, as I have presented them through the proper channel in the Department, it is ‘ unnecessary that I should refer to them here.
– Are there not cases in which people are very glad to contribute to the cost in order to secure the desired accommodation ?
– There is no doubt that there are. Senator McColl may not be as familiar as are senators representing Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia with the great distances which have to be covered in those States, and while in many cases the PostmasterGeneral may cordially sympathize with settlers, he is entitled to point out the great expense which would be involved in acceding to their requests. There are cases in which the Department has had to decline to provide telephonic and postal facilities, even though the settlers interested have been prepared to meet the whole of the expense. I hope no party feeling will continue to be displayed in connexion with this matter.
– Is the honorable senator sure that it is absent from Senator McColl’s mind?
– I think so, and I think it was hypercritical for the Minister of Defence to read what he did into the motion. I would ask Senator McColl,now that he has listened to the debate, whether it would not be- possible for him to modify the wording of his motion in such a way as to make it acceptable to all parties in the Senate.
– I have been surprised to hear honorable senators opposite constantly asserting that there is no party flavour about this motion. If that be so, why did Senator McColl submit it in this form? Instead of stating that the action of the Post and Telegraph Department is unfair, and should be discontinued, he might have suggested that it should be a recommendation to the Department to abolish the particular charges of which he complains. If he had taken that course, no honorable senator on this side could have suggested that there was any party feeling displayed by him. I am not surprised that the Minister of Defence should wax warm in discussing such a motion when it plainly suggests that the Labour Government are not doing their duty to those who are unfortunate enough to have to live in the back-blocks in the. matter of affording them proper postal facilities.
Senator St. Ledger was bold enough to use the farm-yard simile of the old cock crowing, and the young cock learning from him, and I think I may say, to complete the farmyard simile, that we have since had the privilege of listening to the old hen cackling. Some of the protestations of honorable senators opposite might very well have been left unsaid in view of the objectionable terms of the motion. In my own State, during the past eighteen months, the administration has been more liberal to the residents of the back-blocks than that of any previous Government.
– How far are the backblocks of Tasmania from postal facilities ?
– I admit that, in Tasmania, the “Garden State” of the Commonwealth, distances are not great, but in some parts of that State, the means of communication are very bad, and owing to the mountainous nature of the country, some settlements are almost inaccessible. I have, on more than one occasion, waited upon the Postmaster-General to voice complaints of the residents of such regions, and have always been met in a very reasonable way. I might quote specific instances if it were necessary to do so. I can mention that the present Government promised the State Government of Tasmania that they would’ provide communication with the almost inaccessible Port Davey by telephone, at a fairly heavy expense. The request to do so was not entertained by any previous Administration. The present Federal Government have provided the necessary facilities in view of possible shipwrecks.
They have also provided postal facilities for the benefit of the residents in the south of Tasmania. At the request of an honorable member in another place they have established a motor car service for carrying the mails on Sundays between Launceston and Hobart, and in this way have enabled the residents of southern Tasmania to get their mails a day sooner than they otherwise would. I mention these matters to show the liberal way in which the present Government have endeavoured to improve the facilities afforded the people. I believe that this Government will have great problems to face, involving considerable expenditure, within the near future. When the report of the Postal Commission is discussed-
– Order !
– I must not refer to that matter; but I can say that I believe it will be found, at any rate, that the Government will have to face very heavy new expenditure in the near future, on account of the Postal Department. Consequently, £40,000 is not to be lightly thrown away just because an honorable senator sitting on the Opposition benches desires to make a name for himself, and to gain a certain amount of political capital by standing forth as the champion of the people of the back-blocks. All of us are willing to do whatever we can for those who live in the remote regions of this country. But I do not think that it is judicious - in fact, it is silly - for any member of Parliament to try to make political capital by submitting a motion which leaves it to be inferred that the present Administration is not doing its duty towards those who do not possess the same facilities as do those who live close to railway lines. I trust that Senator Rae’s amendment will be carried, and that we shall thus affirm the principle that the present Government has manfully tackled the great difficulties that it has had to face in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department since it assumed control.
– I am not surprised at Senator McColl taking action in this matter, though I am surprised at the terms of his motion in respect of their width. I was, however, greatly astonished at the information given by the Minister of Defence in reply, as to the policy adopted by this Government with respect to contributions from residents of districts asking for extended postal facilities. The policy explained by Senator Pearce was not that which was pursued from the inception of the Commonwealth. Since the first Parliament met I have been continuously in correspondence with the Post and Telegraph Department with respect to facilities desired by residents in various parts of my own State. It was the policy of the Department to enter into a very nice calculation as to the probable revenue to be derived from a requested new service, and the cost of conveying the mail. They then called upon the local residents to make up the deficiency. That, I say, was the original policy. I am very pleased, surprised, and gratified to know that it has been departed from to the extent stated by the Minister of Defence. I believe that that information will be news to many besides myself. Speaking from my own experience, I have on many occasions had to point out to residents who asked for facilities of this kind, that the Department could not, on its own principles of financial administration, comply with some of them. It will now be my pleasure to inform those of my constituents that the information I then gave was incorrect, and that another policy is now carried out by the Department. I shall be able to inform them that they can put their claims forward in future with some amount of confidence. I do not know how long the new policy has been in force.
– Since December of last year.
– It would have been wise if members of the Senate had been informed of the change, because I have no doubt that there are many beside myself who are in weekly, and almost daily, correspondence with constituents in respect of facilities asked for. Certainly I regarded the policy of the Department as long established, and though I did not personally approve of it, I had on many occasions to inform persons what that policy was, and what prospect they had of having their wants complied with. I do not agree with those honorable senators who consider that Senator McColl’s motion, even in its wording, is aimed against the present Government. It is aimed at what has been the established policy of the Department since the Commonwealth took over its administration. From my own individual point of view, I have always considered that the policy of the Department, in this and other matters, has been too casehardened and too illiberal. I have experienced - as other honorable senators have - from the officers of the Department, whenever I have had to approach them, the utmost courtesy and the fullest consideration. I do not attribute any blame to them whatever. But I do say that they have worked too much in grooves. While dealing most courteously with every application that has been brought under their notice, they have not allowed themselves to escape from the grooves which they had formed for themselves before they came over to the Commonwealth service, or immediately before the establishment of Federation. It is certainly gratifying to learn that the departmental officers are expanding a little in comparison with what has been their attitude during the last ten years. I recollect a personal experience in connexion with postal facilities that may interest the Senate. It illustrates the point that sometimes facilities that are desired are not obtained owing to the observance of a little too much formality, and that not merely by the departmental officers themselves, but even by residents in country districts. I remember that on one occasion - it was while a Government of which I was a member was in office - I was visiting a certain part of Tasmania, when a deputation waited upon me with regard to postal facilities. They represented a certain district which was then very young, but which gave promise of early and sturdy growth. They pointed out that they were situated between two post-offices 7 or 8 miles from either. They wanted their mails to be conveyed to them in their own district. I told them that they would have to estimate what would be the revenue, and also what would be the cost of meeting their wishes by having the letters conveyed out to them. Calculations were made, and there certainly was a very considerable discrepancy between the small amount of estimated revenue and the calculated cost of carrying the mails 7 or 8 miles at least once
Or twice a week. There was also a difficulty about the appointment of somebody who would take the responsibility of distributing the letters to the persons to whom they were addressed. I was talking in the street about this matter with a number of persons, and I got into particular conversation with a man who seemed very much interested in getting the mail out to this place. He began to tell me how many residents there were, how many there had been six months before, and how many he expected there would be in six months’ time. He appeared to possess great knowledge of the subject, and I asked him how it was that he was aware of so many details. He told me that he was a storekeeper, and that, as he was supplying the people at the outside settlement with commodities, he was able to measure fairly well the number of residents in that district. I asked him who supplied the people out there with their bread. He stated that he supplied them twice a week. I then said, “ What is wrong with your sending the mail out when you are sending out the bread?” He replied, “Well, I never thought of that.” I said, “ What will you do it for?” He mentioned a price, and I said at once, “ Well, write it down.” He went to his store, took a piece of paper, wrote down his price, and by the next mail I sent it on to the Post and Telegraph Department. The result was that within a fortnight or so those people had their mail being delivered twice a week. I believe that the service has since increased to a delivery three or four times a week.
– That was self help !
– It was really that. These people were surprised to find that the settlement of the difficulty was largely in their own hands, and that it could have been overcome without going through any considerable formalities. Senator McColl has pointed out that the total amount involved in the cessation of the present contributions of people towards country mail services is less than £[1,000 per annum. The Minister of Defence has properly pointed out, in reply, that the cost of making the change asked for is not to be measured by the amount of present contributions, because if the system were entirely abolished the non-payable districts would swell their applications so enormously that the cost to the Department would run up to about £[40,000. Now, in reply to a question put to the Minister representing the Postmaster- General to-day, I was informed that the special mail train which runs from Adelaide to Melbourne for the purpose- of bringing the English mail more expeditiously costs £[186 each time.
– The mail often comes by the express train.
– That is not the case with every incoming English mail. The special train which runs from Melbourne to Sydney costs £[218 every time.
I am informed that last Monday fortnight the English mail brought by the Orontes arrived in Melbourne on Monday morning. A special train left Melbourne for Sydney on the same day. I am told that she left at noon. The cost of that train was.£2i8. Notwithstanding the fact that the ordinary express was leaving at 5 o’clock in the afternoon.; the Department, at an increased cost of £218, engaged a special train simply to save five hours. I do not think that the special train travels any faster than the express. The point is, that when country residents see that, for the purpose of getting one English mail into Sydney five- hours earlier, the Post and Telegraph Department are prepared to spend £218 - although the residents of that city- may have three or four deliveries per day - they naturally ask, “ How many country mail services not now existing could be established for that expenditure?” The figures quoted by Senator McColl show that there are fifteen of these subsidized services in Victoria, the average subsidy amounting to £26, and the total sum paid being £387. In Queensland there are twelve of such services, the total . cost being .£l65. and the average £14. There are in South Australia three services, costing £44 1 03., or an average of £15. In Tasmania there are four, costing £26, or an average of £6 10s. In Queensland there are three, costing £108, or an average of £36. Yet, for accelerating the delivery of the English mail by five hours £404 was paid. These are discrepancies which justify country residents in urging that they should not be called upon to guarantee that a particular mail service shall pay from the “jump. I do not agree with the terms of the motion submitted by Senator McColl. In my opinion they are too wide. I believe that in the past the policy of the Department has been a case-hardened one. But the statement of the Minister of Defence shows that at last it is beginning to realize that it must get out of the old groove in which it has remained so long, and that we may expect better things in the future.
– The honorable senator must know, from his own experience of the Department, that very often these special trains have to be arranged in order to enable people at the other end to answer their correspondence by the outgoing mail.
– That is so, but the remark does not apply to each of the States.
– It applies to Sydney.
– Yes, sometimes. But in the case which I quoted the English mail would have reached Sydney in the ordinary way by the express train at 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning, whereas it arrived there by the special train at 5 o’clock that morning. The residents of Sydney would, therefore, have to post their letters in reply to their English correspondence in time to catch the Wednesday night’s train.
– And those letters would just miss that week’s outgoing mail.
– It is not every recipient of a letter by an inward English mail steamer who has to reply to it by “the first outward mail. But so far as Tasmania is concerned that is a matter of frequent occurrence, and, under these circumstances, I do not see why a special train should not be run between Launceston and Hobart, at a cost to the Government of £50. All this goes to show that the Department very properly facilitates correspondence, and country residents who are denied very many other advantages naturally desire that their correspondence with the outside world should also be facilitated. One outstanding feature that we ought to recollect in this connexion is that through no other Department more than through the Postal Department can the sense of Australian unity be brought home to those who reside in districts far removed from all the advantages of city and municipal life.
– I had not intended to speak upon this motion, because I had expected to initiate a discussion of a more general nature upon the Postal Service by submitting a proposal in regard to the report of the Postal Commission. I find, on referring to that report, that the question which is now under consideration was the one which received least attention at the hands of that body.
– Order ! I hope that the honorable senator is not going to debate the Postal Commission’s report. Although the discussion upon the motion under consideration has been fairly wide, I have not allowed anything in the nature of a debate upon the report presented by that body.
– I was merely making an incidental reference to a matter which has a direct bearing upon the motion that- is now under consideration. So- far as the Postal Commission is concerned, I say that this question did not receive as much attention as did many other matters, for the simple reason that time did not permit us to inquire into it as exhaustively as we would have liked. But whilst we did not give it a great deal of consideration some attention was paid to it, and I have here some figures which will prove instructive to honorable senators - figures which support the contention of the Minister of Defence that the few thousand pounds which Senator McColl declares would cover the cost of the new departure which he advocates would represent a mere bagatelle compared with the financial responsibility which would be thrust upon us if we were to initiate a change of policy in regard to our mail services. I would further point out that if we abolish any service that has been established, we must be prepared to substitute something better for it. In other words, if we dispense with all outside financial help, we must be prepared to foot the entire bill. According to the figures which are embodied in a table contained in the Postal Commission’s report, there are no less than 1,675 mail services in the Commonwealth which are conducted at a loss. There are 363 in New South Wales alone, and a still larger number in Victoria. In this State, there are 620 such services.
– That is strange, seeing that Victoria is a more compact State.
– Exactly. As a matter of fact, in Victoria there are nearly double the number of services which are run at a lass that there are in New South Wales. In Queensland there are 339 such services, which, considering its greater area, is not an unreasonably large number. In South Australia there are 142 mail services conducted at a loss, whilst in Western Australia, which is the largest State of the group, there are only 125. I ask honorable senators to recollect that in a State which comprises one-third of the Commonwealth, there are only 125 mail services of this description.
– But there are no people living in two-thirds of it.
– There are; although there may not be many. In the little fly-speck of Tasmania, there are eighty-six of these services. The loss incurred upon the whole of them aggregates £[63,980 annually.
– To which year does the honorable senator refer?
– To 1908, the year for which the latest figures were available to the Commission.
– And the charges have been reduced since then?
– Yes; they have been reduced by almost one half. Senator Keating has referred to the fact that the Postal Department has continued in one groove for some years. But that charge can scarcely lie against the present Government. An Administration which has reduced the postage upon letters from 2d. to id., has made an alteration of a very radical kind.
– The Department was agreeable to that change long ago. It was Parliament that would not sanction it.
– I am sorry that Parliament did sanction it. In my judgment, it was a -false step to take. As a result of that, innovation, unless we are prepared to face a much greater financial responsibility, our country mail services in the future will be even more severely handicapped than they have been. It was because I recognised that fact, that I voted against the present Government when the Penny Postage Bill was under consideration in this Chamber. But certainly the Ministry can claim that they have not followed conservative lines in the matter of the carriage of mails. When we reflect that the present loss upon mail services in the Commonwealth aggregates .£63,980 annually we can easily understand that if services were granted, irrespective of whether or not’ they were likely to pay, that amount would be multiplied several times over.
– Nobody advocates that.
– To use an old adage, we cannot very well afford to throw away dirty water until we have obtained clean. If we abolish the present system, we must substitute another for it. Senator McColl has identified himself with certain ideas of an anti-socialistic character which, if put into practice, would show up very badly indeed. Is the Government to be called upon at any expense to grant the best possible mail facilities ? If so, our finances will have a strain imposed upon them which it will be impossible for them to bear. All that we can reasonably expect is what the Government have proposed, and that is to give, as recommended by the Postal Commission, more liberal treatment than has been given in the past. While reducing the cost of postage on the one hand, they are providing a more liberal service on the other. They are showing that they are not adhering to conservative ways or following in a rut. We know that more money will be required by the Department if we carry out this policy. For that reason, I think it is only reasonable that the Department should say to the people of these districts, “ Cooperate with us, give us the assistance which you can render, and we will meet you as far as we can, and provide you with a service.” I know that in the out-back districts of Western Australia farmers can give a much more economical service by cooperating with the Department than can be provided if it has to call for tenders for the carriage of mails, and the residents stand aloof, and do not assist to get a service at a reasonable cost. If we have to submit to the claims of men who are making a living out of running coaches we must be prepared to pay a great deal more for mail services than we have paid in the past. What we are losing will be multiplied several times, and we shall find that we have attempted to do a great . deal more than is possible with the money at our command. The financial aspect of the question cannot be ignored. I hold that, instead of blame, the Government deserve the greatest praise for what they are attempting to- do.. If the financial results should cause surprise in years to come, I hope that those who find fault with the Government to-day will then remember that that Government accepted responsibilities which no other Government had attempted to undertake. For that reason I must oppose the motion. I think that if Senator McColl had taken time to reflect he would have recognised that it is impossible for us to lose sight of financial considerations in regard to services of this kind. I believe that if he had regarded the matter from that stand-point he would not have brought forward the motion. I hope that he will ask leave to withdraw it. I think’ it has been clearly shown that his proposal is utterly impracticable. I feel sure that he does not wish his name to be identified with anything which is utterly impracticable. I hold that the only thing we can do is to allow the Government to carry out their scheme. If it has been a surprise to learn that they are providing for a more liberal mail service in the future than has been provided in the past we ought to be very well satisfied, instead of passing a motion which may be taken as a reflection on the administration of the Department.
.- I had no idea that the consideration of this motion would have taken so long. It has opened up a very interesting discussion. I do not propose to notice the splenetic and somewhat venomous remarks of the Minister of Defence in regard to myself, except to say that I think that they degraded himself and the Government. I had no idea of attacking the PostmasterGeneral or the Government, and I think that I shall prove that before I resume my seat to the satisfaction of any fair-minded man. It has been said that I have been silent for years under this system, but as a matter of fact I was not aware that it was carried on until a few weeks ago.
– Order! I would point out to the honorable senator that he must now speak to the amendment, and that after it has been disposed of he will have the right to reply to anything which the Minister of Defence may have said on the motion itself.
– I cannot accept the amendment, because it not- only departs altogether from the spirit of the motion, but also passes a reflection on previous Governments which they do not deserve. I am quite prepared, in deference to the general wish, to modify the motion so as to make it read -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the policy of the Postal Department in compelling country residents to give a financial contribution for carrying the mails should be reconsidered, with a view to its discontinuance.
I am quite prepared to make that alteration if permitted, in order that the motion may not appear to be so drastic, as some honorable senators suggest it is. I may say that I carefully framed the motion with a view that it should not be offensive. I did not intend it to be offensive in any way. The amendment is not only a reversal of the motion, but it requires the Department to continue an objectionable system.
Amendment agreed to.
.- We have now fixed upon the Department the absolute necessity of continuing this practice, which I believe is a bad one. It has been said that I desire to send mails broadcast over the country at any cost to the Department. Such a thought was never in my mind. We must be ruled by common sense in these things. The Department should give facilities for postal deliveries wherever it can, as many times a week as is possible - if not three times a week, twice a week ; if not twice a week, once a week, and so on. Every resident in a settled district should be able to get a mail at some time during the month. I believe that that could easily be done without incurring great expense, and without charging the residents for the service. If, as Senator de Largie says, £63,000 a year is being lost on the mail services of the country districts, what a small proportion that is of the annual loss of over £500,000 in the working of this Department ! On the country districts depends the stability of this country. It is a very small amount to pay to give these, persons privileges which they need. We have been told that the present Government has been extremely liberal. I said that I would prove that I did not bring forward this motion with a view to discredit the Government or the Postmaster-General. I was very careful to endeavour to ascertain what cost was involved before I gave notice of the motion. I. asked the Department to let me know the amount which was paid by these residents in the various States, so that I could see what the loss would be.
– That is not the cost involved in the motion.
– It is involved in the matters I have dealt with, and that is what the Department understood.
– That is what the Department is getting in payments, but that is not the cost involved in the motion.
– The Department informed me that for five States the amount paid was £731 14s. 6d.
– Is not that the amount which the Department’ is getting under the existing system?
– The motion condemns that system.
– Therefore the Department would lose that amount.
– Yes, and more.
– The Minister has said a very great deal about the liberality of the present Government to the country districts, and what it is doing for the postal services. I said I would show that I did not attack the Government or the’ PostmasterGeneral, but the system. The people who brought this matter under my notice had not this charge made upon them in respect to the mail service to their district until the present Government took action.
– No; it was previous Governments which made the charge.
– Previous Governments made no charge on the people of that district.
– I do not know about that district.
– It was the present Government which made the charge. To show the liberality of the present Government, and how it treats people, let us take the position of the receiving offices. If there is a correspondence of from 100 to 1,000 letters, the postmaster gets £1 a year ; from 1,000 to 2,000 letters, £2 a year; from 2,000 to 3,000 letters, £3 a year; from 3,000 to 4,000 letters, £4 a year ; from 4,000 to 5,000 letters, £5 a year ; from 5,000 to 6,000 letters, £6 a year ; from 6,000 to 7,000 letters, £7 a year; and from 7,000 to 8,000 letters, £8 a year ; which is the maximum amount paid to a receiving office. I do not know how many of these offices there are, because they are not mentioned in the postal report, but that is the miserable amount which is paid. In my opening speech, I did not mention that a charge was imposed on the people of this particular district by the present Government. I will give an individual instance, which I did not mention previously. To-day I received the follow.ing letter -
Melbourne, 4th October, 1911.
Sir, - With reference to your personal representations relative to the allowance paid by this Department to Mr.W. G. Dripps, Receiving Officer, Sylvaterre, for conducting the postal business at that place, I have the honour to inform you the business transacted at the Sylvaterre Receiving Office does not warrant more than£3 being paid for the current’ year.
Acting Deputy P.M.G.
This man got £5 a year for keeping a receiving office.
– What was the revenue ?
– I do not know, but I can state the business done.
– Would it amount to £5 a year?
– There were posted at the office 708 letters and 276 packets, while 2,204 letters and 1,500 packets were received. The postmasters have to sell stamps, which they buy with their own, money, and retail, and for this they get 6d. in the £1. He has to find premises, and be there daily to attend to the mails. The allowance paid to this man has been reduced by this Government, the members of which pride themselves on the way in which they have dealt with the country districts, from £5 to £3 a year. Will any one say that it was my intention to attack the Government when I refrained from disclosing these facts?
– The honorable senator kept them until they could not be replied to.
– I kept them in reserve when I might have made use of them in submitting the motion. I did not bring this matter forward, as Senator Ready has asserted in his green way, to make a little political capital, but because I considered that the people in the country districts are suffering injustice.
– Very likely the man to whom the honorable senator has referred is receiving all the revenue he collects.
– I will ask Senator de Largie whether he considers that £3 a year is a fair allowance to make to a man who handles between 4,000 and 5,000 packets and letters, makes up mails three timesa week, and has to be daily in his office to attend to callers? Talk about a sweating Government and a sweating Department ; sweating has surely readied the climax when such cases can be quoted. However, the matter has been ventilated, and some good may come of my motion, although its terms have been altered in what I consider to be a very unfair manner.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the policy of the Postal Department in compelling country residents to give a financial contribution for carrying the mails has been of great assistance to many country districts in extending to them postal facilities which had been denied by the policy of previous Administrations.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following paper -
Uniform Railway Gauge - Paper by Mr. W. P. Hales, M.Inst.C.E., in regard to uniform railway gauge ; also memorandum by Mr. Henry Deane, M.Inst.C.E., Consulting Railway Engineer.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111005_senate_4_60/>.